Monthly Archives: May 2011

Cooking with Cast Iron: Salmon, Young Garlic, Yellow Oyster Mushrooms, M’smen

In my closet, I keep a cast iron pan, a Dutch oven, a Pyrex baking dish, a spatula, and a spoon. I have easy access to a kitchen this summer, and I intend to use it. My cooking implements, which will hopefully last through the next year, cost $80—I brought my knives with me from home. Stocking my pantry was similarly simple: olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, brown sugar, kosher salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, chili powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ancho chilies. Ironically, now that I have a kitchen there’s no fridge in sight. Perishables must be procured within a short window of opportunity. With that list of basic ingredients and a willingness to brave Westside Market’s crowded aisles, I should be able to cook most of my repertoire. Continue reading

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Filed under College Life, Columbia University, New York City, Recipes

Summer in the City: Marshmallow Peanut Butter Chocolate Shake at Deluxe

While eating breakfast this morning at Deluxe, I watched a man step behind the bar and start fiddling with the shake machine. I always sit at the counter, so I saw him grab a jar of Skippy Peanut Butter and a tub of Marshmallow fluff. Finishing off my three eggs, potatoes, and toast, I heard him chatting with another diner. “This is a special shake,” he explained, adding milk and a dash of chocolate syrup to the silver shake canister. “And no, I don’t work here.” “Anymore,” he added, grinning like a lazy cat as he processed his magic mix. He poured off two shot glasses worth of the Marshmallow Peanut Butter Chocolate Shake and handed one to me. Continue reading

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Filed under Columbia University, New York City, Restaurants

Summer in the City: Sheng Wang

New York is a city that has been overmapped and over-recorded; few corners remain that have not been passed over by some historian’s gaze. Within the collectively known city, however, a personal city slumbers: the individual worlds we construct that fit into the broader sense of a place: the individual cartographies we draw that trace our physical and social movements through the urban space. So even though New York City has been digitally archived and preserved, it remains possible to  walk outside the margins of the mapped world.

Canal Street dips low into the underbelly of Chinatown. Past the Manhattan Bridge and its triumphal arch, Canal leaves behind the touristed Chinatown alleys. By the corner of Eldridge Street, exposed brick shines through chipping paint; a luncheonette sign swings on its hinges, lazy in the late afternoon sun. For it is still afternoon at 6’oclock on Friday, when working men start heading for dinner. At 27 Eldridge, Sheng Wang swallows up a few lonely workers; they stop in for Fujian noodles, either hand-pulled or peeled off a block of dough. Cysts form in Chinatown around which the rest of the city blithely expands. Sheng Wang occupies one such pocket, suspended in a field of dense fluid: it bathes in its own special soup, a broth that tastes more like animal than any one particular animal species. It is a battered, happy place that has been left behind. Continue reading

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Filed under Dining Suggestions, New York City, Restaurants

Edible (but not Incredible) Eggplant in New Haven

by Andrew Giambrone, Yale University

As someone of both Chinese and Italian heritage, the eggplant has always been a staple in my family’s cuisine, from stewed eggplant on my mother’s side to eggplant parmesan on my father’s. But even my relatives sometimes forget that eggplant, like the tomato, is actually a fruit; beneath its bitter taste and purple skin lie small, soft seeds. The fruit is capable of absorbing large amounts of cooking fats and sauces, which allows for very rich dishes. Hence, it’s no surprise that many restaurants try to compensate for the eggplant’s bitterness by dousing it in oil or sauce.

While visiting Yale for commencement this weekend, I ordered eggplant specials from two eateries in New Haven—Basil and Alpha Delta Pizza—which offer eggplant with garlic sauce ($7.95) and an eggplant version of the Wenzel ($8.95) respectively. Sadly, each prioritized oily sauces above fresh fruit and so fell short of the balance between bitter and sweet that I expect from eggplant dishes at home. Continue reading

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On Amsterdam: Nikko Opening, Bagutta Closed

Sneaky summer openings and closings:

Heading back to Broadway from 125th Street, I walked up Amsterdam Avenue and spotted construction on a new restaurant: Nikko. Continue reading


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Triathloning: Freestyling to Dinner

The word “marathoning” is of dubious validity; triathloning just seems made-up. In order to continue my Friday series on endurance sports though, I needed to adjust the name to reflect the new subject matter. My next race will not be a marathon. Instead, I plan on completing a triathlon in August—something under the half-Iron Man distance, most likely a one mile swim, 40 mile bike ride, and eight mile run. I’m a capable cyclist and an experienced distance runner. Unfortunately, I’ve allowed my swimming skills to lapse over the last six years. Struggling to complete a seemingly mediocre workout is a humbling experience; it is easy to forget the initial difficulties of a new exercise regimen. Hopefully, in six weeks I will have become a significantly more proficient swimmer. Continue reading

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Tour de Hamdel: Juiced Edition

Official rules and regulations located here.

Last time I had the Cheese Tease.

The Jose Special. You know what it is, right? It’s that thing where Jose Canseco comes up to you in the locker room waggling a big needle and offers to give you an injection you won’t ever forget. In his controversial memoir Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big, Canseco talks about his own steroid use, and then starts naming names. It’s as predictable as a Mark McGwire home run circa 1998—that one handed backswing caught many a camera flash. Canseco claims he shot up teammates Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez, and Ivan Rodriguez with anabolic steroids. The Jose Special made baseball exciting for a new generation of fans. I remember following McGwire’s ’98  streak—as a second grader, the world of professional baseball seemed populated by mythical heroes, giants that rose above the ranks of mere mortals. When McGwire broke Roger Maris’s single season home run record with a steroid-powered blast that ricocheted off the upper deck, I probably sacrificed a bull to Zeus. Continue reading

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