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UPPER WEST SIDE — A new Mexican restaurant aimed at a young, boozy crowd opened Monday night on Amsterdam Avenue, replacing the more upscale Café Frida.
Orale Mexican Kitchen will serve “fun Mexican street food” along with dozens of specialty cocktails, including an all-you-can-drink weekend brunch, said co-owner Alex Mendelsohn. He partnered with restaurateur Louis Alvarez to open Orale’s second location, on Amsterdam Avenue at West 97th Street, after debuting the first together in Jersey City last April.
“We are a little bit playful,” Mendelsohn said of Orale’s approach to food, which includes a Mexican take on macaroni and cheese called “the Gringo” and a massive taco called “the Machine” that includes pork belly, roasted bone marrow and cabbage.
The Beyond Restaurants Group owns both Orale and Cafe Frida, which has another neighborhood location on Columbus Avenue at West 77th Street.
“We wanted to put in a younger and a bit more hip restaurant for the growing area, especially being near Columbia. We wanted to hone in on that,” Mendelsohn explained.
To lure in students and young groups, Orale will offer a two-hour, $20 all-you-can-drink session for weekend brunches beginning in about two weeks, he said. Happy hour will feature $5 frozen margaritas and sangria, as well as $3 beers, he added.
There’s a heavy focus on drinks, with a long list of cocktails and an entire section of classic American cocktails like the Old Fashioned and the Sazerac served with tequila.
On weekends, the outdoor patio will feature a keg of beer as part of the all-you-can-drink deal, running from 11:30 a.m. up until dinnertime, Mendelsohn said.
Murals of graffiti art and a wall of colorful Mexican sodas contribute to the youthful, fun atmosphere, he added.
The restaurant seats 60 people inside and 30 on the backyard patio, with lunch service starting in about a month.
Other Openings in the Neighborhood:
The father-son duo behind the Amsterdam Avenue Indian restaurant Swagat are opening a fancier offshoot of their eatery this week on Columbus Avenue at West 83rd Street.
Savoury, which seats 75 people, is aiming to attract groups for dinner, said Avishek Sharma, 26, who will manage the restaurant with his father Lala Sharma, 49, who will oversee the kitchen.
And while Swagat has a more traditional sensibility, with its emphasis on curries, Savoury has a broader range of dishes from across India featuring an array of fish and meat dishes, Avishek Sharma said.
The Sharmas’ goal is to make their food flavorful and enjoyable, but also healthy, he added.
“People have this perception that Indian food is greasy,” he said. “We’re trying to change that.”
The restaurant, which used to be a Lenny’s Sub Shop, has a narrow front leading to a larger space at the back that Avishek Sharma hopes will work in their favor.
Like Swagat, he wants Savoury to feel warm and inviting for families, but also entice the handful of celebrities living nearby who frequent Swagat.
Savoury will open its doors Friday, serving lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.
Hebden chef Jim Hirst cooking up new street food venture
8:00am Monday 17th March 2014 in News
Jim Hirst, who is teaming up with Dan Palmer to launch the street food initiative
The latest buzz in foodie circles is “street food”, which is an exciting and affordable way to try different cuisines and quality food at low prices.
Hoping to tap into the market are Hebden chef and entrepreneur Jim Hirst and business partner Dan Palmer, who have launched a Grub and Grog Shop.
It is a street food business which specialises in soups, stews and hot meals from around the world, made using fresh local ingredients.
It is currently a part-time venture, with Jim and Dan also working as chefs elsewhere, but they are keen to grow the business into a full venture. To do this, they need “wheels” and their aim is to convert a Land Rover Defender into a mobile shop.
“There are so many exciting opportunities in Skipton and the Dales over the coming year, with agricultural shows, festivals and, of course, Le Grand Depart,” said Jim. “Being fully mobile will broaden our potential customer base immensely and will hopefully put us on the local map.”
To help them achieve their aim, the two men have signed up for a “crowdfunding” initiative with Kickstarter.
It is a new business model which aims to attract sponsors, each of whom takes a small stake in a business idea while contributing towards an online funding target.
In return, rather than getting a monetary stake in the business, sponsors receive rewards. Some of Jim and Dan’s rewards include cookery lessons and personalised meals for ten.
“We have 30 days to raise the money with Kickstarter. We are really hoping our campaign will touch a chord with people,” said Jim.
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According to Smith, leaders hope to expand the program to a number of city parks during Friday nights this spring and summer. Those include: Historic Fourth Ward Park, Candler Park, Perkerson Park, Center Hill Park, East Lake Park and John A. White Park.
Under the new program, the city would cap the number of parking spaces at 18 at any given time, available to vendors on a first-come, first-served basis, Smith writes. Those spaces would be available from 7 a.m. to midnight. The program would be something of an about-face for the city, which was shutting down food-truck operations in Virginia-Highland and even the Atlanta Food Truck Park in 2012, citing licensing issues. Come to think of it, the Inman Park food truck lot didn’t last long, either.
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Trotter croquettes anyone? Street Food Cartel reveals latest menu
The culinary wizards at the Street Food Cartel are at it again this weekend. They’re at the Mackintosh Church at Queen’s Cross tomorrow night from 6pm.
They have just released the menu and it includes a few items that would make even Heston Blumenthal blush.
Singapore is officially the most expensive city for expatriates, according to new data from the Economist Intelligence Unit.
An average bottle of table wine now costs $US25 in the city-state, twice what it did 10 years ago.
But that doesn’t mean you have to blow a ton of cash on fantastic food in Singapore.
While Singapore has plenty of five-star fine dining options, most people opt to eat street food in the city’s inexpensive hawker centres, which are open-air food courts where vendors prepare everything from Malaysian curries to Indian roti and Chinese noodle soups.
We ate our way through Singapore on a trip last year, trying everything from hawker centres to fine restaurants. Here are the best things we ate.
Disclosure: Our trip to Singapore, including travel and lodging expenses, was sponsored by the Singapore Tourism Board.
But other cities somehow manage to survive despite a steady diet of road fill. One of the more unexpected is Helsinki, which kicks off its first street food festival, Streat Gastro, on March 22. Vendors from as far away as Cape Town, New York, Sweden and northern Finland will be on hand for the event, which will be served up in downtown Helsinki.
The vegetarian version of mohinga, Myanmar’s national dish, at La Puente’s Golden Owl restaurant.
In Southern California, there are probably thousands of Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese and Thai restaurants. But if you want Burmese food, from the country now known as Myanmar, you only have five choices in L.A. County. At one of these, the owner uses her expertise as a scientist — in the kitchen. Off-Ramp contributor CJ Greenspon reports.
La Puente’s Golden Owl restaurant adds a new layer to an already integrated cuisine. Owner Shwe Lynn Chin, who came to the United States in 1995 and settled in Silver Lake, says Burmese food is a fusion of Indian, Thai, Vietnamese and Cambodian food. Chin prides herself on providing light, healthy varieties of street food from her native Burma. And to the praise of many La Puente/West Covina residents, she offers a number of vegetarian and vegan dishes.
Shwe is a vegetarian herself and told us Golden Owl is one of the only places to find a vegetarian version of mohinga outside a Buddhist monastery. For the unfamiliar, mohinga is a catfish chowder, served with rice noodles, vegetables, fritters, seeds and sliced banana tree stems. This meal is so widely eaten in her homeland that it may be called the “National Dish of Myanmar.”
Prior to opening the Golden Owl, Shwe Lynn Chin worked with a biological research team at City of Hope, but family issues kept her from going further and pursuing her education. However, Chin always had a passion for cooking her homeland’s cuisine, and to a high standard.
The flavors of Burmese food are subtler that you might expect, compared to neighbor Thailand’s vibrant tastes. Chin says it’s important to her to keep seasoning simple, pairing minimal spices and sauces in balanced recipes to showcase the natural flavors and freshness of her ingredients.
And Chin stays true to her medical background by baking and braising rather than frying. She pointed out the danger of overheating refined cooking oil. The resulting spoiled oil is toxic, she says, and can stress human cells, which reduces their ability to fight free radicals and reactive intermediates.
So what exactly is the Golden Owl cooking up besides the beloved mohinga chowder? There are chicken, pork and tofu varieties of the savory garlic noodle bowl, along with the south Asian standard, coconut chicken noodle.
Perhaps the most visually striking offering is the rainbow salad. It’s a noodle salad, topped with purple cabbage, cucumbers, caramelized and red onions, carrots, tofu and potatoes, dressed in zesty soy sauce. There are also sandwiches and rice bowls for those looking for something familiar.
Looking to the future, Shwe Lynn Chin admitted she is still solidifying her recipe for lahpet, a pickled tea leaf salad that is distinct to Burma. She says it’s almost there.
The Golden Owl is at 16423 Maplegrove St., La Puente, CA 91744, (626) 917-1135
Inspired by the Asian Martabak or Caribbean roti, this is perfect street food and an exotic savoury snack that can be enjoyed on the go. The dough can be made in minutes and is a simple recipe with ingredients that every kitchen should have. After making the dough, allow it to rest for 20 minutes while you collect all your leftover ingredients.
Ingredients for 4 portions
For the dough:
250g bread flour
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
For the filling:
Leftovers; mashed potatoes, chopped roast potatoes, vegetables or any cooked meats.
Mix the dough ingredients well using your hands to form a soft bread-like dough. It’s as simple as that.
This pancake can be filled with any items. I suggest you cook off one shredded onion in some butter or oil, add a tablespoon of curry powder, then simply add in your leftovers – mix together and bind the filling. Think spicy bubble and squeak. It’s great with leftover mash or chopped roasted potatoes, vegetables and any cooked meats such as chicken or beef – just add spice. There’s always meat left on that roast chicken. Alternatively leftover cooked beef mince is a perfect option.
For the pancake, clear some space on a work top, and lightly oil the surface. Mold a tablespoon-sized bit of dough into a round ball and squash it using the palms of your hands. Gently use your finger tips in a circular motion to spread the dough out into a round, working from the inside out. The dough should be about the size of a medium-sized frying pan, and almost transparent.
Heat a non-stick pan on the stove and when the pan is hot, lift the pancake off the work surface and place it into the pan. Turn the heat down. After a minute the pancake will begin to colour. Add a large spoonful of your leftover creation into the middle of the dough. Use a palette knife to fold over the sides of the pancake to the centre creating a square parcel. Flip the pancake over and cook for a further two minutes. The filling at this stage will be heated through and ready to eat.
The dough will seal itself creating a square pasty-like parcel. Remove from the pan, cut in half and serve.
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If we would have asked you to list ten cities where tacos were popular, guaranteed Columbus wouldn’t have even entered your brain as a remote possibility. And your thought process would have been right on. A Latino/Hispanic population is barely present in the city, making up only 4.5% as reported in the 2012 census. Even Indianapolis has a larger percentage (7%). For the purpose of perspective, San Antonio is 61.2 percent. Los Angeles is 48.4 percent, and New York is 27.5 percent.
So what’s the deal with the taco trucks? Why do 40 trucks serve a range of Mexican and Latin American food from Oaxaca, Mexico City, Michoacn, Jalisco, Honduras, Colombia and Salvador? According to Bethia Woolf of Columbus Food Adventures, a food tour company that offers routes through the city’s food scene, says it has more to do with the law than anything else.
The taco truck scene relates not just to the Latino population size but food truck regulations, openness to food trucks and particularly openness to taco trucks, Woolf said. I think one of the joys of the Columbus taco truck scene is that it is unexpected. People dont expect a vibrant Mexican food truck scene here, but for a combination of reasons there is one.
If that’s not a shoulder shrug response, we don’t know what is. We suppose it simply proves once again that truth is indeed stranger than fiction.
[Photo: Columbus Food Adventures]
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