Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Miss Favela, Williamsburg

I rarely venture into Brooklyn, and as far as I recall I've only been to Williamsburg only once before. Sad, isn't it? However, as it so happened T. was in town for a conference and was willing to drive the GPS-equipped rental car anywhere, so we racked our brains together trying to think of a new restaurant in an unfamiliar neighborhood.

In a flash of inspiration, I recalled a tip given to me months ago by a Brazilian acquaintance, who raved about the food and atmosphere at Miss Favela in Brooklyn. A Google searched ensued, and pretty soon we were stuck in Chinatown traffic en route to the restaurant, which was located just under the Williamsburg bridge.  

funky Miss Favela

For the unfamiliar, a favela is basically a shanty town in Brazil. In Rio, millions of people live atop hills in favelas. Although associated with drugs and gangs, nowadays they've become a mainstream attraction, so much so that a typical tourist activity in Rio is to take a guided favela tour. (Emphasis on "guided". Mind the flying bullets).

Miss Favela - one can just imagine the looks-conscious cariocas holding an annual beauty pageant to crown "Miss Favela" - evokes the look and feel of a typical favela with its funky, gritty and colorful surroundings. In the bathroom, I especially got a kick out of turning around and coming face-to-face with an ATM machine built into the wall, akin to a safe.(Dang, should've gotten a pic of that).

chopped beef brazilian style: beans, collard greens, banana and fried eggs

The food looks quite tasty, doesn't it? (For once, I have awesome food pictures thanks to T.'s fancy, complicated SLR camera). Miss Favela serves typical Brazilian fare, and the dishes taste as good as pictured, portions on the hearty side, and prices were moderate. Since I had already eaten a bit at home, I only opted for an open-faced omelette with sausages (not pictured), but check out the Picadinho A Carioca above.

brazilian beef jerky with fried yucca

I'm not quite sure what made me even consider Brazilian food, nor of my acquiantance whom I've been out of touch with for a while. Perhaps it was due to my travel plans to South America for the holidays, which were unfortunately aborted. So, trying out an authentic, unfancy Brazilian restaurant seemed like the next best thing. And after a visit to Miss Favela, I'd say I'm definitely on to something. Maybe I'll even withdraw $$ from the ATM next time.

For the full set of photos from Miss Favela Brazilian restaurant in Williamsburg, click here. Photos courtesy of T.E. Bakke. 

Miss Favela on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 19, 2010

Great Belgian Beer bars in NYC

After years of barely drinking any beer (and not having much liking for the watery light beers that were my default options), I've become obsessed with Belgian beers since last year. 

The catalyst for this transformation was my trip to Belgium, where my friend Luc introduced me to the wide variety of Belgian beer styles - lambic, geueze, dubbel, tripel, Flemish ales - culminating in the highlight of my week-long trip - a visit to St. Sixtus Abbey in Westvleteren, where the namesake delicious Trappist beers are brewed.  Quite a treat for this beer novice considering that the much-coveted Westvleteren 12 is hard to find even in Belgium. In New York City, forget about it. 

Anyway, a year has passed since that trip, and I've been tasting more Belgian beers either by buying them at the liquor store (Whole Foods Bowery is particularly outstanding), or at the Belgian beer bars/restaurants in NYC (The Belgian Room, Vol de Nuit, Petite Abeille, Resto) or at outstanding bars in general (The Ginger Man). If I see a Belgian beer I haven't tasted before, most likely it will be purchased on the spot or placed on the "must try" list. 

Whenever I talk to people and mention Belgian beers, quite a sizeable number of them have this concept of "Belgian beer" as the mass-produced InBev brews like Leffe, Hoegaarden, and Stella Artois. If that's what you like, then nothing wrong with that. However, especially in New York City there are many more brands available, being served at a ton of bars and restaurants, so here are a few recommendations  on where to find great Belgian beer in NYC.