Category Archives: store

Frank and The Whole Roasted Pig

Frank Piazza of the Piazza Brothers Winery approached us with a bottle in his hand. We were there for the Sopressata Making Class, an occasion good as any to showcase the winery’s collection.

“See this guy on the label?” Frank Piazza asked. On the label was a blue photo of a guy posing in a manner that must have been trademarked by James Dean – sitting on a set of steps, one foot resting higher than the other, arms leaning lazily the way only a carefree young man would. 

“That’s me,” said Frank.

Of course it was. The last time we were approached by an older gentleman who claimed it was his younger self on a wine bottle’s label, we were at a wine store in Brooklyn and the man was a goon in one of the older Godfather movies. How appropriate that we’d hear the same line again, but this time, in a non-descript warehouse in Staten Island beside an adult video store. Should we have started looking over our shoulders?

Instead Frank Piazza took it upon himself to sit us down and demonstrate the “proper” way to taste wine. Other than the usual nosing and legs examination, he prompted us to take a bit of wine a keep it for a few seconds in the front of our mouths, pooling around our bottom incisors.

“Okay,” he said, “now slowly move your tongue around it, then swallow.”

As he predicted our tongue split into several parts, the sides tingling from the acid of the wine, the tip from the sweetness, the back from the bitterness. I had never tasted wine like this before, and being no connoisseur, a new way was welcome. (Of course after further reading, apparently the existence of the tongue map is insgnificant, but I still thought it was pretty cool to demarcate the areas of your tongue with a sip of wine.)

After the class a whole roasted pig was served, and he cut it so expertly that I began to doubt the expertise of the  butchers I watched in my homeland.

We explained to the wine and sausage makers that a whole roasted pig was a fixture in Filipino parties. They smiled and said this one was actually from Chinatown. That explained the Five Spice Powder taste it had about it.

Either way we feasted, crunched on the skin, and I was able to scam the head to make some lechon paksiw. Good times!
Thanks, Frankie!

Frank Carves a Whole Roasted Pig

My plate of crispy skin, pasta and salad.
The head I scammed and took home to make Lechon Paksiw (recipe next post).

Sunrise Mart, East Village

Hidden on the second floor of the infamous St. Marks Bookshop in the East Village is Sunrise Mart, a New York institution that offers Japanese and Asian fare only a time-test specialized store would have. It boasts a produce, meat and seafood section as well as condiments, teas,  snacks, and almost everything else one would need to make a basic Japanese meal.

The vegetable section is limited but sufficient, with staples like daikon, choy sum, and watercress.

I am particularly fond of the cute mushroom selection which includes bunapi and maitake mushrooms as well as the usual shiitake.

The seafood section is impressive with octopus, squid and cuttlefish.

The fish section has individually packed salmon, sardines, and eel.  They are packaged in small portions for the convenience of single or small family eaters.

The meat department offers a sufficient selection of thinly sliced meats for sukiyaki and okonomiyaki.

In the back is a cute china section with ramen bowls and dishes.

And a great selection of Japanese tea kettles and cups.

An added bonus is the availability of my favorite chili garlic oil bukkake okazu rayu.

 What else would you need? For a good Japanese-themed meal, I believe not much more.

My stash for the day was modest: shishito peppers for frying, Korean peppers for my sesame beef stew, and some favorite rice crackers.

Oh and a photo of this happy character who gives new (or old) meaning to the word boner.
Everything at Sunrise Mart makes me say “Oishi!” 

Sunrise Mart
29 3rd Ave
(between 10th St & 2nd Ave)
New York, NY 10003
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