June 20, 2015

Bye, Taipei, and Thanks for the Despair Juice

Night view of Taipei 101 from Xiangshan
The view of Taipei 101 from Xiangshan.

Last Monday night, as soon as I stepped off the airplane into the jetway at JFK Airport, a cloud of pressure swelled behind my eyes, driblets of despair juice threatening to spill out. It's over. You don't live in Taipei anymore. Sorry, America. I don't step foot on your soil for over nine months—the longest I've ever spared you of my presence—and this is the loving embrace you get.

I also felt like crying just after I boarded the plane in Taipei 16 hours earlier. And before then, while waiting in the security checkpoint line at the airport. And before then, when I was alone in my apartment, luggages fully packed to the point of hm-these-might-explode-on-the-plane-well-that's-a-risk-I'm-willing-to-take, with me sitting at the edge of the living room couch (green, fairly cushiony, standard IKEA) while staring blankly at the opposite wall (beige, flat, standard wall). I still had an hour before I had to leave for the airport, but I may as well have left then and there—the minutes drained away like seconds. All of that happened just in the afternoon before my flight back to the US. I won't delve into the week leading up to that flight. There was a good amount of stifled weepage, plus some real tears, most of which I sloppily wiped onto the clavicular region of my friends' shirts.

» Continue reading "Bye, Taipei, and Thanks for the Despair Juice"...

Posted by roboppy at 6:34 AM |

November 17, 2014

Visiting Seoul from November 23 to 30

stuffff
Nighttime in Seoul, from my first visit in 2009.

File under "things I forgot to mention earlier because Mandarin is chipping away at my brain meats": I'm going on a trip to Seoul with Kåre in a week, from November 23 to 30. I haven't done much planning because of the aforementioned loss of brain meats, but at the very least we have a place to stay (near Samgakji station). If anybody out there wants to grab a bite with Kåre and me while we're in Seoul, please let me know! Surely you want to experience our awkwardness in real life!!! :D And if anybody has recommendations for what we should eat or do in Seoul, I'd love to hear 'em. Please leave a comment below or email me at roboppy@gmail.com.

One important note: I can't eat spicy food. I like spicy food, but my immune system does not. It's like how one special toy can send a puppy into spastic fits of excitement. Spicy food is the special toy that sends my immune system into spastic fits of trying to kill me.

Thank you!

Posted by roboppy at 3:14 AM |

November 10, 2014

Thank You, Cafe Kuroshio, For Pulling Me Out of "I Don't Know How to Chinese" Dumpsville

[Pops out from behind wall]...hi. It's been an embarrassingly long time. Thank you for sticking around even though I appear to have died for the last few months that I've been settling into Taipei. ;_;

Latte, tea, hot chocolate = a happy family
Happy lil' drink family at Cafe Kuroshio.

Last week I hit the "Feeling Demoralized Because I Can't Speak More Mandarin Despite Learning It For the Last Two Months" stage of being a beginner at MTC in Taipei. On one hand, it's only been two months. If I had actually reached a modicum of fluency after two months, you would have to assume that someone killed Real Robyn and for reasons unknown went through the trouble to replace her with Impossibly Lifelike and Smarter Robot Robyn (aka Boppy-Bot), because that's the only reasonable explanation. On the other hand, I go to class for three hours every weekday and study for three to four hours almost every day (...in theory), I'm immersed in a Mandarin-speaking environment, and I don't have a job. My main responsibilities are feeding myself, maintaining an acceptable level of hygiene, taking out the garbage, and not failing class. You know, my single class. So I probably should be better at speaking Mandarin by now. Excuse me...[gathers jug of gasoline, a bag of bricks, and twine]

JUUUUST KIDDDING I wasn't about to burn all my belongings or throw myself into the river to rid the world of my failure, hahaaa, never! I'll just hurl myself through the air.

...By biking. I do that now. Very minimally. Slicing through the air helps clear my mind and give me respite from the subject of "HOW TO CHINESE???" I attribute biking's restorative powers of distraction to my ever-present fear that I'll collide with someone/something and spill a significant amount of blood, all while being hugged by a pleasantly cool breeze. So last Wednesday I made a lap around Da'an Park (you can't bike in the park, fffffuuu) before heading down to Picnic for a solitary study session.

The following night, I settled in at my favorite cafe, Cafe Kuroshio, for another solitary study night. I was still feeling a bit dumpy, even though I have no reason to feel dumpy, the realization of which only adds to the dumpy feelings. Remember, I have hardly any responsibilities—I just have to not die, pretty much. After two and a half hours of doing homework, the cafe's owner, Jing, comes by and places a dessert on my table.

» Continue reading "Thank You, Cafe Kuroshio, For Pulling Me Out of "I Don't Know How to Chinese" Dumpsville"...

Posted by roboppy at 5:15 AM |

August 27, 2014

How to Throw a Surprise Birthday Party (From Someone Who Has Been Surprised Too Many Times)

Hello, smattering of readers! It's been a while. :( Since my last post, I moved out of New York City back to my mom's place in New Jersey, then moved to Taipei. Today's post has absolutely nothing to do with those recent events. Or food. Instead, I'm recapping all the surprise birthday parties I've received over the last five years because...today is my birthday. A meh birthday—the big 2-9, which basically means I'm 30, which basically means I'm 50, which basically means OH NO I AM DEAD NOW. So join me as I focus on the good times, when adulthood was distant and I didn't live thousands of miles away from my closest friends.

foom
It's not a birthday cake until you set a bunch of tiny fires on it.

I'm not one to demand recognition for my accomplishments, but there is one prize I deserve with utmost fanfare (a nice horn quartet ought to do it). That prize is an oversized gold chalice engraved with "Most Easily Surprised by Surprise Birthday Parties." Under that in a smaller font, "It's Crazy, She Just Never Sees Them Coming!" Under that in a smaller font, "How Did She Make It This Far in Life?"

Here's what I've learned over the last five years of being surprised/fooled by friends in New York City. This isn't a handy-dandy universal guide that lists all the steps by any means; there are other resources for that. It's not rocket science, nor a less impressive science. I'm just sharing my experiences to give people ideas. Use this knowledge wisely on your most unsuspecting friend who enjoys being surprised. You might make her feel like the luckiest person on earth to be blessed with such a thoughtful circle of friends...and after a few years, fill her with self doubt about her ability to think critically about anything.

In this post I refer to the surprisee as a woman because I have lady parts. But you can also surprise guys. It works on them too, probably.

Hijack the Birthday Plans Your Friend Has Already Made

manatee had one too many
It's not a party until PARTY MANATEE ARRIVES.

Instead of planning a surprise party from square one, it might be easier and less suspicious to tack the surprise onto plans the birthday girl already made, if her plans are easily malleable. I've been that girl multiple times. I LEARN NOTHING.

» Continue reading "How to Throw a Surprise Birthday Party (From Someone Who Has Been Surprised Too Many Times)"...

Posted by roboppy at 2:24 AM |

July 10, 2014

Everything I Ate During Istanbul Eats' Six-Hour Food Tour

I visited Istanbul with Diana (friend) and Kåre (boyfriend) from March 25 to April 1...2013. Yup, last year. I'm only 16 months behind; that ain't too bad. TRYIN' TO STAY POSITIVE, GUYS.

CANDY CANDY CANDY Gaziantepli Baklavacı Bilgeoğlu Turkish coffee Tantuni Dough ball babies Kokoretto
Snapshots from the food tour.

When I visit a new city, I like to glom onto a good, local friend (like a human lamprey but without the jawless mouth hole full of pointy teeth and nightmares) who can take me around the city and show me the best places to eat, shop, and look at important historical stuff, all while filling me in on interesting facts and details about what we're eating and looking at, all while having fun, all while retaining positive feelings about me and the future of our friendship after the day is over even though I drained them of all their energy and they're sick of looking at my face.

Going on an Istanbul Eats or Gourmet Holidays culinary tour is as close as you can get to that if you're visiting Istanbul and lack local friends to take advantage of.

» Continue reading "Everything I Ate During Istanbul Eats' Six-Hour Food Tour"...

Posted by roboppy at 1:52 AM |

June 7, 2014

Good-Bye, Serious Eats and NYC; Hello, Unemployment and Taipei!

Good-bye card
Doge-inspired good-bye card, made by Niki. My tears, how they flow. ;_;

Late last Friday at the Serious Eats office, I gathered up all my remaining personal belongings—books and pictures, mostly—and left my set of office keys on my desk before heading home. While waiting for the subway, I realized, "Oh crap, I forgot my leftover pasta in the fridge. The pasta I wanted to eat for lunch tomorrow." On any other day I could've walked back to the office for the pasta, but for the first time in seven years, I couldn't go back. No one else was in the office, and the door was locked. The forsaken pasta bummed me out (it was from Osteria Morini; you'd be bummed, too), but more saddening was accepting that the office was no longer my home away from home.

I've spent the last week trying to figure out how to do justice to my seven-year tenure at Serious Eats using the power of the keyboard-tapped word. (I wrote a bit about it in last week's This Week at Serious Eats World Headquarters, and Ed wrote me a farewell post last Monday. I'm really pulling up the rear now.) But after many stretches of staring blankly at my laptop screen alternated with staring blankly out my bedroom window, underscored by my internal soundtrack of a drawn-out "bbbbbbeeeeeeeeeuuhhhhhh" (imagine Hypnotoad with roiling indigestion), I've decided there's no way I can do it justice. Somewhere deep in my brain meats is a pile of useful words getting flaccid and crusty in their stagnancy, like a sloppily stacked, ever-growing tower of forgotten luncheon meat. ...So now that I've accepted that, I can write this overdue post.

» Continue reading "Good-Bye, Serious Eats and NYC; Hello, Unemployment and Taipei!"...

Posted by roboppy at 11:55 PM |

May 19, 2014

Curry-Ya's Baked Curry Is a Most Beautiful Egg-Topped, Cheese-Crusted Thing

Unnecessary introductory note: Oh hi. It's been a while. :( As usual, I don't have a good reason for why it's been a while. My not-so-good reason is that about a month ago I decided to watch an episode of Parenthood on Netflix. In the ensuring 28 days, I consumed all five seasons of the show. Now I've left with that empty feeling that only comes when your continuous outpouring of emotional energy into a fictional family's problems and victories comes to an abrupt end.

Q: How do you make Japanese curry taste even better?

A: [Invoking the manic spirit of Craig] YOU CAN'T, IT'S PERFECT, HOW DARE YOU SUGGEST OTHERWISE.

B: Add more curry.

C: Stick it in a casserole, top it with a raw egg and grated cheese, and bake it until the egg is set and the cheese is gooey and crisp.

It's a trick question, because all of these answers are correct. ...But especially C. Just look at this thing:

Baked dry curry
Crusty bubbly cheese tendrils are the best tendrils.

This is the baked curry from Curry-Ya in the East Village. Before I tried the baked curry, I thought of Curry-Ya as the place to go to if I wanted to ladle Japanese curry out of my own personal cast-iron pot onto my rice/meat however I please. This desire rarely presents itself. As much as I love being the master of a mini ladle—don't we all?—I'm quite content with eating curry that is already portioned out as a brown pool touching a mound of rice.

Berkshire pork katsu curry
Berkshire pork katsu curry featuring a trio of awkward string beans.

It wasn't until this past February when my friend Christine shared her baked curry with me that I found the real draw of Curry-Ya. For an extra $3.50, Curry-Ya will top your curry and rice with shredded cheddar cheese and a raw egg and bake it all into a mini-casserole of gooey-and-crisp, cheesy, eggy goodness. It goes a little something like this:

» Continue reading "Curry-Ya's Baked Curry Is a Most Beautiful Egg-Topped, Cheese-Crusted Thing"...

Posted by roboppy at 1:31 AM |

April 28, 2014

A Random Conversation About Hot Loose Apples

Apropos of nothing, here's a random conversation I had last week with my awesome roommate/friend Janet. I thought it was worth remembering, so I wrote it down. And since I wrote it down, I figured I'd share it.

...It was a lot more amusing at the time.

"Loose Apples"
It's flying off the shelves. Sad shelves.

Janet: [In the living room] I made some apple crisp if you want to eat some!

Robyn: [Me, in my room] Oh yay! Thanks!

J: It's not great. I forgot to add flour, so it's watery.

[Both go into kitchen, inspect crisp]

J: Yeah, it's...loose.

» Continue reading "A Random Conversation About Hot Loose Apples"...

Posted by roboppy at 3:41 AM |

stuff here

Search

previous entries

» 06/20/15: Bye, Taipei, and Thanks for the Despair Juice

» 11/17/14: Visiting Seoul from November 23 to 30

» 11/10/14: Thank You, Cafe Kuroshio, For Pulling Me Out of "I Don't Know How to Chinese" Dumpsville

» 08/27/14: How to Throw a Surprise Birthday Party (From Someone Who Has Been Surprised Too Many Times)

» 07/10/14: Everything I Ate During Istanbul Eats' Six-Hour Food Tour

» 06/07/14: Good-Bye, Serious Eats and NYC; Hello, Unemployment and Taipei!

» 05/19/14: Curry-Ya's Baked Curry Is a Most Beautiful Egg-Topped, Cheese-Crusted Thing

» 04/28/14: A Random Conversation About Hot Loose Apples

» 03/19/14: Taipei 2011, Day 5: Mussels, Fried Oysters, and Extreme Soft Serve in Danshui

» 03/09/14: Taipei 2011, Day 4: Keelung River Bikeway, TAS, Beef "Pie," and Din Tai Fung

Help out roboppy?

Here are some ways to help me out monetarily:

- Buy stuff through my Amazon ID
- Buy my shirts and bags at maigocute.com
- Get webhosting with Dreamhost.com and enter roboppy@gmail.com as the referral

Thank you so much for your help!

Site feeds galore

 Subscribe in a reader

Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.