Elysian Cafe (Hoboken)

What to do on a Thursday night in Hoboken when I am not trying to “hook-up” or get falling-down drunk? That’s easy. Ask Tommy:eats for a recommendation. And he came through like a champ!

My wife met some friends for early drinks and I drove down later to meet her for dinner. The only restaurant I know in Hoboken is Arthur’s Tavern, a fun place to go with a group, or with kids, but I can make a mediocre steak any time, so that was out. And of course Vito’s Deli (click for the music!) for the best Italian heroes on the planet. But Vito’s doesn’t serve martinis (if they did I would move to Hoboken).

Tommy pointed us towards a bistro just a few blocks from Vito’s, called Elysian Cafe. Continue reading “Elysian Cafe (Hoboken)”

Weird Looking Blog

I’ll be playing around a bit with the look of the blog, so don’t be shocked and nauseated by the way it looks. It will probably change several times,  hopefully for the better!

Ego, And Changing Recipes

I have worked on my barbecue dry-rub recipe for several years, and finally arrived at a mixture of the usual suspects (sugar, paprika, cayenne, and uh, some other stuff) that was pleasing to my palate and that of most of my guests. So what did I do? Screwed around with it! Pretty clever, huh? I didn’t even change the recipe that much, but I also changed the amount of the rub that I put on what I call the “knuckles,” — those chunks of meat and gristle and cartilage connected to the ribs. I have learned how to trim the pork racks so that they look great (and that will be the subject of another post), but obviously don’t want to discard perfectly good food, so I barbecue these knuckles separately, and toss them to any stray children and dogs who may be wandering around. Actually, they taste pretty damned good, so I’ll usually munch on them too. Part of the allure is the pungent taste of the rub. The pieces are small, so they get a big dose of the stuff in comparison to the ribs. And because the rub has lots of sugar, it’s an appealing combination of caramel from the cooked sugar, and the zing of the other spices. Good stuff, unless you are stupid and arrogant and don’t follow your own recipe.

Lesson learned. I promise never to short-change my palate or my guests. A full dose of rub is now guaranteed.

How Did We Ever Live Without This?

Ignoring the unarguable fact that this stuff is ugly, why would you want to eat your plate after a meal? And notice what it is made of — hardtack. I remember reading stories of sailing ships and the awful food they had after the fresh food was eaten. Hardtack played an important role in the hatred of shipboard life.

I’m Moving!

After struggling with a pretty pathetic blogging system I have decided to upgrade to WordPress. Wish me luck! Hopefully the change will occur seamlessly, but based on pretty much everything I know about the internet and computers, my hope is misplaced. I will eventually return to blogging, or just toss my computer out the window. Whatever does happen will happen in the next few days.


If you don’t know what a slider is, please, just go away. This post is for real eaters, and besides, a life without sliders is a life not worth living.

Here is an interesting blog about…well, you’ll have to guess from the name. But the guy has obviously made a careful study of how to make sliders, and he uses as his inspiration the best on the planet: White Manna.

Moules Frites

Ah, diet food! Well, not actually low in calories, but it is a relatively light meal, at least in comparison to a large bone-in rib steak. I went to the store with the expectation of returning with some large chunk of gilled (no, I have never tried whale) pelagic predator, otherwise known as tuna or swordfish. But the mussels looked so damned good and fresh, I received special dispensation from my wife to deviate from the plan. But what are mussels without French fries? Nothing! And quite conveniently, I had several great looking russet potatoes.* So, for no other reason than to be respectful of the history of the relationship between mussels and potatoes, I had to make fries. I won’t bore you with the details; just fry them twice, once at low temperature and once at high temperature. Continue reading “Moules Frites”

Steak, and that damned salt again!

A simple meal: pan seared rib steak with Tommy’s Potatoes. Nice and easy. But once again I was blindsided by pomposity (my own). It’s that damned salt again. Instead of using my standard Kosher salt, I ground a bit of Hiwa kai Black Hawaiian Sea Salt on both sides of the steak, and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper for good measure. I would love to take credit for cooking the steak perfectly*, and while it was cooked nicely, the kicker for the dish was that stupid, pompous, expensive salt. I love good quality ingredients in my cooking. But salt? Every time this happens I have less moral authority to poke fun at all of the jerks in the food world who pontificate about free-range tomatoes (at five bucks a pop!) and sustainable agriculture and happy, carefree, heirloom pigs.

The stuff is really good, and you should try it. Just don’t tell them that I sent you.

* 2 inch bone-in rib steak. Blazing hot cast-iron pan for about 3 minutes on each side, just enough for a good char, then into a hot oven for another 3 or 4 minutes. Let it rest for several minutes, and you’re done.

Pork And Super-Pork

If the past several years of the pontifications of many food writers are to be believed, the best foods are also the leanest. And if you can’t get beautiful, uniform, pristine, fatless pork, you are in some way unworthy of being considered a real cook. But fat is flavor, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Oh, there are techniques to extract amazingly concentrated flavors from lean meats and vegetables — just take a look at some of the French “cuisine minceur” cookbooks. The food is great! But it is a huge amount of work, inaccessible to most people. Can some foods taste great without fat? Of course. But some foods are simply better with fat, and pork may be at the top of that list. There has been pushback from some of the more interesting chefs, led, it seems, by David Chang, of Momofuku fame. Eat at one of his restaurants (if you can get in), and you will discover a man who revels in pork fat. His new restaurant, Ko, opens its reservations website at 10:00am and it’s full by 10:01am. I wouldn’t be surprised if his next venture is a spa in which the patrons are immersed in warm pork fat before being massaged by Rubenesque masseuses. Continue reading “Pork And Super-Pork”

A Reply From 9 North

I received a polite comment about my 9 North post…from the chef! I sent him the link because it’s tacky to criticize him behind his back. To his credit, he was nice, and didn’t tell me to stick my amateurish, asinine comments. He also pointed out that his steaks are indeed 21-day dry aged from a local company.

I think that Mr. Bernstein is a serious chef trying to create a serious restaurant, and I am going to take his food seriously. That means holding the experience to the standard that he is trying to reach, but hasn’t achieved yet. I think that he will get there.