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Mad Hot Latin Snacks

I love it when big brands go ethnic, even though frequently the foods are way off target and totally end up sucking. Pasta Roni World Flavors, anyone? I primarily mean items intended for American audiences since I suppose lots of countries have local staples replicated by U.S. corporations like one of my personal favorites Pillsbury parathas (too bad they didn’t put a bindi on Poppin’ Fresh’s forehead). Currently, the flavor craze is Latin American. Lime, chili, dulce de leche are seeping into our subconscious.

Dulce de Leche M&Ms are old hat, being introduced in 2001. But I’m still steaming over their no show in NYC. I think they were test marketed in parts of California, Texas and Florida. I don’t even think they still make them. Speaking of M&Ms, I see they’re going dark. I’m guessing they’re jumping on the antioxidant bandwagon (despite the whole Star Wars shtick). Next thing you know they’ll be churning out whole grain Hershey bars.

La Dulceria Thalia is quite a line of products. Dulce de leche Hershey’s Kisses, spicy Jolly Rancher pops, cajeta candies. Where is this stuff? Maybe I just haven’t been looking hard enough or in the right neighborhoods. Ah ha, I just grabbed a bag with Thalia’s face at the Jack’s 99-cent store counter. It wasn’t until I got it back to work that I realized the chocolates are cookies and cream flavored. So, now the Oreo combo is Hispanic too?

Entenmann’s Delicias Latina really got me excited and normally I don’t give a crap about Entenmann’s. New flavors of things I don’t even ingest make me happy. Mango loaf, tres leche cake—it just seems more appealing than ordinary danish. Leave it to Western Beef whose slogan “we know the neighborhood” is generally pretty true. They carry all sorts of packaged Caribbean and South American treats from local bakeries. But this is the first mainstream brand I’m aware of with a Latin line. It’s only a matter of time before guava cream filled Twinkies replace strawberry (hmm, I could’ve sworn there was a strawberry and cream Twinkie, but I’m not seeing it anywhere. And I don’t mean Tiger Tails, one of my absolute favorites, which have also been discontinued).

McCain Latin Latitudes You thought those potato smiley faces were wild—now McCain has gone Latin. It’s so hot to handle that these products aren’t available to the public. If you want to taste Cuban Style Pork Spring Rolls or Jamaican Style Jerk Chicken Dumplings you’ll have to have fine dining establishments that purchase these frozen treats cook them up for you.

Flamin’ Hot Limon Cheetos I don’t know that these are specifically Latin flavored cheese puffs. It’s not like Chester Cheeta is wearing a sombrero or anything (just his trademark shades). But I say it counts. Cheetos are the only chip (yeah, yeah, not everyone thinks cheese puffs are chips) I like, and chili and lime is a pretty right on combo. Don’t even get me started on all the amazing Lay’s varieties I encountered in S.E. Asia. It was almost enough to make me crave potato chips.


Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill needs another Thai restaurant like it needs more
baby strollers and SUVs. I can think of at least five off the top of my
head, and so far I've been less than impressed. It sucks having to go to
Queens just to satisfy a Thai urge, no spontaneity. And no, 9-D hasnt
rectified the situation. But it is one of the closest restaurants to my
apt., the food isnt heinous and the dcor is soothing, a notch above what
I'd expected from the former Josies Java space (the illuminated sign still
sits above the store front—a memorial to Josie?).

The dishes are carefully plated, presentation is important, they have a
wine list, lots of silk pillows with elephants on them, and light jazz
tinkles in the background. It could be a tourist restaurant in Bangkok.
Which isnt a bad thing compared to others in the area.

Our appetizer, a seafood salad, was on the small side, which was too bad
because it was quite good. The entrees were healthier in proportion. Duck in
three forms was being pushed as the Sunday night special—isnt that
what they do when they want to get rid of something? No matter, I love water
fowl. We tried basil duck, which tasted almost Chinese, flavorful, but not a
bit of spice. The penang beef was also picked from their small list of
curries (only three: penang, massamun and green). It was done right with
little coconut cream drizzles and kaffir lime shreds. It's the little
touches that give me faith.

What I don't have faith in are horrible know-it-all BoCoCa (barf)
residents who insist on asking for chopsticks. How do you get people to stop
asking for chopsticks in Thai restaurants, anyway? I don't care if it makes
me a “no lattes after breakfast” snob. There are rules in this
world, and even the upscale Brooklyn bohos need to follow them. (6/5/05)

I'd almost forgotten that we live only two blocks from a Thai restaurant.
And I really shouldn't complain about the mediocrity of Carroll
Gardens/Cobble Hill Thai food because I frequently get Chinese delivery of
the General Tso, crab Rangoon persuasion and don't hold it to higher
standards. It is what it is, and honestly, 9D isn't soul crushing.

We asked for spicy over the phone and it really was perky, way more so than
what typically passes for hot in NYC. Unfortunately, we had their old menu,
not the expanded one, so our choices were limited. And I still don't get why
they don't serve pork. Some of my favorite Thai dishes (which aren't at most
restaurants any way) are reliant on crispy gooey porcine flesh. We had
drunken noodles (not like my
inebriated version
), gai pad krapao and red curry beef. As much
as I would like to, I really can't complain about any of it. (11/16/05)

9-D * 460 Court St., Brooklyn, NY

Lotsa Laksa

Laksa is a many-splendored soup. Practically very nook and cranny on the Malay Peninsula claims a regional variation. I wonder how many types I’ll be able to try during my upcoming Singapore and Malaysia trip? Here’s a Wiki take on the topic.

Dim Sum Redux

New York City does all right in the food department, but sometimes I long for the west coast. Daly City, CA has it all: In-N-Out Burger, Filipino chain restaurants and Koi Palace, which I’ve heard has some of the best dim sum in the U.S. Koi Palace also has pretty dim sum pictures and a seriously comprehensive menu. (Now that I think about it, I have family in Daly City that I haven’t seen in over twenty years, but it’s doubtful they partake in the multitude of Asian goodies available.)

Despite loving dim sum, it’s very rare that I actually get out and eat any. It might have something to with not possessing the breakfast/brunch gene. Weekends are for sleeping in, it takes effort to transform into an early bird eater (though I more than make up for it throughout the day). My most recent foray into the realm of rolling carts and tiny treats was at World Tong, which is currently one of the better NYC choices. Don’t be scared of Bensonhurst.