May 19, 2013
I couldn't get it out of my head. The question I asked myself shortly after stepping onto the streets of downtown Taipei. What's that smell? Not a lip-curling, is-that-the-stench-of-decay-or-did-someone-fart smell, but a mild, omnipresent scent that says, "You're definitely in Taipei."
And thus I became unnaturally flush with excitement* when one night out of the blue Lee Anne said, "There's a distinct smell here." Oh, Lee Anne [clutches chest]—you totally get me. In addition to "BFF" you have earned the badge of "SMELL PARTNER 4 LYFE." And you're really smart, so I bet you know what the smell is.
* I mean, I'm easily excited, but it's usually at the hands of a voluminous ice cream sundae or a puppy acting helpless in a totally nonthreatening situation and thus looking immeasurably cute, not by smells.
"Oh my god, yes! The smell! There's a smell! You know the smell! ...What is this smell?"
"I think it's a mix of food and exhaust," Lee Anne started. "With some incense." Keep going. "And a bit of air freshener." Keeeep going. "And...toilet?" I nodded. It's not a scent I'd apply to my skin, but If I could bottle up Taipei street air and take it home for the occasional closed-eyed whiff, I would. It would transport me back to Taipei in a way nothing else can.
April 25, 2013
Happy New Year, everyone! 2013 is going to be awesome! Yeah!
...Oh, it's been 2013 for about five months, you say? The year is already a third over? Mmmmk [leans back and flumps into bed, slowly rolls into center of bed, curls knees up to chest, smothers lumpy self with comforter, does not move for five hours]
Yup, I'm slow. But I'm not dead. Yet. And so I shall chug along at the speed of a broken slug, as you've grown accustomed to. (THANKS FOR STICKING WITH ME, GUYS!!!)
If you're wondering what I've been up to during this period of blog abandonment, here's a lil' recap of the last month:
- End of March: Visited Istanbul! It was awesome! You can see a few hundred photos on my Flickr page (I still have a few hundred more photos to edit). If I'm not a total failure, I might write about it in six months.
- Beginning of April: Got sick immediately after returning to NYC. I spent the first week not being able to taste much of anything. I spent the second week regaining my sense of taste, but losing my appetite. Then my digestive system stopped working at full capacity. "Ima go take long nap. Sorry about the funny poops. Ok bye." I think that's what it said to me.
- Mid-April: I entered "gross ball of sweat/phlegm/dizzyness" mode for a few days. At the end my poops upgraded from "nightmare" to "close enough to normal."
- Late-mid April: Everything pretty much returned to normal aside from my lungs hurling out the occasional phlegm bomb and my inability to shake off a weird dream involving a huge pink marble toilet—I mean, like a pool-sized thing—featuring raw slabs of meat resting and/or smeared on the seat and dead pigs and various flesh slabs danging on hooks overhead.
You didn't need to know all that, but it's too late now.
Here's my probably incomplete list of my favorite foods from 2012, mostly in New York City, categorized by restaurants, individual dishes, and sweet things.
El Tenampa: Thanks to El Tenampa, I rarely eat anywhere else in my neighborhood. I doubt any other place near me could beat El Tenampa's deliciousness-to-dollar ratio. For $6 I can have a two-taco dinner (plus as much guacamole, radishes, and cucumber as I want from their accompanying toppings bar), or if I'm in the mood for getting disgustingly full, I can get a meat-avocado-cheese-n-bean-laden cemita for $8. My favorite fillings are their lengua, cabeza, buche, and suadero, and the well toasted bread and blistered tortillas never disappoint. The only downside is that waits can get long for what's mostly a take-out spot. It's worth it the wait; just don't go if you're in a rush. (If you want someone to help you eat your tacos/cemitas, let me know. I'm like a three-minute walk away from there.) 706 4th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11232 (map); 718-369-7508; eltenampadeli.com
March 24, 2013
I was hoping to finish writing a big roundup of my favorite bites from 2012 before leaving on my trip to Istanbul today. Haha. HAHA. HAHAHA nope, that's definitely not happening.
But before I go to bed and get five hours of sleep, I can write about this one thing I ate yesterday. Look at this sandwich:
And how about again, because I turned the plate around:
And this! [points wildly]
March 3, 2013
Everyone I know who's been to Istanbul has said in some form or another, usually with crazed eyes of excitement, "ISTANBUL IS AWESOME AND YOU WILL LOVE IT!" And thus I am going there for vacation from March 25 to April 1 with Diana and Kåre (same travel buddies as last year's trip to Berlin)! Friends have been giving me advice and I have some guide books to study (flipping through Istanbul Eats' book is giving me all the drools) in addition to all these Serious Eats posts, but if anyone out there wants to throw in their two cents about "things you must do in Istanbul," I'd love to hear it. (And while I know this is a big reach, if you live in Istanbul and am interested in sharing a meal, do contact me, please? :D) We're staying in Cihangir, if that helps to know. Thank you for your help!
March 1, 2013
Ever since I first tried the marshmallow sundae at Eddie's Sweet Shop in Forest Hills, every other sundae I've tried just can't measure up. The appeal of Eddie's isn't their homemade ice cream—ice cream that's perfectly satisfying—but the sauce it's drowned in. I mean. Look at this disgustingly beautiful thing:
The thick, gooey, throat-gaggingly sweet (you know, in a good way) marshmallow sauce drips out of the cup like a lava flow. You repeatedly drag your spoon up the side of the cup to catch the excess goo, but it keeps spilling out from the top. The cup appears to be generating marshmallow goo out of nothing. WHAT SORCERY IS THI—nevermind, they just put a shitton of sauce on top. And by "shitton" I mean "just the right amount." Moderation, meet the mighty fist of American gluttony. A fist thrusted by jet packs running on fat and sugar.
February 25, 2013
If the phrase "treat yo' self" doesn't mean anything to you, watch this:
(And if you're not familiar with Parks and Recreation, you should watch that, too. You've only got five seasons to catch up on. Piece of cake.)
"Treat yo' self" may be a once-a-year thing in the world of Parks and Recreation, but in my world it's "any time I'm in the Serious Eats office during off-hours by my lonesome, which is many of the times." And my favorite way to treat myself on the cheap without straying far from the office is to walk five minutes to Yaya Tea Garden and plop down $5 in return for one of these babies:
Tokyo Fried Chicken. It's a simple thing—chicken katsu topped with katsu sauce on top of too little cooked chopped cabbage and too much white rice—but I love it to the point that I've eaten it twice in the last week. The generous two-cutlet amount of chicken is mostly moist, except around the edges where it's most crisp; the rice is well cooked so that each fat, sticky grain is well defined and not too soft and I can easily shove satisfyingly big clumps of it in my mouth; the cabbage provides some vegetable content, allowing me to pretend I'm not totally destroying my health; and it only costs $4.95. That's a good happiness-to-dollar ratio right there.
Since I have trouble eating all the chicken without feeling disgustingly full (and I ignore the sensible option of not eating everything), I've gotten in the habit of asking for more cabbage and less chicken. The last time I asked this (which was, um, last night), the cashier told me, "People usually ask for it the other way around."
February 8, 2013
A heads up to anyone who may try to contact me next week: I'll be even slower at responding because I'll be on a press trip to Hong Kong from the 9th until the 15th. ...And then I'm visiting my dad in Taipei for 1.5 days. I'm coming back to New York on the 17th through Hong Kong. (If you think that sounds like a weird schedule, then yup, it kind of is. When I got the press trip office a few weeks ago, I asked if I could get the return date extended, allowing me to get my own round trip ticket to Taipei, a mere 90-minute flight from Hong Kong. Ultimately, the schedule only allowed for the Taipei leg of the trip to be 1.5 days, but I'm still grateful for it.) I would've mentioned my trip sooner (like, not the same day I'm flying out), but I didn't want to say anything until I received my final itinerary, which just happened yesterday afternoon.
I don't know if I have many readers in Hong Kong (and by "many" I mean like, two people), but I would love to meet anyone who's free and interested in putting a face to this blog. (I know most of you have seen my face, but...have you seen it morphing and breathing and being all congested?! ...Oh yeah...no one wants to see that.) The only problem is that my itinerary is super packed—I'd only be free after 10 or 11 p.m. most days—and according to one of my friends in Hong Kong, most good food places are closed at the start of the lunar new year holiday. So....hm...
I don't really expect anything to emerge from this, but I figured I'd put the message out there. If you want to respond to this message, email me at email@example.com (do not leave a comment). Thank you!
(Guys, I swear I have a substantial post that's...almost ready to go. It's 95% written. But that last 5% will probably take a few hours to finish, hours I won't have until I get back from my trip. Yeah, I should get an award for "SLOWEST.")
All right, time for me to get four hours of sleep before heading to the airport.
January 17, 2013
- This does not end well, but that's ok! Photos of submerged kite taken by Melissa.
Me: Melissa...MELISSA [points out to the Hudson River], THE KITE THE KITE1
Melissa: [turns to kite] AHHHH NO
Me: OH MY GOD NO GET IT UP CANYOUGETITUP2
Melissa: AHGGHFJKDSJF OH NO
Me and Melissa: AHHHARRGGHHH NOOOOOO3
Diana: [on the phone with me] ...Are you alright?
Me: OH MY GOD OH NO NO NO
Diana: [still on the phone with me] So...I'll head over soon...
Melissa: I'M SO SORRY I JUST LOOKED AWAY FOR A SECOND
Me: AHHH UHH UUGH BLUUUHHGGHRHR
Some annotations to clear things up:
1) Response to seeing my kite flying dangerously low to the Hudson River.
2) Response to seeing my kite flying dangerously lower to the Hudson River.
3) Response to seeing my kite gracefully touching the water's surface, then getting swallowed by the water.
You think flying a kite is all whimsical and fun, until your kite lands into a massive, swiftly moving body of water, and then it makes you realize, "So this is the pure horror a mother feels when she turns away from her only toddler for just a second, then turns back to see her toddler has disappeared. ...Maybe not into a river. That would be much worse. But yeah. It's just like that."
The site of the kite drowning: Pier I off of West 70th Street. I had made Melissa in charge of keeping my kite aloft while I called Diana to coordinate meeting up on the pier. Elsewhere on the pier, Diana had already given her brand new kite a go, but after something like 30 seconds of exhilarating kite flying action it too experienced death-by-river.
"Come over and join us; we've got a kite you can fly!" I assured Diana, turning right to give a nod of acknowledgement to Melissa—at which point I noticed the kite not majestically flying as much as lifelessly falling toward the river's surface, over a hundred feet away.
And then the frantic yelling commenced. Refer to the dialogue above.
But the kite wasn't dead yet. The string was taut; the kite was still attached to it. "We can reel it in!" Melissa suggested ever so optimistically. I like that about her—her beaming optimism in the face of probable doom.
"It'll probably break," I deadpanned.
Melissa helped me reel in the kite, gently pulling as I wrapped the string around the spool. The string held on despite the immense force of the water. Impressive. Maybe Melissa was on to something with that optimism of hers.
We managed to pull the kite all the way back to the pier. Looking over the pier's barrier, we could see the kite "flying" just under the surface of the water, intact and full of potential to ride the skies once more.
"I bet this is where it's going to break," I said. I'll admit that I felt a smidge of a smidge of hope, but I didn't want to show it.
"No, no, this will work! We just have to pull it up slowly."
"I don't know..."
Pulled slowly, we did. We pulled and pulled; the kite felt heavier with each tug.