Food treasures in New York City

“Let’s Brisket” At the Center for Jewish History

Brisket is the meat covering the cow’s breastbone, situated below the foreleg and below the short ribs. According to Gil Marks, author of the Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, brisket, a cheaper cut of meat, was a frequent choice of the Jews of Eastern Europe who were often impoverished.

Brisket is also the topic of the December 18th event at the Center for Jewish History, organized by culinary curator Naama Shefi.

Mitchell Davis of the James Beard Foundation will moderate a panel discussion with Julia Moskin of The New York Times, Stephanie Pierson – author of Brisket Book, Daniel Delaney of Brisket Town, Noah Bernamoff of Mile End and butcher Jake Dickson. These brisket experts will discuss the dish’s history and origins, trends and cooking methods. They will also try to explain why and how it became one of NYC’s most beloved dishes, making it a NY cult food. Recipes and a reception will follow the program. “Gefilte Talks,” a previous event in this series, was informative and entertaining, so I’m looking forward to this one. Tickets are $15 general; $10 CJH members, seniors, students.

November 28, 2012 Posted by | event, Food | , | Leave a comment

Kalustyan’s: Global Selection of Spices and Sweets

If you’re looking for fenugeek seeds, vindaloo paste, dried porcini mushroom, green rice, or you just want your senses stimulated, then you must visit Kalustyan’s Spices and Sweets located at 123 Lexington Avenue (at 28th Street).

Kalustyan’s in Little India

K. Kalustyan opened this specialty food store in 1944, with a focus on Indian spices and groceries. When he passed away, the ownership and management was turned over to Marhaba International Inc. and the company added products from more than 30 countries — from Japan and China to Greece and Israel, and from Australia and England to Thailand and Vietnam.

Some of the products you’ll find at the store include: 180 varieties of tea, 30 varieties of dried whole chiles, 18 different kinds of ghee, and over 400 kinds of spices.

Spice room

Here are some other enticing products you can choose from at Kalustyan’s:

Salts of all colors and coarseness

Hot sauces from around the world

Dried beans for stews or soups

The store is opened Monday-Saturday 10am-8pm and Sundays and holidays from 11am-7pm

Luscious cinnamon sticks available as you check out

November 27, 2012 Posted by | Food, international, spices, sweets | , , | Leave a comment

Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture: New Exhibit Opens at American Museum of Natural History

Varieties of potatoes that no longer exist

Did you know that cookbooks didn’t exist until the 1800’s? Most people couldn’t read, so recipes were shared by word-of-mouth. How about the fact that in the 1500s we had 12 varieties of potatoes that no longer exist? Were you aware too, that some people can taste bitterness on their tongues but others (me included) can’t?

Press a button and “smell” fennel

These are some of the things that I learned at the multi-sensory, extremely creative interactive exhibit “Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture” at New York’s American Museum of Natural History. The exhibit, which opened November 17th and runs through August 11, 2013, looks at global food in a variety of ways: from farm to table and from growing to eating. Using beautiful photography and video, olfactory stations, and educational displays, one learns that what you choose to eat can shape the planet. Highlights from the exhibit include:

Interactive cooking table

At the Interactive Cooking Table four people at a time can try their virtual hands at cooking four different international dishes. Video projected on the table’s surface takes visitors through the recipes in five easy interactive steps. I “made” groundnut soup from West Africa. (See below for the recipe)

Apple tasting in the Whole Foods sponsored kitchen

A working kitchen, presented with Whole Foods Market, has live programming and features daily samplings. I tasted varieties of apples and learned how smell and taste are inter-connected.

Become a part of the exhibit via Instagram

You can become a part of the exhibit by posting a photo and caption of a memorable meal using Instagram with hashtag #CelebrateFood.

Groundnut soup


2 Tbsp olive oil, divided

1 lb chicken thighs, cubed

1 medium onions, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 large red peppers, chopped

1 small squash, cut into ½ inch cubes

1 medium yam or sweet potato, cut into ½ inch cubes

4 large carrots, cut in 1/2 inch cubes

2 cups crushed tomatoes

8 cups chicken stock

¼ tsp. pepper

½ tsp. cayenne pepper

1 tsp. ground coriander

2/3 cup ground roasted peanuts (or unsweetened peanut butter)

Salt to taste


  1. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large stock pot over medium high heat. Pat the chicken pieces dry, season them with salt, and brown them in the oil. Set the chicken pieces aside as they brown.
  2. Add 1 Tbsp. oil to the same pot. Lower the heat. add onions and garlic and sweat for two minutes.
  3. Add the pepper and sweat for one minute
  4. Add the squash, yam and carrots, and sweat for 8 minutes
  5. Stir in tomatoes, and simmer for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the browned chicken, the chicken stock, pepper, cayenne pepper and coriander and simmer for 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
  7. Turn the heat off, and stir in peanut butter until well blended.
  8. Serve over rice, or in a soup bowl.

November 22, 2012 Posted by | Food, Museums | , | Leave a comment

Welcome to NY Culinary Finds

A family friend from Israel, with a passion for food, came to visit me in New York. He wanted a culinary tour of New York City. In part he wanted to eat at great restaurants but he was also looking for unique and interesting shops and markets. His desire to see this side of New York inspired me to share some of my favorite culinary spots and uncover new ones. NY Culinary Finds is an outgrowth of this original food adventure.

What you’ll find here are places around the five boroughs that offer interesting products and experiences that satisfy your senses.  Though the initial places are Manhattan-based, stay tuned for great places to visit in other parts of New York City. And, I’d love to hear about any places; stores or markets you’ve been to that excite your culinary side.

November 22, 2012 Posted by | Food | , , | Leave a comment