Posts Tagged With: Timna

Z-List Update

fob-chicken-and-sides

FOB Chicken Adobo

Its that time of the year.  Game of Thrones season.  I got my GOT beer and i’m ready to rock and roll through what seems like a terrible winter.  Or just winter!  I’m not quite sure what “terrible” means in GOT standards but it sounds like pretty bad-ass.  As in more than two months of 10 inches of snow total.

Its also time to update the legendary, ultra exclusive (according to Harvard) Z-List.  That is 50 of my favorite restaurants in the city.  If it looks rather random to some, good.  Thats the point.  Eater’s Essential List doesnt seem very Essential either.  Its simply my way of answering “what should we eat while in NYC” to 99% of those questioning.  None of these costs more than $100 or less than $10 so that eliminates a good chunk.  The changes:

In –  Pinch Chinese, Gloria, FOB, Via Carota, Hearth, Timna

Out:

Biang! – Closed (miss it terribly)

Annisa – Closed

Empellon Taqueria – Just dont care for it as much as I used to.

Mission Chinese food – A little too hit or miss for me these days

Nargis Cafe – Still great, but out of reach for most of my audience

Zizi Limona – Stopped going pretty much since Mesika left

Congratulations to the winners and the entire 2017 class.  You did it!

Click here for the complete list

Pinch Chinese Crab in Chinese Restaurant

Pinch Crab in Chinese Restaurant

 

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Top 10 Dishes of 2016

Lilia Malfadini“Strange” is the first word that comes to mind.  Its been a strange and sad year in pop culture, politics, and even love life.  And by love life I mean food, not the other stuff which is fine thank you, and knock on.. ahem… wood.  But that’s another post for another day, that I imagine wont be a free one.  During 2016 we traveled a little more than usual, and so the best dishes came from overseas, especially Italy.  We also didnt quite have our share of the usual haute fine dining last year, as I continue to discover more and more exciting cheap options in all 5 boroughs.  But we did have our fair share of exciting eats, which made the selection difficult as usual.

Porgy at Ssam Bar

Its quite the site when this Long Island Sound beauty arrives in all her glory.  Head and teeth and all, without the main bone that was surgically removed.  The fish is dressed with the momofuku signature ginger scallion sauce.  One bite, and you can tell this is not your average grilled Branzino.  Another bite and its an entire Havah Nagilla rendition in your mouth.  By the 5th inning, you remember to try the accompanied lettuce and tortillas to make fish wraps.  You experiment by adding some pickled bean sprouts, cabbage, and creme fraiche, and you are suddenly the world’s greatest fish taco maker.  The fish comes with all these goodies in “Ssam” style.Ssam Bar Porgy

Octopus at Timna

The usual challenge with these lists is going back to the earlier moths to see if anything stood out.  This one did.  Some of the best octopus I’ve had in a while in a year filled with glorious octopus (Avlee, Cull and Pistol, just to name a few).  Nir Mesika from ZiZi Limona fame tenderizes, sous vide style, the heck out of this thing (I’m guessing by the size and bite, it was enjoying the coast of Portugal a few days prior).  Then he finishes it on an open flame like the Bedouin do 200 kilometers south of Mesika’s hometown in Israel.  All that smoky goodness, served with black eggplant puree, pickled cabbage and hummus, tells your brain just one thing.  Taim!Timna Octopus

Mafaldine at Lilia

Just about every other Best List out there this year features Lilia’s striking Agnolotti, which is fantastic dont get me wrong.  I would order it again and just about every other thing I ate (If I can get another reservation one of these days.  It’s simpler to score a shopping date with Ivanka Trump).  But my nod goes to the the ‘imperfect’ Mafaldine or Malfadini that looked and tasted pretty perfect to me.  Take your average Cacio e Pepe, change the pasta to something with more texture, sharper cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano, and pink peppercorns, and you essentially got Cacio e Pepe on crack.  Top picture

Hummus at Dizengoff 

I spent much of 2016 biking to/from Chelsea Market, and wrestling with tourists.  Guess who won?  This guy!  And much of these visits I spent at Dizengoff including two days after they opened when I met the great Michael Solomonov (turns out we have a lot in common, other than fame).  Its not just about the hummus and its perfect silky smooth texture and taste, and its hard to get excited about a Hummuseria to begin with.  But its much about the whole package.  The insanely delicious hot off the oven pita on steroids. (Calling it pita almost sounds insulting), the pickles, the homemade S’hug and the rotating seasonal toppings that make this place so magnetic.Dizengoff Hummus

Chicken Wings Skewers at Biang!

Ever since I discovered the magic of Biang, it has become the dining equivalent of Netflix binge watching.  I cant get enough of it.  The entire menu and its noodle lineup is fantastic, but its all these skewers that you cant find in the Xi’an Famous near you that I’m most attracted.  No one that I know prepares Lamb, Enoki Mushrooms and Cauliflower quite like this.  But its those perfectly seasoned whole wings that are so big they need to occupy two skewers that I need to have each time, sometimes with a tour group (usually on East Village tours on Fridays).  I just love a good wing.  And every morsel of this thing just makes me want to run around the room with scissors, naked.  Yes I’m seeing someone about that.biang-wings

Clams Grand Lisboa/Toasted Noodles at Nishi

Two incarnations, two names, one triumph.  Some of the original dish names got simplified over time for those unfamiliar with what Ceci or Grand Lisboa got to do with anything.  But there’s nothing simple about the entire Nishi noodle lineup (I’ve had all of them just in the past week).  The clams are dressed with Oregano based sauce, sitting on top toasted Chow Mein noodles and cabbage.  Calling this Cho Mein noodles is an insult to this dish.  Its cooked with apple cider that give it this sweet something, like no Chow Mein you’ve had before.  And clams with oregano is like a match made in Fukuland.  Fukuland is my heaven.  You are on a beautiful beach, fed something unique every hour by heavily tattooed bearded men, and heavily tattooed bearded women.Nishi Grand Lisboa Clams

Pretzel at Werkstatt

Yes a pretzel somehow sneaked itself into a best of list.  Pretzels are something I usually only eat when I’m about to pass out from hunger, but for this one I drive all the way to Ditmas Park, Brooklyn to have it.  It the best pretzel in NYC!  Well, that’s what its called on the menu.  So make sure to order the right one, otherwise you may wind up with just an “Adequate Neighborhood Pretzel”.  And did I mention that it comes with its own Lipitor!  Or is it “Liptauer”, a buttery, cheesy, peppery, paprika infused spread that requires a German born pretzel the size of half a pretzel cart to fully enjoy.  Forget the mustard and spread this beast with the Lipitor.  And if the pretzel will make you thirsty, they have a cure for that too.Werkstatt Pretzel

Eggplant at Atoboy

Its the year of the simplified dish names;  “Lettuce”, “Corn”, “Fish”, “Noodles”.  I see it on menus all over, and in some cases (like Nishi) menus actually change entirely to that.  Is it a fad, or we just getting dumber.  Dont really mind or care.  But in some cases, the ingredient doesnt tell the whole story, or even close.  The “Eggplant“ at this new playful Korean inspired in NoMad, on first glance looks like a Babaganoush gone horribly wrong.  But the makeup of the dish and the result is a lot more revealing.  You got layers of smoky eggplant, Dungeness Crab and Tomato Jelly, all easily combined in a spoonful of pure ecstasy.  And yeah, reach for the spoon for dishes like this.  They are not there for just soupsatoboy-eggplant

Fish Inihaw at FOB

Sometimes the best meals come from unexpected places.  The homey Filipino in Carrol Gardens surely delivered in more homey way than one.  Some if not all the recipes came from the chef’s parents.  And when mom and pop didnt quite agree on something, they included both versions on the menu (the two chicken dishes).  But the fish here was my favorite, and there was nothing particularly outrageous about it.  The day’s fresh fish (Pacific Flounder in our case) simply grilled in banana leaf, and topped with an extremely complimentary tomatoee Adobo.  We’ve had quite a few such dishes last year, including in Michelin Star La Vara a few blocks from FOB, but this one left the biggest mark.fob-fish

Miso Cherry ice cream at Oddfellows

Say it with me.  Miiiiso Cherry….  Say it like you mean it.  2016 is the year I took a break from gelato and rediscovered the joys of ice cream, but with a scientific twist.  I imagine these odd fellas in a Breaking Bad like lab in a Williamsburg warehouse experimenting on willing humans.  I cant think of any ice cream out there that had such an affect on me.  The Miso flavor is very evident here, and it works big time.  Since I had it, I’ve been bringing tours here on a regular basis, only to see Miso Cherry missing in action.  But no worries, they promise.  Its coming back very soon.oddfellows-miso-cherry-ice-cream

 

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Timna – Chutzpah Nation

Timna Octopus

March 26, 2017 Update:

At Tompkins Square Park, just east of Timna, there’s a Temperance fountain, constructed in late 19th century to help locals with their alcohol self restrain.  Drink water, avoid booze.  Sounds easy enough.  A primarily German neighborhood did all it could to maintain the legacy, up until the prohibition.  Today the park is surrounded by bars!

No such temperance, self restrain luck with Timna’s new spring menu however.  Dish after dish of dazzling combinations between the newcomers and the old heavyweights like the Kubaneh and Octopus, testing my self control and wallet.  Like a fat kid in a candy story, I want to eat all you got, now!

Perhaps if fat kids would eat cauliflower like this, the world would be a healthier place.  At Israeli establishments we are attracted to Cauliflower like Trump to Twitter.  But it was the cured tuna Sashimi that stole the show yet again early on with all its visuals, textures and flavors.  There was melt in your fork short rib with even better mushroom, and cheesy gnocchi done Roman style (Semolina).

The mains sealed the rare triple Z rating.  Legendary octopus whisperer Nir Mesika dishes out killa Octopus which I already discussed in great length here and below.  But on this night a new dish stole the show.  Two hefty fillets of marvelously cooked Striped Bass with Israeli couscous (aka Pearl Couscous invented for the digestive challenged David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister). I’ve been to places where one such fillet made the entire dish for the same price.  Mesika feeds his diners like his children.

Chutzpah Nation is clicking on all cylinders.  A full house of the young and the restless meant we belong alright, albeit texting was required sometimes to communicate.  My dish descriptions dont describe very well in this case.  There’s an art form to the way Mesika assembles each plate, with the goal to accommodate all senses.  We havent run into many chefs with this style.  From such a small kitchen come this ingredient heavy plating.  Not every bite is the same, and in some cases you even scavenge hunt.  Oooh, a raisin, I found a raisin!  Lets look for another one.  Mrs Z and I make our own fun!

IMG_5637

June 22, 2016 Post:

I will make this one nice and simple for you.  Pressing for time as of late, with only a week or so before I leave you yet again on another eating assignment (Sicily).  This one will be the biggest and baddest assignment ever, with a lot of interesting surprises in store.  Though I may be suffering from my first ever FRFS (food research fatigue syndrome).  I’m now seeing Busiate in my sleep and sometimes even when awake, like while watching the Euro 2016 (Football/Soccer).  As much as I’m enjoying the Euro’s, its best served as a rather harmless sleeping pill.  A much needed one since I’m not getting enough sleep as of late due to the mating season in my bedroom.  No, not what you think.  Birds! male birds, doing the entire Hava Nagila rendition at 4:30 in the morning in order to attract their female counterparts.

East Village in June, as I was showing to my Aussie friends, feels like mating season as well.  Its the east coast capital of pretty people.  Friends that live there give 2nd Ave nicknames I can not repeat here.  And on buzzy St Mark’s, in the middle of all that, you find little Timna, a modern Israeli joint with Nir Mesika (Zizi Limona, Milan, knows his hummus geography) at the helm.  When I visited young Mesika in the kitchen, I was announced by the manager Downton Abbey style.  The guy has all the talent and knowledge in the world, but has the look of someone in the early stages of a soccer career, rather than a world class chef.Timna Sashimi

Other than a slight discomfort at the rounded table at the back, with some A/C issues, this was a very enjoyable evening.  Started with the infamous freshly baked Kubaneh that comes with some yogurt, a tomatoee salsa and “Jalapeno Salsa” which is essentially green Yemeni S’chug.  If you have a Challah fetish, you will wet yourself over the taste and texture of this thing, and its a must get for groups especially (I wouldnt order it solo).  But as with most bread courses out there, its a bit overrated, and serves as a sharp reminder that the free bread course days are just about over.  Give me The Marshal french loaf with homemade butter any day of the week.  The obligatory Cauliflower that you will find in every Israeli corner, did not disappoint.  Here Mesika elevates it with curried yogurt, dried grapes among other deliciousness.  A veg-ful burrata is more proof that a sprinkle of Za’atar (oil in this case) makes everything better.

Mesika assembled a playful menu with influences from all over the world (Chinatown salad!) especially in regards to the raw stuff.  A Ceviche salad featuring mahi on this particular night was the weakest of the ones we tried.  A fine tzatziki tartar with minced lamb delighted Mrs Ziggy especially.  And the Mediterranean Sashimi featuring cured tuna, green Tabouli salad with quinoa, and crispy beat “leather” did the trick, including in the looks department  A somewhat deconstructed lasagna featuring slow cooked tender spareribs, and Jerusalem artichoke chips is another example of Mesika’s playful brilliance.Timna Shakshuka

But the most interesting dish of the night sounded the most boring, Bedouin Octopus.  Mesika tenderizes, sous vide style, the heck out of this thing (I’m guessing by the size, it was enjoying the coast of the Portugal a few days prior).  A bit softer than I like my octopuses.  Then he finished it on an open flame like the Bedouin 200 kilometers south of Mesika’s home in Israel.  This is by far the smokiest Octopus I’ve ever had, and one of the better, even while lacking the proper texture.  We skipped dessert.

Brunch in Timna is another delicious event.  And one of the better brunch values out there.   For $25 you get a selection of small salads (salatim) to share, any of the entrees, coffee (very good), and the obligatory Mimosa.  We sampled an average Hummus Masabacha which I’m not a big fan to begin with.  A nice Sabich Croissant, though I still prefer my Sabichs in a pita.  One of the better Shakshukas out there.  And a very solid burger with fried egg.

Timna
109 St Marks Pl (1st/A)
Rating: Three Z’s (out of 4)
Stars range from Good to Exceptional. Simple as that.
Recommended Dishes: Kubaneh, Cauliflower, Mediterranean Sashimi, Octopus, Fish, Shakshuka (brunch), Burger (brunch)

Timna Salatim Timna Masabacha Timna Burger Timna

Categories: East Village, New York City | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

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