Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cellentani with Chicken Hearts and Spinach

I've been making lots of Asian food lately, so naturally I needed to cook some pasta to balance things out. I knew I wanted to use cellentani (one of my faves) and some combination of chicken livers and spinach. Couldn't find any chicken livers, but got some jidori chicken hearts at Mitsuwa, our local Japanese supermarket. It was my first time cooking chicken hearts and it surprisingly came out tender with a very meaty flavor. Whenever cooking something for the first time, cook a small batch first to see if any adjustments need to be made to seasoning or cooking technique. It definitely helped, as I found searing it on both side quickly leaves a very tender and flavorful chicken heart. A very, very fun dish to eat and don't worry - chicken hearts tastes like dark chicken meat, but with a richer flavor and more chewy texture.

Ingredients (all are guesses, since I never measure)
1/2 pound jidori chicken hearts, soaked in water for at least a half hour, then drained
1/4 pound jidori chicken thighs, bone in
1/2 box cellentani
5 cloves garlic thinly sliced
1 small onion thinly sliced
4 cups baby spinach
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Grated parmiggiano reggiano
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper

1) Add sliced onions to a saute pan, salt/pepper, add some olive oil, and set to medium heat. Caramelize the onions - basically cooking over medium heat for 5-10 minutes and stirring occasionally making sure onions don't burn. Remove onions and set aside for later.
2) Salt and pepper the chicken thighs on both sides, add the chicken skin side down to the same pan you cooked the onions in. After the skin gets very crisp (5-10 minutes), flip the chicken over to the other side.
3) After another 5 minutes, move the chicken to the very edge of the pan turning on a side that hasn't touched the pan yet. Now, there should be plenty of chicken fat in the pan to cook the hearts in.
4) Set large pot of water to high heat. When the water comes to a boil, salt the water heavily and drop the pasta in. This could be done between steps 2 and 3.
5) Add chicken hearts to the saute pan and season with salt and pepper. After 1-2 minutes, flip the chicken hearts as they should be nicely seared on one side. Cook for another 1-2 minutes on the other side and cut the heat to low.
6) Add spinach, garlic, caramelized onions, and balsamic vinegar (for some sweetness and a contrast of flavors), season with salt/pepper, turn a couple times gently, and cover. This should only cook for 3-4 minutes max on low heat.
7) After 10 minutes of pasta cooking time, take the pasta out and add to the pan. Cook for one minute, cut the heat, add 1/3 cup olive oil and taste. May need to add more salt and pepper. If it's too dry, add some pasta water. If it's too watery, cook it down some more. There should be a rich flavorful, slightly sweet, brown sauce from the hearts and chicken thighs that clings to the pasta. Serve immediately and add healthy coating of parmiggiano-reggiano. Buono appetito!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Korean Restaurant Week 2008

There's a Korean Restaurant Week in NYC starting today, Monday September 29th lasting till October 4th. This year's event focuses on bibimbap - basically a Korean style fried rice. Restaurants participating in this event will include an app, bimbimbap, and dessert for $15 (dinner and lunch). I've been to a couple of places on this list, but I would only recommend Persimmon or KumGangSan for bimbimbap. Thanks to Hoves for the heads up.

Lamb Saddle - Gordon Ramsey

Thursday, September 25, 2008

WMD - Weapons of Mass Dogs???

There was a bomb scare outside the Phillies' ballpark, but not to worry. Looks like the hot dogs they shoot out of a cannon at baseball games caused a mighty scare in Philly. Authorities ended up detonating 3 hot dogs that looked like bombs I guess. I wonder if they called in Gallagher for the job?

Quote from the pitcher:
"I'd rather them blow up some hot dogs or some ketchup and mustard and relish than have it be a real bomb," reliever Chad Durbin said. "Better safe than sorry."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

French Food thru UNESCO

NY TIMES : French Cuisine, Exalted by Chefs as a World Heritage Treasure

(Warning : Long Post)

THEIR battlefield is filled, they know, with hidden land mines and cunning enemies.

Owen Franken for The New York Times

BOOSTER Guy Savoy wants to preserve culinary traditions.

So around a half-dozen French chefs and culinary experts from the ad hoc "French Mission for Food Heritage and Cultures" are preparing for war with weapons they know best.

They ate and drank their way through a three-hour strategy session recently to help their country face the daunting task before it: to persuade the United Nations to declare French gastronomy a world treasure. The designation gives a global imprimatur — and global promotion and protection — to the finest cultural expressions around the world.

So by the time the roasted figs, the wine-macerated prunes, the chocolate mousse and the Earl Grey sorbet arrived in the private dining room of Guy Savoy, a chef with three Michelin stars, the men were in deep discussion about the magic of their country's cuisine.

"It's everything!" Mr. Savoy said. "France is the only country in the world with such diversity!" He has compiled an informal list of regional delicacies that he thinks should be saved, including the textured andouille sausage of Vire, the smoked garlic of Arleux, the calisson cookie of Aix-en-Provence, the dense brioche of St.-Genis, and a minty candy called "bêtise" from Cambrai.

Jean-Claude Ribaut, the food critic for Le Monde, chimed in: "It's the art of the sauce. A carcass and some vegetables boiled in water for six hours, then strained and reduced for another three, to make all sorts of stocks. Focus on the basics."

Meanwhile, Jean-Robert Pitte, France's pre-eminent food historian and chairman of the group, sampled the rice pudding with Tahitian vanilla and turned nostalgic. "It's vanilla!" he said. "It's Grandma! It's Gauguin!"

They do not talk openly of their enemies — the acclaimed foreign chefs like Ferran Adrià of Spain who have challenged the pre-eminence of French cuisine, the fast-food chains that have infiltrated the country.

But with the French economy struggling and the cachet of French food and cooking diminishing even in France, this long shot initiative is an effort to capitalize on what has long been a great source of national pride.

It was unveiled by President Nicolas Sarkozy himself at France's annual Agricultural Fair last February, in an offhand announcement that took his ministers by surprise.

He said he wanted France to be the first country in the world whose gastronomy would be formally recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization known as Unesco.

Mr. Sarkozy is by no means a food connoisseur, and even his close confidants confess that he doesn't much enjoy eating. A teetotaler, he often fakes his way through toasts.

But he has been a relentless booster of France, and for him, the initiative seems to be less about taste and more about the creation of new jobs at home and the projection of power abroad.

"Agriculture and the jobs that produce it every day are the source of our country's gastronomic diversity," he said. "It is an essential element of our heritage."

He added, "We have the best gastronomy in the world."

For decades, Unesco has kept a list of World Heritage Sites — from Machu Picchu and the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Reims to the ancient city of Thebes and the Great Wall of China — which it helps protect and preserve through careful monitoring.

Then in 2003, the agency, which is based in Paris, adopted the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage to preserve "oral traditions and expressions" and "performing arts, social practices, rituals and festive events; knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe; traditional craftsmanship."

Today, Unesco recognizes such cultural manifestations as the storytelling of Kyrgyzstan, the sand designs of Vanuatu, the Ugandan craft of making bark cloth, the folk singing known as iso-polyphony in Albania and ox-herding in Costa Rica.

France's European neighbors in some senses are competing against the French proposal. In June, Spain revived its own initiative to win recognition of the health-conscious Mediterranean diet, based on olive oil, fish, grains, fruit, nuts and vegetables; Italy, Greece and Morocco swiftly joined the campaign.

In Italy, Coldiretti, the Italian farmers' association, even argued that Italy's food heritage is superior to that of France, since the European Union recognizes 166 food specialties from Italy, but only 156 from France.

At first blush, Unesco also is less than enthusiastic. Mexico's application to honor its food traditions was rejected in 2005, even before the convention came into force in 2006.

During a roundtable discussion at the first "Gastronomy by the Seine" festival, an international culinary conference in Paris over the summer, Chérif Khaznadar, president of the Unesco group of countries that signed the new convention, was downright dismissive.

Enlarge This Image
Jean-Charles Gérard/Photonostop

Andouille sausage from Normandy.

Owen Franken for the New York Times

Joël Thiébault, a farmer who sells his vegetables in Paris.

Laurent Giraudou/Explorer/Hoa-Qui

Calisson almond cookies from Aix-en-Provence.

Amélie Dequidt/Office de Tourisme d'Arleux

Smoked garlic from Arleux.

"There is no category at Unesco for gastronomy," Mr. Khaznadar said, adding, "I am afraid that the presentation of a dossier on gastronomy will not go any further."

Even inside France, the idea has been ridiculed. Shortly after Mr. Sarkozy made his proposal, François Simon, Le Figaro's acerbic food critic, wrote that if France wins Unesco status, "Opening the door of a restaurant, making a soufflé rise, shelling an oyster, will become part of cultural activity, like falling asleep at the opera, yawning at the theater or slumping over Joyce's 'Ulysses.' "

To lay the groundwork for a lobbying campaign, the French Senate held hearings over the summer in which chefs, food experts and even specialists in the "arts of the table" testified.

The testimony became a repository for both the memories and the dreams of France's food world.

One witness said it could be a way to save the endangered, black-and-white-streaked Coucou of Rennes (a breed of chicken) and the black turnip of Pardailhan. A second quoted the dictum of the 19th-century food writer Brillat-Savarin that "The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of the human race than the discovery of a star."

Recommendations were made, including recognition of France's rich gastronomic literature; improvement in the quality of prepared meals served in schools, hospitals and nursing homes; campaigns to teach children about the joys of eating good food; and encouragement of young people to appreciate the "nobility" of becoming butchers and bakers.

"It is not a matter of saying a 'masterpiece is in danger,' or of mummifying our culinary arts," said Senator Catherine Dumas, the head of the Senate committee in charge of the initiative. "We have to show that eating well and appreciating good food is part of the French identity."

She said that while France wants to be first on the list, others certainly could follow. "We are only the pioneers," she said. "Our move is a humble one."

France will present Unesco with a formal proposal next year. A scholarly study on the subject by Mr. Pitte at the University of Tours in 2004 will help inform it. More than 300 of France's chefs, including Mr. Savoy, Paul Bocuse, Alain Ducasse, Pierre Troisgros and Michel Guérard have signed a petition of support. The informal group of a half-dozen chefs and experts intends to raise more than $2 million on publicity and lobbying.

The French will have to decide how to make their case. They could choose to showcase the creations of certain French chefs. Or they could argue that certain foods, dining rituals and long family meals are vital to French identity.

In the most recent issue of the magazine Le Coq Gourmand, a food critic, Périco Légasse, called for the celebration of the farmer, not the chef.

"Quality French agriculture is dying," he wrote, and "our peasants are disappearing, the richness of our soils and the purity of our landscapes are being extinguished." This is not the time, he added, to celebrate chefs who "jellify" artisanal chicken or "emulsify" a rare crustacean.

But some of France's best-known food producers argue that it will be harder to prove that the diversity of soil, climate and agricultural products that are so identified with local customs somehow come together to form a common, living cultural heritage that should be universally recognized.

On a small farm in Carrières-sur-Seine outside of Paris, Joël Thiébault grows 1,500 varieties of fruits and vegetables, many of them destined for the tables of Paris' most acclaimed chefs.

He plants Japanese mizuna next to Italian escarole. He concedes that Americans understand tomatoes better than the French and says Hungary and Bulgaria produce such good peppers because their soil was never ruined by chemicals.

He urges his visitors to bite into his fluted Brazilian peppers, whose seeds were a gift from Pascal Barbot, a chef who won three Michelin stars.

For him, the glory of French gastronomy is in the ever-changing creativity of French chefs, and he is unsure that such a phenomenon can be codified.

"We are not frozen in time," said Mr. Thiébault, as he caresses the purple skin of a Kyoto eggplant no bigger than a golf ball. "The taste, the quality of food in the 19th century, in the 20th century is not the same as it is today. Taste is at times very ephemeral.

"Often chefs say to me, 'I want the taste of my grandmother's tomatoes.' It's impossible. That was a moment in their lives that cannot be recaptured."

Or put on a list.

When suprime mortgages have gone too far...

K...so I went to my local mega mall and as usual, I stop by the local food court for my guilty little food pleasure. Usually, I like to do what my buddy Cory affectionately calls "the chicken run." Basically, taking a walk around the food court and sample the free chicken dishes from all the stalls - the crappy Japanese place, the bourbon chicken, the hot sauce chicken...etc. It's kinda like an amuse bouche.

Usually, these vendors throw themselves at you getting you to try their crappy chicken dishes. Alas, this time I walked around and there was no one offering free samples. There's usually a guy standing in front of the crappy Japanese place with a plate offering up the goods, but no longer. It's the end of an error....sniff.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Get ready for the Fall... Mushrooms!!!

Autumn is known as the hunter's season. OK, maybe that's just something I may have heard when working at D'Artagnan, but I think it holds true.
Dishes are heavier, richer and seriously flavorful.

As the temperature outside drops at night, wouldn't a a nice roasted bird with sauteed wild mushrooms, baguette with smooth butter on the side, and a nice bottle of medium bodied red wine really do the job?
(wow, i just made myself extremely hungry)

some pics of nicely cooked mushrooms... can't you just taste it?

Wine Night

Decided to stay in Friday night with the wife and get some wine and a movie. Now, although I like wine, I'm not really a connoisseur. So, whenever I go buy some wine I find the best way is to always find the wine expert at the store, describe your taste preferences / price point and let them do the picking. Below are the wines that we bought

Vigna Senza Nome 2007 - Moscato d'Asti ***
The fiancee is not a big alcohol drinker, but she does like a nice fruity sweet bubbly wine. We provided the guidelines and the wine expert picked out this killer Moscato d'Asti from the Piemonte region. It's slightly sweet, nice fruity flavor (not disgustingly though), and insanely refreshing. Kind of reminding me of Martelli's Apple Cider, but obviously 100x better.

Franciscan 2006 - Chardonnay
One of my favorite wines is a nice oaky chardonnay. The oak usually lends a buttery flavor to the wine, which I love. Unfortunately, this was a dryer chardonnay with decent flavor, but not something I would drink again. The problem is I picked this myself without the help of the wine expert. I saw that it was from Napa, so I decided to buy it since we recently visited the area. Bad choice and I will remember to always ask the wine expert going forward.

--- What the F - in a bad way * Good ** Great *** What the F – in a good way

Milk Scare in China

BEIJING, China (CNN) -- The head of China's quality watchdog is reported to have resigned over the tainted baby milk scandal that has killed four children and sickened nearly 53,000 others.

The official Xinhua News Agency said Li Changjiang had quit with the approval of China's State Council. Li's agency is responsible for ensuring that China's food supply chain is safe.

Monday's resignation came hours after the World Health Organization said the scandal had highlighted flaws in the country's entire food supply chain.

The chemical melamine blamed for causing kidney stones and kidney failure has been detected in formula milk powder from 22 dairies across China.

The crisis was initially thought to have been confined to baby milk powder but tests have found melamine in samples of liquid milk taken from China's two largest dairy producers, Mengniu Dairy Group and Yili Industrial Group, as well as Shanghai-based Bright Dairy.

WHO China representative Hans Troedsson said on Monday quality issues could occur anywhere from the farm to the retail outlet.

He said "it's clearly something that is not acceptable and needs to be rectified and corrected," according to The Associated Press. Troedsson said the WHO was discussing with officials how to strengthen China's food quality system.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has called milk manufacturers "heartless" and promised stricter laws to protect the public.

China's Health Ministry said Sunday that about 13,000 children were hospitalized, while another 40,000 had undergone outpatient treatment for illnesses related to suspected melamine-tainted milk products.

The scandal has spread beyond the mainland with melamine being found in three Chinese-made dairy products in Singapore.

The country's Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority said tests on "White Rabbit Creamy Candy" showed that it was contaminated with melamine and it ordered stores to remove the product from shelves.

Taiwan announced Monday it was banning the importation of all dairy products from China because of melamine contamination in milk supplies on the mainland, Taiwan's Health Ministry said Monday.

And Hong Kong has reported that a 3-year-old girl was sickened by a suspected melamine-tainted milk product -- the first known illness outside of mainland China.

Earlier officials there said Nestle Dairy Farm Pure Milk, sold in one-liter packs for catering use only, had tested positive for melamine. But the Swiss company said in a news release it was "confident" none of its milk products made in China contained the chemical.

The Chinese premier visited Beijing hospitals and a supermarket Sunday to show his concern for the crisis.

"What we need to do now is to ensure that nothing like this happens in the future, not only in dairy products, but in all foods," he said. "Manufacturers and owners of dairy companies should show more morality and social responsibility in these cases. They are heartless, so we have to create strict law and legislation. I'm sorry."

Investigators arrested two brothers who sold milk used to produce the contaminated baby milk powder last week. They could face death if convicted, according to China Daily, a state-run newspaper.

The raw milk had been watered down and the chemical added to fool quality checks, the newspaper said. Melamine is commonly used in coatings and laminates, wood adhesives, fabric coatings, ceiling tiles and flame retardants.

But anger has been directed not just at the producers accused of adulterating their milk to increase profits, but also at government regulators, Time magazine reported.

"Xinhua was quick to blame the dairy industry for their skewed rules, but what it didn't say was that the government also played a part in that ugly game," the magazine quoted a blogger, identified as sadmoon109, as saying.

Health experts say ingesting melamine can lead to kidney stones, urinary tract ulcers, and eye and skin irritation. It also robs infants of much-needed nutrition.

Thousands of tons of the tainted milk powder have been recalled.

Melamine is the same industrial contaminant from China that poisoned and killed thousands of U.S. dogs and cats last year.

The chemical, a byproduct of plastic manufacturing, can be used to mimic high-protein additives.

A senior dairy analyst said Chinese farmers were cutting corners to cope with rising costs for feed and labor.

"Before the melamine incident, I know they could have been adding organic stuff, say animal urine or skin," Chen Lianfang of Beijing Orient Agribusiness Consultant told Time.

"Basically, anything that can boost the protein reading."

Saturday, September 20, 2008

What would you pay...for sushi?

Sushi is a great money maker... I'm talking about those rolls which are named after cities or obscure objects.
e.g. California Roll, Philadelphia Roll, AK-47 Roll, the Fuji Roll, etc... WTF!?
Perhaps that's why you find them in relatively ridiculous places, like in a Thai or Chinese restaurant.
It's silly and you can bet your bottom dollar no traditionalist would ever call that sushi.
But times have changed, and Americans love "change"...

It's pretty safe to say, here in NY/NJ, the majority of sushi chefs don't apprentice under a master... they don't wash dishes a year, wash rice for another year, and then shadow their seniors (doing anything and everything) another 2 years before they are even allowed to hold a knife...
I'm even willing to bet they don't even know the basic sushi terms. If you know these 4 words, you are probably more qualified to make sushi than the rest of the clowns out there.
Gari - sweet ginger
Agari - green tea
Shari - sushi rice
Neta - the fish on top of a nigiri

This is like saying to someone working in McDonalds they don't know what a Beef Patty, a Diet Coke, a Medium Fry and an Apple Pie is.
Yes, sushi chefs in the states are grossly under skilled and improperly trained.

If you think I'm upset, you bet your ass I'm upset. We generally pay too much for (poor) sushi here in the states. Nobody cares, and in general, the public wouldn't know the difference.
I had someone the other day tell me they absolutely love Sushi Samba.
And that they only go there for the good stuff...
To each his own I guess.

I ordered take out from Komegashi Too in Newport/Pavonia, Jersey City the other day.

1 Yellow Diamond Roll (came highly recommended by the girl taking the order)
2 Yellowtail Scallion Rolls
2 California Rolls
1 Shrimp Tempura Roll

How much do you think I paid for this?

to be continued tomorrow...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Edamame in Salad

Ingredients :
Romaine Lettuce
Chicken Meatballs
Balsamic Vinegar
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

So simple, yet so tasty.

I'm moving in a few months and needed to clear some freezer/fridge space. Hence the edamame and chicken meatballs found their calling this past week.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Stuffed Lobster

Need I say more?

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Steamers & CapeCod Oysters

Up in Boston right now having dinner with clients and just had to share this with you all.
Man, is this good.

Steamers - sweet and plump
Oysters - sweet and briney
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Patisserie des Ambassades - Review

Patisserie des Ambassades - Slightly Recommended
161 W 22nd St, New York
Btwn 6th and 7th Ave
Phone: 212-255-5106

Stopped by this place on a recommendation from a friend who grew up in Senegal. Patisserie des Ambassades serves home style Senegalese food, which I've never had before. I've been to Ethiopian restaurants which are hella fun to eat, but very different from Senelagese food. Since Senegal was a French colony at one point, I saw similarities with French colonial food (e.g. Vietnamese) rather than African food. Overall, I give the restaurant a 73/100.

My Menu
1) Nems **
2) Lamb Mafe (special of the day) *
3) Fish Fried Rice (special of the day) *

Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way * Good ** Great *** What the F – in a good way

Dish Comments
1) Deep fried vietnamese style spring rolls stuffed with some earthy ingredients - maybe mushrooms? You also get the same style of sweet, salty dipping sauce that you usually get at Vietnamese restaurants. They're so tasty, I could eat 20 of these...
2) Basically a tomato based stew that is thickened with a small amount of ground peanuts (or peanut butter). Yes...ground peanuts. The weird thing is I had no idea peanuts were in there until I found out about it online. It seemed just like a thick Italian style tomato sauce, but nonetheless quite satisfying served with a side of white rice. The lamb in the stew is very tender and there were pieces of large carrots. Surprisingly, I thought the flavors would be more amped up, but it's a little muted. More homestyle cooking but still happy with the dish. Make sure to ask for the hot sauce - it's homemade and kicks it up a notch!
3) Didn't quite catch the name of this dish, but it was basically rice that was fried in tons of vegetable oil with bits of fish (i think cod), cabbage, some salty puree, and okra. I didn't dig it so much at first, but it definitely grew on me. Plus, it's awesome the next day.

Overall Restaurant Experience (73/100)

  • Food 7.4/10 – Homestyle Senegalese cooking. Nothing out of this world, but still relatively tasty.
  • Service 6.5/10 – The service was quite subpar, but then again it's a tiny little joint so you can't expect that much. Everyone is very friendly and nice, but there was absolutely no customers there and they forgot my drink order and it took a while to get the check. The staff were always chatting in the back kitchen, so it was tough to get a hold of them.
  • Atmosphere 7.0/10 – Looking like a tiny coffee shop or diner - around 15 seats. No one was there when we first arrived at 7pm (on a Thursday), but one couple showed up as we were leaving. It seemed like they were doing decent take out business though.
  • Price 8.0/10 – Place is very reasonable with the majority of the entrees at $12-15. Portions are very large. We had seconds of the fish dish the next day, which were even more tasty.
Closing Comments
I liked this place, but I wouldn't necessarily go out of my to eat here. I would stop by if I was in the area though. There's another location in Harlem, which I may have to check out to see if it's tastier than this place...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What's to become of A Voce

MISSY ROBBINS, who was the executive chef at Spiaggia in Chicago for five years, will start this week as executive chef at A Voce, overseeing the kitchen of the restaurant on East 26th Street and the branch that will open early next year in the Time Warner Center.
Andrew Carmellini, the original chef, left in June, and will be opening up a little pasta shop at the end of this year.  (fingers crossed)

Crif Dogs

Crif Dogs - Highly Recommended
113 Saint Marks Pl, New York 10009
(Btwn Ave A & 1st Ave)

Hot Dogs may be a staple to many. And there's nothing wrong with that.
A good dog is hard to come by in many places across our great land.
With that said, we NYers are truly blessed.
For me... Papaya King, Gray's Papaya, Katz's Deli, and now Crif Dogs in the East Village has made me a true believer in the simple but oh so satisfying quick eats.

Crif Dogs in a nut shell caters to the drunk crowd. After heavy drinking and partying, you want something manageable with your two bare hands. Something rugged and a little bit offensive.
A stacked hot dog with a milk shake or rootbeer soda to wash it down with is certainly what the doctor orders.

I was with Aramis the other night and he had the bright idea of driving to Crif's and feasting on some of their specialties. Mind you, we had eaten a full meal a couple hours prior... But we are growing boys so a second feast was in order.
We each had one of the following :
- Chihuahua ***
Bacon wrapped dog, deepfried, and topped with sour cream and sliced avocados.
- Good Morning Dog *
Bacon wrapped dog, deepfried, melted cheese with a fried egg wedged into the bun.
- Chilidog *
Pretty decent chili on top of a deepfried blistered dog.
- Plain
As is

I went again Sunday and ordered the Chihuahua Dog again... But this time, I added some salsa on top. EVEN BETTER!!!
The other dog was the Redneck Spicy Dog. Not very spicy, but never the less, quite good.

Ladies and Gents, this place is a must go...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Happy Moon Festival

I had no idea what the moon festival was about, except the fact that you usually eat those delicious moon cakes. Moon cakes are a Chinese flaky pastry in the shape of a disk filled with a sweet paste (either lotus seed or red bean) and stuffed with a rich delicious egg yolk. My favorite way to enjoy it is with a cold glass of milk :)

Here's the 411 on the moon festival from wikipedia:
"The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, is a popular East Asian tradition of Chinese origin, dating back over 3,000 years to moon worship in China's Shang Dynasty, that spread to neighbouring cultures like Japan. It was first called Mid-Autumn festival in the Zhou Dynasty. In Malaysia and Singapore, it is also sometimes referred to as the Lantern Festival or Mooncake Festival.

The Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month of the Chinese calendar (usually around mid- or late-September in the Gregorian calendar), a date that parallels the Autumn and Spring Equinoxes of the solar calendar. The traditional food of this festival is the mooncake, of which there are many different varieties.

The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the two most important holidays in the Chinese calendar (the other being the Chinese Lunar New Year), and is a legal holiday in several countries. Farmers celebrate the end of the summer harvesting season on this date. Traditionally, on this day, Chinese family members and friends will gather to admire the bright mid-autumn harvest moon, and eat moon cakes and pomeloes together. Accompanying the celebration, there are additional cultural or regional customs, such as:
  • Eating moon cakes outside under the moon
  • Carrying brightly lit lanterns, lighting lanterns on towers, floating sky lanterns
  • Burning incense in reverence to deities including Chang'e (simplified Chinese: 嫦娥; traditional Chinese: 嫦娥; pinyin: cháng'é)
  • Planting Mid-Autumn trees
  • Collecting dandelion leaves and distributing them evenly among family members
  • Fire Dragon Dances"

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Storm King

Storm King Imperial Stout **
by Victory

9% ABV
75 IBU

I wasn't sure what to expect. Many friends have told me to try this and guaranteed I'd like it.
I should trust my friends more often. I loved it.
What a great Stout. Imperial Stout that is.

Nose - Sharp
Taste - Surprisingly flavorful with great balance. Makes for easy drinking.
Finish - Bitters linger for 5 seconds, followed by a mild espresso finish. Finishes sweet.
Recommended Pairing -

Friday, September 12, 2008

Kobe Beef Dinner

A good friend of mine (who happens to own a Meats company in Manhattan) gave me a huge slab of Kobe Beef Ribeye to take home to enjoy with the lady. Intense! Check out that Marbling!!!
Thanks G!

It's not everyday you get to taste some real Kobe Beef so I was brainstorming all day on how I would cook it and with what sides I'd pair it with.
Cooking is one of those things that if you do it often enough, you get better and better at it.
Although I wouldn't consider myself a chef by any means, I've hung around many to steal a trick or two from their repertoire.
Tonight's menu was just ON. (if i don't say so myself)
I tried to keep it as simple as possible. I wanted to bring out all the natural flavors from each ingredient.

Here's the list of items :
20 oz Kobe Beef Ribeye
Brussel Sprouts
Sugar Snap Peas
Yellow Onion
Zoe (Spanish) Olive Oil
Unsalted Plugra Butter
Japanese Sea Salt
Black Pepper Corns

Directions :
Wash everything and cut into the proper size for cooking. Reserve on side.
Both veggies go under a 1 minute blanching, to get the cooking process underway. They were drained but not shocked.
The brussel sprouts were previously halved, so lay them flat side down and sauteed in olive oil and butter.
This gives a great caramelization to the sprouts and the butter really brings out the sweetness in them.
As for the sugar snap peas. First sautee some finely julienned onions with a clove of garlic in olive oil, and add the sugar snap peas. Sautee for 2 minutes, season, and reserve on side.
Season Ribeye with just Salt.
Pan sear on high, 3 minutes on each side. Remove on a plate and let rest for 3 to 5 minutes.
Now in the same piping hot pan, add 1 T of butter and sear steak again. This time, 1 minute on each side.
Remove and let sit for 5 minutes. (if you like your steaks more medium.. throw the steaks into a hot oven for 5 minutes)
Cut into serving size and plate according to your mood.
Oh, and of course... salt and fresh pepper...
Bon Apetit

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Peach Salad with Romesco Dressing

After an abundance of meat after the last couple of days, I needed a light salad to balance things out. I'm a big fan of adding fruits to salads and roasting fruits adds an even better flavor. This salad makes a great summer meal with some nice crusty bread. I decided to make a romesco sauce, since I had some tomatoes that were on the verge of going bad. The romesco adds a nice richness to the salad and even better yet, tastes hella good on bread. The ricotta lightens everything up and makes it more satisfying to eat as well.

4 Ripe Peaches (should be slightly soft, but not mushy)
3 sweet onions sliced (mauii, vidalia)
Whole fat ricotta
Baby Spinach (mixed salad greens would be nice too)
Romesco Sauce (recipe below)
1/2 tablespoon Honey
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 tbsp water
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

1) Preheat oven to 400 with a baking tray. Cut the peaches in half (watch out for the pit and be very careful with the knife) and place on a baking pan cut side up. Drizzle a teaspoon of honey on each peach if the peach is not sweet enough. Salt (1/4 teaspoon) and pepper (1/4 teaspoon) the peaches. Put pan in oven.
2) Saute onions in a pan with extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Stir occasionally and after 20 minutes you should have caramelized onions. Make sure not to burn otherwise it will be bitter. It should be sweet and creamy.
3) Cook for 25 minutes. Check peaches. You should be able to stick a knife in the peach and remove with no resistance. Set peach aside and let rest for 5-10 minutes. Collect any of the peach juices that are on the pan and add to the dressing in step 4. Thinly slice peaches or you can serve them halved.
4) Combine romesco sauce, peach juice from step 3, 1 tablespoon olive oil, water, pinch salt and pepper and whisk together. Taste. If you like it sweeter add more honey. The dressing should be pretty wet. If it's too thick, add a little bit of water and whisk again. Want it more sour, add a tiny bit more vinegar. It's all about personal taste.
5) Now combining time. Combine the salad with the dressing and place on a plate. Add caramelized onions (maybe 1 tablespoon). Add some peach slices and top each with some ricotta.

Romesco Sauce
Romesco is a nice rich sauce from Spain that has an amazing nutty flavor. Perfect to top on cooked shrimp, chicken, or my favorite - using bread to dip into the sauce. It's so good, you'll want to have some on hand all the time. You can add roasted onions in the sauce, but since the salad had caramelized onions I decided to leave it out.

1 red pepper
2 whole large tomatoes on the vine - cut a tiny x on top to help with peeling later
6 almonds
3 cloves garlic
1 cup diced french baguette, crust removed (any crusty white bread would work)
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1/4 cup extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

1) Preheat oven with a baking tray to 400. Toss tomatoes and red pepper with salt, pepper and olive oil. Add tomatoes, almonds, garlic, and red pepper to a baking tray.
2) After 10 minutes, turn tomatoes and red pepper over - the red pepper should be blackened.
3) After another 5 minutes remove the tray and set aside to cool. Once cooled peel both the tomatoes and red peppers - you should be able to do it with you hands. Remove the seeds from the pepper.
4) Place red pepper, tomato, almonds, bread, vinegar, oil, and pinch salt and pepper in a blender. Puree until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning. The sauce should be relatively thick, but you can thin it out with some more oil or just water.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Think Twice... Red Bull

By Rob Taylor

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Just one can of the popular stimulant energy drink Red Bull can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke, even in young people, Australian medical researchers said on Friday.

The caffeine-loaded beverage, popular with university students and adrenaline sport fans to give them "wings", caused the blood to become sticky, a pre-cursor to cardiovascular problems such as stroke.

"One hour after they drank Red Bull, (their blood systems) were no longer normal. They were abnormal like we would expect in a patient with cardiovascular disease," Scott Willoughby, lead researcher from the Cardiovascular Research Centre at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, told the Australian newspaper.

Red Bull Australia spokeswoman Linda Rychter said the report would be assessed by the company's head office in Austria.

"The study does not show effects which would go beyond that of drinking a cup of coffee. Therefore, the reported results were to be expected and lie within the normal physiological range," Rychter told Reuters.

Willoughby and his team tested the cardiovascular systems of 30 young adults one hour before and one hour after consuming one 250ml can of sugar-free Red Bull.

The results showed "normal people develop symptoms normally associated with cardiovascular disease" after consuming the drink, created in the 1980s by Austrian entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz based on a similar Thai energy drink.

Red Bull is banned in Norway, Uruguay and Denmark because of health risks listed on its cans, but the company last year sold 3.5 billion cans in 143 countries. One can contains 80 mg of caffeine, around the same as a normal cup of brewed coffee.

The Austria-based company, whose marketing says "Red Bull gives you wings", sponsors Formula 1 race cars and extreme sport events around the world, but warns consumers not to drink more than two cans a day.

Rychter said Red Bull could only have such global sales because health authorities across the world had concluded the drink was safe to consume.

But Willoughby said Red Bull could be deadly when combined with stress or high blood pressure, impairing proper blood vessel function and possibly lifting the risk of blood clotting.

"If you have any predisposition to cardiovascular disease, I'd think twice about drinking it," he said.


Yelp Wanted: The Zagat v. Yelp Take Down
Monday, September 8, 2008, by Amanda at Eater

For Times Business section readers living in a cave, columnist Randall Stross explains the advances of "user review" sites, what Yelp is, and how it's phenomenally better than the old standby Zagat. While he is a tad too enamored with Yelp to our liking (easy to detect fraud! it covers every business with an address!), he makes some excellent points on how curiously behind the Zagat is in the online game. Moreover, it seems like the head honchos at the maroon guide aren't champing at the bit to improve or expand online service:

"In New York City, Zagat’s home, it offers ratings of 2,372 restaurants, 28 percent of the number on Yelp’s site...'Our goal is not to be totally comprehensive,' Ms. Zagat said. When I told her that I, a Zagat subscriber, wished that the service did try to rate every restaurant, she pointed to the company’s 30-year history and said, 'The proof is in the pudding.'

Good reporter that he is, Stross takes a look at the "pudding," revealing that Yelp's traffic is expanding "geometrically" while Zagat's moves very little. He critiques the site for updating its rankings yearly (a lifetime in the online world) for charging for content, and for not adapting to the new online environment. And then, of course, he goes out with a zinger: "Zagat’s management should discard its ingrained habits and permit its best reviewers to stand apart from the pack. As a Zagat customer, I’m looking for more — what’s the phrase? —Yelpitude."

How many reviewers should be in the kitchen
by Randall Stross NYT

Keep on Practicing

So for about 3 weeks now, every weekend, I've been playing around with scrambled eggs...
Whisking and working the heat just right to make the eggs creamy and not solidified.
This past weekend's morning brunch was toasted english muffins, sauteed chorizo, and scrambled eggs.

The confidence is building and comfort level with direct heat is there.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Fight Food: UFC 88

I've been craving some lamb burgers for a while, so I figured Saturday night's UFC gathering at my place would be the perfect place to try them. They were f'n out of control tasty and manly! Though I almost puked up the burgers after watching Liddell get knocked the f out in the second round.

Lamb Burgers
The key to these burgers is to allow the meat to stand for itself. Cook it well, so it's juicy and don't overpower it with too many other flavors. The yogurt feta sauce adds a salty creamy texture kinda like mayo. The red onions lend a bite and sweetness to the meat. Was originally thinking about adding tomatoes and baba ghanouj, but after tasting it with onions and yogurt feta sauce on it only - anything else would have been too much for the lamb.
4 Portuguese Rolls (ciabatta would be nice too)
Ground lamb (about 3/4 pound per person - ya...not a typo)
2 cups Greek yogurt
1 cup feta cheese
1 clove garlic minced
1/2 cucumber peeled, seeded, and diced
1 red onion thinly sliced
Salt and Pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 rosemary sprig

1) Combine yogurt, feta
, cucumber, garlic, pinch of salt and pepper together in a bowl. This will be thick, but it will loosen up over time. Place in the fridge. Taste right before adding to the burger and adjust - flavors will change after sitting in the fridge. Should be creamy and slightly tangy.
2) Right from the fridge, form lamb burgers into a tight 3/4 pound patty. Make sure the meat is cold and you form a tight patty, otherwise the meat will fall apart on the saute pan.
3) Heat saute pan over medium heat and add olive oil and a sprig of rosemary. Heavily salt and pepper the patties - front and back
preferably with sea salt.
4) Add patties to the pan and do not touch. When the meat begins to change color half way up the side of the patty, flip the patty over (bout 5-7 minutes). Meat should be completely browned with a nice crust. Cook until medium rare (bout another 5 minutes). You can touch the top of the patty and squeeze the sides. If it's really loose like a stress ball, it's completely rare. If it's firm, but a tad squishy then it's medium rare.
5) Let patty sit for 2-3 minutes (I can't wait longer than that). Add patty to the bread, top with plenty of yogurt feta sauce and a good amount of red onions. Buono Appetito!

Roasted Baby Potatoes
I was figuring baby potatoes would pair well with the lamb burgers and they're always hella tasty. Crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside and nice simple potato flavor.

1 pound baby white potatoes
3 rosemary sprigs
4 garlic cloves
Salt and Pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1) Wash the potatoes and dry thorougly with a paper towel.
If they're slightly wet, they won't crips up that well.
2) Set oven to 425 degrees with a baking tray inside. Heavily season the potatoes with salt, pepper and olive oil. Once the tray is very hot, add olive oil to a baking tray and add potatoes, garlic, and rosemary to the tray - they'll start to sizzle right away. Make sure every potato touches the tray.
3) After 15 minutes, turn each potato over. The potato should be nice and browned. After 10-15 more minutes check the potato. Should be crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. When finished, salt the potatoes some more and serve immediately

One of the fellas also brought some marshmallow meringue cupcakes. Not really manly, but these were crazy tasty. Rich chocolate flavor with a marshmallow toppings that were light as a cloud.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Friday, September 5, 2008

Persimmon - Review

Persimmon - Highly Recommended
277 East 10th Street
at Avenue A
New York, New York
Phone: 212-260-9080

After checking out the phenomenal stuff Ko was doing, I was curious to check out Persimmon, which people have been describing as Ko Lite. Makes sense considering the chef at Persimmon worked at Momofuku Noodle Bar. I would definitely not even compare the two, which is not necessarily a bad thing. At Persimmon, you get refined dishes with a 100% Korean touch. At Ko, it's all about limitless flavors and textures which leans more towards a Japanese sensibility. The dishes at Persimmon don't push the boundary in terms of flavors and textures, but it doesn't matter - the food is flat out hella tasty. Overall, I give the restaurant a 87/100.

My Menu
1) Tofu Stuffed Squash Blossom **
2) Eggplant and Miso Sauce *
3) Pork Belly, various kimchee assortmemt **
4) Beef Quiche
5) Red Snapper Sashimi, with arrow root noodles ***
6) Kimche Jjigae
7) Desserts

Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way * Good ** Great *** What the F – in a good way

Dish Comments
1) Squash blossom stuffed with tofu, and plated with sweet miso dressing. A fun play on the Italian dish and this was very, very tasty. Perfectly cooked, nice creamy tofu stuffing (almost ricotta like), which works perfectly with the sweet miso dressing.
2) Eggplant cut into planks and arranged so it looks like a large eggplant. Served with crispy rice and lemony tofu sauce. Eggplant is roasted so it's rich and creamy which is perfectly cut by the lemony tofu sauce.
3) Pork belly, kimchee paste, pickled cabbage and some kimchee daikon. This was such a great dish - fatty, crunchy, salty, spicy. I was in total heaven here.
4) A strange dish that felt like scrapple - the Pennsylvania meat combo, but lighter due to the egg combo. The wife loved this dish, but it was OK to me.
5) Flavorful thin and silky noodles with a sweet, salty, and a relatively spicey sauce. Add in the crunchy julienned zucchini and the sweet sashimi and this was a total what the f moment. Perfect combo of flavors and textures.
6) Kimche jjigae is probably my favorite Korean dish and this was surprisingly pretty average. The pork belly was a tad overcooked (i see this all the time at Korean places though) and the broth was not as pungent as I like. This dish comes with some very good ban chan - the small Korean appetizers you get for free before a meal. Tonight we had kimchee, salted tiny fish, kelp, and pickled garlic, which was my fave.
7) Tea and brown rice...nuff said. The cinnamon/ginger soup was a great palate cleanser. Tomato water soup. Tasty sesame cookies.

Overall Restaurant Experience (87/100)

  • Food 8.6/10 – Very fun meal and although the app portions were a tad tiny, the main course was a full serving.
  • Service 9.0/10 – Like Ko, if you can get a seat in front of the kitchen, the chef will serve you directly. He's very nice and is genuinely interested in your opinion which I think is always fun. There are servers that take your drink orders (no alcohol till next year). Food comes out very quick.
  • Atmosphere 9.0/10 – When you first arrive, there's a long communal table that everyone sits at. There's also 6 seats in front of the kitchen which I think where you should sit. Pretty minimalist inside - white walls, wood tables. The funny thing is the music they rock in the kitchen (not that loud). Bob Marley, Boy George, then Depeche Mode...good times. Got reservations for 6pm for 2 on a Thursday night. Place was empty till 7pm or so - a group of 4 girls showed up then.
  • Price 9.0/10 – $37 for a full 5 course meal - phenomenal deal considering the quality and quantity that you get. I assume come 2009 this will 100% change.
Closing Comments
OK, so erase all the notions of this being anything like any of the Momofuku joints. This is really classic Korean flavors done more precisely and shown in new forms. Definitely recommended and will be back again.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Suckling Pig - Rotisserie

There's probably very few things more exciting than roasting a whole suckling pig on a rotisserie in your backyard.
What a way to cap off the summer of 2008!

We got our piggy from D'Artagnan. A premier meats company specializing in animals raised with impeccable husbandry.
The suckling pig was probably slaughtered no more than 4 days before we got her.
The eyes were clear, the blood was still beautifully red, and the kidneys were nice and firm.

Can't ask for anything more. When your basic ingredients are pristine, you are bound to rock out a great dish.

So here were the steps to glory...
Clean out and de-hair (burn off excess) the piggy.
The belly was sliced open and the innards were removed and cleaned.
We seasoned and stuffed the stomach cavity with :
- 1 Pound of Chorizo
- 5 Halved Apricots
- Hand full of Herbs (Basil, Thyme, Rosemary)
- 2 Heads of Garlic

With butcher's twine, we sewed up the stomach, buttered and seasoned the outside.
Followed by inserting the rotisserie spit running parallel to the vertebrae.
Then tied the legs down so that there was enough clearing space on the grill for it to rotate, naturally basting itself.

We set the rotisserie ON, and the rest of the grill flames down to low.
Set it and forget it. From here on, you just let it dot it's thang.
The covered grill/rotisserie was humming away at about 250 - 280 degrees F.
150 minutes later... we had a wonderfully roasted suckling pig on our hands.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Backyard Farming

Last July, the New Yorker ran an excellent article called "Turf War" about the history of the American lawn: How we can't live with them or without them, and how destructive they are to our environment. The article presented several more sustainable options for the home owner, including planting wild flowers, letting the lawn turn into a meadow, and cultivating a backyard farm. Today, I spoke with Fred Gerendasy from Cooking Up A Story, which, among other things, profiled two women in Portland who started up a backyard farming initiative. Check it out:

Summer BBQ: Salad and Dessert

As Porthos described, our 2008 Labor Day BBQ kicked major ars. Since the fellas were in charge of the plethora of meats, I decided to complement the pig with my Asian version of the Waldorf Salad. I figured a sweet spicy salad would play off the rich pig well and it really paired very nicely. Also, since the wife of Maximus Edicus decided to make brownies, I figured why not do a custard gelato.

Asian Waldorf Salad
My play on the classic waldorf salad which is basically apples, grapes, and walnuts. I substituted the apples with asian pears, grapes with lychees, and walnuts with cashews. In this version, you get the crunch, tanginess, sweetness, and some heat. Very refreshing salad on a summer day and pairs well with a rich meat dish.

Ingredients (all are guesses, since I never measure)
3 cups cashews, crushed
1 bag cleaned arugula
6 asian pears cut into 1 inch dice
2 cans of lychees halved (fresh ones are better, but hard to find great ones)
1/2 cup mayo
1 cup kefir
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp yellow pepper hot sauce (my favorite is Baron's)
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/4 cup lychee juice from the can

1) Combine mayo, kefir, lychee juice, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, and yellow pepper hot sauce and whisk together. Salt and pepper. Taste and re-adjust amounts if necessary...should be on the thinner side, slighty sweet, tangy and spicy.
2) Add enough of the dressing to the the asian pears and lychees just enough to coat.
3) When it's time to serve, add the arugula, cashews, and enough of the dressing to coat. Serve immediately.

Custard Gelato
I found this Italian recipe and I assumed the sweetness would be fine, since Italians don't like overly sweet desserts. This was completely not the case as it was way too sweet for my taste. The texture was nice, so this is a guestimate of how I think the recipe should have been to adjust the sweetness. The key to gelato is to have a dense texture - less air, leads to better flavor and texture as the Italians believe. I will play with this some more and let you know the results.

7 egg yolks
3 cups milk
3/4 cup sugar
rind of 3/4 orange - make sure no pith (white part)
juice of 3 orange segments

1) Whisk together the egg yolks and the sugar in a medium sized pot until the egg yolks become pale - about 3-5 minutes.
2) Simmer milk over medium heat with the orange rind in a medium sized pot. Let it come to a slight simmer and remove from the heat...should be little bubbles starting to form only and please make sure it doesn't boil. About 5 minutes.
3) Remove the orange rind and then slowly add the milk to the egg yolks about a cup at a time. Make sure to whisk thoroughly while adding the milk - otherwise you'll get scrambled eggs. Once the mixture is combined, add the mixture back to the stove top over medium heat. Whisk for 2 minutes then remove from the heat.
4) Place the medium sized pot in a roasting pan and fill with ice around the sides to cool the mixture down. After 15-30 minutes cover the medium sized pot with the custard and place in the freezer. The cooler the mixture is, the better the texture of the gelato.
5) After 3-4 hours in the freezer, pour the mixture into your ice cream machine and churn according to your manufacturer's instructions. Mine was about 20-25 minutes.
6) After it's finished, cover and place in the fridge for 3-4 hours. When you're about to serve, let it sit for 5-10 minutes.