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Eaten, Barely Blogged: Not In My Backyard

Recette As payback for picking me up a handful of Jason Wu for Target items in New Jersey on Superbowl Sunday, I vowed to treat to a friend to a fancy dinner (I owed her $150) but not like Per Se or Eleven Madison Park fancy. I don't really hear much about Recette, and hate to imply that the creative (and yeah, a little pricey) West Village restaurant isn't worth discussing in greater detail, but this was a case of eating, drinking, talking, hanging out without over-thinking everything on the plate, an approach to dining I've been embracing more lately. I did still take photos of the five-course tasting, however, so peek if you wish. For nearly each course we were given two different dishes, so the variety was great.

Recette 0
PINK GRAPEFRUIT MARGARITA, Hornitos Añejo, Fresh Pink Grapefruit, Lime Juice, Espelette/KUMQUAT OLD FASHIONED, Bulleit Bourbon, Poached Kumquats, Blueberry Bitters/Uni amuse

Recette 1

BEEF CARPACCIO, Burrata, Tomato Jam, Porcini Purée, Basil, Watercress/MARINATED ARCTIC CHAR, Oyster, Crunchy Salad, Bonito Broth, Bottarga

Recette 2

GRILLED PULPO, Black Garlic, Olive Oil, Lemon, Fennel/"ONION SOUP", Onion Espuma, Oxtail, Gruyere, Consommé

Recette 3

BLACK BASS, Potato Gnocchi, Pancetta, Roasted Salsify, Seafood Nage/ROASTED SCALLOPS, Artichokes, Thumbelina Carrots, Caviar Beurre Blanc

Recette 4

ROASTED FLUKE, Shellfish "Congee", Leeks, Sauce Bouillabaisse/BERKSHIRE PORK BELLY, Rock Shrimp, Turnips, Romesco, Sherry Caramel

Recette 5
a pre-dessert (the banana chocolate real dessert photo didn't turn out)/"SMORES", Graham Cracker Ice Cream, Toasted Marshmallow, "Hot" Chocolate Ganache

Ox Cart Tavern As an experiment, I traveled from my office to Ditmas Park during a Friday evening rush hour. 4/5 at Bowling Green to B/Q at Atlantic Ave. to Newkirk Ave. Forty-five minutes wasn't so bad considering it frequently takes me 40 minutes going four stops from Carroll Gardens (it certainly did this morning) even though  no one believes me. My potential new neighborhood livability test doesn't take dining into account, though, because Ditmas Park couldn't win on that count. There are like two young people bars (I investigated a third for old-timers and almost got my iPhone stolen by one of the many  middle-aged–truly middle-aged, not 40–alcoholic women) and four restaurants. But really, it's doubtful I'll go to Momofuku Milk Bar or whatever new thing opens this week anytime soon (I am interested in La Vara) but there is something comforting about knowing they're there just in case. No matter, we have a car and always go out of the neighborhood to eat and drink on weekends anyway, and would do so on weeknights if we had a garage and driveway to come back to, which we would in Ditmas Park. Ox Cart Tavern is the kind of place that has Sixpoint Sweet Action in cans, sloppy duck sliders, lots of small children on the early side and waits for tables as the night progresses. It's average, but the disproportionate ratio of potential diners to seats implies the neighborhood is restaurant-starved.

La fusta mixed grillLa Fusta Like I said, weekends aren't spend dining around Carroll Gardens. We wanted steak and to try St. Anselm, but Williamsburg on a Saturday night didn't seem wise (unless you're going someplace non-hyped like Taco Chulo where I went the previous Saturday and there was still a wait). Argentine parrillada is nothing like St. Anselm, I imagine, but you do get some offal and weird bits (no goat head and hearts, sadly) when you order the mixed grill. The skirt steak and Korean-cut ribs are good, but I genuinely love the creamy and chewy intestines sitting on top of the pile of meat and the mushy morcilla buried beneath (I get all the blood sausage in exchange for giving up the not-that-exciting-to-me chorizo that is more similar in flavor to a breakfast sausage) and not just to show off. The intestines are nearly like those rolled wafer cookies you find at Asian grocers filled with chocolate or pandan, but I probably don't want to know what makes-up the meaty interior stuffing–it's certainly not shortening and sugar. Previously on La Fusta.

Taco Chulo Hey, it's better than San Loco.

Chain Links: French Edition


French lunch times have shrunk from an hour-and-a-half to 22 minutes, so sandwiches are replacing bistro meals. Now there are lines out the door at Subway, and McDonald's has added waiter service at one Paris location to capitalize on the move toward more casual dining.

Despite France's large Muslim population, there has been little tradition of fusing French gastronomy with halal meat. Restaurant, Les Enfants Terribles, may be one of the first. French burger chain, Quick, started serving halal-only meat at eight of its 350 locations in 2010, and not everyone in the country was so happy about that.

Beurger King Muslim, a suburban Parisian halal fast food joint, tried to make a go of it in 2005 but I don't see any evidence that it is still in business.

Photo via Next Generation Food

Localized: Dunkin’ Donuts Taiwan

Welcome to Localized, the first in a new series about localized menu offerings. You know, regional tweaks to American chain staples.

I'm starting with Dunkin' Donuts for no particular reason. It is an oddball in that it's such a popular franchise in NYC, but has completely disappeared from the Northwest where I grew up. And yet these American doughnuts have spread all over the world; 30 countries, to be precise. Taiwan has 26 branches.

Two differences in Taiwan are that supposedly the doughnuts aren't as sweet, and you get to pick them out yourself with a tray and tongs much like at Chinese bakeries here. So far, I see no evidence of the pork doughnuts promised for China last month.

Five things Dunkin' Donuts in Taiwan has that we don't:


Heart-shaped doughnuts year-round

未命名 -1

Whoopee  pies in chocolate and green tea (pictured)


Squarish doughnuts with a hole and two different fillings piped in


Bbq pork Danish sandwich


Flavored ice teas like kiwi

Double Chocolate

Ring-style doughnuts that I've only seen in Asia at places like Mister Donut

First-hand accounts:

Brand Eating

Chain Links: African Fried Chicken, Roll Cleveland and Arabian Top Chef


Ghanians now have KFC. And while the presence of an American fried chicken chain may signify prosperity in developing countries, in the US the brand isn't faring so well. Ghana already has local Chicken Inn, Papaye, and the UK's Southern Fried Chicken.

Starbucks still hasn't penetrated Italy, and much of Europe is giving the coffee chain problems, too. The British dislike being called by name when their order is up and prefer lattes, though not Starbucks' watery version. The French like to sit while drinking coffee, abhor to-go cups, and along with the US is getting a "blonde" roast because think the espresso tastes too charred. Not in the article: there's a hot, vegetable-heavy wrap on the French menu inexplicably called Roll Cleveland.

Top chef middle east

Saudi Arabia is teeming with fast food and American franchises, but fine dining isn't at a high level. In reponse, Yasser Jad, founder of the Saudi Arabian Chefs Assocation, is trying to change that with a new cooking school. Also, he was a judge on a Lebanese-produced version of Top Chef. Who knew?

KFC cashiers photo via Twi Teacher, Top Chef Middle East photo via Facebook