Monthly Archives: January 2014

Mercato – a Diamante in the Rough

Mercato Trenette

February 24th, 2020 Update:

Time to update this oldie but goodie.  Its only been 6 years, though I’ve been doing surprise inspections on and off during that time.  Why did it take me so long you may ask.  Its very simple.  Not much has changed.  Same owners, same menu, same lentil dip they give you at the beginning of each meal, same layout I know like the back of my hand, same everything.  In a city where chefs constantly feel the need to reinvent themselves every now and then, Mercato is pretty much the same its been since it opened a decade ago.  BTW, does anyone really know the back of their hand well?

The location of Mercato has a lot to do with why it stays the same.  In that corner of Hell’s Kitchen, they get their fare share of tourists, and theater goers, which also enables them to stay open throughout the day while many siesta-ing.  But they are just far enough from the midtown hustle and bustle, and the bulk of bridge and tunnelers seeking a different kind of red sauce.  Safe to say its a Hell’s Kitchen staple that stuck to its niche as a no frills Trattoria celebrating the Italian south, Puglia, Sardegna and Sicily especially.

Mercato OrecchietteLike with so many such Italian joints in the city, pasta here reigns supreme.  The Trenette is always reliable as a light, nutty alternative to the Spaghetti al Pomodoro.  I’m not as in love with it as I used to, but I still order it when I’m sharing for its interest factor.  If you want something more robust, the homemade Malloreddus, tiny but potent Sardinian Cavatelli with wild boar ragu is a Mercato classic and a safe bet.  Same with the Gnocchi, though I didnt have it in some time now.

Here you want to pay special attention to the specials.  The Orecchiette with sausage and Maitake (Hen of the Woods) last time was possibly the most satisfying special I’ve had here.  The odd inclusion of crispy dried sweet peppers didnt interfere with the joy.  Dido for the slow roasted juicy pork shank.  The only thing I wouldnt order again is the Tagliata (sliced steak) which rarely resembles the motherland version in most places anyway.  The Semifreddo however, you just want to kiss and say “I knew it was you Semifreddo”.  Or you can just eat it with a spoon like we did.

January 31, 2014 post:

I was never so eager to write a “Next Post” after that last one.  But work, and a vigorous Sexual Harassment training were in the way.

What do Hell’s Kitchen, Staten Island, and Brooklyn have in common? A mafia filled history, and a lot of mediocre Italian food.  Coincidentally, these are the 3 places I spend the most time in due to work and marriage constraints.  But as Bob Dylan taught us “Times They are a-Changin”  That’s right, changin without a “g” at the end.  In the case of Hell’s Kitchen, there’s still a lot of mediocre Italian food to entertain the theater goers.  But the last few years a few diamond in the rough spots emerged, biggest being Mercato on 9th and 39th.

Mercato NYCAvid followers of EWZ (both of them) already know all about this Hell’s Kitchen treasure.  Mercato (means Market in Italian) is as authentic as it gets in NYC.  Here’s why…

1) Owners from Puglia, chef from day one is Sardinian, and every waiter is Italian.  Yes, every single one.  And if I may say, all being Italian, fairly good looking bunch as well.  I dont go here for this particular reason, but perhaps a sense of belonging!

2) The menu is jam packed with Sardinian, Sicilian, Pugliese specialties (more on that later)

3) Italians love coming here.  I’ve heard Italian spoken here by diners on every single visit.

4) Inside it just feels like a rustic Trattoria in Florence (and Ive been to plenty of those)

5) One of these is usually parked next door

Mercato - Bread

I’ve been to Mercato about 10 times since my first time 6 months ago.  I’ve taken friends, co-workers, family, family of co-workers (not an affair, just fooling around!) and I feel very comfortable recommending it on the boards.  There’s nothing really outrageous about the food.  Its simple, honest, and true to the regions of South Italy.  While there are all sorts of goodies on the menu I come here primarily for the Primis (pasta/gnocchi)…

Spaghetti with fresh tomatoes, garlic & basil – Like on a first date, before meeting the parents and answering “am I fat” questions 20 years later, you may want to take the core product for a spin.  This is a very passable basic Spaghetti dish with profound freshness all around.  As with many of the dishes on the menu, everything is homemade


Homemade Trenette with almonds, garlic, tomato and basil (top picture) – Possibly my favorite pasta here.  Simple, intense flavors, and at $12 the best price/taste ratio.  You will simply not find this anywhere else

Gnocchi in beef and pork ragu – Another one of my favorites.  The gnocchi are wonderfully chewy, pillowy, and on the small side.  It looks like its swimming in sauce but its firm enough to soak in just the right amount of the meat ragu.  And what meat ragu it is!


Orecchiette pasta with broccoli rabe, anchovies, bread crumbs, garlic and olive oil – A Pugliesi without an Orecchiette dish is like Roman without Carbonara.  Its very simple, if you like anchovies get it.  If you dont, dont.


Fave E Cicoria – Its the Pugliesi Hummus.  Popular especially in the winter months.  Purée of fava beans, chicory, and Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  Deliciously salty and quite good

Mercato - Fave

Pay special attention to the pasta specials here.  Yesterday I had a terrific Cavatelli with spicy short rib ragu.  Same goes for the Fusilli (below) with slow braised pork ragu I’ve enjoyed in the past

Mercato - Fusilli

The one dish I really want to try but always get disrupted by a special is the Malloreddus which is homemade Sardinian cavatelli-like “Gnocchetti” with braised wild boar ragu

I’ve had plenty of other dishes here like the Octopus, Sardines, Tagliata (sliced steak), but chose to highlight the selective ones

352 West 39th st (9th)
Rating: 2 Zs (out of 4)
Stars range from Good to Exceptional. Simple as that
Recommended Dishes: Spaghetti, Trenette, Malloreddus, Gnocchi, Fave E Cicoria, Semifreddo, Pasta Specials

Mercato - Octopus Mercato

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

Provo Zen – Meet Your Restaurant Critic!

Hi, I’m Ziggy, your Restaurant critic!

Why I am abandoning my disguise?

I got somewhat influenced by this guy

And a bit more from this guy

Oh, and I almost forgot this guy

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Its that age-old question.  The question I’m being asked again and again whether on the message boards, Korean baths, or in my adopted second home of Providenciales.  With all my eating habits, how exactly do I stay in shape?  What is my secret?  Is it fish oil?  Well, I think its time to share this gift

The answer my dear readers is Beach Yoga.  That’s right!  There’s absolutely nothing as exhilarating and at the same time as peaceful as Beach Yoga.  People often said that Beach Yoga is like a cross between Kite Surfing and couch potatoing.  Well, I’m here to tell you that those people are idiots!  The only way for me to properly explain this phenomenon is by sharing some of my favorite moves and provide helpful tips. Difficulty levels range from beginning to advanced to satisfy the entire EWZ audience.
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The Warrior (advance).  This is always a crowd magnet for some reason.  The warrior with help from the waves will relax you and greatly enhance your balance.  Don’t be surprised if after 4 weeks you notice a difference in tricky balance situations like standing still in a supermarket line.
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The Italian Warrior (advanced) – Sometimes in order to achieve that Zen, you need to release some steam. Dig deeper into your Roman roots and just let it all out.  Imagine for a minute you have an uncle in Milan that always makes fun of your shoes and your American way if life
ZZZZ 362Outstretching (medium) – stretching is something I advise to avoid.  It’s overrated and you achieve nothing but the occasional groin injury.  And seriously you look like an idiot on the beach.  I’m just including it here to show you how you will look like an idiot.
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Crouching Tiger, Hidden Angel
(moderate) – Something I accidentally invented for this column.  A rare moment that allows you to connect with the 4 basic elements of our planet. Wind, air, water, and kittens.
ZZZZ 370_cirReaching to the Sky (advanced) – Something I like to do during Jewish holidays.  This position strengthens your arms, palms, legs, hamstrings, chin, stomach, and left foot, but speeds up the road to knee replacement.  No one said this will be easy.
ZZZZ 371Lunge (moderate) – perhaps my favorite move, but something I prefer to do earlier in the morning before the middle aged, frontal balding men start doing their beach walks. The last thing I want to do on vacation is to intimidate anyone.
ZZZZ 374Pushup (moderate) – Self explanatory.  It strengthens your wrists, arms, increases your metabolism, and your ability to have children.
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I’ve fallen and I can’t get up (medium) – You and  earth as one.  All about experiencing that ocean oasis, living the moment, getting to that final zen, or swallowing ocean water. Whatever comes sooner.
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Man Standing Still (moderate) – Connect with your inner Ziggy.  You and the ocean as one.  Seriously I don’t have a clue what the f%*k that means. I just read it in a fitness magazine.
Categories: Turks and Caicos | Tags: , | 3 Comments

TCI – What to Eat in Coco Bistro

Courtesy of Brilliant Studios

Courtesy of Brilliant Studios

This is one of those posts that almost needs no words.  But there are a couple of things I want to accomplish with this one…

1)  Tell you what to eat in Coco Bistro, Provo’s favorite dining establishment among tourists and residents ages 16-110

2)  Showcase my newfound Food Photography skills!

So lets take a moment and admire look at the pictures first.  You like?  You Welcome!  Would you say they are Brilliant?!?  Yes, I’m getting better at this photography thing.  But before you hire me for your son’s Bar Mitzvah, I should tell you something… I’m very expensive, and they are not exactly mine.

I remember my first visit to Coco Bistro, about 8 years ago.  Coco the resident cat was like a young cadet moving ever so swiftly with a purpose.  A colorful pepper soup was the popular item back then.  Now, a well fed Coco, the size of an average Staten Islander, just walks around at a much slower pace like one of the partners.  The pepper soup is long gone, a fantastic lobster bisque is in (while not featured here, it is indeed good), and a fun menu to boot.

Since this is Provo’s most popular spot, I see this question often.  Whats good here.  From past experiences, and simply hanging out on the message boards,  I came up with this short list.


Caesar Salad – Bacon, Croutons, Anchovy filets and Fresh Shaved Parmesan Cheese in a Spicy Dressing.  The description on the menu ends with “(no wimps please)” which is the main reason I never actually had it.  Yesterday, we had a cheap holiday party (we do it well into January – food highlight was the tortillas) and I wimped out of the mechanical bull ride.  Look, its not Obama-care friendly is all I’m saying.  With that said, I’ve seen too many Caesar Salad fans rave about this particular one.

Courtesy of Brilliant Studios

Courtesy of Brilliant Studios

Ahi Tuna Sashimi – Fresh Tuna served on a Crispy Tortilla with Red Onions, Vine Ripe Tomatoes, Scallion, Tobiko, Fresh Cilantro and a Wasabi Mayo.  This is perhaps my favorite item on the menu.   Just a glorious concoction of fresh tuna, veggies and wasabi mayo that perfect compliment.  Simply divine!

Courtesy of Brilliant Studios

Courtesy of Brilliant Studios

Spicy Lobster Soft Tacos – Fresh Guacamole , Sour Cream and a Pineapple Tomato Salsa.  This is one of the new kids on the block which I tried on my last trip and obviously enjoyed it enough to include it here.

Courtesy of Brilliant Studios

Courtesy of Brilliant Studios


Roast Lamb Rack – Herb Crust and as of this writing with Sweet Potato Mash, Buttered Carrots and Broccoli, Beet Root Paint and a Caicos Lager Onion Sauce.  Expertly cooked, perfectly seasoned, meaty, herby, rack of lamb.  Get it, or we are no longer friends.

Courtesy of Brilliant Studios

Courtesy of Brilliant Studios

Grilled Lobster – Jasmine Rice, Snow Peas and Garlic Lemon Butter.  I must confess grilled Caribbean lobster normally just doesn’t do it for me.  Its very often a tad dry, and/or uneventful.  This one is moist, buttery, and very eventful.

Courtesy of Brilliant Studios

Courtesy of Brilliant Studios


Coco Bistro’s Famous Coconut Pie – Fresh Cream and a Medley of Sweet Sauces.  Need I say more.  Its right there in the name “Famous”.  Like “Shlomo’s Famous Falafel”, you simply have to try it at least once.  Its not only addictive, but large enough to feed a small Armenian village

Courtesy of Brilliant Studios

Courtesy of Brilliant Studios

For your Island photo needs visit Brilliant Studios

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

Henry’s End – Game of Thrones

Henry's End - CharcuterieWinter is coming!  An odd thing to say in mid January.  Game of Thrones has made “Winter is Here” or every other phrase with the word Winter in it(e.g. “Winter Coats for Sale”) sound uncool.  Besides, you could be reading this post in the Summer or Fall, and as long as our moon is intact, winter will be just around the corner.  Imagine for a second Planet Earth without a moon, or a much smaller moon.  The earth’s rotational axis would pretty much not exist, hence no fixed seasons.  It could be Turks and Caicos weather for 7 years, or Antartica for 9.  Imagine having to wait years or decades for Henry’s End Winter Game Festival.  Its like imagining the unimaginable.  Like Kim without Kanye.  Hooray for moons!

File this one under the I cant believe I haven’t done this before.  We were again with Mr and Mrs Hummus Whisper, a prenatal eating tour if you will for them.  Turns out HW is still recovering from catching his former nanny wearing his boxer shorts.  Knowing the former nanny, I now join in the recovery efforts.  It was also very cool meeting Steve from the Chowhound board finally after first meeting him on the Italy board.  The rustic Henry’s End by the Brooklyn Bridge in Brooklyn was packed on a Friday night as it should.Henry's End

Enjoyed the Turtle Soup.  Got it lukewarm but it was just fine.  Finely chopped turtle meat, nicely spiced.  Recipe originally came from Paul Prudhomme when he was with Commanders Palace, incidentally the last Turtle Soup I had.  The CP soup nowadays is a bit different, with chunkier meat, which could be turtle or not.  Turtle soup to me is not so much about the turtle meat.  It could be veal, pork or rubber ducky meat as far as I care.  But the manager at Henry’s assured me it was real Turtle from Louisiana.

The Game Charcuterie Plate was something else.  Great Buffalo, venison, duck pate.  Venison sausage was nice and earthy, almost mushroom like.  My favorite however was the rabbit with ginger sausage.  So tender and flavorful.  Wife enjoy her corn chowder.

For main we shared a few dishes.  Nice Rabbit Strudel – a bit too sweet for my taste but enjoyable.  The Pappardelle with Buffalo short rib ragu was one of the best Pappardelle with ragu I ever had and certainly one of the the meatiest.   Melts in your fork, super tender, tasty meat which looks a bit one sided in the picture but it wasnt.  The New Zealand Elk Chops however stole the show.  Huge, rich, lean tender chops, herb and breadcrumb crusted on top of a very tasty Madeira wine sauce.  Just excellent excellent stuff!  I was giving a food tour to a couple from New Zealand right before dinner, so it was a NZ kind of a day for me

Dessert was fine.  Liked the homemade banana gelato.  Another memorable meal in Brooklyn

Henry’s End


44 Henry St, Brooklyn (Right near the Brooklyn Bridge and DUMBO)

Recommended Dishes:  From the Game menu: Turtle Soup, Game Charcuterie Plate, Elk Chops, Pappardelle

Henry's End - Turtle Soup Henry's End - Strudel Henry's End - pappardelle Henry's End - Elk Chops Henry's End elk

Categories: Brooklyn, New York City | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Turks and Caicos – Garam Masala

Garam Masala2

January 19, 2014 Update:

Garam delivered yet again.  The new manage who I call “The New Vinni” (because I keep forgetting his name) took good care of us.  The new standout dish this time was a very nice Kerala Chicken Masala that was growing on me until I grew a little.  Complex, flavor packed stuff that I was enjoying more an hour later via a series of pleasant little burbs just like the ones after the Alba White Truffles at the NoMad a few months ago.  The infamous conch Kebabs are no longer on the menu.  A shortage of fresh conch according the New Vinni.

BTW, Old Vinni is up to something but not quite sure what.  Stay tuned! (dont know to what exactly, its just an expression)

Garam Masala - Kerala

Garam MasalaGaram Masala - naanMarch 16, 2013 post:

I was dead wrong about Garam Masala!

As you probably guessed by now, I, Ziggy, just Ziggy no last name, like Seal, LOVE to eat.  I love to eat and I really care about what I’m eating on a holiday (No worries I didnt turn British, just play one on the Telly).  And while away we often try to eat things that are not easily available back home (e.g., Grouper, Conch).  So you see where I’m going with this.  Indian, Thai, Chinese food is something we eat almost on a weekly basis back home, and therefore it’s the last thing I consider eating while on vacation.  Garam MasalaAlso, after many years of trial and error, and palate refinement, I sort of figured out where to get some pretty darn good Indian, Thai, Chinese, Sri Lankan, middle eastern, you name, it in NYC.  Therefore, when I see an Indian restaurant on an island somewhere where its quite possibly the only Indian there, 3 thoughts come to mind…

1)  This cant be good.  They have no other competition here.

2)  I would probably eat here weekly if I lived here and its decent

3)  I’m sort of getting hungry

Similar thoughts crossed my mind when I saw the new Shawarma and Falafel place that just opened right next to Patty’s Place at Ports of Call.  Yours truly is truly a Shawarma and Falafel whore snob fan.

So as you can imagine I needed a little convincing from various island friends over the years to come to Garam Masala.  I was very close last year, and this year I finally took that pilgrimage to Tikka Masala Holy Land (i.e., 10 minutes from the Seven Star beach – its hard to leave that beach in the middle of the day)

Garam Masala - outsideFirst of all the place looks very modern.  Last year they closed for a few months to renovate and it really looks very inviting now.  Part owner Vinnie, former food and beverage head at Amanyara knows his stuff and is very passionate about what he’s serving and how.  Everything is made to order using “real” ingredients which he purchases in Chicago every few months.

Garam Masala - Conch kebabsGaram Masala - PizzaI can honestly say the food was absolutely delicious.  Started with some nice and spicy conch kebabs (above) which had the texture and flavor of the best Falafel you will ever eat. Their Chicken Tikka “pizza” on naan bread was very satisfying.  We are naan junkies and their garlic naan is some of the best we’ve had.

Chicken Tikka Masala (below) is perhaps a dish I’ve eaten more than any other in the world.  I’ve had it mostly in various restaurants in NYC, in London (Indian food heaven) and eat it by my work often.  I could tell when this one arrived by its color that it will be good.  The only not telling part was the tenderness and texture of the meat which can be often dry and chewy.   This was as close to perfect as I can remember.

Garam Masala - dishesDal Makhani was probably even better.  They cook the lentils for 12 hours each night and the result is a flavor festival.  As with the Tikka Masala, heat is not very present and not very needed (Indian food is not necessarily about heat).  Lamb Kadhai, thick stew like with some heat and big complex flavors was another winner.  I kept going back and forth between the lamb and and the Dal saying “this is my favorite. No this is my favorite”, while the Masala was staring at me going “come to Mama..”.  Another tasty snack here is the Chicken kebabs, although if I have to choose I’ll take those conch kebabs thank you.

Garam Masala

After the meal I did not feel like I just ate something heavy as I often do at home.  A fantastic lunch!  This is closer to some of the better Curry Hill or even Michelin Star establishments in NYC.   To understand the type of dedication by Vinnie all you need to do is ask him about how he found his chefs.  He went back to India to look for the chefs that worked in the restaurant he frequented as a kid with his parents, only to find that one of them is working in Japan while the other in Dubai.  The story itself is worth the price of admission.

So yes, I was wrong about this one, and highly highly (thats 2 highlys!) recommend Garam Masala in Providenciales.  Cant wait for more.

Categories: Turks and Caicos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Piora – You Had Me at DM

PioraYou know the place is popular when you show up and the door is locked.  You’ve been trying to make reservations for the past 3 months until you finally score a “senior citizen” slot of 5:30 and show up at 5:15 courtesy of zero traffic (Thanks to our borough presidents who endorsed Chris Christie).  A locked door was a first for us.  Hearing DM (Depeche Mode, aka “Greatest group in the history of greatest groups) as soon we walked in was a first as well.  I knew right there and then that this will be a fun evening.  And it was!

Piora is as refined and polished as they get in this class.  Its not quite Italian, not quite Korean, not quite “Fusion” (why everyone hates you “Fusion”.  I say you are misunderstood).  Hence, the default “New American” tag applied.  Does anyone eat “Old American” anymore?  Piora (“Blossom” in Korean) is the strange, but hey it works, combination of an Italian-American executive chef and a Korean owner/manager in the West Village.  A cozy back room overlooking a stunning snow dusted garden (a rarity these days).  The atmosphere almost seemed odd which sort of worked in our favor, if it makes sense.  You just dont expect alternative/clubby music in a place like this but it worked.

Piora - Leaves FallingBefore I dive to the food though, mad props to one particular drink here.  “Leaves Falling” — Plymouth gin, Calvados apple brandy, Earl Grey tea, maple syrup, lemon and apple.  I want to try making one of those at home, when I’m down, or watch Turkish movies.  All I need now is all those ingredients and a bartender.

Some of the dishes were a little on the salty side, though thanks to the Falling Leaves I cant remember what they were.  All by design of course, and all still quite complex and enjoyable

Monkey bread – With Lardo and seaweed butter.  This was pretty good as expected and a no brainer starter but so are a lot of very interesting bread baskets all over town that cost $6 less

Piora - Monkey Bread

Carrots – Perhaps the most memorable dish.  Wonderful array of different flavors and textures with pistachios, yogurt, showered with pink “ham snow”.  A glorious dish.

Piora - OctopusBarbequed Octopus (left) – Quite nice.  Tender octopus prepared with Gochujang (a Korean Chili paste), pine nuts and basil.

Egg – Very Good!  Poached with 3 succulent deboned chicken wings, potato, and artichoke Barigoule.  Is it me or every “New American” menu these days must include a dish called “Egg”

Bucatini – Perhaps the most celebrated dish on a menu that includes 3 pastas.  A very unique blend of squid ink Bucatini, black garlic (The Korean black garlic, not the feh! kind), Dungenese crab, Maitake (yum) and chili

Gnocchi Special –  Excellent!  Picture below is half the normal size (they split some dishes for us).  Not your traditional Gnocchi.  Texture closer to fried potatoes in Gnocchi shape.  With lobster (not skimpy), sitting on a bed of artichoke puree, with some hints of French black Truffles.  Meaning, its the kind of truffle that surrenders to the rest of the ingredients rather quickly!

Piora - Gnocchi

Rigatoni – Very Good!  Red wine, duck sausage, fig and spigarello (a distant cousin of broccoli.  The one that never calls because you don’t call)

Rohan duck – A great dish!  Nice and crispy skin, peking duck-like, faro, and yet more of that lovely black garlic

Trout – Tasted fine according to the Hummus Whisperer.  BTW, we were joined again by the Hummus Whisperer and his wife the Hummus Punisher.  (That’s what he calls her, don’t know why and frankly don’t want to know.  Whatever they do at home in their spare time is not my business)

Olive oil potatoes beat out the Sunchoke hazelnut in the extras match.  Desserts weren’t memorable (damn you Falling Leaves) but the meal overall was indeed.



430 Hudson st

Recommended Dishes:  Monkey bread, Carrots, Egg, Bucatini, Gnocchi (Special), DuckPiora - Carrots

Piora - Duck Piora - EggPiora -Rigatoni Piora - Bucatini

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

Lazy Post – The Scene at Island Fish Fry

ZZZZ 432Dear Turks and Caicos fans.  Unless you are living under a rock, or simply trying to pass a town not endorsed by Chris Christie, you probably already know that every Thursday from 5:30 to 9:30 there’s a party going on at the Children’s Park (way out west, just past Gansevoort).  About a dozen local vendors like Jerkie’s, Miss Moonies, Uncle Dough’s, Middle Caicos Cafe (not to be confused with just Caicos Cafe) are participating (vendor list varies on a weekly basis), along with a live band, and all sorts of cultural fun.

Sitting is limited.  Best time to come if you want a seat is before 6.  With that said, sitting is not very important as you’ll just want to walk around and sample some local goodies like fresh grouper in a foil, conch salads, conch fritters, and grilled lobsters in season.  Parking is Provo style, on the sidewalk.  Check it out

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

Turks and Caicos – Seaside Cafe

Seaside - tuna sashimi

March 21st, 2015 Update:

Get the Fish Sandwich for lunch people.  Its a couple of pickled carrots shy of being the perfect Banh Mi, although I sort of prefer this simplified version.  Toasty baguette courtesy of Caicos Bakery filled with expertly blackened fish grilled to flaky perfection.  Great little sandwich.  Moving on from Vietnam to Peru, Amazing Race style.  The Peruvian Conch Salad brings out our animal instincts, each time without fail.  If there’s one tip I could offer to the 15 TCI viewers I get per day (over 200 look at the Hell’s Kitchen Survival Guide alone, 15 at TCI), get some of that Peruvian.  We dont even need to open the lunch menu here.

We also had another outstanding dinner later on.  Nice and springy flatbread with goat cheese, pesto, and arugula.  A new discovery was the Conch Chowder that may have cracked our top three.  More of the delicious Tuna Sashimi, and Lobster Risotto of course.  Meaty Lobster was grilled to perfection, and the garlic butter that came along elevated the dish even more.  And as the old saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough gets Salmon.  Meaning the weather was too rough for the fishermen and the freshest thing on the menu was Salmon, via Miami.  Teriyaki glazed Salmon (below) couldnt be cooked any better, with soba noodles, tofu, asparagus, miso sauce, and Wakame – Japanese Seaweed.  After watching seaweed all week long, it was time for revenge, Kamikaze style.  Best dish of the night.

Seaside Salmon

January 10th, 2014 Post:

“What?  Ziggy the great foodie is writing a post on Seaside Cafe?  What’s next.. Pizza Pizza” I can hear the critics already.  For many years Seaside was a decent, casual, resort (Ocean Club West) owned dining spot, not exactly a foodie destination.  But things have changed.  New owners took over (same owners as Opus), brought in a Coco Bistro veteran, and a new foodie powerhouse is born.  This is not your old Seaside, and I’m a couple of years late to this party.

Seaside new deck“Chef Driven” is a term used loosely these days.  Every place has a chef.  Some are great, some are ok, some are just learning on the job.  But then there are those chef who experiment, transform, and set trends.  The chefs that make me want to go there for the chefs, instead of the setting or atmosphere.  Quebec born Francois who started cooking from the young age of zero (I have trouble remembering simple facts sometimes but this sounds about right) knows a thing or three about cooking.  From dishing out all sorts of goodies in the army in Canada (Canada has an army?) at the age of 16, to sharpening his skills big time in Provo’s busiest Coco Bistro, Francois has gone a log way.

This was a first in Eating With Ziggy history.  Every single one of the 4 dishes we sampled in Seaside was a top dish of the trip nominee.  Choosing from this one will be harder than driving through a town that didn’t endorse Chris Christie.

A few months ago we went to a new risotteria in NYC to sample some delicious risottos from a renowned rice grower from Verona.  Some hits, some misses, and none came close to the risotto bliss of this lobster shiitake goodness at Seaside (below).  This was one of the most palatable risotto we’ve ever eaten.  Cheesy, well spiced, perfectly cooked arborio with tender, plentiful chunks of lobster and a lot of love.Seaside - risotto

The Escolar (aka “White Tuna” but not really) was another outstanding dish.  Another South Caicos beauty cooked expertly medium rare with jasmine rice, veggies, sweet wasabi mustard on one side and some sort of miso sauce on the other.

A note about south Caicos fishermen.  Lately those guys are simply kicking some serious ass.  Deep fishing for octopus, tuna, escolar are just some examples of what they are bringing to the table.  I don’t recall seeing so much locally caught fish on the menus, especially octopus.  Way to go South Caicos fishermen.  Way to go!

Tuna Sashimi with Wasabi mustard (top) –  A revelation!  Long time followers of Ziggy know how much I love a similar dish at Coco Bistro and it turns out that that was a Francois creation.  Fresh tuna from south Caicos, veggies, that wasabi again, and just a glorious concoction on individual tortillas.

Peruvian conch ceviche. Yet more awesomeness.  A fantastic combination of veggies (love his use of fresh veggies), fresh conch, lime and different peppers including scotch bonnet.  Addictive stuff to say the least.

Seaside is easily a top 5 in Provo after this trip!

Seaside - conch salad Seaside - white tuna

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

NYC – Top 10 dishes of 2013

NoMad breadAnother year, another amazing eating year in the city of New York.  Keeping up with all the new and excitement here is like keeping up with the Kardashians.  But 2013 proved to be one heck of a year, probably the best ever.  And if there’s ever a post on EWZ that could be helpful to visitors or locals seeking great chow in NYC, this is IT!

Ma Peche – Fried Chicken (with a side of the Brussels Sprouts).  I’ll start with the last great dish.  Haute Fried Chicken doesnt get any better than this.  Habanero, coriander, black pepper and other spices used to create this fried pieces of awesomeness.  Its a large shareable whole chicken at $48, but for lunch you can get half for $24 which can still feed an Armanian village, or 2 Americans.  And the amazing Brussels Sprouts dish are worthy of their own spot here.

photo (4)

Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop– Smoked Whitefish Donburi.  With salmon roe, sweet soy dashi, cucumber, scallion over rice.  Need I say more?  I probably should.  Tell me if you heard this story before.  A Jewish man from Long Island opens a Ramen shop in Tokyo which becomes critically acclaimed, then comes back to NYC to open a Ramen shop in the New Gotham West Market in Hell’s Kitchen.  Sounds familiar? The Donburi is a nice clash of the 2 cultures (Japan meets Jew)


Momofuku Ssam Bar – Spicy Sausages & Rice Cakes.  Second Momofuku mention already (Ma Peche is the first)   This dish is insane.  Plenty of heat and plenty of joy.  Its a beautiful medley of ground sausage, Chinese broccoli, Sichuan peppercorn, and the awesome rice cakes which were essentially Korean Gnocchi made from rice flour.  Puts the Mssion Chinese rice cakes to shame.  Photo courtesy of Never Too Sweet

Betony – Short Ribs.  A revelation!  Tender, full of flavor goodness.  It takes 3 days to make them we were told.  We told the waitress that we cant stay that long, but we quickly understood the meaning.

Betony - short ribs

Maialino – Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe.  Its so simple, it shouldnt be here.  But along with the carbonara perhaps my favorite dish at one of my favorite Italian spots in the city.  Perfectly creamy, peppery, and addictive.  Having it sit there among the other pastas on the table is like visiting the bunny ranch after trying out all the bunnies, and constantly picking your favorite.

Maialino - Cacio e pepe

The NoMad – The Chicken.  This is a no brainer, and a top dish nominee even before it reached our table.  Once you get over the facts that a) is costs $78 (for 2) and b) its freakin chicken, you will enjoy this one no doubt.  Perfectly crispy skin, moist juicy white meat, along with some foie gras and black truffles (all cooked) nicely tucked beneath the skin.  Each bite of that combination together was a Tour de Force.  But that’s not all.  Add a glorious plate of the dark meat with garlic espuma (foamy light garlic goodness) in the middle to share.

NoMad Chicken

Ippudo – Akamaru Modern (with egg).  “Welcom”, “Goodbye”, “Aim Well”? I have no idea what they are screaming in Japanese at Ippudo every time someone arrives or goes to the bathroom.  All I know is that this is my favorite dish here.  Rich, complex pork broth, along with hefty pieces of pork belly.  Add the egg and spicy miso paste for even richer flavors

Ippudo - Akamaru

Costata – The Costata.  Perhaps the dish of the year.  A mammoth 44oz $120 very shareable Tomahawk Ribeye cooked to perfection.  Basted ever so beautifully with a rosemary brush, this beast was a feast for all senses.  Add some Black truffle butter, fries and asparagus, but good luck remembering the sides in between bites of perhaps the best steak in town

Costata - Ribeye

Nish Nush – Falafel.  I know Falafel.  I grew up with falafel.  My car runs on falafel (its the trade-in period while waiting for the new car so dont want to use the real thing).  This is good falafel.  Fresh pita from the oven, and free (great) hummus can only help

Nish Nush - Falafel

Kashkar Cafe – Geiro Lagman.  Little Asia in little Odessa (Brighton Beach) and perhaps the only Uyghur spot in town.  I’ve had this dish 3 times in the last 8 months.  Nice and chewy hand pulled noodles with lamb, veggies, cumin, garlic, other spices and herbs make up this highly palatable dish.

Kashkar lagman

Special mentions:

Malai Marke – Chicken Xacuti (and Bindi Sasuralwali)
Sakagura – Maguro Tartar
Pure Thai – Wok Curry Paste with Pork
Mercato – Trenette
Jungsik – The rice dish that comes for free for b-day boy 😉
Louro – Octopus Bolognese (tie with monkfish)
Mission Chinese – Kung Pao Pastrami

Categories: Brooklyn, Chelsea, Chinatown, East Village, Gramercy, Flatiron, Lower East Side, Midtown East, Midtown West, New York City, SoHo, NoHo, Nolita, TriBeCa, West Village | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Turks and Caicos – Lupo

Lupo outThe Italian invasion of Providenciales continues.  From Turtle Cove, to the new lake region (the area by the school that floods after a 5 minute shower) to Via Veneto and Caicos Cafe plaza, home to Caicos Cafe.  It is only a matter of time until you see this just outside your resort, or people selling made in china little helicopters that fly, and then they break.  Around a year ago, Lupo has joined forces, and firmly secured itself in the Regent Village which is becoming quite a yummo international destination.  I also want to take this opportunity to welcome a new slang word to the EWZ family – “Yummo”.  Although, I dont see myself using it much as it just sounds weird, as if “Yummy” reached its expiration date.

Lupo TurksOwner Mark (formerly with Lemon) has done an excellent job bouncing back from a shaky start (as just about every new restaurant in Provo).  Lupo also seems like the kind of place that would be featured the most with the Provo ladies who lunch, or Real Housewives of Grace Bay County.  Perhaps the same Provo housewives who robbed the place of all its pictures the night before our lunch, leaving us with empty frames.

As for the food…

Romaine lettuce – Yummo!  Not something I would normally order but this was quite good, like the best Caesar Salad you ever gonna eat.  Smokey Romaine, topped with sharp delicious Parm, and crispy pancetta bits.  Well done!

Meatballs Sandwich – Excellent! Good bread, great herby, tasty, schweddy balls.  2013 was filled with some amazing meatballs for us in 2 continents.  Make it a third.  If I have to criticize one thing is the polenta fries – not a fan.  But Mrs Z was, which frankly all that matters.  You know what they say, Happy wife, happy Ziggy.

Lupo Meatball

Penne with sundried tomatoes, Pesto walnut sauce – Nice and light summer dish.  They didn’t have Orecchiette (damn you IGA truck) so we settled for Penne.  Nothing wrong with that dish

Tiramisu in a cup, panna cotta with Balsamic reduction in another cup.  Heavenly! Perhaps the best Tirsmisu I’ve had on the island (Sorry Caicos Cafe) and that panna cotta was very unique and went very well with the zesty balsamic

Although I was very satisfied with the lunch, the dinner menu made me jealous.  Fresh made pasta galore including what seems to be a popular Fettuccine Bolognese, nice looking  flatbread pizzas and more.  The housewives should really come here for dinner if they are smart.

As I keep saying over and over, come out of the water area and things start to get interesting in the island of Provo.  In that location,  one needs to be creative and follow up with great flavors, and it looks and tastes like a success to me

Lupo Romaine Lupo Penne Lupo Meatballs Lupo Dessert Lupo

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

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