Back by popular demand (hi Mom!).
1. Spanish food from La Nacional/The Spanish Benevolent Society in Chelsea (14th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues). Mediocre mostly. But very authentic in that it felt just like you picked out some random tapa place in Madrid and had a not terrible but not excellent meal. We ordered sangria made with cava, which was the best part. Further research into the place reveals that it has been around since 1868 and is in fact the oldest Spanish restaurant in New York; also that Garcia Lorca himself used to hang out there during his stay in New York. I feel as if I should have liked it more or else spent more money and tried the paella or something. Read poetry in that back room whilst getting wasted on amontillado…
2. Expensive martini at the Art Bar in Chelsea. It had been a very long time since I had a martini. This one was like $8.50 or something (probably normal by now but it was still a shock coming from Central America) but it was very good. And large. I made a mistake in ordering a second and wound up stumbling back to the hotel.
3. Weak coffee with far too much half and half. This was only the first of many creamed-out coffees we got in NY and elsewhere. What is it with the East Coast? These folks are afraid of black coffee. Not only that, but most places do not let their customers manage their own coffee condiments. We had launch a huge fuss to get it black or else deal with the consequences because “just a wee teeny bit of cream only please” or “no cream at all” doesn’t mean squat. We accompanied CJ and Adam in their morning quest for a cheap deli serving breakfasty stuff. In New York you don’t have to walk far, even for cheap, and we ended up in this odd place that featured an ‘Egg on the Roll’ special. CJ and Adam ordered a somewhat sketchy looking breakfast so Joshua and I decided to just go with coffee, which as I mentioned, was mostly half and half. While CJ and Adam ate, we were entertained by some crazy dude who was not satisfied with the deli selections and brought in his own meat. “See this? This here’s corned beef. See? It’s good!” This while he is shoving slices of the stuff into his mouth and gesturing with an additional piece at the counter guy. “Now I want you to make me an Egg on the Roll with this corned beef.” The counter guy refused and there was much nervous laughter on his part, meanwhile the corned beef dude stomped around the place ranting some crazy shit. After a lengthy tirade, he went with the Egg on the Roll minus the corned beef but he was sore about it. So sore that he took the sandwich and then made a stink about paying. There was more nervous laughter. Finally he left, after chucking a dollar at the counter guy. Then we left.
4. Cheap cheese. Ohmygod. Sage derby is only like $10 per pound here and real manchego from the actual country of Spain is even cheaper. I spent nearly 20 minutes in front of the cheese counter agonizing over which to buy to go with our baguette.
5. Street giros near the Rockefeller Center. Good. Cheap.
6. Sushi from Sandobe (167 1st Ave., East Village). Adam researched inexpensive yet good sushi joints in our neighborhood and by the time Joshua and I made it back to the hotel he had decided upon a place called Sapporo East. By the time we walked there, there was a huge crowd and the waiting list was fairly long. We began scoping out neighboring places and decided to take a chance on a newish looking Korean/Japanese place across the street rather than die of starvation in the window of Sapporo East. Food (nigiri): good for the most part. Granted, we hadn’t had sushi for so long that we were beside ourselves just to be served such a variety of raw fish, but the majority was really good. Standouts were the hamachi and sake; totally not a standout was the saba, which was marinated too strongly and texturally unpleasant—too stiff and dry. Fish slices were really large but the rice was not as good as I would have liked—not enough flavor and the sushi chef didn’t put that dab of wasabi under the fish like they normally do. Adam ate primarily rolls and reported that they were definitely better than average.
7. Insanely expensive bagels and cream cheese. Bagel prices have definitely gone up since I last bought bagels. I’ve heard a million things about the splendiferousness that is a New York bagel and well, they sort of seemed like most of the bagels I’ve had before, so hmmm; maybe I don’t know what makes a New York bagel special, aside from the price.
8. Cafeteria at the Metropolitan Art Museum. Way above average cafeteria with a large variety of stuff. Watch out that you don’t build yourself a twenty-dollar salad though. Joshua observed a woman who built a huge plate of cucumber and pineapple chunks, which seems weird when there are so many other very exciting things you could choose like duck and pine nut salad or various marinated antipasti.
10. Sapporo East! (245 E. 10th St.) After a short wait, we got in (it was just Joshua and I this time, a week later). Food was very good; the rice was prepared better here and included the dab of wasabi under the fish. We ordered the fried oysters, which I know seems out of season, but breaded and deep fried (mmm) and we hadn’t had them for so long, we couldn’t help ourselves. They were good but not great. Nigiri was all very good. Standouts were the saba, which was really excellent thankfully—it is one of my favorites, and hamachi; not standouts were the ‘whitefish’ (not sure which one and it was not in Japanese on the menu) and maguro, which looked good but had a bit too much connective tissue in it to be perfect. Fish slices were again very generous.