Azuki

The area around 34th street can be a vexing conglomeration of eateries, bars, diners, venues, and just a cacophony cabs and sirens, with thousands of tourists milling around aimlessly and hopelessly.

However, I found that there is an Oasis nestled on Eighth Avenue and 36th Street.  Azuki!  This unassuming little eatery is a nice and quiet reprieve from the hyperventilation-inducing landscape that is Midtown Manhattan.

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This was the Dragon Roll.  Why is eel always so gross and scary in nature, and yet so delicious with a smattering of wasabi and soy sauce? Also what gives with those electric eels?  Do they really shock you or WHAT?

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This was the “Manhattan” roll.  Shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, yum.  There is a really great crunchy consistency on this bad boy.

Next time you are in midtown and begin getting overwhelmed by the bright lights of 42nd street and the TGI Friday’s type of choices that abound in this area, make sure to mosey on down to 36th for some decent sushi in the quiet oasis that is Azuki.

Reuben

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A half a pound of hot Boar’s Head beef pastrami, sauerkraut, 2 big slices of baby Swiss cheese melted on top to keep everything in place, and fresh rye bread baked locally in my neighborhood in Brooklyn.  Russian dressing on the side, but to be perfectly honest  it wasn’t needed, there already was enough flavor going on in this thing.  I do open faced Reubens, because with a proper Reuben you should need a fork and a knife to eat it with.  Also, who needs more bread?  Save that space for more pastrami!

Monday Fun Day

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You heard it here first… all you can eat Mexican food.  I was initially horrified by this idea, but still decided to go along with it.  Here is the jist of the deal:  On Monday nights at El Cantinero on University Place there is a special where they offer you all you can eat 4pm through 1am.  They also offer happy hour all night at the 2nd floor bar.  There are strict rules with this special… you can’t have anything else until you finished your plate… beans and all.  Normally you would think that this would frighten away everyone but the stoutest eaters (like my friends) but the place was doing a brisk business for a Monday night.

The food isn’t horrible, I think I had a chili releno and a enchilada, but it was covered with so much cheese it was really hard to tell.  I do love cheese, but I gotta say this filled me up and I definitely could not go beyond my initial plate of food.

Luckily the Machine and King Food were there to continue the effort into the night.  I have personally witnessed King Food eat two stuffed Jamaican beef patties and two slices of pizza for lunch without even batting an eye.  Also, I’ve seen the Machine himself easily glided through a meal of Outback Steak house Aussie fries, two pitchers of beer and a bacon cheeseburger.  My math is a bit rusty but those two meals consitute roughtly eighteen million calories apiece.  They both ordered a 2nd plate of chimichangas (pronouned chim-mee-chiang-gaaz) and finished them up with substanstial ease.  An impressive feat by any measure!  Hats off to both of those gentlemen!  They are what makes this city great.  Proof.

Sidecar Burger in Park Slop

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That ISSSSSSS a tasty burger.  Check it!  Ordered and eaten a the Sidecar in Park Slope (560 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215).

I can’t resist bleu cheese on my burgers lately, and this was no exception. This burger was cooked perfectly and the veggies as I’m sure you can tell from the picture were quite fresh.  The only downside are the stringy french fries.  They reminded me of those lame potato sticks you get at the deli.  Booo Sidecar!  Give me a meatier french fry!

Bonus!  They have a nice little garden in the back where one can sit down and enjoy some fresh Brooklyn air and a few cold ones whilst waiting on supper.  Proof!

Sideways and Mondovino

Here is the trailer for the breakout film Sideways and also the documentary Mondovino both of which came out in 2004… Which between these two films was a golden age for wine culture in film.

Just one very famous line from Sideways seemingly ended the popularity merlot had enjoyed throughout 90’s and early 2000’s… Here is an interesting side note: apparently the wine that Miles drinks in the burger joint that he has been saving is in fact a Merlot/Cabernet Franc mix.  Were the film-makers being ironic, or is this merely just a coincidence? 

 

MILES:  “Not much of a collection really. I haven’t had the wallet for that, so I sort of live bottle to bottle.  But I’ve got a couple things I’m saving. I guess the star would be a 1961 Cheval Blanc.”

Mondovino is a wine-industry classic which pits the inherently evil California mega-growers (Robert Mondavi obviously) against some traditional (and apparently very poetic) French vineyard owners.  It’s definitely hard to root for the Americans in this one so far…  But I need to finish watching it tonight, so don’t ruin the ending for me!

Bibimbap

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I love the concept of the bibimbap.  It’s like a mini microwave oven, but way way better.  A Korean dish that usually consists of rice, veggies, sometimes an egg, and possibly seafood, meat or kimchi.  It is fantastic, the bowl is usually heated extremely hot, and retains the heat for a very long time.  You can cook the ingredients your self to your liking, just mixing with chopsticks.  My favorite part is at the very end, when you eat the rice that was at the very bottom, which makes it super crispy and delicious.  Yum.

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I had this bimbimbap and also the dumpling soup above at Gama on 12 St. Marks in Manhattan… A fairly new Korean restaurant on the South side of the street.  I usually go to Koreatown for my bibimbaps, but I’m glad I made an exception this time.  I think the quality of the food at Gama might be of a higher grade than most of the places on 32nd street.   Adding to this point, I happily noticed that they had some good beers on tap (the lychee martinis are excellent too).  Also I must say the staff really goes out of their way with their service.  It’s fairly simple to keep me happy, they offered me some free pancakes and a pitcher of beer…  And I’m a sucker for all of the above.  Proof!

Big Ole’ Bowl of Granole’

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This will get you going in the morning!  A big healthy bowl of granola and fresh fruit from Sunfrost Farms in Woodstock, NY.  Yum.

I surmise this joint started off as just a great produce stand and evolved into a delicious roadside cafe.  Organic and local ingredients are available, also the foliage is remarkable, the outdoor seating is literally inside a flower stand.  A great place to stop and smell the flowers on a gorgeous summer day.

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The corn on the cob looked pretty good too:

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Sunfrost Farms is located at 217 Tinker St, Woodstock, NY 12498

Rachel’s Taqueria in Park Slope

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This is the “Outrageous California Burrito” from Rachael’s in Park Slope.  Boom.  This is what I’m talking about.  A burrito bigger than your head.  I usually finish everything I order, but I could only polish off half of this bad boy.  It was no joke.  My companion said she’s never seen any of her friends even attempt to order it… but I mean its under 10 bucks so why not give it the old college try?

Steak and mushrooms, guacamole, rice and pinto beans… yum.  Splash some hot sauce on it and you are good to go.  Super bonus: Rachel’s offers a 3 dollar beer of the day.  Tonight it was Sixpoint Sweet Action on draft.  Consider Rachel’s a proof positive!