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Category Archives: Dining Out
My friend Amy’s daughter Isabella turns one this week and we celebrated her birthday on Saturday. She’s exactly one month older than Enzo and a much better eater than him.
Don’t get me wrong, he will try anything you put near his mouth. Even things I don’t intend for him to eat, such as the edge of a table, coasters, the handle of a shopping cart, the soles of our shoes. Enzo still wants his foods mashed and pureed. Real solids get hamstered into his cheeks until he can’t hold them any longer, and then they end up in random places around the apartment. Or else he sprays them all over the himself, the table, into his crotch. The seat of his booster & high chairs are constantly in need of scraping.
Isabella is able to stuff her mouth with food and eat it like a regular human being.
I made her ricotta and fava beans, which is a pretty classic combo.
For the ricotta you need good quality whole milk, vinegar, and salt.
About 1 quart of milk = 1 cup of cheese.
Bring milk to a simmer and add salt.
Add vinegar, about 2 Tbsp per quart. This is purely a guess, I have no idea how much I usually use.
Give a quick stir and let sit for about a minute, then strain through cheesecloth.
I stupidly tossed the leftover liquid, called whey, but you should save it as it’s super healthy and can be used for a variety of things.
Enzo did not like this concoction. However, I did roast some beets, and then I mashed them with some Martone cheese that we got in our Quinciple box this week. It’s a cheese made from goat and cow milk and isn’t that great on its own, but it’s a good “food” cheese to eat in a dish. He ate it up because beets are sweet. Surprise.
That is my sandwich on the side, a healthy “California” sammy made with beefsteak tomato, avocado, sprouts, Gruyere, and mayo on multigrain toast. And an IPA to wash it down with.
On Sunday mornings, I let dad sleep in. Today I tried to let Enzo feed himself something other than Cheerios.
The situation deteriorated quickly. Apparently this involves smashing all the fruit onto the tray, putting his mouth on the edge of it, then sweeping them onto the floor. Not wanting to waste the fruit (nectarines are so sweet right now!) I quickly salvaged some and fed him by hand.
For lunch we got pho at Thai Son. I ordered the Pho Ga (chicken noodle soup) because I figured shredded chicken would be easy for him. I chose poorly. The chicken I got was the pre-boiled old man ear chicken and he hated it. The broth was tasteless and I was mad for making us stray from our usual spot.
We went to Chinatown Ice Cream Factory afterwards and I fed him black sesame & pandan ice creams because I’m a good mom.
We also got spicy cucumbers from Xi’an Famous Foods, which have a slight kick. So of course the kid ate some of those. What a weirdo.
Because we are moving out of our neighborhood in a few weeks, Ryan wants to do a “bucket list” restaurant tour of our favorite spots. We LOVE Speedy Romeo so we headed there tonight.
To start, we ordered the grilled octopus in romesco sauce & housemade mozzarella crostini with watermelon gazpacho, grape tomatoes, and pickled cucumbers. I know what pickles are, these were pickled cucumbers.
Though the octopus was super tender & lightly smoky and the mozz was very soft, the kid wouldn’t swallow anything. He kept letting me feed him, but after a few minutes he’d SPPFFFFFFT all over himself and the seat.
Then he tried to play ring toss with my pizza.
I don’t eat my crusts, so I gave them to him. He enjoyed the crap out of these until it came to swallow time. And then he spit them in his crotch.
For dinner we were given white chocolate mousse with balsamic amaretti cookies at the bottom, topped with cherries. Also an olive oil cake with raspberry-rhubarb & orange zest. Kid ate all the fruit product and some of the cake. Of course. But at least he ate fruit, including the raspberry seeds.
I fear he is a little behind in the whole eating thing. I’m scared to let him really try to feed himself mostly because if he decides to throw something, it will land on books, photos, sofa, rug, and anything else within infant-tossing distance because our living room/dining room/play area are one and the same, and about 10×10. In short, there is just not enough room to make a food mess. Also, he is going through this casserole of nonsense right now. For real, they should call them wonder months and not weeks. We had a puke-mergency last night.
We are moving in a few weeks to a much larger apartment. I will have a real kitchen with real storage (there is ONE drawer in our kitchen right now) and real counter space. There’s a separate area for eating and a separate area for hanging out. There is room to put a GD tarp down to catch all the baby mess. We can eat together like a real family instead of placing the high chair in between our TV trays as we eat from the couch. Cannot wait, but I will be sad to leave this quiet, beautiful neighborhood, where I have been the past 8 years.
Until next time, keep grindin!
Last weekend, we went back to Blue Hill for a spring lunch. We left the kid at home with the nanny and felt guilty the entire time, especially after seeing all the families touring the farm. Next time we will come for the lambs and not the food.
We had a stellar meal, and even got to eat a few courses in the kitchen. My favorites were the mussels, barely poached to creaminess and the coppa served atop the first maple tap of the season.
As for the more substantial dishes, I loved the smoked scallop and fried pig ear tacos with rutabega tortillas and the venison three ways.
As you’ve read, I’ve been trying to make Enzo food but with little luck. I’ve finally realized that he still can’t really deal with textures, and that I need to puree and then strain his food before feeding it to him.
It’s now spring, but the offerings at our farmers market are still root veggies and cellar fruits. So I’ve had to supplement with frozen fruits and vegetables. Trader Joe’s has an okay selection, and I bought some blueberries and spinach. I’ve been trying to go once a week to stock up on nanny snacks and other groceries since it is close to our butcher.
Here’s a quart container with frozen blueberries (about a cup), 5 apples that I skinned, cored, cubed, and made into apple sauce from cameo & pink lady market apples, and frozen spinach (about half a cup). I added Bob’s Red Mill 10-grain cereal and split it between two containers, then used the immersion blender to puree the shit out of it.
THEN I strained it so any errant pieces of spinach stalk, apple skin, and chunky cereal bits didn’t make it into the emperor’s food.
And guess what – Mikey likes it!
Score 1 for mommy. Put it in the freezer, I’m done.
I also bought some purple and yellow carrots from the market that I skinned, quartered, and steamed. He’ll have those tomorrow. I try to do the finger food thing at least once a week.
I didn’t get to pickle the green tomatoes I bought. It’s a bit early for any kind of tomato, but I got excited. They’re good on BLTs and also with buratta.
I hate WordPress’s auto image editing. But I’ve been super lazy about uploading to Flickr.
What do you get for your chef boyfriend who never really asks for anything? Except maybe for FIFA 2014 which I refused to get him? Well you have an entire weekend of gluttony, of course.
Friday night Ryan bought some clams, shrimp, and cod to make a tomato-based seafood stew. Garlic, onions, and fennel went into it, and stock was made using shrimp shells.
Saturday morning, we went to the Grand Army Plaza Farmer’s market to gather ingredients for a full English breakfast. Also some sourdough bread which I sliced and froze and some tiny round Lakemont (green) and Mars (dark purple) grapes. The books are from the library – I’ve been inhaling them.
I cooked breakfast mostly in the oven:
The potatoes I cooked in a cast iron skillet – in duck fat on the stove first, then finished in the oven. Baked beans came from a can. Tomatoes and sausage got the olive oil-salt-pepper treatment and went in the oven. The portobellos got the same, but also a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Mushrooms are like sponges, so I had to salt them a lot.
We had been wanting to see Gravity, so we picked UA Court Street in downtown Brooklyn because we wanted to eat at PokPok. Food first, always. So we biked out to PokPok and got a few salads – eggplant and duck. But the real winner was the pork belly & pork shoulder curry. It’s got roots in Burma, which tends to have a tangy-er and not overpowering curry flavor. Suuuuper good. Unfortunately we sat next to an uber high maintenance girl on a date, who was asking such things as “Is your coconut juice in a real coconut?” and “Is your Thai tea sweetened?” and “Can you wait like 20 minutes before bringing our soup?” “Can you wait like 5 minutes more? I just want it to be hot.” and “Can you leave the crispy noodles off?” and “What’s in a whiskey sour?” Girl. Just be quiet and enjoy the food! Anyway just order the pork belly curry when you go – it is delicious.
After dinner we went to Whiskey Soda Lounge for more drinks and the fried pig ears. Which are better in Portland, where they are not fried to shit. But they were still tasty. I also had the rice whiskey which was infused in-house with fresh pineapple. It was like drinking juice! Delicious!
Gravity was a good film. Fraught with tension of course, but also frustration at having to listen to Sandra Bullock’s awful panting and whinging, especially after learning that she was using up her O2 faster by said panting and whinging. I would’ve preferred an epic non-dialog soundtrack like Explosions in the Sky or Music for Airports. But hey, I am not the filmmaker, nor the vox populi.
On Sunday we did our usual dim sum excursion, then dinner at Minetta Tavern. This time we strategized properly and did not leave hurting. For our appetizer we had the bone marrow fort.
Ryan got the Black Label Burger, and I had the seabass special which had brussels sprouts, chanterelles, leeks, and shaved black truffle. Also a very light cream sauce.
We finished every bite then shared the chocolate souffle for two. They have Innis & Gunn again, my favorite beer. So next time I’m having some steak, marrow, and a shitload of I&G. Last meal status!
As for presents, I tried not to go too crazy:
Yup, those are meat socks.
Happy birthday, other stomach.
So we are back from our vacation. We ate a lot of food but in the interest of sanity I will only post my favorites here. The rest can be found in my Flickr set.
So here goes:
Sunday dim sum at Sun Sui Wah with my cousin, aunt, and uncle. We went to the East Van location which was walking distance from where we were staying. The clams with black bean and char siu so were better here. They also have more rice dishes. It’s a nice restaurant, with lots of sunlight. But no carts! Here we introduced Ryan to Lee Kum Kee’s XO sauce which trumps all hot sauces as it has ham, dried scallops, and dried shrimp in it. Our bottle is en route, in the mail from Seattle. I hope.
Lumpia Sariwa, made by my Ama (grandma). I’ve eaten this as long as I can remember. Ama makes this with carrots, cabbage, green beans, fish tofu. It takes a whole day to prepare, with all the different components that go into it. It’s served deconstructed, so you can make it how you like it. The romaine lettuce keeps the lumpia wrapper from getting soggy, and you top the vegetable mixture with thinly cut scrambled eggs, dried seaweed, a garlic and vinegar mixture, peanuts crushed with sugar, cilantro. Mom also toasted some sesame seeds this time.
It pains me to live so far from my grandma, who in her day had her own dress-making company and also played soccer and basketball, like Ryan. When I was with her I was too young to learn to cook, and now I am too far away to help her in the kitchen.
My mom and uncle’s business does business with Uwajimaya in Seattle, so on our drive down from BC we stopped in so that she could do a sales stop, and we could get groceries. They have a TON of fresh seafood, including oysters. We got a dozen each of kusshi and kumamotos which Ryan shucked at home. I made sinigang using bangus (milk fish).
Breakfast at Odd Fellows in Capitol Hill, which is also situated near Everyday Music, Totokaelo, and Elliot Bay Books. Ryan got the bacon and egg biscuit which was surprisingly delicious. The eggs were soft scrambled with a lot of cheese and some chives. My brioche French toast was about two inches thick, served with housemade strawberry preserves on the side.
We of course went to Pike Place where once again we were reminded of how shitty New York produce is. Picked up chanterelles and other veggies for dinner at home.
Happy hour at The Walrus & The Carpenter. We had some cocktails made with gin, absinthe, and celery to start, as well as a mixture of the four oysters on offer that day. Amai, Calm Cove, Tomales Bay, and Glacier Point. Amai and Calm Cove were our favorites – creamy and briny. The Tomales Bay oysters, which we thought would be our #1, tasted disappointingly flat in comparison. We also ordered a tuna tartare special that had salmon roe mixed in that was very luxurious-feeling, and a lackluster and bitter salad of artichoke hearts, anchovies, and a shit ton of walnuts.
Such a huge array of pho spots in the Pac NW. This is Pho In & Out, near my mom’s office in Kent. We ate this for breakfast, then headed to the shooting range nearby where Wednesday’s special was free gun rentals. So we busted through 2 boxes of ammo and 2 different guns before boarding the Amtrak to Portland.
First dinner in Portland, at Sen Yai. This is Pok Pok’s noodle house, on SE Division Street a few blocks from Pok Pok and Whiskey Soda Lounge. More on those later. Ryan had the Lat Na, which were stir fried noodles with gravy and egg, and I had the Yen Ta Flo which had seafood and choice of noodles in a tomato-fermented tofu broth. Both delicious. On the side, the red fire water spinach and rice. For dessert we ordered the pandan ice cream but were disappointed with the chalky texture. So we went across the street to Salt & Straw where I had Jenn Louis’s Mint Leaf + Uni Meringue ice cream, and Ryan had strawberry-honey-balsamic.
On Thursday we had pie for breakfast at Lauretta Jean’s, then rented some bikes to ride around the city on. In my opinion, the best way to experience a new place. You can hop on and off easily, you can hear and see things better, and it’s easy to stop for photo ops. After biking around a bit we ended up at Lardo, which is celebrated for its sandwiches. Have I mentioned that Ryan makes gourmet subs for a living? We got the BLAT and Cold Fried Chicken sandwiches, which failed. Hard. Not delicious at all. BUT since I am posting only the best stuff we ate, here is a close up of the dirty fries, which are hand cut potatoes fried with huge pieces of lardons, then tossed with pickled cherry & banana peppers, fresh rosemary, and parmesan cheese. I want this dish whenever fries are an option.
I don’t have any photos of Thursday’s dinner, because I didn’t want to be THAT person. We did the five-course tasting menu at Le Pigeon, which was super filling and delicious. They offer a seven-course tasting but we correctly assumed that we wouldn’t be able to handle it. Our five courses included albacore crudo with tomato water, avocado, and radish; tempura-fried halibut with passionfruit tartare and house made tots; rabbit flank poached in milk and truffles with walnuts, green beans, and chanterelles; beef cheek bourgignone atop gruyere mashed potatoes and grilled onions; almond financiers with blueberries, cheesecake, creme fraiche, and motherfucking foie gras profiteroles with salted caramel sauce. I want to eat that all the time – we considered asking recently married friends if any of them received ice cream makers as presents, and bribing them with the promise of meat liver ice cream, but not sure who would take the bait.
Broder was a spot that was on my list, and we happened to pass it as we were taking a different route into the busier part of town. I called out to Ryan to stop and after waiting about 30 minutes we sat down to what will probably the sleeper hit of the trip. We ordered Danish Marys, made with Aquavit and garnished with pickled deliciousness. I had the smoked trout hash with eggs and Ryan had the lost eggs, basically eggs baked with cream, bacon, and spinach topped with panko and parmesan cheese. I had to fight him for bites of the dish, promising to replicate it at home.
Our hosts mentioned that Portland does breakfast really well. I can only guess that this is because it used to be a busy port and industrial area, and for blue collar workers breakfast is the most important (and largest) meal of the day, none of that tea and toast BS. Am I close?
We had a very Andy Ricker dinner our last night. After putting our names in at Pok Pok we headed to Whiskey Soda Lounge to wait and have snacks. At WSL we had the 5-spice pig ears and wings, along with more cocktails. For dinner we tried to order things not available in Brooklyn. Namely, the rotisserie Cornish hen and boar collar served with chilled mustard greens. Both winners. We also ordered the catfish noodle dish we love and a side of corn on the cob cooked with coconut milk and kaffir lime. I’m gonna go ahead and say PokPokPDX is way better than PokPokNY. It’s in an old house and there are a lot of twists and turns to get to tables and bathrooms and kitchen, and the staff and food are just so on point. NY has a bit of catching up to do.
The kaffir lime gin & tonic is delicious, as is the Apple Gin Rickey, which is made with apple cider som (drinking vinegar). I’m usually a whiskey/bourbon drinker but for some reason this trip, I was feeling gin.
On Saturday we rented a Zipcar and headed to Olympic Provisions for brunch. We were the first ones there at 10am.
Holy shiiiiit the cocktails. I got the Viking Mary (with Aquavit, again) and Ryan got the Olympic Mary. Please see the swizzle/garnish sticks. I know places can get really crazy with these but they don’t always taste delicious – the bacon is cold and congealed, the pickled whatever is falling apart, etc. These did. And we got both bread & butter AND dill pickles. For garnish.
We ordered the Italian board which came with house made coppa, mortadella, fresh sausage, soppressata, and finnochiona. Also Taleggio cheese. We also ordered a serving of the Loukanika, a Greek salami made with cumin, garlic, and citrus zest. Also the kielbasa hash, which was served with potatoes and topped with a poached egg and gravy. ALSO a green bean salad with pickled yellow squash, blue cheese, and toasted almonds. Gahhhhh. We have had some of these salamis before and they were good, but not as delicious as eating them “fresh” and not packed with extra preservatives. In Portland they were softer, fattier, and almost creamy-feeling to eat. I wanted to go back there for dinner before our flight, but Ryan put the kibbosh on that. So instead we went to Cheese Bar and had more cold cuts.
Nothing else matters. Only charcuterie.
We also tried a couple of donut places – Voodoo Too (the less crowded location on the east side) and Blue Star, downtown. Voodoo Too’s maple bacon donut didn’t disappoint. We got the same at Blue Star, which tasted anemic in comparison. Also their creme brulee Cointreau donut was a disappointment, too much dough and not enough custard. And it was runny at that. I’m not saying they were BAD donuts. The actual donut part itself was good, but the toppings weren’t as good as others I’ve had. They reminded me of less-greasy Dough donuts with their size and fluffiness.
Must return. Rinse. Repeat.
First I have to preface this by saying that we were pretty hungover on Sunday and therefore did not have all our brains on deck. My coworker had a small get-together at his place on Saturday as a pre-birthday party for his girlfriend, and I may or may not have almost helped him finish an entire bottle of Black Maple Hill Bourbon. The problem (is there a problem with drinking too much bourbon??) was that Ryan and I were sharing a glass, and we felt like we had to keep up with each other. So we kept drinking until about 2am.
Dim sum at Nom Wah. Out of the 8 things we ordered, I only liked two: the shrimp and snow pea leaves dumplings and the pork shumai. Everything else was just blah: taro dumplings, original eggroll, jar leong, crab claw encased in shrimp paste (whyyyyyyy), soup dumplings, and scallion pancakes. Did we order the wrong things? You tell me. The space itself is cool, and I really wanted to like it. The food wasn’t bad at all but East Harbor is just so much better. And they have better desserts.
Over to Magic Jewelry to get aura readings. They were pretty accurate, considering she had no prior knowledge of us and we didn’t tell her anything about ourselves. So maybe there is some truth to it. Basically, I will have some good luck coming to me soon (money or good relationships) and Ryan will be working his ass off and be stressed out. We both have stomach problems (no shit, after all that bourbon), as well as weakness in our backs and legs (sedentary job, standing in a kitchen all day, busted ACL….) so she suggested smokey quartz to help out. Any excuse to buy more crystals is a good one to me!
We watched a couple of urban soccer league games in Chinatown then headed to Chinatown Fair. It was awful, just awful. Fruit Ninja?? The best games they had there from its former self were Time Crisis and Marvel VS. Capcom. Lame.
Came home to watch Game of Thrones, drink tea, eat Momo Milk Bar cookies, and RELAX. All those Manhattan people stress. Me. Out.
All my life I’ve been eating dim sum, or yumcha in my family’s dialect. I grew up eating it almost every Sunday at Mao’s Palace in California (in Milbrae??) or at Hong Kong Flower Lounge in Burlingame (where upon a recent visit in 2008, the maitre’d recognized me after not having been there for 15 years). Ryan and I continue that today, heading to East Harbor Seafood Palace in Dyker Heights/Bay Ridge, which is the Chinatown of Brooklyn.
We go so often that the clams/tofu fah lady knows us and beelines for us after we sit down to serve us clams in black bean sauce, then knows to come back later to serve us the fresh soft tofu with ginger syrup. We know to get there on the earlier side, before she runs out.
We recognize other regulars such as the hapa (half caucasian/half asian) man with his Chinese wife and in-laws, who do not talk to him beause of the language barrier. It’s been a while and I’m assuming it’s because the last time we saw them, wife was pretty pregnant, and they must be busy with the new baby. So this definitely isn’t something I read about in L magazine or on the Serious Eats blog – this is family time.
And it’s great because after we eat we head to Fei Long market, where we buy meat, seafood, snacks, and other groceries for the next couple of days.
Below, our yumcha adventures:
The aforementioned clams. Tofu fah and tan tat at the ready – I think we were scared of these running out. The tan tat at East Harbor is the best I’ve had, especially when they’re fresh and still warm. The custard is soft and pastry shell is buttery and flaky.
That time we cheated on East Harbor on my birthday to eat dim sum at the racetrack. The food is fresh and decent. But the tan tat is nowhere near as good. Also those are durian puffs on the top right which look delicious but taste like farts. Or what I imagine farts to taste like – sweet onion cream.
The other time I tried to eat an entire serving of chicken feet. The caucasian couple across from us wanted to know WTF the jar leong was (after he edumacated her to the fact that hargow and shumai were “the things to get”), so we encouraged them to order it. I invited them to try some chicken feet, to which they politely declined, the female saying, “That’s great that you’re eating it though.” Um, that’s great that you’re a condescending a-hole.
The time we sat down across from a family of six who mean mugged us the whole time because we got this spread within two minutes of sitting down. My other favorite thing at the bottom, fried taro dumplings stuffed with pork and mushrooms (wu gok).
The time I insisted we start getting vegetables because all that fried food was making me sick. AKA the time I saved my stomach from dim sum.
The thing that’s fun about dim sum is even though we go almost every week, it’s always a different experience based on what we eat, where we sit, and who we sit with. I never get char siu bao because that takes up too much space in my stomach.
Today we got oxtail at Fei Long to make ragu for some chestnut ravioli I picked up at Paisano’s. So I guess you’ll be hearing about that next.