Archive for the United States of America Category

New York – Brooklyn – Williamsburg

Posted in Brooklyn, United States of America, Williamsburg on January 23, 2017 by gannet39

Williamsburg has come on a lot since I first visited it in 2006. Back then it was the newly fledged bohemian area and it seems to have come on by leaps and bounds. Again, there are plenty of other good places, but these are a few that I experienced on a short trip.

The famous Brooklyn Brewery at 79 N 11th St has a large beer hall where you can sample their wares.


Fette Sau (Intermediate A), 354 Metropolitan Avenue,

This is a great place for BBQ aficionados, the kind of place I wish I’d opened. It’s canteen style so after waiting in a queue (only a painless quarter of an hour for us) you take a tray and move along the line choosing what you want to eat.

You can pick from a list of roasted meats which are priced by the kilo and weighed out according to your hunger. Next you choose your sides, and then a drink from the craft beer bar before taking a seat at one of the shared picnic tables, either inside or out.


Being a lover of pork I had 250g each of shoulder (B+), short ribs (B+) and belly (A), although there was some good looking Aberdeen Angus on offer as well.

Our sides included some great stewed beans (A), bright green pickled cornichons (B) and some unimpressive German potato salad (C). After a couple of glasses of IPA chosen from the wide selection of craft beers available from another bar, I left a very happy man.


Odd Fellows (Intermediate A), 175 Kent Avenue,

This is a modern ice cream parlour offering a range of unusual flavour combinations. This is the place to come for your Chorizo Caramel Swirl or your Manchego Cheese with Pineapple & Thyme. I can vouch for the Pecan Pie flavour (B+).

They are very popular and queues are inevitable. We stood in line for a quarter of an hour which wasn’t too bad.


Beco (Intermediate A), 45 Richardson St,

A Brazilian bar restaurant with a great atmosphere. Several musicians were jamming inside while we sat outside on the terrace and got chatting to some friendly locals, including Frank the Dominican shaman and Laura the English bulldog owner.


To eat, Tom had a Moqueca, a prawn and coconut stew (B+), and I had the Feijoda, the national dish which involves a stew of black beans and various kinds of pork cuts with side dishes of rice, collard greens, salsa, and farofa (toasted cassava) (A). Two pitchers of Caipirinhas sent us rolling happily home.


Williamsburg is a great town! Definitely somewhere I’d live if I could. Preferably in this stunning apartment block, known as The Lotus, at 2 Bayard St.


This is my last NYC post. On to Mexico!

New York – Manhattan – The Financial District

Posted in Financial District, Manhattan, United States of America on January 22, 2017 by gannet39

Followers of this blog will know that I am a big fan of architecture (put it into my search box to see). New York has of course got heaps of fantastic buildings and every time I come I fully intend to visit the Empire State, the Chrysler Building and all those other wonderful edifices up in midtown but somehow I never get around to doing it. It’s the thought of the crowds that puts me off I think. However I did check out a few places in the Financial District on this visit.

The neo-Gothic Woolworth Building at 233 Broadway is one of my favourites. Sadly no tourists are allowed inside and it’s quite hard to get good shots of the outside so this first pic is of a poster, just to give you an idea of the fantastic decoration.



The entablature around the front door is particularly ornate.



I love Art Deco so I had to check out the office building at 116 John St which has a nice Deco lobby.


The nicest features are the lift doors…


… and the post boxes.



The Surrogate’s Court at 31 Chambers St20150808_120006 has a nice frontage too.

8 Spruce Street, designed by Frank Gehry (of Bilbao Guggenheim fame), is the tallest residential tower in the western hemisphere with seventy six floors. The design of the facade is intended to emulate ripples on water.


Although I’m not a fan of the One World Trade Center, the replacement for the Twin Towers. I’ve renamed it ‘The Finger’ because it’s so obviously flipping the bird.


If you’re down this way, I reccommend a shopping diversion to Century 21 at 21 Dey St. It’s like a department store version of TK Maxx.

There aren’t that many restaurants in this area but here are a couple of options. I wanted to eat at Ramen Co at 100 Maiden Lane, but they didn’t open early enough for lunch. Alternatively you could try out Bourdain’s old place at Les Halles at 15 John St.

New York – Manhattan – Ramen Bars

Posted in Manhattan, United States of America with tags on January 21, 2017 by gannet39

Ramen is one of the things I love most in life and NYC, with its large Japanese community, is a great place to eat it. These are some of the best places I went to:

Totto Ramen (Low Intermediate A+), 366 W 52nd St,

This place in Hell’s kitchen was my favourite. The service is good and the ramen broth is excellent and quite unusual (A).

I had the Pork Miso Paitan which consisted of wavy noodles with ground pork, half boiled egg, scallions, bean sprouts, onions, char siu pork, topped with Koji miso bean paste.


Paitan translates as ‘milky broth’. The fat and collagen from animal bones (probably chicken and pork) give it an opaque milky white colour and a viscous taste in the mouth.

Koji refers to the culture, aspergillus oryzae, which is a time honored means of fermentation in Japan.

With a bottle of my favourite Japanese beer, Sapporo Black Label, I was in heaven.


Ippudo Ramen (Low Intermediate A), 65 4th Ave,

Part of an international chain, this place in the East Village is one of the best ramen bars in town and very popular. To beat the queues I arrived at 11.30 on a weekday but I would have still been okay if I’d arrived at 12.

I had the Shiromaru Hakata Classic; a tonkotsu (pork bone) broth with cha siu pork loin, sesame kikurage mushooms, scallions, menma and red pickled ginger. It was fantastic; top notch stock and quality cha siu pork (A).


Kikurage are also known as Cloud Ear mushrooms and are very common in Chinese cuisine. Menma are fermented bamboo shoots.

The Brooklyn draught beer served here is good but a bit pricey at $6 for a half.

Ippudo is definitely worth coming to but Totto is better in my opinion.

Sapporo Ramen (Low Intermediate B+), 152 W. 49th St,

This place in Midtown is also well renowned. I had the Chashu Miso Ramen with cha siu pork, minced pork, sweet corn, scallions, bean sprouts and nira leek (garlic chives) with extra Thai chilli, which was very good (B+).


Unfortunately the Gyoza I had on the side let the side down as they were a bit cold (B).


Also the Sapporo draught had a bit of an unpleasant aftertaste (B-).


There are of course many more great ramen bars in town. If you type ‘ramen’ into the search box of my Google map, you’ll get a few more.

New York – Manhattan – Chinatown & Little Italy

Posted in Chinatown, Little Italy, Manhattan, United States of America with tags , on January 20, 2017 by gannet39

I’m a sucker for Cha Siu Bao, so whenever I’m in a city with a large Chinese community, I head immediately to the nearest bakery.

I tried two while I was here. The Guardian says that the buns at Mei Lai Wah at 64 Bayard St are the best in Chinatown and I couldn’t disagree. It was one of the best I’ve ever tasted (A) and a steal at just $1. The bun from the Tai Pan Bakery at 194 Canal St, were okay, but not quite as good (B).


For Cantonese food, check out…

Jing Fong (Intermediate A) 20 Elizabeth St,

I came here with Karen & Tom for Dim Sum. As you can see it’s a huge place.


The Dim Sum is very good. Amongst many things we had Choi Sum with Oyster Sauce…


…Turnip Cake…


…Steamed Rice in a Lotus Leaf…


and Shrimp Noodle Dumplings.


The ‘Pheonix Claws’ were good too.


Little Italy stopped being a residential area for Italian Americans a long time ago and it’s slowly being subsumed into Chinatown, its neighbour just to the south. There are a fair few Italian restaurants left though. After our Dim Sum we went to Caffe Palermo at 148 Mulberry St for some decadent Cannoli.


There are heaps of other good places of course, both Italian and Chinese, this is just my brief experience.

New York – Manhattan – Lower East Side

Posted in Lower East Side, Manhattan, United States of America on January 18, 2017 by gannet39

I have many fond memories of partying in the Lower East Side back in 1991. My best friend Luke and I had a fabulous time with the drag queens at the underground dance club Save The Robots. Lets just say they epitomised what it means to be hospitable to strangers! The glowing blood red ambiance of the Sapphire Lounge on Eldridge Street was also  later a big influence on us in our careers as party promoters. Both places are now sadly closed.

Some legends still live on though, albeit of the culinary variety…

Russ & Daughters (Advanced A-), 179 E Houston St,, just along the road from Katz’s below

A venerable deli specialising in fish products. They are particularly famous for the NYC classic cream cheese and lox (salmon) beigel, a traditional food brought over by German Jews.


Eight kinds of cured salmon were available, including Norwegian, Scottish, Irish, gravelaks and Gaspé Nova.


Gaspé Nova is the classic NYC cure. The name dates from a time when much of the salmon in New York City came from Nova Scotia, specifically the town of Gaspé. Nowadays it refers to a milder brining and the fish can come from elsewhere, including fish farms. It tends to be milder in flavour, fattier and less smoky.

Western Wild Nova, as the name implies, the fish isn’t farmed and it comes from the Pacific. It’s wood smoked for a rich flavour..

Scottish-style salmon is cured using a brine mixture of salt and possibly sugars, spices, and other flavorings. This is put directly on the fish and then rinsed off, and the fish is cold-smoked.

Nordic-style smoked salmon is salt-cured and cold-smoked.

Gravlax, or gravad lax, is another traditional Nordic means of preparing salmon. The cure usually includes dill, sugars, salt, and spices like juniper berries. It’s often served with a sweet mustard-dill sauce.

I’m always up for trying the local delicacies, so I went for the Gaspé Nova. The choice of cream cheeses was too bewildering for me so I played safe with plain cream cheese.


It was really good but a bit too heavy on the cheese for my liking as I felt it detracted from the flavour of the fish (A-). I’ll ask for less next time I go, or maybe extra salmon…


Other delicacies available here include various kinds of caviar, pickled herrings and chocolate.



Katz’s (Advanced A-), 205 E Houston St,, just along the road from the above

Founded in 1888, this quintessential Jewish Deli is a New York institution. So much has been written about this place that it’s probably best left to others to describe. Here’s Bourdain waxing lyrical.

Katz’s is most famous for its Pastami & Rye sandwich (B+), to which some would add chicken livers for extra flavour. As ever in this city, the sandwich is enough for two people. The hot dogs are famous too, and a bit more manageable. It’s reckoned Katz’s sell 6,800kg of pastrami and 4,000 hot dogs every week!

The etymology of Pastrami is quite interesting. The spelling hints at it being Italian but in fact the it’s a corruption of ‘Pastrama’, a Romanian word. That’s because this technique for preserving beef was brought to New York by Romanian Jews in the 1870s.

New York – Manhattan – East Village

Posted in East Village, Greenwich Village, Manhattan, United States of America on January 17, 2017 by gannet39

McSorley’s (Elementary B), 15 E 7th St,

As New York’s oldest continuously operated bar, since 1854, McSorley’s still retains the feel of an old pub.


We learned from the bartender that McSorley’s remained open during prohibition as they were selling weak ‘half beer’ and no spirits.

They brew their own light and dark ales which aren’t up to much (C) but it’s worth going just for the atmosphere.

Burp Castle, just down the road at 41 E 7th St also looks like a good boozer.

As you can see on my Google map there were many, many other places in the East Village that I wanted to check out but didn’t have the time for.

One of my regrets is not going to one of the Momofuku chain which were crazy popular when I was in NYC in 2015.

New York – Manhattan – Greenwich Village – Street Art

Posted in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, United States of America with tags , on January 16, 2017 by gannet39

Some snaps from the street when I was wandering around Greenwich Village in August 2015:













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