June 29, 2011

The Filling Station

by Janice

I had a chance to visit The Filling Station at Chelsea Market and scored some fantastic goods!  The Filling Station sells exotic salts, specialty oils and exotic vinegars. What I love most about this place, besides its foodstuffs, is their concept and design. All of their products are packaged in sleek glass jars and bottles. If you return with your clean, empty bottle, they’ll give you a 10% discount on the refill! Tres environmentally gourmet!

In this package, I received a bottle of California Olive Oil, Chocolate Balsamic and Himalayan Pink Sea Salt. My favorite product out of this bunch was the Chocolate Balsamic, which is a cross between a silky chocolate bar, and a soft, tangy balsalmic. The chocolate balances out the acidity in the balsamic, making it almost slurpable. It tastes great on a strawberry salad and mixed greens, or really just about any thing that needs a sweet tang.

My second favorite product is the Himalayan pink sea salt. It’s grainy crystals are a soft coral color, courtesy of the iron oxide in the salt, and its taste is somewhere between kosher salt and regular table salt. It’s light and perfect for seasoning fish and summer veggies.

If you ever find yourself near the Chelsea Market, I encourage that you stop by or you can check out their site here.

May 9, 2011

Scrabble: Cooking Edition

by Janice

Calling all gourmandizing word-Nazis . . . the “Cooking” edition of Scrabble is FINALLY here!

This Scrabble is slightly different than it’s original version. It allows players to earn additional bonus points for words relating to foodie pastimes and throws in recipe cards for a customize game-play. It even comes with a cute “shopping bag” for storing your tiles.

Talk about appetizing alphabetical vittles for the brain!

You can find Scrabble: Cooking Edition here.

April 18, 2011

The Perfect Cup of Coffee

by Janice

I am a huge, HUGE, coffee fan, but I always limit myself to one cup a day because of the caffeine. I’m more of a quality over quantity gal, so a good cup of coffee, made with quality beans, is like heaven to me. Only recently are Americans being made aware of different regional coffees (thank you, Starbucks). Some are still very clueless and think that a cup is just a cup of joe. It isn’t. Nowhere near. The same stuff that’s sold in supermarket, sans a few brands, is not true coffee. It’s roasted only half way, called Commercial Roast, and often times it’s just as flavorful as dishwater anyway.

What makes a good cup of coffee?

Well, first off, the water is often crucial. While NYC has very good tap water, it rivals other states, I often tell people that filtered water is best. Why is that? Because if you have ho-hum tasting water—or the lovely chlorinated kind from my dear homeland, New Jersey, you are going to taste it in your coffee. Chlorinated cup of freshly-brewed coffee? Pass!

Next, the beans. Now, I often go back and fourth with freshly ground and pre-ground. Freshly ground does win, but not by much. A newly opened a bag of pre-ground beans, used up in a reasonable amount of time, yields delicious coffee. It’s good to note that coffee does not last indefinitely. The grounds will still be there, and while they will not mold, the lovely oils do evaporate and that equals lost flavor. Storing your coffee in the fridge/freezer does not make it last longer, only allows it to accumulate a nasty freezer flavor. Couple that with chlorinated water and I’d say you have the most disgusting cup of coffee in the world. Don’t believe me? Try it.

Starbucks brand is one of my favorite kind of beans. They roast their coffee longer than other commercial brands. Compare Sanka grounds to ANY Starbucks brand, they are darker, which means a fuller, more developed flavor. But if you are against big-time coffee conglomerates, another brand that’s pretty comparable are the Hispanic espresso brands: El Pico, Bustello (a Cuban favorite). Illy is also good too.

My favorite method of making any kind of coffee is using two tablespoons per mug of water– a standard mug will do. I have discovered that a great way to measure a regular sized mug is to use the carafe on the coffee maker. Each US mug is about the 2 cup line on the carafe or two tablespoons of coffee to 6 ounces of water.  For two regular sized mugs you measure up to the 4-cup line and add 4 tablespoons of coffee. For three people, 6 cup line and 6 tbsps and so on.

And now you know how to make a PERFECT cup of coffee. Enjoy!

April 9, 2011

Wine Men of Gotham: Shiraz

by Janice

I’m a big HUGE fan of red wines. One of my “go-to” reds is Shiraz. I love the plum-ey, peppery flavor that attacks my tongue. I love its light,  clean finish. This wine from The Wine Men of Gotham is unlike any shiraz I’ve tasted, and I love it.

It’s a dark, plum colored wine, and the first taste note that I picked up was chocolate! Yes, chocolate! Imagine my glee when I confirmed this on the site!  What stood out for me was the texture of the wine, it was silky, like drinking velvet. The spices were present, but they were not the piquant spices that I’m used to, but a soft hint of spice. It rounds off with oak and then a soft tannic finish. Perfect when paired with a sizzling steak or by itself!

The taste, the name, the illustrated label, I think I found a new love!

This wine can be found at Mc Key’s Liquors on 86th Street in the heart of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, NY.

March 4, 2011

Alentejana-Style Pork and Clams: Part 2

by Janice

The clam meat is juicy and plump. The pork is so tender, it cuts with a fork. The potatoes are golden and crisp and the broth– SPECTACULAR! When eating this, I dig in for the clams first, then the pork. The cilantro gives the meaty meal a refreshing brightness to the dish. It is my personal opinion that you cannot have too much cilantro—EVER. It compliments the broth so well, I end up slurping the remainder out of my bowl. I’m not sure if that’s customary or not, but I know it was delicious. :)

I ended up adding nearly 4lbs of clams since it is another one of my personal beliefs that you can never have too many clams.

This dish takes a while to assemble, first with searing the meat in batches, the prep of the other ingredients and then the full cook-time. Unfortunately, it went down the hatch quicker than it was assembled (about two minutes), but it was worth it. As mentioned in my previous post, I first experienced this dish at Fernandes Steak House in Newark, NJ.

This recipe comes close, really close, to their version.

Alentejana-Style Pork and Clams

1 3-pound boneless pork shoulder or butt, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup dry white wine, I used vermouth
4 cloves garlic, chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 yellow onions, roughly chopped
3 (I used 4) pounds small clams such as Manila, well scrubbed
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. Rub pork in the Amped Up Red Pepper Paste, add a cup of dry white wine (dry vermouth works well too) and marinate for 24-36 hours.  Then drain the pork, reserving the marinade. Pat the meat dry with paper towels.

**Note: patting the meat dry is important to achieve a nice sear.

2. In a large frying pan over medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Working in batches, brown the pork cubes on all sides until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate.

3. In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the onions and saute until soft, 8-10 minutes. 4 cloves garlic and cook, stirring occasionally about 5 minutes. Add the browned pork to the onion mixture along with the reserved marinade, cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook until the pork is tender, about 1 hour. Check from time to time and add more wine if it’s looking too dry.

4. Add the clams, discarding any that are open or have broken shells, cover, raise the heat to high, and cook until the clams open, about 5 minutes. (Toss any clams that failed to open.)

5. Transfer the pork and clams to a serving dish and sprinkle with the cilantro and parsley and devour immediately!

February 23, 2011

Alentejan-Style Pork and Clams: Part 1

by Janice

Amped Up Red Pepper Paste for the Alentejan-Style Pork and Clams (not pictured)

Tonight, inspiration hit and I decided to make what is considered part one of this delicious dish, David’s version of massa de pimentão (Red Bell Pepper Paste, or as David calls it, “Amped-Up Red Pepper Paste“).The difference in this recipe is that sweet and smoked paprika are used as the “pimentão”, while the original recipe consists of heavily  salt-cured red bell peppers.

I first tasted this lovely Portuguese dish in Fernandes Steak House in Newark, NJ a few years back, and I’ve never forgotten it. In fact, I went out there again in September and it tasted just as good as the last time I had it.

This dish hails from Alentejo, Portugal. This specific recipe that I have chosen comes from my favorite Portuguese foodie blogger, David Leite (http://leitesculinaria.com/).


Recipe is an adaptation from David Leite’s book, The New Portuguese Table

2 Tbsp Sweet Paprika

2 Tbsp Sweet Smoked Paprika

1/4 Dry Red Wine

10 Garlic Cloves

2 Laurel Bay Leaves

1 Tbsp Tomato paste

1 1/2 Tbsp Freshly-Squeezed Lemon Juice

7 sprigs of Fresh Cilantro

5 sprigs of Fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley

1 1/2 Tbsp Kosher Salt

1/2 Teaspoon of Freshly Ground Black Pepper

A few dashes of hot sauce (store bought is fine)

1/4 cup Olive Oil

1. Dump both paprikas, wine, garlic, bay leaves, tomato paste, lemon juice, cilantro, parsley, salt, pepper, hot sauce into food processor and pulse til herbs and garlic are minced.

2. While motor is running stream olive oil and continue spinning until the paste comes together, about 1 min if your food processor is as fast as mine. Mixture will keep for a month in fridge.

After making this, I mixed it in with about 3lbs of cubed pork shoulder and vermouth and letting it marinate for two days. The recipe calls for white wine, but if you don’t have any on hand, like I did, dry vermouth is an excellent substitution.

Stay tuned for part two of this delectable dish!

February 11, 2011

Hello Foodies Everywhere!

by Janice

Devouring NYC is a vast platter of small bites to whet the appetite of gourmands everywhere. It’s an adventure in food, a re-visit of the classics and the creation of new recipes reported to you by me, Janice Ventura.

My story is quite simple. Armed with good taste and a love for the written word, the idea was a no-brainer.

Let me share my thoughts with the world.”

No fancy overseas trip to some exotic locale, no extended 6 month stays in Europe. Just a gal trudging through a concrete jungle, scaling skyscrapers with a cookbook as her guide in search of food that exhilarates the palette.

Welcome and enjoy!


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