Great Flan & Corn Fungus at Chiles & Chocolate

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I’ve never been a big fan of flan. For starters, the word “flan” seems to fuse together two words that don’t exactly whet the appetite: flacid and wan. And then there are memories of bad flan in Spanish class in high school. We all had to bring in a dish (Jessica Aronowitz and I made guacamole) and someone brought in flan, which I remember as a gelatinous blob that tasted like chemicals and milk. I think the person who brought it in made it from some kind of box the way you make Jell-O from a box. If I were the teacher, I’d have suspended him.

Luckily, my flan phobia has been remedied by the flan you see above. I joined food writer Dana Bowen at Chiles & Chocolate in Park Slope on Tuesday. The space is wonderfully eclectic and authentic, a paean to the Oaxacan culture that the restaurant pays tribute to. We were tended to by a jovial host/hostesss/waitress/coffee-maker who engaged us at every turn about the food we were eating. Dana (pronounced Dah-na, like banana) had been there once before and steered me through the menu. I thought she was steering like a crazy person when she suggested we share a corn fungus quesadilla. Or, more precisely, a “Huitlacoche” quesadilla.

“Corn fungus?” I protested. “Like…real fungus?”

“It’s really earthy and strange,” promised Dana. “You’ll love it.”

So here it is:

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What looks like black beans on the inside is actually the Huitlacoche. Like Dana said, it has a muted, earthy flavor–subtle and strange and not like anything you’ve ever had.

“The French have truffles,” said our waitress. “And the Mexicans have huitalacoche.”

My chicken mole entree was a bit disappointing. Dana had the “mole negro” (which I ordered) a few nights earlier and she was convinced that the mole on my plate wasn’t the mole negro because it was so red. We asked the waitress and she said it was the mole negro so we ultimately believed her, though we both agreed the mole was a bit lackluster and had a bitter aftertaste. (Dana had tamales which she liked.)

The best part of the whole meal, though, was the flan you see at the top. It was fantastic: creamy, rich, sweet but not cloying. Enough to make a flan convert out of anyone, especially me.

“This is the best flan I’ve ever had,” I told Dana.

“Isn’t it great?”

A final bite remained on the plate and I offered it to Dana. She said “No thanks, it’s so rich” so I scarfed it down. And with that final bite I retired my Soul Man status and accepted my new role as Flan Man. I am a man who likes flan.

Park Slope Picks: Franny’s, Taro Sushi, NoNo Kitchen

“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard.” – Dorothy, Wizard of Oz

Good point, Dorothy! And since I live in Park Slope it’s time to stop trekking into Manhattan for my stomach’s desire and time to start searching right here where I live. Especially because it’s snowing. And icy. And cold.

So here’s what I found. I found this awesome pizza at Franny’s:

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Franny’s was in my brain like a forgettable cousin, flitting around the Bar Mitzvah of my consciousness, never really getting noticed as I was lifted in my chair to Hava Nagila. I knew Diana went on a date at Franny’s (prognosis: good pizza, bad date). And then I had dinner with Julie, Lauren’s girlfriend, here for work from D.C. and she told me she’d been to Franny’s with her co-workers and she couldn’t believe I’d never been there. Especially because I live a few blocks away. And so I went with Craig to Franny’s.

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‘Tis The Season To Eat In Brooklyn, Fa La La La La La Al Di La

Let’s write about Al Di La. (That’s what the voice in my head just said as I sat down to do work; I have various projects going, but the voice in my head cares about you, my reader, sitting at your desk desperate to see pictures of food. (How many of you just scroll through the pictures and gaze quickly at the text? I’m guessing most. (It’s ok, I don’t judge you.)))

So Al Di La:

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As you can see, the sign says “Al Di La Vino.” That’s because the regular Al Di La was full and the host told us to go around the corner to “Vino” and we’d be seated right away. So we did and we were glad because it’s nice to be seated right away. (This was Sunday night, by the way, where Al Di La is less crowded; on Saturday night, don’t even try–you won’t get close.)

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A Weekend of Celebration: Meals at Mo Pitkin’s, August, Le Gigot and Beet

Ever since news of my book deal leaked its way on to the internet [Ok, so it was leaked by me, but still–there was leakage] the food blog media and my screaming fans are desperate to know whether I’ll still be the same old Adam or whether fame and fortune will change me. Let me set you straight right now: of course it’s going to change me! You losers are history. From this day forth, I’m sitting at the cool table and you nerds better do my homework or I’ll give you a wet willy and pants you in the gym.

Just kidding! It’s still sweet little ole me. Humble as apple pie. [And in case I ever did get a big head, I could go back and re-read this person’s nasty review of me at Blogratingz that says: “[Adam] can’t write about food to save his life. A recent post about a German restaurant was peppered with such evocative adjectives as ‘delicious’ (twice) and ‘funky’ (also twice). Add to this lack of originality his delusion that he is funny, and what you’ve got is probably the worst food writing since ‘Where’s the beef?'” That last line actually made me laugh. And though it’s nasty, it’s well written. Delicious, even, and funky. I give it a 5.]

Where were we? Oh yes. My big head. Celebration. This was a weekend of celebration (see post title). It involved celebratory dinners at:

Mo Pitkin’s!

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[That’s me and Diana out front with a stranger.]

August!

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Le Gigot!

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and

Beet!

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Won’t you join me as I reflect back on my weekend of binge-eating? Click the button to see all that was consumed.

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Ghost of Meals Eaten Past: Dinner at Chip Shop (in Brooklyn)

Last week–or was it two weeks ago–on the Thursday after classes ended (the 16th) I met Kirk and James in Brooklyn to eat dinner before we got sloshy at Colin’s bar, Floyd. (Sorry for all this name dropping—but it’s ok to drop names when no one knows who you’re talking about.)

So Kirk recommended we go to “Chip Shop”–a bastion of British food near where he lives (and I think he lives in Williamsburg, but now that I think about it I think he lives in Park Slope. I’m what they call an unreliable narrator.)

Having lived in England for a summer, (I studied Shakespeare and British Theater at Oxford the summer after my junior year in college), the idea repulsed me. I HATE British food. Honestly, the food at Oxford was so bad I had to go to Starbucks (yes even then I was going to Starbucks) to buy sandwiches. SANDWICHES at Starbucks–that’s how bad.

But, then again, there was fish and chips. And that’s what Chip Shop serves–fish and chips and curries. So I ordered fish and chips: cod and fries, that came out thusly:

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(Photos by James Felder. Fish by Chip Shop.)

The fish and chips were great. The malt vinegar on the table helped. James told a story of how he used to go to A Salt and Battery (which, James concluded, had inferior fish and chips to Chip Shop) and got headaches after using their malt vinegar. The staff there seemed to acknowledge a relationship between headaches and their malt vinegar. Chip Shop’s malt vinegar did not induce headaches, but it did induce labor. I had a little boy and his name is Rodolfo.

For dessert, the three of us shared treacle pudding:

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James kvelled over this and I really enjoyed it. It was a warm cream vanilla sauce over a cakey puddingy mound. To quote the Barefoot Contessa: “How bad could that be?” (Actually, I hate it when the Barefoot Contessa says that, but I have a malt vinegar headache.)

And that, mates, was our meal at Chip Shop. Next time you’re in the neighborhood (whatever neighborhood it ends up being in) check it out. Chip S(hop) Ahoy!)