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02/10/16 11:23am
jimmys

Crispy duck goe Vietnamese thanks to Tito Kings.

The bánh mì, a study in textures—cool pickled veggies, crunchy bread, and caramelized pork—and flavors—savory roast meats and charcuterie, and perhaps pate; hot peppers; and Asian mayo—is one of my all-time favorite sandwiches. So much so that a lifetime ago when I was a line cook at Jimmy’s No. 43 in the East Village, I took it upon myself to add it to the menu while the chef was on vacation. We had charcuterie, pickles, pork, fish sauce, and chilies in house, so I figured why not run it as a special. Chef was not pleased with my addition of what I called the Banh-Jimmy to his menu. (more…)

02/09/16 4:34pm
yensuji

Taiwanese Gourmet’s exquisite salted crispy chicken.

Taiwanese Gourmet is one of a handful of Chinese restaurants in Elmhurst that for one reason or another I have not explored. I’ve passed by it for years on my way to Elmhurst’s Thai Town and have seen it go through two name changes, but until just the other week I’d never dined there. (Believe it or not, even this intrepid omnivore has his hangups and blind spots.) But I’m here to tell you that I have seen the light, and it shines forth from Taiwanese Gourmet’s yen su ji , or salted crispy chicken ($8.95). (more…)

02/05/16 8:10am

Super Bowl 50 is almost upon us, and as usual, I’m only just learning which teams will face off Sunday evening. Such is my interest, or lack thereof, in football. Despite my apathy for team sports, I do hope all who watch the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers have a great time. Thus as a public service C+M presents a list of global snacks and goodies all of which are available in in Queens and will give your Super Bowl party much more flavor than guacamole and onion dip.

MeeKrob

1. Mee krob (Thai)
The name of this popular Thai snack literally translates to crispy noodles. It’s no mere salty indulgence, though. Like so many of my other favorite Southeast Asian snacks, the tangle of noodles and fried bits of egg is salty, sweet, spicy, and sour. Tamarind and chili combined with a chewy sweetness make mee krob eat like a Thai Rice Krispy treat. Find it at the counter at Elmhurst’s Sugar Club. Sugar Club, 81-18 Broadway, Elmhurst, 718-865-9018

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2. Fried jeffrox fish (Filipino)
Find this pescatarian answer to potato chips at Phil-Am Market, a paradise of Filipino groceries and snacks located in Woodside’s Little Manila. The translucent sheets of fried dried fish are available on Thursday through Sunday. The crunchy critters come with a sidecar of seasoned vinegar and make for excellent, if somewhat odiferous, snacking. Phil-Am Market, 40-03 70th St, Woodside 718-899-1797 (more…)

02/02/16 10:01am
INASAL

Sisilog is an offal lover’s dream breakfast.                                                         Photo: Sherri Tiesi

There’s nothing quite as satisfying as good breakfast, whether kari laksa or straight up all-American eggs and bacon. Filipino breakfast though, with its catalogue of silogs takes the morning meal game to a whole new level. Silog is a portmanteau of sinagang (fried rice) and itlog (egg). Thus longsilog is sweet pork longanisa sausage and eggs and dasilog, stars dried mikfish. The latter was my favorite until I discovered sisilog, which takes the porky offal extravaganza that is sizzling sisig and turns it into breakfast.

“Breakfast Served All Day!” exclaims the menu at Woodside’s House of Inasal. Scanning the list I immediately knew I was going to order the sisilog ($15.95). After all, why settle for pork sausage and eggs when you can have a fry-up of pork belly, liver, onions, and green chilies?  (more…)

01/28/16 11:18pm
WOHOPWONTON

The perfect amuse for American-Chinese.

As someone who often spends every waking moment seeking out and ingesting “authentic” Chinese food—Muslim lamb chops, gui lin mei fen, Sichuan cold noodles, Shanghai xiao long bao, to name a very few—I sometimes forget where I came from. I cut my teeth on Long Island strip mall Chinese—chow fun, lo mein and General Tso’s—along with dishes with names like “happy family.” To this day I think my mother—ever the peacekeeper—ordered the stir fry of beef, chicken, pork, shrimp, and scallops mixed with vegetables just because she thought the name had some sort of magical powers. Whatever domestic strife there may have been growing up, we were mostly certainly a happy family when eating Chinese food whether dim sum, Peking duck, strip mall Chinese, or one of my favorite spots of all, the subterranean den of American-Chinese splendor that is Wo Hop.

I blame monthly visits to Wo Hop with my parents and basement Thanksgiving feasts for engendering an obsession with delicious food served in basements that would reach fruition with my forays into Flushing’s Golden Shopping Mall decades later.

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01/26/16 12:22pm

PiggyAngie

Angie Mar’s creations included a pork Wellington. Photo: Galdones Photography for COCHON 555.

It takes a little more than a snowstorm to keep down a good chef and a good event. So while the rest of city especially my home borough of Queens was reeling from Jonas, it was business as usual at Cochon 555 in Brooklyn on Sunday night.

Before I set for the long bus ride to Billyburg, I told a friend about the event. “Be sure to get a picture of the red velvet cake,” he said. “I’ll be it’ll be made with pig’s blood,” I said.

PiggyMedina

Julian Medina of Hecho en Dumbo offered tacos de canasta.

With each chef given a heritage breed pig to work with, there was plenty of exquisite pork: from meatballs and stuffed shells to a salad enriched with ham and chicharrones from Upland’s Justin Smillie. As a card carrying carnivore I’m loathe to say that I enjoyed Smillie’s porcine take on panzanella, but if I could eat a salad gilded with chicharrones every day I would. I also enjoyed the tacos de canasta, or basket tacos from Julian Medina. The little wraps of stewed pork rinds and chile guajillo were lovely. For adventurous eaters like myself, Medina whipped up moronga, a pistachio blood sausage topped with chapulines, crunchy grasshoppers flavored with garlic.

PiggyCake

Angie Mar’s decadent pig’s blood red velvet cake.

“We came with 13 preparations,” Chef Angie Mar of the Beatrice Inn said as she sliced what appeared to be a red velvet wedding cake. The red came from pigs blood. The over-the-top confection also featured candied guanciale, cream cheese and lard frosting, and pork neck caramel. Before I dug into the cake though I sampled Mar’s lovely pig head pozole. And after the cake I sampled something Mar called “My Jewish Childhood.” It consisted of luscious pork fat challah, truffled lardo  with smoked pork honey and liver and onion pate with ruby port jelly.

I didn’t get to try many of Mar’s other preparations—frankly I’m not sure how the judges have the stamina to try eveyrone’s dishes—but based on what I tried I knew I had to vote for her. P.S. if you liked Cochon 555, be sure to check out next month’s Charcuterie Masters. These are meaty times, indeed.

01/23/16 12:05pm

Now that King Frost has officially made his presence known with the arrival of winter storm Jonas, it is officially soup season. Sure I’ve had plenty of bowls over the course of the past two months. But now it’s on, time to bring in the big guns. So here are seven of my favorites spanning a variety of styles—from sweet medicinal Chinese concoctions to savory noodle soups and spicy sinus clearers—and regions, including Southeast Asia and Latin America. Best of all you can find all of them without leaving the world’s borough, Queens.

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1. Pozole rojo, Taqueria Coatzingo
This Jackson Heights cantina is known for its tacos, but the specials are the real stars. That’s where I discovered pozole rojo, the spicier cousin of the Mexican pork and hominy soup. As the name implies, the broth is red—very, very red—thanks to loads of chilies. Pozole rojo employs chicken rather than pork as a base.  Served with the standard pozole fixings of diced onion, cilantro, and lime as well as shakers of oregano and red pepper, I like it think of it as Mexican penicillin. Add a few squeezes of lime along with a handful of onion and the other seasonings for one of the most head-clearing soups to be found on Roosevelt Avenue. Sour, spicy, and packed with fresh herbs, hominy, and chicken it’s sure to cure what ails you. Best of all it’s always on the specials menu! Taqueria Coatzingo, 76-05 Roosevelt Ave., Jackson Heights, 718-424-1977 (more…)

01/20/16 3:31pm
COCHON2

Photo courtesy of COCHON555

These are meaty times in New York City. With Cochon 555 this weekend and next month’s Charcuterie Masters, I’m going to be in hog heaven. As a lover of the smoky arts and heritage breed pigs I’m excited for this year’s Cochon 555. Heck I’m even making the trek to Brooklyn for it. The event pairs five chefs—Justin Smillie of Upland, Angie Mar of The Beatrice Inn, Hillary Sterling of Vic’s, Danny Mena of Hecho en Dumbo and Mike Poiarkoff of Vinegar Hill—with five heritage breed pigs, including mulefoots, old spots, large blacks, and Berkshire breeds.

The five chefs will prepare a maximum of six dishes from one whole hog and their utilization will help them win votes from a crowd of hungry gourmands and celebrated judges. As a veteran of the competitive BBQ circuit I can’t wait to see—and eat—what the chefs make, I’m particularly stoked for Angie Mar’s creation. (more…)

01/20/16 10:41am

Just as New York City delis have their Italian combo sandwiches–some as big as your forearm like the Bomb at Sal, Kris, and Charlie’s and some garlicky, like the Uncle Joe at Sorriso’s—New Orleans has its muffuletta. Now the Big Easy favorite has come to Sunset Park, Brooklyn, thanks to John Ratliff, of Ends Meat NYC. Ratliff’s muffuletta is lighter and greener, but no less delicious than any I’ve had in New Orleans.

The sandwich begins with the namesake Sicilian muffuletta roll from Generoso’s, a fourth-generation Italian bakery. Ratliff always uses his housemade mortadella and rotates out the other meat. On the day I visited it was cacciatorini, a black peppercorn salami. (more…)

01/18/16 11:41pm
HUB1

Chicken ain’t nothin’ but a bird.

With the exception of certain Mexican cantina/hookah lounge Tut’s Hub might well be the strangest restaurant in Astoria. I’ve never been able to quite get behind the Mexican hookah lounge, but Tut’s Hub wedged between two discounts shops on Steinway Street drew me right in with its promise of “Royal Cuisine” and over-the-top Temple of Dendur style.

Once inside I was a little overwhelmed by all the menu choices, design your own pasta, design your own feteer, plus a salmon dish that they seemed all too eager to push on me. I settled for the chicken shawarma platter and grabbed a can of Fayrouz, an apple flavored Egyptian malt beverage. (more…)