Fish Tacos. A'ight, Kids. Gonna pause here to let the giggles die down.

There. I've stopped giggling.

Every time I hear Californians wax gastronomic about their beloved fish tacos, I grow more intrigued. So today for lunch, in hopes of drowning my sorrows over my favorite LA couple (Sarah Silverman and Jimmy Kimmel) breaking up (I know, right?), I had Pita Grill's take on the MexiCali sea wrap.

While I can't imagine the eight-store NYC chain's version in any way resembles authenticity, it was pretty damn tasty. Blackened tilapia with baby greens, pico de gallo, and "low-fat sour cream spread" on a wheat tortilla. I'd normally ask 'em to substitute some real, live full fat sour cream (mostly just 'cause I like saying 'full fat' to strangers) but every reference to sour cream on the menu includes the dreaded 'low fat' and 'spread' tags, so I didn't bother.

The filling-to-tortilla ratio left a lot to be desired, but the ample flavor of the fish made up for the meagerness of the dollop. The pico de gallo was a wimpy (as was warned), and the tortilla was not at all oily. Sad face. But still, flavorful and satisfying. And I needn't have been concerned about the Barbie Doll sour cream, as the schmear was undetectable to the human eye.

Came with a side of grilled Mexican corn on the cob "rubbed with canola mayonnaise, sprinkled with Ancho chili pepper and queso anejo." Fish tacos and a cob being rubbed, all on one plate? The schoolyard joke potential here is off the charts. Regardless, the corn made me cut loose o' some sexytime noises. Just now caught myself making them again, thinking about it.

When I saw the banana cake I'd ordered, I assumed they'd brought me the wrong thing. Where's the yellow? This is America, goddammit. Banana flavored things should be died bright yellow to identify them as banana flavored things. Right? But the dark, moist, nutty-raisiny bar topped high with what felt like butter cream frosting was indeed banana from tip to tail, and despite the non-nuclear hues, I again made with the porn grunties.

I'll continue my search for a real fish taco, but in the meantime, this'n's good enough to recommend. Especially if you don't know what a real one tastes like.

Subway does it again.

And again, it sucks. The new Texas Style Smoked Beef Brisket sandwich smells like a chemical manufacturing plant, and tastes like parking lot. Okay, the nice, executive section of the parking lot. In the shade up near the building. I happen to know it ain't difficult to accurately duplicate the taste of smoke, but I guess Subway felt the regular artificial stuff wasn't artificial enough. And this mofo was dry. The leftover half I had the next day (if you're laughing at the fact I'd eat leftover parking lot, you don't know me very well), was so dry I had to schmear some crab dip on it. The horseradish fairly well rocked it. But still.

I maintain the best that Subway slings is the Italian BMT with (and talk slowly when asking for this part) provolone, onion, tomato, black olives, and LOTS OF EXTRA vinegar and oil, on herb and cheese bread. They won't actually put extra on it, but somehow just asking for extra makes it taste better. And there's something about their v&o that makes me walk past half a dozen real, living and mouth-breathing Italian hero shops (the ones in my 'hood, anyway) to eat Chubway's. Plus, last time they accidentally put an actual, red-to-the-core, low-wood tomato on mine. Bonus!

And no sub missive would be complete without also noting their meatball marinara 'wich is surprisingly serviceable, too. Again, graded on the Upper East Side Italian Joint curve.

But this new smoked brisket? Unless you're Hellboy with a taste for home, skip it.

From the "wish I'd taken that" file. This David Folwari image in today's Times captures the essence of a city and takes my breath away.

Forget former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan's new bombshell book (I'm gonna get the beau to read it to me real slow while I wank), and the Chicago train derailment Bush caused to deflect from the book... this is big news: Ben & Jerry's has a new flavor. Inspired by John Lennon, Imagine Whirled Peace is "caramel and sweet cream ice creams" placidly swirled with toffee cookie bits and serenely adorned with chocolate fudge peace signs.

What? No Yoko chunks? Ah, well. Sounds positively groovy, regardless.

UPDATE: The toffee cookie bits could've been a lot cookier, and the peace signs disappointed me. Caught one of 'em with a rolled up issue of National Review in his boot, in fact. I'll just stick with Chunky Monkey and keep my pacifism outta my frozen dairy desserts.

Say G'night, Dick.

Rowan & Martin's Laugh In was one of only two grown-up shows I remember being allowed to stay up and watch. From the couch, Mom would tsktsk through the blue humor, barely able to mask her guilty chuckles. One of my earliest childhood crushes (after George Harrison and Mighty Mouse), Dick Martin launched my life-long devotion to deep dimples and dirty jokes. Bringing up the back edge of an era, he continued a Rat Pack tradition of poon-hound sophistication, but brought a social responsibility to the naughty. A subversive skirt chaser. Ohhhh, the fiery little girl fantasies of him "Honey, I'm home"-ing me...

G'night, Dick.

A Tale of Two Tales

Tale #1

A guest who's been dispatched to fetch the Reddi-Whip from my fridge asks why there's lipstick around the nozzle. Dessert was consumed with less enthusiasm than dinner. But I am not ashamed. Unsanitary, yes, but not ashamed. When a girl's gotta have a pie-hole full o' aerosol whup cream, nothing beats standing at the open fridge, wrapping your lips around that white nozzle of dairy(ish) goodness, pulling the trigger and suckin' back a headful. It's not just the taste or the creaminess. The sensation itself is an unparalleled pleasure. In an instant your mouth goes from empty to shockingly packed with thick cream. I swear, I giggle a little every time I do it. And I'm not much of a giggler.

Tale #2

Sometime last year I was at a party where the above pictured snack meat was served. Lined up alongside cheeses, crackers, and crudité were these impossibly delicious herb-covered rounds of liquoury-intense Busseto Italian Dry Salami. I had the host show me the package (not THAT package, Mr. Host!), and thought I'd committed the name to memory. I hadn't. When I couldn't find what I thought it was in stores, including the one he'd said they came from, I asked the host about it next time I saw him. He tried to show me his package again (badaboom!), and said he had no memory of ever discussing salami with me, unless it was about hiding one (okay, that'll do).

I put the mysterious meat on my List Of Stuff I'll Never Find In A Grocery Store Ever, and kinda gave up. Now more than a year later, boom, there it is, at a new place that's just opened in my 'hood. (Under the old management, three male employees once rated my body parts as I passed, with assorted thumbs ups and thumbs downs. Funny how if the rate of ups to downs is in your favor, you feel less violated as a woman. Still. Limp-dick fuckers.) So I snagged some of the salami and used it on sandwiches and in pasta sauce, but mostly I just stood at the open fridge and pulled 'em one at a time outta the bag and popped them into my mouth.

Here's Where Tales 1 & 2 Collide.
(More sensitive readers might want to look away.)

There came a time when I simply could no longer bear not knowing what these two open-fridge treats tasted like together. Groan if you must, but I'm bearing my gastro-soul here.

Each slice of salami is about an inch across (a size that would've made Nigel Tufnel's backstage experience less stressful), and I started by building a smallish hill of whipped cream atop one. A Reddi-Whip can is no precision instrument, and the stuff can easily get away from you. So I worked on making smaller and smaller hills, until the whipped cream to salami ratio was just right. (Yes, typing that sentence made me realize just how ridiculous this is. But like most wake-up calls, I'm hitting the snooze button on this one.)

Anywayzzz, at one point, I realized I was making bizarre wee cannolis of a sort. Curiously combined, it's true. But damn, they's tasty. I'm not kidding. And too adorable not to take an out-of-focus picture for ya with my herb-encrusted fingers.
My next project: bacon cheesecake. And again, I'm not kidding.


Recent visits to the store have netted no salami for 'dis mami, and I finally asked the right person why. Turns out it was a mistake. They never meant to carry it, was delivered to them by accident, so they sold what was delivered, and that's that. No more. Ever. I whined, cajoled, reminded them how profusely I'd thanked them for carrying it, etc. They don't care. So all that's left is a fond 8-ounce memory, a bit of lingering lunchmeatbreath (semi-permanent, apparently), and a single fuzzy image to assure me it was real. My salami/whipped cream cannoli joins Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, and Dead Elvis buying a burrito at the 7-11 in The Gallery of Grainy Myths.

Makes me wish the rate-your-body-parts dudes were still there. THEY'D GET ME MY DAMN SALAMI.

Update to the Epilogue

A so very helpful reader contacted the good people at Busseto and asked wherethefuck in NYC and North Jersey can a sistah get her salami on. They replied:

King's Supermarket carries the product year round. We also sell to Food Emporium. They will be featuring the chubs 7/12/08. A&P, Pathmark and Shoprite bring product in on shippers each season, so they may be in or out of stock.

Heh. Heh heh. They said chubs. (I've now stocked up on both herb and peppercorn varieties.)

Addendum to the Update to the Epilogue

I've since also found the buggers at Gourmet Garage on the Upper West Side. While you're there, snag ya some Portuguese bread, red Cerignola olives, and their fabulous/perfect house-made gazpacho. And the sweet corn chowder's worth every drop of the $11 price tag.

Planet Thailand 212

Lacking in sound design and decorated like an Asian circus clown's laundry day (not necessarily a bad thing), Planet Thailand 212 never disappoints. I'd been to the city-side sister of the Brooklyn institution a couple of times before, and always found the food pretty good. But last night, I reached new levels of indiscretion and stuffed myself in a most memorable way, feeling the need to blather about it. And lie down.

I launched with a couple of lychee bellinis, which don't actually launch you very effectively. Tasty and refreshing, but being lychee juice and sparkling wine, they don't really function properly as an alchoholic beverage. Nevertheless, I seemed to have started a run on the things. Then they mercifully ran out of lychee juice.

The service is notoriously sucky, and indeed, halfway through ordering, someone noticed a few copies of the dinner specials list in the middle of our table. The staff could take a lesson in suggestive selling from the "you want fries with 'dat?" people. I changed my order from the Shrimp Curry with String Beans to the "Spicy Lover."

During our significant wait, we dipped our chopsticks into assorted starters. From the homey Edamame (not unlike Southern boiled peanuts), to the satisfying and tender Thai Dried Beef, the Shrimp Dumplings (I know I put one into my mouth, but cannot at this moment recall what it tasted like), Vegetarian Spring Rolls with Plum Sauce (always crazy good), Fried Calamari with Sweet Chili Sauce (there's always gonna be something that's not as good as last time), and the Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce and Cucumber, which I've never had a bad version of. Or a version that tasted any different from everyone else's version, for that matter.

Someone ordered Mee Grob, which I'd never had. Crispy tamarind noodles with shrimp. Awfully tasty with a unique texture. Can't recommend the Fried Tofu with Peanut-Chili Sauce if you're sharing, though. The two-bite hunks taste like a dial tone unless bathed in the dipping sauce, and they're too big to do this without double-dipping. So avoid sharing these, at least with those you're not being otherwise intimate with. And I'd not been intimate with all ten or twelve of my dinner companions this night.

But give me time.

Which brings me to the subject of The Spicy Lover. It arrived well past everyone else's entrees, which prompted me and the one other tablemate who'd ordered it to make inappropriate jokes about lovuhs who take too long to come. (Mmmkay, so maybe the bellinis were working.) When finally our prodigal meals arrived, each sushi roll was massively fat and long (sorry), snaking through thick pearls of spicy sauce (somebody stop me). I've never understood people using the term 'rich' when describing why they don't like a dish, but holy mother of fish phallus, this thing was rich. Stuffed with scallops, yellowtail, and at least another sea critter or two (and me already stuffed with appetizers), I made it through only with determination and a remarkable display of full-out gluttony. And that mofo was delicious. Spicy Lover #2 Dude and I were both groaning by the halfway point, but each keen to finish off our respective Lovers.

Again, my apologies.

Planet Thailand 212
30 W. 24th St. between Fifth and Sixth Avenues

PS: I just had deja vu. Have I blogged about this place before? I seem to recall writing about the groovy closed circuit video screens which catch patrons on camera and put them into far away situations. Peeps have complained this is an invasion of privacy. I say screw 'em. I think it's cool.

Don't judge me. It was an emergency.

Big Brother vs. God

If I had any street cred at all, I'm 'bout to stamp it out like a smoldering Marlboro butt. I watch Big Brother. Notice I didn't say 'I'm a fan of Big Brother.' 'Cause I'm no more a fan of this particular reality show than a junkie's a fan of the needle. But every season, I vow not to become ensnared in this game which rewards those skilled at lying and manipulation. Yet most every season, I fail to resist. My only defense is that I watch no other reality TV (though The Surreal Life has occasionally blown my skirt up, and that one where streetwalkers pulled each other's hair fighting over Flavor Flav was kinda funny), and I began this addiction with high hopes that Big Brother would be a fascinating psycho/social experiment. Instead, it's turned out to be no better than the rest. Screechiness is rewarded, combatives get the screen time, and the most dishonest among the contestants, by virtue of their dishonesty, wins.

I know reality TV is anything but. And I've known a couple of people who've been on reality TV shows, so I understand producers instigate much of the discord. But on Big Brother, I do believe I'm getting a realistic view of the participants' personalities. And brother, these are some skeevy peeps. There is but one contestant on Big Brother 9 I've found to be truly human (the now gone pink mohawked ex-gay porn dude Crazy James Zinkand), but the rest? Ick. And the ickiest? The one who mercifully got voted out last night.

Natalie. This blow-jobs-for-Jesus chick (tell me that's not Gilligan with a bad boob job) is by far the most pathetic character ever dug up by CBS. The multiply-abandoned, bible-thumping, face-humping, ex-stripper, ex-Hooters girl succeeded through use of such Christian tactics as showing the gang her post-abortion lactation trick and analyzing game rules to determine that while striking another player is illegal, spitting on them is allowed. She serves coffee in a bikini for a living and says she shows her body because God created it. The sweater meat, however, is the work of Dow Corning. The benevolent "I just want to help people [bust their nut]" chica took time out from sucking it in, pushing 'em together, and darting her eyes around the room to found "Team Christ," an alliance with a meat-head racist (as his also-a-contestant girlfriend announced to the American viewing audience), a googly-eyed poster child for circumcision without command of the English language, and an aging Penthouse pet who talks all the time and never says a thing. (Also boasts the biggest, weirdest bush I've seen outside of Hustler's Anniversary Hirsute Issue. And no, I'm not linking to it.)

With barely enough combined IQ points to strike a match, Team Christ's primary activities involve reading the Bible (lips moving) and scratching their crotches on camera. And as near as I can tell, this group is responsible for Big Brother, after nine seasons of free flowing alcohol, to have to limit its availability. Some of the churched up fights over the last beer are Must See TV.

But just when I was about to really give up on my embarrassing habit (honest!), Natalie's plan to dry hump her way to the top got derailed. So now the show's 20% less annoying and 30% less sad. But probably 70% more boring.

I need to take up knitting. Or a 12-step program.

The Cheesy Grin

Had a bad day. A real bad day. This bad day lasted about two and a half weeks. And I don't mean that Catskillsily. I needed a reliable, non-wobbly cheesecake. Yes. A whole one. (See aforementioned bad day reference.) Pretty sure I was married when last I made a cheesecake, so it's been a coon's age. Maybe two.

I beat the shit outta the graham crackers (with angry, bad-day-related glee) and pressed the buttery crust into the springform pan. Whipped my ingredients without benefit of a mixer (again, a much needed expenditure of aggression). Did the baking thing. Did the leave it sitting in the warm oven with the door open thing. Went back an hour later, and the damn thing was smiling at me. Look at the photo above and tell me that ain't a smile. Not a pie-eating grin, exactly, and not quite a Mona Lisa, but still. A smile. Kind of a snaggletooth, Squidbillies smile.

Now, here's where it gets weird.

I think my cheesecake was trying to communicate with me. I stood there and stared at it for a long time. I honestly felt some sort of message coming off the thing. I know home-baked cheesecakes in the hands of inept non-domestics often crack. But this was a wise crack. My cheesecake possessed a compassionate benevolence, a seasoned intelligence, a soul.

I ate it anyway. 'Cause I mean, like, it's a cheesecake yo.

Gotta say, it made me feel better. I felt karmically nourished by it. Next day I got a phone call with some amazinghappyflatteringlucrative news. The phone continued to ring all afternoon, with other amazinghappyflatteringlucrative news related details, but when the dust settled, I thought of the cheesecake. Okay, I thought of eating it some more. But when I peeled back the foil and saw the jagged half-smile (other half had been consumed), I wondered if the cheesecake had been trying to tell me everything was gonna be alright. Had the message of the cheesecake been that the tide was about to turn for me? Was this home-baked confection conveying a sage solace? A crooked and creamy therethere?

Or is there maybe such a thing as lactose-induced psychosis?

Either way, it was sure tasty.

The light passing through the cheese danish braids at Whole Foods on Houston is not the translucence of butter laden baked goods, but rather shafts of golden god, prismed through this anointed pastry.

Just sayin'.

Midtown East. Yesterday. No reports yet of literal application, and the ensuing carnage.

New place on York and 84th. It's not the produce wonderland I'd hoped, but I found the pasta I like and they carry Bob's Red Mill products, so I'll be back. It's clean, well stocked, and boasts two cash registers manned by pleasant young women who giggle when asked about the store's name.

"I don't know. It's funny, yes?"

Yes. It's funny. Double-negativelarious.

Spring Cupcakes Have Sprung Crumbs on 8th Street. The vanilla one with orange (colored) frosting was less than wonderful. The cake was a bit too soft and fine and Betty Crockery, and the frosting too cloying. Perhaps because of the pink jimmies sprinkled atop. But would it have caught my eye without the pink jimmies? No. Just like those glossy-haired but disappointingly vapid women. Often it's the very thing that makes one pretty that also makes them stupid. And sometimes vice versa.

But the less attractive chocolate mini w/raspberry frosting? Bold and complex. Totally kicked ass. Despite having been smooshed when it broke my fall onto a bus handrail.

Next time I'm gonna try the one with white frosting and what looks like a blood smear on top. That way if I fall on it, it'll look... appropriate.


I felt okay about missing the Clinton-Obama debate in Texas last night because I saw that it was going to be re-aired today at noon. But the rebroadcast was chopped up more clumsily than Tara Reid's boob job. They'd go to a commercial as Clinton was opening her mouth to speak, then return in the middle of a lengthy Obama missive. I'm left not only wondering what I missed, but also guessing the agenda of whomever so poorly edited this thing.

How 'bout we don't edit presidential debates, eh? Can't afford to air it without the Ped Egg ads? Then don't air it. Or skip the bullshitty opening pomp and cut right to the meat. This stuff is kind of important.

But I'm sure glad time was again made for the celebrity-in-the-audience cutaways. Yup. I'm gonna vote for the candidate who earns the deepest nods from the earnestly necktied George Lopez.

CNN, you suck. And stop pretending you don't wanna be American Idol.

Things You'd Think Would Be Delicious, But Ain't...

A Wheat Thin schmeared with cream cheese and topped with a dried Turkish apricot.

Mmmkay, that's all I have right now. I guess 'cause most things are delicious. Just an excuse, really, to dash off a quick note to let y'all know I'm:

A) Still alive.
B) Still eating.
C) Still itchin' to blather on endlessly about A and B.

Thing is, I've been maniacally busy and doing a wee bit of globetrotting (well, one modest sliver of the globe) and will continue to be for a bit yet. But I shall return, surely by the end of the year, perhaps by the end of the month, at which time I'll share tales of eating my way through six states.

So, like the lions in front of the New York Public Library, patience and fortitude, my peeps. You be patient, and I'll be gobbling up the fortitude. (Which, by the way, tastes great atop a cream cheese schmeared Wheat Thin.)
Dear Dick Cavett,

Of all the intolerant, media-sanctioned sizism I've read (and I've read plenty, this week alone), your "Is Bigger Really Better?" in today's New York Times has got to be the most juvenile. Packed with pinky-out pontification and peppered with racism, for good measure. Strasbourg goose, indeed.


Drunk driving claims far more nonparticipating victims than does obesity, but if you banned those with DUI convictions from appearing on television, prime time would be filled with nothing but windblown tumbleweeds. And out-of-touch irrelevants like you.

If Orson Welles was alive, he'd kick your quivering white ass. Buddy Hackett, Beverly Sills, and Jackie Gleason would patiently wait their turn.

You doddering diminutive.
I’ll buy anything that’s got a line drawing of the creator’s head on it. (Not god’s head, in case you were wondering. The cook’s.) Which is why, when I plunged my hand into the frosty clutter of my neighborhood market’s novelty ice cream case, hoping the aforementioned god would divine it toward a Bananas n’ Cream FrozFruit bar (which the aforementioned god won’t make the aforementioned market keep in stock, thus rendering me about 80% atheist), and I pulled out a Mamita’s (Homemade Style) Tamarind Ice with the lovely mug of, I’m assuming, Mamita represented on the label, I snagged it.

Sorry. I just couldn’t say that without a run-on sentence.

I’d never had tamarind ice, “homemade style” or otherwise, and found the contents of the plump Fla-Vor-Ice type squeeze bag to be the unappealing color of an oversucked cola slurpee. (Everybody with a childhood knows y’gotta alternate the slurping with the spooning, to keep the syrup to ice ratio right.) But with reassuringly few ingredients and an Ozone Park manufacturing address, I confidently snipped, squeezed, and sucked.

Requires surgical precision to get into without getting sticky all over ya, but it was tangy and refreshing. I’ll try another. Recommend you maybe do the same. But whatever you do, don’t smell it first. Just hold your nose and suck.

500 Years of Western Art

Awfully cool video of female portrait subjects morphing one into the next. Does it prove constants in the Western beauty ideal? Nah. But it’s pleasantly hypnotizing to watch with the sound off while you’re on the phone.

ID the artists and works here.
The pre-cut salad Dole sells to lazy-ass Americans? I just ate an entire 12-ounce bag of the “Greener Selection” (iceberg, romaine, carrot, red cabbage) in one sitting. Doctored up with some broccoli florets, chow mein noodles, and a bit of Mandarin orange. Why such a psycho display of eat-monster gluttony?

Kraft’s new Asian Toasted Sesame dressing. Hard to find and chock full of high-fructose corn syrup, but well worth the hunt and the premature death. Last night I even dipped a couple of my perfect, big-as-my-head sautéed sea scallops into a dab of the baby diaper brown, and if not for my reluctance to defile such a sea treat, I’d’ve drowned them buggers in the stuff.

Gonna try it on grilled chicken next. And maybe in some gingery rice thingy with loads of cucumbers? And I’ve got one more bag of salad in the fridge…

Pimiento Cheese: Manna of the Booze Gods

Went to a party the other night, and the food was delicious. Planet Thai sushi, calamari, and these pillowy little fried tofu poofs you dip into a thin but ass-kickety pepper sauce. Stellar vittles, but I didn’t get enough of ‘em. It was one of those catching-up-with-peeps-you-haven’t-seen-in-ages shindigs, and after a while, I started no-thank-you-ing the waitstaff when they’d stand next to me with the hors d’oeuvre trays, waiting for me to stop talking. Sometimes I think they head straight for the fat girl, counting on me to lighten their load.

So I got home with an open bar buzz, an empty stomach, and one thing on my mind. Pimiento cheese. Back home in the South, pimiento cheese spread was sold in tubs in the market, but I don’t remember anybody ever whippin’ any up in their kitchen. I fired up the Internets, and sat there like Otis of Mayberry, hiccupping and Googling for a pimiento cheese recipe.

What?!? It’s just cheddar, pimiento, and Hellmann’s? This can’t be. No mysterious “mom” type ingredients? Rather than enduring what’s now been ten years of pimiento cheese deprivation in NYC, I coulda been downin’ this stuff every time I get tipsy?

‘Tis true. And screw the recipes. I’ve made it two or three times over the past few days, and it works better without one. Most recipes I found call for way too much mayo, and others add salt to already salty ingredients. Just eyeball it. Shred whatever cheddary cheese you have on hand (I used white cheddar, extra sharp, and smoked gouda), then add mayonnaise and diced pimiento until it looks right. Optionals include garlic powder, Tabasco, crushed green olives, and a dash or two of chipotle sauce or liquid smoke. I’d skip the lettuce and tomato on a sandwich this subtle, but whatever blows your skirt up.

Pictured above (we’ll see if I can keep up this photo thing), I’ve dollopped some onto a warm, parbaked bretzel roll from FreshDirect. Like a soft baldy pretzel in bun form. These things are impossibly dense and moist, and the combination of flavors is a keeper. Bretzels are also good hot and slathered with honey butter, or piled with ham and Nance’s sharp mustard.

Drunkenness, optional.

JLo Packs on the Pounds!

A celebration of sweet, sweet irony. Dude photoshops celeb faces onto non-celeb bodies. Couple of 'em made me damn near lose my pudding. 'Specially this one...

Hell's Kitchen MILF

Some have asked why I don’t post pictures of the meals about which I write. As much as I enjoy food photos (‘tis my emergency back-up porn), it never occurs to me to shoot any. I’m not thinking “blog” when I’m eating, and even when someone’s camera is pulled out (as above), I just don’t think about pausing to shoot the food. I guess it’s that pausing thing that hinders me. Hungry girls have trouble with the pausing. Maybe I’ll work on this. In the meantime, close your eyes and imagine…

Empanada Mama. Clean. Cute. A brightly colored oasis on a dingyish block in Hell’s Kitchen. Filled up after we got there. A more than welcome respite from the heat, and even when they opened up the front and let in all 89 of the degrees, it never got too warm. Great music overhead. Paolo Conte, Jerry Mulligan, Sugarcubes. Attentive, pretty service.

I’m a corn meal person, but E-Mama’s corn flour empanadas were baked hard, and my carne molida was mostly tasteless, I’m afraid. I’d also skip the Chorizo Colombiano with griddle cake and lemon, from the tapas menu. The arepa was dense but flavor-free, and the sausage was underspiced and gristle-y.

No, the wheat flour empanadas are where all the greasy taste action is. Can’t remember what the beau had, but I enjoyed his, too, and we both ordered repeats. With all the interesting looking selections, I hated to do that, but I had to. The “Viagra” (my mouth was always too full to ask why they’re named that) was a seafood lover’s wet dream. Shrimp, scallops, and crab. I was sure they meant that Barbie Doll crab stuff, and when it arrived, it didn’t look like anything special. But holy mackerel, that’s one tasty tart. So, like a blue-shirt-with-a-white-collar-wearing divorced cokehead Porsche salesman, I gobbled up second Viagra and kept at it.

The hot sauce was of respectable heat and the green sauce was downright drinkable. But I opted for a champagne soda. Next time I’m trying the sangria. Might even try and get fruity drink drunk.

Took home a tasty Belgian Milk Chocolate & Banana dessert empanada, and devoured it for breakfast the next morning. (Oddly, there’s a picture of that, but I ain’t sharin’.)

Empanada Mama
763 Ninth Avenue at 51st Street, Manhattan

Other empanada joints at which I’ve gobbled with glee:

Havana Pies
219 E 23rd Street between Second & Third Aves, Manhattan
Wonderfully saucy Cuban-style empanadas. But there’s a good chance they’ve closed.

1748 First Avenue between 90th & 91st Streets, Manhattan
Argentinean. Most curiously delicious combination: celery and ricotta.

Now if only I could find a place that serves fried Coke without the accompanying aroma of cow manure, I’d be all set for the summer

Antabuse For a New Generation

I thought it was a joke. Then I saw it in the Rite-Aid with my own two bb blues. I read the manufacturer’s warning. Still kinda think it’s a joke. Noted for being the first FDA-sanctioned diet drug to be sold over the counter, and for the highly entertaining “side effects” copy, Alli (pronounced ‘ally’) has taken the diet world by storm. Shit storm.

“It's probably a smart idea to wear dark pants, and bring a change of clothes with you to work,” warns the manufacturer.

Alli works by blocking the absorption of 25% of consumed fat, releasing that 25% straight into the wild, often without warning. Naturally, diet-desperate Americans are unflinchingly gobbling up the $60 bottles as quickly as pharmacists can stock them. “Not since the 1987 post- Julio Iglesias run on penicillin have we seen anything like this,” said pharmacist Bill Buttspray of the Duane Reade at First Avenue and E. 91st Street in Manhattan.

Not really. Dude’s name probably tipped you off, huh? But they are comparing it to the Cipro-hungry days of the post-9/11 anthrax scare.

The more cynical among us must wonder whether GlaxoSmithKline perhaps weighed the negative publicity they’d surely get from the graphic and hilarious warning label against Americans’ vast gullibility, and determined that if people will voluntarily walk around with barf breath, and surgically remove most of a properly functioning organ, leaving them covered with hanging, runny skin flaps (this term co-opted with permission), then what’s a little excremental explosion at the office?

“The courteous young boys on my son’s Little League team were more than happy to hold a tarp up while I stood behind it and changed my poopy pants,” said one happy customer. “The sight of dozens of tiny hands struggling to keep their grip on that tarp made me realize what a beautiful world we live in.”

Again. Totally made that up. But if you had any idea how hard I laughed when typing it, you’d forgive me for misleading you.

“They tell you to carry extra pants around with you,” she went on, “but they don’t mention the tarp. You’ll want the tarp.”