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Posts from the ‘New York’ Category

Anchor Bar

1/2 Due to its personal timeliness, I decided to kick off my impossible 1,049 words in three weeks task with Calvin Trillin’s “An Attempt to Compile the Short History of the Buffalo Wing.” It was insightful to get a 1980 perspective on a then relatively recent invention, kind of the equivalent of researching foodstuffs from ’91 today.

Hmm, how about pesto-sauced pizza with artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes? I sure thought that was the ultimate edible at the time. I’m guessing the popularization of “gourmet” pizzas can be credited to Wolfgang Puck…in 1982. Ok, culinary trends took their time meandering up to the Northwest.

Oddly, around 1991 a college friend’s boyfriend came to visit from Rochester during the Super Bowl and insisted we eat buffalo wings to celebrate. I didn’t even know what they were (and had never watched a football game in my life). And he couldn’t find the ready-chopped drumettes in the grocery store. We made do with poultry parts of some sort. What I recall most is drinking so much that I had to call in sick to my movie theater job that evening. Wings didn’t wow me.

However, I’d forgotten that I’d already read this chicken wing essay a few years ago. And to compound my fears of age-onset dementia, if it weren’t for these two sentences I would’ve also forgotten just about everything about ever being at the Anchor Bar in 2000. Wings still didn’t wow me a decade later.


My first meal of 2008 proved more memorable but unfortunately brief. A snowstorm hit Toronto on January 1, which made the drive to Buffalo slow going. But being a fanatical planner, we made it to town just on schedule with an hour to wing it up before needing to head to the airport (the nice thing about small cities is that you can cut it close; returning and rental car, checking in and getting through security can all practically be done in 20 minutes). I was nervous that they wouldn’t be open on the pseudo-holiday because no one answered when I called. But as I was reminded upon entering, the phone number is a pay phone that seems to get answered on whim.

I never thought of Buffalo as much of a tourist destination but it seemed obvious that a majority of the diners were not locals. Everyone, including us, were getting the friendly “where are you from” interrogation from our waitress.

There was no time for small talk. Time was ticking away. I started sweating it when our Sam Adams (no Genesee for us) arrived and twenty minutes later we were still wingless.


I eat slower than a snail (ok, they move slowly—who knows how they eat) so I did my best to get as many wings down as possible when they eventually arrived. We must’ve eaten like maniacs because we surprised our waitress with one remaining wing when checked on to see if we needed a to go container. We ended up with an 8/12 split, I with the lesser number since my wing fanaticism isn’t as strong. I get bogged down by the acidic vinegariness of the neon orange sauce.

In fact, earlier this week I posited the unthinkable.

“What if we made different kinds of wings for Super Bowl?” (ducks)

“What?! Let me guess, some Asian style?”

“Well, duh.”

James knows too well my desire to sneak fish sauce, shrimp paste or sambal into all items possible. And in fact my inaugural issue of Food & Wine, which I’d forgotten I’d subscribed to (see, the memory again) has a recipe Spicy Sriracha Chicken Wings courtesy of Michael Symon.

Hot isn’t that hot but suicidal, the next and last notch up, seemed too macabre. I’m not the wing-maker in my household so I can’t say what makes ours so kicky. A few extra shakes of cayenne, I imagine.

The thing that makes a superior wing is the crispiness of the skin. That’s kind of the point, right? The tiny pieces ensure a good skin to meat ratio and if the outside doesn’t contrast with the meaty interior then it’s a waste of calories. Anchor Bar has the texture down pat. These wings could stand to be left sauced on the plate for some time before giving in to sogginess.


One thing to note is the absence of carrots at Anchor Bar. It’s a celery-only joint, and I kind of like that despite normally being depressed by celery. You need a palate cleanser and something bland to benefit from the fattiness of the blue cheese dressing. Oh,  the dressing should be thick and chunky, almost like spackle so that a celery stick could stand upright if stuck into the plastic container, if you felt like doing such a thing.

We finished just in time for Toronto’s southward-moving snow to descend on Buffalo. Flurries were swirling as we left the restaurant, though not enough to disrupt our take off time by much. And thankfully, we were fortified with enough Tabasco sauce and fried chicken to make it through the bumpy 50-minute journey back to the city. A few sick bags were employed on the short ride and not by me.


Anchor Bar * 1047 Main St., Buffalo, NY

Tim Hortons

I honestly don't think I even consumed a dozen donuts (I just can't type doughnut even though it seems more proper) in all twelve months of 2007–they're not my sweet of choice–but I made up for it over New Year's weekend. And the reason for that uncharacteristic behavior is simple: Tim Hortons. I know they're all over the United States now, but if something isn't in the immediate tri-state area it's still exotic to me.

My donut binge began unwisely at a LaGuardia Dunkin' Donuts. While picking up a 6am coffee, I couldn't resist an artificially strawberry-flavored pink glazed specimen. That might've been a mistake.

I still can't say whether it poisoned me or the tiny plane was the source of my stomach distress, but I was queasy an hour later when disembarking in Buffalo. However, I didn't get violently ill until after popping the two Tums James gave me that tasted like they were made of shampoo, apparently from sitting in the bottom of his toiletry bag for months.

We stopped at a Tim Hortons (which is great because it makes use of what I call the white trash S. Tim Horton is the hockey player. Tim Horton's would the hockey player's restaurant. Tim Hortons is just colloquial. I cringe when I hear people say Barnes & Nobles, Nordstroms, JCPenneys and the like, though just recently I caught myself saying that I worked off Williams St. when it's plain ol' William) on the outskirts of Buffalo and the tragedy was that I was too ill to indulge in a timbit, apple fritter or any of the Canadian chain's specialties. My queasy stomach temporarily stood still when REM's "Driver Eight" came over the speaker while I was hunched over the toilet bowl in one of their bathroom stalls because it was an odd song to be playing. Eh,  and then I threw up in their parking lot and repeated that lovely performance two more times during the two-hour drive to Toronto. Sadly, I never got to sample their excessive coffee, breakfast sandwich and donut combo.


Luckily, I perked up enough to later enjoy a maple-glazed Boston cream donut at a mall where strangely, the anchors were Wal-Mart and nofrills. Maple bars, a total NW staple, don't even exist in NYC; people have no idea what you're talking about if you bring them up.

On our third Tim Hortons excursion I got a butter pecan tart. I forgot about these mini treats that seem to flourish in Canada. They're like tiny individual pecan pies with a thicker richer crust. You can also find plain and raisin topped versions in any grocery store.


We love Tim Hortons so much that after our first visit to Toronto in 2000, we named a plush toy rabbit (James's mom is always giving him pointless and inappropriate gifts) Tim Horton. I don't know what ever happened to him, though this very second there is a nameless stuffed animal reindeer and giraffe in the living room.

Tim Hortons * throughout Canada and random U.S. states

Palisades Center

Palisades I'll admit I'm spoiled (and have a loose definition of what spoiled is) when it comes to malls. I get off on suburbia and have the only-in-New York-would-it-be-a-luxury of getting driven around New Jersey and Westchester on whims. This past weekend I decided to rough it and made the trek to the Palisades Center with two friends, Heather and Molly. Normally, I wouldn't rely on a subway, train and bus combo to go the 35 miles, but why not? It's part of a Metro-North one-day getaways package–it's not like we pulled this idea totally out of our asses. I had a day to kill and I see weekend work in my future so I wanted to seize a remaining free Saturday.

The thing about malls is that realistically you can find most of the stores in "the city." This probably wasn't so true ten years ago and nearly unthinkable before the '90s. Target isn't even the big deal it used to be now that we have (a shitty) one in Brooklyn (ok, two, but most New Yorkers don't go to or even know where Starrett City is). And we have Best Buy, H&M, Lord & Taylor, Macy's, etc. I like looking for the new shops that have yet to infiltrate Manhattan and the weirdo venues that would have no place here.

Forth_towneForth & Towne, The Gap for old women, a.k.a. over-35s (I still have a few years, thanks) is a good example. They sell four different lines of clothing: selected Gap styles, Allegory which is tailored, unhideous and reminiscent of Laura on Project Runway, Prize which is a little trendy and more casual, kind of Anthropologie, and Vocabulary which is definitely middle aged, very caftan-y. Maybe I'm decrepit because a lot of the clothes were likeable and came in my size, which I can't say about a lot of stores. As far as mid-priced grown women shops go, I thought Forth & Towne was more stylish than the likes of J. Jill and Chico's, which isn't saying much.

The strange camp belonged to Fred Meyer Jewelers. Fred Meyer is a NW one stop shopping grocery chain. Why there's a standalone Fred Meyer Jewelers in Rockland County is beyond me. I've never seen such a thing. They also had a store that only sold expensive wooden slides and jungle gyms, Jo-Ann ETC. Plus (which definitely doesn't exist in NYC) and something called Opus Entertainment that still confuses me. I was surprised to see a Kinokuniya–maybe there's a large Japanese community in West Nyack? I didn't see many Asian shoppers. All the ads taped up in the bus shelter were Spanish language promos for bands and other extravaganzas in local Mexican restaurants. But the bus stop might not be indicative of West Nyack as a whole. After all, we were the only white people waiting for the bus, but in the suburbs only poor souls and nuts take public transportation. I forget about these things sometimes.

Ferris Of course, I'm most fascinated by the food offerings. And their ThEATery had options in spades. There were all sorts of restaurants I'd never heard of like FOX Sports Grill and Cheeburger Cheeburger, and ones I've heard of but never seen in person like Q-doba and Fatburger. There was a big ad for coming attraction Café Tu Tu Tango, which I'm still baffled by. I totally don't know what they mean by "food for the starving artist." I ate at Fatburger, T.G.I. Friday's, Kohr Bros and Pretzel Time. Yes, four places. We were there all day, ok?

Palisades isn't just food and shopping, they have an ice skating rink, indoor Ferris wheel, post office and a shuttered comedy club, Rascals. The one thing they don't have and that I've never understood about American malls, is a grocery store. In Asia and Europe (ok, Singapore, Malaysia and Barcelona-I can't speak first hand to the rest of the continents) there's always a huge supermarket in the malls. Did I mention that this is an ugly mall? I'm all for inner beauty but there's a lot of concrete and weird neon and wire fencing and unused space and empty real estate offices and strangely pruned fake trees.

It ended up being a lot of effort for hair color and batteries, my only purchases, but it's about the journey not the destination. I've been a little worried about my recent self-chosen pay cut and frankly, I don't really need anything. I have too many clothes, shoes and bags as it is (of course they're all cheap and not a la minute, but do I really need skinny jeans and "The New Clean" anyway?) and I don't require "work" clothes to do my work.

I'd definitely go back to Palisades Center, but I'd probably bum a ride. See a few more mall photos.

Palisades Center * 1000 Palisades Center Dr., West Nyack, NY

T.G.I. Friday’s West Nyack

Tgi_fridays_mac_and_cheese I was bummed that we didn’t get to eat at Cheesecake Factory during my Palisades Center excursion but we couldn’t risk the hour wait because the last bus back to the Tarrytown train station left at 9:45pm. I would hate getting stranded in the middle of nowhere just because I had to have a Tex Mex Eggroll. T.G.I. Friday’s only had a five minute wait, which was about all I could stand for anyway.

I was secretly happy to try T.G.I. Friday’s because I’d just been talking about their new appetizers. If it was solely up to me I would’ve gone for the battered, fried green beans. But when dining with companions that aren’t your boyfriend you have to be more accommodating. If you’ve been with someone for seven years it’s ok to fuss about things that don’t matter, but if friends and acquaintances want to eat fried macaroni and cheese (I know, I’m the only person alive who’s lukewarm on mac and cheese) it’s no great shakes. Tgi_fridays_quesadillaI’ll try anything fried. I just noticed that Cheesecake Factory does a similar item but served with creamy marina. Why is the marina creamy, anyway? Don’t tell me it’s more cheese.

After a couple Ultimate Electric Lemonades and a Double-Stack Quesadilla, I was fortified for the bus, train, subway journey back to Brooklyn. I didn’t get home till midnight but all the cheese, sugar and grease kept me going.

T.G.I. Friday’s * 1000 Palisades Center Dr., West Nyack, NY


There is a closer Fatburger in Jersey City, but I never get to Jersey City. JC is more of a place you pass through. Yes, as it was pointed out to me, we could've gotten cheaper burgers and fries at the Wendy's also in the Palisades Center. But perhaps Fatburger's value exceeds the 99-cent offerings at its fast food competitor.

Fatburger For one, we received the most pleasant service ever in a mall (or most NYC sit down restaurants, for that matter). Your food is brought out to your table, staff comes around and checks on you and brings you things like ketchup and napkins and drink refills and they clear your tray when you're done. And they smile.

The food is cooked fresh to order you get to choose your burger toppings-I had almost everything-pickles, relish, mustard, tomatoes, onions, and lettuce, no mayo. There is a bit of an In N Out vibe to the place, and since that chain comes nowhere near New York, Fatburger clearly has an edge by default. I had a Baby Fat and skinny fries, which was more than enough and way better than average. I was trying not to ruin my appetite since it was late for lunch but too early for dinner.

When asked my name I didn't spell mine out because I was curious how it would be interpreted. Krista is so not an unusual name but people mangle it 90% of the time. My receipt came back as Crysta like Crystal without the L. Creative.

Fatburger * 1000 Palisades Center Dr., West Nyack, NY

Gus’ Red Hots

Gus Do you know what a Michigan is? I’d never heard of such an edible until we made the mistake of believing an I-87 roadside sign with the generic symbols for food and gas. Ten winding miles later we were in Willsboro faced with nothing more than a ratty convenience store/bait and tackle shop. There wasn’t much in the way of sustenance, they didn’t even have seltzer water, the only thing I could’ve dealt with. James picked up a soda and dill pickle Lay’s. The only thing that caught my eye was an upside down paper plate covering an empty metal vat with “We’re out of Michigan sauce today. Sorry.” chicken-scratched on its back.

Gus_michigansStill starving, we took our chances a few miles up in Plattsburgh, due to a highways sign that said Gus’ Red Hots. I’m a freak for chains in big cities, but there’s no need for that in little towns. I knew red hots were hot dogs. What I didn’t know is that they’re also Michigans. I’m a weirdo who doesn’t like hot dogs so I convinced James to order the combo meal so I could at least look at them. Michigans are essentially chili dogs. These came with a sloppy joe looking meat slurry that had a faintly sweet cinnamony aroma like Cincinnati-style chili. Chopped onions are optional. Gus_french_toastThey don’t use typical hot dog buns, but a top-sliced bun almost resembling white bread. James insisted these are common, though I swear I’ve never seen them.

I had french toast, eggs and bacon. The staples were all diner good, but I was disturbed by the default three mini packs of Smart Balance and synthetic syrup. Being an inexplicable condiment skimper, I only used half a vegetable oil spread and a third of one syrup container anyway. Gus_bearBut whatever happened to butter and maple syrup? Heck, we were only 22 miles from Canada.

I love discovering new regional specialties (and bear art–I loved the painting over our booth)New to me, I mean. Obviously, upstate New Yorkers have known about Michigans for some time. Me, I’m only hip to bar food staple Buffalo wings. Apparently, Michigans can also be found in Montreal, which is news to me. Chili dogs just feel completely un-Canadian. Maybe if they swapped the ground beef for gravy and cheese curds, I’d be convinced.

Gus’ Red Hots * 3 Cumberland Head Rd., Plattsburgh, NY


I knew this would happen. My birthday somehow seemed to get lost in the shuffle this year. This was my annual celebratory dinner from way back in July. Now I've already gone on vacation and it's practically the middle of August. Barcelona is fresh in my mind and Cookshop seems like old news despite being a very charming restaurant.

Every time I've started to describe Cookshop to someone it ended up sounding mundane. Nice or interesting don't really cut it. To say, "I had a salad with blue cheese and bacon" doesn't really cut it. But I did have a salad with blue cheese and bacon. Simply, the food tasted like food…but better, and that's kind of novel. Rather than elaborate, I'll show some semi-pretty pictures.

Nice to see that carbs are back. I could've sworn the dip had tarragon in it, but supposedly it was a creme fraiche and onion blend.

Chile dusted fried hominy is a total appetite killer. I could eat the whole plate myself, though it's probably best suited for sharing.

Here's that bacon and blue cheese salad. I was thinking that it was iceberg, but I think it was butter lettuce. It was one pile of rich, creamy goodness.

Heirloom tomatoes, opal basil and fried cornbread chunks. This is a perfect example of the simple  food food approach.

Sea bass with zucchini and I'm not sure what else since this wasn't my dish.

Grilled rabbit with polenta, favas and salsa verde. This was the dish I was least crazy about. Maybe I'm not fond of rabbit as I thought.

Warm donuts, buttermilk ice cream and blueberry compote.

Brownie, caramel, cocoa covered almonds and what I think was coconut ice cream.

Cookshop * 156 Tenth Ave., New York, NY

Outlet Mall Applebee’s

1/2  "It doesnt look like the picture." Well, of course not. I'm not sure when James got the idea that what shows up on the plate should actually resemble the sparkly semi-appetizing promotional shots. What do you expect from an outlet mall eatery, anyway?

Without intention, the Woodbury Common Applebees has become a Christmas shopping tradition. Some might equate Rockefeller Center, classic shop window displays from Macys and Bloomingdales, the skating rink, giant Christmas tree and the like with the holidays. I'm beginning to associate tour busses, Le Creuset seconds and marked down Gap goods with the season.

Applebees is no great shakes, but compared to the food court offerings (Wasabi Jane's Rice and Noodle Works, anyone?) its no contest. Plus, they have alcohol. And if you go after 7pm the wait isnt even insane (why people will wait up to an hour for chain restaurants is beyond me). I'm not scared of Applebees, even after being told by friends a few weeks ago that this very restaurant (not location) made them go vegetarian two years ago after being food poisoned.

I started with a nice Malibu-spiked Bahama Mama. Classy, and it paired nicely with the nachos, which were kind of unremarkable. I wanted there to be more stuff smothering the chips. Lots of stuff, i.e. melted cheese is practically an Applebees hallmark. I then eschewed the riblets and steak and shrimp combos for a sassy sandwich with Latino flair, Ruebens Cuban Panini. Never mind that by definition a cubano is pressed, people are freaking panini crazy like they were for wraps like five years ago. It wasn't horrible, though the ham had a faint chemical undertone. The bread was the strange (yet tasty) component, it almost appeared deep-fried, crisp, spongy and oily at the same time like a beignet.

And speaking of crunchy, sweet dough, we had to finish with their new dessert the Crispy Bread Pudding, despite already being stuffed silly. It also didn't look like the picture. There wasn't any whipped cream, there wasn't any caramel drizzled over the scoop of vanilla ice cream. The dipping sauce came in a plastic to go container rather than a proper serving dish and we were given two spoons instead of forks. How are you supposed to dip the damn sugar and cinnamon crusted bread chunks with a spoon? I like super sweet sweets, but this concoction almost put me into a coma. Of course, we cleaned the plate anyway. (12/10/05)

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Harbor Crab

I've really only eaten whole crab, cracked from the shell, once. And the
memory is hazy, and the circumstances a little odd now that I think about
it. I tagged along with my best grade school friend and her parents to
Astoria, Oregon where a crab festival in session. Long tables, plastic bibs,
wooden mallets, the works. But I don't actually remember eating crab, just
the surroundings, and how eating crustaceans in this manner must either be a
black or an affluent thing (Ha, not that there were any other black families
there. Really, I figured eating fresh crab must be for rich people. We never
ever ate seafood at home, except maybe fish sticks and canned clam chowder.
This friend's family had a big house, Corvette, and leather couches. They
were classy, though I did find their drinking Pepsi [and eating grits] for
breakfast peculiar—to my knowledge they weren't Southern.)

My crab exposure tends to come via others. James grew up in the D.C.
area and lived in Maryland, so he's a blue crab person. It was his idea to
find a crab shack one Saturday, and I was up for it since I don't have much
experience in the area. It seemed like no biggie, but apparently crab isn't
a hot commodity in the NYC region. We thought Long Island would be the way
to go, but no one specializes in crabs, though there are a few lobster
places. As it turned out, only one place fit the bill, the appropriately
named Maryland Crab House. The clincher was that it's in Sheepshead Bay,
Brooklyn. We didn't want to go to Brooklyn, we're already in Brooklyn.

So, Harbor Crab was a random choice and predictably so-so. Their crabs
were tiny and consequently listed on the appetizer menu. They were also
cheap, but the amount of meat picked out for the energy and time expended to
extract the goodness was no bargain. At least it was fun to sit outdoors on
a floating wooden deck over some body of water, and watch wild ducks and
swans swimming nearby, and drunk locals (or least folks with seemingly local
accents) harass the waitresses and light up cigarettes after being told
there's no smoking on Saturdays (wouldn't it seem like Saturdays would be
prime smoking day?)

The only memorable crab meals I've had have been in Singapore and
Thailand. Maybe I should just steer clear of the American renditions,

Harbor Crab * 116 Division St., Patchogue, NY



Minado is clearly the Japanese version of East
. And if you're familiar with East Buffet, I barely need
elaborate. It's an over-the-top, horn-of-plenty feeding frenzy. The dcor is
definitely more restrained than it's similar Chinese all-you-can-eat, but
being in a Long Island strip mall, you could hardly call it tasteful. It's
not someplace I'd normally frequent, but it's near the Hicksville Ikea and a
person can only take so much meatballs and lingonberry after a hard day's

Of course, there's a sushi bar with all sorts of varieties including one
baffler with pink rice. There are also standards such as teriyaki, wakame,
and edamame. But like any good "ethnic" buffet, there must be American
banquet pleasers a la lobster thermador, and pasta. Being a lover of tiny
not-quite-sweet-enough Asian desserts, I was happy with the rows of light
layered sponge cakes flavored with mocha and green tea.

Load up, but don't waste (throwing out uneaten sushi will net you a 20%
surcharge) and don't overstay the 1.5 hour limit. Ha, we always end up past
the two-hour mark without even realizing it. It's not a matter of being
piggish, it's just that normal, i.e. myself, people eat at a reasonable pace
(you may be aware of my "shovel time" grade school lunch trauma). Everyone
around us came and went, new crops filled the tables while we held our slow
and steady ground. And slow and steady wins the race, right?

Minado* 219 Glen Cove Rd.,
Carle Place, NY