Thanksgiving I and II

January 11, 2016 § Leave a comment

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday bar-none and this year, I got to celebrate it with good friends (though I’m not a huge fan of the term “Friendsgiving”) and family. For the first event, Artemis went all out (as she often does), rented a beautiful event space in her building and ordered the Momofuku Bo Ssam to-go deluxe package (pork belly buns, bo ssam with sauces and fixings, multiple side dishes and biscuits) to go along with all the other dishes brought by guests (Vanessa brought a huge vat of potato gnocchi with pesto and sun-dried tomato sauce from a mom-and-pop shop in Hoboken that we couldn’t stop eating despite it being such a carb bomb). Bottles of wine and pounds of pork later, we still managed to finish off the party with ridiculous ice cream sandwiches of Momofuku Milk Bar corn cookies and strawberry ice cream.

For actual Thanksgiving, our family goes out to Long Island to see long-time family friends every year and it’s a pretty big affair of three or four families. There’s all of the traditional American dishes (roast turkey, stuffing, gravy, sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese) but also a healthy mix of Chinese dishes as well (braised beef and bean curd, my Dad’s stir-fried vermicelli, steamed whole fish). It’s a night where we really get to relax, slow down a bit and truly appreciate how lucky we are to have our family, friends and good health (which we then make a little bit worse by eating three pies and a Momofuku Milk Bar pumpkin pie cake – you’ll see that Momofuku offerings usually have some appearance at any celebration I attend).

Thanksgiving weekend is also one of the few times a year where going back to New Jersey is not an option, and this time around, I got to catch up with old friends and try some new eateries, including a hole-in-the-wall Baguette Delite in South Edison that serves $5 banh mi’s and super tasty summer rolls. Always nice to get out of New York City and take some extra time to enjoy the simpler things in life.

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Here and there

June 6, 2015 § Leave a comment

Scotch eggs and steak tartare with Christine at Dead Rabbit, where she first told me she was going back to California 😦

A relaxing night in with Spunto

My first time at i Sodi with Artemis – an enormous steak with arugula and rabbit prepared porchetta-style with spinach

Enjoying a beautiful plateau and more oysters at John Dory with Christine and Laura

Trying a new dish of scallop and ham crudo at Momofuku Ssam Bar to celebrate Laura’s decision to attend Yale’s architecture grad program

An old reliable while dining solo – steak tartare and red wine at Blue Ribbon Bakery Kitchen

El Luchador – a new lunch option near the office with outdoor seating

Hot pot during a brief trip back to Edison, NJ

More solo dining while on staycation – the omakase meal at Blue Ribbon Sushi and lunch at the Lupa bar

Shots from the beautiful China: Through the Looking Glass exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (GO)

Pork belly appetizer from Han Dynasty

Christine’s good-bye, hosted by Artemis and one of my favorite wines of the night

Excited about the next few posts coming up…whenever I manage to get to them.

NJ eats

January 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

Thai food at Four Seasons and pizza (including a dynamite eggplant, spinach, mozzarella, and roasted red pepper slice) at Mario’s Famous pizza. Good food with good friends.

End to summer

August 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

There’s still one and half weeks left before school starts up again, but summer is undeniably coming to a close. Some have already left, and I probably won’t see them for another 5-6 months or so. Others are just returning from trips abroad or finally finishing up work, and it’s really a shame that the timing all around didn’t work out better.

Yesterday, though, a group of us did manage to snag a last slice of summer bliss. After two years of discussion, we visited White Manna in Hackensack, NJ to try their no-nonsense sliders, which have had coverage in Food and Wine, Food Network, etc. And while the food was great (smothered onions in the beef, extra meaty flavor imbued from all those layers of previous grease on the griddle, soft and squishy Martin’s potato rolls) and satisfied our high expectations, friends and atmosphere added so much more.

White Manna cheeseburgers

For some odd reason, I felt a strange sense of closure, not to our friendships by any means, but just this chapter in our lives (even though I’d done the whole “graduated college, living on my own” spiel the summer before). It felt almost like one of those cheesy final scenes in movies, where, after a long trip or a huge, tumultuous conflict, two childhood buddies found themselves sitting together at the local diner and nothing else really needed to be said. Things would be ok. Different, maybe, but ok.

Macarons and sushi

January 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

On Monday, Murphy, Anne and I met for sushi at Westfield favorite, Fujiyama Mama. The volcano (fried squid, cucumber, and avocado inside topped with spicy sauce and caviar), dragon roll (eel and cucumber inside topped with avocado), and crunchy spicy salmon roll (spicy salmon with tempura flakes inside) were as good as they’ve always been. And of course, because everything was half-off, paying only about $11 for all three regular-sized rolls made the sushi taste even better. Only after moving to Ithaca for law school did I realize how spoiled we are in terms of high-quality but cheap sushi.

However, nothing could really compare to dessert. Murphy had just returned from a trip to Paris and brought back French-style macarons from none other than Pierre Hermé, pastry-making extraordinaire. Flavors included were white truffle with hazelnuts (my favorite), chocolate and passionfruit, olive oil and mandarin, rose, salted caramel, peach saffron, and classic chocolate. Although they suffered a little from sitting in the box for several days, these macarons were definitely the best I’ve had in a very, very long time, with only La Maison du Chocolat’s version coming in a far-off second.

Then yesterday, Phil, Jiawen, Murphy, and I braved the still-falling snow and headed to Sushi Palace for the all-you-can-eat sushi buffet. Luckily, because of the weather, we were basically the only ones in the restaurant, so even though that meant we could hear the super-cheesy 80’s music loud and clear, the service was very quick and friendly. Considering the amount of food we ate, $23 for each of us including tax and tip was still a helluva deal.

Fujiyama Mama
341 South Ave E
Westfield, NJ 07090
908.232.6598
www.fujiyamamama.net

Sushi Palace
1089 Inman Ave
Edison, NJ 08820
908.822.8886
http://sushipalace.net/home

Penang and The Bent Spoon

May 25, 2010 § Leave a comment

Before graduation, Tiff, Murphy and I went to Penang for lunch before going to The Bent Spoon in Princeton for some frozen goodness with Rob and Tonia.

I don’t go to Penang often at all, but one thing I never fail to order is the roti canai. Warm flaky pita-ish bread dipped in rich savory curry is a match made in heaven. My shrimp and pork noodle soup fell a little bit flat – pork was really dry and the noodles were slightly gummy, but I didn’t really care since I knew we’d be in for a treat later.

The Bent Spoon is a cute little ice cream/baked goods shop located in Palmer Square right across from Princeton University’s campus. Everything about it is tiny and adorable, but the ice cream is SERIOUS. Deep Sicilian blood orange, the nuttiest hazelnut, creamy coconut, and tart raspberry sorbet. On a day that was pretty warm but not quite humid, it was the perfect indulgence as we sat outside and sampled each of the flavors. I think I may have had too much of Rob’s hazelnut because he was bitter about it later, but I never let anything get between me and whatever I want to eat, I didn’t really care.

Bent Spoon also has a pretty good assortment of huge, soft cookies (the triple chocolate chunk was, of course, my favorite) and mini cupcakes, which I have yet to try. I guess that just means we’ll have to go back sometime soon.

The Bent Spoon
35 Palmer Square West
Princeton, NJ
609.924.2368

Something else I realized and have to fix this summer: I’ve been super lazy about categorizing entries and including addresses of all the places I’ve visited (which I’d imagine would be useful information)…so the goal is to finish organizing all of that by the end of the summer. Hah!

Dinner at Hunan House with Em and Jayme

April 5, 2010 § Leave a comment

As mentioned earlier, my roommate Em and her friend Jayme stayed with us over Easter. For our last dinner together, our family brought them to an authentic Chinese meal at one of our favorite restaurants near Edison called Hunan House.

Initially, we were a bit worried whether Em and Jayme would be able to eat everything since Hunanese food is traditionally extremely spicy, almost burn-your-tongue-off spicy, so we tried to balance all the searing stir fry and fish dishes with a lot of cool greens, like dry-fried string beans and sauteed pea shoots (so sweet!).

Surprisingly, they were able to handle everything we put in front of them, including the steamed bass drowning in chilis and the super hot lamb and parsley stir fry (my personal favorite).

We ended our meal with a real treat, sugared taro. I’d only had this twice before (both times in China) and I’d never seen it at Chinese restaurants in the U.S. The cook takes cubes of taro (a purple root that sort of resembles sweet potato in texture) and deep fries them in near-boiling caramelized sugar. To eat the dish, you take a golden, sticky cube of taro and dunk it in ice cold water so the sugar instantly freezes and hardens and take a bite while at the same time praying that your mouth isn’t singed by the still scalding taro inside.

Hunan House’s version was delicious; you could tell from how quickly we ate every piece. By the end, there was a net of caramelized sugar all over the table, since it tends to stretch from piece to piece as it starts to cool.

Tapas party at Phil’s

August 3, 2009 § Leave a comment

My friend Phil recently got his entire kitchen renovated (it’s soooo beautiful!) so a bunch of us invited ourselves over there to cook up some Spanish tapas dishes. Needless to say, after three hardworking, sweaty hours, and two rounds of delicious food (and before we were even able to get to the churros and Spanish hot chocolate), we were gut-bustingly full on gambas al ajillo (shrimp with garlic), patatas bravas (crispy, peasant-style potatoes dipped in tomato sauce), and other dishes. And I just wanted to thank everyone for putting up with me barking orders at them, especially Phil, who had his kitchen taken over by a food-obsessed mad woman and his parents who trusted that we wouldn’t destroy their house, and Julia, who took all the pictures while I was running around the kitchen.

Menu

 

  • Spicy and candied almonds
  • Gambas al ajillo, shrimp with garlic
  • Sauteed wild and cultivated mushrooms with parsley
  • Patatas bravas, peasant style potatoes
  • Pan con tomate, bread with tomato rub
  • Espinacas a la catalana (Spinach Catalan-style)
  • Steak au poivre (which, yes, is French and really had no business being there but we needed beef)
  • Sangria

The shrimp, potatoes, and steak (no surprise with this meat and taters loving group) were the biggest hits of the night but what made me happiest was everyone seemed to be eating everything. Even the spinach wasn’t neglected.

Dimsum at A-K (formerly known as 1-9) Seafood

January 8, 2009 § Leave a comment

I’m back on the Hilltop and already missing home. In my first class on Keats and Shelley, our professor (who by the way had a posh British accent) handed out Keats’ “On first reading Chapman’s Homer” and asked us to write about one rhetorical device that “contributed to the poem’s overall meaning.” EH? I’m definitely not in study mode yet, so that was quite the rude awakening.

I was organizing the pictures that I took over break, and when I got to these dimsum pictures, I was salivating. CHINESE FOOD I’M GOING TO MISS YOU. A-K was formerly known as 1-9 because it was located at the juncture of Routes 1 and 9. Yeah, the owners weren’t too creative with the original title; I’m wondering why A-K for the new one. Anyway, I laughed when I saw the new sign where they just taped over the original name.

They offer your typical dimsum dishes, and that’s what makes it so great, in my opinion. Hardly ever does my family order something new. We go to A-K because we have certain expectations and we know they’re going to deliver. For example, their honeycomb tripe with radishes is spicy and tender and every fried dish they serve is surprisingly light and wonderfully seasoned. I also suggest any of their delicate shrimp dumplings as well as the egg tarts. YUM.

For all those living near Edison (or Avenel where it’s actually located) or somehow visiting (though there’s really not much here except ethnic restaurants and malls), I’d highly recommend it.

 

A-K Seafood Restaurant (a.k.a. 1-9)
1021 Route 1-9, Avenel, NJ

Christmas dinner

December 30, 2008 § Leave a comment

Last year, winter break was fairly mellow and unchaotic. It mainly consisted of hanging out with high school friends and then spending time with family at home, but all of a sudden this year, I feel like we’ve been going to family friend gathering after family friend gathering. I’m never really too enthusiastic about these huge reunions where the parents spend hours reminiscing and chatting while the offspring has to watch movies, but the food is always pretty good. And if there’s good food, I’m content.

A couple nights ago, we hosted one such potluck get-together at our house, something we haven’t done in a really long time. It was a blend between American comfort food and Chinese home-cooked dishes, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen that much food eaten in such a short period of time. Favorites [though all were delicious] were the pork belly with mushrooms that my mom made, the giant baby back ribs slathered in a spicy bbq sauce, and even though no one made this, the Godiva double chocolate cheesecake that had a layer of mousse on top. I woke up the next morning and I was still full.

One dish that I did throw together another day was the brussel sprouts. We didn’t have any veg for dinner, so I looked in the fridge and pulled out those three ingredients, thinking the pepperoni was close enough to bacon [which is what most people would usually use] that it would crisp up nicely if browned beforehand. Success!

I don’t really know the measurements I used but it was incredibly easy. I diced one onion, quartered a couple giant handfuls of pepperoni and then quartered one of those tubs of brussel sprouts from the grocery store. Dunk the sprouts in boiling water until they become bright green and take them out immediately and put them in an ice bath. I think boiled brussel sprouts taste absolutely awful.

In the meantime, heat a tiny eensy weensy bit of olive oil in a sautee pan, add the pepperoni and let it crisp. When that’s done, add the onions and sautee them until they start to sweat. Add the brussel sprouts and sautee them til they start to brown a little. Salt and pepper to taste and you’re done!

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