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Sri Lankan Ambassador Dinner at Bownie Restaurant

Bownie Restaurant
A stack of idiappams with mutton curry, coconut chutney and Sri Lankan-style sambhar.

Just one short bus ride away from the bustling satellite Chinatown of Flushing, Queens is Bownie restaurant, a modest Sri Lankan eatery that has been owned and operated by Nanthini and Sri Kandharajah and their family for 11 years now.

While there are plenty of appetizing traditional Indian dishes on the menu, you’ll find that the Sri Lankan specialties really stand out. That night, dinner at Bownie was one in a continuing series of ambassador programs organized by Jeff Orlick, and Joseph Aranha of the Asian Arts and Cultural Alliance was our ambassador for the evening.  So, how exactly does an ambassador dinner work?  According to Jeff, this is what goes down: a guide (ambassador) “will order for the table and discuss what we are eating and why we are eating it. Not a classroom experience, but more of a familial gathering centered around the food.”

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Indonesian Food Bazaar at Masjid Al Hikmah

pilule on Flickr” href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/worldtotable/4806838639/”>sticky rice with meat filling

Braving the summer heat and crossing borough lines for the sake of some home cooked Indonesian food at the Masjid Al Hikmah bazaar, rx Talisa explores Queens cuisine and recaps our epic Indonesian eating adventure. – Veronica

Being a Greenpointer, I’m only a Pulaski bridge away from Queens: that mythical, magical place of delicious food that has somehow managed to evade my ever-growling stomach since I moved to New York almost five years go. Aside from a few bites here and there and some lovely home-cooked feasts courtesy of the Chan’s themselves in Long Island City, I’ve been without a proper introduction to Queens Cuisine—a source of distress for a grub-lover like myself.

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Soup Dumpling Secrets from Nan Xiang Dumpling House

Soup dumplings

Shanghainese soup dumplings are a culinary phenomenon: a bite of pork and a spoonful of soup all within a neatly pleated wheat wrapper.  You’re probably curious: how does the soup get in there?  Over the years, I’ve come up with a fair share of outlandish theories – at one point I was convinced the dumplings were injected with a soup-filled syringe. But all my conspiracy theories were finally laid to rest two weeks ago when the high priestess of Nan Xiang Dumpling House, Chef Huang Jian Ping (黃建萍), came over to make soup dumplings from scratch.  In anticipation for Asian Feastival, an epic culinary event in Queens on September 6th Labor Day Monday (check out asianfeastival.com for the complete rundown), we decided to put her off-site dumpling-making capabilities to the test and invited some friends over to witness her pork and dough sorcery.
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A Spicy and Tasty Sichuan Lunch

fish cooked with sichuan spices

Back from London and tired from bland British food, Hope had only one request when I asked her where she wanted to go out for lunch.  “I need some SPICE!”, she pleaded.  Somehow I managed to convince Hope and Davis to wake up early on a cold day and venture into the inner depths of Queens for a taste of Sichuan cuisine.

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Parisian Pastries from Cannelle Patisserie

I’m usually not big on sweets, but I can never turn down pastries and cakes from Cannelle Patisserie.  Here’s a little something I wrote for LIC Bites, a food column in a newsletter for my fellow condo residents in Long Island City, Queens:

If you don’t have time for a summer getaway, or you’ve just got a craving for something sweet, take a trip to Queens, where you will find that the pastries of Paris await you.  Cannelle Patisserie is a French bakery hidden deep within an unassuming mini-mall in Jackson Heights.  The inviting aromas of coffee, buttery puffed pastry and French baguettes will reel you in upon entering.  Inside you will find artfully decorated cakes behind the refrigerated display, shimmering tarts and quiches, and freshly baked pastries piled in woven baskets.

Cannelle radiates the energy of a lively neighborhood haunt. Packed at seemingly all hours of the day, the bakery appears to be a home away from home for a diverse group of customers, from an elderly quartet sipping coffee and enjoying sparse conversation to a father sharing a Croque Monsieur and soda for lunch with his son. With a humble burgundy awning and a window decorated with painted floral designs, Cannelle might look distinctly unlike the expensive bakeries you’ll find on the Upper East Side. However, do not expect anything less than the highest quality French fare.

Jean-Claude Perennou, the owner and pastry chef of Cannelle, is a master of flaky croissants, zesty lemon squares, and exquisitely moist Black Forest cake.  Previously the head pastry chef for the Waldorf Astoria, Perennou decided to stake out on his own to start Cannelle Patisserie.  Whenever I visit Cannelle to fulfill my need for sweet, Jean-Claude is usually working alongside his staff or behind the scenes in the kitchen; the intense love and dedication that goes into his pastries can be tasted in every crumb and flake of his breads and cakes. Thanks to Jean-Claude, the delicate art of French baking has become a familiar pleasure for many residents of Queens.


Jean-Claude Perennou, Pastry Chef and Proud Owner of Cannelle Patisserie

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