Every time this year for the past couple of years, Scotty B, the fearless leader of Hidden Track and I always talk about making plans to get together for Turducken since neither of us have ever tried but really want to. I sincerely believe that this just might be the year that we actually make it happen (How about it Scotty B?). We’ll see…
Turducken for those of you that don’t know is: A de-boned chicken stuffed into a de-boned duck, which is then stuffed into a de-boned turkey.
Claims that Cajun-creole fusion chef Paul Prudhomme created this dish as part of the festival Duvall Days in Duvall, Washington in 1983 are unverified. A November 2005 National Geographic article by Calvin Trillin traced the American origins of the dish to “Hebert’s Specialty Meats” in Maurice, Louisiana, although readers immediately noted that the concept for the dish itself is centuries old. Hebert’s has been commercially producing turduckens since 1985, when an unknown local farmer brought in his own birds and asked Hebert’s to prepare them in that manner.
If you want to know how to make a proper Turducken, here are a few educational videos…
Frank Caliendo as John Madden cooking some Turducken
Jon Hochstat has been a friend of Hidden Track since the blog’s early days. At first he provided news tips and cross-promotion from his blogging days at Runaway Dinosaur. Whenever we spoke with Jon, he always had these interesting stories about his food adventures and in 2009 we finally convinced him to join the HT team to share some of these tales with our readers. Today Jon moves on from the column, but not from our team as we know he’ll be back to tell us about his travels and adventures from time to time.
Well folks after two and a half years and 77 Friday for the Foodies postings, I have decided it is time to step aside from writing this column.
The good news is that Friday for the Foodies will continue later this summer and will be in good hands. I know the person taking over for me will do a phenomenal job and hopefully take the column in a new direction with their own signature voice and style. I’ll leave the announcement of my successor up to Scotty B though. This will be my last posting for now. I plan on taking some time to pursue a dream because life is too short not to go for it. Thanks to all of my loyal readers over the last two and a half years. The feedback, comments and suggestions were greatly appreciated.
But before I go I wanted to share some of the food pictures I took last weekend when I was in Chicago for the 4th of July, it’s the least I can do.
On Monday, July 4th, my friends and I went to The Purple Pig located at 500 North Michigan Avenue for a late afternoon snack. The restaurant came highly recommended by a friend of a friend who lives in Chicago. Below are a few of the items we had. Highly recommended for a hungry carnivorous group. READ ON to see the photos from Jon’s trip…
First off, I want to wish everyone out there a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July. For everyone up at Watkins Glen for Superball IX, have a blast and bring back some great stories!
As for me, I will be in the windy city, hanging with some friends and knocking a couple of things off of my bucket list.
More on Wrigley field in a bit. The main reason for my visit to Chicago this time is to have dinner at Alinea. For those who don’t know, Alinea was named best restaurant in North America (for the second straight year) and 6th best restaurant in the world in the S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2011 (up one from #7 in 2010). Dining at Alinea is one of the items on my bucket list that I will be crossing off on this trip.
Alinea represents one of the most radical re-imaginings of fine food by any chef in American history and has propelled Grant Achatz to chef superstardom.
Everything about his restaurant is unique, from the deconstructed food, unfamiliar flavour combinations and theatre to the tableware, with dishes served in and on all manner of implements: test tubes, cylinders, multi-layered bowls that come apart. It’s boundary-shifting stuff.
I had a chance last year to dine at Alinea and was unable to due to logistics and timing, no way I was passing up the chance a second time! READ ON for more on Jon’s trip…
Recently, I read about a couple of stores in Queens owned by the same people that make their own salamis and sausages. Last Saturday and this past Monday I had the chance to check them both out. The first of these two stores is the Sunnyside Meat Market.
The Sunnyside Meat Market is located at 4310 43rd St which is just north of Queens Boulevard. I took the 7 train, exited at 40th street and made my way over there. If you don’t know about this store, you should. It is the sister store to the Ridgewood Pork Store in Middle Village Queens (located at 516 Seneca Avenue) where they make salamis and sausages from scratch. There is not enough room to make the cured meats in Sunnyside so everything is made at Ridgewood and brought over. The staff at both stores are friendly, welcoming and will take the time to explain to you (and give you tastes) of anything they make. This is European quality meats at non-Manhattan prices.
READ ON for more about these unique stores in Queens offering freshly made sausages and salamis…
One of the things about New York City being one of the great food cities of the world is that if you get OUT of Manhattan and head to different neighborhoods to try the local ethnic foods, you get the real deal! Recently I had the pleasure to meet an old friend from high school who took me to a Korean restaurant in Flushing where the food and service were both outstanding. The place we went to was Hahm Ji Bach. For the record there are two Hahm Ji Bach’s. My friend informed me that there is the original on Northern Boulevard and the one she took me to which is the second one opened by the original owner’s brother. The menus are similar but the one we went to is the much more popular of the two.
On my first visit it was just me and my friend who speaks fluent Korean. As this trip was just her and I, we opted for just some pork and some different types of lettuce leaves for a bo ssam. I was then told there would be a ton of food coming (no matter what we ordered, more on that shortly). I found out from my friend that the goal of the level of service given is to make everyone happy and “at home” within five minutes of arriving. The waitress and my friend had a nice conversation with some great back and forth banter, a few questions and a lot of smiles and laughs. Once they finished talking, all I was told was “we’re all set, hope you brought your appetite.”
One of the things that Hahm Ji Bach does to make you feel “at home” is to send out a lot of small appetizer plates as a courtesy. This was our table:
READ ONfor more of this week’s Fridays For the Foodies…
Last week I told you about a couple of the places I hit (and enjoyed) on my recent trip to Key West in the posting F4tF: Key West Eating and Drinking. This week I am sharing some other places I checked out both in Key West and on the drive home up Route 1 back to reality.
Last week, I found myself in Key West, FL visiting an old chef friend, spending some time networking and mostly enjoying the general slow pace of life that the Southernmost City in the Continental U.S. can offer. I had the chance to check out a couple of interesting places while I was there. One was a cool burrito place, the other was a new craft beer bar.
When I arrived in Key West, I spent some time with my chef friend’s son, who is also a chef and a good friend. After he asked if I was hungry and I told him I was, he told me that he was headed to one of his favorite off the beaten path – as in non-touristy – places in Key West, BadBoy Burrito.
I had never heard of them before he took me. Not in any trade magazines, food blogs, Twitter or anything. The first thing you notice when you walk in is that there is no fancy menu, no gimmicky names for the burritos, just a list of the veggies and meats, sauces/salsas and toppings. The system is simple: one meat, one sauce or salsa, three toppings.
READ ON for more on Jon’s experience down in Key West…
Recently I was in Washington D.C. for a few days visiting some friends who I hadn’t seen in a while. Apart from getting together with my D.C. area friends for some dining and drinking adventures, I had two places on my list of places that I wanted to go to by myself just to enjoy the experience. One was the Dupont Circle Farmer’s market which I wrote up last week. The other place was Ben’s Chili Bowl.
Bill Cosby’s Original Chili Half-Smoke – $5.45
Our signature dish! Experience the Chili Half-Smoke, originally made famous by Ben’s in 1958 and a favorite of Mr. Cosby’s since the early 60’s. We put this 1/4lb. half pork and beef smoked sausage on a warm steamed bun and top it with mustard, onions and our spicy homemade chili sauce. There are few culinary delights better at any price. Want it well done? Have yours split and grilled on request.
It is hard not to find time to eat at Ben’s Chili Bowl as they have crazy hours (their description not mine)
Our Crazy Hours!
Monday thru Thursday
Breakfast from 6am – 10:45am
Main Menu from 10:45am – 2am
Breakfast from 6am – 10:45am
Main Menu from 10:45am – 4am
Breakfast from 7am – 10:45am
Main Menu from 10:45am – 4am
Main Menu from 11am – 11pm
READ ON for more on Jon’s experience at Ben’s Chili Bowl…
Last weekend I was in Washington D.C. visiting some friends and staying in Dupont Circle area of town. On Sunday morning I did something I hadn’t done in almost 10 years – visit the Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market.
If you love farmer’s markets and happen to be in Washington DC on a Sunday, you owe it to yourself to go. Here is what their website has to say about the market:
The Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Market is located in the heart of one of Washington, DC’s most vibrant and diverse neighborhoods. Washingtonian magazine credits the market with “teaching Washingtonians to love their fruits and vegetables.” The Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times of London also named the market one of the top farmers’ markets in the country. During the peak season, there are more than 40 farmers offering fruits and vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, cheeses, fruit pies, breads, fresh pasta, cut flowers, potted plants, soaps and herbal products.
The market is open 8:30AM to 1:00PM April through December. Per their website, the market is located at 20th St. NW between Massachusetts Ave. and Connecticut Ave. Click here for map. I got there early.
Well, I am back from my vacation to the west coast to see some friends and eat some good L.A. food. I know in my last posting F4tF: Los Angeles, the Return I had some lofty goals like Sushi Zo and Totoraku. However, early on into the trip I realized this was going to be a “the plan is to have no plan” vacation. So with that being said, here is my first dining recap from the trip, appropriately titled Hamburgers & Hot Dogs.
Now I know when most of us east coasters hit the west coast the first thing we do is head to In-n-Out Burger. I had planned to as well. I even tweeted “Wheels down at LAX, ETA for double double animal style less than 30 minutes.” That however was not meant to be as this trip I decided to stop off at Unamiburger which was named Burger of the Year for 2010 by Alan Richman of GQ Magazine. Just by luck I happened to stop by the same Unamiburger location he did at 850 South La Brea Avenue in L.A.
I have to say, I was very impressed with the flavor and texture of the burger. Not quite as great as The Best Burger in America from Le Tub in Miami, but damn good otherwise.
This year’s trip promises to be even better with meals planned at Son of a Gun (new seafood place from the guys who own Animal), Comme Ça, Sushi Zo, Totoraku (not yet confirmed, but very close), Pizzeria Mozza (again) and a few surprises that my L.A. Chef friends say they have cooked up for me. If you want to keep up with my daily dining exploits on this trip, follow me on Twitter.
I told a friend the other day, the only way I survive eating my way through Los Angeles is by doing 5 mile hikes of Runyon Canyon every morning (first hike is tomorrow, April 2nd) followed by Yoga in the Park at Runyon Canyon Park (which is free btw). During last year’s trip, I emailed a non-L.A. based Chef friend daily about my eating exploits and told him about the canyon hikes. After a few days of dining updates, I got the following message : “I can understand the Hill Climbing better with each email!”
READ ON for more of this week’s Friday For The Foodies…
If you go to Au Pied de Cochon you better be aware of two things. 1) Chef Martin Picard loves meat, especially Foie Gras and 2) The menu is not for the faint of heart or for those with heart conditions.
The one caveat I have to give with this review is that this was a meal where four of us relaxed and enjoyed the food, service and ambiance. I did take pictures of the meal, but I did not write down everything we ordered – and we ordered a lot. I reached out to my fellow diners that night and got some items ID’d but not all of the pictures will have the menu item labeled. Hey, sometimes on these trips you just want to sit down, relax and enjoy the food, ambiance and people you are with.
READ ON for more on Jon’s trip to Au Pied de Cochon…
We secured an early reservation for DNA and 5 of us headed over to the restaurant which is situated in Old Montreal. We decided on going all-in, opting for the Nose to Tail with wine pairings. What follows is my recollection of that evening in pictures and words.
Just a word of warning to those of you that may be squeamish to these kinds of meals, if this stuff turns you off please click away. If not, sit back, relax and ask yourself “Would I have had the guts to do this?” I did!
READ ON for more on the Nose to Tail Dinner at DNA…
My retelling of the weekend is not happening in the order I ate however as my meal at Cabane à Sucre was the last of the weekend and Schwartz’s Deli was the second of the weekend. However, once all four of my meals from the weekend are written up you will understand why I did them in the order I did.
Opened in 2009, Cabane à Sucre is a sister restaurant to Au Pied de Cochon which has been open in Montreal since 2001. Both restaurants are helmed by Chef Martin Picard whose unabashed love for Foie Gras has earned him both respect and scorn in Canada. We were lucky enough to have gotten a reservation at Au Pied de Cochon the Saturday night I was in Montreal. One of the friends who I was with tried to get a reservation the day Cabane à Sucre started taking reservations for 2011 but was shut out. We later found out from one of Martin Picard’s partners in Au Pied de Cochon that the demand for seats for the 2011 season (all of 9 weeks) was so high that the entire season booked out in less than 36 hours this year. Luckily for us, the weekend I was in Montreal was opening weekend which meant that Cabane à Sucre was doing a soft opening weekend (less people sat to get the kinks out, get the service down). During our meal at Au Pied we were lucky enough to score seats to the first seating (11AM) of the second day of service for 2011. On the morning of Sunday, February 27th we hired a car and a driver and headed out from Montreal to St-Benoît de Mirabel, Québec (about a 25 minute drive). 35 Minutes later we arrived at what we later would realize was nirvana. READ ON for more on Cabane à Sucre…