Cover your keyboard ’cause you’re about to drool.
Scallion pancake at Nom Wah. If you’ve never had a scallion pancake, you are missing out. This treat is crispy, chewy and has a surprisingly complex flavor considering the few ingredients of which it’s comprised. It is safe to say that this is my newest edible obsession.
Without fail, every Asian restaurant I find myself at, the first thing I do is scan the menu for steamed pork buns. Sometimes they’re the small, dumpling-like type, but sometimes, they are the gorgeous, gluttonous type like this.
The pocket of sticky steamed dough holds a treasure of sauteed pork and onions in a sweet thick sauce. These pork buns at Nom Wah are what pork addicts like me lay awake and dream of at night.
Roast duck and wonton soup at Sammy’s Noodle Bar and Grill in the West Village. This diner-esque, depressingly-lit Chinese restaurant is famous for its giant bowls of authentic soup. Of the 20 or so soups on the menu, this one seems to be a great choice, especially if you’ve had a particularly rough day or froze your ass off while looking for a place to have dinner. The wontons are chewy, the duck is rich and salty, the broth is simple and there are stray pieces of baby bok choy. This bowl (which came in at less than $10) could easily feed a small country in Africa. Not surprisingly, I recommend the steamed pork buns here as well.
The dish below is called ‘Bahn Mi Bo Kho’ and it’s from a Vietnamese place in my ‘hood called Pho Hoai. I ordered this dish (which was classified as an appetizer at a generous $6.25!) because having eaten a few bahn mi’s in my life, I came to understand them as sandwiches, but what arrived was a giant bowl of spicy tomato soup with succulent pieces of beef and a warm baguette on the side. At first I assumed that I was to make a sandwich with the beef and bread, but settled for a fork-the-beef, sip-the-broth, dip-the-bread scenario. At the end I was glad this wasn’t a sandwich. This place is known for their noodle soups (pho); I also recommend the summer rolls and beef cubes over rice.
And here is what Rene and I had on Valentine’s Day. I was dying to go to Cuba, one of my very the favorite restaurants in the whole of NYC, but they were all booked, so we settled on another Cuban place a few blocks down – Havana Alma de Cuba. We started with a red snapper ceviche, with shrimp, octopus, tomatoes, onions and peppers, all marinated in zesty lime juice. It was perfect.
Next arrived another appetizer, something called Fufu de Camarones – plantains and garlic shrimp mashed together into a cake-like formation and served with some sort of gravy. This dish was so simple yet perfect. I can’t wait to recreate it at home.
Lastly there was the Lechon Asado – shredded suckling pig served with boiled yucca and garlic mojo. This dish is a sophisticated Cuban version of pulled pork – again, highly recommended for the pork-obsessed! The succulent savory pork is lightly dressed in a garlic marinade, and the starchy yucca is plays the role of the silent but necessary partner.
And here’s more Cuban goodness – Vaca Frita with an egg and fried yucca from Agozar. As you may recall, I first went here with the NYC food bloggers for tapas. This time, I went here with my friends for a celebratory birthday brunch. In spite of this unsightly presentation, the charred steak hash was incredible. I highly recommend brunching at Agozar. Not only do they have a great atmosphere and an amazing menu, but $25 gets you a brunch entree and unlimited sangria! Yes, you read right. Unlimited. Sangria. Just imagine all the daytime drunk fun you can have!
Living with my cousin in Paris who is a dedicated juicer and smoothie-drinker really rubbed off on me. Since getting back, I have really bonded with my blender (I don’t have a juicer). I literally throw everything in there – fruits, vegetables, herbs, nuts and even flax oil on particularly adventurous days. Tip: freeze smoothie ingredients before blending to eliminate need for ice, and always serve smoothies in a chilled glass.
Another habit I’ve picked up is being more adventurous with my toast. It’s easy to fall into a breakfast rut of coffee, oatmeal and eggs, but if you take extra time to plan your meals, you’ll have plenty of reasons to want to get out of bed in the morning! Use your imagination – try baby kale or arugula, tomatoes, avocados, eggs and/or lox as toppings, and always, always use a great base (none of that ‘Wonderbread’ crap).
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So what food habits have you picked up lately?