Dinner: Pizza Party for One (What a Great Day!)

photo-3Pizza and rosé. Such a perfect finis to a really excellent day.

While I’ve had my eye on this exact meal for some days now, I had no idea that I’d arrive here like this: Sticky and grimy, the bottle of rosé slapping at my side in my purse, my personal-sized pizza box hot to touch and deliciously fragrant, one hand steadying the box on top of the seat of my new bike, the bike being a vintage, magenta-colored, 5-speed Schwinn, body style “Caliente” (literally translated: hot!) found on Craigslist hours ago. Oh and did I mention that Caliente and I made a trip to see some friends in Queens (okay, just Long Island City) on the way inaugural voyage home?

photo-2photo-1 I didn’t have much hopes for this personal-sized pepperoni pizza that’d been sitting in the display of La Mia Pizza, a local pizza shop that I’d not yet tried, but by the time I got to the Upper East Side I didn’t really care. Feed me.

But I’ll tell you what: I don’t know whether it’s the uber-excitement about my new bike, the stellar rosé or actually the pizza, which is thin-crust, crispy, oozy in all the right places, or a little of all of the above … but right now, it’s pretty damn delicious.

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Dinner: Spam. (The “Single-Serving Spam and Eggs” Post)

photo-5I have a soft spot in my heart for the Spam, it’s true. I love it’s fallout shelter kitsch, and quaint, mid-20th century packaging. I love how the Hawaiian culture has adopted it, and turned it into a breakfast side, a sandwich meat and sushi.

I picked up these “single serving” portions a few months ago from Jack’s 99-cent Store, for when I had a stray Spam craving.

photo-4photo-6…Well, that hasn’t happened yet, but trying to make something out of not much at all, staring into the fridge, at the eggs, and the onion, and staring at the tomatoes about to turn, I had a vision of an egg dish … that needed a salty protein, like ham. Or, in a pinch, Spam.

Why not? I pan-fried half a slice (a whole “single serving” has something like 60% of your daily allowance of fat), and, mixed with the fried tomatoes, onion, radish and chopped flat-leaf parsley, it was just the right touch. Now, what to do with the second half of my single serving?

Lunch: Green Symphony, Back For More (the Avocado Delights Post)

On my first visit to Green Symphony last week, the $7/lb. hot/cold buffet photo-1(verdict: excellent) barely beat out this Avocado Delights sandwich: Two pieces of flatbread, smeared with hummus, and stuffed with a salad’s worth of lettuce greens, sprouts and avocado, priced at $3.95.

This has to be one of the healthiest, cheapest meals in Midtown. Needless to say, Avocado Delights had gotten into my head. I knew I’d be back soon.

… which means, less than a week later. Avocado Delights is as healthy and as fresh as you’d expect, but there’s a fundamental flaw with its composition: It truly IS a salad’s worth of lettuce — only, this salad has no dressing.

photo-2I’m generally a light-on-the-dressing sort of girl, but this much lettuce has got to have something. If I had a bottle of dressing at my desk I would have given the greens a quick toss and rebuilt the sandwich.

As an alternative, I doctored it up with some black bean and avocado salad, you know, the one with bits of cilantro, bell pepper and onion, and a few extra strips of bell pepper. Did the trick — and still for less than $6.

TIP: Green Symphony has a bunch of premade sandwich and wrap options, all under $5, including a chicken curry wrap (free range white meat chicken, mesclun salad, roasted tomatoes, raisins and cashews) and an organic turkey salad wrap (whitemeat turkey salad, fresh tarragon, pecans, tofu, lite mayo, granny smith apples).

Breakfast: Double-Cupping at the Deli (Sshhh…)

I wonder how much overhead at the large, bustling delis of Midtown go phototowards hot and cold cups, plasticware, those little shitty tri-fold napkins, salt and pepper packets, coffee and tea accouterments and other condiment packets? And what sort of hit do the delis take because of people like me who are constantly pocketing a little extra to stash away in office desk drawers?

One of my moves is to double-cup my hot tea. I have to sneak it past the ladies who would rather I just have a single cup and put the cup of hot liquid in a small paper bag — a ridiculous idea  to begin with. Plus, in turn, I use those two cups to make about a week’s worth of tea in the office. (I don’t add milk, that would be gross.) It’s $1.50 well spent.

At the end of the day I don’t feel so bad … I’ll be back soon enough to pay $1 for a 12 oz. soda, $1 for what is ordinarily a $0.50-cent bag of Wise chips, and then some.

Sunday: Manhattan Circumference Scouting Trip (aka the Epic Bike Ride)

On Sunday, I biked the circumference of Manhattan. Clocking in at almost 35 miles, (including a few errant detours), I wouldn’t exactly call this an eating-centric ride, although we did make some great pit stops.

photo-9What it was, was: Part adventure, part fitness challenge, part remedy to summer island fever — if we didn’t get off the island literally, at least we were in parts we’d never seen before — and a really amazing day.

Our route: We began on the West Side bike path at about Christopher Street, 10:45 a.m. We headed in a counter-clockwise direction for one reason: Oh how sweet it is for the last fifth of the ride to just cruise down that long, curving bike path that runs along the West Side of the island, from nearly 200th Street all the way home. Nearly a straight  shot (no more lumpy island bell curves adding mileage), the sun on your face, virtually flat track. It’s the only way to finish.

On the topic of lumpy island bell curves … the bottom bit is full of them. I thought it outrageous when it was proposed that our first stop would be above 40th Street on the East Side but, in fact, it makes so much sense. Power through, and do it. Slog through that bottom part and take a snack/juice/coffee break once you’re clear of it. There’s still a whole lot of island left.

photophoto-1 Pit Stop no. 1: Orchard House Cafe, E. 58th Street at Fifth First Avenue. What a little gem! I’ve walked within two blocks of here, but had never seen it before. As we rode by, I literally slammed on the breaks — we have to stop here.

It’s a total neighborhood spot: Light meals, coffee stop by day, in the evening it kicks up a notch with wine and miscellaneous entertainment. The food isn’t exactly gourmet, but they bring in from decent sources. My angel food cake “muffin” with a drizzle of lemon frosting on top was so light and fluffy, almost efferescent — the perfect alternative for anyone who is not into hard, dense muffins.

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Pit Stop no. 2: Indian Road Market & Cafe, 218th Street at Indian Road. Indian Road is, essentially, the northern-most road on the island. (There’s a park on top of that that is technically closer to the proverbial tip, but this is the last establishment.)

I love this place! Inside, it’s a coffee shop/specialty market on one side — really great refridgerated case of craft beers — and a proper sit-down restaurant and bar on the other. On weekends, a live pianist gives the place a real sense of class. The staff are delightful.

In the park across the road, we shared a lovely but simple salad spruced up with a side of breakfast sausage (perk of brunch menu). and a couple of bottles of GUS Extra Dry Ginger Ale — so fizzy and refreshing.

photo-8photo-6 Pit Stop no. 3: Dinosaur Bar-B-Cue, W. 131st Street at Riverside Drive. With only about 130 blocks left to go, it was time to celebrate. A giant plate of some of the most giant chicken wings in the city and a bucket of El Presidente beers (6) did the trick — a small meal by Dinosaur Bar-B-Cue standards, but oh so satisfying nonetheless. Powered by beer and wings, we were on cruise mode the rest of the way home.

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Dinner: Serious Goodness Overload (aka the OMG Flex Mussels Post)

Note: I missed lunch, due to interviews and general hectic-ness, which is how I wound up eating dinner at 6 p.m. As you’ll see, it worked out in the end …

photoNow this is is a concept restaurant that works. To quote the header on Flex Mussels‘ mussels menu: “mussels, mussels, mussels.” By the pound, served 23 different ways.

Doesn’t matter if you order the classic (white wine, herbs, garlic), the exotic (Gisha Girl: sake, green onions, pickled ginger, garlic, bird’s eye peppers) or the decadent (bisque: lobster, brandy, tomato, garlic, cream) — none of them will set you back more than a $20 spot.

I had the Maine (lobster, smoked bacon, corn, white chowder, parsley), and it took me a while, but by the time I got down to the broth (stage 3), I just wanted to tip the pot to my lips and slurp the rest down. I didn’t.

photo-1I was here really early (6 o’clock) — which worked out really well as this place gets just slammed after about 7p-7:30p nightly — and also sort of last moment, which is only minorly unfortunate because, while this pot of mussels could have fed two of us (slurping mandated), what ended up happening was that I overate (just a tad), and, alas, I had to let the bulk of the broth be whisked away back into the kitchen.

photo-2photo-5What else? There is a number of other seafood options, including a raw bar, “snacky seafood” items such as crab cakes, a lobster roll and fish & chips, as well as a few other fish options. But clearly, if you’re going to believe the staff, who are all wearing bad mussel-pun t-shirts like “Flexual Healing” and “Mussel Top” (and I do), Flex Mussels is all about the mussels.

NOTE: Also to try, the half-dozen beers by Unibroue brewery out of Quebec are really excellent. I paired the ‘Maudite’ with the Maine-style mussels, and it was perfect. As are (allegedly) the doughnuts.