Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Best It Was My Birthday or My Birthday is Coming!

Woke up Saturday morning to something unexpected: A birthday present. And not just any old birthday present, a birthday mix from National Geographic (no, not the magazine. The dj.) I think technically it was supposed to be a belated birthday mix, but I can't help but think of it as the kickoff to the countdown to my next birthday. Click on over to download it. What does it sound like? Perfect present unwrapping music, if you ask me. And I think that's a good theme for my next birthday: Presents.


Also: Even if you hate music, the mix is worth downloading just to see the brilliant album art for the file. Trust.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Best Additional Hamburger Research

My friend Chelsea (mastermind behind my birthday shark cake) took me to task on my burger post from a week or two back and basically told me I didn't know anything if I hadn't tried the Slav burger from Korzo Haus in the East Village. I told her I'd love to try it, and then on Saturday I found myself trying it, just like that!

This burger is quite unique in that it's deep fried inside its bun. This is like a European thing that you've never heard of, even if you've been to Europe. Deepfrying within a bun. After cooking they slice it open and stuff the bun with pork neck, sauerkraut, caraway seeds, juniper berries and a Romanian sheep's milk cheese. The result is very good, quite unique. (Like I said a few sentences ago). That's a problem with writing a blog post off the top of your head. If you use one expression, it sometimes embeds in your brain and then you wind up using it a few more times because it's already loaded in your RAM or something.

Not the best picture of me (by any measure) but I wanted you to see my new Tacos hat if you haven't seen it yet. Basically I am trying to run off to LA for a weekend right now just to show off my Tacos hat.

We all shared a very nice plate of spatzle. Very, very nice. Excellently thick little pieces of bacon in there, too.

Here, on the right, is Chelsea, the day's mastermind (if you scroll back up to the top you'll see this is the second time I've called her a mastermind in this post).

Jesse and Brenda.

After our meal (and maybe some people had milkshakes and maybe some people had fries) we sought sun and couldn't find it until we got to Union Square.

Where we also found ourselves in the middle of a Venezuela demonstration.

A few other things I saw walking around that afternoon:

My Smoking Sombrero Man friend from El Aguila apparently spends his weekends on the Lower East Side now.

(I mean, there couldn't possibly be two smoking sombrero men statues, right?)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Best Here's Just Some Stuff

Photos of things that happened, from between the middle-ish of January to the middle-ish of February.

One night I went and saw the New Bomb Turks at the Bellhouse. They opened for the Mighty Mighty Bosstones at the first concert I ever went to, nearly exactly 20 years ago (oh man oh geeze). I hadn't seen them since then. What did I think? I'll tell you later.

One Monday afternoon I went up to Charles Country Pan Fried Chicken in Harlem with Jesse and Charles.

It was absolutely the best. You can get either a few pieces of chicken with two sides for $12 or All You Can Eat for $16, which includes drinks and desserts and anything you can think to ask them for.

Busy security guard.  See him? Over there in the corner? Protecting the gigantic room?

There was a East Village Dessert Crawl (Treat Trot?) for Emily's birthday. This photo is from the taco-centric after party, though.


Something I learned from showing up later: If you drop an egg on the street in freezing cold weather, it turns into white and yellow styrofoam. 

One Saturday morning I found myself eating really nice tacos on Staten Island. Were it not such a crazy trip I'd go right back. Or, maybe because it was such a crazy trip I should go right back right now.

Cockfight art in the establishment.

I took this photo of this photo but I did not take the photo, you know?

Andy had his birthday. 

I had to improvise, wrapping paper-wise.

This Nestle Quik Jeep is always parked outside Andy's house.

It even has a cute little tail.

Chinatown Store Cat



Brother in Law Cory was in town. For lunch we had Peter Luger Burgers and for dinner we went wild at Frankies. But these are just the appetizers.

I took him over to Big Gay for dessert and I tried their new Rocky Road soft serve.

It has been cold and freezing and snowy and grey all the time, but not all the time.

I said Not All the Time!

Ok, maybe all the time.

Had a real real nice breakfast sandwich from the Earl of Sandwich.

Right before I flew off to Nashville, but I already told you about that trip.


One night real recently I had kind of fancy currywurst. Sure, you can dress currywurst up, but really you don't have to.

One Sunday I walked across the park. 2/3rds of the way in I realized it was a mistake.

Don't worry. This was for a TV show.

Neighborhood Valentine stallion.

Neighborhood super great square slice. Lookit those pepperonis! Prince Street Pizza. It's one of those places you, like, have never ever heard of but the walls are covered in articles about it from the Daily News and such.

Tried this shirt on. Didn't buy it. Should I have?

Still more of this, no matter how sunny it might suddenly be for an afternoon.

Valentine's Afternoon I went to a From Home Workers Office Party but all I got was this picture of Jacob. And a blondie.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Best Burgers. Definitively.

There are more "Best Burger in New York" lists out there than anyone needs, but last night I found myself dipping into a Wendy's and for some reason the toppings of my Jr. Cheeseburger Deluxe (just tasty enough in the moment) lead me to ponder the hamburgers I've eaten during my ten years here so far, and also how much the hamburger landscape of the city has changed while I've been here.

When I got here in 2003 there were basically three hamburgers I heard people talking about: The Corner Bistro Bistro Burger, the burger at Diner in Williamsburg (which I didn't just hear people talk about but lose their minds over), and the fancy burger at db Bistro Moderne, which people were just talking about for being fancy.

In 2004, the Burger Joint at the Parker Meridian and the first Shake Shack opened up, and things started to change. Back then it seemed like you had to be either Team Joint or Team Shack and I was very much a Burger Joint person. Now there's so many burger places in the city that it doesn't seem like a violation of my loyalties to grab a Shackburger (and with increasing frequency, as Shake Shacks are beginning to fill the entire city) and there seems to be a hot new burger to try at almost every restaurant I visit.

Anyway, in my reflection at Wendy's, I came up with my list of the most impressive burgers I've encountered in the city.

The 3 Best Burgers:

Cheeseburger from the Burger Joint — The platonic ideal of burger perfection, it is to burgers what the Parm Meatball Parm is to meatball sandwiches. All the qualities a cheeseburger should possess are exemplified in this perfect burger. Traditional in its toppings, but there's something special about it having two types of cheese on it and when I think of this burger the sense memory of mustard/ketchup/mayo smacks just right in my mouth. Worth the wait at the Parker Meridian, but also worth not waiting for at their newer, much much larger location in the Village.

Cheeseburger from Peter Luger's — After years of ignoring this burger, I let it come crashing into my life last year. Now that I've had this monster 4 times, I'm inclined to ease off for a little while. But I'm telling YOU that you need to have it at least once. Ground together from the steaks of the restaurant and topped with just a slice of American cheese and a ring of raw onion on the side, the burger doesn't require anything else to get the job done (although I encourage you to order bacon with it, but trying to put the bacon on the burger is like topping a burger with a pork chop . . . you'll see what I mean when that bacon shows up). When I think of this burger I think of the bun between my fingers, firm on the outside but soft on the inside, and a ton of burger juice leaking out at first bite. Treat yourself. That's all I have to say (after writing a great big long paragraph about it).

Steakhouse Burger from Brindle Room — I've only had it once, but respectable critics have called this the best burger in the world, and I see where they're coming from. An absolute marvel of high quality house ground meat and exceptional smash style cooking technique, this burger eats far too quickly, you'll start feeling sad that it's going away after your first bite but also not be able to keep from gobbling it up as fast as you can. I don't think I'm selling it right right here, but Trust: get this burger.

The Honorable Mentions:

Smoked Meat Burger from Mile End — Another burger I've only had once, I'm dying to get it again. I don't think this is because it came with poutine, but it might have been.

Lamb Burger from the Breslin — I don't think I can put a burger of lamb in my official list of best burgers, but this thing is a son of a gun. I mean, just as good as my top 3 burgers, but kept out of that list for pure protein prejudice. If you're worried, it does not taste too strongly of lamb. It tastes strongly of amazing. Also, it's the one burger on the list that I don't seem to have a photo of. But there are a ton on Google Images.

Cheeseburger from Bill's Bar n Burger — For a few months this smash-style burger was my favorite in the city, then the RUB Burger came along. I haven't had a Bill's Burger since 2010. But look at that guy! What a clean cut-looking perfect example of a cheeseburger. I need to go back.

Most Dearly Departed Burger:

RUB Burger from RUB BBQ — There was a stretch where this wonderful smash-style burger was my absolute favorite in the city. Served only on Monday nights, and with a long wait for each individually mothered and cared for patty, it was too beautiful to last forever. Plus I hear the BBQ at the restaurant wasn't spectacular. So it closed. And looking at that picture I posted above breaks my heart a little.