“Ultimately, I hope our customers have a great experience. I hope it cools them down. I hope it reminds them of their youth. And, most of all, I hope they avoid brain freeze…”
Meet Alex Rein, the founder and CEO of Kelvin’s Natural Slush Co., an adult-friendly frozen slush company founded two years ago in New York City. According to Alex, his slushes are far better than anything you can get at a local convenient store, featuring base flavors and pureed fruit mix-ins designed for mature taste buds. Basically, a pretty compelling reason to relive your childhood without the embarrassment of holding an actual 7-11 Slurpee cup. And in the heat of summer, there’s nothing more refreshing than these beautifully layered, icy drinks.
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“Because our industry is relatively small, we’ve developed a close relationship with a lot of different characters both on the buying side and the selling side, and there’s probably no better example than Saul Zabar. He’s definitely one of the last remaining members of the ‘old guard’. He’s a book of knowledge and kind of a historian of smoked fish.” -Adam Caslow, Vice President, ACME Smoked Fish
Meet Saul Zabar, the co-owner of Zabar’s, a famous specialty food shop on the Upper West Side of New York City. Over the decades, Zabar’s has developed a reputation for high quality product and service when it comes to smoked fish. Their smoked fish department is one of the busiest fish counters in the city, hand-slicing and selling thousands of pounds of smoked fish to loyal customers every week. It’s a reputation Zabar’s is very, very proud of; and Saul believes a lot of it has to do with his keen taste for smoked fish.
Not long ago, I had the rare opportunity to join Saul during his weekly visit to ACME Smoked Fish in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, to see how he hand-selects fish for his shop’s fish counter. ACME is Zabar’s main smoked fish supplier – sourcing, smoking, packaging and delivering over 90% of the store’s smoked fish. According to ACME, it’s a “family” tradition and a very special relationship that began over 50 years ago, a weekly visit that often comes with a basket of Zabar’s fresh bagels and rugelach. A tradition they are both sure will continue for years to come…
So, enjoy this special behind-the-scenes experience. You can think of it as: a little taste of history.
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“I don’t know anything else, no office job or anything like that, just fish. So, I fell into the fish.”
Meet Aftabudin Rayman and Peter Wojick, the fish smokers behind the hot-smoked fish division at ACME Smoked Fish in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. ACME Smoked Fish is the largest smoked fish house in the country, processing 6-8 million pounds of assorted fish for stores and seafood counters every year. According to Rayman, the head fish smoker, “to be successful at this job, you can’t look at it as just a job, an ordinary job”. To him, a successful fish smoker’s priority should be the fish, always the fish, that internal drive to achieve moist, smoky meat with a perfect golden hue everytime – not doing the job “to get an increase in pay”. And running a hot-smoked fish operation isn’t an easy task: working 10-12 hour days on your feet, constantly breathing in smoke, wheeling heavy racks of hanging fish over slippery floors. It’s physically demanding, which is why devotion like Rayman’s is hard to come by.
So come watch their story and discover the fascinating and delicate process of hot-smoking fish. It truly is a craft, a craft that takes passion, a certain “thoughtlessness” to it, and tens of years to master. Enjoy!
And for a real Brooklyn experience, stop by on Fish Fridays at ACME where they open up the smokehouse outlet to the local Greenpoint community for 5 hours to shop for freshly smoked seafood. You’ll get to meet the employees and mingle with loyal ACME customers who’ve been eating their product for decades. Here’s the address:
Acme Smoked Fish
30 Gem Street (Just off North 15th Street)
Greenpoint, New York
ACME Hot-Smoked Products to Lookout For
- Whitefish salad
- Kippered Salmon
- Sable (Alaskan Black Cod)
- Brook Trout
- Plain & Peppered Bluefish
- Plain & Peppered Mackerel
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“The flavor of our burger is better than most burgers for several reasons: not just because of our blend of meat, or the fact that we cook them on a cast iron, but our fat content is pretty high too.”
In celebration of summertime food, come meet Chef Jeremy Spector of The Brindle Room in Manhattan’s East Village, a cozy, charming, neighborhood restaurant that sears up quite possibly, the best tasting burger in New York City.
Chef Jeremy walked me through the design of The Brindle Room burger, explaining in detail what makes them so sought after and so terribly addicting. For me, it’s all about the meat. There’s something special about the beef in this burger. You can taste it in every bite, and feel the flavor develop with every chew. It’s a quality that Jeremy likens to “a fine cheese or good wine” – a special burger blend, butchered just for the restaurant, that’s part fresh meat, part aged meat, and part dangerously delicious deckle fat. Truly, a burger for meat lovers. Truly, something that you need to try and devour very, very soon. Trust me. I love a good burger.
The Brindle Room
277 East 10th Street
New York, NY 10009
**FYI – this burger is still a little under the radar. So get yourself there now, before everyone finds out!
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