03/15/17 10:52am
MAPLECANDY

Hugue Dufour making maple ‘taffy.’

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…)

12/21/15 2:36pm
Tourtiiere2-01

Way heartier than a mince meat pie.

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…)

10/23/15 1:20pm
HugueJoe2

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…)

01/06/14 9:57am

WELLINGTON

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…)

12/30/13 2:50pm

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.

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.

(more…)

11/29/13 1:25pm
mwellschops

Photo: Ernesto Santos

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.

07/22/13 10:24am
Best ceviche ice cream cone ever!

Best ceviche ice cream cone ever!

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…)

06/28/13 11:06am
Thankfully, it tastes nothing at all like soap.

Thankfully, it tastes nothing at all like soap.

“We’re going to make you something.” Sarah Obraitis of M. Wells Dinette said to me last week. I’d just consumed a decadent plate of boudin blanc, with scallops and sweetbreads along with an herb salad. I mumbled a refusal thinking the only thing I could possibly eat was a wafer thin mint à la Mr. Creosote. “This is the type of thing you get at Le Bernardin,” she continued brightly. “It’s inspired by soap candy that Hugue ate as a kid in Canada.” Sarah walked away leaving me to ponder the notion of soap candy. (more…)

04/11/13 9:55am
A dish fit for a modern art museum.

A dish fit for a modern art museum.

I am a big fan of monkfish liver, or ankimo, as it’s called at the sushi bar. The season for this marine foie gras is coming to an end. I am especially saddened because recently I had a deliciously over-the-top rendition of monkfish liver, at M. Wells Dinette, a restaurant whose raison d’être is over-the-top deliciousness. If the ascetic Japanese presentation of monkfish liver—in a shallow lake  of ponzu sauce with a bit of green onion on top is a study in restraint then Hugue Dufour’s monkfish liver torchon ($14) is a study in hedonism. Thick rounds of creamy orange monkfish liver sit astride a pancake that’s been fried in duck fat, which sits in a lake of maple syrup. Crowning the whole affair is a tangle of mustard root tempura. It’s the type of dish that seems right at home in a post-modern museum cafeteria. If you get there and it’s not on the menu anymore don’t sweat it too much. There’s sure to be something equally delicious and over the top. I’m still holding out for the foie gras enriched shwarma Dufour once told me he was thinking about making.

M. Wells Dinette, MoMA PS1, 22-25 Jackson Ave at 46th Ave., Long Island City, 718-786-1800

04/01/13 12:04pm
Yuk hoe, steak tartare Korean style.

Yuk hoe, steak tartare Korean style.

As a kid I always wanted to try steak tartare. Even though my father was an adventurous eater he drew the line at raw flesh. No sushi, no steak tartare. It wasn’t until my late thirties that I tried it. Actually it wasn’t steak tartare, it was yuk hoe, a similar Korean dish. San Soo Kap San in Flushing has an excellent version for $17.95. Mix up the ground tenderloin with the accompanying batons of Asian pear and raw egg and dig into this carnivore’s delight.

Steak tartare at M.Wells Dinette.

Steak tartare at M. Wells Dinette.

Only in the past few years have I begun to enjoy classic preparations of steak tartare, largely at the hands of Hugue Dufour. Over the summer I had the privilege of eating some now highly controversial horse meat tartare. It was lean and delicious. Sadly Dufour’s M. Wells Dinette does not serve horse meat. Nonetheless there is excellent steak tartare to be had. Shot through with mustard seeds, and some sort of chewy grain and topped with a poached egg, the latest incarnation is quite nice. I hope the restlessly creative Dufouir keeps it around for a while.

San Soo Kap San Korean Restaurant, 38-13 Union St, Flushing NY 11354 718-445-1165
M. Wells Dinette, MoMA PS1, 22-25 Jackson Ave, Long Island City, 718-786-1800