Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I hadn't eaten German food since, well, yesterday, when our cafeteria decided to hold a belated Oktoberbest celebration (sans alcohol. lame-o) that inflicted spicy sausages and dreadful sauerkraut on unsuspecting employees. Although that made me swear off cholesterol-laden sausages for a year, strangely enough when David's Thrifty Gourmets group decided to have an outing at Loreley, I jumped at the chance to join them. Mostly for a taste of German beer and lively company.
Things got off to a good start when we entered the restaurant and were greeted by the enticing, skimpily-attired image of Loreley, an alluring maiden who, according to German legend, lured many a sailor to his death with her hypnotic singing. I personally think that's hogwash - it's the see-through blouse and long legs that did the trick. LOL.

On to more important matters. Loreley's interiors can best be described as sparsely decorated. It's all large wooden tables and chairs and makes no pretense of being upscale. We were led into the crowded, lively outdoor dining area, which consisted of yet more long wooden tables and benches occupied by revelers partaking of the outstanding beer selections. In fact, if you close your eyes and really stretch the imagination, it's easy to imagine being in the Hofbrauhaus in Munich, albeit on a miniature scale, filled with NYU students instead of Germans, and without the robust frauleins holding eight gigantic beersteins in each hand. After much deliberation, I decided to go with the Schneider Wiesen Edelweiss, a special Oktoberfest brew from Munich. This pleasant beer turned out to have an after taste similar to astringent (beer connoiseurs, feel free to flame me), but check out the cool specially-labeled glasses below!

Ah, the food. Decided to give German sausages another try, and ordered the Wurst Teller mit Sauerkraut und Kartoffel Puree (sausage platter with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes). The mashed potaoes were yummy, the sauerkraut I didn't touch and insisted on foisting upon V. who sat across from me, the sausages were somewhat bland so I dipped them generously into the mustard. One weiner actually looked and tasted like supermarket Oscar Mayer. Hmmm. As my custom is, I started taking pictures of the multi-colored sausage dish. When M. saw this picture (on the left), he quipped, "Now, that looks vaguely pornographic", which elicited a belly laugh from yours truly. Trust me, it was funny. Or maybe it was the half-liter glass of Edelweiss beer working its magic that made it seem funny.

On the whole, the entrees were uneven. The Gebratener Schweinerucken mit Zweibel, Kartoffel-knodel und Rotkraut (pork loin with onion sauce, potato dumplings, and red cabbage) is quite a mouthful to pronounce, and that's about all my seatmate L. ate before declaring it inedible. Out of curiosity, I tried a little of the pork loin, and it was dried out from overcooking and I agreed with her assessment. V. opted for the "Rhineland-style" goulash whose appearance was so unappealing that it made me nostalgic for the Czech goulash I had in Prague (it was that bad). Nevertheless, V. gamely finished every morsel of it and complimented the spatzle side dish. At the other side of the table, D. and his cohorts enjoyed the potato pancakes and sauerbrauten, and thought the sides (mashed potatoes, sauerkraut, red cabbage) were fresh and tasty. A mixed bag, basically.

Would I return to Loreley? To sample specialty, seasonal beers - sure. And to get another glimpse of the nymph Loreley. See, she's got me under her spell already.

Loreley in New York

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Food Vendors @ Red Hook Ball Fields

I'm sure by now you've heard of the food vendors at the Red Hook ball fields who serve up cheap, delicious food from their homelands. Tacos and huaraches from Mexico, pupusas from El Salvador, ceviche from Ecuador, all side-by-side served in tents with long communal benches. In fact, word of mouth has spread (and NY Times articles written) that roughly half of their clientele are non-Hispanic. Since I had a hankering for ceviche, I took the F train to Smith St. and met up at the Red Hook ball fields with my fellow world food lovers.

I arrived late to find that the others already chomping on their quesadillas. Based on Paula's recommendation, I walked over to a tent with the banner 'Guatemala' and got a tamale (ground corn meal with pork wrapped in banana leaves; first picture) and some jugo de pina (pineapple juice) to wash it down. All for a surprisingly cheap $4.50, so much so that I bantered with the cashier, "Es demasiado barato" (Too cheap), to which she shot back, "Ok, ten dollars!". Next stop was the Ecuadorian tent for a container of ceviche mixto (uncooked seafood and fish marinated in lemon) that some people were hesitant to try owing to some fear about hygienic preparation, but eventually they relented and everyone agreed that it was pretty good. The tamale as well was roundly praised, with Paula going so far to say that it's the best she's ever had. High praise from a 20 year veteran of the culinary industry.

Feeling a little bit hungry, I ventured over to one of the Mexican tents and ordered two tacos. Didn't count on the spiciness of the pork that had be scrambling for another drink, this time some lemonade. Along the way, I shared in some of the food ordered by the other people in the group. The 2nd picture above shows some spicy chorizo, and to the left is a picture of a pupusa from one of the two El Salvadorian tents, basically a thick, hand-made corn tortilla stuffed with pork and cheese, or other fillings. The plantains on the side were coated with brown sugar and thus very sweet, just the way I like it.

Read more about the Latin American food vendors and their struggle to stay permanently at the Red Hook ball fields.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Eating ASAP @ New Yeah Shanghai Deluxe

Just so you know, the "ASAP" in the title means "Assorted Strange Animal Parts", and the picture on the left is a dish of duck tongues. Feeling queasy now? Our fearless leader Dave of the World Food Lover's Dining Out Group decided to crank up the adventure level and brought eight members of the tribe to New Yeah Shanghai Deluxe restaurant in Chinatown for some tasty bites of animal parts not to be found at your corner Chinese takeout joint. Or, the icky stuff, if you will. Duck tongue was one of the appetizers we ordered, and I did not care for it at all. Felt somwhat like swallowing hair down my throat.

The jellyfish was a little better, somewhat lacking in taste yet crunchy. It wasn't so popular at the table though, everyone was more focused on the beef tendons and ox tongue. I preferred those dishes too, although they were much better at the Pepperheads' meetup at Grand Sichuan St. Marks I attended just about a week earlier. Can't complain though, I love the tendons in general.

Moving on to the entrees chosen for this adventure trip. That huge thing swimming in thick brown sauce is sea cucumber (left pic), which was lacking in taste and the sauce was kinda lumpy. Not appetizing in general. There was also eel with chives, but seriously...eel no longer qualifies as exotic, for me anyway. What I did love was the dish of pig intestines (right pic, somewhat out of focus) - simply superb! With a silky smooth texture, it was just like eating braised fatty pig skin...heavenly! Muy delicioso! Ok, before I run out of superlatives, I'll just say it was easily my favorite dish of the night.

Lest you get the impression that we ate all funky stuff, the group did order some more conventional dishes, like crab, squid, and veggies (I don't eat veggies so wasn't sure which one). So less adventurous diners were sated as well. However, they're not worth writing home about so moving on to the final dish to make sure we all went home with our bellies full: pork belly with bean curd, which is essentially bacon or at least similar to. I liked this dish as well, especially the fatty parts. Doesn't everyone? ;-D

New Yeah Shanghai Deluxe in New York