Friday, July 30, 2010

Peter Luger's, Coney Island, Doughnut Plant, MIlk and Honey and the 53rd & 7th Halal Cart

Work has been seriously kicking my butt.  This week especially has felt like an entire month, and as dumpy as I feel of late, these pictures sure remind me that there are better times out there !  And I just need to revitalize !

So I think we're at Tuesday of my trip, and I had made lunch reservations at Peter Luger's

J and I had gone to Peter Luger's for their famous porterhouse steak last winter.  Tip: if you want to eat at Peter's at a proper time, book FAR in advance.  We had booked a couple of weeks in advance and could only get a 2:35 p.m. reservation for "dinner."  Let me tell ya.  Nothing ends your day quicker than eating a porterhouse for two at 2:35.

So.  We played it smart this time, and went for lunch to try their burgers. 

The bread basket.

Signature sauce.

I have no idea what this sauce is, but every table gets one regardless if steak is ordered or not.

The insides of their onion roll.  Has nice pieces of onion and poppy side inside.  The outsides are a bit chewy, but hey, no pain, no gain.

The $10 burger ended up being more like $13.50 once you add cheese and bacon.  The American cheese I could live without, but c'mon.  The bacon is the main attraction!

Hello, my thick cut beauty.

Hello again from above.

I was too distracted by the bacon to realize there was a burger on the plate too!  The burger was super thick and made of coarsely ground beef.  It had great flavor and needed no additional seasoning.

J splurged and got the fries.  While you don't get a lot of fries, it did appear they had rough cut one whole potato to fry, so there was enough potato for us to share (or J was forced to share :)

We interrupt this broadcast with scenes from a troll-man eating meat OFF OF the porterhouse bone !  This is shocking news.

Leave no meat behind my friends.  I had never seen anyone do this before, but hey, that porterhouse was $100.  Get yo money's worth, shameless!

J and I could not leave without their signature "Holy Cow" sundae, loaded with their aaamaazing schlag (whipped cream).

I just adore sundaes that look like they are made entirely out of hot fudge.

Hello you little cow, peeking out from behind the schlag!  Why don't you come out...

SO I CAN EAT YOU!  (and I totally did)

Schlag.  It's sooo thick and creamy.  I can make some pretty great whipped cream, but nothing tops this schlag.

Or this hot fudge.

Or these awesome gold coins which I snack on at home when I'm feeling fancy.

After we finished up our cow-niverous meal, we unbuckled our jeans and sat back on the F train and headed straight for Coney Island.

We ate lemon Italian ice and watched people on the boardwalk.

And then we ate our crushed peanut butter and blackberry jelly filled doughnut from the Doughnut Plant and watched more people.

Doughnut innies.  Totally tasted like a peanut butter sandwich, and it was great.  I absolutely loved the chewy-yeastiness of it all.

After watching a series of kids dive off the pier and old Russian couples dance at their nursing home, we headed back to Manhattan to relax a bit before checking out a New York speakeasy, Milk and Honey.  This establishment used to be super exclusive; in order to make reservations you had to know their super-secret unlisted phone number.  But since they've become private, offering two types of memberships (expensive, and more expensive), you can now email them and request a reservation.  We lucked out and were able to snag a reservation for 9:30p within just a couple of days.

Non-descript door of Milk and Honey on the Lower East side, posing as a tailor shop from the outside.

The place was ridiculously dark, as speakeasies should be, but in order not to cause any crazy distractions, I only took flashless photos.  Which are useless, but at least you can kind of sense the ambience!  Milk and Honey does not have a drink menu.  Instead, you tell your mixologist (fancy, yes) the flavors you like and what kind of alcohol you prefer, and he will just "take care of you."  I told him I liked ginger and citrus, and he whipped me up a Pimm's Rangoon which had fresh cucumber, candied ginger, fresh muddled strawberries, blackberries and orange.  It was single-handedly the most amazing drink I have ever had.  J had a Dominican mojito (?) and a gin based drink featuring fresh strawberries and foamy egg whites.  All were unique, delicious and so enjoyable.

And then as if we didn't already love the place enough, they brought us a plate with a couple of whole strawberries, a schmear of marscapone in the middle and a generous drizzle of honey across the plate.  The mixologist recommended that we try to get a bite of all three at once to really capture the full delicious effect.  And.  Seriously?  OMGSODELICIOUS.  I have never thought of having strawberry + honey together, but they are a match made in DELICIOUSHEAVEN. 

We ended up spending a couple of hours in the place; it was comfortable, played great old-fashioned music and did not feel rushed at all.  I am hoping for people to come visit soon so I can take them here.  So hip and oh so tasty.

After, we grabbed dinner at midnight from the 53rd & 6th Halal street cart.  My coworker absolutely loves this cart and so do the other masses of New Yorkers and tourists that stand in their line non-stop from 7:30p-4:30a.m. every day.  When J and I arrived there at 11:30p, there were at least 50 people ahead of us in line.   Who are these loons?  Why are we one of them?

Scene from back of the line

53rd and 6th guys in action.  They cook up super chopped grilled chicken and super chopped lamb / gyro meat on rice with some lettuce leaves.  You can order just chicken, lamb or a combo of the two for $6 a plate.  The whole platter ends up weighing about a couple of pounds.

The plate.

The real draw of the place is their "white sauce" which is described as similar to a tzatziki sauce, yogurt based goodness that you drown the whole plate in and go to town.

Example of going to town.

53rd and 6th also have this red hot sauce that is the spiciest sauce I have ever tasted.  I can only tolerate a few drops of it swirled in my rice, but it is really good.  I ended up eating more of that than the white sauce, but you know how I like to keep things spicy.

And that was Tuesday!!
More to come!

178 Broadway
Brooklyn, NY
Peter Luger Steak House on Urbanspoon

379 Grand Street
New York, NY

134 Eldridge Street
New York, NY

@ 53rd and 6th - the real cart is on-site from 7:30p-4:30a only.
New York, NY
Halal Guys - 53rd and 6th (Food Cart) on Urbanspoon

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Met & Flushing Dinner: Xinjiang BBQ Cart, Imperial Palace and The Peking Duck Stall

The next day, J and I explored the majestic beauty that is The Metropolitan Museum of Art.  I am seriously not sure what took me so long to finally visit this museum, but it has to be one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.


Love it.

If you haven't been, please go.  I feel it has ruined all other museums for me (aside from City Museum!).

Here are a few snapshots, but seriously, this museum must be experienced.

One of my favorite rooms in The Met complete with Egyptian ruins and sphinxes.

What I'm going to do if my husband cheats on me.  Muahaha.

 What do you do after visually feasting on gorgeous archeological delights?

You chow down in Chinatown Flushing, yo!

Everytime I go to Flushing, I head straight for the $1 skewers cart, more formally known as the Xinjiang BBQ Cart outside of Chase Bank (39th & Main St).   I just cannot eat anything else.  Must. Have. Lamb. Skewers!

This smoky cart is pure perfection.  They sell three types of meat skewers: chicken, beef and lamb, cooked over a rectangular metal box containing  hot coals, and all for a $1 a piece.  I literally can eat 20 of these skewers.  At least.  I love them that much.  The vendor speaks limited English, but one word transcends all barriers: "Spicy?"  And the answer is ALWAYS yes.  Just do it.  Even if it gives you acid reflux.  It's worth it.

I always get lamb skewers.  I haven't tried any other kind, but I know that the lamb is absolutely magnificent, and as you can see above, fat pieces are well placed between the meaty pieces to produce a juicy, tender, ridiculously spicy, cumin-infused carnivorous sensation.  OMGLOVEITSOMUCH.  This is one of my most favorite foods in all of New York.  And for $1!

I used to go to Flushing only during the day because I was not sure if the skewer cart man was there at night (I'm obsessed!).  But with the help of a bilingual skewer-lover, I learned that this cart is open until midnight!  If only I lived in Flushing, I would eat these skewers as a nightcap everyday.  I'll settle for living by the 7 train though.

With appetizers down, J and I head to the Imperial Palace Seafood Restaurant to try their infamous dungeness crab sticky rice entree noted in the NY Times guide to Flushing

Tools to eat the sticky rice

Imperial Palace's signature dish: dungeness crab with sticky rice.  Large enough to feed two or three.
The rice was seasoned with salty dried shrimp and scallions.  I thought the dish was good but not great.  I felt the crab did not add much to flavor the rice, and at $35/entree, it's a bit steep.  I wish I had bought 35 lamb skewers instead!  Glad we tried it though since I've been lusting after it ever since seeing it in the NYT feature.

The complimentary dessert was a nice treat though: canned longans and canned pineapple.

After, I showed J other nooks and crannies in Flushing including the charming Peking Duck stall specializing in $1 Peking duck buns.  We grabbed one for dessert.

Perfect flavor and lots of duck skin (muahaha!)

I always have the same problem when I go to Flushing.  My eyes are bigger than my stomach.  There is just way too much to eat.  Aah!  I can't wait for Diana to come visit in NYC soon so that we can conquer more of our favorite Chinatown!

Xinjiang BBQ Cart
39th & Main St
Flushing, NY
Xinjiang BBQ Cart on Urbanspoon

Imperial Palace
13613 37th. Avenue
Flushing, NY
New Imperial Palace Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon
Peking Duck Stall
Main St & 40th
Flushing, NY

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Calexico Cart and The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck

The next day, J and I tried out a new food cart for me: Calexico Cart, the 2008 Vendy Awards winner, started by three brothers from Southern California and specializing in California style Mexican cuisine. 

They are known for their carne asada, a brilliantly marinated grilled skirt steak, but also offer chipotle chicken, pollo asada and a mean black bean burrito for you vegheads. 

But if you know me, and I hope you have begun to suspect already: I love me some marinated steak, so it was time to carne asada it up !

Nice organized system.  One brother mans the grill, the other takes orders and handles money.

I ordered a quesadilla, which is rolled here at Calexio Cart and pressed down on the hot grill (shown above)

My rolled quesadilla - unbelievably crispy on tthe outside and...

OOSHY GOOSHY on the inside in the most explosive cheesemelting way

and combine that with the most tender and flavorful steak, I have found my most favorite quesadilla in the entire world.  Exclamation mark, exclamation mark!

J ordered the carne asada burrito which had great heft and a beautiful, flaky tortilla

It came with seasoned rice, black beans, cheese, carne asada and an avocado sauce.  J, a forever Chipotle fan, gave the thumbs up to Calexico stating it was more flavorful, as in everything was more seasoned than Chipotle.

This is known as "crack sauce" and is served with the quesadilla, but you can also buy extra for $1 a container.  It tasted like a spicy mayonnaise a la sushi style, but went well with both the quesadilla and the burrito.  One container was enough for both of us to share (if you're watching your waistline, cause the pound of cheese is clearly fatfree)

After enjoying a stroll through Soho, I showed J the tail end of the Union Square farmer's market and took him by the beloved Big Gay Ice Cream Truck

J ordered the Monday Sundae, which typically features twist ice cream, but since they were out of chocolate, we got only vanilla, drizzled with dulce de leche, sprinkled with sea salt and served in a Nutella lined waffle cone.  J was in bliss.  He thought the salt combined with dulce de leche was wild and perfect.

I tried the Bea Arthur!  Vanilla soft serve topped with dulce de leche and covered in crushed Nilla wafers.

The Nilla wafers were so soft, and though I was completely covered in Nilla wafer crumbs afterwards, definitely enjoyed eating it!

Lunch complete!

Prince & Wooster

Typically at 17th & Broadway