Is Hospitality Enough 🍴

Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got. Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot. 

Yes that is part of the theme song from Cheers, but somehow that is the feeling I felt when I walked inside of Carla Hall’s Southern Kitchen in downtown Brooklyn. The feeling was so welcoming, I felt like I was Norm and everyone was sitting on their bar stools awaiting my arrival. When you think about it that is southern hospitality, its the kind of hospitality that doesn’t make you feel like a stranger or even a simple patron, but like an awaited guest. The community tables evoke conversations with people you may not have otherwise said hello to, the quaintness of the space encourages you to smile at your neighbors at the next table over, and when living in the world today takes everything you got, its that simplicity that is accompanied with a meal that makes the living part that much easier.

Now the decor in Carla Hall’s southern kitchen told me that the food was gonna be so good that it would make me wanna slap my momma, now anyone who knows about food colloquiums knows that you are speaking about some delicious food to make such a claim, so let me tell you what actually went down.

First up, 6 chicken wings with the “Hoot” sauce, otherwise known as medium spicy sauce. The chicken was fried perfectly, and there are just some fried foods that are pretty in color, and this was pretty in color; it was more than golden, it sort of leaned on the side of being a smidgen darker than blood orange, which is just the way I like it. I also like it when I can hear myself crunch, which is one of the byproducts of getting fried chicken. The taste however, was just good which you know if you have been following me for awhile, that good is the enemy of best. Sadly, it didn’t make me feel warm and fuzzy inside, the “Hoot” sauce did not make an impact at all, and I found myself feeling less like Norm and more like Rebecca Howe. No one particularly cared for Rebecca they only tolerated her and the chicken was definitely a Rebecca Howe.

Second up, mac and cheese; the mac and cheese was cheesy, the mac and cheese was warm not hot, the mac and cheese did not make me wanna slap my momma, it did not even make me wanna roll my eyes at her, or give her the side eye.

Third up, cole slaw, now not all cole slaws are created equal, and I guess the inequality is okay if the end result is that the taste is fabulous. Now there are a few types of cole slaw, first there is the dry slaw, then there is the vinegary slaw, then there is the creamy slaw, my preference is the creamy. Not simply just creamy, but with a backdrop of vinegary. Carla’s coleslaw was creamy, but it was not vinegary, it was mayonnaisey, which translates into non-delectable. 

Last up, corn bread. My tastebuds tell me that corn bread should be sweet, my tastebuds go on to tell me that corn bread should be moist, because my tastebuds are talkative it proceeded in saying that corn bread should almost be cake like. So needless to write my tastebuds were ultra disappointed. This corn bread was bitter, it was a little a moist, but it was not cake like, unfortunately Carla because I love you I would strongly suggest you remove the corn bread from the menu or at the minimum add some sweetness. When people eat corn bread today in this carb conscious society, it needs to be absolutely worth it, the bread needs to make you decide to workout 6 days a week just so you can eat the corn bread on the 7th day.

It pains me to write this blog, because I loved the comfort of the environment, I absolutely adored the waitstaff, the decor made me smile when I looked at it, and I felt complete harmony and rest as I sat there. But at the end of it all its the food that it comes down to, its the food that is the determining factor on whether you will return, its your tastebuds that have the final say, and the final say is, Carla step it up more than a few notches, change up a few of those recipes, and make me not only wanna slap my momma, but bring my momma to your restaurant.

Got more than I paid for🍴

For some reason I have always thought of restaurant week like a sale on food, but not necessarily a good sale. I never viewed it as an opportunity for the chef to showcase his or her skill set, but more like a week where the chef stays home and lets his sous chef cook. As I write this now I think how slow can I be? Restaurant week is a chance for a restaurant to place their skills on blast from the first course to the third course. A chance for them to execute in a way they never have before. Its almost like a pressure cooker situation, because one false move could make a patron love or hate them forever. 

Well the pressure was on and Bocca in New York City rose to the occasion like an eagle soaring for the skies. It is not very often that you have a meal that taste so good you want to apologize to your companion for not offering them a piece of your dish, not even a slither of your dessert, because having that one less bite is like having one less breath in your lungs.

Some people may find the pre-fixed restaurant menu a drudgery and I often find myself feeling the same way too at times, because it never seems like the most delicious items are on that menu, but only on the regular menu, but Bocca you got everything just right with the pre-fixed menu.

First up a fried crab cake with an aioli sauce and red onion. Now because I believe honesty is intertwined with integrity I have to write this crab cake was not dazzling to look at. Not only did it look lonely because it was only one, the plates presentation just lacked luster, but the taste lacked nothing. All white crab meat, no claws here, nicely shredded, seasoned very lightly so that you never lost the freshness of the meat, but tasted crab with every bite. The crust was not crunchy, yet somehow not soggy either, just a perfect coating that added texture to a sumptuous crab cake. Second course, lamb shank, mint, pappardelle ribbon pasta. I was never a person who favored a certain pasta over another until a year ago. I found that the reason behind that was that as easy as it seems not everyone can cook pasta. But when it is done right it can make your heart trill, and that is what pappardelle does for me. The lamb shank ragu with grated parmesan and a dollop of ricotta cheese, gave me goosebumps. That lamb was as tender and sweet as a newborn baby, the depth of flavor made me feel like I was in an enthralling conversation with the most sensual person on earth, and they were breathing life into me with every single word. The pasta was light, it was airy it was a smidgen buttery, it was impeccable. Third course, chocolate molten cake. Even as I write this I find it difficult to capture the rush of emotions that I felt when I took my first bite, except to write AMAZING. Amazingly rich, amazingly flavorful, amazingly chocolately, yet not to rich. With every bite that song rang in my head, “SIMPLY THE BEST, BETTER THAN ALL THE REST,” and I prayed my companion wouldn’t look too hard at my plate and dare not ask for a bite, where I would unapologetically declined them.

I left Bocca feeling completely satisfied, with a palate that was supremely gratified, and most of all smiling, because I did not have food on sale, I had food that was worth its weight in gold and so much more. Well done Bocca, well done!

Thankful 🍴

Dear Lord,

We are officially approaching the season of thanks, the time of year where people are mindful and gratuitous. The time of year where people smile a bit more and where we move just a smidgen slower in an effort to absorb every moment that is taking place.

It is the time of year where diets go by the wayside and people’s concentration is on the goodness of food. Lord it is funny how food and baked goods can draw a smile, it’s amazing how the sensory portion of the brain goes into overdrive when when we taste something that dances on our palates, and it is you oh Lord that has allowed us to indulge in this euphoric time of year.

There is no other space in time where food is more celebrated and love is more exacerbated than during the holidays, and for some it is only during this time that we bless the hands who made the food, we praise them for taking the time, and honor them for making it so darn good.

But Lord it is also an exciting time to taste foods we had not encountered before and thank Jesus that through your mighty works you created something so splendid. Today for the first time in my life I tasted rhubarb and strawberry pie from Delicious Orchard in Colts Necks, New Jersey, and upon first bite if I could stopped right there and praised you for your goodness and creativity with fruit and plants I would have.

This rhubarb and strawberry pie tasted like life to me. It represented all the components that life often has to offer. At the first hit in my mouth I got tart from the strawberry and rhubarb; and life sure is tart some times, but as I began to chew and let it lay on my tongue I got a smidgen of sweet and it reminded me of your ways, sometimes we encounter tartness in this life, but being the great opportunity taker you are you turn it even into a smidgen of sweet. As a began to savor I got a burst of freshness and coolness from the rhubarb which reminded me of what fall represents. Sure its gets darker earlier and the days seem shorter, but it is all a sign that a new day is on the horizon. With every chew I was reminded of your promise which is, while the earth remains there will be seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease and that is exactly what fall is. Then I got close to the end where i am now eating the edges of the flaky and buttery crust, and while smiling I thought, how excellent you are oh Lord, yea this crust is just crusty enough and i wanna make sure I chew and not just swallow, for its slight hardness reminds to slow down and make sure I stand in this moment and meditate on the goodness, and I wanna recognize that all together this is a reminiscent of life, and in the end, I say thank you Lord because it was all good with every single bite.

Thank you Lord🙏🏽

Do My Eyes Deceive Me🍴

My grandmother always said “baby don’t let your eyes be bigger than your stomach, for all it does is breeds waste,” and I am here to write she has never lied. But we live in a culinary society where it is a similitude of Texas. Bigger is better and more is the way to go. But I think I understand the marketing behind bigger; when things are bigger it almost acts as a blinding effect, and it perpetuates sensory overload, and for some reason you cannot judge rightly, and the reason you cannot is your other senses have become temporarily frozen.

When these situations occur it is absolutely vital that you turn your focus up to the highest level, because if you don’t you will be visually enthralled, but delectably challenged.

Jacob’s Pickles on the Upper East Side of Manhattan has an intriguing name and they are bordering on being a marketing genius, so let’s breakdown the experience accordingly. Jacob’s Pickles does not take reservations for parties of 6 or less and the wait staff have opted to wait on the tables at a tortoise pace so I asked myself what does this methodology create? One, it creates lines outside and an image that this restaurant is popping so much that people will wait for up to 2 hours for a seat. There second genius move is the loud music, and not just any music, music by Drake, Nicki Minaj, and some other people whom I don’t know their names, makes it appears that Jacob’s Pickles is not only trendy, socially engaging, but will definitely give you an opportunity to bob your head while your wait. And Imma tell you for the first few seconds you are definitely vibing and the beats are really hitting you, but as soon as you have to consistently say, “huh, what” to your social counterparts more than twice, then you are forced to move in extra close to them, because you cannot hear what they are saying, and you find yourself becoming horse because you are forced to speak at a higher octave, then it dawns on you that no one is dancing, this is not a club, and everyone is sitting and eating, therefor the music should not be this loud, and only persons singing is the wait staff then, that vibe that you initially had becomes a fleeting a moment.

So now it is time to sit and this crafty marketing strategy strikes again, because after waiting for an hour and twenty-five minutes I am absolutely famished, so I am completely onboard for the bigger is better concept. My brain and my stomach is telling me no matter how much they bring I will eat every last drop, I mean I have not even drank any water because I did not want use any stomach space unnecessarily.

First on the menu would be exactly what you expected, fried pickles. I am pretty confident that in 2016 in the land of food tv and cooking channel everyone is keenly aware that a pickle is simply a pickled cucumber. Now when it comes to pickling some people simply just do it better than others. I am not really sure how the whole pickling process works, but i do know that the end result should not be that I think I am eating a cucumber. Jacob where was the saltiness, how come my throat didn’t get tickled by the brinyness, and why was it so firm that I felt like the process to make it a pickle only started while I was waiting for almost 2 hours for a seat.

Second up, the special of the night, macaroni and cheese chicken parmesan. What exactly does this dish breakdown to being is normal mac and cheese, with marinara sauce, and a breaded chicken fillet.

When this dish came out in its cast iron pan, piping hot, patchy scorched pieces of cheese from being under the broiler, my eyes lit up like stars. My first thought was who are they bringing this dish too, me or a family of four and two how in the world would I ever be able to tackle this Fred Flinstone meal. 

So I developed a strategy, I was gonna work my way in starting from the sides. The pasta noodles were penne, and perfectly el dente. The cheese was beautifully gooey and gave me the whole string effect in all of my 7 bites that I ate, and the chicken was very tender. 

The first bite I thought, “this ok,” but if you have been following me on this blog, you know my quest in food life is to find more than just ok. Second bite, I am feeling the same. Third bite, it has happened I start to think this is good, but I am still not where I wanna be on the euphoria scale. I take several more bites and not only am I stuffed but I have an epiphany. That epiphany is that maybe the mac and cheese chicken parmesan was to hot for me to enjoy to its fullest capacity, maybe all the flavors had not settled in the right spot yet, maybe this dish was better as a leftover. Leftovers are funny, some dishes can be good on opening night, but on the second night it really puts on a show. I get this effect with stuffing and my dad’s spaghetti and meatballs. So in my efforts to ensure that I was being fair, I ate it a day later. 

 A day later, after reheating properly in the oven, i still got the same effect of cheesiness and girth, but what I didn’t get was anything beyond thinking this was “simply ok.” Which is kinda synonymous with being dull and leaving me with unfulfilled palate.

Jacob’s Pickles you remind me of the too cool for school kids and nothing about this blog is gonna make you change your marketing campaign, but I will tell you to at least to try to increase your seasonings and your flavoring so when the visual sensory overload comes to an end, what you are left with is the best tasting meal on the block. Patrons feeling like they had adequate food service where time is concerned, and non-bleeding eardrums.

A Posh Price🍴


Whenever you choose a meal, you also evaluate the price alongside what meal of the day it is. For me I spend the least for breakfast, also minimal for lunch, and it is dinner where I have the propensity to spare no expense. But even when doing this evaluation I take a look at what I am getting, is the meal in proportion to the price, is the serving size they are giving worth it’s weight in potatoes. 

So when I went to Smorgasbord in Manhattan’s Seaport for lunch and chose to purchase lunch at Fletcher’s Brooklyn BBQ and spent $14.00 I weighed what I would get. What I got was a bbq pulled pork sandwich with a side of slaw, potato chips, and a bottle water. Now on the onset it seemed quite expensive for a lunch, but I thought maybe bbq is different here in New York, I mean when I go to Famous Dave’s BBQ for the same thing I will spend $6.99. So it got me to thinking in light of the fact that I had never been to Fletcher Brooklyn BBQ, maybe the portion is bigger and more importantly maybe the taste is better than Famous Dave’s, so I will go on the splurge.

Upon first sight and bite what I realized is that I had been hustled, I would even go as far as to write I had been hornswoogled. Whenever you eat bbq there a few key components that are extremely essential: tenderness, smokiness, and robust flavor, and only one of the essentials were fulfilled and that was the tenderness. The slaw was just simply shredded cabbage, no sauce, no flavor, just a ketchup size cup of shredded cabbage, so insignificant that it seemed unfair to call it slaw. In my mind I was chanting a song “Oh smokiness, oh smokiness, where art thou!” Maybe Fletcher forgot it, maybe Fletcher cooked this pulled pork in a crock pot and tried to give me the 52 fake out and call it bbq, or maybe this was simply subpar bbq with a Manhattan price, where the establishment hadn’t decided that for $14.00 for lunch it should be absolutely superb and mouth shattering good. A meal where when the splurge is made, the eater feels like this sandwich was absolutely worth every penny and its weight in potatoes.

Fletcher’s Brooklyn BBQ maybe you need to take a lesson from Famous Dave’s and make me imagine that with every bite a big fat man is out in the back slow cooking bbq with cedar wood chips and coals, because it’s simply that good.

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A Side Piece 🍴

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Not So Sweet🍴

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Sugar Pepper 🍴

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Dear Palmier🍴

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