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Eataly storefront on Ohio Ave

Eataly storefront on Ohio Ave

Whenever we’re in the Flatiron district, I love to teasingly goad Michael into dropping in on Eataly; lately, his response has been simply “OK, see you at home then.” You may recall our initial impressions of Eataly New York when it first opened over Labor Day weekend in 2010; I’ve made a few visits there since then on my own, and I can’t say that my initial impressions have changed all that much. Any time I’ve purchased ingredients to make dinner I’ve been extremely satisfied with the results, and on my last visit I treated myself to a Neapolitan-style pizza that was easily among the best pizzas I ever had. But on the weekends the place was nearly as claustrophobic  as it had been on opening weekend, and for all of the text on the walls celebrating Italian food culture, I was still left rather…cold.

Over Christmas I had heard that there were other Eataly locations opening up in the next few years, with a Chicago location having opened in November and space on a spot in Philadelphia allegedly secured. In chatting with my brother-in-law and his boyfriend about the latter, reflecting on the good and the disappointing, I realized that it had been a while since I went there and maybe, just maybe I had been too hard on the place, that I was trying to make it into something it never set out to be anyway. So when we were in Chicago a few weekends ago and I realized that Eataly Chicago was open and right off of Michigan Avenue, I decided to see if perhaps the second iteration had improved upon the first.

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Gazpacho andaluz/gazpaxo andalus

Gazpacho andaluz/gazpaxo andalús

One of the things that was challenging during our trip to Barcelona last year was trying to stay well-hydrated. We’d be the obnoxious Americans carrying around the giant 1.5 liter bottles of mineral water (sin gas) while we walked and went sightseeing, but the weather was warm, even for the first day of fall. Even then, nothing ever felt like it was properly slaking our thirst; that is, until I realized that the key to hydration, at least for me, was eating (drinking?) lots and lots of gazpacho.

It seemed odd at first–given its Andalusian provenance, I wasn’t expecting to find it as readily as I did in Barcelona–but I’m pretty sure the restaurateurs knew that few other foods are as fully restorative during hot weather as even a small serving of this soup. Thanks to unseasonably cool weather once we came home, though, my craving for gazpacho completely vanished and I didn’t think of making it again until a few weeks ago when we were in the middle of the first of a series of unpleasant heatwaves. Loosely following a recipe from José Andrés, I immediately remembered the appeal of this dish: an abundance of water-logged vegetables that help you stay hydrated, but do so while also helping you feel full. (Thanks, fiber!) That it requires minimal prep work and that a blender does all the work is icing on the cake.

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Caramelized Onion Hummus

In the five and a half years I’ve lived in Connecticut and New York, I’ve been fortunate to be within easy walking distance to gourmet shops that stocked most of the basics we might need for a weeknight meal–in New Haven, it was Romeo and Cesare’s, and in New York I didn’t even have to leave my own building as our apartment was literally above a bodega. I’m going to miss being able to take the elevator down there and swan around in flip flops and tank tops ind the dead of winter while the bundled-up folk give me the side-eye, but now I miss it as an easy resource to pick up a block of cheese, some lemons and limes or a can of chiles in adobo whenever I needed it without adding any significant time to my otherwise epic commute, because it allowed us the freedom to be spontaneous.

Now that we’re in Stamford, things have changed drastically. The closest convenience store to our building advertises their stock of sodas and body oils, which doesn’t inspire the most confidence in the quality of any food they might carry,  so if either random inspiration strikes us or we realize that we forgot to get something at Fairway, the closest store we have to walk to is…Target. Read More

Outside the Time & Life Building, 50th Street and 6th Ave

On
to Times Square, where the sign
blows smoke over my head, and higher
the waterfall pours lightly. A
Negro stands in a doorway with a
toothpick, languorously agitating.
A blonde chorus girl clicks: he
smiles and rubs his chin. Everything
suddenly honks: it is 12:40 of
a Thursday.
Neon in daylight is a
great pleasure, as Edwin Denby would
write, as are light bulbs in daylight.
I stop for a cheeseburger at JULIET’S
CORNER. Giulietta Masina, wife of
Federico Fellini, è bell’ attrice.
And chocolate malted. A lady in
foxes on such a day puts her poodle
in a cab.

Frank O’Hara, A Step Away from Them

Saturday was a day that required to be spent outside. Despite the unseasonal coolness the sun was out in force, and I had an itinerary that was to take me all over the city. As I mentioned yesterday and last week (and endlessly last Friday to all of my coworkers who were probably sick hearing me yap about it), Michael is off gallivanting at a conference all week, leaving me to my own devices and plans, both those of a culinary and non-culinary sort. Read More

Russ & Daughters

I have a new thing–sitting on benches in front of world-famous stores and glaring at people as they pass by making asinine comments.

Michael

It’s a good thing (for us) that the Lower East Side requires several subway changes to get to it from where we live, mainly because the primary attraction for us is Katz’s Deli. Were it any closer than I’m pretty sure M would be dragging me there any time he had a craving for pastrami to the point where we’d require assistance in getting out of our doors on a daily basis. As it is, we save our trips down there for special treats, maybe only going a few times a year at most. But we now have an additional excuse to visit this neighborhood, which will test my limits of self-restraint whenever I’m craving some smoked nova salmon: Russ & Daughters. I had heard of it prior to going in on Saturday, of course, but never ventured inside because the timing never seemed conducive to shopping there. On Saturday I told Michael that we would be stopping there so I could get brunch provisions for the next day, and my resolve was to the end so steely that I even refrained from ordering my usual lox platter at Katz’s and went for the latkes.

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Sea Breeze Fish Market

I lived in New Haven, Connecticut for five years while I went to graduate school. Although some of my friends might balk at this, and certainly time and distance has given me a shot glass of perspective, I enjoyed living there–most of the time, anyway. New Haven is an old city with a surprisingly rich food culture and filled with enthusiastic people. Also they let me cook on TV a bunch of times. Anyway. We wrote a post for our old blog last year extolling the wonders of the #1 Fish Market in North Haven, and until recently I have been hurting for a replacement, even though I moved to the supposed center of the universe. Read More

Storefront

Tucked away a few blocks off Broadway in Soho (and not far from one of my favorite brunch places) is probably my favorite boutique in the city: Despaña. It’s in a fairly unassuming location on Broome Street, and could be easy to pass by without a second thought if you didn’t know it was there–but then you’d be missing out on all of the delights that wait on the other side of the door.

Let’s go inside, shall we? Read More

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