Sunday, July 16, 2006

Manifest this!

I love New York, I think it is a fabulous, diverse, vibrant place. It has it's problems, but mostly it is a fascinating, pulsating organism.

Summers though, can be a little harsh. It is hot, humid, and mostly smelly. So how do I best deal with them?

I love to walk down the street imagining an altogether more utopian New York. I think of a city with virtually no cars, and even those low or no emission. There are trees and flowerboxes lining the sidewalks. The streets are now walkways and bikeways. The air is fresher, cooler, cleaner. The buildings are all topped with gardens- all those green roofs helping to reduce the urban heat. A lot of the iconic New York sights sounds and smells still exist- the rumble of the subway, the smells wafting from the street food vendors, floods of tourists gawking at our city. The buildings are cleaner (no more smog to blacken their facades), the inhabitants are healthier and happier (no longer the worst air in the country). Everyone is better off, and this radical city extends into the outer boroughs so everyone benefits.

Is this an unrealistic utopian dream? Definitely utopian, but I don't really think it is unrealistic. It just takes a radical governing body to make it happen. It may be a slow process (it doesn't have to be). We can start with a few things, enact the congestion fee (a study showed that 90% of car trips in the city could be done on transit). Increase bike initiative - protected bike lanes, traffic reduction and abatement projects. Improve pedestrian access, wider sidewalks (narrower streets), pedestrian only areas (delivery trucks allowed in during specific hours, improved transit in areas). Be generous in creating a world class (beyond) transit system - clean fuel vehicles, rapid dedicated lanes. And that's just the short term work, after that start enacting more people friendly laws - require greener buildings, solar power, green roofs, pedestrian access and space, greener automotive technology on all vehicles in city. Just keep on going from there!

Yeh, I may be idealistic, and commenters may have diverse opinions, but just thinking about that world when I walk down Broadway in the insufferable heat and humidity, well, it brings a smile to my face.

For more information:
Top photo courtesy of MPMB, second courtesy of Michael L, photo of "Joey" courtesy of Irena Kittenclaw, all on Flickr.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Oh la la!

Yes, we love Choice Market. Not only are they open early (before 6:45) and late-ish (about 9am). They are perfectly located along a convenient dog walk path. They have lovely benches outside and the staff and clientele are always wonderful. We spent a pleasant morning there having a cappucino, chocy croissant and lemon poppyseed scone while the pups (we are babysitting the sister right now) hung out under the benches and greeted all the kids and people and dogs who came by.

Having a dog certainly gets you out into the world a bit more. Before pup came along we weren't really noticed on the street except by our immediate neighbors and the really nice group of gentlemen who sit out down near the el tracks. Now, we have regular people that we see and talk to, and are constantly meeting new people. (Including the neighbor down the way that really hates us, but that's another story). Pre-pup, we were pretty invisible, post-pup we talk to loads of people and know more neighbors, and neighbors dogs and kids. Its pretty impressive and I enjoy feeling part of the community.

As for food, the wonderful Farmer Ted provided the CSA this week with Kohlrabi, beautiful rainbow radishes, kale, mixed greens (with more romaine this time) a cucumber and more of those delish zucchini. The fruit share people continue to gorge on strawberries and cherries. Yum yum yum. Also of note to those who are interested, the CSA will take compost from its members. Just bring it when you pick up and dump it in the bin... (I don't know their specific rules, but as a general guideline never include anything other than veg and coffee grinds - even egg shells can be problematic).

Should be popping out for another brunch and park day tomorrow with the pups, think we will try June this time, I am thinking ricotta pancakes...

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Choice Market, Sushi D and Chez Oskar...

We have had a big 'eating out' weekend. Usually I do shopping every couple of days, but due to the long holiday and a number of last minute schedule changes, we have found ourselves eating out a lot this weekend. Some planned, some not.

Thursday night I put in my time volunteering with the CSA. It was an enjoyable evening, and while a big storm raged outside, we were all enjoying the company of other people interested in yummy veg, sustainable living and a greener lifestyle. We traded recipes and gardening tips and learned a little about each other. At the end of the night we took home a few of the extras (a well guarded secret about working the late shift - oops its out now!) I came home with vitamin greens (somewhere between a choi and kale), more hakurei turnips (which I used to try the newsletter recipe and made seitan fricasse), French radishes, mixed greens, broccoli, zucchini, cherries and strawberries. The mixed greens will make a nice bed for some baked chevre, and the strawberries are resting in a port wine sauce for a more modern strawberry shortcake dessert.

Friday night as a big big storm moved in, we raced with the pup up to Choice Market to get some vittles for dinner. We grabbed a macaroni and cheese, pasta salad (orzo with sun dried toms, basil and olives), a portabello panini and a brownie. It was absolutely delicious! The mac had a deep rich cheesiness without being too mushy. I am usually good at figuring out the cheese, but I couldn't guess this one. The pasta salad was tasty without heaviness and easily held up to the complexities of the flavors within. The sandwich was woodsy and meaty - just like a portabello should be! It was offset by sweet creamy goat cheese and baby arugula. Although that's a pretty typical veg sandwich, this one surpassed most with a bread that didn't get soggy and the flavors didn't run together as they often do in veg sandwiches. Even the brownie was excellent. It was dark and complex without being too rich. It was a good level of density and not too sweet. An absolutely fabulous meal, one of my favorite so far especially for take out. The shop itself is really beautiful, with a huge array of baked goods, and an open kitchen. On the night of the storm it was warm and inviting, the staff was friendly and helpful. It takes a little bit of time for the food to be prepared (so don't get all in a huff if you are in a hurry - like one customer did), it just means everything is freshly prepared. They have a small community table for eating in, and dog friendly benches out front. Don't be surprised if you see us there more often. The pup led us there this morning but we forgot money! There we are out front drooling at the windows. At least there was a nice woman who bought a dog biscuit for pup.

Sunday was G-pup and my anniversary. We planned a lovely day. We slept in a bit with pup and then headed off to brunch with pup in tow. We wanted to get over to Luz, but that was going to be pretty far for the pup. We made it to DeKalb sooner than we thought, so we stopped in for some coffee at Tillies (unfortunately Ici, which we adore isn't dog friendly since their patio - while beautiful is out back). The coffee was, as always, too hot, but it tasted good after cooling a bit. We then wandered past June - which looked to have a delish brunch which we will try soon - to Chez Oskar. Feeling a little French, I ordered the mushroom and onion omelet with French fries and mustard. It's one of my favorite breakfasts, and though I don't indulge that way too often, it was nice to do so. G-pup had the very yummy eggs benedict with spinach. We also indulged in a mojito and caipirinha. The drinks were a bit strong for brunch drinks, and the food while good wasn't anything out of the ordinary. (Are omelets ever?) The hollandaise on the eggs bene was quite good - had a little bit of spice in it, and the French fries were near perfect for me (thin and crunchy).

Last night (Monday) we had a friend over, and had planned on ordering in so we could play with the puppy and share vacation photos. After negs from a number of places (see previous post), we gave up and went out for a late dinner at Sushi D. I don't eat fish, so I am always looking for a sushi place that is willing to put some effort into interesting veg rolls. Sushi D offered the standards (kappa, avocado, oshinko) but they also had a Greene roll (asparagus, sweet tofu, watercress and cucumber) and Jade (green seaweed, asparagus, avocado and cucumber), which while both big, fresh and tasty were nothing compared with the sushi we could get at Moki's Sushi in Bernal Heights, SF. (It's a bit unfair to compare sushi in NY with SF - oh how I love the Hawaiian influence). I will let G-pup chime in here with a more balance review of the fish based sushi:
Sushi D - the best thing about this place is the prompt, no-nonsense service, and the fact you can blunder in at 10:45 at night and have some kick ass sushi n' beer. Decor wise, it's fine, the tables are generous in size (inside, outside is perforce a little bit pokier). Complimentary edamame (did we just get lucky? Let us know) was a nice touch. Taste wise, I enjoyed the Caterpillar (spicy tuna topped with avocado and spicy masago), Crystal (a seasonal special with mango, avocado and yellowtail) and Spider (soft shell crab, avocado and masago) - they were tasty, but not out of this world. One of our party enjoyed a roll with jalapenos on it - that was novel, but good... although, it's not the kinda spice I go for in sushi. wasabi, yes. Spicy Mexican? Not so much.
In between all that we actually made it into the city for a dinner at Dos Caminos, which I won't go into detail on (hey, its not in Clinton Hill/Fort Greene!), but it was really great - possibly the best cocktail in New York - the Cosmo Diablo - a super spicy take on the traditional.

We've been having fun with the new found freedom that pup's latest shots have given us. You'll probably see us at Choice Market for breakfast on the weekends more...

Choice Market
318 Lafayette Avenue (at Grand)

Chez Oskar
211 DeKalb Avenue
Hours: Mon-Fri 11am - 5:30pm (lunch)
Sat & Sun 11am - 4:30pm (brunch)
Sun - Thu 5:30pm-midnight (dinner)
Fri & Sat 5:30pm - 1am (dinner)
All major credit cards accepted

Other reviews: Go Brooklyn, New York Metro, Citysearch, Newsday, Yelp, Village Voice - Best of,,, Village Voice

Sushi D
207 DeKalb Avenue (at Adelphi)
Hours: Mon-Thu 4:30pm - 11pm
Fri & Sat 12pm - 11:30pm
Sun 12pm - 11pm
All major credit cards accepted

Other reviews: Menu Pages, Yelp, Add Your Own