A Good Forkful of Fennel and Sprouts
Our duties to the feral young ensure that we rarely check out happening restaurants at the height of their heat, but every once in a great while, we find ourselves inexplicably in with the in crowd, as was the case last Friday when the loan of a car helped us overcome the transportation-related inertia that had kept us from darkening the door of The Good Fork, a recently-opened Red Hook eatery owned by our friends, Ben and Sohui. Let me tell you, these guys are something else. Last year they staged a full-length pirate play in their backyard, and the previous October, they turned the yard into an ersatz Hofbrauhaus, complete w/ Extreme Apple Bobbing, a hotly anticipated potato carving contest, beer, kraut and sausages galore. (In addition to my own offspring, I was escorting an unrelated six-year-old, who bypassed the good grub, feeding exclusively on marshmallows inserted into hot dog buns, while I mulled over how her parents' would have reacted, had they known I'd be spiriting her to the nether regions of Red Hook, after dark, on the bus.) (Perhaps some day a baby will come along to rain on Ben and Sohui's parade! It's a mitzvah!)
Okay, back to The Good Fork. Even if you have to take a plane to the subway to the B61 bus, you should get yourself there, but for cod's sake, make reservations if you want a table. They're reeling 'em in with their bare hands and deservedly so. I can't say enough good things about the food, the decor, and the appeal of opening a business half a block from home where you can commune with all your (childless) friends who've been hired to staff the joint. It gave me such a warm feeling to see Sohui's happy head tied up in a bandana in the kitchen (still attached to her body, of course, moving around) and Ben, swanning about the dining room he himself designed, clad in something that might have been the bottom half of his pirate costume. Even the children relished what they were served. I was particularly taken by the cakes - crab and molten, flourless chocolate - but their presentation was so beyond me, I decided to try my hand at ripping off a supporting player, instead. This slaw-like salad was probably plated to give back up to the crab cake, but dang, it were good!
My version was - surprise, surprise - sweeter, and also used totally different ingredients, but it got my friend Little MoMo all jacked up chez-nous a few nights ago, so at her request, I'm prepared to share my trade secrets with the unknown rabble.
Ayun's Good Forkful Salad-Slaw
Slice a bulb (or whatever you call that cardiac looking thing) of Fennel. You'll end up with 3 distinct shapes in your bowl:
* Slawlike ribbons
* Penny-sized circles you can string like beads, owing to a fetching central hole.
* & Feathery sprinkle-herbs (not too many of these though, or things will end up like the edge of the pond come pollen season.)
Wantonly festoon with a handful of brocolli sprouts (I'd never seen them before, but there they were at Met Foods, looking like something you'd expect to see unfurling from a Chia Pet. Given the chance, these babies will kick cancer to the curb, if the Poindexters over at Johns Hopkins are to be believed.)
Toast some sliced almonds, and sprinkle those over the proceedings, too.
Make yourself a nice little Asian-inspired dressing (I cribbed this one from my friend, Jesse, who cribbed it from a recipe published by his famous ex-employer, the one he ordered me never to name):
1/4 cup of rice wine vinegar
1/8 cup of sesame oil
1 tablespoons of fish sauce
1 minced shallot
pinch of salt
pinch of sugar
& a lively spritz or two of lime juice.
Dress up and you'll be good to go (to the Good Fork at your earliest convenience!)