Thursday, October 6, 2011


Living in New York you know all about the food trucks. The good the bad the ugly and now the vast improvement that has been made on this New York tradition. Now I can say that as a true New Yorker, it is necessary to eat from one of these trucks once in your life. I mean its just necessary and often you won’t have a choice as you do your hustle in the city.
After receiving many bad raps regarding storage or hygiene many of these trucks in recent years are now owned by fledging would be restaurateurs, chefs. specialty cooks who have found their passion in serving up their delicacies right on the street. We now have what’s called the Vendy awards given every year to the most outstanding truck and this has become nationwide.

I’ll stop here as I could go on and on about these trucks because this is really about a sandwich inspired by one of the Vendy 2010 nominees  called the “Patacones”. The truck I took the idea from was Patacon Pisao located at 431 W. 202nd Street New York, NY 10034 between 9th and 10th.

The sandwich inspired from them is a delectable melange of flavors that I created with what was available in the pantry.

I started with beef, you could use type of meat or even a great vegetarian warm mushroom salad. The beef is marinated in ginger, garlic, oregano, salt, Pepper, and a pinch of sugar and sautéed quickly.

I roasted the corn right on the stove. It works great but if your kitchen is small use the vent. Use a medium to medium high heat turning frequently. Don’t worry about the popping. The corn will start to smell really good and it will start to brown and char a bit. Gage it to your own liking as even raw it is quite delicious and full of fiber.

The plantains are peeled cut in half and deep fried, mashed and then refried again. You may skip refrying for a more chewy plantain but the second time makes it extra crunchy.

The corn is removed from the cob, fresh cilantro, julienned jalapeños (from the garden), salt, pepper, olive oil and oregano are all tossed together with chipotle mayonnaise .

You make this simply by blending chipotle peppers and mayonnaise to top this off and voila!

The finished project is as delicious as it is messy but so worth the adventure to make! Thanks Patacon Pisao.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

BUTTA PARKAY!!! (Part 2)

Don’t you love Parmigiano Reggiano cheese? I know I’m on the cheese thing again! But the fact is that my other butter comes from this area.

Location, location, location,!  In this case an incredibly rich area of Italy

The Piazza in Reggio Emila! I loved Europe for this!

It is called Delitia, but I call it Delite!This butter is very fragrant but has a delicate flavor that instantly melts on your tongue. Now let me explain this for a minute; If you take a small amount of say Land O’ Lakes butter on your tongue it melts to an oily water feel. You will recognize instantly with this butter it disolves in a sweet creaminess and then is gone with no aftertaste.

Delightful Delitia!

The milk is collected from Parma and Reggio Emilia family owned farms. The pasteurized creams from the milk is strictly selected in accordance with extraordinary and rigorous disciplinary of production leaving this butter in my opinion without equal!

Farm area in the Reggio Emilio

This dense butter has its water content during production dispersed in fine droplets which make the butter look dry. The butterfat however, at around 83% makes it nice, nice, nice!

What to enjoy this with best you ask? Fresh baked bread, any kind! It is so luscious it will then easily guide you to enjoy it on all your favorite foods! Someone say lobster!!! The clarified butter this produces is all flavor, and flavor so intense that Alaskan King Crabs take on a whole new meaning!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

BUTTA!!! PARKAY!!! (Part 1)

Butta Parkay!!!

I love butter! Make no apologies for it! Is always on the conquest for the good better, best butter! In fact in Jamaica the big pound bar of butter is called “Best Butter”. Now just calling yourself ‘best’ doesn’t mean you are! Butter has several components that create the flavor so desired by those who enjoy this dairy treat. So depending on the water content, salt, and whether its cow, sheep, or even buffalo, the flavor can differ greatly! Oh and using the word dairy loosely I am! It appears there is also almond butter, peanut butter, apple butter, and a host of other butters out there. At this time, we are dealing with two of my favorite ‘dairy’ butters that I simply love and would love to share with you.
Before I go further I encourage you to check WIKI for an in depth discussion regarding butter. But so as not to bore everyone suffice to say “butter is a water-in-oil emulsion resulting from an inversion of the cream, an oil-in-water emulsion; the milk proteins are the emulsifiers.  Butter remains a solid when refrigerated, but softens to a spread able consistency at room temperature, and melts to a thin liquid consistency when heated,” That quote is taken directly from the WIKI page as I couldn’t have said it better if I tried!

Kerry the Irish
The Dubliner that started all of this!
 My sister is a cheese junkie! All kinds, every kind! Even my first experience with the stinky cheese was through her. And so when she gave me a taste of Kerrygold’s Dubliner cheese I wasn’t surprised that it was incredible! Yes I remember we are talking butter! I then found there was a host of wonderful products by this brand.

When I stumbled upon the butter in my local grocers, I ran home in sheer delight to cook my Patty Ann squashes and mini-zucchinis with it and would not be disappointed!

Preparing the squashes

In the pan with the mini zuchini

The butter and sea salt is all the magic needed

You have already guessed no doubt that Kerrygold hails from the ‘Island of 40 shades of green’ as Ireland is frequently referred to. Kerrygold also has its own website. The website is quite thorough and rather incredible as they really attempt to share a piece of Ireland with you so I encourage you to visit it! Kerrygold Butter is made by a cooperative of farmers and dairy creameries in Ireland and comes both salted and unsalted.

Ok so I started using before I took the picture! YUM

The cows are grass fed (and we all know what Ireland looks like). They produce the sweet, rich milk , which makes the butter taste silky and creamy. The rich intense grass creates a butter with a high beta-carotene content and gives the butter a healthy, golden yellow glow. It’s a great all-purpose, European-style butter that leaves no question that you will use this butter again and again! It also has a high butterfat content and as we know the less water, more flavor! The Ghee that you make from this butter is intense and nutty to taste soon to be a staple in your pantry!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

For The Love of Oysters

Many many years ago when the world was young and so was I, I fell in love with oysters. I have always seen food as an adventure and have never been afraid to try anything except pork products. Oysters were no exception and my first experience with them was raw at now defunct Studebakers Restaurant on the west coast of Florida. You see on Sundays it was all you could eat seafood as long as you kept drinking. Fruit de Mer in abundance and dancing too. It was oldies but we didn’t care, we had free seafood and libations at prices no longer seen.
It occurred to me to often down several dozen oysters with friends as the fishmonger/server guy took us through the different varietals. And I quickly graduated from oysters doused in cocktail sauce and horseradish to au naturel. A fresh oyster needs nothing but your assistance in enjoying! Interesting now that I look back I was never really interested in shucking them, only eating them. Though I really enjoyed watching the performance of some shuckers my goal was to consume as much as they and my body would let me.
Fast-forward I’m in the grocery just recently staring down at some of the most delicious looking oysters I had seen in a minute and my mouth quickly watered ’a la Wendy Williams’ at the memories of my years of oyster eating chow downs that were so important to me at one time. I had to get some and test the waters so to speak but how to shuck them?!? Did I need a shucking knife now? Well my trusty fish monger told me 15 minutes on the freezer and they would relax enough so that a knife would slip right in! Turns out he was right and I must say I impressed even me!!! Turns out it impressed my husband’s difficult to please Aunt as well! The kitchen Gods smile!

A little history about oysters

The jewels of the sea fully scrubbed and ready for the freezer

Oysters have a long history on the human table. There is proof that they were consumed as far back as pre-historic times. Traditionally, oysters were considered to be an aphrodisiac. Due to their high zinc content and also the fact that they are rich in amino acids it turns out these help generously in the sex department.
These lovely creatures vary in North America from a West Coast oyster such as the Tornado Cove or Royal Miyagi which taste less like the ocean and a bit more buttery and or even the distinctive taste of the famous Kumamoto from Humboldt Bay The Blue Point from New York and the Cape May in New Jersey. There are more varieties as well and the water and its content will really determines its flavor.

It was once assumed that oysters were only safe to eat in months with the letter ‘r’ in their English and French names. This is a myth whose basis in truth is that in the northern hemisphere oysters are much more likely to spoil in May, June, July, and August. This is really about the water temperature and my only advice because man always messes with nature (pollution), people who have a low immune system may want to stay away from them during these months. I don’t know but also do not think this applies to farm raised oysters.

What To Do! What to Do!

Oysters are eaten in every way possible including pickled! It or its liqueur is also used in a variety of drinks. Oysters Rockefeller is divine but I cant ever imagine anything more delicious as cracking open the shell fresh caught with nothing but anticipation!. Oysters to me are best served raw and cold! Rich in vitamins and minerals (please note I feel nothing farm raised is going to be what I think nature intended so I only buy sustainable wild seafood), they are also low in calories which make it a great for calorie conscious folks.
Oyster has a very complex flavor and depending on which region your oysters are from the flavor will also vary. Their ‘flavor profile’ you will find sometimes sweet with a fruity finish, sometimes briny, salty, and the texture can vary as well. I realize there are those who will never get over the explosions of flavor from a very delicate fleshy yet firm texture but I delight in it!
Below is my own version of a Mignonette sauce, which is just a lemon wine and shallot based sauce that works well with wine and when the plan is to consume as much oysters as possible.

The oysters will need cleaning so a good sturdy kitchen or seafood brush comes in handy here.  As an amateur I made sure I scrubbed to avoid any grit when serving.   I then placed them in the fridge for approximately 12 to 15 minutes.  This does depend on the fridge so its ok to start checking after 10 minutes or so. 
Slipping the knife gently under preserves the delicate meat

You won't see any big crack openings but an ever so slight space to insert your knife. I used a big towel to avoid cutting my hand off.  Shucking does take some strenght and some getting used to.  I also used my kitchen counter as a level surface to avoid spilling one drop of the delicious oyster liqueur.   When shucking, once the oysters have opened gently take the knife and run under the oyster to detach it from the shell and make it easier to eat.  I then placed the oysters on a bed of ice, saran wrapped and placed them in the refrigerator while I made the sauce.

Saucy Sauce

I knew I wanted to have a lemon based sauce, but also light enough to complement and not mask all the flavors and textures the oyster so lovingly shares. To accomplish this I compiled the following ingredients
1/2 a medium jalapeño finely chopped
Small bunch of cilantro finely chopped
1 mediun shallot finely chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
fresh ground pepper
dash of red pepper flakes

Mix all ingredients together well. Spoon about 1/2 a tablespoon on  each oyster depending on size and to taste.  Serve immediately so a not to allow the lemon juice to cook the meat.

Finely diced shallots, jalepenos, lemon juice and more tops the oysters.

Whiney Winey

This can be a very contentious issue.  You know, the wine thing!  Seems everyone is their own best..... and worst sommelier and more and more everyone has their own opinion on which wine works with what, and why.  Well I, also being opinionated will make my own suggestion.  To compliment my oysters a clean light wine is best so I got a chardonnay/chenin blend.  The chard for the oakiness and subtle flavor, the chenin for its light and fresh taste so as not to cancel the oyster flavors but rather round the flavors out.  Both have a bit of fruitiness so the blend is superb for most oyster varietals.

The finished delightfully delicious dish

It is still a dish I'm working on getting my husband to try.  He simply could not get past the glistening jewels staring back at him.  I've heard it said that most try their first oyster almost always raw, and on a dare.  Frankly I enjoy them so I dont think I'm ready to dare him yet!

Mofongo, Its Easy!

Plantains Ripe and Green

Fried plantains, ripe and green, they are as much a part of my heritage as apple pie to America. And though not Puerto Rican I have always enjoyed a well made Mofongo. Well to be honest it really is very difficult to mess up mashed plantains and pork cracklings mixed together in a garlicky sauce. Mofongo, is one of the most popular dishes in Puerto Rico. It has clear roots in the Fufu of West Africa.


Fufu is a mash of yams or other starches served as an accompaniment to meat or vegetable stews. To eat fufu, pull a small ball of mush off with your fingers, form an indentation with your thumb and use it to scoop up stews and other dishes. Or place large balls in individual serving bowls and spoon stew around them.
Now when I think of it, I grew up eating mashed green bananas with butter salt and pepper. Don’t knock it till you try it with well cooked Five Spice Stewed Chicken. I must now pick my jaw up from of the floor. Oh yes this was about Mofongo!

Mofongo in a Pilon

The classic way to serve mofongo is in the bamboo mortar (pilón) in which it was mashed. Sometimes the meat is added right in the center of the mash and served as a complete dish. I have also seen it formed in balls as a side dish. Now here is where you can make it more user friendly. No charronnes! I don’t eat it but it does add the delish flavor with the garlic and olive oil. You can still add the garlic and olive oil or omit all together. If you choose to omit, work quickly as it will dry out quickly.

Served as a side

Now I decided to go a stretch further.  After frying the plantains the first time, mash them while warm and cover with a damp cloth so mixture stays moist while forming cups.. Lightly grease a small cup with canola oil (the best is a Asian tea cup).
Take the greased cup and stuff it with the mashed plantain. Form a shell with the mixture about ¼ inch thick and gently slide the plantain cups from the tea cups. These are then refried to form what you see below. Any stewed meat mixture from shrimp, chicken, pulled pork, beef, goat. Ah the delight!!!

I made a chicken chipotle mixture with raisins chopped cilantro and scallions pictured below. One cup per person was enough served with rice and a salsa salad.

Decilious chicken filling

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sangria Granita

I’ve made Granita many times. The first time I fearfully followed the recipe. Me a seasoned cook scared to mess up! Well it came out great and since then I’ve made many varieties including Blood Orange, to White Sangria and Peaches.
Granita, Also known as ‘granita siciliana‘, originated from Sicily. In most of Sicily, it has a coarser, more crystalline texture. Other areas throughout Italy have different desired textures. This is acquired as a result of different freezing techniques. It is related to sorbet and Italian ice and as stated before goes from chunky in the west to smooth in the west.
This particular one is unbelievably simple and shows that you can literally use whatever you have on hand to create an elegant easy desert on short notice. I should mention taking the freezing time in to account! That’s the
only issue with my “short notice”.

Granita Sangria
½ a Lemon
1 Orange
2 cups water
1 Cup fruit juice
6 tablespoons sugar
5 Cloves
2 Cups Red Wine
Heat Water, Sugar, Cloves to a boil remove from heat.  Here if you choose to you may also zest the fruits and add it.  The zest from the fruits will give an added depth to your Granita!

As soon as its not too hot add fruit juice, lemon juice, fresh orange juice cinnamon and set aside to cool. You can adjust the taste to make it sweeter if you like.
Place in a large shallow pan and add the two cups of red wine. Swirl the liquid in the pan and place in the freezer.

As the mixture starts to freeze use a fork to constantly swirl the mixture. Do not allow it to get solid. This is the hardest part of the whole thing but
you must pay attention to avoid having one big block.

It will look like this

And then like this

And finally, the finished product.

I serve granita in Martini glasses rimmed in organic brown sugar. Here’s one of my faves to serve it in! Enjoy...

Ernest Hemingway Marinades

The use of prepackaged mixes and marinades are not one I always fully endorsed but as it turns out not all are created equal. And I if I find a gem chances are I’m going to share it! As a Foodinista (God that ista this is so overdone) I love finding new ideas and flavors and I prefer to find it in a supermarket so that it can be easily obtained by all!
The brand is Ernest Hemingway Marinades and the particular one I overused is Kenya Lemon and White Wine. I can’t begin to tell you the ideas that kept coming up due to this marinade. So I have a few dishes I would like to share with you that were inspired from this humble bottle!

My husband hates vegetables. Indeed he thinks that he ate enough vegetables and now there is no need to keep up with the current movement of the healthy eater. I discovered that he will eat micro-greens salad. I guess they’re so tiny and frankly to me, so delicious he cant help himself! So the idea to pair them with seared scallops was quite exciting with this marinade.

The Scallops fresh from Fairways were marinated in the marinade for two hours with a wonderful bulb of shallots (my onion flavor for the Summer 2010). If you want a more intense flavor do it longer but be careful you may end up with a cevechie type effect so two would be the maximum for scallops. As usual an extremely hot pan and canola oil as it stands up to more intense heat and has a neutral flavor unlike olive oil.
Quickly sear each side less that 3 minutes on either side. Add the marinade to the frying pan after the scallops are done and cook until reduced. The shallots will caramelize sweet. Place the shallots on top of the micro greens and garnish with the reduction.

Another dish this marinade effortlessly complimented was a swordfish. I marinated it and broiled it with Sweet Vidalia onions. Basmati rice and a salad of Raddichio and Butterleaf lettuce. Lay the leaves flat on top of each other. Roll tightly and chiffonade. I only added fresh ground black pepper and a tad of oil more to the dressing.

Another simple quick and easy dish is to take jumbo or colossal shrimp and marinade them. Again fresh chopped shallots and fresh ground pepper with a dash of chili pepper flakes.  It's a quick and easy snack and a great appetizer.

Simple and easy these dishes can be made in less than half an hour for a quick and easy weekday meal or like the scallops and micro greens a beautiful first course for an elegant dinner party.
Elegant Eating! 
And you are welcome.


The restaurant located in the SOHO district, New York City takes its name from Barolo, a town in the Piedmont region of Italy. Think where the knee would be of the boot geographically speaking and that’s the area! There is an extensive amount to information about this area were the famed Barolo “The Wine of Kings and the King of Wines” hails from, for here too you get Barbaresco and the Nebbiolo grape the base of Barolo wine, Barbera, (the other one I recognize), and foods such as Risotto and, Polenta, White Truffle, hearty Seafood Stews and Earthy Meat dishes that lend themselves well to this complex wine and others in the region.

Well not my intention to be and Italian historian for you to fall out of your chair in boredom, lets talk FOOOD! My first exposure to this restaurant was a Sunday morning reading the newspaper, and watching a show called Brindiamo, well the TV was really watching me but I started to pay attention when Ornella Fado the show’s host showed the garden terrace in the restaurant! I love finding little nooks and crannies like that in Manhattan. You feel transported if only for a moment from the hustle.
Serralunga d'Alba, Piemonte, Italia

Well I watched her enjoy a tour with the owner Paolo Secondo, he himself from the Barolo region and Chef Bergamini who delighted her by preparing some of the dishes on the terrace!
I have to warn you up front one of her favorites the focaccia Genovese which is a typical bread from the region of Liguria tends to be more salty than what many are used to but I enjoyed it with the balsamic vinegar and olive oil dip!

the place

There is a story behind this water feature! Positively forgot though but here are some view of the terrace. All this tucked away for you to enjoy in the middle (well not exactly middle on a map) of Manhattan.

Ornella Fado and Paulo Facundo At the water feature in the garden terrace
Another view of the terrace

The Terrace at night....

It was a ladies lunch day with a 11 year old nephew thrown in for good measure. We went to The Frick Collection, a must see if you visit New York and an old favorite of my family. Pearl River next, Sis had things she wanted to get for the home. Pearl River has a treasure chest of all kinds of goodies from Asia (and a little tea place if you keep going up!). Anyway we left there, I peek Top Shop out the corner of my eye (its right across the street) but resisted temptation as its more my kinda stop than theirs!

Everyone was hungry nephew wanted Ollies (our regular) and we didnt want to go too far to feed that hunger! We ended walking right up Broadway and the long front entrance of Barolo kept calling us in. We took a peek and after looking at the menu decided this would do nicely for lunch. Sis doesn't like to compromise especially when it comes to Mom by the way so this was perfect.

Old fashion Italian, white tablecloths, and the three glasses for water, white and red! Yes it was getting better as we walked in. We went through the front dining room up the stairs to the terrace dining room where you could then proceed to the garden with the water feature as the focal point but alas we couldn't sit outside because it was a bit too hot. We got a great banquet booth and the sky light in that room as you can see from the pictures made it as nice as being outside.

We sat against the wall in the booth in the background

Well Mom was in heaven, sis happy, myself elated and my nephew utterly fasinated.......with his new "Verizon wireless" (note the quotes because he kept saying that like the two words were mated for life).

the food

Impeccable service, Pelligrino water, Genovese focaccia, olive oil and balsamic vinegar all came quickly! The waiter waited on us with such care and was quick to explain to my Mom what to expect with the Orata. (yes I'm getting there).

So we started with the appetizers the Polpo Grigliato con Patate e Olive (Grilled octopus new potatoes and black olives tossed in light lemon vinaigrette and olive oil cured olives with capers), I can't begin to tell you the joy of cutting into an Octupus with a fork. The lemon sauce never overpowered the dish but just lent an undernote of citrus and acidity while the capers and olive oil cured olives gave a saltiness and bite perfectly complementing the Octupus. The Zuppa del Giorno (Soup of the day Roasted tomato and Fennel Soup) on a hot summer's day was just what the heat ordered. The hint of char reminding you of the grill was quickly mellowed out with sweet tomatoes refreshing fennel and a swirl of basil coolie dancing on top with creme fraiche. Wait, Im still tasting....
FRITTO MISTO DI PESCE (Fried calamari, shrimp and zucchini) was the nephew's choice and we ordered his when we did the appetizers because, well you know kids! And as you can imagine he could not finish it so I helped, and often. You have got to try this heaping helping of heaven. The calamari was no more than you should expect, the zucchini was not SOGGY (it can be done) but the shrimp had me (and Mom) at HELLO. Hello Shrimp, that reminded me that it could be deep fried and still tender because it wasn't over cooked, and the ocean sweetness that says fresh, today, and not frozen...yes I can tell. Now good-bye you delicious morsel while I eat you! Have you ever spoken to your food? You will here!

The Spagetti and Lobster were my Sis and my choice cause, well, its lobster and its pasta, and we were not dissapointed with a spicy red sauce, al dente (for real) spaghetti, and two generous lobster tails, again not frozen! Ah it doesn't stop on the fresh seafood here. Mom had the broiled Orata with potatoes. This fish, this medeterranian fish from the bream family was considered sacred to the goddess Aphrodite. I googled it! I had to. The flavor closest to the snapper fish is still better than the snapper fish. They fly this stuff in and it is well worth it! And by the way Aphrodite I get ya!!!

The sweetest, fluffiest flesh that you could imagine and butter and baby potatoes! It was a whole fish and though they wanted to fillet it for Mom she wasn't having it. I helped her there too. Never had that Orata fish before! Definitely will again! On the side garlic spinach a simple saute in butter with paper thin slivers of garlic.

Generous portions served meant hardly a space for desert but who could avoid trying at least one right! Well we also agreed and ordered Tortino di Cioccolato Fondente (Flourless dark chocolate cake with white chocolate sauce and fresh berries)
Gelati e Sorbetti del Giorno (Raspberry) Tiramisu (Layered cake with mascarpone, ladyfingers and espresso coffee),

I think that was it! By then I was so drunk with food and hospitality it really didn't matter. Total delight that place for lunch and we left feeling this would be added to our list.

I dont want you to miss out on this delight and we did not go into the fine wine list because we didnt drink that day. Suffice to say a wine list boasting over 1200 labels can be found here for you to explore with gracious assistance.Stop by you'll delight all your senses here!!!

398 W Broadway
New York, NY 10012-4302
(212) 226-1102

All restuarant pictures taken from Barolo's website. I did let someone know and the other picture credits are available at Google images. Seems I was so busy eating it didn't occur to me to take pictures. Ah the mistakes of a fledging commentator/critic!
Resource credits to: