12/22/16 2:36pm

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Seasons Greetings and all that jazz dear reader. As a public service, C+M presents our very first ultra last-minute holiday gift guide where you’re sure to find something perfect for the food lover in your life.

uzbekdimlama1

Uzbek hospitality, League of Kitchens style.

Join The League of Kitchens for a Workshop
There’s a good reason The League of Kitchens sounds like the League of Nations. That’s because it offers a variety of globetrotting cooking workshops—Indian, Lebanese, Japanese, Uzbek to name a few—taught by immigrant home cooks who are eager to share their food, culture, and family recipes with students. A while back I took the Ubzek class and had a blast. League of Kitchens gift certificates may be purchased here. Looking for something to do Christmas Eve? The League still has a few slots open for an immersive vegetarian Indian cooking class.

mwells-steak

Give the Gift of an Avant Garde Steakhouse Experience at M. Wells
My love of Chef Hugue Dufour’s cooking at M. Wells Steakhouse—from an aged porterhouse dinner that comes with escargot bone marrow and pomme aligot to such dishes as a venison T-bone and a lovely steak tartare—is no secret. Why not treat your meat eating loved ones with an M. Wells Steakhouse gift certificate? To purchase one call (718) 786-9060. (more…)

12/05/16 11:11pm

As someone who’s constantly devouring the delicious diversity that is Queens it’s possible to become spoiled by choices, even jaded. Luckily for me leading food tours affords an opportunity to turn others on to the culinary delights of Queens. My passion for the borough and its food is rekindled by seeing it from somebody else’s perspective. Which is precisely what happened when I led ace travel blogger Jon Barr on a whirlwind food tour of Jackson aka Himalayan Heights last week.

“It smelled so good the second I stepped off that train and walked down the stairs,” Barr exclaimed as we strolled over to the aptly name Diversity Plaza for our first stop, some Indian chaat. No tour of the hidden gems of Jackson Heights is complete without a visit to Lhasa Fast Food where we feasted upon momo and cold skin sushi.

All told we visited four countries and two continents in under 10 minutes, plus I got to use my Telemundo announcer’s voice. Be sure to check out Jon’s Youtube channel here and click here for my info on my Queens food tours.

11/27/16 2:03pm
phayul-friedmomo

Fried beef momo, just one of many delicacies that will be offered.

With winter just around the corner, my pals and I from Queens Dinner Club have chosen a most seasonally appropriate cuisine: the hearty, spicy flavors of Tibet. And there’s no better place to enjoy them Chef Chime Tendha’s Phayul. In fact I personally love Phayul—which means fatherland in Tibetan—so much that I made sure they appeared on Bizarre Foods America with Andrew Zimmern. To score a ticket for this tasty trek please click here. (more…)

11/23/16 5:41pm

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If you’re anything like me—and I suspect you are if you read my musings about food and culture in Queens—you might still be struggling about what to bring to Thanksgiving tomorrow. Rejoice procrastinators and noncooks! Japan has come to your rescue in the form of pumpkin creme brulee KitKats. Let me say that again “Pumpkin Crème Brûlée KitKats!”

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11/10/16 3:30pm

cheesecake I have a culinary confession. As a kid I was obsessed with Red Lobster. Grownup me—the adventurous eater and Andrew Zimmern acolyte—avoids fast casual chains, although the local Applebee’s where we’d smuggle in tacos and Difaras pizza—was once my watering hole. There’s one chain I’ve been curious about for some time though, The Cheesecake Factory. Chalk it up to scarcity—not love of cheesecake. So when the first Factory opened in New York City  earlier this month at Elmhurst’s Queens Center I had to check it out. Spurred on by a media frenzy started by Eater, our threesome—consisting of myself and Queens finest barbecue Pitmasters Big Lou Elrose and Robbie Richter—visited during restaurant’s opening week. “Joey, if we can’t get in we’ll go to Shake Shack,” Robbie said. I nodded, thinking to myself, “No, you’ll go to Shake Shack, I’m going to the Factory hell or high water.” (more…)

10/24/16 11:25pm

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As I like to say, “Delicious mysteries of cuisine and culture lie around every corner in Jackson Heights, one of the most diverse pockets in the most diverse locations around.”  One could liken my 20-year exploration of the neighborhood’s cuisine and culture starting with Jackson Diner and leading to the present day Himalayan-South Asian diaspora to a scavenger hunt of sorts. All of which got me to thinking, this would be a great neighborhood for a scavenger hunt. So I’ve teamed with my good friends at The Gastronauts and professional game designers Interactive Escapes to transform the hood into The Jackson Heights Hangover: A Gastronauts Scavenger Hunt.

I can’t tell you all the details—heck even I’m on a need-to know-basis—but I can tell that the research for it enabled me to see and taste Jackson Heights in a new way, which is no easy feat. So if you’re ready for an afternoon that will tantalize your taste buds, challenge your intellect, and give you a unique perspective  on Jackson Heights, all while leading your squad to victory then join us on November 5 for what’s sure to be the tastiest most culturally enriching hangover you’ve ever had. Tickets may be purchased here.

10/24/16 4:30pm
A double barrel of old-school congee toppings!

A double barrel of old-school congee toppings!

When I was a kid the old man would return from Chinatown laden with hong bao, lucky red shopping bags. Usually these were filled with dried mushrooms, superior soy sauce and other ingredients. There treats were for me and him—lo mai gai, packets of sticky rice—and treats of a sort for my Mom, notably congee.  (more…)

10/19/16 1:51pm
purplecold

Purple sweet potato cold skin noodles.

I haven’t  been this excited about cold skin noodles—aka liáng pi—since I first tried them at Xi’an Famous Foods, back when family patriarch David Shi went by the moniker Liáng Pí and his sales pitch was a hawker’s chant, “My name is Liáng Pí, try my famous cold skin noodles, you want to try a Chinese hamburger.” These days the mini-chain deserves the appellation “famous” and has even spawned imposters, notably Elmhurst’s Chinger, a pormanteau of Chinese Burger, that sounds like a racial epithet.

Thankfully Lǎo Luòyáng is no imposter but rather a practitioner of the liang pi art that brings some color and history to the game. On a first visit I tried the purple sweet potato cold noodle ($6.50), zǐshǔ liáng pí. The sweet potato lent a slight tinge to the slippery wheat noodles and squidgy blocks of gluten, but added little flavor. No matter though as the sauce was astonishing, hitting many points of the flavor matrix, chili, garlic, vinegar, but above all a beguiling blend of tahini and aromatics like cloves. It was so good I slurped some up with a straw.  (more…)

10/16/16 11:05pm
kukalo

Lunza kukalo, Cypriot style smoked pork ribs marinated in red wine, rubbed with crushed coriander.

Just as Jackson Heights has long been associated with South Asian and Indian cuisine Astoria is renowned for its Greek tavernas, but it’s also home to another cuisine that’s often confused with Greek. I speak of Cypriot cuisine, a product of a nation that sits at the crossroads of Europe, Africa, and Asia. And the best place to enjoy this wonderful style of cooking which bears Greek, Sicilian and Middle Eastern influences is Zenon Taverna. Which is precisely why the boys from Queens Dinner Club and I chose it for this month’s dinner on 10/26. To find out when tickets go on sale, be sure to watch our Facebook page.

“Everyone thinks we’re a European country, but we’re actually part of Asia,” said Elena, daughter of Zenon Taverna’s founder Stelios Papageorgiou. “We’re just below Turkey and right above Egypt.”

Many people conflate Cypriot and Greek cuisine, but Elena is quick to point out they are quite different. One of the main differences is the prevalence of pork. “We use pork for everything,” she said. “The reason for it is we’re a small island and pigs are easier to raise.” (more…)

09/19/16 9:13am
titorad-ukoy-sunnysidefood

Crispy ukoy, just one of many dishes that will be served at Tito Rad’s.

I first started to explore Woodside’s Little Manila neighborhood when I moved to Queens in 1998. It started my love affair with Filipino food, though I must admit that sometimes it’s just a lust for crispy pork. This month Queens Dinner Club presents a very special family-style Filipino feast on Sept. 27 at Tito Rad’s. I can’t wait for this one kids. To find out when tickets go on sale, be sure to watch our Facebook page.  (more…)