Pizza Cravings

August 6th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

An eminent broadcasting executive, married to a world famous, beautiful and elegant fashion icon, was queried by a friend as to why he was unfaithful to her with very ordinary, mundane women. The sexist guy replied: “Well, I love caviar but sometimes I have a hankering for a slice of pizza”. No risque metaphor here. In a very literal sense, old HG would like some good pizza. Unavailable in New Mexico and have yet to try Piatto Pizzeria in Prince Edward Island (have heard good things). SJ will soon be on PEI with family. Hopefully, SJ will grill some of SJ’s pizza covered with thinly sliced PEI potatoes, garlic, herbs and fruity olive oil. Excellent. Al Forno in Providence is famous for its grilled pizza (some good grilled pizza is available at a little eatery on Providence’s Federal Hill.) Pizzas are versatile. HG liked the thin crusted pizzas served at the 240 Union restaurant in Lakewood, CO.,when the talented Matthew Franklin was chef. Before moving to HG/BSK’s horse ranch in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain foothills, HG/BSK spent more than a year on Sheridan Square in New York’s Greenwich Village. HG/BSK supped often at a nearby architecturally distinctive, stylish restaurant. The female chef made a variety of fine thin crust pizzas. Alas, the restaurant closed. A bit too stylish for the AIDS-wracked Village of that time (mid-80’s). The ultimate thin crust pizza was the product of a Roman hole-in-the-wall near The Spanish Steps. This was a pizza topped with thin slices of zucchini. No cheese. No tomatoes. It resembled a French apple tart. HG’s guilty pleasure was a thick crusted slice of pizza sold at pizzerias throughout northern New Jersey and The Bronx; also at the “original” Original Ray’s in Manhattan. Greasy. Juicy. Cheesy. Irresistible. Sprinkled with red pepper flakes, garlic powder and dry oregano, this was a treat that united the proletariat with artists, intellectuals, businesspersons and politicians. The great leveler.

Pecan Bars At Panade: An SJ Posting

April 10th, 2014 § 1 comment § permalink

SJ Here. For the last two months I have been on a quest to change the meaning of my “S” to skinny. This has meant avoiding sugars, pasta, bread, starches, etc., like a truly modern (and unhappy) man. For the most part the temptations have been negligable (although I have been dreaming of steaming bowls of Pasta laden with anchovies and garlic) except for one: the Pecan Bars (dubbed Crack Bars by those in the know) served up at my local coffee spot, Panade. Panade is one of the great neighborhood spots — a fixture of North Chinatown / LES — with an owner, Yvette, who not only serves up great coffee, “puffs,” and sandwiches but is also a true emissary of our hood: everyone knows her, she knows everyone and thus the disparate worlds of Chinatown are melded in her small storefront. Every morning when I get my coffee a display of these Pecan Bars mocks me — they are the perfect baked good — nutty with pecan goodness, rife with the flavors of butter and toffee, moist and slightly chewy. Sweet, but not cloying. Nothing beats them as a mid-day treat (or mid-morning or mid-night or mid-dusk or in the mid of really anything) and they raise a mighty alarm to my will power every day that I force myself to go without. So, generous soul that I am, if I cannot have them I would like to entreat all you loyal Hungry Gerald readers to make a trip south of Delancey and try the vaunted Panade Pecan Bar — truly the best cookie in New York City.

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Ignoring Reviews and Loving Brooklyn Crab

April 28th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

SJ here. For the past year I gazed with a certain hesitant lust at Brooklyn Crab. As it was being built (and looking like an old-fashioned Fire Island beach house) I thought, as everyone probably did, what a smart idea! What a great view! Beer and Crabs overlooking the harbor. Pretty Simple. Pretty great! When it opened, it was immediately jam-packed — a complete and total success and I just never made it over.

This past weekend was glorious. Spring in all of Spring’s perfection — sun shining, dry breeze blowing and crisp as a freshly picked cucumber. I had friends coming and I thought how nice it would be to go to Brooklyn Crab, sit outside and take in those harbor views while drinking beer and eating crabs…And then I read the reviews. Man, Brooklyn Crab was so terribly reviewed that I almost called the whole thing off, but then I thought well, how bad could it really be? At least the beer should be cold and even eating some crappy peel and eat shrimp still seemed okay. So I geared myself up to not be upset by bad food and bad service and ended up going. After an hour-long wait (which was easy as I bought some wine at Red Hook’s great Dry Dock and took it out to the Louis Valentino Park and Pier) we were seated. The view of the harbor was brilliant and a kind of giddy, beach-side-vacationy-fun vibe suffused the whole place. It was precisely what I wanted. We ordered Maryland Crabs, some Steamers, a mixed seafood boil with shrimp, King Crab legs, corn, clams, potatos, etc and some fried shrimp. The Crabs were as good as those I had had in Baltimore and the Seafood Boil was done just right, nothing overdone and we had lots of fun and made a total mess cracking crabs and picking out the meat. Oddly the potato that was included in the Seafood boil was excellent! Perfectly cooked and infused with the Old bay seasoning and the briney flavors of the crabs and clams. The fried shrimp were mediocre and the steamers weren’t the best I ever had, but there was tons of food and between five people we managed to eat everything and really enjoy ourselves. No it wasn’t the greatest seafood meal of my life by any means, but it was totally respectable and just totally jolly. I also enjoyed what a nice cross section of Brooklyn were eating there AND working there — real Brooklyn families from Irishy looking Cop families to Asian familes from Sunset Park to Jamaican families to twenty somethings on dates and nary a hipster in sight to complain about the lack of locavore credentials. In many ways, Brooklyn Crab reminded me of the blue collar seafood spots in City Island — no pretensions at all. The prices were not cheap but they weren’t insane. And when we finished, the Manger (I’m guessing) came over and asked us how everything was. I told her we had a great time and told her that I was worried before we came because the reviews were so crappy. And she sort of said, yeah, it was a bit of a struggle last year but they were really trying to improve…and I could think was yeah, you did! So if you want to eat some crabs, drink some cold beers and overlook perhaps the greatest urban water view outside of Istanbul, then turn away from the reviews because Brooklyn Crab hits the spot.

Mitchell, McNulty (and SJ)

February 14th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

In the most recent New Yorker Magazine, there is a beautiful, heartbreaking piece by the late Joseph Mitchell (1908-1996) entitled: “Street Life: Becoming Part of the City.” In a brief introduction, the New Yorker states: “What follows here is the initial chapter of a planned memoir that Mitchell started in the late sixties and early seventies but, as with other writings after 1964, never completed.” From 1964 to 1996, Mitchell went to his New Yorker office every day but never published a word. Street Life proves once more that nobody wrote about New York City, its places and people, with Mitchell’s eloquence, grace and sensitivity. It is heartbreaking for lovers of the New York City and journalism (a type of journalism that can only be described with the adjectives: literary and poetic) that Mitchell did not publish for 32 years. If you haven’t read Mitchell, check out Amazon for his books (collections of his New Yorker articles). You will be rewarded. Mitchell wrote wonderfully about food — namely seafood (though he did the definitive article on a gluttonous old New York event called a “Beefsteak”). Mitchell loved the Fulton Fish Market, its Sloppy Louie’s Restaurant and its unique raffishness. One of his composite characters, Old Mr. Flood. describes himself as a seafoodetarian. While Mitchell was the Poet Laureate of the Fulton Fish Market, another New Yorker writer, the lamentably short lived John McNulty (1896-1956), was the Poet Laureate of Third Avenue (the Third Avenue which had an El rumbling overhead; the Avenue which was lined with Irish saloons and Jewish pawn shops). Nobody ever wrote better about ordinary New Yorkers, horseplayers, bar room beer drinkers, unsung laborers, office workers, news dealers, etc. James Thurber, his New Yorker colleague, said about him: “Nothing, however commonplace, that he touched remained commonplace, but was magnified and enhanced by his intense and endless fascination.” (Permit justified parental pride. The same words could be applied to SJ and the series of “Sad Chairs” photos and poetic prose SJ posts almost daily on his Sad Chairs Blog. Better than anyone, SJ evokes the bittersweet qualities of urban life. Log into http://sadchairs.tumblr.com/ to experience a very individual view of the city.)

Court Street Grocers: an SJ Posting

October 17th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

SJ here. My heart has been echoing with that bubbling, pitter-pat effervescence of joy that makes me want to run to the hilltops and shout out: I AM IN LOVE!!! Well, I am. Completely and totally smitten with the absolutely wonderful Court Street Grocers which opened in late 2010 and which I am just now discovering right here in my backyard of Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn (perhaps the best neighborhood in the entire universe).

Court Street Grocers is half a specialty grocer and half an über casual breakfast / sandwich spot (that also serves dinner once a week). Where much of Brooklyn’s new food culture prides itself, in both positive and negative ways, on a seriousness of intent — chefs in Abraham Lincoln beards and suspenders hand churning artisanal butter and restaurants so painstakingly dedicated to the locavore movement that they will only serve lettuce grown on the roof of their own spot — Court Street Grocers just seems to love food and have a profound joy in sharing it. Witness the grocery section: neat shelves lined with stuff that I, or my family or any of my friends would have chosen: weird mustards from West Virginia, regional hot sauces, Goldenberg’s peanut chews, jars of Brooklyn made Kim Chee, New Orleans Ice Coffee concentrates, Japanese Kewpie brand mayonnaise, Hatch Green Chili Sauce, top shelf Canned Tomatoes, great milk, NY state apples and seasonal veggies, and much much more; a high – low approach that completely won me over and had me going condiment mad like a porn maven in video shop going-out-of-business sale.

And then there are the sandwiches….It is as if the mad scientists of Court Street Grocers pinpointed the fertile imagination of the returning-home-late-at-night, semi drunken, famished chef who is only out to please his own belly. MAN!!! Let’s review the numbers I have tried: The “Little Shonda” — Dark, toasted pumpernickel bread, slathered with Durkee Famous Sandwich Sauce, softly scrambled eggs, top quality pastrami, melted swiss and pickled green tomatoes. The “Mother-in-Law” — A cibatta loaf stuffed with braised heritage beef short ribs, kim chee, roasted broccoli and lots of mayo. The “Media Noche” – Roasted Pork Shoulder, Heritage Foods Ham, Swiss Cheese, Mayo, Mustard, Gus’ Full Sour Pickles, on Brioche, which is. more or less, the greatest Cubano Sandwich I have ever tasted. And finally, a toasted cheese sandwich of Cabot Cheddar, Apple Butter on a superb 10 grain Pullman Loaf. Everything just wonderful and they have loads more sandwiches that I have not gotten around to tasting yet. And, just to rule a bit more, they also have great coffee. These sandwiches can be eaten in a plain, but perfectly comfortable, dining room or taken out. There is also a $35 prix fixe dinner that is served every Friday with 2 seatings that you have to reserve on-line. I have looked at the offerings and they seem to be as wonderful as the lunch and breakfast menus — simply put, food that you want to eat.

The owners (there are 3 of them, maybe 4?) of this wonderful establishment hang out by the cash register, seemingly the happiest group of people you can imagine. I saw one of them walking down Court Street once, simply floating with joy as every other person that walked by greeted him with words and smiles. These are people that are having fun at their jobs — they are thrilled to be part of their community, they are having a great time and they know everything about what they are selling and have definitely enjoyed it all. I am so happy that I am lucky enough to be within the sphere of Court Street Grocers and will continue to explore (and report!) on their food.

Taste Of Memphis In PEI

July 24th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Nice day on the sunny and breezy Prince Edward Island beach. Appetites were well honed. In fact, La Famille HG/BSK was famished. Fortunately, SJ was in charge of cuisine. Wow. The guy really delivered. Earlier in the day SJ picked up some PEI Tamworth (a heritage breed pig) pork ribs from local butcher Lloyd’s Specialty Meats. SJ dry rubbed these racks of high quality pork ribs in brown sugar, cumin, adobo, garlic powder, all spice, thyme, chile powder and crushed chipotle peppers. He then slowly smoked them over white oak. It was the type of BBQ that reached the kind of flavor crescendo that HG had only encountered some years ago at Corky’s in Memphis. No sauce. Just fragrant, super spicy meat. Tennessee/Mississippi cooking at its best. SJ (on the previous day) had made some super chicken broth. Last night, BSK enhanced the broth with chopped kale,white beans and chunks of grilled Cajun sausage. The meal started with mozzarella bocconcini, kumatoes and basil doused in splendid olive oil. Lots of red wine and and a baguette from the talented baker at Cardigan Farmers Market. Yes. Life (if you measure it in culinary delight) can be very good.

Chinese Food Heaven

July 2nd, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

HG and BSK have been in New York and, with SJ as an informed guide, have been dining in Chinese restaurants in Chinatown and one in Brooklyn (on the border of Bay Ridge and Sunset Park). Glorious gluttony.

First stop was dinner at Oriental Garden on Elizabeth Street. A bit pricey and formal and (surprising for a Chinatown restaurant) a reasonably ambitious wine list. First some steamed chive dumplings and a dish of delightful little cubes of bean curd, deftly deep fried and then smothered in parsley, garlic and ginger. Then came the most heavenly prawns any of us ever had. Big ocean prawns presented to us wriggling in a net before going into the wok. The prawns were juicy, firm fleshed and filled with flavor and seemed almost like a cross between a prawn and a langoustine. Then a big flounder, steamed in rice wine and finished with hot oil, garlic, ginger and parsley. Continuing the sea food theme there were giant sea scallops (still attached to their shells) in a light black bean sauce. Final course was chow fun noodles. These were charred in the wok and mixed with scallions in a lusty brown sauce and melded with generous quantities of squid, scallops and chunks of cod.

Next was a fiery lunch at Shanghai Hepking Restaurant at 100 Mott Street. First, some fried pork dumplings, then, a fiery Ma Po Tofu — tender little chunks of bean curd in mouth tingling chili oil. Fish filets with bok choy and mushrooms in a slightly less blazing chili oil. HG restored his taste buds with the restaurant’s special cooling coconut milkshake.

HG also lunched solo at the tiny, plain spoken Henan Flavor Restaurant on Forsyth Street. A lovely young woman with a winning manner turns out soups and noodle bowls from her native province of Henan in China (Don’t confuse Henan with Hunan, the province noted for sophisticated peppery food). Big bowls of noodles and chicken topped with a variety of fresh vegetables cost five dollars. The noodles are hand pulled and silky (broad like pappardelle). The flavors are rich and hearty, redolent of cumin seeds and varieties of pepper. The taste is vaguely middle eastern, reflecting Henan’s history as an outpost along the Spice Road, and portions are huge. Henan Flavor has proved to be a savior of indigent lower east side artists who flock there on cold days to enjoy a warming, nourishing cheap bowl. The restaurant’s two dollar pork pancake is the best food bargain in New York.

On to Brooklyn for dinner at East Harbor Seafood Cuisine, a majestic place at 714 65th Street. Here, there was perfect Peking duck served with Bao, puffy buns rather than flat pancakes. Filets of tender flounder were served with the vegetables of the season plus some delectable slices of winter melon. There was a nice platter of chicken breasts and vegetables in a subtle sauce, all nestled on a bed of chow fun noodles. There were more vegetables in the form of garlicky sauteed pea shoots. Adding crunch to the meal were fried squid dusted with garlic and chili pepper. Fresh melon and slices of orange for dessert. Family and great Chinese food spell a winning combination for HG.

Lower East Side Memory

May 16th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Gone from the streets of the ever more trendy Lower East Side of Manhattan are the choppers. Permit HG to explain. HG does nor refer to people with cleavers. The “ch” in HG’s “choppers” is pronounced with a guttural, Yiddish “ch” as in “challah.” In Yiddish the word chop means “grab.” And, that’s what a chopper did. He grabbed you. When little HG accompanied his father on various Lower East Side errands, choppers were stationed outside of men’s clothing stores on East Broadway and Division Streets. They would grab the arm of HG’s father and try to drag him into a store. Meanwhile they offered a sales pitch in heavily accented English: “Come inside. Bargains. The finest materials. Beautiful suits, coats. Latest styles. Take a look. Prices you won’t believe. No harm in looking.” The chopper had a grip like an iron vise. It took real strength (possessed by HG’s father) to extricate oneself from a dedicated chopper.

All of this took place many, many decades ago in a simpler New York. Now geniuses like Wylie Dufresne turn out imaginative food in chic Lower East Side restaurants. Nary a knish or “chopper’ in sight.

SJ here. Allow me to make a brief interjection. True, the Lower East Side has transformed into a hipster playground of trendy bars, cafes, etc. But, like a ghost sign that bleeds through faded paint jobs, elements of the old Lower East Side are still with us. Orchard Street, while gussied up beyond recognition, still houses of number of old clothing stores and, surprise, surprise, an honest to god chopper. Yes, I was recently stopped in my tracks — the grip was that strong — by a middle aged Hasid who said, “Young man, you look like a fellow who could use a nice suit. We have suits, so good, so cheap, come inside…” A relic of the old days, the chopper still has the stuff…And when it comes to knishes!!! We have the best still in operation!!! Yes Yonah Schimmel Knishes is open right on Houston Street and serving up a delicious Knish — get the Kasha!!!

When Bad Food Happens to Good Food Hunters: An SJ Posting

April 2nd, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

SJ here.  As a dedicated hunter of all sorts of obscure, ethnic food treats, you learn to read the signs — the tells — of a great culinary experience: a line of taxicabs in front of Pakistani take-out, absolute unfamiliarity in English, a certain grittiness mixed with equal parts pride…the list goes on and I was fairly certain my ability to read those signs was infallible.  Well, pride is a bitch.  What comes up must go down, and so shall I share with you a cautionary tale of When Bad Food Happens To Good Food Hunters:

She had it all.  No English.  A mouth full of metal.  Enthusiasm. A kitchen made up of various coolers and snap lid trays hauled around in a red shopping cart.  I had noticed her for a week dishing out food for the Central American workers in the Chinese owned glass and vegetable wholesalers that line Broome Street.  I finally decided to make my move and pick up whatever it was she was dishing out.  She was thrilled.  With what little Spanish I possess I came to understand that she had a chicken stew, with a kind of bean soup and a side of mashed eggplant; and a dish of baccala which did not look appetizing.  Sure!  I thought.  $5 for this awesome meal served out of coolers in between glass cutting machines and a smiling Guatemalan wearing an shirt covered in hand drawn pentagrams and the names of Nordic Black Metal bands — AWESOME!  As she dished out the food, I had dreams of writing posts in Chowhound about the brilliance of the meal and how those posts would cause food lovers to wait on line for this incredible street food experience and how one day my hero Robert Sietsema would feast on her chicken and then search me out to thank me for this incredible culinary find and how then we would become best friends and go to Flushing and eat banquets of dumplings together and…..and….and then I tasted my meal.

If it were disgusting, wretched, horrific even — I would have been happier!  It would have been an experience I could boast about and say: Remember that time I had that crazy Central American special chicken that tasted of tires and old socks?  Unfortunately the Broome Street chicken was just not good in the most boring way.  The chicken was very dry and over-cooked.  The stew itself had no strong flavors.  The eggplant thing tasted of baby food and the bean soupy thing had no zing, no nothing!!!!  For all its gritty surroundings and strong, ethnic profile, the meal was as bland as something served up in a hospital. My secret, ethnic food vending lady turned out to be a Midwestern housewife in disguise.

The signs had proved wrong.  My arrogance was shattered.  My friendship with Robert Sietsema never happened.  It will take me some time to recover. Thanks Broome Street Chicken!

More More Baltimore! An SJ Post.

February 26th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

SJ here. Last week a photograph of mine of a Chesapeake Bay Oyster topped with a slice of hard boiled egg caused HG such a wave of food envy that he was prompted to write a post about it (see An HG Sin: Food Envy) Well, as much as I love HG, I love to fan the embers of his Food Envy into a roaring fire. Soo….let me tell you a little about that oyster…

Last week, myself, my wife — the aptly named Exquisite Maiko — and our son decided to forsake our beloved NYC for a weekend in Baltimore. The drive down took only about 3 hours and along the way we stopped in Wilmington, Delaware at the Charcoal Pit for absolutely great hamburgers and milkshakes.

The Charcoal Pit is a Road Food classic — been there since the 1950s and still as popular as ever. Places like this often become parodies of themselves, existing in the squinty light of nostalgia — but the Pit avoids that trap by neither seeming cutesy nor precious and instead just serving up good, well made classic food at very reasonable prices.

The last time I had been in Baltimore I went to Obryckis in Fells Point for crabs. They were dumped right on the table onto butcher’s paper, and hammer in hand I demolished a number of these wonderful crustaceans steamed in a heady black-pepper seasoning. I was excited to return and excited for Exquisite Maiko to taste such a regional specialty. Alas, Obryckis has closed (note to all restaurants who close and have websites: MAKE BEING CLOSED THE FOCUS OF YOUR WEBSITE!!!) so we had to find an alternative. Now, not being from Baltimore and not really knowing a lot about the city, it can be hard separating out the tourist crap from something both authentic and authentically good. So, reading between the lines of numerous blog postings and Best Of Baltimore lists, we decided on a spot called Canton Dockside who seemed to be the spot for year-round crabs. Well, we got there and guess what…NO CRABS! Why? Because Canton Dockside gets their crabs in the off-season from Louisiana and this being Mardi Gras week all the Louisiana Crabbers were either too drunk to ship crabs or they wanted to keep all crabs within the state for Mardi Gras. Either way, we were thwarted but soothed ourselves with great broiled crab cakes (light on the mayonnaise and breadcrumbs), plump shrimps steamed with Old Bay Seasoning and a rather horrifying pretzel like thing smeared in cheese and crab dip (the less said about that last dish, the better!).

I also made a new friend in the Baltimore beer known as National Bohemian Beer or Natty Boh.

Extremely cold and extremely yummy!

The next day, we woke up early to take in some real touristy stuff (Huge Aquarium! Dolphin Show!) and get hungry in preparation for my focus — The covered markets of Baltimore. Since 1763, Baltimore has maintained a group of municipally owned covered markets that serve specific neighborhoods. There are seven markets remaining in Baltimore and the largest is the Lexington Market located right in the heart of Down Town. I had heard tell of some serious food happening at this Lexington Market so off we went. Well…I absolutely fell in love. Lexington market is an urban institution — while tourists like myself might pass through, the market is unadorned, gritty and absolutely true to itself.

This is the spot for discount groceries, cheap cell phone plans, butchers that specialize in the rough bits (chitterlings, hog maws, ham hocks, pig ears, fat back and more), fish mongers and stall upon stall of prepared foods — many of which hawk the fact that they accept CDC vouchers and food stamps. So what were in these stalls? Well, oddly, the majority seem to have been taken over by Chinese and Koreans who are serving up a mixture of cheap Chinese and soul food staples — beef and broccoli alongside stewed chicken and dumplings not to mention the happy guy I saw munching away on a scoop-full of pork fried rice accompanied by a bowl of Chitterlings doused with hot sauce.

There is no pretensions of regional food-ways purity here at the Lexington. Its cheap and good? Yes! Lots of fried chicken spots with a heavy focus on the livers, backs and gizzards — not something you see at KFC! Many sandwich spots selling (I think) Baltimore produced smoked meats — courtesy of its Polish and German immigrants. And, fruit salad — big containers of very fresh and very cheap fruit salad. Interestingly, I noticed that you could use your food stamps to buy fruit salad, fruit smoothies and groceries, but not a lot of the heavier prepared foods — I am imagining that this was a bid by the Health Department to influence healthier eating standards. And all the way in back — pretty much a separate enclave all to itself is Faidley’s Seafood.

Faidley’s is a working seafood market hawking the rather impressive bounty of the Chesapeake Bay and other southern water-ways, but they also have a raw bar and a simple lunch counter serving up hot foods. Well, I sidled up to the raw bar — packed with working people simply gorging on oysters and clams and plastic cups of Natty Boh — and ordered myself a half dozen “Prime” oysters. The oyster man was astonishing; as fast and precise a shucker as I have ever witnessed even while keeping up a running commentary as to whether or not (based on his emotional speech at her funeral) Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston ever had sex (Yes! we raw bar denizens agreed). I was asked, as the plate of fat, shimmery bivalves appeared before me, if I wanted an egg with my oysters. An egg? Madness!!! Nope. Just hit me with some lemon and a touch of hot sauce and I am good. Well I slurped those six down and they were cold, briny, firm with a touch of cucumber snap that I just love. Ahhh…The joy of a good oyster. Well, as I let out a sated breath I glanced at my neighbor, who was there with his girl, drinking beers and preparing his oysters with a slice of hard-boiled egg!!! Yes! He had a hard-boiled egg slicer and was layering the egg slices on top of his oysters with horseradish and hot sauce. This guy looked like a serious Baltimorean, so I had to ask if the egg was the Baltimore style? Oh yes he said. So, I had to give it a shot — six more with a boiled egg. Well, they brought them over, I peeled the egg, used the slicer and got to work. My new friend guided me — “You got the horse radish first, then you got to hit it with the black pepper…yeah that’s it, don’t be scared of the black pepper! Then squeeze that lemon right on top and lay that egg right right up on there. Yeah! Hit it with the hot sauce now!” — and then I was ready.

Wow! Oh boy was this a good thing. Somehow, the smoothness of a boiled egg blends with the brine of the oyster and the bite of hose-radish to create something unique that doesn’t distract from the very oysterness of the experience. While I probably won’t be putting hard-boiled eggs on my beloved Prince Edward Island oysters, the whole experience, the specificity of the place, the very real connections that you can make with strangers when you express interest in a local specialty put a giant smile on my face and made those oysters amongst the most special I have ever eaten. Exquisite Maiko (very pregnant at this point and simmering with jealousy that she could not eat an oyster) took in some crab cakes from the counter and pronounced them unbeatable.

Faidley's Crab Cake

So, if you ever find yourself in Baltimore, ignore the Yelp and Google and Yahoo reviews that describe the Lexington Market as being scary and sketchy and filled with drug addicts and homeless people and march your way in and have a chilled Chesapeake Bay oyster topped with hard boiled egg on me. Thank me later and tell HG about it as soon as you can!

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