We know we’ve been doing a lot of meat-related posts lately on the R & B blog, but we just can’t help ourselves—we’re unabashed carnivores. Out latest love? The Polish Sausage at the newly opened Hell’s Kitchen branch of Peter’s Since 1969.The original branch of Peter’s opened a few years ago in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, but now they’ve made their move to Manhattan. Most of the ink spilled on Peter’s focuses on their rotisserie chicken—and justifiably so, because that is one bird worth clucking about. But if you can tear yourself away from the poultry, we’d like to recommend their Polish sausage. The kielbasa-style sausage has a killer pepper-garlic kick and a tangy smokehouse flavor that’s all too hard to find in links these days. You can thank Steve’s Meat Market in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, for that—Peter’s gets their sausage from this old-school Polish butcher, where it’s smoked daily. At the restaurant, the sausage is served alongside house-made sauerkraut—a refreshing touch, though their mac ‘n’ cheese makes for a lovely, (if not exactly light) side as well.
Oh, and if you’re curious about the name? 1969 is the year the Polish butcher shop that originally housed the Brooklyn restaurant opened. No matter—Peter’s is a welcome addition to our neighborhood, 1969 or 2010.
Peter’s Since 1969
587 9th Ave.
It’s no secret that we love to eat at R & B. While we don’t need a special occasion to do it, having one never hurts. For R& B founder Moira’s birthday last week, we literally went hog-wild with the whole pork butt dinner at Hell’s Kitchen BBQ standby Daisy May’s. The joint is operated by Adam Perry Lang, a protégé of Daniel Boulud, who worked in several high-end fine dining establishments (Daniel, Le Cirque) before turning his hand to the pit. His pork recipe won 1st place at the Kansas City World Series of BBQ a few years back, and it didn’t disappoint. The butt itself, slow-cooked and torn to saucy shreds, feeds about six—but this being Moira’s birthday, we had twice as many people, so meaty reinforcements were called into order, in the form of ribs, brisket bits, barbecued chicken, and burnt ends in giant plastic bowl. Oh, and did we mention that we also got macaroni and cheese, Texas toast, collard greens, baked beans, and coleslaw? Because we ordered that, too. And beer. We are by no means peckish eaters, but this was a lot, even for us. The pork butt was served in its own chafing dish, complete with a Sterno burner underneath to keep it warm and juicy. Everything else came out picnic-style, on giant platters with plastic utensils. (Highlight? Burnt ends. Why are these not the next faddish food trend? The only thing missing was a bib.
Daisy May’s is a great place for a large-scale meat celebration, but you don’t have to completely pig out (get it? Sorry, sorry) to enjoy a meal there: swing by for lunch or dinner any day of the week. Just don’t forget the Wet-Naps.
Daisy May’s BBQ USA
623 11th Ave. (corner of 46th St.)
You’ve already met Moira, Jamie, and Alyssa, so you know that the R&B blog and tours are the go-to place to find the scoop on great eats. Now it’s time to hear from Hell’s Kitchen tour guide Erin Merrill, who is garunteed to crack you up should you be lucky enough to snag a tour with her. Read what Erin’s dishing up in this Q+A:
Q: Although you grew up in Maine, you’re a Brooklyn girl now. Where is your favorite place to eat in your neighborhood, Clinton Hill?
I love this Mediterranean restaurant, Olea. It’s a quick bike ride away from my apartment, and they have really wonderful coffee, great brunch menu and a delightfully cozy ambiance. Also they have a fantastic happy hour with half priced drinks and three dollar tapas-yes, please!
Q: One food you couldn’t live without:
I have to say pretzels. They are something that I like to incorporate in all things. Sometimes I put them in sandwiches, sometimes I dip them in mustard for a midnight snack, and sometimes I eat them with peanut butter & sliced pickles.
Q: Best thing you’ve ever eaten?
This is going to sound like I’ve been paid to say so, but on my last trip to Caselulla, I had a piece of caramelized cheese with peanut butter brittle and it was possibly the most divine combination of foods I have ever put in my mouth. It was all highlighted by a glass of Rioja, because yes, mama likes the sauce.
Here at Rum & Blackbird, we love our exotic eats, but classic desserts are always on our mind, too! When our sweet tooth kicks in, we follow the sugar-dusted, homey smell of fresh-baked pie right to Little Pie Company in Hell’s Kitchen. While the aromas might bring you back to your childhood, this isn’t your grandmother’s pie: check out our fave, the sour cream apple walnut pie, which leaves us scraping our plates, to savor every last bite.
What makes this pie so special? Two words: crust crumb. Say goodbye to flaky pie crusts—once you’ve had this crumb topping, traditional pie will never be the same. You’ll always be wishing for the crunch. On top of that, the sour cream gives the pie filling a creamy tanginess that melds perfectly with the crunchy brown sugar and walnut struesel on top. Instead of chunky apple slices, the pie filling is artfully crafted with thin slices of Granny Smith apples, piled high, with a bit of crunch.
The best part? Waiting on a retro diner stool at the cherry-red countertop while your pie warms up in the oven. It’s nostalgia with a twist.
Little Pie Co., 424 West 43rd Street, New York – (212) 736-4780
Here at Rum & Blackbird, lunch is the most important meal of the day. The best way to do lunch? Make it a smorgasbord. Today we had a takeout adventure, visiting two completely different parts of Asia, from the comfort of the R&B headquarters in Hell’s Kitchen. We sampled Afghani cuisine from Ariana, and Japanese fusion from Ajisai. Our kitchen counter morphed into a colorful buffet, with everything from teriyaki and sushi to hand-pulled Afghani noodles and pumpkin curry. What did we like best? Read on:
Alyssa’s Take: My top picks from our lunch adventure were the Spinach Samusa from Ariana and the Vietnamese Spring Rolls from Ajisai. For the Spinach Samusa I was expecting a crispy, Indian-style samosa, but was pleasantly surprised to receive a spinach dumpling more reminiscent of a mini-empanada. They were simple, and thankfully, not too greasy. The Vietnamese Spring rolls showcase the pan-Asian quality of Ajisai, where there is not only sushi on the menu, put pad thai and Indian pancakes as well. The spring rolls were the perfect summer appetizer. They were lightly fried and chock-full of rice vermicelli and funky black mushrooms. My favorite part of the lunch battle royal? Cross-cultural condiment pairings, like dipping the Afghan bread in the spicy spring roll sauce.
Jamie’s Take: At first glance, the menu at Ariana looks like a million other falafel and kebab joints across the city. But if you dig a little deeper, there are seriously delicious Afghani specialties to be found. I was way into the Aushe Burida from Ariana—hand-sliced noodles, topped with yogurt sauce, garlic, mint, and ground beef curry. It was hidden away on the menu under the more standard-looking kebabs and sandwiches, so I’m glad we spotted it. The noodles were thick and springy, and the spicy ground beef was nicely tempered by the mint and yogurt sauce. It wasn’t the prettiest dish, but it sure was tasty. I also really liked the tender pumpkin curry from Ariana, even if it’s more of a hearty winter dish. With all the falafel and kebab joints in Hell’s Kitchen, I’d like to put in a word for the slightly more unusual offerings at Ariana—you just have to know where to look.
Ariana: 787 9th Ave.; (212) 262-2323
Ajisai: 615 9th Ave.; (212) 757-2688
For today’s installment of Meet the Team, we present intern extraordinaire Alyssa Maldonado, who’s been helping R&B with every step of the way. As a native New Yorker, she’s got the inside scoop on where to go and what to eat all over the city. Take it away, Alyssa!
Where did you grow up?
I spent most of my childhood in Astoria, Queens, around all the Greeks. Now I go to Vassar and my family lives in the Lower East Side.
Any hidden restaurant gems you can recommend as a native New Yorker?
Max on Ave B & 4th St—no one’s ever heard of it, but it’s this little Italian place with a cute garden in the back. I like to eat outside. Also, I don’t know if this is necessarily a hidden gem but I love those Indian places on 1st Ave near 6th St. in the East Village—the ones with all the Christmas lights and the guys hawking outside. They’re ridiculous but so much fun—and they give you so much food!
What’s your guilty food pleasure?
It should be a guilty pleasure—but it’s not—ice cream. I eat all I want and I don’t gain weight from it. I gain weight from eating normal food, but not ice cream. It’s very bizarre.
What do you think the ideal walk-and-eat neighborhood is?
I would have to say the West Village, just for Bleeker Street alone. You walk up that street and get your bread at Amy’s, your ice cream at Cones, your cheese at Murray’s…[sigh]. I could walk that block for hours.
Have you ever heard of a bureka? A boreka? A boureka? A burek?
A boureka is a flaky, savory pastry that is usually filled with cheeses, meats and vegetables. Whichever way you spell the Middle Eastern delight, Gazala Place, nestled in Hell’s kitchen, is the best place to try one.
Gazala makes two versions of the delicious pastry, one with goat cheese and spinach, another with sundried tomatoes and goat cheese. What makes their boureka so special?
These bourekas are unique because of the freshness of the ingredients: the goat cheese and the pastry dough are made in-house, and the spinach is never frozen. Owner Gazala Halabi buys fresh yogurt to make into goat cheese, which takes four to five days. Her bourekas stand out because of the goat cheese filling—instead of the usual feta— giving these bourekas a rich, tangy center. The dough tastes deliciously buttery, but surprisingly is made only with olive oil. The flakiness of the pastry is achieved through a two-day process of refrigerating the olive oil, cutting it and rolling bits of cold oil into the dough. Though the boureka-making process takes days, it’ll only take you a few seconds of bliss to finish one.
Now that you’ve met owner/founder Moira Campbell, it’s time to say hello to the rest of the R&B gang. We’re a small lot, but we’ve got a lot of personality! Today we’re chatting with Jamie Feldmar, editor/outer boroughs tour guide/ pork-lover extraordinare. Stay tuned for interviews soon with the rest of our team, but for now, here’s Jamie:
Q: Jamie Feldmar. Jamers, Jamoooo, Jamster. Where are you from?
Q: How long have you lived in New York and what neighborhood do you currently reside in?
A: Five years on the dot. I’ve spent the past three years in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, surrounded by old Italian men and kids in bands.
Q: What is your favorite neighborhood spot for eating out?
A: Fette Sau for BBQ and whiskey. Oh my god, it’s so good—you walk out of there and your hair smells like smoked meat for days. And Bahia for cheap Salvadoran tamales. I also really enjoy going on ethnic eating adventures across the outer boroughs, to neighborhoods like Flushing, Jackson Heights and Sunset Park.
Q: One food you want, need, can’t live without?
A: Dumplings! Of all kinds. Chinese potstickers, Polish peirogi, Japanese shumai…I love them all. I’m a sucker for pretty much any kind of meat wrapped in dough.
Have we mentioned that it’s hot here in NYC? It’s HOT! Like, fry an egg on the sidewalk hot. And who wants eggs when it’s this sticky outside? Not us. No, we here at R & B prefer something a little cooler: the 1000 year old ice cream sandwich at tasting partner Xie Xie.
What, does the prospect of a dessert that’s been sitting for half a millenium not excite you? It should. Xie Xie’s Angelo Sosa’s (currently competing on this season’s Top Chef) dessert takes its name from a riff on the classic Chinese snack, a preserved hard-boiled egg that we can assure you is not nearly as refreshing as pastry chef David Andrew’s version. His is made up of caramel ice cream pressed between two thin cocoa wafers, and hidden within the ice cream is a stash of gooey, black, salted caramel. Refreshing? A thousand years can’t be wrong.
A few days ago was the first official day of summer, and we here at R&B are very excited. Summertime is all about sun, BBQs, and of course, beer. And we just so happen to have a great beer bar around the corner from the R&B HQ in Hell’s Kitchen–Pony Bar, which is dedicated to serving up America’s finest craft beers. This place has 20 (20!) craft beers on tap at all times, plus two hand-pumped cask ales, all of which are doled out for a measly $5 a pop. There’s a lot of yeasty goodness to choose from at Pony Bar, but now that the temperature is a-risin’, we have eyes only for limited-edition summer ales. A recent fave: Saranac’s summer brew, a European-style blend of German Radler lager and lemonade.
Seriously. Lemonade + Beer= So. Refreshing!
It’s brewed in upstate New York, but one sip will take you out of the smoggy city heat and into your own relaxing, breezy paradise. Crisp and light, with a lovely citrus sweetness, this is our new go-to summer brew. Grab some for yourself: Pony Bar is located at 637 10th Ave (45th St.), and you just might see us there.