A Return Trip to the Caribbean

Guyana, a country on South America’s North Atlantic coast, is defined by its dense rainforest. The country is English-speaking, with strong traditions of cricket and calypso music, and culturally it’s connected to the Caribbean region.  Angela Pellew-Whyte is a native of Guyana and the chef at Angela’s in Bedford –Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

Interestingly, Ms. Pellew-White ran the original Angela’s on the same corner from 1997 to 2004, and after training in the culinary program at the Art Institute of New York City, she returned to the same space to pick up where she had left off.  Ms. Pellew-White draws inspiration from growing up in a household of nine children, where her father prepared feasts for a large, extended family.  While her sisters played with dolls, she cooked.

Caribbean food has been described as bold, full-flavored, aromatic and textured food.  Caribbean food is a fusion of influences that may include plantains, okra and rice from African slaves, stir-fries and soy sauce from Chinese migrant workers, pork in all forms from Spanish colonists, puff pastry from the French and curries delivered with indentured servants from India.

One of Chef Pellew-White’s featured dishes is Guyanese saltfish and bake.  Bake is a type of fried bread that can be eaten with almost anything: jams, jellies, corned beef/mutton, saltfish, even vegetable dishes such as sautéed okra or tomato choka.  Recommended dishes includes codfish sliders, oxtail (the meat is braised and complemented by gravy), curry goat (with scents of cumin and curry), jerk chicken (in a strong marinade), okra (beautifully tender), plantains (soft and warm), rice and peas, and corn with house dressing.  Pricing is moderate.

Angela’s can be found on the corner of Nostrand and Jefferson Avenues, and serves moderately-priced, pan-Caribbean dishes.

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One Sommelier’s Streamlined Vision

Only the well-financed restaurants have the resources to present the best wines.  Most wine-conscious restaurants narrow their visions and choose a style or region in which to concentrate.  The selection complements the cooking and conveys something about the restaurant’s identity.

Freek’s Mill is a new casual restaurant in Gowanus, Brooklyn, and features one of the most narrowly concentrated selections of wine.  However, if you want Beaujolais or a chenin blanc, this restaurant is the place to be; these wines make up about 70% of the bottle inventory.  The wine list was constructed by Alex Alan, the sommelier and a partner in the restaurant.  Mr. Alan said his choices grew out of a draft of the restaurant’s opening menu, which emphasized seasonal vegetables, small plates and a wood-burning oven.

Beaujolais is a French wine generally made of the Gamay grape which has a thin skin and is low in tannins.  Beaujolais tends to be a very light-bodied red wine, with relatively high amounts of acidity.  The wine takes its name from the historical Province of Beaujolais, a wine producing region.  Chenin blanc is a white wine grape variety from the Loire valley of France. Its high acidity means it can be used to make everything from sparkling wines to well-balanced dessert wines,

Mr. Alan is quoted, “In a perfect world, I want to give customers what they want.  But I also want to teach them something without it feeling like I’m teaching them something.” The author of this article, Eric Asimov, applauds Mr. Alan for choosing wonderful wines that will reward customers who put themselves in his hands.

Here lies the age-old debate: Is a restaurant obligated to give customers what they want by offering something for everybody?  Or can it stay true to a vision?

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