Archive | On a Budget RSS feed for this section

Lobster Rolls, Tacos, Doughnuts, (and Ukeleles!) at the Brooklyn Flea…Oh My!

10 Jul

My Trusty Sidekick and I headed to the Brooklyn Flea Market yesterday to support a new friend, Barry, of Great Plains Handmade Instruments. During the week Barry is an amazing teacher, and on the weekends he makes ukeleles, other instruments, and beautiful odds and ends–often out of salvaged materials like old cigar boxes.


We were  blown away by Barry’s booth and by all the other vendors there–from hand carved furniture to vintage dresses, sunglasses, and shoes to hand painted pottery.  Best of all was the food! We feasted on heaping lobster rolls, succulent braised beef tacos, and intensely flavored doughnuts. Here are the highlights:

Lobster Roll from The Red Hook Lobster Pound

These lobster rolls from The Red Hook Lobster Pound were hands-down my favorite part of the day. Overflowing with giant hunks of fresh, sweet lobster meat that was nestled in a lightly toasted bun and barely dressed with lemon, mayo, and green onion, this is my kind of lobster roll! Just looking at the picture I’m beginning to drool. At $16, it was the most expensive food item we could find at the Flea, but with all that meat we thought it was a great value. I fully admit that I’ll be stalking their Big Red Lobster Food Truck for the rest of the summer.

Braised Beef Taco from Chonchos Tacos

Trusty raved about the well-seasoned, tender braised beef in this taco from the Chonchos Tacos stand, which was $4. Similar to Red Hook’s lobster roll, which made the lobster meat the star,  the braised beef in this taco didn’t have to compete with much–just a traditional presentation of onions and cilantro.  And with all the flavor in the meat itself, all it needed was a little bit of hot sauce!

The talented guys of Porchetta

As soon as we entered the flea, our dog Sam took us straight to Porchetta’s stand where the guys were nice enough to offer her a little sample of their amazing roasted pork. I wish I got a better picture of their delicious sandwich:

Porchetta's slow cooked roasted pork sandwich

The sandwich, $10, features “pork three ways”–fatty belly, crispy skin, lean loin–all roasted with garlic, sage, rosemary and wild fennel pollen.  Meltingly soft and juicy, it was packed with flavor. While the lobster roll may have been the highlight of my day, this was the highlight of Sam’s.  She tried to talk us into setting up permanent camp underneath Porchetta’s table!

To beat the heat, we indulged in some crisp, cold, handmade sodas from Brooklyn Soda Works.  Formed in 2010, Brooklyn Soda Works is a labor of love by a young couple–an artist and a chemist–who make artisanal sodas that feature fresh, unconventional flavors like “Strawberry and Pink Peppercorn,” “Apple Ginger,” and “Dried Lemon, Juniper, and Hops.”

At the Flea we sampled two new flavors, “Raspberry Shiso,” and “Cucumber Sea Salt” :

The Cucumber Sea Salt was really surprising–it was especially thirst-quenching, and full of delicious cucumber flavor. The Raspberry soda, which was mixed with Shiso, a delicious Asian herb that can only be described as part mint-part basil, was also incredible.  The best part of both sodas was that there was hardly any sugar–they were truly refreshing and intensely flavorful. I was won over as a fan, and am eager to try more from Brooklyn Soda Works!

To finish off our trip to the Flea we treated ourselves to doughnuts from Bedford bakery Dough.

Dough's heavenly smelling booth

After our recent visit to the Doughnut Plant, the bar was set high.  But, Dough delivered. We tried a couple of flavors, including Chocolate Earl Gray, Blood Orange, and Hibiscus. My favorite was the Chocolate Earl Gray:

The Chocolate Earl Gray doughnut is INSANE.

The dough was soft and fluffy and the chocolate earl gray glaze was amazingly good–fragrant, flavorful, unusual, and not too sweet. (It got me excited to try this recipe to see how the flavor combination works in other sweet treats.) The Blood Orange flavor was another big hit:

Blood Orange doughnut

The sweet and tangy blood orange glaze was spectacular. Again, not too sweet, but it had a really concentrated blood orange flavor.

All in all, it was a fantastic trip to the Brooklyn Flea! Can’t wait to be back again!


Advertisements

Spicy, Satisfying, and Inexpensive Korean at The Mill in Morningside Heights

23 Jan

Lately it seems like everyone in New York City has the sniffles, including me. A stubborn cold is going around, and I’ve been trying to shake it for over a week. When DayQuil and NyQuil fail, it’s time to bring out the big guns; it’s time to head to The Mill for some spicy and satisfying Korean food.

I think of The Mill as a little gem in Morningside Heights. It’s really the only authentic Korean food around on the UWS, unless you want to hike down to K-Town.  My Trusty Sidekick and I love coming here (even when I’m not under the weather) because the food is fresh, the portions are huge, and the service is fast. Best of all, it’s cheap. For a quick, inexpensive dinner, it’s hard to beat The Mill.

In one word: Qauthentic (quick + authentic)

Location: 2895 Broadway (between 111th St & 112th St)

 

The four complementary Banchan (small dishes) at The Mill are always fresh and constantly changing.

Food: As soon as you sit down four bowls of complimentary side dishes, called Banchan, will arrive, followed by a small bowl of miso soup. These dishes always make me smile–they’re fresh and constantly rotating. Trusty loved the spicy kim chi, while my favorite was the chilled, spicy and silky tofu. It was a great way to start the sinus-clearing meal.

Nothing like a rich, comforting Miso soup when you're sick--especially when it's free!

Trusty and I always order our favorite, go-to Bibimbap dishes. (Quick aside on Bibimbap–if you haven’t had Korean before, this dish is a must-try. The word means “mixed meal” and that’s literally what it is–a bowl of warm white rice topped with namul (sautéed and seasoned veggies) and paired with a raw or fried egg and/or sliced meat. On top of it all, you add gochujnag, a very spicy chili pepper paste, or chogochujang, a delicious, addictive Korean version of ketchup.  The dish can be served hot or cold, but usually comes in a very hot stone pot, and the ingredients are stirred together thoroughly just before eating.)

 

Magical, addictive chogochujang, a thick, sweet and very spicy sauce that's like a Korean version of ketchup.

I usually order Hwae Bibimbap ($12), which is a cold bibimbap (served in a stainless steel bowl instead of a hot stone pot) with assorted julianne vegetables and pea shoots, strips of slightly salty and sweet dried seaweed, julianne Fuji apple slices, and chunks of fresh, raw, sweet tuna or tilapia, all over warm white rice.

 

I love all the flavors and textures in this dish!

This dish combines all my favorite flavors and textures–I love the cold, sweet, raw tuna and tilapia with the warm white rice and the sweet and crunchy Fuji apples with the veggies–crispy lettuce and pea shoots dressed in nutty sesame oil–with the salty and slightly sweet seaweed–mmm. Tons of fresh, delicious ingredients that only get better with the spicy, sweet and vinegary chogochujang sauce.

 

Yum. I love the huge portions. The bowl is always way too big for me to finish!

Trusty always orders his favorite bibimbap, which is Mushroom Dolsot Bibimbap with Beef. It’s loaded with mushrooms, other veggies like bean sprouts, carrots, and zucchini, and strips of seared beef. 

Trusty’s bibimbap arrives in a piping hot stone pot, and when he mixes all the ingredients together the heat of the pot scrambles the fresh uncooked egg. The bowl is so hot that anything that touches it sizzles for minutes.  Before the rice is added to the pot, the bottom is coated with a yummy, nutty sesame oil, which makes the rice at the bottom of the pot deliciously golden brown and crispy–one of Trusty’s favorite parts of the dish.

 

Even Trusty can't finish his whole pot.

 

Drink: We usually order tea, which is a basic, but delicious jasmine. For my sick throat, it was especially good. If you’re in the mood for something else, The Mill also offers soft drinks, a selection of Asian brand beers, and cold sake. 

Service: The service here is fast, but impersonal; the no-fuss service here takes a back seat to the food. Expect to be seated immediately and expect your food to arrive within five minutes after you’ve placed your ordered. But, don’t expect any chit chat from your waiter. You may find the staff to be practically wordless–often food arrives without any explanation–but (I think) the food speaks for itself.

Scene: The restaurant is a small, simply decorated space. Framed Korean prints and old scrolls hanging on the walls give the interior a cozy, authentic ambiance. If there’s an open table in the back, asked to be seated there–you can peek into the kitchen and watch the kitchen crew roll dumplings by hand.

 

Interior of The Mill.

Dress: The Mill is pretty firmly in Columbia University territory, so casual dress code is more than appropriate. Jeans, t-shirt, whatever.

Cost: Our check came to $30 with tax and tip. A great price, and for the amount of food we got, it was especially reasonable.

Delivery: Delivery available from 95th to 125th St Riverside Dr. to Morningside Dr. $8 minimum.

If you like, try: Hangawi Grill in Korea Town NYC, Kang Nam in Albany Park neighborhood of Chicago