Archive for October, 2007

3 days of Rickshaw Dumpling

October 30, 2007
(sorry for the really bad cell phone pics and sorry, Kayoko, this took me 2 months to finally post)

Back in AUGUST, I took the most boring class ever for 3 days straight – my instructor wore a piano tie on the first day. Rickshaw Dumpling was literally on the same block where I was taking the course (it’s on W. 23rd and they also just opened in the NYU area).

So, of course, i hit it up for lunch every day and here’s what I got;

Day one (pics 1 and 2): Steamed Szechaun Chicken dumplings with chili and white soy bean and chili-soy dipping suace and watermelonade.
These dumplings were my favorite – if I went back, I’d get these fried in the noodle soup (there are 6 types of dumplings, and you can either get them plain (steamed or fried), in a salad or in a noodle soup – each dumpling type has its corresponding salad and soup type). These were nice and spicy. The watermelon drink was really refreshing.

Day Two, I got Classic Pork & Chinese Chive dumplings in clear soup (with greens, beansprouts, scallions & fresh shanghai noodles). Noodles were great, dumplings ok.

Day 3 (last picture) was Chicken & Thai Basil dumplings in peanut sate soup (with green coconut, cucumber, lime & fresh shanghai noodles). Again, great noodles but if I went back, I’d see if I could get the Szechaun Chicken dumplings in this soup. Peanut flavors were great!

If you are in the area, this is a great place for a light lunch or snack. I’ll definitely be going back!

Mangiamo 2007!: 24 Hours in Madrid

October 30, 2007

Stopped off in Madrid for one night to see my dear friends Marta and Jose. Marta and I lived together in Padova, and she’s like a sister to me.

But first, let’s talk airplane food. I took Iberia both back and forth from NY, and here are just some few points of why non-US airlines are better than American ones:
– Food generally taste better
– All you can drink booze– American airlines make you pay $5+, even on international flights now. You’re so screwed if you have to go to Australia or somewhere really far away!
– Real silverware

I got all these three things with my meal, which consisted of a chicken curry, spinach and rice. The tomato, grilled zucchini and mozzarella starter was really good (the cheese was excellent), as was the cheesecake-like dessert.

And do you see that? REAL SILVERWARE!!! Makes a HUGE difference, as I can’t stand plastic utensils. And yes, I’m one of those people with a growing personal collection of airline silverware. I’m partial to the design.

And let me say that in those 7 hours, they fed us not once, but twice!! Dinner and breakfast– pretty nutty.

A mere 7 hours after leaving JFK, I arrived in Madrid barely having slept at all. Here’s the new terminal at Barajas airport– it’s pretty neat.

I basically slept all day– which is sorta horrible, but Marta summoned me to rest up cause we would be going out that night (in Spain, that means until dawn). When I woke up, Jose took me around their neighborhood in Madrid– a really cute area which reminded me of Park Slope.

The bakery:

The “alimentacion”, which sells anything from basic groceries to toilet paper. This one specialized in jamon and other yummy pork products–there is nothing in the world I love more than cured meats hanging front he ceiling. If I ever open a restaurant, I think I’d call it the Jamoneria.

Went into an indoor market, which was like Chelsea Market or Essex Street Market, with different vendors selling all sorts of food stuffs under one roof.

Like the Jamon Man- they slice each piece by hand! I bet this one was jamon Iberico– which you still can’t get in the States, I don’t think– and is far superior to Italian prociutto, in my humble opinion.


Seafood- these were weird little claw-like mirugai-like things that intrigued me:

HUGE prawns!
The supermarket, which locks up their precious cans of tuna (strange) and liquor (makes sense):

Dinner time- a nice restaurant in Madrid, Los Timbales, specializing in excellent Spanish cuisine.

Check out this beautiful cured meat plate! Drool Heaven! Jamon, chorizon, salsichon, lomo… and queso!

I forgot to take pictures, but we also had this incredible octopus dish, broiled on a wooden plank with potatoes.

Ah, Spain… after dinner we did indeed stay out all night drinking and smoking (INSIDE the bars!). No more smoking in restaurants and bars in Italy- which made me sad.

Feta Ice Cream with Watermelon Granita

October 29, 2007

Recipe and Food Styling by Tessa Liebman
Photography by Erin Gleeson

Martha is Coming to Japan Society

October 25, 2007
This is a paid advertisement, or not.

Japan Society is holding a program on 11/14 titled “Martha Stewart: A Passion for Making a Home“. This program is held in conjunction with our current exhibition Making a Home: Japanese Contemporary Artists in New York.

From cooking, gardening and entertaining to interior design and home decorating, Martha Stewart has made a career of helping people make their own style of living more beautiful and practical. Stewart has transformed the once utilitarian and mundane realm of home making into an art form and her dedication to making homes across the world sanctuaries of the highest aesthetic order is legendary. In this program, Stewart speaks about her life-long passion for “making a house a home” and about her interest in Japan and Japanese art and art forms. Followed by a reception.

$20/$15 Japan Society members, $12 seniors & students
Buy tickets at or box office at 212-715-1258.

I had a dream last night that Martha and I became close friends. She was actually a very nice person in my dream. Come listen to her on 11/14!

Woman in the Kitchen– HOLLA!

October 24, 2007

Pretty great homage to 6 female chefs working in some of NY’s busiest restaurants in this week’s NY Mag. Give it a whirl– it’s laid out as a roundtable discussion, tackling themes of undying sexism in professional kitchens, Top Chef conspiracies, and how women just cook better than men. Must this be a war between the sexes? Until I can rattle off the names of 5 female chefs off the top of my head– YES.

Italy and the Mediterranean Diet: Food Culture, Nutrition and the Question of Quality

October 23, 2007

Last Friday, I photographed a panel sponsored by the James Beard Foundation and the NYU Food Studies program at the Casa Italiana in the West Village. It was part of a 2 day international conference called Italy and the Mediterranean Diet: Food Culture, Nutrition and the Question of Quality.

One panel that really struck my interest was made up of Lidia Bastianach (Food Network personality and cookbook author), Maria Guarnaschelli (renowned cookbook editor), Anna Teresa Callan (Author, My Love for Naples), and Fabio Parasecoli, (Gambero Rosso Magazine). This group spoke about the authenticity of Italian food in America and how the translation of recipes from Italy to the U.S. by immigrants and fusion foodies defines what Italian food has become today.

If a family in Italy in the 1940s substituted lard in a recipe traditionally made with butter because that’s all they could afford, and that recipe got passed down through the generations, can it still be considered an authentic Italian dish? If a hot shot contemporary chef puts kiwi on a pizza at his Italian restaurant, can it still really be considered Italian?

Years ago when immigrants were bringing Italian food to the U.S., many essential ingredients needed for traditional dishes were not available so substitutions were made. Today, many of those ingredients are available, but recipes have been shifted so much throughout the years that it is perhaps hard to revert back to traditional recipes. When writing Italian cookbooks for an American audience, these elements must be considered. Americans have a certain expectation for Italian food and they are used to it being prepared in a certain way. My Californian mother could never get over the fish heads that kept reappearing on her plate every time she ordered seafood while visiting the Amalfi Coast. Does presentation, then, also determine the authenticity of an Italian dish?

An Italian wine tasting followed the panel.

For more information on this panel, please click here.

Pucchin Purin – Japanese Flan

October 23, 2007

Sometimes I crave for certain food I had growing up, and pucchin purin is definitely one of them. In this day and age, almost all the good stuff from Japan are available in New York, but for some reason certain items such as pucchin purin isn’t one of them. Many people say they like dense baked purin from Molosof or other high end desert brand, but I am strictly pucchin purin kind of guy. I love its fake flavor, totally too heavy on vanilla extract to cover other chemical flavor. But I don’t know why we can’t get it in this country. I gotta look into some FDA regulation about importing dairy products. It must be some weird rule this country imposes on foreign stuff since they know Japanese dairy products are far better than the ones here.

Pucchin Purin is basically flan, or creme brulee, but it has a peculiar texture. It’s very jelly like, and very light despite it contains milk and eggs. It’s jelly like because it contains gelatin, hence no baking.

This image looks just like a flan (also a bad picture), but it’s a lot closer to pucchin purin, yet still too hard to be regarded pucchin purin. It is rather bucchin burin. There are a lot of difference between p and b. I will try using less gelatin next time. Here is the recipe.

  • 400 ml milk
  • 40 g sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 packet of gelatin (or some experimentation is needed)
  • vanilla extract

That’s it! Mix sugar and gelatin, pour in milk. In a separate bowl, mix egg with a bit of milk mixture, combine everything, add vanilla. Put them under low heat, but make sure it doesn’t boil. Meanwhile make the caramel sauce by melting (or burning) sugar and a bit of water, pour it on the bottom of the ramekin or whatever the container you are using, then cool it. Pour milk mixture slowly on caramel, so that you won’t mix up caramel with custard. Chill them until it shakes like bouncy boobs.

Having said that it shakes like boobs, I wonder why we love this desert. Is it because this reminds us of mother? I wonder………

Probability Out of 10 I Will Eat this Animal Again

October 23, 2007

After hearing this NPR story about the last horse slaughterhouse in the US closing, I thought to myself ARE there such things as horse slaughterhouses in the US? Growing up in California, certain animals seem to be OFF limits, meaning, animals included in “Save the insert animal – usually a mammal with pretty eyes – here” series. In the 80s we saw “Save the Whales”, “Save the Manatees” and “Save the Sea Turtles” to name a few. Anyone caught killing these animals were seen as individuals equally appalling to those listed on the National Sex Offender Registry.

Of course, I am not advocating the clubbing or the brutal treatment of any animal (and my diet rarely consists of animals with legs), but my eyes have been opened to just how brainwashed I was as a westerner. Take eating whale, for example, as an American, this is atrocious and barbaric – insensitivity and carelessness rated on a high scale.

Yet, after living in a country that has been eating whale for thousands upon thousands of years, it doesn’t look as reckless. Something like the headline “Japan and Iceland refuse to give up their right to eat whale,” makes the people of these two countries look like ravenous killers who indulge in unnecessarily gluttonous practices. When in fact, communities have depended on the industry of whaling for thousands of years, and if they had been oblivious to the currents, migrations and breeding patterns of the whales, they’da been gone way before America was there to school the world.

That said, this might just be my argument for feeling better about eating the following foods I would probably never get to eat in America (or announce that I did too loudly in America, especially California):

Kujira – Whale (barbequed whale-steak on a grill)
Setting: Last Saturday at a outdoor BBQ for a friend’s birthday in Shimokitazawa, brought by my Icelandic friend Arnar.

Verdict: Like a perfect combination of T-bone steak and lamb. There was definitely a gamey essence to it – perhaps an aftertaste of grass or some kind of ruffage.

Probability out of 10 I will eat this animal again: 10, the first taste sparked my interest in trying whale prepared in different ways.

Basashi – Horse sashimi (thinly sliced raw horse meat)
Setting: Town izakaya during a festival in Koenji, ordered because my friend Kishi visiting from SF, had one thing on his list of things to do in Tokyo – eat horse.

Verdict: Quite heavenly – like sashimi in 4 dimensions. Again, it gives off a gamey scent that I can’t quite pin point.

Probability out of 10 I will eat this animal again: 8, I wouldn’t order it – it’s actually quite delicious but it’s a bit intense psychologically. However, it’s probably gonna be hard to avoid given that this is pretty common most Japanese-style restaurants.

Suppon – Snapping turtle soup
Setting: Chinese restaurant in Hatagaya. I reviewed this visit here

Verdict: A bit too knuckly for my taste and the meat was extra chewy and dense. I was told it’s good for you when you get sick and I believe that.

Probability out of 10 I will eat this animal again: 3, I am not into knuckly things. I would however, happily indulge in Suppon broth.

Judging by how exciting these culinary delights were, I hope this list grows…

Saucing Pasta

October 18, 2007

There seems to be a war brewing (and if there isn’t I’ll gladly be the instigator). In one corner, we have Mario Batali, holding down the traditional Italian line that Americans drown their pasta in too much sauce, and in the other, Mark Bittman, who asserts that, Poppycock! that’s an old way of thinking, coming from the days when Italians were too poor to drown their pasta in sauce (I love the image of a family hanging up a herring and each member of the family taking turns rubbing their piece of bread on it for flavor).

I must admit, Bittman has a point (though I’d scarf down Batali’s pasta anyday over Bittman’s fairly lame-looking butternut squash and tomato dish). Do we need all those carbs? Shouldn’t we be eating more veggies rather than less? I also recently read in The Paleolithic Diet (I like any proof that eating meat is good for you) that uncooked flour (ie, al dente) is “poisonous.”

I also appreciate Batali’s position from a cultural standpoint: the Italians are probably referring to the fact that most people in America a) overcook their pasta and b) drown it in Chef Boyardee, Ragu, or even Classico (which was my fave back in the day), ie, sauces from a jar. Not a good look. Or taste.

So…are you ready for a revolution? Are you ready to have some pasta with your sauce?

The 5 P’s

October 10, 2007

Off to glorious Italia for 10 days! Stopping off in Madrid for a night, then heading to Siena for my friend Leslie’s wedding, then Assisi for one night to check out the cathedral, then down to Roma for 5 nights where we got an apartment in Trastevere (cross my fingers it’s not a scam!).

Will stuff my face with between Caravaggio and Bernini pit stops.

Excuse the hiatus! Erin is coming too, so you won’t see her awesome photos for a little while (a picture she took of the Four Seasons just made it into AMNY!). Er, Leslie and I lived in Italy together years ago, so this will be a very special reunion.

Armed with my new camera, I will surely be taking lots of pictures of food for UM. The 5 P’s will rule my universe for the next week and a half, and damn straight you’ll know about it: Pizza, Prociutto, Pasta, Pepperoncini, and Porcini.

Don’t cry for me! I’ll be back! Ci sentiamo.