Search results for 'Bay Ridge'

Learning To Cook, Bay Ridge Style

7 Feb

New York City is a city of neighborhoods. This may come as a surprise to some non-New Yorkers, but yeah, there’s some truth to the way TV shows and movies portray us; we do stop and talk to our neighbors, ask about the grand-kids and pet the puppy next door.

The other thing about New York neighborhoods is that each one has its own distinctive rhythm and flavor that, much like my personality, is as much a product of it’s past as it is of it’s present. To me, the easiest way to spot these pasts and presents is, of course, in the food.

Fish Stew

The Lower East Side was giddy, transient, loud, brash, hopeful. It was the place for new immigrants to stop first, be they Eastern European Jews, Puerto Ricans & Dominicans, a diaspora of Asian cultures or college graduates from Ottumwa, Iowa. There were tons of bars, tons of places to get great Cubanos and haute cuisine, Asian groceries, Jewish delis, yuppie bodegas and nerdy wine shops. I could get nearly anything I wanted at nearly any hour of the day.

And Bay Ridge? Yeah, not so 24-7.

It may be too soon to be drawing grand conclusions about our new home, but I’m a bit of a impetuous ass at times and will do so anyway. Bay Ridge reminds me of my childhood. Stores are closed on Sunday. When they’re open on Saturday, you can’t be sure for how long they’ll remain so, as it really does depend on what the proprietor feels like doing. Thursday is the late-night shopping night. The fish guy stays open later on Friday. This is one traditional little neighborhood. Might it have something to do with it’s Italian, Scandinavian and Irish heritages? Yeah, I’m willing to jump to that conclusion.

I’ve quickly marked five spots as my “go to” locations for quick eats that are really, really Bay Ridge.

There’s a Scandinavian grocery that sells the most wonderful multi-grain rolls, veal and pork sausages, everything lingonberry, and yes, Hamcheese In A Tube.

Hamcheese In A Tube

There’s Polbridge (the only one who’s name I can remember) conveniently located next door to Polonica, that carries, bestill my beating heart, Podravka Liver Pate, the very same stuff we ate the hell out of while in Croatia. That right there was worth all the pain and suffering the move entailed!

There’s the Italian fish market (open late on Friday) which is just down the block from Cangiano’s, the Italian grocery that has everything except vegetables (and fish) and makes so-so fresh mozzarella.

And finally, directly across the intersection from the Italians is a Korean grocery of the most wonderful and classic sort; reasonably priced and full of diverse fruits and vegetable that, since they’re the only game in town as far as produce goes (as far as I can tell) is always really fresh because of their high turnover.

Brasciole and Bitter Greens

See? Quite the little United Nations of food! And I haven’t even begun to try parsing all the different Middle Eastern, Turkish and Egyptian groceries that blanket the hood!

And so what have I been cooking? Mainly Italian. It’s comforting, easy, warm, quick and a cuisine I know like the back of my hand (despite not having a drop of it in me). Our first real meal in the house was a thrown together fish stew. The second, my first experience ever with pre-packed, grocer-prepared “convenience meat,” a take on brasciole.

I can’t wait for this weekend when we actually have the weekend to ourselves. No Time Warner, no movers, no shakers, no noones but us. I’m hoping to do some bread baking, some stewing and maybe some exploring of those Middle Eastern delis!

Oh, and can you tell I’ve found a new blog that I love? Dave, the guy behind Eating In Translation is eating his way through the Five Boroughs and taking us along for the ride. This is really great stuff! Dig in, explore and enjoy!

Head below the jump for recipes for Bay Ridge “Caciucco” and Brasciole With Bitter Greens.

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Bay To Bay

21 Aug

From Bay Ridge to the Bay Area and back again.

Sunny San Fran

That’s kind of how I feel. Dazzled and sun-burnt. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that much sunshine in my life. And yes, we were in San Francisco!

Telegraph Hill

Before the trip I had picked up Patricia Unterman‘s food guide which turned out to be a good move. We hit the ground starving. We sat one row away from business class and were therefore tortured for the entire flight by the aromas of real food and warm cookies and the tantalizing trays of champers. Stupid airlines. Couldn’t even spare me a cookie? Bah.

The Bay Bridge

This little book is really quite indispensable to any food lover heading to San Fran. By no means comprehensive it is however a good guide to what sorts of food you can find in and around the city by the bay. We headed straight for Chinatown to ABC Bakery & Restaurant. I was promised soup dumplings. What I got were amazing dumplings and wontons with soup. I’m cool with that.

Annie Street!

From there we puttered around Telegraph Hill and the Embarcadero, saw City Lights bookshop and the Ferry Terminal Market and had tapas at B44. I was promised fish cheeks, but had to settle on dungeness crab stuffed piquillo peppers. I was cool with that too.

The Mission

The next day we did what we do best. We walked. 11 miles in total if our memories and gmaps pedometer are to be believed! We turned right out of our hotel (such a deal if you don’t mind sharing a bathroom and shower) and headed up Mission, breakfasting on some truly excellent street tacos.

Painted Lady

I know it is cliche, but seriously, those Victorian painted ladies are stunning! I’d be so intimidated if I owned one. You have to have such a good eye to pick out all those complimentary colors.

Palacio Latino

Real estate porn can work up a mighty hunger so the Boy and I popped into Palacio Latino. We’ve settled on a new rule for eating. If a restaurant is packed with locals and showing a football (soccer) match in the native tongue, the food is probably solid. This rule has never led us wrong and boy did it serve us well with this joint.

Tostada with Beets, Red Cabbage, Meat Sauce and Hard Boiled Egg

The menu at Palacio Latino is crazy and the food so good I broke my cardinal rule of restaurant eating and took a picture. It’s South American, to be sure, but there’s an odd Eastern European twist to it. I mean, they’ve got borscht! Even though I know I should have, I didn’t try it. I wasn’t that hungry unfortunately. But we did try the tamales (eh), the Pupusas and the Enchiladas Chapiunas, the Technicolor dish you see above.

Noe Hill Door

The pupusas, little masa pancakes stuffed with cheese and beans, came with a cabbage salad that would have been perfectly at home served beside a plate of pierogis at Polonica. (By the way, the world needs more pupusa places, you hear that world!) And the enchiladas? Amazing. Sublime even. Dilled beets and red cabbage dressed with vinegar and chiles on top of a meat sauce that would have been at home with my grandmother’s galumpkies topped with cheese, raw onion and hard boiled egg? What could possibly be wrong with that? Nothing! It was awesome.

San Fran

We left the Mission and headed to the Noe Valley, and then the Hayes Valley, and finally up to the top of Russian Hill.

Coit Tower

Why? I have no idea! Our feet felt light and it was a beautiful day. By the time we hit Fisherman’s Wharf I was a little cranky, but, at mile 9 or so, I’d say that’s to be expected.

Fisherman's Wharf

And so we turned home-wards. The only problem is, there was this giant hill in between us and our hotel. We originally started to go over it, but damn, no way. Those are some serious hills to tackle after a serious walk, so we went around it.

Big Hill, Big Boat

After much walking a big dinner is called for. Unfortunately we didn’t know where to go. If I had just listened to the good book we would have ended up at Original Joe’s without tacking on an extra couple of miles, but no, I had to grumble and grouse and come to the place by my own path.

San Fran Garden

There are no pictures of dinner or the restaurant. Why? Because while Original Joe’s may be awesome and the steaks delicious and perfectly cooked, it happens to sit on a rather sad, downtrodden and sketchy block in the Tenderloin and, well, I just didn’t feel right whipping out my camera to take a picture while trying to fend off beggars and junkies, especially with a belly full of incredibly perfect T-bone. So, you’ll just have to imagine a scene from Mad Men where they’re all in an at-that-time classy steak and cocktails joint and then re-imagine it in 2007. Nothing’s changed except there’s no crinoline.

Downtown San Fran

The next day, with sore feet and owie knees we decided to go easy on ourselves and take the ferry to Alameda and the Hangar One distillery and tasting room. The ferry conveniently leaves from the Ferry Terminal Market, so we breakfasted on Acme Bread and Cowgirl Creamery sandwiches, checked in with the wine merchants to be sure we knew where we were heading and set out to taste us some vodka in the afternoon. But alas, to no avail.

Bay Bridge

I’d like to air my frustration with Hangar One at this point in time. Anyone who doesn’t want to listen to me rant should move on. *ahem* Dear Hangar One; My boyfriend and I decided to spend our last day in San Francisco with you. We did our due diligence, we checked websites and schedules, we paid $22 for ferry tickets, we walked 20 minutes in the beating sun to arrive at your tasting room where there were 20 people sitting outside laughing and drinking. We tried the door, it was locked. We noticed the sign, it said, “Open Wednesday-Sunday.” It was Monday, and yet, there was a door open and people carousing, so I stuck my head in and said to the guy behind the counter, “Are you open?” to which he replied, “No.” I stuck my head back out of the door to make sure I hadn’t hallucinated the 20 or so people and said to him, “Really?” to which he said, “YES.” I replied, “But your website said you were open 7 days…” to which he replied, “Then you looked at the wrong one,” and turned back to the guy to whom he was giving samples of the wares. The conversation was obviously over.

Hangar One

Rather pissed, I stomped back to the ferry terminal, 20 minutes in blazing sun, to find that we had just missed a ferry and another would not arrive for over an hour. So thank you Hangar One, thank you for your hospitality and understanding. I know if I owned a business and a sweaty, dusty person popped her head in, that I would treat her in just the same way. Really, honest. I wouldn’t offer her a taste of something, just to make her feel special, after spending a nice chunk of money and 3 hours simply to come visit my establishment. Nope, I sure wouldn’t do that.

This is what I stared at for an hour and a half while waiting for the ferry in Alameda.

And just so I don’t sound incredibly crazy, yes I do know they were closed and that they had every right to treat me that way. But, this one experience has transformed me from someone who enjoyed drinking, purchasing and recommending Hagar One to friends and strangers alike into someone who will now steer people away from delicious mandarin blossom and kaffir lime vodkas. This makes me rather sad. I really loved their stuff.

Tugboat

Incredibly frustrated and frankly pissed, I boarded the ferry back to San Fran (the Boy was less pissed and frustrated than I was and was a really good sport to listen to my rantings and ravings). I was dejected, and sad. Even arriving back in the market and purchasing some chocolates and cookies couldn’t help, so the Boy took pity on me, bought some bread and cheese and we headed back to the hotel and had an impromptu nosh in Yerba Buena on truly great bread and exceptional cheese.

Baker Beach

After that, I was ready to leave San Fran and head for the hills, but there was one thing left I needed to do. I had to dip my toes in the Pacific. Baker Beach was on the way to the Golden Gate Bridge so we stopped there. The Boy loved the old embattlements, I loved the fog.

Pelicans

I did not love the naked guy doing yoga on the beach. I later learned that Baker Beach is the naked beach. Oh well, I suppose this prudish East Coaster should learn to loosen up from time to time!

Golden Gate Bridge

So San Francisco, thank you. You were a lovely host and I can’t wait to come back and visit again as soon as I can.

Golden Gate Bridge

More to come: Crab sandwiches and Napa and Sonoma and wine and barbecue and tacos oh my! Stay tuned.

An Upper West Side Story

23 Apr

I think I’m in love.

Of course, I’ve thought I was in love before.  But it was never for real.  When I first moved to New York, I thought I loved the Lower East Side.  But it was too hard.  Too noisy.  And after 9/11, too fraught with memory.  We needed some time apart.

So I moved to Brooklyn.  Where I thought I was in love again.  But when I lost my job, the herd of toddlers living above me who treated the hallway above where I slept as their own personal playground and enjoyed flooding their bathtub so that it would rain down into my bathroom became too much.  I fell out of love.  I just couldn’t take it.

So I moved to Park Slope.  I thought I loved Park Slope, but what I really loved was the park.  I didn’t love the neighborhood.  My feelings about my neighbors can be illustrated with a single anecdote.  I was walking to the subway one morning, behind a gentleman in a suit, when a child on a tricycle zoomed past, nearly knocking me onto a stoop.  The child smashed into the gentleman, the tricycle’s tire riding up his pants leg, smearing it with mud.  The child’s mother ran up to him and screamed into his face, “Jesus Christ, why don’t you watch were you’re f*cking going!”  I wasn’t in love with Park Slope.

So I moved to Cobble Hill.  I did love Cobble Hill.  And I loved the apartment I was in.  But I didn’t love my roommate or the landlord who lived below us with his wife and two boys who felt our apartment was an extension of their apartment.  They would just barge in at any time and make themselves at home.  And their father often did the same thing.  It was creepy and I already had a man in my life, so I decided to move in with him.

It’s amazing I ever agreed to move here. Find out why after the jump.

Change

23 Jan

Change is in the air.

We (finally!) have a new president, big things are happening for both Isaac and I at work and we’re moving.

No, sorry Lydia, not upstate.  But we are moving on up, uptown in fact, to the Upper West Side.

Our two years in Bay Ridge were an experiment.  After living together in an apartment that more closely resembled a small watercraft (with a very small kitchen) than a place to live on land, we decided that space trumped an easy commute.  We packed up and moved to the far, far reaches of Brooklyn.

At first it was joyous; a new neighborhood with new quirks and so much good food to explore.  But as the months dragged on and my job, especially, became increasingly intense, the hour or more spent each way commuting to and from work has become too much.  And so, when an email popped up on my BlackBerry from a co-worker who was vacating a small (but not that small) two-room studio a block-and-a-half from Central Park, we jumped on it.

Click here for more Change.

The Other, Other Island

7 Aug

I bought a car last week.

I know this may not sound like extraordinary news, especially since in, let’s say, 98% of the country most people own at least one car, if not several. But here in the city? Not so much. I sold my last car over 10 years ago when I moved here.

And I’ve been just fine without one. Sure, there have been plenty of times when the freedom a car offers has been a longed for and wished for luxury, but until recently, it just hasn’t been possible or necessary. That said, I’m very excited to have that flexibility back in my life. And of course, I’ve already named him, Oliver, in honor of my favorite episode of the best show on television.

So, you might be asking yourself, “Well gee Ann, what’s going on?” Well, you see, there are some changes afoot chez Granny Cart that necessitate the owning of a car. I don’t feel 100% comfortable sharing those changes with you yet, but I can say a few things. One: we are not leaving the city, never fear! And two, when everything is all set and done with, I probably won’t be able to talk about anything else, so sit tight friends!

The whole buying process was a little fraught. So when the weekend finally rolled around, it was time to take Oliver out for a drive. There are so many interesting places to go when you own a car in New York. We could finally go to Storm King; 500 acres of monumental sculptures and rolling hills. Or, we could head north and take a kayak tour of Bannerman Castle. Or, we could drive to Philadelphia to satisfy that decade-long pretzel craving I’ve been suffering. Or, we could drive to New Haven to finally figure out what all the fuss is about.

But, we decided not to do any of these things, at least, not at first. Instead, we popped over the Verrazano Bridge and went to Staten Island. Poor Staten Island… It’s definitely the most beleaguered borough. To wit, on Monday, one of my co-workers asked me what I’d done on my first weekend as a car owner. I told him where we’d gone, and with a pained look on his face he said, “Ann, don’t you realize, most people buy a car to escape Staten Island?”

Well, that might be true, but we had a blast. We went hiking in the Greenbelt, an amazing 2,500 acre park in the middle of the island. No, that’s not a typo, two thousand five hundred acres of untouched virgin woods and hills and swamps and ponds with 35 miles of trails (pdf) weaving in and out and up and down smack-dab in the middle (okay, slightly on the periphery) of New York City. That’s pretty amazing when you stop to think about it.

I used to have a lot more time in my life to sit around and surf the web looking for cool things to do with my copious free time. And even though those times are long gone, sometimes I’m able to recall a nearly forgotten post, like this one, that I’d filed away in that “maybe, someday” corner of my brain.

We hiked for nearly three hours and never saw another person, and only occasionally was the reality that we were still in New York City forced upon us. If you can’t make it to the Catskills or to the Adirondacks, seriously, this is a next best thing. Beautiful, chockablock with nature, quiet, solitary and simply gorgeous, I can’t recommend the Greenbelt highly enough. What an under appreciated treasure!

But, that wasn’t it. Oh no. Staten Island had much more to offer us than just the woods. After a quick stop to refuel with a slice from a pizza joint in a strip mall that seemed to have not been touched by the passing of time since, oh, they filmed Saturday Night Fever, we went to the beach, because, remember, Staten Island really is an island!

Great Kills is part of the National Park Service’s Gateway Recreation Area, which is made up of coastline in Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens and New Jersey. We only stayed for a few minutes, just long enough for me to pad about in the water and make a cursory pass of beach combing. The sky was threatening rain, and we had to get home with enough time to make dinner and do the laundry. I was sad to leave, but, I have a car now! I can go back anytime I want!

I was craving steak for dinner, but due to a few driving snafus, we didn’t make it home before all the neighborhood butchers had closed. So, I had to make do with what was lying around the house. I had some eight-ball squash, two frozen sausages, eggs and olives. Yeah, I could make dinner with that!

I chopped and scooped and sautéed and stuffed and came up with stuffed squash to serve with the minted white cabbage slaw that had been planned for. It was a wonderful dinner, but as often happens, we found that the squash are even better a few days later, as leftovers, with a chopped tomato salad of heirloom tomatoes, basil, garlic and dressed with good balsamic and olive oil spooned over top. This was my dinner last night, and it made me positively hum with delight.

It was a great end to a great day. We were sore and tanned from our adventures and full and happy from our dinner. I don’t know what all the fuss is about. I found the other (not Manhattan), other (not Long Island) island to be a quite pleasant place.

So, hang in there Staten Island! You’ve got at least one friend on the outside.

Head below the jump for the recipes for In-A-Pinch Stuffed Squash & Minted White Cabbage Slaw.

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