Dec 1, 2007


The photos got in! Yay!

They were from Jupiter, a cool little pizzeria/ bar/ jazz spot. I ate there over the summer with Priya during the apartment hunt from hell. At least I got some great food out of it. Oh, and a place to live.

I remember there being a bit of a crisis over which pizza to choose,
mostly because I'm too indecisive and Priya's too nice, but also because all the pizzas sound totally amazing. The names of the pizzas and sandwiches all relate to Astronomy and Greek mythology - like the Atlas sandwich (roasted chicken breast, roasted red peppers, fresh basil, provolone, and aioli, served on pantofolina), and the Circe pizza (shrimp, garlic, mozzarella, green onion, red chili, and cracked pepper, on an olive oil crust). We finally settled on the new Xanthia pizza - a carb-lover's dream of thinly-sliced Yukon Gold potatoes, bacon, garlic, mozzarella and ricotta cheese, crushed red pepper, and fresh herbs, on an olive oil crust. Though I had my doubts about the bacon (though I'm sure Priya didn't!), it didn't overpower the pizza at all. The combination of ricotta and mozzarella was the perfect mix of gooey, soft, and stringy that you want in every pizza. The potatoes were crispy, golden-brown, and plenty garlicky, and the red pepper and herbs added freshness. Unfortunately I don't really remember what the crust was like, but who cares, when the toppings are that good? Seriously. Go to Jupiter and never think twice about the calories you're about to ingest. It's so worth it. Now I just need to get myself to Zachary's before I can truly say anything about Berkeley pizza.

Also, enjoy (?) this wierd little widget Schmapp let me make. I don't really see the point of it since you can't even see the photos really, but uh.. just scroll to "Jupiter" and cliquez-vous! Then scroll through the photos until you see the ones credited to "Jennifer Shankey." Definately more trouble than it's worth, but whatever! I FEEL SPECIAL, KIND OF!


2181 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, CA 94704

Nov 20, 2007


We are still alive and still eating! Unfortunately school is eating us, hence the extremely long hiatus. But check back soon for some seriously long-due updates.

I also have some exciting news for this little blog!

I recieved an email yesterday from
Schmap, a site that creates free online city guides for travelers around the world. They review local nightlife, restaurants, entertainment, a bit like Yelp but more put-together. Somehow they came across my Flickr account and entered two of my food photos into a contesty kind of deal and now they might end up in their next revision of the Berkeley guide! Unfortunately if my photos are used Schmap won't actually fund my fooding expeditions with payment, but hopefully it'll gain the blog some recognition through the force of Flickr. If my photos get into the guide I WILL ask Schmap if they can slip in a tasteful reference to Two Hungry Bears and a Lazy Tapir somewhere in there.

Pretty cool, huh? Check out Schmap, and wait for a post coming soon which will include the photos in question. A hint - something flat, cheesy, and rhyming with feetza might be involved.

Fingers crossed!


Jul 21, 2007

oldie but goodie!

An update that should have taken place waaay back in May, in which we return to our Mecca - Gregoire!

The much-loved potato puffs. We were informed by Priya (who lived less than a block away from Gregoire last semester!) that the month's dipping mayonnaise was top-notch. I sank my teeth into the mayo-dipped, crispy, steaming ball of potato and I had to agree. The mayonnaise was especially flavorful that month - very garlicky. Yum! I looked over at Lindsay and puzzled over her quite different dipping sauce for her own order of zee puffs. It was a white sauce with tiny flecks of black throughout. She said, "Hmm.. my sauce is different from yours. Ooh! It tastes very interesting, almost sweet! I like it!" I inspected it closer, tried a bit, and then realized that she was mistakenly given creme anglaise (rightfully paired with that night's bread pudding) instead of the mayo! After a bit of confusion and letting one of the chefs know, all was set right. In my mind, at least - I think Lindsay might have been a bit too delighted by the flavor combination of salty potato + vanilla cream.

Since we'd never gone to Gregoire for dinner before because of the price (the items on the dinner menu are more than twice as expensive as the lunch items) and because we were already filling up on fried potato, Lindsay and I shared an entree - a Morroccan chicken dish with onions and snap peas (I think), and served with a slightly creamy, refreshing cucumber dipping sauce. It was very tasty, but I wish it had come with more veggies or maybe a bit of the orzo salad they serve with their lunch dishes.

And because I love bread pudding, I indulged in dessert. Strawberry bread pudding served with creme anglaise (much yummier on this than on the potato puffs!). Sooo good. The top was crispy and the insides were moist, with chunks of fresh strawberries throughout. The creme anglaise added another layer of richness. It was the perfect size and very satisfying. I need to find a good recipe fur realz.



2109 Cedar

Berkeley, CA 94709

Jul 19, 2007

Tartine, Mon Amour

Prepare yourself, I'm going to get sappy for this post is about one of my (Jen) favorite little places in the world:

Tartine Bakery has been praised repeatedly (Mark Bittman of the New York Times called it his "favorite bakery in the United States"and has more than 600 (mostly positive) reviews on Yelp--for good reason. Nearly everything I've ever tried there has been amazing.
I love it all--from the homey, rustic french bakery atmosphere to the intellectuals sitting at their variously sized tables to the mysteriously good-looking staff behind the case of even better looking pastries and cakes.

After reading and researching all about the bakery (its goods and its owners) late last year, I knew I had to go. This place quickly became a place of escape (from school, people, shitty dorm food, work, you-name-it) and relaxation for me.

Thanks to a summer internship, for nearly twice (as of last week, three times) a week for the past two months, I've gone there with just those intentions of escaping and relaxing. Each day, I look forward to the moment the clock hits 12:00, I race down the steps of my building, hop onto the bus for a 15 minute ride, jump off at the stop, and whisk down Guerrero street. Armed with a good book, a fully loaded I-Pod, and a silent "thank you" to my mother for supporting me in my gourmet addiction, I order some treat(s) and prepare to be delighted with whatever delights I've decided to try that day.

Initially, I wasn't planning on including my experiences at Tartine in the blog. My lack of a working camera and laziness to write coherently (who wants to wax poetical about baked goods and sandwiches all summer??) were the main culprits. However, I soon realized that I'd regret not including Tartine in the blog. So forgive me if the few pictures are blurry (they are with my mom's old camera and were taken a while ago before it finally decided to give up--hey, it HAS survived falling into an asian-style toilet AKA hole in the ground) and the writing sucks (I've decided to just jot down my disjointed thoughts because I only remember certain things and I will have to write a lot since it has become my goal to try EVERYTHING on the menu--forcing my normally unadventurous self to try new things) but hopefully this will be helpful to those that want a taste of what Tartine has to offer...

Devils Food Cake- $4.50 Slice (picture coming soon)

3 layers of Valrhona dark chocolate butter cake, layered with caramel and chocolate ganache, topped with a dusting of large cocoa powder, Served at room temperature
Appearances can be deceiving. At first it didn’t seem like much and I was pretty positive it would settle easily and comfortably in my stomach (I even considered getting something to go alongside it). Happy I didn’t. Extremely decadent. Should be savored slowly and not with the side of the fork smashing through each layer every two movements (as I did). I enjoyed the fact that it was cooled when it was initially given to me (nice, toothy texture), but as it melted, the chocolate flavor was intensified and released even more. Milk definitely required. As much of a stomach ache as this gave me, there was nary a moment of regret as I hobbled up guerrero.
Rating: 8/10

Coppercake- $4.50 slice
Three thick layers of ganache surrounded by various lightly peppery, mocha levels, beautiful texture, not too sweet, envelops the tongue which chocolateness upon contact
Amazing flavor in the beginning, but the non-chocolate flavors just weren’t interesting enough to warrant repeated fork stabbing, in the mad rush of pastry purchases, this was the clear winner, definitely worth trying again
Rating: 6/10

Chocolate Chip with oatmeal and walnuts- $2.00
(see Bunrab's picture of it here)
Large, crisp, not too sweet, chocolate chips melted into rest of flat, ever-so-slightly bendable disk.
Tore bits and pieces off, but wasn’t interested enough to finish the whole thing. For those with “mature” tastes, this is the perfect thing to go with their Mr. Expresso coffee. For me, not really worth getting again.
Rating: 3/10

Passion Fruit Lime Bavarian- $4.50 Slice
Lime moistened genoise with passion fruit bavarian cream topped with sweetened cream
Though I could tell that everything was first rate, the tartness and the lightness of the cake just isn't what I was looking for to soothe my sweet tooth. My sister couldn't get enough though. It definitely got ignored during the passing of the pastry boxes. At least the white chocolate flakes on the outside were yummy.
Rating: 2/10

Banana Cream Tart-$5.50 (there are a bunch of pictures on Yelp)
Hard, flaky pastry coated in thick layer of dark chocolate and caramel. Filled with banana pastry cream and bananas. Topped with lightly sweetened cream and thick chocolate shards
Definitely lives up to the hype. Looks overwhelming at first, but any ideas of just eating half quickly disappear. Should be eaten there, on a plate, for the full experience. The combination of hard, buttery crust, dark chocolate, and the hint of caramel create a gourmet candy bar experience. Banana slices scale the entirety of this delicious Mount Everest of a dessert. The chocolate shards are a highlight. Only con is that there may be too much whipped cream, had to push some aside towards the end. Don't even think about sharing--the devil inside you will come out! It’s a meal in itself.
Rating: 9.5/10

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart-$5.50
Rich, dark, chocolate filling in a sweet pastry shell with toasted oregon hazelnuts.
Shared, it’s the perfect ending to a rich meal. The whole flavor was like whiff of a gourmet, less sweetened nutella. Delicious. Tart shell was a little hard and crispy. Literally broke the lovely plastic fork that came with it. Who cares? Makes it even easier to lift up to the mouth. The hazelnuts that were embedded into the ganache were a surprise texturally and taste-wise. Made me wish I drank coffee.
Rating: 7/10

Pain au Chocolate-$3.25 (picture coming soon)
A warm, ever so crisp-on-the- outside, fluffy-on-the-inside casing of croissant dough surrounding two lanes of Sharffenberger chocolate
After growing up on chocolate croissants from Safeway, I literally gasped when I tried tearing a piece of the croissant. Crisp, buttery, and light, I just kept smiling as my fingers tore off piece after piece of the crispy, soft, gooey, soft, crispy layers. Any warm chocolate that managed to escape from my fingers and the dough onto the plate were quickly consumed. Yes, I liked my fingers and then wiped the plate. No, I don’t regret a second. Like the devils cake, this is surprisingly filling. Should eat/enjoy there if you can.
Rating: 9/10

Reviews of other pastries (frangipane crossiant, bread pudding, etc) and sandwiches (percorino and almond, gruyere and pastrami, etc) coming soon!


Tartine Bakery

600 Guerrero Street

San Francisco, CA94110

Angeline's Louisiana Kitchen

I've lived in California all my life, and I like the concept of "California cuisine," which I imagine to be defined as food that's fresh, locally grown, innovative, tasty without being heavy, and plays with the flexibility of flavors given by the ethnic diversity found here. Still, there's something in me that really likes the idea of Southern comfort food. I don't think I've ever tried a dish with Southern origins that I didn't like. And while I've only ever travelled horizontally across the US and haven't yet ventured down into the southern states, it's places like Angeline's Louisiana Kitchen that gives Californians a little hint of what the South has to offer. Cause sometimes you really do just need food that sticks to your ribs!

I found Angeline's Louisiana Kitchen on Yelp, where lots of satisfied Yelpers sang its praises, one proclaiming it "better at this than anything west of the Rockies has a right to be." Sounds good to me. So I asked my friend Priya to join me, and as we walked down Shattuck and chatted we almost walked right past the restaurant. Inside, it looked like this:

Fairly small and dimly lit, with a flashy mosaic alligator hanging on the far wall. Perhaps not the most charming of decor, but the atmosphere was cool in a funky, casual kind of way. We got great service right from the start - our waiter was really nice and very attentive, and also pretty hilarious (I think he called me "my lady" the whole time), and the owner of the restaurant noticed that we were students and asked us how we found out about the restaurant. He even gave us a kind of discount coupon, if we spread the word about the restaurant to other students. So what if it may feel like cult recuitment? Free food is free food!
The menu was interesting even starting with the drink menu. I wondered what "Swamp Water" was and was informed by the waiter that it's half-lemonade, half-iced tea! I'm confused now as to this drink's origin, though, because I saw Ina Garten call the same drink "California Iced Tea" yesterday on TV, as she proclaimed that "they love this in California." Huh. Well, in any case, while I'm sure I would love it, I opted for the Sweet Tea instead. And it was sweet indeed, so much so at first sip that I squeezed the heck out of my lemon wedge to cut back on it. But as the meal went on and the ice cubes started to melt and water it down a little, it actually became quite tasty. Iced tea is probably my favorite beverage, and I love plain lemony iced tea with a simple syrup so it's sweetened throughout. I think the way sweet tea is traditionally made, however, is with the sugar mixed into the hot water so there's no need for a syrup. Anyways, it was good. I'd get it again.
Next came the hush puppies. Lots of Yelpers seemed to consider these to rival Gregoire's mighty Potato Puff, which makes me think of an animated hush puppy vs. potato puff battle, all cutesy and anime-style, with corn meal and potato spewing out from the battle arena and grease stains everywhere. Don't they just sound like they could be the names of Pokemon characters or something? Anyways. I love hush puppies. There aren't many things more satisfying than essentially a fried cornbread ball dipped in something yummy! Served with honey butter, these were awesome. Just perfect as an appetizer between two or three people.
Our entrees came out pretty speedily. I got the penne pasta with chicken in a blue cheese cream sauce. Fried oysters can be subsituted for the chicken, but because I was curious about the fried oysters (I had originally planned on getting one of their po' boys) I asked for them to be added rather than substituted. Oh, sweet gluttony! I liked my dish well enough, but the blue cheese flavor was very dominant. I should have guessed as much, but for some reason I expected a subtler flavor. Still, it was tasty, and the oysters were yummy as anticipated, and the portion was so huge I didn't even make it through half of my plate and packaged the rest.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a clear picture of Priya's Jambalaya, but she loved it. See the joy on her face? It was pretty standard Jambalaya, with I think chicken, shrimp, and andouille. Tasty!

When dessert time came around, we were really, really stuffed. But we'd come too far to turn back at the last moment, and I'd heard great things about the Bananas Foster Bread Pudding. Oh. My. Goodness! SO GOOD. The picture is terrible, but it was seriously just so delicious. I'd come back just for a piece of it and nothing else. Warm and gooey, with a sweet, sticky, burnt-sugary topping. I generally like my bread pudding a little on the dry side, because I don't like it too mushy. But somehow this bread pudding managed to be both puddingy and cakelike at the same time, moist, but dense and firm. Covered in caramel. Good grief.

I really, really liked our meal there. I'd definately say our expectations were met, and everyone was happy, even Jenn and Lindsay who couldn't make it but who I brought back extra hush puppies and bread pudding for. Nothing like fried food and dessert to get you through studying.


Angeline's Louisiana Kitchen

2261 Shattuck Ave (between Bancroft & Kitteridge)

Berkeley, CA 94704

Jul 10, 2007

Hello to our few but loyal fellow foodies -

Apologies for the lack of gusto on our part in updating this here blog, but Blogspot is doing strange, strange things to our posts and it makes us sad and angry. Double-spacing and changing font and size unnecessarily, etc. We end up tweaking a post forever to make it semi-presentable, then realizing we've forgotten to include something and having the whole thing ruined again when we add it.

Is the blog appearing okay for you? Are there tinytiny blurry lines of print after some photos, are things randomly double-spaced? I'm interested in seeing whether it's my laptop that has something to do with the madness. So comments would be helpful!

Until we have Blogspot figured out, we'll still be posting, but forgive us if it comes out a little oddly.


Jun 3, 2007

Breadbar-hopping in New Jersey

Okay, so the title may be a tad misleading because there was only one breadbar that was hopped...but oh how my belly wished there were more! After an afternoon with the kiddies, Uncle N picked me up and upon the recommendations of a teacher at their school, came to Piquant, an Indian Breadbar.
I must admit that generally I don't go for Indian food. There is one reason: I typically leave the restaurant feeling like I've aged 30 years and lots my ability to control bodily functions. That's right people, we're talking gas and indigestion. Nonetheless, I was more than willing to go through that when I heard that "bread" was in the title. I may die of gassiness, but at least I would die the way my forefathers wanted me to: happy and with a belly full of bread.
Uncle N was a brave soul and decided to try out a Masala Lassi. I've had Chicken masala and mango lassi, but never a masala lassi so I was curious to see what it tasted like. It do I put this? It wasn't like my taste buds were assaulted. Rather, just slapped on the cheek. It was extremely thick and buttery. I couldn't exactly taste the masala because the butteriness of it all just overwhelmed all my senses. It reminded me of the butter tea that I had at Cafe Tibet in berkeley. Methinks Uncle N was a little weirded out too. We ended up asking the waiter what was in it and he emphasized that was no butter in the drink. I was skeptical at first but after checking the Internet, it turns out that a lassi is a "traditional South Asian beverage...made by blending yourt with water, salt, and spices until frothy." I think it was the blending of the yogurt and salt that did it.

We started off with Aloo Papri which were wheat crispies, potatoes and chickpeas smothered with yogurt and mango sauce. The sweet, slightly buttery sauce on the light crisps was delicious. Slightly unique and just big enough to pique my appetite for more yummies on the way, it was the perfect appetizer.
Realizing that this lunch was quickly going to become a feast, I became more and more excited. Next up we had an order of wheat crisps that came wth apple, tamarind, and mint chutneys. This appetizer turned out to be a skinnier sister of the first appetizer we had. Though it was delicious and I would eat ANYTHING with tamarind chutney slathered on it, I found that I liked the first appetizer a little more. It just had a little more oomph-which is always nice.

The first little piece of food porn for this entry was a salad that had oranges, pomegranate seeds, shaved fennel, and a lime-y dressing. It was literally the most beautiful salad that I have ever eaten and being that it was slightly sour, sweet, and very fresh, it tasted as good as it looked. I think the unique plate that came with it really helped the presentation.

For the entree we shared, we had the choice of various types of stuffed naans to accompany the daal or chana pindi, the chef's pick of seasonal vegetable, rice, yogurt and bean salad. Uncle N and I didn't know exactly what daal or chini pindi was so if anyone out there does, let us know! Nonetheless, we took a leap of faith and ordered the daal. Its the brown, soupy stuff in the bowl. Sure it wasn't cute, but it was extremely satisfying (Oh how I wish I could say that about many things). The starchy-sides were amazing as well. The potatoes were slightly spicy and the yogurt covered rice was the perfect cooling antidote the strong flavors of its neighbors. For our type of naan, there were so many choices ranging from cauliflower (with pomegranate seeds and cilantro) to roasted portabella mushroom (and monterey jack cheese). We chose potatoes with grounded pomegranate seeds and with the exception of choosing to go to Cal, that, I believe was one of the best choices I ever made. The combination of warm, fluffy bread surrounding a steaming hot, gushy potato mixture was the perfect thing on a rainy day. It was unfortunate that I was already stuffed from the salad and two appetizers or I would have plowed my way through the basket.

It's restaurants like Piquant that make me wish I were a hobbit and had an excuse for having a second and third lunch.

Apr 22, 2007

the trip that launched a thousand crumbs

Central Park

So, Jen and I have been putting off detailing the New York Trip we took with Meera over Spring Break for months now, intimidated by the post's epic nature. But now that it is summer, and I am without a job, car, or anything better to do, I figure it's as good a time as ever to just get it over with. There's some good stuff to post after I get this sucker out of the way, so hopefully it will be what the blog needs to get moving again.

I'm not exactly sure how to go about doing this, so bear with me as I fumble through it. This is a food blog, of course, so I realize that most of the text will probably go unread. So! I'll try and keep it light on the stories and high on the pictures.

For at least the first 2 days or so of our vacation, our adventures were separate. Meera was in Philadelphia, venturing on somewhat sketchy Chinatown bus systems and approaching New York, Jen was in New Jersey with her aunt, uncle, and cousins, and I was stranded in Las Vegas, cursing my decision to fly US Airways and vowing to never repeat that mistake EVER AGAIN. So while the beginnings of our trip weren't lacking in oddity or interest, in terms of fooding we began on quite a weak foot. Like a fractured or a broken one, even. But in a short while we were reunited in New York City, and confronted with this:

Yes, that's right. Food Network's Mario Batali's restaurant, Babbo. We got excited, we ran to the menu, we observed prices, we photographed, we left. Um, not a whole lot to say here except for possibly, wow, that guy always wears really terrible shoes.

We did a lot of walking. Feet were sore. At least there were pretty things to look at. Otherwise everyone might be so taken up with the thought of their aching feet that they might have to resort to such footwear as exhibited above.

Out of nowhere Jen started squealing about Dean and Deluca, which we entered and was indeed pretty great. Apple crumbles were contemplated here, but we didn't end up buying anything.

One of the reasons for our NY trip was Tiff, a close friend of Jen who studies at NYU and is very cool and very talented, and who showed us a couple of places where she goes to eat and play around the city. First of these was a popular student restaurant, Dojo.

It's the kind of casual, student-filled place you're likely to find near any college campus. The students seem to like it, and the food is really, really inexpensive (some dishes are under five dollars). The four of us ordered variations on essentially the same dish - I ordered a chicken sandwich that came with a salad side and their well-loved carrot-tahini dressing, Jen and Meera might have gotten the same, and Tiff got a slab of tofu over said salad and dressing.

Overall it was a pretty normal chicken sandwich, if a little bland. The dressing, however, was really yummy - tangy with an interesting texture and color, and we asked for an extra dish of it to liven up our sandwiches. Spooning it over the fried chicken breast on my sandwich really did the trick and made it a good bet for a tasty, student-budget meal.

After dinner, Tiff took us to one of her favorite places to grab dessert, Bruno Bakery, also in Greenwich Village. We were faced with display cases of far too many delicious options - everything from cookies to mousses to full cakes. I would have loved to grab a coffee and something sweet and enjoy it outside, but the place was packed and it was cold out, so Meera and I decided to share a plain vanilla creme brulee, which was very satisfying once back in the warmth of Tiff's dorm room.

Tiff took us here, too - the Village Vanguard, which I understand is somewhat of a major jazz landmark since its opening in 1935. We went to see Roy Haynes, a jazz drummer, and it was a lot of fun - a chill little place and an amazing show. It felt very quintessential New York, which is a nice feeling. So if you get a chance to experience the Vanguard or Mr. Haynes, by all means do!

The next day, Tiff (on the right) took us to eat lunch at La Lanterna di Vittorio (The Fireside Caffe), a very cute and cozy Italian restaurant. The atmosphere is nice- there are live jazz shows here, though we didn't happen to catch one, and there is an indoor and outdoor eating area. We ate outside, in a patio area covered by a glass roof, allowing customers to enjoy alfresco eating in any weather. Tiff reminisced about the short while ago when the outdoor eating area was uncovered and the roof was in various stages of construction. Now it's kind of like eating in a greenhouse. A charming, comfortable greenhouse.

They had a nice variety of paninis and pizzas (but pizza is only available after noon). I ordered a chicken, mozzarella, tomato, and basil panini on focaccia, which came with salad greens in a balsamic vinagrette.

The bread was warm and toasty and the salad was fresh and tasty. I'm a big fan of simple salads as a sandwich side. A warning - there are many, many more sandwiches and their bready brethren to follow, people. You can get cheap, yummy sandwiches all over New York City, and we made full use of that fact. I can't honestly say I ever got sick of yummy things smooshed between bread, but I did take a little break from my usual high level of Berkeley sandwiching when I got back home.

This is a food court kind of place we stopped at, I think it was called Bocca. It think it turned out to be one of the tastiest sandwich places we stopped at, though you might not expect it. There's a lot of food here, with quite a few different stations - some kinds of Asian food, pizza, paninis, salads, etc. Lots of business people on their lunch hour, and a crowded seating area, but we grabbed a spot and cracked open our plastic to-go containers to devour the steaming sandwiches within. I got a chicken cesar panini, something out of the usual for me, but which turned out to be pretty delicious. The sandwiches came with a variety of sauces for dipping, too, depending on the type you got - marinara, chipotle sauce, various flavored mayonaisses. I decided to make my selection even wierder and go for the chipotle. Basically, it = suprisingly YUM.

See? There's a trend. It wasn't supposed to be that way. We were supposed to have theoretically taken the time to plan out every day's worth of eating and plan everything else around the food. That's how it should be - food first, tourism second, often both at the same time! But unfortunately our lack of time to prepare before the trip left us eating panini after panini in random places we stopped at cause we were starving. Let that be a lesson to you - never come on a trip without preparing your belly first! Good thing all of us actually like paninis and aren't very picky. And good thing we had the option, when we did have to have another panini, of getting a reasonably yummy pesto-and-chicken one like this one. Jen wasn't so lucky that day, however - she helped herself to a veggie sandwich that was supposed to come with hummus and was rewarded with this:

Suspicious, reasonless. It gives me the creeps a little bit just looking at the overexposed, bland picture. Are those mashed-up carrots? Please. If we'd wanted baby food, we could get it ourselves. I don't remember the name of this place at all, but after seeing this sandwich I think I'll stick to Berkeley's veggie options.

This night will remain etched into my memory forever. We were wandering around Broadway, waiting for our show to start and looking for a place to eat. After walking around forever trying to find someplace cheap to eat, we finally settled with Chelsea Grill of Hell's Kitchen. Not too memorable, but it was my first time ever trying corn chowder. I am suprised I waited so long - a thick creamy corn soup that predestines you to heart disease? Where have you been all my life? Anyway, this one was some kind of a chicken tortilla corn chowder concoction that was pretty tasty indeed.

I got a salad with sundried tomatoes, greens, and grated parmesan that was meh. Jen's salad was much more interesting - walnuts, pear slices, and some kind of cheese, maybe gorgonzola or bleu.

Oh, and the reason why the night was so memorable was that Spamalot SUCKED. Please, save yourself the money and the brain damage and just say NO. Still, Broadway is pretty. So here are some pictures:

To console ourselves after the show we decided to run to Amy's Bread, a little place we spotted on our way to the theatre.

There were many delectables to be had, but I don't think any of us bought anything (no tummy room). It seemed like the kind of place anyone who loves eating sweet things with their coffee would love - lots of pastries and buns and things covered with cinnamon and glaze and raisins, etc.

The next day - BOUCHON BAKERY!

I am addicted to macarons. Not macaroons, those little coconut towers, but French macarons - light, almost merengue-like cookies with some kind of intensely flavored paste inbetween. That's probably the worst description I've ever heard, but I promise you they are magical. According to Robyn (The Girl Who Ate Everything), Bouchon's macarons don't rank very highly in the hierarchy of NYC macarons. But the hazelnut macaron I bought at Bouchon (for almost three dollars! yikes) was enough of amazing to last a girl for a long time, and I've eaten under 5 of these delicious rarities in my whole life, so who am I to judge? The cookie was light and slightly chewy, and the cookies surrounding the hazelnut paste weren't crumbly and dry but were ONE with the paste in every bite. DekjwfsdjgnalkjsdAKGGDskjfd. Though I hope I never pay that much for a macaron ever again, it was definately one of the highlights tastewise of the trip.

I took bad, bad pictures of that cookie, but you can get a slight glimpse of the hazelnut paste action peeking through the crumbs.

We went to the Metropolitan Opera, too - a huge improvement on the previous night's Broadway adventure. The opera was La Traviata, and it was an amazing performance. We had to get the cheapest seats possible, so we were in the back standing rows for the first two acts. Then the wealthy older couples started to get bored, I guess, and decided to be totally awesome and give us their tickets! So we enjoyed the last act from incredible seats that cost someone else a lot of money. Rad!

The Met's gorgeous ceiling.

These pictures were all taken before the last act, after we changed seats and were being stared down and snobbed at by rich old people.

At one point during the trip, we somehow ended up in Whole Foods and got lunch there at the little food stations there. Nothing too interesting, I got some Indian food that was decent enough but way overpriced. The star of the show was Meera's whoopie pie, which she bought and I ended up finishing because I'm disgusting like that.

This thing is, like, every little kid's dream. Two huge pillowy cakelike chocolate cookies, sandwiching a layer of mysterious white fluff that tasted exactly like butter creamed with sugar. It was awesome.

The next day involved a trip to The City Bakery, which is basically a fast-paced, crowded, high-end cafeteria for even more working people on their breaks. You grab a container and serve yourself various gourmetish lunch items, then they charge you based on weight.

The granola bar, which had fresh mango and pineapple and looked amazing and fresh, but which I did not partake in. I did, however, steal a taste of the lime ricotta, which was disappointing.

Gourmet mini-pizzas. Meera got one of these. It was yummy. Why do I know what everyone's food tasted like.

My plate consisted of some kind of white fish (mahi-mahi, maybe) with parsley pesto, some ginger rice with red beans, jicama and mango salad, roasted brussel sprouts, sauteed green beans with lemon and almond slices, and some kind of sweet potato mixture. It sounds like a lot, but I only took a tiny bit of everything, and I was honestly glad I did. The fish was dry and pretty bland, the ginger rice wasn't anything special, and the sweet potato stuff was just kind of sweet and mushy. The brussel sprouts, green beans, and jicama and mango salad I enjoyed, though. I also liked the cookies I bought there - one of which was a big, chewy chocolate cookie and the other a powdery peanut knot cookie. I preferred the chocolate, and it lasted me for days - I put it inside of one of the soup containers available at the City Bakery's soup bar, and kept the little paper bucket of cookie inside my purse for the remainder of the trip, to be opened and snacked upon in various museums and airplane terminals. Gross resourcefulness YEAH!

By the recommendation of my sister, we also stopped at a place in Little Italy called Cafe Habana, a Cuban-Mexican fusion restaurant and bar.

It is apparently always this crowded. Lines out the door, every night of the week!

We sat right here, next to the window looking out on Prince Street.

The lighting was terrible and I was forced to use flash, so the pictures are crap and I apologize. Having said that, in my opinion, this was the best food we tried in New York. The grilled corn that Cafe Habana is known for and that my sister still tastes in her dreams was incredible - blackened on the grill, then smothered with what I think was mayo, sprinkled with chili powder and lime juice, then rolled in parmesan cheese. It was smoky, creamy, gooey, and possibly changed the way I'll think about corn forever. I also ordered some kind of masa pocket of cheese, etc, which was pretty yummy too, and I tried platanos for the first time here - sweeter than I'd expected, but yummy just the same! The best thing about my entree, however, was the simplest part - the beans and rice. OH MY GOD. I could eat bowls of this stuff! I'm too used to dry, tasteless rice and flavorless beans I've been scorned with in the past, and this stuff was just amazingly flavorful. I understood why I spotted several people ordering nothing but plates of beans and rice, and maybe a side of platanos, for their dinner. In short, AMAZING, amazing food, the best meal I had in New York and in a long time prior to that. If I lived in the city, I'd be a hopeless regular of this place.

Next is a fooding experience that I think still slightly infuriates Jen and Meera. After our first encounter with NYC macarons at Bouchon, we were on an insatiable hunt for more, ideally at a less painful price. According to the Internet, Payard Patisserie and Bistro had macarons, and at a decent price, too. So Payard it was.

Can you sense the snobbery of this place already? At least it had interesting lighting fixtures.

So basically, we walked into Payard and instantly set our sights upon the display cases of various sweets. When we found the macarons it caused quite the stir of excitement to see the many varieties and colors, and especially to see that they were only a fraction of the price of Bouchon's version. We started making our selections to bring back home for family and friends, but decided we'd come back to buy the cookies after we'd eaten some lunch. We spotted a display case selling pre-made sandwiches and browsed over them. Just as we were contemplating whether to spend 9 dollars on the tiny and unfulfilling-looking sandwiches, we were asked if we'd like to eat lunch in the restaurant (the bistro aspect of Payard). All of us hesitated, since we were nearing the end of our trip, some of us over our budget, and we knew the menu would be no less forgiving in price range. I believe it was me, however, who was probably letting her stomach trump her judgment yet again, who suggested that we eat at Payard, "since we're already here."

The food was expensive, of course, and the portion sizes were small - not at all what our stomachs or we had in mind for that afternoon. We considered leaving the restaurant after viewing the menu, but were too intimidated by our waiter and the overall atmosphere of the place, as well as the fact that busboys were already bringing us water and bread. That was probably the biggest lesson of that day - to not let a restaurant pressure you so much that you end up sharing a couple small items, eat them uncomfortably, and leave unsatisfied. In all fairness, however, though it's not a place I don't think I'd ever revisit, the food was very good. We ordered a sardine tartine - a bruschetta-like piece of toasted bread spread with pesto and salty, crispy sardines placed on top, and a croque monsieur - an broiled ham and cheese sandwich, topped with creamy bechamel sauce.

Both cheesy and delicious!

Maybe not as happy as she appears. But little tasty things are better than no tasty things at all, right? RIGHT?!

And finally, a couple of pictures of New Jersey, where we spent most of our nights during the trip. We didn't do a whole lot of eating out there except when we ate at a little diner kind of place with Jen's aunt and cousins. I can't remember the name of the place at all, but it was yummy. I got a goat cheese sandwich with veggies and balsamic vinaigrette, and the entrees all came with curried noodles.

Meera's chicken salad sandwich and clam chowder

Jen's Italianish chicken hot sandwich.

That's pretty much everything. Mad props to anyone who actually got through all of this, and who read anything I wrote. To end this concisely: that was New York. I'd go back in a second.


Dojo West

14 E. 4th Street

(between Broadway and Greene St.)

Bruno Bakery

506 Laguardia Pl Frnt

Village Vanguard

178 7th Ave S

(between 11th St. and S 7 Ave)

La Lanterna di Vittorio / The Fireside Caffe

129 MacDougal St

Bocca Restaurant

135 W 50th St

Chelsea Grill of Hell's Kitchen

675 9th Avenue

Amy's Bread

672 9th Ave

(between 46th St and 47th St)

Bouchon Bakery

10 Colombus Circle at 59th St - Third Floor

(between Broadway and W Central Park)

The City Bakery

3 W. 18th Street

(between 5th Ave and Avenue of The Americas)

Cafe Habana

229 Elizabeth Street

(between Houston and Prince)

Payard Patisserie and Bistro

1032 Lexington Ave

(between 73rd and 74th St)