An Only In NYC Snackscovery?

A recurring KKNY theme seems to be how much I love how this wonderful city o' mine is a complete cultural mashup. And to show how much it's influenced how I think...the other night, when I was craving some sort of quick snack, the crazy light bulb went on. I ended up with an American/Chinese/Jewish beauty: almond butter with Sichuan chili paste on matzo.

Sound weird? Well, it's awesome, a sort of sibling to a high-quality dish of cold noodles with sesame sauce (like the ones at Szechuan Gourmet). And the combo is a bit of a revelation: it must be so easy to make a sort of "from scratch" version of those noodles at home...I must try.


Today In The Dining Section

There's an interesting story in today's Times on Bon Yagi, the unofficial "mayor of Japantown" and owner of 11 restaurants in the East Village--one of which is my takoyaki heaven, Otafuku.


Oh Beacon Reads, Why Weren't You Open?

Spied this book during my weekend wanderings in Beacon. It would be the perfect gift for so many friends...


To Try or Not To Try...

As this dollar burger's at a Kashmiri place, I'm intrigued...but its proximity to the Port Authority Bus Terminal raises doubts...


Go See: Tara Donovan @ Pace 22

I've been a fan of New York artist Tara Donovan's installation works since I happened upon one of her giant landscapes--a topographic mountain range made from stacks and stacks of plastic cups--a few years ago. This weekend I caught two shows of her works at The Pace Gallery, one of which, Untitled (Mylar) 2011, is up until April 9.

For those of you who don't know her work, you absolutely must go check it out--its giant silver Mylar bubbles (which kind of resembles, to me, a joyful herd of balloon pachyderms)--are incredibly happy-making, and the way the installation seems to morph itself from absolutely every angle gives it a wonderful sense of life. Photos of her work just never do them justice.

Sadly (for you), the other show, Drawings (Pins), closed Saturday. I wasn't anticipating as much from a more traditional format, but I was floored. These pieces were surprisingly three-dimensional, and just as alive as her installations are. Never underestimate an excellent talent.

Tara Donovan's Untitled (Mylar) 2011 is on view until April 9, 2011 at The Pace Gallery, 545 W. 22nd Street, between 10th and 11th.


Discoveries: Finally...A New Go To Chinese Chili Sauce?

For the last few years I've been scouring Chinatown shelves for a replacement for my much-beloved (and no longer produced) Chef Chow's Hot Bean Paste, which I used to happily buy in what seemed to be the manufacturer's outlet on Division Street (or perhaps the shop owner just really liked the stuff?). Whenever I have time, I peruse the many mysterious jars filled with crushed chilis, oil, and other various ingredients, but despite a refrigerator shelf chock-full of spicy concoctions, nothing's ever managed to fill the bill.

But I think I've finally discovered an acceptable replacement. While it's completely different (it's laced with Szechuan peppercorns--which only makes it better), I think this mysterious Spicy King "Home Made Szchuan Chili Sauce" might just be my new go-to thing to grab when I need to spice up some stir fry. Initial experiments have been super successful, and while its flavors will limit its use to Chinese dishes, I think I'll probably fly through the jar.

Besides, it's Super Lucky!


1910 "Hotel Oddities"

Researching a little history for The Actors Fund, I was digging through The New York Times archives, when I found this little gem tacked on to the scan of one of the stories. I don't know what's best: the shocking news of women smoking at the Waldorf-Astoria, the Mexican bird escape at the Gotham, or the use of pneumatic tubes and electric dumbwaiters to serve a "quick lunch" at the St. Regis.


An Addition To The Truly Cheap Eats List: Yummy Noodle

The sign says it all. I've peeked through the windows at Yummy Noodle on numerous occasions, read how it was the go-to late-night noodle spot for Buddakan Chef Yang Huang, but I'd never actually popped in for a meal.

I've finally done so, and I can say two things:

1: It's earned its name.
2: I can't wait to go back!

Hot Pot Hot Tub
I hesitate to write more about Yummy Noodle before I've made a few visits, frankly, because the menu is large and we only ate two things: the roast pork (tasty!) and fried noodles with shredded pork and preserved vegetables (a special order--not quite the one on the menu). While we were really happy with what we had, we continued to ooh and ahh over everything that came out of the kitchen. So...I really, really need to go back, preferably with a large group of people so we can order tons of different things. Who's up for a field trip?

Yummy Noodle, 48 Bowery between Canal and Bayard.


The High Line Phase II: So Close!

For those of you who haven't been to the far reaches of West Chelsea lately, the next phase of The High Line (from 20th to 30th streets) looks like it's well on its way to being done. While the 30th Street area still seems to be under some sort of construction, it looks to me like the 20th Street end is just about ready. The High Line's website still says it'll open sometime in the spring, so we'll see what happens.


Happy Fat Tuesday!

It's About Time!

Today's beautiful sky and gorgeous sunshine... A sure sign spring is finally on its way!

Chumley's Has Been Closed For Almost Four Years?!

I walked up Bedford Street this weekend, and when I reached Barrow, things have looked the same as they have for years now--seemingly no progress on the Chumley's restoration. Is there any hope of a Chumley's return? Does anyone know what's going on?!

I'm thinking it doesn't look so good...

On April 5, 2007, a chimney collapse (due to some construction work) closed the historic establishment (and probably really upset the suddenly-homeless upstairs neighbors, as most of the building had to be dismantled). Since then, other then a few "It's going to reopen soon!" moments that ultimately led to nothing, there has been very little word about the former speakeasy's future. At this point--and after this much construction/filled dumpsters--I kind of wonder if anything resembling its old wonderfulness will ever return?

For those of you who never had the pleasure, Chumley's was the now-famous speakeasy on the corner of Bedford and Barrow. At one time popular among the literary and political set, it was more recently crowded with tourists and NYU students, but charming nonetheless. It still sported its emergency bookcase exit, and when you took first-timers through its secret Barrow Street door, the experience was all the more wonderful.

Any news is appreciated!


Seriously, Why?

The latest addition to the short list of things I absolutely refuse to eat: Silkworm Pupa.

After a Korean feast with friends at New Wonjo we popped next door to Han Ah Reum Supermarket for a little post-dinner adventure. Spied alongside the various varieties of flavored tuna fish in cans: the above. After a quick web search, I discovered they are a popular snack in Korea, called beondegi. Boiled and seasoned, it's sold by street vendors, at bars, and in those little cans.

Now, those of you who know me well know...I don't like bugs. At all. So, every time I see a news story about the scary state of the global food supply, and that eating insects could be the answer, I get seriously nauseous. I guess I'll be one of the first to starve to death if things get bad, but you know what? I'm fine with that.


Chinese Challah?

I've done a little digging, to no avail... I picked up this loaf of braided bread at one of my favorite Chinatown bakeries (on Mulberry south of Canal), and after having a slice, I thought, "Challah?" I wonder what the history is with this stuff. It seems like a lot of Chinese bread tends to be on the eggy/sweet side (like what they used to make baked roast pork buns, etc.). Is it a purely Chinese thing, which would make the Challah similarity a coincidence? Or is this the product of the closely-linked Chinese/Jewish food history in America? Can anyone enlighten me?

Regardless, it's tasty, inexpensive, and will undoubtedly make fabulous French Toast...


Inside The Momofuku Lab

Check out this great little video from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, which features a peek at Momofuku chef David Chang's mysterious test kitchen. Known for his...er...candor, my favorite bit is Chang's MSG comment at the end. [Via Gizmodo.]


A Little Art + Food Discovery: Bumpas & Parr

This morning's "Discovery Over Coffee," thanks to a Grub Street post, is the British experiential food duo Bumpas & Parr. Designers of all sorts of creations that blend architecture and art with food, they seem to be most famous for their jellies (that's The Queen's English for Jell-O), which, looking at their website, have taken some fascinating forms. Some of their other projects look fabulous as well, including The Complete History of Food, Parliamentary Waffle House, and Meat Jewellery.

In the video embedded below, the duo talks about its Ziggurat of Flavor, built for the Big Chill Festival in August 2010. At the end, they chat about eventually towing an iceberg to New York Harbor (I feel like I've heard about this before?), which I hope would mean some giant cocktail party in Battery Park? But I also think, in the meantime, they should bring the Ziggurat of Flavor (or something like it) to NYC. I'm thinking Madison Square Park would be the perfect place--it could be a fabulous post Shake Shack experience!