this and that and why i cook

Arancini Bros, NYC

The title of this post over-promises a bit. I’m only going to get a little philosophical. I’ve got about seven different blog posts in the works and dozens of photos from recent food ventures around the city I’d like to talk about, and yet the words aren’t coming to me. No, I don’t mean I’ve got writer’s block, although I understand why that happens to bloggers from time to time. I just mean, nothing feels very important to me right now. One thing I’ve learned lately is that I don’t much like cooking for myself. Heck, I don’t really bake for myself either. The baking is more obvious though — I make a big batch of cookies and bring them to the office to share. In fact, while some bakers might drop off their goodies by the water cooler or coffee machine for anyone to try, I keep my containers of cookies, bars, etc., in my office. If you want a snack, you’ve got to stop by and visit. And believe me, a lot of people aren’t into that kind of thing. They’d rather pick up a treat anonymously, but that’s not how I work. If you want something sweet, you’ve got to at least say hello. So what does that say about me? Well, maybe I’m a needy guy? Or perhaps I just bake for the attention? Or maybe it’s a social thing? I’m a social baker. Does that make sense? But back to cooking — I’m not doing it so much lately. When I’m alone, cooking isn’t on my mind. Yes, I’m always running around the city to try out the newest hot spots, but to me that’s different. I’m talking about making dinner, for myself. Yes, tonight I made myself a huge batch of shrimp jambalaya which I’ll be snacking on for a couple of days, but that’s not the norm. Most days lately I’ve got so little interest in cooking, I sometimes forget to eat at all. And as I type those words, I realize that doesn’t sound very much like me. I guess I’m still adapting to change. At least for me, these things take time. First up, some amazing arancini from Arancini Bros. at the Hester Street Fair. When I first encountered these guys at the fair last year, they didn’t have a shop. Well, now they do.

Brooklyn Taco

Speaking of Hester Street, I tried this spicy veggie taco from the Brooklyn Tacos stand recently. That drink in the background is a cantaloupe agua fresca — yes, I’m trying to branch out a little.

Xiang Ying, Chinatown, NYC

Would you believe I’ve been to this place (I think it’s called Xiang Ying) three times already (Marc, Jason, Hazel, Margaret) and still not taken a photo of the food. Well, if you like really hearty hand-pulled/stretched noodles and dirt-cheap prices, I suggest you give it a try.

THELEwala, NYC

I have a thing for Indian street food, and MacDougal Street seems to be the hot spot for it lately. Thelewala is the newest place in the neighborhood for rolls and chaats, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be going back soon to try more.

Zabb Elee, NYC

Zabb Elee, NYC

Speaking of group outings, Jackie put together a small one to try Zabb Elee just before the Times reviewed it, which inevitably means it will be tough to get a table there for a while. But what really made the meal was the expert ordering by April. Yes, I’m sure we could have winged it, but instead we just let April do all the work. I can’t say enough about how much I like this place, but be warned — this is seriously spicy Thai, like the kind of stuff you usually have to go out to Queens to get.

Myron Mixon barbecue

Maybe you braved the crowds for the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party — personally it’s too much of a mad-house for me. But I really lucked out and got to try Myron Mixon’s bbq a few days early at a private party. OMG, the ribs. Unreal.

Hecho en Casa

Yes, I stopped by the Renegade Craft Fair, somehow dodging the rain. Yes, it was awesome, and I bought myself some cute tea towels and an oven mitt. No, they didn’t have much to eat, but I did manage to try a shrimp arepa from a stand called Hecho en Casa.

Smashburger, Brooklyn

Smashburger in Brooklyn… order a rootbeer and hopefully they’ll offer you a frosted glass. That really takes me back to my childhood.

Smashburger, Brooklyn

Ah, but what about the burgers? Well, I can’t vouch for the classic because I had to order the Brooklyn Burger, topped with pastrami and Swiss and served on a pretzel bun! How could you not order that? I love how they present the burger, by the way, open face to savor before you add ketchup to taste. And the fries rock, just so you know. Maybe best of all — it’s on De Kalb, just down the block from Junior’s.

P&H Soda, NYC

A quick shout-out to P&H Soda which I spotted at the New Amsterdam Market… mmm, grapefruit.

Pie Corps

Speaking of New Amsterdam Market, I picked up a salt cod & feta hand pie from a stand called Pie Corps, but I was captivated to this work of art. You probably can’t tell from the photo, but this thing was huge. Anyone want to joint me next week to share one of these, because it will be on my mind every day until I get a taste?

Doughnut Plant, NYC

A cashew doughnut from Doughnut Plant. And that’s a strawberry-lemonade on the side. The strawberry flavor was amazing. The doughnut was amazing.

Wichcraft, NYC

And a ham & cheese from ‘wichcraft, which has turned into my go-to spot lately for meet-ups nearby Union Square. Thanks, Olga and Jennie, for always listening.


25 thoughts on “this and that and why i cook

  1. I think it’s a social thing, and that, my friend is a good thing. Baking, cooking, photography bring me together with people who have those common interests, and if we are lucky, we make a few friends along the way, a few became like family to me, family are those we let into our lives. Now, I was doing okay until I got to the ruben, and I’m doing the 30 day shred so its hands off for the moment, but I’m salivating.

  2. Are you saying that you bribe people with your baked goods? πŸ™‚ I agree with you and Elle that food (sweet or savory) is 85% social. We usually get together over food and the best memories are from shared meals. I also get bummed when I don’t have someone to share the food experience with so we could talk about and analyze it.

    1. ha, not so much a bribe as a little social exchange. and if there is a little praise, that never hurts. and it sounds like you understand what i’m talking about.

  3. That is a serious line-up of foods. As for single dining, I go in waves. Somedays, I’m all over it. Other days, I’m having pita and a beer for dinner. I think it’s totally solid that you make people come to you for baked goods.

  4. Now I wish I did come over since the jambalaya was the first meal you made in weeks! It’s definitely a social thing and maybe you should host a potluck or dinner party…good excuse to cook!

  5. YOU HAVEN’T MENTIONED YOUR GIRLFRIEND JENNY IN A LONG TIME, COULD BE THE REASON FOR LOSS OF WANTING TO COOK AND NO APPETITE??? THERE IS ALWAYS LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL, KNOW YOUR FAITHFUL READERS CARE ABOUT YOU AND I AS A LOYAL FAN FROM CA. ALWAYS LOOK FORWARD TO READING YOUR BLOG. HANG IN THERE ADAM!

    1. hmm, you must be a long-time reader if you picked up on that… thanks for the kind words. btw, i’m laughing that you know my ex’s name but called me “Adam”?

      1. SOOOO SORRY, FIRST TIME I”VE SUBMITTED A COMMENT, SO MAYBE A LITTLE NERVOUS. LOVE READING FOOD BLOGS, AND AM A FAITHFUL FOLLOWER OF YOURS.

  6. You are sooo lucky to live in a place like NYC where there are so many amazing places to eat, and an unbelievable variety at that. I am sort of addicted to cooking all the time, whether for friends or just for myself or my family, but I would surely eat out all the time if I had the dining options like you do in New York. San Diego is slowly improving its game. πŸ™‚

  7. dear justin:
    i’m so sorry i did not read a thing you said as i was mesmerized by all the food porn photos.
    (at least i’m honest and now starving)
    you are so lucky to have all these fabulous places to eat.

  8. It’s easy to put cooking on the back burner when you live in New York, and from the look of your recent meals around the city, you definitely haven’t been deprived.

    I like that you’re a social baker, and I wouldn’t call it needy at all. What’s the point of eating a fantastic cookie that was seemingly baked in a vacuum? I like knowing where my food comes from, ESPECIALLY if it’s something delicious and sweet. πŸ™‚

  9. I totally get what you’re saying. I personally enjoy the verbal (and sometimes non-verbal) reactions from people when they eat my food. It’s so much more food so see that real-time rather than hearing about it later :o)
    Sorry to hear about the breakup with Jenny. I found out a week or so ago when I saw your FB status. I was like “what??? single? no way!”. But you’ll get through this. Just hang in there!

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