Sunday, May 21, 2006

    What I Like About Food

    Do you ever find your inner voice being affected by Jon Stewart's speech pattern? Lately mine sounds something like, "I should go refill my uhhhhhhhhh...... wineglassnow." Or maybe it's just the wine speaking.

    On "The Next Food Network Star," the characters, I mean contestants, constantly talked about their personal "food philosophy." Thus, I'm going to share a little of mine...

    I can't walk and drink at the same time without a straw, am a terror with plastic wrap, have questionable knife skills, and it's been years since I've single-handedly cooked a real meal. I'm sad to say that I'm more of a Sandra Lee "Semi-Homemade" kinda girl these days. I do actually like to cook, but in New York there's a million other things I also like to do that trump hovering alone in the kitchen. I have been known to make a mean chocolate mousse, chocolate bread pudding, or pumpkin pie for a special someone though. And I shake a fine dirty martini (extra olives, extra dirty).

    Some of my favorite foods and ingredients include: roasted garlic, Whole Foods' spinach with roasted garlic, citrus zest and Prune juice, chocolate, coffee, jalapenos, cilantro, cheese (stinky and not so), olives, lobster, oysters, black pepper, truffle everything, licorice, steak, raw salmon, avocado, duck, Boca Chik'n Nuggets, fresh ravioli, ice cream with cake, and Magnolia Bakery's banana pudding and cupcakes. (All cupcakes, cakes, and brownies should be eaten with a spoon. Trust me.)

    Despite my lifelong love affair with pricey foodstuffs, I'm trying very hard not to spend my whole paycheck on food and dining these days, which is tough here as the number of must-try restaurants multiplies faster than Britney Spears. So, my limited budget and I are always on the prowl for fabulous, cheap food and early bird specials. Yes, I'm 27 and already hunting for the early birds.

    Penelope has a shabby chic, country in the city feel that makes you wanna curl up for a long summer's brunch. Lines are long on the weekends, so go early, or put your name in and go back to bed. Last weekend I tried the Sam I Am (eggs scrambled with feta and asparagus), but I usually get the fruit, yogurt and granola bowl (both are $12 and include either a mimosa or coffee and juice). Their granola has coconut and dried cranberries, apricots, and figs! I repeat, dried figs! It's so freaking good they even bag it to go, along with tasty homemade cinnamon buns (my Jon's favorite), cookies, and brownies.

    Another of my favorite female restaurants, Jane, has $12 Sunday dinners -- hanger steak, pork loin, salmon fillet, or burger with fries or salad.

    For an Are my teeth in straight?, Get me my walker, My hair's not blue! early night, I like sitting at the bar at the Haru near Union Square during happy hour, which runs from 5 to 7 p.m. and includes discounted drinks (woo-hoo, lychee martinis for $5 a pop!) and rolls, tempura and such for about $4. The fish is very fresh, and the sushi rice has the right amount of stick to it. Grandma tested, Great-grandma approved.

    Here's what I wrote about one of my favorite holes in the wall (turns out they're soon expanding!) in the New York Press' Best of Manhattan issue last fall:

    Best Non-Alcoholic Drink
    Papelón con Limón at Caracas Arepa Bar
    91 East 7th St. (betw. 1st Ave. and Ave. A)
    Yes, we admit, we're suckers for anything with sugar, and our favorite sweet tooth elixir is the Papelón con Limón at Caracas Arepa Bar. This cheery, miniscule Venezuelan jewel can be identified by the crowd lingering outside, waiting to take a seat in the open-kitchen arepa factory. We can't resist the Domino arepa (black beans with a white, salty cheese) and the Cachapa (a corn and cheese pancake that we like with shredded beef).

    Our beverage of choice, made from sugarcane and lime juice, is sweet yet tart, with a hint of molasses. We always drink it too fast and wish we could order it by the gallon. Our friends look at us with an odd glint in their eyes when we fantasize about being served the Papelón in a solid mass, like the maple sugar chunks sold at the Union Square Greenmarket.

    Caracas, which opened in Summer 2003, was BYOB until recently. We wonder if the owners have considered concocting an alcoholic version of the Papelón, but think it's probably best not to mess with liquid perfection.

    Next week: Four slices at John's Pizzeria

    Photos: Charleston, SC, circa 1980

    1 comment:

    Robyn said...

    I wanna go to Jane! For brunch! Someday.

    I've only been to Caracas once, and I liked it...but not enough to want to go back. :| Unless someone else pays for it, which I guess could apply to anything!

    I don't mind cooking that much, but I don't try hard if I'm cooking just for myself. It's like..."What's the point?" I've made cookies for other people; if I make em for myself I'll eat A MILLION COOKIES, OH LORDY. And of course in NYC there are a million other things to do besides cook. :)