Monthly Archives: July 2012

Taim Mobile and 7-Eleven: Are you kidding me?

No I’m not kidding! You don’t need to go to fancy restaurants to enjoy delicious food, it’s just a short walk down the block, especially if you live in Bangkok.  It seems that the people who enjoy one of the world’s tastiest cuisines on a daily basis, with its amazingly balanced mix of hot, sour, bitter and sweet had turned into 7-Eleven fanatics. How can I forget Cowboy Street?   Not for the fact that it’s the center of one of the red lights districts, but because the  7-Eleven I visited to buy a dim sum snack was across a narrow street from a 7-Eleven and another 7-Eleven right next door. I can’t believe that there are over 3,000 7-Eleven’s in Bangkok alone.

Let’s get to the point here.  Taim Mobile! (means delicious in Hebrew). The Falafel Platter is in fact delicious and hands down the best Falafel in NYC.  But you need to find the truck.  Luckily it’s at the World Financial Center a few days a week. I’m not a man of habit, but almost every Monday for the last eight Mondays I’ve indulged in these falafel balls mixed in hummus (how appropriate for my first post) and harissa that create a melt-in-your-mouth extravaganza, while indulging in the sweet flavor of the quinoa salad and the freshness of the Israelli Salad.   But this yummy lunch is not complete until you try the nectarous Pear, Lemon, Mint smoothie.  I enjoyed it so much, I had perfected it at home every weekend over the last month (with Vodka!).  I still think you can’t beat the Wild Cherry Slurpee with a corn dog and a beef jerky (my dinner tonight), but it’s a great NYC  lunch.   I hope to take Ziggy to the truck so he can experience what I think is a true  brouhaha.

Categories: New York City, Trucks | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Dekalb Market and Bushwick munching – Can I pay for this free pizza??

Ever since the Hummus Whisperer was a little boy, he wanted 2 things.  Getting a fish pedicure by authentic Garra Rufa, and eating authentic Napoli style Pizza at Roberta’s.  Now that he accomplished the former, he wouldnt shut up about Roberta’s.  Every month or so he would go “oh, you know what I would like to try?”  and I would answer “Yes I know Roberta’s.  You mentioned it a few days ago”.  Time has come to fulfill a little boy’s dream…

The super popular Roberta’s happen to host the annual Bushwick block party yesterday.  As soon as we entered we saw a huge line for free Roberta’s pies and I really hate lines unless food is involved.  Sometimes I see a line and I just get on it and ask questions later.  “DMV?  oh look at the time, I’ll come back some other time”.  But we decided to come back later and check out some of the other vendors first in an area I can best describe as the graffiti and tattoo capital of the world .

Started with a familiar face, Furn Shawarma.  I’m not big into Chicken Shawarmas as I prefer meat but this was pretty darn good.  Perhaps even better than Mamouns in the village.  This was a nice piece of art.  Yogurt marinated, beautifully spiced goodness with various veggies and a nice sauce.  First and best thing I ate all day.  Then I took it easy with some healthy Ethiopian from Bunna Cafe.  Tried the Gomen, steamed kale with other veggies and spices, Yellow split pea salad, and the more satisfying split red lentils with spicy barbere.  But the best part may be the spongy, smooth, flat Injera bread they serve with it.  Finally I had a chance to try the touted Arancini (rice balls) from the Arancini Bros.  Tried the Ragu and the Norma.  Nicely done!  Could have used a bit more of the non-rice goodies inside, a bit of a tease, but tasty nonetheless.  I think I got spoiled by the Jambalaya rice balls of Staten Island’s Bayou.

Then we finally decided to get our free pizzas and fufill a dream.  Got on line, stood for a few minutes until we were told its past 2 pm so no more free pizzas but we could go to the bar area and pay for our pizzas which I did.  But with all the chaos with the people on line continuing to snag all the free pies, they said it may take a while to get ours so I just got my money back.  Hey I’m trying to pay for this free stuff and I still cant get it!!  And after we realized that waiting for a table inside Roberta’s will require an hour wait, reality struck. Sorry man, we are not getting Roberta’s today!!

Moving on to the Dekalb Market.  A market in the middle of the hustle and bustle of downtown Brooklyn with stores peeping out of shipping containers.  Just in time for some Brazilian band performing with all kinds of technical issues including some weird Depeche Mode rendition.   After surveying the impressive food array with the little appetite I had left I started with some grilled Filipino Longanisa sausage from Maharlika.  Very sweet sausage, almost like sweet potatoe but tasty nonetheless especially once you add some of their spicy vinegar.  Comes with nice aromatic garlic rice.   Before that I tried the Korean Taco from Oaxaca.  Feh! dry, probably seating there for a while meat swimming in red sauce.  The clunker of the day.  The HW meanwhile was busy drowning his sorrows with a double dose of Centruy frozen yogurt.  Time to head back to our families.

As the HW put a reminder on his iphone for the next Bushwick block party, I noticed a tear.  A tear made of hummus!

Categories: Brooklyn, New York City | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Williamsburg – Aurora

(Visited April 2012)

Quicky post to fill in some spots in Brooklyn with another terrific find in the ‘burg.  I may be the only Meshugenah (thats crazy for the yidish challenged) in Staten Island to take his family all that way to Williamsburg for a 3 course meal. 

Started with some tasty apps.  Nice flatbread, juicy homemade sausage.  Grilled octopus wasnt one of the best I’ve had but good nonetheless – could have used a bit more…what you cal it.. flavor.  Pastas were surprisingly the weakest link here. Garganelli with pork Ragu was good but surprisingly didnt have the look and texture of authentic Garganelli that I’m accustomed to.  It had more of a Pappardelle look.  The manager than explained that although they make their own pastas they dont quite have the same  machines like in Italy to make real Garganelli.  Pasta special with crab was on the greasy side.  I love grease!  Wild boar with Polenta was excellent and so was the fish special (fluke if I remember correctly).  Desserts were the highlight especially the Panna Cotta which transported me back to Venice (no joke here – it was a Ratatouille moment).  In short its a solid 4 out of 5.  I would like to come back and give some of the other pastas a chance like the good sounding Pappardelle Di Castagne.  Check it out folks

Categories: Brooklyn, New York City | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tapa’ing in the village – Las Ramblas, Alta and more

Before I talk about the recent food crawl, I have an announcement.  Arirang, the popular Hibachi chain has added a new act 😯  Yes book  now before it catches on!!  Now when they do the snowman thing, they add something that resembles hair on top of it, call it Lady Gaga and proceed with a quick Bad Romance rendition.  It was my oldest’s wish to go to Arirang for her birthday the other day  and no I’m not going to shock my 3 loyal remaining readers by reviewing Arirang.  I mean what professional food blogger or reviewer even goes to Hibachi steakhouses.   Somehow I just cant imagine the New York Times reviewer frantically moving his head from side to side with his mouth open to catch the shrimp tail and then write about it.  But if I would write about it, I would write about the deteriorating meat quality, shaky service and the weaker than usual volcano eruption.  But I digress..

The other day, me and my [perhaps] only foodie friend who for the purpose of this blog is called the Hummus Whisperer (HW) went on a little food crawl in the village.  Here’s what we did…

Las Ramblas – This tiny Tapas bar on west 4th dishes some pretty good stuff.   Gambas San martin, 4 sizzling large juicy shrimp cooked with garlic, lemon, finely chopped peppers and white wine – Simple and delicious.  Warm mushroom salad was perhaps the weakest dish but tasty nonetheless.  Nicely grilled octopus with salad and purple potatoes was so good you overlook the too charred parts.  And then there was the spanish classic, the Patata Bravas, paprikad fried potatoe cubes with allioli sauce.  Tender garlicky deliciousness, nicely done. We’ll be back to try these again (except perhaps the mushrooms) and some more.

Porto Rico Importing Co – This is the place to go for your home coffee needs.  Or if you have a slight hearing deficiency and want to go somewhere that smells really good to satisfy your strong sense of a smell.  That is the case with HW who’s now taking truffle searching courses.

Alta – A repeat for me and still one my favorites in the city.  A huge array of mediterranean tapas in a dimly lit, multi level converted townhouse.  The menu is large and fairly diverse with influences from all over the mediterranean.  Try the bacon wrapped dates with Olives stuffed with Almonds dish but order it with the just the dates, no olives.  Even the waitress said many do so.  I’m not a huge bacon fan but this is really good stuff. 

HW was really impressed with the Brussels Sprouts.  Nicely crisped with granny smith apples, pistachios and a tasty sauce.   This is the dish that made us (wife and I) start cooking Brussels Sprouts!! 

The Grilled Merguez sausage is house made and comes with couscous and dates, Harissa and lebne.  We both agreed this was more about the accompanied goodies rather than the sausage itself.  The fried goat cheese balls of deciousness with lavender infused honey is the perfect ending.  The lavender is what makes this dish. 

In the past we also enjoyed the scallops and lamb meatballs.  And there are easily 10-20 other dishes I would like to try like the octopus and the chicken wings.   

Murray’s Cheese – For some.. you guesses it… Piri Piri sauce.  I know there are other branches as well but this is a pretty nice store.  I bought everything but cheese and enjoyed some of that Piri Piri (pleassant but not as fiery as in Portugal) with Boston Market chicken today.  Boston Market review coming up 😉

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Don Antonio by [your name here]

5 dumbest questions  you can ask at a gourmet Pizza joint…

1.  “Do you sell by the slice?” – particularly dumb especially when the waiter takes your order with an Ipad

2.  “Is it like Pepperoni?”  – while pointing at something on the menu.  At least make sure you are in the right meat vicinity and not pointing at some kind of cheese or a vegetable.  BTW in Italy if you order pizza with Pepperoni you get a smile followed by pizza with peppers.

3.  “Can you bring the garlic and pepper shakers?” – NO SOUP FOR YOU!!

4.  “So is it like a Neapolitan pizza Rabbi that comes every month to inspect?” – Not exactly.  To get Neapolitan certified you can either call yourself that or get blessed by the Verace Rabbis one time.

5.  “Why are constantly running reruns of the same cooking show?” – We’re not.  Thats a live stream of our pizza making.

For the record we didnt ask any of that.  Except perhaps #2 but we [ahem, I] were definitely in the vicinity

Don Antonio by Starita makes some pretty good Neapolitan pizzas.  Starita is a Pizza legend from Naples, and together with Roberto Caporuscio of the popular Kesté Pizza, they opened Don Antonio about 6 months ago.  Much to the delight of the socks and sandals wearing tourists of the good food challenged Times Square.  Pies range from around $12 to $20.  The menu also includes a plethora of interesting and tempting apps.  But we (a group of 4) are here for the pizza

BTW, I think its a brilliant move to add the “by [your name]” part oto the name.  Just makes it look that much cooler.  i.e. Le Grand Véfour by Ziggy.  Love the sound of that.

Anyway, we started with the Montarana, a Starita specialty which is lightly fried dough with smoked buffalo mozzarella and their signature tomato sauce.  A different tasting pizza and in a good way.  Liked it a lot.

The Girella was a hit as well, with that prosciutto, grape tomatoes , 2 types of cheese and other complementing goodies.

The weakest link was probably the white prosciutto with Arugula pie. Not bad, just not as flavorful as the other others.

Another group favorite was the Diavola.   Nicely charred and tasty crust with tomato, fresh mozzarella and slightly spicy sopressata (pepperoni like).  Terrific stuff!!!

Don Antonio by Starita, as the name implies prides itself in serving creative pizzas using fresh ingredients the Napoli way.  In an area filled with pre-theater tourist traps, its nice to have this quicky option. Check it out loyal readers (how many are left at this point I wonder – My wife stopped reading after post #2)

Categories: Midtown West, New York City | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Da Andrea – Da bomb!!

Da andrea is not something I just tried for the first time.  In a city with 32,473 dining options (I counted – no, I dont need to get a life, I love counting) the list of new places to try greatly overpowers the short list of places I keep coming back to.  I’m always so tempted to try something new.  And then there’s Da Andrea, the one place that became a family annual.  The only place.

I’ll make it simple here with Da Andrea, skip the mambo jumbo and just tell you what to order.  I really hope I spelled mumbo jumbo correctly as I’m still new to this blogging thing and I dont want to embarrass myself.  I also have trouble with “Brouhaha” but I’m not gonna need to use it unless I run out of food description adjectives and say something like ” there was a brouhaha in my mouth” – lets hope we dont go there.  But I digress, here it goes… sorry got no pictures here, just google em…

Le Tigelle – Made on the spot buns of heaven, with prosciutto imported from Parma.  Tried this in other spots – Feh!  Oh oh did I mention that the owners/cooks are from Emilia Romagna, the food capital of earth.

Grilled Calamari – Yum!

Homemade Pappardelle with sweet sausage – So good! a brouhaha in my mouth!!! with that truffle oil essence, cooked to perfection goodness.   A must for me each time I’m there and I’m craving it right now.

Homemade is the name of the game here.  Homemade Gnocchi, Cavatelli, Ravioli to name a few.  I’m shocked at how low the prices are for this stuff.  Da Andrea is my favorite cheap Italian in New York city

Categories: New York City, West Village | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Aldea – Ehh!

You know how it is.  You visit another country, come back, miss the food, look for something similar and get mildly to greatly disappointed.  With Italian its normally greatly.  Aldea (Portuguese) was mildly.

I wanted to visit Aldea for a while now and somehow scored a last minute Friday 8 pm reservations which is a miracle for Michelin Star restaurants.  Nice looking multi floor space with an open kitchen.  You can even reserve a seat facing the open kitchen which is kinda neat.  Every time I sit somewhere where stairs involved I  1) as a parent worry about the food getting to my table safely and 2) feel like I need to tip more.

The food was ok.  Started with a selection of ham which was pretty good.  They have 3 different hams on the menu but you can ask to try all if you cant make your mind.  Sea urchin – I think I’m done with Sea Urchin after 3 tries.  Add it to the short list that includes Olives and Bacalau (salted cod).  In Portugal, they love their Bacalau and they say they can make it 365 ways for every day of the year.  I think we picked the 2 worst days!  Should have ordered the gorgeous looking Foie Gras instead of the Urchin

The Shrimp Alhinho was a hit.  5 large, succulent shrimp with a very complex and flavorful sauce that includes roughly 73% of your spice cabinet, Pernot, Brandy and 2 trips to the supermarket.  Very nice dish!!  Octopus however, not so much.   Just not enough.. what you call it… Flavor.  Even the squid ink puree couldnt save it.  Couldnt help reminiscing about all the amazing Octopus we had in Portugal  for a fraction of the price.

For main we had a good but unmemorable Skate and the more memorable house specialty Arroz de Pato.  AKA Duck Paella on crack!! Toasty rice mixed with yummy duck, chorizo, not so yummy duck, spices and some clementine creme on the side (nice touch).   Very flavorful!

For Dessert, a Banana mousse was a no brainer pick but it wasnt as amazing as it sounded.  The Sonhos (little dreams) of chocolate-hazelnut, lemon curd, and salted caramel mini donuts was more like it. 

Many items here reminded me of Marea.  In Marea I felt like I ordered all the right dishes, but Aldea made me wonder what could have been.

Categories: Gramercy, Flatiron, New York City | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

East Village Quick Bites – Zabb Elee and Arepa redemption

Continuing the East Village food invasion. Had a few eating hours to kill before Ave Q (very nice) and so went back to my new favorite hang out place with a friend.

 Zabb Elee – How do you know if its authentic Thai if you havent been to Thailand?  Bring someone with you that was there – Check.  Make sure there are no curries, pad thai and Kee Mao/drunken noodles on the menu – check.   I first read about Zabb Elee on  SeriousEats and couldnt wait long to try it.  Now I cant wait much longer to try again.  

A nice array of Som Tum dishes (Green Papaya salad) fills the menu and is kinda a house specialty.   We tried the one with dried shrimp and peanuts – nothing like I’ve had before.  I heard about how spicy this can get and it was extremely hot out so we opted for the mild version (thats the excuse I’m going with today).   Really enjoyed this dish.   But the highlight for me was the Pad Ped Moo Krob.   Crispy pork, green peppercorn, ginger, Thai eggplant and spicy curry (see photo).   So much flavor in this one.   Pork is deep fried and then fried some more…  pretty much burned texture but tasty nonetheless.  Very tasty!!  Some of the best and unique thai I’ve had in a while. 

Liquiteria – Needed a cleanser.  Super refreshing fresh juices.  My friend is into juices and this is one of his faves.

Dirt Candy – couldnt get in. Needed resvs to eat the dirt, who knew?  Its a tiny hole in the wall popular vegeterian btw

Caracas Arepas bar – What do you do when you dont like it the first time?  You come back to try it again asap.   Much much better this time around.   My friend enjoyed the La Mulata and I got the Muchachos (to compensate for all my dessert talk) – grilled Chorizos with spicy cheese (grilled with jalapenos) and peppers.   Even the Arepa itself tasted better this time.   Like pita on crack.


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East Village Quick Bites – Perfection in a bun

Luke’s Lobster – Maine Lobster is one of my favorite things to eat in the world and this is definitely one of the best lobster rolls I’ve had.   Buttery, fresh, meaty, deliciousness.  Nice rolls, a few sprinkles of seasoning instead of mayo – nice touch.  Well done!  Expensive ($16) but oh so worth it.   Perfection in a bun!!

Caracas Arepa bar – 2 locations hugging Luke’s Lobster. Went to order my Arepa while waiting for the Lobster.  Hey thats how I roll 😎 .   Mildly disappointed however with the Pabellon arepa but I think it was more of an ordering mistake.   Shredded beef with black beans to me dont go together with the mooshy sweet plantains.   Love the plantains but on the side please, not as part of a sandwich. 

South Brooklyn Pizza – last stop. It was just ok. The slice to me was missing… what do you call it…ahhm…  its on the tip on my tongue… oh yes.. FLAVOR.   Maybe my taste buds got all screwed up and too demanding by that point, who knows.  Will try again later.

Stay hungry my friends!!

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East Village Quick Bites – The Smith

The Smith – For the Mac and Cheese portion of the tour. This is my youngest favorite food and she declared it “As good as S’mac”.   It WAS really good.   Creamy and cheesy goodness and with that crispy top,  must be one of the best in the city. even asked the creator to share the recipe which you can find there and on The Smith site.   

But that was not the only creamy and cheesy thing about this place  😉   If you go down to the basement there’s a black and white photo booth and right next to it there are holes in the wall. Take a peek at the lower hole and you see… 20’s porn.  No, not people in their 20’s.  1920’s!!  Dont ask me how I can detect the decade 😳   Problem is it can get a little uncomfortable peeking through a hole while people walk out of the bathroom right next to you.   You feel like you have to explain to EVERYONE..  “ahhm, it’s not what you think…hehe.. really.. look…Its 20’s porn”. 

 Chikalicious Dessert Club – You guessed it.. time for Pizza… err Dessert. This must be one of the coolest dessert spots around. Great Macaroons, Fantastic apple cinnamon crisp but best of all were the “worth the 15 minute wait” chocolate lava cakes.   Best Lava cakes ever. You eat while you watch Chika do her thing across the street at another Chika-something-or-rather.  Very popular sweet spot.

After that we took a walk in the vibrant tompkins square park. Got the kids busy looking for the monument remembering the General Slocum disaster, the biggest one to hit NYC in terms of human loss before 9/11. 2 days before father day in 1904 over 1000 mostly German immigrants perished when the steamboat caught fire.

Photo courtesy of

Categories: East Village, New York City | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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