Category Archives: Cuisines

Indonesian Food Bazaar in Queens Serves Up Lots of Delights

There are several Indonesian food spots in Queens, but what better spot to try out a variety of dishes than an Indonesian food bazaar?

A few weeks ago, we trekked out to Long Island City to the Masjid al Hikmah mosque. About a dozen booths were planted around what looked to be the mosque parking lot. Down the center, was a long table. That’s where we sat after roaming the booths and sampling several dishes. Our favorites? The fried tofu, a rice noodle and fish soup, and the fabulous fish cakes. Best to eat those the second they emerge from their bath of boiling oil.

Photos by Laura B. Weiss

 

Indonesia cooking woman

Indonesia cooking white things

 

Indonesia green food

Indonesia skewer hands great

 

Indonesian eaters

 

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Smorgasburg Feasting

by Laura B. Weiss

Who cares if there’s a half hour wait for barbecue or pint-sized cheesecakes? You’ve gotta love Smorgasburg for the scene, the food and the gorgeous views of the skyline. Extra bonus: if you’re not a Brooklynite and coming from Manhattan, take the ferry back from Williamsburg to Midtown. On a gorgeous day, the ride matches the food.

Photos by Laura B. Weiss

cropped girl best

ice cream vendorBESTcupcakes

smorgasb grilling guy

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Rosh Hashanah: Gefilte Fish Conclave Draws Crowd of Hungry Haters

 

Photo: Gefilteria web site.

By Laura B. Weiss

It’s almost Rosh Hashanah, so it’s time to talk about gefilte fish. Or at least that’s what the Center for Jewish History must have decided when they put together a panel of fish mavens last week to discuss what’s perhaps the most reviled holiday food of all times.

In fact, that’s what most of the discussion was about as the panelists, along with moderator Mitchell Davis of the James Beard Foundation, aimed bullet after bullet at the gray-hued Ashkenazi standby. The panelists were Elizabeth Alpern and Jeffrey Yoskowitz of the Gefilteria, Brooklyn; Zach Kutsher of Kutsher’s Tribeca; Jack Lebewohl of 2nd Ave Deli; and Israeli chef Omer Miller.

Let me be frank:I loathe gefilte fish. Gray is not my food color of choice. Anything in gelatin makes me gag. Gefilte tastes like rotten water, if there is such a thing.

And then there’s its smell, kind of like damp laundry that’s been left out too long to dry.

“I smell gefilte fish,” a customer once told Lebewohl upon entering the 2nd Avenue Deli. Is this a good thing for a restaurant trying to sell people its food? I doubt it.

Zach Kutsher, whose family owns the iconic Borscht Belt resort of the same name, said gefilte fish was the most polarizing dish on the menu of his new eatery, Kutsher’s Tribeca.  Another panelist provided the only positive review of the benighted dish—that it’s associated with Sabbath dinner and thus contains a heavy dose of nostalgia along with its mother lode of carp.

In an effort to make gefilte fish more trendy—trendy gefilte fish? Sorry, that’s an oxymoron—places like Gefilteria are making theirs with newfangled ingredients like sustainably sourced whitefish, pike and salmon. It’s Ashkenazi food for hipsters.

But at a tasting afterwards, I decided that gefilte was immune to a culinary rehab. Mobs of people crushed against the tables as if the tiny nibbles of giflte were their last morsel of food on earth. I only managed to snag two samples, one from the Second Avenue deli (your standard issue gefilte) and one from Kutscher’s. That rendition was light and a bit dry with not too much flavor, which in the case of gefilte can only be viewed as a plus.

Sorry, I’m still a hater no matter how much the dish is gussied up. It’s trendy-proof.

Here’s a recipe for Gefilte Fish from Joan Nathan, the noted Jewish cookbook author via Epicurious. Click here for the recipe.

 

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Passover Food App: What Would Moses Think?

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Photo via Flickr by Aramand Agasi

Moses would plotz. Or maybe, given what a rush he was in to get the Children of Israel out of Egypt, he’d be thrilled at the idea of a Passover app with a nice a selection of matzoh. So much easier than baking those wheat crackers on the run.

You can download the app, OUR Kosher–it’s from the Orthodox Union which certifes kosher foods–on Android and iPhones for free. There you’ll find a small selection of kosher for Passover foods, and a much bigger one of regular kosher products. There’s Matzoh with Provence Herbs and Matzoh with Bran–not a bad idea given the intestine-clogging attributes of the traditional wafers. There’s also Passover-ready buffalo wings and Passover carrot cake.

This app is far from perfect. It’s simply a list of available products. You can’t order directly and there are no graphics. And when you tap on some choices, an error message comes back.

But it’s a start. One Moses may well have appreciated during his long trek through the dessert.

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Wafa’s in Forest Hills: Go for the Terrific Middle Eastern Home Style Cooking

 

Wafa Chami, chef at Wafa's, Forest Hills, Queens. Photo: Laura B. Weiss

There’s been quite a lot of buzz about Wafa’s lately, the homey Middle-Eastern eatery on Metropolitan Avenue in Forest Hills. Mostly, the talk’s been about Wafa’s baba ghanoush, but there’s a lot more to this modest establishment than its savory eggplant dip.

There’s nothing fancy about Wafa’s.  The room is small and plain and it’s mostly families and locals who frequent the place. Wafa Chami, a Lebanese native who came to the US in 1975 when she was 17, presides over the kitchen. And it’s a wondrous kitchen at that.  Covering her blond hair with a baseball cap, Chami hunches over the stove preparing kibbe, falafel and a parade of other dishes.  In fact, out of the small space, more compact than many home kitchens, comes some of the best Middle-Eastern food in the city.

If it feels like you’re eating at someone’s kitchen table, that’s because you are, indeed, eating Chami’s home cooking.

“I grew up in Lebanon, and these are all family recipes from my mother,” Chami told me one night when we decided to stop by Wafi’s for dinner after a stroll through lovely Forest Hills Gardens. “They’re old family recipes, from my mother, from my grandmother, from one generation to the next.”

Not only is the food sensational at Wafa’s, it’s an incredible deal.  Four of us ate a multi-course dinner for under $100. The kibbe, moist and delicately spiced, was a steal at $8.00.  I fell hard for the grape leaves—not your typical dry-as-sawdust cylinders, but moist and so flavorful that at $6.00 for a half-dozen of the succulent morsels, I didn’t hesitate to get two more orders.  Piggy, yes. But they were simply the best gape leaves I’ve ever eaten.

Other dishes that scored high among our group were the fattoush ($8), and the chicken ($12.95) and lamb ($13.95) schawerma. The meats come with two sides.  You can choose from any two of the following: green salad, okra, mujadarah, tabouleh, mousakaha, baba ganoush, French fries, and cauliflower.

The word has spread about Wafa’s.  We got there at 6 pm to beat the mob.  By 630, there was already a scrum of hungry fans waiting for a table to open up.

Wafa’s
100-05 Metropolitan Ave Map.6e70ca7
New York, NY 11375
718 880 2055

 

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