Monday, October 31, 2011

Spooky Seasonal Sweets

Takahachi bakery is a small French pâtisserie in Tribeca that is owned and operated by a very pleasant and skilled Japanese crew.  Franco-Japanese food fusion is not an uncommon pairing, but it's not all too often that you see it so well executed.

Takahachi Bakery  
25 Murray Street
New York, NY

Everything I've tried here has been worthy of seconds, however, their seasonal black and orange macarons (in honor of Halloween) are not to be missed.  The orange is pumpkin and the black is "goma", or black sesame seed.

The pumpkin tasted more like pumpkin and less like pumpkin pie, which is a good thing.  The "goma" variety tasted a lot like red bean -- a little sweet, a little earthy, a little strange.  If you are in the area, put down $3 for the pair, you won't be disappointed.

© 2011 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable -

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Who's Who Among Moon Men?

Going to the Museum as a kid was always exciting -- mostly for the dinosaurs, but also for freeze-dried ice cream.  I haven't had one of these since 1989, and it was just as fun as I'd remembered.

 Purchased at Paragon Sports, of all places.
Sure, it's like eating flavored chalk, but the delicious nostalgia is really what you're after. The vanilla was bland and the chocolate tasted a bit like mud, but the strawberry was pretty yum.  It should also be noted that they're a bit harder than I had recalled, and I might have chipped a tooth...  

All-in-all this was a good experience.

© 2011 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable -

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Thrilla in Manila

Filipino food tastes like Thai food did before restaurants started catering to white people -- exotic and unrefined. Tangy tamarind and the pungent punch of shrimp paste dominate many of the dishes.  Filipino cuisine is a curious mishmash of Spanish & Asian influences that reflect the diverse colonial history of the Philippines.  Chicken Adobo, lumpia (spring rolls), and BBQ pork belly are honest entry level expeditions for exploring Filipino fare; however, more adventurous eaters might enjoy the traditional offal stew, Kare Kare.

Manila! Manila! Resto Grill
47-16 30th Ave
Astoria, NY 11103
Neighborhood: Astoria
(718) 726-2415

Halo Halo (translates to "mix-mix") is a notable Filipino dessert that consists of a mixture of shaved ice and evaporated milk.  The purple ice cream is made from taro and has an luxurious velvety texture.  Coconut gel, sweet beans, flan, and jackfruit are often added to the mix resulting in the most playful dessert you've ever had.  If there was ever one dish that justified trying a new cuisine, it's Halo Halo.

© 2011 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable -

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Shake Hands w/ Beef

Leave it to Chicago to figure out how to combine the decadent indulgence of a cheese steak w/ the comforting sensibilities of a home-cooked pot roast.  They don't get much press on the East coast, but these humble hoagies have the sandwich sector on lock in the Midwest.

Chicago-style Italian beef is best enjoyed stuffed inside of a crusty loaf, slathered in its own juices and topped w/ giardiniera for some tang.  While not mandatory, a few slices of provolone elevate the experience as a whole.

Eating it fast before the juices soak completely through the bread makes for an enjoyable, chewy romp.

Chicago Style Italian Beef

4 lbs bottom round beef steaks
1 red bell pepper, 1/2 inch slice
1 green bell pepper, 1/2 inch slice
1 large vidalia onion, 1/2 inch slice
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pkg "Good Seasons" dry Italian salad dressing mix
1 pkg "McKormick" Brown Gravy mix
1/2 cup marsala wine
4-6 cups water
1 oz jar pepperoncini peppers w/ juice
salt & pepper to taste
  1. season the bottom round steaks w/ salt & pepper.  get a large pot over high heat, and add about 2 TBS of canola oil.  work in batches, searing the steaks for about two minutes each side.  remove the seared steaks to a resting rack, and continue w/ the remaining steaks until you are all done.  if you overcrowd the pot, the meat will steam -- not sear -- and you won't develop the desired deep color and flavor. 
  2. once all the steaks are seared and resting on the rack, add 2 TBS canola oil and sauté the onions, peppers, and garlic over medium-high heat until they just start to caramelize -- about 8-10 minutes.  add the Italian salad dressing and brown gravy mixes.  cook for an additional two minutes.  add marsala wine and cook  
  3. down until almost fully reduced.  return the meat to the pot w/ the sautéed vegetables and seasonings.  add the entire jar of pepperoncini peppers w/ their juice.  add 4-6 cups water, or enough to cover by about an inch.
  4. bring to a boil -- reduce to a simmer.  simmer partially covered for 4-5 hours.  make sure to stir once every 30 minutes.  add more water as necessary if the contents becomes too dry.  

© 2011 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable -