Chick’nCone Waffles

I stopped by Gansevoort Market on my way to the Whitney the other night and discovered that The Meatball Guys, who were charging $6 for a single meatball (albeit an artisanal, fairly delicious meatball), had gone out of business. They were replaced by Chick’nCone, which takes the inherent glory of fried chicken and waffles and turns it into what’s supposed to be a hand-held, on-the-go version of the dish – basically an ice cream waffle cone filled with chicken chunks.

For under $9, it’s competitive with the rest of the offerings at Gansevoort Market. But the Chick’nCone tastes more like an industrialized version of itself, more akin to something Tyson might have extruded into a bag and stuffed onto the shelves of your supermarket’s freezer aisle than the artisanal creation it’s posing as.

In fairness, the chunks of chicken, albeit overly sweet and soggy from all the sauce, were at least quality meat. Which is almost a shame because they smother it with so much sauce (I would have loved to try a sauce-free version) that they could have easily gone with McNuggetesque bird scraps and you wouldn’t really be able to tell the difference. But the real problem was the waffle cone, which was way too sweet and fragile – like one of those supermarket waffle cones instead of one you’d find in a high-end creamery.

Chicken and waffles work so well together because of the combined taste and the texture. But if you pour globs of sweet BBQ sauce onto soggy chunks of chicken stuffed into a sugary, brittle cone, then that’s an entirely different combination – and not a winning one as far as I’m concerned.

Corner Slice and the Gotham West Market

Given all the hype Corner Slice has received, it took me forever to get over to Gotham West Market and try this new pizza joint for myself. Though Eleventh Avenue between 44th and 45th Streets, where this food hall is located, isn’t exactly a convenient location. And despite all the new development that’s been slowly creeping west along 42nd Street, there’s little if any reason to wander over that way – other than the perennial reason that is the Landmark Tavern.

But I was headed to Pier 94 for Art New York, the annual international contemporary and modern art fair. So I decided to approach from the south, grabbing a late lunch at Gotham West along the way.

This relatively new food hall is a nice looking place. And it seemed spacious, though likely due to the fact that it was completely empty on a Thursday afternoon, despite crowds starting to amass nearby to heckle El Trumpo, who was paying a visit to the Intrepid…presumably in search of more seamen.

I went straight to Corner Slice, which is indeed located in the corner of the food hall. They specialize in what most New Yorkers call a “grandma” slice, though even that has many variations. In a nutshell, it’s basically a traditional, thin crust with a Sicilian shape – rectangular pies cut into square slices. The real distinguishing factor is the heavier sauce, which typically includes chunks of tomatoes, along with slightly less cheese. And some go as far as putting the sauce on top of the cheese, but the Corner Slice has the cheese on top with the tomato chunks occasionally busting through.

I ordered a slice of their margherita and a slice of soppressata, which is their version of pepperoni. With a small iced root beer, it came to $9.75, which isn’t bad given all the fanfare.

And the pizza wasn’t bad, either. It wasn’t particularly warm, but it was a good grandma slice – on par with what you can get a neighborhood places like Delizia’s. Their dough might give them a slight edge, as it’s similar to focaccia bread.

Corner Slice might have genuinely impressed if the pizza had been fresh, or at least a little warmer, perhaps with another sprinkle of cheese. But that’s how they served it, so that’s how I’m judging it. After all, it’s not like they were in a rush…there was only one other customer besides myself.

Being a food hall, Gotham West Market has a number of other options to choose from. And in an impressive (and, let’s be honest here, totally unprecedented) feat of self-control, I was able to walk by Ample Hills, which is one of the vendors there, without ordering their salted crack caramel ice cream. Yes, I’m actually crediting myself with not eating something, because that shit is so damn good that resisting it becomes noteworthy.

As for Corner Slice, I don’t think it lived up to the heavy hype. Maybe it did when it first opened, but that was less than two months ago. They can’t be phoning it in already, can they? Or maybe if you live in that area, which still remains a relative wasteland of culinary options, something like Corner Slice would seem like a gift from the gods. But it can’t even compare to the four pillars – John’s (Bleecker Street), Patsy’s (East Harlem), Lombardi’s (Spring Street), and Totonno’s (Coney Island) – let alone something like Roberta’s.

I might give it another try if I am ever in the neighborhood again. Perhaps on my way to next year’s Art New York? But unless you have a reason to be over there, you can probably do just as well with a grandma slice from your local pizza joint.

 

Vape, Vape, Vape and the Edibles

I’ve already touted the joys of vaping, but I wanted to follow-up on another aspect of vaping: edibles. You see, not only do I use about a third less marijuana when vaping than I used when smoking, but I can also make edibles from that thrice-vaped weed.

Having amassed a generous amount of ABV (Already Been Vaped) marijuana, I decided it was time to experiment with using it to make edibles. Recipes for making edibles from ABV vary widely in terms of both measurements and methodologies.

As noted, I typically vape my weed three times, meaning I’ll vape the same “bowl” on consecutively higher temperatures to get three separate “sessions” out of it (which is amazingly economical when you consider that I would have blown through that bowl in a single session using traditional smoking methods). As a result, my ABV tends to be a darker cocoa brown than most of the images I’ve seen in ABV recipes online. So I figured I’d need to use more of it, though I remained mindful of the cautions concerning using too much…Maureen Dowdism.

There also seemed to be some confusion across the Internet as to whether you need to heat or even cook the stuff, the way you would when trying to extract the goodness from regular marijuana. The answer is no, you do not heat or cook the ABV. You can simply use it “as is.”

ABVpbuttoast

I took a level tablespoon ABV, ground it into a powder, and then mixed that with about 4 ounces of peanut butter. I then let is sit overnight so the oil could absorb it (apparently that helps get it into your bloodstream better). The following day, I took half of that peanut butter – about 2 ounces – and spread it on toast.

I thought I felt an immediate hit, but I must have just been giddy with excitement. After about 30 minutes, I was wondering. But, by 50 minutes, I could definitely feel it coming on. And by the hour-mark, I knew I didn’t need to eat the rest. I had a nice pleasant buzz – nothing too debilitating – for at least five hours (I went to sleep around then, so hard to tell precisely).

The following weekend I spread the other two ounces – which had been sitting in a covered container all week – on toast and ate that. The results were the same but I actually woke up the next morning with a mild buzz – a good 12 hours later. That’s pretty impressive.

Moving forward, I now feel I’ve got a good handle on this. I’m going to try a heaping teaspoon of ABV, ground and mixed in with peanut butter, and see how that works. There are three teaspoons in a tablespoon, so I’m thinking this might be a good dosage that won’t leave me fried the following morning.

So, not only do I get three sessions out of what I used to consume in one, but the scrap can be collected to make no-need-to-cook edibles. Add in the fact that vaping has to be healthier than smoking, and I’m even more excited about all of this. Vape, Vape, Hooray!

Eating Salad the Fun Way

Sala0I’m not a salad guy. But having recently turned 50, I need to make some changes.

Fortunately, these days I can get fresh, organic salads that are pre-made. I pick-up a big blister-pack filled with a mix of local lettuces and then just add cucumbers and/or tomatoes along with a sprinkling of some type of protein – either chicken with garlic or black beans.

I don’t do any sauces. OK, you salad people call them dressings, but they’re really sauces. The waitress at the wings place never asks what kind of dressing you want on your chicken wings. No, that shit is a sauce. And some of the ones that people put on their salads are far worse for you than the shit we put on our wings.

I have come to actually enjoy these salads I make. It’s not quite the same as eating something like buffalo chicken wings, especially if you are watching a soccer game or something on TV.

But I’ve discovered a little trick that makes me almost look forward to eating a salad: don’t use your hands. That’s right, not only aren’t you allowed to use utensils, but you can’t even use your hands to eat the salad.

This stems from one of the favorite things my brother and I used to do when we were living together right out of college. We started a tradition called No-Hands Night. We’d typically serve a bowl of ravioli and a bowl of beer, with a tarp underneath the table. No hands allowed. You just had to bury your face in the bowls and eat and drink like an animal. Great fun.

Well, obviously we’re not doing much of that anymore. But I find taking the same tact with a salad can be a lot more fun than simply eating it like a civilized person. Plus, I don’t even need to lay down a tarp.

So give it a try the next time you have a salad. And should you ever want to resurrect the full-on traditional no-hands night, let me offer you two tips for that. First, don’t make the pasta too hot, as you’ll burn your face. Second, pour the beer into a glass first, to release some of the carbonation before pouring it into a bowl. That way the bubbles won’t burn your nostrils. And, yeah, don’t try any of this if you have a runny knows.

Bon appétit!

Eating Options in Midtown Manhattan

A large pie at Roberta's in Urbanspace Vanderbilt.

A large pepperoni pie sans basil at Roberta’s in Urbanspace Vanderbilt.

There are many reasons to hate midtown Manhattan. And I can only think of a handful of reasons to actually love it: MoMA, Carnegie Hall, and the Radio City Music Hall. Plus, it’s a tourist magnet, which keeps all those people away from our beloved neighborhoods.

Fortunately my concert sojourns, as rare as they may be these days, are conducted at off-peak hours. But MoMA has always been a bit of a struggle, because I usually hit that in the morning – during the less-trafficked Member Previews – and then I’m left looking for convenient feeding options in the area.

I used to go to the Burger Joint at the Parker Meridian, but that’s become a tourist attraction itself. They did have a food truck thing happening on East 48th Street for awhile. But there’s really nothing to eat – or at least nowhere you want to eat (the midtown outposts of places like John’s and Shake Shack are simply too heavily touristed) – in all of Midtown.

Fortunately, the success of the wonderful Smorgasburg and Urbanspace food markets has made it’s way into even the banal blocks of Midtown. On the East Side, there’s Urbanspace Vanderbilt, at the corner of Vanderbilt Avenue and East 45th Street. On the West Side, there’s City Kitchen, at the corner of Eighth Avenue and West 44th Street.

Urbanspace Vanderbilt
This little gem makes up for the demise of the food truck experiment. It’s bound to be packed at peak hours, but at least the feeders are more likely to be Midtown office workers than the tourist scum that surely fill the West Side alternative.

I’ve managed to make it in before the lunchtime rush. I had me a big old Roberta’s pizza pie, followed by a Dough doughnut for dessert. Incredible food, and at prices that are quite reasonable by Midtown standards.

City Kitchen
This is a much smaller option, though the fact that it’s located on the second floor and not street level might make it slightly less crowded. The downside, of course, is that its proximity to the fecal magnet that is Times Square will surely make it more of a tourist cesspool than it’s East Side counterpart.

I also stopped in prior to the lunch-hour madness. I had a great burger from a place called Whitman’s, and followed that up with a Dough doughnut as well. Again, great food at reasonable prices for the neighborhood.