Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Seasons Greetings and all that jazz dear reader. As a public service, C+M presents our very first ultra last-minute holiday gift guide where you’re sure to find something perfect for the food lover in your life.
Uzbek hospitality, League of Kitchens style.
Join The League of Kitchens for a Workshop
There’s a good reason The League of Kitchens sounds like the League of Nations. That’s because it offers a variety of globetrotting cooking workshops—Indian, Lebanese, Japanese, Uzbek to name a few—taught by immigrant home cooks who are eager to share their food, culture, and family recipes with students. A while back I took the Ubzek class and had a blast. League of Kitchens gift certificates may be purchased here. Looking for something to do Christmas Eve? The League still has a few slots open for an immersive vegetarian Indian cooking class.
Give the Gift of an Avant Garde Steakhouse Experience at M. Wells
My love of Chef Hugue Dufour’s cooking at M. Wells Steakhouse—from an aged porterhouse dinner that comes with escargot bone marrow and pomme aligot to such dishes as a venison T-bone and a lovely steak tartare—is no secret. Why not treat your meat eating loved ones with an M. Wells Steakhouse gift certificate? To purchase one call (718) 786-9060. (more…)
As someone who’s constantly devouring the delicious diversity that is Queens it’s possible to become spoiled by choices, even jaded. Luckily for me leading food tours affords an opportunity to turn others on to the culinary delights of Queens. My passion for the borough and its food is rekindled by seeing it from somebody else’s perspective. Which is precisely what happened when I led ace travel blogger Jon Barr on a whirlwind food tour of Jackson aka Himalayan Heights last week.
“It smelled so good the second I stepped off that train and walked down the stairs,” Barr exclaimed as we strolled over to the aptly name Diversity Plaza for our first stop, some Indian chaat. No tour of the hidden gems of Jackson Heights is complete without a visit to Lhasa Fast Food where we feasted upon momo and cold skin sushi.
All told we visited four countries and two continents in under 10 minutes, plus I got to use my Telemundo announcer’s voice. Be sure to check out Jon’s Youtube channel here and click here for my info on my Queens food tours.
Lhasa Fast Food is a favorite stop on my Himalayan Heights Food Tour. Tucked away behind a cell phone store, it’s a veritable Shangrila of Tibetan cooking. Last year the hidden restaurant’s beef dumplings took home the coveted Golden Momo, the trophy awarded to the best momo in the annual Momo Crawl. Juicy and scented with Sichuan peppercorn and Chinese celery the little packages are made to order and well worth the wait. The other day I discovered a secret momo being served at this momo speakeasy: chu-tse momo.(more…)
Pineapple kesari called to mind sweet, comforting memories.
One of the things I love most about giving food tours of Queens is the opportunity to rediscover the delicious flavors of such neighborhoods as Flushing through the eyes of my guests. Every now and then I discover something new too, like the pineapple kesari, I found at the Ganesh Temple Canteen on a recent tour.
Typically I order a gigantic paper dosa at the Canteen. The crisp megaphone-shaped crepe never fails to impress. “Is that a sweet?” I asked when I saw a hand-written sign that read “Today’s Special: Pineapple Kesari.” Even before the lady behind the counter said yes I knew I was going to order it. (more…)
Sometimes it feels as if I lead so many food tours of Flushing Chinatown that I don’t do enough research, i.e. eating, of non-sharable dishes like noodle soups. Sure I have my favorites: predawn laksa at Curry Leaves, Nutritious Lamb Noodle Soup’s namesake tonic, the samgyetang at Hansol Nutrition Center. Lately though I’ve been craving a brand new flavor in noodle soup, which is why I’m glad I finally tried Gui Lin Mi Fen. (more…)
Refreshing and much easier to eat than its blockier cousin.
Lhasa Fast Food is a favorite stop on my Jackson Heights food tours. My fellow travelers are always amazed to discover a family-run Tibetan eatery tucked behind a cell phone store. The momo are excellent, too. The other day I made a discovery of my own—laphing serpo ($6)—while leading a tour of what I like to call Himalayan Heights.
“Yellow laphing,” the cook said when I gestured to a mass of what looked to be dough behind the counter. Laphing, slippery blocky cold mung bean jelly noodles, bathed in black vinegar, garlic and chilies is quite common on Tibetan menus. This was my first encounter with the yellow variety, though. (more…)
“This one wants to try something really weird,” the parent of a young man on my most recent Flushing Chinatown food tour said. We had already tried fu qi fei pian, the Sichuan mélange of offal that combines tripe, tendon, and beef shin, so I knew the kid was a tough customer. He seemed satisfied by the plate of crunchy Chengdu style pig ears we shared at Golden Mall. (more…)
Rosanna Scotto and I about descend into the Golden Shopping Mall Food court.
I have a lot to be thankful for this year, first and foremost the gifts of home, health and family. Heck I even got to partake of a turducken. Certainly I am grateful for continuing to eat my way through the most delicious and diverse destination on the entire planet. And the opportunity to turn others on to the wonders of Queens via food tours.
A few weeks ago Rosanna Scotto’s people looked me up and asked if I’d take her on a tour for “Wining and Dining With Rosanna.” So I did, it’s not every day that I get to share air time with folks like Bobby Flay. We hit Flushing and Jackson Heights hard from lamb spine to tawa katakat. You can watch the episode here. Scotto’s no Andrew Zimmern when it comes to adventurousness, but then again who is? Hoping you have a delicious Thanksgiving.
P.S. if you’re looking for something to do on Black Friday, I highly recommend the black goat feast at Bang Ga Ne. As for me I’ll be leading a tour of America’s best Chinatown.
Whenever I lead tours of Queens’ second Chinatown Elmhurst, I point out the hood’s huge Southeast Asian—Indonesian, Thai, and Vietnamese—presence. Lately, it’s been undergoing a Thai renaissance with newer spots like Pata Paplean,Eim Khao Man Gai, and Khao Kang joining the old guard of Ayada,Chao Thai, and Ploy Thai. Scarcely a month old Paet Rio is the newest kid on the Little Bangkok block.
Chef owner Nicky Phimpoy ran Wondee Siam in Hell’s Kitchen for some 20 years before coming to the borough that boasts the most authentic Thai food in NewYork City. Paet Rio is named for her home province, located in eastern Thailand. There’s plenty of curries, yums, and larbs on the menu. What made me sit up and take notice was the roster of 14 specialty noodle dishes, particularly something called kanom chin nam-ngiao ($10.98). (more…)