Creme’s chocolate, praline, and pistachio éclairs are exquisite
Flushing has been home to Asian-owned and operated French inspired bakeries of middling quality, notably Tous Les Jours and Paris Bakery, for more than a decade. Now the largely Asian community has a real deal French bakery run by an honest to goodness Frenchman. His name is Rudolf Merlin and his bakery, called Creme, opened quietly back in January in a most unlikely location, New Age Market, an Asian supermarket in the heart of the K-tropolis that is Northern Boulevard. Only in Queens can one find cases lined with croissants, éclairs, and tarts scant feet away from a vendor selling Korean kimbap. (more…)
Shanghai noodles and xiao long bao at Diverse Dim Sum.
They were easily my favorite xiao long bao in downtown Flushing. I’ve missed the juicy, translucent packages of pork and crab these past four months as much as I’ve missed warm sunshine. Before Flushing Mall closed back in January I asked Diverse Dim Sum’s owner where I could find their soup dumplings. He said they were going to reopen on Kissena Boulevard. I’m pleased to say Diverse Dim Sum is back and it’s a lot closer than Kissena. They’ve set up shop at New York Food Court. (more…)
“This one wants to try something really weird,” the parent of a young man on my most recent Flushing Chinatown food tour said. We had already tried fu qi fei pian, the Sichuan mélange of offal that combines tripe, tendon, and beef shin, so I knew the kid was a tough customer. He seemed satisfied by the plate of crunchy Chengdu style pig ears we shared at Golden Mall. (more…)
The first time I met Ed Cotton, executive chef of Sotto 13, he showed me how to make a turducken, a rather involved process that clearly demonstrated the second-generation chef’s love of all things charcuterie. In addition to being an expert charcuterer, pizza man, and pasta maker Cotton’s an L.I.C. guy and I am happy to announce that he will be cooking at The Catskills Comes to Queens. Thanks for taking the time out of your busy sked to answer 7 Questions Ed!
How did you become a chef? I became a chef because of my father. I found what he did for a living very fascinating. I must have been five or so. It was interesting seeing cooks chop, cut and prepare things. That looked so fun to me.
What’s your favorite thing about being at the helm of Sotto 13? One of my favorite things about being at the helm is that we have such a small kitchen and staff, so it’s very easy to talk to my staff. I can show them stuff and talk to them whenever because there’s nowhere to hide.
So let me get this straight. You’re making rabbit mortadella hot dogs for The Catskills Comes to Queens? How in the world did you come up with that idea? Yes, I’m going to call them morty dogs. I love making all charcuterie, sausages, terrines, and all that stuff. We currently make rabbit mortadella for one of our wood-fired pizzas, so I wanted to take it in another direction. So that’s when I decided to make a rabbit mortadella hot dog. The garnishes won’t be as traditional as a normal dog but it will complement it for sure. (more…)
KFC’S Double Down in all its cheesy, chicken glory.
Let me let you in on a dirty little secret. Sometimes the search to find a sandwich to write about every Wednesday isn’t easy. Sometimes I’m driven to desperate measures. And that’s how I came to try the KFC Double Down, the fast-food chain’s frankensandwich of two fried chicken breasts in lieu of a bun with bacon, cheese, and mystery sauce in between.
Desperation to find a sandwich to write about aside, what really spurred me to try it was the three-foot picture of the sandwich outside an Astoria KFC that bore the come-on “Back for a limited time.” Once inside I couldn’t find the 610-calorie behemoth on the menu board. As I stood there confused, I was reminded of many marijuana-fueled high-school nights where I stood slack-jawed for a seeming eternity in front of a fast-food menu. (more…)
The Madison Square Park area has never been known for izakaya, the Japanese gastropubs that are haunts of salarymen, sake drinkers, and adventurous eaters alike. Izakaya NoMad is out to change all that as I learned during a press dinner recently. With a whimsical dining room featuring a Godzilla mural, it offers an accessible alternative that sits somewhere between the rarefied air of a Sakagura and St. Marks’ grease bespattered yakitori joints. (more…)
“Sriracha chocolate cake?” I muttered quizzically as I browsed the cupcake selection at Silk Cakes. “It’s a Southeast Asian . . .” the gal behind the counter stopped mid-sentence as I interrupted to tell her that I had indeed heard of the ubiquitous “rooster sauce.” My surprise stemmed from seeing the hot sauce namechecked at an upscale bakery instead of a pho joint or hipster sandwich shop. (more…)
Brisket with Swiss and gravy and pastrami at David’s.
I’ve been hearing about David’s House of Brisket for ages. The Crown Heights institution is unusual in several respects. Not only is it a Jewish deli in a neighborhood better known for jerk chicken and doubles, it has the distinction of being the only Jewish deli run by Yemeni Muslims. So when my pal Noah asked me to have lunch there with him I said yes.
“You’ve got to get the brisket with cheese and gravy,” Noah said, reminding me that even though it serves Jewish comfort food, David’s is decidedly not kosher. (more…)
“Live from killer Queens” so begins BOOMBAP! Episode 2 of a new Korean cooking showl from Woodside, Queens-based rapper Lyricks. The show takes its name from the 90s rap style with the “Dorito crunch snare” and is also a play on bap, the Korean word for rice.
Lyricks, aka Rick Lee, eschews measurements and teaches cooking in the way I imagine his parents and grandmother taught him. “I’m not trying to disrespect the ones doing it scientifically, the obes that went to school, the ones that this is their life,” he says in Episode 0. ” Much respect, I’m trying to work to your level.”
This approach combined with his MC persona makes for fun and mouthwatering watching. “It’s serious when I bring in the Kumon lamp,” he says before beginning to make braised mackerel stew for his girlfriend.
“Ladies, at my age it doesn’t matter if you’re cute. The question is, ‘Do you mince?’” Lyricks says managing to combine knife skills and relationship advice. The Korean-American rapper says that since he’s almost 30 he made his stew a little less spicy. “If you’re younger than me and your soup doesn’t look redder than this I’m a slap you.” I’m looking forward to a gamjatang tutorial.
I love having guests on my food tours try po cha—the salty Tibetan butter tea—served throughout Himalayan (aka Jackson) Heights. I like the stuff particularly on a cold winter—or spring—day. Not everyone’s a fan, though. Andrew Zimmern hated butter tea when I introduced him to it. (more…)