Articles by

Joe DiStefano

Newsstand
10/17/14 11:01am
DELIGHT

The most delightful Middle Eastern sweetmeats in Rego Park, Queens.

“That’s Turkish delight,” the gentleman behind the counter at Queens Bazaar Foods told me and my tour group as I held up a box filled with amber colored disks and chunks rolled in pistachio. “Lokum, apricot and pistachio,” he said by way of further explanation.

It was my first time hearing the word lokum. I’d ever seen the confection looking quite like this. I am more accustomed to the gelatinous cubes dusted in white powder. Lebanese lokum is a world apart from those. It puts the delight in Turkish delight. When we left the shop my tour guests and I noshed on a few bites. Everyone agreed the chewy morsels flavored with pistachio, apricot, and rosewater were amazing. We only ate a little bit as we’d just taken down a gigantic xachapuri at Marani. I stashed the rest away, with the plan of writing about the best Lebanese sweets in Rego Park. (more…)

10/15/14 2:22pm
MCGRIDDLE

Best logo stamped fast-food breakfast sandwich ever.

“Do you eat fast food?” the physician’s assistant asked me yesterday during my annual checkup. For a moment I wondered whether cumin lamb skewers consumed on Queens street corners qualified and decided they did not fit the fast-food bill.

“About two or three times a year,” I responded. Most of those times are on road trips and the idea of the food—be it a Big Mac, Whopper, or Taco Bell Burrito Supreme—always far exceeds the end product. It’s as if I’m trying to capture some mystical childhood fast food experience. I’m convinced that if Hardee’s, which I recall as having magnificent char-grilled flavor, still existed in New York City I would be a happy man.  Call it chasing the fast food dragon. (more…)

10/13/14 11:17am
GALAXYSPARE

A satellite of golden fried porcine love.

As a self-avowed Chinese food expert, I have a confession. I’ve probably eaten more smoky American style barbecue spare ribs than sticky sweet Chinese ones. My favorite Chinese ribs these days have to be the Dongbei style Muslim lamb chop as served at Fu Run in Flushing’s magnificent Chinatown. Recently I discovered a close second, and what’s certainly my favorite Flushing pork rib. It’s another Dongbei specialty, suan xian pai gu, garlic flavor spare ribs. (more…)

10/08/14 10:13am

MIGA1

La Nueva Bakery is the only hybrid Uruguayan-Colombian bakery I’ve ever encountered. Savory Colombian snack breads like pan de bono and pan de queso sit in the case beside Uruguayan treats like dulce de leche-filled churros and the buttery twists known as hornitos. And there are Uruguayan sandwiches de miga, dainty crustless triple deckers with various fillings sold in packages of six. They line the deli case like so many savory layer cakes. (more…)

10/07/14 9:47am
CHARLES

Breakfast of champions at Chez Charles in Harlem.

Nobody ever accused me of writing a blog about health food. Thus the subject of today’s Twofer Tuesday, Charles’ Country Pan  Fried Chicken in Harlem. Now I’m not going to get into the debate about who makes the best Southern fried chicken in New York City, but let’s just say that Mr. Charles Gabriel’s is the best I’ve ever had for breakfast.

When you’ve journeyed all the way up to Chez Charles, it’s best to go for broke. So my buddy and I did, ordering that soul food power duo, fried chicken andf pigs feet.  The crunchy juicy chicken lashed with hot sauce and unctuous pigs feet were just part of our complete breakfast that morning.  And heck, those collards almost  made it a healthy one. Almost.

Charles’ Country Pan Fried Chicken, 2839 Frederick Douglass Blvd., Harlem, 212-281-1800

10/01/14 10:11am
PHAYUL1

Sausage and peppers, Tibetan style.

The idea for the Tibetan Triple Decker came to me while eating gyuma ($8) at Phayul. A few bites of gyuma ($8) had brought back happy memories of my father grilling up huge batches of sausage and peppers and serving sandwiches to my extended family at my annual birthday barbecue. With the addition of a bit of chili paste the beef blood sausage fried up with onions and red and green peppers tasted just like my 40-year-old memories of hot Italian sausage. This would make a great sandwich on a steamed tingmo, I thought to myself. (more…)

09/29/14 11:53am

Crazy Crab, a stealth Burmese restaurant masquerading as a Cajun crab boil/pan-Asian eatery might just be one of my favorite places in downtown Flushing. The crab boils themselves—get the off menu green curry sauce—make for some fun, messy eating. But it’s the Burmese specialties like tea leaf salad, ohn-no kout swei, and Yunnanese yellow tofu that get me really excited and really hungry. So when Gina Liu asked me to stop by for a taping of Eyewitness News New York’s Neighborhood Eats with Lauren Glassberg I immediately said yes. (more…)

09/24/14 9:48am
Veal-Tongue-Slider2

Move over White Castle, veal tongue sliders are where it’s at!

Veal tongue, whether stir fried in spicy Tibetan chele katsa or sliced paper thin as a deli sandwich is a wonderful thing. Creamy rich tongue and heart are probably my two favorite types of beef offal. So when Andrew Zimmern, a man who has forgotten more than I shall ever hope to know about entrails posted a recipe for veal tongue sliders on his web site I had to check it out. (more…)

09/22/14 12:10pm
AYAM3

Nasi tim ayam medan, aka chicken and rice very nice.

To say I’ve missed the food bazaars held at Astoria’s Masjid al Hikmah might just be the understatement of the millennium. So I was quite stoked to attend yesterday’s comeback food bazaar. As much as I love the festive atmosphere and seeing my favorite vendors like the bakso lady, it’s the chance to unearth new dishes seldom New York City restaurants that really excites me. Yesterday’s discovery: nasi tim ayam medan, an Indonesian take on Hainanese chicken and rice. (more…)

smooklerJoshua Smookler the man behind Pete Wells’ favorite ramen has been a busy man of late. In between the birth of his daughter and the run-up to Mu Ramen,which is set to open mid to late October, he was kind enough answer Seven Questions.

Will you be unveiling any new ramen?
Yes, we will have four types of ramen that will be seasonal. Three of the ramens will always be on the menu; Mu Ramen, Spicy Miso, and the Tonkotsu 2.0. I have not decided which four we will open with but we will always have five ramens on the menu and one rotating on a weekly basis.

What types of ramen could they be? It could be anything from Tsukemen, Foie, Duck, Pata Negra, Parmesan, Seafood, Shoyu, Yuzu, Paitan, Kimchi…basically these ramens I have mentioned I have already made.

They are all very delicious, but I want to keep it fresh. So we will see which are popular and which are not. It really depends on the guests, how I feel, and what inspires me. (more…)