Sunday, October 08, 2006

My Blue Haven

I hate to post yet another blog about food so quickly after that Hummus bit, but I just couldn't pass this one up...

A few nights ago some teamates and I were faced with a reoccuring problem in my life. "So... Where we gonna eat?"
Nearly an hour passed until they decided to walk down to our neighborhood pizzeria "Two Boots" (which I'll talk more about later). I had different plans.

Earlier in the year a teamate who knew I was from California asked me about In-N-Out burgers and I found myself reminiscing about a Double-Double with grilled onions as if it were a past lover. I missed it. He then told me about a place where I can get something like it here in New York City. I was all ears. The place was "Blue 9" on 3rd Ave and 12th St.
It was 1:30 in the morning and I made the trek up to 13th from 3rd. All I had on my mind was In-N-Out. I was crazed and torn apart "What if it's not the same? What will I do then? Is it supposed to be like EXACTLY like it? How can it taste exactly the same?" I repeatedly asked myself as began to pick up the pace. Finally, there was a break in the characteristic NYC smell- it was grilled onions. My eyes lit up and I cracked a smile as I weaved through the crowded door. It was all too familiar. Everything from the menu and its font to the "Ordering is as Easy as 1-2-3" sign was exactly as I could find it in Alhambra, where Atlantic and Garfield cross. I walked up to the counter and awkwardly ordered "I'll have a number 1", he replied "Onions on that?" and just like always I said "Yea, grilled".

It turns out at the University of Indiana's Kelley School of Business they divide students into cohorts with a designated color and number. As the story goes, one day as a native Californian grad student longed for his staple weekend burger just as I had, he came up with the idea to recreate the taste at his own place. So he and his buddies from college opened it up in NYC and named it after there group back at Keller, Blue 9.
The burger was delicious. I dont' care that it wasn't the exact same thing. It was pretty damn close, or at least close enough to satisfy me until I sink my teeth into the real thing. I applaud the effort of Blue 9 and as a life long In-N-Out patron I am flattered by the idea of modeling a menu that mirrors the zen-like simplicity of my beloved California burger joint. To the credit of Blue 9 they do openly admit that they could not have come to existence without In-N-Out as their template. However, as close as they may come they will never be able to simulate the authentic atmosphere, flavor and signature freshness that can only be found in Southern California.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Big Two Zero!

Woo Hoo! Twenty years ago at around 9:30pm I was born at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, CA. This year may mark the end of my teenage years but it certainly hasn't ended my childhood. Look forward to spending the first year of my twenties in NYC. 364 Days until I'm 21!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Hearty Helpings of Hummus

Hummus- a puree of garbanzo beans (or chickpeas if you like) that is usually overshadowed by its usual companion the falafel or kebab.

For some odd reason, dishes that appear so fundamentally basic always have a hidden complexity to them, a secret ingredient or ratio that makes every individual's stand out. There is always a place that boasts the best tuna salad, or the creamiest mashed potatoes or even the best chocolate chip cookie. And to continue with my theory of the specialization of basic dishes, I recently stumbled upon those who have dedicated their labor to the mastery of hummus.

Quietly nestled among the slew of competitive, eclectic, fusion restaurants on St. Mark's, I found a cozy Middle Eastern cafe called Hummus Place. The epitome of simplicity, it offered a basic menu namely consisting of a few soups, a handful of pastries and of course, their fresh hummus that was offered in four different ways. The pita bread, was piping hot out of the oven and my hummus was served cool with all its dressing and a hard boiled egg. What the menu lacked in diversity, the food astoundingly compensated for in its brilliance. Everything from their hummus and pita to the mint leaves in the house brewed iced tea emanated "Fresh!" The Hummus Place is a healthy breathe of fresh air from the run-of-the-mill, processed, and often over-priced specialty restaurants in the East Village. You won't find a happy hour and a garden here, just good hummus, reasonable prices and a menu that will satisfy an early dinner and your waist line.