Thursday, July 27, 2006

In Case You Missed It, Again!

Because You Just Can't Remember It All......

Working too hard? Head in the clouds? Wondering what’s happening in the NYC culinary scene?

Time to catch up.

Every Bite With A Krunch
As if we didn’t need yet another pizza joint, the folks at Krunch Pizza Bar have opened their slender outlet to raves on the East Side… and with thin and crispy pies packed with items like proscuitto, polpetti (meatballs), shrimp and homemade mozzarella… a cab ride over may not be such a bad idea (2nd Ave btw 51st and 52nd)

She’s Back! She’s Back!

My vision of loveliness, the dear old polish woman who runs First Avenue Pierogie and Deli has returned from her annual trip to Eastern Europe, and is again making some of the best pierogie in the city. Keep in mind these little gems are to go, but all you need is a skillet and a stick of butter to transport yourself to Warsaw for the afternoon. (1st Ave btw 7th and St. Marks)

Polish Oasis
Speaking of pierogie, if you can’t wait and need them asap, there may be no better (or cheaper) place to get your fix than Neptune, the campy polish diner on the lower east side. What many people don’t know is that Neptune has a lush, relaxing garden out back and is a wonderful refuge on just about any summer afternoon or evening. And more importantly, they pan fry their pierogie to crispy perfection… and don’t deep fry like the other pretenders in the neighborhood (Veselka). (1st Ave at 12th)

All The Rage

Yes, chicken is exciting stuff and word has it that the folks at Dirty Bird To Go are doing it right. With double-dipped free range, slow-roasted and tasty fingers (no doubt an idea spawned by the success of Cane’s Chicken Fingers, the Baton Rouge phenomenon now sweeping the nation), those lucky enough swing by have been happy happy. Throw in a side of dirty rice, mac n’ cheese and cornbread and things can get downright silly. (7th Ave near 14th)

Is the Secret Out?
It wasn’t long ago that taco lovers were whispering the praises of La Esquina, the cooler-than-all-get-out Mexican joint near Nolita… but now?
Well, let’s just say that the secret door (see photo) that leads to the underground dining room brimming with pulled pork tortas and chorizo and potato tacos may no longer be a secret, but none the less, the food is happening and the scene is just downright cool. Bring an out-of-towner and freak ‘em out. (Kenmare at Lafayette)

When Godiva Just Won’t Do

Without anyone knowing it, NYC has turned into a chocolate Mecca. Jaques Torres may be the king, and Godiva may be in every neighborhood… but the best may lie in an Upper West Side boutique… Scharffen Berger. The stuff is likely the finest grade made in the US, and is sworn by famous chefs everywhere. Bakers swoon, but now you too can drop by and see for yourself. The difference? Scharffen Berger imports their own cacao beans and roasts them in small batches… resulting in a process as delicate as wine making. It really is that good… although, the chocolate covered Cheerios that Torres makes are as good as anything you’ll ever put in your mouth. (Amsterdam at 83rd)

Bits and Pieces
The Farmers Market at Rockefeller Plaza continues through mid-August with an array of fresh fruits and veggies, homemade pies, pretzen, plants and wines. Impress your co-workers.. swing over and buy a piece of fruit..... Is Olympic Pita in Brooklyn the owner of the best shwarma plate in NYC?.... they have many convinced..... Panya Bakery is your best opportunity to try japanese breads, and they do them well.... the Upper West Side's PizzaBolla continues to dish out super thin crust pizza, without the grease.... speaking of UWS, has anyone gone to Loft?...


I was in Michigan a few weeks ago, feeding a large group. As I usually cook Louisiana specialties, I pulled a recipe from my vault, that I have adored forever.

As you know, New York has it's subs, Chicago has it's Italian Beef, Philly it's Cheesesteak... and Louisiana, it's PoBoys. One of my favorites, is a traditional New Orleans Roast Beef PoBoy. It is melt-in-your-mouth slow cooked beef, piled onto fresh french bread, and topped with thinly shredded cabbage and sour pickles... covered in gravy and beef debris. I just can't keep this to myself any longer. From the NOLA archives. Enjoy.

Roast Beef Po’ Boy with Debris Gravy Recipe

For the Roast:
1 Beef Chuck Roast (this one was 2 ½ pounds)
2 Garlic Cloves thinly sliced
Kosher Salt & Black Pepper
3 Tbsp Lard or Vegetable Oil
1 Small Onion, Diced
1 Small Carrot, Diced
1 Cup Beef Stock
1 Cup Chicken Stock
Water if necessary
2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbsp Hot Sauce
2 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
1 Fresh Bay Leaf
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper to taste

Cut small slits into the roast, about every 3 inches, try not to pierce all the way to the bottom. Stuff the sliced garlic into the slits.
Season the Roast very liberally on all sides with the Salt & Black Pepper, season with Cayenne to your taste, I don’t use much.
Heat the fat in a heavy bottomed Dutch Oven over high heat, when the oil starts to smoke, wait a few more seconds, then carefully add the Roast cut side down. Brown very well on all sides, without burning it. Remove to a plate.
Drain off all but 1 Tbsp of the fat in the pan, add the onions and carrots, cook until the onions just start to brown, place the roast back in the pan, then add the stocks. Finish, if necessary, with enough water to bring the cooking liquid 3/4 of the way up the roast. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then back down to a simmer. Simmer covered for 3-4 hours or until the meat falls apart by staring at it.

For the Debris Gravy:
Carve the meat into very thin slices, it will be hard to do and will fall apart, that is good. All of the bits and pieces, that fall off are your Debris (pronounced DAY-bree.) Add all of the bits and chunks to you cooking liquid after skimming off the fat from the surface, keep the carved meat with a little liquid on a warm plate, covered tightly with plastic wrap. Bring the gravy to a full boil and reduce until it coats the back of a spoon. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

For the Po’ Boy:
New Orleans Style French Bread (Po’ Boys are generally about 9-10 inches long per sandwich. As you can see I made mine a bit smaller, shame on me.) Cut the bread 3/4 of the way through leaving a hinge (as seen in the background of the pic.) I find the hinge makes for slightly, easier eating.
Shredded Lettuce (or Cabbage a la Mothers)
Roast Beef (see above)
Debris Gravy

Slather the bread with a very generous portion of Mayonnaise on the inside of the upper and lower halves. Place about a cup of Shredded Lettuce on the bottom half. Cover the lettuce with a generous portion of the “sliced” Beef. Drown the beef with Debris Gravy.

Grab a stack of napkins, a cold beer and enjoy (and call Andre, as you need help eating all of this).