1. God created Mexican food for poor, starving, summer Brooklynites like me. Is there anything more delicious, filling or cheap as a good plate of Mexican food? A couple of places I've tried recently include Tacombi @ Fonda Nolita and Calexico in Red Hook. I went to Tacombi for some breakfast tacos and horchata with my gal Amanda EK earlier this summer and I gotta say, Mexican food works at all times of the day. Put some eggs in a tortilla, wrap it up and wash it down with some milky almond horchata (the chilled Mexican answer to chai, as Amanda put it) and you got some real fuel in you for the rest of the day. If you do it Tacombi-style, it's even better. The restaurant used to be a garage but they have since gutted it out and put a little VW buggy in there as decoration. The mood is festive with colorful jarritos lining the walls and blue-and-white ceramic tiles making up countertops. It's always a party at Tacombi.
Calexico started out as a food cart but now has two storefronts in Brooklyn. I went to the one in Red Hook, accompanied by my IHPeeps Sam and Jasmine with Sam's co-worker along for the ride. Their pinto bean quesadilla, dipped in any one of their unbelievable sauces, takes me to heaven, with a short stop in Tijuana. A side of grits may sound slightly unconventional, but believe me, dressed with extra-virgin olive oil, roasted corn and jalapenos, it is the best thing north of the border. Get some beer to sink it all down and you've made a night out of it.
I've also been trying my hand at cooking up some Mexican-style dishes myself. I've found relative success with my take on huevos rancheros, which makes a filling high-protein, low-carb meal for any time in the day. Here's the recipe, for those interested:
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 medium red pepper, finely chopped
1/2 large tomato, finely chopped
1 can black beans
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 large egg
3 tbs hot salsa
salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste
- Fry up the onions and garlic in plenty of olive oil until translucent. Add the peppers, followed by salt, pepper, cumin and coriander. Keep cooking until aromatic. Stir in tomatoes, followed by the beans. Allow to simmer while frying the egg sunny side up. Spoon the beans into a bowl, top with the fried egg and some salsa. Heaven.
(I tried also topping it with avocado once and it was a little bit too much. If you do add avocado, make sure to squeeze some lime juice onto it to develop the taste some. Also, if you have cilantro lying around, add some!)
My favorite song on the new Lady Gaga album. Not much to do with food; everything to do with my happiness.
3. Cafes I've tried since my last post:
Kava Cafe (West Village): Sleek design with a nice garden in the back, this place is cute, if a little too 'metallic' for the required dosage of cosiness.
Queens Kickshaw (Astoria): Mentioned in my heavy-handed post yesterday, the coffee is absolutely delicious, even if it seems like it came out of nowhere.
Bluebird Coffee (East Village): Accidentally wound up here after I found out another cafe I've been dying to try, Abraco, was closed in Mondays. Probably the best place so far. Adorable, quiet, quaint, airy, small...and the coffee made my day.
4. Best quick bites in the city:
Asiadog (Chinatown/SoHo): Hipsters-meet-Panasian-meet-hotdogs. Who would have thought it would be so incredible when they came together? A sudden hunger pang brought me in here one afternoon for a "Sidney" veggie dog topped with peanuts, cilantro and thai salsa. My plan for the end of the summer? Gotta try 'em all.
La Piazza at Eataly (Flatiron): Who came up with Eataly? An emporium dedicated to all things Italian, this behemoth of a store has little nooks everywhere that turns into dining venues. What seems to be a popular after-work stop is the piazza, where you can stand and grab some cured meats and cheese. I stopped in here with Hannah, Robert fresh from Rome and Elvria (always Italian) for a short afternoon stop in Rome. We gorged on proscuitto, ricotta, bread, fig preserves and the like, while I was the only one who indulged in wine (too common a theme in my life, I must say).
Punjabi Deli (East Village): A tiny place, their samosa and chickpeas almost brought a tear to my eyes. Samosa chaat is my favorite north Indian street snack and this place does it right. And for $2.25, things just got so much righter. I think I'm in love.
Russ & Daughters (East Village): Established in 1914, this Jewish delicatessen is still doing it up old-school. Their cured fish is incredible, so I picked up some curried pickled herring, a latke and some Romanian eggplant salad for a Hebraic feast. Now this is a place with chutzpah.