Malta’s Culinary Delights

ES guest writer Faith has some expert advice on what and where to eat in the beautiful Mediterranean country of Malta. Start planning your vacation now…

Stone Crab - Xlendi Bay, Island of Gozo

Maltese cuisine has Arabic, Sicilian, French, Turkish, Greek and British influences, stemming from a history full of invasions and occupations, making it a culinary concoction just waiting to be discovered. Surrounded by the clear Mediterranean Sea, Malta has a wide range of fresh seafood to enjoy in a traditional Lampuki fish pie, or simply barbequed alfresco style. Rabbit stew is the national dish – traditional and hearty. Whether you prefer surf, turf, or something in between, Malta is definitely a culinary destination.

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Endless Road Trip: Have a Little Heart

So I’ve talked a lot about how good Portland is at street food and sandwiches, but here’s another thing that makes this city amazing. On a recent Wednesday evening, I walked into Portland’s best-reviewed, most-hyped restaurant—Le Pigeon—sans reservations, looking like my normal grubby, travelling-for-weeks, t-shirt and jeans self…and asked if I could get a meal. Not only did they seat me immediately at the small bar space overlooking the open kitchen, but they didn’t seem to be the slightest bit put out by it. This may be the New Yorker in me—just assuming that I’m going to be treated snobbishly everywhere—but it’s so great when you go to a restaurant that could get away with being jerks, but aren’t.

OK, on to the food. I started with the smoked rabbit pie and hot mustard ice cream because…well, because I have a crazy addiction, and that dish sounded downright batty. But Le Pigeon had my number on this one. I asked for crazy, and I got even crazier. When the server returned with my dish, she set the rabbit pie and savory ice cream down in front of me, and casually mentioned that the artfully presented sauce-like substance spread across the side of the plate was in fact a remoulade of rabbit heart. Well done. Love how she just threw that in at the end there…oh yeah, and there’s some rabbit heart on your plate.

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America’s Best New Sandwiches — 2012

You want sandwiches? We got sandwiches. Last year, Endless Simmer’s post on America’s Top 10 New Sandwiches was our most-read story of 2011, and even helped turn The New Luther into a bit of a sell-out phenomenon. But America’s sandwich artisans haven’t stopped innovating, and we haven’t stopped salivating. So here we go, for your drooling-at-work pleasure, this year’s list of America’s top 10 craziest, loveliest, cheesiest, most creative new sandwiches.

10. The Noble Pig —  Noble Pig Sandwiches, Austin

Texas may be best known for its beef, but perhaps not for long, if chefs John Bates and Brandon Martinez have anything to say about it. Their year-and-a-half-old Noble Pig serves up a namesake sandwich that somehow combines everything that is beautiful about pork products on one truly outstanding sandwich. Tender pulled pork, spicy slivers of ham, and crispy bits of bacon are all mixed together, topped with provolone cheese, and served on toasted, house-baked bread, for a porky trifecta that hits all of the spots. (Photo: Marshall Wright)

9. Pane et Panelle — Bar Stuzzichini, New York

Chickpeas may get typecast as functioning only in falafel form, but it turns out balls aren’t all they can do. Panelle is actually an old Sicilian street food snack—chickpeas and flour formed into light, airy strips and fried in olive oil. Stuzzichini‘s sandwich revives that classic and perfects it, layering crispy strips of panelle on a sesame-studded bun, in between levels of soft ricotta and caciocavallo cheeses. The result is a light-but-addictive sandwich that will make you curse every overly dense falafel wrap that has crossed your lips.

8. Chicharrones Banh Mi — Ink Sack, Los Angeles

There are a million banh mis in American nowadays, but we were most swept away by this version from Top Chef champ Michael Voltaggio. At his new Ink Sack sandwich shop, tender slices of pork belly and pork butt are topped with pickled vegetables, plus the kicker — crispy chicharróne fried pork rinds, creating one incredible multi-culti pork bomb.

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Big Eats in the Big Easy

Editor’s Note: Food writer and new-to-ES-blogger Emily Teachout checks in with a look at one of America’s craziest — and tastiest — food destinations.

In honor of my birthday, I decided to check a long-time goal off my bucket list and head down to New Orleans to experience Mardi Gras. Let’s be real, though; while beads and booze were on my radar, I was most excited for a no-holds-barred culinary tour of the Big Easy. I figured if I’ve lived this long, I might as well test the limits of what my body can handle in greasy, spicy, cholesterol-ridden creole specialties. New Orleans did not let me down, and surprisingly, neither did my arteries.

The first “morning” in the city, after waking up at 12:45pm in our cramped yet exorbitantly expensive hotel room, two of my friends and I dragged our hungover selves out of bed in search of a belated breakfast in the French Quarter. Our prayers were answered thanks to a little alley cafe called Green Goddess. We had to wait 45 minutes for our outdoor table, but since drinking in the streets is allowed (and seemingly encouraged) we downed some $7 beers to pass the time.

To start, we shared the truffled manchego cheese grits you see above. With that sheen of grease, you know heaven is inside. My friend literally licked the plate. No shame!

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Search for the Holy Broil: Welsh Rarebit

welsh rarebit tea and sympathy

Editor’s Note: Brooklyn resident, food writer and Serious Eats vet Hannah Smith-Drelich hops over to ES this week to answer a vexing food mystery — just what the eff is Welsh rarebit?

Welsh rarebit is a great thing. Its name conjures wet gloomy mountains and smokey cabins full of hunched, hairy people. At least, that’s what Wales looks like in my imagination. And Scotland, too. But apparently, Welsh rarebit doesn’t have that nostalgic throw-back effect (remember the good old Celtic days?) on everybody.

“It’s steak, right?” said one of my friends, suddenly concerned that maybe it wasn’t.

“I thought it was rabbit,” said another with barely-concealed disgust. She owned a pet bunny.

Welsh Rarebit is neither steak nor rabbit. In fact, it’s not even Welsh rarebit. The correct term is Welsh rabbit, which makes sense only when you put it into the context of the English making fun of the Welsh, which they did even back when everybody wore furs non-ironically. Welsh rabbit, at its simplest, is cheese on toast. The Welsh were notoriously fond of their cheese, and back in the 1700s they were also notoriously short on meat: hence, their version of rabbit was cheese on toast.

This tricky bit of linguistic mockery was ruined in 1785, when Francis Grose identified ‘rabbit’ with ‘rarebit’ in a document oddly titled  A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue. Word historians have had their knickers in a twist ever since (especially the folks at Merriam-Webster), as ‘rarebit’ exists nowhere else as an independent word. Eccentric grammarian W.H. Fowler wrote in his 1926 Dictionary of Modern English Usage: “Welsh Rabbit is amusing and right. Welsh Rarebit is stupid and wrong.”

Any way you slice it, this is not your average grilled cheese. Nor any dolled-up croque monsieur, for that matter. Welsh rarebit is, essentially, a fondue. Except instead of wine, there’s beer; instead of tiny Frenchy forks, there’s a thick hunk of bread foundering under the oozy weight of melted cheese. (Flash back to fur-wearing men hulking by a campfire.) Cheddar is most commonly used in recipes today, along with dried mustard, cream or milk, and Worcestershire sauce. In some British restaurants the dish is accompanied by something called Branston pickle.

“What is that?” I asked my waitress at Tea & Sympathy, a very British restaurant in Manhattan.

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Bunny Bourguignon


When it comes to ingredients, I like them fresh and ready to use. For a while now I’ve been wanting to cook rabbit, and after tasting Birch & Barley‘s rabbit gnocchi, I knew it was time I tried to cook the hoppy little guy.

Finding rabbit isn’t easy. It’s not just something you can pick up at Safeway or Whole Foods. Instead, I turned to one of DC’s many weekday farmers’ markets. I took a late lunch one Thursday afternoon and headed out to the White House Farmers Market where I found Garden Path Farm and their one “rabbit” left.

This is where it gets interesting.

At a little over 2 pounds, I assumed the vacuum-packed rabbit was meat, just meat, and I could cube and make a tasty Bunny Bourguignon. How was I wrong!

Continue reading to see what happened, but be warned, the following photos are not for the squeamish.

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Cheflebrity Smörgåsbord: Welcome to the Rock


Let me start off by making something perfectly clear:  I don’t give a rat’s ass who wins on any reality competition show.  For the most part, I think the contestants on these shows are the equivalent of tissues — made to be used and discarded as quickly as possible.  I don’t find these people in the least bit interesting and if your most impressive “skill” is your ability to get chosen to appear on American Idol, or that sewing show that used to be on Bravo, I have no interest in following your exploits after the season is over, even if you are the big winner.

And although I pretty much feel this way about Top Chef Masters, I’d say I only have about 99% apathy.  Why?  Because I totally want Hubert Keller to win this thing.

Two reasons:

  1. He’s a PBS show host and I always like seeing those guys get props.
  2. He looks exactly like Sean Connery at about the 14 minute mark in The Rock.  After he washes off the prison grime but before getting the full make-over by the barber.

I figure this as good an excuse as any to root for him.  Oh…brainstorm!  We need a Michael Bay-directed food movie.  Given his love of fire and slow-motion, that is going to be one AWESOME crème brûlée scene.

Enough silliness…on to the smörg.

– I pray to you, oh Flying Spaghetti Monster, let there be a reality show involved:  Human Train Wrecks Rocco DiSpirito and Jeffrey Chodorow could hook up again?

– How can you tell that a controversial issue is reaching the mainstream?  Shaq tweets about it.  Er, I mean:  When the folks in the industry embrace it.  Chipotle will be screening Food, Inc. at locations around the country.

After the jump…the vocal stylings of Mr. Mario Batali, a link to a story that includes the words “Giada” and “testicles,” and confirmation that Food Network and a former Olympian are completely in on the joke.

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