Thursday, December 20, 2012

Food Sing 88 Corp.

Besides having an almost perfect name, Food Sing 88 Corp. is an almost perfect spot for the mid-winter blues. The only problem is that it is not on my corner.

How many of these brisk mornings do you wake and crave a big noodle-y, meat filled bowl of broth and flavor?  For me, it's about 2 of every 3 days.

So, with hand-pulled noodles swimming in my brain from my encounter with a little place in Bensonhurst, I set out to get more.

Enter Food Sing 88 Corp.

Located at 2 East Broadway, right near the Chatam Square statue, this hand-pulled noodle spot is full of charm.

Clean looking and alive with the sound of slurping eaters, the service was fast and the effect immediate. I barely told our waitress what I wanted and she already had it ready. I joked that she was holding it behind her back when I ordered and just pulled it out and gave it to me on demand.

The soup was delicious.

That's my bowl of "han-pulled noodle with pork chop." Yes, han-pulled. Yes.

For $5.50 there is plenty of pork chop and noodle, some little spinach leaves (you know, cause vegetables are important) and little sour bits of pickled vegetable. It's a great deal and an excellent lunch/snack/meal. Call it what you will; just call it.

For another 50 cents you can get some lamb parts in your soup instead of pork chops. Also, the broth is slightly different, with the addition of star anise and other spices (mainly star anise).

This is what my friend Matt got during our lunch date. Yeah lunch date. Yeah you're jealous. I know it.

I must note that his soup looked a little more cloudy than mine. I do not necessarily know why, but I had a few spoonfuls here and there and it was also delicious. The addition of star anise was an excellent touch considering the lamb (complete with chewy skin parts!)

Real quick, Pros recap:
Fast service
Overall satisfying and delicious
Inexpensive and filling
Clean and inviting
Also, the bathroom was nice. Always a plus, but not how I judge a restaurant.

I need to discuss the noodles for a minute.

As a hand-pulled noodle spot, undoubtedly they take pride in their noodles.
With great texture and consistency, as well as ample amount, I was overall pleased with the noodles and would eat here again. The noodles were filling, they were not gummy nor did they have a starchy, sticky texture or mouth feel.
The noodles needed a little time to hang out in the broth. They needed to soak a little of that porky flavor and to mellow out in the symphony that was this soup. Upon first bite, the noodles lacked the serious noodle-y flavor I was searching out. They did not disappoint however. After about 3 full minutes, they were as fantastic as a hand pulled noodle joint ought to be.

Go here and eat food. Do it.

I went here again today because it's delicious, and I must say that the pork chop and the first beef item on the Hand Pulled Noodle list are probably the best. The broth for the lamb was great, but the pieces are a little funky, albeit satisfying (ie. order lamb if you really like lamb and don't mind skin.)

The short rib hand pulled noodle is not as good as the regular beef. Also, the noodles were just as good today as last time, and I had no problems with noodle-y flavors (full flavor).

While I was eating today, a man next to me had ordered a non-soup item that looked pretty tasty. I suppose this means the rest of the menu is good as well.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Bytes and Sites: Yuletide

With Chanukah days behind us and Christmas on the rise, it's about time to start thinking about the Yuletide. (the period from Dec. 24th through Jan. 6th)

Not only is the internet full of awesome presents and great party/entertaining ideas, but there will be all manner of sales during this period of holiday magic.

Maybe you don't have time to make Christmas cookies, and maybe you're tired of eating latkes already (pshh, not likely) but many of these recipes taste good even when it's not a holiday.

One of my favorite times of year is when hams go on sale. In college one of my favorite meals to bring for lunch and to eat at home was (and still is) ham with white rice and sweet icebox pickles.

Check out Saveur's recipe for a honey and clove fresh ham. The stuff of legend.

Seriously I ate it for five days in a row pretty often. Salty, fatty ham is an excellent counterpoint to sweet, vinegary pickled peppers and onions - balanced out by warm, fluffy, starchy rice. Perfect!

I would make the pickles as soon as I knew hams were about to go on sale so that when the time came, all my pickles would be ready for me. Then all I needed was one day to make a ham and a bunch of rice, and viola!

Anyway, here's a bytes and sites mash-up of all the great Yuletide things now and to come.

For the Adult-Kid in all of us, here are some boozy hot chocolate recipes:

This is to replace egg-nog at all times. Please do not serve me egg-nog. Please serve me hot chocolate with booze in it. Sure, you can put Baileys instead of milk, but that doesn't necessarily make it good. Follow these few recipes and you'll have some hot chocolate to be proud of. Not some dorm-room Swiss Miss with marshmallow vodka.

Nutella Hot Chocolate : Nutella all the time. Best served straight from the jar, preferably on a finger, but I will also accept this hot drink with hazelnut liqueur. Just be sure to use all of the liqueur. Seriously, what are you going to do with leftover hazelnut liqueur? (the answer is coffee)

Cinnamon, Mezcal, and Chili Hot Chocolate : Serious Mexican flavors from I want this more spicy and less ingredients. Really, it's got one hundred percent more ingredients that Saveur's choco-concoction but worth every step.

Bittersweet Chocolate with Red Wine : Because you need to make good with someone's mom. And we all know moms love chocolate and wine. And we all know there is always a mom to impress.

Don't go crazy drinking all these alcoholic things, maybe make them for friends. We all know that you're getting enough calories just from the phrase "holiday time." So take it easy on the liquid chocolate, Santa.

Gift Season!

Here are a lot of gift ideas. Get me some. It's cool, I like gifts, and I've read all these gift compilations so I'll know how much you spent.

Bon Appetit Holiday Gift Guide : Full of great ideas like an ENTIRE JAMON SERRANO LEG (wink, wink rich friends) it also has lots of small and/or practical gifts like retro candy and Almdudler Limonade cans.

Saveur's Holiday Gift Guide 2012 : Check out the Edible gift guide, some of them are great, like single varietal honeys, Olympic Provisions sausages, and travelling bitters set. Some are not so great, like the hexagon spice kit, and the foil wrapped chocolate ornament (just make them boozy hot chocolate.) But all are better than just straight candy-canes.

Also, This, because I think these are awesome if impractical.

If you've read this entire post, I applaud you, because frankly, after the ham and the Nutella Hot Chocolate, I stopped paying attention myself and just started eating Nutella straight from the jar again.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Poetry Corner

Bringing back poetry corner.

Trying to bring back regular posting as well.

If you'd like to see all the poems I've written so far, click the 'poem' tag in the labels section on the right of the screen.

This next poem is part of the Bacon series.


The visual world is nothing
compared to the nasal heaven
that comes from crisping bacon.
A sight to die for,
let alone a smell.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Cheese Me! Please Me!

It is no secret that I love cheese. I work in a cheese shop. Yes I eat awesome artisan American cheeses. I also still love Polly-O string cheese. String cheese forever.

A friend of mine, we shall call him Andrew to protect his identity (his real name is Andrew), also works at a cheese shop.

I went to visit him on my day off. Because what could be better on a day off from my cheese shop but to visit a different cheese shop?!

He works for Saxelby Cheesemongers at the Essex Street market. For those that haven't been to the Essex Market recently, it's a great place to visit if you like to look at a lot of old Hispanic folks, need to get some Heritage Meats, or generally enjoy markets.

There are several awesome things about this market.

One of which is Saxelby. They have great cheese. They did not pay me to endorse them.

Their shtick is only stocking cheese from the North East of AMERICA. Yeah that's right, suck it European cheese. (except Parmesan, you sir, can stay)

Anyway I got this frickin' grilled cheese and it was awesome.
Yeah, you see that?
Yes. This is three pictures of the same grilled cheese sandwich.

That's how good it was to eat. You should see the pictures I took that didn't make the cut. Naughty stuff.

In general, Saxelby is a great place to get great cheese. You're going to pay for it. It will not be cheap. But it will be better than any other cheese. This sandwich costs seven dollars and is worth it.

 Now I'm off to make my own grilled cheese with Kraft American singles and Campbell's tomato soup. Cause what could be better after a grilled cheese, but more grilled cheese.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Hand Pull Noodles and Dumpling House

I needed to get my grub on.
I met up with a friend, and his dad suggested Hand Pull Noodle and Dumpling House.
Great suggestion.

So the three of us made the move over to Bensonhurst, pointing out old favorites and worthy newcomers. Old Italian specialties and the new Asian crowd.

We pulled up to the dive-y looking noodle and dumpling joint ready to feast.
Upon entering I noticed the chef prepping, slapping noodles on the counter in back only to fold them on themselves and set them aside for later. 

A real mom-and-pop joint, complete with little kids and grandma nannies, the service was casual and forgetful, but most of all sincere.

Appetizers and entrees came out as they were ready, in no particular order.

We ordered Hot and Spicy Bok Choy, thinking we'd get a fried dish.
It was Bok Choy kim-chi.
Cold, spicy and fermented - we nibbled a little. I added it to my soup later on and it was a fine addition. Not a repeat buy, nor a worthy picture. It really just made me want to make my own kim-chi. 

Dumplings were absolutely necessary as they are part of the namesake.
They delivered the goods! The dumplings were delicious.
The kind of place I could go and get a few orders of dumplings for lunch and be totally satisfied. 
Steamed dumplings filled with flavorful pork and spices. Wonderfully pleated and steamed, needing little accompaniment.

No plates.
Grab a little dish near the chopsticks and add some sauce. Or eat your dumpling as-is because they're really freakin' good.

Next up is meat sauce over hand pulled noodles. Served with steamed bok choy.
This is awesome sauce.
Although this was not my dish, we all had the spirit of sharing. It certainly was delicious. I would definitely order this next time as there is something about fresh noodles and saucy, fatty meat that really speaks to me.
I really wish I lived across the street from this place.

My food came out next.
Fresh Shrimp Wonton with hand pulled noodles in soup.
This was really good.

Wontons with full, fresh shrimp in addition to regular ground pork and noodles with great consistency and flavor.
This is the kind of dish you would expect at a noodle and dumpling house.
The broth was lightly porky and flavored with star anise - flavorful enough to stand on it's own, but simple enough to welcome additions.
So, I added some vinegar, hot chilies and soy sauce to pick it all up.

My friend Ezra got this next dish.
Rib Tips over fried noodle.
The rib tips were deep fried and crispy, slicked with a sweet and tangy sauce that fit really well with the rest of the food. The kind of saucy meat you want to wrap a bunch of noodles around. I ate a few of these bad boys. The noodles were lightly stir fried.

And now, as a bonus, here is a picture of my soup after the additions.
I'm holding up the noodles because the first picture doesn't look like there are so many noodles. Believe me, there are plenty.

If you look in the very top right corner of this picture you will see some food that I have not talked about.
The fried buns.
Similar to dumplings in composition, these buns had a great wrapper and crisp edge, but the filling was lacking and made me wish we had more steamed dumplings.

Also, fyi, dumplings are available to buy frozen, 50 at a time.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Bytes and Sites: T-Giving

Every dining section, food blog, website and more are stuck in a full-on nose dive towards Thanksgiving.

We can't help it. 
It's the food holiday above all others. 

Sure, some of us still talk about what we are thankful for, and probably more so after this Sandy debacle, but for the most part, people just want somewhere to eat the meal they look forward to all year.

Here are some resources to make this all easier.

This little gem is from the NY Times' archives from 2009. It should also be said that this doesn't have to just be Thanksgiving ideas. A lot of these would be really easy and delicious for everyday life. Make some. Try it.

Bittman has a good point; most of the issues are from not enough space on the stove. 
So plan ahead peoples.

Here is a good way to plan ahead:

It includes some pretty useful ideas, like Thanksgiving for Two and Vegetarian Thanksgiving, as well as some pretty awesome menus like Elegant French and Chesapeake Bay Thanksgiving.

Maybe you just want to read through some of these for ideas.

Please read this article from Bon Appetit. Please read this. Please.

How to Carve a Turkey

Because whether you're doing it or not, everyone should know how to carve a bird. A turkey is just a large chicken anyway.

Now, I just need to say:
We're having goose this year.
I'm excited.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

For The Love of Meat

Meat! For the love of Meat!
Smoked meat.
Cured meat.
Sliced meat.

You don't have to go to Greenpoint for awesome Polish deli's full of smoked sausages you've never heard of. If you've been to a Polish deli without a translator present, you know what I mean. Too many szc and kw combos to even try and pronounce. Point to things. It's probably your best option. If something looks really dark, it's probably double smoked. If it's thin, it's probably dry. If it's available, get it. Invite some friends. Tell them to bring mustard.

Jubilat Provisions, at 608 5th ave (and 17th st), provides those of us in the middle of Brooklyn with the kielbasa and double smoked pork that fulfill our desire for smoked meat and homemade stuffed cabbage, head cheese, dense bread and pickles galore.

Thank you Jubilat for making this kind of spread available.

I make trips to this little deli when I get the hankering for cheap awesome pork. I've talked about it before, when fish was available, but recently it's been all meat and stuffed cabbage, polish donuts and Lithuanian bread. (Awwwesome.)

I love this place. I want this place to continue on. I don't see enough people in here and I want to change that. I want people to go here for great sandwich meat; out-of-the-ordinary amazing meat. I want people to go here and buy a big fat kielbasa and make sauerkraut and sausage at their house. Start a new tradition. Get meat from someone who smoked it themselves.

Go out and get some. FYI this is smoked, rib-in pork belly that is deep fried and then sliced for your convenience. I ate it with mustard, blanched string beans and thick rye bread.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


This article immediately caught my attention, and judging from its place at the top of the "most emailed" list, it seems it caught many other people's attention as well. I need to share.

Because Peanut Butter and Pickle sandwiches exist.

I definitely have had bacon parties before, constructing the ubiquitous Elvis as part of the fun. But now it seems it's time for a Peanut Butter party.

(I've had pickle parties before too!)

I'm going to make a Peanut Butter Party. You can be sure of it. I'll announce it too. And you can RSVP to it. And bring a friend.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Bytes and Sites

First, Halloween is closing in on us, and with it, tons of candy. Trust me, even adults are getting in on the candy. No one is safe. We may not be eating a pillowcase full, but we're going to be eating some.

I for one, will not be eating candy corn. And apparently neither is this guy:

Way to go dude. I would have written that article for bon appetit years ago. Also your pictures make me gag.

Also, bon appetit wins a lot of awards from me today because of their Snoop Dogg (double g!) Hot Pocket Video Repost.

This video is amazing, especially if you remember the original with Pharrell. This has the added bonus of Andy Milonakis. I can't believe he's still alive.

"I gotta heat it up to eat it up," says Snoop.

Thank you bon appetit for the junk food.

The Times today (ny) had two great articles in the Dining & Wine section. It comes out every Wednesday, but a lot of times they release some articles a day or so early on their website. So this first one I didn't catch earlier in the week, which I guess makes it more fun to open the paper come Wednesday.

The Snail Wrangler This lady is a boss. She also loves snails. I don't blame her. I love snails too, just not the way she does. You can tell she's about one step away from making snail porn. I would love to eat some of her snails and snail caviar, but I think it's highly unlikely.

Burmese Cooking (Currently Myanmar) has flavor profiles that are very familiar for me. After I read this article early yesterday morning, it was nice to see it so prominently displayed today.

A Burmese friend of mine, and culinary companion, gives me some pointers and suggestions when I want to make Burmese food. 
Most recently she said, "You already got everything but try to add some greens. A ton of fish sauce ruin salad."
And this is why I love her.

Also, I want the book that this lady wrote called Japanese Farm Food.

Check out her blog for some great pictures and a look into what you might expect from her book (or living in Japan for that matter)

For those of you that need a little food porn in your life, I give you Saveur's prime article for today:

Poutine That picture is slutty.

This should keep you busy for an hour.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fennel Haters Need Not Apply

Under-appreciated by licorice haters everywhere, fennel gets a bad rep.  It's an incredibly versatile vegetable that can be eaten raw, roasted, braised, grilled, sauteed, stewed - the list goes on.

Seriously, the raw bulb is crunchy and slightly spiced, perfect for fall salads with apples and walnuts or any combination of fruit, nut, vegetable. They'll be a few salad suggestions to follow.

Roasted fennel takes on a sweetness that cuts the licorice edge that so many haters hate on.

In fact, I roasted some fennel and cipollini onions with coriander and lemon. Here is a picture. I'll eat it with grilled pork chops, or leftover roast lamb, or oily, full-flavored fish. Or whatever, it's awesome, you get the point right? (Actually I'm having it with merguez sausage, dbj.)

I've enjoyed the compilation posts thus far (blueberry, tomato) and I think I'll continue with another fantastic ingredient, and one that seldom gets the recognition it deserves.


First up, soups and salads, appetizers and such.

Fennel Apple Spritzer
 - Because we're adults and this doesn't have to be nonalcoholic. I suggest clear Rum, but by all means experiment. Applejack, whiskey, tequila?

Carrot and Fennel Soup - A great intro for those that can't take the full fennel plunge. The sweetness of the carrots helps curb the fennel's bite.

Pickled Fennel
 - Because it wouldn't be my blog unless something was pickled

Quinoa, Fennel, Pomegranate salad - This is for the ladies (come on, quinoa/pomegranate) and the vegans, and the people that make a shitload of one thing and eat it for lunch for a week and want others to be jealous. Lunch people should poach chicken or fry sausage patties in addition.

Fennel, Sunchoke, Apple salad - Wait, salad? Oh yeah, throw some pork on this, and serve it at a fancy dinner party. People won't believe that you know what sunchokes are. (Oh you don't? Here's some info)

Alright, so you've met my friend fennel, and you're ready to invite him to some parties. Cause, you know, he's such a cool guy.

Corn and Fennel Ragu - Comfort food style, you know. Just the word Ragu sounds good. Serve this with hot smoked salmon (aka kippered) and maybe some polenta cakes.

Cornish Game Hens
 - Everybody loves little chickens. Also Meyer lemons which have just come into season make this especially good.

Roasted Squash and Fennel - Sometimes you need to know the basics, this will help you build the dishes that will wow yourself and those lucky enough to join you. And because you want to make an awesome side dish for your lamb, or those frisky vegetarians that are making baked artichokes.

Flavorful Tomato sauce - This is for fun pasta shapes like fusilli, orrechiette, and farfalle. Kid shapes and grown-up sauce.

Alright so you wanna get real on these people. You want to wow them in ways that they didn't even know were possible.

Monkfish with Fennel and Garlic - Because Monkfish is delicious and seldom used by home cooks. Don't be afraid. Embrace.

Octopus with fennel - Fennel and seafood pair so wonderfully, and nobody ever cooks octopus. This will make you feel sophisticated and Mediterranean. Your friends will ask if you learned this in Europe, and you can lie about visiting Crete. Only for the truly badass.

Grilled Fresh Sardines with Fennel and Preserved Lemon - Yeah that's right. You're probably already salivating.

Anyone still have room for dessert?

Apple and Caramelized Fennel Tart - It's a perfect fall/winter dessert.

Bonus Recipe!

Roasted Fennel with Cipollini onions.

One Large fennel bulb
about six cipollini onions
1 tsp. coriander seeds
juice of 1/2 a lemon
zest from 1/2 a lemon
olive oil (to coat)
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Cut the fennel in half vertically. Take out most of the core. Cut into strips, try and keep them attached, you want them to be relatively thick. Save some fronds for garnish.

Cut the cipollini's in half so that each half has a little bit of the root end. Take off the skin, but leave the root so that they stay connected.

Toss fennel, onions, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and coriander together until everything is coated.

Place on a foil lined cookie sheet and roast for 30-40 minutes or until soft and colorful.
Garnish with zest and reserved fronds.

Serve with pork chops or oily fish (mackerel, sardines, etc.)

Later Haters!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Himalayan High's

Top Cafe Tibet sits tucked away between a train station and a bodega in the heart of Brooklyn.

Even though it is less that one block from my house and next to my train station, it still feels like a remote location, channeling the faraway, impossibly high Himalayas.

But on a drab rainy day, you'll want to brave the elements to find this homey, tiny restaurant.

Make the trek and you'll be rewarded with foods that seem both familiar and exotic. Something hauntingly intimate about this small restaurant and it's delicious foods will keep you coming back.

Tapping into the comfort receptors in your brain, their Tsam-Thuk soup will bring you back to life and make you sleepy. One bowl induces groans of pleasure and nap-time related drowsiness .

 Tsam-Thuk is a Tibetan soup that uses roasted barely, or Tsampa, to thicken the broth and provide a roasted, earthy flavor that embraces your taste buds, giving them a hug and telling you everything is going to be okay. It's laced with shredded carrots and daikon, sprinkled with fresh spinach. Tiny "shredded" beef cubes are studded throughout the ridiculously silky broth if you order the meat version. The soup is also available without meat for a vegan experience.

It's got a I've-been-eating-this-my-whole-life feel to it that is very soul-soothing.

I imagine the most authentic would be yak meat, but that may be one thing Brooklyn does not have. Or maybe I'm not looking hard enough.

Soup is certainly not all they do here. They've got plenty of Tibetan specialties and are well known for their momo's, or Tibetan dumplings.

I managed to grab a side of Chana-Khatsa; mixed chickpeas with ginger, garlic, lemon and hot sauce. Sprinkled with cilantro. Everything should be sprinkled with cilantro. All the time.

This side is delicious in it's own right, but for me, was even better as an addition to my soup! Every few bites I dropped a few tiny chickpeas into the rich broth, adding just a hint of the creamy hot sauce each time. The hot sauce was incredibly thick, but not overly spicy. It had just enough kick to let you know it was there. It also looks like melted Velveta.

Let Top Cafe Tibet be your Sherpa into the culinary Himalayas.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hole in One!

Everybody has a hole-in-the-wall spot they love. We love.

We eat there when we're in the neighborhood, we eat there when we get a craving for the kind of food only they can provide. We eat there every chance we get.

It's a go-to spot for cheap filling food.
It's a go-to spot to be alone.
It's a go-to spot to bring friends.

We share. We love.

Here's one of my hole-in-the-wall spots. (of course I have several, duhhh)

Bliss Bakery. It's not on any review sites, and it's hard to find. So I'll give you the address. 1412 Avenue U, Brooklyn, NY. It's right next to an awesome market.

Located in the heart of Brooklyn's Avenue U Chinatown, this little bakery offers more than the standard Asian bakery. In addition to the obligatory buns and rolls, this little gem boasts noodles, snacks and various goodies.

I went recently for lunch.
All three of these items cost a total of $4.75

Lo mei gai, my favorite handy snack is a touch different here. Instead of two layers of rice with chopped pork and mushrooms in the middle, everything is mixed together with the rice. This means more than one piece of Chinese Sausage! Yes!

Studded with shittakes and sausage, this sticky rice concoction is cheap, delicious and portable. Like so many good things are.

Tea eggs. 3 for a dollar or something like that. Maybe 25 cents each.
Hard boiled eggs cracked and steeped in a dark broth. The broth should impart a grassy tea flavor in addition to salt, spice and sweetness (everybody has their own recipe). Want to make them yourself? Try Saveur's recipe. Bliss certainly nails the salty and grassy elements of the egg, but the spices (usually 5-spice) are missing in this equation. 

The other item on the plate is a small container filled to the brim with hand rolled noodles and pork.
They literally fill both sides of the Styrofoam clam shell and snap it shut. They cut the extra noodles poking out the sides with a pair of scissors. $2.50 each. What!?

They've got thick noodles, thin noodles, long flat noodles, rice noodles, etc. etc. So, go nuts. Two for $5!

Oh, did I mention that all their baked goods are pretty good for a Chinese bakery? Aptly priced for sure.

They have some interesting sweets and some interesting savory baked goods (four-eye hot dog bun anyone?) but in general I come here for the noodle bar.

Where is your favorite hole-in-the-wall spot?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Viva Guayaba!

Not many North American pastries have guava jelly as an ingredient. But the tropical fruit is a perfect pairing for sweets. It's aromatic and luscious, a little goes a long way, and it reminds you of summer. (which really seems like yesterday)

Fortunately for us, Mexican pastry shops are making guava pastries. And because it's the authentic thing to do, they use lard in the dough. This makes for quite a combination. Slightly savory dough is offset by the borderline cloying sweetness of jelly. Awesome.

Perfect with cafe con leche on a brisk fall morning. There are many more Mexican and Hispanic bakeries around than you may think. After all, who else is going to bake you a cake for your QuinceaƱera?

Here are two guava pastries that I am quite fond of. The first, being enormous, is great to share and has the distinct advantage of being 3 blocks from my house at La Nueva Union bakery.

Two large yellow cake halves are held together with just enough guava jelly to offset the dryness of the dough. The entire thing is covered with sugar. This was the first guava jelly pastry I've had, and since have had it many times. It's led me to look for guava jelly in many other places.

See how yellow that cake is! Also, do you see how little jelly is in there? It's cool though cause it's balanced just right.

In Spanish, the word for guava is Guayaba. So ask "Tienes algo con guayaba?" Which translates to, "do you have something with guava?"

This guava jelly pastry is a little different, and the cafe I got it from had fantastic coffee - strong and hot.
It has decidedly more guava jelly for the amount of pastry there is. It's also a layered and flaky dough. It was no less fantastic than the first pastry, but had considerably more jelly in the middle!

I suggest you go out early, find a nice Hispanic bakery or coffee shop get a coffee and a guava pastry, and close your eyes when you take the first bite.

Trust me.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Vietnamese Addictions

Vietnamese food holds a special place in my heart. I literally could eat it every day. It's a borderline addiction.

Rice noodles, grilled meats, FISH SAUCE. It's all freakin' fantastic.
I can't get enough.

Now that August is over, it's okay to order a big bowl of soup. Still want something light? Get some rice vermicelli or lettuce wraps with mint. Whatever, order out of season; who cares? Just enjoy it.

I've realized that Vietnamese food is perfect for every season. In summer, the fresh vermicelli and cooling mint accentuate grilled pork and shrimp. Salty, briny, sweet fish sauce tastes much better when you've been sweating all day, replacing salts and electrolytes lost throughout the day. In winter, a fat bowl of Pho can nourish you in ways you cannot imagine, warming your stomach and soul. Banh Mi sandwiches are perfect for quick pick me ups during the crunchy leaves and hoodies of fall, or the crisp chilly evenings of springtime.

So here is my favorite place to eat Vietnamese food in Brooklyn. Next time I'll give you the Manhattan goods.

To be honest, I haven't found good Pho since I first discovered it and fell in love in Maryland. (So tell me where you get good pho in NYC!) I've tried places in the city, I've tried pho at my favorite restaurants. I haven't found good pho. Come colder weather, I'm going to need a fix.

First up, for my Brooklyn foodies, is Nha Trang Palace. (I think most of the yelp reviews are stupid, although some are helpful.)

This place is awesome. I love the delicious food, fast service, and ample fish sauce.

The dishes to get?

Rice Vermicelli with grilled beef and spring rolls. They have several variations of this. Recently I went with my sister and she got the beef. Delicious. The choice of meat is less important than the composure of the whole dish. Pickled daikon, carrots and spring onion bulbs, raw cucumber, a sprinkling of scallions and cilantro get the job in ways you have to taste to believe. I would also suggest you pour all of your fish sauce over the top. I also highly suggest the same dish with grilled pork and spring rolls.

Crispy squid with garlic sauce. The squid are crispy, with enough give and chew to make them joyous. The onions underneath and the shredded wilted lettuce are reason to get this dish alone. I fight for them when I share. It comes with a sweet chili sauce I don't even use. The garlic on this is not heavy brown bullshit like at the ghetto Chinese spots that riddle every corner in many NY neighborhoods. No, this sauce is lightly garlicky and sparingly applied. No swimming squid with this dish. Order rice on the side if you like. I usually dip my squid in  nuoc mam, or a mix of hoisin and Sriracha.

Spring rolls! (No matter what you order, get these.)
Served with mint and large romaine leaves, these crispy morsels start your meal off right, whetting your appetite and readying your palate for the pleasure to come.

These are so good, it's hard not to pick them up right away. They arrive promptly and are bubbling hot with oil, fresh from the fryer. Here's what the inside of these bad boys look like. Cheaper places will fill these with a vermicelli and egg mixture to stretch the meat. Not ideal. Nha Trang does not disappoint.

Grilled shrimp on tiny rice stick! In fact, any dish on tiny stick is awesome. Eat with your hands! It's another dish served with mint and lettuce leaves. I like this combination in particular. I also love that the rice stick soaks up a decent amount of the nuoc mam I pour over top. Sorry no pic of this one. It really is a stunning dish both visually and flavor wise. The tiny rice stick is a mat of cold tiny rice noodles that are cut into squares and layered underneath the shrimp.

Another fantastic dish is Marinated Beef cubes over salad. This dish is so good. So good.
The greens in the salad wilt slightly with the heat of the beef on top. It's a fantastic dish that can be called upon anytime you need a big meaty dish.

Oh man, I can eat almost anything here. Stay away from the dishes on the back of the menu that are sopping with ugly sauce and not worth the trouble.

I've been to this restaurant so many times and there are still things I have yet to try.

Although the soup is good, it often leaves something to be desired. So whatever; skip it, there's probably enough food on your table already. A lot of the locals and regulars will be slurping down soup around you; so if you're curious, go for it. I've had better, and I think the other dishes are too good to  pass up.

I just ate here, and I already want to go back right now. Did I mention my addiction to Viet food?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

August is Tomato Month

So I wrote an Ode to Blueberries earlier in berry season.
But I can't forget about the other wonderful super-fruit, tomato.

Check these delicious heirlooms from my backyard.

As the season progresses, the colors change as different plants fruit at different times. The pink ones are my personal favorite, as their low acid-high flavor profile is very agreeable. There would be more pink in this picture, but I am constantly snacking on them, sprinkled with salt and eaten out-of-hand. The others have their special characteristics as well, and combining them makes it all the better.

But here we go for recipes I've gleaned and deemed acceptable. You will not find a bread salad with tomatoes here. There will be no gazpacho. There will be no fresh salsa. You shouldn't need someone to tell you how to make salsa. You shouldn't be eating bread salad unless you're in Italy. Just saying.

Cherry Tomato and Vanilla Bean Preserves - Saveur suggests this is perfect with a triple cream goat cheese. I'm inclined to agree.

Tomato Confit - Also called Preserved Tomatoes, this dish looks great, and I'm sure would be fantastic with crusty bread and hummus.

Tomato Butter - Yeah. Maybe the easiest preparation in the line up. This will make toast and eggs magical.

Pickled Tomatoes - For those with a craving for an Eastern European style meal. Get some dark bread and hot smoked fish. Have some green borscht and sour cream while you're at it.

Tabbouleh - Great time of the year for this fresh herb powerhouse.

Tuna and Tomato Tartare - This just seems amazing. Having a few friends over and want to impress them? This.

Quesadillas with Squash Blossoms, Bacon and Tomato - God this sounds awesome.And you know what? No one needs a recipe for quesadillas. It's the idea that I want to share here.

Roasted Tomatoes - Grill some fish, cut up some crusty bread, and serve these tomatoes. You're welcome.

Roasted Tomato Risotto - Save this recipe for later in the season when creamy risotto is the perfect start to a long, beautifully chilly fall evening.

Tomato and Herb Tart - Puff pastry; tomatoes; Gruyere. Yes. Please.

Oven-Dried Tomato and Olive Tart - Because one tart is not enough. Puff pastry, olives and goat cheese make this tomato tart a winner. Please don't even think about using canned olives.

KETCHUP - Yeahhhhh. They call this tomato jam. But we can all see from the recipe, this is clearly ketchup. Have you had homemade ketchup? It's freaking fantastic.

Ketchup! - There's more than one way to skin a cat. Or a tomato. This recipe for ketchup involves more ingredients. Doesn't necessarily make it better - just different.

Okay you get it right? Okay good. Make some food. Or make your friends make food. Just make sure there's tomatoes involved. It's the season after all.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Old Friends

I've long loved double pan fried noodles. A dish introduced to me by my sister, who has been an advocate of this crispy, saucy meal for years.

Never a disappointment, this dish is one of my all-time comfort foods. I split this one with my sister earlier in the summer and the two of us polished off the whole plate. Just looking at it makes me feel good (and hungry.)

Thin, crispy fried noodles are tossed with meat, vegetables and brown sauce to create a myriad of textures and flavors.  Some of the noodles have become soft and limp with sauce, while others are still brittle and crispy. Bok Choy lines the plate, holding the sauce well, while providing a green crunch and multiple textures itself. The stalks crunchy and toothsome - the leaves soft and pliant. Snow peas, straw mushrooms and bamboo shoots round out the vegetable portion of the dish, with soft and meaty pork filling the protein component.

Another great aspect of this, is that it is generally very consistent from restaurant to restaurant. Of course some places make it better, but overall the concept and execution are the same.

I've found that cheaper restaurants have a disagreeable sauce laden with cornstarch and not much flavor. These places should be avoided for all their dishes.

This is one of my all time top comfort foods. What are some of yours?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Oh, Rats!

Have we all read this?

Dinner at an Exhibition

This is amazing.
This is why I love journalism.

I'm not going to be making rat anytime soon (well, maybe), but I will tell you that I condone this meal as artistic expression, personal experience and sense of accomplishment for both eaters and creators.

Maybe this reminds you of a lost pet, or maybe it reminds you of the late-night bags of rat-filled trash in downtown Manhattan. Maybe this angers or outrages you, or maybe, like me, you are both intrigued, jealous and hungry.

A meal like this explores ones own conceptions of edible, which I find to be an extremely interesting aspect of food.

Many of you reading this can remember a time you witnessed me eat something not edible, or outside the realm of enjoyable eats. This is not new behavior for people. How do you know what tastes good if you don't try everything?

The experience of unknown edibles is a high chased by many foodies. To try something you've never had before, that very well none of your friends have had either, can be a rush in itself, especially if it tastes good.

To discover new foods fulfills deep ancestral behaviors - the greater variety of foods the better chance of survival - that satiate you on a mental level.

That's why I try things like goat head soup, blood sausage and jellied duck eggs.

I encourage everyone to try foods outside their comfort zone.

Who knows, maybe you'll host the next rat dinner.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Duck egg

With an increase of fresh produce and seasonal goods from farmers markets, comes availability of some limited goods. Like duck eggs for instance. You may not see duck eggs throughout the year. But come summertime, when farmers are pushing all their wares, an opportunity will present itself.

There you'll be, face-to-face with duck eggs.

What better way to enjoy it, than simply fried and sandwiched.

Shaved Pecorino, homemade mustard, onion pocket, and very soft backyard lettuce with a fresh fried duck egg.

You don't need a recipe for this one. Just make your favorite breakfast sandwich.


Assembled and delicious. Of course I salt and peppered the egg, and buttered the roll.

Yeah, you see that yolk? All up in that Pecorino. A nice long burn from the strong mustard is offset by the sweetness of the onion roll. It all comes together.

Took like 5 minutes. Go make a sandwich. Don't pass up the duck eggs next time.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Blue, not Sad.

I love blueberries. I like them best raw (crazy, I know!) eaten out of the carton or in cereal.

It seems everybody has a hard-on for these anti-oxidant rich bush berries; and they want to cook them.

Why not?

Little tubs of mealy blue fruits for $4.99 coming from Chile later in the year are never going to compare to the fat, sweet American berries in season now. So we may as well use them while they're good.

I've found quite a few recipes during my regular foodie research, and I'm ready to give you all the best ones.

First we need to make sure we have blueberries come wintertime, so we're going to make some things that will last.

Blueberry Butter Suggested: Southern biscuit with BBbutter, duck rillette and arugula. Pancakes with BBbutter, brie and candied pecans.

Blueberry Ketchup Suggested: It's ketchup! Awesome on home fries with pork bits, or with meatloaf.

Blueberry Pickles From Saveur, "Chef Tyler Kord, of No. 7 Sub Shop in New York City, created these sweet-tart pickled blueberries for his sandwich of brie, pistachios, and chervil." Oh really, good with brie? Try along side coleslaw and good steak.

Blueberry BBQ Sauce Suggested: put it on a lamb burger with mint and onion rings; try it with spicy pulled pork and sweet potato fries; or just make ribs.

Because we all have black rice in our pantries, and because rice pudding is amazing, here is a rice pudding recipe.

Blueberry Rice Pudding  I would like to note that full fat and real sugar will make this much better. I would also like to note that I do actually have black rice in my cupboard. 

I'm not much for baking. Hot ovens and exact measurements are not my strong suit in the summertime. So there isn't even a clafoutis recipe let alone a cobbler or a slump. It's hot; and I want to make/eat cold things.

Blueberry Moonshine Pops Make these and everyone will eat them. People will be impressed that you know where to get moonshine, and they'll want the leftovers.

Blueberry Basil Pops Because herbs taste great in frozen desserts, and because you already have pop molds, so you should be making different kinds.

Blueberry Vanilla Fro-Yo Ladies swoon.

And because on top of everything, blueberries taste amazing raw, I give you a fresh preparation.

Blueberry Papaya Salad Bring this to the next BBQ. Make people love you.

That, my friends, is how I do blueberries.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Worldly Dips

Fresh salads, cold food, and no-cooking meals.
In summertime, these become necessary phrases for everybody.

But what happens when those leftovers need a little pick me up?
I'll show you three dips that will immediately spice up your day and make cold summer meals come alive with flavor. (Corny, but true.)

These dips from around the world and around the kitchen bring levels of intensity, layers of flavor, and a fresh pop to any cold summer meal spread.

Mexican Multiple Chili Dip
Mint Cardamom Yogurt Dip
Cilantro Lime Nopales Dip

I read them twice too. Get your ingredients ready.

First up is this fantastic dried chili dip. Adapted from Diana Kennedy's The Essential Cuisines of Mexico, this dip is a wonderful accompaniment to cold meat, with tacos, used as a marinade or as a hot sauce (add extra hot chilies for hot sauce.)

Mexican Multiple Chili Dip

2 Cascabel Chilies
2 Chilies de Arbol
2 Meco Chilies
1 Guajillo Chili
4 Tepin Chilies
2 Roma Tomatoes (about 1/2 pound)
1 Clove Garlic roughly chopped
1/2 cup Water
Salt to taste

From top left, counter-clockwise:
Chilies de Arbol, Guajillo Chili, Tepin Chilies, Meco Chilies, Cascabel Chilies

Fire roast the tomatoes or broil for 8 - 10 minutes. The skins should char and the tomato should be soft and cooked through. Toast the chilies in a hot dry skillet, turning constantly to avoid burning. When they cool, take out the stems and crumble, leaving the seeds and ribs.
Put tomatoes with their skins, water, salt and garlic in the bottom of a blender, adding the chilies on top. Blend until relatively smooth, you'll want to see some of the chili skins and seeds throughout. Serve at room temperature.

A bit about the chilies here. Feel free to substitute different dried chilies if you don't have some of these available. Keep in mind that spicy or smokey chilies are used here, so stay away from sweet fruity chilies like ancho. You may use canned chipotles if other smoked chilies are unavailable, but skip toasting them. The smokey flavor is essential to this dip. The Tepin Chilies and Chilies de Arbol are included for their heat, and the Guajillo and Cascabel chilies are here for their light fruity flavor and low heat index. I also only used two of the tomatoes, but feel free to use more if you find the sauce too spicy.

Mint Cardamom Yogurt Dip

This dip is based on many mint-yogurt dip recipes available online, but I added green cardamom for it's bright lemony flavor. I wanted to use mint because I have so much growing in my backyard and fresh herbs are the rule for summer spreads.

about 8 ounces Greek style yogurt
1 packed cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup cucumber chopped
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon water
3 green cardamom pods
1 small clove garlic, finely diced
Salt to taste

In a hot, dry skillet, toast the green cardamom pods until fragrant. Grind in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle with a pinch of salt. Add the mint, oil, 1/4 of the cucumber and water to a blender, pulsing until relatively smooth. Leave some of the mint rough if you like. You may want to add a little of the yogurt to help get everything moving. Combine the rest of the ingredients and mix until everything is incorporated into the yogurt. Salt enhances the flavors, but be careful not to add too much. This should be a chunky, minty cooling spread or dip, fantastic alongside heavily spiced foods.

This can be served immediately, but improves drastically after a day in the fridge.

Cilantro-Lime Nopales Dip


1 Nopale cactus paddle, trimmed and cleaned of spikes and nubs
Juice of one large lime
1 clove garlic, rough chopped
1/2 cup chopped sweet or white onion
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
A generous handful of fresh cilantro
salt to taste

Fire roast your cactus paddle over a flame on your stove, until lightly charred and soft. Chop roughly and add to a blender, along with all the other ingredients. Blend until smooth.
This is a fresh tasting dip whose main flavors are cilantro and lime. The cactus paddle adds volume and texture to this dip. Fresh Nopales paddles have gooey, okra-like characteristics that is desired in many stews and tacos. When blended with the other ingredients in this dip, the cactus' viscosity keeps everything together without feeling like you're eating slime.

 Serve all three together for a trio of complimenting flavors. If the chilies are too hot, have some cooling minty-yogurt. Have some tangy cilantro lime dip for a balance that will keep you coming back for more.

Make a spread of meats, breads, and vegetables for an easy, exciting break from plain leftovers. Cold fried foods are really great with these dips.

You can thank me later.