Old Luo Yang

Instagram Post 9/30/2019

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Many years ago, when I was investigating every single vendor (🐷🤷‍♂️) in the New World Mall Food Court, 136-20 Roosevelt Ave, Flushing, for my food tours, I was intrigued by the options at stall number 4, Old Luo Yang (Luòyáng is a city in Henan province). The phrase “Processed Noodle” grabbed my attention; seems like it was intended to describe Liang Pi (Cold Skin) Noodles which do indeed involve an elaborate process in their preparation: make a flour and water dough, irrigate it with more water, rinse it, discard the dough reserving the liquid, let it rest overnight to form a precipitate, dispose of the topmost liquid, pour remaining paste onto a tray, steam over boiling water, and slice into noodles. And that, dear reader, is a gross oversimplification.

For all that effort, the resulting noodles don’t have much flavor of their own; it’s more about what you do with them and every vendor/restaurant has a different strategy. Their flagship dish, Old Luo Yang Processed Noodle, arrives on a flat plate with so much (absolutely delicious) sauce, that it invariably spills onto the tray, and spills significantly. Mess notwithstanding, however, I strongly suggest that if it’s your first time here, that’s the one to order.

They have another area of distinction: they add vegetable juice to the recipe, infusing the noodles with color (but not really much additional flavor); adding carrot juice produces an orange noodle, then there’s spinach green, black rice, and purple sweet potato, shown here. The order comes with bean sprouts, slivers of cucumber, and gluten (looks like cubes of bread that soak up sauce like nothing else on the plate) plus (this is the altered part) three containers of sauce. The first time I ordered this, I wasn’t certain about how much of each sauce to use: I tried a bit of each individually, then in combination, and wasn’t really satisfied until I realized that the best approach was to use every drop of all three.

Maybe the inevitable overflow was the reason behind the division, maybe it was to account for varying tastes, but I found that for best results, combine everything together – including every dram of all three sauces – mix well, make a mess, and enjoy.

The Point

Instagram Post 9/29/2019

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I have been remiss of late in posting about West African cuisine, so here’s one that’s been waiting patiently for a few months. My dining buddy turned me on to this humble venue, The Point, in the Bronx; we only had time for a quick bite, food crawls being what they are, but the bite was a good one.

Ampesi, a Ghanaian specialty, typically consists of some form of boiled starchy vegetable like yam, plantain, cassava, or cocoyam alongside a rich stew/sauce. My best guess as to the starch we received was boiled yam although the photo on the wall showed others (should we have inquired?); the sauce, I suspect, was based on kontomire, cocoyam leaves, the traditional partner, but IIRC, she said spinach. We requested goat and mackerel as sauce enrichments – tasty stuff.

The Point is located at 2037 Webster Ave in the Bronx.

Iraqi House Restaurant

Instagram Post 9/28/2019

Iraqi House Restaurant is, to my knowledge, the only Iraqi restaurant in NYC. Its signage was in place long before it opened and since it’s located at 7215 3rd Ave in Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge, a neighborhood where I do food tours, I’d visit the site frequently in eager anticipation of signs of life. We ventured in shortly after its debut so not everything that appeared on the menu was also in the kitchen, but what we did try was tasty. In no special order:

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Qoozi Lamb (also available with chicken). One of Iraq’s national dishes, it consists of extremely slow cooked (even the bones were tender!) expertly seasoned lamb (primarily succulent rib meat) with raisins, peas, and almonds (in theory at least: no almonds that day, but again, we were among the first to enlist) over savory basmati rice and browned vermicelli noodles. The totality was infused with a rich, fatty mouthfeel that was sublime.

Makhlama, usually found on a breakfast menu, is a mélange of seasoned ground lamb, scrambled eggs, and sautéed onions; in Iraq, the dish is sometimes found deconstructed, with soft-baked eggs riding on top rather than incorporated into the mix – either way, it’s served over rice. Note that the flavor profile of this dish and the qoozi are different so ordering both isn’t as redundant as you might suspect.

I think these two appetizers shared the same mildly spicy ground meat filling but the similarity ended there. The torpedo shaped Kubba is deep fried with a rice dough crust, crispy (not crunchy) outside, soft inside. The word, like the more familiar word kibbeh (the Middle Eastern treat) and quipe (its Latin American counterpart), comes from the Arabic kubbah meaning ball (looks more like an American football to me); they all share that classic shape. Shown below is crunchy Burraq (think burek), the Iraqi answer to the spring roll.

The inside scoop.

Casa Nova Grill

Instagram Post 9/27/2019

Part two of our visit to the Brazilian Day Festival in Newark, New Jersey’s Portuguese/Brazilian Ironbound district. If you’re looking for churrascaria (a restaurant that specializes in Brazilian style grilled/barbecued meat – a paleo dieter’s dream, BTW) that offers rodízio (where waiters bring an assortment of meats impaled on formidable skewers directly to your table), then the Ironbound is the place to go. I think. I hesitate because since the area is home to numerous instances of such eateries, all of which have received similar reviews, how does one choose from among the lot?

Ultimately, that day’s decision was informed by the location of Casa Nova Grill at 264 Ferry St, one of the sponsors of the event, situated directly across the street from the festival grounds. Not the best churrascaria I’ve ever experienced, but far from the worst. In addition to a reasonable assortment of meats, the obligatory “salad bar” included some Brazilian favorites like feijoada (a classic bean, pork, and beef stew) and pamonha (corn pudding), seafood, chicken, and fruit salads plus an array of vegetable sides. (You know the drill, right? Don’t fill up on these!)

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The emblematic photo of churrascaria in action is a skewer of picanha, aka sirloin cap, a premium cut and the essence of beefiness.

Meaty, savory pork ribs.

Tender beef short ribs.

A familiar ending to the experience: grilled pineapple, cinnamon encrusted,…

…carved, plated, rum soaked, and ignited for our viewing pleasure.

If anyone has a recommendation for rodízio in the Ironbound, please comment. I’m keen to return soon!

Brazilian Day Festival – 2019

Instagram Post 9/22/2019

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Two posts covering the same busy day pigging out in Newark, New Jersey’s Portuguese/Brazilian Ironbound district. Today’s segment consists of scenes (food scenes, of course) from the Brazilian Day Festival that took place on September 7th and 8th near the area around Ferry and Niagara Streets, just a stone’s throw (a football’s kick?) from the flagship location of the legendary Seabra’s market (which deserves a post of its own).

Most of these eight images are easily identifiable but the seventh (above) is worth singling out because of the dulce de leche gracing the tops of a few of the pasteis de nata, Portuguese egg custard tarts that were calling my name. Unfortunately, I was schlepping countless pounds of Portuguese cheeses, linguiça, chouriço, and morcela that I picked up at Seabra’s (see, I told you it merits its own post) so I wasn’t able to go back for them. The very definition of regret.

The subject of the final photo might be unfamiliar to some of you. They’re coxinhas (pronounced ko-SHEEN-ya), deep fried chicken and cream cheese croquettes, a popular street food in Brazil (and happily in Brazilian neighborhoods around these parts), shaped a bit like a chicken drumstick; the literal meaning of coxinha is “little thigh”. If you see these delicious snacks anywhere that offers Brazilian food, get one. (Actually, better get a few.)

Stay tuned for part two!

Pata Market – Marinated Pork

Instagram Post 9/21/2019

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Just wanted to make you aware of some amazing Marinated Pork sold by the equally amazing Pata Market, 81-16 Broadway, Elmhurst. I’ve written about Pata before; it’s a mini market featuring shelf stable, frozen, and refrigerated Thai snacks and ingredients, but it’s also a mini-café of sorts – very mini, actually, with a just few stools in front of a window-ledge table, a perfect photo-op stage for folks on my Elmhurst ethnojunket.

It’s the prepared food that blows me away every time though: authentic, incredibly delicious, and able to stand up to the cookery from the profusion of excellent Thai restaurants surrounding it. This marinated pork (sourced from UThai Cookhouse in Rego Park) is bursting with Thai flavor, soft and tender, and the perfect snack for meat lovers.

More to come from Pata Market. As always.

Queens Night Market 2019 – Czech Style Langosh

Instagram Post 9/20/2019

Just a reminder that the Queens International Night Market is still going strong in its 2019 Fall Season, and tomorrow brings another chance to visit! You’ll savor delicious international food and experience incredible musical performances in an exciting night market atmosphere; admission is free.

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Notes from my last visit: The banner over the vendor’s booth proclaimed “Czech Style Langosh” but if you take one etymological step back, you’ll find langoš, the Czech rendition of the (one more step) Hungarian snack pastry lángos. However you spell it, they’re a soft, puffy, almost doughnutty flatbread, accommodating any number of toppings from savory to sweet, and they’re delicious.

Savory toppings when I visited their booth included classic (garlic sauce & cheese) and bacon (classic plus bacon); sweet versions comprised a sugar & cinnamon base with a number of syrups, as well as the beauty you see here, black currant jam with sour cream.

To see when they’ll (hopefully) be back, check out QNM’s vendors and performers list at www.queensnightmarket.com. Lots more good eats in the meantime, so head out to the Queens Night Market outside the New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. You’ll find them every Saturday from 5pm until midnight through October 26.

See you there soon!

National Humanitarian Fundraising for Myanmar Food Fair – 2019

Instagram Post 9/19/2019

If I’m not mistaken, last Sunday’s National Humanitarian Fundraising for Myanmar Food Fair was the second in an annual series; proceeds were earmarked for flood relief and recovery objectives. It’s held in the Parish House of St. James Episcopal Church at 84-07 Broadway in Elmhurst, Queens and, like last year’s event, the food was authentic and delightful. Burmese cuisine is one of my favorites and this always wonderfully overwhelming event featured a multiplicity of dishes, but lacking any English signage, I was left to my own devices, hence:

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Laphet Thoke – pickled tea leaf salad. Laphet (you might see laphat, lahpet, lephet, leppet, letpet, latphat, or others) is the Burmese word for pickled or fermented tea leaves; thoke (you might see thohk) means salad. (Hey, it’s a tricky language to transliterate.) The dish is as much about the crunchy toppings as it is about the laphet along with the customary addition of some raw veggies. Recipes vary wildly and widely.

Shan Htamin Chin (you might see jin or gyin which means fermented or sour; htamin means rice). The Shan people are a Tai ethnic group of Southeast Asia who live primarily in the Shan State of Myanmar. This is their traditional mashed rice, potato and fish cake; just in case it wasn’t garlicky enough, cloves of fresh garlic were provided for nibbling.

Mandalay Mee Shay – Mandalay style rice noodles with pork. Excellent.

Tofu Thoke – Shan tofu has little to do with familiar soybean tofu; it’s made from chickpea flour and is soft and supple in this contrastingly spicy Burmese salad. (Count on Burmese salads to be topped with crunchies!)

SUMAQ Peruvian Food Festival – Part 3

Instagram Post 9/18/2019

Final post about the annual SUMAQ Peruvian Food Festival in Garden City, Long Island – and the event is definitely worth the time to travel there. Staged on the grounds of The Cradle of Aviation Museum (worth a visit), this incredible feast takes place across two days every August, and having now seen it for myself (and eaten my way through it), I can recommend it highly.

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Anticuchos. I’ve sung the praises of these skewers of tender, marinated beef heart on these digital pages before. The name has its roots in Quechua, the indigenous language of the Peruvian Andes: “anti” refers to the Eastern region of the Andes, “kuchu” means cut.

Don’t be faint of heart 🙄 about trying this: it’s just another cut of beef, and a particularly delicious one at that. If you like grilled meat, even if you’re not a fan of organ meats, these will win you over. Peruvian street food at its finest.

Rocoto relleno con pastel de papa from El Pregón. Cheesy stuffed rocoto pepper with a cheesy potato on the side. ¡Delicioso!

Kankachos Tinajani (kankacho means “roasted” in Quechua) featured their special Cordero al Horno, roast lamb seasoned with panca pepper, garlic, cumin, allspice, and dark beer served with potatoes for ballast. I can still taste it – which is why I’ll be back in 2020.

Hope to see you there!

SUMAQ Peruvian Food Festival – Part 2

Instagram Post 9/17/2019

More from this year’s SUMAQ Peruvian Food Festival that took place on the grounds of The Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City, Long Island last month. Sumaq translates as “delicious” in Quechua, the language of the indigenous people of Peru, and I can’t think of a more appropriate adjective for this delightful event.

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Picarones, presented by numerous vendors. Peru’s answer to the doughnut, only better because the dominant ingredients are sweet potato and squash, deep fried and drizzled with chancaca (dark brown sugar or molasses) syrup or honey, and always prodded and retrieved with a long wooden stick.

Among the offerings from La Matarina Restaurante Turístico was fried cuy; their rendition of spicy stewed cuy was also available. Cuy is guinea pig. Yes, guinea pig, and it’s tasty. The flavor depends on which piece you’re eating, just like the flavor of chicken depends upon whether it’s dark meat or white meat or wing meat. And no, cuy does not taste like chicken. (These days, even chicken doesn’t taste like chicken, but that’s another story.)

Fried cuy plated with quinoa risotto. Do try to keep an open mind about cuy; don’t think of it as a pet. If you’re a carnivore, then you accept that some animals are food and some are pets but where that line is drawn can be fungible. Personally, like so many people from Peru, Ecuador, and Columbia, I don’t see cuy as a pet any more than a farmer sees their chickens as pets. On the other hand, Mary had a little lamb.

Ceviche! (To take your mind off the cuy.) From El Gol Marino.

Go with a group – the more people, the more you can try. One more post about the annual SUMAQ Peruvian Food Festival to come….