Monthly Archives: April 2013

Ziggy International

photo (46)

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Categories: Turks and Caicos | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Scenes from the Foreign Nation of Elmhurst Queens

photo (41)Its fun to play tourist in your own town.  One of the perks of living in NYC is that you dont have to travel much to get a taste of Thailand, India, Russia, Sri Lanka, China, Uzbekistan, you name it we go it.  Well, maybe not a decent Rijsttafel (Indonesian rice tables popular with the dutch) so almost everything.  Elmhurst in Queens is one of those neighborhoods that I never actually explored.  Driven by it many times but never explored, until yesterday with the Hummus (42)

photo (36)Various Thai delis, stores, Michelin/Zagat recommended Thai establishments like Ayada flock this area.  There’s something happening on every corner like in this one.  Your choice of noodle soup.  The coconut curry with “I cant believe this is not Matzoh ball” fish ball soup hit the spot.  We proceeded to try all kinds of prepared dishes for a little picnic in a spectacularly busy park where we were the only white folks.

We had sort of a feast with one particular hit being a cod with a terrifically complex sauce.

photo (39)This Vitamilk which is synonymous with soy milk in Thailand was one of the winners.  Another refresher was a lychee juice not pictured here.  This is the reason to take trips like these.  Discovering things that may potentially improve your love for life 🙄

This trip was another reminder that its Silkworm season.  Cant wait to put these babies on the grill or finally do that Silkworm Stroganoff I’ve been dying to do.  Or my all time favorite still, Peanut Butter and Silkworm sandwich.  Yum yum yum!  And be careful to not overcook  them folks.  You dont want to lose that wonderful silky (44)

Turn another corner and its a very cool Thai Buddhist temple with all kinds of treasures to explore.  Some of which we couldnt take pictures due to prayer sessions.  Later dudes

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

Best Pizza in Hell

SaccoWho said you cant get good pizza in Hell’s Kitchen?  I did!!  Time and time again.  But things are different now.  I’ve scouted, examined, food poisoned the neighborhood to death for you loyal readers, both of yous.  Here are the results…

saccoSacco – You want 99 cents slice?  Plenty around.  But if you want the quintessential New York slice done right, you head to Sacco, in business for over 50 years.  The slice holds it own, nothing soggy, perfect thickness and full of flavor.  You will be hard pressed to find a better NY slice.

Don Antonio – The Las Vegas of the NY pizza.  Meaning its not exactly your average NY pizza hole in the wall.  A full menu of antipasti and a huge array of pies.  This is Neapolitan pizza at its best from the Keste (west village) master and Antonio Starita from the famed Pizzeria Starita a Materdei in Naples.  Need I say more?  I have no idea who they are but it sure sounds impressive.   I’ve sampled about 8 pies here.  Try the lightly fried Montanara for something a little different, or the Diavola with the Sopressata which is meatier and milder than Merilu’s.  Wood burning oven means don’t get too comfortable.  You will get your pies within minutes.  Great for sharinDon Antonio Diavola

John’s Pizzeria – Another old-timer.  Eat and pray.  This is the touristy one with good cause, set in a former church.  Like a huge pizza diner.  No slices here and no individual pies like Don Antonio so not that sharing friendly.  But what you get is fresh ingredients and an excellent overall pie.  Love the Margheritas hereJohn's Pizza

Merilu – From Torino to NYC, Merilu with her 4 children and cousins (husband just eats the stuff, my kind of family) are making some great oblong shaped pies.  Is it a rectangle? Is it oval?  Who knows, who cares, its delicious.  Thin tasty crust with just the right balance of ingredients.  My favorite is the spicy sopressata.  If they have it out that day that is.  Otherwise try the Margherita or anything else that looks good on the display.  And if you come on Friday or Saturday you can also experience “the Merilu the meatball a”.  Juicy, meaty, cheesy goodness.  Fantastico stuff!

MeriluMerilu Meatballs

Capizzi – A solid alternative to the Don Antonio, John’s craziness and perhaps the closest thing to a pizza parlor you can only find in the outer boroughs.  The ingredients speak for themselves, like the bright fresh tomato sauce and the extra meaty pepperoni and sausagesCapizzi

So there you have it.  I’m pretty sure I’m not missing anything but if I am, comment away.  Buon Appetito Amigos.

Categories: Midtown West, New York City | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Lazy Post – Turks and Caicos in Pictures

Bugaloos Garam IMG_7364 IMG_7370 IMG_7388 IMG_7393 IMG_7395 IMG_7525 IMG_7535 IMG_7537 IMG_7542 IMG_7557 IMG_7559 IMG_7562 IMG_7564 IMG_7588 IMG_7605 Sailing Sailing2 Sailing3 SS pool SS pool (2)

Categories: Turks and Caicos | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Dear Diary: What to order in Scarpetta

Doctor’s Orders.  That’s what I tell people sometimes when they ask me why I’ve started a blog.  My doctor ordered me to start tracking what I eat.  Not entirely true.  My doctor cares more about what I should be snipping than eating.  But the tracking part is true.  I love the fact that I finally found a space where I can write about my eats in sort of an organized fashion, just in case I need to retrieve something.  Like the other day when I took a group of friends to Beso, I  simply looked at the site to see what we liked on our first visit.  Or when someone asked us about our Israel itinerary.  Brilliant!! 🙄

Something tells me I will need to revisit this post in the future.  When my wife and visiting friend from Boston who we shall call Milena, because that’s her name, asked me to order for everyone I was like…(insert angel sound affect).  On my second visit to Scarpetta I felt I perfected the ordering part a little more.  Here’s one way to experience the best of Scarpetta

1st Course:

Scarpetta - Yellowtail

The bread –  Still one of the best bread baskets in NYC, some of which comes from Sullivan Street Bakery I believe.  Stromboli, a nice touch.  This is like a full app and more

Raw Yellowtail  – Wow! New for us this time. Thick buttery goodness with chunky sea salt.  So so good!

Palenta with truffled mushrooms.  Still amazing.  Definitely one of the classics here.  Very creamy, very good, and very grateful my wife does not eat mushrooms.

2nd course:

Scarpetta - SpaghettiScarpetta - Agnolotti

Spaghetti – Its almost silly calling it a signature dish since there are so many great items on the menu. But its definitely delicious and one of the best Spaghetti with red sauce and basil you will ever eat (likely).  The sauce is probably still the best Ive had

Agnolloti – They keep changing the Agnolloti.  This time with bone marrow and short rib.  Last time with rabbit.  But the main difference this time was the breadcrumby crunchy garlic chips. One of my favorite dishes here

3rd course:

Scarpetta - RavioliScarpetta - chicken

Ravioli – Still terrific.  stuffed with duck and Foie Gras with Marsala reduction.  Although enjoyable I got bored with it eventually unlike some of the other dishes.

Roasted Chicken – Wow this was good.  Nice and salty Spaetzle with some very tasty carrots.  Chicken was moist and juicy.  Enjoyed this much more than the cod last time.   Chicken is sort of making a comeback for me in places like this.  Trend started at Louro which delivered big time.

4th Course:

Scarpetta - Banana Bread

Warm Banana Bread –  much better than the previous soupy mess of the coconut pana cotta.  Great stout ice cream.

Chocolate cake – very good

Only problem was wait between courses was far from even and too rushed at times.  They gave us 10 seconds to enjoy the great bread basket before bringing the apps.  And the third course was brought in as soon as they took the plates.

Nevertheless Dear Diary, a perfect meal.  Looking forward to next visit where I try nothing new

Categories: Chelsea, New York City | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Kashkar Cafe – Your Uyghur Fix

Kashkar Cafe - Geiro Lagman

***Update 11/28/13 **** Went back for some more deliciousness.  Had the same dishes and more (pictures at the bottom)

Before you Google Uyghur and read this post, I want you to do something for me.  You must!  Go to your kitchen cabinet and take out the cumin.  Now open the cumin and let it sit by the monitor.  That’s all.  Continue reading.

Blink and you will miss this little café on busy Brighton Beach avenue in “Little Odessa”, Brooklyn .  Nestled among Russian pharmacies, groceries, nightclubs and more Russian Pharmacies is this Uzbekh gem.  Yes, Russians do love their pharmacies.  They come to hang out, pick up their newspapers, their prescriptions, and the free roll of Bounty they were promised for switching from the pharmacy 2 doors down.

Once you are inside it looks like any other small Russian café with various Uzbekh decorations.  This is Uyghur cuisine.  The Uyghur is an ethnic group primarily living in Central Asia and and China.  And boy can they cook!

In this fun, picture filled menu I went for some Lagman items and Kebabs.  Lagman is like Lamian, Chinese noodles.  They are long, thick and spectacular.Kashkar Cafe - Lagman Soup

Started with the fantastic Lagman soup.  Like a nice cross between Russian “Kharcho” and Ramen.  Lamb, veggies, and plenty of those thick, airy Lagman noodles.

The Geiro Lagman (top picture) was even better and one of the best dishes I’ve had in the past 12 months.  I knew it will be good as soon as it arrived.  Lets see if you can see the same thing…  click on the picture on top and stare at it for a few seconds.  Do you smell the cumin??  It tasted as great it looks, with plenty of cumin and garlic, and got the same noodles and tender lamb as the soup,  Great dish!

Kashkar Cafe - Kebabs

The lamb and chicken kebabs were some of the juiciest and tastiest I ever had. No sauce needed here.  They sell them by the skewer here – about $3 per.  And the crispy  garlicky potatoes were such a beautiful compliment.

This cozy, family owned Uzbekh/Uyghur delivers big time flavors.  No visa required.  Check it out next time you visit Brighton Beach.

Kashkar - Plov Kashkar - Manti Kashkar Cafe

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

Aska and You Shall Receive

050There comes a time in life when you have to count your blessings for not being allergic to shellfish.  Otherwise, you quickly find out if you are allergic to cow’s thyroid or a goat’s heart.   Or baby formula!

Aska, is one of those places that you book first and research later.  The immediate “hotness” it got off the bat coincided with “where am I eating on my birthday” to the point where I quickly had to reserve a table for 2 before the critics pour in.  But the more I looked into it, the more I questioned the decision, especially after seeing the announcement that Saturday’s only option is a 10 courser.  Will Mrs Ziggy eat blood sausage, dehydrated scallops, baby formula, cow’s thyroid, anyone’s thyroid?  After taking a quick glance at the menu Aska emailed to me, her response was “Its ok I guess”.  Good enough for me!

This was a memorable meal to say the least.  20 diners at the back of an art studio,  20 servants (including cooks and the man himself Mr Berselius bringing you teh final touches with the explanations), what seemed like 10o people by the bar, Morrissey blasting in the background, and one extremely interesting 10 courser.

Ok, before I start any rumors, there was no baby formula on this night nor any night as far as I know.  But it did cross my mind while we were eating our apple sauce and milk

Started off with some delicious bread, crispy hard bread with whipped NY butter. 039

Molasses shortbread, trout roe and cheese was interesting.  Seemed more like an Amuse than one of the courses

Hay, milk, tomatoes, parsnip, and milk salad.  Clearly the best Hay, tomatoes, parsnip and milk salad I ever had.  Seriously this was good.  I couldn’t help comparing to the amazing Jungsik salad from the night before but this was inventive and satisfying.  Great tasting veggies040

Parsnip with brown butter and more whipped butter thank you. Delicious!  The closest I get to eating parsnip normally is the leftovers from  the veggies my wife throws out right after finishing making her chicken and bean bullion.  So best Parsnip I ever had goes without saying.  Berselius really does a great job bringing all those veggies to life.043

Pheasant with sunchoke, liver. Sort of a Pheasant extravaganza with both the dark and white meat (much preferred the dark), and the liver which integrated nicely with the broth of the cooked sunchoke.  Sunchoke itself had a nice crispy texture045

Blood pudding with seabuckthorn, lardo, dill and anchovies.  Pretty to look at without much substance, like Paris Hilton.  Didnt care much for this one046048

Oats, tiny bits of bone marrow, Shad roe, egg yolk (pictured on top).   Just like mama makes!  All worked together beautifully.  one of my favorite dishes of the night.

Pork and beets.  A very tasty piece of fatty pork belly and the beets were another example of the great taste Berselius brings out of veggies. Beets is something I never order and the only time I eat them is with an occasional red Borscht, but this was simply delicious.051

Whelk – Snails of the sea.  Dont believe I ever had them.  Although it was very interesting and you could really sort of taste the sea here, it wasn’t one of our favorites.  But loved the dehydrated scallop “chips” that cam along054055

Beef, Burnt potatoes.  60 days aged served rare and very tasty.  Potatoes were smoky and fantastic.  Add sweet onion – Great dish.058

Egg yolk.  Not a fave of this one.  Looked more promising than its tasted.  Sort of sticky, gummy and not much flavor063

Apple sauce, oats, cream, baby formula.  Awesome!  Ok, so there was no baby formula here but as we were discussing with our neighbors it wouldn’t be a total shock to see and Berselius could probably pull it off066

Dessert – Some sort of sick ice cream with hazelnuts and other goodies.  A great finish.067

So there you have it.  Dinner was a 4 hour marathon with a lot of big breaks between the dishes.  It was mostly a local crowd with the exception perhaps of one particular couple that looked like Michelin inspectors.  It was fun seeing the boys (all but one) casually Williamsburg dressed do their thing.  Would I come back?  Probably not but still a very enjoyable, memorable meal and perhaps the closest I will ever get to Noma, considered by many the world’s top restaurant in Copenhagen.

Categories: Brooklyn, New York City | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Jungsik Style

Jungsik SteakSorry about the grainy pictures.  Looking for a new camera.  And a photographer.

Part 1 of a crazy B-day eating weekend. Myself, the Hummus Whisperer, candle light, and a 10 courser which was more like 16 once you include all the freebies.  Jungsik was just about on top of the places to try list.  Gourmet Korean?  Korean influenced American? Not too clear.  But what I’m sure about is that this is fine dining that even Dennis Rodman can appreciate.

This was a truly spectacular meal and one of the top overall dining experiences we both ever had.  From the beer, to the various flavors, surprises, and presentation.   A total culinary triumph.

But with all that glitziness and professionalism we still could not help but imagine an Arirang-like scene where they dim the lights and crank out a crazy Jungsik style happy birthday routine.  So immature!

Here’s a dish by dish recap…

Great bread trio especially the barley with raisin.  I’m not sure if it was by design but we only got the bread around midway

An Amuse Bouche plate like I’ve never seen (below)Jungsik - Amuse

Wonderfully smoky clam chowder.  One of the best I’ve had.  I might as well copy the “one of the best I’ve had” line to the clipboard

First course of Foie Gras – One of the best I’ve had.  Certainly the sweetest, and creamiest. What a glorious startJungsik Foie Gras

Yook Hwe – Enjoyed it although I enjoyed my seaweed risotto birthday freebie a bit more which came at the same time.  Supposedly its a Korean tradition to eat this on birthdays as it adds a year to ones life.  Ordered 50 more

Jungsik Yook hweJungsik Seaweed Risotto

Jungsik Salad – Cant even begin to describe this.  Simply an amazing combination of flavorsJungsik - Salad

Octopus – Another big hit.  Braised for 3 hours, very tender and a wonderful soy pepper sauce compliments it so nicely.  One of the best I’ve hadJungsik Octopus

Pork Jowl – very good.  Couldn’t decide if I liked it more without the slightly overwhelming accompanying Blue CheeseJungsik Pork Jowl

Paella – With squid.  Started slowly but was sort of growing on me and by the end I loved the dish and the aftertasteJungsik Paella

Snapper – Terrific.  So good looking I forgot to take a picture.   Hot oil poured on the skin to integrate it nicely and give it that crispy texture.  Very tasty.

Steak (top) – 2 pieces of savory Wagyu.  I think I would prefer with only a touch of kimchee sauce or none but it was enjoyable nonetheless.

Desserts courses were great as well especially the pumpkin cheesecake.  They added 2 more dessert courses and by the last course I was fighting it a little.

So there you have it.  This is not cheap of course as the cost of the 10 course tasting is $155 and overall damage of around $450, but worth every penny.  Check out Jungsik readers.  Both of you!

Categories: New York City, TriBeCa | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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