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Adventurous modern Thai eatery Banana Blossom steps up but stays rooted in Gretna

The move is nothing really. It’s just about two miles straight down the same road. But to Jimmy Cho it’s everything.

In March, he closed the original location of his Banana Blossom Thai Restaurant on the edge of Gretna, and last week reopened it in a new home, at 500 Ninth St., in Old Gretna.

It’s not just a bigger space. It’s a huge step for an immigrant who arrived here with no restaurant plans in mind, but who ended up creating a unique addition to the modern New Orleans dining scene anyway.


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Banana Blossom Thai Restaurant serves traditional and original dishes in its new home in Gretna.


Advocate staff photo by Ian McNulty

After opening in 2009, Banana Blossom quickly became one of the area’s best restaurants for traditional Thai food, a spot for cool pad Thai on a hot day or hearty masaman curry on a chilly one, for tom yum soup and stir-fried clams in a garlicky broth.

Over time, it also grew into a Thai eatery that folds in more global flavors. Some of its dishes would feel at home at a Spanish tapas bar, a Creole restaurant or a Hawaiian beachfront shack.

“It’s all Thai ingredients,” said Cho. “That’s how we cook here, but we can bring in other influences too.”

This openness has made Banana Blossom the most adventurous Thai restaurant in the area, quietly doing its thing Gretna. It’s about time more people know how Banana Blossom rolls, and its new home is set up to introduce them.

Once a rundown corner store, the address has been revamped with a long dining room, a dedicated bar for drinking and drop-in meals and a semi-open kitchen.

It may be close to the first Banana Blossom, but it’s been a long ride to get here.


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The new home of Banana Blossom in Gretna before and after renovations. 


Cho grew up in northwest Thailand, where his family ran a combination noodle shop and grocery as part of a market. He eventually made it to New Orleans, where his family had some friends. He was studying to be a surgical tech at Delgado Community College and working at the Gretna sushi bar Café Zen.

But when that restaurant moved to a bigger location a few doors down, Cho decided to take over the lease and try his hand cooking his native Thai cuisine. It was a modest debut, with just a few tables under a drop ceiling. But it fit Cho’s start-up finances and his prudent outlook.

“You have to start small, then you can build,” he said.

As Banana Blossom’s business increased, so did Cho’s own travel budget. Travel is a priority for him. In one year alone, he visited more than a dozen countries. The food he eats along the way sometimes becomes source material for new dishes at Banana Blossom.

For instance, a trip to Hawaii and meals from Oahu’s fleet of “shrimp truck” food vendors led to the “Hawaii 504,” a bowl of coconut shrimp, boiled egg and pineapple over Thai barbecue sauce. Ramen, a Japanese staple, joined the menu after a trip to Bali, where it’s a common breakfast dish.

Some ideas started closer to home. Banana Blossom’s version of BBQ shrimp tastes buttery, like the New Orleans original, but uses no butter. It’s vegetable oil and coconut milk and chile peppers around big, head-on shrimp. The same sauce surrounds BBQ oysters, fried in airy-light batter and served in cast iron skillets.

Thai roti bread – chewy here, crinkly-crisp there – now fields many different roles on the menu. It becomes something like a Natchitoches meat pie, filled with Thai-style minced pork and crimped around the edges. A more recent riff is a roti sandwich stuffed with ground chicken, fried egg and hot sauce, which is modeled after a breakfast dish common around Cho’s hometown.


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BBQ oysters with roti bread is part of the menu at the Thai restaurant Banana Blossom in Gretna.


But while Banana Blossom has moved on up with its new location, the restaurant is also staying in the West Bank community where it first took root.

Cho knows the New Orleans restaurant scene well. He knows Magazine Street or the Warehouse District would be a higher-profile perch, and that he’d get more tourist business there.

But with so many other restaurants now opening in the city proper, and with the chance to actually buy and redevelop his own real estate in Gretna, he decided to stay put.

“The business is all local, we don’t get any tourists here,” said Cho. “I live nearby, I want to cook for people here. I feel like here I will have more control of where the business goes.”

Banana Blossom Thai Restaurant

500 Ninth St., Gretna, 504-392-7530

Lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat.

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The Best Kitchen Tools and Appliances for the Money • Gear Patrol

Not every category of products has a “Best in Class.” In fact, very few do. But there are plenty of categories that have a quintessential standard, a product or brand that serves as the conjured mental image for anyone who ever muttered the words “Dutch oven” (Le Creuset) or “blender” (Vitamix). Of course, there just one problem with these buck-list buys: they’re hardly affordable for the everyday consumer.

Amid a sea of knock-offs, marketing trickery and glossy websites, it’s easy to get duped into compromising on products that promise much but deliver little. Luckily, we’ve done the legwork for you — the following seven kitchen products are the best no-bullshit stand-ins for the things we all drool over, but can’t all afford.

How to Buy Kitchen Tools on a Budget

In short, it’s difficult but not impossible to shop for your kitchen on a budget. The first thing to come to grips with is there will be sacrifices made and corners cut. The good news is that those sacrifices don’t have to come at the expense of product performance. When considering a suitable replacement for an out-of-reach product, much of the time you’re going to lose out in two main areas: customer service and warranty assurance.

Many new ventures are made up of smart people who make seriously great stuff that costs you fractions of their industry’s old guard, but they don’t have access to the enormous structural and financial foundations the stalwarts do. Money is allotted for product material and design above all else, as there’s typically not a budget for an army of customer service representatives or the wherewithal to honor a strong warranty. They’ll often take the direct-to-consumer model, cutting out brick-and-mortar retailers and distribution in favor of the product and the product alone. So, when you’re going through this list or doing research on your own, check on these things. See how quickly they respond to a customer service email or a phone call, read up on what their warranty covers and for how long. The goal is to find a product whose quality-to-price ratio is such that you can’t not buy it for the price, and you’re not going to be left out in the cold by a nascent, unresponsive company.

Buying Guide

Want: All-Clad Frying Pan ($125)
Get: Made In Frying Pan ($59)

Save $66: There are plenty of big brands making middling sets of stainless steel, but make no mistake, All-Clad is very much the ruler of its category. The American company has been churning out cookware beloved to professional chefs and home cooks alike, its brushed d3 and d5 (3-ply and 5-ply) lines leading the way. But a simple 10-inch frying pan — the staple on which nearly all dishes begin or end — will set you back $125.

You can afford two pans with change to spare at Made In Cookware, which also makes its products in America, and packs a staggering amount of quality and an even more surprising level of customer service and warranty into its products. Its stainless steel is all 5-ply — the top and bottom layers are steel and the middle three are different aluminum mixes for more efficient heating. It’s also polished before brushing, an out-of-the-ordinary step that gives the finished pieces an ever-so-slight twinkle to them.

Beyond cooking, Made In flexes a seriously exceptional lifetime warranty program for any company, let alone what amounts to a startup. It nearly matches All-Clad’s limited lifetime warranty, which, given the differences in resources, is pretty great.

Want: Butter Pat Cast-Iron Skilet ($195)
Get: Stargazer Cast-Iron Skillet ($88)


Save $107: Let’s be clear — if you don’t care about a glassy, smooth surface on a cast-iron skillet, there’s no shame in getting a Lodge. If you want to be able to cook (and flip) more delicate dishes without much trouble, a pan that’s pretty enough to hang on a wall and can whip up the crispiest patato hash imaginable, keep reading.

Butter Pat’s skillets are immaculate. They’re light where they can be and heavy where they need to be, and their surface is smoother than some stainless steel skillets out there. But, the smallest model, a 10-inch skillet called the Heather, is nearly $200.

Stargazer doesn’t have a pretty website, but its machine-smoothed 10-inch skillet is $88 and cooks nearly everything just as well as the Butter Pat or any other boutique competition. It also sports elegant sloping walls that make tossing veggies (or, again, a hash) a cinch. The piece is moderately heavier than a Butter Pat of the same size, which also comes with a better seasoning straight out of the box. But making purchasing decisions around initial seasoning quality is a fool’s errand. The Stargazer is premium product wrapped in pure value.

Want: Le Creuset Dutch Oven($340)
Get: Milo Classic Dutch Oven ($95)

Save $245: What makes a quality Dutch oven? Heat-retention, balanced weight, a well-fitting lid and, perhaps most importantly, enamel coating that resists discoloration, cracks or degradation over time. That last word is what’s worth keying in on, and what makes it difficult to find a suitable replacement for a Le Creuset or Staub. Time. Those two have had decades to prove time and again that their coats of enamel will not so easily give in.

Milo is new blood (like, brand new) in the Dutch oven market, and operates at a price solidly one-third of that of the premium brands. Its ovens are polished to a stainless finish prior to a double coat of enameling and being fired two times. This process ensures the body of the piece is durable, the enamel coating is properly bonded to the iron and that the enamel isn’t going to wear away after a few months use — a Dutch oven should be an heirloom, not a product to be replaced.

The lid seals well enough to keep most of the steam and evaporating liquid in, and I didn’t notice any hot or cold spots when cooking it. The light-hue interior is a small plus, as it allows for easier spot-checking on the progress of a sear, but it bears mentioning. Lastly, though sometimes glossed over due to function-over-form types, the Milo is just plain nice to look at.

Want: Technivorm Moccamaster ($310)
Get: Bonavita ($85+)


Save $200: The Technivorm Moccamaster does everything someone who knows everything about coffee cares about and is simple enough that someone who knows little can use it. Put together piece-by-piece in the Netherlands since the ’60s, it features quality steel, glass and copper tubing, and there’s an underlying trust that the machine isn’t going to fail you.

With Bonavita, you won’t be settling or compromising much. It’s one of four manufacturers to make multiple machines that pass the Specialty Coffee Association’s hyper-rigorous certifictaion process (the Moccamaster is also SCA-certified), and they do it for pennies to Technivorm’s dollar. Bonavita offers a classic machine and a programmable version, both of which feature pre-brew blooming functionality, maintain optimal brewing temperature through the entire brewing process (195 to 205 degrees) and provide peak extraction with a wide basket and shower head water drip. This is all to say it is exquisitely engineered to make brewing a cup of coffee as simple, and as great, as possible. It also brews at the same speed as the Moccamaster (about 6 minutes). The Moccamaster differentiates itself with a copper heating mechanism (thought to last longer than the aluminum used in lower-priced machines), a significantly longer idle warming time (40 minutes vs. 100 minutes) and a five-year warranty that eclipses Bonavita’s two-year warranty.

If you’re just in it for the coffee, though, this Bonavita is a rock solid home coffee maker for the aspiring, but budget-minded, Moccamster owner.

Want: Vitamix 5200 ($400)
Get: Cleanblend Blender ($200)


Save $200: By product development standards, the world of high-performance blending was utterly dominated by Vitamix for an abnormal stretch of time. Yes, Blendtec also made super-charged blenders in that stretch, but they routinely retailed for north of $700, which somehow makes the $400 Vitamix 5200 seem reasonable.

Cleanblend is a relatively new company — opening up shop in 2013 — but its blenders suffer few beginner’s flaws. Equipped with a 3-horsepower motor, Cleanblend’s product is actually more powerful than the 5200, enabling it to chew through and liquify all manner of tiny seeds, nuts and other tiny bits. It’s also apparent they sort of ripped their look straight from the Vitamix, with a central speed knob flanked by off-on and pulse switch on either side. It comes with a five-year warranty, so you’ll lose out on two years of warranty and the Vitamix’s street rep, but you’ll keep $200 in your pocket. When all is said and done, if you’re in it for the performance over the prestige, Cleanblend’s product will serve you just fine.

Want: Custom Chef’s Knife ($500+)
Get: Kramer x Zwilling Chef’s Knife ($300)


Save $200+: Who is Bob Kramer, why is his name listed before Zwilling’s and how on earth is $300 an affordable option?

Bob Kramer, who’s chef’s knives regularly auction for $5,000 or more, may very well be the finest living bladesmith in the U.S. His products are beautiful, made with incredible materials and brutally functional. So when Kramer helps design a kitchen knife that’ll cost you what you’re paying on your water bill, it’s worth paying attention.

The collaboration with Zwilling yields a chef’s knife made with 52100 steel (the same Kramer uses in custom projects), an extra-wide, easy-gripping blade and Kramer’s trademark mix of Japanese-style steel (high carbon) and German-style handle (slightly ergonomic). It’s manufactured in Japan with the help of 42 separate artisans, and finished at Kramer’s workshop in Washington. In short, this completely badass knife makes $300 seem like a bargain.

Want: The Big Green Egg (~$900+)
Get: Char-Griller Akorn ($300)


Save $600+: Kamado grills are the cast-iron cookware of the grilling arena. They take longer to heat, they’re more difficult to maintain and they’re surprisingly fragile, but they also hold heat like no other, and perform tasks other cookwares simply can’t. At the risk of being drawn and quartered by the Big Green Egg’s legion of Kamado-grilling cultists, our claim is simple: Char-Griller’s affordable Akorn grill is more than enough grill for the majority of people. Kamado grills became popular in the U.S. after American soldiers returned from war-torn with knowledge of them (they’d been used for literally thousands of years in China and Japan by this point), including Big Green Egg’s founder, Ed Fisher. The idea is the egg shape of the grills usher the heat from the coals up and around the sides of the grill and back up again, creating what amount to a smoker mixed with a classic brick pizza oven.

The Akorn grill remedies the fragility issue by employing triple-walled steel as its body (powder-coated outside, porcelain-coated inside) in place of the traditional ceramics. This makes for a grill that isn’t going to crack or shatter if tipped over or tied down on the way to a tailgate, and is much, much more maneuverable. Its grates made of cast-iron, adding another level of heat retention, and, unlike a BGE, a detachable heating rack is part of the deal, too.

The Miscellaneous Kitchen Accessories To Go With Your New Gear

You really don’t need a mandoline. But you’re better off having one. Read the Story

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Kitchen beginners: How to set up your kitchen for success – Virginian

Sometimes I forget how mysterious the kitchen was when I first moved into my own apartment, armed with an assortment of parental hand-me-downs. I loved the convenience of frozen and microwaveable meals. Preparing a “one-pot dinner” was as simple as opening up a box of Pasta Roni. I rarely bought additional equipment because I had no idea what I needed.

Stocking your kitchen doesn’t have to be a complicated or pricey adventure. If your budget is flexible, splurge on a few higher-end items that will last you for decades (for example, a good-quality knife). Or you can start with all inexpensive yet well-made items, get a feel for them and upgrade over time as you see fit.

Today, I’m going to share some of my top kitchen essentials to help you figure out what you might need to round out your cooking supplies. Then, I’ll put a few of those key items to use and show you a quick-and-easy recipe that can be used to enhance many savory recipes: a fried egg.

Cookware and bakeware

Skillet: Straight-sided skillets are best for searing, pan-frying and handling large quantities of ingredients, and those typically come with lids. Skillets that have sides that widen at the top allow you to flip ingredients, and they’re also the best option for recipes in which the ingredients take on the shape of the pan, such as frittatas.

You also get to choose between nonstick and regular pans. Nonstick skillets allow you to reduce the fat used in recipes, and are a good choice for working with tender ingredients such as eggs, fish and pancakes. Regular surfaces (typically stainless steel or cast iron) are all about that flavorful, crisped exterior.

Medium saucepan with lid: A 1.5- or 2-quart, heavy-bottom saucepan is great for making sauces and cooking grains. They’re also useful for a variety of tasks when you don’t need a huge pot of boiling water (for example, hard-cooking eggs).

Rimmed baking sheet: Whether you’re baking cookies or roasting veggies, baking sheets are a true kitchen essential. Always line them with parchment paper or foil for easy cleanup.

Loaf pan, brownie pan, muffin pan: The type of bakeware you need depends on what you’re planning to bake. Most of these can be used in more than one type of recipe, making them good multitaskers. For example, a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan works for breads, pound cakes and meatloaf.

Dutch oven: An enameled cast-iron Dutch oven is one of the best all-purpose pots you can own. Non-enameled Dutch ovens are a more affordable alternative, but the enameled versions are much easier to clean. Use this to make soups and stews, sear meats and prepare an assortment of one-pot meals.

Equipment and tools

Chef’s knife: This is the most important utensil you can own, with a blade that is 8 to 10 inches long. The chef’s knife is a kitchen workhorse, especially when it comes to meat and produce. Use it for chopping, slicing, dicing and mincing. Invest in a decent one (anywhere from $80 to $120), get it professionally sharpened occasionally, and it will last you for ages as long as you treat it properly.

Paring knife: This is a close second. Paring knives can be used for various tasks that require a bit more precision, such as peeling and hulling produce, or removing seeds from peppers and vanilla beans. A good quality paring knife will cost $40 to $50.

Kitchen shears: Keep a pair of scissors in the kitchen; they’re a great multitasker. You can use them for just about anything, including trimming fresh herbs and raw chicken.

Blender/food processor: I’ve lumped these together, because they can often be used for similar tasks, such as making dips and pesto. Blenders are best for liquids (smoothies, sauces and soups), while a food processor can handle more labor- intensive tasks, such as grating large quantities of cheese. High-end blenders are powerful enough to handle tasks meant for a food processor, and vice versa. If there’s room for only one in your budget, think carefully about which one you’re most likely to use on a regular basis. If you’re planning to make a lot of smoothies, get the blender.

Heat-resistant tongs: Think of tongs as an extension of your arm. Use them to turn meats and vegetables as they cook, and for tossing together pastas and salads.

Microplane zester: This is a multitasking kitchen tool that can grate citrus zest, nutmeg, hard cheeses and more.

Meat thermometer: Avoid the guesswork and get a digital meat thermometer. I use one with a probe and alarm, which can be left inside the meat as it roasts in the oven or on the grill. The alarm goes off when the internal temperature is where I want it to be.

Oven mitts: I recommend using oven mitts, preferably nonflammable ones that are shaped like gloves or mitts. These offer much more control over the hot items you’re handling. Even better, some of them have nonslip grips.

Additional items you should have include large and small mixing bowls, liquid and dry measuring cups and spoons, wire cooling rack, vegetable peeler, colander, spatula, whisk, and cutting boards – we recommend one for raw meats and one for everything else.

Pantry and fridge

Having a well-stocked pantry and fridge will save you so much time in the long run. As you become more familiar with how to use ingredients, you’ll be able to throw together meals in no time.

Washington Post deputy Food editor and recipes editor Bonnie S. Benwick has pulled together an excellent pantry list for her weekly “Dinner in Minutes” feature, which highlights great, simple recipes that utilize the skills I’ll be teaching you during this series. You can use Bonnie’s pantry as your shopping guide and make adjustments based on your personal preferences. You can find it at bit.ly/pntrylist.

TRY THIS

You’ve got your tools, you’ve got your pantry list, now let’s use some of the most basic items from each list (a skillet, spatula and egg) to cook one of the most versatile things you’ll ever make: a fried egg. A simple fried egg is wonderfully versatile . Try serving it over French toast, salad or steak.

Everyday fried egg

1 serving | Hands-on time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 2 minutes

Equipment: Nonstick skillet, spatula, small ramekin or measuring cup

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or more as needed depending on the skillet size

1 large egg

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Place a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add just enough oil to form a thin layer on the bottom of the pan, swirling to coat.

Crack the egg into a small ramekin or measuring cup. This gives you a chance to remove any shell fragments and pour the egg directly into the skillet. Once the oil shimmers, gently add the egg to the skillet. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Allow the egg to cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, occasionally shaking the pan after the white has started to set. Be careful, as the egg might sputter a bit in the oil as it fries. If necessary, you can reduce the heat or move the skillet off the burner for a few moments.

For sunny-side-up fried eggs with a runny yolk, use a spatula to remove them from the heat when the edges are brown and crisp, and the whites have set on top.

For an over-easy egg, gently flip the egg and cook for an additional 30 seconds before removing from the skillet.

WANT TO KICK THINGS UP A NOTCH?

For a slightly softer consistency, add a couple of teaspoons of water to the pan along with the egg, cover, and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute. The steam will lightly set the egg on top – a foolproof way to ensure the egg white will be completely cooked.

Grate some fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano or cheddar cheese on top of the egg and make it the centerpiece of a breakfast sandwich with toast, a bagel or an English muffin. Just about any hard cheese would pair well.

Top your egg with a dash of your favorite hot sauce or a dollop of harissa.

Sprinkle a spice blend on your egg, such as herbes de Provence or za’atar. Or try paprika or a fruity ground red pepper instead of black pepper.

Serve the egg on slices of ripe avocado.

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Skilled in skillets: Dentist’s hobby forged in cast iron history

ELLWOOD CITY — Dentist Dr. Kurt Dorer likes to clean more than just teeth.

“Iron skillets are just fun for me. I clean and season them, and it is satisfying to bring them to their best condition,” he said recently. “I take before and after pictures and it is often hard to believe it is the same pan. It gives me something to do at night; it keeps me out of trouble.”

Dorer’s interest began about four years ago when the antique lover came across some information about iron skillets on Facebook and became hooked after some further research.

His interest is the complete deal from collecting, cleaning and cooking to buying and selling. He has picked up a lot of information about iron cookware, Dutch ovens, corn muffin pans and grills and is eager to share it.

“I love to talk about cast iron and share what knowledge I have,” Dorer said. “A man stopped in for a skillet, and we ended up talking for 40 minutes.”

Recently some of Dorer’s skillets that needed his tender loving care were stored outside and frozen as he waited for the weather to get warmer so he could begin cleaning and seasoning again.

“To really clean and season them is time consuming. I clean a $8 skillet as diligently as I do a $100 skillet,” Dorer said.

After cleaning, Dorer seasons the skillet by rubbing the inside with Crisco and putting it in the oven at 500 degrees for one hour. He repeats this three times. Dorer said there are many other oils and fats that people use.

“My kids hate it when I’m seasoning the skillets because it stinks up the house,” he said.

Skillets can be cleaned with lye if they don’t have rust. People often make the mistake of throwing ironware away because it is rusty, but rust can be removed by electrolysis and the internet has complete information on using this method, Dorer said.

Since some trash the skillets, people can go to junk yards, find them and buy them.

Dorer said the older ironware is smoother than the new and they are so smooth that nothing sticks. The ones from Asia are heavier and the cooking surface isn’t as smooth, he said.

The Lodge Co. of South Pittsburg, Tenn.,  founded in 1896, is the only American company manufacturing iron skillets.

“I have skillets for collectors and skillets for people to use. I have many skillets at $30 or less and people can buy a good old cast iron skillet that is better and cheaper than the new ones,” Dorer said. “When cooking with iron it is best to cook low and slow.”

Dorer once bought 89 skillets at the same time. When a collector died his daughter sold them. Dorer sells the skillets on eBay and at other local markets because the cookware is heavy and expensive to mail.

Cast iron has always been popular with campers, but now iron is becoming popular in homes again. Dorer said it is back to the good old days with cooking shows using them. Even Rachel Ray has a line of cast iron products.

The products of Griswold Manufacturing of Erie (1865-1957) are sought after and some are collectible.

“Recently a 13-inch Griswold went for $800 on eBay. Not many of the 13-inch skillets were produced, 13 is believed to be unlucky, so they are very scarce and can go as high as $2,500 to $3,200,” Dorer said.

Dorer enjoys all antiques, but his favorite to collect are railroad items such as lanterns, locks and keys, but no paper items.

In May, Dorer and his wife, the former M.J. Seidel, are reopening Condition Mint Gallery, at a new location at 400 Lawrence Ave., selling general antiques and skillets on Thursdays through Sundays.

For many years, M.J. owned Condition Mint Gallery on Spring Avenue and moved to Fifth Street before closing. Dorer said they have an enormous amount of antiques in storage and are excited to be opening the store.

At one time, they owned the Ellwood Station doughnut shop at the current location of Carla’s Diner.

“When the kids were young I would make the donuts. It was fun and I liked dipping them and coating them with sprinkles,” Dorer said. “Because I’m a dentist, people said I was generating business, but I didn’t have any patients in Ellwood City at that time.”

Dorer has a dental office in Aliquippa and also took over Dr. Tony DiBiagio’s office in Ellwood City when he retired. M.J. is a dental hygienist. The couple live in Ellwood City, and they have three grown children.

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Hints from Heloise: Quick dessert; cleaning skillets

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Second antique shop opens in Shepherd



Vintage Village Antique opened its doors at the corner of 2nd Street and West Wright Avenue in Shepherd last week, the second antique store in the village for owner Tammy Whitmer.

“I’ve always liked buying and selling stuff,” she said. “I did want to open a resale store in my life. The opportunity presented itself, so I jumped right in.”

The new store occupies the old hardware store that closed last year. It’s the only building that survived the block fire of 2015.

“I thought this would be an excellent building for an antique store,” Whitmer said. “It has a warmer feeling to it, along with authentic tin ceilings. It’s also one of the original store fronts of the community.”

The new store features repurposed furniture and original antiques. There is also a booth with a wall of cast-iron skillets. Every vender brings their own flavor to the store. While there is a bit of a different set of offerings and booths than the other store, there’s also more of the same.

“I do have vendors that rented additional space in this store while still in the other store,” she said. “There was a waiting list of venders there, so they were the next in line.”

Bob Mooradian of Mt. Pleasant was on the waiting list and jumped at the chance to get into the store when he was called about an opening. He’s been collecting antiques for decades, and now he has his own booth for the first time.

“I don’t think Mt. Pleasant has any antique shops anymore,” he said. “Now Shepherd has two of them, so I’m just glad to be a part of this.”

Michelle Davidson also runs a booth in the store, while working there during the week. She helped Whitmer organize an empty building into the warehouse it is today.

“My husband and I support the growth of Shepherd,” she said. “We are excited to have a new, fun business filling one of the empty buildings.”

While most of the store is claimed, Whitmer is still seeking antique and vintage collectible dealers. Rental space is $1.25 per square foot plus a 10 percent commission. There are 110 and 66 square foot spaces available for rent.

“I thought it was a good opportunity to bring more foot traffic to downtown,” she said. “There’s more to Shepherd than what’s by the 127 off-ramp and the Maple Syrup Festival.”

The grand opening for the store is set for next month.

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10 Quintessential Cheap Eats Dishes in NYC – Eater NY


Every city has its “don’t-miss” dishes that serve to define it, and New York is no exception. In fact, we have more than any other, especially on the affordable end. Following are 10 dishes that one must try to fully understand the contemporary cheap eats foodscape here. If nothing else, they show how many nationalities and cultural groups have contributed to the city’s cuisine.

For every dish, a single source in suggested. This is exceedingly arbitrary, but each of these evocations are guaranteed very good.

Doubles (Trinidadian)


Priced at a dollar or two apiece, doubles are one of the most tasty, nourishing, and cheap dishes around. One is a snack; two is a meal. A doubles consists of a pair of puffy flatbreads loosely laid around a chickpea curry, which is then garnished with two sauces: one sweet, the other fiery.

A A Bake Doubles, 481 Nostrand Ave., between Fulton and Macon streets, Bedford-Stuyvesant

Frankfurter (German)


The frank is a slender beef sausage first brought here by German immigrants, and introduced as beach food at Coney Island. From there it went to carts, sporting events, and small fast food establishments. No better place to get one than our only remaining Lower East Side German-Jewish delicatessen, where frankfurters sizzle in the window and the proper condiments remain grainy mustard and sauerkraut.

Katz’s Delicatessen, 205 E. Houston St., at the corner of Ludlow Street, Lower East Side

Fried chicken (African-American)


Illustration by Jordan Sondler

New York City’s most fundamental style of fried chicken was brought to the city by African-Americans in the 1920s from the American South, principally Georgia and the Carolinas. Their method involved a light dusting of seasoned flour and frying in cast iron skillets till crispness was achieved. Harlem, Fort Greene, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and southeastern Queens are famous for this kind of chicken.

Charles Pan Fried Chicken, 2461 Frederick Douglass Blvd., between 131st and 132nd streets, Harlem


Slice of pizza (Italian)

Neighborhood pizzerias, or places with stacked ovens, spread across every neighborhood in the 1950s and 1960s, allowing the pies to be baked and reheated at a variety of temperatures, spawning a new era of pizza making. Like hatchlings learning to follow their mother, New Yorkers generally bond with the first neighborhood slice they try, and then cherish it forever.

Espresso Pizzeria, 9403 Fifth Ave., at 94th Street, Bay Ridge

Samosa (Indian)


This geometrically distinguished hand pie, eaten all over India and other parts of the South Asian subcontinent, comes stuffed with potatoes and peas, or with ground meat or poultry. Any way you look at it, a samosa dipped in raita, green cilantro and mint chutney, or brown sweet tamarind sauce is a wonderful snack, while two or three represent an entire meal.

Al Naimat, 37-03 74th St., between Roosevelt and 37th avenues, Jackson Heights

Arepa (Venezuelan and Colombian)


Only over the last decade have arepas become a prominent fast food option here, in the East Village, Washington Heights and Inwood, and all over Queens. The name refers to a corn cake that is often split and stuffed with chicken and avocado salad, black beans and cheese, roast pork, and more.

Cachapas y Mas, 107 Dyckman St., between Post and Nagle avenues, Inwood

Clam chowder (Yankee)


Here we divvy our dish into two subcategories: Do you want white or red clam chowder? White is of Yankee origin, originally English with strong Native-American and French influences. Especially popular in New England, the creamy version is often flavored with bacon and onions, and thickened with potatoes and cream.

Grand Central Oyster Bar, Grand Central Terminal, Lower Level, 89 E. 42nd St., at Park Avenue, Grand Central

The red version is often called Manhattan clam chowder, but probably originated in Brooklyn among Italian-Americans from Sicily and Apulia, or so its pungent seasoning and tomato base might suggest. Whichever chowder you choose, the sharp taste of clams are in the forefront.

Randazzo’s Clam Bar, 2017 Emmons Ave., between Ocean Avenue and East 21st Street, Sheepshead Bay

Falafel sandwich (Middle Eastern)


The falafel sandwich was popularized among students, hippies, and bohemians in the 1970s, and from that point there was no stopping it. Now innumerable renditions are available, in wraps or bowls, on platters, or in the traditional pocket pita sandwich. Refuge for vegetarians, but also delightful to meat eaters, it is composed of ground and extensively seasoned chickpeas fried into a ball.

Mamoun’s, 119 MacDougal St., between Minetta Lane and West 3rd Street, Greenwich Village

Char siu bao (Chinese)


Puffy, chewy, and steamed, stark white bao are shaped like a flattened ball, sometimes with a pucker on top. Take a bite and out oozes a red pork filling. Some like it sweeter, some like it more savory, but everyone agrees that bigger is better. The bao’s origin is Cantonese, and the leavening is provided by both yeast and baking powder, accounting for the unique texture.

Hop Shing, 9 Chatham Sq., between Doyers and Mott streets, Chinatown

Tamale (Mexican)


This portable meal wrapped in a corn husk (or occasionally, in a banana leaf) is usually not the province of taquerias, except on weekends. During the week, it is often sold by the people who make them out of shopping carts planted near transportation centers. A good place to look is the Port Authority or near the corner of 145th Street and Broadway. Or buy from a cart that follows a predictable schedule, as does this one.

Tamale cart, in front of Myrtle/Wyckoff subway station, at Myrtle and Wyckoff avenues, Bushwick

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