Tag Archive for: USA

Rustic Pizzeria

18 Dec
December 18, 2010

It was the last night in New York.  A full day of walking, playing tourist and basically trying to fit in as much as possible.  My feet were hurting.  Flu had completely wrapped it massive germy infested arms around me and I was not feeling great.  One thing on my list I still really wanted to do and had not achieved as yet, pizza.  I wanted to try New York style pizza.

Not really feeling like venturing far, with luck, Rustic Pizzeria was just a couple of blocks away from my hotel.

I love the way New Yorkers do pizza, Aussies have a lot to learn.  The fact you can buy by the slice is awesome, no need to buy a whole pizza.  Pick and choose as your taste buds desire.

The pizza is pre-made, you choose which slices you would like and they are popped back in to the pizza oven to finish cooking.  Pizza the way I love it, not heavy on toppings, served piping hot with a thin and crisp base, perfect!

I decided two slices would totally fill me up.  The slices are like they are from a pizza made for a giant.

I chose a slice of nice simple mozzarella, basil and tomato and a slice of pepperoni.  Simple and totally delicious.

Sara xxx

Pizza Rustica on Urbanspoon


Russ & Daughters Appetizers

08 Dec
December 8, 2010

Yes, still New York posts heading your way with a couple more to come.

Russ & Daughters was on my definite hit list when I was planning my trip to New York. I had seen Russ & Daughters on various food shows previously but it was a pod cast that I had subscribed to, “The Bowery Boys”, that really made me want to go visit.

If you are heading to NYC I strongly suggest their pod cast. The Bowery Boys are about the history of NYC which is presented in an entertaining way. The history to NYC is amazing and I really had a great feel of how the city was built after listening to them, and will admit my favourite ones were their Halloween specials, spooky New York, very cool.

There are two main things I love about Russ & Daughters beside the food, the rags to success story and the fact that “Daughters” appears in the business name.

Joel Russ emigrated to the USA from Europe, like so many Eastern European Jews, in 1907 and settled in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. This area was the centre of immigrant Jewish culture in NYC. He started his business selling polish mushrooms which he would cart around on top of his shoulders and sell. Eventually enough money was saved to buy a pushcart, then a horse and wagon.

He married Bella and they had three daughters, no sons. In 1904 Joel can finally afford to open his first store and then starts to sell salted/cured herring/salmon along with other produce. He does well and moves to larger premises in 1920, Russ & Daughters current location, but the store is called J Russ National Appetizing Store.

His three daughters learn the business and work with their father. Apparently men would come to see Joel’s beautiful daughters just as much as the great produce, and they all meet and married their husbands through the business.

Now this is the part that I love about the history of Russ & Daughters. In 1933 the business name is changed to Russ & Daughters Appetizers. It is the first time, it is believed, in history that the word “daughters” is used in a business name. As a woman I really appreciate what Joel did. Nobody acknowledged their daughters in business back then, but Joel Russ having three and no sons, did. Back in the day it was preferable to have “sons” in the business name, even if that resorted to referring to your son in law.

Russ & Daughters is still a family business run by the Russ family. The fourth generation is now working there. The Smithsonian Institute declared Russ & Daughters a part of New York’s cultural heritage in 2000.

Enough with the history lesson for today, but I do appreciate a good success story.

I visited on a Sunday and the place was packed. Packed with people and packed with produce. Quite honestly I was blown away with variety.

They have a range that I have not seen elsewhere, caviar, smoked/cured salmon, specialty smoked fish, herring, bagels, salads as well as dried fruit and sweets. Plus they stock other deli items to accompany your fish purchase.

I was gobsmacked by the range of cream cheese alone, plain, scallion (spring onion), vegetable, green olive, horseradish, caviar, lox, plus a tofu range of cream cheese that includes plain, scallion and lox.

Caviar, they have the real deal, plus trout roe, salmon roe as well as green wasabi roe. Blinis and crème fraiche are also available to accompany your caviar purchase, and why not pick up a mother of pearl spoon to serve with while you are there.

So many different types of smoked salmon, Irish Organic, Gaspe Nova, Danish, Scottish, Norwegian, belly lox, gravlax, pastrami cured, kippered salmon, Western Nova and pickled lox.

Their specialty smoked fish includes sturgeon, trout, chubs, sable, whitefish, mackerel and tuna.

The shop itself is not that big, it is actually quite long and narrow, but it is packed with an amazing range of smoked, cured and pickled product.

Of course I could not visit Russ and Daughters and not buy a bagel. As tempting as it was to try some of the produce I hadn’t seen before, I decided to keep it basic. Smoked salmon, horseradish & dill cream cheese and red onion. The bagels are made to order and the salmon is thinly sliced off the main fillet for you as the bagel is made.

I can honestly say that this was the best smoked salmon bagel I have ever had in my life. The bagel itself was wonderful. The salmon, incredible, so soft, flavoursome and just melted in your mouth. The dill cream cheese and onion, delicious. Also add to the equation that I am sitting on a bench in front of the store on East Houston Street while I munch away. Magical, pure pure magic. Special memories are made of this.

Sara xxx

Russ & Daughters on Urbanspoon

Sakagura NYC

16 Sep
September 16, 2010

I sit, ponder and plan where I will eat, what I will see and do before I head overseas.  Even when it is for business I try and work out what I can fit in. Of course my research is just a guide and some things are achieved and others aren’t.The joyof travel is finding something not expected. I expected fantastic food in NYC and I had plenty of it, but a chance conversation lead me to a restaurant that is regarded as a hidden jewel, and well hidden it is.

Sakagura was established in 1996 and is now one of the top sake bars in the USA. If you didn’t know it was there you would just walk right past it. Why? The entrance is actually an office building which looks like it is closed in the evenings. You walk in to the foyer and wonder where on earth you are meant to go next. You then find the stairs that you are to proceed down, walk along a corridor and then find this magical oasis. Tokyo in the basement of a NYC office building, amazing.

S4 S5Funnily though once I returned back to Sydney I saw Sakagura on an episode of No Reservations where Anthony Bourdain was discovering the non touristy side of NYC that he loves. Well done me for finding it before being told about it by a celebrity chef.

Besides having a reputation for sake they also take that care and pride in their food. This was an unexpected treat of a meal and I would have to say some of the best Japanese food I have had.

The staff are very knowledgeable in regard to sake (which would be expected) and more than willing to help the novice decide what would best suit their pallet. Myself being a novice with sake I tried their sample set which included three sakes they thought I may like. It is fun to compare the different sakes and then decide which one you prefer. I settled on a dry sake served cold.
S9It was so hard to decide what to have to eat as everything on the menu sounded so fantastic and a little bit different.S10Kamo Roast Negimaki: Sliced chilled roast duck wrapped around scallions with an accented basil sauce.

Holly molly this was to die for. The duck was just seared and served thinly sliced. It had a slight smokey flavour to the meat and the finely sliced green onion cut beautifully through the layer of fat on the duck.
S1Tatami Kwashiorkor: Dried sardine crackers, fried crisp and served with a spicy mayonnaise dip.

The spicy mayonnaise was sesame based and I didn’t find it at all spicy. The crackers reminded me of a Japanese style prawn cracker, nice and fishy, but not overpowering of sardine. Even though the mayo was not spicy it made a lovely companion to the crackers.

S2Uzaku: Grilled eel vinaigrette served with thin cucumber slices and wakame seaweed.
A mouth-watering balancing act of fatty eel with a slightly smoked flavour and crunchy cucumbers. The eel was soft and melted in your mouth, it wasn’t grainy as it can sometimes be.

S8Sakagura Special – Stewed Diced Pork: How can you go past the words special and diced pork?

This was the most tender pork belly I have ever eaten, melting in your mouth <Homer drool>. The broth was a light cleansing pork broth, with a hint of wasabi, which suited the richness of the pork belly.

I had no room for dessert, but I just had to have some anyway. As I had noticed Black Sesame Crème Brulee with Black Sesame Ice Cream on the menu. Bwaaaaaaa!!! They had just run out. So I opted for my next choice.
S7Sake Manju:  Sake Lees Bun stuffed with Red Beans served with Green Tea Sorbet.

The dessert was beautifully presented and the black sesame twist in my sorbet was a pleasant surprise and visually stunning. Sadly this was not my highlight of the meal and I sulked slightly as I watched the person next to me scoff down a delicious looking crème brulee, bwaaaaaa!!!S6If you do find yourself in NYC, Sakagura is well worth the visit.


211E 43rd St B1F
New York NY 10017 [Between 2nd& 3rd Aves]
Tel: 212.953.SAKE [7253]
Fax: 212.682.1951

Sakagura on Urbanspoon

Momofuku – Ssäm Bar

03 Jul
July 3, 2010

A very belated post from my New York trip back in January this year and there are more to come!

My foodie world has been, and still seems to be totally in love with David Chang and his baby Momofuku.  When I was in New York I decided I had to eat at one of his establishments, seemed a very obvious thing to do, so I decided the Momofuku Ssäm Bar would be my target.

This place is renowned for their bo ssäm, which consists of a whole butt of pork, dozen oysters, kimchi, rice and bibb lettuce.  The dish is designed to be shared with a minimum of 6 people.  Sadly I wasn’t going to be trying it, but the table next to me was, so at least I got to see what it looked like.

Momufuku Ssam Bar kitchenI had high expectations of Momofuku, for me it was a bit like a hyped up movie you go to see, it’s a good movie but you walk out wondering what all the hype is about.  Sadly that is what I thought of Momofuku’s Ssäm Bar.  The food was great, please don’t get me wrong in that respect, but it definitely wasn’t my best meal in New York.

Momofuku Ssam Bar CrabTo start off with I had the cracked Jonah crab claws.  The crab claws were sweet and juicy and they were accompanied with harissa mayonnaise which had a nice deep flavour to it.

Momofuku Ssam Bar Pork BunsThere was no way I wasn’t going to order these babies, steamed buns.  Light and fluffy steamed buns filled with pork belly, hoisin sauce, cucumbers scallions.  They come with chilli cause on the side which I actually forgot to put on.  The pork was melt in your mouth, loved them.

Momofuku Ssam Bar KimchiHoney crisp apple kimchi, jowl bacon, maple labne and arugula.  The apples were delightfully crisp and infused with the kimchi flavour.  The maple labne was mapley sweet but not overly so. The bacon was crispy with lines of fat through it.  The dish was a lovely combination of sweet, savoury and salty.

Momofuku Ssam Bar beef shinSichuan beef tendon served with green mango and peanuts. I really liked the concept of this salad.  The beef tendon was paper thin, there were lots of peanuts, but for some reason the dish was slightly lacking.  Maybe if they hadn’t been so light handed with the mango, I think this may of helped as the dish really relied on it.

When you dine out it isn’t just about the food, service is also a major point.  Sadly even though the restaurant was not that busy I felt rushed my whole meal, plates being cleared before finishing, that sort of thing.

Would I recommend the Ssäm Bar?  Sure, the steamed buns are wonderful, the food is good, but sadly did not live up to the hype.  If I was there with a party of 6 I would really love to try the bo ssäm

Sara xxx

Momofuku Ssäm Bar
207 2nd Ave. NYC 10003 | corner of 13th + second

Momofuku Ssäm Bar on Urbanspoon

Loose Meat Sandwich – Taylors Maid-Rite

16 Apr
April 16, 2010

maid rite sign

In January I excitedly visited my good bud Madame Iowa in her home town of Marshalltown, Iowa.

Now being a lover of all things edible the first thing I did after booking my tickets was to start searching the web for what Marshalltown had unique to offer in the way of the digestible.

Low and behold I came across the 80 year strong Taylors Maid-Rite and their loose meat sandwich. When I told Madame Iowa of my desire to go to Maid-Rite, she didn’t really understand why I was adamant on going, breathing “bloody Aussie” under her breath and I could feel her shaking her head at me on the other end of the phone.

She finally understood when I said “but Madame Iowa, we don’t have loose meat sandwiches here is Aus, I have to try one!” The promise was made to take me, yay!

When I eventually got to Marshalltown, I happened to arrive during their worst winter in ages. The weather had warmed up slightly when I got there and was no longer –22 degrees C, but it was still freezing. Snow was everywhere, the lakes were frozen and I was in my element, smiling the whole time. Madame Iowa just continued to shake her head at me every time I would go “ooooo look at the icicles hanging off that road sign/building/car etc”, “wow he is salting the street”, “oooo look the water in the gutter it’s frozen” and “ice storm, way cool”. Her response generally was “stupid bloody Aussie………(mumbled under breath), followed by “Sar, just don’t slip on your arse!” as I would try to capture all this on my camera.100_4671Trees just covered in ice, just soooo pretty

The day we went to Maid Rite there was an ice storm. Schools had been closed for the day and it seemed that nobody but Madame Iowa and I were out and about. We had to drive at about 20Km/hour around town as the roads were pretty iced up.maid rite outsideNow, if you are not aware, Americans call burgers “sandwiches” but you get use to the weird way they speak and how they call things (sticks tongue out at Madame Iowa as she reads this post xxxx). So in fact the loose meat sandwich is a loose meat burger.

We arrived safe and walked in to the diner, it is just so retro USA, I loved it. You are taken back to the 50s. I don’t think they have renovated since then, it is classic. We sat at the counter on our red padded bar stools, very cool. A Taylor’s Maid-Rite is a loose meat sandwich made of finely minced meat or finely ground hamburger if you are American. The mince is cooked and put in a bun, then served with mustard, pickles or chopped onions. You can have your meat either wet or dry. Wet has more juice to it and apparently keeps you more than regular, we went for the dry option.maid rite dinerNo cheese, no fries but now after 70 years ketchup/tomato sauce is available on the counter to add yourself if you desire.

There are about 6 shake flavours and I went for one that to me screamed USA and was a flavour for shakes we don’t find in Australia, peanut butter. The guy serving us asked me if I liked peanut and jelly sandwiches, “sure” I said, “who doesn’t”. So he said he would put a drop of raspberry flavour in with my peanut butter, assured me that it tastes fantastic and that if I didn’t like it he would make me a new one. The other staff were in disbelief that he was going to make me one.

They have sweet pies as well but we opted just to go for the sandwiches and shakes.maid rite sandwichThe sandwiches and shakes arrived, with our server pouring our shakes for us in to small glasses from their large silver milkshake containers. The weeks heading up to my arrival Madame Iowa had said she would pour my milkshake for me so I wouldn’t make a mess. Errr, think I can do it myself?? Now I understand, the shakes are what we would call a thick shake. These shakes are pretty solid so there is a bit of technique to it, shimmy and shake and you are right, get the technique wrong and you have ice cream mess everywhere. I am proud to say I was able to refill my glass and impressed the locals.maid rite shakeThe sandwich/burger was actually really nice. I sprinkled a little salt on the mince, seemed to be the thing to do, and it did actually need it. They don’t add flavour or spices to the mince and they grind their own.

My peanut butter and jelly shake tasted as described, the raspberry syrup they use is really like a jam, thick and sweet and I think it actually was peanut butter not a syrup that was used. They are a meal on their own and very filling. The guy who made my shake was happy I liked it and did a bit of a “told you so” to his fellow work mates. If you get to Iowa, it is worth a visit. There are a few franchises around beside the one in Marshalltown. They also deliver anywhere in the USA, seriously!

Sara xxx

Taylors Maid-Rite, 106 Sth 3rd Ave, Marshalltown
Taylor's Maid-Rite on Urbanspoon


13 Apr
April 13, 2010

This was “the” restaurant on my eat list for New York and when bookings opened 1 month prior to my arrival I booked.

I was surprised when I mentioned to foodie friends of my excitement of visiting WD-50, that a few of them had not heard of the restaurant nor it’s chef Wylie Dufresne. I first caught wind of Wylie on Top chef where he introduced contestants to molecular gastronomy. To me he is the American version of Heston Blumenthal, he is part scientist, part artist and pushes the boundaries to create incredible food.

Wd 50 signSince then I have seen him appear on many programs including Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, where Anthony commented he was quite surprised that Wylie was working in the kitchen still as he could quite easily have his own tv show, book deals etc. He is a hands on chef and is generally at the pass of his restaurant most nights. He loves what he does and that is reflected in his food. Read more →

Space Food – J F Kennedy Space Centre, Florida

18 Feb
February 18, 2010

When I was a kid, I spent quite a few evenings laying out on the lawn at my parents holiday house down the South Coast of NSW. I would lie there covered in Areoguard and listen to animals rustling in the trees, cicadas, the distant thumping of a kangaroo and the occasional splash in the river a few metres away. I love the sound of the bush at night and I do miss it a great deal. I didn’t go and lay on the grass for the noises, it was flat on my back to witness the best show off earth, our solar system.

To stare at the swirling mass the milky way. Watching stars twinkling like Christmas lights, picking the lights out that did not twinkle, looking for the saucepan, the southern cross and other constellations. I would get so excited when I would see something move, sometimes it was a distant plane so high up you could not hear it, sometimes it would be space junk or a meteorite burning up on entering our atmosphere, just whizzing by and then sometimes it would be a satellite or similar. I would watch and dream of what was out there.

My fascination for space has not cooled and when I knew I was going to be spending a couple of days in Florida on my trip to the USA, well, it was a no brainer on what I wanted to do. So after around 24 hours of traveling and only a few hours of sleep I found myself on a bus at 8am in the morning heading out to J F Kennedy Space Centre.

Guess what…………….. Astronauts eat!! So combine my love of food and my love of space, let’s just say I had a really awesome day.

Did you know that astronauts prefer tortillas over bread? “Of course” you say, “because they take up less room, right?” Errrrr nope. “They make great Frisbees?” I hear you say. Well yes they do, sure they can toss one and see if they fellow astronaut can catch it in their mouth, but that isn’t it. “So what then/”, I hear you ask. Well tortillas don’t make as many crumbs which can be dangerous in zero gravity. They could get stuck in an eye or a vital filter. Tortillas have been provided on every space mission since 1985 when they were introduced by Rodolfo Neri Vela a Mexican scientist. NASA acquire these partially dehydrated Frisbees from teh same company that supplied Taco Bell.

What else do they eat? Not as much as when they are on Earth, that’s for sure. They can eat and drink up to 70% less in space, this is due to the human body adapting to weightlessness. Food has changed over the years of space travel. The first person to eat in space was John Glenn in 1962 and it was applesauce. Imagine holding what looks like a toothpaste container to your mouth and squirting puree in to your mouth, oh so yummy. Hey but really would you care, you are in space! Food was very sedate for the early missions, you have to realise that humans were guinea pigs and space was such a new frontier, they had no idea how the body would react to food under zero gravity.

By the time the Apollo missions started NASA was serving nutritionally balanced meals with a variety of options. These meals were freeze-dried, dehydrated or thermo stabilised (heat treated to kill bacteria) and well guys it did not look like regular food.

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first men to set foot on the moon, they were also the first men to eat on the moon. They ate ham salad sandwiches, rehydrated beverages and fruit strips. There were four meals in total by the Apollo 11 crew which were eaten on the moon’s surface, and sadly today if you drop by the moon to have a look around you will find their garbage up there along with the lunar module they left behind. Go USA!! Maybe they will clean up one day??

refreshing drink – just add water

These days quite a elaborate variety of meals
are consumed on the International Space Station (ISS). When Japan sent their first crew member up in 2008 he brought along about 30 dishes with him. Apparently the freeze dried shrimp cocktail served with horseradish infused powered sauce is the most popular.

selection of space food

Due to storage issues and dietary restrictions astronauts can eat when and whatever they feel like. Astronauts are all allocated two cases to fill with any type of non perishable food such they wish, eg Pringles or M&Ms.

food tray and M&Ms

In 2008 astronaut and ISS crew member Sandra
Magnus was the first person to try and cook a meal in space. It took over an hour to saute some onions and garlic in the space stations food warmer, but the end result was a mesquite grilled tuna in a lemon garlic ginger marinade. Eaten from a bag obviously, but apparently truly delicious. 

scrambled eggs and biscuits


There isn’t a stove or fridge on the ISS, there aren’t knives or chairs either. Astronauts eat on a table which can be either strapped to themselves or a wall (think stable table size) and they eat with a spoon out of an aluminium pouch.

Coke Vs Pepsi Challenge – Coke has made it to space, Pepsi you lose

This girl was like a kid in a candy shop. I don’t think I stopped smiling the whole time I was there. It was awesome to see the space craft used in
previous missions. To see where the Space Shuttles are kept. To see the actual launch pads. Also saw alligators and armadillos. Awesome experience!

When lunch time came around for me during my visit to the Space Centre, it was a trip to the cafeteria where burgers, hot dogs, pizzas and salads were on the menu. Now, I wanted to try something that was not common in Australia, so I decided on a pulled pork sandwich and fries (yes I know we have fries). The pulled pork had a wonderful smokey flavour to it, I was pleasantly surprised.

When it came to a late afternoon snack I opted for Space Dots (candy cane flavour) of course, what else do you have when you are visiting a Space Centre! I have tried these before, in Hong Kong actually and well I am actually quite partial to them. The freaky, hard, extremely cold round dots of ice cream that stay separate from each other, yep they are unusual but I love them.

Soooooo……………….. what does one snack on when they are writing a post on space food. Why freeze dried ice cream of course, a cookies and cream ice cream sandwich. This was developed by request for one of the Apollo missions. Was not popular so it is not provided these days.

Now if we eat our bodies do need to get rid of the waste, and this is where they go on the ISS, nothing like strapping yourself in with a vacuum. Quite honestly it looks down right scary!

My visit to Kennedy Space Centre was a wonderful up close and personal look at our space history exploration. Many men and woman have risked their lives in exploration of really just the surface of what is out there. I want to also take a moment to pay my respect to those who lost their lives trying to explore an amazing frontier.