Jason’s Rooftop

Jason's Rooftop

One of my favorite views of the New York City skyline just happens to be from my friend’s rooftop in Hell’s Kitchen. He’s moving in a few weeks and since I was already in NYC we made a day of it and visited some of the old haunts.

Hallo Berlin
Pony Bar
West Side Steakhouse
Perdition

A fun evening and one last view from an amazing spot. Cheers!

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Sievers and the City

New York City in the Spring is a wonderful thing.  The first flowers are blooming, the first leaves are starting to appear, and everyone seems to have a spring in their step as they walk down the street.  We were lucky enough to experience a few of these amazing springtime days with our friends from Colorado.

The trip turned out to be an epicurean feast and we hit the following restaurants and bars:

Q2 Thai – A great little Thai restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen.
Basilica – A tiny Italian restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen.
Valhalla – My favorite beer bar in the city!
Hummus Kitchen – Hell’s Kitchen Israeli restaurant.
Sushi of Gari 46 – Our favorite sushi restaurant.
La Sirene – An amazing BYOB French restaurant in SoHo.
McSorley’s Ale House – The city’s oldest bar.
Caracas Arepa Bar – An awesome Venezuelan restaurant in the East Village.
And of course, don’t forget a delicious Halal Cart meal on the day of their departure!

We also hit various places around the city such as Wall Street, Battery Park, 5th Avenue, Central Park, Times Square, and more!  While the girls were out shopping at H&M and Zara, we were riding bicycles around the full loop in Central Park.  It was simply a beautiful day to be outside and moving.

Another highlight of the trip was when we all went to see West Side Story on Broadway.

Here are some photo highlights:

The Dudes @ Valhalla:

The Ladies:

The Happy Couple in Times Square:

All of us in Times Square:

West Side Story:

And finally… the morning wake up call at our house is when the dog comes in and starts licking your head:

Valhalla NYC, Now Serving Food!

It’s been in the works for months, but as of this past Monday Valhalla is now serving food.  While I am sad that we can no longer bring in our own snacks, or a Sacco’s pizza, the obvious benefit is having everything under one roof.

The Offerings:

Bratwurst –  They have a spicy cheddar, pork, and chicken brat available by itself, or with a “platter” of sauerkraut, red cabbage, gherkin, and german potato salad.  We tried the Valhalla Bratwurst Platter (the spicy cheddar wurst) which is mildly spicy, with hot bubbling cheese and a fantastic texture.  I loved the snap of the casing!  The bratwurst was hidden inside of a roll (see photo below), which turned out to just be way too much bread.  Once I removed half the bread it was perfect.  Also, the side dishes in the platter were all well done.  The standouts are the potato salad and gherkin, which both take me back to Germany.  All for $10.

Pretzels –  Not your typical street corner pretzel, but the Bavarian style served with some spicy mustard.  They are served warm, moderately covered in salt, and had a nice outer part with a wonderfully chewy center.  $3, or 2 for $5.

Dried Sausage – Served in a compressed “stick” style with spicy mustard.  This was awesome.  It reminded me of a BiFi that I would get at gas stations in Germany, but it was even better.  Probably because it was much fresher!  $3, or 2 for $5.

Gherkin – German pickles  $1

With this bounty I was drinking 500mL glasses of Bitburger.  Fitting, eh?

The photo.  I apologize for its lack of clarity, but it was taken with my iPhone in a low-light setting:

“A Behanding in Spokane” – A New Play by Martin McDonagh

We are big fans of Mr. McDonagh’s work, so when I got an email a few weeks back offering discount tickets to his recently opened play, A Behanding in Spokane, we had to go.  The only thing I knew about the play going in was that it was a dark comedy; as if it could be anything else.  Having seen both The Pillowman and The Lieutenant of Inishmore in person, I had a good idea of how “dark” of a play it may really be.

The play was being performed at the Schoenfeld Theatre, a rather intimate venue, on W. 45th Street between 8th Avenue and Broadway.  We had decent aisle seats about 15 rows from the stage, but I don’ t think there would have been a bad seat in the house.  The play revolved around a man who was searching for his missing hand (forcefully removed from his body when he was a boy), a hotel “receptionist”, and two misguided pot dealers.  In the typical McDonagh fashion, the dialogue is what made the play.  Interestingly enough, I didn’t find it nearly as dark as his previous works, and not quite as funny as The Lieutenant of Inishmore.  With that said, Christopher Walken was a perfect casting choice for Carmichael, the man in search of his missing hand.  He was creepy, in the way that Christopher Walken can only be, yet damn funny.  I think the star of the show however was Anthony Mackie, who had some incredibly fast paced lines that were truly hilarious and well acted.  Sam Rockwell’s monologue was another one of my favorite parts of the show as well.  All in all, this was a very entertaining show and I am so glad we got to see it within the first few weeks of its opening.  Was it McDonagh’s masterpiece?  No.  But if he continues to produce works of this caliber for the rest of his life, I will be a happy (and entertained) old man.

Door to Door Organics Delivery – 03/02/10

This week’s delivery included the following:

5 – Grapefruit
6 – Navel Oranges
1 – Bunch Spinach
1 – Butternut Squash
6 – Bosc Pears
6 – Braeburn Apples
2 lbs Bananas
1 lb Carrots
1 – Bunch Red Kale
2 lbs Yellow Onions
3 – Roma Tomatoes
1 – Head Green Leaf Lettuce
5 – Avocados
1 – Celery

Since we are headed to the Poconos for the weekend we are going to have to take a bunch of this stuff with us.  We’ll see what we end up cooking!

Myers of Keswick – Cornish Pasty and Pork Pie / Chelsea Fish Market – Red Snapper

After two days of constant snow and nearly 2 feet of accumulation, we were getting cabin fever.  The cure for cabin fever?  Go exploring in a different neighborhood in search of food.  In the West Village, just south of Chelsea, is a lovely little British shop called Myers of Keswick.  We have wanted to go there for some time, and it seemed like the perfect day to do so.  Plus, Brie has wanted to make Flapjacks for me (the British version, not the “pancakes” often referred to here in the U.S.) and we needed some Golden Syrup.  M.o.K is a tiny shop, but their shelves are packed with canned goods, teas, sauces, and snacks to the ceiling.  On the other side of the shop is a refrigerator case where they offer a wide variety of homemade meat pies and fresh sausage.  I couldn’t resist.  We purchased one Cornish Pasty and one Pork Pie in addition to Lyle’s Golden Syrup and a few snacks (bacon flavored crisps!).

On the way back to the subway we decided to swing into the Chelsea Market to see if anything looked good for dinner.  I made a beeline to The Lobster Place and tried to decide what to make that evening.  There are so many different types of fish and seafood available at this market that it can be overwhelming.  Luckily, a beautiful red snapper got my attention and I had the fish monger (I love saying that)  remove the fins and gills.  It weighed in just under 2.5 pounds and was incredibly fresh.  I also grabbed a dozen cocktail shrimp and some fresh cocktail sauce for dipping.

Once we got home I got to cooking, like a good husband.  I wrapped the whole fish in foil and roasted it with garlic, thyme, lemon, and butter.  With the snapper we had roasted carrots with an aged balsamic glaze, and pan-fried cauliflower with curry.  And of course, don’t forget the wine!  We enjoyed a bottle of Granger 2007 “Le Bouteau” Beaujolais Village (I know, red wine with fish, but this went really well with it!!).

The next day (today) we had our Cornish Pasty and Pork Pie.  The Cornish Pasty was filled with ground beef, potatoes, peas, and onions.  It was very similar to a hash or meatloaf, but wrapped in a delightfully flaky crust.  The Pork Pie was filled with, as you might have guessed, pork.  The crust was very buttery and made a perfect home for the meat.  I can’t wait to go back and try their other pies!

The photos:

The Beers of the Day: Valhalla NYC – De Koninck, Belhaven, Kwak

It was a dark and stormy night.  No wait.  Really, it was.

So there I was in the greatest of NYC beer bars (Valhalla) with my lovely wife talking about the happenings of the day.  It was the first time it had rained in quite some time and it was coming down like mad.  The craziest thing is that the clouds were so low that the huge “GE” sign on top of the Rockefeller building would disappear completely for minutes at a time.  It was the perfect type of night to be inside a warm pub drinking some quality beer.
Speaking of which, on a recent trip I was drinking Hofbrau from a huge 1 liter stein, but this evening’s trip was all about sampling, and less about getting hammered and wearing a viking helmet (there are photos somewhere out there).  These were the lovely draught beers I tried:

De Koninck – A Belgian beer that is very smooth, a bit malty, and not overly carbonated.

Belhaven Wee Heavy – A crazy Scottish beer that was creamy with a nice dark roasted flavor and a touch of sweetness.

Kwak – One of my favorite Belgian beers served in what can best be described as lab equipment.  I love this beer!

Door to Door Organics Delivery – 02/16/10 – Curry Parsnip and Carrot Soup

This week’s delivery included:

1 – Leek
2 – Cucumbers
6 – Valencia Oranges
6 – Braeburn Apples
1 lb Bananas
1 – Broccoli
6 – Bosc Pears
1 – Bunch Spinach
3 – Avocados
2 – Mangos
2 lbs Yellow Onions
1 lb Carrots
1 – Head of Red-Lead Lettuce (not shown since Brie had already shredded it for salad)

I used the parsnips from last week with the carrots and leek from this week to create a delicious winter soup.  My recipe:

Curried Parsnip and Carrot Soup
1 lb Parsnips, peeled, roughly chopped
1 lb Carrots, peeled, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 leek, rinsed, white part only, roughly chopped
2 tsp curry powder
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
3 cups chicken broth
2 Tbsp olive/vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 450F.  Toss vegetables in oil.  Place vegetables and garlic in oven-safe pan and roast at 450F, stirring/rotating vegetables every 10 minutes, until lightly browned and soft.  Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes.  Place vegetables, spices, salt, and broth in a blender and blend until smooth.  Pour into pan and bring to simmer over LOW heat.  Once heated through, place in preheated bowls and serve immediately with a dollop of sour cream/yoghurt and some parsley flakes.

New York City – President’s Day Weekend with Friends

The President’s Day three-day weekend is a much-needed reprieve in the middle of February.  My friends, Ian and Mike, came out to NYC for a few days to blow off some steam and enjoy the offerings of the city.  As always, by the time they left I thought my liver was going to explode and my lack of sleep was catching up with me.  Here are the highlights:

Thursday:

Friday:

Saturday:

  • A walking exploration of Chinatown.
  • Had some tea at Mr. Tea, a small little tea and snack shop on a side street in Chinatown.
  • Basilica – a great little Italian place in Hell’s Kitchen.  I had the squid ink pasta with shrimp and a side of garlic toast.  Brie and I split a bottle of Montepulciano.

Sunday:

  • Coney Island The classic getaway for New Yorker’s.  Everything from the boardwalk and the beach to Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs and the Cyclone.
  • NYC Aquarium A decent aquarium, but I would have expected more for a city such as NYC.
  • Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs.  There’s something awesome about a classic hot dog that snaps when you bite into it.  NOTE: Try and not pay attention to the calorie postings.
  • A return trip to Valhalla with some Sacco Pizza.  The beauty of this bar (in addition to the beer selection) is the fact you can bring in your own food.

Monday:

  • Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met)
  • Halal Cart – Street vendors that sell things such as Falafel and Gyro sandwiches.  Our delicious Gyro sandwiches (half lamb, half chicken) were smothered in white sauce and hot sauce.

In addition to the major events listed above, we watched the opening ceremony for the Vancouver Winter Olympics and played drinking games while watching Three Sheets.  As always, it was a great time and we made the most out of the short time and bad weather.  Until next time!

I am also including some of the pieces that struck a chord with me while at the MoMA and Met.

Monet, Hopper, Warhol, Braque, Picasso, Miro, Klee


Southern Indian Food – Saravana Bhavan

Until yesterday I had always assumed “Indian Food” is similar no matter where you dine.  It makes sense that a country as large as India has different types of cuisine in different areas of the country.  Without going into too much detail, let’s split India into a Northern and Southern region.  This “Northern” food is what I have always experienced when eating Indian cuisine in the United States; think Naan, Chicken Tikka Masala, and meat cooked in a Tandoor.

A coworker of mine is in NYC for a trade show and asked if we would be interested in eating at this place called Saravana Bhavan.  I never turn down a chance to try new food, and three of us headed that way immediately.  On our cab ride down there (Murray Hill neighborhood, lovingly called “Curry Hill”), my friend mentioned that this restaurant exists in his home town of Chennai, India (with locations around the globe) and has missed it terribly.  He also warned that it is completely different from the northern cuisine typically available.

We tried Dosas (a thin crêpe) filled with onion and spiced potatoes that is served with three different chutneys; coconut, mint, and tomato.  There was also the amazing bowl of Idly smothered in Sambar (probably my favorite dish I tried) that had a lovely spice that creeps up on you.  At this point I was rather full, but my friend insisted we try the desserts and have a coffee.  The coffee was fantastic and the cardamom and saffron spiced dessert, called Rava Kesari, was out of this world.

Everything I tried was delicious and I am thrilled that I have experienced the magic that is southern Indian food.

I may have to go back tomorrow…