Nibbles 10.0 (including an inside look at The Taste of New York)

I do Nibbles so often these days that I think I should start numbering them. But since I don’t know how many I’ve done, I will arbitrarily assign this a number. And that number is 10. This is Nibbles 10.0. Welcome. And now for Nibbles.

1. Coffee Shop Tip Jar

I have a problem and the problem concerns the tip jar at my new coffee shop. See at my old Manhattan coffee shop lattes and cappuccinos cost $3.50. So I’d pay $4.00 and get $0.50 change which I’d put immediately in the tip jar. The people who worked there smiled gratefully. “Thank you!” their faces would say and sometimes their mouths would say it too. I felt quite well liked at my old coffee shop.

At my new Brooklyn coffee shop lattes and cappuccinos cost $3 even. So I either pay $3 even or I give a $5 and get two singles in change. But singles in change is too much to tip for coffee. I can’t put a dollar in the jar every time I go or I’d lose all my money. And so when I pay for my coffee I reach in my pocket and feel for change and usually don’t find it. So I don’t leave a tip. And the people there give me a look that says, “Won’t you tip me?” And I give them a look that says, “I can’t! I’m sorry! I have no change!”

So the moral of the story is that though it’s nice that the new coffee shop charges less for coffee, I’d almost rather pay more so I can tip the people who work there. It occurs to me as I write this, though, and I’m sure this has occurred to you: if I continued to go to my old coffee shop I’d be paying $4 for coffee because of giving the $0.50 to the people who work there, so in the end tipping a dollar at my new one would cost me the same money. But it still seems extravagant. And that’s my tip jar quandary.

2. He Ain’t My Gay Lover, He’s My Brother

I was so excited to receive a free copy of this new cookbook by the Lee Brothers.

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The book is excellent and the recipes look dynamite. But I have to share an observation from having this book around my apartment all day. People think it’s written by a gay couple. Craig, the other half of my gay couple, said: “Who are those gay guys?” when he saw the book lying on my kitchen table. “They’re not a gay couple, they’re brothers,” I told him. “Don’t you see it’s called The Lee Bros. Cookbok?”

And then Lisa came over and she also had the same reaction. “I was like, ‘what’s that gay cookbook?’ And then I was like ‘Oh, they’re brothers.'”

The three of us consulted and we agree that the problem lies in the matching shirts, the khaki pants, the smiles and the standing so close together. But Craig offers that their shirts are a little too big so they’re probably not gay. “A gay guy would wear a tighter shirt,” he concludes.

3. Starbucks = Bathroom

I wanted to do a separate post on this but Nibbles seems the right place. I have finally learned a way to appreciate that bastion of bad coffee known as Starbucks. As we’re all aware, Starbucks is taking over the world with stores opening on every corner of every city in every country east, west, north and south. Many see this as a bad thing but I see this as a good thing: mostly because Starbuckses have free public bathrooms. You may not think that a big deal, but when you’re in SoHo, as I was the other day, and you really have to pee and it’s raining, it’s much easier to pop into a Starbucks than to sneak past the host of Balthazar to pee. The same was true when I was in Paris last year. I really had to pee and I saw a Starbucks and sure enough there was a free public bathroom. So I think as long as we remember the equation Starbucks = Bathroom we can appreciate their constant proliferation.

4. Taste of New York

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I got free tickets to New York Magazine’s taste of New York event at the Puck Building on Monday. Craig and I had a great time and enjoyed meeting the fine folks at NYC Nosh, the elusive Lockhart Steele of Eater and Curbed and the other half of the internet, and the fine people from Blue Hill Stone Barns who sought me out to say how much they enjoyed my comic book post.

Off in the distance there was Iron Chef Morimoto promoting Morimoto:

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Here’s chef Anita Lo (with blue bandana) manning the Annisa booth:

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and Lydia Bastianich, who I introduced myself to and greeted most enthusiastically. (She was nice but not terribly receptive.)

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I spied Chef Todd English talking to that Iron Chef judge lady which I found suspect because he was once a contestant on Iron Chef and she may have been his judge. SCANDAL!

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Our favorite bites from the event were, for Craig, the Per Se “Pastrami Sandwich” made with “Orange Marlin Pastrami with Per Se coleslaw and caraway seed melba.”

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(Here’s a really bad close-up):

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I loved the drinks from Pegu Club:

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An awesome goat cheese mousse from Aquavit:

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And, most of all, a pumpkin cheesecake from Gotham Bar & Grill:

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I met the pastry chef and she was incredibly sweet. So, in fact, was her dessert.

We left the event stuffed and went on to see “The Queen.” The next day we saw “The Departed.” And the Oscar goes to… Gotham Bar & Grill for its pumpkin cheesecake.

And that ends tonight’s nibbles. Happy weekend nibbling!

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37 comments

  1. That is so funny about the Lee Bros cookbook… when I saw the cover, I immediately thought: oh, a gay couple.

    Hee.

    I’d be interested to hear what the publisher thinks of our first impressions!

  2. I think Starbucks in Paris is on to you! At the Starbucks in La Defense (the one upstairs near the cinemas, not sure about the one down near the CNIT) you have to make a purchase to access the rest rooms. There is a entrance code on your reciept and you have to enter the numbers into the bathroom door lock to get in! Augh!!!

  3. I am from a town called Sarnia way up in Ontario. The people in my community are SO EXCITED that a starbucks is coming into town, they are so exictied to get something other the Tim Hortons. I cringe, hoping that I won’t loose my fav little independent coffee shop…In my town Tim Hortons = bathroom :)

  4. My gaydar must be working properly – My first thought was “twins?”

    The Paris Starbucks Ginparis refers to reminds of when I was a child and some public restrooms had “money locks” on them. You had to put a dime in to get the door to open. My mom would be frantically searching her purse for a dime while I was standing with my legs crossed.

    I vote for pumpkin cheesecake! Looks yummy!

  5. My first thought was ‘gay couple’ until I saw the name of the book. I do agree with Craig’s observation on the shirts. “Will and Grace” made that quite evident.

  6. Another great bathroom place besides Crate & Barrel is Old Navy, Barnes & Noble and almost evry Gap store seems to have one. (I drink a lot of coffee!)

  7. re: tipping quandry — i’d say tip them a dollar depending on the drink and at least 50 cents every time. here’s why:

    people who work at coffee shops often work insanely long hours — i have friends who work at a popular one in p.slope and they have to get there at something insane like 5:30 am and they don’t leave until 5:30 pm — that’s a long day.

    and for that entire day they are on their feet — and even though only 1 person made your latte it took both people behind the counter to get everything ready so your latte could be made in a reasonable amount of time. also, if it’s a local place there are no benefits like a 401k or health insurance unlike the great bathroom provider starbucks. also — if you are a regular and then you tip well frequently they begin to love you and remember you in a good way…so eventually you might get a freebie here and there. . .which is nice.

    cup of coffee = $0.50/latte, etc =$1

    (can you tell i was a waiter?)

    and lastly, my dad teaches at emory law school — i hope he’s not the reason you thought it was awful.

  8. Yo AG, just tip the coffee/latte folks a whole dollar – it’s good caffeine karma and i promise you won’t run out of money. :)

  9. Love nibbles! You missed one tell-tale sign of the “easy to mistake them as gay even though they are brothers” comments. They are painfully skinny! Could you imagine if the shirts were actually tight – ouch! I thought everyone knew that “thin”, and “well-dressed/clean cut” was a strong indicator. I think those brothers should do less cooking and MORE eating!!

  10. Your Starbucks reference totally cracked me up as I there was a proliferation of them in London as well and I too only went in to use their free, clean bathroom! Too funny.

  11. another fabulous place for public restroom-usage in soho is bloomies — always clean and never a wait! you just have to ignore the suspicious looks from the storepeople and SCURRY in and out :-)

  12. I agree with other posters, tip ‘em a buck. Maybe not every time, but every other time? You are helping out people making, what 7bucks an hour, an extra couple bucks an hour.

    Lee brothers. I know know know they are not a gay couple as I have been reading them for quite sometime (actually I was thinking recently, “where have the been.”) but when I say that picture I thought it too. “A gay cookbook?” It’s the matching clothes.

  13. OK, I’m a barista and supervise baristas. If you go to a cafe often enough, you won’t have to tip every time extravagently because they will remember you. Put it this way, they’re not only making your drink, but cleaning the dining area, making your food, doing dishes, keeping the area clean and in a lot of cases are therapists. Plus, it’s a long day. Also, if you want to tip every time, ask for change! Seriously, we don’t mind, it’s money!

  14. After 49 years in the business, I do not petty personell who have not learned to never provide bills only as change. Coins maybe heavier in ones pocket, but make others’ lighter.

    Do you get the drift?

  15. Oh, AG, I’m dissapointed in you. I’ve always defended your extravagances, but come on! Tipping a lonely dollar at a cafe with discount lattes is not extravagant! If you don’t have 50 cents – not there problem. TCGA – tip the coffee guys already! I mean, didn’t you just recently fly off to Paris because of the moulah you got from your book deal?

    Ali

  16. Great blog! I quite agree, those two brothers do look a bit gay – a problem that could have been avoided by wearing pleated khakis instead of flat fronts. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  17. If you tip these folks a dollar, aren’t you still out the same amount of money if the coffee is .50 cheaper than what you used to pay? I don’t understand the problem. I’m actually a little disappointed, I guess. (This coming from a former barista!)

  18. There’s some algorhthym between the money you would have spent on the skeevy toliet attendant at Balthazar (but you went to Starbucks instead)and the money you kind of want to tip at the Brooklyn coffeeshop.

    I think giving the baristas a $20 bill every month with a handwritten note (say on rent day) might be a good way to handle the situation.

  19. This maybe sounds pretty harsh but come on, 1 dollar is nearly a 35% tip for what i assume is a take-away coffee. It would have to be a really special occasion to leave that at the greatest restaurant. You are not even using a table or making dirty dishes. If you are there everyday, they will remember you anyway, and i am sure well because you seem like a funny guy and if something extra special happens that makes them worthy, then leave a buck. I hate tip jars at take out coffee shops and if there is one i am less likely to leave the change. Besides, it is only a matter of time before that latte costs 3.50 and then that awkward feeling will just disappear.

  20. I love that story about the Lee BROTHERS. TOO funny.

    I heard them on the radio last week and have been wondering about the book. I love their passion for southern food.

  21. Tipping the person who make you your coffee? Please! It’s not like they are a waiter or waitress. Do you tip the people at McDonalds? I think it is pretty bad that they have their hand out. I say skip the tip, what are they gonna do when you come in next time give you worse service then they already do? These guys make decent money considering the job they are doing.

  22. I agree with your friend’s observation that the Lee brothers’ clothes prove they’re not gay. Most straight men down here dress just like that.

  23. Tipping

    Pretty simple solution: ask for change when you give them your money.

    Lee Brothers Cookbook

    The WaPo featured their book in this week’s food section and even the photo in the paper made them look like lovers. heh.

  24. pumpkin cheesecake has been dominating my november . . i think ive had it the last few times i’ve had to choose a dessert, and i don’t normally like cheesecake.

    just read about those lee guys somewhere – they def. look gay at first glance

  25. I vote for the dollar tip, esp because it’s the same amount of money! Where is the love? Anyone who has been a barista knows how much work it is to ‘deal’ the daily drug to a bunch of caffeine junkies, with their raging energy surging all over you while they wait for their fix. Just because it’s legal…And anyway, it’s better to share the wealth. It all comes back to you, one way or another. Peace

  26. I feel guilty about tips, too! For example, am I tipping too little? Often I order a coffee that is close to $3–something like 2.87 with tax–and I drop the change in the jar. But is it enough?!

    Aaarrrgggghhhh!

    Such a modern dilemma!

  27. I’m a few days late to the party here, but did you notice the Lee Bros. belts in that cover shot? Do Southern men wear embellished belts like that? I had no idea. And there’s another photo inside the book that I can’t stop gaping at which features the bros in matching white tees (again, baggy) with a pail of their peanuts between them. What they’re trying to evoke is totally inscrutable to this Northwesterner. I’ll probably never cook anything out of their book, but I’ve already gotten my money’s worth in entertainment.