Restaurants »Mighty Quinn’s

At Smorgasburg

If you’ve been to Smorgasburg you know Mighty Quinn’s. It’s the one with the huge smoker and – invariably – the longest line.

So when we got to the fair super early we had to take advantage of its relatively short line. Sure, it meant a brisket sandwich for breakfast but, wow, what a brisket sandwich!

Tender, flavorful, meaty with a sauce that has the perfect balance of tang and smoke. It’s a cross between vinegar and tomato based owning influence to no one particular region. No wonder its such a favorite.

The chefs take a lot of pride in their food (and look at those forearms!) and are happy to chat BBQ with their eager customers.

Next time I’ll even brave the longer lines to try their lamb which is only available later in the day. It’s sure to be worth the wait.

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Posted on April 25, 2012

Restaurants »The Brooklyn Star

593 Lorimer Street

Our recent Southern fried, stick to your bones meal at The Brooklyn Star was full of happy surprises and familiar comforting tastes.

With a menu split between small and big plates the four of us split four smalls, two bigs and left sated but not stuffed.

Oh and we also got the piping hot bacon jalapeno cornbread. An appropriate intro to what was to come. Definitely a must.

Next came a fresh lemony kale salad that even veggiephobes will rave about, a nice oyster taco (which was good but not extraordinary), and spicy chicken wings that went beyond the usual pub fare with a smoky sweetness and plump meaty wings.

The biggest surprise on the small plates was the beef tongue served two ways. I have only known the dish tp be thinly sliced and cold but the shredded pickled version and the tender grilled slab were eye opening and possibly the best bites of the night.

Big plates were excellent too. I kind of pulled for us to order the hulking chicken friend steak, a personal favorite thanks to my hometowns Barneys Diner but admittedly love shared by many and a bit of an acquired taste.Their tender version could definitely turn some skeptics though and made me very happy.

The roasted chicken was also pretty phenomenal. Brined and garlicky, it melted in our mouths and reinforced my idea that chicken is better left to the pros. In my hands, it turns dull and overcooked but at a good restaurant the roasted chicken will never disappoint.

Drinks, like a spicy margarita and a smoky old fashioned were great accompaniment.
and the atmosphere was friendly (the scent of apple cider and smiling staff greet you), candle lit (my photos are a bummer so look to flickr for better ones) and uncluttered.

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Posted on October 23, 2011

Recipes »Cajun Style Blackened Halibut, Collard Greens, Potato Gratin

from Epicurious and Martha

An evening at Astrid and Marcus’ always means we are in for a special meal. They have the patience and attention to detail to offer us friends restaurant quality food with the comfort of friendly gossip while eating off our laps and letting Van chill out on the rug.

Recently we were treated to the best collard greens I’ve ever had, a lovely kicked up blackened halibut and a refreshingly mild, lemony potato gratin. Smoky beers, great wine and a thinly sliced fennel salad (that has me wanting to buy a mandoline slicer) rounded out the delicious meal. Thanks guys, yummy and memorable as always.

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Posted on March 18, 2011

Books »Bastard Out of Carolina

by Dorothy Allison (1992)

A young girl grows up rough in the South with plenty of abuse, drinking, family, and lessons.. it sounds like the kind of book that writes itself and may prove predictable in it’s drama, but Dorothy Allison does something quietly magical with her debut darling, The Bastard Out of Carolina. She creates a living, breathing world that feels authentic in no small part to the autobiographical elements of the story. Both author Allison, and protagonist Bone have a very tough life but one that still has some hope, love of family, and incredible personal spirit.

I can listen to people tell tales of their family gossip for hours, and Bastard Out of Carolina kind of feels like that to an extreme. It received numerous honors when it was published and his lauded not only by critics but readers. It was made into an Anjelica Houston directed showtime movie starring Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jena Malone.

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Posted on June 27, 2010

Recipes »Chicken Chili with Black Beans

Okay, so there's nothing scary about this wonderful Chicken Chili with Black Beans (in fact, it's so good it even convinced a friend who claimed to hate chili to ask for seconds), but it's so warming and perfect for after a night of trick or treating or a Halloween party that I thought I'd include it this week.

Plus, you could easily call it brain soup or something to make it more festive. Just be sure to add chipotle peppers in adobo sauce – that's the magical extra ingredient.

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Posted on October 26, 2009

Books »The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

the heart is a lonley hunterIt's hard to believe that Carson McCullers had so much understanding and empathy for the human condition at age 23 when she wrote The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. Set in North Carolina in the 1930's the sweeping but quiet novel is told from the perspective of four local residents: a young imaginative girl, an agitated and educated drunk, a calm restaurant manager, and an angry and intelligent African American doctor.?All four are wandering souls who find solace in Mr Singer, a tall mute whom they can imagine to be anything and anybody they want.

The novel has had a lasting impact on readers for decades. It's so layered and needing of thoughtful attention, that I almost regret I never read this like many have, in a class. I don't feel I quite gave it the time it deserved in snippets between subway stops and late at night after working late.

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Posted on August 31, 2009

Recipes »Gumbo

Gumbo is the kind of meal I simply don't have the patience to make myself. Fortunately my friend Mike possesses such virtues and is kind enough to share the fruits of his labours. His recipe calls for lots of okra, sausage and shrimp over a heap of white rice. It's spicy, rich and delicious.

Here are some basic recipes to work off of.

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Posted on July 27, 2009

Books »In the Land of Dreamy Dreams (1981)

land of dreamy dreamsI really can't recall how I heard of Ellen Gilchrist and why her book of collected short stories In the Land of Dreamy Dreams landed on my Amazon wish list, but I'm glad it did. I enjoyed these stories more than I expected and have been telling everyone I know to read this book which, given the book's history, is no big surprise: published with no fanfare or typical publicity by a small university press, it still managed to sell over 10,000 copies in its first release.

Based mostly in the South, where Gilchrist herself has and continues to live, the stories read kind of like a very feminine Raymond Carver. With very little she paints vivid image of often colorful women: a sprightly young girl who wants nothing more than to play her brother's games, a rich lady who spends most of her time in a fur covered bed because she's so bored with the world, the suffering daughter of a renowned eccentric woman that plans her own funeral, or a bitch at a country club who struggles against changes that challenge her steadfast views on race and class.

We are offered glimpses into seemingly mundane situations peppered with moments that might seem insignificant but change the characters forever. The stories are often as dark as they are memorable.

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Posted on June 1, 2009