Simply Cooked Seafood Turns Luxurious at Taverna Kos

“An important omission on the menu at Taverna Kos in Astoria, Queens, is the enormous plate of feta you may see passing your table en route to a smarter party of people. Heaps of the imported cheese, which the restaurant buys in 28-pound containers, come flecked with dried oregano and slicked with olive oil, and act as a soft, creamy condiment for fried or broiled seafood, or dainty lamb chops.

The off-menu cheese course, which anyone can ask for, will remind you that feta can be just as slouchy as any washed-rind French cheese, as long as you buy the right stuff and put it on something hot. You could also just order a plate of feta fries, in which the crumbles melt into the soft, fresh-cut potatoes like a tangy, higher-quality Cheez Whiz.

Taverna Kos has been open to members of the Pancoan Society, a private club with which it shares a building, for 11 years; in 2016 the restaurant opened its doors to the public, and last summer began serving on weekends. There’s a lightly celebratory air about the place: String lights abound, tangled into the trees outside and lining the ceiling of the enclosed patio, where televisions play a constant stream of poppy Greek music videos.”

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NYC’s Balkan restaurants share culture, traditions with classic dishes

Djerdan Burek, a restaurant that was started over

“Most cultures have some kind of crispy, melty combination of bread and cheese: for Italy, it’s pizza; for the United Kingdom, it’s the toastie; for Brazil, it’s pao de queijo. And for the lesser-known “Balkans,” it’s the burek. Reminiscent of Greek spanakopita, burek is a flaky, layered phyllo dough pie that can be filled with the likes of cheese, beef, spinach, potato or apple. (…) Djerdan Burek, with locations in Astoria, Brooklyn and a factory in New Jersey, was started more than 20 years ago by Esma and Hamo Medunjanin, refugees from Bosnia. It was a true mom-and-pop shop then, according to daughter Selma Medunjanin-Ismajli, who took over the business with her two siblings when their parents retired.”

Back in the late 1990s her mother was making burek pies at home in their one-bedroom apartment and selling them to a local Balkan restaurant, and her father saw an opportunity. They rented a building on 34th St. and 31st Ave. in Astoria — where the restaurant is still located — and her mother worked the kitchen while her father worked the floor.”

“At this time many Bosnian refugees had settled in Astoria and not much was available to them,” Medunjanin-Ismajli explained. “We were one of the first Balkan restaurants to start up in the area. It was a very simple mom-and-pop restaurant with homemade food and friendly familiar service. To this day we try to operate and maintain the same principles and service.”

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Murray’s Opens a Mac-and-Cheese Restaurant in the West Village

Murray’s has a cheese store that also sells charcuterie and condiments on this busy West Village block, and, a few doors down, Murray’s Cheese Bar, serving wine and a cheese-friendly menu. Now, in an empty storefront, formerly Amy’s Bread, on the same block, the company has opened a macaroni and cheese restaurant. It’s a counter-service spot, with 20 seats, featuring a build-your-own menu. Start with a bowl of pasta cooked with cheese and other ingredients, then add other cheeses, vegetables, meats, sauces and toppings, all in four possible portion sizes (snack to family). Classic, barbecue, French onion and Buffalo chicken are among the style and flavor options. The pastas — all radiatori — are made by Sfoglini, a pasta company in upstate New York. There’s also a breakfast mac and cheese made with sausage, bacon, egg and Cheddar that’s served only on Saturdays and Sundays.

254 Bleecker Street (Leroy Street), 212-243-3289, ext. 350, murrayscheese.com.

See more Openings here.

Fast Food Prices Rise to Better Reflect True Costs

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“Dollar cheeseburgers and discount nuggets are getting Americans in the door at their favorite fast-food joints, but the savings end there.

Even as the recent fast-food discount wars rage on, with Burger King advertising 10 chicken nuggets for $1 and Pizza Hut offering $5 pies, fast-food items that don’t make it onto value menus are actually climbing in price. Median fast-food hamburger prices have jumped 54 percent over the last decade to about $6.95, according to menu researcher Datassential. Chicken sandwiches are up 27 percent. Both surpass overall U.S. price inflation during that same time.”

“McDonald’s Corp., the world’s biggest restaurant chain, recently started touting a $6 meal including a burger, fries, a drink and a pie, but it’s also offering plenty of items at the other end of the price scale. Its honey-barbecue glazed chicken tenders are more than $6 without any drinks or sides, and the new Bacon Smokehouse Quarter Pounder meal runs nearly $9 in Chicago.”

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McDonald’s Is Selling Cheesy Bacon Fries In Certain States

“McDonald’s traditional hot and crispy fries are getting jazzed up with two classic add-ons: Smoked bacon bits, and a gooey drizzle of real cheddar cheese sauce. It’s not quite the gravy-and-cheese-curd-topped poutine of our Canadian neighbors, but if you like your fries with a little something extra, this is your side dish.”

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Mount Mozzarella: The US Cheese Surplus Piles Up

CHEESEThere are 1.3 billion pounds of cheese in storage this year.  That’s a lot.  That’s the record, in fact, and it’s a global phenomenon that we’re struggling to deal with.  Two years ago, dairy farmers responded to a spike in demand by massively increasing production, but that demand has trailed off, and our supply is now bulging like a ball of mozzarella.

Fortunately, the USDA is making a conscientious move to help those in need: by purchasing $20 million of the surplus to give to food banks across the country.  This is great for food banks, which don’t usually get much of the good stuff.  However, it’s only a small shred in the pile–less than 1% of the 1.3 billion pounds in storage.

Additionally, it won’t do much for the falling milk price, which is hurting groceries across the country.  In fact, “The Chicago Mercantile Exchange spot prices for cheddar cheese were down following the announcement,” said Mark Stephenson, director of dairy policy analysis at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

To read more, click here.