Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Other White Meat

"You know all those assholes that don't get out of the way when you're trying to get on the subway? And all those crowds on the street? And the fucking UPS guy? Every last one of them used to cure meat. It's just how it used to be done."

Or something like that. Tom Mylan is a genius, a history buff, and a goddamned good butcher. By day, the carving artist is behind the scenes at Marlow & Sons, Diner, and Bonita. In the evening, he's a moonlighting educator at The Brooklyn Kitchen, where you can witness the miracle of turning a whole hog (actually a side) into chops, belly, jowls, loin, and yet even more cuts that I am unfortunately ignorant about.

The whole process takes a little under two hours, beginning with an espresso, and finishing with sauteed pork kidney. Along the way, you learn about each cut of meat, the best way to cook it, and trade secrets that you may or may not have read in The Omnivore's Dilemma (I'm certain that all 10 of us in attendance gave it a recent read). For instance, I learned that there's only two hanger steaks to a cow, meaning that if you and your date both get steak frites at your local bistro, you might as well eat the whole cow. Food for thought indeed. It's not only a lesson in butchery, but also sustainability.

What I love about the grassroots approach of programs like this is that the people running the show love what they do, and want nothing more than to share that joy with the masses. It sounds corny, but it's true. I felt like an amateur throughout the process, but in the end I was given all the tips I needed to make sure that the 8 pounds of pork that I walked away with (triple cut chops, belly, and ribs) were put to good use. Buen Provecho.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Dispatch from Philadelphia

Does a cheesesteak taste better when it's prepared in a stainless steel cart by an old man with a glass eye (at this point you should also ask yourself if a bear does you know what where)? Of course it does. But it's not the glass eye that improves the taste. It's actually the care with which the sandwich is prepared and the smiling service. It also helps to be in Philadelphia, where the bread is nothing short of a miracle, and the meat is grilled on a surface that has seen thousands of pounds of meat. Buen provecho.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Try Again Beca

Dear Nancy Whiskey Pub,
Why must you tarnish your perfectly cooked chicken wings with jarbecue sauce (barbecue sauce from a jar)? Please advise.


Thursday, June 05, 2008

Sometimes You Can't Depend on the Kindness of Strangers

Dear New Bartender at Lobo,

Quite frankly, you suck. Please don't quit your day job. Although after last night's performance, I doubt you could be good at anything. In what I consider to be a free country, why are we not allowed to have a $5 happy hour margarita at the bar and then sit at a table for dinner? We would have even been generous with the tippage. Instead, you get zero, which is what you deserved after being such a jerk, and to add insult to injury, your margarita skills are worse than Mr. and Mrs. T. Thank goodness the rest of the staff is consistently stellar. As for you, I hope your days at Lobo are numbered.


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Iced Crappy

Dear Au Bon Pain in Metrotech Center,

Your iced coffee tastes like dirty water. I was dangerously close to vomiting after a single sip. I would think it wise to cease and desist your miserable iced coffee operation and stick to asiago cheese bagels.


Monday, June 02, 2008


If burgers and budweisers aren't your thing for pre-game eats, Jackson Diner offers a great alternative right off the 7 train. Don't let the name fool you, the cuisine is Indian, and it's worth leaving a bit early to make a pit stop before Shea (although I did find it to be overpriced).

Located in a strip mall that offers everything from cell phones to Saris, Jackson Diner's sprawling dining room seems better fit for a monsoon wedding than a tailgate, but the Taj Mahal beer offers common ground, and even though there were no blue mountains on the label, the beer was just as crisp and refreshing as its rocky mountain alternative. After a few bottles to numb the tongue, start with samosas (classic) and paneer pakora (possibly classic, but nothing I've seen on Indian menus), and don't be shy with the green and brown sauce. The appetizers offer even more common ground due to the fact that they are deep fried. I imagine if we were tailgating at a cricket match, samosas and pakoras would be the snack of choice.

After a few piquant potato pockets and chewy cheese chunks, we ordered lamb korma, malai kofta, and chicken tikka makhanwala. To soak up the extra sauce, we ordered a couple of naan that were graciously divided for us to share (note: the garlic naan sucks unless you are in the vampire business). As much of a meat eater as I am, the clear winner of the three was the malai kofta, but I would have to say that it was all in the sauce. It had the appropriate amount of heat and it didn't stick with you, which allowed me to actually taste the other two dishes instead of giving me a numb tongue and a mouthful of spices that are supposedly exotic (even though I can get them at Met Food across the street). The korma and the tikka makhanwala (which I secretly hoped to be tikka masala with a different name) were both delicious, but definitely not life changing, and the portions were a little off. We had a ton of sauce left over once we finished the naan and the rice.

Overall, in Queens, each of these dishes were much spicier than any Manhattan counterpart, even in curry hill or curry row (although most of those places suck just as much as Jackson Diner's garlic naan). This could create issues once you're at the game, especially since the last place you want to be sitting is a wet seat smeared with muddy air force one footprints in the upper mezzanine toilet. If your stomach was not made for spicy food (i.e. you're a white boy), maybe stick to tailgating. Buen provecho.