Friday, December 30, 2005

Learning the basics of French Bistro (pt 2) - Pate Brisee

This is the second of a series of posts of recipes that I promised to do from a list of basics of French Bistro from one of my favorite cookbooks, the Bouchon Cookbook by Thomas Keller. Pate Brisee is Francophied terminology for a simple pastry crust. There are a lot of steps involved in making a good Pate Brisee, but there are reasons for each and once you understand those reasons the steps will become second nature.

The basic recipe for Pate Brisee is 3 parts flour to 2 parts butter with a little salt and water (1 stick of butter makes 1 Pate Brisee). This is a standard recipe for 2 doughs - either for 2 separate crusts or for a recipe that needs a top crust. The trick to making a flaky crust is to keep the butter cold and use a minimal amount of water.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Build a bowl workshop

Ever since I took my parents to a pho restaurant for the first time, they've been hooked and bring me to their favorite pho restaurant in San Diego each time I'm visiting, Pho Ca Dao. San Diego has a number of really good pho restaurants largely in part to the populous Vietnamese and Southeast Asian community that lives there, much better than those I've been to in New York. Pho (pronounced "fu" as in "fun) is a traditional Vietnamese beef noodle soup that you can find in almost every single authentic Vietnamese or Southeast Asian restaurant. It is always very cheap, usually around $4 and change for a bowl and is one of the best hangover cures there are out there. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A Filipino Christmas

Being back in San Diego after a year has been a little bit of a culture shock. It's nice to be driving again, but I must admit I'm a little rusty and bit pedal-happy. It's also nice to walk out the door when its 60 degrees outside in the morning and funny when people think it's cold - I guess my blood is getting used to the NYC weather. Like every year, I spent Christmas day at an Aunt and Uncle's house a couple blocks down from my parents home, next door to another Aunt and Uncle's house, and just minutes away from another Aunt and Uncle's house.

Although our Christmas menu has evolved from being traditionally Filipino to a more American one with ham, roast beef, and mashed potatoes and gravy, some traditions have been kept alive on the dessert table... well, kind of. Along with a bowl of fudge and plates of panetone, banana bread, and poppy seed cake, this was our homemade holiday cookie tray - 7 or 8 different kinds if I remember correctly. 

Friday, December 23, 2005

Quality you can taste

Besides the incredibly mild and seasonless weather, the next best thing about being back on the West Coast is In-N-Out:

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A Little Cafe off Avenue C

I saw Brokeback Mountain on Sunday - you know, the movie about the gay cowboys? It's a really sad love story between two people. Actually, it's not just a sad story, Brokeback was depressing - Paxil anyone? I saw it with Janet and Susana and we left the movie feeling like we needed to drink our sorrows away.

So off we walked to Cafecito on our way home from the theater - a hole in the wall with Cuban fare and two big jugs of Sangria at the bar, soaking and ready to pour. We walked in past the velvet curtain to a dimly lit, bustling place that barely had 10 or 15 tables down a narrow hallway. Latin music was blasting over tables of diners celebrating birthdays, toasting sangrias, and feasting on ropa vieja. Cafecito has an atmosphere more like Cafe Habana than any of the other point and eat buffet Cuban restaurants in the city. At Janet's first mention that she liked the atmosphere at Cafecito, a pair of Japanese girls were walking to a table and Janet whispered: "They just said they like the atmosphere in Japanese" Feeling left out, I said "I like the atmosphere too" and I did.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Strike is ON

If you live in New York, the only news you've probably been hearing about is the potential NYC Transit Strike in the city, effectively crippling all Subway and Public Bus transportation in all 5 boroughs. Last night, talks broke down and a strike was called at 3AM.

And all these people are walking across the Brooklyn Bridge this morning to get into Manahttan. Do you see the temperature? It's 22 degrees. It's COLD - probably even colder if you're on that bridge.

Happy travels for all of you caught in this mess!

Monday, December 19, 2005

A Menu for Hope II - update #2

Photo credit for Menu for Hope logo: Heidi Swanson

Only 5 more days until the December 24th deadline to donate and A Menu for Hope II is still on a roll, this morning the total was over $8000! Sam from Becks and Posh has re-compiled and organized the list of prizes in light of the recent Typepad emergency that Pim had with her post. The list just gets longer and longer and more and more interesting! Can you believe you could buy a chance to shadow a Michelin-starred Chef in Paris for only $5? It's true!

Comprehensive list of prizes here.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

An English Brunch with a Spotted Pig

A couple days ago, Susana and I found out that one of our new good friends, Devy, would be leaving New York for some time back to the Bay Area. To send her off on her way, we decided to take her and Mike out for lunch at Michelin 1-star, The Spotted Pig. 

Surprisingly, the place was empty, but then again, we got there really early right at noon. We seem to be getting into the habit of getting to places really early ('inoteca, La Table, etc) while no one's there yet.

A perennial favorite for Italian Tapas

'inoteca has had a relatively short life in it's 2 years of being in service (their doors opened in 2003), but it has a following like a 20 year old restaurant. Without fail and at almost every moment that it's open for primetime service, 'inoteca is bustling with a full house and a line of 10-20 crowding around the front door and the side bar waiting for a table. I remember arriving at 'inoteca with my former roomate Christina at 11:30PM and we didn't get seated until 1AM. Friday, I got there relatively early at 7PM, so we had no problem getting seated right away.

At the helm of 'inoteca is Jason Denton and brother Joe. If you're from San Francisco, you'd probably recognize that name from Harry Denton's, who happens to be their uncle. Jason Denton, at under 35, already has a slew of NYC restaurants to his name including the smaller and older sister of 'inoteca, 'ino; Lupa; and Otto.

Peppermint Bark

Will all the eating out I've done recently, it's been a while since I've actually been back in the kitchen so Friday morning I was struck with a cooking bug. I had a couple holiday parties I was going to later that night, so instead of the standard bottle of wine, I opted to bring some Peppermint Bark, recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart Live. I was a little camera happy that morning and was pretty dilligent in taking pictures of every step, so I'll spare you the details and let the pictures do the talking.

Click on the picture for the recipe:

As you can see, I made use again of my Silpat. The more I use this slipperly slice of non-stick goodness, the more I believe that Silpat is one of the greatest kitchen gadgets ever created.

The peppermint bark turned out really nice - they tasted a lot better than they looked and might I add that they look pretty damn good? I think the secret to these is the rice crispy treats, which gave made them really light and crunchy. I wrapped up about 1/2 of the recipe for my holiday party offering later that night and gave away part of the other half to Mike and Devy. Seems like these were quite the addicting candy! 

Friday, December 16, 2005

I got Lucky for lunch

As the thoughts of In-n-out danced through my head this Christmas season, in anticipation of my flight back to California for the holidays, I made like a pregnant woman and craved some greasy goodness for lunch. Where did I turn to for advice? Well, I asked myself, where could I go to get a hamburger today for lunch? Well, duh, if I wanted a hamburger today, then I go to A Hamburger Today(AHT). OK, OK, corny yes, but I like the name of the blog.

I actually had a burger joint in mind already. I did a search for a review and BAM! they'd reviewed it already: Luckys Famous in the East Village/Alphabet City.

I had had high hopes of the place ever since I moved to the neighborhood, but I read the review and got disheartened because it was pretty bad. Their burgers apparently had a sweet marinated patty that the reviewer didn't like. More interesting though is what follows the review, at the bottom a series of responses, first from the owner of Luckys Famous himself, then a mud-slinging back-and-forth commentary between readers. Needless to say, this made me want to go and try it for myself even more so I made my way down.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Food I Miss - Berkeley, CA

In the fashion of my former roommate Mike, who just recently moved to NYC from San Francisco, and his post, I'm gonna reminisce of the days when I still lived in Northern California, just over 2 years ago...

Here is a short list of the top things that I miss the most from that tiny little culinary mecca known as Berkeley (in no specific order):

  • Cheeseboard Pizza - waiting in line at lunch time while listening to someone playing the piano, getting bonus slivers of pizza, and pulling out a bottle of Orangina from the fridge
  • Peet's Coffee - nothing in NYC compares to the coffee from the Bay Area, especially Peet's, originally from Berkeley. My favorite blends are Arabian Mocha-Java and Major Dickason's. (Yes, I know Peet's is now distributed at Whole Foods, but it's just not the same as the one from Berkeley)
  • Tong dak - deep-fried whole chicken at a Korean Drinking Place served with lemon pepper and salt dippers and pickled radish, I still haven't been able to find a good one in NYC Koreatown
  • In-n-Out, Jack in the Box, and Carl's Jr - there's just something about West Coast fast food joints that the East Coast can't duplicate, for evidence of this check out A Hamburger Today where almost every burger joint in NYC is compared to In-n-Out
  • Kirala and their Robata Grill - unlike New York, where everyone waits in line for all the good eats, this is one of the few places in Berkeley where you would have to wait in line a good 30 minutes to get seated - no reservations taken
  • Grilled Burritos from Mario's La Fiesta - I don't know if it's because I was born in San Diego and lived in California all my life or what, but I think Mexican food in New York City is disgusting
  • TopDog - argueably one of the best cheap-eats in the whole Bay Area, juicy sausages of all kinds in a toasted italian roll - my favorite is the Louisiana Hot-link
  • Zachary's Pizza - the only place to get deep-dish pizza in the Bay Area, Berkeley had 2 branches, so good that my roommate carried a half-baked pizza with her on her cross country flight from California to NYC just so that we could eat it again (Susana - that was awesome!)

A Menu for Hope II - update

Photo credit for Menu for Hope logo: Heidi Swanson

I've been periodically checking Chez Pim's Menu for Hope II donation total and it is currently over $6000 (*High-5 Pim*)! It's pretty amazing how fast the total is growing everyday and how generous the whole food blogging community is, not just with cash, but literally treasured possessions - check out this post by Barbara from Tigers and Strawberries about a cast-iron kadai and you'll know what I mean.

Thanks for everyone that has donated!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Mixer at FCI

As I mentioned before, the primary reason I created this blog is so that I can document my experience at culinary school. I've always wanted to go to culinary school, but it wasn't until I actually moved to New York and just a couple months ago that I started seriously thinking about it. I knew I wanted to go to a school in New York City and after a lot a reserach, it came down to either the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) and the French Culinary Institute (FCI). I took tours of both, but decided to apply to FCI because I really wanted to learn classic technique, but mostly because of their in-house restaurant, L'Ecole, which ICE did not have. So I applied and got accepted back in September. This past Monday, I went to an enrolled student happy hour and dinner at L'Ecole and met some other students, both in the pastry and culinary program, starting at various times from January until April. The dinner was fun and totally informal and I got to meet a lot of other people that shared the same interests as me - among other things the disdain for the Food Network show "Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee" and the love of the lovely and big-haired Giada de Laurentiis. The student cooks (level 3 and 4), who prepared everything we ate, came out and fielded questions at the end of dinner. I had a great time, but I payed for it with a wine headache the next morning - ugh, too much wine is not a good thing.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Barefoot in Paris

Surprisingly, La Table wasn't the end to my culinary adventures in Paris. Guess who I saw on my flight... Ina Garten. Actually, I recognized her husband at first, you know - that guys that's always buying groceries and getting to eat everything at the end of the show, and then I realized it really was her when I saw that orange scarf. Barefoot Contessa literally was in Paris.

Bright and early at a Robuchon outpost

This is a long one...

Today we said au revoir to our 36-hour gallavant into the culinary world of Paris. It was 9AM and we had a little time to kill before our noon reservation at La Table that our concierge made for us upon check-in to the hotel. Susana got ready and ran across the street to see the Louvre, all the while having her own little adventure inside the massive wings of that monstrous museum, while I grabbed a cup of cafe creme and walked around Rue St Honore and the Jardin just outside. After checking out and grabbing our luggage (our flight was at 5PM and there was no telling how long we were gonna be at the restaurant for) we made our way to the 16th Arr. Sundays in Paris, especially in the more residential areas of the city, are deader than the Financial District of NYC after 6PM. We got to the La Table about 10 minutes early, but the place was still closed along with almost everything else on the block, apparently they didn't open until noon, so we must've been one of the first reservations of the day.

Monday, December 12, 2005

A Menu for Hope II

The author of one of my favorite food blogs, Pim of Chez Pim, has organized an online food-blogging charity event to raise funds for the victims of recent earthquakes in Pakistan and Kashmir. It's important that aid from the international community continue and these victims are not forgotten, especially in the light of recent victims of the Southeast Asian Tsumanis and the US hurricanes.

The donations are going to be funneled to Unicef and will be collected in the form of an online raffle - just donate $5 for a chance to win any one of a list of prizes from food bloggers including a $200 gift certificate to Manresa in Los Gatos, CA from Pim herself and a personalized food tour of Paris from Louisa of Movable Feast.

As a tribute to my newly found love of the ultra-thinly-sliced and waffle-cut potatoes courtesy of my new mandoline, given to me by my buddy Mike on my birthday, I'm offering up a brand new Benriner Kanekichi Slicer for the auction.

Go donate $5 for your chance to win an awesome prize!

From Chez Pim:

Recipe to participate:
1. Find the gift you would like on our menu.
2. Go to A Menu for Hope II donation page and donate $5 or whatever sum you could spare.
3. Tell us in the comment section of your donation form which gift(s) you would like have. Each $5 donation will give you one chance at winning the prize of your choice. (Yes, if you donate more than $5, you are allowed to specify more than one prize.)
4. That's it!

Our campaign will end on December 23rd, and the winners will be announced and the prizes sent to corresponding winners after January 1st 2006. 

Update on Chez Pim

Photo credit for Menu for Hope logo: Heidi Swanson

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Comfort food the Parisien way

Exhausted after a full day of traversing up and down city streets in search of chocolate and pastries and feeling like we've been awake for over 24 hours, we retired back to the hotel to refresh and figure out what to do and where to go for dinner. We didn't expect to have a fancy dinner as the concierge at the hotel warned us that getting a reservation to anything with a Michelin Star was next to impossible right now, especially since most of them were closed on Saturdays and Sundays anyway. Thus began our search through all our books and papers - the Michelin Red Guide for Paris (which was completely in French, we couldn't find an English version of it and neither of us could speak let alone read it), the Michelin Green Guide (an English version, but very little selection), a tourist magazine from the concierge, and printouts from Chez Pim, C&Z, and David Lebovitz.

Petit Dejeuner - Breakfast at Le Meurice

Fast forward a couple hours, it's morning in Paris, roughly 9AM, and we're making our way to the hotel, the Westin Paris on Rue Castiglione and Rue Rivoli in the 1st. With last minute printouts of Paris posts from all different food bloggers we walked right in to our first culinary experience of the trip without even knowing it. Turns out that the hotel we booked was across the street from Hotel Meurice, home of Le Meurice, an establishment coming highly recommended by Pim of Chez Pim. We walked into Le Meurice, hoping that pigs were flying inside, and asking if we could get same-day reservations for lunch or dinner, but no luck. However, they asked if we wanted to have breakfast, and we obliged.

Friday, December 9, 2005

Jet-setting to Paris

Friday was quite an interesting day to say the least. It started out with a huge snow storm and UPS knocking at my door. As noon came around, the sun was out and the snow was mostly melted. By 2PM, I decided to go to Paris with my roommate Susana on a last minute trip and at 6PM I was on my way 35,000 feet in the air above JFK airport.

What did we go to Paris for you ask? I had no idea. What did we end up doing there? Eat, eat, and eat - a culinary adventure of sorts. I didn't go to a single tourist attraction there. The closest that I came to one was walking by the Notre Dame and Pont Neuf, but that's just cause it happened to be along the way home from our Saturday night dinner in a restaurant on Ile Saint Louis.

Here's how it all began:

This was suprisingly tastier than it looks. Having traveled extensively, flying 4 times a week for a period of over 2 years, I must say that this was probably one of the best economy class meals I've ever had, of course this is all relatively speaking. Stay tuned, in a couple hours time ti will be morning on Saturday in Paris...

Holy crap, gotta pack

I just booked last minute tickets from NYC to Paris and the flight leaves in 3 hours! Holy crap, I've always wanted to do those last-minute travel deals on, but never thought I actually would! I'll be back on Sunday evening with a full report.

I don't even have time to think about what I want to do there yet...

An early Christmas

Santa came knocking at my door dressed in a brown pair of pants and matching brown button-up shirt delivering a slew of boxes from the North Pole (aka If you didn't already know, Santa secretly works for UPS 364 days of the year. So the other day, actually it was just Wednesday, I went on a shopping spree on Amazon because my credit card company, American Express, gave me a 25% off gift certificate from American Express, finally giving me an excuse to get a Cuisinart and Kitchen-aid. 

Needless to say, I milked that gift certificate for all that it was worth - up to $150 off of $600. Check out the receipt - take off another $25 rebate from Kitchen-Aid and the mixer only set me back $104.58 and it only took 2 days even with Super Saver Shipping (aka hand-delivered by Sherpa and Mule). Be on the lookout for more Kitchen-Aid-aided pictures and posts cause I'm gonna be playing with this new toy for a while.

Thursday, December 8, 2005

If you didn't think the Bush family was already weird enough..

Try this on for thought - Ariel De Guzman, personal chef of George Bush Sr and Barbara Bush, or in Al Franken's words: "The Enforcer," has published a book: The Bush Family Cookbook.

This is the most repulsive cookbook I've ever read about, with recipes comparable only to those found in the Sunday paper's coupon section - full of canned, pre-packaged, and frozen foods mixed in with massive amounts of butter, cream, and sugar. Read more here.

No wonder why the Bushes are so creepy.

By the way, I know its a little late, but congratulations to Filipina-American Cris Comerford, first woman to be Executive Chef of the White House. What's with all these Filipino's cooking for the Bush family???

On another note..

Kanye West: "George Bush doesn't care about Black people."
Mike Myers: ".."
Chris Tucker: ".."

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Chipirones son deliciosos

Having spent a couple years of my childhood in Southern Spain, my family and I grew a certain appreciation for mariscos (Spanish for seafood) of all kinds, especially deep-fried. I remember taking drives from Rota (where we lived) to Cadiz, a fishing port along the coast, for a plateful of fried chipirones - Spain's version of calamari. Chipirones are actually small baby squid. They're fried whole, so every piece has a set of tentacles, making it extra crispy and 10x better than any calamari you could get in the US. I hate calamari served in the US has too much batter or made from the huge calamari steaks. There's nothing worse than chewy calamari. For years I've been trying to figure out how to make calamari as crispy is it was when I had it in Spain and today I think I finally figured it out. Never having had a deep fryer, I always gauged oil being at 375 degrees, the ideal temperature for deep frying anything, by how loud the explosions of drops of water were in the skillet. Besides being totally hazardous, that really doesn't tell you anything. The proper way to measure temperature is with a candy thermometer. Don't underestimate how long it takes to heat up oil, it took me much longer than I would have expected, probably at least 7-10 minutes, using my larger-than-average New York stove to get to 375 degrees. So anyway, it got to 375 so I dropped in a couple pieces. Moments later, the temperature dropped about 10-20 degrees, so I had to up the flame a little to help keep the temp constant. Here's my final product:

For crispy calamari in New York, try Pam Real Thai in Hell's Kitchen. It's cheap and comes with a good dipping sauce. You'll have to judge the rest of the food for yourself.

Pam Real Thai Food
404 W 49th St
Btwn 9th & 10th Ave 
Phone: 212-333-7500

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Learning the basics of French Bistro (pt 1) - Onion Confit

While I was watching Thomas Keller the other day demoing a recipe for Mediterranean Sea Bass on Martha Stewart live, I reminded myself that I should try to learn more of the basics listed in the back of the Bouchon Cookbook to get a head start on culinary school. Today, I've decided to start my first in a series of posts on the basics of French Bistro fare: Onion Confit. I chose Onion Confit for 2 reasons: I have a surplus of humongous Spanish onions that I bought from Costco that I can't for the life of me use and because I like saying confit (kon-FEE)... confit, confit, confit. I can tell you from my Food Lover's Companion book that I got for my birthday that confit is a specialty of Gascone, France where meat is slowly cooked and salted in its own fat, most often duck or goose. Although confit is mainly done to duck, the Bouchon Cookbook has a lot of different varieties of confits - garlic, onion, tomayto, tomahto, potayto, potahto - OK I got carried away. Here's my recollection of the recipe from the book: 

1 pound of Spanish onions (2 or 3 large ones)
8 tablespoons of butter
1/4 cup of water
1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 bouquet garni
1 parchment cover

1. Half the onion lengthwise then cut into 1/4 inch thick slices (Note: the book goes in detail about cutting a v-shaped wedge at the bottom of both halves and removing any flat pieces of onion - presumably the older pieces that are going to sprout?? - just goes to show how meticulous Thomas Keller is with his ingredients)
2. In a medium skillet over low heat, warm the water and melt the butter, use a whisk to aid in the melting
3. Add the onions, salt, and bouquet garni to the liquid
4. Cover with the parchment paper
5. Stir every 20-30 minutes, more often the longer it has been cooking
6. The onions will take about 2 hours to cook and be very sweet and soft, but not fall apart
7. Remove the parchment cover and bouquet garni and let cool in its own liquid
8. Transfer the confit to a plastic container and pop it in the fridge

Onion confit is very versatile. The confit is used all over the Bouchon cookbook, but it can also be used simply as a topping on things like steak, flatbread pizzas and crackers. I decided to make Potatoes Lyonnaise, another recipe courtesy of the book, with my leftover potatoes from Thanksgiving. They were pretty much a fancified French version of country potatoes. In the words of Rachel Ray herself, they were "YUMMO."

Monday, December 5, 2005

No no fuku

What do you do when it's cold outside, you're hungry, you have no cash, and there's no food in the fridge? You eat the 50 persimons and korean pears that your roommate's mom sent her in a care package 2 weeks ago that still aren't finished yet. What do you do when you're completely sick of persimmons because you've been eating them for 2 weeks now? - you pay someone else to cook for you. Sunday was one of those days and Susana and I went out to Momofuku on E 10th and 1st Ave.

Momofuku was rather crowded when we got there around 7:45P. The place is a long narrow bar lined by ikea-looking backless stools. The menu was pretty eclectic - from ramen to roasted brussel sprouts. We sat ourselves down right in front of the grill and burners and took a look at the menu. After what seemed like forever, someone finally took our order. We ordered a Momofuku Ramen and a Pork Neck Ramen, $14 and $15. I'd show you pictures of both, but they looked exactly the same, except one was in a bigger bowl. 

The soup wasn't anything I'd order again - the broth was a little too salty and the pork was dry, but the noodles were really fresh and tasty and the poached egg was good too. Honestly though, for the price, this place is nowhere I'd ever visit again. It's like the food version of Pearl River Mart - take something cheap, dress it up, sell it in a nice store in a trendy neighborhood, and charge an arm and a leg for it. Next time I'm going to eat Pho, $4.25 a bowl, or even cheaper- ramen at Kenka, $3 a bowl. No mo' Momofuku.

Momofuku Noodle Bar
163 1st Ave
Btwn 10th & 11th St 
Phone: 212-475-7899

Sunday, December 4, 2005

Let's eating this soupy dumpling one more 5000 years

As with most mornings after a night of partying, I got a call from Danielle about going to Shanghai Cafe in Chinatown. When most people crave bacon, eggs, and buttermilk pancakes for a weekend brunch, we crave soup dumplings (xiao long bao), sticky rice, and scallion pancakes. Shanghai Cafe, just north of Canal St on Mott St, is our favorite place for these steamed dumplings filled with ground pork and broth. I've been coming to Shanghai Cafe with my friends ever since I moved to NYC - probably at least 20 or 30 times now. 

One of my favorite things about this place that I had to throw in is this poster advertising tapioca milk tea (boba), clearly a candidate for submission to It reads: "For this glittering pearl. Let's drinking this tea one more 5000 years" - yet another hilarious example of English grammar in Chinatown.

When you order food here it comes almost immediately since most of it is pre-made or takes seconds to cook. After about a minute after we placed our order with a rather rude server who we had communication issues with, the plates quickly rolled in one after another. The xiao long bao, sitting on a layer of napa cabbage leaves, came steaming hot in a bamboo steamer with a ginger and vinegar dipping sauce. 

When you eat xiao long bao for the first time, it's best to remember that there's a technique to eating these so you can get the maximum broth without spilling it onto your plate. 

1. Pick up the xiao long bao with chopsticks by the top knot just high enough so that you can slip your soup spoon under it being careful not to rip it - if you rip it its over, the broth will spill out all over the bamboo steamers
2. With the xiao long bao on your soup spoon, position is so that it's on its side
3. Bite a tiny hole
4. Slurp out all the broth, no need to slurp quietly 
5. Continue to eat there rest of it as you would any other dumpling

The mark of a good xiao long bao session is a clean plate. These dumplings are incredibly cheap at Shanghai Cafe, an order of 8 will only cost $3 and a single order is good for 2-3 people depending on how hungry you are. 

Shanghai Cafe
100 Mott St
Btwn Canal & Hester St 
Phone: 212-966-3988

Saturday, December 3, 2005

Five for Five

Being from California, I had no idea that New York State was the second largest producer of wines in the country, just recently supassing Oregon. 

I learned this while I was walking through Soho with my roommate Susana and we stumbled on Vintage, a wine store/bar that offers local New York State wines from the Finger Lakes and the North Fork of Long Island at $5 for 5 tastings. Check out the selection:

The tastings are either self-chosen from a list of bourdeux blends, pinot noirs, merlots, cabernet savignons, syrahs, table wines, chardonnays, fruity whites, fruit wines, ice wines, sparkling wines, fortified wines, etc... you name it they have it. Or you could do what we did and let the very knowledgable bartender choose a selection of different full-bodied reds for us. This is what our $5 got for us:

2001 Macari Bergen Road from Long Island
2001 Paumanok Assemblage from Long Island
2001 Osprey's Dominion Cabernet Savignon from Long Island
Richmond Creek Red Table Wine from Long Island
2002 Jamesport Merlot from Long Island

All the pours were great wines from their respective categories. The table wine was so-so, but we were told not to expect much as the flavor is very mediocre. He recommended a French table wine - Les Jamelles, which I'll pick up a bottle of next time I'm at Broadway Warehouse Wines. I wish I could be more descriptive with what I tasted, but that will have to wait until I take a wine class, hopefully soon. All I can say it that my favorite was the 2001 Paumanok Assemblage.

If our 5 pours wasn't enough of a great deal already, we got 2 additional pours of dessert wines:

2003 Wolffer Late Harvest Chardonnay from Long Island
2004 Casa Larga Delle Stelle Vidal Ice Wine from the Finger Lakes

Late harvest wines are those made from grapes that are allowed to ripen on the vide for an extended time, giving them an increased and intense sugar content. Ice wines are those made from grapes that remain on the vine until after the first frost, allowing for the same concentration of sugars when they are pressed. I don't particularly like dessert wines because I don't have a sweet tooth, but the Vidal was pretty good. I'd definitely have to have a complementary food with it next time I drink it though. Susana really liked the Wolffer, but it was too sweet for me, almost syrupy. 

For anyone curious about New York wines or if ever you're wandering around Broome and Wooster Streets and have $5 in your wallet, I suggest you check this place out and get a cheap buzz. 

Vintage New York
482 Broome Street
Corner of Wooster
Phone: 212-226-9463