Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Let Me Tell You How to Make a Sandwich

Chopped Herring Salad -- Barney Greengrass
Barney Greengrass

We are not wildly optimistic upon entering Barney Greengrass.
To Be Honest, Vodka Always Thought This was a Hardware Store
The item we are to try, the chopped herring salad, as per Alton Brown's choice on the AT A DELI episode of Best Thing I Ever Ate, does not sound especially appealing.  In fact, Vodka, who is generally not opposed to such fish salads, has tried it previously, and it made her want to gag.

Plus, we have another full day of eating ahead of us, and we are trying to pace ourselves.

For these reasons, when we approach the counter, Vodka asks the three workers standing behind it if we can have only a half sandwich of the chopped herring salad.

And they stare at us blankly.

Ginger pipes up to help clarify, and the vacant stares only become worse, slowly morphing into confusion.

Vodka, now unnerved by their silence, decides the best way to proceed is to explain exactly what we want accomplished: "One piece of bread, cut in half, so you put the bread, then the salad, then a tomato, then bread...."

In essence, she explains to them how to make a sandwich.
A How-To Lesson in Sandwich Making
Now their blank stares have turned into mocking amusement as they realize they are dealing with two loons.  They send us to the other end of the counter to consult the owner as to whether or not such a half-sandwich request would be feasible.  He, also discovering that we're insane, comes up with the plan to order a quarter-pound of chopped herring salad and one slice of bread.

Problem solved.  Except not really.

We return back to the other end of the counter, and it appears that everyone who works at Barney Greengrass has now been told of our antics.  After more confusion and consultations with the owner, we manage to procure a small cup of chopped herring salad and one solitary slice of rye bread.

And now we need a tomato.  And a knife.  Ever the problem children.
Perfectly Packaged Goods for the Two Pains
We retreat sheepishly out of Barney Greengrass to create our own (half) sandwich on the church steps next door.  After much difficulty, Vodka manages to pry the halves of the fresh bread and the thick juicy tomato slices apart ("I would be a terrible surgeon"). We scoop on just enough of the chopped herring, and we bite.

And now, we're the ones who have been silenced.
"I think that's enough," says Ginger
The chopped herring salad is odd - not bad, just odd.  As you bite in, it tastes delicious: tangy yet refreshing, like a less-creamy white fish salad.  Once you swallow, however, it leaves a decidedly strange aftertaste in your mouth, like applesauce that has been served in a fresh clam shell.
Thankfully, the Tomato Has Taken Over the Proceedings
The tomato and bread, which are both scrumptious, do much to counter-balance the chopped herring, but not enough to make us finish our sandwich half.  Ginger, however, does not feel right throwing out the rest of our quarter-pound of salad, and instead, she sticks it in her handbag until "I give up and dispose of it."
Ginger the Trash Picker
This moment comes two hours later when, after being outside in 80-degree weather for the better part of the day, Ginger opens her handbag and a strong stench of rotting ocean emerges.

And this, boys and girls, is why you don't carry trash in your handbag.

Barney Greengrass's Chopped Herring Salad: 2 stars

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Off the Map: Presidential Eggs in the Nation's Capital

Devil-Ish Eggs – Founding Farmers, Washington, DC
Founding Farmers

Vodka goes to Washington, DC for one reason and one reason alone.  Not to gawk at the Jefferson Monument.  Not to eat cupcakes on the streets of Georgetown.  Not even to revere Dorothy’s ruby slippers at the Smithsonian.

Vodka goes to DC to see theatre (particularly theatre starring Bernadette Peters or Roger Bart).  As if there is no theatre at all going on in Manhattan.

Therefore, Vodka carted herself down to DC recently, this time to see Bernadette Peters in Follies.
The Best Thing to Happen to DC in Years
And while there, of course, she ventured to Founding Farmers, which Robert Irvine spoke of on the Best Thing I Ever Ate REINVENTED CLASSICS episode.  He recommended the devil-ish eggs combo – deviled eggs stuffed with crab meat, lobster, and salmon, along with a traditional variety.
Get It?  They're Deviled Eggs... Ish
To sum up the trip, Bernadette Peters was brilliant, and the devil-ish eggs were not.

Deviled eggs have never been one of my favorite foods, but when they are done correctly (i.e. the Spotted Pig variety), they can convert just about anyone.  The traditional deviled egg at Founding Farmers is pretty solid – not of Spotted Pig standards, but tasty nonetheless.

The seafood varieties, however, are severely less palatable.
Sometimes Fish Does Not Belong in an Egg
I blame most of the problem with the Founding Farmers devil-ish eggs on the texture of the hard-boiled eggs themselves – they are much too flimsy and breakable to support the fillings, and they feature an almost gooey consistency.  The crab and lobster varieties are not offensive, though they seem more like seafood salad plopped inside an egg than a cohesive combination.

The salmon version is rather abrasive in flavor, with the fish being a bit too smoky for the pasty egg it rests in.
The Picture is Better Than the Taste
Also trying the bacon lollis, they taste of bacon smeared in maple syrup – a welcome breakfast throwback. However, the bacon itself is a tad too chewy, and the candied coating a bit too crystalized, to be completely enjoyable.
But At Least They're Not David Burke's Cheesecake Lollipops
In contrast, if anyone would like to hear a review of Bernadette Peters in Follies, Vodka will wax poetic about her performance for hours, so be careful what you wish for.  (According to our rating system, she was clearly 5 stars).

Founding Farmers’s Devil-ish Eggs: 3 stars

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Quiche That's Been Left Out in the Rain Too Long

Quiche Du Jour – Bouchon Bakery
Bouchon Bakery

If one ends up at Bouchon Bakery at the Time Warner Center, do yourself a favor and order the grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup.  Don’t even look at the menu – there is no need.  The grilled cheese is undeniably the best thing on it.  In fact, it is just about the best grilled cheese sandwich (with the perfect cup of tomato soup “dip”) that you will ever find.
Best Thing You'll Ever Eat
Vodka knows all of this about Bouchon Bakery, having dreamt about their grilled cheese sandwiches for days after past meals there. However, being on a mission, she dutifully orders the quiche du jour at her most recent jaunt to the place.  The Quiche Lorraine was featured by Donatella Arpaia as a Best Thing I Ever Ate GUILTY PLEASURE.  Today’s quiche is made with leeks and blue cheese – not the Lorraine version (though let’s be honest – I don’t really know what the Lorraine version is), but refusing to come back for the one day that the quiche Lorraine may grace the menu, I order to quiche du jour.

And I instantly regret my decision.
Second Only to Scarpetta as Best Bread Basket and Butter Ever
Feasting upon the bread basket and butter (sprinkled with sea salt – delectable), I silently curse the Best Thing I Ever Ate tour and the hindrance it places on my food choosing.  Especially when my friend’s grilled cheese and tomato soup arrives, and it is everything I had promised.

The quiche, in contrast, is not all that Donatella described.

First of all, call me crazy, but I don’t consider quiche a “guilty pleasure.”  McDonald’s is a guilty pleasure.  A Crumbs cupcake.  A 16-ounce margarita.

Not a quiche.
Where's My Happy Meal?
This particular quiche does not taste bad, particularly because I am one for blue cheese.  But the texture is downright soupy – soft and vaguely flan-like, it is off-putting and manages to make me fear food poisoning (uncooked eggs and the like).  The crust tastes like a Pillsbury crescent roll, but the ratio to the cheese “filling” seems rather off-balance.

Additionally, the salad (more like leafy greens) that comes with the quiche is bland at best, and way too acidic at worst.

The quiche is not good.
Undercooked Quiche, Limp Greens
However, the grilled cheese and tomato soup, along with the bread basket and butter, is always so phenomenal at Bouchon Bakery that I’m going to call the quiche debacle a fluke.

And I will never order anything but the grilled cheese at Bouchon Bakery again.
The Remnants of the Quiche Massacre
Bouchon Bakery’s Quiche Du Jour: 2 stars

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Vodka Dumps Ginger in the Name of a Bagel

Everything Bagel – Tal Bagels
Tal Bagels

Vodka has been obsessed with Tal Bagels for months.  Well, ever since she found it.

At first, we erroneously believed that Tal Bagels was only located near the United Nations, which is just about the least convenient place we can think of going.  In truth, they are scattered throughout the city.  So when Vodka stumbled upon one a few months ago, she went in, sans Ginger, to order Rocco DiSpirito’s favorite everything bagel from the Best Thing I Ever Ate AT A DELI episode.
This Is What Happiness Looks Like
Always one to follow directions, Vodka ordered the bagel with scallion cream cheese, tomatoes, red onions, and capers.

And with her first bite, she was hooked.

The everything bagel itself is doughy and soft, and distinctly more salty than lesser-variety everything bagels (all traits that Vodka prefers).  Paired with the scallion cream cheese, it is a delectable combination of savory flavors (albeit all flavors that will make your breath reek for hours).

One thing that Tal Bagels does undeniably right is smear cream cheese on both sides of the bagel – a practice at which many other bagel shops fail.  Doing so allows the customer to pull the last bites of the bagel apart to savor the halves individually if desired, thus dragging out the devouring.
See the Cream Cheese Shmear on Both Halves?
The tomato topping is a revelation, and an addition that Vodka will never remove from all future bagel sandwich orders.  And the capers, which Vodka is not usually a huge fan of, bring a unique tanginess to the proceeding.

The bagel is perfect.

Finally, after months of waiting for Ginger to accompany her to Tal Bagels, Vodka took her visiting friend to the place and threw in the towel on the waiting game.
Vodka's Friend's Choice = Also Delicious (Cucumbers!)
At last procuring pictures of the creation, she decided to go renegade and post the review sans Ginger’s input.

Because if Ginger ranks this bagel as anything less than 5 stars, there is something severely wrong with her tastebuds.

*Update: Ginger has finally eaten the Tal Bagel sandwich.  This meeting of her mouth and this bagel was actually quite a feat, because for those of us on the lower half of Manhattan, all Tal Bagel locations are highly inconvenient (plus, the weather has been tremendously unsympathetic to both walking and subway riding).  But this bagel was worth sacrificing my sweat and vanity.

In a city with endless mediocre bagel options, this everything bagel is, as Vodka described, pretty close to perfect.  Chewy-in-a-good-way,  it is perfectly complemented by Rocco's scallion cream cheese, tomatoes, red onions, and capers additions.  Usually, I am insistent on lox with my weekend bagels, and while I love lox, I also love not being broke ($10 for a bagel with lox, you say?  No thanks).  But when I ordered Rocco's Tal creation, I didn't even notice its absence.  The fillings are salty, cool, and creamy, all stuffed into a warm (not toasted) bagel.  Perhaps I will return again tomorrow. 

Tal Bagels’s Everything Bagel: 5 stars*

*Certifiable Best Thing We Ever Ate

Monday, May 23, 2011

Off the Map: Mushroom Miso Soup... When Mushrooms Aren't in Season

Miso Soup – Miyake Restaurant, Portland, ME
Miyake Restaurant

Apparently, May is fiddlehead season in Maine.  Vodka Stinger learned this from her Maine-based aunt, who told her to order anything with fiddleheads that she finds on the Maine restaurant menus.  Dutifully following directions, Vodka orders the fluke special with fiddleheads at Street & Co. at her dinner in Portland.  Not really knowing what fiddleheads are, they taste mildly of asparagus, and they are indeed fairly scrumptious.  In fact, my travel partner and I would have added Street & Co. to our own personal Best Thing I Ever Ate list.
Those Green Doodads are Fiddleheads
Unfortunately, we cannot say the same for Miyake Restaurant.

Alex Guarnaschelli featured Miyake Restaurant on the IN A BOWL episode of Best Thing I Ever Ate, spouting on about the unexpected deliciousness of their mushroom miso soup.  Usually believing in Alex’s taste to a tee, Vodka and friend head to Miyake for lunch after their whoopie pie and a trip to the Portland art museum. 
In Search of Maine Miso
Being that we arrive exactly when the restaurant opens (11:45am – we presume that it closes at 6:00pm like everything else at Portland), we are the only ones in attendance.  We are told off the bat that they do not serve beverages of any kind – only water – so if we want another kind of drink (including soda), we should go to the deli next door.

We assume this is a Maine kind of policy.

Anyway, we order the lunch special, which consists of miso soup, a salad, and an entrée.  And this is when the trouble begins.
They Also Threw in This Appetizer for Free
Always being one to clarify, Vodka asks the waitress to confirm the miso soup is in fact the mushroom one featured on Best Thing I Ever Ate.

And it’s not.

Again, WHAT?!

Call me crazy, but if a restaurant is shown on a television program, the featured dish should ALWAYS be on the menu.  No exceptions.  Miyake does not seem to share this sentiment.

They explain that the mushrooms that are in that particular soup are only available in October and November, but since we have no plans to go back to Portland in the fall (or probably ever), we both temporarily consider walking out before proceeding with our meal, including non-mushroom miso soup.
Severely Lacking in Mushrooms
The soup arrives, and it is pretty much the same as that which can be found at any Japanese restaurant in the country.  Sans tofu, it consists of only broth, kelp, and scallions.  It is not bad by any means, but it is decidedly nothing special.  The same can be said for the salad – standard and edible, but not particularly memorable.
But It Makes for a Pretty Picture
The sushi rolls of the day are more interesting, though they are entirely too large to be eaten in one bite (which is what we consider the bastion of a proper sushi roll), and they featured at least four kinds of fish which, while perfectly tasty, remind us of the scrapple that one finds in South Jersey diners (aka a little of everything left over in the kitchen).
A Frankenstein of Fish
In short, Miyake is a perfectly adequate Japanese restaurant (of which there are a proliferation in Portland – who knew Maine was a hotbed of Japanese cuisine?).  However, until they figure out a way to get mushrooms in their miso soup year-round, we will have to deny them anything more than an average rating.

Oh, and bite-size sushi rolls would also be appreciated.

Miyake Restaurant’s Miso Soup: 3 stars

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Off the Map: Eating Whoopie in Maine

Whoopie Pie – Two Fat Cats Bakery, Portland, ME
Two Fat Cats Bakery

Nothing like carting yourself all the way to Maine only to find that Two Fat Cats Bakery is out of whoopie pies.
Wherefore Art Thou Whoopie Pie?
Vodka Stinger ventured to Maine recently to attend the wedding of one of her college roommates.  On their way to the middle of the state, she made her travel partner stop off in Portland in the name of Best Thing I Ever Ate tour completion.

One of Portland's two Food Network-featured dishes is the whoopie pie at Two Fat Cats Bakery, which is singled out by Chuck Hughes on the CAKE WALK episode.  Venturing through the Maine mist (temporarily believing we have mistakenly landed in Seattle), we arrive at the bakery just before the 6:00pm closing time (by the way, what is with everything in Portland closing by 6:00pm?  Highly inconvenient).
This Is What Vodka & Ginger are Starting to Look Like
Just off the waterfront, Two Fat Cats is not exactly in what one would call the “populated” section of Portland – it is in more the "empty lot and slightly creepy" section of town.   Meandering inside, Vodka is blind to the other pastries under the glass cabinet, as she requests one whoopie pie.

“We’re actually out of whoopie pies today.”


The workers tell us that the whoopie pies will be back in the morning, so the next day, we venture back over to the wrong side of the tracks to finally procure a whoopie pie.  We are both familiar with these delicacies due to our soon-to-be-betrothed college roommate, who used to receive care-packages of them from her mother (she also happened to use them as a substitution for her cake at said wedding).  However, this is our first time purchasing a genuine Maine whoopie pie ourselves.

And it is the best we ever had.
Finally, A Litter of Whoopie Pies
We take the whoopie pie outside and divide it at the picnic table outside of Two Fat Cats (overlooking the scenic abandoned lot across the street).  Fluffy white cream sandwiched between two halves of chocolate cake, it is everything Chuck Hughes promised.  The filling, though light and more airy than we had previously experienced, is overflowing in sweet flavor, and the chocolate sides are rich and neither gooey nor crumbly (a flaw that plagues some otherwise tasty whoopie pies).
A Work of Maine Art
This whoopie pie is well worth the 16-hour wait, and it is superior to items we later procure at Standard Baking Co. down the street.  Two Fat Cats Bakery should launch a campaign to make the whoopie pie the image that tourists conjure up when they think of Maine – we’re pretty sure these cakes could take down those pesky little lobsters.

Two Fat Cats Bakery’s Whoopie Pie: 5 stars*

*Certifiable Best Thing We Ever Ate

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Off the Map: This Must Be What It Feels Like to Be Smacked

Dip Sum Donuts – Buddakan, Atlantic City, NJ

**So we're morons have have discovered that the Atlantic City Buddakan's donuts aren't actually the Best Thing I Ever Ate donuts.  Please see our addendum to this post about Marc Summers's actual Philadelphia choice here.**

Finally, the booze seems to be wearing off and the pain from walking into a door is starting to hit Ginger.

“This must be what it feels like to be smacked,” she surmises.  Unfortunately, our dinner at Buddakan does not help matters.  We are also smacked on our palates.

Buddakan features Marc Summers’s best dish to eat WITH MY HANDS, the dip sum donuts.  It is a restaurant with locations in Philadelphia (where Ginger has previously dined) and New York, but we decide to check off our tour itinerary at the Atlantic City outpost.
Beach a Mere Feet Away
By this point, we are already losing steam, what with the royal wedding wake-up hour and our insistence to start drinking Skinnygirl margaritas at 3:00pm.  Plus, we have Ginger’s head trauma to contend with.

We order our cocktails – the Luck (it contains ginger, so you can imagine who ordered it) and the Bonsai.  Both are just fine.  In truth, the Bonsai, which features floating leaves of some parsley-like creation, is verging on bad.
Our Cocktails Pose with Vodka's New Sunglasses
We then procure the edamame ravioli and the beef lo mein, both of which are fairly scrumptious (albeit the beef in the lo mein seems to have met about a thousand salt licks in its lifetime).
Looks Like an Easter Bonnet
Where Salt Comes to Die
Then come the Best Thing I Ever Ate dish, the dip sum donuts.  And they are not good.

Perhaps Buddakan has changed their donuts since Marc Summers ventured here, but these donuts are barely doughy and filled with a banana-flavored cream.  They come with chocolate, caramel, and red bean dipping sauces, all of which are sickly sweet.  (And we are not ones to complain about sweetness).  The sauces feel like they are with the wrong dessert; when combined with the banana cream filling, and the sugar coating on the donuts, there is nothing to cut through the sugar.  Just more sugar.  Plus, the banana cream drips out all over the plate, adding to the debacle of it all.
These Look Better Than They Tasted
Ginger makes an array of facial contortions, and we try to flag our waiter down so we can escape the memory of these donuts.  We’d take a dozen of Doughnut Plant’s peanut butter and jelly “sandwiches” before these.

Our waiter, unfortunately, is not the most attentive soul, but we don’t even have the strength to fight about the fact that it takes him 20 minutes to come back around and give us our check.  We have been beaten down, by both a door and by shoddy excuses for high-roller restaurants.
Seconds Before the Banana Cream Permeated the Sauce
Trying to make ourselves feel better, we go to the Apple store and clandestinely pull up this very blog on every iPad and MacBook available.  Guerilla marketing at its finest.  And then we retreat back to our balcony, more eager to drink at home than out at oliveless bars and parsley-obsessed restaurants.
You're Welcome, America
In truth, the best things we ate down the shore came from Wawa, not Continental or Buddakan.  Which reminds us: someone, please, bring a Wawa to Manhattan.  We will singlehandedly keep the place in business.

**While these are not the correct Best Thing I Ever Ate donuts, we feel as though we need to retain this post in order to warn the public not to eat them.  If you would like to read about the Philadelphia Buddakan donuts (which are much better), please go to our updated review here.**

Buddakan’s Dip Sum Donuts: 2 stars

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Off the Map: An Oliveless Shirley Temple and Other Assorted Problems

Crispy Calamari Salad – Continental, Atlantic City, NJ

Vodka and Ginger head down the shore for one reason and one reason alone.  Not to lay on the beach.  Not to gamble our food budgets away in Atlantic City.  Not even to become reacquainted with sunscreen.

We go down the shore to watch the royal wedding.
Memorabilia Much?
Vodka fancies herself a bit of a royalist, and by “a bit,” she means “a crazed wannabe Windsor.”

Ginger does not really care much about William and Harry et. al., but she’s always up for tea and a crumpet.

As previously mentioned, Vodka had purchased half of Tea and Sympathy’s wedding memorabilia a few weeks back, and she carts it down to the seaside for royal watching purposes.

Ginger, priorities intact, travels with two bottles of wine.

After an early morning of wedding watching, complete with English Hob Nobs and Ginger cookies, we take a long winter’s nap before using Vodka’s paraphernalia for its true purpose: to drink Skinnygirl margaritas.
The Queen Would Be So Proud
We toast to Her Royal Highness, Bethenny Frankel, Princess of Tequila before heading into Atlantic City.

Which is when Ginger walks into a door.

At this point, feeling very little pain due to the dulling effect of the gallon Skinnygirl margaritas we just consumed, Ginger insists she is fine, welted face or not.

And she acts fine all the way to Caesar’s Piers.  All the way through Vodka drunkenly dropping her Le Bernardin budget on Burberry sunglasses (which, by the way, make her look like Blanche Devereaux of Golden Girls fame).  All the way to our bar stools at Continental where we want to try Anne Burrell’s Best Thing I Ever Ate WITH CHOPSTICKS dish, crispy calamari salad, as our appetizer.
Poor Photography
The only hint that Ginger is possibly suffering from a concussion comes when she begins arguing with the Continental bartender about the lack of olives in her Dirty Shirley.

For those of you who aren’t in the know about spiking childhood drinks, a Dirty Shirley is a grown-up version of a Shirley Temple – you know, the pink drink with cherries on top that you used to order at T.G.I. Friday’s in your youth in order to sound mature.

Notice the Lack of Olives
Even though Ginger has ordered at least 27 Dirty Shirleys in her lifetime, she is suddenly convinced that it is an olive-based drink, and she wants her olives dammit.  While Vodka makes excuses to the befuddled bartender about the confusion, (“You have to forgive her – she just hit her head.”), Ginger finally establishes where her olive delusion came from: Continental’s Dirty Shirley contains “Three Olive Vodka.”



Vodka (for once not the troublemaker with the waitstaff) sips her Twizzle cocktail sheepishly as we await our crispy calamari salad and Ginger makes finger indentations on her growing head bump.
See the Licorice on Top? Delicious
Our salad arrives, and it is massive.  It is also sans chopsticks, a detail that we do not notice, but that therefore defeats the purpose of eating Anne Burrell’s go-to WITH CHOPSTICKS dish.  Instead, we ungraciously dive in with our forks and start eating like savages.
One Spoon Does Not Two Chopsticks Make
The first thing we notice (and clearly, we’re not noticing much, based on the lack of chopsticks), is that the salad is extremely vinegary.  So vinegary that it makes our lips tingle.  This vinegar has also seemed to make the salad extremely slippery, as the bean sprouts keep falling from our forks onto the floor (this is when chopsticks could have come in handy, Continental). The lettuce is also displeasingly soggy.

That said, we like vinegar well enough, so this overbearing ingredient does not completely turn us off.

What turns us off more is the sheer lack of crispy calamari.

Now, perhaps it’s just the proportion of the salad that is off – it comes in a humongous bowl.  This bowl could be cut in half, and the calamari would seem plentiful.  The way it stands, we have to fight through landfills of lettuce to find one solitary piece.  And the calamari itself is good, which makes it all the more disappointing that it is so scarce. However, the pool of vinegar dressing quickly abates the "crispy" part.
Let's Play Where's Waldo? with the Calamari
We both have loved Continental in the past, at the Philadelphia locations and this Atlantic City one.  But this salad is far from our favorite thing we have eaten here (the cheesesteak eggrolls come to mind as one of the best).  We do not even finish the salad, and we instead down our cocktails and stumble off of our stools, heading off in search of olives and an ice pack.

Continental’s Crispy Calamari Salad: 3 stars

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Best Thing We Ever Ate... in a Tupperware

Costina – Salumeria Rosi
Salumeria Rosi

Next door to Jacques Torres lies Salumeria Rosi, the home of Anne Burrell’s to-go-to MEAT-FEST dish, the costina.  By this point, we were losing both steam and sanity, so we wandered into the store and jumped on the first person we saw to order our Best Thing I Ever Ate delicacy.
Longest Restaurant Name Ever
Neither of us are necessarily the spare rib types, if for no other reason than they’re messy to eat and get caught in your teeth.  Plus, this particular variety of rib is called “spicy Tuscan,” and we have already established that we are not really ones for high intensity spice.  So we order our costina from the host, already feeling mildly hungover, and fork over a fistful of cash.  We then stand and wait at the counter.

We wait at that counter for what seems like an eternity.
Vodka Trying to Entertain Herself
No sign of our host friend, and with the other workers seemingly occupied with customers who are interested in things other than a solitary spare rib, we try to be patient.  This activity does not come naturally to us.
Now Moved on to Photographing the Meat Slabs
Finally, after a solid 15 minutes, the man working the counter asks what we’re waiting for.

“Costina!” we shout.  To which he walks to the other end of the counter, picks up a Tupperware container, and hands it to us.

The Tupperware had been sitting there for at least 14 minutes.

Clearly, we’re not the sharpest knives in the drawer.
Classy Container
We retreat with our rib-filled plastic and sit on a bench near the closest subway station to dig in (high class eating establishments are our forte).  Peeling off the lid, the container is decidedly odd for its contents: there sits our lone rib.  We stick our plastic forks in, and luckily, the meat falls off of the bone fairly easily.  We taste.
Alone in the Universe
In a running theme of the day, Vodka likes it, but Ginger LOVES it (she is obviously experiencing the munchies).  Ginger rambles on about the wonder that is this Tupperware-clad rib for many minutes.  Vodka believes something has been lost in the packaging and presentation of this solitary piece of meat, but Ginger is having none of it.  She is head over heels.

And so we suppose Salumeria Rosi has proven that even food served in a Tupperware and eaten outside a subway station is capable of pleasing some (not-all-that-discerning) palates.

Salumeria Rosi’s Costina: 4 stars

No One Mourns the Wicked

Wicked Hot Chocolate – Jacques Torres
Jacques Torres

Like the infamously scrumptious Levain cookies, Vodka had tasted a Wicked Hot Chocolate from Jacques Torres before.  The reason?  Her mother, a Food Network groupie in her own right, had seen it featured on the channel, most likely by Giada DiLaurentiis on The Best Thing I Ever Ate WAKE UP CALL episode.
Fall Windows All Year Long
Neither Vodka nor her mother liked it.

In fact, they kind of hated it.
Halloween Much?
Granted, Vodka and her mom are not big dark chocolate people (in fact, we prefer white chocolate to all chocolate, which we understand is not even considered real chocolate by master chocolatiers).  And the wicked hot chocolate is made from dark chocolate.  The “wicked” part of it is the hint of chili pepper that is combined with the rest of the ingredients (only it’s not so much a “hint” as a “wallop”).
Long Story About the Band-Aid. Billiards Injury.
For purposes of the tour, Vodka would have ordered a cup of wicked hot chocolate again herself.  Luckily, however, since Ginger had never tasted it, Ginger could procure the cup and we could still check the dish off of our itinerary.

And Ginger loved the drink.
The First Sip
Vodka took a sip, admitted it was slightly better than what she remembered, but still disliked it (“It’s too thick!  It’s like sipping stew!”)

But Ginger (probably still drunk from book club) thought the wicked hot chocolate was delightful.

As a compromise, we have awarded this cup of spicy sweetness three stars.
Hot Chocolate Stew
(But the table that Jacques Torres keeps in the front of the store, where we consumed both our Levain cookie and our hot chocolate?  Strictly 5 stars).

Jacques Torres’s Wicked Hot Chocolate: 3 stars