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…)
The Monger’s Table showcases the glories of cheese over a 10-course tasting.
With the exception of the dreaded Philadelphia roll, cheese and sushi are not usually mentioned in the same sentence, nor should they be. Leave it to Rachel Freier, cheese monger extraordinaire, of Murray’s Cheese Bar to link the two by creating a whimsical yet elegant cheese roll that owes as much to France as it does Japan. It’s part of The Monger’s Table—a new 10-course cheese dinner—an omakaise if you will, that Murray’s is rolling out this month. Not only is it an educational and gustatory journey into the world of cheese, it’s one of the more unusual tasting menus around.
Like many a tasting menu, The Monger’s Table begins with an amuse bouche, in this case a liquid one, a milk punch made with chamomile, sweet vermouth, and some hay from Vermont’s Jasper Hill Farm. “We went to Jasper Hill and sat on a hay bale inside a hay dryer just licking the air it smelled so good,” Freier recalled taking note that its fresh grass and hay that makes the creamery’s cheeses taste so good. I couldn’t help thinking of Sushi Nakazawa’s omakase as I inhaled the aroma of fresh hay. Next up was a dish called Salting the Curd that featured squeaky fresh curds, along with fried ones, which proved a good entry point for discussing cheese making. (more…)
There are cheeses out there that prove challenging to some palates and sensibilities, most notably the infamous casu marzu, or Sardinian maggot cheese which is actually quite tasty. And then there are the so-called stinky cheeses Tallegio and its odiferous brothers all which I find quite lovely. The most challenging two cheeses I’ve personally encountered are from Tibet. Both are made from yak milk. (more…)
It’s been a while since I’ve had sandwiches de miga, the dainty crustless Argentine triple deckers. Leave it to Youtube to stoke my hunger for them. La Cocina del Sandy makes several, including a lovely looking one with one ham and, hardboiled eggs, and pimento.
Before getting down to sandwich making she goes over miga mise en place—ham, roasted peppers, cheese, eggs, etc.—and then spends a good two minutes describing how to prepare a special mayonnaise in which manteca plays a crucial role. My Spanish is just good enough for me to understand some of what she says, but not good enough to understand the entire recipe. All of which makes me very glad to live just a short subway ride away from La Nueva Bakery in Jackson Heights.
El Salvador’s version of the quesadilla is not what you think.
As one of the only Salvadoran spots in the largely Asian stronghold of Flushing, El Ranchito De Daisy is quite an anomaly. The pupusas are good but the quesadilla Savadoreno ($3) is really quite remarkable.
“What’s that I asked?” spying the golden brown ovoids lining the counter. “Quesadilla,” came the response. “Quesadilla!!? Quesadilla de que?” I asked in my best bad Spanish. “De arroz,” the gent behind the counter replied. (more…)
When I was lad there was no such thing as a “polar vortex,” we called it winter—and reveled in it. Decades of relatively mild winters have spoiled me and many other New Yorkers. As a public service to help you thaw out from Winter Storm Janus, C+M presents a bone-warming roster of some of our favorite soups in Queens from Long Island City to Flushing, and points in between.
1. Yunnan rice noodle soup with pork at Crazy Crab Find this lovely bowl at New York City’s only crab shack/Burmese/Yunnanese spot. Warm up with tender chunks of pork and a spicy broth enlivened by a fresh squeeze of lime. It’s a taste of Southwestern China by way of Flushing. Not a bad deal at all, for $8.99. Crazy Crab 888,40-42 College Point Blvd, Flushing 718-353-8188
2. Tonkotsu 2.0 at Mu Ramen When the sun goes down and it’s brick cold out, head to over to Bricktown Bagels, which turns into Long Island City’s only ramen-ya. Joshua Smookler’s Tonkotsu 2.0 ($15) is made from six different types of pork bones, including shanks that cook for more than 20 hours. Topped with a slick of mayu (black garlic oil) and wobbly bits of tontoro (pork jowl), the soup is rich and complex. Best of all it has plenty of marrow thanks to all those shanks. Mu Ramen, 51-06 Vernon Blvd., Long Island City, Tues-Sat 6:30 p.m.-10:00 p.m. (more…)
Marani’s chicken tabaka, crunchy and garlicky as all getout.
The running joke about the Uzbek kebab places in Rego Park is that they’re all pretty much the same restaurant. Sure some might have slightly surlier service than others or make a specialty of chebureks, , but they’re all basically about grilled meat—beefchicken, and lamb–on flat swordlike skewers. So I was intrigued when I heard about Marani, a relatively new Georgian joint.
Ever since I read about the decadent adajaruli khachapuri being served at Brooklyn Bread House in Sheepshead Bay and at Oda House in the East Village, Georgian food has been a feverish blip on my radar. So I was especially excited to learn of a restaurant right in my neighborhood that served the mythical cheese and egg bread. (more…)
This Tibetan soup smells like stinky French cheese.
“Have you had it before?” the waitress at Phayul asked when I ordered the tsak sha chu rul ($3.99), or “beef and Tibet cheese soup.” The note of concern in her voice was in no small part due to this dish’s rather pungent bouquet. I nodded my assent and waited for the bowl of what smells not unlike a Tibetan tallegio to arrive. (more…)
New York only 10-decker Chinese breakfast sandwich will set you back $1.75.
It’s been said that the breakfast sandwich—an egg or two on a roll with cheese and bacon—is a New York City thing. I’m not sure whether that’s entirely true, but I do know that Chinese breakfast sandwiches are fairly uncommon in Flushing’s Chinatown. Sure jiān bĭng,and other wraps use eggs and are eaten for breakfast, but they hardly qualify as sandwiches. So I was quite excited when one morning I spotted the most extreme breakfast sandwich ever at Sun Mary Bakery. Barely visible through the steamy window of the warming box it appeared to consist of multiple layers of bread themselves encased in dough. As I soon found out it is, in fact a 10-decker Chinese breakfast sandwich. Layer number one is a puff pastry that holds the whole crazy thing together. Inside that ring of flaky goodness are five slices of white bread, alternating with ham, cheese, dried pork sung, and a slab of fried egg. It’s a filling, tasty carb bomb that goes great with a cup of coffee milk tea. Best of all at $1.75 it’s roughly half the price of a classic New York City breakfast sandwich.
I have never been to one of Thomas Keller’s restaurants, nor have I seen the film Spanglish, in which Adam Sandler plays a chef. But I am quite glad to have come across this video in which this chef’s chef makes a late-night snack with Opera Man as his sous chef. This short appears as an extra on the DVD and seems to have a been a consulting gig for Keller, and a delicious one at that. As some less culinary enlightened commenters point out, it’s just a BLT with a runny fried egg and cheese. Not quite it’s a BLT with egg and cheese made with chefly care and precision, which means there are such common-sense tricks as alternating the bacon. And then there’s gems like this: “Most chefs worth their salt carry their own salt box. Most chefs have such a high tolerance to salt that they need to have extra salt on everything.” (more…)