09/08/14 11:46am
HALO2

Flan and ube ice cream make it extra special.

My love of Filipino breakfast—garlic fried rice, eggs, a buttery toasted pan de sal, and any of several proteins, including dried milkfish—is no secret to readers of this blog. I am especially fond of getting my log on at Manny’s Bake Shop. That’s because the good ladies at Manny’s serve the most important meal of the day with a slice of cake for dessert. One day it might be purple ube cake and the next it might be an exquisite slice of brazo de Mercedes.

About a month ago I noticed a sign on the door advertising halo halo, the psychedelic Filipino snow cone. I couldn’t possibly have the mixture of shaved ice, young coconut, jackfruit, palm fruit, and ruby and emerald cubes of gelatin for breakfast. Or could I? (more…)

04/21/14 12:10pm
MANOK2

This tinalong manok rocks.

 During this year’s never ending winter I’ve turned often to soup as both comfort and cure. Last week it was tingalong manok, at Manny’s Bake Shop, one of my favorite Filipino restaurants in Queens. The gingery chicken soup always manages to clear my head and lift my spirits. And Manny’s tinalong manok is quite special indeed. For one thing it’s a ginormous serving that’s best shared, or enjoyed by one food writer trying to kick a cold. (more…)

03/25/14 10:14am
LILYS

The peanutty pride of the Philippines Meycauayan City.

When my Filipina pal Stella sang the praises of Lily’s Peanut Butter to me a year or so ago I remember thinking, “Wow, it’s just peanut butter, how good can it be?” Recently while checking out Phil-Am Market in Woodside’s Little Manila, I found myself in the spread aisle. There next to the Kraft Cheese Spread and Star Chocolate margarine were rows upon row of green and white labeled Lily’s. One word on the label struck me, “Natural.” It conjured up images of oil slicks and sand, or at the very least grittiness. (more…)

03/14/14 9:23am
mercedes

It’s like eating a cloud wrapped around sugary sunshine.

Filipino breakfast—dasilog, tocilog, and the like—is a festive affair at Manny’s, complete with slice of cake for dessert. Quite often it’s purple ube cake complete with purple frosting. Purple birthday cake should be a part of every complete breakfast! The other morning as I finished an up an order of longsilog—fatty pork sausage with two eggs and garlic riceI prepared to attack the day’s dessert. It appeared to be meringue rolled around some sort of custard. (more…)

02/03/14 12:02pm
ELYSE

Elyse Pasquale digs into a Filipino balut in Woodside.

I’ve gone on record before as saying that I’m not a fan of the word foodie, preferring such designations as “good eater” and even the pejorative “glutton.” All that said there is one person who for whom my hatred of the F-Word does not apply, my good friend, Elyse Pasquale, aka Foodie International. She was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule, which includes everything from eating reindeer hearts and scorpions to harvesting her own olive oil and slaughtering pigs, to answer Seven Questions.  

Where did you learn to use chopsticks?
In my bedroom, in high school. I grew up on a horse farm outside of Philadelphia. There wasn’t much diversity in the area when it came to food. In high school, a take-out Chinese joint opened in the same strip mall as our grocery store. Let’s just call it the year of Lo Mein . . . I was determined to perfect my chopsticks skills, so I followed the directions printed on the wrapper and practiced in my room. I think my execution might be a little unorthodox, but I can hold my own in any Tokyo ramen shop. For the record, I also tie my shoes counterintuitively, but my bows still turn out looking like bows. (more…)

12/31/13 2:13pm
balutbox

On a wintry night Filipino balut double as hand warmers.

By the time we got to the balut man on the corner of 69th Street and Roosevelt Avenue we’d trekked across two continents and eaten through four countries all without ever leaving the shadow of the 7 train. “No holds barred means balut,” I tweeted to my pal Elyse Pasquale, aka Foodie International, the impetus for this impromptu Queens food tour, several hours earlier. I am not sure of the balut vendor’s hours so I was quite glad he was there. I hate to disappoint a lady, especially when fertilized Filipino duck eggs are involved. (more…)

10/17/13 1:05pm
BANKSY1

Do they know they’re standing in the epicenter of ethnic food?

I am more street food connoisseur than street art aficionado. That didn’t keep me from jumping on the Banksy bandwagon though. No, I was not fortunate enough to purchase a $60 “spray art” canvas in Central Park. When I read on Monday that the British street artist had put up a piece in Queens as part of his monthlong New York City residency I hastened to a block of 69th Street in Woodside’s Little Manila not far from the rumbling 7 train. I couldn’t help but wonder whether the crowd of camera toting street art fans had any idea they were standing at the epicenter of ethnic food in New York City.

“What we do in life echoes in eternity,” it read in Banksy’s signature stenciled script. Well, almost, that last word was cheekily in the process of being obliterated by an old-timey looking character. (That’s a quote from the film Gladiator, by the way.) Having partaken of some culture in the form of art—and Instagrammed, Tweeted and Facebooked it—I took off in search of food culture.

(more…)

09/25/13 10:21am
SW-MANNYS1

Breakfast of champions: Manny’s dasilog.

Manny’s Bake Shop, a Filipino restaurant and bakery, is in Flushing but it lies far from my Chinatown stomping grounds. And it’s pretty far afield from Woodside’s Little Manila. I came across it while on my way to volunteer at Queens General Hospital as I do every Thursday morning. Occasionally I duck in for a buttered pandesal and a coffee. Then one day I noticed the menu’s five-item “Native Breakfast” section. “I’ll be back,” I said to the gal behind the counter grabbing my coffee and buttered roll. (more…)

09/24/13 2:13pm
AREPALINE

The Arepa Lady’s cart drew Smorgasburgesque lines.

After a week-plus on jury duty to say I was psyched for last Friday’s Viva La Comida festival is the height of understatement. The night be before I was like a child on Christmas Eve. Visions of street food—Peruvian tamales, Mexican sandwiches and tacos, Puerto Rican lechin, Tibetan dumplings, Indian chaat, Colombian arepas, Filpino BBQ, and Irish drunk food—danced in my head. The festival  which took place on 82nd St. between Baxter and Roosevelt in Jackson Heights was curated by my fellow fresser, Jeff  Orlick who knows a thing or two about street food in the Heights and elsewhere. (more…)

09/05/13 10:36am
PAPAS3

Clockwise from top: crab, crispy pata, ukoy, longanisa, and tuna belly.

Americans traditionally mark Labor Day weekend with one last summer backyard barbecue with friends and loved ones. I too celebrated with friends, in traditional Queens fashion. That is to say by embracing the traditions of another culture, specifically Filipino. On Saturday my friends Kaori and Stella joined me for a traditional salu-salo sa bilao fiesta at Papa’s Kitchen in Woodside. Salu-salo bilao loosely translates to a gathering over a bilao,or banana leaf-lined basket overflowing with goodies. It’s an informal affair where all the food is eaten with one’s hands.

Chef Miguel prepared quite a spread. One tray held crab; crispy pata, a whole foreleg of pig fried to a shattering crunchiness; the shrimp and veggie fritters known as ukoy; longganisang hamonado, a lovely sweet pork sausage; tuna belly; and Papa’s signature spicy dynamite spring rolls. Everything was quite tasty,but we all agreed the salty, fatty tuna belly was spectacular. Stella, who is Filipina, schooled me in the proper way to eat with my hands. On the few occasions when I’ve eaten South Asian food with my hands I’ve felt self conscious most likely because the food is usually very saucy. At Papa’s I felt especially relaxed, and not just because we had the place to ourselves.   (more…)