Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Eating the East Village

There are times when I imagine eating; envision the tastes, the experience, all day long. My mind rushes away from the yogurt at work, away from the ham and cheese assembled that morning in my shoebox kitchen, and away from the inevitable soup and frozen chicken that awaits, always ready for preparation in the evening.

There’s so much amazing food here. My roommate’s job affords him the luxury of eating out, or ordering in, every meal. At first I questioned whether he might become bored (especially as I enjoy the act of cooking). When I asked, he was incredulous.

Are you kidding? Look around you…
said his expression.

Out loud, “No.”

The more I pondered, the more ludicrous my initial thinking became. It existed on every street corner. Each eatery; stylish or not, possessed the ability to sate every craving imagined. Once I began mentally cataloging my favorites, I couldn't stop.

A place I love is best categorized French-Mex (and was, in a review by New York magazine). At Itzocan the queso fundito is a savory mix of poblanos, fresh sautéed mushrooms and salty chorizo; covered in gooey Manchego. It’s divine with a basket of warm tortillas and glass of white sangria. There, puckered semolina dumplings with fresh veggies floating in a clear broth--crunchy corn, more mushrooms and herbs--are the perfect complimentary entrée. Best of all, the restaurant seats only 15, maximum, and plays twangy guitar music just like that week in the Dominican Republic, where I had no appointments but one, to sip a Rum Punch by the pool and flip through a trashy, chlorine-splattered novella.

South, 7A is a picture-perfect brunch spot, if a table is ever open, offering a shrimp, pesto and tomato sandwich that soaks its crusty bread in a fine sheen of olive oil. Last time I sampled one, a ferocious wind carried an umbrella from the opposite side of the street, up, sailing over our heads, where it javelined into the rear window of a late-model Audi with a terrific crash, glass shards careening first into the air, then popping on the pavement as blue hail.

A half-block down, a night of overindulgence with my girlfriends commenced with us polishing off a second bottle of red wine and the cheese plate we told ourselves we wouldn't, waxing on our places in life, love, and all the rest.

A tiny sushi place with hospital green walls will never give us a bastardized Philadelphia roll no matter how much we want it, the wasabi in a bright pile next to our pink-fleshed fish. And the waitress never quite understands, English not being a strong suit, and our order is consistently a pleasant surprise.

The Lo-Side Diner is reminiscent of my college town’s tomato bisque on rainy days, before frat parties on Saturday night. A French jewel, just a few blocks east, serves cappuccino in soul bowls with whipped froth slipping up and over the edges, handed by a Frenchman with fingerless gloves; always the same tattered black shirt and wiry black beard.

Two weeks ago, I ate al fresco, far too soon, but was warmed regardless by the conversation and the pureed fava beans, pulsed with garlic and oil, surrounded on the pretty plate by roasted vegetables.

And there are so many others, just as deserving and more, if only I had the hours to list them.

If and when I ever move away from here, this will be what I will miss about New York the most.


AmourArmor said...

Ugh. You make me miss Jersey so much. If you're ever in NJ, you should stop by Berkeley Heights and try "Delicious Heights." Alex, the owner, is the best.

The food is absolutely wonderful. It's a shame too because where I live in California, the food isn't as good nor is the service.


Anonymous said...


As a "40 Something" midwest mom...I have to say I'm totally addicted to your blog. Living vicariously through your post is the best mental health break of my day. Thanks for the always fabulous prose.

I particularly love today's reference to the "bastardized Philadelphia roll" (being a sissy sushi eater myself).

Keep up the amazing work and be sure to let us all know when you are published!

Another K-

shellz said...

I dream of the day that I never have to cook again. In fact, I dream of the day when I don't have a kitchen. If I could afford to, I would eat every meal out at a restaurant! In Toronto, there are thousands of restaurants to explore, talented chefs begging us to taste their creations on every corner.

It's a tragedy that I have to suffer my own cooking, when there is such a garden of delights out there!!

pookalu said...

I love food. i love blogging about it all the time. that's why i love it when you write about it. it makes my mouth water.

i agree, one thing i'll definitely miss if/when i leave this town is the food. but i'll be sure to go to a like-minded town...

GlitterGlamGirl05 said...

Not done but moved...

joey♥ said...

great imagery. i see the food in my head. right now i'm not in new york (i'll be going back soon) but what i miss is the smell of the foods in the city. every street corner has a different taste.

treespotter said...

strangely, i kinda miss new york even when i've never lived there (been there on several occasions though).

and just as you left your note, i was writing a bit about old new york. weird, no? :-)

Jay said...

It's debatable whether or not it's located in eVil or LES but Kate's is a great vegetarian cafe. I want to say it's on the corner of Ave B and 3rd or 4th maybe. Go for the garlic fries!

GeminiWisdom said...

You make me hungry. The imagery is wonderful, as always, and the food sounds great. New York is definitely on my place to visit.

Anonymous said...

Your roomate is a damn genius.

Anonymous said...

Almost literary... I'm with you there. All of your postings are beautiful; this was my first visit today but I'll be back.

Keep writing.

J, North of You

Cheetarah1980 said...

Wow! I'm such a slacker. I don't take advantage of all NYC has to offer foodwise. I live at the chicken place on the corner or the pizza parlor down the block. My idea of good eating is an evening at Dallas BBQs. If I just slowed down for a few minutes I might be able to see all the food gems the city serves.

By the way, this post made me hungry. My fridge is empty, so thanks. Thanks a lot. Between you and Stephanie, I'm gonna get fat (well fatter than I am) just by reading blogs.

Sub Girl said...

yeah i'm hungry now too. i think nyc must have much better food than dc.

Mindi said...

That is what I would miss about New York, too.

I don't understand how people can live somewhere that doesn't have a bruch culture. What do people do on a Saturday at noon?

Of course I will leave at some point, but the food will be missed.