Monthly Archives: March 2018

Pinch Chinese – Soho Gets her Groove Back

Eating With Ziggy

Pinch Chinese Crab in Chinese RestaurantMarch 28, 2018 Update:

Pinch Chinese is clicking on all cylinders.  There’s something about sitting there at dinner time looking through the glass at that kitchen.  Like watching a team of physicians conducting a well orchestrated surgery.  If they would be making cupcakes I would be probably standing on a line for cupcakes, hoping they come with a side of soup dumplings.

Boy those bite size seafood/pork soup dumplings are explosive.  And the flavors on the room temperature cumin ribs really come through nicely.  Hard to try new dishes here when its just the two of us, and you want to eat the same things again.  But the Steak fried rice featuring a tender ultra beefy Wagyu sirloin, is the one big addition to the list.

“Snow Crab in a Chinese Restaurant” is still fantastic, and a good source of vitamin Crab, with those silky glass noodles.  The Peking Duck…

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Provo – Food for Thought 2018

Conch Shack Snapper

Even when we plan not to go to Provo, we go to Provo.  Even when we plan not to order the steak at Le Bouchon, we order the steak.  These magnetic forces are powerful and magical, even when the weather isnt cooperating.  I lost count, but its around 16 trips now to our second adopted home of Providenciales, Turks and Caicos.  Here’s the latest food recap.  Note:  I know there are a lot of followers out there waiting for this, but keep in mind…  This is a vacation first, a job second.  As much as I try to find new places, recent history suggests I should stick to the proven to avoid unnecessary vacation crankiness.  Especially on a short 5 nighter…

Da Conch Shack

Sunday is apparently Funday at the shack.  To me a beach shack like this loses some of the magic when its so packed, people are lining up for a table.  But I cant fault a place for being popular especially now that its next door neighbor closed and relocated (Kalooki’s).  We used to have a love hate relationship with the shack but now its just Love.  Jerk wings came lukewarm this time but still packed with that nice jerky flavor.  That sauce!  Whole Snapper was a mistake (we ordered a grilled Grouper) but we decided to say nothing once we saw it, and enjoyed it.  Red conch chowder still da bomb!

Delicious Dishes Takeout

Delicious Dishes

Possibly my favorite new discovery of this trip.  Just myself, Mrs Z and a goat, Billy, in a Curried form on the balcony of our 5th floor ocean front at the Seven Stars. Oh and there was also a plate of tender Oxtail, but that goat was pure joy.  Delicious Dishes is mostly a takeout place extremely popular with locals.  There are two locations, one of which near the hub.  From Seven Stars when you reach Leeward hwy, turn left, and it’s right there on the right side.  It’s inside a mini market with a couple of tables if you want to stay in.  It’s mostly prepared food that’s not looking very appetizing, but they keep things nice and juicy.

Le Bouchon

One of the usual suspects, and one of two musts for dinner on every trip.  Quite the contrast to the established Provence (See bottom).  Unpretentious French bistro cooking with Caribbean flair.  The most underrated items here I feel are the soups.  Black bean and conch chowder. The chowder packs plenty of heat and they still got the Hutzpah to add this Harissa salsa thingy (foody term) on the side in case you require more heat.  Salmon gravlux was outstanding.  If you enjoy good lux, get this.  Biggest discovery early on however was the “conch ceviche” which is sliced more like Carpaccio style, giving it a nice garlicky bite.

The steak is the same old tender awesomeness.  The “Strawberry Grouper” is firmer than Nassau Grouper, almost lobster like.  They serve it with garlicky butter to loosen it up, and its delicious.  Other places just call it “grouper” on the menu, but here they elect to call it by the full nameLe Bouchon Conch

 

Seven

We are in the extreme minority of Seven Stars guests who almost never eat at the resort other than breakfast (which keeps improving. Buffet is like an egg lover wet dream these days).  With kids I prefer to skip the finer dining and I’m just not the resort dining type. But this time we came without kids and after a little hiatus we returned to Seven.

Edwin the executive chef suggested the tasting menu and that’s what we had.  Some minor hiccups here and there but a very enjoyable meal throughout with plenty of hints of brilliance, some even Michelin worthy.  The scallops and the two-way tuna were the standouts.  I would come back just for these.

IMG_7871

Hemingway’s

Another regular rotation stop for the fish and chips and fish tacos.  This was our first meal ever in Provo over 10 years ago when we stayed at the Sands, so it holds a special place.  Whenever I eat fish and chips in NYC I start to quietly weep.  If anyone asks whats wrong, I say I’m allergic to fish.  And chips.

Flamingo’s

Regular rotation stop for the views, legendary Curried Grouper and the underrated jerk chicken. The place was packed and everyone around us was eating burgers.  Instead of adding more haute and the trending, I would love to see more places like this open on the island

Caicos Cafe

A smashed iPod?  Redundant Lucy?  What’s the expression for “beyond broken record”. I’m tired of recommending this place.  Even on a 5 day trip, we have to dine here twice.  The only dish I didn’t care for so much this time was the mixed seafood ceviche.  Nothing really wrong with it, just missing some of that originality found in other dishes.  Like that Octopus!  You can’t find better texture/flavor combination than this.  It comes with this chickpea mash, a few tahini and lemon drizzles away from becoming a delicious hummus.  Lobster Fra Diavolo was the same old awesomeness.

On both nights they had fresh Grouper and of course we had to order it on both nights.  You cant get this in NYC.  Simply dusted with magic dust and grilled to flaky perfection.  Great crab cake special which we enjoyed in the past.  And yet another new pasta, a green Troccoli, “Chitara” where chef Massimo uses his “guitar” pasta instrument to make Troccoli which is like spaghetti on steroids.  He tops it with this rich ragu of Lamb shank and cheese.  I keep recommending Caicos Cafe to seafood lovers especially, but the meat dishes here never disappoint.  Last time they removed the ribs from the menu there was an airport strike.

Caicos Cafe - Grilled Calamari

Chinson’s

Like a dark horse coming out of nowhere in the last round, “No View Chinson” (thats the horse’s name) becoming our favorite overall lunch place in Provo.  While all our faves got their classics that we order each time (see Flamingo’s, Hemmingways) , Chinson’s may be the most well rounded of them all.  In the past we enjoyed the curried goat, oxtail, pulled pork and more. This time solid Jerk chicken as usual but the big discovery this time was the steamed Grouper in parchment paper.  Huge, super tender flaky goodness with just the right gentle spicing.  So big we couldn’t finish it.  Get this!

Provence

If Provo would have a Hot or Buzz list like in NYC and many other cities, it would be an especially sad list of one. Provence is the hottest most talked about restaurant on the island at the moment.  We had a taste of Eric Vernice’s cooking when he was at the Beach House about 6 years ago.  Provence is oddly casual, considering how expensive it is.  Its Coyaba expensive, without the service and any sort of setting to match.  Perhaps unless you are lucky to sit at the counter facing the chef.

We weren’t so lucky.  Even with reservations we sat at the bakery next door facing a shelf of one small truffle cream and the lone toilet.  Zero ambiance turned negative when a group of 4 people sat right next to us and someone forgot to tell them that there are other people in the room, some of which sitting right next to them.  Service is a little confused. “We have lobster”, “we don’t have lobster”, “WE FOUND LOBSTER”, “wait, it’s lamb”, “no, it’s def lobster”.  They gave us every clue to change the order to something else but we didn’t.

Another thing about “French” Provence that made me think of The Emperor’s New Clothes is that it’s kinda sorta Italian(ish).  Fresh pastas section dominate the menu and the wall is covered by various places in Italy.  During our more memorable moments when we were not directing traffic to the bathroom we stared at the wall playing “where have we been”.

But I have a tendency to quickly forgive and forget if the food is good. Gnocchi with lobster had distinct lobster flavor but sort of one-note and under-seasoned. Similar issue plagued the dish labeled “octopus”.  It came with very little octopus, sliced and lukewarm with white beans, chorizo and shrimp.  It kinda reminded me of the salads I make at home with canned beans.  But the dish looked gorgeous!

The lamb and lobster were the saving grace in a way but you would need to put me and my cans of beans in the kitchen to screw these up. The lobster was average for TCI which is not really a bad thing.  It came with a nice artichoke mousse with whole peppercorns which was a nice touch and stole the show.  Lamb was perfectly cooked and came with a piece of lamb shoulder sitting in a cup of bulgar.  These are also fairly sizable dishes for “French cooking”.

Provence Octopus

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Miss Ada – Its All in the Name

Miss Ada Labne Mousse

Food is the new high tech.  Israel, the size of New Jersey continues the sabra assault, sending our way talent and cauliflower in a furious rate.  From Nur, to Timna, to the Einat Admony empire, to Miss Ada a newish Israeli in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.  Buzzy Israeli joints are opening in a furious rate all over Manhattan and Brooklyn these days.  Good news?  Not entirely.  While I’m loving all these options, I would sub about half of them for a high quality sprawling casual place serving the simple stuff (Shawarma, falafel, Kibeh).  A place like Itzik Hagadol in LA, where I can take my extended family on a whim.  “Pita Off the Corner” in Brooklyn is close to that, but its way too fast-casual and low grade.  With so many high caliber, mid range $75 per person places popping up in Brooklyn the last few years, you just have to wonder.  Is Brooklyn the new Manhattan?

But the plan here was not to start with another anti gentrification rant, but talk about the awesomeness of Miss Ada.  Sometimes I start writing and just go where the wind blows.  But then I close the windows and get back on track.  Now its a gentle draft from the living room setting the stage for a much gentler post.  Miss Ada has been on my radar for about a year now.  Thats what happens when you open in Fort Greene.  I live in NYC, and visit Italy more often than that part of Brooklyn, even though I’m in Brooklyn 3 times a week.

Miss Ada

Miss Ada’s perfume of choice is Amba.  As soon as you enter, you smell this mango condiment engineered primarily for Shawarmas, but here used liberally in many dishes.  A curly Miss Ada looking like a typical Sabra pictured everywhere from the business cards to the menu.  So who exactly is this Miss Ada you may ask?  She’s a decoy!  Its a play on words.  Combine the words together and you have Missada which means restaurant in Hebrew.  This is Tomer Belchman first Missada after stints with Bar Bolonat, Gramercy Tavern and pork legend Maialino.  Ironic somewhat considering three hours prior to the meal, I was eating the best white beans in town at Nick Anderer’s (Maialino, Marta, king of Roman pastas, pizza, and beans) newest Martina, followed by an unexpected dessert: Beans with a spicy pork shoulder ragu, leftover from a sexy bean photo shoot at Martina

The menu is sectioned in a way that makes you order more than you can handle.  Like straight out of restaurant business school.  The whipped Ricotta is silky smooth addictive sweetness.  A little bit of honey and brown butter goes a long way.  Hummus Masabacha is essentially hummus with deconstructed hummus and other goodies.  We took a chance with the chicken liver and caramelized onions which worked and wasnt as oniony as it looked for onion sensitive Mrs Z.  The Short Rib (We ordered the Kofta, but got the rib.  Write it down people ;)) was nicely charred from the outside, tender and flavorful on the inside.  Like a true Sabra!  Came with Amba on the side.

Miss Ada Hummus

Jerusalem Artichokes (Sunchoke) are in season, and the soup always gets our attention.  This one is as good as it gets.  Spicy, complex, with pine nuts and crunchy apple bits.  And by law, Israeli places must feature Za’atar spices on the menu or on pitas I believe the law states.  Here you have both, including a well cooked salmon coated with that gentle Za’ataness.  Add Labne, charred shallots and Japanese eggplant and you got a St  Patty’s parade in your belly.  Labne Mousse for dessert is another winner.  While others use Granita to shock and overwhelm, here the Pomegranate Sumac Granita is carefully put on top of the delicate Labne with poached pear bits mixed in.  Nice use of fruits and veggies throughout the menu.

Miss Ada
184 Dekalb Ave, Brooklyn
Rating: 2.5 Z’s (out of 4)
Stars range from Good to Exceptional. Simple as that
Recommended Dishes: Whipped Ricotta, Salmon, Sunchoke soup, Labne Mousse

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TCI – Food Itinerary Update

IMG_7871Missed me?  Me too.  I was on another assignment in the Turks and Caicos trying to gain some well deserved poundage (7 to be exact).  Only registered one bad meal on this one, but that is a doozy of a story.  Will write a full report soon, but meanwhile put your second favorite Ziggy in the background and read the latest on how to eat like a local in Provo…

How to Gain 7 Pounds in 7 Days

 

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The Staten Island Survival Guide

Randiwa - Lamprais

Randiwa – Lamprais

No, you dont need new contacts.  You have reached Eating With Me, and yes, I’m writing about the foodie desert Island of Staten.  But how do I do it without offending 499,996 residents and the entire state of NJ.  Almost impossible for someone who spends much of his eating time in Brooklyn and Manhattan.  But I do need to eat in Staten Island on occasion, and some gems do exist.  This will not be one of those marathon posts because a) I dont really have much time today, and b) Its Staten Island!

The best way to examine the cuisine of Staten Island is to look at the map.  is almost entirely attached to New Jersey, and a long bridge away (#16 longest in the world) from the rest of New York.  It looks and feels like NJ in more ways than one.  In fact I’m pretty sure the term “bridge and tunnel people”, a term now used in other parts of the US started in Staten Island.  Staten Island is first and foremost a suburb with mostly suburb food.   The inspiration for the post is really one place that we’ve been enjoying lately.  A place that is painfully empty compared to the island “Power Houses”.  But more on that later.

When you ask 100 Staten Islanders what’s good on the island, you’ll hear 115 (including some opinionated extras who happened to be in the area) saying its pizza and “Eyetalian”.  Zagat, Eater and other online publications tend to agree when you Google Best of Staten Island.  Its essentially one giant Italian/pizza fest.  They are not exactly wrong, but not quite correct either.

Pizza – Yes, it is very good overall.  Joe & Pats is a local legend for good reason and one of our favorites.  So is Giove on New Dorp.  Capizzi on Hylan, is dishing out solid individual Neapolitan(ish) pies, but not quite to the level of its sister in Hell’s Kitchen.  Staten Islanders swear by Lee’s Tavern and its bar pizza.  In fact Lee’s Tavern created an entire category for pizza (bar pizza) but not a destination pizza by any meand unless you are opening a bar and wants to learn a few tricks.  Perhaps the most underrated pie in SI comes from Nonna’s in Great Kills.  Plenty of solid options all over the Island, but today not quite in line with the brilliance of Manhattan and Brooklyn.  These days you can even have a taste of SI in Manhattan through Rubirosa (Joe & Pats cousin), Denino’s in Greenwich Village, and the soon to come Joe & Pat’s of Staten Island in East Village.

Giove pizza

Giove

Italian – Pass.  Its essentially one giant “Little Italy”, red sauce orgy.  Nothing really wrong with that, as many of them are actually pretty good at what they do.  But its 2018 and SI still doesnt really have any sort of regional Italian-Italian cooking.  Capizzi and Enoteca Maria are probably the closest and the only ones I would consider on the island today.

MexicanTaqueria el gallo azteca in St George is not only the best on the island, but some of the best tacos I’ve had in NYC.  You can combine it with New Asha nearby for a mini best of SI food crawl.  The new half Peruvian Zabrosura is looking promising after my lone lunch.  And the same goes for Tamales Martita which is attracting plenty of locals Mexicans, some of whom from the days when the owner used to feed the ball troops with her Tamale cart.  Otherwise, some average to mediocre places throughout I wont mention.

Taqueria el gallo azteca

el gallo azteca

 

Sri Lankan – This is where things start to get interesting, and perhaps the only reason to stay more than 5 minutes when you take that ferry.  You got San Rasa, and Lakruwana (like a Sri Lankan museum) doing their thing in the far north, though my favorite ferry area joint these days is New Asha but its more of a quick lunch or take-out place.  My overall favorite restaurant in Staten Island these days is a newcomer on Richmond ave called Randiwa.  Chef/owner used to own San Rasa when it was at the old location.  We go for the Mulligatawny soup, Lamb Curry with Hoppers, Lamprais, Deviled dishes, Chicken Biryani, and Kottu.  Though New Asha probably boasts best Kottu on the island.

Asian – This is where SI is severely lacking.  There’s really no good Chinese, Thai, Japanese or anything really.  Just about 100% of them adhere to the western palate.  With that said if you absolutely must, East Pacific in the SI Mall is decent for Thai and Chinese, and Ocean Sushi is our go to for acceptable cheap Sushi.

MiscBayou, Beso, Vida are fairly reliable palate pleasers.  They are like watching Family Guy.  I dont get particularly excited about going, but when I go, I enjoy myself more often than not.  Vida and Enoteca Maria are consistently mentioned in the Michelin guide, but I doubt inspectors cross that bridge much.  Inca’s Grill serves decent Peruvian but keeps moving around like nomads.  Taste of India II is just about the only Indian on the island.  Indian in general in Staten Island come from the school of “If I add a 2 in the name, it will sound more convincing”.  There is no 1’s

That’s all I got.  Many others I’ve been are not worth mentioning.  And its entirely possible I’m missing some gems here, so let me know if I do

String Hopper Kottu San Rasa

San Rasa Kottu

Categories: New York City, Staten Island | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

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