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Thank You, Internets

Traderjoesback_2Phew, I knew if I waited long enough someone would've gone nuts with Union Square Trader Joe's Flickr sets, and save me the trauma. (I really like how the world is evolving into a place where leaving the house is totally unnecessary. Having bit of a child star fetish I wanted to see Mac Culkin reading his literary masterpiece on Monday, but couldn't get it together. As it turns out, I didn't have to because video of the event turned up on YouTube. I still don't quite get why YouTube is the new hotness, but I'm slowly warming up to it).

I considered joining in the opening day mayhem, but you know, having a job tends to cramp one's moblogging style. And besides, I'm still reeling from the Atlantic Center Target debut from a year and a half ago.

If I'm not too bleary tomorrow, I might just check out TJ's day after carnage.


There's nothing Irish about Korean bbq, but then there's nothing Korean about Echo and the Bunnymen, either. Why not spend St. Patrick's Day evening grilling meat, getting drunk on Sapporo and sake and listening to late '80s alternative hits?

For no reason at all, I seem to be dining in Williamsburg with alarming frequency lately. The food scene isn't the most impressive. It's like Portland in the sense that there are lots of thrifty vegetarians with low expectations who throw it off for anyone seeking exquisiteness or authenticity (fish sauce-less Thai food with brown rice is wrong beyond words). But to be honest, Korean and Japanese cuisine aren't my strengths, so I can only be open minded.

So yeah, the food was perfectly satisfying. I tried japchae (which was amusingly described on the menu as Korean pad thai. Has pad thai become shorthand for stir-fried noodles?), seafood scallion pancake, kalbi, pork and assorted mushrooms and vegetables for grilling (three single servings–choices come single or double with a slight discount) and the kim chee sampler (cabbage, radish, cucumber) but you don't really need it because you do get panchan like pickled bean sprouts and a few other little dishes.

There aren't a lot of places (if any) in Brooklyn where you can do the table top Korean barbecuing (there's an odd little shabu shabu joint in Sunset Park, though) so it's definitely filling a void. As an added bonus, you can get pitchers of beer and pretend you're at a suburban pizza parlor. Then you can head down the street to Tainted Lady Lounge and try to figure out why kids are shamelessly dressed like Tennenbaum tennis players complete with terry cloth headbands. Good times.

Dokebi * 199 Grand St., Brooklyn, NY * 125 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn, NY

What a Sham


I've always been overly enamored with unnaturally colored food, particularly green things, simply because I think the shades are pretty. Spinach is tasty enough but its hue is hardly swoon-inducing. Chocolate chip mint ice cream? Now that's a nice eye-pleasing item. Don't even get me started on the beauty of grasshopper pie.

When I was wee, I'd make an annual fuss about wanting a Shamrock Shake (they also had Shamrock Sundaes, if you recall), which was indulged at least a couple of times. It's funny because I'm just now getting around to reading Fast Food Nation (that's me, ahead of the curve) and just read a bit about marketing fast food to toddlers in an effort to snare customers for life. I was trying to recall if I ever felt little kid urges for fast food, but the only advertising that definitely worked on me was the Shamrock Shake promotion. I've always been a sucker for limited editions.

But really, that had more to do with my passion for the color green (it's been my favorite color since birth, my family knows that, and I've always planned on having a green wedding dress when and if that day comes, and then this past weekend my mom mentioned that my younger sister who's getting married for the second time this summer was having a green wedding dress made. We totally have a friendly relationship despite living in different countries and rarely seeing each other, but that seriously pissed me off. In fact, it's making my blood boil this very second as I recount it in type) than necessarily wanting to eat at McDonald's.

The tragedy is that I hate mint (I've grown to love fresh mint in savory dishes–but as a sweet flavor component it just doesn't work for me) so my parents would actually order me a coveted shake and then I would get grossed out after first couple sips. I know this happened on more than one occasion, and I'm surprised now looking back, that it was even tolerated. That's why I don't have kids, finicky tots would make me lose my shit.

I?m sure it's been at least 25 years since last trying a Shamrock Shake. It's doubtful that I'd truly enjoy one as an adult, but I would like to be able to at least see one. NYC is about crushing dreams, so their big city McDonald's franchises don't sell them. I bet if you asked a Brooklyn counter person what a shamrock was, they wouldn't even know. Not that I would try that sort of buffoonery–I'm just saying.

I'm not alone in my quest:
Bring Back the Shamrock Shake


Sausage I wouldn't blame anyone for not noticing, but astute readers might've observed that this site isn't what it used to be. I'm in the process of merging together my newish Goodies First and my oldie but a goodie Project Me into one bonanza of a self-indulgent blog. It just started seeming silly to keep them separate because essentially food is me (literally, my torso’s a bratwurst and my appendages are ham hocks). Talking about myself and talking about edible topics are too intertwined. 2006 is all about streamlining and embracing change.

But using blog software as opposed to '90s hand coding is about as modern as I get. Don't expect any podcasts, moblogging, or copious links to YouTube videos (did I like miss the memo about mandatory YouTube mentions? It seems that in the past month the entire universe has gone nuts for this shit. Last year I was similarly baffled by Flickr mania) any time soon.

Blogging for the Big Guns

Walmart It is things like this that make me wonder about working in corporate PR (for the record, I'm a librarian who has little-to-zero influence over campaigns). But then, I'm overly sensitive about things that barely matter.

Wal-Mart, and I'm sure plenty of other companies, have been targeting sympathetic bloggers and sending them pro-Wal-Mart tidbits, which inevitably get posted as opinion. It's one thing for a corporation to deflect poor public opinion with upbeat propaganda–that's expected–but the general public parroting spoon fed messages is almost scarier.

But I guess many would argue that this is what mainstream media has been doing for ages.

A Word to the Wise [Richard Edelman]
Wal-Mart Bloggers Exposed! [Holmes Report Blog]
Does the 'P' in 'PR' stand for 'press' or 'public'? [BuzzMachine]
4 Sides of the Story, Pt. 1 [Crazy Politico's Rantings]

Trader Victory?

Tradervicpomegran400 I didn't end up getting to go to the nearest Trader Vic's in Chicago during President's Day weekend like I had wished (though I did have a perfectly charming meal that Sunday at Blue Hill at Stone Barns). Sometimes dreams just don't come true.

Until I saw these magical words Trader Vic's to resume U.S., foreign expansion. Sweet Jesus! Ah, but still no deal. The east coast appears to be left out of this brilliant plan with locations slated for decided hotspots like, er, Bellevue, Washington and Qatar. Neither of which are on my must-visit list.

Those "European-inflected signature creations," like the elusive crab Rangoon, are just going to have to wait until I can make it to the Northwest (likely) or Middle East (not so much).


Sri Lankan seems more elusive than the ubiquitous Indian (or is it really Bangladeshi?) restaurants that are clustered in parts of the city. I was excited to try this new-ish East Village place because I'd only eaten Sri Lankan food once before in Staten Island and this seemed more convenient (though at the rate I've been going the past few years, I get to the forgotten borough more than Alphabet City).

The style of food I had at New Asha was slightly different, heartier, more home style, less refined, and in some ways slightly more tasty. It was casual steam table fare. Sigiri, while hardly formal, is slightly more upscale in price and presentation.

I don't even know what is quintessentially Sri Lankan, hence ordering benchmarks are nebulous. But black curry seems unique, and Sigiri offers a version with pork. The black is really dark brown, achieved by toasting of spices like…I'm not sure which spices. Hoppers also seem unusual, little crispy crepe-like vessels that come four to an order, three plain, one with a sunny side up egg embedded in the bottom. Sambol is served as an accompaniment, we chose coconut.

We were warned about heat, but then, we always are and are always let down by wimpy-ness. Sigiri comes through, they really do mean hot when they say it. Our devilled prawns, which were grilled, came with onion, chiles and were slightly sweet and sour, but mostly spicy. The black curry was probably a notch hotter. We thought hoppers were eaten in lieu of rice, but had to order a bowl on the fly to combat the burn.

The staff, or at least one waitress, seemed to know practically all of the diners. I don't know if everyone was regulars or if the Sri Lankan community in NYC is just really small and restaurants are so few.

Sigiri * First Ave., New York, NY

Baby, I Can’t Wait

The last Urban Outfitters catalog that found its way into my mail pile spazzed me out by the rampant showcasing of leggings and stirrup pants. I eventually calmed down, the dismay faded from memory. Until last night when I got home after eating at Sigiri, a newish Sri Lankan restaurant in the East Village (black curry and hoppers rule) and observed that a new Urban Outfitters catalog was waiting for me in the foyer. Ok, lately I've been super tired and lazy at night, so I could be mistaken, but I swear one of the photos had a girl holding a Nu Shooz record. Not "Poolside," but possibly a 12" single because the art looks very much the same (but to be fair, lots of art from that era resembles each other). I can't be bothered to find my old entry (which could soon be rectified–look for a totally revamped website in the next few weeks) but I know that I've mentioned this Portland one-hit-wonder more than once, if only because it tidily sums up all that I loathe about recycled pop culture. When the kids start turning to a forgotten-for-a-reason NW band for fun and inspiration, you know the world is in big trouble. I didn't actually bother to look up album art last night when I had the catalog near me (I don't currently) because I was tired and have ADD, but don't think I'll forget. This will be rectified this evening, believe, me.

Ok, record geeks. I found the offending Urban Outfitters catalog online, but the image is tiny so you have to drag the "close up" magnifying square over the 12" in the foreground. The more I dwell on this, the more I doubt that it's Nu Shooz, after all. So then, what record is it?

Counter Intelligence

Hey, look at me. I had a real vs. fake food story in yesterday's NY Post.  And I'm not one to care much about being edited, but I will say that I would never use the word succulent. Just so you know, the word succulent didn't come from my keyboard. Thank you for allowing me clear that up.

Tia Pol

I had avoided Tia Pol for ages because I feared it was the type of place that would make me unhappy. You know, tiny, cramped, jostling, long waits. All of that was true, but it didn't bother me. Maybe it was the drinks I'd downed prior to dinner.

One of the main reasons I'd never been to Tia Pol is that it's just not on my way to anything. I finally found an opportunity when I decided to see Architecture of Density, a series of photographs by Michael Wolf at Hasted Hunt Gallery down the street. I never go see art, but I really love these images of Hong Kong and got an invite from the photographer after writing online about how I was just going to blow up color photocopies of images from the book since I couldn't afford the $8,000 (or so) price tags. I always forget that people actually read what I write occasionally, and it's probably not wise to talk about things like flagrantly violating copyright (or tax laws).

So, there's nothing like little bites after viewing large scale photography. There was about a thirty minute wait, and the bar area is narrow, but like I said, it wasn't unbearable. We eventually got a nice two-seater in the back away from the fray.

With tapas I'm never sure if I'm under or over ordering. Our strategy here was to order a decent number of the small sized servings (most items come in two sizes) and opt for more if necessary (I've never actually done this when using this plan of attack, for fear of seeming too gluttonous). A glass of Txakoli made a nice accompaniment.

Grilled sardines with a carrot slaw. There was a distinctive coriander seed sweetness to the shredded vinegared vegetables.

I can never pass up the gambas. My question is whether or not you're supposed to eat the shells. I always do, and the heads too. Is that barbaric?

Chorizo, chocolate and little chile strands. Yes, the combination is peculiar, though not untasty. I think it's just regular chocolate, possibly milk chocolate. I can see it working better with a darker more bitter permutation.

Classic patatas bravas. Weird how mayonnaise can be so blech, but aioli can be so addictive. That's garlic for you.

Blurry lamb skewers. Nice and cuminy.

I can never recall all the contents of a cheese plate after the fact. But there was definitely some marcona almonds, honey covered walnuts, quince paste, cabrales, manchego and idiazabal.

Tia Pol * 205 Tenth Ave., New York, NY