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Barney Greengrass, New York, NY, Tasted on November 13, 2004 Where Katz's Delicatessen has cornered the market on Jewish cured meat Barney Greengrass represents the fish end of the spectrum. Saturday lunch belongs at Katz's but Barney Greengrass p0wns Sunday brunch.

I try hard not to let anything other than the food affect my judgment of a restaurant experience. However, the incredible atmosphere at Barney Greengrass makes it very very difficult. If you want a place that puts you immediately at ease with it's informality, crowdedness, cluttered details on the walls (in a good way), warmth, and great food, then Barney Greengrass is home. That said, even if the atmosphere gets you to go once, the food is the reason to return.

If you're going to have brunch composed of lots of smoked fish, then the bagel is the foundational element in your meal. The bagels here are solid but light. They are great toasted however. The folks behind the counter told me they got them from City Bagel. Light Philly Cream Cheese arrived at our table in the same container you get at the supermarket.

Combining various cured items with eggs is always a good idea so we got two variations. The Salami and Eggs had deep caramelized salami flavor permeating the entire dish. The Nova and Onion Scramble was salty and quite good as well. We also got some super crunchy pickles as well as a tall glass of Borscht.

At first I wondered about the Latkes with their hockey puck like shape. But the potato flavor was so savory I found it beguilingly good. There was a peppery quality to the latkes. I wondered if they were fried in schmaltz. They were served with the ever-complementary apple sauce of course.

And of course the fish is the star of the show at Barney Greengrass. We got a healthy portion of various selections. The whitefish was buttery and smooth. The lox was creamy. And the sturgeon was deeply oily in a good way. There was also "pastrami" cured salmon which was peppery. I thought it could have been even stronger in terms of the peppery quality.

Yummy Rugelach and Hot Cocoa punctuated the end of meal with a little sugar after all that salt intake.

I can't decide whether it's good or bad that I don't live in Manhattan. I suppose it's a bad thing that I don't when it comes to my access to good food. However, if there is a small silver lining, it's that I don't have to schlep to Barney Greengrass every Sunday morning for brunch, because if I lived there, that's what I would need to do. They do however ship their fish anywhere, so maybe I'll have to try that.










Tastingmenu is focused on superlative restaurant experiences from two perspectives: behind the plate and behind the stove. Tastingmenu is written by Hillel (professional eater) and Dana (up-and-coming professional chef) in Seattle, Washington.

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  Garlic has long been credited with providing and prolonging physical strength and was fed to Egyptian slaves building the giant pyramids. Throughout the centuries, its medicinal claims have included cures for toothaches, consumption, open wounds and evil demons. A member of the lily family, garlic is a cousin to leeks, chives, onions and shallots. The edible bulb or "head" grows beneath the ground. This bulb is made up of sections called cloves, each encased in its own parchmentlike membrane. Today's major garlic suppliers include the United States (mainly California, Texas and Louisiana), France, Spain, Italy and Mexico. There are three major types of garlic available in the United States: the white-skinned, strongly flavored American garlic; the Mexican and Italian garlic, both of which have mauve-colored skins and a somewhat milder flavor; and the Paul Bunyanesque, white-skinned elephant garlic (which is not a true garlic, but a relative of the leek), the most mildly flavored of the three. Depending on the variety, cloves of American, Mexican and Italian garlic can range from 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches in length. Elephant garlic (grown mainly in California) has bulbs the size of a small grapefruit, with huge cloves averaging 1 ounce each. It can be purchased through mail order and in some gourmet markets. Green garlic, available occasionally in specialty produce markets, is young garlic before it begins to form cloves. It resembles a baby leek, with a long green top and white bulb, sometimes tinged with pink. The flavor of a baby plant is much softer than that of mature garlic. Fresh garlic is available year-round. Purchase firm, plump bulbs with dry skins. Avoid heads with soft or shriveled cloves, and those stored in the refrigerated section of the produce department. Store fresh garlic in an open container (away from other foods) in a cool, dark place. Properly stored, unbroken bulbs can be kept up to 8 weeks, though they will begin to dry out toward the end of that time. Once broken from the bulb, individual cloves will keep from 3 to 10 days. Garlic is usually peeled before use in recipes. Among the exceptions are roasted garlic bulbs and the famous dish, "chicken with 40 cloves of garlic," in which unpeeled garlic cloves are baked with chicken in a broth until they become sweet and butter-soft. Crushing, chopping, pressing or pureeing garlic releases more of its essential oils and provides a sharper, more assertive flavor than slicing or leaving it whole. Garlic is readily available in forms other than fresh. Dehydrated garlic flakes (sometimes referred to as instant garlic) are slices or bits of garlic that must be reconstituted before using (unless added to a liquid-based dish, such as soup or stew). When dehydrated garlic flakes are ground, the result is garlic powder. Garlic salt is garlic powder blended with salt and a moisture-absorbing agent. Garlic extract and garlic juice are derived from pressed garlic cloves. Though all of these products are convenient, they're a poor flavor substitute for the less expensive, readily available and easy-to-store fresh garlic. One unfortunate side effect of garlic is that, because its essential oils permeate the lung tissue, it remains with the body long after it's been consumed, affecting breath and even skin odor. Chewing chlorophyll tablets or fresh parsley is helpful but, unfortunately, modern-day science has yet to find the perfect antidote for residual garlic odor.  

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