Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bits and Morsels in a pickle

The Pickle Guys pickle everything.

Have you been to Campagnola? Friends of mine love it and consider it one of their favorites. It’s located at 1382 First Avenue, and is well established as a dependable neighborhood Italian restaurant. I have been meaning to go for a while, so I jumped at the opportunity to go this weekend.

The first thing I noticed upon arrival was the a gaily-lit dining room flitted with comfortable diners in lively conversations. A very proficient pianist (named Effie) playing all the standards served as a lovely backdrop.
Next comes our efficient waiter with his blackboard above his head, listing of all the evening's specials. We ordered the Dover sole and eggplant rollatini, both specials, as well as a chopped salad and fried zucchini. I love the buttery sweet flavor of sole, but on this night, it was, quite simply, fishy. Though, fried zucchini always puts a smile on my face. I will go back and grab a drink at the bar, and try a pasta dish or two.

1382 First Avenue

Effie was playing piano at Campagnola. Cheese and olives to start.
The specials. Fried zucchini.
Chopped salad. Eggplant rollatini and mashed potatoes.
Dover Sole. Napolean.
On Sunday, I went to check out the brand new Hester Street Fair on the Lower East Side, located at the corner of Hester and Essex Streets. It features food vendors such as Luke’s Lobster Rolls, The Sigmund Pretzel Shop, and the Mile End Deli. I specifically went on Sunday to score a dozen Montreal bagels from the Mile End Deli, but they were absent from the fair. Turns out the Mile End only has a stand on Saturdays. Darn.

After leaving the fair I stopped at The Pickle Guys at 49 Essex Street. The tiny space is stuffed with barrels of pickled items. It is like walking into a garlic-infused aroma therapy treatment room.
Dishing out the sour pickles at the Pickle Guys.
The Lower East side was once filled with pickle shops, but the Pickle Guys are one of the few left, and the only pickle store on Essex Street. If you are in the area, it’s something to see even if you don't like pickles (they also sell olives and pickled vegetables). The guys in the store will let you sample pretty much anything you want. Just make sure you stand back when biting into these pickles, because they are juicy and will squirt. As long as you are mindful of the salt content, pickles are a relatively healthy snack ... so stock up when you visit the Pickle Guys. The Hester Street Fair is open on Saturdays and Sundays.
Some full sours to go ...
This is why I love twitter. Sunday night I (@nysddining) needed to eat near the 92nd St Y, so I tweeted to @eaterny that I needed a recommendation for the area. I got a few recommendations to check out Café D’Alsace. I’m happy I went because the dinner was great. And our waiter was wonderful (he happened to be a waiter in training). I can tell he is going to do well.

The bar at Cafe D'Alsace.
Café D’Alsace is the perfect place for a low-key Sunday night dinner especially on a raw and rainy night. Café D’Alsace serves hearty French and Alsatian cuisine with an impressive selection of beers. One of their signature dishes is the Cassoulet, which not many restaurants have the nerve to attempt. It’s a hearty stew comprising white beans, lamb shoulder, garlic sausage, duck sausage, foie gras and duck confit. I ordered the spatula and the string beans as side dishes. Spaetzle are mini-dumplings that are boiled and then sautéed in butter. The string beans were garlicky and crunchy. Both excellent. I am a firm believer that vegetables should always be on the table. Café’ D’Alsace was a most welcome end to an otherwise frustrating food weekend.

Café D’Alsace
1695 Second Avenue
( at 88th Street)
Clockwise from above: Our waiter, stephen Correia; Crusty bread served warm; side of string beans.
Spring salad. Asparagus and egg white omelette with fries.
The cassoulet. The spaetzle.
Vegetable risotto. Pear tart.
Forget about frozen yogurt shops. The city is soon going to be stocked with made-to-order pasta franchises. Within the next few months, two chains plan on opening up multiple locations where they will offer a wide variety of pasta with your choice of sauce. [WSJ]

William Degel, the owner of Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse,
is getting his own reality show. He owns 3 steakhouses and is looking to grow his empire. He seems like a colorful character, so it should make for some interesting television. [Crains]

Did you know that if you are not sleeping
at least 8 hours a night, you could be gaining weight? When you don’t sleep enough your appetite increases, leading to weight gain due to mindless eating. It all has to do with certain hormones that register how full you are after eating. A diet that starts with getting more sleep is my kind of plan. [NY Times]

Until we eat again,
Jordana Z.

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