Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ranting Raving Foodie

Food. Everything about it is right, correct, perfect – when we theorize about it in its purest, it exists in the forms. When our senses are fully observant, in their most unreserved ways, not conscious – but instinctive, on some evolutionary plane – eating is a truly sacred act. Ambrosia, the mythical food of the gods, was filled with magical and restorative properties. The ancients reserved the best cuts of the animal as offerings to their deities. Our most religious of acts require the denial or consumption of food. In Christianity, Jesus and his disciples prepared for his impending crucifixion with the breaking of bread. The Lenten period before Easter, in the most Orthodox of senses requires that observers deny meats for 40 days. In Hinduism, food is fundamental in creation – as the source of life, happiness, health, pain, and suffering. Without romanticizing the history, revolutionaries and radicals have employed Gandhian hunger strike methods as powerful political tools. Biologically built into our pleasure drive, we seek it – it fulfills our survival needs, and quenches our quest for contentment. Food is simple and beautiful. Food as we know it today, in our microwaveable, flash frozen, dehydrated, Yellow 5, restaurant chain, buffet line, life sapping, glutton orgy of face gorging has gone wrong. This isn’t to say that millions don’t enjoy their honey glazed chicken quesadilla, served right out of the freezer at the local applebe…tgi..friendly’s. What it does mean is that there is a fundamental, cultural disconnect with how we treat and perceive food.

Why the disconnect? In a country where its abundance makes it easy to find it in all forms, consume it at any hour, devour more than necessary.

Is it time? Money? Our capitalist chromosomes require that we value our time, and the money that we produce in that time is to be treasured. Often we budget our meals, not just around money, but also around the clock. Consider that cafeterias, fast food chains, drive-thru’s are usually more accessible during the standard lunch break than the grocer. Our homes are usually too far away to return to for a shared meal. In this world, high quantity, heavily flavored, fast (fat), equals quality. Unlike in older nations, most metropolitans lack an agrarian ancestry. Whereas, the middle meal, the break from work, is often the largest throughout the world – and this was born out of necessity.

I could continue on, about a myriad different issues. Ultimately, the adage “you are what you eat” rings true – there is great philosophical merit to the statement. What does our attitude towards food say about us as a nation? Does it say that we are efficient, fast, affordable, democratic? Or does it say that we are artificial, that we lack substance, that we are cheap and dangerous? I don’t know, but I suspect the answer lies somewhere in the gray area. - Alexandros Orphanides

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Heavy on the pasta, light on the pocket...

In sticking with our tradition of showcasing neighborhood staples that cater to our inner foodie without breaking the bank, we present Pepe Rosso's. In the heart of the expensive and trendy SoHo, there is still hope for an affordable meal at Pepe's. Located at 149 Sullivan Street, between Prince and Houston Street, Pepe's serves as a hot bed for the mixing of SoHo neighbors, travelers and the like. The place is tight, yet cozy so don't be surprised to learn that the person sitting next to you is your high school best friend's roommate.

As for us, the foodie troopers set out for an enjoyable mid-week late lunch at Pepe Rossos: antipasti for two and two pasta dishes to pair with it. Our antipasti, a platter of air cured beef, arugula, goat cheese and truffle oil was the perfect leading plate for any pasta dish. The air cured beef, bresaola in Italiano, is a salty cured meat, sliced thin like prosciutto yet much leaner and is commonly served with arugola and parmesan cheese. Pepe's serves the meat, cheese and arugula with truffle oil meant for a gentle drizzle. (I personally prefer Olive Oil drizzled over the arugula and bresaola.)

Sufficiently content from the antipasto, we went on to try their Penne Arrabiata and Spaghetti Bolognese. The penne arrabiata was slightly al dente, and the arrabiata sauce had enough kick to enjoy the pasta as well as appreciate the heat of the pepper flakes. A sizeable portion makes this plate suitable for a meal and unquestionably is a value deal. I spent a year abroad living in Rome, Italy feasting on the fabulous pastas and fresh produce available transformed into the very food that we appreciate as foodies. If this is the experience you are looking for, Pepe's might not be the place. The food is decent, and for the price, you can't ignore the bang for the buck element. But sincerely some of the flavors were generic and not quite a bite out of Italy.

You can easily recognize the difference between good pasta and great pasta as it comes down to the ingredients, the dedication and love that should be put into every order. The joy in the blend of basil greens, tomato reds and cheese whites is that unmistakable reminder of the Italian flag and consequently the joy of Italian cuisine. Nevertheless, the foodie trooper in us was happy to see that there still exists a value institution that can bring decent food, and great aura from the SoHo neighborhood together for a hands down enjoyable New York meal. Don't miss out on the dishes and people-watching that is bound to yield a good eating experience. -Morris

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Dirty Words, Good Food in Montreal

So this is the deal, Morris is away in Argentina romancing the locals, devouring delicious bovine, and drinking decadent wines. I am here in New York awaiting the return of my trusty companion, the Jekyll to my Hyde. In the meantime, I’ve decided to share with you an adventure from our gastronomic past, the poutine at a famous little 24 hour place in Montreal called la Banquise located at 994 Rachel East, corner of La Fontaine Park.

Poutine may sound like a dirty word and if you are at all concerned with your arteries or blood pressure it very well might be. But if it is the “good death” that you seek then poutine will be a delectable treat on your ferry ride across the river Styx.

What is poutine, you ask? Well it is a French-Canadian dish, imagine glistening pommes frite or French fries, topped with fresh cheese curds and a dark, heavy brown gravy. For the adventurous eater la Banquise offers 25 variations with a slew of toppings, from Bolognese sauce to bacon, peppers and mushrooms.

The place has a wonderful neighborhood feel to it and due to its local fame attracts droves of Montréalers, a quick glance around and you see teenagers on dates, truck drivers on break from miles on the road, and families enjoying a warm plate on a cold Montreal night. The staff is friendly, the prices affordable, and the portions are intense.

The potato may have originated in the Andes, but it fits in just fine in Quebec. If you ever find yourself in Montreal la Banquise offers a wonderful taste of French Canada. - Alex

For more info visit :

So its been a while...

Okay, so it has been a while! Don't worry in a few days we'll have you up to date on an amazing ice-cream/coffee spot and a beloved Italian eatery...until then happy eating.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The King of Falafel and Shawarma

Walking down Broadway in Astoria you are bound to find your senses mesmerized and captivated by the rich Middle Eastern fragrances of an inconspicuous looking food cart known to local patrons as the “King of Falafel and Shawarma”. You may pass it the first few times, but eventually you too will succumb to the aroma that traps so many bystanders.

Serving the Astoria community and foodies since 2002 – this food cart has gained recognition in a wide variety of local, national, and international publications.

The head honcho Fares “Freddy” Zeideia – is a loquacious man, a savvy entrepreneur, a friendly face and he is also clearly a part of the neighborhood. Freddy loves his craft, this much is apparent in everything he does – it is commonplace to find him chatting it up with a passerby or handing out a few falafel balls to customers as they wait. It is this love, Freddy says, that makes him different from the run of the mill halal cart.

As one of the pioneers in halal street food, Freddy has seen the explosion of Middle Eastern food on the streets of New York. While exposure is always good, the King of Falafel is soberly honest about the competition, “they don’t last”, he says. The problem, he explains, is that most of them are in it for the money – with that kind of attitude the customer service is nonexistent and the product suffers.

Freddy is on top of his game. He offers a large menu with a wide variety of options. The classics are of course falafel, chicken, and shawarma – all available in pitas or plates over rice and fresh salad. The falafel’s are ofcourse famous and will have you coming back for more. The chicken is zesty, herby and delicious. The shawarma platter is a sight to see. The beef/lamb is all trimmed by Freddy himself to ensure the quality is superior to processed meats. It is slow cooked in a rotisserie style and thrown on the grill when ordered for a final singe. Then the shawarma is placed on a bed of rice (two choices yellow or basmati), salad, and a single falafel ball. Before you dig in you are offered sauces, white (mayo based), tahini (sesame puree based), lemon sauce, homemade hot sauce, or bbq sauce.

We couldn’t resist and went with the shawarma platter. The plate is aesthetically pleasing and the first bite leads to a whirlwind of sensations. Your eyes, nose and tastebuds all take part in the festivities of savory meat, creamy sauce and delicate rice. The falafel ball is a unique creation, not like the standard falafel you find in New York – it’s better. The salad is fresh and the pickled beets are a nice touch.

The King is not without ambitions. He recently graduated from the Culinary Academy in the Union Square area and has aspirations to one day host a Middle Eastern cooking program. Meanwhile, the quality remains high – I grew up in the neighborhood and it is wonderful to see that popularity hasn’t affected the food. All in all, however you slice it, Freddy is a maestro.- Alex

For more information you can visit his website

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

In the name of food


We love it.

From the smell of sofrito to the earthy textures of baba ganoush - we the Foodie Troopers are big fans of food. But we aren't faithfully blind to our leisurely sustenance, no - we are so selective that some have accused us of snobbery.

The swashbuckling existentialists that we are - no fear. Our city, New York (along with this entire planet) is bustling with tasty restaurants, street carts, bakeries, back alley vendors and other types of food-eries.

It will be our mission to let you in on wonderful, hopefully not so trendy places to catch a bite. - Alex

Reviews, guides, adventures...coming soon.