Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Your very own can of tuna

A grey Monday, suffering a hangover fuelled by the toxic memory of one too many Cafe Noir margaritas could mean only one thing for TLOML. A Reuben.

A Reuben, for the benefit of my British readers, is a sandwich of beef, sauerkraut, swiss cheese and thousand island dressing. No, not my choice of hangover fodder either, but it was just what TLOML was craving.

So we went to check out our local diner, the Chelsea Square. We already thought it might be a little divey, since it's open 24 hours, which is never a good sign. That suspicion was confirmed on reading the menu:

You know you're on thin ice when they mention by name the brand of the mass produced English muffin they use. And that brand is, well, pretty bog standard. I mean, we're not talking about Poilane here. Nor even La Brea Bakery or Delice de France.

And how about this for a treat: your very own can of tuna.
That's right, at Chelsea Square they aren't going to stiff you. They'll open up an entire tin of the fish of your choosing. I was tempted to order it just to see if the actual tin arrived.

Instead I stuck with the salad I had planned. Spinach and mushroom and very generous it was too. And TLOML got his reuben, which he described as 'exquisite'.

So all in all, a good showing for the Chelsea Square, which bodes well for the eggy breakfasts and late night cheese toasties that lie in our future. It just goes to prove the eternal truth - in search of hangover food, go divey.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Old school vs new school

Yesterday we had lunch with our favourite New Yorker, at the David Burke Kitchen in the James Hotel in Soho. The James Hotel is a bit of a hotspot, or so they would have you believe. Their press release claimed the building 'anchored' the South West corner of Thompson and Grand Streets. Which is quite a claim - was it at risk of slipping away before the hotel was built last year? We had a nosey at the Treehouse bar upstairs,  and the enthusiastic host said 'hotspot!' in a dramatic stage whisper and with a knowing wink. And Jimmy's, the roof top bar, was impossible to get into even for three well dressed New Yorkers on a quiet summer Sunday afternoon. Their website says 'we apologise for our success', by way of explanation for their aggressive door policy. Snide!

So yes, the James Hotel is pretty into itself. Probably rightly so. It's gorgeous. And the David Burke Kitchen, also a hotspot, deserves its reputation. It's a lovely restaurant, full of cute touches, like the peanut brittle you can help yourself to on the way out. I had the pretzel crusted crab cake, which was mental (good mental) and an outstanding lobster cobb salad, heavy on the lobster and super fresh.
It's like a massive crab cake, with pretzel sticks all around it. Crazy but good.

It was a very good lunch. And afterwards, we wanted to celebrate how great it was with a drink. But, as I mentioned, Jimmys was not so welcoming. So instead we crossed the road to Cafe Noir, a bar which has been anchoring the North East corner of Thompson and Grand for decades.
Cafe Noir was considerably busier and messier than this yesterday

Cafe Noir is possibly the perfect day time drinking den. It's just one of those appealingly scruffy, straightforward bars where the concept is simply drinking. It's open sided to the street for good people watching. They had a DJ spinning reggae mixed with a little Amy Winehouse, his personal tribute. It was danceably good fun in there... or was that the grapefruit margaritas talking?

Reflecting on my sore head today I concluded that when it comes to a fancy lunch, new school is the way to go. But when it comes to solid afternoon drinking, old school wins every time.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Romance in the city

In search of escape from the Rabbit Hutch, and the phenomenal heat (did I mention how crazy crazy hot it is right now in NYC?), TLOML and I went to the cinema yesterday afternoon. To be inside on a gorgeous sunny day would normally wind me up, but this week in New York inside is the only smart place to be.

We saw Midnight in Paris, which is charming, witty and funny. Owen Wilson plays the lead, and pretends to be a normal sized person throughout really quite convincingly. But we were once on a flight with him - the Maui>LAX route popular with all those blond, stoner, surfer actor types - and he is teeny tiny.

Anyway, like I said, he was very good in it. And it is a lovely movie. We held hands throughout and kissed when it finished. It was that sort of movie. Though TLOML staunchly denied my accusation of him looking a little soppy.

Then we wandered to Chelsea Market to buy fish, bread, cheese and fennel. Bouillabaisse night! Well, when we're feeling all romantic, nothing else will do. My way with fishy soup is, I am sure, the reason TLOML is going to make me his wife. The first time I made it, he had three helpings, and then I took the stockpot away from the table. Ten minutes later he leapt up and ran to the kitchen where he continued eating it direct from the pot. Yeah, he really likes it.

Luckily for TLOML, I love making bouillabaisse just as much as he likes eating it. It's one of those satisfying meals which requires a long shopping list worth of ingredients, is quite elaborate, and yet is impossible to mess up.

I use this recipe, with a few changes. For starters, I don't bother steaming a whole lobster. Once or twice we've tossed a lobster tail in, but it seemed like overkill. This is meant to be a peasant fishwife's soup, after all. But I don't take logic to its natural conclusion and only include fish that is landed on the French Mediterranean. So we include whatever looks good - Littleneck clams, Mexican scallops and some squid made their way into yesterday's effort. And so long as the fish is salt water, it doesn't matter which ocean, I figure. We had halibut, mahi mahi, and something called wahoo. Once it's been cooked up with all the good stuff it all kinda tastes the same anyway; you just want something that'll hold it's form a bit. Oh, and crabmeat, for the opposite reason: I like the way it breaks up and thickens the sauce in a lovely crabby way.

The real labour of love for me is the rouille: that garlicky, lemony saffron mayo you stir in, or spread on the bread you pour the soup over. I think it's essential and tastes just properly like actual Provence in a bowl. It's a labour of love because you cannot buy it in the States for love nor money. Trust me, I spent as long looking for it as I did for lard and in this case the answer does not lie in a Mexican supermarket.

So I have to make it myself which anyone who's ever made mayonnaise knows, is no mean feat. It's a long slow business. You have to add 1/2 a pint of oil drop by drop, beating in every drop entirely before adding the next one. It goes on forever, and your wrists quickly tire from the constant slow beating, and only the fear of failure - curdling! the horrors! - stop you from tossing the whole thing in a Magimix. It's worth it though.

We ate our bouillabaisse on the roofdeck as dusk gathered over a sweltering city. Then we agreed that eating a big stew was making us kinda sweaty, so we went indoors to watch Tosh.O and eat icecream in the airconned rabbit hutch. That's romance.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Book of Mormon

TLOML and I saw The Book of Mormon last night, thanks to the savvy foresight of our favourite cultural guru. It's the hottest ticket in town right now and she booked it, it seems to me, before Parker and Stone had even hired the theatre. Seriously, she's that good.

It was a treat to see the show that everyone's raving about. It was great to catch up with our cultural guru over some killer margaritas. (I opted for frozen, because - have I mentioned this? - it's so damn hot here at the moment). And it was a huge treat to be in a large airconditioned theatre in the middle of this horrible heatwave.

Given that The Book of Mormon is a musical from the creators of South Park, I was expecting hilarity and irreverence. But who knew it would also be so educational?

We don't have a lot of Mormons in the UK, so I had a lot to learn.

Did you know all Mormons have to wear special Mormon underwear, which looks like a kind of Victorian romper? And that they believe after the resurrection, Jesus popped in to America on his way up to Heaven? And that most of this and their other tenets are based on the translation some dude made of some 'gold plates' with ancient scripts he found in his backyard in upstate New York, which an angel called Moroni tipped him off about?

Me either. You live and learn. Join me on my educational journey by watching this neat summary of what the Mormons believe:

And a history of the roots of the religion:

Friday, July 22, 2011

Welcome to hell / I heart NY

'Welcome to hell' is what TLOML said when I showed him this weather forecast. (In American this is 104 degrees!) TLOML is right. It is hellishly hot.

We miss Malibu's temperate clime, the ocean breeze and cool starry nights. Sigh.

So I'm cheering us up by pointing out great stuff about NYC that we didn't get in the 'Bu. Reasons to heart NY.

Like the fact that tonight we are going to see the Book of Mormon, satirical and musical work of genius and the hottest ticket in town.

And we can saunter down leafy streets like this:

Chelsea has lots of lovely brownstone streets. I like.
And cool buildings that pop up out of nowhere like this:

It's unassuming but really cool. And in the middle of a nondescript block. Just nice.

And this:

And buy slices of pizza from dudes like these pros:

...although maybe not on a day when NYC is hotter than the sun.

Five reasons not to be a hater. I'm trying, New York, I'm trying!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Crisp expansion

 Is a bag of crisps in England still 25g?

I mean a normal, snack size, something to munch on at the bust stop packet. Not those silly 'grab bag' 'family size' packets which pretend to be for sharing but are really for binge eaters.

I did a quick look on Tesco.com and it seems that indeed, British crisps still come in 25g bags.

Which is interesting because over here in the land of the free I bought a 'single serving' bag of Sunchips today. It was 57g.

Just saying...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cut price gin, that well known health product

Healthcare in the States is really confusing.

I'm not talking about the hoops you have to jump through to actually get care (I think I'll save that rant for another day, but here's a sneak preview: there's a reason the US has one of the worst infant mortality rates in the developed world.).

And I'm not talking about the fact that prescription drugs are advertised as if they are somehow consumer desirables. I think I covered that already.

No, today I am mainly thinking about the places you go to buy the stuff to make you feel better. Pharmacies, chemists, or drug stores. These have evolved over the years so as well as selling stuff to make you feel better, they sell stuff to make you look better - since as every yogabunny knows, feeling better and looking better go hand in hand. So that venerable British chemist, Boots,  now stocks not only medication, bandages and vitamins - but also make up, and that amazing serum everyone went nuts about a few years ago.

I can see how that sort of remit might evolve to include tights, washbags and hair bobbles too. And nce you're in there buying your suncream it makes sense that they'd sell you film and photo processing, back in the day, too. And every retailer should stock sweets by the till, of course.

But over here in the land of the free they take it a whole lot further. Pharmacies here sell cigarettes and alcohol. That's right. Health stores, selling cutprice booze and cancer sticks. Is it me or is that just massively incongruous? The CVS we used to shop at in Malibu had way more floor space given over to booze than to first aid. They stocked everything from boxes of pink wine of indeterminate origin and kegs of beer, to massive bottles of Tanqueray at rockbottom prices.

Weird, confusing and - sorry to sound judgemental - but a bit wrong.

And one more thing. These are healthy herbal lozenges, designed to soothe a sore throat:
But don't they sound more like a rather unsavoury character who lurks about street corners at night bothering the working girls?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hot in the city

This post is dedicated to all the New Yorkers I have met who, on hearing I'm from London, say 'wow, betchya don't miss the weather'.

Actually, I do. The weather outside is frightening! Leaving the apartment is like walking into a steamy shower room. I retract all my previous advice about walking in the sunshine. New advice: DO NOT WALK OR OTHERWISE ATTEMPT TO PROPEL YOURSELF ANYWHERE. At least not between 6am and 10pm.

Unless of course one of those massive thunderstorms roll in - as they often seem to do - in the late afternoon. In which case, it will be lovely and fresh outside. For an hour, till the temperature rises again. Grrr.

It's extremely hard to look as fresh and lovely as this young lady when it's so hot that, literally, your calves are sweating.

Malibu has famously amazing weather so of course the contrast I experienced on moving to NY  is pretty painful. But even compared to London, New York weather SUCKS.

I don't know why London gets such a bad rap. Just look at the facts:
This chart shows average high temperatures in London versus New York. Look at that crazy summer high! And the crazy low (and the average low in NY is well below freezing)! How on earth are people supposed to equip themselves for tropical heat and artic cold, in a city where the average wardrobe is the size of a shoebox? Frankly it's inhumane.

And the rain... to think London gets labelled as rainy, when NY has literally double the rainfall.
The rain is annoying- but it's the injustice I can't bear!

Right, rant over. I'm off to have a cold shower.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Park Life Reconsidered

Maybe I was being a bit churlish, pouring scorn on the scrappity bits of dust New York claims as parks.

I took a long walk yesterday - from Chelsea to Williamsburg, no less. On my way through the West Village, Greenwich, Nolita and Soho, where the grid system breaks down and little triangles emerge between the diagonal roads, I saw lots more of those scrappy/ crappy parks.

This one is called Little Red Square, and is not much bigger than the Rabbit Hutch:

This one is called the Playground of the Americas, which is rather grand considering it consists of a single slide.
Like I said, I'm a spoiled Londoner. Plus I have happy memories of all those beautiful, well managed parks in LA. Sure, you had to pay $15 to park, but they were so well equipped!

Still, this is New York and the standard is different. Rather than deriding these lame efforts - perhaps instead I should applaud the bravery and sheer insouciance of a city that says 'yeah, that's our park, whaddayagonnadoaboudit?'.

These neighbourhood corners are not really parks so much as statements: 'eff you, this city's so great, and central park is so awesome, we don't need anything more than a bench and a tired looking tree on our block'

Or, as the Euro would put it, go big or get out.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Do dogs even like icecream?

I found further evidence of the canine craziness that grips New York when I passed this pet shop yesterday. They were hosting an icecream social. For dogs.

We don't really have ice cream socials in England, so I was puzzled. But too busy picking my jaw up off the floor and taking that picture to ask them what it was.

Thanks to wikipedia I now know it that it is pretty much as it says on the tin: a party where you eat icecream.

So let me spell it out for you. This petshop was hosting a party for dogs, during which they serve the dogs icecream. And they had guests! People were actually there hanging out while their dogs ate icecream.

Clearly the heat has gone to everyone's heads.

Park life

As a Londoner I feel particularly well equipped to comment on parks. London has absolutely nailed it, from the formal gardens of Regent's Park and the contained gorgeousness of St James Park, to rambling Hampstead Heath and the vast frisbee field of Hyde Park. And then there are all those pretty little garden squares, little hankerchiefs of green bordered by grand terraces. Yup, we've got great parks in spades.

You could be forgiven for thinking that New York has just the one park. You know, that big one in the middle.

Central Park is brilliantly conceived and perfectly executed. It's so bold to have carved out this huge block in the middle of Manhattan to be a great big park. On photos like the one above it looks to me like the mansions and towerblocks which hem it in are about to march in and take it over. Fortunately the borders are secure and what goes on inside is protected. Thank goodness, for it is a fabulous park. I love the gently curving paths, the quaint redundant bridges, and the clever zoning - from the shady delights of Strawberry Fields to the softball fields of the Great Lawn.

The only small flaw is the fact that drinking in public is illegal, making civilised picnics with a bottle of rose a subversive act. Londoners would never stand for it. Actually, some New Yorkers don't either. Apparently there is a secret margarita guy who roams Sheeps Meadow surreptitously squeezing lime and serving margaritas to those who dare.

And that's not all. New York has some great supplementary parks too. I like the Hudson River Park which borders the West side of Manhattan. Sure, half of it is a thin path for runners which passes rubbish processing sites and car pounds. But the rest is a lovely chain of riverside plazas, green piers, tennis courts and skate parks. And let's not forget those pretty, European style garden squares of Bryant and Madison Parks. Or the elegant High Line.

Plenty of these parks are dog free, and all are smoke free. Which as someone who doesn't like dog poo or smoke, I appreciate. Also, brilliantly, most of the kids ones have sprinklers - essential in the summer.

So yes, New York's parks are ace.

But... a word of advice. Putting a few railings up and installing a bench does not a park make.
Balsley Park: a case in point. Not every empty square of land merits park status. Look at the size of it:

It's a tenth of a block! There's a CVS two blocks away which is bigger! In any other sane city this would be an ignored scrap of wasteland. Perhaps an impromptu carpark, or a place for a couple of skips (as in dumpsters) to live. But here in New York, people are so pathetically grateful to have somewhere to sit outside their rabbit hutch that they put a fence around it and call it a park.

My advice? Stick to what you're good at New York: the grandiose, ambitious parks. The small friendly stuff, I'm afraid it just isn't you.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Garbage State

New Jersey, that is. Rather than The Garden State, which is optimistically emblazoned on New Jersey license states, New Yorkers know it as The Garbage State.

In 1954 the State Governor refused to sign a bill to add 'Garden State' to NJ license plates (it passed anyway), because "New Jersey is noted for its great strides in manufacturing, mining, commerce, construction, power, transportation, shipping, merchandising, fishing and recreation, as well as in agriculture. I do not believe that the average citizen of New Jersey regards his state as more peculiarly identifiable with gardening for farming than any of its other industries or occupations."

He was right about the garden bit. But as for fishing and recreation, that was lost on the rest of the world too. The Garbage State has stuck. To be fair, it's not as damning a nickname as it sounds: it's just that most of NYC's rubbish gets sent to NJ for disposal.

I tried to keep an open mind about New Jersey. From what I see, gazing across the Hudson from the top of Rabbit Hutch Towers, it doesn't look so terrible. A mixture of sailing boats and tall buildings facing the water, some trees, a bit of marshland: nothing looks trashy from this distance. Plus I know some smart people who go to the beaches there on vacation. And I saw the film, Garden State, in which Natalie Portman is charmingly kooky against a backdrop of suburban greenery.

And yet...

I have just spent two days in New Jersey courtesy of  Big Corp. Let me tell you, from the pylons of Newark and the relentless concrete of the New Jersey Turnpike, to the sprawl of Piscataway, Edison, and a dozen other connected towns that look just like Slough - it aint no garden.

I think the state marketing team should give up on Garden State. A better branding opportunity arose when Domino's Pizza pulled their sponsorship of MTV's Jersey Shore - claiming it was demeaning to Guidos and Guidettes. I don't know about that. Those drunk, partying, fighting, Jersey folk make their state look like an absolute blast. If a little trashy.

Guess there's no escaping that Garbage State nickname after all.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wedding fever

It must be a sort of fever, that infects people's heads so as they just can't see straight. Otherwise how on earth do you explain the madness?

I'm talking about such craziness as hiring flamingos, which according to Harper's Nick Rhodes did for his wedding in 1984. Blur's Alex James seemingly had a Merrie Olde England theme for his wedding, complete with a performance from a troop of morris dancers. I'm sure his guests were delighted.

The pressure is really on at American weddings, where they seem to go all out. Or maybe I've just been spending too much time on Style Me Pretty? When I read phrases like 'our signature cocktail', 'add some pizzazz' or 'incorporating our love of cats, Vietnamese food and helicopters' I shudder. And yet I keep reading. It is oddly compelling. My advice, if you follow the link: ignore the blurb from wedmin-addled brides, gorge on the pictures for a strictly limited time (2 minutes is plenty), and then take a deep breath and step away from the computer.

Googling for examples for this post, I came across this lunatic's site which suggests a car park theme: 'the officiating judge could dress like a parking lot attendant'. I don't think they are kidding. And this photo of a Peter Pan and Tinkerbell themed wedding:
 And a Hello Kitty themed one:
I could go on...

Even if the theme itself is relatively sane, the very idea of having a theme at all is a bit odd. As a wise friend recently put it, surely the theme is 'we're getting married'? I think that's a big enough concept to carry the event.

At our wedding venue last week we heard of more madness. The Chief Organiser lady told us about a couple who paid a knight in shining armour - aka a dude in fancy dress on a horse - to be present throughout their wedding. Then, with the wry smile of a fellow themed-nuptial sceptic, she advised us that no, even if we asked really nicely, we could not release live butterflies. Apparently one couple really did want to open a container of butterflies as part of their wedding celebration.

Can you think of anything more hideous? Half a box of flying insects fluttering up into your hair and face - the other half left as carcasses on the bottom of the box. Yuck. The very thought of it makes me want to go pffff and do the flappy-handed wasp dance.

Essentially, planning to say yes is mainly about saying no. 'No' to the releasing of wild creatures, 'no' to the staging of elaborate tableaux, and, sorry to disappoint our prospective guests, but 'no' to the knight in shining armour. I have TLOML for that, after all.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Rampant consumerism

Tallinn should have been a shoestring budget break. It is a very inexpensive city. Entrance to BURLESQU, Estonia's only 'burlesque-style', is only a tenner. Don't ask me how I know. I suspect it's the cheapness, rather than the World Heritage site status, that makes it so popular with British stag parties.

Still, true to form, TLOML and I managed to unnecessarily spend a bit of cash. Me on a fabulous scarf with pompoms on it, which the seven year old girl in me could not deny.

And TLOML on a Soviet submarine clock. It's a 24 hour clock because they didn't know if it was day or night down there. We thought it was cool and therefore had to have it.

We avoided the darker depths of those funky old junk shops: it's a slippery slope once you start buying clocks with pictures of Stalin on... and the bottom of that slope is Nazi memorabilia.

Then we went to Oxford to do some light wedmin. And then we began to learn just how incredibly easy it is to make snap decisions which will cost us thousands, when we're talking about a party that's a year away.

'Drinks in this fabulous historic venue will only cost three times as much as that perfectly serviceable bar... shall we...?' 'Well, it is quite fabulous and historic... and after all it is our wedding' Boom! just like that two months' rent vanish into thin air.

'It's really not worth spending money on music, no-one will hear it on the lawns.' 'Unless we hire a 12 piece marching band and get them to parade around!' Boom! And we may get married barefoot so we can pay for the band.

So when we returned to NYC, we embarked on a thrift kick. We launched it by going to the Lobster Place in Chelsea Market to buy fish for dinner.

The Lobster Place is truly my favourite shop in all of Manhattan. They sell all the fresh, smoked and steamed fish and shellfish you could imagine. Including random stuff like that weird dried mullet roe, and little sachets of squid ink. So we felt we were models of restraint...

...but having gone in for a piece of mackerel, we emerged with a dozen little neck clams, a dozen oysters, squid salad, and seaweed. And just like that our simple fish supper became a four course fish extravaganza.

Note to self: saving for the wedding might be easier (less tempting) if we shop at Gristedes instead of Chelsea Market. There's something about madheads talking to themselves in the fresh produce aisle that reins in my desire to splurge on the food.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Service with a smile

We added plenty of fuel to the 'can anyone do service like the Americans?' debate this weekend. We travelled from New York - in the country which invented consumerism and therefore service - to London - which is trying to catch up, honest... As usual, every time a waitress smiled or proactively brought water, I said 'see?!' to TLOML. And every time we waited while a waiter studiously avoided eye contact! He came right back at me with a 'see!?' of his own. He got to say it more often. But not by much.

The service in London really is not half bad. But clearly the British hospitality industry is never going to adopt the 'Hi! I'm Candy and I'll be your waitress, how is everyone doin' tonight?' model. And for this I think we can be grateful. Sometimes you just want the food and drink to arrive and dirty plates to be whisked away without all that bouncy energetic interaction.

Then we headed to Tallinn to hang with our favourite glamourous entrepreneur, take saunas with her and her handsome husband and drink brandy for breakfast and vodka with lunch. When in Rome and all that...

Estonia existed under the iron fist of Soviet Communism for decades so service is a somewhat foreign concept. Plus, it snows for about six months a year here: the sunny Californian sensibility is hard to muster up. Still, even the famously surly Estonians have surprised me.

Eating yesterday at a Medieval restaurant (yes, really) our waitress smiled, made cute little jokes, inquired after our health and our satisfaction with the meal. It was rather like being in Medieval Times in Los Angeles except, well, apart from the fact we were in an actual Medieval building and not a 60s prefab, we also did not have to tip 20%.

Look out America! The rest of the world is wising up to this service concept... And at half the price to boot.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Korea Town, NYC

Being a Hapa, TLOML responds strongly to good Korean food. Or maybe that has nothing to do with his Korean heritage, and is just because he's a pretty strong eater all around. Anyway, whatever the motivation, finding a good Korean BBQ in New York was high on our priority list.

Korean barbecue, for the uninitiated, involves cooking lovely tender, fatty beef on a charcoal grill at your table. As the food is being provided by Koreans, they also wheel out an enormous boatload of side dishes so no-one goes hungry. The sides always include potato salad (which strikes me as more Sussex than Seoul). Also the essential, stinky pickled vegetables called kimchi, which all Koreans without exception claim have lifesaving properties. And lots of other little salads, pickled vegetables, and fishcakes.

We also like to order bibimpap, mainly because the name is cute. Apparently it means 'mix', which makes sense since it's a bowl of rice and veg which get, well, mixed. Also chapchae, the cellophane noodle salad.

As an aside, TLOML tells me off when I say 'chop chop' to hurry him up. Apparently it is racially insensitive. So I enjoy having licence to say chop in an Asian environment. It's also damn good: hard not to like a salad that involves beef.

K-town in New York is rather smaller than the one in LA. There it sprawls across half of Downtown and Hollywood. Here it takes up four short blocks, around the Empire State building, which is a part of town we usually avoid like the plague. Still, size isn't everything and we were keen to explore.
Fortunately we have two fabulous friends who have just moved here, and are up for culinary adventures too. So we hit Korea Town last night with the New New Yorkers. We went to Don's Bogam, which is all swishy and modern. They have vents above the grill so you don't leave the table smelling of barbecued meat: some would consider this a bonus, others a loss.

We had mandu (delicious steamed parcels of pork), chap chae, bibimpap and three types of beef. That's what happens when TLOML is given free rein with the meat ordering.

And TLOML also told his story which I consider an essential part of any K-town experience: it's about the time his poor Korean language skills resulted in him saying 'I'm so sorry, have mercy on my humble soul' instead of 'goodbye', when leaving a Korean restaurant. Always worth re-telling that one I think.

Whilst we were in the area we bought some proper Korean kimchi and some cheap souvenir t-shirts. Yes, we pretty much got what we expected from night in K-town.

In summary, K-town NY: tiny, but mighty.