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Alan Divack's Profile

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Kefi downhill alert?

We went to Kefi last night, and were quite disappointed. We used to go fairly frequently and enjoyed the food and wine if not the noise, but we haven't been there that often since it reopened after its floor, and it seems to have gone downhill quite a bit. The Kefi salad was mostly shredded iceberg -- gone were the touches that had made it special, like fennel, roasted peppers and caper berries. My whole grilled dourade was quite good, but my wife was very disappointed in her lemon chicken (which I did not taste). Whereas it has been a chicken roasted with lemons, olive oil and herbs, it was almost boneless, and drowned in a sauce heavy with meat glaze, the kind of thing you could get in any inferior continental or mediterranean place. Also, all the fun greek wines were gone, the 7-page listed whittled down to a handful. What happened? has anyone else had a similar experience?

Sep 14, 2014
Alan Divack in Manhattan

Marani -- Kosher Georgian Restaurant in Rego Park

Just got back from this restaurant and had a wonderful dinner. The food was excellent , the service friendly, and the prices couldn't be beat. We were a large group and didn't drink much, but had almost everything on the menu in multiples and it came out to about $35 per person, which is pretty unheard of for a fleishig restaurant. Almost all of the appetizers were outstanding -- the selections of phkali, the pureed salads of beet greens, beets, spinach green beans, etc with walnut dressings; the adzhanapali, a sort of herbal Caucasian ratatouille; the red beans with walnuts; the pickle platters (I especially loved the whole pickled cherry tomatoes which bursted in your mouth); a funky dish of pickled caper plants, pickled garlic and pepperoncini; and the chicken satsivi, which was more liquid than I expected, and in an unusually spiced walnut sauce that I wanted to bathe in. We had a bean pie and a meat pie and much preferred the bean pie -- the filling was tastier and the crust superior. I found the filling of the meat pie to be less interesting and the crust heavier and greasier. The main dishes that I tasted included some excellent chicken kebabs, and outstanding chicken tabaka (pressed pan fried cornish hen with plenty of garlic, with crisp fries with plenty more garlic) and that lamb chakhapuli (?) in a wine broth strongly scented with tarragon. The only dish that really disappointed us was the khixali (?) the meat dumplings -- he skins were very thick and the filling similar to the meat pie. It didn't keep me from finishing mine, though I wouldn't necessarily order it again. However, I can't wait to go back for the rest of the food, and to try the few dishes that we missed. They have been open for about 3 months and were not that crowded. Go before it is discovered!

Jan 04, 2014
Alan Divack in Outer Boroughs

Sunday dinnner for a carnivore near Mount Vernon, Iowa

He decided on Cornell after a gap year in Israel. I hope that we have the chance to eat at Lincoln Cafe in the future.

May 04, 2010
Alan Divack in Great Plains

Sunday dinnner for a carnivore near Mount Vernon, Iowa

We ended up at Joseph's Steak House in Iowa city, the carnivore's choice, and he was very happy. Though the food was really good, what struck me most was the difference in atmosphere from a NY Steak house (or almost any other restaurant for that matter. . The tables must have been 10 feet apart, and were separated by screens. It was not very full, but I would imagine that even when it is full, there would not bee the same din that you have in NY restaurants. It was a relaxing dinner, almost like a mini-vacation. Thanks for the recommendation.

Apr 28, 2010
Alan Divack in Great Plains

Sunday dinnner for a carnivore near Mount Vernon, Iowa

I am visiting Cornell College in Mount Vernon Iowa this Sunday with my son, a devout carnivore, who will be turning 18 on Monday. I wanted to take him somewhere not too far (within 45 min -1 hour) from Mt Vernon on Sunday evening. Lincoln Cafe seems to be the best local place, but it is closed on Sundays. Any suggestions?

Apr 23, 2010
Alan Divack in Great Plains

Sunday night dinner in New Orleans with a teen

I will be down in New Orleans in a few weeks with my son to visit Loyola University. He is a meat and potatoes guy at heart, but has become increasingly adventuresome as he has gotten older. We will be staying over on a Sunday night, when many of the eateries seem to be closed. Can anyone recommend a teen-friendly place to go on a Sunday evening?

Mar 09, 2010
Alan Divack in New Orleans

favourite pistachio recipes- sweet or savoury?

The pistachio shortbread on this site, in the Chowhound recipes , is amazing and easy. It is even more popular with the squares partially dipped in melted dark chocolate. The recipe uses butter, but is more than acceptable made with pareve margerine if you are kosher and want to make it with a meat meal. (I find it brings out the nut, as oppposed to the butter flavor this way.)

Dec 21, 2008
Alan Divack in Home Cooking

Challah along I-90 btw O'hare and Beloit

We are visiting our daughter in Beloit Wisconsin next weekend and are going to make Friday night dinner for her and her friends. Does anyone know of a bakery along Interstate 90 (easy on, easy off) that has excellent challah that we could pick up on the way up? I am sure the pickings will be nonexistent in Beloit itself.

Many thanks!

Sep 14, 2008
Alan Divack in Chicago Area

China de Puebla - Terrific New Restaurant UUWS

We went there o n Sunday night with a group of 6 and it was quite good. The service was friendly and well paced, and the food was for the most part delicious (and my daughter had the chile relleno, which was excellent). I wonder if they were understaffed for Peter's lunch? My only complaint was that their fish selection was very slamon heavy -- it would have been nice to have other options. Anyway, we all agreed that we would go back, happily.


Dec 26, 2007
Alan Divack in Manhattan

guacomole + pastrami

Another combo from heaven is pastrami with muharrma, which is a syrian red pepper, walnut and garlic spread. The spices and fats are perfectly complementary. I actually had it first at a Hanukah party with (smuggled in ) Montreal smoked meat. the meat was a bit worse for wear at this point, having been brought down by the Canadian wing of the family and having sat for long hours in both car and buffet. The Watertown MAss cousins brought some muharrama from an arab or armenian grocery, and voila, the meat was revivied. I later tried it with pastrami in good condition and it was even better.

Jun 28, 2007
Alan Divack in Los Angeles Area

Textured or Texturized Protein???

It actually makes a creditable ground meat substitute. To prepare, I toast it in a non stick skillet with a little oil, and then add boiling water and a couple of vegetarian "beef" bullion cubes. (I use Telma.) Then use it is a dish like chili, meat sauce for spaghetti, and keema. IT is actually quite a good sub.

Dec 25, 2006
Alan Divack in General Topics

Latkes: Box-grater vs food processor

There was a great recipe in Reform Judaism magazine a few years ago (problematic movement, excellent magazine....). It used a processer, and you processed half the potatoes to a coarse puree with the grinding disk, and the other half you shredded with the shredding disk, and they were the best latkes I have ever had.

Dec 08, 2006
Alan Divack in Home Cooking

The best okra in the world at Deva's in Delhi

I had the best okra that I have ever had at Deva's, a restaurant in the H block of Connaught Place in New Delhi.

The okra (called bindi/ladyfingers here) is shredded lengthwide, fried until crisp, and tossed with chat masala and raw onions and tomatoes. It looks like a tangle of crisp green hay, and the texture and taste are beyond description.

The other dishes that I had were not bad either, esp. the small tender eggplants in a coconut and peanut gravy. However, it was the okra that comanded attention, and that is worth a trip from almost anywhere.

Fresh beet recipes?

Bake them or microwave them (be careful not to overcook).

Try this Lebanese style salad:

Let them cool, dice them, and dress them with olive oil, lemon juice, a bit of pomegranate molasses (essential and very complementary to the beets). Toss with lots of chopped flat leaf parsely and chopped red onion. It should be very green. Add plenty of salt and a good pinch of urfa or aleppo pepper. Finish it off with some dried spearmint (not fresh, not peppermint) forces through a sieve.

My wife hates beets, but his converted her. It is also good with soem lightly toasted walnuts and feta tossed in.

Sep 27, 2006
Alan Divack in Home Cooking

Chary of chard

Korean-ish style: shred and and boil the chard -- put the stems in, cook about 3 miinutes, then the leaves for 5 minutes more. Drain, refresh in cold water, and squeeze dry. Mix sesame oil, white sugar, salt and cayenne or korean red pepper in a serving bowl. Add chard and stir well.

Sep 19, 2006
Alan Divack in Home Cooking


a few ideas:

I second the idea of a plum cake -- Marian Burros published a great recipe in the NY Times almost yearly for years in the 1990s-- I am sure it is available on the web if you search. We eat this on Rosh Hashana and often break the fast with it on Yom Kippur. It appearance coinciding with the Jewish Holidays is one of the joys of the seasons.

Another idea -- hungarian style dumplings. Great recipe in George Lang's The Cuisines of Hungary, encased in potato dough. They are even better the next day split, breaded and sauteed in butter. Lily Joss Reich includes other recipes in her Viennese pastry cookbook, based on pot cheese and wheat dough. You may not feel the need to eat for several days after consuming a few of these.

Finally, there is a Georgian dish for lam stewed with sour fruit called Chakhapuli I think. It is pretty simple -- you basically put lamb stew, slice fruit a lots of garlic and cilantro in a pot and stew it. This would probably be good with these plums too.

Sep 10, 2006
Alan Divack in Home Cooking

Chowhounding and nutrition [Moved from General Topics]

Channel your obsessions!

I lost about 60 pounds on weight watchers 3-4 years ago, and the emphasis on portion control and keeping track of what you eat is essential. When i started, a friend of mine (someone with a naugahyde palate) said, "The problem with weightwatchers is that you have to think about what you are eating all the time." My reaction was "Bingo!" i was already thinking about what I was eating all the time, and my guess is that most of the rest of you posting on these boards are doing it as well. i found that losing weight merely involved being obsessed with food in different ways. I am not recommending Weight Watchers per se, just using it as an example of one way of rechanneling your obsessions.

In terms of practical tips, much of what has already been posted gets to the core of changes that are needed, esp portion control, excercise, and keeping track of what you eat. A few things to add:

--You can eat whatever you want, just not as much as you want.
--The fifth bite is not necessarily any better than the first or second. Focus on enjoying those.
--Go out in groups and talk-- this works great in asian restaurants. Share a lot of dishes, taste a bit of them all, and talk alot. You will eat less.
--Eat your veggies; lots of veggies. I found that when steaming got tiresome, oven and panroasting (in a nonstick skillet) works great.
--Fitting into new clothing is a different kind of physical enjoyment than eating, but not necessarily a lesser one.

Aug 20, 2006
Alan Divack in Not About Food