I Love New York City. Oh Yeah. New York City II. III.



I Love New York City. Oh Yeah. New York City II. III.


The mission of the day was to hit one of my now-favorite diners in Brooklyn: Diner. I initially saw this place on one of Bourdain's shows, and from the first moment I saw this new-school interpretation of the traditional greasy spoon, I knew I had to chow down there. I'm not appropriately acquainted with the true history of Diner, but you can tell this place has stories to tell in its architecture; the floors look old, real old, the entryway is just a tiny little door - hardly even a logo on its facade. Inside, Diner feels like a mini-metallic hanger, you feel the commonalities with your average diner, only you feel a different air about the place: interesting looking kids run the place, with the same sort populating the tables and barstools.

This was the first introduction for each of us at Diner, and initially, when I saw the menu I was a little worried that I picked the wrong Diner; it had very simple selections with hardly a description: "sandwich," "salad," "burger" (at least I think it said burger on there). My lunch guests were Ashley and Darren (from 5B management) - I recall Darren looking at me and saying something along the lines of "are we at the right place? Should we maybe head somewhere else?" The location sure looked amazing, but were we possibly led astray into a different diner that wasn't Diner?When the waitress came by, she soon explained that the "sandwich" was in fact a giant fried chicken breast, served with greens, crisps, all nestled in bread; the soup was a white bean soup with far more ingredients than its modest monicker "soup" implied; there was a pig trotter "cake" with toast and jam; German brats with potato salad; and their "beer" was a Kulmbacher Pils. Quite unassuming titles if you ask me. Desert was to be their "pie": a lemon custard. So lo and behold - we were in the right place, and were about to get the good stuff. Each plate we shared - and each plate was something truly special. 

That's what I love about Brooklyn: take Diner for example… I feel if one were to not know that places with this much rugged "character" pump out some of the best things you can eat - they would assume this couldn't possibly be such a high-level spot for food; however, I'll take this kind of eating over anything. Does this fall in the New American range or title? Maybe not. Can you call it modern? I don't think it quite fits… it just sorta is. I'm finding more and more places like this around the globe: unassuming, maybe slightly renovated or simply just all-original-parts kind of thing (and not renovated, just it-is-what-is-kinda-joint), interesting looking (in the sense they're not the adorned in fancy work-gear) young people, real people working the tables and the knives.

All people deserve to eat wonderfully prepared, interesting food, from great sources, made by people who really give a damn; and a place like Diner sums that vibe up: it ain't fancy, it ain't exclusive for stuffy-types, it's its own unique thing; it's affordable, it's real, and it's filled with real people.

Have I mentioned I love these kind of places? 

I Love New York City. Oh Yeah. New York City II. II.


I Love New York City. Oh Yeah. New York City II. II.


I like The Breslin. A lot. The Breslin embodies and defines what I typically am on the hunt for in the US of A as far as gastro-adventures. My apologies if my terminology is a few years behind, but in my mind, The Breslin is New American. New American with a strong nod to the Gastro Pubs of England. New American to me will have the general familiarity of a dish one would recognize (pulling influence from some of the European greats of gastronomy), only with a twist. Typically, one can expect a feature and an emphasis on local ingredients, animals that were treated well and fed well. New American food ought to have that close attention to detail that you notice in your food and drinks. The vibe should be unpretentious, it should have fantastic eats that people can afford and don't have to get over-dressed for. 

At The Breslin, they have a ridiculously great whole Pig Foot dish (it rules) and do whole beast roasts (you should probably have a couple friends willing to partake before ordering these tables of chow). Since we were just a duo tonight, we decided to go with something sensible.  

My wife is not only a great cook, but a really talented cocktail-maker, she learns new ideas and inspirations from trying cocktails from the spots that do it right. The Breslin is certainly one of those places. Ashley went for the Beggar's Banquet: bourbon whiskey with maple syrup, fresh lemon juice, aromatic bitters, topped with ale. The Breslin makes a mean cocktail; whether you're talking pre and post prohibition-era styles, or their own interpretations (like cocktails involving some beer). I go for a tasty Spotted Pig bitter cask ale (I have yet to be to The Spotted Pig, but it is a culinary-goal of mine to dine there soon). 

We start with Salt and Pepper Crisps (for the Americans who haven't been to the U.K.: crisps are chips, chips are fries), I go for the Chargrilled Lamb Burger with Feta, Cumin Mayo and Thrice-cooked Chips. Ashley goes for a Vinegar-ed Poussin with Grilled Onions and Romesco. The ground lamb, with onion and feta, and that cumin mayo brings Greece to mind, the simple preparation and outstanding ingredients allow taste to be at the forefront of the meal; the fries? Fantastic. The poussin is a game bird, somewhat like a chicken; it was outstandingly prepared. 

Desert was the Dark Chocolate Tarte: toasted marshmallow ice cream, white chocolate ganache, biscuit. Dense dark cacao flavors in the tarte; flowing, soft marshmallow-y goodness in the ice cream; the ganache and light almost-salty flavored bits of biscuit brought it all together. Great presentation as well. 

The following morning, we hit Stump Town Roasters for a great cup of coffee, and No. 7 Sub Shop for a breakfast sub. I went for the Kielbasa sub with scrambled eggs, sweet soy and pickled jalapenos. Eastern European-style sausage, an Asian flare with soy, and Latin/Mexican with the jalapenos… in a sub… with scrambled eggs Yeah - that thing was really freakin' good. 

If you want to stay in a cool hotel, with clothing stores, bars, breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee and cocktails - that are all actually really all good, you should stay at the Ace.



Brussels and Grimbergen, Belgium

It was the morning of the Brussels show on the In Flames, Trivium, Ghost, Rise To Remain, Insense tour when Paolo and I were picked up by one of our good pals (and incredible photographer) Rudy. Rudy's plan for us for the day was to take us to the town of Grimbergen for some great Belgian chow. For those of you beer fans out there, Belgian beer is some of the truly great stuff of this Earth - and Belgian frites? Fuckin A - The Belgians wrote the book on a good frite. 

It was a grey, chilly European day on the drive to the small town of Grimbergen; scenically, the leafless tress and blue/grey-haze of the sky looked quite metal to say the least. Brasserie De 3 Fonteinen was to be our lunch spot; a well-built newer looking structure that had a traditional/modern-vibe to it; families chowed down on their Sunday meals over a low-chatter. 

I start with a goblet of Grimbergen Blond beer (a delicious little morning treat) and we begin the ordering and chatting. We order Huisgemaakte Kaaskroketjes (croquettes) and Stoofkarbonaden Met "Grimbergen" (a typical Belgian beef stew made with beer). The ubiquitous frites we were told would accompany. Paolo, Rudy, and I shared stories of other good times eating with friends, Metal, and our mutual-love for the state of Florida. Rudy spends the occasional holiday overseas in our native state that Trivium calls home.  

These were without a doubt the best croquettes I've had in Europe; melty, almost-liquid cheese tucked within the fried-to-perfection little orbs. The beef stew was hearty and reminiscent of Goulash - only - Belgian and delectably beer-tasting. I traded stomach real-estate that would have been wasted on the greens with those perfection frickin' frites. The Belgians, it is said, are quite possibly the inventors of the frite/fry - and not the French (but this is typically a topic of debate); and no - don't ever call it a "Freedom Fry" ever again (those were dark times…) Aside from an abundance of frites and beer - the Belgians love their sweets, and man do they do em well. Desert was a whopping portion of vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, melted chocolate, a profiterole, and a couple banana slices (for good measure). You know that's the kinda stuff you want. 

After lunch, we headed back to the gig and had an amazing show as Belgium always offers; post-set, Austin, Paolo, some of our local friends and I headed to a legendary bar we were told legends of: Delirium Bar. This bar allegedly has the largest beer selection of any bar in the world, boasting a Guinness World Record for it's collection available to the public. We head into the basement room (as one must when at Delirium) and are welcomed by the loud clamor of people having a raucous good-time. We sample loads of different beers throughout the night, sharing many a pint with friends new and old and people who were just at the show. The show stopper of the night was the Mongozo Coconut beer. Coconut beer you question? Wait till you try this hard-to-find delicacy of the beer-realm. The flavor is like the best damn coconut cocktail you've ever had… only it's simpler than that - it's beer and natural coconut flavor. This shit is nuts - I've searched all over in other countries for this stuff… and it's damn near impossible to find outside of that very bar. Highly recommended.

Post bar-rage, in our drunken-stupor - we were all overtaken with hunger. What does one do in Europe when drunk, wobbly, and needing the truly good stuff do? Kebab shop. If you live in North America and haven't been to Europe… the Kebab shop is where all people of all political backgrounds, races, sex and sexuality all flock to post-drinking; and they're usually open 24 hours a day. It's the booze-mop that will prevent a massive hangover (but will deliver some serious reflux). We load up on some mystery meat kebabs and frites covered in mayonnaise (the European way). 

Belgium brought it.