How I’d like to survive summer

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Hello, summer.

How any of us musters the will to do anything at all in this sweltering, suffocating, New York city summer heat is beyond me. Showing up to work, going to the gym, running errands, riding the God forsaken moving sweat lodge that is the subway— I don’t wanna do any of it.

All I feel like doing from now till October is sitting in the shade with a frosty drink in my hand and a spread of summery food in front of me and some good company to enjoy it with. That’s not so much to ask for, is it?

It’s what I did recently at Red Hook’s Brooklyn Crab and let me tell you, it was pretty freakin’ spectacular. It was what every summer day should be like.

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THIS! This is how I wanna do summer.

A couple of friends and I sat on the top deck of the open seafood shack, where there was enough sun that we needed sunglasses but also a breeze coming off the water to make it bearable. We had frozen margaritas out of bendy straws, a cold pitcher of beer and lots of delicious, garlic-buttery seafood: a whole platter of Alaskan king, Snow, and Dungeness crabs, and lobster, too, with coleslaw, corn on the cob, roasted potatoes and jalapeño cornbread to go with it. There were oysters and peel-and-eat shrimp and fried calamari, as well, because sometimes, well… it’s summer and you have to celebrate.

It’s too hot to do anything else, really.

Pumped

While having dinner at the too-cool-for-my-own-good Pump Room at the swanky Public Chicago hotel, I came to a realization: I’d love to be one of those travelers that just seems to hang out all day, lounging around the lobby of their plush hotel, requesting 11am wake-up calls and then worrying only about when their in-room massage is scheduled or what time dinner is.

If I was one of those travelers, which time and money constraints keep me from being, I’d check in to a place like the Public, and just bask in the awesomeness of it all. More precisely, I would eat three square meals a day at The Pump Room, and sip cocktails in between (and during) meals in the uber chic bar or the stylish lobby. (This would also all take place during winter so I wouldn’t have to leave the hotel. )

Alas, I’m not that kind of traveler. But during an awesome dinner at the Pump Room during my recent jaunt with the beau, I pretended to be, at least for the duration of dinner. The Jean-Georges restaurant seems to have borrowed lots of menu items from another JG restaurant, the always-without-fail delicious ABC Kitchen in New York, which was more than fine by me since that pretty much guaranteed the food would be amazing. And it was.

Lessons in deliciousness: coating calamari in pretzel crumbs.

The boy and I started out with an order of pretzel dusted calamari, something I’d already had (and loved) at ABC. With both a tangy, sweet marinara sauce and a creamy, spicy mustard aioli, this was just more of a good thing. Every city in the world should have a place to get this dish.

It’s always a good time for flatbread, especially if it involves truffles.

And because I don’t believe in holding back while on vacation, we also got one of Pump Room’s whole wheat flatbreads, the one with black truffle, fontina and frisee salad. It was just the right amount of doughy, cheesy and truffley (yea, I know, not a real word).

Fried chicken on a bed of spinach, wait for it, in spicy butter. Mind blown, huh?

For the entree, I went with fried organic chicken cause really, is there anything harder to resist than good fried chicken? This one came with spinach and a velvety, fiery homemade hot sauce butter. Crunchy skin, tender, juicy meat, and spinach to make you understand Popeye a million times over. Heaven on a dish, no lie, people.

Short rib and pureed potatoes. YES please.

Flaneur ordered the glazed beef short rib with potato puree and a crunchy, cheddar garnish.The spicy peppers gave a tasty heat to the hearty, delicious meat. I’m never a huge fan of short ribs, but this could make a believer out of anyone.

Dessert

And finally, because I wouldn’t dare leave a restaurant like this without dessert, we split the creme fraiche cheesecake with blood orange sorbet, fennel crisps and kumquat marmalade. With its creamy consistency and fresh, clean fruity flavors, it was a nice, subtle note to end the dinner on. I could have eaten four more though, just for the record.

A new obsession in an unlikely place

I’m gonna come clean about something: I kind of really don’t like Little Italy. The spaghetti and meatballs (not Italian), the guidos (obnoxiously not Italian), the greasy haired waiters standing on the sidewalk trying to lure customers with “Ciao bella!” (Listen buddy, it didn’t work in Italy, it sure as hell isn’t working on grimey ass Mott Street.) All of it just bugs me.

But now that I’ve been to Parm, the Torrisi spinoff located smack dab in the middle of Little Italy on Mulberry Street, I’m willing to overlook everything I dislike about the neighborhood because here’s my next confession: I’m kind of obsessed with Parm.

The best calamari I've ever had

When I was in college, I had a serious love affair with Krispy Kreme, especially when their famous “Hot Doughnuts Now” sign was lit up. When I walked into Parm and noticed they have a similar sign, this one advertising calamari, I got that same giddy rush.  The sign is modest though, because if it were up to me it would read, “THE BEST DAMN CALAMARI IN THE WORLD. HERE NOW.” Seriously, that good. Battered and fried to a perfect not-too-chewy or rubbery consistency, Parm’s calamari are soft and juicy with chunks of spicy fried peppers added in for an extra kick. And while it comes with the classic tangy marinara sauce, Parm’s also comes with a delicious Tabasco infused mayo. Continue reading

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