Archive | October, 2010

Acme Fish

30 Oct

Following a tip off in the New York Magazine i headed to Greenpoint Brooklyn to search out the home of NY’s top smoked fish supplier, Acme.

On Fridays between 8am and 1 pm the factory opens a small space to the public where you can buy direct at wholesale prices the many products they sell across New York and the rest of the country. The space is basic and looks very much like the industrial site that it is, but laid across several tables are various packaged and non-packaged smoke fish products. There is price board but it seems that most of the people here are regulars and know what its all about. I took my time to have a look round and quickly realised that the main event was the unpackaged whole fish on display at the far end.

Not wishing to miss out i asked for an explanation on what was available and was treated to a tasting session. Little Red Riding Hood (i think due to Halloween dress up) offered me generous tasters of everything…..(Scroll over picture to see what was there). I snapped up 1/4lb the pastrami cured, 1/2lb the bbq baked, some pre-packed mackerel, and couldn’t resist the lemon and pepper too. All this came to $17, an unbelievable bargain.

Mission complete i headed home via the Bagelsmith in W.Burg (oh and Saltie to pick up an apple galette) to sample my smoked delights. All delicious, can’t wait to turn the baked salmon into a tasty salad, with mixed leaves, shaved fennel, soft boiled eggs and lemon dressing…..

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Debts Settled

29 Oct

So its been a tough few weeks and my waistline is starting to suffer for it so time for a quick detox……

The beginningThe end

In case you were wondering that’s a delicious mix of apples, oranges, lemon, carrots, celery and kale…..Whilst the detox was on it made sense to repay a long standing deal with my girlfriend. If she was to try eating some meat i would take a yoga class.

As it proved she was a lot keener than me and fulfilled her part a long time ago. Fortunately i do not have pictures of me doing downward dog so you will have to imagine for yourselves, i have to say it was a pretty tough hour, hopefully it gets easier.

BURGERS (Part1)

27 Oct

This is going to be one of several posts on Burgers, my one true love. (actually i’d say the same about pizza too so look out for a guide to that too.)

The cheddar and bacon from Dumont, a giant amongst burgers.

Dumont Burger

Shake Shack

Bills Burger Bar

The Niche

26 Oct

The London eating scene is quite different from here in NY. It is certainly not that London lacks good food but that too much of it is concentrated on appealing to the masses.

Here they exploit the niche market so well. I do not know if it is because New Yorkers love food more than Londoners but it certainly seems that the chefs and entrepreneurs are much more willing to indulge in their own tastes. I really believe that more often than not if the people behind the business truly love what they produce it will taste better. Just in the last week i have visited three places that concentrate on doing very few things, but doing them exceptionally well.

Doughnut Plant

These are doughnuts of the finest quality, all handmade in the bakery behind the tiny counter that makes for the shop front. I have never been to the Doughnut Plant on a Saturday before and probably won’t make that mistake again, but as you can see people are very willing to stand and queue for great products. As with many of these kind of businesses the idea came from theĀ  founders (Mark Israel’s discovering his grandfathers old recipes) desire to recreate a genuine product that had been bastardised by mass production techniques.

The results are amazing as i have told everyone since i discovered the place on a visit in 2008. The three doughnuts above are my favourites. The Creme Brulee is a small but perfectly formed little bomb. It has a sugar glazed top that is has the crunch of its name sake and then filled with delicious custard. The Tres Leche is a masterpiece made with milk, evapourated milk and condensed milk. The light dough is covered in the evapourated milk glaze and filled all the way round with condensed milk cream. Finally the strawberry jam filled doughnut. This is the first time i have seen it and it did not disappoint. Mark keeps things interesting by rotating through seasonal fillings so there is always something different to try.

(A note to all you London doughnut lovers, forget Krispy Kremes and head to Spitalfields on a Sunday morning. St John Bread and Wine make their own amazing doughnuts with either raspberry jam or custard fillings. They sell out and it maybe worth calling ahead to check they have them but i promise you will not be disappointed)

I also recently returned to Porchetta a tiny place dedicated to the Pork sandwich, they really pare it down. The sandwich comes with pork and only pork, no condiments no greens and it does not suffer for it. Just the delicious crunch of the crispy pork shoulder and lots of flavour from the garlic, fennel and rosemary. It’s definitely worth checking out if you are in the East Village and need a snack.

My latest discovery in the simple concept idea is Four and Twenty. This place was opened by two sisters devoted to all things pie. It’s not in the nicest part of town situated on 3rd Avenue near the Gowanus Canal. By all reports you do not want to be hanging around the canal on a hot day as the smell can be quite overwhelming….

The cafe is a pretty uninteresting square space with no decoration beyond the original features of the room. The main event though was the pie and it seemed perfect that apple was on the menu. To be precise apple and salted caramel. It was amazing…….a revelation, homemade all butter crust layered with perfectly cooked apple and caramel, a large slice of heaven..

 

Perfect apple pie

 

Being greedy and making sure that i was not missing out on anything i decided to get a slice to take home. I tried the buttermilk and maple custard and was again not disappointed.

This is my new favourite place. Now if only it was closer to home i would be very happy and a lot fatter…..

 

Not So Strong

23 Oct

Strong Place. We went for dinner here with some friends, its fairly new to the neighbourhood so thought we would check it out. First up we tried some bbq wings on the waiters recommendation…interesting sauce…..(interesting for me is never a good word next to food). I had the lamb burger with feta which was tasty in the end, it turned up raw first time round, and then I was offered the choice of a 3 minute reheat or 12 minute from scratch. When everyone else is eating 12 minutes seems like a long time so I went forĀ  the reheat. It came back slightly overdone, but it was still moist and tasty and they did bring a fresh side of waffle fries, the third bowl of the night! We ordered one dessert between us I think it was chocolate something with caramel sauce and pretzels! I hate pretzels…..I do not get them at all, they taste of nothing but the salt they covered in and have all the texture of a stick.

Generally the food was ok, nothing special and certainly did not warrant $180 for 4 people. I think the stinger was the lobster at $35. My friend actually questioned the price, as last time they had eaten there it was considerably cheaper. The waiter was pretty good at dealing with it without actually being able to do much about it. It got me thinking about the terrible question of; “how is everything”, that seems to be asked by every passing waiter in this city. Its a bit pointless because you are either enjoying the food and don’t need to be disturbed, hating it but not wanting to cause a fuss, or are just ambivalent and wishing you could tell the waiter everything that is not quite right even though there is nothing so wrong that you would send it back.

Back home I would only complain on very rare occasions (that is in a restaurant) as it seems there is little point. If something is badly wrong, undercooked, missing ingredients then it is easy just to ask for it to be redone. But what do you do if something is just slightly overcooked, or under seasoned or just generally not that great? More often than not I am just going to suck it up knowing that I will never return, whats the point in getting all upset. But here in NY with the culture of service and complaining is it acceptable to send back your plate for the smallest transgression?

The answer is yes, you probably can….they might not like it but 9/10 times you will get the dish redone no questions asked, the waiter will smile, the chef be seething but who cares you don’t have to look them in the eye. The only real question is whether you are in the mood (that is, feeling less English or non confrontational than normal) to complain, because lets face it no one likes to be told that there food is not good enough.

The moral of the story really goes out to the waiter….do not bother asking how my food is, if I wanted you to know I would have told you!!!!

Bad Blogging

23 Oct

I believe in owning up to your own faults as much as possible or sensible and hence the title of this post. All week long i have been out and about looking for food and it is only now that can commit ink to paper so to speak.

This post will be a selection of places and pictures from the last week or so of various places i have been, unfortunately in no particular order.

Fonda NolitaReally like this place that i stumbled across in Nolita. (Tacombi). I am slowly learning to love mexican food after being generally put off by the horrible food i ate there on a trip many years ago. This place just serves tacos from a VW camper van housed in a large garage like space. It is filled with retro furniture that looks as if it has been lifted from a Mexican beach bar, lots of large greenery and an open prep kitchen at the back. It was pretty quiet at lunch but seemed like the perfect place to go for beers and munchies after work. Not the best pork taco in the world but tasty and a really good vibe.

Went and visited a lovely little cafe down in Brooklyn Heights near the water called Iris Cafe. (Excuse the link to the facebook page but seemingly some people are foregoing websites for facebook accounts…quite lazy really, but hey the youth of today….) Really simple little place with good coffee, and a short menu of sandwiches and salads all based around good simple ingredients.

The above picture that i spotted on the way is a clear sign that the epidemic of bed bugs in this city is leading to all kinds of strange happenings.

Next on the list was a lunchtime visit to Dumont one of the innovators of the Williamsburg scene. These guys have two other places i know of, there is the Dumont Burger off shoot where i first discovered their great burgers and then Dressler which is a more upmarket affair.

This is one of those places that so far i have only managed to order the burger, i think you can see why. Having plate stolen plenty of tasters i know it is not the limit of their talents. They have a legendary Mac and Cheese that is on the list.

I think the only other place of note was Frankies for a Saturday date night. We were a little unsure if we would get a table having had bad experiences before owing to the fact that you cannot book. But we were hopeful that 7pm would be early enough only to arrive and find a two hour wait! I am always amazed that anyone would even consider that wait time but it is not new to me so some people clearly do…..Anyway luckily a space at the bar that is first come first served turned up so we grabbed it. Frankies as ever was perfect, good wine, simple but tasty food and great service.

Random wanderings

18 Oct

Last week seemed to vanish by and am only just catching up now. My lack of photos has let me down and i am trying to remedy but my skills in photography do not quite match my eating so you will have to forgive.

The Meatball Shop. It sounds good already….5 different choices of meatball 4 different sauces and a variety of serving suggestions. I went for the Hero. Three beef meatballs with spicy tomato sauce, mozzarella all in a baguette with a rocket and apple salad on the side. The salad was surprisingly good and the meatballs did not disappoint, perfect ratio of sauce to meat so as to be still edible as a sandwich. The texture of the balls was good, quite loose with a good proportion of fat for moisture. I think next time i will have to try the spicy pork ones..

There followed over 2 hours at the Genius Bar in the Apple shop trying to fix my mac. After that i needed to find something good to eat, wandered into the giant Wholefoods in the Lower East Side and was swallowed up for a while…the place is just too big, anyway bought a few veggies etc for dinner and headed out on a sweet mission. The latest trend to hit the UK from here seems to be Food Trucks so i did a little digging and found Dessert Truck Works. Now not a truck at all but a little dessert bar and bakery on Clinton Street. Nothing was grabbing my attention so i plumped for an average looking double choc chip cookie which seemed pricey at $3.25. Anyway it proved to be a master stroke. Not really cookie at all but soft chewy and very very chocolaty, incredibly rich. Always the acid test is how far out of my way i would be willing to go and this was definitely worth returning to.

Here are some random photos from the last week or so….

Crazy storm on Monday night...just missed it thankfully.