Cumin Lamb in Flushing, Queens

Cumin lamb. This unique and flavorful dish can be found at Lao Dong Bei in Flushing, Queens. I’m a lover of all things mutton, and trying it ensconced in cumin seed was a revelation. A very powerful and dynamic flavor is achieved, something that I will try to imitate in my future preparations of lamb.

Cumin is that little seed distantly related to caraway that most Americans find ground up in chili seasoning packets. The popularity of this herb is ancient however, dating back to the Sumerians. Ancient Greeks and Romans typically would have Cuminum available as a condiment on their table next to the salt.

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Lao Dong Bei is a minute space, with an unremarkable green facade on Kissena Boulevard in Flushing, Queens. In between the tables are stacked cases of beer and other beverages. A TV with what looked like Beijing Pop Idol was playing in the corner. The service came with a smile in this family-run operation, and the very patient chef came out from the back to make sure that he got our order correct and to make suggestions (there was a bit of a language barrier). He even came out after the meal to ensure everything tasted to our liking. Now that’s what I call service.

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Above was the glass noodles and sliced pork. This was nicely seasoned dish that reminded me of a good stew, but coupled with the slick texture of the glass noodles.

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Okay, we over-did our order, but still, with drinks and everything the bill still didn’t top forty dollars! Pictured above, pork dumplings, noodle soup, cumin lamb, sliced pork with glass noodles, and some Tsing-Tao. Now there is some #proof.

Lao Dong Bei, 44-09 Kissena Blvd, Flushing, NY 11355

Photo: Russ and Daughters

Happy Monday!  Here are a couple snaps of an old Lower East Side stand-by (named the “Louvre of Lox”)  Russ and Daughters.  

Appetizer stores never caught on as much as the more common delicatessen-style restaurants popular in New York. Here you can purchase traditionally prepared pickled and salty treats, as well as various smoked fish… Dee-Lish!

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Below is an image of that Caspian Sea treat, caviar!  I was more interested in the chopped liver, priced 6 dollars a pound.  Not too shabby.

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Russ and Daughter’s Appetizers 179 East Houston Street New York, NY 10002

Osteria Alba Nova, Venice

Venice, Italy is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Built upon a lagoon, it relies on tranquil canals to traffic citizens and commerce instead of noisy thoroughfares. Venice also boasts exquisite cathedrals that create temples to heaven on earth… Heir to a storied empire that once dominated the spice trade to the Western world, the Venetians used their riches to enhance this unique urban landscape.

The city of Venice was enriched by their control of trade routes and cities around the Mediterranean, and despite the many influences facing them, they have held on to their cultural and culinary identity even into the modern age.

Osteria Alba Nova is a classic Venetian eatery that celebrates ancient dishes forgotten by most chefs and restaurants. Not as old as these Roman recipes, but old enough to boast unusual and rarely used ingredients. The owner and head chef Maria makes sure to honor the recipes of the past, which is a refreshing contrast to Venice’s abundance of over-priced tourist restaurants which dominate the city. In addition, the convivial Maria will sit down and explain the various histories and origins of each dish if you are so inclined to inquire.

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Above is a simple and traditional Venetian seafood antipasta course of sardines with vinegar, pinoli nuts and raisins, creamed white fish, prawns, razor clams, and barnacles. Delicious, fresh, and a perfect way to start any meal.

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The above is an amazing recipe from the 1700s which is a savory and sweet strawberry sauce with prawns and fettucine. This might have been one of the most delicious pasta recipes I’ve ever tasted. The strawberries really worked, and it was not as sweet as you might think.

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Above was another old recipe for squid ink pasta with some lagoon crustaceans. The taste of this pasta was extremely bitter which contrasted with the sweet strawberry pasta sauce. You have to be someone who likes bitter flavors to enjoy this dish, but I found it tasty and unusual.

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To finish, try the tiramisu, (fresh eggs, marscarpone, Marsala wine, and coffee dipped ladyfinger biscuits) which although is served all over Italy (and the world), may have in fact originated in the Veneto region. How very appropriate. Proof!

Osteria Alba Nova, Vista Vecchia Dei Bari – (S. Simeone Grande) S. Croce 1252 30135 Venezia Tel 041.5241353 website