Pasta Presto Grill 93 MacDougal Street New York, NY 10012 (212) 260-5679
THIS POST WAS supposed to be Dinner And A Movie, but Sharon and I found upon arriving at Film Forum that "Control," the Ian Curtis biopic, was sold out. We also learned that the sold-out 9:00 p.m. show was the film's last at Film Forum. Ah, what terrible timing, and, speaking of terrible, we had dinner at Pasta Presto Grill. This Greenwich Village joint displayed a prowess for exactly two things during our meal: absent service and oily food. The mushroom ravioli was pleasantly cooked, flavorful, but drowning in a far-too-oily walnut pesto. Worse, it cost twice what it should have.
Veselka 144 Second Avenue New York, NY 10003 (212) 228-9682 veselka.com
HALLOWEEN IS AN excuse for New York City, as it is everywhere else, to revel in absurdity, which is a welcome departure, especially around these parts, from daily obsessions with excess. Somehow, dressed up as Santas and slutty nuns, the people of this city come alive with a warmth that emanates from someplace deeper than the flask tucked in its collective pocket. It's a bemused sort of goodwill, dare I say the Christmas spirit in costume, alive in October, only without all the secular bickering.
At Veselka, warmth emanates from steamed pirogis, and tastes like pumpkin, goat cheese and arugala, mushroom and sauerkraut, and meat. Warmth is delicious (and you can wash it down with 21 oz. of cool Obolon beer for $5.25). Warmth is also cheesy. Ukrainian fare might be Veselka's specialty, but this is, after all, a 24-hour diner set-up--the mac n' cheese is commendable.
We were joined by Brian (of Plataforma fame) who had suggested for afterwards a Halloween showing of Nosferatu, F. W. Murnau's classic 1922 vampire flick, its soundtrack performed live by the Devil Music Ensemble. All this, in the grand theater of Village East Cinemas, a towering hall of gothic-meets-arabic design, a terribly appropriate venue for the godfather of all monster movies. It was almost as frightening as taking the L-train back to Brooklyn.
MIKE EATS NEXT TIME: And probably drinks again, too.
Paloma 60 Greenpoint Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11222 (718) 349-2400 palomanyc.com
RAISE YOUR HANDS if you love Saturday morning cartoons!
Okay, yes, I know, cartoons kinda suck these days. I enjoy Spongebob as much as the next guy, but Viva Piñata? Yu-Gi-Oh? Ugh, I can barely stomach Futureama, and my 10-year-old cousin recently asked me, "Who's Yogi Bear?" Are you kidding me, Boo Boo!? Hey, hey, I say, what are we teaching these kids today?!
The good news: Paloma understands. Not only can you now find yourself a tasty brunch at the Greenpoint joint, but you can kick back and enjoy it while watching the flickering frames of good, old fashions, hand-animated Looney Tunes.
How the food? My eggs over-medium with a slice of potato pancake was perhaps the simplest plate I have ever seen come out of Paloma's kitchen. The eggs were impeccably cooked. Mint's duck hash piled atop one of those tasty potato-cakes was reportedly awesome. A warm popover, crispy crust outside and buttery soft inside, hit the spot. And, as always, the bar served up a hit, this afternoon mixing up a ginger soda with skewered chunks of candied ginger as garnish.
I CAN'T FIGURE out how you could make this without a food processor. Perhaps with a lot of smashing and rapid wrist movement? I suppose. But this is really one for those of you with access to a blender or some other kind of knife propelled by electricity:
1 can garbanzo beans 1/3 cup tahini 3 garlic cloves 1 lemon 1 tbsp olive oil 1 tsp paprika 1 tsp cumin salt + pepper
Combine in a food processor or blender the garbanzo beans (a.k.a. chickpeas, ceci beans), tahini, garlic (chopped in half), juice of one lemon, olive oil and spices to taste. Blend in bursts, stopping and checking occasionally. Blend to a thick paste.
A few helping hints: Reserve the water from your canned beans in case the hummus is too thick; add water in small amounts. Garlic can be used to taste--if you've got really fresh garlic, perhaps two cloves will do. You can do without the cumin, but don't skip it if you've got it. That's all for now.
This is a really excellent recipe to experiment with. The only thing to remember is to be careful to maintain your consistency--if you add too much liquid, you'll need to add chickpeas to thicken the mix. We enjoyed this recipe with fresh purple peppers picked (finally!) from the plant that's been growing in our kitchen window since spring. Not to brag or anything, but they were pretty awesome.
Fusia Asian Cuisine 677 Lexington Avenue (entrance on 56th St) New York, NY 10022 (212) 308-2111 fusia56.com
Mint had a toothache. It got worse. Then, it got worse. And so she decided it was time to see a dentist. At 9:15 p.m. on a Monday night. The pickings are slim, let me tell you.
We decided to grab dinner while wandering up towards a dentist's office before her appointment, not sure she'd feel much like food after. Something soft was is order, and since we only had an hour, something quick, too. Noodles were declared the perfect choice and so we started looking. We found Fusia.
And we were impressed. The miso soup was rich without being salty, large slices of shitake mushrooms floating about in the broth. The rice under the unagi don was piled high and dotted with beets, seaweed, and slices of avocado. Mint, of course, ordered noodles. They were soft.
MIKE EATS NEXT TIME: Prices were a bit high for an everyday dinner, but I'll admit it was the first time I've ordered unagi don outside of Sapporo Haru and thoroughly enjoyed my meal. That's definitely a reason to consider returning.
Mary's Diner 666 East Main Street Geneva, OH 44041 (440) 466-6393
THIS MAKES TWO trips to Mary's Diner in my last two trips to Ohio. I'm quite happy with this trend. Mary's serves up classic diner fare in a classic diner setting. It's comfort food. I love it. In particular, I loved the pumpkin pancakes. Tis the season, after all.
In other news, I-80 East was not nearly as quick a drive as I-80 West. Adam and I spent at least an hour and a half sitting in traffic at various points along the way. Which sucked. At the the fall foliage was a pleasant backdrop? To make matters worse, this not-driving part of our drive ensured that we would arrive in New York well after the start of the Indians-Red Sox game. This put us in a bad mood.
Objects in mirror are closer than they appear
You know what made it worse? The part where, once finally back in the city, the Indians lost the third of three consecutive games to crash out of the playoffs and send Boston to the World Series. Blargh!
Speaking of blargh, we did stop for lunch/dinner somewhere halfway across Pennsylvania. Adam wanted Arby's. So, I got a milkshake. That was my dinner. I love roadtrips.
Piero's Pasta House 5367 Lake Road East Geneva-On-The-Lake, OH 44041 (440) 466-2498
NO SOUND IS more comforting than the crashing of waves washing up on the shore of Lake Erie, and there is no better time to hear them than first thing in the morning as they wash you out of sleep. Of course, nothing makes their wake-up call more worth heading than the knowledge that a blue and white-striped box of Madsen's Donuts awaits you downstairs.Madsen's Donuts, as has been previously noted, sells the finest creme sticks, jelly sticks, cinnamon sticks, chocolate-glazed, cinnamon-sugared, and powder sugar-dusted doughnuts this side of anywhere (sorry, Peter Pan). The frosted and sprinkled varieties aren't half-bad either. Get 'em $8.20 a dozen, and just try to not eat more than one a day.
For dinner, aside from doughnuts (which, rest assured, is a side dish), we stopped by Piero's Pasta House. This place has been written up by several Cleveland-area newspapers (that a local paper would recommend its readers make an hour's drive is no small accomplishment) and alongside Alessandro's is one-half the dynamic Italian duo of Geneva-On-The-Lake. The pasta is suspiciously fresh, the sauces light but rich, and there always seems to be a crowd inside, even in the town's off-season when the Lake Road strip is eerily deserted.
Dessert, a peach bread pudding made by my mother, was so good I've asked for the recipe so I can make it and pass it along. It was the perfect way to cap off a day of delicious treats, even if the Indians couldn't cap it off with a trip to the World Series. There's always tomorrow?
WITH CLEVELAND UP three games to Boston's one in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series, and my ma holding a handful of seats to game five at Jacobs Field, there was really no choice but to pack up my aunt's car, wake up my cousin and take off for Cleveland.
As the story goes, upon hearing that mother had a pair of tickets to the game leftover after our family had snapped the rest up, my cousin Adam decided that if he could skip school for a couple days, I could skip work. Turns out he was right. So, Adam journeyed to Brooklyn last night, met me at work late this morning, and around Noon we set off through the Lincoln Tunnel headed for I-80 West.
We stopped, briefly, at the Hibernia Diner in Rockaway, NJ. It seemed like a good time to break for brunch. Adam grabbed an omelette, and I grabbed potato pancakes. I'm not sure how that omelette turned out, but the pancakes were perfect little ovals of starch, deep fried to a golden glow. They were awful, at best mildly satisfying, and everything I expected them to be. I gladly chowed down on Swedish Fish for the rest of the ride.
We hit the Ohio border around 6:00 that evening and caught a glimpse of the Cleveland skyline off in the distance about an hour later. We parked downtown a little after 7:30 and found our seats at 8:10. The opening pitch was ten minutes later. Nothing like good timing.
Dinner? Cheese pizza from the fine servicefolk at Jacobs Field. The game? Not so good. A few runs here, a few runs there, and suddenly the Indians found themselves far from clinching the series. There's always Saturday night, but we're definitely not driving to Boston to watch the game.
MIKE EATS NEXT TIME: Hibernia? Maybe, maybe not; Jacobs Field, well, there's always next year.