Good to the bone and straight to The Marrow

Even though I’ll still only be a subway (or two) rides away from the West Village, these are the last few days that I’ll actually be a resident of the neighborhood where I’ve spent the last two eventful years. I’ve had some great times and some not so great times here, everything from career changes to heartbreak, to the many friends who’ve crashed on my couch to getting both locked out and locked in my apartment, to laughing to crying and to everything in between. As a final hurrah and farewell, I decided to have one last big meal out in the neighborhood (though I don’t doubt I’ll be back for more soon enough) at The Marrow, Harold Dieterle’s new restaurant.

Paying homage to both the German and Italian parts of his family, Harold Dieterle has another awesome restaurant on his hands (I’m a big Kin Shop fan) that instead of mixing the two cuisines, features them separately on the menu, like different branches of a family tree. Below, how my friend Stas and I celebrated my move across the East River with one more great meal in the West Village.

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Bone Marrow… c’mon, you know we had to

First out was the restaurant’s namesake, the bone marrow, from the Famiglia Chiarelli branch of the starters section. One giant bone halved and filled with a hearty mix of sea urchin, fried potatoes and meyer lemon aioli, with crunchy toast to spread it all on. The sea urchin was not what I was expecting, with a creamy consistency and sort of neutral flavor.

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Prosciutto wrapped dates

From the meat plates portion of the menu, we picked the dangerously tasty prosciutto wrapped dates with gorgonzola. Plump, tender and crazy flavorful, I could, no lie, throw back a dozen of these. Seriously, these guys could get me in a lot of trouble.

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Duck schnitzel

Moving on to main courses, we first picked from the Familie Dieterle branch and ordered the pan-friend duck schnitzel with a nutty spaetzle of hazelnuts and quark (a dairy product of sorts) with cucumbers and stewed wolfberries, which looked kind of like small red beans but tasted like sweet, cooked raisins. (I love beans and raisins so I was totally on board.)

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Stone Bass “Vitello tonnato”

Then crossing back over to the Italian side of the menu, we chose the sautéed stone bass with fingerling potatoes, cippolini onions, briny olives, a creamy tuna belly sauce and what turned out to be my favorite part of the dish, juicy, fried sweetbreads. Usually I feel just lukewarm about sweetbreads but these were tender and delicious, with a nice breaded coating.

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Chocolate budino

Finally, we were faced with a difficult decision: dessert. Everything sounded great, and while the waiter tried pretty hard to sell us on the ginger stout cake (he said it was far and away the most popular dessert), we were both in a chocolate mood and went with the budino with hazelnut brittle and mascarpone. Chocolate pudding can do no wrong in my eyes and this one, with it’s dense creaminess, was just about perfect. This is in no way a complaint, but the thing to note about this dessert is that it’s a pretty hearty serving of chocolate. The two of us, ardent chocoholics, split this and felt pretty satisfied with the amount we each got. (No fighting necessary.)

Like so many other meals I’ve had in the West Village, I walked out happy and stuffed. Which is basically how I’ll be leaving the West Village in general, happy and stuffed full of memories. Brooklyn, here I come.

Kitchen eating

Yes, I know that organic and locally sourced are the ways to eat, and sustainability and eco-friendly are words to incorporate into my everyday lifestyle and eating habits, but I can’t help it. When I hear too many of those tree-hugging, reduce-reuse-recycle words and phrases thrown together I can’t help but think of hippies and nature freaks, granola, steamed veggies and tofu. I know, I’m awful, but I can’t help it.

But never was that less the case than at ABC Kitchen, where I recently had dinner with a friend, after she managed to make a reservation at the consistently full restaurant. Everything, from the “reclaimed wood tables” and “soy based candles” to the “consciously sourced ingredients” was exactly the opposite of what I might have been hesitant about. I can’t say I was really surprised though. ABC Kitchen, located inside the massive ABC Carpet & Home store, is a Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant, and really what doesn’t that guy make awesome?

Crab toast with lemon aioli

Because I was with a friend and not my allergic-to-shellfish boyfriend, I suggested we start with the crab toast from the market table section of the menu. A dark, nutty slice of toast was topped with sweet, meaty hunks of crab meat and a creamy, zesty lemon aioli. No tofu or granola in sight, just two very happy diners. Continue reading

Going Green

Since it opened a couple of years ago, I had always been interested in Green Gables Cafe in Coral Gables, the part of Miami where I grew up and where my parents still live. But it wasn’t until last year during the Fourth of July weekend that I spent in Miami, that I realized I really wanted to eat there. My friend Cristi, whose family owns and operates the small restaurant, made a batch of brownies and brought them to a friend’s pool party and BBQ.

They were dark and chcolatey, moist and wonderfully crumbly and scrumptious.

“Oh my God, Cristi!” I mumbled, my cheeks full of soft, chewy brownie. “These are incredible!”

“Thanks, they’re vegan, black bean brownies.”

If my mouth wasn’t chock full of brownie, I’m sure my jaw would have dropped.

So a couple of weeks ago when I was in Miami, I put eating at Green Gables on my to do list, right under seeing my mom and hanging out with my best friend.

Unfortunately, this is a terrible picture of a fantastic burger. I was too distracted by its tastiness to focus on photography

 Flaneur and I went there on our last afternoon in Miami, and the only thing I regret was not having gone sooner. Cristi was there, since she now works in the kitchen, helping her mom and sister turn out more awesome vegan and vegetarian friendly eats like those black bean brownies I had last summer.

With the brownies clearly still on my mind, I ordered the organic black bean veggie burger, which came on a soft, doughy multi-grain bun. Topped with organic tomatoes and lettuce, a melted layer of gooey mozzarella, and a smooth roasted garlic aioli sauce, this burger was hands down, the most delicious non-meat burger I’ve ever eaten.  It didn’t taste like wannabe meat, and it didn’t taste like a squeaky tofu creation. Instead it was slightly nutty in flavor, with a moist softness to it and a delicious earthiness. It wasn’t slider-sized but given the opportunity, I could have eaten three of them and pretended they were minis.

Pulled chicken sandwich. In a word: awesome.

Flaneur also went with a sandwich, opting for the pulled organic chicken. On the menu it’s normally pulled turkey but they were out of it that day so it was subbed with chicken. Stuffed in a soft baguette were juicy, tender chunks of chicken and soft, buttery hunks of avocado, all drizzled with a zesty cilantro aioli  and paired with fresh romaine lettuce. The whole thing was fresh and clean tasting, with flavorful ingredients and a healthy, guilt free deliciousness.

I don’t doubt that if for some unfortunate reason I still lived at home in Coral Gables, I’d have a good amount of my weekday lunches at Green Gables Cafe. Living at home with my parents would be terrible but I would seek comfort in the warm deliciousness of organic black bean veggie burgers. And that would be wonderful.

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8 million burgers and Five Napkins

In this city of eight million stories, there seems to be a burger for each one. I could make it my life’s ambition to try every burger in New York and I’d fail miserably.

There are places though, that when you mention to people that you haven’t been, their eyes get all wide and their jaws drop.

“Oh, what?” they say in disbelief, “You haven’t been to <insert burger name here>? Well. You just have to go.”

Five Napkin Burger was one of those places. I just hadn’t been to it before. I’d heard all the ooh’s and ahh’s but I just hadn’t made my way there yet. But then recently, I went, and now I’ve become one of those people .

The Original 5Napkin Burger and Tuscan fries

What? You haven’t been? Well, let me tell you. Get yourself there fast. Continue reading

Sandwich love

I’m not what you’d call a hopeless romantic but if there’s one thing I believe in, it’s love at first bite.

This weekend, sitting on a bench at the pier, with the warm sun on my face and a cool breeze blowing through my hair, I absolutely fell head-over-heels in love the moment I bit into a sandwich from Il Cane Rosso, a small sandwich shop and rotisserie in San Francisco’s Ferry Building. It was one of those moments straight out of a movie. Time slowed down and I got all googley eyed as little cartoon hearts burst out of my head. Birds were chirping and there might’ve even been a full orchestra playing. But I couldn’t tell you what else was happening in the world around me because all I had eyes for was the beautiful and ridiculously delicious half of a sandwich I was holding in my hands, the other half still wrapped in brown paper next to me.

Beef brisket sandwich from Il Cane Rosso

Beef brisket sandwich, this is me professing my love to you. Where have you been all my life? Continue reading

Master Fat

I was going through my usual weeknight post-work, post-dinner, pre-bedtime routine of sitting on the couch, TV on, headphone wearing boyfriend next to me, feet propped up on the coffee table, laptop on my lap routine of Facebooking and general online browsing when something I read made me stop cold. My fingers froze over the keys. My eyes shot open and I gasped— a long, over dramatic, hand-to-my-chest gasp.

Recession special

“What is it?” asked Flaneur, looking slightly worried as he pulled off a headphone and paused what he was working on.

I turned the computer toward him, pointing to the screen with Sam Sifton’s latest review.

“The Fatty Crab people opened another restaurant. In Brooklyn. Fatty ‘Cue. ‘Cue as in barbeque. Fatty Crab meets barbeque!”

[Pause]

“We need to go. Soon. Really soon.”

Looking to avoid a long wait (because like Fatty Crab, they don’t take reservations), we went last night, a Wednesday. But because I forgot to write down directions, we stumbled around Williamsburg lost, walking up and down the same street (also, the wrong street) three times before finally realizing that we were a good twelve blocks from where we needed to be. When we finally found it, nestled in between a bunch of ugly buildings on an ugly street, I had worked up a monstrous appetite. Continue reading