I first learned to cook during the year I studied in England. University students there typically fend for themselves in dorm kitchens, rather than relying on meal plans.
With little free time and even less money, most of us took to dumping readymade soups or canned beans over toast or pasta. If we were feeling fancy (or starved for protein), we crowned these starchy, carby meals with a fried egg.
That experience left me with an abiding kernel of culinary wisdom: Any light dish can be transformed into a stomach-filling meal simply by adding pasta.
Enter my Punjabi mother-in-law, who re-educated me in the kitchen and taught me Indian home cooking. Thanks to her, I can whip up a full meal from my usual pantry staples (i.e., lentils, rice, spices, garlic, and ginger) and a few stray vegetables (e.g., onion, tomato, potato, carrot). If only she’d been there, in England, to save me from British student food (and my own culinary incompetence). (more…)
Ever wonder what goes on at night inside the neon squiggle festooned former diner that is Flushing’s Lake Pavilion? Well, wonder no more. The Cantonese banquet hall is the subject of a two-star review in this weeks’ New York Times. Gotta give Pete Wells props for trying goose webs and screw clam, which is not a clam, but rather an organ extracted from a sea cucumber.
In case you’ve got a forequarter of beef lying around that you’d like to turn into pastrami this video might come in handy.
I’ve always been fascinated with Rocco’s Calamari in Borough Park, Brooklyn. Now Eating in Translation helps me understand why. Rocco is Calabrese, just like my dear old Ma. (more…)
Dim sum at East Ocean Palace will lift your spirits if you are on jury duty.
“A food writer?” Judge Ira H. Margulis asked as I squirmed in my seat hoping not to be picked.”Well, what’s good to eat around here?” “With the exception of Dani’s House of Pizza it all stinks,” I replied. As a reward for my culinary candor both the defense attorney and the assistant district attorney deemed me fit to sit on a jury. The case was expected to take a week or less. It wound up taking 10 days.
In those 10 days I found only two things that were truly delicious. One was the dim sum at East Ocean Palace (113-09 Queens Boulevard, Forest Hills), a short walk from Queens Borough Hall. If only I’d served in Manhattan, then I could have undertaken a survey of the neighborhoods Vietnamese sandwiches, Cantonese roast meats, or eaten myself silly at Xi’an Famous Foods. Alas I was serving my time in Kew Gardens, where East Ocean Palace is the only game in town for good Chinese. The dim sum—shrimp in rice noodle, flaky pork pies, and dumplings—was quite nice, but one juror can only eat so much dim sum. (more…)
Maspeth’s most decadent veal ravioli sings with the flavors of sage and speck.
My buddy Josh Ozersky likes to say I’ve forsaken my Italian heritage to eat weird Chinese food in dodgy Flushing basements. He’s only partially right. I grew up in a home where soy sauce and hoisin were as common as Sunday gravy and the hunk of Pecorino we called “grating cheese.” Now and then I am turned on to a dish that makes me proud of my Italian heritage. Most recently it was the pasta—specifically the ravioli di vitello burro, salvia e speck ($13.95)—at the newish Osteria Italiana in Maspeth, a neighborhood that’s more Polish than Italian. Of all people it was my adopted Jewish mother, Times Ledger food critic Suzanne Parker, who turned me on to this lovely dish. Perfectly al dente triangles are filled with veal and sauced with butter and sage. Salty, smoky bits of speck top it all off. Buttery and decadent, it’s nothing like my Italian mother’s pillowy red sauce ravioli, but every bit as good.
The Puma from Tortas Neza is big enough to feed your entire team.
Despite the Mets colors that I often fly I like to say that I’m more of a Queens fan than a fan of the beleaguered ball club. One thing that I’m surely a fan of is my home borough’s diverse and delicious food. So as a public service to baseball fans—native New Yorkers and tourists alike—I devote this week’s edition of The Seven to a lineup of places to eat before and after the 2013 MLB All-Star Game being held tomorrow night at Citi Field at 7:30 p.m. (more…)
That line’s for Rockway Taco not DiCosmo’s Italian Ice.
With New York City’s early summer heat in full effect I took a trip to Rockaway Beach yesterday afternoon. I haven’t been to Rockaway since the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, but could no longer resist the pull of cooling, restorative sea air. Plus the bus ride down Woodhaven Boulevard, which turns into Cross Bay Boulevard as it enters Howard Beach—land of Lenny’s Clam Bar and New Park Pizza—is one of the most pleasant in Queens. By the time the Q53 hits the Cross Bay Bridge with the vista of Jamaica Bay spread out on either side I feel as if I am en route to a minivacation. The trek to what some have called the Irish Riviera always ends in the same way: A stop at DiCosmo’s Italian Ice before boarding the bus back to civilization. (more…)
Even though I am as Italian-American as the cuisine I always feel somewhat out of place at Park Side, the 30-year-old red sauce temple overlooking Corona’s bocce court. Granted I’ve only been twice, but both times I’ve felt as if I were relegated to the children’s table at a family Thanksgivng. Perhaps it is too much for a pezzonovante like myself to expect to dine on the main floor.
A few weeks ago I dined there with some food writer pals, including Max Falkowitz, editor of Serious Eats New York. I showed up in a summer weight suit, sporting a tie and cuff links. My dining companions were neatly dressed, but I seemed to be the sole standard-bearer of Italian-American swag. Even without the disparity in our attire the truth is I still would have felt out of place. The glitzy Marilyn room calls to mind my Uncle Carmine’s house were it eight times bigger and filled with strangers. (more…)
When it comes to food Queens has Brooklyn beat. After all, the diversity and quality of the grub in Queens is simply mind-blowing. Plus, we have M. Wells Dinette. And as of this past weekend Queens is giving Smorgasburg a run for its money with the newly opened LIC Flea & Food. Here’s a look at some of the market’s food offerings.
Alobar’s big dog topped with ginger pulled pork and carrot slaw.
On Saturday morning I was actually at Smorgasburg performing a Thai chicken skin mitzvah for my friends over at Scharf & Zoyer. They also turned me on to a sandwich and I sampled some wonderful couscous from NYSHUK. And then, I had some ice cream from nearby Oddfellows. So, by the time I got to Long Island City the old food tank was pretty full. Good as it looked there was no way I would have been able to take down Alobar’s Big Dog ($12) a frankfurter topped with ginger pulled pork and carrot slaw. (more…)
O.G. ethnic food scribe Robert Sietsema is back in the saddle with a new column at Eater, which specializes in microneighborhoods. First up Neptune Avenue in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, with Pakistani goat feet and some stupendous sounding khachapuri, from Georgian Bread.
James Boo is also on the khachapuri trail, with a 1 Minute Meal video for Serious Eats New York about the tasty cheese-enriched bread, as baked by Shorena Dalakishvili, who says that in Georgia, “Everywhere, everybody have khachapuri.” No word on whether everybody weighs 300 pounds.
And SENY’s J. Kenji López-Alt has a stunning report on the “Holy Grail of New York Sushi,” including hotaru ika, baby firefly squid smeared with kani miso, a paste made from the guts of cooked crabs. J.K. writes: “This one is no joke—you have to like intense ocean aromas to get past its take-no-prisoners approach to flavor.” Sounds great J.K., I’m all about intense ocean aroma and flavor. (more…)
An old school slice in the midst of New York City’s most dynamic Chinatown.
Unlike Manhattan Chinatown, which borders Little Italy, downtown Flushing has little or no Italian food. There is precisely one Italian restaurant, Lucia Pizza. It sits across from New World Mall, and has been there since well before that mall was a Caldor. Its opening also predates New York current pizza Napoletana craze.
The draw here is unreconstructed old-school New York City pizza, by the pie,or more often the slice. Hand over $2.25, grab a perch at the counter and dig into a taste of days gone by. The Sicilian slice is pretty good too. I once asked the counterman here why he didn’t have kimchi pizza, like T.J.’s a spot that has since closed. He looked at me like I was nuts.