Thursday, June 28, 2012

Black Hog Barbeque - High on the Hog

Barbeque season is obviously in full effect. It has been for weeks.

Grilling food brings everyone back to caveman days and primal instincts. But actual barbeque is different than backyard grilling. For the real stuff, most people have to go to a tried and true BBQ restaurant.

I got the BBQ itch and needed a fix.

Under the assumption that everyone likes to look at pictures of slow roasted, smoked and barbequed meats, I give to you, Black Hog BBQ in Frederick MD.

First up is the Arkansas Beef BBQ sandwich. I went for lunch with friends, and this sandwich looked particularly delicious and meaty; not what I ordered, but worthy of a picture.

Yeah this sandwich looks good. Thick cut, tender chunks of saucy meat. (sounds kind of like a dog food commercial) 
Described as "sweet, meaty, smokey and well spiced."

Those of you reading this and looking at these pictures might be near Black Hog, and many of you may not ever be near Black Hog. That's okay. This is more like food porn than just a recommendation for a restaurant - although it is that too.

Next up is my actual platter. I got Carolina chopped BBQ with Eastern Style sauce and a side of pork and beans. Yeahhhh.
This sandwich was fantastic. Forget pulled pork sopping with sickly sweet "bbq" sauce. This tangy vinegar and tomato based sauce worked really well with the fine textured chopped pork. The bracing acidity of the sauce kept the fat in check and didn't overwhelm the taste of pork.

The beans were also really top-notch. You can really taste the bacon and the beans in this one.

I threw some pickles and extra sauce on the sandwich before snapping this next pic - great call. You may also spot the cornbread in the background; also delicious. Thick and sweet, not too wet or dry, it was fantastic with a fork full of beans on it.

Yeah boyyyy.

You can bet this is not the last BBQ post for this summer.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Bonus Shots

This is another exciting edition of Bonus Shots - pictures from my adventures that never make it in a post.

These pictures come from three different adventures: Brighton Beach, Hispanic Sunset Park and Asian Sunset Park.


These first few pictures I took during my Taco Crawl a few weeks back.

This was on display at one of the Hispanic butcher shops. Tripe, cow feet, eggs. Also on display was blood sausage and pigs feet.

 This was on the wall of the taco spot that I got Cabeza Tacos. I thought it photo worthy.

 Finger Chilies. I picked a bunch of red ones and dried them out in the sun.
Tomatillos and Hot Red Cherry peppers. Cherry peppers are fantastic pickled.
 Couldn't resist a picture of this Armenian 9-year-old Brandy. You think these are the kinds of guns that the Russians are selling to Syria?

 Smoked fish and Tails. The tails were a little hard to eat, but delicious and super cheap. Super cheap.

 'Surf Clams.' When these are local, they are delicious in chowder. Fat and sweet with plenty of meat.

Dragon Fruit. There are two varieties, pink fleshed and white fleshed. It is a very delicate flavor. Dragon Fruit grow on a cactus that only flowers at night. Nocturnal birds and Lunar moths pollinate the flowers.

Stay tuned for more Bonus Shots. Every food adventure produces extras!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Go Nuts, Doughnuts!

Check out these freaking awesome donuts!

Doughnut spot Fractured Prune churns out these hot, sweet treats in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Ohio and New Jersey, headquartering in Ocean City, MD.

Choose from fifteen different glazes including banana, mocha, caramel and blueberry and you'll have seven toppings to contemplate. There are even three different types of sugar: powdered, granulated, and cinnamon sugar.

By the way, the donuts are fresh fried, so you can bet that those chocolate chips are going to melt right into your raspberry glaze and coconut. (That sounds good, I know what my next doughnut is going to be.)

There is a big list of specialty doughnuts, but you can mix and match as you see fit.

This first doughnut is the "French Toast," honey glaze with cinnamon sugar on top. From the list.
 This was a great intro for the rest of the donuts. It kept my attention without demanding it. The honey glaze melted onto the plate, offering an opportunity to dip my doughnut pizza-grease style (wait, not everybody dips their pizza in the extra grease?)

This my friends, is the peanut butter cup.
This was awesome. Hot peanut butter glaze and melting mini chocolate chips made this doughnut a real winner. It was a straight pick from the list, "Peanut Butter Cup," and it certainly lived up to its name. Next time, I'll bring my own crushed up pretzels because it sounds like the only possible thing that would make this doughnut better. (Besides maybe candied bacon bits. Just saying.)

This next one is my own creation. Lemon glaze with coconut and graham cracker crumbs. I love lemon desserts, and this combination just sounded good to me.

It was a good doughnut, and I really like the lemon glaze, but I think that next time I'll leave out the grahams. Maybe add some peanuts or chocolate chips. One of the fun parts about coming to FP is that you can mix and match, and inevitably you are going to go overboard.

Fractured Prune also sells breakfast sandwiches, and various other items depending where you go. Most will also offer a "hole in one" doughnut with a scoop of ice cream in the middle.

So, look it up, and if you're ever nearby one of these fine establishments, stop in and get half a dozen or so. Don't lose your mind reading the menu, just pick a couple from the list and make up your own.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Haitian Patty

Heard of Jamaican beef patties? I'm sure you have. The yellow dough meat pies are a staple of Jamaican bakeries and a quintessential handheld street food; but they aren't the only patties in town.

Forget them. Let me introduce you to a Haitian beef patty.

Haitian patties differ from their Jamaican counterparts primarily in the dough. The Haitian style have more of a pastry dough feel to them, as their dough is layered and flaky. The technical term is laminated - the dough is covered in fat and then folded on top of itself and re-rolled until the baker has reached a level that he likes. A technique undoubtedly influenced by the French, who colonized Haiti.

I stumbled upon Ultimate Bakery, a Haitian bakery, while out enjoying Caribbean Flatbush. (I can still explore and find new things even after 15 years!)

This self described "American Haitian Baked Goods" boasts cakes, pies, tarts, patties, croissants, and daily baked fresh bread.

No frills and straight to the point, this bakery left a lot to the imagination. A basic white sign and store front, very little product in the window, and only biscuits visible from the street led me right past this bakery.

Then the smell hit me.

I immediately turned around and stepped inside the tiny store. Middle aged Haitian men and women made up the total 5 people in this bakery; and three of them were employees.

The dough was flaky and crisp with a nice chew and pleasant, well-rounded springiness. It was no problem at all that it took two or three bites to get some filling. The beef was spare, but was lightly and thoughtfully spiced with a very soft mouth feel. The patty was fantastic overall, and only cost $1. It was a great start to my morning, and would have gone very well with some strong hot coffee.

I was constantly snapping pictures of this patty but before long I was only holding crumbs.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Rocco's Calamari

Jamaican, Mexican, Vietnamese, Russian - I've eaten it. I've photographed it, and I've shared it.

Now it's time for some real Brooklyn Italian fare.

Funny, I know just the spot. Rocco's Calamari.

This casual Italian restaurant has it all. The kind of place where people dressed up fancy sit at a table next to thick accents and football jerseys. Where I've come with my family for over a decade, sitting next to grandma's, plumbers, and suits, listening to the old familiar Rocco call out his patrons as they come in, welcoming them as he has for years.

The kind of place you've got to try hard to order a dish over $10. The kind of place that you overhear "one butcher's sandwich," only to find out it's a huge Italian loaf stuffed with eggs, sausage, cheese, bacon and home fries. I've had a few of those in my day too. (Did I mention I was chubby in high school?)

But this time, I went with my sister for some early Brooklyn nostalgia and a meal I won't soon forget.

Check out the menu here, but keep in mind some of the prices have changed.

Potato croquettes and rice balls were a dollar each, worth the price, but I gladly would have paid more for a better filling - or any filling really.  Hot, cheesy, and full of rice, they were certainly enjoyable, but I'd like to see some seasoned ground beef and peas in there, or chunks of ham and cheese, something.

Escarole with beans, $5 for this size, $8 for a large.
The escarole was exactly what it should have been; delicious. Garlicky and full of slightly bitter, juicy greens, soft but not mushy beans, this dish kept me grounded as I tore through my main course. A great dish to share.

My sister got her old standby, penne a la vodka, $8. This is one of the more popular dishes on the menu, and for good reason.

I ordered my favorite menu item, mussels in red sauce, $10. It never lets me down, it always fills me up, and I always clean my plate. I opt for no pasta underneath, because I like to use the semolina bread as my vehicle for sauce, and the empty shells as a spoon.

These mussels were fat, sweet, and meaty. The red sauce has a nice bite to it, but is not overly chunky nor too thin. It coats the mussels well, and sops up perfectly with bread. Also available with a white sauce, I've never ordered it, but I hear good things.

Perhaps I am obligated to mention that the calamari is fantastic. My sister abstains from seafood of all kinds, so ordering the calamar' would have been a little overkill this time around. When I have ordered it, the rings are thick and lightly battered, cooked through but not chewy. I love tentacles. When we eat calamari, I pick out the tentacles first. I love the way they fry up and hold sauce. Served with marinara sauce in varying degrees of hotness and a wedge of lemon, it's sure to please all those involved.

The pasta has always been delicious at Rocco's and the eggplant parm is supposed to a real winner. I suggest that you order what speaks to -or ask Rocco, you'll recognize him.

Fresh Italian semolina bread studded with sesame seeds, ice cold water with lemon, and $25 dollars later - I needed a nap.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Cold Soup Coming Through!

Seeing as the weather is getting hotter and the days longer, I thought that this article would be of particular interest. Plus, I love to make soup - it's so easy and produces such great results.

Cold Soup by Mark Bittman of NY Times.

A nice cold soup can be just what you need on a hot day when eating a big meal will weigh you down.

The avocado vichyssoise, radish gazpacho, and melon soup look and sound particularly inviting.

I like Mark Bittman. I don't always follow all of his recipes, but his approach to food and recipes is rather refreshing and informative. I have his book How to Cook Everything and it has proved useful, not only for myself, but for almost every one of my roommates that has needed a little guidance.