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Blood...I Need Blood...

  • j
  • j gold Dec 4, 1999 07:53 PM
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A couple of nights ago, I ended up at Les Halles, the French steakhouse on lower Park, and I had a pretty good time. The hanger steak was as sanguine as it had to be, without the rank, livery flavor I sometimes associate with the cut. The duck confit salad--my lord, what a salad!--was the sort of thing you inhale so quickly that you barely remember eating it, apart from fleeting visions of salt, crunch, bittersweet endive and a massive heap of tiny, cubed potatoes sauteed into supernal, greasy crispness, in what I assume was about a quart of duck fat. But the restaurant was out of blood sausage. The only dish I ever order there. The reason I jump into a cab, scoot across town and wait 40 minutes in a crowded, pashamina-infected bar where the cigarette smoke is as thick as butter on bread. Les Halles running out of blood sausage is like Donovan's running out of cheeseburgers, like Nathan's running out of hot dogs, like Le Bernardin running out of fish. And although I liked my bloodless meal, I couldn't help thinking the entire time that I should have cut and run when the waiter came out of the kitchen with the bad news. What would you have done?

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  1. in earlier times, i would've bolted. but i'm trying to cure myself of ordering pretty much the same meal every time at my favourite restaurants. as my wife calls it, its the 'if its saturday, it must be shawarma at karam' syndrome. so if they are out of what i've come there for, then its a good chance to guiltlessly try a different meal without any of the 'i KNEW i should have got the..' self accusations.

    4 Replies
    1. re: howler
      d
      dave feldman

      There is something wonderful, though, about going to a place that has one dish that you love, and knowing not only that you will be satisfied, but knowing that you have obtained the best possible food out of the kitchen. So I know Jonathan's reaction well.

      But I'm with you. I try my best to wander around menus. Almost always, it's a mistake

      1. re: dave feldman

        Having braved the smoke and the concussion grenade of sound at Les Halles, I would have thought twice about satisfying my blood sausage jones there to begin with.

        Much better morcilla (home/handmade) can be had at Cuchifritos 116, 116th St. between Lex & 3rd.It costs a dollar, I think. Also oreja, lengua, and other parts of a pig's inner self. This place is near La Marqueta, which was as close to the real Les Halles as New York ever got.

        1. re: Jon Wolfe

          I'm as much into the authenticity trip as anybody, but Les Halles seems to me to be as authentically French as Cuchifritos 116 is Caribbean, and dining in a smoky room with a lot of French-speaking people is as defensible a lifestyle choice as eating in a place that looks a lot like KFC with Spanish-speaking people. Les Halles' blood sausage is undeniable, easily the best I've had outside of France. Morcilla can be great, but it is a different animal.

          1. re: j gold

            But they never run out of morcilla at Cuchifritos 116.

    2. jonathan,

      i've been meaning to post to you for a while about blood sausage but never managed to get around to it. anyways, i was researching les halles here a couple months back and noticed your love of them.

      well, you probably know this already, but koreans make a blood sausage as well that some people just love. it's called soon-dae. i've only had it once here in manhattan (i'm not a real fan) at gam mee ok on 32nd (the place known for its sol rong tang and kimchi). but i also noticed it on the menu the other night at abb goo jung (also on 32nd b/w 5th and broadway). i'm sure you can find it at other places but i haven't noticed it anywhere else. so i guess the next time that happens to you at les halles, just walk up about 5 blocks and head west a couple and you're good to go! sorry i didn't write you earlier.

      here's a tip: for some reason, korean men love eating soon-dae with some good strong soju. i've talked earlier about how the stuff is hard for me to take (couple bad experiences), but i think you should be okay if you get a premium brand as the quality's gone up a bit. good luck and let me know if you actually do try it.

      wonki

      16 Replies
      1. re: wonki

        The North Korean place Robert Sietsema reviwed also served the blood sausage.....

        And speaking of blood, is there anyplace that serves Czarnina, Polish sweet and sour ducks blood soup? You used to be able to get it at Baltyk on 1st and 1st.

        1. re: Alan Divack

          Alan,

          Ahhh, Baltyk. I used to love that place. I had so many funny moments there: ordering a Coke and watching them pour totally flat cola from a two-liter bottle from the tiny refrigerator at the bar; ordering a beer and watching the bartender ask a busboy to go to the store and buy a beer; ordering potato pancakes and listening to the sound of the cook hand-grating the potatoes (that's not a funny moment -- just a wonderful one); and the weird accordian player.

          And I miss the bigos there. It was my favorite Polish in the city, better than Teresa's or Just Like Mother's, in my opinion. Have you or anyone else found a replacement?

          1. re: Dave Feldman

            It is I believe irreplaceable.

            I remember fondly not only the duck's blood soup, but their hot borsht (a clear powerfully meaty beet broth seasonsed with allspice ) and zurek ( a white sauerkraut soup with slices of fried kielbasa on top).

            I used to like Christine's and Adam's (good soups and stuffed breast of veal) in midtown, but both are now gone as well, and neither could compare to Baltyk for either food or experience. I don't know the Brooklyn Polish places, and don't get to the East Village much, but I can't imagine anything quite like Baltyk.

        2. re: wonki

          I like soon dae, although my favorite tipple with it is dong dong ju (come to think of it, I haven't found a good dong dong ju in NY). The version at Sietsema's North Korean place is pretty good, if bespeaking its sanguinary origins a little too flagrantly.

          1. re: j gold

            dude, you never cease to amaze me.

            well, have you ever tried mak-kal-lee? it's milky colored and sweet and you stir it with your pinky before drinking. good stuff. that's probably my favorite korean alcohol, though i've never had it here.
            don't know where you can get good dong dong ju either.
            wonki

            1. re: wonki

              I guess a thread that starts with blood inevitably has to come around to liquor.

              Anyway...dong dong ju....mak-kak-lee....!!...you guys have got me totally fascinated. So, if anyone ever feels like writing up a primer on Korean tipples--in the spirit of the amazing Korean food posts by Wonki & Michael Yu--you've got an audience of at least one hanging on your every word.

              Thinking About Liquor More Than One Should Be At Work,
              Steven

              1. re: Steven Stern

                well, it's 10:00 on a friday and i'm drinking more liquor than i should be at work, or maybe not enough (just kidding, boss).

                i'll leave the korean alcohol bit to michael and/or jonathan. my advice is go with one of the easier ones first to try - dong dong ju, mak-kal-lee (makgoli) or chongjong (pretty much like sake), and save soju for later, unless you want the flavored variety (for wimps like me). but wait to hear what those guys have to say as well. if they don't, i'll do my best, though i haven't touched the stuff in a while (other than the flavored soju). i sure miss makkalee though and thanks to alan, i may load up on some for old time's sake.

                take care and good luck. glad you enjoyed the korean food postings.

                wonki

                1. re: wonki

                  I can't believe I missed this thread...I'll post something on the General Section now. It's hilarious though, thinking of all these people stirring their makguhlli with their pinkies! I have not seen anyone BUT wonki do that! My belly aches in laughter!!!

                  Michael Yu

                  1. re: Michael Yu

                    DUDE! that's the way the pros do it! :-)

              2. re: wonki

                i have had that stuff (spelled i think Magkoli); at both Cho Dang Gol and Hangawi -- it goes down easy and really sneaks up on you

                forgot to stir with my pinky though-- maybe next time

                1. re: Alan Divack

                  hey alan, you have got to stir with your pinky. and then lick it when you're done. i'd pay to see the waitress's jaw drop when you do that. believe me, they'll be impressed. :-)

                  wonki

                  by the way, did you ever got to check out that north korean place?

                  1. re: wonki

                    I haven't tried the North Korean place yet -- my time has been very short, butI hope to get over there in January.

                    1. re: wonki

                      Re using the pinky: do you stir the whole serving container, or just your own cup?

                      1. re: Alan Divack

                        just the cup, dude, just the cup. :-)

                  2. re: wonki

                    I lived in L.A.'s Koreatown for almost a dozen years, and the Jinro joints were definitely the best places to get a drink (also maybe a bowl of spicy stingray stew) at 1:30 in the morning. (My favorite, since deceased, served homemade dong dong ju in a dried calabash. And the first time I had sojuk, at a black-goat specialty restaurant, I thought it was illegal hootch because they brought it to the table in dainty teapots.) Never had mak-kal-lee though. It sounds right up my alley. I'll ask around for it in L.A. when I go back for a few days later this month.

                    1. re: j gold

                      aha! well, that explains it. l.a. k-town for 12 years is pretty hardcore. i definitely never had black goat.

                      yeah, definitely get some mak-kal-lee next time you're there. they must have the real thing out there. but be careful, alan's right, that stuff sneaks up on you. it doesn't taste very strong but it packs a punch after a while.

                      wonki