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.