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zora

eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Posts posted by zora


  1. I was just there in May. I had pretty nice Italian at Osteria La Rucola up in the "north beach" section--north of Av Constituyentes--around C 24, maybe? Good arugula and octopus salad.

    On Av 5 one block north of Constituyentes, there's a stylish little Argie cafe called Carmencita--that looked tasty, but I didn't have a chance to eat there. Hipster outside, but a really friendly down-to-earth woman in the kitchen.

    Also ate at Yaxche following recommendations on this board--I did really like it, though the whole tableside flambe theater always puts me off (in fact, I saw one poor waiter totally flub it at a neighboring table--turned his back for a few seconds too long, and had to toss the scorched mess and start over). BUT what I had was good (though just now I'm blanking on what it actually was...not a good sign), and if you're interested to see high-end Yucatecan, it's a good place to start because the waiters are happy to explain everything.

    There's a great breakfast/lunch place a ways north called La Cueva del Chango--by about C 36? Where the Shangri-La Caribe resort is... Groovy garden, and they roast their own coffee.

    Also, if you're mobile at all (actually, there's a super-frequent bus up the highway, and then you can grab a cab into town proper), you should head up to Puerto Morelos, which has a ridiculously huge number of good restaurants for being such a tiny town. John Gray's Kitchen is quite posh (friendly American chef who helped open the Ritz-Carlton in Cancun), and he changes the menu daily--all kinds of tasty things...I remember something about duck and chipotle. Or head down to Tulum--on the main drag in town is a sophisticated (but tiny) Mexican place called Cetli, in L'Hotelito. The chef here trained at the big culinary academy in Mexico City, and she's great.

    And shrimp tacos must be eaten, every chance you get. Oasis is good, and so is Floresta, out on the highway about a block north of Av Juarez (there's another Oasis out there too). Just deep-fried shrimp, mayo and some pico de gallo. Goes great with Coke. I had to drive through Playa about five times on my trip--I think I was able to work it out so it was lunchtime at Floresta four of those times.


  2. Well, what goes wrong with my fatteh is that I keep insisting on heating the whole thing, out of some perhaps misremembered image of the dish in this little personal casserole that was too hot to touch, and the yogurt sort of bubbly. So it's my own fault. Basically, all the flavors just blend together too much the way I've been doing it.

    And I was using my ancient dry chickpeas because I was too lazy to go to the store, knowing full well that the experts at Goya are much better at cooking them than I ever am. (Though some kind fellow eGulleter did advise me that adding baking soda helps soften them--does anyone know why this is? All that info is probably over on that giant dried bean thread, though...)

    Anyhoo, I have canned chickpeas, good super-thick yogurt and my mortar and pestle at the ready, AND good advice. Will try it all again anon.

    Thanks.


  3. Thanks for all the leads on this--I've been talking a lot with a Turkish chef here in NYC, and it's such an awesome (as in overwhelming, but great) feeling to know you're on the brink of this _huge_ and fascinating food lore.

    Paula, I'm so glad someone is talking with home economists on the Syrian border! And that the home economists are so on the ball and writing it all down. I read your F&W article and kept thinking, Ack--for how many dishes this guy is bringing out to a larger audience, there must be so many that people are letting go...

    It's funny trying to learn more about Turkish stuff--it's the first cuisine I've gotten into that I can't even begin to guess what's going on when I read a cookbook. Well, actually, I can guess at about a quarter of the nouns, as they're Arabic, but it's still daunting.


  4. So I just march into an Italian store and ask for a mother? Is there some particular Italian name? This is all so good to know...

    I would've known it before if I'd actually gotten around to reading all of this book I checked out of the library:

    Lost Arts: Making Vinegar...[etc.]

    The part on olives was useful...can't vouch for the vinegar part.


  5. Wow--thanks for the link. That book looks excellent--truly a motivation to get me back to working on my Arabic! I will order it posthaste.

    Did another fatte trial last night. Stupidly did not follow your instructions precisely. I'll do it again with the remaining chickpeas and let you know. I think I'll also break down and buy Goya canned chickpeas, because I realized my pantry ones are about four years old. That can't help.


  6. Thanks, FoodMan! Not too late at all--in fact, just yesterday I cooked up some chickpeas, thinking I would wing it. Now I'll try your technique.

    I hadn't tried mixing the garlic and lemon in with the yogurt--I'd been mixing it with the chickpeas instead...not very satisfying.

    So you don't typically heat the yogurt up, or bake the whole thing? I kind of remember having it very hot, but maybe it was just ambient summer heat I'm thinking of.

    Fatteh...Fattoush... Looking in my Arabic dictionary, and of course there's a verb, fatta, for crumbling up...It's all coming together.

    What's your giant Lebanese cookbook? I read Arabic too...


  7. Any tips on making this? Smithy's query about Lebanese food in Cairo reminded me how much I liked this dish, which I often ate at a place in Mohandiseen.

    I recently tried to recreate it just from memory, and failed. Then I read some recipes, but all seemed nothing like what I'd eaten: little to no lemon and garlic, which I remember in abundance, and one didn't even call for baking anything... But I used to get it in a hot ramekin, with some crispy bits of pita, some chewy, and a layer of garlicky yogurt on top. In my experiments, my pita got all mushy and the yogurt completely dissolved.

    Also, I've seen fattet makdus on some Syrian menus, which makes me think there's a whole category of fatteh dishes, with fattet hummus being the most common...true?

    Many thanks in advance for grandmotherly tips...


  8. Saveur, April 2004

    First: Is slow-cooked brisket a health hazard? The National Cattlemen's Beef Association sort of implies it; Colman Andrews asserts no.

    Fare:

    Danny, James and Me: Maida Heatter recalls a visit from Danny Kaye. She soothed his anger over her knife storage setup with James Beard's onion sandwiches.

    Recipe: Onion sandwiches

    Slick Business: A suave Roman film director gets into artisanal olive oil. By Camas Davis

    Capping It Off: a brief history of the French chef's toque. By JoAnn Milivojevic

    Drinking the Blues: Curacao can transcend its cheesy reputation: try the bourbon-based man o' war cocktail. By Carrie Gaska

    Recipe: Man o' war

    Tangerine Dream: Pixie tangerines are in season starting late March. Look for them in Ojai and around. By Margo True

    On the Side: a new map of Wisconsin highlights cheesemakers…Swiss cheese expert Fredy Girardet will be on PBS with Charlie Trotter in April. Fergus Henderson's Nose to Tail Eating is finally available in the US…Polish fishermen get a pike drunk on champagne.

    Agenda: Helsinki beer festival, Jello art show, anniversary of Hostess Twinkies, Pelican Point Coconut Festival (Bahamas), birthday of 19th-century cookbook pioneer Eliza Acton, La Fete de Coquilles St-Jacques in Laguiy-de-la-Mer, Placer Country Strawberry Festival in Roseville CA, Colleton County Rice Festival in Waterboro, SC

    One Good Bottle: The Gatekeeper McClaren Vale Shiraz 2001 ($34): "gentlemanly"

    Book Review: From Curries to Kebabs: Recipes from the Indian Spice Trail, by Madhur Jaffrey. John Thorne praises this cookbook for its history, although the recipes have occasional flaws.

    Recipe: Carrot curry with shallots and chiles

    Essay: The Scarlet Letter

    Colman Andrews ruminates on the value of the Atkins fad.

    Reporter: Our Daily Corn Bread

    The National Cornbread Festival in South Pittsburg, Tennessee, inspires all varieties, and reminiscence from author Reagan Walker.

    Recipe: Basic Corn Bread

    Recipe: Jalapeno-Bacon Corn Bread Muffins

    Cellar: Bourbon Rises Again

    A bourbon revival in the US sees new bottles on bar shelves:

    Tasting notes: from Basil Hayden's ($30) "bright and engaging" 8-year-old to the "intriguing" Woodford Reserve ($30)

    Source: Ed and Dan Bowyer of Bowyer Farms produce excellent prunes—and still call them that. By Gretchen VanEsselstyn

    Classic: Shanghai soup dumplings: history and technique. By Margo True

    Recipe: Xiao Long Bao (Shanghai soup dumplings)

    The Incredible Island of Food and Wine: The tiny Australian state of Tasmania is fast becoming one of the world's top culinary regions. A visit with cheesemaker Jon Healey, fisherman Peter Rockliff, and others who make the most of this fertile island. By Chloe Osborne

    Recipes: Steamed Mussels with Saffron, White Wine and Cream

    Asparagus Frittata

    Ocean Trout and Shaved Fennel Salad

    Scallops in the Shell with a Leek, Pine Nut and Sourdough Gratin

    Quail "Saltimbocca" with Asparagus and Almond Skordalia

    Seared Lamb with Black Olive Butter and Bean, Snow Pea and Halloumi Cheese Salad

    "Mum's" Pavlova

    Sidebar: Tasmania in America: look for lapin cherries, Island Olive Grove oil, Tasmanian Honey Co.'s leatherwood honey, Ashgrove cheddar, King Island Dairy's blue cheese and more

    Sidebar: Tasmania is home to 137 wineries. Available in the US: Meadowbank pinot noir, Grey Sands pinot gris, and others.

    Guide: hotels and restaurants in Tasmania

    Multicultural Meat: When brisket is cooked long and slow, it turns from tough to sweet and tender; no wonder its appeal crosses so many borders. A survey of brisket dishes in Czech, German, Texan, and Jewish traditions. By Kelly Alexander

    Recipes: Uncle Kermit's Barbecued Cabbage

    Texas-Style Smoked Brisket

    Lil Pachter's Jewish-Style Braised Brisket

    Kasha Varnishkas

    Jim Goode's BBQ Brisket

    Wine of the Sun: Transformed by heat into a potent, silky marvel, madeira is saturated with its extraordinary past. (Another story that starts with "Because of my French culinary training, I didn't appreciate…" Not sure why this drives me up a wall, but it seems to crop up an awful lot in all food writing….) By Megan Wetherall

    Recipe: Madeiran Acorda (bread and egg soup)

    Espetada (beef skewers)

    Borrego a Vinhado (lamb braised in wine)

    Poncha (Madeiran honey punch)

    Reid's Palaca Madeira Cake

    Sidebar: Madeiran cuisine is simple, robust, with espetada (grilled beef skewers) being emblematic.

    Sidebar: Authentic fare can be found in mountain towns: rabbit stew, soup with egg and garlic broth, stewed fava beans.

    Tasting Notes: Ten recommended madeiras, from $15 Blandy's 5-year-old Alvada to D'Oliveira Verdelho 1850 ($525).

    Guide: hotels, restaurants and tasting houses in Madeira

    Through the Doors of Lüchow's: For over a century, this Manhattan landmark offered rich, glorious food and impeccable hospitality to the most famous people in the world. Personal reminiscence and history by Miles Chapin

    Recipes: Chicken Fricassée Berliner Art (chicken and lobster in a cream sauce)

    Schnitzel Holstein (veal cutlets with fried eggs)

    Schlemmerschnitte (steak tartare with caviar)

    Herring in Dill Sauce

    Pfannkuchen (German pancakes)

    In the Saveur Kitchen: Madeiran molasses (mel de cana) and bolos de caco (cakes that accompany beef skewers)…versatile skordalia, a creamy Greek nut-and-garlic sauce…how to trim a brisket…electric smokers…probe oven thermometers are good for long cooking.

    Recipes: Bolos de Mel (Madeiran 'honey' cakes)

    Bolos de Caco (Madeiran 'tile' cakes)

    Almond Skordalia

    Jersey-Style Smoked Brisket

    Kitchen: Barbara and Bob Gordon, chef-owners of Boba in Toronto blend old and new in their kitchen, with open shelves and "drawer" dishwashers

    Moment: Vietnamese officers sip tea at a military training camp, 1991


  9. Playing a little catch-up with my newly revived subscription, so here's the March issue. April will be along shortly.

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    Saveur

    March 2004, no. 73

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    First: Editor's Letter

    For Saveur's tenth anniversary: return of Real-Life Kitchen column, new sidebar in Fare section, full-page essay, and nine issues per year, rather than eight; new issue is devoted to wine.

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    Fare:

    Vegetarian cafes in Cuba--a response to meat scarcity post-USSR meltdown--cater to locals and inspire pride: everything sold is a product of local agriculture. By Richard Schweid

    No Rooz (Persian New Year), Tehran, 1978: highlight is kebab kubideh. By Ramin Ganeshram

    Recipe: Kebab Kubideh (smoky ground lamb and beef)

    Brewpubs in Seoul are booming, thanks to a change in Korean law. By Laura Shin

    Saint Joseph's Day, March 19, at Rizzo's Malabar Inn near Philly, calls for an elaborate altar made of bread to honor the patron saint of carpenters, confectioners, and fighters against communism. Also served: "Saint Joseph's pants," deep-fried pastries filled with spiced and honey-sweetened mashed chickpeas. By Marlene Parrish

    Recipe: Saint Joseph's Pants

    The coffee break as we know it was started by Norwegian women working in tobacco fields in Stoughton, Wisconsin, in the 1870s, demanding breaks to check on kids and meals. By Iris Brooks

    New video game Restaurant Empire simulates restaurant ownership. By Neil Plakcy

    Agenda:

    Mediterranean Food Festival, Malta; Second Annual Old West Chuck Wagon Cook-off, Austin, Texas; Pasifika Festival, Auckland: Polynesian village cultural exchange; March 14: Anniversary of the shopping cart, invented in 1936 in OKC; Chocolate Moose Festival, cabins at Murie Ranch in Grand Teton National Park are stocked with sweet treats; Foire au Boudin: Mortagne-au-Perche, France; Rainbow and Ramps, Cherokee, NC; March 28: birthday of Frederick Pabst, father of PBR

    One Good Bottle: Maison Louis Jadot Château de Bellevue, Morgon 2002 ($16); 2001 is even better, but hard to find

    On the side:

    Study shows Armagnac may help prevent blood clots. US baby-name trend: brand names like Skyy, Del Monte, Courvoisier. Octodog gadget cuts hot dogs into eight pieces [yes, there's ordering info in the back of the mag]. American Idol winner Ruben Studdard opening a restaurant in Birmingham.

    Book Review:

    Classic Conran: Plain, Simple and Satisfying Food, by Terence and Vicki Conran (Conran Octopus, 2004)

    Homey recipes such as poached turbot in beurre blanc and rabbit terrine . . . even if the Conrans have a lifestyle involving châteaux and champagne. Recipes aren't too elaborate, but require some cooking skills; tips and some humor round out a solid book.

    Recipe: Ham Saupiquet (ham cooked in red wine with cream and juniper berries)

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    Cellar

    By John Winthrop Haeger

    Grüner veltliner is newly respected: grassy, mineral, perfume-driven. Most important plantings are in northeastern Austria; best vineyards in Danube Valley: Wachau (the beefiest), Kamptal, Kremstal. Grüners can be a little viscous and either refreshingly lean or finishing long and rich. They "almost never express wod; thus they provide welcome relief from chard-ennui." [Ah, wine humor.]

    Tasting notes: 12 grüner veltliners, from Domäne Wachau Terrasen 2002 ($14; main blend from Wachau's cooperative, mossy nose, crisp, light) to Bründlmayer Lamm 2001 ($46; slightly truffle-scented, ripe, rich, satiny midpalate, peppery finish)

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    Essay

    What Kids Knead

    Children's cookbooks are everywhere today, but they're teaching curious lessons

    Kelly Alexander notes that 7,500-plus cookbooks cater to kids, but don't seem to actually teach them how to cook, or why they would want to cook. Kids should learn the thrill of transforming simple ingredients into something remarkably different: french toast, for instance. Also, they should know that cooking is fun, not a chore. Her favorite book for this: Betty Crocker's Cook Book for Boys and Girls, from 1957, reissued by Wiley.

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    Drink

    Should This Wine Exist?

    Aren't the vienyards too far north? Isn't the grape a minor one? Not according to the makers of the Loire Valley's best reds

    By John Winthrop Haeger

    The Chinon, Bourgueil and St-Nicolas appellations--primarily cabernet franc grapes--are remarkable, given all the factors working against them.

    Tasting Notes: Couly-Dutheil Les Gravières d'Amador Abbé de Turpenay 2002 ($10) is fruity in the nose, light in body, fading fast on the palate. Charles Joguet Clos de la Dioterie 2000 ($32) has a big generous bouquet, an underpinning of tannin, and a faint mineral character.

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    Source

    South River Miso is handmade by Christian and Gaella Elwell in western Massachusetts. By Suki Casanave

    --------------

    Classic

    Scottish shortbread. By Camas Davis

    Recipe: Shortbread, using a blend of cake flour and rice flour

    --------------

    Eat Drink Mother Daughter: Enjoying the abundant, humble cooking of modern Tainan, in southern Taiwan, two women savor the taste of what endures

    By Mei Chin

    Tainan is more prosperous now than in author's mom's time, but food is still earthy: all parts of pig, silvery milkfish (shi-mu), pa-hsin-a (a rich sauce made of inexpensive ingredients like pork belly, dried shrimp, dried shiitakes and shallots). Mom gets teary-eyed while eating pigs' feet. Gorgeous pics of seafood markets and meals (by Jun Takagi).

    Recipes:

    O-a-chian (scrambled eggs with oysters)

    Hsia-chuan (shrimp wrapped in caul fat)

    Hai-hsian Chou (seafood and rice soup)

    Tan-tzu Mian (Tainan-style noodles--brought from Fukien by immigrants in 17th century)

    Ang-chim-bi-kou (crab with sticky rice)

    Pa-hsin-a (pork and shrimp sauce--served with crab and sticky rice)

    Ng-kim-chien-hi-to (fried milkfish stuffed with spicy paste made from the liver)

    Guide lists hotels, restaurants and sites in Tainan

    Nick Peirano Feeds the Oregon Wine Country: In his modest restaurant in McMinnville, this third-generation Italian-American has served up hearty fare and championed local vintners for more than 25 years

    By David Sarasohn

    Peirano opened his resto in 1977, before Oregon wine scene took off; it became a meeting place and gossip hub for the region. His food is simple, not architectural, and some menu items are tailored to show off pinot noir and pinot gris: béchamel lasagne rather than red-sauce, for instance.

    Recipes:

    Seared Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus with balsamic vinegar syrup

    Minestrone--heavy on carrots, celery, with a big dollop of pesto

    Steamed Manila Clams with a Dijon-Caper Sauce

    Rabbit Braised in Oregon Pinot Gris and Rosemary with Gorgonzola Polenta

    Dungeness Crab and Pine Nut Lasagne

    Chocolate Brandy Hazelnut Torte ("like a Belgian chocolatier's take on a Twix bar")

    Catalan Contemporary: Modern cooking in Spain's most creative region [sorry, Basques] is innovative, exciting, and sometimes deliciously shocking--and it didn't start with El Bulli

    Colman Andrews goes to town on his favorite topic, tracing history of nouvelle Catalan pre-Adrià. People like Josep Mercader, Ramon Cabau, Lluis Cruanyas, and Jean Luc Figueras stripped down traditional Catalan dishes like es niu ("the nest": wild birds, salt-cod tripe, stockfish, cuttlefish, pork meatballs, potatoes, rabbit, and eggs, all in a caramelized onion sauce) to their elemental flavors and parts. Mar i muntanya dishes are another standard, mixing seafood and meat. Current great chefs and restos: Carles Gaige at Can Gaige, Santi Santamaria and Àngels Serra at Can Fabes, Figueras.

    Sidebar: Ferran Adrià and his brother often dine at Julius resto, in Barceloneta, where fish is cooked to order.

    Recipes:

    Tatin de Cua de Bou (oxtail tatin)

    Gelat de Crema Catalana (burnt cream ice cream)

    Farcellets de Col Farcits de Cargols, Calamars i Salsa de Mar i Muntanya (cabbage stuffed with snails, with squid and 'sea and mountain' sauce)

    Llobarro, Cruixentt di Botifarra Negra, Eriçons de Mar, i Salsa de Pa Torrat (sea bass with blood sausage, sea urchins, and toasted bread sauce)

    Canelons amb una Crema de Tofona (cannelloni with truffle cream)

    Caviar amb Cansalada (pork belly with caviar--though usually boneless pork neck is used in Catalunya)

    Bacallà Confitat amb Salsa d'All i Rossinyols (salt cod with garlic cream and chanterelles)

    Guide: hotels and restos in Barcelona and around

    The Real Rosarita: My grandparents created a Mexican food empire based on assembly-line tamales and tortillas, but at home, everything was made by hand, with Nana's flair

    Susan Guerrero tells, with a touch of magical realism, how the Rosarita brand of tamales and other frozen foods was developed in Mesa, Arizona. The Guerrero family's roots were in Sonora, Mexico--inspiration for most of the home cooking, and the original Rosita (later Rosarita) tamales with red sauce.

    Sidebar: Enchilada means only 'dipped in chile' ('chile'd'), so many different forms: flat, stacked, rolled, topped with mole or green chile?

    Recipes:

    Yellow Hot Relish (caribe chiles and garlic with vinegar)

    Fried Pork Chops (thin-sliced, preferably fried in lard)

    Basic Red Chile Sauce

    Red Chile Tamales (stuffed with black olives)

    Capirotada (bread pudding, traditional Lenten dish: bread, colby cheese, butter baked with raisins and sweet syrup infused with cilantro and scallions)

    Sonoran Enchiladas (in this case, small thick tortillas fried, dipped in sauce and topped with scallions, cheese, olives, lettuce)

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    In the Saveur Kitchen

    Allioli of Catalonia is emulsion of garlic and olive oil--no egg. Ferran Adrià makes it into a foam using a nitrous oxide cream whipper--which can be used on any liquid food with enough protein.

    Recipe: Anxoves a la Romana amb Maionesa Calenta (deep-fried fresh anchovies with warm mayonnaise)

    Catalan fish stock, the base for many sauces, usually uses whole fish, which is then used in other dishes.

    Recipe: "Fumet" de Peix i Mariscos (fish and shellfish stock--but this uses just bones, enriched with shrimp shells and tomatoes)

    Biscotti-like almond cookies (carquinyolis) are common in Catalan bakeries; can be served with ice cream.

    Recipe: Carquinyolis

    Real-life Kitchen of Gail Monaghan, cookbook writer who lives in lower Manhattan. Oodles of storage space, lots of wood, clever two-inch-ledge against walls above counters holds spices, oils

    Iranians prepare rice three ways: steamed with salt and butter (kateh), layered with meats and fruits (polow), and chelo-style, steamed to make crisp golden crust, called tah dig.

    Recipe: Chelo (Persian steamed rice with a golden crust)

    In the Saveur library:

    The Professional Chef by the Culinary Institute of America (Wiley, 2002): "great all-around culinary how-to and reference book" [i beg to differ--it's only great if you already know how to cook . . . and then you probably don't need it.]

    Tamales 101 by Alice Guadalupe Tapp (Ten Speed Press, 2002): step-by-step diagrams, good recipes

    --------------

    Moment

    Secretaries working at the Topps Chewing Gum factory in Brooklyn blowing bubbles while they work (1960)


  10. Agnadi is at the southeast corner of Ditmars and 19th St. Take the N or W to Ditmars, walk west on Ditmars (at the corner of Ditmars and 31st St., look for the Triboro and Hellgate bridges--go that way) and you'll hit it. If you're looking for the number in the phone book, it might also be under Agnandi. Don't know how they spell it in English.

    Totally worth the trip--so much more than Uncle George's! (Though they are the only ones who do spit-roast lamb every night...but you can pretty much always do better on the food, and the price-to-quality ratio.)


  11. Omigod, I'm so jealous! Just two weeks ago, I made a toast with friends: "Next year, in Libya!" Basically no chance I'll get to go any sooner than that...

    I kinda doubt there's much baby food--socialist developing countries are sometimes a little thin in the consumer goods. Can you take a Happy Baby food grinder or something? Get the kid started on hummus early?

    Throughout the Middle East, though, I've noticed people are extremely helpful to parents, and love dealing with kids--so I'm sure anywhere you ask for special food, you'll get it.


  12. Thanks, Pan!

    And it's not _that_ far to Astoria. I live at the Ditmars stop (farther than the KC), and I used to work in the East Village, and that didn't kill me. (OK, I felt like killing myself when I got up at 6 am, but...it was 6 am.)

    Anyway, you could make a night of it--go to Ali's (or his brother's, Mombar, if Ali's is packed out), then have a little tea and shisha at one of the coffeehouses on Steinway. Or just cut straight to boozing, at the Irish Rover.


  13. I've lived in Astoria for more than five years, and my favorite place right now is Agnadi, on Astoria Park (corner of Ditmars and 19th St.).

    There's a whole section of the menu devoted to "Specialties from Constantinople," so there's a lot of stuff you don't see on standard Greek menus (same goes for S'Agapo to some extent, but more variety here). Try the Cypriot olive pie (they do their own phyllo--more rustic-style), and the bekremeze--stewed meat cubes in wine, with a little clove.

    Truth be told, I have never gotten past mezes, because there are so many and they're so good (and I think the place is called a mezeria, so why would you order anything else?). Oh, once we did order just some plain old lamb chops, and they were flawless.

    Very cozy in winter--they have a stove in the dining room--and lovely in summer, with sidewalk seats. Great pics of 40s and 50s Greek film stars.

    Uncle George's--it's fine at 4 am, but any other time you can do better.


  14. Gah, I love this--I post a random question, turn my back for a few days...and come back to find a trove of info! (Although some is sad--alas, no Creme Yvette!) Thanks so much--I will investigate the leads.

    Trillium, I'd love to hear how your at-home experiment turns out...


  15. I'm very happy with my Fluevog Angels for kitchen work. I bought them just for street wear, but when I started working in restos, they were perfect: very comfy padded insole, and a huge rubber outsole, which also happens to be very resistant to all kinds of kitchen gunk.

    The only drawback is that they're pricey and so cool-looking you kind of regret getting them filthy. I've actually written to Fluevog asking them to make a special line of Angel slip-ons for kitchen wear...alas, no positive response yet.


  16. I think its main assets are its cheapness and that it has a higher smoke point than regular olive oil, so you can fry with it. I know people who have one can of EVOO, and one can of pomace for different cooking tasks.

    But because the pomace has pretty much no discernible olive flavor, you could just as well be using veg oil or corn oil. So I don't think it's really worth buying unless you're some kind of Greek nationalist.


  17. Thanks for the detailed report, Verjuice! It all sounds great. I definitely want to check out Hac. Xcanatun for food next time I go...

    Funny, the Mexico/New Mexico route--I'm on the same trajectory, having grown up in NM, and now writing about there and Mexico both. (After, incidentally, spending a lot of time in the Mid East...and _loving_ the thick yogurt.)


  18. Thanks for that book tip, Sleepy Dragon--I just sent the guy an email...I hope it's still available.

    I haven't noticed any logical correlation between injera and the rest of the dishes in any given collection of Ethiopian recipes. As I said, the Frug has great recipes _except_ for the injera, but then some African cookbook I had was generally crap, but went into a lot of detail about teff and everything (and how it was impossible to get here--in the 80s, when the book was published). I remember that recipe actually turned out pretty well (substituting buckwheat for the teff, incidentally)--but now the cookbook is lost, and I can't remember the name.

    I'd guess that a better way of judging a collection would be by the spiced butter and berbere mix recipes, as they're the basis for everything--if they're weak everything else will be too. Good spiced butter really pulls it all together--especially on that lentil dish...


  19. Marthapook, I do go down regularly--for work (travel writing), but it's not bad work, for sure!

    Re: renting a car, you can find good Internet deals (I got a super-cheapie for $22/day last trip) from international companies online--it's often cheaper to pick up the car in the hotel zone, rather than at the airport.

    But you don't really need a car--buses up and down the coast are very frequent and quite comfortable (it's only an hour from Cancun to Playa del Carmen). And it's very easy and cheap to get around Cancun by bus.

    The only reason you might want a car is for the long trip to Chichen, for instance, so you could stop off in towns on the way back, which you can't do very easily with public transport. (Although, frankly, the ruins at Ek-Balam, just north of Valladolid, are closer, really cool, and not as mobbed--then you have some time to hang out in Valladolid, and maybe go swimming in the cenotes near there.)

    On the coast, the fantasy of driving along and popping off at deserted beaches is pretty much foiled--everything's so built up. It only gets worth having a car if you go as far south as Tulum (two hours from Cancun). But you can keep yourself pretty entertained closer to Cancun--just inland from Puerto Morelos (half an hour south), for instance, are some neat cenotes that no one visits yet, and it's easy to take a bus to the highway junction for Pto M, then arrange a cab inland from there (or down to the town of Pto M, which is a pleasant, not very developed place)--just as cheap as a car, and you get to meet some Mexicans.

    Just realized this has nothing to do with food (wait--good tacos in Puerto Morelos!), so you can PM me, marthapook, if you want any other info.


  20. Hey, I'll be down there again at the same time--probably going on April 19! I'll keep an eye out for someone journaling and chowing down!

    I second lleechef's suggestion to go to Isla Mujeres for the day. There are a lot more casual, beachy, inexpensive places to eat there. Just north of the ferry dock is Cockteleria Picus, which is really just a hut and some chairs on the beach serving shrimp cocktail and ceviche--lunch only, though. Also, La Lomita, a little southwest of the square if I'm remembering right (it's kind of up a hill, hence the name) is another lunch place that residents go to with their own Tupperware containers to load up on whatever's on the menu that day. Also, for inexpensive, bohemian beach-French, Le Bistro Francais is nice--I had some fish there just browned in butter with a little fennel--great!

    Oh, and one more pretty good thing in the Cancun hotel zone is the Mexican fast-food place Checandole, in the Flamingo mall. Right next to McD's.

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