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The Events of Last Friday

The Events of Last Friday

So as you may recall, I had a goal of running 100 miles in May.  A modest goal, no doubt, but for one so ample of belly and short of restraint, it would prove difficult.  And so it was – as the LA/Vegas/AC trips cost me 10 days of running.  I still had 20 miles to go after running a 6 miler Wednesday.  How best to apportion those remaining miles when you are sore as hell with four days to go?

Four 5 milers seemed logical, but I sensed that I needed a day off in there, as I am lazy and needed some drinks too.  Two 7 milers and a 6?  Nah – I went straight Hoover High/Slim Shady on the motherfucker.  Two a day Thursday.  8 mile.  Central Park outer on Saturday (with no shirt, giving something back to the bear lovers out there) and a little 6 miler on the t-mill sunday.  Done.  Now I’m shooting for another 50 before the next trip to The Cove on the 12th.  We’ll see, it’s possible I’ll need full shin/calf transplants soon (getting old blows).

So after the second 4 mile run on Thursday, I decided to reward myself with a little bit of wine and some homemade tacos.  Settled in to watch The Cougar and So You Think You Can Dance.  I know that night sounds pretty wild, but honestly that’s kind of the norm around here.  Unemployed life is basically Plato’s Retreat reincarnate – such hedonism will likely result in the fall of society as we know it.  The wine was delightful and was paired well with two Coronas and two enormous Dark and Stormies.  Ultimately, it was one of those nights when you have this conversation:

Me: “I cannot believe it’s 4:00 AM already, I’m not even tired.”

SO: “Yeah, let’s watch Harold & Kumar 2.”

So why am I telling you all this boring shit?  Basically to establish my excuse for not posting on Friday – it’s pretty difficult to post when you wake up at 2:30 PM.  But I did have a pretty sweet day after finally waking up, and it’s the kind of purely NYC day that you can’t experience anywhere else.

A Friday Afternoon in the Life

2:30 PM:  Where to eat?  SO suggested the quaint little French place down the street which serves a pretty strong croque monsieur.  Not a bad idea, but I had a better one.  That’s modest – my idea was essentially a quantum leap forward on the gastonomical spectrum.  NYC has some specific strengths as far as food goes: a wide diversity of offerings, plently of expensive highbrow fare that actually tastes like shit and the occasional hidden delight that gets overexposed and eventually turns shitty.  Cheap, quick food – almost “fast” – is not found in abundance, with the exception of Subway.  (I believe they just opened a Subway in our bathroom)  Anyway, on this fateful Friday afternoon, I recovered a repressed memory at the optimal time (and it didn’t even involve getting beaten with a hanger!).

I recalled seeing a Taco Bell in Union Square.  Now, if you are reading this in Bumfuck, Egypt or wherever, that may not sound like a big deal.  But in NYC, traditional fast food spots are on the major wane – THERE IS NO ARBY’S IN NYC NOW!  Plus, I had stopped into this place (full disclosure: T-Bell/Pizza Hut) when I initially saw it to verify that it was suitable for food consumption.  It was clean, well-lit, had an operating restroom, and only 2-3 homeless people appeared to be squatting there.  Usually I’m not a fan of these “combo” stores – the T-Bell/Dunkin Donuts on 8th and 30th is a less appetizing place to eat than a turkey processing plant – but this place was legit.

And, as you may be aware if you have a television or are otherwise subjected to advertisements, Taco Bell has a new menu item out: the Volcano Double Beef Burrito.  I am morally and contractually obligated to try any new T-Bell item and this thing looked pretty fucking delicious.  Apparently the lava sauce is much hotter than even their Fire sauce (800 Scoville units vs. 500 for Fire) which I find to be decently warm.  Plus – tortilla strips inside the burrito!  Fuck yeah!  I am a big proponent of chips inside burritos, even though this controversial stance has cost me some good standing within the U.S. Burrito Commission.

So how was it?  Well, let me say that the pic below came from grubgrade.com (thanks!) – mine definitely didn’t look like this.  Mine looked a lot like a folded up tortilla – literally halfway through I was still all dough.  Was okay once I got to the heart of the matter, but it was no Cheesy Beefy Melt (that thing was uber-delicious but made you feel 1-2 minutes from a myocardial infarction).  I was pretty disappointed, honestly.  Will I try it again?  Maybe, we’ll see.  The T-Bell was decent though; maybe the Pizza Hut classes it up a bit.  Oh yeah – Pizza Hut, how about bringing back the pork topping???  That shit was awesome – thin crust, pork+mushroom was the bomb.

 

mine looked like this, with the exception of the meat and cheese
Mine looked like this, with the exception of not having the meat or cheese. Lots of tortilla, though

3:30 PM:  What now?  I strongly considered a nap, but we decided to carpe diem the motherfucker.  “Let’s go to Trader Joe’s” she said.  Unsuspecting, I agreed.  Now, I’ve been to Trader Joe’s once before, in LA, and it was a madhouse, but I attributed that largely to the insanely high concentration of granola hippies in California.  In NYC, once the newness wears off, the crowds typically swarm to another hipper, more expensive destination in an effort to attain the holy grail of apparent exclusivity.  Since the NYC Trader Joes had been open for about three years, I wasn’t really sweating it.

Um, I was fucking wrong.  The technical term for it was gagglefuck.  The line permeated through the entire store, to the point where two employees had to walk around with signs on poles showing where the current end of the line was.  The line seriously wove through the entire store, up/down every aisle.  I find the food offerings at TJ’s to be pretty weak, it looked like a bunch of shit you don’t really need (save produce, but I don’t really need that myself) that they wear you down with as you wait in the interminable line.  Since I was all good on the “gorgonzola, organic chicken and pear frozen omelette” front, we decided to get the fuck out of there.

 

Enjoy your shopping!  Hey, olives stuffed with farm-raised figs!
Enjoy your shopping! Hey, olives stuffed with farm-raised figs!

Props to Trader Joe’s though, for pure marketing brilliance.  They have convinced the masses that they have the highest quality, most environmentally-conscious products at the absolute cheapest prices available on the planet.  You’re doing a great thing by shopping there – getting healthier, reducing dolphin asphyxiation and keeping a few sheckels in your bank account to boot!  Unreal.  Good thing you guys are reading this website, which is free, is full of health tips and is environmentally friendly (I turned off most of the lights to write this.  But since it’s 4:51 AM i guess that doesn’t count for as much).  Whole Foods, you could’ve learned from TJ’s – you wore the mantle of “a little more expensive, but worth it” a little too smugly.

4:00 PM: We stop by the farmer’s market at Union Square.  There is a gentleman in a Boba Fett helmet playing Star Wars tunes on the accordion.  He is accompanied by a homeless man wearing sandals (apparently he was an uninivited guest rapper of sorts – nice dance moves though).  I liked his rendition of the cantina song. 

4:30 PM: Cocktail hour.  I did buy some wine at the Trader Joe’s wine shop.  They have the best wines at the lowest prices!  And they have quirky written signs all over the place with folksy witticisms.  Joy!  Through this experience I learned that “table wine” means “god awful-tasting liquid.”  Got better by the fourth glass, but still.

5:30 PM:  Text some folks, try to line shit up for the evening.  Feeling a bit sleepy.

7:00 PM:  Arise from short nap.  Since 85-90% of my meals consist of some combination of: chicken, hot sauce, rice, tortilla I decided I needed to try a little variety.   Indian food would be a nice departure from my norm, wouldn’t it? I recall something I read on Midtown Lunch.  Phall curry at Brick Lane Curry House is alleged to be the hottest in NYC (they even give you a free beer if you finish it!).  My man C to join us even though he has already eaten and the trip to the dreaded east side will be about 8 hours round trip for him – way to man up C!

7:30 PM:  Have a Dark and Stormy and read some of the internet that I haven’t read yet.

7:52 PM:  Have a Corona (yeah, I’m on a bit of a Corona kick right now) and read some more of the internet.

8:10 PM:  Have a Dark and Stormy and read reviews of this shirt.  Consider buying 3-5 of these shirts.

9:00 PM:  Get our Brick Lane on.  They have a disclaimer that the Phall actually tastes like shit and is just really, really hot.  I love Vindaloo.  Love.  I’m torn, I wanted to try the Phall to see what is what.  Bloody brilliant – a side order of the Phall for $5!  Vindy+Phall = a whole new kind of eating sensation!  Chicken, rice, potatoes, naan – this is a massive departure from my norm!  I’m basically Anthony Bourdain!  (Although I’d probably prefer warthog rectum to some onion/tomato mixture)

 

The non-burrito
The non-burrito

9:10 PM:  Damn, that Phall shit is hot.  But they are correct, it’s all fire, no real taste.  Reminds me a bit of Dave’s Insanity sauce.  

9:12 PM:  Dude, just drop the pitcher off here, okay?

9:20 PM:  If I had a hat on, I would have sweated through it.  The verdict?  Fucking delicious.  May not need the Phall though, it appears the Vindaloo can stand on its own.  I only ate about 1/5th of the Phall anyway, using it in a condiment-like manner, as this place is Sriracha-free.

9:20 + PM:  I’ve already written 1700+ words on this night, so the rest will have to remain a mystery.  Let’s just say it involved a Trailer Park, a jump rope and three boxes of cat litter.

 

Chilly17, one who has wasted potential

The Only Summer Drink You’ll Ever Need

The Only Summer Drink You’ll Ever Need

Well, you might need Gatorade in some instances.  I guess I should’ve been more specific: “The only summer cocktail you’ll ever need.”  Anyway, it’s great to be back in NYC after a horrific week on the West Coast: incredible weather, an abundance of terrific Mexican food, an unprecedented winning rush in Vegas.  Glad to get back to sweatshirt weather.  Awesome.  Anyway, I am back.  For a bit.  Heading back to Atlantis in mid-June – who’s in???

Side note: you know your blog has reached a level of prominence when the New York Times is duplicating content.  

“A Chili Sauce to Crow About” – nytimes.com

“The Single Greatest Condiment In The World” – wastedpotentialz.com

Coincidence?  I think not.   

The presence of summerish weather, albeit largely absent from NYC at the moment (I’m betting we skip the tolerable springlike three weeks and head straight to the hellish inferno weather that sparks riots amongst normally law-abiding subway riders and takes the always-aromatic trash smells to another level of olfactory distress) has caused me to shift to summer drinking mode.  Granted, in Vegas I stuck to my caffeine/urinary tract infection formula, shifting between vodka Red Bulls and vodka cranberries.  But, back at home, I have just made myself the perfect summer beverage.  This cocktail is delightfully simple, yet agonizingly difficult to find the proper ingredients for.  I am speaking, of course, of the Dark and Stormy (technically it’s a “Dark N Stormy” but that looks a little lowbrow in print for such a sophisticated website).

There are only four ingredients, and two of them are commonly found in many households:

  • 1 glass (to put the other ingredients into)
  • Several ice cubes (to cool the ingredients that are kept in the glass)
  • Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
  • Goya Ginger Beer

Behold, the liquid ingredients as you would (hopefully) find them on store shelves:

 

Not as easy to accumulate as you'd imagine
Not as easy to locate as you'd imagine

 

 

If you are unfamiliar with Ginger Beer, it’s like root beer, but with a spicy kick.  Non-alcoholic.  That may sound a little gross – although a huge fan of spicy food, I generally am not a fan of spicy beverages like Bloody Mary’s or Sweaty Lumberjacks – but trust me on this.  The ginger beer is critical to the deliciousness in play here.  It’s shockingly refreshing by itself, too – just make sure it’s cold as shit.  The problem with ginger beer is that the quality varies wildly from brand to brand – about as wildly as the quality of the chicken vindaloo at your local indian haunt.  That’s why this is a value-added blog: I’ve tried basically every ginger beer already.  Most of them are too sweet, lacking the necessary bite to take the edge off of the rum, or just bland overall.  Not so with Goya brand GB – that shit packs a punch.  It’s a bit hard to find, and, as benevolent as I am, I’m not about to tip off my source in NYC as availability is sketchy as is.  Hint: if your local grocer has a substantial Goya section, take a look on the bottom shelves to see if they have a couple rows of GB pushed back from view a little bit – sometimes sneaky bastards like to obfuscate availability for their own future access.

Now, to the recipe.  Similar to my refusal to conform to accepted socal norms regarding times to wake up, go to sleep, or eat pasta, I believe that proper cocktail ingredient ratios evolve over the course of an evening.  My preferred approach to the DNS preparation is to have the SO make the first round.  This batch is weaker and has the amber color of a fossilized mosquito pendant (translation: a little rum, a little more ginger beer).  I’ll make the next few rounds, ending up with something that looks like a glass of tar with light orange highlights.

 

The finished product
The finished product

 

 

Drink more than 3 Dark and Stormies at your own risk, they offer one of the worst hangover experiences out there.  But it’s worth it.  Recipe for a strong, dark evening: drink Dark and Stormies while watching The Dark Knight and eating dark meat chicken.  Maybe some dark chocolate for dessert.  I suppose you could read some of The Dark Phoenix Saga too.  OK, that’s enough of that.

Sciene alert: when checking out ginger beers, look for the ingredient capsicum.  That’s what makes it hot.  Somehow they get the heat out of a chili pepper without the chili pepper flavor.  I would like to know how many Scoville units the Goya GB puts out.  Hmmm….after reading the Wiki entry, I feel morally obligated to include the sentence below, lest I cause an anal leakage epidemic along the lines of the launch of WOW Doritos.

“The fruit of most species of Capsicum contains capsaicin (methyl vanillyl nonenamide), a lipophilic chemical that can produce a strong burning sensation in the mouth (and, if not properly digested, the anus) of the unaccustomed eater.”

Yikes.  I think that happens only rarely with Dark and Stormies, though.  Totally worth it, though, if it were to happen.

 

Chilly17

The Single Greatest Condiment in the World

The Single Greatest Condiment in the World

sriracha-sauce1

 

I really struggled with what was the most accurate title for this post; “The Only Condiment You’ll Ever Need” and “Roostery Red Awesomeness” were also strong contenders.  Don’t be fooled by the fact that you’ve probably only seen this at (quality) Asian restaurants – it transcends culinary genres.  Like a liquid Philip Seymour Hoffman, Sriracha can be a strong supporting character or can step it up a notch and take over the whole damn production.  Bottom line: you can discard all the other garbage from your fridge and streamline with a bottle of Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce.  

I first had the Rooster on my submarine, a mysterious stranger left a bottle in the wardroom (most likely someone from the Blue Crew, but I prefer to think it was an Asian mystic).  We didn’t know what to call it, so we simply referred to it as “Rooster sauce” – not so much due to the majestic rooster proudly posing on the front, but more for the way it made you feel when you had control of it (it was like having the conch).   Is it spicy?  Yeah, it’s mildly spicy in small amounts but can light you up if you choose to pile it on.  (I recently had a pho soup incident where i was sweating like a lineman during two-a-days.)  It was the perfect solution to many dismal dining situations while underway.  Disgusting midnight hot dogs?  Boom, Rooster.  Soggy, greasy chicken nuggets?  Boom, Rooster.  Pasta?  Rooster.  There was really no food, except maybe cereal or pastries, that wasn’t greatly enhanced by the Rooster.

During my MBA days I moved to Boston and was more widely exposed to Asian restaurants.  It gradually became Sriracha to me.  I had always thought it was a Vietnamese creation, but apparently it has Thai heritage.  As a banker, I kept a bottle in my office as well – the perfect counterpart to three pounds of chicken broccoli (hold the broccoli) from Au Mandy.  Importantly – do not be fooled by the “sriracha” sauces at many local grocers that do not have a proud rooster prominently displayed on the bottle – they are poor, poor substitutes at best.

Beyond being delicious and attractively packaged, the Sriracha bottle also helpfully details for you what foods it best goes with: soups, sauces, pasta, pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, chow mein OR ON ANYTHING.  How many products will avow that they are perfect with ANYTHING?  This is not false advertising; I can personally attest that it adds something special to pizza, lasagna and even turkey sandwiches.  In a huge hurry?  But looking for some deliciousness?  May I suggest a Lean Pockets Sub (Meatballs & Mozzarella variety) paired with a healthy does of Sriracha?  I can sense your revulsion already, but trust me on this one: it’s money. (It was even better when Hot Pockets still had the warming sleeves, now the finished product is a bit on the wet and soggy side.  You put some of the Rooster on, though, problem solved) 

 

 

Damn Hot Pockets for doing away with the warming sleeve!
Still delish, but bring back the warming sleeve!