Jon Hochstat

F4tF: The End of an Era

Jon Hochstat has been a friend of Hidden Track since the blog’s early days. At first he provided news tips and cross-promotion from his blogging days at Runaway Dinosaur. Whenever we spoke with Jon, he always had these interesting stories about his food adventures and in 2009 we finally convinced him to join the HT team to share some of these tales with our readers. Today Jon moves on from the column, but not from our team as we know he’ll be back to tell us about his travels and adventures from time to time.

Well folks after two and a half years and 77 Friday for the Foodies postings, I have decided it is time to step aside from writing this column.

The good news is that Friday for the Foodies will continue later this summer and will be in good hands. I know the person taking over for me will do a phenomenal job and hopefully take the column in a new direction with their own signature voice and style. I’ll leave the announcement of my successor up to Scotty B though. This will be my last posting for now. I plan on taking some time to pursue a dream because life is too short not to go for it. Thanks to all of my loyal readers over the last two and a half years. The feedback, comments and suggestions were greatly appreciated.

But before I go I wanted to share some of the food pictures I took last weekend when I was in Chicago for the 4th of July, it’s the least I can do.

On Monday, July 4th, my friends and I went to The Purple Pig located at 500 North Michigan Avenue for a late afternoon snack. The restaurant came highly recommended by a friend of a friend who lives in Chicago. Below are a few of the items we had. Highly recommended for a hungry carnivorous group. READ ON to see the photos from Jon’s trip…

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F4tF: Chicago on the Fourth of July

First off, I want to wish everyone out there a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July.  For everyone up at Watkins Glen for Superball IX, have a blast and bring back some great stories!

As for me, I will be in the windy city, hanging with some friends and knocking a couple of things off of my bucket list.

More on Wrigley field in a bit.  The main reason for my visit to Chicago this time is to have dinner at Alinea. For those who don’t know, Alinea was named best restaurant in North America (for the second straight year) and 6th best restaurant in the world in the S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2011 (up one from #7 in 2010).  Dining at Alinea is one of the items on my bucket list that I will be crossing off on this trip.

Here is what S. Pellegrino had to say about Alinea:

Alinea represents one of the most radical re-imaginings of fine food by any chef in American history and has propelled Grant Achatz to chef superstardom.

Everything about his restaurant is unique, from the deconstructed food, unfamiliar flavour combinations and theatre to the tableware, with dishes served in and on all manner of implements: test tubes, cylinders, multi-layered bowls that come apart. It’s boundary-shifting stuff.

I had a chance last year to dine at Alinea and was unable to due to logistics and timing, no way I was passing up the chance a second time! READ ON for more on Jon’s trip…

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Friday For the Foodies: Sunnyside Meat Market / Ridgewood Pork Store

Recently, I read about a couple of stores in Queens owned by the same people that make their own salamis and sausages.  Last Saturday and this past Monday I had the chance to check them both out. The first of these two stores is the Sunnyside Meat Market.

The Sunnyside Meat Market is located at 4310 43rd St which is just north of Queens Boulevard. I took the 7 train, exited at 40th street and made my way over there.  If you don’t know about this store, you should. It is the sister store to the Ridgewood Pork Store in Middle Village Queens (located at 516 Seneca Avenue) where they make salamis and sausages from scratch. There is not enough room to make the cured meats in Sunnyside so everything is made at Ridgewood and brought over. The staff at both stores are friendly, welcoming and will take the time to explain to you (and give you tastes) of anything they make. This is European quality meats at non-Manhattan prices.

READ ON for more about these unique stores in Queens offering freshly made sausages and salamis…

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F4tF: Hahm Ji Bach, Authentic Korean in “Eating Alley” Flushing, Queens

One of the things about New York City being one of the great food cities of the world is that if you get OUT of Manhattan and head to different neighborhoods to try the local ethnic foods, you get the real deal! Recently I had the pleasure to meet an old friend from high school who took me to a Korean restaurant in Flushing where the food and service were both outstanding. The place we went to was Hahm Ji Bach. For the record there are two Hahm Ji Bach’s. My friend informed me that there is the original on Northern Boulevard and the one she took me to which is the second one opened by the original owner’s brother. The menus are similar but the one we went to is the much more popular of the two.

On my first visit it was just me and my friend who speaks fluent Korean. As this trip was just her and I, we opted for just some pork and some different types of lettuce leaves for a bo ssam. I was then told there would be a ton of food coming (no matter what we ordered, more on that shortly). I found out from my friend that the goal of the level of service given is to make everyone happy and “at home” within five minutes of arriving. The waitress and my friend had a nice conversation with some great back and forth banter, a few questions and a lot of smiles and laughs. Once they finished talking, all I was told was “we’re all set, hope you brought your appetite.”

One of the things that Hahm Ji Bach does to make you feel “at home” is to send out a lot of small appetizer plates as a courtesy.  This was our table:

READ ON for more of this week’s Fridays For the Foodies…

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F4tF: Key West Eating and Drinking Part 2

Last week I told you about a couple of the places I hit (and enjoyed) on my recent trip to Key West in the posting F4tF: Key West Eating and Drinking. This week I am sharing some other places I checked out both in Key West and on the drive home up Route 1 back to reality.

On one of my daytime walks down Duval St I came across a shop Cocktails, Celebrating the Art of the Drink! seems the mixologist thing has made it all the way down to Key West as well.

READ ON for more on Jon’s trip to Key West…

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F4tF: Key West Eating and Drinking

Last week, I found myself in Key West, FL visiting an old chef friend, spending some time networking and mostly enjoying the general slow pace of life that the Southernmost City in the Continental U.S. can offer. I had the chance to check out a couple of interesting places while I was there. One was a cool burrito place, the other was a new craft beer bar.

When I arrived in Key West, I spent some time with my chef friend’s son, who is also a chef and a good friend. After he asked if I was hungry and I told him I was, he told me that he was headed to one of his favorite off the beaten path – as in non-touristy – places in Key  West, BadBoy Burrito.

I had never heard of them before he took me.  Not in any trade magazines, food blogs, Twitter or anything. The first thing you notice when you walk in is that there is no fancy menu, no gimmicky names for the burritos, just a list of the veggies and meats, sauces/salsas and toppings. The system is simple:  one meat, one sauce or salsa, three toppings.

READ ON for more on Jon’s experience down in Key West…

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F4tF: Breakfast at Ben’s Chili Bowl in Washington D.C.

Recently I was in Washington D.C. for a few days visiting some friends who I hadn’t seen in a while.  Apart from getting together with my D.C. area friends for some dining and drinking adventures, I had two places on my list of places that I wanted to go to by myself just to enjoy the experience.  One was the Dupont Circle Farmer’s market which I wrote up last week. The other place was Ben’s Chili Bowl.

If you have been to Washington D.C. but have never been to Ben’s Chili Bowl, you are missing out on one of the great food destinations in the USA and quite possibly the best Chili Dog you will ever have in your life. Ben’s is famous for their Chili Half-Smoke.  Here is the description of the Chili Half-Smoke from the Ben’s website menu page

Bill Cosby’s Original Chili Half-Smoke – $5.45
Our signature dish! Experience the Chili Half-Smoke, originally made famous by Ben’s in 1958 and a favorite of Mr. Cosby’s since the early 60’s. We put this 1/4lb. half pork and beef smoked sausage on a warm steamed bun and top it with mustard, onions and our spicy homemade chili sauce.  There are few culinary delights better at any price. Want it well done?  Have yours split and grilled on request.

It is hard not to find time to eat at Ben’s Chili Bowl as they have crazy hours (their description not mine)

Our Crazy Hours!

Monday thru Thursday
Breakfast from 6am – 10:45am
Main Menu from 10:45am – 2am

Breakfast from 6am – 10:45am
Main Menu from 10:45am – 4am

Breakfast from 7am – 10:45am
Main Menu from 10:45am – 4am

No Breakfast

Main Menu from 11am – 11pm

READ ON for more on Jon’s experience at Ben’s Chili Bowl…

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F4tF: The Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market

Last weekend I was in Washington D.C. visiting some friends and staying in Dupont Circle area of town.  On Sunday morning I did something I hadn’t done in almost 10 years – visit the Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market.

If you love farmer’s markets and happen to be in Washington DC on a Sunday, you owe it to yourself to go.  Here is what their website has to say about the market:

The Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Market is located in the heart of one of Washington, DC’s most vibrant and diverse neighborhoods. Washingtonian magazine credits the market with “teaching Washingtonians to love their fruits and vegetables.” The Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times of London also named the market one of the top farmers’ markets in the country. During the peak season, there are more than 40 farmers offering fruits and vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, cheeses, fruit pies, breads, fresh pasta, cut flowers, potted plants, soaps and herbal products.

The market is open 8:30AM to 1:00PM April through December.  Per their website, the market is located at 20th St. NW between Massachusetts Ave. and Connecticut Ave. Click here for map. I got there early.

READ ON for the pictures I took that day…

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Friday For the Foodies – L.A. Adventure 2011 Pt 2: Cake & Ice Cream

Well here we are at the second posting from my recent trip to LA for vacation in early April.  Last week’s post, Friday For the Foodies – L.A. Adventure 2011 Pt 1: Hamburgers & Hot Dogs, was all about my trips to The Apple Pan, Umami Burger and Carney’s.  This week I thought I’d do the logical followup with this post describing some of the sweets I enjoyed on the trip.

First off, I did NOT eat at the three locations listed above all on the same day (really). READ ON for more about the sweet side of Los Angeles…

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