Posts Tagged ‘Brooklyn’


The old man + the snack. (SARDINES + PICKLES)

September 16, 2009


In the last several years I have found myself thoroughly enjoying sardines as a snack here and there. I believe it began back in ’04, when I first grilled fresh sardines in a restaurant. Seeing as how delicious they were just slightly charred wearing nothing but some salt and lemon, I decided that they couldn’t be so bad from a can. Then began what I refer to as my ‘old man snack’; canned sardines on a cracker, with a hard boiled egg, with hot sauce, in a pita with mustard and greens, etc. It may be reminiscent of someone’s hobo-grandad, but the truth is, there are many excellent boutique companies that are canning very good quality sardines/fish as we speak. In some supermarkets, the section of canned fish is extensive, tins hailing from all parts of the world. The brand I have been gravitating toward is Cole’s, a Portuguese sustainable foods company that catches with care and packs the firm, flaky fish in olive oil or all-natural sauce concoctions of their own.

Perhaps the age-old, almost folkloric, popularity of canned sardines stems from the fact that they are just one of those extremely convenient foods. I know that preserving fish helped people travel and conquer and stuff like that further afield than they otherwise could have. Or it could be because they complement one’s diet with omega 3’s, calcium, iron, vitamins D + B12, phosphorous, potassium and protein and the wise ones have always known this. Today, sardines are enjoying a renaissance. Since the small catch (sardines, trout and mackerel) don’t harbor toxins like bigger tuna and salmon, benefits can be had without as much worry of side effects. Peel open a can and you will see that weird old sardines play very nicely with other ingredients that might be hanging around in your fridge or pantry. My favorite way to eat this superfood snack is on a whole grain flatbread piled with a chunk of pickle or two. Bold flavors and textures get together just right. If you are close enough to heaven to be eating McClure’s Spicy Spears, chop up some of that red chili pepper and pop it on top. Old meets new.



Dear Dokebi,

May 12, 2009



199 Grand St • Williamsburg, Brooklyn (front door/restaurant + back door/bar)

One can say I’m on the rebound after leaving my last steady Korean restaurant back in Queens. Now that I am a Brooklyn resident, all is well! Yet I search for a meal to fill the void where Tofu and Noodles once was, a cozy neighborhood place I can turn to when the need to eat Korean food arises, which is often. I am always saying that if I feel a little ‘off’ or sort of run down spicy, effervescing Korean food without fail cures what ails. And anyway I crave it voraciously every couple of weeks. That is why I keep coming back, that is why I can’t stay away.

I feel lucky just having you close by! You too have excellent banchan, some items very reminiscent of the ex- and some brand new ones to enjoy. Those little blocks of egg you serve, more like a custard than the usual omelette-like manifestation, are so light and silky they almost disappear upon the palate. And what was in that spinach? Garlic and miso? Also delicious. Yes, and thank you for your fabulous kimchi, fish cake and sprouts, too. They help me long for my former go-to place a little less with every bite.

Since your menu is much bigger, it is difficult to know you intimately (as of yet), but I plan on getting to know you better. It seems that one of your specialties is Korean BBQ, which I have not tried, but I do spy on others boisterously digging in on any given visit. So far, I concentrate on the stews and I am a big fan of the whole grain rice you offer alongside. The tiny cubes of sweet potato hidden in there are a nice textural change to all that bitey rice. I am also really into the bibimbap. I don’t mind paying the extra $2 for the stone bowl, though I don’t see how it could be eaten from any other vessel. But I know that I have had to accept the higher price point of the neighborhood in general and especially in my frequent Korean food fests. I do appreciate the saving grace… with $8 lunch specials I make my way through the menu without feeling too jaded.

Dear sweet Dokebi, you are a great bar + grill with a great happy hour and alot of heartfelt food to give. After a 5-year relationship with the last place, please forgive me, it is a little hard to get over the super-low prices, the strictly authentic, hearty fare, the unassuming atmosphere I found there… But our relationship is new and exiting and I trust that it will grow.
Yours truly,


I paid $9 for a chocolate bar: Mast Brothers chocolate

January 28, 2009

I paid $9 for a chocolate bar. And in these tumultuous financial times, by blogging about it, I think I will count my minor rebellion as… research. Mast Brothers Chocolate had entered and left my consciousness several times since reading a piece on this collaboration in Edible Brooklyn a few months back. Their product lingered in my mind because it is the only bean-to-bar chocolate creation in all of New York, and one of the few in this country. The Mast Brothers, Rick and Michael, travel to locations such as Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Madagascar to source whole cocoa beans from small farms. They bring the selections home to Brooklyn and make their skillful confections from absolute scratch. Of the bars wrapped in decorative paper (some labeled with the region), I chose the Dark Milk Chocolate (60% Cocoa) + Salt & Pepper. The king and queen of condiments sold me in a snap because I love the integration of salt into sweets, and I am never afraid of pepper. Never. The ‘dark milk’ chocolate factor did not occur to me until I got home. It may seem an oxymoron but, as I learned, it indicates the best of both worlds.

As a part of my ‘research’, I really paid close attention while I was eating this chocolate. And, laugh if you will, I learned that in art school. We had one of those take-your-shoes-off-in-class instructors who made us eat a single raisin for 30 minutes, noting what our mouths were doing, what the piece of dried fruit was doing, where our thoughts were going, etc. It seemed ridiculous at the time to us graphic design students but now that I am in the food business…well, it still seems kind of ridiculous. But yesterday, paying attention paid off. Each time my teeth bit down I encountered all of the velvety, melty-ness of milk chocolate. As they parted, in the natural repetition of chewing, the note of perfect dark chocolate dashed away any doubt that this chocolate was milk-focused. The pepper was quite subdued, it sort of grounded the flavors with a subtle earthy foundation. Then there was salt –a bit player that completely steals the show. The crumb-sized crystals were causing my mouth to water like crazy and deliver all of the delicate and rich flavors to every part of my palate. ‘My head is like a washing machine full of chocolate!’ I told Miss S after a few glasses of wine (a friendly pairing of Washington State Merlot from Sunset Rd. Vintners, 2006). Earlier I had discovered that the chocolate also went insanely well with a tannic cup of Oolong tea. Miss S tried a small bite of Dark Milk Salt Pepper with some cheese from the Basque country and was very pleased…

Though no aspect of the Mast Brothers’ meticulous business can be described as ‘easy’ there is something about the straightforwardness that translates as simplicity. It is this unclouded simplicity that allows the quality of the ingredients and the process to shine through, providing us with a beautiful handcrafted chocolate bar that is -simply- exceptional. To add to the value, just eat it slow.

Available at the following shops:

or the Mast Brothers’ very own location @ 105 North Third Street, between Berry Street and Wythe Avenue • Williamsburg


Dear Walter Foods,

October 27, 2008


253 Grand Street • Williamsburg, Brooklyn

You are a new face in a hood that seems saturated with restaurants…until the clock strikes one. Then the choices boil down to pizza and maybe a taco or two. Sometimes people who’ve been known to keep strange hours want a proper meal, not necessarily fast food, so thank you for a surprising late-night feast on Friday. We were recommended by our birthday-girl friend because the latest dinner service we could think of in the area was over. It was almost 2am upon arrival and the waiter seated us for dinner without so much as a huff. Before too long, and a few subtle questions it was confirmed that you are a relative of Barrio Chino. Great place! The sopa Azteca is a showstopper. But hey! This is about Walter.

As diners, MG and I have a good time no matter, either praising a meal or tearing it to tiny pieces. Most everything was great, the quality was excellent and our beverage pairings, with the help of crisp shirt waiter, were definitely a success. First course was a mix-n-match oyster plate, a little sparkling wine and one frothy, honey laden El Diablo. The oysters were fantastic! Sitting patiently in their pools of liquor accompanied by a fine mignonette (which I seriously wanted to drown everything in) and a cocktail sauce with extra-generous horseradish so only a dab was needed or else it would overpower the oyster. A spicy butternut squash soup followed with a punch of unimpressive heat which lacked a note other than hot-ness. Crunchy almond garnish was nice. In honesty, I do not love cream in soups which made it velvety and smooth but heavy.

Excitement for the menu took over and though it was a big undertaking of food, we went on to order the short rib burger and the lobster club with fries and salad respectively. A surf and turf of sandwiches. We imagined the short rib to be the shreddy long cooked ribs that we know so well formed into some type of patty, but instead it was simply genius…the short rib meat ground up and prepared like a regular burger. Served mid rare with bacon and cheese on a roll so shiny I could see myself, it was an exemplary specimen. The fries were killer too. If I had only kept that damn ramekin of mignonette!

After feeble attempts to tuck into the lobster club, we only got through half due to extreme fullness. The chunks of lobster were well sized and perfectly cooked, though overwhelmed by copious but ever-delicious bacon. Even just three strips per side is a little too much when trying to feature exquisite (I love that word!) lobster, sturdy as it may be. The accompanying salad was quite salty. You’d wonder after all that great stuff who is really paying attention to the second-class side salad…well, I guess we were because we immediately agreed that it was salty and after all that rich fare something a little green was definitely needed to cleanse the old palates.

With the sandwiches we had a Hitachino Pale Ale which had an interesting clove not clover taste (we questioned their relation, don’t think there’s any) and a good dark German ale on the waiter’s recommendation, love the bowtie. The staff was pro and friendly which can be hard to come by in these parts and the bar was lively. It got a little loud in there but it is at least 50% drinkin’ bar after all, so we don’t think you should worry about it. Schmancy, tried and true comfort food late at night…Walter, you’ve got a combo that could fly. Hope to see you soon over a French Dip.

Best of luck,