Monday, September 24, 2007

Totonnos: A Girl by Any Other Name Would Smell.

As a young Krys, I had many a nickname. Krystopheles. Krystotle. Kryskadekaphobia. But no nickname was more enduring than the name bestowed upon me by mother: Pizza.
If you couldn’t already guess, I was dubbed Pizza because of my insatiable lust for carb and cheese-laden pie. I didn’t mind this nickname so much before puberty, but with my adolescent skin, it took on a new cruelty-filled connotation.
Surprisingly, even with the trauma of being reminded daily of my less than flawless face, I have always had a soft spot for the pizza pie. While my choices in Florida were mainly between Papa John’s and Domino’s, my residence in Brooklyn definitely has its pizza perks. September 2nd marked my 1 year anniversary in my Brooklyn apartment, and Q and I decided to celebrate by trekking out to Coney Island, to feast upon some old-school pizza.
The line outside Totonno’s Pizzeria on Neptune Ave. wasn’t nearly as daunting as the line for Grimaldi’s, and infinitely more organized than Di Fara’s. You merely stand outside the door and patiently wait with the other patrons for a seat to free up inside. Be forewearned, Totonno’s does not offer pizza by the slice so you must order a whole pie. Luckily, I only eat pizza by the pie, so this was no problem for me.
The charming interior transports you to the pizza parlors of yore. The service is friendly and they have a nice selection of Brooklyn Brewery beers to wash down your meal. We ordered our usual combo of pepperoni and garlic, and the results were tremendous.
The sauce was sweeter than most pizza sauces, and it reminded me of my favorite Italian place in Florida (Pizza Time in Coral Springs. SHOUTOUT!), which used a very sweet marinara for their pizza and pasta. The crust had a beautiful char courtesy of their impressive coal-burning oven.
Overall, I have to say that I prefer the pie at Di Fara’s, but I definitely prefer the atmosphere at Totonno’s. I guess I’ll just have to go back to both of them to be sure. Sigh. Even though my face has cleared up, I don’t think that Pizza is a nickname that I’ll ever outgrow.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Doughnut Plant: Peanut Butter Jelly and a Baseball Bat

A few weekends ago, Q and I headed into Manhattan (a rare weekend event) to try out Shopsin’s new location in the Essex Market. However, much to our dismay, the Essex Market is not open on Sundays--information that was lurking somewhere in my Krys-brain, but which failed to make itself known. That’s what you get for not using Google before you walk out the door.

So, we found ourselves, locked outside of the market, screaming and clawing on the doors, and then we realized that tastiness was just steps away at ye old Doughnut Plant, a magical destination which doubles as Homer Simpson's dream workplace. Yes, yes, you can get Doughnut Plant donuts at many purveyors in New York, but they really are best when fresh from the source.


I dug into a sunflower seed doughnut, their seasonal offering de jour. I have to admit, I felt a little crunchy and in touch with Mother Earth. The sweet, nutty flavor haunted my dreams, and now my breakfast choice happens to be sunflower seed butter on toast. I also now use canvas bags when shopping at the farmer's market. I'm so impressionable.

Q chose a peanut butter and jelly doughnut, an unusual choice for him, as he normally avoids jelly-filled goods.


I really enjoyed how even the jelly-filled doughnuts had holes. I always get sad when filled doughnuts looked so bloated and sad next to the sexy yeast doughnuts with their perfect holes. They were always the outcasts of the fried dough world.

Ooh, and they peanut butter doughnut was filled with blueberry jelly.


The only downside of the day was the fact that The Buckwheat Boyz' hit single became lodged in my brain. This wasn't so much a downside as the best thing to happen to me in weeks.


They also had a follow up singled called "Ice Cream and Cake." At least they knew what formula worked for them. Really, what else do you need on a summer's day but awesome tunes and tasty confectionery?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Warming Up to Hill Country

I admit it. I had preconceived notions about Hill Country before I walked in the door. As you may remember, I had the opportunity to try some of their beef ribs at The Big Apple BBQ aka The Happiest Day of Krys’s Year. Mih. They just weren’t that good. All bone and little squishy meat. As with any new restaurant on the scene, the hype started to build, and I was more and more turned off and confused.

Hill Country was like Jessica Simpson: Texan, loud, seemingly untalented, but considered hot to everyone but me.

So, I had pretty much made up my mind about the place before I walked in. I sidled up to the meat counter and grudgingly ordered 1/2 pound of the moist brisket (the deckle), 1/4 pound of the market chicken, and 1 ring of Kreuz Market Sausage, shipped from Texas. Just in case this wasn't enough to sate my ever-growing appetite, I ordered a small portion of Texas Black-Eyed Caviar on the side.


It was a charming set-up, I admit. Everyone was super-friendly, and it was pretty much a cafeteria-style process. You ordered your meat at one counter, your sides at another, and a waiter will make sure you have a refreshing beverage to wash down your cholesterol. I wanted to hate it, but I was starting to become seduced.


The brisket was a bit fat-ladden, but you couldn't accuse it of being dry. That sucker was moist. Moist and flavorful. I think it may be the best brisket that I've had in NYC, and that's including Katz's. Admitedly, brisket isn't my favorite cut of meat, but this was damn tasty.


Never having been to Texas, I had never tasted a Kreuz Market Sausage. Yum. It was impossible to take a semi-appetizing photo, because the butcher's paper became increasingly more grease-stained. I take that as a sign of quality.


A true standout of the meal turned out to be the market chicken. Even the white meat was moist and tender, and the smoky-sweet skin didn't need any additional sauce.

Okay, fine. It's a good restaurant. Are you happy? I tried to find fault, and I just couldn't. My only complaint it that the black-eyed pea caviar was a little dry and not all that noteworthy, but that is really being nit-picky. I really, really enjoyed Hill Country. That doesn't mean that I have to put Ms. Simpson on my ipod.

And finally, to clear up any doubts I had, the wetnaps proved that everything is indeed bigger in Texas.


Saturday, August 18, 2007

New York Snackshot: Guaranteed So Hot

Guaranteed Hot

It'll burn your face off.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Palo Santo: My Aquatic Fantasy

Sometimes I view my life like an outsider watching a movie. In it, there's a sassy guardian angel, dispensing sage advice with a kicky attitude, kind of like Queen Latifah. While the Queen boosts my confidence while teaching me the importance of keeping it real, I also have a personal cupid of sorts. Chef Jacques Gautier of Palo Santo has been creating my most romantic meals since his days at La Brunette, a fantastic French-Carribean restaurant in Williamsburg.

Whenever I ate there, I felt like Gautier was personally ensuring that Q would fall madly in love with me as he had another oyster amuse bouche. Gautier was my own personal Sebastian the Crab, crooning "Kiss De Girl."

When La Brunette closed it's doors, I had no choice but to teach myself how to cook (actually, Queen Latifah may have pushed me in that direction), but I kept my eyes peeled as to what Gautier was doing next. Because the whole world revolves around me, Chef Gautier opened a new restaurant, Palo Santo in a brownstone in nearby Park Slope. It has quickly become a favorite.

On a recent visit, we started with a green gazpacho with toasted pinenuts.


The gazpacho had a tang of watermelon, and the pinenuts and drizzle of olive oil provided a wonderful textural contrast. The soup was cool and refreshing, especially when eaten in their sunny back room overlooking a soothing fountain.

Because Chef Gautier is Sebastian the Crab in my head, I subconsciously adhered to an aquatic menu. I can't remember the name of our next dish, but our waitress explained it was a peruvian street food. I love street food, and I'm willing to try all types, including skewered duck hearts.


These were delicious. Again, the addition of yukon gold potatoes and green onions made the texture so much more interesting. You can tell that texture is a big thing with me. For his main dish, Q ordered a coconut clam stew.


I can't speak to the flavor of the dish, but isn't it pretty?!? The presentation of the stew blew me away. Q certainly seemed to love it. Personally, I decided upon the seared tuna.


I wish that I was able to photograph more of the accompanying veggies, because they were as much the star as the tuna. Blue potatoes, radishes, and string beans were all tossed in a light, lemony vinegar, the perfect crunchy side to the tuna. While my dish may have appeared a little light in flavor compared to Q's hearty stew, I thought it was perfect.

Palo Santo has a bar alongside the kitchen, where patrons can submit to the will of Chef Gautier and eat his tasting menu, consisting of whatever he wants to make for you. While I am incredibly tempted to do so, I don't want to ruin the fantasy that a tiny crab is back there, orchestrating my romantic evening. Sigh. I guess I'm willing to sacrifice that fantasy for an amazing meal. At least I'll always have Queen Latifah.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

New York Snackshot: Blue Cheese


My favorite form of transportation.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Atlantic ChipShop: Comfort Food 2.0

Deep frying is an extreme sport—it shouldn't be attempted by the faint of heart. That's why I'm more than happy to leave the hard work to the nice folks at the Atlantic Avenue Chip Shop. They will happily batter and fry anything your imagination can muster. There's even a place on their website where you can suggest things to fry. I've had their fish and chips (the haddock is amazing), and I've dreamt about their deep fried pizza, but they always seem to be out when I'm there. They just don't want me to be happy.

I was perusing the sides a few weeks ago, and I have no idea how I missed it before... fried macaroni and cheese. The next generation of comfort food. Those words are a challenge, a dare to test your capacity for unhealthy food. I'm not one to back down from a dare. I like mac and cheese, and I like deep fried things. Bring it on. ("Is a great movie" was the end of that sentence.)


I happen to be a fan of crunchy breadcrumb topping on my mac and cheese. The deep-fried exterior had the flavor and the crunch of the traditional breadcrumb topping, but made exponentially more deadly and delicious. The ball shape took me back to my days of elementary school cafeterias, where the mac and cheese was always lovingly served with an ice cream scoop.

Speaking of serving food with an ice cream scoop, Q swears that tuna salad was not only served with a scoop in his elementary school, it was served in a cone. I don't believe him. Was this anyone else's experience? Is our public school food that awesome in our country?

I love that they served it on a bed of lettuce. I was able to convince myself that this was actually a crunchy, gooey salad. The capacity for delusion is very important when eating with me. I shared this orb of deliciousity with two other people, but I definitely recommend ending an Atlantic Avenue bar crawl with a mac and cheese ball of your very own. I just don't recommend finishing your deep-fried meal with a fried reese's peanut butter cup. Oh, what am I saying. Of course I do.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

New York Snackshot: Pies Don't Get Fired

pies, originally uploaded by tokyohanna.

They get burned.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Hello Moto

There are so many restaurants in New York, but so few hidden gems. Some of the greatest eating experiences in the city have been blogged about so many times, and by the time you go, you feel like you've already been.

Q and I have been interested in Moto, a small cafe under the elevated J and M trains, ever since we walked by on our way to Pies and Thighs, months ago. Apparently, the cafe was featured in the documentary, Eat This New York, which is going on my Netflix queue riiiight... now.

Excellent. Position 55. I really need to watch my dvds in a timely fashion. Anyhoo, besides its prominence in this documentary, I really haven't read too much about Moto. Stepping inside, I couldn't help but really feel like I'd stumbled on a true hidden destination. There isn't a sign on the door, and the inside makes you feel like you're in another country in another time. It's kind of like a French cafe mashed up with an automotive repair shop.

The brunch menu was a bit small, mostly consisting of eggs and paninis, but there were some standouts, ranging from grilled doughnuts to the date cake. There doesn't seem to be a consistent cuisine, just as there doesn't seem to be a consistent music genre for the live acts that play during the week. Turkey, Italy, and France seemed to all be represented, but I had already settled on the apple pancake with creme fraiche.


Mmmm. The pancake was thick without being too dense, and every bite was packed with apples. Its size is deceptively small, but I was mighty full afterwards. There was a bit too much creme fraiche, but that was easily remedied by the power of my spoon.

Just to give you an idea of the sandwiches that dominated the menu, Q had the prosciutto and brie panini with pesto. He thought that the bread was nice and crusty, and the buttery, grassy melted brie paired nicely with the not-too-salty bit o' Parma ham. Pity the pesto was vying for all the attention, but that's by no means a deal breaker. Still a tasty sammich.


Ooh, their coffee was good too. I'm a conflicted Krys. I want people to flock to this restaurant and eat yummy food, but I also want it to remain hidden so I can always get a table. I guess you can't have everything. Sigh. Well, when you do go, be sure to save me a seat.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Momofuku Noodle Bar: FUK YEAH!!!

Ah, Ramen-- that inexpensive staple of every college student's diet. My greatest victories back in my college years were when I scored an A in Calculus and when I would find a deal for 10 packs of ramen for $1. The latter happened more often than the former, unfortunately. Momofuku Noodle Bar wasn't around back in my NYU days. If it had been, my idea of ramen would have been vastly different.

Even at 10pm, there's a 20 minute wait on a Saturday night to sadle up to the small bar and slurp some noodles. We started with an order of pork buns.


These are like grown-up, delicious sliders from White Castle. The pork belly is extremely fatty and delectably tender. Next time, I may just skip the ramen altogether and have a feast of pork buns.

I decided that an all-pork meal was a bit much, even for me (I'm up to 1.5 pigs total this year methinks), so I decided upon the Chicken Ramen.


I may as well have ordered it with pork. The chicken was cooked under a press on the griddle, and the pressure made the skin crisp and strangely pork-like. I'm a huge fan of chicken cooked under a press (or a brick). While the skin crisps up, the meat remains sooo tender. The broth, made from chicken and pork bones, including some other pork products, was salty and flavorful. The noodles were accompanied with vibrantly green peas and scallions, as well as some bamboo shoots and a thin piece of seaweed. I usually like my noodles a little less soft, but I thought the consistency definitely melded well with the chicken and peas. Afterwards I could feel the pork broth escaping through my pores, but in the best possible way. Like a reverse pork facial.

My only problem with ramen is that I just can't eat it in a semi-attractive manner. I'm the type of girl who twirls her spaghetti with a spoon. It's so hard for me to shove noodles in my mouth with chopsticks and not look like I'm a cow going after some grass. At least with the bar setup, I was just facing the cooks, so it's not like another patron had to watch my glorious, slurping display.

That 25 cent package of ramen in my cupboard used to be a very guilty pleasure, but now, thanks to the popularity of New York ramen joints, I can finally voice my love of ramen with pride. I just need to doctor it up with a little more than an egg, soy sauce, and some peanut butter (hey, don't knock it til you've tried it).

Saturday, July 21, 2007

What a Jerk (Chicken)!

Wow. Sorry I haven't updated in ages. It's been a busy, hot month, and I haven't felt like heating up my already hot kitchen with some cooking action.

Plus, I've been reaaaaally lazy.

However, about a week ago, we had one gorgeous day, and my kitchen was actually a normal temperature. I knew that wouldn't do, so I flipped on the oven to roast something. I usually associate roasting with the fall, but I had my sights set on a recipe for Jerk Chicken from The Soul of a New Cuisine. Mmmmm. The mixture of chiles, cinnamon, and cayenne mixed with roasted vegetables and fruit. Perfect summer fare.

I really don't think there is a more passive-agressive food than Jerk Chicken. Witness the following conversation between Q and me.

Krys: Hey Q. Did you clean the floors today?
Q: No. I'll get to it.
Krys: Eh, that's okay. I'm going to be in the kitchen anyway. I'll just do it while I'm in there.
Q: Whatcha cookin'?
Krys: Jerk chicken.
Q: I'll get the mop.

Even if the name implies resentment, it only has the best intentions-- to love your tongue.


Roasting a chicken is sooo simple, but it has such a big payoff... as long as you can deal with a warm kitchen. But since it was a coolish day, it wasn't a big deal. I rubbed the 4-pound chicken with the jerk spice mix (a blend of garlic, jalapenos, allspice, cinnamon, cayenne, brown sugar, white pepper, thyme, salt, ginger, scallions, lime juice, red wine vinegar, and the blood of a virgin goat). I also spread some of the jerk mix over some cubed veggies like yukon gold potatoes, sweet potatoes, and parsnip, along with some cubed fruits. The recipe calls for quince, but since they're not in season, I just used some pears and apples. The result was both sweet and spicy, just like my most favorite jerk in all the land-- Q.

I could use some help cleaning the bathroom... maybe I'll make up a batch of bastard stew.

Monday, July 09, 2007

More Than Meets the Fry

There was another major event on July 4th besides the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Competition. I'm talking, of course, about Michael Bay's opus, Transformers.

Am I the only one getting a little weary of all of the 80s remakes lately? Although, I cannot WAIT for the inevitable CSI: Duckburg from Jerry Bruckheimer. For reals. I can just hear the scary trailer voice now. "IN A WORLD... WHERE LIFE IS LIKE A HURRICANE." Maybe Haley Joel Osment can play Huey, Dewey, and Louie.

I have too much time on my hands.

I've been hesitant to pony up nearly $11 for it, only because I don't really want to see another piece of childhood nostalgia raped by Michael Bay.

However, I had no problem ponying up cash for the most genius piece of cross-promotional merchandise I have ever seen.

Meet Optimash Prime. Oh, how I love puns.

Unfancy Feast: Dispatches from the 2007 Unfancy Food Show

Yesterday, I ventured into ye olde Williamsburg to East River Bar for the First Annual (I hope) Unfancy Food Show. While it was a little small, I thought it was a great idea and a great way to meet food purveyors who may not travel on the Greenmarket circuit.


Personally, I can't think of a better way to spend a hot summer's day than to hang out in a backyard, sip a beer, and taste wonderful products that I may not usually get to sample. The definite highlight was the amazing smell emanating from the grill. The bratwurst and burgers from Fleisher's Meats not only smelled great, but they were probably the most flavorful meat that I've sampled for home use. At $6/lb for the ground beef, it is a little more expensive than my local butcher, but it's definitely an affordable splurge.


The bratwurst was nice and spicy, and the burgers apparently didn't have any additional seasoning, but they were paired with some blue cheese from the nearby stand occupied by Jasper Hill Farm.


I know this is going to sound crazy, but burgers and cheese are an amazing combination. I know! Who knew? The Bayley Hazen blue cheese was so creamy and tangy and surprisingly mild for a blue cheese. I'm personally not a huge fan of blue cheese but this was delicious.

Both Fleisher's and Jasper Hill products can be found at Marlow & Sons. I popped into their market afterwards and it is really quite wonderful. I can't wait to eat at the actual restaurant. It's on my list. Oh yes. It's on my list. I can only hope that next year's show remains as down to earth as this one, where you actually get to chat with the wonderful folks who shove things in your mouth. After you chew and swallow, of course. I may be unfancy, but I'm still classy.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


Happy 4th of July!!!! Although it's the 5th. Darn. Eh, I'm a little late. Deal with it.

I've been spending the last few weeks pondering the most patriotic of all foods: the hot dog. Although it may be German in origin, it is all-american, like the inverse of David Hasselhoff. I noticed that Off The Broiler hosted a supermarket hot dog tasting with very impressive scientific dedication. I wasn't as interested in finding the absolute best hot dog out there. I was more interested in exploring the many varied frankfurter options that New York had to offer. Thus began my quest.

Gray’s Papaya
First Stop- Gray’s Papaya! When I first thought about writing about Gray's Papaya on this blog, I thought of going all out. I was all set to write a parody of Gray's Anatomy with characters like the restaurant owner, Merde Gray, and her boyfriend, McGreasy. They were going to have the most boring adventures and be the most hateable characters, just like the TV show. Then I bit into one of their hot dogs, and I realized they just weren't worth the effort.


Gray's uses Sabrett's dogs and buns, and while they are very good franks with a wonderful *snap*, I still felt like dying a half hour later. I felt like the grease was forming a pool in my belly button. I think this may be because of the onions I dared to have as a condiment. I do have to give props to the fact that you can get two dogs and a drink for under four bucks, but honestly, one dog was enough for me.

I began to have serious doubts about this hot dog round-up. So much so, that I recruited Q to actually review a few dogs of his own. There's just way too much out there for one girl to cover on her own. It's hard out there for a Krys.

New York Hot Dog Company
Q here. Hearing of fancy hot-doggery in my work hood, I proceeded to the New York Hot Dog Company for lunch. The place has been described as an upscale hot dog stand, but in 10 years, after losing its newfangled luster, I highly doubt that this will look a far cry from neighboring mainstay Mike's Papaya, with whom they appear to be competing by the look of their relatively pedestrian, low-cost menu. A reasonable student deal clocks in at a single buck, but my focus was on, em, "classier" fare, I went for the more unusual items on the list: a dog in a knish, and a Kobe beef dog.

Now I know the place just opened, and any newbie should be given the benefit of the doubt until they work out the inevitable kinks, but... To start with, my dog with onions and sauerkraut on a knish came on a bun. No big - I asked for the simple correction, received the order and tucked in. Problem #2 - this time no sauerkraut. Ok, no big deal, though omitting the kraut is a serious sin in my book.


The knish and dog were pretty unremarkable, but combined for some seriously solid fare that saves the trouble of eating a potatoey side actually on the side. Wish it was on a Yonah Schimmel though. Despite the warm weather and heavy dish, I decided I shouldn't head out without getting a Kobe dog, which I haven't seen on too many menus. This time the ordering itself was a minor hassle, as I had to thrice correct the cashier that I wanted blue cheese, not cheddar. Luckily I was watching the (different than last) cook during this back and forth, or I would have wound up with a plain ol' beef dog (valued at $1.50) for the $6 I shelled for the Kobe he failed insert into the bun. Correction made, I returned to the counter and bit in.


I was immediately squirted in the face with hot juice from my hearty tube steak (...hehe). Overall, nicely cooked, and with an ideally crisp crunch to the casing, but I'm not sure my frankfurter palette is refined enough to justify the $4.50 price difference for what I can only define as "slightly meatier" than a standard all-beef.

Overall, it's not a big enough step up from the Papayas of the city to keep me interested, and the service, if they don't work it out, will be its demise.

Crif Dogs

I have many a time approached Crif Dogs' inviting "Eat Me" sign and loped down its steps sober, and can attest that even the uninebriated tongue appreciates the deep-fried, bacon-wrapped tube-o-goodness found within. However, the likelihood of pausing to think about just what I'm shoving down my gullet is much higher without the senses dulled, so this reviewing trip was dutifully performed under the influence after a stop at Crif's next door speakeasy, PDT (Please Don't Tell). This is not a PDT review, so I'll scarcely address the incongruous cocktail bar, entered via telephone booth, save to note its negative effect on its next door eatery. But first on to the dog.

As it was nearing morning, it seemed apropos to order up the Good Morning, the aforementioned artery-bomb, wrapped in a fried egg and an unnaturally orange slice of American cheese.


This is a breakfast sandwich with a death wish, and while I can't quite taste the dog itself for all the sodium, the cumulative effect is a salty, satisfying delight. From impoverished college memory, this sucker is filling, though it will set you back $4.25, leaving little in your work-study cash strapped wallet for glorious accompaniments like cheese-covered tater tots and teeth destroying RC Cola.

Crif Dogs, lying near the nexus of St. Marks and Ave. A, is pretty much a natural pub-crawl stopover, and as a result of the varied establishments around, its always drawn quite a range of crowds, but the addition of PDT, on this night, seems to have brought on an onslaught of monied Wall Streeter dudes and dolled up clutch-toting lasses, which kinda detracts from the stoner-chic shabbiness of the place. Being new,the attached bar is so popular that Crif itself now comes off as the sideshow, not the main event. Also, it looks as if the addition has resulted in the disappearance of the dog-counter's beer taps and a few seats. But amid all this unwelcome change, this deathly menu will always have a place on the itinerary of any East Village crawl.

Willie’s Dawgs
Okee, Krys here. Stop #4 was Willie’s Dawgs, a relative newcomer to the speciality hot dog world, located in Park Slope. This was a little out of my way, and I almost ended up skipping this stop, but boy am I glad I didn’t. This was the biggest surprise on my weiner quest (heh heh heh).

The store itself is rather unassuming. I didn’t notice a large sign overhead, but the open doors and the delicious smell of summer clued me in. I decided upon a “Carlos,” or a beef dog with cheddar, salsa, and jalapeno peppers, on a fresh-baked challah roll.


The frank was more substantial than most and rather delicious, and I later found that it was a Karl Ehmer frank with natural casing. I am a little concerned about the fact that googling “Karl Ehmer” brings up a few links to e-coli articles, but hell, it was one of the best franks I’ve had in New York. The fresh-baked challah roll was tender, buttery, and delicious. Soooo much better than the fresh-baked rolls at ye olde Subway shoppe. I thought the roll held up very well to the strong flavors of the cheese and the jalapenos, and I imagine that the salsa would make a weaker bun too soggy. That may fly with hot dog eating competitions, but I prefer my bun to be in a solid state, not a liquid.

They also score points for being one of the few hot dog joints offering outdoor seating and dessert. Their peanut butter pie looked damn good, but if you have room after eating hot dogs, yous gots problems.

F&B Gudt-food was the last stop on my carnivorous journey.

After spending a bit of time studying their menu (complete with pictures! You don’t even have to read to enjoy tubular meat), I settled on the “Farm Dog,” a chicken dog with pickled corn relish.


The dog didn’t have that refreshing *snap* that I’ve so come to love. In fact, it was a little chewy. I’m not sure if that was a result of having poultry origins, or maybe from the method of cooking. In either case, the dog was a little bland, but the corn relish was a great addition. The frites were crisp and delicious and definitely the star of the meal, which is never a good sign. They offered other tasty side dishes such as sweet potato fries and fried green beans, and like any good Belgian frite place, they offered a small variety of dips for the frites. Yum.

After all these wieners, we figured ourselves in fighting shape for the Nathan's Hot Dog Contest.


Having eaten all the above over the course of weeks, however, we didn't quite qualify, so we instead watched from half a block away as 17 men and women exercised our god given right as Americans to consume all that lies before us. Standing next to a group of vegetarian protesters, we cheered on upstart Joey Chestnut as he proceeded to topple his own world record and unseat six time champ, Takeru Kobayashi, the Michael Jordan of mastication, in a close-to-call match. In the end, the final score came down to 66 to 63, and we watched with patriotic tears in our eyes as the Mustard Belt finally came back to the USA.


Its like the Miracle on Ice. Someday, it will be immortalized in a movie, and Kurt Russell will play Joey's coach. Anyhow, after witnessing the consumption of 576.5 franks consumed in 12 minutes (that's 48 per minute) right before our very eyes, we declined to review Nathan's itself as planned.

And with that, I'm going to the gym. Goodnight.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Tarting It Up at My Block Party

I’m not one to get starstruck. Whenever I happen to see a “celebrity,” I don’t automatically send an email to Gawker Stalker or run for my cell phone camera. As UsWeekly has told me time and time again, Stars, They’re Just Like Us ™.

That being said, how could anyone who is “just like me” pass up this mixed berry tart?!?


Look at it! It’s beautiful! And delicious! So, how, Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams, how could you just saunter on by and not give it a second glance? They don’t make tarts like this in your Brokeback Mountain or your Dawson’s Creek (except Katie Holmes. ZING!)

Heath, you seem like a tart-loving man, no offense to Michelle. There were many delectable foods on display at our block party, so I can see how you would be overwhelmed by all of the choices and choose to simply walk on by. But really, was there any choice to be made? THAT TART WAS THE PINNACLE OF ALL TARTS.

Stars are apparently nothing like me, because I would have ran over to the buffet parked in the middle of the street and helped myself to tasty desserts, block residence be damned. That’s just how I roll.

Not only was this resplendent pastry on full display, but the most attractive strawberry-rhubarb pie that I have ever had the fortune to bake was right next to it.


Observe how the egg white brushing makes the crust a beautiful shade of golden-brown! Marvel at how the filling isn’t pushing itself out of the sides! Tremble at the masterful slits and the ingenious pinching! I have to say, I’m mighty proud of myself. I have made many a pie in my time, but none that have actually come out resembling pies. Well played, Krys. Well played.

Both recipes came from the massive and unabridged Baking Illustrated from the good folks of Cooks Illustrated. I think I've said it before, but you really can't go wrong with this book. Well, unless you make croissants. I can't figure them out.

Here's a link for the tart recipe, but you'll need to register (there's a free 14 day trial). I actually did modify this recipe a bit, so I'll post my modifications shortly. The strawberry-rhubarb pie was a result of following the recipe to a T, so unfortunately, I can't post that copyrighted recipe here. (SPOILER ALERT: It uses arrowroot as a thickener.) These desserts may not be good enough for the celebrities in my hood, but they certainly are good enough for me.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Okay, I just need to take a timeout and express how friggin' excited I am for Ratatouille.

I really think that KFC is missing out not having a promotional tie-in. Rats are somewhat synonymous with the Colonel. I wonder if McDonald's will.

Here is a glimpse of what kind of merchandise is going to be available. There's a radio control Remy. Perfect for my kitchen! Or I could just go down the street and see the real things, but I somehow doubt any of them have aspirations of being chefs.

Check out the preview here. I can't wait for June 29th! I totally seem like a shill here, but I don't care. Adorable pixar rats + a film about cooking = an excited Krys.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Red Hook Ball Fields: Brooklyn Mexican Latin Madness

Growing up in Florida, I was never a huge fan of summer. Being outside in South Florida when it is 95 degrees and humid sucks. It sucks hard. However, I have discovered that I positively love summers in New York. It can be just as hot and just as humid, but there's always some interesting (and usually cheap) way to enjoy the heat.

I also love summers in New York because of all of the outdoor eating options. As I mentioned in my last post, I basically like eating with lots of other people, whether I know them or not. One of the absolute best places to get your food on is at the soccer fields in Red Hook. I'm trying to think of a good way to describe the Red Hook Ball-Field experience, and "colorful" is way too cliche. Maybe "comfortable."

The Porkchop Express has a great writeup on the history of the Field's food stands here, and a super-handy map. I wish I had discovered this before I went, but I kind of like figuring things out with my stomach.

The stands are located along a small corner of the soccer fields, but it would take days to sample all of the food available. There isn't really a language barrier as all of the venders are super-nice and accomodating when your spanish isn't up to snuff. Smiling and pointing will get you far.

First stop: Soler Dominican for a pork and cheese papusa.


This was my first experience with the papusa, and I didn't realize how similar it is to an arepa. Pork, cheese, and cornmeal are amazing in any country, and the cabbage coleslaw added a great crunch. This was a great start.

Next stop: Ceron Colmbian for an empanada. Unfortunately, I don't think I dig my dumplings deep-fried, which is surprising because I enjoy EVERYTHING deep-fried. I just can't handle greasy food on hot days. Q enjoyed it because it reminded him of a Jamaican patty.


Up next: Rojas Ecuadorian for some mixed ceviche.


Holy crap, this was a lot of food! For $7, we were handed a pint of delicious citrus broth full of shrimp, fish, octopus, and squid. Everything was sooo tender and refreshing. The octopus was a bit chewy, but not in a bad way. I'm used to ceviche being less brothy and more like salsa, so this was a bit different. It was more like a cold fish soup, but it was so delicious. I wish that they served it at every sporting event, but I somehow don't think Yankees fans would go for that.

More food: Carrello Guatamalan for a fried chicken taco.


I have memories of eating those microwave taquito thingees in the afternoons when I got home from high school. I also liked Hot Pockets at that time. I apparently was a fratboy stoner when I was 16. Anyhoo, I had no idea what how similar they were to poop-shaped cardboard before I had a real, homemade taquito. The chicken was so flavorful and the tomato sauce on top was so friggin' good. I hearby dub it the crackito. Yup.

This wouldn't be a post if I didn't include some pork porn. (I can't wait to see how many google hits I get for that). Final stop: Hernandez Huaraches for a spicy pork taco.


At that point, we couldn't fit a whole huarache in our rapidly expanding bellies, so we just grabbed a taco for dessert. The pork was a little dry, so it may be better to grab your meat-stuffed tortillas earlier in the day, but it was nice and crisp. It had just the right amount of cooling lettuce and cheese to counterbalance the salty, spicy pork.

The best part of this feast was that I think we spent around $15 for all of this food. Any time you can stuff Q and me for that cheap is quite an impressive feat.

In just a few hours, I had tasted amazing home-cooking from around Latin America. It was almost like a summer in Florida, going around the world at Epcot Center, but sooooo, soooo, (soooooo) much better. This is why I like summers in New York.

Unfortunately, the stands are in danger right now. I won't go into a huge amount of detail, but you can read about everything here at The Gowanus Lounge. If this post interested you at all in this amazing Brooklyn experience, visit, write to Parks Commissioner Drian Benepe, and get your butt over to the Ball Fields to eat some tacos. If only eating tacos solved every problem. Wait, it kinda does.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

2007 Big Apple BBQ: My Continuing Journey to Becoming a Pork Product

Two weekends ago, we left the safe haven of Brooklyn to attend the 5th Annual Big Apple BBQ Block Party in Madison Square Park. We put on our finest elastic pants and practiced our stretches. We weren't going for the spectacle... we meant business. The Big Apple Barbecue brought together some of the finest barbecue from across the country, and by gum we were going to stuff ourselves on tasty offerings from across the land. It was our patriotic duty.

We had stopped at the BBQ in 2006, but we were young and unprepared for the tastiness. Not this year. We had our map and our plan of attack all ready. As soon as we arrived, we made a beeline for the whole hog sandwich from Mitchell's BBQ from Wilson, North Carolina. Ed Mitchell is a genius. The meat itself is so tender and flavorful, seasoned with salt and some secret seasonings (maybe they weren't so secret, but I like the mystery), and bits of the cooked skin chopped up for good measure. The only downside is occasionally finding a bit of bone, but that's an obstacle I'm willing to face.


The picture does not represent how truly delicious this is. I'm telling you. If you like pork, and you have the opportunity to try this sandwich, DO IT.

We braved another long line to sample some baby back ribs from 17th Street Bar & Grill from Murphysboro, Illinois. The pitmaster, Mike Mills, seems to be somewhat of a legend on the barbecue circuit, and I trusted the extremely long line to steer me to yumminess


I was able to peek at the ribs inside the giant smoker. Yum.


I think the portions at the event were pretty generous. If you're sharing every dish and have your heart on trying most of the out-of-towners, you'll be quite stuffed. Anyhoo, the ribs did not disappoint. The meat was tender, but not too saucy. It broke away from the bone cleanly, which is apparently desirable in a rib. I just knew it was tasty.

Since the line for the 17th Street Bar and Grill was so long, Q ran to Ubon's "Champion's Choice' from Yazoo, Mississippi to grab some pulled pork shoulder. The line was nonexistent, so he was able to quickly procure some line-waiting fuel.

Eh. There was a reason the line was short. The pork itself lacked a bit in flavor. While it certainly was good, it didn't compare to the other offerings.

We then waddled over to the beer garden for a breather.


I think Madison Square Park should always have a beer garden set up. Screw Shake Shack.

The offerings weren't just limited to pork. There was beef too! The Salt Lick BBQ from Driftwood, Texas offered beef brisket and sausage. I'm not a huge sausage fan, but it was nicely spicy and had a good snap. The brisket was very good, but I thought the best thing about The Salt Lick was their selection of sauces. I should have seen if I could buy a bottle. Oh well.


At this point, our pants were getting a wee bit tight. We met up with our friend Jill, who is now living in Baltimore, so we went by the New York offerings so she could quickly catch up. We went by our favorite BBQ joint in the city, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, and sampled their pulled pork shoulder.


Oh Yazoo, Mississippi, now THIS is pulled pork shoulder! Delicious! Dinosaur can do no wrong in my eyes. The sandwich was sweet and tangy, but the meat flavor always shone through.

While we were strolling by the New York stands, we decided to try the offerings from Hill Country, a new BBQ joint that had just opened that weekend. Hill Country offers Texas-style BBQ, meaning beef! We bit into one of their huge beef ribs.


Unfortunately, most of the rib was bone. The rib definitely did not live up to the hype going around about this place, but I'll give the restaurant a shot.

MAXIMUM MEAT CAPACITY!!! We were heading into a giant coma brought on by copious amounts of beef and pork. Wait. What's that giant vat?


Brunswick Stew, eh? That sounds a bit dubious. Wait, doesn't that usually have squirrel in it? Sure does smell good though. Ok, maybe a little taste...


This tied as my absolute favorite thing here (along with Mitchell's whole hog sandwich). They passed out recipe cards so you can be sure of what you're eating, but I'm not going to ruin the surprise for you. I'll definitely need to try my hand at making it, but the recipe card is for a few gallons of the stuff. May need to cut that down a bit. Maybe.

You can buy a Bubba's Fast Pass, which allows you to go in shorter VIP style lines, but I actually really like the experience of waiting in line. Everyone is there for the same thing, and they kill time by sharing stories and experiences. Nothing brings people together like delicious barbecue, cold beer, and a beautiful day in the park. Sigh. Life is good.