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A Reason to Kiss the Sea: Montauk Pearl Oysters

Our VideosBy Liza de Guia on Aug 5, 2012
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“I’m a dreamer. I’ve always been a dreamer, and I like to dream. And this company, which we’ve started on a dream, is going to continue on a dreamy kind of path. It’s heaven. This is heaven.”

Meet Mike & Mike. Mike Martinsen and Mike Doall, the founders of Montauk Shellfish Company, a commercial fisherman and marine biologist who’ve teamed up to give back to their community and pay respect to the Earth by launching Montauk’s very first oyster farm: Montauk Pearls.

Montauk Pearls are new to the oyster scene, and the success of their operation has given the East End a new found interest in aquaculture. The two Mikes started their surface grow out system in 2009, leasing out a very unique and hard-to-come-by plot of private land in Lake Montauk.  A plot of land that just-so-happened to be underwater.   As the story goes, Mike M happened to be living on the property and asked his landlord if he could use it for farming.  Luckily, his landlord said yes.

“It just seems like things all just lined up, almost like fate.” – Mike Martinsen

Feedback has been so positive that demand for the “pearls” has already exceeded supply. Five-star chefs in New York and Long Island are featuring their oysters on menus, as are select seafood joints, like Maison Premiere in Brooklyn and The Lobster Place in Chelsea Market.  According to Mike D, “once you open one up, they basically sell themselves.”

And it’s true. I was sold from the first super briny slurp: a snappy crispness to the meat (and there’s a lot of it), and a finish that tasted of slightly-sweet, fresh watermelon rind. Really, it’s Mike M’s surf-related description that makes me smile most:

“It reminds me of being out in the ocean at sunset…a double-overhead swell, perfect off-shore winds, a little rainbow blowing off the back of the wave. It’s like that salt taste of the mist when you’re coming down a wave in through a barrel. It’s that sea taste: misty, salty, ocean bliss”. You really can’t say it better than that!

Enjoy their beautiful story, shot just a few weeks ago. And thanks for watching and supporting food. curated.! It’s been a slow start for me in 2012, but good things are happening again and, thankfully, I’m back on track. Happy slurping!

Wooly’s Ice: Pimping Out Mad Flavas of Taiwanese-Style Shaved Ice

Our VideosBy Liza de Guia on May 17, 2012
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“In my head, I just know that if our business failed, it’s not because of the product, it’s definitely because of our business acumen – that’s how much I believe in this product.”

Meet Danny Che, David Sat and Kenneth Sa, the founders and owners of Wooly’s Ice, a Taiwanese-style shaved ice food cart based in New York City’s South Street Seaport. This is a story that doesn’t need much of an introduction. I’ll let the video just speak for itself! Just go ahead, sit back and enjoy the silly seriousness of it all.

Wooly’s Ice won Best Dessert at the 2011 Vendy Awards in New York City. And if you’re heading to The Great GoogaMooga Food Festival in Prospect Park this weekend, be on the lookout for the gang of cousins. I hear they’ve got some nice new threads on showcase.  Plus, summer is right around the corner too! So, if you’re smart, and need something uniquely textured, cool, healthy AND refreshing, you’ll hunt these “ballers” down. I recommend trying an overflowing cup of their new mango-flavored ice with sea salt leche syrup and freshly sliced mangoes. It’s dope.

Thanks for watching food. curated.! Happy brain freeze!

Kasadela Izakaya: The House That Chicken Wings Built

Our VideosBy Liza de Guia on May 15, 2012
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“We wanted to be known as a sake bar more than a chicken wing place; but, somehow now, people from all over the world come just for our chicken wings.” 

Meet Azuki Yamashita, the owner of Kasadela Izakaya in NYC’s East Village, the place to go for an “addicting” platter of Tebasaki, a very specific style of umami-infused Japanese fried chicken wings. When Azuki first moved to the U.S., she was very surprised that many Americans thought Japanese people mostly ate sushi, ramen and shabu-shabu. She explained that in her culture, those foods were usually reserved for special occasions, which is why she felt compelled to expose New Yorkers to real, everyday Japanese food, the kind of food she grew up on. So, in 2005, she came on board to manage Kasadela, a newly-opened, authentic, casual, Japanese home-cooking establishment, where the food was as important as the drinks.

But, it was a hard sell. Back then, it was unfamiliar food. People were tentative to try it. The restaurant wasn’t doing well financially; they knew they needed something special on the menu to draw in customers. But what could that one thing be?

Well…believe it or not, as always, a mom saved the day. The original owner’s mom had the brilliant idea to introduce Tebasaki to Americans, thinking that no one could resist the flavor of her very own Nagoya-style chicken wings recipe. True home-cooking! And since then, it’s been bringing in repeat local customers, fried chicken connoisseurs, and Japanese clientele into their doors just for the taste of it. Funny enough, Azuki, who became the new owner in 2009, and Stanley, the bartender, love talking about the instant effect of Tebasaki on diners: that as soon as the plate hits the table, everyone goes silent. Customers temporarily enter this “transcendental state” of meditation and focus on the chicken wings – a reaction that always makes them laugh. So, get on it and enjoy the video already!

Now, I might be new to Tebasaki, but the feeling of fried chicken satisfaction I felt, when I first ate them, won’t get old. I was introduced to Kasadela by my friend Tiffany who helped curate the vendors at this year’s GoogaMooga festival. GoogaMooga will be showcasing Kasadela’s Tebasaki wings at their food festival this weekend. I hope you seek them out!

Thanks for watching food. curated.! Happy Eating!

Big Dipper Baby Food: Developing Good Palates at an Early Age

Our VideosBy Liza de Guia on Mar 21, 2012
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“Raising kids is really hard work, and if we can make it a little easier for parents to feed their babies better, then I think we’re doing the right thing.”

Meet Claire Hoyt, the founder, CEO and mom behind Big Dipper Baby Food, an artisan baby food company based in San Francisco. Claire’s got big dreams, big dreams that could benefit babies and parents all over the country. She believes all babies have the right to healthier, more seasonal, more local, better tasting baby food. She also believes that good palate development can start at an early age, and last a lifetime  (just ask her about her own son!).

All in all, Big Dipper Baby Food is Claire’s mission to make a difference, one little mouthful at a time. Enjoy her story!

The Next Big Small Brand Event is March 27th at BAM in Brooklyn. This is the last of 6 finalist videos I’m making for the contest. Come out and support small food artisans!

Thanks for watching food. curated.! Happy Eating!

Planet Fuel: Organic Juices That Empower Kids to Make a Difference

Our VideosBy Liza de Guia on Mar 20, 2012
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“You know, for us, it was never really an option to buy our kids products, like Capri Sun, that we felt were really loaded down with sugars and unnatural ingredients…”

Meet Amy & Tom Barnouw, the co-founders of Planet Fuel, an organic fruit juice company based in Fairfield, Connecticut. Tom and Amy are parents. Parents to three adorable little kids. They met out on the West Coast, are both lovers of nature and big supporters of environmental issues – she used to even work for environmental non-profits as a career before she became a mom. Planet Fuel, you could say, is their 4th baby, a company born out of the frustration of raising kids without enough readily available natural juice options in the marketplace.

Enjoy their story!

Planet Fuel is available in close to 70 stores throughout Connecticut and New Jersey, to purchase Planet Fuel for for more information, click here.

The Next Big Small Brand Event is March 27th at BAM in Brooklyn. This is the 5th of 6 finalist videos I’m making for the contest. Come out and support small food artisans!

Thanks for watching food. curated.! Happy Drinking!