Charcoal broiled hot dogs; fried bologna sandwiches; loganberry – three reasons we all look forward to summer on the Niagara Frontier. Certainly I'm one of that hungry number and I indulge frequently, as often as good sense and calorie counts will allow, anyway.
@Body copy rag:But once in a while, it's fun to deviate from habit and taste something different. Here are some interesting foods popping up more often these days:
Kimchi: These fermented vegetables have been a staple of Korean cuisine for at least a thousand years. The condiment has been around here for some time and is readily available in Korean restaurants in the area.
Kimchi is usually a mixture of pickled cabbage, carrots, radishes and/or cucumbers. It is highly seasoned, piquant and often spicy/hot. What makes it worthy of mention is that it is beginning to turn up in other types of restaurants.
At Cantina Loco (191 Allen St.), the Koreatown Taco has become a best-seller. Talk about fusion – this is a mixture of short ribs, spicy sauce and kimchi enfolded in a taco. (It has been popular at L.A. and New York City food trucks for years.)
I also saw kimchi featured in a beef sandwich at Square One Sandwiches, operating out of a classic airstream camper in the newly opened (and wonderful) Larkin Square (Seneca and Swan streets). I loved it, but when I went back another day to have another, the sandwich was no longer on the menu. Let's hope it returns.
Lobster rolls: Did the Pilgrims eat lobster rolls? If they were smart they did. This New England mainstay has found its way to our neck of the woods. Nothing could be simpler, and simplicity is often the hallmark of very fine food: Make a lobster salad and tuck it into a good bun. Voila!
But like with most simple food, it's not that simple: A lot of lobster and very little, very good mayonnaise is what you're looking for, and watch the bun – it should look like a hot dog roll but be sliced vertically, not crosswise, making a neat little pocket for the salad. And it should not be too bread-y, either. An absolutely vital thing.
I had a lobster roll that met those specifications the other day at the newly opened Liberty Hound restaurant in the Naval Park, and they are available elsewhere, too, including at Hayes Seafood House, 8900 Main St., Clarence.
And, if you want to buy the New England-style rolls with the vertical cut for home use, you may have a problem finding them. Try Wegmans.
Iceberg lettuce: Maybe I should call this "everything old is new again," because once, not so long ago, iceberg was the only lettuce you ever saw in a Western New York restaurant. Pale green, in teeny tiny shreds mixed with equally unappetizing shreds of red cabbage and carrots. No wonder diners and cooks began to prefer dark lettuces and mesclun instead.
But now iceberg is making a comeback, and the way it tastes best is cut in a wedges with a highly seasoned creamy dressing atop. The wedge shape is important because that's the way iceberg's crispness is preserved. Crispness is its main (and probably) only asset – the seasoned dressing is necessary because iceberg lettuce really doesn't taste. But it is refreshing.
Look for hearts of lettuce salad or a wedge salad in restaurants that specialize in steaks and burgers.
And crunch crunch away.
Send your questions and comments about dining out to Janice Okun at firstname.lastname@example.org.