Monday, July 26, 2010

North Korean

New Zealand, Slovakia, Cote d'Ivoire, Portugal, Brazil, North Korea.

Those were my choices for a World Cup lunch on Tuesday, June 15th. Not an easy bunch to choose from. New Zealand, the only place I knew about was Nelson Blue at the seaport downtown. Slovakia, we had already done by going to the beer garden, and I didn't know a place near work anyway. The only Ivory Coast spot I knew of was in East Harlem. Nothing Portuguese near the office (that I know of). I work near Little Brazil -- but none of those places really have take-out (that I know of). And North Korean, the New York Times even wrote an article about how they have no restaurants, no fans and nowhere for anyone to go to support them in their World Cup run. (Can't find the link right now.)

We decided for our World Cup challenge, since it was definitively stated in the article that there were no North Korean places to eat in the entire city, that to fulfill the "requirements" we would just go for Korean food twice and consider it done. I'm not sure of the difference between North and South Korean food, but since there isn't anywhere to go to figure it out, it was the best solution we could come up with.

So, for my World Cup lunch, Korean seemed like the best option. I headed over to Pro Korean (I'm not actually sure if it's Pro Korean or Pro Hot Korean), which is my go-to Korean place since I can't always walk to K-Town. They have pre-made boxes, which is what I usually get, but I thought it would be a nice time to finally try their bibimbap.

Bibimbap is one of my favorite Korean dishes. Rice, vegetables, meat and sauce. When we're at a sit-down restaurant, we love getting it in the hot stone bowl. They had a version of the hot stone bowl for take-out at Pro Korean, but I figured since it was the first time I was ordering bibimbap here, maybe I would save the hot stone bowl for next time. The bibimbap also came with a miso soup on the side for free.

All mixed together, with a little bit of sauce, the bibimbap was the perfect lunch (and quite filling). Although Pro Korean's not that close to the office either, a nice walk in nice weather for good food is fine with me. One Korean World Cup visit done (for me)!

Pro Korean is located on West 56th Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Japanese or Italian?

During the days of World Cup group play (and whenever else I could), I tried to eat lunch for a country playing that day. Way back on June 14, the only real options for lunch were Japanese or Italian. (Nothing Dutch, Danish, Cameroonian or Paraguayan around.) I decided on Japanese food and headed over to Chiyoda.

I couldn't decide which donburi I wanted and eventually decided on the chicken don. First time getting this at Chiyoda and I'm not sure I will again (unless I have access to a microwave). The chicken was good and well-flavored, but the rice was kind of hard. I think the rice in the donburi at Zaiya is much better -- much softer.

I've mentioned the side order refrigerated case at Chiyoda before. This time, they had kaminari tofu, a combination of tofu squares with vegetables. I really like this side but they don't always have it. It tastes light and healthy, and is full of good nutritious stuff.

This lunch helped me check off two things in the World Cup challenge - a Japanese meal and a Japanese meal on the day of a Japanese game (they won, by the way). And it was a much easier choice than the next day would be!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi

Sunday, June 13th, Australia played its first match of the World Cup against a strong Germany team. It was not pretty. We didn't get to watch, but we certainly heard/read about the massacre on the field. 4-0 Germany, the first major blowout of the tournament, the game that marked Germany as one of the teams to beat. How do you celebrate such an amazing defeat? Go to an Australian restaurant of course! Off to The Sunburnt Calf to partake in some good old Aussie goodness.

The Sunburnt Calf has a "counter meal" which is $25 for an appetizer, entree and dessert

Right off the bat, we walked in behind a couple consisting of a German male and a Brazilian female. The owner of the restaurant jokingly kicked the German fan out before seating them at the bar per their request. For our dinner, we asked to be seated in the back. Initial impression, that place is dark. Not a lot of lights, but with the large windows in the ceiling, we imagined that it was quite nice in the daylight.

Neither of us had any real experience with Australian food in New York (Outback doesn't count) so we really didn't know what to expect. A was looking to try some Australian beers because he loves trying foreign beers, especially from the countries they've been eating. Sadly, with the game earlier, all of their Coopers drafts were empty. A had to settle for a bottle of Coopers Pale Ale.

M ordered the Calamari Oz Style, and A started with their Shrimp on the Barbie. The kiwi and jalapenos added an interesting flavor to the calamari, but in the end, the calamari was still calamari. The shrimp was interesting. Good flavor, good spices, and it was more refreshing than the pictures appear.

Calamari on the left, shrimp on the right

For entrees M got the Barramundi, and A got the Steak and Fries, medium rare. The fish was flaky and flavorful. The accompanying salad was light and refreshing, and it also added a "freshness" to the dish. The steak was cooked well, and the fries were crisped perfectly on the outside. The sauce really made the steak and had a mild sweetness to it. Not the best steak A had ever had, but again, the sauce made it very enjoyable. The steak came with a side of broccoli with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top as well. Out of everything that came so far, M liked the fries the best.

Barramundi on the left, steak and broccoli on the right

For dessert, M got the Peach Melba, and A got the sundae. It was agreed between the two of us that the Peach Melba was the tastier of the two, but both were ice cream based treats to end up the meal. The grilled peach was very tasty, and A did his best to steal as much as he could, but he couldn't steal too much. The sundae was, well, a sundae. Yes it had kiwi and macadamia nuts, but it was still, in the grand scheme of things, just a sundae.

Peach melba on the left, sundae on the right

Generally, we thought the meal was OK. The food was good but nothing so special that we wanted to run back the next day. (In contrast, if a Burmese place were to open with food as good as the food festivals, we would be lining up the next day waiting for it to open.) Maybe next time we'll try different dishes.

The Sunburnt Calf is located on West 79th Street between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway.

Uncle Sammie

Meet Uncle Sammie.

The popular lunch spot Certe has special sandwiches each month and this month's special is the Uncle Sammie. It's pulled bbq chicken with corn, green beans and a bacon-potato puree on a roll. It's perfect for summer - light but flavorful and filling. It would be great for a picnic or a bbq. And somehow, despite the fact that I had to walk 15-20 minutes to get it back to my desk, it was not soggy and did not fall apart, but was also not dry. I don't know how they do it.

The sandwich also came with a little container of cole slaw, adding to the picnic/bbq feel of the lunch. I always intend to head to Certe to try the monthly special sandwich but usually miss it. This month, when I heard what was in the sandwich, I knew I had to try it. I'm really glad I got there today before the sandwich changes in August!

Certe is located on West 55th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues. The front is for take-out but they have a restaurant in the back with waiter service. They also have really good catering, which I can vouch for since we have gotten it at work.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wedding Soup

What's your favorite soup?

I'm home from work today because I'm not feeling very well, and made some soup for lunch. Canned soup, but a good canned soup:

I don't remember the first time I had Italian wedding soup, but this has become one of my favorite canned soups. It's not too salty, it has lots of good grains and vegetables, the meatballs are tasty, and it's very low in calories (even if you eat the whole can).

But it's not just the canned Select Harvest soup. Along with some other soups, wedding soup has become a comfort food for me. Soup is so good in winter when it's below freezing outside. It's good for a meal after having stomach issues. And it's my go-to food when I need to calm my stomach after motion sickness (like this one from Cibo at JFK after a stomach-flipping car race to the airport).

At work, there's only one place (Hale and Hearty Soups) where I can usually find wedding soup, and even then, it's part of a rotation of soups so I can't always get it every day. I first got it from H&H in January because I just had to have it one day, and they were the only option I could find. Previously I had avoided H&H for two main reasons: (1) they're expensive (that hasn't changed) and (2) I had a really bad experience awhile ago (I think in college). That time, I only had a credit card, ordered soup, didn't realize they had a minimum charge price until I got to the register, tried to explain that I had absolutely no cash, and was rudely dismissed as if I wasn't worth their time. It left a bad impression on me. Luckily it seems like things have changed, so I have gotten wedding soup quite a few times there now (and other soups too), both on its own with oyster crackers or as part of a soup-sandwich combo.

We try to keep at least a few cans of wedding soup in the pantry for days when we need or crave soup, and hopefully Costco will keep carrying cases of it so we can continue to buy it in bulk. I have other soups that I also love (chili, split pea, wun tun mein, etc.), but I think wedding soup is the perfect healthy soup!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Common Lunches

I love working in the West 30s because the area is so full of amazing food options for lunch. It's actually kind of sad that I often end up going to the deli that's downstairs in my building due to time, but I have to count myself lucky since it's actually one of the better delis that I've ever eaten in.

If you've ever walked up 8th Ave between Madison Square Garden and Times Square, you've probably walked by Village 38 and not known it. Is it flashy and fancy? Of course not, it's a NYC deli. What it offers is an amazing hot/cold bar, great deli sandwiches, and an ever changing array of options. Their soups are what keep me going in winter. Very hearty, very filling, and extremely flavorful. I fell in love with the Indian Curry Yellow Split Pea soup the first time I had it, and I try to get it every time it's cold and it's there. The first thing I ever got there was their Village Special #5 Sandwich. It's grilled chicken, mozzarella, lettuce, tomato, and honey mustard on a hero. I ended up switching out the mozzarella with pepper jack because I like a little zing. It's been my go-to sandwich ever since. The nice thing is that since it's a "special" it comes with a can of soda too.

Lately I've been filling myself up on their hot/cold bar. It's not the cheapest option but it's such good food. It's Korean-owned, and they make amazing jap chae. Their boneless chicken with onions in a soy glaze is divine. And if you're lucky enough to hit the days when they have their Italian Eggplant Pie count yourself lucky. I've never actually seen any tomatoes in it, but it literally tastes like a non-fried eggplant parmigiana smothered in tomato sauce. One simply awesome dish.

While I don't like grabbing a quick lunch because it means I'm most likely eating at my desk, at least I have a really really good deli option to waste all of my money on.


After the exciting USA-England game, it was time to figure out what to do for dinner. We had an unlimited Metrocard for the day so we definitely wanted to go somewhere not in walking distance. After some research, we decided to try Serbian food for our next World Cup meal. Neither of us had ever had Serbian food before, and the team was playing the next day. Perfect!

The obvious choice appeared to be Kafana in the East Village. They were open late (and we were having a late dinner after the feasting at the beer garden) and people really seemed to enjoy their experiences there.

As we approached the restaurant, we noticed a huge crowd outside. The place looked packed. We had some back-up options, but really wanted to try something different and new. Luckily the wait wasn't very long (just to clear and set up new tables) and most of the crowd was just leaving the restaurant.

The meal started with complimentary bread which came with a red pepper spread:

We ordered an appetizer, which was a special for the day. It was corn on the cob with a creamy cheese spread:

The spread was delicious, and who could go wrong with corn on the cob? None of the extra spread went to waste, since we had leftover bread after finishing the red pepper spread. Really, really good dish.

Then it was time for our main courses.

A got a lamb and spinach stew called jagnjeca kapama. The hearty stew had a mild but well-seasoned flavor, and the lamb wasn't very gamey. A thought it was very good, especially with the bread -- of which we unfortunately ate too much!

M got something called prebranac sa seljackom kobasicom. It was traditional baked beans with peasant sausage. M's eyes lit up when they brought it over because the "baked beans" (which she had pictured as baked beans like those you eat with hot dogs) were instead the giant white beans that she loves from various Mediterranean restaurants. This dish is like comfort food. It makes you feel warm and cozy inside, and the flavors were excellent.

Although everything was good, our 2 favorites were probably the corn special and the peasant sausage with baked beans, with a slight edge to the sausage and beans. We kept eyeing all the food arriving on the other tables because we would love to go back to Kafana to try more dishes. So much of it looked good!

Have you ever had Serbian food? Any recommendations?

Kafana is located in the East Village on Avenue C between East 7th and 8th Streets. It's open late on Fridays and Saturdays (1 am). Cash only.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


The day finally came for any US World Cup fan. USA-England to open up group play. For this momentous occasion, a simple restaurant or bar would never do. Luckily, one of A's coworkers had organized a get-together in Astoria.

Off we went to Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden to cheer on team USA, eat bad-for-you food, and drink copious amounts of beer.

Immediately when we arrived, we searched out our friends, staked our claim on the table they had acquired, and went off to grab some beers. M started with a glass/cup of Pilsner Urquell while A grabbed a pitcher of "Slovakia's finest" Golden Pheasant to "share". A had hoped to write more about each beer, but sadly it has been too long.

Eventually we ordered food. The menu had lots of choices, and we had a hard time figuring out what it was we really wanted to eat.

We were quite excited that, in our World Cup challenge, this could cover USA and Slovakia! (Although we weren't really that concerned about the USA part of the challenge...)

We decided on fries and onion rings (USA!) and klobasa and bratwurst (Slovakia!). Armed with this choice, A marched off to the grill to place the order. A knew that there was still a fair amount of time before the game was to start, but the line was very long, and it wasn't moving very quickly. Luckily enough A returned with the food right before the game started so he didn't have to miss a second of the action.

The food itself was nothing special: fries were fries, onion rings were thick and crispy, and the sausages were good but nothing really special... but hey, it satisfied two countries.

We don't think a recap of the game is necessary. If you didn't watch it then, you probably don't care about it now. During the game, though, a call was made (twice) for $10 pitchers. Regular price is only $15, but discounts are discounts. A was designated as the runner for the group, and he quickly made it up, throwing elbows, and generally using his size advantage. He considered diving to get ahead, but there were no refs present. In the end, an employee tapped him on the shoulder and informed him he was the last customer for the $10 pitchers. Success!

We really wish we could remember what two beers A was able to procure. One was a blond ale that M really liked and was hoping to get outside of the beer garden. The other was darker, but still light and crisp. The menu is sadly of no use as those two were not listed, and they seemed like either specials for that day or only available on the satellite taps.

It was a great afternoon - gorgeous weather, fun with friends and World Cup excitement. What a great kickoff (no pun intended) to a month of soccer!

World Cup Tally

The World Cup is over! So, how did we do in our World Cup challenge?

Out of 32 countries, we visited:

Korea (once for each country)
New Zealand
South Africa
United States

We made it to 17, more than half. Success!

The rest of the recaps to come!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

It's Here

Shack Shack Midtown (Times Square, Theatre District, take your pick on the name) is finally open! The official opening is Monday morning, but the soft opening is this weekend. We heard it might be soft opening and were there within the hour.

A full post to come later. For now, just spreading the word (and the joy) that Shake Shack is open!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Fette Sau

So I know I haven't been blogging nearly as much as M, but I haven't had as much to talk about. We're in the midst of compiling our World Cup eating tour, but for now I get to talk tonight about my trip with my coworkers to Fette Sau in Brooklyn tonight.

So the heat here in NYC finally broke a bit, and we dropped below 100 degrees. Luckily this was the night my coworkers and I had scheduled a BBQ outing to Fette Sau in Brooklyn. 7 of us made the trip out to Williamsburg and stuffed our faces and drank several gallons of beer in an awesome explosion of meat.

1 pound each of the Beef Brisket, Boneless Beef Ribs, Berkshire Pork Belly, and Berkshire St. Louis Style Pork Ribs. We also got one Berkshire Pork Sausage each and 1.25 pounds of Hand Pulled Berkshire Pork Shoulder. The beer consisted of 1 gallon of Brooklyn IPA, 2 gallons of Sixpoint Righteous Rye, and 1 gallon of some beer that one of my coworkers bought. Then after all of that, 4 of us each got another 1/4 pound of Boneless Beef Rib. Add in the 2 orders of German Potato Salad, 2 orders of Baked Beans with Burnt Ends, and the 1 order of Half Sour Pickles, and we probably ate more than we should have.

Seriously, the 7 of us feasted amazingly, drank amazingly, and shared tons of laughs. Would I do it again? Probably not to the same extent, but yes, I would definitely eat at this beauty of BBQ again. I wish I could describe here just how amazing this BBQ is, but there are no words that can describe it. This is definitely the best BBQ I've had here in NYC.

View from my seat: Potato Salad, beer, my plate, and our tray of feasting

Remainders of our feasting tray after our first attack

My first plate: Berkshire Pork Sausage, Berkshire Pork Belly, Boneless Beef Ribs, and Beef Brisket

Japanese Food Crawl

I had no idea what to do for lunch today. But here's a picture of what I ended up getting for lunch:

No, you're not seeing things. I got lunch from two different places: Cafe Zaiya and Chiyoda Sushi.

After a walk around midtown, I started off at Cafe Zaiya. The vegetarian bento box intrigued me, but I ultimately decided on the "mahbo donburi" (ma po tofu over rice), which I get often from Zaiya:

I planned to pick up a vegetable side order in the cold case on the way to the registers, but they only had a few and none caught my eye. They had plenty of desserts but I was trying to be good.

So, what to do when you want a vegetable side but there's nothing at Zaiya? Go a few doors down to Chiyoda!

Chiyoda has lots of sides, and I often get the one above. I was hoping they would have the new special that I got last time (shimmered eggplant and tofu) but they didn't have it. I thought about ground chicken with pumpkin, but it was more starchy than I was hoping for. Calamari salad wasn't really vegetables, potato salad (as much as I love it) was ruled out for its potatoness, and I just wasn't in the mood for the hijiki or seaweed salad. Kimpira gobo it was!

I always thought about putting together a piecemeal lunch but just never did it. First time for everything!

Cafe Zaiya and Chiyoda Sushi are both located on 41st Street between 5th Avenue and Madison Avenue (the block that dead ends at the library). I prefer Zaiya for the donburi, sandwiches and of course, bakery items. I prefer Chiyoda for their sushi and soup.

* I suppose this could be considered a "World Cup" meal since Japan was in the World Cup, but as you will see from future posts, I have had a lot of Japanese food to meet that "requirement." And Japan has been out of the World Cup for awhile, so I didn't get this as part of the World Cup quest.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Menina Mash

On the second day of the World Cup, I wanted to get up early to watch South Korea and Greece play, but 7:30 am was a little too early to get up, even for something that only comes around every 4 years.

I decided to get my third World Cup "meal" as a snack on the way to the beer garden to watch the USA-England game (more on that in a later post). We don't live far from Poseidon Bakery, the Hell's Kitchen institution that sells awesome pies. One needs lunch, or at the very least a snack, before going to a beer garden, right?

A sampling of some of Poseidon's pies

The Menina Mash pie is one of my favorites (and the first one I ever tried). It's full of flavor and full of healthy vegetables. The outside of the pie is always perfectly flaky and the pies are stuffed full. I have on occasion walked all the way here from work to get pies for lunch, and even though we live nearby and can go anytime, we always get a pie during the 9th Avenue food fair. They're really good. And the people there are so nice. Sometimes they have free samples (I had a dessert one once).

Blurry Menina Mash pie (we were walking!)

Even though it's 1:30 am and I need to sleep (and am too full of tabouli to be hungry), now I want a Menina Mash pie. If it's any cooler tomorrow (unlike the past few days hitting the century mark), maybe I'll get one for lunch. Yum.

Poseidon Bakery is located in Hell's Kitchen on 9th Avenue between 44th and 45th Streets. They're not open late.

* For those keeping track of the World Cup tally, together we've gone to 1 (South Africa) and I've made it to 3 (Mexico, South Africa, Greece).

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Jumping back to the opening day of the World Cup...

Our first World Cup meal together was dinner on opening day, and we decided to try South African cuisine for the first time. We went to the South African restaurant in our neighborhood, Braai. A had been to their sister wine bar, Xai Xai, before, but only for drinks. We were excited to try it, especially to sample the flavors - which are a mix between indigenous cultures and influences from Portugal, France, Germany, Holland, India and Malaysia, among others, and dinner did not disappoint!

When we got there, the restaurant was packed and noisy, and there were a lot of large groups. People had clearly been partying all day for the World Cup and were ready to kick off the weekend. We started with some drinks. There was a giant jar of sangria on the bar, so M started with that, while A went for a pinot noir. The sangria was nice and refreshing. A had the pinot noir when he went to Xai Xai and remembered it being good.

The meal started with an amuse - a mini samosa. It was the perfect bite-size snack. We hadn't ordered the samosas (even though we wanted to try them) so we were happy we got to try it!

We shared two appetizers: the Braai salad ("Die Braai Slaai") and the chicken sosatie. We wanted to try the sliders, but they were out of everything other than lamb, and by the end of our dinner, they had even run out of lamb! Next time.

Clockwise from top left: mini samosa, Braai salad, sambals, chicken sosatie

The Braai salad was composed of "seasonal oranges, goat cheese and roasted garlic over rocket salad complimented by a rooibos herb dressing" (according to the menu). It was light and the dressing was an interesting flavor that we had never had before. Although good, we might not get this again next time, but that's mostly because the sosatie was delicious and we want to try more of those.

Sosaties are skewers. The chicken sosatie was "dukkah crusted chicken with pineapple in an Indian curry yogurt." The chicken also came with sambals (fruit chutney, mint jelly, banana-coconut, cucumber-yogurt dill, mango-coriander salsa). This might have been M's favorite thing all night. It was full of complex flavors and we wanted more!

For the main courses, M got the "prawns peri-peri", which according to the menu were "grilled Mozambican prawns marinated in a peri-peri sauce and served with basmati-saffron rice." A got one of the specials (so we don't have a detailed description) but it was rack of lamb with spinach and pap.

Prawns on the left, lamb on the right

The server told M that the prawns were going to be very spicy, but M found them to be more flavorful than spicy. She also hadn't heard the server when he said they came with the shells on, so the dish turned out to be messier than planned, but it was still very good. M would probably get something else next time, since there are so many options on the menu (like the chicken bobotie, which the table next to us got, and which looked delicious).

A really liked the lamb special. Excellently spiced and perfectly cooked, the balance between spice and flavor worked very well. Paired with the spinach and pap, it made for a very hearty and flavorful meal. A would definitely like to try this again, but being a special, that may not happen. M enjoyed the spinach and pap as well, and A was happy to share his spinach and pap in return for the heads from the prawns on M's dish.

We ended the meal with 2 desserts: the melktert for A and the koeksisters for M. The melktert was a "firm milk custard tart dusted with cinnamon and sweet spice over a biscuit tart crust." The koeksisters was "sweetly spiced dough pastry in orange yogurt mousse and rooibos ginger honey sauce with tropical fruit sorbet." A nice light end to the meal.

Koeksisters on the left, melktert on the right

M's favorite dish all night was probably the chicken sosatie. A's was also the chicken sosatie, but the lamb entree was a very close second. It was a good meal for our first South African adventure, and it was a great way to kick off our World Cup eating extravaganza. There are so many other things we want to try so we will definitely be back!

Braai is located on 51st Street between 8th and 9th Avenues.

Monday, July 5, 2010

I Love Paraguay

We had been planning to do our World Cup recaps in order, but lunch today was so delicious that we have to skip ahead to tell you all about it.

Since Paraguay's first game in the World Cup, M had been searching online to find a Paraguayan restaurant in NYC. We found a bakery/cafe in Sunnyside called I Love Py, another place in Brooklyn that appears to have closed down ... and that's it. We decided to take advantage of the extra day off for Independence Day to head out to Sunnyside to visit I Love Py. We were hoping it would be open and we were in luck!

When we got there, the cafe was about half-full of small groups indulging in Paraguayan dishes and watching the news about the World Cup. (It was amusing when they started talking about the Paraguayan team; the place went silent as everyone watched the news.) We looked through the menu and zeroed in on the section for Paraguayan specialties. After that, the difficult part was just figuring out what to choose!

The one thing we knew we were going to get was chipa guazu, a Paraguayan corn pie filled with fresh corn, onions, eggs and some other stuff. It was recommended to M on Twitter by someone in Paraguay during her Paraguayan restaurant search, and we had to try it. Although we tried many good things during lunch, this was probably our favorite thing.

The chipa guazu was light and fluffy. You could see (and taste) the corn kernels, as well as the onions and eggs. It was similar to a light quiche with a bit of creaminess to it. Delicious.

Since the restaurant advertises their empanadas in the window, we also tried a few of those (carne, pollo y queso) and one of the croquetas de carne.

Of these, the chicken was probably our favorite, followed closely behind by the ground beef. Both came with well-seasoned meat and a hard boiled egg inside. The cheese was nice and gooey but we definitely preferred the meat empanadas. The croquette was soft and tasty, with meat very similar to the ground beef empanada.

The last thing we got was also on the Paraguayan specialty menu, something called mbeyu. We had never heard of this before and looked it up online from the cafe. According to websites, it's a traditional "starch cake" that might be made with cassava (farina) or manioc flour. We didn't realize how heavy it would be, and decided to try it.

This was probably our least favorite but it wasn't bad. We had started out with the most seasoned foods (the chipa guazu and chicken empanada) so maybe we would have felt differently if we started with the mbeyu. We thought it might be good on the side of soup, but since the temperatures were in the high 90s ... soup was not part of the plan for lunch.

We didn't try any of the drinks (they have lots of juices), but it seemed like everyone else there was drinking two-liter bottles of Guarana Brazilia. Maybe we should try that next time.

Not only was all of the food great, but it was really affordable. Everything we got, including tax and tip, came out under $20! It felt like such a steal.

If you're looking to try Paraguayan food, we highly recommend going to I Love Py. Not just because it's the only Paraguayan place we could find in the city, but because it's good. Definitely try the chipa guazu and some of the empanadas. We plan to go back for more of those!

I Love Py is located at 43-16 Greenpoint Avenue in Sunnyside, Queens. It's a short walk from the 46 St stop on the 7 train.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July

Happy Independence Day!

To celebrate, we had a Korean feast for lunch and a Greek feast for dinner. Celebrating the diversity that is the United States. A did have a Sam Adams beer and we had granola bars for breakfast, so I guess that's traditional "American."

If I had room for dessert (I don't, too much yummy Greek food), I would have had a cupcake like the one below. Those are considered "American", right?

Delicious cupcake from the Treats Truck

Have a happy and safe 4th of July weekend!

Five Spice

My grandparents' favorite local Chinese restaurant in Brooklyn usually has a plate of peanuts and a plate of pickled vegetables set out on the table after you sit down so you can snack when deciding what to order.

The peanuts had been "regular" peanuts, and I used to ignore them unless I was really hungry and needed a pre-dinner snack. But the past few times we have gone to dinner there, they have put out five spice boiled peanuts instead.

They are addictive.

I'm really glad they only give us a small plate of them, because I could probably eat them all night. And that wouldn't be a very good idea. But they were my favorite snack of today!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Health Break

As much as I love trying new places for lunch, sometimes a nice, clean salad lunch is what you need.

To kick off July 4th weekend, yesterday I went to my stand-by salad place, Just Salad. I don't know how they do it (better product? better dressing? the way they chop it?) but the salad there just tastes better than other places. When I first started working in midtown, I would walk half a mile to get to the closest Just Salad. Now, it's a little easier, because there is a branch in the concourse of Rockefeller Center.

Another good thing about Just Salad is how eco-conscious they are. They have reusable bowls (for $1, which also gets you a discount card). And the best part? If you use it, you get 2 free ingredients (I keep wanting to call them mix-ins but this is not Coldstone). Excellent!

I almost always get a spinach salad with sherry-shallot vinaigrette. The 7 other ingredients (6 included, I pay for the protein) are up for grabs. Yesterday I decided on grape tomatoes, chickpeas, white beans, beets, barley, red onions and grilled chicken. And unless you're on some serious anti-carb diet... don't pass on the bread. It's better than you would expect (and I'm not a huge bread person).

I've gotten salads from multiple places in the (work) neighborhood, but always find myself going back to Just Salad. It's just better.

My "local" Just Salad is in the Rockefeller Center Concourse. I have also been to their branches in the Fashion District (West 37th Street) and Midtown East (Park and 51st). According to their website, they are also in Murray Hill, the Financial District and Central in Hong Kong.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Mexican Beginnings

Let's start our World Cup adventure... at the beginning.

Way back on the morning of June 11, when the World Cup first started, our toilet broke. First thing in the morning. I was stuck working from home waiting for maintenance, but at least there was one good thing that came out of that -- I got to watch the kickoff of the 2010 World Cup and the entire first match between South Africa and Mexico. I got to listen to the excited commentators on Univision and their awesome pronunciation of Tshabalala's name, and watch South Africa score the first goal of the World Cup in Africa. And the toilet eventually got fixed.

On my way in to the office, I needed to grab lunch. Usually at lunch I have a tendency to wander (especially now with my new pedometer) but on this day, I knew exactly where I wanted to go. The World Cup food adventure hadn't started yet (I think it evolved from lunch), but I knew I wanted Mexican food since I had just watched Mexico play. There isn't really any South African, Uruguayan or French food near the office, so Mexican was the obvious choice for that day.

And where could I easily get good Mexican food on the way to work?

The El Rey del Sabor cart is only a few blocks from my office and has been my go-to spot for "real" Mexican food ever since they started coming to the area. (Their locations on the East Side had been a little too far away.) I've had their huaraches, tortas and enchiladas, but today, it was time for tacos.

Three delicious tacos. 2 chicken and 1 lengua. El Rey's tacos are two corn tortillas wrapped around the meat with plentiful onion and cilantro, and a nice green sauce. I took them to-go and for the most part the tortillas held up pretty well, which was a pleasant surprise. I usually expect soft tacos to fall apart as soon as I get back to the office.

The tacos are so good that I have gotten them every time I have gone to the cart recently. It's always so hard to decide whether to get tacos or a torta or something else! I guess I will just have to go more often so I can try more!

This El Rey del Sabor cart is located on the north side of 43rd Street, just east of Sixth Avenue. I'm not sure of their hours but I have only been there at lunch on the weekdays.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


So we're fast approaching the 4th of July. That, coupled with a coworker finishing up a massive project meant it was a good time to celebrate. So said coworker and I were joined by another fellow cubicle slave to splurge a bit and celebrate in true American fashion, burgers and fries!

Off to Schnipper's Quality Kitchen we went!
mmmmm... Schnipper's Classic Burger and Fries...

World Cup Fever

Hello, our names are M and A, and we are World Cup-aholics.

Flags of the World (Cup) at Mercury Bar in Hell's Kitchen

The World Cup is a fabulous month-long event for us. We try to catch as many games as we can, although it's a little more difficult this year since the games all fall during the work day. We used to wake up to the early game on Univision (back during group play) and then follow whatever games we could during the day. We cheered for USA until they collapsed and stopped playing against Ghana, and we love watching the excellent non-diving soccer being played by Argentina and Germany. We believe that soccer truly is the "world's sport." Outside of the USA, everyone seems to love soccer and adore their teams. It doesn't take much to play or learn the game and, like the Olympics, this is something where it really feels like the world is all together as one.

In honor of the World Cup, we decided to implement a food adventure during the month of the World Cup. We would try to eat at a restaurant for every country playing in the World Cup. In a city like New York, that sounds like it should be relatively easy (to find the places, at least). After some searching, it was a bit harder than it seemed. We still haven't found a Dutch place, even though that sounds like it should be easy. Other places, like Algeria, Cameroon and Slovenia, have also been a little difficult. So far, with two weeks left to the World Cup, out of 32, we've made it to 11 (together) and M's made it to 2 more. We adjusted our expectations partway through and decided that if we make it to half, this will be a success!

M also has her own side challenge going where she tries to eat lunch on work days at places with countries playing that day. It's getting increasingly difficult since the number of teams is dwindling, and it's not always possible because work days don't always have choices for lunch, but it was going pretty well for awhile.

(This World Cup food adventure has also led to a new plan to try to eat from at least one restaurant anywhere in the United States representing every country of the world, but that is a little more of a long-term and ambitious project for another day.)

Will we make it? Will we get to 16 countries by July 11? We'll start from the beginning of our adventure around the world (cup) soon!