December in Manhattan

Vignettes on punishers at Minetta Tavern, kishus, pizza, dates, and eating chaat in the trunk

It was 26 degrees outside but we went to Minetta Tavern because I wanted a burger. I hadn’t had a beef burger in a long time. I guess I did have one this past summer, still kind of a long time ago, but it was at home. It was surprisingly warm under the overhead heater and there was plexiglass in between us and the table that otherwise would’ve been spitting distance away. I wish there had been plexiglass between us and the table behind me since three very loud finance guys were practically screaming about their 30 thousand dollar positions in something or other. They totally ruined the vibe. The burger was rich and satisfying. The fries were almost perfect but a tad too oily. It was served with Heinz ketchup on the side, thank god. I think I’m good for a while on both of those foods although I’m sure I’ll have fries again like next week. Also I had a Manhattan, which I always order with bourbon and not rye because I don’t like rye.

My friend Ana Clare sent me kishus from San Francisco. They’re tiny little mandarin oranges. You can fit five in the palm of your hand. They’re sweet, a tad sour, and juicy. You’d think they’d be hard to peel because they’re so small but it’s as easy as peeling a clementine. When you lay a slice on your tongue then squish down it feels like you’re eating miniature food. She must’ve sent me at least 40. I love to get unconventional gifts. Who doesn’t?

I finally tried the Momofuku Ko pizza and immediately recalled Pizza Hut. This pizza is not like other New York pizzas. It’s more American than it is Italian. We got the spicy tomato pie with capicola. The crust was fluffy in certain parts almost doughy but the entire parameter was shatteringly crispy, they must put some kind of wash on the upper crust, and maybe even stick the whole pie in the broiler for a bit? The malty honey notes are heavy, both on top and in the dough like a Montreal bagel, and the umami is dialed up in the tomato sauce, which is more sugar than acid. It’s a garlicky pizza served with garlicky ranch sauce to dip your crusts in. The dish is really something you ought to try.

I know it gets hype and respect and attention and is owned by a celebrity chef and all, but I hold firm that Ko is underrated. 

A date a day keeps the doctor away. They do not say this, but according to this “evidence based” Healthline article, dates are quite good for you. Eight proven benefits include that they are “very nutritious,” “high in fiber,” and contain “disease-fighting antioxidants.” I’ve been eating a date a day because I love them, but only the really good kind. The best dates I’ve ever had I got from the Mar Vista farmers market in LA. Sadly I don’t remember the farm’s name. Anyway, I recently picked up a pack of Del Real Organic Medjools, maybe my new favorite brand, from LifeThyme Market on 6th Avenue and hand-picked my own jumbo Medjools from a giant jar at Kalustyan’s, possibly the best grocery store in all of NYC, so my supply is healthy.

All this time during covid I’ve thought the hood of your car is useful for eating takeout off of, but I realize now it makes more sense to open your trunk and sit with your legs dangling off. This is what we did while we snacked on chaat from Rajbhog Sweets after acquiring a refurbished record console from a Danish furniture dealer in Jersey City.

Panettone remains the #1 best December food.


If you’re a longtime reader of Some Meals you’ve noticed I’m toying with a new style. Surprise! Expect more of it in 2021.

I put together this list of neighborhood bakeries as promised. If anyone has ideas on how to make it cooler or more useful, drop me a line.

Happy holidays! 


I’m @emilyjwils on Twitter & Instagram.