I hate people who are not serious about their meals. -- Oscar Wilde

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Seeking out a Vada Pav at Desi Gallery

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Food taste better while driving

Who knew that about ½ hour from where I grew up was a little Mumbai? Well more like a little Bombay because it was still Bombay in the 1990s. Iselin, New Jersey is home to a predominantly Indian community. Oak Tree Road is the main strip is littered with various Indian businesses and food related stores. Driving from one end of Oak Tree Road to the other you are transported, in which you see stores supermarkets and pizza joints, typical to any place in Jersey but then suddenly you are transported and the Shoprites and pizza joints are transformed into Patel Cash and Carry and a Kati roll shop. Until recently, I have never been in this area and coming here I always find new places to explore and by explore, I mean eat. 

Vada Pav
In the recent April issue of Saveur, the theme of the issue was sandwiches and one sandwich that caught my attention/belly was one called a vada pav. Now I am a big fan of sandwiches. I mean first off, a sandwich is composed of bread and I am a carbo-whore and pretty much anything can be shoved in between bread and taste great. I mean, growing up and up until high school, I had the same lunch everyday: a turkey sandwich. It was not a Wonderbread turkey sandwich though, it was very specific, and first off the turkey was generally what was on sale and the cheapest so it was Butterball turkey for me. Bread was mainly the square loaf breads from the Asian grocery store bakery, which was bigger and heartier, on occasion Maria’s Italian loaf bread was used but Asian square loaf bread was the core. Mayonnaise always and the only condiment and was spread only on the one side. Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise was what we used for the majority of the time but Hellmans was the backup. Like all little kiddies, I did not necessarily enjoy having the same sandwich day in and day out. I also longed for the Wonderbread sandwiches my Caucasian friends ate but it was not until later in life, in college, I realized how much comfort that this sandwich brought to me as I would find myself recreating my classic turkey sandwich in college. If food is a universal language, then the sandwich is a dialect. Sandwiches are part of ever country or region, but like a local dialect, each has its own unique difference.

Vada Pav and Fig Milkshake

In this sandwich issue of Saveur, they featured the vada pav, which is a sandwich, a street food staple that is a potato fritter stuffed in a roll. Due to my ignorance, I have never thought of Indian cuisine having such a sandwich and thought that Kati rolls was the only sandwich that represented Indian cuisine. Naturally to correct my ignorance, I went in search of a vada pav. My search led me to the Desi Gallery which was like a mini-restaurant/food court/counter and I do not really know what to classify it as, I just know I can get food there. Inside there are 2 counters an ice cream counter and another counter that housed both Indian sweets and one or 2 dishes. However, they had a huge menu in the backdrop in which you could order pretty much any atypical Indian fare, once you get the attention of someone behind the counter. I was in luck in which there was a lunch special of the vada pav. 
Huge potato fritter
 The vada pav came exactly how I imaged it and is quite an impressive sandwich. My vada pav order came with 2 soft rolls, that was similar to a parker house roll and they were soft and pillow like a good old Martin potato bun. The rolls were barely able to contain the 2 potato fritters that looked like it had a case of elephantiasis; the rolls were barely able to contain the potato fritters which were not good for structural integrity but great for my hunger. The vegetable kingdom has very little representation in this sandwich and makes a brief appearance in the tamarind and cilantro chutney. All of this was topped off in a tangy hot sauce that was to an acceptable level of spiciness. By acceptable level it did make the mouth go a bit numb, but neither runny nose nor sweat was broken. I suspect that I only got profiled and only got “gringo” spicy and must specify the level of spiciness I want. The potato fritter had onions in it as well and the spice combination in it reminded me of the filling of a samosa. This is a heavily starchy sandwich, actually it is a starch sandwich but it is oh so good. The tamarind and cilantro chutney is a perfect spread on the sandwich bringing a sweet and sour level of depth to the sandwich. The high level of starch one would except dryness or a certain level of grease but this sandwich had neither and is another sandwich I was humbly disproven about my food knowledge of another culture. 
No Rocky Road Ice Cream here
 Given that I am always in the mood for ice cream, I had to get myself a milkshake here. Sure they had the usual suspects of vanilla, strawberry, chocolate but they had a couple other ones that are not on the Baskin Robbins menu such as figs, mango, dates and chikoo ice cream. I only noticed the chikoo ice cream after I ordered a fig milkshake which was very tasty but I asked to try a sample of the chikoo ice cream. According to the lady, she told me it was just a fruit grown in India. The ice cream had a bean-like taste to it, kind of like red bean with sweet potato. This is a horrible description but I am intrigued by this said fruit and will most likely add this to things to eat as I continue my food quest.

Desi Gallery
825 Us Highway 1 S.
Iselin, NJ 08830- 2634

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hundred Acres is the place to be or is that Green Acres?

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Burgers taste better when the Cutting Crew “Dying in your arms tonight” is playing in the background

The Green Acres theme song always pops into my head every time I go eat at Hundred Acres. They are not related, and I never saw the show, Green Acres, but it always happens. Hundred Acres is a restaurant that I have gone to on multiple occasions and each time always left satisfied and it is a favorite of mine for brunch. I think there was a pig in Green Acres and they have a lot of pork dishes at Hundred Acres so that’s the only connection I guess I can make. I like the combination of meals such as brunch, breakfast and lunch or my favorite, brinner, breakfast and dinner because there are no real rules to what is acceptable fare during this time. I think that food should never be limited or constrained by time. For example, why can I not have pancakes for dinner or steak for breakfast? It is all going in one way or another and if I want waffles for breakfast, I am getting waffles for breakfast! Brunch breaks those rules where it has eggs, waffles but you can order a steak or a burger during this time. Also, brunch is the cool, trendy and hip meal now. Telling people that you are doing brunch puts you on an elevated level, it is like telling people that you do not go to the gym to run and lift weights, but you do Pilates and yoga. You are so cool and “with it” that you can not be confined to just breakfast or lunch; you need to have them both to fit into your schedule.   Also brunch is a perfect time for you to sleep off some of that hangover, recount the previous evening and eat. 

Food Porn After Jump

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Peru: Assume the standing postion, Street Food Part II

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: You can not go wrong with Purple Drink...unless it is washed in a dirty water bucket

Not everything that I ate was completely cavity inducing. I did not however have a savory empanada that was a complete failure. My empanada catalyst was a carne filled, composed of ground beef and onions which in my eyes a standby and always had a good dose of cumin in them, bringing a great earthiness. Empanadas are a staple in Latin American cuisine but vary from country and region.

Mainly a snack, but eating one or two of these can easily be a meal. Most empanadas that I have encountered before coming to Peru were like over-fried dumplings filling sparingly. However the empanadas in Peru are baked and pack a curb stomping punch. Although I am a fan of basically anything fried, I like the baked empanadas better. The exterior is tender and is not dry at all and is a perfect blanket for the meaty filling. 

Speaking of meat, I could not leave Peru without sampling some antichuos. Antichuos is the general term for describing meat on a stick. The meat is generally beef, alpaca or if you are real special beef heart. Most people ask me, are you not scared that you will get sick or some weird meat disease? The simple answer is no. Most times that I have made the bathroom a base camp have generally been the result of fruits, vegetables and the local water.
Antichuos- skewered meat

next streetMeat is a safer option and street meat there is really no option for rare, it is usually well done and I also follow my general rule of if I do not see anybody eating from there, especially locals, I will not eat there as well. That is my greatest indicator for street food because if there are locals eating there, it is a green light for me, I mean think about it, if they were getting sick and dying from her food, how long is she going to stay in business? She can’t kill her clientele. The first antichuo I had was in Cusco, I was told it was alpaca meat but I honestly could not tell if it was but I just know it was heavily seasoned and it was good. The other time I had antichuo was in Aguas Calientes and it was mind blowing because this lady was grilling on a makeshift grill with a tarp for a ghetto awning and using one of those old fireplace pumps to keep the coals hot on the grill. Her antichuos were amazing that I sat, well stood there eating and letting the smoke and meat flavors penetrate every pore of my body. I was able to try beef heart, which I was able to identify and it was delicious. I am happy that beef heart is still not on the trendy offal train yet keeping the prices of hearts down. 
Love she is using the fireplace pump

Antichuos are great and the only bad thing I can say about them is when they slap a wedge of potato at the end of the stick. Although I am a fan of the potatoes in Peru, all the antichuos I had the potatoes were pretty cold and gummy and was not worth the stomach space. The meat was heavily spiced so naturally you will get thirsty which brings me to my treat…

This is just alpaca...at least thats what she told me
Chi cha and other drinks can be found all over the streets, just look for the buckets. Most of these beverage vendors sell what I call the core three of chi cha morada, chi chia and quinoa drink. I am wary about anything that uses the indigenous water because I know for a fact that my stomach is not trained for this. Me being me…well I had tried the chi cha morada. Here is a tip, as for the drink to go where they will pour it in a bag for you and give you a straw making it the most hygienic and safest way for you to drink it. I saw the water that the street beverage proprietor was washing it in and uhh…yeah it was not to pretty. Chi Cha Morada is a non-alcoholic drink that is made with purple corn and pineapple juice. For me it was refreshing, but tooth aching sweet. However I guess this is the original purple drank, sorry Kool Aid Man. The other drink that I had was straight Chi Cha. Chi Cha is an alcoholic corn beer/liquor and I had this on the first day of the trail. Our guide was offering it to us and told us to take a swig and pour a little bit to mother earth, not wanting to offended or look like a bitch, I of course took a swig of it. Chi Cha is fermented corn as I stated, but they way they ferment the corn would make a Health Inspector faint. Corn is chewed to a pulp and then spit out and mixed in order to encourage fermentation, so human saliva is involved in the creation of this drink, especially in the rural areas of Peru…like the villages in the Andes. Getting past the fact of drinking spit swapping, it does not taste bad, it just tastes like a light beer with a heavy corn taste. Note that not all Chi Cha is made like this, just in the more rural areas. Thankfully I did not experience any discomfort because that would stink…especially still had 3 days of hiking ahead of me.
Drink Buckets of unknown origin...actually reminds me any party in college
Lima had all of these street food vendors all over the place and the most notable was the ones that littered Kennedy Park. One of the notable ones was this guy named Don Fredy and he was selling turrones of all kinds. 

By all kinds I mean the suave and the crocantes meaning the smooth ones and the crunch ones. Turrones are generally nougat like candy but the ones that Don Fredy is selling are more like cakes. The suave turron is sandy on the outside and has a chewy layer of sticky sugar in the middle and the crocantes is a brick of crunchy, sticky goodness. Due to a language barrier and realizing that this treat made me a bee magnet, I was unable to ask Don Fredy more about these treats and what they are made of. I just know it was good and tasty. 
Suave turrone
Crocrante turrone

Lima in the morning is pleasant and on almost any corner, there are what I call sandwich breakfast carts. They are green carts that are dishing out some kind of beverages and multiple sandwiches. Me being curious and always being hungry, I snagged a random sandwich and found out in my game of sandwich roulette I got a ham and avocado sandwich. I unfortunately was unable to take a picture of the sandwich due to the insane amount of foot traffic. I also had fresh squeeze orange juice, sandwich tasted better than the juice; although fresh, it was not really that sweet but for a breakfast of 1 USD, you can not really complain. 
Tortas and more beverages of unknown origin...I'm down
Lima StreetThe last of the street foods that I had was hard boiled quail eggs. I mean, it is not even a cart really, it is a basket on wheels and one of the most minimal street food operations I have seen and impressive. In a pot of boiling water from an undetermined heat source, quail eggs are thrown into the boiling pool and in just a few short minutes in the middle of the busy you are snacking on hard boiled quail eggs. The quail eggs that I snacked were more like soft boiled eggs when gave them a soft yolk making them that much better. A sprinkling of salt and I was satisfied.
No idea how she is boiling the quail eggs
I always like eating street food in other countries because I truly enjoy it. I do not do it to be a knock-off Andrew Zimmer or to play the macho game. Okay, maybe I do eat street food to dabble in the food version of, “Can you top this” but I think street food is a great representation and best way to experience a country. Not only do I end up eating well, I always get to meet people, locals mainly that are passionate about food and are always willing to talk about themselves and lives. I would have not met Maria, the picarones lady in Aguas Calientes that have been making picarones for the past 4 years and is generally only there when her son is playing soccer. I have no problem paying top dollar for food or sitting down with a jacket and tie, but I found out the best experiences I have had while traveling have been around food that I have found in simple settings, outside, and on the street.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Peru: taking it to the streets, food that is! Part I

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: If it taste good and I do not get sick from it, street meat of dubious origins are okay by me

The good thing about traveling on my own is that I can create my own itinerary and by my own itinerary I mean, I get to eat wherever I want. Sure I like pizza and burgers but I am not that interested in eating the Cusco or Lima version of pizza. As much as I like sitting down and having a good meal, I like snacking which not only optimizes stomach space and allows me to try lots and lots of things. I think street food and snacking is a good way to learn, which I am always trying to do. For example, I learned is that we are busy people. We all got stuff to do and we get hungry and do not have the time to sit down and order something. Sometimes you just need a quick and tasty snack to get you through to the next meal or something late at night to soak up all that booze and get a good night sleep. It is food like this that you meet interesting people and have great experiences and also, 99% you are eating while standing or walking which I always felt makes food taste even better.  

Chips with Mayo and Inca Kola
 I of course start off with a bag or chips and soda. At home, I rarely eat chips unless I am downing a sandwich, and I prefer kettle cooked because I like the tooth-cracking crunch from the chips. When I travel abroad, I am fascinated by the awesome choices of junk food abroad and how they are so much cooler and better than what we got in the US. Okay, not that much better but if you grew up with honey bbq being the exotic flavors; having seaweed flavored Pringles in Japan will blow your mind. The chips cost about…5 cents US and were a step above Lays chips. They were less greasy and not overly salty. The chips may not be a big mind blower, but the chips came with a condiment, specifically a side of mayonnaise. Squirting mayonnaise on the potato chip was…interesting. I am not sure if I really like it nor do I hate it, but I can see why people may like it and it worked well with the drink of choice in Peru, Inka Kola. First time I saw Inka Kola it reminded me of the now defunct soda Surge due to its electric nuclear yellow color and was almost expecting it to be like Surge except for the XTREME part. Inka Kola taste like a grassy version if cream soda and I can see this pairing perfectly with pastrami on rye. Inka Kola is the most popular drink in Peru and bigger that Coca Cola. 
Prickly Pears

 One thing I kind of regret is not eating a variety of fruit while I was here but I did however eat a lot of prickly pears. Mainly indigenous to Latin America although actually has origins from Europe apparently, the prickly pears have a melon-like texture similar to papaya and taste similar to a honeydew but the sweetness is a lot more mellow. There are a lot of seeds in a prickly pear and the Gringo move would be to spit them out, but this is a waste of time. Just eat it seeds and all and hopefully you won’t have a prickly pear patch grow in your stomach. The prickly pears were everywhere and a nice touch that they were carting them around in a wheelbarrow.
Food Porn after the Jump

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Lima Part Dos: Chilling in the Barrio Chino and chowing down Pollo la Brasa

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Bad Spanish and subpar mandarin lead to a hilarious time in Barrio Chino

Mercado Centrale Lima

I was only in Lima for a short time which is a pity because there are so many places…ok not place more like eats that I wanted to visit and eat. I visited the Central Market in Lima which is always a pleasure to see and do. Similar to the Central Market in Cusco, each area was separated from seafood, meats and fruits and so on.

I went there really early so it was a pleasure to see and walk around as fishmongers were cleaning scallops and fishes and butchers breaking down sides of beef and deboning chickens.

The Meat Aisle


Butchering with precision

One of the impressive pictures that I got was a poultry guy that was burning the hair off of a skinned turkey using a fire in a wok. It was a spectacular site as well as a clear fire code violation. After awing at all the food, I decided to give my stomach a break from me constantly challenging it with market food and headed to Barrio Chino, the Chinatown in Lima
Burning off the hairs of a turkey
Food Porn after Jump!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Lemon Bars and Chocolate Ice Cream- Not mixed together

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Lemon Squares are bite size pieces of pie

I do not have a particularly favorite season and I particularly do not really care. But this past winter, after being hit with snow for five straight weeks, can be best described as…craptastic. Come to think of it, I hate snow, because I do not know what purpose it serves. I mean back in grade school, snow was great best you got a free day to sleep and do absolutely nothing. Now, it is like…I need to get to work and plowing snow? That is some serious work. I feel it is so counterproductive because it is going to melt and disappear, but I can not do anything, until the snow is gone. Anyone that romanticize about snow and say that they love it and it is pretty and beautiful has never had to shove a driveway and does not live in the Northeast. I hate you.
Anyways, the barrage of snow this winter has especially taken its toll on me and I am looking forward to spring and the summer. Although lemons are available all year round…well pretty much everything is nowadays, lemons, or Meyer Lemons to be precise are technically in season around March, which is a total tease because it is never warm in March. But the vibrant yellow lemons makes you think of spring and warm weather and makes life and the cold a bit more bearable. My favorite thing to do with lemons is to make lemon bars because it is a quick and simple treat that is good to eat on your own or to a party and impress people, especially girls (But, being the shy loser I am, this hasn’t happened yet, but in my mind it totally works because I saw it on TV once and TV never lies to you). I have tried many lemon bar recipes but my favorite is the one from David Lebovitz, in which in another sci-fi Stargate world, I we would be total buds and I would never explain and find perfectly normal to have a chocolate drawer. The lemon bar recipe, although lacking chocolate is not lacking any lemon flavors and it perfectly embodies the sour and essence of the lemon. The kicker in the recipe, is it uses a whole lemon, peel and all which is great because you get little bits of chewy slightly bitter peel. The lemon bars just scream warm weather and comfort and I suggest everyone to start pumping these out, besides citrus prevents scurvy and we all want to prevent that. 

Though I make and eat ice cream all year round, I start kicking it into high gear the second I can rock shorts. So when it bizarrely hit 75 degrees, before slapping on the shorts, I made sure that the ice cream bowl was in the freezer and I have enough heavy cream to start churning out ice cream. I have been having chocolate cravings like a pregnant lady so I naturally decided to christen the ice cream making high season with a chocolate ice cream. I did not just do any old chocolate ice cream, I added in Cocoa nibs which turned the chocolate volume from 10 to 11 (This is Spinal Tap reference). I had a bag of dried tart cherries that I have been wanting to use so taking a page from David Lebovitz, I took his idea for his red wine syrup and rehydrated the cherries in the red wine syrup which was a great idea because it even after freezing the ice cream, the cherries did not turn into chewy, rock hard nubs, they were tender and the slight tartness and the fruity wine paired perfectly with the chocolate. I used a Callebaut 72% for this and but I think a milk chocolate would work well too. Use a good quality chocolate if you can get your hands on it, you should not subject yourself to crappy chocolate!

Recipes after the Jump!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Petite Soo Chow- ain't nothinh petite about the food

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: When you can see people making the dumplings, it is a good sign

In searching for good soup dumplings led me to Cliffside Park New Jersey to Petite Soochow. I have actually been to this place before when I was younger when it was originally opened in Upper Saddle River but it closed. Petite Soo Chow reopened a few years ago at this location and has been going strong. Petite Soo Chow specializes in Shanghai style food which includes soup dumplings. I unfortunately had a bad soup dumpling experience in New Jersey and I needed soup dumpling redemption and a reason to have faith in New Jersey food again.

A good sign of good soup dumplings

This place gets crowded and full really fast. They will do Chinatown style seating in which they will throw people together at the same tables. So if you have a party of three, and there is a table that seats eight, do not be surprised if you are seated there along with a family of four. I originally was uncomfortable with this kind of seating because you will sometimes have that one kid or old grandma that like stares at you while you are eating. I am not an animal, STOP LOOKING AT ME! But I have gotten used to it and if it is a little kid staring at me while I am eating, I will stare back and make faces at him and make him laugh and hopefully get him in trouble with his strict Asian parents (GOTCHA!). 

Food Porn After the Jump!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Lima: Pork and more Politically Incorrect food!

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: I can stop after eating one Pringle. I cannot however, stop eating after one pork sandwich

The adventure continues as I finally arrived in Lima, well, returned to Lima, I mean I did spend a lovely evening in the Lima Airport Food Court. I was originally planning to visit a ceviche place but due to Peruvian Air being delayed, I got in later than I wanted. I was hungry and I did not want to waste time and wanted something eat. So when I hired car driver came to pick me up, I asked him to take me to a place that had chicharrons. This is how the conversation went down (translated in English to hide my embarrassing and pitiful High School Spanish:

Me: Excuse me, I have a question, do you like eating chicharrons?

Taxi Driver: Yes I do.

Me: Do you have a favorite place?

Taxi Driver: Yes. Wait…do you want to go eat chicharrons?

Me: Yes.

Taxi Driver: let me get this straight, you want to go to the hotel first then get chicharrons, or chicharrons then hotel?

Me; Chicharrons. Now. 

Sandwich Porn after Jump!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Hop Sing and Surviving Chinatown Saturday Morning Shopping

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Chinatown on a Saturday morning is like running a gauntlet, its every man/woman/child for himself.

Like many Chinese families that grew up in New Jersey, my family would have the hankering for that taste of the homeland and make that trek out to Chinatown and stock up on that taste of comfort. I remember waking up early and missing my morning cartoons as my parents would load me and my sister up in the car along with coolers for the bounty and cargo we would be hauling back. Growing up in the suburbs of New Jersey, walking down the streets of Mott or Elizabeth was a bit daunting and clueless experience. For one, seeing dried shitakes hanging up in the middle of the street or pots of crab and beds of fish lying out in the middle of the street was a far cry from what my other “white” friends were doing on their Saturday mornings. . I went to an elementary school were there were like, 6 Asian kids and that number included my sister and I. I was transported to another country within the country; it is like Inception without pretentious douches.

We would stop off at the bakeries and our go to spots for congee (rice porridge) and fruit and one of the spots that we went to was Hop Sing on 9 Chatham. It is a dim sum joint and they have a dining room but a bulk of their business is take-out. Hop Sing had a brief health department hiatus and reopened recently with a fresh “A” grade displayed proudly on the door, it was back to the usual for them. I recently came back here with my parents and it is noticeably cleaner (I do not let the health department dictate by the way, I rather judge it by volume of customers) it still had the same charm after all those years.
Running errands and shopping from place to place in Chinatown is not like picking up a gallon of milk and maybe some I don’t know, a bag of pasta from Dean & Deluca, this is a straight up gangster. 

 They want their food now.

You do not lollygag when you step into a place like this; it is like Mao’s Great Leap Forward: focus on what you want and get to it. That is the goal of everyone here, to get the tasty goods that you want before it runs and get out as quick as possible. The goal of a place like this is to get you what you want as quickly as possible, and get to the next person as quick as possible. Here are the quick tips for surviving and getting want you want as quickly as possible so you do not stand with a “duh” look on your face:
Tips and Food Porn after jump!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Donut Quest Part Tres: Dough and Brindle Room

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Having a ex-dope head with a heavy Staten Island accent loudly telling the whole subway car her life story will most certainly wake you up

Colorful, Fresh, Tasty Donuts!
The Donut Quest continues! I am still in search and finding the best donut places that New York has to offer and on this quest, there are new places that are opening up and two of the newest and notable are the donuts at the Brindle Room and Dough in Clinton Hill Brooklyn. 

Dough Brooklyn Open Kitchen
First up are the donuts at Dough in Brooklyn. Even before I went to Dough, I already had high expectations and just had the feeling it was going to be good. It is like going to see a Jason Statham movie, even before you go and watch it; you know it is going to be hilarious for all the wrong reasons. But in the case of Dough, the founder Fany Gerson already has a solid reputation working in top pastry kitchens and running La New Yorkina. Her book, My Sweet Mexico is one of my favorite baking books and enlightened me on Latin American sweets and expanding my knowledge beyond churros and tres leche cakes. Dough is located in Clinton Hill right at the corner of Lafayette and Franklin Ave.

Dough Brooklyn, only indication of donut goodness

There is no real signage just a little banner in the window with the name of the place and can be easily overlooked. Except for a few counter side seats, this is mainly a takeout place which is not a big deal because donuts are the ultimate handheld treats. This is not a Baskin Robbins but there is a good amount of donut flavors to choose from and they are all neatly and proudly displayed in the front. All the donuts that they make here are yeast based donuts so if you wanted a cake donut, you are out of luck. They also had donuts holes that also looked good, but I did not get a chance to try them and will have to get them next time. They have the classics like vanilla, chocolate and sprinkles but they stay true to their Brooklyn roots, conjuring up seasonal and local flavors that they are making using the best and freshest ingredients. 

Donuts after the Jump!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Aguas Calientes: Happy Indians and Chifa food

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Politically incorrectness and good food have a direct correlation

The Main Square

I feel like I am at Epcot when I take the bus down from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes. The main strip of the town seems to picturesque almost artificial. There is a river raging and vast bridges spanning over it. The streets are suspiciously clean and the town square has 2 statues of Inca-like people and people posing with them making moronic gestures that question if natural selection is still in effect. In short, Aguas Calientes is a tourist town. Walking down the main strip you are ambushed by waiters urging and practically trying to drag you into their nearly empty restaurants promising you free wi-fi, pisco sours and pizza. If I had more time I probably would actually try the pizza here. There is something about pizza in Peru I un-scientifically noticed that they love it here and it is quite a seller. Navigating around this town and finding good food for a respectable price is hard. Before coming here, trying to find any restaurant recommendations was near impossible but even in a tourist hot spot, not everyone is demanding tomato Bolognese and spaghetti. So for my one day in Aguas Calientes and my first meal, I went to Indio Feliz. 

Has to be good, the dude is smiling!
I have come to accept political correctness is not a big thing abroad so the name translating to “Happy Indian” did not faze me that much. What did faze me was the décor. It was like walking into a flamboyant pirate bar. The interior design was nautical and the only thing that seemed Peruvian was the Peruvian flute music playing in the background. It was the first time I heard “Killing me Softly” done up Peruvian flute style, it was quite soothing but I like the original better. Despite the décor, it felt cozy and after trekking the trail for the past couple days, it was comfortable enough for me to decompress and get a good meal.

Food Porn after the jump!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Red Rooster Harlem: Don't worry, the 125th subway stop is right there

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: You know Harlem ain't hood no more when Martha Stewart rolls up to the Red Rooster. 

The first time I went to Harlem was back in senior year of college and it was during NJ free transit week. My roommate and I were watching The Food Network and something about Chicken and Waffles came on. We both never had Chicken and Waffles and not having real responsibilities, in the middle of the week at 9 at night we decided to go on an adventure and get Chicken and Waffles at Amy Ruth’s. Imagine two Asian kids venturing into Harlem and we were by far the whitest people in the restaurant and the 116th street stop. Harlem still had that aurora of being “hood” and not the best place for 2 Asian kids to be venturing into late at night. Couple of chicken and waffles and years later, I headed back to Harlem to try out Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster to find that there was actual white people there, a lot of them and when Martha Stewart rolls up, this officially marks (for me at least) Harlem as changed. Although she does not have any street cred, going to jail does not count (she went to like safe white collar jail!) she does walk in with a whole lot of swagger!
Marcus Samuelsson is like the culinary equivalent of Justin Bieber minus the underage fans, being Canadian and not looking like a pre-pubescent lesbian (I also believe that there is not disease or a fever that can be attributed to Marcus, but this cannot be confirmed). It comes to no surprise that Red Rooster, his newest venture has gotten a lot of buzz and everyone is heading way uptown to try it out. The food at Red Rooster is a copy of Samuelsson in which it has North African (he is Ethiopian), Swedish (adopted by Swedes) influences and southern comfort food (he is in Harlem). Given that our fair President just dined at this establishment a couple of days ago with guest for a dinner costing about 30,000 big ones, I ventured out here to see what 30,000 dollars looked like and tasted like. 
 I do not usually go into the whole décor and vibe of the place but it is worth noting at Red Rooster. The restaurant fits right into the neighborhood like a snuggie on a cat lady. It feels as if the restaurant has been there just as long as Sylvia’s, which a couple of doors down from the Red Rooster. The dining room is a bit small but the high ceilings and open kitchen neutralized the tight feeling and the art and the graffiti on the walls made it feel sheek and modern without overwhelming you or feeling that you left your shutter shades at home. The crowd is worth noting and it felt like that the people eating here got lost on the way to a Danny Meyers restaurant. 
Food After the Jump!