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August 19, 2009

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Biggie Ate Sardines Too

April 9, 2008

Born sinner, the opposite of a winner
Remember when I used to eat sardines for dinner
Juicy, Notorious B.I.G.

Canned fish is really bizarre concept and I understand how people are weirded out by it. But seriously, I have an obsession with it. It tastes good, it’s good FOR you, and it’s so cheap.

Vinka, who works in our finance department always brings this awesome can of sardines that she opens during lunch to add to her salads and what-nots. I was always curious cause I never branched out into the world of canned sardines, and I would always ask her about it. The other week she brought one in for me! Yes, everyone at work supports my eating habits.

It’s packed in vegetable oil, and is from the Adriatic Sea, said the label.

So here’s what I did- I broiled asparagus, boiled potatoes, made a dressing of the fish oil left in the can with mustard and balsamic vinegar, sprinkled parsley, green onions, ground pepper and fleur de sel on top. Et voile! You got yourself a fast, vitamin-packed, cheap-o after work dinner, with enough left over for lunch the next day. Genius.

A boiled egg would have also been good, as would have some sliced red onions for color.

For an added crunch, I’m pretty into these fried onion pieces from Trader Joe’s.

Thank you Vinka for introducing me to the world of canned sardines!

In the words of Biggie, “It’s all good, baby bay-bee!”

Elizabeth Falkner’s ORSON (SF)

April 8, 2008

Orson, Pastry Chef Elizabeth Falkner’s new restaurant in San Francisco is not to be missed. The restaurant is enormous with both upstairs and downstairs dining, and her desserts exude the same sultry sexy confidence that she does. Industrial concrete, dark table cloths and chocolate colored chairs make you feel just as sleek as your surroundings. Elizabeth also owns Citizen Cake.

Invisible, created by Elizabeth and her pastry chef Luis.

Black Espresso, Black Sorbet

Downstairs Bar/ Dining Room

Upstairs Dining Room

508 4th Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

all photos © erin gleeson

Monday Night Feast

April 8, 2008

Monday is not a good day as you know. After a weekend full of fun and relaxation, you have to bring your mind to work-mode, which sucks. Annoying boss, stupid colleagues, toilet-paper-missing-toilets, too much construction noise, pressing reply-to-alls when you are bitching about the sender. Nothing works on Mondays.

Because of that, it is more important to have a delicious meal on Monday nights. Who cares about Monday night football (is this the season? Gay People don’t know anything about football). We should all cook a nice meal on Monday nights.

Last night, I was craving for mussels that I love at Markt, but didn’t feel like going to the restaurant. Also we are trying to eat healthier, hence no carb was the theme of last night. I am totally ballooning and need to cut food/booze intake in order to have a decent shape before bathing suit season starts… Alas… How can I lose weight while not cutting food or booze nor working out? Breaking up definitely is the way to go, but I am happily in a relationship…

Anyhow, my favorite mussels recipe at Markt is tomato and basil. I cooked up onion and garlic in olive oil, dump tomato and basil then added half a bottle of white wine.
I got these beautiful mussels at Lobster House in Chelsea Market, which is always a reliable fish monger. $3.25 a pound is also a sweet deal. Once I cooked up vegetables, the smell was so sweet and wonderful, I forgot to take pictures from here on. Hence all i have here is shells…. It’s kind of cute, and almost look like a dish, doesn’t it?

I was requested to make a scallop dish. My colleague Tomoko told me she had this wonderful scallop wrapped in seaweed in France. Japanese food ingredients’ power is so great that even french chefs use nori nowadays!
I didn’t have any recipe, other than the way Tomoko described how it was done. So I wrapped seaweed around a beautiful scallop, sprinkled with sea salt, put a dab of butter, then broiled it for 3 minutes.

I thought I needed some sauce, so I cooked down soy sauce, mirin, sake, sugar and ginger and squeezed some lime juice at the end to make south asian style teriyaki sauce. Seaweed was crisp when it was done, and scallops were medium rare, almost melting in my mouth. Yum yum. It kind of looks like sushi, too.

After I saw Kayoko’s post on blood oranges, I was thinking about using it for something as well. So I made mesculin salad, with juice from blood orange, champagne vinegar, honey, salt, pepper and oilve oil, then arranged orange on top. It was very springy and good.

Healthy diet costs too much money, though. Not that I need to cook scallops and mussels everyday, carb is so much more filling and cheap… I already had a rebound, had donburi and udon for lunch at Seo today….

UM Redux: Shanghai Cafe (NYC)

April 8, 2008

This post is dedicated to Tmonkey and Wong Kar-Wai.

Went to see my acupuncturist the other day in Chinatown. Dr. Wu is a miracle maker, truly, and I send everyone to him for their ailments. Migraines, bad shoulders, allergies, bad knees, insomnia– whatever you’ve got, he’ll fix it, for real.

While pinning needles into my back, he told me I think too much and I eat too much. Perhaps he’s somewhat of a prophet? Dr. Wu multi-tasks: he’s not just a certified acupuncturist, but also my therapist and nutritionist.

So what do you do when the prophet tells you you eat too much? Well, go eat, of course. As a Dr. Wu visit ritual of sorts, I walked two streets over to one of my absolute favorite restaurant in NYC. Remember Tmonkey’s awesome video from last year? He wasn’t lying, this place is THE BEST for soup dumplings.

Check out this awesome lighting! As Tmonkey said, this place has a very 2046 vibe. When I come here, I like to pretend I am Zhang Ziyi on a hot date with Tony. I won’t let you break up with me, Tony!
As soon as you sit down, order the #1 on the menu- the tiny steamed buns with crab and pork. It takes some time for these to steam, so better to order them right away to avoid drooling all over the dumplings on the table next to you. Trust me on this.
What makes these superior to other soup dumplings in the city (Grand Sichuan, Joe’s Shanghai) is that the crab does not dry out, which leaves you with a hot hot bite of fluffy, moist goodness.
Make sure to get the Shanghai Lo Mein– saucy udon-like pan fried noodles. Another favorite. I get it with shrimp and mixed meats.
Not on the menu- sauteed pea shoots. Kinda expensive at $15, but if you’re there with a few people, it’s worth it.
Our spread. For all this- 2 trays of dumplings, noodles and the pea-shoots, it was $30 maybe? They have all sorts of other Shanghainese goodies on the menu, but I usually just gorge on the soup dumplings.

Ladies making the dumplings.

Dumplings steaming behind the counter.

Is that Tony?

Shanghai Cafe
100 Mott Street
twn. Canal & Hester Streets
New York, NY

Blood Oranges Improve Quality of Life

April 7, 2008

There was a point last week when I realized that I had been out EVERY SINGLE NIGHT for 10 days straight- mostly past midnight. This means I ate out, didn’t get enough sleep, was hungover or overdosed on coffee, which resulted in bitchy, near-nervous-breakdown behavior everyday.

This sort of crazed single lifestyle (never quite “swinging” however) also means an empty refrigerator. No joke, my fridge contained only eggs and half & half for 3 weeks. It was totally depressing.

I’ve had an epiphany of sorts. I need to improve my quality of life. It’s shit right now.

So this weekend I stayed home. I watched 5 movies for work, screened my phone calls, baked bread again, and vacuumed (er, swiffered). I went out just once to pick up my dry cleaning (I had dropped it off a month ago), go to the farmer’s market and finally bought light bulbs (nothing more depressing than a half-lit apartment). It was a weekend of personal cleansing and serious down time.

Aside from a well-lit apartment and bread baking, quality of life also means squeezing your own oranges. I’ve had this awesome vintage juice squeezer that I bought in college, that has been collecting dust since moving to NY. Blood orange season started a few months ago, and I would just pass them by at the market. It was time.

They are a little pricey, I got 5 for $2, which is on the cheap side. But they are gorgeous!

From Cali. HOLLA!
Def bloody.

My juicer! It’s Umami Mart green, and I’ve had him for 8 years. I’m sorry I neglected him for so long.
3 oranges yields only this much juice, but is a good amount for me. Blood oranges are significantly sweeter, with a tart finish.

What does one do with the rind? It was so sad to just throw these out.
Blood oranges remind me of Italy. I remember buying them at the market when I lived there and squeezing them every morning. Happy memories. They even sell blood orange juice in the grocery stores there- Matt was obsessed with this stuff when we went in October. Yes, he even took this picture.

There’s something so gratifying about squeezing your own oranges rather than pouring it from a carton though. It’s a soul-pleaser. Blood orange season is going to end at any moment now, but I’m determined to always have oranges in my fridge now to remind me to stop, slow down, squeeze, and enjoy life a little more. OMG that is so cheesy.

Fridgin’ Out: Gay People

April 4, 2008

Editor’s Note: This post was conceived and written by Yamahomo in response to Fridgin’ Out: Married People. It’s an exclusive sneak peak into the fridge of Gay People. Enjoy!

Yamahomo lives in West Chelsea, on Super Starchitect row (19th St). Cameron Diaz might buy one of the penthouses in my building. Lucky me. Although there was a shooting right outside the apartment last week, it is becoming a VERY hot neighborhood. We don’t have Central Park to walk the dog, or go for a jog, but we have the gallery district right on 10th Avenue, plus soon, there will be the High Line, the fake park that is perfect for fake people like us Gay People.

Gay People are usually highly style-oriented, and appearance counts the most as you can see from the 8th avenue (b/w 14th and 23rd Street) crowd. They might not have any brains, but they put themselves together very nicely.

Having said that, Gay People’s fridges usually doesn’t look like one. It’s all blended in as part of the kitchen. Or the kitchen doesn’t even look like a kitchen. In my case, the kitchen is part of living room. Even if Gay People don’t use their fridge other than to store water and booze, it must be a Sub Zero or Wolf, with custom panels on front to make the blending effect perfect.

Gay People might wear $400 cashmere sweaters, but with a $5 torn T-shirt from K-Mart underneath. This fridge looks like this. This was taken right after a party, hence not much real food inside and filled with left over liquid items. Unlike Married People in Upper West Side, Gay People in West Chelsea have great shopping places, such as Fruit Exchange, Buon Italia, and other various bakeries at the Chelsea Market, where I stop by on my way home from work. Stocking up doesn’t usually happen. Vegetables and meats are purchased and used on the same day.
Unlike other Gay People’s fridge, mine is filled with stuff. From Hoison sauce, low fat mayo, to various Asian ingredients reflecting Yamahomo’s heritage.
Gay People drink the best vodka. Belvedere is the best. Unlike non-cooking Gay People, I have cooking sake, vinegar and other homey items next to the gay vodka. This makes a huge difference in Gay People’s fridges.
Aside from vodka, Gay People never lack chilled wines in the fridge. After happy hour at one of the bars in the neighborhood, Gay People keep on partying, where people can enjoy chilled wine, fruity cocktails or martinis. Discard Skyy vodka on the left. Someone brought it to a party. Low class vodka… Gay People don’t drink beer since it’s too fatty, hence there aren’t any chilled beer glasses either.
Gay people often times use non-“made from scratch” items, such as this chicken tikka masala sauce (on the left). However, creative Yamahomo marinated chicken wings with the sauce, mixed with yogurt, and baked until done. Healthy chicken wings for Gay People. Side note: I cannot live without diet coke. I know it’s unhealthy, and un-gay-like, but I need it when I wake up in the morning. I like coffee too, but it takes too long to wait for coffee and diet coke is my wake up drink.
Yamahomo keeps some weird jars in the fridge. This is stem gingers in sugar syrup. Instead of crystal ginger, it gives a sweeter and more moist texture to cake bakings. This was given to me from a friend who is from London. She is moving back and I went to her apartment and collected items I wanted. She knows I am the only one who would appreciate weird food items, so she gave me Goji berries, disposable paper cups to bake muffins, half used olive oil among others. Yamahomo can be a frugal gay.

Gay People keep their eggs in Sub Zero branded egg container.

Gay People’s freezer is a bit messy. It’s the same concept as wearing an expensive coat out, but their inner self is a mess full of issues, from depression to psycosis. I know you spot Friday’s artichoke dip, and I have to admit I bought this drunk, and had a last minute get together and didn’t have enough time to prepare everything. I like drawer freezers. It’s so much easier to look for items, especially things that have been frozen for who knows how long.
Us puffs like puffy pastries. I always keep puff pastry, as well as filo dough in freezer. You can make easy appetizers that looks and taste like “wow”.

Gay people only drink expensive coffee, hence Kona is stored in the freezer. Like tea, someone told me it keeps fresh being stored in the freezer, and I follow it… Any scientific proof for this?
Gay people usually don’t eat dessert because it’s too fatty. We have to watch our figures to be able to fit into skin tight T-shirts and jeans. However, when we do eat dessert, we buy the good shit. This is pistachio gelato from Buon Italia. It is freakin $14 a container, yet, this is the best shit. They have various flavors, and my fav is this and green apple sorbet. Sorbet, since there is no milk in it, is only $8 something, and all are made in Italy. Gay people are suckers for “Made in Italy”.

Gay people MUST have plenty of ice cubes for martinis, mix drinks, and other fruity drinks. Automatic ice maker definitely makes our lives better.

Gay people usually throw out ripened bananas, but Yamahomo is domesticated enough to keep it for emergency banana nut bread baking when we get invited to a cocktail party at the last minute.

Gay Jap keeps inari sushi (tofu skin cooked in sweet soy sauce) skins for Asian-flavored parties.
Final note: Gay People’s fridges are just as normal as straight ones.

*What’s in your fridge? Send pics to umamimart@gmail.com. Check out all the Fridgin’ Out posts here. Come back every Friday to see all the scary shit we find in these dungeons of moldy condiments.

umamichatter: Rose Water Restaurant (NYC)

April 3, 2008

Larry works in publishing, and has lived in Park Slope in Brooklyn for the last few years. Had I known him back when I lived in the Slop (as I call it), I may have not moved out.

Ok no, I still would have. You see, the Slop, at least 7th Ave, is now barfbag yuppie central- lots of stroller rage, desolate by 10pm (except for the bars overcrowded with people who play professional frisbee), lots of brunch spots. You know what I’m talking about. Fucking brunch! Don’t even get me started.

But I will say that the Slop probably has one of the better, more quality restaurant communities in the city. Blue Ribbon, Al Di La, Flatbush Farm, blah blah.

Last week, Larry went to Rose Water on Union Street. Here’s his evaluation. Sorry, no pictures. Yes, Larry’s real name is “Lawrence”- Larry lives below 5th Ave, which makes him Marginal Slop Fringe, and much cooler in my eyes. Love ya, Lar.

Lawrence: i ate at rose water in park slope for restaurant week

me: oh wow i haven’t heard of that
how was it
what kind of food?
11:40 PM Lawrence: new american
the appetizers and the entree were okay.
but i was really wowed by the dessert
11:41 PM me: oh tell me more
what did you order
11:42 PM Lawrence: i just started with a salad.
me: go on
11:43 PM Lawrence: just a sec. i should look up the menu for a refresher.
me: ha
i like your style
11:45 PM Lawrence: ok. i started with the market baby greens and herbs.
11:46 PM boring, right? but i just came from the gym and was feeling like starting off light.
me: ha
it’s ok
i feel you
11:47 PM then whaddya get
Lawrence: then i got the “roast chicken under a brick”
me: wow lar, sounds kinda boring
how was it?
11:48 PM under a brick???
Lawrence: ha!
me: what does that even MEAN?
Lawrence: i think that it gets roasted with a brick on top of it.
11:49 PM me: oh, ok, that sounds kinda neat
what did it taste like though
Lawrence: it was pretty good.
11:50 PM me: was it marinated?
Lawrence: it was spiced up. i was like a fancier version of the rotisserie chicken you get at the supermarket.
11:51 PM me: hm yeah
Lawrence: there were turnips and onions involved.
me: typical restaurant chicken
nicely cooked?
i feel like restaurants never get vegetables right
at least roasted ones
Lawrence: it was. the meat was pretty tender and flavorful.
me: good good
11:52 PM ok now dessert
Lawrence: for dessert, i had the caramelized brioche.
11:53 PM it was really tasty.
me: i hope that came with ice cream?
Lawrence: yes, caramel ice cream.
me: ooooh
11:54 PM Lawrence: it was nice and flaky on the inside and but was all sugary and gooey on the outside.
me: droool
another thing that places don’t do right
Lawrence: i normally don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but i really enjoyed it
me: nice you found a good one
11:55 PM Lawrence: i also tried my friends cornmeal apricot cookie sandwiches for dessert
11:56 PM me: dude that sounds AWESOME
how was that?
Lawrence: i think i enjoyed that just as much
11:57 PM fresh apricots squeezed between two homemade cookies
me: OMG
with ice cream?
Lawrence: served with almond milk for dipping.
11:58 PM that sounds so great
apricots are totally my favorite
Lawrence: you would really love it then
me: apricots, apricot jam, dried apricots
poached apricots, apricot yogurt
11:59 PM but apricots stuffed in a cookie with dipping sauce?
dude i am so there.
ok now
interior? service?
12:00 AM Lawrence: the decor was nice. they’re going for the cottagey look, i think.
12:01 AM me: ah
Lawrence: it’s not a very big space, but i felt very comfortable.
me: the fucking cottagey look!
applewood, gramercy tavern…
Lawrence: i know — so typical park slope
me: for the love of god!
Lawrence: we had very good service as well.
me: total after tip?
12:02 AM Lawrence: well, since it was restaurant week the prix fixe was $23
plus $8 for my share of the wine
12:03 AM plus tip comes to $38
me: for a bite of the apricot cookie
so worth it

Thanks for a great report Larry! Make sure to check out Larry’s website, The Larry Page, where he obsessively orders and reorders his top 100 films and albums of all time. The lists are dizzyingly comprehensive- but the boy has good taste (Prince is a Gold Inductee in The Larry Page Hall of Fame!)

Rose Water Restaurant
787 Union Street

Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY
T: 718.783.3800

Tomales Bay Oyster Company

April 3, 2008

My buddy Ray recently had his birthday gathering at Tomales Bay Oyster Company. It was genius. We headed north from SF over the Golden Gate and about another hour and a half on highway 1 winding through Stenson Beach to Tomales Bay. The place is simple. They sell super fresh oysters from a stand and have grills and picnic tables scattered about overlooking the bay.

Everyone brought great beer, wine, food for the grill, and fixings for the oysters. With an unlimited supply of amazing oysters and a variety of different ingredients lying around people got really creative. It was like a burger bar for oysters. We ate them raw, in many different sauces, wrapped them in bacon and grilled them, bbq’ed them whole on the grill, and the list goes on and on. If I were not busy shucking the whole time I would have more pictures to show for it…

Oysters fresh from the bay:

We all got better at shucking:

Ray shuckin’ his 5000th oyster:

Oysters on a half shell:

Oysters and Ribs on the grill:

Bay and other oyster fans:

It was the perfect day. I never thought I could eat that many oysters in one sitting, but I still didn’t leave without bringing another dozen home. It was such a satisfying day that every time I notice the scars that are still on my hands from shucking, I daydream about oysters, bbq, and beer at Tomales Bay…

– CJ

Tomales Bay Oyster Company

15479 Highway One
Marshall, CA
T: 415.663.1242

Batch & P*ONG (NYC)

April 2, 2008

Everything about Batch, Pichet Ong’s new bakery on West 10th Street, is just as lovely, adorable and amazing as he is. Pink walls, yellow peonies and eclectic hand crafted chandeliers made me almost as happy to be there as the first bite of chewy crunchy peanut butter cookie right out of the oven. Then came the chocolate chip cookies- crisp and buttery on the edges, warm and gooey in the middle. To die for!

I think my favorite, though, was the walnut melt- a bite sized cookie dusted with powdered sugar similar to a mexican wedding cookie (however, the Vietnamese coffee cake with icing was a close runner up). Coconut Raspberry Green Tea Cupcakes also looked tempting. I have to go back to try more!

The coffee was great, and was served with thick and creamy half-n-half in a glass bottle that came from Manhattan Milk & Dairy, organically produced in the Amish country. If you’re into foie gras, you can get your puppy a foie gras dog biscuit, and then go next door to P*ONG and get your self a foie gras taco.

Batch, which opened last week, is next door to Pichet’s restaurant P*ONG in Greenwich Village.

Pichet’s friend Gary works in the front and Betty is the baker

Gary talking to my friend, chef Tessa Liebman

Pichet behind the counter

Here are some other delicacies I recently photographed at P*ONG.

all photos © erin gleeson

Batch & P*ONG | 150 West 10th street new york ny 10014
T 212 929 0898 | Batch closed Mondays