Archive for the tag 'food'

fridays

Source: Fridays

Thank the lord for America’s independent, free press, delving into the weightiest and most controversial of issues, serving as a public watchdog, the fourth estate, protecting our freedoms… and eating mozzarella sticks for 14 hours so we don’t have to.

In case you haven’t heard, T.G.I. Friday’s launched a new promotion at select locations, giving patrons the chance to eat an unlimited amount of appetizers for just $10. Creatively, it’s called “Endless Appetizers.”

I know what you’re thinking. “Psha. Endless? Yeah, right. They’ll crack down on you by hour three and start demanding you order something or get out.” Especially in the no-nonsense, rough-and-tumble Sheepshead Bay location, right?

That’s what Gawker’s Caity Weaver thought too. So she did her journalistic duty, trekked down to Harkness Avenue, ordered some endless mozzarella sticks (you only get to choose one of seven appetizers – madness!), and sat their for four… teen… freakin’… hours.

Forget Israel. Forget the Ukraine. Somebody get this lady a Pulitzer and tell all those other reporters to go home.

What resulted from the effort was a whopping 6,000-word opus to utter self-contempt in a nearly minute-by-minute breakdown of her stay. All-in-all, Weaver didn’t eat all that much; just 7 orders, or 32 mozzarella sticks in total. That’s an amount most of fat, big-mouthed jerks behind keyboards think is just pitiful, but Weaver attributes it to the fact that Friday’s mozzarella sticks, which have been gussied in up in vain with a Parmesan and Romano dusting, were just god awful. And I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt, because by the end of it she so clearly hated herself in a way that suggested she ate three times that amount.

The conclusion? Well, the Endless Appetizers deal is unlimited, although Weaver potentially sabotaged the report by disclosing to management before she began that she was there to test the policy. So further research must be done. (We’re on it.)

Other takeaways? Friday’s mozzarella sticks reportedly suck. Heinz makes you do too much to participate in their back-of-the-bottle promotions. The daytime service at Fridays is nice; in the evening, not so much. Weaver doesn’t care much for Plumb Beach channel, which she describes thusly, “as nice as any scenic bay or rainbow gasoline puddle.” There appear to be a few creeps who hang out there and say weird things to pretty girls covered in mozzarella-stick-grease.

Oh, and Caity Weaver is funny as hell. Read this thing. It was the best part of my day.

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THE BITE: Most people know by now that Anatolian Gyro has moved off of Sheepshead Bay Road, around the corner to East 16th Street. What many might not realize is that they’ve also added a few new items to the menu.

Among them? The octopus salad ($13.50), sure to become a staple of this writer’s diet.

Let’s back up to the new digs. We don’t usually write about a restaurant’s physical space on The Bite, but the storefront deserves some attention. It’s very industrial chic, with bare cement floors, natural lighting and spartan decor.

Some might call it “Williamsburg-esque,” but I – and the restaurant’s owner, Metin Turan – call it pragmatic. Flooded out during Superstorm Sandy, Turan went for the hardscrabble look not just because it’s what passes for cool, but because it’ll be easy to clean out and restore if another flood occurs, allowing him to get back to business that much faster. Other local business owners should take note; pragmatic, flood resilient design should be the new normal around here.

With the location change, Turan has also moved around some staff, swapping talent here and there between Anatolian and his other area business, the Amberjack dinner-cruise ship.

That’s where the octopus salad and other menu changes come in. I ate it once shortly after the Amberjack’s opening and have craved it since. However, the Amberjack switched to a chartered operation, which means I couldn’t just walk in and demand my tentacled delight unless I had a bar mitzvah to celebrate or something.

Fortunately, it’s now available for landlubbers at whim at Anatolian – and it was just as good as I remembered.

Served in a large, deep dish and hearty enough to be a meal by itself, the salad isn’t just tasty, it’s a visual treat. Mixed greens are tossed with tomato, cucumber, purple onion and red peppers – and all the colors pop. An entire char-grilled octopus is sliced and spread over the top. It’s finished off with a proper dousing of vinegar and olive oil, with some fresh lemon juice and black pepper to boot.

The star here is, of course, the octopus. It was perfectly cooked – not chewy, not mushy; the large and mid-sized chunks a tender treat infused with a smoky flavor from grilling over hot coals. The tiniest of tentacles charred over the flames provided all the crunchiness in this dish, and it was marvelous. Croutons need not apply.

The whole thing is lent additional flavor by the vinaigrette. It’s a pretty standard dressing, but the freshness of the pepper stood out and was complemented by the fresh lemon juice, and both tamed any overpowering flavor of char from the octopus without wiping it out. It also seems the restaurant’s chefs have gotten the portion size down to a science. When I finished the last bits on my dish, there was not a drop of the dressing stewing at the bottom, a common faux pas at establishments looking to compensate for a lesser salad.

But Anatolian? No, nothing to compensate for here.

Anatolian Gyro, 2623 East 16th Street, between Avenue Z and Sheepshead Bay Road,  (718) 769-4754.

The Bite is Sheepshead Bites’ weekly column where we explore the foodstuffs of Sheepshead Bay. Each week we check out a different offering from one of the many restaurants, delis, food carts, bakeries, butchers, fish mongers, or grocers in our neighborhood. If it’s edible, we’ll take a bite.

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A pumpkin manti from Nargis.

Nargis Cafe (2818 Coney Island Avenue) is in the limelight again, this time with the New York Times writing up the Uzbeki restaurant’s mouth-watering cuisine, and tracing the business from humble beginnings into a jewel of Sheepshead Bay.

The Times isn’t the only one to discover the central-Asian cuisine. In February, the FX show The Americans used the space to film some scenes there.

Of course, we’ve been on to Nargis’ exceptional delights for years, already having written up reviews of pumpkin-stuffed Manti and the spiced fries. But there’s always room for more attention.

In their article, the Times takes a peek in the back of this restaurant that serves “denizens of outer Brooklyn.”

Everything except a few desserts brought in from a local bakery is made in-house, including beef noodles pulled by hand, and dumpling casings and savory pastry crusts rolled early in the morning, long before the cafe opens. Mr. Bangiev performed the pulling and rolling and almost all the cooking himself in the fledgling years of Nargis. Even though he has entrusted the kitchen to his cooks, Mr. Bangiev can still be found each day and evening at the cafe, immersed in every aspect of his restaurant.

Kudos to Nargis for catching the Times’ fickle, Manhattan-centric eye.

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Sixteen months after Superstorm Sandy shuttered the Sheepshead Bay T.G.I. Fridays (3181 Harkness Avenue), the franchise is set to reopen with a “re-imaged” interior intended to reflect a New York City vibe.

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Located on the banks of Plumb Beach Channel, the tides of Superstorm Sandy caused three feet of flood water to barrel through the popular bar and eatery near the United Artists movie theater. The devastation required a long cleanup, and the operators used it as an opportunity to become the first New York-area Fridays to roll out a new interior design that will soon be seen at locations across the five boroughs.

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Some of the touches in the new interior include a dramatically redesigned bar, an open kitchen and an acrylic panel depicting the city’s skyline. That’s not to mention the sweeping waterfront views through the floor-to-ceiling windows, with cafe-like seating.

While out of commission, Friday’s reassigned much of its 126-strong workforce to other locations around the city.

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The restaurant is set to open its doors to customers on Monday, April 28.

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All photos courtesy of T.G.I. Fridays.

The burning of the chametz. Source: Dudy Tuchfeld / Flickr

The burning of the chametz. Source: Dudy Tuchfeld / Flickr

Beginning next week, in advance of the Jewish commemoration of Passover, there will be special Sanitation collections for residents who live within Community Board (CB) 15. You can find out if you live within the boundaries of CB15 by clicking on this link.

Next Monday, April 14, all of CB15 will receive regular garbage and recycling collection. You should place all your garbage out for collection on Sunday evening, April 13, after 5:00 p.m. Recycling and regular garbage need to be separated.

For your convenience, a public Dumpster will be located at the following locations on the morning of Monday, April 14, and will be removed before nightfall:

  • James Madison High School Sports Field on the south side of Quentin Road between East 27th Street and East 28th Street
  • In front of 2810 Nostrand Avenue, corner of Kings Highway and Nostrand Avenue

Burning Chametz

People in charge of burning Chametz (food deemed unkosher for Passover), either in front of a home or a synagogue, must ensure that the fires are small and controlled so that the Fire Department does not need to be called to respond to an “out of control fire.” Here are some rules that must be observed for the burning of chametz.

  • All fires must be supervised by a mature, responsible adult
  • No paint thinner, aerosol cans, sprays, lighter fluid or any other flammable liquids are to be used to ignite the fire. These items have caused accidents and are extremely dangerous
  • Water, fire extinguishers, or sand should be readily available at the site of the chametz burning
  • Do not burn chametz enclosed in aluminum foil
  • Chametz should be put at the curb in plastic bags. This will eliminate the necessity for retrieving and washing out garbage cans
  • Do not park cars on smoldering embers

Your cooperation in following the schedule and observing these safety precautions will expedite the pickup. The chametz burning should end at 11:36 a.m., Monday, April 14.

Time to make the... (Source: NYTimes.com)

Time to make the… (Source: NYTimes.com)

So is it Shaikh’s Place or Donut Shoppe? I’ve referred to it interchangeably for years, always corrected by someone who is adamant about one or the other. Even Yelp hedges its bets.

While the New York Times is hardly the arbiter of anything Southern Brooklyn, it’s going with Shaikh’s Place.

The 24-hour donut and coffee shop at 1503 Avenue U, known for out-of-this-world, light, airy donuts (who needs the extra letters?) and a somewhat gritty storefront, got the Sunday Times treatment over the weekend, earning high praise from customers and veteran food writer Rachel Wharton.

Wharton covers the background of the place and its curious owner, a former electrical engineering student who fell in love with the rounded, holed confection.

The Shaikh of the place is Shaikh Kalam, 53, a Calcutta native who bought the shop (also 53) from its original owner, Carlo Radicella, in 1994, after Mr. Radicella had a stroke.

Mr. Kalam arrived from India in 1981 to study electrical engineering, but doughnuts interfered. He found a job at the place in 1983, when it was still known as the Donut Shoppe, “and I stayed.”

Many agree that when Mr. Kalam took over as head baker for Mr. Radicella in the 1980s, doughnut magic was made.

Mr. Kalam tried to make the sweets lighter and less greasy, tinkering with the temperature of the frying oil and the time he let the dough rise. “There’s a lot of little knickknack to it,” he mused. He said, however, that the most important step was simply that he makes 150 dozen fresh every day, beginning at 5 a.m.

Apparently, everyone the Times spoke to agrees that Kalam does a better job with the donuts than the original owner. I can’t say – I’ve only been eating from Shaikh’s for the past seven or so years. And it’s ruined me for any of the Dunkin’ crap.

As for the old signage and the interior, which the Times says hasn’t been renovated for more than half a century, Kalam is unconcerned.

“I might paint,” said Mr. Kalam, who apparently does not worry much about décor. “Once they come in, I don’t lose customers — they’re keepers.”

I get that. Genius needs no frills.

Read the full write-up.

matchaTHE BITE: Kung Fu Tea is a bubble tea chain that has been spreading, with several locations in Queens, a few around Manhattan and Brooklyn, and locations in four other states. Sheepshead Bay’s own Kung Fu Tea is at 1422 Avenue U, just off East 15th Street.

Bubble tea originated in Taichung, Taiwan, in the 1980s. The “bubble” part of the name is an Anglicized form of “boba” which refers to tapioca pearls in the tea, and is Chinese slang for “large breasts.” Finding this out creeped me out a little. Bubble tea comes with a handful of boba at the bottom of the cup, which are not very large, but slimy-on-the-outside, chewy-on-the-inside balls of starch. Also, bubble tea has primarily been fashionable with young people, including kids.

In any case, it’s up for debate which tea house in particular came up with it, but bubble tea was first made with hot tea and tapioca pearls, mixed with milk and sweet syrup. The trend spread through East and Southeast Asia during the 1990s, becoming popular in Western culture as well during the past decade. Menus now include options of fruit flavors added as syrups or blended fresh fruits, powdered or fresh milk, powdered or brewed green, black or white tea, or no tea at all, or coffee, a variety of additional toppings such as red or mung beans, jelly cubes in different flavors and shapes, pudding in the bottom of your cup, not to mention different sizes and flavors of tapioca pearls. Your options will depend on which tea shop you’re at, but basically, the choices have become endless. At Kung Fu Tea you can specify if you want less, little, or no ice, and less, little, or no sugar. Freedom like this can be exhilarating and exhausting.

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Mycobacterium marinum infection of the arm of a fish-tank worker.

An example of the infection in its earlier stages. These spots can grow into lesions and spread into the muscle tissue, making surgery necessary. (Source: CDC)

At least 30 people have been diagnosed with a bacterial skin infection after handling raw fish at Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens Chinese markets, spurring the New York City Department of Health to warn residents to take precautions.

The department is urging anyone who handles live or raw fish to wear waterproof gloves and to avoid direct contact with the seafood. There is no risk from consuming the food once it has been cooked, the agency notes.

The bacteria that causes the infection, Mycobacterium marinum, leads to symptoms including tender swelling and red bumps, as well as pain and difficulty moving fingers. It enters the body through cuts or injuries while handling live or raw seafood. Although easy to combat early on, if left untreated it could significantly worsen and require surgical treatment.

So far, cases have been linked to all three boroughs. The case found in Brooklyn was traced back to a Sunset Park market.

If you believe you have symptoms of the infection, you can call the Health Department’s Bureau of Communicable Disease at (347) 396-2600 and ask to speak to a physician.

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To say we’re late with this news would be an understatement. Vittoria Seafood and Grill opened a week before A Taste of Sheepshead Bay in January, so my mind was elsewhere and I forgot to report it. But, alas, Vittoria is here, it’s open, and so far I’m hearing good things.

Located at 3081 Emmons Avenue, Vittoria replaces Jumpin’ Bean, which closed in October. It’s owned by one of the former partners of the Avenue U staple La Trattoria, which he left to launch the new eatery, as well as a colleague one of the former partners of OPM further down Emmons.

Have you been to Vittoria? What did you think?

Correction: The second partner in the venture was not a partner in OPM, as previously reported.

The author of an upcoming cookbook took up temporary residence in Brighton Beach to work on the project, and her experience spurred her to declare the seaside neighborhood “one of the world’s best places to write a cookbook” in Food & Wine magazine.

Jill Donenfeld’s forthcoming cookbook is about toast, which she calls “the perfect meal,” making her immediately suspect in my book (c’mon, pizza is the perfect meal and toast is just the thing you shove in your facehole when you’re rushing to work). But I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt because she knows Southern Brooklyn is awesome.

Anyway, Donenfeld locked herself up in an apartment abutting the boardwalk for three months to write the book.

“I like the feeling of being a foreigner,” she told the magazine. “It’s very quiet within, even though there is so much new stimulation. It’s a great recipe for inspiration.”

Among the things unique to the area that helped her get work done was the proximity to the boardwalk, where she could run and clear her mind, and the accessibility and affordability of smoked fish, with all its “brain-boosting omega-3s.”

She also found inspiration exploring the Eastern European influence of the area, including discovering kvas and a vegan pate called mtsvane lobio (I’ll have to try that one – any recommendations?).

Oh, and banyas… where, post-sauna, she was stuffed with more smoked sturgeon.

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