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His eating habits might even be weirder than mine . . .

http://newyork.grubstreet.com/2010/12/simon_rich.html

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Feeling Out Falafel

Lunch is sometimes my favorite meal of the day.   In my opinion, nothing beats a good sandwich, but sometimes a hearty salad or rich soup will help me power through the workday.  I recently moved offices and am now work in the heart of Union Square, where there are tons of places to grab a quick bite to eat.

About a year ago, my friend introduced me to Pita Joe, right on 14th near USQ.  Occasionally I would walk the mile from my old office in the Meatpacking District, because the pitas are just that satisfying.  Every time I went I’d get the same thing, the “Schnitzel Joe”: a chicken cutlet in a pita with lettuce, hummus spread, chopped Israeli Salad, and a mini pickle, and avocado (for an additional charge).

Today was my first venture to Pita Joe since moving into the Union Square neighborhood.  They are known for their falafel, a food which until just a couple of hours ago, I had never tried.  It wasn’t that big of a lunch risk for me since I eat most fried foods, but I usually like to incorporate chicken, turkey, or some sort other kind of meat into most meals.  My “Joe in a Pocket”, the restaurant’s signature pita, was just as tasty as the Schnitzel, healthier, and cheaper, to boot.  I’m happy to have yet another lunch option to add to my rotation.

Joe in a Pocket

 

Dinner Party Chez Polly

My friend, Polly, loves to cook and entertain.  Last night she cordially invited me and a couple of other friends over for dinner.

When we were heading downtown, I asked my friend and other roommate, Mimi, if she knew what was on the menu:  “I think some kind of casserole . . . squash and green beans, maybe?”  I tried to hide my concern, but couldn’t help but think I probably should have had a pre-dinner snack in case I couldn’t eat anything.

When we arrived, I was delighted to see a stack of ham biscuits resting on a platter.  I could easily make a meal out of those, paired with some salad, and a few glasses of wine . . . Voila!  Dinner!

A few minutes later, Polly took the casserole out of the oven.  Not only did it smell delicious, but it looked amazing.  Polly explained that it was made with butternut squash, leeks, a little bit of prosciutto, and then covered in cheese.   Click on the image below for the official recipe (she substituted butternut squash for delicata):

Polly's Butternut Squash and Leek Casserole

Once I heard the words “prosciutto” and “cheese” come out of her mouth, I brushed my fears aside, and was confident I could dig into this dish and probably like it.  The casserole combined so many flavors that blended together uniquely and perfectly;  the butternut squash was sweet, the sharp cheese was tangy, and the prosciutto added a touch of saltiness.  Fortunately there was enough for everyone to have seconds (and thirds).  And in case you are wondering, the ham biscuits lived up to my expectations.

Dinner Plate (Round 1)

On last night’s episode of Glee (“The Substitute”), villain Sue Sylvester bans tater tots from the school cafeteria, much to Mercedes’s dismay.  Sue is appalled by the student body’s disinterest in health education.  In a funny scene, tots-loving Mercedes confronts Sue, who holds up a stalk of broccoli and asks Mercedes if she knows what it is . . . click below to see what happens:

 

Attack against the Tots

One of the vegetables my mom made me and my sister eat when we were younger, was broccoli.  My sister would only eat the heads, and I would only eat the stems, so together we made quite a team.  I would still prefer tots to broccoli today, but I tolerate the green veggie more than I used to . . . perhaps one of these days, after more adventures in eating, I’ll acquire a taste for it.

Flushing Field Trip

On Sunday, my Food Blogging class took a field trip to Flushing’s Chinatown neighborhood.  Immediately upon exiting the subway station, I felt like a tourist in a foreign land.  The area was unlike anywhere I have ever been before.  It’s hard to believe that it is actually in the same city that I’ve lived in for over 20 years.

Flushing Chinatown Map

I am usually quite particular when it comes to ordering from Chinese restaurants, and I very rarely eat street meat unless it comes from a gourmet food truck (or if I am desperate for a hot dog).  However when I found out about this optional field trip, I knew I wanted to participate.  It would be a great opportunity for me to explore another culture and realistically, the chances of me organizing such an expedition for myself are very slim.

I’m very glad I went because it was truly a memorable experience.  When we first got there, we veered off from the congested Main Street, and made out our first stop at a tiny shop on 41st Avenue. We started the day with dumplings, steamed pork buns, a doughy treat filled with egg and scallions, and fried peanuts.  We then proceeded to a cart serving hot-off-the-grill lamb and chicken skewers, which were perfectly spiced and seasoned.  After a brief stops at the largest Chinese restaurant in America, and one of the  supermarkets, we reached our final destination, the Flushing Mall. The mall is two-stories filled with Chinese clothing shops, and a food court.  There we ate hand pulled noodles, wontons, more dumplings, and a super sweet dessert made of shaved ice and piled high with a mango-flavored custard-like substance.  The food everywhere was so authentic and unlike any Chinese food I’ve ever had.

What Did Snooki Eat?

During my lunch break yesterday, I walked past the Jersey Shore’s beloved Princess of Seaside Heights, Snooki.  She and a very tan man were sitting at one of Blue Water Grill’s outside tables.  Of all the places in Union Square, I was very surprised to see her here.  Perhaps this is because we only see the Jersey Shore cast members feasting on family style Italian meals on the show, and the menu at Blue Water Grill is certainly different from that.  I realize I do not have much on which to base my judgment of Snooki’s palate, and maybe she really does appreciate a fancy meal from one of the top seafood restaurants in New York.  Since my Snooki sighting, I have been wondering what she ended up ordering.  Apparently it was her birthday weekend, so maybe she splurged and treated herself to the lobster?

Flex Mussels

After almost two years since Flex Mussels debuted on the Upper East Side, Bobby and Laura Shapiro have now added a downtown outpost in the West Village.   The concept is the same: a mussels-centric menu accompanied by other seafood (described on the menu as “not mussels”) options.

I was going out to dinner one night with a friend and was given the responsibility of picking the restaurant.  I had been reading about Flex Mussels and decided I wanted to try it, even though I had never actually tasted a mussel, ever, nor have I ever been a big fan of seafood.

The mussels, served by the pound, are available in a variety of 22 staple preparations (and one daily special), most of which are identical to the original menu, but with a handful of fresh additions, such as the bruschetta sauce.  I chose the “Mexican” flavor.  The sauce was unique and spicy with chipotle adobo, chorizo, and calamari.  After trying (and finishing) the large pot of mussels, I decided it was time for me to start taking more seafood risks at restaurants.