The Young Gourmand

Exploring New York City, One bite at a time

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3 guys, 44 days, 11 countries, 18 flights, 38 thousand miles, an exploding volcano, 2 cameras and almost a terabyte of footage… all to turn 3 ambitious linear concepts based on movement, learning and FOOD ….into 3 beautiful and  compelling short films…..

I want to make a sequel, anyone willing to bankroll me?

Filed under eat food travel culture

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I have been to Chinatown before. My first visit was probably when I took a wrong turn while walking the streets of the San Gennaro festival as a teenager. My next visit was probably in pursuit of some fake watch for an inflated dollar amount on Canal St. And ever since then I have been through the neighborhood on various adventures through the city. 
One thing I have not done is visited Chinatown for a taste of authentic Chinese food. This is a food adventure I can’t believe I have not had yet. What piqued my interest was an article on a New York City blog that I like to read. Click on the photo to find out where you can get your hands on some of the best noodles, dim sum, and dumplings that Chinatown has to offer.
I’ll be back with another post once I go!

I have been to Chinatown before. My first visit was probably when I took a wrong turn while walking the streets of the San Gennaro festival as a teenager. My next visit was probably in pursuit of some fake watch for an inflated dollar amount on Canal St. And ever since then I have been through the neighborhood on various adventures through the city. 

One thing I have not done is visited Chinatown for a taste of authentic Chinese food. This is a food adventure I can’t believe I have not had yet. What piqued my interest was an article on a New York City blog that I like to read. Click on the photo to find out where you can get your hands on some of the best noodles, dim sum, and dumplings that Chinatown has to offer.

I’ll be back with another post once I go!

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Landbrot WEST VILLAGE 137 7th Ave South New York, NY 10014

Ever been to a bakery-bar-restaurant? Perhaps. One of my favorite places for brunch, and one of Batali/Bastianich’s old late night haunts, Blue Ribbon Bakery, loosely fits the description. But few, if any, establishments have the same concept at Landbrot, a shrine to German food and drink, located in the West Village and the LES.

I dropped in the new WV location one evening after a long night at work and sat down at the bar. The friendly waitstaff took me on a brief tour through the drink menu, and for me, a beer was in order. “Höss Holzar” was the choice, and I was informed that it is imported to the United States specifically for the owners of Landbrot….and I thought: “ok, thats pretty cool.”


The food menu was chock full o’ soups, brats, sausages, schnitzels, sandwiches, and the German homage to pizza:  flammkuchen or “flaming pie” (not a Paul McCartney album). The description for the flaming pie read: “Baked Alsatian Bread Dough served with Creme Fraiche, Bacon & Onion”- and without hesitation, my order was in. 

Sipping my Holzar, waiting for the flammkuchen to emerge from the wood-fired oven, I began to survey the bakery counter. Cakes, tarts, and other sweet libations lined the counter, and loaves of about 15 different types of breads and rolls sat in baskets along the back wall. Also on the counter was a coat stand shaped display, from which hung authentic German brezeln (pretzels). Next to the bakery counter is a glass dumbwaiter that brings the baked goods fresh from the ovens downstairs….again I thought “thats pretty cool.”

After 10 or so minutes, the flaming pie came out on a wood block. The wood block held crumbs about 5 minutes later. It was tasty, but not too filling. After my last sips of Holzar #2, I requested a ciabatta roll and a multigrain roll for the road as well as the check. I used the ciabatta to house some grilled chicken, garlic mayo, lettuce and tomato for lunch at work the next day. I had a couple of people asking— where is that sandwich from?

Drop in Landbrot for a beer you probably can’t get anywhere else, a brat, and perhaps a brezeln for the road. Don’t go for a lively atmosphere or an elaborate meal.

Landbrot Bakery & Bar on Urbanspoon

Filed under restaurants food new york new york city german brezeln landbrot

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Best Burger in Brooklyn- The Dram Shop Bar

I ventured into this popular Park Slope watering hole with my girlfriend one night this week for some dinner. We dropped in around 6:30 pm and found the place to be relatively empty aside from the few slopers hanging at the long bar by the entrance sipping beer from large mugs (my first thought, albeit corny, was: “this is hardly a ‘dram' shop”). Looking toward the back, we noticed several high top tables, that awesome shuffle-board-game-with-sawdust that you never see anymore, and a nice looking billiard area. We were definitely in a bar…
Awkwardly, we walked toward the back of the room, wondering if we needed to wait to be seated. A friendly waitress came out from the back of the bar and told us to “grab a seat”- and we chose one of the five u-shaped booths along the left wall; each looked like it could comfortably seat 10 people. Upon arrival, we found no napkins or silverware, just one skinny menu standing up in the center of the table- the contents of which would easily fit the description of “Bar Food”. The back flap had about 25-30 different whiskey options, and about the same amount of beer options, both bottled and on draft. 
Front and center on the menu was the “Hamburger with Hand Cut Fries”; not only was this what I was craving, but come to find out (by the description at the bottom of the menu), this is what this place was known for..

[Sixty years ago, the first of our burgers was served at the Mallow Grocery in South Dallas.  The secret of this gastronomic treat remained closely guarded and was passed down from my grandfather Lynn to my father Steve, and then to me.  In the spirit of true Texas hospitality, I am now sharing his Dallas delicacy with my friends in Brooklyn]

Upon the first bite I got excited…the heavily seeded sesame roll held two thin, juicy patties, fresh crisp lettuce and tomatoes, pickles, diced onion and Mayo/Mustard. Reminiscent of Five Guys, but better, this burger hit the spot. On the side was a mound of crispy, nicely seasoned fries, a small tub of garlic aioli for dipping, and an ice-cold 20 oz. Omengang Witte that was putting the finishing touch on each mouthful. 
I truly enjoyed the experience at Dram Shop Bar. A great burger spot with a comprehensive selection of beers and brown spirits, that begs for a large group to come in and spend the night. I look forward to going back again!

Dram Shop Bar on Urbanspoon

Filed under Brookyln Park Slope Burgers Bars Beer Restaurants New York

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Staten Island's "Enoteca Maria" Hires Grandmother's to Cook One Night a Week

I came across this article in the Wall St. Journal today about Enoteca Maria in Staten Island. Inside the kitchen of this wildly popular Italian restaurant, you won’t find Mario Batali, Michael White, Andrew Carmellini, or anyone of celebrity chef status. Instead, the ones running the kitchen are Italian grandmothers, or “Nonnas”. 

Owner Jose Scaravella hires these woman through want ads in the Italian language daily newspaper America Oggi. With several women on staff, the requirement is that each one cook their regional cuisine one night a week.

The concept of this restaurant alone has me eager to visit. The food is probably OK too.

27 Hyatt Street  Staten Island, NY 10301

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Spiedini Di Manzo 


For those of you that have played basketball before, you are probably familiar with the term “Box Out”. For those unfamiliar, it refers to the technique of blocking your opponent from the basket, so you can get to the ball first. To be more descriptive, generally, you turn your back to your opponent and keep a hand them for locating; you then use your back to block him/her away (see first picture). At this point, you are probably wondering why I am providing education about basketball terminology on a food blog. Keep reading…

If you want a taste of the coveted Spiedini at one of our family parties, you better know how to “box out” or you ain’t getting any. The second they come off the grill, there are about 15 salivating family members, fighting to get to the platter- thats how delicious these things are. Speidini is made but a few times per year when the Pizzurro’s gather and although I have been enjoying them since childhood, I get just as excited each time we are able to have it.

In a nutshell, Spiedini is thinly sliced beef (manzo) or veal (vitello) that is pounded down to the thickness of a piece of paper, rubbed with good olive oil, then coated/stuffed with a mixture of herbs, bread crumbs, and parmagiano cheese. It is then rolled into small, two-bite sized cylinders before, finally, being placed on small skewers. (We typically use beef sirloin and the “skewers” are toothpicks which house two rolls separated by a bay leaf.) To cook, the skewers are simply placed on a grill or under a broiler for a few minutes on each side. The result: a small juicy roll of meat that has a nice crunch and an explosion of flavor from the breadcrumbs, herbs, and cheese. Before you are finished with the first one, you are already putting the next one in your mouth.  We typically serve them as an appetizer before the other courses, but for many, it becomes dinner.
Ok, Ok, Ok. So you may not have to use physical force to get at the Spiedini, but you if you make it right, it may be something that becomes a special tradition as it has in our family (Donna, if you are reading, you da best!) 

The word Spiedini comes from the Italian word Spiedo which means spit- Spiedini meaning little spits. 
For more on Spiedini, including a recipe, visit: http://www.mynonnaskitchen.com/2010/03/labor-of-love.html

Filed under food italian italy spiedini family

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In 2009, my eldest cousin on my father’s side of the family got married. The wedding reception was grandiose and beautiful, and amongst the attendees were some of our cousins from Italy.[They reside in Caserta, which is the capital of the province of Caserta in the Campania region of Italy. Most associate this region with its capital city, Naples]

Upon arriving for the wedding, they came bearing gifts for all of their American relatives. Included were: authentic Italian Limoncello, Italian Wines, and best of all, several thick wedges of Parmigiano Reggiano. All of my fathers brothers and sisters shared their gifts, and for the next several months, we enjoyed fresh grated cheese with all of our meals. The difference between this and the pre-grated stuff we were getting from the local deli was incomprehensible.

So as I was preparing pasta last week, I stopped by the local Garden of Eden, and decided it was worth the 8 bucks to get a small block of heaven. When called for (and in my case it’s often), my dinners are now getting a healthy dose of Italy.

Filed under cheese italy Family food

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Rocking Horse Cafe

CHELSEA 182 8th Avenue, New York, NY


This afternoon, around lunchtime, my co-worker and I had a hankering for Mexican. We considered Caliente Cab, or another cookie cutter Mexican joint around the corner, but received a recommendation to head up to this little spot in the heart of Chelsea. We had no problem walking from Houston up to 19th as the sun was shining on this perfect spring day. Walking in, the contemporary decor and artisan tequilas on the wall suggested that this was more than a “tacos, fajitas, and burritos” place. 

Out came the waiter with homemade tortilla chips, deep orange in color, and a smooth salsa that tasted of tomato and roasted red pepper with a hint of ancho chile. The food menu was filled with about 15 or so authentic Mexican dishes, each with a contemporary treatment- the drink menu had the same feel.

We started with a couple of house Margarita’s on the rocks- perfectly mixed with a frothy finish, not too sweet, and made with high quality silver Tequila. For the meal, I ordered the Carnitas; braised Niman Ranch natural pork, on three mini ancho tortillas (a bit dry), with guacamole, and pickled red onion. The pork was crisp and I enjoyed the flavor of the pickled red onion with the house-made guacamole. Washing it down with the delicious Margarita helped too.

Overall, nothing stands out too much here, but the fresh, lighter approach to Mexican was a nice change of pace for me. Service was great, food was good, and Margaritas were delicious. If you’re in the area, sit out on the porch in the sun and enjoy the weather on “Chelsea’s Main St.”

Rocking Horse Cafe on Urbanspoon

Filed under new york nyc restaurants food mexican chelsea

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Blue Smoke

GRAMERCY 116 East 27th Street New York, NY 10016


A couple of weeks ago, a few old work buddies were coming into New York and I needed to find a place for us to sit down for some good food and drink. Danny Meyer’s Blue Smoke had always been on my list of “need to go there” restaurants, and this occasion seemed just right. We needed a 7-person table, and Open Table told me we could only have 6. In typical USHG fashion, the staff was able to accommodate.

As soon as we walked in the place, we felt like we were going to have a great time. Front and center was a huge bar, with a wide selection of beers, bourbons, and the other usual suspects. The lively young crowd, vaulted ceilings, huge contemporary chandeliers, greenhouse windows and red diner-style booths all came together to make this BBQ joint seem uniquely New York.

For the meal, we got off to a great start with some Blue Smoke Original Ales (a delicious restaurant branded amber brew) and a few different bourbons for tasting; our palettes were primed for some serious BBQ. Next came the Crispy Chili Crusted Calamari ($12.95) that was light, and as advertised, crispy. Next to the squids at Parm, this was some of the best I have ever had. We also had the Chipotle Chicken Wings with Blue Cheese Dip (10.50), nothing too outrageous there.

For the entrée, I had the “Rhapsody in ’Cue”- a blissful plate full of Kansas City Spareribs, Pulled Pork, Smoked Chicken and Sausage (23.95). It was….incredible. The ribs, chicken, and sausage were flowing juicy, and had that thin pink “smoke ring” characteristic of a long, slow smoke. Flavor was bursting out of everything on the plate.

Overall: You can go with a friend, but if you are looking for a place to have a great time with a group, I would highly recommend Blue Smoke. The food and drink was affordable and delicious, the atmosphere was friendly and inviting, and the service was impeccable. A Friday night dining experience I would love to have again.

Blue Smoke on Urbanspoon

Filed under Danny Meyer Blue Smoke Food Restaurants New York