Friday, September 10, 2010

Next WFC Event: "Eating Locally, Thinking Globally"

You are invited to a monumental event I've been planning for the past couple of months. I'm very passionate about sustainable food (part of eating "weird food" is using all parts of the animal and minimizing waste) and have long wanted to do something educational on a bigger scale.

Collaborating with my alma mater we have brought to you "Eating Locally, Thinking Globally".

Enjoy an afternoon of locally-sourced food and wine while learning more about the movements for local and sustainable food.

Experience the delicious side of the food movement while hearing how New Yorkers are working to highlight local and sustainable food production, both here in New York and across the globe. We’ll draw on the expertise of including Ellen Gustafson, co-founder and director of FEED Projects and the 30 Project, who will provide insights about how our eating in New York can affect food systems internationally.

A certified sommelier will guide us through a tasting of 4 regional wines paired with creations from the chefs of Great Performances Catering, using seasonal ingredients from Katchkie Farm in Columbia County, NY. Great Performances’ CEO, Liz Neumark, will give us the story behind the food.

Event Name: Eating Locally Thinking Globally
Date: Sunday Sept 19 1-3pm
Location: Mae Mae Cafe, 68 Vandam Street, between Varick and Hudson Streets, New York, NY
The event is open to the general public.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Blood dishes fantastic and real

As I was watching the latest True Blood episode (S3:26) this Sunday I was impressed by the creativity behind the sumptuous vampire meal made out of human blood: carbonated blood wine willingly donated by a human that ate tangerines all week, blood bisque with rose petals, and blood gelato.

I'm no vampire, but a meal out of willingly donated human blood would definitely pique my interest, and I wouldn't be surprised to find a chef who has experimented with the idea, especially with this trend of making dishes out of human bodily fluids (see post on human milk) Next thing you know, we'll be seeing human shirako (a.k.a. cod milt a.k.a. fish sperm), the difference of course being that there would be no shortage of supply no matter the season.

Back to thinking about blood. There are plenty of dishes that can be made out of it. We've documented a couple on this blog that we tried at Congee Village (100 Allen Street): congealed duck blood and the various pig's blood porridges.

However, much more can be done with blood than we could ever imagine! Cate Newton of documents recipes for 6 unique dishes from around the world in her post: blood milk (Kenya, Tanzania), blood pudding (Western Europe, Korea), blood tofu (China), blood soup (Sweden, Poland, Vietnam) - this is beginning to sound a bit like the vampire blood bisque, blood pancakes (Finland), and blood bread (Finland). Those Finns sure love their blood...

Blood pudding (a.k.a. blood sausage/boudin noir/Blutwurst/Morcilla/Soondae) is actually one of my favorite dishes. You can have some at Casimir (103 Avenue B) and plenty other French restaurants in New York.

The most creative and palatable of the 6 recipes Cate listed is probably blood pancakes (Veriohukaiset). Finally, a Finnish dish that's NOT boring! Moreover, if you want to have it the real authentic way, this one requires reindeer blood, which makes it ever more exciting than pig or duck. That's what I call a proper and delicious cure for anemia! If you're ever low on iron, you know what to get.

Unfortunately, the few Finnish restaurants that exist in New York don't serve this incredible delicacy, but you can always make it yourself. You can procure blood at butcher shops, most likely in Chinatown somewhere, and blood labs.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Human breast milk worth trying again in your lifetime

Someone commented on my last post that jackfruit wasn't weird enough to write about on this blog, so I decided to step it up a bit: I tried human breast milk!

I've been meaning to try some ever since I read about 2(!) restaurants that served food made out of human breast milk: Storchen in Winterthur, Switzerland and Klee Brasserie in New York.

Storchen was banned from serving breast milk dishes in 2008, and Klee chef Daniel Angerer didn't even attempt to serve it to the public, he merely documented his attempts at making cheese on his blog.

In hopes of trying his amazing maple caramelized pumpkin encrusted "mommy's milk" cheese with texturized concord grapes, I emailed Angerer about a month ago to have a private tasting. Alas I did not receive a response. So I gave up on the idea until this weekend, when a friend of mine who recently had a baby offered a taste of her breast milk, which turned into a spontaneous tasting party.

Neither the other tasters nor I had any problem with tasting our friend's milk, and the parents were cool with it. The baby seemed fine with it too (she's already been fed and was happily sleeping beside us).

The milk tasted like 1% cow milk but a little sweeter. Interestingly, the consistency (i.e. fat content) of breast milk can vary depending on the length of time since last feeding. Unlike sheep's milk or horse milk, it was quite pleasant and mild. If you've ever tried baby formula, it tastes a lot like the real deal.

While I can't recommend a source of human breast milk in New York other than your own network of recent moms, I do want to mention that if you do try this out on your own, be aware that certain infections can be passed with breast milk.

If you know anyone with excess breast milk, (which tends to happen, unless you have twins, triplets or octuplets!) you can encourage them to:
1. experiment with making spectacular dishes out of it
2. donate it to a milk bank.

Yes, I agree that I've reached a new level of depravity, however the benefits are undeniable:
1. satisfying curiosity
2. supporting local and sustainable eating.

Something else to chew on: Since no animals were harmed, would PETA approve?

Answer: yes! In fact, in 2008 PETA sent a letter to Ben & Jerry urging them to use human breast milk. Unfortunately, B&J did not see this as a viable business opportunity, even though 17% of consumers (including me) voted that they'd like that. So... who wants to start a new ice cream company with me? ;-)

EDIT: a new ice cream parlor called "Baby Gaga" in London serves breast milk ice cream! If you've tried it, comment! Continue...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Man, I wish I was in China... try this bacteria dictyophore wu chicken soup.

Click on the image to see other funny Chinglish signs in Shanghai. Continue...

Monday, April 26, 2010

Jackfruit, Durian, Taro and Okra Chips

I've been searching for jackfruit products in NYC after trying it fresh in Thailand. Yesterday I stumbled upon Danielle Sweet Jackfruit Chips by New England Herbal Foods. I found these at a random deli in Williamsburg, but they're also available at Whole Foods.

Jackfruit is the largest fruit that grows on trees. The fruit is about the size of a watermelon and is covered in hard cone-like points. Some describe the smell of the unopened fruit as rotten onion, but not as strong as that of durian.

It is worth noting that jackfruit and durian look similar with their green hard pointy shells and people often confuse the two. Unlike durian (soft wet texture with sweaty sock/rotten onion smell), the flesh inside jackfruit has a much more appealing bubble-gum taste and rubbery texture.

Danielle Sweet Jackfruit Chips (9/10) have a mix of banana and pineapple flavor; they are crunchy, naturally sweet and totally addictive. Plus, you don't need to feel guilty eating them since Danielle's vacuum frying approach using no ingredients other than the fruit or vegetable and non-hydrogenated palm oil makes these healthier than most other chip snacks.

To our pleasant surprise, this line of chips includes other Weird Food Club-worthy flavors: durian, okra, whose texture reminds me of snot, and wild taro, a root vegetable that is toxic raw. I might stop by a Whole Foods to check out these other flavors as well. See list of all flavors here. Continue...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I guess we won't be eating monkey any time soon...

Researchers found a strain of a virus related to HIV in the flesh of primates illegally imported into New York City for human consumption.

Apparently, there's a whole underground market for bushmeat in the US. Bushmeat is a general term that used to refer to terrestrial wild animals (think "game") but now usually means endangered species hunted unsustainably, especially in Central and West Africa. Meat from some of these animals (monkey, cane rat, Malayan fruit bat) is considered a delicacy by West African communities and are consumed cured or smoked. The meat is smuggled into the US via parcels and personal suitcases, sometimes uncooked (blood and all).

Due to the virus, I'll pass on monkey meat at this point, but I wouldn't mind trying cane rat and/or the fruit bat. Those don't sound like endangered animals to me - any NYC-based West Africans want to volunteer to cook me one?

Read more about this here. Continue...

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Dim Sum at Jing Fong

Last Saturday we ate to our heart's desire at Jing Fong (20 Elizabeth Street, 2nd fl), a dim sum house. Dim Sum is an ideal way to sample a large number of small dishes in one sitting, and it works out even better in large groups of friends. It is recommended to arrive at Jing Fong before noon, and Saturdays tend to be less crowded than Sundays. We arrived a few minutes after 12, and the place was already packed. We got a table at the elevated portion of the gigantic over-decorated ball room, and felt like we were part of a wedding party.

Duck feet: 3/10
My most anticipated dish was the chicken feet, however, duck feet looked much more interesting. While chicken feet were covered in sweet and sour sauce, duck feet were steamed and doused in soy sauce. Becauase of this, duck feet looked much like they should naturally, with webbing between toes and all! Despite WFC member Josh's pleads that duck feet were terrible compared to the chicken feet, I had to get them anyway.

The duck feet didn't taste bad per se, but neither did they taste good. There wasn't much to eat on them and the skin was a bit tough. We only got them so we could pose with them for photos - they are very photogenic. (I can't say the same about myself though)

Tripe: 4/10
I loved the look of this tripe dish, because you could see the honeycomb texture of the reticulum (the second chamber of a cow's stomach). The dish came with a stew of cabbage and cassava. The peculiar cow smell of the tripe was too overbearing for me so I didn't eat much of this dish, but WFC member Anastassia loved it!

Sesame seed balls with durian paste: 4/10
These looked promising until you bit into them and tasted the durian. I've had fresh durian before and it actually was significantly less horrid than I had anticipated, having heard that the smell of durian was so offensive that it was illegal to eat it in public places in Southeast Asia.

The durian paste in the sesame seed balls had a sweet rotten onion taste, but it developed only a few seconds after you bit into it. To Josh, the durian paste literally tasted like garbage. Food critic Richard Sterling's description of durian is much more colorful: "its odor is best described as pig-shit, turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock." This sounds a little bit like my description of huitlacoche. To me, durian seemed better tasting than huitlacoche, especially concealed in sweet dough and covered in sesame seeds.

Our Dim Sum experience was not all bad. We also had some palatable food, my favorite of which were pork (7/10), fried tofu (6/10), and pastry dough with honey(7/10). The best part, of course, was snatching up dishes we liked from the moving carts and the buffet, and the bill at the end (~$13 per person)! Continue...

Monday, March 29, 2010

A grocery store that has everything

Being Russian, I occasionally go to Net Cost Market @ 8671 18th Avenue, Brooklyn. People refer to it as "the Baza" (base) because it contains absolutely everything. They have another location at 608 Sheepshead Bay Rd.

Here is a sample of disturbing things you can find in the meat section.

"Pig Baby by pc $65.39"

"Pork Pig Feets $3.24"

"Beef Tongue $9.45"

"Beef Liver $2.46"

"Beef Cow Feet Frozen $2.24"

"Turkey Neck $3.30"

"Turkey Gizzards $4.40"

"Veal Brain $3.67"

"Veal Heart $4.82"

"Veal Kidneys $1.91"

"Veal Tail $5.69"

Interestingly, the veal tail and the baby pig are the most expensive items per pound ($4.99 per pound).

Disclaimer: I did not purchase any of these items.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Wild Game Festival @ Henry's End Part 2

We went back to Henry’s End to try other items on the Wild Game Festival menu: turtle soup and ostrich. We tried to pry out of the waiter what kind of turtle meat they use for the soup, but it turns out the turtle meat already comes in ready-to-cook form, most likely from 1-800-ExoticMeats, Exotic Meats and More, Gourmet Wild Game or from any number of other online wild game and unusual meat dealers.

Turtle Soup: 5/10
WFC member Jaclynn said that “the turtle soup tasted like Chef Boyardee” -- a spot-on assessment! The turtle chunks were small and barely noticeable, and the soup itself was quite saucy. There was nothing special about this soup and it was tepid in temperature, so it gets a relatively low score.

Ostrich: 2/10
Whenever I try something that tastes bad, I have the urge to give it a 1/10 score. But then all I have to do is remember natto and huitlacoche to realize ostrich that tastes like rotten meat is relatively palatable. I’ve had ostrich burger before and it was fine (although on the dry side), but there was something seriously off with these ostrich filets. They were like the BeanBoozled jelly beans with rotten egg and vomit flavors that taste good for a few seconds, but then the actual flavor hits. The ostrich seemed tasty the instant you put it in your mouth, however, a few seconds later turned into something only a bear would eat (bears like slightly rotten meat). It was truly bizarre. Logically, most of the dish was left uneaten. We're not sure if all ostrich meat tastes like this or if we just got a bad batch. Anyone care to weigh in on this?

Wild Menu Plate: 7/10
This was a sample plate containing elk, quail, and boar belly. I second our earlier review of the elk chops – these are delicious. Boar Belly and Quail seem like an odd couple. One is very fat and wild, and the other is skinny and timid. Elk was just a third wheel in this dish but clearly the attention whore.

We knocked down a few points off the rating for this and other dishes for being served barely warm and for no signs of any thought behind presentation. Continue...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Wild Game Festival @ Henry’s End Part 1

Whatever you do, get to Henry’s End (44 Henry Street, Brooklyn) before the end of the month for the annual Wild Game Festival. Not only will you get to eat some unique dishes but you’ll get to do so in an elegant, yet comfortable atmosphere with above average service. Four star restaurant it is not, but it is definitely worth the trip.

We decided to pair our wild game with one of several Belgian beers available, which is recommended if you prefer a substantive beverage with your substantive entrée. Otherwise, make it a full bodied red.

Manuel ordered the bison, Merillat and Jessica the Elk Chops, and Antelope for myself. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to try any of the bison since Manual had a “no sharing” policy. It’s important to note that Manuel and Merillat came to Henry’s End on their first date, they are now married, and make the pilgrimage back once a month. It’s that good!

The Elk Chops were AMAZING! Tender. Juicy. Flavorful. Jessica claimed it was the best dish she’s ever had and that is some statement considering we have dined at many of the city’s top restaurants and her brother is a chef.

Elk Chops: "best dish ever!"

My antelope was very good, although just a tad shy of excellent. Is antelope, by its very nature, more gamey than elk? That got me wondering, what exactly is antelope? Sort of like reindeer? Will it taste like venison? So I did what I always do when I’m curious about something, I opened my Google homepage:

Antelope is a term referring to many even-toed ungulate species found in the family Bovidae. The term refers to a “miscellaneous” group within the family encompassing the species which are not cattle, buffalo, bison, or goats.

Thanks, Wikipedia!

Mmmm....Antelope, a "miscellaneous" animal

Very tasty!

In any event, the miscellaneous meat was terrific. However, don’t forget the Elk was better and the bison might win out. Continue...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

"Ooh! This ice cream's on fire!"

I was in Minneapolis, MN last week for work, and coincidentally it was Minneapolis Restaurant Week. I went down to Oceanaire Seafood Room (1300 Nicollet Avenue), which is considered one of the best restaurants in Minneapolis to try their $30 prix fixe.

I was eating alone and had great oysters, Australian barramunda, and a panna cotta. All were stellar. While I was finishing my panna cotta, I struck up a conversation with a neighboring table, and somehow ended up migrating there permanently.

Our server was extremely friendly the entire night, and he said that since he rarely sees strangers start up conversations, he gave us a bottle of white wine and told us to prepare for another special surprise on the house.

The surprise was a Bombe Alaska, a.k.a. Baked Alaska Flambé. A Baked Alaska is a dessert made of ice cream (ours was chocolate) on top of a slice of sponge cake (chocolate again), covered in meringue. The entire dessert is then briefly placed in the oven to harden the meringue without melting the chocolate.

A Bombe Alaska is a Baked Alaska that is then lit on fire via alcohol (e.g. rum or cognac) that is poured over the dessert. He referred to our dessert as simply "Flambé" (French for "flamed"), which is a cooking technique in which alcohol is added to create a burst of flames (lots of things can be flambéed). I had to figure out the exact name of this dessert so I could recommend a place in NYC. You can get it at Sardi's Restaurant @ 234 W 44th Street in New York. They have a Baked Alaska (on fire) every day, $22.

The anatomy of a Baked Alaska

The dessert is absolutely stunning visually, and it is incredible that the ice cream remains cold after being lit on fire. The meringue acts as an insulator and protects the ice cream from the heat.

Our flambé was not only a show-stopper visually, it was also incredibly delicious. I am a huge fan of meringue in general (I tried to make it at home, so far without success) and the ice cream was yummy. I managed to eat a good portion of the flambé even after finishing my panna cotta. Actually, I couldn't stop eating it - it was that good. The Baked Alaska Flambé was one of the best desserts I've ever had: (10 out of 10).

Lesson learned at Oceanaire: talk to strangers - you might get a flaming surprise (although it might not always be the good kind) Continue...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Cocks and Quails at Casa Mono

Casa Mono is a small and fashionable restaurant @ 125 East 17th Street, occasionally graced by celebrities. Casa Mono makes the most of its tiny size by squeezing many small tables in, even in most unusual spots, but they don’t take reservations for large groups. If you end up waiting for a table, Bar Jamon around the corner is a good place to get a drink in the meantime. I went with two of my good friends, together we sampled cock’s comb, quail, a tagine special, rack of lamb, and razor clams.

Cock’s Comb with Cepes ($13)
This dish sounds more dirty than it really is – cock’s comb is the skin on a rooster’s head (the kind that has eyes and a beak). I’ve had almost every part of a chicken (except chicken assholes, a Korean comfort food, that I am looking to discover in New York) and I’ve never had comb before, so this was an exciting find for me. The comb is a rarely used ingredient, and I found out why – skin is difficult to make exciting. Casa Mono’s parboiled appetizer combs are heavily seasoned with salt and garnished with some greens. The presentation is beautiful and Casa Mono scores points just for experimenting. I was able to feel the texture of the comb (soft, chewy) and but the taste was obfuscated by the salt. I am normally against the cop out of deep frying, but cock’s comb would definitely have been better off dipped in batter and dunked in bubbling oil, but then it would taste like anything else deep fried and would lose all of its uniqueness. Overall, cock’s comb is worth a try, but it’s not a very appetizing dish (3 out of 10).

Quail with Gingered Cranberries ($16)
Quail is a small and delicate bird and tastes very much like pigeon. A whole quail is probably the same size as the whole frog I tried a few weeks ago, and has about the same amount of meat on its legs. Quail was a bit too timid, proper and delicate for WFC, but it is much loved in Mediterranean cuisine. I might have loved the quail too if it had been less salty. Actually, I might have loved every dish at Casa Mono more if they were less salty. Call Dr. House – we should check if the Chef has an unusual salt deficiency! (5 out of 10)

Tagine Special, Razor Clams a la Plancha ($15), Rack of Lamb (6 out of 10)
Tagine is a method of cooking food in a clay pot. A medley of vegetables or meat with couscous or rice is cooked over several hours, enabling all the juices and flavors to penetrate all parts of the meal. Casa Mono’s tagine was flavorful but not very substantial, the clams were unusual in shape but not in taste, and the rack of lamb was easily the most delicious of the four entrees but too small to be completely satisfying.

Like the restaurant itself, the portions of all the dishes at Casa Mono are notably small. Each of us ordered an entrée, but we all left hungry and thirsty (from the salt). Sad but true – we ended up going to Whole Foods to continue our dinner. Maybe only celebrities can survive on 2 grams of food for dinner.

Other items of interest on the menu include: Duck Egg with Mojama ($16), Sweetbreads with Fennel al Mono ($19), Tripe with Chickpeas ($13), Confit Goat with Rainbow Chard ($19), but we’re not going back there to try them. Tell us if we’re mistaken about Casa Mono (I really hope we are)!

Lessons Learned:
1. Casa Mono raises blood pressure
2. Cocks have skin
3. We are too fat to be celebrities

Monday, February 22, 2010

We found live octopus!

After our pathetic failed attempt at live octopus, I was in despair. But thanks to Alex, WFC member and avid fan of Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations", we found a Korean restaurant in Flushing that is authentic enough for our appetites. (Although, I later discovered that simply typing in "live octopus" on yelp gives us Sik Gaek (16129 Crocheron Ave, Flushing, NY) as the second result but I digress...)



Live octopus lived up to our expectations for a truly bizarre food. I had never eaten anything that still moved in my mouth. Never did my food try to escape from my plate before. The tentacles wrapped around our chopsticks, the suckers stuck to our tongues and moved around our mouths. We couldn't ask for more from this perfect live octopus, so we award the live octopus sashimi at Sik Gaek a 10 out of 10 rating. The dish comes with jalapeno peppers, garlic, dipping sauces and is sure to incite curiosity, fear, excitement, laughter - all of the above.

We were also curious about the hot pot, which was highly recommended on yelp. We saw a neighboring table with it and the sheer gigantic size of it made us want to order it. We didn't realize how horrible it would be to watch a living octopus boil in front of our eyes until it was actually brought to us.

We did not feel good about it. It was sad to watch and we felt worse about ourselves.

We documented this dish on video just so you don't have to get it if you are ever faced with the option. Please be advised: this video is disturbing.

Even though "squeamish" is the last word to describe Weird Food Club members, we didn't have the stomach for this. Despite being absolutely delicious, the live octopus hot pot gets a 1 out of 10 for cruelty, and we do not recommend nor condone it. Perhaps we should have attempted to kill the octopus by striking it in the nerve center (between the eyes) but we were too shocked and ignorant of its anatomy to do so.

After boiling in the water, the octopus was cut up for us with large scissors. Its tentacles were juicy and tender, and we felt that we gave it justice by enjoying it.

RIP Mr. Octopus.

Although arguably equally cruel, the live octopus sashimi just didn't seem as evil as the hot pot, and we think it is an absolute must-try-at-least-once-in-a-lifetime for all adventurous eaters. Continue...

In search of live octopus...

When I came across Sushi UO's menu containing live octopus, live abalone, live scallop, live giant clam, live pen shell and live orange clam, I thought I hit the weird food jackpot. Sushi UO at 151 Rivington St is a hidden gem, most people say, so I could not contain my excitement and even brought a video camera to record my experience there.

Unfortunately for us, we discovered that Sushi UO's definition of "live" is merely "very fresh", and although the sashimi was delicious, this misnomer was a huge letdown for us weird food fanatics. In our opinion, if it doesn't have a heartbeat, it's not alive, and we don't like gimmicky marketing.

Sea Urchin Roe at Sushi UO

But we didn't let this ruin our night. We enjoyed the sea urchin roe (7 out of 10), which was delicate and creamy, but presented on a plain white dish rather than in the spiky urchin shell.

Their perfectly grilled sea eel on the other hand was truly sumptuous (9 out of 10, only because it is not "weird") and might be the item worth coming back for. Continue...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bacon It In NYC

Bacon usually goes with pancakes, eggs, or some other breakfast entree. Occasionally, bacon is used with other dishes: scallops wrapped in bacon, bacon-wrapped cocktail wieners, the classic BLT, and also chopped up in salads and added to other veggies.
Coincidentally, I started coming across some non-traditional uses of bacon and wanted to dedicate this post to NYC-based baconites and their creations. Behold!

1. Chocolate-covered bacon

Sure, we've all had chocolate covered pretzels, chocolate covered cherries, and chocolate covered raisins. However, this wonderful marvel is sure to please. Sold at Roni-Sue's Shoppe at Essex Market, about a quarter pound (~$10) of this item will give you and your friends a fixation that you won't be able to shake. Coronary insurance not included. Recommendation: 8 out of 10.

Photo: Choco-bacon lover from Roni-Sue's Shoppe giving away samples at the 2009 Chocolate Show

On Avenue A there's a joint known as the Double Down Saloon that serves up "booze, booze, and more booze" making one consider the reason or reasons people drink to begin with.

First, bacon-infused vodka. Second, Slim Jim garnish. Third, drink. Getting the drink down was tough. If you want to re-live the experience, it might help to have a few drinks somewhere else first, so you're prepared for the atmosphere as well as the actual beverage. Review: 5 of 10.

3. Bacon Bubble Gum

Okay, so there isn't exactly any real bacon in this one, only artificial flavoring. However, the trip to Dylan's Candy Bar on the Upper East Side is worth it. I found this gem on the lower level. Verdict: 3 of 10, only a must for the most hardcore bacon lovers.

4. Bacon Ice Cream
A few people cringed upon hearing this phrase. Do not. Embrace. Applewood in Park Slope has one of the greatest desserts ever devised (Its other food is exceptional as well). Bacon ice cream over a maple cake that was so heavenly, even this self-ascribed savory-salty tooth gobbled it down with delight. Word of caution: we were informed that the restaurant does not offer this item daily, so be sure to call head and tell them you're a bacon guy (or gal) as I did. Overall 10 of 10. This is arguably the best bacon incorporated item, ever! Or if you can't make it to Applewood, try making your own bacon ice cream at home


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Weird Food Club mailing list


As the organizer of Weird Food Club outings, I am running into a now common problem of restaurant capacity. We often have lots of people who want to go (yay!) and too few reservation spots (nay!).
So... I am creating a WFC mailing list.

If you would like to be notified of the next WFC outing by email, please send a note to weirdfoodclub [at] gmail dot com.
Once a new event is organized, we will send an invite to everyone on the mailing list. The first people to respond get the spots!

We swear we won't send you any spam.

You can also use this email address to contact us about anything - tips, comments, ideas.

Thanks and I look forward to eating weird stuff with you! Continue...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Whole Frog at Kenka (22 St. Mark's Place)

Kenka is where it all started. I tried bull penis at Kenka on a dare and from then on, the weird food just wouldn't stop. Now when I think back, bull penis doesn't even seem so strange to me and when I recount the story, even though everyone generally tends to cringe they continue to ask with wide open eyes what it tasted like.

I went back to Kenka last night to try their whole fried frog. I've had frog legs before, but they weren't prepared well (too dry). Frog legs can often be found in French and Thai restaurants, but rarely can you find a place that will serve you a entire deep fried frog.

The frog at Kenka was lightly breaded, deep fried whole, placed on two skewers, served on a small mound of cabbage and lettuce, and covered in kewpie mayo. It was absolutely delicious. It tasted very much like tender fried chicken and its legs look a lot like skinny drum sticks.

I liked playing with the frog's feet and even tried chewing on those scary long curly toes. But more fun than anything is the fact that you can tell what animal you're eating because you can see it in its entirety. It was delightful! Playing with my frog and eating it made me feel like a wacky kid.

Not all frogs are edible. Edible frogs tend to be brown. Bright-colored frogs may be poisonous, so don't go out and eat your exotic pet frog.

Like alligator, in terms of taste, frogs could really be a great replacement for chicken, except they cost about $9/pound whereas chicken is $1-2/pound. Frogs are not very meaty, either. Someone should start a frog farm and feed them some roids to compete with chicken on equal terms. I can just see the future of frog meat markets: "Organic, free range frogs!" I'm actually not sure if this frog was steroids free - look how enormous it is. It's almost the size of my head.

A whole frog is definitely worth trying, and I rate it 7 out of 10. It's fun, not too bizarre, and tasty, plus at Kenka one whole frog will only set you back $8 (but order something else in addition if you're hungry). Kenka's awesome menu and prices continue to blow my mind. Next time I go, I'll have to try their turkey testicles, deep fried garlic, cow intestines, and pig feet. Continue...

Friday, January 29, 2010

Fun Thai Food in Financial District

I'm having this coconut ice cream in a young coconut shell as I'm typing this. It's delicious and fun and it's from 35 Thai (35 Lispenard St). They have a similar pineapple ice cream served in a baby pineapple!

This coconut ice cream is very light (feels like there's very little fat in this, possibly because they used a good portion of coconut water to make it instead of cream/milk), so it is a completely different ice cream experience than the rich, butter-like frozen nitrogen ice cream served at Lulu & Mooky's that we tried a couple of months ago!

I was also very tempted to get frog legs from Cafe Sage (108 John St) but they are cash only and I only had $5 on me. You can get their frog legs
a) in red curry sauce with red onion.
b) In garlic and pepper sauce
c) In basil and chili pepper sauce.

I'll have to try them next time! Continue...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Weird Food Club recommendations for NYC Restaurant Week Winter 2010

Img via The Modern

2010 Winter Restaurant Week is Monday-Friday, January 25-29 and February 1-5, 2010. Although most NYC chefs stick to their tried and true butternut squash soups, duck confits and panna cottas, luckily, a few of them take the opportunity to experiment with their menus. Restaurant Week is also a fantastic opportunity for you to try rare and/or expensive ingredients on the cheap -- all selected dinners are $35 so hurry for reservations.

1.Brasserie 8 and 1/2
Fluke Tartare (Avocado & Sea Urchin, Mango Vinegar, Cucumber)
Slow Braised Goat (Chicken of the Wood Mushrooms, Polenta)
Blood Orange Mirror Cake (White Chocolate Mousse, Passion Fruit Coulis)

2.The Modern
Braised Tripe with chickpeas and harissa aioli or steak tartare with quail egg
Saffron Tagliatelli with cider braised rabbit, wild mushrooms and baby zucchini
Hazelnut Dacquoise with milk chocolate chantilly.

3.Industria Argentina
Mollejas al Verdeo (Crispy sautéed sweetbreads, scallion and white wine sauce)
Milanesa de Pescado (Skate wing milanesa, brown butter, cappers, cauliflower purée)
Bombón Suizo (Dulce de leche Argentinean-style Tartufo, warm dulce de leche sauce)

4.Trattoria dell'Arte
Toredelli Bolognese (wild boar & porcini stuffed pasta with a three meat ragu, baby arugula)
Veal and Wild Mushroom Marsala (shaved black truffle)

5.Rouge Tomate
Gravlax (a Scandinavian appetizer)
Duck with kumquat and coriander (avail. Regularly)
Passion fruit curd

Also try:

Caviar @ Petrossian

US Kobe beef skewers, Fish shaped Japanese waffle ice cream @ Inakaya

Wild boar stew with soft truffle polenta @ Osteria del Circo

Salmon Kulebiyaka @ Firebird

Huitlacoche Crepes @ Maya

Raw Tuna Pizza @ Mercer Kitchen

Squab @ Mr. Chow Continue...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thai food that needs to be discovered in New York


Apologies for my long absence and silence. Yours truly has been sampling unusual culinary creations in the Kingdom of Thailand, where street carts, night markets, cafes and restaurants had a vast selection of fun edible stuff. Here’s just a small taste of what I found.


Jackfruit ice cream in a cone. Jackfruit itself is rubbery and tastes a bit like bubble gum.

Sweet sticky rice with sesame seeds served on a palm leaf, eaten with toothpicks.

One can eat many things on a stick.


Chow-Guai is a vegetable jelly made from a Chinese plant. It's black and is eaten with ice and palm sugar. This is a dish shrouded in mystery -- no other information can be found about this.



Crickets, beetles, larvae! Play the slideshow to see me eating them. These bugs were sold from a street cart. I picked out the ones I wanted to try, they were scooped into a plastic bag for me and sprayed with some kind of salty soy sauce-like spray but remained crunchy. We only saw one bug cart like this throughout the duration of our trip, so I don't think they are very popular. My eyes lit up when I saw this street cart, so I'm glad we decided to try the bugs that same instant and not to wait to find another one later.


This is a grilled snakehead fish. It is called so because its head looks like it is covered in snake-like scales and because of its other peculiar features: this freshwater fish breathes atmospheric air with primitive lungs and feeds on other fish and small animals like frogs and rats. Not much of a fish now, is it?


This is a
Muslim dessert crepe that one purchases with a bag of colorful palm sugar strings. We were told it would be unbearably sweet and kind of dry but it turned out moderately sweet and delicious. It was a little bit like eating cotton candy in a crepe. We tried it in Ayutthaya.


Khao soi noodles are deep fried and crunchy, floating in a very rich coconut milk-based curry.


This food court at the Siam Paragon mall in Bangkok is the largest food court I have ever seen in my life. It had an extraordinary selection of restaurants, stalls, cafes, mini-grocery shops and bakeries. I haven't seen a larger food court even in Japan. Does anyone know of a larger food court? My favorite finds here were the marshmallow taco, hot dog pancakes and a bear-shaped bread bun.

This is a reminder that a whole world of weird food exists beyond the shores of our city, but to stick to the focus of this blog, I will try to research for you guys where you can sample some of this stuff on our soil. Continue...