Archive for the ‘*kanshefle’ Category

Top 5 Food Moments of 2007

December 24, 2007

Manolha Dargis says (in her own top 10 list of films of the year), “Top 10 lists are artificial exercizes, assertions of critical ego, capricious and necssarily imperfect.” Well, how about a Top 5? Can that be any more meaningful?

Sure, why not– I think that Top lists are a fun way to exercize your brain, reaching back into the crevices of your memory to sift through the last 365 days. It’s pretty incredible actually– in terms of food, the possiblilities are endless. I asked UM contributors to send over their Top 5 Food Moments of 2007, where anything goes– meals, restaurants, kitchen accessories, ingredients, books, films– essentially, whatever they wanted to include (whether they had blogged it or not). I assure you that this is no easy task, but here they are.

1. Alan Wong’s 7 course tasting menu with wine pairing (is there even any doubt that this was the meal of the year???)
2. Chez Panisse kitchen tour
3. Draeger’s Cooking School!
4. United States of Arugula (so what if it was published in 2006)
5. Bodum Assam glasses (A housewarming gift from Kayoko, great for everything from coffee to ice cream)
The Top 5
5. Hudson Valley tomatoes.
4. Macallan 25.
3. Leeks.
2. The lunchtime burger at Prune.
1. Everything at Laduree.

The Bottom 5
5. That asshole waitress at Sushi Yasuda who browbeat my mother.
4. That asshole waitress at Sushi Yasuda who browbeat my mother.
3. That asshole waitress at Sushi Yasuda who browbeat my mother.
2. That asshole waitress at Sushi Yasuda who browbeat my mother.
1. That asshole waitress at Sushi Yasuda who browbeat my mother.

1. The Next Food Network Star (Season 3) – the surprising last-minute resignation of JAG, and the upset victory of Amy over Rory. this was truly must-see tv.

2. The rise of the “localvore” / eating locally.
3. Stacy’s pesto and sun-dried tomato pita chips – not sure when they came out, but in 2007 I began eating an entire bag everyday.
4. My dinner at Brown cafe, which included the best wine I’ve had all year: 2004 Castello della Paneretta Chianti Classico.
5. Jonathan Gold’s Pulitzer Prize – the first time the prize has been given to a restaurant critic

1. Spicy Mina
2. Sushi of Gari Omakase w/ dad
3. Wu Liang Ye’s Double Cooked Fresh Bacon ** With Spicy Capsicum
4. Go Go Curry w/ Mel & Kakabori
5. Spicy & Tasty Dan Dan Noodles & Sauteed Pork

1. Green tea chocolates from Tafu
2. Republic of Tea Wild Blueberry Black Tea
3. Konbini on 47th
4. Watermelon flavored hi-chew
5. Mochi Maker!!!!

OK the thing about me is that I am not just interested in the moment of consumption, but the process of getting there, and the event of the eating. I went to a lot of fancy restaurants, oyster bars and the like this year, but in the end, they don’t make a lasting impression on the heart stomach. So I would say my top five most memorable food experiences of 2007 were:

5. What about those awesome lunches at work, the series of home-cooked lunches made by JS co-workers, from Yamahomo’s beef tongue stew, to Futoshi’s curry, and my own Yum Woon Sen! Loved the sharing atmosphere and cut down on lunch costs too!

4. Oh wow definitely the Umamiventure to the Red Hook Ball Fields. That was hella fun NY summer activity! So much to experience, so many different foods, so many fun people, the great weather, the soccer, awesome times.

3. BEST RESTAURANT of the year for me was Aurora in Williamsburg. I went there this year for the first time, after hearing about it from others and it was amazing. Beautiful space, especially if you get the garden during the warmer months, nice rich wood interior and reasonable prices for delicious foods: octopus, hand-made pastas. A very close second would be Cafe Falai on Bowery. Loved the menus in the envelopes. yum yum yum.

2. Tmonkey and I did a colon cleanse together in the autumn, as our romantic activity. We kept track of our bowel movements and physical changes down to the finest details and shared these with each other. It was a fascinating process of fasting that stripped down the cycle of appetite -> consumption –> digestion, and realized that so much of what we experience as hunger is psychological. After 5 days of fasting my skin was clear and beautiful and I felt terrific – AND amazing things had come out of my body. O Boy. I also learned that what is as important as the fasting is how your BREAK the fast. I f*cked this up royally, but will make sure to pay more attention to this when I do the 10-day fast in the spring.

1. Helping to create and eating the ultra-thin million layered lasagna made by my dearest Tmonkey — just divine!!! Kayo was there too!

5. Mozza, Batali’s new eatery in LA. Went out to LA on business, had a friend whose boyfriend was the bartender there, and thus got the royal treatment. Incredible grilled octopus. Amazing amaro tasting flights at the end, free because amaro is apparently not legal in the states.

4. There’s nothing scientific about my selection methodology for this btw — I’m just picking food moments that actually lodged themselves in my brain. One of these moments was when I was in Guadalajara last month, my friends there took me to an open market (well it was covered with a roof, like Essex Market) and sat down at this stand where this young guy was cooking up a storm and I asked him what I should order, what their specialty was, and he hooked me up with this dish called “chafaldrana”, which was basically this seafood quick stew (tomato based) with tilapia (I think), octopus, scallops, and shrimp served with rice, onions, slices of tomatoes, tortillas, and these cute little mini-avocados. It was made “a la minute” right in front of me. I got it on tape — will upload pics and vid soon. Amazingly fresh and delightful.

3. Thousand Layer Lasagne: I was inspired by the recipe on to make this lasagne which requires you to roll out fresh egg pasta dough into incredibly thin layer. I usually don’t make recipes like this (which warn you that a super-herculean effort is required) sight unseen, but Aya made me do it. Actually it turned out to be pretty fantastic, but I’m wondering how much of it was because of the incredible amount of blood, sweat and tears that went into the making of it. I think you can taste those things.

2. Another Mexico moment: I was in Jalisco, the state where Tequila comes from. It was a few hours from the Pacific coast, and my friends took me to a lake called Santa Maria de Oro, which was surrounded by mountains on all sides. There was a lone restaurant at the base of the lake, and pretty much the only thing they served was chicharrón de pescado, which is basically fried fish, which I presumed to be from the lake itself. It came with a pink-ish colored mayonnaise, cucumbers and tomatoes, and tortillas, which made me realize of course, that these were actually fish tacos!!! Amazing ones, at that. Again, I’m sure the ambience had something to do with my memory of this — perfect 80 degree weather, eating them after I had kayaked out to the middle of the lake and swum in the perfectly warm, clean water. Yeah…

1. When Aya and I were doing our week-long colon cleanse, I experienced delusional hunger pangs, fantasizing about various random foods (the most hilarious was when we were in the subway standing next to a dumb Arnold’s bread ad with a ham sandwich and Aya looked at me and intoned with a zombie-voice, “Ham sandwich….”), but near the end I couldn’t get my mind off Franny’s wood-fired oven pizza. So the first real meal we had after coming off of the cleanse was there, and chalk it up to delayed gratification and wish fulfillment, but damn if we didn’t have a bacchanalia that night (grilled octopus, sausage pizza, orichiette, and for dessert…ANOTHER pizza — our waitron did a double take when we ordered that one). I count that as a double dinner, and any double dinner should be memorialized in my book.

1. Dinner at the Core Club prepared by Dan Kluger and pastry chef Rob Fitzhenry

2. Dinner on the house at Maremma, courtesy of the amazing and wonderful Cesare Casella.
3. Olive oil bon-bons at the James Beard Awards

4. Cooking Thanksgiving dinner in Santa Barbara in Aunt Janet’s ocean front kitchen.
5. My 1st shoot for the NY Times Dining section, The Kingswood restaurant, NYC.

Runners Up:
– Wylie Dufresne’s presentation at the Star Chef’s Congress, NYC.
– Blueberry picking in Vermont
– Jack’s Saturday morning brunch while listening to “This American Life” (below)

1. Sripraphai Umamiventure, all the way. Those drunken noodles were just out of this world, and I still dream of the fried watercress salad. Tmonkey and Ayagwa’s inspiring video immortalized the meal perfectly. It was one of those amazing meals where every single one of our 10 or so dishes were delicious, and, despite the fact that many people were meeting for the first time, we all left feeling as we were eternally connected through this one meal. Now THAT is the power of a good meal.

2. My meal at Taverna dei Consoli trattoria in Assisi, Italy. I was alone in the city for a night, and the hotel man recommended the place in the piazza. I never did figure out if this joint was what he was talking about, but it’s where I ended up and had the best dinner of my trip. They were about to close up shop but they indulged my hunger anyway. Fresh pasta with porcini mushrooms and a pork chop in a balsamic and prune reduction. Ooh la la. I went back for lunch the next day and had the same! This year, I learned to appreciate eating out alone, which is something I never did before. There’s something really meditative about it.
3. Lunch with Jose, Marta and her family at her apartment in Madrid. Nothing like Spanish homecooking— albondigas and boquerones filled with love.
4. Introduction to Shanghai Cafe by Tmonkey. It was love at first bite. Cravings for these incredible soup dumplings haunt me at all hours of the day– their steam, their scent, the marriage between crab and pork dipped in a vinigary concoction (the key: the crab does not dry out the way they do at Joe’s Shanghai, or any other “venerable” soup dumpling establishment). My dream meal is an order of the dumplings, and their lo mein, which are really thick udon-like noodles. It is by far the restaurant I frequented the most this year.

5. My chicken bag!

Runners up:
– The secret sea side shack Ayagwa introduced me to at Rockaway Beach
– Fresh northwest oysters and the cute bartender at the Seattle Airport
– The sardines from Don Quixote Restaurant at the Atlantic Antic street fair
– Leslie and Alex’s 4 hour wedding meal at Osteria Le Logge in Siena
Vintage Pyrex mixing bowls I bought from Yamahomo
– The “best cappucino in Italy” cafe in Roma

Aside from my top 5 (er, 11), the launch of this blog was perhaps the most meaningful food moment for me this year. I look forward to a plethora memorable food moments in 2008– too much for me to blog I am sure! Thanks to everyone for reading, contributing and commenting in UM’s fantastic first year.
Happy, happy holidays to you and your family, and always, happy eating!

Famous Fat Dave

June 17, 2007

If a cabbie asks where you eat in your neighborhood before dropping you off, don’t hesitate, just answer. It might be “Famous Fat Dave.”

Dave Freedenburg gives culinary tours of all five boroughs in a private car or, for a bit more money, his yellow cab! The tours start at $100 an hour (four-hour minimum) regardless of the number of eaters and includes food, waters, gas, and parking tickets. There are various themed tours, such as the “Fat Elvis” (which is more than eight hours long and stops in thirteen neighborhoods) and the “Midnight Munchies” (which could start as late as 2 A.M.), or you can create a customized tour with Dave.

In a recent NPR story, the journalist was “drunk” on the fried chicken they picked up at Charles’s Southern Style Kitchen in West Harlem, and was licking the shells of jerk shrimp from the Bronx’s Feeding Tree. As I listened, I wondered if I could actually eat that much food for over four hours. No worries, though. You don’t eat full meals at every stop, instead you get “generous tastes”, so by the end, you are definitely full, but not stuffed.

Sounds like the perfect birthday present for any foodie!

Listen to the NPR story on Dave’s tours.

Read his blog.

And check out a list of some of his favorites spots in NYC:


Ferdinando’s: 151 Union St. Old school Sicilian foccaciaria that serves arrancini just like they do in the old country.

Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pie: 204 Van Dyke St. Pier 41, Red Hook. Civil War-era warehouse on the Red Hook waterfront with amazing views and delicious key lime pies.


No 28 Carmine: 28 Carmine St. Within a couple blocks of Joe’s Pizza, John’s Pizza, Bleecker St. Pizza, DeMarco Pizza and Abitino Pizza is No. 28, which blows them all out of the water for authentic Napoli pizza margherita.

Russ and Daughters: 179 E. Houston St. The greatest place on earth for lox, chopped liver, tuna salad, cream cheese, and a nice whitefish.


5 Star Punjabi: 13-15 43rd Ave. Long Island City Long Island City is the main hub for yellow cab garages, and this restaurant keeps their bellies full of samoza late into the night.

Ali’s Kebab Cafe: 25-12 Steinway St. at 25th Ave., Astoria Egyptian food like you’ve never tasted, cooked right in front of you by Ali.

The Bronx:

Sam’s: 596 Grand Concourse Get perfect BBQ chicken before the Yankees game, or go afterward for fried shrimp, chicken wings and karaoke.

El Valle: 555 Grand Concourse No. 149 Rice and beans, maduros, roasted chicken. The Boogie Down Bronx. Nothing could be finer.

Staten Island:

Denino’s Pizzeria Tavern: 524 Port Richmond Ave. Order anything involving mozzarella. The pizza is the classic Staten Island pie, and the mozzarella sticks are the stuff of legend.

Choosing a Cheaper Wine

June 12, 2007

The W(h)ine-o is back with a few more tips — this time on choosing a cheaper wine:

• Choose wine with labels that are less specific in origin. If the label says “Napa Valley,” it will cost more than one that says “California.”

• If you want a white wine, choose one that does not sit in (expensive) oak barrels, such as Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, and Pinot Grigio.

• Choose an unfamiliar or lesser-known grape. If less people know about it, they won’t ask for it, and the price will go down. (Of course it might be harder to find too). Ever heard of Torrontés, the Argentinean white grape? Me neither, so you won’t spend much for it.

• Choose wines from areas where labor costs are lower, such as Argentina or Chile. If it costs less to make, it will cost less to buy.

Speaking of cheap wines, I had the pleasure of trying the Red Bicyclette Syrah 2004 a while back.

Loved it. The palate is complex, yet well balanced, with lots of berry flavors and just the right amount of spice. It has a peppery aroma and medium weight, and the finish was especially long and pleasant. Plus, it has a very cute label.

$8.99 at Park East Wine & Spirits, 1657 York Ave at 87th St, 212-534-2093.

Want to Date a Chef?

May 31, 2007

If I had the dough (pun intended), I would.

“On Monday, June 11th, hot NYC chefs will be auctioned off for “dates” to benefit Friends of the FCI, a nonprofit organization that funds French Culinary Institute student scholarships.

Some of the one-time-only dates on the auction block:

• Train with Wylie Dufresne of wd~50 in his kitchen, then join him for dinner at his favorite late-night hang-out, Momofuku Ssäm Bar.
• Have dinner with Jean-Georges Vongerichten at his favorite New York City sushi restaurant.
• Learn to master your favorite dessert with Melissa Murphy, owner of Sweet Melissa Patisserie, and appear on an episode of her podcast “Simply Baked with Sweet Melissa.” Then join Melissa for lunch at the patisserie.
• Get a private, behind-the-scenes tour of Jacques Torres’ Chocolate Haven followed by a hands-on chocolate class.

Among the other chefs participating in “Date Night” are Johnny Iuzzini, executive pasty chef of Jean Georges; David Chang of Momofuku Noodle Bar and Momofuku Ssäm Bar; Lee Anne Wong of Bravo’s Top Chef; Jean Francois Bruel of Daniel; Aaron Sanchez of Centrico and Paladar; André Soltner, formerly of Lutèce; Julian Alonzo of Brasserie 8½; Dan Barber of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns; and Cesare Casella of Maremma.”

Bidding starts at 7:30 PM while cocktails and bites are served from 7–11 PM and at Cipriani at 200 Fifth Avenue ($250 per person, purchase tickets by June 6th; 646-254-7521;

Enrique Foster Mendoza Malbec Ique 2006

May 11, 2007

First of all, I meant to get a 2004. . . Actually I asked for a 2004, and did not notice that I was given a 2006. This is not to say the employees at Sherry-Lehmann are negligent. In fact they are quite helpful and knowledgeable. Nevertheless, the fact is: I got the wrong wine.

AND the photo is a 2003 bottle, but just disregard that because the rest of the label remains the same in 2004 and 2006.

Anyway, Enrique Foster Mendoza Malbec Ique 2006 is nothing exciting, but it is an smooth well-balanced (and priced) wine with a beautiful ruby-red color that I recommend. The aroma is fresh and light and the body is medium-to-full. The palate has pleasant hints of licorice, pepper, and berries that develop into a lingering, satisfying finish. I enjoyed it with my soba noodles (the only thing in my fridge at the moment), so it should go very well with pasta, and probably a variety of cheeses.

$8.95 at Sherry-Lehmann, 679 Madison Ave at 61st Street, 212-838-7500,

E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône 2003

April 18, 2007

What a find!

This elegant wine has a deep, dark red colour with a spicy aroma, well-balanced tannins and fruit, and a smooth texture.

The palate is wonderfully complex: it is initially fresh and fruity followed by an unexpected, slight acidity and a long and pleasant finish.

I think this would compliment most foods very well, as it not overwhelming. It went very well with my pasta, and I would pair it with meat, fish, or cheese too.

Definitely give this one a try!

$12.99 at Beacon Wine & Spirits (2120 Broadway at 74th Street, 212-877-0028)


April 17, 2007

“On Tuesday April 17th from 12pm until 8pm participating Ben & Jerry’s scoop shops around the world will be hosting Ben & Jerry’s Annual Free Cone Day. Click here to find a participating scoop shop near you! “


April 13, 2007
Here’s the scoop:

Print this coupon and bring it to your local Baskin-Robbins store to receive a FREE 2.5 oz scoop of your favorite Baskin-Robbins ice cream flavor. Some restrictions may apply. Available at participating stores in CT, MA, ME, NH, NY, and RI. Offer expires 4/13/07.”

Shake Shack Season Begins!

March 23, 2007

The Shake Shack (and its infamous queues) reopened yesterday. As of now, the hours are 11am-6pm, but will be extended soon.

Also, check out their custard calendar. Peanut Brittle Banana?!?! I’ll give you one guess where I will be this Sunday. . .

Shake Shack
Madison Square Park
Enter at Madison & 23rd

From NY Mag: HARK! James Beard Award Nominations

March 21, 2007

After much speculation, the 2007 nominees for the James Beard Awards, the Oscars of the restaurant world, are in. Adam Platt, Rob Patronite, Robin Raisfeld, and Grub Street all filled out Beard brackets (or at least revealed whom we’d like to see win) on Friday. Here’s how the academy’s coming down.

Rising Star Chef
As expected, David Chang was nominated and is, it says here, a stone-cold lock for the award. But Daniel Humm, slipping in under the age wire, was also nominated for his brilliant work at Eleven Madison Park. The other nominees are all from out of town: Nate Appleman of San Francisco’s A16, Graham Elliot Bowles of Avenues in Chicago, Michel Richard of Citron in Washington, and Patrick Connolly of Radius in Boston.

Best New Restaurant
Shocker: Three months ago Ssäm Bar was selling Asian burritos; now they’re nominated for Best New Restaurant, along with L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Guy Savoy in Vegas, Cochon in New Orleans, L.A.’s Cut, and (another pleasant surprise for New York) A Voce.

Best Chef New York
The nominees for the big one skew young. Wylie Dufresne of wd-50, picked by all four New York writers, did indeed make the list. The other finalists: Terrance Brennan of Picholine (a Platt pick), Gabriel Kreuther of the Modern, Floyd Cardoz of Tabla, and David Waltuck of Chanterelle.

Get the full official list here.
– kanshefle, nyc