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Live From New York

Day One | June 2, 2000

Remote Feed -- Friday, June 2, 2000, 9:45 a.m.

Judge Vardigan here with a big apple hello to all the eaters out there...

Crossing several time zones in a plane can be hard on a judge. It was hard on this one. I hate to admit it, but food was not on my mind when I arrived in New York City -- sleep was.

But there was no sleep. And I have no plans to visit Brooklyn.

So I ate. But there was a problem: At the Waldorf-Astoria, where this conference is held, "cheap" is nothing but the sound a little bird makes. (The bellboy has brought word that all attempts at humor in this remote feed are being held in contempt of Füd Court.) I got a tiny paper cup of coffee for three dollars and a crummy little croissant for three more. And no free refills on that coffee -- outrage!

Time has cut this short. Tune in for the next installment, coming within the next 24 hours. Expected topic: sidewalk dining in New York City.

Eat on,

Judge Vardigan


Day Two | June 3

Judge Vardigan MIA


Füd Court bailiffs are dispatched to investigate.


Day Three | June 4

June 4, 10:15 a.m., West Village, NYC

Due to forces beyo -- oh, you know the rest. I was missing, but have I ever been eating.

Pescatore, an Italian place around the corner from the Waldorf, offered a summer feel I know I'll long for on fogged late afternoons in San Francisco's August. I ate there Friday, enjoying seafood stew and a cold beer on an outdoor balcony overlooking the afterwork throngs of New York City. Across the street everyone else was eating outside too. Sidewalk dining in the early evening cooldown of an 80-degree day -- now that's summer eatin'.


June 4, 4:30 p.m., Brooklyn, NY

I lied! Oh man, did I lie! For the sake of a crummy Beastie Boys allusion in my first remote report I lied like the owner of a guilty deli (whose name I won't mention) testifying before the Füd Court.

Because I'm here in Brooklyn. Park Slope, on a perfect sunny Sunday. A dog day, but in a good way. Fetching dogs in the park, sleepy dogs on brownstone steps. I think this is the greatest neighborhood in America. And they got some good soul food. Sweet Mama's, I think it's on 7th Ave. but I ain't sure. Again, outdoor eating, this time on a back patio. "Fried" creamed corn, mashed potatoes, hush puppies, and breaded catfish. It was all great. The mashed reminded me of my own, frankly -- skins mixed in and heart-melting amounts of butter. Well worth the short subway trip. In fact, once you get to Park Slope I bet you'll never want to leave.


Day Four | June 5

June 5, 9 a.m., Midtown

Pierogis. They're hard to spell and harder not to devour. You can get them a lot of places here, including the famous 24-hour diner Veselka. They're fried little pastries with your choice of fillings. Actually, you have the option of steamed pierogis, but who wants that? Especially at 4 a.m. after a night of beer in the Village, which is when you should eat these fried little delights. I had the variety batch -- some with potatoes, some with meat (undisclosed kind), some with sauerkraut, some with...something else. Spinach? I think so. All delectable. You can smear them with sour cream and/or applesauce, a la potato pancakes. I just used the sour cream. Load them up with salt, too -- they're already terrible for you, you've been drinking all night, and you're on vacation, so what the hell.


June 5, 12 p.m., West Village windowsill

I just jogged past the Statue of Liberty. She said, "Psst! Don't forget Krispy Kremes!" Which I always do. Every time I come here I forget them, and I've still never had them.

Right now I'd like to comment again on the coffee here. Not all of it is three bucks. But most of it sucks. And everywhere you go they put the milk in for you, which is a little...presumptuous or something. A lot of basic food items -- pizza, hot dogs, bagels, etc. -- are better here, but not the coffee. It's enough to drive me into a Starbu -- oh no. Oh no. No never never!


Day Five | June 6

June 6, 12:20 p.m. La Bonbonniere, 8th Ave. and Jane St., West Village

Delicious french toast at a sidewalk table with my pal Dan. A great little diner where the owner's cat might come by to visit during your meal. And check out the Steve Keene painting of breakfast inside. Today it's raining. Tomorrow my Apple eating culminates -- 2nd Ave. Deli. The best for last. So long.


Day Six | June 7

June 7, 11:15 a.m., West Village

Krispy Kremes. Chokolate Iced Kreme Filled. The kreme inside was so goddamn sweet I thought I might vomit for about an hour afterwards. But what blessed nausea! These sukkers are the real deal. After years of anticipation I was not disappointed. One Kreme will run you 85 cents (at least in New York). And they weren't even "hot now" as they kan be -- get them when the HOT NOW neon's lit up in the window.

Also yesterday: Matzoh Ball Soup at the Carnegie Deli. Two massive matzoh balls sitting in some chicken broth. They give you a little steel bowl of extra broth to periodically pour over them. Pressed to estimate their size, I'd equate them to major league baseballs.


Day Seven | June 8

Judge Vardigan returns. Bleary-eyed and bloated, he is unable to file his final report. If he survives the night, we can hope for a missive tomorrow. We have ascertained that he did in fact have pastrami at the 2nd Avenue Deli and, furthermore, has information which will enable each and every Füd Court reader to taste this delicacy firsthand. An exciting development. Tune in tomorrow.

Judge Turner


Day Eight | June 9

June 9, 10:02 a.m. (PST), San Francisco, CA

Technically, this is not a remote report. I'm back here in San Francisco, suffering drastic gastric repercussions from airplane dining, but I must discuss the 2nd Ave. Deli.

David wishes he could do it like this. Pickles and pickled tomatoes arrive in a steel bowl. In another bowl, coleslaw with no mayo. Matzoh ball soup (which my dining companion ordered) was more bountiful than Carnegie's, although the balls themselves were smaller. But it had carrots and little square noodles mixed in. PLUS a side of challah slices if you care to dip. My pastrami sandwich was all I'd hoped for. Simple simple simple. Small slices of rye and piles of red pastrami between. This is the kind of food you let linger in your mouth because you don't know when you'll get another shot at it.

BUT, amazingly, as Turner hinted at in his/my report last night, you the common eater can order 2nd Ave. delights OVER THE PHONE. Call 1-800-NYC-DELI. I know the pastrami goes for 25 bucks a pound -- steep, but worth it. I'm not sure on the shipping charges yet.

Oh, one final note: I had a slice in New York. They are everywhere and they all look pretty much the same. I had mine at Joe's Pizzeria. It was big, flat, simple, and great. Ran me two bucks. You can get them cheaper, and, along with falafel (which you can find for about 3 bucks) and curbside hot dogs, they make up the recipe for cheap (albeit not very healthy) eating in New York City. In general, all of these things are better and easier to find in New York than they are here. At least that's what I think.

New York City, thank you for your food. And dear reader-eaters, thank you for tuning in.

Signing off,

Yours in Füd,

Judge Vardigan







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