Friday, December 22, 2023


Is this a fucking butter board?  (Spotted at Valley View Farms.)

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Thursday, December 14, 2023

A Thai-ish Supper

I always have at least one jar of Maesri Thai chilli paste with sweet basil in the pantry. If you enjoy drunken noodles, you'll like this condiment.

Ordinarily, I plan our weekend dinners a few days in advance, but other times I just wing it. We normally have enough raw ingredients in the house to produce something interesting without having to make a run to the store. On this particular weekend, I decided to use some of the Trader Joe's cod we had in the freezer. Cod's not my favorite--I'm not into its weird, almost-buttery, flavor-- but it's relatively inexpensive and cooks quickly. I thought I could do something like my old standby Sriracha Bouillabaisse, which is relatively easy. (I was feeling lazy.) Then I noticed a jar of Thai chilli paste with sweet basil in the cupboard, next to a can of coconut milk, and dinner suddenly veered off in a slightly different direction.

Both recipes start with sautéing aromatics, then adding tomatoes, stock, and something spicy. In this case, the spicy element is provided one of my favorite condiments. I discovered chilli paste with sweet basil leaves at H Mart many years ago. There are a couple of variations and brands available, with holy basil, or labeled as "pad kapao" sauce. All of them contain some variety of Thai basil, chile peppers, soy bean oil, garlic, and salt. The flavors are spicy and aromatic, bright and fragrant, great with everything (I think). If you appreciate the licorice-like flavors of Thai basil and are into hot stuff, I think you'll like it.

I mostly had peppers on hand--an orange bell pepper and a bag of shishitos that I haven't gotten around to using. I chopped up a handful of those; while not really spicy, shishitos still have the flavor profile of a hot green pepper, which I vastly prefer over a green bell pepper. Green beans would work nicely in this dish, too, so if you have some, toss them in. Hell, any veg would be good, and shrimp or tofu would work just as well as the fish.

I simmer the veg and wet ingredients until they look more like a sauce than a soup, adding lots of fish sauce, lime juice, and a pinch or two of sweetener (sugar, agave nectar, honey) to get a balanced flavor. Restaurant Thai food, at least in this area, tends to be sweet. It's nice to be able to cut back on the sweetness when preparing food with Thai flavors at home, but I still think many dishes need at least a touch of sweetness to balance the more intense flavors of chiles and fish sauce.

The protein is added at the last minute and heated only until cooked through. Overcooked fish is a bad thing, so don't do it. I don't think you can overcook tofu, but probably best not to let that go too long, either. I served the dish with plain jasmine rice, your favorite grain would probably be fine. If you reduce the sauce even more before seasoning, you could probably eat this over pasta, should you be so inclined.

Thai Basil Coconut Fish

2 tablespoons neutral oil
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
1 orange bell pepper, sliced thinly
1-3 green chiles of your choice (jalapenos or whatever you have on hand), sliced thinly
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro stems
2 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt
1 Knorr fish bouillon cube plus 1 cup water, or 1 8-oz bottle of clam juice
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
1 15-oz can coconut milk
2 heaping tablespoons Maesri chilli paste with sweet basil leaves (or to taste)
Fish sauce
Lime juice
Sugar to taste
1 pound boneless, skinless cod filets, or similar white-fleshed fish
Rice for serving
Cilantro and sliced green onion for garnish

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a dutch oven or large pan with lid. Add the onion, peppers, cilantro stems, and a big pinch of salt.. Stir occasionally, cooking until veg have softened a bit and starting to brown, 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute or so. Add the bouillon or clam juice, tomatoes, and coconut milk and stir to combine. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook for 8-10 minutes to evaporate some of the liquid and concentrate the flavors.

Turn the heat down to medium. Add the chilli paste and taste for seasoning. If you are serving this with rice, you'll need the sauce to be somewhat aggressively seasoned. Add fish sauce for salt--I used a couple of tablespoons. You can add some kosher salt, too. Add a few squeezes of lime juice and a bit of sugar. Once you have the sauce flavored to your liking (it should have a nice spicy/tangy/sweet balance, but do what works for your palate), slip in the pieces of fish. Cover the pan and cook until the fish is cooked through and easily flakes apart, about 5 minutes.

Serve in bowls, with rice on the bottom or on the side. Garnish with cilantro.

Serves 4.

* Any products in this post that are mentioned by name may have been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats. Amazon links earn me $! Please buy!

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Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Roasted My Ass

It's been a while since I've been truly disappointed by a restaurant meal. I've had some fairly meh experiences, but most have been good or even very good. And then we had dinner at Nepenthe Brewing Co

Now before you scold me for expecting anything fancy or chef-fy, I knew from the start that Nepenthe is a local brewery and their tasting room serves grub like burgers, fried chicken sandwiches, and macaroni and cheese. We hadn't been yet, and since we happened to be in the neighborhood, we decided to check it out. Our first matter of business was to order drinks from their IPA-heavy list of interestingly named house brews. I had the Boreal Crypt, a cloudy yellow IPA with the "cold indifference of winter’s cruel grasp." Mr Minx had the clearer and darker Prototype 36--a collab with the Wine Source--listed as a "West Coast IPA" and made with 6 kinds of hops. I'm not a beer connoisseur by any means, but I think both of these brews could be enjoyed even by those who say they don't like IPAs (like hubby, who drank two). Neither of our choices were particularly fruity, nor were they bitter. They were beers. 

Then we went onto to the food.

I hadn't had battered mushrooms since the 80s, when we frequented the fried veggie joint at Harborplace. Squirting fungus napalm singed our palates every time, but we never learned. At Nepenthe, we nibbled our initial 'shroom with trepidation and were thankful not to get burned. The mushrooms themselves were pretty good, but the "bulgogi sauce" made them soggy and super salty, and I saw no use whatsoever for the sprinkle of nutritional yeast on top (a dip of gochujang mayo on the side would have been so much better). For the $12 pricetag on these ten or so small-to-medium button mushrooms, edible gold would have been more apt.

Mr Minx chose for his entree one of the day's specials, a grilled cheese sandwich with pulled pork and pickles. He rather enjoyed it. I declined to try a bite because I was already suffering from dairy overload thanks to our recent Thanksgiving cheese-fest, but I did partake of his fries and their super garlicky aioli dip.

I'm sure you're wondering where the great disappointment comes in. I'm getting to it. It was my entree.

When I perused the menu earlier in the day, I was attracted to the "roasted butternut, acorn, & kabocha squash, toasted couscous, gala apples, & toasted pumpkin seeds on fresh spinach with a creamy poppy seed vinaigrette." Not only was the Oxford comma correctly employed multiple times in that description (be still my heart), but also I love roasted squash. Mr Minx does not, so it's rare when I prepare it at home. I was pretty hungry, so chose to add on a grilled chicken breast (bacon was another option). I couldn't wait to dig into to what I thought would be a masterpiece of seasonal simplicity. What arrived at the table was quite large and indeed attractive. After forcing the dish to pose for the requisite photos, I tried a bite of apple. It was mushy and flavorless, at first reminding me of d'anjou pear (not my fave). Then I took a bite of squash. It didn't look roasted, and it wasn't. Perhaps the squash had been introduced to the oven, decided it was a place it really didn't want to linger, and skipped on over to the microwave for a few short minutes from which it emerged relatively unscathed: crunchy, with none of the expected sweet caramelization. The spinach was fine, as were the couscous and the pepitas. But where was the promised creamy poppy seed vinaigrette? As I look closely at the photo, I can see dark specks on the salad which might be poppy seeds, and some of the greens appear to be moist, but as far as my tastebuds were concerned, there was nary a hint of vinaigrette flavor. Indeed, no seasoning whatsoever. The chicken, on the other hand, was quite salty. Additionally it was overcooked and dry. 

I ate the chicken--dipped into Mr Minx's aioli--and some of the salad, but took most of it home. We consumed it the next morning under a couple of over-medium fried eggs, the yolks of which acted as a dressing of sorts (I also topped mine with a couple spoonsful of chili crisp), but it didn't make the squash or apples any less sad.

Thank goodness for beer.

Nepenthe Brewing Co.
3626 Falls Rd
Baltimore, MD 21211

* Any products in this post that are mentioned by name may have been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats. Amazon links earn me $! Please buy!

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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Throwback Thursday - Fleming's New Bar Menu

This post originally appeared on September 3, 2018.

Sadly, the Fleming's in Harbor East closed up during the pandemic and is being replaced by yet another overpriced and underwhelming Atlas Group restaurant. 

Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar was one of the first restaurants to appear in the Harbor East development at the end of the last century. A great deal has changed in the now bustling location, but the bar menu for the elegant steakhouse had largely stayed the same over the last 20 years. Feeling that it was time for a bit of a facelift, Fleming's has introduced a host of new items to their bar menu for the patrons who wish to have a drink and a bite rather than a full dinner. We were invited to sample some of these new items.

We started off with some breaded and deep fried Casteveltrano olives. Unlike a lot of olives which can be mushy and salty, Casteveltrano olives are firm, mild, and bright green in color. When served with a deep fried crust and a spicy dipping sauce, they can be quite addictive. We also had candied bacon which was sweet, salty, crispy, and smoky all at once. The Minx said she could make a meal out of these two snacks and a cocktail.

Fleming's understands that some customers may go meatless, so they have added some vegetarian dishes to their menu, like this vegetable tempura that included asparagus, portobello mushroom, and red pepper fried in a light batter.

And for those who would like a little protein with their tempura, Fleming's also offers the Colossal Shrimp Tempura with U10 shrimp served alongside some of the vegetable items. An agrodolce dipping sauce is included on the side.

Also available for the vegetarian minded is the Mushroom-Farro burger. Vegetarian burgers by nature tend to be softer in texture than beef burgers, but the combination of mushroom, chick pea, and farro in this patty provides a burger that is firm enough to stand up to its toppings. Those toppings include goat cheese, arugula, campari tomato, and a French-fried onion ring. Although I knew we had more food to try, I couldn't help myself and finished the whole burger. By the way, all burgers are served with a side of French fries and some of those fried Casteveltrano olives.

We also tried their California burger which starts with a prime beef patty that's nicely grilled on the outside and perfectly pink on the inside. On top of that is tomato, arugula, bacon, avocado, cheddar cheese, and a smoked jalapano aioli. The toppings provide a great mix of flavors and textures, but the taste of the burger is not lost.

Since my grandfather was English, I've always been a fan of lamb, so I was looking forward to trying their grilled lamb lollipops. They did not disappoint with their grilled outer crust and moist, tender meat within. They were served on a bed of tomato, arugula, Casteveltrano olives, and herbed goat cheese.

Since this is a steakhouse after all, we had to try the filet mignon on potato waffles. I was concerned that the potato waffles might be too soft, but they actually had a crisp exterior like regular waffles and savory, fluffy potato inside. The filet mignon was perfectly medium rare and quite tender. The drizzle of demi glace over the top added just the right finishing touch.

While not technically part of the new bar menu, we were invited to try some of Fleming's dessert items. Chef Ty's key lime tart was definitely a winner, but our favorite was the molten chocolate lava cake served with ice cream and a delicate, crispy tuile. When we cut into the fluffy cake, a river of melted genache oozed out. The combination of the warm cake and cold ice cream was delightful.

We've gone to Fleming's in the past for special occasions like birthdays, but after sampling their new bar menu, I can see ourselves stopping by just to sit at the bar and enjoy some of these well-crafted  dishes along with one (or three) of their signature cocktails.

Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar
720 Aliceanna St.
Baltimore, MD 21202

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Thursday, November 23, 2023

Throwback Thursday: Butternut Squash Toast

This post originally appeared on January 30, 2015

If you want a dynamite appetizer for Thanksgiving (today!) try this butternut squash toast. It's very fall-ish, both sweet and savory, and just all around delish.

If you don't want to make it for dinner tonight (I realize it's very last-minute) it's great anytime in the colder months, or whenever you can find whole winter squash.

New Year's Eve 2014 was very much a repeat of New Year's Eve 2013: we went to Cunningham's for dinner, came home to watch Kathy Griffin taunt Anderson Cooper until midnight, then toasted the new year with champagne and Christmas cookies. We love that Cunningham's opened in our area; it's ideal for both casual and fancy meals, and because it's so close, we don't have to worry too much about encountering drunken revelers on our way home.

The restaurant offered a prix fixe dinner last year, but we opted to order from the regular a la carte menu. It was less-expensive that way, and allowed us to skip dessert. Plus, there were more selections. I had been intrigued by the idea of butternut squash toasts, a dish that was praised by Richard Gorelick in his 2013 review of Cunningham's. He describes the toast as comprising ricotta, maple syrup, and cider vinegar, in addition to the squash. We ordered the toasts as one of our appetizers and really enjoyed it, even Mr Minx, who is not the biggest fan of squash.

Those flavors stuck with me, and a few weeks into the new year, I decided to try to replicate it. But before I reinvented the wheel, I looked on teh Innernets to see if anything like it was out there. Lo and behold, there was--a recipe by Jean-Georges Vongerichten, which had been restyled and reblogged a couple of times. It involved squash, ricotta, maple syrup, cider vinegar, and thick slices of toast, so I'm pretty sure it's the inspiration for Cunningham's dish. And it seemed easy enough to make at home.

What's not easy is peeling butternut squash. Jean-Georges' recipe called for roasting and mashing, but I liked the diced squash at Cunningham's. Thought it would be more attractive as well. J-G also called for what seemed to be an inordinate amount of cider vinegar and maple syrup--1/4 cup each--and 2 teaspoons of salt. Yowza. No need for either excess; the dish is even better when it's not cloyingly sweet. Besides, all of that additional liquid would make the dish too soupy. Yes, I do have the audacity to question Jean-Georges. Cooking is all about what pleases the eater, not the chef. And this dish is so good, I'd do it all over again.

Butternut Squash Toasts (adapted from a recipe by Jean-Georges Vongerichten)

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into small dice
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Large pinch aleppo pepper
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Country bread, cut into 1-inch thick slices
Ricotta cheese
Coarse salt
Minced chives and chile threads for garnish

Preheat oven to 450. Combine squash, 1/4 cup olive oil, aleppo pepper, and 1 teaspoon of salt in a bowl and toss well. Transfer the mixture to a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast, stirring twice, until tender and lightly caramelized, 30 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pan. Add the onions and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the onions are well softened and darkening, about 20 minutes Add the vinegar and maple syrup and cook an additional 10-15 minutes.

Combine squash and onions in a bowl. Taste for seasoning. Add a touch more maple syrup if you want it to be sweeter, but we enjoyed it on the more savory side.

Lightly toast bread. Spread some ricotta on toasts, then top with the squash-onion mixture. Sprinkle with chopped chives and chile threads.

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Thursday, November 16, 2023

Throwback Thursday - Apple Tart (Originally Raw Spice Bar)

This post originally appeared on November 19, 2018.

Sadly, this company no longer offers this very versatile sweet spice blend, and when I inquired as to why, I didn't get a very polite answer from them. However, you can still make a delicious tart with regular apple pie spices. And if you want to get closer to the original Raw Spice Bar blend, add tiny pinches of ground cardamom, star anise, rosemary, and black pepper, too.

Fall is apple season, and all I want to do is bake them up in some delicious way. Like good old baked apples, for example, peeled and cored apples stuffed with butter, spices, and brown sugar and baked until tender. I like to serve them warm with a dollop of whipped cream, or--even better--a scoop of salted caramel ice cream. And whipped cream. Apple pies, too. Mr Minx made a fab apple galette a couple of weeks ago, mounding sliced apples seasoned with a little lemon juice into a pie crust brushed with apricot jam and baking it until golden brown.

I normally only season apples with cinnamon, but when Raw Spice Bar sent me a selection of their freshly ground spice mixtures to try, I found myself using a far more exotic blend on my fall apple creations. Their Apple Pie Spices contain not only cinnamon, but also nutmeg, allspice, ginger, green cardamom, star anise, grains of paradise, and rosemary. Yeah, those last four are pretty out of the ordinary for apple pie, especially the grains of paradise. It's an African pepper that while not as spicy as the usual black peppercorns, still has a kick. Somehow, though, the disparate spices all work pretty harmoniously with apples. I'm thinking this blend would work well with other fall-ish creations, too, like pumpkin pie or bread and in oatmeal cookies.

Rather than a typical two-crust apple pie, I decided to try my sample of Raw Spice Bar spices in an open-faced apple tart. I used a removable-bottom tart pan that doesn't get nearly enough love, and a grand total of five ingredients. (If you want to make your own pie crust, that will add a few ingredients to the list, but not many.) the result was pretty darn good, if I do say so. And pretty, in a rustic sort of way (I am not a perfectionist).

Raw Spice Bar has several interesting spice blends, along with individual spices. I think I want to try the Ethiopian Berbere, Persian Advieh, and their salt-free chili powder when I place an order, also the Bourbon-smoked New Mexico smoked paprika, and the Hatch and Urfa Biber chiles. Their spices are sold in small portions so they're always fresh, and their subscription service means you will get a new fresh batch on a regular basis. Check them out.

In the meantime, here's the apple tart recipe. Enjoy!

Apple Tart

1 refrigerated pie crust
4 large apples, like Cortland
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons Raw Spice Bar Apple Pie Spices
2 tablespoons apricot jam

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Unroll pie crust into a 9" tart pan with removable bottom. Carefully press crust into all of the pan's nooks and crannies and trim the excess dough at the top. Refrigerate the crust for 15 to firm up.

Peel and core the apples. Cut each into quarters and cut the quarters into 6-8 slices. Toss the apple with the sugar and spices.

Remove the crust from the fridge. Starting from the outside and working in, arrange the apple slices--curved side up--in concentric circles. Don't worry if it's not neat or perfect. Once you have filled in the entire tart, take some of the remaining slices (you will have plenty) and insert them in between the pieces already in the pan. If there are leftovers, eat them.

Bake the tart for 15 minutes at 400°F, then turn the temperature down to 350°F and bake an additional 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place on a cooling rack.

Melt the jam in the microwave for a few seconds, then use a pastry brush to top the tart with a thin layer.

Allow to cool completely before slicing. Remove the sides of the pan to make slicing easier. If you want, you can also slide the tart off the pan bottom, but I always leave it on. It makes life easier.

Serves 8.

* Any products in this post that are mentioned by name may have been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats. Amazon links earn me $! Please buy!

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Thursday, November 09, 2023

Throwback Thursday - The Orient Perry Hall

This post originally appeared on August 9, 2019.

Though we now have two excellent Chinese restaurants in our area, on occasion we do go to The Orient. The enormous portions and good prices are part of the allure, but also the food is very good.

I have often lamented the lack of good Chinese food in the Baltimore area. Oh sure, there are several carry-outs and smaller restaurants serving up Americanized food, but how many of them are actually good? As far as I'm concerned, Grace Garden in Odenton and Hunan Taste in Catonsville (which has been "temporarily" closed since at least November of 2018) are the only two that are consistently good. Szechuan House in Timonium is extremely spotty, but they have a huge menu and it is possible to find one or two decent dishes. Asian Taste in Ellicott City is good for dim sum, but we were disappointed by a recent dinner. Some folks swear by Chopstix Gourmet; we went for dim sum once and were not impressed. There's a new place in the city called Panda BBQ. I have heard positive comments, but their online menu indicates a very limited menu of mostly skewered meats and vegetables. We have gone to Galaxy Asian Cuisine for dim sum once and enjoyed it. We'll need to visit again to check out their dinner offerings.

And then there's The Orient. My family used to frequent the original Towson outpost back in the 80s and 90s. That location closed a few years ago, but there are others in Bel Air and Perry Hall. A new Towson restaurant opened a couple of years ago; we haven't been yet. The Perry Hall restaurant is right up the road from my Dad, so we have gone there a few times and haven't been disappointed.

The food is primarily American Chinese-style, but everything we've tried has been consistent and well-prepared.

We've had the crispy duck twice and have enjoyed the tender meat and salt-and-pepper seasoned skin.

The mai fun noodles can be had Singapore-style (with curry) or a simple soy sauce seasoning with meat and shrimp. They don't have as much wok hei as the same dish at Asian Court, but they are still quite good.

The Szechuan string beans, a family favorite, are still nicely crisp and green at The Orient.

We've also tried the House Crispy Pepper Squid and the whole shell-on shrimp with the same preparation (above), and have found them to be quite delectable. Shredded Crispy Beef and General Chou's have been admirable, with tender meat and a still-crisp coating, despite the sticky sauce on each.

Portions are huge, and prices are very reasonable. We've gone on Saturday afternoons and found the place abandoned, which is a shame. However, that means we get all the attention and the food arrives promptly. Though it's not Grace Garden, I am looking forward to our next trip to The Orient, mostly for the soy sauce noodles and the House Crispy Pepper seafood dishes.

Have you been?

The Orient
9545 Belair Rd
Baltimore, MD 21236

* Any products in this post that are mentioned by name may have been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats. Amazon links earn me $! Please buy!

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Monday, October 23, 2023

Wine and Seafood - Sponsored Post

I am a Marylander born and bred, and there's nothing that I enjoy more in the summer than a crab feast. Here, that's a pile of blue crabs--Callinectes sapidus--steamed with beer and a ton of spicy paprika-based seasoning, be it Old Bay or some other brand. There are other places that appreciate a summertime crab feast, too, though in those parts of the country they're referred to as "crab boils" and often involve potatoes and corn as well as crab. Sometimes they also include shrimp, or crawfish, or even a different kind of crab. Two Fish Crab Shack, in Chicago, uses snow or king crab in their popular seafood boils, which can be ordered with or without shrimp, and can be had with jerk or lemon pepper flavorings as well as a more traditional Cajun seasoning. Their product can also be found in the frozen seafood section of your local Harris Teeter, which is where I bought mine. I may prefer blue crabs to other varieties, but I am always willing to try something new.

Each pouch contains everything one needs for a proper seafood boil: potatoes, corn, shellfish, and a pack of Cajun-style sauce. Pop the veg into boiling water, add the shellfish, wait a few minutes until everything is cooked through, drain, and toss with sauce. Pretty easy. 

According to the nutritional label, there are four 530-calorie servings per package of Two Fish Seafood Boil, each comprising 3-ish shrimp, 1/4 of the crab, one piece each of the corn and potato, and 1/4 cup of sauce. That might be enough food for two not particularly hungry people who have an appetizer first and dessert afterward, but it's certainly not dinner for four! Most of the calories are in the oil-based sauce, but unless one eats it with a spoon like soup, the vast majority will end up discarded with the shrimp shells and crab detritus. Not to mention that calories will be burned fighting over the crab's fifth leg. Personally, I think most of the oil should be discarded, with half the seasoning used for the seafood and the other half reserved for later in the week, stirred into fresh pasta with either more seafood or some rotisserie chicken! So set aside some sauce, and share your boil with one friend. Buy another bag if you're inviting friends over for dinner.

You're probably thinking to yourself at this point, "where does the wine part of this post's title come in?" I'm glad you asked....

There's a great reason why Marylanders pop open a can of Natty Boh or Corona or other easy-drinking lager-type beer with their steamed crabs: it just works. A cold beer's refreshing effervescence and somewhat bitter flavor puts out the heat of the inevitable encrusting of crab spice and rock salt without dimming the subtle flavor of the crustacean itself. Now, dear reader, think about your favorite wine to go with crabs...or clams, shrimp, or oysters. Brand and varietal, please. Unless you are a connoisseur or sommelier, it's a difficult task, isn't it?  Many affordable white wines that may seem suitable for quaffing with a casual seafood supper are often just plain crap. This is why Ripe Life Wines exists: founder Mary McAuley saw the need for wines that would pair perfectly with the clambakes that were part of her summertime Jersey Shore experience. So she created her own.

Clambake Chardonnay is light and refreshing, with lemony and green apple notes. Clambake Rose is also light and dry, with notes of white nectarine, strawberry, and grapefruit peel. Moules Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine is lemony and apple-y, like the chardonnay. In a nod to traditional champagnes, it also has bread-like notes, in this case brioche. All three are absolutely made for drinking with seafood boils, with notes that complement both the subtle flavors of the seafood itself and the heartier seasonings that accompany them. I particularly enjoyed the Clambake rose with our savory shrimp and crab dinner. The Blanc de Blanc is a natural with spicy foods, but also with simply steamed clams and especially raw oysters. 

Ripe Life Wines are not currently available in Maryland, but they can be sampled at tasting rooms in nearby New Jersey. Two Fish Seafood Boils are available at Maryland area Harris Teeter stores.

* Any products in this post that are mentioned by name may have been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats. Amazon links earn me $! Please buy!

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Tuesday, October 03, 2023

Pizza! Pizza!

I wouldn't call Baltimore a pizza town, but the city is currently more deserving of that title than it was in the past. Regular readers might remember me railing on about the "fresh dough" pizza craze in the 70s and 80s, the days of flabby, undercooked crusts, insipid sauce, and rubbery cheese. Papa John's and Pizza Hut continue that sad tradition to this day. 

I enjoyed Pappy's pizza as a child, and my favorite pizza during high school came from a little carry-out on Harford Road called the Hamilton Eatery. Their pizza had a crispy crust, flavorful sauce, and the perfect amount of stretchy cheese--and it was 100% a frozen product from some food service company. One day I watched them transfer a frigid disk from freezer to oven and was shocked that it hadn't been made in house. I remember their pies being delicious; perhaps they were, only in comparison with the other pizzas I so hated. The most loathsome pie came from a place called George's Beef and Beer, on Broadway in Fells Point. It was largely pale and flavorless, with the standard dull toppings scattered on a soggy, doughy, crust. On Saturdays, my Uncle Frank, who lived downstairs in the townhouse we occupied, bought lunch. He was no gourmet and offered only two choices: fried chicken from a stall in Broadway Market, or pizza from George's. I preferred the chicken, but good as it was, it was a chore to eat it even every-other week. On pizza weeks we experimented with toppings, hoping to find something worth eating, but nothing overcame the overall blandness of the pies. (Onion and black olive was probably the best of the bunch, but still not great.)

George's is long gone--thank the pizza gods!--and slowly but surely Baltimore has evolved a far more interesting pizza culture. One with quite a bit of variety, too. There are standard round thin crust pies that claim to be "New York-style," pies with super thin crusts, square pies, pies topped with stuff like figs and brie, and pies with crusts that don't fit into any particular genre. People still eat the crappy chain pizzas, too, which baffles me almost as much as why people prefer P.F. Chang's to actual Chinese food made by Chinese people. 

One pizza that I did enjoy in my youth and still eat today is Squire's. The crust is firm and sturdy, with a nice crunch, the sauce is herby and a tad sweet, and they are more than generous with toppings. Our go-to order is a large "everything" pizza, minus the green pepper. 

can you tell from my expression that I can't wait to take a bite of
 this "everything" (minus green pepper) pie from Squire's?
We get a pie from Squire's at least once a year, as a reward for getting our taxes done on time. (Our accountant is in Dundalk.) If we're lucky, we'll find an opportunity to visit again a few months later. If not, we usually bring home several slices to tuck into the freezer to enjoy on another occasion.

There are several Baltimore area restaurants serving Neapolitan-ish pies. Traditionally, a Neapolitan pie has a thin hand-formed crust and is baked for a brief time (up to 90 seconds) in a screaming hot wood-fired oven. In Italy, these pizzas must be made with very specific ingredients in a very specific way, but that goes out the window here in the states. A Neapolitan pie also tends to have a soggy middle, which doesn't really fly here. So while restaurants might use wood-fired ovens imported from Italy, and make the crust in the prescribed manner baked at the proper temperature, Neapolitan-style pies in the US play more fast and loose with the type of cheese and the crispness of the crust. Personally, I enjoy a thin and flexible crust that has some charring underneath and leopard spotting on the cornicione (the outer edge). 

everything at Hersh's is wonderful, but especially the pizza.
Among my favorite local pies that are made with the Neapolitan sensibility are those from Hersh's in South Baltimore and Paulie Gee's in Hampden. Both establishments are creative with their toppings-- the smoked mozzarella and fried eggplant on Hersh's Fumo e Fuoco, and the dried cherries and gorgonzola on Paulie Gee's Cherry Jones--but somehow everything seems to work perfectly.

there's nothing like a pizza from Ledo.
Then we have the "is it really pizza?" pizza: Ledo. The crust is buttery and flaky, as if a pizza and a croissant had a baby. The sauce is sweet, and there is a ton of cheese, but the combination of all of the above works to produce a delicious whole. I especially like their "cannonball" pizza, which has half a giant meatball perched on every slice. Oh yeah, the pizzas are square, too. Weird, maybe, but so am I.

Detroit pizza is all about the toasted cheese that forms around the border of the pie.
And then there's Detroit-style pizza. A relative of the Sicilian pie, the Detroit pizza has a thick crust with no cornicione. The cheese goes on first and is spread from edge to edge, which produces a caramelized crustiness where the cheese hits the hot metal pan in which the pie is baked. Toppings like pepperoni are next, followed by stripes of sauce. I've only ever had this style of pizza from one place, Underground Pizza Company in Towson, and I don't think I ever need to eat it elsewhere. I don't know if it's a perfect Detroit pizza, but I can't imagine a better crust. It's like the most fabulous artisan bread you can imagine, but with crispy cheese edges. My favorite pie there is topped with fancy roasted mushrooms, but their vodka sauce pies are also :::chef's kiss::::

I know there are lots more pizza restaurants in Baltimore that I haven't included here, so let me mention a few more that we visit: Earth, Wood, & Fire; Ribaldi's, Il Basilico; The Arthouse. We're also fans of the pizzas at Cosima. Even longer is the list of restaurants serving pizza that we need to visit are JBGB's, Verde, Johnny Rad's, Kneads Bakeshop, Gil's, Pizza John's, and Little Donna's. 

What's your favorite?

* Any products in this post that are mentioned by name may have been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats. Amazon links earn me $! Please buy!

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Thursday, September 28, 2023

I Dip, You Dip, We Dip

I have joked in the past that this blog should have been called Minxdips because there's more than a handful of recipes for saucy things that work well on a tortilla chip or cracker. Dips are usually pretty easy to throw together, and they aren't just for dipping chips. Sometimes I'll use one as a sandwich spread, or as a sauce for a roasted cauliflower, kebabs, or roasted chicken. Hummus is one of my favorites to make, even if I don't technically make "hummus" because I don't use chickpeas) and among the most versatile.

The following is a list of links to the dips on Minxeats. If you enjoy any, I'd love to read your comments.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Cooking with Salsa

Ok, I know that's not such a pretty picture, but the dish itself was verrry tasty. And so easy!

I'm back in the office 3x per week after a summer of only having to be in on Mondays. Working from home allows me to make a nice dinner most days, and I've been trying to cook more vegetarian food because we eat too much meat. For whatever reason, meat dishes seem far less complicated to make, so with my now-limited time, we'll be back to eating animal protein a couple times a week. If I'm lucky, I'll have some goodies stockpiled in the freezer, but once in a while I'm gonna make something from scratch, and it will need to be quick.

Introducing Salsa del Rio Chicken. 

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned how much I love Desert Pepper Trading Company salsas. Their Salsa del Rio, a thin green salsa made with green chiles and tomatillos makes a mighty fine white chili with the addition of meat and beans. It also works as a flavorful sauce for chicken thighs. It honestly doesn't need anything to zhuzh it up, but we had half a yellow bell pepper in the fridge, and I had just bought a bunch of fresh poblanos at the farmers' market. A quick sauté of peppers and onion, a jar of salsa, and skin-on chicken thighs tasted ridiculously good for being so easy. 

Salsa del Rio Chicken
I would use bone-in thighs, but boneless would be fine. However, the chicken skin is non-negotiable, as it adds so much flavor to the dish. If you don't want to eat it, take it off after cooking. I suppose, if you're one of those people who are afraid of fat and flavor, that you can use chicken breasts, but I cannot be held accountable if you overcook the things. 

Extra virgin olive oil
4 skin-on chicken thighs
Kosher salt
1 cup diced peppers, your choice between ripe bell peppers and poblanos (we used both)
1 cup diced onion 
1 jar Desert Pepper Salsa del Rio

Put a tablespoon-ish of oil in a large skillet and turn the heat on medium-high. Add the chicken skin-side-down, generously sprinkle it with salt, and cover the pan. Cook for 4-5 minutes and check to see if the skin is browning. You can turn the heat up to high if you hang around and pay attention to the pan. If it starts smoking, turn down the heat. Once the chicken skin is a nice golden brown, remove from the pan and put the veg in. Add another sprinkle of salt and stir the veg to coat with the hot fat. Cover the pan and cook 5-6 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is turning translucent and the peppers are beginning to soften. Add the chicken back to the pan, skin-side-up and dump in about 2/3 of the jar of salsa. Cover the pan and bring the salsa to a boil, then turn down to a perky simmer. Cook about 30 minutes, or until a quick read thermometer registers at least 165F when inserted into the chicken. (Personally, I like my chicken thighs really cooked, so I'll go to 185-190F.) 

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Monday, August 14, 2023

Gluten-Free Double Chocolate Banana Bread

When the freezer rains bananas, I know it's time to make a banana bread. 

We buy bananas just about every week, eat most, but inevitably have one hanging around long enough to turn brown. I hate food waste, so I usually tuck the little fella into the freezer. There's got to be a dozen bananas in there right now, in every available crevice. Sometimes they throw themselves at me when I open the freezer door to grab an ice cube or ponder the evening's dinner possibilities. The other day, three different bananas suicided themselves, so I put them on the counter to thaw. 

When frozen bananas thaw, they become rather liquidy, which makes them perfect for smoothies. But also banana bread. Most recipes call for very ripe bananas which need to be mashed with a fork. Personally, I prefer using near-liquid banana. It doesn't need to be mashed, just stirred in, which produces sweet little pockets of soft fruit in the finished product. If you're a fan of a more homogenized texture, then by all means mash some never-frozen but overripe nanners for this recipe.

Oh yeah, the recipe. I usually put walnuts and chocolate chips in my banana bread, but I've been craving chocolate recently (I probably need more magnesium). I consulted the Google and found a chocolate chocolate banana bread recipe that was essentially Martha Stewart's non-chocolate recipe, with a couple of random tweaks. I happen to think Martha's recipe is the very best, so I consulted her web site and used her recipe, with two changes. Her recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of AP flour, but I wanted to make this gluten-free and add cocoa powder. Cocoa is fairly similar to flour in heft and texture, so I swapped out a half cup of flour for a half cup of cocoa. The rest of the flour was replaced by oat flour. You may use any gluten free flour you wish, but I strongly suggest adding 1/4 teaspoon of xantham gum per cup of gf flour. You may leave it out, but the gum makes a big difference in the texture of the bread. Honestly, I cannot tell that I didn't use regular flour. I'm not your mother, so do as you please, but don't come crying to me afterward. The one other thing I changed was to add more sour cream. A quarter cup is good, but a half cup is better. It makes the texture outrageously moist. (Greek yogurt works here, too.)

If you make this, let me know in the comments. I'm going to go cut myself another slice to go with my coffee.

GF Double Chocolate Banana Bread

1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup oat flour
1/4 t xanthan gum
1 t baking soda
1/4 t kosher salt
1/2 cup butter, or dairy-free butter substitute, melted
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 t vanilla extract
3 super-ripe bananas, mashed if fresh, thawed if frozen
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350º.

Spray the inside of a 9 x 5 loaf pan with Pam or similar release spray. Borrow a tablespoon or so of the cocoa powder and sprinkle it over the Pam, shaking and banging the sides of the pan to make sure every surface is coated with both release spray and cocoa. Knock out any excess cocoa.

Combine the rest of the cocoa, oat flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, and salt and stir well with a fork to distribute ingredients. If you're fussy, you could sift it, but I don't see the need to dirty a sieve or sifter.

In a large bowl, combine the melted butter, sugar, eggs, sour cream, and vanilla. If your bananas were frozen, you can basically pour them into the bowl, otherwise, scrape in the mashed bananas and give it a good stir.

Dump the dry ingredients into the wet and stir well. You don't want any streaks of flour. Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts. 

Scrape batter into baking pan and bake for 1 hour, or until toothpick comes out clean. You might have to try a few spots, in case you stab a melted chocolate chip.

Cool in the pan on a rack for 20 minutes. Run a paring knife around the edge of the pan to loosen bread, then turn over onto the rack. Put another rack on top and flip the bread over, so the top is...on top. Allow to cool completely before slicing. You can, of course, ignore this direction, but I can't guarantee the bread won't fall apart when you slice it.

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Wednesday, August 02, 2023

Best/Most Memorable Meals I've Ever Had

On a recent episode of The Dave Chang Show podcast, Dave and co-host Chris Ying listed their best and/or most memorable meals of all time. As I listened, I realized that I have lots of memorable meals, but they're not necessarily the best. Some meals are memorable because of bad food or service. Creating a list, even a short one, of truly great restaurant meals, is a difficult task for me. Perhaps I am jaded. Though I haven't eaten in the world's greatest restaurants--excepting Le Bernardin--I have dined in as many notable places as a person who doesn't travel much and who isn't wealthy can dine. 

Here's a list of restaurant meals that were highly memorable, even if they weren't the best, in alphabetical order.
pasta tasting menu for August 2004
Babbo - We celebrated Mr Minx's 40th birthday here, back in the early aughts, before we knew that Mario Batali was a rapey douchebag who stole his staff's tips. Mr Minx was somewhat of a pastaholic back then, so we opted for the seven-course pasta tasting menu with wine pairings. This was in the year before we started Minxeats, so there's no official write-up of the meal, but we did save the menu. I do recall that the starter was a bit awkward to eat. Whole cannellini beans on crusty bread might be a traditional antipasto, but it was impossible to take a bite without beans rolling off the bread and onto the table and the floor. Why not smash the beans? Dunno. Seems logical. In any case, the rest of the meal was fantastic, the first course being the best. So simple. So much butter. So good. We also enjoyed the wine pairing with the cheese course, a sweet sparkling wine called Brachetto d'Acqui. Sometimes we buy that to drink on New Year's Eve instead of champagne.  

foie gras with raw tuna 
The Bar Room at the Modern - I was in NYC for a Sniffapalooza event. I had not yet met my current NYC dining companion, Daisy, so I usually dined alone. One afternoon, I blew a wad of cash on a rather extravagant meal at the bar room of MOMA's restaurant, the Modern. The restaurant was an oasis after my morning of mingling with a crowd of chatty individuals amid clouds of perfume. Service was excellent--eager but not obtrusive--and the food was interesting and quite good. The unusual foie gras and raw tuna dish was particularly memorable.

Charleston is an example of a meal that has stayed in my mind for the wrong reasons. I had enjoyed a meal at Cindy Wolf's Savannah at some point in the 90s and looked forward to having a similarly splendid meal at Charleston. Instead, I found an oppressive atmosphere created by the ever-looming waitstaff. A "wilted spinach salad" arrived as a unadorned mound of barely cooked spinach with all its harsh tannins present. Cindy was at the pass and let this dish go by even though it clearly was not a salad and not particularly edible. Finally, the sauces for our entrees had been so over-reduced that it literally glued our lips shut. Even after eating dessert, I had to work to open my mouth to speak. The rest of the meal was unmemorable.

We've never been back, though we have eaten at other of Foreman/Wolf's restaurants. They may be run by one team, but I find the quality of them overall to be inconsistent. Pazo and Bar Vasquez were the best of the bunch; both are now closed. Petit Louis is a distant third. We haven't tried Cindy Lou's Fish House yet, and we miss the original Milton Inn. 

Harry's Seafood Grill on the Wilmington, Delaware waterfront was the site of a fun birthday lunch hosted by my best friend Kate, who had recently moved to Wilmington. While checking out the local restaurant scene, she had befriended a chef couple, one of whom worked at Harry's. Chef Applebaum generously sent out a couple of dishes in addition to the three courses we had ordered for ourselves. There was too much food, and all of it was delicious and of high-quality. I especially enjoyed my first sticky toffee pudding and my first taste of soft shell crab.

Herb & Soul is the site of another memorable-for-the-wrong-reasons meal. We had eaten there in the past and mostly enjoyed our food. It wasn't perfect, but the biscuits and fried chicken were stellar. On this particular occasion, we partook of a multi-course meal arranged by a member of the local Chowhounds board. I'm not sure whose idea it was to serve a selection of New Orleans-inspired foods, but it was pretty clear that the chef wasn't particularly familiar with any of the dishes he cooked that night. The first course of crawfish and octopus with brussels sprouts comprised two fingernail-clipping-sized shreds of crawfish on my plate and a dried-out, chewy octopus so small it was probably a fetus. Another dish was billed as an etouffee (which means "smothered") yet barely had any sauce. The bits of alligator meat in it were so chewy, if I hadn't washed them down with water I'd still be chewing them 9 years later. The fourth course was better: a well-prepared half chicken served with not nearly enough of a very good fig pan jus and a soupcon of cauliflower puree. The best course was dessert, French beignets (made with choux paste rather than a yeasted dough), and I could have eaten several more of those. Thankfully the dinner was dirt cheap. 
barely cooked scallop in brown butter dashi
Le Bernardin -- Mr Minx's next milestone birthday was celebrated with a 6-course lunch at Le Bernardin, a 3-Michelin star restaurant in NY. The service was impeccable, and the food almost perfect. I know, who am I to criticize a dish served at one of the "World's 50 Best Restaurants?" I'll tell you: someone who doesn't think a dark red wine sauce works well with wild rockfish. Mr Minx agreed with me. So there. The scallop in brown butter dashi, however, was mindblowing. So simple, yet so delicious. My one regret about the meal: I didn't take a roll every time the bread guy came around. There were about eight kinds of bread on offer, and I was only able to taste three of them. Le sigh.

NOLA - Back in the days before Minxeats, even before Mr Minx became Mr Minx, we took a trip together to New Orleans with a group of rabid Emeril Lagasse fans whom I had met online. Someone or other from that group was up our butts every time we tried to turn around. One person in particular stuck to us like a tick. After a couple days of eating at only Tick-approved restaurants, my beloved and I snuck off to have lunch at NOLA, one of Lagasse's more casual establishments. We ordered starters of gumbo and turtle soup, and a couple of pizzas to share. My soup was very good, but Neal's seafood gumbo was insane. We stopped short of literally licking the bowl clean, but we were tempted! 

As fate would have it, the man who made that gumbo now owns Cajun Kate's, a restaurant in Wilmington. We make a pilgrimage every year to keep our freezer stocked with gumbo.
my favorite course at Volt, tuna tartare in a delicate rice gelee wrapper. Photo credit: Kevin Eats.
Volt - We discovered Volt during chef/owner Bryan Voltaggio's turn on Top Chef. After our first delicious meal there, I was obsessed with getting seats at Table 21: a 21-course meal served in Volt's kitchen. We made our reservation ten months in advance, and the wait was worth enduring. For a measly $121 per person, we had 21 courses of surprising and delicious food. Sadly, this was back in the foodie stone age (2010) and I didn't have a phone with a good camera. Rather than bothering with my crappy little Canon, I sat back and enjoyed the meal. (Check out the post linked in the caption above for excellent photos of a meal very similar to the one we ate.) 

While the food was incredible, the service was a tad annoying. Servers replaced the silverware with each course, whether we had used a particular utensil or not. Remove clean spoon, replace with another clean spoon. Having disembodied hands appear over my shoulder or beside my forearm (we were seated at a counter in front of the garde manger station and couldn't see the utensil movers behind us) was a little disconcerting. It was like being served by Thing. I'm not a fancy-service kind of gal. Just give me my food and if I need a clean fork, I'll let you know.


I'm sure if I thought about it a little more, I could come up with a few more meals to add here. These were off the top of my head, clearly very memorable. I hope to have many more meals like these in the future. The good ones....

* Any products in this post that are mentioned by name may have been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats. Amazon links earn me $! Please buy!

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Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Dining in NYC: Urban Hawker

Once upon a time, Anthony Bourdain planned to bring a Singapore-style hawker market to New York City's Pier 57, near Chelsea Market and the Meatpacking District. It would have dozens of vendors of authentic Singaporean food, which comprises Chinese, Indian, Malaysian, and Indonesian cuisines. Sadly, Bourdain died in 2018, before he was able to realize his vision. His original partner in the enterprise, KF Seetoh--a Singaporean food critic and television personality who made appearances in Bourdain's various travel programs--finally brought the market to life in 2022, but on a much smaller scale. Rather than a hundred or so vendors on a pier, there are seventeen, and the venue, one of several food courts run by an outfit called Urbanspace, is located near Rockefeller Center. Eleven of Urban Hawker's purveyors came from Singapore; the remaining six are local, and on a recent trip to NY, my friend Daisy and I tried as many as we could.

Six of 17 is pretty good for one evening, huh?

Unlike some other of the city's food courts/markets, Urban Hawker has a good amount of space to dine-in. We chose to park ourselves at the far end of The Sling Bar. Singapore Slings in hand, we started our feast with an order of Hainanese chicken rice from Hainan Jones

Hainanese chicken rice from Hainan Jones
Hainanese chicken rice is the national dish of Singapore, so it was a must-try. When properly made, the chicken is meltingly tender and juicy. It might appear poached, but Hainanese chicken is cooked in the residual heat of boiled liquid, rather than with constant heat. A whole chicken is submerged in seasoned water that has been brought to a boil. Once the water, with chicken, comes back to a boil, a lid is placed on the pot and the heat is turned off. The chicken stays in the water for 45 minutes or so. The meat is chilled, then sliced and served with garlicky chicken fat rice and both a sweet soy sauce and a spicy chili sauce. The dish is simple and complex at the same time. 

Having never eaten Hainanese chicken rice before, I had nothing with which to compare the version from Hainan Jones. But as a stand-alone dish, it was beautiful. The chicken was juicy and flavorful and the rice was schmaltzy. The accompanying cup of broth, to sip or use as a dip, was richly flavored. The tiny cups of sweet soy and chili sauce were both tasty, but I found myself gobbling down the chicken without needing to dip it into other flavors. The accompanying Chinese broccoli was good, but I would have preferred it to be hot. 

Singapore Sling from The Sling Bar
Once the chicken was demolished, we went to work on an order of pineapple fried rice from Mr Fried Rice. I adore fried rice, but haven't had a good version of it since I was a kid. My Dad liked a tiny carry-out on Cold Spring Lane called Chung's, where we bought roast pork fried rice by the quart and ate it out of the container on the way home from the restaurant. I don't remember anything else from Chung's, but the rice was great, lightly sticky, just greasy enough, and full of porky flavor. 

pineapple fried rice from Mr Fried Rice
I was happy to find that the rice from Mr Fried Rice had a similar texture and porky essence. It was studded with whole shrimp and tiny pieces of the most tender squid I have ever eaten, garnished with a generous dusting of pork floss (imagine cotton candy made with dried pork), and a small pile of roasty cashews. There were also small nuggets of pineapple, of course, but not enough of it to make the dish overly sweet. I couldn't stop eating it.

Singapore Chili Crab from Wok & Staple
We also had chili crab, Singapore's second favorite dish. I have always been under the impression that chili crab was pretty spicy. This one was only mildly so. The sauce seemed to be a combination of ketchup and bottled sweet chili sauce (like one might serve with spring rolls). I thought it was overly sweet and too gelatinous in texture. The crab was Dungeness, which I suppose is fine if you're not from Maryland and used to blue crab. I didn't find it to be especially meaty, despite the vast size of the creature. What I did like about this dish was that it came with disposable gloves that made it fairly easy to eat. There were also lobster crackers to break open the legs, but they're only so useful when the crab shells soften in sauce and are not quite the right diameter to fit the cracker. 

I suppose it sounds like I hated this dish. Not so. It was unusual and one of the dishes I've always wanted to try. I think the expectations I set for it were probably a little too high.

murtabak - flatbread with beef filling from Mamak's Corner
Finally, we had murtabak, a ghee-laden flaky flatbread filled with beef, egg, and red onion, and griddled until crisp. It was served with a cup of a liquidy lentil curry to use as a dip. It was so delicious, and the switch to flavors characteristic of Indian food was a welcome change, but I was SO FULL at this point that I probably didn't appreciate it as much as I might have had we ordered it earlier in the meal. Still, we polished it off without complaint.

We had originally planned to finish off the meal with dessert from Lady Wong, a local vendor that specializes in cakes with flavors like mango and calamansi, and the gelatinous "cake" known as kuih. The texture of kuih, actually a firm custard, is hard to describe. It's smooth, cool, and bouncy, and quite delicious if fresh and well-made. My favorite has a layer of coconut sticky rice at the bottom. At this point, however, I couldn't fit another mouthful, so we passed on eating dessert at Urban Hawker. (I did pick up some kuih to snack on the next day.)

While I think we gorged ourselves like the champion eaters we are, there are many other vendors at Urban Hawker that need to be explored. I want some laksa from Daisy's Dream, a Roti John from Ashes Burnnit, stuffed bean curd from Yum Yubu...all of it! 

Urban Hawker
135 W 50th St,
New York, NY 10020

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