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Andre’s Cafe

15 Jan

Are you a New Yorker?  A frequent visitor? Maybe you’ve been here just once?

Yes? Have you ever been to Andre’s Cafe? No? Tsk tsk.

Oh, come off it Ann! A Hungarian place all the way up in the barren no-man’s land also known as the circle of hell the Second Avenue Subway hath wrought? Why should I bother?

Why? Because your preconception of Hungarian food is probably wrong and you like good coffee. Oh, and because you deserve a pastry today!

Well, sure, I always deserve a pastry, but aren’t Hungarian pastries stuffed with, uhm, poppy seeds and gummy cheese?

Gasp.  Get yourself to Andre’s, stat!

We went this weekend for lunch and it was great.  Everyone thinks of Hungarian food as paprikash and strudel and sticky pastries and these things are available at Andre’s, but when they’re done properly and well (read not by your mother in the ’80s as an attempt to cook something new and exciting) they’re utterly sublime.

Oh, and the coffee!  As we sat rhapsodizing over how delicious and balanced it was, the little old lady sitting next to me leaned in, “Isn’t it divine?” she asked, “It’s the best coffee I’ve ever had. It’s what keeps me coming back, well, that and the pastries.  Every time I eat here I call my brother and say ‘You have to come to New York and try this coffee!’ That’s how much I love it.”

Yeah.  That pretty much sums it up.

But coffee, coffee’s just a beverage Ann! What about the food?

Andre’s specializes in both savory and sweet strudels (I’m going back for the cabbage strudel, you can be sure) and palacsinta; crepes filled with delicious things like pepper stew (lecso), mushrooms (the couple that replaced the old lady oohed and aahed over these) and cheese with dill and bacon (I’m going back for that too).  And as if that wasn’t enough they also serve full dinners, sandwiches, soups and yeah, pastries.

Bacon, bacon and more bacon below the fold.

Auspicious, Delicious

7 Jan

Well, hello there! Happy 2010 to you!

I hope your New Year started well, in fact, I honestly hope your New Year started with as delicious, and auspicious, a meal as ours did.

I decided that this Christmas was going to be the Christmas of beans.  It was a bold choice, I know, but much like any other person who has been touched by zeal, I felt the need to spread the gospel even if it meant giving gifts of dubious motivation.  So since my stepsister was getting a new crockpot from us, it was full of beans.  And since both of Isaac’s parents hail from the South, they got beans too.  Plus, both my stepsister and Isaac’s mom are trained anthropologists.  I figured that despite initial skepticism, they would come to see the beauty, cultural significance and, most importantly, the deliciousness of my gift.

I’m still waiting.

But, really, this is all just a long-winded way of saying that I kept a bag of beans for myself.  I mean, a girl needs to gift herself at Christmas too, right?  I had ordered a bag of Yellow-Eye beans to give to my stepsister, but when they arrived, they were so beautiful and so full of promise I just had to keep them.

And so we found ourselves on New Year’s Day watching the snow and the birds and boiling a ham hock and soaking beans.

Head below the fold for my versions of Hoppin’ John, Collard Greens and Red Rice, with a twist, of course.

Pork Store

7 Dec

Are there any two more beautiful words in all the world than “Pork Store”?

If there are, I’m unaware of them.  And it was these two magical words that came out of Isaac’s mouth early Saturday afternoon as we were bandying about what to cook for dinner.

I wanted a pork roast, he wanted a roasted chicken, and then somehow in searching the Internet, Isaac stumbled upon Rolf’s and all our wants and needs were forgotten.  All we could think of was sausage.

So we jumped in the car and headed north and as we drove it became snowier and snowier.  But we didn’t care! There were wursts and schinken at the end of the highway!

Sausages and schiken and snow oh my! More after the break.

Mt. Greylock

1 Dec

We got to the top, and there was nothing to see.

And yet in a completely white world, there was plenty.  After spending about 10 minutes in blinding whiteness I concluded that I’m really quite happy I never settled on “Arctic Exlorer” as a career path.

We thought we were supposed to be following the red blazes, which took us tromping off willynilly into the forest.  Multiple times they would just *poof* disappear.  But the baby blue blazes, they looked solid and dependable, so we decided to follow them.

And they took us to the top.  Up through the ancient, breathing, dripping rain forest and out into the wide white world, 2,200 feet above where we started.

What to eat after a seven mile hike? Pork of course!

Searching For Directions

16 Jul

The Internet has its uses.

You can find love, sex and friendship.  You can buy a car, music, a house, new shoes, shampoo and books.  You can sell couches, handicrafts, taxidermy and used appliances.  You can make yourself sound smarter, look prettier and cook better.  You can stalk your ex, find your long-lost best friend and pretend you’re someone else.  You can also read this blog.

But of all these miracles of the Internet, I’ve found one consistent failing.  Directions.

A few years ago, Isaac and I spent a dreamy, wonderful week in the Finger Lakes.  Our first hotel actually had a free-flowing spigot of wine about 11 feet from our room’s door.  It was kind of like being a kid in a candy store.  It was the most beautiful October New York state has ever had, and we spent it outdoors traveling from vineyard to vineyard, winding through the most picturesque back roads, eating at Diner-aunts and just generally relaxing.

But the trip didn’t start out this way.  We set out from New York City and headed north.  We followed the directions–printed out from the internet–exactly.  But no matter what we did or how many times we backtracked and tried again, we just kept ending up in a grocery store’s parking lot.

After a five hour drive, and with the promise of free-flowing wine, this is not exactly the place that dreams are made of.  So we circled the parking lot until one of us managed a very weak signal on our cellphone.  “Hello? Oh, yes hi. We’re supposed to be staying at your hotel tonight, but the directions from your website have us ending up in a grocery store parking lot.” “Oh, no! Do we still have the Mapquest directions up on the site?  Oh yeah, you can’t trust those.”

Head below the fold for a Massachusetts adventure that starts badly, but ends very, very well.