Salty focacia plays nice with the duck and mozzarella.
Ever since it opened a few years ago I’ve been a fan of Francois Delano’s bakery La Boulangerie, It turns out the best baguettes in Queens as well as some killer croissants and other Viennoiserie. And with all that bread it’s inevitable that there’d be sandwiches. The croque-monsieur is quite lovely here, oozing Béchamel and topped with Gruyère. Recently Delano added a new sandwich to the menu, canard fumé, or smoked duck breast ($8). Thick slabs of the bakery’s salty focacia are layered with smoked duck breast, mozzarella, basil and tomatoes. It’s not a sandwich that will make you slap the table with epicurean glee, but it’s a pleasant change of pace in a somewhat lackluster food neighborhood. Consider it a mozzarella and tomato sandwich for French carnivores.
La Boulangerie, 109-01 72nd Rd., Forest Hills, 347-644-5606
Wonder what the Marx Bros. would have made of this duck offal soup.
About a month ago I was showing a tour group around Flushing’s New World Mall Food Court. As we approached No. 28—one of the few spots in the food court whose sign is only in Chinese—the new tenant, a strangely familiar looking woman behind the counter greeted me enthusiastically. No matter how hard tried I couldn’t place her.
On my next visit it dawned on me. The mystery woman was the wife of the owner of Golden Shopping Mall’s Nutritious Lamb Noodle Soup, one of my go-to spots in the rag-tag collection of miniature restaurants. In addition to the wonderful hand-pulled lamb noodle soup there are several other items on the pictorial menu at this new outpost, including a largely forgettable knockoff of Xi’an Famous Foods lamb burger. And then there’s something that the menu lists as “old duck soup fans” ($6.50),which sounds like a club for elderly fans of the Marx Bros.
The offal rich soup’s Chinese name, lao ya feng shi tang,does indeed contain the words for old duick, “lao ya.” I can’t tell whether they came from an old duck or not, but the soup’s nasty bits—gizzard, bits of stomach, and blood cakes—were pleasant enough. Golden pillows of fried tofu, bok choy, and slippery glass noodles round out the bowl. Like the lamb noodle soup, it takes well to a dollop of chili paste. The proprietors of this new stall have set up a flat screen monitor. Instead of Chico, Groucho, and Harpo it plays a loop of Anthony Bourdain’s visit to Golden Shopping Mall.
Nutritious Lamb Noodle Soup, No.28, New World Mall Food Court, Flushing
“You don’t want to know what I ate for lunch,” I said to her with barely contained glee. “You really, really don’t.” “That’s right, I don’t,” she said. “So stop trying to tell me.”
I’d come from lunch at M. Wells Dinette, the quirky Long Island City eatery helmed by Canadian farm boy Hugue Dufour whom she is fond of calling my boyfriend. Truth be told I have a total crush on Dufour and his extreme nose-to-tail comfort food. And there was plenty of it on the menu that afternoon. “What’s coxcomb and balls,” my buddy asked about a $21 main. “It’s cock’s comb and duck balls,” the waiter said offering no further details. “Meatballs?,” I queried.” “Nope, testicles.,” he deadpanned. “I’ve never seen one come out yet,” the waiter said encouraging us to order it. I excused myself to wash my hands leaving my buddy the biologist to consider the menu.
“What’s up with the cock’s comb and balls?” I asked one of the line cooks who was leaving the WC. “Oh you should get it, it’s in a veal stock with mushrooms, and beans under a gigantic dome of puff pastry,” she enthused.
And so we did but first an appetizer of pork tongue. It was decided that the rather phallic sounding main would work best as a midcourse in our offal bonanza. The tongue was followed by veal brain grenoblaise ($13), creamy clouds of cerebellum graced with a lemony sauce, along with a hefty slice of Dufour’s kitchen sink meat pie ($15).