Happy Thanksgiving from Chef Mateo

As one of my most anticipated feast days next to my birthday and New Year’s, I can’t wait to start preparing Haitian turkey , mushroom rice, stuffed mirliton, macaroni au gratin, and all the trimmings. This holiday is about giving and sharing. I have been frequenting the Shake Shack on the UPW as of late, and I ordered tw shack burgers.

As I was enjoying the first one, I looked out the window and saw an elderly person going through the trash. I took the second burger, put it in a to-go bag, and handed it to him. I said, “Eat it while it’s hot.” He looked up at me, quite surprised, said thanks and went for it. I don’t feel as if this was some grand gesture. It was just a simple human thing to do at the time. It made me think about volunteering for the holidays.

So aside from enjoying cooking, spending time with family and friends, and giving thanks for all that we have, stop and think about doing one small gesture for your fellow man. Every action counts, no matter how small.

Shochu & Ramen on a November Day

The cold weather has me ramen and shochu (barley sweet potato or rice distillation – vodka-like) hunting, and the East Village is a breeding ground for this type of experience. I met my friends Larry and Steve over at Uminoie on third street, and was pleasantly taken care of. They offered flights, and even sold my favorite brand, Tori Kai. I usually add ume (plum) to my drink which intensifies as you reach the bottom. Lemon will also soften the sting out of some of the more austere styles available. I didn’t get to sample much food, but the kitchen smelled great.

Earlier in the day I hit a new ramen shop on 14th street and first avenue called Kambi. The place was neatly designed and the price was right, but some richness was lacking in the pork bone broth, although all the elements of the soup came together nicely. The gyoza was not pan fried correctly and overall I give the experience a six out of ten. With so much competition for ramen in the East Village (Momofuku, Setagaya, Ippudo, Rai Rai Ken, Men Kui Tei, etc.), they are going to have to step up their game.