This Week in Food: Cookbook Launch Parties, Fall Deals, Kosher Food Talk

At the Night Market featuring Incensed by Ed Lin
The Museum of Chinese in America (215 Centre Street)
Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.

Feast on Taiwanese street food and get a book signed by Incensed author Ed Lin. Guests will also get to check out the Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy: Stories of Chinese Food in America exhibition. Tickets ($36 for non-museum members) are all inclusive. Get yours here.

Book Launch: El Quinto Pino Cooks Cúrate

El Quinto Pino (401 West 24th Street)
Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Chef Katie Button of Asheville’s Cúrate is celebrating the launch of her cookbook (which shares the name of her restaurant) with a tapas party at El Quinto Pino. Button will also sign copies of her book, which is included with admission (along with all food and drink throughout the evening).

Cooking Class at La Gamelle
La Gamelle (241 Bowery)
Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m

Fall has arrived! Chef Michael Burbella will teach a class on how to prepare two very autumnal dishes: roasted butternut squash soup and roasted chicken with vegetables. Afterwards, sip a glass of wine with your fellow students. Tickets ($65) also includes a half-priced meal for two at a later date.

Orange October Thursdays at Nanoosh
All Nanoosh Locations

Need to warm up in this chilly weather? Wear orange to any Nanoosh location on a Thursday and you’ll get a free fall soup. This month’s lineup includes tomato, Moroccan lentil, and a seasonal soup of the day. No purchase necessary.

Roger Horowitz, From Treyf to Safe: Kosher Certification in the U.S.

JCC Manhattan (334 Amsterdam Avenue)
Thursday, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Led by the Culinary Historians of New York, this panel discussion examines the rise of kosher foods and the history of kosher certification in the U.S. Find out how kosher designation set an example for food safety regulations and labeling in the food industry. Before the discussion, snack on classic kosher foods.



Best Restaurant in Chelsea

If you find yourself hungry in Chelsea, forgo the warehouse spaces that line the West Side Highway and secure yourself a nook in the snug front barroom at El Quinto Pino, where you can dig into inventive Spanish dishes — the “Bikini de Huitlacoche,” pressed triangles of dough stuffed with funky Mexican corn fungus, poblano peppers, and melted mozzarella; a braised tongue acidified by capers and tomatoes; and an uni panino that begs you to try that sushi-menu staple — from chefs Alex Raij and Eder Montero. If you’re looking to do more than start your night chasing snacks with sangria, venture into the wine bar’s airy modern dining room for rotating regional fare. There, the kitchen serves a smoky Andalusian gazpacho that will transport you far beyond the confines of West 24th Street.


The 10 Best Frozen Drinks in NYC

Break out the acid wash denim jorts — it’s downright summery outside. And no better way to celebrate a warm day (or pretend that it’s swimsuit season) than with a frozen drink. Here are our 10 favorites around town.

10. Kelvin Natural Slush, check website for locations

Alex Rein and Zack Silverman made an icy splash with this frozen drink company in 2010 and have since found love and thirsty admiration from food celebrities like Martha Stewart and Andrew Zimmern. The customizable beverages can be mixed with fruit purees, herbs, and booze — several versions of which can be found in the warm months at Madison Square Garden. Seasonal suggestions from Kelvin’s slush jerks always satisfy, but we’ve got a soft spot for their lightly floral citrus tea with bourbon.

9. Bushwick Country Club, 618 Grand Street, Brooklyn; 718-388-2114

This East Williamsburg wonderland for the tight-pantsed and snark-raving masses offers many of the hipster watering hole trappings that Brooklynites have come to know and love: kitschy decor, a photo booth, picklebacks, and a slushie machine that whirs nonstop, spewing forth frozen sweet tea vodkas and whiskey and Cokes whose mugs frost over with the promise of relief and inebriation. There’s a charming albeit dilapidated mini-golf course in the backyard patio. When the weather’s nice, there’s no better place for a brain freeze.

8. Nights and Weekends, 1 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-383-5349

With cocktail and food menus that play fast and loose with tropical influence, this sister establishment to beloved neighborhood restaurant Five Leaves plies revelers with plenty of rum and tequila, plates of mojo pork ribs, callaloo, and fish tacos served grilled or fried baja-style. Frozen margarita flavors change daily and use premium Combier triple sec, and a rotating “slushie del dia” keeps patrons well-lubricated with fruit flavors like watermelon and mango.

7. Otto’s Shrunken Head, 538 East 14th Street, 212-228-2240

Before Tiki took the city by storm a few years ago, this eccentric island-themed bar — replete with naugahyde booths, faux grass over the bar, and plenty of bamboo — found success among the city’s punk adherents, who perhaps ironically flocked to 14th Street to hear their favorite bands and slurp down sizeable carafes of Polynesian and frozen cocktails. Steer clear of inventions like the scurvy dog (cinnamon vodka with butterscotch) in favor of fruit daiquiris and a creamy chocolate slushy reminiscent of that most esteemed of Floridian tipples, the Bushwacker (basically, a chocolate pina colada).

6. Skinny Dennis, 152 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn; no phone

Don’t let the Williamsburg-Honkey tonk atmosphere deter you: This sibling to pooch-friendly bar Lucky Dog serves one of the city’s finest frozen drinks (in a borough that already shows plenty of love for slushies), an amalgam of Oslo coffee, milk, vanilla, sugar, bourbon, coffee liqueur, and brandy dubbed Willie’s Frozen Coffee. The icy mixture receives an extra slug of bourbon on top, and Skinny Dennis bartenders serve the concoction in the quintessential Greek-inflected coffee cups that have become synonymous with down and dirty NYC java.

5. Debasaki, 3367 Farrington Street, Queens; 718-886-6878

Low-lit Flushing Korean joint Debasaki is known around the populated dining neighborhood for its ‘gyoza’ chicken wings – hollowed-out, boneless wings filled with vegetables, cheese, or shrimp – as much as for its pitchers of frozen soju (a clear Korean distilled beverage with a lower proof than vodka). Available in fruit flavors like frothy, pink strawberry and a thick, creamy plain yogurt variety, the drinks pack tons of flavor but little intoxicating punch, leaving you to sip away for hours with little fear of repercussion.

4. Uncle Boons, 7 Spring Street; 646-370-6650

Besides cooking one of the best versions of curry-based Thai noodle stew khao soi, this quirky Nolita restaurant from Per Se vets Matt Danzer and Ann Redding, which opened last April, serves infinitely appealing Chang and Singha beer slushies. The frosty suds are agitated in a motorized ice bucket, which helps create enough movement within the bottles that the beer maintains its slushy state. They’re innocuous compared with other beers, but there’s no better relief from Uncle Boons’ chili-spiked fare than these frozen brews.

3. Battery Harris, 64 Frost Street, Brooklyn; 718-384-8902

What was once expansive beer garden Loreley has been transformed into this Caribbean restaurant and bar, which sports the same large outdoor patio for partying when the weather’s nice. Head bartender Saul Ranella — formerly of La Mar Cebicheria — mixes a lineup of inventive cocktails with an island bent (while still occasionally utilizing Peruvian ingredients like Pisco, maize, and mint), including a slush-ified take on that ambassador of Anglo-Caribbean drinks, the Dark’n’Stormy, and a frozen version of the Peruvian purple corn drink called chicha morada mixed with passion fruit juice, Pisco, and traditional Peruvian Amargo Chuncho bitters.

2. Daily slushie from Mother’s Ruin, 18 Spring Street, 212-219-0942

Yes, this place is down the street from #4 pick Uncle Boons, but Richard Knapp and TJ Lynch have imbued this spacious Nolita watering hole with a ramshackle charm. Tin ceilings and large back tables encourage socializing in addition to drinking, and a slushy machine holds court up front, filled with whatever flavors strike the bartenders on that particular day. Sweet fruits are on heavy rotation (anything with bananas is a good bet), but the machine occasionally plays host to frozen bloody marys as well.

1. Frozen Horchata from El Quinto Pino, 401 West 24th Street, 212-206-6900

This gorgeous tapas bar from husband and wife team Alex Raij and Eder Montero expanded into an adjacent space last year, finally giving the restaurant a proper dining room dubbed “El Comedor.” Even with the ornate back room up and running, the U-shaped bar up front is still the place to be. True to its Spanish roots, El Quinto Pino’s bartenders serve a variety of sherry and gin-based tipples. Half-dessert, half-cocktail (which could be said for many of the picks on this list), the frozen horchata bears little resemblance to the Mexican cinnamon-and-rice-milk concoction most people associate with the name, basing this version instead on an icy scoop of frozen chufa tiger nut milk, which melts lusciously into a shot of brandy.


El Comedor’s Sea Anemone in Soft Scrambled Eggs, One of Our 100 Favorite Dishes

No. 6: Sea anemone in soft scrambled eggs from El Comedor at El Quinto Pino (401 West 24th Street, 212-206-6900)

Uncommon seafood and a breakfast comfort staple make surprisingly tasty bedfellows.

Alex Raij and Eder Montero recently expanded their celebrated wine and tapas bar El Quinto Pino to include a proper dining room behind the main event dubbed “El Comedor”. With a somewhat mod design backed by a giant neutral-toned woven tapestry comes an expanded menu. New drinks, new desserts, and this: a bowl of scrambled eggs tossed with shatter-crisp fritters of sea anemone, an undulating, predatory marine organism that will probably never get its own Disney adventure. Popular in Andalusia, the eggs are scrambled soft but manage to coat the fried seafood fully, whose soft interior tastes like the ocean floor, all salt and earth. Combined with the eggs’ creaminess and fat from the deep fryer, the sea anemone’s brinier flavors are subdued; a hit of olive oil and parsley rounds out the plate. Yet even with so much richness, there’s a levity to the dish thanks to the fluffiness of those eggs. It’s best eaten after a night of drinking and before a morning filled with regret. If only they’d expand their hours along with the architecture.

We just dropped our Best of NYC issue, our annual love letter to what’s great in this town and where you’ll find our picks for the very best this city has to offer when it comes to dozens of cuisines, restaurants, dishes, and drinks. As a side dish, you can get a taste of our contenders as we count down, in no particular order, our 100 favorite dishes from around the boroughs, a list of laudable eats worth tracking down right now.

No. 100: Taqueria Lower East Side’s carnitas
No. 99: Tartine’s steamed mussels
No. 98: Malu’s Cookie Monster ice cream
No. 97: Coppelia’s Havana salad
No. 96: Falansai’s clay pot catfish
No. 95: Uncle Boons’ Khao Soi Kaa Kai
No. 94: ABC Cocina’s salted caramel “impossible” flan
No. 93: Shu Jiao Fu Zhou Cuisine’s peanut noodles
No. 92: Distilled’s country-fried duck and waffles
No. 91: Calliope’s octopus salad
No. 90: Charlie Bird’s diver scallop crudo
No. 89: Silver Moon Bakery’s fig and pepper bread
No. 88: Stage Restaurant’s egg, cheese, and sausage on a roll
No. 87: Manzanilla’s Marbella’s Full Moon
No. 86: Bia’s Cary Ga
No. 85: La Newyorkina’s pineapple jalapeño paleta
No. 84: Empellón Taqueria’s skirt steak tacos
No. 83: Sugar Sweet Sunshine’s pistachio cupcake
No. 82: El Chivito d’Oro’s skirt steak
No. 81: Saro Bistro’s satarash
No. 80: Oda House’s adjaruli khatchapuri
No. 79: Hill Country Chicken’s pie milkshake
No. 78: Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbecue’s chili mac
No. 77: The Musket Room’s steak and cheese pie
No. 76: Battery Harris’ Baked Patties
No. 75: Legend’s Dan Dan Noodles
No. 74: Pure Thai’s Nakorn-Patom duck noodles soup
No. 73: Melt Bakery’s Morticia
No. 72: Calexico’s Baja Fish Taco
No. 71: Sushi Dojo’s Omakase
No. 70: Bear’s smoked whitefish
No. 69: Locanda Verde’s corn ravioli
No. 68: Ghenet’s Ghenet Combination
No. 67: Ample Hills Creamery’s ice cream
No. 66: Burger & Barrel’s Burger
No. 65: Radegast’s Munich pretzel
No. 64: Mighty Quinn’s Burnt End Baked Beans
No. 63: Cho Dang Gol’s spicy galbi jjim
No. 62: Tacos Mexico’s chorizo taco
No. 61: Pork Slope’s loaded nachos
No. 60: Pine Box Rock Shop’s bloody mary
No. 59: Franny’s antipasto plate
No. 58: Num Pang’s curry red lentil soup
No. 57: Khe-Yo’s Jurgielewicz duck salad
No. 56: Dough’s doughnut (any doughnut)
No. 55: King Noodle’s ma po tofu fries
No. 54: Terri’s green power smoothie
No. 53: Estela’s beef tartare
No. 52: Pho Grand’s pork chop pho
No. 51: Stella 34 Trattoria’s chocolate gelato
No. 50: RedFarm’s spicy crispy beef
No. 49: Bhojan’s daal tadka
No. 48: Pig and Khao’s khao soi
No. 47: The Grand’s handmade pierogies
No. 46: Dominick’s Deli’s Dante’s Inferno
No. 45: The Queens Kickshaw’s deep-fried squash blossoms
No. 44: Black Tree’s squash blossom sandwich
No. 43: Nan Xiang’s xiao long bao
No. 42: Jones Wood Foundry’s bangers and mash
No. 41: White Bear’s wontons
No. 40: The Harrison’s toasted couscous and farro salad
No. 39: Katja’s sausage sampler
No. 38: Magpies’ strawberry-balsamic magpie
No. 37: Bunker’s pho ga
No. 36: Fritzl’s Lunch Box’s burger
No. 35: Biang’s lotus root salad
No. 34: BrisketTown’s brisket
No. 33: Bronx Ale House’s alehouse nachos
No. 32: Shinobi Ramen’s mabo ramen
No. 31: Pok Pok NY’s papaya pok pok
No. 30: Land of Plenty’s Szechuan Pork Dumplings
No. 29: Financier’s pistachio macaron
No. 28: Arancini Bros’ Nutella arancini
No. 27: Di Fara’s calzone
No. 26: Atera’s bone marrow
No. 25: The Mermaid Inn’s brunch bread basket
No. 24: Hospoda’s fried cherries
No. 23: Xe May’s Lam’bretta
No. 22: Meatballs Alsatian from Café Cluny
No. 21: Café Ghia’s biscuits and gravy
No. 20: Espardeñas from Toro
No. 19: Beef noodle soup from Lan Zhou
No. 18: Soup and half roll combo from Luke’s Lobster
No. 17: Spicy pork quesadilla from La Pasadita
No. 16: Pastrami sandwich from Loeser’s Deli
No. 15: wd~50’s chilled egg drop soup
No. 14: Taqueria Rancho Escondido’s barbacoa tacos
No. 13: Montmartre’s pot-au-pho
No. 12: Nom Wah Tea Parlor’s dim sum samplers
No. 11: Somtum Der’s tum poo-plara
No. 10: Buvette’s cassoulet
No. 9: Mission Chinese Food’s ma po tofu
No. 8: Northeast Kingdom’s steel cut oat porridge
No. 7: Barney Greengrass’s smoked fish platters


Fork in the Road’s Favorite Tapas in New York City

It’s time for Tuesday Toasts, our weekly feature highlighting the Fork in the Road team’s favorite versions of popular dishes and favorite spots in the city for a given activity. They might not be the best or the coolest or the newest, but instead represent the things and places that are near and dear to our hearts. Will the team have wildly diverging opinions, or do great minds think alike? There’s only one way to find out. Up this week: Our Favorite Tapas.

El Quinto Pino (401 West 24th Street, 212-206-6900) for the warm uni and Korean mustard oil on ficelle bread.” –Lauren Bloomberg

Tertulia (359 Sixth Avenue, 646-559-9909), only because it’s the newest and has broken new ground, including serving raw barnacles and Asturian cider.” –Robert Sietsema

Tia Pol (205 Tenth Avenue, 212-675-8805). The super-crunchy fried chickpeas are one of the best bar snacks around. Munch on them, plus the chorizo with sherry, and, of course, a pitcher of sangria.” –Lauren Shockey

“I really can’t pick a favorite because I’ve had so few tapas here, and I’m more of a pintxo girl.” –Victoria Bekiempis

For more dining news, head to Fork in the Road, or follow us @ForkintheRoadVV, or me @ldshockey.


El Quinto Pino: Sand Eels for Your Tongue

If you’ve been to a good tapas bar in Spain, what do you remember? Probably some pleasure-blurred mix of burbling conversation, the briny bomb of squid ink, the crunch of fritters, and the garlic-oiled gush of a shrimp’s head. El Quinto Pino pretty much nails it all—the Lilliputian bar in east Chelsea is one of the best, and most authentic, tapas restaurants in the city. And now that it has gotten its original chef back, the place is experiencing a renaissance that is great, delicious fun. Stop in for patatas bravas and fried intestines with a glass of hard-to-find Galician white wine.

Chef-owners Alex Raij and Eder Montero opened El Quinto Pino in 2007, together with their partners from Tía Pol, another Spanish restaurant in Chelsea. But in 2008, Raij and Montero left El Quinto Pino’s kitchen and later that year debuted Txikito, a Basque tapas spot just a block away on Ninth Avenue, without those partners. Recently, the group agreed to a reshuffling in which Raij and Montero returned to El Quinto Pino as sole owners in exchange for giving up their stake in Tía Pol.

Raij has spruced the place up with a new paint job and a few tables—it was previously barstools only. The new seating makes the restaurant much more comfortable for a full meal. As always, you can still perch at the curved marble bar that occupies one side of the room. The chef has also revitalized the menu, adding new dishes and a “menú turistico,” a short list of regional plates, along with cheeses and wines from a select Spanish province that changes every month. For most of March, it’s been Galicia, and rumor has it that Catalonia is next.

Certain seats at the bar have partial views into the mini kitchen, where you can see Raij assemble dishes lightning-quick. One night, I waited for a friend and drank a lemony-bright Godello (the white wine grape indigenous to Valdeorras, one of Galicia’s wine regions) while watching Raij grill skewers, toast sandwiches, and set stews to bubbling under the salamander, all without her moving more than a step. When my friend arrived, we tried the red sangria, one of the newcomers to the drinks menu. It was appropriately sweet and fruity—not great and not bad, like most sangria.

On the menú turistico, three of the four Galician dishes star seafood, fitting for the coastal state. The list runs from caldo gallego—a brothy ragout of pork ribs, bacon, white beans, and turnip greens—to octopus with potatoes; to a shrimp, onion, and avocado salad; to sardine pie. All are thoroughly enjoyable and well-made, finding balance between fatty and lean, rich and astringent.

The sardine pie, actually called an empanada, is an unfamiliar confection for those of us who mainly know the pastry as a sort of turnover. This one is baked in a sheet like lasagna, and sliced into rectangles. The tomatoey, shortbread-like crust crumbles when cut or bit, giving way to hidden fillets of the fish. On another plate, chubby, purplish cross-sections of octopus tentacle teeter on rounds of boiled white potatoes, all of it enlivened with a generous dose of smoked paprika, which always makes me think of bacon. The shrimp salad offers cool zippiness—avocado for fat, onion for zing—but it’s one of the only dishes that struck me as really overpriced: $12 for a mincing portion. As the sole terrestrial dish on the tour of Galicia, the pork-rib soup is a comforting, wintery concoction, relying on the immortal combination of pork, greens, and beans. If it was the tiniest bit oversalted, I didn’t mind much.

Raij has made other changes to the menu, including the additions of some tapas standbys like croquettes and tortilla that were absent at the restaurant’s opening. The patatas bravas, for instance, might be the best in the city, with resolutely crunchy fried potatoes that hold up under a deliciously goopy, spiced ketchup.

An equally good bar snack can be found in the fried lamb intestines. The thin tubes are fried until crisp and kinked, and served with a chile-vinegar sauce that’s like an acidic version of Thai sweet chile sauce. The intestines taste like lamb potato chips, and are as friendly a gut as you’ll ever find. Then again, as fried snacks go, the sand eels rival the intestines—the tiny, inch-long creatures sporting a craggy crust that reminds me of the best New England fried clams. The eels are topped with a sunny-side-up egg, the whites sizzled furiously to a lacey, golden state, the yolk still liquid, spilling its molten yellow goodness over the plate.

The most lauded dish on El Quinto Pino’s menu remains: the sea urchin panini that constitutes a marvel of briny squish and funk. But I actually liked the fried squid sandwich better, the tentacles ensconced in a crusty wheat roll with a dousing of spicy aioli. It’s an improvement on the Italian-American sub shop classic.

El Quinto Pino isn’t perfect: There are missteps and some overpricing here and there. A dish of white beans, baby squid, and ink lacked that deep, oceanic oomph that it should have, and the tinto—essentially house wine—was going for $11 a glass, around the same price as the other choices. Not exactly the point of a house wine.

But the place is fun, and spirited—ably channeling the convivial, freewheeling heart of Spanish tapas. One night, our group ate hunks of bread rubbed with tomato, garlic, and anchovies from the newly reopened Bay of Biscay fishery, a very traditional snack. We followed it with that brilliant sea urchin panini. I drank a celery-sherry cocktail—and who knows where that came from? El Quinto Pino has never been bound to custom, and that’s what might make it your most authentic neighborhood tapas joint.