Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

Sign in to follow this  
Megan Blocker

eG Foodblog: Megan Blocker - Food and the City

Recommended Posts

Good morning, all!

I'm really excited about doing my first foodblog, and I can't wait to show you around New York City, my adopted hometown. This week we'll be hitting the opera (pre-theatre dinner and during-intermission Champagne make it food-related!), Babbo, a couple of markets, and loads of other fun spots. I'll also be cooking a whole bunch, and giving it my all to make something I've never made before...but more on that later.

I've lived in Manhattan since graduating from college in 2001, and have loved it from day one. At first, my forays into the New York food scene were exclusively restaurant-based - milking my California-based mom for dinner at all the new places I wanted to try when she was in town, while eating Kraft dinner or Ramen at home when she wasn't. At some point, I realized how much money I could save and how much better I could treat myself if I actually started cooking for myself. I always had the skills (I used to throw brunches and cocktail parties), but just never cooked for myself on a regular basis.

Well, that's changed, and if I'm still not the most accomplished home cook I know (and certainly not anywhere close to it here on eGullet), I am one of the happiest.

I live on the Upper East Side, a neighborhood known for its museums, its palatial Park Avenue apartments, and its (clothes) shopping. I'm hoping to show you my version of the Upper East Side, filled with tiny coffee shops and tinier produce shops, fantastic bakeries and even the occasional decent restaurant. But not to worry - we'll also be making visits to SoHo, Chelsea, and Greenwich Village, at the very least.

I am off from work this week, since my mom is here from California, and am leaving right now to meet her for breakfast before she has to catch a plane home. :sad: But, I'll be back with a full report on breakfast and any adventures undertaken on the way home.

In the meantime, I'd love to hear from all of you - is there anything you'd like to see me do this week? Any place you'd like me to visit and photograph to death for you? Anything you think I should make? I have a bit of a head cold, and am pondering garlic soup for dinner tonight. Recommendations are VERY welcome!

See you soon!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the meantime, I'd love to hear from all of you - is there anything you'd like to see me do this week?  Any place you'd like me to visit and photograph to death for you?  Anything you think I should make?  I have a bit of a head cold, and am pondering garlic soup for dinner tonight.  Recommendations are VERY welcome!

So, I was right when I guessed you were up next!

Yes to the garlic soup if you have a cold (I have one, too).

Would you please make me some madelines?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey, Megan, this will be one cool week! Can hardly wait for the food and the pictures - I'll be visiting New York trough your eyes. Happy blogging!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yay!! I was hoping you were the blogger!

I will try to think of some NY things I miss that I'd like to see through your eyes.

Any chance you'll be going to Pegu? That's a place I'd really love to visit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Really looking forward to your blog, Megan. It's been awhile since I've been in NYC and I'm missing it desperately, EVERY photo will be welcome.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll be reading along, too, Megan! If you manage to make it over to the west side any time, there are some amazing Saudi dates at Fairway these days. And I'd second the motion for a trip to Pegu Club for a Pegu Club. :wink:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dumb-ish geography question that will make all NYCers shake their heads in silent wonder: Upper East Side? I've spent time in two main areas of NYC: Mt. Sinai Medical Center and the touristy stuff around the Empire State Building, et al. Is Mt. Sinai on the UWS or UES? I'm trying to imagine you in your environment.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Megan,

I love your amazing posts and pics in the "Dinner" thread, so I'm looking forward to your blog. I love NYC and look forward to lots of photos and information about your local grocers, butchers, bakers, coffee shops etc.....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yay, it's MEGAN! A week of froth AND substance! Please, your local stuff, and a shot of your kitchen, if you please?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cool, Megan! This will be fun, for sure. I'm glad you're going to Babbo, since I'm always looking at the gorgeous pictures in that cookbook. Other peoples' requests brings up a little question I've had for a while now - is it pronounced Peg-oo, or Peg-you? Either sounds weird to me!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Megan, I'm very excited to read your blog. What a wonderful, vicarious thrill I'll get from this.

When you go to Babbo, do NOT tell Mario that I had a dream about him. :huh:

Oh -- and when you go to Pegu, if that one really big bartender is still there, get a shot of his pose when he shakes his thang (the cocktail shaker! Get your minds out of the gutter ...) The man really gets down and goes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dumb-ish geography question that will make all NYCers shake their heads in silent wonder:  Upper East Side?  I've spent time in two main areas of NYC:  Mt. Sinai Medical Center and the touristy stuff around the Empire State Building, et al.  Is Mt. Sinai on the UWS or UES?  I'm trying to imagine you in your environment.

Quick orientation tip:

The numbered avenues west of Fifth all change to named avenues at 59th Street or when Broadway crosses them. The ones east of Fifth keep their numbers.

The avenues on the Upper West Side, from east to west: Central Park West (8th), Columbus (9th), Amsterdam (10th), Broadway (eventually 11th), West End (12th).

The avenues on the Upper East Side, from west to east: 5th, Madison, Park (=4th), Lexington, 3d, 2d, 1st, York (A). I think there may also be an East End (B) in a few places.

The major hospitals (except for Columbia-Presbyterian, which is all the way up in Washington Heights) are all on the Upper East Side.

Back to the topic:

I've never seen the inside of Zabar's or Fairway, so I'd really like to see pix of both, along with any of the good inexpensive places to eat in your neighborhood. As well as your kitchen and the obligatory fridge shot. I'm especially interested in the kitchen shot to see if a theory I have is proved or refuted. By way of explanation:

At lunch yesterday at a cute little old-school-Philly restaurant in Media, my überboss, the Assistant Vice President for University Relations, got to reminiscing of the time she lived in New York in the course of our conversation. I made the observation that New York abounds in decent, reasonably-priced places to eat just about everywhere you turn. I suggested that this was compensation for the astronomical cost of housing there, an explanation that my colleague took exception to, noting that she was paying more for her house in Media than her Manhattan apartment--but failing to note that she had a larger house all to herself whereas in Manhattan she shared a one-bedroom apartment with a roommate.

I didn't get around to my second explanation, which was that since the typical middle-class Manhattanite lives in an apartment with a kitchen you can barely turn around in, much of the time--especially for social occasions--it's easier to eat out than cook in. (To be fair, you will find kitchens of this type in Center City Philadelphia too. I almost moved into an apartment that had one a couple of years back.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dumb-ish geography question that will make all NYCers shake their heads in silent wonder:  Upper East Side?  I've spent time in two main areas of NYC:  Mt. Sinai Medical Center and the touristy stuff around the Empire State Building, et al.  Is Mt. Sinai on the UWS or UES?  I'm trying to imagine you in your environment.

Mt. Sinai is on the upper (upper) east side, along Fifth Avenue in the upper 90's, low 100's. Across from Central Park.

This map should give you an idea of where things are. Hope that helps!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm so happy to see a food blog from you, Meagan! I've been enjoying your additions to the Dinner! thread for quite a while and can't wait to see what this week brings.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dumb-ish geography question that will make all NYCers shake their heads in silent wonder:  Upper East Side?  I've spent time in two main areas of NYC:  Mt. Sinai Medical Center and the touristy stuff around the Empire State Building, et al.  Is Mt. Sinai on the UWS or UES?  I'm trying to imagine you in your environment.

Hey, Lori! Not a dumb question at all. Mt. Sinai is indeed on the Upper East Side - it's on the western border of the neighborhood (5th Avenue), and is about 10 blocks north of where I live. The area of the Upper East Side I live in is also called Yorkville. Here's a link to an interactive map of Manhattan neighborhoods - hope it helps!

The Upper East Side is a big place, extending from 5th Avenue and 59th Street to 110th Street and the East River, by some definitions. :smile:

ETA: Just saw Cleo's contribution - thanks!!!


Edited by Megan Blocker (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, this morning went pretty much as planned...I met my mom for breakfast around 9:30 at a spot called E.J.'s Luncheonette. E.J.'s has three outposts in Manhattan - one on Amsterdam in the West 80's, one in Greenwich Village, and one near me, at 73rd and 3rd. This is the one Mom and I visited today.

E.J.'s is known for large portions of good, solid comfort food - nothing fancy, but plenty of hangover cures to be had, which may explain why they're packed to the gills on weekend mornings. This morning was pretty quiet, about half full. Mom had eggs overeasy, bacon and challah toast with raspberry jam. I had "crispy french toast," which is challah coated in egg, cornflakes and crushed almonds, then fried up in butter. Served with syrup and more butter. It was good - my cold is preventing me from tasting a whole lot, so it seemed bland, but it could just have been my impaired taste buds doing their thing - or not, as the case may be.

gallery_28660_2588_3186.jpg

Sorry for the small picture! ImageGullet and I were having a bit of a tiff...we've made up for now, but that picture was the collateral damage, I fear.

After saying goodbye to my mom, I walked uptown to Eli's, a market owned by Zabar's founder Eli Zabar. Eli's can be expensive - their produce in particular seems pricey to me - but they're great for cheeses, prepared foods and breads. Also, unlike Zabar's across town, Eli's is relatively sane, even on a Saturday morning.

I needed to grab garlic, onions and bread for the garlic soup I'm making this afternoon, and also needed to pick up some stock - I don't have much in the freezer right now, so I figure theirs is the next-best thing to homemade. Here's a photo tour of what I found!

Eli's entrance on Third Avenue, looking northeast:

gallery_28660_2588_27825.jpg

When you enter Eli's, you walk through a small florist's area, and then you hop on the escalator that will take you down to the market's main floor...

gallery_28660_2588_21711.jpg

The escalator dumps you into the produce section - I thought the citrus looked particularly good!

gallery_28660_2588_11495.jpg

gallery_28660_2588_53635.jpg

After you pass through the produce section (where I ended up grabbing the aforementioned onions and garlic as well as a lemon for the endless cups of tea I'm drinking to combat my cold), you enter the prepared foods section. There's a small cooler with sandwiches (brisket with roasted onions on health bread is a typical offering), the requisite sushi, and then shelf upon shelf of soups, stocks, dips, dressings, and the like. This is where I picked up my chicken stock - I noticed that they are also carrying schmalz these days, though I prefer to buy that at the kosher butcher in my block.

gallery_28660_2588_26000.jpg

Close to the prepared foods are the olive and pickle bar and the cheese section. The photo I took does not do the cheese section justice - the service here is great, as are the descriptions of each cheese offered on the placards. I am not a huge cheese-easter, but usually serve some to guests, and the folks at Eli's are great about letting me know what will go well with my favorite olives and cornichons.

gallery_28660_2588_4642.jpg

gallery_28660_2588_31594.jpg

I didn't get a chance to document them, but the meat and fish counters are great here, too - recently, the NY Times did an expose on "wild" salmon being sold at counters around NYC, and only Eli's was found to be carrying the real thing.

Before you make it to the escalator that will take you into the baked goods section, you pass through the dry goods area - nuts, dried fruits, coffee, vinegar and oils...all good, though, as noted above, slightly pricey.

gallery_28660_2588_14116.jpg

And, here's the view on the up escalator!

gallery_28660_2588_7483.jpg

The baked goods at Eli's are awesome - they have the most delicious mini-toasts that are great for parties, and their breads are amazing and relatively cheap. They also always have samples of at least one baked good available for tasting. Today it was some sort of coffee cake, and the gentleman whose hand is in the picture was really enjoying his third taste! :laugh:

gallery_28660_2588_30616.jpg

I was very taken by these muffins...

gallery_28660_2588_24384.jpg

But I was a good girl. I reminded myself that I was there for bread, and set myself to the task of choosing just one! At first I thought I might go with this one...

gallery_28660_2588_207935.jpg

And this is one of my favorites...

gallery_28660_2588_25514.jpg

But then I decided on this one:

gallery_28660_2588_182116.jpg

On my way toward the checkout counter, I passed the salad bar. This is one of my favorite take-away spots. I'll stop by after work and grab a piece of chicken or a cornish game hen, slap some green beans with garlic in there, and head home.

gallery_28660_2588_28964.jpg

gallery_28660_2588_15034.jpg

I hit the dairy section briefly to pick up some eggs, and saw this gorgeous L'Escure butter. Yum. I resisted temptation, though.

gallery_28660_2588_19562.jpg

Finally, I made it out.

And now I'm home, and will soon start on the garlic soup!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Cool, Megan!  This will be fun, for sure.  I'm glad you're going to Babbo, since I'm always looking at the gorgeous pictures in that cookbook.  Other peoples' requests brings up a little question I've had for a while now - is it pronounced Peg-oo, or Peg-you?  Either sounds weird to me!

Hey, Abra! I'm psyched for Babbo, too! :smile:

Pegu is pronounced "Peg-oo." Weird? Perhaps. But freakin' good, too! :laugh:

Sounds like a trip to Pegu is in my future...I am a slave to popular demand. Likewise, I will definitely make a batch of madeleines at some point!

Now, Fabulous Food Babe, I would never tell Mario that you had a dream about him...though I'm curious to know what it was about, myself! As for pics of the bartenders at Pegu, you can count on it, if they're not too camera-shy. Maybe it's time for my ultra-zoom spygirl lens? :wink:

I didn't get around to my second explanation, which was that since the typical middle-class Manhattanite lives in an apartment with a kitchen you can barely turn around in, much of the time--especially for social occasions--it's easier to eat out than cook in. (To be fair, you will find kitchens of this type in Center City Philadelphia too. I almost moved into an apartment that had one a couple of years back.)

I think this is probably true - I've been lucky to have decent-sized kitchens during my tenure in New York, but I've also sought out apartments with that feature. Most people who live in studios (like I do) have kitchens that are essentially a couple of appliances in the corner of the main living area. I have a separate, eat-in kitchen, and though it's not big on counter space, it's big on room to move - which is nice, especially when people feel the urge to help you out in the kitchen!

As for the abundant, affordable food making up for the lack of entertaining space, I do think that's true. You can eat better for less in New York than in most places, I suspect. Of course, you can also spend more for complete crap. :laugh:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey, Megan! Welcome to the world of bloggers!

I'm already enjoying this blog. I've been in NYC once, long ago, and I enjoyed the visit. It'll be fun to visit vicariously. I especially enjoy seeing the variety of foods available in big cities, and it looks like you'll make a good show of them.

Where in California does your mother live? If it isn't too far OT - are you originally from the West Coast, and if so, what brought you east?

I don't know enough about NYC to make requests, but everything suggested so far sounds great. It's never occurred to me to wonder what Babbo's is like inside; all I know is Mario's cookbooks. Of course we want to see what your kitchen looks like, too.

Blog on!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Megan, Im very much looking forward to your description of your neighborhood's little treasures. Thanks for blogging!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

:biggrin:

Marvelous! It's been nearly three years since I visited NYC. I look forward to an update.

Artisanal (speaking of gorgeous cheeses) didn't impress me immensely when I last tried it. Have you been there? May I hope for better, more recent news?

:biggrin:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you all so much for all of your good wishes! This is one of the reasons I love eGullet so much - people are so supportive and encouraging! :biggrin:

OK, cheezeball moment is over for now!

Where in California does your mother live?  If it isn't too far OT - are you originally from the West Coast, and if so, what brought you east?

Hey, Smithy!

My mom currently lives in Fresno, and has been there for a little more than six years now. She moved during my senior year of college. I was born and raised in Connecticut (Greenwich) and went to boarding school in New Hampshire and college outside Philly. I'm definitely a born and bred Northeaster, and much more a New Englander than anything else. However, NYC always had a special sort of allure for me when I was growing up nearby, and I always pictured myself living here as an adult.

Eventually I'd like to try some other cities on for size, but I really do love it here.

On a side note, the garlic soup (from the new Cooking of Soutwest France) is simmering on the stove. I just chopped two onions and half a head of garlic, and didn't smell any of it. WEIRD! Stupid head cold. :angry:


Edited by Megan Blocker (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ooooohhh Megan! I can't wait to see the foodworld that looms behind those glorious bowls of risotto, and the plates of golden madeleines...

I went to Babbo when I was in New York 2 years ago.. it was the best meal we had in NY.. so I'm very excited about you going there! This is going to be a great week!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
Sign in to follow this  

  • Similar Content

    • By sartoric
      We’ve just returned from a fun filled 16 days on the beautiful island of Sri Lanka. The food was fantastic, the people friendly, the markets chaotic, the temples serene, the mountains breathtaking, the wildlife plentiful and the weather ? Well, you can’t have everything, it was mostly hot, and at times very wet. 
       
      Why Sri Lanka ? We loved time spent earlier this year in southern India, especially the food. Sri Lanka lies just off the southern tip of India and has been influenced over time by various invading Indian dynasties.  Often referred to as the spice Island, it’s been an important trading post for centuries. Other countries have also played their part in shaping Sri Lankan cuisine. The Portuguese arrived in the early part of the 16th century, the Dutch gained control in the 17th century, the British had control by 1815, and independence was proclaimed in 1948. Throughout these years, Chinese traders also contributed to the evolution of Sri Lanka. 
       
      So, what’s the food like ? Delicious !
       
      Our first night was spent at a homestay in the coastal city of Negombo. All day the rain bucketed down. It was difficult to go anywhere else, so we asked our hosts to provide dinner. Good move ! 
       
      The rain let up long enough for a quick quick visit to the fish market, the first of several we’d see.

       
       
      Our hostess made 10 different dishes including a mango curry where I watched her pluck the fruit from the tree in the front yard. There was sour fish curry,  chicken curry, dal, several veggie curries, chutney, two rice and roti bread. The meal cost 900 rupees pp, or about $6. Gosh it was good. Lousy photo, some better ones to come.

       
    • By Duvel
      “… and so it begins!”
       
      Welcome to “Tales from the Fragrant Harbour”!
      In the next couple of days I am hoping to take you to a little excursion to Hong Kong to explore the local food and food culture as well as maybe a little bit more about my personal culinary background. I hope I can give you a good impression of what life is like on this side of the globe and am looking very forward to answering questions, engaging in spirited discussions and just can share a bit of my everyday life with you. Before starting with the regular revealing shots of my fridge’s content and some more information on myself, I’d like to start this blog and a slightly different place.
      For today's night, I ‘d like to report back from Chiba city, close to Tokyo, Japan. It’s my last day of a three day business trip and it’s a special day here in Japan: “Doyou no ushi no hi”. The “midsummer day of the ox”, which is actually one of the earlier (successful) attempts of a clever marketing stunt.  As sales of the traditional winter dish “Unagi” (grilled eel with sweet soy sauce) plummeted in summer, a clever merchant took advantage of the folk tale that food items starting with the letter “U” (like ume = sour plum and uri = gourd) dispel the summer heat, so he introduced “Unagi” as a new dish best enjoyed on this day. It was successful, and even in the supermarkets the sell Unagi-Don and related foods. Of course, I could not resist to take advantage and requested tonight dinner featuring eel. Thnaks to our kind production plant colleagues, I had what I was craving …
      (of course the rest of the food was not half as bad)

      Todays suggestion: Unagi (grilled eel) and the fitting Sake !
       

      For starters: Seeweed (upper left), raw baby mackerel with ginger (upper right) and sea snails. I did not care for the algae, but the little fishes were very tasty.
       

      Sahimi: Sea bream, Tuna and clam ...
       

      Tempura: Shrimp, Okra, Cod and Mioga (young pickled ginger sprouts).
       

      Shioyaki Ayu: salt-grilled river fish. I like this one a lot. I particularly enjoy the fixed shape mimicking the swimming motion. The best was the tail fin
       

      Wagyu: "nuff said ...
       

      Gourd. With a kind of jellied Oden stock. Nice !
       

      Unagi with Sansho (mountain pepper)
       

      So, so good. Rich and fat and sweet and smoky. I could eat a looooot of that ...
       

      Chawan Mushi:steamed egg custard. A bit overcooked. My Japanese hosts very surprised when I told them that I find it to be cooked at to high temperatures (causing the custard to loose it's silkiness), but they agreed.
       

      Part of the experience was of course the Sake. I enjoyed it a lot but whether this is the one to augment the taste of the Unagi I could not tell ...
       

      More Unagi (hey it's only twice per year) ...
       

      Miso soup with clams ...
       

      Tiramisu.
       

      Outside view of the restaurant. Very casual!
      On the way home I enjoyed a local IPA. Craft beer is a big thing in Japan at the moment (as probably anywhere else in the world), so at 29 oC in front of the train station I had this. Very fruity …

       
      When I came back to the hotel, the turn down service had made my bed and placed a little Origami crane on my pillow. You just have to love this attention to detail.

    • By KennethT
      OK.... here we go again!!!  While this post is a bit premature (we don't take off until around 1:30AM tonight), I am extremely excited so I figured I'd just set up the topic now.  As in previous foodblogs, I may post a bit from time to time while we're there, depending on how good my internet connection is, and how much free time I have... but the bulk of posting will really get started around July 9th - the day after we get home (hopefully without too much jetlag!!!)
    • By Ian Dao
      Hi everyone, 
       
      Recently, I just found this paradise for Foodie and it is my pleasure to be here. My name is Ian and I am from Salzburg. I love to eat but have to hold myself back before I could roll faster than walk. Last month, I started my own food blog (mostly about restaurant, travel and stories). Reasons I want to be here are to improve my knowledge about food/wine and to learn more how to describe ingredients around me. 
       
      Thank you and have a great week =D 
       
      Guten Hunger (German)
      Mahlzeit (Austrian) 
      --> Enjoy your meal =D 
       
      www.iandao.com
    • By sartoric
      We're 50 something Aussies who enjoy travelling, eating, cooking, markets, kitchen shops, cooking utensils, animals & plants (often food related), architecture & photography (both kitchens and food) and exploring different cultures (of which food is a big part). The trip was January 14 - February 6, it was just marvellous. My favourite meal is now masala dosa with sambar, I had many. Here's some highlights of the food.
       
      A late afternoon snack of Sichuan pepper squid was washed down with a beer at the Ajantha Seaview Hotel on the promenade in Pondicherry. It's a colonial building with a first floor terrace overlooking the colourful display of women in their finest, and the Bay of Bengal. We're here on a Monday public holiday for the Pongal festival, a four day celebration of the harvest, with many different ceremonies and traditions.
       
       

       
      A visual bonus, cows (and sometimes goats) get their horns painted and wear flower garlands or other decorations.

       
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×