Zach B., Yale University
When I came home from college for winter break, my Dad requested that I bake him a raisin pie, also known as “funeral pie.” A favorite of Old Order Mennonites and the Amish, raisin pies were traditionally baked for funerals due to the availability of ingredients on short notice and its ability to keep well for several days at room temperature.
Once again I decided to attempt a homemade crust, using a 3-2-1 ratio recipe. Unfortunately, I must have added far too much shortening (a half butter, half shortening crust for a balance between flavor and flakiness), as the dough was extremely sticky, not pea sized crumbles of fat. So I added another quarter cup of flour, and then another… and another, until the consistency felt correct.
I listed Sushi Yasuda as number ten on my 2010 bottom ten list. Why? In January 2011, the restaurant’s namesake chef, Naomichi Yasuda, is leaving to open a small sushi bar in Japan. Just a few weeks after I arrived at Columbia as a freshman, I turned 19. Without my family and closest friends, I felt alone on my birthday. In order to celebrate, I went to Sushi Yasuda, seeking an education in nigiri from one of New York’s most acclaimed practitioners. Notorious for enforcing a set of sushi-eating rules and his uncompromising fish, Yasuda ruled the sushi bar with authoritarian precision. With his smiling eyes and deft hands, however, he made even the most inexperienced diners feel welcome. I wrote about my dinner for the Columbia Daily Spectator’s now defunct blog, Spectacle. My birthday blues obliterated, I left Sushi Yasuda confident that I could return in the future after visiting New York’s other noteworthy sushi spots
Marc P., Princeton University
Located on Witherspoon Street, just across from the Princeton Public Library, Zen Modern Asian (http://www.zenmodernasian.com/) offers a wide variety of Asian dishes (think curry to katsu) at fairly reasonable prices. Though the restaurant has only been in business a few months, the atmosphere is comfortable and the restaurant well-run. To be fair, I did have the luxury of being the only occupied table in the restaurant due to the odd hour of my lunch, but service seemed solid. Continue reading
Over the past four months, I only ate home cooked food Thanksgiving weekend. Besides the peanut, cashew, and almond butter sandwiches I slopped together in my 100 square foot dorm room, I ate nearly every other meal in delis and restaurants. Needless to say, I feel exhausted both with the New York dining scene and the decidedly less than gourmet offerings in Morningside Heights. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good egg-on-roll-with-cheese as much as the next guy. Week after glorious week of sandwiches, however, begins to wear on the soul. (Panino Sportivo does serve some seriously delicious sandwiches though. I never get tired of the Ludi or the Pontus.) What I wouldn’t give for a decent roasted chicken that doesn’t set my budget back $20, for simple, honest food without pretension. The institution of eating out has become too much for me.
During the holiday season, magazines and blogs start putting out top ten lists: best restaurants, best dishes, best new chefs. Sitting in LaGuardia, eating my Auntie Anne’s pretzel and feeling a solid year slip off my life as a result, I’m feeling a bit of a Grinch. So, instead of a top ten list, I’ve prepared a bottom ten, the ten food trends/people/places/things that have annoyed me the most over the past four months. Bear with my grumbling. Continue reading
Jess C., Colorado State University
At 10 years old, I remember looking down at my lunch tray at Reed Elementary School and rethinking the food I was about to consume. I saw the hot dog before me and for the first time in a while, I really considered what this product consisted of. Factory-farmed, cruelly tortured, sustained inhumanely, and then brutally slaughtered animals, I realized, went into a lot of what I put into my body. This hit me, and it hit me hard. And so I vowed to go vegetarian, casting all animal flesh out of my proverbial “lunch tray.” This lasted on and off for around a month. I gave up, a defeated 4th grader.
It wasn’t until two years later that I actually did my research, watched several documentaries, read up on factory farming, and made the informed and firm life choice to completely switch to vegetarianism. I told my mom that I, Jess, at age 12, was trying again. And it stuck! I have yet to eat meat or wear animal by-products since taking that vow. I’m very proud of myself, for now, at almost age 20, I can still call myself a proud vegetarian.
I am, so far, the only vegetarian voice on the College Critic, and I have something to quite proudly declare: MY place of higher education, Colorado State University, has just been voted #7 in Peta2’s Top Ten Most Vegan-Friendly Colleges of 2010! I’m thrilled. You can see the blurb about CSU and why we’re a rockin’ vegan place to be here. Continue reading
Melissa A., Dartmouth College
In a small town called Hanover in rural New Hampshire, Dartmouth’s off-campus dining options may seem hopelessly limited. This cozy little town, however, has enough off-campus dining locations to satisfy a Dartmouth student’s desire to break away from the usual dining halls. A frequented favorite of Dartmouth students, families, and Hanover locals is Molly’s Restaurant and Bar. Molly’s Restaurant and Bar prides itself on being a Dartmouth College tradition, and its atmosphere surely shows it with its Ivy League memorabilia and local sports photos and artifacts. The restaurant also seems to play the role of the unofficial Hanover Historical Museum. Continue reading
Fish Tag is worth the (reasonable) price tag.
Mocked on Eater New York for his confrontational twittering and “flightiness,” Ryan Skeen has been lambasted for moving from one restaurant gig to another all too quickly. Known for boldly seasoned, meat centric food, Skeen’s aggressive culinary style matches his media persona. Before joining Michael Psilakis at Fish Tag, Skeen held the head chef position at 5 & Diamond. After reviewing 5 & Diamond for the Columbia Daily Spectator, I concluded that Skeen’s status as chef-pariah was undeserved. Although a public relations nightmare, Skeen is a competent technician, a creative force in the kitchen, and unabashedly showcases his style. In short, Skeen is a far better chef than the vast majority in New York. Grub Street tried to provoke Skeen into responding to my (not particularly negative) review, hoping that he would take to twitter and let loose a Tom Colicchio worthy rant. Instead, Skeen sent me a message telling me that he respected my writing and my review. When I found myself out of a job this summer, I reached out to Skeen for help. To preface this review, I think that Ryan Skeen is a stand-up guy and a chef worthy of recognition beyond the public relations war room. I was known to the house, and received three complimentary dishes (which are marked with an asterisk * where discussed). Despite my pro-Skeen bias, I believe this review remains as objective as possible. I enjoyed Fish Tag, and hope that Columbians will take the short trip down to 222 West 79th Street for a student friendly meal. Continue reading
Zach B., Yale University
The world of New Haven burritos is a wide and varied one. From national chains like Moe’s Southwestern Grill, to the numerous carts lining Elm and York streets, burritos are a common choice for quick lunch. In contrast to the more well known spots, many people walk right by a small restaurant called La Granja (The Farm), located on Whitney Ave.