Ten ingredients I discovered too late in life

IMG_2763As readers of this blog know, I like to eat. For me, food is a way to enter other cultures and connect with other people, to satisfy my curiosity about the world as I sate my appetite. I may roll my eyes at the pretensions of molecular gastronomy, but I’ll grant its proponents this much: discovering a new ingredient is a bit like discovering a new element. It raises questions and opens up possibilities.

Ten years ago, I had barely heard of the ingredients listed here, if I’d heard of them at all. I certainly didn’t cook with them.

A pause here to sigh for those wasted years – then on with the list. Continue reading


Race report – the Brooklyn Half (May 16, 2015)

The scene at the Stillwell Ave station after the race.

The scene at the Stillwell Ave station after the race.

Why was I getting up at 5 am to run a race that starts within easy jogging distance of my apartment?

Because when a race has more than 26,000 entrants – making it the largest half marathon in the U.S., according to the New York Road Runners – it’s not a neighborhood event. It’s a global production requiring precision, political finesse, and the occasional tactical compromise.

Like starting at 7 am on a Saturday, so that most of the runners clear the vicinity of Grand Army Plaza before most Brooklynites are up and about.

Like requiring runners to walk through metal detectors to enter their corrals. (So what if they beeped for everyone?)

Like closing the baggage trucks at 6:10 am, so that . . . well, I’m not sure why the baggage trucks closed so early. I only know that (a) they stretched a loooooooong way down Eastern Parkway and (b) many unhappy runners clutching NYRR-issue clear plastic bags were sprinting toward their assigned trucks at 6:09:59 am. Continue reading

Eating 8th Avenue – a two-part dim sum extravaganza

So long, 8th Avenue; you've been delicious.

So long, 8th Avenue; you’ve been delicious.

At the end of April, with Eric in tow, I headed back to the now-familiar 8th Avenue stop on the N train. It was to be my last “official” visit (reserving the right to come back for unblogged meals) before this blog moves on to another avenue TBD. To mark the occasion, we planned a dim sum blow-out.

So, it turned out, did several thousand other people. The line at Bamboo Garden (8th Ave and 64th St, our intended destination) spilled out the door and around the corner.

Our hearts sank. What to do? We ducked into the food court in an adjoining building, but there was no place to sit. Was everyone in Brooklyn on 8th Avenue that day? It was beginning to look that way.

We ended up at a bakery/diner hybrid called Jade Food Inc., drawn by the declarative simplicity of its awning (“Coffee. Milkshake. Other Beverages. Dim Sum. Bakery”) and the fact that there was an empty table inside. Over (rather watery) congee and (slightly gummy) dumplings, we plotted our next move. Continue reading

Brooklyn’s hot moms wish you a happy Mother’s Day

el castillo motherThe folk artist(s) who decorated Fifth Avenue storefronts for Valentine’s Day is back at it. There’s slightly less demand for his or her services for Mother’s Day (forcing me to ask: what’s wrong with you, Fifth Avenue business owners??), but there are still plenty of voluptuous moms in the South Slope and Sunset Park to remind you that Sunday is their day.

A gallery follows. Continue reading