Dec 30th, 2010
Happy holidays, and here's to another delicious year. Last year, I had fun rounding up my favorite food books of 2009. I'm happy to share a new batch of books that have made cooking and eating a lot more interesting for me. I know, so many "best-of" lists to buzz about this time of year, so many not-so-new reasons to go buy something. In case you didn't get what you wanted this year, here are some suggestions, from my kitchen to yours. With one exception: you won't see the book in this photo above in my list (taken at a book signing at SXSW Interactive this year). I'm not sure I could call that one a favorite "read," since I wrote it -- ha!
My Favorite Food Books of 2010
Nov 10th, 2010
I recently wrote a post on Brooklyn Based about Where To Get Your Gobble Gobble, a round-up of sustainably-minded turkey farms and purveyors in the region that are now offering their best for the big, birdy holiday. But as I was walking through the Greenmarket today, I thought, these vegetables are pretty fascinating, too -- and I'm never short of finding a new one with each stroll. So, since we all know the most exciting part of the Thanksgiving meal are the sides, here's a few shout-outs to vegetables that might even be worthy of a main course of their own.
5 Seasonal Veggies You Gotta Try This Thanksgiving
Jun 27th, 2010
So, last week, I launched a new site to start off a new chapter in my writing about food. Have you seen it yet? It's called Lunch at Sixpoint, and it'll cover gardening and growing food as well as cooking it at home. Or, not exactly at home. At the office kitchen of Sixpoint Craft Ales, a brewery in Brooklyn that was founded by my boyfriend. Lunches at Sixpoint began as a casual, occasional affair -- I'd be at the brewery, helping out in the fledgling rooftop garden or doing some other work, and I'd make lunch. And share it with everyone. Sandwiches, stuffed with a smorgasbord of fillings set out on the long table, or pizzas baked in the oven with a smattering of toppings like a newly cracked egg from the chicken coop that morning. It was fun for me, as getting to cook for a hungry audience always has been. And it was fun for everyone who got to eat. It was also more efficient, having someone making healthy, nutritious and hopefully yummy meals for the group, with all the food grown right on the roof.
Introducing Lunch at Sixpoint, where I’m cooking from now
Jun 9th, 2010
It's summer. There's produce, plenty of it local. It's coming to supermarkets, restaurants and Greenmarkets throughout New York City. But one place you won't hardly ever find it at is a bodega, those convenient, often round-the-clock shops where you can get toothpaste and telephone cards or tonight's dinner of ramen and chips. Unfortunately, this is the only type of grocery store that exists in increasingly more communities here.
That's why the Healthy Bodegas Initiative was formed in 2005, aimed at increasing access to fresh food and improving the health of all New Yorkers through its bodegas. Targeting the most underserved areas, or healthy "food deserts," the mission has partnered with many bodegas and local organizations, such as the Greenmarket of Grow NYC (previously called CENYC). Check out Kerry Trueman's great interview with the initiative's founder, Donya Williams, on Food Systems NYC. And read below for an interview with Justone Bossert, Director of NYC Operations for Red Jacket Orchards, an upstate, family-operated fruit farm that's joined the cause.
Help Healthy Bodega Initiative & Red Jacket Orchard Bring Local Produce to Bodegas
Apr 29th, 2010
I've heard there's long waiting lists to become a member of many CSAs around the city. Park Slope's is packed, Greenpoint-Williamsburg's maxed out, and Crown Heights's, new as of last year, filled up so early that another CSA sprouted up in South Crown Heights this year. So if you're on one of those lists, here's some good news. Many CSAs in New York City still need members this season, and I dare say, you need
to get in on this before the door's closed.
Still Time to Sign Up For a CSA!
Apr 23rd, 2010
Just a year ago, I was the only kid at the SXSW Interactive conference without a smart phone; I wasn't on Twitter; I rode a rusty bike to get around (at least until the chain broke), and I didn't bother to bring my six-year-old PC laptop with me there, or anywhere, because it didn't work unless it was plugged directly into an outlet. My philosophy was, "If it ain't broke don't replace it," and my pride, making the best of what was already available. I was a "minimalist," both in and outside the kitchen. Well, the times are changing, but that moniker still has significance. Because longtime food writer and author of my absolute favorite column, Mark Bittman, has teamed up with Culinate and Wiley & Sons to release an electronic application of Bittman's classic cookbook, How to Cook Everything
. I have it on my iPhone now. And soon, five of you can too, for free, by answering a question below.
Win the How To Cook Everything iPhone App (and a conversation with Mark Bittman)
Apr 19th, 2010
Skip the lines at the movie theater. Screw the trans fat-popped corn and jumbo packs of Junior Mints. Try this, once, if you've never done it before: hold a movie screening in your home, and have your friends and yourself make the refreshments. And what better time to do that than this Wednesday, because it's the PBS broadcast of Food, Inc.
That's right, screw the DVD rental and cable, too -- as long as you have an oldschool antenna on your telly, you can get this flick at home.
Food, Inc. is Coming to a Potluck Near You
Mar 27th, 2010
I get off on people doing really bold, honest and active projects with the best of their integrity and muscle. When they happen to involve potlucks, bike riding and healthy, local food, I kind of go all apeshit with appreciation. So I'm very excited to share with you what Aaron Zueck and Robert DuBois are embarking on this summer. Bikeloc is what these two friends are calling their summer-long bike tour across America, in which they hope to connect with local communities through food. And in turn, help America become better connected with their food. They're throwing twelve potlucks in various cities, where they'll be cooking local farms' food, and encouraging others to bring something to the table. Think the Eat-In initiative from Slow Food USA last summer, only a better name for theirs might be Eat-On-The-Road. To kick it off, Aaron and Robert are also hosting what sounds to be a crazy fun fundraiser right here in Brooklyn. Read on for the event info...
Bike to the Potluck!: A Q&A with Aaron and Robert of Bikeloc
Mar 1st, 2010
Ditching the blizzard in New York and being delayed twice thanks to frost on the planes, I finally arrived in Madison, Wisconsin Friday evening, well-fed from my carry-on meal. I was picked up at the airport by Jonny Hunter of the Underground Food Collective, and from that point on, taken on a whirlwind tour of one of the most inspiring food destinations I've been. It was also at this point that I decided to let things happen as they may -- to eat, out or in, whatever was on the menu, so to speak. To be sure, my trip had a few eaten-in missions: I would be cooking for a collaborative dinner between three supper clubs, and leading a guest chef menu at Slow Food UW's Monday night dinner series, too. It turned out I was the only member of Hapa Kitchen who could make it to Madison, but I knew that I was in capable hands.
Week of Eating In Days Six and Seven: Making Food in Madison
Feb 27th, 2010
That is the question. It is quite possibly the most perplexing thing about not eating out. We live in a culture that travels a lot -- whether it's just a twenty-minute commute to work each day in a car or perpetually being "between" two coasts, or countries, by plane. I wonder about our wandering if it isn't the reason why take-out or fast food was created in the first place. Eric Schlosser certainly makes a causality seem logical in his tour of interstate highway development in Fast Food Nation
: the more we hit the road, the more we press the brakes on preparing meals ourselves.
Week of Eating In Days Four and Five: To Travel and Not Eat Out
Feb 26th, 2010
photo courtesy of Goldilocks Finds Manhattan
I just love peeking into other people's kitchens, see how they chop and dice and scurry about. This time my voyeurism has a very particular angle: to see how they cope with a Week of Eating In. And what I've seen from other folks doing that, at the blogs The Eaten Path, No Recipes, Relish Austin, Goldilocks Finds Manhattan and eating-sf, makes me want to come pounding at their door.
What Else Is Cooking This Week Of Eating In?
Feb 25th, 2010
Getting into the midst of the Week of Eating In, I figured it was time for a good gathering over (homemade) grub again. As I discussed in The Art of Eating In
, everyone can use some time in the middle of their day to relax, sit down and eat. Especially with your friends, fellow workers or family. Just like we all need to sleep, this communal time is restorative and constructive in many ways, even if it's not a business or "power lunch."
Week of Eating In Day Three: Making Time for Lunch
Feb 25th, 2010
Let me confess: my first day of the Week of Eating In was actually Sunday, one day before it officially began. On that day, I managed to leaven two loaves of bread, which would later be baked, roast two trays full of root vegetables, which could be snacked on like popcorn or put into more formal preparations with a little warming up, simmer some tomato sauce from a can of whole plum, and make a pot of stock and some soup with most of it. And I went shopping, too, though the brunt of it was on Saturday, picking up bulk plastic bags of produce like apple and turnips at the Greenmarket. I did about enough to keep me going for two weeks of eating in, over the weekend. I'm still thinking that some of this bread may end up for the birds, or at least, as breadcrumbs.
Week of Eating In Day Two: Preparation Is Everything
Feb 22nd, 2010
It's the first day of the Week of Eating In challenge, and I'm taking it easy like Sunday morning. Only it's Monday. You don't start skiing by tackling the super giant slalom, no, you keep to the bunny hill for a while (or in my case, never progress from that point, because you find that you don't like skiing much and have planted your face in the snow while getting on or off the ski left one too many times). So for a possibly frenzied week of cooking, in the midst of my book's release no less, I wanted to start off real simple.
The Week Of Eating In Day One: Starting Off Slow
Feb 21st, 2010
The Week of Eating In is upon us! Cooks, budgeters, eco-foodies, and anyone looking to join in on this one for the fun, grab your utensils and get ready to not eat out (wherever you are) all week! Last week I listed some essential cookware I couldn't live without; this time, it's all about the food. Here's a list of basic pantry and refrigerator staples to stock up one, the kinds that'll keep giving, and giving. It's a minimal list and keep in mind to adapt some items to your own liking (pick one favorite dried bean and call it a day). And I hope that even if you're not gung-ho about cooking for a week straight, you'll find something useful to your cooking routine, too.
Essential Arsenal For Eating In: Pantry Staples
Feb 11th, 2010
So, you think you can eat in for a week? Let me tell you, after two years of doing so, you can! Plus, you'll have the support of many others doing so at the same time. The Week of Eating In challenge, hosted by Huffington Post Green, will take place from February 22-28. If you sign up to join, it'll be a test of your will and home cooking know-how, but most importantly, it should be an interesting way of discovering what resources you might save besides your own money from cooking instead of taking out, and to become a lot more aware of your food.
Essential Arsenal for Eating In: Cookware
Jan 12th, 2010
My bookshelf overrunneth. I used to feel this rush whenever my fridge was brimming with food, usually after a summer CSA pick-up, and the need to immediately bestow this farm-fresh goodness upon everyone I knew. I can't give away all my books, however, and lending only goes so far. But I still want share this bounty of great food literature, somehow. They say that book publishing may be in danger, but according to Lynn Andriani, who moderated a panel on "The Future of Food Writing" last week at Housing Works Bookstore, food-related titles have actually increased in sales last year. And 2009 saw a great deal of really good ones. Here are some of my favorites, for what it's worth. I've enjoyed reading and getting inspired by them, and it's only fair to give credit where it's due. I hope you find them fascinating, too.
My Favorite Food Books of 2009
Jan 2nd, 2010
The perfect date meal, you name it, go! This has been one of my favorite questions of 2009 (happy New Year, by the way!). Until recently, I may have asked the same friends to describe their dream dinners way too many times, but now on nearly every episode of Let's Eat In, I get the chance to put it to a great new pair of guests each week. From food writers, sex writers, musicians, and overall food fanatics, each awesome expert has had something equally inspiring to say. It's a bit of a research project, for no good reason but fun. Two of the most commonly voiced food choices I've heard overall on this have been devilishly spicy, or deliciously sweet. So now, I wonder, what is the most romance-worthy flavor profile: spicy or sweet?
What’s Hotter: Spicy or Sweet? (call in to chat!)
Nov 30th, 2009
If you're anything like me, then cooking for someone is definitely an act of giving. And now that we've officially reached "the season for giving," I can think of nothing better to give someone special than some home-cooked food. This is a rich topic, and one that never fails to fascinate me. So I'm curious, what foods do you like to cook for someone else... and specifically, for those of the male species?
Make Your Best Dish For Dudes and Win a Copy of Mad Hungry
Nov 24th, 2009
I'm back in the States just in time for the most American holiday of them all: Thanksgiving! Where'd I go? Please forgive the week-long break from blogging -- I took off in a rush for Australia, to attend a very important friend (VIF) Jordan's wedding in Melbourne. It was a blast. But now I'm ready to cook a grand Thanksgiving feast... another one, that is. Shortly beforehand, I got together with Rebecca and Max from Working Class Foodies for a great round of recipes all made from typical Thanksgiving spread leftovers. Here's what they shot! And below, more on what we made.
Thanksgiving Leftovers with Working Class Foodies
Oct 18th, 2009
"I can't cook eggs. My mother couldn't cook eggs, either. I just can't."
This was once stated by an old roommate of mine. Genetically handed down or not, we all sometimes have mental blocks with kitchen skills. I found that I don't have the patience to fillet a fish property, opting to throw in the towel and just cook it whole after a recent fishing trip. "I can't cook rice" is another commonly voiced one. But with something as open-ended as cooking eggs, this boycott is really too bad. It eliminates a lot of great foods to make with
them, but most of all, crosses out one heck of a cheap, quick and easy to prepare protein from the time and money-crunched home cook's repertoire. And that's not cool by me.
A lil’ ode to eggs
Oct 9th, 2009
A while ago, I was asked by the New York Daily News
to cook a "romantic" meal for two that cost less than $15, including the bottle of wine. When the story ran, the paper concluded that I had given special meaning to the term, "cheap date." While this might sound a little so-so, at best, for a single in New York, I've decided to embrace that title ever since. And I hope to give it new meaning each week, by talking about cooking and dating with a number of guests. It's my new radio show! And it launches today on Heritage Radio Network, from 3 - 3:30pm.
Cheap Date airs on Heritage Radio Network, 3pm EST
Sep 16th, 2009
A couple weeks ago, I asked food bloggers to participate in Just Food's annual fundraiser party, Let Us Eat Local, by hitting their kitchens at home. The event, which takes place tonight at Prince George Ballroom, will feature small plates from many of the city's most renowned restaurants, like Blue Hill, Gramercy Tavern and Jean-Georges. In celebration of Just Food's mission, each restaurant was asked to present courses that showed off the local and seasonal harvest. But before they unveil their offerings, here are five food bloggers who did an exceptional job at just that. Including the judges' chosen winner, Laena McCarthy, who made a pink pearl apple (above) jam and won a ticket to Let Us Eat Local.
Let Us Eat Local, at Home!
Aug 11th, 2009
It's been a tough year for everyone, and small businesses -- farms, especially -- are no exception. That's why it's so exciting to see more consumers and the media rallying behind them. Today, Serious Eats posted a wonderful video about farmers at NYC's Greenmarkets, and how they've contributed to our food system. It's centered around a trip the Serious Eats team took to Mountain Sweet Berry Farm, and followed them as they packed up their harvest and trucked it into Union Square one Saturday. It was a long day for the Serious Eaters, who drove up to Roscoe, NY that morning to begin shooting. But perhaps a shade emblematic of the everyday toil these farmers go through. As Ed Levine exclaimed in the video, "The risks that they take every day!"
Serious Eats (and I) Fall for Small Farms
Jul 29th, 2009
Since so many of us have joined the frays of small farm supporting by becoming new members of CSAs, I've noticed a particular syndrome going around this summer. The symptoms? Staying in to eat lettuce heads that have piled up in the crisper over some weeks, extreme guilt about going out to eat when there's tons of food at home; passing up plans to make the weekly pick-up day and time, or feeling the need to schedule vacations around your CSA calendar. And then the danger symptom, indicating the illness has reached its next, undesirable stage: deciding to forfeit a few items from your share on a particular week, leaving them behind at the pick-up location.
How to Cope with “CSA Stress”
May 10th, 2009
Imagine walking into the office of an industrial agriculture giant, the kind that produces 99% of the food we eat, and saying, "Hey, I'm really interested in learning more about agriculture. Could you tell me a few things about what you do?" Would someone jump up from behind the counter and say, "Sure, let me show you around. Let me take out valuable time from my day, put you on a haystack as we drive around the premises and I'll tell you all about it -- pick an asparagus stalk if you care!" I think you can tell I'm being facetious, but this exemplifies one of the many stark differences about small farms and farmers: that they're often more than willing to chat with you, answer your questions and help you understand where your food comes from as that one degree of separation. And I was offered an extraordinary case of this friendliness while visiting Sang Lee Farms in Long Island.
A CSA Trip to Sang Lee Farms
Apr 26th, 2009
Not so long ago, I tended to associate Long Island with being stuck in squawking traffic on the LIE and guys in wifebeaters who wouldn't think to eat an apple if the tree plopped one in his hand. True, the eastern trail of New York City never exactly conjured an agrarian idyll, replete with rustic farmstands and coastal pastures producing everything from grass-fed beef to tasty wines. But perhaps that's just the Jersey in me speaking (ironic as it may seem, New Jersey and Long Island kids have a long, stupid rivalry). Because after a trip out to Garden of Eve organic farm in Riverhead, I was introduced to a world of old-school farming values being led for the most part by young and fresh-thinking pioneers.
From Gardening to Farming: A Glimpse at Long Island’s Garden of Eve Farm
Apr 9th, 2009
It was only a matter of time before my love affair with small, sustainable farming would take me outside of New York City (yes, Melissa, I hope to visit Garden of Eve sometime!). No matter the rain, cold or wind we've been having lately. No matter the ice and snow that laced the rocky cliffs of the Catskills on the drive upstate -- and up
some 1,200 feet in elevation. It's spring, at least on paper! And so I went to visit some sheep at Apple Pond Farm.
A Trip to Apple Pond Farm
Mar 25th, 2009
Spring is officially here, and to celebrate the first day of nature's annual renewal, I took a field trip out to a farm. Only I didn't leave the city. At the end of the E and F subway lines and a quick hop eastward on a bus lies the Queens County Farm Museum, the oldest continually farmed tract of land in the city, and now the site of a renewed agricultural program that's growing still. But unlike Stone Barns or similar close-to-urban country idylls, entrance to this farm is free.
A Day at Queens County Farm Museum
Mar 18th, 2009
My brain is on BBQ. Smoked, slow-cooked meat has no doubt lodged itself deep into the heart of Texas. But until last weekend, it had never really captured the fancy of me, this New York-New Jersey girl with no Southern roots to speak of. Until, that is, I went to Texas.
Eating BBQ in Austin and Lockhart, TX
Mar 3rd, 2009
Though it may not look like it after yesterday's snowstorm, spring is right around the corner. And, more local produce is just a few weeks from sprouting through the soil. If you want to experience the seasonal harvest from an intimate perspective (i.e. eat peas in June, blueberries in July), then a great way to do so if you don't have your own garden is to join a CSA. What's that? Community Supported Agriculture, essentially buying a share of a local farm to ensure both their survival, and your constant supply of healthy, earth-friendly and fresh produce.
It’s CSA Signing-Up Time!
Feb 26th, 2009
This week on WNYC, the Brian Lehrer Show has been crowdsourcing for bagged lunch suggestions. I'm a great fan of the show's crowdsourcing projects (remember the grocery store prices map?), and this one is no exception. No longer your grade-school sack filled with a cold cut sandwich, banana and note from Mom (okay, I never got those either... sniff), brought-from-home lunches are a trend in offices these days that can be as satisfying as the next-door sandwich shop -- or, as I like to believe, more so.
The Brian Lehrer Show discusses brown bag lunching
Jan 13th, 2009
What's going on here?? Let me back up a bit. Last year, I contributed a recipe for a project by the non-profit organization the Neighbors Project, called Bodega Party in a Box. The idea behind the 'box was to promote shopping within one's community, and to put more fresh produce and healthier foods on the shelves of local corner shops by increasing demand for it. There's a lot more to the project on the organization's website. But from a local perspective, big supermarkets are dropping like fleas throughout Brooklyn and Queens, and in low-income neighborhoods especially, quickie convenience stores (aka bodegas) are the only places to buy food for several blocks. The need for better food in them is urgent; and the Neighbors Project's incentive more timely than ever.
Eggs Benedict, an easy bodega brunch
Jan 8th, 2009
I am not a pastry chef. I've only begun to work with yeast in the last two years, tinkering mostly with pizza doughs and a little lazy-cook sensation called No-Knead Bread. I've never attempted to make my own croissants. So, foolishly, I thought I'd skip ahead that French classic and try to make whole wheat croissants instead (which I have never laid eyes on professionally-made). Following that train of illogic, we come to the only logical conclusion: that they turned out pretty poor.
Mission Impossible?: Whole Wheat Croissants
Dec 12th, 2008
'Tis the weekend to get some gifts! It seems like no media outlet can resist offering their two cents on budget-friendly holiday gifts this season. (I'm listening to Sound Check right now doling out their musical gift picks.) And this year, neither can I.
I usually don’t dish about gift-giving, or other modes of culturally forced buying on this site (alright, come and give me the Scrooge speeches!), unless it’s about giving to charities. But there’s one little reason I’m making an exception: the troubled economy. So here are a few ways to spread your generosity and cheer without troubling your bank account.
Gifts for the Not Eating Out-er on your list
Dec 10th, 2008
Get ready to drool at all the made-at-home marvels on Bon Appétit today. They've just launched their first-ever Blog Envy feature, a slideshow of holiday recipes from food blogs all around -- and my cranberry Thai curry duck breast (a few posts below) made the cut! My envy of the moment among them -- and this is due to the fact that I *believe* I tried nuts exactly like these at a crowded holiday party last Saturday (Sarah, were you there??) -- are the Spicy, Sweet & Salty Rosemary Nuts from the blog Pink of Perfection. Plus, they look so easily transportable I might think of sending something like these to faraway friends and relatives as gifts.
What are your envious cravings on there?
And don't forget: Monday, December 15th is the last day to submit your Reason #27 for Not Eating Out in New York! Get scribbling! (Big thanks to those who've sent me your papers so far. A-pluses for punctuality.)
The other meaning of green…
Nov 29th, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 9:00 am: Cathy triple-bags a thirteen and a half pound free-range turkey pre-ordered from DiPaolo Farms via the Greenmarket and tucks it into a camper's backpack. Heads off to the subway, gets off at Midtown. Explains something to startled co-worker as she takes turkey out of backpack, and stuffs it into office refrigerator. Tradition raises eyebrow.
3:15 pm: Cathy hoists turkey-stuffed backpack onto her back and trudges through the thickly crowded ten blocks to Penn Station, just in time to catch the utterly cramped 3:27 NJTransit train. Tradition shrugs.
8:00 pm: Cathy fills a bucket with salt and sugar solution and dunks the bird inside to brine overnight. Tradition (which would have preferred some generic store-bought, genetically mutated, cooped-up-indoors turkey for this) shakes fist and concedes defeat. Point one for Cathy. Tradition: 0.
Thanksgiving ’08: Cathy vs. Tradition
Nov 20th, 2008
Since I'm a little behind on my recipe-writing and photo uploading for this week's eaten-in pleasures, I thought I'd direct you to something I did manage to accomplish: this Brooklyn Based piece on where to find the most clever, crafty, kitschy and most importantly, NOT disposable dinnerware that you can be proud to serve with at your next party.
Nov 6th, 2008
I can't over-emphasize the surprise I had last year when biting into my first bit of free-range, organic, all-natural turkey that I'd stuffed and roasted for a Thanksgiving-like feast with friends: Savory. Succulent. Abundantly flavorful. These are words that you seldom think of when you think of turkey breast meat, right? That's why we traditionally smother it with things like pucker-sweet cranberry sauce and overpowering gravy, and why homes across the country have taken up the turkey brining trend with such fervent approval, right? Ladies and gentlemen of the jury: I did not even brine this beast. Still, it had to have the best turkey meat I've ever tasted. I simply cannot overstate this reality, and furthermore, what it means for humane animal raising practices and the small, local farms that support them when you purchase this type of meat and poultry. That's why I wrote a piece for Brooklyn Based all about where to get your "gobble gobble."
I’m not a chicken, I’m getting a free-range turkey
Sep 29th, 2008
Well, I’ve just completed a little experiment I’ve begun to call Opposite Week. Following a week’s worth of not eating out – the usual course – I threw myself into a strict diet of only restaurant-prepared foods for one week straight. It was fun, weird, nauseating and wonderful all at times. I tried to plan my days and nights eating more or less like an average working twenty-something, and not go out to nice restaurants all the time. I did, however, end up making a few dinner arrangements, and some of my friends seemed to get quite a kick out of seeing me sit down in a restaurant, order something, and staring as I took a bite. Some of these meals were great, some were so-so, and some reminded me of why I began my little boycott in the first place (i.e. a particularly poor Chinese take-out lunch; all manner of Midtown lunches).
Aug 18th, 2008
Do you like food blogs? Maybe have thought about starting one yourself? Do you wish someone could tell you everything you always wanted to know about food blogging (but were afraid to ask)? Well, cupcake hero Rachel Kramer Bussel (of Cupcakes Take the Cake) has decided to round up a variety of bloggers to address these questions as a fun, free food-filled panel presentation at the 2009 South by Southwest Interactive Festival. But it can't happen unless the proposal gets enough votes by August 29. So if you'd like to help us out -- as I am so there as a panelist if this gets chosen -- please sign in to the SXSW panel picker site and give 5 stars for "Nom Nom Nom: The Secrets of Successful Food Blogging."
Vote for “The Secrets of Successful Food Blogging” SXSW panel
Jun 16th, 2008
You’ve been seeing it all over the news, but there was probably one moment in the last month when you felt the reality of it the most: Food prices are at their worst inflation in 17 years. For me, this occurred when I was comparing flour in a grocery store aisle. Peeking at the pricetag on a five-pound bag of King Arthur brand all-purpose flour and seeing that it cost almost $6, I nearly jumped back in fright. That’s more than $1 a pound for… flour.
Six Ways to Combat Soaring Food Prices
Apr 20th, 2008
Ever since I've grown chummy with the fine folks at the Whisk & Ladle supperclub, and especially after reading the investigative work into recent Brooklyn speakeasies in this winter's issue of Edible Brooklyn, I've been fascinated with supperclubs. (More than enough to toss out the space between the two words for good.) Who knew that homes were the new hot spot for fine dining? Oh wait, I did. I just didn't think there were so many other people who seem to agree. And in my own backyard, to boot. This week, I was welcomed to the beautiful Fort Greene kitchen of Kara, who along with Adam operates Ted & Amy's Supperclub.
Eating in at Ted & Amy’s Supperclub
Apr 17th, 2008
Since going green has become the hot new scene, there's probably one place to check out the best action this spring and summer: public parks. As cities nationwide prepare for their biggest brouhaha over Earth Day in years, it almost feels like the upcoming weekend before Tuesday, April 22 were a genuine holiday weekend.
Earth Day and Eating Out(side)
Feb 12th, 2008
There’s a silver lining to every cloud. Rainy, stormy, freezing days are cooking days for me, spent tending a fragrant simmer, in the warmth of a oven breaking blisters onto the crusts of bread. There's an acute feeling of physical and emotional nourishment that comes with even the simplest of meals, in the worst of weather.
Stormy Weather Food
Feb 9th, 2008
Is more chocolate! Because thanks to all of you who voted and the esteemed chocolate experts who judged the top ten entries, I've won Culinate's Death by Chocolate blogging contest, hence a weekend trip for two to Napa to attend Copia Center's chocolate festival and a private tour of Charles Chocolates' factory. What?! I'm still getting used to this hallucination. I hope I didn't pull a Hillary on you guys by doing the blogging equivalent of crying on camera to get your votes! But it is personal. This contest is very personal to me.
And the icing on this ‘pain’…
Jan 6th, 2008
I've been eating a lot of strange post-holiday snacks this week. After the festivities were over, I found myself in an apartment full of ribboned and confettied food products, like cookies, chocolate, and this giant tub of stuff from the Popcorn Factory. At first I was excited about the prospect of finding inside different varieties of gourmet kernels, but no such luck; instead it was filled with bags of neon-colored prepopped corn and other odds and ends. Disgusted as I was, I still have to give them credit for the surprise factor -- who'd have thought of bright red cinnamon-flavored popcorn? Or ranch? And "spicy" flavored peanuts instead of just roasted peanuts? Good for them.
Jan 5th, 2008
Luckily for those who eat in like me, the cult of the celebrity chef is never far from reach. With an ebullience similar to when the first Michael Jordan sneakers were released, manufacturers are creating line after line of chef-approved kitchenwares. There's Joan Chen brand woks and bamboo steamers, Gordon Ramsay fine china and crystal, Emerilware, Martha Stewart everything, and recent years have seen the Batali and Ray empires expand into cookware as well (and "EVOO"). For Christmas I was given these two Mario Batali mini cast iron Dutch ovens(?) or covered casseroles(?). Something of that nature. Its manufacturer, Copco, didn't have a very specific name for it -- a "2 cup Italian Essentials Pot," they called it, in line with their larger capacity "Italian Essentials" pots. But aren't they cute?
Dec 18th, 2007
It's all over, those of you -- and there are many of you out there -- who missed the third installment of the Manhattan Chili Takedown. Fifteen chilis, two judges, one unpredictable host, a swank club called The Plumm, a motley crew of both carnivorous and vegetarian chili-making characters, their friends, one small child, and it all came down to two champions: one, for the judged contest, and another for the audience's choice. No, my chicken, pumpkin and hominy chili didn't win either honor. And this time, neither did the entries from anyone I know. But such is life, and not eating out.
The 2007 Chili Takedown that I did not
Dec 14th, 2007
If it's the season for cuddling up with hot toddies and passing family reunions by in a drunken haze, then I've just sampled two very merry ways to embrace the holiday "spirit." Local author and cocktail expert David Wondrich paid a visit to Lenell's liquor store last Saturday, and I was not alone in imbibing. The quaint, small store was transformed into a a lively cocktail hour as David offered drinks featured in his latest book, Imbibed: From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash, a Salute in Stories and Drinks to "Professor" Jerry Thomas, Pioneer of the American Bar
. As its title suggests, it pays tribute to the modern father of making sousing look swank.
Imbibed at Lenell’s
Dec 13th, 2007
My co-worker proudly marched down the hall yesterday with a bag of Burger King “Ketchup & Fries” Flavored Potato Snacks (for lack of any more specific word such as “chips” or even “crisps”).
“Look what I got from the vending machine!”
Look we all did. Two whole aisles of us emerged from our pod-like cubicles to take a look at the fast food-inspired snack. Though from the minute we heard his announcement, we could already faintly smell it.
Fast food races to the junk food aisle
Nov 29th, 2007
A few weeks ago my friend Sam decided she could no longer take care of her yogurt cultures and kombucha colony. So she offered them to me. When I went to her apartment, she was bent over a pad of stationery writing down step-by-step care instructions for each group of live microorganisms, which were bundled away in tight-lidded plastic containers next to sheets of cheesecloth and other paraphernalia on her counter. After a few demonstrations of these steps, Sam packed everything into a brown shopping bag, careful so as not to let the containers tip, and handled them over to me. I felt like I two babies had plopped on my doorstep.
Nov 25th, 2007
the Ugliest Gourmet winning dish (albeit with parsley), Aubergines in Spicy Honey Sauce
Food is everything about the holidays to me, and I'm thankful this Thanksgiving for having a family who understands that. This year's feast in New Jersey was a smaller production than previous years but you wouldn't have known it from the type of emphasis placed on every aspect of the meal.
Oct 18th, 2007
needs more peas, according to Bittman
It seems (belatedly) that I am not the only one with pasta on the mind. Mark Bittman’s recent article in the Times offered hoards of recipes for pasta lore that I can’t wait to try out sometime soon. But he also touched on a point that I found interesting, and struck at a deeply embedded piece of cultural wisdom that I had never thought to question before: The ratio of grains to delicacies.
More on that pasta
Oct 10th, 2007
I enjoy tea a lot. All kinds of tea. I haven't taken this passion to the next level of home DIY experimentation, drying out leaves and whatnot, but lately it's crossed my mind. Typically at around this time of the year, I return to the comfort of tea. Having a propensity toward being cold all the time, I like having hot drinks to sip on much as a fish likes to have things to fill its gills with. As temperatures began to inch toward the mild fall range yesterday, I found myself with a craving at work. So I opened my office kitchen cupboards and was delighted to find a nice assortment of individually-wrapped teabags. Lemon… no. Peppermint, not today. Mandarin Orange Spice?
Naturally, I’ve seen this trademarked tea blend from Celestial Seasonings with its Mandarin princess on the box countless times throughout my life. But today I actually felt like drinking it. So I did. Yet as I sipped, instead of being soothed, I was more and more peeved by this:
Her eyelids are lowered in a sultry glare. She offers a bounty of oranges, but you know there’s more.
For me it’s a well-known, almost accepted fact that tea marketing clownishly fetishizes Asian cultures. Perhaps more so than any other not-necessarily-Asian product. From Tazo’s ugly packaging and fourteen-year-old-getting-high-for-the-first-time pseudo-spiritual “The Art of Tea” campaign to Snapple’s "lovably" clueless tourist reacting to grizzled sages in their commercials for white tea, it’s clear that American tea companies are not exactly vying for the Asian American market. Fine, then. But I draw the line at this image. And this copy, from Celestial Seasonings' website:
“Deliciously spicy and teeming with flavor, Mandarin Orange Spice Herb Tea embraces the essence of an oriental paradise. At your fingertips, the flavor of luscious oranges mingles with piquant cloves to create an exotic and 100% natural feast for your palate. Mandarin Orange Spice Herb Tea is a medley of aromatic flavors with the allure of the mysterious Far East
Hey, guess what? The mystery’s been cracked! We’ve already opened the vault to the secrets of the Far East. I think it was on Indiana Jones’ getaway raft in The Temple of Doom
Now, I might be the only person in the world offended by Madame Mandarin over here and if that's the case, then I'm prepared for and okay with it. The problem is, I really like this tea now. I like that the product is all-natural and I find this blend of herbs delightful. But I can’t stand the packaging. Can't I enjoy my drink without being reminded of the sexualization of women of my heritage? Also, let’s not forget that the tea is not exactly "Mandarin" in any non-imagined sense – the blend of warm cinnamon, cloves, herbs and orange peel riffs on Christmasy mulling spices more than anything else. Or those oranges stabbed with cloves that I once made from a craft book as a child. So what the hell is this “oriental paradise” all about? I am so not in it.
Now, a good rant come off me, let's start talking homemade tea.
This Side of “Paradise”
Sep 24th, 2007
In this month's Harper's Magazine, Mark Schapiro explores the tremendous oversight of 62,000 chemicals in manufactured consumer goods that the U.S. has never tested for safety. His research finds in the blood of a 19-year-old Italian woman, "brominated flame retardants, which are potential liver, thyroid, and neurological toxins that are used to coat many electronics; the pesticides DDT and lindane... perfluorinated chemicals, known carcinogens that are used as stain- and water-repellents on clothing, furniture, and nonstick cookware; and artificial musk aromas... that scientists claim can reduce the body's ability to expel other toxins."
Not Getting “-alon” Anymore
Sep 23rd, 2007
a fuzz-free steamed fuzzy melon stuffed with turkey appetizer -- works well with zucchini, too
A few months ago, I posted a recipe for a Thai-inspired stir-fry of shrimp 'n okra and received among other comments, this one, from Matt:
"Where can I actually get thai basil? When I go to Chinatown, I usually don’t find anything remotely resembling basil. As a matter of fact, I hardly recognize most greens when I’m shopping in Chinatown"
This blogging platform doesn't seem to allow me to reproduce it, but Matt's original comment was followed by a sad-sack, little yellow frowning face. This international symbol of distress became the ultimate kicker in my next decision: To do something about this. (I think it must have set off some alarm nestled deeply in my conflicted half-Asian, half-American psyche.)
More Reason to Veg Out at Culinate
Sep 19th, 2007
Ah, the smell of musty haystacks and wood smoke. The crisp bite of tree-ripened apples. The taste of sweet corn slicked with pure butter. There's nothing like celebrating the end of a fruitful harvest like an all-evening barbecue at a sustainable farm with your local farmers. Oh wait, I've never been to one before. It's funny how comforting pasttimes can forge their way into one's memory.
Hoeing Down in Rhode Island
Sep 13th, 2007
excerpted from "My Empire of Dirt," this week's cover story in
New York Magazine:
"Inspired by the coop design in Nick Park's animated film Chicken Run
, I was using the table saw to mill eight-inch plywood into strips to make footholds for the entrance ramp when the blade of the saw tagged my right pinkie, destroying the second knuckle."
Okay... we've all had our shares of blunders in the kitchen, no doubt, and of seemingly ingenious crafty ideas that have gone awry. But reading this story by Manny Howard made me want to bang my head against the subway pole with nearly every sentence. How many wrongs does it take to supercede any possible right you might be doing for the world? Howard could hold a world record for surpassing that number, whatever it may be.
Another One Bites the Dirt
Aug 25th, 2007
Is there something wrong with me? Does anybody else suffer from this problem? Let me back up. Throughout my entire life, I have eaten and enjoyed eggplant. I recall one day at my old apartment, I proposed cooking an eggplant dish with then-roommate Erin. She said she was allergic to eggplant -- "It makes my mouth itchy." Well that's unfortunate, I thought. Then today I made this baked eggplant, sauteed spinach, fresh mozzarella and sundried tomato crostini, and found myself smacking my mouth afterwards, annoyed by this fuzzy, tingly itchy feel on my tongue.
Eggplant: Itchy Mouthfeel?
Aug 19th, 2007
This weekend, I answered the question, "What do you get when you have four pounds of white bread, two kinds of meat, and a propensity for non-traditional picnic food?" Easy. Thai chicken satay and Vietnamese pork banh mi tea sandwiches.
Chicken Satay Tea Sandwiches (for a rather large picnic)
Jun 12th, 2007
the closest I've gotten to Napa
The excitement I had yesterday afternoon. I had just taken some napa cabbage slaw leftovers from Sunday's picnic out of tupperware from the fridge to snack on, gone back for some tangy sriracha sauce just to kick it up because leftovers, as good as its predecessor may have been, are never quite as exciting as they were when you were first exploring its flavors, and returned to my desk -- when lo and behold! An email materializes onto my screen. If I could have seen it like regular piece of snail mail, the postmark would have proved it was from Portland, Oregon, and it would probably have a business logo or stamp on company stationery indicating that it was from a one Mark Douglas from Culinate (who?) -- Mark Douglas, from Culinate -- and it was announcing that I had been nominated for the GrillMe Contest in which one food blogger (and one reader) wins a trip to Napa Valley to attend a grilling class taught by two masters of the grill, Andrew Schloss and David Joachim! I couldn't think of anything more thrilling in the world. Then again, my palate was dancing from a strong mouthful of sriracha.
Give Napa Valley and Not Eating Out a Chance
May 24th, 2007
open face: roasted red pepper, basil and swiss cheese tops a homemade no-knead slice of bread
I can't express enough what a good grilled sandwich-making bread the No-Knead Bread recipe makes. It's just meant to be: the perfect crackling, lacy froth of bubbles around the bread's crust that crisp up to a delicate network of texture, the chewy, slightly moist and yeasty taste of the bread's core that perfectly soaks up a sandwich's flavors.
Sandwich of the Moment
May 1st, 2007
Excerpted from "Easy Riser," currently in newsstands the May 2007 issue of Vogue:
"... most contestants at the bake-off at the Brooklyn Kitchen flavored their breads heavily; I'll admit to enjoying one made with cracked pepper and potato water
That would be mine! Wow -- I feel incredible. (Does my hair look okay?)
Jeffrey Steingarten ‘Admits to Enjoying’ My Bread
Apr 17th, 2007
In the wake of the tragic event at Virginia Tech, I’m feeling a little less than enthusiastic about food right now. There’s no knowing how all the ramifications of the tragedy will pan out, and until then, I’ll move on with my humble food blog. However, when you attach a memorable feast to a humanitarian cause, as the Glass Contraption theatre company did, good times are definitely a little easier to swallow.
Last weekend I had the opportunity help raise money for the troupe’s sojourn to South Africa to help children affected by HIV through the Topsy Foundation. The Glass Contraption is one serious group of clowns. For consecutive summers they've used their professional clowning skills to help brighten the lives of orphans, collaborating with the children of Topsy on performances. My role? I made brunch. Hosted and co-chefed by my friend Bob, we served thirty-some people for a gospel-themed brunch in the midst of a stormy April Sunday.
Clown Gospel Brunch
Apr 3rd, 2007
Have it your way. Or mine (above): a beef patty pre-seasoned with Worcestershire sauce, minced shallot, salt and pepper with sharp white cheddar cheese, sliced mushrooms sauteed with sherry vinegar, micro greens, fresh onion and tomato, garlic-parsley mayo and a dollop of Dijon mustard on a homemade egg wash-brushed roll. Only a suggestion.
Mar 13th, 2007
I got an ice cream maker. I was watching the episode of Good Eats
all about premium ice cream and how simple it was to make, and the next day I ran out to buy an ice cream maker. For $50 I'll never have to go to the corner bodega to grab a pint of Haagen-Dazs again -- sweet.
The first batch, a basic vanilla ice cream made from the recipe in the Cuisinart machine's instruction booklet, was refreshing, sweet, and tasted so much like Breyer's vanilla it scared me. Who knew it was just cream, milk, sugar and vanilla? Immediately, fresh pineapple ice cream sounded tempting, green tea tickled my fancy (as did other teas, like what about Earl Grey?), but there was one question that had been lingering in my brain since middle school, and that was: White pepper ice cream. Sweet or spicy?
White Pepper Ice Cream
Mar 2nd, 2007
Right, so last Sunday. Oscar night. Did you see all the people who were expected to win win? Check out the lovefest of Al Gore (remember when we used to think he was too stiff to appear in public?), see any antics from Sacha Baron Cohen? I didn't. I was at a potluck party instead. We ate a lot of food.
Potluck Pad Thai
Feb 26th, 2007
Just a friendly tip for all those who are dying to learn more about pickling from three of the best people around: check out Serious Eats this week (the most fun, informative and friendly site for those serious about noshing) for my story and you'll see what this concoction is all about.
And have a great Monday!
Serious Eats gets in a Pickle
Feb 23rd, 2007
My friend Sean, an avid cooker, served up one mean lamb and cranberry meat pie last weekend that he’d done a fair share of hunting for. Well, the lamb meat itself came from the Farmer’s Market in Fort Greene Park. But the hunt for the recipe was a twisted road. A few months ago he’d purchased a glazed earthenware English pie dish at an antiques store in New Hampshire. He decided that the best meat pie he’d had was at Tea & Sympathy, a longstanding neighborhood favorite English café in the West Village.
Eating in at your favorite restaurants
Feb 22nd, 2007
Warning: this post contains graphic images not suitable for children under 17
Who had time for Valentine's Day in the middle of last week? Not I. I'm not the only person I know who'd opted to postpone Valentine's Day to a more convenient night this year. But even though I had a long weekend, things kept popping up; people from out of town kept coming to town; there was nothing romantic about Chinese New Year; and then the whole thing was put off until practically a week later. And yet my Netflix queue still hasn't caught up--I'd meant for Chocolat
to get here in time.
Molten Chocolate Business
Feb 20th, 2007
At the festivities on Mott St. on Sunday
Pigging Out on Chinese New Year
Feb 14th, 2007
What am I going to do with you, good-looking?
How do I treat myself? Let me count the ways. Trudging my way from the camp of the kitchen toy have nots to the enviable haves, this week I made a soaring leap with the purchase of a double-pronged sword—er, blade: this Cuisinart food processor and blender.
Feb 8th, 2007
As a Christmas gift, I was given a one-night class at Camaje cooking classes. The course for the evening at the West Village French bistro that my benefactor chose to enroll me in was "A Taste of Thai." This was the first cooking class I had taken since seventh grade home economics, and I couldn’t wait.
Camaje Cooking Class: A Taste of Thai
Jan 26th, 2007
Last Sunday I spent a couple of hours making sauce, dough, preparing the toppings and putting it all together in a cheesy, sausage and jalepeno pizza to share with a couple of friends. We all had a great time. Then afterwards, I got really sad when I realized, thinking about the cost calculator section of the blog post that would be, that I probably would have spent just the same if I'd just bought a large sausage and jalepeno pie at any of the pie joints down the block. Such highs and lows are the life of the home cooker.
The Problem with Pizza
Jan 16th, 2007
Isn't it a pity New York seems to have a relative dearth of really good cajun restaurants? There's tons of barbecue and even soul food spots, but New Orleans-style cajun cookin' is hard to come by. Menupages.com listed only 25 restaurants in the "Cajun and Creole" category, and from just eyeballing it I noticed some that were definitely not. I wondered about this after visiting Portland last summer and eating at a great, cute restaurant called Montage which served an extensive cajun-inspired menu and was crammed with locals every night. They even served dishes with gator meat; this was Portland, about as geographically far from New Orleans as you could get in the continental US. So why have I never seen gator meat in New York before?
A Dinner O’Cajun
Jan 4th, 2007
A few things I ate recently: burgers, pizza, and lasagna. I guess the abundance of Chinese food over the holidays has left me craving the good 'ol stuff. And none of them very creatively executed, with perhaps the exception of the burger, because I swung by by Amy's Bread on Bleecker St. and picked up a couple of “mini” sourdough rolls. Well, they were far too big for one burger. In retrospect I think my original idea of making one giant burger and slicing the whole thing in half to make two normal-sized burgers would have made for a better photo op than what I did: grill the burger patties separately, and place each inside a hacked-down-the-middle Amy’s sourdough roll.
Dec 27th, 2006
The meal my family eats on Christmas Eve, a stark contrast to the all-American holiday meals like Thanksgiving, is usually an all-out feast of 5-10 Chinese dishes cooked by my uncle and my mom, a roast duck or chicken from the store added on, and a dessert of some type that we're too full to eat. This year, we decided to do something different and serve hot pot. I've seen some places refer to this communal meal as "Chinese fondue," while others go with the Japanese word for it, Shabu Shabu. Basically, it's the type of meal that Scarlett Johannsen and Bill Murray are befuddled by in that scene in the restaurant in that hideous movie, Lost in Translation
Christmas Hot Pot
Dec 19th, 2006
A quintessential plate of 4-way chili at Skyline Chili: that's cheese on top of chili on top of spaghetti. Yes, spaghetti.
I was pretty sure that Ohio wasn't the cheese state. But what did I know? It was my first trip to anywhere in the midwest, not including airport layovers. I found myself there last weekend because my college buddy Aaron had gotten married to a Japanese girl while teaching English in Japan, and had brought her back to his home base in Cincinnati. Instead of having a formal wedding, they threw a weekend-long celebration with friends from across the country, and me and fellow Brooklynite Jordan booked flights for Saturday and Sunday, packed a light bag, and went. And so I learned that Cincinnati is very fond of bad, processed cheese in great quantities.
Orange You Glad I Ate Out in Cincinnati?
Dec 8th, 2006
Long frustrating story, but the bottom line is: Keyspan sucks. There's still no gas in my apartment. The good thing is, my friends have been offering me their delicious home cooking, and in one instance let me use their kitchen to make them dinner. It's been a harmonious transaction.
Simplified Coq Au Vin (and How Not to Cook in One’s Own Kitchen)
Dec 6th, 2006
photo of The Cherry Tree's backyard courtesy of Meredith--thanks!
Over the weekend, I celebrated my 25th birthday with a few friends by bar-hopping around my old streets in Park Slope. Little did I know you can now bar-hop on Fourth Avenue. We began at Sheep Station, at 4th Ave. and Douglass, and I was dismayed to discover it had changed overnight into primarily a sit-down restaurant (no doubt thanks to the NYTimes review), and there was no room for us to just drink. So we headed a few blocks up to The Cherry Tree on 4th and Bergen, hung out in their beautiful backyard, which was well-heated thanks to the warm brick pizza oven back there (Adam, you might want to check this out if you haven't already--my friends were raving about it and they're generally picky about pizza), and a warm WHOLE PIG that happened to be roasting in the middle of the backyard. We'd stumbled into the place on the first Saturday of the month, which according to head chef Patric, was free roast pig night. He informed us the thing had been killed that morning in New Jersey and had been roasting and smoking for a good part of the day, though he was disappointed he didn't have as much time to marinate it as he would have liked.
Dec 4th, 2006
Some things I've eaten lately:
Steamed frozen pork gyoza and steamed frozen edamame.
Bread, croissants, fruit, cheese, vegetables, salad...candles.
Worst Week for NEOINY Part 2
Dec 1st, 2006
Winter is upon us, and what better indicator of it than bushels of sunny, orange miniature citrus fruits?
Like many people around my age, I was introduced to clementines as a lunch bag accoutrement some time late into grade school. Rather, I should say I was bombarded with them in multiples of twos and threes--they seemed to appear everywhere, not just in lunch bags anymore but in my gifts, Christmas stockings, and were tossed at me like hackey sacks every time I tried to leave the house. At first I may have guessed that my parents were so enthralled by the fruit that they decided to buy barrels full of them (and no doubt the novelty of the crates made this true to some extent). Then it occurred to me that clementines were sold only in bulk, and came in a flaky birch wood crate holding about 25 of the little seedless juicy nuggets.
Nov 27th, 2006
I tried balancing cold semi-sweet chocolate morsels on a salty cracker and was rewarded with the perfect quench for my salty/sweet craving. Cost calculator? Both items were free thanks to my roommate and the gratuitous back of the freezer. (Health factor = bad.)
Conversation with self:
-Which do you prefer, salty or sweet? For instance, if you had to choose one over the other to eat for the rest of your life?
-Well in that case, how come when luck goes your way you don't exclaim, "Saaalty!!"
-I don't know. Should I?
Best Low-Budget Salty & Sweet
Nov 24th, 2006
Hopefully many people reading this blog who don't know me personally will have sensed that my culinary tastes are quite various and international in scope. But what I haven't disclosed for this long and would feel irresponsible about withholding at this moment, is the fact that every Thanksgiving dinner I've attended has served the same traditional, no-nonsense all-American spread favored by the senior Erway clan of upstate New York.
My Big Fat American Thanksgiving
Nov 19th, 2006
For any of you foodies living in or around Williamsburg, Brooklyn, there's finally a place where you can go and everybody knows your name. No, it's not a bar, it's a kitchenware and specialty foods shop called The Brooklyn Kitchen. I had the pleasure of watching the shop's first gathering this evening on "A Different Way to Bird": how to de-bone a turkey, just in time for Thanksgiving. I've noticed in magazines and cooking shows how popular this method has become as an alternative to roasting a whole turkey with bones. It takes a bit of skill with the knife, but after a quick informal session like the one The Brooklyn Kitchen offered, pretty much anyone can give it a go.
The Brooklyn Kitchen takes apart de-boning a turkey
Nov 13th, 2006
There's nothing that spells cute to me more than a bunch of baby bok choy. The tenderest and most mild of cabbages, the contrast between leafy green parts and white stems has never been more appealing. When boiled, the fibrous whites turn translucent and practically melt in your mouth. The greens hold true to their shape and are delicate as a floppy bunny's ear.
I Heart Baby Bok Choy
Nov 8th, 2006
Why doesn't New York come up with nice food store mascots like South Carolina? This logo is so cute, I can't stand it. Here, I'm stuck with "Associated" or "Key Food" or "C-Town." Even the fancy grocery stores and organic ones don't have cartoon characters ripped off of Disney like South Carolina does.
Nov 4th, 2006
Sam and Richard had me over on Thursday for some hot toddys and sweets in honor of Day of the Dead. Or night of the dead? It was about 10:30 p.m. when I got there. The drink of choice was toasty hot chocolate made with Mexican dark chocolate and Kalhua.
Day of the Dead Bread
Oct 22nd, 2006
I ate out. But it was in Providence, RI, and I'm quite certain there's no way I'll ever be able to make my own array of bite-size dumplings and other tasty traditional dim sum dishes just for lunch (ever). So I made good use of a family trip to visit my brother in Providence, where he's studying for a PhD.
Eating Dim Sum in Providence, RI
Oct 16th, 2006
Thanks, Cube-Side, for naming Not Eating Out In New York "Blog of the Week"! And for this nifty crest, which I get to keep on here for a week. Or forever.
Oct 1st, 2006
My friends Richard and Sam are my only local friends whose apartment has an actual yard with grass, a pretty spacious one, too. So naturally, they host barbecues all summer long. The last one I went to I was so busy preparing not one but two trays of homemade dumplings--veggie ones and pork--that I ended up getting there late, tired, and in the middle of a hot July, not even hungry. This weekend, I brought to their place the least exotic party food I could think of, and also one of the easiest, deviled eggs.
The Last Barbecue of the Summer
Sep 11th, 2006
I didn't think it was going to be that difficult to travel without a laptop, and post blogs. But the west coast didn't prove to be as cyber-friendly as I had hoped. That, and I wasn't trying too hard because I was on vacation, and was very, very busy eating out. For the record, I didn't go out there to check out Kerry Simon's new LA restaurant or the Wolfgang Puck Express, but I went to LA to visit my grandfather, and to Oregon, for friends.
In the end, such as my last meal at the airport between flights, I was reminded of how not fun it can be to rely on whatever food options are available at a certain area. But in between, several highlights are pictured in this belated photo essay below.
Eating Out in LA & Oregon
Aug 29th, 2006
My brother just came back from visiting his girlfriend who’s interning in Kingston, Jamaica for the summer. It sounds like a pretty groovy way to build your resume, but considering it was in the city’s public health administration, it may have been a little more involved than buying shell necklaces and lounging on the beach listening to reggae. I wish I had more to tell about an area I find really fascinating, but since I wasn’t there I only managed to glean these tidbits on Jamaica and its food:
Beef patties are commonly sold at two chains owned by Chinese shopkeeper families, Juici Patties, and Tastee Patties. Both entrepreneurs of these chains have won accolades for bolstering the economy in Jamaica, while Juici Patties has successfully entered the Canadian market (for some reason).
Jerk originated at Boston Beach in Portland Parish, Jamaica, and was largely unknown outside of Portland until the 1950’s. The dry rub mixture includes allspice and Scotch Bonnet peppers, and the meat is traditionally wrapped in banana leaves and cooked over Pimento wood. Today, most people tend to think it's the most Jamaican thing ever beside Red Stripe beer.
The Jamaican national dish and common breakfast is “ackee and saltfish.” The ackee is the crazy fruit pictured above, related somewhat to lychee nuts, and to eat it requires taking out the poisonous big black seeds and de-veining the “bready” sections. It has a strange taste and a texture “like scrambled eggs.”
Other weird fruit native to Jamaica and the Caribbean include breadfruit (which tastes like bread), sweet sop (or custard apple), ugli fruit, guineps, and sour sop.
Mangosteen, all praises to flavor aside, you are totally yesterday’s elusive fruit.
(for more info on Jamaican dishes check out this tourism page on food)
Report from Jamaica
Jul 31st, 2006
I'm still counting down to officially not eating out in New York (or anywhere else, for that matter), pending on my creation of the real website for this blog. So in the meantime, I succumbed to having a dinner out, more or less to escape the heat we've had this weekend and eat in a climate that I actually feel hungry in. I went to Dumont with two friends, who both ordered the skirt steak. I wasn't particularly craving a heavy meal and went with the skate dish. Wasn't expecting quite so heavy a fish dish, nor as tasty. The thin sauce that circled the colorful, impressive pile on my plate was a classic herby, white wine reduction dotted with softened whole cloves of garlic and briny, purple nicoise olives. A few chunks of stewed tomato were infused with both these flavor-packers. The fish was crisped on both sides to a satisfying ochre, and the meat looked as if deeply scored because of how naturally defined the grain of the fish was. I realized then that I was eating something like a small shark.
On a similarly unnerving note, I learned that what defines a skate in the ray family is that it doesn't have a stinger. This could be the reason why I've never heard of eating other types of rays. And like sharks, it excretes the chemical urea throughout its skin, and if skate is not handled properly after capture, the meat becomes contaminated. This can be detected if it smells of ammonia. It's all good information to know, though I'm glad I did my research after eating the skate. And it's also probably a good thing I chose this dish as one of the last meals I'll eat in a restaurant for a while, because I don't think I'll be cooking a skate myself anytime soon.
Ate a Skate