Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Doughnut Plant

I don't understand why the Doughnut Plant is not a legendary institution, considering the love New Yorkers have for their sugar (see: cupcakes, frozen custards, shakes, cheesecake). But it seems that no one knows (or at least the small sample size that I've told) about the Doughnut Plant and their fancy donuts. Tres leches? Yum. Peanut butter and jelly? Bizarre but satisfying. Crème brülée? Oh for god sake stop your tempting and give them to me already!

CONSUMED: The Doughtnut Plant; 379 Grand St, Lower East Side (Manhattan)

Monday, June 29, 2009

The High Line

I have a crush on the High Line.

It was nearly 4 years ago when I was first told about the prospect of turning the raised railway line into a public park. I and a few adventurous friends took a self-guided tour of the northern segment, starting at the sloping ramp that frames the westside rail yards, shimmying under the corrugated metal siding meant to keep out trespassers, and walking as far as 25th street where the neighbouring buildings squeeze the line from both sides.

Then I saw the design plans. And I was smitten.

I thought I wouldn't get to see the park before leaving the city, believing the red tape would hamper its proposed June 2009 opening. However the Friends of the High Line delivered and opened the first section of the park to the public a few weeks ago. And yesterday, I got to walk along those old rail ties with Katie and Virginia. My infatuation grew with each step as I witnessed the attention to detail in the perfect execution of the proposed design. I am looking forward to the completion of the park, even though I myself may not get to enjoy as often as I would like.

CONSUMED: The High Line; Meatpacking District/Chelsea (Manhattan)

Friday, June 26, 2009

MJ tribute

So it's already clichéd to post a tribute to Michael Jackson. But you know what? He fuckin' deserves this praise, even if it's being done posthumously. What's even more awesome? People are remembering Michael for his peerless brilliance and not for any of the shit that has gone down in the past 15 or so years. Michael, wherever you are, know that you touched so many, and that you have left us with an incredible legacy that we will be proud and honoured to parade until the end of our history.

CONSUMED: various bars and walking the streets of Brooklyn


P.S. Apologies for my failure to blog over the past couple days. I could say I was all torn up about Michael's death, but really I've just been very distracted. Anyway, I will try to do better in the future.
P.P.S. Best Xmas album ever (and my favourite memory of MJ) = the Jackson 5 Christmas. Oh shit, maybe I'm giving away a future post....

Thursday, June 25, 2009

WNYC tote bag

I know I shouldn't admit this, but part of the reason why I decided to pledge WNYC is so I could get this tote that I can use-slash-flaunt around San Diego. Yeah, lamest reason. But whatever gets me to give, eh Soterios?

CONSUMED: on my bedside radio every morning when I wake up

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


OK folks, it's official. Diner is my favourite restaurant in all of New York. It is, admittedly, a completely biased judgment, but one that I will maintain as long as it remains open.

I shared my first Diner experience with Katie and Emily. Both Katie and I, Diner virgins, were floored by the food. And for reasons that remain a mystery (we think it was because Katie whipped out her camera, thereby making us look like food journalists/bloggers?), we scored free desserts that night. I remember falling a little in love with our server, and a lot in love with the restaurant.

My last (?) Diner meal was last night with my roommate, Dory. It was sort of a last roommate hurrah as Dory is going to leave this week, just a few days before I depart from New York for good. I asked to sit in the booth that Katie, Emily and I had shared one year prior. And once again, we had an incredibly gracious server, matched with plates "compliments of the kitchen" (this time, the thanks goes to Ken!). Every dish was fantastic, and Dory and I left sated beyond what our belt buckles would allow.

Thankfully, it appears that the Diner family is still thriving (they recently got the cover of Saveur, article here; moreover the place was completely packed last night, a Tuesday night!). So I am looking forward to making this my favoured drop-in when visiting the city in the many years to come.

CONSUMED: Diner; 85 Broadway, Southside Williamsburg (Brooklyn)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

to-go margaritas

One of the most brilliant ideas to ever come out of Williamsburg (the land of the drunkards, apparently) are putting margaritas in to-go styrofoam cups so that you can bring the party to the park when it's drop-dead gorgeous outside. I'm sure the police know; for some reason, they turn blind eyes.

CONSUMED: Turkey's Nest Tavern, then McCarren Park; Bedford and N11th, Williamsburg (Brooklyn)

Monday, June 22, 2009


Our rooftop can provide a beautiful skylined sunset ... if you crop out the billboards that infringe upon your view. (There are apparently two types of people: those that can ignore ugly billboards, and those that can't.) I particularly enjoy watching the JMZ train snake its way slowly across the Williamsburg Bridge. Also a rooftop must? A cold bottle of Brooklyn Lager.

CONSUMED: my rooftop; Southside Williamsburg (Brooklyn)

Friday, June 19, 2009

East West Quintet (at Joe's Pub)

One of the kids that I know from Brooklyn is a musician. A real bonafide musician. It blows me away, actually, that people can indeed make it on their talent in this outrageously expensive city. Simon pays the bills with Broadway show gigs and giving guitar lessons; but his real deal is his band, East West Quintet.

So I was extremely proud to be there when Simon's band put on their CD release show at Joe's Pub. It was the tightest I've ever heard them play, and they seriously packed the place. Even more impressive is how these guys self-released their new album after their label went belly-up. It just goes to show how invested these kids are to their craft.

CONSUMED: Joe's Pub; 425 Lafayette St, NoHo (Manhattan)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

tuna melt

I had the first tuna melt of my life when we stopped at the Monticello Diner on our way to Buffalo via the scenic Route 17. I made the poor decision to replace the American cheese with cheddar; the sandwich would have done better with a milder cheese. Suffice to say that it tasted exactly as it looked.

CONSUMED: Monticello Diner; 405 Broadway, Monticello, NY‎

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

the pedestrianisation of Times Square

On Memorial Day weekend, New York's Department of of Transportation rolled out an new street plan for Times Square and Herald Square (by Macy's). It basically involves closing off Broadway as it cuts diagonally through both of these squares, and turning the road into new pedestrian space.

The final space will have a new gravel-like tarmac with tables and chairs for the tourists to rest their weary legs, unaccustomed to the rigours of the New York pedestrian lifestyle. But for the moment, the area is littered with bright jewel-toned plastic lawnchairs. As someone who loathes Times Square for its crowded sidewalks, I am hoping this new development will open up the space, allowing bustling New Yorkers to peacefully coexist with lingering tourists.

CONSUMED: Times Square, Midtown (Manhattan)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

BKLYN 11211

Taking pride in the hood, Southside style.

CONSUMED: Broadway near Berry, Williamsburg (Brooklyn)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Aunties and Uncles

My favourite brunch spot of all time is in Toronto at a small diner-like establishment called Aunties and Uncles. Too many good memories with too many good people. I love being hit by the smell of frying bacon and the fogging of my glasses when I walk through the door after a long cold winter trudge. I love their dill potatoes, and I rave about them to anyone that is visiting the city. I love their mismatched tables and chairs. I love their kitschy decor, even though it's surely an affect of the place. And I love how when you sit in certain spots, you can see the streetcar run along College and spy the CN Tower poking above the buildings.

CONSUMED: Aunties and Uncles; 74 Lippincott, Toronto

Friday, June 12, 2009


To me, my thesis defense was a really big deal, an event that vindicated the past 23 years of my life spent institutionalised within the "classroom." So I wanted to dress up especially for the occasion, not just in any old generic Aldo-shoe'd, Express-tie'd get-up. With some incredible luck (and Katie's discriminating eye), I found a pair of beautiful brown wingtips at a local thrift shop. $30. I love the way they look on my feet, but sadly since my defense, I haven't had any reason to wear them. Here's to hoping opportunities will present themselves in the future.

CONSUMED: 10ft Single; 285 N 6th St, Williamsburg (Brooklyn)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Grizzly Bear (at Town Hall)

What can I say about Grizzly Bear after the critics have completely lathered on the praise? I will say this: who chooses "other plans" over a Grizzly Bear show? Well apparently several of Nitin's friends did, which is how I ended up with a ticket to their Town Hall concert. I will also say this: I am having a hard time NOT listening to that album, especially after being blown away at their show, which was so tight musically, and so stunning visually. They are slowly but surely climbing my top artists list.

CONSUMED: Town Hall; 123 W 43rd St, Midtown (Manhattan)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Roebling paste up

There was a period of about six weeks where my bike was out of commission thanks to a busted rear axle. All of a sudden, everything became so much further away: what used to be a 7-minute ride was now a 40-minute walk. But there was one celebrated ritual, albeit a short-lived one, that I developed during those days as a pedestrian. The 25-minute walk to the Saturday farmer's market took me passed one of my favourite neighbourhood coffee shops to pick up a cup of drip or americano (depending on my mood), and then down Roebling towards the park where the market was set up.

It was on the northern end of Roebling, where it turns into a warehouse wasteland with forgotten loading docks infringing upon the sidewalk, that I encountered some of my favourite graffiti in the city: paste ups by some unknown artist. Every week on that walk, I would pause, coffee burning my fingers through the paper cup and mitten, and admire these beautiful portraits.

Now I'm back on the saddle, and though I love my two-wheeled steed, I often wonder how much I miss when my feet push pedals rather than pavement.

CONSUMED: Roebling Ave, between N9th and N10th; Williamsburg (Brooklyn)

P.S. If you can identify the artist, please let me know! I would love to give her/him credit for their work.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tropicana un-redesign

Anyone else happy that Tropicana changed back to their old design? Yeah. Me too.

CONSUMED: C-Town; S1st and Havemeyer, Williamsburg (Brooklyn)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Washington Square Park renovation

Washington Square Park was one of my first loves of New York City. I loved the park for its gritty unkemptness, its vibrant patronage, its rare unhurried atmosphere. It was maybe one of the few things that I liked about my school (despite NYU's terrible history with Greenwich Village and its residents), and I made all attempts to cross the park, even if it meant going out of my way, any time I was visiting the downtown campus.

So I was upset when the city proposed to renovate Washington Square Park. I'm a stickler for change, you see, even though I myself am an agent of that change (see: southside Williamsburg gentrification). So when they decided that they needed to give the park a facelift (which included moving the fountain 22 feet to line up with the arch on the north side of the park), I was indignant and worried that such beautification would push out those gritty elements and replace them with the polish of flower beds and tamed lawns. The years of construction could potentially displace the park's patronage, irreversibly changing the culture of the park.

I ended up in the park one afternoon in early May, having left work early in order to take care of some emergency immigration paperwork downtown. Little did I realise that I had quite unintentionally stumbled into the park on its first day after the chain link came down. And the park was brimming with people: a man had wheeled an upright piano to serenade park bench sitters, children were dashing through the relocated fountain as if no time had passed at all, a four-piece ragtime band played while impromptu dancers tried out their cakewalks. It was incredibly heartening, and I hoped it was a sign that all my fears were unfounded.

CONSUMED: Washington Square Park; Greenwich Village (Manhattan)

Friday, June 5, 2009

peach rhubarb pie

Rhubarb has finally come to my farmer's market! I couldn't resist buying several healthy stalks last week, knowing it would force my hand to make pie this week. And what a glorious pie it was. I still haven't figured out the secret of how to prevent any of my rhubarb pies from bubbling over ... but maybe that IS the secret considering how Dory loved the gooey mess it left behind. Rhubarb will be purchased again this week, because only God knows how much longer I'll have access to a farmer's market this year.

CONSUMED: Greenpoint greenmarket; McCarren Park, Greenpoint (Brooklyn)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Havemeyer Avenue

Havemeyer is one of those rare avenues in Williamsburg that is lined with trees that are taller than the street is wide. It was their springtime budding that drew my attention: the filling in of their empty branches with leaves all of a sudden created a green archway under which to ride on my way to the farmer's market. And when the spring blossoms dropped their petals, they created a rose carpet to walk upon. It was just a little magical.

CONSUMED: Havemeyer Ave, South Williamsburg (Brooklyn)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

mosquito piñata

Every year on April 25th, the global health community "celebrates" World Malaria Day, a day for advocacy and awareness about malaria. To this end, my department (of Medical Parasitology) held a happy hour barbeque. Some very talented students in the department also took it upon themselves to convert the piñata of a pastelled butterfly into a monstrous mosquito. And in a round of broom-stick swings, we slew that mosquito and engorged it of its chocolate contents. A very fitting, symbolic gesture to mark the day.

CONSUMED: The Underground; 613 2nd Ave, Kips Bay (Manhattan)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

thesis tattoo

In anticipatory celebration of my thesis, and in keeping with my theme of body modification to mark life milestones, I recently gifted myself with a new tattoo. I was initially inspired by scenes from Werner Herzog's film "The White Diamond" that, in part, documented a colony of swifts that lived in behind a waterfall. My fascination was further fuelled by those seemingly sentient flocks of starlings that appear to move as one organism. Knowing it was impossible to recreate such dynamic beauty, I resigned myself to designing a static flock of starlings that flew up my arm, across my shoulder, and down my back. 53 birds in all, each represents a member of my blood-related family; they are, in fact, the reason for why I am where I am today.

CONSUMED: Flyrite Tattoo; 492 Metropolitan Ave, Williamsburg (Brooklyn)

Shout out to Mike Lucena, my artist, who was awesome — easy-going and efficient, he was the epitome of a tattoo artist.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Prospect Park picnic

How does one return from a 3+ month hiatus? By helping you catch up on lost time!

Such as telling you about our quasi-impromptu Prospect Park picnic on one of those rare, gorgeous April weekends. It was the leisurely ride through Fort Greene, the (hidden) beer poured out into stubby mason jars, the bright Mexican blanket spread on the ground, the pyramid of food that grew as people arrived (I made a wonderful bean salad that I'm sure I will never duplicate) that signalled the change in seasons. Little did we know that there were weeks and weeks of rain to follow; we revelled in our naiveté, eager to shed our hibernation coats and our winter discontents.

CONSUMED: southern end of Prospect Park, Brooklyn