Tewari Bros, Mumbai

I’m not sure if I’ve admitted this on here yet, but Indian food isn’t really my thing. If i have admitted it before, let’s pretend that this is a totally new admission and you’re both shocked and intrigued. “But why?” you think, “how can a food writer who thinks all day–almost entirely–about eating reject the culinary stylings of her ancestors?” Firstly, don’t put me in a box, but secondly, it’s complicated. (I’m aware that sounded like a breakup.)

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2015: A Retrospective of Bites

Well, we’re here in 2016, and before I post about my trip to India and other general musings on life, snacks, kale, Gisele and Tom’s (non) eating habits, and the like, I thought it best to review some of the tastiest things I ate in 2015. Without further ado and in no particular order…

1. Rice Salad at Thip Khao (Washington, DC)I’ve rhapsodized about this before–the crunchy slivers of pig’s ear, and the freshness of herbs, and spiciness that provided a gentle burn throughout. Truly so fantastic. Review here.

2. Pizza at Di Fara (New York)

Excuse the atrocious picture BUT, few things will drag one to the depths of Midwood, Brooklyn–this expertly made pizza will do it. The sauce (with tomatoes imported from Italy, of course) is probably the most incredible part of it, not to mention the owner who is in his 80s (above) and still touches almost every pie.

3. Beef & Bone Marrow Pie at Chi Spacca (Los Angeles)
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I kept hearing about this pie from my brother, and once I finally tried it, every expectation was fulfilled. It’s unctuous and flaky and super-savory all at once. Go get it, if you can.

4. Corn Arepas with an Egg (Medellín, Colombia)

I vividly remember saying, aloud, at the breakfast table “these are a revelation.” The sweet, slightly charred corn flavor and the rich egg yolk are just next level delicious. More here.

5. Fried Chicken “Coq Au Vin” at Convivial (Washington, DC)
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So, the picture doesn’t adequately display how fantastically tasty this dish was, but believe me it was. The rich winey sauce coated the fried chicken, it was so sinful and…now I’m ravenous.

6. Suckling Pig with Orange Sauce at Belcanto (Lisbon, Portugal)

The orange sauce (with a clove of roasted black garlic) and slightly ever so charred cabbage were perfect counterpoints to the crispy, caramelized pork. But, I also must mention that the potato chips seen in the top right corner were inside an edible bag. So yes, I just bit into the whole thing. Magical. Full Lisbon eating guide here.

7. Smothered Shrimp and Grits at Narobia’s Grits and Gravy (Savannah, GA)

I wish I could say we stumbled across this down home Savannah spot, but the truth is I’d been dying to try it for a few months, and the moment I knew we’d be heading to this Southern town, I insisted on going there. The smoky, smothered shrimp were so unbelievably fresh and sweet over luscious, creamy grits. Read more here.

8. Red Wine Braised Artichokes and Parmesan Custard at Vernick Food & Drink (Philadelphia)

Every year, I make at least one trip to Philly, and each time I’m wowed by the food. This dish, one of many at Vernick Food & Drink was so ideal to spoon up on a cold winter evening. Parmesan and red wine go together so well, of course, and I loved the interesting combination here. Full Philly writeup here.

9. Khmer Pancake at Ithaca Farmer’s Market (Ithaca, NY)IMG_9445Back for my college reunion, I made sure to re-live the massive amounts of eating I did in my four years. On weekends at Ithaca’s famed Farmers Market, I almost always ordered a Khmer pancake at the Cambodian stall. Filled with pork, sliced vegetables and vermicelli noodles, it’s absolutely one of my favorite bites this year, and perhaps ever. More here.

10. Pork Sausage with Coconut-Chile Sauce and Lychees at Rose’s Luxury (Washington, DC)pork-sausage-with-coconut-chile-sauce-and-lychees-940x600I’ve been wanting to try the notoriously impossible-to-get-into DC restaurant Rose’s Luxury for a year or two at this point, and on a rainy December night we got lucky. This dish was transcendental. Stirring all the ingredients together, you got the pungent red onion, ever so slightly spongy lychees, coconut froth, and meaty thai sausage. Want to make it? Here’s the recipe.

[Rose’s Luxury Photo courtesy of Bon Appetit]

Condimentally Unstable-4 of my current go-tos

Finding a person who is as obsessed with condiments as I am is one of my greatest accomplishments. As you can see, our fridge is a hodgepodge of a terrifying number of hot sauces, mustards, jams, and more. Most meals involve at least three condiments, and our collection far from prevents me from continuing to purchase more.

So, as the holiday season nears, and opportunities for cute, tasty jarred items increases, I’ve put together a little list of some of my favorites. Before you get on my case, I know–jams, jellies, and honeys aren’t traditionally thought of as condiments. But, this being my blog and my love of packaged sauces, I’m including them.

1. Mike’s Hot Honey
Ever since I tried this sweet, spiciness on a sopressata pizza, I was hooked. I’ve tried other varieties of hot honey, and Mike’s is the best. http://mikeshothoney.com/


2. Fortnum & Mason Old English Hunt Marmalade
Growing up in the UK has made me appropriately obsessed with marmalade. I spread it in very thick layers on toast, and have been known to eat it with a spoon. This “Old English Hunt” one is my https://www.fortnumandmason.com

 

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3. Hot Pepper Jelly
Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of the hot pepper jelly I’ve been enjoying lately, as it’s at my parents house, and was made by my cousin. However, I love dipping ham and chicken in globs of the stuff for a tangy, sweety-heat bite. [photo courtesy of mypantryshelf.com]


4. Trader Joe’s Sriracha and Roasted Garlic BBQ Sauce
I have to tell you, this stuff is magic on any meat. It’s a frequent visitor to the table, especially if we’re eating (god forbid) dry chicken. It’s not as chic as the others on the list, and probably not appropriate for a gift, but get thee to a TJ’s immediately and you won’t regret it. http://www.traderjoes.com

 

 

A Very Bhabhagiving…as usual

As I’ve said in the past, it never ceases to amaze me that the one holiday that my European-Indian-Jewish-Parsi-Non-American-Born family hosts at my parents house is Thanksgiving. Since our arrival in the U.S. in 1994, we’ve prided ourselves on having the ultimate turkey feast, all starting with the November 1994 edition of Bon Appetit magazine. More here.

This year was no exception, as we all bounded into Cambridge, MA–a bigger group than usual–ready to spend 48 hours cooking, then eating, then comatose.

I began my cookery on Tuesday, preparing the dough for gingerbread, which I then turned into little edible men for table place cards.
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Footloose and Fancy Free(lancing)

As I make yet another big life professional decision, I return to the freelance life of hustle. It has definitely not been an easy way, and not one that I ever expected upon college graduation, but when it’s fulfilling, it is extremely so.

In my on-off 2.5 years of freelance writing, I’ve come to really delve into the coffee shop experience. Cliche and classic millennial, I know, but an important piece of my journey for sure. From Van Leeuwen ice cream in the East Village to Atlas Cafe in Williamsburg, back to the East Village at Zucker Bakery, and now here in Washington, DC, I’ve written books in these places, frantically called my mother in tears or wide smiles, and often questioned my path.
My newest spot, here in DC, has been Slipstream. I don’t live so close to it, but this bright and inviting cafe has lots of space, a Kabocha squash latte that is transcendental (and doesn’t leave me feeling like a pumpkin spice basic even if it’s a hipster version, see below), and delicious food, not to mention evening cocktails when I need some extra, ahem, motivation.
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And so my laptop journey begins again, but with the superlative avocado toast.

Avocado toast image courtesy of The Washington Post

Colombia…whew it’s been a whiiiile

Okay, so I know it’s been absolutely ages, and trust me, I feel even worse about it than you do. Life has been…insane, with work, a new book project I’m very excited about (psst Lebanese psst), having a little nephew come into my life, and just the insanity of things. Well, I’m back on the wagon and wanted to share some tastiness from my recent trip to Colombia.

When one thinks of Latin American cuisine, Colombia is not often the first country whose gastronomy comes to mind. Salvadorian pupusas and Peruvian ceviche, perhaps, but not usually the cuisine of Colombia. However, on a recent trip, I encountered a terrific array of dishes.Full disclosure, my trip to Colombia wasn’t purely touristic—my sister-in-law hails from Medellín, and we were visiting for the auspicious occasion of my nephew’s baptism.

Prior to the trip, I anxiously awaited a full week of un-adulterated (and often deep fried) comida Colombiana. Needless to say, I got what I was looking for. Without further ado, some of my favorite tastes from the trip (oddly, many were breakfast dishes which is almost never the meal I like best):

Half-moon shaped “pan de yucca”: delicately crisp breads encasing velvety bread stuffed ever-so-slightly with cheese.

And more pan de yucca, because there really aren’t ever enough

Transcendental, piquant mini chorizos

Silky spiced beans

mindbendingly delicious corn arepas stuffed with fried eggs were a real revelation, sweet and slightly charred with the creamy yolk hiding withinIMG_0602

Tiny magnificient little marzipan angels and babies on my nephew’s honor

Salt baked shrimp

Cheese filled artichokes (yes.)

(very) locally made cow’s milk cheese

More stunning bread because…bread:And now, just some gratuitous photos of this magnificent country.