Saturday, December 27, 2008

A little of everything...

These last few weeks have been pretty hectic foodwise.  So I think I will do a brief rundown of some of my favorite food moments from the time of my exams through the duration of my trip to Cancun...
  • On the way home from NY to DC, I ate Popeyes in the 10-minute break alloted for the Vamoose bus rest stop break.  While in line, the cashier seemed slightly off, and I almost didn't make it to the bus in time.  He called my two piece dark meat meal a snacker and the lady behind me and I agreed that the biscuit never makes it to the cashier...some food for thought with us Type A eaters.
  • Airport dining is quite fun (in it's own right!)  I ate grilled chicken at Fuddrucker's, and it was nostalgic since that is the first breast I ever remember liking grilled vs. fried when I was a kid.  I think I was tricked by the buttery bun that made me forget how rubbery yet equally juicy the chicken there gets.  Airports always take the somewhat good food and bring out the mediocre qualities.  I sat alone and read Twilight so that I would be able to join the other millions of girls reading the same book at the pool later that week (lucky me!)  Also, I had this meal at 10 in the morning so I was definitely feeling the weight of my poor decisions- I had to get ready for Cancun somehow.
  • Never give in to those Chinese takeout places that have that 2 thing combo with a choice of fried rice or lo mein...
  • This trip to Cancun marked the first time I had vacationed without my parents since 11th grade.  When I was younger, I always wanted room service and my parents never allowed it.  I stayed at the Hyatt in Cancun for one night alone before my cousin Josh (yes, same name, you should have been there the night we went out with 4 Josh's) arrived at the Royal Sands the next day.  I had a beer or four to decompress from exams and indulged in my guilty pleasure.  An hour after making the phone call, I received my pasta bolognese and 4 rolls- 2 croissant and 2 brioche.  I ate this on the balcony enjoying the 70 degree night.  The food was nothing special, but I was finally able to get room service.  I love the cover that goes over the food before they present you a meal by a culinary school dropout.  I have to say the Corona and Modelo made the croissant rolls that much better.  I tried to save one for breakfast, but I really couldn't help it.  The world could run on biscuits and croissants in my opinion.  Anyway, I finished my meal and some crappy horror movie with Tara Reid to fall asleep by 8:30 in my hotel for one.  It was kind of creepy that Blackbird came on in the middle of the night on my charged I-pod...those crazy Hyatt ghosts.  Anyway, I couldn't have been happier.
  • Each day by the pool, I enjoyed a burger or chicken tenders at the Royal Sands.  Sometimes, a Fiji water tastes better when it is delivered to you by Gustavo with a smile.  My favorite bartenders were Miguel and Narcisco, I thought Narcisco was a narcissist though.  Anyway, they definitely entertained me if I was ever to eat alone when my roommates for the week were napping or not as hungry .
Alright, food has been the backdrop for my transition into winter break, but the day of my birth is upon us (the big 2-1) and seriousness with eating returns.  Thus, I will be having a 6-course-meal at L'Auberge Chez Francois in Great Falls, Virginia tomorrow and an 8-course-meal at Babbo in Ny, Ny.  Look forward to those posts with family and friends this time!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Pork Fat For The Jew

The foods that comfort me lately are pork fat and ramen noodles.  I love Ippudo but sometimes it is just 3 blocks and 2 avenues too far away.  My comfort ramen of choice lately has been the Gyolou Ramen at Ramen Setagaya  a block away from me.  It is referred to on the menu as Japan's Famous Ramen.

The thing I love about this place is that the noodles come out quick, the staff is super friendly, and the pork on top of this bowl of noodles is spiraled in fat!  It may be unkosher, but the fat is what makes the pork juicy and comforting.  The broth is fish based and garlic is added for an extra kick.  When you eat at this restaurant, the funniest thing is that they play "Ramen TV."  It is a channel that continuously plays chefs making elaborate ramen dishes and then the commercial breaks are japanese versions of beatles songs.  It is a hilarious way to enjoy the meal for one while people watching on St. Marks.  I love you Ramen Setagaya, thanks for the pork fat! 

Friday, December 5, 2008

Momofuking Ko!

Dave Chang, you have won my heart.  There was not one detail wrong about this meal.  As I walked the arduous two blocks to Momofuku Ko, I started to get nervous.  I started to ponder: What if the food doesn't live up to the hype?  What if it really is weird that I  am eating alone this time?  The moment I walked inside, I knew it was going to be something special. 

The courses speak for themselves in their originality: buttermilk biscuit with black pepper butter and a meatball covered in lentils over an apple puree, raw Spanish mackerel with a mustard sauce and fried buckwheat, potato and daikon soup with lamb belly and mustard greens, monkfish with sea urchin in a sweet soy-based sauce, egg noodles in a butter sauce with chicken escarole sausage and chicken crackle finished with pecorino cheese, a poached egg with caviar over onion relish and homemade fingerling potato chips, frozen foie gras atop lychee, peanut brittle and a reisling jelly, beef cheeks with jalapeno relish and two types of mushrooms, mandarin orange sorbet paired with a bitter mandarin orange, and fried amish cheddar aside greek yogurt, candy pretzels and pretzel ice cream!  I am definitely forgetting some of the details since it was ten courses and I opted for the wine pairing that accompanied each course.  

Throughout the meal I found myself eye-fucking the butter.  The guy sitting next to me was a lone dinner as well, but I was not very fond of him.  Fatty Boomba was from Houston, Texas on some business trip and he did not stop using his I-phone the entire meal!  I was appalled, and after 20 minutes of the meal, I opted to turn my phone off to enjoy my experience to the fullest.  Another thing that bothered me about this guy was that he would ask annoying questions to the chef and he did not even bless me when I sneezed.  It didn't matter much though because I was able to watch every move the chefs did to prepare the meal.  It was food pornography at its finest.  One of the chefs cooking looked like a more attractive Keanu Reeves, and he joked with the other chefs about how Dave Chang had too many songs with harmonicas on the Ko playlist.  Fatty Boomba said that they could use his Ipod if they wanted to replace David Chang's.  Nice try out-of-towner, but no one messes with the Chang.  It's sacrilegious!

I really enjoyed this meal alone, in fact, I left Ko laughing.  I would give two hours of my time any day to watch the chefs there do their magic, and hopefully 3.5 hours soon to try out their 18-course lunch!  The Momofuku empire makes me proud to be from the East Village.  I have never experienced American-Asian fusion quite the way they make it.  The asian touches are subtle yet not understated in the least.  Thus, the hype is the reality when it comes to Ko.

Monday, December 1, 2008

A star sighting of sorts...

I went for a run today through Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens that I like to call my very abbreviated version of the NYC Marathon.  As I ran down Avenue B past Houston, I found myself on one of my favorite food blocks in Manhattan, Clinton Street.  As I passed WD~50, I saw the hair first and immediately knew it was Wylie Dufresne!

This man is a food scientist.  He takes the art of cooking and dissects each ingredient and flavor in his dishes to see what works and what can be improved.  He works with the extremely popular Jean Georges Vongerichten, and he taught Christina Tosi who now bakes at the Momofuku Milk Bar under Dave Chang.  I know, I know I am name dropping chefs, but to me, the chef sighting makes me weaker in the knees than the celeb sighting.  For instance, I was dining at Prune once and saw Gabrielle Hamilton behind the counter and as my heart beat rose, I whipped my phone out to text my Cousin Betty who would appreciate the sighting as well.

It's good to know that some of the "celeb" chefs actually do cook in the kitchen.  Wylie was just outside his place on Clinton chatting on the cell phone while a block or two down a movie was being filmed.  I'm not sure the movie or the cast since I was still reveling over my chef sighting.
The great thing about Wylie and Dave Chang is you can find their influence all over the EV.  At PDT, they both have a dog in their honor.  Tonight, I am heading to Bar Carrera (with others this time) and I have my heart set on the chocolate cheesecake that Wylie designed for them.  I'm running late to dinner, more later!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Cheap Eats Club

If you are what you eat, then tonight I was cheap and easy.  After candle-lit yoga with the weird moans, groans, and scents of strangers, I decided I needed dinner on the fly.  

2 Bros. Pizza is so good to me, and it is located just 535 feet from my my apartment.  The grand opening special seems to have stuck and slices come in at a whopping $1.  This place is perfect for a recession.  I usually meet one of my fellow runner pals at 2 Bros., but she was out of a table for one it was.  The pizza is everything you would expect for a buck: cheese, a slightly tangy sauce, and crust.  Nothing spectacular, but it sure beats the dollar menu at McDonalds.

I sat down tonight by myself and overhead two girls talking about their Thanksgiving break. One of the girls had called her aunt to wish her a happy birthday, and her aunt was "stoned or really messed up" when they talked.  Apparently, her aunt said, " how are you" in a rather loose voice.  In my opinion, I think her aunt probably didn't want to talk to her annoying younger niece that was intruding on my pizza experience.  Then, I realized that all the tables in the back were full where I was eating, so I gave my table up to a punk couple that seemed to be on a date after getting their shoes spray-painted on St. Marks.  She thanked me and felt bad for making me move, but I didn't really mind.  

My meal was over, and I will continue to eat on the cheap (well...maybe) until Wednesday when I have my dinner for one at Momofuku Ko!

The Perfect Rainy Sunday Meal

I got up at four a.m. to make my way back into the city of food.  As soon as I arrived in the city, I went uptown to help little buggers with ADHD paint ceramics.  After doing a physical restraint on my favorite hyperactive 7-year-old and listening to hours of what each kid ate for Thanksgiving (vomit), I found myself to be extremely hungry.  The rain outside had added to my exhaustion, so the only cure I could think of was 2nd Avenue Deli.  I love sitting at the counter here because there are usually a few other lone diners there on a similar mission.  One time when I was there, Parker Posey sat to enjoy her meal at this counter, and I was appalled when a tourist decided to gawk at her presence for 5 minutes immediately behind her.  Let the woman enjoy her pastrami in peace!  She too, is one of the lone diners that I can look up to, yet I presume that she is more self-actualized than me.
I never quite liked deli food as a child, but that was probably because I was scared of pickles and french fries that had ungodly fringe and this reddish-brown tint on the outer layers of their spuds.  2nd Avenue Deli always amazes me because they are fast, consistent, and friendly.  Anyone who says that a real NY deli has rude waitstaff has not been to the cream of the crop, 2nd Ave.  I only wish I had been to the original 2nd Avenue Deli when I was younger instead of drowning amongst a sea of tourists at the infamous Carnegie Deli.

I plopped myself into a seat at the counter, and I got my usual matzo ball soup and half a turkey meatloaf sandwich.  The matzo ball soup is perfect and not too salty with square noodles and carrots.  Here, simplicity is the key and it wins my heart.  The inside of the matzo ball gives off a yellowish glow that likens itself to the amount this matzo ball should be worth in gold.  As I slurp the soup, I eat two of my favorite complimentary dishes here: health salad and gribenes.  The health salad is comprised of green cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, and onion lightly tossed in vinegar.  It is more inviting and healthier than your typical cole-slaw because it is mayo-free.  This way, you can really enjoy the texture of the vegetables and the vinegar makes them taste sweet and light.  The gribenes on the other hand may just be the best thing that 2nd Avenue Deli has to offer.  Gribenes are chicken skin that is deep fried and finished with caramelized onions from the chicken fat.  It's really a heart attack on a plate, but I pop those babies in my mouth as fast as I can.

At this point, I always think I have eaten too much.  My waitress today is young and genuine.  She gently tapped me on the shoulder to check on my meal, and this raised her tip to 30% in my delusional state.  She brings me my turkey meatloaf and it turns out I do have enough room even though the sandwich is still bigger than my mouth.  2nd Avenue Deli's turkey meatloaf is juicier and tastier than a turkey burger or normal beef meatloaf.  I know turkey gets a bad rap for being dry sometimes, but if done right with carrots or something to keep the meat moist inside, the tasty bird can be your best friend on more occasions than Thanksgiving alone.

As I was biting through my sandwich, a crying two-year old sat down with her mom at the counter next to me.  I was too into my meal to really notice and ignoring proved successful.  Kids are great, but I won't let them ruin my meal.  The meal was over with their signature chocolate soda, and I headed back downtown for a post lunch nap.

Eat in Peace

I do it before class or after a doctor’s appointment. I do it on a Saturday night, and I refuse to be ashamed by it. I have even done it after completing a 20-mile run and candle-lit yoga down the block from me. I eat alone. It’s not because I don’t have friends or because I am unpopular, it is due to my love and devotion of the beauty and charm that is found in a New York restaurant.

Some people meet at restaurants on a date or to catch up with an old friend. I want to make love to the food and catch up on me eating! Many believe that the guy or girl eating alone is lonely (my neurotic mother included,) but this is purely a myth. I think those who dine alone are the happiest eaters in the world. We don’t have to listen to someone shoot the shit, and we can eat or drink however we please without anyone knowing or remembering us besides those who work at the restaurant. By eating alone, I focus on what I want in my meal and it’s another hour or so in my day when I can decompress and rejuvenate.

I still don’t think I have introduced myself sufficiently. My name is Josh Korth. I live in the East Village and go to school at NYU. I am studying psychology, art history, and child and adolescent mental health studies when I am not eating my way through the city. I am originally from Rockville, Maryland outside of the nation’s capital. I am Jewish, gay, and single. I run marathons, and I just qualified for the Boston Marathon. I enjoy going to free yoga down the street from me on St. Marks Place. My favorite beverages are green tea and beer.

I will keep you informed of my eating excursions with and without companions. I will also update about past experiences as a foodie. I hope you enjoy, and I’ll take a table for one, please.