Saturday: Now This Is Being Resourceful (the “Leftovers Utility” Post)

To anyone who read Friday’s dinner blog post and hazarded a guess to the multiple choice question I posted, the answer is: c.) get motivated to go out with friends and eat again later.

photo-1Now, Saturday’s challenge is, what to do with the second half of my club sandwich, picked up from Green Kitchen in the Upper East Side at about 12:30 am on Saturday morning? 

The first step is to identify what’s usable: The fries, clearly, are not fresh anymore — although I did have half a notion to dice them, fry them in a pan with some onion and bacon, and make a faux hash, to go with eggs.

But I was in the mood for something fresh, so I didn’t try it. 

Instead, I disassembled everything, setting aside workable goods. I had the makings of a small salad here, exactly the post-dim sum, pre-dinner with friends snack that I was looking for. 

photo-2photo-3photoThe romaine, tomato slices, chicken and a few non-soggy triangles of bread, further brightened up by radish slices and thin slices of a white onion, became a really lovely, simple salad, which I dressed with truffle oil-flavored olive oil, fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper. 

Really, even I didn’t think it’d turn out this good …

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Dinner: And This Is What I Call “Scrounging”

Open fridge. Open cupboards. Repeat until inspiration strikes. When this activity occurs during periods in which grocery shopping is needed direly, this is what’s called “scrounging.”

I managed to devise: tortilla chips, topped with hummus, slices of radish, bits of leftover chicken. Not much, but then, it was sort of a placeholder meal to begin with. I was either going to a.) go to bed early, b.) get motivated and pick up something to go, c.) get motivated to go out with friends and eat again later. Which do you think happened?

Lunch: Deli Sandwich Symmetry (How Do They Do That?)

I want to take a brief moment to appreciate the craft of the deli sandwich.

photoThis is a simple fresh mozzarella, lettuce, tomato, onion on toasted rye ($4.50) from Blue Rose Deli in Midtown, which may as well be any one of a thousand nondescript delis in New York City. (Check out the Google search returns on: blue rose deli nyc. Pretty much radio silence.)

But just look at the construction: Somehow, the clerk at the sandwich station has managed somehow to build the sandwich so that two flimsy pieces of rye bread are actually able to contain it all. Look at that: stacks of cheese, a heaping pile of lettuce (shredded, nonetheless), multiple slices of tomato.

And you could get a sandwich just this anywhere. I consider it a small marvel of the culture of deli food. Don’t believe me? Try this at home … you’ll have lettuce, cheese and tomato slices sliding everywhere.

TIP: There’s a great blog, scanwiches.com, dedicated to scanning and studying cross-sections of sandwiches. If you geek out about this sort of thing, check it out.

Breakfast: It’s Back … (aka the “Wiener Schnitzel Leftovers” Post)

photoHot damn, that Wiener Schnitzel sandwich made such a good breakfast. All I wanted, exactly: good source of protein, on some sort of bread/roll, spicy mustard. (Spicy mustard in the morning is a real kick-start.) 

I was going to save this for lunch, paired with a side salad from a deli, but this perfect-breakfast-size dish never even made it back into the fridge … who wants breakfast proper when you can have this, is my feeling. (Told you that you’d see this again.)

Dinner: Cupcakes and Wine In a … Plastic Pop-Top Bottle? (Keep Reading, There’s More)

After the day  I  had, I would have been entirely alright if dinner was a cupcake (or two) and 550 ml of red wine (or more).

photo(2)We were at the Prospect Park bandshell on one of the loveliest summer evenings yet so far this year, Femi Kuti was coming on in a bit, with all his brass and his feel-good music and rump-shaking ladies. The air was festive. Lounging on blankets, hanging out in the late-afternoon sun, drinking wine and eating cupcakes — it felt like one of those time-outside-of-time moments that I treasure.

photo_4Later, concert over, bellies began rumbling. Someone apparently knew something about the neighborhood, knew where to go, and I followed, literally having no idea were we were, or where we were going. Zoom out on Google Maps enough and I could point out that we’re in Brooklyn, sort of in the vicinity of the southwest corner of Prospect Park, but bring it in any closer and … nada. Which was fine. I love getting a little lost on occasion, letting someone else drive. I get to check out the scenery.

photo(3)We ended up at Cafe Steinhof in Park Slope, a wonderland of German food. I was immediately enamored, this menu is bomb-ass. (Apparently they do an amazing goulash on Monday nights, according to the local insider.) Chicken liver pate, served with sour cherries and cornichons; bratwurst (fresh), kielbasa (smoked), weisswurst (veal) and debrechina (spicy) sausages; cheese spaetzle — I felt like ordering the entire menu.

I finally decided on the Wiener Schnitzel sandwich ($10): Several pork cutlets tenderized until flat, coated in breadcrumbs and lightly fried, accompanied only by a couple of requesite slices of lettuce and tomato in a sturdy kaiser roll. Slightly dry — problem solved after I slathered the schnitzel with hot mustard from a little pot on the table — incredibly hearty. I ate half, and the salad, and hit the wall. Which means one thing: You’ll be seeing more schnitzel soon.

TIP: The food all-around was excellent, but the seafood ragout stole the show. Generous servings of trout, mussels, shrimp, cod and salmon swimming in a creamy broth — if this is the Austria’s version of bouillabaisse, I’m sold.

Lunch: Hawaiian Barbecue In the Most Unexpected of Places (and Cheap!)

photoBBQ Chicken: $6.25. Huh? Never eaten here, but I could of sworn from the window display of a table set with a plate of plastic sushi that Osaka was a Japanese restaurant. (Plus, there’s usually something in a name.)

Turns out, the barbecue is Hawaiian-style, which means the chicken (there’s also spare ribs, for a few dollars more) is tenderized and marinated in a sweet, hybrid teriyaki-barbecue sauce, grilled, and served on a bed of rice with some salad greens.

photo(3)Yeah, it’s really good chicken. Big flavor, a lot of tenderness, succulence retained: This chicken absolutely destroys the parched, bland, “grill-charred” chicken breasts you find added to salads and pasta dishes, and lurking at delis, waiting to be tucked into sandwiches.

Next time, I’m going to ask for some extra sauce on the side. I found myself wishing I had some to pour all over the chicken and mash into the rice. It’d make it that much better. (As you can see, I had no issue finishing off the plate without sauce.)

photo(4)photo(5)About those spare ribs … The $6.25 barbecue chicken special is part of Osaka’s walk-in, off-the-regular-menu specials, and ends up being pretty basic. The Hawaiian meal listed on the menu ($8.99) opens up a whole new world: You get your choice of chicken or spare ribs, served with rice, soup, shumai, a California roll and salad. Hell yeah.

TIP: The walk-in, off-the-regular-menu menu has a number of lunch specials that hit the sweet spot, wallet-wise. Something to consider if you can ever move past the barbecue. (Photo of menu after the jump.)

Continue reading “Lunch: Hawaiian Barbecue In the Most Unexpected of Places (and Cheap!)”