Love in the Time of Coriander

Thoughts on food & more.

Monday, April 11, 2005

The Village, Take Two

Today I got off to a late start. By the time I was out the door, it was already 11am, so I opted for an early lunch. I googled a place I had been to on my last trip (a few months prior) to NY. It's a Japanese macrobiotic establishment called, Souen ( Their spin, though with a more extensive menu, is kind of like the amazing veggie sushi restaurant, Cha-Ya, on Shattuck Ave in North Berkeley.

Souen's food is the epitome of "clean." I don't mean that it's meticulous but rather that it's simple, healthy, and delicious. My body craves everything about this kind of food. It hums when I succumb to it. I loved it so much that I thought about going there for another meal. Alas, I don't have enough time for this many meals. E reminds me constantly that my eyes are much bigger than my stomach--thankfully--or I'd be a much bigger person than I am.

I frolicked about Soho again today, intent on buying some "intimate" things for my wedding. It was, let's say, retail therapy. I think if I didn't come from another metropolitan locale, I'd be more impressed with Soho than I am. The rectangularity of buildings and the tiny streets, not the stores tucked into them, are what's exciting. Otherwise, it's all the same fancy shmancy stuff. Fcuk, BCBG, Origins, Banana Republic, Chanel, Camper, etc -- it's all in SF's Union Square, too. I keep asking and have yet to find all the hidden away local-designer haunts. What about the Mimi Barr and Therapy of New York? Where are they?

Perhaps the most fun I had (outside the Agent Provacateur store that does not, unfortunately, exist in SF) was in the MOMA Design Store. Now, that's something I can get behind. One-of-a-kind wallets, scarves, jewelry, furniture and housewares with a sharp vision. Gotta love it. I bought a little somethin' somethin' for E & a box of Bollywood postcards (yippee!) for me.

I peeked into the big Dean and DeLuca in Soho before leaving. As a foodie, I guess I'm supposed to be impressed by the evolution of the grocery store, right? But the D & D just just gave me the creeps. Rows and rows of the excesses of food. Spices (no doubt from India or Southeast Asia) packed in glorified test tubes with labels designed by an Academy of Art grad remind me that colonialism in a new mutant form is still alive. Pastries that are made to look too freakishly perfect. No piece of fruit out of place or of an off-color. Food should be pretty but, in my opinion, should not take itself that seriously. I left quickly, noting that this was the Super Walmart of "fine" foods. I'll take my Monterrey Market, all the Indian sari and spice shops along University Ave and the tacquerias in the Mission, please. Even the Ferry Building is, though expensive and glossy, still a local artisan food mall.

On my way back, I passed by the Hampton Chutney Co. (, recommended as a NYC hot spot. This, in conjunction with having just read the NYC Eats blog and walking by several Indian restaurants touting dosas and uttapams, convinces me that this must be one of the new "in" things. Unfortunately, I wasn't yet hungry enough to eat so I just perused the menu and watched the NYU hipsters eating flaky dosas on benches outside the joint.


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