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May 2, 2012

Your First Look at The Bar at Peaches

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Last night, Bed-Stuy got its newest bar. The folks at Peaches have renovated the space where Bread-Stuy used to be and turned it into a bar for folks in the neighborhood to hang out, chat and enjoy each other's company. It's a much needed addition to the neighborhood and I'm looking forward to spending long evenings bending elbows at the bar or holed up in a window seat on a summer's day.

Before they opened, owners Craig & Ben let me in to get a first look at the place. They're also our first confirmed stop on the next Bed-Stuy Crawl, which will tour Lewis Avenue on Saturday, June 2nd.

See more photos of the space after the jump...

Continue reading "Your First Look at The Bar at Peaches" »

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.

Continue reading "Bed-Stuy Crawl, Round 2 Recap" »

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.

Continue reading "This weekend, Bed-Stuy Crawl returns!" »

February 1, 2012

This Weekend: Bed-Stuy Crawl

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There's so much going on in Bed-Stuy these days. It seems like a month doesn't go by that a new bar or restaurant isn't opening up to much interest and curiosity of its neighbors.

My friends Alisha and Nicole and I are hosting a crawl of some of the neighborhood's new(ish) watering holes this weekend and I'd love for you to join us. For $25 you get discounts, deals and tastings as we make our way around the neighborhood.

Find out more information and buy tickets at the Bed-Stuy Crawl eventbrite page and keep up on the news on twitter by following #bedstuycrawl.

November 9, 2011

Self-Promotion: ScoutMob and the New York City Marathon

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When I started talking to the fine folks at Scout Mob about being a local scout for them, I think we all assumed that I'd be pitching stories about food. I certainly didn't expect it to be about a sporting event. Then I remembered the annual tradition Tammi and I have had for eight years now and it just sort of made sense.

Check out Today's Culture Hunter and see my photos from the 2011 New York City Marathon and a bit on how it turned into the ritual it has for us.

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.

Continue reading "Bed-Stuy: Do or Dine brings an adventurous menu to the hood" »

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.

Continue reading "Bed-Stuy Tour: Bedford Hill" »

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.

Continue reading "Brooklyn: The Bed-Stuy Tour Part One" »

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.

Continue reading "In The Kitchen: Valentine's Day Dinner" »

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...

Continue reading "In The Kitchen: Broiled Whole Branzino" »

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.

Continue reading "In The Kitchen: Improvised Lamb Ribs, Fatty Cue style" »

November 18, 2010

Analog: Long Expired Kodak Royal-X Pan

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In all my analog experimenting, I've only played with expired film once or twice. The only notable results I found were with a roll I shot in Hawai'i that I posted about last year.

Last weekend at "Dan's Parent's House" at the Brooklyn Flea, I came across this single roll of 120mm Royal-X Pan film. The box was still sealed and the stamp on the side said 'develop before December 1959.'

The vendor, Dan told me he had no idea if it was any good, so gave it to me for $3.

Check out the results after the jump.

Continue reading "Analog: Long Expired Kodak Royal-X Pan " »

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.

Continue reading "In The Kitchen: Lamb Chili" »

November 5, 2010

Bed-Stuy: Therapy Wine Bar seeking full liquor license

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According to Citizen Who, Therapy Wine Bar just got community board approval for a full liquor license. That's pretty big news in my part of Bed-Stuy, an area where the only real bar for maybe half a mile is Casablanca Lounge, the old man bar down the block from me.

Open for over a year now, I was pretty excited when I first heard about Therapy opening on Lewis Avenue. Tammi and I have been there a few times and I've gone in by myself for a glass of wine and to get a little work done.

See a bit more of what's inside after the jump.

Continue reading "Bed-Stuy: Therapy Wine Bar seeking full liquor license" »

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 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

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I'm not one to dress up for Halloween, but as a photographer, I've certainly enjoyed watching everyone else do their thing. In fact, I had big plans to run around this weekend shooting all the costumes and parties and drunken festivities. Yet, Friday night, I was at the office and last night we spent the evening at home watching movies and drinking wine.

Tonight, I do hope to make it out to the Halloween parade in the village and maybe to a couple parties as well as catching my awesome godchild Asher dressed up as a giraffe.

These days I'm trying to balance my hustle with thinking ahead and putting in groundwork. There's no use going out every night shooting if I'm not taking the time to get the business side of things right.

I spent the last couple days going to the Photo Plus Expo looking through printing houses and equipment suppliers and many, many wedding-related vendors that I hope to offer to clients in the next year.

October 22, 2010

Bed-Stuy: Liquid Oz Opens

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After much anticipation, Liquid Oz, the cafe and wine bar from the guys who run Oz Home and Hardware opened up last weekend. Tammi and I are particularly excited since it's literally around the corner from our place. Tammi claims she may never make coffee at home again.

Get a closer look at the place after the jump.


Continue reading "Bed-Stuy: Liquid Oz Opens" »

October 15, 2010

Self-Promotion: Seasonal Brooklyn

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So, one of the various things that's been keeping me busy and not blogging is that I've been working on a new show. I'm happy to announce that Seasonal Brooklyn is now up at Peaches here in Bed-Stuy.

The work on display is all Brooklyn, mostly within a couple blocks of the restaurant and highlights the area through the seasons. Over the course of next week, I'll be posting the film photos from the show on Analog UltraClay along with a few others that didn't make it up.

The prints this time around are much bigger than at the Habana Outpost show and I'm loving how they look. If you are in the neighborhood this weekend, stop in at Peaches, grab a snack and take a look.

All photos are for sale. Contact me directly at photog at ultraclay dotcom or via my portfolio site.

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.

August 10, 2010

Analog Bed-Stuy: Brooklynite Gallery

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Eurotrash opening party, Brooklynite Gallery, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. June 2010.

These are a few analog scenes from the June opening at Brooklynite Gallery. The gallery has been open for a couple years now and has not, as many initially feared, transformed the neighborhood into Williamsburg.

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Owners Rae and Hope McGrath, who live in Bed-Stuy, keep the neighborhood involved in their shows and parties. Nearly every event features musical performances out on Malcolm X Boulevard, drawing the attention of neighbors and passersby. The parties also often bring some legends in Hip-hop to DJ, which I certainly appreciate.

I've seen Prince Paul, Hank Shocklee and most recently DJ Rehka, whose Basement Bhangra party SOBs had forever been on my New York 'to-do' list. At the gallery they took it a step further and had a group of traditional dancers - along with local kids dancing to the mix of hip-hop, reggae and Bhangra rhythms.

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I also appreciate the fact that it's close to home - being a block away means that even when I'm exhausted, it's no trouble to go out to check out the show and shoot the party.

The next show, opening on September 4th features artists Eelus and C215, an amazing stencil artist that I've been a big fan of for years.

Brooklynite Gallery, 334 Malcolm X Boulevard, Brooklyn, NY 11233. 347.405.5976

August 7, 2010

Analog Bed-Stuy: Flora

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Forgive me if I end up sounding like a shill for Kodak, but with 300 rolls of Ektar to go through, it's pretty much the only film I expect to shoot with for some time.

That said, the fine grain of Ektar is particularly good for plants. If brings out the tones and character of leaves and flowers that are just not as interesting (to me) taken digitally.

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Here and after the jump are some of the flora and still life photos I've been taking around Bed-Stuy of late. Still life isn't my strong suit, but I like what i came up with here.

Continue reading "Analog Bed-Stuy: Flora" »

August 2, 2010

Analog Bed-Stuy

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As I try to phase analog photography back into my life, I'm hoping to strike a better balance that I did last year. My Ektar 300 windfall is great, but carrying around two, three, four cameras all the time and shooting dozens of film rolls a week isn't feasible or economical.

So, I'm trying to limit my film shooting to leisure time when I'm not planning on shooting anything for Examiner or Midtown Lunch. Lately, that's mostly just been when I've been around the neighborhood in Bed-Stuy.

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It's been interesting looking through the photos I've taken so far. I've lived in Bed-Stuy for almost 25 years and I really don't photograph the area very much. That's unfortunate since there's so much to shoot in the neighborhood. I'm hoping to take the opportunity to appreciate more of the visuals around me by shooting more in the area.

The top was shot with my EOS 1-N, the bottom with my Diana Mini. Over the next couple of weeks, I'll post more here and there from around the neighborhood, so will just include one or two, others will have several.

See a couple more after the jump.

Continue reading "Analog Bed-Stuy" »

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.

May 28, 2010

Bed-Stuy: Boardwalk Empire

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Another example of Bed-Stuy 'coming up' in the world is that we're getting things like film production in the neighborhood. Over the last couple months, HBO has been filming an upcoming show called Boardwalk Empire. It's set in Atlantic City in the 20's, I believe, but they took advantage of the gorgeous old houses in this area.

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Mostly they've been filming out of a shuttered old folks home on the corner of Stuyvesant and Decatur. The building is old and beautiful, I've always wondered what it looks like inside. Not, I guess I'll see it on TV one day.


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Walking past the film crews, extras and props has certainly been interesting. Some days there's fake snow piled up, others there's a row of antique cars. It's been fun, to me.

Not so much for the car owners that have had another wrinkle in their alternate side parking dance with dozens of trucks and vans taking up spots up and down the blocks. Being a non-driver, that's no big deal to me.

May 11, 2010

Bed-Stuy's Blowin' up

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I moved to Bed-Stuy in 1986. Over the nearly 25 years since then, my relationship with the neighborhood has had its ups and downs. As a kid commuting to Brookln Heights every day, It bugged me that we didn't have bookstore and ice cream shops like on Montague Street. When I was a teenager, I was deeply embarrassed when hosting a visiting exchange student to have to walk him through a bloody crime scene on his first morning with us.

After college, my perspective changed, I still wished for amenities found elsewhere in New York, but I certainly appreciated living in Brownstone and paying the same price as friends in Fort Greene for twice the space - with a backyard, no less. Bars, restaurants, ice cream shops were all things I'd have to commute for, but the alternative was gentrification.

That subject, especially in Brooklyn can lead to some heated debates. While I'm certainly enjoying many of the perks gentrification provides in other neighborhoods, i understand that it can also leave an area unrecognizable and worse, unaffordable. That said, everything changes over time and there's no predicting how things will go.

New places are popping up all over the neighborhood and a few concerns aside, I'm very much enjoying it. There are restaurants, a book store, a wine bar and an art gallery. There are places for community to come together besides churches and places to imbibe besides the street corner. I'm pretty excited about it, truth be told.

This is all my wordy way of introducing a series I'll be doing over the next couple weeks highlighting places, new and old around Bed-Stuy that I haven't given a lot of attention to on the blog.

May 9, 2010

Recently on Examiner: Drinking in Brooklyn and the Freedom Party

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If there was much of a theme at all in my last couple weeks of posts it was Brooklyn Bars. Besides the regular Brokelyn 25 series that I've gotten moving again, I've also posted about a few new choice spots to imbibe that have opened up recently. Above is Hot Bird, which I lucked into on its second night open. I basically got the first shots of the space and thus ended up on Brownstoner and Eater. The place looks pretty amazing, so I expect to spend quite a bit of time there this summer.

See what else I've been posting about after the jump...

Continue reading "Recently on Examiner: Drinking in Brooklyn and the Freedom Party" »

May 3, 2010

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 16, 2010

Gratuitous Bacon Shot

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April 8, 2010

Food Finds: Bird's Custard

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Foodtown, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. 2010.

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" »

April 6, 2010

Graffiti: Specter's Portraits

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It's been a while since I've been able to go out shooting graffiti, but I was happy to come across this Specter piece off Classon near Lafayette. His work is among the pieces up in Make It Fit at Brooklynite Gallery.

There's a similar mixed media piece up in the gallery that has startled a few passersby late at night in the neighborhood. The show is up through next week.

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April 5, 2010

Bar Sputnik Closed Down

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I was disappointed this weekend to find Sputnik, on the Bed-Stuy/Clinton Hill border shuttered with an 'out of business' sign on the door.

After years of wanting to go, I only ended up there twice. Last fall, I was there two weeks in a row, shooting Pharoahe Monch and Brand Nubian for some of my first Examiner columns. With Evil D on the turntables and legends literally inches away, it was Hip-hop at its finest.

I wasn't anywhere near a regular, but I'm sad to see it go.

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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.

March 22, 2010

The Spoils of Gentrification: Beer!

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The upside to demographic change in Brooklyn? Better beer.

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" »

February 11, 2010

Food Finds: Oriental Lychees

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Foodtown, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. 2010.

January 27, 2010

Analog: Diana Mini's half frames

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An interesting feature of the Diana Mini is the ability to shoot half frames. In addition to the square frames, which match the number of exposures typically on a roll, it can be adjusted with the flick of a switch to shoot twice as many rectangular exposures. All of these are from the same roll. I was surprised at how long it took to take 72 shots.


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My biggest issue with the Diana is what I've had with the Holga, which is figuring out exposure. I seem to only have luck shooting in daylight, regardless of the speed of the film. If I try to adjust the exposure time by using the bulb feature, it ends up being overwhelmed by camera shake. I'll keep at it at see what I manage to get up here in the mountains.

Check out more shots after the jump. More to come.

Continue reading "Analog: Diana Mini's half frames" »

January 21, 2010

Food Finds: Twin Elephants

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Foodtown, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. 2010.

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.

December 21, 2009

Snowfall

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So, yeah, there was a snow storm. I guess winter's definitely here. Insert "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" joke here.

December 7, 2009

The Tree Starts the Season

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The end of the year is sort of a whirlwind. Starting with the build-up to Thanksgiving, the meme-storm of holidays and music and events is enough to sweep you up or knock you down.

I find it a bit disorienting this year. I love the season, but I haven't -felt- it yet. The weather has certainly cooled down appropriately and the holiday music is being blared in more places than I'd like. But the season doesn't quite feel there yet for me.

I think tomorrow is when it'll happen. Tammi and I are getting our Christmas Tree after work tomorrow night. We'll follow the long time holiday tradition and decorate it while listening to the sounds of Nat, Ella and A Charlie Brown Christmas.

November 26, 2009

Homeward Bound

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By the time this goes up, Tammi and I will be in the air again, heading for a quick stopover at O'Hare, then on back to the Better Borough. We're giving ourselves a little more time at home this time around to relax and re-acclimate to being at home, catch up on things and maybe to get some cooking done after a couple of weeks out of the kitchen.

Expect some posts in the next week or so about Hawai'i, followed up by various catch up posts from the last few months.

Happy Thanksgiving!

October 29, 2009

Recently on The Examiner

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Apologies for the sporadic posts of late. I'm still trying to figure out how to balance my posting here with my Examiner column. I have some things in the works that hope will help me keep the blog going and maybe tie my various online exploits together better.

In the meantime, I'm going to start a weekly post here recapping some of what I've been up to elsewhere, particularly on Examiner.

There's a lot to catch up on, so this will be longer than most will be.

To start, last week I went to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, above, to shoot an Oktoberfest event at co-sponsored by Brooklyn Based. That was a lot of fun and I got to play with some of the techniques I'm learning in my night photography class.

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Beyond that, I've spent some quality time at Sputnik in recent weeks. First I went to shoot Brand Nubian and in the process got a pass to go back the next week to see Pharoahe Monch.

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Finally, there was also the Big Apple Comic Con, which has grown tremendously from the days I remember in the basement of the Roosevelt Hotel 20 years ago. And with it, the costumed crowd has exploded. The costumes were wonderful and I spent my whole time there getting as many shots of them as I could. A bunch of them ended up featured on Gothamist.

That's the last few weeks in a nutshell. For more details o what I've covered, check out the column on examiner.com, or even better, subscribe!

I hope to have a weekend wrap post up early next week about all the Halloween festivities and the New York City Marathon. Expect sweat and costumes on both counts.

August 24, 2009

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 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 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 29, 2009

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


July 28, 2009

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.

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 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.

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 25, 2009

Wine Therapy

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We tried and failed to get a table at Saraghina the other day, but in the process came across another upcoming gem in the neighborhood (I hope).

Therapy Wine Bar is set to open up on Lewis between Macon and Halseynext month some time.

I'll be keeping an eye out for it, so stay tuned for details...

June 24, 2009

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 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 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 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 10, 2009

Soggy Spring

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Contrary to the rhyme, this year's April Showers made way for May downpours. According to Gothamist, we got within an inch of the monthly average rainfall for May in the first 7 days of the month. Since then, our rain has kept coming, but has conveniently shifted to an after hours schedule, holding out until late night before initiating torrential rains and earthshaking thunderstorms.

The weather has wrought havoc on the traditional pastime of surveying the various outdoor gardens around the city, but rest assured, it's coming. In the meantime, stay dry.

April 5, 2009

2 Many Artists: Photos Posted

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Last night, Tammi and I checked out the opening for 2 Many Artists, which I mentioned yesterday. The show is a really interesting collection of collage work, piecing together the oddest assortment of images to make larger constructions.

There are a lot of Superhero constructions, which are particularly familiar to me. I found it interesting to see so many American icons being reconstructed by a pair of British artists.

As exciting as the art to me was the DJ of the night, Prince Paul. I was completely starstruck standing mere feet away from the mind responsible for 3 Feet High and Rising among many many other classics. After walking through the space a few times and examining every piece, I hung around just so I could keep listening to the tunes he was spinning. I was especially excited to hear "The Originators," by Jay-Z and Jaz from way before Reasonable Doubt. Jay-Z used the fast flow of the early 90's sounding more like the Fu-Shnickens that the rhymer we know today. I'd heard of the song, but never actual;ly heard it myself. I could have stayed there for another several hours just hearing him spin.

The show is on until May 2nd. Photos are posted on Flickr.

April 4, 2009

Tonight: Joe Black and Miss Bugs at Brooklynite Gallery

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Tonight the Brooklynite Gallery opens 2 Many Artists, displaying work by British artists Joe Black and Miss Bugs.

As usual, the abandoned storefronts around the corner from my house have become the palette for the visiting artists. Above is a paste up collage portrait of Salvador Dali by Joe Black. And this is Miss Bugs...

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The opening is tonight at 7pm until 9pm and Prince Paul will be DJing.

Brooklynite Gallery
334 Malcolm X Blvd. off Bainbridge St.
A to Utica Ave.
B46 to Decatur St.

March 25, 2009

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" »

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 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 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.

The MTA's March Madness

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I don't think I'm going to lose any friends by calling the MTA a bunch of bastards. I'm not the first and I won't be the last to speak ill of the folks running Transit, so I'll minimize my invective.

For the entire month of March, the A Train is being replaced by shuttle service for over 3 miles of its route in Brooklyn. From Jay Street to Utica Avenue. Practically, this means that trying to get anywhere downtown or into Manhattan is going to be a clusterfuck for another 4 weekends. They've done this before and it has been profoundly unpleasant.

The upshot of this for me is that these are 'Williamsburg' weekends, as heading in that direction by bus or bike is a far better experience than even attempting to navigate the foolishness on Fulton Street.

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...

March 2, 2009

In Like a Lion...

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March 1, 2009

Brooklynite Gallery Opening: Remed & Zbiok

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Last night I got out to an opening at the Brooklynite Gallery, a new art space just around the corner from our place.

The event was a nice gathering of the arts folks and some folks from the neighborhood I've seen through the years but never known. I also ran into Luna Park, for the second weekend in a row.

I've passed the gallery over nd over since it opened last year, but hadn't been in. From the outside, the space looks to be all of 10 feet deep, but I discovered that there is much more room, including a full backyard full of art on display.

I'm not certain how that space is used during inclement weather like today's snow, but I hope to get another look at it one way or the other when there is less of a crowd there.

I was initially concerned about the idea of a gallery opening p in the neighborhood - and to be sure, the vast majority of people at the opening were clearly not from the neighborhood - but having actually seen the space and learned a little more about it, I'm happy to have a real art space so close to home.

If nothing else, I appreciate that the artists have started using some of the abandoned storefronts in the area as a canvas, leaving one less eyesore to pass on the way to work.

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February 25, 2009

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.

February 24, 2009

Cabrito, Jalisco Style

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When I heard that Provisions was going to be getting an entire baby goat, I knew I had to have some. Goat has been on my list of meats I would like to learn how to cook for a little while now. I first tried this recipe last year with an adult goat, but found it way too gamy. Using kid, it was perfect.

The meat was moist and flavorful, but with no gaminess. Tammi, who was entirely apprehensive about eating goat, loved it.

No step-by step this time around, but here's the broad strokes of the recipe, which is adapted from Rick Bayless' Mexican Everyday after the jump...

Continue reading "Cabrito, Jalisco Style" »

February 23, 2009

Meatball Madness: Chipotle Pork

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The chipotle pork meatballs were the one familiar recipe of the Meatball Madness batch. I made these over and over again after coming home from Mexico City in 2007. I love this dish. The sauce and the meat are flavored with bacon and chipotles. Wood smoke of one sort or another is integrated into every single bite, some time doubly or triply.

The bacon I used was home-cured and smoked with hickory sawdust over the last warm weekend. I experimented with one thing that I wouldn't do again here. I cut the rind into slivers and mixed it in with the meat. I felt it in every meatball I ate. That skin is just a little too chewy for something like that. Next time I'll toss it in a stew.

Otherwise, this was my great success of the evening. It was a little too spicy for some folks, but I thought it was perfect.

The recipe is from Rick Bayless' Mexican Everyday. The other variation I made was adding dried, ground chipotle pepper to the seasoning of the meat. This built up the heat and smoke from within instead of it just coming from the sauce. Again, I like spicy foods, so your mileage may vary.

After the jump, the step by step:

Continue reading "Meatball Madness: Chipotle Pork" »

February 20, 2009

Bodega Toys: Benign Girl

Benign?

You find the most random toys for sale over the counter at the neighborhood bodega...

February 19, 2009

Meatball Madness: Tsukune

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Full disclosure: the idea of ground chicken, whether in a sausage, a patty or a meatball is not one I'm completely behind. I've had good chicken sausage once or twice and the Japanese meatballs I've had at izakaya in the past have been very good. But the fact is that I have a strong bias against the idea of ground chicken. So maybe my heart just wasn't in this one.

That said, I have other issues with the way these grilled chicken meatballs turned out. First, this was meat I had planned to grind myself. I already had it on hand and had to improvise with the food processor. As mentioned, I just don't feel a food processor does this particular job well. The meat mixture, below, was far more pasty than I think good ground meat ought to be.

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Besides that, I discovered at the last minute that I had recently finished my Mirin, essential to both the tare sauce suggested for the Tsukune and the teriyaki sauce I hoped to use in its stead. I substituted Chinese rice wine, which just isn't the same thing. I had to add a lot more sugar to compensate for the flavor and consequently ended up charring in the broiler more than it would otherwise have.

The final product was ok, and I used the leftovers in a noodle soup that turned out pretty well, but I'm pretty sure I won't be making this again, more out of my own tastes than anything intrinsically wrong with the dish. I'll leave this one to the grillmasters at the Izakaya.

Meatball Madness: Leftovers

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So, after you've already made 4 different types of meatballs, but you still have ground meat on hand, what do you do? Clearly, making more meatballs was not a part of the plan. For the next week Tammi and I will be eating them in soups, on pastas and just on their own.

Much of the raw meat went in the freezer where I'll go back to get it once I'm ready for more meatballs or burgers or some other such thing. But the lamb, I knew what to do with right away: Shepherd's Pie!

I love Shepherd's Pie. I mean how can you not? It's sauteed ground meat, in this case the traditional lamb, topped with veggies (including the baby carrots we had for a snack before the meatballs were ready), which soften in the meat's fat, then topped with rich, creamy mashed potatoes and then baked until an awesome crust forms over the top. So good.

The lamb I used here was some of the pricier meat I picked up at Provisions in Fort Greene. The lamb flavor is forward and unapologetic. It's not excessively gamy, but it'll never be mistaken for beef. It was perfect here and I'm glad I decided to hold on to some of it for this.

The specks on top are bits of potato skin. I have never been one to peel potatoes, I just don't see the point. The skin is always so yummy, why would I toss it??

For those looking to see below the surface, here's a close up of the profile shot:

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February 17, 2009

Meatball Madness

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After a month and a half of thinking about it, I finally had the time (and the mouths to feed) to actually have my meatball fest. On Sunday, I tried my hand at 4 different meatball recipes and had a few people over to sample them.

My first major challenge was that my Kitchenaid, which supplies the motor for my meat grinder is on the fritz, so grinding the meat myself didn't work out. This really bummed me out, because I think fresh ground meat is vastly superior, particularly when I get to season the meat while grinding. I almost always mix salt, pepper and minced garlic (when called for) in with the meat as it goes through. That way there's less handling necessary when prepping the meat. In my experience, whether it's meatballs or burgers or meatloaf, I find that minimal handling makes for a juicier, firmer final product.

This led to two compromises (1) I had to just buy pre-ground meat in cases where I hadn't already purchased pieces to grind already and (2) I had to use the food processor for the rest. In the end, neither of these compromises ruined the final product. In fact, the veal and lamb I bought was ground fresh by request not an hour before at Greene Grape Provisions. The compromise there is more the cost, where ground meat tends to cost $9/lb. Given that the genius of the meatball is to make something good out of cheap and leftover meat, this does go against the spirit of the dish, but sometimes you just have to have an expensive meatball.

Given all of that, I found a lot of areas I would improve on what came out. Some were really good, some weren't quite what I'd hoped for. Over the next few days, I'll go over them critically and take a look at what I can do to make them better next time. In the meantime, here's what was on the menu:

*Mario Batali's Polpette Napolitano

*Rick Bayless' Chipotle Pork Meatballs

*Nigella Lawson's Lamb Meatballs

*Japanese Tskune Chicken Meatball skewers

More to come...

February 8, 2009

Porchetta at Home, Take 2

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With my January travels complete, I finally have some time to spend in the kitchen. In the last week, I've cooked 4-5 meals and begun aging a ham and curing bacon, lardo and guanciale. More on that later.

The point is, that I've finally gotten a chance to take another whack and porchetta, that fragrantly herby rolled pork I tried out with a suckling pig back in December.

Back then, I was happy with the final product, but not entirely satisfied. In particular, the two trouble spots were the lemons, which mostly got in the way and the herbs, which I was too light-handed with.

My initial thoughts were to use a pork belly, which would tie most easily and provide the crispy skin as well as a remarkably tender layer of meat automatically basted by the outer layer of fat, all the while soaking in the spice rub.

Eric had also been considering ways to improve the porchetta since my first attempt. He thought that a belly on it's own would not yield enough meat for all the trouble and advised using a pork loin in the middle to balance that out. The idea being that the inherent dryness of the loin would be be countered by the salty rub of fennel pollen and minced rosemary. He also suggested continuing to use lemons, but limiting it to the zest and the juice. Finally, he mentioned that Porchetta the shop in the East Village scores their porchetta in a diamond pattern to maximize the crispy skin.

After the jump, the blow by blow...

Continue reading "Porchetta at Home, Take 2" »

February 4, 2009

Photo of the Day: Bump

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Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. 2009.

January 28, 2009

Photo of the Day: Brownstone Blizzard

Brownstone Blizzard
Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. 2003

I've returned to the Better Borough from Aspen just to find snow, sleet and freezing rain in the forecast, just hours away.

I'm so sick of Winter.

January 14, 2009

Porchetta at Home

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Just after Christmas, Tammi and I hosted our annual holiday party and here you see the guest of honor. This was my attempt at the Porchetta I watched Nate Appleman prepare at the Astor Center early last month.

While it was generally a success, I feel there was some room for improvement and I hope to try to do better in some future (smaller) attempts.

Regarding the finished product, it was very tasty. Honestly, I barely had any of the actual porchetta, which is the abdominal section of the pig. Once it cooled, I cut that part up and served it for our guests. Nothing came back, so it definitely went over well.

That said, I'm writing this as a critique so I know what I want to do differently in the future, so most of the rest of this post is going to be the challenges I had or the things I want to fix the next time around.

First thing, the lemons. this was ann idea I picked up from Appleman's class. He mentioned that he learned this some time ago and found that the citrus added another layer that he enjoyed. I didn't like it at all. Immediately after cutting into the pig, the strongest scent was hot citrus, which wasn't what I wanted. I scraped out the lemons before serving the pork because I thought it was just too strong. I wouldn't use them again in the future.

All of that also points to an issue that was entirely my fault: not enough seasoning. I sought out fennel pollen, which I manage to get a friend to source for me from his wholesaler. It's an unusual ingredient and on the pricey side, but when used well, as they do at Porchetta in the East Village, it's transcendental. I guessed at the amount, using a gentler hand with it because I had heard it described as being as strong as saffron. Between its strength and the 3 day seasoning time, I thought it best to be cautious with the amount I used. I should have used more. Again, it was very good, but the fennel flavor, which I wanted to be primary was more subtle than I would have liked. I think I could have used more rosemary as well, but generally I was ok with the way that flavor turned out.

Finally, the skin is always awesome, and it was great here, but it wasn't as crisp s I would have liked, even though I finished it off at 500 for an hour. I think it would have benefitted from a rubdown with fat of some sort when I turned the heat up. I had confit on hand, so I could have used some of the fat from that, or even olive oil, I suppose.

After the jump, some photos from the prep and my notes on my first major attempt at butchery.

Continue reading "Porchetta at Home" »

September 10, 2008

New York Primary Day 08


IMG00010.jpg, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Yesterday New York held local primary elections that was largely below everyone's radar given all the national politics in the news lately.

The most notable aspect in this election was that a number of entrenched incumbents were challenged, some for the first time in over 20 years.

The results are in and though some newcomers succeeded, much of the local political landscape is just about the same. At least part of the reason has got to be the rather low turnout, which seems ridiculous in such a politically charged year. But then no one cares about local politics until some obscure pol who has been in office for decades starts flexing his power to shoot down sensible projects.

In any case, tirade aside, I also wanted to note that the voting machine for my district, an ancient behemoth, was broken and I had to fill out a paper ballot.

August 12, 2008

Peaches Update


IMG_6771, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Here's a brief update on Peaches, the new Southern restaurant in the neighborhood.

Saturday, Tammi and I took our niece, nephew and my sister out to dinner at Peaches. It was our first time trying the full table service menu.

I had a great Red Beans and Rice, with Andouille Sausage, topped with a dollop of Pulled Pork. It was smoky and wonderful.

Everyone else loved their meals as well. I'm hoping to head over there on a regular basis, so more updates will come over time.

One thing to note is that they still don't have a license for beer and wine. When asked, our waitress supported the local wine shop, plugging Olivino, a block away.

That's all great, but I think the next time I go, it'll be a six-pack I bring to accompany some of the gigantic Beef Ribs that I spied passing by.

Yum!

Photo of the Day: Brownstone Brooklyn


IMG_7065, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. 2008.

July 29, 2008

Photo of the Day: Woolworth's


IMG_6170, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Bed Stuy, Brooklyn. 2006.

July 22, 2008

Bed-Stuy Block Party


IMG_7203, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Last weekend, Tammi and I participated in our annual block party. It was a first for both of us. Every year, I've discovered the festivities the day of the party, as I'm leaving the house to do one thing or another.

This time we had a little advanced warning and I fired up the grill. Tammi and I took the grill and a couple of chairs out onto the street in front of the house and sat with our neighbors for hours, talking and getting to know each other.

It was a great time.

Update: Photos now posted on Flickr.

July 15, 2008

Rustik Tavern

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One of the best benefits of bike-riding for me has been the exposure to areas I would otherwise never see. This has inspired me to explore beyond my standard MTA-mandated locales and find places that aren't so convenient to the train travelers among us. Which is how I came across Rustik Tavern.

I had gone to the Home Depot on Nostrand to pick up a few things and planned on riding down to Fort Greene to get some food. After a few blocks of riding with half a ton of stuff on my back, I saw Rustik and decided that closer was going to be the better bet.

I like Rustik. It's very rough and I have to say the food I had the first time was not so great. The waitress later told me that no one from the kitchen showed up that day and the rest of them were improvising. This explained the shriveled, overcooked chicken that came with my waffles.

They opened up last year and are still experimenting on their format. Posters hang advertising comedy shows and jazz performances, on a recent brunch visit a band played Mediterranean music for fewer than a dozen customers.

But going there reminds me of being at Moe's in 1999/2000. The crowd there is communal and fun and the neighborhood, just on the Bed-Stuy side of the Pratt area, reminds me of Fort Greene when I just got out of school. Before the crowds overran places like Habana Outpost and Stonehome, there was no trouble finding place to chill over a beer and meet your neighbors.

I look forward to spending more time at Rustik. At some point I'll need to figure out a convenient way to get there without the benefit of my bicycle one day so I can see what it's like in the evening. I'll be sure to report in when I do.

July 12, 2008

Peaches is Open!


IMG_6803, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Tonight was opening night at Peaches Market, the new restaurant by the pair that run the successful Smoke Joint Barbecue spot in Fort Greene. I've been excited about Peaches since I first heard about it a month or two ago. I've been silent on it only because I didn't want to jinx it and no firm launch date had been announced until a week or so ago.

Apparently they did publicize it enough, I swear the whole neighborhood was there tonight. I suspect they were a bit too successful, given that there were crazy delays getting the food out. Even so, I'll cut them plenty of slack for doing as well as they did on their first night.

I have a ton of questions about how the place is going to work. Tonight the 'Barbecue Counter' was open, serving a menu pretty similar to what I remember of my visit to Smoke Joint in the same counter setting. The initial reports I read said that Peaches wasn't going to focus on the barbecue so much as be a general southern dining restaurant. My presumption had been that it was going to have table service as well.

Both of these things may be 'day two features' that will come after the kinks have been worked out. We'll have to see. Right now they are only going to be open on the weekends, Friday - Sunday, allowing them time during the week to continue with the work.

Another important note is that they don't yet have a liquor license. I had assumed that getting one would be impossible given our byzantine liquor authority rules and the school and the churches just down the block, but it sounds like that is something they expect to have soon.

I'll be visiting several more times in the coming weeks, so expect more details along the way. I can't begin to convey how excited I am to have a place like this just down the block from home. Already I've met a neighbors that I've only ever said 'hi' to on the street. I felt a sense of community I haven't truly felt in the 20-odd years I've been living in Bed-Stuy. I'll definitely be there to support them as much and as often as I can.

July 8, 2008

Bed-Stuy: The Petition

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Last weekend, I sacrificed one political belief for another. Out of the blue one Saturday morning, the door rang. It was a petitioner collecting signatures to get some democratic candidates on the ballot. I was tempted to just tell him to buzz off. Door to door anything tends to get on my nerves. Worse, the petition was for a couple politicians I'm not so fond of.

Ed Towns and Velmanette Montgomery have been 'representing' me for the entirety of my 22 years in Brooklyn. They have managed to stay in office, as far as I can tell without ever sticking their necks out or taking a stand on anything. It's been a point of annoyance of mine for a long time. People have fought for ages to get Black folks into positions of influence. Yet these people have broken no ground. They've done nothing but continue the long tradition of ethnic patronage politics. Those politicians of the 'movement' generation took positions in groundswells of support and have done nothing appreciable but grown roots. Worse, those like Major Owens and Una Clarke have tried to pass their positions down to their children like a family heirloom. And we've continued to put them in office, in part because we've got no better options, but also in part because we can't be bothered to demand better.

I could have gone on and on about why these two candidates do not have my support. But the petitioner caught my attention. He was in his teens or early, early twenties, dressed 'as the kids do these days' with a T-shirt that went down to his knees and a baseball cap turned just so over his Do-rag.

I couldn't reject someone like that who was actually playing some appreciable part in the process. Hell, he's playing more of a part than I am. I've never volunteered. Not once have I gone out and done anything besides vote for my candidate of choice. So, given the fact that this kid was here at my door on a Saturday morning, I couldn't bring myself to turn him away. I signed it.

June 4, 2008

Supermarket Finds: Beer Cans


IMG00082.jpg, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

FoodTown, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. 2007.

May 28, 2008

What's Old is New Again on the A Train


IMG_8754, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

For the uninitiated, please excuse the subway geekery, for the subway geeks, please excuse the lack of precision. I'm into subways enough to notice when the MTA changes hardware, but not enough to memorize model numbers.

In the last few weeks, I've been seeing this relic circulating around the A line, my local train. The first time ,I thought it was a part of a movie shoot at Hoyt & Schermerhorn, where I believe they have been shooting parts of the Taking of Pelham 123. But then I started seeing it again and again to the point that I'm seeing them almost everyday now.

i mei on Flickr posted some shots of one and we've discussed this sudden mystery, but neither of us has any clue to it's reappearance.

It's an odd thing, because I haven't really seen this model around in years, yet suddenly it's back in rotation. I have to wonder if this is a money-saving attempt on the MTA's part. I'm all for it if it means more trains in the schedule, but somehow I expect the answer to be less in the interest of the riders than that.

May 6, 2008

Graffiti of the Day: Post No Bills


IMG_8143, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

C215, Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 2008.

C215 is another newcomer to NYC. Early this year these have popped up around the city. I've only come across a couple, but Luna Park has a whole set, complete with a bunch of links.

April 28, 2008

My First Brooklyn Bike Ride

Yesterday, after buying my new bike out in Red Hook, Tammi and I rode around Brooklyn and then back home. Tammi was my 'wingman,' following behind me on her rollerblades. I was really nervous at first, but managed to get home without incident. I wasn't sure that I'd be riding much when I first decided to get the bike, now I'm planning my next ride for later this week.

I'm heavily resisting joining the bike cult. I will be locking up my bike outside occasionally, I won't be going to any critical mass rallies any time soon.
::c::

December 18, 2007

Ornaments: Argentinian Nativity


IMG_1781.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Purchased in Buenos Aires, November 2006.
::c::

December 17, 2007

Ornaments: Maui Sea Turtle


IMG_1399.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Purchased in Maui, Hawaii. November 2005.

December 16, 2007

Trimming the Tree

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IMG_1485.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Yesterday afternoon Tammi and I bought our first tree for our home together. Instead of trudging out to Fort Greene and going to Gardel's, we discovered that Bread Stuy is selling trees just down the block.

This afternoon, we decorated in our traditional way, to the sounds of Ella, The Jackson 5 and Charlie Brown among others. We dug up the ornaments we've collected from our various travels and a new set of lights and got to it.

I think I'll post a few of these souvenir ornaments, to remember along the line. Every year at least one shatters, and I would love to have a record of them before they go.
::c::

November 5, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: NSiTe


IMG_7454, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn.
::c::

October 27, 2007

How to Lose a Pound and a Half in 10 Minutes


IMG_9434, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

After I got home from Nashville, I did something I hadn't done in 8 years:

I cut my hair.

I've been getting sick of the long hair for a while. It was just getting in the way. I could have trimmed it, but I went a slightly more drastic route. It still needs work. I'm not sure how I feel about it yet, but here it is...
::c::

October 23, 2007

Pork Confit

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I've always been intrigued by duck confit. It hits the slow cooking impulse and is made even more appealing just based on the somewhat unusual method of cooking in it's own fat.

When it came down to actually making duck confit myself, I've always found it to be terribly impractical. The price of duck legs is never quite economical when compared to a whole duck and the cost of duck fat is not cheap for a relatively small portion that will probably not have another use. Part of what appealed to me about making confit is that it seems like the sort of thing that should be easily done with parts on hand. And I'm sure it was 200 years ago. These days, not so much.

On Eric's recommendation, I bought "The Whole Beast" by Fergus Henderson a few weeks ago. I pretty much read it cover to cover. His writing style is so unlike any I've ever read in a cookbook.

When I got to the section on confit and discovered that he doesn't limit the method to ducks, it was a revelation. Immediately I wanted to give it a try. The recipe is ridiculously simple, especially if you pathologically keep home-rendered lard in the house, which I do.

The Foodtown in Bed-Stuy sells pork shoulders cut into slices with a band saw and packaged back together. It was great for pork steaks. Or would have been if the meat wasn't so tender that many of the steaks broke into yummy bite sized chunks before hitting the table.

Continue reading "Pork Confit" »

Nuts!


IMG_8687 - Version 2, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

According to SlashFood this morning, today is "National Nut Day." I usually don't give any of that stuff a second thought, but the fact is I had these on hand since I made them as a snack for Saturday night. Also, I'm exactly juvenile enough to be highly amused by talking about my roasted nuts, so there's that too...

I got the recipe months ago from an episode of Nigella. She adapted the recipe from Union Square Cafe. The recipe is posted on The Food Network's site. I adjusted it by adding more pepper and using a lot more butter.

::c:

October 22, 2007

Open For Business

This weekend Tammi and I hosted our first guests at the Apartment. After nearly 7 months, we finally have the place presentable, albeit with some boxes and laundry bags hidden away in corners and crevices.

Saturday night, Robert and Mary allowed us to repay all the wonderful hospitality they've shown us over the years. I came up with a remarkably stress-free meal, which was the biggest surprise. Typically my menus have me sweating away in the kitchen for days before and then throughout the evening.

This time is was mostly a matter of chopping, tossing and sauteing. The most exotic part of the meal was the centerpiece, pork confit that I prepared a week before (more on that later), and all that took was reheating them sticking in the broiler.

The laidback pace was perfect. It left me time to spend relaxing in great company.

Of course there was plenty of food left, so the next day Eric, Marni and Anna came through and hung out over the last of the pork - I saved a batch just for the occasion. Eric picked up some charcuterie from a place in Chelsea I'm definitely going to have to check out.

It was so much fun to spend the weekend at home with friends. I missed that a lot and I'm glad to have the opportunity again.

October 18, 2007

Rosell Boher Champagne


IMG_8540, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Last Friday was 4 years since Tammi and I started dating. To celebrate I made dinner and opened up a couple special bottles.
I bought this sparkling in Buenos Aires last fall. It's from a limited release of 9500 bottles. I have been saving it for a special occasion just like this.

This may very well be the best sparkling I've ever had. The taste was one you'd expect from a rosé. The flavor of black cherry was so strong, it reminded me of a kriek lambic beer. What was amazing was that it wasn't cloyingly sweet as a lot of fruity sparklings can be.

When it was done, I was irritated that I couldn't go out and get another. So, a hint to any friends who may be going down to Buenos Aires any time soon. This would make a fantastic gift to that special writer/photographer/geek.

September 5, 2007

Nesting Season

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Where did the summer go?

It's only been a couple days since Labor Day, yet summer already seems to be long gone. This August was one of the coolest on record, but I'd swear I already feel a chill in the air that wasn't there last week.

Tammi and I spent much of the weekend feathering our nest. We mostly stayed in, finally decorating the apartment and stocking up on groceries. I think that from Friday to Monday I may have spent the most time at home since moving in. It was good to settle in a bit after being out of town so much, but I was a little stir crazy by Monday.

May 10, 2007

You can't go home again

After putting it off for almost a month, I finally went back to my old place a couple weeks ago to pick up the last few things left. My old landlord, Patrick had been calling me about it. I needed to just get it done. Honestly, I'd been a little apprehensive about going back, in part because of how strange it was to see it emptied out. The orange walls were bare and every sound echoed back at me.

That apartment was my home for 8 years.

When I got there, Patrick and his wife, Gloria were there talking to the guy they brought in to fix up the place. I could hear the same creepy echo from the hall, then I walked in. They had re-painted the apartment a bland off-white. The warm orange glow was gone.

It was so disturbing, it was all I could do to grab the last of my stuff and get out of there.

Patrick and Gloria gave me a ride to the new apartment and in the end it reminded me of the day I was dropped off at college.

May 9, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Stay Rusty


Stay High 149, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Stay High 149, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn.

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April 23, 2007

Dispatches from the Shuttle Zone

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This weekend the neighborhood saw it's third weekend without A train service.

(I think the MTA does this sort of thing periodically to show us how poor service could be. )

Anyone trying to get from Utica Ave (where we are) to Jay street or anywhere between has to take a shuttle bus, braving crowds of hundreds of other passengers. You don't quite realize how many people fit on a subway train until you try to fit them on a bus. It just doesn't work.

We've detoured and worked around in order to avoid taking the shuttle buses, but this weekend there was no other way.

Shockingly, the MTA actually had their stuff together. There was an army of fluorescent-vest-clad minions doing everything they could to let everyone know where they were going. They yelled "EXPRESS TO JAY" and "ONE STOP TO JAY" and "THIS BUS ONLY GOES TO JAY STREET" over and over again. They chanted and gestured and pointed.

This didn't stop people from running off of the bus at the last minute saying, "This _only_ stops at Jay?" and wandering around bitching that they didn't know which bus to take.

People are dumb.

We've got two more weekends of this nonsense. Once it's all done, I hope my commute gets faster. The trains have been crawling through the areas where the track work is being done.

April 20, 2007

Solomon's Porch: An Eclectic Neighborhood Eatery

(Originally posted on The Brooklyn Record):

Solomon's Porch

If you find yourself in in Bed-Stuy this weekend, stop in at Solomon's Porch, a café, performance space and neighborhood gathering spot: It's a solid choice for good food in a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere.

The menu offers food as varied as Moroccan Chicken Skewers and a Lamb and Black Bean Chili, as well as pub-food staples like Buffalo Wings, Calamari and Hamburgers. The burger isn't worth the time it takes to cook, but the wings are terrific, fried crisp and doused with a spicy, vinegary hot sauce. My only complaint is that they serve too few of them in an order. Conversely, the Chicken Skewers were bigger than we had expected. The two skewers each carry three juicy chunks of rosemary scented chicken.
After the jump: what to drink with your poultry.

Photo by ultraclay!.

Continue reading "Solomon's Porch: An Eclectic Neighborhood Eatery" »

April 4, 2007

No New Commute


IMG_3257.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Taking the L into Manhattan turns out not to be as speedy as I had hoped. It took me just over an hour to get to work today. That's no good.

On the plus side, I did see these guys performing on the train.
::c::

Common Grounds on BR

After a bit of a hiatus, I'm writing again for the Brooklyn Record. In addition to my usual beer stories, I'll be doing the Bed-Stuy beat, as I explore the neighborhood more.

Yesterday, my piece on Common Grounds went up. I'm working on some more restaurant and bar reviews as well.

Also see my post on the weekend service changes on the A Train.

April 3, 2007

New Restaurant Alert: Common Grounds

(Originally Posted on The Brooklyn Record):

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Common Grounds, a new coffee house in Bed-Stuy, opened in early March as the latest addition to the burgeoning Tompkins Avenue strip. I first heard about it when the owner of Ibo Landing, a block away, insisted that we go over and check it out. It was a chilly Sunday afternoon, and patrons in their church clothes warmed up with coffee, relaxing on the couches in the back to a soundtrack of gospel music.

When we walked in, the first thing we noticed was the aroma of freshly made Belgian waffles wafting through the air. The waffles are served hot off the griddle with crisp edges and a soft, fluffy middle. Common Grounds also serves panini sandwiches, soups, salads and pastries, but clearly the main attraction is the waffles, which come topped with maple syrup and butter, honey and walnuts, or fresh fruit. Personally, I'm waiting for the homemade ice cream, which will be available in coming weeks.

Continue reading "New Restaurant Alert: Common Grounds" »

March 5, 2007

Food: Hot Wings

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I mentioned in passing recently that I've been on a serious Buffalo Wings kick lately. It's still there. I've probably had hot wings from maybe 10 different places in the last month, not counting the set I made myself last weekend for a friend's party.

Last night I found a topic on Chowhound on the Top 5 Chicken Wings
. Here was what I came up with:

Atomic Wings
at
Down the Hatch
were some of the first Buffalo Wings I had as a kid. In high school we'd have to order them to go because we weren't allowed to stay in the bar. They're a little scrawny, but still tasty. And with 6 levels of spice, you'll get them just as hot as you want.

I used to love the plump, saucy wings at Uno's, but they changed the recipe a couple years ago and it's just not the same.

A week or so ago I had some good wings in Brooklyn at Solomon's Porch in Bed-Stuy. I posted about it a week or so ago. Per my earlier post,

"They were crisply fried and topped with a spicy, vinegary hot sauce. It left my mouth tingly and happy. My only complaint was that it only included 6 wings instead of the customary 10."

I love the Honey Hot wings at Croxley's on Ave B. The sweetness of the honey adds a great balance to the spice. I love it. And now I want some...

::c::

Continue reading "Food: Hot Wings" »


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