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October 24, 2012

Lima: The Tasting Menu at Astrid y Gaston

Since we're going back to South America, I've decided to go back to some of the stories I forgot to tell about last year's trip.

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Last year, as soon as we decided to spend time in Lima while in Peru, I began hearing about all the food options. And at the center of any food conversation about Lima is Gaston Acuria. The defining chef of Peru, Acuria's flagship restaurant is Astrid y Gaston, which happened to be just a couple blocks from the apartment in Miraflores where we stayed.

On our first night in town, we showed up at their door and managed to get dinner at the bar, where we ordered the tasting menu. A few hours and twelve courses later, we
Finished one of the best meals I've had... Pretty much ever. I won't claim to remember exactly what every course was 7 months later, but you can see a good deal of it after the jump.

Continue reading "Lima: The Tasting Menu at Astrid y Gaston" »

July 11, 2012

Montreal: Birthday Dinner at Joe Beef

Yes.

The culinary highpoint in a trip full of amazing food has to be the dinner Tammi and I had on my birthday at Joe Beef. A month after our trip to Montreal, I'm still drooling over the extreme and delicious meal we had there.

Rather than attempt to narrate the meal, I'm just going to give a visual recap of the spectacle after the jump. Enjoy!

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June 27, 2012

Montreal: Dinner at Au Pied du Cochon

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I wasn't messing around when I planned out our recent trip to Montreal. From a month before, I made reservations for our first night at the legendary Au Pied du Cochon. No relation to the Parisian home of cheesy onion soup and pork spread, the Montreal restaurant is often seen as the flagship for Quebec's special brand of rich, hearty, foie gras-laden cuisine.

It's where Hugue Dufour of M Wells got his start and has, until recently, been THE destination restaurant in Montreal. These days, Joe Beef probably puts up a pretty good fight for that title, but more on that later.

For now, you can see our amazing meal after the jump...

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June 20, 2012

Food/Work: Edible Brooklyn Feature

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As part of my Food/Work project, I found myself exploring the halls of a couple commercial kitchens around Brooklyn. This month, many of the photos from these excursions have made it into a feature in the pages of Edible Brooklyn.

The article, written by Amy Cortese, discusses how the rise of small batch, artisanal foods has created a new niche market for the specialized cooking space required to produce all those cupcakes, cookies, granola and saltwater taffy.

After the jump, check out some photos from the kitchens at Hana Pastries in Sunset Park.

Continue reading "Food/Work: Edible Brooklyn Feature" »

May 21, 2012

The Narrative Process - My Tech Munch Presentation

Last Friday, I took part in a panel for the TechMunch Conference, a food blogger gathering, to discuss the narrative process. In it, Tricia Okin led a discussion with me, Liza de Guia of Food. Curated. And Kasey Hickey of Evernote Food about how each of us comes to the stories we publish.

Time limitations (and nerves) prevented me from hitting all my points, so I thought I'd post my whole planned talk here, after the jump.

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April 17, 2012

Bed-Stuy Crawl, Round 2 Recap

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Last weekend's Bed-Stuy Crawl was an amazing success. Alisha, Nicole and I led a crowd of nearly 50 people to sip and snack at three spots in the Franklin/Bedford corner of the neighborhood. I told you all about the plan last week, so check out how it all went with photos after the jump.

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April 11, 2012

This weekend, Bed-Stuy Crawl returns!

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This Saturday, April 14th, Nicole Taylor, Alisha Miranda and I will be hosting our second installment of our Bed-Stuy Crawl series.

Having lived in Bed-Stuy since I was a kid, I have to say there hasn't been a more exciting time to live in the neighborhood. As recently as five years ago, the idea of being able to spend a Saturday evening out with friends without leaving the bounds of Bed-Stuy was pretty unlikely. Your options were to hang out at an old man bar or to spend the whole time at one of a handful of scattered restaurants around the area. That's all changed. And it's pretty great.

If you missed the first Bed-Stuy Crawl back in February, here's your chance to make it up to yourself. Last time, led a group of 40 from Fulton Grand on the Clinton Hill border to Breucklen Cellars, Vodou Lounge and finally Black Swan. It was an amazing time and we're doing it all over again this weekend. Check out the plan for this weekend's festivities after the jump.

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April 6, 2012

Cuzco: Eating Cuy at Victor Victoria

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It's a fine line between being an open-minded eater and being the idiot who'll eat anything on a dare. I try to be adventurous enough that I don't miss a good meal due but not so much that I'm just eating something because it's there. In Peru, cuy was the elephant in the room. Guinea pig is a local delicacy that I admit had me both curious and a little grossed out. Really though, when was I going to have the opportunity to try it again.

In Aguas Calientes, I almost had cuy confit at The Tree House But they didn't have any on hand. I didn't go hunting for cuy after that, but I mentioned that I wanted to try it to Arturo, a friend of a friend, who leads food tours in Lima (more on that later). He recommended Victor Victoria, a small restaurant that's small, divey and off the beaten path.

We got totally lost the first time we tried to go there, but managed to track it down the next night. Joined by fellow anglophones from Brooklyn and the UK that we met at an Aussie bar down the road, we dove in together and had a pretty good meal.

Continue reading "Cuzco: Eating Cuy at Victor Victoria" »

April 3, 2012

Cuzco: Chicharron Row

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Our trip to Peru wasn't all eating and hiking - Tammi and I did some sightseeing while we were in Cuzco, too. It just so happens that as we walked to the remains of an ancient inca temple, Qorikancha, we ended up walking down a strip of chicharrones joints. Go figure.

Baskets of freshly fried pork bits were on display in front of each of these places. How could we resist? Culture could wait. Get a look after the jump.

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April 2, 2012

Self-Promotion: How To Knead, Top and Toss it

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The How to... series presented by Edible Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Brewery has returned this year and I've been out shooting it. Back in February, "How to Slice it" brought meat mavens together to learn the best way to make sausage, truss a roast and debone a chicken. More recently, the theme was pizza and it packed the house. Check out a couple highlights after the jump and see a slideshow and details on the speakers on the Edible Brooklyn recap.

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March 29, 2012

Food/Work: In The Kitchen at Giano

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Earlier this month, I was hired by ScoutMob to photograph at East Village Italian restaurant, Giano for their new Hand-Picked series.

I shot as Chef Matteo prepared a few dishes from cooking to plating to the final dish in order to show what customers can expect from their hand-picked experience. Given the time I spent in the kitchen, it's no surprise that many of the outtakes from the shoot seemed appropriate for the Food/Work series.

Get a look into the kitchen at Giano after the jump.

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March 14, 2012

Kitchensurfing: Chefs & Photogs Meet

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A couple weeks ago, David Siegel, who I met while he worked at Peaches and later photographed as he made cookies for Fats and Flour, told me about a site called Kitchensurfing. The site plans to be a gathering point for chefs to share resources and compare notes. Earlier this month, they hosted an event which invited chefs and photographers to connect. Each chef brought a dish or two and the photographers styled, arranged and shot the food.

Of course, as much as I enjoy shooting food, it was the spectacle of all the people interacting with the food and each other that caught my eye. The result is more Food/Work than food porn. Get a look at what I saw after the jump.

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February 29, 2012

The Final Something I Ate NY

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The fourth and final edition of the food and art series, Something I Ate took place last weekend in Williamsburg. As with the previous two editions, I was on hand to document the evening's festivities. It's sad to see the event come to an end, but I'm very excited for its next act, which takes the show to London next month. Wish I could go!

See some of the food, the people and the art after the jump.

Continue reading "The Final Something I Ate NY" »

January 31, 2012

Self-Promotion: In The New York Times

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This is hardly news to anyone who follows me on Facebook, Twitter or even Pinterest, but I'm still excited two weeks later.

The above photo is my first to be published in The New York Times. It's of black truffle soup dumplings at Red Farm and, just in time for Chinese New Year, it got a fair amount of attention, getting reposted on Zagat and Gothamist.

It's a great milestone and helped me push through as I did five more shoots the following week. Onward.

January 20, 2012

Food/Work Preview: Dallis Brothers Coffee Tour

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Back in the fall, one of the Edible Brooklyn events I shot was "How to Roast," all about coffee. I met some of the folks from Dallis Brothers Coffee and we talked a bit about their roasting plant in Queens and I thought about going to photograph it one day for Food/Work. I ran into the folks from Dallis at one of the holiday markets last month and found out they do tours of the facility. It seemed like a good scouting expedition to figure out if it's something I might want to photograph more extensively. So, the first weekend of January, Tammi and I headed to the end of the A line to Ozone Park to see what it was all about. Check out some of the photos from the tour after the jump.

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January 2, 2012

Introducing Food/Work


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Happy New Year, folks. 2011 was packed with experiences and opportunities that I hope to build on for years to come. To begin, I'm launching a new photo project that I'm very excited about, called Food/Work.

Expanding on the Butchery project of the last few years and the kitchen shoots I've done in the last several months, Food/Work explores the real effort that gets food on our tables. Following the examples of Michael Harlan Turkell's Back of House series and my friend Donny's Foodaisance project, I want to call attention to the work that goes into cooking, preparing, cutting, cultivating and even killing the food that so many of us enjoy and obsess over.

Although the project will not be limited to Brooklyn, starting Wednesday, I'll be posting some photos on Nona Brooklyn every other week. The first post went up last month with photos of Emily Cavalier cooking dishes for November's Midnight Brunch supper club.

So, stay tuned. The slideshow above is just a preview of what's to come.

December 14, 2011

Food/Work: Ryan Farr at the Astor Center

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Ryan Farr is no stranger to the blog. I met the San Francisco butcher and chef at last year's Cochon 555, where, among other things, he deboned a pig's head and stuffed it with shoulder meat. Then, on a trip to SF, I managed to catch up with him briefly at his stand at the Ferry Building. One day, I hope to photograph him at work either in his cooking space or in one of the hands-on butchering classes he offers at 4505 Meats.

Last week, he was in New York promoting his new book, Whole Beast Butchery, I caught up with him at a butchering demo he did at the Astor Center, where he took apart a whole lamb. Check out some of the photos from the evening after the jump.

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November 30, 2011

Cuzco: The open kitchen at Cicciolina

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While the eating options were a bit limited in Aguas Calientes, Cuzco was an entirely different story. One night, while looking for a place to grab a drink, we stumbled upon Cicciolina, an Italian place hidden in a courtyard of shops a block or two away from the main square.

We may have come for a drink, but as soon as I saw that our spot at the bar was directly in front of the open kitchen, it was pretty clear that we'd be spending hours there. See cooks, prep, pasta making and cocktail shaking after the jump.

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November 18, 2011

Self-Promotion: Something I Ate - Tonight!

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Over the summer, I had the pleasure of photographing Something I Ate, an art and food event hosted by On Plate Still Hungry and Skimkim Foods. The dishes served included multilayered savory push pops, a set of brass knuckles made from watermelon and hanging hor d'oeuvres that were torched before serving. It was a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to shooting the latest in the series tonight. Check out the Skimkim blog for more details on tonight's event and check out some of the photos from the summer party after the jump.

Something I Ate, November 18, 7-10pm. Acme Studios, 63 N 3rd Street, Williamsburg.

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October 31, 2011

Finding Halloween candy with Eat This NY

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Brian Hoffman, a fellow contributor to Midtown Lunch, hosts regular videos on his site, Eat This NY. The other day, I joined him to film his Halloween video, which profiled artisanal candy shop, Papabubble. It was my first time seriously shooting video and thus quite a learning experience. We also got to geek out watching them create some of the unique handmade candy right on site.

As I'm incapable of watching people work with food without photographing them, of course I took a few stills along the way. Check them out after the jump.

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October 26, 2011

Butchery: Fleisher's Brooklyn is open for business

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Fleisher's, the butchering mecca that inspired so much of the whole animal cooking that we've seen in the last few years has come to Brooklyn. The new shop is located in Park Slope on 5th Avenue off Sackett. I've been a big fan of theirs since I photographed their Pig to Pork event last year.

The grand opening of the new shop was last week and co-owner Jessica Applestone asked me to photograph the big day. Borough President and Brooklyn cheerleader Marty Markowitz was on hand to celebrate the big day.

October 21, 2011

My take on The Chew

The audience at The Chew.

If you pay attention to food television, you've probably already heard about The Chew, the new ABC Daytime show that ostensibly covers 'all angles of food.' Last month, through the kindness of Nichelle of Cupcakes Take The Cake, I scored a ticket to one of the first tapings of the show.

You can read my reaction to the show on at guest post I did on Mouth of the Border.

October 7, 2011

Self-Promotion: Shooting Dan Kluger at Bon Appetit's Feast or Fashion

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It's been a busy month since I got back from South America. In addition to shooting Midnight Brunch, I shot The Vendys for Midtown Lunch and the Feast or Fashion dinner for Bon Appetit.

The event, hosted at the TriBeCa home of fashion designer Lela Rose, was catered by Dan Kluger of ABC Kitchen. Unlike so many of the other events I've photographed lately, almost all of my shooting this time had me in the kitchen following Chef Kluger and his team.

I've posted an extended gallery from the event on claywilliamsphoto.com.

September 22, 2011

Peru: The Tree House

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As I mentioned yesterday, the town of Machu Picchu, formerly known as Aguas Calientes, is pretty much a tourist town. That includes the food. Pizza and Mexican and Chinese all stand next to restaurants selling the same ten Peruvian dishes, no one offering anything quite good.

There were a couple exceptions that we enjoyed and a month later, the one that sticks with me is The Tree House. Check out the space and the food after the jump.

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August 23, 2011

Self-Promotion: David Kinch cooking demo on BonAppetit.com

David Kinch in the Bon Appetit test kitchen

Among all the work I did back in May, I got to do some work for Bon Appetit magazine, doing a little photographing for their website. The work included a photo shoot of Michelin-starred chef David Kinch demonstrating how to make the savory beignets he serves at his restaurant Manresa, in California.

It was a great shoot and I was very excited to see them published last week. See the slideshow here.

August 17, 2011

Peru: Lunch at Juanito's in Cuzco

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Wow, what a week it's been since I posted from the airport in Lima at 4am. We've bounced around Peru and there will be more reports soon, I promise. For regular updates, follow my digital Tumblr blog, where I've been posting photos like mad.

Once we got to Cuzco and settled in, it was time to look for some real food. We huffed and puffed through the 11,000+ foot altitude and tracked down a sandwich shop called Juanito's, which was highly recommended and just a couple blocks from where we were staying.

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August 12, 2011

Self-Promotion: My SLR Food Photography Guide on Foodspotting

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I'm using my transit time to finally catch up on various posts and self-promotion that I have been too tied up to keep up to date on the blog. First up is this guide I put together last month for Foodspotting.

It's all about SLR food photography and offers a number of tips and tricks for capturing interesting images of food in restaurants.

The guide is an overview, but I do plan to follow it up here with a few more in-depth posts. First up, will be about white balance - it's one of those things that seems to throw everyone off. If you've got any particular photography questions you'd like me to cover, let me know in the comments or write me on twitter @ultraclay.

August 10, 2011

Early Lunch at M Wells

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Last week, in my post-corporate afterglow, I took the opportunity to return to M Wells, the site of my amazing birthday dinner. I'd heard great things about the brunch menu and had to see what it was all about. The timing turned out to be perfect as, just the day before, the eccentric Long Island City diner announced that it would be closing up shop due to a rent hike.

I met up with my friend Emily, one of the many awesome people I met at the Foodspotting events this spring. She has also recently left the land of the day job and is pursuing her own projects.

We didn't gorge ourselves the way that Eric and I did back in June, but we ate pretty well. See the courses after the jump.

Continue reading "Early Lunch at M Wells" »

August 1, 2011

Nom Wah Parlor with Chinatown Chowdown

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Last week, Tammi and I took to Chinatown's historic dim sum parlor, Nom Wah, to help celebrate the release of Chinatown Chowdown. As I mentioned before, the app is a savior for folks like me that have a hard time figuring out which of the hundreds of restaurants, carts and eateries in the neighborhood to try. I plan to spend some quality time exploring the options and thus far have it to thank for a few good meals.

Follow the jump for photos from the festivities.

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July 27, 2011

Dekalb Market Open for Business

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Last weekend saw the launch of Dekalb Market, a new open air marketplace on the edge of Downtown Brooklyn. I had planned on writing an elaborate post about it, but it seems that's not going to happen soon, so I'll have to settle for a quick series of photos with a bit of commentary after the jump...

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July 22, 2011

This Weekend: Makossa Brooklyn Cookout

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If you weren't sure from the heatwave, it's summertime and thus barbecue season. My friends from rare form (the folks who bring it with the annual Donuts Are Forever party) have a monthly party in the backyard at Fresthetics, a clothing store in Williamsburg. After missing out on them for one reason or another last summer, I was sure to make the first of the season last month.

Tomorrow, they're doing it all over again, this time with guest DJs from Los Angeles and San Francisco and Filipino snacks from Mahalo Foods.

Check out more photos from June's party after the jump.

Makossa, Saturday July 23rd, 4-10pm.
552 Grand Street, Williamsburg

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July 20, 2011

Bed-Stuy: Do or Dine brings an adventurous menu to the hood

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Even though they've only been open for a month or so, I feel late to the game with Do or Dine. The internets have been abuzz with talk of all the crazy and interesting food they're churning out for weeks. And that was all before some goofy vegans gave them the best PR gift you could ask for by starting a petition against the foie gras doughnuts they serve.

The restaurant, which is really more like a clubhouse, describes itself as an 'American Izakaya,' only because everyone's tired of the word 'gastropub.' Really though, that's what it is, an awesome gastropub where they cook whatever they feel like trying. I don't care what you call it, it's good and I plan to return soon. After the jump, check out the meal and a very cool surprise at the end.

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July 13, 2011

Kitchens: The Chef's Counter at La Lunetta

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After the Bastille Day fun on Sunday, Tammi and I had dinner at Lunetta, the wonderful Italian restaurant that happens to sit on the site of our first date, those many years ago. By chance, we managed to get a seat at the Chef's counter in the back. Whether it's at the counter at Osteria in Philly or at Cal Pep in Barcelona or I'm just watching demos at The Astor Center, I love seeing - and photographing professionals working in a kitchen. I've been doing more of it lately for some projects I don't think I can talk about just yet, but I take every opportunity to shoot in kitchens and this was no different. Check out the photos, including a rather dramatic flare-up and some delicious food after the jump.

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July 8, 2011

Chinatown: Hua Ji's Pork Chop

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My first excursion into Chinatown with the Chinatown Chowdown app took me to a scaffolded building at the end of Allen Street. I walked past a crowd of people sitting on the sidewalk waiting for one of those cheap fare buses and knew that I'd never have thought to stop here without a proper guide.

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July 7, 2011

Philly: Frankford Hall Opens in Fishtown

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For Memorial Day Weekend, Tammi and I took a trip down to Philadelphia. High on my agenda for the weekend was to check out the new beergarden in Fishtown, called Frankford Hall. Check it out after the jump...

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July 6, 2011

Chowing Down in Chinatown

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I've mentioned before that Chinatown always presents something of a challenge to me. It's chock full of interesting food, but much of it is hidden among mediocrity, esoteric signs and thousands of people knocking into each other.

Still, sometimes i manage come across a yummy surprise like Malaysian jerky shops or egg tarts like i had in Hong Kong that make me want to keep going back to look for more.

Recently, a friend gave me the key to finding the hidden goodies to be found in the neighborhood. Craig Nelson, a friend and fellow food fan developed an app called Chinatown Chowdown, which works as a guide to the area's best food.

It's got listings and reviews and photos as well as a map that'll tell you what's closest to you and how much a cab would cost to get there.

Over the next couple weeks, i plan to try to make it do a little exploring with the app as my guide. I'll be reporting in once a week or so with my finds.

June 29, 2011

Birthday Dinner at M Wells

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The day after my birthday, Eric managed to get me to go to Queens for dinner at M Wells. If you haven't heard about it, well, good, maybe I'll be able to get another meal there before they entirely blow up. That's unlikely, as Sam Sifton already raved about it months ago. I'm weeks late with this post and, honestly, I don't have time to do this meal justice with words. See photos and a quick rundown of our incredible meal after the jump.

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May 23, 2011

A first look at Smorgasburg

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While the entire world was making rapture jokes, the food obsessed among us were making what could have been our last eating pilgrimage to the Williamsburg waterfront. If you haven't heard about it, the folks behind the Brooklyn Flea have expanded their food offerings into a new weekly event focused entirely on food called Smorgasburg.

Over the years, the Flea has become a destination as much for its food options than any of the actual market items, so it's no surprise to see a spin off like this. I know I was excited about it.See what was on hand after the jump.

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May 9, 2011

Malaysian Jerky in Chinatown

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Reminiscing about last year's trip to Hong Kong inspired me to take a trip to Chinatown the other day. Wandering the area, I tried some egg tarts (more on that later), ogled markets, dodged knock off bag sellers and discovered this shop. They had me at 'jerky!'

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May 2, 2011

Hong Kong: Loon Kee Seafood Restaurant

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At the head of Hong Kong's Gage street, right across the street from Lan Fong Yuen tea house, Loon Kee draws passersby in with a visual siren's song of roasted meats hanging in the window.

Behind them, men stand in the window chopping and prepping meat for customers. Their hands, shiny from the greasy skins of pork and duck and chickens, just looking at them work, going in was an inevitability, not an option.


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April 29, 2011

Hong Kong: Thai Hut

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On a particularly debaucherous evening out in Hong Kong, our host took us out to Wan Chai to give us a peek at the seedier side of town. Its probably pretty telling that above all the working girls and over the top everything, we saw there, the thing that I really remember is Thai Hut.

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April 28, 2011

Hong Kong: Tsui Wah

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In our first week in Hong Kong, we passed by branches of the Tsui Wah chain more than a few times without realizing that it was another of the cha chaan tang tea houses, like Lon Fong Yuen (basically diners), that we'd read about. Thankfully, we discovered it in time to stop in a couple times before we headed home.

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April 27, 2011

Hong Kong: Cha Chaan Tang at Lon Fong Yuen

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Among the notes I got from friends and friends of friends ahead of our trip to Hong Kong, I read a couple references to cha chaan tang tea houses as a particular institution in local culture. Despite what I read about it being the home of low budget comfort food, it never occurred to me that it would basically be a diner.

One in particular, Lon Fong Yuen, was highly recommended and conveniently turned out to be right at the beginning of Gage Street, the strip of markets that I obsessively returned to, ogling the Butcher shops and the people who worked there.

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April 26, 2011

Self-Promotion: Time Out New York's Lunch Issue

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I'm very happy, if slightly belated, in announcing that I contributed to the current issue of Time Out New York. It's the Lunch Issue, so the Time Out folks came to Midtown Lunch to provide recommendations for Midtown and the Financial District. My recommendations for lower Midtown East and West included Ai Fiori and Artisanal, above, for business lunches as well as some of my old favorites, like Mondello.

Independent of the text, I was contacted by the photo editor to take pictures at The Bailey near Wall Street and Perry Street in the West Village.

The Lunch issue of Time Out New York is still on stands for another day, so if you're dying to see my name in print you can still grab a copy.

April 25, 2011

Hong Kong: Gage Street

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Walking through Central Hong Kong, it was easy to forget that I was 8,000 miles from home. There were skyscrapers and office buildings this way, hi-rise condos that way, Westerners abounded and English was everywhere. Central certainly didn't have any of the challenges of Saigon or even Tokyo in navigation or communication. I enjoyed exploring the area a lot, but it almost felt like cheating.

Then we took a turn off from under the Mid-Level escalators and found ourselves on Gage Street and found ourselves somewhere else, entirely.


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April 21, 2011

Quick Bite: Bar Mut in Barcelona

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After we left La Sagrada Familia on our last day in Barcelona, Tammi and I went to Bar Mut, in L'Eixample for some wine and a few snacks. We were there in that late afternoon dead period that confounded us just about everyday, but thankfully, they were open through the siesta and we spent a couple hours snacking and drinking wine there. See the food after the jump.

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April 18, 2011

Scenes from Barcelona: Kiosko Universal

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Heading to Barcelona, I was obsessed with the Boqueria marketplace. I wanted to photograph it and sample all the different foods there, gorging myself on slice after slice of jamon and who knows what else. Once we got there, though, I ended up mostly window shopping, ogling the wares and wondering how one cooks a cockscomb.

On the one 'morning' we did eat there (and by morning, I mean afternoon), we went to Kiosko Universal.

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April 12, 2011

Quick Bite: Porchetta Platter

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A while back, I got a Blackboard Eats coupon for Porchetta in the East Village. I've gone on about my obsession with the Italian roast pork dish in the past. It's delicious. Usually, I get the sandwich, but with the discount, I figured I'd splurge a bit.

This is the Porchetta Platter with beans and cooking greens. And, I got a side of potatoes & burnt ends. Of course, it ended up being more food than I could eat - I took the potatoes home and broiled them up with dinner that night.

March 31, 2011

Bed-Stuy Tour: Dough

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After catching doughnut fever in Chelsea last month, I found myself particularly intrigued when I got word about Dough, a new doughnut shop in Bed-Stuy on the corner of Franklin and Lafayette. Tammi and I peeked in after leaving Bedford Hill last weekend, but sadly found ourselves too stuffed from breakfast to partake. I did take some photos, including a few of some freshly glazed doughnuts going out. Check them out after the jump.

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March 30, 2011

Bed-Stuy Tour: Bedford Hill

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I've been hearing about Bedford Hill since it opened last year, but hadn't made it out until Tammi and I took our Bed-Stuy tour last weekend. It's on Franklin Avenue, on the same block as Sweet Revenge (where we ended the day about 12 hours later) and just blocks away from the border with Clinton Hill.

The initial shock of being the only black folks in the room in the heart of what used to be seriously "'hood" Bed-Stuy faded relatively quickly. The politics of the "Pratt Area" and the wave of gentrification are an nearly a force of nature in New York and I'm not about to blame a place like Bedford Hill for serving the new residents in the area.

If anything, my only complaint about Bedford Hill is how tight the space is. I'm a big guy and walking in in the middle of a rush, I was bumped and jostled every which way, even after I found a seat.

Still, once we had our food and the crowd died down, it was extraordinarily pleasant and my initial urge to flee relaxed. See the food after the jump.

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March 29, 2011

Brooklyn: The Bed-Stuy Tour Part One

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The weather may not quite feel like spring, but despite the cold, the longer days are inspiring me to get outside and do some exploring. Tammi's been taking some classes at the YMCA on Bedford Ave and it's given us an excuse to spend some time wandering that end of Bed-Stuy a bit more.

That's meant brunches at Peaches HotHouse and Black Swan, but also the discovery of a few new places that have been popping up on the radar of late. Last weekend, Tammi and I spent our Saturday over in the corner of the neighborhood that borders Clinton Hill and Williamsburg that's become known as the "Pratt Area" or even, irritatingly "West Bed."

We stopped in some cafes and bars and generally wandered about, meeting up with friends and seeing what's new and noteworthy. See the beginning of our tour after the jump.

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March 23, 2011

Aspen: The food of BB's Kitchen

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The interesting part of my annual sojourns to Aspen has been tracking down the new restaurants and bars that pop up over the years. This year, I discovered BB's Kitchen, which had only been open for a couple weeks when I got there.

I had a few great meals there and just missed the opportunity to photograph their meat operation for my butchery project. I spoke to the chef, Mark Buley about the restaurant and their plans to bring whole animal cooking to Aspen. If I'd written this post two months ago, I'd probably have a lot more details, but it's all faded a bit, so I'll let the food talk for itself after the jump.

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March 19, 2011

Barcelona: The Vila Viniteca Food Market

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As usual, I took some time while we were in Barcelona to pick up a couple bottles of wine to take home. After reading about the selection available there, we sought out Vila Viniteca in the warrens of El Born, a neighborhood we ended up wandering around quite a bit. When we got there we discovered that it was much more than a wine shop.

Turns out there are three or four different storefronts, this one, above with stacks and stacks of wine, another for private events a third that we didn't get a good look at and a food market that captured my attention for a full half hour. Check it out after the jump.

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March 16, 2011

Barcelona: Cal Pep

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Tapas bar, Cal Pep has been on Barcelona's must visit lists for so long that I almost skipped it just because it's so over-exposed. Except that it was clearly on the list for a reason. I wasn't going to skip it just to be contrary.

The crowded line of people waiting for one of the prized seats at the counter Was enough to scare us off one night, but after our lovely lunch at Quimet i Quimet, I was very excited to keep trying the more amazing options in town.

The line, it turned out, wasn't so big a deal. We walked in to find half a dozen people ahead of us and we were seating within 15 minutes. We passed the time with some house wine and watching the show behind the counter as the chef chatted with customers and the staff presented new dishes to each party.

When we sat down, we were asked what sort of foods we liked and whether we had any particular restrictions. It seems the standard serving style is what the Japanese call omakase - chef's choice. You're in their hands and they bring up whatever is fresh and fits your preference. We went with it and enjoyed course after course - plus one addition we couldn't skip. See the blow by blow after the jump.

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March 14, 2011

Recently on Midtown Lunch: Doughnuts and Barbecue

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What you see here is a jelly doughnut from the new Doughnut Plant in Chelsea. After years of being told how good this place was, I finally had to give it a try. The result is that I'm hooked. The yeast doughnuts in particular are enough to make you want to go protest the local dunkin for lying to us all these years about what a doughnut really is.

While in the Chelsea area, I also took some time to celebrate the moderating weather with Barbecue at RUB and a survey of the Flatiron area food trucks, in hopes of encouraging some outdoor eating.

March 10, 2011

Cambodian Cuisine Returns - in a truck

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Longtime Brooklynites, may remember the Cambodian Cuisine restaurant that stood prominently in the middle of pre-gentrified Fort Greene. It's giant sign stood out and, well before pho and banh mi became common parlance in the food world, it was one of the only Southeast Asian places outside of the city's three Chinatowns.

It's long since closed and the location has been the home of Smoke Joint, the barbecue-centered sibling of Peaches and Peaches Hothouse.

I had only ever been to Cambodian Cuisine a few times and only really remembered it as a landmark of a lost time. Regardless, I have wondered, from time to time, what ever became of them. Last week, I found out when I stumbled upon their newly launched food truck, Cambodian Cuisine Torsu across from Washington Square Park in The Village.

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March 8, 2011

Quick Bite: Mardi Gras Muffaletta at Rye House

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I've mostly outgrown the drunken bacchanalia of events like Mardi Gras and St. Patrick's Day, but I did manage to find my own way to celebrate this afternoon. I met up with a friend for lunch at Rye House and discovered the addition of a special sandwich on the menu for Fat Tuesday: their own take on a muffaletta.

The true New Orleans version of the classic Italian sandwich is usually so big that one couldn't hope to eat an entire one in one sitting and expect to do anything more than nap for the rest of the day. Thankfully, this was a bit scaled back to a more reasonable size.

March 7, 2011

Fatty Johnson - gone, but not forgotten

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This weekend, Tammi and I finally got a chance to check out Fatty Johnson, the pop-up restaurant in the space where Cabrito used to be at 50 Carmine Street in The Village. This was cutting it down to the wire, as they finished up service there yesterday. The meal was great and made me wish I'd headed there earlier so I could have tried more of the food.

Check out what we had after the jump.

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March 4, 2011

Barcelona: Quimet i Quimet

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When I put out the bat signal requesting recommendations for where to eat and drink in Barcelona, no less than four friends insisted that we try Quimet i Quimet. The small wine shop in the Parallel district is famous for its tight quarters and it's wonderful selection of tapas.

The talk of its small space certainly made me hesitate. I'm not partial to being bumped and jostled at every turn, but given the word of some of my most respected food geeks, I had to go. We went for a late lunch and actually found plenty of room.

We weren't super hungry, so didn't get that much - although I could certainly have kept gorging myself just because it was all so good. Check out the courses after the jump.


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March 1, 2011

Barcelona: Cafe Viena

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It's been several years since Mark Bittman wrote that the best sandwich he'd ever had was from a cafe in Barcelona, but it's been in the back of my head ever since. Now that we were there, it was high up on my shortlist of things to try while we were there.

The inauspicious Cafe Viena doesn't stand out from the various shops and cafes along La Rambla, but it's so worth the visit.

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February 18, 2011

In The Kitchen: Valentine's Day Dinner

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Monday night, Tammi and I skipped the amateur night crowds of Valentine's Day and had a nice meal at home together. I took a page from Amanda Hesser's recent New York Times Magazine piece on the standing rib roast and decided I wanted to try it at home. the final product came out wonderfully, but that was after having to make some last minute changes.

See more about how it went after the jump.

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January 28, 2011

Quick Bite: Steak & Egg at Lulu Wilson in Aspen

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Last year in Aspen, I had Lulu Wilson's Bacon and Egg dish, which I lit with my iPhone.

The other night, I made a return visit and found that the dish had grown into this Steak and Egg entree. This time, I used my iPad for a broader light over the whole dish.

January 27, 2011

The Philippines: Cebu-style Pig

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It wasn't until after the ceremony that I found out that Julia and Toby held their wedding in Cebu for one reason: The food. They both have family in The Philippines, but mostly in Manila and hour's flight away. Instead of gathering friends and family there, they chose Cebu City, the home of a particular type of lechon or suckling pig.

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January 25, 2011

In The Kitchen: Broiled Whole Branzino

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In pursuit of my goal of eating and cooking more fish, I decided to order some in a recent FreshDirect order. Part of my difficulty with fish is that I have a hard time keeping track of what fish have which textures. Some are firm, some or soft and mushy, some are oily and strongly flavored. I still don't have a lot in the way of a point of reference. So, I decided to go with the less imaginative option and just try to recreate the dish I had at Eataly the other day.

I ordered a whole branzino, just like I had there, butterflied and deboned. See how it went after the jump...

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January 18, 2011

In The Kitchen: Improvised Lamb Ribs, Fatty Cue style

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Back in those far-flung days or warmth and happiness that I like to call 'summertime,' I came across Sam Sifton's 'The Cheat' column featuring Fatty Cue's delicious rib recipe. Given how much I enjoyed the meals I've had there, I was very excited about trying it out. But then I never managed to get out and do much barbecuing last summer and my window passed. Now it's ridiculously cold and I can't even get my back door open through all the snow.

Instead, I improvised my own take on the recipe using lamb ribs and letting my slow cooker do most of the work. The result doesn't have any of the smokiness that insinuates itself into every tender scrap of meat at the restaurant, but it's something I can make now without having to wait for the thaw. Check out the step by step after the jump.

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January 16, 2011

Food Finds: Top Shelf

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Grand Street, Chinatown, NYC. 2010.

January 12, 2011

Vietnam: Pho 24

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When planning to go to Vietnam, I had two major foods I wanted to eat as much of as possible: pho and banh mi sandwiches. Our trip to Cambodia didn't leave us as much time to explore as I'd hoped, so my pho exploration was limited to a couple visits to Pho 24, one of the local pho chains around Saigon.

I'm sure there are a million varieties of pho to be had around Vietnam, much of which may be better than what I had here, but I can say honestly that this was the best I've ever had.

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January 7, 2011

Cambodia: Street Sandwiches in Siem Reap

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Most of the eating we did while in Cambodia was in the sit down joints up and down 'pub street,' the main tourist drag in Siem Reap. I didn't get a lot of opportunity to explore the street carts offerings the way I did in Saigon. There was the lady selling those yummy sausages and someone else who I got some barbecue chicken wing nubs from, but I didn't see nearly as many sandwich carts as I did in Vietnam.

After visiting Num Pang here in New York, I was curious to see how different the local sandwiches stood apart. I only saw one cart around where we were selling them, so of course, I tried it. Twice.

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January 6, 2011

Cambodia: Barbecue on Pub Street

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In a town as full of tourists as Siem Reap, Tammi and I indulged in some of the typically touristy spectacle-seeking activities like the fish pedicure and eating some odd meats at a barbecue joint that clearly catered to the sensational eating crowd.

While I eat my fair share of foods that might gross some people out, I seldom engage in the bizarre foods contests that becomes more about eating weird stuff rather than food that actually tastes good. This time we figured 'what the hell?' Check it out after the jump.

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January 4, 2011

Cambodia: Shellfish Street Cart

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I saw a few carts like this while walking around town in Siem Reap, but I didn't partake. They were selling what looked like tiny clams tossed in spices and hot pepper flakes. Get a closer look after the jump.

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January 3, 2011

Cambodia: Street Cart Sausages in Siem Reap

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Compared to Vietnam, the street food in Siem Reap, Cambodia was pretty sparse. I did manage to find some carts selling skewers of chicken wing ends and even a cart with a variation on the banh mi sandwiches I love so much (more on that to come). The best of the cart food I found was from a lady selling these sweet, salty sausages.

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December 31, 2010

Learning about fish at Eataly's Pesce

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As I've said in years past, I don't really do resolutions as such, but on my list of things to learn more about for the last couple of years has been cooking and eating fish. Yeah, yeah, health blah blah blah. It's good for me, but it's also a whole area of food that up until now I've been woefully unfamiliar about.

So, the week before Christmas, Tammi and I took a break from shopping and stopped in at Eataly for lunch at Pesce, the seafood restaurant by Esca chef, Dave Pasternack. Check out the courses after the jump...


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December 30, 2010

Vietnam: Barbecue Beef at 3T Quan Nuong

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We found 3T Quan Nuong while rummaging through our guidebook for restaurants near the Dong Khoi area where we spent most of our time in Saigon. It doesn't take a lot to sell me on barbecue of any kind, but cook at your table barbecue in a roof garden pretty much demanded my attention. How could we go anywhere else? See the food after the jump.

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Vietnam: Sidewalk Culture

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I risk losing any credibility I might have by gushing over and over about how 'fascinated' I am by one aspect or another of Vietnamese culture, but I can't help it. The scooters zipping around Saigon clearly got my attention. And how could I not be obsessed with the myriad banh mi carts serving up any number of variations of pork on pork deliciousness?

Similarly, how could I not be fascinated by the sidewalk culture we saw there. Day and night, people sat out on little plastic stools talking, eating and generally gathering with their communities.


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December 29, 2010

Vietnam: Com Tam Moc

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Having spent most of my eating time in Saigon obsessing over banh mi sandwiches, I didn't really get a chance to explore too many of the other culinary stylings of Vietnam. But on our first morning, we grabbed breakfast/lunch at Com Tam Moc, down the block from our hotel. Cơm tấm apparently refers to the leftover fragments of rice grains which are sorted out and sold cheaper.

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In the Kitchen: The best way to render lard at home

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The star of my Christmas haul this year has to be the meat grinder Tammi bought for me. After I read about the Alfa MC5 on Michael Ruhlman's holiday gift guide, it immediately made it to the top of my wishlist.

Once I opened it up, my first task was clear: grinding up some fatback to render lard. See the hows and wherefores after the jump.

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December 21, 2010

Lunch: How does Paris Sandwich stand up to the Banh Mi in Saigon?

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After writing up my Five Tips for Eating Banh Mi in Saigon, I found myself craving another Vietnamese sandwich. On my last trip down to Chinatown, when I went to Banh Mi Saigon, I noticed Paris Sandwich across the street and added it to my mental to-do list, so this time I decided to give it a try...


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December 20, 2010

Five Tips for Eating Banh Mi in Saigon

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Going to Vietnam, I was excited more than anything else for the street food. I mean, obviously. After all, I even made a lunch expedition to Chinatown ahead of the trip just to pre-game it at Banh Mi Saigon.

So, while in Ho Chi Minh City - which everyone we spoke to continues to call Saigon - I made a point of seeking out as many of these sandwiches as I could find. In the process, I came up with a few tips for the hungry traveler seeking out this particular deliciousness while in Vietnam.


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December 17, 2010

Hong Kong: Egg Tarts at Tai Cheong Bakery

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On my list of recommendations for places I should not miss in Hong Kong, a friend added the egg tarts at Tai Cheong Bakery. I didn't know much about it, but it sounded like a nice snack, so we went for it. When we finally found it, the line out the door and the newspaper clips posted of the former British governor scarfing down the famous tarts confirmed that we were in the right place.

The bakery appears to sell other items, but it seemed like the egg tarts were the main attraction. Right in front of the counter a warming tray keeps them hot and ready for each new customer. Take a look after the jump.

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The Stoned Crow Closing its Doors

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Sorry to interrupt the long string of Asia travel posts, but I just heard this and want to spread the word.

I've got bad news for longtime barflies and burger lovers: Greenwich Village bar, The Stoned Crow is closing at the end of the year. If you know the bar, you're already making plans to head over there now. If you don't, here's why you need to go.

For years, The Stoned Crow has been slinging one of the best burgers in town with little of the hype that has made nearly every other good burger in town an ordeal to get a hold of.

In part, the place stayed under the radar by sitting on a quiet block, away from the hustle and hassle of nearby Bleeker and MacDougal Streets. In fact, you've most likely passed it by on the way to Washington Square Park, neighboring Blue Hill or even the Radio Shack on the corner.

Go inside and you'll be rewarded with a laid-back atmosphere, a beer selection that includes some craft beers but doesn't obsess over it and a pretty amazing burger.

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December 16, 2010

Hong Kong Food Finds: Cream Flavoured Collon

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Found in a Hong Kong supermarket. I'm pretty sure there's nothing I can say that will make this more ridiculous.

Hong Kong: Amazing Ramen at Butao King

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When planning the Hong Kong portion of our trip around Asia, I expected to partake in all sorts of Chinese food from Cantonese to Szechuan and all sorts of foods I'd never heard of. What I didn't plan on was spending two hours in line to go to a Japanese ramen shop, but that's what happened. The night we arrived, I picked up a copy of the local Time Out to see what food and events were below the radar of the guide books. The review for Butao King, a tiny ramen shop in Central was so amazing that there was no question we had to try it.

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December 13, 2010

Hong Kong: Brat

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Among all the western foods available in SoHo, Brat stuck out most of all to me. An American-style sausage shop, done up like it could be in Brooklyn or Downtown Manhattan - in fact there's a place called Brats in Chelsea.

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I stopped in once and was tempted to eat there. I was put off by the lady who worked there who insisted that I could only take photos if it was for personal use. I don't know the restaurant politics in Hong Kong, but I didn't really feel like going somewhere where I'd be hassled about taking food photos.

Still, given the American junk I ate on my last day of the trip, I should definitely gone here instead.

December 8, 2010

Hong Kong: Guts on a Stick

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I was really excited about the street food when coming out to Asia and I've eaten quite a bit of it, particularly in Vietnam - more to come on that. But I couldn't quite bring myself to try these intestines at a market in Kowloon while we were in Hong Kong. They looked interesting and even Tammi thought about it until asking what it was. The lady gestured to her gut and it was immediately clear.

We'll be back in Hong Kong a couple more times before heading home, so maybe I'll muster up the -ahem- intestinal fortitude to give it a go.

Hong Kong: CraftSteak?

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Walking through one of the restaurant strips in the SoHo area of Central Hong Kong, Tammi and I came across CraftSteak. I hadn't known of Colicchio and co having another branch of the now closed restaurant, so I looked closer.

According to the card, the CraftSteak Hong Kong as a whole family of familiarly named restaurants including Blue Smoke, BLT Burger, and Olive among others. I'm presuming these are all licensees and not some crazy joint venture that somehow flew under the radar.

December 7, 2010

Hong Kong Food Finds: Curry Beef Brisket & Tendon with Rice

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We landed in Hong Kong just before midnight. There wasn't much exploring to be done by the time we got to the apartment and our friend whose house we were staying in was out of town, so couldn't direct us anywhere. But we were both ravenous. We made our way to the nearby 7 Eleven in the hopes of anything to eat.

That's when I an across this particularly interesting Food Find: Maxim's Beef Brisket & Tendon with curry and rice. Adventures in TV Dinner after the jump.

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December 5, 2010

Hong Kong: Brunch Club

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Apparently brunch is a thing in Hong Kong too.

December 2, 2010

Hong Kong: McDonald's Red Bean Pie

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While in Hong Kong, we made an emergency bathroom run to a McDonald's in Kowloon. I tend to avoid such Americanisms even at home, but really try to avoid them when I'm out of the country. That said, I'm very intrigued by this Red Bean Pie dessert they sell there. The fried pie shell reminds me of the old school apple pies of my youth and I'm curious how it all works with red beans.

We'll be back in Hong Kong twice more before we head home, so maybe I'll give in and try it out.

November 30, 2010

Philly: Tapas Dinner at Bar Ferdinand

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The night before the marathon last weekend in Philadelphia, Tammi and I spent the evening hanging out in Northern Liberties. We had some drinks at Swift Half and Standard Tap and had a dinner of tapas at Bar Ferdinand.

Check out the course by course after the jump.

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November 29, 2010

Philly: DiNic's Again

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After the marathon last weekend in Philly, there was only one thing that my friend Guy needed to make the hurting stop: A roast pork sandwich from DiNic's. Get a look at the deliciousness after the jump.

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November 28, 2010

JFK: Croque Madame Opens

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Hanging out at the airport waiting for a flight isn't something people typically look forward to, but when I read that Andrew Carmellini of Locanda Verde was going to be a part of a new collection of restaurants and bars in JFK's Terminal 2, I immediately suggested that we get a jump on all that Thanksgiving traffic as we headed to Hong Kong.

It didn't hurt that it is located directly across from that bastion of high end mediocrity, Bonfire, my longtime nemesis in Delta Terminal eats.

Despite all the threats of passenger protests over TSA security measures, we more or less zipped through leaving a couple hours to spare before our flight. All the more time to explore the menu and have what turned out to be the first adventure of our trip. Sparks literally flew. Check it out after the jump.

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Analog Montreal: Charcuterie Hongroise

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If you've been following Analog UltraClay, you may have already seen some of the recent photos I posted from Charcuterie Hongroise. While walking up St Laurent toward Schwartz's on my last day in Montreal, I passed a few old school butcher shops that caught my attention.

It was the sausages hanging in the window that drew me in to boucherie hongroise. Montreal still has some of the old European style butcher shops that are quickly disappearing in New York.

See inside after the jump.


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November 22, 2010

Analog Montreal: Schwartz's Smoked Meat

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If there was any one food I absolutely had to eat in Montreal, it was the smoked meat sandwich at Schwartz's. Viande fumee was a revelation for me on my last trip there and Schwartz's topped the list.

Here in Brooklyn, we've got Mile End's excellent version, but I couldn't pass up an opportunity to go to the source.

So, on our last day in town, when my friends were brunching at the hotel and heading to the airport, I ditched everyone and made my way to St. Laurent to experience it again.

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November 19, 2010

Lunch: Banh Mi Saigon

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Even though I still have five days left before our trip to Asia starts, my mind has been 8,000 miles away for days. It's pretty much all I can think about.

Yesterday, my mental wandering took me on a trip far out of my usual bounds down to Chinatown to get a Vietnamese sandwich from Banh Mi Saigon, one of the old favorites in the banh mi craze. I'd never been there, but happened upon it a few nights ago and decided I had to return. Having rated first place in the Midtown Lunch Banh mi-palooza in the spring was definitely a good enough reference for me. Read on for the porky goodness.

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November 17, 2010

Montreal: Brunch at L'Express

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When I asked around about places to go with my group of friends in Montreal, Zach from Midtown Lunch emailed me right away to direct me to his findings that he posted on Serious Eats a while back.

Only being there for a weekend, I didn't get to check out a whole lot of it, but we did hit L'Express, on St. Denis in the French district for brunch our first morning there.

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November 16, 2010

Lunch at The John Dory Oyster Bar

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Today I strayed from my path of finding Midtown Lunch priced dishes in order to partake in some deliciousness from under the sea at the new John Dory Oyster Bar at the Ace Hotel.

The meal was a splurge to be sure, but was absolutely worth it. In the name of posting this now rather than waiting to make time to bloviate about each course, I'm going to post the courses after the jump with some brief notes. Enjoy!

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In The Kitchen: It's Soup Season

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As I've mentioned in years past, the upside of fall is soup. Delicious soup, rich and warming and filling in a way that pretty much nothing else is. This soup, made with pork, a special stock I had on hand and some really good pasta turned out to be ridiculously easy to make.

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November 15, 2010

In The Kitchen: Lamb Chili

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If you follow my Twitter feed, you've already heard a bit about this. Last weekend, I decided to take my cooking urges to new, improvised places. I was struck with the idea of making lamb chili with very little idea of how it would come out, but thinking that lamby flavors would make for a great meal in this chilly weather.

See the hows and wherefores after the jump.

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November 6, 2010

NC: Fatback by the pound

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Probably the most bizarre moment of my recent trip to North Carolina was when we drove up to this pick-up truck, I got out, reached in the back and took something like 15-20 pounds of fresh pork fatback. True story.

So, here's the thing, while you might be able Liver Mush at the supermarkets in Chapel Hill, you can't find pork belly anywhere. I even hit the farmers market looking for it, but was told that that there's no demand, so they just use it all for bacon. (I think this all very odd in the land of biscuits, barbecue and Paula Deen)

Last time I was in Chapel Hill, I benefited from the different demands by finding a farmer who gave me 7lbs of fatback for $3. This time, I ran into him again and he had more he wanted to get rid of.

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November 5, 2010

NC: Breakfast at Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen

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I'm not usually a breakfast eater, but while I was in Chapel Hill, my aunt told me how much her students love it when she brings in biscuits from Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen. I was curious. After a bit of Googling, I found a post about it on Serious Eats and I was ready to go right away.

After it was all done, my only regret was not going every day I was there. Check it out after the jump.

Continue reading "NC: Breakfast at Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen" »

November 4, 2010

It's Cooking Weather

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With apologies to Ruhlman for blatantly ripping off his old logo, I was inspired to take this photo as I've been spending a lot more time in the kitchen lately. The cooling weather has my nesting instincts. As I've been in the house more working on portfolios and plotting my entry into the photography business, I've also been cooking more. There's been braising, roasting, making stocks and I even made my first risotto. (Lesson learned, cook hotter, stir more, but definitely use the cheese rind stock again.)

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When in North Carolina last month, I cooked for a dozen or so people, the biggest audience I've had maybe all year. The big challenge was that I had to feed vegetarians and people with gluten allergies, hence the veggie stock prep above. It was a ton of fun and has only encouraged me to want to cook more. Hopefully one day I'm figure out how to cook and shoot at the same time and I could then actually blog about that from time to time. Here's hoping.

October 27, 2010

Quick Bite: Lasagna at Four Eleven West

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Dinner my last night in North Carolina was this lasagna at the bar at Four Eleven West on West Franklin. The pasta was a little too thick and doughy for my taste, but the bolognese sauce was magnificent.


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October 22, 2010

Food Finds: Liver Mush


Food Finds: Liver Mush, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I'm in North Carolina this weekend visiting my aunt. In the past, I've pined for the wide open aisles and the extensive selections of the suburban supermarket, but here's one thing I'm not particularly jealous of: Liver Mush.

I suppose it's aptly named,but I feel like they probably could have worked a little harder on the branding...

October 7, 2010

Morini Preview Dinner

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Last night, I took Eric out for his birthday. He managed to get us hooked up with reservations for Morini, the Osteria by Chef Michael White in Nolita. We had an amazing meal of antipasti, pastas and porchetta - not to mention a tasty dessert wine.

Check out the visual tasting tour of the meal after the jump.

Continue reading "Morini Preview Dinner" »

September 23, 2010

Food Finds: Admiration Mayonnaise

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Curry Cart, Midtown, NYC. 2010.

September 10, 2010

Quick Bite: Sausage at The Vanderbuilt

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It's been a little while since I posted any food porn, so here's a quick bite of a couple sausages we had at Prospect Heights' The Vanderbuilt. Above is smokey kielbasa with chickpeas, below, merguez, served on a bed of couscous. Delicious.

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The Vanderbuilt, 570 Vanderbilt Avenue, Brooklyn. 718.623.0570

September 8, 2010

The Brooklyn Flea brings back memories

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I'm behind the times in wholeheartedly embracing the Brooklyn Flea. I've been a fan since its inception, but somehow never quite made it over there very often. Lately though, I've found myself there weekly and loving the experience for all the new and old sensations they evoke.

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First, the history. Back before the development boom put giant condos on every block, the strip of 6th Avenue between 23rd Street and, say, 30th Street was home to what seemed like a dozen parking lots that all turned into big open air markets on the weekends. Vendors hawked old comic books, toys, antiques, camera, radio and electronic equipment and all sorts of other hidden gems just waiting to be discovered.

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Second, there's all the food. The food vendors of the flea have banded together and besides being a destination on the weekends at the two Flea locations, they also sold food at Central Park Summerstage shows all summer. More on that to come.

I was going to try to do one post about the Flea and I realized that I couldn't really do it. Since I've been shooting analog on the weekends, I have accrued quite a few photos of the Flea on film. Over the next month or so, I'll post Analog Flea pics every couple days as part of my Ektar 300 series. some will include commentary, so will speak for themselves.

Stay tuned.

September 6, 2010

Eataly: The Staff

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The big story of the moment in the food world is the opening of Eataly, Mario Batali's transplanting of an Italian mega-market to New York. The gigantic space has restaurants, a bakery, a book store and a wine shop interspersed with market spaces selling meat, charcuterie & cheeses, gelato, produce and various other groceries.

The size and spectacle of the place alone is enough to work the eaterati into a lather. I know I was excited. So, Tuesday night, I joined the hordes and scoped out the lunch-worthy options for Midtown Lunch.

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The whole wide internet seems to be reporting on this place right now, so I'll dispense with that except to say that the food is great, the place is huge and it can be more than a little confusing to get around - especially when it's jammed with hundreds of other pushy foodies who absolutely need to be there right away.

That said, I thought I'd dedicate this Labor Day post to the remarkably attentive and friendly staff. More photos of these folks at work, including a spot check in the pizza kitchen from Molto Mario himself after the jump.

Continue reading "Eataly: The Staff" »

August 23, 2010

Quick Bite: Dim Sum at Jing Fong

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Some photos from Dim Sum in Chinatown the other day.

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Continue reading "Quick Bite: Dim Sum at Jing Fong" »

August 17, 2010

Analog Bed-Stuy: Saraghina

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I've been excited about Saraghina since their opening a year ago. Yet, for some reason, I haven't managed to post about it despite thoroughly enjoying many a meal there. I seem to have a block on it.

Today, I'm hoping to circumvent that block by just posting some visuals as part of my Analog and Bed-Stuy projects. Really though, the place photographs amazingly well. It's an eclectic space decorated with strange and interesting signs and objects on the walls and dangling from the ceilings.

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The food is also quite nice to look at, if you can spare the moment to shoot before tearing into it. See some of the food and more of the space after the jump. Most of these were taken with Ektar film, except for the final, which was shot months ago with Fuji Velvia.

Continue reading "Analog Bed-Stuy: Saraghina" »

August 11, 2010

Quick Bite: Hot House Fried Chicken

Nashville-style fried chicken at Peaches Hothouse in Bed-Stuy

Dinner the other night at Peaches Hothouse over in our old section of Bed-Stuy.

The chicken is still magnificent, with a kick that left me sweating. On the side was bacon cream corn, which helped cool me down a little.

While we were there, the Cooking Channel was there filming for one of their shows. Given that (evil) Cablevision doesn't carry the Cooking Channel, I expect no one in the neighborhood will see it.

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One note about the chicken. Those spices are killer and will get on your hands. Be sure to wash them before changing contacts or touching any sensitive bits. I'll just leave it at that.

Quick Bite: Bar Bambino

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Before heading out of San Francisco in June, my colleagues and I grabbed lunch at Bar Bambino in The Mission. Here are a few analog shots from the meal.

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Continue reading "Quick Bite: Bar Bambino" »

August 6, 2010

Pig Roast at The Breslin

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When I last mentioned The Breslin, I wasn't so pleased. The scene of 'sophisticated' frat-boys doesn't do anything for me and the fact that the 'gatekeepers' types stand between me and really magnificent food only made me that much more resentful.

I hadn't been there since my early visits, though I'm regularly tempted. That is until I got the note that The Tower of Justice was gathering friends there for a pig roast as a part of his Bachelor Party weekend of gluttony. The TOJ has guided me, again and again through some of the best food on the west coast, so he is definitely one for picking the right meals and this one was spot on.

Snooty host station and a douchey clientele can only keep me from so much deliciousness before I breakdown and eat some pig. After the jump, see how the pig above turn into this:

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Also, check out the brain shot (last one if you'd prefer to skip). It was the first brain I've ever tasted. It was interesting in texture, sort of pasty. The rest of the meal was amazing - as would be expected. The shoulder offered the juiciest, most succulent portions of meat, but, really, it was all amazing. I'm pretty sure I'm not going to be able to hold up my avoidance of trendy jackasses and pissy hostesses for very long after that meal.

Continue reading "Pig Roast at The Breslin" »

August 4, 2010

Quick Bite: Fried Chicken at Blue Ribbon Sushi

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Blue Ribbon Sushi, Columbus Circle, NYC. 2010.

August 3, 2010

Quick Bite: Mexican Brunch at Dos Segundos

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On our last trip to Philly, Tammi and I enjoyed our last meal in town at Dos Segundos, a Mexican spot in Northern Liberties. I had the chilaquiles, above, which I discovered in San Francisco a couple years back.

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Tammi had the chimichanga, which is basically a fried burrito and inexplicably, something I've never had myself.

Deliciousness ensued.

August 2, 2010

Quick Bite: Stuffed Squash Blossoms at Rustic Tavern

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Rustic Tavern, Santa Monica, Los Angeles. 2009.

July 30, 2010

SF: Lark Creek Steak

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While in San Francisco, my colleagues and I had dinner at Lark Creek Steak upstairs at the Westfield Mall, the place with the awesome food court I mentioned last year.

The best part was that we scored seats at the counter, watching all the action in the kitchen. The food was great, but for me, the more entertaining part was watching (and shooting) the staff as they worked.

Check out some of the highlights after the jump.

Continue reading "SF: Lark Creek Steak" »

July 29, 2010

Quick Bite: Cabrito's Border Dog

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Last year, I lamented the fact that I chickened out on trying the bacon-wrapped hot dogs in Los Angeles. The other day, I finally got a chance to try a version of it.

Among the tasty happy hour specials at Cabrito are a selection of 'Border Dogs,' that is, bacon-wrapped hot dogs with yummy toppings including the guac and chicharrones you see here.

The special also includes a Dos Equis, which I'd just as soon skipped in favor of one of the better drink options. Really though, it didn't matte what I washed it down with, it was glorious.

July 28, 2010

Quick Bite: No. 7 Tacos

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Pork shoulder tacos at No. 7, Fort Greene, Brooklyn. 2010.

July 27, 2010

Quick Bite: Tapenade

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Olive Tapenade, Fraiche, Los Angeles. 2009.

July 23, 2010

Maialino

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After the success of last week's visual food tour of our meal at Williamsburg's Fatty Cue, I decided to similarly catch up on my meal at Danny Meyer's Maialino. Tammi took me there last month for my birthday and we had a fantastic time.

As with all of Meyer's restaurants, the service was amazing and course after course, the food was delicious.

See the photos after the jump.

Continue reading "Maialino" »

July 21, 2010

The Limelight Resurrected as a Mall

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I was a lame teenager. I didn't go to clubs or do drugs or even drink much. I spent most of my free time hanging out and wandering the city. But I certainly heard stories about Limelight, then a notorious nightclub housed in a former Episcopal church. I wasn't religious back then either, but it always struck me as pretty ballsy.

This spring the space was reopened as a mall, much to the dismay of many a former club kid. It is a bit of a shock, but to hear some people describe it, you'd think it was a desecration of holy ground... Oh wait.

So, with no real ties to its previous incarnation, I stopped in the other day to take a look at the space. See a couple shots of the space after the jump.

Continue reading "The Limelight Resurrected as a Mall" »

July 20, 2010

SF: Rosamunde's Mission Bar

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Rosamunde Sausage Grill, the closet-sized sausage shack next door to Toronado, the best beer bar in San Francisco, has gone into the bar business.

Get a peek inside after the jump.

Continue reading "SF: Rosamunde's Mission Bar" »

July 19, 2010

Quick Bite: Mile End's Smoked Meat

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I finally made it to Mile End in Boerum Hill the other day. I've been enamored with Montreal-style Smoked Meat since my first trip to the Great Up North in 2002.

Viande fumee as they call it in the French part of town, is easily as tender as the best pastrami in New York, but has a stronger smokiness to it and lacks the pepper crusting of a traditional pastrami.

Check out the sandwich after the jump...

Continue reading "Quick Bite: Mile End's Smoked Meat" »

July 18, 2010

Quick Bite: Irish Breakfast

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While we were in Philly, Tammi, my sister and I watching Germany trounce Argentina at Tir Na Nog, a gigantic Irish Pub in Center City.

This was breakfast:
Eggs, baked beans, mushrooms, Irish bacon, maple sausages, and black and white Pudding - black pudding being blood sausage, in case you missed the euphemism.

July 16, 2010

Malcolm X Blvd Farmers Market Open for the Season

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Last weekend, the Malcolm X Blvd Farmers Market reopened in our corner of Bed-Stuy. I only had a moment to pass through, but I was pleased to see that it's gotten bigger than last year.

The market will be on the corner of Marion and Malcolm X Blvd from 8am to 2pm every Saturday through October. It's awesome to have fresh, local fruits and veggies in the neighborhood, so please come out and show some support.

SF: Boccalone's Nduja

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While in San Francisco, I always try to swing by Boccalone in the Ferry Building. A couple years back, Chris Cosentino, the offal-loving chef of Incanto, opened up this Italian charcuterie shop selling all sorts of interesting salumi including 'fennel-orange' and this, nduja.

Pronounced, end-oo-ya, this spicy sausage evoked a bit of mystery last year when the NY Times wrote up a piece about it calling it "The Lady Gaga of pork products." So, yeah, that's a little stupid, but I had to taste it anyway.

Take a look under the wraps after the jump.

Continue reading "SF: Boccalone's Nduja" »

July 15, 2010

Food Finds: Soothing Teas

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Chinatown, NYC. 2010.

SF: 4505 Meats

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Unfortunately, I didn't end up finding time during my trip to San Francisco to do a butchery shoot with Ryan Farr as I'd hoped to do after meeting him at Cochon 555 in the spring. I did manage to catch up with him briefly at his stand at the Thursday Farmers Market at the Ferry Building.

I spoke to him for a bit while he was setting up and he gave me a quick taste of the day's special. It was all i could do to walk around and wait for them to start serving to get a full serving for myself.

Check it out after the jump.

Continue reading "SF: 4505 Meats" »

July 14, 2010

Boerum Hill's da vine provisions Opens Today

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Today, Boerum Hill wine shop, donna da vine expands into the beer and cheese market with a new shop called da vine provisions right next door. Tammi and I have been friends with Alyssa Becker, the owner, from back when she owned donna da vine wine bar across the street.

At the wine shop, Alyssa's focus has always been obscure wines from the pacific northwest that don't often make it to the New York market, so, I'm sure she's already on the case to get us beer from some of the small breweries in the west. Similarly, she's sourcing breads, cheeses and other items from small batch producers all over the place.

The shop did a soft opening over the weekend, but I wasn't able to stop in to check it out. I did get a chance to take a few photos of the space while they were still setting up. Check them out after the jump.
Expect a big opening party tonight with tastings of many of the beers, breads and cheeses.

da vine provisions, 355 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn - 718.643.2250

Continue reading "Boerum Hill's da vine provisions Opens Today" »

July 13, 2010

Dinner at Fatty Cue

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Fatty Cue in Williamsburg is the long awaited barbecue branch of Zak Pelaccio's Fatty Crab restaurants. It takes Asian flavors, fish sauce, peanuts, and so on and adds a rich, thick smokiness to just about everything.

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Manning the smoker is Robbie Richter, who launched Texas barbecue joint Hill County in the Flatiron District. Eric, Tammi and I had dinner there recently and feasted on duck, ribs, more ribs. It was an amazing meal that I could probably document a bit more extensively given some time.

Lacking that, I think I'll let the pictures speak for me this time. Check out the luscious, meaty wonderfulness after the jump.

Continue reading "Dinner at Fatty Cue" »

July 1, 2010

New Amsterdam Market starts a new season

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Sunday morning the New Amsterdam Market started up for the season. Obviously, I'm behind on some posts, so I'll just post photos from the the market. Over the summer, the market will be going on monthly, come September, it'll be weekly through December.

Photos after the jump:

Continue reading "New Amsterdam Market starts a new season " »

June 30, 2010

Butchery: Japanese Premium Beef

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About a year ago, a new Japanese Butcher shop opened up in NoHo. They specialize in Washugyu, Wagyu-hybrid beef that is raised in the Pacific Northwest to be deeply marbled like the beef from Kobe, Japan.

I stopped in once to get a couple photos, but haven't had a chance to get back to take a better look at their goods either photographically or to take home and cook.

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Most of the write ups about the place point out that it looks more like one of the area boutiques than any butcher shop. It's true and that's at least in part due to the fact that most of the meat is cut at their supplier, not on site.

I suppose that makes this shop more of a reseller than an actual butcher shop, and therefore not the same as my other butchery subjects. But, given how interesting and delicious the marbled beef I had in Japan was, I'll let it slide. Meat like that just needs a quick sear and it's ready to eat. If that. When we were in Tokyo I had some thinly sliced beef at a Yakiniku restaurant in Ginza that was so rich and wonderfully marbled, they encouraged us to eat it raw.

I probably wouldn't go that far if I were cooking it at home, but one of those steaks would be marvelous thrown on the grill for just long enough to get a good char.

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June 28, 2010

SF: Incanto

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My first meal in SF was an early birthday dinner at Incanto, Chris Cosentino's Italian offal house in Noe Valley has long been on my wishlist of places to eat, but was never convenient when I was in town. This trip, I made time for it.

The food after the jump.

Continue reading "SF: Incanto" »

June 7, 2010

Babbo Birthday Dinner

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I took Tammi out to Babbo for her birthday a couple weeks ago. It was
her first time there and my first time in years. It's a pain to get a
reservation and we had dinner at 5:30pm, but the meal was amazing and
the service friendly.

It just happened to be the day I received my Canon 5D Mk II, so of
course I had to see how it did with the food porn.

After the jump, grilled octopus, soft shell crab, grilled beef tongue
and more.

Continue reading "Babbo Birthday Dinner" »

May 18, 2010

Self Promotion: City Seen at Habana Outpost

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I'm very excited to announce that Habana Outpost has invited me to put up a show of my photography next month. It will run for the first half of June, with photos up on Tuesday, June 1st through Monday, June, 14th.

The show, which I'm calling "City Seen" will center on my street photography, with some photos that should be familiar to those who have followed the blog for a while including a couple of my all-time favorites.

For updates and further details, rsvp to the City Seen event page on Facebook.

May 10, 2010

Butchery: The Offal Cook

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This is Chichi aka The Offal Cook. She blogs for herself and Serious Eats about cooking with all those wonderful bits of animals that get tossed aside and forgotten.

Much like I've taken my meat and photography interests to this butchery project, Chichi has followed her lifelong fascination with off-cuts to a similar end.

She has been writing a series called The Butcher's Cuts about traveling up to Kingston to learn about butchering at Fleisher's.

Given the similarities in our projects, It's really awesome to see where she's gone with it. Her posts have chronicled the lessons she's learned from her time butchering. She's also managed to come away with some awesome recipes for working with these cuts. I was especially excites to see what she did with a pig's head, resulting in both a terrine of head cheese and a batch of ramen stock. And because some things still shock me a little, I was fascinated with her account of (and recipe for) cooking scrambled brains.

If my posts on meat and butchery have been at all interesting, I'd definitely recommend taking a look at Chichi's column. Enjoy!


May 7, 2010

Recently on Midtown Lunch: Flatiron Excursions

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It's been a while since I've plugged my posts on Midtown Lunch. That's in part because I've been spending a lot of time eating and writing for it instead. There have been plenty of posts, from Taco Trucks to restaurant openings and even some tasty, if overpriced meatballs. But the big news for me is that I've now taken over the weekly Flatiron Lunch column every Friday.

Working on the southern edge of Midtown means that I've got as many options out of bounds as I do within Midtown proper. I've posted before about wanting to go out and explore my food options further afield and this has become a great excuse to do so.

See some of what I've been checking out after the jump.

Continue reading "Recently on Midtown Lunch: Flatiron Excursions" »

May 4, 2010

Butchery: Pure Ground Awesome!

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Sadly, I didn't end up buying this when I was at Fleisher's for the Pig to Pork trip, but a burger made of ground beef with ground bacon mixed in is something I have to try. Seriously.

May 3, 2010

Butchery: From Pig to Pork

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Last weekend's trip to Fleisher's in Kingston, NY was instigated by an event they were having called "From Pig to Pork." The premise of the class being to take 'civilians' a step beyond the butchering classes. We went out to a farm in Stone Ridge, about half an hour away from the shop to see the actual slaughter of a pig and the subsequent prep work that is done before it's sent to a butcher.

In other hands, a grisly scene like this could be tastelessly sensationalized, but led off with an introduction by Jessica Applestone, Fleisher's owner and wife of "Moo-ru" Josh Applestone, the event was soberly presented. The point of the exercise is to further bring home the point that our food comes from animals not boxes, they were alive and were killed to feed us. Given that, it's imperative to utilize as much of them as we can, not pick out a few choice lean cuts and let the rest rot.

I've got more than a few observations and photos that I'll be posting over the next couple weeks under the header: From Pig to Pork. The photos may be a bit macabre here and there, but I'll do my best to keep those after the jump, so as to avoid freaking anyone out.

In the meantime, if you'd like to see the photos from without all my insightful commentary, they are posted in a set on Flickr.

Peaches Hothouse

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I finally made it back to Peaches Hothouse after my First Look last month. Tammi and I met up there after work the other day and decided to see how the restaurant is coming along and finally find out what this Nashville-style fried chicken is all about.

The dining area is smaller and thus a bit more tight than Peaches or Smoke Joint. In my conversations with owner, Craig Samuels, that seems to be more of the point of Hothouse, a small southern bistro with a varying menu of interesting foods.

The space, a work in progress during the soft opening, seems to have gotten many of the finishing touches taken care of.

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Sadly, one of the touches that hasn't been completed is the liquor license. Despite the tantalizing bar, the SLA still hasn't come through with the goods, so it's byob for the moment.

In our regular visits to Peaches, I've talked to Craig a lot about the business, the industry and the neighborhood. He's told me a bit about what's going on in the kitchen, it all sounds pretty interesting. They've got a smoker in there and are starting to work on their own sausages and doing prep for the other restaurants. I'm hoping to get a chance to go in and photograph them at some point.

In the meantime, he gave us a few samples of the menu while we waited for the chicken to come out. See the food after the jump.

Continue reading "Peaches Hothouse" »

April 23, 2010

Butchery Weekend: Going to the source

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After much scheduling difficulties, I'm finally taking the trip up to Fleisher's in Kingston, NY this weekend. Sunday, they are hosting a full day butchery class that I'm going to photograph. The event will go from slaughter to sausage and everything in between.

It should be an interesting experience and will give me whole lot more material to shoot.

April 21, 2010

Food Finds: Roland Snails

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Chinatown, NYC. 2010.

Quick Bite: Cabrito

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I imagine many people might not have much of an appetite after watching a pair of goats being butchered, but after my Cabrito shoot, I very much craved some of their tacos. Luckily, the shoot didn't end up taking very long, so there was time for me to sit down and have a few.

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I had a chorizo, up top, a lengua, above, and a pork belly, below. Sadly the cabrito is only sold as a larger dish, so not so much a lunch dish. It was all delicious, regardless, but a return visit for some of that goat is definitely in the cards.

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April 18, 2010

Butchery: In the Cabrito Kitchen

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Last week, I took my butchery project out of the shop into a restaurant kitchen. I went to Cabrito, one of my favorite spots for Mexican in town. After months of email tag with the Chef, David Schuttenberg, we finally nailed down a time for me to come in to photograph him as he took apart a pair of young goats for the week's supply of the restaurant's signature dish.

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It was all very interesting for a few reasons. First off, goats are fairly different from most other animals I've seen taken apart before. David said they are more like rabbits than anything else. They're lean and lithe with fewer 'cuts' as such on them. That's particularly true of the young ones like they get at Cabrito and that they're carrying at Dicksons.

I was shocked at how quick the whole process was. That's in part because he wasn't cutting up chops or roasts like one would for a pig or a cow, but also because the goat just doesn't have nearly as much meat to it.

more photos and prep after the jump...

Continue reading "Butchery: In the Cabrito Kitchen" »

April 16, 2010

Gratuitous Bacon Shot

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April 14, 2010

Miami: Señora Martinez

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After the cruise, Tammi and I had several hours to kill in Miami. It's not so much a walking town, so we found ourselves hanging out nowhere in particular until lunchtime when we were one of the first ones in the door at Señora Martinez in the Design District.

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The tapas-ish menu had a lunch time pre-fixe which greatly accommodated both our desire for little snacks, like the pan con tomate, above and for a more substantial main, like my perfectly done burger, below. There was also the roasted red peppers and the bacon-wrapped bleu cheese stuffed dates, after the jump.

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The lunch deal was quite a bargain, but, in the end, it was our bar bill that did us in. With so much time to kill and only airport time ahead, there was little else to do but to spend the afternoon imbibing in the libations on hand.

Miami's not so much my sort of town, but if I were to find myself back there, Sra. Martinez would certainly at the top of my list of places to eat.


Continue reading "Miami: Señora Martinez" »

April 9, 2010

Vancouver: Granville Island Market

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I've been waiting so long to put together a post on Vancouver's Granville Island Market, that I'm just about out of anything to say about it besides that it was a lovely time wandering through it.

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We took one of those tiny boats there and walked around and ogled the food, particularly the meat, on display.

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April 8, 2010

Food Finds: Bird's Custard

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Foodtown, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. 2010.

Quick Bite: Baoguette

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The beautiful weather this week has drawn me further afield for lunch than I would usually travel. I suddenly found myself craving some deep sun and delicious ground pork.

That led me on a trip to Baoguette. I've lunched at the Lexington branch before, but this time I made it all the way down to the East Village and sat at the eat-in Baoguette Cafe.

It doesn't get much better than sitting in the sun watching St. Mark's Place go by. It was a hard trip back up to Midtown.

April 7, 2010

Cooking: Easter Bunny

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This weekend, I took my own twisted turn at Easter dinner. Heathen that I am, I wouldn't have known when Easter even was if not for the Lenten lunch I had a couple weeks ago.

A recent article in The Times about rabbit as an upcoming food trend inspired me to finally seek out a rabbit to play with in the kitchen.

I've only cooked rabbit once, years ago, on a trip to Paris with Tammi. I found a whole rabbit shrink-wrapped in a market near our apartment in the Marais. I've wanted to do it again ever since, but prices and availability make rabbit more difficult to cook often.

I'm fond of rabbit, but the price point isn't really a good one for experimentation. This D'artagnan rabbit, purchased at The Meat Hook, cost about $30 at $10 a pound. Not cheap for something about the size of a chicken.

Follow the jump for the before pic and a blow by blow on how I cooked it.

Continue reading "Cooking: Easter Bunny" »

Seattle: Dahlia Lounge

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This was a magnificent piece of braised pork topped with a poached egg and a dollop of sweet and spicy Asian hot sauce. It was one of the many great small courses I had in Seattle at Dahlia Lounge (after a brief starter at Lola).

Again, I don't remember so much of the particulars, so I'll leave the pictures to speak for themselves.

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April 4, 2010

Cruising: Mongolian Barbecue

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Cruises are famous for having loads and loads of food. Besides the main dinner with its awkward times and assigned seating, there are buffets and carving stations and it's all you can eat nearly around the clock.

Now, an abundance of food does not mean all the food is good. By and large the selections tend to be more like a college cafeteria, but there are a few gems mixed in.

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My favorite was the Mongolian Barbecue Station. It's basically a stir fry station with udon noodles. Simple and tasty, Tammi and I jumped to get it before the inevitable line formed.

The guys working the woks were amused by my photographing them.

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April 2, 2010

Seattle: The Alibi Room

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On my first day in Seattle, I came across the Alibi Room, just downstairs from Pike Market and across the path from the Gum Wall. Despite being in the heart of one of the biggest tourist attractions in town, the bar was subdued, comfortable and pleasant.

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The beer selection was mostly local, as would be expected in this part of the world. I sat at the bar and chatted with the bartender, who turned out to be one of the owners. He told me a bit of the history of the place. It had been owned by some actors, including Tom Skerritt for a time before he and his partners bought it.

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They sell small pizzas there, and after smelling it for a couple rounds, I couldn't resist ordering one. I presumed that they were typical bar-sized pizza that make a good fit for one. Instead I got this giant, which I couldn't finish even though I hadn't eaten since landing in town several hours earlier.

Alibi Room. 85 Pike St at Post Alley # 410, Seattle. 206.623.3180

April 1, 2010

Lunch: Single Serve Korean Barbecue at Don's Bogam

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Korean Barbecue is awesome: the big plate piled with meats, the sizzling grill and the smell of all of it cooking in front of you and a group of friends sharing it all. The whole experience is fun and filling and leisurely time-consuming.

The only problem is that it's not so conducive to the lunch schedule and doesn't really scale down for one person so well. Or it didn't, until I found Don's Bogam a couple weeks ago. It sits in relative obscurity a block away from the main Koreatown strip. I happened upon it one day during lunch and decided to give it a try. What drew me in were the lunch specials, which at $12.95 may be outside the Midtown Lunch price range, but still makes for a great bargain for barbecue.

Food and pics after the jump...

Continue reading "Lunch: Single Serve Korean Barbecue at Don's Bogam" »

March 28, 2010

Recently on Examiner: Jam Bands, Food Fests and Hip-Hop

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Woo! It's been a busy week. I've jumped back into the Examiner gig with both feet. Last Sunday night, after Cochon 555, I headed to Brooklyn to shoot The Disco Biscuits play Brooklyn Bowl. The night before, I covered the opening for Make It Fit at Brooklynite Gallery and the next night, I was at Choice Eats for Midtown Lunch. In one of my better attempts at synergy (without recycling, thank you), I managed to squeeze a Food Fest post together about Cochon 555 and Choice Eats, as well.

K-OS at Le Poisson Rouge

Besides all that, my Examiner column over the last couple weeks had recaps of a K-OS show in The Village, the third anniversary Mixer at Cakeshop and recommended Mé Bar for outdoor drinks on a Friday night when the weather was nice.

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This weekend, I've taken some much needed downtime at home with Tammi, but as the weather warms up, the activities in the city tend to multiply, so I expect to stay busy.

Recently on Midtown Lunch: Lines and Lent

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This week, I covered Monday's Village Voice Choice Eats, a food festival featuring over 60 restaurants. The good news is that there was plenty of good food and even though I had to stand in a line for an hour, which is totally something I don't do, I managed to stuff myself quite well before the crowd became so ridiculous that I had to bail.

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The Friday before that, I got a chance to meet up with my ML colleagues for a Lenten Lunch of all the seafood dishes under $10 at the Grand Central Oyster Bar. That was pretty fantastic, even for a heathen like me who has no idea when Easter is and tends not to eat a lot of fish. Brownie, of Blondie and Brownie posted a recap of the meal the other day.

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I'm so going back up to GCT for one of those Po Boys. Like, this week. The Rock Shrimp sandwich, above, was pretty fantastic too. I'd love to get a cup of the shrimp and eat them like popcorn. It was great to meet and trade notes with B&B, Jason of Me So Hungry, Amy of Amy Blogs Chow and Jenn.

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Most of my Midtown Lunch coverage this month has been stalking Kyochon, the new Korean Fried Chicken joint that opened, closed briefly to bad reviews and opened up again. That's all still in progress, so I'll have to get back to you on that in a week or so.

March 25, 2010

Food Finds: Pork & Ham Loaf

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Chinatown, NYC. 2010.

March 23, 2010

Butchery: Ryan Farr at Cochon 555

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Friday night I got an email from FoodBuzz telling me that I'd won a pair of tickets to Cochon 555, two days away. I was elated. At the event, chefs from some of the best restaurants in town had their way with five 125 pound pigs and handed out the results to attendees.

Yet, I only ate a couple small plates. Why? Because I'm a meat nerd and butchery awaited. Instead of grazing all evening, I spent a couple hours in the corner watching Ryan Farr, San Francisco's butcher king take apart a whole pig of his own.

Farr went muscle by muscle to show us cuts and techniques that I can't wait to try at home.

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He frenched a loin rack like one would a lamb roast. I think I'd have to see that several more times to even contemplate doing something like that.

Ryan Farr at Cochon 555 NYC

Really though, the coolest part was what Farr did with the head. He deboned it, removing the skull, then he stuffed the face with shoulder meat. After that, he sewed it all up with butchers' twine and a needle. See the slideshow after the jump for a blow by blow.

Ryan Farr at Cochon 555 NYC

I think I've found my next butchering challenge. Seriously, I've been all about cheeks and such for ages, it's time to graduate up to a whole head.

Talking to Farr about the classes he teaches back in San Francisco, I found out that unlike the classes here in New York, his classes are completely hands-on.

Before the session, I introduced myself and told him about my Butchery project. He was into the idea and told me I'd be welcome to come in to photograph a class the next time I'm in San Francisco. I'm hoping to be there over the summer at some point, so keep your fingers crossed.

Ryan Farr at Cochon 555 NYC

Continue reading "Butchery: Ryan Farr at Cochon 555" »

March 22, 2010

Food and Fashion meet for a laugh at The Astor Center (NSFW)

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I'm still catching up on the various shoots and events I've been juggling over the last month, so apologies for the delay. Just before our delay-laden trip last month, I shot a Gastronomica-sponsored Food and Fashion event at The Astor Center. The event began the Umami Art Festival and included a performance art piece called Robert Kushner and Friends Eat their Clothes. The distinctly odd show was brief and featured a fashion show made up of men and women (barely) dressed in foodstuff. Think an eggplant codpiece, a nori skirt and asparagus headwear.

I didn't end up posting it on my Nightlife column as I didn't want to test the posting guidelines, but if you'd like to see half naked artists dressed in vegetables and such, follow the jump and check out the extended Food Fashion set on Flickr.

Continue reading "Food and Fashion meet for a laugh at The Astor Center (NSFW)" »

March 15, 2010

First Look: Peaches Hothouse open tonight

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This evening, the folks from Peaches and Smoke Joint opened up a new branch of their burgeoning Brooklyn empire. On the corner of Hancock and Tompkins, Peaches Hothouse expands on the southern offerings that Peaches specializes in.

I stopped in to get a sneak peek.

Tonight, and for the next two weeks, they will be serving a limited menu as a part of Brooklyn Dine-In, but co-owner Craig Samuel stresses that everything is a work in progress.

The menu, described as 'new southern,' goes a bit more adventurous than the relatively staid menu found at Peaches. Think beef cheeks braised for six hours and fried green tomatoes with bacon aioli.

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The star of the menu is going to be Nashville-style spicy fried chicken, which will make it's first appearance in a couple weeks. In the meantime, Laura's Fried Chicken, above, looks like an amazing substitute. I didn't get to eat anything when I stopped in tonight, but I was certainly tempted to stick around for a few courses.

There were plenty of familiar faces tonight, including a pair of regulars I see at the bar at Peaches nearly every day and Lloyd, the owner of Bread-Stuy, who had the distinction of getting the first serving of food out the kitchen. I was glad to see the neighborhood support, I know I'll be back soon.

Follow the jump for the current offerings and more photos of the space.

Peaches Hothouse, 415 Tompkins Ave. Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, NY 11216

Continue reading "First Look: Peaches Hothouse open tonight" »

March 14, 2010

Cruising: Dining Hours

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In the months before taking this cruise, I found more than a few boosters who were happy to tell me how much they love cruises. They went on to dispute the various complaints and stereotypes about cruises. High up on that list was the dining situation.

Assigned tables and set dinner times they assured me are a thing of the past. Many cruise lines have multiple restaurant options and don't require a set seating time every night. Carnival didn't get the memo. The Imagination sports a single restaurant with table service, Spirit. Our seating was set for 6pm. Every night.

To those unfamiliar, here's how it works. The restaurant only does two or three seatings a night and between them, they have to accommodate for all the guests on the ship. The times are assigned, so some people get to eat at a reasonable hour and the rest of us eat five minutes after lunch. Similarly, guests are assigned to large round tables, wedding-style. The same folks eat together every night. In our case everyone at our table was a part of our group, but if you're with a smaller group or just a couple or family, you share the table and all the awkward conversation you want with strangers.

If you miss your seating and want a later dining time, you have to wait until the whole dining group has come in and then be placed in at any vacant spaces that are left.

I'm sure it all makes sense from the logistical perspective of trying to feed thousands of people, but it's definitely not so friendly for anyone who wants some flexibility in dining.

March 10, 2010

Recently on Midtown Lunch: Pizzacones

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This is a pizzacone. It's an odd little invention that captured the fascination (and for some, disgust) of the blogosphere last week.

This pizza in a cone concept was introduced to the Manhattan eating audience for the first time when K! Pizzacone opened up to much attention last Monday. I had a front row seat covering it for Midtown Lunch.

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I'm not a stodgy traditionalist in pizza or much else, but giving a balanced report on something so weird was a struggle. While I did appreciate the opportunity to eat a wad of melted cheese, I think I'll stick with those boring flat pizzas I've known so well over the years.

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My report last week on Izakaya Moku, on the other hand, was no trouble at all. The latest in a trend of Korean-run Japanese restaurants offers a pretty good lunch deal and I made a point of doing as much -ahem- research as I could. Strictly for research purposes, I assure you.

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It may not be the best Japanese food in the city, but Moku and the other new places in Koreatown offer some very good options within walking distance of my office. If nothing else, I'm psyched to finally have a nice bowl of pork ramen available nearby.

What I'm really interested in is checking out the after work menu, which is far expanded and includes yakitori and various other izakaya fare. I think an Examiner post is in order.

Stay tuned.

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February 18, 2010

Vancouver: Kintaro Handmade Tonkostu Ramen

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Our first stop in Vancouver after checking into the hotel was Kintaro. Guy had read about it and as Asian food is always on the top of my list of things to try while out west, I was more than happy to check it out.

The ramen shop seemed to have quite the following. When we got there, the line ran out the door and that didn't seem to be anything unusual. The neighboring restaurant politely insisted that those in line refrained from blocking their storefront.

Once inside, it was clear that part of the reason for the line was the exceptionally small space. Folks were crammed in pretty tight, but then, pork was involved, so I wasn't surprised.

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The specialty of the house is tonkotsu. Not to be mistaken for tonkatsu, this is ramen topped with roast pork and enveloped in a rich, milky pork broth.

We sat at the counter and I watched as huge pork bones were lowered into stockpots and simmered for the next batches of broth. Like most ramen places, there were variations on the basic stock using soy sauce or miso, but they all came from the same porky base.

I can't track down any notes from Kintaro, but I believe I had an order with extra pork because, well, that sounds like me.

One of these days I need to figure out what goes into that base and try to make a batch of my own. I think some research is in order. I'd better go to Manchenko Tei for lunch today to get started...

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Kintaro Ramen Noodle,
788 Denman Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada, 604.682.7568‎

February 17, 2010

Aspen: Ajax Tavern

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I read about Ajax Tavern in some of my research before I headed out to Aspen and it looked good. I just hadn't figured out where it was and was too lazy to look for it. Then I found it when I was heading to the gondola up to the Monster Party. The next night I headed over for a dinner of appetizers.

The multi-app meal has become my defacto arrangement in the restaurants in Aspen. The entrees at most of the good places run higher than my per diem is ever going to allow, so I've been grazing the smaller portions. The upside is that I get to try out more dishes. The downside is that I end up leaving wanting for more.
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After this meal, I wanted to make my way through the rest of the menu. I started with another take on bacon and eggs, this time with grits. More savory than some of the others, this one had braised pork belly and a fried yolky egg amidst a pool of polenta.

Parpadelle Lamb Bolognese at Ajax Tavern, Aspen. Photo by Clay Williams

Next up was the Parpadelle Lamb Bolognese. The meat was rich, salty and sweet and lovely on the firm pasta ribbons. Topped with a cooling dollop of sour cream, it was wonderful.

Sadly, I had to stop there. I saw many other eye-catching menu items that I would have loved to have spent the entire night exploring. Beef marrow topped the list, but there was plenty more.

Ajax Tavern at the Little Nell
685 East Durant Avenue, Aspen, CO‎ - 970.920.6334‎

February 11, 2010

Food Finds: Oriental Lychees

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Foodtown, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. 2010.

February 10, 2010

Midtown Lunching

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So, I wasn't particularly subtle in my recent post about new things afoot, but I wanted to make a point of not mentioning that I'm a part of the new editorial team on Midtown Lunch until something I wrote was actually posted.

So, here's the rundown for those who don't slavishly follow the food blog world: Zach Brooks of the blog Midtown Lunch has moved on to warmer pastures to Los Angeles. We'll forget all the terrible things we feel for LA and instead just be jealous for the warmer weather. I'll be posting, among a handful of other talented contributors in his stead.

I started with a post about the expansion of Little Italy Pizza, the place I posted about last year that's been my go-to slice spot that's been a favorite of mine for some time. They opened up a place a couple blocks away that I checked out last week.

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The short version is that I'll be plugging another site, but if you are a midtown wage slave, I'd also love to hear about what your favorite (non-chain) food options are. And I'm always looking for news. Checking early and often.

More to come. . . .

February 9, 2010

Photography: Egg Tower

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I didn't actually eat any of these eggs on the bar at Wild Fig in Aspen, but they caught my eye.

Looking back at some recent posts, I realize that eggs have been a recurring meme. Both visually and as a food choice, it's been coming up more and more.

Generally, they've been fried and the bright yellow yolks have drawn me into them, whether spilling out of the b.e.l.t. at Swift Half, on top of the Croque Madame at Rouge or in the Bacon and Eggs appetizer at Lulu Wilson that I lit up with my iPhone.

But these eggs, still in their shell brought me back to my High School Photography class. One of our first assignments to photograph eggs, composed in whatever way we'd like. I don't remember what I came up with and I doubt I really 'got' the potential compositions that can be done with the shapes and curves aesthetically.

Every now and then I think about going back to some of those old assignments (that I can remember) as exercises or practice. I make no promises, but if I do, I'll be sure to post them.

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February 8, 2010

Butchery: Dickson's Farmstand

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Friday morning, I spent a couple hours at Dickson's Farmstand, the newish butcher shop at Chelsea Market. Jake Dickson graciously allowed me to come in to look around and photograph his place as a part of my Butchery project.

This session was the first step in expanding the scope of the project beyond the same guys I've been shooting. As I'm developing the idea behind the project and what I want to do with it, I need a larger representative group to hold up the ideas behind it. I hope to do more shoots over the next month or two, introducing more faces, hands, spaces and animals to the collection of images.

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At Dickson's, I spent most of the time documenting Adam, below, while he took apart three beef quarters. Adam eschews the term butcher in favor of the more descriptive 'meat cutter' and tries to keep closer to the traditional concepts of butchery that he learned when apprenticing under an old school butcher in Boston.

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One big difference in his methods I noticed is that Dickson's is equipped with hooks hanging from the ceiling that allow for easier cutting. I'd heard about this but hadn't seen it before. With the meat hanging down, pulling cuts off is significantly easier because gravity is on your side.

Adam used the same technique with hooks attached to his cutting table as well. It was interesting to watch.

Check after the jump for a few more photos. The rest are posted on Flickr in Digital and Analog sets.

Continue reading "Butchery: Dickson's Farmstand" »

February 7, 2010

Aspen: Ellina

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D19 was one of the most exciting restaurants I found in Aspen. There's plenty of good food in this town, but not so much that's original. Sushi, Bistros, New American, even the dives all seem to have indistinct menus full of food that's good, but similar to the rest. For the last two years, it was my go to spot for food that was actually interesting to me. It was a place for Italian food that wasn't just like everything else.

So, I was disappointed to hear that D19 had closed, but relieved to find that the chef, Dena Marino had a new place, Ellina, just around the corner.

Continue reading "Aspen: Ellina" »

Flying Food: Delta's Asian Shrimp Salad

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No one has great things to say about airplane food. It's rarely good. I know this. But, when I saw "Todd English Selection" on the menu, I figured I ought to give the Olive's chef a second chance after the abysmal hot dog I had at his Bonfire at JFK.

I'm not a salad eater, but the collection of shrimp, noodles and an Asian dressing seemed like it could be worth it.

What I found was completely subjective.

I'm sure many people would have enjoyed this salad. I know Tammi would have. The shrimp was cooked properly, as were the noodles. Both could be messed up pretty easily, but they weren't. It was also topped with crisp slices of bell peppers and red onion which were fresh and crunchy.

Yet, I didn't enjoy it at all. First, it was cold. Outside of ice cream, I'm not so into cold foods. It's a personal quirk, I suppose, but whether it's a sandwich or a salad, I want my food warmed up or at least at room temperature. But this came straight out of the fridge and each crunch of veggies or slurping of noodles reminded me of that fact.

Along the same lines, I like bell peppers and red onions, I just think they'd be much better sauteed and maybe added to a stir fry of those noodles and shrimp. Instead, I was left with the sharp onion flavor for the rest of the trip.

So, if cold salads are your thing, this is definitely one of your better airplane options. But for me, I think I might have preferred some of the microwaved dinner options you used to get in flight. Not very good, but at least it was warm.

February 4, 2010

Aspen: Brexi

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In the intervening year since my last trip to Aspen, Brexi opened up a block away from my hotel. It's a shiny new brasserie with a nicely put together menu of classics including a seafood plate a la "The Balthazar"

I stuck to more reasonable fare and had a burger there on my first visit there. The guys down the bar raved about what they considered the best burger in town. I should probably have learned from the local advice I got last year that 'best' is wildly subjective.

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Wait. That's not entirely fair. The burger, topped with Emmentaler cheese, caramelized shallots, applewood smoked bacon and Russian dressing would have been very good had it been served at the medium rare temperature I asked for. Instead, it was perfectly raw in the middle. Like steak tartare.

The other issue was just with the structural integrity of the burger. The dressing and the onions, not to mention the bloody burger were a bit too juicy for the buns to hold together. Instead it all came to pieces by the time I got half way through it. Not always a deal breaker on a great burger, but a bit frustrating when also trying to eat around the uncooked center.

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Let's be clear. I'm not slamming the place. actually really liked it and the service I had there was excellent. The people were friendly and the menu's other items, like the Duck Two Ways special was very good. This came with a confitted duck leg and a seared breast. In this case, the breast being very rare in the middle was totally acceptable.

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I'm writing this with one more day left in town. As I consider where to go for what may be my last meal in Aspen, Brexi definitely makes the short list.

February 3, 2010

Quick Bite: Bad Billy's Mini Tuna Tacos

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When I first started coming to Aspen, the space where Bad Billy's was Cooper Street Ale House, one of the few divey bars in town. It was always a little too fratty for me, but you take what you can get.

When I got here last year, the place looked more or less the same, but the name had changed. I popped in for wings or whatever, but didn't really see any huge difference.

What I discovered is that Bad Billy's elevated the bar food in a pretty wonderful way.

Up top are the mini tuna tacos made with seared sushi-grade tuna sourced from sister restaurant, Kenichi, one of the nicer sushi restaurants in town. Wrapped in blistered, fried corn tortillas, they make an awesome one or two bite snack.

I followed that up with more 'traditional' fish tacos with beer battered fish on flour tortillas.

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On another visit, I popped in with some co-workers and we partook in the $15 pitchers and played some music on the internet-enabled jukebox.

Bad Billy's
508 East Cooper Avenue, Aspen, CO‎
970.925.9225‎

February 1, 2010

Aspen: LuLu Wilson

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When I headed out to Aspen, one of my goals was to explore some new restaurants instead of going back to the same places I always go. I was marginally successful in that those places aren't all the same as they had been in past years. More on that in a bit.

Lulu Wilson, on the other hand was entirely new to me. I had passed there before, but never actually gone in. That night, I walked out of the hotel not quite sure where I felt like going, and sort of wandering aimlessly. I must have looked pretty lost, because some folks stopped me and asked me if I was looking for something.

Turns out they both work in restaurants in town and were more than happy to give me a recommendation.

I sat up front at the bar and had a great meal. The food is contemporary American with many of the same hearty comforting foods you find elsewhere around town.

I started with the bacon and eggs appetizer. The bacon was house-cured and sliced thick. It reminded me that I had cured some bacon before I left and am really looking forward to playing with it in the kitchen when I get home.

The yolky egg was perfect. You can't really come up with a more classic combo. What didn't quite fit for me was the salad, with it's chili aioli. The thickness of the mayo far outweighed the leaves of the salad and the spice just got in the way of the flavors of the bacon and egg.

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After having that, I was afraid the burger I ordered would be way too much food. Thankfully, the burger is perfectly mid-sized. Thicker than any slider or In n Out style burger, but not nearly the quarter- and half- pound behemoths that, though often wonderful, would have injured me on this particular night.

In case you weren't sure, this was where I came up with my iPhone lighting trick that I got so excited about the other day.

January 30, 2010

Philly: Rouge on Rittenhouse Square

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On the Sunday of our Philly weekend, we had brunch at Rouge on Rittenhouse Square. I haven't spent a lot of time in the area, but all I've heard about it is that it's a little posh and stuffy.

That said, there was some interesting chatter on the internets about Rouge, especially the burgers. And there was shopping Tammi wanted to check out in the area, so off we went.

As we walked in, my internal alarms started going off. It seemed a little too chi-chi. The crowd seemed a little too pretty and the place was a little too crowded. Plus, my cousin, who was meeting us was running late, so I didn't think they'd even seat us. I thought we'd be relegated to a cramped corner of the bar and eventually wedged somewhere in the back.

I was completely wrong. They seated us as soon as a table opened up, and when our third didn't show up for almost an hour, they happily came by offering more wine and not once pushing us to order without him or turn the table. We sat there for a couple hours talking drinking wine and relaxing away the afternoon on a rainy Sunday.


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On top of all that, the food was pretty great. I'm all about the Croque Madame these days, which you see here. I 'd had them before, but really got into them in Paris on our Honeymoon. It's brilliant: A grilled ham and cheese sandwich topped with more cheese or a bechamel sauce and then with a sunny side up egg on top of that. It's all cheese and yolk and ham and a wonderfully satisfying crunch.

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Tammi went with the burger. which is a thing of beauty. She got through about half of it before requiring some assistance to finish it off. I helped gladly.

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Rouge
205 South 18th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103
Phone: 215.732.6622

January 29, 2010

Philly: Swift Half

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After checking out the new Northern Liberties Farmers Market, Tammi and I had brunch at Swift Half. When we were there over the summer, we sat out there with drinks over the afternoon and watched life go by on the Piazza.

This time, it was too cold for all that, so we sat inside and split a few items on the menu.


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We had some good stuff, but the most memorable was the b.e.l.t., a blt with a fried egg in it. The bacon was so amazingly smokey, it tasted like it just came off of the grill. We also had an order of short rib sliders topped with a dollop of horseradish.

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Interestingly, the menu also offered some custom cocktails. Tammi tried the Ghost of Mary, a bloody mary made with a lighter tomato water and rimmed with black pepper and salt. I'm not one for cocktails, but it was actually pretty good. Tammi can't stand tomato juice, so enjoyed it a lot more than a traditional one, but still couldn't get through the whole thing before the tomato flavor got to be a little much for her.

Swift Half is owned by the same folks as Good Dog, a long time favorite of mine in Center City. Just like there, the beer selection is great and the vibe is casual. The service was a bit slow, but it was friendly and we had a good time.

Swift Half,
1001 North 2nd Street, Northern Liberties, Philadelphia, PA 19123-1656
215.923.4600


January 28, 2010

Quick Bite: Standard Tap's Summer Soft Shell

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I know it's snowing in New York today and obviously, it's cold here in Aspen, so here's a glimpse back at summer time.

Since I'm posting about our recent weekend in Philadelphia anyway, I thought I'd post this quick shot of the Soft Shell Crab Sandwich I had at Standard Tap when we were in town over the summer. This time around we just had lingering drinks there after walking around Northern Liberties, but it's still one of my favorite places for food or drink in the area.

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Standard Tap
901 North 2nd Street, Northern Liberties, Philadelphia, PA 19123-2301
215.238.0630

January 26, 2010

JFK: Bonfire

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I've never enjoyed airport food. It's invariably overpriced and underwhelming. But it is a place to pass the time. On my way to Aspen, I snacked at Bonfire, another in a long line of mass-marketed celebrity chef driven casual dining spots, this one led by Todd English.

Last year, Tammi and I ate there while waiting for a Friday night flight to DC. It was a month after the shitshow flying to North Carolina at around the same time and out of the same gate, with a dozen other flights all departing from the same place. We figured we might as well find a decent place to relax, get a snack and have a drink.

The menu has an odd collection of offerings, Mexican fare is mixed with pizzas and seemingly random other snack foods.On my first visit, we went with the Latin side of things.

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The chicharrones were unlike any I've ever had, this dish was made up of soft roasted bits of pork topped with a bit too much goopy aioli on top. It may not have been the crispy chunks of unctuous pork bordered with skin crisped to the point of shattering I had hoped for, but it's hard to mess up roasted pork bits, so it was still pretty good.

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We also had an order of Pigs in a Blanket with chorizo, which also had the benefit of being nearly impossible to do wrong.

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This visit, I choose poorly. I skipped the Mexican and Pizza options and instead had a hot dog. At $16, I presumed there must be something interesting to it. Unfortunately, there really wasn't.

The Giant Hot Dog was indeed rather large, but ultimately not nearly worth the hyper-inflated price tag. The rosemary fries that came with them were interesting in concept, particularly with the flaky deep fried rosemary leaves and sprigs as an accompaniment. But, there wasn't really any flavor there.

I've never been to an airport restaurant that I would ever consider patronizing 'on the outside.' I don't know if I would run out to 'Bonfire Downtown,' but it's definitely a good place to know about for the next time I'm in Terminal 2 with time to kill.

January 24, 2010

Quick Bite: Polpo Pizza at Osteria

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This is a pizza. With octopus on top. It was listed as one of Philadelphia Magazine's 239 best dishes in Philly. Why?

Because when you're in the presence of a pizza genius, you go for the menu's oddest option, a thin crust spangled with charred octopus, dusted in fiery chili flakes, and graced with cool, rich mozzarella.

I can't argue with that. So, when we got to Philadelphia last weekend, dinner was at Osteria and Polpo as on the pizza. It was magnificent. The hot cooking crisps the exterior, while the internal texture maintains its distinctive firmness. The cheese and chili flaked tomato sauce all worked together far better than you'd imagine. I loved it.

The rest of the meal was wonderful as usual. We could have gone back there for every meal that weekend and still not eaten everything we'd wanted.

January 21, 2010

Food Finds: Twin Elephants

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Foodtown, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. 2010.

January 18, 2010

Philly: Restaurant Week

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Just a quick note that this week and next week are Restaurant Week in Philadelphia. Last night we had a huge Middle Eastern meal at Zahev in Old City and this afternoon we nearly hurt ourselves going through the courses at Butcher & Singer, pictured.

The meals are $20 for lunch and $35 for dinner both were incredible values.

More on Philly and the great meals we had to come.

January 14, 2010

Philly: Dinner at Osteria

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Perhaps I just hope to keep Osteria as my personal Philadelphia secret. That's the only reason I can think of why I somehow have neglected to post about it for the last two years. It's been a must go place for me since before Tammi ran the Philadelphia Marathon in 2007. Yet, whenever it comes to writing a post about it, I always manage to put it off.

The meal is a multi-course fantasy of interesting Italian cooking ranging from porchetta with tuna sauce to octopus on pizza to rabbit sausage to pig's feet that even Tammi likes. It's all over the place in the best possible way and the courses are small enough that you can graze your way through the experience.

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Yesterday, I made our reservation for dinner at Osteria Friday night, shortly after we get into town. I've been looking back at some of my notes posted on Twitter over the summer when we were there last and it's got me all excited again.


Some highlights:

* polpo totally different than last night. Meat shreds in mouth. Milder fish flvr. Tender, not as firm as most. Char less strong.

* porchetta served cold sliced, like cold cuts. Topped with a mayo laced tuna sauce and greens.

* wow! Tammi's eating pig's feet "and liking it"

* tortellini stuffed with braised, ground, shredded pigs feet. Burrata stuffed delicate pasta pillows with sprinkled olives, pasley.

* we got the last plate of suckling pig. Moist, tender, transcendant.

* "course for course, perfection." says Tammi. I can't argue.

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Seriously, it's a wonderful experience made even better by sitting at the chef's counter and watching the team make their magic in the kitchen. I have my request in for the same spot this weekend. Here's hoping.

Osteria
640 North Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19130
215.763.0920

January 12, 2010

Lunch: The Breslin

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Today, Sam Sifton of the New York Times will be reviewing The Breslin, the new restaurant in the Ace Hotel. Mere blocks from my office, I've had my own opportunity to check out the place and I'm not sure there's a lot that Sifton might say that would make me want to check it out again.

It's a sad thing, because everything I've had and heard tells me that the food is pretty amazing, but the culture of the place puts the scene first and customers second.

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The lamb burger, the only thing Ive had there is wonderful. The rest of the menu seems ridiculously magnificent. But much like The Spotted Pig, by the same folks, the crowd of 'see and be seen' types takes all the fun out of it and the staff seems to buy into that culture deeply.

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In a perfect world the entire clientele of the place would change. The people who show up to places because it's popular would forget it ever existed and the wonderful meat dishes would be available throughout the day for the rest of us to peruse at will.

Instead, there's a crowd of loud, unpleasant people talking about their polo weekends in Florida and Argentina and the staff spends more time ignoring you than finding out if you need anything. Apologies for being crotchety, but this is exactly the sort of thing that upsets me the most. Not sceney places that I'm not remotely interested in, but places that I would love to go to were it not for the nonsense.

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January 11, 2010

Cooking: Hearts Afire

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We got one last beautiful day for the year the Sunday after Christmas. Just before the current deep freeze, the temperature reach up into the 50s and I took the opportunity to fire up the grill.

Eric came over and we grilled the lamb and beef hearts that I got from Fleisher's at the WinterMarket.

I was attracted to heart initially for the spectacle of the thing. It just seems to odd and primal, how could I not try it after all my 'whole beast' talk? But after trying it, it's the flavor an texture that will have me going back for more.

The preparation was limited to cutting off the fatty and tough bits and seasoning it with salt and pepper.

We grilled them to about medium rare and cut them into strips with kitchen shears.

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The meat was dense and a bit chewy without being tough. The flavors were intense. They tasted like beef and lamb, just more so. The beef did have a slightly 'liver-y' flavor, but not overpoweringly so.

At this point it is far too cold for going back out to grill again, but expect hearts to be a staple come grilling season.

January 10, 2010

Lunch: Rye House

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Ever since getting into the analog world, I've found myself spending a lot more time in the FlatIron District. Whether stopping at a Color Lab to drop off or pick up film or going to Adorama or Calumet to pick up new rolls, I'm in the area between 17th Street to 23rd Street from 5th to 6th Avenues a couple times a week.

Changes in movement patterns around New York always inevitably leads to some interesting discoveries and Rye House is one of the best kind. After discovering it and stopping in for a drink after work, I made a point of returning for lunch a week or so ago.

Up top are a pair of sloppy joe sliders, which had the perfect balance of meat to bun to avoid a ridiculous mess. Topped with a couple rings of jalapeño peppers, it had just the right kick to it.

Below is a cross section of deep fried Mac n Cheese. It's an intriguing sounding snack. Clearly it piqued my interest. Sadly, it just shows that not everything ought to be fried. The outer crust just didn't add anything to the experience and in the end, I probably would have enjoyed it more in a bowl.

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A couple days ago, I stopped in again and tried one of the sandwiches, the Cuban. It was pretty perfect, Berkshire ham, roast pork, gooey cheese and tart and tangy pickles. Yeh.

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There are a few of other sandwiches on the menu I'd like to including the Beef Wellington with Filet Mignon and Foie Gras and the Pittsburgh with Andouille Sausage and a house slaw. I have got to try both of those.

What really fascinates me is an item from the dinner menu that I've got to have: Buffalo Sweetbreads.

Rye House, 11 West 17th Street, NYC. 212.255.7260

January 7, 2010

Lunch: Salt and Pepper

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I've been passing Salt & Pepper by for the last five years. Besides being the type of hole in the wall that is entirely missable, it's also wildly varied in a way I haven't really seen anywhere else.

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The front counter offers Latin and American food, serving everything from cheesesteaks and fried chicken to oxtails and pepper steak. There's also a strong Italian contingent with chicken parm, lasagna and meatballs.

That selection alone is vaguely unusual, but if you can squeeze through the narrow space up front and the tight seating area, you'll find another counter in the back.

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There you'll find an Indian and Pakistani spread with all sorts of options including vegetarian dishes, Naan and various curries like the Goat Curry I tried out. You don't see goat offered in many places, so I had to give it a go.

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I grew up with goat as a regular dish at home, so I don't think of it as very unusual, but I guess it's not so common. You'll almost always find it braised in a strongly flavored sauce, like curry, which makes the expected gaminess unnoticeable.

If you can't get past the whole goat thing, there's chicken and fish and lamb along with a number of vegetarian options if that's your thing.

See more photos of the space after the jump.

Salt & Pepper, 139 West 33rd Street, between 6th and 7th. 212.268.1919

Continue reading "Lunch: Salt and Pepper" »

On Examiner: Korean Barbecue

Kunjip Slideshow, by clay williams

After a lull in coverage, I'm back on Examiner posting about late night foods. This week's focus was on 24 hour Korean Barbecue in Koreatown. It's a wonderful thing.

Look at those ribbons of meat, ready for a ser on the grill. It's even better with a charcoal fire, but there aren't so many of those any more -- probably for the best at the places that cater to the post-karaoke crowd at 4am...

I'm also trying to find more events, parties and shows in the next couple weeks to cover for Examiner. If you know of any, let me know in the comments.

January 6, 2010

Lunch: Wolfgang's Bar Menu

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Last week was that languid period between Christmas and New Year's Day is a little surreal in New York. Those of us who actually show up to work, the office is a ghost town. Midtown is more crowded than ever, but it's made up almost entirely of tourists. Even the commute is more relaxed and roomy.

Keeping with the indulgent mood of the week, I met up with Eric one day for lunch at Wolfgang. Now, luxury week or not, we weren't getting Ribeyes or Porterhouses in the middle of the day. Instead, we go every once in a while to snack on their excellent bar menu.

I had the Cheeseburger topped with a thick slab of rich unsmoked bacon above. Getting a burger from a steakhouse is a habit I picked up years ago upon learning of Peter Luger's burger. That is a magnificent thing. Sadly, it's not nearly close enough to go to for lunch, so Wolfgang is my next best thing. They don't have the thick slice of muenster cheese or the buns made from their Luger's great dinner rolls, but they do have one thing that is centrally important: great meat. Both the beef and the bacon are juicy and tender and done just right.

Eric went with something you can't get at Luger's: the most literal take on a steak sandwich I've ever seen. It's actually a steak, grilled and chopped up to fit on a bun. Dab a little sweet and tangy house steak sauce on top and you've got one of the best sandwiches you're going to find around.

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At around $20 each, it's a splurge that only fits in the budget every now and again, but it's definitely worth it.

Wolfgang's Steakhouse
4 Park Avenue, New York, NY.
212.889.3369

January 5, 2010

Quick Bite: Dumont

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This sexy beast is the legendary Dumont Mac n Cheese. I stopped in last week after stopping in at The Meat Hook for some holiday weekend goodies. It's been ages since I've made it to Dumont, I'd in fact almost forgotten that I blogged about it a couple years ago. My infrequent visits mean that I invariably go for one of their classics when I'm there, the burger or the mac n cheese.

The MTA has seen fit to mangle my weekend transit again, so I plan to reinstate Williamsburg Weekends this month so as to avoid the shuttle service. Maybe I'll get a chance to stop in again and see what else they've got.

For now, enjoy the gooey goodness.

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January 4, 2010

Lunch: Haru Hana adds a new Japanese option in Koreatown

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This afternoon I had lunch at the new Japanese restaurant in KoreaTown, Haru Hana. It calls itself a Japanese Pub and stocks many of the izakaya favorites I know and love, but the decor and crowd, particularly on a Monday afternoon was much more subdued than all that.

Signs prominently advertise that they are open 24 hours a day, so I'll have to report in again after a late night visit. In the meantime, here's what I had for lunch.

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I passed on the katsu and udon, which I've had quite a bit of in the last month or so and chose a broiled eel rice bowl. I love Unagi. The sweet syrup that coats the top of the eelskin and gets soaked up by the rice is a thing of beauty.

I also tried a couple of the skewers to see what that was all about. Here I had one with bacon-wrapped sausages and the other with chicken and garlic. The sausages were sweetly tangy , like those I had the last time I visited Go Go Curry. Being wrapped in bacon, it's an automatic win. The chicken skewers sported leg meat and garlic cloves toasted until the two were visually indistinguishable. Thankfully, I noticed the different in texture before biting into the garlic by mistake. The flavors may have mellowed out as it grilled, but I don't think my co-workers would really appreciate the difference

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I do have to say one thing about the yakitori. They were wonderful, but after years of eating Japanese skewers at izakaya after izakaya, I have come to expect an open kitchen where I can watch the flames lap at the meat leaving bits of char and juices dripping. When I don't see them, it doesn't detract from the experience exactly, but I notice that it's not there.

Really though, it's not hard to tell when you look at the space. The restaurant is shotgun-style, like many of the other ground floor spaces on the block. There's precious little space to offer up for the ceremony of open cooking.

The menu is widely varied, with everything from Tonkatsu to Udon to Yakitori to sushi. This could be a good thing or a bad thing. Most Japanese restaurants tend to focus on one cuisine and do it really well, so it's a little unusual. That said, the dishes I had were wonderful and I'll be happy to work my way through the menu to take advantage of the of all that variety.

Haru Hana
28 W 32nd St
Between Fifth Ave and Broadway
KoreaTown
212.736.5393


December 31, 2009

WinterMarket 09: Oysters

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I typically love oysters, whether first thing in the morning or late into the evening. Sadly, the morning of the WinterMarket, I couldn't muster up the will to slurp down any of the ice cold bivalves on display. They do look gorgeous though, don't they?

December 30, 2009

WinterMarket 09: Fleisher's

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This bucket of guts and goodies brought to you by Fleisher's, the upstate butcher shop that has served as the training ground for many of the butchers that have been proselytizing the gospel of butchery in recent years.

Bryan apprenticed there through the fall and has continued to work there over the last several months and was working the booth with them at the WinterMarket. He introduced me to Jessica Applestone, who owns Fleisher's with her husband, Josh, the self-titled "MooRu". I'm hoping that next year some time I'll be able to visit the shop up in Kingston and photograph them and their apprentices in action.

For now though, I took advantage of the wonderfully priced offal and bought a pile of organ meats including a beef tongue, sweetbreads and a mix of beef and lamb hearts. The sweetbreads gave me some difficulty and didn't come out as well as I'd hoped, the hearts were awesome, more on that in a bit. I also bought a small pork roast that I cooked that night using Sara Jenkins' Porchetta salt that I also picked up that day.

December 29, 2009

Quick Bite: Irish Bacon Burger at Spike Hill

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Lunch in the deluge Saturday afternoon at Spike Hill. I'd never noticed that Irish Bacon was an option on their burger. I feel like I'm seeing more Irish/English Bacon around on menus these days. That's a good thing.

The funky blur around the edges here is from my spiffy new Lensbaby Composer I got for Christmas from Tammi. I'm hoping not to overuse it, but it's a lot of fun.

WinterMarket 09: Porchetta

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Sara Jenkins' fantastic roast pork is what began my obsession with that rosemary and fennel scented lusciousness that is porchetta last year. So, it was wonderful to run into her booth at the Wintermarket on Sunday.

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My only disappointment was that the little porchetta sandwiches being served were not warm and fresh and custom made with requests for cracklins honored, but pre-made and chilled by the frozen temperatures outside. I guess that just means I'll have to make another pilgrimage down to the East Village one of these days.

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What was very cool was that she's now selling a packaged seasoning with Sicilian sea salt, fennel pollen and other ingredients that construct a semblance of the flavors she uses for her porchetta. I used it that night to season the pork roast I picked up at Fleisher's.

December 28, 2009

WinterMarket 09: Hot Pockets!

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The most amazing thing I ate at the WinterMarket was the "Hot Pockets" being sold by Quality Meats. Discard all thoughts of the vile microwave pastries made infamous by Jim Gaffigan.

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No, these incredible creations are filled with a mix of shredded Duck Confit and cheese and then pressed in a sandwich maker. So. Good.

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December 21, 2009

WinterMarket 2009

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Yesterday morning I braved the piles of snow to go down to the Seaport to attend this year's WinterMarket at the Fulton Fish Market.

I haven't written much about the New Amsterdam Market project recently, but it's been moving on track as far as I can tell. Starting this summer, there have been monthly markets taking place down there, but this was the first I'd manage to make it to since last year.

Despite the snowstorm, my fellow food nerds were out in force. I wasn't nearly the only one with a camera shooting food, servers and displays. It was great. I ran into Dave from Eating In Translation and we compared camera notes and geeked out for a moment.

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I wandered around shooting and eating and chatting with some of the vendors and had a great time trying out some new and interesting foods. Over the next couple days, I'll post some highlights of what I saw and ate.

Hawai'i: Me Barbecue

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Mé Barbecue is a divey little takeout Korean place off the main strip in Waikiki. We found it on our first night in Hawaii and kept going back as an alternative to the pricey but not so good breakfast buffets at the hotel.

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The menu offers around 40 different dishes that are mostly Korean, but also represent the Hawaiian mosaic. They even had a Loco Moco, which I didn't get a chance to try. My first dish there was the Portuguese Sausage Breakfast. These sausages are a local favorite, another other delicacy introduced with the huge influx of immigrants over the last century. The sausage was nicely spicy but not overpoweringly so and the over easy eggs left a lot of tasty yolk to slather it in.

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The other dish I had there was Bi Bim Bap, a Korean dish I've been eyeing in KoreaTown back at home for a while. It's a scoop of rice topped with veggies, kimchi, shredded kalbi and a sunny side up egg. It's an awesome thing.

December 17, 2009

Lunch: Dogmatic

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I already love hot dogs. Who doesn't? Whatever your preference for toppings or types of dogs or methods of cooking, it's a pretty great food.

Dogmatic didn't really have to do so much work to improve it. I'm really glad they did, though.

This gourmet dog is stuffed into a small hollowed out baguette. But, that's only after it's been slathered in a sauce of your choice including the intensely flavored Truffle Gruyere.

Yeh, really. It's then accompanied by one of a number of sides, in this case a cup of mac n cheese. Because, you know, the more cheese the better.

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December 16, 2009

Lunch: Is Go Go Going?

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It's a testament to my priorities in the world that the first reports that Hideki Matsui was leaving the Yankees for Los Angeles, all went something like this: "What about Go Go Curry?"

The hazard of basing your entire business around a single free agent player is pretty clear. But then, we've all enjoyed the quirks that make this place so interesting. According to reports, there is no plan to close up shop, although a Los Angeles branch may be in the works and the owner maintains his allegiance to Matsui.

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Despite the recent abundance of Katsu in my diet, I decided to stop in yesterday to check out the scene on the ground.

There was no sign of a change in color scheme or Angels gear anywhere. The staff still wore Yankee colors and most importantly, they still give out free toppings coupons on 'Go' days, that is any date with a '5' in it.

Best of all, the Katsu is still wonderful, the curry still think and the new-to-me pork sausage makes for a tasty combination with the other elements of the meal.

December 14, 2009

Lunch: Arang -- Japanese Fusion in KoreaTown

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According to Midtown Lunch, Arang in KoreaTown used to be Korean/Sushi Buffet. ML also reported that they had shut down. I discovered it after that, once they had revamped and got rid of the buffet.

They still specialize in the Korean and Japanese, but the buffet has been scuttled. Now, you can order one of a number of bentos, like the one above with kalbi or lunch specials of Tonkatsu.

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I'm on a katsu kick these days, so the last time I was there I tried out the Cheese Donkatsu. I can't name too many Asian foods that work with cheese, so it take a moment to wrap your head around. But then, as I've observed before, katsu is just schnitzel. And fried, breaded things can be quite tasty with cheese.

The crust is crisp, the cheese is gooey and the katsu sauce adds a sweetness to it that can be unsettling at first, but works pretty well.

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On an earlier visit, I tried their Curry Katsu just to see how it stood next to Go Go Curry. The answer is that there's no comparison. It's entirely different. Arang's curry sauce is chock full of potatoes and carrots and chunks of meat. It's thinner in texture than the dense sauce of Go Go, but there's so much stuff in it that it doesn't really make a difference.

The best part of all these lunch specials is that they are reasonably priced for a sit down meal, with most if not all specials under $10. The place is rarely crowded during lunch hours, so it's a good place to go when you need a break from being surrounded by office mates all day.

Arang
9 West 32nd Street, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10001
(212) 947-3028

December 13, 2009

Hawai'i Cooks With SPAM

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Seriously.

December 9, 2009

Quick Bite: Bar 35 Pizza

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This may look like a generic bar pizza, but this mini-pie from Bar 35 in Honolulu's Chinatown was topped with Chinese sausage and sweet Thai chili sauce instead of the usual pepperoni and tomato sauce. It was certainly novel and actually pretty good. What I was really curious about was the Gyro pizza they served, but Tammi wasn't hearing it.

December 8, 2009

On the Examiner: Late Night Eats

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Tomorrow, I start up a feature on Examiner all about late night food. I know, where do I come up with these things! Really though, even the least food-savvy people crave _something_ after a night of imbibing. What's yours?

Chime in here or on the Examiner post or with the Midtown Lunchers I polled on this questions last week.

I even fixed up the comment section, which I gave up on some time ago. You can log in and post with many different logins, so give it a go and let me know what I should be checking out.

Hawaii: Chibo

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As I mentioned, we took full advantage of the glut of Asian food available in Honolulu. We breakfasted on Korean Bi Bim Bap, slurped down ramen, sampled Yakiniku and Katsu. And at Chibo, we had Okonomiyaki.

In the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, I found the only US branch of President Chibo restaurant we visited a couple years back in Ginza, Tokyo. We had dinner there on the first leg of our trip and stopped in again for lunch a few hours before our flight home.

Both times we sat at the Griddle and watched the magic happen. Of course, I took the opportunity to photograph the cooks doing their work.

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The first time we had the tasting menu, which had several courses and included a steamed egg soup that was really interesting; shrimp and beef fillet that were perfectly charred in the right places with crisped garlic slivers sprinkled on top and of course, the okonomiyaki.

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Chibo
Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center
2201 Kalakaua Avenue, Suite A-305
Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
Tel: (808) 922-9722

December 7, 2009

Food Finds: Sweet Potato Snacks

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Honolulu, HI. 2009.

December 4, 2009

Quick Bite: Tonkatsu at Bairin

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Back in Waikiki, we had lunch at Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin, a Katsu place on a slightly out of the way block. I had a thick cut pork loin katsu platter.

I've mentioned before that I'm a fan of Katsu, but I was a little dubious about the thick cut. The loin tends to be pretty lean and can dry out a lot unless it's pounded into oblivion a la Schnitzel. But this was meaty and juicy and the exterior had crunchy texture without dominating every bite.

They also sold bottles of their sweet katsu sauce that I meant to buy but I forgot to order one before we left.

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Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin
255 Beach Walk,
Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
Tel: 808.926.8082

December 3, 2009

Lunch: In the mood for Japanese

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I haven't shaken my craving for Japanese food since getting back from Hawaii. Coincidentally, I ended up having to run lunch errands in Midtown East two days in a row this week. As I've mentioned before the East 40's is basically JapanTown North. So, I took the opportunity to slurp down some more noodles and enjoy the dulcet tones of "Irrashaimase!!" upon entry.

Above is a Tuesday's Kara age Curry Udon, a favorite of mine from Udon West's uptown branch. Without repeating myself too much, I'm a big fan of Udon. It's thick and hearty and perfect eating on a chilly fall day. Combine that with the warming spice of the rich curry broth and the visceral satisfaction of the crunchy on the outside, tender and herby on the inside fried chicken and I could eat this all winter.

Below is a bowl of Pork Belly Ramen from Manchenko Tei on 45th Street that I had on Monday. The two could not have been more different. The noodles were thin, soba, I think and the broth was lighter and silkier. Topped with a hunk of pork belly that was beautifully braised it was easily as satisfying.

There's so much food in New York, I'll probably end up back into my usual patterns of a little of this a little of that soon enough, but I'm really enjoying exploring the many many Japanese options available right now. The weather has had me craving soups, but I definitely want some yakitori sooner rather than later.

More to come.

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(PS: Welcome Midtown Lunch readers! Apologies for the poor navigation, I'm working on it. Please feel free to look around.

November 25, 2009

Quick Bite: BK Breakfast Spam Platter

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Even Burger King serves Spam for breakfast. Also note the popular Portuguese Sausage, which I tried out at a more reputable place.

November 23, 2009

Hawai'i: The Loco Moco

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This is the Loco Moco: a thick beef patty, topped with a fried egg and starch-thickened gravy served on a bed of rice. Think Salisbury Steak with rice and egg. For breakfast. Weird right? It's actually pretty good and a really interesting example of how Hawai'i integrated so much of the influences that have flooded the islands since Captain Cook 'discovered' them 200 years ago.

Contemporary Hawai'ian cuisine is notoriously low-budget and ingeniously cobbled together with whatever is on hand. Famously, Spam is more popular here than anywhere else in the country. Without getting too involved in a discussion/monologue on the politics of big business and imperialism at the turn of the last century, suffice it to say that there has been a lot of poverty and plenty of cultural intermingling over years.

The Loco Moco pulls together American burgers, Japanese rice and hangs onto the 50's era aesthetic of TV dinners and powder packet gravy.

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I prefer the egg over easy so the yolk mixes in with the rice. The gravy is thick and goopy and rich and binds it all together. It's a little much for me, but it's been interesting to try out a couple examples of it.

November 15, 2009

Quick Bite: Italian Sausage

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When I was in High School and College, I loved wandering the street fairs every summer. I didn't care that, except The Antic, they were all the same and rarely represented any aspect of the block of the neighborhood they were in. I wasn't particular.

I liked the gathering of people and, of course, I loved the food. The highlight for me was always the Italian Sausage stands. I could have Hot or Sweet, but always covered in a mountain of peppers and onions. For the life of me, I can never find one nearly as good in a store. Most pizza shops that sell sausage heroes, just don't have the flavor or the nice char from the griddle.

Last week, I passed by one of these fairs, probably one of the last of the season, and right on the corner was a sausage stand. I had to have one for old-time sake.

I just have to add a note of photo-geekery here. The pic is one of my analog shots, that I took on a roll of Fuji Velvia slide film. Check out the way the colors just glow out of the shot. I can practically smell the onions just by looking at it.

November 12, 2009

Chef Michael Psilakis at The Astor Center

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This week for the Examiner, I visited a cooking demo at the Astor Center by Chef Michael Psilakis of Kefi and Anthos. I was just there to shoot and thankfully didn't drool on anything, but the smells and sounds of all the food he prepared were amazing.

My Examiner post went up this morning with a slideshow of images I took that night and a brief write-up.

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In addition to the many digital shots I took while there, I also shot a few rolls of film, which I'm really happy with. This whole 'analog' thing has been fun and I'm falling further down the rabbit hole.

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After my old model broke a little over a week ago, I ran out immediately and bought a used Canon, which uses most of the same lenses that my digital uses. Ever since, I've been shooting even more film and redoubling my experimenting. I've even gone back to playing with Black and White, which I haven't done since I was in High School.

I think the results have been pretty good, what do you think?

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November 9, 2009

Lunch: Buffalo Chicken Pizza at Cafe Rustica II

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The idea of spicy chicken and bleu cheese on a pizza may seem wildly unusual to many, but for me it brings back memories of my college days. Back in Amherst, Mass, there is a pizza shop called Antonio's that specializes in odd toppings. There were plenty of others including Potato Bacon, with thin slices of baked potatoes with cheese and crispy bacon bits on top, but 'Spicy Bleu,' was always one of my favorites

So, when I saw this buffalo chicken pie come out of the oven at hole in the wall Cafe Rustica II on 35th Street, I had to have it. Though not nearly as good as my far off memories of Antonio's, it was close enough to take me back for a moment.

A firm layer of mozzarella sets the foundation of the slice. It holds what might otherwise be watery ingredients in place. The bleu cheese is a thinner dressing that I'd like, but is just strong enough to balance out the tang and spice of the buffalo sauce. The chicken chunks are breaded and fried, a departure from the slices I had back in college and maybe an improvement. The crispness of the breading adds another texture to experience and manages to soak up some of the hot sauce, making it a better vehicle for flavor.

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The way I found it was entirely by accident. My usual Herald Square pizza spot, Giuseppe's apparently closed down but I still wanted a slice, so I stopped in here.

In the 5 years I've worked in the area, I had only gone to Cafe Rustica once. Passing by, the signs out front declare it a 'Trattoria Pizza and Pasta House.' This is ridiculous. The closest thing to decor in this dark, cave-like space are the exposed duct work in the ceiling. This is not Trattoria. It's not even a Restaurant. It's a Pizza shop. Make no mistake.

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October 14, 2009

Seattle: Lola

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Lola is one in a collection of restaurants in Downtown Seattle owned by Chef Tom Douglas. It's generally Mediterranean and the menu includes much meat on sticks.

I only got to have this snack there while waiting for dinner at another of his restaurants across the street (more on that later). It's grilled lamb heart, which sounds pretty intense.

I've been curious about heart for a while (see Captain Beefheart), but this was my first real opportunity.

The flavor was intensely meaty without being particularly gamy or overpowering. The texture surprised me. I always presumed that heart would be very tough, but even though the meat was firm, it wasn't excessively so.

I had high hopes to return to Lola to explore the rest of the menu, particularly the other skewers, but alas, my stomach troubles thwarted that. Given all that went uneaten in Seattle, I'm sure I'll return at some point.

October 10, 2009

LA: Kogi

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I've been putting off my Kogi post (for months!) because there is just so much already written about the phenomenal hype surrounding the truck. You've heard it all before. It's been on the food blogs, the food mags, trend reports on the cutting edge and even on NPR. Yes. Food trucks are awesome. Yes. Many of them use Twitter. Got it. And really, more importantly, yes, Korean and Mexican foods fuse well.

So, here's the short version:
Long line, great food, totally earns the hype.

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I had two tacos, one with spicy pork, the other with short ribs and a pair of sliders. All were topped with shredded kimchi.

In hindsight, given that the beef on the sliders is that same as is in in the taco, I'd have made my second taco chicken or maybe have used it as an excuse to gorge myself on a kogi dog.

Regardless, much like the dinner the other week at Minetta Tavern, I walked away disappointed that the hype for Kogi seems to be entirely earned.

Being so good means that it's actually worth jumping through stupid hoops like standing in line for 45 minutes or having dinner at 5:30pm because you aren't important enough to score a reasonable res. And that annoys me, because really, I'm rarely willing to put up with that crap.

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The good news is that the little secret of the Kogi Truck is that they sell the same menu most nights at Alibi Room in Culver City. I didn't make it there on my last trip, but it's definitely on my short list of places to go next time I'm in Los Angeles.

September 30, 2009

Food Finds: Big League Chew

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Mitsuwa, Torrance, Los Angeles. 2009.

Who knew they still made this? It seems decidedly unwise to sell gum designed to look and chew like chewing tobacco. But there it is, still on the shelves somewhere.

September 28, 2009

Quick Bite: Locanda Verde

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In the name of getting more posts up more often, I'm introducing a new feature: Quick Bite. I'll post an image or two from a (hopefully) recent meal with a note or two.

This weekend, Tammi and I had dinner at the bar at Locanda Verde. I had the awesome ribbons of parpardelle, above, topped with a lamb, veal ragu.

Below is the grilled octopus that I raved about when I posted on LV over the summer.

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September 22, 2009

Seattle: Pike Market

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One of the mot awesome things about Seattle and really, one of the selling points on why I decided to go out there was Pike Market. Not the market itself, specifically. Like most tourist attractions, it's jammed with people, making it impossible to navigate and a bit too sensational.

That said, the fact that a food market that specializes in locally sourced, fresh ingredients is one of the primary attractions in Seattle says more than anything else about the town's dedication to food. It's wonderful.


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For all my distaste for the touristy, I certainly found myself going back just to photograph the gorgeous foods and the people who offer it with such care. I only wish I could have grazed through it as much as I'd have liked.

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August 25, 2009

Der Schwarz Kolner Opens!

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Fort Greene's brand new Beer Hall, Der Schwarz Kolner opened a couple weeks ago after much anticipation. Tammi and I ended up getting there 15 minutes after they opened. The menu was still in flux and there was much frantic bouncing around by the staff, but the energy in the room was great.

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As the name implies, they specialize in the cuisine of Koln (or Cologne to you francophiles). What that means in practical matters is that you get plenty of wonderful Kolsch beer. As I've mentioned before, Kölsch is "light and sweet, but with a bite of hops that provides a zen-like balance." And thus a perfect summer beer.

We hung out there for a couple hours, sampling the compact (three item) menu. The bratwurst was juicy and well spiced. The pretzels were tasty, but lacked salt for some reason. The last dish, which had an odd (read: German) name was nothing more complicated than a slab of gouda cheese and a roll. Tammi's rather fond of gouda, so she gobbled that up and loved it.

Before we headed out, we saw an off the menu special coming out of the the kitchen: some tantalizing red kielbasa sausages showed up at the table next to us.

It's a testament to both the draw of a beer hall and the neighborhood that within an hour of our arrival, the place was already crowded. I know I'll be back.

(Many thanks to Eater for linking to my opening day photos)

August 24, 2009

Philly: Breakfast at DiNic's

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I haven't had a chance to post about our philly trip yet, but here's a good start: for breakfast Saturday morning we split a Roast Pork Sandwich at DiNic's in Reading Terminal Market.

What better way to start the day?

Sweet Revenge BBQ Rib-Off

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Sweet Revenge, on the border of Bed-Stuy and Clinton Hill, hosted a Barbecue Rib competition yesterday. Sadly, I only got one rib because I had to head out early, but I did have a good time hanging out for an hour or two before that.

I don't get out to Sweet Revenge a lot, because it's on the exact opposite end of Bed-Stuy from where we are, but it's a fun place with a good beer selection and a spiffy backyard with a 'sandbox' beach area.

Sweet Revenge
348 Franklin Ave
Brooklyn, NY‎
718.398.2472‎

August 21, 2009

Farmers Market Update

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It's been a few weeks since I sent out an update about the Malcolm X Blvd Community Farmers Market, here in Bed-Stuy. After the big push following the threat of Migliorelli pulling out, traffic has risen to a consistent level of about 150 customers a week. Many thanks to Brownstoner, Bed-Stuy Blog and all the other sites that spread the word.

We're still working on publicizing the market, so more of our neighbors know it's going on. This afternoon I spent an hour putting flyers in doors around the area.

On Wednesday, Tammi and I, along with some other volunteers and the Reverends Jackson. We discussed the plans to continue pushing the market forward and to host a fundraising event at the Brooklyn Rescue Mission next month.

Tara put together notes from the meeting and sent out a message with the highlights:

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For those who were unable to attend, here are some highlights:   1. The first fundraising event is scheduled for September 27th. This will be a "garden" party to be held at the Bed Stuy farm with cooking demos, music, and friends! This is definitely more of a community mixer: entry to this event will be low cost. We are currently working on reaching out to local businesses who would be interested in donating product for a raffle that will allow us to supplement money raised with the entry donations.   2. Market Expansion: Now that we've got Migliorelli staying and traffic to the market is increasing, the BRM wants to add more! If you haven't been in a few weeks, we now have a fresh bread vendor in addition to a baked goods vendor. There are still additional vendor slots available (of all kinds-though food is preferred) so if you know anyone who would like to become a vendor at the market, please contact brooklynrescue@msn.com. We're also looking for chefs and amateur gourmets interested in doing food demonstrations using Farmer's Market items. We're also looking for musicians interested in performing at the market! Come perform and sell your CDs!   3. Increase market attraction: Despite increased traffic to the market, we know not enough people in the community know about it. 150,000 residents and only a handful of volunteers makes it difficult. We're continuing with efforts to get the word out. We still have flyer cards that you can pick up at the BRM or at the market on Saturdays. Distribute on your block! We're also looking for contact information for the block associations in the area so if you are active on your block association, please email me! We will also be moving forward with an effort to put up flyers and posters on every corner in the neighborhood!   We want to keep momentum going, especially in light of the event on 9/27. We will be holding another meeting this coming Wednesday at 7pm. Please attend if you can! Meetings will not be as frequent but we definitely would like to meet and do as much planning and action as we can now. As you all know, the Brooklyn Rescue Mission has been getting quite a bit of press on the internet as well as in print (Daily News) and on TV (News 12 and CW 11), and its important to seize any and all opportunities to get the word out about the market and the Bed Stuy Farm! If you can spare an hour next week, please come and learn how you can help!

Volunteer's Meeting-Wednesday 8/26-7pm
255 Bainbridge btwen Malcolm X and Patchen
 
See you there!

Tara

August 14, 2009

Weekend in Philly

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This evening, Tammi and I are going to Philadelphia for a little downtime together. We haven't been there together since she ran the Philadelphia Marathon in '07.

It's just the weekend, but of course the food is pretty planned out. Tonight it's dinner at Amada, tomorrow, it's Osteria. We're staying right down the block from Reading Terminal Market, so I can't imagine we won't check out DiNic's.

Beyond that, we'll be wandering around, and enjoying the city. Tammi has a couple shops she wants to hit and I'll be photographing and such. It should be a lot of fun.

There will be Tweets, so if you want the bite-by-bite, follow away.

August 13, 2009

Markets: Food Dimensions

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I discovered Food Dimensions entirely by accident. Shortly after Tammi and I moved into our place, I was following a lead on a Western Beef Outlet, which turned out to be nothing special.

But on the way, I passed Food Dimensions, which just seemed like any other supermarket. The difference became clear when I got to the back of the store. The meat market takes up maybe a quarter of the store and there's often a crew of butchers working behind the counter.

Being right on the edge of Bushwick, the meat available is much more diverse than the standard fare at other similar supermarkets around the city. Besides the sausages in styles representing Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Mexico, there are cuts of meat that represented the concept of whole animal eating long before it became trendy. There are tongues and feet and tripe; skin and fatty bits are labeled as chicharrones. This is where I bought my first Lechon, the suckling pig I prepared Cuban style for our holiday party in '07.

They've also got a respectable fish market offering prices and selection not quite as good as Chinatown, but better than anywhere else I know. Last visit, Lobsters were available for $9 a pound, which is quite the bargain.

There are two reasons I don't include this in the Butchery series. The first is that the majority of the meat is packaged ahead of time, meaning there isn't necessarily always the same opportunity to work closely with the butchers to get what you want.

The other reason is that they've got a vast selection of Latin ingredients. Cactus leaves, espazote, chipotle peppers of both the canned and dried varieties, cheeses of many textures and flavors and so much more. Walking through the aisles is an adventure for me. I invariably end up picking up something I've never heard of just to see what I can do with it.

August 12, 2009

LA: West 4th/Jane

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In the middle of Santa Monica, West 4th/Jane sits in homage to a transplanted New Yorker's memory of Corner Bistro, a couple thousand miles away. I didn't get to go in, so I can't say how well the burger compares.

Apparently they just opened a couple months ago and got a fair amount of blog attention. Based on at least one site, which refers to it as being inspired by "NYC Gastropubs," it sounds nothing like the original.

Hell, the fact that there seem to be more than 5 things on the menu and a hundred beers available should tell you all you need to know.

West 4th/Jane
1432 4th St
Santa Monica, CA 90401

August 11, 2009

LA: Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs

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While it does seem as though I ate everything while in LA, there was one local delicacy I passed on: The bacon-wrapped hot dog. Oh, I've had hot dogs wrapped in bacon before, I just haven't had any that were 'griddled,' as seen here, on a baking sheet on the street.

As someone who has often celebrated street meat, it's probably dubious for me to draw a line here, but I was skeptical enough to pass it by. All I had heard about the dogs was that the local health department was down on it. I mean, bacon cooking at lowish temperatures in sunny California presents a few obvious concerns to me too.

But apparently there is a long history of these dogs in Mexican lore and particularly in Mexican communities in Los Angeles.

Personally, I've let my cautious side stop me from partaking in these in the past. But seeing the crisp bacon and smelling the aromatic peppers and onions, I was truly tempted. It's only the meal I had just finished that stopped me from finally giving one a try.

Locanda Verde

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The night before leaving for LA, Tammi and I had dinner at Locanda Verde, the great new restaurant in the Greenwich Hotel in Tribeca. It was our second time there, after a birthday meal there in June.

The restaurant has gotten a huge amount of press on the blogs since it opened in late May and I have to say it's pretty well deserved.

I don't really know where to start describing the highlights of the meal without just listing everything.

The blue crab crostino was nicely spiced with black pepper to enhance the flavor of the crab.

The Lamb Meatball sliders are amazing. We had that the last time and had to have it again. The meat was richly flavored without any powerful gaminess to it was topped with a cheesy tomato sauce and pickle. I could eat them all night.

The grilled octopus was tender, but still had just the right firmness. The fish flavor was clearly present without being overpowering. And it had just the right amount of char to counter the other tastes.

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The winner of the night was Tammi's linguine with shellfish. Its sauce was sweet and creamy with flavors of herbs, garlic, lemon battling out with chunks of lobster, shrimp and clams tossed in. It was amazing.

There was plenty more, but I'm trying to keep it brief. Just thinking about it is making me hungry.

Locanda Verde
377 Greenwich Street
New York NY 10013
212.941.8900

August 10, 2009

Lunch: MFC (formerly Bon Chon)

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A month or so ago the Bon Chon Chicken in Koreatown (and I believe the location in Flushing) suddenly changed its name to Mad For Chicken. According to Midtown Lunch, this is a familiar story:

Ah yes- the old open a franchise... steal the recipe... decide you don't want to pay the royalties anymore game. If this whole thing sounds familiar, it's because it is. Shorty's (on 9th Ave. btw. 41+42nd) did the same thing to Tony Luke's. Thankfully for Midtown Lunch'ers one commenter is reporting that the chicken pretty much tastes the same as it always has, but I'm guessing it still takes forever to get your order. Thanks to Lunch'er Paul for passing along this link to the Bon Chon Website.

I stopped in for lunch before a couple weeks ago and can verify that on all counts, things are about the same. The chicken was the same, if slightly spicier and the service was just as slow.

I will say this though, the place did seem more crowded that I had ever seen it during lunch. And the waiter actually warned me that the food would take about 45 minutes, which I don't think I've ever seen before - it always takes that long, they just don't usually warn you.

Lunch: Num Pang

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Farther afield than even the extended area I've been attempting to survey as part of my walking project, Num Pang's sandwiches are good enough to hop a train for. I was downtown running a couple errands during lunch and took the opportunity to sample the pork belly special.

The sandwich, above, sported meltingly tender pork belly topped with pickled cucumber and rhubarb, shredded carrots and sprigs of cilantro. The flavors and textures fell together magically. The roll, which I worried might be too thick, turned out to fold perfectly with the meet when biting into it.

My only complaint was structural. The pickled rhubarb, simultaneously tangy, tart and sweet, was left in whole stalks, which are rather difficult to bite through. Each bite I struggled to get through it without yanking the entire piece out of the sandwich. If it had been cut up into smaller bits, the logistics of eating the sandwich would have been more convenient.

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Num Pang serves Cambodian sandwiches. They are similar to Vietnamese sandwiches in that they include a good deal of tender pork, stinging spice and tangy pickles, but with wider variations than what I've seen at traditional Vietnamese spots. I can't speak to other Cambodian sandwich shops, Num Pang seems to shine brightest on it's often changing menu of specials. Of course, it's regular menu is nothing to write off either.

Num Pang
21 east 12th street, new york, ny 10003
phone: 212.255.3271

August 7, 2009

LA: Musha Again

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I've got nothing new to say about Musha that I haven't already said. I had another great meal there the other night.

My only complaint for the evening was that the dishes should have been paced out a little better. Within 15 minutes all of the small plates we ordered were delivered and cluttering the table. It felt a little rushed and diminished the experience a bit. Otherwise, the food was spot on as usual.

Instead of yammering on some more about it, here's some eye-candy:

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August 6, 2009

LA: Pizza Mozza 2 Go

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Following the market trend that has popped up here and there, Mozza has opened up a shop a couple doors down from the Osteria. It's called Pizza Mozza 2 Go. The name is pretty straightforward, but the store is not just a takeout window to the popular pizzeria.

Nancy Silverton stocks the shelves in the front counter area with some of the key ingredients that she uses at the restaurants as well as some gems that she's managed to source on trips to Italy.

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In the back room, customers can wait for their pizza over a glass of wine. The waiting area looks awfully familiar to the New Yorker's eye, with marble-topped tables that look to be the same as those used in the large bar area at the front of Otto.

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And really, because I can't stop raving about Mozza, this is what I had for dinner that night. The housemade fennel sausage was fragrant and wonderful.

August 5, 2009

LA: Fraiche

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Last Monday, after we finished our main setup, we returned to Culver City to eat at Fraiche, a block away from Ford's. The food is primarily country cuisine from France and Italy, serving rustic meals in what under other circumstances could have been a romantic dinner. If I ever manage to come out here away from work and with Tammi, I would love to take her there.

Above is the Oxtail parpadelle I had. Oxtail is great for this sort of preparation. The meat shreds into pieces that fit just right on the fork with the pasta. The sauce was a puddle of broth that moistened every bite and hung along the face of the rough-textured mustard greens. The sweet meatiness balanced out the greens' typical harsh bitterness.

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To start, I had an order of Tete de Veau, which is a fancy way of saying head cheese, which is really just a euphemism for 'cow face and jelly.' It's the jelly bit that usually gives me a little trouble. Sometimes it's just a little too much texturally and lacks much in the way of flavor. It can just get in the way of the meat that I'm actually looking to eat. But when it's done right, there isn't too much gelatin and what there is of it, melts into a concentrated beef juice.

This was like that. The meat was firm and hammy and in thick chunks that fit well on the slices of bread.

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The meal was great and the space was nicely put together. We sat outside in the dining section of the patio. Right across from us was the bar's patio, which featured high tables and stools as well as a couple couches. I could totally imagine sitting out there, lingering for hours with friends after a meal.

Fraiche
9411 Culver Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232
310.839.6800

August 3, 2009

Butchery At Home: The Fourth of July

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That's right, I cut up another pig. It's late for me to post this, but, hey, I actually have a little time for once.

All my talk of butchery got me interested in doing a bit of my own. For our July 4th shindig, I bought a 37 pound pig and cut it up myself. This was the biggest pig I've tackled to date, but after a 16 and a 20 pounder, I had the anatomy down.

Like my first porchetta attempt last year, I deboned the mid-section and seasoned it with fennel pollen, rosemary, garlic and this time, lemon juice instead of full slices.

I rubbed the ribs with a cajun seasoning, which would have been great if there had been any meat to speak of there.

The shoulders and front legs were marinated in a Cuban citrus mixture, what's been a fixture of mine for years. Orange, Lime and Grapefruit juice mixed with vinegar, cumin, onions and garlic.

One back leg was rubbed in an achiote paste and slow roasted on the grill. The other, I have frozen and plan to cure as a ham. I may wait until the humidity goes down so I can avoid the trouble I ran into last time...

And of course, there's the head. Appleman made the wonderful suggestion of braising and then roasting it. It sounded like a great idea, but then I was perplexed by what to braise it in.

I found inspiration looking in the freezer. There were a number of containers full of porchetta stock from the bones of the Christmas party porchetta that I had no idea what I was going to do with. This was the answer.

I slow cooked the head half-covered in the stock and a mixture of the leftover seasonings from the new batch of porchetta, then I put the head on a cast iron and threw it on the grill for a bit to get some smoke and to crisp up.

It worked out really well. I shredded the meat from the cheeks and the ears and snout and chopped it up. it became an unctuous, mass of pulled pork that everyone who tasted it loved. The flavors of fennel and rosemary permeated every bite without dominating and the texture was transcendental in its tenderness.

The pig was definitely a win all around (except for the ribs, which had no meat on them). I don't know the next time I'll be able to do something like this again, but I've certainly eager to braise/roast another head and make wonderful things out of it.

Continue reading "Butchery At Home: The Fourth of July" »

July 30, 2009

Lunch: Soba Totto

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A couple weeks ago, work took me up to a satellite office in the Grand Central area. As soon as I knew I was heading up there I started contemplating my lunch options.

Then it came to me: Japanese. While there's plenty of Korean food coming out of K Town, there isn't much in the way of Japanese food in the area besides some anonymous sushi spots here and there. The east 40's on the other hand hosts a veritable Japantown, catering to an older crowd than the raucous scene down on St. Mark's Place.

Soba Totto is one of my favorite places in the area. One of three upscale izakaya in midtown, I've often enjoyed the yakitori and somewhat exotic fare. All three locations roast interesting skewers of cartilage and rare chicken thighs and such. This location specializes in soba noodles, as seen in the soup on the right.

Most noodles are striking for their texture rather than flavor. Soba's buckwheat base adds another dimension. I'm told that the Japanese consider soba noodles to be comfort food, a taste of home. I'm not sure I have the vocabulary to pinpoint the difference, but I find the flavor to be heartier, meatier.

Paired with that was the bowl of ginger-marinated sauteed pork belly slices on a bed of rice. The whole meal, at $15 was a great deal.

I may have to return for lunch even when I don't just happen to be in the neighborhood.

July 29, 2009

LA: Ford's Filling Station

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When I told my travel companion that he might not make the reservation I made for Ford's Filling Station, he insisted that we would just have to go again later in the week. He -had- to go back to Ford's. I managed to move the reservation back a couple hours and we had a late dinner that night.

Like a lot of restaurants these days, Ford's menu is based on the notion of working with local, seasonal, quality ingredients. The restaurant is said to be the pioneer of both this philosophy of cooking and of the downtown Culver City area. Apparently, the area was fairly desolate until some investment in a local theater revived it. In a recent interview with LAist, Chef Ben Ford talked about how perceptions of the area have changed as well as his preference of sourcing food from the farmers market.

The food really shows the care that goes in it. My main dish, the Jidori chicken had a wonderfully crispy skin with remarkably juicy meat. The mashed potatoes and succotash on the side completed a great comfort food combination. I ordered a side of Mac n Cheese too, which looked fantastic, but after this and our starter, I couldn't eat another bite.

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We began with a long strip of flatbread topped with jamon serrano, cheese and caramelized veggies.

My only complaint about the entire meal was the order of Pork Rillettes. I found the grind to be too fine, leaving a pasty texture that didn't really work for me.

Overall, one disappointment out of the whole meal was perfectly acceptable. The meal definitely reinforce that Ford's is a place ot return to again and again.

Ford's Filling Station

9531 Culver Blvd. Culver City, CA
310.202.1470

MXB Market: How to Help

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First of all, I'd like to thank Brownstoner for helping let folks know the situation by posting this afternoon about the potential loss of Migliorelli from the market.

Secondly, Tara followed up the email I posted Tuesday with another message letting anyone interested in volunteering know how they can help support the Farmers Market, Brooklyn Rescue Mission and fresh, healthy food in Bed-Stuy. If you would like to contact her to assist in one way or another, please email her at teefiveten (at) gmail.com.

All of you are receiving this email because you expressed interest in volunteering for the Malcolm X Community Farmer's Market. Thank You!

I too am a volunteer and it has been a very enjoyable experience. There are a lot of parts to this market and a lot of different opportunities available to help and donate your time and talents! Here's a bit of an overview of the areas where volunteers are needed.

1. Flyering-Right now, we're in the middle of a HUGE push because we are facing the possibility of Migliorelli Farms, the primary vendor, pulling out after this week due to lower than expected sales. While there are backup farms lined up, obviously we want to keep what we've got because they do bring quality produce and are well known (they sell in markets across the city, including Union Square). The market attendance has been growing steadily the past few weeks but we still need to reach a lot more people. We have colorful flyer cards prepared. There will be some very early morning flyering around the area of the market (Bainbridge, Decatur, Macon, Macdonough between Stuyvesant Av and Malcolm X) this Thursday and Friday morning at 6:30am. If you are available and would like to help, please email me back. If you'd like to do some flyering on your own, let me know and we can coordinate a time for you to pickup flyers from either myself or from the mission directly. Please be sure to let me know what areas you would like to cover so that we do not repeat. I will say right now we need some flyer coverage between Throop and Patchen on Hancock and Halsey Streets.

2. Market Setup and Breakdown-The market runs from 8am-1pm. Volunteers are needed between 7-9am to assist with setup and between 1-3pm for breakdown. Setup involves bringing tables and tents from the Brooklyn Rescue Mission (whichis up the street from the market at 255 Bainbridge) to the market, sweeping the market area, and setting up the tables and tents and signs. Any items that will be sold by the mission on the vendor's behalf will also be setup on the tables. All vendors who sell their items directly are usually responsible for their own setup and breakdown and volunteers do not participate. However, one of the baked goods vendors usually needs some assistance in packaging her freshly baked cookies. Breakdown involves bringing back all tents, tables,and unsold items back to the mission. A car is not necessary but would be helpful during setup and breakdown to minimize the number of trips that need to be made back and forth to the mission.

3.Market Duties-during market hours, volunteers are needed to take customer counts, do some additional marketing/flyering nearby, sell any items that farmers/vendors "drop off", as well as administer customer surveys and obtain signatures for an ongoing petition. There are no specific shift times-whatever times you are available between 8 and 1 will work.

4.Petitioning-Some of you are aware that the mission also has a farm, located on Decatur between Malcolm X and Patchen. This farm is currently on city-owned land, so there is the real possibility that it may be sold. The mission is gathering 1200 signatures in support of protecting the property from a land sale. We are obtaining hand signatures during the market but there is also an online petition if you'd like to send it to your contacts.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/3/save-bed-stuy-farm

5.Fundraising/Event Planning-this area is in desperate need of more people,as I'm currently the only volunteer on this front :). The market does have some overhead as far as materials and printing and other aspects of its operation. We'd like to hold some fundraising events as well as some other events to involve the community to raise awareness about the market, the Bed Stuy Farm, and the Brooklyn Rescue Mission in general. Some ideas thrown around include a Farm Tour/Open House, a Locavore Fundraiser Dinner, as well as a cookoff where contestants would use foods sold at the market. These events are all in the early planning stage so help is needed to move these further along.

6.Harvesting-If you have a bit of a green thumb or just like to get dirty, there are opportunities to volunteer on the farm and harvest all the ripened items grown on the farm.

For those of you most interested in direct market duties, please take a look at our calendar link below. Email me with what market duties you are most interested in as well as dates and times you will be available and we will pencil you into the volunteer calendar. The market runs until November so if you could give us your availability just for August, we will send follow up emails for the other months. We just ask that if you cannot make your assigned 'shift' that you let us know 3 days in advance so that we may make sure we are covered for the week. If you haven't already come to the market, please come by this weekend  and introduce yourself and learn more if you can!  The Reverends are there all day. Don't be shy-you can ask anyone for Robert or DeVanie Jackson.

http://www.google.com/calendar/embed?src=ppdad6lr5ai4c4mft92e078p7k%40group.calendar.google.com&ctz=America/New_York

Thanks again for volunteering. I hope to see you at the market soon!


Thanks,
Tara


DC: Dinner at Marvin

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On our second night in DC the other weekend, Tammi and I met up with friends for dinner at Marvin. As I mentioned in a previous post, Marvin's menu stars the somewhat startling combination of Southern American and Belgian dishes. Though it seems odd at first, I have to say it worked well.

I had the chicken and waffle, above, which was wonderful. The breading had just the right crispy crunch to it and was complemented wonderfully by the sweetness of the syrup. Even the side of sauteed greens with a cream sauce that sat beneath the waffle mixed well, adding a slightly bitter edge to all that sweet and savory.

Tammi went with an order of Moules Frites, which came with a huge pile of mussels. She was so full from that, that she barely touched her fries. If you knew how much she loves fries, you'd understand how good the mussels must have been.

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After dinner we headed upstairs and listened to the DJ spin some tunes while we relaxed for a couple hours. The space filled up over the evening and there was a great vibe. Good times.

July 28, 2009

Will Der Shwarze Kolner Ever Open?

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I first heard rumor of a beer garden opening in Fort Greene, way back in March. Obviously, I was very happy. Beer. Schnitzel. Outdoor space. What's not to love?

And being positioned a block away from Habana Outpost means it'll have an interesting crowd and hopefully will have a moderating effect on the drives that overwhelm the place on the weekends.

But, I was apprehensive. There was no word of when they would be opening. So, I sat tight and didn't think about it.

That is until Brownstoner reported that they would be open by the end of last month. With hopes of tippling over brats and shnitzel for 4th of July Weekend, I stopped by to find it shuttered.

Last week, I passed by again and the gates were half open. I stuck my head in and asked about an opening date, but didn't get anything more than "Soon come."

So, there you go: Soon come.

LA Recs: The Tower of Justice Returns

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Stephen, a.k.a. The Tower of Justice is a long-time friend of the blog. Last year he offered tips on where and what to eat in San Francisco and he has advised on LA Eats in the past as well. Below is an extended and updated list of recommendations. Note the liberal use of the term 'bomb-ass.' That's how you know it's real.

Here are a few options to consider:

Downtown

Near the Staples Center is Philippe's, which as you may recall is the birthplace of the au jus roast beef sandwich.  They don't serve it with au jus in a dipping bowl, but instead ask you how many dips you want--one, two, or three.  Get it with two, which provides you with enough juice to give the meat some flavor but not too much so that the french roll loses its integrity.  They also serve 10 cent coffee.  It isn't transcendent but it's novel.  At each table, you'll find spicy ass mustard or horseradish sauce (I can't remember), which is bomb-ass.

In Chinatown, which is about 10 minutes northeast of downtown, you'll find Empress Pavilion which has some great dim sum.

In Koreatown, which is about 10 minutes west of downtown, you'll find all sorts of good eats.  My favorite is Beverly Soon Tofu on the northwest corner of Olympic and Vermont.  It's a spicy tofu soup made with all sorts of good meat/seafood combinations.  The bowl is a mini-cauldron that is bubbling when it is brought to your table at which point the waitress drops a raw egg into the bowl so that it can add another layer of flavor.  If you go, order the pork/seafood combination broth and ask for it "regular" spicy.  ("Spicy" spicy is really too hot, to the point where it begins detracting from the meal.)

There is also a Kyo-Chon chicken joint in K-town.  I've been to Bon-Chon, which also recently opened a store in LA k-town, and I still prefer Kyo-Chon.

Two other places to think about.  One is Honey Pig, which is a korean bacon joint.  They have giant pans in the shape of an inverted cone placed over a gas grill.  The inverted shape allows the bacon grease to burn off and collect in a pool at the bottom.  They serve the bacon with all sorts of kim chee, all of which you can wrap either in some leafy green or a rice wrap slathered in sesame oil.  Be sure to save some of whatever meat you're eating because the wait staff will come and make fried rice at the table with the leftovers.

Another place to try is Park's BBQ, which is on Vermont, just north of Olympic (and around the corner from Beverly Soon Tofu).  I've never been to Park's but the word on the street is that this place has the best beef bbq in K-town.  I think they even offer kobe beef short ribs.  Yikes.

Mid-Wilshire

One place in the mid-wilshire area you may consider is Umami Burger.  I have a pic of my burger in my mobile uploads folder on FB.  It's more novel than profound.  My umami burger had a patty, shiitake mushrooms, and a parmesan crisp.  My sister had the green chile burger which was better, I thought.  I hear good things about the triple pork burger.  

Another place you might try is Loteria, which is at the Farmers market at the Grove shopping center.  Loteria serves up some bomb ass chilequiles.  The head chef there is often featured on KCRW's "Good Food" podcast.  

Westside
I noted Musha on your list.  Everything there is good, but here are a few things you MUST try:
Kakuni (slow-cooked pork belly)
Saba: this mackeral, which not everyone loves because of its extremely fishy taste.  I recommend this if for no other reason than to experience having the wait sear your fish at the table with a blow torch.
MFC: Musha-Fried Chicken.  Enough said.
Vongore Udon: this dish is a relatively dry udon dish with clams and mushrooms. Savory goodness.
Spicy Tuna-Dip: they mix up some sashimi grade tuna with some spicy sauce, and serve rice cakes on the side.  

Some other good items include the risotto, which they serve tableside in a big block of parmesan cheese; somen noodles, which are really clean-tasting; an omelette with octopus and soba noodles (I can't remember the Japanese name).

Another place in Santa Monica is Bay Cities Italian Deli.  Their "Godmother" sandwich with spicy peppers is legitimate.  

If you get a chance to swing through Westwood, I also recommend your swinging through Stan's Donuts.  They have peanut butter and chocolate and peanut butter and banana donuts, both of which are great.  I usually go with the banana donut because it has real bananas.

A day ago, ToJ added one more suggestion to this list of wonders,

"Check out Daikokuya in Little Tokyo. Bomb ass pork ramen. The broth is milky white from pork parts having been cooked in it for days."

Bomb. Ass. For real.

An Updated Update: MXB Farmers Market in Danger

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No sooner had I posted about some of the goodies at the market last weekend than I get word that it might not be there when I get back from LA. The short version is that the farmer who has been bringing the majority of the great quality produce to the market plans to pull out because they aren't getting enough business.

Below is the message from Tara, who has been involved with the organizing for the market. It includes some solid steps that each of us can take to help save the market. Please read through, but the key thing to do would be to come out to support the market and to tell as many people as you can about it.

Here's Tara's message:

I know at this point some of you are probably sick of my Farmer's Market emails, but I ask that you please bear with me yet again because this is really important.

On Saturday while I was at the market, we got word that Migliorelli Farms, the sole farmer's vendor at the market at this time, will not be back after this coming Saturday, as the sales at the market have not been enough to cover their expenses (labor and gas) in coming out to the market. While the number of people visiting and purchasing at the market has been increasing (we do customer counts), it has not yet been sufficient. The market has only been open three weeks this season so this is definitely not good for momentum.

While the Brooklyn Rescue Mission will not be deterred and there will always be a market on Saturday, this is definitely a setback, as it took many calls and emails on their behalf to get a farm such as Migliorelli to sell at the market and will take even more effort to find a replacement vendor. The BRM is only interested in bringing quality food to the neighborhood so to have a farm like Migliorelli, that also sells in Union Square, was definitely a big step towards having more food equity in the area.  Unfortunately, there just hasn't been enough of a presence by local residents. Bedford Stuyvesant is a large neighborhood and despite the ads in the local papers, blog postings, emails, the several thousand flyers distributed throughout the area, there are definitely still some people we haven't yet reached, but there are also a lot of people who do know about the market and have chosen to not visit it, for whatever reason. This is unfortunate as those who have visited have been very pleased with the selection, quality, and price of the produce. We've also added a fresh bread vendor and the Brooklyn Rescue Mission is still working on bringing more vendors on, such as a honey vendor.

This email isn't to shame Migliorelli as it is understandable that they need to meet their margin and cannot operate at a loss. This is more of a "community call", as it seems we are proving the case many have been saying about Bed Stuy: that we cannot maintan and sustain a farmer's market in this community. I don't believe this, the Brooklyn Rescue Mission doesn't believe this, and they are working hard to prove these people wrong. You can help by coming out this Saturday, August 1st and visiting the market and doing your produce shopping for the week at the market. I also ask that you keep coming as often as you can after this Saturday but I truly believe that after you come on Saturday and see what the market has to offer, you'll come regularly on your own because it truly is growing into something the community can be proud to support. I know we all have our likes and dislikes about the community and access to quality food is definitely one of them. It isn't enough knowing that there's a market in the area-we have to support it as well to make it sustainable!

Malcolm X Community Farmer's Market
Malcolm X Blvd between Marion and Chauncey Streets-in front of Jackie Robinson Park
8am-1pm (Migliorelli often stays past 1pm)
A/C train to Utica Avenue (the market is right around the corner!)
B46 or B25  to Malcolm X and Fulton (market is right across the street!)

If you want to "see" what the market has to offer, check some of the photos taken by some bloggers who have come by the market:

Off To Market (DigitalTammi)

A Farmers Market Grows in Brooklyn(UltraClay)

Saturday is Farmers Market Day
(Bed-Stuy Blog)

Please tell everyone you know! If they live in or near Bed Stuy or love local produce or is just down to support something that helps build community-tell them to come out this Saturday. I hope to see you there. If you cannot make it out on Saturday, you can help us this week by picking up some flyers at the Brooklyn Rescue Mission to distribute-contact me for more information. I have to plug yet again that there are other volunteer opportunities relating to the market so you can contact me about that as well.

Thanks,
Tara

July 27, 2009

MXB Farmers Market Update

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On Saturday, before heading to JFK, I went to the Farmer's Market with Tammi. I grabbed some apricots and sweet plums (above) for the flight.

Tammi stuck to help out. She wrote a post on her blog about what they were selling this weekend, including a new seller that sounds like it attracted a crowd:

Fresh bread made with all natural ingredients, provided by Rick of R&R Distributors. This bread comes from Silver Bell Bakery in Corona, Queens. The bakery has been around for 100 years. Rick had crowds around him for a good part of the morning. People just couldn't get enough of the bread. He also sells whole wheat pasta and gluten free items...

It'll be another couple weeks before I can get back to the market, but it sounds like it's going well. As always, if you live in the neighborhood, I urge you to go out and support it.

LA Recs 2: Laura's Finds

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This is Laura. She moved out to LA last year to go to grad school. From pretty much the minute she landed, I've been hitting her up to go eat at places I read about. As she was procrastinating during finals, she put together an extensive list of places she likes or has heard good things about. Here are the highlights:

La Brea Bakery La Brea and 7th St - Los Angeles REALLY delicious sweet breads, seating outside and a few tables only at that but great if you want to grab a cup of coffee and a scone or muffin or breadstick. $-$$ (for pastries...)

Campanile
La Brea and 7th St.
Same owners as La Brea Bakery
Good brunch on the weekends. Fancy place that is kid friendly. Website says brunch times during the week as well but when I went at 11:30 on a Friday they gave us lunch menu only. But that's ok because the mushroom and truffle omelet was still on there and it was YUM!
$$

Phillip's BBQ
Crenshaw just south of I-10
I haven't been here personally but I have seen the trough of meat (pork ribs, beef tip, chicken, you name it-they BBQ it) that my friends have ordered and it smelled good! You order in pounds of meat...and if they run out of corn bread then they just give you a whole loaf of Wonder Bread...mmm
$$

fraiche
9411 culver blvd
culver city ca 90232
310.839.6800
Really good specials and seafood! And wine. Kind of a fancy place, totally delicious!
$$$

Taco truck by the Ralph's parking lot
Glendale Blvd and Alvarado (just off the 101 N Alvarado exit)
Need I say more...great taco truck with like 5-6 salsas to lather on the yummy meat!
$

Chano's Tacos
Figueroa - North of Adams (East side of Fig)
Just a must eat when near USC...took me WAY too long to try this place out! Good carne asada burritos. Nachos are cheap kind w cheddar melted on top and bottom layers don't get any cheese but other than that they have great food!
$

http://www.wingstop.com/
Crenshaw north of The Cobbler Lady on the West side of the street
Just yummy wings in like 7 flavors with at least 3 dipping sauces at a cheap price, w seasoned fries and a drink you can't miss. 10pcs (2 flavors), w fries, and a drink for under $10. Eat in or take-out. One of the few places open after 10pm in my 'hood!
$

Mexican place down the block from Lyric Café
Great drinks and food is delicious! Pricing comparable to NY prices and gives a generous helping of food.
$$

July 25, 2009

LA: Food Recs, Part One

This year, I asked 'the network' (read: Facebook) for some recommendations as well as a couple well placed experts on the ground. The results could fill a month of eating even with an open schedule, so I don't know how much of it I'll be able to actually make, but I intend to try my best to put a dent in the list.

In addition, I plan to make visits to some old favorites, like Musha, Pizzeria Mozza and tonight, when my colleague with the car comes, it's Ford's Filling Station in Culver City.

I was going to collect all the recommendations in one post, but looking at them now, I'm realizing exactly how intense this list is. Let's start with some of the highlights:

First and foremost, the Kogi BBQ Truck, which has lit the blogotubes on fire with praise received forceful recs from no less than four of my friends. I was already hoping to make it out there, but a little dubious about all the hype. I still am, but really, Korean barbecue tacos are too brilliant to pass up.

Beyond that, recommendations varied from Ethiopian at Merkato on Fairfax to Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles.

I got a nice music recommendation from Joshu, who worked in the college radio station with me back in the day, "It's been a while, but last time I was there, Catalina Jazz Club was putting it down with the music and food. Goes without saying that you need to eat some of the divey Mexican that Californians on the East Coast bitch relentlessly about missing."

Along those lines, Harriet, who lives in LA chimed in about the "Great Mexican food ... at Loteria in the Farmers Market at the Grove (a stand) or at their new restaurant in Hollywood."

I've been to both in past years and would definitely go back. She continued, "For dinner, try Susan Feniger's The Street on Highland near Mozza. My favorite restaurant is Rustic Canyon in Santa Monica."

I like Santa Monica because it's the only area of LA I've seen that's remotely walkable, but with one or two exceptions, I haven't been blown away by the food. So, I definitely want to give this a try.

Over the next couple of days, I'll be posting more recommendations from a couple locals. Stay tuned.

July 17, 2009

Reminder: MXB Farmers Market Week 2

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Just a reminder here for all those in the neighborhood that tomorrow is week 2 of the Malcolm X Blvd Farmers Market, brought to us by Brooklyn Rescue Mission.

Yesterday, Brownstoner featured my post about last week's market.

Tammi also posted about it on her blog and Erica, a neighbor we met last weekend put together a slideshow on her blog, Erica Eats.

We're all trying to publicize this as much as we can. Hopefully when I'm next in town for the market, that it will have quite the following.

---
Malcolm X Blvd Farmers Market
Jackie Robinson Park
Malcolm X Blvd and Marion Street, 1 block from Fulton Street

For more information about the market or Brooklyn Rescue Mission go to:

http://brooklynrescuemission.org/farmstand.aspx

To volunteer, call 718 363-3085

July 16, 2009

Lunch Explorations

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I complain about the culinary wasteland that is Midtown, but all things considered, I'm in a relatively good spot to eat if I take a little more than the customary 15 minutes to grab something quick and eat at my desk.

Last week, Tammi and I started working on losing some weight. I refuse to call it a diet, but healthier living is probably for the best, so we'll see what happens. There may be some mention of it here and there on the blog, but if you want weekly updates on such things, see Ed Levine. That's not my thing.

Here's where it's relevant: One of my goals is to walk more and I figure what's more motivating for me that food? So, I'm trying to get out to some of those places that are pretty close to my office, but further than I would usually consider for lunch. Think 2nd Avenue, Curry Hill or Chelsea. All within 10 blocks of my office, but outside of the 2 block radius I typically lock myself into.

My trip to Baoguette was my first such excursion. My goal is to do this at least once a week. If nothing else, it should make for some more interesting eating options which can't be bad.

July 13, 2009

Oyster Sliders at Ed's Lobster Bar

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This is the most wonderful thing ever: Oyster Sliders.
Bacon-wrapped. Fried. Oyster. Sliders.

Seriously.

July 12, 2009

A Farmers Market Grows in Bed-Stuy

Malcolm X Blvd. Community Farmers Market

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Yesterday morning, Tammi and I put our time where our mouths are and volunteered at the first market of the season of the Malcolm X Blvd. Community Farmers Market here in Bed-Stuy.

My initial fears of just about anything done in the neighborhood is that it'll be half-assed. I've seen it over and over, people have big ideas but nothing to back it up. But my worries were unfounded. While a little disorganized, the market brought a great turnout of volunteers and what I hope is just the beginning of neighborhood denizens taking advantage of the only farm fresh fruits and vegetables on offer for miles.

The Reverends Jackson, who run this farmers market as a part of the Brooklyn Rescue Mission (more on that later) have managed to bring in some farmers from the Greenmarket circuit this year. Yesterday, folks from Migliorelli Farm offered some great vegetables, including baby fennel, bok choy, various braising greens, Japanese turnips and good selection of fresh fruits.

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Later in the morning, there was a cooking demo where this woman, who I didn't get to meet showed folks how to prepare many of the ingredients on hand.

Another farmer supplied 100 lbs of organic beans to the mission to repackage and sell per pound. Tammi, along with some other volunteers and summer youth workers divvied them out into one pound packs. When I saw the rich, deep colors of the black and the dark red beans, I had to buy some for myself.

In fact, I had to run back home to get a bag to haul back all the veggies that I bought.

Next week more farmers tables will be up as well as someone selling fresh baked bread and artisanal honey, among other things.

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If I'm gushing here, it's because I'm very excited to have something like this in the neighborhood. I've lived in Bed-Stuy for a long time and there has been a dearth of markets offering anything fresh for the last decade. It's about half a mile from my house to any place offering any vegetables that aren't shriveled and moldy. Having this mere blocks away will alter the quality of life in this area for tons of us who have been trekking to Fort Greene or Park Slope or Union Square to get food that has been well cared for.

I'm going to be out of town for a fair portion of the rest of the summer weekends, so I want to do my part to make the market a success by spreading the word as much as I can. I hope to post regularly about which sellers will be coming in and what food will be available.

Stay tuned.

Malcolm X Blvd. Community Farmers Market
Jackie Robinson Park, Malcolm X Blvd and Marion Street
Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn
Saturdays, 8am - 1pm through the summer.

July 9, 2009

Butchery: The Times Catches On The Rock Star Trend

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I have to say it was pretty gratifying to see The Paper of Record chime in on the Butchery theme I've been going on about.

Most of the New York scene mentioned in the story were things I've been following and planning on posting about, but it was interesting to read about what's going on in San Francisco in particular. I'll have to make a point of seeking out such things the next time I'm in the area.

I'm also interested in reading Julie Powell's upcoming book about her time at Fleisher's, the Meat Mecca of the east. And I may finally have to finish reading Heat just so I can read more about Dario Cecchini, who I've mentioned here before.

In any case, if you have any interest in all this meat talk, the story is worth the read just for tips on others doing this butchery thing. Enjoy!

June 28, 2009

Curing: FAIL

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If I'm going to really discuss my curing experiments, I have to acknowledge my failures along with the successes. My first attempt at a country-style ham was, sadly, quite the catastrophe.

I've cured a ham before. It was wonderful. I put a pork leg in a brine of Apple juice and hard cider and left it to brine over our honeymoon. When we got back, I let it hang in the basement for a couple weeks. It worked out really well and I served it up at our holiday party in December.

After that, I decided to go a step further. Ruhlman has a recipe for a cure that aged a lot longer and ended up as rich and dry as a Spanish jamon serrano or a southern Country ham. It called for a minimum of 4 months aging after weeks buried in salt.

I think it was the salting where I messed up. I engulfed a 20 pound leg in kosher salt for the nearly entire month of January. Unfortunately, I was out of town for most of the month, so I wasn't able to keep it under observation for that whole time. When I got back from the X Games, a good deal of the top layer of meat was exposed. I'm presuming this is where it all went wrong. I dumped more salt on top, but perhaps the damage was done.

Regardless, it obviously didn't work out. Back to the drawing board.

June 24, 2009

Butchery With Bryan


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Yesterday, I had the privilege of going behind the counter of Provisions in Fort Greene to photograph some butchery in action. Bryan has shown up here before in his experiments, curing lamb and trying to bring kid goat to the masses. I stop in from time to time just to see what he's been working on.

The other day, I asked if I could come in one day when he was taking something apart and he was awesome enough to allow me to watching dismantle a whole beef leg. It was quite impressive to see.

I'm generally working on a photo project about people working with food, particularly meat. I have no idea where I'm going with it, but this shoot should help me develop it further.

To see the photos, in all their gory details, see the set on Flickr.

Markets: Garlic Scapes

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I discovered garlic scapes a few weeks ago at the farmers market. I had read the name before but had no idea what they were or what to do with them. That's generally enough to inspire me to try something out, but I was particularly interested because of its intriguing shape.

I've heard that a great way to prepare them is to grill or broil them, but so far I've only sauteed them. To date, I've tossed them in with noodles and sausage and Tammi stir-fried them the other night.

We have a few more in the house from our CSA haul, so I might find something else interesting to do with them tonight...

June 9, 2009

Opening: Saraghina

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Saraghina, a new artisanal pizzeria opened up tonight in Bed-Stuy.

We had heard the rumors for months. I didn't know when. I didn't know where. But some sort of sit-down pizza restaurant was opening in Bed-Stuy eventually. Sadly, in this neighborhood, eventually can stretch into years.

I was pretty excited when I finally found details on Grub Street about Saraghina. Most important among them was that they would be slinging pies in the 'hood within a week.

Yesterday, we stopped in to talk a look. What we found was the beginning of a friends and family opening party and a chef ecstatic to show off his new place.

We didn't make the opening but hope to get out there this weekend.

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May 28, 2009

Habana Outpost: Summer Time is Here

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I've posted about The Outpost's re-opening every year since I've been blogging. This year, I'm behind the times. They opened up with a street festival as usual that included a performance by KRS-One (that I missed by minutes).

On Memorial Day, Tammi and I had our first Cuban sandwiches of the year and spent a couple hours relaxing over food, drink, and beats provided by DJ Juice E.

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This year there were a few subtle decor changes here and there, but other than that, it was still the Habana Outpost we've come to know and love. The place is a lot more crowded these days than it was those many years ago when they first opened but it's still a good time.

May 26, 2009

Seaport Market: Attempt #1

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When I read about the new market opening up in the old Fulton Fish Market stalls every weekend this summer, I excited. Visions of weekly versions of the New Amsterdam Market danced in my head.

Saturday morning, Tammi and I toiled in the garden for a few hours before heading into Manhattan. The Seaport was to be our first stop. Sadly, this is as far as we got. I couldn't bring myself to wade through the ridiculous crowd of tourists to get to what I'd been warned by Eric was a fairly underwhelming display.

Some time this summer I do want to check out this market as well as the new Water Taxi Beach, so stay tuned...

May 20, 2009

Food Finds: Ackee

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Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica.
The flesh of the fruit is thick and reminds me of a firmer scrambled egg. It's typically served sauteed with cod, called saltfish in the 'old country,' along with onions and peppers.

I never had a lot of it when I was growing up, but these days I associate it with visits to see the family over the holidays.

One of these days, I'll spend some time cooking my ancestral foods and maybe I'll give this a try.

May 18, 2009

Butchery: The Halal Market

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When I want to buy a leg of lamb for a party, I typically go to one of the halal markets down on Atlantic Avenue. I prefer it mostly for the ephemeral reason that it just seems a little more authentic. But I also like it because it's not nearly as expensive as the shrink-wrapped New Zealand lamb that I find in my local Foodtown. And it's fresher too.

It doesn't hurt that the place I usually go to is right next to The Brazen Head. Coincidentally, of course.

It's also just down the block from Sahadi's, which is one of the best spice markets in the city. That's a good thing too, as this market is always a little barren. There's a row of legs on display like this and shoulders and other cuts in the walk-in in the back. Besides that, there are boxes of grains and seasonings, but otherwise it's an empty space.

Halal Meat Market
232 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn,
(718) 625-2781

May 16, 2009

Candied Bacon = Glorious

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Last weekend Tammi and I took my mom out for brunch at The General Greene. I have nothing new to say since our last visit except this: Candied Bacon is Glorious.

I don't know what they 'candy' it with, but it's not a hard glaze, as I imagined when I encouraged my sister to order it. Instead it is just like regular, thick, juicy, meaty, thick-sliced, wonderful bacon, but it's got a honey-like coating across it.

May 15, 2009

Finally! Provisions' Lamb Bacon

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After many failed attempts, I finally got my hands on this slab of lamb bacon from Provisions. Even better, they are now curing more on a regular basis so getting another batch won't take nearly so long.

First observation: As you can see here, it's very fatty. There's more meat in there that the sliver visible in this picture, but the fat is prominent.

My first experiment was to cut strips and wrap them in dates. I love bacon wrapped dates and I figured the combination of North African/Middle Eastern ingredients would go together well.

This wasn't as successful as I'd have liked. As my first try cooking the bacon, I realized afterward that I had no idea how crispy the bacon cooked on its own. When I cooked it more lightly, it was a little too gummy and was difficult to cut through with your teeth. When I left it to cook longer, it crisped up too much and had a burnt, gamy flavor that wasn't so great.

There is probably a perfect medium in there somewhere, but I didn't want to waste my entire slab trying this out, so I shelved that idea.


My second, more successful idea after the jump...

Continue reading "Finally! Provisions' Lamb Bacon" »

May 14, 2009

Butchery: Appleman Takes Rising Star Award At The Beards

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This is a tenuous link to the butchery thread, but I wanted an excuse to use this photo. Nate Appleman, one of the faces of the Butchery trend on the west coast received the Rising Star Chef at last week's 2009 James Beard Awards. I've been a fan of Appleman ever since taking his class at Astor and trying his food at A16.

May 12, 2009

Gardening Time

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With the spring weather finally becoming bearable, Tammi and I have finally taken on taming our backyard. She's got various flowers that she wants to plant and I've been eying veggies and herbs, like this basil plant I caught at the farmers market last weekend. So far, I've planted oregano, lemon thyme, rosemary and a selection of various hot peppers.

In years past, I gardened heavily. My old apartment had full sun and my was garden full of tomatoes, peppers, squash, and herbs galore. I've got some feeling around to do to figure out what will work out in this yard, which is much more heavily shaded.

May 5, 2009

Lunch: Loreley

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After having the katsu curry at Go Go, I was thinking about the German roots of what's essentially Japanese shnitzel. The next day, I ended up on the Lower East Side and I took the opportunity to examine the source materials at Loreley, a German restaurant and beergarden.

Loreley is one of my new favorite places to go in the afternoon in LES. I hear the scene is godawful after work, but before that, it's a quiet, uncrowded spot to enjoy some sausage, shnitzel or strudel.

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It's also a great spot to sample some great German beers that you don't often come across. The focus at Loreley is on the Koln region, its food and its fine light bodied beer, kolsh. More like a traditional pilsner than anything we fine in the US, kolsh is light and sweet, but with a bite of hops that provides a zen-like balance.

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Loreley Restaurant & Biergarten
7 Rivington Street New York, NY 10002
Lower East Side
Between Bowery and Chrystie Street
phone 212 253 7077

Citifield Eats

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After reading about all the good food that was to reside in CitiField, the new Mets stadium, I knew I was much more interested in going to a Mets game for the food than the baseball. I'm no sports fan one way or the other, but The Mets, along with the Knicks and the Rangers seem to exist solely to prove that having a big budget and a large market does not mean you won't lose more often than you win.

Last week, Tammi and I joined a couple friends to see The Mets lose and, more importantly, to find a shorter line for Shake Shack than I can find in Manhattan. It was a success on both counts.

Tammi and I had single shack burgers, pulled pork sandwiches, and an order of fries from the frites place. Given the ridiculous lines at Shake Shack, I haven't had one of their burgers since last year. Their line at Citifield was the longest there, but still about a quarter of the size of the one in Madison Square Park. The burger was the same small, juicy patty with crisp veggies on a chewy potato roll that I know and love.

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What was more surprising was that there was no line to speak of at the Blue Smoke booth. The sandwich was good, the meat had a tender flakiness to it with the tangy seasoning of the Blue Smoke rub embedded within. It was slightly dry though and could have used a spare drop or two of barbecue sauce.

The upside of the visit was that we got to eat well, but as a first foray, it only covered familiar territory. I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to go again to sample the food at El Verano Taqueria, Catch of the Day by Esca's Dave Pasternack and Mama's of Corona, for some local flavor. On future visits, my time may be better spent exploring the other food options than watching the game.

May 4, 2009

Lunch: Go Go Curry

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I love Go Go Curry. It's the perfect convergence of quirky Japanese culture and yummy Japanese curry.

Japanese curry is an interesting thing. It's certainly not like the Jamaican curry I grew up on. It's thick and muddy, almost like a chili, spicy and full bodied.

Go Go specializes in serving this curry gravy over plates of rice and then adding toppings that are the centerpiece of the meal. Chicken, pork, shrimp, and any number of other options including boiled eggs or natto, fermented soybeans are offered.

I chose katsu, pork cutlets which are pounded thin then breaded and fried, a preparation borrowed from the Germans, who call it schnitzel. The difference is the sweet sauce that accompanies katsu, here drizzled on top of the pork. It's awesome because there's so much going on here: The flavors of the sweet, the spicy and the porky compete with the textures of the crunchy breading, the tender meat and the slight mush of curry sodden rice.

Then there's the quirk. The entire theme of the restaurant revolves around Hideki Matsui of the New York Yankees, formerly of the Yamiuri Giants. The name Go Go is Japanese for 55, Matsui's number. Any day after he hits a home run, anyone who comes in gets a free topping.

I have no idea what baseball and curry have to do with one another, but as I've seen in Tokyo, it's more than just a game.

For a peek at all of the options, here's the awesome plastic display in the window:
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May 2, 2009

Brunch: The General Greene

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Tammi and I finally went to The General Greene last weekend, a few months after the opening hoopla died down. Sunday the temperature broke 90 degrees, which suited me just fine after a soggy and cold April. Our friend Abbey met up with us there and we lingered for a good couple hours over drinks and brunch in the shade.

I had the Chicken Confit Skillet, above, which was excellent. Served in the cute cast iron skillet that it's cooked in, it was brunchy due to the three eggs dropped on top and cooked into a sort of casserole along with some spinach. It's an awesome variation on the cocotte concept that I've been fascinated by for some time.

The chicken was moist and tender and may have inspired me to start up a couple confit projects at home. The eggs were cooked through and enveloped the other components of the dish. I'm partial to softer yolks, so if I were to try this, I might leave it in the oven/broiler for a minute or two less. And the sprinkling of a few crystals of sea salt brought it all together.

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In an interesting bit of turnabout, Tammi chose the less breakfasty dish of a grilled sandwich, which would usually have been my choice. It looked very good, but it was late in the day and I hadn't eaten a bite of anything all day. I needed something more substantial.

The food and service were wonderful and now that the crowd seems more reasonable than early reports suggested, I am all about going back. Interestingly, I find myself unsure of which meal I want to return for first, dinner or brunch. The brunch menu stocked a number of other tasty looking skillets and sandwiches that looks truly inspired.

The General Greene
229 Dekalb Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11205
(718) 222-1510‎

May 1, 2009

Lunch: Rafiqi's

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A couple weeks ago, when the weather first improved from the dreary rain mess of April, the hordes of office workers, myself included, flocked outdoors. Unfortunately, we all got in each other's way. The line for my usual curry cart was jammed.

I wandered around a bit looking for alternative curry suppliers and found Rafiqi's on Park and 32nd Street. I've often heard about the wonders of Rafiqi's, a chain of curry carts around the city which has blog reviews posted on the side of the cart.

The first noticeable difference was how quickly the line went. With 3-4 guys in the cart, they were churning out meals like a machine. Where I'd usually have to wait 15 minutes for my regular spot, I was in and out of line in 5 minutes.

The lamb, which had already been charred and was piled up on the skillet, was excellent. I found the chicken lacking, mostly because it wasn't actually curried. It was fine, certainly juicy, but it didn't hit the curry spot I was really looking for.

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Rafiqi's also offers a much bigger array toppings and additions than I've ever seen before at a curry cart. There was corn and cilantro and olives among other things. I didn't try too much this time around, but I could see myself giving Rafiqi's another go if old E&G Pyramid is a bit too overloaded.

Rafiqi's
Park Avenue South & 32nd Street

Butchery: Jeffrey's Meat Market

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If there's anyone on board with the whole 'Butcher as Rockstar' meme that I've been writing about, it's Jeffrey Ruhalter, proprietor of Jeffrey's Meat Market in the Essex Street Market. He's a self-described "RFB," Real Fucking Butcher, and a fourth generation one at that.

Passing by his shop, you're going to know who he is immediately. Every surface that is not displaying meat or prices is dedicated to Jeffrey: His name is in neon lights and his image reproduced a dozen times over in portraits and caricatures.

The only time I've actually shopped at Jeffrey's, I was a little put off by his outsized personality. I ordered a couple pounds of beef cut up in chunks. He immediately inquired further about what I wanted to use it for. When I said chili, he insisted that the meat must be ground. He'd use a course die, so the pieces would be big and thick. This is when I got the "RFB" spiel and the guarantee that it would be better his way.

I can't argue with results. The chili came out very well and the meat was just right.

I've recently read that Jeffrey has jumped on the butchering class bandwagon, which I can totally see. His classes go beyond the pig and lamb that Mylan has done at Brooklyn Kitchen and also has a class all about fowl, including game birds.

Jeffrey's Meat Market
Essex Street Market
120 Essex Street (at Delancey Street)
New York, NY 10002


April 28, 2009

Taco Trucks: Can You Hear Me Now? The Oreja Taco Can.

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I've already mentioned my fondness for the taco truck. What's even better are the trucks that have the crazy off cuts that you don't find often. In this case, it's the truck in front of the basketball courts at West 4th Street.

That's where I bought this exotic delight topped with orejas, pig ears. I've been all about cartilage lately. The soft crunch in every bite is amazingly satisfying. On top of that, ears have unctuous, lip-smacking skin wrapped around which adds another layer of texture to the experience.

It's not for everyone, but I certainly love it.

April 27, 2009

Kyochon Still Under Construction

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In the last week, Midtown Lunch reported the news that the KoreaTown announced Kyochon will not be opening for another couple months.

Today I peeked in the door and what I saw pretty much confirms that. Here are a few pics of the demolition still in progress:

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April 26, 2009

DC: Ben's Chili Bowl

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Everyone's talking about Ben's Chili Bowl these days. It's been months since the blogs were abuzz about the where to go in DC during the pre-inaugural festivities.

Ben's, a fixture on the U Street strip that used to be called the Black Broadway, received particular attention after then President-Elect Obama stopping in to ask "What's a Half-Smoke?"

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This is a Half-smoke, topped with everything, including the eponymous chili. It's a damn good dog. Don't let the shop's name fool you, the chili is peripheral, the Half-Smoke is king. The meat is spicy and flavorful and firm enough to give just the right amount of resistance to the bite.

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The chili complements it extraordinarily well, but strictly in a supporting role. It's a condiment, I probably wouldn't eat it on it's own any more than I would have a bowl of mustard or ketchup. It's more a thick gravy that soaks into every pore and crevice of the bun extending the flavor of meat to depths unimaginable.

I'm salivating just thinking of it.

April 24, 2009

DC: Pide at Rosemary's Thyme

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This is a Pide (pronounced pee-day). I had it for brunch at Rosemary's Thyme not far from our hotel in Dupont Circle.

Pide is a type of Turkish pizza, a flatbread with a meaty topping. This one was topped with Sujuk, Turkish sausage on one half, Pastirma, cured beef strips on the other and cheese with veggies all around. Since it was brunch, they threw an egg on top. Based on the meal alone, I'd be raving about the place, but the experience was dampened by poor service.

No one was rude, but everything was very slow. I don't know that there was a single time that the waiter came by without apologizing for the tardiness of one thing or another. Looking around online, it seems that this is a common experience, which is unfortunate. The space itself is pretty nice, with a huge indoor space taking up what seems like 3 storefronts and an outdoor deck that stretches across all of them.

This dish was really great- almost good enough to make me want to return. But given the experience, I'm more likely look for a Turkish place with better service.

April 23, 2009

DC: The French Chef's Kitchen

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Despite our best intentions, we only managed to check out one Smithsonian museum in The Mall, The American History branch. I was annoyed that none of the old artifacts I remember like Fonzy's jacket, Archie Bunker's chair and Indiana Jones' hat were on display, but I was psyched to find one thing that I had no idea was there: Julia Child's kitchen.

It was really cool to see and only slightly tainted by some women describing Julia Child to her kid as "sort of like Rachel Ray." Horrifying.

April 13, 2009

CT Travel: Slim Food Options at Union Station

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This food disaster brought to you by S'barro. Yeh, S'barro, the most wretched chain of 'pizza' slingers in the northeast. Yet, when I'm heading home from Connecticut, it's the best of some truly foul options available at Union Station in New Haven. What irritates me about this is that I've spent enough time in New Haven to know at least a couple places to get a good bite, but none of it is convenient to the train station.

When I was in school, I passed through this station semi-regularly and loved the D'Angelo's steak shop that served what was my favorite steak and cheese sandwich until I finally visited Philadelphia.

Now, there's a Dunkin Donuts, whose doughnuts are even chalkier and staler by the afternoon than they are in the morning. And there's Subway, which produces an odor that nauseates me half a block away.

And then there's S'barro, amazingly the lesser evil.

April 7, 2009

NC: Tienda Vaquita

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Across the small parking space of Taqueria La Vaquita, sits a Mexican marketplace that reminded my aunt of the little shops in the country back in Jamaica.

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She and I went in looking for dried chipotle peppers, above, which she had been looking for for some time. While there, though, we found a variety of other peppers along with jamaica (sorrel) and tamarind, which brought back more memories.

To my surprise, I found powdered lime, an ingredient called for in a recipe for Posole in a Mexican cookbook I got a couple years ago. Despite concerns of being detained by the TSA or the DEA, I managed to get this home without incident.

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April 6, 2009

Butchery: Sagal Meat Market

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I first noticed Sagal on Broadway in Bushwick while driving through the area heading to Williamsburg. One of my friends saw it first: The giant sign in Spanish that read, "Order Your Lechon for the Holidays!" This was in November, a few weeks before the wedding, but it prompted him to ask if I was roasting another pig for the holiday party. A month later, I was in the store picking up my piglet, the lovely specimen you see here.

Sagal is not like the other butcher shops that have been highlighted of late. It's old school. It's not hipsterfied, and not looking to do interesting shit. There's no intellectual curiosity involved in making the cuts. There's no playing with food.

I love playing with food, but I really appreciate the straight ahead approach of an old-style shop that's got all the "old country" cuts. I'm a bit of an oddity there. In my visits, I'm usually the youngest customer in the shop, standing in line behind a row of older women, picking up meat to cook the way they've been cooking it for generations. When I ordered the suckling pig on my first visit, one of the butchers dubbed me "Señor Lechon" presuming I wouldn't understand him. I laughed and another butcher nudged him.

One major advantage over the hip butcher shops is that Sagal has some real bargains, including a dozen varieties of family packs, starting at $30 going up to $100, which can get you a collection of chickens, chops, steaks and guts totaling over 40 pounds.

I recently discovered that a new Sagal is in Bed-Stuy, on Fulton, near Nostrand Avenue. I checked it out this past weekend and will be posting about that pretty soon.

April 5, 2009

NC: Taqueria Vaquita

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Possibly the best meal we had in North Carolina was at Taqueria Vaquita or Taqueria Cow, so known for the giant cow statue that has loomed over the small structure since it was a dairy market way back when.

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Not long after brunch, we stopped in for a taco or two as a snack, just to try them out. The plan was to swing by for a few minutes and then be on our way. We ended up sitting at a picnic table snacking and hanging out with some of my aunt's friends for a couple hours

Tammi and I started out with Tacos al Pastor, Lengua and Chorizo, above. Before we were done, I was already eying the menu.

My aunt, the vegetarian only had a quesadilla without any filling. This confused the counter guy, because who would pass up the wonderful delights that could be on a quesadilla. All the same, she loved it so much that she requested a stack of their homemade corn tortillas, served up hot off the griddle. We all picked at them between rounds of tacos.

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Tammi and I imbibed sweet Tamarind juice, going through 3 of them over the course of the afternoon. My aunt and her friend Tanya found a familiar flavor from the islands to quench their thirst. Jamaica, known as Sorrel to most West Indians is a drink made from dried red flowers that are a holiday staple in my family.

It may not have been the most historically 'authentic' meal to have in the South, but it was definitely the best. My aunt may regret taking me there as it will definitely be a required stop on future trips.

Taqueria Vaquita
2700 Chapel Hill Road,
Durham, NC 27707

April 1, 2009

Motorino

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Motorino is not like the myriad brick oven pizza spots around New York. Instead of the crisp, thin-crusted delights I've known and loved for years, they serve up what I've since heard described as West Coast-style Pizza. The voluptuous crust bulges with a body that is light and fluffy. The texture is more like Indian Naan than any Pizza crust to be found in New York.

My first Motorino pizza was the Sopressata Picante. It was amazing. Besides the wonderful crust, the chili-tomato sauce was a shock, more like a moderately spicy salsa than any typical pizza sauce. The meat was cut into small, chewy wedges instead of the usual thin slices. With each bite, I felt as well as tasted the pieces of spiced charcuterie.

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If I had any complaint, it was the structural integrity of the slice. With such a soft crust, it tended to flop down beneath the meat and sauce, spilling its contents before making it to my mouth. I'd advise folding the slice to get around this.

On my second visit, I went with a less meaty option, the Brussels Sprouts & Speck:

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The leaves of the sprouts blistered and charred along with patches of crust and the thin edges of the speck. Prominent in the layers of flavors was the pungent grated parmesan that laid in the crevices throughout the pizza.

The biggest issue with Motorino is that they still lack a liquor license, so you'll have to wash down your meal with a tangy Italian orange soda. Up until a week or two ago, they were BYOB, but the idiots at the State Liquor Authority have begun cracking down, despite the fact that it's their needless bureaucracy that's stopping them from selling their own booze.

Either way, I'll be back, but one day I hope to have a nice glass of wine with it.

NC: Free Range Pork

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As penance for my supermarket envy, I insisted that we go to the Farmers Market first thing Saturday morning. I was well-rewarded.

I had read about the pork available at the market in Carrboro, outside of Chapel Hill particularly of the Ossabaw heritage breed, so that's what I was seeking out.

There were a number of stalls selling meat, many of which offered pork, but this was the only one that had fatback on sale. And at $1 a pound it was already a bargain.

After talking to the seller, above, I walked around some more, checking out the other vendors and considering how much pork I could fit in my carry on. When I came back around, I looked at how much he had and what sizes were available. Before I could decide on how much to buy, he offered the entire batch for $3. I walked away with 7.3 pounds of fatback...

I crammed it in my bag and got it home this morning without incident. Before the week's over, it'll be turned into lovely liquid gold, ready for frying or a glorious batch of pork confit...

March 31, 2009

NC: Mama Dip's

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There are a great many Carolinians who will be offended by this, so I'll get this out of the way first, our dinner at Mama Dip's was not very good. Easily the worst meal of the weekend. We raced over there Sunday night, to get there before their 9pm(!) closing time.

The choice of restaurant was clear because how could we go to the south and not have some southern food? Turns out that we could have gotten far better options here in NYC. Tammi had the veggie plate which included overcooked Lima Beans and bland cornbread. My dish of Fried Chicken and BBQ Pork Ribs (which wasn't the pulled pork I actually ordered, but I let that go) were similarly middling. The ribs were overdone to the point of mushiness and the sauce was sweet without any of the tang or spice or smoke that makes a good barbecue sauce. The chicken didn't have nearly the crispiness they should have had and the mac n cheese was gritty and unpleasant. Of all people, my aunt, who tends toward the pickier side was happiest with her meal, but she lives there and knew that the catfish was exactly what she wanted.

Sad, sad, that we didn't get any great bbq or fried chicken, but I'm not complaining. The rest of the food we had this weekend was wonderful, so, one iffy meal is fine.

March 28, 2009

Markets: The Suburban Supermarket

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I could never live in the suburbs for any number of reasons beginning with the fact that I don't drive, an essential skill in any place outside a real city. Beyond that, the suburban aesthetic and the concept of the subdivision offend me to my quite citified core.

But, there is one thing that I find attractive about the world outside of The Big City: the supermarkets like this one we visited near Chapel Hill while visiting my aunt.

They are gigantic. And Clean. And full of so many wonderful things that I temporarily lose my sympathy for local small businesses and pine away at the many, many options on hand.

The airplane hanger-sized space is full of so much wonderful stuff that I find myself wandering through the aisles wistfully, raising my arms to full length and appreciating all the space. It's like a different world.

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Another wonderful feature of the supermarkets outside of New York is that they stock wine, something that is still unavailable at home. Racks and racks of bottles of medium to low-priced wines are on sale in the same place you get the rest of your groceries.

The selection does not include the highest end bottles, but it has more than enough wonderful everyday bottles.

Given space and legal concerns, I don't expect to see a place like this in NYC-proper for some time, but I can dream. . . .

March 27, 2009

HB Burger

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When I first heard about HB Burger, I was curious. The gimmick is that the burger costs $9, which is relatively cheap for a sit-down burger. The other night I decided to check it out.

Now, unlike a lot of others, I don't really have a huge issue with Heartland Brewery, the local tourist trap brewery with locations in pretty much every terrible place locals try to avoid. Working across the street from one of said attractions, I sometimes find it the lesser of many evils and partake. The beer brewed by The Greenpoint Brewery, the folks who also make Kelso, is pretty good, if not spectacular.

With those caveats, I went into HB Burger without particularly high expectations. Yet I still managed to find myself surprisingly disappointed. The issue wasn't with the quality of the meat or the bread or how well the burger was done. I actually enjoyed it quite a bit. My issue from the start was with the size. The burger was just too small to satisfy, but not nearly small enough to get a double or two like one would at Five Guys or In n Out Burger or Burger Joint or even White Castle.

Clearly, the point of this exercise is to encourage the purchase of many toppings or a pile of sides, but I wouldn't give in. So, I left wanting more.

March 26, 2009

Late Night: The Shwarma

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Showing a bare modicum of discretion, I'm going to call this feature 'Late Night.' This category could very reasonably be called 'Drunk Food,' given that while always good, most of the dishes I expect to discuss are 100 times better after an evening of revelry. I've already covered White Castle and the Taco Truck (as well as other tacos),

The Shwarma, also known as the Doner Kebab to the Turks and sharing more similarities than differences with the Greek Gyro is an internationally recognized celebrity in the world of late night fare. In Mexico, they righteously substitute pork for lamb in the al pastor taco. In Paris, we passed a dozen spits roasting layer upon layer of lamb around the corner from the music row where we stayed.

The massive structure of meat is constructed with horizontal columns of fat which melt down, basting all the meat below. But, I expect I'm not telling you anything new. You've either seen these 'meat logs' around town in one way or the other and either fled in disgust or ran gleefully towards it.

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This particular Shwarma was served up from my go to place on MacDougal near Bleeker in The Village, Yatagan. It's not nearly the only one in the neighborhood. And, while I love it, it's not the best I've ever had, it now has a long-standing sentimental value just for being associated with so many of the late nights I've had through the years.


Yatagan Kebab House
104 MacDougal Street
Greenwich Village

March 25, 2009

NC Trip: Food Recs

We're just a couple days away from heading to North Carolina, so I'm looking forward to warm weather, hopefully rain-free, and some nice downtime. Here's a note my Aunt forwarded to me from a friend with more recommendations on where to eat. . . .

Hey Heather,

I've been brainstorming dinner places (you'll probably want to make a reservation for a Saturday night).

DINNER
I love Piedmont. It's my default restaurant for a good meal, good cocktails in downtown Durham.


Revolution is the newest on the scene. I haven't been, but I've heard good things from those who have. My coworker Anna who is self-appointed restaurant critic likes it a lot.


Na Na's isn't cheap and isn't the newest or funkiest, but I think they have some of the best food and service around.


Rue Cler is a good standby, if you're feeling Frenchy. Their mussels w/fries is a winner. And again, a downtown Durham restaurant, which I like.
http://www.ruecler-durham.com/

LUNCH
If y'all decide to just do lunch, I would suggest Toast, on Main St. Paninis and a great, simple salad.


PIedmont also has a great lunch.

As does Watts Grocery. They annoy me for dinner, but damn they make a good hamburger.


And of course, the ubiquitous, basic taquerias are fabulous. I'm a big fan of the mole enchiladas at Taco Cow. Actually called Taqueria La Vaquita.


DESSERT
If you decided to skip the meal altogether and go straight to drinks and dessert, I'd suggest Magnolia Grill. It's the original Durham great restaurant and has been written up mazillions of times. I've had a fantastic dinner there and a so-so dinner there. But the desserts are otherwordly.

xo,
A

Curing: Pancetta

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Two weeks ago, I picked up a pack of Pork Belly from HMart without knowing what I was going to do with it. I had planned on cooking it, but then realized that my schedule was suddenly packed. Instead of throwing it in the freezer and forgetting about it, I decided it was time for another cure. After the success of the guanciale, I wanted something sort of similar. Like the guanciale, pancetta has some of the same seasonings, cures for about a week and hangs and ages for another week.

To see how I turned that into this:
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follow the jump...

Continue reading "Curing: Pancetta" »

Lunch: Tina's Cuban Pork

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I've been eating at Tina's since it opened as Sophie's before the schism. Since the beginning, the pernil or slow roasted pork has been central to my meals there. I know, it's shocking. I used to get the Cuban, but they pre-make them, which just doesn't seem quite as fresh, although it's clearly quicker during the lunch rush. So I just go to a pernil sandwich with whichever combination of toppings that strike my fancy on any given day, these generally include cheese and raw or sauteed onions.

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Occasionally, I'll want something more substantial and have a whole meal, like this Pernil with rice and beans. This particular order defeated me, leaving me stuffed with quite a bit left over.

The pork is juicy and flavorful. Though it lacks the citrus flavor you get at Cafe Habana/Habana Outpost, given that neither of them are available in midtown, I'll take what I can get.

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Much more importantly is a recent addition to the offerings that I just discovered this on my last visitat Tina's: chicharrones. Chunks of crisp fried pork skin are available in large trays on the counter at Tina's. Ask for some and you'll get a bag and the opportunity to take as many chicharrones as you can fit. I crushed them up and sprinkled them over my meal, adding the random crunch to each bite. Glorious.

I'm not sure if Tina's is offering the 'Pernil with a Twist' Midtown Lunch special, but I'm much more interested in a 'Pernil with a Crunch' option.

March 24, 2009

Lunch in the Hood: Peaches

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Last week, I had lunch at Peaches for the first time. I was inspired after a post I saw on TONY's Feed Blog that mentioned a couple sandwich specials on the lunch menu that they called some of the best in the city. This one is among them: A Black Angus Meatloaf sandwich. Served on a roll with a pile of goopy melted cheese and caramelized onions, it's fantastic.

I hope that this stays on the menu. They usually stock a Turkey Meatloaf sandwich, that my eyes gloss over just out of principle. This sandwich was good enough to motivate me to keep coming back. Hopefully when I do, it'll still be there.

March 23, 2009

Lunch: Little Italy Pizza

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This is the Marinara Mozzarella Pizza from Little Italy Pizza a block away from my job. It's no bargain at $3.50 a slice, but it's one of my favorite slices in New York, so I end up here almost every week.

Constructed counter-intuitively with thick slices of cheese directly on top of the crust then topped with dollops of sauce which leave thick puddles of sweet tomato and shredded basil on every slice.

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For all the wonders of the topping, the crust adds a dimension lacking in most regular slices: The inner layer is soft and chewy, complementing the slight resistance in each bite of the firm cheese. By contrast, the bottom layer is crisp and slightly charred, dotted with sprinkles of breadcrumbs all along it.

The sign says Little Italy Pizza, but it doesn't appear to be at all related to the much better known Little Italy on Vanderbuilt near GCT. Looking it up on Google Maps, the closest hit I get is "Big George Pizza," with an address on the corner, 2 doors down from the actual space. Whatever the pedigree, they must be doing something right given the recent expansion into the tobacco shop next door. That's a good thing

Little Italy Pizza
33rd Street between 5th and Madison.

March 20, 2009

Spring in Midtown

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Despite the snowfall this morning, today is the first day of Spring. Wednesday we got a preview of the season with highs around 60. My fellow Midtown denizens and I rushed out and took advantage of the opportunity to spend some time in the sun for lunch.

That evening, Tammi and I grabbed a round at Mé bar, which was full about 15 minutes after this shot was taken.

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Of couse, the next day we got rained on, a preview of April showers no doubt. Regardless, we'll ake what we can get.

March 17, 2009

Butchery: Italy's Finest

Here's another example of the butcher in the spotlight: The new food blog by the Atlantic did a post last week on a man they call "Italy's Most Famous Butcher," Dario Cecchini of Chianti.

Tammi and I have both been wanting to go to Italy for years, and may go this fall. Now I have one more must-see to add to the list.

March 16, 2009

Markets: HMart

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HMart is so ridiculously convenient to my office that I would probably love it just for being there even if it wasn't such an excellent source for otherwise obscure or hard to find ingredients.

Right in the middle of the KTown strip, stopping there on the way home takes me all of a block out of my way.

Marbled Short Ribs

Add to that the fact that I can get beef short ribs, pork belly, udon noodles and a vast array of Asian spices and condiments, and I'm amazed I'm not there every day.

H Mart NYC
25 W 32nd St # 1
New York, NY 10001
(212) 695-3283

Lunch: The Curry Cart

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There are few things I miss from my days of working in and around Times Square, but the street food definitely ranks up there. Unlike most of Midtown, the Murray Hill/Herald Square/Empire State Building area has a pathetically light Street Food population. When I read Midtown Lunch's pieces on carts and trucks serving all manner of food from Middle Eastern to Jamaican to Korean, I pine for Midtown North in a way I never really thought possible. Not that being below 23rd Street wouldn't be vastly better in all regards, but it's relative.

Besides a couple hot dog carts with pretzels and shish kababs, this cart, on the corner of 32nd and 5th Avenue is the only consistently available vendor of street meat. It's sad. But he's good and always has a decent crowd, so I'm sure he's not going anywhere any time soon. Until I stood there last week taking pictures while I waited in line, I had never noticed a name on the cart. Apparently it's E&G Pyramid Halal Cart.

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This is my usual: Chicken curry and lamb on yellow rice, topped with hot sauce and white sauce. Love it.

On the side he throws in some iceberg and a couple tomato chunks along with some sauteed cabbage, which is pretty tasty. But the main event is the meat. The chicken is season with a great curry mixture that I've tried and failed to replicate at home. It's spicy, but not over the top. The lamb is pre-cooked gyro meat, but he sears it on the griddle until it's got a great crispy char on the outside that adds depth to the blend of flavors and textures.

When I want something smaller, I just have the chicken wrapped on a pita. The mixtures of the sauces and the curry soak into the thick walls of the pita and become a medium for the combined flavors.

So, while I wish there was a bigger variety of street food in the area, at least part of that desire is so that I'd have a shorter wait to come back to this one.

March 15, 2009

Guanciale

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I read a blog post the other day claiming that Cheek may be the new Belly. I could see that. It's fatty and streaked with lovely, tender meat. And it cures wonderfully.

This lovely piece of porky goodness is pork cheek I picked up at Marlowe & Daughters. Following Ruhlman's recipe, I cured it for a few days and then let it hang in the basement wrapped in cheese cloth for a few weeks. When it came out, it looked like this:

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Sliced thin and sauteed like bacon, it's a little fattier than I want. So I thought about using it as a bacon substitute for recipes that call for slab bacon or pancetta.

While chatting with Eric the other day he suggested using it in a pasta sauce. After the jump, my notes on putting it together.

Continue reading "Guanciale" »

March 13, 2009

NC: Trip Planning


Tammi and I are heading down to Chapel Hill later this month to see my aunt for her birthday. Of course, I'm already looking into my food options. There are quite a few, Bon Appetit called the area "America's Foodiest Small Town" last year. My aunt, a vegetarian teetotaler has spent the last couple of weeks trying to think like me, scoping out local restaurants and wine bars. We've been discussing the options in Chapel Hill and in general Triangle area.

So far, here's the list of places we might try:

Lantern, a pan-Asian place that I read about in Gourmet a while back.

Provence, a French restaurant that my aunt has said we have to try.

Glass Half Full, a wine bar with small plates.

The Carborro farmers market, where I've read meat from Ossabaw breed Pigs are sold. I've been curious for a while about what other heritage breeds taste like, so I may need to get something to take home.

There's another nice little wine bar we went to on our last visit that I'd be happy to visit again and Elaine's on Franklin, which we visited last time I was there.

Of course, we'll have some southern food while we're there. Tammi is particularly fond of grits, and I'm sure I'll track down some fried chicken or pulled pork. We'll probably hit Mama Dip's for brunch.

I'm sure we'll do something else besides eating. We may even actually go to Durham, which I still haven't seen, but I'm not too worried about that right now. If anyone has suggestions for food or non-food related activities in the area, let me know.

March 12, 2009

Finding the Cure

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This is a pork jowl, cured and aged to become guanciale. It's one of the many meats I've cured in the last several months. I keep mentioning all the curing and aging of meat I've been up to lately in passing without going into nearly enough detail. My apologies.

A little over a year ago, Eric bought me what may be my most interesting cookbook ever: Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman. I have to admit that at first I was a little put off by the necessity of special ingredients to avoid botulism, but ultimately the arcana required appeals to my particular strain of geek. Even before I was willing or able to make anything in the book, the theory of the concepts behind it had me reading it like a novel.

Once I finally got past my initial uneasiness, I made the following:

Guanciale
Pork Belly Confit
Pork Rillettes
Lardo
Bacon
Fatback
Pancetta

...and I've got a ham hanging until summer. We'll have to see how that one works out.

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This is a piece of cured belly just before I smoked it. Bacon and variations thereof have been the most common items I've made from Charcuterie. Of the bacons I've made, some were home smoked over hickory sawdust and lump charcoal, while others were soaked in a molasses mixture resulting in a sweet meat to accompany breakfast.

Others, like pancetta, salt pork and guanciale follow more of less the same directions, with adjustments in the cut of meat or the salts and spices used. They also tend to age longer, whether in the cure or not.

As I'm writing up more about the meat markets I've been going to, I've been neglecting where all that meat is going. I'll be putting a bit more effort into documenting this further, including an upcoming post on what I did with the guanciale that should be up in a couple days.

Butchery: Marlow & Daughter

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If any one person has brought Butchery the attention it deserves, it's Tom Mylan. He's certainly who got me interested in it. About a year ago, it was his class at Brooklyn Kitchen that fascinated me with the subject.

Since his classes began, he's been the face of local DIY butchery scene. Between his blogs and elsewhere his story is all over the internet and elsewhere, so I'm not going to tell it again. Suffice it to say that he knows his damn meat. I was psyched when I heard he was finally going to be selling his bloody wares to the public at Marlow & Daughters. If for no other reason than to be able to show up from time to time and talk meat and cool things to do with weird cuts.

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The shop is glorious. Where else are you going to find a cow's heart placed front and center on display and labeled, "Captain Beefheart?" I've never actually tried to cook or eat heart, but if I did - and wanted to feed a dozen people with it - I'd probably get it from here.

The first time I went, I got into a long discussion with Brett, another Marlowe butcher, about a confit I wanted to make. He was so excited about it that he tossed in a a pork tongue and tail to add to the pot.

Last month, I bought a deeply smoky link of andouille sausage that I used in chicken and rice. I'm told by Scott of the Shameless Carnivore that Tom uses the smokers at Char #4 on Smith Street to make these. Last I heard, Char's business has been so good that they haven't been able to spare the smoker space, so Tom's looking for an alternative.

I also bought a slab of fatback and a pork cheek that are hanging in my basement transforming into Lardo and Guanciale, respectively. More on that to come.

Going back to what I love about Provisions, the exploratory spirit of Marlowe & Daughters is as much at attraction as the meat itself.

As I mentioned before, the prices here can be prohibitive. The pork belly I cured to make bacon cost $12 a pound. There's no way I could afford to buy several pounds of this. But it's quality meat and totally worth it to splurge from time to time, depending on what you're doing. Hell, the conversation you can have with Tom or Brett can be worth the extra overhead.

Marlow & Daughters‎
95 Broadway
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 388-5700

March 11, 2009

Lunch: By Mandoo, Denied

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Weeks ago, I went to a dumpling party at Eric and Marni's. It reminded me that I had yet to partake in one particular treat in Koreatown, Mandoo, a dumpling and noodle house where the food is prepared fresh in the window for all to see. I've been passing it for some time, but always put off by the rather intimidating line that often stretches out the door.

Over and over since then, I have tried to pop in before the lunch rush, to no avail. I've avoided the option of calling in an order largely because it would require me to eat them at my desk, when I want to enjoy them uninterrupted by work-related nonsense. I hold onto it as my last ditch attempt. More to come...

March 10, 2009

Butcher: Coney Closure

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I try not to write posts that are just links to other things on the internet, but I'd be remiss in my Butchery-reporting duties if I didn't make note of the closure of Major Prime Meat Market out in Coney Island a week or so ago. I've never been, but reading about it, this is the sort of place that we need more of. Hopefully, the recent revival of the butchering arts will bring back more of these back to the neighborhoods of our cities.

Before they closed up, Gothamist interviewed Jimmy Prince about hanging up his cleavers.

March 9, 2009

Markets

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While working on 'Butchery' posts, I've been thinking about the various other places I rely on to buy ingredients that aren't strictly speaking butcher shops. So, expect a few posts from time to time about those shops as well in the near future.

March 6, 2009

Murder Burgers

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Tammi and I share the guiltiest of guilty pleasures: White Castle burgers. These usually end up as our late night gorge after an evening of imbibing. Much like the Taco Truck I exalted recently, a sack of 10 cheeseburgers between the two of us profoundly hits the spot at 1am on a Friday night.

We usually end up at the White Castle on Atlantic Avenue, on the border of Prospect Heights and Clinton Hill as we're heading home from the night's festivities. Usually we walk, but at least once we've had a cab stop there on the way home.

March 4, 2009

Paris: Robert et Louise

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Tragically, this piece of loveliness was not mine. I have to mention it anyway. It's the Ribeye steak for two, cooked on the open wood fireplace in the back of Robert et Louise, in the Marais.

I first read about the restaurant in Ruth Reichl's extended Editor's Note in last year's Paris issue of Gourmet. I immediately added it to my short list.

We passed by one night hoping for dinner, but walk-ins weren't available. The small space fills up pretty quickly, so you'll need to make a reservation a few days in advance.

When we got there for our reservation, the beautiful old tavern space was packed tightly from the entryway down to the kitchen. I stood next to the open kitchen watching the staff work as we waited for our table.

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My main was duck confit, while Tammi had a Beef Bourgignon. Our meal was wonderful, although even now the most memorable part was the steak we didn't have. I had a pair of sausages, a boudin noir and a boudin blanc that were grilled in the open hearth in the back wall of the restaurant.

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The spectacle of the fireplace drew our attention for most of the night. Hunks of meat grilling above, while firewood burned to charred embers below. Days later, Tammi and I were still smelling the wood smoke in our coats. I got hungry again every time.

March 3, 2009

Meatball Madness: Batali's Neopolitan

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I've put these meatballs off for last because it was my least favorite. I totally flubbed these.

In this recipe, from Mario Batali's Molto Italiano he calls for a filler of bread chunks soaked in water. The chunks I used were apparently too big and/or soaked for too little time, because they became much too prominent a part of each meatball.

In contrast to the breadcrumbs and semolina, which disintegrated under the meat juices, the pieces of bread never really came apart.

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These soggy bits of bread did not shred apart as much as I would have hoped, which meant that I ended up with giant chunks of bread in each meatball.

Eric tells me that a traditional recipe for veal meatballs similarly calls for chunks of bread, but has them soaked in milk and uses ricotta cheese to keep it all together. That sounds remarkably creamy and unctuous given the high collagen found in veal. I just wonder about it being flavorful enough. I suppose this is where you are sure to use the best quality ingredients and proper seasoning.

Another reason I think these meatballs weren't successful was that I stuck to beef and veal and left out pork due to the dietary restrictions of my diners that night. I suspect that the right amount of fatty pork would have improved this greatly. But then I think that about a lot of things...

Lunch: Golden City

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It's easy to forget Golden City is there. Between name changes, a move across the street last year, and an innocuous location in the middle of 33rd Street, it seems more like it's trying to elude attention than attract it.

Honestly, the Chinese food selection blends in with thousands of others across the city. And the buffet in the front has an anemic selection of offerings that I rarely give a second look.

What makes it worth remembering is the other cuisine. Behind Golden City's Chinese menu is an entirely different offering: Vietnamese food. Pho, Pork Chops, Summer Rolls, the whole shebang. Sadly, no Banh Mi sandwiches, but I make do with what I can get.

Before I discovered Pho 32 in Koreatown, this was where I went whenever I needed a hot bowl of soup on a crappy day. It's still a good backup if the crowds on 32nd Street are too much. Meat selections are standard, offering Brisket, Sirloin, Tripe and Tendon.

The star of the show to me, is the Pork Chop lunch special seen here. For $6.50, I get a pile of thinly sliced chunks of grilled pork on top of fried rice.

While the char is not quite as intense as I'd like, the coating of juices that permeate every bite more than makes up for it.

It also makes up for the odd music that was playing last time I was there. It was a compilation of pan flute music including "My Way" and "Take on Me." Yes, "Take on Me."

While I can't vouch for the music, the pork is wonderful.

In case of any confusion, here's a picture of the shop, with all three names clearly on display:

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March 2, 2009

SF: The Food Court

Out The Door at the Smithfield Mall's Food Court

I have to say, I was concerned when the words Food Court came up as a suggestion for dinner. I was in SOMA with a couple former colleagues and a few friends from high school who have since become SF expats. I had declined to make any suggestions, in the hopes that the locals among us would come up with some awesome place I had never heard of.

Turns out they did.

The Food Court at Westfield Mall on Market Street is the antithesis of everything those two words have meant together before.

As a part of a high-end revamp of this mall, which included adding "the largest Bloomingdale's west of Manhattan" as the flagship tenant, the basement level was filled with the best fast food I've ever seen. Offerings include a Tri-tip steak shop, Korean Barbecue, a gelateria and an outpost of The Slanted Door, the incredible Asian restaurant in the Ferry building. Called "Out the Door," the space reminds me most of Republic in New York. It's much more casual and inexpensive than the original.

I wasn't in SF long enough after to properly survey the rest of the food, beyond a nicely done burger at Bistro Burger, but I know where I'll be going between sessions the next time I'm tethered to Moscone for a week.

Westfield San Francisco Centre, 865 Market St.
(415) 512 6776

February 27, 2009

Butchery: Provisions

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I've mentioned Provisions a few times lately. It's the place I bought that wonderful ground lamb for the Meatball project and the kid goat for the cabrito, Jalisco style. It's the grocery outpost of the Greene Grape wine shop that has been in the neighborhood for a few years now. I'm a big fan of the wine shop but haven't shopped at Provisions so much. They have a number of great items available, but their price point is often more than I can get the same items elsewhere. If I need something in a pinch or when I'm in the neighborhood, I'll go, but otherwise, I never had a reason to make it a destination.

In the last couple of weeks, I've found my reason: The Meat.

The key here is the creativity. Bryan, the head butcher at Provisions is seeking out interesting meats and doing cool stuff with it. If there's anything to the theory of the Butcher as Foodie Rockstar, it's what he's doing here.

When I went in to pick up meat for Meatball Madness, I ended up having a great conversation about the Lamb Bacon with him. A couple days later, it was on Bittman's Blog, which will hopefully encourage a demand to make some more. I really want to try it. He says it's got an innate sweetness to it that sounds really interesting.

Last Friday they brought in a whole kid goat from D'artagnan just to see what it was like and how it would sell. Provisions was my first stop Saturday morning to make sure I got some. I talked to Berlin, the butcher behind the counter that day, and his excitement was palpable. He told me about the cuts they came up with and the parts, like the head, that they're still thinking of what to do with. I was excited just hearing about it. This is what is making butchering interesting these days.

The price point is still an issue. The goat was $15.99 a pound, which is a hefty sum, but where else am I going to find it? The same with the Lamb Bacon. And I'll happily shell out extra for something new and experimental. That's the way I cook and having a butcher around who thinks the same way is awesome. I won't be stopping in here to get ingredients for a 30 minute meal, but I'll be coming through once a week or so to see what's new.

February 26, 2009

dba Brooklyn

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As a fan of both original branches of dba, I've been pretty excited about dba Brooklyn since I first heard about it last year. Now that it's open, I have to say, it's all I hoped for and more.

The theme here seems 'the best of both worlds.' The vast, open space is reminiscent of the New Orleans branch, while the garden space in the back is an active attraction of Manhattan bar.

The decor of wood and chalkboards and the ridiculous selection of quality beer and whisk(e)ys of all types is as strongly present as at the others.

As with the Manhattan branch, I find it's a pretty good place to sit down with the laptop and hang out for hours. In fact, that's what Tammi and I spent last Monday doing, reading and pecking at our laptops over beer and bourbon.

My misanthropic impulses are fed by the fact that it's still relatively unknown and on a quiet block off the main strip. I'm sitting here right now writing this post on a Friday night with a reasonably small crowd and room to breathe. That's something I've never known of either other outpost, and I suspect won't last here for long.

Something new to the dba franchise is food. They offer a menu of one item for those who want to snack with their booze. Right now, it's a Muffaletta, a clear nod to it's Crescent City roots:

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Wisely, the sandwich is not nearly the mass of the original. It's also, predictably, not nearly as good. But then nothing is. I only know one place in the world that makes a great Muffaletta and it's 1200 miles from Brooklyn. I'll take what I can get. It's 7 meats and two cheeses on a locally baked roll - sounds like drunk food to me.

February 25, 2009

Lunch: Pinche Taqueria

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After months on its last legs, my iPod gave up the ghost last night. I knew it was coming, but now I had to replace it. Today, I finally gave in and bought an iPhone.

Since I was downtown anyway to go to the Apple Store, I took the opportunity to get some tacos from Pinche Taqueria, the wedge shaped shop in NoHo.

Above are the Carnitas, Pollo Asado and Al Pastor tacos that I had. They were wonderful.

What caught my attention here was the pork roasting on a spit in the al pastor in the traditional method that I fell in love with in Mexico City:

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Pinche Taqueria
333 Lafayette St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 343-9977

Meatball Madness: Lamb Meatballs

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I decided to do this version of lamb meatballs at the last minute. The morning of the meatball gathering, I saw Nigella cook it and it intrigued me.

The recipe is more notable for what it doesn't have than what it does. Lamb in general and ground lamb in particular is almost always matched with garlic, mint, rosemary or some combination there of. That's certainly what was going to be in the kefta I initially planned on making.

Instead, Nigella uses semolina flour and scallions. There were some familiar flavors, with the additions of cumin, and interestingly cinnamon and allspice for a touch of North African flavor.

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The only thing I can say about the semolina is that I didn't really notice it in eating the meatballs. That's good because while making them, I was concerned that the gritty texture of the flour might carry over into the finished product.

These were only pan fried meatballs, which I think helped out a lot. It made the exterior wonderfully crisp in a way none of the oven-cooked ones quite managed.

In the end, these were very successful. Given the intense flavor of this batch of lamb, the more subtle flavors of the spices here were an aside to the main attraction.

That said, the strong flavor makes my think it could probably have stood up well to the garlic and herbs of a traditional style as well.

Lunch: 2nd Ave Deli

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Af