Kate Dulin | A Continuous Lean.

NYC Institutions | Acme Smoked Fish

Aug 18th, 2013 | Categories: Food, Kate Dulin, New York City | by Kate Dulin


There’s something magical about a bagel and lox. A bite of crisp, chewy bagel and cream cheese draped with silky sheets of smoked salmon (and maybe some sliced tomato) provides one of the most satisfying flavor and texture combinations of all time. No wonder the sandwich has secured its place among legendary New York City foods like the pizza slice and pastrami on rye. Don’t get me wrong, I love a plain old  bagel and cream cheese, but it’s only ever improved by lox.

So naturally, in a city where lox can be found every few blocks, New Yorkers have a lot of opinions about where to get the best. The largest smoked fish factory in the country, Acme Smoked Fish was founded in Brooklyn in 1954 and has been family-owned for four generations. Acme supplies smoked and cured fish to some of the city’s favorite fish counters including Zabar’s, Barney Greengrass, and my go-to spot, which prefers to maintain some mystery about its purveyors. They also ship hundreds of thousands of of vacuum-sealed packages of fish around the country every year. Chances are high that if you’ve ever eaten smoked salmon, it came from Acme.

Smoked salmon rack

The Most Famous Ship that Didn’t Sink.

Mar 29th, 2013 | Categories: Americana, History, Kate Dulin | by Kate Dulin


Last month, CBS Sunday Morning did a piece on the history and dire current state of the SS United States, “the most famous ship that didn’t sink”. Even with that motto, the SS United States is relatively unknown by today largely because the popularity of jet travel made ocean liners unnecessary shortly after it first set sail. It remains obscure despite the fact that the S.S. United States still holds the record for the fastest ocean liner to cross the Atlantic. Obsolete almost from the minute the champagne bottle broke across her bow, the once great ship is now in danger of disappearing altogether.

First launched in 1952 after only two years of construction, the SS United States’s fanatical architect William Francis Gibbs had it built secretly, out of public view, on a dry dock in Newport News to strict U.S. Naval standards and his own obsessive guidelines. The glamorous ship had the capacity to hold 3,016 passengers, though it could be converted to carry 15,000 troops during wartime if the need arose. It was longer than the Titanic by 100 feet and faster by fifteen miles per hour, and completely fireproof on the interior (aside from a special fireproof mahogany used on the SS United States’s specially made Steinway pianos, no wood was used on the ship at all). Her famous passengers included John Wayne, Grace Kelly, Salvador Dalí, and John F. Kennedy. Seemingly every detail of the ship was meticulously planned and executed during construction to ensure that the SS United States would secure its place in history as the greatest passenger vessel of all time.


Caught in Time | Nom Wah Tea Parlor

Aug 30th, 2012 | Categories: Food, Kate Dulin | by Michael Williams

Dim sum is one of those things that I always want to eat, but rarely do. Chinese restaurants in New York City with dim sum are madhouses on weekend mornings (when dim sum is typically served in the States), and it’s best to go with a big group in order to maximize pushcart access and dumpling variety. But rallying a bunch of my hungover, bacon, egg, and cheese-craving friends for anything but an American-style brunch early on a Sunday morning is never an easy task.

Thankfully, a friend of mine recently recommended Nom Wah Tea Parlor, where it’s totally acceptable to eat dim sum anytime, regardless of the day of the week or who’s coming along. Though new to me, Nom Wah is the oldest dim sum restaurant in the city and a New York City institution. It opened at 15 Doyers St. as a bakery and tea parlor in 1920, but lost its lease in 1968 and was forced to move into the building next door. It has been at 13 Doyers ever since.

Below: Pell St & Doyers Street circa 1901.

Chicago’s Most Famous Obscure Sandwich

Feb 7th, 2012 | Categories: Food, Kate Dulin | by Kate Dulin

A lot of American cities have an iconic sandwich. In Philadelphia, it’s the cheesesteak. New York’s got pastrami on rye, New Orleans: the muffuletta. In most cases, these sandwiches are well known enough outside their respective cities that tourists hunt them down and imitators attempt to introduce them in new cities with limited success. But there are also sandwiches that manage to escape national recognition and remain untainted by Subway (unlike The Big Philly Cheesesteak).

Often eclipsed by the Vienna hot dog in the national sandwich dialogue, the Italian beef is the most famous Chicago sandwich that no one outside the Midwest has ever heard of. After moving to New York, I was shocked to find out that none of my East Coast friends had ever tried a beef. The only way I can explain it to outsiders is by comparing it to a French Dip, although the ingredients in these two sandwiches are similar, the end results are entirely different. The Italian beef at its most basic level uses thinly shaved roast beef that is allowed to soak in its own garlicky, seasoned juices for hours until it has fully absorbed the flavor of the gravy. The beef is then piled inside chewy Italian bread and topped with sweet or hot peppers. Of course, this foundation allows for a number of different sandwich combinations, and every beef stand in the city offers its own flavors and variation on the classic style.

Cured Meat for the Soul | Salumeria Biellese

Oct 26th, 2011 | Categories: Food, Kate Dulin, New York City | by Kate Dulin

My family has always had a theory that the uglier and more out of the way a restaurant, the better the food. When I was a kid, my dad was under the impression that there was nothing worth eating in our suburban Chicago town, so we routinely found ourselves at 65 Restaurant in Chinatown, which had a giant red and gold Buddha in the entrance and a wonton soup to which I compare all others.

I felt a little out of the loop when other kids would talk about eating deep-dish pizza from our local Giordano’s chain, but we had Buffo’s; a sleazier, wood-paneled joint 45 minutes from home with decidedly better pizza. While it used to annoy me, I’ve come to embrace the theory wholeheartedly as I’ve gotten older. It’s no secret that restaurants that look like they’ve stood the test of time tend to serve great food, or maybe food just tastes better when you have to work a little for it.

Either way, Salumeria Biellese is one of those places. If it weren’t for the sun-faded press clippings and awards plastered all over one of the font windows, you could walk by every day and not realize that it offered anything to distinguish it from the hundreds of other generic corner delis in the city. It resides on a stretch of 8th Avenue below Penn Station with little to lure in crowds besides superior encased meats. While locavorism and slow food have become increasingly popular in recent years, Salumeria Biellese has been making its own cured meats and sausages since 1925. They expanded operations to New Jersey a few years ago, but local family farms continue to supply all of their meat (mainly Berkshire hogs), and the salumi are based on traditional Piedmontese recipes.