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10 posts tagged QUEENS

THE GANESH TEMPLE IN FLUSHING, QUEENS

I traveled back to India the other day. I cam across a Hindu Temple in Flushing, Queens that had a sign pointing at the door reading Temple canteen, which means dinning area..I was intrigued..;)

The second I walking in I knew I would be in for some serious grub. The food being served at the canteen is south Indian. I ordered myself a cone dosa with the potato curry served on the side. Potatoes traditionally come served rolled inside, so this allowed for the crepe part to stay crispy….yummy! Sambar (a vegetable, tamarind dal) and coconut chutney were also served with the dosa. We wanted to try something new so we ordered a noodle dish that I have never seen before. I unfortunately don’t know the name but it was a very fine rice noodle stir fried in ghee (clarified butter) with peanuts and lots of earthy spices (you can see the cardamom seeds scattered throughout). This noodle dish was served with a soupy potato curry. Mix em all together and add a little coconut chutney on top and you are in for a treat. This dish was definitely special!

THE GREEK PLAZA…MEATS AND PASTRIES LIKE NO OTHER! ASTORIA, QUEENS

I had to take advantage of the fact that I was in Greek Town…After scarfing down that fantastic meal I asked our waiter where the best Greek food store was. What a good idea that was! He sent us to a little plaza that had a variety of Greek stores that had to be discovered…

The first spot was called Mediterranean Foods ll. What a dream! This shop sold so many unbelievable goods imported from Greece, from rows of a variety of white, salty feta, shelves of fruity Greek olive oils, countless types of oily sardines and anchovies, stacks of salted cod, floral Greek honey’s, creamy Greek yogurts..and so on..(you get the picture..)

The second spot was called Plaza Meat Market, a Greek butcher..yes..a Greek butcher!! HEAVEN! The first thing I noticed when I walked in was the stuffed moose heads and stuffed birds mounted on the walls..ha ha!!! YES!! Then I noticed hundreds of sausages hanging from the ceiling…love! I immediately befriended the owner who gave me the low down on his business. Aside from having fresh meat, they specialize in this traditional Greek sausage. I asked him what region it originated from and he said that he makes two kinds of sausages. They both use pork meat and pork casing except they use different filler. In the North of Greece, leeks are everywhere, so in order to stretch the meat and season it; they use what comes local to them. In the south oranges are everywhere, to stretch the meat they use orange zest. I sampled both and they were delicious!

The third spot was called Atropolis..probably one of the most beautiful bakeries I have ever set foot in. A variety of Greek cookies piled high right as you walk in. After scouting the shelves and making my way to the back I realized they also served baklava…my favorite! The espresso was extrodinary..all in all the best way to end a day of Greek feasting. This bakery is a must see and a definite tryout.

GO GO GO GO GO GO GO!!!!!

ALL OF THESE PLACES ARE WORTH THE SCHELP..I PROMISE YOU!

TAKE ME TO THE GREEK! ASTORIA, QUEENS

Spent the most marvelous day in Astoria, Queens last week. After getting the courage to bundle up and venture out into this weather, I decided I really deserved a treat. The subway ride was a breeze and finding a restaurant, sorry ,THE restaurant was even easier…

Taverna Kyclades is THE place I am referring to. Now this restaurant is definitely popular and everyone in the neighborhood and Yelp recommends it. I had to see for myself what the fuss was all about. After getting seated in the front room I took in my surroundings..meaning the decor and the food being eaten around me…WOW!! The walls of the restaurant were painted with Greek landscapes and there were fake grapes hanging from the ceiling..nice. The food looked incredible!! The restaurant specializes in seafood but given that we were eating lunch and not dinner, we thought that a whole roasted Branzino (Mediterranean sea bass) was a little much, especially when considering that we had many other stops to make after this one.

We ordered the tzatziki (a Greek yogurt and cucumber dip, seasoned with garlic, dill and S&P), grilled octopus (melt in your mouth salty, smoky, deliciousness), saganaki (a salty sheep’s milk feta that has been fried to perfection…the consistency is chewy and smooth and after cooking isn’t as salty), dolmathes (stuffed grape vine leafs, usually with rice, meat, dill, lemon juice etc..has a tangy acidic sweetness to them..I love these guys!) and a beautiful Greek salad (served with a BRICK of feta cheese on top).

This meal was downed in 20 minutes by two women..you can only imagine how incredible it was…So fresh!

Close up of cheese…. had to put this in!! woo hoo!

DUMPLINGS!!!!! MY LOVE ZEE DUMPLINGS!!

Spent the afternoon sipping on Chai Masala (spiced Indian tea) and watching the sweetest men put together some seriously delicious steamed momo’s (Tibetan dumplings). 

I ventured to this amazing little spot in Jackson Heights, Queens which is located right outside the 74th st. subway station. It is an Indian restaurant at first glance, but when you get further to the back you realize there is another establishment there..aTibetan/Nepalese stand. Thick clouds of steam billow around the adorable Tibetan man that smiles from behind the counter. Just behind him, there is another man working away, making his adorable pillows of beefy love. The effort that goes behind these dumplings is just incredible. I was mesmerized by his technique. They were extremely welcoming and I found it very difficult the leave their cosy dumpling nook…ahh..a new home away from home..;)


SPINACH AND CHEESE EMPANDAS WITH A SIDE ORDER OF DULCE DE LECHES CHURROS

Spending a day in Jackson Heights, Queens is always such a treat. There has never been a time there where I haven’t discovered a new neighborhood and a new cuisine. There is a large Latin American community residing in Jackson Heights, so naturally I was on the prowl.  Within 30 minutes of roaming the hood I got a craving for some sweet, doughy love. Lucky for me La Nueva Bakery appeared before me and I new I was in for a treat.

I guess it was that time of the day for some coffee and treats because the place was pretty crowded.  Having so much to choose from I felt a little overwhelmed but it wasn’t long before I made friends and got what came highly recommended.

We started off our snacking with a delicious, crunchy on the outside, steaming on the inside spinach and cheese empanada. Empanada is a stuffed bread or pastry, baked or fried enjoyed throughout Latin America. Stuffing and preparations vary within each region. Empanadas make for a compact, delicious to-go lunch or a great snack. The one we ate was baked, but La Nueva was also serving fried cheese, chicken and tuna empanadas, which looked unbelievable and came out steaming and crispy.

While scanning these exotic baked goods I couldn’t take my eyes of off one of the most perfectly shaped edible balls I have ever seen. They are called bunuelos and are fritters of Spanish origin. They were traditionally served in Columbia as a Christmas treat but since they are so yummy, they have become a popular snack all over Latin America. I had to try one of these guys. It had a really bouncy, doughy consistency on the inside and a nice crunchy outside. It tasted like baked milky custard. Not that sweet and super addictive. I really liked this one.

To end off our afternoon snack I had to order a churro. Churros are long ridged donuts that are very popular in Latin American. They are piped directly into very hot oil and fried until golden then tossed into a healthy amount of sugar and sometimes cinnamon sugar. The churros that I ordered were special..;) These puppies came sliced open lengthways and piped with dulce de leche all down the middle adding a creamy caramel flavor to it. Dulce de leche is made with sweetened condensed milk. You have to reduce it on low until it becomes a light brown color..presto!! dulce de leche!
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Oh and check this out…Latin American croissants!! There are two variations - one is called medialunas (“half moons”) and they are typically coated with a sweet glaze ("de manteca" made with butter). Another variation from Argentina is a madialuna “de grasa” (of grease), which is not sweet. (ha ha! I love how honest they are.)

THE DOSA HUTT IS THE HUTT TO BE AT!

Had the perfect outing the other day, starting off in the afternoon hopping from sauna room to sauna room at the Spa Castle in Flushing, Queens… a must do!

After sweating and playing in the jet lined pools I worked up a roaring hunger. Being so perfectly situated in Queens, I knew it wouldn’t be difficult to find a hidden gem. 

Dosa Hutt, a florescent lit, small, South Indian eatery was the one that caught my attention. Right when we walked in, we were greeted with such warmth and welcome. The menu was very straightforward and simple. 

Idli: Is a savory south Indian cake, usually eaten for breakfast and-or snacks. These cakes are made by steaming a batter that consists of fermented black lentils and rice. The consistancey is very light, fluffy and the perfect vessel to soak up the accompaniments that come with it, coconut chutney and sambar. There are many different variations of coconut chutney, this one had freshly grated coconut, curry leaves, green chili, mustard seeds and ground lentils. Sambar is made of yellow lentils, potatoes, tomatoes, onions and beans cooked in sambar powder. Sambar powder consists of coriander, chickpeas, lentils, cumin seeds, red chilis, black pepper, mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds. The sambar is very similar to a dhal and has strong spiced flavor. This stuff with the coconut chutney was unbelievable!

Medhu Vada: is reffered to as the Indian donut. It is made out of soaked lentils that gets pureed into a paste and is mixed with different spices like cumin seed, black pepper, curry leaves..etc. They are then deep fried until golden. Medhu vada is also a breakfast item and is served with sambar and coconut chutney.

Masala Dosa: a thin, crunchy like crepe that is typically served with potato masala (spiced potatoes) folded inside. The batter is made with uncooked rice and fermented lentil batter that gets ground up and ladled in small batches onto a hot greased griddle. The dosa is fried until golden with ghee (clarified butter) and the spiced potatoes get placed on top and the dosa is wrapped around it, like a huge burrito. It is then served with coconut chutney and sambar.

We ordered 2 other kinds of Dosa:

Mysore masala. which is a dosa served with chutney and fried vegetables on the inside.

Rava masala dosa: a semolina, rice flour based dosa that doesn’t need any fermentation and is very easy and quick to make.This was also served with spiced potatoes. There is no thickness to this batter, so when making it, the batter needs to get splashed onto the hot griddle because it is too thin to spread on. This dosa is folded into a square shape.

We also ordered a mixed veggie uthappam, this is also made of a fermented rice and lentil batter but is cooked in the shaped of a thick pancake. The vegetables in this case, peas, onions, chilis and tomatoes are cooked right into the pancake..this stuff was delicious and SPICEY! 

We ended off our meal with a thick, spicey masala chai (spiced tea) and a long friendly conversation with the gentleman who took our order. The staff at the Dosa Hutt were the sweetest guys! All of them being from South India have made this restaurant their home and spend countless hours hanging out in the back chatting in hindi and sipping on their chai. Needless to say, this place brought me back to India. if you want to take a trip to Kerala..head out to Flushing, Queens and check out the Dosa Hutt. ;)

I got to go to the back and watch them make a dosa….OH LIFE IS GOOD!