No… this hasn’t turned into a food blog, but I figured I would share some iPhone pics from our recent visit to NYC – I love having the camera with me (Lori’s iPhone) all the time.
There are lots of cities that lay claim to having the best pizza in the US, and needless to say, New York City is definitely one of them. Luckily we get to visit what I consider to be the most incredible city in the world quite often, and every time we do, we like to sample some of the local fare, especially the pizza. John’s Pizzeria on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village has long been a favorite of ours, and judging by the number of “Top 10 Pizza in NY” lists it is on, we aren’t alone in our admiration. I can remember visiting John’s with friends one Saturday night back in 1989 when Lori and I lived and worked in Manhattan, so now every time we return it brings back great memories.
You wouldn’t believe how many pizza joints there are in NYC… it feels like there’s literally one on every block. In my book there’s no such thing as bad pizza, but to survive the competition in New York you’d better be good! Besides, if you can make it there you can make it anywhere… wait, isn’t that a line from a song or something 😉
No, this hasn’t all of a sudden turned into a food blog, though you could be forgiven for thinking that based on the photographs in this post. Stay with me and I promise I will get to the photography part. Sweet potatoes, red potatoes, carrots, parsnip, brussell sprouts (you heard me) and red onions… roll them all around in a little bit of olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper… roast them on a cookie sheet for about 45 minutes at 400 degrees turning them gently every 15 minutes… hearty, eh? Just the other weekend while Sam was home from college on winter break he asked if we could do a traditional Sunday dinner… the works with turkey, vegetables, mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy. Yikes… the only problem was that I had never actually cooked a turkey before.
They say there’s a first time for everything though, so I hopped onto the Interwebs and searched for directions on how to cook a turkey. Giblets, neck, cavity… interesting… and how best to prepare the birdie for the oven? Feeling bold, I worked my magic on seasoning our farm-fresh bird using a little bit of chicken stock, garlic, onions, butter, rosemary, thyme and more than a dash of white wine. Short version of the story… it was quite the culinary adventure with everything turning out wonderfully, and even though the photo above might not appear all that appetizing, the turkey was cooked to perfection and with all of the fixings it tasted awesome!
I promised to bring this back to photography… Santa recently brought Lori and Sam new iPhones (while I still have my work-issued piece-of-junk Blackberry), and being the gear head I am, I can’t resist picking up and exploring Lori’s phone the minute she sets it down. I admit to having serious phone envy, and am intrigued by the capabilities of this little device, especially when it comes to the camera. Before I got my hands on Lori’s phone I never really understood the spawning of the whole iPhoneography craze… I’ve read about people swearing religiously by this thing, and now I’m starting to get the attraction. It’s a very solid little camera, one that is capable of producing decent quality images and HD video. I just know if I had an iPhone of my own and a camera like this in my pocket all the time I would be making photographs 24/7, instead of only on my every-other-weekend planned and somewhat un-spontaneous photo expeditions.
One of our favorite places to grab lunch in New York, the All American Drive-In on Merrick Road in Massapequa, is a slice of classic Americana that has been around since 1963. Awesome burgers, fries, and shakes… plus much more… this is a pretty neat dining experience, one that we first learned about on the Travel Channel a few years back. Being the lovers of food that we are, we decided there and then that our next visit to Granny and Grandpa’s would involve a stop to sample the goods, and now every single trip to Long Island means a quick half hour ride to savor some of the best fast food around. It goes without saying, but our most recent Thanksgiving holiday visit to New York would not be complete without another eagerly awaited stop at our favorite burger joint.
The lines at this place are always long – usually out the door – but the wait is always short. Even though it is always crowded here, you can usually get in and out within five minutes. Living in Manhattan a few years back, Lori and I quickly learned that if there was a crowd waiting to get into a restaurant – no matter what it looked like from the outside – then it must be worth waiting for. There are maybe 3 or 4 tables available outside, though most people are quite content to sit in their car and eat – this is after all, a drive-in! Great food, great prices, and quite an experience!
… then it’s good enough for me!
Just last week I watched TV star chef Bobby Flay explore the culinary world of Ireland, and on one of his stops he sampled the fare at Leo Burdock’s Fish and Chips in Dublin. As Sam and I wandered the streets of Dublin on St. Paddy’s night, we stumbled on this iconic location, and even though I had already eaten earlier in the evening, I couldn’t resist the temptation to order from the menu. What did I order, and was it as good as Bobby said it was? Cod and Chips sprinkled with salt and vinegar wrapped in paper… oh my!
I have always loved bread. One of my earliest memories from back home in Ireland is when I must have been four or five years old and I was dunking this incredible bread and soaking up the deliciousness of some kind of meat sauce or gravy at my grandmother’s house. My mother and father would both be working the late shift at the local factory, so my two brothers, sister, and I would go around the corner to visit Granny Patterson’s house for dinner. The bread I remember from back then was hearty stuff, with a crust so thick and crunchy that if you ate it as instructed, the old wives tale of growing hair on your chest would most likely come true! I’m not sure if Granny Patterson baked that wonderful bread herself or not, but I do recall that it was so, so tasty. Similar to the new potatoes we would get from the garden in August – dig them up, wipe them off, and they were ready to eat. Nothing else needed, not even butter… just lightly boiled and a little salt – they were delicious. The bread we were served at Granny Patterson’s was just like that… good enough to eat on its own, with absolutely nothing else needed.
Did I mention I really like bread? Over the years I have always sought out good bread. Whether it is dunked in homemade soup, alongside spaghetti and meatballs, or just in the name of a good sandwich… the quality of bread has always mattered to me. Like most people, I love the smell of fresh baked bread, but I have never been able to commit to the whole process involved with baking your own. Recently though, after talking to my good friend Tim – he who purchased a breadmaker a while back – now seemed like a good time to start making my own… the easy way of course. Following the most basic of recipes, my first loaf was ready to eat just before dinner this evening, and just as importantly, the smell of warm bread wafting through the kitchen was to die for. Even if my first loaf wasn’t quite up to the standard of Granny Patterson, my debut as a breadmaker (ingredient measurer and button pusher) went well enough to convince me that this is a new hobby that I can certainly see myself developing. In fact, my second loaf – a somewhat personalized Italian Herb recipe – is already spinning and being kneaded as I write this. I can hardly wait to start smelling how good this one will taste…