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Food

Vermouth Maker’s Touch of Glass

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Bianca Miraglia, tired of mass-produced vermouth, wanted to bring something fresh, all-natural and stubbornly idealist to the bar. She started Uncouth Vermouth, which recently opened in a former billiards hall in Red Hook and is set to add a tasting room this summer.

Miraglia, 30, is a one-woman vermouth-making machine: She forages for many of her ingredients, only uses local products and refuses financial assistance.

She spends 12 or more hours a day working on her fortified wine creations, infused with a variety of seasonal, locally sourced flavors ranging from beets and squash to chili and lavender.

Uncouth Vermouth only produces a few hundred cases of product every year – and that’s how Miraglia likes it.

Meet Queens’ ‘Qustodian’

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Jeff Orlick gives Jackson Heights food tours under the moniker Jeffrey Tastes. He also has a second alter ego: The Queens Qustodian.

He’s less a superhero than a one-man cleanup crew armed with a box cutter. His target: Illegal street signs, among other urban blemishes.

Orlick patrols the neighborhood with a can-do spirit that’s both nervy and nonchalant. He’ll use a car jack to break the lock on a long-abandoned bike chain. He’ll slap “you park like an a—–e” stickers on cars with rears jutting out into the street. Or he’ll shimmy up a highway sign to cut down illegally posted ads.

As the Queens Qustodian, he wears a one-piece jumpsuit and a hat customized by the graffiti crew behind the olf Five Pointz graffiti Mecca in Long Island City. When he’s not giving tasting tours, curating the Viva La Comida food festival or cleaning up the borough, Orlick works a late shift in the control room at CBS.

Kosher Soup Kitchen Struggles

Monday, April 7th, 2014

On a recent chilly afternoon in Queens, two women shivered in a line of about 50 people that trailed out the door of Masbia, a kosher food pantry and soup kitchen.

The first woman, from Manhattan, wore baggy pants. The other, from Queens, was clad in a long, draping skirt.

Their outfits signaled differences in how they interpreted proper Jewish dress for religious women, but both were there for the same reason: They needed kosher groceries, which are more expensive than average, as they try to live on less since food stamp reductions last November.

“When food stamps are cut, it’s hard to buy kosher,” said one of the women, Debbie Greenbaum of Queens.

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Keeping Kosher, via Colombia

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Every morning, when Ruben Diaz arrives at the soup kitchen where he has worked as the head chef since January 2013, he is not allowed to turn on the oven.

“I feel strange,” Diaz said. “It’s a little bit hard.”

Diaz, the head chef at Masbia, the most robust kosher soup kitchen network in New York, is not Jewish and must wait for his supervisor to turn it on for him.

It’s one of several religious rules Diaz follows as he prepares 500 meals a day for a mixed community that will eat at the soup kitchen later in the evening. Diaz also cannot crack his own eggs or check vegetables for bugs, which are not kosher.

Masbia is one of several food pantries and soup kitchens in New York that is seeing more clients ever since food stamps cuts went into effect in November.

“Sometimes we don’t have enough money to buy chicken. Sometimes we don’t have enough money to buy produce,” Diaz said. “These are real problems.”

Diaz, 28, came to New York about 10 years ago for a better life.

He started as a waiter for Masbia in 2006 and worked his way up. The organization funded Diaz’s kosher cooking classes at a local Borough Park culinary school.

He grew up Catholic and said he didn’t know many Jews in his hometown of Bogota, Colombia. As for kosher rules, he knew just that Jews didn’t eat pork or shellfish.

“I didn’t know there was kosher and not kosher. For me, food was food,” he said.

“Now some people tell me, ‘you’re more Jewish than me’ because I know all the rules.”

 

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Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

East Meets East Village In Candy

Monday, January 13th, 2014

AudioFiles: Pastures of Plenty

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Meals on Wheels for Homeless

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

A Cronut as Sweet By Any Name

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013