Toss your preconceptions about jelly and jam out the window, and get ready to have your mind blown. I sure did when I tried White Grapefruit and Vanilla Bean Jelly from Slow Jams (tag line: "Jam for the People") at the second installment of the San Francisco Underground Farmer's Market. The jelly is a genre-defying cross between a bittersweet marmalade (but smooth with no rind chunks) and a sophisticated dessert topping (it's liberally flecked with vanilla bean, and smells like a cupcake). I ate it on bread with almond butter for dinner, but I could see it edging out membrillo on a fancy cheese plate.
Trader Joe's is a godsend for time-pressed people like me, providing a nice middle ground between slow food and drive-throughs. But though we all love that mandarin orange chicken, sometimes you'd like something a bit less artery clogging for dinner, and don't want to swing by another store to get the rest of the ingredients.
The Trader Joe's Companion: A Portable Cookbook is small enough to throw into your purse, yet full of good, quick, healthy dishes made solely from products sold at TJ's. One-stop shopping! That's something even I can handle.
This week's wallpaper comes from our pepper chart, a visual guide to chiles. Our photographer, Chris, shot his first pepper when he was 12, trying to copy the famous photograph by Edward Weston. But for these shots, he said he wanted them to look bright and saturated, so he shot them with a single hard light. This enabled him to clearly show the surface of each pepper, and keep it real, not romanticized.
It's kalguksu weather, and E Eto's go-to spot for these warming Korean noodle soups is Jang Tur in Flushing. There's no English menu, but most diners come for the handmade wheat noodles in chicken, seafood, and other variations, so the Korean-challenged can order by pointing. Turn up the heat, if you like, with killer house-made chile sauce.
Jang Tur, which is not far from another hound-recommended kalguksu specialist, Arirang, also serves these noodles with sticky rice balls in patjuk (red bean soup), HLing reports. It's thick and hearty, she says, and some people like to sweeten it with sugar. Cabbage kimchee and crisp, juicy pickled radish come on the side.
Out in Auburndale, Tang specializes in a very different Korean soup: sullongtang, the spare, milky broth brewed from long-cooked beef bones. kenito799 says it hits the spot, beefy and rich; season it at the table with salt, pepper, and scallions. Also recommended is yukgaejang, a delicious, meaty, moderately spicy stew of beef, tripe, and vegetables.
Tang is, or was, connected with the K-town sullongtang specialist Gam Mee Ok. Like Gam Mee Ok it's open 24 hours, a smart policy for a restaurant that serves superb late-night post-drinking fare. Unlike Gam Mee Ok it has a counter that makes pan-fried savory pancakes, jeon, to order (though not around the clock). Try hot peppers stuffed with minced pork, perilla leaf with minced pork, or battered, griddled oysters. "These dishes are amazing," kenito promises. "Perfect place for a nighttime snack and a bottle of soju."
As long as the soju's flowing, here's news from Han Shin Pocha, a cozy and authentic Korean pub known to hounds for charcoal-grilled clam feasts, among other things. The previously unmentioned must-try dish here, joonjoon insists, is grilled eel. Order it half marinated, half salt grilled; both variations kill.
Jang Tur [Flushing]
35-38 Union Street (between 35th Avenue and Northern Boulevard), Flushing, Queens
196-50 Northern Boulevard (at Francis Lewis Boulevard), Flushing, Queens
Han Shin Pocha [Flushing]
40-03 149th Place (near Roosevelt Avenue), Flushing, Queens
Northern Spy Food Co. has slipped in without attracting much Chowhound notice, but skordalia says its simple, subtle American cooking deserves much better. A recent pork terrine with pistachios and asparagus shows what this kitchen is about. "I could not imagine a more delicate, palate-stimulating pork preparation. It's light years away from the lard-drenched, bacon-studded, pork belly-napped dishes that slam you with fat and salt," says skordalia, who sums up the approach as "light but not too light, flavorful but not overpowering, and creative yet comforting at the same time."
Opened in November by alumni of San Francisco's A16, Northern Spy champions local, sustainable foods on its frequently changing menu and in a small grocery section. egit reports a winning chicken entrée and a surprisingly nice wheat-berry side. "I'm not sure why it doesn't get more attention," he says. "Maybe it's not flashy or terribly 'inventive' cuisine, but it's really solid."
iFat likens the place to Westville, "but with more of a country market vibe. Good low-key spot in the neighborhood with better food than the price point would suggest."
Northern Spy Food Co. [East Village]
511 E. 12th Street (between Avenues A and B), Manhattan
Discuss: Northern Spy Food Co.
This week's mission: a dough-encased slice with a cheese-tube crust. ... WATCH THE VIDEO
Before opening last spring, Saraghina got some pizza pointers from the hound-endorsed Luzzo's. The resulting Neapolitan-style pie aces Luzzo's thin, crisp crust and might just be Brooklyn's best, Daniel76 suggests (though fans of the temporarily shuttered Totonno in Coney Island "might have something to say about that,” he allows).
The minimal pizza menu includes marinara, margherita, prosciutto-mushroom, ortolana (zucchini and eggplant), and KateC.'s favorite, capocollo, topped with slices of cured pork shoulder. "A place to visit on any serious pizza eater's list," Daniel declares.
Or maybe any serious eater's list, period. Check out the daily-changing menu, which favors seasonal flavors and farmers' market produce. Recent winners have included sautéed broccoli rabe with sausage, wonderfully fresh smoked mozzarella with sautéed mushrooms, and artichoke and fennel in a splendid white wine sauce.
She describes "sublime" pizzas, among them the Nonna, a thin-crust square with fresh mozzarella, dark tomato sauce, and herbs; and the Sophia Loren, a sesame seed crust topped with fresh tomato sauce and garlic. SpankyTomato is among those erstwhile fans of Di Fara in Midwood who loved its famously acclaimed pizza but not the overall experience; "now with the wait and the cost, it's not worth it," she says. "Peter makes pizza like he was born doing it and will regale you with amazing stories of Brooklyn while he's slinging pies."
Tay finds Peter Pizza pretty good, though short of sublime. In the general area, she gives the edge to La Casa Bella in Bath Beach.
435 Halsey Street (at Lewis Avenue), Brooklyn
Peter Pizza [Bensonhurst]
2358 80th Street (at Stillwell Avenue), Brooklyn
La Casa Bella [Bath Beach]
2579 Cropsey Avenue (at 26th Avenue), Brooklyn
"The first bite is a blast of smoky heat with hints of ... garlicky essence. The reaction to the first bite was almost as enjoyable as the dish itself. The bite was followed by the diner sitting back, putting down the fork, smiling and then emitting a deep exhale." - Snarls on Aldea's shrimp Alhinho
"[O]ur waiter went into a 5 minute speech about how great their microroastedharvestednewfadwestcoast coffee was ijusthadtohaveit even though it was closing in on midnight. but i'm a sucker for coffee and this was good." - jon on Maialino
Winners: Good Eats, Anthony Bourdain, and Gina Neely. Losers: Semi-Homemade, Bobby Flay, and Giada De Laurentiis. The sardonic EPIE Awards hit the Web last week, and if you enjoy snarkcastically insightful commentary on the food television personalities who dominate the airwaves, you'll probably enjoy this feature. It's a product of Ann Arbor–area food blog Epic Portions and deserves praise for walking the razor-thin line between "sucking up" and "being an Internet tough guy."
Beernews.org reports on the results of an interesting food feud from last year, wherein the Hansen Beverage Company, makers of Monster Energy Drink, was contending that the tiny Rock Art Brewery in Vermont should not be able to call one of its beers "Vermonster." Hansen backed off after a massive public outcry, and the two companies reached an agreement (posted as a PDF download on the Rock Art website) which allowed Rock Art to keep using the name Vermonster.
The case may also become the basis for a broader investigation into the question of whether big businesses are abusing their trademark rights to intimidate small businesses:
"[Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy] introduced a bill this week that, among other things, will look into whether large companies are using trademark litigation inappropriately. The Senate unanimously passed the bill on Thursday night and it will now go to the House of Representatives," writes Beernews.org.
In his statement about the bill's provision to investigate abuses, Leahy says:
"I am concerned that large corporations are at times abusing the substantial rights Congress has granted them in their intellectual property to the detriment of small businesses. We saw a high-profile case like this in Vermont last year involving a spurious claim against Rock Art Brewery. When a corporation exaggerates the scope of its rights far beyond a reasonable interpretation in an attempt to bully a small business out of the market, that is wrong."
We can only assume Ben & Jerry's lawyers were in too much of a blissful food coma to consider suing Rock Art, as the ice cream maker also has a Vermonster on its menu, a massive bucket filled with "20 scoops of ice cream, hot fudge, banana, cookies, brownies, and all of your favorite toppings."