Monday, December 28, 2009

Pittsburgh icecream spots?

I'm looking for a few good Pittsburgh ice cream recommendations.

I was a regular at Dave & Andy's back in September, but I can't say it blew my socks off. Does it ruffle your feathers a bit to read that? I mean, they definitely get points for originality of flavors. But the execution left something to be desired.

Take their birthday cake, for example. I adore mushed up cake and ice cream. Their version even had cake sprinkles added in! But a spoon full left my mouth aching, from sharp ice crystals and too hard to munch sprinkles. And the cake tasted a bit like crumbly pumice stone - as though it hadn't been properly incorporated with the ice cream mix before freezing.

So surely the Burgh has better spots to offer. Know of them? Please share!

Dave & Andy's Homemade Ice Cream
207 Atwood Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Thanksgiving Menu

A hodge podge of fancy new recipes and tried and true traditional favorites:

Aperitif: Fresh cranberry cosmos
Appetizer 1: Bacon-wrapped, goats-cheesed stuffed dates
Appetizer 2: Pistachio arancini with cranberry sauce

Wine 1: Prosecco!
Course 1: Butternut squash soup with ginger cream
Side 1: Indian handvo

Wine 2: Greener Planet Tempranillo-Grenache
Course 2: Roast turkey a la Anderson ! (friends are bringing the bird, using their family recipe)
Sauce 1: Apple cider gravy
Side 2: Homemade green bean casserole
Side 3: Mixed indian dahl with chickpeas and red kidney beans
Side 4: Basil rice pilaf

Wine 3: Fritz Zinfandel
Course 3: Spice crusted pork tenderloin
Sauce 2: Mustard tarragon sauce
Side 5: Chestnut, apple and leek bread stuffing
Side 6: Roasted white and red sweet potatoes with fried sage and honey butter

Dessert: Pie assortment !

Looking forward to the cooking and eating . . .

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours !

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wha' Cola? Pakola!

I'm generally not a soda drinker.

But the other day I saw an 8oz can so unusual in an Indian grocery store, I had to try it. It was green. Like, bright candy apple green. Any Pakistani reading this probably already knows what I'm talking about.

It's calld Pakola and it's a self-proclaimed "Ice Cream Soda." The flavor is unlike any ice cream you've probably ever had, though. Let's just say this flavor doesn't exist in Baskin Robbins. If you've ever had South Asian ice creams, you may recall the overwhelmingly floral and fruity taste of something called "Tutti Frutti." Well that's more or less how this can of pop tastes. It's a strong, sweet taste. Almost like cotton candy mixed with jasmines and roses, if you can imagine that on your tastebuds.

But while the flavor may be vaguely identifiable, the sensory experience of staring at a bright green, bubbling glass of soda is still disconcerting. I've never had ice cream with this texture or presentation! If you have a sweet tooth and a sense of adventure, the 160 calories per can are worth the splurge.

So what is it, exactly? Pakola is a Pakistani soda that is made by Mehran Bottlers. As the name suggests, it was the first national brand soda in Pakistan (Pakistan's Cola = Pakola). The peculiar green refreshment is the original flavor, but I understand in Pakistan you can now get Pakola in other flavors like Lychee and Orange (which is actually Orange).

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Southern Specialty: Waffle House

I grew up in a part of Florida that is for all intents and purposes the deep south. We're talking Watermelon Festivals replete with crown-bedecked Seed Queens and catfish and fried okra-filled menus around town.

Certainly, you might call me a fair weathered Southerner. I've picked and chosen the qualities I've chosen to retain. For instance, the accent can stay below the Mason Dixon; it's just not suited to an Indian American working in San Francisco. There are, however, a few culinary gems that I'll proudly flaunt.

One of the shinier ones is the best joint for a consistently tasty breakfast - any time of the day and in just about any Southeastern state. Waffle House! Those of you who have driven through my home region will undoubtedly recognize the trademark black and yellow signs that line busy interstates proclaiming the approach of a Waffle House franchise. But have you actually stopped in one?

If you haven't yet, you should. And you have plenty of options to choose from; today, there are over 1500 Waffle Houses across 25 US states. The first one is still open for business in Avondale Estates, Georgia. The fare is a step up from fast food, but I warn you it's essentially a Southern diner. Prepare for the short order stations behind a raised counter and bar stools. The smell of smoky bacon grease adds some extra charm.

Ironically, the items I recommend most on the Waffle House menu are not the waffles (although those are also quite tasty). It's actually the omelettes, hash browns, and grits. Go ahead and order them all together!

The secret to Waffle House omelettes lies largely in technique, not any special ingredient. If you watch carefully while your order is prepared, you may catch the cooks running your eggs through an industrial blender - which is reserved expressly for this purpose. Yup, they blend their eggs. Sure beats hand-whipping or electric mixers. The machine seriously aerates the eggs and makes them a bit frothy - allowing for a much thicker and fluffier omelette. It tastes like a yellow cloud, coated in cheese and sprinkled with mushrooms and green peppers (if you get my standard order, anyway).

And the hash browns? They're the perfect mix of soft, preboiled potato and golden-crisped strands. Nicely covered in oil, of course. The grits are a southern signature, and when mixed with a touch of butter and some salt and pepper, they're usually very well cooked. The result is a soft and flavorful mouthful of cooked ground corn. . . enjoy !

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

New food blog! (but keep reading this one too)

So the posts up here have been pretty sparse lately. I have a good excuses. Let's just say it involves hospitals and a few painful incisions.

But, I'm back to blogging and have an exciting announcement! Continuing the great family tradition of sharing favorite food tidbits, my cousin Hima Bindu has decided to start her own food blog. Awesome! And it certainly has such aspirations (of awesomeness).

By way of background, Hima has a background in the restaurant business and has been a lifelong foodie. She's possibly more into adventurous eating and cooking experimentation than I am. Her foray into gastro-writing is titled "Dewdrop Recipes." Hint: it's related to the western translation of her name.

Admittedly, the blog is just getting off the ground. So feel free to send Hima suggestions on future posts, layout, URLs, etc.

So, if you're not getting your fill of Mylavarapu food posts here at Global Glutton, check out Dewdrop Recipes. . . just make sure you come back here to read the next post!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Yes, Real Indian Fusion Food Exists

For all of its complexity, diversity and deliciousness, Indian food rarely comes in hybrid forms. I love my palak paneer and naan as much as the next person, but sometimes it's just too heavy. And seeing the same dishes on Indian menus around the world does get a touch dull after a while. Especially when the cuisine has the potential to lead to all kinds of exciting culinary experiments and hybrids.

So imagine my pleasant surprise when I discovered someone had the same idea. Over thirty years ago. Just a short, scenic drive away from my house. A Punjabi visionary named Avatar Singh it seems saw that Indian food could, as perfect as it is, be something more. And drawing on new world influences, he created a menu of creative concoctions melding Mexican and Indian cuisine. The result still shines over thirty years later in a Sausalito restaurant with his name, Avatar's, which his family still runs. I suppose if an Indian Mexican restaurant were to happen anywhere in the 1970s, it would be in the Bay Area!

Try the punjabi enchiladas. The flavor combinations have a lot going on, but are consistently delicious. I'd strongly recommend the curried rock shrimp. For the more creative, you can even design your own fillings. And for those needing more guidance, one of my favorite things about Avatar's is Ashok Kumar. Ashok is Avatar's brother and hosts at the restaurant regularly. He rarely forgets a face or an order, and in just two minutes will have such a good read on you that he can suggest personally tailored orders. I haven't been dissapointed by his recommendations yet.

If you find yourself hunting for an adventure outside San Francisco, or crossing the Golden Gate bridge around dinner or lunch, make a stop at Avatar's. The meal will be an adventure on a plate. And I can guarantee you'll be eating something you probably won't find anywhere else.

Avatar's Restaurant
2656 Bridgeway Blvd.
Sausalito, CA

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Good Bites Pt. 2: Primavera Tamales

Today I'm sharing one of my favorite weekend indulgences. On those rare Saturday mornings when we don't have plans and I can drag Nik out of bed before 1pm, I often make a beeline for the Ferry Building Farmer's Market.

While I adore this market, it is not the prospect of waiting in a 30 minute line for Blue Bottle coffee, dodging tourists nor paying $5 for an avocado that motivate me to become presentable and face the world on a Saturday morning. Actually, it's the tamale stand.

Tamales are, like sushi and coffee, sacred things in San Francisco. Everyone's got a favorite. Some swear by the civic center or mission tamale ladies. Rustic as those tamales are - you can't beat their wheelie carts or prices - trust me, these gringa-made Ferry Building versions give them a run for their money.

You'll find them at the back of the market. Hard to miss, just follow the sound of the bad buskers that always camp out across from the stall. These lovely steamed masa delights are made by Primavera, a Sonoma-based joint that makes homemade tortillas, tamales and salsas. It's run by Karen Taylor, a self-taught chef of mexican cuisine who makes a mean chicken mole tamale and an amazing pumpkin & white cheddar one. Make sure you douse them all in the roasted tomatoe salsa that's served in a bucket at the stall.

A bit pricey for Mexican food, you might complain. But note that Taylor's ingredients are all locally sourced and organic. You're paying for that - and the travel costs from Sonoma! The good news? If you really like these, Primavera is opening a store that sells all of their products retail - so you can get them outside of the area farmers markets. . . if you're willing to drive out to Sonoma, that is.

Next time you're at the Ferry Building market, tempting as it might be to grab an Out the Door sandwich or stop at Rose Pistola in the very front of the market, venture to the back. These tamales are totally worth it.

Primavera Tamales
Ferry Building Farmers Market
Saturdays, 8am - 1pm

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Good Bites Pt 1: Fire Cracker Balls

Tucked around San Francisco are individual dishes that deserve some limelight. So I'm going to show them some love with a solo appearance on this page. And you should show them some love by ordering them when you're next in their 'hood.

We start our series with a sketchily titled, but unquestionably delicious, dish in Hayes Valley. Fire cracker balls (above left). That's right. They're on the menu at Domo Sushi, Hayes' boutique neighborhood sushi joint.

What is it you ask? Delicious, first off. It's a spicy tuna roll, coated in panko bread crumbs , fried lightly, and then covered in a mouth watering combination of spicy mayo, bbq unagi sauce, and scallions. And just to put it over the top, it's then dusted lightly with tobiko. Not something your doctor would recommend, but trust me - it's gonna make your tummy really happy.

Domo Sushi
511 Laguna St
San Francisco

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Maple Mascarpone Heaven

I adore cheesecake. For the longest time, I was an ardent believer that the best cheesecake in New York City (and I know this is a dangerous topic) lived at Veniero's Pasticceria in the East Village.

But I have found a higher order of cheesecake being. It makes its fleeting, ephemeral appearances at a famous NY eatery, a place called Babbo - owned by one Mario Batali. But credit for the creation of this amazing dessert goes to his pastry chef, Gina DePalma.

What is this magical edible thing? It's a maple-mascarpone cheesecake and it's unlike any cheesecake I've had before. The texture is so light and airy that you can eat the whole thing after a 10 course tasting menu and genuinely believe your pants won't pop off (as I did). The flavor is delicate yet rich - it comforts, and avoids over powering the taster with sweetness. And the presentation is delightful - don't dwell on it too long as this thing is better off in your mouth and tummy!

Make sure you order it. And if you dare to try recreating this piece of heaven on a plate, you can try the recipe too.

110 Waverly Place
New York, NY

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Food as Art (?)

I've been meaning to go to SFMOMA since I moved to SF. It took me over a year, but I finally made it there right before the holidays.

It was fun. I walked around, saw some Dali and Jasper Johns, relished some Olafur Eliasson and Shiro Kuramata (I want that cabinet). I had a latte in the cafe, wore my most artistic outfit, discussed politics with a disdaining tone - and walked around like an all-to-serious conneiseur of life's finer things.

But for the life of me, I really did not know how to react to the museum's special exhibition, called "The Art of Participation." At moments walking through those installations and pieces, I swung between stifling yawns, laughing aloud with incredulity, intaking my breathe sharply in wonder, appreciating profound things, and playing (see below; is it appropriate to faux-fight in a work of art?).

A range of reactions for a range of artwork. In the experimental exhibition, you can 1) drink free beer with an artist (Tom Marioni), 2) pile brooms on top of people, and 3) have your portrait taken for display - among other things. And at the end of it all, thanks to one artist's huge stack of reprinted photos, I even walked out with a piece of free photocopied art to take home with me.

One installation in particular, though, resonated with me. Against a black white wall, in a thin white shelf, one artist offered a modest sample if kitchen groceries. A green bell pepper, an orange, a banana, a carrot and a single can of food. The scribbled drawing on the side instructed viewers to, in fact, play with the food items. Make a living statue. Rearrange them on the shelf. And so, therein lay the most profound message of the whole show. For me, anyway: play with your food! After all, if it's in SFMOMA, it's haute arte. . .