TASTES | Nellie and Joe’s invigorates

NellieandJoesNellie and Joe’s Key West Lime Juice is a must for your pantry.

The A and P in Bronxville, hardly a complete encyclopedia of groceries, is still full of surprises. One is Nellie and Joe’s Key West Lime Juice, which I first started buying about a year ago.

I’m so taken with the stuff that I’ve started using it as a standard ingredient in my beloved Pegu Clubs, gin cocktails that demand the complements of lime juice and orange curacao and are topped off with both Angostura and orange bitters. While I don’t necessarily mind fresh lime juice, it’s proved handier to keep this ingredient in the refrigerator. I’ve found it to be a consistent and tasty alternative. Key limes yield a juice that’s more bitter and tart than regular limes.

Since 1968, Nellie and Joe have been delivering the Key West tradition of juice from key limes to the nation. Their line has since expanded to include a range of marinades. The juice obviously has other uses than simply in cocktails. I plan to get after Mrs. F. to make some key lime pies.

Retail price for Nellie and Joe’s is about $3.49 and the juice can be purchased online at the Southern Connoisseur, a purveyor of specialty food items.

EATS | Ed’s Lobster Bar begins an odyssey

EdsLobsterBarA lobster roll, served with fries, during a recent trip to Ed’s Lobster Bar.

All last summer, over the winter and into this summer, the drumbeat in New York has grown louder and louder. Emerging from deep in the city’s collective psyche, the desire for lobster rolls has grown and grown. “Lobster rolls.” “Lobster rolls.” “Lobster rolls.”

Everyone is going crazy for them, including Mrs. F. and I. It’s as if we’re all search of that perfect lobster roll of memory. Two come to mind for me: one from Cap’n Cass, the Rock Harbor, Mass. seafood icon, the other from Nickerson Fish and Lobster at the Chatham Fish Pier.

Benjamin dug into the craze in a recent New York feature on the lobster glut. Among the purveyors Wallace mentioned in his story was Ed’s Lobster Bar, a Lafayette Street galley that Mrs. F. and I recently visited.

The brainchild of Ed McFarland, a former sous-chef at Pearl Oyster Bar, Ed’s feels like a well-worn seaside stalwart. As I say, the place is a galley — terribly narrow — and most of the seating is crowded around a long, marble-topped bar. It’s quite loud and there’s a wait, but it’s worth standing outside for 20 minutes and enduring an impossibly sloshed cadre of Southern belles.

We split a dozen Malpeques, which were quite good. I ordered the roll and Mrs. F. had a piece of grilled tilefish, which she said was quite nice. The roll was splendid, if not as glorious as the aforementioned versions on the Cape. Served on a tiny buttered roll, the lobster salad very nicely executed. Not too much mayonnaise and not too much spice. The cocktails were also good. An old friend from New Jersey whose boyfriend is a seafood aficionado recommended the chili-infused Margarita. Definitely worth another visit, though you ought to be warned that the roll is priced a bit high at $28.

We’re going to be exploring a couple of other lobster-roll meccas through the rest of the summer. Stay tuned.

Ed’s Lobster Bar
222 Lafayette Street at Spring
New York, New York 10012
(212) 343-3236

EATS | Tipsy Parson, an outpost of Southern cooking in Chelsea

TipsyParsonTipsy Parson, a glorious little cafe on 9th Avenue at 20th Street.

My sisters-in-law continue to gather their possessions in a new Chelsea apartment and my in-laws descended from Buffalo this weekend to help shepherd the process. On Saturday morning, my mother-in-law and I set to making Father’s Day brunch arrangements and, following the advice of New York magazine, we selected Tipsy Parson.

Located on 9th Avenue at 20th Street, Tipsy Parson is a charming little café whose offerings have both enthused and disappointed in Manhattan’s foodie circles. Count us in the former camp, as were quite impressed with the brunch offerings at the place, whose glance is assuredly anchored in a southward direction. Adam Platt, in his February review in New York magazine, was disappointed that glance didn’t reach south enough. Oh well. We were pleased.

We’ll begin with cocktails, an essential part of the ejforbes.com ethos. Mrs. F., my sister-in-law, Chrissy and I were all satisfied with our Bloody Marys. Served in Collins glasses and garnished with olives, they were billed as “smoky” on the menu. We didn’t pick up on that, but were impressed that the drinks were neither too strong nor too spicy. On the contrary, I thought there was just enough horseradish.

Most of our party ordered some variation on eggs. Mrs. F. and my sister-in-law, Leigh, selected eggs baked with fresh chorizo, queso fresco, sauteéd greens. I tasted Mrs. F’s and was impressed. My mother-in-law and Chrissy each opted for mushroom toast: eggs scrambled with herb ricotta topped with sauteéd wild mushrooms and served on toasted potato bread. No complaints. Pete, Chrissy’s amiable associate, went for the lemon-cornmeal pancakes, which he said he enjoyed. My father-in-law and I kept it simple and ordered granola with yogurt and berry compote. The berries were fresh and delicious and the granola included flaxseed, pumpkin seeds and almonds. Delicious.

Other options on the brunch menu that I’d try in the future are the Catfish Po’boy, chicory salad and a pimento cheeseburger. Given the close proximity to my sisters-in-laws’ apartment, I hope we get to try TP out for dinner too. The rest of the cocktail menu looked quite interesting and I really liked the way the bar area was set up. As you walk into the place, there’s a casual sitting area with needlepointed stools and walls that feature trompe l’oeil coverings made to look like bookshelves. The back dining room, where we ate, features a long, well-worn dining table. Staffordshire dogs were perched on shelves alongside a collection of silver and glass plates.

Tipsy Parson opened late in 2009 and is the western sister of Little Giant, the fashionable Lower East Side joint that counts legions of New Yorkers as fans.

If you have occasion to be in Chelsea, give TP a try.

Tipsy Parson
156 Ninth Avenue (between 19th and 20th streets)
New York, NY 10011
(2120 620.4545 telephone
(212)918.9259 facsimile

EATS | Ted’s Hot Dogs, another Western New York classicg

TedssignThe sign outside the Amherst, N.Y. location of Ted’s Hot Dogs.

Long have I heard glorious tales of Ted’s Hot Dogs, the iconic Buffalo food stands. My wife, my in-laws and food celebrities around the world have raved about the place. Alas, in the six years I’ve been shuffling off to visit Mrs. F’s family, I’d never been there. I’d never experienced the char-grilled wonder, nor had I washed it down with Loganberry. I was empty, lost and hungry.

Then, at last, fate intervened. On our recent trip to Buffalo, Mrs. F. and I ran an errand in close proximity to the Amherst location. Embarrassed that she had not shared the culinary riches of Ted’s, Mrs. F. treated me to lunch. And what a lunch it was.

The hot dogs were glorious, lovingly grilled over charcoal and topped in my case with mustard. A special hot sauce is also available, as are relish, onions and ketchup. For sides, we opted for both french fries and onion rings, each of which were rendered perfectly. Liquid nourishment was in the form of Aunt Rosie’s Loganberry, the raspberry-flavored pop that’s a tradition in Southern Ontario and Western New York. The soda has its routs in Crystal Beach, the popular Lake Erie resort.

Chicken breasts and hamburgers were also available, though we didn’t partake of them. While it’s difficult to do, I have to rank Ted’s above Stewart’s, the New Jersey chain I’ve written about previously. I would, at some point, love the chance to eat Ted’s hot dogs with Stewart’s root beer. That would be a barbecue match made in heaven. Ted’s does serve Mug root beer, but that doesn’t compare.

I strongly recommend Ted’s to all my readers and though I was deprived of it for ages, it’s a must for any trip to Buffalo.

2351 Niagara Falls Blvd.
Amherst, NY 14228
(716) 691-7883

4878 Transit Road
Depew, NY 14043
(716) 668-7533

6230 Shimer Road
Lockport, NY 14094
(716) 439-4386

North Tonawanda
333 Meadow Drive
N. Tonawanda, NY 14120
(716) 693-1960

Orchard Park
3193 Orchard Park Road
Orchard Park, NY 14127
(716) 675-4662

Tempe, AZ
1755 E. Broadway
Tempe, AZ 85282
(480) 968-6678

2312 Sheridan Drive
Tonawanda, NY 14150
(716) 834-6287

7018 Transit Road
Williamsville, NY 14221
(716) 633-1700

BEER | Dale’s Pale Ale, canned in Colordo, was perfect for today

DalesDale’s Pale Ale, a new favorite.

Beer and I used to be quite close. Too close, probably. But that was college and since, as I’ve mostly relied on Scotch and, in the last two years, a range of cocktails to satiate.

Some months ago though, while enduring the White Plains Whole Foods on a Saturday morning (a dark, dark time to travel to the county seat for any errand), I happened upon the beer aisle. The predictable stuff was there: Samuel Smith, Dogfish Head, PBR. There was another canned beer that intrigued: Dale’s Pale Ale. Pale ales have always been favorites and I was fascinated by the idea of a canned offering. Interrupted by Mrs F., who wanted to head to the cheese case, I left my curiosity in the beer aisle.

In Arizona, hopping around Tucson with Maxie, I rediscovered it.

We bought a couple of cans at Plaza Liquors and consumed them for lunch back at his spread. The glorious hoppiness delighted us both, as did the fact that we were drinking a pale ale from a can.

Brewed by Oskar Blues Brewery in Lyons, Colo. since 2002, Dale’s claims to be the nation’s first canned pale ale. I’m not the first to sing its praises. Dale’s has received plaudits from the Times, who have crowned it the best American pale ale and also at the World Beer Championships, where the beer won a gold medal this year.

It’s a perfect and speedy remedy on unexpectedly hot days like today. I strongly endorse it.

Dale’s Pale Ale
Available in better liquor and grocery stores; at Fairway and Whole Foods in Westchester

TASTES| Pimento cheese journeys north

PimentoA batch of Pimento Cheese concocted by Mrs. F for Derby Day.

A couple of weeks ago now, thinking about what she might make for the Derby Day party we were getting together with friends Tim and Lindsey, Mrs. F. asked if I’d like her to make a batch of Pimento Cheese, the southern delicacy we’d read about last year on Trip Reed’s very fine blog, A Trip Down South. I replied that I would and she set to work.

Using a recipe she tracked down in “The Joy of Cooking” and advice we garnered from Trip and his blog, to add Worcestshire and hot sauces and some finely diced onion and to use not too much mayonnaise, she set to work.

The result was marvelous and proved a hit at the party. We finished a second batch at cocktail hour last night. “Joy” reports that a Pimento Cheese recipe appeared in its editions from the 1930s to the 1960s and that the 1936 cookbook called the recipe “a grand spread for hot or cold sandwiches.”

Definitely old fashioned and definitely not something I’d want to eat every week, it definitely is a classic appetizer. We served it with crackers and, as Trip recommended, with celery.

Here’s the recipe from our copy of “Joy,” with adjustments:

Pimento Cheese
In a medium bowl, combine:
• 1 four-ounce jar of chopped pimentos (or roasted red peppers if you prefer)
• 3/4 cup of mayonnaise or less, depending on your taste
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 1 small onion, finely diced
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon dry mustard
• 1 teaspoon Worcestshire sauce
• 1 teaspoon ground red pepper
• Hot sauce

Beat with a wooden spood or an electric mixer at medium speed until blended. Then add 4 cups of grated Cheddar. Mix until you’ve got the consistency of cottage cheese.

Again, serve with crackers and celery and enjoy.

TASTES| Terrell’s chips are Syracuse classics

Terrell'sTerrell’s Potato Chips, produced in Syracuse, are admired all across upstate New York.

Somewhere around the start of my junior year at St. Lawrence, I became aware of Terrell’s Potato Chips. My first encounter with these miracles from Syracuse may well have been at Bessette’s, the remarkable beer store that opened on Route 11 in Canton around 2000. I’ve been a devotee since.

Founded in 1961 by William Terrell, a food distributor who’d been working in the Syracuse market since 1946, the company today offers what seems to me to be a vast line of chips and other snacks. William Terrell’s son, James, took control of the company in 1975 and, in 1997, he passed the reins to his son, Jack.

Among the classic offerings I enjoy are the Dinosaur Barbecue-flavored chips you see in the picture to the left, the Sour Cream and Onion and the Cheddar. The chips, still manufactured in a plant on Midland Park Drive in Syracuse, are distributed across upstate New York and also in parts of Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. They’re easily recognized by Terrell’s classic “T” logo.

A couple of weeks ago, my mother-in-law, a Liverpool, N.Y. native, came down to Cheever Country for a visit. Having attended a conference in Syracuse, she came bearing swag: Dinosaur-flavored Terrell’s. They were glorious.

Terrell’s Potato Chip Co., Inc.
218 Midler Park Drive
Syracuse, NY 13206
(315) 437-2786

DINING| El Parador Cafe, Manhattan’s oldest Mexican restaurant

El ParadorEl Parador Cafe, New York’s venerable Mexican restaurant, is another wonderful institution of Old New York.

My mother-in-law has been down from Buffalo for a few days. We spent Sunday in town, stopping off at MoMa for the fantastic, if mobbed, Tim Burton exhibit. After battling the crowds, we made our way down to Murray Hill where my sister-in-law, Leigh, lives.

For dinner, Leigh recommended we stay close to home and so we settled on El Parador Cafe, located just passed the eastern terminus of the Queens-Midtown tunnel on 34th Street. It doesn’t look like terribly much from the outside. A faded awning covers a faded red door and an unassuming stucco exterior. The menu, displayed in a barred, seemed adequate, but we weren’t expecting anything near the revelation we had.

As we waited to be seated, I poked around the vestibule to look for matchbooks. Though there were none to be found, I did discover old framed reviews from the late and much lamented Herald-Tribune, the Times and New York Newsday. I knew immediately that I’d stepped into another wonderful institution of Old New York.

First established in 1959 on Second Avenue at 31st Street by Carlos Jacott, El Parador is owned today by the father-and-son team of Manuel and Alex Alejandro. They’ve preserved a 1959ish vibe at the 34th Street location. Perforated tin lanterns provide a delightfully muted light. Elaborately carved chairs with rush seats surround surprisingly formal tables. A soundtrack heavy on salsa and other Latin classics adds to the charm.

And the food. I can’t say enough how impressed we were. Freshly-baked corn chips were served with two varieties of salsa, one warm and one cool. The latter had terrific cinnamon notes we’d never before encountered. The guacamole was also terrific and was correctly served in a well-worn lavastone molcajete. Mrs. F. and Leigh took a look at the vegetarian menu, which is available if you ask for it, and decided to share some black-bean-and-spinach and chicken enchiladas. My mother-in-law and Caitlin, Leigh’s roommate and a very good friend of all, both raved about their chicken fajitas. After weighing my options and almost going with a Chilean sea bass served grilled and in lobster broth, I instead selected the Ropa Vieja Mexicana. Caitlin and Leigh, whose friends had previously discovered the wonders of El Parador, strongly recommended my choice. Served with black beans and tasty plantain tostones, my skirt steak was a dream.

Drinks, too, were spot on. The ladies enjoyed a pitcher of red sangria and Mrs. F. allowed me to sneak a sample. Not too sweet and hardly absent of the requisite fruit flavors. My margarita was also concocted and served by the book.

So, if you’re looking for quality Mexican that’s neither trendy or one step away from street food, get thee to El Parador. I guarantee you’ll be as pleasantly surprised as we were.

El Parador Cafe
325 E. 34th St. near Second Ave.
New York, NY 10016
(212) 679-6812

GEAR| Considering rubber boots as spring approaches

As I sit down to write this, the third major winter storm of the season blankets Westchester. Though it’s hard to tell given heavy drifting, better than a foot of snow has fallen since yesterday morning. Still, my mind is elsewhere, about six weeks ahead, at the start of spring.

A change in my professional life that’s due to take place in March will afford Mrs. F. and I the opportunity to travel north to the Adirondacks and west to my parent’s cottage in the Catskills with greater frequency. I’ll be doing a lot more tramping through the woods and, with luck, a little fishing. As such, I’m in the market for some new rubber boots. I’ve lost an old, black pair acquired at the late, lamented Ames in Canton, and now I’m in the market for something a bit more serious.

Given that Hunter seems to have passed irrevocably to the domain of women’s fashion, their products been taken off the table. I’ve narrowed it down to three options: Le Chameau, Aigle and LaCrosse.

Here are pros and cons of each:

LaCrosse Burly
BurlyOriginally manufactured in La Crosse, Wisconsin, the Burly is something of an American icon, albeit one that’s sadly manufactured offshore today. Still, despite that sad fact, the Burly Air-Grip, with its pinned outsole seems a very comfortable and practical boot. At $70, the price is also pretty palatable.

These also make a claim for comfort. Were I intending to use these boots for short durations of time doing outdoor chores, I’d simply replace the black-and-reds. I’d like something I’ll be comfortable in for several hours. LaCrosse alleges a special fit around the ankle that makes their boots comfortable. A removable felt insole also breeds confidence for comfort. LaCrosse boots draw endorsements from outdoor correspondent Steve Reynolds and also from occasional contributor Jamie Welsh, who also spends a lot of time outdoors in the Adirondacks.

LaCrosse Burly Air-Grip Hunting Boots
From $70

Aigle Benylsport
AigleA step up from the Burly, at least in price, is the Aigle Benylsport. Aigle is a venerable French firm, established in 1853 by Hiram Hutchinson, an American emigre who’d obtained a license for fellow American Charles Goodyear’s vulcanisation process. They made a concerted effort to enter the American market in the middle of the decade and have since been picked up J. Crew, which continues to position itself as a department store of all things good by partnering with suppliers like Sperry, Converse, Ray-Ban, Barracuta, Barbour and so on.

The Benylsport appears to be the Aigle base model. It closely resembles its British counterpart, the Hunter, with a heavy-duty tread and and adjustable closure. It’s four layers of rubber are apparently heat- and tear-resistant.

Though I like the idea that these are still made in France, the $138 price tag is less attractive. Still, I’m convinced the Benylsport is a quality boot. Here’s a video on Aigle:

Aigle Benylsport
From $138

Le Chameau Chasseur
ChasseurWithout a doubt, Le Chameau’s Chasseur is the Cadillac, no, the Rolls-Royce of rubber hunting boots. These come highly recommended from some of the chaps at the Curriculum and while I’m sure they’re worth every penny of their $400 price tag, I probably won’t be able to bite on these with good conscience.

Like Aigle, Le Chameau is based in France and its boots have been made there since 1927. The firm’s Chasseur is its classic hunting model. Among its features are a waterproof zipper that runs the length of the boot and is secured at the entry by an adjustable snap strap. Buffered by a gusset, the zipper is a very attractive characteristic: one of the annoyances of rubber boot is pulling them on and off. The zipper eliminates that frustration. Another attraction is the full-grain, calf-leather lining, one that I’m sure makes these all the sturdier.

The rubber used by Le Chameau is also impressive. Harvested from Hevea trees, the natural rubber used in the boots is top-of-the-line. A single craftsman assembles each pair from start to finish. It’s a job that takes nine months of training to master. Fascinating.

Take a look at the Le Chameau process:

Available at various locations in New York City and in Dutchess County.
From $419.

While the decision has not yet been firmly made, I’m leaning toward the LaCrosse Burlys because of their economy and their endorsement from friends in the north. What thoughts do you have, readers?

TASTES | Citrus salad warms winter dinners

CitrusSaladThis citrus salad, which combines orange, blood orange and grapefruit offers a taste of warmer weather in the dark hours of winter.

As I’ve written before, I’m deeply involved in a dalliance with citrus. I eat a grapefruit every morning. I’m obsessed with limeade and lime-flavored soda. I’ve never met a cocktail or a piece of fried fish that didn’t work just a bit better with a bit of lemon juice. So it should come as no surprise that Mrs. F. suggested a recipe from last week’s Times dining section to me recently.

Endorsed by Mark Bittman in his Minimalist blog, the recipe was for a citrus salad that draws on grapefruit, blood oranges and navel oranges. Dressed with red onions, and a honey-tarragon viniagrette, it’s a perfect start for any meal.

From Bittman, here’s the recipe:

2 blood oranges or tangerines
1 pink grapefruit
1 navel orange
1/2 small red onion or 1 shallot, chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon honey
Lime or lemon juice to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly chopped tarragon or a pinch dried.

1. Peel citrus, removing as much pith as possible, and slice into wheels. Remove any pits, layer fruit on a serving dish, sprinkle with salt and garnish with chopped onion.

2. Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, honey, lime juice and tarragon until well combined; taste, adjust seasoning as needed and drizzle over salad.

Yield: 4 servings.

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