Balducci’s and PeepBalducci’s and Peep

During my much appreciated day off yesterday, which I spent walking up and down the island buying Christmas presents, I visited the new Balducci’s at 14th and 8th. Like every other store in the city, it was almost completely empty (just me, James Gandolfini, and his posse). It’s a beautiful space, although not ideal for a grocery store. It’s just two long, narrow rooms with ridiculously high ceilings. It was fine yesterday, but if it were any more crowded, the aisles would be impossible to get through. I didn’t buy much—just a few things for dinner and a Meyer lemon that I intend to play with tonight. It’s my first one. Prices there are about like Whole Foods. Be careful. I almost spent $4.75 on some cannellini beans, but then I remembered that they are 99 cents in a normal store.

I met n8 for lunch yesterday at Peep on Prince Street. We went here a couple of years ago and I forgot how much I like it and what a deal it is. For $8, I had some delicious, although lukewarm semolina fritters, followed by a massive plate of grilled salmon with mussels, rice, and greens. What a bargain! I was pleasantly stuffed. n8 had spinach dumplings followed by sesame chicken. Our meal, with coffee, came to just $20. Peep is a beautiful and efficient restaurant. I wish I had thought to bring my parents there last month.

I hope everyone is surviving the strike! My poor coworker had a two-hour bike ride in this morning from 207th Street. I recommend heavy doses of star anise, ginger, and garlic to warm up after your cold hikes.

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