I have mixed feelings about Facebook as I think it can be more of an "anti-social network" resulting in people feeling connected without truly connecting in the real world. But every so often I'm happily proven wrong. Lori (aka LoCo) attended the same high school as me but we didn't know each other until about 2 years ago when we found out we had many mutual friends on FB and in the real world as well as both of us being runners. She contacted me recently and was planning on being in NYC with her friend, Franzi, who was visiting from Germany and itching to have some real American food. I gladly agreed to meet them for lunch at Katz's Delicatessen
on Houston Street in Manhattan. I was running behind from an earlier engagement so when I arrived they had already begun eating in the waiter section.
While I do enjoy a good reuben (in case that's not already obvious from my, ahem, "zaftig" profile!) I'm somewhat of a purist when it comes to Katz's and usually prefer a pastrami or brisket sandwich with little more than a schmear of mustard on it. However, they had both gotten the reuben and like the Millenium Falcon I was pulled in by its tractor beam! Never before has such a well balanced sandwich passed my lips. I've had reubens with one slice of pastrami and one slice of swiss and others that looked like they had been buried in an avalanche below the Swiss Cheese Alps! This one, however, was a perfect combination of peppery, steamy pastrami, briny sauerkraut, melty Swiss and sweet, pickly Russian dressing. My one complaint is that the rye bread they use could have more flavor. I prefer an assertive bread with a bold rye/caraway taste. A minor quibble though as I was groaning with every bite. Just a quick note though: this sandwich doesn't not come buttered and griddled as many do but I suppose one could request it that way. I do realize that there are many other great reubens out there across the U.S. but I think that this is up there with the best of them.
I couldn't resist a cross-section shot of this beauty. While I do like machine sliced pastrami the rugged texture of hand-cut just really speaks to me!
On the way out of Katz's I asked the girls to walk down the street a block so I could get a shot of this mural on the other side Houston St. We've got a friend from high school who turned a room in his house into a KISS shrine so we knew he'd love this! It did take a few minutes as there had been a delivery truck in front of it and then the door between Gene and Paul was open for a bit. I only wish that the door was right in front of Gene's tongue so that every time they opened it his tongue would appear to be comin' at you in 3-D!! ;)
We started heading to St. Mark's Place for an egg cream when Franzi spotted Russ & Daughters
and really wanted to check it out. I went in with them and managed to withstand it for about 60 seconds before I had to make for the sidewalk. Not having grown up with "appetizing" as part of my life the aroma (read: fishy), as it were, is one to which I feel I shall never grow accustomed! I'm not sure if Franzi bought anything but Lori picked up a chocolate babka because you just can't beat a babka!
For all of my appetizing loving friends (and you know who you are!) this shot is for you!
Does anyone know what kapchunkas are? I like the interesting bagel display. Oh, can anyone comment on their egg creams? I've never tried one here.
While walking through the East Village we came upon another mural, this one a tribute to the recently departed MCA (aka Adam Yauch) of the Beastie Boys. Respect.
The one place I really wanted the ladies to try was Gem Spa
on the corner of St. Mark's Place & 2nd Avenue. It's really just a newsstand (smokes, magazines, lotto tickets, etc but the man running it has been making fine egg creams for over 20 years. Egg creams are somewhat complicated to explain to a first timer as there are no eggs OR cream in it. Just three ingredients: chocolate syrup, milk and seltzer water. As long as they are in the right proportions and mixed properly an egg cream can be a wonderful, refreshing treat. Lori thought this would be too heavy (Milk? On a hot day? I don't know about this Billy-Ho!). Much unlike Ron Burgundy's milk, an egg cream IS a good choice! Seltzer is the transformative ingredient that gives it a light effervescent quality and changes it into a very delightful drink while walking through the East Village.
Sadly, the days where egg creams can be found at soda fountains and lunch counters are behind us as most of those institutions are long gone. It is good to know that there is someone still putting out a quality product! He has three flavors: chocolate, vanilla and coffee and all are $2.50 and come in one size which I think is the same size as a mid-size coffee at Starbucks.
LoCo, REALLY enjoying her chocolate egg cream! I think she was truly surprised by how much she liked this.
<message edited by billyboy on Thu, 07/19/12 4:15 PM>