By Brooke Jackson-Glidden, MUSE Food Editor
It’s official. We’ve been back from spring break for more than one week. Still feeling the effects of withdrawal? Got the mid-semester blues? Luckily, Brooke Jackson-Glidden, MUSE Food Editor, can look back at her spring break with more than just a forlorn feeling. And in typical foodie fashion, she looks back with her pleasantly rumbling stomach. Read on:
This spring break, I was lucky enough to spend a week in one of the great food capitals of the world: New York. As tough as it is for me to admit as a Bostonian, there’s just no place in the country (excluding maybe San Francisco) where it’s more fun to be a foodie than in The City. Chefs like Jean Georges Vongerichten and Mario Batali, restaurants like Eleven Madison Park and Le Bernadin, all call New York their home. The food coverage in The New York Times is some of the best in the country. James Beard winners, 25+ Zagat ratings, multiple Michelin stars litter the windows of restaurants that line the streets from Chinatown to Hell’s Kitchen.
It’s not my first time in New York. I’ve visited a couple of times in my life, but the experience I’ve had with New York in my restaurant research makes each visit feel much more familiar than it may be in reality. I couldn’t get you from NYU to Lincoln Center on a subway, but if you’re looking for burgers in the West Village, I can name at least three places referenced in Bon Appetit. I came to my friend’s apartment with my usual long list of restaurants, excited to visit the sandwich shops, noodle bars, pizza joints and sushi spots I found in the pages of the food magazines I love.
And then I ran out of money.
So, maybe I spent the last five days of my vacation eating packaged ramen three meals a day. But that didn’t keep me from recording my foodie highlights for my fellow Boston University foodies who see a trip to the city in their futures:
Sushi Yakasa – Upper West Side
This tiny Sushi spot hidden in plain sight serves inexpensive yet luxurious, melt-in-your-mouth hand rolls and sashimi. Now, Sushi Yakasa is no frills. They’re not trying to impress you with emulsions and panko crumbles. They offer the basics: simple yellowtail, eel, salmon, tuna, and either cucumber or avocado. And yet the fish is so fresh and cut so impeccably, you’ll remember why you fell in love with sushi in the first place. Also, don’t miss the miso soup – it’s only two dollars and as multifaceted as a good miso soup should be.
Xi’an Famous Foods – Queens, East Village, Brooklyn
Xi’an is far from a foodie secret at this point. Since they opened in Brooklyn, Xi’an has exploded into a frenzy of press praise and street recommendations. Anthony Bourdain loves it, Andrew Zimmern loves it, and, most importantly (duh), I love it. Every time I’m in New York, I have to stop by at least twice to get either the spicy and tingly lamb face salad, the spicy cumin lamb soup or maybe some Mt. Qi pork noodles. All the noodles are made in house, served dripping in spicy, oily broth. Xi’an’s unique flavor palate apparently has very traditional roots, but I have yet to taste anything like it at the Chinese restaurants at home or in Boston. An evening in the Village is not complete without a quick stop at Xi’an.
Empanada Mama – Hell’s Kitchen
I have a very special relationship with Empanada Mama. When I first arrived to visit my friends from home in the city, I had big plans to head straight for my personal favorite pizza place in New York, Bleecker Street Pizza. Nonetheless, my friends would not allow me to spend one more minute in New York without trying Empanada Mama. I begged them, but they would not yield. They told me they went to Empanada Mama so much they had transformed empanadas into their currency (For example, one of my friends said she didn’t want to go into the Village because it’s “two whole empanadas to get downtown.”) So, to my chagrin, we went to E.M. at about two a.m. They were as busy as ever, patrons munching on their tiny pockets and dipping them in bright green and red sauces. We ordered one of each for the table, and I wish I could adequately describe to you how great they were. I cannot even recommend one because they were all so good. I went back two more times that weekend.
Il Cantucco – Greenwich Village
Il Cantucco is my favorite sans-research discovery. I was walking down Christopher Street (of the stonewall riots), minding my own business, when I noticed an adorable Italian bakery on the corner. I stepped inside and was smacked in the face with one of my favorite smells from childhood: sweet, baking apricots. A woman at a small table in the corner had a small plate of biscotti samples, warm from the oven. In traditional Italian style, she picked one up and shoved it in my face – and I’m so glad she did. It was soft and sweet dough, beautifully juxtaposed with the tanginess of the whole chunks of apricot baked into the center. I decided to get one with one of their Nutella lattes. When I ordered my Nutella latte, I imagined a latte made with, I don’t know, chocolate and hazelnut syrups. Instead, I got a glass completely brown on the inside, smeared with nutella. That breakfast, dipping my biscotti in the smooth, sweet latte, rubbing the cookie against the glass to get a little ribbon of Nutella, and people-watching in one of the most interesting neighborhoods of New York – that breakfast helped me discover why being a foodie in Manhattan is unlike being a foodie anywhere else. There is no experience quite like walking right off the street into a restaurant, completely blind, and having an unforgettable experience. So my number-one recommendation for any foodie visiting New York is to take a risk and try something completely new. It’ll make you fall in love with the city as I did.
Bearburger – West Village
This all-organic burger joint’s exposed brick, print-covered clay bear heads, horribly ironic taste in music (did I just hear Daughtry?) and variety of sustainable ingredients make it a classic hipster hangout, but don’t be fooled – the food is up to snuff. The chocolate milkshake is dark and sultry with dark chocolate nibs, and the extensive menu with alternative protein and bun options made this restaurant stand out. The Californian (chili verde, avocado, watercress, sharp cheddar and tomato) tastes absolutely delightful with one of their beef burgers which, as they promise, taste much more wild and flavorful than the patties you get from a non-organic farm.
By Danielle Cantey, Staff Writer
“It’s just pop!” Sarah Palin exclaimed as she drank from a Big Gulp while mocking the recent overturning of the infamous New York City soda ban at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference, according to an article on ThinkProgress.com.
According to an article by The Wall Street Journal New York’s pending soda ban flopped when state Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling blocked the ban. Tingling argued that because New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg took the bill straight to the Board of Health instead of allowing it to pass through City Council, Bloomberg exceeded the parameters of his authority. A technical ending for what has proven to be a controversial issue.
The ban would prohibit the sale of sodas over 16 oz in concession stands at sporting arenas and movie theatres, food trucks, delis, and restaurants. Palin is not the only one to mock the ban. Countless others have mocked the ban while downplaying the seriousness of the harmful effects of sodas.
However, is soda really as arbitrary as critics make it seem? According to the Center for Disease Control over one-third of adults in the U.S. are obese, and about 17% -the equivalent of 12.5 million- children 2-19 years of age are obese. Obese. Not simply overweight. The inescapable fact of the matter is that the U.S. is extremely unhealthy. It is no secret that obesity leads to a variety of health issues such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and early deaths. Studies show that replacing soda with healthier drink alternatives (water, pure fruit juice) leads to immediate weight loss. Because of the case against the sugary carbonated drinks, others have taken note.
Cambridge Mayor Henrietta Davis and Boston Mayor Tom Menino have both voiced support of a soda ban in their respective cities. If a ban on a drink could save lives why is it so controversial? A slimmer nation requires less medical intervention for preventable diseases, in turn, yielding lower medical costs. Sure, removing large quantities of soda alone won’t end obesity in the U.S., but it’s a simple step towards promoting a healthy lifestyle. The fate of the proposed Cambridge and Boston soda bans remains to be seen now that New York’s ban has, at least temporarily, failed. Although with a culture so addicted to its soft drinks a world without 44oz containers of soda seems hard to imagine.
By Ryan Galindo, Staff Writer
I grew up thinking I had family that lived in the Philippines, Guam, Orlando, Fla. and Los Angeles. Nothing more, nothing less. And I believed that for 18 years.
When the time came for my me and my parents to decide where I would be going for college, I sat them down in our living room. I had applied to colleges all over the U.S. and was fortunate enough to be accepted to most of them. It was a surprise when my parents started listing off names of family members I never knew existed that lived nearby certain universities I was accepted to. The conversation went something like this:
Parents: Oh, Seattle University? You have cousins that live there.
Parents: You have an aunt that lives in New Jersey.
Parents: NYU and Fordham? We have family in New York.
Me: Oh my goodness!
Parents: Chaminad University? We have family in Honolulu, too.
I was dumbfounded.
Nonetheless, as confused as I was at this sudden revelation of our extended family tree, I was all the more excited to go to college. Yes, I’d have somewhere to stay during breaks, I thought to myself.
Thanksgiving weekend was the first opportunity I had to stay with my new found family. They live in a town outside Newark, N.J., so I took the bus from Boston to Newark Penn Station. It was a slow bus ride, prolonged by the holiday traffic and made longer by the anticipation I felt. I was going to meet these family members for the first time. All I knew was that my dad and the woman I was meeting were cousins, and that she and her husband had three children, all around my age.
When I got to Penn Station, I nervously stood in the cold waiting for them to pick me up. I was looking for a turquoise Nissan Altima, according to my new second cousin. Once it pulled up to the pick-up area, I saw my cousins waving out the window, smiling. And with that, all my anxiety was erased. They seem like nice people, I thought.
And I was right. From there we hit off pretty well. We have similar tastes in music and hobbies, and we like to eat, as demonstrated by our appetite during Thanksgiving dinner. Apparently, they didn’t know of my existence either. My dad’s cousin (their mother) had only informed them just recently. So that became another thing we had in common.
Like every person who’s never been to Guam, they asked me what Guam was like and how I like BU. In return, I asked the similar questions about New Jersey and their schools.
There was never a dull moment during the weekend. We went out every day, whether it was to go Black Friday shopping or going to New York City for the first time—which, by the way, was AMAZING. I’ve always wanted to visit the city, and now I can check that off my bucket list.
It was quite depressing when I had to go. I knew I’d miss them badly. But I’ve already made plans to return for spring break, so it wasn’t all that bad.
So this Thanksgiving, I was thankful for the five seemingly new family members I gained, who took me in and made me feel as loved and appreciated as if I’d known them my whole life. Surely, lots of people have relatives, however distant, they’ve never met. Go meet yours.