Miss Ginsu: About/Bio


Autumn in New Amsterdam: Tasty!

I just spent all my allowance on food. But honestly, you would've done the same, right? It was a beautiful autumn day in New York, and there were rows and rows of tempting food vendors at the New Amsterdam Market.

New Amsterdam Market

I attended the market for the first time in June last year, and it's just gotten bigger and better in the interim.

If you've not been, the New Amsterdam is kind of a cross between the Brooklyn Flea, the Union Square Farmers Market and the food markets at Essex Street and Chelsea.

Since the focus is on great food that's grown or produced in New York, there's some familiar faces for those who already know and love the artisanal butchers, bakers, cheese-makers, apiaries, dairies, farmers, canners and picklers in the local food scene.

You'll also find top-notch specialty goods... delicious, effervescent kombucha that reminds me of a crisp, dry cider (and I don't even like kombucha). There's pâté and pork rillettes spread on toast (thank you, Dickson's.) There's now a whole row of local wineries, and not one, but two vendors of oysters on the half-shell, not to mention the truly superior, ultra-fresh BoBo chickens I mentioned last year.

Indeed, there's such a buffet of people who are putting their love (and high-quality ingredients) into the food at New Amsterdam, it's a good thing they don't have the place open year-round. I'd drain my account and give myself a bellyache every weekend.

If you're in New York and you've managed to miss the other market days, there's two more chances (November 22 and December 20) to go before the year's out. Meanwhile, here are few things that delighted me today:

Meat Chart Bike Jersey
This very cool meat chart bike jersey from Fleisher's

Saxelby Cheese Mongers
The ever-charming Benoit from Saxelby Cheese.

New Yorker Tomato Seeds
Heirloom tomato seeds from The Hudson Valley Seed Library. They're supposed to be good for container gardens. We'll see about that next year...

Sullivan Street's Raisin Loaf
Raisin Walnut Loaves from Sullivan Street Bakery. So, so tasty... Nom!

Want to see more? Check out the full New Amsterdam Market photo set.

Happy Eating!
Miss Ginsu

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Notable in New York

Just to put this up front, I'm pretty much a recipe blogger, not a product blogger. When I write about a product it's because I genuinely like it and want to share the awesomeness. If there's a product I'm asked to sample, I'll let you know who sent me the sample.

I've always been straight-up about this kind of thing, but apparently there are enough issues out there that the FTC is writing laws about this stuff now.

SO... now that all that's out of the way, here are three new-ish food products out here in Gotham City that make me proud to be a New Yorker. Not only am I quite fond of each of them, but either I or my fella purchased everything here at full price with our very own hard-earned cash.

Mother In Law's Kimchi

1. Mother In Law's Kimchi

I love kimchi. Love it. My sweetheart greatly prefers sauerkraut, but because he is, indeed, sweet, he brought me a jar of this delicious kimchi.

Mother In Law's Kimchi is a newcomer on the north side of the Essex Street Market, and proprietor Lauryn Chun was on hand this weekend to proffer sample bites.

Well-balanced and not too spicy, this formula seems to have a meaty richness. Although (as I mentioned), J is not typically wild about kimchi, he says this is "an excellent example." And since I've already eaten my way through half the jar, I think it's pretty clear how I feel about it.

Goober Peas

2. Boiled in Brooklyn Goober Peas

A couple of architects, a bunch of raw peanuts and a dream...

Potato chips I can take or leave, but I'm a huge fan of fresh-boiled peanuts as a snack food. Sadly, I haven't really had a local source since the Queen's Hideaway in Greenpoint shuttered.

If you've never had the pleasure, boiled peanuts are a Southern thing. Tender, earthy, rich and very much like cooked beans. They're generally simmered in a very flavorful brine. I'm frankly a little surprised they're not a standard bar snack, because I personally think they're killer with beer and cocktails.

With four flavor varieties and cold iced tea on hand, Boiled in Brooklyn will be one of my new go-to stops at the Dumbo Brooklyn Flea.

Connecticut-Style Lobster Roll
3. Red Hook Lobster Pound "Connecticut Style" Lobster Rolls

I believe plenty has already been said about Red Hook Lobster Pound as a source for good, reasonably priced seafood. I'd like to put in a good word for the "Connecticut Style" Lobster Roll they sell at the Sunday Brooklyn Flea in Dumbo.

Composed of nothing more than lobster meat that's quick-sauteed in butter, then sprinkled with scallions and paprika and nestled into a buttery toasted bun, the Connecticut is a simple, flavorful seaside fare — a nice break from the mayo-based Maine variety (although RHLP sells that, too).

Happy Eating!
Miss Ginsu

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The Real Ricotta Makes the Real Cannoli

[to Rocco who has killed Paulie in the car]
Miss Ginsu: Leave the cannoli. Take the gun.

Oh yes... let me add my voice to the massive city-wide swoon over the brilliant new Brooklyn Flea. Part craft fair, part food festival, part reliquary of the bizarre, the Flea is my new favorite Brooklyn tradition.


Cool bric a brac

Enormous Clock

From pulp fiction to papusas, the Flea offers something for just about everyone. The roomie and I spotted a black leather analyst's couch, the jawbone of some large mammal (a horse?), 30's-era vintage fans and an enormous two-piece interlocking yin-yang couch (doesn't every rec room need an interlocking yin-yang couch?), among the host of treasures.

Salvatore Bklyn cannoli

Despite a huge lot filled with crazy wonders, my biggest find was undoubtedly the cannoli from Salvatore Bklyn. Ohhh, heavenly. Freshly piped into the crisp cookie shell, the smooth, creamy ricotta carries a hint of marsala and flakes of dark chocolate. Really nice stuff.

I was so impressed, I made a short video of the filling process:

I'd first encountered Salvatore's divine ricotta at Ms. Anne's Essex Street cheese outpost. While I've never been a big ricotta fan, this was the stuff of revelation: buttery-smooth, rich and creamy. In other words, nothing like the grainy grocery-variety ricotta I'd always known. J tells me the Salvatore ricotta is very much like the ricotta he's eaten in Italy. What a lovely addition to the Brooklyn landscape!

Sadly, the roomie and I had just dined on a lovely little brunch at iCi before we stopped by the Flea, but on my next visit, I'll arrive hungry and try out the tasty-looking wares at Wafels & Dinges and Choice Market.

If you're in the neighborhood, find your way to the Flea and get thee to a cannoli. If you're friendly, you can score yourself an iced coffee sample from the sweet kids at Crop to Cup in the booth next door. And yes, quality cannoli and quality coffee really do create one of those "So Happy Together" moments.

The Brownstoner's Brooklyn Flea
Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School
Lafayette Ave. (btwn Clermont & Vanderbilt Ave.)
Fort Greene, Brooklyn

BTW: I took about a dozen Brooklyn Flea shots, so if you're interested, you can see the full set at flickr.

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Quick Bites: Barcelona

A friend of mine recently journeyed to Barcelona. Having loved the place so much when I went, I was somehow certain she would encounter wonders on every corner.

Sadly, she returned with an appreciation for the architecture and the climate, but little love for the food.

Though aghast, I blame myself. I didn't offer up any advice at all on the favorite spots I'd visited... and it's so easy to go astray when a traveler doesn't know the territory.

In an effort to help friends and random readers avoid similar fates, I'm starting up a new series: Quick Bites. Each edition will feature a few city highlights, a few beautiful photographs, and a recipe inspired by the locale. By no means an exhaustive list (these are nibbles, after all) my hope is that web travelers and world travelers can both encounter something enjoyable.

In this first edition: Barcelona, Spain

Contemplative Bull
Shall I go to the beach, or visit Sagrada Familia?

The Big View

The art! The beach! The sunshine! The wine! The cheese! Oh, lovely Barcelona! We were lucky enough to be in an apartment, so I was able to take full advantage of the enormous Boqueria market (see below).

I'd made up my mind beforehand to try every paella I could get my hands on. I now believe that was a mistake. The paellas were fine, but even the best seemed to pale in comparison to the very simplest dishes we ate... the tapas (locally referred to as pintxos, in the Basque tongue), the fresh-squeezed orange juice, the rich hit of a cortado (an espresso with a splash of hot milk), the toasty delight of double-baked brioche and the creamy wonder of cheese gelatos.

The Bites

Cabra in the Cave
Cabra in the cheese cave

As you stroll through the Gothic Quarter, walk into this tidy cheese shop, gawk at the tasty cheese cave and speak with the friendly cheese mongress, a charming Scot, who vends wonderful local cheeses, delightful small plates and flights of her delicious, inventive cheese gelatos (formatgelats).

Formatgeria La Seu
Carrer Dagueria 16
Tel: 93 412 65 48)

Fried Chilies
Simple, tasty fried chili tapas.

Supremely simple tapas in a no-nonsense old-school wine tavern. They're all about the basics here. Glasses of wine with ungarnished platters of cheese, sausage, serrano, pa amb tomaquet (tomato-rubbed bread) and tasty classics like the fried chilies pictured above. I found the place to be a refreshing oasis of homeyness in an overdeveloped 'hood.

La Bodegueta
Rambla de Catalunya 100

Twice-Baked Brioche
Twice-baked brioche

I've already covered this bakery more exhaustively in a previous post, but for the moment I'll just say... yum. And there's more than one location, so you can go twice in a day without looking like a swine.

Forn de Pa Mistral
Ronda Sant Antoni 96
(or Torres i Amat 7)
Tel/Fax: 93.302.41.39

The Boqueria Mercado
Roasted vegetable salad at the Boqueria

On visiting Barcelona, I'm sure every food writer is required by law to mention the Mercat de la Boqueria. There's good reason for the hype. The place has been around since time immemorial, forever featuring great food and lots of it. I think I went there every day... Sometimes twice a day. Fresh tapas at this counter, gorgeous local fruit over there, fascinating mushrooms or nuts or cured meats or fresh fish or... or... or... I'm still thinking about this delicious roasted vegetable and hummus salad I got at a little shop right next to the back entrance. Go exploring there and uncover your own new favorite thing.

Mercat de la Boqueria
Pla├ža de la Boqueria,
Tel: 93.318.25.84

Thick Chocolate at Origen 99.9
Pudding-like chocolate at Origen 99.9%

The ultimate in of-the-moment travel, Origen 99.9% sources its ingredients and recipes locally, basing its cuisine in Catalan classics. Going heavy on lunch (and lighter on dinner) in Barcelona makes this town a better bargain, and Origen 99.9% provides a delicious (and satisfying) three-course prix fixe to get you through siesta and into tapas-time. Don't miss their in-house food magazine and the line of ready-made delights they sell.

Origen 99.9%
Several Locations
Tel: 932 411 600
Fax: 932 411 786

Cortado and Fresh Orange Juice
Barcelona addictions: the cortado and fresh-squeezed local orange juice

This isn't a place recommendation, per se, but a couple of directives.

The cortado (espresso and a splash of hot milk) is a wonderful drink, so if you're into coffee, order one. They're ubiquitous and addictively drinkable.

Also: If you ever come across (and you will... they're everywhere) a Zummo or Frucasol machine — crazy contraptions that squeeze oranges into wonder juice, order juice immediately. Fresh-squeezed Spanish oranges are so lively and delicious you'll never be happy with a carton of Tropicana again.

The Takeaway

I ate Pan Tomaquet (Pa amb Tomaquet in Catalan) daily while I visited Barcelona. The tomatoes were luscious, good olive oil was plentiful, the bread was nearly always decent and the resulting dish was a simple delight. I wouldn't attempt it without garden-fresh tomatoes, good bread and good olive oil. The most simple dishes invariably require the best ingredients.

Pa Amb Tomaquet
Pa Amb Tomaquet Tomato-Rubbed Bread (Serves 2-3)

1 baguette, cut into 5"-6" portions and halved (toasted, if you wish)
1-2 large, ripe, in-season tomatoes, halved
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. Rub cut-side of tomato across top of baguette.
2. Drizzle with olive oil.
3. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Serve with glasses of rioja and some nice Spanish olives or anchovies.


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Tilapia Sandwich and a Tra La La. To go.

tra la la muffin

I wasn't going to say anything. I mean, when you find something good, you don't necessarily want the whole world showing up for their piece of the action, right?

And yet, discovery was inevitable. Last weekend while I was at the Essex Street Market, I couldn't help but see the signs.

Literally. They've gone and hung big, colorful vendor signs in the aisles. In the past year Essex has gone from dead-cheap produce, meats and fishes to a market that additionally features two wee gourmet food shops and an American artisanal cheesemonger.

The neighborhood is on the make, and the change is in the air. Or maybe that's just the scent of fresh-baked Tra La La muffins.

Ron and Ira run Rainbo's Fish and Tra La La Juice Bar, the improbably delightful dual-purpose shop at the north side of the market that features fresh-squeezed juices, my platonic ideal of the muffin genre and... fresh fish.

They're fishmongers by trade, and on many happy occasions I've gleefully forked out a pittance in return for their hot, fresh, meltingly tender fish sandwiches slathered in a tangy-creamy tartar sauce.

J writes today to tell me that he's been spying on the progress of their new prepared food counter. His Mission Impossible-style surveillance skills reveal they'll open their gates on Thursday. According to his report, they'll be featuring:
Fish and baked goods, of course, but also other prepared foods. They gave me a sample of a savory (and slightly spicy) cornmeal waffle yesterday that will become a serving platform for some kind of seafood stew or sauce or something (scallops were mentioned).

Alas... It looks like I'll lose my super-secret cheap-and-tasty fish sandwich + muffin shack (and my not-so-secret urban market) to the inevitable tide of hungry humanity.

But I'll try to be a good sport about this whole affair. My loss, your gain.

three spoons

Rainbo's Fish and Tra La La Juice Bar
Essex Street Market
Corner of Delancey and Essex
Manhattan, NY

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The Hedonista Hundred, Part V: 21-25

Pushing onward in the quest to uncover and document 100 wonderful and tasty things...

If you've missed prior twenty, you'll find 'em at the archive page.

Ollie's Noodle Shop
Takeout from Ollie's Noodle Shop on a flat-top rock in Central Park.

21. Picnic food. Even if it's only a loaf of bread and a chunk of cheese. Even if you don't have a blanket. Even if you didn't make it yourself. There's just something twice as grand about eating outside under the sky.

roadside farm
Next exit: Ripe stonefruit, berry baskets and fresh zucchini (3 for $1).

22. Roadside produce stands. Likewise, fresh sweet corn out of the back of a pickup truckbed. Sweet. Juicy. Awesome. Extra bonus: farm stands offer unique discoveries... which is kind of the philosophical opposite of the cookie-cutter, gas-n-go, drive-thru, "back on the highway in ten minutes flat" experience one finds along the New Jersey Turnpike.

Canned goods at the Hong Kong Mall, Queens
Canned goods at the Hong Kong Mall in Queens, NY

23. Local grocery stores. Think the museums and monuments tell the whole story? Not likely. Stop into local food shops around the world to gawk at the cool packaging and variety. See how the natives stock their pantries. You don't really know a place until you know how its people eat.

Williamsburg CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) pick-up day

24. Community-Supported Agriculture Groups and farmers' markets. Give the money to the farmer. Get vegetables, fruit, eggs and flowers. It's fresh. It's direct. It's local. It's environmentally friendly. What's not to like?

Podunk in the East Village
The afternoon cream tea with scones and berries at Podunk

25. Teatime. I don't have a lot of love for their bangers and mash, but the Brits were really on to something with the afternoon tea. Civility, serenity, caffeine and lush snackies. That's a tradition I can get behind.

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Eat This Now: 8-Ball Zucchini

8-Ball Zucchini

More fun at the farmers' market... my produce girl recommended these lovely 8-ball zucchini. What veg lover could bypass such adorable little squashes?

Besides boasting a beguiling green skin, they also have a satisfying heft in the palm. (No squash tossing allowed, kiddies.)

The name is whimsical fun, but in fact, these little babies are closer to the size of a baseball than an eight.

Produce Girl likes 'em sliced, fried and used in sandwiches, on pizza, in wraps, etc. Online, dominant theories seem to lean toward scraping out the insides and stuffing 'em. They'd be fab with a ratatouille, but here's a handful of other fillings to try...

Orzo Stuffing
Sausage & Fennel Stuffing
Feta & Basil Stuffing

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