A Sarcastic Appetite

Thirsty Thursday Round-Up for the Week of March 24
March 27, 2014, 9:22 pm
Filed under: Restaurant Round-Up | Tags: ,


So it’s been six months or so since I posted here last and I figured you were all due for a blog update. At least consider some of these options as potential weekend plans; I am nothing if not helpful. And if what all you really want to read are terrible internet dating stories, well, then, shoot me an email and maybe I’ll oblige.


Looking for Saturday night dinner plans? I scanned OpenTable and as of 10pm on Thursday, here are your best bets for a table for two on Saturday: Picholine at 8:15; Tocqueville at 8:30; Lavagna at 7:45; Lincoln, 8:00; The Modern – Bar Room, 8:00; The Apiary, 8:15; Costata, 7:30; Empellon Cocina, 7:30.

Gothamist does a little round-up of food events this weekend, including a Harlem Food Truck Rally (and now I know what I’ll be doing on Saturday afternoon).

Immaculate Infatuation also does a nice little “Spring 2014 Hit List,” featuring Bobby Flay’s Gato and Narcissa at the Standard East Village. I’m also partial to French Louie, since it’s by the same people who brought you Buttermilk Channel so you know it’s going to be good.

Also, for those of you who are curious, Drew Nieporent does a really interesting interview with Eater NY on his new restaurant, Bâtard, and his dislike of all things “New American.” Meanwhile, Ryan Skeen gives a hilarious interview with Restaurant Girl, notable for his claim that he “[hasn't] been the chef at any restaurant since Allen & Delancey in 2009″ which is interesting given that he was listed as the chef and cooking in the kitchen on both my visits to the late 83 1/2 (remember that?).

The photos above, if you’re curious, clockwise from the upper left: champagne and a latte at Alexandra; “family dinner” with the Ninja at Blue Hill (we did the extended Farmer’s Feast tasting and it was divine); cocktails at Lantern’s Keep, which is better than ever after a menu revamp; and charcuterie & things at Benoit, a great Midtown standby, though their Negronis leave something to be desired.


Museums + Wine

IMG_1773 One of my favorite things to do is to check out a new museum exhibit….followed by wine somewhere great. It’s a win-win; I feel like I am actually taking advantage of living in New York, and then when I’m traumatized by the hordes of people also taking advantage of being in New York, I can retreat to a nearby bar over a glass of something delicious. (I also call these excursions “winetivities”…don’t tell my mother.)

So here’s what you need to see…and where you need to get a drink afterwards. Let me know how it goes.

What to see: Chagall: Love, War & Exile at the Jewish Museum (92nd and Madison)

Where to drink: Demarchelier (86th and Madison)

The Jewish Museum’s impressive exhibit explores Chagall’s wartime work, when he was living in Paris and later New York, from 1930-1948. His paintings during this time are haunting, with Biblical symbols (the Crucifixion was of utmost interest to Chagall, and often a symbol for the persecution of the Jews during the Holocaust) as well as other symbols of Russian folklore. When his wife Bella died suddenly in 1944, his paintings took on a more intimate sense of loss. Picasso is said to have remarked, “When Matisse dies, Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what colour really is.”

If you go on Saturdays, be prepared to be overwhelmed; the museum is free, and the exhibit will be packed. Read this introduction ahead of time. The Jewish Museum is closed on Wednesdays. Tickets are $15 if you don’t go on Saturdays, or you can Pay-What-You-Wish on Thursdays from 5-8pm.

When you’ve had enough, skip down Fifth Avenue to 86th Street, and pop over to Demarchelier for a glass of rosé champagne and some bar bites, including pâté and olives ($5 each).
What to see: Edgar Allan Poe: Terror of the Soul and “Lose not heart”: J. D. Salinger’s Letters to an Aspiring Writer at The Morgan Library (36th and Madison)
Where to drink: The Library at the NoMad (28th and Broadway)

Almost 100 items of Poe’s writing – from poetry to literary criticism – are on display until January 4, 2014, including Annabel Lee in Poe’s own hand. Also on display are works from other writers, from Dickens to T.S. Eliot, emphasizing Poe’s broad influence. Admission is $18.

The Morgan also has on exhibit nine letters J.D. Salinger wrote to a young Toronto woman, Marjorie Sheard, which are incredibly revealing of the late reclusive author. Salinger was just 22 when he responded to Marjorie’s request for advice, and The Catcher in the Rye existed only as a short story, “Slight Rebellion off Madison” in The New Yorker.

Once you’ve had your fill – and stopped in to check out Treasures from the Vault in Morgan’s 1906 library – take a stroll over to the NoMad Hotel, on 28th and Broadway. Yes, it’s a bit of a walk, and yes, it’s worth it. Weekend afternoons are a little quieter in this airy two story room replete with actual books (I checked). And the drinks are legendary, though lately I have been partial to the Jäger Zweigelt rosé, made in the Wachau valley in Austria.
What to see: The Tenement Museum (Orchard and Delancey)

Where to drink: Ten Bells (247 Broome Street, between Ludlow and Orchard)

The Tenement Museum, a National Historic Site, is one of the more underrated museums in the city. It requires a bit more planning; the best way to see the museum is through one of the many tours offered, and you’ll need a day or two’s notice as they tend to sell out. (Note most are not air-conditioned, so in August skip the tour and head straight to Ten Bells.) Tickets are $22.

When you’re ready for a drink, walk through the large, unmarked door at 247 Broome and you’ll find yourself a little oasis in Ten Bells. I’ve written about this place before and I think its wine list alone is worth the trek. It’s quiet in the afternoons, but definitely gets packed at night, so be forewarned. The boys at Immaculate Infatuation were not overwhelmed with it as a dinner destination, so just keep it in your back pocket for a late afternoon tipple.

Thirsty Thursday Round-Up for the Week of October 24
October 24, 2013, 8:49 pm
Filed under: Restaurant Round-Up


I’ll be honest: I kind of forgot about this blog. But apparently some of you didn’t! And in rereading some of my old posts recently, well, I remembered I kinda liked it too. So here we go again. I’m here to canvas the food blogs so you don’t have to – when I’m not hiking in Maine (top left), digging into brunch at Lafayette (bottom left), cozying up to a glass of champagne, or settling in with the very first issue of Equals, which I am really excited about.  Anyway, a couple of highlights this week:

Babbo just introduced a lunchtime truffle tasting menu for a cool $99. And if you really want to get after it, get yourself to the NoMad, where they’re serving white truffles at cost. (And while you’re there, have a couple drinks in the Library and thank me later.)

River Styx in Greenpoint is reason #75 I need to plan another neighborhood crawl. From the same people who brought you Roebling Tea Room in Williamsburg, River Styx is apparently hitting all the high notes with dinner and brunch crowds alike. (Unless, of course, you hate brunch.)

Empellon Cocina will welcome Grant Achatz as part of its latest Push Project on November 7…and yours truly will be there. To say I am excited would be a vast understatement; I’m still talking about the drinks I had at the Aviary a month ago.

New on Gothamist is a list of brunch spots that aren’t terrible, from The Dutch to Lobster Joint and my perennial favorite, Shopsin’s. (Bonus: more hating on brunch. Apparently the round-up has a theme this week.)

Toro tops Grub Street’s latest Power Rankings; it seems the 60-odd menu items are a hit. I was displeased at having to stomach $7 for one egg, deviled, but such is life. And I’d be lying if I said the bone marrow ($16) with oxtail marmalade was only ok – it was an absolute delight.

Restaurant Round-Up for the Week of June 27
June 30, 2013, 10:45 am
Filed under: Restaurant Round-Up


Hello, friends! I may or may not be working on another A Sarcastic Appetite Dates post…but in the meantime, here’s a round-up of what’s happening in the food world. I canvas the food blogs so you don’t have to. A couple of updates:

Pete Wells gives – GASP – one star to Andrew Carmellini’s Lafayette. In case you’ve been living under a rock, this is the newest resto from the guy behind Locanda Verde and The Dutch, and probably about two stars less than what they were hoping for. The burger is as phenomenal as everyone says. Try going at an off-hour, for a late lunch.

Over on The Bad Deal, Ryan Sutton may have broken the space-time continuum when he created a Mapo Tofu Taco.

Platt gets into ABC Cocina (the place is still mobbed on a regular basis) where the tacos are a little over-wrought and the prices a little high. I’d be lying if I said the drinks didn’t sound delicious.

A better rendition of a small plates place seemes to be Alder, Wylie Dufresne’s second venture after WD-50, according to Serious Eats.

The boys at Immaculate Infatuation are back with another Summer Guide – this time to Killing It. $2.99 gets you a huge rundown of where to eat, drink and hang this summer. My to-do list? The Pines, Rockaway Taco, and Vinegar Hill House. Hey, you gotta start somewhere.

Oh, and if you’re a cut-and-switch kinda guy (or gal), apparently you’re doing it all wrong. It turns out being left handed does have its benefits….

And if you’re in the mood for an over-the-top Pimm’s Cup, try the one at Whitehall (bottom right photo). It’s pretty decadent. And delicious.

A Sarcastic Appetite Dates: Some Nondescript Bar in Times Square
June 13, 2013, 8:00 pm
Filed under: Dating


Clearly, you all care a lot more about my hilariously terrible dates than anything I’m cooking in the kitchen. So here’s another edition of A Sarcastic Appetite Dates. Yes, this actually happened. 

How many dates have I had where I wanted to leave the moment I realized which guy was my date? Too many to count. How many times have I been fooled – no, fooled myself – into thinking that the one attractive online photo of the guy was how he actually looked, and not the 7 other ones where he looked like a distant relative of Chewbacca? Too many to count.

My date with, oh, let’s call him Chadwick was one such example. This was a couple years ago, when I was in the throes of my first real attempt at online dating, and boy was he a doozy. He had once nice photo, which I convinced myself was how he actually looked, and several others that painted a…less attractive picture. But I soldiered on anyway, convinced that he “looked nice.”

I don’t even remember how we started communicating.  Did he “wink” at me? Was that all it took?  Had I set the bar too low for myself? Did I need to rethink this? Did I need to rethink a lot of things? All of it was possible.

At any rate, we exchanged a few emails before agreeing to meet for drinks the week after Thanksgiving. I had mentioned in one missive that I was flying home the following morning – I had written something along the lines of “I can’t get too crazy!”

Well, I would have been in spectacular company, because Chadwick WAS crazy.

He suggested meeting in front of the Heartland Brewery in Midtown, and I reluctantly agreed. I repeat – we had agreed to meet at the Heartland Brewery. In Midtown. A block from Radio City. Three weeks before Christmas. I had to fight my way past overweight tourists walking four abreast (gah) carrying loads of shopping bags from unique New York stores like Aldo (double gah).

I sauntered up to the plaza outside Heartland, where a throng of people was also waiting for their dates. Oh – there’s a cute gentleman standing over the—nope, that’s his wife. Ooh, maybe that guy—nope, he’s with that girl. And all of a sudden this short (er than he said he was online), awkward guy looking hilariously out of place and somewhat terrified turned toward me and I knew instantly: Chadwick.

Fighting the urge to run, I instead walked over and introduced myself, and it became clear that Chadwick was having a meltdown.

“The wait is over an hour,” he moaned. “I don’t know where else to go.”

I knew I was going to have to salvage this situation – but my mind had gone blank. I couldn’t remember where one might go for drinks in the neighborhood because I never went for drinks in the neighborhood. All I could think of was Maggie’s Place, on 47th and Madison, which I hesitantly suggested.

“It’s too far,” Chadwick cried. “I don’t want to have to cross 6th again. There are so many people!” He looked like he was going to pass out. And he had suggested this! If figuring out a plan B for drinks in Midtown a few weeks before Christmas was enough to put this guy in a coma, what about when something really terrible happened?

Is it too late to bail, I wondered. What if I just disappear into the hordes of tourists. Could he catch me? I don’t think he could catch me.

But my politeness won over – it seemed too mean to run away.

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A Sarcastic Appetite Dates: Cafe Lalo
May 16, 2013, 9:18 pm
Filed under: Dating


Image courtesy of Sameer Narula

When I brought the blog back, I was open to taking it in a few new directions. This is one of them. It’s food related only in that it took place at a restaurant. But if it’s entertaining enough, I may continue sacrificing myself to the online dating gods for your reading pleasure. There’s certainly enough content. 

The date was set for 8pm at Cafe Lalo on the Upper West Side. The gentleman in question – let’s call him Bernard – got points for simply picking a place, without 75 text exchanges over where and when, and do you work in Midtown East or Midtown West? But he was coming off a weekend of minus 1,000 points, mostly due to his incessant need to text me at all times with just: “Hey :- ).”

It was something about the nose that made me breathe fire. Who was this guy, and why did he insist on texting me to say absolutely nothing – with a smiley face AND a nose? There was only one way to find out.

So promptly at 8pm I bounded up the steps of Cafe Lalo, after wasting the appropriate amount of time perusing the goods on display at Organic Avenue. (I fled.) Suddenly, I was on the set of You’ve Got Mail. Should I have brought a red rose? I thought. Am I going to meet Tom Hanks?

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Rajmah, or Red Kidney Bean Curry
May 13, 2013, 7:28 pm
Filed under: Recipes


I got on a chickpea salad for lunch kick awhile back – stop laughing, they were actually pretty good. There’s a “tuna salad” version and an “egg salad” version (plus relish, celery, and scallions). Don’t knock them ’til you’ve tried them – they’re delicious. I liked both, but was partial to the “egg salad” one because it basically tasted like the inside of a deviled egg with the veiled healthfulness of chickpeas. In a word, yum.

So I was on the hunt for a couple cans of chickpeas and somehow managed to grab two cans of red kidney beans instead. I am turning into my mother (the metamorphosis is almost complete). As a kid I’d go crazy when she’d return from the market with jalapeno-American cheese, or the wrong kind of milk, and I could never understand how she couldn’t see she was buying the wrong stuff and it was so important because I obviously didn’t want regular lemonade, I wanted pink lemonade! Oh, to be a kid again. I remember vowing I’d always get the right stuff when I grew up and had to do my own shopping. And there I was, with two cans of red kidney beans and zero chickpeas. Damnit.

But I vowed to find a use for them….it just took several weeks. Ultimately, the simplest recipe won out: rajmah, or red kidney bean curry. It’s a piece of cake to put together; saute some ginger and garlic with some onion and a green chile before adding tomato sauce, salt, and a bunch of spices you should already have in your cupboard. Add the kidney beans and let them cook down a bit; I let it go for longer than the recipe called for, but do what you like. The end result is delicious, and if you’re curious, quite nutritional too. The Nutritional Ninja remains skeptical about beans, which makes it a win-win: more for me.



Rajmah, or Red Kidney Bean Curry

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen. Serves 4.

1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil

1/4 c. minced fresh ginger

1 medium onion, diced

1 plum tomato, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 small green chile, mostly deseeded and minced

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. ground coriander

1 tsp. garam masala

1 tsp. turmeric

1/4 tsp. cayenne

1 Tbsp. butter

8 oz. can of plain tomato sauce

2 cans of cooked kidney beans, drained and rinsed well

1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro

yogurt, naan, or rice for serving



In a pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the ginger, garlic, and chile along with the onion and saute until the onion is translucent, 5-10 minutes, but don’t let the garlic burn.

Add the tomato sauce, salt, and all the spices and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the kidney beans, along with one bean can’s worth of water and the tablespoon of butter. Bring it to a boil, then let it simmer over medium low heat for 15-20 minutes, until the sauce has reduced and become somewhat velvety. Serve over rice, or with naan, with a dollop of yogurt on top and sprinkled with cilantro.


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