Month: August, 2006

Dinner @ Momofuku

Saturday, August 26th, 2006 | All Things, Eats

After another late-ish night at work. I got a text message from SYB around 9:00PM, inviting me out to a post-Monopoly meal at Momofuku Noodle Bar with him, EH and KR. Sounded good to me.

By the time I wrapped up things at the office and hopped a car service downtown, it was over an hour later, and the trio outside the restaurant had shrunk to a duo. (EH abandoned the cause about ten minutes into the hour-plus wait and was long gone before I arrived.) No doubt the tiny noodle bar had experienced yet another bump in its already considerable popularity after New York Magazine ranked it #2 on their list of Best Cheap Eats in New York City. (#1 was Bay Ridge’s Tanoreen, which I investigated a week ago.)

We finally settled into our spots at the end of the long bar, and ordered the house specialties: the Berkshire pork steamed buns and the eponymous ramen. At least, SYB and I did; KR opted for the Pan-roasted sweet corn and Gulf shrimp with bacon, miso and onions (and seemed ultimately a little disappointed with her choice.)

The wonderful, steamed buns arrived warm and fragrant at our table: fluffy rice flour pancake sandwiches layered with their famed fatty pork, thin slices of cool cucumber and a dollop of sweet hoisin. It’s a preparation reminiscent of peking duck – another one of my favorites. I could eat these all day.

Momofuku Kitchen

And then the ramen: giant bowls of noodles with slabs of melt-in-your-mouth Berkshire pork belly, shreds of tender, smokey shoulder, fresh fixins and a just gelled, slow-poached egg, topped with twin sheets of nori. For me, though, the broth is what sets this dish apart. According to New York Magazine, it derives its “super-porky flavor” from long-simmered chicken legs, roasted pork bones, ham hocks, and bacon.

Mmm, bacon…!

At $14 a bowl, though, these noodles are not what I would consider “cheap.” (Thanks, SYB!) But they are quite wonderful.

Momofuku Ramen

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Staten Island Yankees v. Hudson River Renegades

Friday, August 25th, 2006 | All Things, Friends, Sports

South Ferry is among the oldest ports in North America. It is named not for its geographic location, but for the landing of the erstwhile South Street Ferry which used to cross the eastern part of New York Harbor to transport passengers to Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. It was part of a fleet that included the Hamilton Ferry, the Wall Street Ferry, and the most famous Fulton Ferry, which ran between Manhattan and Brooklyn’s Fulton Streets during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Today, of course, it’s the entry point for the Staten Island Ferry. After racing through an early dinner at Thai Son with J in Chinatown, I met SYB, HYB and AB there, I hadn’t been on the Ferry in years, certainly not since the $201 million Whitehall Terminal opened in February 2005, about $50 million over budget. Construction began in late 2000 and was slated for completion in 2003, but financial and legal troubles (including subcontractor charges of bribery) may have contributed to the two-year opening delay. The space was designed by Schwartz Architects, the New York City firm that was unanimously selected for the project from an international design competition held in 1992. At about 19,000 square feet, the new terminal is approximately twice the size of the original, and features five new escalators and a 75-foot-tall, glass-enclosed entry hall with panoramic views of the downtown Manhattan skyline and waterfront. For the first time, the connection to the IRT South Ferry subway entrance is now directly inside the ferry terminal. The Whitehall/BMT subway entrance remains across the street, but eventually will connect once the renovations are complete.

SI Ferry Station

The old Whitehall Terminal (built in 1907 and expanded in 1954) was gutted by fire in 1991.

Old Whitehall Terminal

At precisely 6:15PM, we hopped the “John F. Kennedy” Ferry to St. George, one of the two Kennedy Class boats still in operation. (We took the other, the Governor Herbert H. Lehman, on the return to Manhattan.) These four-engined boats were the first diesel-powered ferries to enter the fleet, in 1965. [That’s for you, HYB.] The boats have a capacity of 3,500 passengers and up to 40 vehicles – though due to security concerns, cars haven’t been permitted aboard since 2001. Since 2005, the Ferry has added three larger, more powerful Molinari Class boats to the fleet (pictured below in the St. George Terminal): the Guy V. Molinari, the Sen. John J. Marchi, and the Spirit of America (which originally was to be named “The September 11th.” Wise choice.)

SI Ferries

The 25 minute, 5.2 mile ride is free. New York City has owned and operated the Ferry since 1905, charging at that time 5 cents for a ride aboard the coal burning steam ferries. The nickel fare remained in effect until 1975, when the charge became 25 cents for a round trip (collected in Manhattan). I recall paying that quarter until the next round of increases doubled the fare to 50 cents in 1990, before it was eliminated altogether in 1997 with Giuliani’s “One City, One Fare” program, which also rid the city of the two fare zones between NYC subways and buses.

After a flash rainstorm earlier in the day put our plans in jeopardy, it ended up to be cool, clear night for minor league baseball. Tonight the Staten Island Yankees were playing the Hudson Valley Renegades at the Ballpark at St. George Station (now: Richmond County Bank Ballpark.) The stadium, located just steps from the ferry terminal, was designed by HOK Sport — the same architectural firm that designed Oriole Park at Camden Yards and Jacobs Field. The ballpark seats 6,886 for baseball, and offers stunning views of the lower Manhattan skyline and the river traffic just beyond the outfield wall.

SI Barge

Renegades

SI Yankees

SI Yankee Batter

The game itself wasn’t all that interesting, despite being interspersed with minor league baseball hokiness like toddler mattress races, water balloon tosses and “Chicken Dance” dance-offs. We left after the sixth inning, missing the Yankees’ sweep of the Renegades and the post-game fireworks.

Despite it being “Merengue Night,” there was precious little evidence of merengue… though the ushers were wearing sombreros from Chevy’s Fresh Mex.

Coincidentally, The Staten Island Yankees also defeated the Hudson Valley Renegades in their very first game at RCCB in late June 2001.

South Ferry

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Trinity Place sendoff

Thursday, August 24th, 2006 | All Things, Film, Friends, NYC History

Another night at Trinity Place — this time for B’s send-off.

I wrote about this space two weeks ago, but did want to add a few notes about the building’s architect, Francis Hatch Kimball. Kimball was one of the most prolific architects of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In the early 1890’s, he pioneered a technique for constructing foundations with mechanically sunken concrete cylinders on which builders could erect full iron and steel frames — a design which Kimball later employed for the Trinity and U.S. Realty buildings, in which the bar now sits. Kimball’s technique served as a precursor to the method of bridge and building foundation construction still in use today. For these and other innovations, the New York Times dubbed Kimball “the father of the skyscraper” in their December 1919 obituary.

Trinity Place rests on the very spot where New York City’s first office building once stood. And if the legend is to be believed: atop the railroad tracks which were built to transport the bank vault to its location in the cellar of 115 Broadway.

Here, the repurposed elevator bank — now wine storage:

Trinity Place Wine

And I noticed for the first time this evening, an actual pile of shredded money encased in one of the rear dining room walls.

A good turnout for B, I thought, and I was pleased to meet the co-workers, particularly JF, about whom I’d heard so much this past year. I was put on the spot when he quizzed me about my favorite movies, and I didn’t have a ready answer. Since then, I’ve had time to ponder it, and although I am hesitant to make lists of this kind, I’ve come up with these ten as a starting point. In order of release:

Duck Soup, Casablanca, The Godfather (Part II — but of course, the original is also great), The Decalogue (if I had to pick one of the ten: One ), Say Anything, GoodFellas, The Wrong Trousers, The Shawshank Redemption, The English Patient and In the Mood for Love.

We also had a pretty amusing conversation about dating dealbreakers. I remember having a similar discussion with KD back in his single days. At the time, one of his was: “lacking a rudimentary sense of irony.” I offered “picky eater,” which JF found to be unnecessarily harsh. Is it really?

What can I say? I love the food. And I love New York — hence this blog. So “hating New York” would have to be another one.

[Edited to add: How could I forget The Princess Bride and The Matrix ? Oh, and I always watch When Harry Met Sally whenever I catch it on TV… which is not that infrequently — thanks TBS. Hmmm… I’m sure there are more that I’m omitting…]

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