Tempted by the Night Market, Sated by Jackson Heights

dr fish

A fish has gotta eat…

When we were living in Asia, it took me a while to warm to the idea of night markets. It seemed like everything on sale, from street food to “Same Same But Different” t-shirts, was priced slightly higher for the benefit of looking at it in very dim lighting. But then the Siem Reap night market gradually won me over as I came to realize two advantages it provided over the daytime markets: 1) everyone feels better about getting drunk, which is really the only pleasurable way to shop for anything, and 2) there was a tank where you could pay to have tiny fish eat the dead skin off your feet, which was even better than drunk-shopping.

So needless to say, when I heard about the grand opening of this year’s Queens International Night Market, I was intrigued. Queens is an empire of ethnic food, from the feta cheese of Astoria to the dumplings of Flushing, so the idea of a night market in such an atmosphere made visions of a super-sized Smorgasburg dance in my head. Maybe it wasn’t even too much of a pipe dream to hope for a spa fish or two. I did some stomach-stretching exercises and set out for the territories near Corona Park. Continue reading

Witbier, Weissbier & Controversial Fruit

This woman is crazy on a number of levels, but would feel at home in Ohio

This woman is crazy on a number of levels, but would feel at home in Ohio

Every year at this point in April, regardless of weather, Ohioans pull on their shorts. Many of these bare and vulnerable legs are an alarming shade of white, which one is well-advised to not look at directly. Ohio winters are long, and at this point we’ve watched all of Netflix and need to get out of the goddamned house. We will sit at a picnic table in a parka and Daisy Dukes, if it comes to that, because it’s time to be outside.

I can’t say this Ohio beer-lover in particular is willing to reveal her alabaster gams, but she is ready for other summer activities, namely, summer beers. The breweries are way ahead of me, and summery wheat beers are already well-represented on the shelves and at the taps. Wheat beers are, by some magic of chemistry, delightfully refreshing, and thus often the style of choice for brewers making a warm-weather seasonal.

So, what is a wheat beer? Well, beer folk are notoriously non-obfuscationary, so your guess that wheat beers are brewed largely with wheat, instead of just barley alone, would be correct. In brewing they are top fermented and bottled conditioned. They are easy to pick out in a crowd: they’re unfiltered, hazy, and have a thick head; their smell will likely be of fruit or cloves; and they wear skinny jeans with slouchy hats while leaning against walls and playing on their phones. Continue reading

Honey-Miso Vegetables

IMG_2608It’s kiiinda like Spring up in NYC. As in it was 80 degrees one day last week and 35 yesterday and 70 today. Folks want their farmers markets back in full swing, though; they’re out at Grand Army Plaza on Saturday mornings looking dismal but dogged on those cold and wet days and buying all those perennials when it’s sunny.

But pickings are slim food-wise. Asparagus and the foraged mushrooms have shown up, but for the most part we’re still heading home those Saturdays with bags of root vegetables. And I’ve been working with them for months. Gotta do something new.

And thus this Honey-Miso Vegetables recipe. Stuck staring at last season’s carrots and turnips and parsnips? This’ll do ya.

Per usual, nothing was measured and units of measure are guestimated after the fact.

Honey-Miso Vegetables Continue reading

Pictures at an Exhibition: Smorgasburg Comes to Prospect Park

lumpiaIt was a rough and windy day for anyone trying to peddle lemonade, but somehow or other, it came just the same. Smorgasburg, the movable feast and Brooklyn Flea spinoff that has been charming Williamsburg for five years had its grand opening this Sunday in Prospect Park. It’s there every Sunday of the spring and summer from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m, so head over if you want to see any of these things: dogs in the throes of ecstasy at finding the dropped food and trash-robbing jackpot, discerning infants who can tell the difference between a ramp and a leek at fifty paces, bearded men who will tutor you in the restorative powers of mushroom tea, tiny fried eggs on a stick and lots of people picking roasted corn out of their teeth.

bulgogi sliderjianbing in progressTruly, though, Smorgasburg exceeded my expectations. Amid the more expected fare like French fries and pulled pork sandwiches was a lot of stuff that I’d never tasted before. Here are a few of the treasures we found on our sampling round: crispy Filipino-style spring rolls stuffed with adobo-marinated mushrooms from the Lumpia Shack; a saucy seitan bulgogi sandwich on a heavenly roll from Monk’s Vegan Smoke Shack; a wacky Shanghai street food crepe/omelet/rice cracker mash-up from Jianbing Co. The last one suffered from long lines, though to be fair, it also had some of the best entertainment in the form of passersby trying to figure out how to describe it. (“It’s like a giant taco thing.” Um. Not really.)

Plus we ate some French fries, because food doesn’t have to be novel to be delicious. Continue reading

Women’s Herstory Month: Sexism in Craft Beer

In the waning days of Women’s Herstory Month, let’s talk about why we even need to have a special month all for ourselves. Because women’s magazines. Because wage discrepancies and tube tops. Because being pressured into motherhood without women’s health care coverage and then the public shame of breastfeeding. Because the hyper-sexuality of commercials for anything and “abstinence only” teaching in schools. Because high heels and glass ceilings. Because the way I get touched by men all the time, and it’s supposed to be okay.

old-dominion-double-d-ipaAnd lastly, because craft beer labels! I don’t feel the need to list all the beers with questionable labels. Just Google “sexist beer labels” and be prepared to be embarrassed. So much improbable, gravitationally-challenged cleavage! So many cringingly gross sexual acts alluded to!

Come on, guys! Brewers: the majority of you are youngish white males with creative facial hair who give the distinct impression of being both fairly liberal and just awkward enough to want any chance with a woman you can get. In the same way talking about an ex-girlfriend on a date is a serious faux pas, recommending to me a bottle with a busty blond pin-up is really a turn-off. All that does is remind me of those lecherous old men at truck stops picking up magazines in black plastic. Men who prefer their women plastic, as well. Continue reading

Take Time to Eat the Roses Quiz

Image courtesy of Fine Dining Lovers

Image courtesy of Fine Dining Lovers

We’re a couple weeks shy of the true start of spring, but the weather is fooling me and a few brave crocus shoots into thinking otherwise. The flowers are on their way, dear readers, and they can be a feast for your taste buds in addition to your eyes. Below are the descriptions of eight delectably edible flowers, some of which you might eat on the regular without stopping to consider their flowery origins. Can you identify each one by its common name? If you can get six or more, consider yourself ready to spring into the season.

  1. It’s likely that you’ve seen these stuffed with cheese and fried, though they also make frequent appearances in other dishes, from the soups of Mexico to the risottos of Italy.
  2. Though these might look like berries, they’re actually the buds of a plant, usually pickled and often used in Mediterranean cuisine.
  3. These bright tropical blossoms make a tart and refreshing pink tea, but they can also be used in jams and sorbets.
  4. Ray Bradbury knew that you can make wine from the blossoms of this plant, and the French have a special soup made from the yellow flowers called creme de pissenlits.
  5. Kids on summer vacation learn that you can sample the sweet nectar of this climbing plant, but the entire bloom can also be enjoyed in salads and desserts. (The leaves and berries are mildly poisonous, though, so be careful!)
  6. These flowers are loved by gardeners for their bright color and insect repelling qualities, but they also have a peppery flavor and can even be used as a substitute for saffron.
  7. These flowers are most often dried and made into a tea known for its relaxing qualities, sometimes even prescribed as a gentle antidote to insomnia.
  8. Bakers have been candying these small, purple flowers since the 1800s, but they can also be eaten in salads or even used for infusing fancy cocktails and salad dressings.

Don’t scroll down or click continue until you’re ready for the answers! Continue reading

Trips Both Educational & Relaxing: The Beercation

bikinis

Please pass the discount chocolate hearts.

A few days before Valentine’s Day I went to Target to stock up on heart-shaped chocolate edibles that are my reason for the season, plus some stretchy, comfy pants to wear while eating. Much to my surprise, all the heart-shaped everythings were half-off and, instead of comfy pants, a jungle of bikinis greeted me in the lady’s department. I had forgotten that department stores operate on a retail version of “bar time,” and it was closing hour for winter.

While I try to spend as little of my existence on earth thinking about, purchasing, or wearing bikinis, the tiny, brightly colored scraps of fabric did remind me of summer, vacations, and then drinking good beer while on vacation. It’s one of my most favorite things to do.

There are two widely agreed upon types of vacations: the one in which you schedule every minute of your allotted time to fit in as much sightseeing as humanly possible; and the one in which you relax for every minute of your allotted time or until your brain attains the consistency of flan. There is no such complexity in beer-focused vacations. Continue reading

Roasted Pears with Wine

roasted pears

Yes, this photo is slightly out of focus, but I maintain that it is because of the delectable pear steam wafting off these babies.

I almost named these Presidential Pears, in honor of today’s holiday. (Jefferson was a big fan of wine, after all, and since that stuff about Washington and the cherry tree is probably apocryphal, anyway, why couldn’t it be a pear tree?) The truth is that these were more like Valentine Pears for us, but you definitely aren’t going to want to wait a whole year to try this delicious dessert.

The origin of this recipe lies, unfortunately, with the disappointment of my friend and co-worker Dominic, who accidentally ordered a nice bottle of what turned out to be dessert wine from Astor Wines, a lovely store with high standards and a tough return policy. Dessert wine, alas, is really not his thing, and after tiring of my helpful culinary suggestions about how he should use it, he decided to shut me up by just giving me the wine. Score! This recipe is super easy because the pears can roast while you’re eating your main course, and, served alongside a nice glass of the dessert wine itself, it’s seriously decadent. Go ahead and make up your very own holiday so you can celebrate by roasting these tonight; they’re worth it.

Roasted Wassail Pears Continue reading

Cure for the Common Valentine’s Day

Morethanbeer

Whoa, let’s not get carried away here…

Few holidays are loathed with the same venom as Valentine’s Day. I say, save all the energy you expend complaining about not getting a date and put it into not celebrating the day white man did not discover our land mass. No? Would it be different if you got Monday off? Maybe you just want to binge-watch John Hughes movies and aggressively eat obscene amounts of chocolate. You can do better than that! Let’s do it up right and drink the whole damn day away. Here are a few beers to pair with your own particular brand of self-hatred.

Say you intend to spend a reclusive evening alone on Valentine’s Day, as you’ve spent the entire beginning of the 14th spiraling down into a dark and inescapable funk after Facebook-stalking your ex and obsessing over the syntax and contextual hints of their most recent posts involving someone named Jamie. It is clear you need a stout, a Heart of Darkness from Magic Hat, to be specific. If you’re going to lose it, really go for it. Continue reading

A Rose by Any Other Name: Valentine Quiz

Great balls of chocolate! It’s nearly Valentine’s Day! Are you ready? Take the quiz below to find out if you’ve got the right stuff to select the perfect gift for your paramour. For each listed name, decide if it’s a rose variety, a type of dessert or a brand of wine. These are tricky, but if your results are better than chance (33%), consider yourself Cupid-ready.

  1. roseVelvet Devil
  2. Lady’s Navel
  3. Honky Tonk Blues
  4. Etoile de Hollande
  5. Purple Cowboy
  6. Floating Island
  7. Croquembouche
  8. The Poet’s Wife
  9. Mad Housewife
  10. Poire Belle Hélène
  11. Golden Wings
  12. The Wolf Trap

Don’t scroll down or click continue until you’re ready for the answers. Continue reading