Articles by

Joe DiStefano

Newsstand
10/23/14 10:36am
oddfellows3

Photo: @kat_odell

Foie gras, the rich decadent fatty liver of a duck or goose, always pairs well with something sweet like a glass of Sauternes, or perhaps some maple syrup. Leave it to Sam Mason and his crew at OddFellows Ice Cream Co. to turn it into a frozen confection. Last year the scoop shop served foie gras ice cream paired with a tart blueberry soda. This year Mason created something a little more playful, a drumstick that childhood staple. The inside of the cone is lined with dark chocolate and the scoop of foie gras ice cream is also covered in chocolate and then sprinkled with peanuts. The adult treat comes with a grownup price too, $7. It was well worth it last Friday on what I am pretty sure was the last day of Indian Summer.

OddFellows Ice Cream Co.,  175 Kent Ave, Brooklyn, 347-599-0556;  75 East 4th St., 917-475-1812

10/22/14 10:32am
BZGRILL1

It’s a far cry from those pizza shop mysery meat sandwiches.

Up until a few years ago the word “gyro” conjured up images of the languidly spinning towers of mystery meat. And then I tasted BZ Grill’s pork gyro. It’s a sandwich that simultaneously elevated my opinion of pork itself and the oft-maligned gyro. Instead of mystery meat the pita is stuffed with succulent slices of pork with crispy edges. It’s one of Queens’ finest sandwiches. (more…)

10/21/14 10:22am

 jason xianJason Wang, CEO of Xi’an Famous Foods, took a business that his father David “Liang Pi” Shi started in the 36th chamber of Flushing’s fabled Golden Shopping Mall, and made it truly famous spawning a mini-empire, specializing in cold skin noodles—squidgy, porous blocks of wheat gluten and chewy ribbons of wheat starch, tossed with bean sprouts, cilantro, slivers of cucumber and a “secret sauce” made from sesame paste, vinegar, and chili oil, among other things—and other regional specialties. The 25-year old noodle mogul took a break from the Forbes 30 under 30 Conference and was kind enough to answer 7 Questions.

Tell me about the two new Xi’an Famous Foods stores you have in the pipeline? How will they differ from
the other locations?
They’ll be very similar to our later locations in terms of the food, but each location has its own feel. The new Greenpoint location, for example, will have a backyard dining area, the first one of Xi’an Famous Foods with one, and the upcoming 34th Street location will have the biggest space out of all of our stores, with a mezzanine level featuring skylights.

You went to culinary school for a little bit, did that change your approach to the cuisine at Xi’an Famous Foods?
It widened my view of cuisine a bit, as it gave me an idea of how western cuisine is prepared, the fundamentals, and how in the end, it is still similar in some ways to Chinese cuisine. While it did not directly affect our ways of preparing our foods, it does make me more aware of possibilities and possible future applications of western approaches to our eastern ways of cooking. (more…)

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…)