In a Pickle at Net Cost Market

Instagram Post 8/13/2018

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One aspect of the larger Russian/FSU markets that I particularly appreciate is the freedom to buy just a few bits of many items from their extensive prepared food arrays. I seldom choose a whole fish because I can’t be certain if I’m going to like the preparation and I’m disinclined to make that kind of commitment. But casting about for something different, I decided to tackle something new and these two beauties lured me in. I reeled them in at Net Cost Market (net, get it?), 8671 18th Ave in Bath Beach, Brooklyn: the one at the top is hake – smoky and very salty, it tasted a little like smoked whitefish but not as oily. The other is ice fish – being a small specimen, its flesh wasn’t flaky, but rather tight like smelt. Both were good, each was very different, and now I’m hooked on trying various fish from there and similar markets.

Incidentally, while at Net Cost, I spotted these tanks at the self-serve pickle area: brine from green tomatoes, red tomatoes, sour pickles, and half-sour pickles. I confess that I succumbed to the temptation to check and make sure that nothing was swimming in them. 😉


Sing Kee – House Special Steamed Minced Pork

Instagram Post 8/12/2018

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One more from our Cantonese banquet at Sing Kee, 42 Bowery in Manhattan’s Chinatown. I was intrigued by the menu item “Steamed Minced Pork with Salty Fish” listed in the Pork section of the menu; I believe what arrived was a dish called “House Special Steamed Minced Pork” from the Chef’s Recommendations section. It wasn’t bad, but not quite what I expected. Slices of salty fish and salty preserved pork over a dense, salty, ground pork loaf in a savory sauce. Did I mention salty? I still don’t quite know what to make of this dish, but I’m glad we gave it a try.

Kamayan at Kabayan!

Instagram Post 8/11/2018

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Kamayan is a traditional Filipino style of serving a meal that combines delicious food with exuberant fun. The food is laid out on a banana leaf and is happily consumed with bare hands, no utensils necessary. There’s always a wide variety of classics along with abundant rice but to me, the most important component is the act of sharing the bounty with good friends. A recent visit to Kabayan, 49-12 Queens Blvd in Woodside, brought together great people and great food as far as the eye could see. Gather a group and experience the spirit of kabayan for yourself!

Indonesian Food Bazaar at St. James’ Parish House

Instagram Post 8/10/2018

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Indonesian cuisine is as varied as it is delicious and Queens is home to two monthly warm weather events (but not during Ramadan) that present an opportunity to try it, one bite at a time. Each offers a panoply of homemade dishes, a little sweet, a little spicy, from Indonesian fried chicken and skewers of sate to more challenging, but equally delectable, fare, so there’s sure to be something to please every palate. This weekend, head to the Indonesian Food Bazaar at St. James’ Parish House, 84-07 Broadway in Elmhurst, on Saturday, August 11th; arrive early (the event begins at 11am) to ensure the greatest selection. I suggest you go with a group so that everyone gets to sample a bit of a wide variety of dishes but take-home is always an option. Here are a few recent photos, mostly of less familiar items.

[1] Siomay Goreng (fried siomay dumplings) that tasted as good as they looked

[2] Mie Goreng – stir fried noodles in a flavorful sauce with lamb and veggies, deep fried krupuk (crispy garlicky crackers) on the side

[3] Martabak – savory omelet/pancake folded around an assortment of ingredients (a must-do)

[4] Bebek (fried duck), gudeg (green jackfruit stew), two chunks of bacem (sweet tempe), egg, krecek (cow skin), all over rice

[5] Kikil (beef tendon – yellow), rice, cumi (squid – purple) in back, paru (cow lungs – brown) cooked in green chili in front. That green bean is petai or sator (unfortunately called stink bean over here, but not really that stinky IMO)

Note also that every time I attend one of these, there’s always something different to try. I’ll write about the other event, the Indonesian Bazaar at Masjid al-Hikmah in Astoria, in the coming weeks.

Pata Market – Sai Oua

Instagram Post 8/9/2018

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Pata Market at 81-16 Broadway in Elmhurst, Queens has won me over with their prepared food, particularly the savory items like this Sai Oua. Sai (intestine) oua (stuffed – an apt description of sausage in general) hails from the northern region of Thailand. The stuffing is ground fatty pork with that immediately identifiable, signature northern Thai flavor attributable to chilies plus some combination of shallots, garlic, lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime, fish sauce, turmeric and red curry paste. Pata Market’s was right up there with my favorite renditions.

In addition to both sweet and savory items displayed on tables (most of the shop is given over to those), there are freezer cases and reach-in refrigerators protecting perishables and hard-to-find ingredients like crickets and silkworms for the culinarily adventurous.

Little House Cafe – Pandan Cake

Instagram Post 8/8/2018

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Pandan cake (not the multi-layered cake) from the grab-n-go prepared food area near the register at Little House Café, 90-19 Corona Ave in Elmhurst, Queens. What you see is what you get. It’s pandan. It’s cake. What’s not to like? 😋

(Now that I think about it, a scoop of Chinatown Ice Cream Factory’s pandan flavor 🍨 would be perfect with this. More shopping to do!)

Little House Cafe – Nasi Lemak

Instagram Post 8/7/2018

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Nasi Lemak: coconut rice with dried anchovies, peanuts, cucumber, onion, sambal and a hard boiled egg; they all manage to squeeze into this Little House snack.

It’s a Malaysian standard and Little House Café, 90-19 Corona Ave in Elmhurst, Queens does it well. Once again, this treat was available at the grab-n-go prepared food area near the register, but when you arrive, don’t hesitate to sit down, have a look at the menu and order something more substantial. If your experience is like mine, whatever you choose will be great.

Fusilli alla Canapa Bio

Instagram Post 8/6/2018

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Dear friends returned from a trip to Italy bearing this gift: Fusilli alla Canapa Bio. Canapa? My Italian may be a little rusty but I was pretty sure canapa means cannabis. My thoughts immediately went to making a big pot of “pot pasta”, perhaps even developing a recipe called Pollo alla Canapa – you know, pot in every chicken – until I read the label a little more closely. This was organic hemp fusilli – 20% hemp seed flour, 80% organic durum wheat semolina. It tasted very much like whole wheat high fiber pasta – the only thing “high” about it. Not sure if the wheat was stone ground. And in case you’re curious, it did not cause the munchies.


Di Fara Pizza – Williamsburg

Instagram Post 8/5/2018

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So you like Di Fara Pizza out in Midwood, Brooklyn, but you don’t want to stand on line waiting for your slice? Then head out to their satellite venue in North 3rd Street Market at 103 North 3rd St (obvs) between Berry St and Wythe Ave in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. No waiting the time that I was there. And if you don’t live in Williamsburg, go soon while there’s still an L train you can catch. 😒

Pata Market – Part 2

Instagram Post 8/4/2018

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The departure of Sugar Club, the beloved Thai snack bar and prepared food market in Elmhurst, Queens left a void that is currently being half filled (because the space was subdivided – the other half is a tea shop) by Pata Market at 81-16 Broadway. I was pleased to find a considerable assortment of grab-n-go snacks, both sweet and savory. I’ve written about the sweets – now for some savory items.

Today’s post covers their Kanom Jeen Nam Ya Paa, noodles with spicy fish curry. Kanom Jeen are thin, fresh rice noodles, an integral part of Thai cuisine; Nam Ya Paa refers to the spicy jungle curry (heavy on the spice with no mitigating coconut milk) soup. The curry, replete with chunks of fish, tiny fish balls and chicken feet is thickened with pork blood and seasoned fearlessly; the noodles, cabbage, bean sprouts, pickled vegetables, and bitter melon are packaged separately for à la minute addition. Definitely good eats! More savories from Pata Market to come.

PS: Do you have any idea how much restraint it took to not plop a fish ball into the chicken’s foot for this photo? 😂