NYC Eats (with a bunch of people) – Tanoreen

Matt is long gone, but the memory of this meal remains strong. We wanted to take Matt to a Michelin star restaurant so we headed straight to Bay Ridge Brooklyn, of course, to one of our new favorite spots, Tanoreen.  You might remember that back in November, I took Shefali there for her birthday.  Since then, we vowed to return but with a larger group of people so we could further explore the numerous dishes on the menu.  So, with Matt’s visit as an excuse, we got a great group of eaters to join us.  In no particular order, the participating eaters were: Matt, Alex and Leo, Maria and Ahmad (my Tokyo eating buddy , Minori (of tonkatsu fame), Shefali and me. I’d say we did a pretty decent job.  You be the judge.

 

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NYC Eats (with Brett and Matt) – Brooklyn Pizza tour (lite)

When I asked Matt what he really wanted to eat while in  NYC, one of the first things he mentioned was DiFara Pizza. Because I’m such a great host – or a genie, I made his wish come true.  But, I’m also a believer in the Protestant ethic – that one must earn one’s pizza (I think that’s what Protestants believe) – so I suggested that we hop on our bikes and make the four mile ride to Midwood where DiFara is located.  I told Bret (aka meatball hands) and instigator of the original Brooklyn pizza tour to meet us at DiFara and he did.  Then  after we ate a whole delicious pie between the three of us, Bret suggested we head to L&B Spumoni Garden to sample a totally different style of pizza, so we did.  Matt and I hopped back on the bikes for the three mile ride to L&B.  On the way I suggested that we should hit Totonno’s in Coney Island but then I remembered we we had to meet Bret at L&B because he drove separately.  Once there, true to our words, we each got a square of L&B pizza which was totally superfluous, but still delicious.  Here’s the photographic proof.

 

 

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NYC Eats (with Matt) – David’s Brisket House

So my good friend Matt, whom you might remember from such hits as Chinese New Years (One and Two), sourdough baby, wood oven pizza, pig breakdown (and the subsequent feast) and taco time (basically, I would have no blog without Matt) was in town last week for his first visit to NYC in six years!  This is how it went down when he first arrived: “Matt! it’s so great to see you. Oh who is this small five year old child hugging my leg? Oh this is your son, Matteo. Matteo, meet your papa!” Actually, it didn’t go that way at all. That’s just a surreal and strange scenario. In reality, it was more like, “What do you feel like eating?”

“Hmm, I think pastrami.”

Fair enough. Matt was  in New York. It was time to take the gloves off and put the eating pants on. Sure we could have gone to Katz’s or 2nd Ave. Deli, but – and I’m not trying to make enemies here – I felt like Katz’s while delicious is a bit played out and entirely too expensive now. And 2nd Ave. Deli was just too far.  Instead I wanted to venture closer to home because I’d been reading and hearing about great places for Jewish deli food in Brooklyn.  A brief google query yielded a place within walking distance of my apartment called David’s Brisket House. And then it hit me.  When I was filming An at Bep, he told me that David’s was his favorite place to get pastrami.   I love when all the pieces come together. I call it confluence.

We hoofed it nearby Bed Stuy and the unassuming store front on Nostrand Ave. that is David’s Brisket House.  The front window displays xeroxed photos of the sandwich options along with a sign alerting customers that they are closed on Fridays for a few hours  during mid-day every Friday for prayers.  You see, David’s serves Jewish Deli food (actually, mostly meats) to  a largely African American customer (it’s in Bed Stuy, remember) and the guys serving it all up are Muslim, so Friday is the most important day for prayer.  You’ve gotta love Brooklyn.   We stepped into the sparse interior took a look at our options and ordered.  And then we ate.  And it was awesome.  My only regret is that I hadn’t experienced this place sooner.

On Nostrand between Herkimer and Fulton: David's Brisket House

Freshly sliced pastrami.

Matt is quite pleased with the size of his brisket and pastrami sandwich.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matt sizes up his pastrami and brisket sandwich

Matt's double jointed jaw comes in handy.

 

My beauty of a pastrami sandwich.

I've always loved pastrami. This sandwich and I will go on to have a beautiful relationship.

That's a look of sheer bliss.

 

 

After eating we reviewed our options for the next time.

 

 

 

 

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DOUGHnuts!

 

A little coffee with your café au lait (donut)?

A little coffee with your café au lait (donut)?

Fortunately for Brooklyn and more importantly me, because it’s close to where I live, a new gourmet donut shop opened a few months ago in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn .  It’s called Dough. It’s run by Thierry Cabigeos the owner and proprietor of Choice Brooklyn, which consists of Choice Greene, a gourmet market and Choice Market, the sister café which serves a wide variety of baked and prepared foods. Now add donuts to his Clinton Hill mini food empire. When I was inquiring whether or not I could shoot the donut making process, I asked Thierry why he decided to open up a fancy donut shop. He said first of all, he needed a separate location to bake the goods he sells at Choice Market. Secondly, he also wanted to sell food at this location that was distinct from anything that one could find at Choice Market. He settled on donuts. He brought on Fany Gerson, a talented pastry chef (whose summer business involves making Mexican ice cream and paletas or popsicles – que rico, no?) who worked with him previously at Choice Market to help develop the donut recipe and come up with some of the unique glaze flavors. Judging from the many donuts I ate last week, before and after I filmed, I’d say they got it right. Extremely right.

You see, I’ve always had a warm spot in my stomach and my heart for donuts (for style purposes I’m using the American spelling).  Speaking for the stomach and mouth, what is not to like about deep fried dough covered with some sort of sticky, sugary glaze?  We as humans might have our differences when it comes to religion, political ideology or world view, but I would say our love for donuts transcends all cultural boundaries.  France has beignets.  Spain and Latin America have churros.  China has you-tiao.  I could go on and on.  The simple fact is that wherever you find a culinary tradition that uses oil to cook and has some sort of flour based dough as a starch staple, you will find some version of a donut.  A good donut engages all of our senses.  We see something fried golden brown covered with a thick glaze that hints at the mouth melting sweetness to come.  The smell of a donut alone with it’s hints of oil, yeast and sugar is enought to get the salivary glands going.  Our sense of touch is engaged as we bite into a fresh donut as our teeth  break through the thin barriers of sweet glaze followed by the outer deep fried layer of the dough until they sink into the airy, soft and chewy texture of the donut’s interior.  Now as far as sound goes, I’m not sure you can hear a good donut, but at the very least, you can hear yourself chewing with delight.

My own personal relationship with donuts can be traced back to my early childhood growing up in San Jose, CA.  Some of my fondest memories of this time were of my grandparents (Gong Gong and Popo – Cantonese for maternal grandfather and grandmother) visiting us from Hong Kong.    It became a Saturday ritual:  my older sister, Cheryl and I would walk with Gong Gong, doing the Old Chinese Man walk –  more of a leisurely stroll with hands held behind his back – to a small family run donut shop called Manley’s on Lincoln Ave., a few blocks away from our house.  As we entered the store, we were greeted by the smell of fresh donuts and the glass display which held a variety of gleaming, still warm wonders of deep fried dough: the simple plain glazed, the chocolate glazed, the cinnamon twists, the butter scotch and chocolate bars, the old fashioned chocolates and the big prize as far as I was concerned – the apple fritter. My sister and I would take our time picking out different donuts until we had a a box of a dozen donuts which somehow remained uneaten on the walk home probably because we fortified ourselves for the return trip with glazed donut holes.  Once at home we’d dig into our favorites, our eyes inevitably bigger than our stomachs.  Even with my parents doing their part we could never quite finish a dozen donuts (especially if there was an apple fritter) in one sitting.  The box of donuts would sit on the kitchen table the rest of the Saturday and into Sunday, gradually emptying as we picked our way through the donut remains.

I remember when another donut shop called  Yum Yum Donuts opened up close to our house which initially tested my loyalty to Manley’s. It wasn’t as good and with its big glass windows and banks of fluorescent lighting it had a more generic, 1980s feel. But, it was open 24 hours and I remember seeing workers making donuts late into the night, probably for all the cops who really did hang out there.  Perhaps it’s a West Coast or California thing because whether I was at school in Berkeley (thank you King Pin for many late night runs) or living in SF, I’ve always been able to find great mom and pop donut shops which served delicious and classic donuts.

That changed when I moved to NYC.  For a city that prides itself on being a place where you can find the best of everything, there’s a surprising lack of great donuts and good donut establishments.  Sure, you can get a stale donut from a street side coffee vendor or purchase a dense, machine tasting donut from any number of Dunkin’ Donuts around town, but a great mom and pop donut shop? Forget it.   That is changing though.  But of course, like many things in NYC, it’s coming from a place of higher culinary ambitions.  The Lower East Side’s now venerable Doughnut Plant, has been turning out all sorts of high end, rich and delicious donuts for a few years now.

Now add Dough to the small list of donut shops in NYC getting it right. They might not serve the classic American donuts I grew up eating, but they are classics unto themselves. As I was filming I kept thinking about something owner, Thierry Cabigeos, had told me earlier. He said, “I’ve never seen people’s faces light up the way they do when they come in and see the donuts. It brings back memories.” Good memories. Indeed.

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Summer’s here and that means ribs!

… although I’m actually a fan of eating ribs at all times of the year.  I just needed to give this post a title.

Wassup y’all?!  C Ting is back.   Sorry for the long hiatus.  I was  working quite hard (yes believe it) on a project that frankly took a lot of time and mental energy so I just didn’t have much to give back to you-food. Sorry, you-food and all you three readers of the site.  It’s been too long.  But you can thank the unemployment gods for kicking in and making sure I have ample time to to get back to basics: cooking, eating and thinking about food. You-food.net is back in effect!

Alright  the weekend before last I went to the Big Apple BBQ Festival with the intention of gorging myself on delicious BBQ from pitmasters around the country where bbq reigns supreme. Instead, I was met with ridiculous, meandering lines of people waiting for God knows how long for what were probably delicious but undoubtedly skimpy servings of bbq meat. Perhaps it was worth it and the meat was truly delicious.  I will never know because I didn’t have the patience to wait in line as the rain came pouring down.  But all the smells of sizzling, smoked meat and seeing people nosh on pulled pork, brisquet, sausages and ribs did put me in the mood to bbq some of my own ribs.  So I hight-tailed it to Chinatown, fortified myself with some tasty dumplings (I hadn’t eaten – remember, I was expecting to be filled my stomach with bbq) and went to the Chinese butchers hop where I bought myself a nice two pound rack of pork spare ribs. A couple days later, I went up to the rooftop deck of our apt building and cooked me up some ribs! And then I ate ’em.  Click on the photo below for the full story and recipe.

Eating is believing.

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