Virtual Visits to Favorite Food Spots

I mentioned over on Greater Gotham recently that I sometimes got homesick for New York – having moved out after so long.  In addition to missing places like the High Line and the New York Public Library, I miss the food. The all-night diners, the food trucks, the Oyster Bar, the pizza, the GIANT SANDWICHES at the delis. Luckily, some of of my favorite New York eateries are using social media so well that I can visit them any time I want – even with an ocean in between us. Virtual visits are better for my diet as well. Makes planning culinary plans of attack for visits home easier too. Check out some of my favorites in Gotham Grub Goes Virtual.

Sigh. Great. Hungry now. And all I can think about is @CrumbsBakeShop , @biggayicecream, Serendipity_3, @CarnegieDeli and @shakeshack

Walking the Walk in London

My favorite walking tour company in London – London Walks – has been filming parts of their walks. I’ve been on – oh, about 15-20 of their tours and they are GREAT! Oddly enough, I’ve never gone on their foodie tour but now that I’ve seen this video, it’s on the top of my “next time in London” to do list.

Checking the Culinary Calendar

May 22: National Vanilla Pudding Day. A whole day? Really? I can’t see celebrating vanilla pudding taking more than an hour, tops.

May 23 : National Taffy Day. Now, that’s more like it. I can absolutely see spending a whole day on the chewy, fruity, colorful goodness that is taffy.

May 24: National Escargot Day. I take a practical view of escargot. I used to be a bit put off by them – like many people. But then, I found enlightenment. They are, to be blunt, merely the first delivery vehicle for the garlic butter sauce, the second being bread. I have also found that they make an excellent stuffing for mushrooms.

May 25: National Brown-Bag-It Day. Not sure what I am to do for this particular day. I mean, I’m a freelancer. Do I brown bag it from the kitchen to the den?

May 26: National Blueberry Cheesecake Day. Note to self – remind Mom (she who makes the most fantastical cheesecake in the world) of this day.

May 31: National Macaroon Day. I suppose the only proper way to celebrate Macaroon Day would be with the most wonderful macaroons you could lay your hands on. Now, it just so happens that the most wonderful macaroons you could lay your hands on (and I brook very little debate or argument on this) is a particular bakery in Rome – specifically on Via del Portico d’Ottavia (on the corner across from the school). I don’t know it’s name. No one knows its name or at least no one I know has every used it in talking about the place. All you need to say is – the Jewish bakery in Rome and everyone knows where you mean. And the macaroons? DIVINE. Of course, that requires changing the day from National Macaroon Day to International Macaroon Day but who’s going to quibble about that?

Musuem of Munchies?

I have thrown open the windows of the apartment and am enjoying the cool, relaxing temperatures of the morning. But that’s not what I am here to discuss today. Actually, it’s not so much a discussion as a drive by hot tip.

I have just discovered that there is a NY Food Museum. Now, you might think – hello? you have two blogs – this one on food and another about NYC. How could you not have known there was a NY Food Museum. Well, in my defense – um – well, look. It’s only 10 or so years old and has no permanent home. No? Not buying it. Never mind. I’m telling you now.

NY Food Museum. Great stuff. Their mission is to “To encourage people to think about the food they eat.” I love that mission. One of their upcoming events: 9th Annual NYC International Pickle Day (10/4/09). OK, I admit to not being a pickle fan but it sounds like a blast.

There is also a New York Museum of Water that can fill you in on what’s in that water you are drinking. Do I want to know? I mean – after years of drinking the water in Houston (where ice cubes periodically ended up smelling like sulfur), I’m finally able NOT to think about it too much.

One-Ingredient Ice Cream?

bananaicecreamBanana Lovers, I come bearing a fabulous, simple and delicious new way to enjoy your favorite fruit. One-Ingredient Ice Cream. Yes, you read right. I’m a banana fan and I am an ice cream fan when I saw that bananas were the one ingredient in one-ingredient ice cream, I knew I had to try it.

I shall start with the basic process — freeze a banana until solid, then stick it in a blender until creamy. I imagine some quality time in the freezer after that just to help “set” it – not unlike the custard ice creams of my past (my espresso ice cream for example). Once I master that, I shall see what I can do to “complex it up a bit.” Of course, then, it’s no longer one ingredient but that’s OK.  I doubt adding say – chocolate chips would make it that much more complicated.

Food Festivities Gotham Style

I gather that March 30 is Turkey Neck Soup Day. Because I’ve always believed that a truly wise person doesn’t hesitate to admit when they don’t know something, I feel perfectly comfortable with the knowledge and admission of the knowledge that I have no idea what Turkey Neck Soup is. Anyone?

Now and again – in the interest or time and the remarkable coincidence that a single post can be of interest to more than one audience, I will use a post from Greater Gotham on here or a post from here in Greater Gotham. This is one of those times.

The weather – though a tad chill this morning – is showing distinct signs of Spring so I have decided that it is a good time to see what culinary socializing the city (in my case, New York City) holds for the upcoming months. And as usual, this time of year does not disappoint. We’ve got food festivals:

  • International Restaurant Week (May 1-10, 2009 ): Normally one doesn’t associate airlines with fine dining but this event is a Continental Airlines creation. Not only do you get exclusive offers at 12 of New York City’s top Zagat-rated restaurants – you also get behind-the-scenes kitchen tours, unique menus, complimentary tastings and take home treats.
  • Ninth Avenue International Food Festival and Street Fair (May 16-17, 2009) – still going strong after 36 years. I know, I know – New York Street Fairs are all the same — except that they aren’t.  Sure, you’ll see non-food vendors but the food is the things here and from 37th Street to 57th Street, you’ll see everything from chorizo sandwiches to pad thai to alligator to cheesecake.
  • 8th Annual The Cuisine of Queens & Beyond (May 19, 2009) lots to savor here but this year is special because this year Dish du Jour Magazine is hosting the first Meatball Melee where borough restaurants are invited to compete for the title of “Best Balls in the Boroughs.” Now admit it – you’re hungry already, aren’t you?
  • Third Annual NYC Food Film Festival (June 13-19, 2009) where filmgoers are able to watch food films then sample the food portrayed in those films.
  • While the Food Festivals across the city are certainly worth checking out, it would be a culinary crime to miss out on the Great New York State Food and Wine Festival (June 19-21, 2009). After all, as a state New York produces some of the best cheeses, maple syrup, apple cider, cookies and ice cream and of course, wines. Why not head up the Clayton, NY (in the New York’s famous 1000 Islands Vacation Region) and check it out. Everyone could use a weekend away.
  • Another thing New York State excels at is strawberries. Yes, strawberries. Check them out at  the Owego Strawberry Festival (June 19-20), a mainstay of the NYS food scene for 29 years (Where else can you get fireworks and a strawberry pie baking contest?) and – another long time strawberry soire – the Merritt Strawberry Festival (June 13-14, 2009) hosted at Merritt Estate Winery in  Chautauqua County

A Plethora of Paella

I know it’s National Gumdrop Day (and may your day be as gummy as any that has come before it) but I am too distracted to think about gumdrops at the moment. At the moment, all I can think about is paella. Why? Because apparently it is what a lot of people online are thinking about, Googling, and searching for.

I’m aware of the exciting nature of paella. I’ve gone on about it at some length myself in my Ode to Paella but the Fabulous Foodie user stats seem to indicate a definite and recent paella trend. A lot of people are searching for paella all of a sudden. Specifically, they seem to be searching for Alton Brown paella. I don’t know why. Don’t get me wrong – I’d love to hear what he has to say about it. I just never have. I’ve never come across an Alton Brown recipe for paella.* Still, plenty of his fellow Food Network stars have them.

At some point last year, Tyler Florence went in search of the ultimate paella. I wish someone would pay me to go in search of the ultimate roast chicken. But I digress. We are talking about paella. Anyway – off Tyler went. He encountered Paella Cubana and Paella Valenciana. But in the end, his journey led him to create The Ultimate Paella Recipe. Ultimate, Tyler? Really? But what about your previous Paella with Seafood, Chicken, and Chorizo? Is this better than that?

Anyway, ‘ultimate’ sounds unlikely since everyone at Food Network seems to have addressed paella (except for Alton Brown which we have already discussed).

TV is not the only place to find the paella of your dreams. Grab a cup of coffee and peruse a cooking magazine or two. OK, maybe grab a cup of coffee and peruse and cooking magazine website or two. Try One-Hour Shrimp Paella from Bon Appétit or Quick Paella from Gourmet magazine.

You can also check out hundreds – yes, I said hundreds – of paella recipes at recipe round up sites.

So you can see – a plethora of paella awaits you should you venture forth and try this flexible, delicious, highly personal and customizable dish. Just don’t go ask me what Alton Brown thinks because try as I might, I can’t find a place where the two intersect.

** As is so often the case – especially in cooking and paella, timing is everything. A mere 2 months after I wrote this, Alton Brown DID do a paella episode of Good Eats. The question remains however – why was everyone searching for it previously? How did they know?

A Guide for Guides to Gotham Grub

l_53396.jpgFabulous Foodie is just one of the blogs I am involved in. The other is Greater Gotham. Today I thought I’d bring together and this is the result – not so much a guide to the food of New York as a guide to online guides (with a few specifics thrown in). So sit back, grab your classic gotham coffee and wander along with us.

New York Magazine’s Best of New York Food is always worth reading (and keeping for future reference) but the real, daily stop at NYM for food lovers is Grub Street, their food blog.

The food section of the New York Times practically deserves a post in and of itself but can be summed up with the The Dining & Wine Section and the Diner’s Journal blog

Time Out New York helpfully provides the New York Cheap Eats Pyramid as part of it’s annual Cheap Eats issue. After all, one must pay rent but that doesn’t mean one doesn’t want to go out and enjoy what the city has to offer. But it’s not all cheap over at Time Out. The Restaurants and Bars section of their site offers not only a wealth of listings but “refer to again and again” content like their Eat Out Awards, their “only online” additional information and foodie gift buying tips.

There are, of course, the usual guides to the Grub of Gotham. Typical of that breed is the Food Network’s A Tasty Travel Insider’s Guide to New York which if uninspired, is at least well organized. I prefer my guides with a bit more originality and personality of their own.

Speaking of originality and personality: Eater. From the folks that brought us Curbed. There are a few Eaters now – San Fran and La – but this is the original. Not only does it cover who and what is happening in the Gotham Grub scene but it rounds up what everyone else is saying about it. That’s helpful not only for those who want to follow the crowd but those who want to avoid them. Two guesses as to which category yours humbly falls into.

Also brimming with personality and opinion are NYC Nosh, Restaurant Girl and Savory New York. Savory is eating up tons of my time lately. Why Savory, in particular? Because it’s a wiki (one of my favorite things) and a video guide to New York City restaurants scene and if there’s one thing I like better than reading about it, it’s watching it.

Slow Food New York City has a directory of eateries, bars, food markets and shops that have earned the Slow Food Snail of Approval. If you ascribe to the Slow Food philosophy or even just think they might be on to something, pick your night out from this list and you won’t be sorry. If you don’t want to wait to “walk it off” then you’ll want to try out Foods of New York, food tasting walking tours of New York. Don’t feel like leaving the house after all? Surf on over to Menu Pages, the ultimate directory of NYC restaurants menus. 4000! Read them online or print them out.

old_town.jpgIf you want a side order of history with your meal, you could go to Fraunces Tavern but while no doubt interesting to some, is not the first place I think of for a fun meal. Instead, stop by Katz’s Deli, Lombardi’s or Old Town Bar. All three have been dishing out the goods for over 100 years and there’s a tasty reason they are still around. If you’ve still jonesing for more history, Forgotten NY (a favorite website of mine in the general sense) also has some culinary offerings worth looking at in their New York’s Oldest Bars and NYC’s Classic Diners sections.

And that brings us to the end of today’s tour. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. I know I have but now I really must go get lunch. I’m STARVING! Next time we take a virtual tour, it’s gonna be a tour of the food itself. So, come hungry.

Specificity in food blogging

In my latest food news persue, I mentioned the blog Lost Taco and further mentioned that a blog about searching for that perfect taco might strike some as self-limiting. I mean, blogging day in and day out, week after week about a single item or particular foodstuff? Now, I personally don’t feel that way – like I said, I could easily blog about roast chicken all day. I can see dedicating an entire blog to ice cream – though I’d be hard pressed to keep it to a single flavor. If I had to pick a single flavor – that flavor would be coffee. The variations in coffee ice cream never cease to amaze me. Still – though I haven’t looked, I would be shocked if someone (several someones) hadn’t done so already.

In any case, that got me thinking. What are some of the item specific blogs out there? The ones that focus on a single thing and delve deeply into the details, the uses, variations and types in a particular category. Here’s what I found along with what they are about in their own words.

Before I start though – I am aware that tacos (and taco bloggers, I presume) vary widely from region to region so in the interest of bicoastal fairness, I present The Great Taco Hunt (“A guide to the Los Angeles taco scene”) and Taco Addiction (“Hardcore taco-y goodness). Now, onto my discoveries”

  • Hummus 101:This blog is about Hummus, regardless of sex, race, religion or color. It is about the love for Hummus and the things you can do with it – including making it yourself. We’ll share with you our recipes, amaze you with some uncommon Hummus trivia facts, and suggest recommended restaurants where you can eat Hummus throughout the world.” Fantastic! Hummus is one of those things I was late coming to but now that I have, I love it. And this blog has a side of falafel and tahini as well so it’s all to the good.
  • The Bacon Show: “one bacon recipe per day, every day, forever.” That seems pretty clear.
  • Slice:is a weblog about America’s favorite crusty, saucy, cheesy meal—pizza! We offer a delicious mix of news digests, reviews, videos, and musings on all things pie-related.” Pizza is one of those foods that people have “views” on and there are many pizza laden blogs — The New York Pizza Blog and Pizza Blog from Pizzatherapy just to name a couple — but this one is particularly comprehensive and makes me hungry.
  • Garlicster: “a blog for all things garlic.
  • The Salsa Review: “. . . born out of a desire to remember all of the delicious (and not so delicious) salsas that I have eaten.” OK, I admit I never would have thought to go looking for a blog dedicated to salsa but that, my friends, is the beauty of blogrolls. The internet is a never ending treasure trove of forks in the virtual road.
  • Wonders of Tea: “A site concerning everything to do with tea. A personal diary of tea events and periodic reviews of various teas.” (I know what you’re thinking – what about coffee? Seriously? Where is the challenge in finding a blog about that. You can’t move for the sites and blogs about coffee.)
  • Chocolate Obsession: the blogger states that she loves chocolate and if her about page is anything to go by we have no reason to doubt her. Like pizza lovers, chocolate lovers have views. I must say, I agree with most of the ones here. “There are really two types of chocolate to my mind-set: chocolate for tasting and chocolate for eating. High-end chocolates are generally about the chocolate itself and are made for tasting. At the other end of the spectrum are all of the candy style chocolates like your Kit Kat and Crunch bars. And I’m not about to limit myself to candy or fine chocolate. All chocolate is fair game. I love chocolate ice cream and have been known to imbibe the occasional chocolaty beverage (even some of the alcoholic variety). There isn’t a lot I won’t try.

Oh there are more of course – many foods who deserve and in fact have their devotees. I’d love to collect more if you know of any. This was just a quick hit and run list, the result of a passing thought. More to come I hope.