If you are in the US, hope you are celebrating with some good eats, and maybe some turkey, too!
If you are in the US, hope you are celebrating with some good eats, and maybe some turkey, too!
One of the mainstays of the American Thanksgiving Day table is pumpkin pie. But when did pumpkin pie become associated with the holiday? Though pumpkin pie has changed through the years, pumpkin, which is native to North America, may have been part of the original Thanksgiving Day feast. Recipes for pumpkin pie date back to England (pumpkins having been brought to England from the new world before the Mayflower – confusing, right?).
However, some of these early “pumpkin pie” recipes varied widely, and some had no crust, or consisted of a custard or apples baked inside of a hollowed out pumpkin itself. As legend would have it, the town of Colchester, MA delayed Thanksgiving in 1705 due to a molasses shortage that ruined any plans for pumpkin pie. The first published pumpkin pie recipe in the US appears in Amelia Simmons’ extremely popular cookbook American Cookery (1796), and in fact contains 2 variations.
No. 1. One quart (pompkin) stewed and strained, 3 pints cream, 9 beaten eggs, sugar, mace, nutmeg, ginger, laid into paste No. 7 or 3, and with a dough spur, cross and chequer, and baked in dishes three quarters of an hour.
No. 2. One quart of milk, 1 pint pompkin, 4 eggs, molasses, allspice and ginger in a crust, bake 1 hour.
By the 1800s, pies were an ingrained part of most Thanksgiving traditions, at least in the north. Pumpkin pie as we know it today usually is made with canned pumpkin, which was only introduced by Libby in the mid-20th Century. And thanks to Libby, 80% of the canned pumpkin in the US comes from one town, Morton, IL. There are so many pumpkin pie recipes out there, I can’t even begin to recommend one, but chances are you’ll be sampling a piece of pumpkin pie history this Thanksgiving!
At first glance, Bedouin Tent (405 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217) looks like any other Middle Eastern restaurant tucked into a corner of Brooklyn, but if you look a little closer at the menu you will realize that it also has an assortment of Jordanian specialties, marked as “Bedouin.” The inside of Bedouin Tent is reflective of its name, and is brightly decorated with orange textiles. There is also a pleasant outdoor area, which we found slightly too cold to utilize, though others braved the chill. Glass lanterns leant a nice ambiance, though you can see it was still a bit dark.
Bedouin Tent serves Jordan’s national dish, chicken ouzi, on Friday nights and on weekends (Ouzi is a dish composed of meat in phyllo dough served with yogurt sauce over rice – here is a recipe). One of the other popular Jordanian dishes is the Pitza, which is a lovechild of pita and pizza, a flatbread baked with with a variety of savory toppings. We ordered the ground lamb merguez sausage version ($7.50), which was the most traditional among the options (including spinach, peppers and mushrooms). The pitza was big enough for 3 to share, along with salads and other entrees, and was brimming with tasty, heavily-spiced ground merguez sausages and za’atar spices. For our other entree, we ordered the roast lamb with onions, tomatoes and lemon-mint dressing with a side of hummus ($12.00).
The salad plate sampler was also excellent and included five varieties of salad (hummus, baba ghanouj, chickpeas, stuffed grape leaves, lentils), for only $10. The salads also came with a giant helping of hot, fluffy Jordanian flatbread. There are also some interesting Jordanian salads only available on Fridays and weekends, including the labneh yogurt salad and potatoes dressed in parsley and olive oil. You can also order falafel per piece if you are looking for an additional taste of something different, as we did at the suggestion of the friendly staff.
Dishes came out in no particular order – so it is good to keep that in mind – fortunately we were all sharing everything so it worked out. The two entrees and the salads were more than enough for three people, and everything was extremely tasty and well-spiced. It was nice to try some new dishes, and get Middle Eastern classics with a Jordanian twist. We had a leisurely dinner, sipping on mint tea and munching until it was closing time. We hope to come back on a Friday to taste the chicken ouzi for the complete Jordanian experience.
There is nothing M loves more than well-prepared pork and charcuterie, and Black Pig (2801 Bridge Avenue, Cleveland) has both in spades. The logo for the Black Pig is a gigantic, portly swine, and this place definitely takes its pig seriously. The restaurant is tucked into a restored Victorian home on a quiet corner of Ohio City, where they relocated in early 2015. The inside of Black Pig is casual and comfortable, featuring the exposed brick of the old house and lots of windows.
The menu at Black Pig puts its focus on classic American dishes made with local ingredients, as well as a curated selection of craft brews and unique cocktails. The menu is divided into small plates and entrees, a section called “the weekly pig” and a rotating menu of freshly-made pasta. Recently, they even rolled out a special 3-course pasta tasting (we will have to come back for that). Though pork-centric, there are also a myriad of vegetarian and fish options. We started out with the charcuterie plate, with all house-made meats (including patê, sausage and prosciutto) and pickles (pictured above), as well as cheese plate featuring cheeses from the Midwest. We selected a few of the appetizers to share: Brussels sprouts and fingerling potatoes. The roast fingerling potatoes, drenched in lemon and Parmesan, were particularly delicious (below).
For entrees, we chose off the Weekly Pig menu, which featured classic pork preparations, including: Pork Collar, schnitzel, Sausage and cabbage, and a pork chop. M ordered the Pork chop over corn salsa and L got the short ribs, served with hush puppies, roasted beans and chili peppers (below). Both pork dishes were extremely successful: the pork chop was juicy and tender (which is difficult to do for pork chops), and the short ribs, in a balsamic reduction, were fork-tender and extremely flavorful. Creative desserts like an almond financier cake rounded out the menu. Black Pig is a great place for a date night or special occasion, though you will feel welcome for a casual night out, too. The menu at the Black Pig changes with the seasons, so there is always something new to try.
We are always excited when a cookbook comes out that features an under-represented cuisine. In this case, Ghana gets the star treatment in Barbara Baëta and Fran Osseo-Asare’s “Ghana Cookbook.” Disappointed with the lack of African cookbooks available in the US, Osseo-Asare had previously created a Ghanaian cookbook for kids, “Good Soup Attracts Chairs.” The latest cookbook was co-written with Ghanian culinary expert Baëta, and contains the iconic foods of Ghanaian cuisine,as well as anecdotes and stories about Ghanaian culture. This Medium article by Osseo-Asare talks about how the cookbook came to be, and contains a few recipes: plantain pancakes and a hibiscus drink.
Move over pumpkins, its persimmon season! We did not grow up eating persimmons, and our first experience really eating this Japanese fruit was in Brazil, where they are called caqui (the Japanese word for persimmon is Kaki). Persimmons were brought to the US from Japan in the 1800s, where they are considered the national fruit. As we began diving into the world of persimmons, we were intrigued by the differences between the varieties. There are two major persimmon types in the US (and many more in Japan and other areas) the Hachiya and the Fuyu. Their texture and preparation differs widely: the acorn-shaped Hachiya can only be eaten when extremely ripe, while the Fuyu can be eaten at any stage. One step further for persimmon aficionados is the hand-massaged and dried hoshigaki persimmon. So lets get cooking: The Kitchn has 10 seasonal persimmon recipes, or try an amazing looking bread or a savory persimmon caprese.
One of our favorite bookstores is the Seminary Co-Op. Now we have another reason: Plein Air Cafe (5751 S Woodlawn Ave, Chicago, IL). Plein Air is a cafe and coffee shop attached to the new Seminary Co-op (which may be slightly neater, but just as fun as the old version). Plein Air is a counter-service cafe that serves a small, healthy-leaning menu of soups, sandwiches, grain bowls, coffee drinks, pastries and savory pies from Pleasant House. Everything we have sampled has been solid, and we particularly enjoy the kale salad, the quinoa balti bowl and the hearty soups. The coffee is pretty good too, and you can get a variety of espresso drinks to go with your pastry of choice. We have visited Plein Air cafe on multiple occasions and we are impressed how it can morph into being just about anything to anybody: coffee shop, outdoor cafe, casual restaurant, study spot, hangout place, etc. If you find yourself in Hyde Park and are feeling bookish and in need of a light meal or a pick-me-up, definitely give Plein Air a try.
When we were at the Long Island City Flea & Food Market this fall we were surprised and pleased to find a stall selling Bangladeshi food, Jhal NYC. Jhal NYC serves street food from Bangladesh including Fuchka and Jhal Muri (a puffed rice snack). Fuchka is popular around the Indian subcontinent and might be known in other areas as puchka, panipuri and golgappa.
Fuckha consists of a series of small crispy dough shells, topped with chickpeas and potato stew along with other garnishes, including green onions, chili peppers and cilantro. Another key aspect is that it is then topped with (or dipped in) a light tamarind water. The fuchka was a delicious mix of complex flavors, and the crispy shells perfectly complemented the soft chickpeas and potatoes. Here is a recipe from Archana’s kitchen for the dough shell and here is a recipe for the Bangladeshi-style filling; or a simplified version that has both parts of the recipe. Fuchka was such a delicious snack – we can see how it is so popular across so many different regions.
We are recently back from NYC, and had a hankering for some arepas. Fortunately, Cleveland has a self-proclaimed areperia, Barroco (12906 Madison Ave Lakewood, Ohio ). We visited Barroco on an unseasonably warm day, which meant we were able to enjoy the outdoor patio alongside our starchy treats. We were not disappointed, the simple but bright patio was a great place to enjoy some juice or a cerveza on a nice day. By the way, did we mention that Barroco is BYOB? However, even if you sit inside, you are in for a visual treat – the walls are covered with murals, twinkle lights, photographs and the accumulated scrawlings of other customers.
The menu is an interesting mix of Colombian and other South American influences, and there is something for everyone (even vegetarians). You can get a starter of shrimp ceviche ($11) or opt for the larger “picado” platter which is an assortment of pork, chorizo, yuca and ($40). For a traditional Colombian meal – you can get the national dish of sausage, rice and beans, Bandeja Paisa ($19). However, we were in the mood for the specialty of the house – arepas ($12 each) – of which there were both traditional and more avant-garde versions. For example, you can order a arepa with Bolognese sauce or buffalo chicken. We got two kinds of arepa in the more traditional vein: first the Reina Pepiada – Grilled chicken breast with avocado, red peppers and feta cheese; and next the Ropa Vieja – braised beef in tomato sauce with black beans, feta and mozzarella.
The arepas were freshly made from white corn into neat squares and generously filled (as you can see above). We appreciated that the masa was made in-house and you could really taste the difference. In terms of fillings, the ropa vieja was particularly delicious and comforting. We also shared a side of guacamole with plantain chips, and each arepa came with a size of expertly fried sweet plantains (did someone say plantain?). Once spring rolls around again we hope to give Barroco’s outdoor patio a visit again soon. In the meantime, we will enjoy exploring the quirky interior while we get our arepa fix.
We absolutely love the podcast Gravy, put out by the Southern Foodways Alliance, and it is a must-listen for foodies. Gravy covers the social history of food in the American South, both past and present. We always learn something new when listening to Gravy, so we were fascinated to learn about the influence of military rations and food technology on civilian food, from ingredients to packaging, which we thought we would share on Veterans Day. If you are looking for a fun, fascinating podcast we can’t recommend Gravy enough.
Going to eat at Badou Senegalese Cuisine (2055 W. Howard, Chicago, IL) is like eating at the house of the friend. In fact, Badou likes it when you call ahead to let him know how many people are coming so he is prepared for your party (just like a friend). When we entered Badou, we immediately were greeted by he restaurant’s namesake, Badara “Badou” Diakhate himself, the chef and proprietor, and obviously the heart and soul of the restaurant. He sat down with us and consulted us on his favorite dishes and how much he thought we should order. Badou is located in a nondescript strip mall on the border of Rogers Park and Evanston, but the food and hospitality with transport you to another place. The walls are painted a vibrant blue and covered with masks, wall hangings and paintings from Senegal and surrounding areas.
On our first visit we chatted with Badou over Bissap hibiscus drinks ($2.99). We started our meal with chicken pastels – kind of like empanadas ($4.99) – Badou upped the serving from the normal three-piece serving to four to match our group. The pastries were delicious and flaky, and gently spiced. We ordered three entrees: first was Diby Yaap ($12.99) roast lamb with a spicy habanero and onion sauce. One of the most classic Senegalese dishes was next, Chicken Mafé ($11.99), cooked in a peanut butter sauce. Finally, we ordered the Attieke – fried whole tilapia ($11.99). This dish came with fermented cassava, cooked like couscous, and served with a colorful and onion, tomato and bell pepper sauce.
Our dishes came out one at a time, and we shared each family-style. For the price there was an enormous amount of food, and the three dishes were more than enough for the four of us! The tilapia was excellent, but as with any whole fish – you have to work for your meal. The lamb dish was perfectly tender and had a bit of a spicy kick. The chicken mafe was just like we liked it: rich, creamy and not too spicy. There was something for everything at Badou, with all spice tolerances and tastes covered with ease. On a future visit we tried the steak with Dijon mustard and onions, which seems like a simple mix, but actually had a completely different and delightful flavor profile.
Badou is a great place to enjoy a home cooked meal straight from the heart of Senegal. This is the kind of place to come with friends to while away an evening with some good food. We have now visited Badou on several occasions, and highly enjoyed the food and atmosphere each time. However, this is not a restaurant to go to when you are in a rush, since dishes arrive at a leisurely pace, one-at-a-time, and they sometimes get swamped with delivery orders. Make sure you call in advance too, after all, you are visiting a friend’s house.
Happy Diwali! The Hindu festival of lights is known for its delicious snacks, some of which we have previously discussed on ETW, especially the sweet ones! However, there are also savory snacks popular on Diwali! We love salt as well as sweet so here is one of those classic salty snacks – murukku. Murukku, a snack from Tamil Nadu in the Southern India is made with rice and urad dal (black lentil) flour, pressed through a mold (like a spritz cookie) and then fried. Depending on the additions, there can be hundreds of varieties of murukku (also sometimes called chakli)! Yummy Tummy has a recipe for potato murukku, and Chef in You has a recipe for Mullu (Thenkuzhal) Murukku. Rak’s Kitchen has a recipe for butter murukku and eight other varieties. Many of the murukku recipes call for asafoetida, a South Indian spice you can usually find at Indian groceries, so be sure to pick some up.
We came across one of the most unusual cheeses we have ever encountered at the new Whole Foods in Cleveland, which looked like tiny wedges of lemon cheesecake. Turns out it was a baked buffalo milk ricotta, flavored with lemon, from the Puglia region in Italy. When the ricotta is baked it takes on the texture and consistency of a cheesecake! So is it a dessert or a cheese? Maybe a little of both…. When it is whole, the cheese looks like a round or bundt cake (which may vary between brands), and you can buy the whole thing or little wedges. So even though you will usually find this in the cheese section, we think it may be better suited to the dessert case. We also saw this cheese in the inimitable DiBruno Brothers in Philadelphia, so we are hoping it will be relatively common in cheese stores with better selections (or Zabar’s online). We think we have found the perfect dessert for cheese lovers (or cheese for dessert lovers)!
When we think of Peruvian food, we usually make the beeline for the ceviche, one of Matt’s favorite dishes OF ALL TIME. However, another thing Peru does really well is awesome, crispy, juicy rotisserie chicken. And sometimes you are not feeling fish, you are feeling chicken! So where to indulge this craving? One stop that came highly recommended, specifically for chicken, was D’Candela (4053 N Kedzie Ave. Chicago IL), part of a boom in Latin American chicken restaurants in Chicago. D’Candela does have a lot of other Peruvian dishes on its menu, including ceviche as an entree (but not an appetizer), and other classic dishes we love like papas a la huancaina and arroz chaufa. But this review is entirely for the chicken. You can order pretty much any size that suits your fancy from a whole, half or quarter chicken – and you can choose between the white or dark for the quarters. The prices are pretty reasonable too ($16.95 for a whole chicken with 2 sides, and a quarter chicken and 2 sides for only $6.85)! Many people were getting their chicken to go, but D’Candela is a BYOB, so why not stay a while?
We got two orders of quarter chicken, one light and one dark meat. You also get to pick two sides ( sides = French Fries, House Salad, Fried Sweet Plantains, Yucca, Rice, Pinto Beans) – so we went with the fried yuca and plantains for the complete meat ‘n’ potatoes experience. The chicken came with yellow aji sauce for dipping, which was excellent, particularly for the yuca. The chicken had a nice crispy exterior, but the meat was moist and juicy. Even the white meat was completely succulent. No grease, either. This was some tasty chicken, and there is definitely no need to make it home when you can get it here. We think we will be fulfilling all of our future chicken cravings at D’Candela. Washed down with a cold chica morada (purple corn drink), we can’t think of a much better dinner!
It may just be the end of an era. The main wing of Toyko’s most famous modernist hotel, the Hotel Okura, is now closed, and is in the process of being demolished. Watch this video from Monocle to get an idea about the distinctive design of the Okura, originally built in 1962, with more photos from Curbed. The restaurants and bars in the hotel were also iconic, particularly the Orchid Bar, which looks like the perfecet setting for any James Bond film or diplomatic meeting. I remembered the Hotel Okura instantly from “Walk Don’t Run,” a charmingly bizarre movie about the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo (starring Cary Grant).
Phusion Cafe (3030 W. Superior Ave, Cleveland) is where we ended up instead when we thought we had arrived at Superior Pho. The first time we turned around in confusion, but this time we were excited to give the only place for Taiwanese food in Cleveland a try. If you enter from the back parking lot you will be greeted by the jumble of signs below. Phusion’s location in the lobby of a mini mall is not necessarily the most atmospheric, but don’t let that (or the vague name) dissuade you from some amazing Taiwanese food!
The menu at Phusion has a large selection of typical some American-Chinese favorites like Egg rolls and General Tso’s chicken, but we made a beeline for the selection of more unique Taiwanese dishes. The server was more than happy to describe the Taiwanese dishes and offer recommendations. We were interested by the unique Taiwanese dishes including Hakka-style pork and squid ($12.95) and the Hakka-style tofu ($10.95) along with perhaps the most famous Taiwanese dish, Three Cups Chicken ($12.95). To start off, our server recommended the salt and pepper chicken, we got an appetizer portion, though you can also get it as a full sized entree. M ordered the ginger beef ($12.95) and L got the cold peanut and sesame noodles ($6.95). These cold noodles were the first Taiwanese dish we ever had, all the way back in Minneapolis, so seeing them again on the menu made us feel nostalgic.
We only waited a short time for our food even though the dining room was pretty full with groups of college kids chatting and sipping on bubble tea. The salt and pepper chicken was crunchy, not greasy and actually consisted of high quality chicken (kind of the opposite of what we usually expect from popcorn chicken). The beef in the ginger beef dish was tender and flavorful, and there were actually long strips of ginger root throughout (we love ginger so this is a major plus). However, the favorite of the night was the delicious cold noodle dish topped with cucumber. The noodles were rich and savory, and the mix of peanut and sesame made for an incredible sauce. We could eat this every day!
And, yes, they have bubble tea! Not only that, it is made with Ten Ren Tea, a brand known for their high-quality leaves. Has anyone tried the bubble tea there yet? Phusion Cafe makes an excellent addition to an area where Taiwanese food is lacking, and delivers with authentic Taiwanese flavors. Our visit definitely made us want to duplicate that sesame and peanut noodle recipe at home.
We don’t have any Mexican bakeries near us anymore, unfortunately, so we have to turn to making our own treats for Dia de los Muertos. Key among these is the sweet Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead), with its signature crossed bone pattern and flavors of anise and orange blossom water. Today is All Souls’ Day so there is still time to enjoy this bread – but really – why not make it all year long? Bon Appetit has a new recipe for Pan de Muerto that begs that exact question (plus an instructional video on how to shape the bread). It’s not too late, why not give it a try?
Candied apples are an ubiquitous sight during autumn in the US – whether covered in a red shell or hard toffee – you are sure to see a permutation of them at any pumpkin patch, hayride or Halloween event. In the UK they are a popular treat on Bonfire night – Guy Fawkes’ Day. Though they seem like a timeless treat, candied applies were invented only at the turn of the 20th century. The “red” coating is usually cinnamon flavored – and you can DiY your own apples by using “Red Hot” candies. British-style toffee apples can be made simply as well, using golden syrup. However, the candied or toffee apple is not just an Anglo-American thing. Dipping apples or apple-like fruits in sweet coating is popular around the world. In France and Brazil the same candy-coated fruit is called an “Apple of Love.” We were especially interested in the Northern Chinese Tanghulu, which are small fruits on a stick dipped in candy coating in the same method as candied apples. You can make Tanghulu with any fruit – even strawberries – sounds like a perfect Halloween snack to me!
You may or may not have noticed, but yesterday ETW rolled out some new map upgrades. We are now using the Google Maps engine, and have created interactive, color-coded maps for both the countries we have eaten (seen below) and a map of restaurant reviews (which are color-coded based on their cuisine). The restaurant map is a work in progress and currently only has the last 2 years of restaurant reviews, and restaurant reviews from the past will be continuously added. We hope you like these new additions!
There is nothing we like more than street food, so we were super pumped to try Sri Lankan street food for the first time. Kottu House (250 Broome St, New York, NY 10002), is a postage-stamp-sized Sri Lankan restaurant tucked into a corner of the Lower East Side, with only a few tables and a tiny bar (though you can do takeout as well). The resaturant is a study in contrasts, guarded over simultaneously by a strobe light image of a neon dragon and a calm wooden Buddha figure. Previously, most of NYC’s Sri Lankan food had been found on Staten Island, so this location is definitely striking out on its own. Kottu House primarily serves its eponymous dish, Kottu, which is a savory stir fry that falls somewhere within the triangulation of fried rice, flatbread, and a dry curry. The base of the kottu is chopped rotis (which almost takes on the texture of noodles) fried with veggies, egg, and a spicy sauce. To go along with your kottu there are a variety of fried sides and an interesting selection of drinks, including a decent array of unusual (think pomegranate) hard ciders, as well as ginger and Sri Lankan teas.
There were a variety of proteins available with the kottu. Our server told us the chicken was the most traditional choice while the prawn was the most popular. There was also a “Little Italy” kottu that had tomato sauce and chicken sausages, as a nod to the proximity of Little Italy. For any protein, you can order your kottu with varying levels of spiciness from mild to “Sri Lankan spicy,” and the mild was described as closer to American “medium.” If so desired, the dishes can even be made vegan (or just without egg if that’s your mood). Sticking with the more traditional options, L selected chicken in “mild” and M went with the pepper beef in “medium”. The kottu comes in two sizes, small (for between $7 and 9) and large ($12 to 15). During happy hour (4 -7 pm) you can get a small for only $6.
For an extra kick you can order one of 3 sombols, chutney-like side condiments meant to mix into the kottu. We ordered the pol sambol which is fresh grated coconut, Sri Lankan chili powder and lime (which was described as medium) a milder sombol – minchi sambol – with green chiles garlic and mint, and a fiery hot one – lunu sambol – with raw red onions, chili powder and lime. The kottu came out in short order in paper takeout boxes, and our server instructed us to mix in the chutney right away to heighten the flavor of the dish, which really worked! The kottu was reminiscent of a spicy fried rice, but the bread as a starch gave it a very different texture. The overall flavor was salty, spicy and finished with a bit of lime, the mild was about a “medium” so keep that in mind. The kottu was delicious, satisfying and savory, real Sri Lankan comfort food. As such, kottu is the perfect food to grab and go, and would be an ideal way to soak up some late night drinks on the Lower East Side.