Events, New York City Eats

Le Grand Fooding & Weekly Eats at the New Amsterdam Market: Home/Made, Early Bird Cookery & Do Re Me Farm

April Bloomfield The Spotted Pig, Le Grand Fooding

STUFFED.  On Friday Sept 24, my sister and I went to the 2nd annual Le Grand Fooding at PS.1 MoMA.  This year with a thematic theme: throw down San Francisco vs. New York City chefs / West coast vs. East coast.  With chefs including from New York City David Chang from Momofuku, April Bloomfield from The Spotted Pig and chefs from San Francisco Laurence Jossel from Nopa, James Syhabout from Commis.  This theme derived from David Chang’s comment earlier  ” $#*! every restaurant in San Francisco is just serving figs on a plate with nothing on it.  Do something with our food.” – Look who’s talking?  Unfortunately, I did not get around to taste Chang’s Beets, goat cheese, walnuts dish so who am I to judge, but the combination of Beets, goat cheese, and walnuts… how innovative (sarcastically).

Food was spectacular at the Le Grand Fooding though waiting on lines after lines with the cost of our admission was absolutely annoying and disappointing.  I suppose the wait is considerably reasonable in comparison to how some of these participating chefs requires advance reservations for their restaurants up to 6 months to 1 year? -whoo   I was really excited to finally try April Bloomfield’s The Spotted Pig cooking.  The only female chef of the evening.  She created an exclusive dish for the event, cheese inspired a Beef, Bleu D’ Auvergne and Suet Pie.  I mentioned earlier that I don’t eat beef but I’m not a strict no beef diet person and it’s April Bloomfield!  To the fashionista she’s a Diane Von Furtensburg and to the graphic designers she’s a Paula Scherr.  April Bloomfield reinvented the British gastropub cuisine with a sophisticated modern comfort food twist and the Beef, Bleu D’ Auvergne and Suet Pie was amazing!  The Beef, Bleu D’ Auvergne and Suet Pie were served pipping hot from the oven in a average muffin sized tin.  The pie had a quiche and pot pie essence.  With the exterior similar to a quiche topping off with grated  Bleu D’ Auvergne cheese with a swift of Bleu Cheese aroma in the air.  A bite into the Beef, Bleu D’ Auvergne and Suet Pie the braised beef brisket was cooked to tenderness.  The proportion of cheese, crust and beef filling was cooked to perfection with layers of excitement and the taste was flavorful.

Events like Le Grand Fooding needs to be strategized.  We enjoyed April Bloomfield’s pie while on line for Laurence Jossel from Nopa (SF), Wood-grilled Pork ribeye, smoked tomato jam on artisinal bread.  The choice of tomato is very clever as it is one of the most seasonal fruits or vegetable however you like to classify it.  The dish was served bruschetta style on a nicely glazed extra virgin olive oil toasty artisinal bread with a generous  couple of  quarter inched sliced wood-grilled pork ribeye topping with tomato jam.  The tomato jam was excellent and overall it was fresh and every component and every flavored shined.

Next we waited on line in anticipation for the wine and pizza pairing from Pizza Moto (NY) and Pizzaiolo (SF) .  Unsure which was by whom. There was a seasonal heirloom tomato pizza and a calamari pizza.  Both pizza were delicious though I prefer my pizza cheesy and both lacked the cheesiness.  To end the evening, we finished off with James Syhabout from Commis (SF) Scallops with smoked stone fruit emulsion licorice herbs.  The line was the least longest but looks can be deceiving.  Chef Jams Syhabout has the execution all planned out and the scallops were very fresh and meaty.

Several dishes I did not get around to or were disappointingly out of:  David Chang’s Beets, goat cheese, walnuts (NY) ; Rich Torrisi Pickle salad (NY); Jeremy Fox’s Vegetables on a plate (SF) and Robert Newton’s Tennessee-style fried chicken. (NY)

San Francisco or New York City?  Hmm… I was born and raised in New York City and have lived here for over twenty-two years of my life but I also love San Francisco, the one and only west coast city I have gone back more than once and had considered in moving to.  The food in San Francisco is incredible.  San Francisco being closer to the Mexico border and to South America and to the Asian countries, the multicultural flavors are bold and are generally authentic.  Whereas New York City is a greater population of melting pot of multicultural and with the influence of the old inspiring the new creativeness.  Thanks to April Bloomfield’s Beef, Bleu D’ Auvergne and Suet Pie, I would give the title to New York City.  Her dish was awe-inspiring and I always appreciate chefs who cooks their food rather only having their name under their dish.

Goat Cheese on Foccacia Home/Made

To end the week and the final weekend of September 2010 is my weekly eats at the New Amsterdam Market. For this week of Sept 26, I had to try the weekly vendor Brooklyn, Home/Made‘s signature goat cheese on foccacia and at Home/made served coffee brewed by Brooklyn’s Kitten Coffee. The goat cheese spread on foccacia is highly recommended and by far the best chevre cheese I have had or perhaps ever.  The goat cheese is not overly pungent but with the fresh goat cheese taste still in existence and pairing with the freshly baked foccacia bread with the right amount of consistency and thickness is absolutely heavenly delicious.

I sampled the remainder ice cream flavors at the Early Bird Cookery from Cocheton, NY which was Blueberry and the oddly unusual but favorable beer & pretzel.  It was towards the end of the day so the ice cream were not as frozen.  The beer & pretzel flavor an obvious adult ice cream is surprisingly good and will definitely stir up a conversation with the process of developing the beer & pretzel flavor with the vendor just like in those black and white western cowboy films at the saloon with a draft beer and a friendly conversation with the bartender.

At it’s seasonal peak, I bought a bundle of fresh beets from the farmer John Pahucki  Do Re Me Farm located New Hamptons, NY.   I am very excited to attempt in cooking raw beets for the first time.  I usually buy the packaged beets from Trader Joe’s which are convenient, healthy and delicious.  With some advice from local experts I am confident to attempt a better version of David Chang’s beets, goat cheese and walnuts. HA.


New Amsterdam Market/// South Street between Beekman Street and Peck Slip, New York NY 10271 – near the old Fulton Fish Market.  (Every Sunday 11-4pm, next market is Sunday Oct 3, 2010)

Home/Made /// 293 Van Brunt Street Brooklyn NY 11231

Early Bird Cookery /// Cochecton, NY

Do Re Me Farm/// 342 Maple Avenue New Hampton, NY 10958

Beyond 5 Boroughs Travel, New York City Eats

Dog Days of Summer


dog day of summer_3

If only updating the food blog was as easy as eating, I would have 6 posts a day.  It’s been a month since I last wrote and over the last month I encountered some good grubs.

August 1, 2009: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Somehow, Philadelphia intrigued me as a worthy, budget conscience summer visit.  Only 2 + 1/2 hours from New York City, the brotherly love city, Philadelphia was better than how I recalled through faded memories with photographs when I barely knew how to speak.  It is surprisingly more than a historical visit to brush up on the U.S history and a city that worships Benjamin Franklin but it is filled with art and culture and a city that appreciates and preserves mural art!

Exploring the city by foot causes for a hungry person.  First stop, The Reading Terminal Market. People who knows me well knows I love markets: flea markets, supermarkets, farmers markets, etc.  Here in Philadelphia not too far from Philadelphia, Chinatown, is an amazing indoor market.  With over 100 fresh produce from fruits, vegetables and local homemade bread and jam.  On top of that The Reading Terminal Market is electrified with neon signs pointing down to eat here and there.  The options is like the United Nations of food court.  From Mexican to Mediterranean and Thailand to Middle Eastern,  it’s got it all.  And the Dutch, Amish!  Being in Philadelphia it is no brainer to have the Philly delicacy that is the Philly Cheesesteak.  A little overwhelm by the choices, I manage to settle for Carmen’s Famous Hoagies.  I think I should have tried harder in search of a better Philly Cheesesteak.  I don’t eat beef so on the menu there was the option of Chicken Mushroom Cheesesteak and the Buffalo Chicken Cheesesteak are the two I ordered for the family to share.  If you think the service in New York City is bad, you’re going to hate this one.  The server was twice my size and she practically mumbled the order to me and when asking for the receipt, she gave me a snare ( the total came to $19.10 for 2 cheesesteaks of course I am asking for a receipt).  While sitting on the stool for my order to go, there was a sense of cockiness from who I hint is the owner.  A man before me ordered two Philly Cheesesteak and had request for salt and pepper to sprinkle on but the owner refused to give him the salt and pepper and the customer refused to leave without his salt and pepper. I guess there’s two sides to this: from the owner/ chef perspective is to have the customers try the food the way it is, a compliment to the chef and he may be looking out for the guy’s health to cut down on the sodium.  From the customers point of view I paid for and should get what I want and he did get his salt and pepper he asked for eventually.  I got my cheesesteaks wrapped to go.  Less than 5 minutes, the chicken cheesesteaks appeared disappointingly soggy already.  The mushrooms in the chicken mushroom cheesesteak tasted from can which is ironic since there are all the fresh produce available at the market and  there seemed to be a lack of cheese which really defeats the cheese part in the cheesesteak and the lady charged me .75 cents extra for lettuce, tomatoes which did not even appear to be in the cheesesteak.  Of the two, the buffalo chicken cheesesteak stood out more with the blue cheese flavor.  The chicken for both was way too chopped up for my taste but apparently I think that is how the Philadelphians prefer their meats.  This leads to our Vietnamese dinner.  Strange to be having Vietnamese in Philadelphia but a pleasant surprise. I was with my parents and my mom is a very difficult person to please when it comes to eating out.  We ordered, two shrimp summer rolls that was stuffed with rice vermicelli, basel, and shrimps with a side peanut sauce.  Nice appetizer for a hot summer day.  My sister and I both ordered the Grilled pork with Vietnamese spring rolls vermicelli where the grilled pork unlike in New York City Chinatown Vietnamese restaurant serves sliced pork, in Philly is chopped into almost shredded pork.  Though it was still good, not the best.  My dad and mom both ordered a seafood vermicelli pho (soup) with a side of bean sprouts, fresh mints and limes.  I think it was my mom’s very first Vietnamese meal and like I mentioned earlier she is a very difficult person to please when it comes to eating out, this bowl of seafood vermicelli pho was a winner!  She loved it and I repeat it is very very rare.  She loved how flavorful the seafood broth was but very light which Vietnamese cuisine generally is.  My mom loved the meal at this corner Vietnamese restaurant in Philadelphia so much that week she had attempted to replicate the Vietnamese meal at home,  I think we ought to leave it to the Vietnamese chefs.

August 8, 2009: Woodstock, New York

It’s 40th Anniversary for Woodstock which I was not aware of until we hit traffic for the first time on our way to KTD, a Tibetan monastery in Woodstock and the media coverage this week.  I did not have my camera that day but somedays are better by memories.  Though, I have been to Woodstock a few times now, once for the Woodstock Animal Farm Sanctuary and few times to KTD, it was my first time I actually got to explore the small town made famous by the music concert in 1969.  Before we went to KTD for an empowerment, my brother Jimmy, sister-in-law Betty and our friend, Harry made a stop at the Garden Cafe for a late lunch. It’s a cute little restaurant with the interior decorations similar to Tea & Sympathy but less claustrophobic with mismatched vintage furniture.   On the table  top was a mini vase of fresh picked flowers and porcelain figurine (bunny for our table) salt and pepper shaker that kind of resembles tea time in Alice in Wonderland.  Garden Cafe is entirely vegan friendly though the menu options was very limited which I like sometimes how straightforward it is.  Somehow the Southwestern Sweet Potato Black Bean Burger with a side of roasted Russet potatoes appeal to all four of us, so we ordered four of the same dish.  The dish came presented in a porcelain skillet as an open faced burger: the black bean burger which was compressed with black bean, brown rice and sweet potatoes, a dollop of guacamole and salsa on top.  The whole wheat bun was nice and overall we all thought the burger was good but needed an hint of spicy kick, so my sister-in-law requested for hot sauce which had an unusual ingredient in hot sauce: carrots…interesting.   Later that night, after the empowerment we  had made a reservation for a Middle Eastern cuisine restaurant Joshua’s, vegetarian friendly catered to the Buddhist + Hippies in the area.  The restaurant was unexpectedly pretty upscale with superfluous utensils for each person.  Everything in the menu looked really appetizing especially the pasta dishes but instead I settled down with a spinach and three cheese strudel over brown rice and my brother had a similar dish, creamy potato leek strudel over brown rice which the descriptions for the dish was mouth watering.  Harry and Betty both had a Middern Eastern Pasta with spring vegetables.  The entrees came with first course of a basket of hot pita breads with individual servings for everyone of baba ghanoush, tabbouleh, and a sweet and hot pepper, great way to start off dinner.  The second course was a salad with a generous amount of fresh ingredients.  Finally came my spinach and three cheese strudel over rice.  I like spinach and I love cheese can’t go wrong and it was really good, though I wish  the strudel was more flaky and the dish was a bit dry.  Nonetheless, if you are in Woodstock for a visit, I highly recommend to stop by a Joshua’s for lunch or dinner, good food and friendly staff.

August 12, 2009:  Long Island City

Long Island City, Socrates Sculpture Park is a nice oasis from the city and mid-workweek.  The Socrates Sculpture Park has been having one of the best outdoor film screening all summer long and it is entirely free.  On August 12, the film screening was a film from Kazakhstan, Tulpan by Sergei Dvorsetvoy which will be available in dvd by mid-September.   There is a miraculous birth scene of a sheep that will either gross you out or blow you away.  On our way to Socrates Sculpture Park, my sister Linda, my friend Vaughn, and I grabbed some local Mexican food from Los Portales to go from not your usual Manhattan Mexican restaurant (Rosa Mexicana and Chipotle…o pehlease).  Los Portales is the real stuff!   My sister wanted a Tinga spicy chicken quesadilla and I ordered a Cajun Chicken, Roasted Peppers, Onions, tomatoes, lettuce, shredded cheese & Chipotle mayo on Portuguese bread which essentially is a burrito wrap.  And 2 sides: a fried plantain and Carnitas Fried Pork Tostadas.  The 2 sides were decent though the fried plantain may be slight burnt and the Fried pork Tostadas which is cubes of pork on shredded iceberg lettuce over a saucer size tortilla chip was pretty bland or tasted exactly like the ingredients.  The Spicy Chicken Quesadilla and the Portugese bread were really good, I liked how the dishes instead of cube chickens were shredded chicken which gives a sense of authenticity.

August 14, 2009: At last: Caracas Arepas Bar

Continuing with the Latin, Spanish, Mexican cuisine theme from Wednesday.  I met up with six of my friends from High school for a dog days of summer gathering.  I had Caracas Arepas Bar on my mind for quite some time now but have not had the chance to try it.  The reason maybe since it is way out of my way???  Being that I organize this gathering but was unable to find the restaurant myself after making circles in East Village is pretty ironic.  I will now forever remember E. 7th st between 1st ave and Ave A, near 1st ave and the address is worth implanting into my brain and to everyone’s because Caracas Arepas Bar is damn good!  The restaurant is pretty tiny and on a Friday night during recession it is without doubt this place was packed.  Not the best place for a group of 7 people but thankfully my brilliant friend Jane Tam had a backup plan to have it to go and enjoy our arepas in Tompkins Square Park which is only an avenue away.  Cynthia, Jane (Mango Lover), Jesse ordered La Pernil, roasted pork shoulder, tomato slices and mango spicy sauce.  Anita, Christina, and Sandra ordered Reina Pepiada, chicken with avocado mix salad that looked like guacamole but chunkier.  I had difficulty in deciding between La Jardinera, grilled eggplants, sundried tomatoes, caramelized onions, and guayanese cheese or La Surena grilled chicken and chorizo, avocado slices and the spicy chimi-churri sauce.  I decided to splurge a bit and went for the La Surena Arepas.  It was my first arepas ever and I’m liking it.  It’s a great street food not too messy though a little olive oil kind of greasy.  Arepas are essentially corn flat breads which Caracas Arepa Bar’s arepas does not get soggy like my chicken cheesesteak from Carmen’s Famous Hoagies or an overly baked like my experience with one Vietnamese bahn mi that rips the rooftop of your mouth.  Caracas Arepas Bar’s arepas is nice corn flat bread pocket and the fillings makes it better.  Every ingredient as listed in the menu description exists though I think there was only one or two chorizos.  The avocado slices are seasoned in a taste like pesto, garlic and herbal like basil and cilantro.  The grilled chicken is cooked well though obviously not recommended for my grandma with dentures. Caracas Arepas Bar unpretentious and kicks butt!  Afterwards we head over to Sundaes & Cones…dangerous!


Carmen’s Famous Hoagies/// The Reading Terminal Market 12th & Arch Streets, Philadelphia Pennsylvania

Vietnamese Restaurant /// Philadelphia Pennsylvania –TBA ( my mom’s epiphany on Vietnamese cuisine and I do not remember the name of the restaurant or the address)

Garden Cafe /// 6 Old Forge Rd Woodstock, NY 12498

Joshua’s /// 51 Tinker Street Woodstock, NY 12498

Los Portales /// 25-08 Broadway, Long Island City, NY 11106

Caracas Arepas Bar /// 7 East street between 1st Avenue + Avenue A (near 1st Avenue), New York, NY 10009

Sundaes & Cones /// 95 East 10th Street (between 3rd +4th avenue) New York, NY 10003

Non-Food Related Must Visits:

Elfreth Alley /// 126 Elfreth’s Alley | Philadelphia, PA 19106

Karma Triyana Dharmachakra (KTD) /// 335 Meads Mountain Road •  Woodstock, New York 12498

Woodstock Animal Farm Sanctuary /// PO Box 1329 Woodstock, New York 12498

Socrates Sculpture Park /// 32-01 Vernon Boulevard at Broadway Long Island City, NY 11106

Tompkins Square Park /// Avenue A to Avenue B East 7 to East 10th Street  New York, NY 10009

Homemade, New York City Eats


APRIL 9, 2009

img_1574Rai Rai Ken /// shio ramen

A bowl of ramen and two hours long conversation with friends accompanied with ice cream is more than essential but therapeutic for a mediocre work week.  Jane and I have been i-chatting up a drool fest. in the course of the past two weeks during our boredom at work.  Since Ippudo have been introduced in New York City, this place have been jam-packed and I was curious what the hype is or if it is over hyped.  At 6:30pm, the wait for a table for three: Cynthia, Jane and I, was already insanely going to be one hour.  For Jane’s sake, since she only had a sponge cake for lunch fundamentally “air” -jane, we decided to skipped Ippudo and headed to Rai Rai Ken…another ramen joint.  I was first introduced to Rai Rai Ken by my friend Jesse.  I have never been to Japan but the size of the interior of Rai Rai Ken may be as close to a restaurant in Japan based on what I have seen on travel shows.  The restaurant only seated about 14 people on barstool and over watching non-Japanese but Hispanics preparing your bowl of ramen.  We ordered one of each ramen options available.  Jane ordered the Shoyu Ramen, Cynthia ordered the Miso Ramen, and I ordered the Shio Ramen.  Service was in full speed and in less than ten minutes we were slurping away.  The proportion of the ramen is deceiving with only one sliced of roast pork, one fish cake, one sheet of dried seaweed and  half of a boiled egg and a portion of spinach and bamboo shoots.  It certainly is not overfilling but surely satisfying and enough room for an ice cream at Sundaes and Cones.

img_15801 hazelnut not pictured =(

Sundaes and Cones was a really nice surprise.  I have past by Sundaes and Cones several times before while in St. Marks but never really acknowledged it.  With a wooden bench in the storefront it gives a sense of a very young family and friendly ice cream parlor on any ice cream weather permitted day…for me that is 366 days.  The decor reflected the friendly and patient staff at Sundaes and Cones and majority Asian and hence the exotic selections of Asian flavors such as: wasabi, taro and honey & ginseng.  I do not think I would have the patience in working anywhere with unlimited free sampling but I have to admit and I honestly do not do samplings often when allowed that it was great fun deciding which flavor to select for the ultimate one-scoop.  Cynthia and I spent at least almost 10-15 minutes or longer sampling flavors.  I sampled the taro and the semi-full bucket explains why it is still semi-full.  Cynthia suggested we both tried honey & ginseng but I had misread and misheard it as honey & ginger so I was expecting a spice to hit, instead the flavor still hit but rather unpleasant…almost like a rubber rain boot?  I end up having a full scoop of black sesame seed which is neither of the flavors I had sampled.  I was pretty confident with how black sesame would taste though I have never had black sesame seed in ice cream form,  it seems  a very common Asian ice cream flavor in Asia but practically foreign here in the states.  I wanted to be surprised and I was happily surprise.  It had a very roasted and nutty taste with a very fine sesame creamy texture…I was in heaven.  We each took a sample of each other’s final ice cream choice, Jane with the hazelnut which was nutty as well and rather nice since it tasted pure hazelnut without artificial sweetener and Cynthia’s very bold traditional choice of matcha green tea flavor would certainly be a great pair to a cup of green tea.  Sundaes and Cones is a luxurious treat on a budget and I highly recommend everyone who loves ice cream to make a visit, even my grandma with dentures would love it, I guarantee it.


iLuvPotato & Friends ate at: 

Rai Rai Ken /// 214 E. 10th St., New York, NY 1000

Sundaes and Cones /// 95 E. 10th St., New York, NY 10003 


APRIL 11, 2009

I have  been craving for curry throughout the week and I am tired of the instant Japanese bars of curry in a box and had picked up a bottle of curry powder from a small Thailand/ Indonesian grocery store on Bayard Street, owned by an adorable grandpa.  Perfect day to make curry and of course eat it!