Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Perfect Apple

Right off the tree...
...and into my bag
The perfect apple is the one you pick yourself. Right off the tree. It yields an audible crunch and a rush of juice down your lips.

My friends and I ate so many perfect apples on our annual apple picking excursion in the Hudson Valley this past weekend. We'd each pluck one, take a bite, note its flavor, and pass it around as if we were analyzing a fine wine. Does it make the cut home or not?
At Wright's Farm in Ulster County (about 80 miles from Manhattan), a $10 per adult entrance fee gets you a bag (a peck) you can fill to the brim with fruit.

A large selection this time of year includes my favorite - Fuji, a late season variety - as well as Golden Delicious, Mutsu, Stayman, Rome, and Braeburn. We even strategized over how to pack our bags to get the most yield of apples.

Sample all you want while in the orchard. When you've had your fill, a tractor ride takes you back to the parking lot, where you're asked to pop the trunk of your car in case you've attempted to smuggle out any extra apples.
Dig in to some squash
Once back at the main entrance, an abundant farmers market, save some room for lunch. Grab a picnic bench and load up on freshly barbecued chicken legs, chili or mac 'n' cheese. And definitely don't leave without a half dozen cider doughnuts made before your eyes. If you're lucky, you'll get a warm batch.They are gooooood. Real good.

An abundance of pumpkins and other colorful squash, delicious freshly baked pies, jams and jellies also tempt. Take advantage of the squash samples before you buy. There really is a marked difference in flavor from the nutty butternut to the Tan Cheese and small Sweet Dumpling squash.

What in the world will you do with all those apples? Wright's Farm even offers some tempting recipes. I'll be making lots of apple crumble. Stay tuned for that ridiculously simple recipe.
Then take some home

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Biting into Mad Square Eats

Porchetta from The Piccolo Cafe
There's a feeding frenzy in the streets of Manhattan. Everywhere you look there's a new outdoor food festival or gourmet truck. A city favorite, Mad Square Eats (24th + Broadway), is in its final days through October 21st. So hurry up and bite into something new.

Popular market fixtures like Red Hook Lobster Pound, Sigmund Pretzelshop, and Momofuku Milk Bar are dishing up their signature specialties. If you can't get to Bushwick, Roberta's pizza is here.

Duck buns from Fatty Snack compete with Beijing ya buns (roast duck and shrimp, $4) from Hong Kong Street Cart. There's always a line at Calexico for the freshly prepared Cali-Mexican tacos including chipotle pork and pollo asada ($3). Asiadog gives the drab hot dog a cultural makeover. The tangy Ginny is dressed with kimchi and nori flakes ($4.50).

On a recent visit, the hungry carnivore in me headed straight to the Cannibal stall, Resto's new sister restaurant. The pork head Cuban sandwich sounded like a natural win. But it was heavy on the bread and pickle and skimped on the meat filling, making pulled pork head looked more like scattered crumbs of swine. And it was bland. A $10 let down. The garlic spiced burger from Graffiti/Metaphor, on the other hand, is aromatic and juicy.

On Saturday only, look out for the tantalizing whole lamb roasting on a spit. And while you're there, stock up on an array of exotic spices, flavored sugar and loose teas from newcomer Spices and Tease.

Dine around the world in the park
Asiadog's Ginny with kimchi

Beijing ya bun from Hong Kong Street Cart
Graffiti/Metaphor spiced burger

Spit roasted lamb - Saturdays only
Lavender sugar sounds divine

Where's the pig face?

Open through Oct 21
11am - 9pm

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Grade A Restaurants are Back in the East Village

What a relief. 'A's are everywhere in the East Village.

It was a grade that was noticeably absent in many of the most popular neighborhood restaurants just a few months ago, prompting me to write about the disappointing news.

Not anymore. From Giano and La Lucha to Hasaki and Northern Spy Food Co., A, A, A, A. Ravi DeRossi, who owns eight local hot spots alone, confirmed that all of them, from Death & Co, The Bourgeois Pig, Mayahuel, Desnuda, CienfuegosEl Cobre, Amor y Amargo and 124 Rabbit Club, now display straight 'A's. Good news we could all use to start the week off. Happy dining.

For a look at all how your favorite restaurant is performing, check out the official NYC Health Department site.