As a way to give thanks, I’d like to share with you all my favorite dessert of thanksgiving…probably of all time: warm, crumbly apple pie a la mode. Before you read on make sure to enjoy the picture below.

Last week,  a coworker of mine confessed he had never eaten apple pie a la mode (aka with vanilla ice cream). I stared at him blankly and responded “Are you fucking serious?” How can a grown man go through childhood without tasting America’s finest dessert? I know many people will disagree and counter with chocolate chip cookies, walnut brownies, or strawberry cheesecake; but no, you’re all wrong. And here’s why:

  1. Flavors – The ice cream brings a sweet, rich, creamy taste to the dish. The pie crust adds the taste of rich, buttery crust along with sweet cinnamon crumble. The apple pie filling binds the ice cream to the pie with it’s sweetness and tartness.
  2. Texture – The ice cream is smooth, soft, and velvety…literately melting in your mouth. The pie crust creates the flakiness and crunch that perfectly contrasts the ice cream. Finally, the sticky, runny pie filling acts as an apple cinnamon syrup to your apple pie sundae.
  3. Temperature – In order to serve this dessert right, you have to have cold, cold ice cream and warm apple pie. You’ll know you’ve done right because as soon as the ice cream hits the pie, it starts to show slow drips of vanilla running down the sides. The contrast between cold and warm is almost scandalous.

There’s nothing more American than that. Happy Thanksgiving!

Keeping up with the randomness that is this blog, here a great song and vid for the holiday:

Tom Tom Club – Genius of Love

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Resto Leon

August 27, 2008

So my 25th birthday came and went with little fanfare. Not that I expected a blowout, after all my it was a Monday and I’m 25. As my cohort Soybomb so deftly put it, birthdays are only cool until you turn 21. Although I admit, it would’ve been pretty glorious to rip 25 shots in celebration of my status as a legal car-renter. But being that I’m not one for huge parties anyways, all I wanted was a low-key dinner with my good friends.

I’m a big French bistro fan and despite the indecisive nature of our crew, we picked Resto Leon (thanks Fresh) a small place on 12th between 1st and 2nd. It’s a dimly lit, unassuming place, complete with a sidewalk patio. The mood inside was definitely mellow and the staff anything but pretentious. My friends and I were impressed by the menu which, while simple, offered something for everyone. Several kids swore by the salmon tartar and my roommate all but licked the bottom of his bowl of corn soup. I got what I had my mind set on from the jump, possibly my favorite meal, steak frites. It didn’t disappoint and the portions were more than enough. Of course someone ratted out that we were there for a birthday and the staff came charging out singing with a chocolate souffle in tow. Dank.

If I were to pinpoint one aspect that could’ve been a tad better, it would be the music. I’m probably more picky than most on this front, but the sounds fluctuated in both volume and genre. When we first arrived, the tunes floated from downtempo electronic, reggae and soul, which was perfect. But as the night progressed, the music strayed towards louder dance and disco tunes, which seemed out of place in such a chill spot. I think the staff noticed the incongruence and switched back to the earlier theme. All in all, I had a great time and wouldn’t have a birthday any other way. As for the menu, it’s reasonably priced…although I couldn’t really tell you cause I didn’t pay, ya heard? Thanks guys! You suckaaaaas. Ha.

I was really looking forward to this weekend. With a trip home to the cozy confines of Charlottesville, VA on the docket, I was anticipating a few days full of nothing. I planned on catching up on sleep, eating some good food and basically just basking in the glorious laziness that generally accompanies life on the home front. As it turns out, the comfort gods had other plans.

It started with a delayed flight. Fine, it’s not like I’ve ever flown out of LaGuardia on time anyways. So what’s an hour delay? Or two. Or three. Or four. A flight that should have had me home by 10PM, careened down the runway in Cville at close to 2AM. Good times.

Home at last, all I wanted to do was to pass out and forget about the trip. Again the powers that be scoffed at my arrogance. I awoke fully nauseated at 5AM and spent the rest of the night in the john. As it turns out, the meal I put down at LaGuardia’s finest Asian establishment “Simply Asian,” had no intention of staying down. One might wonder…why on earth would I eat Asian food at an airport? Hindsight is 20/20 my friends. When the other options are McDonald’s and a crusty-ass burrito joint, chicken and broccoli begins to look like ambrosia.

Food poisoning sucks, especially when my duty for the following day was to stand in line at the DMV to renew my driver’s license. Miserable. I guess the lesson to be learned is never eat anything remotely complicated at an airport, specially anything called “Simply Asian.” More like “Simply Fucked.” I rarely use this space to indulge in my own personal rants, but I had to bitch to someone. Sorry.

This morning I celebrated the birth of our nation with a big ass helping of Frosted Mini Wheats (Maple & Brown Sugar edition). The site of those sugary nuggets tumbling into the bowl had me feeling giddy and I eagerly coated them with 2% milk. As I shoveled the last scrumptious morsels of rectangular goodness into my face I began thinking: what else epitomizes democracy and free will, the very cornerstones of our nation’s founding, better than cereal? Honestly, when one walks down the cereal aisle, the options are endless, and quite frankly, sometimes overwhelming. I firmly believe that if John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were to take a gander down the cereal aisle at the local Food Emporium, they would be overjoyed at the abundance of choices with which Americans are blessed. If forced to make a choice themselves, I believe they would go for Cheerios, the most fundamentally sound cereal on the market. Rich with nutrients and solidly composed of honey and oates, Cheerios are quintessentially American and would have JA and TJ ready to engage in semantic battles in no time.

I then began thinking of all the cereals that I’ve consumed in the quarter century I’ve spent on this earth. For nearly a decade of my childhood I was a loyal customer of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. It was one of the few cereals my mother and I could agree upon. From her perspective it was healthy enough, and from mine, Cinnamon Toast Crunch had just enough brown sugar to earn credibility amongst my peers. As I slowly gained autonomy from my mother’s dictatorial breakfast food decision making, I began to venture into more sugar coated cereals, namely Cocoa Puffs and Frosted Mini Wheats. There’s nothing better than eating a cereal that leaves the milk a completely different color than when you began eating. As I’ve grown older and wiser, I’ve begun to appreciate the merits of a healthy breakfast and have gravitated towards more fiber-rich cereals like Kellog’s Smart Start and even Raisin Bran, a cereal that I detested as a child. I believe that if my ten year-old self saw my 24 year-old self eating Raisin Bran, he would kick my ass. But now there’s a variation that includes crunchy bits of granola that livens up the taste. When I’m feeling adventurous these days, I’ve been opting for Cocoa Krispies, which much like this blog, explode with flavor.

As many cereals that I’ve eaten in my years, there are so many that I haven’t even tried. I’ve never spent much time with Cap’n Crunch, Count Chocula or Kix. Never explored Life, Apple Jacks or Chex. Never tasted Honey Bunches of Oates, Boo Berry or Smacks. There are so many in fact, that one could probably pick one cereal to eat each year for the duration of a lifetime and still not try all of them. That’s what I call choice. God Bless America.

Let me know what some of your favorites are and if you’re bored, check out a full list of cereals here at Wikipedia.

Banh Mi @ Saigon Bakery

June 12, 2008

Apologies for my posting impotence, and thanks to vanillahead for keeping up with his share.

Two weeks ago, my friend from work and I ventured into the most delicious part of NYC, Chinatown. We walked quickly past the fruit vendors and fish mongers on the streets with our sights set on one goal: Saigon Bakery’s banh mi sandwich. NYC food enthusiasts proclaim this hole-in-the-wall to have the greatest banh mi sandwich in the city. I agree, and the fact that this sandwich shop shares it’s space with a jewelry store silently mocks large establishments.

To those who have not yet tasted banh mi, it consists of a French baguette dressed with mayo and paté and is filled with pickled carrots, daikon, cilantro and a selection of meat (hot peppers and sauce can also be requested). I’ve only tried the roast pork, and am hesitant to stray to other meats. There’s no point in fixing what’s not broken. The sandwich is served cold, and the sweet pickled veggies and meat perfectly contrast the savory bread with mayo and paté. And…it cost me $3.75. Those who are vegetarians need not to worry, Saigon Bakery has a vegetarian banh mi appropriately named Buddha’s Delight.

Now each time I’m in Chinatown, I find myself debating between chinese and banh mi. Both are relatively low in price, but I’ve definitely been favoring my newly discovered sandwich. My record has been five banh mi meals in one week. I’m beginning to think the Saigon Bakery workers recognize my face, which is fine with me.

Saigon Bakery (138 Mott Street)

Plantains

May 7, 2008

Until recently, I have not ventured into Latin American/South American cuisine. I’ve always equated their food with the typical TexMex/Taco Bell pu pu platter of bland meat, rice, and beans wrapped into a tortilla or taco shell. I like being able to taste my food and not having to douse it with hot sauce for flavor.

Apparently, I have been mistaken. True Latin/South American food is full of flavors ranging from their buttery white rice to their fried sweet plantains. Now I come to the main reason for my post: to explain my current obsession with plantains and why you should try them too.

Plantains are usually mistaken for unripened bananas, however, they are similar and yet vastly different from their cousin fruit. My personal fixation with plantains comes from their dexterity through cooking and preparation. Green plantains can be sliced and fried into delicious and crispy plantain chips, rivaling any bag of FritoLay concoction. Overripe plantains can be sliced and pan-fried into a syrupy, sugary dessert sweeter than any banana you’ve ever had. My personal favorite is the fried sweet plantains which can easily prepared in your kitchen or ordered at a local Latin restaurant. There are plenty of other good dishes on those menus, but I definitely guarantee you won’t be disappointed with the plantains.

The Odeon

April 24, 2008

When it opened almost thirty years ago, iconic Tribeca restaurant The Odeon was a place to see and be seen for Manhattan’s cool crowd. Today, the city’s social elite has found hipper, more exclusive spots, but that’s perfectly fine with me. This means I can actually get a table.

The Odeon maintains an aura of history and you can almost sense the ghosts of Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and the Brat Pack hovering around the bar. The atmosphere is cool and whether you go to drink and socialize or go for a good meal, there’s always an interesting crowd. The menu can be pricey, but I can’t think of a better place to go for a special dinner with friends.

All this adds up to one of my favorite restaurants in the city. Oh yea, that and The Odeon appears on the cover of Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights Big City, one of my all-time favorite books. What up Tad Allagash?