Tag Archives: Barbecue

Pekmez Barbecue Sauce

On my journey to Brighton Beach, I bought a jar of pekmez. Pekmez is a molasses made from fruit must, usually grapes. I tried it instead of brown sugar in a bowl of oatmeal. Less viscous than ordinary molasses, it tastes mild, fruity, like a dark corn syrup. Perfect for a special July 4th barbecue sauce. I sautéed pork chops and dressed them with the sauce. We ate spinach and baked potatoes and coconut popsicles, too. Continue reading

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Bye Bye Junior Year: Oven-Barbecue Brisket, Collard Greens, Beans, Gluten-Free Cornbread

Freddie Gibbs and Tupac were bumping in the suite. The kitchen was filthy from three months of tough love. My friend Frankie and I were getting ready for an end of the semester blow-out. We wanted to cook a big piece of meat as a parting gift to our trusty oven. After I suggested brisket, collard greens, beans, and cornbread followed in quick succession. Whatever my lack of technical expertise in the kitchen, I do know how to make barbecue. My credentials: a childhood in St. Louis, plenty of meat and threes and pit roasts in the Carolinas, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee. But in the oven? I shall speak no secrets. (No seriously, it’s not that hard to do.)

In the final analysis, it was a very good year. I accused Red Farm and Rouge et Blanc of colonial politics, wrote about two wonderful Caribbean restaurants, Freda’s and Sisters, and decried Epicerie Boulud and Untitled’s sandwich nostalgia. At Poseidon Bakery, I found baklava fit for Homer. At RUB BBQ, the city’s best ribs. I had a chat with Schatzie the Butcher, talked Fuzhou food, and walked to East Harlem for tacos. One Saturday morning, I slurped borscht at Streecha. I looked at Mister Softee thirteen different ways. From a licorice shop in the West Village to Per Se, I enjoyed a thorough education outside of the classroom. I went to Flushing. A lot. In Branson and Nashville, I took the classroom into the restaurant. My academic interests—in New Historicism, postcolonialism, Modernism, and American regional literature—crystallized and inflected my food writing, probably beyond the tolerance of many of my readers. Whether you’re my friend, family, or a stranger, I want to extend a sincere “thank you” (and a recipe or three) for reading. I look forward to another year of criticism. Continue reading


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

Notes From Nashville (Debating Food)

Notes Day 1:

Rotier’s: Jason orders the meat and two, roast beef, thick hunks of tender meat in thick gravy, tastes brown and beefy, coleslaw, very crunch in sweet sour cream, and hashbrown casserole, a recipe out of Fanny Farmer or a spiral bound church cookbook, iced tea, grilled buttery French bread. Emily orders fried chicken, green beans, hashbrown casserole. Beck orders steak dinner, fries, beer-battered cheese sticks. The interior is dark, smoky as though viewed through crackled microfilm, booths, a tv showing the LeBron, college kids bound in coats drinking beer, a waitress with a tired chubby face and a tired smile, thin brown hair, pay at the register to a gristly man graybearded. Neon signs outside read STEAK, SEAFOOD, it looks like a pit but is a friendly cavern.

A car packed with suitcases packed with printed articles, new news magazines, text books, Krugman, Nye, Okun top the shelf, boxes and boxes of granola bars, bottled water, clementines. We make pit stops at Love’s gas station, drink coke and watch the Tennessee sunset, listen to the Black Keys’ El Camino and Nirvana’s In Utero taking highway 24 down south. Then we cross into Nashville a great city of glittering light in the dark south (you can see the motherfucking constellations out the car window). Beck and Emily chat about television shows (Gossip Girl, Project Runway) and gossip about debaters on the national circuit. I sag in the backseat, trying to reach that nirvana of half-wakefulness rocking into the seatbelt and sleeping to the Black Keys’ “Sister.”

We’re staying at the Holiday Inn Vanderbilt, which is really almost swallowed into the campus. There is a towel folded in the shape of a swan on each bed. Debaters stroll the lobby lugging big suitcases overstuffed and carrying plastic tubs. There is a discrete taxonomy of debaters. It is easy to identify the policy debaters by their masculine affect, square jaws, tousled hair, cigarette stained teeth, beanies, fat cheeks, laptop dazed donut glazed look, and coffee swilling slump across lobby couches just chilling and shooting shit. The extempers by their careful grooming and intense walk. Extempers walk fast and with a purpose. They are pointy, driven, intense, aware of their intention and ready to fulfill it. There are less of them and they all know each other, so it’s like a perverse family. The LDers are the most attractive, impeccable, smooth and sly, genuinely nice or just plain slimey, and always white toothed and scrubbed nosehair plucked Gillette Max or whatever shaved smooth close to the cheekbones, giving their blue steel looks and ready for rebuttals. And then there are the debate coaches. The men have bottlebrush gray mustaches and craggy blue eyes, carry battered leather briefcases, smoke cigarillos. The women are either homemakers of the 1950s stereotype gotten old with platinum blonde hair and excess makeup around the lips, rouged and tanned cosmetically, or young women who are looking for or escaping from likewise boyfriends.

It is 10:30 and Emily has begun to file. In the connecting room I hear the punctuated click click click of a stapler sampling hundreds and hundreds of newspaper articles. Continue reading

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RUB BBQ Review Supplement: Multimedia

In my last review of the semester, I call RUB BBQ  “New York’s only sincere barbecue joint, the only spot where the anonymity of city life slips into an ecstatic rejoinder of recognition.”

Here’s the music that inspired the review.

Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth

“Mid-August at Sourdough Mountain Lookout” by Gary Snyder

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Filed under Columbia University, Reviews

Marathoning: Back to Basics

This summer, I injured my iliotibial band. From June to August, I walked and swam to maintain my cardiovascular fitness while I went through withdrawal. Running is an addiction like any other; it requires regular feeding. After adopting an extensive stretching and strengthening routine, I finally began to build my mileage. Although I had been injured previously and taken time off from running, I had never been forced to curtail my activity so dramatically. Back at square one, I had my moments of weakness: I insisted that I was done with running, that I would never run again, that I was finished as a runner, that I needed to move on with my life and forget the joy of running. But once a runner, always a runner. Continue reading

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Filed under Columbia University, Dining Suggestions, New York City, Restaurants, Running

Smoked Pork Shoulder, Skillet Cornbread, Cauliflower

Sunday morning, we rubbed down a pork shoulder, started a fire, and let smoke slowly coax meat into submission. With all afternoon to while away (over Scrabble games, teen garden party supervision, and other such petit-bougie tasks), we prepared a skillet cornbread (complete with sun dried tomatoes and mushrooms on the top) and steamed a head of cauliflower. When dinner takes all day, anticipation reaches a breaking point. As the carving knife slid through bark and smoke ring and collagenous flesh, I could barely contain my appetite. In this video, we demonstrate how to make Sunday dinner last from morning till night, no sweat necessary.

Look for our short documentary, In the Most Unlikely Places: Eating Somewhere South, coming soon to a computer near you.

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The College Critic On Youtube: Hot Maple Corn

Check out our new Youtube channel here!

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be producing a series of short videos for Alimentum. My brother, a more artistically inclined individual than myself, will handle the videography and editing. I’ll take care of the writing. To boost our production value, we bought a new camera and boom microphone. Here’s a sample we shot of barbecuing at home—we wanted to test out the camera and practice putting clips together in a coherent fashion:

My hot maple corn experiment didn’t turn out as expected—the syrup and cayenne pepper imparted little flavor to the corn, because they failed to percolate through the inner husks. Instead of grilling the corn with the other ingredients, try making a buttery spread for the table.

Hot Maple Corn: Continue reading

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