NYC’s Top Five Rainy Day Meals

Rainy days are a study in extremes. One day, you’re craving the comfort of a piping hot bowl of something buttery and cheesy, and the next, you’re seeking the cleansing refreshment of a vegetable juice and lentil salad. We humans are a complex bunch. In honor of the gloom outside, I’ve pulled together NYC’s top five rainy day meals. From heavenly to healthy, these dishes can warm even the most trodden spirit. Or at least distract you momentarily.

1.     A Burger and Bowl of Chili from Corner Bistro: Cozy yet boisterous NY institution. $8 cheese-bacon Bistro Burger. Robust chili.

2.     Mac & Cheese from Westville: Baked and crusty outside. Hot and gooey inside. Smoked bacon optional.

3.     The Classic Pork Noodle Ramen Soup from Ippudo. Moderately healthy. Sesame mushrooms. Thick, long noodles.

4.     Seitan in a Spicy Citrus Sauce from gobo. Arrives sizzling. Borderline healthy. Tastes like chicken.

5.     Homemade Bucatini Pasta with Crispy Garlic and Olive Oil from Bevacco. Heavenly. Coarse, fresh noodles. Toasted garlic. NY’s best.

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Industry Insiders: Vinegar Hill House’s Jean Adamson, Sam Buffa, & Brian Leth

Jean Adamson and Sam Buffa met while both were working at Freemans. Their relationship gave way to sharing a love of the food and aesthetic that formed Vinegar Hill House. Sam is also partners with Taavo Somer in the FSC Barbershop. Six months into their Brooklyn venture, the Vinegar Hill House team found Brian Leth, the chef de cuisine since April, formerly of Prune and Allen & Delancey. Leth excites patron with his locally sourced menu with ethnic flairs.

How did you start in the business? Jean Adamson: I started cooking in Salt Lake City, Utah. I had a fascination with cooking and went to the French Culinary Institute. Then I worked for Keith McNally for nine years at Balthazar and Pastis, but it was too easy there for me. I was just expediting the process, so I said, “I have to get out.” I started consulting for Frank Prisinzano of Frank, Supper and Lil’ Frankie’s. I helped him standardize things. I was getting their recipes in order so that in each restaurant everyone was doing the same thing. A friend then called me to say this guy Taavo Somer was looking for a chef at Freeman’s. Their consistency was really poor, and I’m good at producing large amounts of food at once. They were transferring into the first expansion so they needed a day-to-day chef to run everything. So I worked there for three years, and that’s where I met Sam. Sam Buffa: I was helping Taavo with the basic construction of their expansion. At the same time, the space at the front of the alley became available and I proposed the barbershop idea to Taavo. It’s still sort of my day job. Jean and I, from day one, have had similar interests. I always wanted to open a restaurant but had never worked in the field. I always liked the idea of building a restaurant.

How did you come across the space for Vinegar Hill House? JA: When Sam and I met, we were showing off the cool neighborhoods we knew in Brooklyn. I was living in Park Slope at the time, and the next day my landlord came to me and said the carriage house was becoming available in Vinegar Hill. It’s the house behind where the restaurant is now. I told him that I wanted it and I waited a year for it. SB: I told her to ask him about commercial spaces. Once we got the space it was like, “Oh shit now we have to open a restaurant.”

So you did. JA: When we told people about the location they were like, “No way.” When you’re milling around on a bicycle you just end up here. We opened last November after Sam designed the restaurant. We call the downstairs space “the den” and people rent it out for private events. I was the chef but was looking for a way to segue out. Then this gem, Brian, walked in the door. He’s changed the landscape of the restaurant. I always intended on being a local farms and local produce restaurant and he made that happen. He also wanted Brian wanted a Vita-Prep. It’s amazing watching the stuff he makes with it. Brian Leth: I’m a puree guy.

Where have you worked before? BL: I started cooking in New Mexico. A friend of a friend helped steer me towards a job at Prune and I learned a lot there. Then, I worked at Blue Hill and Café des Artistes. I was at Allen & Delancey for about a year. JA: Brian has a broad spectrum of food knowledge from having worked at so many places.

Are you already thinking about the next project? SB: I think its always on our mind. JA: We want to be solid here before the next place.

Something people don’t know about you? JA: That I’m nice. SB: I used to race motorcycles BL: I’m a serious Scrabble player

What are your favorite places? JA, SB, BL: Hotel Delmonico and Rusty Knot.

How about restaurants? BL: Ippudo, Prime Meats, and wd-50. JA, SB: Sripraphai for Hawaiian pizzas, Roberta’s, The Smile, Joe’s Shanghai for soup dumplings.

What’s on your favorite playlist right now? JA, SB: Lady Gaga and talk radio. BL: The Replacements and Steely Dan.

Brittany Murphy Ruins Ramen for Everyone

imageA few weeks ago, this poster inspired me to write a post entitled “Whatever Happened to Brittany Murphy’s Career?” This inspiration was fleeting since I soon realized I was writing about Brittany Murphy’s career. Today, I’m forced to revisit this increasingly irrelevant actress because the trailer for a ghastly looking movie starring Murphy called The Ramen Girl has popped up online.

In it, she plays a nuisance in Tokyo who can only find redemption and love through the power of ramen. Two of the best meals I’ve had in New York were bowls of ramen at Momofuku and Ippudo. From now on, I won’t be able to even walk by these establishments without thinking about this grotesque trailer. Care to join me?

‘Tis the Season for New Ramen From Ippudo

Ippudo NY, the first U.S. branch of the famed Japanese ramen restaurant chain, will introduce monthly, seasonal ramen dishes to their menu beginning in November. Savory, warm, concoctions like Tiger Tan Tan Men (pictured), a spicy broth loaded with noodles, ground pork, and sesame paste will keep your guts warm when the temperature joins the stock market and plummets. The lineup of dishes to be added will include favorites from Ippudo Japan, like the kogashi miso, a dark, rich broth made from roasted miso topped with noodles, pork, spinach, fish cake, egg, and bamboo shoots, as well as just-for-New York exclusives — all for a limited time only.

New York: Top 5 New Restaurants for Recession Times

imageNew spots that won’t break ya’…

1. Ippudo Ramen King Shigemi Kawahara brings super-authentic, super-addictive pork broths to the G.V. 2. Tre Tweaked Italian amid flickering candlelight. Haute cuisine, trattoria prices. 3. Artichoke Basille’s Lines out the block for our latest pizza addiction.

4. dell’anima Open kitchen fills the boisterous space with tantalizing, savory scents. 5. Mermaid Inn Uptown Everybody’s favorite seafood shack stakes a claim.