Articles by

Joe DiStefano

Newsstand
03/22/17 2:49pm

Chef Will Horowitz is the type of cook who’s as comfortable making smoked alpaca stew as he is creating vegetarian charcuterie, or in the  case of the above video constructing a sweet and sassy spin on the ham and cheese sandwich. It’s called the Sweater Weather and he’s serving it at Harry & Ida’s Meat and Supply Co.

I have yet to eat one, but the combination of smoked pork loin, fried eggplant, kicky pimento cheese, piquant pickled green tomatoes, fruity mincemeat, and maple cream looks absolutely heavenly. Click on over to Esquire’s Napkins Necessary for the recipe, or better yet throw on a sweater and take a stroll over to Harry & Ida’s.

Harry & Ida’s Meat & Supply Co., 189 Avenue A., 646- 864-0967

03/21/17 2:17pm
BUM-THANG

Bumthang puta are named for a region in Bhutan.

I don’t know very much about snooker—the game of choice at Weekender Billiard—a Bhutanese hangout in Woodside. I do however know my way around a plate of spicy cold noodles, and I’m always eager to try variations from different cultures. Enter bumthang puta, Bhutan’s spicy answer to cold soba noodles. (more…)

03/16/17 3:16pm
TIMHOWAN

There’s a reason Tim Ho Wan is famous for its pork buns.

When I heard there were lines snaking around the block for the first U.S. outpost of Tim Ho Wan, a Hong Kong-based dim sum chain, I thought, “Surely we have better in Flushing.” Still that Michelin star had me real curious about what was so special about Tim Ho Wan’s dim sum beyond the fact that it’s served 24 hours a day from check off menus instead of carts.

The answer, as I found out the other day, is that the dim sum at the East Village yum cha parlor isn’t really all that special. The steamed rice roll with shrimp was passable, but lacking in rice flavor, then again I’ve been spoiled by Joe’s. Pork and shrimp shiu mai, were meh. There is one item that stands head and shoulders above the rest though and is truly best in class, the baked BBQ pork buns. (more…)

03/15/17 10:52am
MAPLECANDY

Hugue Dufour making maple ‘taffy.’

By my calendar there are only five days left until the start of spring. Winter’s reasserted itself in what some New Yorkers, myself included, deem a rather weak blizzard. Nevertheless there’s plenty of snow on the ground, which means two things: one, tromping around the park, something I’ve been doing for years; and two, making homemade maple taffy/snowcones, something I tried for the first time this past Sunday. (more…)

03/08/17 4:22pm
MACYSCHICKEN

The spicy fried chicken sandwich from The Rooster’s Crow in Macy’s Herald Square.

A department store is the last place New Yorkers would expect to find a winning fried chicken sandwich. After all we Iive in a city of Fukus, Chick-fil-A’s, and Shake Shacks—each of which offer exemplary fried chicken sandwiches. So I was very surprised to learn that the basement of Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square is home to a delicious spicy fried chicken sandwich ($7.95) from a counter called The Rooster’s Crow.

It’s part of a concept called Chef St. NYC, which is supposed to mimic the city’s food truck scene. In addition to fried chicken, it offers Italian, Tutto Buono; hamburgers, Rollies; and ramen, Tabo Noodles. I’ve never thought of ramen as street food and prefer to think of Chef St. as a mini food hall. But back to that sandwich, it’s certainly the best spicy fried chicken I’ve ever eaten in department store. It’s easily in my top five fried chicken sandwiches in New York City. For an extra kick ask the dude behind the counter to hook you up with some scorcher hot sauce.

The Rooster’s Crow, Chef St. NYC. Macy’s 151 W. 34 St., New York, NY

03/07/17 3:24pm
jackfruit

Stir fried young jackfruit is symphony of flavors.

“You have to try the Northern style food at Thai Diva,” my friend Chompoo who knows a thing or too about Thai cuisine told me via Facebook a few weeks ago. And then when the Sunnyside restaurant was favorably reviewed by Eater critic Robert Sietsema another pal said,” I’ll try it if it passes the ‘Joe DiStefano’ test.” Well I’m here to say that Thai Diva passed with flying colors.

My first visit to Thai Diva was with my friend Joel who is even more obsessed with Thai food than I am. When he told his Thai friends back home in Boston that he was visiting Queens to eat at Thai Diva, they immediately began suggesting dishes. One of their recommendations was tum kanoon ($11) a heap of stir-fried young jackfruit shot through with chilies and kaffir lime leaves. It came with some pork crackling and cucumbers. I’m familiar with Indonesian preparation of the fruit wherein it’s cooked with coconut milk and aromatics to a brisket like texture. Tum kanoon is somewhat less mellow with a good amount of chili heat balanced out by the aromatic lime. Cucumbers and sticky rice help temper the fire. (more…)

03/01/17 3:47pm

VioletPate

You would think after a weekend spent surrounded by smoked and cured meats at Charcuterie Masters, I’d be tired of ham and pâté. Not so. Which is exactly how I found myself at Violet’s Bake Shoppe ordering a Pâté Supreme bánh mì earlier today. My go to order is the house special, which features crumbled roast pork and Vietnamese charcuterie.

In addition to a homemade pork liver pâté, the Supreme ($6.50) features Vietnamese ham and salami with all the standard fixins. The cold cuts and shmear of peppery pâté combined with the veggies and fresh jalapeños made for a satisfying lunch.

In case you’re wondering the Charcuterie Masters 2017 Grand Champion was Mark Elia of Hudson Valley Sausage Company who took home the crown for his liverwurst. I’ll bet it would be just splendid on a Vietnamese sandwich!

Violet’s Bake Shoppe, 72-36 Austin Street, Forest Hills, 718-263-3839 

03/01/17 10:04am
NATA

Pastel de nata, Portugal’s signature dessert.

Portugal—just the very sound of the country sounds warm, and true it is, but this is also a country full of flavors. So, while you’re out soaking up the sun, you should also take some time to do some gastronomic research during your stay and indulge in the delicious food and Portugal has to offer. Here are some of  the country’s best best food and drink.

1. Pastel de nata
These custard tarts are both a treat and a cornerstone of Portuguese culinary culture, and you simply can’t leave the country without trying one – there are plenty of places, too, so there’s no excuse to, either. The dessert varies slightly depending whereabouts you are in Portugal, but one of the best places to sample these sweet sensations is the Antiga Confeitaria de Belem, in Lisbon, where they are known as Pastéis de Belem. The shop is a hit with locals and tourists alike and is one of the oldest in Portugual for producing this dessert, so they sure know what they’re doing! (more…)

02/23/17 9:00am
METTA-RAMEN

The richest chicken soup in LIC or anywhere else.

Keizo Shimamoto’s Ramen Shack, a spinoff of a stand that debuted at Smorgasburg Queens, sits down the block from the Queensbridge Houses. The ramen obsessive who eats hundreds of bowls of the Japanese comfort food a year offers seven classical varieties, including shio and tonkatsu, and four specialty bowls. It’s on the specialty list that I found Metta World Paitan ($13). (more…)

02/22/17 11:44am
cherryvalley

A sandwich of heroic proportions!

“I’m going to take you to a real Queens institution,” my pal said. “Someplace you’ve never been. When we pulled up to the corner I saw a spot I’ve been hearing about for years, Cherry Valley Deli & Grill. For a guy who’s tasked himself with writing about sandwiches every Wednesday it’s amazing I’ve never been to this neighborhood institution boasting more than 80 sandwiches with fanciful names like the Bushman (chicken cutlet with bacon, brown gravy and American cheese on a toasted garlic hero) and the Z-Zoo (grilled chicken with bacon, mozzarella, nonion rings, and brown gravy on a toasted garlic hero). (more…)