Following suit of hit shows like Hell’s Kitchen and Top Chef, NBC debut its own incarnation tonight (March 11th) called The Chopping Block. Those of you whom have been sitting in a depression induced comatose since the season finale of Top Chef are saved.
Hosted by Chef Marco Pierre White (who is as well known in Britain as his former protégé, Gordon Ramsay) the show offers a refreshing new format. The two teams of 16 contestants are made up of pairs — married couples, siblings, mothers and daughters — and they all have hard-luck stories and financial hurdles that lend a virtuous streak to their quests to open restaurants in New York. Kind of invokes that movie cliché’ of the Midwestern girl who packs it all up and moves to the big city in search of her dreams! Wait, no maybe, it definitely does. Where I typically expect white uniform donned snarling chefs, I find that NBC’s franchise lends itself to a more “The Biggest Loser” persona - with constant flashbacks and over the top montages of tears and triumph. Sigh. As corny as it sounds, it all actually works together in a batch of warm gooey reality TV goodness.
From the outside, Jollibee resembles some sort of toy store from outer space, but despite its strange insect-like mascot and initial sense of unfamiliarity, the newest eatery in Queens’ Woodside neighborhood isn’t as exotic as one might imagine. In fact, Jollibee is sort of the Philippines’ answer to the Golden Arches. The New York Times Matt Gross explains that Jollibee is “a fast-food chain from the sprawling archipelago, with 600-plus outlets there, across Asia, and our own west coast.”
Remember the scene in Super Troopers where they’re eating at the diner and two of the blundering cops have a race to see who can glug down a bottle of maple syrup faster? If that movie had been filmed in 2009 rather than in 2001, it’s entirely likely that the diner wouldn’t have let them go through an entire bottle of the viscous breakfast-enhancer so quickly.
That’s because after two poor harvests in a row, maple syrup prices are at an all time high. Oliver Schwarner-Albright of the New York Times points out that “Maple syrup has joined the luxury goods market. Local retail prices can be the equivalent of over $100 a gallon, more than extra virgin olive oil or even a decent Kentucky bourbon. Two poor seasons and increased global popularity have sent prices soaring as the 2009 harvest begins.”
April Bloomfield, the woman behind the Spotted Pig has decided to dive into the sea to bring you her newest restaurant, The John Dory, located on 10th Avenue near 15th Street. Named after a large, strange looking fish that sports a singular black spot on its side, if there’s one thing nobody can accuse the John Dory of, its subtlety.
The décor is markedly different from that of the typical formal, reserved, ‘New England’ look that many seafood restaurants seek to convey. New York Magazine’s Adam Platt writes that:
“The skinny Technicolor room is plastered with extravagantly kitschy seafood-shack memorabilia: giant mirrors encrusted with puka shells, laminated nautical charts, shimmering trophy-size fishes. Illuminated tiles run like racing stripes across the floor and ceiling, and the open kitchen is separated from the dining room by a clear plastic bar filled with schools of entombed fishing lures. Dated rock and roll anthems blare over the speaker system and a well-stocked wall-size aquarium casts the entire scene in an aquamarine glow.”
In the ever elusive battle against home cooking, ease and taste should exist hand in hand. As such, I offer a personal favorite recipe of my own that has also been highlighted on Chow.com. I offer my fellow hungry recession troopers a French take on an Italian classic - Fusilli with Parsley, Walnut and Black Olive Pesto. The name is self explanatory, but we will also be adding a bit of goat cheese to the aforementioned ingredients to make a quick version of a classic. For the health conscious I might recommend whole wheat fusilli for the added fiber (although be forewarned - it lends into a nutty undertone, so normal pasta might be your flavor of the day). And before you panic, this dish won’t take any more than 20 minutes to make.
Taking over the venue space previously allocated to Brasserie 52, enter Brazilian eatery Bossa Nova. The menu is nothing revolutionary, housing a fare amount of cultural staples. The home style-meals boast delicious delicacies with dishes like Bacalhau Bossa Nova (baked cod in white wine) and a mixed churrasco of beef, chicken, pork and sausage. For the more well versed aficionado, Nova serves up a personal favorite, Feijoada, rich and smoky, with cassava flour and collards greens on the side. Complimenting the eats is a full service bar that cranks out fresh exotic blends like caipirinhas (the national cocktail of Brazil – a delicious mix of cachaca and lime) and caipiroskas (vodka and lime with passion fruit extract).
Moim Restaurant in Park Slope has opened for lunch, serving chef Saeri Yoo Park’s modern Korean fare in a super serene setting. On the cheap eats menu expect to find Bul-Go-Ki ($10)-rice over sliced marinated sirloin steak with shiitake mushroom and mixed salad, Dak Kal-Guk-Su ($9)—Korean style fat flat noodles with chicken, julienne green squash and spinach, Don Ka-Sue ($10)—your choice of panko breaded pork chop or chicken breast with curry sauce, pickled radish, mixed salad with rice, and Kimchi Jji-Gae Kimchi Stew— braised pork belly with tofu and rice cakes served with rice ($9).
Following two recent legal fiascos, a $90,000 lawsuit for nonpayment and a 2.2 million dollar discrimination settlement, Tavern on the Green has just received its third proverbial strike. Just one month after the vendor London Meats filed a sizeable claim against the “elite restaurant” (the quotes support my sarcasm, but I needed an extra dose) another vendor, Hundredmark Party Help is demanding $38,822 with interest for undisclosed services in January. The fact that their reputation has the same approximate credibility of Chris Brown has led the city to begin accepting bid proposals for new Tavern owners and concepts.
Avid readers may recognize Michael Pollan as the author of bestselling food books like “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and, more recently, “In Defense of Food.” With his works, Pollan has been encouraging people to be more conscious about what they consume.
Now the tables have turned and Pollan is beseeching the masses to send him their snippets of food-related wisdom to him to post on his NY Times blog. As he writes on the website:
“I’d like your help gathering some rules for eating well. My premise is that culture has a lot to teach us about how to choose, prepare and eat food, and that this wisdom is worth collecting and preserving before it disappears.”
Price Range: Expensive
Lower East Side
217 Eldridge Street
(between Stanton and E. Houston Street)
New York, NY 10002
For brick oven pizza at its best, take the long trip downtown to Apizz, where fire power is always on the menu. The windowless exterior seems daunting at first, but once you’re in the front door, the place is inviting and warm, largely due to Apizz’s massive brick oven. The twelve-foot-long brick oven, in which all cooking is done on a poured-sandstone surface heated by flames, gives Apizz a smoky vibe all its own. The wood beamed ceiling, complete with skylights, further enhances the rustic atmosphere.