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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Cafe Henri -- French home cooking in West Village

A friend who is French Canadian took us to this place.
A cozy small french home cooking eatery in West Village.

It's more of a brunch or  lunch place rather than dinner place.
Simple menu, light meals, and very reasonable prices.
The down side is the ventilation system was not very good on the day we visited.
The smell of the grease lingered in our clothes & hair

Salade De Mesclun

Les Escargot: snails baked in garlic butter  -  Must order appetizer in a French restaurant

La Quiche Espinard: spinach quiche and salad

Le Croque Madame toasted country bread, ham, cheese sunnyside egg

Mixte Jambon-fromage:  ham and cheese crepe

Special of the day: Coq au Vin -- Classic French Dish: Chicken cooked in red wine.
It's not my favorite. The flavor of the sauce was too overwhelming.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Brighton Beach -- Little Russia by the sea

"Bored To Death" was a new comedy series aired on HBO this past September. The first season has already ended, but you should be able to watch it on HBO on demand.

The show was about a 30 years old Brooklyn writer, Jonathan Ames,  who moonlights as an unlicensed private detective as he struggles to write his second novel. The show told stories about his life and the cases he took on.

One of the elements that I enjoyed about the show was that the stage was mostly set in Brooklyn. In one of the episodes, the story took him to the biggest Russian community in New York City, Brighton Beach.

Again, I was intrigued after watching the show and decided to check out Brighton Beach at some point.
On a warm November Saturday during my mother-in-law's visit, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to drive out to Brighton Beach.

Though just a short drive or subway ride away from Manhattan, Brighton Beach felt like a different world.  People looked different, dressed different, and spoke in a foreign language that I did not understand. The elevated train track was the only reminder that I was still in New York City.

Brighton Beach Avenue is like Canal street in Chinatown.
It's where all the shops, crowds, and traffics are. 

From Brighton Beach Avenue, it is a five minutes walk through some apartment complexes to the beach.

It was a warm November day, and we had a nice stroll down the boardwalk watching the sunset.
Some people were out jogging, bicycling, or walking their dogs.
Many old people bundled up and sat by the apartment complexes chatting with their friends and neighbors.

The beach was low-key, calm, clean, and relaxed when we visited.
I wondered if it gets as insane as it's neighbor beach, Coney Island, in the summer time.

On our way back, I checked out two Russian supermarkets on Brighton Beach Avenue.
The first one was M & I International Food at 615 Brighton Beach Avenue. 

The second one was Brighton Bazaar at 1007 Brighton Beach Avenue.
All the food looked fascinating even though I had no clue what most of them were.  

We bought some smoked mackerel home.

We also bought two expensive cakes.
 The bottom two on this picture, the orange cream & chocolate cream cakes.
They were rich, decadent, and super delicious!

I heard that Russian sweet whipped butter was tasty & creamy, and decided to try one.
The butter was made in PA, but I like it a lot and have been using it for breakfast in the  morning.

The whole Brighton Beach experience was very enjoyable and surprisingly fun.
It was a quick getaway without having to leave New York.
I definitely want to come back here again and try some Russian food next time.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Barney Greengrass -- Upper West Side

It's been said that Barney Greengrass is a New York Institution for Jewish Smoked Fish.
One Saturday morning, I decided to get up early to beat the crowd, and finally checked it out once and for all.

I arrived at the restaurant a little after 10 AM. The restaurant was already in full on operation, but I got seated right away.
(Seriously, do you know what kind of commitment it takes for a New Yorker who lives in Murry Hill to hike up to Upper West Side on a November Saturday morning ??)

The ventilation is bad.  You can smell the grease as soon as you stepped into the restaurant.
It is a hustling and bustling kind of place. Don't expect a relaxed 2 hr brunch experience. 

White fish with everything bagel -- Yummy!

Combination of Sturgeon and Nova Scotia Salmon Scrambled with Eggs & Onions
I like the Sturgeon better.  Expensive, but delicious!

My mouth started to water as I was writing this blog and seeing the pictures.
Despite the fact that this place is geographically undesirable, smoky, expensive, hectic, and crowded,
I can't wait to go back there again.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The New York Shaving Company

I started noticing that there were more and more of  those fancy one station barber shops with beautiful leather antique barber chairs popping up in New York City this year.

My husband has great facial hair, and I have always thought that it would be an interesting gift to send him to one of these barber shops. His birthday this year was the perfect occasion .
After I did some research on the internet, I found out that there are two shaving companies in New York City: The New York Shaving Company and The Art of Shaving. Both companies offer similar products and services, but The Art of Shaving has more locations available.

I chose The New York Shaving Company for the location, and treated my husband to a haircut and an ultimate shave. An ultimate shave  includes a traditional shave and a mini facial.  The haircut and ultimate shave takes about 60 minutes.

The end result?
My husband enjoyed the experience immensely.

His face was as soft as a baby's butt after the shave, and the beard did not grow back until the third day.

For all the ladies out there who have a hard time finding gifts for men, this is definitely a great idea for a special occasion.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lombardi's Pizza: The first American Pizzera since 1905 -- Nolita

I often pass by this pizzeria in Nolita on the weekend.
It is hard not to notice the bright red awnings and Mona Liza's painting on the wall at the store front.
Not to mention a small crowd often gathering at the sidewalk waiting to get in.

Although I always have a hint of curiosity about this place, pizza is rarely my first choice of food.
The fact that Chinatown is within short distance walk away sure does not help the situation.

In Anthony Bourdain's book "Kitchen Confidential", he mentioned a couple of his favorite New York Food. Lombardi's white pie was one of them. Being Anthony Bourdain's fan, I was intrigued.

As I later found out from the internet, Lombardi was not just another Pizzeria.
Lombardi was the first American Pizzeria established in 1905.
(The old pizzeria closed in 1984 and reopened at the current location on 1994 by the funder, Gennero Lombardi's grandson, Jerry Lombardi, and his childhood friend.)

Half white pie and half Margarita. (White pie is too dry for me.)
White pie contains Mozzarella, ricotta, romano cheese, 
oregano, basil, black peppers, garlic infused oil. 
No tomato sauce.

Small pie with Anchovies mushroom, and Pepperoni .

The crust was thin and tasty, and the toppings were all very good.
The restaurant does not sell pizza by slices, so go with a group. 
It is also a good place to take out-of-town guests to.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Noguchi Museum - Long Island City

After living in Manhattan for over a decade, I have to admit that sometimes I do take the city for granted.
There are always places I thought about visiting but never made the effort to.
They are geographically undesirable and you figured that they are not going anywhere....

Thanks to a friend's 3rd visit to New York, playing the tour guide finally gives me enough motivation to check out the Noguchi Museum in Long Island City.

Garden of Noguchi Museum: Isamu Noguchi design the layout and landscape.

Isamu Noguchi first purchased this factory building as a storage space for his sculptures.
The museum was opened in 1985. The exhibition displayed the artist's work chronically with all the pieces handpicked by Noguchi himself.

The Well, 1982
The fountain in the garden with Isamu Noguchi's initials carved in the stone.

Slide Mantra, working model, 1966

Model of his architectural design.

Variations on a millstone #2, 1962

Isamu Nogochi's work is quite popular in Asia.  His paper lamp is an iconic furniture piece.
You can find more about Noguchi from the museum's website.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The High Line - Section one

I first learned about High Line  from PBS documentary in 2004 and was really intrigued by it's history and future development. Coincidentally, I started working in a building right next to High Line a year later. For the past three and half years, I watched the constructions taking place and transformed this abandoned elevated train track. 

The building where I used to work.

By the time when High Line Park section one was open to the public this June, the company had moved to a different location and I was no longer working for the company.  I tried to check out the High Line Park on one Saturday in June, and it was impossible. The crowd just killed my curiosity.

The Gansevoort Street entrance

When the temperature was in the low 70's last Thursday, I decided to bring my camera, went back to my old office neighborhood, and finally checked out the High Line Park.

A very cleaver way to use the old train track.

Details of the park design

The standard hotel

Old rail track

View from the High Line

The end of section one on 20th street

High Line Park section one was in the trendiest neighborhood in New York City. There are so many amazing boutiques, cafes, restaurants in the area to explore.
I would recommend the following route for the first time visitors:
  1. Take A, C, E, or L train, and get off at 14th street stop.  
  2. Make sure to check out the Chelsea Market from 15th street and 9th avenue entrance.  
  3. Exit the Chelsea Market at 10th Avenue, make a right turn and use the 16th street entrance to enter the High Line Park. 
  4. Walk north to 20th street and turn back.  Get off the High Line Park at  Gansevoort Street. 
  5. Continue your walk with the meatpacking district and/or west village. 

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Kunjip Korean Restaurant - Korean Town

As the temperature drops, I start craving for Korean food. They always taste better when it is cold outside.

A Korean friend introduced me to Kunjip. A simple Korean restaurant that is always crowded.

I love all the free appetizers that come with any orders. You can request for refills on the dishes you like.

Some spicy goodness....

Seafood pancake --- Must order item in any Korean restaurants.

Korean cuisine is one of my favorite foods.
There are so many yummy Korean dishes that this note really does not do any justice to the variety of the Korean food.
Some of the all time Korean classics are:
korean B.B.Q,
Bibimbob (rice with assorted vegetable, various meat or seafood, and fried egg),
Sulungtong (light beef soup),
variations of bean curd casseroles.

The restaurant opens 24 hours. This is a good place to eat after a night of drinking if you are in the area.