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Friday
Dec202013

Boiled Peanuts: Store-Bought Edition

Though I’ve raved before about boiled peanuts, I never thought I’d have to break down and have the supermarket version. But on a recent business trip to Florida, I was without a car but with a supermarket in the close distance. What did I do? I ran in the store, picked up a giant bag of Cajun-spiced boiled peanuts, paid my $5.99 (steeper than I expected, but who cares?), and ran out the door back to work.

The verdict: Surprisingly delicious! These particular peanuts were from Hardy Farms in Georgia, and though I thought it odd to truck in boiled peanuts from another state when delicious ones are being made just a few miles down the road, I was grinning.

These spicy puppies are refrigerated when purchased, but much tastier warm. Simply pop a bunch in a bowl and microwave them up, and voila! Disgusting-looking and messy, they’re not for everyone. But boy, when you pop open those shells and shoot the peanuts and spicy liquid like an oyster, it’s all so worth it.

These are so much better than canned, which I’ve had as well. The canned versions are oddly briny, too moist, and purple. I imagine there are quite a few preservatives to make them last, because even a refrigerated bag of peanuts only lasts two weeks.

Sure, I’d still take a sketchy bag made fresh by the side of the road over the kind purchased at Publix, but when given the choice of refrigerated peanuts or none at all, this refrigerated variety wins out by a mile! If you don’t have the chance to stop by the side of the road in Florida and pick up a fresh batch from steaming copper cauldrons, don’t miss this regional specialty in the salad section. Hey, they’re legumes after all.

 

Details:

Boiled peanuts are a southern specialty, and are sold fresh in Ziploc bags, refrigerated in plastic bundles, or canned.

A 16-32oz. bag runs you $3-$7.

Comes in regular or Cajun/Hot & Spicy flavors.

Thursday
Oct242013

Giving New York State some Apple Recognition

What’s better than an apple orchard on a beautiful fall day? A free apple orchard, that’s what. In the many years that Eat This Review has been around, we’ve never profiled a local region specialty, but it’s time we should. New York State apples are what our state is known for, and we’re darn proud. Like most things about New York, it’s yet another that we feel we do best.*

*If you’ve ever had produce from OR/WA/Harry & David, you are definitely allowed to disagree with this statement.

When fall comes around, one of the most popular activities in New York is to go apple picking. School groups, NYC tourists, and locals alike attack local orchards like locusts, because hey, isn’t climbing apple trees and biting into fruit right off the tree what childhood is made of? But here in Dutchess County—the part-time home of ETR—we’re fairly famous for apples. We’ve got incredible varieties you’ve likely never heard of (you may know Jonagold, but do you know Jonamac?), and a good many of them to boot. Most apples purchased at greenmarkets throughout NYC, in fact, are picked at farms just 10 minutes away from here.

So armed with bags, cameras, empty stomachs, and a map from a local, ETR media person extraordinaire Vic and I found a somewhat secret orchard that is free and open to the public. Though the trees are not maintained, volunteers have helped build paths and mow down some of the brush. Amidst all the acres of land lie hundreds of old apple trees, with apples practically dripping from the decades-old branches. 

Are they the best apples? Not necessarily, but they are free for the taking. There are red delicious, braeburn, the most amazing golden delicious, and more. It takes creativity to get some of them later on in the season—stones, sticks, other apples, advanced tree-climbing skills, etc. But worth it it is, because after two hours  we had 40—yes, 40—pounds of apples. And after going back to the orchard several times over the next two months, I got more than my fair share. Hey, they’d go bad anyway!

Once home, we set to working making applesauce, apple chutney, apple cake, and more. NYS apples are great for munching, cooking, and dipping in anything. Full of fiber, juicy, and crunchtastic, I can’t say I know of a better place for apples—and I’ve had the fruit all over the world. New York State may be known for the city, but our outdoors—and our apples—are pretty darn spectacular too.

New York State’s apple season runs from September-October, with some leeway depending on rain. Dutchess, Putnam, and Orange Counties are popular u-pick destinations for the NYC crowd, though amazing orchards exist throughout the entire state.

Photography by Victor Leung


Monday
May062013

Gozo: We're Not Maltese, and Neither Is Our Food

Don’t ever make the mistake of saying the people are Gozo are Maltese. They’ll cut your head off. No, they won’t. They’ll rip you a new one. No, no, that’s not true. But they are Gozitans, and their food is Gozitan. And don’t you ever forget it!

The food of Gozo is a bit different. The people are different and the way of life is different, so it makes sense that the food is not quite the same. I learned all of this when the Malta Tourism Authority took me around the island to eat, learn, and photograph. This tiny island has just over 30,000 inhabitants, and the island measures just 14 km x 7 km, featuring farmhouses, cliffs, sea caves, and farmland.

 A Gozitan stuffed ftira

The Gozitans have some of the usual streetside corner stands selling pastizzi and pizza—but this time they have mini ftira and giant ones. In fact, we had a giant ftira baked in an old-fashioned (and not New York old fashioned, European old fashioned) wood-burning oven by an old baker with greasy hands. It was salty, filled with egg and cheese, and super delicious.

 

Honey is another pride of Gozo, as is the goat cheese ravioli. Though I never saw any goats in my time living there, I finally saw cows on the island of Gozo. The goats must be there somewhere…but maybe they fell off all the cliffs?

Either way, Gozo loses in terms of public transportation (though hitchhiking is the way to get around),Your ETR representative up on the Azure Window but wins in terms of peacefulness, natural beauty, and miles of hiking trails. You’d be surprised how out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere you can get just by walking along the coast. And don’t forget wild Gozitan cactus fruit, which tastes like a cucumber and…well, that one was a disappointment. But many people love ‘em. They even make cactus liqueur. And carob liqueur. And pomegranate jam. Yes, pomegranates grow here! You’ll also find hard and soft goat cheese and cheeselets, often served in restaurants with tomatoes, briny sun-dried tomatoes, capers, onions, and olive oil. No, don’t confuse Gozo with Malta.

Wednesday
Apr032013

The Food of Malta

 

Just a few months ago I returned from living in Malta, a small island country south of Italy. The country itself is a mishmash of Turkish, Greek, Italian, African, Middle Eastern…well, you name it. The language has apostrophes, the letter “X” near other impossible letters, and tiny symbols indicating pronunciation to those who know. It sounds like a cross between Italian and Arabic.


Needless to say, like the language, the food is its own. The Malta Tourism Authority brought us on several specialty tours around the island so we could learn about the culture, food, and history. It is heavily influenced by Italian and Mediterranean cuisine, but has a separate identity. Little corner shops sell Maltese specialties like pastizzi (leafed phyllo around peas, cheese, or combos), pizza (square pieces which have cheese and olives, hot dogs and eggs, or combos), date-filled pastries, and more.


There were a lot of specialties, though few blew my mind. The place is known for fresh fish (lampuki), fried rabbit, stew, horse, and a few other specialties. Ftira, a thick and doughy pizza-like creation, is served with unique toppings—pork belly and ricotta, for instance.


Honey is special over here, and one treat—honey-soaked fried ricotta balls—was particularly memorable. Pizza isn’t great, though it is cheap. Pastas are widely available, and yogurt—yes, yogurt—is delicious here, coming in flavors such as milk chocolate, fig, and lemon squeeze. Delicious! Food is much cheaper here than it is in mainland Europe, but the dishes themselves don’t leave much to be craved. An adventure? Sure. And no, I won’t soon forget the curried snails I had. Mmm-mmm good!

Saturday
Jun302012

Street Food in Singapore and Malaysia: An Overview in Photos

Below are shots taken in 10 seconds or less while ETR ate on the street in various sections of Singapore and Malaysia. Top of the line, no, but this is what you get when eating in dark, seedy, and (mostly) delicious establishments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Right: Malaysian-style curry potatoes and chicken, Geylang, Singapore. Excellent.

 

Below: Sweet 'n' spicy tofu, Geylang, Singapore. Very good.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Left: Boiled eggs and animal parts, Geylang, Singapore. Not...my favorite.

 

Below: Indonesian-Malaysian fusion greens, home-cooked, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. All right.

     

Below: Indonesian thighs 'n' things, plus bone marrow, home-cooked, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Ehhh.

 Above: Indonesian chicken veggie fritters with fruit yogurt dip, home-cooked, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Interesting.

Below: The favorite! Roti canai with chicken curry and beef curry, Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Delicious. 

 
Above: Kuey Teow, Tasik Selatan, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Good, but too soupy to be filling.


Below: One of the best meals: Chicken, veggies, fish, greens, rice, spices, sauces...it's all mixed together.

 Below: Hand-pulled noodles with pork, Chinatown, Singapore. Not bad, but compared to the amazing ones in Malaysia, not even a memory.

 

Below: Yam cake, Chinatown, Singapore. No matter how disgusting it looks, don't do it. 

Above: Indonesian-style eggplant and more, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Different flavors, but not memorable.

 

White carrot cake (savory, and with not a carrot in sight), Old Airport Rd., Singapore. Fine to try, but don't do it twice.





 Above: Char Suey, Singapore. Nice.

1 – Hand-pulled noodles with pork, Chinatown, Singapore

2 – Black-boiled eggs and animal parts, Geylang, Singapore

3 – I think it was tofu, Geylang, Singapore

4 – Chili fish, somewhere in Singapore

5 – Char suey, somewhere in Singapore

6 – Yam cake, Chinatown, Singapore

7 – Malaysian-style curry potatoes and chicken, Geylang, Singapore

8 – Indonesian eggplant and more, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

9 – I have no idea where we ate this.

10 – I don’t know about this one either.

11 – White carrot cake (savory, and not a carrot in sight), Old Airport Rd., Singapore

12 – My favorite: roti canai with chicken curry and beef curry, Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

13 – Indonesian chicken veggie fritters with fruit yogurt, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

14 – Indonesian thighs ‘n’ things, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

15 – Kuey Teow, Tasik Selatan, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

16 – Indonesian-Malaysian fusion greens, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

17 – Cake, Malaysian style. Sweet, but somehow fishy. Duh.