This summer, I injured my iliotibial band. From June to August, I walked and swam to maintain my cardiovascular fitness while I went through withdrawal. Running is an addiction like any other; it requires regular feeding. After adopting an extensive stretching and strengthening routine, I finally began to build my mileage. Although I had been injured previously and taken time off from running, I had never been forced to curtail my activity so dramatically. Back at square one, I had my moments of weakness: I insisted that I was done with running, that I would never run again, that I was finished as a runner, that I needed to move on with my life and forget the joy of running. But once a runner, always a runner. Continue reading
Monthly Archives: October 2011
October on Bayard Street tastes sharp like radish and blue zinc; Chinese mothers carrying cucumbers and mackerel quicken their step, bundled in black cloaks against the cold; schoolboys slurp hot and milky tea in Taiwanese snack shops; the rare tourist pauses and studies his subway map in confusion, for he has wandered far from Canal Street and needs a woman, clutched like a chicken foot, to guide him West. Against the current of the crowd sweeping over the sidewalk, flowing between lampposts and parked bicycles, pushing from Mott to Mulberry, head buried and burrowing on, a fruit stand is set. Its lights shine on tangerines and the season’s last grapes, shrunken and timid and priceless. Swimming against the mob I grab a jackfruit for dear life and poke my head above water, breathing in the light before surrendering myself to another block before dinner.
Inside Xi’an Famous Foods, I ordered spicy and tingly lamb face salad at the cash register. The morning had been a matter of anticipation, the afternoon an exercise in agonizing delay. Lunch: peanut butter and jelly on English muffins. Milquetoast fare for cubicle living. At long last, I had found the center of my office maze and escaped the gray and white and leapt free from plate glass up, out, over Midtown, across Hell’s Kitchen (sneaking peeks into ramen noodle houses and peep shows), down the West Side Highway and East, due East, into Chinatown. After changing my twenty and taking a seat, I listened to the call, “28, order 28,” and then “29,” and then, mercifully passing over the next number, “31, lamb face salad.”
I am watching Anthony Bourdain eat off my plate, fending off his pernicious fingers with a pair of chopsticks. Continue reading
If you have ever wanted to eat chicken cordon bleu on a sandwich—and you probably have, since a sandwich is cordon bleu gone convenient, edible sans knife and fork while stooped on a street corner feasting among the salary men and flannel—Hamdel can satisfy your desire. The Cordon Blue—not a typo—includes a chicken cutlet or two, thin-sliced ham, mozzarella, and blue cheese dressing. All stuffed into a toasted hero. Great heavy, heaving hearts! Trapped under thick bedsheets of yellow fat! Midterms are upon us, and yet, times have not turned desperate enough to justify a Cordon Blue dinner. Respect your health and pick a different poison. Continue reading
I like the smell of smoke on a girl’s cheek. Among so many tired perfumes, hickory’s blue blush is supernatural and alive. Like a shaman shaking herbs over dim coals or a stigghiola vendor dropping hunks of fat into the fire to lure hungry fishermen, the Bleecker Street hustler atomizes pork ribs and deep fried bacon. Smoke is an erotic weapon of mass destruction that demands respect and deliberation.
Zach Bell, Yale University
As a newcomer to the New Haven Restaurant scene, Box 63 has a long struggle ahead. Conveniently located at the corner of Park and Elm, Box 63 is across the street from Davenport and Pierson, and within walking distance of off-campus housing on Lynwood, Edgewood and Dwight. Box 63 has a potential audience, but questions remain about its ability to retain a crowd of regulars.
According to their website, Box 63’s “…focus was to create a welcoming hangout that blends iconic American comfort food, healthy portions and unique cocktails, in a classic rock in roll environment.” Box 63 calls itself not merely a bar and grill, but an “American Bar and Grill,” where we are supposed to relax and put our elbows on the table. They want to create a culture of warmth, a place where a regular or a stranger can sit down and everyone knows their name. That kind of atmosphere takes time to develop, requiring a combination of good product, good service and an air of familiarity. Box 63 has quality service, no question there. Yet, for the other two criteria Box 63 tried to go too far too fast, obsessing over its design concept, instead of letting its culture grow organically.
I have spent a day in Philadelphia without sampling a single cheesesteak. In fact, prior to this evening, I had never eaten a Philly cheesesteak, authentic or otherwise. Although I consider myself an aficionado of America’s rustiest, crustiest cuisines, the prospect of beef shards smothered in government cheese ties my duodenum in knots. I never sought out the cheesesteak, and one never found its way into my hungry hands. The Tour de Hamdel is, however, merciless—its nauseating path forces encounters with your very personal, very horrible culinary nightmares. Despite my initial hesitations, I am happy to report that Hamdel’s Philly Cheesesteak, if far removed from the “City of Brotherly Love,” is not an entirely unpleasant sandwich. Continue reading
Andrew Giambrone, Yale University
Anyone familiar with New Haven’s dessert scene will undoubtedly frequent one of three boutiques near campus for a late-night snack: Ashley’s Ice Cream on York Street, the newly opened Mochi Store on Crown Street, and, of course, the California-imported FroyoWorld on High Street. But last Friday, a new dessert store called Flavors opened next to (the infamous?) Toad’s Place, drawing crowds eager to test out its self-serve frozen yogurt. Intrigued by its bright colors and light-hearted atmosphere, I entered the store expecting just another spin-off of FroyoWorld. To my surprise, I discovered a store with a great degree of variety, a friendly staff, and a ton of space to boot.
Although I do not fast on Yom Kippur, I still believe in having a big meal to finish off a day of reflection. Repenting builds a hearty appetite. Last Saturday, I was in New Haven visiting my brother and celebrating my dad’s birthday and atoning for my sins. For dinner, we decided on Sally’s Apizza. To beat the crowds, we started out for New Haven’s Little Italy at 5:30. Despite best laid plans, we found ourselves at the tail end of a line stretching down the block. Under ideal circumstances, I hate waiting for pizza. Pizza is a food group that comes with a promise: sustenance served fast. Nothing like a punishing wait for pizza after a day of atonement.
Zach Bell, Yale University
This year, food carts and trucks have been cropping up all along York Street. From the Ay! Arepa truck at York and Elm, to a halal cart at York and Chapel, students now have more options to grab food on the go instead of shuffling in line at Durfee’s. In this series, I’ll try each of the mobile food stations parked on York. This week, I tried Ay! Arepa.
Ay! Arepa made the news in September after chef Ernesto Garcia, former chef at Ay! Salsa, left his stationary kitchen to open his own mobile business. Leaving Ay! Salsa (owned by his brother Franco Gonzalez), Ernesto brought much of the menu with him, offering a very similar variety of arepas and burritos.
It was an ancient barn door, varnished and mounted on crude stumps, set in our kitchen like a fallen tree grown over with hairy moss, permanent and rotting into the floor. We ate dinner around that table every night. Yet, of all the meals I ate there, all the smoked pork shoulders and venison steaks and lemon pies, I most clearly remember tuna melt Mondays. We would set out a relish tray piled with dill pickles and pimento-stuffed olives, baby corn, sweet pickles and hot pickles, unsalted cucumber chunks and beefsteak tomatoes slices, sprinkled with iodized salt till they wriggled like squirming slugs. Here’s how we made the melts: three spoonfuls of tuna salad on Thomas’ English muffins, American cheese peeled out from between waxy paper sheets, and then, a ten minute wait for the cheese to melt—ample time for lingering over a pickle nosh.
Today, in New York, it’s not hard to find a corner diner spitting out serviceable melts. Continue reading