Eight New Enthusiasms

It’s been more than two years since I gathered together a bunch of things I can heartily recommend—not a bad exercise in general, and especially on the ever-negative Internet. I’ve tried not to include stuff I’ve already enthused about here and there (such as the selection of salad greens at Eataly), and they’re not necessarily specific to this area.


Do you ever walk by a pretzel cart and wish the pretzels were actually good? I do, all the time, in part because now that I try to eat less and less meat, I have fewer opportunities to enjoy mustard. I love the pretzel at Blaue Gans, but $7 is a bit much and it’s hard to order as a snack. So I was delighted by the $3 pretzel at Baked. When they ask if you want it heated up, say yes. (I’d prefer brown mustard to Dijon, but I cope.)


Unless it’s peony season, I typically buy flowers only for holidays or when we’re having people over. But the oversize bud vase from Stillfried Wien sitting empty in our living room was bumming me out. (There’s a little rubber ring for the heavy base to rest on, so the vase can be angled any direction.) I kept intending to pick up a philodendron leaf or something…. Then I wandered into Canal Street Market and asked the folks at Fox Fodder Farm. It’s amazing what a single flower can do for a room—and a mood. First we tried spirea, then a very tall calla lily for Easter. Last time, the staffer suggested this protea, which was more expensive ($30) than I’d normally spend, but it should last for months, possibly even a year. P.S. The vase is on sale.


My other Canal Street Market obsession is Dandy Farmer, which sells bonsai. I bought Adam one for Christmas, and I’d buy us more if we had outdoor space. (Some of the most interesting specimens like to winter outside.) We’ve also given two as gifts, including the one above.


I can only handle Zucker’s if there’s three or fewer people in line, so I tend to buy bagels in bulk and freeze them. And until I tried Catsmo, I never found a packaged smoked salmon that I liked. (Too slimy.) As a result, smoked salmon—along with our flowers, as described above—was limited to special occasions. Recently I’ve only seen Catsmo’s large packages at Whole Foods, but Eataly tends to have the ones with two to three servings. As with everything at Eataly, check the sell-by date before you commit.


Netflix is maddening for anyone who loves excellent movies—by which I mean old, independent, and/or foreign ones—and the way the company is pushing its own content, I don’t expect that to improve anytime soon. Enter Filmstruck, a value at $99 a year (if you want to access the Criterion Collection, too, and you do), given the quality of films. Plus: There’s a free 14-day trial.


When I need to get out of the apartment neighborhood, I often walk up to Marta, where I sit at the bar and have the Marta Mista salad and a margherita pizza. And every time the bill comes, I’m utterly delighted that I don’t have to tip. I feel this way at Marta’s sister North End Grill as well, although a little less: The restaurant seems to be having a harder time retaining servers who can make more elsewhere, and for gratuity-included billing to work, the service has to be close to flawless. Similarly, the city’s plan to force Uber to add tipping functionality—a massive governmental overreach—will mess with the app’s appeal, at least for me. When I’m done—at a restaurant or with a car ride—I just want to leave.


Rancho Gordo‘s dried beans are so much better than anything you’ll find in the supermarket. (I still can’t believe Whole Foods stocks Goya.) They’re creamier and more delicious and they take less long to cook, presumably because they weren’t harvested three years ago. I don’t even soak them; I just put ’em in the Crock-Pot for a few hours. While you can find Rancho Gordo here and there, such as at Court Street Grocers, the best varieties—such as the white beans called Marcella, after cookbook writer Marcella Hazan—are only online. The Marcellas are sold out for this year, so get on the email list to find out when the next ones are available.


I meant to write up my trip to South Africa and Namibia, but I never got around to it. (I’m happy to email suggestions to anyone thinking of heading that way.) What more recommendation do you need than the above photo? That’s me at Sossusvlei in Namibia, halfway up the dune called Big Daddy.


••• A Dozen New Enthusiasms: November 2015
••• Eight New Enthusiasms: March 2012
••• Eight New Enthusiasms: December 2011
••• Eight New Enthusiasms: July 2011
••• Eight New Enthusiasms: April 2011



  1. Why are you saying that you are trying to eat less and less meat when you have said in past articles that you don’t eat much meat to begin with?

  2. So you’re a cheapass that doesn’t like to tip? You deserve the poor service

    • The prices are higher, so that they include a tip (and the folks in the kitchen make more as a result). I’m actually a pretty generous tipper, but, no, I’m not fond of the process.

    • The intention of the “service included” restaurant system is to achieve fairer distribution of compensation for all staff which, in part, allows the business to hire and retain qualified and committed people both front and back of house. If it works as intended, the business will be healthier, the food better and the service excellent. It’s an industry experiment which I hope succeeds.

  3. Great article Erik. So lucky to have Tribeca Citizen :)

  4. great pics – thanks! It’s like looking at my neighborhood again with fresh eyes…and I think we share some fondnesses (first of all, for pretzels.)

  5. oh, by “pics” I guess I meant “picks”…oops.

  6. One more reason you just can’t stop! So many good ideas here. I wouldn’t even know about sumo oranges if it weren’t for you.