Tag Archive | "bar"

Snack on grasshoppers


Although they are annoying to gardeners, grasshoppers are actually liked by some people. Liked enough to eat and savor.

This critter, like other bugs, is considered a snack in countries like Mexico, the Middle East and Thailand. So much so that food businesses offer them as average bar food.  And in New York, the place where oddities collide, finding grasshoppers to eat is not difficult either. Although you always have the possibility to raise you own, bodegas and ingredient stores in Chinatown sell already killed and cleaned grasshoppers. Saving you the hassle of growing, manually decapitating without crushing, and boiling the bug to cook.

Once you get your grasshoppers, which will look red rather than brown because they have been boiled, you can marinade them in limejuice and spices or your favorite seasoning. In a warm frying pan with little or no oil, since the grasshoppers will have some liquid from the marinade, they can be fried. Let the fried grasshoppers cool and when ready start munching. To avoid the hassle of finding and cooking this bug altogether you could also head to Toloache, a modern Mexican restaurant owned by chef Julian Medina.

A native of Mexico City, Medina grew up eating grasshoppers, or “chapulines” in Spanish, as snacks. When he opened his business he added something familiar to the menu. “It’s really taken off at the restaurant and people come in and order it a lot,” said Jennifer Neugeboren, press representative for Toloache. You can also find businesses that sell chocolate covered grasshoppers, for those with a sweet tooth, or ethnic restaurants that ground, jelly, roast, and dip grasshoppers in honey.

Regardless of how they are cooked grasshoppers are a very good source of protein. In some places, like rural Africa, they are an integral part of a meal to add fats, minerals and vitamins to people’s diets. So, don’t rule this dish out of your diet just yet.

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Mooncakes in Manhattan


On a drizzly Friday night in early October, with no moon showing in New York, one bar here opened its doors in celebration of the Mooncake Festival.

In China, families traditionally get together at home to observe the moon when it is full, round and chubby, and eat mooncakes, round and chubby.  And in China, the festival fell the following day, but that was inconvenient in New York.

In New York, the Mooncake Festival is a meet-and-mingle at Ainsworth, on 26th St., a wood-paneled bar with  few echoes of the old country but  a lot of introductions.

While one portion of the bar was comprised of youngsters cradling drinks and watching  baseball on numerous flat-screen TV’s, the other portion consisted of a large, cozy bunch of people, most of them Chinese, engaged in conversation amidst drinks and mooncakes.

‘Mooncake Madness’ was put together by ‘Mandarin Mondays’ – a group of over a thousand Mandarin-speaking members based in New York City – and organized by ‘ConnectionZ Promotions’, an event-management company that aims at promoting peace through cross-cultural understanding.

In addition to  Chinese Americans who were present, a sprinkle of individuals from other ethnic backgrounds was also present – all mingling busily.

“This is more of a meet-up,” said Peter Hong, a  smiling, middle-aged man. “It’s a gathering of people just to practice their English and Mandarin. It does help me re-connect with my roots because in America the Asian holidays are rarely celebrated – so this is one chance for Asians to get together and remember their own holidays without getting lost in the US.”

In New York the Mooncake Festival is a meet-and-mingle (Photo: Sonya Rehman)

In New York the Mooncake Festival is a meet-and-mingle (Photo: Sonya Rehman)

Biting into a small slice of mooncake (a pastry filled with lotus seed paste), Stephanie Bechtale was pretty candid; “This event is a little different from what I thought because I thought, ‘okay they’re going to celebrate the Mooncake Festival and we’re gonna watch the moon.’ But this event is more like just to make friends.”

And lowering her voice, she added; “I also heard that most of the people here are single and are enjoying making friends. Probably this isn’t right for me! I’m not single but I came here because it’s a holiday.”

Lee Abbey, an American doctor who has lived in New York his entire life, has been a non-Chinese member of Mandarin Mondays for four years and believes that through events like this, one gets to meet Chinese people and learn Chinese. “Every Monday we have a meet-up in a restaurant and the first Monday of the week it’s usually a large group, and there’s a buffet. The other Mondays, it’s a smaller group and we all share dinner together. It’s basically a mixture of people of all levels of Chinese and people who’ve either lived in China or studied there. And we come together to discuss our experiences and get to know each other.”

Scott Chan, a Chinese American who has been living in New York for 20 years, thinks that it’s refreshing to be able to meet with other Mandarin speaking people through events like the Mooncake Festival.  “Also, as you can see”, he says gesturing towards the crowd of people, “There are not only Chinese people here…”

Having moved to America with his family when he was only 4-years- old, Kevin Yeung goes to school in Manhattan and has lived in Queens all his life. He thinks that the event tonight has its flaws, “But the very fact that we’re organizing this festival and celebrating it, yes, it does somewhat help me to get in touch with my culture, but in my opinion if you really wanna be connected to Chinese culture, you would actually have to get into the culture! Because right now it’s being held inside a bar – an American bar! And a Chinese cultural event being held in a bar seems to me, very foreign.”

Amidst the loud, blaring music, the clink of glasses and beer bottles, the flow of conversation and occasional outbursts of cheers from the other side of the room when a home-run was hit, the Mooncake Festival at Ainsworth was celebrated a bit differently from how it would look the next day, in China.

Mooncake recipe:

Cook Time: 20 minutes


  • Filling:
  • 1 pound red azuki beans
  • Water
  • 3/4 cup lard or oil
  • 1-3/4 cups sugar
  • Water-Shortening Dough:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 5 tablespoons lard
  • 10 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Flaky Dough:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 5 tablespoons lard
  • red food coloring for design


Filling Instructions: Soak red beans in water to cover 2 hours. Drain and discard the water. Cover with 8 cups fresh water and bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat 1-1/2 hours or until skins open. Strain the beans and discard the skins. Place the strained beans in several layers of cheesecloth and squeeze out any excess water.
Place in a saucepan with the lard or oil and the sugar. Cook, stirring continuously, until almost all the moisture has evaporated. Let cool.

Dough Instructions: You will need 2 cups of filling for the mooncakes. Divide this into 20 portions and shape into balls. Mix ingredients for the water-shortening dough and the flaky dough separately until smooth. Divide each dough into 20 equal portions.
Wrap one portion of flaky dough inside each portion of water-shortening dough. Roll out each piece of dough, and then fold in thirds to form three layers. Roll out again, and once more fold in thirds to form three layers.

Flatten each piece of dough with the palm of your hand to form a 3″ circle. Place one portion of filling in the center. Gather the edges to enclose the filling and pinch to seal. Place the filled packet in the mold, gently pressing to fit. Invert and remove the mold.
Dilute red food coloring with water and pour onto a damp paper towel on a plate. Take some food coloring onto the cookie-design stamp, then press on top of the mooncake.
Repeat process for remaining mooncakes. Arrange mooncakes on a baking sheet.

Bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool before serving.

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