Around the World and Down the Gullet at Choice EatsLast night’s Village Voice Choice Eats tasting at the Puck Building would have been better called Sietsemapalooza — its far-flung outer-borough diversity was a testament to his dedication and mobility. The Puck Building also hosted Taste of New York last year, but this crowd was a different demographic. Piercings replaced pearls, and a young, scruffy, and hungry crowd overwhelmed the restaurants accustomed to serving only a few regulars at a time. Highlights: the extraordinary barbecued pastrami from Fette Sau; the fried rice and pork from Krik Krak; and the beef rendang, the best thing on Fatty Crab’s menu. Nearly everything we tried was good, especially the starches: couscous, grits, various exotic-bread puddings, and even some spongy Ethiopian bread from the Queen of Sheba. Sietsema, presiding over the event like a proud father, could be seen eating all of the above — and a lot more besides.
Related: Sietsema Previews His Own ‘Choice Eats’
Back of the House
Sietsema Previews His Own ‘Choice Eats’As a leadup to tonight’s Village Voice Choice Eats tasting event, Robert Sietsema gives Gothamist a lengthy interview and a barely disguised photo. Sietsema recalls his worst restaurant experience (cockroach) and explains how Frank Bruni maligned Katz’s by only giving it one star. His picks are after the jump.
Where to Eat on Black Friday; Last-Minute Turkey DinnersMichael Psilakis plans to open his “Dona redux,” at 58th Street between Second and Third, by early January. [Mouthing Off/Food & Wine]
Related: Psilakis Seeks Site for a Late-Night Downtown Restaurant — and a New Dona
Satisfying post-shopping eats are invaluable because “when you no longer feel loaded is the perfect time to get loaded.” This comprehensive list covers midtown, Herald Square, the meatpacking district, and Soho. [NYP]
New tip for turkey: Carve it like a butcher, not like a chef. [NYT]
Jeffrey Chodorow Begins Investing in the Little GuyNews that Borough Food and Drink was being taken over by Zak Pelaccio had some Chodorow watchers scratching their heads. How could China Grill Management be involved in a restaurant and not control it? General Chod tells us that, far from being a departure from his operating system, CGM’s boutique operation is just his latest innovation. “There’s 20th Century Fox for big projects, and then also Fox Searchlight Pictures. That’s what this would be like,” he says, crediting Pelaccio with the analogy. (How long did he mull that one?)
Essex Street Market Welcomes New Truffles, Old ButtercrunchButtercrunch goddess Roni-Sue Kave, whom you may also remember as Fatty Crab chef Corwin Kave’s mom, is about to open her own candy store on the Lower East Side. And, as you might expect from a woman of Kave’s caliber, the candy she is fixing to sell there sounds beyond your standard sweet shop. “I made basic candy first, but then I think of ways to make it more interesting — more complex, more levels, more going on.”
Fergus Henderson to Cook Tomorrow at Savoy, Wednesday at the Spotted Pig
We stopped by Soho House last night to speak to Fergus Henderson, the celebrated London chef whose gospel of offal, Nose to Tail Eating, conquered the culinary world back in 2004. Henderson and his friend Justin Piers Gellatly, his dessert chef at London’s St. John, have written a sequel to Nose to Tail called Beyond Nose to Tail (“It’s like Buzz Lightyear, isn’t it? Infinity and beyond?” Fergus said of the illogical title). Henderson will be cooking some of his signature dishes from St. John tomorrow night at Savoy and Wednesday at the Spotted Pig; both evenings are open to the public.
Fatty Crab Chef’s Mom Makes Fatty Chocolate
Fatty Crab chef Corwin Kave is living our childhood fantasy: His mom owns a candy store. Roni-Sue Kave first introduced diners to her buttercrunch at Borough Food & Drink through the good offices of Zak Pelaccio, the restaurant’s consulting chef. It was first sold at the retail counter, but now demand has put it on the menu. Kave’s store at the Essex Street Market will stock her even better fruit-flavored chocolate truffles. We had a little tasting here at the Grub Street offices, and each one was better than the last. There is none of the disgusting, cloying sweetness or gag-inducing cream innards you find in most fruit-filled chocolates. These taste like actual fruit (strawberry-rhubarb, mango) with a dark-chocolate oomph. Does Corwin have a sister? With food this good running in the family, we’ll marry her sight unseen.
Fatty Crab Brings Back Pelaccio’s Fatty Favorites
Fatty Crab has been a huge critical success for Zak Pelaccio, and you can hardly squeeze into the place, but for some of his fans (like us) nothing on that turbo-charged Malaysian menu lives up to the stuff he did at 5 Ninth and Chickenbone Café. So we are psyched that Pelaccio and his chief lieutenant, Corwin Kave, have resurrected some of the chef’s greatest hits for a special bar menu being featured on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. And each one comes with a drink pairing (it being a bar menu, after all.)
A Rescue Plan for Restaurant Workers; No Fatty Crab for the UWSThe Restaurant Responsibility Act, just introduced in City Council, would keep eateries from abusing the help by tying operating permits to labor laws. [Gotham Gazette]
Fatty Crab owner writes in to say that Eater has it all wrong about an Upper West Side location. [Eater]
It’s salmon season in Alaska’s Copper River, and some of the city’s top fish cooks are spawning original dishes to take advantage. [NYDN]
Fatty Crab, Upper West Side Edition?Carroll Gardens: Faan has average food but festive décor, and it’s the only decent delivery in the neighborhood. [Brooklyn Record] But a new French bistro is coming to town. [Lost City]
Fort Greene: The Greene Grape showcases its rosé selection with a series of tastings tonight through Sunday. [Clinton Hill Blog]
Midtown East: A photomontage of Bon Chon’s Korean fried chicken. [Gothamist]
Union Square : Mario Batali will team with Crocs, the maker of his trademark rubber clogs, and come up with an even more durable line to debut later this summer. Until then, the regular versions are available at Paragon Sports. [The Food Section]
Upper West Side: Could the Chodorow-Pelaccio agreement culminate in a Fatty Crab taking over the old Fish’s Eddy space? [Eater]
Back of the House
Time to Fill Out Our James Beard BracketsThe nominations for the James Beard Foundation Awards, the Oscars of the restaurant industry, will be announced Monday morning. We’ll report on that as it happens, but for now, here are picks for the main categories from Adam Platt, Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld, and Josh Ozersky. Our choices are admittedly New York–centric (the awards go to restaurants across the country), but the ceremony is held here, and the city always looms large in the proceedings.
City Against New Rat Weapon; Fatty Crab Gets Liquor License, Special CocktailsSome restaurant owners want to bring in garbage disposals as a weapon in the war on rats, but the city won’t allow it, claiming that the sewer system would be overwhelmed. [Nation’s Restaurant News]
Fatty Crab gets a liquor license and some original cocktails to go with it; meanwhile, McDonald’s will be giving away free coffee all day tomorrow. [NYS]
Ernest Gallo, co-founder with his brother Julio of the much-maligned but enormously successful California winery, dies at 97. [NYT]
The Underground Gourmet
The Fatty Slider: A Home RunThe Underground Gourmet isn’t saying that his mother was a disaster in the kitchen, but her idea of sprucing up the young UG’s burgers before she cooked them to a fine crisp was to fling a packetful of Lipton onion-soup mix into the ground beef. The UG was reminded of this culinary catastrophe as he bit into a Fatty Slider the other day, at the inaugural brunch at Zak Pelaccio’s Fatty Crab. Before you get the wrong idea, you should know that a Fatty Slider is not a Lipton onion burger — far from it. But it does fall into the same general category of spiced-up ground-beef patties, however great the temporal and culinary divide between seventies suburbia and 2007 meatpacking district.
In the Magazine
From Chelsea to Chinatown
In this week’s magazine, high-end restaurants and the doings of midtown Michelin hopefuls take a back seat to the wonders of Chinatown — and the pleasures, spread out across the city, of the Year of the Pig.
Fatty Crab Wants to Know If You’re Interested in Getting BrunchA new dish has been appearing at the tables of regular customers at Fatty Crab recently. Referred to simply as “bacon and eggs” by its creator, chef de cuisine (and Zak Pelaccio chief lieutenant) Corwin Kave, the off-the-menu special is one of the season’s standout pork dishes — and it heralds the restaurant’s plans to begin serving brunch. It consists of a whole Bobo Farm egg, lightly spiced and wok-fried in hot oil, topped with a thick, tender piece of pork belly braised in lime, chiles, black vinegar, fish sauce, and a mélange of Malaysian spices. The Blue Ribbon Pullman bread just barely manages to hold it all together. “It’s just something we’re messing around with,” Kave tells us. Don’t expect to get it when the place is slammed, but if you’re there on an off hour, and maybe a little hung-over, tell them that Grub Street sent you.
Zak Pelaccio Opening New Restaurant — in LondonWe were as surprised as all get-out to hear via Eater that Zak Pelaccio and Jeffrey Chodorow are planning to take Fatty Crab national. So we called Pelaccio: “It’s simply inaccurate,” the chef tells us. “I don’t know where Eater gets their info, but it’s not from me nor any of my business partners.” Fine — we Web types sometimes get the wrong information. But then, Pelaccio delivered a real bit of news: He’ll be taking over Alain Ducasse’s Spoon (owned by Jeffrey Chodorow) in the Sanderson Hotel in London and launching a Malaysian restaurant as consulting chef. “But that has nothing to do with Fatty Crab or even America,” he adds. But it has everything to do with a local guy making good.
EaterWire: Ramsay Lands, Drops Two-Hour Time Limit, Boxer’s Loses Their Lease, Fatty Crab Goes National! [Eater]
Cesare Casella Invents a New Pig!A lot of chefs — particularly of the Haute Barnyard breed — advertise their love of farms. But how many actually mastermind a breeding program, and then invite other chefs to the country to see the results? Cesare Casella, the Tuscan cook behind Maremma, has been breeding two types of pigs (and snow-white Chianina cattle) at Stonewall Preserve upstate. On Monday, he invited Mark Ladner of Del Posto, April Bloomfield of the Spotted Pig, Zak Pelaccio of Fatty Crab, Kevin Garcia of ‘Cesca, and Mary Ellen Heavner of 5 Ninth to come up and sample the Stonewall pig.
‘Saveur’ Editor Demystifies Malaysian Eats
James Oseland, just hired as editor-in-chief of Saveur, also happens to be a Malaysian-Indonesian food guru. His new book, Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking From the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia calls on the twenty years he spent in that part of the world. So how do people who spent the last twenty years traveling no farther than the Coney Island F stop make sense of the cuisine? And where can they sample its highlights? Oseland walks us through the type of menu you’ll find in most Malaysian restaurants, in his own words.
Back of the House
Most Influential Young Chefs Named, Presented With Tchotchkes
Move over, Bouley! Step aside, Jojo! You’re so over. There’s a new generation of “emerging tastemakers,” at least according to Food Arts magazine and their friends at Sterling Meats. Sunday night, meat purveyor and magazine jointly fêted ten young chefs who, they predict, “will be influencing what, where and how we dine out on a national level.” The chefs were presented with framed, diploma-like certificates and envy-inducing Masamoto cobalt-steel knifes.