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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.