Best Of :: Food & Drink
When you order Vietnamese coffee at Pho 79, the waiter warns you that it's strong. When he brings it to the table, he warns you again that the house makes it powerful, and to be careful. And after waiting for the peaceful drip-drip-drip of the tin filter to finish and the hot coffee to bleed down through the ice to the layer of sweetened, condensed milk on the bottom of the glass, you taste it and know that the waiter had only your best interests in mind. This stuff is like drinking sweet, coffee-flavored crack: It's addictive, it's cheap, and one glass will pin your eyelids back to the top of your head for twelve hours. So take your waiter's advice and be careful: This stuff ain't for amateurs.
When you order oxtail at Caribbean Cuisine Plus, there's no question what you're eating. This is the southernmost edible portion of any animal, and with a little Tinker Toy ingenuity and some toothpicks, the big, rough-cut chunks sitting on your plate could probably be reassembled back into a semblance of a tail without too much difficulty. Served in a smoky, greasy, deeply flavorful black sauce powerful enough to dirty up a whole mountain of white rice, this oxtail is a wonderful example of the benefits of nose-to-tail eating. Spoiled Americans, we've become used to consuming nothing but the best of any animal used for food -- which means we've missed out on the culinary joys of peasant eating. But we'll let the culinary philosophers argue over the societal and spiritual payback of slumming it among the so-called peasant cuisines. If anyone wants our opinion on the matter, we'll be down at Caribbean Cuisine Plus having a couple of meat pies, maybe a little curried goat, and some oxtail over rice.