Musings about Food & the Politics of Food.

TartQueen's Kitchen

Archive for April, 2012

Mom’s Favorite 0

Posted on April 30, 2012 by Sahar

Angel Food Cake has always reminded me of my Mom.  Why?  Because it’s her favorite.  Because it’s something that makes her happy. Because it’s something seemingly delicate yet strong.

Her mother made it for her birthday every year with chocolate sauce.  If I happen to be with  Mom on her birthday, I always make Angel Food Cake.

I also like it because it’s delicious.  It tastes a little like toasted marshmallows to me.


Some food historians believe that the Angel Food Cakes were likely baked by African-American slaves in the early to mid 19th Century, since making this cake required a strong beating arm and lots of labor to whip the air into the whites.  Angel Food Cakes are also a traditional African-American favorite at post-funeral meals.

In “Mrs. Porter’s New Southern Cookery Book, and Companion for Frugal and Economical“, published in 1871, has a recipe for “Snow-Drift Cake”. A similar recipe appears in 1881 in a book by Abby Fisher, the first Black American woman and a former slave from Mobile, Alabama, who recorded her recipes in a cookbook called “What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking, Soups, Pickles, Preserves, Etc.”. Her book has a cake recipe named “Silver Cake”.

The Original Boston Cooking School Cook Book” by Mrs.D.A. Lincoln published in 1884 had a recipe for “Angel Cake” mentioning the name for the first time. In Fannie Merritt Farmer’s 1896 updated version of the “Boston Cooking School Cook Book“, she uses the same recipe and calls the cake “Angel Food Cake.”

(some historical information from Wikipedia)


There is the school of thought that Angel Food Cake was so named because of it’s lighter color and texture.  It is suitable for the Angels to eat.  On the other hand, it’s slightly more decadent counterpart, Devil’s Food Cake, is darker, richer, and is considered more sinful. Exactly what the Devil would eat.

It reminds me of Muhammad Ali’s statement, ” Angel food cake is the white cake, but the devils food cake is chocolate. When are we going to wake up as a people and end the lie that white is better than black?”

I just had to add that.  It’s always stuck with me.


Once again, now to the recipe:

Now, to be honest, an Angel Food Cake isn’t for the cake-making novice.  There are so many things that could, can, and will go wrong if you don’t have the confidence and expertise when you bake.

Hell, things could still go wrong even if you do have plenty of baking experience.  I can tell you that with all sincerity.


Angel Food Cake Ingredients


1/2 c. 10x, or Confectioners, sugar

1 c. Pastry Flour (I admittedly use bleached in this recipe.  Just this recipe)

10 ea. Egg Whites (be sure they’re room temperature)

1/2 tsp. Cream of Tartar

2 tsp. Vanilla or Almond Extract (be sure to get pure extract, not imitation flavoring)

1 c. Granulated Sugar


1.  Preheat the oven to 350F.

2.  Sift together the 10x sugar and the pastry flour.  Set aside.

The sifted 10x sugar & pastry flour


When you measure out the pastry flour and 10x sugar, be sure to use the scoop & sweep method of measuring (see “Baking the Perfect Biscuit”, 12/18/11).  Otherwise, your cake runs the risk of having too much dry ingredient weight and you’ll deflate the whites and end up with a heavy cake that won’t rise.

2.  In a large mixer bowl, pour in the egg whites.

The 3-Bowl method of separating eggs.


There is a kind of art to separating eggs.  When you want egg whites, that’s all you want, egg whites.  Any additional fat (i.e. yolks) in the whites will keep them from potentially reaching full volume. Hence the 3-bowl method for separating egg whites.

You break the egg into one bowl.  If the yolk isn’t broken, you carefully lift it out of the bowl  and place it in the second bowl.  Then you pour the white into the third bowl.  If the yolk breaks, you pour the whole egg in with the yolks.  If there is any yolk left in the first bowl, wash it out or get a clean bowl.

By using this method, you’ll always have pure egg whites ready for your cake.

Cover the yolks and use them for something else.  Like a very rich omelet or lemon curd.


3.  The next thing you want are for your egg whites to be at room temperature.  This allows for the proteins in the whites to relax and allow the strands to be broken so they will incorporate more air as you whip them.

Add the whip attachment to your mixer (or break out your hand mixer).  Add the cream of tartar to the whites (this helps with the stabilization of the whites as you whip them).  Begin beating the whites at medium-high speed until they form soft peaks. Add the extract.

Just starting to whip the egg whites.


Frothy stage.


Almost to soft peak stage. Notice how the whites are becoming shinier and the bubbles are getting smaller.


Egg whites at soft peak stage. When you pull the whisk or beaters out of the whites, there will be a distinct peak, but it will bend a bit. And the egg whites are still soft.


4.  Continue whisking the whites until they form stiff peaks.

Egg whites beaten to stiff peaks. The whites will have a bit of a shine and the peaks will stand straight when you pull the whisk or beaters out. The whites will also feel almost heavy.


When you get to still peak stage, you want to be sure not to over beat the whites.  If you do that, the whites will begin to separate.  The whites will dry and the liquid will seep out.  There is no saving it.  You have to start over if this happens.


5.  Lower the speed of the mixer to low and slowly pour in the granulated sugar.  You don’t want to put all the sugar in at once because you want to give the whites a chance to dissolve the sugar and mix in more evenly.

Incorporating the sugar.


Raise the speed again to medium-high and continue beating the whites until they become stiff and shiny.  Again, take care not to over beat.

The beaten, sweetened egg whites. Just lovely.


6.  Carefully turn the whites out into a large, shallow bowl.

The egg whites in the bowl. You have to be careful when transferring because you don't want to deflate the whites.


Sift the reserved flour and 10x sugar mixture in 1/3rd’s over the whites and fold the dry ingredients into the whites.

Folding is a method of mixing that is much more gentle (if done properly) that will keep the deflation of the whites to a minimum.  Because the millions of air bubbles in the whites are what make the cake rise (hot air rises), you want to deflate them as little as possible.



Folding: Step 1


To fold the dry ingredients into the whites, Step 1:  Take a rubber spatula and put it into the center of the whites.

Folding: Step 2


Step 2: Slide the spatula underneath the whites and begin to bring it up the side.


Folding: Step 3


Step 3: Bring the spatula up over the tops of the whites and fold the whites back down into the center.  Turn the bowl a 1/4 turn and repeat until you have all of the dry ingredients incorporated.  Try not to over mix. Be as gentle as possible.



After the dry ingredient have been folded into the whites.


7.  Carefully move the batter into an ungreased Angel Food Cake Pan:

2 pieces of an Angel Food Cake pan: The Bowl and Chimney/Base.


The pan together. The chimney is to help with more even baking of the cake. This cake pan belonged to my Great Aunt Arlene.


There are two main reasons you don’t want to grease the pan: a) because you don’t want any fat to impede the rising of the whites; and b) the whites will use the dry pan to hold on to and even use it to climb up the sides of the pan during baking.


The cake ready for the oven


8.  Bake the cake for 35 minutes, or until the cake springs back when touched on top.

Cake fresh from the oven. The top will have a slightly crispy texture.


9.  As soon as possible after the cake is taken from the oven, invert the cake pan onto a narrow-necked bottle (a wine bottle is perfect).  This will help keep the deflation of the cake to a minimum (by keeping it it from collapsing under it’s own weight).  There will be some deflation as the cake cools no matter what because as the air in the cake cools, the lighter hot air dissipates and the heavier cool air takes its place.


Cooling the cake over a rather nice merlot.


Leave the cake in this position until it is completely cooled.


10.  When the cake is completely cooled, run a knife around the outer edge of the cake to help release it from the bowl of the pan.  Pull, carefully, on the chimney and pull the cake out.



At this point, you can do one of two things to finish releasing the cake: a) Run a knife around the chimney and around the base to release the cake; or, do what I do, and, b) simply run a knife around the center and cut pieces off as needed.  Then I store the uncut cake in the pan and cover it.

Wish Mom was here right now.


Sorry about the lighting. My bulbs seem to be a little yellow.  I swear the cake is white.

This cake, by the way, is excellent with chocolate sauce and strawberries.  Mmm…











Points East: A Chronicle 2

Posted on April 24, 2012 by Sahar

Well, my goal of  posting each day while I was on the East Coast didn’t materialize.  Surprisingly, for one of the most wired cities on the planet, my internet access was spotty.  Then, when I finally arrived home, I realized the monumental task of editing and labeling the photos I took. So, yeah. I went a little shutterbug crazy.  But the results, I’d like to think, are worth the wait.

Admittedly, I did get a little artsy with some of the photography.  These iPhone camera apps are great.

Not all my photos will be of food.  I’ll be adding a little scenery, too.  Why the hell not.


On our first full day, Sister Haneen took Husband Steve & I up to the Hudson Valley to the FDR Library & Museum.  We’d never been that far upstate so we were looking forward to it.  It didn’t disappoint.  It was a lovely, warm day.

Husdon River Valley behind Springwood, FDR's home.


Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take any pictures inside Springwood.  Too bad, really.  It’s quite lovely inside. It’s pretty much just stuck in the 1940’s.

But, as was typical of large homes built in the 19th century, the kitchen was separate from the rest of the house.  We couldn’t go inside, but I could at least get a picture:

Kitchen at Springwood.


For those of you who are history buffs, like me, here’s FDR’s globe:

FDR's globe.


It was neat looking at a globe with countries that no longer exist.


After we were finished there, we got directions to the Eveready Diner. Apparently Guy Fieri filmed his show there once. I tried not to hold that against them.

Eveready Diner. Hyde Park, NY


I had the French Dip. It wasn’t the best I’d ever had.  But, the food was good enough and the atmosphere was fairly quiet (but then, it was almost 3 in the afternoon). They’re apparently known for their pastries and desserts that they make in-house.


On our first foray into Manhattan, Husband & I enjoyed a lovely lunch at Eataly in the Flatiron District.

The Flatiron Building


Union Square Park. Across from Eataly. Flatiron District.


Admittedly, we indulged.  Our appetizer (or, antipasti) was a ball of fresh mozzarella with fleur de sel, very fruity olive oil, and fresh basil.

Our appetizer at Eataly



Husband Steve had a lovely sea scallop with the coral broiled with orange-fennel butter.

Husband Steve's Lunch.


My lunch was fresh sea urchin with a lemon vinaigrette.

The Author's Lunch


We finished with the insalada tricolore.  It was wonderful.

End Of Lunch Salad

Eataly is a sensory delight.  Even if Italian food isn’t your favorite.  The fresh food counters, the packaged foods, the hundreds of different dried pastas, and all the restaurants make a trip to the grocery a pleasant experience again.  That is, of you go before or between the lunch and dinner rushes.

Fresh meat counter at Eataly


Seafood counter at Eataly


Fresh Greens. Eataly


The next day, we took a trip to the Seventh Level of Hell. Otherwise known as Times Square.

Times Square.


Andy Warhol Statue near Times Square. Enjoying its 15 minutes of fame.



We headed to the Edison Cafe for lunch. It’s in the Edison Hotel right off of Times Square near the Theater District.

Arches inside Edison Cafe. Old school.


Husband Steve had the Reuben:

Reuben at Edison Cafe


I had my usual whenever I go to a deli,  a Corned Beef on Rye. Their corned beef was dry, but the flavor was good.

Corned beef on rye.


Now to share a little culture.  Husband Steve & I took a long afternoon and went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met). I was excited because the museum just re-opened it’s Islamic Art wing as well as re-designed and refurbished its American Art wing.  Can’t go wrong there.

Folio page from a Qu'ran. 14th Century Iraq.


Mihrab. Iran. 14th Century. (Marks the direction of Mecca in the mosque)


Still Life: Balsam Apples with Vegetables. Charles Peale, 1820-1830


Madame X. John Singer Sargent (one of my favorite American artists). There's a book about this painting. Get it. It's great.


Can't get much more American than this. Washington Crossing the Delaware. Emanuel Leutze. 1851


On our way to Penn Station to catch the train back to New Jersey, we came across Cupcakes by Melissa

Itty bitty Cupcakes by Melissa


These were delicious little literally bite-sized cupcakes that come in 11 regular flavors and one “special flavor of the month”.  We picked up a dozen to take back to share with Sister Haneen & Brother-in-Law Mark.

Closer view of Melissa's cupcakes


If you’re like me, you’ll be able to eat these in one bite. If you’re dainty like my Mom, two bites.


The next day, strolling through Chinatown, as always, I found some fun and interesting foods

Lovely little dried veggies and seafood. Chinatown.


Almost bought these for the hell of it.


Dried salted squid.


The next day, a little more culture. MoMA

Still Life with Apples. Paul Cezanne


Starry Night. Vincent Van Gogh.


Waterlilies. Detail. Claude Monet

After MoMA, Steve & I went with our friend Rorie (who graciously came down from Boston for the day) to a place I’ve been wanting to try for years: Sake Bar Hagi.

Sake Bar Hagi


They’re a late night place. Open at 5:30 pm until 3 am.  You go down a stairwell to essentially an underground lair. We discovered the day before (during a bar crawl with Haneen & Mark) that if you don’t get there essentially when they open, count on at least a 45-minute wait. Minimum.  So, we were there promptly at 5:30 and were the first table seated for the night. The place was packed within 20 minutes of our arrival.

Tako Yaki with Bonito. Essentially fried balls of dough with octopus. Yum.


Wasabi Dumplings. Horseradishy.


Yakatori. Wagu Beef; Chicken Skin; Pork Belly. Always delicious.


Softshell Crab Tempura. We ordered this twice.


Grilled Rice Cakes. One was filled with shad roe (an acquired taste) and the other was salmon.


Front: Deep fried Pork Belly (can't go wrong there); Back: Shrimp Tempura. By this point, we were hurting


When we left, about 90 minutes later, the line was up the stairs and out the door.

If you get an opportunity to go to Hagi, do it.  The food’s great, the beer’s cold, and the service is, if not always attentive, it’s at least efficient.

Our next big food experience happened on a trip into Newark.  Haneen said there was a restaurant in the Portuguese section of the city that she really liked.  She made a great decision:

Sister's restaurant choice in Newark. Good Choice.


Fresh Clams on the Half Shell. A revelation for me.


We each ordered our own entree.  However, we had no idea how huge the plates were.  The food was served on plates that were essentially meant to be passed around family style.  There was enough food on each plate for two people.  We each ate our fair share, though.

My lunch. Grilled Octopus. The boiled vegetables were excellent, too. They actually had flavor.


Steve's choice. Grilled Salmon with Compound Butter. His favorite.


Haneen's Choice. Essentially "Cod Face". It tasted better than it looked. She ordered it because there were chick peas on the side.


On Steve’s last evening in the City, we went to Central Park West & the Upper West Side.  We were meeting a lady of whom I’m a huge fan, comedienne Maysoon Zayid.  We were early, so we wandered around Central Park for a bit.

Central Park West


Springtime in Central Park


No trip to Central Park West is complete without a visit to Strawberry Fields.


We went to Josie’s on Amsterdam & West 74th.  I was told when it first opened in 1994, it was supposedly The Place To Go Restaurant for fresh ingredient foods.  It was good, but nothing was a revelation for me.  In fact, Maysoon had to send back her shrimp because it was bad.  She did like the beet salad they substituted for her.  And she also liked my pasta with pomodoro.

I was so engaged in conversation that I forgot to take pictures of the food.

A photo of us.  The lighting doesn’t do Maysoon justice.  She’s a beautiful woman.

At Josie's with the lovely, beautiful & very funny Maysoon Zayid.



For Steve’s final meal in New York City, we met up with my dear friend, the wonderful Kelly Ann (with whom I’d be bunking for the next week), and headed to Katz’s Deli for lunch. It’s very close to her place in the East Village, so it was a logical choice.

It’s touristy and pricey, but if you enjoy excellent corned beef & pastrami, it’s still the place to go.

Reuben and Egg Cream. Katz's Deli. Steve's choice. Of course.


And, yes. I ordered the Corned Beef. The best I’ve ever tasted.  And a Chocolate Egg Cream? A must-have.

Quite possibly the greatest corned beef sandwich ever. Corned Beef on Rye with Mustard. Katz's Deli.


After Steve handed me off to Kelly and took the train back to NJ to fly back home, Kelly & I decided to begin our food adventures.  I suggested a place that I’d heard about on Anthony Bourdain’s show.

Big Gay Ice Cream. You just can't go wrong here.


The guys who opened the shop started out in a truck.  They became so popular, they were able to open a brick-and-mortar.

I wish I had gotten a photo of what we had: The Salty Pimp.  A cone with vanilla soft serve, laced with Dulche de Leche, sprinkled with Fleur de Sel, and dipped in chocolate.  We ate it too fast for me to take a picture.

They have custom cones (like the Bea Arthur: vanilla soft serve, Nilla Wafers, Dulch de Leche, and Fleur de Sel), ice cream sandwiches, and a make-your own selection.

I saw two gentlemen standing outside near us eating the sandwiches.  I asked how they were.  They said great and offered Kelly & I a bite.  After some initial hesitation, I took him up on his offer.  It was red velvet cookies with the soft serve.  Wow.

After a lovely conversation about ice cream, food, and the South, we parted company.  Amazing how ice cream brings people together.

Needless to say, Kelly & I went back to BGIC 2 more times.  Hey, it’s in her neighborhood. And it’s always good to shop at local businesses.


The next day, Thursday, was a long day.  Kelly & I started at 8am and didn’t finish our day until 1am Friday.  Because it was IACP Tour & Event Day.

Kelly assigned me to help out with the walking tours for the West Village, East Village, and to escort a group to Chef Hiroko Shimbo’s home for a Kaiseki (formal Japanese) Dinner.  Kelly helped me out with the first part of the West Village tour, then she had to leave to take care of her own tours (so, we didn’t meet up again until late in the evening at the end of Hiroko’s dinner).

I was left in the very competent hands of the amazing Liz Young.  She does bus & walking tours in the City (  If you get the opportunity to take a tour with her, do it.  Liz is just wonderful.  And she knows the places to go.  You won’t be disappointed.

The wonderful & amazing Liz Young


We started in the West Village & Greenwich.  Our first stop was Pasticceria Rocco.

Rocco's. On Bleecker St. in the West Village


They’ve been open since 1974 and are apparently world-famous for their cannoli. We were given a small custard pastry and coffee for samples.  While I’m sure they have plenty of wonderful pastries, I wasn’t impressed by what we were given.

But, the counters were pretty.

Rocco's front window.


Lovely little pastries at Rocco's


Rocco's pastry counter #2


Our next stop was Florence Meat Market on Jones Street.  One of the last of the old-school butchers in NYC:

Florence's front window. I just thought it was cool looking.


Old style butcher. A dying breed.


Next was Fiacco Pork Store on Bleecker.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get pictures of the samples – parmesan rice balls.  They were delicious:


By this point in the day, I was already full.


Next was Murray’s Cheese Shop, also on Bleeker. It was gorgeous.

Cheese straws at Murray's. Mmm...


Murray's charcuterie counter


Cheese counter at Murray's


Next came Raffetto’s.  It’s been around since 1906.  Once you try their fresh pasta, you’ll know why.  It was so good, it literally brought tears to my eyes.

The wonderful Andrew and his great mom Ramona. And Liz.


The amazing Ramona with fresh cut pasta. The machine behind her is 90 years old.


Raffetto's grocery shelves


Ramona & Liz.


West Village. Sullivan Street.


Beautiful church across from Joe's Dairy.


After a little hike, we ended up at Joe’s Dairy on Sullivan Street.  The great Vincent came out and acted as guru of mozzarella.

The great Vincent. NYC's Mozzarella Guru.

This mozzarella was literally 5 minutes old.


Brother Michael making the mozzarella. Joe's Dairy.


The final stop on the West Village Tour was Amorino Gelato by NYU.  I didn’t have any because I was already full from everything else.  But it sure looked good.  The people on the tour enjoyed it.

Amorino's flavors.


Very handsome and very Italian store manager. I forgot his name. Shame.


5th Ave. near NYU.



Next, after a 30-minute rest, Liz & I headed out for the East Village walking tour.

East Village.


East Village. Looking down Second Ave.


We started at Veselka, an Eastern European restaurant on Second Street.  It was opened in 1954 by Ukrainian immigrant Wolodymyr Darmochwal.  His daughter and son-in-law still run the restaurant.




Perogies. The house specialty. Potato and Cabbage & Pork. This was a sample plate. Even after working off the previous tour's food, these filled me up.


Our next stop was Pomme Frites on 2nd Ave.  It’s one of my friend Kelly Ann’s favorite places to go.  One of these days I’ll have to try their poutine.

Pomme Frites on 2nd. Ave. East Village


Pomme Frites up close. Decadent.


Off we then wandered to the underground wonderland that’s Jimmy’s No. 43.  You literally go down a flight of stairs on E. 7th into a cozy spot where you can get some wonderful craft beers, locally made sausages with fabulous mustards, and your amiable host, Jimmy Carbone.

Jimmy Carbone. Hugs all the men and kisses all the ladies.


The entrance to Jimmy's lair.


Mmm... Beer


Can't go wrong with sausage and mustard with beer.



One street over on St. Marks (essentially 8th Street), on the edge of Alphabet City, was Dumpling Man. Hand made dumplings.

Dumpling Man!


We got a live demonstration from their head dumpling master.  He was amazing to watch.  Flying fingers, this guy had:

Makin' the dumplings.


Dumplings frying. Pork, Shrimp, Veggie.


Veggie Soup Dumplings


Their own creation, Pumpkin Spice Dumplings. They smelled great and the crowd loved 'em.


The dumplings there were so good, Kelly Ann & I ordered them for dinner three nights later.  Great dipping sauces, too, by the way.


A little impromptu public art.


At this point, I left the tour.  I had to go back to Kelly’s apartment to get ready for the event I’d been looking forward to all day. A Kaiseki Dinner at Hiroko Shimbo’s.

I had to escort a group of 13 to the dinner at Hiroko’s in the West Village.  In the end, 3 went ahead of time and 4 took a cab, so I escorted the other 6 on the F Train to 16th Street.  We arrived to a beautiful table, Hiroko playing hostess, and some awesome smells coming from the kitchen.

Table at Hiroko's.


Ikebana. I think these were plum blossoms.


Individual place setting. Hiroko's.


A place setting menu. Normally, a Kaiseki dinner can be up to 15 - 20 courses. Hiroko played it sane and kept it to 7 courses.


Hiroko was short an assistant that night.  I was recruited to help.  So, for me anyway, I got the best of both worlds.  I still got to sit and enjoy a wonderful dinner as well as help Hiroko and her lovely assistant, Anna, in the kitchen.


Anna (r) and Hiroko in the kitchen prepping the Sushi and Sashimi


Hiroko in her kitchen. I want her kitchen.


Now, for the food.  It was amazing.  And, for me anyway, it was a revelation to have a Japanese dinner without tempura, yakatori, minimal sushi, and no beer.


This was an extra appetizer not on the menu. It was eggplant with a miso sauce.


Asparagus Kuzu Tofu. Very distinct asparagus flavor and very creamy. Almost like a custard. And, yes. That's real gold on top.


Clear Soup Broth. Duck Meatball Soup. The greens were almost like a Chinese Spinach. There was also a little crispy duck skin in the broth as an extra flavoring component.


Slapjack Tuna sushi/sashimi


My favorite. Braised Short Ribs. Although I think this was actually brisket. The sauce had a slightly sweet mirin/5-spicy flavor.


Final Course. Rice & Miso Soup. The pickled radish was a last minute addition.


Dessert. Fruit, Shiratama with Creme Anglaise (she made it with green tea).


The sake served: Kamoshibito Kuheiji and Oze no Yukidoke


It was a great reward for a very long day.

Kelly & I went back to the apartment and slept until almost noon the next day.  We deserved it.


A few days later, on a very cold, drizzly day, Kelly & I took a trip to Chinatown. No trip to New York is complete until a walk through there.  Plus, the food markets are a constant source of fascination for me.

We went to a restaurant I had on a list that I sent Kelly before my trip.  (I always send a suggested list ahead of time.  Kelly always has a list.  They get merged into a list that’s always overambitious.)

The restaurant? Excellent Pork Chop. Other than the meal we got for free my last day, this was the least expensive meal of the trip.

They actually made us move to a different table because, as usual, we ordered way too much food.

My favorite thing about the restaurant? The shrine in the corner:

Shrine at Excellent Pork Chop.


And, now, for the meal:


Shrimp Fried Rice.


Stir Fried Pork with Rice Cakes.


Kelly's lunch. Won Ton Soup. Bet you'd never seen it look like this.


Won Tons in Garlic-Chili Sauce.


Their Excellent Pork Chop. It was a broiled chop rubbed with 5-spice.


My lunch. Clear Seafood Broth with Fish Balls. A funny name for something really delicious.


A little Chinatown culture:

Ducks in the window.


A classic storefront in Chinatown.


Again, the markets are endlessly fascinating for me.  The little dried vegetables, seafood, and meats; the preserved eggs, and the freshness of many of the ingredients are always a learning experience.


Live shrimp at Deluxe Food Market in Chinatown.


Live crab. Deluxe Food Market.


Lovely Chinese Bacon. I almost bought some.


Loaves of cooked pork blood.


Whole dry salted duck.


Pig uterus. I'm actually curious as to how this is cooked. Braised, I'm guessing.


If you’ve been to NYC, then you know that Little Italy is not only next to Chinatown, but is essentially being swallowed up by it.  There’s about 8 blocks of classic Little Italy left in Lower Manhattan.  And I may be overestimating the size of the neighborhood.

But, even though the restaurants are almost all touristy – meaning sub-par and overpriced – there are at least still some shops that are clinging to the old ways.

Thank goodness.

Beautiful dried sausages. Alleva Dairy. Little Italy, NYC


Fresh mozzarella. Alleva Dairy.


Proscuitto! Alleva Dairy.


And, of course, the shop windows are rather enticing.  They make you want to eat again even though you’re full of Chinese Lunch.

Can't remember the store. But, their windows were beautiful.


Lovely. Just Lovely.


The next day, Sunday, was our big goal day.  Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge.  Kelly & I have done this before, but, at least for me, it’s still an exciting expedition.

But first, we were meeting  our friends Cathy and Ray at Bottega Falai.  A cute little pastry & sandwich shop in SoHo on Lafayette.

Yummy bomboloni. My breakfast that day was the chocolate filled.


Crepe Cakes at Bottega Falai.


On a wall in SoHo next to a parking lot. The photo doesn't do this art justice.


Walking through Soho


Off the subway and near the Brooklyn Bridge.  Our ultimate goal? Grimaldi’s Pizza.

Touristy? Yeah.  Delicious? Most definitely.

The Gehry Building. The tallest residential building in the world. Or so I'm told.


Off the subway, near City Hall and across from the Bridge.


Not sure of the name of this building, but I love the old-school architecture. Downtown NYC


First arches. Brooklyn Bridge.


Looking into Manhattan from the Bridge


Looking back into Lower Manhattan at the WTC construction.


Manhattan and the East River from the Bridge


Sweet, sweet Brooklyn.


Our first stop in Brooklyn was at a restored carousel Kelly wanted to see.

Jane’s Carousel is a completely restored historic Carousel made in 1922.  It’s a beautiful 3-row carousel near the East River between the Brooklyn & Manhattan Bridges (

Jane's Carousel. Brooklyn


Jane's Carousel. Brooklyn


I just thought he was beautiful. Jane's Carousel.


Now, for a little public art:

This artist, every day for 2 years, would use a color to express his mood. Now it's hanging up in Brooklyn across the street from Jacque Torres' Shop. Delicious hot chocolate, by the way.


After a bit more walking around, we finally ended up at our ultimate goal. Grimaldis.

The queue at Grimaldi's.


The story of the queue. Yes, the line was long. It was also cold and damp.  But, when you know you’re going to eat some damn good pizza, you’re willing to put up with a bit of discomfort.

After about 20 minutes in line, a manager from the restaurant started coming out and announcing numbers. Mostly 2.  When Kelly & I were finally the first party of 2 in the queue, we got to go in ahead of most of the rest of the people.  I couldn’t help but feel a little smug.  And, we were grateful to get into a warm room.

We sat at a cozy little 4-top next to a lovely couple from Maryland.

After waiting for our waiter to stop flirting with two blondes at the bar, we finally got to put in our order.

Pizza #1: The Classic Margarhita. We ate half of it before I remembered to take the picture.


Pizza #2: May Favorite. Pepperoni, Sausage, and Mushroom.


By the way, we were really hungry.  We had 4 pieces left.  We took them back to Kelly’s.  Of course.


The next day, Long Island City & Astoria in Queens.  Because, why the hell not?

The Burger Garage in Long Island City, Queens. Delicious. Their shakes are great. I ate too fast to get a food photo.


We went to a place under the El called 5 Pointz.  It’s a group of buildings that have been set aside for graffiti artists.  Some of their art is amazing.  It’s a wonder what can be done with spray paint and some talent.

An interesting take on Alice in Wonderland. 5 Pointz, Queens


I really liked this one in particular. It was very different from all the other art.


One of the few where I could actually read what had been written. 5 Pointz.


More art. 5 Pointz.


From Long Island City to Astoria:

For you 30 Rock Fans. Where they do most of their principal filming. On the way to Astoria.


Looking from Queens towards Roosevelt Island and Manhattan


An Egyptian restaurant in Astoria, Queens, Kelly & I wanted to try. Unfortunately, it's closed on Mondays. But, the facade is great.


Back in the East Village later that night, we went to what is considered to be one of the best Thai restaurants in the City, Zabb Elee, on 2nd Avenue.  It was perfect after a very chilly day.


Spicy Noodle Soup with Meatballs, Fishballs, and Noodles. Perfect after a long wet walk around Queens.


Shrimp & Basil Salad. Kelly said it was quite spicy. And delicious.


As our final outing for the evening, we went to Veniero’s on East 11th.  One of the oldest Italian pastry shops in NYC.  Open since 1894.

Veniero's front window.


The pastry counter. Veniero.


Mini Cream Tarts. These were great. I had mine for breakfast.


My final day in New York consisted of an excursion to Chelsea and the Meat Packing Districts.  We went to Chelsea Market since I’ve never been before.  It wasn’t what I expected.

It looked to me like offshoots of the restaurants in the area with a few gift shops thrown in for good measure.   I wasn’t impressed.  So, I didn’t feel the need to take any photos.

Kelly & I went to Pastis for a quick bite.  A French Bistro that opened in the Meat Packing District in 1999.  It’s a fairly large space that they claimed was half reserved for the evening and they weren’t setting anyone in that space.  So, they were crowding everyone into the area around the bar.  Then, of course, I saw them seating people in the roped off section.  Either evening came early or we weren’t pretty enough to sit there.

Snark aside, when we finally did get our food (our waiter forgot to turn in our order), it was quite good.  But then, it’s hard to mess up a ham & cheese croissant.  And, Kelly missed out on her poached eggs.  They ran out.

The artifically antiqued mirror at Pastis.


But, we did get our brunch for free.  I’d like to give them another shot on another trip. Maybe lunch.


We then went, for my last excursion, to the Highline.  It’s an old elevated railway that was converted into an elevated walkway and park.  A wonderful example of urban renewal.

On the Highline.


Public Art at the Highline.


Spring colors on the Highline.


Looking into Chelsea from the Highline.


The Highline.


The Empire State Building peeking over Chelsea.


Bird feeders at the Highline.


Final NYC photo. The East River.


After a rather convoluted trip home that consisted of getting stuck in traffic and missing my flight from JFK, getting rerouted, having to spend the night at my parents, and getting home 14 hours later than I originally planned, I made it home to Austin.

First meal home in Austin. Arandas #3. Chicken Flautas and Beef Enchiladas.


As much as I enjoyed my trip, I was very happy to be home.  But, if someone offered me a ticket to go back tomorrow, I’d take it.


I’ll have more pictures posted soon on my photo page.




























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