11/23/16 5:41pm

pumpkit2

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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06/13/16 12:40pm
wasabikitkat

The pride of Japan, now in candy form!

I consider myself lucky to procure the occasional green tea Kit Kat. It’s a Japanese variety of Nestle’s popular candy bar. And in that country Kit Kat are really, really popular. There are scores and scores of oddball flavors: cherry, blueberry cheesecake, brandy and orange, red bean and matcha shaved ice, maple, sports drink, and wasabi.

My good friend William shared some of that last flavor with me the other day. He brought back a box of minis from a recent trip to Japan. The package bears the familiar red-and-white logo and the slogan “Have a break, have a Kit Kat.” There all similarity ends, for one thing there’s the word “wasabi,” and a whole bunch of Japanese on the inside of the box, which extols wasabia japonica’s white flowers and talks about how it was first cultivated 400 years ago.

So how does it taste? Crunchy and creamy with just the slightest hint of wasabi. Wondering why Kit Kat are so popular in Japan?  The candy’s name sounds like “kitto katsu,” an expression associated with good luck. I consider myself lucky to have tried the wasabi ones, and look forward to eventually getting to Japan to try others.

09/11/15 1:42pm

Labor Day might be the symbolic end of summer, but truth be told there’s almost two weeks left of the season. So why not celebrate the tail end with something truly crazy: a piña loca from Jazmin Deli in Elmhurst? It’s part fruit salad, part candy store and all party. The $15 fiesta consists of a cored out pineapple filled with a mixture of spiced fruit, cucumbers, and the candy coated peanuts known as cacahuate estilo Japones. It’s garnished with skewers of more fruit, and several types of candy including a straw coated in spicy tamarind. (more…)

10/31/13 11:12am
WF-BRIT-CANDY

These are just some of the British candy bars to be found in Woodside.

Happy Halloween to one and all. This festive, sugar-laden time of year brings back fond memories of fun-sized candies, along with fear of being pelted with eggs. These days my tastes in candy runs toward either high-end truffles, green tea Kit Kats, or perhaps my favorite of all, British candy bars. I grew up eating Cadbury Fruit and Nut Bars, but my first real introduction to British candy bars was Yorkie. The chocolate-covered raisin and biscuit treat was originally marketed at truckers hence its rather misogynistic “Not for Girls” marketing campaign. For a while it was my go to British candy bar. Once I even tried a misbegotten peppermint version called Yorkie Blue Ice that tasted like it was made with crushed up menthol cough drops. (more…)

09/26/13 10:13am

CHI-UJ4

Ever wonder what goes on at night inside the neon squiggle festooned former diner that is Flushing’s Lake Pavilion? Well, wonder no more. The Cantonese banquet hall is the subject of a two-star review in this weeks’ New York Times. Gotta give Pete Wells props for trying goose webs and screw clam, which is not a clam, but rather an organ extracted from a sea cucumber.

In case you’ve got a forequarter of beef lying around that you’d like to turn into pastrami this video might come in handy.

I’ve always been fascinated with Rocco’s Calamari in Borough Park, Brooklyn. Now Eating in Translation helps me understand why. Rocco is Calabrese, just like my dear old Ma. (more…)

04/10/13 12:00pm
At $17 a box these chocolate chips aren't cheap.

At $17 a box these chocolate-covered potato chips aren’t cheap.

A couple of weeks ago after a visit to The Marrow I found myself on a block of Bleecker St. that I like to think of as the West Village’s dessert district. I wandered into Royce’, a Japanese chocolatier, which for some reason uses a superfluous apostrophe. Inside I found something that I haven’t seen in some time, chocolate-covered potato chips or as the Royce’ copywriters put it, “Potatochip Chocolate.”

After sampling onecrunchy, slightly salty, and coated with milk chocolateI gamely forked over $17 for a box. That’s right $17. Yes, they’re imported  from Hokkaido “where the climate and the clean air are ideal for making confection,” but they’re not $17 good. I know this because a week later I still have most of the original box.

I suppose if you really must have $17 chocolate chips Royce’ will gladly take your money and give you a boutiquey little shopping bag to carry home your precious cargo. Here’s what you should do instead, sample a chip or two. Then go the newstand and buy 15 or so Take 5 bars with the $17 you would have spent at Royce’. The pretzel, peanut, caramel, peanut butter, chocolate bar is the tastiest and cheapest way I know to slake a thirst for sweet-salty snacks.

Royce’, 253 Bleecker Street, 646-590-0650