Thursday, October 30, 2008

New York: Chowderhounds, rejoice - $3.50

Welcome Skintsters, to Cheap 'n' Choosy.

This blog was originally inspired by an article I wrote for the Eugene Weekly's Back to Campus Guide in 2005. Eugene is the land of the sliding scale, bartering for babysitting and 1001 different ways to make tofu palatable. It abounds with sub-5-10 dollar options to make you forget you're stuck in Eugene, like the amazing Pizza Research Institute's Vegan Chef Special slice, $4, or the Keystone Cafe's famous sesame oat pancake.

Even $10 is a big night out there, so the hunt for the superlative yet sub-$5 life experience has become my own private Idaho, ever since leaving Australia in 1997 to travel the world on a folding bicycle. Since then I've been sharing my finds for the discerning yet frugal fashionista, foodie and funseeker in my general Galfromdownunder blog.

But today, while partaking of a $3.50 cup of the dangerously addictive New England Chowder at the Lobster Place in Manhattan's Chelsea Market, I happened to share a table with a Barbara Morris of BakeOff Productions a la www.cookingwithamerica.com.

Barbara turns out to be a business writer, a foodie, a TV show producer, a yoga enthusiast, and educator - all the things that wag my waffle iron!

We got to comparing our lunch choices - her somewhat spendy lobster sushi which "didn't taste of lobster at all" and my scrumptuous chowder, probably 90% double cream - talk about telling your cholesterol to go take a hike! You know when you're hooked - you have a fridge full of food as I do at the moment, ample leftovers, a rotting banana, yet you make a resolute bee-line for an establishment, solemnly point out/dish out the object of addiction, mindfully pay then refuse a bag and lid because you know you're going to get stuck into it before you even locate a decent table. The Lobster Place's New England Clam Chowder does it every time. It's like eating pure velvet, with clams and potatoes chopped small and tender in a luscious creamy base. You'd never make it this way yourself because you'd n doubt blanch at the vat of cream in it. Best to skip that as a home recipe and eat it where the prep is out of sight and out of mind.

Barbara and I talked about food, books, tv, and why many businesses are so wrapped up in their own ideas about what makes good business they aren't clued in to what enables them to be paid. I usually reserved that kind of opinionated ranting for my FastCompany blog that I secretly hope no one reads if I ever want to work in this town.

Meeting Barbara inspired me to skip the absolute bargain donate-what-you-will daily yoga class at Laughing Lotus and kick start this blog.

The picture at the top of this blog is of the excellent $2.50 Magnum-knock off offered by the Euphoria Chocolate Company, Eugene. Right off the bike path, they dip a paddle of ice cream into a vat of hot chocolate then a vat of crushed almonds, hazelnuts or both. And remember - you can tell if an ice cream bar is real ice cream or just whipped up trans fat - real ice cream is heavy, fake ice cream, like those traffic cone shaped ice creams, are as light as a snowflake ...

I welcome your Cheap'n'Choosy suggestions. Together, we'll make affordable abundance a daily indulgence.

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