The guy who ate everything
It can be done! We talk to Eric Grode, the Bronx resident who ate everything (almost) from last year's 100 Best list.
Mon Dec 8 2008
In last year’s 100 Best Things We Ate and Drank issue (as with this year’s), we included a handy checklist detailing each item and where to find it. While we’re of the opinion that we have pretty good taste and everyone should indulge in our 100, we didn’t really expect any readers to make a mission of eating them all. But then we heard from Eric Grode, a Bronx resident (and, it turns out, a fellow journalist) who couldn’t pass up the challenge. Eat Out editor Gabriella Gershenson talked to Grode to find out just where his hunger comes from.
What made you decide to pursue all 100?
I don’t think I decided that right off the bat. I mean, I got the issue and thumbed through and saw that I had not tried very many, maybe three or four—Katz’s, the Momofuku pork buns—and I started to look at my wife, and we were sort of eyeing the pizzas and the desserts. So the two us decided to kind of try a couple of those. I had been checking off those in the back list and I started to sort of fill them in a bit, and I just started to see those empty boxes and feel a mild compulsion to fill in the rest. Also, we had our first child in May, and so early on, I had some days free and decided to spend them going to Ridgewood, Queens, and deep into Brooklyn and areas that I never go into ordinarily. I think it was part of realizing that everyone says that once you have your first kid, your world kind of constricts a little bit.
My mind absolutely went there—I wondered if this was your last hurrah.
It’s slightly overstated. You can still get out and do stuff, but I mean these trips out to—what’s that Bosnian food? I don’t know how to pronounce it. It’s like plis—, pljeskavica? That’s a good two hours and 15 minutes door to door. That’s a little hard to justify when Mom is home stuck alone with the kid.
So your baby’s how old now?
He’s six months.
Does he eat exotic food?
He has no appetite for anything.
Well, he puts everything in his mouth except for baby food. Any spoon or any fabric he just shoves into his mouth, except for the food we’ve been putting out for him, so it’s going to take some time, I think.
Maybe he wants grown-up food.
Maybe he wants pljeskavica. We have not tried that yet.
When you wrote to tell us of your feat, you said you had three items to go. Any luck with those?
One of the top ten was the dandan noodles out in Flushing. And that place had burned down, and they didn’t have a phone number, so I only found that upon arrival. And then two places—a bar out in Queens and Schnck, the burger place—also had gone under, so I didn’t get to try those. But the three that are still on the list are Franny’s pizza, which I’ve been to before, I just didn’t have the sausage pizza. And the porterhouse at Peter Luger, which is one of the steeper entries, and there’s another drink, what’s the drink? Oh, out at Socialista, which used to have that restaurant, but now it’s only open from 10 o’clock on. So those are the three stragglers. But I’ve got a couple more weeks.
What’s your excuse to not having gone to Franny’s pizza? Where do you live?
The Bronx. That’s my excuse.
You used to cover theater for The New York Sun. Did you blog about this or write about it, or chronicle it at all?
Like I said, it’s not like I set out on Day One to kill this list, so by the time it shifted into a quest, I was too far along, I guess.
So did you try anything where you were like, Uh, what’re they thinking? I shouldn’t have gone out of my way for this. It’s totally overrated?
Yes, I live in Riverdale, which is pretty good for Jewish food. I went up to Forest Hills for this potato knish out there—perfectly good knish, but I feel like I can get just as good a knish literally on my block. However, I’ve been to Hill Country a couple of times for just barbecue and I never had tried the sausages. I’m very glad you guys brought those to my attention.
Yeah, they’re awesome.
Those really are awesome. And I don’t think I ever would have known about the pick at Sullivan Street bakery, which I go to sometimes. The pizza Bianca just always looked kind of boring to me, so I never tried that. So I also had some items to thank you guys for that I would not have tried otherwise.
How did you like that foie gras brle at Jean Georges?
Oh my God. That was my meal. Because that was one of the few places that had multiple entries. And I just sat at the bar and I had the foie gras brle and the vacherin for dessert. I went home feeling plenty content. That foie gras brle was unbelievable.
Is there anything that you’ve eaten this year that you think deserves to be on the list?
Well, Picholine has this Kiev that you guys listed which was very good, but they make a sea urchin panna cotta that is even better. It’s one of my favorite things there. The bread at Taboon is fantastic. And what else? I have kind of a sweet tooth. Oh, the concretes at Shake Shack ought to be on any list of anything anywhere.
Do you invent your own concrete or order one of their creations?
I have made my own, but I think the best one I had was malt chocolate with some cookie dough and caramel. It was really fantastic.
The cost of these (some are up there) must have added up. How did you factor indulging 97 times into your budget?
Well, I haven’t gotten around to the porterhouse yet.
Have you knocked off a lot of items on our 2007 list? Prepping for the 2008 one? Tell us about it! E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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