Two Cocktails to Celebrate New Years Eve in Style

With one secret ingredient

31st Dec 2010
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For the third year in a row, Nick and I will be spending our New Years Eve with friends eating tacos and drinking cocktails. It's become something of a tradition, fondly known as Cocktails and Carnitas , and I can hardly wait.

It's a given that the food is good. But we also believe in drinking very, very good cocktails. Cocktail. Rather than conjuring up images of sugary vodka-laced conco...

Gorgefest | Los Angeles Edition

A mad dash for LA's best food in one afternoon.

Los Angeles Gorgefest 01

We had four hours to eat in L.A., a period of time which all of us agreed wasn't long enough. While most people would have simply given up and spent the time driving around Hollywood or lounging on the beach, we plowed ahead, sure we could catch a plane and sample some of the best food in the city along way. So our afternoon in L.A. was spent cruising the endless sprawl of concrete and zig zag...

What Should I Eat in Mexico City?

I’ll only have 36 hours in the capital to eat as much as I possibly can

30th Jul 2010

jamidwyer /Flickr

Next Friday my wife and I will hop on the Blue Line, head north to O’Hare, and then take a plane halfway across North America to Mexico City for one of the most intense eating experiences of my life. As you may have noticed over the four years or so that I’ve been writing, I adore Mexican cuisine all out of proportion. It’s my favorite cuisine--from complex and elegant ...

Pasta with Butter, Bottarga, and Breadcrumbs

"The bacon of fish" elevates this simple pasta to transcendence

11th May 2010

bottarga with butter 1

You may remember awhile back my lamenting post about a favorite ingredient I couldn't find in Chicago. The ingredient that Claudia at Cook Eat Fret christened " the bacon of fish ." Something relatively undiscovered and very difficult to find in the U.S. A secret ingredient, you might say. Well, I'm done lamenting. Because I have found bottarga, the cured roe sack that's pressed and dr...

Homemade Gnudi from The Spotted Pig

Make these ethereal little bites at home.

15th Apr 2010

spotted pig homemade gnudi 1

I'm pretty sure the word "gnudi" wasn't on anyone's radar until they were served at The Spotted Pig in New York, which was when they became a food dork household name. In Italian, "gnudi" means what it sounds like in English: naked. It refers to little pasta-like dumplings that are "naked" of their pasta wrapper, raviolis without anything to enclose them. Gnudi are a bit like gnocchi, but...

Idea Lab: Focaccia Pizza

Can great pizza be made at home quickly?

12th Jan 2010

idea lab focaccia pizza

Idea Lab is where we explore topics before we head into the kitchen. We welcome your thoughts, opinions, and ideas, so please leave them in the comments!

Though I once praised the virtues of the broiling pizza on Serious Eats, I'm now over it. I'm tired of broiler antics and pre-heating cast iron pans to make approximations of Neopolitan-style pizza at home (I've already ruined one ba...

Year in Review: The Allure of Alcohol

Our favorite drinks of 2009.


Obviously, this site is mostly devoted to cooking, and always has been. But watchful readers may have noticed over the years the occasional post slipped in about drinking. We've thankfully improved our recipes since the very first drinking post on this site, which involved mixing dark beer from New York's oldest pub, McSorley's, and some cheap vanilla ice cream. The result was the beer shake...

How to Make Paneer

The Indian speciality is easier than you think.

6th Nov 2009

how to make paneer 1

The concept of making cheese has always fascinated me, the idea that you can take milk and add a little acid (or rennet) to magically separate it into curds and whey. Milk seems like such a stable liquid, a wholesome elixir of childhood, but with a little citric acid, lemon juice, yogurt, or rennet it completely de-stabalizes into thin, watery whey and fat chunks of curd.

What you do with t...

The Butter Steak: What''s the Best Way to Cook a Steak?

How to cook your next porterhouse.

9th Apr 2009

butter steak 03

I'm not interested in carbonizing the surface of the meat. To me that ruins the flavor.
- Alain Ducasse

It was a bachelor weekend of sorts. My wife mercifully let me pass on attending a wedding of an old family family friend, so I had the whole weekend alone in the apartment to get work done.  I had some crazy projects planned including a mad braise of a cow tongue, but the first nigh...

Deep-Dish Pizza: Round 2

Nick learns from his mistakes and makes a good deep-dish pie at home.

3rd Apr 2009


I was determined not to fail this time.  My last attempt at deep-dish wasn't an absolute failure, but it was close.  It was too soggy and messy , and had none of the glorious qualities that my favorite Chicago pizzeria, Pequods , displayed.  I theorized about all kinds reasons for the failure, thinking it had something to do with the crust.  Then I just gave up and asked you all...

Best of 2008: Now...where do you live?

6th Feb 2009


It sounds like an easy question to answer, but sometimes even I have a hard time remembering where Blake is half the time (Don't even get me started on what time zone he lives in).  I can only imagine what casual readers might think.  In the past three years we've both lived in a combined total of 9 or so apartments, which doesn't include Blake's month of couch surfing, which might bring...

Time Out for Chili

22nd Jan 2009

Logo Though I once promised an Irish waitress that I'd never compete in a chili cook-off, I've decided to officially break my oath.  I am in the running for the top prize at the 2009 Time Out Chicago's Chili Cook-off at Martyr's ( 3855 N Lincoln Ave ).  It's all happening this Saturday, Janurary 24th from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

This is my first competition, and in typical Paupered Chef fash...

The Smash Technique and Skinny Burger Perfection

How to make the best burger at home.

11th Dec 2008


You know the burger obsession is going off the deep end when semi-serious discussion takes place over the burger making skills of a cartoon .  Please stick with me.  This cartoon happened feature J. Wellington Wimpy, the burger-loving sidekick of Popeye.  Hamburger America author George Motz found this clip and was there to comment on Wimpy's burger making skills: "Notice how even in...

The Markets of Tartu, Estonia

20th Oct 2008


I've moved to Tartu, Estonia with Elin, where she is doing research, and I'm now neck-deep in a deeply confusing language which has no prepositions, word for "he" or "she", no future tense, and three different Os -- o, õ, and ö (ask me to pronounce them in succession: it sounds like I'm trying to lift a piano).  And of course, I'm learning to cook in this new place.  Good food is frighteni...

A Visit to Fulton Street Fish Market: Part 2, Hunts Point and the Market

19th Aug 2008


My last post about the Fulton Street Fish market covered its history, including corruption and mob connections, leading up to the 2005 move from lower Manhattan up to Hunts Point in the Bronx.  This post is about our actual experience in the market: how it functioned, what Hunts Point is like today, and a few good eats in the area.  While in Hunts Point we met a few fish buyers, ate in 2...

A Visit to the Fulton Street Fish Market: Part I, History

12th Aug 2008

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If you walk around Manhattan, it often seems like more than half of the stores are restaurants, most of them busy and stuffed with people.  It doesn't take much thinking before one wonders how all that food gets into the kitchens to feed them all.  And not just the dining-out set: what about grocery stores?  And bodegas.  And butchers.  And fish mongers.  The sheer quantity of food moved...

Guanciale, Or How to Hang a Pig Jowl in Your Living Room

The other Italian bacon.

14th May 2008

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It took me almost a month and calls to half the butchers in New York before I could get my hands on a pair of pig jowls.  Here’s the problem: they want you to order the whole head.  And while I had a wonderful time watching pot-roasted pig heads go ferrying by my table at the Spotted Pig , when it was under the tutelage of British chef Fergus Henderson , the thought of lugging a 40...

They Came, I Ground, We Ate: Which Cuts Make for the Best Burger?

How to make a better burger at home.

21st Feb 2008


Grinding meat may seem like an exercise for those with too much time on their hands, or those overly devoted to doing things from scratch--which I am.  But I'm here to argue that there are more compelling and more logical reasons for doing so: for one, the meat will taste better.  You'll also know where it omes from, unlike with a styrofoam tray from the grocery store, which is likely the su...

Linguine with Clams from the Babbo Kitchen, via Bill Buford

From his memoir Heat

24th Jan 2008


My favorite passages from Bill Buford's Heat are set in the Babbo kitchen, when he describes with fear and awe the wonder that is a busy restaurant kitchen at dinnertime-- tickets flying, steam vaporizing, oil popping. Orders arrive faster than they can be made; you are perpetually behind. The heat, of course, is unbearable-- like a shimmering wall when you enter the kitchen. Sweat...

Gorgefest Saturday

Manhattan. 1 day. 9 Restaurants.

26th Nov 2007

saturday gorgefest 01

I hadn’t been to New York since my exodus in July and I returned with a plan.  I wasn’t going to waste any moment visiting attractions, or seeing a Broadway play.  I lived there for two years, so it felt right to walk back in and get to what I spent most of my time doing: eating.  And with the Paupered Chefs reunited for the first time in half a year, it really wasn't that hard for ou...

A Weekend in Seattle and Olympia: Day 3, Carnitas on the Run

Killer tacos and no-corn-syrup Mexican Coke

17th Nov 2007


With the time change and a long flight ahead of us, we have to leave by 4pm just to arrive home in New York at midnight (Correction: arrive in Newark.  I'm never doing that again).  With a morning left and having had scarce time to explore Olympia itself, we asked Scott exactly what to do with the remaining hours.  “Well, there’s this Mexican taco truck,” he said casually.  And it wa...

Table for Two: Fergus Henderson at The Spotted Pig

11th Oct 2007


The chef Fergus Henderson, owner of the London restaurant St. John , known for his kooky demeanor and round, large eyeglasses, came to New York this week to commandeer the kitchens of two Manhattan restaurants, Savoy and The Spotted Pig , offering patrons a taste of his nose-to-tail cooking .  Reservations at Savoy went off the offering in two shakes of a pig's tail; the r...

In a Parking Lot in Red Hook, Brooklyn

12th Jul 2007


At the Red Hook Community Farm, a farm literally on top of a parking lot. Read here , and see here .

I Joined the Park Slope Food Coop and Found Garlic Scapes

21st Jun 2007


Since moving to Boerum Hill , groceries have been tough.  We used to live steps away from a B61 bus stop, which takes you directly to Fairway , where almost any food or ingredient can be bought, and at reasonable prices (though their produce isn't always the best).  But now going to Fairway truly is a hassle, and I don't think we've since been.  Shopping in Manhattan is fine in small...

On New York Apartments, Grilling, and the Aussie Burger

31st May 2007


By some miracle, my girlfriend and I have recently moved into a beautiful, spacious, freshly painted apartment with a backyard, a washer/dryer, and a dishwasher: three luxuries that most New Yorkers offer up onto the pyre of compromise very early on.  It’s simply assumed: you won’t have those things.  You live in the city because the people that live here are interesting, and there are o...

Kimchi and Me: Steak and Eggs over Kimchi Rice

24th May 2007

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Lest you all forget my infatuation with the pickled cabbage , it is powerful.  When I worked in Manhattan, the attraction to the stuff had me trudging over to the Korean buffet at least once a week.  But I no longer work in Manhattan, and while I'm very happy with my new job, I do miss my kimchi.

I’m not sure why it never occurred to me until now to secure my own stash.  Like a lot o...

Consider the Blue Crab

21st May 2007


Everybody’s always talking about lobster--in a roll mixed with mayonnaise, sliced in two and charred on a grill, served with dipping butter next to a tender piece of filet mignon.  The fact is, this animal gets far too much attention.  No doubt about it, lobster is quite something--but how often can you afford to eat it?  For the same reason we rarely eat filet mignon--and then only when it/a>...

How Low Can You Go?

20th Apr 2007

slow slow chicken 2

I tend to get caught up on certain cook book authors, and for the past month it has been all about Heston Blumenthal. Head chef at the Fat Duck in the U.K., his cookbook In Search of Perfection has been fostering idea after crazy idea.  In a Serious Eats article, we wrote about cooking a pizza on the bottom of a cast iron skillet , to great success.  The best part is that his mad-...

A Paupered Week in Flatiron Day 5: Real Pizza

6th Feb 2007

_ Check out Day 1 to figure out why Nick is spending so much time on lunch spots in Manhattan . _


Of all the foods I could nosh on in NYC for a quick, cheap lunch, nothing was as obvious as pizza.  The capital of that tasty dish, New York should have had interesting pizza places pouring out of its alleyways, with enough springy crusts, milky cheeses, and bright sauces to keep me filled...

A Paupered Week in Flatiron Day 4: New Lands

2nd Feb 2007

_ Check out Day 1 to figure out why Nick is spending so much time on lunch spots in Manhattan . _


After a few months, even the finds of Flatiron become slightly boring for no other reason than repitition.  I began looking farther afield for something tasty.  With the subway less than a block away, I dreampt of being able to zoom up to any restaurant I pleased.  The whole of Manhattan...

A Paupered Week in Flatiron Day 3: Embarrassingly Poor

31st Jan 2007

_ Check out Day 1 to figure out why Nick is spending so much time on lunch spots in Manhattan . _


While the $5 limit I usually impose on lunch might seem low by some standards, there are times when even that is a little too high. Whether it's close to payday or after a long expensive weekend, sometimes you need to go lower.  That's when you have to dive deep into the belly of the city t...

A Paupered Week in Flatiron Day 2: In Search of India

30th Jan 2007

_ Check out Day 1 to figure out why Nick is spending so much time on lunch spots in Manhattan . _


Good, cheap Indian food should be a relatively easy find.  Some 10 minute walk away is Murray Hill, a neighborhood that is also affectionately known as Curry Hill.  During lunch, a stretch along Lexington Avenue becomes packed with yellow taxis attempting to find a parking spot.  The idli...

A Paupered Week in Flatiron Day 1: The Great Burrito

29th Jan 2007


It didn't start off as a quest.  I had a job in the Flatiron section of Manhattan and I needed to eat cheaply.  I'm not much of a brown bagger, and soups don't always interest me, so I began to search for the best places to find a meal for around $5.  It became an obsession.  See, Flatiron and the eastern part of Chelsea have some of the finest restaurants in the world, but they are far fr...

Lucali''s: The Mysterious Pizzeria in Carroll Gardens

12th Nov 2006

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Mark Iacono, chef and owner of Lucali's, began making pizza publicly 4 weeks ago.  "I didn't even tell my family that I was opening this place," he claims.  When he pulled the brown paper down off the windows on Day 1, he was hoping a few neighbors might be curious, and he'd have a few weeks of experimenting and tinkering with the pizza formula before he officially opened.

Literally 30 minu...

Atlantic Antic: Sardines, Whole Pigs, and Too Many People

19th Sep 2006

Atlantic_antic_12_1 This wasn't one of those Manhattan street fairs that blocked traffic on random weekends and offered the same tired stand of roasted corn, corn dogs, and grease laden elephant ears, block after block.  Brooklyn's Atlantic Antic (rated number one street festival by Time Out!) was as hodge podge as Atlantic Avenue always is, except now the music spilled onto the streets and so could the beer (...

Patois: Best Brunch in Brooklyn?

24th Aug 2006

By Blake Royer Library_5693 It's difficult, sometimes, to make Brunch plans.  They usually happen in a haze at 1:30 in the morning, when everyone's hungry, a bit tired, and getting very sentimental.  "Oh, let's all wake up and have a big intimate meal together tomorrow!"  It's a way of ensuring, in hopeful and vague way, that the night never has to end--just after a short nap, we'll all get togeth...

The Red Hook Ballfields

2nd Aug 2006

P1010003_6 On Saturday morning, at the bright and early hour of noon, my phone began ringing.  I vaguely remembered excited pronouncements the evening before about going for a bike ride out to Red Hook to visit the infamous ballfields , where soccer and baseball games unfold throughout the weekend, and outdoor food vendors set up shop on Bay St. to serve cheap, fresh food from south of the border (all...

Schnack: Tiny Burgers, CNN

6th Jul 2006


It saddens me to point out that Schnack has closed.  What is detailed below is a great restaurant.  Hopefully they will reopen someday.

Like many, many people this week, Blake and I had better things to do.  He's living the good life traveling around Northern Europe right now, eating voisilmapulla and trying to get around in Estonia with only a passable pronunciation of three words.  A...

Filling My Role as a Paupered Chef

Wherein I spend an entire day to save $22

31st May 2006

By Blake Royer I spent 4 hours on Saturday standing... Le_creuset I spent 4 hours on Saturday standing in a sweaty line for cheap cookware.  Broadway Panhandler, a kitchen supply store that generally has a massive selection and discounted prices, was having a moving sale .  75% off!  Free Food!  Live Music!  All of these things made me happy.  I dragged myself out of bed and left the house for t...

Pop Burger

25th May 2006

pop 4801

Pop Burger
60 9th Ave, b/w 14th and 15th.
Distance from Shake Shack: 0.81 miles
Travel Time: 24 minutes

of People in Line: 5

This place is way too hip for its own good, and you could walk by its meatpacking district location a couple of times before you noticed that it’s not just a club. In fact, there’s just a tiny blue “pop” stuck on the door and that’s all--incognito i...

Burgers & Cupcakes

Two things people like to wait in line for. Again.

25th May 2006


Burgers and Cupcakes
458 9th Ave, at 36th st.
Distance from Shake Shack: 0.94 miles
Travel Time: 27 minutes

of People in Line: 9

Burgers and Cupcakes is humorous only to New Yorkers, who can't help but smile at the gall of building a restaurant that caters solely to the big apple's idiocy to stand in line for the most obscenely simple things.  I was spurred to undertake the odysse...

Eisenberg''s Sandwich Shop

23rd May 2006


Eisenberg's Sandwich Shop
174 Fifth Ave, at 22nd st.
Distance from Shake Shack: 0.05 miles
Travel Time: 2 minutes

of People in Line: 7

You want close to Shake Shack?  How about half a block from Madison Square Park?  Charmingly vintage, Eisenberg’s is run by a big friendly guy who takes every order and scrawls it on a paper bag, sending it down to the far end of the restaurant...

New York Burger

23rd May 2006


New York Burger Co.
303 Park Ave. South
Travel Time: 2 minutes

of People in Line: 4

When the grease fumes clear on this little quest for Shake Shack Alternatives , there is really only one place that deserves the mantle, and that is the New York Burger Co.  A block away from the shack, NY Burger Co. provides the shortest walk, shortest line, and shortest wait, which all transla...

Bruce''s Burger

23rd May 2006


Bruce’s Burger
33th and 7th Ave.
Distance from Shake Shack: 0.79 miles
Travel Time: 23 minutes

of People in Line: 2

Decked out in full 50's dinner kitsch, Bruce's Burger tries to conjure up the good times of the care free suburbs in the middle of Midtown chaos.  It's billed in neon as a drive-in, which of course is impossible considering it doesn't even butt onto a street, being t...

American Burger & Co.

23rd May 2006


American Burger
100 W 32nd St
Distance from Shake Shack: 0.53 miles
Travel Time: 16 minutes

of People in Line: 3

Once I'd scanned both New York Magazine's and Village Voice's online restaurant section a few times, it was time to delve into some of the less charted and less proofread parts of the web.  That usually involves a good Google scan and then devolves into hour lon...

The Burger Joint

22nd May 2006


The Burger Joint
241 Third Ave.
Distance from Shake Shack: 0.33 miles
Travel Time: 11 minutes

of People in Line: 4

Not to be confused with its definite-article-less famous namesake, Burger Joint , which is famously "hidden" in the Le Parker Meridien, this joint is just a short jaunt over from Madison Square Park on 3rd Avenue and 20th Street and is home to some serious sliders....

Blue 9 Burger

22nd May 2006


Blue 9 Burger
92 Third Ave
Distance from Shake Shack: 0.61 miles
Travel Time: 18 minutes

of People in Line: 0

Of all the burgers around the area, this one probably comes the closest to replicating the style of the Shake Shack.  They are both in the same vein as the West Coast burger staple, In-N-Out Burgers, which are hyper-fresh and vegetable laden.  Everything is made to order,...

Nick''s Pizza

11th May 2006


Eating Nick’s we decided that our favorite pizzas don’t have a uniform cheese layer--as you take bites they change, from sauce and fresh basil to an all-mozzarella mouthful, and the flavors really develop in your mouth.

But we’ve gotten to the point where food can make or break the entire evening.  We’d been having slice after pie after slice after pie, and they’d all been so abo...

Grilled Steak and Asparagus to celebrate Brooklyn''s "Day of the Year"

8th May 2006


Saturday and Sunday of this weekend were among the best days this year, second only, perhaps, to last Saturday, the proclaimed "Day of the Year" by Manhattan Users Guide with a delightful essay about the joys of walking New York's streets.  Call this post the Brooklyn Users Guide--our own Day of the Year--spent soaking in a day dry and warm in the sun, cool and breezy in the shade.

Library_4506 ...

Louie and Ernie''s

9th Mar 2006

1300 Crosby, Bronx, NY


We awoke promptly at 9.  We decided this time to eat some breakfast before we left, slumped down into the plastic bench, and buried our head in books, our ears stuffed with headphones.  The subway didn’t emerge from the ground until halfway through our ride into the Bronx, and we couldn’t see any traces of the large skyscrapers that grounded us to home.

Much like o...

Di Fara''s

8th Mar 2006

1424 Avenue J, Midwood, Brooklyn


Unfolding the MTA New York City transit map to reveal the uncharted Brooklyn belly beyond Prospect Park, we spotted a subway stop adjacent to our destination in Midwood, Brooklyn, New York.  We’d read about a small Italian man who, year after year, wins awards for his pizza--sometimes including declarations that it’s the best to be found in New York. ...

Patsy''s Pizzeria

7th Mar 2006


Patsy’s lays buried in the middle of Spanish Harlem, a place we sane folk only venture through to get somewhere else--not because we're particularly scared--but because there is not much there.  This is not a hanging-out neighborhood.  Its name is not sexy.  Well, not yet.

Patsy's was founded by Pasquale Lancieri, student of Mr. Lombardi, in 1933 when this stretch east of Harlem was a still...


6th Mar 2006

32 Spring St., between Mulberry and Mott Streets

lombardi s 1905b

Lombardi's.  The torch-bearer of New York, and even American, Pizza.  The ambassador, and the original.  Any right quest to find the best New York pizza must start here.

We are not too interested in lore, but here you go: the original was created in 1905.  Though there are claims that many Italian breadmakers were creating pizza pies with...

Welcome to Pizza Week!

6th Mar 2006


Even the U.S. Government admits that pizza may be the perfect food.  It is a balanced food pyramid and a near-faultless symmetry of tastes: fresh but robust, light yet filling, sweet and tangy...

Egg Mayonnaise and Cress Sandwich

Recreating a fond memory from being poor in London

14th Feb 2006

Though egg mayonnaise is essentially the same thing as American egg salad, it doesn't taste like your average pitch-in.   The mayonnaise was creamy but it had a lightness to it, which probably has something to do with the proportion of ingredients.  Instead of deli-style New York sandwiches where a literal pound of meat is thrown on each sandwich--"It's like a cow with a cracker on either side,...

The Great Potato Contest

A bag of potatoes and a quest for the cheapest dinner possible

With minds planted firmly in the dirt, we probed the...

greatpotatocontest 00

With minds planted firmly in the dirt, we probed the starchy tuber for secrets buried within, all in search of the perfect cooked potato.   Armed with a bag of $2.99 Idahos, we set aflame preconcieved notions, sexed things up, and tried to find the courage (and stomachs) to eat nothing but potatoes like our poor brethren of the 19t...