Eaten in the Eighth Month!

The time has come for me to show you all the lunches I’ve saved up for four weeks. Yes, it’s been four weeks since I last showed you what graced the plates that were set before me in various restaurants here in my fair city. And since I began this month with food, I now choose to bookend the month at its end by showing you more. It’s all so symmetric!
Since I do not want anyone to send me photos of raw sausage extrusion (you will have to read the linked entry above to understand the reference!), I will start by showing you a few lunches I enjoyed in Brooklyn.
The first one is not from August, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is how much in love I was with it. Although I ate it on 22 June, I can still recall the excitement. I’m sure the waiter at Bombay Grill in Park Slope remembers too. Look:

Ka-chori (appetizer) and Mushroom Shag (alternate spelling of “saag”, of course …
but believe me, I was tempted to shag this dish right there at/on the table. It was that good.)

I ordered the ka-chori without even knowing what it was. I asked if it was vegetarian, and it was, so that was all I needed to know. The menu described it as “too difficult to put into words, but recommend”. How could I pass that up?

Second Helpings, Four Sides
3 August 2004
Clockwise, from “11:00”: Hiziki rainbow salad … Senegalese peanut stew … Organic white beans with roasted tomatoes, roasted garlic, lentils and olive oil … Indian lentil cake (with coriander chutney). When confronted by the array of colorful and beautiful side dishes from which to choose, I could barely contain myself. And as the counter people and my friend Cameron can attest, I didn’t. We dined al fresco!

A couple of weeks later I finally ate at Red Hot, which I’d been meaning to check out for some time after reading on their menu that they do not waste condiment packets with takeout orders. (I find that a very attractive quality in a restaurant. And also in a red hot lover.) I did not test them, though, because I ate indoors. Look:

Scallion Pancake and Golden Green Jade
I can’t tell you how much I loved this food. I will not even try to explain how something so simple — after all, Golden Green Jade is just tofu (fried) (sorry, but as much as I’m into health ‘n’ stuff, steamed tofu just cannot compare) and spinach — could be so mouthfuckingwatering good. There is probably a lesson in there somewhere about “simplicity”, but I’ll let you chew on that notion by yourself.

Rice Thai Kitchen, Pad Thai, et al.
24 August 2004
Three weeks after the scandal of my exuberance involving the food from Second Helpings died down, Cameron saw fit to eat with me in public again. We were both impressed with the pretty compartmentalized dishes, which made us feel like we were eating TV dinners. Except without a TV. Or an over-baked brownie. In honor of TV, though, after lunch we pretended we were Shields and Yarnell, which was only appropriate given that we were wearing almost identical ensembles. (Yes, mime was involved!)

So that was Brooklyn. In Manhattan, I indulged in the following:

Benvenuto, Salad (with seven guest star toppings!)
4 August 2004
This pretty, fresh, youthful-looking salad is the equivalent of my teen-aged (but wise beyond her years) friend Chloe, so it was only fitting that I would enjoy it in her delightful company. Although I ordered sun-dried tomatoes, it was presented with cherry tomatoes. I would have verbally abused the waitress enough to embarrass the entire restaurant for all eternity, if only I didn’t feel sorry for the cherry tomatoes. It was not their fault she made a mistake. (Chloe, for the record, did not eat her cherry tomatoes, and I felt sorry for them.)

The next day, I had a romantic dinner with Kyria, who, although decidedly not teen-aged, is also pretty and fresh-faced. We celebrated our one-year paneerversary at Jackson Diner in Queens, where we’d previously done intensive research for our famous PaneerQuest.

Bhel Puri, Saag Paneer a Deux, and Invasively Erotic Close-Up of Saag Paneer
And then back to Manhattan again:

Candle Cafe, Vegetable Paella
6 August 2004
Roasted vegetables, arame and chickpeas tossed with saffron rice and served over sautéed greens and roasted tomato truffle sauce. Topped with ancho chili aioli. This dish was so impressive that the woman at the table to my right actually spun around in her seat to admire it and ask what it was. So I told her. “It’s ploshki-prow blockcrom!” I said. I would have given her a straight answer if she hadn’t been wearing a hideous sweatshirt in public. (I sure hope she enjoyed the blockcrom!)

Gobo, Eggplant and String Beans
8 August 2004
Don’t you hate when you decide, in a fit of adventurous bravado, to forego your usual standby dish and order something else, and then you’re hideously disappointed and wish you’d stuck with what you know? I know I do. Well, that wasn’t the case here. This was just the appetizer. And it was worth the risk. Bravo, bravado!

Candle Cafe, Roasted Garlic Rosemary Polenta
9 August 2004
Pan seared and served with tempeh, wilted greens, grilled radicchio, and balsamic grilled peaches. All I’m going to say is that you haven’t lived until you’ve tasted a grilled peach. (Of course the rest of the dish was sensational, too, but that peach … )

Candle Cafe, Split Pea Soup
13 August 2004
As a rule, I am not bowled over by soup. However, I break that rule when the soup is thick and stew-like and promises to almost solidify upon cooling, as was the case with this bowl. Although I prefer to eat soup only in the crisper months (So many rules for soup! you sneer) I made an exception in this case, but in honor of that preference I daydreamed of October and the corduroy jacket I will wear the next time I have soup at Candle Cafe.

Candle Cafe, Grilled Eggplant Rolotini
13 August 2004
Grilled eggplant filled with tofu, spinach, mushrooms, onions and Italian spices. Topped with soy mozzarella cheese and plum tomato sauce and served with brown rice and pinto bean pilaf and sautéed broccoli. I’d say more, but really, this says it all. I wish you could’ve seen me bend down and lick my plate clean (delicately, though, and like a lady).

Cowgirl Hall of Fame, Grilled Vegetable Salad
20 August 2004
I went to this place because my lunch companion wanted chicken-fried steak. So I went, even though he told me all the servers would be wearing overalls, the mere sight of which would ordinarily would make me lose my appetite. I’m glad I did, because this salad was just as gorgeous as overalls are not. And the french fries were fantastic too.

And there you have it. Foodfest-a-gogo! I will be fasting the entire month of September, but don’t worry, I plan to go to several restaurants and photograph some of the city’s most beautiful empty plates.