I find my Cuban spot

My Cuban Spot

Louie Estrada’s Cuban spot is now mine, too

What does it take to rouse this blog from its slumbers? What it takes, evidently,  is a jolt of sugar and caffeine, followed by a sharp slash of yellow mustard. Sour orange juice, garlic, salt and pork help, too.

Which is to say . . . I had lunch at this counter in Gowanus, and just had to write about it. My initial plan was to include it in my annual NYC marathon course round-up (yes, installment #3 will be arriving soon), but (a) My Cuban Spot is closed on Sundays and (b) it really deserves its own post. Continue reading

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Eating Nostrand Avenue: Taste the Tropics

imageSunny and 63 degrees in the second week of February! On the last such frighteningly unseasonable day, a few weeks ago, I arranged my tempo run (expect a Boston marathon training post soon) so that my cool down would end right around Nostrand and Avenue D. That’s where Taste the Tropics dominates its corner through sheer exuberance and force of personality. Continue reading

Eating Nostrand Avenue: Ital Fusion

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Food for the long haul

With each desperate dispatch from Aleppo; with each revelation about Russian interference in November’s election; with each ethical breach by the Grifter-in-Chief and his progeny; with each horrifying cabinet appointment – the temptation to curl up in a ball grows. Some days, it’s overwhelming.

What helps?

Activism, I would say. Coming together as a community. Supporting one another. Fighting back. (And, for Syria, checks to Doctors Without Borders, the International Rescue Committee and the UNRWA.)

I list those things first, because I honestly believe them to be the most important . . . but also, if I’m to be even more honest, because they sound like the sort of thing one should believe to be most important.

Here, at the risk of sounding trivial, are other things that help:

Running.

Looking at birds.

Eating soulful, home-style cooking.

Which brings us to Ital Fusion. Continue reading

Watching the NYC marathon in Brooklyn – 2016 edition

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“What’s good?” – this post tries to answer that

Less than three weeks until race day on November 6!

If you’re running, this is high-anxiety time, when every training sin (workouts missed, long runs bailed on) comes back to haunt you; when thoughts of everything that could possibly go wrong run through your mind in a continuous loop (you fall off a stool while reaching for a high shelf and twist your ankle, you miss a connecting flight and are stranded in Atlanta, you contract food poisoning the night before the race); when your interpersonal relationships are strained by this obsession of yours that no one who’s not running quite understands.

But if you’re spectating along the course, as I will be this year, this is a fun time. Instead of visualizing the long climb up the Queensboro Bridge, you can visualize brunch spots; instead of obsessing over those twinges in your left calf, you can obsess over finding the best tacos in Sunset Park; instead of planning your best race, you can plan your best race day.

Last year’s guide was pretty popular, and I’ve gone through and made some quick updates and corrections to keep it useful for 2016. But because it was so much fun to do the research, I’ve been back out there running the marathon’s route through Brooklyn (in nice, manageable segments). In the process, I’ve found a whole bunch of additional places worth checking out.

So, here it is – the all-new 2016 edition of one Brooklyn runner’s totally idiosyncratic guide to where to eat, and what to do, along the NYC marathon course.  Continue reading

Late summer birding update: bird and food pairings

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Pairs well with cafe bombon. (Photo credit: Gus Keri)

I’m all too aware that many of the folks who enjoy my posts on running or food (or both – there’s a substantial overlap between the two) are less than enamored with my birding updates. Try as I might to spread the love I feel for skulking sparrows and soaring seabirds, it’s proving to be a hard sell.

But, you know, I started this 200 Bird Challenge, and I’m going to finish it. With the better part of four months yet to go, and fall migration just beginning, you can count on more birding posts to come.

Sorry about that.

But birders, like runners, need to eat. And so I’m adopting a new approach in this update; if it’s popular, I may extend it to future updates as well. Besides tallying up birds and doing my best to describe them – their beauty, their peculiarities, the threats they face, why non-birders should care about them – I’ll try to couple each sighting with a food review from the same outing. Continue reading

Eating Avenue U: Quick bites (and bobolinks)

IMG_4286One downside of less time spent birding is less time spent exploring neighborhoods adjacent to birdy areas. Add to that the construction-related closure of the Avenue U station on the Coney Island-bound F train, and my effort to eat my way up and down Avenue U, from Gravesend to Marine Park, has slowed considerably.

Reports of bobolinks at the Salt Marsh Nature Center sent me back to the neighborhood recently. And because birding requires sustenance, I worked in a few quick food stops.  Continue reading

A Queens interlude

IMG_4235Although I’ve categorized this post under “Seen on the run,” that’s not entirely accurate. My number one training goal for this month is to avoid heat stroke, and so my trek to Astoria last week to see the Welling Court murals was accomplished via N train and a slow, shuffling walk down 30th avenue. (Truth be told,”slow” and “shuffling” are also pretty good descriptions of my running these days.)

The plan – to the extent I had one – was to see the murals; try the falafel and shawarma at King of Falafel and Shawarma (henceforth, “KOFAS” or simply “the King”); and use my NYC ID to sign up for membership at the Museum of the Moving Image. If I stumbled across some other interesting stuff along the way, so much the better. Continue reading