Sunday, October 21, 2007

Mafia Dim Sum

So later, we went to go get some Dim Sum at some "special" place somewhere in Queens. This place was in as far as I can tell an unmarked building. You just sort of drove into the side of a building and the valet took your car. From what I'm told, this place used to owned by the Mob. After Guiliani went through and through all of them into jail, some Chinese folks took this place over (probably Chinese Mafia), but they didn't bother to change the decoration. So this resulted in perhaps the most surreal Dim Sum experience I've ever had.

This craziness was plastered all over the *ceilings* of the place.

Crazy carpets, furniture, corinthian columns, etc.

Oh yeah, Dim Sum. This was really good and incredibly cheap. Something like $1-$1.50 each! (Although I think that's just the Sunday special.)

Unnecessarily fancy urinal partitions.

This used to be a fancy door frame. Now it frames tanks of live seafood... just so Chinese to do something like this. :-)

This place was huge. There were a lot of back rooms for weddings, secret meetings, and of course, Mah Jong. The carpet and furniture are amazing, and the painting in the back is the perfect backdrop for your killer MJ hand.

This isn't Dim Sum, but what it is is a cone of Carvel soft serve (at the airport). What I thought was funny was the little plastic cone holder so you don't get dripping melted ice cream all over your hands. I'm sure someone has a patent for that.

NY Breakfast

During my college years, I ate plenty of eastern European food at the old Kiev. Unfortunately, the Kiev went out of business or otherwise disappeared (a new "fake" Kiev opened in the same place, but the food and prices have no relation to what is now only a fond memory). So, Veselka is the next best thing (I didn't go here as much during college, not because there's anything wrong with the food, but the Kiev was cheaper which makes all of the difference for college kids).


Counter-clockwise from bottom left (ignoring jam and half-and-half): Assorted boiled pierogies, kasha varnishkes, coffee, assorted fried pierogies, and beet salad.

We didn't eat here, but both the name and concept were funny. It seemed like almost everything on the menu had something to do with chocolate, and the owner apparently is quite comfortable with the state of his hair (or lack thereof).

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Chris and Kristine's Wedding

I didn't do a thorough job of documenting the food at the wedding, but here's what I got.


Simon chowing down on a plate of appetizers.

Skip to dessert... this is taro and corn ice cream. Yes, corn! Kristine is Philipino, and apparently this is quite typical for ice cream flavorings. I've seen this and variants ("corn and cheese" ice cream) in Asian markets before but didn't know which ethnic group liked it. Now I know!

Wedding cake.

Post party eats... Yakitori Taisho in the east village. This is a Yakitori joint that we used to frequent a bit in college as well as in grad school when we'd take the train into the city from New Haven. Lots of good eats grilled over charcoal on little skewers. Sauce is very good. This place is so popular they opened up a second location right next door, and both stay plenty busy.

Pommes Frites

After the wedding, but before the reception, we made a detour for Pommes Frites. This tiny shack served Belgium French Fries, and nothing else. Nevertheless, you can see the long line out the door for all of the people wanting double-fried potatoey goodness.

Store front. (You can BYOB from the deli next door.)

Sacks of spuds.

The goods. This is fries with a mango chutney mayonnaise and sambal sauce. My friend Saj introduced us to this combo and it is amazingly good. A good balance of sweet and spicy together with the saltiness of the fries.

NYC Morning Wanderings

The reason we were in NYC anyway was that my good college buddy Chris was getting married. We had saturday morning to wander around, so after some quick yelping for a local bagel joint and a three block walk later...

That's a beautiful slab of smoked salmon.

Lox and cream cheese on an authentic NY bagel. Yum!

We also went through the Union Square Park weekend farmers' market. We didn't really buy anything, but it was fun to wander through.


Indian/Thai-styled eggplants.

I didn't realize the brussel sprouts grew on stalks. $3 a stalk was a pretty good deal as well!

So many different varieties of carrots. Lots of different colors.

Peppers galore!

After some wandering, we spotted a hot dog cart and made another impromptu food purchase.

Mmm... dirty water dogs.

Fully loaded! I don't think I've seen these weird orange onions anywhere but NYC.

NYC pizza. This was unfortunately pretty mediocre.

For old time's sake: Teriyaki Boy! I used to eat this stuff all the time in college.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Dinner with Li Li and Karhan

We had the luxury of staying with Karhan and LiLi in their beautiful condo in Manhattan. We were even luckier to be able to experience LiLi's "tasting menu" which she prepared for us.

Some cocktails to start with. Simple concoction of apple juice, triple sec and freshly squeezed lime juice.

Fresh made pizza appetizer with grilled onions and pecans.

Personal-sized mushroom pouches. Assorted mushrooms with herbs steamed in parchment paper.

Main course. Two preparations of lamb chops (one salt&pepper, the other curry), with green beans and couscous.

Very interesting mango pudding. It's basically just mashed mangoes with a little bit of wasabi (very iron chef).

Dessert drinks. Sago is fun.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Georgia State Fair

The Big Pig Jig didn't really have all that much going on after the BBQ tasting. There were some other booths and stuff, but nothing really that exciting to keep us occupied for another four hours until they got to the official winners announcements. So we just left. On the drive down, we did see a huge state fair, so we went to go check that out.

This was a pretty impressive BBQ stand at the fair (well, it's not technically really BBQ but just a huge grill). My brother says that pictures look better with black bars, so I decided to try it out. I think he's right.

I loved this cheesy, low-budget Pillsbury dough boy knock-off.

This caught my eye. In the south, you can really can go and deep fry just about anything. I hesitated at first, because it just seemed like a bit gratuitous...

But then I thought better of it and went for it (along with some help from Sue). It tastes fine, and is incredibly heavy, but it didn't work as well as I had hoped. The chocolate from the peanut butter cup gets all melty, but the peanut butter part stays in tact. So when you eat it, all of the chocolate oozes out and you concentrate on that just to prevent it from being a mess... consequently when you get to the peanut butter, so don't have much chocolate left. That's unfortunate since the whole point of peanut butter cups is having the mix of the two. The stand also had deep fried twinkees (which I've had before) and deep fried Oreos (might have been good).

They had a 4-H arts and crafts show. I have not idea what category this was under, but I thought it was pretty cute. It's basically parodying the Chic-fil-A ads where the cows are putting up signs that say "Eat Mor Chikin".

By some claim, GA is the "Poultry Capital of the World." I'm not sure I completely buy that, but I did buy a sweet t-shirt proclaiming this assertion.

In "Poultry World," they had some neat displays with hatching eggs, incubators for the newborn chicks, and another area for the slightly older chicks. I'm just pretending to eat the chick; no animals were hurt in the filming of this segment... I'll wait until he's older. :-) Apparently it only takes eight weeks from hatching until they're ready for slaughter. They also had some cool videos showing the equipment in modern poultry processing plants... very automated these days.

We had a good time at the fair. It was probably the largest state fair I've ever been to. Oh yeah, it also rained on us a little bit, but nothing really bad.

Big Pig Jig!

A while ago, I saw some random program on the Food Network, and there was this BBQ contest/festival called the Big Pig Jig. They said it was held in Georgia, so I looked it up and stuck it in my calendar. A few month later, it's BBQ time, so we headed south of Atlanta about 120 miles or so to a tiny town called Vienna. And then it was time for some 'cue.

The entire place mostly consisted of little shacks/mini-structures where the different BBQ teams did their work. Some were very simple, while others were really decked out with multi-story structures.

There was only a two-hour window for "regular folk" (i.e., not official judges) to taste the competition BBQ; this was during the tasting for the people's choice award for best BBQ. A $2 fee got you a plate of 5-6 samples of BBQ, and then you could cast a ballot for whichever one you thought was best. There were over 100 contestants this year, so it wasn't really feasible to actually try all of the entries. I went for a total of three trips, covering 16 different entries. Round 1 shown above.

Round 2.

Round 3.

Me with the goods (and my apropos "Animals Taste Good" t-shirt on). There was quite a variety of styles... some more saucy, some sweeter, some smokier, some drier, some kinda vinegarish, etc.

One of the contestant's cooking area. Kinda wrong having the pig eating his own ribs. Reminded me of the Simpson's episode where Homer's head is a donut and he keeps eating it ("but I'm so sweet and tasty!").

Apple pie and frying! What's more American than that?

It wasn't as fried as I expected though... I thought it would be crunchier/crispier.

Sue got some "Olde Tyme" soda pop. I think she got sassparilla.

Funnel cake.