Saturday, January 21, 2012

Greenpoint Groupons, Goodies & Gems

We've been keeping it local lately. It's too cold to go venturing out on long walks like we do in the summer. Even walks along the bus route is risky. Does the B62 even exist anymore? Luckily we've had some Groupons and new openings around Greenpoint to keep us occupied.

Spritzenhaus, right on McCarren Park, is fun and lively even in the winter. Our Groupon got us an order of double dipped fries with a homemade condiment (we chose sweet & spicy bbq and Greek yogurt sauce), and any sausage or brat with any topping. I had the artisanal Argentinian (beef sausage, rosemary, garlic) with caramelized onions and peppers; he had the duck sausage with bacon, jalapeno and fig spread topped with sauerkraut. Both very good and hot off the grill. It reminded me a little bit of San Francisco's Rosamunde Sausage Grill, but it's not quite as good as the west coast.

Ah, Paulie Gees. Seems like PG gets so much press, the place is always crowded, people rave about how its the best pizza ever. I'm trying to like it, but can't quite get there. No doubt they've done wonderful things with the space since it was quiet and secretive Paloma. We went when they first opened awhile back, and the service was slow and the dough was undersalted. We had Motorino nearby then, so we didn't see a need to come back. But now that Motorino's out of the neighborhood and we're starved for quality pizza, we headed back to see if changes had been made. Yes, and no. The salt problem seems to be resolved, but the bottom of the pizza is SO unforgivably soggy. And the balance is all off. The Hellboy sounds like my ideal pizza (Fior di Latte, Italian tomatoes, soppressata picante, parmesan and hot honey) but there was so much pork and so little cheese and sauce that it just felt sloppily thrown together. Same with the Cheek Corea salad, with chick peas, hardened bits of old pasta, red onion and lemon juice. But the crispy guanciale was good at least.

No. 7 Sub opened a block away from us on Wednesday, at the corner of Manhattan Ave and Kent St. I'm excited, but it also makes me nervous for the neighborhood. Usually Manhattan transplants head for Bedford Ave (like the Meatball Shop). I wonder if this will set off a chain reaction.

Anyway, I'm a fan of No. 7 Sub, but I wasn't too impressed with what we brought home Wednesday. The General Tso's Tofu had way too much ginger, and the beef brisket was a little fatty. I'll have to try a few others off the Greenpoint menu before I write them off, though. I hope they stay open late; it's a great place for a night cap and a better alternative to bodega sandwiches.

Brooklyn MAC. It's this borrough's answer to the East Village's S'mac (and it might be even better). I like the idea of building your own, always hot and creamy inside and crunchy on the outside. I usually go for a combination of smoked gouda and bacon (they call that one the Red Hook) or something equally salty. They also have a great salad called the McCarren Park with baby spinach, candied walnuts, gorgonzola, apples and raisins, but they add way too much balsamic. Ask for it on the side.

 There are a few great places hidden away in the northern part of Greenpoint, too. The Lobster Joint has been pretty quiet since its winter and all, but they have a great creamless lobster bisque with herbs. It warms you from the inside out. Milk and Roses, which used to be a daytime coffee spot only, has morphed into a cute nighttime respite. We had a Groupon for a wine and cheese pairing for two. Walls of books, a grand piano, oil lanterns, hushed conversation, a girl curled up on the couch with a book and a cup of tea. I love this place even more now. And the owner's a nice Italian man that always waves when we walk by. 

 33 Nassau Ave

Paulie Gees
60 Greenpoint Ave

No. 7 Sub
931 Manhattan Ave

Brooklyn MAC
77 Norman Ave

Lobster Joint
1073 Manhattan Ave

Milk & Roses
1110 Manhattan Ave

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Busy in the Kitchen

Lately we've been spending more time cooking up meals at home rather than going out. It saves money and the hot oven keeps the apartment warm, but most of all it feeds a need to create.

For breakfast, sometimes it's as simple as scrambled eggs with a toasted slice of Stollen leftover from Christmas. Or its a bit more complex with crab cake benedict/eggs florentine on corn English muffins with Sriracha hollandaise and crispy brussel sprouts, oven baked until they're almost carmelized.

For lunch, a simple grilled cheese with pasta fagioli and a little parmesan.

And my favorite recent dinner: scallops from Chelsea Market, pan seared, served on a spinach and watercress salad topped with a warm dressing made with blood oranges and honey tangerines. Full credit goes to America's Test Kitchen for this one.

Brunch at Eighty Four on Seventh

Yesterday afternoon I headed to the West Village for a late brunch with a few girls. It's rare for me to leave Brooklyn for an early meal on weekends, especially during the winter, but it seems like the brunch crowds are much more manageable on cold days.

Eighty Four on Seventh was only about half full at 2pm on Saturday. There was only one girl serving all the tables, so the service was a bit slow, but it was nice for a leisurely brunch. Definitely different from the typical long wait and subsequent rush to turn tables at Brooklyn Label.

Hot coffee with steamed milk to start. I had the fennel sausage with honey biscuits, poached eggs and gravy. The biscuit was soft and sweet and the eggs were cooked perfectly. If only it were a little hotter, it would have been perfect.

My friend had the much prettier house cured peameal, which is a type of Canadian bacon, served on top of a potato pancake and topped with sunny side up eggs and cheddar cheese. I didn't get a picture of the frittata (tomatoes, zucchini and feta with pistachio pesto) but that was delicious as well.

We also split an order of jalepeno hush puppies with maple butter dipping sauce -- crispy, savory, salty, sweet. 

84 Seventh Ave South