A timeline of me, NYC, food, some girls, and eventually my Swiss-induced retirement.
November 11, 2003 – start work in NYC for USD27,000/year. Before living here I had only been to NYC a few times post-high school, the first and most infamous of which was paid for by a dot-bomb named Nibblebox. Prior to that I had only done the midwestern tourist midtown shopping thing (RIP, Virgin Megastore). I didn’t eat out all the time at this point, but when I did it was usually dinner at Mandoo Bar on the way back to GCT.
January 1, 2004 – Lease begins in Park Slope, which means I am $700/month+tax poorer in cash for living in NYC, but infinitely spiritually richer for not living in Westchester. Nonetheless, a tight budget is needed (and frequently not adhered to). During this era, I remember a chequered dating history, including the ex-girlFriendster story (I did make it up to her later, in a long epilogue to a short relationship involving amazing food outside of Como), lots of partying, and frequent patronage of a panini place on 5th Avenue. Also an abortive 6 month stint in Windsor Terrace – Little Tonino’s Pizza was the high point, burrito delivery from Prospect Park West a close second.
Summer 2005 – Move out of Windsor Terrace to Boerum Hill and meet girl writer, with first date at NYC Milkshake Company (now closed) on St. Marks. 2nd date frolic at Rockaway on my 24th birthday, ending with a bacon-wrapped wiener at Crif Dog (this is not a euphemism). It was a very optimistic time!
September 2005 – While we are sitting in a (now closed) restaurant in Brooklyn called Blue Star, she suggests that I start writing a blog – about us doing what we did as a couple, which was basically to go to a ton of outer borough ethnic restaurants, guided by the various writings of Robert Sietsema. The stated goal of the blog was to review every one of Sietsema’s then-recent Top 100 Cheap Eats NYC list, which eventually morphs into a more broad goal of covering NYC’s cheap eats scene (listed or not). Sietsema is clearly the patron saint.
September 26 2005 – First post
November 3, 2005 – Thanks to gf’s freelancing we are invited to the launch of the first-ever Michelin NYC guide at the Guggenheim Museum, which I then blog about.
November 4, 2005 – Shit blows up – Gawker links to me in their snark-coverage of the Michelin launch and my traffic goes bonkers (can’t find link, sadly). They would continue to occasionally toss me a link when our respective worlds aligned (see here for one example).
November 17, 2005 – Yahoo! makes me a new and notable site on their index. Which even at the time was slightly outdated, but it did make traffic spike. Around this time was clearly the peak in terms of both fun and output, and at the time I was sorely tempted to try and make a career as a writer. (2008’s economic meltdown makes my decision not to a good idea in retrospect.)
January 3, 2006 – I post a “welcome back from the holidays” takedown of a positively awful Mexican place on Court St. Because of my intro mentioning the “overpriced and underdelicious” previous week’s meals, I get a irritated note from a relative of mine who was the purchaser of said meals. (No, I’m not going to post it.) The first time blogging wasn’t fun, but not the last!
Valentine’s Day, 2006 – Girlfriend has a microtantrum that we are in Queens eating Filipino barbecue on Valentine’s Day instead of something more romantic. Food was killer. For whatever reason (I only can guess!) I didn’t post about it, but I did post an oblique reference.
March 15, 2006 – first “fuck the haters” post (inspired by the first hate-post from another blogger). Yes, the rot has already set in. Around this time I am also starting to get feelers about a job in Switzerland.
Early April 2006 – Trip to Belgium with girlfriend. I may no longer be with that girl, but I’ll still ride for Belgium. Great place, great people. A photo is even posted with the roundup article, which is rare for me.
April 19, 2006 – After a meal at Cafe Istanbul, I
amble with force-march my girlfriend from Sheepshead Bay to Rockaway over the Gil Hodges bridge. She was wearing flip flops and was not a happy camper. Not long after (but for more complicated reasons than just blisters) I broke up with her, which presented a problem for the blog as I’d lost my dining partner and chief publicist and encourager. Whatever our problems were she was really great at both of those things, and this blog wouldn’t exist without her and her encouragement (thanks, Care – I still have the map and pins somewhere). Being now single and unattached, and having always been underemployed, I also decided to pursue the Swiss opportunity with vigor. Post volume thins out from here as I concentrate on organizing group excursions, as well as networking with other foodies.
April 26, 2006 – Funny to read my 2006-era semi-takedown of the LES. Let me tell you, more than 5 years later, it’s way worse. (Also, in 2003, I definitely was a turd.) You can tell I was single again because there are no girlfriend references and I said I was out doing something (other than eating). I believe this was the evening I saw Group Sounds, who were really great.
May-December 2006 – A lot of delivery from Bedouin Tent to my bachelor pad (shout out to roommate Uncrucial!). The rebound dating doesn’t involve ethnic food or Queens (unless the Manhattan St. Johns dorm counts as an exclave), so that’s the end of that particular thread for now.
June 5, 2006 – My HOF kickball career begins and ends.
July 31, 2006 – my favorite sandwich ever in history. Walter’s still a character.
August 2006 – Trip to Berlin, which ended up being my last trip to Europe before I moved there. As of mid-2011, Monsieur Vuong is apparently impossible to get into – almost 10 years after it was our casual lunch place!
September 9, 2006 – I believe this was the last time I was linked to by Gawker, but I can’t be bothered to search to confirm.
October 26, 2006 – Making fun of the press flacks who polluted my inbox. It was right around this time I signed my Swiss contract and started the “victory lap” phase of my NYC eating career – going back to the favorites before I left. Somewhere around this time I was mugged on Bergen Street – thankfully after I spent most of my cash on records and dinner!
November 28, 2006 – This post may be nearly the end of the food blog, but it is also the start of my 7″ record collection. Major life event in retrospect!
December 8, 2006 – This was my last post before leaving NYC – had I not been leaving it would have been excellent motivation to continue.
2007-2010 – After I left, I had a reader named Dave Lee doing some posting, but he eventually lost interest (I guess). I took down his posts in 2010 to make this a true time capsule of my NYC days, and with the hopes of rejuvenating my own writing at some point.
Spring-summer 2011 – I am offered $500 for the blog and all its contents, or $250 for the two domain names. I pass. Too many memories, and besides, what if I ever want to start it up again? I once again have a girlfriend and dining partner who encourages my writing – you never know!