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.