Mussels, one of my many faves (me cooking!)

26 10 2009

When I see myself on film, I kind of feel the way I do when I hear Frank Sinatra and Bono’s duet of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin:” embarrassed. Unlike white wine and mussels, some things just don’t belong together.

This summer my fabulous filmaking friend Johnny made a cooking video this summer. It was RIDONKULOUSLY fun. You can get a sense of that I think. But yeah, if you want my tips for making mussels. Check me out on da intanetz!

Let me know what you think!

Here’s the recipe:

1 tb. olive oil

1 tb. butter

1 lb. mussels, washed and scrubbed, open or broken ones removed

1 onion, chopped (any kind is OK, shallots work too)

1 bunch of green onions, chives or garlic chives

3 or 4 cloves of garlic, chopped fine

1 cup of your favorite white wine

a handful of parsley (chopped)

1/2 tb. or more red pepper flakes (optional)

2-3 slices of lemon or lime (optional)

Heat up some olive oil in a large pot and add onions and garlic when hot. When they begin to sweat and become transparent (about 3 min in a hot pot). Add green onions. About 1 minute later add the wine and allow it to reduce a bit. If using lemons add them now along with the red pepper flakes. A minute or two later add the mussels and parsley, put the lid on and let cook for 3 minutes. Take lid off and stir. If most of your mussels are open at this point they can just get another minute or so. Otherwise give them another three minutes with the lid on. Serve mussels in bowl with broth and good bread.


Persimmon- Beyond Korean Barbecue

27 07 2009

In this city with so many places to eat, there is so much mediocre & overrated food. In fact, one of the reasons I started this blog is so that I would have my very own place to rant about the silly “it” places that lemmings wait on line for their turn to walk off the cliff of overpriced grub and indifferent service. However, there’s much more to be said for positivity and it’s great to come across a fantastic place, like Persimmon, that is as of yet, relatively undiscovered. Although the website bills it as “Neo-Korean Cuisine” there is none of that mismatched fusion stuff going on that can be so off-putting (Gyu-Gaku).

An alluring soft light . . .

An alluring soft light . . .

This place has been in my hood for a while but the fact that they only did a prix fixe menu for $37 put me off. Once you factor in alcohol & any extras you’re looking at a pretty penny. And times is rough. Word is bond, I swear to God. However, I noticed that they had recently started serving food ala carte. They feature the standards: bibimbap, K-miso stew (dwenjang jjigae), soft tofu stew (sundubu jjigae) and the like, which are so often not done justice to! When most people think Korean food they think barbecue. Which is awesome! I ain’t mad at no Korean barbecue. It’s just that the everyday food is so well-balanced and different from other cuisines that it’s a real treat. PLUS this place has one of my fave K-dishes on the menu: although it’s worth mentioning that the menu is seasonal and changes bi-weekly. Samgyetang is eaten in really hot months and consists of an entire Cornish hen stuffed with glutinous rice, ginseng and something I’ve heard described variously as a Chinese date and a jujube (guess they’re more than just filling-ripping movie candy!). Also included will be lots of scallions, possibly some chestnuts and  maybe Ginko berries (which contrary to the stank they produce when pulverized on sidewalks are quite tasty). The broth is very plain and it comes with a bowl of salt which you then administer yourself. Usually what people do is take scoop the stuffing out of the bird, take the bird out, pull the meat off & then put the meat back in. Then mix it all together. The rice thickens the soup and it’s a tasty and herbal hodge podge. I sometimes like to leave the chicken in whole & eat a bit at a time. It’s served seething in a stone pot. It looks like this.

I taste good!

I taste good!

I once had a samgyetang in K-town that was so disappointing it was all I could do not to fling the hot chicken across the room. This one I had at Persimmon was the real deal. I’ll leave it at that. Other highlights were the “side dishes” or banchan- the little delicious side dishes you are served whenever you eat K-food. In Korea it’s free and Koreans really resent paying for them when abroad. However, the group I was with accepted the nominal $4 fee ($2 for refills), especially since the quality was so good. The standout was the pickled chamae. Chamae is a Korean mellon which to me tastes like something between a squash and a mellon and is just “a’ight” in my book.
I'm more delicious when I'm pickled!

I'm more delicious when I'm pickled!

However, pickled it really shines since it has just a touch of sweetness that mingles with vinegar for a sweet & sour yet fresh experience. Yum. I’d never had anything like it in Korea. The soft tofu seafood stew was different than in Korea- it was much milder than it’s red hot overseas cousin. It did not floor me but the tofu was definitely made in-house and it is a nice alternative for those that do not do well with spicy food. The smaller dishes on the menu provide a good way to get to know K-cuisine without making huge commitments. The bosam: steamed pork belly which gets wrapped in blanched cabbage wasn’t too shabby, and the japchae- glass noodles stir fried with vegetables and meat were quite good! But the real highlight were the fried stuffed zucchini blossoms which were divine. The waitress explained that they were stuffed with a mixture of scallops & ricotta cheese, I believe, but at this point I was two bekseju bottles in and would have believed her if she told me it was a mixture of angel farts and cotton candy.
Persimmon is tiny & has one large table where you dine communally so if being close strangers ain’t your favorite thing, perhaps it could get awkward. But have yourself some bekseju and you’ll be feeling no pain in no time! Or even makoli which I was surprised to find that they have AND is served in bowls the way it should be! A nice bonus is that your meal will conclude with a little cup of pink, slightly sweet omija tea which is made from, what else, omija berries. It’s a nice way to round out a meal.
If you or someone you is looking to go beyond Korean barbecue, check this place out!

BOTM of the Barrel

7 05 2009

I was initially going to ignore the NY Times article about the ROM wannabe club complete with their own acronym. But seeing as it’s been on the “most emailed” list online since it was published two days ago I figure I’ll acknowledge it. So, in a nutshell, these dudes have created a club called “Burger of the Month” (BOTM) and get together once a month to sample burgers around the city. Their system is almost the same as ROM’s in that each month a different member chooses the venue and if it sucks, that member takes some heat. I’d like to take this opportunity to point out how much better ROM is as an acronym (or BOM if things go as planned and we have an outdoor barbeque this month) to BOTM. In my book, it’s much cooler to be mistaken for a club that pays tribute to gypsies rather than a rear end or gay personal ad (not that there’s anything wrong with personal ads, gay or otherwise). I like that the BOTM boys (haa!) introduced a rating system, something we have not thought to do, but could be interesting. Props to the dudes for reasonably good taste! Back Forty is their #10 pick. I have shared my love hate relationship with this restaurant before, but they do make one of the few burgers that I find tasty (I just don’t go for burgers in general).

I'd like to point out that each "extra" such as cheese, bacon, and fries costs extra, which I find kinda lame. Just serve it "deluxe" people. Jeez.

Back Forty's Burger: I'd like to point out that each "extra" such as cheese, bacon, and fries costs extra, which is so bush league. Get some class & serve it "deluxe!"

There are photos associated with the article although it’s worth mentioning that the #4 burger on their list from Primehouse looks like a cross between a scab and a bloodclot.  Gore aside, kudos to these dudes for getting it together. As we we ROMers know, the task of getting busy people together once a month can be herculean at times. So I suppose I’ll hang my hater hat up for a moment in order to give these dudes a dash of love. Although reactionary wannabe badass quotes such as this one try my patience:

“Vegetables are to be eaten by rabbits and liberals,” wrote Mr. Weiss, a lawyer who lives on the Upper West Side, “and the only form they should take is the fourth ingredient in a condiment.”

“Crow is to be eaten by wolves and the conservatives who wrecked our economy,” writes Maya, a baller who lives in the East Village, “and the only form they should take is the nouveau poor fleeing the city in the wake of the financial crisis.” But I digress . . . hatery aside, it’s nice to come across articles such as this one. It’s just fact that ROM could kick these guys’ asses.

Cooking with Dog

26 03 2009
Cook with me!

Cook with me!

This post is coming straight out of computer hell as my computer is chock loaded with trojans and other lovelies. I think someone is breaking into my office at night to download porn. In fact, the word trojan is vaguely porn-y no? In any case . . . I’ve been lapsing in the posting but partly because of the realization that I need to get my digital camera up & running again so I took it to the shop. More fun stuff to come . . .

I’m a big fan of youtube for learning how to do stuff. Ever since I discovered Maangchi, which I mentioned in a previous post, I realized that youtube user generated content is a great way to learn things because you can seek out exactly what you want and find out how to do it. Also, since these videos tend to be amateur, there is little to no editing so you get to view the process from beginning to end. It’s funny because while I’ve never found cooking shows particularly helpful (although I still love ’em . . . BRING BACK JAPANESE IRON CHEF!), youtube cooking videos have changed my whole repertoire. You can watch them as many times as you need to and there’s nothing like running out of the kitchen with sauce all over you hands to replay a step you’re not quite sure about. That is if you can handle flour on your keyboard. If someone had told me I’d be making kimchi 6 months ago, I’d never have believed it but man, I’ve been churning it out! My Korean friends were floored because they weren’t sure ol’ round eye could pull it off, but I have more than one surprise up my sleeve when it comes to da kitchen. Check out Maangchi’s kimchi video here The kakdugi is slammin btw:

In a similar vein and as some of you may know, the East Village has been recently invaded with a slew of ramen restaurants. The real, honest to goodness stuff they eat in Japan. Many of them are delicious, but most of them can get crowded. We’ve decided that the best as far as quality of noodles is Ippudo on 4th avenue. But try getting a seat there man: Asians of all types come from far and wide for this junk. As a result of the crowding the service is bad, the food takes a long time, you’re awkwardly close to strangers and you risk having your orders confused (ours were when we went). So while the goods are good, the dining experience is subpar.  Check them out on Menupages here since their wesbite is fancy & takes a while to load. There has been a bit of explosion in Ramen Setagayas as they’ve opened branches in addition to the OG one on 2nd ave btw. 8th & 9th. There’s one on St. Mark’s and now one on University Place. Guess students like all types of Ramen, not just the ones called “Top.” We were excited about the opening of a ramen place on 14th & 1st ave (I thought it was called Kombu but can’t find anything online about it) nice and close to home. It’s good! However, it reminded us of our fave place Minca on 5th btw. A & B but with out any of it’s charm: the weird art, cute waitresses and yelly Japanese cooks. If you go to Minca get the spicy basic. Man, yumtown. Some people may be wondering why I have  not mentioned Momofuko. This is because I’m a hater. There are just way too many yuppies packed inside and with all the great restaurants in NYC I am always loathe to wait on lines. Waiting on lines is for tourists . . . and suckas.

Having said all of this, I’d like to share with you my latest discovery and inspiration for this post. In cruising youtube in search of underage girls, I mean cooking videos, I thought it’d be interesting to see one on making real-deal ramen. I got a little more than I bargained for in Cooking with Dog

Luckily the dog is not literally involved in the cooking process in any sense of the word, although I worry for him as he’s seated kind of close to the burner. The recipes are excellent, a touch on the complicated side since it’s real deal J-cooking and you’d really need to have access to a good Asian food store (M2M baby, they got it all! Although for this level of J-ness, Sunrise Mart may be in order) but it’s good stuff. And bizarre. I only wonder how they were able to travel back in time to the 70s to shoot those videos.

Angry Letters

2 02 2009

Many people have hobbies: some knit, others build models, even others stalk people via the internet. I write angry customer letters. I do it because I find it hilarious and sometimes you get free stuff. I think of this because recently a friend sent me and angry customer letter, as reprinted in the BBC, that was written to Virgin Airlines. It took the art to new interactive heights and even got a response from Sir Richard Branson himself. Have a look here. I feel like a ship-in-a-bottle builder must upon viewing an especially fantastic specimen.

I thought about my own journey in angry customer letters, remembering how I was inspired by a combination of the hilarious coffee table book my friend had at his house and a piece of plastic that turned up in a Sunshine brand breakfast bar (why I was eating it, I’ll never know). I tried to make my first angry letter as outrageous as possible claiming  “I shuddered when thinking how Sunshine had duped my sweet children with their plastic-filled treats.” I got a got a box sent to my house with every flavor they made. I was more psyched by the validation rather than the bars since they were kind of gross.

In our email age, I feel like the integrity of this art has somehow deteriorated. Anyone can bang out an angry email in a few seconds and companies are getting more correspondence; this also means that there isn’t a whole lot of pay-off. Still, the angry letter remains one of the many things I do to amuse myself. These days I keep them pretty honest but outraged since I find reality is often so ridiculous it really doesn’t need much embellishment.

How about u dont make sense

How about u dont make sense


26 01 2009

Curious about soy sauce? Where does it come from? How can it be used? If so, let Kikkoman “show you” in the helpful instructional video below.

I’m not sure what he has against white cats but the ladies sure seem to love him. It must be his bitchin’ panties.

Happy Friday!

23 01 2009

Panya’s gone. The economy’s in the crapper. Howzabout some happy animals? Don’t know how it took me so long to see this: