the Second Post about New York Food in My Belly

January 7, 2009 by

by Brian Dooley

Timeliness is important in a blog. That’s why I waited a week to write about the second half of my NYC eating adventures.

Brooklyn Pizza – Foldable Pizza. It was okay, but it tasted like Chef Boyardee sauce. Worth the 3 dollars? Probably.

Mr. Tang’s in Chinatown – Great Chinese place. I wanted to go to a place with chickens and ducks hung in the windows, but cooler heads prevailed, and we went to Mr. Tangs. This was the best service we got in New York City. I’m pretty sure we had 5 waiters at any given time. Mark ordered some kind of Spicy Crab Pot. He said it was not spicy. My small taste of it had me concurring. It was good…just not spicy. Shannon had the Crab and Noodles. It was very much like some crab and some vegetables and some lo mein. I didn’t get to try Gaby’s General Tso’s Chicken, as she was waaay on the other side of the round table, but it looked pretty good. the kids had Sweet and Sour chicken, because they’re adventurous and love to try new and exciting dishes. I tried some, and it really was great S&S Chicken. Maybe the batter, or maybe the sauce, but I wish I had it for a snack here back home. Finally, I had Braised Duck with Black Mushrooms. It was by far the best dish at the table. Served with the greenest, freshest tasting broccoli I’ve had in some time, the glistening sauce over the top of my large portion had me wanting to eat it all, cookie monster style. since I am the only one in the family that eats mushrooms, however, I didn’t have to fear for the safety of my dish, and I was able to keep myself collected enough to eat at a lesiurely pace. the pieces of duck were melting in my mouth. Just the right amount of fattiness, just this side of greasy. The mushrooms were reall just an added bonus. I was using them to help me pace myself on the bird. after the meal, we were presented with hot towels all around, a plate of orange slices, and fortune cookies. Great atmosphere, great service, great food, and a great time. Highly recommended.

When we got home, seriously just one hour later, we had to eat pork and sauerkraut with potatoes, as is Shannon’s family tradition. due to budgetary constraints, we had powdered potatoes and store brand sauerkraut, both of which were passable. the true letdown of the (completely superfluous) meal was the Polish Sausage. We got the “Light” version because it made sense, as there are wieght limits on bridges and we’d been eating constantly all week. I’m not sure what kind of bits of plastic or styrofoam they put in the sausage to make it “Light,” but I am sure that I won’t be doing that again. But, all the prerequisites for a good new year were met, so there’s that.

On our last day in town, Mark and Gaby treated us to a place called John’s Pizzeria on Broadway, off of Times Square. being Friday Night, it was packed, even with our Midwestern early eating habits. “Gypsy” had just let out next door, so there was some of that crowd, and I think some of the performers as well. we got a big booth against the big mural back wall, and waited for our server. When he finally came, he asked us if we were ready, and luckily, we were. I gt the feeling that this place didn’t care too much about hiring waitstaff who gave a crap. Luckily, the pizza came before our waters ran out. And it was everything that the inside cover of the menu said it would be. Great fresh flavor on hand-tossed crust. We had a pepperoni and a bianca, both of which were phenominal. I only wish there had been more to love.

side note: as we were finishing, Michael Rapaport and Nick Turturro and some other people I assume to be their kids and family sat down at the table behind us. If either of them are reading this blog, I want to let them know that they were noticed, and that I really did want to get a picture with them, but I didn’t want to interrupt what was obviously a low-key evening. The inner struggle that I have faced over the past week has been intense. Is it insulting to not let an artist know that you recognize them and their accomplishments, or is it uncouth to bother a celebrity when they are wearing a civilian hat? In any case, keep up the good work.

When we left, we went up the street to an italian bakery and had some cannollis (cannolli?). They were delicious, and I wish I knew the name of the place.

This concludes my Eating in New York.

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Going to the American Girl Store in New York

January 6, 2009 by


by Isabella Burgdorf

I went to the American Girl Store. With my mom, brother, my step dad, my Uncle, and my Uncle’s girlfriend. We were looking for an American Girl for me.

There were all kinds of different dolls and all different names for them and the American Girl doll I picked was Kit Kittredge. I got her accessories and her dog Grace.

And my Uncle’s girlfriend has an American Girl doll, too and her name is Molly and she got her, her school dress, and her school bookbag.

I Think Missouri is Better Than New York

January 5, 2009 by


by Isabella Burgdorf

I think Missouri is better than New York because I have to walk every day. And I have to walk where I want to eat. And then the place is far away, my feet hurt. It hurts because I’m walking weird. On my heels. And on TV 52 is Disney Channel in Missouri and 52 is something else in New York.

Saturday 23, 2008

January 5, 2009 by

by Isabella Burgdorf

Today when I got up I kept getting up and getting up because I was cold and my blankets were not on me so I got very very cold. After I got up the last time I got out of my bed and went into my brothers’ room and saw what they were doing.

My step dad was cleaning out the turtles’ tank. After he cleaned it he was getting some more water for the tank and my step brother was doing jokes and one said “Have you ever been bit by an animal” and it said this “[ ]No” and “[ ]Yes” and the check said “[x]Yes” and I’ve been bitten by a dog and I said that dog was mean.

And then my brother said he’s been bitten by a hamster, my hamster, and he said that my hamster was stupid and I hit him in the face.

I got in trouble and got sent up to my room.

Central Puke: Getting sick in NYC

January 5, 2009 by

by Gavyn Hagan

While I was in NYC I got sick and this is the story about that.

Me, my family, and my Uncle Mark were all walking all day long around the big city and that morning I got sick.

So, as you can imagine, being sick in a subway going to Manhattan waiting for 1/2 an hour is tough. For me, it was too tough. On the stop right before ours, I had thrown up on a subway because I couldn’t hold my puke in too long and I threw up on a man talking about money to a woman.

We got off at that stop to clean me up. So then, I lost my scarf and my mom lost her gloves because I was wearing them.

Then we had to walk 24 blocks to get to the place we needed to get to and we stopped at some Macy’s windows to look at them and my mom thanked me for throwing up on the subway because then we wouldn’t have been able to see the Macy’s windows.

Then ncle Mark called a taxi because he didn’t want to walk anymore and we were supposed to go to Central Park but instead we went to 99 Miles to Philly, then home because I didn’t feel good.

The Christmas of 2008

January 5, 2009 by

by Gavyn Hagan

This Christmas I got to be with kinda everybody. My two uncles, my aunt, my grandma and pa, my cousin, my sis, my two dads, my mom, my dog, my brother, my turtles, and my uncle robert’s parents.

I got to have fun with everyone this Christmas, and I’ll tell you some things I got. I got an iPod, DS Games, a Superman sound book, a Wii, a watch, and lots more, but most important I got to spend time with my family this Christmas.

This Christmas was best because I got to spend it with all my family. I went to see my uncle and his girlfriend Gaby and they live in NYC. We were staying there for a week so I had a lot of things to do.

While I was there, I went to a church and I went to the biggest most spaced out library I’ve ever seen. We went to F.A.O. Schwartz, the mall, and saw nutcracker figures made out of 150,000 jellybeans that cost $30,000. I got to see in the same exact mall on the 2nd floor a Lego Hagrid, Harry, Hermione, and Ron from Haryy Potter, a Lego Batman, and a Lego Chewbacca, all lifesize and Dooley told me somebody was working on a lifesize house that the creator was going to live in.

Way after that I met my mom’s grandma and poured my mom’s dad’s ashes on his grandparent’s graves. Then my uncle left because we were in Pennsylvania and he had to go back to Brooklyn, NY. Then the family came home on 1/4/09.

New Years Eve, 2008 – New York City

December 31, 2008 by

by Brian Dooley

Today’s been a slow one on the Family Read Takes Manhattan vacation tour. Yesterday, Gavyn took ill with some kind of stomach bug, so we cut out our trip to Central Park and made it an early night. This morning, Bella woke up with the same problem, so we decided to stay in the apartment.

It snowed for a little bit. And I went out and got some New York style pizza from Brooklyn Pizza. It was good, but it would have been more fun with everybody. We watched Elf twice on USA Network, and then Enchanted. Now we’re watching the Disney Channel Totally New Year Countdown to 2009.

So far, New York has been amazing. We haven’t been able to do everything we’ve wanted, mainly because of the sheer number of people that are here at the end of the year, but even that is kind of amazing. It’s like walking around in the first 5 rows of a concert, all the time.

Adventures so far…

  1. I was trying to grab Shannon’s waistband while walking through a crush of people up to Rockefeller center, and an old lady slapped my arm. “No, you don’t!” she scolded me, as I assured her that we were together. She thought I was trying to pick Shannon’s pocket, and wasn’t gonna let it happen on her watch. It was heartening to think that even in the busiest city, at the busiest time, some amount of goodness will shine through in people.
  2. I went out to grab a slice of pizza last night after getting home here in Flatbush. The elevator was busted, so I walked downstairs, and there was a lady with a baby carriage standing by the lobby lift. I offered to help her, and we got the baby halfway upstairs before we heard the telltale clacking and banging of a functioning elevator. Good deed for the day, check.
  3. The pizza place wasn’t open, and on my way back to the apartment, I saw some cops that were just finishing up pulling some guy over. I stopped them and asked for a picture because, NYPD, right?
    “Excuse me, officers?”
    “Yeah, whaddaya want?”
    “Um, I’m a tourist, and…”
    “Yeah, we can tell.”
    “Oh, sorry.”
    “That’s okay. It’s just a dangerous neighborhood. What do you need?”
    “Well, I was wondering if I could get a picture of you?”
    “You serious?”
    “Yeah, if it’s okay…?”
    “Yeah, that’s great. Man, I never… maybe in Manhattan, but this is a bad place to be. Go ahead”
    *click* “Thanks!”
    “No problem. You stay around here? You should get home. This is a bad neighborhood. [to other cop as they get in the car] Man, can you believe that? Never in my life! You?”

I’m not sure if there’s a moral to that story, but the cops seemed happy, and I got a picture. I also felt scared for the first time as I walked the next few blocks home. Nothing happened, but that cop had really hammered home the idea that what was a regular pedestrian thoroughfare just a few second before had become a Hogan’s alley den of crime, awaiting a Batman to clean it up.

Anyway, tomorrow, we are scheduled to eat some food in Chinatown, and I think something else tomorrow evening. The next day, Steven is coming in from Albany, and I’m really excited to spend the day in Midtown with him. We’re also gonna go on a tour of the Intrepid, go to the American Girl Place, and maybe some other stuff that eludes me for the moment.

But now, for the rest of 2008, I’m sitting on a couch in an apartment in Flatbush in Brooklyn in New York City, watching a movie about a dog named after a grocery store. We’re all pretty tired, and about 50% of us are sick at any given moment, but we’re together, and we’ll ring in the New Year that way.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Your Guide to My Eating in New York City

December 30, 2008 by


by Brian Dooley

In planning this winter vacation, Eating in New York City is one of the things that I most looked forward to. The number of different available cuisines alone is astounding. When we first arrived in Brooklyn, I was ready for anything! Street Pizza, a street Hot Dog, street Chinese Food, street Greek, etc.

Everyone was tired and we hadn’t eaten since morning. It seemed something of a crime, but it was unavoidable to soothe the grumbling masses, and what we did instead was go to the Burger King on Flatbush. It was much like the MadTV clip. Except the Burger King in Flatbush is ALWAYS packed. it’s astounding, though, because after being made to feel guilty for ordering, I got home with my food, and realized that Burger King is not as good as I wanted it to be. I had a Double Patty something or other, but it was not a Whopper. It was more of a Whimper with cheese. Being a glutton, I was offended and hurt. But I toughed it out, knowing that Burger King would not be the apex of my culinary exploits in this fine burg.

The next day, we were hungry at the South Street Pier. This was also a little disappointing to me, as I am looking for an authentic New York experience, and we seemed to be in a boat-themed mall. We went to Nathan’s Hot Dogs. This was a compromise for me. I know it’s a chain, but it seems to be a predominantly Northeastern chain. I decided to just eat one dog, and save room for later. Man, I wish I had gotten like ten of those things, with chili and cheese. After dealing with curt service (mainly, I think, due to a large quantity of curt customers), and finding a seat at a table, I had one of the best dogs ever. Their giant crinkle fries are also outstanding, and according to the signage, fresh made. Definitely a good choice, and I look forward to maybe hitting it again in a rest stop on the Penna Turnpike on the way home.

Later, we ate some ice cream (yogurt?) at Tasti D-Lite. I don’t know which frozen treat it was, and nothing in my 30 seconds of research gives me any definitive answers.It doesn’t matter, though. It was great. They didn’t have the seasonal Gingerbread Spice flavor, so I ordered Chocolate Macaroon. If I did not know what a chocolate macaroon was beforehand, I definitely would have afterwards. Much like Jelly Belly jelly beans, and Willy Wonka’s amazing bubble gum before that, I could taste everything. chocolate, coconut, cookie, everything. They gave perfect portions, too. Not too small, but also not embarrassingly big. Other flavors sampled: French Vanilla, Strawberry, and Cookies & Cream. all very satisfying.

That night, Mark and Gaby took us to the East Village to a middle eastern place called the Khyber Pass. The one server in the building seemed a bit taken aback by the six of us showing up with two kids, and after getting ourselves settled in a sit-on-pillows-at-a-low-table table by the window, it took a while before we saw anyone. The grownups decided to share a bottle of cotes-du-Rhone, and the kids were treated with Sprite. We ordered some hummus for an app, and tried to decide on entrees for the next 15-20 minutes. Eventually, the server showed up with our app and took our orders. Had she stopped by beforehand, perhaps we could have asked for some suggestions, but as it was, we fended for ourselves.

Shannon got what amounted to a steak kebab. Gaby got a pumpkin soup dish. Mark and I both ordered cornish game hen kebabs, and the kids shared a chicken kebab. There were 2 sauces on the table. One was what seemed to be pickled Basil. The other was kind of a jellied red pepper. We don’t know for sure that these were, in fact correct descriptions, because of the lack of helpful service. Luckily, when the food did show up, it was AWESOME! The yellow rice with mine and Mark’s was kind of a citrus/saffron. The hen was juicy and flavorful, and made me wish that they were the size of turkeys instead of guinea pigs. The browned rice with Shannon and Gaby’s was really reminiscent of a Chai flavor, and maybe could have been a dessert. Shannon’s steak was okay, bu bit done for my taste. Gaby’s pumpkin soup stuff was really good, and tasted like sweet potatoes. I would have loved to stay and eat there all night, but we had bedtime and budget considerations. We also would have liked dessert, but as it turned out, we had to wait for our check, and then almost beg to pay it! desert would have kept us there until the next day.

Today (Tuesday), we set out for Central Park. As soon as we got off the subway, I got a dirty dog with everything. The guy almost didn’t give me one, for reasons that I still don’t understand. Once I finally did get it, it was a hot dog. Well, at least I can cross it off the list (but don’t get me wrong…I’ll probably have two or three more before we leave).

Tuesday’s final meal in the city was actually Philadelphia-inspired. We went to 99 Miles to Philly, a Philly Cheesesteak restaurant in Midtown. I got a Whiz Wit’, and was very happy. A bit on the pricey side for we from the Midwest, but they had Barq’s, and the sandwich was fantastic. Big, sloppy, juicy, and full of flavor. I went against my character and saved half of it to finish tonight.

Still to come (hopefully): Authentic Chinese food made by Chinese people in Chinatown; Foldable Pizza (hopefully from famous Ray’s but probably just from anywhere); Some Jamaican-type food from around here in Brooklyn; anything else that happens to find it’s way into my pit-of-carkoon-type maw.

Day 1 and 2 in NYC

December 30, 2008 by

by: Shannon Burgdorf

We are in NYC visiting my brother, his girlfriend and the city that never sleeps. It’s our first time. Yesterday we spent the day in Manhattan walking around, packed like sardines in Rockefeller Center, and doing our damndest to look like tourists.
Gaby was our lovely tour guide. We wanted to visit Ellis Island, take pics of lady liberty, ride a ferry…. ahhh but New York had other plans. Namely, a mile long line to get on the ferry that takes you to Ellis Island. We walked, and walked, and walked. I was trying to get my bearings the whole day. I really wanted to enjoy the day but felt like I couldn’t just look at things because of the human traffic.
We were going to go ice skating in Bryant Park…. yet another line wrapped throughout the park. We decided to get ice cream instead. Yum.
We then walked to the awesome tree in Rockafeller Center, by walked I mean shuffled through the ocean of people going to the same place. After the mosh pit at the tree–which was awesome anyway–we went to the Village to eat middle eastern food. It was very good, but the service left a lot to be desired. We went home, washed up, and opened presents from Mark and Gaby. Gavyn got a cool Cardinals backpack, knit hat, Beetle the Bard book. We shared a new Wii game. And Isabella got a certificate to go to the American Girl store and they are springing for a doll! I’m jealous 🙂
Today we got up to go to Central Park. Gavyn said his tummy didn’t feel well but I figured he’d be fine once we got moving.
I was totally wrong.
He threw up on the subway train. In a trash can on the street. In the street at 52nd & 2nd. And again in a bag on the train home. After I told Gavyn we were going to take him home, he looked up at me earnestly, “I thought we were going to the park?”
Poor guy. Now we are at my brother’s apartment just relaxing while Gavyn sleeps.
We love New York.

We Make Cakes

December 22, 2008 by


by Brian Dooley

Every year for the kids’ birthdays, Shannon has made them incredible themed cakes. Since joining the family, I have been able to contribute to this tradition. It’s only been three cakes so far, but I’m looking forward to many, many more.

My first experience was with Gavyn’s 9th birthday. He wanted a skateboard cake.

This was my first artisan cake, having only heard stories of the princess cake and the dog cake of years past. I watch a lot of Food Network, though, so I thought I would be up to the task. My first order of business was to tell Shannon that we could do more with fondant than with frosting alone. this was difficult, as fondant is more expensiver than frosting alone. But Shannon, ever the trooper, began MAKING FONDANT FROM SCRATCH! It’s become a staple of our fine cakery. It doesn’t move exactly like the stuff on TV, but it looks great, and it’s edible, so we call it a win.

From there, I won’t exactly say that it was easy, but we planned and plotted and drew blueprints and baked and iced and fondanted and stencilled and hardwared and on and on and on…

Finally, a skateboard cake he got, complete with axles and wheels! We created a lot of extra work for ourselves with this one, but the final result was well worth it.

The next month, Max had a party at a bowling alley, so he got a giant bowling pin and bowling ball. (I lost the pictures of the “making of…: Bowling Cake” in the great Hard Drive Crash of 2008, but am awaiting pictures from other sources just for posterity’s sake.) We got the idea for this cake from someplace online, and adapted it to be prettier for us.

Shannon’s Fondant was the real decoration for this one (because both a bowling Pin and a Bowling Ball are smooth, in case you didn’t know). The Ball-From-a-Bowl idea was mine. That cake turned out great, and I can’t wait to get some pictures up for you.

Then, we had a break for a while, as Bella’s birthday isn’t until December.

She wanted a Dr. Suess cake. We decided on Green Eggs and Ham. A bold move, but one that seemed to work out well. It incorporated structural planning, fondant artistry, and Suessy piping. If not our most technically accomplished cake, then certainly the one that we had the most hubris in dealing with.

So we made her Green Eggs and Ham. I wasn’t 100% satisfied with the piping on this one, but overall, it went over well. The other 7-year olds did not seem to mind.

We are relieved that birthdays are over until next summer, but excited to see what our next adventure will be.