Someday I should photograph my recipe binder. There are magazine cut-outs, computer print-outs, Whole Foods fliers and cardboard pieces torn from boxes. Inside the binder was the recipe for these corn fritters, a dish I’ve been wanting to make for what seemed like eons. Knowing I had some leftover frozen corn kernels occupying my freezer and knowing I had the apartment to myself, I thought it was a good time to cook a proper meal and take some photos of my work after eating out so much lately. But before I started, I realized I wanted to make some changes to the recipe.
This weekend set a new high (low?) for random eating: 3:30 a.m. pizza on Friday night/Saturday morning, chocolate donut breakfast followed by a veggie hot dog and popsicle for lunch, a three-course meal at the uber-affordable Fiat Cafe in Nolita, an Indian food buffet, plate of bruschetta with coffee at a cafe and scarfed-down slice of pizza en route to the movie theater. At the moment, I feel ill just thinking about it, but over the weekend, it felt like bliss.
The highlight of all of it was the ever-so-simple but surprisingly gourmet donut at Dough in Brooklyn. On Saturday, my friend Kara and I made plans to meet there for breakfast before a trip to the Brooklyn Flea Market. (We went to the brick and mortar location; little did we know they actually sell Dough at the Flea. Doh!)
Even though it’s rare to find me eating chocolate before, oh, 2 p.m., I wanted something classic. Here, my beauty. Breakfast of champions, no?
Last year I went to the Natural Gourmet Institute’s Friday night dinner for my birthday, and it was such a great experience, that I knew my friend Avni would love it for her birthday, which is just a few weeks before mine.
Unlike me, she’s strict vegetarian, but like me, she appreciates the value of local, seasonal and home-cooked food. Also like me, Avni loves The Real Housewives of New York City, and former Housewife Bethenny received her culinary degree from the Insitute. Food with a reality TV connection. What could be better? Well, what was better was that this was an Earth Day-themed dinner with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Green Guerillas, a non-profit that helps grassroots organizations cultivate community gardens.
Now that I’ve gone to the Friday dinner twice, I can say with certainty that this is a must before you leave New York. Here, a glimpse at our fresh, healthy and surprisingly filling dinner:
I moved to Nolita at the end of last August, and the move turned out to be perfectly timed to the opening of Fonda Nolita, a casual taco restaurant, which debuted in the neighborhood mid-September.
For the unsuspecting passerby, Fonda Nolita looks like a garage with some folding chairs and a Volkswagen parked inside. But, oh passerby, you are so wrong!
Fonda Nolita is, in fact, a Manhattan branch of a Playa del Carmen taco joint. Yes, the first branch is in Mexico, and the second is in NYC. We are lucky here. Makes up for some of the other awful crap we deal with.
Among the tables, folding chairs, lines of Mexican sodas and absolutely lovely strings of lights is a “Tacombi” (the aforementioned Volkswagen), which dispenses an array of tacos, all for $3.80 each. There’s also another taco station — not a VW — at the back that makes the more labor-intensive tacos, like crispy fish tacos (YUM!) and, one of the few no-taco items on the menu, chicken soup. But veggie-lovers, don’t fret; you have plenty of options, too.
Between my multiple birthday-related meals and a recent weekend trip to Austin, it had seemed like forever since I cooked a proper meal. (Boiled egg sandwiches don’t count.) It usually helps my motivation if I have a guest over, so yesterday I had my wonderful friend Shyema over for a meal. We handled the appetizer (a roasted tomato salad that really did not photograph well) and the entree (baked macaroni and cheese), while she indulged us with some pastries from Ferrara Bakery in Little Italy. (I was so eager to dive into them that stopping to take one, two or 10 pictures was out of the question. Whoops!)
But back to the meal itself. Armed with whole wheat orecchietta I recently bought in Little Italy, I decided to go with this recipe for baked macaroni and cheese. It worked out because even though we had such a balmy, summery Sunday, by 8 p.m. it was pouring rain and nothing says let’s-curl-up-on-the-couch quite like mac ‘n cheese. I’ve experimented with healthier recipes for macaroni and cheese, but I’ve got to say it’s not the same as the full-fat version.
Before I headed out to Austin, I got to celebrate my actual birthday at a restaurant I had been dying to go to: Jehangir Mehta’s Mehtaphor in Tribeca. You may know his name from the teeny-tiny Indian fusion restaurant, Graffiti, in the East Village, but at Mehatphor, he brings a similar flavor palette to a much sleeker, WAY more specious venue — the Duane Street Hotel.
It opened last October, but amongst my friends, it only recently because a hot topic. My friend Such had visited Mehtaphor a few days before me, while my other friend Mahati had also been recently. On top of that, Time Out New York (also my friend?) featured Mehtaphor’s Indian street style burgers in a recent issue. So basically, it was high time I paid a visit.
So off I went on that rainy birthday night last week with my boyfriend and brother. Although the boy is a vigorous meat-eater, after a recent string of work-related steakhouse dinners, he was more than happy to join my brother and I for the vegetarian dinner menu. See, what’s so great about Mehtaphor is that they have two separate menus — one with meat and the other with vegetraina spins on all those meat dishes.
I’ll spare you the veg vs. non-veg menu comparison this one time because we had everything off the veg dinner menu, save for the truffle goat cheese pizza and potato green stir fry. Want some meat? Check out the non-veg menu here.
So like I said, Mehtaphor’s set-up is a total 180 from Graffiti’s. That means space, space and more space. Go to Graffiti on a rainy Tuesday night without a reservation and you might not get in; go to Mehtaphor on a rainy Tuesday night without a reservation and you can get prime seating.