Tuesday, November 25, 2008

L&B Spumoni Gardens

Guess I am still being bad about blogging. I'll be better after Thanksgiving. But have no fear, I still have a great post for today.

Another review from Matt...

Is a NY Pizza tour ever truly finished? Knowing that my girl is always…always in the mood for a couple slices, we headed to L&B Spumoni Gardens in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn after a thrilling Alabama victory over LSU. Tide is still #1! Let me say this about Bensonhurst…probably amongst the highest concentration of gentlemen that own pinky rings in America. It is an area that, unlike the rest of NY, still has legitimate 'Goodfellas'.

L&B is known for two things, Sicilian (Square as we say here) slices and Spumoni. What is Spumoni? Good question. I thought it was some kind of fish. It's not. It's Italian molded ice cream, usually with bits of fruit and nuts. The 'Gardens' consists of three buildings with lots of outside tables. This place is huge in the summer. One building is just take out pizza, the other offers the full restaurant menu to take outside, and the last is the sit down dining room, which we opted for. Were we the only non-neighborhood Italians there? Perhaps. I think the two older gentlemen next to us are still eating. The amount of food that kept coming and coming and coming was amazing.

We opted each for a salad and two square slices, and two Pepsi's. This is important b/c our waiter was, well, out to lunch. 10 minutes after our salads arrived we still didn't have our drinks. And the salads were the size of what is a family style salad, except there was one for each of us! Finally catching his eye I got him to bring us the pizza. I thought it was too doughy.

(Erin says: I thought it was great! It is a thicker slice but the dough is just a bit sweet and is somewhat close to Buddy's...then again no one beats Buddy's)

It's real Sicilian though, with the cheese under the sauce. When I reheated the second slice the next day I thought it was 100 times better. Maybe it just wasn't hot enough. Fortunately I still had cannoli from Villabate, which is also in Bensonhurst, to sooth my concerns. I think we may head back in the Spring when it's warm, sit outside and try some more slices, and this time sample the Spumoni as well.

L&B Spumoni Gardens
2725 86th Street

Saturday, November 15, 2008

JG Melon

A review by Matt...

"Didn't you two go to dinner after MOMA?"

Why yes, we did! Erin didn't tell you but MOMA and then JG Melon was a surprise 'mystery date' for me. And I was informed after the museum that we were off to JG Melon.

Melon is a real local hang out, not very big, people at the bar, maybe seats for 25 inside and a few tables outside. Very popular spot that is known primarily for…cheeseburgers, and their fries, which are of the 'cottage' variety and slightly puff when cooked. Upon a 715pm arrival, we were told there was a 40 min wait. We went next door to Citarella, which is an upscale market so I could look for cheese, which I found, but the guy wouldn't cut it down for me. Don't ask.

(Erin says: we were looking for Keen's cheddar, someone's fav cheese, but a very pricey import.)

Back at Melon's our 40 min wait turned into 15 mins as we got an outside table, which was good b/c it was warm evening. The Lady had the grilled cheese with tomato. I knew this would be a tough spot for her to get something good, but she knew I would love it, and that's why I love her:).

(Erin says: He had me at "good fries"! And I am happy to help Captain Carnivore get his meat fix on the outside because last time I tried to cook him a burger in the apartment I almost set the sprinkler off!!)

Cheeseburger medium for me and the pickle chips on the burger are the best. This one was even little bigger than the last, cooked nicely, good coarseness of grind. The Mecca…Shake Shack, is out with their recipe of 50-25-25 Sirloin, Chuck, Brisket with 80-20 meat to fat ratio. JG Melon is a close second.

I remember my old boss, R.I.P, a man of considerable wealth (family founded Pillsbury) and taste to match, telling me he and his wife stopped off at Melon's 'just to get some cheeseburgers'. It is one of those egalitarian NY places that everyone goes to. I love those places. This is also Bobby Flay's favorite burger in NY. I admit it too, Bobby Flay is my man crush. I would love to go bromancing with him.

(Erin says: bromancing, oh my!)

JG Melon
1291 Third Ave @74th St.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"We don't shop vertically"

"huh?" That was my reaction when a born and bred New Yorker explained to me earlier this week that native New Yorkers don't like shopping malls; they only shop in street level stores. "We don't shop vertically," she told me.

I had never given that a moment's thought ("that's not a surprise, you're not a New Yorker") but now that I have, it's quite true. There aren't any suburban-style mega malls in the city. There is a mall near Herald Square but that seems marginally successful at best (Matt says the mall has good bathrooms). And there are the shops in the Time Warner Center, which seems successful although always fairly empty.

TJ Maxx does share a building with Bed Bath and Beyond and Filene's Basement but that isn't really a mall. The Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn really isn't either. That's more a collection of anchor stores with just a few other spots to fill space.

My New Yorker source explained to me that New Yorkers like the feeling of street level stores and have a superiority complex whereby they will pay full price at small stores rather than shop for a deal. ("And yet all the New Yorkers who go to East Hampton to go Kmart to get their sheets.")


Is this really a New Yorker thing or is it an urban thing? I guess I can really only compare this to DC-- which does have Georgetown Park (from True Lies fame) and Pentagon City.

Free Fridays at MOMA

Target (shout out for Target) sponsors free Friday evenings at the MOMA so I went last week to check it out and culture up.

Apparently Free Fridays are not a secret-- the museum was packed! It reminded Matt and me a bit of Free Wednesdays at the Bronx Zoo except there were lots of Europeans instead of strollers and people were better behaved.

I LOVED the Kirchner exhibit of Berlin street scenes. We also enjoyed the permanent collection of Monets, VanGoghs, Rothkos, Mondrians, and, and, and...

4-8pm, every Friday, check it out...can't beat the price:-)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Someone else's adventure

Special prize for the person who can guess what these two characters are doing!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

November 4, 2008

Wow, so we have a new president, a historic election between two great and honorable Americans.

I was amazed by the reaction in New York. Yes, there were a fair share of election parties and media was out in full storm. Here are some shots from two big cable stations (for a girl who was a PolySci geek in high school, an election party in the Big Apple is a high point in life! We also got invited to the MTV party when we ran into a former Real Worlder...Matt and I realize that we will never be that cool ever again:-))

But I was shocked by the crowd in Times Square and the jubilation from the Pace University after Obama was announced victorious. It's 11:45 now and I can only hope the students behave and don't get too crazy. Ha, an unmarked police car drove past once and has now come back through lights a blaze telling everyone that the celebration is over.

E Biddy took a video from her window:-)

Sunday, November 02, 2008

NYC Marathon

Yesterday was marathon day! I love it!

Though the weather was a bit on the chilly side, it did not dampen the spirits of the thousands and thousands of competitors. Matt and I watched in Fort Greene near the ING cheer zone.

The crowd was excited but small as the hand bike competitors zipped by.

By the time Brit Paula Radcliffe led the pack of elite women around the Brooklyn Academy of Music and onto Lafayette Ave. the crowd was quite large and even more excited. Best of all, American Kara Goucher was running second, hot on Paula's heals. She slipped to third in the end, but that was a fantastic finish for USA running!

Here's the men's pack at mile 8.

Fast forward to Central Park, here's Brazilian Marilson Gomes dos Santos making sure Abderrahim Goumri of Morocco stayed behind him with less than 1/2 mile to go. Congrats!!

Here's the first American on the men's side, Abdi Abdirahman.

In related running news, I'm pleased to announce that Aunt Lisa's high school girls' cross country team won the Division 1 state cross country championships in Michigan on Saturday. What a team, what a coach! AWESOME!!