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how did you become a foodie?

i stumbled upon this board by accident and now I'm curious to try things like foie grass, cassoulet, and such.

the thing is, my friends are picky and only eat same 5 or 6 dishes in restaurants.

so I was curious about where to start exploring these fancy dishes. i don't have much to spend, maybe $30-$50 before drinks and tip.

thanks.

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  1. Great topic re: where to try dishes though I find your subject line a little misleading -- you want recs, not people's personal histories. This has little to do with being/not being a foodie per se...

    Are you OK dining alone at the bar?

    I might also make a list of what foods you wish to try: foie gras, oysters, lobster, truffles, poussin, etc. If you can list them all out, we can maybe recommend places that do them really well.

    Also are you thinking you'd sit at the bar and order 1 dish just to try it, or is $50 for a full meal?

    In general, in your price range, I'd definitely look at Louro, Momofuku Ssam, Pearl & Ash, Public, etc.

    1 Reply
    1. Good topic, but not all who are interested in food think of themselves as a "foodie." A good way to experiment without spending much is at a place which offers "small plates." A Spanish version of this is a "tapas bar." There are also "raw bars" and other forms of small plates. Counter seating is ideal for this type of food.

      Interesting food need be neither "fancy" nor expensive.

      1. I'd suggest the foie gras tasting at Paradou (8 Little West 12th St). If you book on Savored, you can get a 30% discount.

        1. Eating things like "foie grass [sic]" and "cassoulet" does not make one a foodie, nor does eating "fancy dishes."

          A foodie, for me at least, is more a state of mind (an intrepid culinary mentality, if you will) than simply have a running compendium of different foodstuffs one has put into their mouths.

          I think you become a "foodie" (whatever that may mean) by simply stepping out of your comfort zone to explore the different, unique and wonderful dining nooks and crannies this great city has to offer -- be it that new kebab cart on such and such intersection, or that Monkey Nipples dish made with pomegranate nectar at the latest restaurant in the Meatpacking District.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ipsedixit

            "I think you become a "foodie" (whatever that may mean) by simply stepping out of your comfort zone to explore the different, unique and wonderful dining nooks and crannies this great city has to offer -- be it that new kebab cart on such and such intersection, or that Monkey Nipples dish made with pomegranate nectar at the latest restaurant in the Meatpacking District."

            That sounds like exactly what the OP is trying to do. foie grass, cassoulet, and such look like they're just examples, not required items.

          2. Do lunch at Jean Georges and get the foie gras brûlée. Then try Benoit for the cassoulet. Both are the best versions in NYC and easily within your budget.

            2 Replies
            1. re: MrGrumpy

              I second that... the JG foie gras brulee is AMAZING!!

              1. re: silencespeak

                I agree JG foie gras is quite amazing. But for OP, a less expensive excellent seared foie gras can be had at Cercle Rouge.
                Greenwich Grill put foie gras back on their menu. It is a good dish there. OP may find other interesting dishes there too.
                Paradou as another CH'er suggested is a good choice for foie gras. They have the various foie gras tastings. WOW, 30% off on Savored, that's a great tip.

            2. I think this is really several questions, all interesting. But maybe it should be more than one thread.

              Title: How did you become a foodie? Well, first, I'd define "foodie" not necessarily as someone who eats unusual or expensive dishes (although they may) but as someone who cares a lot about what they eat, in particular, that it taste really good (as opposed to it being "in" or expensive or whatever). Finding the best dumplings in Chinatown at a buck or so a dumpling is a foodie thing to do. Eating at Per Se because you want to impress a date that you are really rich is not a foodie thing to do.

              I think I was born this way.

              Then there's an implied question (at least, it seems to me) of how to eat with friends who are picky. There are many restaurants that have some very "common" or generally acceptable dishes, along with their more unusual ones. E.g., in an Italian restaurant, it is quite likely that there will be some sort of "pasta with tomato sauce" on the menu, along with whatever else.

              Another option is to try to get your friends to be less picky. That may not be possible.

              The third question is where to eat things like foie gras and cassoulet on a budget and possible alone. That's already getting lots of answer.

              1 Reply
              1. re: plf515

                'Another option is to try to get your friends to be less picky. That may not be possible.'

                I think a lot of people here eat out alone not because they don't have friends but they don't have enough friends who have enough passion about food as they do.

                I learned to approciate good food during college years. one of my college friends was already a foodie so even though we were not rich, we'd spend our 90% of our spending money on food. We often dined at high fancy restaurants.. I was always working during college years so I wasn't exactly poor by college students' standard but I really didn't feel like eating well was a waste of money. A lot of friends bought expensive bags and shoes if they had extra money but I went out to eat fancy food at fancy restaurants if I had money. Always made me happy.
                Even now, I don't eat plain old sandwiches for lunch. I go out of my ways, i take subways.I walk 20 min to get the best food I can eat for lunch. This is why I often eat alone because no one in my office is willing to take subway or walk 20 min for lunch. THey obviously don't know the reward and satisfaction i get from eating good tasty food.

              2. another option open to you would be to put together a meal at home. Epicerie Boulud has an excellent cheese case, great baguette, foie gras, various pates (some with truffles), and other what you might call foodie favorites. you don't necessarily have to spend a lot of money or subject your friends to a fear-inducing meal in order to try a few new things.

                1. I think my mom had something to do with it. She was a terrible cook, and now I'm racing against time trying to catch up...

                  Being a foodie to me is not about eating foie gras and truffles. Its about feeling the urge to try and appreciate different things, whether its foie, or the new corner halal stand

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Ziggy41

                    "I think my mom had something to do with it. She was a terrible cook, and now I'm racing against time trying to catch up..."
                    LOL, my Jewish husband said the samething...so freakin hilarious!!
                    Did your mom keep kosher? My husband said that his mom used to cut a big 2 inch chunk of beef salami between 2 dry rye bread for his lunch at school..
                    last meal my MIL served me was defrosted spinach pie with still frozen center with extra shaved ice in it. Cold inside and warm outside...not to be mean, I tried my best to eat 2 slices saying it's good...she said, oh, I am so glad you like it, here take home two more pies..i threw it out once I got home.

                    1. re: Monica

                      Buddy Hackett said that when he entered the army, he went to sick bay because "the fire in my stomach went out"

                        1. re: Monica

                          Monica, dont know how I missed this... LOL

                          My mom didnt keep Kosher but I wish she did, anything really would have been an improvement. I grew up thinking that I hate seafood and a steak should have a texture of a hockey puck. Even nowadays she gives me food advice (she has no idea about my eating habits). 5 years ago when we went to Aruba, where my parents frequent she insisted that I must order my eggs from a particular place "Vell Done", and same for the pasta

                      1. For me a real "foodie" is someone with a broad, multi-cultural palate.

                        Travel is essential, but for the moment don't limit yourself to French dishes like foie and cassoulet.

                        Explore the great variety of cuisines available in NYC.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: peter j

                          SO true! I wouldn't be jealous of French people if I didn't go to France to actually taste the food they are eating. so so good. I always thought of French food as greasy butter based food that was served in small serving on a large plate.

                          1. re: peter j

                            I gotta say, if you had to explore the world's cuisines, and could only do it one city, NYC might be the best pick.

                            Sure, London has better Indian; some west coast cities have better of certain Asian cuisines; etc.

                            But overall? I love New York!

                          2. Just be aware that foodies need to exercise twice as much in order to stay fit. Foie gras and cassoulet have a billion calories. And once you start trying charcuterie, cheeses, desserts...

                            1. I tend to see and use 3 definitions of 'foodie', each a subset of the one before, and arguably with increasing pejorative connotations.

                              The OED defines 'foodie' as someone with a 'particular interest in food' [the first citation is of Gael Greene from 1980]. In that sense, almost anyone who bothers posting on Chowhound probably qualifies.

                              The second usage has very strong implications that the 'foodie' is concerned with authenticity, novelty, legitimacy, etc, ie many of the cultural attributes that we tend to privilege in the modern West. I suspect Chowhound, especially in its older incarnations, had a strong influence on the rise of this cultural archetype [think outer boroughs, ethnic cuisine, the Empanada Lady].

                              This shades over into the third usage, which is the 'foodie' as a variant of, yes, the 'hipster'. What you envisage when you read the conjunction of the words 'artisanal' and 'Brooklyn', or last year's -New York- magazine article on 'Foodie-ism, as youth culture':

                              http://nymag.com/restaurants/features...

                              On Friday, I dined at The Elm [a restaurant which seems underappreciated on Chowhound], and the waiter accused me of being a foodie. I disavow this label because I think I lack both the catholicity of taste and the particularity of interest or learning to qualify under any of these definitions [except perhaps def 1 in its broadest sense].

                              I enjoy food very much, but I doubt this differentiates me from most human beings. As a middle-class person in the modern West, I can indulge my enjoyment of food to an extent that only the upper classes in most societies throughout history could have even imagined. I think this hints that a key aspect of the modern 'foodie' is the role of -cultural privilege-. Food and being able to enjoy the right food the right way is an expression and confirmation of cultural superiority [is it any wonder that the hipsters have taken it up?].

                              I am [to some people] a 'foodie' because I grew up with a functional nose and palate, because my mother was a substandard cook, and because the wider society was changing in its relationship with food, and this was increasingly evident in our mass media. Even now there isn't very much a Chowhound would find worth eating in the town I grew up, but anyone there can read -The New York Times-, watch Food TV and -Top Chef-, and log on to Eater, Le Fooding, Chowhound, etc.

                              I suspect the critical factor in my life was that I'm sensitive to cultural differences and especially cultural hierarchies. I'm an immigrant, a lower-middle class kid who went to an elite uni, etc etc. Demonstrating an appreciation for food is a way of fitting in and getting on, and in many ways much more accessible than other forms of leisure/consumption [clothes, art, travel].

                              1. I'll second the commenter who suggested tapas - you can try a lot of interesting items for not a lot of cash.

                                Not sure of your neighborhood but there's a fun new spot on the UWS called Casa Pomona that has plenty of reasonably exciting selections, e.g. octopus, oxtail, white anchovies, grilled sardines, blood sausage and charcuterie, that are very approachable.

                                More broadly, as others have noted, you need a willingness/eagerness to explore - high-end restaurants will have superb food, but venturing into ethnic enclaves and traveling is how you'll broaden your culinary horizons.

                                1. If you want to try affordable French food, you could visit Jeanne et Gaston in the West Village. They've $30 and $40 menus of fairly traditional cuisine.

                                  http://jeanneandgaston.com/menu/dinner/

                                  http://www.pinkpignyc.com/at_the_sign...

                                  Also, the lunches at New York's 'haute cuisine' restaurants are often very affordable. There are $40 lunch menus at Del Posto [Italian, of course] and Jean Georges.

                                  1. If you have picky friends you can take them to any one of the restaurants operated Mario Batali, Daniel Boulud, or Tom Colicchio, all of which feature a range of menu items suitable for conservative and adventurous diners. USHG as well, with the exception of The Modern.

                                    FWIW 'foodie' now has a negative connotation in certain circles. See: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define...