Off to Somewhere…

…for something nice to drink, but before I dash into spring, a couple of odds and ends.

I. Check out my Spam Musubi post over at Serious Eats. Recently I’ve been hovering between musubis and Korean fried chicken cravings. Thank god it is no longer banana or bread pudding, or any sweet for that matter – my teeth are eternally thankful.

II. Sunday night supper once again confirmed that Don must be the best cook on the planet. In but a few hours, he pulled together a fantastic dinner for Shann and I: butternut squash risotto with roasted chicken, artichokes, and maitake mushrooms, shallots and rosemary to round it out. First time I’ve had fresh artichokes in my life, the world is crazy. You see what I mean when I say I no longer have any desire to eat out when he cooks? :)

III. I had my first taste of Korean Fried Chicken last weekend with much thanks to Don. Paired with nori and rice (crispy bottom included ^_^) and a double dose of Law & Order, it was the beginning of a dangerous addiction. The craving hit again this morning, and I met up with Robyn, Tina, and Helen at the BBQ Chicken restaurant for an afternoon feast. Thighs, legs, wings and breasts, we took it down with biscuits, along with very strange and unusual sides of “spicy creamed corn” and “pepper muchers” which bore no evidence of peppers but were in fact breaded and fried sticks of potatoes and cheese. But oh god, did the chicken satisfy, hot enough to burn with a crackly crust and steaming sweet tender innards. Robyn can surely tell you more about Korean fried chicken. I was completely content for three whole hours following lunch, and now I’m craving it for dinner again.

IV. Why has it taken me 21 years to discover the glories of maple candy?! Don pointed to four glass jars at the Greenmarket on Saturday, “maple candy” he said. Pale brown and mildly sweet, the appearance led me to believe it was a hard candy. But nope, I was far off. A bite in and the little brick crumbled oh-so-gently, dissolved and melted away into pocket puddles of maple glory.

Hope the week is going well for all!

BBQ Chicken & Beer
232 7th Ave
NY, NY 10011
(917) 606-1415

Tanoreen


He said to me, “eggplant napoleon, eggplant napoleon!!” and so it was. Friday night = dinner in Bay Ridge with Don, Ian, John & Jeannie, and Nadim & Vanessa. The time was 9pm. The restaurant was Tanoreen. The volume? High. Difficult to hear any conversation. But that proved just dandy as we all shut up the minute the dishes flew to the table at warp speed. We danced to the beat of breads with makdous, labaneh, falafels, kibbie, olive spreads, cauliflower with tahini and pomegranate syrup, fava bean salads, sujok, and a baked sea bass. My mouth and hands could only move so quick, and I missed the kibbe, though popped a hot falafel which proved to be significantly better than the norm with a grease-free crisp shell and steamy innards. Taim still has my vote for best falafel. I eagerly slathered the near buttery labaneh with olive oil and mint upon each tear of bread, finishing each bite with a tangy sharp pull. And I can still recall a whisper of the meaty lamb cigars shattering in my mouth. But do not forget what we came for! “Eggplant Napoleon, Eggplant Napoleon!” It arrived. One ordered to each half of the table, a tower just the right height, slices of fried eggplant layered upon creamy baba ghanouge, a crown and ring of basil & tomatoes. It demanded to be sliced, eaten, demolished. And it was…oh man, you bet it was!

Most Googleable reviews say come for the lamb, but it was definitely Tanoreen’s eggplant that brought the most smiles to my face. We faced a second dose of of my favourite vegetable baked in all its melting tenderness. “Thinly sliced eggplant, layered with ground lamb, onions, garlic, tomatoes, potatoes and Tanoreen spices.” That explains it all. There was barely a breather between dinner and dessert, but we paused for a bit, arabic coffee for four, mint tea for three. I fell in the latter camp. Both were forgettable.
I prefer dining in small groups…four is about ideal. But a major benefit of subscribing to the notion of “the more the merrier” is that you often end up sampling a wider variety of dishes. Including dessert. And that is something one cannot argue with. Of the four desserts on the menu, we ordered three. Baklava was only excluded because Don already spoiled us for all baklava to come. The Sahlab was a bland dissapointment, more akin to jello than custard, the mastic barely noticeable and the syrup could have easily passed for water. Harissa, a square of baked semolina cake fared better, though remained on the dry side even after a light tango of syrup.

But not to worry. All was instantly redeemed with a melting sweet cheesy forkful of the Knafeh, a wonderous luxury of sweet cheese wrapped in shredded filo. The entire creation is baked whole, finished with homemade syrup and pistachio nuts. It’s served at the table hot, and goodness, it must, must be eaten immediately, or you will be sorely dissapointed. Knafeh is some crazy wonder crackling though the crisp syrup doused filo, a twisted reward of sweet with a touch savoury, textures going every which way and where. And though it may look massive – daunting even, I assure you it goes down quicker than shave ice on a hot Hawai’i day.

Tanoreen
7704 Third Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11209
(718) 748-5600