Lower East Side Pickle Day

Instagram Post 10/13/2019

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Scenes from Manhattan’s Lower East Side Pickle Day (October 6 this year) on Orchard Street. From a distance, it looked like some sort of contest involving an ice sculpture of a high heel shoe, albeit huge. Huge all the same, but luge was the game; the Brine Brothers would send a shot of their drinkable pickle brine from the apex zipping down the slope to be dispatched by an eager enthusiast stationed at the finish line.


From standard regulation garden variety pickles as far as the eye could see…


…to creative novelties like this tres leches cake with pickled pineapple, it’s a unique street festival with a sense of humor and that alone makes it worth the trip to this annual event.
 
 

Mekelburg’s

Instagram Post 10/1/2019

I enjoyed a busman’s holiday recently at Mekelburg’s, the eatery/craft beer/specialty food shop at 293 Grand Ave in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill. Two dear friends chose the restaurant and deliberated over the menu selections; my job was to enjoy the delightful company and conversation.

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Sambal Butter Roasted Oysters was probably the best item we tasted and it was seriously delicious. But what’s a holiday without a you-had-to-be-there story? So….

The only hitch was that somewhere along the route from kitchen to table, a considerable quantity of that tasty butter spilled, engulfing the mountain of rock salt upon which the oysters had been perched, effectively camouflaging it. Of course, I had no idea what lay at the bottom of the pool until I tasted an unfortunate mouthful of what I thought was provided as an accompanying condiment. Shoulda known better. And a regrettable waste of delectable sambal butter to boot. Fortunately, there was still plenty remaining on top of the oysters, all covered with sauce.


Wild Dandelion Greens Salad with white anchovies and parmigiana cheese bathed in a lemony dressing.


Ducka Ducka Banh Mi – a successful cross-cultural combo: Peking duck and duck rillettes, carrots and cucumber with sambal hoisin mayo.


Roasted Bone Marrow with rosemary grapefruit marmalade and crispy toasted slices of French baguette.


Salt Baked Potato with smoked black cod, crème fraîche, and caviar.

Sounds like holiday food to me!
 
 

More 2019 World’s Fare Vendors

Instagram Post 6/3 and 6/5/2019

Four more vendors from the 2019 World’s Fare that took place recently at Citi Field in Flushing.

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Duck Season brought out their 10% duck fat burger, duck fat fries, and Brooklyn poutine with duck bacon, cheese sauce and gravy; shown here is their BBQ rub smoked duck sandwich on a brioche. Wabbit Season was nowhere to be found but you can find Duck Season’s whereabouts by following them @duckseasonnyc on Facebook or Instagram.


Brooklyn’s Korzo Restaurant (667 5th Ave in Park Slope) offered up their Slovak halušky. Residing somewhere along the gnocchi<–>dumpling continuum, these little hand-cut pillows are made from flour/potato dough and served with a tangy bryndza cheese sauce topped with bacon and chives. Central European comfort food.


Alexandra Dettori (AD) Catering and Events brought their 🇪🇷 Eritrean tacos to the party. If you’ve enjoyed dining at any Ethiopian/Eritrean restaurant, you’re familiar with injera, the spongy flatbread that serves as the foundation for dishes like wot, the region’s emblematic dense stew. AD’s fusion concept is the Eri-Taco – mini injera, in this case supporting a spicy diced beef wot. Follow them on Facebook or Instagram @adcateringandevents.


Nansense featured their Mantu, first-rate dumplings from Afghanistan packed with savory beef and onion, slathered with garlicky yogurt and tomatoey split peas, and hit with dried mint and cilantro. Often a fixture at Smorgasburg, follow them @nansensenyc on Instagram or Facebook to be certain of their whereabouts. Comfort food that’s delicious 🇦🇫 (or as the emoji appears on some platforms, AF). 😉

 
 

Black Label Donuts

Instagram Post 6/1/2019

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Winner Winner, Donut Dinner! Okay, maybe not dinner, but deliciously filling and definitely a winner. More specifically, the winner of the “Best in Show: Sweet” category at the recent World’s Fare 2019.
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There are two elements that make Black Label Donuts so special. The champions (IMHO) start with a 24 hour cold fermented brioche dough (Richard Eng, the culinary master behind these creations, knows his carbs) and the ever-changing gourmet flavors that are uniquely creative like matcha crème brûlée, rosemary lemon/olive oil curd, lavender blueberry, azuki ichigo (red bean/strawberry) and sake kasu cherry. Shown here are the Japanese Elvis – banana brioche, torched bananas, and smoked bacon with a peanut butter-miso glaze – and the Kalamansi Buttermilk Lime. Both were outstanding.
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Currently, they’re only available in pop-up format, so follow them on Instagram @blacklabeldonuts and on facebook.com/BlackLabelDonuts. And wherever they are, get there early, because they sell out fast!
 
 

Janie’s Pie Crust Cookies

Instagram Post 5/31/2019

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Every now and then, some genius comes up with a brilliant idea for combining two beloved baked goods into a single treat, a portmanteau of pastry if you will. The cronut comes to mind. That marriage often begets lesser, more commercialized offspring which will remain nameless here. But sometimes a star is born unto this hallowed union and it is this miracle of which I bring good tidings.
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Okay, so I got a little carried away. But that’s what happened at the press event for 2019’s Queens Night Market when I tasted Janie’s Pie Crust Cookies. Resting on a foundation of flaky pie crust, topped with buttery, crumbly, caramelized streusel and filled with just the right amount of gooey pecan magic to balance it off (cherry and chocolate pecan are available too), Janie’s cookies comprise the best parts of the pie and they’re heavenly. (Oops, there I go again.)
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Janie’s personal story is the stuff of which legends are made; visit her website janiebakes.com to learn more or follow her on Instagram @janiebakescakes, but even better – taste for yourself. You can find her and her life-changing cookies (there’s a poignant reason they’re called that) at the Queens Night Market: head to the New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Saturdays from 5pm to midnight until August 17 and again from September 28 to October 26.
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Say Hallelujah! 😇
 
 

Hometown Bar-B-Que

Instagram Post 2/24/2019

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Having to shop at IKEA in Red Hook, Brooklyn is always a good excuse to take a side trip to Hometown, the top notch Bar-B-Que restaurant at 454 Van Brunt St. The sound system treated us to a superbly curated mix of oldies that harmonized with the cold beer I was clutching and made the long wait tolerable: plenty of time to peruse the menu. Gotta get the pastrami bacon, gotta get the lamb belly, gotta get the brisket. Lip-smackin’ good. In other words, the Real Thing.

Speaking of side trips, our sides were coleslaw, potato salad, mac & cheese, cornbread, and collard greens. Yum. More of the Real Thing.

Problem was, I had too much time to study the menu. Korean sticky ribs? Vietnamese hot wings? Did somebody say ethnic food?

That day, I learned my lesson to never stray: you don’t order seafood at an upscale steak house and you don’t order ethnic food at a rustic locale called Hometown. Want mouthwatering fulfillment? You want the Real Thing.

Over the sound system as we were leaving, Marvin and Tammi broke into their Top 10 hit from 1968.
 
 

Ends Meat

Instagram Post 2/22/2019

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My dining buddy and I had set our sights on Industry City in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, our self-imposed mission to hunt down good eats within its seemingly endless labyrinth. (“Haven’t we been down this hallway already?” “I think so, but the antique stove was on the other side last time.”) Indecision gave way to hangry frustration and, exasperated, we declared, “Let’s just share a sandwich here while we figure out where to go.” Little did I realize we were in the presence of virtuosity.

Ends Meat in Building 2 at 254 36th Street, has been specializing in aging and drying meat in their salumeria and butcher shop since 2012; old-style Italian techniques inspire their nose-to-tail cured meats. The sustainably raised animals come from local family farms where non-GMO feed is the order of the day and no hormones or antibiotics are used.

And the sandwich? Not something your mama would have packed in your trusty school lunch box. Behold the Beefneck Sandwich laden with caramelized onions, pickled cucumbers, cheddar cheese and thousand island dressing. Undeniably delicious. Now I have to go back and try some others (the Hogfather and the Bacon and Pate were calling my name as well).