A lifetime ago before I came to Queens, I lived in Brooklyn, in a neighborhood that realtors hopefully called Park Slope vicinity. It was a short ride from there to Bensonhurst where I would indulge my Sicilian heritage with vastedda—the ricotta and calf spleen sandwiches—at Gino’s Focacceria and pastry at Villabate. Back then, Villabate and Alba were two separate shops. These days they’ve united to form confectionery powerhouse Villabate Alba.
Recently I found myself back in the County of Kings and decided to take a walk from Together, Brooklyn’s sole Burmese restaurant, to Bensonhurst to visit Villabate Alba.
“I’ll have that chocolate-covered cannoli,” I said to the young Chinese girl at the counter pointing to a little number with a broad swath of chocolate in the center flanked by white icing and capped with pistachio.(more…)
One of my favorite things to do on tours of Flushing Chinatown is to show off the live seafood on offer at J-mart. Watching the razor clams wriggle when nudged is always a hit. They’re sold live, and apparently at least at Randazzo’s on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, eaten that way.
So when my pal B.A. Van Sise and I decided to make a pilgrimage to the real Little Italy, I knew we had to try the wriggling mollusks. (more…)
Saveur’s James Oseland declares Flushing’s Mamak House “Probably the best Malaysian food in the States right now . . . especially the shrimp curry with fresh turmeric leaves”
The funny folk over at NPR’s Sandwich Monday take on Chicago’s knockoff Cronut from West Town Bakery. Quoth Peter, “Who wanted this in the first place? Who bought a croissant and said, ‘Dammit, this needs frosting’” (more…)
Baron Ambrosia and a friend from Garifuna. Photo:Chris Crowley
It was a dark and stormy night, and my mood was even darker. I’d trekked to a bleak industrial section of Ridgewood to join some friends for dinner and gotten lost twice on the way. It would have been OK if the food was worth the hassle, but it wasn’t. Then a gift from the gods fell into my lap. “Do you want me to see if I can get you into the Baron’s small game dinner on Saturday?” Chris Crowley, Serious Eats New York’s Bronx guru, asked. The Baron in question is none other than Baron Ambrosia, the over-the-top “quaffer of culinary consciousness” and star of Cooking Channel’s The Culinary Adventures of Baron Ambrosia. Naturally I said yes as I am a big fan of the Baron and was eager to see what his small game dinner was about. After all the only small game I’ve tried are quail, rabbit, and guinea pig.
The next day I received a flowery e-mail inviting me to The Third Annual Bronx Pipe Smoking Society Small Game Dinner. Among the items listed on this year’s catch were raccoons, beavers, skunks, gray foxes, red foxes, possums, bob cats, and coyote. And there was a dress code: “Black tie is the minimum.Tuxedos, colors, beads, medals, traditional garbs, kilts, turbans, wearable weapons, ball gowns, peg legs, and military dress are all encouraged.”
Rebel Chef Terry French. Photo: Chris Crowley
One of the first things I noticed outside the stately Andrew Freedman home was a small smoker and a large gent clad in furs. He looked and spoke like a cross between a backwoods barbarian and Hulk Hogan. This turned out to be Rebel Chef Terry French, champion of Food Network’s Extreme Chef. As one fellow attendee noted later in the evening, “I feel overdressed and undercostumed.”