Goodbye, Bux.

January 19, 2007

It is with great regret that I must inform OTB readers that my (and everyone’s) friend, Robert Buxbaum, known to all as “Bux”, passed away yesterday on January 18, 2007 after suffering a year-long and very difficult battle with esophageal cancer.

Robert was a unique individual, with many friends, and an altogether classy guy and a true “mensch” in every sense of the word. As a founding affiliate member and manager at eGullet.com, he brought his tremendous expertise in fine dining literally to the table, which came from his years of travelling with his beloved wife, Esilda, to France, Spain and other parts of the globe. He was opinionated and always let you know what he thought, didn’t settle for anything but the best, and was highly respected by many restaurateurs and world-class chefs for his discerning taste.

Bux’s service will be on Sunday, January 21. Hopefully I’ll see a bunch of you there so we can all toast to him.

Goodbye, Bux. We love you.

Please send condolences to:

esilda@verizon.net

The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, that you send a donation in the name of Robert Buxbaum to Citymeals-on-Wheels.

The following is his official obituary written by his family:

Robert Buxbaum, known as Bux, sculptor and gourmand, died on Thursday, January 18 from complications of cancer. He was sixty-seven years old. He is survived by his wife of forty-three years, Esilda; daughter, Rica Allannic; son-in-law, Cyrille; grandson, Adrian; sister, Elaine Cousins; and niece, Monica Noraian.

After studying architecture at Cornell University, Buxbaum, born and raised in Brooklyn, having attended Erasmus Hall High School, returned to New York City as a sculpture assistant to artist and architect Frederick Kiesler, who is known for his design of the Endless House, The World House Gallery in New York City, and the Shrine of the Book, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls, for the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Buxbaum would later name his daughter, Frederika (Rica), after his mentor. As an architect with the firm Davis, Brody & Associates, he worked on plans for the revolutionary U.S. Pavilion at the 1970 World Expo in Osaka, Japan. After a ten-year career in architecture, he turned his attention to art and was a pioneer of the SoHo artist movement, moving to an industrial loft in the neighborhood in 1970. His minimalist sculptures and line drawings were exhibited at galleries such as O.K. Harris, Warren Benedek, and 55 Mercer and his pieces are owned by private and corporate collections including Chase Manhattan Bank, Xerox, and Owens Corning.

One of the original founders of the food forum egullet.com, he was passionate about cooking, food, wine, France, and Spain and wrote about his meals and travels on his website, worldtable.com.

A memorial service is planned for Sunday.


I Get FoodCandied

October 10, 2006

FoodCandy is this cool new social networking site for Foodies and Food Bloggers — think of it as a MySpace or Friendster for those of us who live to eat. I was interviewed for its home page and among the important questions that needed to be asked, I disclosed what I like to keep in my freezer and what I like for breakfast on Sundays.

Riveting, right? I’m a lot more boring than you guys think!


CooksKorner.com

September 19, 2006

CooksKorner.com is a new discussion forums site focused on cooking and recipes. It’s run by Marlene Newell, a Canadian cooking enthusiast and a friend of mine who was also one of the driving forces behind the eGullet Society over the last two years.

Right now the site looks a bit out-of-the-box aesthetically, but don’t let that dissuade you — Marlene has assembled a team of cooking gurus that can help you with any of your recipe and cooking questions. The site also has a Appliances discussion area where you can talk about kitchen renovations and debate the relative merits between your Thermidor and someone else’s Bosch.


Make That Funky Kimchi White Boy

August 20, 2006

Over at eG Forums we have a few discussions going (1) (2) pertaining as to why Korean Food has not become “mainstream” in the United States. I’ve offered up a couple of different theories, one of which is that Korean food is so incredibly in-your-face bold and assertive and incorporates certain flavors and combinations in such an intensity that many Americans might find off-putting — that being the fact that so much of Korean food is fermented or pickled, and that they use massive amounts of chile and garlic.

Be it as it may, I’m a huge fan (1) of Korean food (2). I’ve been told by other Koreans that I am practically an honorary Korean, because I have such a high tolerance for spicy and garlicky, and I actually LIKE to eat Kimchi.

Kimchi can be a challenge for those that aren’t used to it. The heavy garlic and red chile spice combined with a very long fermentation (some Kimchis are fermented for MONTHS) can practically melt the chrome off a Harley Davidson exhaust manifold and so will your breath after eating it afterwards. But there are some Kimchis that aren’t fermented very long and are much closer in fermentation to a “new ” Kosher pickle, although they maintain the heavy garlic and chile profile. One of these is Oi Kimchi, or cucumber Kimchi. It’s one of my favorites. And if you have a huge bumper crop of cucumbers in your garden, its a great thing to do with them besides making Kosher Dills or the endless tomato cucumber salads.

Today, I actually tried making Oi Kimchi for the first time. I went to my local H-Mart to pick up the necessary ingredients.

Koreans use so much garlic that they buy it pre-peeled in huge quantities. Each of these containers represents about one meal’s worth for the average Korean family. No I’m not joking — a week supply is like a half a gallon, and they sell those too. One container will be sufficient for our purposes.

Get a bunch of fresh scallions.

Find a nice hand of ginger.

Here’s where we get into the specialty ingredients. This big sucker is a Moo (pronounced Moo, like what the cow does) or a giant Korean radish. It has a texture and flavor similar to a French-style pink radish, somewhat spicier than a Daikon. If you can’t find one of these, Daikon will do, and you can grate up some regular pink radishes into the mix for flavor.

Kimchi chile flakes. Get the medium coarseness one. All the brands are basically the same.

If you don’t have a Korean grocery near you, try getting it online.

Brine shrimp, which is optional. It adds that extra something. You can also get some shucked oysters too, which is also commonly used in Kimchi recipes. This stuff is very salty and if you do use it, I’d cut the salt from the recipe in half.

Your Kimchi Mise-en-place:

  • 2 lb UNWAXED Cucumbers or Kirbys for pickling. Mine came from my garden.
  • 1 Korean Mul Radish or 1 Daikon and 4 or 5 pink radishes
  • 1 Bunch Green Onions, cut into 1/2 inch strips
  • 4Tbsp Garlic — minced
  • 1Tbsp Ginger — fresh, minced
  • 2Tbsp-4Tbsp Kimchi chile
  • 1.5Tbsp Salt (use only 1Tbsp if you got the brine shrimp)
  • 1Tbsp Sugar

Optional:

  • 1Tsp of Brine Shrimp, thoroughly mashed

You will also need a large container such as several quart size deli containers or a 1 or 1/2 gallon plastic tub or big Tupperware container.

After washing I cut off the ends of the cucumbers (it’s bitter) and sliced them lengthwise and then into 2 inch long half-barrels.

I cut up the radish into 3 peices and cut off the outside skin with a chef’s knife.

I grated one of the big radish pieces and got about 8oz of radish plus radish water.

I put the grated radish into a clean dishrag (a cheesecloth would be optimal) and wrung the radish water into my large container along with the reserved radish water from the bowl. This should yeild about 1 cup of radish juice total.

Next I took 1 Teaspoon of brine shrimp and ground them into a paste in the mortar and pestle.

I put the cucumber slices into the container (with the radish juices) along with the grated radish, cut up scallions, cubed up radish from another big piece (rest was put in the fridge in water for a snack), brine shrimp paste, 4tbsp of garlic, 1tbsp of grated fresh ginger, 1Tbsp of salt (or 1.5Tbsp if without the brine shrimp), 1Tbsp of sugar, and 2-4Tbsp of Kimchi Chile flakes depending on how hot you like it. Mix up well, and then add approximately 2 cups of water until everything becomes covered.

Let stand at room temperature (72 degrees) for 48 hours with lid or plastic wrap covering, then transfer to deli containers or smaller Tupperware in the fridge. Give to friends. Share and eat.

Oi Kimchi is great as a side dish to Bulgogi or Korean Short Ribs (Kalbi) with short grain rice.


NYC Dining: Fairway Market

August 18, 2006

Fairway Market
2350 12th Ave, New York, NY
(212) 281-2504

In terms of high end grocery shopping, there are a few well known outlets in NYC, such as Citarella, Dean and Deluca, Whole Foods, Gourmet Garage and Zabars, but for my money, if I’m going to do groceries in Manhattan, my pick would be the Fairway Market on 125th Street on the West side.

Fairway is one of the few places in Manhattan that makes sense to shop if you are coming in from the ‘burbs and you have a car. There’s a huge parking lot right off the 125th Street exit on the West Side Highway (and right across the street from the very excellent Dinosaur Barbecue, if you want to make it a shopping and dining trip) so its a good option for us bridge and tunnel folks. The produce and cheese and meats and fish are excellent, if not a tad expensive. However the quality is excellent and I would venture to say there are few places in the entire metro area that have the selection and variety that Fairway has. Perhaps Stew Leonards is comparable in some aspects (I love the meat section) but it’s not in Manhattan.

A new type of ovoid-shaped mediterranean onion.

One of the many ethnic grocery sections. This one is for British foodstuffs.

Bread and cheese area.

Fairway imports a number of different olive oils under its own brand. I particularly like the Greek Kalamata oilve oil ($15)

Now, on to the bad points. There are NUMEROUS ACCOUNTS of people having horrible experiences with the rudeness of customers and staff at Fairway. I myself on my last visit had this particular experience, just last week:

I completely forgot that Fairway prohibits photography within the store. So of course, like a dumbass, I was snapping away like a Japanese tourist on speed, getting photos for eG and Off The Broiler. I had gotten to about my 20th picture when I hit the bread/cheese area where they have the olive oil tastings set up, when a short man, that was conversing with the Kosher supervising rabbi that was there, who proclaimed to be the General Manager, got up right in my face and said

“Put that goddamn camera away now!”

I said “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize” and shoved it in my pocket. I profusely apologized further and explained to him that I wanted to take pictures for OTB and eGullet, and he said “I don’t give a damn who you are or what web site you have. Unless you want to get me excited, and you don’t want to do that, you’ll stop doing what you’re doing right now.”

I walked away about 20 feet and went into the cold room
(where, unfortunately, I did not take photos because of the reasons above) for a few minutes to escape the guy, where Rachel was looking at the oysters. After explaining to Rachel what had just happened I then headed over to try some olive oil at the tasting area. A few other customers were there looking at the olive oil, where there’s a sign that says “only dip once”. Before any of the customers could put a piece of bread in the oil, he starts yelling at the top of his lungs at them.

“NO DOUBLE DIPPING! THATS GODDAMN DISGUSTING!”

The guy turned bright red and then yanked a few of the plastic containers away, I guess to refill them with uncontaminated oil.

If this was the guy’s normal state, I don’t want to see him when he gets excited.


NYC Dining: Astor Wines and Spirits

August 15, 2006

Astor Wines & Spirits Inc
399 Lafayette St (At 4th Street) New York, NY
(212) 674-7500

After our Dim Sum lunch on Sunday, the group of us walked up the block to Astor Wines and Spirits, which many people beleive is the best wine store in the entire city. Back in March, Astor moved from its original location on Astor Place (where it had been since 1946) to a new, warehouse sized facility on Lafayette Street.

The new Astor Center building on Lafayette.

The new store is attractive and holds a huge amount of bottles. Astor’s prices are right on the money too, despite the fact of being in Manhattan.

This is a special display they had up for rose wines and sparklers. I admit, I picked up a nice rose sparkling cava they had, as well as a cremant.

The main room extends quite deep. There’s also a special refrigerator controlled room for the special vintages.

The refrigerated, tempature controlled room.

There’s a large refrigerator along one of the walls that has pre-chilled wines and Sakes.

The liquors wall. If Astor doesn’t carry it, it probably doesn’t exist in NYC.

The superpremium rums section, a dangerous place for me to be. The four bottles on the right hand side of the center shelf are Rhum Agricole from Martinique in the French West Indies, recently imported into the US by Ed Hamilton of Caribbean Spirits (and eGullet’s Minister of Rum). We got a podcast in the hopper with Ed at NYC’s Pegu Club that I think you’ll really enjoy.


NYC Dining: Dim Sum at Chinatown Brasserie

August 14, 2006

Chinatown Brasserie
380 Lafayette Street
New York, New York
212-533-7000

We’ve covered Chinatown Brasserie before — but as it was the first night of service, the complete Dim Sum menu wasn’t yet fully established, and I wanted to try more. This last weekend, prompted by Frank Bruni’s perplexing 1-star review (which I can’t in good conscience agree with) I had Sunday dim sum at the restaurant with my wife and four friends.

I have to say that Chinatown Brasserie is producing some of the most exceptional and high-quality dim sum items in the city, albeit at prices that are considerably above the norm (about 3 times more than your average Dim Sum restaurant in Chinatown, such as Ping’s, or Dim Sum Go Go). However, Chinatown Brasserie isn’t competing with these places. All of the restaurant’s dishes are cooked fresh to order (no steam carts) and are ordered a la carte, and the ambiance of the restaurant rivals something more like a Chinese Balthazar than a 22 Mott Street. I think its a wonderful place to have a very classy Dim Sum lunch, with some nice cocktails, in a very cool atmosphere. However, If you’re looking for Chinese restaurant bargains it’s not the place for you.

While some of the people I brought took exception to the cost of the items and the portioning, everyone said the quality and flavor of the dishes were exceptional. There wasn’t a single dish we didn’t like.

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