Ethiopian Treasure In The Village

West Village, NY

Have you ever had Ethiopian food? Well Meskerem Ethiopian Restaurant resides on Macdougal St. between West 3rd Ave and Bleecker St, though it’s pretty hard to notice due its location one flight below the sidewalk. This restaurant serves as a great getaway for a cozy date for two or intimate party. A hole in the wall as it would be considered ,but as you enter Meskerem it has a typical restaurant atmosphere with no cultural or traditional decor signifying its Ethiopian theme. That is, until you order the food.

In the Ethiopian culture, food is served without any eating utensils. Instead, a spongy and addictive flatbread called Injera is used to dip and pick up a variety of mixed chicken, lamb, and vegetable mixtures that are typically creamy and often include lentils as a key ingredient. The bread fills you up quickly when combined with the entrees, so don’t order too much.

For lunch, Meskerem also serves as a small haven for one that transcends the business and loudness that can sometimes overwhelm city life. Many single diners order the Vegetarian Combo for themselves, which gives you great value for it’s price, while groups often order about three entrees to split, because Ethiopian food is also good for sharing.Each entree at Meskerem averages about $11, although you can get some delicious Sambosa appetizers (try the beef ones) for under $10.

Get ready for lots of strong flavor combinations, as garlic is a favorite. I recommend that you order a mixture of spicy and mild dishes to balance out the fresh, yet distinctive flavors. Meskerem is a hidden treasure that anyone would enjoy and experience that you won’t forget.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Gabriela Garcia

Advertisements

Hello Doggy! Japanese Dogs in the East Village

New York, NY –

And I don’t mean Shiba Inus walking down St. Marks. Japadog is definitely all the rage and the concept is simple: taking Japanese ingredients and traditional flavors and smothering it all over the classic American hot dog. The result is an indulgent fusion of everything a down-to-earth foodie would love, especially if your taste buds are fond of the many standard meats, sauces and condiments that hail from Japan.

Their menu provides an array of choices for the hungry and adventurous New Yorker, and you can choose from any level of plain dogs to fully loaded buns with extra meat and cheese. If you order a combo meal, you get fries and choice of drink. I ordered the okonomi which is covered with so many toppings and sauce you would hardly know if you were about to eat an open-faced sandwich or a stuffed hot dog buried in a bun. Okonomi is inspired by the seasonings of okonomiyaki, an earthy Japanese street food that translates to “what you want,” and consists of making a savory yam and flour pancake stuffed with whatever your heart desires like shrimp, mochi or beef. The defining moment of every pancake is the mayonnaise and bonito flakes that top off the comfort food and thus commences your indulgence. Now take that and put it in hot dog form. Oyishii! (Delicious.) A great little foresight in the construction of Japadog’s buns is that they’re slightly closed at the bottom to catch the drippings and droppings of sauce, juice and overall messiness to spare your hands from wasting more napkins.

Their fries are shaken up in a bag with seasoning and generously placed on your tray next to your boxed up dog (which, I might add is made of styrofoam, definitely knocking a star off their green efforts. But I digress.) You can choose from a variety of seasonings when it comes to the fries like butter and shoyu (soy sauce), aonori (dried seaweed), teriyaki, wasabi and shichimi-garlic (hot pepper). I ordered the curry seasoning was fantastic and had just the right hint of sweetness that always characterizes Japanese curry. The fries are a little limp yet perfect for spearing with a fork and eating it like a fried potato salad, minus the mayo. Unless of course you dip it in some of their wasabi mayo which I highly recommend. In fact, make sure you check out all their free sauces (a rarity it seems in some fast food restaurants) like sriracha, honey mustard and bbq.

With a bright, clean dining room and very friendly service, these dogs will satisfy a hunger that always seems to surface during aimless walks in the heart of St. Marks.

Check out Japadog today, its located 30 St. Marks Place. For more information and menu selections check out www.japadog.com

 Diana Tsuchida                                                                                                                               U.F.P Contributor

Unwined and Escape: A weekend in drink, food and farms

Brooklyn, NY

The 2nd annual Escapemaker.com Local Food and Travel Expo competed for food-enthusiasts on a busy afternoon yesterday in Brooklyn, where Smorgusburg and Dekalb Market were also in full swing.  Still in its youth, this event definitely has potential to grow, promote and expand this niche of interests to a broader audience.  With travel gurus on the main entrance the vault floor was reserved for a “Made in Brooklyn” food marketplace of the Skylight One Hanson building. Those with a palette for great weekend getaways in the countryside should not miss this event next year.

The travel convention was a haven for wanderlusting (or simply hard working) city dwellers who love a good wine and farm tour.  All within reasonable distance of the city, these charming getaway destinations are about two to three hours away and help promote “staycations” close to home that depend on independent agri-businesses to supply the food, drinks and entertainment.  The vendors all touted their local styles of tours and homemade confections that come directly from their farms or locally-sourced businesses. More than half of the upstairs vendors offered wine tours all across the state along the Hudson Valley to the Finger Lakes. For an incredibly friendly experience with fantastic wine to boot, check out the Americana Vineyards in Interlaken; the oldest and first real wine tour in the country. With a variety of wines sold, they specialize in Rieslings and sweeter Ports that pair indulgently with their hand-crafted fudge. For a taste of country orchards and fruit-based vino, visit the Brookview Station Winery in Castleton, which is open year round for tours, special events and private tastings.

For a list of complete vendors as well as the more familiar food offerings and shops from Brooklyn, check out the website here.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Diana Tsuchida                                                                                                                                 U.F.P Contributor

“Get Your Fry On!”- Village French Fry Favs

Greenwich Village, NY

French fries are typically burger side notes: empty, cheap potato fillers that are used to use up plate space and make customers feel like their getting more bang for their buck. But what if fries could take on a whole new meaning? I’ve found three French fry experiences in the Village that have the distinct possibility of changing your life. They prove that when carefully crafted and eaten in the right atmosphere, fries can turn your lunch into an exceptional event that shockingly won’t cost you much at all. These aren’t your typical fried potatoes. They each provide something a little extra that turns your fry into a statement.

1) Pop’s of Brooklyn–167 N. 8th Street (corner of 8th St. and Green St.)

Pop’s, a cozy, grungy feeling burger joint near NYU, that only has two options for fries on the menu: cheese and regular. Clearly, the restaurant does not intend to make fries a focus. But aside from the ridiculously good Cholo Burger ($9.95 and highly recommended), the $4 cheese fries are star material. The skinny and wonderfully crispy fries are not just doused but positively drowned in gorgeous white cheese with green garnish. Perfectly greasy and deliciously over indulgent, they will send you over the edge. Sit and devour a bowl while enjoying good music blasting overhead and people watching at the busy corner. The waitresses are kind and atmosphere has a rustic feel. There are charming touches like a green glass bottle of water for each table, a bar, and brick walls. Forget your worries. Take minute to stop and smell the cheese.

2) Pommes Frites–123 2nd Ave

Pommes Frites is more famous for it’s sauces than it’s thick, wide-cut fries. The packed and tiny establishment feels more like an English tavern than a fry store with it’s dim lighting and wooden countertops. In the case of Pommes Frites, fries are the one and only item on the menu (the smallest size costs $4.50 but gives you plenty), with which you choose a variety of unique dipping sauces like Vietnamese Pineapple Mayo, a superbly thick and creamy Black Truffle Mayo, and Pomegranate Teriyaki Mayo. Each sauce costs a dollar besides the Black Truffle, which is $1.75 and worth it. Pommes Frites is fiercely popular, always with a line that goes out the door, and the space is limited for seating. But wait around long enough and you’ll get get one of the snug booths. One warning: don’t go to Pommes Frites for a quick snack. Go for a whole meal. These fries demand full attention and will rock your world and fill up your stomach faster than you can say “but they’re so unhealthy!” Don’t think. Just Eat.

3) Bao Haus–238 E. 14th Street (between 2nd & 3rd Ave)

Bao House makes your fries into a crazy culture fusion. Uncensored rap plays in the background, this superb restaurant is a mix of chinese and taiwanese street style food. The seating is simple and understated, with stools and counters, where you can stare at walls of images that weave traditional chinese photographs with cartoons, collages of basketball stars, and animated murals. Here, you aren’t just experiencing fries. You’re participating in a part of the urban melting pot, a historical and political space that speaks volumes. Order the Taro Fries ($3.50), which have a purple tropical root in them from Southeast Asia with a side of sesame sauce, or be daring and go for the Bao Fries (also $3.50), chunks of sweet fried dough coated with thick black sesame sauce, which redefine “fries” completely. Forget your typical Coke and be a part of the cultural experience by ordering an imported Chinese Apple or Chrysanthemum Soda, which will sweetly compliment the intense flavors. This is a part of urban life you don’t want to miss.

Gabriela Garcia                                                                                                                                   U.F.P Contributor

Going Organic at Yoga Integral Natural Foods

New York, NY

A recent trend that has been on the rise is going organic. Many celebrities have gone vegan or all natural, and food ethics has been on everyone’s mind since galling photos came out of the “pink slime” meat manufacturers were selling to super markets and restaurants. In our everyday lives, how do we escape the corruption and chemicals present in today’s food industry? All natural food markets are a place to start.

Integral Yoga Natural Foods is smaller and more personable than your local Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, and is strictly vegetarian and organic. There are fresh coffee bean dispensers with a grinder, large jars of beautiful raw summer honey, walls of gorgeous fresh spices, and rare products like Kombu Sea Vegetable, as well as packets describing the details of the rarer products and how to use them.

The best and most popular section of the store is the to-go food and juice bar. I try out a tiny but delectable Sweet Potato Muffin, so moist and perfect that I’d be happy to pay another $2.89 for another one, or try out one of the juices, which vary in price but go for an average of $7.00 a pop. The customers in line are all usuals, and when baited they go on about their love of Integral Yoga Natural Foods for days.

One customer buys the bakery goods as the treat portion of his diet, and raves about all the flavors, though he whispers to me under his breathe that “it’s a little expensive.” Indeed, he ends up blowing a hefty sum on a three very small items. Another woman says she shops there for ethical purposes, as she can trust what’s on the shelves. When the sprinklers come on in the produce section to hydrate the greens, and the tangerines in the front smell like God’s gift to the planet, I can’t help but fall in love. Integral Yoga Natural Foods may empty your wallet, but it will make your taste buds and conscience happier than they’ve been in months.

Photo Credit: Closetcooking.com

Shiitake Dashi (soup)

6 1/2 cups water4 slices kombu (4 inches long)

5 dried shiitake mushrooms

1 teaspoon light soy sauce (optional)

1 pinch sea salt (optional)

1 green onion

Directions:

1) Place kombu in pot of water and slowly bring to a simmer over medium high heat, but do not boil; about 10 minutes on the stove.

2) Remove the kombu just before the pot boils and add the dried mushrooms

3) Boil for 1 minute, then turn off the heat and let the pot sit, uncovered, for 20 minutes

4) Remove the mushrooms and store the dashi for use in another recipe, or prepare it as a simple soup by adding the soy sauce, salt to taste and sliced green onion.

Visit Intregal Yoga Natural Foods at 229 West 13th St or http://www.integralyoganaturalfoods.com/
 Gabriela Garcia                                                  U.F.P Contributor

Good Eats at Choice Eats

NEW YORK, NY

NYC Foodies Assemble! Village Voice hosted their 5th Annual “Choice Eats” festival at the 69th Armory at Lexington Ave. The event included 90+ restaurants and 50+ beer/wine vendors, with entertainment from DJ Andy Rourke of The Smith. Prior to entering the venue I attended the VIP lounge, where foodies paid extra for an early entrance, cocktail hour, hors d’oeuvres, and a celebrity chef demo with Top Chef Texas Cheftestant, Ty-lor Boring. He prepared cubed watermelon with powdered olive oil.

As I walked into the event I was in awe at the number of restaurants that I was about to indulge in . Each vendor was plentiful with the amount of food offered which I enjoyed most. Steadily I began to get full and needed a beverage to wash it down. Some of my favorite vendors like Stella Artois and Tito Vodka quenched my thirst as well as others. Lastly, I ended my night with decadent desserts, but enough with my writing check out my foodie slideshow!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If you missed Choice Eats this year, not to worry because Village Voice is also hosting Choice Streets which highlights NYC’s Food Trucks on Tuesday, April 24th at 7:00pm. I’ll see you there!

– Isaiah [@Urban_Foodie14]

Insider: SWV’s Album Listening Party, “I Missed Us”


NEW YORK, NY

Fifteen years ago, the popular R&B Group, SWV [Sisters With Voices] made hit after hit including Weak, Rain, & You’re The One becoming one of the most successful R&B groups in the 90’s. In 1998, the band members Cheryl “Coko” Gamble, Tamara “Taj” Johnson-George, and Leanne “LeeLee” Lyons decided to branch out into their own solo careers.

During their hiatus, they have all pursued several different career paths which included solo albums, reality tv shows, published books, and attended universities. All three band mates are now married with children with a new outlook on life and ready to record another album entitled, I Missed Us.

As I awaited in the penthouse of Jungle Studios with several other journalists, their newly released songs which included their latest single, Cosign filled the room from the speakers. Adjacent from the grand piano were Nuvo Sponsors, who made great drinks while we waited. They were then announced and the ladies of SWV entered the room with so much energy!

It was an intimate setting that allowed us to have full monologue with them and Taj who exuded the most energy challenged the stiff journalists to dance with the music, which I found hilarious. After several songs played, they opened the floor for questions.

When asked what their inspiration was to get back into the studio and how was it working together again. Coko replied, “I came up with the album name, I Missed Us because we missed making music, missed each other and fans.” Taj chimed in stating, “It was a lot of fun but hard work, we hope you love it.” Leelee also noted, “We want to bring R&B back because the soul of it has been lost.” Collectively they wanted to keep their songs classic to when they last made music, rather than evolve to the today’s music. Their goal is contain their older fans as well as gain a new fan base.

Another question was asked if there were any collaborations on the album, Taj noted, “One artist Brianna Perry rapped on their tracks. Otherwise, some artists were invited but didn’t believe that the group would be successful.”

I was able ask to couple questions as follows;

IK: In preparation for the new album, were there any specific diets or nutrition plans that you all had to stick to:

Taj: “We trained as if we were training for a marathon to drop weight. The blogs dogged us after the video, but it also motivated us to keep pushing and gives us great stamina.

IK: Do you ladies share a personal trainer or do you have separate trainers?

LeeLee & Taj: Taj is our trainer….My husband, the football player gets us all in shape and we’re not mad about it.”

IK: While in New York, are there any specific restaurants or food that you must have?

Coko: “We’re simple girls, they love Chipotle’s and I love KFC, love wing dings” lol

SWV is now working on a reality show that is about their everyday lives and in preparation for the album. You can expect to see SWV performing at this summer’s Essence Festival in New Orléans, LA. As far as their tour dates, they are still being scheduled but not completed as of yet.

These ladies were so cool, hilarious, and like most of us hope are completely “down-to-earth” which made me like them so much more. The album has yet to receive a release date but as a fan myself the music is creative, great groove music and a couple of party anthems alike. Look out for SWV’s new album, “I Missed Us” coming soon. Check out their latest video!

For Updates On SWV, Follow them on Twitter;

Coko: @Only1Coko

LeeLee: @LeLeeLyons

Taj: @TajGeorge

– Isaiah [@Urban_Foodie14]