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Archive for September, 2006

This past weekend, I’ve neglected the fact that I’m suppose to be in a bikini in 2 weeks, and just ate everything in sight.  Maybe not everything, but a lot of stuff.  This may be because Brian and I hit up a Korean bbq buffet on Saturday.  Obviously, one must curb their consumption limits at the door.

Friday night was family night- as usual.   We went to Havana Central in Union Square for some Cuban food because I know how much the boys enjoy Spanish food.  I didn’t get a picture of the outside of the restaurant because of there’s scaffolding, but it’s quite easy to find.  They’ve actually renovated the inside since the last time I’ve been there.  It looks a lot less divey and all the new pant and brighter lighting makes it look a lot newer.  I’m pleased.  We got a half booth in the back with leather seats, not the wooden bench things.  I also think it’s nice that they have the exposed brick wall- though I can’t decide what to make of the deliberately unfinished columns.  And hello- palm trees in New York!  I love palm trees.  I could sit by the ones in the Winter Garden all day long.

ceiling?
peoples’ heads & ceiling of havana

Of course, it doesn’t need to be said that I had to order the Cuban sandwich.  It came in a pressed hero and was humungous.  Thank goodness I got Jen to share it with me.  The sandwich came with the usual pork, ham, cheese, and pickles.  They did add mustard to the sandwich, which I wasn’t too thrilled about.  The sandwich was mediocre; I still prefer the one I had at Cubana Cafe last time.  The sandwich came with a side of sweet potato fries, which were soft and yummy.  I hate soft fries, but these were truly delicious.  If they had some cinnamon sugar on them; they would be the sweet potato fries to end all sweet potato fries. 

cuban sandwich platter cuban insides

 I’m not a big meat person, but I really like beef stew- when I’m craving it that is, and Havana has some good beef stew [carne guisada].  I would’ve liked more veggies mixed with it, but the dish was still very flavorful.  The meat was soft enough that I could break it down into bite sized pieces and didn’t have to exert too much force with my non-steak knife.  It also wasn’t fatty meat, so I didn’t have to deal with that.  Both Jen and I finished our portions of this dish.  All entrees come with the choice of yellow or white rice and red or black beans.  Guess which ones we got?  😉

carne guisada     beans
rice & beans & beef stew

Aside from the food and the decor,   the last time I was here, I discovered that the restaurant offers 3 types of hot sauces [green, red, & orange if memory serves me right].  So if spicyness is your thing- you can go try out their Cholula hot sauces.

SATURDAY NIGHT. 

Brian & I & some high school friends of ours decided it’d be a good idea to have some Korean BBQ– buffet style.  In theory, it’s a great idea.  Korean barbeque is one of the most expensive foods ever!  And they make you cook it yourself.  I don’t have a probably grilling my own food, but for $16 [or more] kalbi- I am not pleased.  So anyways, I trekked to Queens.  Yes.  I swear.  I took the train and all !!  TO QUEENS!  Holy moly.  I even scare myself when I say that.  I don’t have anything against Queens per-say; I’d just prefer to stick to my little Manhattan bubble.  Sorry, folks.  But I would take Queens any day over Brook-lyn [it is 2 words… right?]

Anyways, Picnic Garden on Northern Boulevard charges $20 for their buffet on weekends.  They have several meats to choose some- all with the special korean marinades, of course.  Pork, beef, chicken, gizzard, tripe, and veggies.  They even have the clear glass noodles I like so much.  They supply lettuce and rice just like a “real” korean restaurant.  There are also two soups; one was miso, which I had, and a spicy soup that I didn’t try but Brian did.  The miso soup was basic and bare; there was no tofu or seaweed.  They also had some korean style pancakes, which were bland, and california sushi rolls.  The selection of foods altogether wasn’t big, but it was okay.  Going to a realrestaurant would’ve meant better quality and more organization, but I’m not complaining.  The buffet was well worth it for $20.  However, I’m convinced that there’s got to be a better one.  Someone recommend me.  Are there any with desserts?!  All they had here were oranges.  I mean, aren’t buffets suppose to shine in the dessert department?

picnic garden
it’s prettier in the inside

Inside, there are a whole bunch of wooden booths, each equiped with its own grill station.  There are also tables for bigger groups in the back.  Here are a bunch of pics from the night. 

uncooked meats
situated in the middle of the restaurant for easy access

bbq grill
we were missing tongs

plates of bbq
messiness for four

 You know, eating like this for the next week and a half is definitely not going to bring flattering bikini results when I’m in West Palm & Miami next week. 

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I have been drinking a lot lately, I would have to say in terms of days of the week, it is definitely akin to what took place in high school.  Yes, I started young, but it was a good thing, because I didn’t do the whole drunken college student thing.  Well, maybe the first year…. Anyways, the boys and I went out on Friday night.  We started out at Brick Lane Curry House,one of the many Indian restaurants along E. 6th.   We ordered a bottle of Shiraz and the restaurant recently came up with their own stout, so we all got a sample of that too.  This was 7pm.  Caled and Dan thought the stout was on the darker side, and for some reason, Stan says it tastes like soda.  I don’t know where he got this from.  The wine had more of a bite to it than I thought; I knew it had spices but I didn’t know it would be that strong.  The really cool thing is that the Shiraz is Australian

brick lane

Brick Lane is one of the Indian places on 6th with nicer decor due to its recent renovation.  It doesn’t look like a shack, like some of the other places, and they don’t have “promotors” standing in front trying to grab customers off the streets.  It’s a very chic little place with a big area in the back. 

We started the night off with the “bread” platter- you know, that bread that looks like bread but has the taste and texture of cracker?  It comes with two different chutney dips and spiced and pickled onions to go on top.  I like the onions but I don’t like to eat a lot of it because I fear my breath may kill. 

bread basket

The boys [Caled & Daniel] didn’t know what to order, so I just ordered a bunch of stuff that I wanted and shared it.  They had milkshakes from Johnny Rockets right before this so I knew that they weren’t really hungry.  I ordered the aloo samosa [crispy pastry stuffed with spiced potatoes and veggies] as an appetizer.  It was a good samosa- the outside and good and crispy- it had a good bite.  The insides were blander than I expected, but the sauces on the side definitely spiced things up [there was a red one and a yellow one- one was spicy, but I can’t remember which at this point and I don’t know what was in them].  Everytime I see these, I crave the Burmese ones.. mm.. those are curry potato filled. 

samosa samosa inside 
dish displayed with the alcohol // insides with sauce smeared all over

I ordered two entrees: the chicken tikki masala and the lamb vindaloo [of course, all entrees come with basmati rice].  You can choose from an array of curries and they will cook chicken, beef, lamb, goat or a whole bunch of other stuff in it for you.  The tikki masala sauce is a traditional gravy flavored with a tomato cream sauce andfenugreek leaves.  The vindaloo sauce is a fiery combination of freshly roasted and ground spices and condiments from Goa cooked with potatoes.  I had no idea the vindaloo was sooo spicy!  My mouth was definitely on fire; if the heat was down a good notch and a half, I’d be a bigger fan.  I was only able to eat two pieces of the lamb- the rest, I left up to Daniel.  The lamb was a good meat to combine with the vindaloo though- I don’t think I’d enjoy it as much if I put chicken in there.  After tasting the vindaloo first, the tikki masala tasted as if it was spicy too.  It was hard to discipher the flavors between the two!  When my mouth calmed down a bit, I realized that I really enjoyed the tikki masala and the chicken- it looked as if they used the tandoori chicken, but I can’t be positive.  I mean the sauce is red already, how would you be able to tell if the chicken had a red tint too?  Aside from the meats, I also got some garlic naan, which I kept dipping in both sauces… but mostly the masala.  I usually like the regular naan because I love the added flavor the curry gives the bread, but I decided to try something new today.  I actually wanted the potato naan, but I thought it’d be too heavy and they didn’t have it anyways.

tiki masala vindaloo
meats swimming in sauces

basmati rice garlic naan
basmati rice [it’s harder and longer than regular rice]  //  some lifeless looking naan

Stanley showed up in the middle of our meal and ordered myself some chicken kebobs.  It was basically a grilled chicken fajita sizzling platter.  It’s always fun when someone order’s a sizzling platter; it’s like a party on a plate!  There was nothing special about this dish- one could’ve ordered it from Chili’s or something.  The chicken was tender, which was surprising b/c I’m always afraid of ordering grilled chicken for fear that it will be dry.

chicken kebob

The boys decided they wanted dessert after dinner so we walked over to Max Brenner’s!  These boys are all sweet crazy and none of them have been to Max Brenner’s yet- how sad!  We had to wait a good 45 mins for a table so we decided to go check out this new wine shop that opened up around the corner, behind the Union Square theatre.  We had a brilliant idea at this time- it was a big eureka! moment.  We decided to go buy a bottle of Trader Joe’s wines and bring it into Max Brenner’s to spice up our meal.  We already had red wine, we went for some white this time around [the boys really enjoyed the wine, btw- but it was a bit on the mintier side for me since I’m not a fan of mint].  So, we go back to Max Brenner’s and get our table. 

I was soo not hungry at this point, but I felt like I still had to get something.  Caled and I ended up sharing some waffles and ice cream aka munchies waffles.  We got a scoop of vanilla and a scoop of white chocolate topped with whipped cream.  The white chocolate ice cream was sooooo good.  OMG.  I have never been more in love with white chocolate than at that very moment.  It came with some chocolate waffle balls- which I swear are just chocolate rice krispies and extra chocolate sauce.  I will have you know that my good friend Daniel later drank this in shot form.  [pictures of that will be edited in at a later time].

waffles & ice cream 2 waffles & ice cream 
here is our plate from both sides!

Stanley got himself some s’mores!  I like Max Brenner’s s’mores because they give you PEANUT BUTTER.  You can’t really go wrong with s’mores but they give you a serving of two and none of us could help him b/c we were too full. 

smores

Daniel and Jon decided to get the mom’s morning bagel with hazelnut spread and melted chocolate.  I was definitely not impressed by this or by its $5 price tag.  The bagel was hard as hell; Max Brenner should invest in some Ess-a-Bagel bagels!  I added some of Stan’s bananas to this and it still was not very good.  I couldn’t taste the chocolate and a $5 nutella bagel is just sad.  I have to boo this menu item, along with Max’s crepes.

bagel

What happens when boys finish eating and get restless?  Play with their food, of course!  Here are the results from their…. experiment.  Who wants to be a taste tester?

messy chocolate

After all this, we went to get our drink on for real.  What else are Friday nights for?

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A few weeks ago, I went to dinner with an old college buddy.  I brought him to my ‘hood; the LES.  A convo arises. 

Him: You know.. I always just zoom past this area when I’m driving- I’ve never actually hung out/ eaten here.    
Me: ……. I don’t know if I can stay friends with you

We went to the Crooked Tree Creperie after finding out that S’Mac was closed for vacation [boo!  don’t they know I need to eat?!].  Mmm.. crepes.  I’ve been meaning to try this place out for months now- but they get a lot of business at night and there’s always a wait.  It’s a really cute and cozy little shop, with mostly tables for two.  They even set up an extra table directly outside the restaurant in case someone wants some “outdoor seating.”  The place provides a very intimate atmosphere to say the least.  If you are afraid of sending your dinner buddy the wrong message; don’t bring them here.  And yes, I did make that very mistake.

crooked tree creperie
looks divey from the outside

crooked tree inside
inside – that was our waiter strolling past, btw

I am a humungo savory crepe fan- this can possibly have a lot to do with the fact that I’m not really into sugary stuffs.  I was really startled and excited when Chinatown opened up its own crepe place.. and then, I found out that they have a little shack and they only do sweet crepes.  Cute, but sad.  My favorite crepe place is actually not in New York, it’s in San Francisco on Clement.  I don’t remember the name of the place, but if anyone wants to know, just leave a comment and I’ll find out.  I love their crepes because they are fat and stuffed and.. savory.. very, very, savory.  The ones at Crooked Tree are flat and lifeless.  It’s okay for the $8. 

We started out the dinner with sangria!  *slurp.  I got red and he got white.  It wasn’t the best, nor was it the worst sangria I’ve ever had, so I’d order it again if I’m ever there. 

red sangria white sangria
apples bobbing in the sangrias

All the crepes comes with a mesclun salad on the side, with some dressing [please don’t shoot me, but I don’t remember].  I got the crepe with brie, argula, and tomatoes.  It was yummers because you can’t really go wrong with that combo.  Brie is my favorite cheese.  I think I could eat brie and crackers for hours on end, even without some wine on the side.  My friend got the albacore tuna and jarlsberg with tomatoes, which is pictured below.  His crepe wasn’t really that impressive- simple ingredients just wrapped into a crepe.  Where’s the innovation?  I’m also not really impressed with canned tuna, so I don’t really know what to say about this.  We both also got eggs with our crepes, and I don’t know how I really feel about the runny yolk on tuna or brie.  I think they should’ve done some type of fried egg, or at least a more well done egg.  Egg and cheese- that’s quite breakfasty.  For $10, you can pick 3 of their ingredients and make your own crepe combo, which is what I think I’ll do if I ever go back.  I am willing to go back; it’s a cute little place after all.  I think that the Crooked Tree can definitely vamp up their menu with some better crepe choices.  Maybe they’re known for their sweet crepes, but I didn’t have any that day so I can’t say.  I would love some nutella and bananas though- that’s one of my favorite sweet crepe combos.

crepe tuna crepe inside
bird’s eye view  &  insides with melted cheese

Two nights ago, a heart broken friend and I went out for dinner.  He wanted to go somewhere where we wouldn’t be disturbed by music or loud people.  Since it was a Monday night, I took him to one of my favorite sushi places, Sushi Lounge– only half a block away from Crooked Tree.  Sushi Lounge’s decor is very basic; wooden tables and chairs.  You can choose to sit at the sushi bar and watch the masters at work [errr.. really well trained non-Japanese people, usually] or sit at one of the regular tables.  What I like about this place is their innovative sushi roll menu.  Everything is fresh and cheap too.  50% off sushi & rolls if your order exceeds $16 before the discount.  Granted, there are better sushi places in the city, but you can’t argue with the value and menu here.  Their chicken katsu is also really good and the ramen is mediocre but still very much edible. 

The pictures below are from a previous dinner a while back, but I more or less always get the same thing.  Golden Dragon [regular dragon roll with mango slices on top] and the Titanic [spicy tuna inside and salmon and avacado inside], and some random roll depending on my mood.  Yes.  I can eat 3 rolls all by myself.  It’s not that impressive, but I am a pretty small girl.

sushi 1
mine vs.

sushi 2
daniel’s – who’s the fatty?

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