Sunday, May 23, 2010

Turned away at the inn

Trying to find a dinner spot on a Friday night in the Lower East Side of Manhattan takes some navigation and persistence (often followed by desperation.) Our Friday night old faithful was spoiled by a new obnoxious northwest implant/hipster waiter and an unapologetic hostess, and so I spent the better half of Friday morning researching a new drinking hole that had just the right balance of a decent beer and liquor selection, outdoor space, good citysearch reviews and just a dash of seediness. We settled on Stanton Public-- they show movies on the brick wall in their teeny outdoor patio, play good music, have a free condom dispenser by their graffittied bathroom, and provide you with baskets of fresh popcorn as you knock back a few fancy-named beers. And the LES presents a perfect area for the kind of culinary wanderlust that settles in after a few happy hour beers.

We first tried our luck at Pulino's, a new high-end pizza place that's a-buzz in reviews, but the line to find out how long of a wait to be seated was too long of a wait for our grumbling bellies. Then we decided to try our luck at Lupa, one of Mario Batali's restaurants, with the sweetest hostesses who tried their best to accommodate us, but had could only give us a table if we promised to be out in an hour. We then trotted around the corner to Arturo's, another pizza place, the wait there was 30-40 minutes, we put our name in and decided to try our luck at one more spot. Dos Caminos SoHo, and again 45-50 minutes for their pricey margaritas and yummy guacamole. Turned away, and so we turned back to Arturo's where a good 15 minutes had probably passed since we gave them our names. We returned to find the small, angry hostess had already skipped us, but had not yet crossed us off the list. We decided to patiently wait our turn with a Peroni at the bar listening to the live Jazz band. We were shortly seated right at the door to the kitchen and next to the band. I was in love with the band, and the scent of tomato sauce and fresh baked crust floating from the kitchen. Soon our hungry tummies had ordered spaghetti with meatballs and a large fiesta pizza, and we were merry, and giddy and full.

We had shown our resilience through the long lines, grumpy hostesses, rumbling stomachs, and a broken flip flop. And we were well rewarded but good food and a lot of laughs.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

OJ, soda, purple stuff....

My fridge has never been stocked like the average American refrigerator. It was filled with things that would make little blond girls turn up their perfect pointed noses. We were always stocked in liverwurst (my pre-k sandwich of choice, really there's nothing better than creamy calves liver pate smothered on a crispy Portuguese roll -- I was a smart five year old.) Even if I were to have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, smuckers was not something you would come by in my house. Instead we had a full supply of foreign jams Sipak (rose hip jelly), Lekvar (a very this plum jam, and Mjesena ("mixed fruit") which contained apples, plums and sour cherries. These jellies were thick, gritty and a little sour, they were the kind of jelly smuckers would be after it got beat up by some wild strawberries.

We also had jars and jars of all things pickled and preserved, red pepper, onions, tomatoes, pickles, eggplant. The insides of the jars goopy with solidified olive oil, like a science experiment gone terribly awry. There were times when I longed for the fridge in the Sunny d commercials: OJ, soda, purple stuff.... But it was because of this exposure that I wasn't afraid to try new things. I was primed never to be a culinary coward, and to start my day with a little fresh peanut butter and Mjesana on toast each morning.