Category Archives: New York

Rockaway Beach’s New Wave

A red and white bullseye beach umbrella at Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York.

One of my favorite parts of summer is taking the ‘A’ train out to Rockaway Beach in Queens.

I love watching the huge waves continuously crash against the shore and seeing all the surfers who come to ride them. It’s a relaxing escape from the city without even leaving its limits.

The weather today was slightly overcast and a bit chilly, but as you can see, that didn’t stop people from enjoying the Rockaway’s charms.

People crowd the beach on a Wednesday afternoon at Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York.

A man builds a sand castle along Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York.

Typically I pack a little lunch for myself since most of the concessions usually involve fluorescent yellow cheese or dirty water hot dogs.

This year, however, the boardwalk at Rockaway Beach has been taken over by some of the best vendors in the city.

Blue Bottle Coffee along the boardwalk at Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York.

San Francisco-based Blue Bottle Coffee opened up shop at Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York, for summer 2011.

Blue Bottle's drip coffee at their Rockaway Beach, Queens, location.

I was particularly excited when I heard that San Francisco-based Blue Bottle Coffee was setting up a beachfront shop. Their New Orleans-style iced coffee is the most perfect drink for the beach.

Caracas at Rockaway Beach serves up arepas, micheladas and more.

They share their airy space with the East Village empanada joint Caracas. Caracas is serving up arepas and tangy micheladas in addition to bean and cheese or fish empanadas.

A michelada from Caracas at Rockaway Beach.

Just a few doors down is Rockaway Taco, the vendor who started this Rockaway revitalization.

Rippers at Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York

Rippers, a Rockaway Beach collaboration between Brooklyn's Roberta's and The Meat Hook.

One of our favorite restaurants has even been sucked into the surf, so to speak.

Roberta’s has teamed up with The Meat Hook to open Rippers, a surf shop meets burger joint that serves up twisted takes on concessions of yore. Go here for your hot dogs, but they won’t be rotating on a rusty grill all afternoon.

If you get a chance to head out that way, don’t forget your appetite along with your sunscreen.

– Ryan

A cook at Rippers in Rockaway Beach, Queens, prepares fresh French fries.

A surfer holds his surf board at Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York

 A "Fish Boat" from Motorboat and the Big Banana

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A Fourth of July Treat From Imperial Woodpecker Sno-Balls

Imperial Woodpecker Sno-Balls, located at the corner of Charles Street and 7th Avenue in Manhattan's West Village, serves up New Orleans-style shaved ice..

As we were trying to beat the summer heat today, Laura and I were desperately seeking somewhere cool and refreshing.

Twitter came to our rescue when we saw that Imperial Woodpecker Sno-Balls—one of our neighborhood’s newest shops—was open today.

The interior at the West Village's Imperial Woodpecker Sno-Balls.

Located at the corner of Charles Street and 7th Avenue in the West Village, Imperial Woodpecker serves New Orleans-style shaved ice in almost 40 flavors. We tried tried the ultra-refreshing Mojito flavor, but old favorites like Tiger’s Blood and Dreamsicle are also on the menu.

The shop may be small, but it’s big on charm—floor-to-ceiling windows compliment a cheery color scheme and relaxed feel. It’s even run by two Southern gals, one from New Orleans, and one from Georgia. Perfect.

Serving up New Orleans-style shaved ice at the West Village's Imperial Woodpecker Sno-Balls.

We recommend stopping by tonight before going to watch fireworks. (At the High Line, perhaps?) If you stop by between 7-9 p.m., they’ll have live music and cool treats!

Hope you’re having a fantastic holiday!

– Ryan and Laura

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Perfect for the Weekend: Papalo Guacamole

Ingredients for Guacamole

On Friday, my good friend (and chef) Billy Barlow gave me a small leafy herb to experiment with over the weekend. Before I even knew what it was, I noticed that it had a very pungent aroma that smelled slightly of soap, and that it tasted like a stronger version of cilantro.

“It’s papalo!” he told me—certainly not something you find at just any greenmarket around town. Indeed, Billy had sourced his from Blooming Hill Farm in New Jersey.

Intrigued by the herb’s peculiar flavor, I got Billy to give me a few clumps of the exotic herb to throw in something at home. “A little goes a long way,” he warned me as he gave me just a few leaves.

Once I got home, Laura and I talked about how we wanted to use it. It was a nice summer day outside, so considering that and the fact that we are both Texans by birth, we decided the only thing it could rightly be used in was guacamole.

Fresh Avocados for Guacamole

Deseeding a Jalapeño

Laura had told me that her dad, in addition to being a badass cyclist (see photo), makes a mean guacamole, so I left the prep work and mixing up to her, but it’s really pretty simple: a few avocados, mashed together with chopped onion, jalapeño, tomato and cilantro (or papalo, in our case).

The Beginnings of Guacamole

Billy was right about a little going a long way–the few leaves we used were more than enough to add a new flavor to an old standby.

Easy Homemade Guacamole

Using papalo in place of cilantro definitely yielded a different guacamole than we were used to, but it wasn’t a bad thing at all. The papalo’s sharp taste seemed to cut right through the jalepeño’s spice to create what we determined was an almost floral note.

Sitting on the Fire Escape

Along with a couple of margaritas, we sat out on our fire escape and enjoyed our new creation while thinking up other ways to use our newfound herbaceous friend.

Have a safe and fun holiday weekend!

– Ryan

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Greenmarket Cocktails, Take Two

Cherries, Gooseberries and Chamomile

We had so much fun mixing up a few greenmarket cocktails last week that we decided to do it again.

But, this time, a caveat: one of Ryan’s co-workers said that all of our drinks were too girly (hi, Graham!) and requested that we make more “manly” drinks this time around.

I didn’t think any of last week’s drinks were particularly feminine—okay, maybe lavender is a little too “ladies who lunch”—but we aim to please, so this week we broke out the bourbon and mezcal and got to work.

Gooseberries

This week’s cast of characters: fresh gooseberries from Kerran Farms in New Jersey, cherries from Locust Grove Fruit Farm in Milton, New York, and fresh chamomile.

The first drink we mixed ended up being our personal favorite. In fact, we made another one later in the evening and will probably keep drinking it throughout the summer. We’re calling it a Summer In Manhattan.

Summer In Manhattan Cocktail

First, muddle 5-6 cherries with a 1/2 tsp. superfine sugar and a 1/2 oz. of freshly-squeezed lemon juice. Then, add 1 oz. of Luxardo Maraschino, 2 oz. of bourbon (we used Bulleit Bourbon), a dash of Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla bitters. (P.S. you can get them here!)

Cherries, Gooseberries, and a Cocktail

Shake vigorously and served in an old-fashioned glass, preferably with a big ‘ol sphere of ice and garnish with a lemon twist.

The cherries were much sweeter than anticipated so we tweaked this drink a few times until we perfected it. The final product (the above recipe) is a perfect balance—the overly sweet cherries are complemented by the oaky smoothness of the bourbon and the cherry bark bitters added an entirely new dimension. (Of course, I still can’t get over the drink’s carmine hue. I thought my hands would be stained with cherry juice for weeks!)

Next up: gooseberries!

You’re probably wondering a) what is a gooseberry, and b) what can you do with a gooseberry?

They have the texture of a grape, the interior appearance of a more-solid passionfruit, and the flavor of a slightly less sweet raspberry. Now you’re even more confused, I’m sure. Apparently you can make all sorts of tasty jams and jellies with them, but that didn’t sound nearly as fun as mixing them into a cocktail.

Gooseberry Cocktail

I kept it pretty simple with this drink. I initially wanted to do a take on a paloma, but gooseberries are such a strange ingredient that I didn’t want to overwhelm the palate with gooseberries, lime, and grapefruit.

I muddled six little gooseberries (Ryan pointed out that they look like little striped beach balls!), then added a 1/2 oz. of lime juice, 1/2 oz. of simple syrup, 1/2 oz. of St. Germain and a 2 oz. of Fidencio Clásico mezcal. Shake, strain and serve in a coupe, garnished with a lime wheel and a spare gooseberry.

When I went to buy the mezcal at Astor, I actually had the opportunity to meet Arik Torren, the chief operating officer of Fidencio Mezcal. Arik was hosting a tasting of all three of Fidencio’s mezcals and offering tastings of a few different cocktails made with them.

All of Fidencio’s mezcals are “sin humo,” or without smoke, which produces a lighter, smoother mezcal than some others on the market. I initially went into Astor to purchase another brand of mezcal, but after trying all three varieties of Fidencio, I was sold.

Gooseberry Cocktail

The finished product, which we’re calling La Grosella (gooseberry in Spanish), was similar to a margarita, as you would expect, but the mezcal added more depth than just a regular bottle of agave tequila would have. The gooseberries complemented the elderflower notes in the St. Germain, while the lime added a perfect citrus kick at the end of the palate.

I think this drink would be particularly good in a larger scale—perhaps in a pitcher at a barbecue? (If you host, I’ll make it.)

Finally, the chamomile.

The chamomile was a total impulse buy at the Union Square Greenmarket the other day.

We were down to our last dollar when I saw it and knew it was a must-get. A must-get for what, I didn’t know, but the ropy, fragrant vines sold me right away.

I made a few different drinks with it, but I ultimately decided it works best in a Tom Collins or Gin Fizz-type drink, and thus, the Chamomile Fizz was born.

Chamomile Fizz Cocktail

I coarsely chopped the chamomile, blossoms and all, and muddled it with a 1/2 oz. of sugar and a 1/2 oz. of lemon juice. Then, I added 2 oz. of gin. We used Plymouth again here, but Hendrick’s would really be fantastic, if you have it. Then, add an egg white to the shaker.

Shake, strain, and serve in a Collins glass. Top with soda and garnish with more chamomile.

If you shake vigorously enough (which you always should!), you should have a beautiful white, foamy head after topping with the soda. Ours almost looked like cream!

Chamomile Fizz Cocktail

This drink, despite the feminine ingredient, was quite possibly the most manly of the bunch! The chamomile was incredibly earthy and played so well with the botanicals in the gin. It also remained subtle and not too sweet. It was a great drink to sip slowly, even after the enthusiastic foam had subsided.

We were quite pleased with this batch overall. If the market agrees and offers more fun bounty, we’ll be mixing even more creations up next week.

– Laura

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Pride in the Village

2011 NYC Gay Pride Celebration

Yesterday marked the 42nd Annual NYC Gay Pride March in New York City. This year’s festivities held an extra special significance for New Yorkers, thanks to the recently passage of same-sex marriage in the New York State Senate.

NYC Gay Pride 2011 Celebration

2011 NYC Gay Pride Celebration

Laura and I walked out to Bleecker Street to admire the costumes (or lack thereof) of the parade-goers. Many local businesses were hosting pride parties of their own, complete with speakers blasting music out into the streets.

We were particularly struck by A.O.C’s pride party—the normally tranquil French bistro had been taken over, as dancers filled the windows and queens struck poses in the doorway.

NYC Gay Pride 2011 Celebration

We continued to wind around police barricades and cutting through the seemingly endless crowds along Christopher Street until we made it to our destination of the evening.

Sheep's Milk Ricotta Gnudi at the Spotted Pig

The Spotted Pig held its annual pride party on the second and third floors of the restaurant, though diners on the cramped first floor were treated to the multiple glam entrances of the parade’s revelers.

"Don't Be a Drag, Be a Queen," at the Spotted Pig

Upstairs, guests were invited to try the “Don’t Be a Drag, Just Be a Queen” shot special, made with house-infused vanilla vodka with ginger syrup served from an anatomically-correct bust, sculpted from ice.

Ryan and Robinson at the Spotted Pig

Jenga at the Spotted Pig

Meanwhile, on the third floor, the celebrations continued. There was much singing. There was dancing. Many heated games of Jenga were played.

The Third Floor at the Spotted Pig

On our walk home the streets were still packed with people hugging and congratulating one another. The jubilation of the crowd was undying and continued long past our bedtime, I’m sure.

It was a day to not only be proud of who you are, but a great day to be a proud citizen of a brave state.

Happy Pride Weekend to all!

-Ryan

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