Saturday, July 18, 2009

Oy Vey, Cuvee

The other day the Mysterious Chinese Woman and I popped into Pete's Waterfront Ale House looking for Sam. We still hadn't seen him since I made my South Carolina style pulled pork sandwiches and I wanted to thank him for the cooking advice. We also had an ulterior motive:

Duck Confit

You may remember that I was a bit disappointed that Braeburn's didn't have it on the menu the last time I visited. Well, I must have put out some vibes because a few days later it was a special at Pete's. I first had duck confit in Paris and tend to get it anytime I see it on the menu here. I also have made it myself and, if I do say so, it turned out really well. Traditionally a French dish, the chef, Jim, put a bit of a Cajun spin on it here serving it with black beans instead of the tradtional white beans and a spicy andouillie instead of a more traditional game sausage. I used a rabbit sausage when I made mine.

Confit was originally a method of preserving game birds. It involves heavily salting the meat and then slowly cooking it in lard. When the meat is thorougly cooked it is then stored in the lard and will keep for quite a long time. Now it is prepared just for the flavor and, this is important, much less salt should be used.

The Finished Product

It was quite tasty but, in my opinion, a bit too salty. Remember, the old recipes call for way more salt than is traditionally used today. You can still keep this dish in your refrigerator for up to a month, however, if you keep the meat covered in the lard. And it is best if you refrigerate it for a least a couple of days before serving it.

The Chips Were A Nice Touch

I had a couple of the Brooklyn Brewery Brewery's Cuvee de Cardoz to wash down my meal. This is that limited edition beer that was concocted by Chef Floyd Cardoz of Tabla and Brewmaster Garrett Oliver. It is a wheat beer seasoned with spices picked out by Chef Cardoz and then toasted and ground before adding. These included ginger, tamarind, mace, black pepper, corriander, fennel, fenugreek, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and chilies. As you can imagine, this beer has all the flavor that you could ever want. Simply delicious and, at around 8% alcohol, it packs a punch. I will keep ordering this at Pete's until they run out.

Comfy With My Confit And Beer

I do love Paris but, quite frankly, I love where I live more. Not as pretty a city, I will grant you that, but with the abundance of French bistros within walking distance of where I live and the occasional French bistro fare at Pete's Waterfront Ale House, what more could I ask for. And you can't get that Brooklyn Cuvee de Cardoz in Paris.

Waterfront Ale House on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 17, 2009

Gowanus Canal Mess

If you read my last post, or several others, you will have seen me kvetch about how New York, to a large extent, totally misuses their abundant waterways. A prime example is the mile-long Gowanus Canal, a truly disgusting, polluted, raw sewage and chemical filled, smelly canal that runs through a section of Brooklyn. In most other cities this would have long ago been cleaned up and lined with walkways, restaurants, shops, you name it. Not here though. It is as it has always been, a cesspool.

Now, in what is the most convoluted logic yet, New York is fighting to prevent it from being declared a Superfund cite and receiving Federal money to help clean it up. Their official reason is that the city can do a better job of cleaning it up themselves. Oh, and they are going to rely on voluntary payments from polluters to fund the effort. Good luck with that. Most of the original polluters are long gone and out of business and I doubt if those that are still around will volunteer anything.

Amazing that in the almost thirty years that I have lived here the city had done nothing to clean up the Gowanus Canal but now, all of a sudden, they can do a better job than the Federal government.

Here is but one example of the city's ineptitude. There is a large flushing pump at the end of the canal that just kind of dead ends. This was designed to keep the water circulating to avoid it just becoming stagnant. This pump broke over 40 years ago but was repaired and reactivated in 1988. Due to who knows what it wasn't repaired and activated until 1999. Since it's activation the water quality has improved somewhat, but the canal hasn't been dredged since 1975. Oh, and the pump needs to be repaired again, and that is scheduled to take two years during which it will not be fully operable. Not even sure if the repair work has started though.

By the way, the real reason for the city refusing the Superfund offer is the concern that potential developers will not want to build in the area if it is classified a Superfund site. Oh, but they will flock to the area if it remains a polluted mess?

Next week I am going to takes some strolls along the canal and post pictures so you can see how this neat little waterway is now being utilized. Of course you won't be able to see much of the pollution. In fact, the violet sheen to the water actually photographs pretty well.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Art Show But No Artie Shaw

After our brunch at Kevin's we headed down to the new Fairway that has opened up. Nice place, and they really tried to preserve the building that they took over. Ikea tried to do the same thing, but they somehow fell short.

The New Ikea

It is still kind of a rough area down here, at least in terms of the decaying structures. Makes for kind of an interesting neighborhood though. This is the shot of right behind the Fairway and next to the abandoned warehouse that housed the Art Show.

Not A Golf Fairway

You can still see the remnants from when this was a much more vibrant port. Much of the business has now moved to New Jersey so there is a lot of just plain old decay here. Kind of strange. Beautiful location, right on the water, nice views of the Statue of Liberty. New York has to rate at the very top of totally mismanaging waterfront property.

Should Be Hotels, Restaurants, And A Marina

Of course the geese like it. The reason we have so many geese here is that someone, in their infinite wisdom, thought they would be a nice addition to New York City. So they captured a bunch of Canadian geese and clipped their wings so they couldn't migrate. A few breedings later and the new geese don't know how to migrate anymore. Oh well, aside from being aggressive, messy, and bringing down the odd airplane they don't do any harm.

Don't Fool With Mother Nature

I was inspired by the Art Show so decided to take a few pictures for my next exhibition. I shall entitle it "Windows."

Window 1

Window 2

I took these shots from windows in the abandoned warehouse where the Art Show was held. I don't think Arden Suydam has anything to worry about.

We were going to head back to Ikea to catch their free shuttle home but, what a coincidence, we passed right by Rocky Sullivan's

Well, It Is Here

So, of course, we popped in and wet our whistle a bit.

Whistle Being Wetted

Me Too

We had a couple of Six Points beers. Hey, they brew them in the back. I had a very hoppy IPA and the Mysterious Chinese Woman had a nice Summer Wheat.

We decided to just catch the 61 bus back home because it stops right in front of Pete's Waterfront Ale House (and right in front of Rocky's as well) and I wanted to stop in and tell Sam that the pork that I cooked to his specifications came out just perfect. Alas, Sam wasn't there.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Kevin's, But No Hobbes

The Mysterious Chinese Woman and I headed back to Red Hook to take in an art show that was displaying some photographs of a friend of mine, Arden Suydam. We, without too much effort, decided to head back to Kevin's for a bit of a nosh.

The Venerable Kevin's

It is always nice to start out with a spot of coffee, and they brew a mean pot here. My sister-in-law, the one who lives in Minnesota, has a cafe and coffee shop, the Left Bank Cafe. I often order my coffee beans from her, so I do kind of know good coffee. Kevin's is right up there with the best.

The Olde French Press

You have to love the warning labels on everything these days.


Usually I put the children in a cauldron and then add the hot fluids. My bad.

I decided to try something a bit different this time. I had the Adirondack instead of the Chesapeake. Similar, except this time instead of crab cakes on the toast they served smoked trout on the side on a bed of greens with a nice horseradish dill sauce.

The Adirondack

My friend Gene, Kevin's brother, is the creator of this nice little dish.

The Mysterious Chinese Woman knew what she was going to have before we even got there. She just loved her seafood stew that she had the last time and, by golly, she had it again.

I See Her Point

A Succulent Morsel, And Nice Fish, Too

Kevin's on Urbanspoon

There are a couple of places right across the street from Kevin's that also look interesting. I will have to come back one evening and try them out.

Brooklyn Ice House

Red Hook Bait & Tackle Shop; Fishing Club + Bar

Not too far from here is a VFW Club, so I popped in and talked to Bob, the head of the Membership Committee. Now, if I can dig out my discharge papers, I will send them to him to get an application for a membership. It is easy enough to get to from my house by bus and looks like it might be a fun place.

We headed on to the Art Show and I will post a few pictures from there tomorrow. Don't expect too much though, I didn't take any pictures of any of the art work.

Monday, July 13, 2009

And This Is Fun?

As you may know, I have been going to a few Staten Island Yankees games lately. This is just a Class A league so the quality of play is, well, not too good. But it is cheap, the food is free, and they serve decent and reasonably priced beers. They also have some very strange between the innings entertainment.

A regular feature is what they call Lemonhead. Now you tell me why this is supposed to be fun and why any parent would participate.

You start out with a bunch of pre-toddlers lined up with their parents.

Oh, How Cute

Then, one by one, the baby's faces are displayed up on the video screen.

Time For Your Close-Up

Next, and I find this morbidly fascinating, one of the parents gives the child a swallow of lemon juice.

You Can Trust Me

And then the aftermath of the swallow is displayed for the crowd to enjoy.

Isn't This Hilarious?

Finally, the crowd determines which baby had the "funniest" response by applauding for their favorite.

Am I missing something here? I predict long sessions on a therapist's couch for some of these kids. And what kind of a parent would actually subject their young child to something like this just to get a laugh?

There is much in life that Bar Man doesn't understand.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

No Cooking

Well, I had intended to prepare a meal last Thursday, or whenever, it begins to blur, but a friend invited us out to lunch and we had a big meal at Queen so no dinner. Instead The Mysterious Chinese Woman and I took a stroll down Atlantic Avenue to pop into Pete's Waterfront Ale House for a beer or two or three.

Between where I live and the old watering hole is this bookstore that just recently opened.

Ye Olde Book Shoppe

I am kind of a sucker for bookstores. I used to like to hang out in the Barnes & Noble down the block for me. Unfortunately it has turned into kind of a hangout for high school kids. They literally sprawl all over the floor in groups and it makes just getting to books difficult. This has been going on for quite awhile now and, for whatever reason, management doesn't seem to do anything about it. I have pretty much stopped going there.

This bookstore is kind of fun though, with all kinds of clutter (much like my apartment) and all kinds of interesting discoveries to be made.

The Way A Bookstore Should Look

It is kind of a mini-Strand, and just a fun place to spend some time browsing.

Hidden Treasures

Oh, Look, Another Hidden Treasure

I stumbled upon a book that I studied religously when I was still in high school. It was only four bucks, a discount from its original price of ten bucks when it was first published in 1961.

A Flashback To My Misspent Youth

Now I have to track down the companion book, Scarne On Cards, that I liked even better. Scarne was a magician specializing in sleight of hand card manipulation. He also became quite the expert in gambling and gave lectures and demonstrations to military personnel teaching them how to avoid being fleeced by card sharps and cheats. His books are still some of the best I have ever read about card playing and gambling in general. I credit them for whatever limited success I have had in playing poker.

Anyway, we then headed on down to Pete's Waterfront Ale House and ran into a few other regulars.

Andy, Adam, and Greg

We were being ably served by Jerry, the bartender.

Jerry, The Bartender

We stayed long enough to start acting a bit foolish, but then what else is new?

One Beer Over The Line

Bar Man thinks he needs to start doing a few more situps.

We stayed long enough for the changing of the bartenders.


You may remember from some of my previous posts that Dimitri also sings and plays guitar in a pretty dynamite band, the Black Coffee Blues Band. You should try to catch them. Of course they will probably be playing at this year's Atlantic Antic, October 4th. Mark your calendar.

I think Dimitri is begining to look a bit like Severus Snape.

I finally did a bit of cooking for a birthday party I went to yesterday. Interestingly, or not, I stopped into Pete's Waterfront Ale House on my way to pick up a couple of pork butts to make North Carolina style pulled pork sandwiches. Sam, an owner and manager there asked me how I was going to prepare them. I said I didn't have a smoker here in Brooklyn so was just going to do them in my over, about 300 degrees for around 5 hours. He said "Nope, 185 degrees for 14 hours."

Well, let me tell you. That was what I did and I have never had such tender pork butts in my life. The meat just fell apart, which you want it to do for these sandwiches, and they were really juicy. Absolutely fabulous. I owe Sam one.

Perfectly Done

After Cooling It Just Fell Apart

I had given them a rubdown with a nice Chipotle Chili powder and then injected them with a chipotle, garlic, lime juice concoction before putting them in the oven. Sam recommended an infusion with apple juice, and I will do that next time, but this worked out pretty well.

After it was all shredded I sprinkled it generously with kosher salt and some coarsely ground pepper and then stirred it all in.

Salted and Peppered

I then made a North Carolina style sauce, vinegar and mustard based. Pretty easy, just mixed up some cider vinegar, French's plain yellow mustard, and a couple of bottles (while, a couple of bottles minus two swigs) of Original Sin Hard Cider. Just cooked it down over a low heat until it thickened up a bit, poured it through a sieve, and voila, that's really all there is to it.

Poured On, But Not Stirred In

I stirred it all in and put it into a large container so it could kind of fester a bit. Then we schlepped it out to Long Island for the Lovely Loretta's birthday party where I reheated it and served it with potato buns. I know, traditionally you would serve this on a plain white bread like Wonder Bread or something. But I like potato buns. They also had some cole slaw out there and these sandwiches taste best, in my humble opinion, with a bit of that on top of the meat.

This was the first time I tried this particular recipe, and certainly the first time I ever cooked the pork that long at such a low temperature. But I will do it again. I got a lot of compliments and even one request for the recipe.

Today the Mysterious Chinese Woman and I plan on heading back to Kevin's for another brunch and then on to an art show in Red Hook. A friend of ours, Arden Suydam is displaying his work there. He is a photographer and one of his pictures "Night Crossing" has been featured in the promotions for the show. It is kind of an eerie picture of people crossing the Brooklyn Bridge at night.

Night Crossing By Arden Suydam

I should have some pictures to post about our trip tomorrow. Maybe I will check out Rocky Sullivan's to see if they are having any rooftop music later this afternoon.