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Pack(age) Rat: Abady Complete Beef-Based Fat Cat Formula Canned Cat Food

fat cat food

Grocery stores in foreign countries, the pet food aisles in particular, are always good source of indoor fun. You don’t always have to look abroad for your kicks, though.

I was recently gifted with a can of Abady Complete Beef-Based Fat Cat Formula Canned Cat Food from The Robert Abady Dog Food Co. Ltd, “The Developers and Manufacturers of Species-Appropriate Rations for Dogs and Cats” by someone who’s serious about raw pet food. So beautiful in its ’70s healthful simplicity, so blunt in calling it as it is.

Yes, my cat is fat. And so?

Eaten, Barely Blogged: The Great Outdoors

northern bell duo

Northern Bell. It’s the time of year when setting can trump what you’re actually eating. Sometimes you just want to sit outdoors, preferably in a yard or on a patio (never on a sidewalk, never) with a drink in hand, and the food, if good, is an added bonus. Northern Bell isn’t breaking any new ground with its barbecue and burgers (maybe with the other B’s, bison and boar, in short rib and belly form?) but the backyard is nice as long as a violent downpour doesn’t erupt minutes after you’ve received your drinks. I forgot to ask for cheese, and despite the Pat Lafrieda custom blend, the burger felt a little naked. And who doesn’t want a cobb salad, southern-style with pimento cheese, pecans and deviled eggs?

Battery Harris. The $12 beer-and-a-burger happy hour deal can draw a crowd even when storms render a good portion of the fenced-off patio useless (has it rained every Friday in recent history?). When sunny, it’s not a half-bad place to share a plate of jerk wings or pork buns. Plus, it’s the only establishment in Williamsburg where I can recall ever seeing a crew of artsy adults clearly over 60, which counts for something.

astoria bier & cheese berliner weisse

Astoria Bier & Cheese. First, I was excited to find Berliner Weisse with the colorful red and green syrups, a summer quirk that I missed out on my one cold weather trip to Germany. Sure, the woodruff, despite sounding weedy and foraged, is more sweet than herbal, a softener for the beer’s sourness. It is pretty, though, (and happened to match my nails). Then my excitement continued with the sweet/savory/fatty grilled cheese of my dreams. The Cambozola and bacon, drizzled with honey and squished between toasted slices of fennel, raisin semolina is exactly the sandwich I would make myself if I made sandwiches at home.

bacchanal duo

Bacchanal. Ok, one of these things is not like the other. I may have tightened my purse-strings and burnt out on Brooklyn (I’m in the process of whim-buying a Jackson Heights co-op, it turns out) but beer and burgers must give way to aperitifs and small plates at some point. The Adonis (Noilly Prat Ambre, amontillado sherry, orange bitters) is like a summery, lightened-up Manhattan. The sparkling Chinon probably paired better with the sweet and sour–Italian-ish, not Chinese–sweetbreads, though.


threeshovelSomehow it completely makes sense that I would cancel my dinner reservations at Pêche hours before it was declared the best new restaurant in the US. It’s just how I like to live. At least I did manage to score a walk-in table at lunch just before my afternoon flight back home.

peche oysters & smoked tuna dip

As good and quintessentially New Orleans as they are, you will not find any charbroiled oysters encrusted in cheese at Pêche, just fresh local specimens on the half shell with classic mignonette. Which isn’t to say that snacks like the smoked tuna dip served with Saltines are aggressively highbrow.

peche grilled shrimp

A plate of Royal Red shrimp showed up instead of the redfish with salsa verde I’d actually ordered, which has to be one of the few times that my fast-speaking mumble combined with Williamsburg-y service has paid off–because I ended up with both. The grilled Alabama gulf shrimp, buttery and naturally sweet, drew comparisons to Etxebarri’s shrimp in the Basque Country, which is kind of crazy, but not.

peche grilled redfish with salsa verde

The shrimp didn’t overshadow the originally intended dish, a grilled redfish covered nearly head-to-fin in a deep green forest  of mint, parsley and garlic. The whole fish on offer differs by the day, and probably makes the most sense for parties of three or more so you can also try some sides (which I forgot to order even though it didn’t really matter).

The thing about New Orleans is that even though seafood is abundant and plenty of restaurants specialize in it, rich, breaded and fried styles rule most menus. Pêche’s reliance on its prominently featured wood-fired grill and focus on simply prepared, regional catches, can feel like a refreshing change. That said, make sure to get your fill of oyster po’ boys, shrimp etoufee, barbecue shrimp, and remoulade-dressed, pecan-crusted and crab-stuffed seafood too.

Pêche * 800 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA

Newborn: The Black Ant

It’s been a roller coaster of a week for edible insects. The Nordic Food Lab cautioned against eating raw ants as if that was something being done on so large a scale it merited a public service announcement, a pest control company announced a series of pop-up “pestaurants,” which means grasshopper burgers in D.C., oh, and Vice reported on Butterfly Skye’s Edible Bug Shop in Australia.

black ant smalls

New Yorkers can get in on the bug craze, too, at the appropriately named The Black Ant that recently opened in the East Village. If anything, the Mexican restaurant which definitely stands out from the latest burst of modern Mexican food in NYC, comes by its unusual ingredients honestly. Chef and partner Mario Hernandez (also of Ofrenda) taps into the country’s pre-Columbian roots in a way that comes across a novel rather than gimmicky. And while the insects are getting all the attention, these proteins of the dystopian future are used sparingly.

black ant insect dishes

Crunchy, tangy chaupulines appear on tlayudas, kicking back on a lava flow of Oaxacan queso de rancho spiked with charred chile de agua salsa while ants show up in a few places, including the guacamole hiding unexpected slivers of orange and flavored with chicatana (flying ants) salt, served with the thick, palm-sized tortillas that also accompany many of the mains. Both are very good (and I would say that even if I hadn’t been a guest of the restaurant).

black ant mains

Other highlights include a yellowtail ceviche and a serrano ponzu, yes, with black ants (and sea beans just to throw things off), and insectless entrees involving suckling pig, squash and green mole, and scallops and oxtail tinga in a pozole-ish stew. You can even have a cocktail named after the Mayan god of maize–the Yum Kaax is a milky blend of corn juice, ant salt and tequila, flavored unusually with hard-to-chew epazote leaves, more commonly used as a natural Beano to season beans.

black ant sweets & drinks

Completely un-related–not to mention un-appetizing–but I came home this evening to ants crawling all over my carpet, something that’s never happened in the 15 months I’ve lived in this apartment. I did not try to eat them.

The Black Ant * 60 Second Ave., New York, NY