Tapas are something that I learned to appreciate on my foreign exchange trip to Spain during high school, and have been something I have missed since then. It’s also an awesome word to say to someone who has never heard the word before, like when I tried to explain it to my ex-girlfriend’s Jamaican aunt and she thought I was bragging about going to a topless bar. Awkward…
Soho’s “Boqueria”, named after Barcelona’s famed “El Mercat de la Boqueira”, has been serving up authentic Spanish finger food and meals in a cozy little nook on Spring Street since 2006. With two locations in New York, one in Washington, DC, and another all the way in Hong Kong, “Boqueria must be doing something right, and it was up to this Encyclopedia Brown to find out what.
I kicked things off with the “Bombas de Barcelonata”, a trio of potato croquettes stuffed with beef and doused in their signature spicy tomato sauce and garlic allioli. Fried foods, as we are all aware, are golden brown ambrosia from the heavens, but it’s easy to go too far and turn into deep-fried dough at the carnival. These bombas were light and fluffy, with the perfect combo of sauces on top to add some hot and milky complexity to a simple ball of starch and meat.
“Alidoro” is notorious for many things. The first thing this tiny Italian sandwich joint is known for is their long line, typically one that is out the door whenever I pass by at lunch time. I lucked out on the day I decided to walk in, as I had just missed the big lunch rush. I also lucked out as this place runs out of food quick, and that does not bode well for a rumbling tummy.
With around 40 sandwiches that you could have, the menu is daunting at first glance. The list of things you can not have is equally scary, which commands you not to order things such as mayo, ketchup, tomato sauce, lettuce, pickles, utensils, and other no-no’s that would make The Soup Nazi smile. Aside from their reputation of awesome sandwiches, I heard they can be ferocious to customers who dared to ask for things on that banned list, even kicking people out for their insolence!
Having browsed the menu of what I could have outside (convenient for the folks stuck waiting on line when it is out the door), I wasted no time in ordering a “Matthew” sandwich. How could I resist a sandwich named after me? The answer is – I could not, nor will I ever.
If I did my math correctly, which I typically don’t thanks to my public school education, Soho’s “Mezzo Giornio” is celebrating their 25th anniversary this year, a momentous hallmark for a restaurant in NYC. Passing by the place on the corner of Spring St., I glanced over their menu and found some intriguing items that I had to try – specifically their pasta with wild boar (seen above). Thankfully, the restaurant has a great prix-fixe menu for $20 (not including tip) that offers up a healthy taste of their soup and pasta. With a price like that, who could say no? Well, I guess people who can’t eat gluten, but aside from them, who could say no (and much like a hipster, they are barely human anyway, so what do they matter)?
“Mezzo Giornio” wastes no time, bringing out a curtain opener of briny, meaty-tasting olives in different sizes and colors, along with some crusty bread and crunchy breadsticks. It was hard not to resist the lure of carbs, but I was on good behavior and held off, instead tearing through the earthen-colored olives like a lawnmower cuts through grass. Besides, I had a date with a bowl of pasta, and I wanted to give her my undivided attention.
Hello, and welcome to “Blowtorch Pudding”! Stay tuned, and stay hungry!