A.G. Newsletter #37: Nicky's, A Corn Cookie, Ushiwakamaru, Lolita's Protest, Papa Payard & ABC Kitchen

A.G. Newsletter #37: Nicky's, Ushiwakamaru, Lolita's Protest, Papa Payard & ABC Kitchen

Hello out there,

What a difference a week makes!

After turning my book in, suddenly I was inspired to try new things, to go new places, to eat things I'd never eaten before.

And so, if you didn't see the post I did this morning: last week I went to WILLIAMSBURG and ate a sandwich called The Capn's Daughter at a place called Saltie, then I drank a New Orleans style iced coffee at Blue Bottle. (Click here to read all about it.)

Otherwise, adventure was the name of my game. For example, after reading that same issue of Time Out New York I mentioned in that Saltie post, I decided to try the Banh Mi sandwich at a place called Nicky's in the East Village:



It's a tiny hole-in-the-wall on East 2nd Street between A & B. The thing to get there is the classic banh mi which is precisely what I got:



Did I love this take on the banh mi?

I liked it. It's better than the one at Baoguette, but not as good as the one at the jewelry store in Chinatown (see here).

The meat was funky enough that I asked a scary question on Twitter: "What parts of what animals am I eating when I eat a classic Banh Mi?"

The answers were alarming too, though this diagram was helpful.

All-in-all, if you're in that hood, give it a try, but not worth a trek.

Moving on:

On Friday night, Craig and I were craving sushi. The West Village is a tough place for sushi. There's Tomoe, but I'm not crazy about it plus it's mighty pricey. So we ended up at Ushiwakamaru which is also pricey, but I like the name. It's fun to say. We each got a sushi dinner that came with the following sushi + a soup + a hot towel for cleaning your hands:



Do you really need to know what all of that stuff was? Let's just say there was fatty tuna, there was salmon, there was uni, and there was that sweet eel sushi (unagi, I think it's called.) Yum!

Now for a cute cat moment.

I've discovered that my cat, Lolita, has a form of protest if she doesn't get the food she wants. The food that she wants is wet food, but I only give it to her once a week because she gobbles it up so fast, often she gets sick. Most days it's just dry food. So she meows all morning for food and when we go into the kitchen she meows her excitement, until she sees she's getting dry food and not wet food. Then she does her form of a protest. She shuts up and goes into the living room and just sits there glaring:



I thought that was funny enough to share (though please ignore the mess in the living room.)

On Saturday, Craig and I went to SoHo and on the walk back I insisted that we go to Payard for an afternoon treat. That treat was the Papa Payard, a tart for which monsieur Payard is famous. Look how pretty:



Basically it's poached apples and pears with cranberries in a clafoutis crust. It's lovely and, despite how decadent it looks, rather light. A perfect afternoon snack.

Finally, last night I joined my parents for dinner at ABC Kitchen, Jean-Georges's restaurant in ABC Carpet.



Two things to know going into this story:

(1) My dad's criteria for a good restaurant is a restaurant that has celebrities;

(2) My mom keeps our house like an ice box and is crazy about good air conditioning.

Ok, so knowing those two things, you'll understand my concern when I arrived before they did and saw a sign up that said the air-conditioners were broken. The place was warm, though not stifling.

When they arrived, we made the executive decision to stay and as we walked to the table I worried that my dad wasn't going to like this place (a far cry from his favorite restaurant, Campagnola, an American-Italian joint on the Upper East Side.)

But as we sat down I noticed that, at the table next to us, was Chris Rock and his family. I pointed it out to my dad and he was delighted. The rest of the meal was a cakewalk.

We started with the crab toast that my mom read about online. It's basically fresh crab mixed up with good mayo and spread on butter-slathered toasted bread:



How could that be bad? It wasn't.

What was truly amazing, though, mind-blowingly so was the drink that I ordered (on the left): a Basil Lime Dacquiri.



This was so good, I'm going to study the recipe (see here) and re-create this at home. It tasted like the freshest basil ever but in drink form. (My mom's ginger margarita, on the right, was also very good.)

My parents arent shy about ordering food. After the crab toast, we also ate this clam pizza (and this was before appetizers and entrees). I like the way they think:



The crust was good, not great, but the topping had an intense, buttery clam flavor and then everything was taken to a higher level with pickled jalapenos. (I'm a firm believer in pickled jalapenos.)

I went crazy over my appetizer, though; an appetizer of shaved sugar snap peas with lots of lemon juice and Parmesan served in endive:



If spring were packed into a firework and the firework went off in your mouth, this is what it would taste like. I loved this dish---I would pay good money for the recipe (though I think I may be able to re-create it just based on tasting it.)

As for my entree, the black sea bass was elegant and refined but a little too hum drum, despite the super spicy chili sprinkled over it.



My mom enjoyed her wood-fired lobster, though for the most expensive dish on the menu, it should've come with some sides:



And dad liked his fried chicken, but didn't love it:



The desserts were nice. I think I liked the plate they served my rhubarb tart on as much as the tart itself:



My parents shared a sundae with caramel ice cream and candied popcorn:



All in all, ABC is a great place to have dinner, even without air conditioning.

Ok folks, the adventure continues this week... lots of fun stuff coming up. Keep your eyes on the blog.

Until next time....

Your friend,
Adam (The Amateur Gourmet)

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