PIGGIN’ OUT ON BLEECKER

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New York is one of those cities where it’s fun to occasionally just wander aimlessly and see where it takes you. Now, back in the 70s and 80s, that would’ve put you on the fast track to the following days’ obituary column or the back of a milk carton, but nowadays it’s a local pastime.

Sometimes you end up in front of some obscure yet fascinating historical landmark, sometimes it’s an indie bookstore in a charming neighborhood you’ve never been to, sometimes it’s a random street fair deluged in BBQ smoke amidst a flock of gawking tourists, and sometimes you end up buying crack in a dark alley. It’s a hell of a town.

Either way, beautiful Greenwich Village is an area where I often end up. On this particular occasion my appetite came roaring to life on Bleecker St. just as I walked by a little place called PIG BLEECKER. Two things I thoroughly enjoy. Destiny was at hand.

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TRY THIS: Get the Smoked Duck Lasagna. The smoked duck ragu with bechamel and gravy makes this a truly a standout recipe in the best way. It is hands down one of the best lasagna’s I’ve ever consumed.

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PRICE OF TURD: $24

THE DUMP DEETS: The early tummy rumblings from this hearty repast began the following day at work. This was a good indication that I would have to use a bathroom on a separate floor because God forbid a friendly colleague from my floor walks in as I noisily put one of our toilets out of commission. My apologies to floor 27.

WAS THE TURD WORTH IT?: Yes. A deliciously unique dish from a place that specializes in BBQ with Italian leanings will always be a winner in my book, which is this blog.

FUN TRIVIA: This place used to be a popular live music bar in the 60s called “The Back Porch” and was one of the many places in Greenwich Village where Bob Dylan got his start. But who cares? You’re here for the food.

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Eating Daffy

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As a meal, duck might cause some people to think of Peking Roast Duck at their favorite Chinese restaurant, or perhaps the last scene from “A Christmas Story”. For me it’s Elmer Fudd, that poor bastard.

Unfortunately ol’ Elmer–or “The Fudd”, as he would have liked to be called off camera if he was real–never got to feast upon the tender flesh of this delectable waterfowl. This being the unfortunate result of having a debilitating speech impediment, an abnormally large, hairless cranium and a slight touch of Down syndrome that rendered him completely inept as a hunter. Combine all that with Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny, his only prey, being invincible even at point blank range with a double-barrel shotgun, and what you have is a truly Dantean character of the most tragic variety, forever stuck in a two dimensional purgatory of starvation and pain.

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So, back during the holidays, as I perused the pop-up shops at Columbus Circle, my tummy let out its mournful cry and I knew I must heed its call, for I am its willful slave. I maneuvered through the crowds with predacious alacrity, making my way to the food booths, and was confronted with a place called Duck Season. It stood out from the rest, touting its duck confit poutine with duck fat fries, and its duck confit sandwich with duck bacon and slaw. Oh my ducking God. If only Elmer could see this.

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TRY THIS:  Because I didn’t want to completely clog my arteries, I opted for just the “Season Sandwich”. This was easily one of the top 3 most delicious sandos I’ve ever passed down to the poop chute. It is the edible bliss that “The Fudd” deserves after so many decades of torment and shame.

PRICE OF INDIVIDUAL TURD: $12

THE DUMP DEETS:  Maybe it was the duck fat, but this excrement was so aromatically dethpicable, it transported “fowl” to an alternate spelling. I deposited this malodorous mallard back into the water and promptly flushed it to its rightful wetland habitat, plentiful with the fetid flocks of its kind. Fare thee well, Daffy. Fare thee well.

WAS THE TURD WORTH IT?:  Oh yes. Forget the wabbit, it’s always duck season in my belly from now on.

Unfortunately, I just found out that Duck Season is now closed and nowhere on Google Maps. I’m hoping its because they only operate during actual duck season, as I really want to make this sandwich a regular part of my life.

NORWEGIAN TURDS #3: Breakfast in Valhalla

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Every morning during our stay at the Walaker Hotel in Solvorn, I enjoyed the most fresh and heavenly breakfasts ever to pass through my digestive tract. It’s buffet style, so get in touch with your inner viking and raid that sucker, because it’s a spread worthy of the halls of Valhalla. This is also what I imagine the Northern Lights taste like.

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TRY THIS:  Just to name a few: Fresh caught fish filets straight from the fjord, rasberry jam and apple sauce and apple juice made that morning from the local orchard, homemade drinkable yogurt, creme fraiche and cheese straight from neighboring farmhouses, and decadent, melt-in-your-mouth waffles of the likes I’ve never tasted before. (I got the recipe from the hotel owner and I’m not sharing it with anyone). Anyway those were just a few of the highlights.

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PRICE OF INDIVIDUAL TURD:  I think it’s included in the stay for every guest, so it’s hard to say.

THE DUMP DEETS:  Each of these breakfast dumps were worthy of Odin’s throne and that is precisely how I imagined myself whilst depositing these hefty burdens. Due to the excessive amounts of food and fresh fruit I ate at these blissful breakfasts, each excretion turned our bathroom into a sonic and odorific ragnarok of the likes that would make even Thor blush.

WAS THE TURD WORTH IT?:  Hell yes. Even if you don’t stay at the Walaker, I recommend making your way over from whatever local B&B you’re staying at and engorge yourself. It’s worth whatever the price is.

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NORWEGIAN TURDS #2: Northern Enlightenment in Solvorn

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Solvorn was the true gem of our trip. This bucolic little hamlet on the Lustrafjord is the kind of peaceful escape you don’t think exists anymore. Go there in early September and you can almost believe you’ve escaped the modern world. It helps if you stay at the Walaker Hotel. It’s been around since 1690 and run by the same family ever since, so they sorta know what they’re doing.

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It was here, at the Walaker Hotel, that we were finally able to get a taste of fine Norwegian cuisine. You can choose to just get a room or you can splurge and get the halfboard (a room with breakfast and dinner included). Do the halfboard. You won’t regret it.

TRY THIS:  The prefix 4-course menu changes every night but the house chef makes sure you’re guaranteed the freshest local fare the area has to offer. A lot of it right from the garden and orchard out back. You can’t go wrong, but if you’re not feeling the menu, just gorge yourself on their homemade bread. Oh man, that bread. I’ve never snuck bread away in my pocket before, but there’s a first time for everything.

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PRICE OF INDIVIDUAL TURD: Included in the stay, but roughly comes out to $125.

THE DUMP DEETS: This was a noble excrement worthy of a viking funeral. But alas, that would have triggered the fire alarms and permeated the room with a noxious odor strong enough to fend off even the most ferocious of viking raids. I decided to just flush it instead.

WAS THE TURD WORTH IT?:  Ja. From mushroom soup to duck filets to salmon with creme fraiche and roe to berry soup with homemade ice cream. A belly full of Nordic splendor.

 

NORWEGIAN TURDS #1: Famished in Flam

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We went to Norway back in September and I’m just now getting around to writing about it. Norway is a country of unparalleled dramatic scenery: Deep, emerald valleys, serene glassy fjords and towering, snow laden peaks all within about 100 feet of each other. The only thing higher than its wintry peaks was its prices. Indeed, a delightful place to get lost and go broke doing it.

For the most part, since we stayed in places that had kitchens, we just bought groceries from the local market because it’s way cheaper that way. Not bad, but nothing notable about those excrements.

At any rate, the evening we arrived, we stayed about a 15 minute drive from the little tourist hub of Flam. since we were jet lagged, starving and racked with foreigner anxiety, we decided to eat out no matter the cost. We ended up at a restaurant called Flamstova. Looking at that menu, it became very clear to me right away that if I was going to make a turd of any distinction on this trip, it was going to cost me.

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TRY THIS: I got the chicken breast with mashed potatoes, mixed veggies and mystery sauce. Anya got some kind of salmon / crustacean dish. Hers was better than mine.

PRICE OF TURD:  My entree came out to about 320 Norwegian Kroner, which translates to roughly $40.

THE DUMP DEETS:  By the grace of Odin, our toilet was in working order and I bestowed a hearty deposit that was flushed straight down to Hel, the Norse god of the underworld.

WAS THE TURD WORTH IT?:  Nei. Despite its decent presentation and the charming rustic atmosphere, the meal was bland, heavy and overpriced. I’ve had more inspired meals from TGI Fridays.

Ballin’ Out at Daniel

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Kenji. Like a bowssss.

I love New York City. I love its rich history, its unadulterated, accessible wealth of culture, its tireless, buzzing energy and its perpetual rebirth. Let’s not forget its staggering variety of restaurants that have provided me with so many memorable bowel movements which both inspire and continue to nourish this ridiculous and wildly unpopular blog.

Financially speaking though, to anyone making a salary below a million dollars, living here can occasionally feel like being a horny 13 year old boy stuck in a high-end strip club with a raging boner hopelessly tucked into his waistband and a severe case of blue balls.

Yes, there comes a point where you just want to blow a wad. Of cash. Whether you have it or not.

I’ve often fancied the idea of dropping stupid amounts of money on fleeting, temporal pleasures like food, then signing the check without a tremble of the hand. So, since my best friend Kenji had come to visit and I had saved up a wad of cash for a night out, well, that was all about to happen, which leads to my latest expensive turd at Daniel.

Comfortably embedded in the old-money stronghold that is the Upper East Side and nestled amidst the money saturated denizens of Park Avenue lies Daniel, an elite player in NYC’s fine-dining restaurant echelon. Although, to the affluent locals of this neighborhood, I imagine dining here is comparable to a suburban family outing at Applebees.

Daniel serves world-class French cuisine and you need a sports jacket or an evening gown to dine there. Just don’t tell that to the rich Saudi-Arabian family who waltzed in looking like they blindly grabbed every eurotrash outfit from the Barney’s window display and threw it on during the limo ride over.

TRY THIS:  Whatever 4-course prix fixe combination you want. You really can’t go wrong. Wash it down with several expertly crafted highballs, a premium rosé and some sparkling water that was blessed by Warren Buffet himself. If you’re confused about anything, your waiter will graciously and thoroughly explain or recommend to your satisfaction, masterfully hiding their judgement of your plebeian taste buds. 

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PRICE OF INDIVIDUAL TURD:  $280

THE DUMP DEETS:  It sank like a gold brick, leaving me empty and hollow inside.

WAS THE TURD WORTH IT?  I give this an emphatic yes. This was the lavish waste of money I was hoping it would be. Honestly, I anticipated our fancy meal to be nothing more than a series of light nibbles and I was completely prepared to b-line it straight to the nearest pizza slice after we departed. I’m happy to say that we left happily stuffed and sated on every level thanks to expert course portions and an excellent wait staff that did everything short of giving us shoulder massages as we ate. Combine all that with the conversation and company of a great friend and it was damn near perfect. 

Judging by this experience, it seems the high life does taste as good as it looks. Then again, the high life can look pretty strange.

SORRY GARI: A Haiku

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Sushi of Gari,

Your cold chewy rice and bland rolls

Makes me very sad

TRY THIS:  I’m guessing people come to Sushi Of Gari for the “Gari’s Omakase”, so if you ever go here, get that because their sushi rolls alone were quite forgettable.

PRICE OF TURD: $40

THE DUMP DEETS:

Forgettable turd!

I flush you to oblivion.

Good riddance to you.

WAS THE TURD WORTH IT?:  No. Go to Sugarfish instead.

YEAR 5: THE CRUSTACEAN ANNIVERSARY

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My wife and I celebrated our 5th anniversary back in August. According to the weird anniversary gift tradition that was clearly invented by someone with a crippling case of OCD, year 5 is considered the “wooden” anniversary.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some decent wood-based gifts, but I draw the line at those decorative wooden balls from Restoration Hardware. You know, the ones that wealthy yuppies place in wicker baskets and then set in the middle of their locally sourced coffee tables, leaving just enough room for their hand-crafted ceramic mugs full of 3rd wave coffee. Anyway, I’m getting off track, but it’s a weird gift list.

Since we were in no particular need of wooden spoons or pretentious coffee table decorations, we decided to veer off tradition and have our 5th year be more crustacean themed. And by that I mean we headed to Francisco’s Centro Vasco since they seem to know a thing or two about lobster.

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TRY THIS: Get the Maine Lobster broiled. Order a sangria. Amazing. Or get the Francisco’s Favorite with crab meat and melted cheese.

PRICE OF TURD: $47

THE DUMP DEETS: Like a noxious ball of kelp left to fester in low-tide under a merciless noonday sun, the miasma of this floater could have offended the olfactory nerve of even the most grizzled salty dog fisherman. Safe to say, Poo-Pourri once again saves the marriage.

WAS THE TURD WORTH IT?:  Yep. We wanted lobster. We came to the right place.

THE 21 CLUB: Dine Like a Fancy-Ass Grown Up

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I don’t know about you, but the last time I had to wear a sports jacket to get into a restaurant was absolutely never. I come from a rural middle class upbringing, folks.  When I was a kid, we were lucky if our restaurants had enough hay bales to sit on. Just kidding. Hay farmer Hank ALWAYS made sure my family had fresh hay bales to sit on whenever we went out, which became a source of great envy among the commoners in the township.

At any rate, since it was Restaurant Week in NYC, and the restaurant in question was the legendary 21 Club, and I haven’t worn my sports jacket for at least 2 years, and I wanted to see if the moths hadn’t completely eaten it yet, I figured what the hell. As silly as it is to dress up just to make a turd, I must admit, I was actually kind of excited.

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Despite sitting beneath a ceiling festooned with an astonishing array of juvenile paraphernalia, which I can only assume are the abandoned toys of the Rockefeller children, it was fun to dine at such a prestigious venue. Wall Street power players were making deals at a nearby banquette, while at another table, captains of industry decided the fates of thousands over a Duck a l’Orange and a ’95 Northern Rhone. At least that’s what I like to think was going on. Meanwhile, waiters in white coats really went out of their way to make sure we tipped them 25% or promised them our unborn child.

I found out later that almost every table is labeled for celebrities who prefer to sit there when they visit. We got seated at Rod Stewart’s table. I still don’t really know how to feel about that.

TRY THIS: For my appetizer, I got the Hamachi Sashimi, which was borderline magical with Avocado, radish and Ponzu sauce. My entree was their Grilled Flatiron Steak with a roasted garlic and herb vinaigrette. Quite good. And for dessert I got the chocolate lava cake. Totally basic, I know, but it was a good lava cake and I love chocolate.

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PRICE OF TURD:  $51 (thanks to Restaurant Week)

THE DUMP DEETS:   I had a feeling this one would require one of those industrial power flush toilets that can take down an adolescent Shih Tzu (not that I’ve ever tried such an awful thing). So, just to be safe, I strolled over to a hotel next to my apartment and used their lobby bathroom. This was a smart move.

WAS THE TURD WORTH IT?:  Indeed. The food was superb and I left feeling empowered. Rejuvinated even. Perhaps I’ve finally found the answer to the question in which this blog was originally created. THIS is why people go out to eat. THIS is why some places are worth putting a fancy jacket on to get in. THIS is why people drop loads of money just to make a turd.

Or maybe I just need to get out more.

 

The Best Restaurant in All of Montauk (because everything else was closed)

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I’ve been wanting to visit Montauk for quite some time, lured by bucolic images of wild rocky beaches, verdant marshes and lighthouses, while simultaneously scarred for life from the aquatic carnage I witnessed in Jaws at the tender age of 9, which was based in this area. Or so I’m told.

Anyway, being that it’s been such a warm winter in New York, we decided to head over for a spontaneous early March getaway.

Of course it started snowing the morning we left.

So while we shuffled around quaint little Montauk in 3 inches of snow, eyelids flickering from the barrage of careening snowflakes, pretending to really enjoy our frozen paradise and convincing ourselves that this getaway was a genius utilization of our finances, we got hungry. That’s about when we realized that almost every restaurant in town was closed until May. You know, when intelligent people go on beach vacations to resort towns.

But there was a beacon of salvation amidst the hauntingly vacant landscape, and the origin of my next turd: The Saltbox.

TRY THIS:  We went there twice, and scored each time. The lobster roll was legitimately fresh, and the pulled pork sandwich was delicious. By far though, the best items on the menu were the brussels sprouts and bacon followed by their Montauk Seasonal Fish in a bed of quinoa and dill aioli.

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OVERALL TURD WORTH:  $35

THE DUMP DEETS:   Much like the firewood we bought for our adorable cottage, it was a hearty log that permeated the entire place with rustic pungency.

WAS THE TURD WORTH IT?:  This is kind of a default “yes”, being that it was the only nice restaurant open, but the food was tasty, the staff was friendly and we practically had the place to ourselves.