November 2007 Archives

Feasting in the City

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O the culinary delights of a huge city where everyone eats out (a bit like Tokyo, actually). We ate well and I took notes. Here are the standout places that are not to be missed.

Catch de Fish
3rd Ave @ 15th
***** (5)

This was so good, we ate here twice. Thai fusion with an emphasis on seafood. Choose your fish or seafood from a list and then pick a sauce or salad to go with it. The green curry sauce and the grilled eggplant salad were superb, and the ginger sauce excellent. Don't pass up the Avocado and Mandarin Orange Salad; it's complex and delightful. The soups were great , the appetisers appetising and everything was ideal. I wish they had a branch in Tokyo.

30th between 5th Ave & Broadway
**** (4)

Indian vegetarian prix fixe dinner. $25 gets you over 20 dishes (two thalis' worth), including some stunningly hot appetisers, a range of sinfully good curries, fabulous rices and breads plus dessert and chai. If you like something, you can ask for more. There is no way to walk away hungry and I dare anyone to notice that there is not meat on the menu.

Di Fara Pizza
1424 Avenue J, Brooklyn
**** (4)

Mr. DeMarco makes classic, authentic Italian pizza by hand. He doesn't skimp, he takes his time, and every pie is a work of art. He's been in business for 40-odd years and plans to hand over the reigns to his kids, but they don't make the pizza - only he does. So get there before he retires! This was some of the best pizza I've ever enjoyed - crispy bottomed, thin crusted, with sauce that supported the flavors of the three Italian cheeses and fresh basil. Honestly, you must try it. Take the Q line to the Avenue J stop in Brooklyn.

222 Waverly Place
**** (4)

Taim serves falafel that doesn't sit like a rock in your stomach - the kind we can't get in Tokyo. We read about it in the New Yorker and made a beeline to the West Village to try it. It's a tiny take away place, virtually no seating but a half dozen stools in great demand, but that makes no matter. Go here, and order the falafel (green, red or harissa). Enjoy the subtle flavor of zarat, an ancient Israeli seasoning complementing the lemon in the salad that comes on the sandwich. Lick the hummus from your fingers as it escapes the pita. Be happy.

Louie and Ernie's
1300 Crosby Ave, Bronx
**** (4)

This was the quintessence of the NY pizza I grew up with. It has a thin, chewy (but not soggy) crust with a layer of cheese that equaled the depth of the crust. The sauce is tangy and the pizza drips orange grease down your arm if you tilt it the wrong way. It's nothing like the Di Farra pizza, but they are equally wonderful. I grinned like a little kid and wolfed down two slices - one plain, one with mushrooms. There's probably equally good NY-style pizza in Manhattan, but the adventure of getting to the middle of the Bronx was an interesting one.

Feasting at Home

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Mom asked me to share some well-seasoned vegetarian recipes with her. She doesn't eat a lot of meat and wanted to learn a bit more about the tasty stuff I'm always going on about. So I made her a little cookbook. I called it "Almost Vegan" because although the emphasis is on vegan things, there are a couple of recipes with optional shrimp and one with non-optional eggs.

We cooked quite a few of these together, and I think she liked them. I used the recipes while we were in North Carolina, too, and the dishes were well-received. Everyone at the NC beach house claimed they don't have time to cook. I think maybe they just don't enjoy it enough to make time for it. I love to cook and it takes up too much of my time, sometimes.

Anyway, I wanted to share the little cookbook with you, in case you're looking for some nicely spiced, healthy, vegetable rich homemade foods. It's divided into sections based on region - Middle East, India, South Asia, and Europe - with a few recipes in each section. You might recognise a few from past Recipe Thursdays. Hope you enjoy it!

Almost Vegan 132KB PDF

Australia Day Gala Ball 2008

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Imagine the ochre red of desert sand dotted with grey-green gums and lit by a starry sky. The stillness of our outback night is punctuated by the resonance of a didgeridoo and the rhythm of dance.

Add black ties, gorgeous frocks, a delicious meal and drinks, followed by energetic entertainment and a charity auction and you are part of a memorable Australia Day celebration.

Friday 25 January 2008
7 pm – late
Grand Hyatt Tokyo, Roppongi
black tie

Tickets on sale now. You'll find more details and a booking form at

Interested in sponsoring the event? Please email

Holiday Week in Ephrata

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In Transit

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I'm pretty sure we could have driven faster, at least from DC to PA.

A Week in North Carolina

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Stormy Day Walnut Cookies
serves the McQuillin clan

1 cup margarine
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
dash cinnamon
2 cups walnuts, finely chopped

Cream the butter and sugar. Add the flour, salt and cinnamon. Stir in walnuts. Use your hands to work the mixture into a dough the consistence of clay. Depending on the flour and the humidity of the day, you may need a drop or two of water. Form the dough into walnut-sized balls. Bake at 190/375 for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden.

Cookies may be rolled in powdered sugar while still warm, but they are delicious enough naked.


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This is one of my favorite rice and bean recipes. It's a bit troublesome, as you have to cook the lentils and rice separately, so you need enough pans, but they can be cooked at the same time, so it doesn't really take long and the results are worth the minor effort. Fluffy rice, earthy lentils and a topping of carmelised onions. Comfort food from the middle east.

I usually make more onions than I call for here, because carmelised onions are so good. The black pepper and allspice is a mixture called baharat and there are many regional variations. I prefer this version for its simplicity.

serves 3-4

1 cup brown lentils
1 cup long grain rice
2 onions, thinly sliced
¼ tsp black peppercorns
¼ tsp whole allspice
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp ground cardamom
olive oil
4 cups water

Fry the rice in a little oil, until it starts to change color. Add the cardamom and two cups of water. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from heat and let stand 20-30 minutes.

Fry the lentils in a little oil until they start to brown. Add the peppercorn, allspice and cumin. Pour in two cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils have absorbed all the water.

Carmelise the onions in oil. Make sure they get really brown and soft.

Combine cooked rice and lentils. Top with carmelised onions.

Ellie's Chopstick Roll

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My friend Ellie carries her own chopsticks with her wherever she goes so that she doesn't have to use disposable chopsticks at restaurants. Each year, 25 billion pairs of disposable chopsticks (waribashi) are used in Japan. That's 200 pairs per person. There are a few recycling programs, but most used waribashi get thrown into the garbage. What a waste.

Ellie carries her "My Hashi " in her purse, protected in a roll of fabric. She'd like to make a few of these as gifts, but wasn't sure how to do it. So we sat down over a cocktail and I reverse-engineered the design. It's really simple and clever.


Download instructions
A4-size PDF 555K

Flared Skirt with Soft Belt

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Flared skirt in action

I bought some crazy kabuki ghost fabric a few weeks ago and it's been sitting around waiting for me to need a new skirt. Finally, I had a need for a nifty outfit, so I designed a flared skirt and whipped it up between breakfast and leaving the house. It's comfy stylish and easy to wear, so I wrote up the pattern in case you want to make one, too.

Download the pattern A4 PDF 248K

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