Tag Archives: bacon

The American Dream

The American Dream is a package I put together for the 4th of July weekend, but since it was so popular, I decided to keep it available for a bit.

What You Get

1) Two dry aged Duroc pork chops, weighing in at 20-24 oz each;

2) A pound of thick cut bacon;

3) A pound of dry aged tenderloin tails;

4) And a 16oz Wagyu New York strip (my favorite steak of all time).

The Price Tag

Just $125 for about 88-96 ounces of delicious, high quality meat. I’ve marked this package down from $165, so get on it while I’m still feeling patriotic!

ORDER HERE

DIY Hibachi & Yakitori

I built this cool hibachi grill using some clay pots that I picked up at Home Depot.

As you can see, the first thing I cooked on it was some thick cut bacon. That’s lamb bacon, by the way. Really nice.

I lit the coal brick with a blowtorch.

This baby made my apartment really smokey because the fat drippings were hitting the hot coal. Otherwise, if there was no fat dripping, the hibachi was relatively smokeless. The cooking itself was more like a slow roast. I think, since I only used one brick, that made the process take longer. Next time I’ll try with two or three.

Chef’s Cut Jerky

I recently got to sample a bunch of different jerky flavors from Chef’s Cut at The Great Big Bacon Picnic in Brooklyn. While the samples they were serving were mainly uncured bacon (in the spirit of the festival), I did try three flavors of said protein, so I figured that was enough for a full product review.

Sriracha is by far the best of the three bacon flavors.

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It was spicy but mellowed out by the natural sweetness of bacon. Really the perfect savory snack if you ask me. Get a bag ASAP, or a gross of boxes stacked high on a warehouse skid of bags. Hope you can drive a forklift…

We also tried maple and applewood. I preferred the maple, but the crew I was with liked the applewood. Either way you win, though, because it’s all fucking bacon.

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As you might expect, this company also makes regular beef jerky, chicken jerky and turkey jerky in various other unique flavors. One that looked nice to me was the buffalo chicken jerky. I’ll  have to try that fucker next.

The Great Big Bacon Picnic

I’m going to keep this short and sweet so you guys can get right down to the food pictures. The Great Big Bacon Picnic is an awesome multi-day event that was held in Brooklyn at the old Pfizer factory to celebrate the awesomeness of bacon. There were tons of businesses and restaurants there, so we got to try a ton of shit. I will highlight the good stuff and give a few extra words here and there. Enjoy.

Best bite of the day was at Tres Carnes, a pork belly taco. Nice and simple, super delicious.

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Meatball with bacon and collared greens from Handcraft:

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Bacon bananas foster with peanut butter:

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Bacon bread pudding from The Brooklyn Tree:

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Some varied flavor selections from the bacon bar:

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Lots of fun to be had with fellow foodies:

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Bacon chocolate chip cookies and Rhoda of Rhoda Cookies:

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Various sliders and mini BLTs were all over the place, all delicious:

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Bacon dust beignets!

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And sriracha bacon jerky from Chef’s Cut. Awesome. I’ll be doing a separate jerky review for this product with more info.

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Hometown BBQ

My first run-in with Hometown BBQ came when I attended Meatopia, a meat lover’s paradise that takes place on the piers over in Hell’s Kitchen. There, I met some of the people and pit masters behind Hometown, and I was thoroughly impressed with everything they presented that day, especially the beef rib.

Needless to say, I made it a priority to get over there and try more.

Hometown is a mix of Texas and Carolina styles – serving up a healthy smattering of both beef and pork, dry and sauced – but it has a heavy NYC influence to the flavor profiles, and the pit masters take lots of free license concerning BBQ fusion ideas.

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As I mentioned in my Guide to Regional BBQ Styles, I believe that NYC is emerging as its own distinctly amazing BBQ style, especially given the varied immigrant communities that touch on the lives of all in this great city.

Hometown takes advantage of that diverse cuisine-culture, as all of the ownership, management and pit masters come from either New York, Brooklyn or elsewhere in the five boroughs. As a result you have menu items like (1) Jamaican jerk baby back ribs, (2) Italian sausage, (3) Chinese sticky ribs, (4) Vietnamese lamb belly banh mi sandwiches and chicken wings, (5) Jewish pastrami-spiced bacon (sinful!), and (6) Oaxacan marinated wood fired chicken and tacos.

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As you can see, the menu is quite varied. And the pit masters will grab anything that comes their way and spin it into a great BBQ fusion dish, whether it’s beef tongue, duck, or whatever, on any given day. Turkey and chicken make a solid presence here. My only regret is that I was too full to try the turkey, wood fired chicken, and Vietnamese chicken wings.

So here’s what we had:

(1) Lamb Belly: This was actually our least favorite of all the meats, but that is by no means an indictment of quality. Think of it this way: You can choose five pounds of gold, or ten pounds of gold. Which do you choose? Ten, of course, but five is still awesome. This meat had all the great soft, yet sticky-crisp flavors that you associate with belly meat, but with the fat flavor of lamb. I can definitely see how this might go well on a banh mi sandwich, as per the menu offering.

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(2) Pulled Pork: This was delicious, especially when adding a little bit of the spicy (bright red) BBQ sauce to it. The meat itself wasn’t over sauced at the outset, of which I was highly appreciative, and it had both a nice sweetness and pickle-pop to it that didn’t overpower.

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(3) Brisket: This was probably my favorite. It was very juicy and had tons of smokey flavor. If you’re a smoke fiend, then add a touch of the smokey BBQ sauce (darker colored container), and you’re instantly transported to wood-fired heaven.

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(4) Italian Sausage: I loved this Brooklyn spin on the classic BBQ joint sausage link. While I do love me some Texas hot links and classic Bavarian sausage, this was a welcome change of pace. It was cleverly served with a light tomato sauce, though it didn’t taste exactly like a traditional parsley and cheese Italian link. The pungent smoke, fire roasted peppers and aged provolone added a whole different dynamic to the meat that truly made it Italian BBQ fusion.

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(5) Jamaican Jerk Baby Back Ribs: Wow. These were really interesting. The jerk spice and sauce create a nice thin bark on the outside, but the smoke causes the flavors to permeate through the entirety of the meat. This was a unique execution of baby back ribs.

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(6) Pastrami Bacon: Pastrami and bacon are two words that perhaps don’t belong together in the NYC Jewish community, as it is straight up not Kosher for Passover, but this was pure heaven as far as sinful eating goes. Crispy, fatty, meaty and all around perfectly cooked, this grill-kissed slab bacon came with a velvety honey mustard sauce that actually paired great with all of the meats we tried.

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We didn’t get down on any sides. Next time. We were so focused on the meat that we lost sight of the other goodies on the menu. I wish we ordered some whiskey sour pickles. My eyes were so dazzled by the meat selections that I completely missed them when I was reading the menu. BBQ + Pickles = Heaven. I am ashamed…

The bars here are great, too, by the way: one in the front, one in the back. They have a Texas vibe, and the drinks are somewhat reasonably priced for the city. My Tecate and neat Jameson came to $13: $4 for the beer and $9 for the whisky.

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The atmosphere here is awesome. It feels like you’re in a warehouse barn that has several fires burning. The smells are invigorating, warm and inviting. This was a perfect refuge from the downpour and cold weather that was happening the day I came here.

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That’s the back room. In the front (through the door to the right of the bar), there’s another big bar room with more tables and a small stage for live music performances. This is the counter where you order your food:

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In short, Hometown is my favorite BBQ joint in the area. It seriously fucking blows away the competition.

UPDATE 7/2/16

My wife and I hit this fucking place like champs today. Here’s a rundown of what we ordered:

Lamb Belly Banh Mi: This shit was legit. The sandwich was packed with good lamb belly meat, and the flavors of the pickled items were just right. The bread was perfect – a buttery French baguette. This baby got the seal of approval from my wife, so you can trust that it is really fucking good. Only downside: there is still some connective tissue in the lamb belly servings. I noticed this last time but didn’t mention it above, because I thought it was maybe a one-off thing.

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Chinese Sticky Ribs: I liked these a lot but the wife thought they were too sweet. The flavors were really layered. Spice, sweetness, and the meat was perfectly cooked to the point where you can bite it and see your teeth marks in the meat.

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Vietnamese Crispy Wings: Another win here. These full wings were nicely crisped and coated with a really delicious tangy and spicy Vietnamese-inspired sauce. Very easy to eat all day.

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Beef Rib: This was a monster. The meat was absolutely perfect. The bark on the outside gives it a textural crunch as well as a shot of electrifying flavor. Fucking awesome. It may be pricey, but if you come here and you don’t get one of these, then you’re a dick.

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Whisky Sour Pickles: This time I remembered to get a side. Since we were having some bread with the banh mi sandwich, I figured I’d steer clear of carbs. The pickles were a wise choice, as they went perfectly with the meats.

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I can’t wait to go back for round three, during which I will try the wood fired chicken and smoked turkey.

HOMETOWN BBQ
454 Van Brunt St
Brooklyn, NY 11231

Parm

My wife and I stopped in here on a Friday night for a quick meal at the bar. We heard great things but never had a chance to try before.

We ordered three items: meatballs, fried calamari with shishito peppers, and the Randy Levine sandwich, which came with fries.

First, let’s start with the weirdly named item: the Randy Levine. It’s a sandwich made of pork belly, plum sauce, Chinese mustard, half-sour pickles and garlic bread. It’s named after something that the president of the Yankees had once eaten in the Catskills.

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Unfortunately the “slow cooked” pork belly was a bit too chewy. I attribute that to fat content that was not cooked long enough at low temperatures to get good and soft. Also the glaze on it tasted a bit bitter and burnt. Bummer.

The fries that came with it, however, were excellent. They’re called “Italian fries” because they’re tossed with herbs and parmesan cheese, I suspect. Nicely cooked and crisp, golden brown.

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The meatballs were great, and I’m a stickler for these fucks. Nothing beats mom’s meatballs. Since these came off as the soft, long-cooked stewed kind, I did find it odd that the center looked medium rare. That had me concerned about whether they used veal or pork in the mix. In any case, no tummy aches from raw meat, and the flavors were great – even the red sauce. It was light and flavorful. Still though: the best way to make a meatball is to fry them in a pan first, get a crispy coating on the outside that locks in the juices, and then slow cook in the sauce on low for a while.

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The star of the meal for my wife (for me it was the meatballs) was the fried calamari with shishito peppers. They had a great crispy crust, a good ratio of rings to tentacles, and the peppers offered a great pop of flavor to mix things up.

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All in the bill came to $85 with tax and tip, which also included a beer and a glass of wine. A bit pricey, but at least three of the four items we ate were tasty.

PARM
235 Columbus Ave
New York, NY 10023

Sweet & Spicy Bacon Candy

This one is pretty simple, and it’s something my wife and I make on occasion as a snack for holiday meals.

Get a pack of pre-cooked bacon and sprinkle some brown sugar, cayenne pepper and chocolate powder all over the slices. Bake in the oven to crisp up the bacon and to melt the chocolate and sugar. EAT!

You CAN make the bacon from scratch and skip the pre-cooked aspect, but I like shortcuts. You can find some very good pre-cooked bacon out there these days.

Sarabeth’s

We visited the Key West location of this joint for brunch and liked it a lot. I had a poached salmon cobb salad with a side of duck bacon.

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The salad was on point – salmon was perfectly cooked, and all the components came together nicely. The duck bacon tasted a lot like turkey bacon, and it had a similar texture as well.

The Pines

NOTE: THIS JOINT IS NOW CLOSED

Last month when I was at Meatopia I had the pleasure of meeting John Poiarkoff, the genius chef behind the wheels of steel at The Pines in Brooklyn.

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In our inevitable conversation about meat and steak, I discovered that his carnivorous endeavors at the restaurant were not only out of the ordinary and interesting, but exemplified that rare love of beef possessed only by a true connoisseur.

For example, he explained how the blade steak (aka Denver cut, part of the chuck) on the menu was prepared sous vide style. It bathes for several hours in a sealed bag, allowing the tentacle-like marbling to render down, making the steak super tender before it gets seared off in a pan for a nice outer crisp.

He also mentioned that he had some rib eyes in an outdoor walk-in that he converted into a dry-aging room. When he said how long they were in there, 106 days, I nearly lost my shit. I kindly asked him again. “How long did you say?” 106 days!

He went on to say that they would soon be breaking the rack down into portioned cuts and serving them as special menu items. Needless to say, I was all over it. I made sure to follow The Pines on Instagram and to keep my eye out for any news about that steak. Sure enough, just a few weeks later I saw the post announcing that they were going to be serving those rib eyes. The very next day my wife and I headed over.

To my excitement, the menu was chock full of delicious looking meat goodies. We sipped on a pair of nice cocktails while we wrestled with what to order.

On the left is The Pines, a rye drink with douglas fir (burnt/smoked pine needles for a really nice woodsy, aromatic nose) and yuzu; on the right is the Air & Sea, a gin drink with dulse, lemon and violet.

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We ended up going for three entrees instead of the traditional apps, sides and entrees routine. But before our first item came out, John sent over an order of duck rillettes. This is aged duck served terrine style with a pastrami sandwich theme: dill sauce (it tasted like pickles), a cabbage kraut, mustard and crunchy puffed rye grains.

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This inventive dish threw us for a tasty loop, and it set the tone for what was one of the most fun, innovative and delicious meals we’ve had in a long time.

John paired the duck with this really smooth, clean sake:

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Oh and there was this nice little amuse of carrot soup/puree with sage oil. It had a spicy and smoky kick to it.

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Our first entree was pork jowl. If you’ve never had this, it is essentially bacon from the face of a pig. It’s cured, smoked cheek meat. If you know anything about the cheek meat of an animal, you know that it is some of the most tender and sought after bits of goodness you can find. This tasted like really awesome smoked bacon. It was savory yet slightly sweet, and sat on a pumpkin and cabbage pancake that was somewhat reminiscent of corn bread.

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I could very happily eat that shit every morning for breakfast, though I may be tempted to throw a fried egg on top – you know – because breakfast is the perfect time to eat like a savage barbarian. Anyway this dish wasn’t heavy or greasy like you might expect from bacon. The curing and smoking helps in that respect.

Our first steak dish came out next. After hearing about that blade steak, I couldn’t pass it up.

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John mixed the normal blade steak plate up a bit and served it with some roasted broccoli, braised oxtail and cheesy potato puree.

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As you can see, there’s even a bit of shaved horseradish over the top to punch up the salt and tie the meat in with the potato. Really nice.

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This steak is incredibly good. John has taken a lesser known, less desirable and rarely featured cut and showcased it in a way that will have you searching for it in every restaurant. It’s easily 10/10 for flavor. It was so juicy and tender inside. Perfectly cooked, as you can see, and the sear on the outside locked in all that flavor. It was super crispy on the outside without any part of the inside getting cooked beyond medium rare. Just awesome!

John paired this with a unique and unexpected rose, which had some tartness to it. The cool thing about The Pines is that, if you’re interested, you can learn a lot about the food you’re eating and the stuff you’re drinking. John gets to know all the people who provide his source material. The vintner of this wine, for example, or the farmers and ranchers who provide the meat and produce. He gets to know their stories, and he shares it with diners for a more rich, engaging experience. I dig and appreciate that, and it’s exactly what I was talking about on here recently – that I want to see more of it.

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I should probably mention here that The Pines sources all of its beef from Happy Valley Meat Co., which is based out of Central PA. Both John and his sous chef Neel Patil (the creative force behind the duck rillettes dish, featured above) are extremely modest in that they attribute so much credit for the success of their menu to those farmers. While much credit is indeed deserved by the farmers, it is very easy to fuck up good meat if you don’t know what you’re doing. John and Neel clearly deserve as much credit as the farmers, because they knocked the beef dishes out of the park!

So now comes the big boy – the 106-day, dry-aged rib eye. John explained that the process for these is as follows: First it hits a hot grill for a little smoke and sear, and those lovely grill marks. Then it gets a nice warm sous vide bath. Last, it hits a hot pan to lock in all the juices and get a crispy sear. Thrice cooked rib eye! Here’s a shot of John holding our cut before it hits the pan:

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And here it is after the pan, resting, but before serving. Just look at that gorgeous sear!!!

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While we waited for it to be sliced and plated, John rolled out another pairing for us.

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This wine was truly incredible. He poured us a taste from two different bottles: one that was just opened 30 minutes prior, an another that was already opened for two days.

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The difference was astounding. The freshly opened wine was really nice and flavorful, full bodied and robust without being overpowering. It had a nice round, smooth finish. The wine that was opened for two days had all the same characteristics, but the after taste was of dry aged beef or truffled charcuterie. It was incredible! I kept going at it. It was like having a delicious meat snack with each sip, and it reminded me of the awesome Trufa Seca sausage I had with my latest Carnivore Club box. It paired perfectly with the steak.

Anyway then the masterpiece came out:

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It was plated with grilled Japanese mushrooms, bone marrow, potatoes that were pretty much confit style, and this awesome kimchi cabbage that was finished with rendered beef fat:

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This right here is the best steak I’ve ever eaten at a non-steakhouse, and I can tell you it seriously rivals the best steakhouses as well – it may even be better than all of them.

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I’m still trying to wrap my mind around how incredible this thing was, and I don’t know if it can really compare to anything I’ve had at a steakhouse other than the long bone wagyu rib eye at Del Frisco’s. This thing is really in that kind of league. And look at how perfectly executed this thing is:

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It was so tender and flavorful. Every bite was a “wow,” and the cap was fucking INSANE! I’ve never had anything like it before. I was expecting a lot of game and funk with this meat, but it was just the right subtle amount of “blue cheese” flavor. It came out most when I smeared some marrow onto the slices of eye meat. And the fat around the cap was even softer and more delicious than the marrow.

I don’t know how we did it, but we managed to fit dessert into our guts as well. Probably because what we saw on the menu was new and unique. We had to try something.

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We went back and forth between two and ultimately left it in John’s hands. He came out with both; the chocolate cake, and the miso butterscotch pudding.

The chocolate cake was mildly sweet because it was expertly cut by the cashew and sage ice cream. The pomegranate balanced the whole thing with a nice acidic and tart zing.

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The miso butterscotch pudding is definitely something for the more adventurous dessert person. I seemed to focus my attention more on the celery ice cream than the pudding at first, but that pudding was so freaking good. The ice cream was like a palette cleanser, and the pudding was creamy and velvety – almost like a liquified peanut butter in texture – extremely innovative.

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With dessert, we sipped on a trio of amaro selections, as well as a bitter lemon soda digestif that was made in house. Of these, our favorite was the Brovo #1 (center). It had a spicy cinnamon flavor that was easy to drink. And, as is true with the other stuff above, you can learn all about the people who make these spirits as you dine, because John and his staff are happy to share that information with you if you’re interested, like we were.

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Want to hear something really amazing? This is the kitchen:

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So small, yet so powerful. It is run like a well-oiled machine by incredibly skilled mechanics, pumping out what is absolutely some the finest food in NYC.

Please do yourselves a favor and go here. They may even give you a quick tour of the aging room out back if you ask nicely. Take a look at the ducks and steaks aging away! I think those ducks are at two weeks, and the steak is something like 86 days.

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I went back with a crew of food bloggers and instagrammers for a nice meal around the holidays.

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Here’s a photogasm of everything we ate, which included a duo of rib eyes – one aged for 35 days and another aged for over 80 days.

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Molasses gingerbread cookies stuffed with fois gras and pistachios:

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Kale salad with toasted barley:

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Grilled radicchio salad:

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Roasted broccoli with shaved horseradish:

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Fettuccine with mussels and chilies in a Parmesan cream sauce:

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Presentation of beef!!!

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Post slicing:

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Gnawing on the bone is always fun:

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Dessert 1: bread pudding.

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Dessert 2: herbaceous chocolate ganache.

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We even drank some Japanese whisky from a bone marrow slide!

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Chef John even got in on the action. Marrow luges rule!!!

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THE PINES
284 3rd Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11215

Slappy Cakes

Slappy Cakes 

This place is a chain that lets you cook your own pancakes at the table on a skillet.

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You order your batter – we chose lemon poppy, their seasonal batter – and then you start making shit.

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Some people get very creative. Check out this design!

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We also tried a funky item – chicken fried bacon. Thick cut bacon that has been battered and deep fried like chicken. What could go wrong? Well, it was a bit heavy. I’m not used to taking on breakfast too often anymore – I usually skip – so this was a bit much for me. I was full until dinner.

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I should also mention the cool drinks we had here. These were non-alcoholic, though they do offer alcohol drinks here as well. Really good lemon and fizz type drinks. All very fresh.

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