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Your Ultimate Guide to Chinese Food in NYC

The are hundreds of Chinese restaurants in New York City, and they're only getting better. That's why I've compiled over 60 restaurant recommendations for destination-worthy Chinese restaurants, noodle- and dumpling-making experts, brunch-ready dim sum, quick, delicious snacks, and then some. More

The Non-Judgmental Guide to Getting Seriously Into Tea

Every year I'm left in the lurch wondering when tea will get its due. Delicious, ubiquitous, nourishing, gently stimulating, and rich with history and lore, to say nothing of glossy tools to drop money on, tea has everything you could want in an obsession-worthy drink. Here's why I'm so into it, and why I think you should be too. More

How Ful Mudammas Made Me Forget All About Hummus

Let's talk about ful (pronounced "fool") for a minute, because you might find you like it even more than hummus. Where the chickpea is a wan wallflower, the fava is proudly, robustly funky. And with its mashed-up beans and rich broth, ful takes common ingredients like cumin, garlic, and tahini to bolder places than hummus ever could. More

The Fastest, Freshest, Fluffiest Ice Cream Ever: 30-Minute Philadephia-Style Ice Cream

Most of the work in ice cream revolves around those egg yolks. Take them out of the recipe and you have an ice cream that doesn't need any time on the stovetop. And if your milk and cream are fridge-cold, you won't even need to chill your base. That means fresh ice cream whenever you want it, with ingredients you probably already have at home, and the easiest ice cream recipe you'll ever make. More

The Better Fruitcake: Baking Stollen at NYC's Bien Cuit Bakery

"It's like a yeasted fruitcake with all of the good stuff and none of the bad," says baker Zachary Golper of his best-in-class stollen. It's a dense, buttery loaf perfumed with citrus zest, orange blossom, and rum. The crumb is stuffed with a delicate almond cream, and the whole thing is "baptized" after baking in a bath of clarified butter, then finished with powdered sugar as fluffy as the season's first snowfall. More

The 100% Vegan Menu to Rock an Animal-Free Thanksgiving

A Thanksgiving without dairy and eggs means you miss out on buttery mashed potatoes and custardy pumpkin pie. But skipping out on cream doesn't mean skimping on the comforting, carby dishes Thanksgiving is best for. Actually, it means you get to focus on bolder flavors brimming with spice and explore a spectrum of textures wider than the usual seven kinds of creamy. More

Beyond English Breakfast: An Introduction to the World's Great Teas

@purplenoon Oolongs are grown everywhere, particularly Taiwan (and the ones there trace ancestry to Chinese varieties), but you raise a good point. Pollution and water are big problems in Chinese agriculture, tea included, but that's also true in some other tea-growing regions. It's particularly an issue for teas grown near large cities; more remote regions fare a little better.

This is why I think it's so vital to know your tea vendor and for them to know where, exactly, their tea is coming from. Good farmers treat their land and tea well, and good vendors seek those people out. I have a recommended vendor list here with a bunch of oolong specialists to get you started.

Quick and Easy Drop Biscuits

You're right, that should be 2 teaspoons of baking soda, not 2 tablespoons. Fixed!

The Secrets of Aging Cheese: A Tour of Murray's Cheese Caves

Nope, it's just production. West Village and the Grand Central annex are the two shops.

3 (More) Great Vegan Ice Creams With 1 Easy Master Recipe

Was betting on golden syrup because of the British connection, but glucose would work great too!

3 (More) Great Vegan Ice Creams With 1 Easy Master Recipe

@Sunny cooks and how Can you get golden syrup? That'll work, though it'll be a little sweeter.

3 (More) Great Vegan Ice Creams With 1 Easy Master Recipe

@VeganWithaYoYo Worth a shot with puréed fruit, just may get a little icy (same thing happens with dairy ice cream, though). Start with high-pectin purées like berries.

@nightpunkster05 If you bothered to read the post or check my byline, you'd notice I'm both decidedly not a vegan and am a frequent [dairy] ice cream maker. I also think I make it clear that this ice cream doesn't taste like dairy, and that it's best appreciated as its own thing. But thanks for the ice-cream-splaining.

@christycreme The mint green one you mean? It's awesome, right? Our photographer Vicky found it at the Salvation Army. The brand is The Monkey and the Peddler and you can find similar dishes online.

Vegan Mint Chip Ice Cream

@arielleeve Depends on the extract, but start with a quarter teaspoon and build up from there.

Note that mint leaves vary in quality! Some are definitely more grassy while others are more herbaceous and sweet. May be worth trying again with mint you love?

3 (More) Great Vegan Ice Creams With 1 Easy Master Recipe

@VeganWithaYoYo I wouldn't say every recipe on the site, but yes, this is a good starting point. The base has trouble with high alcohol amounts; anything over the 2 tablespoons of 80-proof booze in the rum-lime recipe causes it to run into freezing problems. I'd also be wary of adding high-water ingredients like puréed fruit since the base has no protein-based binder (I'm not a fan of starch binders in vegan bases) and may get icy. It's also sensitive to added fats in substantial volumes (see: olive or sesame oil).

But assuming your flavorings don't wreck with the general ratios, you should be fine. The results won't be exactly the same—this is not a copycat for my general base and shouldn't be seen as such—but to my mind that just makes vegan ice cream more delicious as its own sui generis thing.

Staff Picks: The Cheeses We Go Crazy For

@sar_t That was a stupid, stupid brain fart on my behalf. Completely agree with your point, and the text is fixed now!

Where to Buy Amazing Tea Online

@NateHevens That taste test was less about saying "choice of water doesn't matter" and more about how complicated the answer can be. In my experience, using a Brita filter doesn't add much marginal benefit to NYC/Long Island tap water, which is pretty high quality as far as municipal water sources go. But even that might depend on the state of your pipes, which is why I use the general rule of "if you wouldn't drink the water on its own, don't brew tea with it."

Your best option is the large-format water filters favored by tea shops like Fang Gourmet, but those can cost several thousand dollars. Worth it for some, but I'd rather spend the money on tea (and, erm, rent). Like you I try to avoid bottled water, so I just use straight tap most of the time. But it's an edifying experience to blind-taste the same tea brewed with a variety of waters. Trying it for yourself is the only way to see how it works for you.

Beyond English Breakfast: An Introduction to the World's Great Teas

@StephanieL I haven't had many Kenyan teas that I adore, but that's as much for lack of exposure as anything else. The good ones are definitely on par with India's, though.

@punchjc Like anything organic, it depends but I wouldn't call it a guarantee. There's plenty of non-organic tea that's amazing and plenty of middling organic tea. Definitely something to be said for farmers treating their land well, though.

Beyond English Breakfast: An Introduction to the World's Great Teas

@bdb318 I considered doing so, but for people just getting into tea it's not a hugely actionable nugget of knowledge. It's true, for instance, that Darjeeling teas owe some of their distinctness to their var. sinensis origins as opposed to the assamica leaves that dominate the rest of India. But you'll also find assamica leaves in pockets China. So while it's certainly valuable information, it doesn't neatly enlighten a new tea drinker to some of the broad divisions between tea styles, which was the thrust of this article.

More tea pieces to come, though! Plenty of room for a discussion of it in future installments.

The Non-Judgmental Guide to Getting Seriously Into Tea

@MDinMD I usually brew one or two batches of leaves a day, re-steeping each batch five to however many times they keep delivering flavor, and usually dump at the end of the day. But I've certainly paused a steeping session, leaving my leaves right in the drained gaiwan, and picked it up the next day. No worries there.

@NateHevens Someone upthread mentions Finger Lakes Tea, which grows tea in upstate New York, so it may very well be possible! I don't know much about starting your own tea estate, but check out the League of U.S. Tea Growers. Sure they'll have plenty of advice.

Sorry, New York; Why Los Angeles is the Best Pastrami City in America

Oy vey, at the risk of falling into this argument, I thought Katherine made it clear why LA wins out on the pastrami front. It's not about which deli makes a better pastrami sandwich, though in the comments at least one SE editor (Daniel) who's tasted Langer's and Katz's agrees with giving Langer's the crown.

To me, which city hosts the superior pastrami sandwich is a boring question unless you're someone who splits their time between LA, New York, and Montreal and is very selective about their deli. Obviously all three cities (and plenty others) serve great pastrami somewhere. The far more interesting question Katherine raises is where is pastrami most alive and integral to the local cuisine? Where is it most celebrated and where is it thriving?

@chanterlle sums it up well: "NY pastrami culture is frozen in amber for tourists. In LA, it's thriving." Katherine's argument isn't about tasting Wexler's next to Katz's or Langer's next to 2nd Ave. Deli. It's about showing all the other ways LA does pastrami well, with new forms and established traditions that New York's never even considered. Meanwhile, good New York delis keep shrinking in number with little pastrami innovation to replace them. Hate to be the editor shouting "that's the point" but, well, that's the point! That's why the headline of this piece is "best pastrami city in America," not "the single best pastrami sandwich one deli makes in America."

Your Ultimate Guide to Chinese Food in NYC

@ExNYer in SF What Steveroller said; if there's anything amazing in the Bronx I'd love to include it, but Chinese is one cuisine that borough does not excel at.

@pookipichu As always you show just how much more ground there is to cover! My experience and intel with Hakkasan hasn't been as charitable, but perhaps it's worth another look. Your CH posts on Wan Chai and Gui Lin look pretty enticing; agreed Canton Gourmet isn't spectacular beyond the fried chicken and fried rice. Thanks for the tips.

@Porgy_Sashimi Hooray, the secret lives on! As for Golden Mall, yeah, it's amazing to watch the customer demographics change over the years.

Taste Test: The Best Fancy Drinking Chocolate

Re: drinking chocolate vs. hot cocoa, the former is typically used to describe a very rich drink made primarily with melted chocolate, while the latter is made primarily with cocoa powder. Drinking chocolate is usually thicker and less sweet compared to hot cocoa, but there aren't any hard and fast rules. "Hot chocolate" safely covers both.

The Non-Judgmental Guide to Getting Seriously Into Tea

@Chipper8 Got caught up on another time-sensitive deadline but two big tea posts are coming out next Wednesday.

The Non-Judgmental Guide to Getting Seriously Into Tea

@Chellspecker As you say, aging can be all over the map. Some oolongs age quite well, for as long as 30 to 40 years, but it's tricky to do and a good starting tea doesn't at all guarantee a good aged tea. I try to drink my teas within a few months of purchase, though of course there are some teas that I neglect and get incidentally "aged." Green and white teas respond poorly to this though and are best brewed within the season of their harvest. Vacuum packs can extend shelf life, particularly for lightly roasted or unroasted oolongs that have a higher water content, but they aren't suspended animation.

Pu-ehr is more or less designed to be aged; raw (sheng) pu-ehrs can taste pretty harsh until they get some age on them, and cooked (shou) pu-ehrs often have a more rounded flavor with age. That doesn't mean older pu-ehr is necessarily better, but it does mean you can take more time to drink your pu-ehr. Since it still has cultures it's always changing, so it's actually pretty interesting to note a cake's flavor development over the years.

A Song of Spice and Fire: The Real Deal With Hunan Cuisine

@grebtor I was just at Hunan House the other day and it's still rocking. Hunan Manor, their sister restaurant in Midtown, is also great.

North Jersey Special: The Tale of Belmont Tavern's Chicken Savoy

Hey folks, we did link to a recipe, that Saveur one included in the comments here. While the real-deal chicken savoy recipe is very much a secret, that one looked like a close approximation to us.

I understand the desire to want to recreate this at home, but I disagree that all food stories of this type are required to end in recipes. Sometimes the point of spotlighting something iconic is to inspire readers and make them seek something out on their own. Not everything is about translating things for the home kitchen. And more to the point, I think a savvy cook could follow Drew's narrative and produce a pretty tasty ersatz chicken savoy with a couple chickens.

The Non-Judgmental Guide to Getting Seriously Into Tea

@tmrdlr That gaiwan was made by a designer named Jono Pandolfi, who makes dishes mainly for restaurants (we profiled him a while back here). I got it at one of his sample sales, where he sells seconds that don't make the cut for clients, so unfortunately it's not sold online. But his online shop does sell teacups, dishes, and the like. Most of my dinnerware is from him and I can't recommend it enough. Beautiful and super-durable.

The Non-Judgmental Guide to Getting Seriously Into Tea

@BrutusBuckeye You can reduce a tea's caffeine content a bit by brewing it for a minute, discarding the brew, and re-brewing, but you'll never get a truly decaffeinated tea that way. As for pre-packaged decaf tea, I've yet to have one that tastes particularly special.

The Non-Judgmental Guide to Getting Seriously Into Tea

@kweber I feel your pain, and pretty much never order tea in restaurants for that reason, but at least in New York the tide is beginning to turn!

Happy Hour: Gin Mare, a Gin Worth Drinking Straight

Good news! A rep just got back to me that Gin Mare will indeed be coming to the U.S. in March pending final FDA approval. I've added an update to this post.

The Non-Judgmental Guide to Getting Seriously Into Tea

Hi everyone! Good and bad news. The bad news is the follow-up story to this piece won't be coming out today, but rather a couple weeks down the line. The good news is that we're doing so to allow time to try some more product samples before coming out with a list of recommended tea merchants, so stay tuned.

Dulces: Arroz con Leche (Rice Pudding)

I couldn't help but think of the stereotypical fiery Latin temperament when I was making this recipe. Arroz con leche (riz au lait or rice pudding), is such a languid, drowsy, gentle thing, so tender it's even suitable for those with smooth gums and weak constitutions, and yet, it is among the most well-liked and frequently made desserts throughout Latin America. Maybe we're all bark and no bite. More

How to Buy, Store, Use (and Re-Use!) Spices

It continues to baffle me how little attention is given to spices today. Maybe it's because we're told to eat local (they rarely are) or organic (they're usually not). Spices seem to still have a reputation of being slapdash cover-ups for mediocre chicken—and far too often they are—but they don't have to be. Yes, spice hunting requires a little time, effort, and money (though less than you think), but once you start using fresh spices in you're cooking, you may just find yourself addicted. More