Archive for the tag 'the bite'

seaweed

THE BITE: Today on The Bite, it’s seaweed time!

Seaweed comes in many varieties as it is an umbrella term for all species of ocean plants, and it can be prepared many ways. The one pictured here is Korean kim (or sometimes spelled gim, pronounced with a hard “g”), which is actually a type of red algae. It is harvested in cold waters usually during the winter, and is boiled and dried in big lumpy masses.

This is the same stuff that gets fried up to make Welsh laverbread, or left in big plain sheets as nori to roll Japanese sushi. The type we have here is a Korean side dish where paper-thin sheets are toasted with sesame oil, cut into little rectangles and seasoned with salt. Not only is kim a popular dish in Korea, it is also the last name of about 21 percent of the population there.

Some people, including myself at times, can be averse to seaweed because of its slimy coldness, but this is a whole different textural experience. Gim is super crispy at first bite, sometimes leaving little green flakes behind. If you eat it too slowly, the heat inside your mouth makes it seem to melt on your tongue, which can be counted as a point for or against it, depending on what you’re into.

In the same way that American bars sometimes serve free pretzels or peanuts to keep patrons thirsty, bars in Korea and Japan sometimes serve this kind of seaweed as a salty bar snack. Surprisingly delicious as it is with beer (or soda for the kids), I don’t really see this taking off as a trend at Southern Brooklyn watering holes any time soon, so if you’re interested in trying it, better to buy it at Sea Bay Seafood & Meat Market Inc. (1241 Avenue U, at East 13th Street) where this A+ brand kim comes in a 3-pack for $1.39. Crispy, sesame-flavored, and salty, this is filled with all the goodness I would expect from kim.

If the super saltiness of it gives you pause, know that it also contains a wealth of nutrients, including iodine, iron, amino acids, B vitamins, and protein, so acquiring a taste for it has some perks.

Cheers!

Sea Bay Seafood & Meat Market Inc., 1241 Avenue U at East 13th Street, (718) 382-8889.

– Sonia Rapaport

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.

mexi-steak

THE BITE: I order my Mexican fare solely from El Mexicano Restaurante, which I consider the best place in the neighborhood to get my taco and burrito fill. The delivery men are friendly, the food reasonably priced. So much so that fellow Bite writer Lenny Markh has already tackled the restaurant’s tacos for this column. But I still wanted to find an unexplored gem on their menu, so I took a tough look at it for this week’s piece and decided to give the Mexican Philly cheesesteak a shot.

Like so many Chinese restaurants in America, I noticed that El Mexicano’s menu also tries to appeal to the American palate by including items such as French fries and chicken wings. Looking at the photos of these American-style foods, they seemed uninspired – until my eyes fell up on the Mexican Philly cheesesteak. This is not something I would normally do. I trust them fully with guacamole, rice and beans, and any incarnation of tortilla or marinated pork, but sesame-seed sprinkled hoagies? It seemed suspect.

But this sandwich was amazing for take-out joint fare. The bread was toasted golden and slightly crunchy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside, holding in place marinated beef, salty queso blanco- a mild Mexican cheese similar to mozzarella – and a spicy mix of onions and peppers. Bonus tip: I also got a side of guacamole to go with this. This may have been an extravagant move, but I assure you they go well together.

In short, every bite of this enormous sandwich was delicious. I don’t know what possessed me to take this risk, but I’m really glad I did. I think I just learned an important lesson about… not judging a book by it’s cover?… or something…

El Mexicano Resaurante, 2102 East 15th Street, between Avenue U and Avenue V, (718) 676-2700 or (718) 676-2703.

– Sonia Rapaport

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.

pastry

THE BITE: One recent morning, I walked into Sheepshead Bay Fruit & Vegetables Market, also known as Sheepshead Bay Gourmet Market, and while the newly added fresh meats display did entice me with it’s array of pink-gray veal and tongue, it was, as I’ve mentioned, early in the day. Making a note to come back at a later hour, I continued past to the pastry section to start my day off right with a good dose of sugar.

The pastry case was full of all the regulars: danishes, turnovers, black and white cookies. I apathetically grabbed an almond croissant, which looked more like a frosting covered almond stick. Regardless, I paid my $1.25 for it and was on my way.

Feeling content enough to have kept my breakfast budget low, I unexcitedly bit into my “croissant.” The bits of frosting and crunchy almonds that encrusted it came cascading down my clothes immediately, but the messier the meal, the better, right?

It was pretty fresh-tasting, doughy and a bit buttery, which I hadn’t expected from a plastic-wrapped grocery-bought pastry. And yet another surprise awaited me: somehow the baker had managed to fit two stripes of almond paste into the center of this pastry. I hadn’t particularly planned on mentioning this purchase to anyone, let alone writing about it, but c’mon, marzipan is big news!

Brought up by a European family, anywhere marzipan turns up in American-bought foods, even in an Eastern European store, surprises and delights me. I know there are other brands of almond croissants out there that also feature a marzipan filling, but I’ve often been disappointed either by a lack of filling whatsoever, or by an overly sweet white paste trying to pass for marzipan. Not here. You could see the brown flecks of almond in the filling, indicating actual ground nuts and not just artificially flavored goop.

This was a great way to start the day.

I also should note that the picture only shows about 40 percent of the length of this pastry. That’s right, I ate more than half of it before I regained my wits and took a picture.

Check out our previous review of Sheepshead Bay Gourmet Market’s spinach bourek.

Sheepshead Bay Gourmet Market, 1717 Avenue Z at East 17th Street, (718) 891-8449.

– Sonia Rapaport

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.

waffles

THE BITE: A few weekends ago, on one of those 20-degree early winter mornings, I was looking forward to breakfast but dreading the moment I would have to leave my apartment to forage for food. I took a long look at the radiator whistling in the corner of my room and decided I wasn’t going anywhere.

Luckily, I recently discovered that the Kouros Bay Diner (3861 Nostrand Avenue) delivers. I decided to try the waffles with bacon ($9.90), fully aware that they would probably be lukewarm by the time they made it to my door. Still, I tipped big for the poor delivery person braving the cold instead of me, and happily awaited my breakfast in the comfort of my pajamas.

When the food came, I was pleasantly surprised to find it steaming hot in the aluminum takeout container. However, it was not a picturesque waffle. In line with the tragedy of most takeout food, it was smashed against the side of the container, and the bacon was clumped together at the bottom. Oh well. This wasn’t a meal about aesthetics.

Plastic cutlery in hand and miniature packets of butter and syrup at the ready, I dug in. The waffle was a bit soggy with condensation, but still spongy, slightly sweet, and delicious. And that clump of bacon was full of the salty, chewy goodness you expect from bacon of any shape. All in all, I congratulated myself on some great morning decision-making.

But, I felt it would be a disservice to the Kouros Bay Diner and waffles in general to leave it at that. To really give it a fair chance, I decided I must go to the diner and eat a waffle fresh off the iron. For research purposes and the good of our readers, you understand.

So on a less frigid, more recent weekend morning, that’s exactly what I did. Despite it being fairly busy, the waitstaff was friendly and the order came out quickly. Crispy, golden brown on the outside, chewy on the inside; served with your choice of ice cream, fruit, or breakfast meats (I went with turkey bacon this time – got to make the healthy choice sometimes, right?). This was a very satisfying waffle experience. Sure, the coffee was a little weak, but that just gave me reason to take full advantage of the unlimited refills. Another great morning decision made. - Sonia Rapaport

Kouros Bay Diner, 3861 Nostrand Avenue, (718) 743-5777.

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

samsa

THE BITE: The heat wave broke and temperatures dipped to a chilly low 80s earlier this week, so yesterday I figured, “Hey, fall is here, let’s get a taste of it.” Judging by today’s weather, I was clearly a day off.

What flavor is more autumnal than some spiced pumpkin? Not much. So it was with delight that I sat down at the newly renovated and expanded Nargis Cafe (2818 Coney Island Avenue) and saw a new offering on their specials menu: pumpkin manti. For $7.00 you get four manti stuffed with pumpkin filling, either fried or steamed, and with a side of sour cream.

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THE BITE: Roll n Roaster (2901 Emmons Avenue, just west of Nostrand Avenue) is well known for its roast beef sandwiches, late night crowds and its 1970s television commercials. But it also sells Cheez burgers, fries and “freshly squeezed orangeade,” all of which are prominently touted on their take-out bags. Talking with friends, it seems that most folks don’t stray far from the roast beef and fries when they hit the restaurant. Even the New York Times picked up on this, quoting a customer “You kind of have to get the roast beef,” he said. “They looked at you weird when you didn’t get it.”

We here at the Bite are used to being looked at weird.

So, today’s Bite brings you the “Western Cheez Burger.” It’s allegedly available rare, medium or well done and sells for $5.25. So what is a “Western cheez burger,” you ask? It’s a thin beef hamburger patty, topped with their ubiquitous cheese sauce, onion rings and barbecue sauce on one of RnR’s outstanding buns. How that makes it western I have no idea. And, don’t get me started on the cheese sauce – or “cheez sauce,” as they like to call it.

Frankly, I love that “cheez,” whatever it is. Is it real cheese or some sort of evil corporate concoction that is oddly addictive? Strangely, it’s nowhere to be found on RnR’s website menu. Some people claim that it is “Cheez Whiz” which is made by Kraft and available in your local supermarkets. Others claim it’s an invention of Roll n Roaster owner, Nick “Buddy” Lamonica. I really don’t care either way. The cheez sauce is one of my reasons for visiting RnR so frequently.

And it saves the Western burger. This thin burger patty arrives burned, dry and flavorless no matter how you order it, but is covered with the  cheez sauce that brings both flavor and much needed moisture. It is then topped with a very sweet Kansas City-style barbecue sauce and a couple of perfectly cooked, whole onion – not chopped – onion rings. While the actual burger patty itself is nothing special, the toppings and the bun make this a worthy meal.

Roll N Roaster, 2901 Emmons Avenue, just west of Nostrand Avenue, (718) 769-6000.

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, fishmongers  or grocers in our neighborhood. If it’s edible, we’ll take a bite.

THE BITE: What’s more Brooklyn than cheesecake? How about a New York-style cheesecake baked by immigrants, topped with Oreos? Did you know that the Oreo was invented by NABISCO in New York City in 1912 and originally came in two flavors? One version came with the cream you know and love, the other with lemon meringue. Did you know that Oreos are kosher? I wonder if they still are when placed on a cheesecake.

Brooklyn Bloom (1607 Avenue U, between East 16th Street and East 17th Street) offers up an interesting take on the traditional New York style cheesecake for $3.50 a slice. Baked to about three inches high, this golden crust cake is built on a nest of ground graham crackers and topped with whole Oreos. Why do I say interesting take? Well, this cheesecake is lighter than most. While still creamy, this cake somehow manages to avoid the heaviness of the cheesecakes we’re more familiar with – Junior’s, I’m looking at you.

But, something was sacrificed with the weight. While this was a good cheesecake, it just seemed to miss the mark. There was no trace of vanilla, or any other flavoring agents besides the cream cheese and sugar. While the blandness of the cake allowed the flavors of the graham crackers and Oreo to dominate, I would have preferred the cake itself to be much more assertive. Usually there’s a slight tang that comes from the cream cheese; it didn’t make itself known here. Pity.

The graham cracker crust is thick, almost the same thickness as the Oreos that top the cake. The Oreos themselves suffer from the placement on the cake, with the bottom layer of the cookies becoming very soggy as they melt into the cake batter. The sweetness of the Oreo filling is lost in the sweetness of the cheese cake, and the sudden texture switch is a bit off-putting; give me a plain cheesecake any day.

While this cake has some problems, it still is a good cake. It’s not outstanding, but it is enjoyable if you keep it on the surface. It’s much like the champion feather weight fighter taking on the heavy weight champion of the world. He’s a good fighter in his realm, but no match for the master – Junior’s, I’m still looking at you.

Brooklyn Bloom, 1607 Avenue U, between East 16th Street and East 17th Street, (718) 339-1333.

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.,

20130318-145606.jpg

Photo by Erica Sherman

THE BITE: Hey, today, March 19, is St. Joseph’s Day. What better way to celebrate than by eating some St. Joseph zeppole? What’s that you say? What are St. Joseph zeppole?

St. Joseph zeppole, or zeppole di San Giuseppeis, is a classic Italian pastry traditionally made only for the feast day of St. Joseph. In Italy, it’s also their Father’s Day. According to Academia Barilla:

On this day, pastry shops around Italy sell zeppole di San Giuseppe, fritters filled with pastry cream. This tradition dates back to 500 AC and the Latin celebration of Baccanali, which took place on March 17th in honor of Bacchus and Silinus, respectively, the gods of wine and wheat. The Ancient Romans would consume large quantities of wine and wheat-flour fritters to celebrate the two divinities. It should come as no surprise that St. Joseph’s day, which comes two days later, often includes similar customs. The modern-day recipe for zeppole, however, was created fairly recently. It is believed that this type of fritter was invented by a convent of monks at the beginning of the 19th century.

Luckily, we don’t have to travel to Italy to celebrate. Head over to T & D Bakery (2307 Avenue U between East 23rd Street and East 24th Street) for a great Italian-American version of this sacred treat.

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THE BITE: On a recent night I sat down for dinner at Chop Stix (3790 Nostrand Avenue, between Avenue Y and Avenue Z) with my friend Ned. Ned likes to joke about whenever someone eats in a Chinese restaurant that they spend a lot of time looking over the encyclopedic menu before ordering the same thing they always eat. Determined to prove him wrong, I suggested that we order the fried octopus leg appetizer ($6.95). We both laughed at my suggestion.

When the waiter came to take our order, I ordered Kung Po Chicken. Yes, I was trying something new; well, not exactly new, but not of my routine. When the waiter turned to Ned, he ordered his main dish, which was his default Chinese restaurant order, and then said, “and an order of the fried octopus.” This surprised me. I thought he knew I was joking with my suggestion.

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THE BITE: The Bite welcomes Sheepshead Bay Road’s newest business, and I think the only new business to open since Superstorm Sandy devastated the area: Georgian Cuisine Apani. Located at 1520 Sheepshead Bay Road, Georgian Cuisine Apani takes over the space recently vacated by Randazzo’s Sandwich Shop. If memory serves, that location has hosted five different food spots in the past five years. Let’s hope they can break the curse.

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