Katz’s Delicatessen

Pastrami sandwich at Katz s Deli

For the world’s best pastrami sandwich, call 1-800-4HOTDOG. It seems odd that Katz’s Delicatessen, a New York City deli, has settled on a number containing ‘HOTDOG’, when their specialty—since its opening in 1888—is the veritable king of pastrami sandwiches. However, one taste of their flagship product tells all. Katz’s pastrami packs the intense flavors of a gourmet frankfurter with less than half the fat and twice the protein.

In the past century, Katz’s has become a bastion of classic New York City cuisine, alongside places like Gray’s Papaya and Russ & Daughters, and, like the latter, Katz’s delivers its signature product all across the nation. You simply need to go online to satisfy those pastrami cravings.

Katz’s pastrami traditionally comes served on rye bread with not much else, but simplicity is key in drawing out rich flavors. The deep red hue stands bright in the yolk-colored canvas of rye bread, and the savory flavor of pastrami shines uncontested against auxiliary flavors.

The rush of ordering at Katz’s is an experience in and of itself. During lunch hours, a horde of people crowd around the counter to order, while employees diligently slice, stack, and assemble pastrami sandwiches. Forceful yells fly across the air commanding people waiting in one line to distribute evenly into shorter lines, and grunts spring from behind the counter signaling that an order has been made.

At $15.75, Katz’s pastrami sandwich is not cheap, but price reflects popularity—as well as size.

18. September 2011 by Earl
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Korean short rib sandwich ssam

Short rib sandwich ssam

In a couple hours, I’ll be on my way to college. My orientation doesn’t actually start until Friday, but I’m going up there now because of a 4-day pre-orientation backpacking trip. Groups of ten students—eight incoming freshmen and two upperclassmen—can go on various different trips for meeting and greeting at its most basic form—in the wild. I signed up for the trip in Vermont, so we’ll be traversing various mountains, peaks, and densely wooded areas. My backpack is a bit more than half my size and probably weighs about half my weight. Still, I’m looking forward to the trip. After all, who doesn’t enjoy well-earned s’mores after hiking up 45 degree inclines and weathered trails?

After the trip, move-in day occurs immediately after and orientation starts, so I’m not sure when my next post will be. Hopefully, You’ll hear from me in two weeks or so!

However, I’m sure this recipe will tide you over. Crunchy, soft, refreshing, all mixed into one beautiful sandwich. Unlike traditional sandwiches, I forwent the bread in lieu of crisp romaine lettuce. Instead, this sandwich receives a small carb boost from the quinoa simmered in warm Korean BBQ marinade.

A line-up of blanched asparagus adds another dimension of crunch while 48-hour short ribs cooked with the molecular gastronomy technique known as “sous-vide” anchors the sandwich with chewy, meaty texture. Korean BBQ marinade goes a long way in this sandwich, comprising its primary flavors, and with a bit of red pepper paste, the flavors in the sandwich mirror traditional Korean lettuce wraps—ssam. Continue Reading →

22. August 2011 by Earl
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Thoughts on nutrition rating systems

Jarred goods

Today, YourNutritionista.com published an article I wrote on the merits and pitfalls of nutritional guides like the NuVal rating system. These systems serve as guides when buying food by ranking or quantitating their healthiness. Read the article to find out why these guides are just that guides, not the end-all-be-all.

18. August 2011 by Earl
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Craisin, banana, peanut butter breakfast quesadilla

Craisin PB breakfast tortilla

Last Sunday, I made the most wondrous sweet quesadilla ever. Flavors sung to my taste buds like siren and bedazzled my senses like jumping into the pool on a hot summer day. Turns out, craisins, bananas, peanut butter, and agave nectar go really well together. A fine dusting of cacao powder completes the combination by adding a luxurious hint of bitterness amongst the powerful sweet flavors.

I imagine these could become a staple when I go to college next Monday. They’re simple and easy-to-make. You don’t even need heat or any tools besides a knife if you don’t want the quesadilla toasted. Speaking of college though, I leave for New York this week for a short half-week trip, then I go up to New Haven to meet a group of 10 incoming freshmen to go on a backpacking trip together in Vermont. After the half-week vacation in New York and the half-week backpacking trip in Vermont I officially being school as an undergrad. I presume that these few precious days before I leave for New York will be the only time of blissful ignorance I get for a long time. Once I start college, it’s all a race from there—albeit, a race I should enjoy and savor. I wouldn’t be surprised if weekly posts become difficult to keep up on Toastable and I have to revert to bi-weekly, but as the saying goes, “slow and steady wins the race.” Hopefully, I’ll also be able to write about working on a farm, taking photographs for a sustainable food project, or writing about food for college publications! Stay tuned.

As for the recipe, here it is. Enjoy it, and experiment with it. Maybe substitute some chocolate soy nut butter instead of cacao powder. Or substitute—dare I say it—Nutella for cacao powder, but add Nutella in moderation, for it isn’t the healthiest food around. Nutella has a lot of sugar. Continue Reading →

14. August 2011 by Earl
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Peking Gourmet Inn

Atmosphere of Peking Gourmet Inn

I’m not one to advocate Japanese teppanyaki restaurants. Oftentimes, they rely on tricks and flashy techniques to create an enticing appeal. However, these tricks quickly lose their glamour, and what’s left is bland, simple food one could easily cook at home. By cooking food at the table, the chef severely limits his abilities of creating complex dishes with interesting flavors. When you’re cooking in front of an audience, you lose the luxury of painstakingly putting together time-consuming dishes. The audience watches, so the clock ticks. Spend too much time on one task, and the show dies, causing the restaurant to appear lackluster. I speak of teppanyaki both as a public service announcement—avoid them—and because my friend Sean recently introduced me to a dining experience similar to teppanyaki. Unlike teppanyaki, however Peking Duck skips the gimmicks. Continue Reading →

07. August 2011 by Earl
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Potbelly salads

Uptown salad at Potbelly

Sometimes, choosing the healthier of two foods can be tricky if not impossible. In a contributing post at Your Nutritionista, I give readers the skinny on Potbelly’s two flagship salads, the Uptown and Farmhouse salad. Here’s a hint: In this case, neither salad is definitively healthier than the other, and the healthier choice depends on what you’re looking for in a meal—recovery or fuel.

29. July 2011 by Earl
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Curious case of weight gain in China

Meat pizza from Papa John's

Here’s a fascinating article by the Wall Street Journal. As China becomes more industrialized like the U.S., the obesity rate of its population has risen also. However, while it is clear that obesity correlates with poverty in the U.S., obesity seems to be most prevalent amongst those who are more wealthy in China. In the U.S., lack of fresh, natural foods and an overabundance of cheap, unhealthy, processed foods drive children and youth to eat unhealthy and gain weight. In China, overeating of quality food in addition to the consumption of less healthy foods contribute to obesity. Sugar calories from fruits add up and become stored as fat, and the benefits of a diet high in fresh foods become negated by overconsumption.

From such “inverse” phenomenon, a few assumptions can be established about the state of eating in China and in the U.S. China must have smaller availability of cheap, unhealthy foods such as fast food restaurants and packaged foods compared to the U.S. Otherwise, obesity would likely correlate with poverty in China as it does in the U.S. This assumes that the poor would be able to afford the supply of cheap, unhealthy foods, thus sending obesity spiraling upwards for the lowest-class population. Furthermore, the fact that people who can afford healthy foods seem to become overweight reveals that the Chinese public lack general health awareness and education that the U.S. has become exceedingly successful in disseminating. In the U.S., the public becomes constantly inundated with the urgency of taking control of one’s own health. T.V. shows such as Biggest Loser portray weight loss as a game where the winners are those who lose the most weight, and as a result, the audience feel compelled to lose weight. After all, we all want to be winners? Furthermore, U.S. figureheads have often dabbled in charitable work regarding health and fitness, including First Lady Michelle Obama, and publications routinely publish stories regarding health and nutrition.

Now, China’s dilemma also provides a takeaway message for everyone who wants to live a healthier lifestyle. Everything is good in moderation, even fruits and vegetables, and don’t let a few servings of vegetable serve as reason to indulge in other less healthy foods because every bite counts. Remember, eating healthy foods does not necessarily mean that you are eating healthy.

EDIT: This The Atlantic article makes the reasonable suggestion that in China, diets high in vegetables may correlate with high consumption of fats, since Chinese cuisine comprises heavily of stir fries.

21. July 2011 by Earl
Categories: Health | Tags: , | 5 comments

Siggi’s Icelandic style skyr yogurt

Siggis vanilla yogurt 2

As a child, I used to hate yogurt. My father would always push me to take a bite whenever he opened up a new cup of yogurt, but I, in my youthful stubbornness, would refuse. Yogurt felt weird and slimy—traits that delegated it to the group of other disgusting foods like tomatoes and oysters.

However, liking for certain foods and experiences are often an acquired taste, and over time, my receptiveness towards yogurt grew stronger. I began eating yogurt more ardently by convinced myself that I was doing my body a favor. After all, my father had always used health as a motivator for me to try yogurt. I even began to enjoy eating certain fruit-flavored “light” yogurts. Of course, these “light and healthy” yogurts were the kind that secretly contained an inordinate amount of sugar.

Siggis vanilla yogurt  1

Five different kinds of bacteria were used to make this yogurt

Eventually, my tastes developed further, and I became a devout follower of strained, natural yogurts—often referred to as Greek yogurts, and to this day, I remain a strong advocate for Greek yogurt. Admittedly, I always add a drizzle of honey or agave nectar, but the combination of plain, unflavored Greek yogurt is still leagues ahead of sugary fruit-flavored ones. Continue Reading →

18. July 2011 by Earl
Categories: Health, Life, Reviews | Tags: | 12 comments

Food Roundup: July 4-10, 2011

Garlic bagel with lox at Whitestone Bagel Factory

Garlic bagel with lox at Whitestone Bagel Factory. Salmon such as the one used in this sandwich may drop in price if AquaBounty's GM Salmon successful achieves commercialization.

I’m in the process of revamping the design of Toastable.com, so things may not appear the way it seems. By that, I mean the sidebar was subjected to “accidental change” when I tested out a new template on the live website. Now, I’m working away at a new design on a local version of my website, so I can freely make changes without fear of ruining the live website—which is what you see here. Expect the new design to go public before the end of August!

  1. Smithsonian highlights Modernist cuisine — It seems like the accolades never end for Nathan Myhrvold’s Modernist Cuisine, the $625, six-volume cookbook that weighs more than five newborn babies.
  2. Myhrvold makes sales pitch during TED talk — Again, the publicity for Modernist Cuisine never ends. Here, Myhrvold makes a case for why a cookbook like Modernist Cuisine is so revolutionary and overdue.
  3. GM Salmon runs into trouble in House — Couple months ago, genetically modified salmon produced by AquaBounty which grow significantly faster than normal salmon was announced to undergo review by the USDA for commercial production. Preliminary findings showed no scientific reason for the salmon to not go commercial. They tasted the same as non-genetically modified salmon and had the same nutritional makeup. Recently however, a move by members of the House pose a threat to the commercialization of the salmon.

12. July 2011 by Earl
Categories: Life | Tags: , , | 2 comments

Kashi GoLean Crunch! and chocolate milk

Greek Yogurt Parfait with Berries and Kashi Crunch

I love Kashi GoLean Crunch! By the way, the cereal’s name actually does end with an exclamation, I did not add that for emphasis—though emphasis is well-deserved. The GoLean Crunch! cereal is rocky and crunchy but softens up well in milk, which produces some delicious cereal milk in the process. The Kashi cereal’s modest amount of sugar produces a very subtle-flavored cereal milk that is not too sugary but not at all bland.

While eating Kashi, or any cereal in that case, I often read whatever lie in front of me. Sometimes, the unsuspecting victim might be TIME; other times, the victims are food labels? So one day, while eating my cookie-cutter bowl of cereal, I noticed that GoLean Crunch! contains 37 grams of carbohydrates and 9 grams of protein. Coincidentally, that almost perfectly fits the 4:1 carb:protein ratio that science has declared boosts muscle growth and glycogen recovery after workouts. Chocolate milk, which has a 4:1 carb:protein ratio, became the favored drink for runners after the research proved the ratio’s effectiveness.

With GoLean Crunch! matching the ratio almost perfectly, I asked myself, “why not combine GoLean Crunch! cereal with chocolate milk for a wholesome, 4:1 carb:protein ratio snack or meal?” Of course, that is exactly what I did, and the cereal in chocolate milk tasted sublime. The added benefit was the healthiness of the snack derived from the golden 4:1 carb:protein ratio.

Next time you’re done working out and are hungry, grab some chocolate milk, or make your own, and combine it with Kashi GoLean Crunch! cereal.

11. July 2011 by Earl
Categories: Health, Recipes | Tags: , , , | 4 comments

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