The Halal Guys

I had dinner from the famous halal cart on 53 st & 6 ave which in itself is an experience. In Arabic, halal means permitted or lawful. Halal foods are foods that are allowed under Islamic dietary guidelines according to the Qu'ran. Most importantly it's delicious, specially and exclusively here at this street cart. The cart opens for business every night from 7:30pm to 4:00am, where hundreds of people line-up every night, all night for their turn to order; while, rubberneckers pass by asking "what is going on here?" The $6.00 combination platter consists of a trio of meats including ground beef, minced lamb and chopped chicken accompanied with yellow rice, lettuce and pita . However, the Pièce de résistance is the yogurt sauce, meant to be poured all over the top; beware though, the chili sauce is HOT! This meal is reminiscent of the chop-chop from Chicken Kitchen in Miami but better!


Room Service in Hell's Kitchen

I walked around Hell's Kitchen tonight and went into my favorite jewelry and accessories shop K. Charles where I never manage to walk out empty handed. The shops owner is so nice and helpful.

Afterward, I went to dinner at Room Service the new Thai restaurant in Hell's Kitchen. Another Thai restaurant in Hell's Kitchen you say? YES! This particular space is decorated exaggeratedly over the top with a swanky crystal chandelier enclosed inside a glass case in the center of the restaurant and the stools at the bar are clear so, the entire place just seems to glisten like a giant gem. The food is another story. They seem to pride themselves on traditional Bangkok style cooking but, they still need to work on the simple things like bringing food to the table hot. An appetizer of honey glazed ribs were sent back for just that reason. Rice was cold too. The corn spring rolls were good and the Pad Thai was hot and tasty as was the chicken & shrimp stir fry which holds a disclaimer on the menu which reads, "This plate can’t be adjusted to suit American tastes." which of coarse means it is spicy but, I was up for the challenge and I won! The restaurant does not yet have a liquor license however, they are very accommodating with their BYOB policy which was great since there is a liquor store at the end of the block where wine and beer were bought.

Best part of the meal was going to Amy's Bread for desert. The cinnamon croissant muffin type popover and coffee were YUM! I love Amy's Bread!


Kiss me I'm Irish... today!

Craziness ensued through the city streets today on St. Patricks Day. Drunk lil leprechauns hanged out of crowded pubs everywhere after the annual parade that marched up 5th Ave. The parade ran long with tireless marching bands, kilt wearing bagpipers, more bagpipers, and even more bagpipers. I watched the parade from 57th St and 5th Ave in front of Bergdorf Goodman; then, I ventured across to the street to FAO Schwarts and Louis Vuitton to look around but not before getting coffee at Bottega del Vino, a charming European style cafe where I chatted up a couple of tourists from Puerto Rico. Later, I had a couple of nontraditional pints of beer in plastic cups at Rumours pub on 55st and 8th Ave. Dinner consisted of a buzz curing burrito from Blockheads.


No meat on Friday/Portuguese Octopus

Octopus a-la-Macao Trading Co. restaurant

Recently went to Macao Trading Co. for dinner. They specialize in Chinese/Portuguese fare and is really more trendy than anything. When dining there you order a lot of dishes served family style. I ordered Chinese spare ribs, bacalau fried rice, ants on a tree, and Portuguese tripe which I modeled my octopus recipe after.

So here's what I did:

1.5lbs. raw Octopus from the fish monger. (cut it up with shears at home), sprinkle with a bit dried thyme.

In a bowl add but don't mix: 1 spat butter, 1 can MARZANO crushed tomatoes, 1/2 can chickpeas, one bunch of "fresh" basil leaves, tbs Goya sofrito, salt & pepper. (reserve)

In a deep pan heat some olive oil, sprinkle red pepper flakes (pizza flakes), add a thinly sliced onion, and 5 chopped fresh garlic cloves and heat through, then add octopus until cooked in seconds!

Stir in *prep bowl to octopus. Let simmer on low heat until bubbles slightly. (lemon opt)

Serve with a scoop of quinoa made according to package.

Sorry Macao, mine is better!


The Juror and the Criminal

I had to go downtown after being summoned for dodging jury duty. Really, who likes jury duty? So, went downtown and was sat in the principals office, or that's what it felt like anyway. I got the matter resolved by picking a date to serve. Can't beat the system I suppose. The interesting thing was that this was the same day as Bernie Madoff [with your money] appeared in court and was hauled-off to jail. Downtown was a-buzz and the court house was on lock-down with security. It was great! I say throw away the key and make sure to get his wife and kids too. But really, he couldn't have pulled off a 65 billion dollar scam by himself as he clames or with his small staff. IT'S 65 BILLION DOLLARS! That money must be invested and stashed in infrastructures, governments, and economies all over the world. It's $65 billion! Hey, here's a thought, what if I would have served in the Madoff trail? I know, I know...he pleaded guilty already. Would've been fun though.



The 50th year anniversary of Tibet's oppression under Chinese government was today and thousands assembled in protest. The march began in Brooklyn then over the Brooklyn bridge towards the United Nations where others like myself waited in unity and chanted hoping to get the attention of the United Nations. The protest was very well organized, a lunch of turkey sandwiches and bananas was graciously distributed. Flags, pamphlets and buttons were provided and t-shirts for a $5 contribution. After assembling at the U. N., the march continued through the streets of New York City towards the Chinese consulate on 42st and 12th Avenue. There we demonstrated for about an hour before heading back to Union Square. Tibet has been under Chinese rule for "too long" as one chant sang, and something must be done to protect the human rights of the Tibetan people. They should be able to express themselves freely and be able to practice their faith without the fear of religious persecution which caused the exile of the Dali Lama. Tourists and the press are currently being denied entrance into Tibet by the Chinese government in order to hide the atrocities that are being committed against the peaceful Tibetan people and their Nation. The international community must address the issues in Tibet and demand change immediately. China needs to back off once and for all; the world is watching!


Sunday Brunch and SOHO Shopping

Spring Street Natural prides itself on being a natural and organic restaurant, but on my visit it didn't taste like either. The brioche french toast with berries was bland and they didn't give enough syrup. The Salmon egg Benedict looked and tasted sad. Even the coffee was flat. Too bad. Balthazar's next door was packed as usual, maybe that would have been a better choice for brunch. Shopping was great, everything from Uniqlo to Anna Sui. A report recently came out that perhaps the recession would kill off SOHO slowly; doubt it.

Rare Bar & Grill

Rare Bar and Grill has two locations, I went to the one on Bleeker St. and walked around the area first. The bars were packed and so were the tattoo parlors. The RARE burger is fantastic and so are mini-burgers trio. It was chef’s choice of the week and apparently blue cheese and bacon were on his mind, along side a very Caesary salad. The taste of anchovies and egg in the dressing was strikingly good. For starters, the French Fry Tasting Basket has a mix of cottage, shoestring & sweet potato fries with 4 dipping sauces and is hard to pass up but, instead beer battered onion rings replaced my sweet potato fries. The dipping sauces were kind-of boring, the chipotle ketchup is so 90's, and the maple syrup mayo was just gross! If I may make a suggestion to replace these with wasabi mayo, ginger katchup, key lime mayo and piri-piri katchup. After dinner, we went to Rocco's bakery and bought some mini Italian pastries to take home. Took a cab home, too stuffed for the subway. Good Grub Night!


Friday Night Nosh'n

Okay, so we went to St. Mark's Place and decided to cheap eats it for the night. Started at S'Mac which exclusively makes macaroni & cheese (yes, you read right). I had the 4 cheese nosh size $6.25. It came pipping hot and gooey. Then, I walked over to Pommes Frites this place only makes Belgium fries. They're thick and fried fresh then stacked in a paper cone and topped with your choice on mayo, mine was horseradish $4.50. It's a really good snack while walking around. Somehow then we ended up at Sing Sing Karaoke where well, you know... After drinking the $20.00 minimum required in Japanese beer and enjoying the show, specially that of the very entertaining 6ft. tall flamboyant geeky Asian guy singing Beyonce's "put a ring on it" while fanning himself, we ended up at Mamoun's Falafel for a falafel sandwich, so good for $2.50 (beware of the hot sauce).