Monthly Archives: February 2012

Why Luzzo’s is great and I don’t care if you are a hater.

I’ve mentioned Luzzo’s pizza quite a few times but have yet to write about it … until now.


Luzzo’s
211 1st Ave
(between 12th St & 13th St)
New York, NY 10003

For most people, pizza is usually delivered in a large cardboard box with various 5x5x5 coupons stuck to it.  It usually comes at an ungodly hour when there are few options left.  This changed for me when I moved to NYC and tried Ovest Pizzoteca, Luzzo’s sister restaurant.  I started craving this pie like no other, and would drag people to go with me anytime we wanted to go out for a “nice meal” at an affordable place that is still cool and hip.  Unfortunately, Ovest somehow was not able to sustain a consistency and frequently burned their pies so much that I feared for my health and ate only the toppings.  LUCKILY, it’s sister Luzzo, is just as good/better really and always consistent.

  

Both restaurants serve neapolitan style pizzas, which has two main differences that set it apart from “American” Pizza-Hut-Papa-John style pizzas.  The first is the texture and thickness of the crust.  Luzzo’s pizza is thin and slightly crispy at the bottom, but soft on top.  The end crust is very light and fluffy, and almost a little puffy.  If you like really crispy thin-crust pizza, I would suggest you check out Posto or Otto because Luzzo’s is nice and chewy.  American pizza tends to be thicker and softer all around, hence giving it the ability to fold in half and fit in a frat boy’s mouth in one bite… Continue reading Why Luzzo’s is great and I don’t care if you are a hater.

Gallery Hopping in Chelsea? Bring some coffee and treats.

First things first, this post is going to stray off topic just a little bit.  I am going to share with you another one of my passions.  I promise to bring it back to food at the end.  If you’re too much of a philistine (KIDDING, food is totally a good reason to skip ahead), scroll down or hit “Continue Reading” and you’ll hear my two cents about some coffee and treats in Chelsea Market.

 

A must-do for any visitor or resident of NYC is gallery hopping in Chelsea.  It boasts more than 350 art galleries, most of which are free (almost enough of a reason to go in itself).  The galleries feature both famous artists, up-and-coming artists, as well as lesser known artists.  This art district is particularly great for that reason; the juxtaposition of these artworks has always caused me to reconsider my view of art and the art world.  Before you go, be warned… SOMETIMES, you will have to wait in line to enter the gallery.  I recently waited two and a half hours (no exaggeration at all… this is why you need to bring coffee and treats with you) on a cold and rainy Friday morning for Doug Wheeler’s “Infinite Environment” exhibit at the David Zwirner gallery.

Ever wonder what it would feel like to be in the absence of space?  I actually got to experience this at the exhibit.  Using curved fiberglass, paint, and a manipulation of light, Wheeler successfully created an environment with no space.  Six people are invited each cycle to take off their shoes and enter the exhibit for the 10-minute light show.  Once you enter the installation area, you observe that the completely white room (ceilings, wall, and ground) is seemingly small.  You walk up to the very “end” of the room and pause to touch the wall ahead of you.  There’s nothing there.  Your hands literally glide through the “wall.”

Continue reading Gallery Hopping in Chelsea? Bring some coffee and treats.

Brooklyn Flea – The Food Edition

  

Brooklyn Flea Market
Skylight One Hanson
1 Hanson Place (Forte Greene)
Brooklyn, NY 11217

 

As you can see from the photos above, the location of this flea market is absolutely stunning!  During the winter months, the Brooklyn Flea is held indoors every Saturday and Sunday from 10am-5pm at the former Williamsburg Savings Bank.  As you navigate through the aisles of vendors, it takes you a second before you realize that their booths are set up against old teller windows – so cute!  People rarely look up in a place with so many goodies  below eye-level but if you do, you’ll see the beautiful vaulted ceiling and even an old “Life Insurance” sign that someone forgot to take off.  Over 100 vendors gather at this site to sell all sorts of random things.

  

In addition to the cool vintage jewelry, clothing, handbags, there are also paintings, old school toys, handmade crafts, and of course…. FOOD.  The food is located on the lower level, where the bank’s vault used to be.  You have to come just to even check out these amazing original vault doors.  Look at how thick they are!

There are two sets of these crazy doors, the last of which leads you into the “dining” space.  We tried almost every single booth, which unfortunately, was not as many as I hoped there would be.  Apparently there are more food vendors during the warmer months.  I must come back.  Anyway, let the food tour begin…

 

Red Hook Lobster Pound
  

BETTER THAN LUKE’S LOBSTER ROLL!  I don’t normally like to write in all-caps because my brain automatically reads it in a yelling voice when I see it but in this case… I WANT YOU TO READ IT THAT WAY BECAUSE IT HAS BEEN A LONG TIME SINCE I HAVE DISCOVERED A NEW LOBSTER ROLL THAT I LOVE.  If any restaurant boasts about its lobster roll, I will give it a try.  Since trying Pearl Oyster Bar for the first time almost two years ago, I have tried all of “Boston’s Best” and most of “New York’s Best.”  Pearl always wins.  Luke’s always comes in second as a cheaper alternative.  At $16, RHLP’s roll is one entire dollar more expensive than Luke’s, but I would say tastes maybe five dollars better.  The bread is very, very toasty and almost a little crisp on the outside.  The interior is warm and buttered.  The lobster is, like Luke’s and Pearl, sweet and plentiful.  However, RHLP uses a little more mayo than Luke’s, making it more similar to Pearl, aka. more delicious.  The thinly sliced scallions on top surprisingly add a great deal to the flavor, making it THAT much better.  I would definitely have this over Luke’s any day.  Unfortunately they are only located in Brooklyn.

 

Asia Dog
  

Meh.  Not.  Worth.  It.  $4.50 for a beef, chicken, or veggie dog or $5.00 for an organic one.  I got the MASH because it is apparently their bestseller.  It ended up being a low-grade and very skinny beef dog topped with slightly stale chips that are the leftovers at the bottom of the bag, “spicy ketchup” (tasted like normal ketchup) and “jalepeno mustard” (didn’t taste the pepper at all…) stuck between a very dry bun that was falling apart. Continue reading Brooklyn Flea – The Food Edition

Gimme some of that Chinese BBQ!!!

  

Big Wing Wong
102 Mott St
(between Canal St & Hester St)
New York, NY 10013

 

It was a sunny President’s Day and we decided to celebrate by biking into Chinatown and stocking up on some cheap groceries.  We get our groceries roughly every two weeks from Hong Kong Supermarket, the biggest supermarket (I believe) in Manhattan’s Chinatown.  Vegetables and meats are so, so much cheaper here than at your average American supermarket.  Sometimes, you can get a whole bag of tomatoes for a dollar!  You can also find much more variety of vegetables, such as bitter melon, pea shoots, and fresh prince mushrooms – makes cooking much more interesting.  Since we were already in the area, we of course picked up some lunch.  I decided I was in the mood for some juicy char siu.  Char siu is a Chinese barbecue pork that is often eaten with rice, noodles, or even in a bun.  Red food coloring is often added to give the meat its reddish exterior.  It has a shiny glaze of honey on the outside that gives the meat a slightly sweet flavor.

Based on various reviews I read online, Big Wing Wong apparently has some of the best char siu in the area.  The restaurant was extremely busy when we popped in.  Tables were filled with various parties as you are expected to sit wherever there is an empty space.  We ended up sitting at a table with three girls who worked at the restaurant.  They were on their lunch break, which only ended up being not more than 15 minutes.  The place is extremely fast paced.  People come in and either order a whole duck to-go, or sit down and eat with their heads buried, without pausing to take a breath, down their tea, and peace out.  We were clearly noobs as it took us more than 5 minutes to decide what we wanted to eat and I of course had my camera out.   Continue reading Gimme some of that Chinese BBQ!!!

Brussels Sprouts at a Meat Pie Shop?

Tuck Shop
75 9th Avenue
(between 15 and 16th St.)
New York, NY 10014

Known for Australian savory pies and sausage rolls, Tuck Shop is a little snack shop in Chelsea Market, next to Bar Suzette Creperie and One Lucky Duck.  They cook up traditional meat pies stuffed with ground pork, “chook” pies (chicken, ham, and leek in a white gravy), sausage rolls, and much more, all made with a buttery and flaky pastry.  Yum… but of course, I didn’t try any of those meaty pies.

Like any logical (not) foodie, I had the roasted brussels sprouts instead.  I couldn’t help it!  They had a display case featuring these fresh, bulbous little guys and I just had to have some.  $5 for roughly 7-8 sprouts – not exactly good bang for your buck… but again, the display case!!  Simply seasoned with salt, these sprouts were exactly the veggies I was looking for after a weekend of gluttony.  People who don’t like brussels sprouts claim that they are too bitter.  If cooked correctly, the bitterness subsides (though not completely) and a very fragrant taste emerges.  Some pieces were nicely burnt and crisp on the outer layer (I also love them because they have layers and are fun to eat), but most of them were soggy because they were pre-cooked and sitting in a covered container.  Luckily, they were soggy from sitting in a pool of delicious olive oil and salt.  Would I get them again?  Yes, because they are green and I love brussels sprouts.

A Tourist Trap Isn’t Always A Trap … Lombardi’s Pizza

Lombardi’s Pizza
32 Spring St
(between Mott St & Mulberry St)
New York, NY 10012

Lombardi’s Pizza was never on my list of MUST-TRY-ASAP restaurants, mainly because it’s kind of in the Soho-ish area and is known to be very touristy.  I’m not a tourist, I’m a New Yorker!  I’ve been living here for almost 8 months now!  Okay fine, maybe I’m not a New Yorker… but ever notice how people pretend they are after they’ve only been here a couple months?  So many people here are just in transition.  ANYWAY.  Tourist traps are no fun.  Therefore Lombardi’s Pizza is probably no fun.  Probably.

 

You walk into the restaurant and you see tons of old photos and memorabilia hung on the walls, almost like a Hard Rock Cafe.  You’re brought to the back room where all the other tourists are being served.  You see camera flashes everywhere as people take pictures of their food, of themselves, of themselves with the food, and of you! – because they’re just that friendly.  Clearly not from New York.  You finally sit down and order.  You pick their original tomato base at $20.50 (large) and toppings at $3 each.  You sit and mentally prepare yourself for mediocre pizza.  You can’t be disappointed if your expectations are low, right? Continue reading A Tourist Trap Isn’t Always A Trap … Lombardi’s Pizza

Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With String …

These are a few of my favorite things!  Valentine’s surprise from my favorite person included some of my very favorite foods.  You’ll start to notice that I particularly love starch-wrapped things.  Dumplings, hot dogs, sandwichs, lobster rolls, all kinds of buns, burritos, tacos, burgers etc. – I love ’em all!

 

‘Twas a hodgepodge dinner of…

 

Baohaus: Birdhaus Bun
238 E 14th St
(between 2nd Ave & 3rd Ave)
New York, NY 10003
  

Baohaus is a tiny restaurant that boasts a lot of swag.  There are usually 3 people working, the bao-man (man who makes the actual bun), the stuffer, and the cashier.  They play a lot of old school hip hop music and have swagalicious bao-art up on the walls.  Check out my older post about the place for more info.  Of all the baos, this one is my fav.  Fried chicken with spicy seasoning, salt, cilantro, crushed peanuts, and taiwanese red sugar.  Taro fries on the right are also deeeeelicious, if you truly love taro that is.  If you’ve only had taro bubble tea, you don’t know what taro actually tastes like.  I suggest you get your butt over to Baohaus and check out these fries.  They are starchier than the average potato, maybe more like a yucca, and have a distinctly sweeter flavor.  The fries are served up with a side of “Haus sauce,” which is a garlicy peanuty sauce.

 

Luke’s Lobster
93 E 7th St
(between 1st Ave & Avenue A)
New York, NY 10009

Luke’s Lobster is a tiny shack in the East Village (also in many other locations) that serves up some fresh Maine lobster rolls with trendy sodas like Ginger Root and Sarsaparilla.  The owner was a savvy investment banker who left the industry to pursue his true passion: lobster.  His father provides all the lobster, already cooked, from the family seafood processing company in Maine. Continue reading Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With String …

BLT Prime: Valentine’s Cooking Class

BLT Prime
111 E 22nd St
New York, NY 10022

  

I went to a “Valentine’s” Cooking Class at BLT Prime where Chef Andrew Matthews sort-of taught us how to make a proper 3-course meal consisting of:

Appetizer: Fluke Carpaccio
Entree: Chateaubriand
Side Dishes: Creamy Spinach, Marble Heirloom Potatoes
Dessert: Red Velvet Cake

  

The class ended up being a demonstration with no hands-on interaction.  This was probably a good move on the restaurant’s part because I’m not sure any of us would be back if we had to eat what we cooked… every dish was more complicated than I thought it would be!  It was amazing to see the kitchen and to learn about how a real restaurant kitchen functions.  You have to be super organized and work as a team or else the kitchen will most likely turn into a nasty food fight!  Actually, apparently kitchens end up looking like the aftermath of a food fight even after a successful night in the kitchen.

 

FLUKE CARPACCIO – slightly chaotic but tasty nonetheless (2/5)

  

The fluke was filled and sprinkled with all kinds of yummy ingredients, such as pomelo, dill pickles, celery heart stalks, apple gelee, paprika, chives, olive oil, lime juice and zest, AND secret basil oil sauce… they also added some house-made rice paper to give the dish a little crunch.  There was all kinds of flavors and textures in this dish, some I think a little unnecessary… it was sweet and sour and salty and oily and crispy and stringy (fish :().

 

CHATEAUBRIAND – Liberal Salt (Ch 4/5)

The preparation for the Chateaubriand (a thick cut of tenderloin) seemed very simple though probably takes a lot of skill to do right.  Chef Matthews demonstrated the tying of the piece of tenderloin to allow the whole piece of steak to cook evenly.  The steak is then seasoned very liberally with salt and pepper and seared for 4-5 minutes.  Then the seared steak is placed in a FULL dish of salt and roasted for 8 minutes on each side.  The steak turned out very moist, tender, and flavorful.  For some reason, the steak wasn’t as “meaty” tasting as Peter Luger’s Porterhouse steak.  That may be due to the cut of meat…?

  

The steak is then served with a classic Bearnaise sauce, which is made with 20 egg yolks, 1 cup of bearnaise reduction (of shallots, white wine vinegar, white wine, black pepper, and tarragon leaves), 1 qt. warm clarified butter, 1 cup warm water, and salt.

 

SIDES – BEST part of meal (S 5/5, P 5/5)

  
These sides were crazily delicious.   Continue reading BLT Prime: Valentine’s Cooking Class

Bouchon Bakery: Lemon Tart and more

Bouchon Bakery
10 Columbus Cir, 3rd Floor
(between W Central Park & Broadway)
New York, NY 10019

 

Bouchon apparently means “stopper” in French.  Not quite what I was expecting out of such a pretty word.  Bouchon?  Bouchon.  I could say it all day.  Boooo-shaaaungg.  Beautiful, just beautiful.

 

This lemon tart was equally beautiful.  The crust was not too sweet and was crumbly, which is only ever good when it is a crust (crumbly cookies?  No, thank you.).  The gooey lemon center was probably more tart than expected but only because I always tend to prepare myself for the worst: overly sweet pastries.  Why would you get a lemon tart if you wanted something super sweet?  Bouchon understands me.  The tart was very lemony, creamy, and had a nice sharp zest to it.  The top was covered with a  fluffy marshmallow meringue.   Continue reading Bouchon Bakery: Lemon Tart and more

Taiwanese Club Sandwich

I randomly decided to buy pork floss from HK Supermarket the other day because it is possibly one of the greatest comfort foods.  I grew up eating this and always felt that we, the pork floss and I, had a very special relationship.  It was a little weird like I was*, kind of funny looking**, and often misunderstood***.  It was also always looking out for me.  Anytime a bland food would force itself upon me, Pork Floss would always be on the rescue to make life a little sweeter, saltier, and tastier.

 

Anyway, with Pork Floss readily available in my kitchen cupboard, I decided to make a Taiwanese Club Sandwich for brunch.  This is a type of sandwich that you can find in every bakery in China or Chinatown.  Like the banh mi from my last post, this is a East-meets-West fusion kind of sandwich.

Continue reading Taiwanese Club Sandwich