Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Fish and chips (Chip Shop)

Fish 'n chips (from the Chip Shop)

If you know me personally, this post should confound and arouse you. Part of it is... I hate going to Brooklyn. Hate it, hate it, hate it. First of all, the streets aren't numbered for a non-geographically inclined ass-hat like myself. I like knowing where I am and how far I am from my destination at all times. Call me neurotic, but I just feel lost in hipsterville when I'm in Brooklyn... like I might be attacked by fixie riding baristas at any given time. That shit is terrifying - more so than clowns. Also it's across a river, and I have a weird paranoia about being in tunnels underwater in our subway system. Did you know that the bilge pumps that keep out subways dry were borrowed from the original construction for the Panama canal? Did you know that if they failed catastrophically, the entirety of the subway system would flood in 17 minutes? Fuck that noise! I can't even really swim. The other part of it is... I avoid seafood as much as I can. I used to be allergic to shellfish and I never fully came around to the taste (there are exceptions to that rule). So the fact that I was willing (and will soon go again) to Brooklyn to eat seafood should be testament enough to the fact that Chip Shop delivers some bangin' fish and chips right?

Fine. You don't have to believe me, but seriously... as someone who really hates most seafood, this is pretty much the bees knees. Obviously, I'm hard pressed to say that anything fried isn't already interesting to me and will subsequently raise my heart rate significantly, but there's something unique about the way they prep their fish (I went with cod, but I don't really think there's really a wrong choice here). What's truly special about their fish is the way the batter adheres to the surface of the fish. A radiant golden hue that shines brighter than Fabio's glorious hair, the batter fries up into a devilishly thin, crisp, and airy barrier to oh-so-tender whitefish. While it has a certain degree of separation, you don't get that shitty fried chicken problem where you take one bite and end up with all of the skin in your mouth and a completely nude piece of meat. Incredibly, it maintains a perfectly balanced ratio no matter how much you fuck it up with a fork. Flavorwise, it's definitely light - depending mostly on the salt and vinegar to bring out the fragrance of the fish, but there's an innate richness to the fact that it came from a vat of liquid fat. Naturally. As for the fries? Yeah, they're solid too. Not "pee your pants in excitement" good, but they can most certainly stand on their own.

Fried Twix

They have fried Twix! While I would never kick a naked Twix bar out of my bed at night, I have to take a moment to lament the decision to pass on the fried Twinkies. With the Hostess factories now a thing of the past, I'm not sure if they still serve glorious bars of fried sponge cake and artificial cream, and short of re-visiting the land that is Brookyln sometime soon, I'll have no way to verify (someone do this for me). This is more or less WYSIWYG - it's a fried candy bar. The outside is hot, crunchy, and filled with pores of hot oil while the center quickly loses its unique characteristics upon biting, blending into a glorious mix of caramel, buttery biscuit, and molten chocolate. Cover that shit with a thick dusting of confectioner's sugar and you'll leave looking like a crack addict who weirdly has managed to smother some poo on your face. There is no sugar-coating (har har) here. It is delicious, it will give you heart disease if eaten enough, and it is gloriously decadent.

tl;dr - I hate Brooklyn... sorry, I have an irrational fear of the unknown when it comes to new places. I also generally hate seafood. The Chip Shop makes me kind of forget that a little bit. The fried skin on their fish is something magical though - perfectly light, yet crunchy. The only thing that could make it better would be if Margaret Thatcher were my server.

The Chip Shop
129 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11201


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Super sick egg tarts (Bread Talk)

Holy shit delicious egg tarts

Yeah see? They're the good guys. They are with us against inflation!

What exactly defines a 'good' egg tart? If you ask my idiot Korean former roommate, he'd tell you that "it should taste like eggs." Thanks a lot, dumbass. But indeed, what's the correct criteria for judging these gelatinous yellow blobs of arterial blockage? Is it a buttery and flaky crust that makes an insane number of minuscule crumbs on your shirt? Sure, that's probably part of it. Is it a a creamy center that has a pseudo-gelatinous yet custard-like texture exuding the scent of egg yolk? Yeah, that's pretty important. Or is it the cost? Because, let's be honest, you're probably getting jipped by some clever Chinese dude if you're spending more than 50 cents on a tiny puck of egg cream and crust that goes away in literally three seconds. Well that's definitely important too. The thing about egg tarts is... there are so many choices that all fit a subset of that criteria that as you're walking around, you'll almost always be content settling for one that's simply okay. Maybe the bakery closest to you is super cheap and has a dope-ass crust, but makes a custard all wrinkly like an old person's ass. Maybe they make the ambrosia of egg yolk custard, but they want you to whore out your family to pay for it. My point is, the holy grail of egg tarts is not so easy to find. Except... I've found it. The pinnacle of egg tart technology in Manhattan Chinatown. I'm talking about Bread Talk.

Let's run through those criteria again. Does it taste like eggs? Hell yeah motherfucker. Dumbass Korean ex-roommate requirement is fulfilled. Is the crust so buttery and tender that you'd be perfectly happy eating the tart by itself? Let's just say that there's no way you'll get through eating it without covering yourself in small golden flakes of rich and sweet dough. Shit. Just look at this sexy little tart. It's also weird how perfectly round it is, but let's not harp on the fact that it's achieved geometric perfection beyond what I can comprehend.

Egg tart from Bread Talk

It's like a temptress. You know it's bad for you. You know that you should be watching your diet, that your cholesterol has been slowly creeping up year after year, but... how much damage could one small handful of egg-custard sunshine do? Those shooting pains in your arm? They've never tasted sooo good. I'll admit, they probably inject something into the dough to make it dope so damn consistently. The percentage of butter (or possibly lard) is probably best not measured, but whatever they do - this crust is probably worth putting out for. It's that good.

Custardy insides

What about that custard huh? Does it jiggle like Betty White's sweet sweet assets? You bet your ass it does. In almost an unnerving fashion, their custard has reached a consistency almost that of a flan (but not quite). It carries with it a goldenrod hue that glistens like a miniature sun in your hand and tastes pretty much the same. There's a very distinct egg yolk flavor (some egg tarts just taste like a sugary jello baked in a tart shell) with just a hint of sweetness. Nothing in your face, just a series of very balanced tastes. There's almost never an inconsistency, it's almost always baked to perfection, and it doesn't do that lame-ass thing where the custard slides out of the tart and onto your favorite v-neck sweater from Uniqlo. Maybe that's just a 'me' problem... because I'm an idiot at eating egg tarts. Seriously, the owner very likely sold her soul (or her firstborn child) for this recipe, because it's some of the tightest shit this side of the Pacific.

The best part? It's two for $1. To put that in perspective, instead of getting a venti white chocolate latte from Starbucks, you could get like 10 of these shits. That's more than you can probably eat in one sitting. Not me though.

tl;dr - egg tarts in Manhattan are hit or miss. Bread Talk kills it. The crust is pretty much the greatest thing in baking since flour and the filling is like happiness and sunshine in egg yolk and cream form. It tastes like egg. My former roommate is an assclown.

Bread Talk
47 Catherine St, New York, NY 10002