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Seeking Personal Chef to Prepare South Indian Vegetarian Food in Montclair, NJ

I don't *think* this violates the terms of use, but apologies in advance if it does.... (I guess I'll find out if the post disappears!)

I'd like to hire a personal chef, ideally with a background in nutrition and with a great deal of experience cooking south Indian vegetarian food, to prepare meals following some pretty narrow parameters.

They must be:

- Predominantly south Indian vegetarian (though the client in question enjoys Italian food, hummus, and a few other things);
- Diabetic friendly; and
- Low fat or full of healthy fats.

Please contact me at michelleatscity@gmail.com to discuss additional details.

Dec 27, 2012
michelleats in New Jersey

[Connecticut] Northern Fairfield County / Southern Litchfield County-Area Butcher, Fishmonger, Produce Vendor and Other Good Eats? (New Milford, Sherman, New Fairfield, northern Danbury)

Thank you for your suggestions! Is it just me or do our cups runneth over when it comes to fish trucks? I've seen quite a few around.

I bet my husband is going to be very excited to try Lucia. Do they have a regional specialization?

[Connecticut] Northern Fairfield County / Southern Litchfield County-Area Butcher, Fishmonger, Produce Vendor and Other Good Eats? (New Milford, Sherman, New Fairfield, northern Danbury)

Hah, thanks, Pipenta. That's a moving description of the shortbread!

[Connecticut] Northern Fairfield County / Southern Litchfield County-Area Butcher, Fishmonger, Produce Vendor and Other Good Eats? (New Milford, Sherman, New Fairfield, northern Danbury)

Sue, I know exactly which stand you're talking about. They hardly ever seem to be open, at least not when I drive by.

More generally, thanks very much for all your (spot on) suggestions! I'm slowly going through your list and I've loved what I've tried so far (Fish Guy truck, Brewster Farmer's Market). You know this area well and I appreciate you sharing that knowledge.

Pretzel bread

Alan's Landbrot suggestion is a good one if you can make it to the West Village. They make a very good pretzel roll and large, half soft, half hard pretzels. I don't think they make pretzel bread.

Sep 13, 2012
michelleats in Manhattan

[Connecticut] Northern Fairfield County / Southern Litchfield County-Area Butcher, Fishmonger, Produce Vendor and Other Good Eats? (New Milford, Sherman, New Fairfield, northern Danbury)

You guys are wonderful. Thanks a bazillion.

Good restaurants close to Sherman?

You're a great resource, Sue! Thanks so much for the notes! (But seriously... cricket? :)

Fresh locally roasted coffee beans near the Village or Chelsea?

Thanks so much for your kind offer, Peter. I kind of want to go around comparing notes against your reports, first, since you really seem to know what you're talking about! I am a little worried I don't have a good nose for coffee, actually. I'm pretty good at picking out notes in wine, but those fig notes I was supposed to be tasting in the Blue Bottle coffee I tried... Complete blank.

Jul 23, 2012
michelleats in Manhattan

Yuba Restaurant – A New Generation of Chefs and Excellent Innovative Japanese in the East Village

Depends on whose eyes, but generally, I can agree with this. :)

Alkonost, thanks for some great reports and for sticking your neck out for a restaurant you like.

Jul 23, 2012
michelleats in Manhattan

Fresh locally roasted coffee beans near the Village or Chelsea?

Hey Peter, you actually recommended Blue Bottle to me on a different thread, but I can't find it doing a quick search and am too lazy to do a more extensive one. So... talk here?

Tried Blue Bottle yesterday, the siphon coffee at the bar in the back. It's an amazing process and this was the first time I'd tried it. The barista was wonderful. I'm surprised rocket launchers and laser beams aren't part of the process. It's so.... so.... space age? But paraphernalia aside, I didn't think the coffee was noticeably more wonderful than other high quality non-siphon coffee. Am I just a pedestrian coffee drinking who knows nothing about coffee? (Entirely possible... I have been known to drink leftover cold coffee from the day before, reheated, since I hate wasting stuff.) Or do you think siphon coffee is just one of many ways to get to a good product? Or do you think there are other spots in NYC that make siphon coffee better?

I'm going to go read your blog, too....

Jul 15, 2012
michelleats in Manhattan

[Connecticut] Northern Fairfield County / Southern Litchfield County-Area Butcher, Fishmonger, Produce Vendor and Other Good Eats? (New Milford, Sherman, New Fairfield, northern Danbury)

Does anyone know of a good butcher or fishmonger in the Sherman / New Fairfield area? If I have to, I'll drive to Danbury for a good butcher, but the closer to home the better, of course.

I'm also slowly making my way around the area trying new restaurants and trying to establish a good source for other basics: a good bakery for bread, a particularly good farm stand for produce, maybe a good pick-your-own kind of place, etc... So any suggestions you have along these lines would be much appreciated!

As far as restaurants go, we've liked The Cookhouse in New Milford (though someone mentioned to me that there was an even better place for barbecue in the vicinity, without naming the place); American Pie Company in Sherman; Pho Vietnam on Pandanaram Rd. in northern Danbury; and Frannie's Goodie Shop in New Fairfield for bread and cannoli.

Already on my list of places to try: The White Horse Tavern, Oliva, Community Table.

If anyone has suggestions for other places to try, I'd really welcome your thoughts. I'd be especially thrilled to hear about places for well made, authentic Mexican, Peruvian, Salvadoran, Brazilian, Chinese, Indian, Korean and Japanese.

Good restaurants close to Sherman?

Thanks a bunch! I need to get back to American Pie Company, esp. to try dinner. I know their breakfasts are locally (in)famous, but we enjoy eating that meal at home in our pajamas, with stinky morning breath.

I think APC and Arrivederci pretty much cover everything that's in Sherman, huh? I guess there is prepared food in the IGA if we get really desperate and don't feel like cooking.

The good news is that we've found some pretty good places near, if not actually in, Sherman. So far, we've loved Pho Vietnam (Danbury), The Cookhouse (New Milford; very good pulled pork and ribs, collard greens, fries), Brewster Pastry (Brewster, NY; great cannoli), that bakery in the New Fairfield Food Center complex... the Goodie Shop? (good breads, nice-looking pastries we haven't yet tried).

White Horse Tavern in New Milford looks interesting.

Sorry to hijack this Danbury thread, by the way. I should go start a Sherman-area thread.

Mexican flavors and frozen margaritas?

I understand! They can be completely enjoyable, but places that think of themselves as being more authentic may not want to admit to serving them.

Maybe you could go to Agave for a frozen margarita -- they have a good happy hour IIRC -- and then head to Empellon for dinner.

Jul 12, 2012
michelleats in Manhattan

Mexican flavors and frozen margaritas?

I think there's pretty good Mexican around these days -- but maybe not too many that also serve frozen margaritas.

Jul 12, 2012
michelleats in Manhattan

Mexican flavors and frozen margaritas?

I haven't been to Barrio Chino, but mostly, I'd avoid Diablo Royale. It's extremely loud and the food is bad.

Empellon, which is around the corner from Diablo, is very good for food, but I don't think I remember seeing frozen margaritas on the menu. They do have excellent cocktails (including regular margaritas) and great bartenders. Not entirely romantic, though. The lighting's conducive to romance, but the main dining room can be very loud, as well, depending on where you sit. It's possible the back room is less loud.

Agave, also in the WV, has frozen margaritas -- good ones -- but so-so southwestern food. It's romantic-ish.

And Ofrenda across 7th Ave. from Agave has good Mexican / Mexican-inspired food made with great ingredients and fairly good cocktails. I think they do offer frozen margaritas, but I can't speak for the quality, since I've never tried them. The smoky jalapeno margarita is very good. The restaurant is low key and in my opinion romantic, especially if you are seated at one of the tables against the wall. (These tables are a little more private.)

Jul 12, 2012
michelleats in Manhattan

Best North Indian I know....in Danbury CT

That's a shame. Danbury seems to have a lot more Brazilian restaurants than Manhattan -- certainly more per capita. There must be something good kicking around.

Mexican flavors and frozen margaritas?

It sounds to me like you'd like Rosa Mexicana.

Jul 12, 2012
michelleats in Manhattan

German food - Manhattan?

I hate to plug a place as incessantly as I do Landbrot, but if you are looking for lighter, cafe-style fare or bakery products, that is the place to find it. Pretzel rolls, apple strudel, sandwiches are all very good. There's a happy hour special where you get a ginormous mug of obscure, delicious, microbrewed German beer and a traditional soft pretzel (with crispy parts) for $9. There's casual indoor and outdoor seating with table service, but it's not a formal restaurant.

Jul 09, 2012
michelleats in Manhattan

Crab Soup at El Tina Fish Market Corporation, Inwood

Thanks so much for the downlow on this place, wewwew. I've walked by a few times, never tried it. Very helpful report!

Was the soup by any chance made with fresh crab? How fresh was the fried fish?

Jul 09, 2012
michelleats in Manhattan

Best North Indian I know....in Danbury CT

ah, i completely empathize. nowadays, it takes me months and months longer to get to places i want to try than it did, before, and i only have one (human) hungry kid whom, I'm told, is still relatively undemanding. i'm a little afraid to think about what it'll be like when he's older.

if you do go -- there or anywhere else -- will you please try to write up some sort of blurb on this board? for very selfish reasons, i wish there were better coverage of new fairfield county in general on here. it's exciting to discover new places on my own, but there is still nothing like the vicarious thrill of someone else's good meal if i can't get to a place right away, myself.

Best North Indian I know....in Danbury CT

>>No excuse for the rancid puri. Sorry about that.

Geez, you didn't make it (I don't think). Don't apologize.

>>would you consider that maybe you might have missed the extent of their luscious wonderfulness? It may be a set/setting thing; when cheap food is served on styrofoam plates in a VERY barebones place like this, we're not accustomed to swooning and shouting "bravo" (or whatever the Urdu version is)!

Actually, it occurs to me that I went in with maybe unreasonably high expectations since I'd read your review in advance. If I'd just stumbled into this place, not expecting anything, I might've written a breathless review, too. It's entirely possible that it's the best Indian food in the area. I don't know. I've only tried one other restaurant (Mysore: fair, nice owners, NOT south Indian despite the name) and a few prepared products from Indian Food and Spice so far.

Some of the best chaat is from pretty humble streetside stalls so I'm not sure pani puri is always an effete dish. I guess it's the kind of chaat you're most likely to see at a wedding or at a hotel restaurant, though.

In any case, I'll be giving this place lots of tries, don't worry. I do like it and I liked the guy who was at the counter the night we went. Also, I'm kind of moved by your spirited defense of the place. It's a primal instinct to protect a good food supply, I think. :) So I'll help you keep it open. Deal?

Not to take us too far off subject, but have you tried that bakery in the same complex? (It looked good! They have the Brazilian version of tamales...) And can you explain to me why and how Danbury is blessed with such a phenomenal, diverse food culture? It's really like a mini Queens and I have to wonder how people from so many different parts of the world came to be there. Lovely as it is, I'm not sure Danbury is the first place I would point to on a map of the USA and decide to live if I were an immigrant to the country.

[Danbury, CT] Empire of the Incas

Aji sauce is that spicy green sauce.

Please don't skip the ceviche based on my description, though -- if you like seafood! EotI makes a good version and it's a delicious, delicious dish (if you like seafood). The lime-based, acidic leche de tigre cooks the seafood, killing bacteria and the like. It's safe to eat and especially fabulous in the summer heat.

Best North Indian I know....in Danbury CT

Please find photos to accompany the review here: http://www.girleatscity.com/2012/07/k...

Danbury, it seems, is a land of strip malls. This is not an aspersion. I love strip malls. Every time I visit my in-laws in New Jersey, I experience paroxysms of delight at the sight of a Ski Barn, Baby Depot, Pet Smart, Office Depot, A&P, liquor store and dollar store, all within steps of one another. Such efficiency! Such unparalleled convenience! And in Danbury's strip malls... such deliciousness, too!

I've already raved to many people about one such strip mall find, Pho Vietnam, which we stumbled upon after a long, arduous hike in Bear Mountain Reservation and have been back to about twenty times already in the space of a few months. On a recent evening, after several equally arduous hours at the DMV, we followed a Chowhound lead to another strip mall restaurant, Kebab Grill. It's located in the White Street Plaza, in the same complex as a nice-looking Brazilian Bakery (Pão Gostoso Bakery and Pastries), a travel agency and some sort of check cashing business.

At a place called "Kebab Grill", it seems unwise not to order the eponymous item though there are only a few kebabs listed on the takeout menu: chicken sheesh kebabs, lamb kebabs, chapli kebabs and shami kebabs. (The latter two are listed under the sandwich section, served as "burgers".) The night we went, the restaurant was out of lamb kebabs, so we opted for the chicken sheesh kebabs, instead. These were excellent, with nicely spiced, moist meat that was neither overly firm nor overly loose. The seasonings leaned sweet and included cloves and allspice, I think. We were hungry and I unfortunately devoured mine before I could really analyze the spicing very closely.

The garlic naan was also very good and came to us freshly made, with crispy edges pleasantly charred in parts, a light sheen of oil and the alluring fragrance of freshly toasted garlic.

It might be unfair to ask a place that specializes in kebabs to also make chaats well, but I was in the mood, so maybe against my better judgment, I ordered the samosa chaat and pani puri.

Chaats are a bit of an art form. At their best, most are about the harmonious coexistence of crisp, crunchy and soft elements, of sweet, salty, sour and bitter elements, all of which have a great big Bollywood danceoff in your mouth. They're a great analogy for India, really. They're also meant to be eaten immediately after they are mixed. We ordered ours for takeout since the Little One and Medium-sized One were both in the car. But we did tear into the chaats as soon as we got them, within minutes after they came out of the kitchen.

The pani puri came with slightly rancid, stale puri. Probably most restaurants in the U.S., even places that specialize in chaats, buy pre-made puris since they're a bit of a pain in the ars to make. But a good chaat wallah (or a mummy who loves you... but not enough to make you fresh puri ;) will toast pre-made packaged ones to restore them to crispness before serving if they're stale. Serving stale puri is a little like serving rubbery nori at a sushi restaurant. A good place won't do it. Also, Kebab Grill's pani (tamarind water), made with a nice balance of sweet and sour, was unfortunately far too salty. To achieve the right balance of filling -- in this case potatoes and chickpeas -- and pani, you couldn't use enough liquid to achieve that wonderful explosion in your mouth that epitomizes this chaat. As a matter of personal preference, I also missed the nice, bright, vegetal note that fresh coriander leaves add, either as a garnish, as an ingredient in the pani, or as part of a green chutney that many versions have. This is a stylistic variation, though, and I'm sure there are some people who like this kind of preparation better.

The samosa chaat (pictured at the top of this post) was better, though it was overly moist, without much of a showing from the headline ingredient, samosa. Perhaps we caught them on an off night when they were running low, but we detected only a few crumbs of at the bottom of the (very generously filled) takeout container. Instead of cut-up pieces of samosas, there were cubes of potato in a large pool of well made kala channa (black chickpea curry), diced onion and tomato, green chutney and thinned yogurt. I missed the sev often used to garnish this dish: it could really have used the crunch.

Chaats are specialty items, though, and despite their evident lack of strength on that front (based on two chaats ordered on one night; obviously, it's a limited sample), Kebab Grill seems to do a good job with other dishes. An order of aloo gobi muttar was a good balance of tender, well cooked potato, cauliflower, tomato and peas, sweet with caramelized onions. It was quite a lot more oily than most homemade versions, but deliciously so.

All in all, this was a nice meal. I probably won't try the chaats again, personally, since we can pretty easily cobble together better versions at home. But those kebabs almost made spending hours at the Danbury DMV worth it. Almost.

Best North Indian I know....in Danbury CT

That's fair enough. I've only had one meal at Kebab Grill and that's obviously not a very large sample, but perhaps it adds to my credibility a little bit if I tell you I'm a card-carrying PIO and I've traveled / eaten pretty extensively around a lot of India (and some key parts of NJ). But few of my relatives are north Indian, so perhaps you do know more about north-Indian / Pakistani / Bangladeshi fare. Anyway, I'll post my review as a reply to your original post and you can read and judge.

Yopparai ( 夜波来), sake bar on LES

I like that you eat like a Hobbit. There's always room for Second Dinner in my belly, too.

I haven't been in about a year, but I am pretty sure there are daiginjos at Sakagura for around $20, as well. In general, I don't think prices sound too much worse than Sakagura.

Really a nice writeup, Silverjay -- thanks!

Jul 03, 2012
michelleats in Manhattan

Best North Indian I know....in Danbury CT

how did you like it, hungrykids? i loved the kebabs (they only had chicken the night i went for some reason), which were beautifully spiced, juicy and every bit as good as jim said they'd be. the night we went, the aloo gobi mater was good, samosa chaat was so so and the aloo papri chaat was downright dreadful. i'm posting on the fly right now, but i'll try to write more detailed explanations than just a flat "good" or "bad" in the nearish future. overall, great find. i would definitely return for the kebabs in a heartbeat.

Pork Buns, Duck Buns, Other buns: which places do you like for Buns

The buns at Wong are worth seeking out. The buns are deep fried (with hardly any residual grease) and bursting at the seams with juicy, shredded duck meat. They are a beautiful thing.

Jun 29, 2012
michelleats in Manhattan

Working in Manhattan for a month

Well, you have hawker stalls which, I think back in the day, were also mobile, right? Food trucks are basically the same idea. There are some locations where trucks regularly congregate, too, like the Red Hook Ballfields (in Red Hook, Brooklyn on Sat Sun) and the Hester Street Fair (Lower East Side on Saturdays), which are pretty much the equivalent of hawker centers... though possibly less regulated / clean.

A few midtown east truck/cart ideas:

- Red Hook Lobster Pound truck's lobster or shrimp rolls ($16 or $8.50, respectively; location posted at twitter.com/lobstertruckny). Lobster rolls are something I associate with New England. I think they're pretty distinctly American. Not sure about shrimp rolls, but they're an enjoyable, less expensive alternative.

- Korilla Taco might be interesting to try once for Korean tacos, which are distinctly American. (They were made famous on the West Coast in LA before they came to NYC.) Locations here: http://korillabbq.com/truck-finder They're often in Midtown East.

- A cart called Okadaman just opened, selling okonomiyaki and tako yaki, but I don't know if it's any better than what you have in Singapore.

- Chicken and rice plates are kind of a NYC street food standard. (I personally don't think they're all that special, but many people adore them.) The most famous cart is probably the one at 53rd Street and 6th Ave. -- on the southeast corner during the day and southwest corner in the evening. It's just called the "53rd & 6th Halal Cart". It's worth a lunch there just so you know what people are talking about. At lunchtime, lines are shorter, sometimes non-existent. In the evening, lines can be very, very long.

In other parts of town, your friend could try:

- El Idolo for Mexican-style tamales (which have been compared to zongzi)

- Sobre Ruedas for tacos (tongue tacos are particularly good

)

- Calexico for San Francisco Mission-style burritos

If you're chasing down a truck in another part of town, though, you might as well find a brick and mortar establishment for the same food with probably better hours for your friend.

Really, I hope someone with real knowledge of that neighborhood (UES / Midtown East) will join the discussion.... That is probably the part of Manhattan I am least familiar with.

By the way, have you come across Yelp.com? I love Chowhound, but the reviews on here are often of trendier, higher end, better known places. It's sometimes hard to sort through the really junky reviews on Yelp, but if you do, you can often find great coverage of lesser known, but delicious, establishments.

Jun 29, 2012
michelleats in Manhattan

INTI Peruvian Food 820 10th Avenue Between 54th & 55th

Peruvian rice -- the garlicky white rice -- is incredibly delicious when it's well made. Try to make room for it next time!

>>I wrote the name of the soup down on the newspaper I was reading, though could not locate the page or section when referring to it.

Oh, I do that all the time. Usually if I write it on my hand I don't misplace it.

Jonkyo, I'll try to pop into Inti next time I'm in that area. Thanks for the heads up. There area few shilly reviews on Yelp, but not an overabundance. (Point in their favor.)

Jun 29, 2012
michelleats in Manhattan

INTI Peruvian Food 820 10th Avenue Between 54th & 55th

Interesting. Sandoval's the guy behind Pampano, too, which I really like.

BTW Morocho truck doesn't seem that great so far. I've only tried one thing: beef heart anticuchos, which were so-so. I should try a few more things before judging, but so far, eh....

Jun 29, 2012
michelleats in Manhattan