Labor Day Fun Outside of Manhattan – NYC
I was never a big fan of kids until my brother had a baby three years ago. Little Adam was born exactly three years from yesterday, and since then I’ve been infatuated with him. Yes, I love him even though he tells me to go home when I go visit him. Once he even told me to get out of a moving vehicle on the way to the park. Nonetheless, I find him adorable. So when Labor Day weekend was approaching, I rented a Zipcar, and made plans with my bro and sister-in-law, Hannah, to take Adam to the beach. On the night before the day we were supposed to go, I called Hannah to confirm and she said no one wanted to go anymore because they thought there was going to be too much traffic. Can you believe it? I was stood up by a three-year-old! I guess I’m losing my touch with the boys.
Unfortunately, Zipcar has this policy where you have to give them twenty-four hours advance notice to cancel a reservation longer than eight hours without a penalty. In short, even if I didn’t use it, I would be charged for the full time the car had been rented. I think this is pretty dumb considering the high demand for cars in Manhattan. Someone would snatch up the car as soon as I clicked cancel on their website and Zipcar would essentially get paid twice on the same car. Sheesh. David and I decided we couldn’t let that happen, so I called up my girlfriend Ellie and off we went to Robert Moses without Adam.
Of course, when going to the beach, you have to take a snack, so Ellie suggested we go to Cherry Valley Deli to get some heroes. Cherry Valley is known for having an incredibly large selection of sandwiches (118 total on their menu) and also for having interesting combinations. You can get sandwiches like a Fiddler’s Green Hero (Grilled Steak w/ Fried Onions, American, Lettuce, Tomato, & Mayo on a Toasted Hero) or a Beast Wrap (Chicken Cutlet, w/ Bacon, Swiss, Brown Gravy, & Onion Rings on a Garlic Wrap). We opted to take the more classic route; a BLT and a Prosciutto Hero.
The drive to Robert Moses took about forty-five minutes, and by the time we got there we were starving for some sammy action (yes, I say sammy, I’m not ashamed). So as soon as we had our spot claimed, we started chowing down on the sandwiches. No time for sunscreen. The BLT ($5.49) was tasty. It was pretty standard stuff: bacon, ice berg lettuce, tomato, and mayo. We were expecting thick-cut bacon, but it was regular bacon. And even though they forgot the red onions we asked for, we liked it. It’s hard to screw up something with bacon.
The Prosciutto Hero ($7.74) was not on the menu, but when we saw the hunk of prosciutto in the case at Cherry Valley, we knew we had to have some. We ordered prosciutto, tomato, mozzarella, roasted red peppers, and red onions with oil and vinegar on a hero. Again, they forgot the red onions, but in general, it was good. Nothing fancy, no Prosciutto di Parma, no basil, no fresh mozarella, just a simple delicious sandwich at a reasonable price. It was a nice choice for the beach.
Full and content, we had an amusing day at Robert Moses. For some reason, Ellie kept wanting to feed her leftover bread to the seagulls. I think she wanted to share some sammy love, but Gil, her husband, wouldn’t let her, saying they would end up pooping on us. Personally, I was against feeding the birds also. I didn’t want to reenact a scene from The Birds on my day off from work. Regardless, I think the seagulls heard us, and all day they kept looming above and around us. I saw one even try to eat the stones that David had collected to practice juggling. (Don’t ask me why he’s into juggling; it’s a mystery.)
Another funny thing that happened that day was that I kept getting attacked by these nasty biting flies. Every time I put on any sun block, the smell of the lotion attracted them by the thousands. Each time this happened, I had to run into the water to escape. The flies were even attracted by Off! bug spray. I felt like a character in a cartoon being chased by bees after trying to steal their honey. It was pretty crazy and ridiculously hilarious at the same time. After a few hours though, we had enough of the wild life at Robert Moses and we were off again, this time in search for dinner.
Ellie had been telling me for months about a really good Gamjatang (감자탕) place in Flushing called Geo Si Gi (거시기). Gamjatang means potato soup in Korean, but really it’s more of a spicy stew made with pork backbones, potatos, and perilla leaves. Gamjatang is one of my favorite dishes. I love picking out the meat in the crevices of the bones. Usually though, I don’t like Gamjatang at restaurants because it’s never as good as my mom’s, but Geo Si Gi makes some killer Gamjatang.
At Geo Si Gi, the Gamjatang is first brought out in a giant metal pot on a portable gas burner, so it finishes cooking at the table, and you can keep it hot as you are eating it. I love that about Korean food; hot food is eaten hot and cold food is eaten cold. Lukewarm food makes me feel like the food is just old. When it is done cooking, you ladle out the soup into individual bowls. On the side, they had a vinaigrette — made of korean mustard, vinegar, and perilla seeds — to use a as a dipping sauce for the meat. There was also another little container full of crushed perilla seeds for those who like a bit more perilla flavor.
The Gamjatang at Geo Si Gi is the best I’ve ever had at a restaurant. The soup was nice and spicy and they were very generous with the meaty pork bones. Also in the soup were some fresh soy bean sprouts, scallions, sujebi (수제비, hand-torn Korean pasta), and rice cakes. You can also get an additional order of some of the ingredients like rice cake and sujebi for $1.50 – $2 each, but we were good without it. However, what really made the dish was the vinaigrette for the pork. The light acidic tanginess perfectly complemented the spicy meat.
When you are done eating all the meat in the pot, you can ask for rice and your server will cook up the rice with some seaweed and sesame oil, along with the remaining soup. The soup is then cooked down and you end up with some really flavorful rice with a consistency similar to paella. If it’s done right, you’ll also end up with some nice crunchy rice bits at the bottom of the pot. Yum…. At home, we do this all the time with other Korean stews. It’s a nice way to end a meal.
But if you need something sweet, Geo Si Gi has free ice cream. Yes, free! It’s not the decadent good stuff, but, hey it’s free! Eat it! I was unfortunately too full to eat any, but Gil got a scoop of chocolate and strawberry for Ellie. Now isn’t that really sweet?
So although I was dissed by Adam and Zipcar tried to screw me, I still had a fun, relaxing day with good food and good friends, which is always a nice combination. As for Adam, I’m sure he’ll come around one day, especially now that I know of a free ice cream spot.
Cherry Valley Deli
12-29 150th Street
Whitestone, NY 11357
Geo Si Gi
15228 Northern Boulevard
Flushing, NY 11354