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12/12/18 10:30pm

It takes a true charcuterie master to make a masterful sandwich, and Don Rodrigo Duarte is such a master. I first met Don Rodrigo four years ago when I helped to launch Charcuterie Masters.

Today was my second visit to his shop, Caseiro e Bom in Newark’s Ironbound. I’ve tasted his exquisite Portuguese charcuterie several times, but it occurred to me and the New York Epicurean Events crew that none of us had ever had a sandwich made by the master.

“O.K. I’ll make you guys a sandwich,” Don Rodrigo said after giving us a tour of his subterranean curing chambers, which are filled with precious pure breed Alentejano hams. (more…)

12/11/18 12:18pm

Top row: raw puerh tea from 2017, bottom the prized 1976 raw puerh.

Fang Gourmet Tea is one of my favorite places to take food tour guests when exploring the bustling neighborhood that is downtown Flushing. It’s a great way to get to know my new friends. Plus, they’re always surprised to find the oasis of calm lying at the back of a minimall, just steps away from the often chaotic energy of America’s Greatest Chinatown. The puerh tea that I typically order—Little Brick—is great for the digestion, and it’s always neat for my guests to see the bullion-sized break expand over the course of five steeps. (more…)

12/10/18 5:40pm

A verdant reminder of spring on a cold Elmhurst evening.

Despite all the writing I do about various international cuisines there remains a soft spot in my heart and stomach for pizza and pasta, particularly as served by New York City pizzerias. It’s a rarity to find homemade pasta at the corner slice shop, so I’ve been curious about the homemade pasta at Louie’s Pizzeria for years. The thing is I’m usually too full after eating two or three pieces of their award-winning grandma slice to enjoy it. (more…)

12/05/18 9:59am

“We got Queens in the house today?” Action Bronson recently asked a studio audience during a cooking segment on Good Morning America. One person from New York City’s most majestic borough responded with a whoop. So, since many folks from Queens didn’t see the segment I thought I’d present it here. It’s an ode to a very particular New York City sandwich, no not the pastrami on rye, but the breakfast sandwich.

“I’m going to make an egg and cheese on a roll, which is a New York City breakfast staple,” Bronson says before preceding to sear $150 worth of wagyu in pan. It gets better from there, ending with a mountain of parmigiano reggiano grated on top before he hands the it off to ex New York Giant Michael Strahan, but not before mentioning that it is “keto approved.” Action, if you’re reading this can you pretty please open a coffee cart?

12/03/18 9:25pm

Not your corner takeout kung pao!

Chen Du Tian Fu, the stall that lies at the bottom of the stairs of Flushing’s Golden Shopping Mall has been my favorite Sichuan spot for more than 10 years. I’ve even taken such luminaries as Sichuan food expert Fuchsia Dunlop and Anthony Bourdain there and once ran into Mission Chinese founder Danny Bowien and his staff.

I’ve tasted tremendously good cold noodles, fiery water poached fish, and superb ma po tofu, along with many, many other specialties from the vast menu. There’s one dish that never appeared, kung pao chicken, or gong bao ji ding as it is known in Chinese. (more…)

11/26/18 9:53pm

My friend Cherry—the bundle of wacky energy that is the creative force behind Elmhurst’s best Thai boat noodles—has been saying I should stop by her joint Pata Cafe when she’s there cooking on Tuesdays. I’ve been there before, but since the cafe, part after school hangout with French fries and part Thai hawker food, was just given a Michelin Bib Gourmand, I figured a return visit was in order.

When I arrived, she reminded me of a special chicken dish, gai tod hat yai, that she had started making according to the recipe of Sunisa Nitmai who runs the kitchen at Pata Cafe. Named for the Southern city of Hat Yai where it first became popular, it is indeed quite special, crunchy and flavorful thanks to a marinade that includes coriander, coconut milk, cumin, and black pepper among other things. It’s served with a sweet chili sauce and nam jim jaew, a spicy funky mix of fish sauce and chili bolstered by roasted rice powder. It needs neither.

“The trick is you have fry them and make sure it’s crispy and not overcooked,” Cherry says, making it out to be far easier to make than it is.

Pata Cafe, 56-14 Van Horn St., Elmhurst, (347) 469-7142

11/19/18 5:05pm

It took me at least three years of attending the monthly NY Indonesian Food Bazaar to get around to trying a stand called Mie Tek Tek. I’d passed Chef Andy Sutanto many times as he tossed noodles and rice in his wok. For about a year one of the only things I ate at the movable Indonesian feast that takes place in Elmhurst’s St. James Parish House was bubur ayam, the rice porridge topped with chicken, crunchy soybeans, and spicy peanut sauce. I also had a thing for Pecel Ndeso’s tripe and other offal delights.
For whatever reason though on Saturday, even though I was really in the mood for soup, I decided to try Chef Andy’s Jakartan style street food. (more…)

10/30/18 11:30am

It’s not a Pop-Tart, but it makes a great breakfast.

Sun Mary Bakery lies across the street from Golden Shopping Mall and the Q-58 bus, which takes me from my home in Rego Park to America’s greatest Chinatown in downtown Flushing. On food tour days, I pregame there with a pineapple bun, so named for the sugary crust’s similar appearance to the tropical fruit.

In a lot of ways Sun Mary is a typical New York City Chinese bakery. The shelves are lined with buns filled with pork floss, and come fall there’s plenty of mooncake, but it also has a small sideline in Taiwanese treats, notably feng li su, or pineapple cake. Unlike its Chinese cousin, the golden brown buttery treat does contain fruit. Sun Mary sells the tiny pastries in little golden boxes, making them a perfect parting gift for food tour guests. Sometimes, they even have one with salted egg yolk.

“No more,” the lady behind the counter told me about a month ago when I asked for feng li su, indicating that they wouldn’t be back until next fall. Two weeks ago I noticed a flat pastry sitting in the spot on the counter normally reserved for the pineapple cake. Turns out it is gigantic version of the Taiwanese treat. Since I have no idea how long it will be around, I have taken to eating one after every Flushing tour.

Sun Mary Bakery, 133-57 41st Rd, Flushing, 718-460-8800

10/24/18 10:23pm

Better for a late-night megasnack than breakfast.

Even though it sports two eggs and pork belly—not unlike a certain New York City coffee cart staple—Bill Henderson is quick to point that Hendu’s pork belly hero isn’t a breakfast sandwich.

“You’re not going to have a very long day if you eat that for breakfast,” he said of his creation which features thinly shaved pork belly, two fried eggs, and redeye gravy. The latter—a combination of tomato, veal stock, and coffee—was not quite to Chef Hendu’s liking so he had taken the pork belly off the menu when I stopped by last night.

Nevertheless he was kind enough to make this glorious sandwich, a favorite among some Per Se chefs, who like to stop by the sandwich shop that operates out the kitchen at Dutch Kills Bar. It was stupendously good. I can’t wait to taste it when the gravy is really on point. If you’re reading this right now, do note the kitchen is open late.

Hendu’s Sandwich Shop, Dutch Kills, 27-24 Jackson Ave, Long Island City

10/22/18 9:41pm

The fig and rosemary latte from Toby’s Estate Coffee Roasters.

I’d just wrapped up a rather epic food tour of the entire 7 line in Long Island City. Before parting ways with one of my guests we had a brief chat about overpriced coffee in L.I.C. and how he never patronizes the local cafes. After we parted ways I proceeded to one of the aforementioned cafes, Toby’s Estate Coffee Roasters for an espresso.

When it come to highfalutin java I’m an espresso man, or if I’m feeling kind of fancy a cortado. I hardly ever get lattes, and certainly never flavored ones. But when I saw the sign on the counter for a $5 seasonal fig and rosemary latte, I couldn’t resist. If I’m going to overpay for a coffee, it might as well be a fancy one.

Thankfully both the rosemary syrup and fig preserves were on the light side, but it was definitely a sweet drink. In any case I’m sure it was way better than the ubiquitous pumpkin spice latte. So here’s what I like to know friends, what’s your favorite fall beverage? Let me know in the comments below.