Posts Tagged ‘food’

Jack’s Wife Freda, An Instant Classic

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

One of the things I love about walking to work is that I never know what I am going to discover. That’s just the nature of New York. The city changes so quickly, and a street you’ve walked down a thousand times can suddenly become an adventure when a new place opens up. And it happens all the time. Just today for instance, as I was trudging to the office in the unseasonable warmth of a fifty degree February, I saw a small awning over the door to a store front I hadn’t seen before. Looking up I saw a sign that read “Jack’s Wife Freda”.

“What the heck…” I thought, momentarily confused by the funny, hand-lettered name, (we live in a digital world of monosyllabic pronouns and slick logo design), and here was someone brazenly flouting convention.  I went in. There are certain places that just feel good, and the moment I walked into “Jack’s Wife Freda” I knew I was in one of those places–the room is small yet open and uncluttered, the lighting is bright but friendly, the wood tables and chairs comfortable and inviting and everything feels clean and new–which it is–having only opened two weeks ago. Turn’s out Jack and Freda are the owner’s grandparents–and the place is an homage to them and their simple, elegant lifestyle. I took a seat and perused the menu. This was going to be good. The Matzoh Ball Soup was calling to me, but when I came across the Prego Roll Sandwich–Portuguese skirt steak marinated with garlic butter and served with hand-cut fries I knew there was no chance I would go with anything else.

The menu has a middle eastern influence with kebabs, Greek salads, mint lemonade and vegetable curries making an appearance but these flavors are counter-balanced by American staples, like the burger and a riff on the tuna salad sandwich.

I am a fry guy, so I was eager and anxious to see what my “hand-cut” fries were all about. They did not disappoint. Firstly, they were piping hot–a must, secondly, they were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and lastly, they weren’t too thin or too thick–about the width of my pinky finger.  Perfection.  When the waitress offered both mayonnaise and ketchup to garnish my fries I knew I was in capable hands. Turns out the owner–Dean–is an alumnus of the McNally empire and his attention to detail shows.

The sandwich was gorgeous–the skirt steak beautifully marinated and sliced with just enough garlic butter to make it decadent, and not so much to make it greasy. The meat was flecked with parsley that brightened it just enough and the whole thing was enshrined in a homemade Portugues roll from Parisi that was the ideal antidote to the mundane hamburger bun–in short it rocked. My partner had a grilled chicken sandwich lightly grilled with an aioli dressing and served with an arugula salad that I didn’t bother to try because I was too busy shoveling the last of the french fries into my face. I ordered a mint lemonade that would’ve been so easy to be sloppy about–”Freda” nails even these small touches–and that says everything about the place. I ordered the cheesecake and the chocolate cake for desert–both were excellent but the cheesecake was a standout, it tasted as if someone had magically buried a pumpkin pie inside a New York Cheesecake and then dusted the whole thing with cocoa–it was incredible and way too big for me to finish.

In the end this is the kind of place I will go back to again and again. the service was great, the food perfection and the ambiance is that perfect blend of casual New York, comfort and sophistication that feels effortless. “Jack’s Wife Freda” is the kind of restaurant that made me fall in love with New York. Thanks to Dean, I just fell in love again.

snow-motion

Friday, January 27th, 2012

over the recent holiday weekend, i drove back to my college stomping grounds in ithaca, new york. i was there to visit old friends and eat gluttonous amounts of great food, just generally taking it upon myself to stimulate the local economy one ginger vanilla latte at a time, buying too many books at my favorite place on earth used bookstore and, a first, snow-shoeing.

though i spent four years (on the ithaca college side) of this college town, i had somehow overlooked the wonder that is the cornell outdoor education and rental center until a random bucket-list type of urge to try snow-shoeing snuck up on me in my pre-trip excitement. how could we have missed this and what the hell else had we been doing?

for $15, you get a 24-hour rental for a pair of shoes from a bare-footed bear of a man in the basement of a cornell athletics facility. sign me up. luckily for us, ithaca happened to be a winter wonderland this particular weekend, so dreams were becoming reality. the snow had graciously already fallen, leaving the ground, gorges, and trees fluffy and sparkling in the whitewashed arboretum we found right on campus. Much more idyllic than my darker winter memories of the city that had me shoveling my car out from under mountains of snow, explaining the huge fallen-icicle-induced dent on the hood of that car to my father, or sleeping in full ski-regalia in a never not ice-cold, dilapidated townhouse on the edge of town.

well anyway, i was a natural. i took to snow-shoeing like a fish to water. is it an olympic sport? because i’m looking into brooklyn meet-ups. i’m looking to make this a thing. i may or may not have already done a tentative search for snow-shoes on ebay. i mean, when you find something you’re this good at, you just cannot let that skill go to waste and you certainly can’t stop talking about it.

~ jamie

my latest obsession: the next iron chef

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

image courtesy of foodnetwork.com

i absolutely adore food and love watching the food network. i could watch the food network all day and not get bored. ace of cakes, throwdown with bobby flay, the next iron chef – there’s so much to see, watch, experience, and learn about. what i love the most about these shows is that they take cooking to the next level, and make it just as enjoyable and exciting as watching a competitive game of football or hockey. there’s excitement, mystery, and anticipation, and the food network producers definitely know how to keep their viewers constantly on their toes.

one of the shows i’ve been obsessed with lately is the next iron chef. in a nutshell, the next iron chef is a competition where 10 amazingly talented chefs battle each other every week until only one remains standing. each episode, the chefs are presented with a challenge and a few obstacles thrown in along the way such as mystery ingredients and game-changing rules. the latest episode i watched was one called “new york on a plate” – an episode that highlighted each chef’s ability to take an iconic new york city site and not only cook up a kitchen stadium-worthy dish but also tell an engaging and interesting tale of how the site inspired the chef’s thinking and creativity. watch the episode to see for yourself who won this battle here.

my favorite chef? chef elizabeth falkner, hands down. because of her background as a pastry chef and confectionary hero, chef falkner is a master of accomplishing dishes that are both savory and sweet. also, she is incredibly creative and is always finding ways to re-invent and remodel classic dishes in unique ways. however, i also think the other chefs are extremely talented so chef geoffrey zakarian and chef michael chiarello deserve an honorable mention as well. who do you want to see win the title of the next iron chef?

~irin

donuts for all!

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

finally there’s a bakery that makes sweets without common allergens that actually taste good! really, really good. babycakes whips up delicious donuts, brownies, cookies, cupcakes – you name it – that are made without wheat, gluten, dairy, casein or eggs. for those of us whose bodies can’t tolerate such things this is a really big deal!

in case you have to do any convincing of friends to go with you (which you shouldn’t) just have those in doubt read this nytimes article. it should do the trick!

stop by one of their stores in New York, Los Angeles or if you’re on vacation with the kids, they just happen to have a location at disney world in orlando, florida.

happy eating!

~ caitlin