The Joy of White Moustache Yogurt

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For a little while now, I’ve seen this fancy-looking yogurt in specialty shops in NYC—White Moustache brand. It comes in glass containers, has a hip look (moustaches are big in NYC these days), and is made Persian-style, which is a thick, strained-type yogurt (think FAGE). While shopping at Murray’s Cheese on Bleecker Street, I came across it and decided to take the plunge—and boy, am I glad I did.

This is the best yogurt I’ve ever tasted—even better than the strained raw yogurt I make at home. It has a wonderful texture—smooth and creamy, yet light, and was perfectly balanced in the sweet/tang department. You’d that that even with sweetened sour cherries, the yogurt would taste more sour than most, but this did not have any harshness to it whatsoever. The natural sweetness of the milk is clear in the taste of the yogurt.

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The yogurt itself takes three days to make, and is truly handcrafted. They fill each container by hand and make all the fruit/veg elements. A jar at Murray’s was priced at $5.99, and I think with all things taken into consideration, it’s worth it.  Continue reading “The Joy of White Moustache Yogurt”

In Which I Eat Adjarian Khachapuri at Brick Oven Bread in Brooklyn

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Last month I mentioned that I really wanted to try khachapuri—Adjarian style, in particular—which is the traditional Georgian cheese bread. I’m pleased to tell you that I made it down to Brooklyn and my wish came true. The bread was truly delicious and I can’t wait to eat it again!

My two friends, Anne and Jen, traveled to BK with me—a straight shot on the N train to Kings Highway—and we met their friend Aleksey, who knows the neighborhood and speaks Russian. We planned to stop first at Brick Oven Bread, then walk a mile or so to Cafe Avat, make a stop in at Russian grocery Cherry Hill Market, and end our trip at Baku Bakery. Spoiler: Baku Bakery was closed, so I’ll have to go back.

When we got to Brick Oven Bread, we knew we wanted to get khachapuri, and settled on splitting among the four of us one Adjarian khachapuri. Jen also ordered a Mengrel khachapuri to take home, which was a flat circular bread with cheese both inside and out, and is placed in a pizza box. She said it was delicious the day after, too.

Anyway, our bread came out and it was super gorgeous.

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It arrived piping hot with a knob of butter and a raw egg in the center. Aleksey stirred the egg and butter together with two forks, which eventually created something like a creamy scrambled egg.

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We tore or cut off (it was quite hot to the touch) fluffy pieces from around the edge and dipped it into the egg and butter mixture.

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The tangy cheese inside (a mix of mozzarella and feta, since the traditional sulguni is not available in this country, probably because it’s young and raw) added another great flavor to the mix and I loved the whole thing. I do believe I could eat one of these myself on a very hungry day (which is most days).

We drank a bright green tarragon soda with the bread, Zedazeni brand. The bakery owner sung its praises. Jen likened it to Jones Soda. Aleksey warned us that it would be very sweet, though I found I liked it. The color was amazing—this is not the color of the bottle, but of the soda itself. It didn’t really taste like what I consider tarragon to taste like, but that was probably because it was so sweet. It’s very popular in the Caucases, Russia, Ukraine, and parts of Central Asia.

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This was a great way to start our visit to Brooklyn. More on Cafe Avat and Cherry Hill Market in a later post. Many, many thanks to Aleksey for being our guide and giving his time to our adventure!

Brick Oven Bread, 230 Kings Highway, Brooklyn, NY 11223, (718) 759-6250 

Delicious, Natural Beef Jerky

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This weekend I tasted some amazing beef jerky.  I wasn’t looking for it – in fact, I haven’t thought about jerky for years and years – but feel fortunate to have come across it.

Not many people know this, but I love beef jerky – like, a whole lot.  I find it to be one of the most delicious things to snack on.  When I was in high school, I had a teacher, Mr. Salazar, who made his own jerky and would share it with his students.   He taught my advanced english and history classes, and had an unorthodox approach to administering tests – he thought that students did better on them if they had something to eat during the test.  So a potluck was scheduled each time we had a major test.  His contribution was always beef jerky (he also kept some in his desk drawer).  And it was crazy delicious.

I stopped eating it when I went vegetarian.  Even when I started eating meat again in 1998, it took me a long time to warm up to beef products.  By that time, I’d come to learn that most commercial beef jerky was not made from the best ingredients, and I couldn’t find any “artisanal” beef jerky, so I put it out of my mind.

This past weekend I visited the Greenpoint Food Market, in part to discover some great, locally made food, and in part to support my friend Charlene, who was selling her cookies there.  I was happy to see so many savory options (as I’m not eating sugar right now), since last time there seemed to be an overabundance of chocolates, cookies, and candy.

Greenpoint Market Collage

One of the first tables I encountered was staffed by the King’s County Jerky people, and I was instantly intrigued by the idea of artisanal beef jerky.  I asked them a little bit about their product, and they were happy to share. Turns out the beef they use comes from local farms upstate, is humanely-raised, grass-fed and grass-finished, and smoked over real wood.  There’s no artificial anything, and no MSG.

I tried their samples, first the Classic flavor – so tasty!  It is flavorful, well-spiced (with ancho, chipotle, smoked paprika, black pepper, cumin and coriander), and smoky.  It smells amazing, too.  They make two other flavors, a bulgogi (spicy) and orange ginger.  I tried them all, and found I really preferred the classic flavor, though they were all good.

One interesting thing they told me – for them, the grass-fed beef is ideal because it’s naturally low in fat, and when you’re making jerky, you don’t want particularly fatty beef because it slows the whole dehydration process down.

They recently secured a commercial space in East Williamsburg (Brooklyn), so I expect we’ll be seeing their products around town sooner than later.  Very exciting!  I do not buy many “healthy” snack products – most have so much sugar, or are made with unhealthy oils, or are just way over processed, that they are totally unappealing.  This jerky will easily find a home in my pantry.  Hooray for quality snacks!

mmm... jerky