Tag Archives: new york city

7-course apology

Vandaag, The Actress

Dear Reader,

It’s not often that I’m wrong. Truly, I can’t recall the last time, oh, dear, now I remember. The year was 19_ and my husband’s hirsute assistant, Francis, had made it big in Hollywood. He was directing the third installment of his Italian, red-sauce drama, The Grandfather.  Frankly, I failed to see what all the fuss was about.  Really, an Oscar for best adapted screenplay, for what should’ve been called best adapted Montessori classroom role call.  “Barzini is dead. So is Phillip Tattaglia. Moe Greene. Stracci. Cuneo.”  Heavens, this is one Alfredo away from being a Mama Leone’s menu.

Anyway, Francis was desperately searching for a new actress and since I was already cast in Home Alone,  I suggested his young, pudgy, pre-rhinoplasty daughter. He thought the idea brilliant. Well, no one told me they planned to film with her real nose! Had I known, I would never have suggested her. No wonder it was a flop.

All this to say that I was wrong about my initial review of  Vandaag, which was hardly generous. Prompted by a few, as the Kid says “haters,” I decided to give it another try and found the food delicate, refined, and delicious. Food fit for a lady.. Unlike most unrefined restaurants where the waiter asks the lady what she wants instead of asking the man what the lady will have, Vandaag didn’t even ask, instead, the chef chose for me. 7 courses were brought out by a model turned waiter who described the food as if reciting poetry. I admit my manners were atrocious as I slurped down the oyster course, attacked the blood sausage like a fork wielding savage and  ate every last bite, even the bitterballen.

But, dear reader, I write this review with a heavy heart as Vandaag has shuttered its East Village location for good. But be sure to look out for the sequel, Vandaag part III in Brooklyn.

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A pig and a lady walk into a bar…

Momofuku Ssam Bar

By THE ACTRESS

I have no idea what came over me, but I recently invited my next door neighbor Maria Castelli out for tea.  I guess I just felt sorry for her – the lonely, lump of a woman – and I honestly thought she’d decline, as our date would interrupt her steady diet of game shows.  Seemed safe, but alas, she accepted.  What if a casting director saw the two of us together?  What would he think of me?  Sheer lunacy.  Then again, being with her can only make me look better, I suppose.

Anyway…what a trial!  I’d insisted on hiring a taxi, which is really the only sanitary way to get around in this filth pit of a city.  But, Maria – surprisingly stingy for such a cheery person – made some remark about “wasting taxpayer money,” and the next thing I know, I’ve been duped into boarding the subway.  I’ll spare you the gruesome details of that episode, even as they continue to haunt me.

I had planned on getting tea at the museum, but thanks to our subterranean misadventure, we soon found ourselves surrounded by the unwashed in the East Village.  Exhausted, we stopped at the first even remotely reputable-looking place we could find with an empty seat, which lead us to momofuku ssäm bar.  We were sat at a long, sleek bar, as the restaurant crackled with lively conversation over plates of whole roasted pig..  Alas, the menu was replete with dishes featuring suckling pig and duck, more fit for an Asian lumberjack than a couple of ladies like ourselves.  Or at least a lady like me, as Maria is built like a log cabin.

But yes, she ordered duck soup and a duck bun.  “Nothing like eating in the barnyard at 1pm!” I sighed,  as Maria just slurped  and   burped her way through her meal, blithely, without a care in the world.  I thought the poor sow was going to bloat and explode and have her blood used to make some sort of stock.  I admit I did try some of her duck soup, which looked unappetizing with bits of duck and bright green vegetables bobbing up and down in a brackish, brown liquid, yet I was surprised by its refined and delicate  flavors.  But, I simply couldn’t try any more…my agent insists I need to watch my figure if I’m going to win the Oscar over Ava Gardner, that whore.

My advice for momofuku ssäm bar: go with a fatty and catch a spoonful of their run-off, or else the Oscar goes to…someone else.

Momofuku Ssam Bar / 207 2nd avenue, new york, ny 10003 corner of 13th street and 2nd avenue

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VANDAAG

by THE ACTRESS

When my friend first suggested “Van Dog” I was horrified. Who eats Dutch-Chinese food?  She assured me there would be no actual Dutch people at the restaurant, so I agreed to meet her for dinner.   I arrived two hours late because I just couldn’t choose between my mink and sable coat.  Not that it mattered because the place was emptier than Debbie Reynold’s bedroom after she introduced Eddy to Elizabeth Taylor.

I stepped through the doors wearing the sable, wrong choice. The glorified peasant interior and scrap metal light fixtures clearly called for mink. How dare this establishment expect a woman of my standing to eat elbow to elbow with beer swilling, bearded strangers on bare wooden tables, for shame!  People pay to eat like this? My dining companion assured me this was fine dining.  If you say so! In my day, if a man took you to this type of establishment then he was paying YOU at the end of the night.

The menu was confusing and pretentious. How many adjectives does it take to describe a pickle? Well, at Van Dog it take 16.  Years of dining at the finest establishments (oh, whisk me back to Sardis!) taught me never to order any dish with more than three adjectives, two nouns, and one verb.  This limited me to ordering the pickle plate, sausages, and something called Bitterballen.

The pickle plate arrived in a dented tin bucket. My sausages sat atop a plate with a design of two mice fornicating. One was dressed as Cher and the other held a whip. How am I supposed to eat off this?

Did the food taste good? Who cares! Really, one doesn’t go out for the food. The point of dining out is to be seen and served by overly solicitous staff. My waitress, Justine, looked fresh off the boat from Poland. She’s as much Dutch as I am Chinese. I expect authenticity, damn it. Justine had fine hands and the constitution of a scullery maid.

The meal ended when I dropped a sausage in my lap and decided to call it a night.  Driver!  Bring the Bitterballen around!

Vandaag, 103 2nd Avenue, New York, NY

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