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eG Foodblog: Nina C. - Around the World in Just One Borough


Nina C.
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A quick recap of dinner, then I'm off to bed.

Who knows where this recipe came from, but it's part of the regular arsenal. Like a Broadway star, it's a triple threat: easy to make, relatively healthy, full of flavor.

The main ingredients:

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pork roast, horseradish, mustard, bread crumbs, cabbage, red onion, balsamic vinegar, s n' p.

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Breadcrumbs are toasted, and the pork is browned. The breadcrumbs get mixed with a couple tablespoons each of mustard and horseradish, and then spread all over the pork. Mr. Piggy takes a nice warm nap at 400 degrees until he reaches 140 degrees. Meanwhile, I cut up half the cabbage and the onion and wilt it in a pan before adding balsamic, water, and brown sugar. I leave it alone except for a few stirs until the liquid is gone and the cabbage is the texture I want.

Tonight, after I got the cabbage going, I tossed some green beans with olive oil, salt and pepper, and stuck them in a separate pan next to the pork. When they were done, they got sprinkled with lemon zest and juice and a handful of toasted pecans.

Voila! Dinner:

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Nina Callaway

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After dinner, we hung out in the kitchen chatting while I pulled together a quick dessert. There's something to be said for doing a lot of baking and having useful ingredients on hand. But, I didn't want to serve pie, when I'd be sending her home with five of them.

We had some frozen yogurt, so I made a quick chocolate ganache and spiced pecans.

I never make the pecans the same way twice but generally I melt some butter with brown sugar, toss in the pecans, some cayenne pepper, cinnamon and ginger.

You know how to make ganache - heat heavy cream, add chopped chocolate (in this case Scharffen Berger 70%), whisk.

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Some good coffee, lingering conversation, and many laughs. It was a good night.

Edited by Nina C. (log)

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Nina Callaway

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Welcome back! Love the photo-montage of Jackson making love to the olive. But just be glad he didn't start playing hockey-puck with it, the way various of my kitties over the years would do with their favorite small beloved food-items. Days, weeks, or months later, I'd find the abandoned item mouldering behind a couch. Ewwwww. :laugh:

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Good morning!

I've been to the gym, and have had breakfast:

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I'm not usually a big egg eater, but I majorly overestimated the number of eggs I'd need for Pieathon so I'm trying to work my way through them. Inspired by last night's dinner, I added a couple of dollops of horseradish to the eggs. And of course, my favorite turkey bacon and a slice of challah.

Right now I'm rying to make a quick plan for the week.

I still want to take you to several Brooklyn neighborhoods. I've got tons of pictures of Greenpoint, and Atlantic Avenue, as well as Cheese Trail pictures.

I need to do a shift at my food coop tomorrow morning, and it would make sense to then go through Sunset Park for lunch.

Then I have people coming over for dinner on Friday night - perhaps you all would like to help me decide what to make? I keep thinking about the harissa roasted fish I had a few weeks ago, but I wonder if that would be too spicy for every palate. So maybe a chicken with preserved lemons, and harissa and/or charmoula on the side? Something like this? I don't have a tagine, but I do have a dutch oven. And I have a kooky idea for dessert that's not Moroccan at all. Think Elvis.

In between I need to get some work done!

Edited by Nina C. (log)

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Nina Callaway

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Is anyone else's brain having a hard time with Nina's interrupted blog - i.e. confusing it with Stephanie's? I keep looking at Nina's food and saying "Pasta, why is she eating pasta? What's that bread doing beside the eggs? Oh, wait, it's Stephanie who is doing low carb." :laugh:

I am so enjoying the restart! The pies are gorgeous! You probably have tried this, but to prevent shrinkage when blind baking, I put an empty pie tin on top of the dough and press down firmly. I then put in my specially saved dried beans and bake.

Your family book is just a treasure :wub: . I have just a few recipes written by hand by family and I have them saved in my printed out recipes from my webpage in page protectors. I love kitchen 'ephemira'!

I love those glistening pork slices! And I need to make red cabbage soon - it's one of our favorites!

Kim

Edited by Kim Shook (log)
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3 pm is my witching hour. When I work from home, I sit in my pajamas, a cat curled under my arm (or on top of my wrists), one behind my head, my music is on, and no. one. bothers. me.

This also means that no one ever says "I'm going out to get lunch. You want anything?" Every day I have great plans for accomplishments in the hours of time that lie in front of me, and then suddenly its 3 pm. I'm starving, I'm behind in my work, I'm still in my pajamas, and I have no idea what to eat.

Today was no exception. So, behold, leftover open-faced sandwich. Challah bread and chicken from Sunday night, with artichoke cream, spinach, and grape tomatoes.

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After a while I got tired of all that soft bread, picked the rest of the topping off, and then fetched some hummus and Armenian cracker bread.

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Nina Callaway

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Is anyone else's brain having a hard time with Nina's interrupted blog - i.e. confusing it with Stephanie's?  I keep looking at Nina's food and saying "Pasta, why is she eating pasta?  What' that bread doing beside the eggs?  Oh, wait, it's Stephanie who is doing low carb." :laugh:

 

I am so enjoying the restart!  The pies are gorgeous!  You probably have tried this, but to prevent shrinkage when blind baking, I put an empty pie tin on top of the dough and press down firmly.  I then put in my specially saved dried beans and bake. 

Your family book is just a treasure :wub: .  I have just a few recipes written by hand by family and I have them saved in my printed out recipes from my webpage in page protectors.  I love kitchen 'ephemira'!

I love those glistening pork slices!  And I need to make red cabbage soon - it's one of our favorites!

Kim

Please! Whatever you do, don't take my carbs away!

Thanks for the blind baking tip. I have no plans to do any blind baking any time soon, but if I do, I'll be sure to use that.

I think my family cookbook is one of the few things I'd run for in a (god forbid) fire. The men in my family are investment banker types - no nonsense, efficient, straight forward. But I keep one foot firmly planted in the land of the dreamers, grabbing onto whatever family ephemera I can find. I don't have much family still alive, so I must resort to running my finger over my mother's handwriting or reproducing her shepherd's pie.

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Nina Callaway

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"We've got a new sushi place around the corner from our apartment!" my friend excitedly tells me. "I don't even like sushi that much, but Mark says we've got to patronize it so it'll attract other restaurants to Greenpoint." I want to protest, to say that her neighborhood is full of interesting and good restaurants that she's barely noticed, much less tried. But I don't. It won't do any good - the hearty meats of Polish cooking hold little appeal for her, a vegetarian with dreams of a svelte figure. And though that's of course not all that's served in Polish restaurants, non-English menus leave her with a fear of unseen meat lurking in every dish.

The northern Brooklyn neighborhood of Greenpoint has been a Polish stronghold since the turn of 20th century. Certainly there are many other ethnicities in this polyglot area, but continued and concentrated Polish immigration has rejuvenated the population. There are now an estimated 38,000 Poles in this area, one of the largest enclaves in the US.

When my friend, who I'll call Mary, first moved to this neighborhood, it wasn't uncommon to have to point to anything you wanted in a store or restaurant. Waiters didn't speak English; they didn't need to. Now young white hipsters, priced out of neighboring Williamsburg, are increasingly moving in, and the language of the streets is changing. I live in fear of favorite little spots disappearing, leaving me wandering the streets in search of a decent kielbasa or babka, only able to find mediocre sushi on all sides.

But ironically enough, fish is one of the best reasons to come to Greenpoint.

If you're in New York on a Friday morning with friends coming for brunch on the weekend, make your way to Acme Smoked Fish. As the Lee brothers told us in the NY Times, Acme provides the fish for most of the purveyors in the city, as well as many restaurants. Over 50,000 pounds of fish are smoked daily in their cavernous warehouse. At Citarella, Barney Greengrass, or Russ and Daughters, amongst others, you'll pay a pretty penny, but on Friday mornings from 8 am to 1 pm you can buy the same fish for much less when Acme is open to the public.

Get there early to have the best selection. On the morning I took these pictures, a long conference call and slow trains left me running breathlessly to get there before the 1 pm closing bell. The table was relatively bare, but the friendly salespeople were still happy to let me sample the goods and waste their time pondering what I needed.

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Edited by Nina C. (log)

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Nina Callaway

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After you buy your fish, wrap it well and make your way over to the kielbasa section of town, aka the intersection of Manhattan and Nassau Avenues.

Along the way, you might want to stop at the candy store, Stodyce Wedel, at the corner of Manhattan and Meserole Avenues.

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If you don't speak Polish or Czech, you'll have to take a bit of a risk here, deciphering pictures and ingredient lists to figure out what's in a candy. The saleslady will help you, but beware of a sullen sigh, likely caused by having to help too many intrigued visitors interpret endless packages.

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Or just enjoy the scenery of old-fashioned shops and bundled up people

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Stop at one of the many corner markets, each with bountiful displays of fruit outside.

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Only in New York: gallery_37101_5335_24521.jpg

If you didn't already grab horseradish, cream cheese, farmer cheese, red onion, lemon or any other condiments you'll need, get them now, before we get to the sausages. The distracting smell of yummy meaty goodness might just make you forget something.

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Nina Callaway

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I still haven't decided which place deserves the honor of being crowned "Best Greenpoint Butcher" but I'm certainly having fun doing the background research. Currently I have two favorites.

Sikorski

603 Manhattan Avenue (between Nassau and Driggs)

When you don't speak the language, sometimes you want a place that's a little less crowded, whose pace is slower, giving you time to poke and ponder, ask too many questions and receive more than a few tasty samples. Sikorski is that place.

Every other time I've been in here, each hook above the counter has had a fat sausage hanging from it. Today, a forlorn sight greeted me:

gallery_37101_5335_39651.jpg (Apologies for the blurriness. The empty rack must have startled me.)

They sell everything from kielbasa to stuffed cabbage, freshly smoked and roasted pork, to "regular" cold cuts.

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Since I was buying for a brunch, I just got a kielbasa, and half a long-skinny sausage. (After I determine which butcher is the best, the next phase of my research involves learning all the names. I know, its ignorant of me to not know them already.) gallery_37101_5335_7658.jpg

The skinny one is slightly drier, with a stronger flavor of garlic, caraway and spice. Its size makes it perfect for nibbling on the train. gallery_37101_5335_11592.jpg

Now I know why all the old men smell like garlic.

Remember those intoxicating smells I warned you about? They prevented me from remembering how much I paid. But for meats that could easily feed 6-8 people, it was hardly much. Less than $10, certainly.

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Nina Callaway

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Before you venture on in search of more meat, take a detour a few steps down Manhattan Avenue to the New Warsaw Bakery. (585 Manhattan Ave.)

Pause a minute to drink in the thick heady air, then buy fresh rye bread that's straight out of the oven. It's often still warm and you can take it straight home for a bit of pocket change. But I giggle with childish glee when watching the vibrating automatic slicer do its thing:

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(A cute little old lady sells it to you, but she didn't want to have her picture taken!)

If you don't happen to find them open, most of the nearby stores and butchers sell their bread. But when you can get so much joy (and stand in that warm bready air), why not buy it at the source?

Edited by Nina C. (log)

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Nina Callaway

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Don't leave Greenpoint without visiting Steve's Meat Market, if only for the sight of cute men (far too young for you) wearing old-fashioned hats.

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Their selection is huge, and the meats are top-rate but it is often too crowded to think in here. Each one of the five men behind the counter is helping a different customer, a few others are waiting to be served, and everyone (including the strange girl taking pictures) is jostling to get a view of the goods.

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I always have to get some of their fresh roasted bacon. It's less smoky than traditional bacon, but you can slice it and eat it like a cold cut, unlike seared pork belly. My words are failing me (probably at least in part because it's almost 8 and I haven't even started to think about dinner yet), but trust me that you need to try some.

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Here's my total meat haul - the big kielbasa and the long skinny sausage I bought at Sikorski, and the fresh bacon and different long skinny sausage I bought at Steve's.

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Nina Callaway

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I worry I've posted so many pictures that I've stunned you all into silence! I know I've got to go find some dinner. I wish I had those brilliant sausages to munch on now, but unfortunately, all of those pictures were from the first week of my foodblog, and all got consumed at the brunch I threw.

So dinner, and then I'll come back and answer any questions you might have.

I also need thoughts from you all on whether you'd rather see

Sunset Park (Mexican and Chinese)

Brighton Beach (Russian and Pan Asian)

Bensonhurst (Italian)

And, I'm looking for suggestions on what to make for dinner on Friday night! So far I'm thinking a heavily spiced chicken or pork dish that's comforting and rich.

Edited by Nina C. (log)

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Nina Callaway

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I vote for whichever area has the most charcuterie.

Wow, a smoked fish place and so many charcutiers in one place. I wonder if there are other cities in the US that have that -- maybe San Francisco?

I was in Brooklyn last month and I think stumbled into the same Polish area you were in. I stopped into a deli to buy a bottle of water and was so envious of all the kielbasa they had.

How about pastrami? Is this something you can find house-made at a lot of places in New York?

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I vote for whichever area has the most charcuterie.

Wow, a smoked fish place and so many charcutiers in one place. I wonder if there are other cities in the US that have that -- maybe San Francisco?

I was in Brooklyn last month and I think stumbled into the same Polish area you were in. I stopped into a deli to buy a bottle of water and was so envious of all the kielbasa they had.

How about pastrami? Is this something you can find house-made at a lot of places in New York?

There are at least 3 other meat markets I know of in Greenpoint. What I wouldn't give for one of them to be closer to me!

For Charcuterie, you'd probably want me to go to Bay Ridge which is not a bad idea. I'll see if that makes more sense than Bensonhurst.

I don't think too many people are making pastrami these days. Ed Levine wrote an article about the pastrami hunt a few years ago. Let me see if I can track it down.

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Nina Callaway

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3 pm is my witching hour. When I work from home, I sit in my pajamas,  a cat curled under my arm (or on top of my wrists), one behind my head, my music is on, and no. one. bothers. me.

This also means that no one ever says "I'm going out to get lunch. You want anything?" Every day I have great plans for accomplishments in the hours of time that lie in front of me, and then suddenly its 3 pm. I'm starving, I'm behind in my work, I'm still in my pajamas, and I have no idea what to eat.

Oh god. You just described what too many of my days are like.

(Sez she who is way behind schedule, but is nonetheless futzing around on eGullet instead of logging billable hours. Ah, the joys of freelancing ... )

By the way, I am coveting all that smoked fish. The meats and breads and sausages and everything else looks great too, but it's the fish that are crying out to me. Looked like there was a box of smoked whitefish chubs among the photos--the sight brought tears to my eyes. Ah, my people's soulfood. :wub:

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I vote for whichever area has the most charcuterie.

Wow, a smoked fish place and so many charcutiers in one place. I wonder if there are other cities in the US that have that -- maybe San Francisco?

I was in Brooklyn last month and I think stumbled into the same Polish area you were in. I stopped into a deli to buy a bottle of water and was so envious of all the kielbasa they had.

How about pastrami? Is this something you can find house-made at a lot of places in New York?

id say Chicago.. but maybe thats just because ive spent more time sampling there than elsewhere.

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:wub::wub::wub: POLISH FOOD :wub::wub::wub: .....

:wub::wub::wub: *REAL* kielbasa :wub::wub::wub:.....

:wub::wub::wub: Zupa and smoked fish and rye bread and fresh bacon OH MY !!! :wub::wub::wub:

Thank you Nina, I had NO idea there was such a strong Polish enclave in Brooklyn. I only knew from South Chicago. One more reason to love New York....

--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

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I vote for whichever area has the most charcuterie.

Wow, a smoked fish place and so many charcutiers in one place. I wonder if there are other cities in the US that have that -- maybe San Francisco?

I don't know -- something tells me that you won't find this on such a scale in San Fran, for the immigrant streams into that city came largely from either the other side of the Pacific or the North American interior and are thus light on Central Europeans and Jews.

What I do know is that the next time I show off Philly in a foodblog, I must include Port Richmond in my meanderings for purposes of comparison.

3 pm is my witching hour. When I work from home, I sit in my pajamas,  a cat curled under my arm (or on top of my wrists), one behind my head, my music is on, and no. one. bothers. me.

This also means that no one ever says "I'm going out to get lunch. You want anything?" Every day I have great plans for accomplishments in the hours of time that lie in front of me, and then suddenly its 3 pm. I'm starving, I'm behind in my work, I'm still in my pajamas, and I have no idea what to eat.

Oh god. You just described what too many of my days are like.

(Sez she who is way behind schedule, but is nonetheless futzing around on eGullet instead of logging billable hours. Ah, the joys of freelancing ... )

Why I Can Never Support Myself Entirely On Freelancing, Reason #251. (My freelance work will return from center stage to the sidelines as of Monday, Dec. 3. It looks as if I will be able to work in both at my new employer, a supply-chain management software firm located in the heart of the charming Bucks County borough of Yardley.)

Guess what I'm not doing right now?

I'll close with a somewhat relevant tangent, even though Nina hasn't really hit this ethnic group yet: Author Calvin Trillin, The New Yorker's resident forever Kansas Citian, penned a wonderful memoir of growing up in our mutual hometown for a special Father's Day issue the mag produced in the early 1990s. One of the things he touched on was growing up Jewish in an overwhelmingly gentile city (while the city has a non-trivial Jewish population -- the neighborhood where I grew up went from mostly Jewish to mostly black -- it struck me growing up that in Kansas City, Jews were regarded more as Christians who attended church on the wrong day of the week) and the code words that businesses used as signals to their intended customers:

"In Kansas City, 'New York' was a code phrase for 'Jewish' just as 'Lincoln' was a code phrase for 'black.'"

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Good morning!

No breakfast for me as I stayed up too late working, and now I just don't have any appetite. But I'm planning to go do a makeup shift at my food coop, and then have some foodie adventures afterwards.

So right now I'm trying to finish some work, get my act together, make a grocery list, and get out of the house!

But first, dinner from last night, quickly. Posting all those Greenpoint pictures took me so long that I was starving, but I still wanted to show you something interesting.

As I mentioned before, the next neighborhood to the east is Bedford-Stuyvesant, aka Bed-Stuy. The area had a terrible reputation as a place of crime and race riots, but like many places in NY the reputation only tells a fraction of the story. The other side is friendly faces, true neighborhoods with a sense of community, gorgeous brownstones, and sizeable African and West Indian immigrant communities. Crime has decreased significantly, and gentrification is on the rise.

I wish I could have shown you more of Bed-Stuy, especially the more attractive parts, but my stomach was growling, and I was on a mission to get home before Dancing with the Stars ended. (Truth in foodblogs, right?)

From my house, I walked east along Fulton, a gritty commercial street currently being torn to pieces for new water mains and other infrastructure. This is also where you'll find many of the steam table spots, which serve a variety of generally tasty West Indian and African foods. Almost all of them are Halal (meaning they follow Islamic dietary laws about how meats are slaughtered, and don't sell pork, certain seafood or certain birds)

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The corner stores sell huge amounts of spices, along with more typical convenience foods:

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(I realize now I should have had included something for scale. Each of the bags pictured is around a pound - further down were 2 and 3 lb bags but I got yelled at for taking pictures before I could snap them.)

to cook with your huge amounts of meat:

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But I was going a little bit farther, to Trinidad Ali's roti shop.

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This mini-chain is fast and friendly, and serves all the important food groups:

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by which I mean doubles, pholourie, and rotis.

Like many of my food adventures, I'm still on the learning path. I don't profess to know everything about this food, but I do know what tastes good!

Doubles are a classic Trinidadian street food. A piece of pillowy fried bread is folded around a thick curried chickpea filling.

Pholourie are more fried dough - this time a split pea dough rolled into little balls, fried, and then covered in a sweet mango chutney.

and Roti - a giant burrito-like sandwich with a whole wheat bread wrapped around a curried filling.

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(roti in the front, doubles in the back. A little bag of pholourie is peeking in from the side. sadly I didn't get a good picture of pholourie - they disappeared too fast!)

Inside of roti:

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Inside of doubles:

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I made several ordering mistakes tonight. Before I've had the boneless chicken curry roti, but tonight I thought, "It's for eGullet! They'll want to see goat! Goat tastes gooooood." I forgot about how many bones goat has. Which meant I basically had to deconstruct the whole roti, and stop every five seconds to extract a piece of bone. The goat was earthy and rich, as you expect goat to be, but I think I'll go back to chicken. Or just order two doubles, because the combination of soft pillowy bread and slightly spicy filling is really hard to beat. Even with a goat.

Then I didn't tear into it as soon as it was presented to me. But I needed to take pictures, and it seemed easier to do that at home than the restaurant. All the food suffered for it.

But it was still hearty and satisfying, and convenient to eat while watching:

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Edited by Nina C. (log)

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Nina Callaway

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I worry I've posted so many pictures that I've stunned you all into silence! I know I've got to go find some dinner. I wish I had those brilliant sausages to munch on now, but unfortunately, all of those pictures were from the first week of my foodblog, and all got consumed at the brunch I threw.

So dinner, and then I'll come back and answer any questions you might have.

I also need thoughts from you all on whether you'd rather see

Sunset Park (Mexican and Chinese)

Brighton Beach (Russian and Pan Asian)

Bensonhurst (Italian)

And, I'm looking for suggestions on what to make for dinner on Friday night! So far I'm thinking a heavily spiced chicken or pork dish that's comforting and rich.

All or any of these would be interesting, but from a personal point of view, I would love to return to my old stomping grounds of Park Slope (where I grew up and lived until the early to mid 80's and Carroll Gardens, especially what remains of the Italian shops and restaurants like Esposito's Pork Store, Court Pastry and Ferdinando's. :smile:

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

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- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

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      We were in Sanjiang Dong Autonomous County, where 57% of the inhabitants are Dong.
       
      The Dong people (also known as the Kam) are noted for their tea, love of glutinous rice and their carpentry and architecture. And their hospitality. They tend to live at the foot of mountains, unlike the Miao who live in the mid-levels.
       
      By the time we arrived, it was lunch time, but first we had to have a sip of the local tea. This lady did the preparation duty.
       

       

       
      This was what we call black tea, but the Chinese more sensibly call 'red tea'. There is something special about drinking tea when you can see the bush it grew on just outside the window!
       
      Then into lunch:
       

       

      Chicken Soup
       

      The ubiquitous Egg and Tomato
       

      Dried fish with soy beans and chilli peppers. Delicious.
       

      Stir fried lotus root
       

      Daikon Radish
       

      Rice Paddy Fish Deep Fried in Camellia Oil - wonderful with a smoky flavour, but they are not smoked.
       

      Out of Focus Corn and mixed vegetable
       

      Fried Beans
       

      Steamed Pumpkin
       

      Chicken
       

      Beef with Bitter Melon
       

      Glutinous (Sticky) Rice
       

      Oranges
       

      The juiciest pomelo ever. The area is known for the quality of its pomelos.
       
      After lunch we headed out to explore the tea plantation.
       

       

       

       

       
      Interspersed with the tea plants are these camellia trees, the seeds of which are used to make the Dong people's preferred cooking oil.
       

       
      As we climbed the terraces we could hear singing and then came across this group of women. They are the tea pickers. It isn't tea picking time, but they came out in their traditional costumes to welcome us with their call and response music. They do often sing when picking. They were clearly enjoying themselves.
       

       
      And here they are:
       
       
      After our serenade we headed off again, this time to the east and the most memorable meal of the trip. Coming soon.
       
       
    • By liuzhou
      Last week, Liuzhou government invited a number of diplomats from Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar/Burma, Poland, and Germany to visit the city and prefecture. They also invited me along. We spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday introducing the diplomats to the culture of the local ethnic groups and especially to their food culture.
       
      First off, we headed two hours north into the mountains of Rongshui Miao Autonomous County. The Miao people (苗族 miáo zú), who include the the Hmong, live in the mid-levels of mountains and are predominantly subsistence farmers. Our first port of call was the county town, also Rongshui (融水 róng shuǐ, literal meaning: Melt Water) where we were to have lunch. But before lunch we had to go meet some people and see their local crafts. These are people I know well from my frequent work trips to the area, but for the diplomats, it was all new.
       
      So, I had to wait for lunch, and I see no reason why you shouldn't either. Here are some of the people I live and work with.


       
      This lovely young woman is wearing the traditional costume of an unmarried girl. Many young women, including her, wear this every day, but most only on festive occasions.
       
      Her hat is made from silver (and is very heavy). Here is a closer look.
       

       
      Married women dispense with those gladrags and go for this look:
       

       
      As you can see she is weaving bamboo into a lantern cover.
       
      The men tend to go for this look, although I'm not sure that the Bluetooth earpiece for his cellphone is strictly traditional.
       

       
      The children don't get spared either
       

       
      This little girl is posing with the Malaysian Consul-General.
       
      After meeting these people we went on to visit a 芦笙 (lú shēng) workshop. The lusheng is a reed wind instrument and an important element in the Miao, Dong and Yao peoples' cultures.
       

       

       
      Then at last we headed to the restaurant, but as is their custom, in homes and restaurants, guests are barred from entering until they go through the ritual of the welcoming cup of home-brewed rice wine.
       


      The consular staff from Myanmar/Burma and Malaysia "unlock" the door.
       
      Then you have the ritual hand washing part.
       

       
      Having attended to your personal hygiene, but before  entering the dining room, there is one more ritual to go through. You arrive here and sit around this fire and wok full of some mysterious liquid on the boil.
       

       
      On a nearby table is this
       

       
      Puffed rice, soy beans, peanuts and scallion. These are ladled into bowls.
       

       
      with a little salt, and then drowned in the "tea" brewing in the wok.
       
      This is  油茶 (yóu chá) or Oil Tea. The tea is made from Tea Seed Oil which is made from the seeds of the camellia bush. This dish is used as a welcoming offering to guests in homes and restaurants. Proper etiquette suggests that three cups is a minimum, but they will keep refilling your cup until you stop drinking. First time I had it I really didn't like it, but I persevered and now look forward to it.
       

      L-R: Director of the Foreign Affairs Dept of Liuzhou government, consuls-general of Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos.
       
      Having partaken of the oil tea, finally we are allowed to enter the dining room, where two tables have been laid out for our use.
       

       
      Let the eating, finally, begin.
       
      In no particular order:
       

      Steamed corn, taro and sweet potato
       

      Bamboo Shoots
       

      Duck
       

      Banana leaf stuffed with sticky rice and mixed vegetables and steamed.
       

      Egg pancake with unidentified greenery
       

      Stir fried pork and beans
       

      Stir fried Chinese banana (Ensete lasiocarpum)
       

      Pig Ears
       

       
      This may not look like much, but was the star of the trip. Rice paddy fish, deep fried in camellia tree seed oil with wild mountain herbs. We ate this at every meal, cooked with slight variations, but never tired of it.
       

      Stir fried Greens
       
      Our meal was accompanied by the wait staff singing to us and serving home-made rice wine (sweetish and made from the local sticky rice).
       
       
       
       
      Everything we ate was grown or reared within half a kilometre of the restaurant and was all free-range, organic. And utterly delicious.
       
      Roll on dinner time.
       
      On the trip I was designated the unofficial official photographer and ended up taking 1227 photographs. I just got back last night and was busy today, so I will try to post the rest of the first day (and dinner) as soon as I can.
    • By shain
      It's been more than a year in which international travel was challenging to impossible, but gladly this is changing, as more countries are able to vaccinate their population.
      Greece had managed to return to a state of near normality, and opted to allow vaccinated individuals to enter. And so I decided to go on a slightly spontaneous vacation (only slightly, we still had almost a month for planning). To the trip I was joined by my father, to whom I owed some good one-on-one time and was able to travel on a short-ish notice.
       
       
      Many people are yet unable to travel, and many countries are suffering quite badly from the virus, and therefore I considered if I should wait some time with this post. However, I hope that it will instead be seen with an optimistic view, showing that back-to-normal is growing ever closer.
       
       
      We returned just a few days ago, and it will take me some time to organize my photos, so this is a teaser until then.
       
       
       
       
    • By Drew777
      I'm a Brit. I'm also a closet Frenchman.  To cap it all, I'm happily retired in Bangkok, the city of a street food culture that's second to none. The Thais are healthy and slim. I'm just this side of alive and far from slim. Lockdown has me fantasizing about my days working in London, Paris and New York, an existence, if one could call it that, revolving around gastronomy of one kind or another. They paid me, not so very much as it happens, to do what I enjoy doing most in life. We all get to do it, but I was one of a fortunate few who made it his metier. Well all that's in the past now, but I still dream of my time in Paris when lunch was a tad short of 2-hours, little-known local bistros remained affordable until the day they were discovered by La Bible (Michelin Guide) and the students were revolting - this was the summer of '68, for heaven's sake. Someone should open bistro here in Bangkok with a table d'hote of Soupe a l'Oignon gratinee, Blanquette de Veau, a stinky Epoisses and Tarte Tatin to finsih with creme fraiche. Ah, it's back to lockdown and pad Thai. 
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