A Sarcastic Appetite

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.

Restaurant Round-Up for the Week of May 9
May 9, 2013, 6:00 am
Filed under: Restaurant Round-Up | Tags: , , ,


I’m here to canvas the food blogs…so you don’t have to. When I’m not doing “research,” I’m eating fried oysters at Pearl (top right) and Korean BBQ at Madangsui (bottom left). Otherwise, here’s what’s been going on:

If you’re a reclusive New Yorker, you might be one of the two people in town who missed the James Beard Awards, which went down on Monday at Lincoln Center. For all of the hand wringing that went on about New York not representing, well….they cleaned up.

I hesitate to pass this on, because I’d like to keep this gem for myself…but word on the street is Aquavit has its sh*t together, big time. Chef Jernmark is apparently gunning for a second Michelin star, and the way things are going over there he just might get it.

If you’re looking for fun weekend activities, or sticking around for Memorial Day Weekend, here are FOUR awesome food fairs to check out: Hester Street Fair, Smorgasburg, Madison Square Eats, and Smorgasbar. I’d encourage you to check out Smorgasbar, as it’s supporting the very much still recovering South Street Seaport area. Hester Street is the only one that doesn’t serve alcohol; head over to Loreley or the back bar at Freeman’s for your afternoon tipple.

Get ready: the banana stand is coming to NYC. Yes, that banana stand!

Now that the spring weather is maybe, finally, potentially acting like spring weather, the folks at Gothamist were nice enough to put together two key lists: the best rooftop bars in the city and the best bars with outdoor space. Now go forth into the great outdoors….and drink.

Caramelized Cauliflower with Capers & Golden Raisins
May 5, 2013, 11:09 am
Filed under: Index of Recipes, Recipes | Tags: , , ,


It’s actually incredible how much of the food I make, whether it appears on this site or not, is dictated by the Nutritional Ninja’s dietary requests. Any time I tell my mother, “Oh, I can’t possibly make that – You-Know-Who won’t touch it,” she screeches, “You’re the chef! You get to make whatever you want and he can deal with it!”

But it seems counter-intuitive to mess up the kitchen making some elaborate dish only one of us is going to eat. And we all know that when left to my own devices, I’m much more likely to be found rifling through the fridge like a modern-day forager, putting together some bizarre-o combination like carrots, leftover chickpea salad, and some old rice crackers and calling it “dinner.”

So rather than complain endlessly in addition to complaining endlessly about his latest diet restriction (no nightshades), I’ve decided I’ll work within them. But it’s also meant we eat a lot of broccoli. And a lot of asparagus. A LOT OF BROCCOLI. Don’t get me wrong; I love that roasted broccoli recipe almost as much as I love a 3pm cookie. Sometimes, however, it’s important to expand one’s horizons. So I turned to broccoli’s less attractive cousin: cauliflower. I made a similar version of this on the site a while back; this is much, much simpler. And I think the end result is much, much better.

The process is pretty simple: roast a bunch of cauliflower. When it’s done, toss it in a sauce you made on the stove, consisting of olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, and the requisite capers and golden raisins. I added more olive oil and more capers and golden raisins because more is usually better. If you’re hesitant about the combination, don’t be. It’s salty and sweet – and delicious.

Caramelized Cauliflower with Capers & Golden Raisins

Adapted from Martha Stewart. Serves 2.

1 head of cauliflower, chopped into smallish florets

1-2 Tbsp. olive oil + 1/4 c. olive oil

lots of salt and pepper

1 garlic clove, minced

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

3 Tbsp. capers

3 Tbsp. golden raisins

Some chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Preheat the oven to 425. Toss the chopped cauliflower with the 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, flipping the pieces about halfway through. When the cauliflower has just a few minutes left, warm the olive oil (you want a good film on the bottom of the pan; don’t be stingy) over medium low heat. Add the garlic and red pepper – let it sizzle but don’t let it burn. Saute for 30 seconds or so. Raise the heat; add the capers and golden raisins and saute for another minute or so. Add the cooked cauliflower and toss together to combine; pull off the heat before adding the parsley. Serve.