Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Yum Mum (again)

So yesterday I stopped by Yum Mum on St. Marks after work again, thinking maybe I'd try something other than their coveted pork belly. When I walked in the two women working the counter recognized me as "the very enthusiastic pork belly girl" and asked me if I was there to order the "emperor" again. Not knowing what this mysterious "emperor" was, I came to discover that this is their very appropriate nickname for the pork belly over rice dish. I ended up getting the street style noodles with minced pork belly which was a nice switch up and great with the chili sauce. Can't rave enough about this place.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Broke in Brooklyn

I miss Paris. I miss the pain au chocolat I purchased at the boulangerie on the same street as my hotel, the same pain au chocolat I purchased daily for only 95 cents; I miss the french boys and the drinking age limit and the way the sun stays out till ten every day because France is geographically closer to the north pole than New York, but most of all, I miss Paris because Paris is not Brooklyn, and it is really hard to jump from a place of such splendor to a place of such misery.
Anyone who says "Brooklyn is the new Manhattan" needs to be dropped in the farthest, scariest reaches of Brooklyn and forced to navigate it barefoot until they find Manhattan. I'm certain that it is then and only then they will kiss the dirty manhattan streets, littered with angry hobos and empty shopping bags, grateful and beholden to the only truly great part about New York City and the only reason I came here.

My long time best friend thinks this is just a reaction to my current circumstances, and by that I mean being broke. I've been working for almost a month and have not yet received a paycheck. To get by I've been scraping the barrel, eating Slurpees from 7eleven and pizza from Two Bros ($1 for a slice of cheese!) As a matter of fact I met up with an old friend on my way to Two Bro's one day; Pork Belly. located on St. Marks, a new restaurant called Yum Mum had recently opened and what was on the menu? Five dollar pork belly over rice.
Now I may have never mentioned pork belly here before but I assure you every person I've spoken to since I had my first bite in April has gotten an earful of what I think of pork belly and now its your turn.

Pork Belly: God's greatest creation. Forget earth, forget Human Kind, the secret to life is Pork Belly. Succulent fat over tender chewy meat, it's like bacon X 10! If you're one of those people that thinks it can't get any better than bacon, then THINK AGAIN. So I stopped in and  splurged and nearly cried as my mouth imploded with bliss. It felt like there were little people dancing and chanting, "Thank You Thank You," inside my stomach. At Yum Mum ( http://www.facebook.com/jummumnyc ) the pork belly came over a bed of rice, blanketed with buttery lettuce and a zesty relish and tossed with two sweet kinds of sauces - a bean paste sauce over the pork and a sweet and salty mayo over the lettuce. Positively scrumptious (I've had it three times since).

And so began my quest to find the perfect pork belly recipe. The quest is still ongoing, but it started when I took my roommate out for her birthday to a place in Queens - GASP, a burrough other than Manhattan - called Salt and Fat (http://saltandfatny.com/), an BBQ asian fusion restaurant. My rave about this place will begin with the outstanding service. From start to finish I felt like a friend of the waiters and waitresses, and hosts and hostesses. They brought us free salami flavored popcorn to start the night with and free japanese milk yogurt drinks to end the night with, and in-between everything was just as splendid. The menu offers mainly appetizers and only four actual entrees. All the dishes are made to share and the appetizers are all more interesting and flavorful than the entrees, so order a bunch of appetizers rather than one entree. We ordered three. The first two came out so rapidly I thought our meal might be over before we could finish our bottle of wine. We ordered pork belly buns - pork belly fabulous as always but nothing I haven't already tasted - Korean BBQ wraps - the cheapest item on the menu and good for the price - and a Crispy Pork Trotter which was so smooth and creamy while crunchy at the same time I thought I might die from overstimulation. But the true star of our meal that night was the dish we did not order. Because of the short delay on our last appetizer they brought us out another, for free; Scallops with a roasted carrot puree, corn salsa, and dried capers. It wasn't just amazing because it was free, it was amazing because it was delicious. When I go back, which I most certainly will (even if it is in Queens) I'll be ordering three helpings of scallops.

I get my paycheck on Friday and hopefully that will be the end to my starvation. Maybe then Brooklyn won't seem so bleak, because hell I can already thank Salt and Fat for improving Queens. Maybe I'll find some worthwhile pork belly in Brooklyn. More to come!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


It's been almost two weeks since I landed in Dusseldorf, Germany for a layover and here I am today sitting in my bed - in my hotel room that smells like fish - typing away at my little blog that I have neglected so absentmindedly over the past few months, just as I would if I were in New York. Has nothing changed? No! Everything has changed! My feet have touched ancient soil, and, frankly, I will never be the same. I spent my afternoon wandering Roman Ruins barefoot. Everyone else had shoes on and everyone else was looking at me and my bare feet enviously ( or skeptically, who's to say really?). Of course when I thought Italy, what initially crossed my mind was not these haphazardly maintained decadent towers and arches, or the aching cobblestone streets, or the rain that I thought I had left behind in  New York; it was the food and the food only that I fantasized about in the weeks proceeding my adventure ( that, and maybe a man or two).

Unfortunately my journey began in a food lover's nightmare. Venice may promise gondola rides and the relaxation of reverberating sea tides, but it does not promise food. Most restaurants my grandma and I ate at served undercooked pasta, fish, and risotto to us, with one exception; we called it the Flying Fish, so its actual name evades me, but it was a restaurant a couple blocks from our hotel. More chic than the surrounding tourists traps, we were served a sumptuous bowl of scallop mushroom risotto; risotto cooked to perfection - each pearly little grain of rice finding a home in the crevices of my mouth. Unfortunately it was followed by a liver dish, which I don't have much of a taste for yet - working on it though! Though it was pricey, what isn't in Venice? I'll research that restaurant some more to provide actual details.

Human nature took us south down towards Florence, golden and buried in the Tuscan region it is - as I have grown up my whole life hearing - the "birthplace of the renaissance". Which makes it all the worse that we didn't get around to seeing Michelangelo's David. But as I have firm intentions on returning there, this doesn't worry me. SPOILER ALERT: Florence was by far my favorite Italian city. Not just because of several Lizzie McGuire-esque adventures I happened to have, but because of the general splendor of the city and its fabulous food. Not wanting a repeat of Venice, I did a little research on Florentine restaurants. We found most of our good eats around the Santa Croce Piazza. Our first expenditure was a little place called Ristorante Boccadama ( http://boccadama.com/ ), and not only was it our first eat in Florence it was our first truly good eat in all of Italy. Just so you know, a clue to which Italian restaurants will serve true Italian food is the bread; if you get stale bread or crackers, RUN. Anything less than moist, crunchy bread, promises pasta you could have made better. At Boccadama we ate under a canopy in the warmth of dusk watching and shooing as pigeons landed near our table on the piazza. I was sipping my white house wine (another tip: when in Italy order the house wine- not only is it generally cheaper it's also usually pretty good) when the waiter came by with one of my favorite meals of the trip.Roasted chicken in a creamy mushroom sauce. It was so good we had to go back for a second serving.

After Florence we headed to Rome. Rome reminded me so much of New York, I'd almost given up on it when lo and behold the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and the ruins took me by surprise. I'd almost completely forgotten they existed which made this trip all the more exciting. It was in Rome as well where I was reminded that Italy is the home of truly great gelatto... well maybe not all of Italy but certainly the Old Bridge Gelateria ( http://gelateriaoldbridge.com/en/). I'd been spoiled by Amorino, and was disappointed with most of the gelatto I had while in Italy, but this stuff blew even Amorino out of the water. Sure they don't turn your gelatto into a flower but why bother when everyone is stuffing it down their throats too quickly to notice anyways. It was so smooth and creamy I might as well have been eating butter, but much sweeter and much much colder. The only downside to this place, is there's a line out the door - but if you're sociable you'll make friends through your shared anticipation of glomming on such a perfect creamy and cold treat for any hot Italian day.

p.s. not in Italy anymore! France blog to come!