Scotch eggs for the win!

When out-of-town friends come to visit during the summer, they always want me to feed them the good stuff. They want the gimmicky food, the exotic food, the over-the-top food, the better-than-what-they-have-at-home food.

For all that and more, I always go to Smorgasburg, Brooklyn’s gluttonous weekend food fest.

Most recently, when I took a friend visiting me from Iowa, we tried a few dishes from different vendors, but both agreed the best thing we had all day, possibly all weekend, was a scotch egg from The Imperial Egg.

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From Smorgasburg’s Imperial Egg: Moroccan spiced lamb Scotch egg

Scotch eggs, in case you didn’t know, are boiled eggs, coated in sausage, breaded and deep fried. (Take a moment to let that sink in. Ok, you good? Let’s move on.) The Imperial Egg puts their own spin on scotch eggs by coating the actual eggs in different types of sausage, like the one we got, Moroccan spiced lamb with a drizzle of yogurt sauce.

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So sloppy, so freakin’ good

To make everything more delicious, the egg’s center was just undercooked enough that when it was poked with a fork, the thick, orangey yolk oozed out over the rest of it, making it a messy as hell affair to eat, but so very freakin’ worth it. The spiced lamb gave a rich, spicey meatiness to the egg’s smooth, yolkey inside, and the creamy yogurt sauce, combined with a bright, fiery hot sauce, added a nice heat and tang to round everything out.

If you ask me, Imperial Egg’s scotch egg would probably be enough to make me consider moving to New York, if I wasn’t already fortunate enough to live here.

Back for s’more!

I really wish I had a good reason for why I’ve been away since April. But, uhm, you see, thing is, uhh… well, I’ve got nothing. Not a new flame, not a new job, no new passport stamps, nothing. I’ve been here, doin’ my thang, which apparently didn’t include this, and really, for no other reason than I just haven’t been motivated.

That happens, right? You get it.You didn’t even notice so really, it’s ok.

Dominique Ansel's frozen s'more

Dominique Ansel’s frozen s’more

Glad we sorted that out, then. But now, you see, now I’m back, because if there’s anyone who could bring me back to my humble little bloggity blog, it’s Dominique Ansel and his always-crazy-delicious bakery creations, the most recent to hit my mouth, the frozen s’more.

The frozen s’more is a hunk of vanilla custard ice cream, coated in chocolate, all inside a fat marshmallow coating of deliciousness that then gets the blow torch treatment to oh-so-perfectly char and caramelize the outside. It’s even served on a long wooden stick (alla campfire marshmallows) for extra fun eating. You bite into this thing and the outside is warm and gooey while the inside oozes chocolate and the very core of it retains the creamy, cold ice cream.

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Gooey greatness

I never really thought s’mores were something that needed to be improved but dammit if DA didn’t go and do exactly that. They already had the great blend of textures and flavors going on for them and now he went and added a cool, creamy center? Mind. Blown. And perfect for these muggy summer days (when my brain basically shuts down anyway)!

Come think of it, maybe the occasional frozen s’more is what I need to get the creative juices flowing…

The bagel game just got crazy

Remember that time a couple of weeks ago when I ate that weird bagel with seaweed and salmon roe and I tried to tell you it was awesome and you just kind of thought I had lost my fat mind? Well brace yourself. Things just got weirder but SOOO much more delicious. Be open minded, will you?

Yup, this bagel is black.

Yup, this bagel is black.

So I went back to Black Seed Bagels for this week’s special collaboration guest bagel, and man was it everything. From the evil genius minds of Mission Cantina’s Danny Bowien and Angela Dimayuga, (Mission Cantina, in case you don’t already know has the best burrito I’ve ever had. Ever.) this week’s special is a squid-ink bagel with anchovy butter and Iberico ham.

Go ahead and marinate on that for a minute.

First of all, yes, this bagel, flecked with white poppy seeds like reverse freckles, is black as a piece of coal. At first glimpse, it looks like a charred, burnt bagel. But it’s not, it’s just squid ink, which I have to tell you, gives it the dark color but not much of the weird, inky, fishy flavor you might already be imagining and scrunching your nose at. Inside, the bagel is smeared with a delicious, salty anchovy butter and layered with thick ribbons of Iberico ham, that beautiful, fat-marbled sexy Spanish cousin of prosciutto. Yes, you can taste the anchovies (for me, not a problem since they were on every pizza my dad ever ordered when I was a kid, making me grow to actually like them) but it’s not an overpowering taste. The buttery, melts-on-your tongue, slightly chewy quality of the ham was more dominant and tied everything together, making for a really decadent, rich, fatty (in a good way. A very good way.) start to the day.

I mean, c'mon! Look at this ol' pile of deliciousness!

I mean, c’mon! Look at this ol’ pile of deliciousness!

I get that some of these special bagels at Black Seed are just novelty items, things you have once, Instagram them, and then go back to your ol’ everything bagel with plain cream cheese routine, but maaaaaan, I wish they’d keep this one around (past April 5th).

Ice cream to cure indecision

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Nothing makes my maddening indecision flare up like standing in front of the supermarket’s freezer section of ice cream, trying to choose just one flavor to take with me. If I’m by myself, I can easily clock up to fifteen minutes standing there, my eyes darting between cookie dough and dulce de leche, coconut and mint chocolate chip, rum raisin and plain ol’ vanilla. (If I’m with someone else, I’ll make a quick choice and then spend the duration of my check out time second guessing my selection.)

I was in exactly this state of mental turmoil Sunday night when I saw a pint of Van Leeuwen ice cream that stopped me right in my indecisive tracks: the limited edition Selamat Pagi curried nuts and salted caramel swirl in vanilla ice cream. Boom. Decision made.

A sticky, sweet, creamy, crunchy, salty, curried heap of deliciousness

A sticky, sweet, creamy, crunchy, salty, curried heap of deliciousness

No sooner had I run home, than I threw everything on the kitchen table and without unpacking anything other than my pint of ice cream, dug a spoon right into the soft, gooey, caramely heart of it. It was simultaneously smooth and creamy, sweet from the vanilla and savory from the curried nuts, just a hint of salty from the thick ribbons and swirls of salted caramel and both spicy and crunchy from the  nuts.

It took everything in me not to eat the whole pint in one ravenous sitting. So instead I polished off half right then and there (in front of my unpacked groceries) and the other half the next night. It was some of my finer decision making, if I do say so myself.

Bagel mashups and collabos

While I could definitely go on regaling you with tales of Cambodian food from January (which now seems soooo long ago), it’s important to live in the here and now, and the current here and now is New York. And as for what I’m eating in the said here and now? Bagels, the most quintessential of New York foods, if you ask me.

Black Seed Bagels, located just a few blocks from where I work, had been on my to-do list since they opened last year, but it wasn’t until I read about their chef collaborations that I actually went to check them out.

Each week for the next month or so, Black Seed will feature a bagel special from a different well known chef, and this week’s bagel (available until Sunday the 15th) is from ramen whiz Ivan Orkin, a self-proclaimed “japanophile.”

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Ivan Orkin’s Japanese-Everything-Spice Black Seed Bagel

A play on the regular everything bagel (my usual go-to), his instead is a Japanese-Everything-Spice bagel with aonori (seaweed) cream cheese and ikura (salmon roe) egg salad, both of which are smeared on thick and generously so that every bite oozes sloppy deliciousness in every direction. Egg salad is one of my favorite things ever so a big ol’ bagel piled high with it, spoke directly to me. Smooth and creamy like the best egg salads, this one had the extra added flavor and texture surprise of fat, orange pearls of ikura or salmon roe. Their slightly briney taste were a nice complement to the seaweed flecked cream cheese and the eggy, creaminess of the egg salad.

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Every bit as delicious as it was sloppy and messy and perfect

In a perfect world, I’d love to start all of my mornings with this Japanese meets New York mash up of a messy, delicious bagel creation, but alas, that can’t be the case. Or I mean, it could be the case but then I’d probably have to fill my closet with mumus. So, for now, Ivan Orkin’s bagel will have to be it… until next week, that is, when there’s a whole new bagel and a whole new here and now to discuss.

A tasty mess

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Crab catching in Kep

Even though I love crab and lobster meat, I’ve never been a big fan of eating either straight from the shell. The whole business of cracking and shucking, slurping and mess-making just doesn’t appeal to me, especially since I’ve always felt that crustaceans are basically insects of the sea (and might I remind you, I don’t do bugs).

But while I was in the seaside town of Kep in Cambodia last month, I put all of that aside and had one of the best meals of my whole trip. Part of me going to Cambodia was to venture out of my comfort zone, and with a seafood cracker in hand and slippery bits of crab all over the place, I was definitely there.

During my stay in the sleepy riverside city of Kampot, a place famous for its pepper production, (fun fact: all of the pepper in Cambodia comes from Kampot… or so I was told. Fact check if you will.) I took a day trip to Kep, which happens to be famous for its crab market. Located right at the water’s edge, the Kep crab market is both a large open air market selling heaps of crabs and other seafood, and a collection of small restaurants that prepare the crab to be eaten right then and there.

Fried crab in Kampot pepper sauce

Fried crab in Kampot pepper sauce

My guide for the day, a funny little tuk tuk driver I hired to show me around, brought me to Kimly Seafood Restaurant, what he said was his go-to spot for cheap and delicious crab. I asked him what he thought was the thing to get and without a moment’s hesitation he said the fried crab in Kampot pepper sauce. He opted for the boiled crab, instead, which came out in all its freaky, underwater bug glory.

Boiled crab, creepy looking but tasty

Boiled crab, creepy looking but tasty

Both plates came out we each attacked our foods, one of us successfully and with all the finesse of a seasoned pro and one of us like a hot, wasteful mess. I don’t need to tell you who was who, but I’ll add this much: my guide turned parent when he had to crack all my crab for me, pulling out chunks of tender crab meat and tossing the empty shells aside, like I was big, dumb child.

The Kampot pepper sauce was creamy, and spicy, and a perfect match to the soft, sweet crab meat. It ended up almost up to my elbows, all over my face and on a thousand and one napkins littered across the table. It was an absolute mess but every bit as delicious as it was sloppy.

The one thing I won’t eat

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Cambodian rest stop grub

As a reasonably adventurous eater, I’ve had, and will continue to try, a lot of questionable, sometimes gross stuff. Bull testicles, I’m lookin’ at you. (Yes, I’ve eaten them.  As a kid, at an Argentine family friend’s barbeque, my mother let me load up a plate full of different kinds of meat, only explaining what was what after the plate was clean. Thanks, mom.) But the ONE thing I won’t eat, won’t even try a tiny smidge of, won’t even touch, are bugs. Insects. Creepy crawlers. Call ’em what you want. This girl right here is NOT eating them.

And in Cambodia, I saw lots of them… as food. During a bathroom break on a bus ride from Siem Reap to Battambang, for example, I saw them being sold as a snack at a make shift rest stop. Not a vending machine or Burger King in sight.

I wasn’t sure what the woman was peddling and thought it might’ve been nuts, but when I leaned down to look closer, they were unmistakably creepy little bugs, looking just as crunchy and disgusting as I’ve imagined in my nightmares.

Nope, not doing it.

Nope, not doing it.

I looked on in horror, but another hungry, far more adventurous traveler next to me, a young guy from Canada, didn’t think twice about buying a whole bag of them. He tossed a couple into his mouth while I fought back the urge to projectile vomit.

“Mmm, not bad,” he said, chewing his mouthful of bugs like a horse with some hay. “Kind of salty. They’re actually pretty good. Here, try one!”

Obviously, I did no such thing.