No journey into the land of Washington Irving, Thomas Cole, and that radical music concert during the Summer of Love, would be complete without some fresh produce. As I screeched my car to a stop at the quickly approaching roadside market, I thought about my own backyard garden, which is beginning its swift demise as September nears to a close. By the time I returned to my car, my arms were laden with two plump eggplants and a small basket of Fuji apples. I resisted the home-baked pies and rows of chow-chow, apple butter, and peach salsa.
My produce choices were guided by two recipes that I have grown to love, and that I have perfected over time. They came to me many years ago in a different life, or so it seems, and like Rip Van Winkle himself, I feel as if I have woken from a 20 year sleep. However, there is something so special about the produce I procured. The eggplant comes in many varieties and can be found in the cuisine of countries across the globe. Fuji apples, though originating in Japan, were introduced in the US in the 1960s – apropos for the Woodstock region from which I purchased them.
I chose these particular recipes because they first hit my palate during the aforementioned years when, coincidentally, I last drove through the beautiful Catskill Mountains.
Dinner: Eggplant Parmesan
Choose eggplant(s) that are black (if you are buying that variety) with somewhat of a tinge of purple. The eggplant itself should be slightly springy rather than hard, which tells you it is ripe. The top of the eggplant denotes its sex. The indented tip denotes a “female” eggplant which contains more seeds, and the smoother domed tip denotes one that is “male” and thus having fewer seeds. The fewer seeds the better, but this is not a necessity.
Make sure you have the following ingredients on hand:
Flavored bread crumbs
Olive oil (not virgin or extra virgin)
Garlic powder (lots)
One garlic clove
Dried parsley flakes (lots)
Step 1: Slicing the eggplant
Dessert: Intoxicating Apple Pie
Along with apple pie comes America’s policy of freedom and liberty…that includes the freedom to include all the alcohol you like into an apple pie recipe, and the liberty to eat it with gusto and enthusiasm. (actually, the alcohol is removed during the cooking process).
Here is a dessert that is both intoxicating in all senses of the word.
6 cups of peeled and thinly sliced apples (I prefer Fugi, but Gala can also be used, but not red delicious…too grainy).
3 teaspoons of cinnamon
¾ cup of milk (or cream for a richer flaor)
3 tablespoons of butter
1 cup of sugar
½ cup of Bisquick
½ cup of Amaretto (you can also use Grand Marnier)
Tablespoons of butter
½ cup of packed brown sugar
1 cup Bisquick
½ cup of finely chopped almonds
- Michael Alpiner
Vivian Chow, Food Ambassador
This new joint located in Williamsburg takes a new and exciting spin on the Korean dish: pork belly. BELLY Korean Bacon Shop opened a little over a month ago and is reframing how people eat Korean barbecue.
Typically, Koreans eat pork belly by going to a restaurant and grilling it themselves. They wrap this pork belly with lettuce, which can also include rice, kimchi, green chili peppers, and other side dishes. South Koreans are huge on side dishes. Rather than having a grill-it-yourself method like they do in South Korea, this restaurant developed the Omakase menu: a 9-course meal to fill up your belly. Yep, you read right, 9. If 9 seems intimidating, do not fret. The restaurant also allows individuals to order certain dishes from the A La Carte menu.
The first dish was a simple combination of a buttery breakfast toast top with pork belly. The combination of different textures and spices creates an explosion of flavors on your taste buds, giving you a glimpse of the rich flavors that will come.
The next dish was quite simple. Served with a sweet ball of rice and topped with a thinly sliced pork belly. Pork Belly Sushi was a clever combination of a Japanese dish with a popular Korean ingredient. We see the blend of Korean and Japanese food again in another dish: Bacon Schnitzel, which was a spin on the Japanese dish called tonkatsu. A piece of pork chop was deep fried and served with a very popular Korean sauce, red pepper paste. This red pepper paste was different from the store bought red pepper paste because it was sweetened and the level of spiciness was toned down. Thus, making this blend a whole new creation.
The Grilled Korean Bacon was a light salad with a great first impression. Right when it came to our table, the sesame oil scent was oozing from the plate. Although the smell was strong, it came with a nice zesty and fresh sauce that made the salad savory yet refreshing.
Two of my favorite dishes from the Omakase menu would be the Pasta alla Belly and the Chef’s Bacon Steak. The interesting thing about the pasta was the noodles the chef used. The dish did not come with Italian spaghetti, but the noodles felt more like Korean ramen noodles. This was definitely a creative way to incorporate another aspect of Korean cuisine in addition to the pork belly. The Chef’s Bacon Steak was another great addition to the menu because it showcased the pork belly itself. In Korean, pork belly is called Samgyeop-sal-gui (삼겹살). The “sam” means three. Once you cut into this juicy piece of pork belly, you open up its three delicious layers.
Getting close to the end of the meal with the Bacon-Eggplant Steamed Rice. Once you combine the rice and meat with the poached egg and the sauce, you are in for a treat. The steamed rice and meat may seem simple. However, once you break open the egg yolk and combine that with the rice and the housemade soy sauce it is a dish of no other.
To end the night, you are given a dessert with a one of a kind - savory whipped cream. Typically, desserts are supposed to be sweet. However, the chefs decided to continue with the savory route and kept the dessert on the same lane. The donut was crispy on the outside and sweet, but once you eat more of the donut, it is spicy and rich. Plus, with the spiced infused whipped cream on top, it really is a dish like no other.
This restaurant is located on 219 Grand Street in Brooklyn and is open from 5:30pm to 10:30pm Monday to Sunday. The wait staff is extremely nice and explains each dish with a succinct description. Another interesting thing to note about this restaurant is the Karaoke options. The restaurant can be split so that individuals can have a Karaoke session post dinner, which is another approach to incorporating the Korean culture.
Overall, this restaurant does an amazing job of reinventing the way people eat pork belly. It is astonishing the different approaches they use to blend different cuisines together. Plus, the setup of the restaurant shows you the immediate blend of different cultures.
- Vivian Chow