joearay@gmail.com / +1 206 446 2425


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Sunday, November 01, 2009

Blink and You’ll Miss It

The Food Leprechaun strikes again.

We found SoHo’s 10-seat Snack by walking in front of it - all three paces of the facade’s width. The name is odd for a sit-down Greek restaurant, but it’s a perfect lunch spot: the hummus is deep-flavored, brightened by lemon and there’s a fish roe spread that’s pure sea-salty goodness.

Two doors down, there’s an even tinier establishment – Porto Rico Importing – a four-seat coffee shop with three beautiful ladies holding court on a bench out front. We sit with them, sip an espresso and watch the world go by.

Snack - MAP
105 Thompson St, NYC
+1 (212) 925-1040

Porto Rico Importing
107 Thompson St. NYC



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Friday, October 30, 2009

Taking off The Cuffs

Chef Daniel Boulud recently picked up a third Michelin star for his restaurant, Daniel, only a few weeks after I spent an hour interviewing him for a Centurion Magazine story.

I was impressed by his attachment to the city – at this point, he’s more New Yorker than Frenchman and when I asked what was most ‘New York’ about Daniel, he replied with a bit of native French impishness: “Moi.”

…and???

“Service – it’s unique to NYC,” he says. “Europeans always find something in the gentilesse of the people here.”

Clearly, this Frenchman has lost his way, giving up his Gallic roots and praising service.

What turns out to be most impressive about Boulud is his openness to outside influences – he is a big fan of experimental chef Wylie Dufresne of NYC’s WD-50 and Basque chef Juan Mari Arzak.

For my story, Boulud works to create a tasting menu with Dufresne, and there’s a huge Asian influence in one of the plates he suggests, pairing scallops with miro, miso and black garlic.

My brow arches.

“Nothing to do with French,” he says flatly.

It’s like he’s cut off the cuffs.

Three stars, indeed.

For a little bit of back and forth between Francois Simon and the New York Times, check out their differing reviews of Boulud’s new restaurant, DBDB.

FS said:
http://francoissimon.typepad.fr/english/2009/10/daniel-boulud.html


NYT…
http://events.nytimes.com/2009/10/14/dining/reviews/14rest.html?scp=3&sq=boulud&st=cse

Courtesy photo by T. Schauer



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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New York City Burger Attack - Part II

MANHATTAN

Our gang watched late-summer jazz in Madison Square Park, but eyes rolled when we saw the line at the Shake Shack. It snaked hundreds of feet from the order window out through the park gates.

“What about the secret burger place?” said Maria.

We all stared and she smiled and dragged her toe in the dirt like she might not share her secret. It was rather sexy.

We got her to spill the beans and six of us bolted uptown by bike and subway to the … Parker Meridien. A burger joint in one of the city’s fanciest hotels? Hard to figure.

The lobby was everything you’d expect: high ceilings, artwork and fancy bars and restaurants … but it smelled like burgers.

Sure enough. A David Lynch-esque floor-to-ceiling curtain juts out into the lobby concealing the secret space. Approach and you’ll notice a skinny corridor with a neon-sign hamburger and a right-pointing arrow at the end.

Inside, it’s night and day; the space looks like a cross between Arnold’s Drive-In from “Happy Days” and my fraternity house basement. The burgers are great -you get to choose the cooking temperature and usually, you can elbow your way to a just-opened table right when they call your order number.

A good burger joint in one of the city’s fanciest hotels. Go figure.

Count on around $15-20.

Burger Joint – MAP
119 W 56th St
New York, NY
+1 212-708-7414



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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Kill Soup Dumpling!!!

NEW YORK CITY

Years ago, when I cooked at the Left Coast’s Betelnut, a hidden army of wizened Chinese men would come in to roll dumplings in the basement. These quiet, artistic men were lost in their craft, turning dough into flat discs that, with a twist of the fingers, would encase whatever filling they put inside them: crustaceans, meat, vegetables, love.

They would make what seemed like thousands at a time and, unlike the other cooks in the kitchen, once that task was done, so were they.

Lucky bastards.

My first visit to Joe’s Shanghai was part of a get-to-know-you weekend with a former sweetie’s parents a decade ago. Then as now, there’s a reason the grease-splattered walls are festooned with pictures of mayors and glitterati with their arms swung around the owners: Joe’s dumplings are the bomb.

Instead of searing something (like a steak) and hoping all the tasty juices stay inside, here, the pork and crab goodness is held neatly inside the dumpling.

Skewer one with a chopstick and sip the juice that fills the spoon, or take a bite and blush as it runs down your chin.

Shudder with happiness as you swallow.


Joe’s Shanghai
http://www.joeshanghairestaurants.com/ - while on their site, do not miss the “Kill Soup Dumpling” video.

Three Locations – I went to Chinatown - MAP
9 Pell Street
New York, New York 10013
+1-212-233-8888



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Saturday, October 03, 2009

New Forms of Pie Slinging

NEW YORK CITY

Alystyre had been wearing her brand new, straight-from-Barcelona pink espadrilles for about an hour when the waiter launched a pizza onto them.

You’d think it would happen in slow motion: the pizza wobbling back and forth in the waiter’s hand and both of them wide-eyed for the impending disaster. Instead, it was over in a flash with the pie on her shoes.

Spunto’s staff handled it perfectly. The manager whisked Alystyre away, dabbing her duds with a towel soaked in mineral water for a good 20 minutes. In the meantime, they sent a new pitcher of beer over to our table of six.

The pizza, particularly the thin-crusted mushroom version, laced with a judicious splash of truffle oil (something I don’t usually go in for) was the best we had while in the city, easily trumping the Lombardi’s we had on another night.

The bill, which included three pizzas, two pitchers of beer and a Coke had a big “X” through it. Normally, it would cost about $20 per person. Our total: $0.

We left a big tip.

Spunto - MAP
65 Carmine St.
New York
www.spuntothincrust.com
+1 212 242 1200

La Manual Alpargatera Espadrilles - MAP
C/. Avinyó, 7 - 08002 Barcelona
Tel. 93 3010172
www.lamanualalpargatera.com



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Monday, September 28, 2009

Seen From Above

NEW YORK CITY


Across from Buddakan, we seek solace on top of Hotel Gansevoort. Fat chance. Up top, a hundred drunk kids in Prada are dancing their brains out while some dude plays drums on a bucket to accompany some loud music. Fun for another night.


We taxi north, walk through the Hudson’s lobby and get in the elevator. It lets us out on a deck halfway up the side of the building and we find a quiet nook. The city floats so calmly at our feet, it doesn’t matter that we’ve ordered another incredibly expensive and poorly-crafted drink. We’re paying for the view and the calm.


Worth every penny.

Hudson Hotel - MAP
356 West 58th Street
New York, NY 10019, United States
+1 212-554-6000
www.hudsonhotel.com



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Sunday, September 27, 2009

BURGERS FOR BREAKFAST—THE NEW YORK CITY BURGER ATTACK PART I

MANHATTAN


By Joe Ray


“The Shake Shack?” asked a friend, “That place is a gimmick.”


I brought another friend when I went. We had burgers for breakfast.


That might be a bit of a stretch, but not by too much. We got there at around 11. On a nice day, the Shack has a line that stretches clear across Madison Square Park. I have no idea how long you’d have to wait, but I’ve got no desire to find out.


We ordered two cheeseburgers and two black and whites and, feeling generous, I told my pal I’d pick up the tab.


“Twenty three dollars,” said the woman at the register.


Ai-yeeee!


It’s still worth it as a special treat. Plus, it’s a good burger and I had struck out looking for really good burgers on a recent trip to the Pacific Northwest. It’s not perfect, but there’s a friend, a seat in the park and a happy mouthful.


Shake Shack - MAP
Madison Square Park (not to be confused with the faraway Madison Square Garden)
www.shakeshacknyc.com



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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

HOT ICE IN RED HOOK

RED HOOK, BROOKLYN

I was late for an interview at Fort Defiance.

I took the subway. I took a bus. I ran.

I was also hungry.

While I was running, I passed the Brooklyn Ice House and it was about that time when I smelled the barbecue.

The owner was sitting on a bench out front with some friends and I asked if I could get a quick pulled pork sandwich. Truthfully, the three of them looked so relaxed and friendly, I just wanted to sit with them for an hour.

The owner brought me inside - fantastic and saloon-like, a bar and a place to hang out. I watched a father and daughter sitting at in the corner, playing Rock’Em Sock’Em Robots.

My favorite part? At a serious beer bar, I asked what the owner would recommend to go with my sandwich.

“PBR”

Pabst Blue Ribbon.

She could have said something that cost twice as much - and I would have enjoyed it - but for a guy who’s running late and might not have a ton of time to appreciate what he’s eating, she stuck with something good. And cheap. My whole mini-meal cost $7. Woohoo!

Good thing she didn’t ask me to marry her.

Brooklyn Ice House - MAP
318 Van Brunt Street
Brooklyn
+1 (718) 222 1865



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