Sunday, August 17, 2014

Food and Politics - Why Anthony Bourdain is More Than Just a Chef

If you have read my blog for long enough, you may have realized by now that I have a tremendous amount of respect if not affection toward Anthony Bourdain. Maverick, rebel, non-conformist, etc.. probably some of his most endearing qualities and the fact that the man can cook doesn't hurt my image of him as an Adonis of sorts. However, the quality that I have come to appreciate most about him is the fact that he is not affraid to discuss and present difficult political issues in his shows. This has perhaps put him in the unique position of being able to humanize issues that the news shows talking heads merely dissect and skew with their constant nonsensical jabber. There is so much of a difference in showing a political situation from disected facts and then seeing it presented from the point of view of people who are sharing good food and showing a side seldom seen. The side of people inside the conflict sharing their fears and hopes over the food that represents their daily living.

The particular reason for this post is regarding the very unsettling situation taking place in Jerusalem and the fact that is was not until a few days ago that I got to see the episode of Parts Unknown that was filmed in this region. It is, in my point of view perhaps one of the best he has done and one that I feel anyone who wants to see the human side of the conflict should be required to watch. Here is part of it that I managed to get from You Tube. Thank you so much Mr. Bourdain for doing this show and for presenting both sides so eloquently. No one could have done a better job. You are more than just a fantastic chef. You are perhaps the best journalist out there right now.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

My Week With Red Miso Paste

I have been in a culinary rut for a bit. I decided that the rut had to end and decided to get myself out of it by challenging myself to use an ingredient that I had not used before. As you might have guessed by now that ingredient was red miso paste. What is is? Well in essence it is fermented soybeans with some rice or barley thrown into the mix. Red miso is usually fermented for over a year and has a very robust and salty taste. If you want a little more in-depth information about miso check out this Wikipedia link that really gets into the knitty gritty of this awesome and very versatile Japanese staple.

I will start off with the first of two dishes I made with my challenge ingredient. I call it Tilapia in Red Miso Maple Glaze. Since I am flying mostly solo these days I made this recipe that is supposed to be for one but really could feed two.

1 Tilapia Fillet (usually about 3/4 lb)
1 TBSP Red Miso Paste
2 TBSP Maple Syrup
1 TBSP Olive Oil/Sesame Oil
1 Garlic clove - Minced
Optional Ingredient - Black figs

Preheat Oven to 380 degrees Fahrenheit. mix your miso paste and maple syrup together. Take your tilapia filet and spinkle the oil and garlic over it and massage them on the fillet. Add the miso maple syrup mixture and coat the fillet with it. Let the fillet rest in this nice mix for about 10 minutes. As an option I got some black figs and sliced them thinly and placed the slices on top of the fillet.

On a baking dish place a piece of foil large enough to wrap around the Tilapia fillet. Place your fillet right in the middle and fold the foil over it to contain the heat and allow the fish to sort of poach in all the wonderful liquid it was marinating in. Bake for about 20 minutes. As an added step, since I like a little crispiness, I placed the fillet under the Broiler for about 4 minutes which caramelized those figs nicely.

To serve you can either accompany your fillet with some rice and a steamed vegetable or like me you can place it on top of a nice massaged kale salad garnished with some dried cranberries.


I will give you the other recipe on the next post. I am tired and need my beauty sleep.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Colombian Food Finally Celebrated

I saw something today that made me entirely too happy among the many things that have happened to Colombia lately. If you watched the world cup you must have seen how much Colombians love futbol (AKA soccer) and how overjoyed we all were at how well the team performed as well as what a great spirit of good sportsmanship they displayed. The joy we feel about this and many other things in life does not just come out of nowhere. We Colombians have it ingrained in our DNA to enjoy everything in the world and that includes food. Our country is known for being one of the most fertile and varied in the type of flora and fauna it possesses. This in turn has given us a wide range of vegetables and fruits, some of which do not exist anywhere else in the world. As you may be able to tell I am incredibly proud of the country where I was born and even more so with this wonderful article published by the Huffington Post celebrating 23 reason why Colombians know what is good. I have to admit I had a napkin in hand because the images just made me drool and long for the days I spent there last year with my munchkin. Anywhoo, I hope you enjoy the link and the wonderful images of the food they put up. I am still drooling and now I am off to get some food albeit not Colombian today but maybe this weekend. I leave you with some pictures I took of a wonderful meal my family and I enjoyed in Cartagena at a place called Mila Pasteleria located in the historic walled city.

 Sinfonia de Coco - Coconut Symphony
(music to my taste buds)
 Case full of many sweets I wanted to consume.
 Bariloche - Shrimp in a cream curry sauce over coconut rice
Posta Cartagenera - Beef medallions in a plum sauce over coconut rice

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Boqueria - A Little Bit of Spain in NYC

OK OK I have not gotten around to doing the ginger beer yet. I am going to get going on that between tonight and tomorrow night. What I have for you today is a little tapas food porn. As the title of this post notes this is about what has become one of my favorite places to eat in NYC which is saying a lot because there are a lot of incredible eateries and restaurants in this darn city.

 I am not sure if it is my recent trip to Barcelona or just a bit of my heritage calling back to me, but lately I just cannot get enough of this type of stuff. I love the jamon and the cheeses but overall I just like the little portions that tapas are all about. I stopped at Boqueria over the weekend and had myself a nice little treat. Some nice Vermouth (Dark Perucci, because that is my favorite one now) and The Croquetas Cremosas which come in a group of 6. Three of them are mushroom with a nice hint of truffle in them and the other three have Jamon in them. Lets just say that this is an experience much like that of Baohaus which just means I am going to start an indecent sort of affair with this place and its delicious tapas as well. With two locations in lower Manhattan this little chain has it all going on right for them. If you are in NYC and craving tapas I definitely recommend you go to be transported to Spain via taste buds.

Anywhoo, enough of my yapping here are some images of the restaurant and of my decadent treats.

Friday, July 11, 2014

DIY Challenge: Make Your Own Ginger Beer

I got really excited today for a few reasons. One was that I finally moved into my new place and everything on that front is finally starting to come together nicely. I also had a really good week at work and that is always a good thing, but the best reason of all has been a post by Food Republic on how to make your own ginger beer.

I happen to love ginger beer because it is a spicy sweet blend that titillates my taste buds and makes me do the cha cha. It also happens to be the main ingredient for some of my favorite cocktails. So far I have been at the mercy of the supermarket chains in my area which carry it erratically and expensively so you will have to forgive me if my excitement seems a bit overrated. To me this one little thing is ripe with possibilities.

Anywhoo here is the link to their recipe, which I am going to be getting going soon as I move the heavy stuff tomorrow. Just in case you need a little inspiration to make this, think that it is not only good for Dark and Stormy concoctions. My favorite is to make it sparkly with seltzer and add St. Germain to it. It is sweet and tangy and all sorts of wonderful.  If any one out there is trying this I would love to hear how it turned out for you. I will certainly post my results when I am done with it.

Ferment a batch of your own homemade ginger beer and OWN that Dark 'n Stormy.

*Photo credit Food Republic Website

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Continental Martini Bar - Great Philly Eats

Because of my job I have the distinct pleasure of traveling between Washington D.C. and Boston  at least once a month. This gives me the chance to check out some of the local places and in some instances find some new favorites. My last visit to Philadelphia, city of brotherly love led me to The Continental Martini Bar in the downton area. The decor here is best described as Jetsons meet James Bond. The food is innovative and tasty. A fusion of Asian influenced dishes with French, Latin and US cuisine.

During this visit, with it being my first time I asked the bartender for recommendations. He did not lead me wrong and told me to go with two of their most popular appetizers. I had the Korean Pork Tacos and the French Onion Dumplings. The tacos had a nice spicy kick that was not overwhelming. The pork was tender and succulent. The French onion Dumplings are best described as a deconstructed French onion soup. Both dishes were more than enough to leave me satisfied and wanting to come back to this place to continue sampling their very tempting menu. If you visit Philadelphia and are looking for more than just their cheesesteaks I definitely recommend this place.

 Korean Pork Tacos

 French Onion Soup Dumplings

Hallway leading  to the Rooftop Bar Lounge

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Sugar Shop - Brooklyn Sweetness

Last week during Memorial Day weekend here in the US, my daughter and I took a nice walk in Cobble Hill in Brooklyn. We walked on Court Street on our way to one of the local playgrounds, and on our way saw a cute sign pointing us toward a sweets shop on Baltic Street. Since we are both doomed with a very powerful sweet tooth we had to check it out. That is how she and I discovered our newest favorite candy store, Sugar Shop. This place much like Deweys in Dumbo, features some old time favorites like salt water taffy and other items like Big League Chew, Pop rocks and other candy bars. There is a little bit of everything for everyone so if you have a sweet tooth and love the feel of those old time sweet shops this is the place for you. I also have to comment on the lovely employee who helped my daughter and I, Candace. Not only was she friendly and helpful, but she also has awesome taste in vintage t-shirts. Check her out below sporting a great Voltron one.