August 15th, 2014

Recipe: “Stray Dog”

Drunken Angel

Still taken from Akira Kurosawa’s Drunken Angel

Sake’s not something I’m used to having a lot of, so in this gin-based cocktail, it’s being used like you’d use dry vermouth, a milding agent that tempers the main spirit and is delightful with plum, mint, and lime.

Read more »

10570079_722871891112034_226909481_n

Deno’s Wonder Wheel by Tommy Werner

My previous associations with Coney Island were these: the yellow vacuum-sealed Nathan’s Hot Dogs (imported!) I saw as a kid in South Carolina and a scene from Big when Tom Hanks and Elizabeth Perkins go to the amusement park for one of their first real dates. It’s a turning point in the movie, when Hanks has come to terms with being a grown-up. By now, he’s still a 12-year old trapped in a 30-year old’s body, but the tension isn’t what drives this scene. He’s not fighting his adulthood while out on this date. His inner secret shows when he’s gleeful on the rides, and his innocence is all there when he wipes a blob of mustard off of Elizabeth Perkins, but he treats her like a peer, not a grown-up. Since moving to New York, I’ve put a lot of my experiences in the context of Big; Coney Island isn’t an exception.

Read more »

DD

Even though Food Network is experiencing some lower ratings, you could say we live in a golden age of food broadcasting, where a daily task has been elevated to a glamorous spectacle. Can you imagine an entire network, or even an entire show, devoted to some other reasonably manual task, like, say, cleaning a bathroom? Food television created a new cult of personality around TV hosts, destroyed a few professional careers, and lifted the lives of certain home cooks into gastronomical icons. I have a number of favorites.

Read more »

July 23rd, 2014

Yelp vs. Waiter, Part 2

PJ

A few weeks before my road trip from upstate New York to Minnesota with my friend Jay, who is Yelp’s faithful audience, I came up with the idea to find out who would recommend us better dishes between Yelp and waiters. I would be on waiters’ side, ordering anything recommended by them. Jay would be on Yelp side, checking reviews before making her decision.

Briefly, we decided to turn our 800-mile trip into a tasty and friendly competition of what I believe it is fun and what Jay believes it is good. To my delight, the waiter won the first round at the contemporary sushi place in Chicago. But the next morning, Yelp scored the point.

Two more meals left here.

Read more »

July 18th, 2014

Recipe: Turnt-Ups

h-952x1024

Turn down for what? Not for these braised turnips. I’ve been a little exhausted with mushy vegetables, shriveled reminders of limpid freezer fries and wanted to make some vegetables with attitude, something “turnt to the ceiling.” With a quick braise in brandy, these root veggies get cooked just enough to be tender throughout, but also have some bite, both texturally and tastewise. Because even with the braising liquid, vegetables should still taste like vegetables. The scallions, tarragon, and vinegar add some sharpness, and this would go nicely with a fatty main course like grilled beef.

Get TURNT.

Braised Turnips with Scallions and Tarragon
Serves Two

1/2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 lb. white turnips, trimmed, peeled, and cut into rods
3 scallions, whites and greens cut on the bias
1/2 cup brandy
1/2 tsp brown mustard
1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon, plus more for garnish
1/2 tsp sherry vinegar
1 small shallot, diced

Heat a saute pan over medium heat for about a minute. Add the oil and swirl it around the pan. Heat for another minute. Add the scallion whites and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cook the scallion whites in the oil until aromatic, about two minutes. Add the scallion greens and cook all scallions until browned, about another four minutes. Remove from pan and reserve.

Increase pan to high and add turnips and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cook until all sides begin to color, about four minutes. Add the brandy and mustard. Stir to combine and “baste” the turnips with the liquid. Using a spoon, scoop liquid from the bottom of the pan and pouring it over the turnips. Add the chopped tarragon. Decrease heat and put a lid on the pan. Cook until the brandy has mostly evaporated, about six minutes.

Add the reserved scallions back to the pan and cook for about a minute, melding the flavors. Add the sherry vinegar and most of the shallot, keeping some for the final plating. Cook until flavors have blended and shallot is aromatic, about one minute. Garnish finished vegetables with reserved shallot and tarragon sprigs. Serve immediately.

All recipes and photography by Tommy Werner

July 16th, 2014

Yelp Vs. Waiter, Part 1

photo (11)

If I can pick only one friend to travel with me in the states, Jay would be the first name I think of because we have a lot in common. Places I would love to visit are usually on her list as well. Let alone the funny fact that we often get hungry at the same time when we are together. However, when it comes to choosing where to eat and what to order, we are on different ends of the spectrum.

While I enjoy picking restaurants randomly and have fun with finding new surprising favorites, Jay heavily relies on Yelp. For her, new places worth trying are places that have earned more than four stars. Her reliance on the site usually expands to what she orders, too. “According to Yelp…,” is a phrase commonly heard over our meals. While, on the other hand, I like to ask waiting staff first to see what they recommend. So when we were planning for our road trip from Cooperstown in upstate New York to Rochester, Minnesota, I came up with an idea that both of us could stand on our end of the spectrum and still enjoy the food.

“Hey, why don’t you just order dishes recommended on Yelp and I will order dishes recommended by waiters? Then we will taste both dishes, compare the food we get, and see who is gonna win each meal? Our meals would be something like mini yummy competitions between the Internet, well, human on the Internet, and human working there.”

I told Jay the idea and she was in.

Read more »

a copy

Previously, we promised an experiment with the Polyscience smoking gun, so without further ado, here’s an cocktail we made using the device, which is every bit as fun as it sounds. Yes, it is scientifically possible to smoke a liquid. Using an airtight container and the hose attachment, it only took a little bit of time to imbue this liquid with hickory smoke. 15 minutes was more than enough time to infuse tequila with a smoky flavor that goes nicely with citrus and sweetener.

Using a DIY chipotle syrup and grapefruit, this is a smoky and long-sipping spin on the Paloma.

Watch this video for a blazing gun demo and cocktail assembly.

Read more »

Grapefruit Cocktail

Spritzes, with their bubbles and fruity flavors, are bright-tasting and easy-going. Fresh fennel gives this gin-based grapefruit spritzer a little more flavor complexity and a really cool color contrast. Be sure to use just a splash or so of sparkling wine, as it can overpower the rest of the drink.

Read more »

This floral and citrusy cocktail is a riff on the French ’75, a simple-but-dangerous flute of gin and Champagne. It’s titled for a friend of mine, unofficially nicknamed “Fitzgerald.” (She actually snagged the photo below of one of my early iterations) It’s sweetened with lavender, which I used to think was only in grandmother soaps, but now I know better. Along with a little bit of Prosecco, this is a drink that’s right for a summer of fire escapes, cocktail parties, and everything else in-between.

Read more »

Kalustyans_17

“This is basturma. It’s beef. Are you okay with beef?” A guy at a prepared food section on the second floor of Kalustyan’s, a supermarket on Lexington Ave. in Manhattan, asked while showing me a plastic box full of basturma after I told him I wanted basturma sandwich with lebney.

The guy has worked at this place for just a month, but it was obvious to even a new face like him that I was not familiar with Middle Eastern food. I stood there with my eyes darting back and forth between the menu and the food for several minutes. My relationship with both Middle Eastern food and its close cousin Mediterranean is like a very long distance relationship. I go to these places about twice a year, or once in some years. Telling the differences between green olives and purple olives in front of me at the supermarket was impossible. Knowing everything on the menu without asking or Googling was unimaginable.

Read more »