Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Comida Mexicana Taco Truck, Carrboro, NC

In the town of Carrboro, there are two taco trucks, one by Fitch Lumber, the other by Cliff's Meat Market.
I went to the one by Cliff's at 11pm Sunday night and grabbed a lengua taco. I am used to homemade corn tortillas, but for two bucks, the taco was good, nicely filled with delicious beef tongue.

100 West Main Street
Carboro, NC 27510

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Mama Dip's Country Cooking Restaurant, Chapel Hill, NC

We went to Mama Dip's Country Cooking Restaurant in Chapel Hill for dinner Saturday evening.
It was my only chance to get Carolina style BBQ on this trip because most places were closed on Sunday.
We started with an order of hush puppies. They were really good- nicely fried, light, and flavorful.

I ordered the plate of NC BBQ ribs and fried chicken. The ribs were sweet and vinegary, and the pork was nice and tender. The fried chicken was delicious- the skin was really nicely seasoned.
My sides were okra & tomatoes and collard greens with bacon.

I tried my friend Kelly's plate of side items. She got the mac & cheese which was really good, but the best item by far was the yams. They were lightly sweetened, and not heavily candied.

We also ordered a side of fried green tomatoes with our dinners. They were also very good.

408 W. Rosemary Street
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
(919) 942-5837

Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen, Chapel Hill, NC

One morning, we went to the Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen, a small drive through just off the highway for breakfast. This inconspicuous location served simply perfecy buttermilk biscuits that were large, light, fluffy, and delicious.
I ordered the fried chicken biscuit, which was nicely fried and crunchy on the outside, but the meat still took second place to the spectacular biscuit.
Here is a slightly snooty take on the place from public radio. (Realplayer media)
1305 E. Franklin
Chapel Hill, NC

Monday, April 28, 2008

Locopops, Chapel Hill NC

In Chapel Hill, North Carolina, I visited the amazing Locopops, a local chain of gourmet Mexican popsicles called paletas that had a writeup in Food & Wine last year.
They specialize in two kinds of popsicles, paletas de aqua made with water/juice and paletas de crema made with milk. They use local organically grown ingredients in many of the flavors.
When I went one day, we tried two of the aqua flavors: pomegranate tangerine & mango hibiscus. Both were really good, but I definitely favored the mango hibiscus which was a great flavor combination.

I was compelled to try more Locopops, so on the following day, I went back, and this time, I went for a crema flavor, chocolate curry coconut. Again, the flavor combination was delicious.
There were numerous other interesting flavors available when we went: apricot chipotle, mojito, thin mint, pineapple basil, and Mexican chocolate. But alas, no time to try them all on this trip.
What can I say, "I'm loco for Locopops".

Friday, April 25, 2008

il laboratorio del gelato, NYC

While wandering around the Lower East Side with BrookLen, we went to il laboratorio del gelato for some delicious gelato. All the gelato is handmade on-site. I had the Earl Grey and black sesame gelato: the Earl Grey reminded me of the ice cream from the Takashimaya Tea Box Cafe, and the black sesame was really yummy. BrookLen got the coconut and lemon. We tried the avocado, but it seemed really rich.

95 Orchard St.
(between Broome & Delancey Sts)
New York, NY 10002
(212) 343 9922

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Flushing Food Safari, Little Pepper

Next stop on the food safari was the basement Sichuan restaurant Xiao La Jiao (aka Little Pepper). We started with a couple of cold appetizers: ma la (spicy) beef tendon with the wonderful Sichuan peppercorn - what I call "the numbing spice" and cucumbers marinated in loads of minced garlic.

We also got two bowls of the Sichuan red oil wontons, and fried rice with dried minced pork.

The one main dish we ordered was the tea-smoked duck -- so smoky it tasted almost like bacon. Mmmm bacon...

The waitress definitely was disapproving that we ordered so little food... even though it was 3 pm, and we told her we were going to eat somewhere else afterward.

Only a Chinese person would look at this table and think it wasn't enough food.

Little Pepper
133-43 Roosevelt Ave.,
Flushing, Queens

Flushing Food Safari: Corner 28

Before we all sat down to dumplings at Best North Dumpling, we grabbed a snack on the street outside the Main Street subway station as we waited for Mr. & Mrs. BrookLEn.

The mini Peking duck in mantou were only 75 cents each from the window at Corner 28. From the same window they also sold freshly steamed zhucangfen (steamed rice noodle wraps) with either char siu (roast pork), shrimp, or dried shrimp.

They also sold whole roast crispy skin pigs - in fact prices were slashed to just $98 a pig!

A few windows up the road we had also gotten a scallion pancake -- nice and chewy and hot off the grill, so hot you burned your fingers a bit trying to rip it apart.

Corner 28
4028 Main St
Flushing, NY 11354
(718) 886-6628

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Best North Dumpling Shop, Flushing, NY

We all went to Chinatown in Flushing, Queens this past Sunday to try various places in the area. We started at the Best Northern Dumpling Shop, which was a stand in a small mall.
We ordered 3 kinds of dumplings: mutton dumplings (left), fennel & pork dumplings (below), and leek & aquatic food dumplings.
All of the dumplings were clearly handmade with nice thick skins. They were all really juicy as well, indicating freshness. I really liked the pork & leek ones; as I recall, Fougoo liked the lamb dumplings.
Great prices, too- for 30 dumplings- $10.

135-08 Roosevelt Ave A4
Flushing, NY 11354
(917) 834-4991

Monday, April 21, 2008

DeFonte's Sandwich Shop, Red Hook, NYC

This weekend in Brooklyn, we drove over into the Red Hook neighborhood to go to DeFonte's Sandwich Shop. The place is a favorite for cab drivers in the area, but since it's not near a subway station, having a car makes it much easier to get to.

Lamphole and I shared two small sandwiches - the first had an omelet with peppers and onions - delicious with a little Sriracha sauce. The bread was nice- the crust a little crisp with sesame seeds.

Our second sandwich had roast turkey, fried eggplant, mozzarella, peppers and onions- a great combination of flavors. There was also just the right amount of juiciness such that if you weren't careful, it'd drip down your arm.

379 Columbia St
(between Coles St & Luquer St)
Brooklyn, NY 11231
(718) 625-8052

Monday, April 14, 2008

Ban Thai, Baltimore

It's Thai Restaurant week in DC-Baltimore and the same goes for our blog. Tonight, driven by a fever for the flavor of fresh Thai Mangosteens, I went to Ban Thai restaurant in Baltimore.
It was not "redefined" like Born in Vienna- rather, it was more straight up Thai cuisine.

Their Basil Duck dish was delicious and crispy.
We also had the Beef Panang which was surrounded by a forest of un-Thai broccoli. The Pad Thai was nice as well.

Certainly the highlight was the Thai fruit plate. We got Longans, Rambutans, and of course, Mangosteens. Some crazy customers didn't finish their plates, so of course, we snagged some of their unpeeled longans. Sad, I know.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Born Restaurant, Vienna, VA

Today was Songkran, the Thai New Year, and we went to Born Restaurant in Vienna, VA for lunch.
For starters we got the Chicken Sate which came with a nice peanut-lemon-basil sauce. We also got the Ginger Chicken Dumplings, and I had a nice cup of Tom Yum Goong.

For an entree, I got the Olive and Basil Duck. This was delicious. It was served on top of a Malaysian Roti bread, and the duck had a crispy exterior to it that went well with the salty and spicy basil sauce.

One of my group got the Soft Shell Crab special which was deep fried and was smothered in a sweet and spicy sauce.

My other friend got the Pad Thai which, while it came with chicken, had secret bits of pork that gave it a nice flavor.

To commemorate the Thai New Year, the Thai Embassy specially brought over fruit from Thailand to be served in several restaurants in the area, and Born was one of them.
For dessert we we served Rambutans, Longans, and Mangosteens.
The rambutans were like lychees with a spikey skin, but not as sweet. The Longans or "dragon eyes" were smaller like grapes.
I was most looking forward to trying the Mangosteens, and they were fantastic. They looked like bulbs of garlic, but wow- the flavor was like a cross of an orange and a lychee. I hope they start selling these in stores in the US soon.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Girls Cooking Night: Fruit and Meat

Last week's Girls Cooking Night theme was fruit and meat - excellent theme inspired by 1000yregg love of the combo. I have to say we all thought it was one of the best meals yet.

To the left, is brownie's scallop and mango ceviche. Clockwise, above: Melissa made a salad with perfectly crisp and smoky bacon and cranberries; Debbie made tacos with chicken, mango, and roasted red peppers; Kim made a Moroccan lamb stew with apricot and lemon; and I made a Cuban pork and banana stew.

For dessert we decided eggs counted as a meat, so Marian's decadent chocolate mousse served with strawberries ended the meal.

Finally, because he was too cute to resist, we've allowed a new male member to girls cooking night... Welcome little Matthew!

Faidley's, Lexington Market, Baltimore

A few weeks ago 1000yregg took us to Lexington Market, on the edge of West Baltimore, to Faidley's. They sell all kinds of fresh seafood and have a huge raw bar, but we were there for Baltimore's Best crabcakes.

The things that distinguish Faidley's from the rest are: 1) they mix in the "mustard" - the yellow tomalley from inside the crab and 2) they deep-fry the crabcake but without any filler or breading, and 3) they use only Maryland crab. All lump, all deliciousness!

Incidentally, Lexington Market is amazing. It's been around since 1783 and has managed to thus far escape gentrification. Pretty much the only white people in the whole place were concentrated at Faidley's. Not a cafe, tea shop, cupcake joint or gourmet store in sight. Instead you'll find endless stalls of hog maws, pig feet, fried chicken gizzards, and chitlins. In addition to Faidley's, two other Baltimore institutions you'll find there are Polock Johnny's hotdogs and Berger's Bakery - home of the goodness that is the Berger cookie.

Faidley Seafood
(410) 727-4898

World Famous Lexington Market
400 W. Lexington Street
Baltimore, MD 21201

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Cork Wine Bar, DC

This weekend, I met up with a friend, Mike, in DC's U street corridor before a show at the Black Cat. We met up at Cork Wine Bar which has been getting some good reviews since it opened in the last few months.
We arrived pretty early and got a good table, but as the course of the evening progressed, the place got really crowded. I started with a glass of Domaine La Manarine, Côtes du Rhône 2004, and we started ordering food.
At Cork, all items are served to be shared which is my favorite way to eat. We started with the Rosemary Chicken Liver Bruschetta. It came with a tasty shallot marmalade.

We got the cheese plate. It had a Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk- which was nice & creamy, a
Pecorino Ginepro- a firm cheese, and a delicious Twig Farm goat cheese.

The Potato and Leek Gratin with gruyere was good- I liked how the potato was diced up in this piping hot dish so you had more surface to be coated with the cheese.

We got two main meat dishes. The first was the Red-Wine Braised Lamb with pomegranate, radicchio, and spinach. The lamb was really well cooked, and you gotta love fruit and meat combinations.

This is the Roasted Eggplant mixed with chili and mint. At this point, I moved on to my second glass of wine, this time a Château La Bourrée, Côtes de Castillon 2005.

The second meat plate was the Duck Confit served on a mushroom polenta. It was also nicely prepared.

We also had a very good side of Caramelized Sunchokes aka the Jerusalem artichoke. It reminded me of parsnips. Yummy.

Dessert was pretty good at Cork as well. I got what was called a Grapefruit Financier- which was like cornbread with grapefruit- really light and very delicious.

Mike got the Goat Cheesecake which was not at all heavy to eat. All in all, Cork was a really good experience with good wine and outstanding food.