Sunday, May 31, 2009

Oldie but goodie

When was the last time you had an Arby's chedda roast beef sandwich?
A nostalgic taste for sure.
It was a bit pricey at the Simon Mall in Newport Jersey City, but it did the job.

Complete food coma...
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Saturday, May 30, 2009

$24 Beef Short Rib

Hill Country F's-Up the Dudes!
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Store #934
177 Route 34
Matawan, NJ 07747
(732) 335-5500

Being at the Jersey shore for most weekends this summer and being an outsider - (seriously I don't know the difference between 33,34,35 - isn't it the same highway?) I needed to have my GPS on me. My Tom Tom is great for getting me where I need to go but how awesome is the ability to be spontaneous and be over to find any fast food place or joint you crave. In short I can be a predator and can basically find anything I want when I want it.

My usual prey: Wawa. For those unfamiliar with this chain, Wawa is a convenience store chain located in the Mid-Atlantic (PA,NJ,MD, DE, and VA). Earlier this year during memorial day weekend I got off the highway and found this WAWA in Matawan NJ. This particular WAWA upon entering the store it became instantaneously became therapeutic for me. AC blasting, a helpful staff with a smile on everyone's face. But that's not what the Cardinal came for.

The thing about WAWA is that it has freekin amazing sandwiches. How a place with hundreds of locations around 5 states can have subs 10x better than an unnamed national sub chain with thousands across the country still boggles my mind. Lets start with the service. A trip to the deli one first is encountered with several kiosks which help you build the perfect hot, cold, breakfast, you name it sandwich. What kind of bread do you want? What is your beef preference? Would you like beef or a lot of beef? Condiments - mayo, little mayo, lot of mayo? These are actual questions, I kid you not. And just when you think you are finished - the last question is Would you like bacon?

There are 4 sizes of Deli sandwiches that have become the staple of Wawa. You have the 4" junior, aka the water-boarding of Wawa, to have only 4 inches is simply torture. The 6" Shortie is a good on the go sandwich since they pack it with more meat than most other chains. The 10' classic is a solid base - you wont be needing much extra. Oh and how about the Built to go 2 Foot Hoagie in a box! Only $10!

In short last weekend I ended up at Wawa 3 times en route to a Phillies outing in PA. Pork, Egg, and Cheese on a Bagel in an NJ Wawa. Philly suburbs I got a 10" Turkey in lieu of a grill for tailgates. And later that night some sort of Pepperoni Pizza type wrap - I can't advocate the later because I don't recall much other than the next morning it not being necessary! But it felt necessary at the time!

In short - if you live in the area or visiting I would highly recommend a Wawa Conveinance Store. It seriously should be in every NJ/PA visitor guide!

(IIIII 5 out of 5 Fries)

On the Scene in Midtown Manhattan

Despite these economic times some companies keep growing as their demand is strong.  This week Baja Fresh opened their 1st Midtown Manhattan location on Tuesday.  So new that if you check out the locations on the website, store 418 is not listed.  Being a fan, I had to go check it out.  I went over at lunch on Tuesday, opening day.  Things were kind of hectic.  The line was long and people like me were excited to get their fix.  It took all but a few minutes to order, it was the kitchen causing the delays.  In total Tuesday took about 40 minutes.  I order the Chicken Burrito Diablo, a nice and spicy chicken burrito.  It hit the spot.  So the receipt gives you a $2 off coupon to use in 30 days, so I figured waiting a few days was good enough.  I was back there on Friday.  This time ordering took a bit longer, but I was in and out of there in 30 minutes.  Now the rule of thumb is never go to place in its 1st two weeks.  For Baja Fresh, I just threw that out the window, I wasn't willing to wait.  So check it out on Lexington Ave between 46th and 45th.

Death Dog

Death WHAT!!!  Yeah that's right DEATH DOG!!! I went to grab a bite tonight with my wife.  We hit a local place called Kelly's in Rye, NY.  I saw this on the menu at this little joint and I had to find out more about it.  A Death Dog is a hot dog topped with chili, cheese, bacon, raw onions, and sauerkruat on a toasted bun.  We ordered it as an app.  And it was well worth it!!!  And not to ignore the other items on their menu, Kelly's has an awesome Bacon Cheeseburger.  Bacon in every bite.  So if you are in the Westchester area definitely stop in. Don't feel out of place in this local joint, just choose an open seat, sit down and enjoy.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Eat Fest 2009, NYC - Memorial Day weekend

Text message from Porthos to Athos: Green light for this weekend for Eat Fest
Athos’ reply: So there

Couple days later, I was on the 3 ½ hour trek from Washington, D.C. to NYC.  Below is the journal of Eat Fest 2009, NYC.

Arrived to Casa de Porthos at 1:00AM and had dumplings with a fantastic sauce he made.  Thoughts of the rest of the weekend on our minds.  Good night for now.

Breakfast of French toast, links, and fruit as seen on TV:

We hop on the subway and take a cab.  1st stop:
Nicky’s Vietnamese Sandwiches
150 East 2nd Street (btwn Ave. A & B)
We ordered the Classic Vietnamese Sandwich - Pâté, (Vietnamese ham, roasted ground pork), sauce with spice, veggies for $5.  Although there are many Vietnamese places around D.C., I’ve always had Phở and other dishes.  This was my first time having a bahn mi.  It was a light sandwich with less flavor than I was expecting, but it was still good.  The sauce had a small spice kick that was nice.  Nicky’s is one of the original Vietnamese sandwich shops in NYC.

Katz’s Deli
25 East Houston St.
Do I need to explain?  Everyone has, at least, heard about this place.  Well, just in case…    pastrami.  There is a large menu, but pastrami is what they’re known for.  There are several slicers behind the counter, all slicing differently.  We took a spot in line behind the slicer who piled the meat high, and the pieces were thick.  You can tell he was a favorite, since he had the longest line.  Everyone was friendly there.  The slicer, who I’ll call Red (he just looks like a Red) kept offering samples of the meat he was cooking, and we’d pass the dishes down the line for all to try.  He definitely deserved a tip on top of the $15 sandwich.  We also had a hot dog, which is known for their snap, however the line was too long so it was colder than recommended eating temperature.

171 First Ave. btwn 10th & 11th
Next stop was Momofuku.  I figured Porthos was just going to stop by and talk to some people he knows in there, which he did, but he came out of the restaurant with a to0go container and gave it to me.  Inside were two pork buns, different than the usual buns I’m used to.  I picked at it and tasted the pork, however Porthos said I should just eat it.  I took a bite, and OMG!  I was in Heaven.  I was all smiles.  I was NOT expecting this.  The fatty pork, the cucumber to cut through the fat, the sauce, and everything else made me stop and really take in the experience and remember the moment.  I wanted to go into the place and shake hands, no, hug, David Chang.  This was definitely a sleeper.  I was not expecting such flavor and satisfaction.

Jimmy’s No. 43
43 East 7th. St. (downstairs)
Jimmy’s was having a risotto challenge, and we stopped in for a beer.  Jimmy’s is known for their beer, however, yours truly did not partake.  It was nestled underneath a building and provided a cozy atmosphere.  No doubt, this place was full of locals as it seemed like the neighborhood bar.

65 4th Ave.
This is a ramen noodle restaurant.  I never had the good stuff, only the packages where hot water is added, and two minutes later, it’s edible.  This time around, I had the Akamaru dish.  It’s their signature dish, and I know why.  The noodles are made on premise and are nicely done.  The pieces of fatty pork are perfectly cooked and go well with the noodles.  But the hero of the dish to me was the broth.  It was very porky and hearty.  The flavor was unbelievable.  I didn’t need the fancy décor, the noodles, or anything; the broth felt like a meal in itself.

** no dinner **

I woke up to the smell of Porthos’ already-in-progress clam bake.  When I finally peeled myself out of bed, we ate on the balcony in fabulous weather.  The menu had good bread with garlic butter, but the main course was the clam bake, which consisted of clams, lobster, corn, potato and kielbasa and served with a side of risotto with mushrooms.  As the food sat happily inside our bodies, Porthos would serve pork cooked in variety of ways.  This was the lunch to have at this time.  Nicely done.

For dinner, Buffalo wings were ordered as games of beer pong ensued on the rooftop thoughout the night, and then Domino’s Pizza was delivered.

Again, I am awaken to the smells of Porthos’ cooking.  This time, it was clam chowder made from the clam bake’s “leftovers.”  It looked good, and I barely had a taste, since we were going to get our eat on again in the city.

Artisanal Fromagerie, Bistro & Wine Bar 
2 Park Ave
(212) 725-8585
Stopped here to pick up cheesecake for a get-together later on.  I purchased another one to bring back to D.C. with me.

Pepsi Challenge for hot dogs

Stopped at a street vendor for a hot dog.  It really was not bad, but I know what a hit dog wants to be when it grows up.  Now that I tasted it, onto a real hot dog place.

Gray’s Papaya
2090 Broadway
(between 72nd St & 73rd St) 
(212) 799-0243
I have wanted to try this place for years.  Today was the day.  I usually take my dogs with a little mustard, maybe plain onions.  When they offered onions, I asked for a little.  I didn’t realize they were cooked onions.  I cleaned the dogs off fast enough, but even if I didn’t, Porthos looked out for a brotha and gave me the rest of his plane dog.  But the WTF moment happened when I bit into a Gray’s papaya hot dog for the first time – I felt it.  No…   I think I even HEARD it!  What a snap!!  I did it again – I bit into another dog and .  Oh my, this is great!  After my 2 ½ dogs, I washed it down with the papaya juice.  Juice wasn’t as flavorful and uicy as I thought it was going to be, but it is a nice light drink to wash down the dogs.

Next stop was a chain sandwich shop that’s local to NYC.  I never had it before, but Porthos talked up a storm.  He knows what I like, as proven with the Momofuku’s pork buns, so I went along with him.  He chose the Lenny’s #1 Combo, which is hot pastrami and corned beef with Finlandia Swiss cheese, coleslaw and Russian dressing on a buttered poppy seed roll.  It was gooey, tasty, messy, and delicious.  The coleslaw gave it a little crunch to add to the texture.  Good choice.

Later on at home, back upto the rooftop where the grill was going.  Burgers, hot dogs, fat ass/juicy & sweet grilled lobster, skirt steak & cocktails were served.  Later, dessert included three different cakes, donuts, and coffee.  What a way to end the eat Fest 2009 Memorial Day weekend.  As the sun began to set, that was my queue to leave.  Watching the start of sunset from the rooftop and continuing it from the road on the way back to D.C. as it turned Manhattan into different colors was a wonderful sight.

What a good weekend.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sripraphai - Review

Sripraphai - Recommended
64-13 39th Ave
Woodside, NY 11377
Phone: (718) 899-9599

After leaving my job and starting a new one, I've been craving great Thai food - who would have thought the middle of nowhere NJ would have great Thai food. I was figuring I had to revisit my favorite Thai experience ever - Sripraphai in Woodside. Still a very solid Thai experience although not as spectacular as I remember. Overall I give the restaurant a 80/100.

Our Menu
1) Fish Cake *
2) Chicken Satay
3) Fried Chives Dumpling
4) Drunken Noodles ***
5) Pad Thai
6) Thai Noodles with ground fish meat, curry sauce & fishball; served w. fresh vegetables **
7) Sautee Chinese Watercress *
8) Coconut Cake
9) Hot Taro, Coconut Milk, and Glutinous Rice

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

Dish Comments
1) Fried fish cake that had a little spice to it. On it's own it was OK, but was tasty combined with the side sweet, sour salad of cucumber and cucumbers.
2) An OK chicken satay. Suprisingly very, very moist chicken but really not that much flavor.
3) After visiting Taiwan, I've had my share of garlic chive dumplings. These were delicious and unlike any I've had before. Basically, fried glutinous rice stuffed with garlic chives. Crispy, chewy yet soft and incredibly satisfying. Great garlic chive flavor too.
4) One of my best memories of Sripraphai were of the drunken noodles. These definitely did not disappoint - though not as awesome as the first time. They basically use similar noodles to the chinese beef chow fun, using wide chewy noodles. Where it's different is in the intense flavorings - salty, spicy, a little sour - it kicks massive ars and is worth the trip imho. The tender flavorful beef puts this thing over the top.
5) The pad thai was good, but a little disappointing. The last time I visited Sripraphai, the pad thai was great. This time the flavors were pretty muted. The shrimp was cooked perfectly though and it was still a good pad thai.
6) Another great noodle dish here. This time they use thin noodles dipped into a rich flavorful curry broth - the same spicy, sour goodness going on here. Add the crunchy pickled veg and the weird, but great texture of ground fish and you get a hella fun dish.
7) I love chinese watercress and they do it up solid here. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but they definitely had some different seasonings - maybe galangal.
8) A great dessert here. Chewy glutinous rice topped with a sweet paste and shredded crunchy coconut. An awesome dessert.
9) An ok dessert, but I was sick of glutinous rice by this point. Like a warm sweet taro soup filled with chewy glutinous rice.

Overall Restaurant Experience (80/100)

  • Food 8.3/10 – Some great Thai dishes, but some average to below average ones as well.
  • Service 7.5/10 – Food came out real quick, but it took a little bit to get someone's attention in the beginning.
  • Atmosphere 7.5/10 – A much bigger place than it was when we first visited a long time ago. I'm pretty sure they bought the place next door. Now they also have a nice patio in the back as well. Crowd is completely different from our initial visit. Our first visit was all Thai people. Now, it's gentrified! We got there at 1:30pm on a Sunday and had no problem with seats - plenty of empty ones. Pretty convenient to get to also as it's only a 15 minute drive from the 59th st bridge. Plenty of parking on the street.
  • Price 8.5/10 – Most dishes are $8-12 and you got pretty large portions. As usual with most Asian joints, bring plenty of peeps so you can sample more food.
Closing Comments
Not sure if it was because we arrived for a late lunch, but it wasn't as great as I remembered from our first couple of visits. Still some dishes were pretty awesome and I would definitely go back for the drunken noodles and try some other dishes. Who would have thought nowhere NJ could kick so much ars for Thai food.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Best breakfast in P-Town

Cafe Heaven (Highly Recommended)
199 Commercial St.
Provincetown (Cape Cod), Mass

I was told they make the best eggs benedict in town. Say no more.

Homemade english muffins, perfect hollandaise, perfectly poached eggs, delicious home fries and orchid island OJ.

Absolutely the best breakfast I've had in a while.

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Only in P-Town

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Beef Recall

WASHINGTON, May 21, 2009 - Valley Meats LLC, a Coal Valley, Ill., establishment is recalling approximately 95,898 pounds of ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

(CNN) -- An Illinois meat producer recalled nearly 96,000 pounds of potentially contaminated beef, the federal government announced Thursday.

The Department of Agriculture designated as "Class One" the recall of 95,898 pounds of ground beef products from Valley Meats LLC of Coal Valley, Illinois, meaning the health risk associated with eating the meat is high.

The Ohio Department of Health first reported an outbreak of illness linked to the potentially deadly bacterium E. coli 0157:H7 to federal authorities on May 13, and clusters of illnesses have also been reported in Pennsylvania and Illinois, the department said in a news release.

The bacterium can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and kidney failure. Those most vulnerable include the very young, the aged and people with weak immune systems, according to USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service.

A list of the recalled products -- all of which were produced on March 10 and packaged under a variety of labels -- is posted at

Hong's Dumpling Cart

If you find yourself in Burlington VT and are looking for a quick bite, there's nothing more satisfying than a Hong's dumpling.
They are exptremly juicy and flavorful.
Homemade dumpling recipe brought over from China.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Montenapo Restaurant
250 W 41st St
(Btwn 40th & 41st St) across the street from Port Authority

Monday - Friday 11:30 AM - 11:30 PM
Saturday 5 PM - 11:30 PM
Sunday Closed

Opens Today!!!

(Thanks to our buddy who took some pics during last week's Friends and Family

Eater article

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Porchetta is a traditional Italian dish mainly served in households during holidays and festivals these days.
It is also one of the staples you would find in a public fair or an open market.

This dish has deep roots in Rome, and the Italian government has deemed it a "prodotto agroalimentare tradizionale" ("traditional agricultural-alimentary product", which means it's a recognized regional dish.

Recently, a really cool placed called Porchetta popped up in the east village here in NYC, and us dudes have been frequenting it quite a bit.
I thought I'd give it a try and made my first porchetta this past weekend.

All in all, I think it came out alright. Nothing to write home to nonna about, but with this first batch, I now know what I need to do to get it close to the pros.

Here's my recipe :
  • Pork shoulder (aka Boston Butt)
  • Fennel Seeds
  • Rosemary
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive Oil
I like to roast with the bone in... but traditionally the bone is removed from the piece of meet.
In addition, tradition states it's either a boned out suckling pig, or a loin wrapped with a belly flap, then tied.

Take shoulder and score the skin and pierce holes to fill with flavor paste.
Grind up all the ingredients and rub all over and inject into the pierced areas of the shoulder.
Wrap with plastic and let marinade overnight in the fridge.

Next day, preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Place shoulder on roasting rack and pour in 3 C of chicken stock
Cover and throw in the oven for 2 hours
Take out and remove rack onto a dry roasting pan and roast covered for 2 hours
Take lid off and roast for another 2 hours. (total 6 hours)

The picture below is after the 2 hour steam and initial 2 hours of roasting...
I got hungry and had to eat then. But imagine an extra 2 hours of dry air circulating around the shoulder. The skin would have been crisp and the meats tender and pretty much falling off the bone.
I can't wait to make this again.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Inedit by Estrella Damm (Ferran's Beer)

My good friend brought over a bottle of Inedit yesterday and I paired it with the Porchetta sandwiches I made.
He had scored a bottle at the premier launch of the beer a week earlier, over at River Cafe.
Ferran Adria had been developing this beer for over 2 years and came up with this brisk, easy to "pair with food" beer for the world.
With over 1,500 prototypes, this was a well researched brew.
His 2 sommeliers at El Bulli helped in narrowing down not only the effervescence, but also the floral notes and spices necessary to give Inedit it's unique "light" and "refreshing" experience.

I'm a hardcore IPA guy, so if I don't get my hops, I seldom recognize the beverage as a beer. But for this, I will make an exception.

Recommended to be served in a white wine glass, I knew they were looking to show off the bouquet. It was light, floral, and had bit of citrus and the slightest hints of cloves.

It was very controlled and didn't pop with too much intensity. Something well crafted to keep the diner's full attention on the food.

Over all, I will give this beer a "B".
Ferran Adria carries a BIG name, so this is a marketer's dream come true.
I appreciate the engineering that went into the beer.
But there are plenty of other craft brewers out there in America that can give Ferran and the boys at Estrella Damm a run for their money.

Inedit by Estrella Damm
- Bright white head
- Great lacing
- Slightly opaque hinting on less filtering which should yield more viscosity
- 7 out of 10 for Bouquet
- 5 out of 10 for Attack
- 7 out of 10 for Flavor
- 3 out of 10 for Finish

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Tony's DiNapoli

Upper East Side
2nd Ave btw 83-84th.

*** (3 out of 5)

The one thing the Upper East Side is definitely not short on is the quantity of Italian restaurants. Between it feels as if you have a selection of at least 4 Italian restaurants per block. The one restaurant that really stands out in terms of size and not to be missed is Tony's between 83rd and 84th which has a huge outside seating area and is pretty easy to get into with less than a 10 minute wait. Formerly this place used to be just Home Style Italian and that each dish was for 2/3 people, however they now serve individual portions.

I decided to go with the house salad and the individual portion of Chicken Parmesan. I Highly recommend getting a pitcher of Sangria while enjoying the sun and scenery outside. They serve plenty of decent bread with a pretty good olive oil to soak up and enjoy.

House salad was OK - some nice red peppers in there. Now on to the Chicken Parmesan which was accompanied by pasta with broccoli. Chicken Parmesan is one of those things that's hard to screw up and doesn't vary too much from place to place other than the sauce. This certainly doesn't disappoint and by the time I got threw half I had half of it to go as leftovers (too much bread beforehand - its addictive). Broccoli Pasta while an accompaniment, needed an extra something - to me it was just pasta with broccoli and tasted a little dry.

Overall if you are looking for last minute cheaper Italian fare you wont be disappointed at Tony's. It doesn't have the crowds, and perhaps a little better quality that an equivalent place like Carmine's would draw but the ability to sit outside and get your carbs intake on at a reasonable price makes it worth it.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Go Yankees!

I picked up a Double Burger at Johnny Rockets and was utterly disappointed. Over 30 minute wait, frozen patties (meaning dry as hell), and $12 each, it's the perfect formula to get someone's blood boiling.

But the Hot Dog from Johnny Rockets was actually pretty good. There's no snap you would get from a Gray's Papaya Dog, but the dogs at JRs were big and juicy with tons of flavor.

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Friday, May 15, 2009

PJ Clark's

On 63rd and Broadway, PJ Clark's came through big time last night after a bunch of us dudes went to see Star Trek in Imax at the Lincoln Center Imax Theater.

We were pretty hungry so we waved down the server and gave our orders. It couldn't have been more than 3 minutes after we ordered, that our perfectly cooked juicy burgers came out.

Burger, fries and drink, $25 a head. Upper West Side(UWS), not bad.

I'll go there again.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Just Wrong

I can appreciate entrepreneurial spirit.
Or even in innovation.
But W T F!
Canned whole chicken?!
And this is a US product. Not even a crazy Southeast Asian company or 3rd world idea to help keep foods longer.

By the way, it's $49.99 on

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Squeez Bacon

Holy Eff!
What are the Swedes thinking?
When I think Sweden, I think "Ikea", "Meatballs", the freakin' "Nobel Prize", and naturally "The Swedish Bikini Team".

They are also credited with inventing one of the most important products for food service, the Tetra Pak...
So how could they fall so off course and create what has to be one of the most foul food inventions EVER?!!!!

It's first of all, bacon flavored paste. You can't even say it's a puree. That would be giving it too much credit. The concoction is forced through a nozzle giving its shape. Secondly, it's freakin' shelf stable. So what on God's Green Earth is in that squeeze bottle?

Product Features

  • Each tube contains 21oz (595g) of Squeez Bacon®.
  • 16 servings - equivalent to 64 slices of bacon!
  • Bottled in Sweden, made from U.S. bred swine.
  • Shelf Life of 12 years.
  • No refrigeration needed.
  • Jätte gott!
Yah, you read that correct, 12 years shelf stable... I don't even know what to say after that. That's 3 different World Cups my friends. I can't even tell you who hosted the World Cup prior to Japan/Korea in 2002. Was it France?
Then to pour salt on the wound, in the picture below, what's going through their marketing department's head when they decide to garnish "Squeez Bacon" over Sushi, Cantalopes, and real Bacon? Really?
And finally... Is it me, or did they rip off the slogan, "It's better with Cheese"? And swapped "cheese" with "squeez bacon"?

Hot Cakes

The wife was craving Hot Cakes (giant pancakes) this past weekend and so she actually got up and made a batch from scratch. Wow! For those of you who know J, you can appreciate just how bad she wanted these hot cakes because it's been my sole job these past 4 years to cook and feed her on "lazy Sundays".

To go with these oversized pancakes, I reached into my cupboards for my Vermont Maple Syrup and also the Raw Honey I got this past month when I was up in Vermont.
I'm a huuuuuge fan of good honey. Unpasteurized, still crystallized honey is the only honey I keep in my house.
A dallop of butter on top of the hot pancakes, drizzle of maple syrup and some honey on the side, garnished with berries made for the perfect Sunday morning breakfast.
Thanks honey for your hard work... Will this be a weekly treat this summer?

Fish Chowder

I've been playing around with making chowders this past year.
This past weekend, I used cod, fresh corn, onions, baby potatoes, clam juice, half & half, and seasonings for my chowder.
But the biggest problem I run into is over heating my chowder and it breaks...

I should have taken note why the chowders at the Oyster Bar are so popular... It's all in how you heat up the chowder. They have these really awesome steam driven kettles that flash heat the chowder. But it never reaches the point where it will break the cream. Genius!
So I will play it safe next time and set up a bain marie to ensure my chowder doesn't break.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Beard House Dinner

It was a fantastic event Monday night at the Beard House.
Not only were my friends from Sakaya, Rick and Hiroko in charge of pairing the sakes with each dish,
another friend of mine, Hiroko Shimbo and with the collaboration of Chef Yoshi from Jewel Bako, put together a really amazing meal last night.

The dishes, with the accompanying beverages for the evening :
Hors d'Oeuvre
Hirame Kobujime > Raw Flounder with Kelp and Cherry Blossoms
Goma Tofu > Sesame S
eed Tofu
Nanohana Ohitashi > Rapeseed Leaf Salad with Dashi–Soy Dressing
ant with Karasumi
Baby Back Ribs
with Spicy and Tart Namban Sauce
Harushika Tokimeki Sparkling Sake
Simonnet-Febvre Crémant de Bourgogne Brut Blanc NV


Yellowtail Tataki wit
h Carrot–Kudzu Jelly
Tsukasabotan Fu-In Junmai Gin
jo Sake

Assorted Sashimi > Tuna, Spanish Mac
kerel, Bass, Snapper, and Scallop
Sougen Junmai Sake
Louis Latour Grand Ardèche Chardonnay 2006

Miso-Braised Lamb with Spring Vegetables
Hiraizumi Yamahai Junmai Tokubetsu Sake

Assorted Nigiri and Maki > Bluefin Tuna, Tasmanian Ocean Trout, Golden Striped Amberjack, Eel, Japanese Fluke, Scallop, and Kabocha
Urakasumi Zen Junmai Ginjo Sake
Fessy Moulin-à-Vent 2007

Black Sesame Parfait with Yuzu, Coconut, and Shiso
Satsuma Godai Umeshu Plum Shochu

This was my first dinner at the Beard House and definitely not the last.
I was very impressed with operation and got to sit at the chef's table with the director of events for the Beard House, Rick and Hiroko of Sakaya, Grace and Jack Lamb of Jewel Bako, a part owner of Tribeca Grill, and an owner of a Peruvian Pisco Distillery. We all chatted up a storm and made many new friends over a wonderful meal.

A lot has been done to preserve and fix the ailing Foundation these past few years.
We all hope the House will get back on it's feet and stand proudly again to be the beacon that it once was.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Fatty Crab (UWS) - Review

Fatty Crab - Not recommended
2170 Broadway, New York 10024
At 77th St
Phone: (212) 496-2722

Some friends came into town, so we decided it was a good excuse to checkout the Fatty Crab on the upper west side - made sense since one of our friends was Malaysian. We loved the original Fatty Crab in the west village, but for some reason this one just had a lotta little things wrong with it. Still a good time though. Overall I give the restaurant a 68/100.

Our Menu
1) Veggie Steamed Buns *
2) Nasi Lemak *
Steamed Branzino (special) **
4) Short Rib Rendang *
Chili Crab *
6) Kang Kong Belacan *
7) Watermelon Juice
8) Coconut Panna Cotta and Gelatinous Cake

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

Dish Comments
1) Basically steamed buns with shitake mushrooms and cilantro and topped with hoison / srichacha sauce. Solid dish and quite fun.
2) Fun dish. Basically coconut rice, a very tender chicken curry, poached egg, and some pickled veg. Not great by any means, but it hit the spot.
3) The best dish of the night. Never had branzino prepared asian style before, but it really worked. Fish was fresh and very flavorful and went great with the dipping sauces - chili and a soy/ginger.
4) The short ribs was pretty inconsistent. Some parts were insanely tender and flavorful (slightly sweet with a little spice) and some parts were a little dry. Overall, it was a fun dish to eat though.
5) This was the reason I wanted to go. The chili crab at Fatty Crab downtown is usually quite good, but this one not so much. It was definitely not that fresh and on top of that the crab was room temperature. If you let the crab sit in the sauce, it warms up and gets better though. Still a good dish, but very disappointed compared to the one downtown.
6) Watercress sauteed with a fermented shrimp paste and some chilis. The strong taste of shrimp paste maybe hard for most people to enjoy, but I dug it. Went well with the still crunchy veg.
7) Watermelon juice mixed with loads of lime. An OK drink, but a tad too acidic for me on that day.
8) A very tasty coconut panna cotta topped with raisins and nuts. The gelatinous tea cake made for a perfect combo.

Overall Restaurant Experience (68/100)

  • Food 7.5/10 – Nothing spectacular here, but the dishes were overall good and pretty fun. For some reason, my memories of the one downtown were much better though.
  • Service 8/10 – Hostess and servers were extremely nice and they let us sit down before all our guests arrived. Server was very accommodating and the food came out very quick. Our server was pushing a lot of dishes though, but the ones he picked were pretty good.
  • Atmosphere 6/10 – There's enough tables indoors and outdoors to maybe seat 50-60 people comfortably...way larger than the one downtown which you get squeezed next to other people like sardines. The only problem with the UWS location is the friggin music - so loud you really couldn't have a conversation at all unless you got in close and screamed. Massive minus points. The crowd was a strange mix of young groups or families with their kids...loads of kids at the place. Got there Friday at 8pm and had no wait for seating even though it was relatively full. Around 9pm there was a long wait though.
  • Price 5.0/10 – You think it's relatively cheap as no dish is over $25, but all the dishes are relatively small and when you add it all together it's hella expensive. The friggin veggie buns ($9 for two buns which are about 4 bites) are a good example. Our total bill was $180 with no alcohol...WTF!!!
Closing Comments
I would maybe think about checking out the Fatty Crab downtown again (haven't been in about 3-4 years), but I would never visit this location for a full meal - maybe a quick snack only. I guess I could expect this place to be overpriced as these are the same guys that opened the way too expensive and pretty subpar Cabrito.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Eli's Bagels

A staple growing up in Holmdel, NJ, Eli's Bagels pretty much was breakfast for years to the majority of my peeps from middle school until graduating high school.

I was in town today and stopped by. This was a walk down memory lane.
Apparently it has changed hands but still open 24hours. They serve up some of the best bagels in NJ. (Biased of course).
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Friday, May 8, 2009

Grilled Octopus

Spring always reminds me of fresh and vibrant food. And recently I have been thinking back to my Honeymoon in Greece, one of the most wonderful food experiences in my life. Tomatoes so red, juicy and sweet. Better than what you can get in our supermarkets and yes I'll say it, better than any organic tomatoes from the Union Square Farmer's market. There I said it! It doesn't mean you won't see me there buying tomatoes.

When my wife and I were on the Island of Santorini, known for their beautiful sunsets, I remember one standout meal. Grilled Octopus. Fresh octopus pulled straight from the Mediterranean Sea that morning, charred on a charcoal grill. At lunch time, we pulled up to the small adjoining island of Thirasias, created by a volcanic explosion. As we walked off the boat, there sitting on the grill were three whole Octopus, or is it Octopi? Anyway, the smell immediately consumed me and the other tourists. But many of them chose the kabobs on the left.
I went straight for what I had read about in some of the guide books, the Grilled Octopus tentacles, with a simple wedge of lemon. The outside was charred and crispy, the inside tender as a scallop. And finally finishing off the meal with some Ouzo. One day this grilling season I hope to have a chance to take a whole fresh octopus, throw it on the grill and serve it with the side of lemon to my friends and family in hopes of sharing my memory of that meal from Greece.
If you are ever on any of the Greek Islands, take advantage of this wonderful, simple, and fresh dish. You will thank me!