10/07/14 9:47am
CHARLES

Breakfast of champions at Chez Charles in Harlem.

Nobody ever accused me of writing a blog about health food. Thus the subject of today’s Twofer Tuesday, Charles’ Country Pan  Fried Chicken in Harlem. Now I’m not going to get into the debate about who makes the best Southern fried chicken in New York City, but let’s just say that Mr. Charles Gabriel’s is the best I’ve ever had for breakfast.

When you’ve journeyed all the way up to Chez Charles, it’s best to go for broke. So my buddy and I did, ordering that soul food power duo, fried chicken andf pigs feet.  The crunchy juicy chicken lashed with hot sauce and unctuous pigs feet were just part of our complete breakfast that morning.  And heck, those collards almost  made it a healthy one. Almost.

Charles’ Country Pan Fried Chicken, 2839 Frederick Douglass Blvd., Harlem, 212-281-1800

09/24/14 9:48am
Veal-Tongue-Slider2

Move over White Castle, veal tongue sliders are where it’s at!

Veal tongue, whether stir fried in spicy Tibetan chele katsa or sliced paper thin as a deli sandwich is a wonderful thing. Creamy rich tongue and heart are probably my two favorite types of beef offal. So when Andrew Zimmern, a man who has forgotten more than I shall ever hope to know about entrails posted a recipe for veal tongue sliders on his web site I had to check it out. (more…)

09/03/14 10:02am
takahachi1

And the award for most whimsical calf brain presentation goes to . . .

There are many, many wonderful beefy things to eat at Takashi, the Japanese nose-to-tail homage to all things bovine. Niku uni ($24)—tiles of marbled chuck flap atop a shiso leaf topped with uni—comes to mind, as does the miso marinated sweetbreads served over squid ink rice ($20). The place is a paradise for offal lovers. Each of the beast’s four rumens is on offer for tabletop grilling. Today’s post isn’t about any of those things, though. It’s about a sandwich, a sandwich of caviar and calf brain. (more…)

07/30/14 11:12am
VASTEDDA

A vastedda sans ricotta at Ferdinando’s Focacceria.

I’ve been hearing about the 110-year-old Ferdinando’s Focacceria for at least 20 years. Last week I finally made it to the Carroll Gardens temple of Sicilian soul food. There I met Francesco Buffa who convinced me to order a vastedda the old-fashioned way, that is to say without the dollop of ricotta, which he insisted is not how way the calf spleen sandwich is served back home. “You really get the flavor of the meat,” he said. (more…)

05/27/14 1:24pm

Offal—tongue, tripe, heart, even face, among other so-called off cuts—happens to be one of my favorite things to eat. As with most of my stranger culinary predilections, I blame it on my old man who always made sure to include plenty of hearts whenever he cooked up a batch of chicken soup. Thus I present a list of some of my favorite nasty bits.

FUQIFEIPIAN

Husband and wife offal slices at Golden Mall.

1. Fu qi fei pian, Cheng Du Tian Fu
The story goes that fu qi fei pian, or husband and wife offal slices, are so named because the couple who created this classic dish back in Chengdu, Sichuan, had an especially harmonious union. While that tale may be apocryphal the union of meaty beef tongue; funky chewy ribbons of tripe; and translucent swatches of tendon bathed in chili oil and shot through with peanuts cilantro, and just enough Sichuan peppercorn to set your mouth atingle is especially delicious. My favorite place to dig into this fiery heap of beef offal is Cheng Du Tian Fu in Flushing’s Golden Shopping Mall. Cheng Du Tian Fu, No. 31, Golden Shopping Mall, 41-28 Main St., Flushing (more…)

04/29/14 1:40pm
PELLICCIFUSION

Both the full English and the penne Pellicci are impeccable.

I’m grateful to my new friend Anton Diaz of Our Awesome Planet, a Manila-based blogger who I met over the weekend in London at the 2014 Chowzter Awards. For without his gentle prodding I might never have experienced the wonders of a proper English full breakfast at E. Pellicci, an old school East End diner. On my last evening in London the jet lag was kicking pretty hard, but I’m glad that I ventured out next morning to Bethnal Green with Anton and two other international food bloggers Catherine Ling of Camemberu and Stanislaus Hans Danial Subianto of Eats and Treats to this family-run institution. (more…)

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…)