November 2006

All You Can Eat NYC took this week off to celebrate the best holiday of the year. I was going to leave this space blank, but on second thought, that would be a pretty conspicuous absence. Thanksgiving is the one nationally observed feast day we have in the U.S. and that makes it extra special and worthy of note. And since we’re in the business of noting these sorts of things, the crew prepared some food for thought for you on this grand holiday week. I hope you enjoy it despite our departure from strictly New York City environs.

First up is a little (well, maybe medium-sized) bit of journal muck that I wrote this week, reflecting on why I love this day so. Second is an oldie but goodie from Saucy Kate who loves dessert but especially loves it when made by mom. Her essay includes the highly valued recipe for the trifle she writes so eloquently about.

I know some of you may still be celebrating Thanksgiving, or wishing you were, so please dive in to these and post your own favorite Thanksgiving stories, from this or any other year.


FOAF-Omelettes2Friend of a Farmer
77 Irving Place
(betw’n 18th and 19th Streets)
Gramercy Park
(212) 477-2188



The city is as brutal as it is beautiful.

They say that New Yorkers are resilient but they rarely describe what it is that we withstand; New York’s friendliness, camaraderie, and excitement are countered by its hard edges, the paradoxical isolation, the struggle to keep our heads above water. It’s easy, and common, to imagine an easier pace of life elsewhere, either in our memories or our imagination.

The battle weariness that comes from life in this odd and thrilling and ridiculous place is offset by the fun and the daily chores, but on that particular day the cold just made it all impossible to ignore. Eating breakfast is a great way to answer that, so there we were, in the back of Friend of a Farmer near the fireplace, where life slows to a manageable crawl.

Friend of a Farmer is designed to recall what a country inn is supposed to look like, which accounts for the long lines outside. It also accounts for a common refrain among the restaurant’s many detractors: that the décor is kitschy faux-cozy. But those people are wrong, and probably not from New England. [Full Disclosure: I am.] The dining room with its bell jars and dark wood is actually right on, contrary to popular belief, and could easily be in Portsmouth or Bangor or Brattleboro. This makes for a unique experience in its simplicity; and the fact that they also bring you dependable, perfectly made food while you slough off your day sure helps.


ABistro-JennaA Bistro
154 Carlton Avenue
(btw’n Myrtle and Willoughby Avenues)
Fort Greene
(718) 855-9455



As old as New York is, it refreshes itself every day. No matter how long you’ve lived on that street, something will surprise you today — that’s a promise. And that’s why perfect, cool, sunny New York afternoons are made for walking.

Fort Greene was abuzz with discovery a few weeks ago when construction workers digging a new sewer line on Vanderbilt Avenue pulled a remarkable boulder out of the ground. Not only was it huge but it was somehow otherwise alluring — enough to inspire a local resident to call the Environmental Protection Agency to see if they could prevent it from being hauled off to the dump.

When a geologist arrived on the scene to chip off a small piece, he confirmed the neighborhood’s suspicions: their rock was awesome, a 400,000,000-year-old gift from Wyoming via the last glacier to crash through this area.

So new discoveries are often simply old yet previously invisible, which is just fine, especially if it involves something to eat. While the rock was certainly inedible we still had plenty more neighborhood to explore.


Tribeca-Light Tribeca Grill
375 Greenwich St.
(at the corner of Franklin St)
(212) 941-3900




When New York was young it was an engine and each neighborhood did its part to keep it running. Its fuel was the constant stream of goods from all over the world, arriving on ships in the excellent harbor to supply the growing millions. The middle step between the ships and the dinner tables was the little triangle-shaped parcel of land below Canal Street that we call Tribeca today.

The Washington Market sprawled along the river and the streets around it bustled with the secondary needs of industry — the warehouses, icehouses, mills, and food companies. Restaurateurs and regular New Yorkers wound through those narrow, cobbled streets to haggle and forage and prepare for each busy day of keeping everyone alive, and the whole neighborhood became known simply as “the market.” That was its purpose.

Everything always in flux, years tumble away and the city relentlessly reincarnates — some cities can’t weather the change that basic evolution brings but New York is always, sometimes defiantly, New York. Tribeca is very different now, but any evening’s walk to the Tribeca Grill, passing the loading docks where horse-drawn carriages once lined up to unload their wares and the steel awnings that once kept the rain off the piles of grain, reveals that this neighborhood, brand new and steeped in history, still speaks to the nature of the city — an eternal, clockwork system of business and life.