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tazerowe

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Everything posted by tazerowe

  1. Help with Broccoli Rabe

    You can also use something strong to offset the bitterness. An all-time favorite quick dinner is a thick slice of country bread with BR, blanched and then sauteed with some garlic, chile flakes and olive oil. Put some very sharp cheddar cheese on top and then bake to melt. Eat it all with a knife and fork. The salty cheese cuts the BR and the bread serves as ballast.
  2. Best dish I know for eggplant is Moroccan eggplant salad. Essentially, take an eggplant and remove some or all of the peel (to taste), then cube. Put in a steamer with a few peeled garlic cloves and steam for 30 minutes or so, until both eggplant and garlic are very soft. Separately, cook some chopped tomatoes (I often use canned, but fresh work as well if peeled), cumin and olive oil until you have a somewhat thick sauce. Once the eggplant is cooked, roughly mash it and the garlic cloves in a bowl and mix in the tomato sauce, some lemon juice, more olive oil to taste and some chopped cilantro.
  3. Chili Oil -- Green?

    There was a Lanzhou noodle shop in NYC's Chinatown (Great Eastern was the name, maybe, on Forsythe) that used to serve a chile oil that had what appeared to be chopped fresh Thai bird chiles, mostly green but with a few turning red. It was out of this world, with that very distinct green chile flavor of the bird chile. Sadly, they changed hands and now serve red oil.
  4. I’ve just returned from a 10-day trip through northern Spain and wanted to add a few notes here. I am going from memory and apologize for various spelling and other mistakes. We spent 2 nights in each of Segovia, Leon, and Santiago, followed by a stop-over in Asturias and 3 nights in San Sebastian, with a rental car until we arrived at the last stop. We gambled a bit that the pace would be too fast, and I think we could have filled a bit more time along the way, but we wanted to see what we could see without taking the opposite risk that we ended up overstaying in one spot. Both strategies have merit. A few general comments: We have visited Spain a few times before but, other than San Sebastian, this was new territory for us. We found some useful information here and elsewhere, but generally it was tough to find too much current information out there. Thus, we often winged it. My wife and I had my 4-year old son in tow for this trip. This actually worked fine in most cases, but did change our strategies a bit. We took things easier than we might have, and were slightly more limited in our restaurant choices, although we did visit a number of nicer traditional spots (modern cuisine and multi-course tasting menus wouldn’t have worked). We also stayed on an interesting schedule, essentially having our son stay on US east coast time, sleeping late and staying up very late by his standards. We also spent the middle of the day taking it easy, often playing games at a café or the like. Spain is super kid friendly, and my son got very used to every restaurant and hotel spoiling him with candy. We noticed that a number of places offered very reasonable fixed menus at lunch, but often tried to hide this fact (at least to obvious tourists with limited Spanish) once you were inside. This was actually a two-edged sword. In some cases, it might seem you missed a real deal if you didn’t go with the menu, but in others I saw people eating rather simple, cheap and bland food while we ate very well, albeit for EUR 25 / person rather than EUR 12. Once we caught on to this, it became somewhat clearer with some thought when to chose the menu and when not. Specifics: Segovia: Given a red-eye flight, we took it very easy our first of two days in Segovia, with just tapas for both meals. We did spend quite a bit of time relaxing on the Plaza Mayor at the cathedral, which had lovely cafes. For our lunch the second day, we chose Jose Maria and enjoyed it. There isn’t much to add to the many descriptions: suckling pig and local beans were great, and we enjoyed a grilled vegetable platter to round things out. We did two orders of pork for 3 people, which was plenty. It is a bit of a zoo, but if you reserve for the 1:45 PM slot and push through the crowd waiting for second seating slots, ordering tapas, etc., the dinning rooms themselves are calm. Contrary to other comments, we didn’t feel excessively rushed, but we were probably out in 1.5 hours. For tapas in Segovia, what we saw mostly was very simple, like a piece of grilled cheese sandwich or a small piece of tortilla, and usually free with a drink. Actually, I seemed to notice that if you ordered a drink alone, you got free tapas, but if you ordered a drink and food, you might not. In many cases we just ducked in here or there, but we did like lively and friendly San Martin in the square of the same name. Out favorite place of all was La Tasquina, not far from the Plaza Mayor. The free tapas were fairly standard, but they offered a number of tostas in the EUR 5 range. These were rather large slices of good bread with interesting toppings – local smoked cheese with honey and vinegar, salted foie gras and apples. These were quite nice with much more of a chef’s touch than any of the local tapas we tried. Burgos: We chose to drive to Leon via Burgos and stopped at Casa Ojeda for the roast lamb. The experience was somewhat like Jose Maria, perhaps a bit more upscale. Lamb was excellent. The town seemed nice, with a beautiful cathedral, and probably deserved more of a visit. Leon: We stayed at the parador in Leon, which was lovely but is, as widely reported, quite a hike from the main part of town. Our second night, with a threat of rain, we almost gave in and stayed in the hotel, but we managed to convince ourselves to go out. Versus Segovia, Leon seemed to be slightly less of a café culture (e.g., no grand cafes on the plazas), but that might have been seasonal. The tapas scene was nice, with a large concentration in the Barrio Humedo but also the surrounding area. The rules around free tapas seemed similar to Segovia, and the selection remained simple, if slightly more creative than we found before. For some reason, potatoes dominated, in a blue cheese sauce at El Llar or fries with chorizo in a number of spots. Two spots that stood out were El Tizon for excellent meats and Camarote Madrid, a more modern place that served small cups of soup with each drink. We did try Zuloaga for lunch one of our afternoons. The place opens into a very nice old bar and then into a courtyard-like dining room. This was one place where the menu of the day seemed a good value, with 4-5 choices each for starter and main. My wife particularly enjoyed a cold seafood salad. My son’s pasta with seafood was a little peppery for him, but nice, and he inhaled a nice baked salmon. Ourense: We made a quick stop in Ourense en route to Santiago and it appeared to be a smaller town, but one that would be interesting for a day or two. There was a nice market with a number of stands selling empanada and the like, and an old center with a number of restaurants and bars. We had a quick bite of octopus at the Casa del Pulpo, which was great, and then on to lunch at Restaurante San Miguel. This was another decent, traditional meal, and I enjoyed a huge block of salt cod roasted in vegetables. (Another observation was the size of fish portions we were served in a number of places. Even as an American I was shocked to be given a 5 inch cube of fish!) Santiago de Campostela: Santiago boasted a lively tapas scene and a nice café culture driven by the University population. Tapas were generally free and each bar had its specialty. I think you could do well just walking the 3 main drags near the cathedral (Franco, Raina and Vilar.) and popping in anywhere, but I particularly enjoyed Orella, with the best pigs ears I’ve had, Gato Negro for its way-down-scale appeal and EUR 0.5 wine (which did taste like a EUR 0.5 wine), and Trafalgar for the spicy mussels. We had a slightly larger meal at Los Caricoles, where the staff was particularly nice, especially to our son who left with handfuls of gummy snails! We did lunch the second day at O Dezaseis. This was one place where I thought we did much better ordering a la carte rather than taking the fixed menu, although almost everyone else did so. I had a great grilled octopus and another huge piece of cod with a seafood sauce. The wine list was nice as well, with a larger selection of local mencia from regions I haven’t seen in New York. Santiago’s market was also very nice. There was a formal market and massive seafood displays, but also an open area where it appeared anyone could sell a few things from the garden. We bought all kinds of fun things – pardon pepper seeds to plant, a huge fresh cheese from an older lady who had a few to sell, and empanada with salt cod. I was tempted but passed on the homemade wine and spirits in random reused wine bottles. Asturias: We needed to split the trip from Santiago to San Sebastian, so we spent one night at Casa Julian in Niserias in Asturias. En route, we stopped for the famous fabada at La Maquina. While finding the place took some luck, this was well worth it. It was a small, simple place, but this is one of Spain’s food treasures. After, we stopped to see the sidra town of Villaviciosa (probably only worth it if you love cider) and tried, but missed, the dinosaur museum. On to Casa Julian. Niserias has maybe 3 buildings in a deep river gorge. The hotel is one, and a nice bar / cheese cave is directly across the street. We were seriously off season, so we were the only guests, but the staff was nice and served a good meal and nice wine. The fabes with clams were a lighter take on the fabada at lunch, and the hake in cider was fine. My wife had the steak with local cabrales cheese. The place is really beautiful (http://www.casajulian.com/, and check out the webcam), and I would love to get back and stay for a longer time in season. San Sebastian: In route to SS, we had great adventure by visiting the Sidreria Alorrenea for the traditional Basque sidra lunch. This definitely isn’t for everyone, but I thought it was a can’t-miss experience. The place (and the whole town) was packed with crowds. Alorrenea was essentially two big halls with rows of 6-foot round barrels surrounded by large picnic tables to hold 10-12 people. The crowd was a very interesting mix of locals, probably 60 percent young and somewhat rowdy, 20 percent groups of much older men, and 20 percent families (we were a rounding error). More than half the conversations were in Basque. The room was deafeningly loud, with people milling around as the staff opened up taps one at a time. Fast moving lines snaked by, with each person grabbing a couple of inches of cider from the constant stream, then moving out of the way. The food was a fixed menu (salt cod omelet, baked salt cod with peppers, a huge rare steak and cheese) and was actually excellent, far better than it needed to be. Later, the waitresses brought out instruments and roamed the room playing. We stayed for 4 hours and had a blast. No need to say as much about SS itself, as everyone knows about the great tapas and the 3-stars. We three, of course, skipped the 3-stars, but ate like kings on tapas. I note that Saturday was a bit of a zoo in the old quarter, and wasn’t helped by the rugby crowd in town for a big match. It was actually a bit tough with a kid that night, but outside of the old quarter it was stroller city outside a number of the bars. Sunday and Monday nights some places did close, but the old quarter was still great and much easier to navigate. SS was one place we could go a little earlier (7-8pm) as necessary and still find things ready to go. For more proper meals, we went to Bodegon Alejandro and Rekondo. Bodegon Alejandro was excellent. I had the squid ink rice with tomato and the hake throats pil-pil. My wife enjoyed the crab salad. They were also quite nice to my son, bringing him a plate of jamon and French fries, his heaven. Rekondo was a short cab ride away and was certainly a very nice restaurant. I enjoyed my hake tail with garlic and seafood soup, but the real reason to come here was the wine list. I ignored almost everything outside of red Rioja and it still took 15 minutes to comprehend it all. For some of the larger wineries you literally had 2+ pages, maybe 30 vintages each of various reservas and grand reservas. I went for the lay-up of a 1976 Tondonia Gran Reserva (EUR 55). While I enjoyed the wine and food, I had mixed feelings about the whole experience and the value. The food and service was more elegant than many places we went, but prices were higher, which offset the wine bargains. So, maybe I personally got better value from Bodegon Alejandro and a bottle of Txakoli. I think the right way to tackle this place would be with a larger group so that you could pick at the older white Riojas and still try some of the cheap (EUR 20 or so) reservas from the 1980s, which would be a unique experience. All in, a great trip.
  5. We saw a little smoking inside, but not much. Very pleasant suprise.
  6. I guess it is up to you. You certainly don't need (or want) a car in San Sebastian or any of the other towns. We just used it to get from place to place. That did give us flexibility in Asturias or other spots to have a look about. Any the driving was fairly easy, with good roads and signage (except in Santiago, where the road to the Parador was closed and you had to know you were to pass through all the do not enter signs to get there via the alternative route!) I haven't tried buses or trains.
  7. It is certainly not for everyone, and was at times bit like a frat party, but if my description alone didn't send you running, than I highly recommend it. Lots of fun and great food, and certainly more of a part of local culture than a spectacle for tourists. Edit: I should mention that the main season is about January - early April, and I understand a number of these places close after. There are some open, but I can't say the experience is exactly the same as in season. You might want to do some research.
  8. Probably more than you want to know, but: We sort of fell into it by process of elimination and some random guesses. We had the time (and energy) for a Europe trip with my son, but we obvioulsy needed someplace kid friendly. To me, that suggested Italy or Spain. Looked at available flights using miles, which pushed us to Spain. We had done Barcelona to Rioja to San Sebastain before and also Madrid to Seville, so we eliminated Madrid and Barca, but I LOVED San Sebastian and really wanted to go back (I still do and would go again today...or move there). So, San Sebastian became anchor, and it made more sense to fly into Madrid than Barca since we had done that drive before. We then considered staying in a smaller loop rather than the long drive west, but my wife latched on to Santiago and Galicia did appeal (I love octopus!). Then it was a connect the dots game. Segovia was an easy day out of Madrid to recover from flights. Leon fit with getting to Santiago and the Parador was appealing (and running great deals if you prepaid). The hardest part was Asturias, where we considered Gijon or Oviedo but liked the idea of something smaller for a break from the towns. So, to summarize, completely random, but it worked.
  9. Brindle Room

    OK, I actually stopped by here last night for drinks and snacks. The wine list is small but reasonable in choice and price. My wife's Sancerre was perhaps more international in style than I like, but was tasty, and the Jura rose sparkler was interesting. The brandade was rich and creamy, like Balthazar's rather than the gratin style at Ten Bells. The potted shrimp were nice, with a flavorful sauce to soak the bread. Nothing earth-shattering, but a useful add to the area.
  10. What time and what day of the week? Otto is the first thing that comes to mind. You get points for a celebrity chef plus very decent but safe food, all within a block of the park. It gets busy later, and can be loud, but is very kid-friendly.
  11. One Breakfast in NYC

    Barney Greengrass is a great call. I would also throw in Shopsin's.
  12. Staten Island?

    From looking on a map, it appears you could walk from the Ferry to some of the places recommended on the blog. Does that work?
  13. I went Friday PM, arriving at about 9:45. The wait was about a half-hour for two. I wanted to like this place, and there are certainly are things to like, but in the end the food just wasn't particularly good. I doubt I'd go back. The details: The lamb rillettes were interesting, smoother than traditional pork rillettes, but with a nice flavor. The chickpeas with sausage were also excellent. These were our first two items, so I was expecting very good things to come. We didn't stay at such a high level. The pizza with bacon came off like a warmed pita with some toppings. Harmless, but not interesting. The tuna in a jar was similar - just a small serving of acceptable tuna tartare, harmless. The cod fritters came off as a bit fishy. We ordered two chicken dishes based on the sides: ramp waffles and socca, neither of which had much character. None of this was really bad, but nothing would make you pause, either. Service was good, and the small wine list is well priced, especially by the bottle. We also ended up in the $60/head range. That pushes you close to the Momofuku Saam level. While this was certainly less of a headache that fighting the crowds at Momofuku, the food just isn't on the same planet.
  14. Apiary

    I'm glad to hear this view - I just didn't have a guess given the weather.
  15. Apiary

    I went last night and enjoyed my meal. The sweetbreads with romanesco were the highlight. I would put this place in the same category as Hearth, but maybe my meal here last night was a little better than my last Hearth experience from the food perspective. Monday BYO is a great deal, even though the wine list isn't unreasonable by NYC standards. My only concern is that the place was fairly empty - maybe 30 covers for the night as a whole. Hard to say if that was economy-driven or just a Monday after a major snow storm. From other comments, it seems they were doing ok, so I hope they stick around.
  16. All About Country Ham

    I'm not an expert, but I am not sure any American country hams were traditionally eaten raw. European hams are cured for raw consumption, but they use significantly less salt and rely on air drying. The climate in US ham country is too humid, so these are heavily salted and smoked to preserve them. As a result, then need the cooking to balance the salt. Now, recently, some of the better US producers have noticed the similarity between the products and the fact that some consumers went ahead and ate the country hams raw - there was an article in the NY Times maybe 10 years ago noticing the trend. Many of these, like Edwards (made about 10 miles from your Ivor ham), produce special hams for raw consumption. These are excellent, but my impression is that they are significantly less salty and rely on modern air conditioning, etc. to create a more European curing environment. Your Felts, while a fine country ham, is a traditional product and I would not expect it to be designed for raw consumptions. I have no idea if raw would be safe or would taste good. My gut tells me it is more likely safe that tasty. However, poached, sliced and on biscuits, it will be very nice.
  17. All About Country Ham

    I grew up about 10 miles from there. Honestly, most people wouldn't consider this to be a ham for raw consumption. Locals would soak it for several days to reduce the salt, then boil it before slicing.
  18. Sun Light Bakery Corp.

    Probably a mix of Chinkiang vinegar and soy. And thanks for the tip on the weekend cart...not surprising that they'd set up there. ←
  19. Sun Light Bakery Corp.

    There is a cart on the weekends that does these same crepe on Elizabeth and maybe Hester, on the northeast corner in front of the old Dynasty grocery store (it just reopened as something else). They are really, really nice, much better than the dim sum variety. I wish I knew exactly what the sauce was. It is thin and has the appearance of soy sauce, but is nowhere near as salty and heavy. I don't get much sesame flavor, either, just a richness that goes nice with the crepe and hot sauce.
  20. Have you tried SOS Chef on Ave B near 6th Street? They have a cooler in the back with great mushrooms. They almost always have chanterelles and cepes, and the more common oysters, king oysters, etc. plus seasonal things like elfs and yellow foot. They mainly do wholesale to restaurants, but I stop by all the time for 1/4 ot 1/2 lb of something for dinner. Prices are about average retail, similar to WF or Garden of Eden (my #2 choice), but I find the quality MUCH higher.
  21. Garlic scapes, shoots, greens

    Ok, to revive an old topic. I always seem to have the same problem with garlic scapes - what I get is fiberous and inedible - like eating the top of a stalk of lemongrass! I've tried different sizes and over multiple years, and cooked them in a variety of forms. Sometimes a portion of what I cook is ok, but I've never had a dish that didn't involve picking out tons of little twigs. If I had to guess, there might be a need to disgard some portion of the lower stalk - like mature asaragus? If so, where do you stop?
  22. Kampuchea Noodle Bar

    Based on the positive review, I also tried the place this weekend, in this case for lunch with a 10-month old in tow. The place was empty when we arrived around 12:30 and only had a couple of tables taken when we left. The service was good, and they were fine with the little one. We tried 3 dishes: Snow pea salad had shredded snow peas and pea sprouts with crispy Chinese sausage with a nice lighly spicy dressing. This was good and elegant, although not very substantial by its nature. Bershire pork from the grill was sweet and charred from the honey marinade and came with the mixed pickles. Excellent meat, with good texture for a quick-cooked version of pork leg. The prawn crepe was a little dry on its own, but was nice with the spicy fish sauce in a lettuce leaf. I'm sure you could do as well in a good Vietnamese place, but it was solid. All-in, the tab was reasonable, $43 with a watermelon juice, including tax and tip. I'd say the place is a lot like Spice Market, food-wise (and I like the food there for the most part), without the hype or hassle. There is plenty more I'd like to try, so I'll go back soon.
  23. Sripraphai 2007-present

    Yep, this is exactly why I was looking for dishes that naturally shouldn't have any heat, so we can order those plus the usuals and then ask for everything "thai spicy" (while stomping on my wife's foot so she can't show panic). So, generally the menu stars are accurate? Pork and greens sound excellent. I don't need many things, but last time every single dish was spicy, so I have to hit at least a couple of things beyond just sticky rice.
  24. Sripraphai 2007-present

    OK, I think I am heading out to Sripraphai this weekend for lunch. I haven't been in a while, so I appreciate all the recommendations above. However, I need further help: What do I order for the spice wimps in the group. I need a few things with little if any heat - assume "mild" or maybe "medium" in a standard NYC Thai-American place. Suggestions? Also, I think I understand that they now serve beer. Is this correct?
  25. Fresh Masa

    This is a request that circulates on the net from time to time, but usually without result. There was a taco place on 117th street (I think) that sold fresh masa on the side, but they stopped as demand didn't justfiy it. I know of no other place. That said, the Mexican community continues to grow, so there is hope.
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