Posts Tagged ‘review’

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Breakfast love. (DAMASCUS BAKERY)

March 15, 2011

I am tempted to post this photo with no words at all. But that would be depriving the reader of some really great info. First of all, this is a breakfast spread put together by my sweetheart with some stuff he whipped up and some other items from Brooklyn’s incredible Damascus Bakery. The bakery is well known for fresh pitas, lavash and a selection of breads, which are also available in other locations. Onsite they turn out an enormous variety of pastries and sweets as well as some mind-blowing prepared dips and salads. Pictured above are tabouleh, muhammara and olive tapenade with a spice crusted flatbread (zataar bread, far left). There are also MG’s flourishes of perfectly cooked eggs, dried fruit, grapes, buttered toast and some homemade ricotta with honey and pine nuts. I feel royal.

It is a little sad because Damascus Bakery is located on Atlantic Avenue right next to the extremely well known Sahadi’s and might therefore live in its shadow. And while Sahadi’s is a great spot, full of bustle and bulk, Damascus has a more homey style with hand-made goods, a friendly feeling and quite possibly the world’s best halva. Both are worthy of a Cobble Hill field trip.

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Keeper. (BON APPETIT MARCH 2005)

October 21, 2010

Sometimes I find myself, like most people, overwhelmed by owning a lot of stuff. To keep that cluttered feeling at bay, a couple of times a year I do a little purging or, more likely, some creative reorganization. Books I’ve read are given away, clothes that are not appreciated get donated and the ever-growing collection of kitchen gadgets gets reduced. Among the pile that makes the cut year after year is a copy of Bon Appetit from way back March 2005. It’s funny because magazines are particularly vulnerable when it comes to filling the bin and most of the recipes are readily available online anyhow.

Yet, for five years, this issue has remained a part of  the shelf. I realize this is for several reasons, some practical and others sentimental. Back in 2005, my culinary experience was limited and I relied on recipes to tell me what was what. I purchased the magazine on the recommendation of a wonderful lady, Mrs. H, who had confidence enough to hire me to assist with her dinner parties. She did the majority of the planning and I would come in and finish things she had started or whip up dishes of her choice. She had asked me to make the paella and an ice cream cake from this mag and the mixture of success and failure I had with the recipes are lessons that stay with me to this day. Little things like; cut the ice cream cake, refreeze the slices, then serve it. Otherwise, it may taste great but it is probably melting all over the plate. Also; follow intuition more than you follow the recipe. So many factors go into cooking times and a food’s doneness that a recipe is just a guideline. Always leave plenty of extra time for prepping and finishing and make extra stock! I also remember learning, right then and there, the power of  lemon and the layer of brightness lemon juice adds to a finished dish. It’s not just garnish (as the recipe suggests) but a secret weapon.

Mrs. H was an incredibly supportive friend and client. After working with her for several months I made the decision to commit to culinary school. More than happily she wrote me a letter of recommendation which helped to seal the deal. In hindsight, attending the Natural Gourmet Institute for Food and Health was one of the best decisions I have made to date. It paved one of my major paths and working in this field has allowed me to have a viable career while pursuing all of the things I love in life. This was something I wasn’t too sure would or could happen to me.

And I feel grateful, over five years later, as I sit flipping the pages of this same magazine, seeing my old notes in the margins and wondering when I’ll have a chance to make that coconut cream pie.

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Maangchi + me. (KIMCHI CONTEST/BBQ)

July 9, 2010

It was a balmy day in June that Maangchi (of wildly popular Korean foodblog maangchi.com) held her annual meet-up in Prospect Park. As always, fans of the beautiful video-blogger came from near and far to celebrate with her. This year for the first time in meet-up history, she held a Kimchi Contest. Participants were encouraged to use recipes from her site, especially the popular Easy Kimchi, but were also welcome to submit their finest.

I was one of three judges in the contest and there were plenty of excellent submissions. From mild to fiery, young and crisp to highly fermented and hardcore! Here is a link to her extensive coverage of the event: http://www.maangchi.com/blog/new-york-kimchi-contest-report. The day was sponsored by Hanyang Supermarkets, who provided a classic and impressive K-BBQ buffet as well as Korean foods company, Sempio, who generously gave away lots of products like sesame oil, soy sauce and hot pepper paste to the picnic-ers.

I was happy to be a guest at Maangchi’s day but I am even more happy to be her friend. Great job, Maangchi! It was a great/delicious day in the park.

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Dear WOORIJIP, (KIMCHI PANCAKES)

April 9, 2010

Woorijip • 12 West 32nd Street, NYC • 212-244-1115

Though this sign says it all, I will continue with the post anyhow… You are the gem of 32nd Street (a.k.a Korea Way). Sure the block is jammed with restaurants but your cheerful, efficient food is absolutely perfect when one has limited time, (limited funds) and needs to get back to their regular stomping grounds in a hurry. It is also very accessible to people unfamiliar with K-way and the restaurants there, as it is very approachable and the casual DIY spirit makes it kind of fun.

In my latest midtown trek, you managed to get another gold star in my non-existent book of great restaurants. The first star was for the best to-go lunchboxes around, the second was for being open until 3am. The newest star is for the lunch buffet I can’t believe it took me this long to discover. For $6.50 per pound one can load up on all sorts of salads, pickles (sort of like getting the traditional banchan with your meal), and put together a plate from two long steam tables full of stews, noodles, rice dishes, seafood, veggies, and little side treats like kimchi pancakes, pork rolled in cabbage, rice cakes two ways and lots more!

I was beside myself with joy, sampling all of my Korean faves like chap chae noodles and ddukboki, as well as some new stuff I had never tried before in all of my Korean food adventures. More stars were generously bestowed upon ground tofu stew with kimchi, fried pork belly and kimbap.

I was so inspired by lunch that later on at work I made some kimchi pancakes. They were easy and delicious. Masitsseoyo! And so this post is not only an idolizing, love letter review, but also a recipe post.

A trip to Midtown is nothing without you.

Loyally yours,

Ori

EASY KIMCHI PANCAKES

1 cup of your favorite kimchi, chopped

3/4 cup juice from kimchi or water*

1 tablespoon soy sauce (plus extra for dipping)

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup flour

2 tablespoons oil (plus extra for cooking)

  • Mix kimchi, kimchi liquid or water*, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, eggs, flour and 2 tablespoons of oil together in a bowl. Should be a thick-ish pancake batter consistency. Add a bit of water if necessary.
  • Lightly coat the skillet with additional oil and heat over medium flame.
  • Drop desired amount of batter into hot pan and smooth it out to form pancake shape.
  • Cook until lightly brown, 2-3 minutes and flip. Cook on second side until brown and cooked through, about 2 minutes.
  • Continue until batter is finished. Yields 8 (5-inch) pancakes. Serve with a little bowl of soy sauce for dipping.
  • * if using water instead of kimchi juice, add a pinch of salt to the batter.

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Pizza heaven is near. (ARTICHOKE PIZZA)

March 28, 2010

Artichoke Basille’s Pizza & Brewery 328 East 14th Street , NYC  •  (212) 228-2004.

This is what I have done on various occasions, I have forced friends and loved ones to walk blocks -many blocks- out of their way for a slice of this stuff. In snow or rain, in inebriation or in just plain hunger, bringing someone important in my life to the gates of pizza heaven and then pushing them inside, o the happy joy! The authentic deliciousness of Artichoke is why, at any given moment of the night or day, there are straggles of people on 14th street lapping food off of paper plates or worse yet, massive, squirming lines waiting to eat. There is no inside seating, just a couple of counters, there is no long and useless menu, just four kinds of pizza. Perfect, delicious, unbelievable pizza in varieties like regular, Sicilian, crab and artichoke.

The first one I sampled was the namesake artichoke slice and it was kind of like eating a sofa. Pillowy and the wrong kind of chewy, full of heavy white ingredients like cream and ricotta with this big doughy crust, etc. And, while I was eating (outside the joint) some kids walked by and one of the kids was especially freaking out, yelling at people for eating this ‘burnt-ass’ rip-off pizza. He was really upset. He emphatically taunted pizza eaters his whole way to the corner. I felt  it was his right as a New Yorker to go into a tirade about his pizza opinion, but I can’t help but hope he gives it another chance, as I did.

Next time(s) around I avoided the artichoke and went for any of the other varieties and quickly, deeply have fallen in love. These Staten Island boys have figured out the oven type/temp and the ace recipe to produce the perfect cragged crust, bathed in perfect amounts of oil (which actually render your paper plate transparent) and an amazing, assertive red sauce, so hard to find but so obvious when you do that it’s nostalgic even. Toppings of  good salty cheese and fresh basil leaves make the combination of ingredients and textures attract and repel like two S.I. cousins out on a Saturday night. For reals.

So what if there’s a huge line, that’s what makes it extra-special when it’s all yours. So what if is three bucks fifty, slices are huge and I have had $4 slices in much worse places (sorry that NYC thinks it’s so special these days). Artichoke is open late and it produces righteous pizza. Makes me realize it’s high time I started to make up for all the mediocre stuff I’ve eaten over the years.  The shop is conveniently located on 14th Street just east of 1st Ave, I dare myself to avoid it when I am within a 10 block radius and I can’t (unless there is above-illustrated line). It really comes down to the fact that I love pizza because pizza, like few other things, even when it’s bad…it’s still kinda good. And when it’s great, it’s mind-blowing.

Sicilian.

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High lights. (FOOD ABROAD)

December 7, 2009

After embarking on a trip to Europe, recounting stories of all the good friends, good news and good times will take too damn long. Instead, here are a handful of delicious highlights (in pictures).

PARIS:

A villainous cheese plate:

The cheese that looks like a flower is some incredible stuff called tête de moine. It is cut horizontally with a special apparatus that shaves a thin layer  from the top of the cheese. As it is sliced in a circular direction, the cheese curls around itself. Then it melts in your mouth.

An adventurous charcuterie:

The light pinkish sausage at the top is French andouille… that lovely pattern is created by pig intestines and stomach. A little goes a long way.

BELGIUM:

Beeeeeeeeer!:

I guess I ate some stuff during the days in Belgian, but the beer! The beer is special. In this photo is a golden, delicious Tongerlo. Also among my favorites were the Westmalle beers and the rare and fantastic Wechelse Tripel. Locals say not to drink more than three. Decent advice, I guess.

AMSTERDAM:

Applecake:

Never again will I accept the expression ‘as American as apple pie’. We need to simply give up and let the Dutch have this one. Here is a photo of Dutch apple pie from a cute little eatery called Winkel that specializes in the stuff. This inexplicable pie will have me chasing the dragon until I get to try it again. (Noordermarkt 43)

Sorry France, sorry Belgium:

And here we have the little corner shop where I innocently bought some fries. I thought I would walk around and eat them but they were so so so good, I had to sit down on the nearest bench to believe what was going on in that little paper cone. When I looked up, everyone around me was eating them, all in devout silence. I got spicy mayo as my saus but i heard that peanut sauce is also a popular choice. Later still, I discovered the real people’s choice is a mix of mayo AND peanut sauce. Must immerse in local culture. Must. (Voetboogstraat 31)

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Dear Sandoony,

November 24, 2009

1158 McDonald Ave, Brooklyn

First of all, thanks so much for always hosting a great party. We think you are the best banya deal in town and we totally appreciate the long tables reserved for us, the sweet little group discounts and the fresh towels always stocked! Is there a keener way to celebrate with a pile of friends than a leisurely sauna and soak, a recline on the balcony (skin steaming in the chilled air), an awesome snack? And then do it all over again!

To make the most of this experience, it’s mandatory to observe the regulars. They come prepared with snacks, beverages, flip flops, hair masks, etc. The spa-goers claim a spot, set up shop and spend a day lounging. In and out of hot rooms and pools, snapping each other with leafy branches (platza). They read and play cards, eat a few meals with plenty of fine drinks, beer and vodka among the favorites.

Though guests may bring their own, it is the amazing quality of the food in the banya’s restaurant that is such a fantastic surprise. With well-priced house specialties like smoked salmon, borscht, pickled vegetables (including chayote and lettuce), whole prawns, and garlicy potatoes, we are transformed from a group of temporarily de-stressed and exfoliated New Yorkers into a hearty, red-nosed, robe-clad clan of Eastern blockers. The menu is extensive, everyone eats, and it doesn’t take long to get used to the idea of dining in a tiled room alongside a pool in a bathing suit. In fact, relaxed comfort might make the food taste that much better.

Though it is not fancy, everything is served with great pride and flourish. Food shaped into flowers (Sandoony is the only place this is acceptable), served with extra lemon, bright herbs, two kinds of bread and heaps of butter. The fish is perfectly cured and the soups restorative, each plate a meal in itself. Even an order of tea is accompanied by lemon, honey, sugar, milk and these fabulously sweet sour cherries. It is honest, well-done and downright delicious. No one bats an eye when a bunch of girls eat cupcakes and sip vodka. They just want to know whose birthday it is…

It’s kind of a steamy dream. Thank you.

Love,

Ori

Photos by Jean Naté.