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Friday, August 14, 2009


Who would have thought some small place on Carmine with the generic name Noodle Bar would be great?
These guys definitely know their noodles and spices. No way, no how are they shy with spices.
We started off with some Sichuan-peppercorn crusted calamari with wasabi aioli. Calamari was more flash fried than deep and the wasabi aioli made the dish hit home.

Now I noticed everyone was ordering pad thai with coconut shrimp, and yea, it looked good, but come on...Every table?!? We went with Bee Hong Goreng (rice vermicelli, egg, bean sprouts, Chinese chives, shredded snow-peas) with nice, plump shrimp; and Tom Yum Bouillabaisse (rice vermicelli, Manila clams, squid, shrimp, scallops, hot & sour broth). This stuff already has major taste, then throw a little sriracha sauce on and Holy Mackrel! Go without the side of soggy kimchee...2 beers, app, 2 noodle dishes and kimchee = $44

26 Carmine Street between Bedford & Bleecker

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hallooooo Deliciousness

I work in an area (50th & Broadway)where little, hidden gems can be uncovered any day of the week. I certainly didn't discover Hallo Berlin as they have their infamous cart on 54th & 5th Avenue, which ALWAYS has a line. Luckily, HB Express is an avenue away on 50th & 9th Avenue, and had NO line, or even a crowd for that matter.

After all these years, I finally got a taste of why folks patiently wait in line. Since I was a wurst-virgin, I asked the gentleman to pick what he thought was the best order and make me become a repeat sausage consumer. He chose the kielbasa on a perfect, crusty bun topped with fries (potatoes), onions,wine/redkraut and mustard. Holy tastebuds!!!! I could literally taste every single one of these ingredients with each bite! The side of potato and cucumber salad was tasty as well. It was mixed with vegetable oil, but not oily, mustard and a touch of dill. The portion was quite healthy as well...was absolutely enough for two.

It's a great lunch spot for under $10. I was told next time to get the wurst combo with a beer for $10. What a deal!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Swept Away A Fork in the Road: La Ginestra (Glen Cove, NY)

Yesterday I came to see my close friend, Chris, in the land of quiet Oyster Bay. He's been raving about a quaint, 20-year old restaurant in Glen Cove by the name of La Ginestra (broom in Italian). Typically, this type place I wouldn't write about, however, it was just TOO good to pass up.

Chris likes to eat AND order. Sometimes, I think his eyes are much bigger than his appetite, but somehow we always seems to finish everything. The restaurant is like a small, Tuscan home with Enzo, the Sicilian, presiding over the kitchen. The rooms are classic Tuscan colors with wooden ceilings and beams with fresh, colorful flowers on each table.

Antipasti included carciofi (fried artichokes) and fried zucchini with corncakes on top of mixed greens. Much to my surprise, the zucchini was actually fried with creamy ricotta cheese which combined well with corncakes. The artichokes, while beautiful on the plate, needed salt, could have been smaller and crispier sans the lake of olive oil and parsley. Manicotti was primi and fan-freakin-tastic~One long piece of manicotti that didn't even taste like pasta...just ricotta cheese encased in a thin layer of delicate pasta with a light tomato sauce.

I decided earlier in the evening if I was going to La Ginestra, I was going big! So, I got Costoletta di Vitello Giardiniera which translates to a big, lightly breaded veal chop; and when I say perfection, I mean it! Chris's pignoli crusted branzino in balsamic reduction wasn't bad either, but I couldn't get enough of the veal. Ate the entire thing accompanied by a Sicilian red wine only served to regulars.

If you're ever in the area, this is where you want to go. It ain't cheap, but all that fabulous food, wine and atmosphere for $199, isn't outrageous.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Halal Cart on 17th Street & 9th Avenue

Don't eat much cart food in NYC, but didn't want to spend a fortune last night and happened to be meeting friends at The Maritime. The Halal cart on 9th Ave between 16th and 17th happens to be very good. My biggest fears of these carts is food poisoning; but for some reason this guy's cart has always attracted me, mainly because the food is cooked on the inside of the cart and looks sanitary. The other fear, fatty pieces of shredded chicken.

It was late, so I let him do the choosing, although there wasn't much choice. Chicken...just chicken in kebob form or chicken shredded on a bed of rice. He smothered the chicken and rice with white sauce and hot sauce. Ah-mazing! Not one piece of fat...definitely worth a try!

Ghandi Cafe

It is rare I venture to Bleecker Street or even use it as a route to get to Carmine, but on this particular night I tried Ghandi Cafe. It's also a rarity to have Indian delivered that I've actually enjoyed since I'm a big fan of Dawat in Midtown. After walking past it twice that evening, I walked in and sat in the dimly lit and almost empty restaurant.

Upon ordering, Roti is brought to the table along with a trio of tamarind, coriander and marinated onion condiments. I had never been to a place where coriander sauce was served an electric green color; but I dip, and alas, there is amazing sweet taste in my mouth. I ordered Chicken Tandoori (chicken marinated in yogurt and mild spices) and Aloo Gobi (potatoes, cauliflower and peas simmered in an onion tomato sauce) with a side of basmati rice and naan. I happen to be obsessed with dipping naan in tamarind sauce, although at Ghandi I kept dipping it in the coriander sauce.
The tandoori chicken was served on a sizzling skillet on a bed of onions and WOW!!! When I order Indian and tandoori chicken, it usually shows up in tasteless, fatty chunks, but not here! Real chicken here people...tender and tasty. Aloo Gobi was decent, although a small portion, and served with a side of bland rice. All and all it was a good experience and will most likely be ordering from here.

The waitstaff is extremely attentive throughout the meal which made it a pleasant dining experience.

283 Bleecker Street
NY, NY 10014

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Ring Around 12 Chairs

I'm thrilled this was the first place I started the blog. When I walk in, I immediately notice Hebrew spoken by staff and patrons. In my book, this IS representation of an authentic, or at least a somewhat authentic Israeli establishment. While living in Miami, I ate homemade Israeli and at Israeli restaurants every weekend. Since my return to NYC in 2007, I have yet to find much Israeli dining.

I went with my friend Natalie on a rainy Saturday for lunch. Much to my surprise, Nat wasn't feeling too adventuresome that day and decided upon an omelet which she seemed to enjoy. I, on the other hand, went with Jachnun, a traditional Sabbath dish. The ingredients are primarily flour and margarine, packed tightly and warmed on low heat overnight....yes, very healthy I know! This usually results in a delicious dish, however, not so much here. The taste of the dish was there, but the ends had been overcooked which resulted in hard ends and bottom. My arms/hands got a workout from all the cutting! The eggs and tomato sauce were decent as well as the bread basket. It's an extremely difficult dish to recreate, so my expectations were low going in.

I will return here as the atmosphere is chill and the price point is there. The schnitzel is supposed to be fantastic and don't know how you can go wrong with anything fried!

12 Chairs
56 MacDougal Street
NY, NY 10012
(212) 254-8640