“Hugue literally said that you inspired the sandwich,” Sarah Obraitis told me via text. The creation in question? A foie gras sandwich that recently landed on the menu at their restaurant M. Wells in Long Island City. While I’m flattered by Chef Hugue Dufour’s comment, I take it with a grain or two of fleur du sel. As for the sandwich, I went to try it last weekend and wasn’t quite sure what to expect other than decadence. I did have a hazy memory of a photo of an orb of fattened duck liver that looked like it had been dispatched with an ice cream scoop.
The $24 sandwich consists of a generous ball of creamy foie perched atop a bun slathered with homemade membrillo, aka quince paste. Call it what you will, its tart sweetness is a great counterpoint to the rich, creamy foie gras. For a moment I considered smushing the orb down and eating the whole lot like an actual sandwich, but decided against that for two reasons: 1) it would be really messy and 2) I wanted to prolong my gustatory bliss for as long as possible. So I spread a good deal of it on the top bun and fell to.
A few words about that bun, it is a challah bread dough that’s been treated like a croissant and has a bit of smoked eel in it. The whole experience took me back to the first time I ever tried foie gras at the River Cafe 20 years ago. The smoked eel in the bread was a mere whisper, but it did call to mind a smoked eel croissant that Chef Dufour dreamed up for a Queens Dinner Club Brunch. So I guess I am in some sense the inspiration for this sandwich.
I enjoyed my main course of monkfish well enough, but that sandwich was a tough act to follow. Next time, I’m getting two. I wonder if the kitchen would put it on a baguette. Do I dare to dream of a foie gras banh mi? After all stranger and tastier things have happened at M. Wells and hopefully will continue to do so now that restaurants are back open at 35% and the end of the pandemic is in sight.
M. Wells, Steakhouse, 43-15 Crescent St, Long Island City, NY 11101
Mexican-born chef Fernando Gonzales of ERT will be cooking up cochinita pibil.
Without immigrants the United States and Queens, and myself, frankly would not be who we are today. That’s why I’m honored to show my support for the second Dining For Justice fundraiser for immigrant families at the border, which will be held at Sound River Studios in Long Island City. on April 14, 2019 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Chef Jonathan Forgash, co-founder of Queens Dinner Club, has assembled a roster of top-flight chefs, many of whom are immigrants themselves, for this gala tasting whose cuisine is as diverse as Queens itself. (more…)
Catch of the day: gooseneck barnacles at M. Wells Steakhouse.
I’m a big fan of raw seafood and indulge in oysters, clams, and other more far-flung marine fare as often as my wallet and constitution permit. I’ve savored Korean meongge in Murray Hill—briny, orange fleshed sea squirt—and sweet live razor clams on the streets of Arthur Avenue, but one thing I never tried until last night was barnacles.
Whenever I treat myself to M. Wells Steakhouse, I sit at the bar facing the oyster shucking station. So I immediately noticed the chalkboard trumpeting barnacles in all caps. (more…)
By my calendar there are only five days left until the start of spring. Winter’s reasserted itself in what some New Yorkers, myself included, deem a rather weak blizzard. Nevertheless there’s plenty of snow on the ground, which means two things: one, tromping around the park, something I’ve been doing for years; and two, making homemade maple taffy/snowcones, something I tried for the first time this past Sunday. (more…)
As a kid the mince meat pies that sometimes graced our family table come Christmas were always a puzzlement. Delicious to be sure—chock full of apples, cherries, and raisins spiced with nutmeg, ginger, and clove—the question always remained where’s the meat?
I’m not sure if they eat mince meat pie come Christmas in Québéc, but they do eat tourtière—a traditional meat pie—and plenty of it according to Hugue Dufour, the chef of M. Wells Steakhouse in Long Island City, Queens.
“When I was at Au Pied du Cochon we would sell 5,000 a season,” he said noting that delivery in Canada is free for orders of more than 100 pies. (more…)
Hugue Dufour and a crack a team of other Queens chefs, and myself take over the Beard House.
Queens has hit the culinary big time! Of course some, myself included, would argue that the borough has always been a big deal when it comes to food whether authentic regional Chinese cuisine, stellar Mexican seafood cocktails, or brunch at an haute bizarre Canadian steakhouse. There is perhaps no greater hallmark of culinary fame though than recognition by the James Beard House, which is presenting the First Annual Queens Cooks this Sunday evening, and has been kind enough to ask me to act as emcee for the evening’s festivities. (The dinner is sold out, but you can put your name a on a cancellation waitlist by phoning 212-627-2308). (more…)
As much as I love eating my way around the world without ever leaving Queens, I have a huge soft spot for the psychedelic Canadian bistro/diner/art project that is M. Wells Dinette. Hugue Dufour’s combination of bistro classics, with nose-to-tail and sheer Quebecois farmboy whimsy keeps me coming back. Beef Wellington, along with, escargots, foie gras, caviar, and Dover sole falls into a class of foods that this product of a suburban lower middle class Italian-American home thinks of as luxurious. (more…)
As 2013 draws to a close rather than offer up a list of resolutions—less chips more gym, save money, etc.—C+M offers a list of 20 of our favorite posts, a highlight reel of the year that was. Let the mostly Queens-focused cavalcade of offal, sandwiches, mashups, secret eats and deliciousness begin.
Crazy Crab’s Yunnan special sliced pork salad.
PLEASE NOTE THIS RESTAURANT IS CLOSED
1. Best use of Pig Face Crazy Crab’s Yunnanese pig face salad is a spicy sour, salty, and unabashedly funky showcase for swatches of cool, slightly chewy pig skin.
2. Best Fizzy Water for Gluttons
Apart from being the preferred beverage of Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin the selling point of Borjomi, a Georgian sparkling mineral water, is that it “Gets rid of unnecessaries,” or as expressed in more forthright language elsewhere on the company web site, “Borjomi also improves functioning of intestines and supports slag excretion.”
3. Flushing’s Cheapest Veggie Burger The $1.25 cài bĭng at Super Snack, a counter just outside Golden Shopping Mall is packed with crunchy piquant mustard greens and is as fine a snack as any.
If you’re anything at all like me you overindulged at yesterday’s Thanksgiving festivities and want nothing at all to do with turkey. Which brings me to the subject of this installment of Photo Friday: the stack of pork chops at M. Wells Steakhouse. It should be noted that even though this latest venture from M. Dufour is a grown-up spot where chef sports whites and a kerchief around his neck lending him the air of Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi, there are wacky touches like a bone-in burger and this stack of blade thin chops. Piled high and oozing anchovy butter it’s a carnivorous homage to that diner favorite, flapjacks. Now, if you will excuse me, I’m off to the gym work off yesterday’s turkey.
I doubt Hugue Dufour knew yesterday was National Ice Cream Day. I didn’t think to ask as I watched him dress a ceviche with olives, jalapeño, olive oil, cilantro, and red onion and then place it in a waffle cone. Before handing it off he drizzled it with coconut milk and condensed milk and showered it with sesame seeds.
Dufour’s wife and partner in culinary crime, Sarah Obraitis, had told me to come to LIC Flea to check out the $10 M. Wells Sweet Fish Ice. She described the cone as “water-proofed with a white chocolate jalapeño sealer.” I envisioned it as something of a pescatarian King Cone. That white chocolate sealant was in the bottom of the cone, not on top though. (more…)