About Traveling Foodie a.k.a DrFoodie

My Photo

I am a clinical veterinarian in New England.  I absolutely love to travel and experience new cultures, mainly through cuisine. My reviews cover a multitude of different food & cocktail related events from food trucks to philanthropic food-related events and festivals. I like to think of myself as: Veterinarian by day Foodie by night! This blog was launched October 2011. I'm a huge advocate of the nose-to-tail movement and an avid enthusiast of prohibition era and craft cocktails! Sit back and enjoy...I hope this blog encourages you to try something new like book a ticket, pack a bag, and eat to your heart's desire in a new place! How I'd describe myself in a few words/phrases: Food+Travel Blogger, Freelance Food Writer (Past regular contributor on The Bay State Banner newspaper's blog Turn It Up Boston dot com), Jersey Girl (born and raised), Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc Woman, Veterinarian, Surgery Lover,Travel Addict, Devoted Gourmand, Proud 2 time Tuskegee University Graduate, Social Butterfly, Girly Dress Hoarder, Stiletto Addict, Classic Cocktail Enthusiast "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming “WOO HOO ― Bill McKenna

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Lunch at David Chang's Momofuku Noodle Bar, East Village, NYC (171 1st Ave btwn 10th & 11th)


 
Photo Credit: Momofuku Facebook Page

David Chang’s Momofuku has been credited with having led the advent of the ramen movement in the U.S.  He, arguably, put the delicious soup on the proverbial map on this continent for many of people.


It is always interesting to me how many people looked at me with puzzled faces whenever I mentioned my 45+ day love affair with the classic Japanese soup, which to be clear and historically correct, ramen was introduced to Japan by Chinese immigrants and traders over a century ago.  Immediately, their first thoughts were of the packaged dried noodle, spices, and vegetables we all survived on in college or even, for some, as job-hunting adults. 


Nissin Foods founder Momofuku Ando is credited with the instant noodle’s introduction (1958 and in stores 1971), but the dish as a whole far surpasses the reconstitution of Cup Noodles and Top Ramen in the U.S.

The narrow perception of some Americans where international cuisine is concerned-especially those that are not-so-well-traveled or, even worse, those not willing to "eat outside the box" or outside of their comfort zone-is devastatingly and overwhelmingly sad to me.

As the RamenRater, a legally blind man out of Washington who has changed the bloggersphere by tasting instant noodles from multiple countries all over Asia and becoming famous for it, stated during recent interview with Lucas Peterson on www.luckypeach.com
"I’m not a rich man, by any means—my whole philosophy is that I do all of my traveling through my palate. Every time I try one, it’s something new. I very, very rarely eat a variety twice. It would be a waste, since it’s a chance to add to my list of conquered instant noodles."

In fact, it has been established that the instant noodles we look upon as the food of the poor and struggling are part of the diet for lower to upper class people in Asia.
Ramen is a style/type of Asian noodle like soba, udon, vermicelli, mein, etc. 
My home state of New Jersey is also the home (Hawaii being the first) of a famous ramen noodle production company where the noodles have been produced for restaurants all over the United States since 1981!  
Sun Noodle provides noodles to Momofuku Noodle Bar (NYC), Union Republic (NJ) and many others. 
They also intermittently open for classes and tastings at their Edgewater, NJ location.

Eating at Momofuku Noodle Bar is a dream for many a ramen-lover.  
I recently (years after the ramen boom) have fallen deeply in love with steaming bowls of beautiful broth filled with perfect noodles, veg, and meats from Paris to Boston, to NYC and there’s no real foreseeable end to my madness.  And that suits me just fine.

Ramen is immensely diverse from the style of tare (the base of the broth)- shio (salt), shoyu (soy sauce), or miso (fermented beanpaste); tonkotsu style broth; and a variety of toppings including pork (minced, sliced, belly, offal), chicken, seafood, tofu, a variety of vegetables, lard, spices, and herbs. 
Often times there's also a boiled, soft/runny or raw egg and occasionally a tea or soy egg.  

The show stoppers are always the broth and the noodle.

Then there's Tsukemen style where noodles and broth are served separate and you enthusiastically dunk the noodles into the broth before slurping them.  

Mazemen is a brothless version where all ingredients are in the same bowl and mixed together upon eating, like a Korean Bibim Guksu (Bibimbop with noodles versus rice).


Momofuku's Mazemen: Ginger Scallion Noodles with pickled shiitake, cucumber, cabbage, and pork shoulder with kombu





Other delicious, popular noodle soups include , Beef Noodle Soup and Ka Tieu (Taiwan), Pho and Banh Canh (Vietnam), Banmian (China), Laksa (Malaysia), and many more!
Check out my ramen runs in Paris, here.

 Before dousing with sriracha, gochujant, or any other sauces, savor the broth, chew the noodle, take in the steam, then slurp like there’s no tomorrow…it’s absolutely, culturally acceptable.
As we awaited the text message declairing that our table was available, we visited a shop up the street for a few gyoza to whet our appetite.


At Momofuku Noodle Bar, before ordering our individual ramen and mazeman choices, we enjoyed a few other stapled small plates.
 
Momofuku's umami-forward, garlicky kimchi was excellent!  Bright, funky, tangy, crisp, brined then fermented napa cabbage with carrots, Korean chili, fish sauce, herbs and spices.  We ordered it to taste alone and with the dishes we planned to sample-especially the bao. 




Shrimp & Grits with Benton's bacon, a poached egg, and scallions

We loved the Shrimp & Grits 
The tender, plump shrimp rested in the center of Ansel Mills coarse, yellow grits cooking in dashi broth (I believe) to the consistency of congee.  
Chewy bits of Benton's hickory smoked, brown sugar/salt/pepper-cured bacon out of Tennessee, a perfectly poached egg, and chopped scallions.
We politely avoided licking the bowl...because our mamas raised us better than that!



An even more amazing dish was the caramelized Brussels sprouts roasted and served in a light, sweet dashi broth and tossed with crunchy, halved, toasted hazelnuts, and diced bitter-sweet green apples.  
Like icing on a cake, the dish was topped with dancing shavings of katsuobushi (dried, fermented, aged, petrified tuna) also called bonito flakes, imparting umami flavor to an already earthy, sweet, and sour dish.

Katsuobushi Block.  The block is shaved over dishes.    Photo Credit: "Katsuobushi block" by Andy king50

  
We seriously could not get enough!  
It was the one dish we ordered that we would not allow to leave the table until we finished every last morsel...
"make room for the Brussels!"


Brussels Sprouts, Dashi broth, Green Apples, Toasted Hazelnuts, Katsuobushi


Brussels Sprouts, Dashi broth, Green Apples, Toasted Hazelnuts, Katsuobushi

The wings were perfectly smoked and sticky with a bit of heat with garlic, pickled chili, and scallions.
 
Smoked Chicken Wings- garlic, pickled chili, scallions

Of course we sampled the bao (steamed buns).  We ordered the brisket buns- thick, juicy, tender cuts of brisket rested on horseradish, pickled red onion, and cucumber sandwiched between soft, moist steamed buns.
  I added a bit of the kimchi for extra kick and texture.


Brisket bao
Brisket bao topped with housemade kimchi

NOW FOR THE RAMEN BOWLS!!!

The ramen, procured from Sun Noodle (Edgewater, NJ) provided toothsome, springy bites with the kinks picking up the perfect amount of broth and fresh ingredients.

The Ginger Scallion Noodle Bowl
A mazemen (brothless) bowlAtop perfect noodles sat slivers of pickled shiitake mushrooms, cucumber, scallions, and cabbage with tender, shredded pork shoulder.


Ginger Scallion Noodle Bowl


Spicy Miso Ramen
Smoked chicken, poached egg, and spinach.
The rich broth packed nice heat with tender slices of chicken afloat.

Spicy Miso Ramen

Spicy Miso Ramen

Classic Momofuku Ramen 
Pork belly, Pork Shoulder, Poached Egg, Scallions, and Narutomaki (traditional fish cake role with pink spiral)
The Momofuku classic ramen was beautifully balanced. A flavorful bowl of rich broth, tender shreds of pork shoulder and thick cut, perfectly fatty pork belly.  Simply delicious!

Momofuku Ramen

Momofuku Ramen

We had a blast!

Cheers to David Chang and team for a beautiful experience.  My two girlfriends are now new ramen lovers!  Can't wait to visit other restaurants in the group!  
See ya in March!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Café Restaurant La Gramont, La Frégate, and L'Egrégore Café in Paris, France

On the dreary days in Paris, it was great to walk into a cafe for a warm sip and some comfort food.

Across the Seine River with a view of the Louvre and Musée d'Orsay on the left bank (7th Arrondissement) is a little corner tourist cafe called La Frégate.  


The building is built on the site of the house of Marshal d’Artagnan, the character who inspired The Three Muskateers, and was named after the frigate that docked under Le Pont Royal in the 1870’s.
It is also a block away from the flat where writer/historian Voltaire, with whom I share my birth date-November 21 (in theory) died on May, 30 1778.



The heating lamps dotting the space where the outdoor seating was were attractive as were a few of the hot cocktails.

We sipped on Vin chaud (hot spiced wine/mulled wine) and Grog au rhum (Rum toddy-unfortunately not spiced) and people watched.

Vin chaud and Grog au rhum

For a simple, filling lunch, I enjoyed a couple of bites at Café
Restaurant La Gramont on the corner of Rue Gramont and Boulevard Italiens in the 2nd Arrondissement where I was staying at a friend's apartment.
I found the refreshing Remoulade aux pommes vertes et queues d'ecrevisses (Shredded green apple and crayfish tails in remoulade sauce) to be light and delicious with tart, creamy flavors and textures and tender sweet crayfish tails.  The Balsamic drizzle imparting the nice acidity and tang!

Remoulade aux pommes vertes et queues d'ecrevisses (Shredded green apple and crayfish tails in remoulade sauce)

The Croque Madame was decent with a crisp-edged sunny side up egg, and gruyere, soft-centered toast, savory ham.  The accompanying salad was dismal at best, but the hearty, thick cut, steak fries made up for it.

Croque Madame

Croque Madame

I came upon L'Egregore Cafe in the Louvre / Palais-Royal
 neighborhood after a disappointing dinner at Au Pied de Cochon.  Co-Owner Stephane was charming.  Having worked in the states (Boston at one point), we chat a bit about his culinary/restaurant experiences.  The space was quaint and casual- cute downstairs cafe area with a small 2-3 seats bar.  A couple of regulars and a group of young adults came in during my visit. 


Stephane and the chef gave me a tour of the kitchen and the adjacent upstairs dining space overlooking  Rue Croix des Petits Champs.




Stephane invited me back for a lunch service which I had heard good things about but, unfortunately, couldn't fit into my schedule during the rest of the week.  
Though my dinner meal was not spectacular (overcooked steak), I did appreciate a few Four Roses bourbons...




Sunday, January 11, 2015

Succulent Sundays (Ramen Edition): A Weekly Celebration of My Favorite Personal Food Photography

Some of my favorite bowls of ramen over the past month and a half obsession:

Higuma in Paris, France:
Champon Lamen
Pork and Squid ramen with cabbage, carrots, onion, fresh noodle, topped with pickled ginger.

                                                                      Union Republic Jersey City, NJ                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Spicy Ramen                                                                        Chorizo, citrus yogurt, shredded daikon radish, and a soft egg


Union Republic, Jersey City, NJ
Nose to Tail Ramen
Crisped pig's ear slices, pork belly, and seared heart

Momofuku Noodle Bar NYC

Momofuku Ramen pork belly and pork shoulder, NYC
                                                                                              Shojo Boston                                  Squid Ink Ramen with Shrimp and enoki mushroom

Monday, December 29, 2014

Union Republic: More Than Just Ramen, Jersey City, NJ

 














I was so excited to learn of a place serving great ramen in my home state.  Of course I could easily cross into NYC just 20 miles from the door of the home where I grew up for ramen at Momofuku (which I did the next day in fact), but to discover Union Republic in my backyard was a treat and source of pride.

 I have been on a ramen kick for about a month, so everywhere I've traveled within the last 30 days (Including Paris), I've been on the look out.

Though Union Republic, Chef Gregory Torrech and Noah Sexton's second Jersey City venture, has great ramen options, we sampled other great dishes.

The space upon entering has a quaint cafe feel with chalkboard menus.  Then it opens up into a much larger space with an open kitchen, chef's bar, more formal, yet comfy seating and high ceilings.  Across the room was a area with long high tops where everyone shared a staff meal and I imagine patrons can sit with their laptops and lattes.
 We were greeted warmly and seated against one of the tall windows.

I eventually chat with Chef Ryan (who's favorite Boston spots include Drink and Toro) and co-owner Chef Greg Torrech as they prepared food in the kitchen.  

Chef Ryan preparing warm octopus salad.  Co-Owner/Chef Greg Torrech preparing pasta.

The Menus 

  



We started with a perfect Scotch egg made with UR's housemade, perfectly seasoned Lincolnshire sausage, crisp panko breading, and housemade smoked whole seed mustard.  
The arugula and baby spinach salad featured slivers of celery that I just could not get enough of with a sweet brine and perfect crunch.  I love Scotch eggs and this was one of the best I've had.


Scotch egg
The warm octopus salad was not only beautiful in presentation, but flavors.  The octopus was amazingly tender.  I loved the roasted, buttery fingerling potatoes, sweet grape tomatoes, and chorizo that I would have liked to be more spicy.  All were tossed with a light vinaigrette over fresh arugula and spinach salad.


Warm octopus salad
The Ramen

I ordered the Spicy Ramen with chorizo, citrus yogurt, shredded daikon radish, and a soft egg.  The broth was rich and dark with a hint of spice.  The citrus yogurt added a brightness that was appreciated.  The noodles (procured from longstanding SunNoodle in Edgewater, NJ) were perfect!



The Nose to Tail Ramen was terrific.  Everyone knows how much I adore offal and nose-to-tail dining.
We talked about the crispy, crunchy slices of pig's ears for hours after dinner and a bit the next day!  It also included pork belly and seared heart.  The culture-meshed Sofrito-Shoyu broth was full of flavor and depth.

Nose to Tail Ramen with crisp pig's ear slices, pork belly, and seared heart.

The kitchen sent out a lovely creme brulee which served as a perfect end to a great dinner!


The cafe also sells locally-sourced artisan products.  It's just a feel good, comfortable kind of place.
Union Republic is definitely on my must do list whenever I'm on NJ/NYC from now on. 

Check out their New Year's Eve dinner menu: