Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Element of Surprise... Jay Electronica & the ESPN Zone Cheesesteak.

Upset the set up, the element of surprise...

Surprises. Some are for the better, some the worse. You find out your ex-girl you still have feelings for is pregnant by some piece of shit, with quadruplets- terrible surprise. An estranged great uncle left you a yacht, vineyard and lootcakes that measure 20 ft high- an awesome surprise. Bad broad in the building digs you too- pretty great surprise. An extremely talented artist that you heard had a poor live show flipped it and did his thing- pleasant surprise. A Disneyfied Times Square establishment churns out a non-offensive (decent in fact) meal while you watch your team win- pleasant surprise. You get it. Some are hypotheticals. Others are real talk, true story, I really mean it, word is bond, bladda bladda bladda steez.

So this fucking bitch got knocked up by this Job Corps cat. You believe this chicken face? Said she loved me and wanted to be with me... Nah, I'm playing. #2 happened. I'm deading this blog shit, I'm rich bitch. If you're my peoples we ride together, I got you on oysters and Napa Valley white- I told you he had a vineyard. If you aren't, I suggest you befriend me quick, cause these greenbacks are incendiary and will be ashes before you know it. Uncle Irwin. Good man. Gone too soon.

I lied, no wealthy family members. Just hoping my brother makes it so I can get the West wing. Rather watch the sun set than rise. Ya digs? Let's go Al. Finish that thesis already. Shit's taking FOREVER.

Bad bitch in the building? Working on that.

OK, OK, OK. 4 and 5 occurred. On the same night mind you. That was sort of my fault as I'll explain shortly. The stars were aligned. The man, the myth, the legend known to mere mortals as Jay Electronica was billed to open for N.E.R.D. at Irving Plaza aka Fillmore NY on Wednesday, April 28. Quietly promoted, luckily my boy put me on to it and furthermore blessed us with the tix. VIP status as well which enabled the nice footage. Peep below. N.E.R.D.? Couldn't care less. If I don't like it, I don't like it, that don't mean that I'm hating. Common knows, even though I kind of hate him now. No hate. Mind you this show occurred prior to the Jay Elec v Kay Slay squabble, and while I rep NYC hard, I still fux with Jay.

The odds that Jay Elec actually shows up range from 5-2 to 11-1. I was leaning towards the latter, though not as high. Several hours before show time word was that he'd hit the stage at 8 pm or so. What. Thee. Fuck. Is. That. About.? This is hip hop. The freaks come out at night steezos. But I was cool with that. Lloyd Banks and Reflection Eternal were doing their thing at Nokia Theater, or so I thought, and all I wanted to do was peep Beamer, Benz, and Bentley live. Believe that. The early show would have enabled the double dip.

Exhibit A

Much to my surprise Jay hit the stage shortly after 8. Irving Plaza was pretty packed. Putting the sound board towards the back center of the main floor forced people to get tight. Poor usage of space in my opinion. But I digress. Jay did his thing off the bat. Full disclosure, I'm not up on his entire catalog. I know the heavy hitters along with some other joints that had beat knocks. But the standom only goes so far.

Exhibit C

We all know he's a cerebral rapper. A dope and refreshing element to a rather ignorant bunch. Dumb Rappers Need Teaching... But I'm a boom bap cat and I need that beat. A cappellas are cool but let the track ride. I didn't come here for spoken word homie. He was able to incorporate both into the show. On Exhibit C he kept motioning for the DJ to cut the beat so his lyrics would get top billing. Somewhat overdone and offbeat, but he killed C so I still got loose. For a song of that caliber the crowd was hyped early but fell off. Come on people- that shit is CRAZY. The thing that was most impressive was his banter with the audience. Joking with fans and having a good time. Singling out a chick on the mezzanine who had her back to the stage and having the audience get at a cat who jeered him. Think of the "Asshole" chant directed to a Sawx fan. He made it personal. Light and loose, all with a smile. For a younger audience, that's a dope thing. Fun at a hip hop show?? Never that. The stan level increased.

The World Is Yours

So the show ends and it's early, 9pm-ish. Banks isn't hitting the stage till at least 10pm. BBB is the hottest shit out and I just wanted to see the crowd go APESHIT (see 5:30). Caught the N to Times Square and we're good money. Not even 10 pm. Hit the ATM to deal with the scalpers and then I realize that the show is the following night. FUCK ME x 1000. Silver lining- I'm closer to home, my boy takes Port Authority, and we didn't want to see N.E.R.D. anyway. And the Yankees game is on. But where to eat? Unfortunately the Village Voice's top 10 eats in Times Square wasn't published yet. It was all on me since this dude was cleansing or some shit like that. I roll with healthy folks. But whatevs fams. I'm about to pig the fuck out.

Sports was all that mattered so ESPN Zone it was. I know I've gotten on people heavy for eating there, so maybe it's somewhat hypocritical, me being the gourmand that I am, but we all have weaknesses. No time to waste. Plus I was buzzin' cousin. Chicken fingers and the cheese steak. I needed that unhealthy heavy shit. I had a trek uptown ahead of me and I needed that energy.

The chicken fingers are very enjoyable. Generously sized and far from dry. They're fried and there's honey mustard. How bad can it be? I was more nervous about the cheesesteak, being somewhat of a cheesesteak snob. I didn't want a burger and doubling up on chicken was a no-no. Need to diversify that bitch. For real, for real, pleasantly surprised. According to the menu "shaved ribeye with onions and mushrooms, topped with provolone cheese." Prefer a wiz or American but this is fine. The bread was the most impressive. Light, airy, yet strong enough to hold everything, and there was a lot to hold. Steak, onions with a nice crunch, mushrooms and cheese. Maybe I was a little drunk, maybe a little hyped from running uptown, maybe I was starving. Regardless, I was extremely satiated and pleased with the choice.

My boy's meal. A Caesar Salad without the fade. Lettuce, cucumber and lemon. Nothing else. The waitress felt so bad she kissed the baby's forehead.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Fish Taco Face-Off. Pinche Taqueria vs. La Esquina Taqueria.

I hate commitment. I just can't do it. Get the sweats, short breaths, lose focus. Start freaking out. Need to keep things on a whim- no handcuffs. In and out. That's why tacos work well with me. Hand-sized, easy to eat, limited mess (all depends on one's dexterity). They're gone before you know it, so you have the option to order more or switch things up and diversify the portfolio. Fish tacos in particular are healthy, light and refreshing. The perfect mid-afternoon snack. Heading uptown to catch wreck on some Charles' fried chicken at 7? A 3 pm fish taco will hold you down. It's a shame they aren't more prevalent in the Big Apple. NYC is a harbor city you know.

Pinche Taqueria and La Esquina Taqueria are 4 blocks from each other. Prime time taqueria territory. There is another Pinche on Mott between Prince & Spring but I like to move in straight lines- rook status. Closer to a subway too.

Let the battle begin...

La Esquina's Pescado A Las Brasas Taco

This taco consists of grilled market fish with shredded cabbage, red onion and salsa verde ($3.95). The operative word is grilled. It is healthier than the fried version below, but doesn't help much when it comes to taste. The fish has a burnt, acidic, bitter essence. It's not charred, cooked very well in fact, but this underlying unpleasant taste overpowers every bite. Even the accompanying cabbage and salsa couldn't provide a fresh experience, something fish tacos usually do.

Served on a 6" taco, the chunk of fish is dwarfed by the tortilla. 6" taco with a 2.5" chunk of meat. Hmmmm. That means 3"s of just shell and cabbage. It's a rather hefty chunk of fish, and could easily be sliced in half to cover the entire surface area, but isn't. Honestly though, based on the taste it's probably better served in limited portions.

Pinche Taqueria's Taco de Pescado

Line caught mahi-mahi served on a slightly smaller tortilla with cabbage, chopped onion, cilantro and a smooth bright green cilantro dressing. Flavors upon flavors. Textures upon textures. The slender piece of fish is lightly fried having a nice crunchy shell. The fish remains moist and flaky. The fried aspect might irk a few, but the enjoyment and satisfaction should make up for your health quirks.

As mentioned in previous posts, I'm a sucker for cilantro. It adds a clean, cool dimension. And that's exactly how it went down. Big said it best, Cool as a fan, fish tac in hand... No matter what wonders cilantro can do, I don't think it would have helped Esquina's taco.

As a bonus I got Pinche's taco de camaron. Ocean caught shrimp served in similar fashion to the fish, just not fried. Pleasant flavors but over-cooked. A bit dry. For what it's worth several people mentioned that the Mott St. location executes the scrimp taco better.

I like the fact that both spots appear to use fresh, high quality ingredients. Since both places are made to order the wait is usually 5-10 minutes depending on the crowd. But the similarities end there. When it comes to flavor, Pinche is overwhelmingly ahead. El Rey del Taco de Pescados.

View Larger Map

La Esquina Taqueria (A)
114 Kenmare St. on corner of Centre St.
NY, NY 10012
Mon - Sun 12 pm - 1:30 am

Pinche Taqueria (B)
333 Lafayette St. off Bleeker St.
NY, NY 10012
Sun - Thurs 10:30 am - 11 pm
Fri- Sat 10:30 am - 12 am