Go Get Portokalopita Right Now

portokalopita

A couple of years ago Donny wrote about the portokalopita from Uncle Gussy’s food truck. Although I never tasted it, I started thinking about it. It sounded so good, but I hardly ever went to Midtown and anyway it’s not something they always have. Made by the owner’s aunt, the cake made of orange zest, cream, syrup, and filo is an occasional special on the menu. Cut to last month, when I was briefly working in Midtown. Donny texted me to let me know that Uncle Gussy’s had portokalopita, so finally my chance had come! Unfortunately Donny was wrong, they were going to have the dessert the following day. So I had to wait another whole day. Anyway, it was worth the wait. The portokalopita manages to feature every fragrant flavor of an orange — sweet, sour, and bitter — and pack them into a delicious cake. So go follow them on Twitter and if you see they have the dessert, go and get it.

Uncle Gussy’s Food Truck

Meat Hook Sandwich

Meat Hook Sandwich

After months of drooling over photos of The Meat Hook crew testing out potential sandwiches, they finally opened their sandwich shop to the public.

Their menu is short and simple, consisting of 6 different sandwiches. Gyro, Italian, roast pork, roast beef, ham and cheese, and a chicken sandwich. I sort had my heart set on the roast beef sandwich, until I got to see the more detailed menu at the counter. The chicken sandwich wasn’t just a chicken sandwich but a hot fried chicken sandwich ($12). Ding! You know I can’t say no to a fried chicken sandwich. This sandwich was massive and I loved every bite of it. Spicy, crunchy, flavorful, sauce dripping, and everything held together nicely by a very nice bun.

Though just heads up, when Robert Sietsema of Eater went, I noticed the cannibal sandwich had replaced the chicken sandwich. What da what?! On Instagram, Brent Young told me that the menu will rotate like crazy. I’m glad I was able to try the chicken sandwich and can now move onto try the other sandwiches.

Their hours are 11 – 4p everyday.

Meat Hook Sandwich 495 Lorimer St. Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Fried Chicken: Preserve 24

Preserve 24

I was having doubts about going to Preserve 24 for their fried chicken. Couple days before deciding to go, I had read what the guys over at The Infatuation wrote about their experience at Preserve 24. They gave the place a rating of 1.2 (out of 10) and basically said everything they ate was crap. Oh boy. But no matter what, I had to find out for myself.

Unlike The Infatuation guys, I went for brunch and not dinner because that’s the only time they serve the fried chicken. I took a seat in the near empty bar at around 12:30p. I ordered a Bloody Mary and the fried chicken.

The Bloody Mary tasted generic and was nothing special. After a moment, my fried chicken came. Sitting inside a cast iron skillet were 3 pieces of chicken (drumstick, thigh, breast), 2 biscuits, and a bottle of honey wasabi ($17). It looked pretty damn awesome but how did it taste? Well, it..was…pretty….damn…..good. The pieces of chicken were crunchy, salty, and juicy. Though if only the meat had a little more seasoning, this dish would’ve been great. Well, that’s what the bottle of honey wasabi was for. Drizzle that all over the chicken! And be sure to ask for a bottle of hot sauce too.

As for the biscuits, I really liked them. They had this really nice crispy outer shell which some people might hate but I enjoyed the crispiness. The inside was nice and fluffy.

Overall, I thought the dish was good and solid.

Preserve 24 177 E Houston St. Manhattan, NY

See what other fried chickens I have eaten for my fried chicken project.

Sheemaker’s Bounty At Untamed Sandwiches

sheemaker's bounty

Here in Brooklyn at a bar called South they serve what they call the Grilled PBJ&J. That’s peanut butter, jelly, and (pickled) jalapenos. It’s an incredible creation, taking something familiar — PB&J — and adding something unexpected — the jalapenos — that makes the sandwich special. The acidity and spiciness of the jalapenos makes the perfect bridge between the peanut butter and the jelly, and the sandwich is grilled so the bread is warm and crispy. I bring this all up because I recently had a peanut butter, jelly, and broccoli sandwich at a restaurant in Midtown. It’s called the Sheemaker’s Bounty, and at first it didn’t occur to me what I had ordered. It’s described as containing “charred broccoli, fried almond butter, and pickled raisin jelly.” As soon as I bit into it I realized that it tasted exactly like a PB&J that someone had jammed a load of broccoli into. Now this isn’t as bad as it may sound. There is actually nothing off-putting about the combination. But unlike the jalapenos in the Grilled PBJ&J, the broccoli doesn’t add anything or enhance the sandwich in any way — well, other than adding some nice green veggies to a PB&J (AB&J?). Does that make it healthier? Anyway, the sandwich was good but I can’t envision going out of my way to get another one.

Untamed Sandwiches — 43 West 39th St

Fried Chicken: Charles’ Country Pan Fried Chicken

Charles' Country Pan Fried Chicken

I LOVE YOU CHARLES! How can you not love Charles’ Country Pan Fried Chicken, a place that churns out great food and great fried chicken? Also for $13, you can do the all-you-eat and stuff yourself silly.

I have read many reviews about this place, some say it’s the best fried chicken while some complain about the actual tininess of the space and the use of heat lamps. All I can tell you is that, both times I went was right when they open on the weekends. I don’t know the quality of the chicken in the afternoon or at night. I can only tell you how the food tasted at 12:30p and it tasted great.

If you have never been to Charles’, you should know that this is not fried to order chicken. It’ll most likely be sitting inside the fried chicken case with heat lamps above it, keeping the pieces of wings, drumsticks, thighs and breast warm. Getting there right when they open is your best bet for getting some fresh hot fried chicken. There’s also the steam table full of mac n’cheese, collard greens, black-eyed peas, rice, okra and one time there was even a whole ham. Yes, if you pay $13 for the buffet, even the ham is all-you-can-eat. The fried chicken, with near perfect crispy non-greasy skin, was great but the both times I had them, I thought it needed just a little bit more salt in the meat. Though I just squirted some hot sauce and everything was just fine. The food on the steam table was pretty standard stuff which you can skip if your main goal is the fried chicken but I can’t say no to all-you-can-eat mac n’cheese!

What I really love about Charles’, besides the all-you-can-eat, is the relaxed atmosphere. I know that isn’t for everybody but I love walking in with couple friends, grab a big plate of fried chicken, stack them up real high, and just sit there for hours eating and eating. No fuss, no one to bother you, no need to deal with attitudes. And the best thing, after eating 9 pieces of fried chicken, I did not feel gross or wanted to die which is pretty important for buffets.

Charles’ Country Pan Fried Chicken 2839 Frederick Douglass Blvd #1, Harlem, New York

See what other fried chickens I have eaten for my fried chicken project.

Wild

Wild

The idea of gluten free has been around for a long time now but I’m still quite not 100% sure what gluten free really means. Is it just no flour? What else has gluten in it? So when an invite to attend dinner at Wild, a gluten free restaurant in Williamsburg, I decided to go. I was curious about gluten free and was hoping to learn something.

We were treated to two gluten free pizzas, the Wild Mushroom Truffle pizza with ricotta and arugula and the Wild White pizza with mozzarella, ricotta, truffle oil and cracked pepper. There were also the house salad with beets, tomatoes, artichokes, and goat cheese, pan seared salmon, wild chicken parm, gluten free penne pomodoro, and couple bites of desserts.

I love that there is a gluten free centric restaurant for people that are allergic to gluten, a place to dine out. But this place isn’t for me. I felt bad as I was eating the pizza because the entire time I was thinking about the slice of non-gluten free pizza I was going to eat when I get home. Am I bad? The flavors were there on the topping, I especially liked the white pie but I just love a good pizza crust way too much to give it up. There were hits and misses for the rest of the menu. The penne was over cooked but nice sauce and the chicken parm was pretty good.

Overall it was a fun night and I got to try some gluten free stuff but I just don’t think I’ll give up gluten anytime soon.

Wild, 340 Bedford Ave, Williamsburg Brooklyn

Chocolate Rugelach At Breads Bakery

rugelach

I have high standards when to comes to rugelach. Most people have probably never heard of rugelach, a rolled pastry of Eastern European Jewish tradition. The dough is usually made with sour cream or cream cheese, and the filling is traditionally rasins-walnuts-cinnamon, though fruit fillings and chocolate fillings are also popular. My cousins’ grandmother, Toby, makes amazing rugelach. So when Donny told me that he’d had some great rugelach at Bread’s Bakery, near Union Square, I decided to try them for myself. They are pricey, so I only got four (not that any one rational person needs more than four rugelach). Are they as good as Toby’s? No way. Are they amazing? Yes they are. The pastry dough is buttery, the chocolate rich and not too sweet. If you got these at a bakery in Paris you’d go home and rave to people about the quality of Parisienne patisserie. Having a source of such great pastries right here in NYC is fantastic — but I already have a better, cheaper source. But if you don’t have your own Grandma Toby, and/or you’ve never had rugelach before, Breads Bakery is the right place to start.

Breads Bakery — 18 E 16th St, Manhattan