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.

Bummer.
 
 

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? 😂
 
 

Barano

Instagram Post 8/3/2018

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I believe we achieved our goal of crafting just the right celebratory meal as we cherry-picked our way through the maze of menu categories at Barano, 26 Broadway in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. In addition to our whimsical sfizi, Arancini – crispy rice balls with peas, mushrooms, mozzarella and a lemon sauce; and our little plate piattini, Octopus with farro, mint, pesto, celery, pickled radish and pine nuts; we enjoyed…

[1] Stinging Nettle Tortelloni with rock shrimp and artichoke, grilled asparagus and burnt orange hazelnut butter on the side from the Primi category
[2] Risotto with morels, ramps and foie gras from the Speciale group
[3] Prime Rib Cap Braciole with raisins, pine nuts, polenta, broccoli rabe and parmigiana, also from the Speciale category
[4] Wild Ramp Pizza with mozzarella, ricotta, ramps and EVOO, from the Pizza category, natch
[5] Torta Caprese, a dark chocolate almond tart with Calabrian Anglaise for dessert

And a splendid time was had by all!
 
 

Awang Kitchen – Part 1

Instagram Post 8/2/2018

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Indonesian cuisine is one of my favorites and among all the Indonesian restaurants clustered together in Elmhurst, Queens, I’ve found that Awang Kitchen never fails to delight. Owner/Chef Awang, a native of Jakarta, opened his restaurant at 84-05 Queens Boulevard a little over a year ago and continues to tinker with and improve upon his already wonderful menu; that menu is fine, but the ever-changing Specials Board is the way to go here. Dishes we enjoyed included…

[1] Cumi Goreng with sauce Telur Asin. Fried squid with salty egg sauce; a favorite among our group.

[2] Gudeg Komplit. Gudeg is unripe jackfruit stewed in coconut milk sweetened with palm sugar. Komplit very loosely translates as “with all the fixin’s”….

[3] The aforementioned fixin’s: Cow Skin and Tofu.

[4] Sate Kerang. Sate is seasoned (sometimes marinated) delicious bits, sometimes meat, sometimes not, skewered and grilled; in this case, it’s clam (kerang) with white cubes of lontong (pressed rice) on the side.

More to come….