Monday, February 28, 2011

Sip the Juice, Howfresh Got Enough to Go Around Vol. 1... Very Cherre Pure Tart Cherry Juice

Eric B. & Rakim- Know the Ledge

Howfresh doesn't only eat. He drinks too. He needs to wash down the copious amounts of decadent fare he consumes on a daily basis. Preferably high in antioxidants, delicious, and absolutely no high fructose corn syrup. He is known to walk around supermarkets and grocery stores perusing their beverage sections looking for the finest liquids. Sip the Juice... will become a recurring post featuring these unique nectars. So tap the bottle, and twist the cap!

Since February is National Cherry Month, it's only right to spark this with some Very Cherre Montmorency Pure Tart Cherry Juice. I got a couple minutes before the clock strikes March. What we have here is pure tart cherry juice, 100% juice from concentrate. It was pricey at $3.50 for an 11 oz. bottle, but I'm a sucker for anything cherry (especially popping them- HOLLA!!) and a cool short, round bottle. Also, the cap said "antioxidant rich", something I'm aspiring to be.

The irony with my love for cherries is that I'm allergic to them. A little OAS (oral allergy syndrome) tries to spoil the fun. But I keep telling them, you cannot stop the kid, but only hope to contain him. I have learned that fruit in the natural, raw form only cause a reaction. When cooked, canned, and/or pasteurized, the symptoms (tight, itchy throat) are absent. Happens with peaches and apricots too.

For the small amount of juice sampled (1 bottle), it was extremely enjoyable. Montmorency cherries are the most popular sour cherry in the US, found most commonly in cherry pie. When drinking, there's a subtle sweet note followed by a tartness that lingers. This interplay between sweet and sour provides quite the satisfying experience. I find it delicious and a flavor I can't tire of. Very refreshing too.

Cherries are packed with a higher amount of antioxidants than most fruits, up on a level close to blueberries. According to Very Cherre, their juice contains an Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) greater than any other fruit juice, namely pomegranate and grape. Basically, the more ORAC units one consumes, the better chance they have to fight cancer and heart disease. Cherries also contain a high amount of melatonin, another antioxidant which is a compound used to fight insomnia. Who would have thought that these tiny red orbs are a powerful superfruit. I guess what they're trying to tell you is drink cherry juice if you want to be healthy.

Howfresh was not compensated by any cherry growers association for this message. He just loves the cherry.

Eric B. & Rakim- Know The Ledge INSTRUMENTAL

Friday, February 18, 2011

Do the Uptown Bounce, Do the Uptown Bounce, Do the Up, Do the What, Do the Uptown Bounce... Harlem Food Fest 2011.

View Larger Map

It went down like this...

Zhigge- Rakin' in the Dough (Uptown Bounce Beats)

Zhigge- Rakin' in the Dough (Uptown Bounce Mix)

Zhigge- Rakin' in the Dough (Headboppers Mix)

The Situation: Between three and four hours to eat at the eminent eateries within the confines of 110th and 155th Streets according to HowFresh. Not samples or little bites, meals. Quality over quantity fams. We're not baby bulls rushing up the grassy knoll. We're Papa Bull status, enjoying the scenery, pacing ourselves to get right with the esteemed spots. And no fish. Yeah, it pissed me off too. My boy, and commenter extraordinaire Buckemdown, had some time away from life obligations and wanted to delve into the epicurean adventures in Harlem World. He reads the blog, he hears me talking about all the conquered eats and he wanted in. "A chicken leg gets eaten in the park, I want in. You guys got fat while everybody starved on the street. Now it's my turn." As long as it's not from the sea.

We had a car so maneuvering was fairly simple, just evading snow dunes and slush puddles. There was some strategy involved. The largest, most satisfying meal should lead off followed by smaller dishes, concluding on a sweet note. It's no surprise Charles' Country Pan Fried Chicken was the inaugural stop for the 2011 Harlem Food Fest. Coat the tummy well for the debauchery that was to follow. Patsy's would be hit and then there was a gray area. Play it by ear. 116th St. is teeming with African spots, some on my hit list, though I worried that fish would pose a dilemma, which it did, but you know how we do, take it back to the drawing board and re-execute. Then take it on home with some sugar, brown sugar. Ya dig!! See how it went down:

I'm on the Northeast Side of Harlem looking for a bust down, make me put my two arms up, touch down!

Charles switched things up and moved the steam table so it's front and center. No longer do you serve yourself now that a glass case protects the food from the nasty germs we bring in from the street. All good, takes a little more time, but at least ock ain't coughing on my collards. For the EXTREMELY thorough review/love letter to Charles read HERE.

You didn't think we were doing all you can eat?? My stomach's grown, but be easy. Meat and 2 sides ($9.99). Of course the fried chicken, opting for collard greens and potato salad. Bliss. Mac and cheese for tasting. A straight diabetes Arnold Palmer (half iced tea/lemonade) and a block of corned bread. Words can't explain my satisfaction with this meal.

Fried chicken sampler (boobie, thigh and leg) on Buck's plate with okra stew and baked beans. Big fan of the okra stew, and the beans were quite impressive. Just really rich, something to be wary of when dealing with all you can eat. Plan accordingly.

Le Pièce de résistance!!

Time for DIGESTION and MENTAL PREPARATION. Then hit the road.

Even though it's Black History Month, we had to pay Italians some love. Blacks and Italians love each other anyway- right? See Do The Right Thing. But pizza cures all differences. Rarely a parking spot to be found on 1st Ave., just double park and run in to place your order. For the record, Rao's was booked and couldn't fit us in.

I feel Patsy's makes one of the best slices in the city ($1.75). I opined a while back. Very thin, with a great char on the bottom. And those bubbles- I miss the days of hot bubbles on the pie. Blemishes are so attractive. Really though, I haven't had a slice from a local pizzeria with bubbles in ages. A tomato sauce that hints at sweetness but pulls away before it becomes cloying. This particular slice was too soggy, but I blame that on the rain. Must have permeated the oven. The slices are small, maybe 8" including crust, but on a marathon eating day there were no complaints.

On the road again.

Things then took a turn towards the interesting. Africa Kine, the spacious, 2nd floor Senegal eatery near the corner of 8th Avenue was the destination. Their lunch menu is limited so the possibility of an audible was very likely. At this point no alcohol had been consumed so we figured this was the opportune time to sauce it up. Mind you, Africa Kine has a BYO beer/wine policy so no laws were being broken.

Got some bottles, ascended the stairs and found an empty booth by the window. There were several diners but no waitstaff. In the past the servers are always far and few so we sat and cracked the Heiny. Finally a waitress came and we learned that only fish and lamb were available. As mentioned earlier, I had a feeling that fish would rear it's ugly, eyebrowless head. Lamb on the other hand just didn't sound appealing. So we put the open green bottles in a jacket pocket and kept looking.

Salimata, around the corner, had been on the hit list, and this was a perfect time to give it a go. 2 storefronts from the Aqsa Mosque, the bare-bones Salimata serves Halal Guinean fare. This posed a minor dilemma with the open bottles and extra brew in the bag. They do not have a BYO policy so we kept the haram liquid tucked away.

The options here were very limited as well but time was short and we weren't in the mood to keep searching. I've learned that many African spots serve a very abridged menu for lunch. And that's being generous- usually a dish or 2. The choices were a fish dish and tomato stew, so that meant tomato stew with goat accompanied by a large plate of rice ($10). The hearty, dark red stew with tender chunks of goat (and bone), carrot and potato had great flavor, but a bit oily, and by this point the Charles' meal was trying to bully the stomach. Buck stopped early, knowing there was more food to go, while my big eyes had me shoveling rice into the mouth. I find it quite difficult to let food go to waste or just sit there. As I begin this gym regimen, that's going to have to change.

One full avenue to the east was Make My Cake. Originally there were two dessert spots planned. Make My Cake and Levain Bakery, the renowned cookie maker from the Upper West Side. We weren't sure if Levain would be possible since their opening dates kept getting pushed back. Turns out that's still occurring as the ribbon cutting is set for March 1st. Very pleased they were closed, because while my eyes would say yes, my stomach couldn't have handled it.

The red velvet with cream cheese frosting at Make My Cake is all you need to know. Moist, decadent, delicious. Unfortunately all the red velvet cupcakes had toasted pecans this day so I went for another favorite, the butter cream, and some cookies for good measure. A perfect way to end a savory journey.

With the time allotted I think we did a great job. Of course there were other spots, but we weren't trying to feel rushed. Four quality eateries were visited leaving a true impression of the total dining experience (sans Patsy's- though an argument could be made that eating your slices in the car outside is the experience). Best believe if fish was approved, either Famous Fish or A Taste of Seafood would have been included. Where my seafoodies at?!?

Eating like this is no joke. Serious, serious business. Got home and passed out. Didn't have a bite of food till Sunday morning. 17 hours with no food is quite the rare occurrence. Already working on the next extravaganza.

Harlem Food Fest 2011 Itinerary:

Charles Country Pan Fried Chicken
2839-2841 Frederick Douglass Blvd. (8th Ave) between 151st & 152nd Sts.
New York, NY 10039


2287 1st Ave bet. 117th St & 118th St
New York, NY 10035

Salimata Restaurant
2132 Frederick Douglass Blvd. just south of 116th St.
New York, NY 10026

Make My Cake
121 St. Nicholas Ave. on 116th St.
New York, NY 10026

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Day for All the Lovers and Haters. 2011 Edition.

Editor's Note: Eleven additions were made to this edition, along with re-upping every track so the listening experience can live another day. Divshare just doesn't cut it anymore. Sorry boo. (The download links haven't been updated with the new tracks). This took a long time, so I hope somebody appreciates it. Laugh, love, cry, break a computer screen, give a goon hand, whatever. No violence though. You hit a chick, you should have your face broken. And chicks, don't hit your dude. Enjoy.

Originally published in 2009:

Ah, February 14th. The day of love. Or not. I've been known to ship flowers cross country, or over seas, but today I let the roses live another day. In all honesty, if you love your lady you should get her shit all year, not just on this commercially motivated excuse to pamper your girl. But shit, in the grips of an economic chokehold a bouquet of carnations and a handful of Hershey's kisses should do the job. I've been sick as a dog spending the better part of the day compiling lists of tracks that one could play for their sweetheart, or ex-sweetheart. I tried to keep it even and tried to keep it hip-hop. If an R&B track is included it's because it contains a rap cameo or jacked a hip hop beat, or just because I fucking like it. My list, my rules. Before we get into the list I need to spark it with some real crooner shit- the king of soul in my opinion, Mr. Sam Cooke. How could your girl not love you after hearing this. I know mine did.

Sam Cooke- Desire Me

And here we go with the joints. No particular order. 53 joints in total (3 have been added- they were meant to be on but got lost in the shuffle- The Light by Pharoahe, Mahogany by Eric B & Rakim, and Ex Girl to the Next Girl by Gang Starr)- wow- shit took a while, so hopefully somebody enjoys it. It's personal, so I might be missing some shit you would include in your list. If so, hit the comments section and drop your thoughts. I'm working on getting one link for the entire compilation. The links for both the Love and Hate mixes are below- click on link. If you're not familiar with divshare, you can dl the file by clicking on the divshare logo to the right of each song.

HowfreshEats Loves V-Day 2009

HowfreshEats Hates V-Day 2009

Love is in the air:

Diamond D- This One

A Tribe Called Quest- Electric Relaxation

Sean Price- I Love You (Bitch)

Eric B & Rakim- What's On Your Mind

Ghostface Killah- Camay- baked Macaroni, turkey wings...

Mary J. Blige- All My Love

De La Soul- Eye Know

Common- The Light

MF Grimm- Bloody Love Letter

The Roots- Silent Treatment

Gang Starr- Royalty

Sean Price- Heartburn

The Roots- You Got Me

Pete Rock & CL Smooth- Lots of Lovin

Pete Rock & CL Smooth- Lots of Lovin Remix

Masta Ace- Beautiful

UGK- International Player's Anthem

Amerie- Why Don't We Fall In Love Remix ft. Cam'ron- what would this mix be without any Cam?

The Pharcyde- Passin' Me By

Pete Rock- Take Your Time ft. Loose Ends

Fat Joe- All I Need

Groove Theory- Tell Me Hip Hop Remix ft. Brand Nubian

Lost Boyz- Renee

Mya ft. Jay-Z- Best of Me Remix

DJ Shadow- What Does Your Soul Look Like Part 1

Pharoahe Monch- The Light

Eric B & Rakim- Mahogany

Sterling Simms ft. Jadakiss- All I Need

Freeway & Jake One- She Makes Me Feel Alright

Donwill- Laura's Song

Joell Ortiz ft. Novel- Call Me


Mayer Hawthorne & The County- Just Ain't Gonna Work Out

Brand Nubian- Love Me or Leave Me Alone

Main Source- Walking Out the Front Door

Gang Starr- Ex Girl to the Next Girl

Da King & I- Tears

Akinyele- I Luh Hur

Biz Markie- Just a Friend

I Gotta Love- Jin ft. Kanye West

Da King & I- Tears -Darp Vibe Mix

Kurious- Nikole

Ghostface Killah ft. Keisha Cole- Walk Away

Amel Larrieux- Sweet Misery (Stretch Remix)

Original Flavor- All That

Organized Konfusion- Why?

Ghostface Killah- Tooken Back

Three Times Dope- Funky Dividends

Heavy D & The Boyz- Truthful

Smooth- You Been Played

Raekwon ft. Mika- Once In a Lifetime

Mary J. Blige ft. DMX & Nas- Sincerity

Little Brother ft. Lil' Wayne- Breakin' My Heart

Miguel ft. Raekwon & J. Cole- All I Want is You

King Sun- Undercover Letter

No love, just HATE:

Eamon- I Don't Want You Back

Jim Kahn- Ho

Ghostface Killah- Wildflower

Street Smartz- Problemz

Ghostface Killah- Never Be The Same Again

Ghostface Killah- Back Like That- the puppies are staying...

Akinyele & Kool G Rap- Break a Bitch Neck

Cam'ron- Sorry

To end this on an upbeat note, the great Teddy P. He adds such enthusiasm to heart ache. It's true though, nothing's more liberating than getting over an achy breaky heart. Fuck bitches get money!!

Teddy Pendergrass- I Don't Love You Anymore

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Punisher the Real Dope Homie.

The first Latin rapper to baffle your skull...

11 years ago (plus a day). Damn, time flies. I remember being in the office when I heard Pun passed. I was working in the music industry back then. Yes, I did work at one point in my life. My desk sat across from Don Pooh Records, a subsidiary of the label. One of their artists was Sunkiss, Pun's right hand man. A cool cat, who'd always shoot the shit for a sec before stepping into do whatever they did. Rarely in a somber mood, you knew something was up that day. He broke the news and it was a straight shock. It was obvious that Pun was in extremely poor health, but dude was young and in the prime of his career. I just remember getting on the horn and hitting my circle, who at that time were major hip hop heads. Silence, followed by "Get the fuck outta here", in some form or another was the overwhelming reaction.

It only takes a verse to understand what you're dealing with. Straight nasty. Quotables upon quotables. However you were introduced to Big Dog Punisher, be it "Firewater", "Off the Books", "You Ain't a Killer" or the Clue freestyle over "Clones", that rapid fire, crystal clear profound inteligente spit was arresting. Shit made you stop whatever you were doing and just listen. I'm an unapologetic Fat Joe fan and it's understandable to think the 2 might sound similar based on appearance- they did dub themselves "Twinz"- but once Pun spewed a lyric, game over. No surprise that... Latins going Platinum was destined to come... became a reality.

"You Ain't a Killer" was the joint that caught me hook, line, and sinker. My favorite joint off of Capital Punishment. It was a promo only 12" and pretty hard to get your hands on. I found a copy at Kim's on W. 4th and was happy as a pig in shit. Young Lord blessed the beat with those sinister pianos and Pun went berserk. You be the judge.

Big Pun- You Ain't A Killer

"Ask anybody if my men are rowdy,
Give me the mini-shottie I body a nigga for a penny probably,
I'm obligated to anything if it's crime related,
If it shine I'll take it, still in my prime and I finally made it,
I hate the fact that I'm the last edition,
Rob me a stash magician,
Could of went to college and been a mathematician,
Bad decisions kept me out the game,
Now I'm strictly out for cream,
Doing things to fiends I doubt you'll ever dream,
My team's the meanest thing you ever seen,
Measured by the heaven's Kings, down to the devil's mezzanine"

Fat Joe & Armageddon- Firewater (Big Pun Tribute)- SOBs 7/27/10

This past summer Fat Joe performed at SOBs and ripped it more than you could imagine. Even the staunchest Joey Crack hater would have to cede that Joey did his thing. As you can see, he and Armageddon blessed "Firewater" then let the track ride out with Pun's verse. It was really dope to see Joe rhyming along to the words he he could remember and just being into it, a fan, paying homage to his former Terror Squadian. I can't call whether the Liza Rios slander was hyperbole or not, but you'd be lying if you didn't acknowledge Joe repping for his boy. Don't forget, I support Pun in anything he does, anything he loves, a brother from another mother, sent from the above.

Fat Joe - Firewater (feat. Raekwon, Armageddon & Big Pun)

A classic ad Loud did for Capital Punishment. Yankees and the Bronx. Dopeness. Since I'll never have the platinum plaque I got the next best thing, the poster, even with tack holes in the corners. It will be framed one day.

Never had a chance to catch Pun live. I don't recall there being many opportunities. His career was so short-lived with poor health playing a major factor in such limited performances. My brother hit the above show at Latin Quarter when on 96th and Broadway. Why I didn't attend, not a clue. Look at that line-up- Fat Joe, Pun, MOP, Black Rob and a young unknown Eminem. Look at him playing tertiary status. Damn. Below is another heavy hitter.

Big Pun & Ghostface- Yeah Yeah Yeah (Green Mix)

Green Lantern took the a cappella from "My World" off Endangered Species and freaked it. Apropos to use Terror Squad's "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah." It's tough listening to Pun late in his career. Compared to his earlier recordings, the breathing, or panting if you will, became more pronounced and his machine gun flow became semi-automatic, if not the speed of a revolver. The toughest part is knowing he died shortly after and his weight was the direct result of that. In an eerie way it's as if he's rhyming from his deathbed. I'm here to celebrate Pun's life and not wallow in the melancholy, but it's impossible to ignore and not make mention of it. He clearly was suffering and it's evident in the music.

I'm not a player, I just fuck a lot!! Holla. When doing so you best to wrap that shit up B. One of the best promo items ever. I wouldn't suggest using this one though. Expired back in January 2001.

And last but not least, DJ Soul just released an hour plus tribute mix to Pun that I highly recommend you peep. Exclusives, freestyles, hard to find tracks and top notch mixing. Get it HERE.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Oh-oh-oh Last Night, I Ate Smelts for the Very First Time, For You...

After 7- Can't Stop

I lied, it was Saturday, not last night. The title was too good to tamper with.

When I saw the image of 3 tiny fish on the menu I acted. The dish was called Shishamo, but I hadn't a clue. It cost $4.75, an amount I was willing to gamble with. They don't call me High Roller How for nothing. The waitress said they were smelt, a fish I was familiar with but never tried.

When they were brought to the table I stared at them, not sure what to do. At 5 inches long and maybe an inch thick there isn't much room to work with. I called the waitress over, finger snaps and all that, and inquired on how to proceed. She said eat the whole thing. Beautiful. I'm not a fussy eater and these posed no fuss. I squeezed ample lemon juice on the trio and then the thoughts took over:

Were the bones going to be crunchy?

Were these going to be as strong and briny as sardines or anchovies?

And lastly, will the brains be gross?

It's safe to say that I am a moderatley adventurous eater and will try anything once, but there is always that moment of uncertainty. I'm making it sound like I ate a tarantula or some crazy shit. It's just an ittie-bittie-tittie-committee fish.

And then I bit the head off this little motherfucker. Like the savage that I am. To be honest, it was way more mild than I expected. For starters, there was no crunch of a tiny skull being shattered or eeny meeny eye balls popping. It wasn't as aggressive as the sardine or anchovy. The consistency was kind of mealy, mushy, not much tooth or chew. I took a peek into the body cavity but there wasn't much to report back. The crunchiest part was the tail. 3 was more than enough. Now I was ready to tackle May's Place 50% off sushi. To my pleasure smelts received a Good rating from the Monterrey Bay Seafood Watch. No need to purge. Holla.

Smelts are a great source of protein, similar to sardines, but high in cholesterol. With all the fish and shellfish I consume, cholesterol is a definite, and even though I enjoyed these little suckas, there are bigger fish to fry and crab to crack. Not that any fish are attractive, but these are rather ugly. Their eyes are bugging.

The One Who Smelt it Dealt it could have been the title but I gave up potty humor in 2010.

Originally I had the Little Shawn track lined up to be the headliner, but after further review, I opted for the original. It deserved top billing just based on the fact that the producer is Howie Tee. I need not say more. Here it is anyway:

Little Shawn- I Made Love (4 da Very 1st Time)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

HowfreshEats Stacks (Potato) Chips Like Hebrews Vol. 9- Top Potato Edition.

DJ Chuck Chillout & Kool CHIP - Gimme Minze

Ooooooh. Let the track knock. "Yo Chip, go bust a line or 2..."

It's been a while since I last opined about the potato. A lot has changed. If you recall, the OG Lay's Kettle Cooked was my numero uno. It's been a year plus and feelings change. Those commitment issues keep rearing their ugly head. Had to kick that bird to the curb. No wifey trifey activity, just complacency. Like Killa says, you got that old head. There's new head out there. Her name is CC. Fresh off the Hyannis sand, rocking a Polo cable knit sweater over the oxford (all in pastel hues), J Crew khaki skirt, and some Tory Burch sandals. Who would have thought. Met her at a wedding. She liked my swag, thought I was Puerto Rican at first. Killed it with the white leather loafers. All she kept saying was "call me Papas Sexy." I lied, told her I was. Pulled the Dru Ha- "I always get the potato cause I tell them that I'm Spanish." Ultimately I fessed up. We're still rocking.

7 bags this time. 3 aren't kettle cooked. It disgusts me too. 2 of those 3 are classics as I'm sure many of you would agree. Trying to lock down some North Fork Chips for the blockbuster volume 10.

Now this saddens me greatly. What you see above was intended to be volume 9. Unfortunately, for matters I prefer not to discuss, I wasn't able to execute. Route 11 chips? Who even heard of those? Peep the Utz Mystic with the double masted schooner in the background. WHAT?!? Down the drain. I could have lied. Posted on false pretense, but that's not how the H doooos. The truth is eating a bowl's worth of stale spuds didn't sound too appealing. More than that, I wouldn't have been able to fairly assess the intended chip experience. Never again.

For this post I included all pertinent info on top- size of bag, price and sodium. New to this? Peep the previous 8 "Stacks (Potato) Chips..." installments here: Vol. 1, Vol. 2, Vol. 3, Vol. 4, Vol. 5, Vol. 6, Vol. 7 and Vol. 8.

Cape Cod Kettle Cooked Original
9oz./ $3.49./ 5% sodium.

What more is there to say? I believe it was all said up top. My main squeeze. Peep the packaging. A lighthouse. I love lighthouses. Edward Hopper steez. I'm a sucker for anything nautical. A necessity in the chip crate. All mid-sized chips with a great crunch. A bit lighter than Lay's kettle cooked, we going svelte in the uno uno. Pale yellow. The perfect mix of salt and sweetness of the potato. Mild flavors that keep you coming back for more. Addictive. Can dead a bag in one sitting. These really are phenomenal.

Archer Farms Traditional Kettle Cooked
8 oz./ 2 for $5 (only available at Target)/ 7% sodium.

A good chip with a strong crunch. Turned off by the excessive amount of folded chips. Let the potatoes stretch before you bag them. Not too salty and has a bland finish. Flavors just fall off, so you keep popping them in your mouth to feel the high. Colors vary with some chips having dark streaks but primarily golden yellow.

Deep River Snacks Rosemary & Olive Oil Kettle Cooked
5 oz./ $2.29/ 7% sodium.

Where's the romaine lettuce because these are croutons. Heavy crunch similar to them too. Shouldn't be surprised based on the flavor. Strong garlic finish. I forget why I copped. Probably just to pad the numbers. Deep River makes a quality thick, crunchy chip. Herbs are visible. Another victim of too many folded chips. Golden hued. Too many ingredients for me.

Archer Farms Macaroni & Cheese Thick Cut Crinkle

8 oz./ 2 for $5 (only available at Target)/ 10% sodium.

Was fiending for some macaroni and cheese when I saw these. Amazing how that works. Not a kettle cooked chip. Thick crinkle cut, a style I'm not a fan of. One handful and you've had enough. Rich. Wouldn't get again. OD on ingredients. Orangish yellow.

Original Lantchips Scandinavian Style Chip
Free with plate of Swedish Meatballs at Ikea.

Apparently I kept these around too long because when I opened the bag these tasted like shit. I blame myself for not respecting the laws of perishability. These get a mulligan. Next time I'm looking for Billy shelves I'll make sure to cop some chips and lingonberry soda. Nice color. Golden with brown ends.

Lay's Classic Chip
11 oz./ $3.99/ 7% sodium.

"Yo How- you ain't breaking new ground with these!" I know. I know. I know. But sometimes you got to stray from the plan of action. I pride myself on kettle style exclusivity but these chips are damn good. My favorite non-kettler. The bag helps too. Yellow is attractive and appealing. Market studies say so. The bag is big and easy to dip into. The chip count decreases with the quickness. Being a picnic chip, if I was in the Cloisters with a group of people on a sunny day eating a sandwich purchased from the Doowop Deli on 207th St., I would have these by my side. Large enough to split amongst a group, small, salty and a nice crunch. A bit too greasy though. Paler side of yellow.

Lay's Lightly Salted Chip
10.5 oz./ $3.99/ 4% sodium.

Same as above, just more sensitive to the needs of the high blood pressure posse. Fairly addictive. Late addition, not part of group photo.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Ayo I'm Hungry, Gotta Get My Grub on At Totto...- Totto Ramen

The Beatnuts- Watch Out Now

Cue the flutes please. Good looks Herbie.

If you live north of 42nd St. and enjoy a tasty, hearty bowl of ramen then it is time to party. The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire!! We don't need no water let the motherfucker burn, Burn motherfucker! Burn! HOLD UP! WAIT A MINUTE! What's your Zodiac sign?!?! Capri... Wait, that's wrong.

Finally we have a pioneer willing to brave the rugged terrain north of 14th Street and sling the Japanese half soup/half amazing. Shit is crazy up there. Super tall buildings, men in suits, and tourists, those pesky tourists. His name is Ryuichi “Bobby” Munekata, sole controller of a mini empire of Japanese establishments in the midtown region specializing in yakitori. It was Mr. Munekata who was responsible for the chicken sashimi craze several years back. It didn't go over too well with the locals.

2 trips in and I'm about to say some crazy shit. You ready? Totto Ramen is the best ramen in New York City. There, I said it. Ippudo was being fed grapes on the throne while getting a manicure, unbeknownst to this uptown newcomer. This is said with great aplomb, having done the proper research. Ippudo, Momofuku Noodle Bar, Minca, Rai Rai Ken, Setagaya and others were visited, enduring football field lengths of noodles and gallons of broth. I'm not alone in this belief either. The resident ramen expert here at Howfresheats, Ramen Noodle Nico, fresh off a trip to Japan, warned me that Totto was next level before I even stepped foot in the sunken dining room on 52nd St. And I trsut him. Why? He's Asian, super Asian in fact. Filipino by way of Hong Kong, whose fam resides in Singapore, and his boss is Chinese.

Unlike the majority of ramen spots in NYC, Totto employs a chicken-based broth, straying from the typical pork bone tonkotsu version. This in itself creates a completely different dynamic. I was raised on chicken fat, good old schmaltz. Not the case with pork, which at times can be pungent and overbearing. Kosher ramen? Not exactly. The Totto Chicken Paitan Ramen ($9.25) broth gleams, silky yet rich, layered with flavor. Salty with strong hints of garlic that won't allow you to put down the spoon. It's really that good. Wavy, al dente noodles with a likeness to spaghetti, bathe in the broth alongside pork served 2 ways: sliced with a char from a blowtorch and shredded. Scallions sliced the long way and a sheet of nori are the final components of the dish. Delicious.

If you want a little kick (I refuse to make a karate reference) go with the Totto Spicy Ramen ($10.25). Rayu (spicy chili oil) and a spicy sesame oil are added to the original to turn up the heat. Very bearable. Has 2 chili peppers on the menu as opposed to the Extreme Spicy Ramen which brags 9 peppers. Nothing about that sounds remotely enjoyable. NOTHING. For texture, toasted garlic slivers and bean sprouts are added.

This dish still boggles my mentals. $4.50 for 3 large slices of lightly seared ahi tuna sitting atop several slivers of marinated avocado. Did I really just type $4.50? Yes I did. This is a special taped to the bar and the walls. Toasted garlic tops it for a little crunch and a pureed garlic sauce is on the side. The soy marinated avocado provides a tang that pairs so well with the fresh, clean tuna. I'm almost more tempted to go back for this than the ramen.

The spot is small. And be prepared to wait. My first time was an aberration. X-mas eve b-day dinner on the dolo and the place was empty. I know, I know. Who lets the birthday boy eat alone? There are approximately 10 stools at the bar though I prefer calling them front row seats. You get to see the ramen wizards at work. Tables are in the back- two 4 seaters and a 2 seater. The wait can be tough. Put your name on the hanging clipboard by the door and pray. The last trip was close to an hour wait. Miserable. The seasonal plastic waiting area helps keep out the cold but a chill still permeates.

Behind the ramen bar one of the chefs sears the pork with a small blowtorch. It's like a circus over there. Knife swallowing towards the back.

The magic cauldrons. Dare not look inside or else.

In all efforts to prevent being labeled partial to the West Side, Mr. Munekata opened a sister ramen establishment, Hide-Chan Ramen, way down the same street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. It resides on the second floor, replacing one of his previous restaurants. It's swine-time over there, specializing in the tonkotsu broth. It is next-up on the hit list. Review coming soon.

Totto Ramen
366 W. 52nd St. bet. 8th & 9th Aves. closer to 9th
New York, NY 10019
Mon - Fri 12pm - 12am
Sat - Sun 5pm - 11pm