Monday, November 26, 2007

What A Friend You Have In Chesses

Tis the Season To Give The Gift.... of Cheese

So, gone is Thanksgiving. Time to dust of the box of holiday decorations, break out the Christmas card rolodex and start making lists.

About this time of year, every year, I start searching for unique, regional food gifts for friends and family. This year, I have found a wonderful option. Cheese.

My favorite cheese shop in New York is the one and only Murray's, and sure enough, there is a CHEESE CLUB at Murray's that will keep the love of your life neck deep in cheese for as long as you wish.

Additionally, they sell special cheese sets (american, italian, cheddars, etc), cool gadgets, apparel and other goodies. How cool is it to get a Fondue Kit in the mail, along with all of the cheese you need to get it going?!

But wait... there's more! Murray's also ships salami, nuts, oils, vinegars, crackers, toasts, chocolates, etc... not just cheese. I'd think if you have a epicurean on your list, you could make their head swim with all of the goodies you'll find here.

Plus: Great selection, top quality, beautifully presented and shipped

Minus: Expensive as hell, uh, expensive as hell. But it is Christmas, right?


Just as tasty and maybe even more trendy at the moment are our friends at Artisanal, the incredible cheese emporium in NYC that like Murray's, deals in quality stuff. They too have a cheese of the month club, and feature an even wider array of the stinky stuff. Throw in cheesecakes and breads and you have yet another killer option for those who need more than Hickory Farms on the table during the holidays.

Of course, if Hickory Farms is your thing, and by that I mean a nasty cheese crock and a beef log made of mystery meat, you can find them here. Just don't tell your giftee that I sent you there... although I loved that stuff at the mall when I was 12....

Need one last choice? Well, when all else fails, send them Gouda. Henri Willig makes award-winning gouda on his cheese farm, and you can get a 2-pound hunk of the stuff here. I've ordered several times, and love the stuff. Henri makes good gouda.

Need more suggestions? I'll be filling this page with juicy bits during the holidays so check back often. Next up?.... Chocolate!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Mail Order Magic

It's Time To Get The Goods For Thanksgiving

I love the holidays. I mean love love.

Why? I get to see my friends and family, take a few days off... and eat amazing stuff.

One tradition of mine that will never change is my obsession with food from home. Those years when I spend time visiting relatives in Pennsylvania or elsewhere, I arrange shipments of food to arrive when we do. These items usually include homemade Louisiana sausage (for grilling and the gumbo that follows Turkey day), boudin (the amazing "rice dressing" sausage that is good to snack on constantly), chickens stuffed with jalapeno sausage, jalapeno sausage bread.. and other goodies.

There are several places that are reputable, but I'll take this opportunity to share my favorite spots so you too can surprise your family this holiday!


First, do some research. My favorite site to read about boudin is The Boudin Link, a site dedicated to amazing Louisiana Boudin in the Lafayette and Baton Rouge area. Some of the places on this list will ship, but if they don't, don't worry.... Bourque's will. This place isn't just great for boudin, but their sausage (pork and beef varieties are simply these best you'll ever eat) is out of this world. Also, this is where you get the stuffed chickens. If that isn't enough, they have great Turducken as well, if thats your thing.

Warning: If you haven't had a turducken, it may not be a great idea to order one and replace your Thanksgiving Turkey with it. Turducken is an acquired taste, and your first one should be on the side. This is a rich, rich dish... and as the name states, is a stuffed chicken, inside a duck, inside a turkey... all boneless.

To order these goodies, I suggest you order from these folks, in this order:


Great boudin, smoked sausage, breads and stuffed chickens


These guys ship crabs and crawfish in season, as well as the best boudin balls in the world

They have decent stuff here, but the quality can't touch Bourques or Tony's

Amazing Sausage Bread from Bourques


Years ago, this was a novelty that few people ate. Now, my friends in California and New York are experts. You can order Fried Turkeys online, but they just don't taste that good, as they are meant to be eaten warm and fresh.

If you live in the NYC area, you can get a fried turkey from the folks at JIVE TURKEY in Brooklyn. They have way too many flavors, but the cajun is good.

Of course you know, fried turkeys can't be prepared inside... under ANY circumstances. You can get a frying pot almost anywhere these days, so plan to get outside if you crave a delicious bird prepared in this fashion... most people I know only prepare fried turkeys, since they just taste so good.

If you plan to do it, here is what you'll need to do:

Cajun Fried Turkey Recipe


12lb turkey (no larger)
Chef Williams Cajun Injector Creole Butter Marinade
Creole Seasoning
3 - 4 gallons of oil (preferably peanut oil, or cottonseed)


Remove giblets from turkey, rinse with warm water, pat dry (especially inside cavity) and leave whole. Drain cavity completely.

Inject 4 oz. of Creole Butter Marinade on each side of breast (you can order this from cajun grocer). Inject 2 oz. in each leg and thigh. Use about 16 oz. of marinade per turkey.

Rub Seasoning Salt on outside of turkey and on the side of cavity.

Set up the outdoor cooker.

Hold the turkey by the legs and lower (breast first) slowly (very slowly) into the oil. Make sure all of the water is drained from breast cavity before placing bird into the oil.

Deep fry in 3 to 4 gallons of oil at 300F for 3-4 minutes per pound.


Sure you've had fried turkey, but have you fried a pork roast? Well, if you haven't, they are amazing. Here is a recipe for a pork roast, with marinade. If you don't want to make homemade marinade, go ahead and use the stuff in the bottle... it will still be great.


A deep fryer made or designed to fry turkey's
Frying thermometer

Whole Pork Roast

Injection Mixture

1/4 cup melted butter or margarine
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbs. garlic juice (your choice)
1/2 tsp. granulated garlic (not powder)
pinch of black pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
3 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
Prepared Mustard (the yellow stuff in a jar)
Tony's or Old Bay Seasoning
Peanut oil to fry in

Prepare the meat:

Trim the roast leaving just a little fat on it.

Mix all the ingredients above except the Mustard. Bring mixture to a boil then let cool stirring every few minutes to release the seasonings. Draw mixture into an injector and inject the roast putting the needle as close to the center of each muscle as you can (doesn't have to be perfect). Rub the outside of the roast with mustard then sprinkle a little Tony's or Old Bay seasoning all over it. Put the roast in a zipper lock bag or in a covered bowl. Put it in the fridge overnight (at least 8 hours).

Preheat oil to 350ºF [Follow the fryer instructions - this oil will cook you if it hits you]. Cook about 8 minutes per pound.

Keep the oil at 325-350ºF, no more no less.

Take the roast out and put it in a pot on the stove with about a half inch of water in it. Put the fire on medium-low and let the roast loose some of the browning to make a small gravy. Turn the roast to get all sides. Do this at least 5 minutes on each side. Season the gravy with Old Bay and black pepper.

Slice the roast and put it in a casserole dish. Pour the gravy over it!

Enjoy your holiday everyone!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A Blue Ribbon For The Upper West

Don't Look Now, But There are Sexy Fish on 58th Street

For those of us “Upper West Siders” who are long time Blue Ribbon fans, the thought of the new Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar and Grill was too good to be true. Now that Bruce and Eric Bromberg’s terrific sushi spot is open, the bottom line is clear… quality Upper West dining comes with a price.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that New York restaurants come with a price tag, but unfortunately this spot has a price that will prohibit a weekly visit.

That said, everything the Bromberg brothers set out to do in this store works. It is hip, fun, sexy and mostly delicious.

In NY, and especially the Time Warner Center area, your space needs to scream “cool”. This one does. With a bar up front, the long narrow space opens into a surprisingly hip back room… with a sushi bar jammed with 8-10 sushi chefs.

If Frank Lloyd Wright had been Japanese, this would have been his design. A mix of expertly crafted raw and finished woods, I couldn’t help but notice that there was a design connection between the space and the cedar sake box before me. It works.

For sushi purists, the menu is overwhelmingly spectacular. There are a jillion varieties of fish here, and fresh is the rule. Sure there is tuna, mackerel and amberjack… but you can’t always find Japanese snapper and orange clam lingering around a menu in this area. The prices are steep ($4 a bite, or a California roll with King Crab for $17.50) but you get what you pay for.

For example, my $9 spicy tuna roll was good (fresh fish, but not very spicy)… but for 4 tiny pieces, I thought ahead to my next visit with friends, thinking a large dinner for four would get expensive fast.

The early star of the show was easily the San Daikon, a three radish salad in a terrific ginger-miso dressing. We coupled this with one of the good-looking specials, a platter of rock shrimp tempura with spicy sauce on the side. The dish was ok, but would be improved a great deal by frying the shrimp about one minute longer, and tossing the hot crispy shrimp with the sauce and heaping them on a platter with something fresh on the side (cucumber would be perfect).

The rest of the menu can be hit or miss. Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t bad food here, I just feel that some dishes fall a little short.

Point in case:

For dinner I veered off of the sushi menu and ordered the salt and pepper shrimp, a dish that really showed me some of the limitations of the kitchen. Although the shrimp had good flavor, there was very little flavor on the shells… which were also very hard to peel. The manager made a point to make his way to our table and tell me I could (and should) eat the shells, but being from Louisiana and eating shrimp since birth, I know that one doesn’t digest shrimp shells easily. Let me cut to the chase… this was a platter of four medium large shrimp for $19.00. I wasn’t expecting a platter of ten, but for that price, they better be some bad ass shrimp. They weren’t.

In contrast, my companion stuck with sushi rolls and was happy happy. Again the freshness of the fish was front and center… and as you know, when you are dealing with fish of this quality, it’s hard to screw it up.

Blue Ribbon offers land lubbers several options here… a nice steak menu and their famous fried chicken… an option I may opt for when I return… and their desserts are simple if not underwhelming.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the incredible sake collection, both pasteurized and unpasturized. We ordered two boxes of unpasturized (recommended by our waiter) and loved the choice. There is also a good wine selection and cocktails of all shapes and sizes.

The skinny? Well it’s good. For those like me that aren’t high-end sushi connoisseurs, it’s just enough. For those who are into sushi, it’s a haven. For everyone, it’s expensive. But hey, this is the new Upper West Side, right?

photos by Robert K. Chin