The Great GoogaMooga isn’t looking so hot after getting a major beat down from Sunday’s decision to shut down the “rain or shine” event due to inclement weather 90 minutes after opening. Sure, people hopeful on attending the amusement park of food, drink, and music were disappointed at the cancellation, but that’s just the beginning.
Vendors (i.e. participating restaurants) had already set up, hired staff to man their booths, and prepped a ridiculous amount of food what what was expected to be a hoard of hungry attendees. With vendors suffering major financial loss (some reporting losses of $10-15 K) and what can only be deemed a second disappointing year in a row for The Great GoogaMooga, it’s future looks bleak.
Nonetheless, the good people at the Great GoogaMooga graciously provided me press access to the event. I actually met up with my good friends Matt and Rachelle at the event pre-rain on Saturday morning, and we tag teamed it up so we could sample and eat as much as possible.
I vividly remember my second grade teacher. Mrs. McQueen. McQuaid. Mc… something like that. Maybe not so vividly as I thought. Anyway, I do remember really loving hot dogs right up to the point Mrs. Mc…Quaid (that’s definitely it, yes, McQuaid) told the class that they were made from pigs eyes. I was only in second grade! It was devastating, almost as much as watching that scene in the Lion King where Simba’s dad died.
Her hot dog declaration scared the living daylights out of me, leading me down a sad and lonely frankfurter-free diet for several years. To think about how many backyard bbq hot dogs I missed out upon because of Mrs. McQuaid deeply saddens me. A piece of my culinary childhood gone. Forever.
Don’t cry for me. It’s okay. I’ve moved past it. Hot dogs are back to being a mainstay on the summer grill rotation at our house. Asheley would eat them every night for dinner if I allowed her (which I don’t, sorry hun). And whenever we are in the East Village, our favorite hot dog joint is a must. I present to you the amazing, the magnificent, Crif Dogs:
It’s been such a busy weekend, I think a recap is in order. It all started on Friday when our good friends Joe and Lisa wanted to check out Hearth restaurant in the East Village. Oh, you remember we went there 2 weeks ago and wrote this post all about it? Yea so, we went again! The chef’s tasting menu is such a great value. Totally worth every penny. And since we arrived a bit earlier than our reservation, we pre-gamed with a glass of wine at Chef Marco Canora’s wine bar, Terroir, just a couple doors down.
Saturday was filled with getting the vegetable and herb garden ready. That’s never fun. Asheley made the mistake of offering to help. I don’t think she will be offering that up anymore. Many weeds were pulled. Soil tilled. Compost and other goodies added. Oh, and plants planted. That’s actually the fun part.
Asheley and I hosted Mother’s Day this year. I took the opportunity to experiment a bunch of new dishes on my family. Some were successful and thoroughly enjoyed. Others were… well, at least eaten. I’ll be sharing some of those recipes soon (just the good ones, don’t worry).
Asheley and I love the city. That’s no secret. If we have any free time on the weekend, that’s probably where you’ll find us. Over the course of this past year, we’ve gotten the itch now and again to move there. We just feel at home in the city. It excites us. And when you think about having all this amazing food at your fingertips all the time, it’s tempting. It really is.
So what’s stopping us? Oh, there are a bunch of reasons. Our jobs for one. Another is having to give up our beautiful home in suburbia to most likely downsize to a one bedroom shoebox apartment for the same price. No yard, no vegetable garden, no grilling… it all adds into the equation.
The itch subsides and we return to being content with the almost weekly visits to our home away from home. But then Chef Marco Canora’s Hearth happened. And that itch came back with a vengeance, bigger than ever. I rarely fall so hard for a restaurant, but Hearth did it to me. I think I’m in love. Hubba hubba.
When I consulted our constantly evolving list of restaurants we want to visit and asked Asheley where she wanted to go for her big birthday celebration, Eleven Madison park was immediately a finalist. Le Bernandin and Atera were also big contenders, but fell short of the mighty judgement from the birthday girl. I think those three shiny Michelin Stars reeled her in, and there was no going back.
So, I did what any loving, amazing, top-notch husband would do. I marked on the calendar precisely 28 days before her birthday to call the restaurant to make a reservation (that’s as far out as they reserve). When I called that morning and after waiting anxiously on hold for about twenty minutes, dinner reservations were already sold out, but openings were available for lunch. Hey, we’re flexible and the menu is the same for lunch and dinner (not to mention that natural lighting for taking photos is better during the day anyway ), so we booked it.
Madison Square Park is one of our favorite areas of the city. We know the area pretty well. But yet we somehow had no idea where Eleven Madison Park exactly was located. My phone GPS had us walk up to a giant office building. This couldn’t be it. It’s a huge skyscraper, with no signs of a dining establishment. And then, tucked in the side of the building under a little overhang, was the grand, marble entrance. Cue music.
We weren’t planning on heading into the city this past weekend. It was actually going to be a nice, lazy Sunday at home. Hang out with Asheley. Do a bit of cooking and develop some new recipes. And start planning our trip to the West Coast this summer (it’s in the very beginning stages… I’ll share more on that once we solidify plans a bit).
But then I totally remembered we had a Groupon for Bareburger that was going to expire in a couple of days! We couldn’t let a great deal just go to waste. So after church we headed to Bareburger’s Chelsea location, just a block away from one of our favorite spots, Chelsea Market.
If you’ve never heard of Bareburger, it is a local micro-chain of burger restaurants located throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. Definitely not your average burger joint though. Almost all the food on the menu is organic, including the meat, vegetables, and dairy. And we’re not talking just beef burgers. They offer ostrich, bison, elk, lamb, wild boar, and turkey. With choices like those, who honestly orders beef (or turkey for that matter)? Curiosity alone had me wanting to try one of the rare, exotic meats you rarely see on NYC menus, let alone a NYC burger menu.
My brother tweeted me an article last week from the N.Y. Times which said many upscale restaurants are turning a cold shoulder to cameras. A couple days later, a bunch of other mainstream media sources reported in on the topic as well.
You’ve all seen it. Heck, most of you have probably done it: You’re at a nice restaurant. A beautiful plate of skillfully prepared food is placed down in front of you. You’re excited, so you take out your camera or smartphone to snap a photo. Well, you may want to think again, as apparently some very high profile chefs and restaurants are starting to ban and/or limit photography in their restaurants.
There are two very divided camps on the matter of food photography in restaurants. Some say its highly disruptive to the dining experience, bothering other patrons and messing up the flow of service. The restauranteurs work hard to create a certain ambience, and whipping out your camera takes away from that vibe.
Others argue that they paid for their meal, and they should be allowed to do with it whatever they want. Besides, isn’t sharing your food photos on one of the various social media outlets free publicity for the restaurant? Just the other day I saw a friend post a picture of a dish he was eating from a restaurant I’ve been wanting to try, and that immediately reminded me to make a reservation.
And on the topic of being disruptive, isn’t it equally disruptive when someone’s cell phone starts ringing “Don’t Cha Wish Your Girlfriend Was Hot Like Me?” Or how about when a certain table next to you has one of those really loud, annoying talkers, so you end up having to enjoy their conversation the entire meal instead of your own. Do we start banning cell phones all together? How about loud talkers?
As a food blogger and frequent patron of restaurants, I’m divided on the subject. Can photography be disruptive in a restaurant? Absolutely, especially when the person is inconsiderate. But is capturing those images of food something I really enjoy and part of the blogging process? Totally. It’s hard to talk about and discuss what a great meal I had and convince you why you should go there without any photos to back it up. We do, after all, eat with our eyes first.
So who’s right? And what do chefs think? Is there some happy middle ground where we can all coexist? I, of course, turned to the twitter-verse to ask some of the chefs I follow their opinion on the subject.
Asheley has been running a bunch of 5-Ks the past couple of weeks as part of a Winter Run Series in our area along with Tyler’s Ashley. Personally, I don’t enjoy running. At all. But I will do some running in the warm weather just to enjoy the outside and to appease my running-obsessed wife. Running in the freezing cold though is just plain insane to me.
I’m glad the Asheley/Ashley duo enjoy it, because while they are off at their little cold runs, Tyler and I get time to talk food. This past race day we cooked up and photographed a beautiful Sweet Potato and Kale Hash topped with a Fried Egg. Stay tuned for that recipe this upcoming week. Once the girls returned from their freezing 5K (while Tyler and I were enjoying the warmth of his house with food in hand), we decided to take a little trip into the city to try out Chef April Bloomfield’s newest spot, Salvation Taco.
And then it kind of spiraled outward from there…
So that cleanse that Asheley and I have been doing is officially over. We both are feeling a whole lot better about ourselves, which is a nice change from the fat-fest that ensued during the holiday season. Although we’ve made it a personal goal of ours to try to be a little more health-conscious overall for the start of 2013, we had to celebrate the end of our cleanse with a little indulgence!
This past Sunday we headed into Brooklyn to eat at Chef Elizabeth Falkner’s new restaurant, Krescendo, which just opened a couple months back. Chef Falkner had previously already made quite the name for herself as chef/partner of the popular Citizen Cake and Orso in San Francisco, but lucky for us, decided to leave the West Coast and set up shop right here in Brooklyn.
Chef Falkner has become quite recognizable over the past several years, making various TV appearances on Top Chef and Top Chef Masters, two different seasons of The Next Iron Chef competition, and a smattering of other culinary shows. I’ve always been quite intrigued by the dishes she came up with on The Next Iron Chef. She was a solid contender on both seasons and consistently brought great food to the judges table. And although she previously carried the stigma of only being a tremendous pastry chef, Chef Falkner quickly proved that she’s more than just cakes and ice cream.
Spending a lot of time in the Lower East Side recently, I’ve grown accustomed to and thoroughly enjoy those delicious dumplings served up over at C & C Prosperity. They are the perfect $1 treat in between my typical stops at Doughnut Plant, The Meatball Shop, and Big Gay Ice Cream.
But for a while now I’ve wanted to head down a bit to Chinatown and do a little dumpling tour, stopping at some of the best known spots for dumplings to have a look… or more accurately, taste. And as I quickly found out, you never even have to leave Eldridge Street. How convenient is that?!
So one late afternoon, Asheley and I headed down… headed down to Chinatown: