Friday, May 23, 2008

NYC Day 2 - Bolognese, live music and a side of breast at Chez Josephine

The week in NYC was crazy busy, so I've already returned to Minneapolis, but I still have 6 more days of food stories to share - here's the Saturday edition.

We started the second day thinking it would be a quick couple of hours setting the last brand in J the BF's booth at the Stationary show along with a little clean up here and there and we would spend the rest of the day playing. It ended up being a 7 hour day of merchandising, cleaning, dealing with case storage issues and a host of other unexpected time sucks (no lunch break, BTW). Not the Saturday in the city I had envisioned. I was tired and very grouchy by the time we hiked the 8 long blocks back across town from Javits Center back to our hotel to get ready for dinner. We stopped at a Cafe Metro for a sandwich which stood in for a late lunch, but at 4:30pm, I dare say it didn't count.

We took the subway up to Time Square to meet J's parents for dinner at Chez Josephine. Despite having visited NYC several times, I had somehow avoided Time Square at night. Seeing the human moths drawn to the lights beaming everything commercial, tacky and sickeningly beautiful about American culture into space, I gained a new understanding for why I avoided this area. A quick jaunt through the mess got us to the infamous establishment still run by one of Josephine Baker's adopted sons, Jean-Claude, who greeted us warmly upon entry and exit (with a firm squeeze of the shoulder - you gotta love the French).

This was a unique New York experience. We were seated at the rear of the main dining room next to the piano where two elderly black women (each was at least 80 years old) were playing old jazz standards. One stood at the piano and occasionally did vocals while the other didn't miss a beat on the trombone. It was very impressive. The performers were refreshed through the evening as we enjoyed an array of "American" favorites from the menu mixed with French inspired dishes. J's mom went for the Lobster Cassoulet which was divine. J tried "Elvira's Down Home Fried Chicken" which was not earth shattering, but very good in its own right. I went for the spaghetti bolognese (billed as Josephine's favorite on the menu) which was not exceptional, but extremely comforting and led me to finish every morsel on the plate.

While trying to stay focused on the conversation with J's parents, and enjoying an incredible Australian Pinot Noir Rose from Green Point, I was continuously distracted by the nude portrait of Josephine Baker hanging over J's mother's head. I kept thinking of what it would be like to work nightly in a space with a nude of my mom hanging in the dining room of my place of business. I was taught about the "exotic" intrigue the Josephine had generated as an American exile in Europe, but spending just one meal in her restaurant gave me a new appreciation for just how revolutionary Baker was for her time. As for the food, it was definitely worth a re-visit given the unique character of the experience of eating in her restaurant.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

NYC Day 1 - Boom and fizzle

Day 1 in NYC involved waiting in an hour-long line for a taxi at LaGuardia, walking 7 long blocks in the rain (have you ever tried to get a taxi in NYC when it's raining) carrying a 50 lb bag full of notebooks and other assorted stationary products, and then 3 and half hours unloading boxes of product and setting up J's booth for the show. I was ready for some good food as the fried chicken cutlet sandwich I picked up from a food stand in the Javits Convention Center just didn't cut it.

I've been to Boom in Soho a couple of times and enjoyed it's relaxed approach to modern Italian. We were joined by J's parentals (also known as the legal counsel and the evil investors in his company). After I enjoyed a deliciously sweet and fruity white sangria, they were more than eager to join me in sharing a bottle of Libernio (I may have mucked the spelling) which was a blend of Malbec, Cab and Sangiovese. Deliciously lush with a touch of smoke and a smooth palate.

I also had the bruschetta with grilled shrimp and avocado which are perfect little morsels - do not miss these. The rest of my meal was unfortunately disappointing compared to my prior visits. I had some of the mussels done in a tasty tomato broth. The shellfish was just a bit off and a couple of the mussels were a bit over-ripe for my taste. For my entree, I tried their "Filete" which was a fillet of beef in a madeira style sauce with potatoes and greens. The sides were good enough, but the beef itself was way too fatty and grisly. J the BF and his Step-dad both had the lobster ravioli which was just as good as I remembered. I guess I can afford to be boring and order my old favorites when coming back to a desired restaurant in a distant city again.

Friday, May 16, 2008

7 days in NYC

I am in New York for the next 7 days on a "working vacation". I will be working the National Stationary Show for J the BF's company by day and eating well by night. I am hitting some old faves and trying a few new joints. Walking the streets of Manhattan makes me really hungry so my lose that gut effort will have to wait until I get back.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Yet another social network for foodies -

I've picked up on yet another new social networking site for foodies that is running in beta (Grouprecipes, another social food site I use has been in beta for well over a year). Foodbuzz bills itself as a user driven site that is built to provide highly relevant content to its community members through their search engine. They combine recipes, blogs, user profiles, videos and restaurant reviews with geographical context (I can filter info down to my neighborhood in Minneapolis) and relevancy/popularity attributes based on the consumption of the content. The goal is to push the most relevant content to the top based on user consumption and needs. Sounds heady and a good idea in principle.

The interface is a bit counter-intuitive to my taste, but I'm going to keep playing with it. Some of the videos and blog posts look pretty good and hopefully, I can start finding some other food-enthusiasts nearby to help me break out of my restaurant rut.