© Chloe Brownstein
Inside The Brooklyn Kitchen's new digs.
If Philadelphia’s Green Aisle Grocery is for food-loving, eco-conscious yuppies, the new Brooklyn Kitchen is for food-loving pioneer wannabes. Sure, it sells groceries like locally sourced meat that's cut and sometimes cured by rock-star butcher Tom Mylan. But with two classrooms in this huge warehouse space, the philosophy clearly is, why buy what you can make? Last week I took a kombucha class (more details to follow tomorrow). There are beer-brewing classes too, as well as support groups for home brewers (that's how hot home-brewing is right now). Mylan and his meat-cutting cohorts teach classes in butchering as well as sausage-making. And with the shortage of Angostura bitters, you can take a class on how to make your own. The classes aren’t only a great source of revenue, they’re a brilliant way to get people to the new digs, on a rather desolate stretch under the BQE (Brooklyn-Queeens Expressway). And like a theme park ride that spins you out right into the gift shop, Brooklyn Kitchen conveniently sells all the supplies a just-trained DIY-er will need, like fresh hops for making beer.
© kate krader
A bad pic of an excellent black truffle beignet at Eleven Madison.
It’s been a good week for me and black truffles. First I got to attend the three-course AC/BT (Andrew Carmellini/Black Truffle) dinner
at NYC's Locanda Verde
. There Carmellini (an F&W Best New Chef 2000
) added truffles to everything from oxtail minestrone to scallops to an ice cream sundae. I even scored an AC/BT "Back in Black" T-shirt that I wore to the gym the next morning, like I used to do in high school the day after a concert. And then last night, I hit the jackpot at Manhattan’s outstanding Eleven Madison Park
. There, Daniel Humm
(an F&W Best New Chef 2005
) is perfecting something he calls a black truffle beignet. It comes to the table in a rice-filled glass, looking for all the world like a solid, thousand-dollar black truffle. In fact, it’s made with pureed chickpeas and enough truffles to make it pitch black. He got the idea at, get this , a falafel stand in Montclair, New Jersey. The beignet is absolutely fantastic; the only thing that can possibly top it would be to find an actual black truffle on my plate at my next meal.
Because I’m so inspired by the Eat This, Not That series, and because I’ve recently found myself in frustrating situations at restaurants that made me feel that, really, I should have gone to that other place on the next block, I’ve decided to start an infrequent series. And I would welcome similar stories from anyone who reads this blog.
Coming soon on Eat Here, Not There: NYC's Lupa vs. Bar Henry.
Last night, the ever-excellent Stranger Than Fiction film series at New York City’s IFC Center screened The Biggest Chinese Restaurant in the World. As the title suggests, the subject was the Guinness World Records–certified West Lake Restaurant, a sprawling 5,000-seat restaurant in China's Hunan province. While the documentary captured the dizzying scale of West Lake—five kitchens, 300 chefs, 1,000 staffers serving 700 chickens, 1,200 ducks, 2,500 pounds of pork and 2,200 pounds of chiles per week—the film, as its editor Jean Tsien said, was really “about democracy in China.” Tsien noted that West Lake's lavish banquets, weddings and celebrations, featuring scores of elaborately prepared dishes, were unimaginable just a generation ago. Even the simple joy of dining out was impossible, since people were rationing cooking oil. Director Weijun Chen's internationally acclaimed, award-winning 2007 documentary Please Vote For Me covered similar territory, albeit inside a primary school in central China. While Ang Lee’s masterwork Eat Drink Man Woman will remain my favorite food film, Biggest is a wonderful documentary, and very much worth watching.
© Alessandra Bulow
Shirako (Cod Milt) Sashimi
The morning after a recent menu tasting at Brooklyn, New York’s Zenkichi
restaurant, I woke up with a belly full of shirako
cod milt (a.k.a. cod sperm) and no regrets. Available only in winter months, shirako
is considered a delicacy in Japan and can be eaten raw or cooked.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t initially freaked out when a small bowl of glistening shirako
sashimi (pictured, left) was placed in front of me, but I resolved not to be so squeamish when I saw two brawny guys, both former college football players, dig in without hesitation. Topped with thinly sliced scallions and a drizzle of ponzu
sauce, the sashimi was slightly sweet and vaguely briny with a smooth custard-like texture that resembled brains.
Then the waiters brought out delicious, lacy clusters of a tempura combining creamy cod milt and crispy green chrysanthemum leaves, topped with a sprinkle of green-tea salt (pictured, below).
Now I’m thinking about going back to Zenkichi
for more shirako
before the season ends–and I might even bring a friend with me.
© Alessandra Bulow
Shirako (Cod Milt) Tempura