I picked up a hefty heirloom tomato at the farmer's market last weekend. It looked like as though it was about to burst open. As a light lunch, I sliced it open and topped it with a dollop of homemade saffron aïoli, thinly shaved red onion, Point Reyes blue cheese crumbles, and a smattering of parsley and chives from the garden. Delicious with a strip of crispy bacon and half of a seven-minute egg sprinkled with piment d'Espelette and Maldon sea salt!
PIG AND KHAO
8 Clinton Street near Rivington Street
It looks like Filipino food is finally having its moment. Will sizzling sisig be the next pork bun? It's definitely not for the faint of heart, that's for sure. This traditional dish takes braised and grilled bits from the pig's head and mixes it with a smashing combo of: fried pork belly, onion, garlic, chicken liver, chili peppers, vinegar, and calamansi juice. It's all served on a searing hot cast iron pan with a freshly cracked egg. How to eat? Roughly fold the egg yolk into the sisig and keep your knife and spoon moving in harmony, scraping and folding, until it's evenly incorporated. This is truly a glorious pork dish for adventurous eaters who relish the slightly bizzarre range textures, from crunchy to gelatinous and fatty. I recommend having it with a side of their fragrant coconut rice. A girlfriend of mine described our meal in one word: "Porktastic!"
SEL ET GRAS
31 Seventh Avenue South at the corner of West 10th Street
One Sunday morning, like a hungry lioness, I awoke with an irrational craving for steak tartare—not exactly a dish you'd typically find on any ol' Sunday brunch menu. But I knew where to go. My boyfriend (now ex) had mentioned a newish French restaurant in the West Village called Sel et Gras just the day before. When I insisted that there were no new restaurants on that particular corner, he described it as a slice of graffiti'ed real estate located behind a kiosk selling African clothing. Lo and behold, there it was.
Their steak tartare was the perfect portion for one: fresh cuts of beef, hand-diced and mixed with sharp Dijon mustard, capers, onions, and other traditional mish-mash. It was plated like a fancy scoop of gelato next to a delicately poached egg. A tiny ceramic crockpot of chips gaufrette (waffle-cut) provided a salty crunch. I was a happy lioness.
The restaurant's manager, Matthieu, a handsome Frenchman, sat on a barstool nearby and chatted with me about food, adoringly and passionately. "The French don't eat brunch, therefore we don't have traditional brunch dishes," he said, "So, to tailor our menu, we just added an egg to everything." Ah. That explains the poached egg. In that case, looking at the menu again, I'll have to return for the escargots bourguignon... Which comes with a baked egg!
8 Bowery Street below Canal Street
My parents used to order a whole roast suckling pig for special occasions, so crispy roast pork has always been on a pedestal for me. Oh, how I go weak for moist, unctuous chunks of roast pork with its crackled, crunchy, lacquered top, and hints of aromatic Chinese five spice powder seasoning. I can only find this in Chinatown and, contrary to what you may think, it's not offered at every BBQ restaurant. At Yummy Noodle, it's served over a big bed of jasmine rice, with a bit steamed cabbage and a small bowl of brothy seaweed & egg soup. There's also a side of hoisin sauce and ginger scallion oil for dipping. All of this for $4.95. You can also choose to add a fried egg on top for $1.50.
A salad doesn't need to be weighed down with grilled chicken breast in order to be considered a meal. When you're hungry, but not that hungry, try this one out for size--perhaps add some cheese and crackers to the side to round it out.
FOR THE SALAD
Any kind of salad greens--quantity depends on your appetite (If you can get microgreens with edible flowers--all the better!)
2 radishes, scrubbed clean
Fresh dill, chives, parsley, or scallions
1 organic egg
3 slices of prosciutto
FOR THE DRESSING
1 tablespoon of lemon or red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1. Heat up a small pot of boiling water and cook your egg for 8 minutes. Make sure that there's enough water to cover the entire egg. When it's done, set it aside to cool.
2. On a small cutting board, slice your radishes as thinly as possible.
3. In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice, olive oil, and Dijon mustard together. It should emulsify. Season with sea salt and black pepper to taste and whisk again so that the consistency is smooth.
4. Put about a tablespoon or so of the dressing at the bottom of your serving bowl. Add the greens one handful at a time and toss with your utensils. The dressing should lightly coat the salad greens. If you need more dressing, add it from the side of the bowl--not on top of the salad, which will make the leaves soggy. You know you've added too much dressing when it's pooling at the bottom.
5. Snip the fresh herbs on top and toss the salad once more. Arrange the sliced radishes around the bowl.
6. Peel your egg and run the egg slicer through it, or slice it by hand. Place the egg slices around the bowl.
7. Tear the prosciutto into small pieces and delicately layer over the salad. If you have edible flowers, now would be a good time to add them as garnish!