Fooding with Friends on My Last Day of Classes! (Taïm and Graffiti)
Last Saturday was officially my last day of school. No more classes. No more quizzes, papers, and tests! Good riddance…at least for now. I’m giving myself a break from school for a year. Get a real job (but still go out eating, of course) and then go through the madness of applications of either law school or grad school. To kind of celebrate this event, I asked several friends to have lunch with me at Taïm.
Seungmi was in the city before the supposed time where all of us should meet, I hanged out with her, browsing through a few stores on Greenwich Avenue. That’s until our old high school friend, Si called me and said she’s here and can’t find her way in West Village since she doesn’t come down here often and she goes to Cornell.
Eventually we all met up and Seungmi’s ranting that she’s starving and threaten to pass out due to the lack of food in her stomach. Since it’s about fifteen minutes ’til everyone’s supposed to meet, we went into Birdbath just to warm ourselves up and Seungmi gets something to nosh on.
It turned out beyond that gingerbread cookie you see above, she also gotten herself a miso apple cake. Yep, she’s hungry. And she managed to eat both of them within 10 minutes before the others have called me. And we (as in me, Seungmi, Si, Ariel, and Robyn) finally meet at…
Robyn had the chai tea and the harissa falafel sandwich. If you want details of what she thought click here. From her reactions, she seemed really content and stuffed with her food.
Ariel actually tried a sip of her chai and he told me that it’s “funky tasty.” He said that there’s some off-taste of rosewater and mint. I don’t know exactly where that came from but I would guess he’s tasting the cardamom; that spice tastes florally, citrusy-spicy to me.
Ariel was truly happy when he ate his sabich. Since he’s born and raised in Israel, I think he knows what a good sabich or falafel tastes like. He also told me that he wants (eventually) to try out their entire menu since it’s so tasty. His sabich is a white pita filled with fried eggplant, an organic hard boiled egg, hummus, Israeli salad, tahini and amba sauce. I haven’t taste it but I’m considering ordering that when I come here next time.
Also his falafel tasting plate arrived. Six falafel balls, consisting two of each flavor, served with a side of tahini. Since we shared this, it kind of eased my way into feeling stuffed beyond I want since I had my own falafel sandwich. Nevertheless it was delicious: crisp, ethereal exterior, soft, slightly creamy innards with a nice balance of herbs and spices.
My date, lime, and banana smoothie (Ariel had one as well), was quite delectable. It’s predominantly flavored with bananas with a hint of date. The date contributed more in terms of texture rather than flavor since I saw fibers of it floating around. The lime wasn’t really detected but it does give the smoothie an overall lightness and an acidic touch. Not too sweet. Not too thick. Nothing artificial here.
My harissa falafel sandwich (which is the same thing that Robyn had, as I mentioned earlier) was something close to reaching a falafel epiphany. I’ve eaten at a few falafel joints before but jeez, I never had a sandwich quite like this one nor made me feel like my stomach was about to burst (it’s a good thing for this particular case). The falafels were crisp with a mildly spicy kick. It’s stuffed with tahini, hummus, and Israeli salad. Oooh…I need to eat here more often.
As you have read earlier, Seungmi was famished to the umpteenth exponent that she actually ordered the humongous falafel platter. She didn’t really know that she would get something that big since she doesn’t know what she really ordered. But after seeing the before and after shots of her platter, she astonished me by finishing the entire thing by herself with no help whatsoever. I know she could could eat but damn she managed to eat what looks like a pound of food in one sitting.
In case you’re wondering what’s in her falafel platter, it’s the regular green falafels sitting on a thick pool of hummus, tabouli and Israeli salad, zahatar seasoned pita. Also severed with three sauces: Tahini, amba (generally, a mango sauce with vinegar), and srug (a Yemeni hot sauce). Yep, it’s a lot of food.
After eating and stuffing ourselves with tasty, fried chickpea balls, most of us parted ways with our own agendas. Ariel and I just hanged out afterwards checking out the New Museum in the Lower East Side since he’s wanting to check it out for a while.
One way to know if you’re in the correct building of this museum, look for the above sign. I don’t know why they chose this statement.
Since the first floor is the only place allowed for photography, that’s basically what I can show you. They’re showing the “Unmonumental” exhibit right now and slowly evolving to completion since when we went through the entire museum, they’re missing the audio portion. If you’re wondering what did I see, it’s basically modern art showing a clash of the politics, the artists’ interpretation of current events and pop culture. Conflicting, ironic, and some are just plain odd and indecipherable.
Moving back to food (since this is a food blog), we walked over to Graffiti in the East Village, since Ariel went there before and loved it and I’m dying to try it out ever since I read it’s opened.
This place is really tiny and cozy. Mostly candlelit with a few small chandeliers, eclectic Asian furnishings with a communal table, two tables toward the window and a small table on the side that has a cushy bench with pillows (which we’ve taken this particular spot). The music mix playing in the background matches the atmosphere, mostly playing fusion Indian music, a few Shakira songs and I remember hearing a Christina Aguilera; it’s sounds like an odd mix but it does work well.
As we perused the short menu, Ariel was devastated to find out that his favorite dish, watermelon, feta and mint sorbet. Let’s just say it left an aching hole in his heart since he told me that he thought about that dish for days when he tried it. Our server for the evening recommended a dish that would supposedly replace Ariel’s beloved dish, which was the beet and feta salad topped with balsamic olive granita.
I would have to say, this was an intriguing salad. It plays with the sweet (beet), salty (feta), briny (feta and olive granita) flavors, textures – crunchy (toasted almonds) and soft (feta cheese and beet), and temperature from the olive granita. Tastes very good and complex from the aforementioned description. Has it completely satisfied Ariel? Not completely. He liked it but not in love with it.
We chose the foie gras raspberry crostini just because we love foie. The toast gave it a nice textural contrast to the smooth, silky foie gras with a hint of tartness from the raspberry. The walnut salad was a nice touch, giving some crunch from the nut and the leaves. It’s a noteworthy take on foie gras but I prefer if the raspberry flavor was a bit more stronger so it can cut the fattiness of the foie a bit more.
Then came our dessert course, the hazelnut chocolate caviar cupcake with chocolate chip ice cream. The whole theme was to play with the versatility of use of 66% cacao content. The cupcake was flavored with Frangelico topped with a 66% chocolate ganache and chocolate caviar.
This cupcake was excellent. It’s moist, not cloyingly sweet, the chocolate flavor was improved a notch by the Frangelico’s flavor (since the pairing of nuts and chocolate goes naturally well together), and the crunch of the chocolate caviar. To let you know, the chocolate caviar is not caviar enrobed with chocolate – it’s like eating a chocolate enrobed sphere-shaped wafer. The chocolate chip ice cream was a delicious accompaniment to the cupcake. It adds on the depth of chocolate without killing the palate with chocolate. Balance was key and it was executed well.
When we asked for the check, it struck us as odd that they’ve given us an envelope with “graffiti” scrawled on it, as you’ll see below.
It’s amusing and unique. We almost wanted to take one home as a souvenir but we didn’t.
145 7th Ave South
New York, NY 10014
224 E 10th Street
New York, NY 10003