Lamarca – Lasanga So Good, I Broke Tradition

Lamarca – Lasanga So Good, I Broke Tradition

As a child, my mother always told me to never leave my plate completely empty. She said to leave just a little bit, it makes you look refined and that you had enough of whatever was given to you, no matter how hungry you truly are. While it never really made much sense to me, I always kept that tradition. Then I went to Lamarca.

Lamarca - exterior of restaurant **Taken by Nicole Oliva using a Samsung Galaxy**
Lamarca – exterior of restaurant **Photo by Nicole Oliva**

Randomly googling for a pasta joint in the city led me to Lamarca, a wonderfully warm and quaint Italian restaurant on the Lower East Side. I’ll spare you the details on the ambiance and get straight to the main course I had, their Lasagna made only on Thursday and Friday. I never had lasagna at a restaurant, quite frankly, I have only had lasagna whenever my family made it and one time my friend experimented making his own. While those efforts were good this one totally blew them out of the water.

Lamarca - meat lasagna - **Photo by Nicole Oliva**
Lamarca – Meat Lasagna with Parmesan cheese to the right – **Photo by Nicole Oliva**

The meat lasagna was served in a round bowl, something I was not expecting. Topped with parsley, it left a rich range of flavors in my mouth compared to the standard pasta sauce and cheese. One of the coolest things about this lasagna was that it was sitting in a pool of meat sauce, which had some beef mixed in and also added to the flavor. The lasagna itself did not have meat in it, which was another break from tradition for me because the homemade lasagna my family made in the past were filled to the brim with meat. The winning combination allowed me to fully appreciate the flavor of the sauce and noodles, all which were excellent. The Parmesan cheese offered really topped everything off. So good in fact that Nicole noted that my plate was completely clean. I did not even realize that I broke a 22 year tradition. It was THAT good.

 I advise anyone that has an extra 20 dollars on a Thursday or Friday to head down to Lamarca and prepare to be amazed. I know I was. I eat like a truck driver, but every now and again something good like this comes my way. So good I had to share.

Lamarca – outside of restaurant by the corner of 3rd Avenue and 22nd street **Photo by Nicole Oliva**

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Mortal Kombat X – A New Face For A New Generation

Mortal Kombat X – A New Face For A New Generation

Ah, Mortal Kombat.

The first thing anyone thinks of when hearing the words Mortal Kombat, is the iconic Scorpion throwing his wonderfully unique harpoon attack into the throat of his helpless opponent.

For those who are not the most hardcore of gamer’s, let me paint you a picture: imagine a ninja clad in yellow, which in itself is a contradiction because ninjas are supposed to be stealthy and secretive, shooting a rope out of his wrists and at the end of this rope is a sharp knife which he aims for the throat. After catching his opponent, he screams “GET OVER HERE” while pulling them in.

Scorpion and his unique move lit up arcades in the early 90’s when games like Street Fighter were the norm. A realistic, kung-fu movie like fighter with blood and guts brought so much delight to kids all over the world, including myself, your humble author.

Throughout the years, Mortal Kombat increased its already impressive line of characters with new favorites such as Mileena, Baraka, Kitana, Jax and one of my personal favorites, Shao Kahn. The game almost prided itself in how gruesome it was, breaking all traditional rules of video games and even spawning the ESRB, a board that rates video games based on its content to protect children from buying something their parents wouldn’t be too pleased to see.

Mortal Kombat’s history includes the finest action: Bruce Lee style fights with lots of martial arts and an immense amount of oriental culture such as dragons, temples, old chinese wizards with evil plots on destroying the world, scantly clad women with vicious attitudes [and even bigger killer instincts.] It was a male fantasy come to life.

Mortal Kombat X or MKX for short, recently released on Playstation 4, XBOX One, and PC. MKX brings a completely new generation of characters into the mix, with many old favorites getting… well old. Johnny Cage, the A-List celebrity playboy fighter, is now a grizzled old father who gave birth to one of the most delightful characters in Mortal Kombat history, a character who breaks the traditional mold of a Mortal Kombat character and feels like a product of our age. Her name is Cassie Cage.

Observe her for a minute, then go ahead and observe the two ninja ladies above. Cassie is wonderfully modern, rocking a contemporary haircut, normal proportions for a video game character and SHES FULLY CLOTHED! Cassie is a product of our time. Go ahead and play any Mortal Kombat game. All of the characters have an action movie like agenda, witnessing this can be awesome from a pure fantasy point of view, but can get tiring to those less invested in the lore of Mortal Kombat.

Cassie flips off her opponents at the beginning of every fight, she chews and blows bubbles with her bubble gum, and she curses up a storm when things get rough. While she puts up an obnoxious front, on the inside Cassie is a very sensitive person wanting to save the world to live up to the high standards of both her mother, (former leader of the Special Ops) and her father (an A-List celebrity). Cassie breaks barriers in Mortal Kombat by being a completely relatable character. Not only that, but also she takes SELFIES! Then, Cassie posts the photos on a fake social media site in game called Friendships!

Viewer Discretion is Advised….

I truly believe that for a game to be legendary, it can be looked back on and be a timestamp of the culture that was around when the game was released. Mortal Kombat X delivers on that front. I truly advise anyone with even the slightest vested interest to give the game a try. Its a Mortal Kombat game that retains the gruesome gore that made it popular, with a new set of faces that give it a contemporary appeal.

[DISCLAIMER- thgaffblog.com DOES NOT OWN ANY OF THE PICTURES PRESENTED IN THIS POST.]

City Kitchen – Whitman’s – A Simple Cheese Steak for Everyone.

City Kitchen – Whitman’s – A Simple Cheese Steak for Everyone.

Hello everyone! My name is Ariel Martinez and before I begin my little review on a decent sandwich I had a couple of days ago, I’d like to let you guys (and gals!) know a little about myself. I’m a simple man. A man sort of behind in the times, a man who isn’t on any social media or even likes using his phone. Hell, the only reason I got rid of my old Galaxy 2 was because it was at a point in its life where no matter how much I tinkered with it, no matter how much I prayed to the heavens for just one more day of use… it was dead. Shucks. If we have any Parks and Recreation fans out there, I have been compared to Ron Swanson a bit too often. I hope that paints a picture of the person I am. Except that I don’t boast one of the most beautiful mustaches on the planet.

Just a beautiful mustache.

Very much like Ron Swanson, I am a big fan of American cuisine. Burgers, Ribs, Cheese steaks, Apple Pie, you name it. I’ve never had a salad and I intend to keep it that way. There’s a certain science to making the perfect burger, the perfect ribs which always leads me to try new places and certainly be open to try anything that ANYONE recommends me (seriously guys, any burger BBQ American cuisine locations you guys can recommend in the NYC area I will go to). A couple of days ago, I had the pleasure of going into City Kitchen in New York City. Nicole commented on the history of City Kitchen and what was in store there but the first thing I noticed while walking in was a bustling and maybe even a bit cramped center of great food. Its like the food court in your local mall but just replace teenagers with hipsters. A lot of hipsters. The particular establishment I decided to chow down on that day was Whitman’s.

Whitman’s is a burger joint whose main restaurant is located in the East Village. It makes the food we’re guilty of loving but using locally grown ingredients. If I can enjoy a burger and help local farmers, I have done my patriotic duty as an American. I decided to try their cheese steak which looked amazingly appetizing on their online menu. When I received mine it looked awesome! However there is one fatal flaw…. I had to put ketchup on it!

Whitman's
Visually pleasing.

Now that shouldn’t be! A cheese steak should carry the flavor all in it self without any extra sauces or condiments. The steak should be seasoned to the point where the cheese compliments the flavor of the steak. When I first took a bite, the cheese was the only thing I tasted. The cheese was fine, a very smooth buttery taste whose texture added to the overall smoothness of the steak. However, the main ingredient left my taste buds wanting a little more. The fries, a corner-stone to any sandwich, were very small. I wondered whose hands they were designed for. They were however, some of the best fries I have ever had. It was a roller coaster of flavors which started with a very crunchy outside followed by a very fluffy inside. It had a very enjoyable salty after taste which sat well in my mouth when I followed it up with another fry. I found myself eating the fries before I even took a single bite out of the sandwich, it was that good.

Whitman’s cheese steak is a fine sandwich for lunch on the fly but for more seasoned cheese steak veterans, it lacks the fantastic seasoning that other dedicated cheese steak places offer. But their fries are out of this world. Seriously just go there for fries alone. You won’t be disappointed.