Jenny Famewhore

Be still my heart

Posted in Boston by Jenny Famewhore on February 23, 2010

On Eric’s visit last weekend, we ate up Boston. Ate it all up. The experience was akin to those multiple orgasms that leaves you dizzy from all the blood rushing away from the brain towards more sensual organs, like the stomach.

I want to go back to languishing at: Orinoco in Brookline (Venezuelan), Helmand in Cambridge (Afghan), Neptune Oyster in the North End (Oyster bar), Sibling Rivalry in Back Bay (New American), and Sel de la Terre on Newbury Street (American).

I’ll let these photos write my thousand words for me: (click an image for slide show & commentary)

Yeah. Just hold on a sec. Need to get these pants undid.

A dessert a day

Posted in Boston by Jenny Famewhore on February 9, 2010

Iced Green tea with lychee jelly & Azuki Puff

It’s true what they say about sugar. It’s addictive, and your body craves more once you start. The trick is to never start, impossible!, or intake very limited amounts. I rarely drink sodas and juices (though not for this reason), sticking to teas (chai, jasmine, oolong), which normally tempers these terribly unhealthy pangs of want. But having access to an oven in the dorm room compels me to bake… carcasses of sugar and butter boxes pile up in the recycling bin at an alarming rate.

Some pastries however, are so worth it. This Azuki cream puff from Cafe Japonaise on Comm Ave, nr. Babcock St., is worth it. The outside is a crispy layer of croissant, with a dense buttery bottom holding in the smooth, silky custard and thick, sweet red bean paste. At $3.25, I could eat at least four more if I didn’t have an excess supply of recently baked lemon drop cupcakes. After this past weekend’s loaded “Armageddon Burger” (a recipe coming out in this week’s BC Heights, if all goes well) I should not have even looked its way to begin with. However, this little cream puff was so seductive and electrifying that after the first two bites, I was already sinisterly plotting on how to make it mine– replicating the recipe, and distributing it in the restaurant I may one day open.

Hm, maybe I shouldn’t state that in print.

Referenced Locations:

Cafe Japonaise
1032 Commonwealth Ave
Newton, MA 02459
www.japonaisebakery.com

… And we’re back!

Posted in Travel by Jenny Famewhore on January 16, 2010

Ahh, I sigh with a contentment that can only be brought about by sitting in a lounge chair in a string bikini, sipping on a sweating glass bottle of Coca Cola while the ocean spread out before me sprayed foaming thick waves like a frothy milkshake. Alternating my hand, I take a bite out of the Steak Pepito, lapping up the falling guacamole and bean spread that were being squished out from the edges of the sandwich. Yep, pinch me hard, I had made it to El Salvador.

clinking that vintage glass at Club Joya, private beach in El Salvador

Dropped off the face of the planet for a vicious, relentless holiday cycle of eating, no, gorging, free-falling into food comas and birthing food-tuplets, cooking a little, and resume eating some more. No respite for the wicked & gluttonous.

Qu’ils mangent de la brioche

Posted in New York by Jenny Famewhore on December 4, 2009

The Best Coconut Cake In The World

One dreamy Coconut Cake. If a Japanese otaku can marry his Nintendo avatar, I should be able to enjoy matrimonial festivities with this babe.

Throwdown’s Toasted Coconut Cake with Coconut Filling and Coconut Buttercream recipe

I love brunch– for consuming ungodly amounts of calories in one combined breakfast-lunch meal, for the pretense of leisure, and for bonding with my lovely girlfriends. We enjoyed a meal that satisfied all those coveted qualities at Mesa Grill, founded by Bobby Flay of Food Network throwdown notoriety. The service was snappy and fun. It was like being served food at someone’s house rather than enduring the stiff formality of most restaurants in this price-class. Sometimes a girl just wants to wear a floral dress and eat with her fingers. The waitress was one stealthy ninja when it came to refilling waters; and charmingly convinced Lisa and I to invest our dollar bills in the Best Coconut Cake In This World (or anywhere in the universe where coconuts are grown). I haven’t been as enthused about a cake as much as I have this one in quite some time.

The Coconut cake is so flavor rich, yet light, with alternating layers of coconut cream as if it were architecturally crafted by Michelangelo’s cherubs. The cake is made from a silky cake flour, and the filling is of a custard composed of coconut milk and malibu rum. This gives the cake a wetter texture than most — almost like icecream. The airy feeling forced me to disbelieve that I am really eating it, if it weren’t for the toasted coconut shavings grounding it, forcing it back into a solid physical plane.

As luck would have it, the recipe is on the internets, and will certainly make a cameo in my kitchen.

Referenced Locations:
Mesa Grill
102 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10011
Tel. 212.807.7400
http://mesagrill.com

An empire state of mind

Posted in New York by Jenny Famewhore on November 22, 2009

Part two of New York, Je t’aime (Part I here)

These are the two places that would be found if I were to dissect the stomach of the greatest city in the world and peer straight into its folds:


BARNEY GREENGRASS

Sundays are brunch days: chefs with higher culinary aspirations relegated to arranging plates of fruit, yogurt and granola, scrambling eggs with deli-cuts and American cheese, manning the waffle iron, and assembling it all buffet-style- unloved by the creative and for the undiscerning masses (famished church-goers, children, and their assorted pets).

And somehow, there is a pleasing magic to this tradition. A tradition that is elevated to its lofty level in my heart by Barney Greengrass, on the Upper West Side. Barney Greengrass is so quintessentially New York, it’s a cliché. Diner coffee that is scalding hot, and made from a shitty powder mix. None of that premium, plucked by fair-trade-represented Colombian workers, double-roasted smoky elixirs. Just inelaborate, black joe best with a liberal full 4 second pour of room-temperature milk from that steel creamer that had been sitting there before you even got to the table, and several packets of dominos.  It cheaply offers the same satisfying caffeinated punch necessary for waking up at the ungodly early hours of noon.

The service is no-frills, abrupt, and efficient. Egos should be firmly grounded before venturing in– no diva behavior will be entertained. Servers offer their opinions, unrequested. It’s like going to lunch at your nosy grandmother’s. She will comment on what you’re eating, and she will openly judge you for your order (if your grandmother is anything like mine– she is paradoxical. She will also comment on why my figure is not that of a ballerina’s, while pressuring me to eat more of everything else). The food though, like at grandma’s, is freaking fantastic.

Barney Greengrass (alongside those other Famous Delis) is also responsible for elevating Jewish food to its distinctive culinary form in New York. Anthony Bourdain loves it, and that man has notorious good tastes (a 10,000$/hr brilliant, nationally televised palate). The sturgeon is king here– “regret” should not be a vocabulary in the following 24 hours post-consumption of BG’s godly trinity of sturgeon, smoked salmon, or Nova scrambled with eggs and onion.

Additionally, Eric and I ordered the triple decker sandwich of roast beef, chicken fat, chicken liver, turkey, cole slaw and russian dressing. One of the servers came around and said, “Good luck with that.” Then, on the way back, he repeated, “Again, good luck.” But his assessment was incorrect. False, sir. It wasn’t enough, because it was SO DELICIOUS (the nutty, graininess of the bread spread upon with smooth, savory liver paste, and ground turkey, skipping down my throat- gobble gobbledeedoo– wholly satisfying despite the bland adjective in caps), we wanted more of it. Even though chicken fat and chicken liver usually aren’t my thing– hahahaha, who am I kidding? Fat is always my thing.

DI FARA

the mushroom slice I regretted getting only one of

A New York adventure is not complete without New York pizza. I’ve had many an arguments with my once-upon-an-Italian-lover over the superiority of New York pizza to the traditional Italian slices. Sorry dude, despite how charming your accent was on your persuasive speech, taste experience trumps rhetoric. The same way America takes plain Japanese sushi and transforms it into the magical Dragon roll, New York just took Roma and Sicily to the playing field on pizza and dominated. It’s just the facts of evolution. Enters one of the evolutionee at the front of the pack, Di Fara (pizzeria), out on Avenue J in the abyss of Brooklyn. The crust is feather light (a distinguishing NY trait), made with pastry dough, San Marzano tomatoes basked and plucked from the sunshine of Italy, and basil from Israel. Locavores would sit in a corner and cry as they ate this pizza, moral fortitude crushed by the crispy foundation of dough with the fresh cheese and sweet tomatoes melted together into one tasty, gooey fresco. On our visit, an outspoken Italian Brooklynite, clearly a long-time user and accomplice of Di Fara’s, leaning casually (strategically) on the counter, was cajoling Eric, with his stuck-in-an-elevator pitch of the holy virginal birth of this pizza, egging him on to purchase and consume the last pricey 5$ slice. He looked at the guy, the slice, the guy (still whispering sweet nothings), back to the slice. 2 against 1; hardly a fair fight.

Referenced Locations:

Barney Greengrass
541 Amsterdam Avenue at 86th Street
New York, NY 10024
(212) 724-4707
http://www.barneygreengrass.com

Di Fara
1424 Ave J
Brooklyn, NY 11230
(718) 258-1367

Thursday in the Heights: Houston’s

Posted in Boston by Jenny Famewhore on October 22, 2009

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I had been meaning to go to Houston’s/Hillstone for a few weeks (for food, for career research, for writing), so I lured Larissa into being my partner in crime with promises of expensive wine and Frank Bruni (departing NYT critic) approved burgers, and it wasn’t until last Monday 5pm, did we go on our restauranting date. 40 minutes later, we were in downtown Boston, and two hours later, we were still noshing on sandwiches of the lard-laden beef variety, triple-dipping our thin-cut fries in wasabi dressing, drinking the sweet bounty of Napa Valley, schmoozing with the staff, and getting lectured on the psychology of men by a 40 year old antique (read: used) cars salesman.

(Thank you, Larissa, for being my pillar of strength!!!)

Admittedly, I was kind of nervous. Who knew there was as much prep-work and depth of thought involved in grilling other people as there is in being interviewed yourself.

I had read all the reviews on Houston’s on menupages, NY Mag, Citysearch, industry zines, hospitality student blogs– everything within the first 300 results on Google was under my radar. I went in with enormous expectations– a loftiness usually associated with NASA space experiments; it was almost unfair.

On that note, this is my first published restaurant review in the BC newspaper, The Heights! While I was back in New York City this weekend on fooding adventures with Eric, someone (in the industry?) playfully asked us, “so which one of you is a food writer?” Eric laughingly replied, “Well, we both are.”  Word.

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Shake Shack: what all other burgers aspire to be

Posted in New York by Jenny Famewhore on September 1, 2009

Burger and Ice Cream, those words are already repeating itself like a mantra chanted by Buddhist monks at five in the morning at a temple in the Himalayas. Except that my backdrop is Madison Square Park on a cloudless blue summer afternoon. I prance up to the Shake Shack line to meet Lisa Famewhore, who is already clutching a bag of Shake Shack cheese fries and saving me a spot on the twenty person deep line. Almost immediately, my vision locks into her cup of Berry Blue ice cream, and on cue, she spoons a bite-ful of intensely blueberry flavored, milky, frosty delicious into my mouth. My eyes rolls upwards and I moaned, “MMMM, SO GOOD!” to my audience of two women behind us, who had completely halted their conversation to watch this entire exchange, and the very intently staring man in front of us who (according to TJ and his male instincts) had thought bubbles visibly emanating, “mmm, yeah, so good, that’s right. You lick that ice cream off that spoon. Now, lick each other.”

Honestly, Shake Shack is SO good, it doesn’t even require two Asian girls and borderline lesbian food play to market it. Just look at this. Instantaneous mental food-gasm. The golden ratio redefined into: 2 butter-coated buns, 1 crunchy fresh lettuce, 1 thick ripe slice of organic tomato, 1 secret sauce (my kryptonite in any food menu. Just write ‘secret sauce’ and my curiosity drives me to own it) and primo-meat (“a proprietary blend of beef by Pat LaFrieda.”)

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Every single Shake Shack Burger consumed, past and present, undoes the heinous evil of Really Bad Burgers (such as the tragic fail that is the McDonald’s Mega Mac exclusively made for Japan.) It’s like every tasty molecule is dying for our gastronomic sins. Imagine, Jesus times 300 units of energy.

Orion, my Confederate-expat (or in more P.C. terms, “Southern”) friend who entertained aspirations of culinary stardom before it was crushed by the economic shitstorm, formerly worked at the second Shake Shack on the Upper West Side where he’d punish French people for being French by forcing them to babble on in their hated language English, make eyes at the gay head-waiter at Dovetail across the street, and receive severe Shake Shack discounts as an employee. He still luuuuurves Shake Shack burgers; which is the most genuine form of compliment anyone can give as an insider to this industry (another acquaintance who had formerly worked at McDonalds, to preserve his sanity, became a vegetarian for 5 years.) Tragically, Orion has since quit, which leaves him nothing but dead to me (jaykay.)

Referenced Locations:

Shake Shack
Madison Ave and East 23rd St.
New York, NY 10010
(212) 889-6600