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grape jelly and the wall street journal

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the Wall Street Journal‘s New York section is my guilty pleasure. well aware of their war on the New York Times, i feel a moral obligation to support the latter; so when i grabbed the coffee shop’s communal copy i felt sheepish, as if i were someone in a motel parking lot with a mistress.

i can’t help myself; sometimes, right after skimming the New York Times morning headlines,  i go to the WSJ site to see what they’ve written about new york. what would never be covered by any other serious paper, they write about earnestly; or, what would be reported on seriously elsewhere, they cover with sarcasm.

the article that caught my eye last night was a piece about the prevalence of grape jelly in american cuisine. i swear, i thought i was reading The Onion. in fact, i was so amused, i considered recommending it to my coffee-swilling neighbor but in the end, never got the nerve.

here is a brilliant piece on grape jelly:

Ramsay de Give for The Wall Street Journal

The Great Jelly Mystery
by Ralph Gardner Jr.

The universe yields its mysteries only reluctantly, and one of the most disturbing from my point of view is why diners persist, when you ask for jam, on giving grape jelly instead. One of my rituals when I get back from abroad is to indulge in an all-American diner breakfast: scrambled eggs (soft), bacon (crisp), home fries, buttered toast, coffee and (hopefully) fresh orange juice.

The only downer is the preserves. I have nothing against grape jelly, per se. I realize that if I’m after the authentic patriotic experience, nothing says Stars and Stripes and purple mountains majesty like a gellular blue substance almost completely constructed of artificial colors and flavors and preservatives. Indeed, Jan Morris, the Welsh travel writer, once compared grape jelly to capital punishment, “the worst of American civilization, worse than the electric chair.”

I tend to agree, even though I’ve got a sweet tooth. Several in fact, and all with fillings. At this very moment my bedstand boasts—in addition to the TV remote and a pile of books that would make me a better person for reading but that I probably never will—a box of Good & Plenty, the remnants of a bag of jawbreakers purchased at Dylan’s Candy Bar and a box of Argentine jelly candies that I special-order from my brother, who makes frequent trips down there. I believe that candy, as opposed to chocolate, acts as a digestive before bedtime.

So if anybody was to be receptive to grape jelly, you’d think it would be me. It’s just that it doesn’t taste as if it’s made from anything that grows on this planet. “Sweet purple snot” is the way one gentleman, an otherwise cultivated book publisher, put it when I posed the grape-jelly question at a recent dinner party.

full piece here

Written by Gabrielle

September 18, 2010 at 9:53 am

Posted in food

Tagged with , ,

the foodist: from manhattan to brooklyn

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shannon, a.k.a the foodist, tells us about the manhattan chefs who are branching out into brooklyn.

chefs moving into brooklyn:
blue ribbon opened a brooklyn restaurant in 2001, which made them one of the first of the manhattan chefs to do so. they have both a regular restaurant and a sushi place on fifth avenue in park slope. shannon says the sushi is a little expensive but that it’s a great place for a date, or, if you feel like splurging on good sushi. special to their brooklyn spot, is their raw bar and wine special. until about 6:30 or 7pm they’ll have $1.50 oysters and $1.00 clams and wine by the glass wine. shannon says, “amazing”.

fatty ‘cue is a southeast asian fusion place that just opened under the williamsburg bridge. it’s owned by the much-loved fatty crab guys. shannon  thinks their red curry duck is the best thing she’s ever eaten and loves that their giant pork ribs look like they’re from the flintstones. she says the cold salads are awesome both for herself and for vegetarian friends and assures people that the cucumber and celery salads are way better than they might sound.

the ox cart tavern is a little ways out in brooklyn but way worth it. you can take the b or q train to newkirk ave. helpful travel tip: bring a book to read on the way. shannon is going there for dinner after our chat and is looking forward to the duck confit pot pie. i thought she’d said ‘duck con feet’ but no, this is some sort of french dish made with the leg of the animal; shannon is hoping it wont have bones but doesnt seem quite sure. also on the menu is fish, chips, and pickles–yes, all on one plate. the chef is aiming for daily specials and a different sort of pie each day. added bonus: they have actual houses in that area of brooklyn, “real suburban-looking houses”.

west village recommendations:
pizza, burgers, cupcakes, and literary bars
shannon says that brooklyn pizzerias are much better than the ones in manhattan but feels that john’s pizzeria holds up. not only is it famous, she says, but the pizza is really good and pretty cheap. another place worth scouting out is lombardi’s, ‘America’s First Pizzeria,’ according to its website. but, if you happen to be in the mood for burgers and fries, the corner bistro is where to go.

if you wind up at the famous magnolia bakery, shannon says to skip the cupcake and go for the banana pudding. but, she suggests, you should go to the lesser-known sweet revenge on carmine instead. somewhat surprisingly,  shannon is not a fan of  cupcakes, but, she loves the signature ‘sweet revenge’. as described on their menu, it’s peanut butter cake with ganache filling with peanut butter fudge frosting. i dont see how you can go wrong with that.

the west village has a “huge, rich history of poets, writers, musicians,” says shannon. if you’re looking for a beer, the white horse tavern is her favorite. she’d worked with a poet who used to drink there and according to one website, it looks like both bob dylan and dylan thomas did too. added bonus: outdoor seating. another good bar where literary authors used to hang out is kettle of fish on christopher street where stonewall used to be. while we dont have a list of famous names on hand, we suggest you look for pictures on the wall when you go to these places.

what’s your favorite brooklyn or west village restaurant?

Written by Gabrielle

September 11, 2010 at 10:02 pm

Posted in food, podcasts

Tagged with , , ,

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