04/07/14 10:37am
PAPLEAN

Pork crackling’s the perfect garnish for a bowl of pork blood soup.

Pata Paplean is a favorite stop on my food tours of Elmhurst because it has some of the best Thai style street food I’ve had in New York. On weekend afternoons from noon to 3 p.m. the funky bar named for a gorilla in a Bangkok zoo serves up $4 bowls of noodle soup. Moo toon consists of slightly sweet amber broth with tender bits of pork, meaty mushrooms, and some greenery. Paplean’s tom yum is one of the busier bowls of tom yum I’ve ever come across in Queens. Two kinds of fish balls, ground pork, pork liver, and sliced pork fill the bowl along with two crisp sheets of fried dough. Yesterday though I was initiated into the pleasures of kuay tiew nam tok moo, or pork blood soup. (more…)

03/19/14 10:02am
VASTEDDA

What’s better than vastedda?

A couple of weeks ago while doing some research for a Brooklyn Chinatown/Italian Bensonhurst food tour I stopped by Gino’s Focacceria for a vastedda. I was saddened to see the shop was for rent. I asked a local merchant where I might I obtain the traditional Sicilian calf spleen sandwich. “Joe’s of Avenue U,” she said.

I forgot all about the offal and cheese sandwich until Friday after leading that food tour. After several hours of eating and talking I often like to decompress with even more eating. So I paid the Gravesend institution a visit for a vastedda. My namesake Sicilian diner still sits beneath the Avenue U stop on the F. The old-school sign has been changed, but the magnificent steam table filled with stuffed artichokes and other Sicilian specialties looks exactly the same. And they still have vastedda ($6.99). (more…)

03/03/14 11:27am

Today marks the third day of Losar, a lunar New Year festival that’s celebrated as much in the Himalayas themselves as it is in Himalayan (aka Jackson) Heights. In order to help you get into the spirit of the 15-day celebration of the Year of the Wood Horse, here’s a list of my favorite Tibetan and Nepalese dishes in the neighborhood.

GOATSUKUTI

Photo: Elyse Pasquale/Foodie International

1. Goat Sukuti at Dhaulagiri Kitchen
“Oh, we have buffalo and goat sukuti too,” Kamala Gauchan the matriarch of this shoebox-sized Nepali gem told me a few weeks ago. I almost fell out of my chair when she said the types of this traditional jerky went beyond beef. And then I tasted the goat version. I’d be lying if I said I fell out of my chair, but it is absolutely amazing. Drying the meat has concentrated the goat flavor to such a degree that it almost tastes like cheese. Served in a spicy sauce—a Nepali ragu if you will—as part of a thali it is simply lovely.  37-38 72nd St., Jackson Heights

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01/27/14 10:42am
BEEFHEART

Nothing says love like a farm fresh egg yolk atop raw beef heart.

Call St. Valentine’s Day a Hallmark Holiday if you must, but as a public service to lovers and lovers of offal I offer up a simple, seductive Mediterranean recipe. Make your loved one some beef heart tartare a la puttanesca. Pair it with a nice Chianti and perhaps some Captain Beefheart, or, if you absolutely must Céline Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On.”

The recipe comes from my very good friend Chef Dave Noeth. Dave used the heart from a grass-fed Highlander Whiteface crossbreed that had been slaughtered just days before by his pal John Zamatope of  Carman Valley Farms in Hamden Village, N.Y., 607-746-8287. The mound of meat was topped off, with another farm fresh product, the yolk from a pastured blue foot chicken. (more…)

01/08/14 10:22am
TRIPESANDWICH

It’s offally delicious!

Almost every ethnic group residing in the multicultural culinary wonderland of Queens has its own take on tripe. From sheets of omosa floating in Vietnamese pho to fiery Sichuan fu qi fei pian to Filipino goto, I love them all. The other night I found myself in Himalayan Heights and decided to have a plate of dhopa khatsa, a spicy Tibetan preparation.

When the dude at Namaste Tashi Delek Momo Dumpling Palace, a spot that serves food from Nepal and Bhutan as well as Tibet, brought over the steaming tangle of guts flecked with red pepper I dug in with gusto. As my palate warmed and my brain thawed out, inspiration struck. “Can I have a tingmo?” I asked. When he brought over the steamed white bun, I proceeded to cut it in half and assemble the first ever Tibetan tripe sandwich in New York City. It was a nice idea, but after the first bite or two the bun gave weigh under its offal-laden freight. The pillowy tingmo ($1) made for  a good textural contrast to the chewy ribbons of dhopa khatsa ($6). And the swatches of dough were great to swipe through the fiery sauce.

Namaste Tashi Delek Momo Dumpling Palace,, 37-67 74th St., Jackson Heights, 646-203-9938

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.

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12/05/13 10:57am
VZW Food Crawl - Tour Group

The Verizon Food crawl ended at one of my favorite spots , M. Wells Dinette.

When it comes to technology, I’m what you might call a late adopter. As for food, I am quite the opposite, living to discover new cuisines and flavors. So when Verizon contacted  me to help organize and participate in a Queens food crawl on November 23 I was quite excited. Not only would I get to spend a day eating in Queens and pregame for Thanksgiving, I might learn a thing or two about technology.

Our day started at the new Verizon store in Astoria where we were each outfitted with a smart phone. Once I’d managed to set up my e-mail and social media accounts on the snazzy new LG G2, I immediately started testing out the camera. Soon we were using the Uber app to callup a car and take us to our first destination. (more…)

11/14/13 10:47am
NATASHAPOG

Photo: Michael Rudin

Chef Natasha Pogrebinsky has gone so far as to trademark the cuisine at Bear as New European, but after spending some time with her and her brother Sasha I can see whya a mutual friend characterizes it as “deeply personal.” It draws as much on her Ukrainian heritage and her Midwestern childhood as it does New york City itself. Pogrebinsky was kind enough to take time out out from her Long Island City kitchen to answer Seven Questions.

Talk to me about Chopped. What was it like?
I cooked in all three rounds, I got to dessert and the judges thought my Russian cookies and tea were not sweet enough.  Ironically I serve the exact same dessert at Bear and it sells out, so what do they know.  But I had a lot of fun being on the show and competing and representing not only New York city, but also Queens  and of course, Bear. People recognize me on the street and say, “You should’ve won.” People come from around the country to eat at Bear just because they saw me on the show.

Where did you learn to use chopsticks?
Nowhere. I still struggle.

What’s your favorite way to eat bone marrow?
The old school way, roasted and spread on country toast. with a side of pickled vegetables or sauerkraut.

Where do you like to eat on your days off? What are some of your favorite spots in Queens?
On my one day off I like to bum on my couch mostly but if I do go out it’s for ethnic food, or something simple like really good tacos, I like El Ray on Astoria Blvd., I like to try different spots every time.  But mostly I like to either cook at home or go to a friend’s house and they cook. (more…)

10/10/13 10:27am
fuchsia-cl-218x300

© Colin Bell

Fuchsia Dunlop’s account of wrangling with passel of stag pizzle in the latest Lucky Peach is alternately harrowing and humorous. It’s been five years since I took the acclaimed British cook and Chinese food expert to explore Flushing’s Golden Mall, so I thought I’d put my aside my castration anxiety aside and drop the author of Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking; Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China, a line. Dunlop who is currently eating her way through Beijing was kind enough to answer Seven Questions. By the way if you want to get really hungry follow her adventures on Instagram.

Are there any misconceptions about Chinese food you’d like to dispel?
I’ve spent my entire food-writing career trying to dispel various misconceptions about Chinese food—most of all that it’s unhealthy! Of course if one were to eat deep-fried egg rolls and sweet-and-sour pork all the time it wouldn’t be a very healthy diet, but most Chinese home cooking is about rice or other grains with plenty of vegetables and a little meat, fish or poultry. I’ve always been impressed by Chinese knowledge of how to eat for health and happiness (and it’s sad to see how many younger people are now following in the unhealthy food footsteps of the West).

The other misconception is that ‘Chinese food’ is a single cuisine. China is a vast country with an incredible wealth of local and regional culinary traditions. (more…)

09/26/13 10:13am

CHI-UJ4

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…)