I know it's only January...but March is right around the corner and in the NYC food world that means time for the annual Village Voice Choice Eats. They just announced the third round of participating restaurants--they're up to 35 so far with more on the horizon and I'm willing to bet that before all the restaurants are named this event will be totally sold out...
The VIP tickets for the 6th Annual Choice Eats sold out in a record thirty minutes. Thirty minutes people! And they only have a limited number of general admission tickets left.
Here's who's coming so far...
606 R&D Black Shack Burger Bobwhite Lunch and Supper Counter Brooklyn Cured Brooklyn Kolache Buka Butter and Scotch Del Posto Dirt Candy Ditch Plains Fanny Fletcher's Brooklyn Barbecue Jimmy's No. 43 Joe Dough John Brown Smokehouse Kaia Wine Bar Littleneck Kuma Inn Lucky 777 Chili Luke's Lobster Mable's Smokehouse & Banquet Hall Maima's Liberian Bistro Mexico Lindo Mooncake Foods No. 7. Nom Wah Tea Parlor Ovenly Parish Hall Spicy Bampa The Meatball Shop Thirty Acres Txikito Xe May Sandwich Shop Yunnan Kitchen Zenon Taverna, and Zucker Bakery.
And here are the details. This year's event will be held Tuesday, March 19, 2013 from 6:30 - 9:30 PM at the 69th Armory on Lexington Avenue. General Admission tickets are $50 and include "complimentary food and dessert tasting, craft beer pairings, wine & liquor beverages, and entertainment throughout the night." Also, in addition to "Eats" you get "Choice Sweets" tasty dessert morsels from some of the best spots in the city.
A portion of the ticket sales go to Slow Food NYC.
For a food event in the city on this scale with this much good food (and booze), it's seriously a no-brainer. You will get your money's worth. Click here for tickets before they sell out and you're stuck buying pricey scalped ones on Craigslist.
Need more convincing? Check out our past Choice Eats coverage. You can keep tabs on the events, including the soon to be announced Choice Streets and any new restaurant additions by following @ChoiceEats.jump
One great aspect of my graduate program are the opportunities to go abroad and study food cultures and systems in other parts of the world. This past winter intersession one such trip was Food Cultures in Mexico where we would study in Puebla and Oaxaca. A significant part of the trip was spent visiting organic and industrial farms, observing interactions and the products available in the markets, and studying the changes to the Mexican food system since the passing of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994. But I'll just mainly show you the food.
Since my trip started out with an airline breakfast, I feel the need to share. I haven't had cooked airline food in a long while, so when I found out that AeroMexico would be giving me free meals I'll admit to being excited. It was nothing to really be excited over--except I did get the opportunity to eat two salads on the way home and that was heaven--but still. It's nice to get fed.
We had the fortunate, or unfortunate, situation of being in Mexico during the days of Christmas. It translated into repeatedly being fed Rosca de Reyes aka Three Kings Cake. One lesson occurred at Panaderia El Mirador, a traditional bakery in Puebla, where we fed that Rosca de Reyes at the top of this post, but no conchas, though we had to watch hundreds of conchas being made.
Other thing we got to watch being made, but didn't get to taste. It was a tease.
Doughnuts in general were little funny things to find, they were everywhere, but not in obvious places. This small doughnut stand was tucked in a small space off the town square.
One very interesting adventure was the tour of the centro de abastos, the massive main food distribution market. It was the Hunts Point of Puebla, and every stall was filled with fruits and vegetables for the day, including, of course, fresh huitlacoche.
And gorgeous little plump tomatillos bursting out of their skins.
At the back of the market was a smaller market where individuals could pick up food. The most interesting stalls to me were the meat ones. No refrigeration, barely any ice, just raw meat and pig heads hanging out in the hot Mexican sun.
This market did yield one delicious find: the best huarache of my life. It was made fresh by a lady in a stall--there's no name, no hours, no phone, no way to even tell you the stall number. But the cheese, mushrooms, and chorizo wrapped in her freshly-made tortilla ended up being one of my meal highlights of the entire trip.
One thing that was a let-down was visiting McDonald's. I love visiting McDonald's in other countries, just to see what crazy things I can get. Here, the only non-American item was the Kranky McFlurry.
Which didn't even live up to its picture. Like not even close.
Other post-NAFTA American corporate influences including the obliteration of the traditional Mexican diet for cheap processed foods.
And Costco cake.
But, surprisingly, the Chinese buffets I spotted, and there were a couple, are from the influx of Chinese into Mexico during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Looking into this more is one way I'm already rationalizing a second trip.
Red Hook’s famed Country Boys were the first of the Red Hook Vendors to win the coveted Vendy Cup and now they are the first to open a restaurant. We had the chance to get to know owners Fernando and Yolanda Martinez during the research for our upcoming book New York á la Cart: Recipes and Stories from the Big Apple’s BEST Food Trucks. The Country Boys are one of the 46 profiled vendors and their story from humble beginnings with just a couple tables and a grill at the ball fields is an inspiring one. One of the quotes that I love from the book comes from Fernando as he expressed his hope to one day open a restaurant: “Once we have a restaurant, we will feel more at peace.” Well, that day has finally come. The Country Boys have expanded from a truck to a full-fledged restaurant that just opened on the outskirts of South Slope on the southwest corner of 4th avenue and 16th street. Last Friday, Little B and I braved the snowy spell to check it out . . .
The menu has a mix of traditional Mexican and Puerto Rican dishes. Naturally their signature huaraches, enormous free form tortillas topped with vegetables or meat, cheese, sour cream, pico de gallo and guacamole, are featured prominently on the menu as are the tacos, sopes, gorditas, chalupas, flautas, and tostadas from the truck. While Country Boys don’t sell batidos or agua frescas at the ballfields they do have them at the restaurant (at the fields you can get these from Yolanda’s brother, Everardo Vaquero, at the Vaquero Fruit Truck, located just kitty corner from the Country Boys truck).
Rounding out the menu are a mix of tortas, cemitas, and main dishes like Bistec a la Mexicana, red or green enchiladas, stewed chicken or beef and chile rellenos among other Mexican dishes. They also serve breakfast.
We decided to try their Pernil (roasted pork) which came with rice and beans.
Little B was a huge fan. The meat was tender and juicy with some nice crispy, fatty skin bits mixed in. Delicious!
Congratulations to Fernando and Yolanda! Wishing you much success with your new venture. We’ll be back soon to try more of the menu (mmm… chilaquiles!) while we await the return of the ball fields in April. jump
If you’re a serious eater or serious cook, chances are you received some food related gadgets over the holidays. Here are a few favorites from my haul . . .
The Keurig frother was actually a gift from my aunt a couple Christmases ago, but it’s one that I still use on a fairly regular basis and perfect for making a lazy man’s latte. The frother heats and froths milk in a matter of minutes. Just add that to your favorite coffee or in my case, instant espresso, and jump start your day.
The Spongester was a gift to Lawman. Sold exclusively by Uncommon Goods, a fun gift site that Blondie introduced me to, it’s a clever way to keep your “good” dish sponge” safe from being mistaken for your “evil” surface sponge. I appreciate the double decker stacking that lets the sponges dry out without marinating too much in their own bacteria slurry. If you’re going to cook, you’ve got to clean up!
We also got a brand new mortar and pestle from my in-laws and that's definitely a gift I’m looking forward to. Our old marble mortar and pestle took an unfortunate spill off the counter that left it in pieces. We love using it for grinding spices—that way we can buy whole spices like whole cloves or whole peppercorns and then grind them so the spices stay fresher longer. I can’t wait to break this one in!
If there was a food gift of the year at Casa Brownie it was the Baking Steel. I gifted three to some of my nearest and dearest. If you love making pizza at home this is a new must have tool. The steel retains and transfers heat better than our old baking stone resulting in quicker pizza cook time (win!) and better crust (super win!). We test drove my brother’s steel at my parents’ house for Christmas dinner and my brother proclaimed that we made the best tasting homemade pizza crust that he’d ever had (and that was even using store bought dough. The rise was just plain superior. Don’t believe me? Check out this comprehensive review on Serious Eats from Kenji Lopez-Alt.
Hi friends of the interwebs! I thought that when I returned from my Mexican adventure, the emails would be few, the events would be scattered, I could read the awesome books I've picked up on Mexican culture, but I was wrong. There are so many things going on and most of them cheap or even free! Let's start with next week's Meatball Takedown. Matt Timms and 30 meatball makers are taking over The Bell House Sunday afternoon. Tickets are currently sold out, but you know, check Craigslist for people reselling.
There also another event that I'm excited about and it's free! American Meat is a documentary looking at the differences between the industrial and the sustainable American meat production systems. My interest is currently piqued due to the different types of farms I visited in Mexico, including a commercial pig farm that uses its waste for electricity. I have not yet had a chance to catch any of its screenings since it came out in late 2011, but there's one coming up March 26. I know, that's why far off, but not really! The location will be somewhere on the NYU campus, I'm assuming where is dependent on how many folks RSVP. If you want to join, RSVP here.
Or if you're concerned about "what is organic?" you should check out In Organic We Trust. There isn't any scheduled screening in New York, but it is available on-demand today via a bunch of websites. jump
Each dish was amazing in it's own right. The Spicy Tomato Soup had a nice bite and was totally a satisfying winter dish I could see myself making at home.
The Finger Lime Skate Fish dish truly embraced the theme of the contest: "Earth" by showcasing some very Aussie ingredients--finger limes and yams that are prized in indigenous cuisine, along with skate and macadamia nuts. Since I'm allergic to nuts I couldn't properly partake in their dish, but it looked INCREDIBLE and I can tell you that a hush fell over the crowd as soon as they had a chance to put their forks to work.
Lastly there was a decadent and slightly savory black truffle custard which made for an unexpected but entirely delicious meal capper.
How could Australian celebrity judge, Chef Guy Grossi pick from among these three terrific dishes? Well, thanks to the generosity of the sponsors, he didn't really have to! They decided to give all THREE finalists a trip to Australia. Hooray and a huge congrats to the winners! Looking forward to seeing their coverage of the festival!
I'm getting ready to head down to Austin, Texas and I'm super excited because it's my very first time and I've heard that Austin has some amazing eats. I won't have a ton of time to explore, so I want to make sure anything I do have the chance to try is AWESOME. Can you help?
As an unapologetic doughnut fiend, Lawman-in-law told me to definitely hit Gordoughs for their ridiculously large, hot doughnuts in mind-blowing combinations like the DIRTY BERRY, a chocolate fudge iced with grilled strawberries or the FLYING PIG, with bacon with maple syrup icing...mmm...
Alas, I don't think there will be time for Franklin's BBQ, but I am dying for some good breakfast tacos and also, some tasty food truck grub. So where should I go? Hit me up with suggestions?
Last week we got the exciting news that Eater choose our book as one of their "regional pick's" for their Spring 2013 Cookbook & Food Book Preview, where they said "this book is on the must-read list for its stories of food carts and trucks navigating New York's complicated street food scene." And take it from us there are some amazing stories. This book wouldn't exist without the generosity of the incredible vendors who took the time to share their stories teach us their recipes. We hope the book pays them tribute. If you want to pre-order your copy 'cause you love us--hey, my cousin already did!--this link from our publisher Running Press has all the spots where you can do so online or find a store near you. Thanks too, to our readers for all of your support, we can't wait to share more about the book with all of you as we get closer to publication!
Ok, maybe Instagram didn't "force" me to go eat a bunch of cake but after seeing some gorgeous shots of their Olive Oil Bundt and Winter Mint Cake in Baked baker Matt Lewis' twitter feed what's a girl to do? Eat cake and lots of it!
I first had a little bite of Blondie's piece of olive oil bundt over the summer when we were at the ballfields researching stories for our upcoming street food book. Gah. This cake is too good to be true. Impossibly moist and lightly citrusy, it's bundt cake perfection.
I couldn't leave with just one cake, so I nabbed a slice of Wintermint, which I'd also spotted on their twitter feed (note to self: think before you click on any instagram shots from bakeries...it's a slippery slope). If you love chocolate and mint this is the cake for you. In between the fluffy mint buttercream on the inner layers there's peppermint chocolate ganache (yes, ganache!). Oh, glory! Like Blondie, I'm thankful that Baked is just enough out of my way to make it a special occasion excursion (that demands two pieces of cake).
Once upon a time I dreamed of a cinnamon bun with delicious
smokey bacon coiled inside and browned butter icing on top. Well, this holiday
break I made that bun a reality and I have to say it was everything I hoped it
would be (and more!)…
As part of Christmas Part II at my in-laws we broke out my
husband’s brand new Baking Steel to concoct the Twelve Pizzas of Christmas.
Italian sausage, pepperoni, Gorgonzola, peppadew peppers, anchovies, clams,
roasted garlic, roasted tomatoes, and fresh basil were all had in various
combinations. Alas, fatigue and fullness set in before we made it quite to
twelve. After ten pizzas we called it quits for the night with the plan to make
cinnamon rolls with the remaining dough in the morning. I just threw these buns
together by feel, so sorry for the non-exact directions but I’ll do my best to
detail what I did…
Bacon Cinnamon Buns with Browned Butter Icing Serves 5
For the buns:
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
½ cup dark brown sugar (approximate)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar (approximate)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 strips of cooked thick cut bacon, (not too crispy you
still want to be able to roll the bacon in the bun)
1 pound pizza dough
¼ cup whole milk
For the icing:
6 tablespoons unsalted
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
Move your oven rack to the center position and preheat your
oven to 350°F.
Whisk dark brown and granulated sugars and 1 teaspoon of
vanilla into the melted butter, you should have a nice thick paste. If it looks
too soupy/buttery, add a few more tablespoons of dark brown sugar.
On a generously floured surface, roll out dough into a large
square about ¼ of an inch thick. Use a pastry brush to completely coat the
surface of the dough with your butter mixture.
Lay out the strips of bacon horizontally at even intervals, each bun
will have a strip of bacon in the center (you may want to halve your strips of
bacon lengthwise and lay them next to each other and slightly staggered for
each bun so you get bacon throughout the whole bun. Use a serrated knife to cut
five buns (making sure that the bacon is placed in the center of the dough).
Tightly coil the buns and place them in a greased 8 x 8
baking dish. Brush the buns with milk then bake until the tops are golden brown
and crispy, approximately 45 minutes (keep a close eye on them, mine took I
think closer to an hour but there were other people going in and out of the
While the buns are baking brown the butter for the icing in
a saucepan over medium heat, swirling the pan every so often. In a medium bowl
whisk together butter with confectioner’s sugar and vanilla. Adding a little
more sugar if your frosting looks too buttery. Cool the cinnamon buns for a
couple of minutes then frost and serve warm.
The other day I wondered on twitter if it was perhaps too early to be dreaming of Pancake Month at Clinton Street Baking Company. Well, apparently pancakes are in the air because they JUST posted this February's pancake schedule and it looks awesome...
The special pancakes are ONLY served Monday through Friday from 8am until 4pm and 6pm to 11pm. And if you're not a fan of the particular pancake of the day, they do have their famous wild Maine blueberry, banana walnut or chocolate chunk, with warm maple butter pancakes on their everyday menu.
They only take dinner reservations for parties of six or more and if you're going with that big a group you'd definitely want a reservation to avoid a long wait for a table.
I hope we can find the time to go a couple of time this year...
Then I got a little boozy, 'cause come on, would a good Southern boy like Elvis pass up some bourbon? For those of you who prefer your cake in giant slab form, check out this triple layer, super decadent banana, bacon and bourbon birthday cake I created for Peanut Butter & Company, the very shop in Greenwich Village that introduced me to the Elvis sandwich, a grilled peanut butter, banana, and bacon wonder drizzled with honey.
No time for baking? Stop by PB & Co and pick up an Elvis sandwich. They'll even cut the crusts off for you, if you ask nicely.
This year we decided to mix things up for New Year’s at my in-laws. Traditionally we’d have a turkey or a ham or some sort of roast. And it would be fine and good, but somehow the holiday always felt like a bit of a letdown. New Year’s Eve is all about your expectations. Popular culture tells us we have to have big plans, a last huzzah to finish out the old year and ring in the new, but for a gathering for a family of eaters the menu was getting a bit stale. While I won’t knock tradition, our New Year’s eating tended to resemble some hybrid of Thanksgiving and Christmas and how can you really compete when you’ve already celebrated those holidays in fairly short order? This year I suggested rethinking the menu entirely and that’s just what we did, preparing an Indian feast in the process…
Here’s what we had…sorry there aren’t more pictures but after two days in the kitchen, I wanted to get my feast on.
In the large tureen above there was a glorious Mulligatawny soup from Saveur. Seriously, this soup is not to be missed. It does require a homemade chicken stock, but it’s so, soooo worth it.
Also on the menu, a ridiculously smooth and creamy Paneer Saag, dal, tandoori chicken, a super rich curry chicken that came to my mother-in-law courtesy of an Indian Ambassador friend, aloo chaat that I whipped up on the sly, naan, and homemade Pondicherry dosas a la the Vendy winning NY Dosa cart from Washington Square Park, you can find that recipe in our forthcoming book New York a la Cart (now available for pre-order on Amazon or IndieBound), and mango lassis whipped up from some frozen mango and plain, unsweetened kefir.
We ate VERY well and there was plenty leftover to ensure we didn’t need to do any cooking, just reheating on New Year’s Day. Not sure if Indian New Year will become the new tradition or if we’ll pick another cuisine next year, but I can say that the menu swap was much enjoyed.
What New Year’s food traditions do you look forward to?
When Lawman and I were courting on my first visit home to
his parents I discovered something wonderful…my future in-laws loved cheese as
much as I do. In fact they even had a large box in their fridge devoted
entirely to cheese. Delicious stinky cheese. This year we spent Christmas at my
parents’ place so Christmas Part II, a few days later was at the in-laws.
Instead of bringing them something they’d have to dust, I decided to give them
the gift of cheese (and a brand spanking new slate cheese board from Brooklyn Slate). I put together a fancy picnic we could all enjoy as a
family and in the process discovered some new cheeses that I’m absolutely in
This cheese picnic involved pick up stops at both East
Village Cheese and Murray’s Cheese, two of my favorite cheese purveyors in the
city. The prices at East Village Cheese can’t be beat (the wedge of Brie that I
bought was twice the size of what you see in the pic above and only $3!) and I
love the element of surprise. You just never know what they’ll have on sale.
Murray’s is my go-to for the super fancy stuff. I picked up some favorites
there like Cypress Grove’s dreamy Humboldt Fog, a chevre that even my
goat-cheese-loathing mother-in-law could fall for, Cashal Blue, a mild and
nutty Irish Blue and St. Marcellin, the super oozy and creamy wonder in the
little crock above.
I also nabbed a few new to me cheeses that will have to be
repeated in 2013 for sure. That little round cheese in the top left corner is
the Triple Truffle, a cavemaster reserve cheese from Murray’s that’s a
quadruple cream with truffle butter (yes, you read that right, TRUFFLE BUTTER)
in the center. Decadent and lovely, it’s hard to think of a better way to kick
off the New Year.
The Delice de Bourgogne was another huge hit with the family
(it’s the round cheese in the bottom left corner). Super buttery and creamy, it
went down easy with the French blackberry and violet jelly I picked up at East
Village Cheese—how good was this combo? Lawman-in-law doesn’t eat fruit or jam,
of any sort, and he found himself slathering both on a baguette with gusto.
Last, but not least, the Harbison from Jasper Hill Farms in
Vermont was a spruce bark lined cheese. Creamy (you can see it oozing out of
its rind in the top right corner) and a little funky, this was Little B’s
favorite (that’s my boy!).
The only trouble with cheese picnics is they make you long
for more cheese picnics. I hope another one is in my near future. What other
cheeses should I try in the New Year?
Happy New Year! 2012 is long gone now (good riddance for me), and 2013 is a fresh blank slate. Here are a few places I hope to visit more in the New Year. (And maybe I'm hoping Googa Mooga 2013 is beyond the beyond.)