Papa Kebab: is this the best falafel in New York?

I am not one for writing odious, New York Post-like headlines, but I really want falafel connoisseurs to eat these and let me know what you think. As you know, falafels are as common year-round as pumpkin spice lattes in fall - those crunchy, golden bally things that make vegetarians feel superior and placate meat-eaters forced to share a table with them. Fresh falafels are green and moist inside: from Papa Kebab They're typically yellow or golden brown outside, and often the same inside. Except at Papa Kebab, an unpretentious little eaterie in West Chelsea whose unfortunately pedestrian name belies the excellence of its food. More about that in a minute. "If they're yellow inside it's from a mix, these are fresh," says the owner. Prodded for the recipe, she revealed that they contain fresh cooked chickpeas, ground up celery, cilantro and spices. The result is a crunchy falafel with amazing moistness, complexity and depth inside, neither too spicy no

Chelsea Nabe Food 'n' Foraging Cheat Sheet

Tea and bickies (as we say downunder) at Port's Tea & Coffee (now closed)  West Chelsea ChEatSheet NOSH-OUTS FOR THRIFTY FOODIES in WEST CHELSEA  (plus some extra places a bit further afield) West Chelsea  (16th-30th streets between 8th and 11th Aves in my book), has a surprising concentration of good, inexpensive eats, especially as you drift west towards the Hudson, and especially on 9th Avenue. As rampant generification  of this nabe takes hold, I maintain this page as a kind of neighborhood rescue service: quite often, mediocrity gets more traffic because people keep going to the same places old they know. It takes a lot for a new place to gain momentum - it can go out of business before it even gets started. Having worked in food ,  I know that if you don't patronize a good place, one day it won't be there - Duane Reade is a such a crappy place to have a nice meal ... So without further ado, below is the content of an occasional missive I send t

$3.50: MUJI's minimalist metrosexual toothbrush

TWO MONTHS after returning from my whirlwind bike+bullet train visit to Japan , I'm still turning Japanese. I'm cooking up a nabe storm in my Kyoto nabemono , I'm drinking sencha+matcha at all the wrong moments (like before going to bed) and I'm leafing luxuriantly through the copy of The Aesthetics of the Japanese Lunchbox  by Kenji Ekuan "one of Japan's foremost industrial designers". Ekuan-san romances the minimalist, orderly tension of the bento box with such a lyrical reverence I wouldn't be surprised if he had something to do with the design of this toothbrush. This is just toothbrush. Thank god.  It's not an mp3 player to groove along to while you floss. It's not a vibrating wand with meat-seeking infra-red technology to hunt and destroy trapped flesh of dead animal from your fajita binge. It's not an exercise in Pantone mayhem and ergonomic design overkill that typifies the average Oral-Turbo-ABC. It's actually even le

<$5: The Tuck Shop - A $4 sausage roll that rocks PLUS It's Tim Tam Time!

Landing the most scrumptious sausage roll at the Tuck Shop NY The Tuck Shop Revisited for Tim Tams, Mint Slice, and a runny meat pie The Tuck Shop featured in my "Best Job In The World" application The Tuck Shop? Never 'eard of it! +++ HOW DO you make a sausage roll? Put it on a hill and push it. That's the ├╝ber clean joke about this snack from my kindergarten days, when the local Aussie "tuck shop" or school canteen dispensed greasy, fatty pies, pasties and sausage rolls to a nutritionally unenlightened public. Oh how we loved that flaky bakey crap. The pie - something that has never taken off in the USA except in the form of a 'pot pie' - was a pastry case filled with drippy, peppery mince in a brown gravy strong on Worcestershire sauce. How did you eat it? Peel off the pastry lid and eat that first. The using your index fingers, scoop out the filling and suck it off your fingers, ouching at the temperature. Finall

60cents-$5 Microdesserts @ Three Tarts, NY

$5 Chai Greek Yogurt Cup trying not to eat it too fast ... My folding bike experiment, tikit on Trial , included this visit to the Three Tarts : I visit the Three Tarts almost as often as the bathroom but I can assure you there's no direct causality ... The antithesis of supersize me, ThreeTarts is 'microsize me' with its tiny, utterly original, coin-sized cookies, tarts, muffins and parfaits, meticulously baked and priced to empty the small change in your pocket. You will find concoctions here that you will find nowhere else. Here are the absolute standout numbers in my book: 1. The Chocolate Lovely - two superfine, super thin, super dark (almost black) chocolate cookies with a dark ganache filling. There is a delayed reaction as the chocolate hits your palate then creeps slowly over it, intensifying as it goes. Wow. What a way to spend 60 cents. Shape changes from bat to penguin to megaphone depending on the whim of the Japanese patisserie me

Free Monday Nights: Howard Williams Jazz Orchestra, The Garage NYC

Monday is apparently muso's night off, and here in Manhattan some of the best Broadway musicians get together and jam "for fun". The 16-piece (looks a lot bigger from the wings!) Howard Williams Orchestra plays Monday nites 7-10pm at The Garage - a really cool and jazzy multi-tiered space. Roger, whose brother pays the double bass in the band, says it has been a tradition at the space for 15 years. "My brother carpools in from Philly, every Monday. If musicians can't make it, they have to find a stand in." So fun it may be, but this is serious. I'm not actually a fan of this kind of jazz, but hearing and seeing it live like this has a presence and power that is hard to convey. I've been quite a few times, so I take that back - I guess I am a fan. There is food, but the menu is somewhat pricey unless you stick to a fairly quesadilla or salad for around $10-15. There's no cover, but please support musicians and businesses like this by

Pretty much free yoga in Chelsea and beyond

Free yoga on Pier 64 offered by Chelsea Piers Fitness Center. Yoga in NYC doesn't come cheap. Classes hover around $18 unless you buy some kind of package. But here are some options in Chelsea and a little further, that can tide you over 'til you get that Wall Street job and can afford a membership at Equinox and wherever else you please ... Free summer yoga at Pier 64, offered by Chelsea Piers Fitness Center August/Sept only, before the snow comes in ... Donation only Community Class at Laughing Lotus , 19th and 6th Ave, M-F, 2.30pm-3.45pm. Ongoing. For Summer only, Lotus also offer a free Wed 7-8pm class on a grassy knoll near 15th and the West Side Highway. Easy Yoga with the Galfromdownunder , Chelsea Rec Center, 25th bet 9th and 10th Ave. Tuesdays 6-7pm. Ongoing. Yes folks, this is my completely free, 'tude free class, part of Boomberg's ShapeUpNYC initiative - you don't have to be a center member to attend, make sure you tell them that if the front