I’ve gotten a bit behind on posts – hey, vacation and all that. Plus, not everything I was eating or doing was all that interesting, trust me. So, last Thursday and Friday put together….
Thursday daytime was spent at the American Museum of Natural History, always one of my favorite places to visit when I’m in New York. It’s been a couple of years and there have been quite a few changes – it’s gotten more high tech in some areas, with lots of info displays. On the other hand, most of the collections are still the same ones that were there thirty years ago when I first visited – and most of them look to be coated with about thirty years of dust. Maybe spend a little less money on the fancy tech-ware and hire a cleaning crew? It was also jammed with school groups, there had to be well over a thousand kids running around the museum – and running and climbing on things seemed to be the order of the day – no attempt to control it from their teachers or chaperones, and after a lot of ineffectual yelling, it seemed like the museum guards just gave up and let it happen. For me, the total lack of respect and any sense of wonder or awe, was just disheartening – when you see teens trying to climb onto dinosaur skeletons so they can get their photos snapped and posted online, smaller children actually playing soccer in one exhibit hall, and climbing up onto display cases and jumping off, it makes one truly wonder what’s happening to our society.
Had a late breakfast somewhere in there at a small cafe near the museum – just an omelette, juice and coffee. And that was it for food until the evening. Mid-afternoon was a walk through Central Park and getting some sun. Then off to the dojo for a couple of hours. Met up with a lomgtime friend, Steve, and we headed for Freemans, on Freemans Alley in the lower east side, a place I’ve been hearing about a lot over the last few years. Several customers have told me that I had to check it out because it reminded them in some ways of Casa SaltShaker. No one was ever more specific, so I was curious. And I do kind of get it – setting aside the sort of hidden away location, and that they serve a sort of New American rustic fare, it’s more about how they prepare the dishes and the casual atmosphere of service. Plating is simple, ingredients are few, it’s just good, honest food without a lot of fancy touches.
We ordered a bottle of beautifully aromatic Kerner from Abbazia de Novacella, an Italian wine I haven’t had in years – Freemans has a great little list of obscure stuff, well worth perusing through. And, we ordered the artichoke dip to split – one of the best I’ve had – packed with fresh artichoke hearts and leaves, not the usual gloppy bechamel around it, but just lots of good melty cheese and fresh bread to spread it all on.
Steve went for a risotto style bowl of spelt, backed with peas, fava beans and leeks. Very tasty, though the spelt doesn’t develop that nice creamy texture that risotto rice does.
And I went for the oven roasted pollack with parsnip puree and chips (I miss parsnips, we don’t have those in Argentina), and fresh asparagus. All around simple, and completely delicious.
Next day was a packed one for food – I had two, yes, two, lunches scheduled. First meeting up with a couple of friends in the wine business, Carlos and Sebastian, for a noon visit to Txikito, 420 9th Avenue, where thankfully the food is small plate – tapas – and we were just splitting them like snacks. Though my companions went for wine and cider, I decided given what lay ahead, to just go for iced tea, which they fresh brewed on the spot.
Things just arrived more or less randomly, but we had blistered Gernika peppers in sea salt…
Squid slow-cooked in squid ink, and Carlos’ favorite pick.
My favorite dish of the day, white beans with mussels – just beautiful.
An arugula salad with fried silverfish.
And, a really amazing chorizo hash stuffed into small rolls – I think that was probably Sebastian’s favorite – he’s Argentine, you know?
Then it was off to another lunch at Strand, 33 West 37th Street, where I was meeting up with my former publisher and editor, and I managed an iced tea and a good part of a turkey club sandwich – a really excellent turkey club sandwich I must say, I wish I’d had more room for it. It came with very thin asparagus right off the grill – perfect accompaniment.
Now, I’ll tell you, had I known what the evening had in store, I might have gone a different way there. I was meeting up with two friends whom I haven’t seen in awhile, and had in mind something sort of light and shareable in Chinatown or somewhere similar. But, deli was on the mind of at least one of them, and so late evening (thankfully with a nice break, we didn’t meet for dinner until 9:30)…
…I found myself confronting a whopping Katz’s Delicatessen pastrami and chopped liver on rye with spicy mustard and horseradish, a couple of “new” pickles, and, hey, more iced tea, though bottled.