Sunday, March 17, 2013

A weekend in New York — Pink Cow Palace in Harrison and Kazan’s in Port Washington

We traveled to New York this weekend to visit my father; we chose this weekend in particular because DC United was playing its first game of the season at Red Bull Arena in Harrison New Jersey, a stadium place nicknamed Pink Cow Palace by DC United fans to express their disdain for the dysfunctional soccer team formerly known as the New York Metro Stars.

During my last trip to Pink Cow Palace last November, the Screaming Eagles, Barra Brava and DC Ultra’s were the majority of the fans as the locals failed to turn out in major snowstorm; after we stood in the stands for hours, watching the MLS brass casually trying to shovel off the field, the game was called off and rescheduled for the following day (after which DC United unceremoniously dumped the Pink Cows from the playoffs).  These events were plainly on the minds of both sets of supporters – just before the beginning of the game, while the smoke was hovering over the field after a fireworks display, we could see banners unfurled behind the supporters on the other end of the stadium reading “Revenge Is Here.”  

And at half time, as the snow began to fall heavily, the two hundred or so DC United supporters were chanting, “Where Are the Shovels.” Throughout the game, we were louder than any of the New York fans at our end of the stadium.  Bringing flags with poles turned out to be particularly inspired, because apart from our chanting and singing, the banging of pole ends on the floor in unison made a particularly impressive sound. I was pleased that none of the thuggish individual taunting that I had seen on DC United roadtrips to Seattle and Portland in the past couple of years was in evidence.

The stadium is a lovely one; we can only hope that DC United’s own soccer-specific stadium, if we ever get one, is equally nice

(just so long as our team doesn’t get to be as consistently bad as New York’s team has been over the years).  The Pink Cows' management had fireworks and skydivers on hand to enhance the pre-game experience; it is too bad there were so many empty seats at their home opener – the announced attendance was 22,000 out of a capacity of 25,000, but I’d be surprised if there weren’t several thousand empty seats.

Although United began well, the team was unable to sustain possession and managed only one shot on goal that was well-saved.  I found myself worrying where our goals are going to come from this season.  Meanwhile, the Pink Cows were peppered our goal with shots, bouncing two shots off the cross bar and making goalkeeper Bill Hamid easily out man of the match.

Here is Thierry Henry waiting to take a corner kick directly below us.

The game ended in a scoreless draw.  Better for us than for New York -- teams that tie when traveling and consistently win at home can count on making the playoffs.  But still worrisome, because DC United have scored only one goal in the first three games of the season.  Still, we were able to enjoy regaling the departing New York fans with one of our favorite songs when United play New York, reminding them that they have not won a single MLS Cup, Open Cup or Supporters Shield over the sixteen years since MLS began:

"How many trophies have you won?
Not a fucking one.
Not a  fucking one, not a fucking one.
How many trophies have you won?
Not a fucking one."

Not that United have won any trophies in recent years, either -- the Open Cup in 2008 was the last win, and even that was a dim light in an otherwise disappointing season.

As the disgruntled New York fans began to leave, DC United players came over to our end of the stadium to express their appreciation for our support

After that, we had to stand around for about a half hour before the security guards would let us leave the stadium, supposedly to protect us from the possible hostility of the home fans.  I rather preferred the approach that Boca Juniors took when I attended a match at the Bombonera last April – the visiting fans were allowed to leave first while the home fans had to hang around so that they would not beat up on the visitors. 

Even though we had been detained in the stadium for so long, there was still a huge line of home fans waiting to take the PATH train as we walked toward the lot where we had parked our car, and the line of cars trying to leave the area was still almost immobile.  Happily, one of Sam’s college friends, who lives in Harrison, had come to cheer DC United with us, and he showed us how to go out the back way by cutting through a parking lot, then use the back streets to get onto the highway toward New York.

Eating at Kazan in Port Washington, New York

That evening, we went to an Uzbek restaurant in downtown Port Washington, the Kazan on Main Street opposite the Long Island Railroad station.  The room was lovely, with carpeting on the walls and fascinating wooden structures hanging from the mirrored ceiling. 

The service was excellent, and the food was varied but, in the end, a bit of a mixed bag.

Most of us had beer to drink — there were some excellent local beers on tap including a delicious Greenport Porter, pictured here with Boyjon, a baked eggplant spread.

We started with several appetizers, including these falafels and pelmeni (a dumpling that I remember from my visit to the old Soviet Union back in 1981).

Samsa, a large pastry with meat inside, was the best of the appetizers, although I found the large meat chunks inside to be a bit chewy.

Samsa at Kazan Restaurant, Port Washington, New York
For my main course, I ordered Chicken Tabaka, which made a lovely sight on my plate when it arrived, reminiscent of the flattened chickens I had purchased at night markets in Thailand.  I found the meat to be a bit dry, though, and the flavoring on the meat was by no means striking. The chicken came with very nice twice-cooked fried potatoes.   Others in our party ordered the whole red snapper, steamed with a delicious ginger sauce, and Osh-Toki, stuffed grape leaves which I felt was the best of the main course.

Chicken Tabaka

Whole fish with spicy ginger sauce

Stuffed grape leaves at Kazan Restaurant

Another nice main dish was Uzbek Plov, a slow cooked meat that was a bit dry but very flavorful.  The vegetables and rice that came with it were excellent.
Uzbek Plov at Kazan Restaurant

We all felt too full for dessert, but when one person after another opted for coffee, I decided to ask what was available for dessert, and opted for the Meringue Delight – no sooner had I chosen than the others began to hope for extra spoons so that they could have a share.  Our waiter treated the table to four meringues, and it was a good thing because they were excellent – the meringue was mixed with what seemed to be finely chopped nuts that kept the meringue from being too chewy.  Each meringue was stuffed with a light custard and dribbled with raspberry sauce.  An excellent end to our meal.

Meringue Delight

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