Food, Drink and of course Poker

Lunch during my workdays had been getting pretty stale of late. I usually go to Kisco Kosher for awesome sandwiches (their corned beef and tongue kicks ass) and soup (their matzoh balls and their split pea soup are the best I’ve ever tasted). Other days I’ll eat junk like hot dogs from Nathans, fish and chips, the occasional McDonalds run and a few visits to Subway. Boring. But now there’s a new game in town- a crepe place in The Westchester. It’s set up kind of like a juice bar in the food court and has a menu extensive enough to keep me interested for weeks to come featuring both savory and traditional dessert style crepes. I tried the feta/tomato/olive/cilantro crepe and it was so delicious I immediately ordered a second one. It’s a pretty cool setup but they only have two griddles so I imagine that the lines will get rather long once word gets out about how good this place is.

Made another trip to Chikalicious and for probably my third time in a row, I decided on the featured panacotta of the day, this time a luxurious coconut variation adorned with a quenelle of basil sorbet. Part of the reason I always seem to order the panacotta is that it’s usually the one paired with the moscato d’asti. Since I still had some time to kill before poker that night, I ordered a second glass after my petit fours. That place makes me so happy; I’m forever indebted to K & R for introducing me to it.

Speaking of K, as if I couldn’t love her any more, she had apparently read my blog earlier in the week and when she showed up to poker she brought me some Heineken Light! Is she awesome or what? Then later that week Dawg came back to town and wanted to play poker, so we organized an impromptu game and he ended up buying Heiney Light too. This works so well I think I should start blogging about foie gras and caviar and see what happens. Man I have cool friends. 🙂

My best friend was back in town on Friday and we all went out to dinner at Tigerland on Avenue A. Kind of an Asian fusion type of restaurant where our whole party had a prix fixe menu. They only served beer and wine, but the food was pretty decent. Both of the curries were excellent and one of the fish dishes, I think it may have been tilapia, was really good too. The braised rib dish was less rich than I expected but delicious nonetheless. The one glaring failure was their dow mew (Asian pea shoots) which was really stringy and tough. All in all, most of the dishes were thoughtfully composed but the chef’s touch with salt was a bit heavy handed across the entire menu. Still a good meal though and it was cool just being able to shoot the shit with my best friend again, listening to him recount all the awesome meals he had just had with his wife down in St. Barts. He was telling me I should immediately hook up with a chick that loves to eat so that I can travel with her down to St. Barts and eat ourselves to ruin (Kuidaore!) before the low season ends. Excellent idea. Any takers? 😉

As for poker, Twoin has taken over the lead in R&L’s home game. Yes, we’re keeping a spreadsheet now to track and rank everyone’s play. Just like we used to do for MJ, although this spreadsheet seems much more complex. In any event, Twoin has been on a tear because his style is particularly well suited to the very loose play in this game. In particular, our gracious host R likes to build pots with marginal hands and Twoin sees enough flops with him to get paid off when R tries to make tricky moves on the turn or river. That’s a great way to play it.

In other poker news, I tried playing a WSOP qualifier this weekend and suffered another bad beat. It was one of those situations you’re just dying to get your money in the pot. You set things up perfectly, the cards cooperate in helping to set your trap and then in the end, things just don’t work out. I had built a decent chip stack and began a little bullying since the blinds had gone up sufficiently to make it worthwhile. I had been raising so relentlessly it had to be clear to the table that I was out of line and somebody needed to step up and keep me honest. I open raised for twice the big blind with pocket 5’s, a raise that should have looked like I was just trying to steal the blinds again with a marginal hand. Because of that, I got 4 callers. Then I hit the presto when the board came 58Q. I checked and it checked around to the last guy who raised. I called, wanting to see if I’d get any other callers behind me. They all folded and we got to the turn which was a blank. I put in a pot sized raise and got re-raised at which point I knew the guy had a hand good enough to call anything, so I moved all-in. He called and showed rockets. Perfect. Only two cards could save him. But since you know this is a bad beat story, you know what fell on the river. Beaten by a 22-1 shot again. Dammit!


A few weeks ago on No Reservations (Mondays @10p on the Travel Channel. Check your local listings), Anthony Bourdain travelled to Osaka, a part of Japan I knew very little about even though that’s where my sushi chef Sam hails from. It turns out that Osaka is my kind of town; the people there are absolutely insane about food. They say there’s an old joke that says if you took a native of Tokyo, one from Kyoto and one from Osaka and gave them each a fortune, the Tokyo person would blow it all on shoes, the Kyoto person do the same with clothes and the Osakan would bankrupt himself on food and drink. They even have a specific word to describe this Osakan way of life- Kuidaore (QUEE-da-oh-ray). It roughly translates as “to eat oneself to ruin”. Hrmmm… does that sound like anyone you know? 🙂

Beer (re-write)

I accidentally deleted my prior entry regarding my switch from Amstel Light to Heineken Light, but it needed a bit of an update anyway, so it’s just as well. First I should point out that I had been an Amstel Light drinker since my college pool hall days. Back then, that’s how I would hold court about 8 hours a day, with a cue stick in one hand and an Amstel Light in the other. While Boddington’s (The Cream of Manchester baby!) is my favorite beer in terms of taste, Amstel Light was always reliable for its lower alcohol content which allowed me to look drunk (because of the ol’ Asian Flush syndrome I sometimes turn red from drinking even a teeny bit of alcohol) while still being perfectly able to play pool…for money. That’s part of where my nickname came from; people wondered why I’d never lose for money even when I was drunk. Well the answer of course was that I was never really drunk! I was so identified with that beer that even today old friends will call me up to tell me they think about me whenever they have an Amstel Light.

So when Manny (the owner of Mi Cabanita) bought me a Heineken Light a month ago, I accepted politely but didn’t expect to like it. I was surprised by the clean flavor. Very light and crisp with a hint of grain flavor almost like toasted rice. It was good enough for me to give it another try on a subsequent visit. Then before I knew it, I had sucked back about a dozen in one night and was feeling pretty drunk, but miraculously woke up with no hangover the following day. It couldn’t have been the food I ate, because I almost never eat when I’m in drink mode, so it had to be the beer. Just like they say sake doesn’t give you hangovers because of purity (unlike wine which is loaded with things like sulfites), I think Heiny Light is just more pure than other beers. I’ve been telling people it’s the horizontal fermentation process that does it, although I actually just stole that from the label and have no idea what it means. I’m very convincing though. 🙂

So I’ve been drinking Heineken Light everytime I go to the bar, which has been a lot more frequently lately because Hector needed me to round out his dart league roster, and my competitive nature wouldn’t let me just go in there and suck at it. So after my numerous clinical trials, I can now say with relative certainty that it is darn near impossible to get a hangover just drinking Heineken Light. Even more evidence came a few days ago when I was practicing darts and the Budweiser distributor showed up. What happens is that the Budweiser rep will travel throughout his region with a group of associates (typically a group of attractive young ladies) and just make unannounced visits to their clients’ establishments once every few months. When they arrive, they buy the entire bar free Budweiser products for as long as they are there, typically about an hour or so. Fortunately I was just about to finish my bottle of Heineken Light at the time, so I didn’t have to let it go warm as they started forcing the King of Beers on me. I only had two Buds while they were there and then I was able to go back to Heiny Light. But you know what? Those two Buds were enough to ruin the internal balance, and sure enough, I woke up the next morning feeling like shit. Nice.

I own a home!

So I finally closed on my condo today. Fuggin $19k in closing costs which was exhorbitant but hey, when you find a property you like, you gotta pony up for it. At least the closing proceedings went off without a hitch thanks to my excellent lawyer Matt. He’s also a bit of a prankster, stopping on the way to the closing to try and convince the security guard at the law office that one of the partners wears a toupee. This wasn’t his firm, and he knows the partner so it was all in good fun. Glad he did that to help lighten the atmosphere, which is always helpful when you’re bleeding money out of every orifice. I signed and initialed a lot of shit, but since I had already gotten all my certified checks at the bank, there wasn’t too much else I had to fill out or write, so it really wasn’t too bad. Da Greek was on my left to make sure all the mortgage stuff was in order, and Matt was on my right eyeballing every document before I signed it. It was a pretty smooth operation, over and done in less than an hour.

Then it was off to pick up my keys and start trying to figure out how I’m going to coordinate this move. I ordered a sweet sofa and a bed from DWR but they won’t arrive for at least 4 weeks, so I have some time to install my phone and cable, get custom closets built, maybe paint, buy more furniture, and schedule an actual move in date. Plus it turns out I know the guy supervising the finish work, so I’m trying to see if we can swap out my fridge with a side-by-side unit with the water/ice-maker on the outside. That would be key, because that way I could install a single water filter for the fridge and ditch my Brita pitcher. There’s miles to go before I sleep, but it does feel good to have the closing out of the way at least. I am pretty damn tired though. So tired I don’t even have the energy to write in detail about my recent poker and food stories. Reader’s Digest version- +$650 in poker last week, should have been +$1300 but I made the biggest boneheaded move all year. Food- did the usual standard at Fleming’s (tenderloin carpaccio, cajun ribeye, sauteed mushrooms, David Bruce petite syrah), but followed it up with J’s recommendation to go across the street to Baumgart’s Cafe (the offshoot of the famous Baumgart’s originally known for great ice cream, but now even more famous for serving ice cream and sushi in one restaurant). She had just eaten there the night before, but she insisted that the mint chip ice cream was worth trying. Boy was she right. A beautifully clean mint flavor with huge chunks of bittersweet chocolate. The butter pecan was pretty good too, but it was underneath my scoop of mint chip, so it was overwhelmed. Gotta bring Stoopid V here when she returns stateside since mint chip is her fave.

Oh and I gotta make mention of V of Mekong fame, whom I affectionately refer to as High Life. She really is living the high life right now, backpacking her way thru South America. She’s been gone a little over a month now and has been robbed, had her journey stalled by countless vehicle problems, eaten alive by insects, and crawled thru a mine with air quality that typically kills miners after 15 years on the job on average. All this and she recounts things like passing time “playing charades in spanish with american movie titles -please dont ask me how we managed this.” Hahahaha I can so picture it. She totally rocks… Here’s to the High Life!

Greatest cleaning product EVER!

I hate cleaning. I really do. But I hate strangers messing with my stuff too, so I’ve never paid for a cleaning lady either (although I may do that when I move into my new pad next month). So every couple of months my tub will get to the point where a little wipe down with Soft Scrub just won’t do and I’ll have to suck it up and put some elbow grease into it. If I get really lazy for extended periods, it gets extraordinarily tough to clean. That’s what has happened recently, especially since I knew I was going to be moving out. So usually when the tub gets this grimy, I have to step up the chemical assault and the best thing I’ve found is CLR which is some industrial strength shit from Home Depot that is supposed to remove calcium, lime and rust. It’s made for commercial applications, but believe me, when a tub hasn’t been cleaned for about 6 months, it’s time to bring out the heavy artillery. The downside is that CLR will stink up the joint, and it takes a while to work it’s magic. Evenn then, you still need to put some hard scrubbing to get the gunk off, but at least the CLR morphs the grime into something that actually will come off of the tub. So that had been my usual ritual; slack for a few months and then bring out the toxic stuff and scrub away. Still a pain in the ass.

Well a while back I was in CVS buying sponges (kitchen not contraceptive) and saw something that looked interesting. It was the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. It said on the package that you’re supposed to soak it with water, squeeze out the excess, and then use it to wipe stains off of walls, like if your kid writes on the wall with crayon. It was cheap, so I bought it even though I had no wall stains or bratty kids to speak of. I bought it and chucked it in with my cleaning supplies and then totally forgot about it. So today I’m going to go grab the CLR when I notice the Magic Eraser package so I decide to try it out- on the tub! It’s a bright white spongy material that kind of reminds me of the stuff that double sided tape is made of. I ran it under water and squeeze out the excess and then took it to the tub. I made one quick pass over the tub with it and I was suddenly speechless. The Magic Eraser is indeed magic. It shockingly started wiping away the grime with almost no effort. I don’t know what it’s made of or how it works, but it really works well! I could not believe I didn’t have to use any chemical agents to get that gross film off the bottom of the tub. I’ve tried a lot of cleaning products through the years, including infomercial things like the Steam Buggy, but I gotta say, the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser absolutely takes the cake. Incredible!