Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Quick Hits & Check Ins - Classical Theater Company of Harlem, Superiority Burger & ChikaLicious

It is finally summer in the city. We are more than halfway through July, just survived our first major heat wave and have another one on the horizon. Blink and it will be August. If you have not started checking off items on your summer to do list now is the time. There is an endless list of options to get you outdoors, especially in the evening as temperatures cool down.

Every borough has multiple free movie screenings covering most days of the week. You can watch a movie on the beach in Coney Island on Monday, a comedy on the East River at Solar 1 on Tuesday, hit McCarren Park on Wednesday, Tompkins Square Park on Thursday and River Flicks on Pier 54 on Friday. That just scratches the surface. Summer concerts abound. I have seen Ray LaMontagne as a part of Celebrate Brooklyn at the Prospect Park Bandshell and Indigo Girls at Summer Stage in Central Park. I am seeing Ryan Adams at Summer Stage tonight and plan on seeing Alpha Blondy in Marcus Garvey Park in August, also a part of Summer Stage.

Summer is fleeting. Make a plan and get outside. Here are a few suggestions of things to try before we hit Labor Day.

Classical Theater Company of Harlem's Macbeth


Shakespeare in The Park is a long tradition in New York City. Unfortunately, unless you are willing to get up at 5am or hire the homeless to wait on line it is a challenge to get tickets to a show at the Delacourte Theater in Central Park. Fear not, for the Classical Theater of Harlem is putting on a vibrant production of Macbeth at Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem through July 31. This ninety minute production features dance, music, a few choice topical references and strong performances. The performances are free and take place in the renovated Richard Rodgers Amphitheater, with plentiful bench seating and great sight lines. It is a night out that is perfect for the family and Red Rooster is only a few blocks away. This is my new summer Shakespeare tradition.

Macbeth - Marcus Garvey Park - West 122 Street and Mt Morris Park West - Free

Classical Theater Company of Harlem -

Sloppy Dave - Superiority Burger

The Sloppy Dave, a Sloppy Joe with a twist and fried onion upgrade.

Superiority Burger opened in a small space on east 9th Street with much hype & early praise. This vegetarian and accidentally vegan restaurant has the feel of an old school burger take out joint and features a vegetarian burger on the menu. A night out with a vegetarian friend inspired a visit. I did not have much interest in the burger but the Sloppy Dave piqued my interest. For those of a certain generation the mention of a Sloppy Joe brings back very specific memories, especially of school lunch. Most modern versions miss the mark, either too sweet, not enough bite or forgoing the requisite ground beef texture. I was curious how close the Sloppy Dave, a tofu version, could even come. Simply stated, it hit the bullseye.

The Sloppy Dave is a little smaller than the Sloppy Joe's of memory but is comes on a soft, seeded hamburger bun, toasted & perfect. The texture is close to ground beef but the key is the sauce, which is the perfect balance of lightly sweet, ketchupy flavor and a solid, spicy bite. It drips out of the bun and onto your hand, as it should, and features a very welcome upgrade, frizzled onions, crispy fried onions that split the difference between onion rings and the canned fried onions my mom used to use to dress up numerous dishes. All thoughts of tofu go out the window as the joy of a Sloppy Joe from the memory banks washes over you.

It has been a week since I had the Sloppy Dave and the highest praise I can give it is that it has joined the ranks of things that I crave, and unlike the memories of dishes from my youth, this is one craving I can satisfy.

Superiority Burger - 430 East 9th Street btwn 1st Avenue & Avenue A -

Nutty Professor coneChurro at ChikaLicious -

ChikaLicious has been on the sweet tooth radar for some time. I have written about it in the past. There are two locations across the street from each other on East 10th Street. The Dessert Bar is a formal sit down dessert bar featuring a Prix Fixe and wine parings. Its sibling across the street is the Dessert Club, the informal take out dessert spot featuring ice cream and pastries. ChikaLicious made its name a few years ago when it had the brilliant idea to use an empty eclair shell as a cone for their excellent soft serve. They have raised the game with the coneCHURRO, a hollowed out churro used as a cone.

To be honest, the coneCHURRO is not really a churro. What is really is is some of the best, flakiest pie crust somehow made into a cone with the outside coated in the fried cinnamon of a churro. So, yeah, it is still fantastic.

There are about eight different coneCHURRO combinations with names like The Jheri Curl and Twinkle Sprinkle that can appeal to just about any taste. I went with the Nutty Professor. It is described as follows:

Nutella smeared inner cone, brown sugar pecan rim, Vanilla Bean soft serve, toasted almonds, Nutella drizzle and frosted pecan top. Imagine a the Good Humor Toasted Almond ice cream bar x10 and you have an idea how good it is. There are about five more coneChurros I am dying to try. Thank goodness it is ice cream season.

ChikaLicious Dessert Club - 204 East 10th Street between 1st & 2nd Avenue -

Regardless of where you live of or what you like to do, summer in New York has something for you, from a churro filled with ice cream to a creative staging of Shakespeare in one of New York's many parks. Find something that appeals and get outside.