Friday, January 14, 2011

Pommes Frites

A year was far too long to wait. As HL and I walked down Second Avenue, I could already taste the delicious fries—no, the delicious pommes frites—that awaited us. When HL and I were in New York over a year before, we stopped in at this little sliver of a restaurant and dove into paper cones filled with hot, salty deliciousness and vowed to return. Now that we both live here, it seemed the logical thing to do on a Sunday.

Simplicity reigns supreme here, for the most part, at this restaurant named for the only dish on the menu—Pommes Frites. Pommes frites are not just French fries, they are Belgian-style fries fried once to cook them through and then again to give the fries a warm brown color, and a crunchy outside but soft inside. The fries are then lightly tossed in sea salt and happily shoved into Pommes Frites’ signature paper cones. You have your choice of a regular size (at a mere $4.50, it’s so packed with frites I was able to have that for lunch alone), a large size ($6.25), and a double size ($7.75), which is made of two cones shoved together.

Then there are the dipping sauces, the one place where Pommes Frites slides away from simplicity. There are just as many, if not more, flavors of dipping sauce as there are flavors at Baskin Robbins, including but not limited to Smoked Eggplant Mayo, Pomegranate Teriyaki Mayo (my sauce of choice this time), Irish Curry, Peanut Satay, and of course good old ketchup. Many of the sauces are mayonnaise based because Frites Sauce is traditional European mayo, likely the way the Belgians go themselves. So they just add in all the crazy ingredients for one dollar extra, though ketchup and some other flavors are free.

When you go up to order your fries, you’ll lean against the wooden counter and see the fries being made. Next to the counter are five barstools and two booths, the tables of which have little holes carved into them so you have a place to easily rest your fries without losing any of the delectable, crisp potato rectangles to your clothes or, worse, the floor. There might not be a place to sit inside, but if you’re lucky the two tall chairs outside of the store (complete with little holed table) will be available. This is where HL and I plopped ourselves last Sunday, despite the blistering high-20 degree weather. We uncovered our hands from our gloves and held onto our cones, the heat from the frites keeping our hands, and thereby our sanity, in tact. Every so often a gust of wind would bite at our hands, but it didn’t matter. Each crisp delicacy released a happiness of salty potato and heat into our mouths and after a while we barely noticed the cold. We were eating frites, and it was worth any of the pain.

To check it out, visit the store in the East Village at 123 Second Avenue between 7th Street and St. Mark’s Place, or online at

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Miss Manhattan Takes A Holiday, Part II: The Return

In case you didn’t know, there’s a whole lot of sunshine and warmth in South Florida. So when I left chilly Manhattan, my first goal was to procure the best souvenir possible from a warm climate, the tan. There were many days where I woke up, put on my bathing suit and walked outside to immerse myself in sun worship (falling asleep on a lounge chair).

All the while, in New York a massive blizzard swept through, covering the city in blankets of white, shutting down transportation and confining people to their homes. Garbage bags piled up on the streets because they were covered in snow and the garbage men couldn’t get to them (many of them are still there).

I sat in the sun some more. As clouds rolled in and the sun drifted off, I went inside and sat around in my bathing suit and a sweater until…well, until I didn’t want to anymore.  When I’m in New York, these are the things I miss about home. The rides up the beach road, A1A, with the windows down and sea salt rushing through my hair; the sun setting just a little bit later than it does in New York; going to the beach in the winter; sunsets that turn the sky creamsicle orange and lavender.

But then last Monday I caught a flight home in the evening, not before going to the beach all that day, turning just that much darker than I was before, and rubbing saltwater in my hair for that divine smell and volumizing effect no hair product has yet been able to successfully duplicate.

I was greeted in New York by piles of snow on the sides of the roads and curbs blizzard remnants that have (as of today, over a week later) still not dissipated. Dry, icy wind covered my wrists. Was it possible that I was just on the beach that same day?

But now I have fully re-immersed myself into the cold. This past Friday snow fell in huge but light flakes for hours, making me feel like I was underneath Mother Nature’s flour sifter. The snow rested neatly atop cars and water iced onto curbs, but I didn’t mind. I’ve decided I like the cold because it makes me feel alive, or rather more alive since New York runs so deeply in my veins now anyway.