Single (and cooking) in the City

Food, life, love, and fun recipes


May 2010

(Out!) Damned Spot

I was on my way to Oro Bakery and Bar this morning for a quick breakfast before work (their blueberry yogurt is topped with sliced almonds – my new favorite way to eat yogurt!) when I noticed a couple of Felix Morelo‘s chalk drawings on the ground. Now I’m normally not a superstitious person, but I avoided the circle containing the words “Bad Luck Spot,” because, frankly, I could use all the luck I could get. Several steps away, I noticed the “Good Luck Spot” and stuck a foot in.

Later that morning, I was told to move around some props in the kitchen showroom, and as I slid one of the fancy shmancy super efficient and space saving “glass pull-out sliding doors” open, the edge smacked into the knob of the adjacent door. A loud bang, followed by the slow shattering noise of a thousand cracks radiating from the knob and traveling the entire surface to the door’s edges — I can not begin to describe how haunting the sound is in an otherwise silent showroom. 4th day of work, and I had broken a door. I was surprised I wasn’t immediately fired on the spot. In fact, my boss’s unusually calm reaction only served to make me feel more confused and concerned with my own strange emotional indifference.

Annoyed at the fact that it seemed to be “one of those days,” another trip down Morelo‘s street meant stopping by the “Bad Luck Spot” and giving it a piece of my mind – a quick stomp and a silent curse under my breath.

A long day behind me now, I sat next to a man on the subway ride home, who brightened up my day by commenting on how much he liked my Alexander McQueen skull ring, and the double finger ring I had on my other hand. On his way out, he turns to me and says, “You stay fly now!” And my completely uncool response… “Thanks.”



It was the best of times…

There are times when you’ve got a couple of consecutive days which pass like a rollercoaster of ups and downs – hungover and not. Sometimes mumbled behind a curtain of hair, other times gleefully stated before downing another sparkling something-or-other, I can’t count how many times I’d used the excuse: “It’s my last day of work.”

It all started Thursday night – a couple of drinks right before an AFHny happy hour mixer at my new workplace… and a couple of drinks during. Then there was an attempt to break into the Surface Magazine party at United Nude, which I’m assuming is when this paparazzi shot of Dave ended up in my phone, not discovered until last night (almost a week later):

…Followed by more drinks at Bowery Bar and Grill.

At some point, I thought I lost my phone in the bathroom. I was probably doing something similar to this… Anyway, I found it, moments later, in my bag.

Friday was thus more low key. Nursing a hangover that felt like it would never go away, completely spoiling all the great plans I had for celebrating “my last day of work” (lunch at al di la), the night was capped off with a movie and a visit to the Chikalicious Dessert Bar. (In NYC, you NEVER nurse a hangover in bed! Unless it’s really horrible. And had something to do with tequila.)

Chika doin’ her thang in the exposed kitchen, bar style – making my dessert!

the end products

Saturday was Tom’s birthday: drinks at Delicatessen (yep, more sparkling disasters for me), dinner at Emporio (free flowing wine, it seemed! Dining Italian family style — I loved it.), and at some point, Alex and I became best friends.

Sunday… noodles in Flushing, and homemade milkshakes and coke floats. Why did I end up feeling so horrible again? “It was my last day.” Let’s end this cycle on a high note, eh? At least there was ice cream involved!

Vanilla Milkshake

  • 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream, Breyer’s
  • 1/2 cup of skim milk
  • chocolate sauce, Bosco’s

Blend the ice cream and skim milk, drizzle in some chocolate sauce to taste.

I’m sorry, were you expecting a real and creative recipe? Give me a break! I was hungover!

To New Adventures

Life in NYC is undoubtedly never lacking in excitement nor entertainment, and the perks of a rare architectural position commanding a humble 9-5 workday was rare. This contributed greatly, if not entirely, to my developing interest in cooking.

This week marks the beginning of a new adventure for me… One involving an environment consisting of an endless barrage of tourists and beautiful people, crowded streets lined with restaurants like Balthazar and Delicatessen and cafes constantly baking and replenishing their supplies of croissants, quiches, and loaves of bread. Plus bars! And shopping! Oh and much longer hours at work, plus days extended even later to include my now freelance gig at my old job. How I will find the time to experiment beyond the quick veggie stir-fry’s, I’m not sure, but I suppose once the stream of congratulatory and farewell dinners and indulgences, both celebrating a change that is exciting and sad, subsides, and I settle down into what will become my new schedule… we’ll find out.

I’ve said goodbye to my daily morning wheat bagel, and have been welcoming a wider variety of choices for much more money ($12 bowl of yogurt, granola, and fruit, anyone? Ouch!). I have a feeling by the end of this week, having 2 jobs will actually cause me to have to move into a cardboard box on the corner of Spring Street (where I will fight the Balthazar rats for scraps!). But for tonight, a quick (and much later than usual) dinner of chinese broccoli and salmon. Nice and light… and a familiar taste of home cooking.

Minus 1

After calling Park Slope my home place of employment for the past 4 years, the time has come for a new change of pace and scenery. A proper send-off wouldn’t be proper without (an all too rare these days) lunch hour(s) with Pete (who lives nearby), so off to explore the surrounding neighborhoods of Park Slope!

Armed with several gadgets – him a new old camera – and both of us with iphones, Pete drove us to the very little Iris Cafe on a narrow, tree-lined street hidden somewhere in the depths of Prospect Heights. Surprisingly busy and packed with the “self-employed”, tables taken up mostly by laptops, we dodged a few strollers to secure ourselves a table and happily scarfed down our amazing sandwiches – one with some apple butter and a mixture of random cheese and meats (ploughman’s style), and one with salami and pesto mayo (<– obviously my pick. Pesto obsession, much?).

After the savory comes the sweet, so we went off to the new pie shop in the Gowanus, Four & Twenty Blackbirds, which garnered a lot of attention when it first opened.

Bottom left: Black Bottom Oatmeal Pie; Right: Apple Pie

check out, if you can see it, the layers and slivers of apples. I’d hate to be the guy who has to slice those things!

The black bottom oatmeal pie had a very interesting texture, almost like a cookie pie with some chocolate on the bottom, and the crust of the apple pie tasted almost slightly almond like something you would find at a Chinese bakery, but neither one of us could quite put our finger on it… Beautifully baked pies, really inspires me to create some of my own!

A Late Post into My Late Twenties

One of the perks of getting older is being able to use that as an excuse for various indulgences – lobster rolls at Lure, one too many trips to Scarpetta, a weekend vacation in Mexico, the 3rd breakfast pastry I really could’ve done without… and eventually once everyone has satisfied their appetite for celebration, a more humble routine can resume.

Relaxing on the beach in Mexico. SPF 50! And I still turned brown like a rotisserie chicken at Boston Market.

Happy Birthday to Scarpetta! (and myself)

Last Thursday night was spent, the 2nd evening in a week, on dinner at Scarpetta. Also celebrating a major event (their 2 year anniversary!), Scarpetta had released a special menu – a 4 course dinner, plus wine pairings, for $50. (My heart skipped a beat and my eyes wondered if they’d gone blind when I first saw that deal… I could’ve sworn I’d died.) Appropriately, the classics were ordered (polenta, spaghetti with tomato basil, cod — heavenly as always) and some new items were explored (capretto – very sticky; short rib agnolotti – it tastes like a Big Mac in pasta form, never again!). All in all, it was a good combination of enjoying what I’d always loved, and trying something new.

I remember the first time I had the polenta and spaghetti. It was so good I just had to learn how to recreate the dish at home. With healthier ingredients, of course. And so, on some particularly lonely nights, I set up my pasta maker and patiently stirred the polenta, yielding results which I thought was no way of the same caliber as Scott Conant’s, of course, but passable for a non-cook’s studio kitchen.

Spaghetti with Tomato and Basil

  • Pasta (flour, salt, and an egg)
  • plum tomatoes, about 3
  • red pepper flakes
  • grated parmesan
  • basil leaves, chiffonade

Like I said… it was a particularly lonely night, and so I shaped the pasta dough into little balls, and painstakingly rolled each one out into long thick strands. About 2 hours later, and only one serving of pasta made, I was seriously sweating at this point and called it quits. The rest of the dough was rolled using the pasta maker into linguine strands. However, for this kind of sauce, I highly recommend making your own spaghetti the lonely, single girl way. It is really that much better. Chewy!

Heat up some olive oil and saute the chopped up plum tomatoes. Once they are soft, smush them in the pot with a potato masher and add the red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. You can let them cook for a while to thicken the sauce while you boil the pasta. Fresh pasta cooks ridiculously fast, so keep a close eye on it, slightly undercook it, drain it, reserving some liquid.

Add the pasta to the sauce, and toss, adding some pasta liquid if it is too dry. Add the cheese and basil, toss some more, and serve.

Mushroom Polenta

  • baby shittake mushrooms (or whichever mushrooms look pretty at the market, I like the ones with the stems, Super Mario style.)
  • shallots
  • low sodium chicken broth
  • polenta
  • grated parmesan
  • butter
  • skim milk

Cook the polenta in the chicken broth. I can’t remember the exact portions right now, but it should be on the box. Whisk it, a lot! It will clump up easily if you neglect it. Add some skim milk to round out the flavor, along with some grated parmesan. A bit of butter, if you’d like. Or a lot, which most would probably prefer. What you want to go for is creamy. Cook the mushrooms with the shallots, and then add some chicken broth. Let it simmer away and thicken. (This takes forever. I think I waited a good hour. The longer you do it, the better it will taste. You can also add some marsala wine to it to sweeten it up a bit.) Salt to taste, and top the polenta with it.