Sushi Tei Bento Lunches

Albany John and I got some take out bento lunches from Sushi Tei. They have some cheap lunch specials, but they don’t sacrifice quality for price.

He ordered the Ton Katsu Box ($6.95). It’s a fried pork cutlet battered in panko. Good stuff – it was a large cutlet, moist and juicy on the inside, sitting on a bed of shredded daikon.

The bentos are attractively packaged in a disposable plastic bento. If this type of plastic weren’t too much of a pain to get clean, I’d keep them and reuse them. This would probably be kind of ghetto, so I’m glad I don’t. I should keep an eye out for proper bento boxes for sale.

The bentos also come with rice, salad, miso soup, and the appetizer of the day. This day we were quite lucky! It’s usually something fried, but this was beyond “just fried”. It was a taro croquette with shiitake mushrooms in it and I could easily have eaten another five of them.

The taro was mashed into a soft silkiness, with tiny bits of (dried, reconstituted) shiitake mushrooms adding body and flavor. Fried to perfection without being the least bit greasy, it was so wonderful. I’d love to learn how to make it.

I ordered the Grilled Shrimp-Yaki Box ($7.95). It always seemed interesting, and man do I love shrimp. (I would have ordered a roll combo, but I’m still trying to shake a cold and my tastebuds have been fading in and out).

This consisted of buttery grilled shrimp, with lo-mein noodles, broccoli, and some carrots hidden under the noodles. The shrimp and noodles had a charred flavor like you’d expect from a hibachi grill, not at all unpleasant. My shrimp were overcooked and slightly mealy, but still enjoyable. Everything was slathered with a tart buttery sauce, and more sauce came on the side. That sauce could resolve any crisis. I dipped everything possible in to it. So good. The shrimp may have overcooked as a hazard of being take out (covered plastic dish + hot food + time = no good), but I’m not ruling out the possibilty that the dish might come that way (all of the hibachi food I’ve ever eaten, sadly, means overcooked).

I thought the noodles were a little overkill, considering the box also came with rice. Still, based on the sauce that came with the yaki… dude I will order this again. I dipped a strip of pork katsu in there and guess what? ALSO AWESOME!

Oh, oh, and those yellow things in the center? Pickled daikon! How cute, right? A nice way to end the meal.

Raw Zucchini & Carrot Salad. Kind of.

Summer time seems like a good time to venture into the world of raw foods. My sister’s a raw food vegan who doesn’t eat tomatoes and waffles on nuts, which means ‘cooking’ a meal for her can be a pain in the ass sometimes. I say that with love. More power to you if you love the raw food diet, but I don’t like restricting what I eat. TASTY FOODS ARE MY DIET. Raw, cooked, whatever, it’s all good to me.

Some things I find to be a bit silly with raw food, like not cooking your food, but some recipes say it’s okay to heat things as long as they don’t reach past 110 or so degrees. Either cook it or don’t right? Oh, and dehydrators are okay, too? I mean, I get where they’re going with it, but it seems like an awful lot of wasted energy for food that doesn’t change all that much… m foray into raw food (beside sashimi) is going to not be 100% raw. I have way too short of an attention span.

I mean, I also love using my microwave and will never stop using butter, so it’s not like I’m perfect to raw food peeps either. OH MY GOSH, and COOKIES. WHAT ABOUT COOKIES?! I JUST REALIZED COOKIES ARE BAKED!!! Raw foodies, I will fail you at every turn. Look, agree to disagree, ‘kay? JUST BE HAPPY WITH MY BABY STEPS.

I made a raw zucchini and carrot salad. Those components were raw. I just used my vegetable peeler to make the long ribbons. Very little waste. And my sister would be happy to know I used zucchini from the co-op, so I won’t turn my brain into stupid-goo with pesticides. I’m kind of convinced she thinks it’s gonna happen.

Any way, so carrots and zucchini. Then a sauce. I called up the co-op to see if their tahini was raw. It’s not. They always sound so apologetic when they have to say no. “I’m sorry, none of our tahini is raw. We can’t find any. I’m sorry.

Whatever! I just want this to taste good, so I did tahini, sugar, soy sauce, lime juice, rice wine vinegar, shiro miso, and some water. So I pretty much covered it in a ton of non-raw things. I think this is okay because they were in my pantry, so I’m not running out buying new, expensive things that I’m not gonna use that often. I bought some raw almond butter to use in a recipe for my sister, and GOOD LORD that stuff is expensive. And not that tasty. Not much flavor at all. It was like $6+ for half a pint.

Then I tossed it with some sunflower seeds for a texture contrast, and pulled some fresh cilantro out of a window container.

Raw zucchini noodles are tasty. I thought it would have a dry, bitter mouthfeel like eggplant, but cut up into thin strips, it was vegetally refreshing. However, if they were just plain raw zucchini “noodles”, it would get boring quickly. Sauce was definitely necessary, and I really recommend the cilantro to brighten things up if you have it. Just add the sauce ingredients to taste – it added some zip to everything and made it feel more like a dish. I wouldn’t say a meal… I used 2 zucchinis, and it was like a really big but unfilling appetizer for Albany John and me.

I’d bring this for a summer side dish to a picnic or something. It’s not like you’d have to worry much about it since it’s uncooked and all.

A Weird Food A Week

I’m going to try and eat one vegetable or fruit I’ve never had before each week.

I’m also lucky enough to have a personal chef (husbear Albany John) who can make just about anything taste great.

So last week I tried Oyster Mushrooms. I have only tried them once before, but never at home. Albany John sautéed them with some butter and salt. They had much more chew than regular button mushrooms, and tons more earthy flavor. Lovely. I look forward to eating these again. I don’t think they taste all that oyster-y, but definitely a hint or two there. Which is good for me. I’m not a big fan of oysters.


Kohlrabi. It’s a shitty picture – I was hungry and losing light. I was also unsure about this one, but Albany John explained that it tasted like the best part of broccoli – the stalks. IT DOES!
I might be the only one who thinks this, but I love the crunchy stalks of broccoli way better than the florets. The florets get too mushy for me. Albany John stir-fried some kohlrabi with zucchini and garlic scapes – I ate over half of the really big plate! So good.

The only down side is kohlrabi isn’t going to make me a popular lady… does anyone else get a little pooty from this veggie? I guess that’s where it gains some of its cabbage-like comparisons from.
Oh yeah, I got both of these at the Asian Supermarket on Central Ave. I think the oyster mushrooms were on sale.

Footsy Magoos

On Sunday Artsy Designer Friend was working, so we met up him for lunch in Troy. I know Troy’s not really busy on Sundays, but jeeze – it was really quiet.

We met up at Old San Juan Cuisine (387 3rd Street, Troy, NY). I only recently heard about it, and HELLO, YES PUERTO RICAN FOOD!

“OH HELL NO ALBANY JANE!! NO PUERTO RICAN FOOD FOR YOU!” Laughed Google.
I should have called ahead, but instead I trusted Google’s hours of operation. I trusted you, Google.

Here’s the inside of Old San Juan from what I snapped after pathetically pressing my face and camera up on the glass, hoping that I would magically see someone. But I called up, and they’re open tomorrow (Tuesday), so man, I might have to check them out for dinner. Their facebook pictures look mouthwatering.

We got back in our cars and headed for Monument Square to try and find something do-able. Artsy Designer Friend is also celiac, otherwise I would have been pushing for Red Front.

HEY LOOK WHO’S OPEN! It’s Footsy Magoo’s (17 1st St, Troy, NY). They don’t have a lot of info up online, but they’re right around River St and 1st St (on the corner), across from the YWCA.

Albany John loves Footsy Magoo’s because they have skii ball. For $0.25. I like the high ceilings, and fully stocked bar. Yum. They must have a tall ladder to write on those pipes above!

The interior has tons of kitchy decorations all over the walls, like an Operation board game, gold spray-painted shoes, and stars chalked all over.

The kitchen is separate from the bar (cafeteria style) so order up around the staircase.

I didn’t catch the bartender’s name, but she was awesome. She helped craft up something for ADF to eat, since he can’t do the gluten thing. She really seemed to care for her patrons, went above and beyond to make sure everyone was comfortable, and gave Footsy Magoo’s a homey vibe. I think that’s the difference between people who see the service industry as a quick way to make money, and people who also see it as a career.

These were on the special board for $0.25 each. And I was having a wicked Reese’s craving the day before. ADF got four of them. I lurve them. So peanutty and salty-sweet. I wanted at least 8 more on my way out, but whoops, I forgot!

Here are some nachos our awesome bartendress thought up – shrimp nachos! She told the kitchen how to make them, and only charged ADF $7, which seemed quite reasonable and nice.

There was sogginess at the bottom, but ADF ate the whole plate quite happily.


Albany John had a great Manhattan. So well made – a really refreshing and well made whiskey drink for a Sunday afternoon.

I felt like drinking bottled beers, and they were nice and cold!


I forget what the name of this sandwich was, but it is ham, brie, guacamole, and veggies. YUM, major yum. I got it on a wrap (normally it’s flat bread, but they were out – either way, works for me). Great combination of all flavors – they all blended together for one tasty sandwich.

I liked that the ham was thickly sliced. Way better than thin deli ham. Really gave the sandwich some body.

Albany John got the Shea. It was rare roast beef, horseradish mayo, tomato, and brie. It was on toasted bread (he got rye). I’m not sure if the whole sandwich was supposed to be hot, or what, but the bread was lightly toasted on the outside (kind of like a panini), and the insides were cool. I liked it. The beef stayed rare, and man, brie + horseradish mayo… Footsy Magoo’s might just turn me into liking mayo. Just maybe. It was meaty and creamy in all the right ways.

Sandwiches are $8.00, and come with major handfuls of kettle chips.


Our bill for 3 drinks and 2 sandwiches was $31. Not too shabby, Footsy Magoo’s!
We left their nice and chilly AC to walk back to our cars in the humidity that typifies Summer In New York. Can you tell how steamy it looks in Monument Square?
I know I’ll be headed back to Footsy Magoo’s – it seems like a great spot to leisurely enjoy a Sunday afternoon, or head out and spend the evening for drinks. Albany John is already jostling his handful of quarters in my ears going “Skii ball. Skii ball. Skii ball…”

Art on Lark, Sausages, & Farmers Markets

Saturday was Art On Lark! Lark Street is closed off from traffic, and the streets are lined with vendors, musicians, and family friendly activities. It’s a really lovely way to spend the day.

I usually just attend, but this year I decided to volunteer, too. I was there early in the morning to help with the initial set up. It didn’t take up too much time at all, and I was glad to be able to help out and have a good time.

It was still really quiet when I was done helping around 10 am when it officially started. No music, not too many people – it was the quiet before the storm.

I really liked this terrarium vendor’s goods. Especially the hanging glass terrariums.

I was also getting over (or trying to) being sick. I pumped myself full of Dayquil and hoped for the best. I made it through my volunteering just fine (and thankfully it was light work), but shortly afterward I lost steam.

I bought an iced chai at Scratch for $3. It’s weird – I know Scratch has been around for a while, but whenever I go in I just don’t find anything in their display to look all that appetizing.
I found out the amazingly decadent treats at Romaine Brooks Gallery (on First Friday) are from Scratch, and decided to give them another go on Saturday. Same deal – the treats in the fridge display looked a little dried out. The mufins looked moist, but I’m not much of a muffin person, so I just went with a drink.
The chai was exactly what I was hoping for – sweet, cooling, really refreshing. I was initially kind of bummed to see it come out of a box (I mean, $3 for something from a box?), but it was just what I was hoping for: really tasty. I’ll keep an eye out for the box at the Co-Op to make at home. I got it with soy milk – I like the chalkiness soy milk adds to chai.
And then I turned into a zombie and Albany John walked me around Art on Lark and the side streets for a little bit before I demanded SAUSAGES (I’m a food zombie when I’m sick) from Rolf’s Pork Store. They have the BEST sausages in the area. And smoked meats too, but I’m all about their sausages.

You can see the guy at the counter caught me taking a picture!

And then I demanded we go to the Menands Farmers Market. It was a little late, so things were winding down there. For some reason when I’m sick, I get it in my head that one perfect food exists that will make me all better. There isn’t, but I end up stuffing our fridge with groceries when I start feeling sick.

After that, I decided I needed EMPANADAS. EMPANADAS WILL CURE MY SICKNESS. So we went to the Troy Farmers Market.

I ran into Joe & Nora! They thoroughly lambasted me for not attending the previous day’s Troy Night Out, and then got in line for some food.


Oh Magdalena’s – how I love yew! If there was something that could clear my clogged head, it had to be Magdalena’s! There was a huge line when we got there too – people are quick to find the good eats!

Got a watermelon agua fresca for $1.50. Good price there – it was so light and refreshing. Basically, like pureed watermelon.

$3.50 might seem steep for one empanada, but it also comes piled high with black beans, cheese, greens, and tomatoes. Plus salsas on the side. It’s also one pretty big empanada, too.

I also added all of the spicy condiments that I could. Boy did they make me feel better! The red might seem like it would be the hotter one, but the green salsa is the one that really packs the heat.
We found a spot to sit in the shade by the river. I love running in to friends like that!
After all that excitement (you’d think I was turning 85) I went home and napped.

And then woke up and ate sausages and some salmon (Hannaford had wild caught sockeye on sale last week).
Oh Rolf’s sausages. You are so good. So, so good.
Oh yeah! I also got some greenery at the Troy Farmers Market. Kale! I usually hate the stuff, but guess what? THEY ARE AWESOME AS CHIPS. Just rub them with a bit of olive oil, season em’, and bake them under 300F until they crisp up. ADDICTIVE AND HEALTHY.

Mmmm, garlic brats. The garlic sausages were huge! But somehow Albany John and I made our way through them.

So good, and then I fell into a food coma and slept for another 12 hours.

Under $1 per pound

I found this list of foods for under $1/lb. I thought it was pretty good, and wanted to make a comparable list of foods under $1/lb available in the Albany, NY area.

Foods You Can Find For $1/lb or Less In Albany, NY

Dried Beans – Save-A-Lot has bags of beans for $0.99 per pound. Not the Goya brand (although they are around $1.29 per pound). The Co-Op also runs dried bean specials that can run under $1/lb.
Dried Lentils, Split peas
Carrots – Most grocery stores average under $0.75 per pound.
Onions – Now that the onion shortage is over, you can find onions for under $1/lb. This may mean buying them in multiple-pound baggies.
Potatoes – If you pay over $1/lb for these, you’re doing it wrong.
Sweet Potatoes – $0.59 for gigantic yam/sweet potatoes at the Co-Op
Yucca – $0.99 at ethnic markets in the area, $0.79/lb at Save-A-Lot
Bananas – $0.39/lb for the very ripe bananas at the Co-Op, and 3 lbs/$1 at Save-A-Lot. Hannaford usually has them for around $0.59-0.69/lb, too.
Rice
Cornmeal
Pasta – The big 5 # bags of spaghetti at Hannaford are under $0.70/lb. Most of their smaller boxed selections are $0.99 or less per one pound box.
Cabbage – The Co-Op offers local green cabbage for $0.49/lb. Save-A-Lot also offers cabbage on the cheap. Honestly, most cabbage won’t run you over $1/lb
Apples – we live in NY, land of many apples. The Co-Op sells 3 pound baggies for $2.49 and are subject to seasonal availability.
Chicken – Hannaford has sales for $0.99/lb breast meat and whole roasters, and lower prices for dark meat cuts. Save-A-Lot has 10 # frozen bags of chicken legs for $4.80.
Frozen Vegetables – I generally get broccoli at Hannaford, for $0.99 per lb baggie. Save-A-Lot also has veggies, but their quality is lower.
Chinese Cabbage – Napa still rings in under $1/lb at local Asian grocery stores. Better yet are sales the Asian Food Market on Colvin Ave occasionally has on other Chinese green veggies.
Cauliflower
Canned Tomatoes – I get the large 32 oz cans at Hannaford.
Beets – The Co-Op has local beets for $0.99/lb
Bean Sprouts – every single Asian grocery store in the area has them. Mung bean sprouts are $0.75/lb or less, and soy bean sprouts (the bigger yellow sprouts) are $0.99/lb
Pears – $0.99 at many places in the summer months.
Oats
Eggs
Corn – when it goes on crazy sale, like 6 for $2 or something. Crazy cheap. (Also, frozen)+
Sour Cream
Yogurt – go for the big tubs

Like the Jeff Yeager, the initial writer of the under $1/lb list, I have some caveats:

This is a list for people who might think produce is too expensive to buy. It’s not, so if you’d otherwise be buying Cheeze Doodles, consider something from the above list (but if you do get the Cheeze Doodles, get the crunchy ones).

I try and sticks to a low food-shopping budget, and these help me do so in the area without going broke. The foods on here are obviously not organic, as you can pretty much pay as much as you’d like when it comes to organic food. But they are fresh, and local when I can find it.

I am generally an advocate of a vegetarian/vegan diet when one cannot afford meat. I think more humanely raised meat tastes better than factory farmed meat, but I have been lucky enough to have the opportunity and income to try these more expensive meats. However, I’ve also lived through periods of time where one factory-farmed chicken was an immense treat, and something to be celebrated.

The best places for cheap produce in the area are generally going to be your larger ethnic markets, or non-chain supermarkets. Think Asian Food Market (which also offers a 5% student discount), Asian Supermarket, and Sabah Market. Save-A-Lot is a discount supermarket chain that offers limited selection of food in comparison to larger retailers like Hannaford. I generally make Hannaford my last-stop for grocery shopping for things I couldn’t flesh out at cheaper markets. The Co-Op may seem like it will be expensive, but many local and in season products are surprisingly affordable.

Macarons

Oh, I get it now. The whole macaron craze, I mean.

Macarons are just excuses to eat gobs of filling encased in a shell. It’s a super-gooey and fatty cookie. Why didn’t anyone tell me this before?

Nic & E made macarons, and they said they didn’t do many of the suggested things for making macarons. They were still wildly successful. I took inspiration from them and decided to make macarons in one day.

Here was my recipe for the Macaron Batter/Dough:

3 egg whites + 50 g granulated sugar

200 g powdered sugar +110 g almonds

You know the drill by now: let the eggs age at room temp a while, then whip them until they’re stiff and foamy, slowly adding the granulated sugar. Then make a fine powder with almonds and powdered sugar.

Okay, so I am too impulsive to let egg white sit out for 24-48 hours for the sole purpose of making macarons. I saw something online about microwaving the egg whites for 10 seconds to remove excess moisture, and guess what? IT FREAKING WORKS.

I microwaved the egg whites for 10 seconds initially after separating them from the yolks and putting them in a container. Then I let it sit out for an hour or so in my living room (with the fan on) while I putzed around. I microwaved it for 10 more seconds later. My microwave isn’t very strong, and there was no noticeable difference in the eggs.

Oh, and the recipes I was going off of called for 90 g of egg whites, but my 3 eggs yielded 98 g. No adverse reactions here.

My hoarding powers came in handy and I had some slivered almonds in the freezer. I asked Albany John for help in blending them with his food processor. He loves that appliance. It blended most of them, but after sifting it into the egg mixture, there were some bits that had to go back and get blended a little more (too large and chunky). I added a little more powdered sugar to help it blend cohesively, and it worked just fine.

I left these to sit in our windy living room to dry out for a little under an hour. Midway through Family Guy Albany John goes “Um, aren’t you going to bake these?”

They really firmed up! They had a hard, dry shell I could poke and not get a sticky finger from.

I had my oven preheating at 300 F. I had 2 levels. One closer to the bottom, and one closer to the top. I placed two on the top rack and one on the bottom rack.

The bottom rack was too hot. These burned and generally turned into rejectarons after 5 minutes of baking. The burned parts in the background stuck aggressively to the parchment paper, but the ones in the foreground easily came off.

It seems like burning messes with the sugar in these delicate little cookies. Overbake and they’ll stick. Cook them just right and they’ll slide right off. The overbaking worked out just fine though. The crappy burnt parts stuck, leaving ugly but tasty shells.

The top racks baked up as picture-perfect as I could have hoped. Dude, they even poofed up to have the poofy bottom part (the “feet”, ew. I’m calling them poofy bottoms).

My track record with meringues is terrible – I have failed at pretty much every other instance of whipped egg baking. I suck at even making macaroons in all of their coconutty goodness, so I pretty much figured I was screwed in the finicky macaron baking. But hey, I guess as long as you don’t hope for much, you’re good! It probably also helps that I had no real motivation to do them other than ‘because’. I’m sure I would have had a burnt, soggy pile of rejectarons if I was making these for friends.


TA DA! Nous avons macarons! I decided to jazz up the filling with black sesame powder. Other than that it’s a basic buttercream frosting recipe, with the addition of black sesame powder. Powdered sugar, butter, black sesame powder, milk. Fin.

I made way too much icing, so the rejectarons also got filled. NO MACARON, HOWEVER CRAPPY, WILL GO TO WASTE. SO HELP ME. The rejectarons were probably my favorite, because their cracked and gappy bottoms meant MORE ICING.

The ideal macarons could only handle a little blop of icing. But some of these guys could take upwards of a tablespoon.

Also, were macarons created as vessels for delicious fillings? Because I really didn’t taste much of the shell. The rejectaron above is overbaked and not very good looking. But guess what?


When you fill it up with an insane amount of frosting, it doesn’t matter. Like, at all.

Father’s Day Weekend

Fathers Day weekend began around noon-time Saturday at 102 Central Ave, Albany, NY, waiting for the newest cheap bus competitor, NYCityBus. $10 for a one way ticket, and $15 for round trip tickets!

Albany John and I were headed down to Flushing to see my Dad and Yeh-Yeh for an early Fathers Day dinner later in the day.

The storefront isn’t much to look at, but you’ll see enough posters flyered all over the building. Can’t miss it. The bus came, we loaded up, and they played Repo Men (about the body part reposessors) on the bus for the ride down. Lucky me had some reading to catch up on, so I didn’t really watch it (wasn’t that great of a movie any way). The ride itself was fine. Some traffic hitting the Lincoln Tunnel, but overall we were still there within 3-3.5 hours. Respectable time to get into Manhattan from Albany.

Some of the people on the bus were annoying: loud, and shouting at the driver to take a different path when we hit traffic. Dude, it was only like 20-30 minutes extra. It wouldn’t have been bad if it was just an inital gripe or two, but some guys kept going for basically the entire time we started the approach into the tunnel until we got off of the bus. IT’S TRAFFIC IN MANHATTAN. IT HAPPENS A LOT. Well, I guess you get the loud and cheap crowd on the cheap-o bus, right?

After hopping on the 7 train we headed over to Flushing. Long ride since it only runs local on the weekend, but we made it there to see Yeh-Yeh, my Uncle, Dad, & Dad’s Beautiful Girlfriend, and head over to Mellie’s Seafood Restaurant in Flushing, Queens for an early dinner.

We got much better seating than when we were here for Chinese New Year. We sat under the phoenix, not in the corner by the TVs and bathrooms.

Mellie’s is Yeh-Yeh’s spot. He’s here all the time. I think they opened up within the past year and he’s been here ever since. The managers and wait staff all seem to fawn over him – not too visit a place where grandpa is VIP!

He wanted a bottle of wine to go with dinner. No one’s really a big red wine expert, but Yeh-Yeh decided we had to have red wine this time. I think we all normally like sweet whites, but okie dokie!

Albany John steered them toward this bottle in the liquor store on our walk from Yeh-Yeh’s condo to Mellie’s. Campo Viejo Reserva 2005 Tempranillo. I think reds are so-so/yuck, unless it’s a tempranillo. They’re smoother and sweeter, and this was quite enjoyable as well. Really well rounded with almost no bitterness to me.

Okay, on to the food! Chicken. This had a nice & crispy skin and the meat was very tender and moist.

Beef with bitter melon. Nice smoky flavor to the beef. My Dad mentioned that they use caustic soda (baking soda) to tenderize it the beef before stir frying it. I’ll have to give it a try. There were some black beans tossed in, and the bitter melon wasn’t all that bitter. I think they might have par-boiled it before stir frying.

Honey Walnut Shrimp. Jumbo shrimp babies that were deep fried and covered with some sweet honey mayo sauce, candied walnuts and steamed broccoli.

I’ll usually eat this dish for the shrimp, but I was surprised with how well the flavors melded here at Mellie’s. The mayo wasn’t too mayo-y, but rather a creamy substance that made this dish decadently rich.

This dish made me rethink the so-so standing it held in my head from Chinese New Year (after all, Yeh-Yeh likes good food). I think Chinese New Year’s okay-but-not-great food was a fluke. Mellie’s has some quality eats.

Stuffed tofu & seafood! The tofu bricks were stuffed with small shrimp before being fried. There were scallops, squid (or maybe cuttlefish), and mixed vegetables in the center. So good! They were all so soft and meltingly tender, even the squid/cuttlefish.

Best spinach I’ve ever had at a Chinese restaurant. It was lightly cooked, and still had a little bit of its natural sweet green bite. A refreshing dish of pure veggies to eat with the rest of our heavier foods. I really want this again.

Whole Flounder. WHY HAVE I NEVER HAD THIS BEFORE?!?!!? It was amazing! If you’re at Mellie’s GET THIS DISH. There were sauteed bits of flounder and veggies. Soft, tender… yeah, yeah, they were great, but the real star is the DEEP FRIED FISH SKELETON underneath all of those soft fresh flounder bits. It was like a fish pork rid, no – a fish chicharron. The bones were crunchy and edible when fried with the remaining bits of skin and meat left on the fish carcass. This portions of the fried fish that were under the cooked flounder were moist and had a chewy texture, which was also fun, but oh man, that crunchy, crunchy fish body was so addictive and could not be beat.

It was definitely a knock-out dish I’m glad I tried. I’m going to be on the look out for it in the area. I’m definitely addicted. FISH RINDS. HOW COULD IT NOT BE AWESOME?!
Oranges and sweet red bean soup for dessert. A brisk walk back to the condo, and …

Asian Story Time!: On the walk to Mellie’s Yeh-Yeh was telling me how I looked like I hadn’t gained weight and stayed in good shape (I’m guessing since I didn’t immediately plump up after getting married?). On the walk back to his condo, we passed a cutesy little clothing store, and after I said how tiny the clothes were, he was all “Yeah, they too small for you. You no fit.”
There was also a Sanrio kind of store on the way back, and Dad and DBG walked in and got me a HELLO KITTY FAN! EEEEeeeeEEE!!! It came with a USB cord, and it WORKS OFF OF A COMPUTER!!! Guess where I’m going to be this summer? Not sweating like crazy in front of my laptop!
Yeh-Yeh popped a bottle of Hennessy VSOP (he’s pimpin’ like that) and we sipped out of cute little glasses while cooing over pictures of Bro & Margarita’s little Squiddo. I’m not normally a cognac fan, but this was really smooth straight up with some enjoyable notes while sipping. And at any rate, it could have been Crystal Palace and I would have had it – you do not say no to Yeh-Yeh.

My Dad was gracious enough to give Albany John and me a ride to the UES to spend the night with Manhattan Maka and CVS. Gotta fit in all the family time you can when you’re in the city, right? Before then we stopped off at Shiro Kia Supermarket and picked up some goodies (well, Dad got food, I begged off some snacky junk food).

There’s also this Korean liquor store nearby too. I forgot its name, but it’s next to the Bakery de Paris (which I think is also Korean). They have a decent selection of liquors and wines, but also have more Korean beverages than I have ever seen before. I couldn’t help myself and picked up a few little bottles of sweet looking things. This was a raspberry ‘wine’ at around 17% ABV. 99 Bokbunjajoo.
It was delicious, but could really sneak up on someone! Manhattan Maka and I really liked it. The next time I drive down I plan on heading back to this liquor store and stocking up.

A snacky goodie – green tea mochi! It was strongly flavored – no searching for green tea flavor here. It was a 6 pack and only $1.29! Manhattan Maka taught me a trick – they were great in the freezer for an hour before eating.

The next morning we went back to Flushing to have dim sum with Yeh Yeh and my Uncle. Yep, to Mellie’s. Look, I told you that you can’t say no to Yeh-Yeh. We weren’t sure if we’d be able to make it, but you know… can’t say no.

Being Fathers Day proper, there was one heck of a crowd inside.

Here are the only three white people in the restaurant: CVS, Manhattan Maka, and Albany John standing by the fresh fish tanks. Technically, there were 3.5 whities in the restaurant counting myself. But other than that, the crowd was entirely Asian.
I even saw a few fat Chinese ladies! I don’t know why, but I felt a little more normal after seeing them. One of them was even tall – about my height. Growing up I did not see any fat asian ladies, so I always felt like the odd duck. Pudgy halfsie asian girl, when all the other (two) asian girls in my school were super skinny and petite. So hey, guess what – if you’re a chubby 12 year old asian kid – you are not alone! There are other chubbers out there too! Wave your arm flub with pride!

We got seated after waiting a little bit (I bet it helps that Yeh-Yeh’s a regular, too!) and had a primo table that all of the carts passed by. They were so packed that some people were running out to the carts from the corner tables (I guess they carts didn’t come as frequently).
L-R above: tripe and turnip stew, steamed spare ribs, and stuffed eggplant. Yum!
I don’t normally like tripe/cow stomach, but this was all about the texture (kind of similar to beef tendon). The stew was flavored mostly with star anise and five-spice. I quite liked it. Maybe I’ll try and make it myself.
Spare ribs were fine, and even had some squash pieces in it. The eggplant were little grease sponges, though. Wow. I squeezed out at least a tablespoon of oil while eating one. The shrimp inside were great, though.

Beef cheong and HAR CHEONG (shrimp rice roll!). Oh, and stuffed peppers. These rice rolls were great – so fresh and chewy. The peppers were the long peppers. Not too spicy, most of the seeds seem to have been scraped out.

There’s my new future sister-in-law Manhattan Maka showing off her ring and going for a beef cheong fun.

I’m also not normally a siu mai fan. I think they’re usually all pretty similar and generically porky. These were topped with salmon roe, which perked up my interests. They were generously stuffed with bits of scallop and shrimp on the inside. They weren’t just a paste of fish and pork – it was great. I went for seconds. They were just so fresh and good.

Fried shrimp cakes. They were wrapped in tofu skin and then fried. Can you say tasty? These were mostly shrimp – not much of a binder at all (always a good thing!).

Oh, and get this – Mellie’s doesn’t make a ton of money off of dim sum. They’re really busy, but I guess the costs are fairly high compared with other meals. It makes sense – For lunch/dinner you just need kitchen staff and wait staff. Dim sum is a meal of many small nibbles and bites. You need to make a ton of small things by hand, and they go rather quickly. So you need to hire several people to churn them out. In addition to your normal wait staff, you also need to hire cart ladies to hawk all of the tiny dishes. It’s pretty close to a pure competition when it comes to the dim sum market in Flushing, so restaurants have to price them within a certain short range, otherwise consumers will buy them elsewhere, and thus margins on high ticket items containing seafood are very small.
And thank you for listening to Dim Sum Economics, with Professor Albany Jane.
Har gow! These were SO fresh, the skins broke when we picked them up. The rice skin was nice and chewy, very pliable and hot. The insides again were shrimp with very little binder.

Dan tat! I love these eggy custard tarts. I could really put them away when I was younger (one of the contributing reasons I was a big asian chubbers). I think I’ve gotten pickier about them in my old age (when you’re 5 your primary concern is: are they sweet and fatty?). I like the custard to have a pronounced sweet, creamy, eggy flavor while also being very soft and slightly jiggly. The crust needs to be flaky and buttery, with just a hint of salt. Mellie’s came out warm from the oven and passed my tests with flying colors.
I always wondered what the saran wrapped black blobs were (they’re usually on the bottom/2nd layer of the carts). They’re black sesame desserts!! These were awesome. Nutty black sesame flavor, and squiggly rolls of jelly. Manhattan Maka and her dainty wrists again play hand model to this tasty dish.

It was a great time, and I’m glad we got to spend Fathers Day with Yeh-Yeh and my Uncle. There’s never enough time to spend with them.

After that we helped CVS and Manhattan Maka apartment hunt in Forest Hills, Queens. Here you can see them in the background, and Albany John loaded up like a pack mule in the foreground. He insisted on carrying both of our things around in his new day pack, and pretty much hiked all around the city on Sunday.

Did you know Fathers Day is not a good day to go apartment hunting? Well, you probably did, but we didn’t. After schlepping around for a bit Manhattan Maka saw a sign. Namely, Garcia’s, and demanded frosty beverages.

Free salsa and chips. The chips tasted kind of stale to me. CVS was at maximum capacity after having dim sum-ed with my family.

Cheers! Sangria for the boys and mango daiquiris for the girls. We got a 1/2 pitcher of each. $18 for sangria, and $24 for daiquiris. Yikes, way to charge city prices! There were about 4 drinks per pitcher, so we each had two necessary and refreshing beverages. The mango frozen daiquiris were so great on a hot day. Not really strong or anything, but really refreshing.
And still, with my Asian booze processing properties, I looked sunburned halfway through my 2nd drink. Hooray, Asian flush.


We pretty much walked around the lower part of Manhattan for a while, making the trek to our bus stop on the lower west-ish side of midtown.

AND WE HIT UP PENZYS SPICES ON THE WAY THERE. I spent a while here, flitting back and forth between the spices for sale. I even had a coupon for a free 1/4 cup shaker. I didn’t buy much and immediately regretted it once we got home. Next time I will have a list!

And I’d never really been inside Grand Central Station, so we walked inside and this was the best picture I could take. Those high ceilings really gave me vertigo!
The bus ride on NYCityBus was packed on the way back. Lots of people must have found out about it! I have no idea what was up with the air, but our seats didn’t have any, so it was a warmer-than-preferable ride back for us. But still, we didn’t have to drive, and it cost less than driving down would have cost us any way, so $30 RT for 2 is fine with me. Hell, they could have strapped me to the roof of the bus and I’d have been fine with that, too. Manhattan Maka and Albany John have teamed up to turn me into a gamer, so I ended up playing Hello Kitty in the Big City for DS the entire ride back (I’ve almost got the points for the Penthouse. SO CLOSE).

The First Time I Tried Tomatoes

Here is the story of my first taste of tomato.

My fondness for vegetables has been a recent one. When I was growing up, I was not known for my food adventurousness. I pretty much ate raw carrots and cabbage as my vegetables of choice. Everything else was too gross. Potatoes were vegetables, right?

My Dad used to have a garden patch outside where he’d grow carrots, peas, fuzzy squash, tomatoes, and some other stuff I can’t really remember. But, you know – Veggies and stuff. This was before gardening was all the rage like it is now, but I still thought it was cool because, hello, we lived in the suburbs and MY Dad could grow his own food. Did my other friends’ Dads do that? No.

Still, that was Dad’s garden. Most of the veggies from there were consumed by Dad, and Dad alone because no one else in the family really liked vegetables. This was not through lack of trying/begging/yelling on my Dad’s part.

One day, my Dad and I were near his garden and he was eating some plum tomatoes in between doing yard work. I was being your typical underfoot kiddo, when he started pushing tomatoes. I think they were plums or something. They were bite sized little tomatoes.

I was unsure, but not my completely defiant I-HATE-VEGETABLES self. These were tomatoes. A VEGETABLE. That I was pretty sure I didn’t like.

But they were small and cute. And they smelled good. All fresh off of the vine and tomato-y.

And then my Dad used the magic words:

“They’re sweet. Really sweet. They taste like candy.”

DAD, DID YOU SAY CANDY?!?!?!”

I confidently grabbed one of these delicious candy treats guised as a tomato and popped it in my mouth.

Why hadn’t Dad mentioned he was growing candy before? Right in our garden? And all along I thought…
And then I tasted the tomato part. Which tasted exactly like a tomato and nothing at all like the Jolly Ranchers, SweeTarts, or Gummi Bears I was imagining.

“EW, GROSS!! THAT IS NOT CANDY!!” I shouted, spitting the tomato out.

“Well, it’s sweet. It’s like candy. But it’s not.” my dad replied. (Most likely with some sigh and tone of defeat in his voice, but hey, I was, like, 4 and only concerned about the icky taste in my mouth)

“It tastes like a vegetable! I’m never eating tomatoes again!!”

And that’s the first time I tried tomatoes.

AoA Lunch @ Nipper’s Hot Dogs

All Over Albany has been hosting lunch week, wherin they feature snippets surrounding mid day munching. The ususal suspects have written some great articles, and AoA has also featured some scoundrels and riff-raff.

Today had the bright and sunny bonus of featuring the sun an honest to goodness lunch place: Nipper’s Hot Dogs was selling 2 Chicago-style hot dogs for $2.00 (singles for $1.25)!

I love you, Nipperlicious two for two dollars hot dog seller, Bob!

These dogs normally retail over $1.25 each, and are all beef, which means they lack the delicious confines of a snappy pork intestine. They are still quite a tasty dog. Like a more flavorful and less salty Hebrew National, and larger too.

CONDIMENT BAR!! The Profussor is modeling how to correctly build a Chicago-Style dog. There are little sport pepeprs, pickles, sweet onion, sweet relish, and tomatoes to pop on from the covered goods, and ketchup, mustard, and celery salt as well.
The good Mr. Fussy and I were planning on going out for lunch any way, but when news broke of the AoA special going on we both simultaneously messaged each other asking to change plans.
Mine looked like this: “HOT DOGS FOR $2!!! I think we need to change it up. TWO DOLLARS, YESSSSSSS!”

I did not follow any such algorithm and loaded up on the onions and relish. I don’t know if I could ever get enough onions on a hot dog.

I like how they hang over the edge a little bit, too. Kind of like the hot dogs’ feet are hanging out of the ends of their bun beds. BEFORE I KILL THEM AND EAT THEM WITH MY MOUTH.

Mary and a baby with something adorably whap-able. Man, you would not believe how many hot dogs a baby can eat. As long as you give it to them, they’ll just keep on downing them. I stopped counting at sixteen.

Some other seedy folks showed up to have hot dogs, too. Man, talk about skeeetchyyyy.

I didn’t spill too much food over myself, as the Profussor and I were getting in the car (we were being green [okay, he was cool and gave me a ride and I was too lazy to drive]) he asked:
“Hey, do you have time to go to Crisan?”

YES!! I was just about to ask if YOU wanted to go!” I replied/shouted while dancing in the seat.

Hello Crisan Bakery pastry case! Since I’m on a pistachio kick, I felt it was my duty to get the Georgette ($2.60), which was described as Layers of Pistachio & White Chocolate Meringue Cake, Coffee Butter Cream.

I also really wanted one of those White Truffles ($1.75) sitting to the right of the Georgette, as well as the Empress Elena ($4.50), Pina Colada cake ($3.25) and Vanilla Squares ($2.80) sitting on the shelf above. Tough decisions, I know.

I restrained myself in only getting the Georgette, because I also wanted gelato, too. Heavy is the crown I wear, I know, I know.

They also had FRESHLY MADE PISTACHIO!!! Like, two-minutes-out-of-the-gelato-maker fresh!

But there was also honey. Oh, tough call. I’ve been experiencing the start of a cold, so I also thought honey might be a good cold rememdy. You know, healthy gelato for its curative properties. I tried a sample of them both, and they were so good. So good. So hard to choose one.
I went with a scoop of honey ($2.00, pints $7.50), but the pistachio was also good.

Do you see how twee and adorable the utensils are?! They’re like little fairy knives and forks. I usually get take out. I’m eating in next time! So cute!

I liked the cake – firm/dry cake layers, and buttery butter cream layers. Plus some complimentary pistacho flavors, too. I’d get this again. And again, and again. Rich, creamy, buttery. A great little dessert that went really well with honey gelato.

This was straight out of the pastry fridge and cold, which meant the butter cream layers were hard. I think it would have been better if I’d lounged around a bit more and had time to let it get up to room temperature. But it’s a pastry and when they are in front of me, do you think I’m going to not begin consuming immediately? Hahahaha, no. No, I am eating as soon as possible.