Against the grain on cuisine

Thank you for calling Rao’s in East Harlem. Currently reservations for the rest of 2017 and all of 2018 are closed. Thanks for calling……

Are you kidding me? You mean to tell me that a restaurant is booked for all of 2018? I mean I could probably get a table at Per Se or that Fish joint on 51st street if I asked nicely, aka….greased the reservation clerk. How in the world can a joint be booked? Welcome to New York and the “Who’s Who” of New York.  Now if you are scratching your heads wondering what I am talking about let me give you a back story.

According to their website Rao’s New York is a culinary national treasure. Widely acclaimed for its authentic, southern Neapolitan Italian cooking and its home-style family ambiance. Rao’s was honored with a Pinnacle Three Stars from New York Times Restaurant Critic Mimi Sheraton describing the cuisine as “exquisitely simple Italian cooking.”

The Joint opened in 1896 and is one of the countries oldest family owned and operated restaurant running in its original location. Handing down cherished Pellegrino and Rao Traditions as its main ingredients.

The list of regulars reads like the “who’s who” of New York cognoscenti, including Woody Allen, Billy Crystal, Rob Reiner, Nicholas Pileggi and Danny Aiello. Legions of politicians, sports figures and matinee idols have jockeyed for a reservation. There, dining at Rao’s is a legendary experience so beloved that getting a seat is only possible if you are a regular and have, “table rights,” or if you’re lucky enough to be invited as a guest by someone who does. In Las Vegas, you are lucky enough to be our guest. From our family to yours, we invite you to sit back and relax while filling yourself with more than food. Cheers!

Sorry I hate to cut and paste so much I didn’t’ want to miss anything. What all that means is what the title of this worthless dribble of a post says – You ain’t getting in there for dinner. That is what is so funny about this place. It is only open Monday through Friday and is closed on the weekends. Who does that? Who can not be open on the weekends and still stay in business? Obviously the Pellegrino family is doing something right.

Now there are those who have gotten tables there. My cousin posted that she had dinner in this 10 table shoebox and I would love to hear the story. Even one of my fellow tour bus ticket sellers has boasted a bet with one of my contemporaries. Yep Amanda Astoria has made it clear that she will get a table (remember – we go in half for a table and I got the wine bill) when she found out that her main squeeze Jimmy Fallon has dined in one of the famous booths.

The guest list of those who “own” tables is pretty remarkable and I won’t spread rumors since you can GTS (Google That Shit) on your own. So who wants to go have drinks at the bar and see if we can get a table?

IMG_0884As you can see the place is very small and quaint. There is only one ‘deuce’ and the rest are either booths or larger tables.

IMG_0886Prosciutto and Peas – This is the dish that Frank and Ina cooked on her show one day. I can’t think of a better marriage.

IMG_0887Frank Pellegrino standing outside his namesake. Sadly Frank passed away this year but the business still runs under family ownership.

IMG_2287Snapped a pic the day I was up in that part of the world. Trust me when I say it is small.

So Muphranks – When are we going?


PSA from CBT – New Year’s Day Food for the Residents of the Northeast

Well it finally happened today. Actually it happened yesterday but since today is New Years Eve we are busy heading down to Times Square. Why you ask? We are heading to get into one of the Corrals to watch the ball drop. Anyway on Friday I was sitting in my corner office overlooking Wall Street having a discussion with one of my fellow ticket sellers about what we were doing New Years eve. This other ticket seller was telling me that she was going to have a house party with her friends. Because I am a fat kid at heart we went over the menu that she was to serve. One of the dishes that she mentioned was “Pigs n the Blanket” and immediately my ears perked up.

I asked her if she was going to have any other ‘Southern Food’ but that was pretty much it. What she was missing on the menu were the staple dishes that are served by Proper Southerners on New Years day. I asked her if she was to have Black Eyed Peas, Cabbage, Greens and I get the blank “hamster is dead” look. I try to explain to my Northeast friend the importance of these staples on New Years day and it is not sinking in. *YO RZ aka Savanah Rae’s Momma  – What the hell did you do when you lived here? Do I have to educate all these Yankees on my own?*

I  get done with my explanation of these foods and my friend tells me that she is going to have grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato bisque. I asked if she was going to have Pimento Cheese as an option and you guessed it – Negative! I start to explain what Pimento Cheese is and she interrupts me saying she has seen it in the grocery store in Southern Jersey when she goes to the shore. I tell her that no self respecting southerner would ever serve store bought pimento cheese and get on the horn with Mrs. Trumpet. I ask Mrs. Trumpet to please send me Iuka Mississippi’s world famous Pimento Cheese recipe that we have. Like a good wife because she realizes that I am the boss of her, obliges.

Now I can’t bust TG’s chops too bad here, she isn’t the only one who has never heard of Pimento Cheese. My Tiffany’s Shopping buddy LZ also never heard of Pimento Cheese either. *Hey West Side Girl – You do have the UWS speaking southern right?* I forward the menu over to my New Jersey friend and inform her that this pimento cheese will be best if it sits overnight. I do hope that her guests enjoy some South in Yo Mouth courtesy of Ashley who hailed from Iuka Mississippi!!!!

dacusHey AB – We need to hang with you because I think that I have used this pic of you now 3 times.  Love ya and Happy New Year!

peas-and-ham-450x337Not so much the ham steak will be on our plate but you get the idea.

img_0120-1Kiss My Ass if you think I am going to post this full recipe! It is worth it’s weight in gold I tell you!

Happy New Year to all my friends!


Pictures of the Week on a Thursday

Here are pics from this past week in no particular order. Yes this is normally on Friday but I am moving up production a day earlier. Friday we are busy and there may not be a post.

img_0055There is where the Magic happens on the 3rd floor of the Time Warner Building

img_0046Ironically also on the 3rd floor of the Time Warner Building is Chef and Owner Masayoshi “Masa” Takayama’s Masa. This is considered the best Sushi in the world.

img_0049Cappuccino and Donuts and no this wasn’t from Duncan Donuts either.

img_0058Again, great evening spent with great friends. Apologies to the Lady Barrister who when I posted it to my Instagram page, it cropped her out. I since took it down after I realized my error.

img_0057“You know what I like to do? I like to go have an fine meal and then follow it up with drinking a bunch of Bud Lights!” Mr. 3 First Name

img_0005Who knew there was such a need and even a company here in NYC. I am told that some mannequins are worth over 10K

img_2222She survived her first semester of NYU and is hoping to get initiated in her sorority the first week back in the spring semester.

Have a good day!


Where Does A New Yorker Go To Watch The World Series?

*Fade In
Coleman Towner on First Avenue in the Upper East Side of Manhattan
Paul (Doorman and lifelong New York Mets Fan) – “So where you going Carbunkle and Mrs. Carbunkle?
CBT – “We are going to watch the World Series Paul.” *rolling a carry-on bag behind him
Paul – “Why the luggage and why are you leaving so early to go watch the World Series? The Game doesn’t start till 8PM.”
CBT – “Why Paul, we aren’t heading to Baker Street or Iggy’s Sports Bar, we are flying to Chicago this morning. I have waited for this day since 1984. I can’t not be there if the Cubs Win this thing.”
Paul – “Win it all! You know what they say that the best thing that came out of Cleveland was I-90!”

And with that our asses are heading to Chicago for Games 4 & 5 of the World Series. Now, cool your jets, we don’t have tickets (yet) we just have to be there. But before I get ahead of myself let me back up and give a proper back story.

Back when I was growing up on the mean streets of East Memphis I had to stay home during the summers. It was hell, I tell you. I had NO remote, my cable box was one of those slide things. *editor’s note – the dirty channels were on the far right* and during the day you had two choices for sports during the day. Turner Sports Network, you got to watch the Atlanta Braves or with WGN you had the Chicago Cubs. For some reason, I found myself watching the Cubs because (please understand I was 13 at the time) I loved watching and listening to some guys named Harry Carey and his sidekick Steve Stone.

ngbbs4a653d74de738For those who don’t know what I am talking about.

In 1984 I got my first chance to see Wrigley Field. They really should put holy water stoups by the gates when you walk into Wrigley. Yes, I am now typing in shorter sentences. I want you to understand something very serious. That is when you walk into Wrigley it really is a religious experience.  I was 14 years old and really didn’t understand the game but during the 7th inning stretch it happened. Harry Carrey came out of his booth and leaned over and sang “Take me out to the Ball game.” I recall thinking in my pubescent mind, other than I could almost see that woman’s boob a row in front of me, was that I have to follow these bastards. I respect that over half of my readers weren’t born in 1984 but it’s cool. I am 46 years old and tomorrow we are heading to Chicago to see a religious experience.

ec101fd5bb00e5f150b75ece46a47b03Hey Hey! Let me Hear You! A One, a Two, a Three….Take Me out to the Ballgame….

Now let’s talk about the lovable losers (I hate that term btw) that are Cubs fans. Ever since the invention of Social Media all Cubs fans can relate to each other. All it takes is a tweet, comment on Facebook, Instagram post that Cubs fans can say “hey, I never met them but they are ok, they love the Cubs. If I tried right now to list all of the Cubs fans that I have met on Social Media but not in real life…. that list would be large. Hell, I sold my effin Jeep to a guy that he and his wife named their first child Theo! By the way, they also will be in Chicago this weekend but have to leave before game 4 has its first pitch.

Ok, enough words. To the Cub Haters that I have known for many, many years – Next Year is here! It’s time to hoist a banner! 

img_2513Shout out to Baby Fine Hair, She sent this to me and I do appreciate it but I can’t wait to burn this fucker on First Ave after the Cubs win the World Series

But should the Cubs win out on Sunday, please don’t judge me if you see tears streaming down my face…. They won one for Harry, and Ernie, and Don, and many, many more. #FlytheW  

353785331_3ceecf2a86_bShout out to all you Cardinal Fans, let me know where I can watch your team in October…Oh wait….yeah that’s awkward! Can you tell me all about your pennants again.  Please I live in New York I could ask the same to the Yankee Fans…

curse-of-the-goat“Have I heard about the Goat?” The Goat Story. Fuck the Goat. I can go up 3 subway stops and have Goat in a Pita. We got this! John Adams, you got me! I can’t wait to hug your face when we got this!

harry-and-billDisclaimer – I didn’t know that Bill Murray, John Cusack and Vince Vaughn and others would bandstand on my glory. It’s ok boys we shall hoist a drink on Sunday.

ceannmivaaa5wb_Harry – “Way Back, It could, It would, It may….”
Steve Stone – “Pop out to Grace *first baseman* Hey Harry, have you had any cold Budweiser’s today?”
Harry – “Hey Hey!”

bathroom-troughtsBoys Bathroom inside the bowels of Wrigley. Who hasn’t released the Kracken?

Lets Go Cubs, Let’s Go!


Try the Tongue!

Back when I made my first visit to New York as an adult we were here to celebrate Mrs. Trumpet’s 30th birthday. On that visit we made a trip to the Carnegie Deli on 7th Avenue. I don’t remember much about that trip but I did remember when the Woody Allen sandwich came out and was placed on our table. Literally it was 2 full sandwiches and was piled high with Pastrami and Corned Beef. When we moved up here back in August the first thing we did was make sure we ate was at a proper Jewish Deli. Yes, I went with a  pastrami, salami, and corned beef sandwich. If you have never had one of these sandwiches then you really don’t know what you are missing. We have not eaten at Carnegie since it has reopened and will probably will wait till we have someone in town and need to play tour guide. I have tried a couple of joints up here so far; Ben’s, Pastrami Queen, Barney Greengrass, and right around the corner from is Second Avenue Deli. No we have not had Russ & Daughters or Katz’s and they are on the list so lay off Maria, I can see the finger poking :).

Saturday I was at the Cigar joint and one of the guys ordered a sandwich from 2nd Avenue and it looked damn good. The wife was heading back into town from a day trip to New Jersey and I was hungry so I swung by and picked up a sandwich. While I was there they gave me a couple samples of Pastrami and Corned Beef and I knew that I was in for a treat. I get the 3 pound sandwich and make my way home. Let me put this in words that you can understand. If I had a good Jewish deli in Memphis growing up and got introduced to pastrami and corned beef that is that good, I may have become a Jew. Right now RAB is snorting coffee  through her nose.

IMG_4385All the spreads and fish for the Bagels

IMG_4386I am sure this is healty

IMG_4389You have to have a Black and White Cookie

Oy Vey they serve some good food there and they don’t screw you on the half sour pickles.


Dining at Blue Hill at Stone Barns

“Do you guys want to go with some of the same Per Se group to eat at Blue Hill at Stone Barns?” was the question that one of the Murphranks asked us back in January. My first response was “hell no, I hear that Applebee’s is about to come out with their summer menu and I have to be the first on line to dine there!” Of course we are in! Now granted, I really didn’t know who, what,or even where Blue Hill was or why does it have a Stone Barn. Naturally I did a little GTS (Google That Shit) and found that Dan Barber, the mad scientist, pioneered the first “Farm to Fork” restaurant using sustainability and better dialogue with farmers. If you have not had a chance to watch the Netflix Chef’s Table Season 1 do yourself a favor and watch it. The dude is cutting edge, granted I bet he is not the greatest to work with but he gets the job done.

The back story about Dan Barber was that he opened up Blue Hill in the West Village and was trudging along like any new start up restaurant would. They said if they could break even the first year then it was a win. One particular Saturday morning Dan picked up 4 cases of fresh asparagus and was bringing them to the restaurant. He opened up the walk in fridge and found that he had an entire stack of Asparagus that was ordered undenounced to him and he frigging lost it. That night everything was going to be asparagus based. Asparagus Soup, Asparagus Appetizers, even Asparagus Ice Cream. This is probably where the front of the house started calling around to see if they could get on with another restaurant because normally chefs don’t go this cray-cray. Naturally as luck would have it, guess who decides to come in for dinner that night? The New York Times Food critic…..Well there was nothing they could do so they went along with the asparagus themed menu and the critic loved it. Boom!!!!! The start of Farm to Fork dining began and Dan Barber was at the helm.

So a couple of weeks back we head up to Tarrytown via Metro North with MC and let me tell you, the Hudson Valley is really beautiful in the spring. We get to “The Farm” and this isn’t like your normal farm. It was later that I found out that it is part of the Rockefeller land. We naturally under the expert guidance of Lady Lawyer and Homeless Tim we all agree on the grazing and pecking menu paired with wine (of course) and have a great time. I have to admit; I wasn’t sure what I was getting into with the ever changing menu  I dug it. Bonus also was that we find out that the dining room manager is a huge Elvis Fan.  I inquired when Tomato season was going to be and we will secure a table that night too.

13094106_10154148320699764_7437875963709209459_nWhy does all the fancy joints we go to have detailed menus? The Tavern doesn’t have a menu and they just as fancy.

13124688_10154148319944764_2333726738441885912_nDisplay of all the stuff that is available at current season

13100768_10154148318984764_306557371284769834_nThe Bread Room – This place does not play at all!

13092016_10154148320029764_4486770916974523826_nThis is their Grill/Smoker/outdoor play thing at Blue Hill

13062252_10154148320064764_6155295292157447343_nChargrilled Asparagus – And it was damned good too!

IMG_1114A little PDA during courses I see.

13076673_10154148318904764_6456046196893328_nYes this was taken in…..wait for it…. The Manure Room. By the way, it was bigger than our apartment too!

IMG_1116The Bar at Blue Hill – Very Impressive

dan_barber_portrait2The Mad Scientist himself – Dan Barber

Thanks for the invite Murphranks and TL. We are certainly in for the next gastro experiment!


File this away as “Oh Hell Naw, you didn’t!”

Sorry it is cropped, I am not that great at stealing pics off the internet

Ah, springtime in New York City. The days are getting longer, the cherry blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden are blossoming, and the disgusting subway perverts are emerging from the shadows to take stealth photos of your underwear. Greatest city in the world!

According to a new ad campaign from the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, the NYPD is cracking down on “upskirting” just in time for the weather to get warm enough to go tights-less. The D.A. has released a slew of ads meant to raise awareness about the creepy dudes in places like Union Square and Grand Central who sneakily take photos up women’s skirts. 

Photo: New York County District Attorney’s Office

Photo: New York County District Attorney’s Office

Photo: New York County District Attorney’s Office

Are shitting me? I was going to go with a post today about Greenwich Village but I had to fire up the Commodore 64 and bang this out this morning. I mean this bothers me on about 3 different levels;

  1. You mean to tell me that the District Attorney’s office of the state of New York has an ad campaign warning women about be on the lookout for perverts? Oh well I remember when Memphis had the “Say to No to just the tip” billboard campaign in Frasier about teenage pregnancy. Still this really is creepy.
  2. Ok, I get that you there is some woman who is going to wear a short skirt in the work environment but why in the hell do you disclose the areas that are prone to catch views of up skirts? Just put some extra police presence in those areas and catch the smart phone wielding perverts.
  3. You mean to tell me that if I encounter a dude with a camera on his shoe taking pics up a skirt I can’t “help him cross the street” into an oncoming cross town bus? And deep down I hope that ‘said’ bus backs up a couple times? (kind of a 180 from a guy who talked about Karma but it is after all election day)

So I guess I now have to add this to my list of ‘subway bingo’ that I play in my head on a daily basis. I recall way back in the day back when I was 5 foot 6 inches tall (still current height) and in the 7th grade. There was one of my classmates who would either ‘drop’ his  pencil on a daily basis or even went so far to put a mirror on his bluchers to sneak a peak of the girls in our class who were already onto him and wore shorts under their jumpers. (SDS, KCF, JSH you happen to remember who did it? I am down to one brain cell and can’t place him)

Anyway, if you encounter or see such a pervert, drop a dime on his ass. I mean what do you think the internet is for? No wonder Playboy and Penthouse are dying on vine, we got sick-o’s taking up skirt pics on the 4&5 Trains. In closing try to keep those Karma thoughts flowing (see what I did there KLC Man) and do what CBT did back in the day.

Back when I was working in Memphis my female counterpart or work wife’s desk faced mine in an office of 5 people. One day I guess she didn’t want to wear her yoga pants and her BBQ Fest t-shirt so she wore this V neck sweater wrap top that pretty much was designed for a flat chested female. During the course of the day things got a little loose up there and at one point I look up and she was showing some fairly significant cleavage. I get on my phone and text her “Hey Tits McGee, holster those things would ya? I appreciate it and all considering I haven’t seen a nipple in 3 years but if you don’t fix yourself I may break the streak!” *editor’s note – She was wearing a bra so it wouldn’t have gotten to that point. But for those of you who know the back story on the nipple with me you are probably rolling on the floor, for those who don’t just chalk it up to me not having enough coffee*

Have a good day folks and Happy NY Election Day!


Have you been to Zabars yet?

Yes I admit it openly, I have lived on this rock for 6 months and have yet to visit the Mecca on the Upper West Side. To be honest, we don’t get over to the Upper West Side that much. Now before my three readers start giving me shit because I am being an Upper East Side snob let me clear the air. To go crosstown (East to West and visa versa) when you have the park to transgress, it is a bitch. Zero subways go that way so you have to do it either on foot or crosstown bus and the traffic is epic. So when you find yourself on the West Side, like I did yesterday after visiting the doctor, you go exploring.

One joint that I had not been and had been told numerous times to visit was the World Famous Zabars Grocery store. Zabars is one of those New York institutions that has been going strong for 80+ years and is being run by a third generation of Zabar. Upon walking into the city block long grocery store this joint pretty much has everything that you need and were afraid to ask. The Cheese counter is a monster, the caviar counter (yes I said caviar) has everything you can afford and the smoked fish station is mind blowing. But wait, when you go upstairs they have an entire kitchen supply store that makes any kitchen gadget lover harder than a diamond in an ice storm. Seriously, I could spend hours in this joint and may do so if we do get that foot of snow that all of the weathermen have been talking about.

IMG_0337This joker is seriously a whole city block long. It started out as a corner store and they expanded, and expanded and then went vertical.

IMG_0338Here is one half of the Cheese Counter

IMG_0339Here is the other half, anyone ever heard of creamy dolce gorgonzola? They have it at $13.98 a pound

IMG_0343Here is proof that I need to win the lottery so I can play with some these people up here.

IMG_0345Going to have to try our Russ & Daughters to see their smoked fish selection but this is pretty impressive

IMG_0344In Memphis they have Canola, Vegetable, Mazola, Corn and Olive Oil. Here they have 100 different offerings of Olive Oil

IMG_0340Went upstairs and if you need a different color of Italian coffee pot, Zabars is your place.

IMG_0341I mean who keeps that kind of inventory of Le Creuset pots?

IMG_0342Now here is where I am going to fight with the Zabars. See that small Weber hibachi grill? I didn’t snap a picture of the price tag but they want $44.98 for that sucker! I think that you can get a full size kettle grill for $99.00 bucks. Naturally finding a place for this sucker on the Upper East Side is a bitch but its the principle that counts.

IMG_0347My big purchase at Zabars….we found out that we didn’t have any chopsticks and ate our sushi to celebrate the Chinese New Year with forks. Forks I tell you! Oh the Humanity!

So, I guess next on the list for gourmet grocery stores is Agata & Valentia and then Citarella Gourmet Market. Oh it was announced that Carnegie Deli reopened after being shut down since April so we may head there too!



What’s the name of the butter again?

Remember that post a while back when I said that this blog isn’t a food Blog when we dined at that French seafood joint? Well we did it again! No we didn’t dine at Le Bernardin, we went big balls and dined at Per Se. We were invited to dine with a group  of friends who had a standing reservation the last Saturday before Christmas and this year were celebrating their 8th year of doing so. For those of you scratching your head wondering what is Per Se, it is the top, it is the summit, it another 3 star Michelin rated restaurant owned by Thomas Keller. Keller owns a another famous joint over on the left coast called French Laundry, you may have heard about it. Still got nothing? Let me put it into words you can understand, after dining there last night, if the grim reaper, no not the skydiving guy from California, the actual angel of death were to come up and tap me on the shoulder, I am ok with that.

My fellow foodie who dresses up her cat told me that I had to be better in describing the dishes and I plan on scanning the menu and wine paring and sending to her but for me to describe the 11 courses we at last night? Forget about it! This place is insane for foodie fans, I mean they name the freaking butter! The butter is churned specifically for Per Se on a farm outside of New York and they have names for the cows for Christ sake!  Seriously, Per Se is one of the top 5 restaurants in the world and I am very appreciate of Mr. 3 First Names and his Lady Barrister friend for the invitation.

IMG_9972I am sure she is cussing me and putting on a different outfit for her cat right now.


Good Looking Group! We had a blast!


You got to love a joint that has their own Duck Press!


Sober as New Orleans’s Supreme Court Judges


They say that one can measure your wealth by the number of great friends you have. Mrs. Trumpet and I are some rich SOB’s!

Thanks to DS, JAM and Tim for the invite and we hope to make the cut next year!


The Best Music in NYC for a $2.75 Cover Charge

You hear it just about every time you swing past the turnstile heading into the bowels of NYC. No it isn’t the sound of rats being run over by the Express train, it is music. Sometimes it is a simple person playing a flute, or violin, or some western musical instrument, hell I have seen a kazoo player down there. When I was with one of the tourist bus sales reps we made a trip to the upper West Side (Seinfeld territory) which is one area that I am not that familiar with. We were heading down the 8th street and W45th street station and I stopped and said that I heard some Reverend Al Green. He couldn’t believe I knew who it was then he later gave me mad props when I told him I knew about Yo Gotti. His comment about the band playing ‘Let’s stay together’ was one that I will never forget; “The Best music you will ever hear for a $2.75 cover charge.”
On my daily commute to work, I have to transfer at Grand Central Station and there is young lady who plays the violin. I am normally in a hurry but she always is smiling and happy and that puts me back in perspective and in a happy mood. I throw in a buck every couple of days into her case and she always says thank you to me.
Earlier this fall, I went out to Queens for a job interview. As I was returning back to the UES, a group of Mexican Mariachi players popped onto my subway car and put out a jam. Did I recognize the song…no, did I appreciate the gesture and gave them a couple of bucks….sure did. I know that this breaks my strict “don’t give people money” but in my opinion, they are providing a service.  Who knows the next time you see them they could be headlining at a Music Festival or picked up by Flowered Man Bag Productions.

Here is my violin player as I head to the 7 Train. If I try to stop and take a picture of her head on, I will get run over by the throngs of people behind me.


Not Sure what this damned thing is but it sounds kinda cool.


You boys know “Bamboleo” by the Gypsy Kings?


Not sure of the name but they WERE LOUD!


Dude is a Musical Legend!

Mexican band

These guys were pretty good and also VERY LOUD!


Who doesn’t love a drum line?

Have a good weekend and RMT, there will be a post on Monday.