Monthly Archives: August 2008

Yummy Honeys: Kelly Choi

One of my favorite food shows. Image from http://www.nyc.gov

Ok I’m going to admit it; I’m more attracted to Caucasian women than Asian women. However I was totally smitten by Kelly Choi, who hosts NYC TV’s Eat Out NY. Choi, a former ford model and Korean by decent is statuesque with strikingly gorgeous features. Wow. She loves food and is beautiful. Can she cook? Who cares! Ms. Choi if you are ever reading this, help me return to the U.S. by marrying me! I need a visa plus I’m totally in love with you. I can cook. 

Hot. Image from http://www.timeout.com

She’s also incredibly smart and capable. She has a Master’s in journalism from Columbia. Plus she not only hosts Eat Out NY but she created the show in addition to writing, producing and directing it. Double wow. 

Kelly with Chef Daniel Boulud. Image from http://www.newyorksocialdiary.com

The show is fantastic. It’s New York-centric, and offers a great look at the chefs that make NYC such an amazing dining out city. My only complaint is that she sometimes lapses into baby talk. It can get annoying but my shallow self is willing to look past it, as her hotness will cover a multitude of sins. If you live in New York City look out for it. You can get more information here about Eat Out NY.  I miss my weekly dose of Kelly and the City.

Here is an episode of her show:

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Brooklyn Calling: Peter Luger Steak House Part 2

They are over a 120 years old!

“Are you kidding me!? We’re gonna get robbed or shot or raped,” came the reply from my friend when I suggested we go to Brooklyn. “Dude we’re going to Park Slope,” I replied, the land of brownstones, baby strollers and doggies. For some of my Manhattan dwelling friends, crossing over into Brooklyn just isn’t an option. And that’s a shame because they’re missing out.  My love affair with Brooklyn started when I moved into Hom’s apartment. It was three times the size of the shoebox that I was residing in, in the financial district, yet it was a third of the rent. It felt like a home. But best of all it also came with two amazing roommates. Then there were the weekly trips to Prospect Park for rugby and Monica’s awesome beginner’s soccer league. Nights at Bembe in Williamsburg for amazing world music and dancing coupled with the great (and cheap) caipirinhas and rum punches (those made with guava and not the watermelon.) There was Angie from the big grocery store near the Myrtle Ave subway stop whose smile could always brighten up my day. I remember being astounded by the barber near my apartment who had so much more skill and dedication yet charged a fraction of the price of the Manhattan hairdressers, which some of them didn’t even use scissors. (That will be $40 please. What!?) There was just something about Brooklyn and it’s people that I could empathize with and it endeared me to them and the place they called their home. 

So when Mahnaz, one of my closest friends whom I’ve known since college, asked me where I would like to go to eat on my last weekend in New York, I suggested Luger’s. I wanted to have that steak again, one last time before I departed. But I also wanted to try their burger and Schlag, (I love that word!) which is the German version of whipped cream.

I had the bacon again, it was excellent, no surprise there. But this time I noticed that some of the diner’s were having these ginormous slices of tomato and onion. (For $11! Wow.) I mean these were like mutant veggies, absolutely huge. You apparently ate them with the steak sauce. I could see the appeal of such huge veggies but you’re at a meat house, besides the creamed spinach there should be no consumption of vegetables.  Don’t be a pussy, order the bacon.

As we waited for our mains to come, I noticed a father and his young son a few tables away. They had the porterhouse and the father was teaching his son what I guess was a family tradition, probably taught to him by his father. He demonstrated to his son by taking a piece of meat and swishing it in the juices and butter that had pooled at the bottom of the plate. Then he pressed the meat on the hot outer edge of the plate, resulting in a satisfying sizzle. The son followed. I couldn’t help but smile at that touching moment. I hoped that I could one day replicate that scene.

“Which one is yours?” “The one that says big bad mofo.”

I split a rib steak and a Luger burger, both done medium with Mahnaz.  I know I know, the only way to eat is medium rare. But she was a well-done kinda gal. Sad, but she was already compromising on something that she rarely does. For that I’m grateful. The steak like the bacon was excellent. I’ve had been on the prowl for the best burger in the city. I had been to Shake Shack countless times and Burger Joint as well. But now, in my last week in New York, I found my favorite burger. The burger, which you can only get at lunch, comes bare, a sesame seed bun and Muenster cheese. On its own, it’s rather pedestrian, but when combined with the thick and juicy half-pound patty made with trimmings from their superb well-marbled steaks, it was amazing. The intense and defined flavor of the dry-aged beef translated into their burgers. This was now the burger in which I would compare other burgers to.

The best beef patty in New York

I didn’t really talk about the Luger steak sauce in the last post, but it plays an integral, if understated role. You have to realize that when you are eating half a cow, you need something that acts as a foil to all that bovine goodness or you risk beefy burnout. And the Luger sauce is perfect for that. It tastes like a sweet, tangy cocktail sauce without the bite of horseradish and it cuts through the fat and meatiness of the huge rib steaks. Now there’s a trick to it. Cows don’t swim, so don’t drown your meat in it. You don’t want to overpower that dry-aged goodness. A small dab is all that is needed on a piece of meat. The sauce is also fantastic on the Luger burger and it’s one of two reasons why I love this burger.

Schlag with a side of cheesecake 

Next came the schlag with a side of cheesecake. If it were up to me I’d just order the schlag and skip the cheesecake, which was good but nothing spectacular. But the schlag, oh man it was good. It’s like a cross between whipped cream and butter. It reminded me of the sublime clotted cream I had for tea at the Ritz in London, only fluffier. Come to think of it, I was with the same person here at Luger’s that I was with at the Ritz.

 A huge cloud of Schlag. Ja das heiBt gut!

After my schlag I was satisfied. I leaned back on my chair. The bottom of my palms slid across the unnaturally smooth wooden table. I love and would miss this place. It was, after all in my neighborhood. I passed it everyday on my way to work on the JMZ to Broad Street and it greeted me every night when I came home. I had some damn fine memories here in Brooklyn and some damn fine steaks too.

Mahnaz and I, stuffed after our meal 

Read part one here

 

Peter Luger Steak House

178 Broadway

Brooklyn, New York  11211

(718 ) 387-7400

http://www.peterluger.com

Call a week ahead for dinner. Better chances of getting a reservation at lunch.

Lunch (that means burgers) served from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  Monday to Saturday. Dinner available after till 9:45 p.m. Monday though Thursday, till 10:45 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Sunday from 12:30 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. (Information from the New York Times)

Price range

Bacon, $2.95. Burger, $7.95. With cheese, $1.50 extra. Steak for two, $83.90. For three, $125.85. For four, $167.80. Rib Steak, $38.95. Creamed Spinach for two, $8.95. Luger’s Special German Fried Potatoes for two, $10.95. Desserts, $8.95. CASH ONLY

Dress Code:

For all its tradition, the atmosphere at Luger’s is pretty casual. It looks like a Bavarian beer hall. Don’t expect white linen here. Dress accordingly. 

In Search of Manliness: Peter Luger Steak House Part 1

Peter Luger’s in Brooklyn

I live with two girls in my Brooklyn apartment. One of them loves to watch Lifetime. So that means I watch Lifetime. I put up with it because she’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever known and she’s hot. But sometimes it can be too much estrogen. So I was extremely glad when Kuang Wei (K-Dubs, my nickname for him when I would introduce him to my American friends,) an old army buddy that I hadn’t seen in a few years decided to visit me for a week.

I thought Peter Luger’s would be the perfect place for us to reminisce about the good old days and the bad old ways in Bravo Company, 2nd Singapore Infantry Regiment. Nothing like eating unadulterated meat and army talk in a bare bones surrounding to counteract all that Lifetime viewing.

It was a short trip west on the JMZ to Peter Luger’s, which is almost right under the Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn. I had thoroughly briefed my buddy on the concept of operations for lunch. There would be no asking for the menu, only tourists do that. We were to order the rib-eyes and creamed spinach. I know everyone gets the porterhouse, but we both preferred the rib-eye to the tenderloin (smaller side of the porterhouse) and strip loin (larger side.)

Bacon and beer for breakfast = awesome

Like the army though, things rarely go as planned.

First the menu was given without us asking for it.

We ordered two rib steaks, which are rib-eyes with the bone on, creamed spinach and beer.

“Would you like some bacon?” the waiter asked.

Bacon? In this Bovine temple? What the heck, I do loooove bacon.

“Sure,” I said.  “Oh and do you have Brooklyn Larger?”

“Yes,” he replied.

“Can we get that instead of the beer we just ordered.”

“Excellent excellent choice,” the waiter intoned with a hint of a smile.

Why I do believe that this waiter actually likes us.

I was surprised by the disposition of the waiter. I was expecting more of the gruff service I had heard so much about. But this waiter was relatively young compared to the old timers who were patrolling the room.

Bacon as it should be

I was so glad that the waiter suggested the bacon. It was the most glorious slab/piece of bacon ever. In a culture that likes its bacon cooked to a carbonised crisp, this was bacon as it was truly intended: thick, with a bit of char. I bit into it and it was succulent and juicy with an intense porky favour. I closed my eyes hoping that I could remember this moment and the taste of that bacon for the rest of my life. It was utterly magnificent. Towards the end, I tried a little of the famous Luger steak sauce on it, I hesitated before because I did not want to pollute the pristine porkiness. But the sauce’s sweet tanginess gave a nice counterpoint to the bacon. I washed the rest down with my Brooklyn Lager, a perfect pairing, bacon and beer at 11:45 in the morning.

A glorious rib steak with a side of creamed spinach 

Next came the assault on our main objective; a massive rib steak for each of us. This is one HUGE slab of cow. Its primal, its badass and it is manly. You feel like a lion when you eat it. And man was it good eating. The rib-eye is my absolute favourite cut. Its big, thick but more importantly its well marbled with fat, making it the juiciest, most flavourful cut of beef around. Fuck the filet mignon. I ordered mine medium rare. It came just a tad rarer than that, which is actually how I prefer it. But I seldom ask for “medium rare but more to the rare side” unless I personally know the chef, because what usually comes is seared beef sashimi. This steak was perfect. There was slight char on exterior, the interior was buttery soft as my knife glided though it. The meat was intensely flavourful. I never had a steak that tasted so good. It made me swoon. The juicy piece of meat tasted rich with a funky mineral aroma. I now knew what beef is supposed to taste like. Eating a steak at Peter Luger’s is like watching something in high definition for the first time. The clarity (of flavor) will amaze you.

This is where the uphill battle begins. The meat is so good, so flavourful and juicy that I couldn’t stop eating. I stuffed myself more and more. Just when I thought I had no more room for the steak, and tell myself I’ll stop, I would eat another slice. Then another. It was so good. Just one more bite. I’d stop, put my fork and knife parallel to each other on the plate, only to pick it up three minutes later.

 Buttery tender bovine goodness

I was leaving New York and I would probably never have a steak this good again. I took another bite, savouring the taste. I was beyond full now. Yet I was going to finish that steak. I had never given up on any mission while in the army. And I wasn’t going to give up on not finishing this steak. I was single-minded in the complete and utter consumption of this piece of meat. 2 S.I.R! Roar!

About 30 ounces of prime, dry-aged rib steak later, I finished it. I couldn’t really move after that. I think I need a helo for a medavac. Call one in and pop smoke will ya K-Dubs.

(K-Duds and I would eventually try to walk it off by crossing the Williamsburg Bridge on foot… only to walk to Il Laboratorio del Gelato for dessert. Apparently my stomach has a reserve for ice cream even though it’s full.)

After a meal at Peter Luger’s with the guys, a newly (re)empowered husband returns home, I wonder what the conversation would be like…

Husband: “Honey I’m home.”

Wife: “Hey Hon could you help me take out the trash please?”

Husband: “Take out the trash? Bitch I’m gonna watch the game! And why don’t we have any snacks in here? Why don’t you take yourself to the kitchen and make something!”

Wife: (in steely icy voice) Now Hon, if you ever, ever talk to me in that tone, you will never ever have sex with me or any woman again. Do I make myself clear?

Husband: Yes Dear.

Wife: Now go take out the trash.

Husband: Yes Dear.

Wife: And as for the food, go make it yourself. Me and my “bitches” are going to have a little public affair downtown. I’m out!

Husband: Yes Dear.

Check back soon for Part 2 of my experience at Peter Luger’s

Read part two here. 

Yummy Honeys: Maggie Gyllenhaal

Image from thecinemasource.com 

Ok I’ll admit that this one is kind of a stretch. But I recently watched Dark Knight and Maggie Gyllenhaal looked beautiful in it. (So there is the honey part.) I don’t normally think of her as sexy, but that all changed after watching her portrayal of an anarchist baker (and the yummy part) in the movie Stranger Than Fiction.  I never realized how pastry, civil disobedience, tats and slinky tank tops could be so alluring. I wish there were more bakers like her around. Screw the Atkins! I’m going for a muffin!

Image from powet.tv

Never have thrown dough and the words “get bent tax man” been so hot. Watch it here:

Another reason why her character is so hot in this movie:

Also a pseudo related food scene here. This is one of the most romantic scenes I’ve ever seen in a movie. Anyone dating a pâtissier? This is how to get into their pants:

Plus, as a bonus, a really cool song from Wreckless Eric:

So there you have it, Maggie Gyllenhaal, hottie baker, theimportanceofsalt.com’s yummy honey of the month.

My Toys: Molds

Some of my molds 

Ever wonder how the chef made that perfect circle of tuna tartare, the towering tian of crabmeat and that majestic pyramid of flourless chocolate cake? You might think it’s the chef’s mojo and the years of culinary experience in a galaxy of Michelin starred restaurants. Let me fill you in on a little secret: You can make those perfectly geometric plates of food yourself! With molds!

Molds are probably one of the cheapest ways to pimp up your plate. They cost one or two dollars if you get them at the restaurant supply stores on Bowery near Chinatown in NYC or coincidentally at the restaurant supply stores on Temple Street in Chinatown if you are in Singapore. (With the exception of the pyramid molds, which for some reason are always expensive.)

Not all molds are made the same though. When buying them, make sure that their shape is as perfect as possible. Sometimes the circles are a little oval and the squares aren’t exactly squares. I once spent 30 minutes sorting though a bin of square molds to make sure that all the walls were exactly at right angles to each other. I guess you get what you pay for.

I’m always on the lookout for interesting and unusual molds. People really perk up and notice if it’s not your ordinary circle. “Look honey it’s a trapezoid! And there’s a parallelogram and a rhombus!” Use these cool molds to create thin layers of shapes on a plate, say maybe using some langoustine Carpaccio. Or stack up different ingredients on top of each other. You can see how stacking with molds is done in my Pimp My Plate section here