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Daily Slice: San Matteo, NYC

The first time I stopped by San Matteo on the Upper East Side, I ordered a Margherita, and to be honest, I was a little disappointed. The moisture from the mozzarella made the crust go limp, and the cheese had not melted fully. Was there something wrong with the huge wood-fired oven? More

Daily Slice: Nina's Argentinian Pizza Restaurant

There is a stretch of Second Avenue that has been given over to construction of the Second Avenue Subway. Hidden behind the machinery and equipment are a number of restaurants that are suffering, and since I hope to live long enough to ride the new subway line, I feel I should do what I can to support the restaurants that have been affected by the the digging. Nina's Argentinian Pizza Restaurant is one of these establishments, and on a recent Monday night, I was the only diner apart from the owner. More

Daily Slice: Focaccia at Eataly

On one recent visit, the fresh-tasting tomatoes on the focaccia perfectly balanced the savory cheese and chewy olive oil-slicked bread. Another time, the tomatoes and oil added so much moisture to the bread that the slice basically dissolved. But the toppings are luscious: the mozzarella just crispy and browned on top but with a fresh squeakiness underneath. The tomatoes have a bright, clean flavor. It can be a bit messy to eat, and it's much safer to carry in a pizza box than in a bag. More

United States of Pizza: Kentucky

The Bluegrass State may be better known for the Colonel's fried chicken, but it has plenty of good pizza to offer. Louisville has a number of celebrated pizzerias, but some of the best pies can be found at restaurants that don't specialize in pizza. Outside of Louisville, you can find VPN-certified pies as well as a pizzeria that caters mostly to rock-climbers. More

The United States of Pizza: Iowa

It's time to give you a taste of Iowa's pizza options. The Hawkeye State has a wealth of pizzerias, many of which have been around for generations. College town pizza joints abound, some where the atmosphere is more memorable than the slices, but artisan pies are also being made in Des Moines (and Decorah). Be warned: it's a land of rather creative pizza toppings. Half-taco, half sauerkraut pie, anyone? More

Daily Slice: Rocco's Pizza Joint, Chelsea

Rocco's Pizza Joint is located in the heart of Chelsea, a neighborhood that has changed considerably over the last two decades. Rocco's does not appear to have felt the need to change with the times, which is not altogether a bad thing. While the signage is retro-chic and the chairs are in quirky candy colors, these appear to be the only concessions to the fancier neighborhood that has grown up around it. More

Daily Slice: Eldsmiðjan in Reykjavik, Iceland

Last weekend I ventured to Iceland, hoping to see the Northern Lights. On the first night I was there, the sky was overcast, so I stayed in town and decided to see what sort of pizza options were available. Usually when I travel, I try to sample as many traditional local foods as possible, and clearly pizza does not fall under this category in Iceland. Still, I had sampled delicious lobster soup and a malt extract beverage at Saegreifin for lunch, and I was curious about what sort of pizza one eats in Reykjavik. More

Daily Slice: Mozzarelli's, Flatiron District

Daily Slice gives a quick snapshot each weekday of a different slice or pie that the folks at the Serious Eats empire have enjoyed lately. —The Mgmt. Photograph: Christopher Stephens] Say you're near the Flatiron Building and you want a slice of pizza. Sure, you could go to Rossopomodoro at Eataly (Slice review here), but you just want a single slice, without much fuss, and you're avoiding the temptation to buy yet another bottle of aged balsamic vinegar. Instead, walk just south of Madison Square Park for a plain slice at Mozzarelli's. It's not going to win any awards, but... More

Introducing the Ultimate Four-Layer, Candy-Packed Halloween Ice Cream Cake

Looks like the cherpumple pie has met its match.

How to Make Traditional Cassoulet (And Why You Should Put Chicken in It!)

That's odd: "Cassoulet Choose Your Own Adventure" is the name of my new cover band.

Behind the Scenes in Robyn's Home Kitchen

If I were Sherlock Holmes, I would concluded from the way you store the stuff in the kitchen that the users are all short. Nothing at the top of some of those cabinets? Actually, if I were Sherlock Holmes, I would probably be investigating the Case of the Fire-Breathing Chicken, but that is a story for another day.

Taste Test: Does Using Better Quality Alcohol Make Better Tasting Fruitcake?

@Rabonour: I did not taste the cakes post-baking but pre-basting, as the recipe calls for adding the first round of brandy right after taking the cake out of the oven. I did taste the batter of each cake (it's my kitchen, and I'll lick the bowl if I want). The difference between the two batters was noticeable and more pronounced.

@GrahamBJ: I was quoting Ed directly when he declared the tasting to be a Hobson's choice. Maybe he was weighing the options of tasting the cakes or not tasting anything at all?

A Day in the Life: Carrie Vasios, Sweets Editor

Trust me, Carrie, it will totally be worth it to write about fruitcake. I just wish you were on the east coast so that you could join in the taste test. I suppose we could mail you samples - fruitcake is durable that way. And delicious. At least mine is. I swear.

Behind the Scenes: Growing Cacao in the Dominican Republic

Anyone who wants to see cacao grown up close and personal might want to look into visiting the Cotton Tree Lodge's plantation (Google "Cotton Tree Lodge" and "Chocolate Week"). They work with several US chocolate makers (Taza, Tcho, Mast Brothers) to bring folks to Belize and see how those scary looking pods of beans turn into delicious chocolate. I went in 2012 and cant' recommend it enough.

7 Rugelach Recipes to Make For Hanukkah

I'll be making them again for the cookie swap. One minor quibble: I believe the photo credit should go to the stellar Robyn Lee, not me. Only she could make my baked goods look that tasty.

This Week at Serious Eats World Headquarters

Robyn used the phrase "too much Norwegian chocolate". I don't understand this concept. Too much chocolate?

'They Basically Wiped Out Our Profit for the Day': A Street Vendor Speaks Out About the Department of Health

A few points from someone who used to be one of the hearing officers for DOH.

The $200 may seem large (and compared with the operator's revenue that day, it was large). However, the Health Code states that all penalties must be at least $200 and no more than $2,000. The hearing officer has discretion within those two limits, and the DOH recommends higher penalties for more serious violations. These were clearly at the bottom of the scale.

"Did you have a chance to defend yourself?" Not really. They just said, "the health inspector said you did X, Y, and Z wrong. Do you deny it, admit it, or want to give an explanation?" Those are your choices.... How did you not really have the chance to defend yourself? Sounds like you had the chance to do exactly that. Unfortunately, you didn't have much of a defense.

"...And the decision is final. You can't appeal. You have 30 days to pay the fine." Not true. You have 30 days to appeal, as long as you pay the fine first. I'm pretty sure that every hearing officer includes that at the end of the hearing. It's printed on the decision, and in the past they used to hand you an appeal form with the decision.

There are a lot of problems with the system, and it's pretty clear that the Bloomberg administration has been using the fines as a source of revenue, which rubs me the wrong way. All the same, it's pretty simple to keep the handle of the scoop out of the ice. Give that a try next time.

What's in a Letter? Chefs and Restaurants Speak Out About the Department of Health's Letter Grades

I can claim to be the one person on the planet who is a) a former Serious Eats intern and b) a former judge at the Health Tribunal, so I think I can speak with a certain amount of expertise here. Lauren has reflected the frustration that a lot of restaurateurs feel, and while I feel sorry for some, I think the system works better than before we had letter grading. Of course, there are plenty of ways it could be improved, and there is nothing more annoying that inconsistency from a government agency (my pet peeve: why does every TSA checkpoint have different rules? Arrgh!). That said, most of the rules are clear enough, and DOH has done a great deal to make them easier to follow.

Where I start losing sympathy is with restaurant owners who say that it's "too difficult" to follow the rules and still serve as many customers. The fact is that either they can serve fewer customers safely or more customers at greater risk. One earns them more money, or, to follow that through, it's not "too difficult" to follow the rules, it's "too expensive". Food service can be a low-margin business, but that's no excuse for cutting corners. High end restaurants tend to get fewer points on inspections because they pay for the extra staff to keep the kitchens spotless. They pass those costs on to their customers, just as they do for top-notch ingredients. Before, customers could tell if they were getting served inferior ingredients. The letter-grading system has made it possible to assess how safely those ingredients are being prepared.

One factual point to answer a question raised by @JPBklyn. Generally speaking, deli's aren't inspected by the NYC DOH. Rather, they are inspected by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, which also inspects supermarkets. The distinction is made based on the percentage of revenue derived from foods prepared on site versus pre-packaged foods. In other words, if most of what your deli is selling is soda, chips and paper towels, they can get their permit from Ag and Markets. If most of what they are selling is sandwiches made on site, they get their permit from DOH. Hope that helps.

Video: David's Brisket House, the Jewish Deli Run by Muslims in Brooklyn

If it's wrong not to be ashamed of "brisket porn", I don't want to be right. (Wait, is that what I mean?). Definitely merits a pilgrimage.

This Week at Serious Eats World Headquarters

@shermanhelms: the link to the Pies Against Cancer website isn't working, so try this: http://piesagainstcancer.blogspot.com/
The latest post has close-ups and captions of each individual pie, so you can get a better idea of which is which. Enjoy the pie-tography!

Cranberry Apple Nut Tart

Any suggestions as to which variety of apples works best, or should I just stick to the usual suspects for apples that work well in pies?

Down South: 5 Life Lessons From Country Ham King Allan Benton

I had the pleasure of meeting Allan Benton at Zingerman's Camp Bacon this summer. Don't let the hillbilly folksiness fool you: he's one of the smartest people in the food world. May he keep smoking those hams and bacon for years to come.

Squishing S'mOreos Forever

We can all stop making animated gifs now, because nothing will ever be better than this.

This Week at Serious Eats World Headquarters

Funny, but when I returned to SEWHQ from Iceland, no one went for the harðfiskur either. History repeats itself, Erin (or at least I'm quite sure that it wasn't me they were suspicious of, just the dried fish). Hope the trip was great, and I'm looking forward to meeting the new furniture.

Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway: The Sriracha Lover's Ultimate Gift Pack

Are there any foods siracha doesn't improve? Sometimes I'll stir-fry some leftover lamb and squirt on some delicious, delicious siracha.

Andrew Carmellini's World's Best Biscuits. End of Story.

Anyone want to try these with butter in place of the Crisco?

(Haunted) Beer History: The Rise & Fall of the Lemp Dynasty

You can see many of the sites discussed above in convenient television format on a recent episode of Travel Channel's "Off Limits". Spooky indeed.

Foods to represent NYC

I'd be getting the spekuloos from the Wafels and Dinges truck (Belgian, not Dutch, but I won't get in the middle of that fight). Having something from a food truck is a nod to the fact that the trucks are regulated by the tribumals where I work. Consider it administrative law judge humor.

Bazzini nuts are another great pick - though I think they just announced they were leaving the city.

Do you have a favorite purveyor of Chinese beef jerky?

Foods to represent NYC

I, too, love Levain's cookies, but the auction is five days after I arrive, and I'm not sure they would last that long. Mostly because I would have trouble not eating them myself.

Tempuroni. Yes, That's Tempura + Pepperoni

Your inventiveness never ceases to amaze me. I also wonder at how you refrained from snacking on the entire batch before putting them on the pizza itself. Bravo.

Fresh Food on TV: Weekday Edition

In an act of complete self-interest, let me point out that in the New York area, Jeopardy broadcasts at 7pm, not 7:30, when you can catch that other fine Merv Griffin production, Wheel of Fortune. Outside NYC, you may need to check your local listings. Happy viewing!

Sauce-Injected McNuggets

So, now we know that a heroin addiction is much easier to explain to foodies than the desire to eat McNuggets. And, yes, about once a year I find myself on the road where McDonald's is the only reasonable option. And I have McNuggets. But not heroin.

Meet & Eat: Hayley Daen, Serious Eats Intern

@Burger365 - as a former SE intern, I can vouch that not all of them are as pretty as Hayley (or maybe they just brought me in to bring down the average). And Hayley - thanks for finishing the task of alphabetizing all those books. I thought it would never get done.

Sticky Malt Loaf

For those unacquainted with the classic snack, malt loaf is a sweet loaf that normally contains some sort of dried fruit. Dense and small, this loaf is served as a snack between meals spread with lots of soft butter beside a strong cup of tea. This particular version has a lighter texture than many malt loaves found across the pond, but has all the sweet malty flavor that is a unique, even craveable, part of this quickbread. More