Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Menu for Hope, Dec. 10-21

Menu for Hope is an annual fundraiser hosted by Chez Pim in support of the UN World Food Programme. Food bloggers from around the world donate different prizes to the event. People can buy $10 raffle tickets (as many tickets as they want) and they will be entered into a random drawing for that prize. Last year, Menu for Hope raised $60,925.12. Let's help them raise even more this year!

A few prizes for East Coast people....(full East Coast prize list on Serious Eats)

Dinner for 2 at Blue Hill at Stone Barns

Prize Code: UE01
From: The Amateur Gourmet
Prize code: UE01

One-Night Stay Plus Culinary Class Package at the Vermont Culinary Resort

Prize Code: UE30
From: The Inn at Essex
Prize code: UE30

NYC Guided Pizza Tour for 4

Prize Code: UE19 From: Slice Prize code: UE19

If you want to know more, check out the
FAQ section of Chez Pim. The full list of prizes from all over the world can be found here.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Mantou at Province

Just had take out from Province Chinese Canteen (in Tribeca) for dinner the other night, and I'm still thinking about the sandwiches, and when I can eat them again.

I got them because they are made on "mantou," this white Chinese bun that I had growing up (my mother or grandmother would buy them frozen from the supermarket and then steam them in a pot). They are really plain (kind of like white bread), but since they are steamed they are really soft and can be dipped in congee or whatever you would like. I suppose I was curious to see if this kind of hip Chinese snack place in Tribeca would have good food - I think I'm kind of Chinese food snobbish in that way, but then again, I've had a lot of pseudo-Chinese food. What throws me is the location - if it was really authentic, then it would be in Chinatown right?

I ordered the braised pork shoulder (which came with pickles) and the short rib and kimchee sandwiches. Their mantou (the picture above is of their shiitake and portabella mushroom sandwich) are made in house with sesame seeds and are more round than traditional ones (pictured right). The mantou was soft and fluffy as if it had just came out of the steamer. I liked the short rib and kimchee sandwich more than the braised pork shoulder (though it was still good). The short ribs were marinated in Province's special sauce and were just really tender and flavorful. Honestly, I think the reason I didn't like the pork shoulder more was that I was hoping that the pork shoulder would be like this dish my grandmother used to make, but it wasn't as fatty, and I like me some fatty pork shoulder (it's disgusting I know).

I also had some sugar snap peas which were incredibly green and crisp tasting that I thought it was summer again and not 30 degrees outside. Yum! However, they came with a pepper sesame vinaigrette which was pungent and I kept smelling it on my clothes afterwards and was really paranoid about other people smelling me (so be careful, or eat these while naked).

The sandwiches are small (think English muffin size - traditional mantou is not as small), but they come 2 for $7.50 or $3.95 each ($4.25 to $4.50 for the special mantou sandwiches), which is not bad since they were so tasty and that the restaurant is in Tribeca. However, if this place were in Chinatown I think that the sandwiches would sell for $2 max (think Dumpling House prices).

But it's not going to stop me from going back there. That is, until I start making my own homemade mantou sandwiches. I just found this recipe to make mantou, and it's just yeast, sugar, water and flour. How easy it that?

UPDATE: I have tried other sandwiches including the spicy pork, chili mackerel (after reading the NY Times article), and the shiitake and portabella one. So, my favorites are definitely the spicy pork and the short rib. The chili mackerel (though highly praised in the article) didn't live up to my expectations and the mushroom one is just plain slimy.

Also check out the later post when I made mantou!

Province Chinese Canteen
305 Church Street at Walker St.
New York, NY 10013
(212) 925-1205


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Yes, it takes 3 hours, but it's worth the effort

I made this "7 Cup Pudding" (my boyfriend's grandmother's recipe) for Thanksgiving. I love bread pudding, but was wary if the recipe would work out since I didn't have a steamer or a double broiler so I had to fashion a makeshift one with a Pyrex bowl and a large pot. I didn't have a trivet so I ended up putting a chopstick at the bottom of the pot so the bowl wouldn't touch the water.

Even though I had to steam the pudding for 3 hours, the result was delicious - creamy, buttery, and sweet. A friend who tasted it said it made her feel "safe." That's how comfort food should be.

7 Cup Pudding

1 cup each of:
butter (1 cup = two sticks)
raisins - I bought nice fancy ones from Whole Foods and I think it really made the difference
apple (cut into small chunks)
fresh bread crumbs (slices torn into small pieces)

Mix together and put in bowl. Cover with tin foil or some kind of lid and steam 3 hours in steamer or pot. Stir occasionally to mix in the melted butter. Serve with cream, corn syrup, ice cream or custard.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Dunkin' Don't Make Sense

The first time it happened, up at a Dunkin' Donuts in Harlem, I thought it was just a fluke. Now that it has happened again, in Brooklyn, I just don't understand how this is supposed to make the franchise money.

I go into Dunkin' Donuts to order a sausage, egg and cheese croissant sandwich with a SMALL coffee. HOWEVER, when I went to pay, it costs MORE than if I order the Combo of the sausage, egg and cheese croissant sandwich with a MEDIUM coffee. And, no, you can't have a small coffee with the sandwich at the combo price. You have to get the medium coffee. You have to get more coffee than you wanted to drink just so you will save fifty cents.

The thought of waste and increasing my carbon footprint gnawed on my conscience, but I went ahead and got the medium coffee anyway. I just thought how ridiculous it all was and part of me wanted to stick it to Dunkin' Donuts and their stupidity. Why couldn't I just get a small coffee and have it be the same price? I would be saving Dunkin' Donuts the extra coffee, and in turn, money.

If anyone can explain to me how this is at all beneficial (perhaps someone who works for Dunkin' Donuts?), I would greatly appreciate it. I just can't wrap my head around the mathematics of it all. And I'm good at math.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Milk Update (Finally!)

Okay...so after contacting the USDA (who directed me to contact the FDA), I got the following reply 2 and a half weeks later:

the regulations related to milk can be found on this site: http://www.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/cfrassemble.cgi?title=200621
use the search term to find milk requirements.
So I went to the aforementioned website and didn't find anything regarding pus or somatic cells, but after doing a little more digging on Google, I found someone else who had the same question on Google Answers.

You can go to the link to read the full answer, but I've included some interesting parts:

Somatic Cells

Cells from the body that compose the tissues, organs, and parts of that
individual other than the germ (sex) cells.


The Somatic Cell Count and Milk Quality

"The somatic cell count (SCC) is commonly used as a measure of milk quality. Somatic cells are simply animal body cells present at low levels in normal milk. High levels of these cells in milk indicate abnormal, reduced-quality milk that is caused by an intramammary bacterial infection (mastitis). The majority of the cells in a somatic cell count are leukocytes (white blood cells), and some are cells from the udder secretory tissue (epithelial cells). The epithelial cells are part of the normal body function and are shed and renewed in normal body processes. The white blood cells serve as a defense mechanism to fight disease (infection), and assist in repairing damaged tissue. Milk markets routinely rely on somatic cell counts to help ensure a quality product. SCC levels are monitored to assure compliance with state and federal milk quality standards. Today, most markets pay a premium for low SCC, good-quality milk."


Milk Ordinance

Table 1. Chemical, Physical, Bacteriological, and Temperature Standards

Cooled to 10°C (50°F) or less within four (4) hours or less, of the commencement of the first milking, and to 7°C (45°F) or less within two (2) hours after the completion of milking. Provided, that the blend temperature after the first milking and subsequent milkings does not exceed 10°C (50°F).
Bacterial Limits...........
Individual producer milk not to exceed 100,000 per mL prior to commingling with other producer milk. Not to exceed 300,000 per mL as commingled milk prior to pasteurization.
No positive results on drug residue detection methods as referenced in Section 6 - Laboratory
Somatic Cell Count*...
Individual producer milk not to exceed 750,000 per mL.
Cooled to 7°C (45°F) or less and maintained thereat.
Bacterial Limits**......
20,000 per mL, or gm.***
Not to exceed 10 per mL. Provided, that in the case of bulk milk transport tank shipments, shall not exceed 100 per mL.
Less than 350 milliunits/L for fluid products and other milk products by the Fluorometer or Charm ALP or equivalent.
No positive results on drug residue detection methods as referenced in Section 6 - Laboratory Techniques which have been found to be acceptable for use with pasteurized and heat-treated milk and milk products


******I recommend going to the above site to see the full Milk Ordinance table*******


A Somatic Cell Count (mostly white blood cells) is not tested in pasteurized milk because it is tested "at the farm gate". Milk will never be 100% free of somatic cells because they are a normal part of lactation. However, taking a Somatic Cell Count is important because a high count will effect the quality of the product (off flavor,color, and smell plus a reduced shelf life). A dairy farmer's raw milk collection cannot exceed a somatic cell count of 750,000 per mL at the farm gate. Cell count is determined by the health of the animals and the milk from one cow with mastitis (udder infection) will have a very high cell count, however, that cell count will be diluted when added to the rest of the herd's milk. The farm's milk is added to a truckload of milk from other farms which will dilute the cell count per mL further, and then that truckload is added to all the other truckloads at the dairy processing plant, diluting the cell count even further. Therefore, by the time the milk is bottled up, the milk will contain a somatic cell count of no more than 750,000 per mL and likely a lot less. Pasteurization is used to lower bacterial levels and not to reduce the somatic cell count.

So there you have it, ladies and gents. Milk, all milk and not just chocolate milk, has blood in it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Truth About Chocolate Milk

At dinner tonight I learned that chocolate milk is made with blood-contaminated milk that can't be sold as regular milk because it's pink.

Um, ewwwww.....good thing I drank only regular milk growing up....

However, after I decided to post this disgusting fact about chocolate milk, a recent Google search and read on Snopes.com reveals that it's not true. Seems like the good ol' FDA is doing its job.

BUT, a further search brought me to the NOTMILK website, where there are tons of articles and links about cow's milk. Below is a quote from an article by
Robert M. Kradjian, MD, Breast Surgery Chief Division of General Surgery, of Seton Medical Centre #302 in Daly City, CA.

Any lactating mammal excretes toxins through her milk. This includes antibiotics, pesticides, chemicals and hormones. Also, all cows' milk contains blood! The inspectors are simply asked to keep it under certain limits. You may be horrified to learn that the USDA allows milk to contain from one to one and a half million white blood cells per millilitre. (That’s only 1/30 of an ounce). If you don’t already know this, I’m sorry to tell you that another way to describe white cells where they don’t belong would be to call them pus cells. To get to the point, is milk pure or is it a chemical, biological, and bacterial cocktail? Finally, will the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) protect you? The United States General Accounting Office (GAO) tells us that the FDA and the individual States are failing to protect the public from drug residues in milk. Authorities test for only 4 of the 82 drugs in dairy cows.

Interesting....so even if it's regular milk it still has blood in it (though we don't see it). That's gross. Well, I suppose I suggest switching over to soy milk for now (you don't want to be drinking any pus!) while I try to navigate the FDA archives to get to the bottom of this.

** Update: Please see later post "Milk Update (Finally)" for what I found out...

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Enough about sandwiches already!

I know we've pounded the sandwich issue to a pulp already, but The New York Times Dining & Wine section has an article about everybody's favorite sandwich, the grilled cheese!

A couple of excerpts:

For the past four years, this city (Los Angeles) has also been home to the Grilled Cheese Invitational. Roughly 600 people show up at an unpublicized address, armed with frying pans and camping stoves, and are given 20 minutes to demonstrate their grilled cheese prowess. (One year, a contestant constructed an eight-foot grilled sandwich rendition of “The Gates” by Christo and Jeanne-Claude.)

“Grilled cheese is basically fat on fat on fat,” Mr. Greenspan said cheerfully.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

$14,500 dessert - what?


A resort in Sri Lanka is charging $14,500 for the dessert pictured above according to AP. "The Fortress Stilt Fisherman Indulgence" is "a gold leaf Italian cassata flavored with Irish cream, served with a mango and pomegranate compote and a champagne sabayon enlighten. It's decorated with a chocolate carving of a fisherman clinging to a stilt - an age-old local fishing practice - and an 80-carat aquamarine stone."

David Letterman did "Top Ten Questions To Ask Yourself Before Buying a $14,500 Dessert", number 1 being "Do I really want to be fat and a dumbass?"

Friday, September 28, 2007

Best Car Ad

Most car ads nowadays pretty much stink. This one - for Skoda Fabia - really put a smile on my face. Can you guess why?

Saturday, September 22, 2007


Sorry that it has taken me this long to post this - things were a bit hectic after getting back and then there was the Sandwich Poll to deal with.

One of the places we visited was Marfa, TX, a small town, where Donald Judd lived and worked from 1972 until his death in 1994. We went there to visit the Chinati Foundation, the Judd foundation and Ballroom Marfa. We had been in New Mexico at White Sands and Carlsbad Caverns before driving to Marfa, and had only eaten at chain restaurants, so we were ready for some good food.

We got in Tuesday afternoon, and after settling in at our hotel, looked at the list of restaurants in the hotel guide. After calling a few, we decided to go to Jett's Grill (or rather it was decided for us since it was the only place in town open for dinner).

I was less than excited because the name suggested to me some really sleazy bar with dim lighting and dirty pool tables. But what choice did we have?

Though Marfa is a small town, we had trouble finding the restaurant, but that was because it was inside the Hotel Paisano (the headquarters for the film Giant), which we didn't know. Jett's Grill was not a sleazy bar, but a fine dining establishment with linen tablecloths and antique furnishings . We sat outside on the enclosed patio that had a fountain and some fancy shrubbery. It didn't feel like we were in Marfa, though I wasn't sure at the time what Marfa should be like.

I had a fried steak that was encrusted with pistachios (yum!) over a bed of mashed potatoes. Even better than the steak was the side of broccoli - cooked just until tender and I don't know what they put on it - butter? - to make it so mouthwatering. The meal wasn't cheap ($15-$20 mains), but wasn't overly expensive either for being a restaurant in a hotel.

The next morning we grabbed coffee and homemade muffins at the coffee shop next to the Marfa Book Company. The coffee was strong and smooth (roasted by Big Bend roasters) and a small cup is $1 (It's been a long time since I've gotten a cup of coffee for a dollar!).

After the morning tour at the Chinati Foundation we had lunch at the Food Shark. The Food Shark is a traveling taco truck, and parks itself in a sandy lot across from the Marfa Book Company. They have daily specials in addition to their menu of falafel sandwiches and veggie and hummus sandwiches.

I got one of the specials - a grilled vegetable torta, which was delicious (the guacamole was especially tasty) and a Mexican coke, which is a coke in tall glass bottle that tastes a little sweeter than regular coke. It was nice to eat at the picnic tables underneath this awning. I overheard a local guy say that it was the best place to get lunch in town.

For dinner we headed to the Italian restaurant, Maiya's. It came highly recommended by several people we knew who had lived in Marfa at one time or another. When we entered the restaurant, I thought that I was back in New York: high ceilings, a red painted wall by the bar, black wood furniture, crisp white linens, minimalist design. The food was incredible. We started off with a beet and goat cheese salad that came with walnuts. For entrees, I had the penne vodka, extremely creamy and a little spicy (however, by the end, the initial burst of flavor mellowed out and I felt I couldn't really taste the pasta anymore - it was weird). Tim had the mushroom lasagna (the pasta is homemade) which was oozing with flavor. We finished with homemade pistachio ice cream.

Though we really enjoyed the food, I was left feeling a little uncomfortable afterwards. My pasta dish was $19 and Tim's was $22, and I was thinking that I probably wouldn't pay these prices even if I was in New York. I guess I had come to Marfa thinking that because it was a small town, that food and everything else wouldn't be that expensive, but Marfa is like a little New York now.

I guess since Donald Judd moved to the town (he was the town's second largest employer after the school board), the town began to change. It's still changing with artists going there to live or to do residencies. More galleries are springing up. We even saw a specialty grocery store that was about to open. All of these places have a certain aesthetic (sans serif signage, cool colors, modern design), which I like, but I felt bad for liking because I wanted to know what the real Marfa was like. I wondered if the townspeople who lived there hated the gentrification that was happening or was used to it because of Judd.

We went to The Brown Recluse for breakfast the next morning. What I liked about it was that the cafe/restaurant was in a house and it felt like a breakfast place I had been to before in Boston. They also had a small used book section with CD's by local artists.

We both ordered different Mexican egg dishes at the register and they gave us a toy (picachu-like) to place on our table so that the waitress could find us when our food was ready. I thought that their system was good - everyone ordering up at the register for take out or for table service (you can tip up at the register). I've been to a cafe before where they tried to do take-out and table service but it was so confusing. There wasn't a clear separation between the take-out and the table service, and the same person would be ringing up take-out orders so you would see someone going up to the counter to order, and then you would do the same, but if they asked you if you wanted to sit down, they would tell you to sit down and then come over with menus and act as if you coming up to the counter never happened. It was so strange, plus the people who worked there weren't very nice. Imagine that cashier telling you that, as you were setting your to-go coffee cup on one of the tables just to put in sugar, she would have to pour your coffee into a mug if you were staying. Needless to say that cafe no longer exists.

Anyway, when our waitress brought us our food both egg dishes looked the same and ended up tasting similar even though Tim's had prickly pear cactus (which I was excited to try, but still don't know what it tastes like). The eggs came with some tortillas and a side of beans, which were unfortunately extremely bland. I was slightly disappointed even though I really liked the ambiance and the staff there. One good thing - the coffee, like the Marfa Book Company coffee shop, was from Big Bend Roasters.

Tim and I took a tour of La Mansana/The Block, where Donald Judd lived. Our tour guide was so knowledgeable, and it was even better than the tour at the Chinati Foundation. After the tour ended we stuck around taking pictures. Judd had a vegetable garden which was still being maintained, and our tour guide gave us some tomatoes and jalapenos (no, they were not cube shaped, but wouldn't it be cool if they were?).

We skipped lunch and then had trouble finding a place for dinner again. Pizza Foundation and the Blue Javelina were both closed for vacation. So we headed to Alpine (a neighboring town) to Reata, small chain restaurant whose Fort Worth location is very popular.

Apparently we went on the day that Reata had just opened after renovating their kitchen. Our waitress apologized to us after delivering the Reata wedge salad (iceberg lettuce - which I didn't know could taste so good - with peppers and an amazing pico dressing and usually blue cheese but they were out), that our fried onion rings were going to take a few more minutes. They had burnt them, and the dishwasher was acting as the kitchen expediter so food service wasn't running as smoothly. We weren't upset at all but we appreciated her concern.

After getting our onion rings, which came with a spicy ketchup, our waitress told us they had cooked the wrong fish dish for me, and thus it would take a little while longer to get our entrees. Mind you, all of this "waiting" we were doing didn't seem like waiting to us, and we understood that this was the first day back for everyone after the restaurant had been closed for renovation.

However, a few minutes later, a manager came to our table and apologized profusely for the mistakes and that he would give us a discount and a free dessert. Both Tim and I thought that we had heard wrong - discount and a free dessert. Surely it must be one or the other.

As we were finishing our chocolate bread pudding which was cooked in a corn husk (double yum!), we got our bill. To our surprise we had gotten a free dessert and a 20% discount. We spent several minutes trying to figure out what an appropriate tip would be and ended up leaving a huge tip of something like 35%. It felt strange - one, because we didn't think the restaurant didn't do anything wrong and two, because they overcompensated, we felt like we had to overcompensate with the tip.

Our last day at Marfa before we headed to the hot springs we went to Conchita's. They weren't serving breakfast anymore when we got there (and we were the only ones there), but one of the waiters said that she makes a really good bean burrito. So we decided to stay.

Our waiter was a husky guy in a football jersey with closely cropped hair. He was extremely polite and soft spoken, which I found incongruous and touching at the same time.

More people came in for lunch and I could see why this place was popular. I got a
chile releno torta, and it was one of the most delicious sandwiches I've ever had. It wasn't too cheesy, and you could really taste the pepper, the avocado and the tomato. The bread was so soft that the whole thing seemed to melt when I bit into it. And it was only $4.

All in all, I really enjoyed the food in Marfa. I was sad that a couple of the restaurants we wanted to try were closed, but there's always next time...

I am not including addresses and phone numbers for a couple of reasons: Marfa is small enough to easily find all of these places, plus I feel as if I have to get additional info, it will delay my posting further. You can find more information at each establishment's website and the general Marfa websites I have listed.


The Marfa Book Company's website says that it has closed its coffee and wine bar, but that is not true - it reopened next door. (432) 729-4546





Conchita's does not have a website: 300 W San Antonio St, (432) 729-4875


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A note from a reader...

I received this comment after the posting of the Sandwich Poll winner, and thought that I would share it with you because I thought it was hilarious:

Oh come on...these results are rigged by the veggie lobby. I want a recount. Reuben wins hands-down. First of all, its a Biblical name (ie its got serious Judeo-Christian history on its side....not to mention that in Hebrew it means: behold a son)! Plus its got all the four major food groups covered in spades. You got your grains: Rye bread, meat: corned-beef (which is a powerful combo of meat and veggie, ie "corned"), veggie: sauerkraut, and dairy: swiss cheese. My god, now that I think about it....its the perfect food package. That's it....Reubens for every meal: breakfast, lunch and dinner! I'm gonna make one right NOW!

Monday, September 17, 2007

And the winner is....

It's a tie! Grilled Cheese & Ploughman's each tied for first with 4 votes.

Ploughman's is not usually grilled - just some slices of cheddar cheese and Branston pickle. But i
n the spirit of the tie, I decided to make a cross between the two sandwiches - a Grilled Ploughman's.

I was able to pick up a jar of Branston pickle at the Key Food in Park Slope (they have a small section of English foodstuffs).

Branston pickle is a basically a bunch of vegetables with spices (Carrots, Cauliflower, Gherkins, Marrows, Onions, Rutabaga, Tomatoes, Sugar, Vinegar, Dates, Salt, Apple, Modified Starch, Lemon Juice, Colourant, Spices, Garlic Extract).

I cut some good ol' Cabot Extra Sharp cheddar cheese and spread some Branston pickle on a piece of Arnold Country White (whole grain) bread.

Then I melted some Breakstone's butter in a pan and fried up the sandwich.

It tasted...surprisingly good, kind of sweet and tangy, which was a good complement to the melted cheese. Tim and Gina were there to try it with me. They both liked it. Tim said that it tasted a bit like pickled walnuts. Gina liked it, too, but wasn't sure if she would like it if it wasn't grilled. I think that I will get to like Branston pickle as much as I like Marmite.

The full results of the Sandwich Poll are below. The Reuben, Fresh Mozzarella, Breakfast, Tuna Salad and Bahn Mi sandwiches tied for second with 3 votes each, and Peanut Butter & Banana came in third with 2 votes.

Congratulations to Grilled Cheese and Ploughman's!


3 (9%)
0 (0%)
Croque Madame/Monsieur
1 (3%)
Fresh Mozzarella
3 (9%)
Tuna Melt
1 (3%)
Chicken Salad
0 (0%)
Peanut Butter & Jelly
0 (0%)
0 (0%)
Peanut Butter & Banana
2 (6%)
Philly Cheesteak
0 (0%)
Grilled Cheese
4 (12%)
Breakfast (any combination of egg/cheese/sausage/bacon)
3 (9%)
Turkey Club
0 (0%)
Oyster Po' Boy
0 (0%)
Tuna Salad
3 (9%)
Sloppy Joe
0 (0%)
1 (3%)
Ploughman's (cheddar cheese & Branston pickle)
4 (12%)
1 (3%)
Bahn Mi
3 (9%)
0 (0%)
Egg Salad
1 (3%)
Veggie & Hummus
1 (3%)
Monte Crisco
0 (0%)
0 (0%)
Ham and Cheese
0 (0%)
0 (0%)
Meatball Sub
0 (0%)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

What we can learn from spaghetti sauce

I'm currently working on a long post, which will be up in the next few days, but thought I'd share this with you now.

I just discovered TED Talks, which is a conference that brings together people from the Technology, Entertainment, Design industries to give talks. I have listened to a couple already and they are all really interesting and engaging.

One that I found particularly interesting (and food-related) is Malcolm Gladwell's talk, "What we can learn from spaghetti sauce" which focuses on Howard Moskowitz, an experimental psychologist and food industry consultant who "reinvented spaghetti sauce." Gladwell talks about the food industry trying to find out what customers really like, and how Howard Moskowitz uncovers that secret.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

City Feed Sandwiches

Ever since moving to New York, I haven't found a favorite sandwich place that measures up to City Feed and Supply in Jamaica Plain, MA.

City Feed is a small grocery/take-out place on a corner of a residential street (it seems like I have a thing for the corner-residential establishment). What's great about the place (besides their sandwiches and coffee) is that even though it's small, you feel as if there are a lot of options for groceries (maybe it's good feng shui?). They have lots of healthy and organic foodstuffs plus a small produce section which features vegetables from local farmers. Plus they have scratch pads hanging off of the aisles for people to suggest additional items for the store to carry. And City Feed has a nice candy and chocolate section by the cash register.

But the best thing about City Feed are its sandwiches. I have tried several of the sandwiches, but my favorites are the #1, which is turkey, cheddar, lettuce, marinated red onion and this really great red pepper relish on a brioche roll, and the #9 "Farmer's Lunch," which is cheddar, green apple, pickled green tomato, lettuce, grain mustard and mayo on this gigantic-too-big-to-fit-in-your-mouth roll. Although this past weekend when I had the Farmer's Lunch, the roll was too much for me, and I have decided that in the future, I will request it on the brioche roll. In addition to these specially designed sandwiches, you can create your own. And for you non-meat eaters out there, City Feed's ingredients are very vegetarian and vegan friendly.

Sadly, the sandwich menu has changed, though; the #2 is gone (who really likes Tofurky deli slices anyway?), but City Feed is having people who come into the store vote for a new sandwich to replace it.

Which got me thinking, what is your favorite sandwich? So I added a poll (thanks for the suggestion, Dirk) so that you can vote for yours. I tried to make a fairly comprehensive list without it getting too ridiculously long, but if you don't see your favorite listed, submit a comment to this post about your favorite sandwich.

Which brings me to, while I was researching for different sandwiches to put on the poll, I found the site the Sandwich Project, a forum for people to submit their favorite sandwich recipes. You can search the archives and find a new sandwich to try!

Also, please note that I will be on vacation for the next week and a bit so I won't be posting, but I will be sure to report back any interesting food places I visit.

City Feed and Supply
66 Boylston Street
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Fish Tacos and The Salmon Dance

I first tried fish tacos out in San Diego 9 years ago. I was actually kind of disgusted by the idea, but my Californian friend said that they were really good, and they were.

So now back on the East coast I try to sample fish tacos whenever they are offered at a restaurant, the latest sampling taking place at Bonita in Fort Greene.

I was amazed at the crispiness of the batter and its contrast to the flakiness and softness of the fish meat inside. It was cooked perfectly, not too greasy and not at all overdone (I hate when fish is overcooked and then it's almost like chewing gum!)

Also of note is the red cabbage and chopped bits of radish on the top of the taco (very nice crunchy touch). The mayonnaise-y sauce was alright - I wished it was a bit saltier and spicier. But the tortillas were soft enough to fold the tacos in half easily, which is always a plus. Overall, this may be the best fish taco I've had yet (other than the ones in San Diego of course).

****Also, in other fish news, everyone should check out the Chemical Brothers new music video "The Salmon Dance" (click on "QT & Credits" underneath the video stills to view the video)

243 Dekalb Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11205
(718) 622-5300

also at

338 Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 384-9500


Wednesday, August 1, 2007

A Case of Graphic Design Gone Wrong

image courtesy of http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2163652270026551357BYisaG
I didn't have my camera and was lucky enough to find this on the web.

While walking in the West Village the other day, I looked up and saw this restaurant. I couldn't believe my eyes - a restaurant called Cummy? What would they serve there? Then, on the other hand, I was in the West Village.

It wasn't until I noticed that there was a Y within the C shape, that it was actually called Yummy. Ahhhh......so why the confusing C?

And while we're asking questions, why did they use the adjective "shawarmy?" Are they implying that their restaurant is like shaving meat off a skewer and putting it in a sandwich?


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Due Ristoranti Vini

My favorite Italian restaurant, Spirito di Vino, is tucked away in the alleyways of the Trastevere neighborhood in Rome. It is a family run restaurant - the owner runs the restaurant, the wife of the owner cooks the food, and their son - in typical young Italian guy attire of tight pants, dress shirt and fancy sunglasses - is the sommelier.

Not only was the food excellent (I distinctly remember a fabulous orange and cheese salad and their famous cold
crème brulée), Romeo, the owner, took us down to the wine cellar once and told us about the history of the restaurant. Part of the restaurant is actually an old synagogue, and during reconstruction, they found a statue which is now at the Vatican Museum.

Even more than the food I really enjoyed the familiarity and comfort of being there. Romeo remembered us the second time we went there and every time after that. He would recommend dishes to us and make sure we were having a good time. It was like going to an old
relative's house for dinner. Sprito di Vino was the only place in Rome that I ever ate all four courses (appetizer, pasta (primi), meat (secondi) and dessert).

I've been trying to find an equivalent here in New York City and nothing has come close until recently.

Locanda Vini e Olii is tucked away on the corner of a residential street in Brooklyn. You wouldn't go there unless you knew about it because, chances are, you wouldn't be passing by it on the street. Plus, you wouldn't know it was a restaurant since the old "Lewis Drugs" sign still adorns the front of the building.

The old pharmacy feel is still apparent inside of the restaurant - dark wood cabinets with vintage knickknacks, a step ladder leaning against the wall, the prescription counter sign sitting in front of the kitchen window. I felt transported to another time. I thought it was so great that, even though they renovated this old pharmacy into a restaurant, there were still traces of the building's history.

One of the owners greeted us and told us it would be 4 minutes for a table (so exact!) and we ended up having a nice little conversation before we sat down, and I thought that maybe he could be the Romeo of New York.

Their menu changes daily so the freshest ingredients can be used. Of note, the crostini appetizer (four with different toppings of tomato & basil, zucchini, mushroom, and chicken
pâté - which I didn't know I even liked!), the black pepper pici (thicker than spaghetti and slurpy like udon) with porcini mushrooms, and the crème caramel, which rivaled Spirito di Vino's crème brulée.

We also sampled a lemon cake with pistachio cream. The desserts (except for the
crème caramel) were placed on a small side table near one of the cabinets. When we were finished with our pasta, our waiter came over with the large dessert plates stacked on his forearms for us to choose from. How cool is that?

Though I enjoyed my meal at
Locanda Vini e Olii, Spirito di Vino is still my favorite Italian restaurant. But there's one thing about my experience here in New York that I never encountered in Rome.

In between our appetizers and our main meal, a group of five people walked in and who was bringing up the rear you ask?

Keri Russell and her newborn in a sling!

Being a huge fan of celebrity sightings, I was immediately star struck. I started whispering over and over again to my boyfriend
(while maintaining a casual smile to avoid looking like I noticed her), "Keri Russell just walked in," to which he replied "Who?"

"You know! From Felicity and she was just in that movie Waitress!"

We were both amazed that she had come all the way to this restaurant - to this particular part of Brooklyn, where if you walk one street West and one street South, you would be standing on the corner where Biggie Smalls used to sell crack.

Spirito Di Vino
Via dei Genovesi 31 A/B
Vicolo Dell'Atleta 13/15
00153 Roma - Trastevere Ripa
Tel: 065896689

Locanda Vini e Olii
129 Gates Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11238
Tel: (718) 622-9202

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Buffet Vacation

I'm back from the Carnival cruise with my family and managed not to gorge myself on all the different buffets. I've been going to buffets since I was a toddler. My parents think of it as a good deal since you can eat all you want for one fixed price (but how much lo mein, crab legs and fruit can you actually eat? and how good is the food actually?). Afterwards we would just walk away really full and sick to our stomachs, which doesn't seem like a good deal to me.

Apparently, Carnival's food is on the lower end of the spectrum of cruise food, but I actually enjoyed their food. Of note, the stir fry bar where you can pick your noodle (vermicelli or rice), vegetables (onions, peppers, mushrooms, Chinese mushrooms, celery, sprouts, etc.), meat (chicken, beef, squid, etc.) and sauce (black bean, Thai barbecue, Szechuan) and they fry it up for you. This concept is not new, but a relatively healthy alternative to the other options. I highly recommend the Thai barbecue sauce.

We could have sat in the main dining room for breakfast and lunch and ordered off a menu (though we opted for the faster option of the buffet), but we did go to the main dining room for dinner every night. One night I had a very nice entree of beef tenderloin with creamy peas and a side of cheesy mashed potatoes - definitely not healthy, but oh so good! If one was health or cholesterol conscious Carnival has a special SPA menu for such people. The last night I got escargot (good, but not the best I've had), and stuffed quail, which had a little too much stuffing but what meat there was was tender and flavorful.

Who would have thought that you could get escargot and quail? I wouldn't expect such seemingly exotic foods to be a part of Carnival's menu, especially when the whole trip cost around $900 dollars per person for room and board for 8 days. That's incredible considering you probably couldn't get a hotel room for that price if you traveled somewhere, let alone all of your meals (all you can eat!) and entertainment to boot.

Carnival gets you with other incidentals, though - you have to pay for beverages like soda and obviously alcoholic drinks, they overcharge for their shore excursions, they have a casino in which it seems the house never loses, they have special desserts and coffee that you have to pay for, etc. I guess you have to stay in business somehow.

That doesn't stop my parents from going on cruises because
they think it's an incredible deal. It's the same mentality as with the buffet. In the end you're left wondering if you've actually enjoyed it, or you enjoyed it because it was such a good deal.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Willie R Rocks! and other news...

I got an iced latte from Aroma today (which is as good, if not better, than their hot lattes) and Willie R spelled my name correctly! It is a joyous day.

Also of note, I'm going on vacation tomorrow for a week and may not be able to post. I will regale you with tales of cruise food when I return....

Monday, July 2, 2007


I can't remember the last time a movie has made me so happy as Ratatouille did. I think the last movie that had a similar effect was Amelie (cheesy, I know!)

The day after I saw the movie, I had an incredible urge to make, you guessed it, ratatouille. I checked the official Ratatouille website to see if they had a recipe. They didn't, although they do have a daily recipe download, but I wasn't about to make cheese fondue. So I got a recipe from epicurious
, but I really wanted to replicate what they did in the movie (to a certain extent anyway). I suppose it was my way of paying homage to Brad Bird and his genius.

So like Remy the rat, I decided to improvise. I ended up frying everything up until it was about 85-90% done, and then I stacked each vegetable neatly on the tomato paste I had spread on a pie plate. I shoved it in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes (pulling it out 10 minutes in to sprinkle basil on top).

Here are pictures of it before it went into the oven and after it came out.

(If you're wondering what that Paychex envelope is doing there, it's what I wrote the recipe on.)

And, was it good you ask? It was good, but it wasn't mindblowingly transformative that it took me back to a time in my childhood when I remembered having a similar dish.

I was a little disappointed. Just as I was a little disappointed that, although Ratatouille was the number one movie at the box office this weekend, its opening weekend sales were the lowest Pixar has seen since A Bug's Life. How can a movie that's so incredible be predicted to be the lowest total grossing Pixar movie ever? Similarly, how can a recipe that got 3 1/2 forks and a 92% would make it again rating on epicurious be just good and not incredible?

The difference between my ratatouille and Brad Bird's was that while I had high expectations for both, the movie exceeded my expectations enormously. So, the moral of this tale, is to GO WATCH THE MOVIE!

And if you do, I'll keep working on my ratatouille until it's as perfect as the movie.

Monday, June 25, 2007

A Sad Day for Udon

One of the best udon dishes I've had isn't from a Japanese restaurant. It's from a little market, Jubilee, on Broadway in Soho. Jubilee has groceries and a variety of prepared foods.

I was skeptical the first time I tried the udon bar, but I've had enough mediocre udon before that I thought I might be pleasantly surprised, which I was.

I ordered the shrimp tempura udon. The broth was extremely flavorful with lots of spices and vegetables (make sure to request it spicy - it gives it an extra kick). On top of the udon were two pieces of shrimp tempura, which soaked up the broth's flavor but didn't get too soggy (I'm sure you request them to be on the side). The udon noodles were also cooked nicely - nice and slippery to slurp up.

Since my first udon encounter I've had the dish 5 to 6 more times, but today is a sad day for udon.

Seems like Jubilee has shut down its udon bar for the summer, and will only start making udon again come the colder months.

I suppose since it's summer people don't order hot broth noodles. But what about those colder summer days? Wouldn't a bowl of udon be more comforting than a deli sandwich?

Maybe if we keep asking for the udon, they'll bring it back earlier. Until then, I'm looking forward to fall.

Jubilee Market
447 Broadway
New York, NY
(212) 966-6100
*Open 24 hours* (some prepared food sections close earlier)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

What's your name? Aroma

It's always surprising when you look at a place and think that you would never be caught dead in there, but then find out that it actually has something worth going in for.

This is what I found with Aroma, an espresso bar on the corner of Houston and Greene in New York. Looking in from the glass windows, Aroma resembles a modern European Internet cafe with its limited palette of red, white and black decor. The place looks like it is trying hard to impress - it almost looks too clean to be a good coffee place - it makes my skin itch.

So, one afternoon after lunch, I went with a couple of friends to get our daily latte. They said they found a new coffee shop to go to and that it was better than our regular spot. But, I protested, the atmosphere is so much better at Cafe Cafe!

But they said the coffee is better there. Also, they give you a free piece of chocolate with your purchase. I decided to give it try.

The latte I got (even though it was kind of expensive for a small - I mean $2.95! Come on!) was surprisingly good. Full bodied and rich without being too rich. You can still taste the espresso part (I found that many lattes taste too milky). I was impressed and I liked my small piece of chocolate. I guess it's a consolation for their prices.

This isn't to say that I like the place. There are a lot of things that bother me still. For example: they have different prices for items if you're staying there or taking it to go (which is good if you're taking it to go, but not if you're staying, but I guess I wouldn't be staying there ever); when you walk in the front door, you come right to the cashier counter and it feels awkward because you have nowhere to stand especially if there's already a line; the service is kind of mediocre; it feels really branded and chain-like and lacks that small coffee house feeling (maybe because it's an Israeli coffee mega chain!); AND here's the kicker - they've asked me for my name (to call out when when my latte was ready), and I spelled it out for them both times I've been there, and it's been spelled incorrectly both times on my receipt.

Which isn't a huge deal, except I feel chains do this thing where they insist on using names (instead of numbers) to connect with the customer, but when your employees aren't listening to the customers, then there's a problem.

This isn't going to prevent me going back for that good cup of latte and also to see when they will spell my name correctly. I'll keep you posted.

145 Greene St (actually on Houston)
New York, NY 10012
(212) 533-1094

Friday, June 8, 2007

Why Lunchbox?

"Do you want me to make you a lunchbox?" That's what my mom said after dinner every night. It sounds so strange. Shouldn't she say, "Do you want me to pack you a lunch?"

But, English is not my mom's first language.
And, that didn't stop me from enjoying leftovers the next day in my neatly packed Tupperware container.

My mom's weird sentence still tickles me to this day and her gesture of making me a lunchbox (even into my early 20's!) also made me feel very taken care of.

I hope that this blog will give you information about little treasures (be it restaurants or recipes) I have found.