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…)

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…)