OctoRice!

I found baby octopi at the Asian Food Market (Colvin Ave, Albany, NY) for only $3.99! It was in the freezer section and sold in 1 lb frozen blocks. I finally got around to thawing it out, and cooked it two ways.

Yummy!

They came whole. These are more like large octopus babies, or very mini octopi. One would fit in the palm of my hand. I simmered a few whole for about 45 minutes in some water with a bay leaf and salt. Really tender. I know their heads look a little like leaking zombies, but this was easy to prepare. And then I used that liquid to make rice with! Really subtle flavor. I wouldn’t have been able to guess that it was made with octopus broth.


The other way was just lightly pan searing it for a few seconds. Watch the tentacles move under the heat from the pan. This was also good stuff. Kept a nice chewy texture. Like salt and pepper squid, only with non-battered octopus.

If you like squid, you’d like these little octopi. They tasted really similar.

Toffee

I believe the word “Toffee” stems from ancient Mayan times, meaning “An easy way to consume quantities of butter”. I might be a little off in my translation skills, but I’m pretty sure it’s something close to it.

I saw E’s awesome looking toffee and thought “Oh man, what a lucky gift recipient!” and “Damn, now I want toffee,”. I’ve never been very good with the candy arts, but I gave it a whirl. The first batch I burned. Horribly. Burned sugar & butter is a sadly inedible combination. I tried to eat my mistake, but yeah… that didn’t work out very well

I went by eye with the second batch. Thank goodness I made them in small batches. Brown = bad. Light brown / caramel = good. My butter kinda separated and had to be poured off of the toffee, but the toffee still came out like toffee so I’m considering it a mild win in the candy-making department.

I also sucked pretty hard at the spreading chocolate & nuts bit over it, but whatever. It still came out okay. I made a small batch.

Toffee Recipe
6 T butter
1/3 C white sugar
dash salt

vanilla extract
chocolate
etc. toppings.

Put a pan on medium or medium-low heat. Plop in butter, sugar, and salt. Let it melt, stirring occasionally.

It’ll get bubbly, and once it’s a light caramel brown color, pull it from the heat. Give it a stir or two and add in some vanilla extract. This will bubble a bit with the mixture, so don’t shove your face all up in it after doing that.

Then mix it a little more, and pour that molten mixture of butter and sugar on a piece of parchment paper.

Give it a minute, then put some chocolate on top. It’ll get melty from the heat from the toffee. You can spread it around, and then add more toppings to it.

Let it cool until hard – this is great to make in the winter, because it takes all of two minutes to get hard and cooled off when you leave it outside or in a doorway. (This is also terrible to make in the winter, because then you have a ton of toffee ready to eat in about 10 minutes. Delicious, delicious toffee).


Then you get to shatter it! I just pick up the parchment paper and drop it a few times.


This turned out pretty hunky dory. I’m gonna say the butter oil separating makes it lower in fat. Healthy toffee! It lasted all of a few hours. Maybe I shouldn’t have put it on a plate in the living room, right next to my hands, though.

Cooking the Tree of Life 2011

Cooking the Tree of Life is returning for a month-long series in February 2011!

I absolutely love these lectures. Not only are there some occasional food samples, but the information for each topic is fun, informative, and just a great way to spend an evening out. I always learn something new, and it’s an all-ages kind of event. Well, maybe you don’t want to bring a baby since it’s at 7 pm, but if you’ve got kids that are at all interested in food or science (or both), bring them along because they’ll get a big kick out of this. They do a great job of switching between hardcore science info and food prep/knowledge, with some cool powerpoint lectures to boot. Oh yeah, it also costs free dollars, so that’s pretty sweet too!

They will be held every Wednesday in February, at 7 pm in the Clark Auditorium. Each is taught by a local science superstar paired with a chef.

Here’s a run down (from their website) about what’s going on each week:

  • Swine and Dine
    Wednesday, February 2, 2011 – 7 p.m.
    Pigs and their porcine relatives are used as food sources in many cultures, and 7,000 years of artificial selection have resulted in the domesticated pig that we farm today. Dr. Jason Cryan, an evolutionary biologist at the State Museum, discusses the evolutionary origins, current distribution, and biology of this ubiquitous animal, while Chef Tony Destratis of Lake George Club prepares and presents inspired dishes.

  • Potato: The Perfect Human Food
    Wednesday, February 9, 2011 – 7 p.m.
    For the first few million years, the potato tuber was just a nifty adaptation to help plants store a bit of energy underground. Then humans discovered how nutritious it was, started experimenting with its evolution, and created the perfect human food. Dr. Roland Kays, curator of mammals at the State Museum, gives the evolutionary back-story to the tuber that changed the world, and the Food Network’s Chef David Britton cooks up examples of cuisine it has inspired.
  • Loving the Bubbly: Bread, Wine, and Beer
    Wednesday, February 16, 2011 – 7 p.m.
    The variety of breads and fermented beverages developed by cultures around the world are made possible by one species of yeast that has evolved into hundreds of specialized strains. This microscopic fungus has been intertwined with human evolution over the last 10,000 years, helping certain cultures to flourish. Join Museum Scientist Dr. Jeremy Kirchman and Chef Stephen Topper of the Copperfield Inn, North Creek, N.Y., as they discuss the fascinating natural history of yeast and prepare delicious dishes.

Smoked Lamb Riblets

Smoked lamb riblets. SMOKED LAMB RIBS. Two ways. Char Siu style, and dry rub style. Both delicious. Above is the char siu style.

Get ready for one picture-heavy post.

You know what, I’m getting a little ahead of myself, though. Here’s where it started. My lamb ribs from 8 O’Clock Ranch. A little over a pound. They sell for $2.95/lb. With shipping figured in, it’s around $4 for this package of lamby happiness. I’ve never even seen lamb ribs sold anywhere before, so I had to try them. This package contained two pieces of lamb ribs. One thicker and one thinner.

Did a dry rub for the thick cut. Here’s the gist of it:
Dry Rub for Lamb Riblets Recipe

a base of kosher salt (that you can’t see)
1 T Paprika
2 T chili or cayenne powder
1.5 t cumin powder
1 t onion or garlic powder
2 t black pepper
2 t Coleman’s mustard powder

This was a little on the salty side, but whatever – I like salt. You can adjust that part as you see fit. Really, adjust any and all of it. But the flavors worked really well overall. Just make sure you coat that sucker with as much as you can. Really pack it on.

So there’s the dry rub on the left, sealed in a baggie. The char siu lamb ribs are on the right. Here’s that:

Char Siu Lamb Ribs Recipe
1.5 T Maltose
1.5 T honey
1/4 – 1/2 t garlic black bean paste (or hoisin)
1.5 T soy sauce
2 T vermouth
white pepper
5-spice powder
1/2 t sesame oil

This was awesome, and I look forward to making it again for other cuts of meat. Maltose is kind of a bitch to work with – it’s got a tough texture to accurately measure. Just eyeball it. It’s like pulling candy to get it out, and needs to be warm to even think about blending it (otherwise it hardens up). You could just double up on the honey if you don’t have it.

Any way, I let them marinate in the fridge for a solid 12+ hours.

Then I pulled out my little red stove-top baby smoker. I sprinkled in 4 T of plum wood chips. I think they only recommend 1-2 T, but I wanted to blast these ribs with smoky flavor. I don’t taste as much smoke as I’d like with 2 T of wood chips.

After I got all that settled with the plum wood chips, I layered everything else up and plopped in the ribs.

Covered everything and set it to smoke over low heat, aiming to get it above 150 F and below 200F. The stove-top gods must have been with me that night, because my temps set pretty well. It took about half an hour to get up to the right temperature, and overall I’d say they cooked for 2.5-3 hours. I let the bigger dry rubbed ribs cook a half-hour longer than the skinny char siu rubs.

Oh, and don’t toss out your char siu marinade. Cook it down with some sugar syrup to make a glaze. I over-reduced it, so I had to add more water. Kind of annoying, but worth it when I finished them in the over, and brushed that goodness over it.

Ta da! All done! Just had to pop them in the oven to cook up a little more…

To get a browner crust on the char siu lamb ribs! Mmm – laquer finish.

And to dry out the top of the dry rub a little more.

Best buddies! You go, lamb riblets! Way to be delicious!

Here’s a cut of the char siu lamb rib. Nice & smoky inside. Look at all of that smoky pink interior! Now that’s what I’m talking about. These would be great in the summer, too. Smoking them inside would be great if I could finish them on a charcoal grill to crisp the outside and cook off more of the fat.

The plum wood chips were the way to go, too. Awesome flavor to complement the lamb meat.

Here’s the big dry rubbed guy. So yummy! So pink! So fatty, but so worth it! I can’t wait to try these out again when I have access to a charcoal grill.

DIY Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract always seeems to cost an arm and a leg. And vanilla beans? Forget it – I think we’re looking at like $9+ for a few beans in the Albany, NY area. Not exactly wallet friendly.

That all changes.

I found Vanilla Products USA on eBay and read some pretty good reviews of them on eGullet and other sites online. I figured I’d put in an order with them and see what I got. I purchased 1 lb of Tahitian Grade B beans and 1/2 lb of Madagascar Grade B beans.

Shipping is $5 per item. They say the knock off $2.50 for each extra item, but I got charged the full $10 for shipping. I don’t know – shipping charges confuse me sometimes. Maybe it was if I’d ordered 2 orders of 1# beans. Plus they throw in free stuff depending on how much you spent, and I got a quarter pound of Tahitian Grade A beans, too.

1.75 lbs of vanilla beans for under $40. Insane. And the shipping was super quick. I think they’re based in Pennsylvania, so I had them by the end of the week.

Hell yeah, vanilla bean bender! Wait, no – this is just how we start out our extracts. Have you ever made vanilla extract? Do you want to know how to make vanilla extract? Well, I hope you do, ’cause I’m tellin’ ya.
I’ve made extracts before with spent bean shells, and it’s pretty awesome stuff. Beats the pants off of what you’d buy. All it takes is a little time. I cleaned off a few ball jars and bought some rum and vodka.

The rum based vanilla extract makes a nice little addition to cocktails. It’s also a nice gluten-free option.

You can see my beans all lined up in a little row. Tahtian Grade A on the left, Madagascar Grade B in the middle, and Tahitian Grade B on the right.

Can you tell what kind these are? These are six beans of Tahitian Grade B! I really couldn’t tell much of a difference between Grade A & Grade B. I figured six or so beans was a good amount for a quart jar.

I sliced each of my beans in half (well, as close to half as I could. Some are jagged strips) and popped them in the jars before covering them in booze. Lucky little vanilla beans.

I also boiled some rubber lid things to keep my extracts from spilling all over the place. Hey, I know our household. Albany John and I are clumsy as all get out. If it can spill, fall, or drop – it will.

I labeled them with the amount/kind of beans and the kind of liquor in each bottle. I’ll let them sit for a few weeks and then check them out. Obviously the smaller guys are going to be done pretty quickly. I’d give the little recycled extract bottle on the very left about a week or two before checking it.

I would have made more, but I ran out of rum and bottles, and was running low on vodka. Now I need to find some more glass jars or bottles. Where can I find them for cheap?

I thought these would make nice gifts, but the quart ones are a little awkwardly large: “Hi, thanks for having me over/doing something nice. Here’s four cups of vanilla extract. Enjoy!” I think pint glasses or smaller amounts would be nice.

Sushi Tei with CelinaBean & Mark

I was lucky enough to have lunch with Celina Bean at Mr. Pio Pio earlier this week, and we had planned on inviting our buddy Mark along. What’s that saying about all good intentions? I don’t know – I’m terrible with sayings, but we forgot to mention it to Mark, so we felt like we should meet up for lunch again. Y’know, get the band back together.

So we went to Sushi Tei for lunch. Celina had mentioned how awesome the soups were when we were at Mr. Pio Pio (hey, when you love food, you talk about all kinds of food). There was a lunch special with salmon don & mini tempura udon for $9.95. Celina & I both went for it.

If that was the mini – wow, what does the regular look like? I could cup my hands around the bowl and still have some room. If I weren’t a glutton, the mini udon probably would have been a satisfying lunch. One large tempura-ed shrimp, some scallions, chewy udon noodles, and a deeply flavored broth.

That broth is some satisfying stuff. And the soup retained its warmth through my entire meal. No icy cold soup here!

One of the reasons I love Japanese food is the presentation. When you dine in you get food served in partitioned boxes, or beautiful containers like this. It looks like a little present.

And the best kind of present was inside! Three long slices of salmon over some sushi rice with a shiso leaf topped with salmon roe. Wasabi and pickled ginger, too.
I thought that the salmon don was going to be the big feature, but the soup was larger than this box. Still, it was a lunch portion in the way Japanese food is generally portioned out – not ginormous amounts where you need a take-out box to bring half of your meal home, but rather a satisfying amount you can eat in one sitting.
The salmon was fresh, nice and fatty like I like it. And man, I’m really starting to like salmon roe. I used to think it was just too intense, but now – it seems like it’s just up my alley.
Overall, a really nice lunch that didn’t leave me feeling like I needed a nap afterward. The company wasn’t too bad either. I never imagined I’d be casually lunching with writers one day, catching up, chilling out. Surreal.

Mr. Pio Pio

I have been to Mr. Pio Pio, and I have seen the light. Actually, I didn’t really need to see any lights, because when Celina Bean waxes so poetically about fried snapper, how else can you feel by “Oh my gosh I need to get there.” ?

To make it even better, I got to have lunch with Miss Celina Bean herself. One heck of an introduction, if there ever was one. We pretty much settled on the fried whole snapper. Celina loves it, and I had to order it after reading so much about its deliciousness from her.

But first there were chicharrones. Oh, where there chicharrones. $2.90 gets you a side dish of heaven on a plate. Crispy fried bits of pork belly. So crunchy. So fatty. So good. They were out of the red sauce, but had a green avocado sauce on the side. I could slather that sauce on just about everything, and it would be fine with me.

OH MY GOSH, do you see how beautiful those porky little babies are? Porky nuggets o’goodness! Alternating layers of meat and fat under insanely crisp skin. A little meat here, a little melty fat there. A big smile on my face. I showed surprising restraint and didn’t eat all of them before the main course came out.

SNAPPAH!!!

It comes with this tomato-onion slaw on top, and plantains & yucca. We asked for extra yucca on our dish subbed in for plantains, and got them no problem. Yucca > Plantains any day in my book (sorry plantains. You’re good, but no match for fried yucca). So good! I think this was about $20, but it feeds two people.

It doesn’t come with a side, so if you want rice & beans or a little something else, you’ve gotta order it as an extra. Celina got some rice & beans (~$3). I’m not a big rice fan, so I stuck with the chicharrones because I am very healthy like that.

So deep fried snapper is awesome. I mean, it’s seafood, so it’s inherently awesome to begin with, but fried… oh. So good. And it didn’t taste greasy. Like, at all. It stayed light and crispy through the whole meal. Moist, tender fish, crispy outsides. What’s not to live? That tomato-onion slaw was awesome, too. A little tart kick to go with the fish.

Celina was also awesome and let me crunch away on the tail. The ends were so fried they were like a crunchy little snack! Yum, yum, yum.

Under $30 (pre-tip) for a huge lunch for two people? Oh heck yeah, sign me up.

Well, now I’ve got to go back to try the red sauce and the chicken dishes.

The Tang Zhong Method

I like the idea of Japanese bread. I’m not sure if I’ve ever had it, but whenever I see it in the stores, those perfectly square loaves, I just imagine how good it must taste. Soft, squishy, tender, fluffy. Just right.

I felt like trying to make something like it at home, and found out about tangzhong. So this tangzhong stuff is like a cooked sponge, for those of you who are familiar with baking. It works by cooking a mixture of flour and water together for just a little bit. It’ll add some moisture to your cooking. And best of all? It is cake-tender, but you use AP or bread flour! How awesome is that?!

So I baked up a loaf of bread from Christine’s Recipes using the tang zhong method, and it came out beautifully! And get this – the rise times are only 40 minutes!

Part of the secret is that you knead the butter in after mixing everything together. It really helps everything come together as a solid loaf.

Bake at 350F for 30 minutes, and out came this golden beauty:

Egg washes must be nature’s way of telling us food is delicious, hee hee. It took a ton of patience to wait for it to cool off, but it was worth the wait. The house smelled so good. Even Albany John was looking forward to a slice. He thought it smelled like Hawaiian sweet bread, or Portuguese rolls. I just thought it smelled awesome.

If you can’t tell, I don’t have one of those neato-but-expensive Pullman loaf pans to make perfectly square bread. Doesn’t affect the taste, though!

Tender crumb! It reminded me of baked bao. Kinda sweet, kinda squishy and soft, and allllll good. I definitely want to give baos a try with this recipe.

Albany John has dubbed this “Dessert Bread” because it’s on the sweeter side for him. But he still ate a slice or two after dinner. Heheh, after dinner bread.

I can’t wait to try this out as toast (omg, I’m getting old – I’m looking forward to toast), as sandwiches, and… just shoved in my mouth because it’s soooo good. Give the recipe in the link above a try (I just did it plain, no fillings). So good!

I think it’s crazy how differently bread can come out with just a few minor ingredient amount adjustments. My mom always made bread when I was growing up. It was good on the first day when it was warm, but had a short half-life and quickly deteriorated after that. This though – oh man, I wish we had the internet around when I was a wee kiddo. The same song, just sung a little differently, and oh the difference it makes.

8 O’Clock Ranch Ham Steak

Mmm. Steak of Ham. So part of me likes meat. And part of me wants the animals I eat to not live tortured lives up until they reach the chopping block. So I bought some meat from 8 O’Clock Ranch, a farm in upstate New York.

I heard about them through the grapevine. One chick I know got really into organic and good-for-you foods after she got pregnant and has been ordering from 8 O’Clock Ranch for a few years now. She did a ton of research on different farms, and seemed satisfied by 8 O’Clock Ranch meeting her wants. She gave me some of their meat to try, and I was in. It’s good stuff.

Price-wise, it’s not too expensive, either. New York State is considered a “local” shipping rate, so it isn’t some outrageous sum to get it shipped to your door. All of the meats come vacu-sealed and are in manageable portions. They’ve even got some lamb! But this is pork. However, maybe I’ll do a run-down in what I bought this go.

Fresh ham steak. This was an uncured ham steak. So pretty much just pork. It was like $3.50/lb (maybe $4.50 w/shipping included, but that’s still not bad). Albany John and I had about a third of it above. The rest is in the fridge waiting to get cooked up.

It cooked up nicely. Very lean – no fat really came off of it. And I didn’t overcook it! And quick, too. Maybe 10 minutes total. Maybe less. It was really tasty. It was fairly light for pork, and the texture was firm, but not stringy and dry or anything.

I overcooked some Shanghai bok choy to go with it (spent too much time wrapping up the leftover pork. Dang). And some cheesy scrambled eggs.


And to continue our usual United Nations of meals, Albany John made some farofa. It says it’s imitation bacon flavored, but it tastes fine to me. Toss in some onions and toast it all up in a pan with some broth. Yum. Good stuff.

New Year’s Eve in Rego Park

The roads to all good things start with sushi. And my recent trip to the city started off with about forty bucks of sushi goodness from Sushi Tei. Well, I mean, if you’re taking the bus, you need a little something to sustain yourself, right? At any rate, it was sushi for two with the hubs coming along, too.

I’m on a scallop and salmon kick. There were two pieces of scallop sushi, two salmon sushi, a salmon roll, a spicy scallop roll (Sushi Tei makes the best spicy anything roll), and gunkan makis with tobiko and salmon roe. Yummy.

Layer two had a white tuna & avocado roll, salmon & avocado roll, and an eel & cucumber roll. So yum. Wish I’d ordered a tad more, ’cause I was just a wee bit hungry after we ate all of this. My sushi tummy is pretty endless. And there was a guy with fried chicken on the bus that smelled SO good, too!

We ate just before the bus took off – a good idea on Albany John’s part. We were pretty wedged in those little seats, and the combination of Albany roads + open container of soy sauce would have seen us painted in soy sauce. This picture looks roomier than it was.

I think taking the bus is so interesting, because you get to see so many different kinds of people. People afraid of other people, people who have no sense of time, people travelling with their kids… greyhound it ain’t.

Any way, we got in EARLY. Did I mention we were travelling on New Year’s Eve? I was paranoid the traffic from Times Square would jam us in the Lincoln tunnel forevah, but we got from Albany to Midtown in about 2-2.5 hours. Crazy stuff.

We quickly hopped a subway to Maka & CVS’s new pad in Rego Park, Queens. And were greeted with thin slices of meat. Yummy.

And omfg, smoked BBQ chicken wings! CVS is one hell of a bro-in-law. I gnawed on these well past midnight and watching the ball drop on TV. Far away from the tourists. I think that’s gotta be a New York thing – absolutely no desire to do things tourists do, like visit sites, or do the New Year’s eve thing. I’m not a fan of crowds.

The next morning CVS made eggs and such. Goodness. One of his friends from Chicago was also in and was jonesing for a New York bagel. You know how it goes – even the so-so ones are amazing when you’ve got nothing back home.
I forget where we got these from already, but it was a bagel shop on Queens Blvd and they hit the spot. A darkly toasted sesame seed bagel with lox cream cheese spread. Yum. Albany John and I split this one. So filled with cream cheese! And lox!

Like my ideal cupcake ratio, this had my ideal cream cheese ratio – lots. Or about 1/4 of the thickness of the overall bagel. Yummmm.

Then since we were out and about, we walked over to the strip area of Rego Park/Forest Hills. Again, I forget where this was exactly since I was happy to trail along like a puppy dog. There was this Mexican place that made amazing drinks, they told me. I was in.

Unfortch, we got there a bit early, so we went to the bar next door before the good place opened up. It was some kind of tavern, and had a bit of a dark and dreary vibe.

We ordered a round of drinks. Drafts were a steal at $6 per pint (eyeroll). And I got my first ever pint of cider with ice in it. WITH ICE IN IT. I couldn’t get my head around that one, and our waitress was acting pretty hungover and put out by our orders. We ordered in two waves, and while there were only five of us, I think it did her a favor because she was hauling our drinks over and thunking them on the tables in threes (someone got a water, too). If she wasn’t hungover as hell, she was doing a pretty damn good impression. God, I hope she was, seeing as how it was New Year’s Day and all.

Thankfully I was surrounded by men willing to step up to the plate and slug down my shitty drink. It kept tasting saltier the more I drank it. Blech. The bartenders pouring also kept over pouring to get foam out. That’s gotta be an industry peeve of mine – pouring too much head in a beer and then having to pour it out and refill. Maybe it’s some kind of showy flare, but to me it’s just waste. You can still get a good head on a beer without overpouring. And then there’s the sticky glasses covered in beer residue. Okay, stepping down from the soapbox.

Thankfully we left after our first round and… HOORAY:

The good place was open! 5 Burro Cafe (7205 Austin Street, Queens, NY). It was a small front, but had lots of decoration.

And a thatched “roof” above their bar! There were only about 10 seats at the bar, and thankfully we got in when they opened and took about half of them.

You guys, it was like a Mexican Tiki Bar!! Thatched roof, drinks with kitchy names – I was in heaven!


Maka told me I HAD to get the frozen margaritas. I got a swirly colored berry flavored one. Yum. She got a lime or peach. I had to mix mine for a while to get the flavors to blend. They came out of smoothie machines, and I think they already had tequila in the ice. Pre-liquored slushies. I need a machine for my house.

These pints of happiness were $8, and packed a bit of a kick to them. Much more worth spending money on than that crappy $6 cider at the other place.

The signs also had stuff on them about a free toy, which the bartender explained some governing board in NYC ruled they could no longer give away. Sadness. Nanny state sadness. If I choke on a toy in my drink, it’s my own damned drunk fault if I already know there’s a toy in it. (I’m guessing the toys were the cute little drink rimmers).
Phew, all mixed up! And they gave us some free salt-less chips. Also some mandate by a governing authority in NY. Really? What happened to the time honored tradition of free salty foods at a bar to get your thirst up? The salsa was good though – mild, but lots of fresh onion and cilantro.

We meandered back home after that round and played some games. I was doing pretty well at getting rid of my cards until one point:


And this was a lighter hand. Le sigh.

We had CVS slaving away in the kitchen while we four played a foul-named drinking card game.

Steaks, twice-baked potatoes, and perfectly steamed broccoli. Yum. Wow, I thought this was a clear picture at the time. I guess that’s what playing drinking games with wine’ll do.

The next morning was a leisurely breakfast involving egg whites, plenty o’bacon, and Gael Greene’s Insatiable. I definitely hit up that bacon.

The book’s been a fun read (maybe a spoiler ahead. idk), a Christmas present from Mama Amherst. I love the meals Gael Greene’s eaten, and her stories are outrageous. The only hard time I have is that I don’t really feel sorry for her when she gets a divorce from her husband and she gets depressed – I mean, she’s been cheating on him for a while. And I mean cheating HARD. But other than that, we’re all human and other than that I frigging want her life. Trips to France to eat all over courtesy of Moet & Chandon? Why yes please.

We finished up lunch in Rego Park with sushi delivery. I think it might have been from a place called Mado, but I’m not really sure. It was delivery, and not too bad at all! And holy crap was it freaking cheap. I guess NYC sushi gets more turnover than Albany sushi. Albany John got a godzilla roll (left), and a salmon & cuke roll.

CVS got some soup and rolls – yellow tail & scallion on the left, and a naruto roll on the right. It’s just tuna & avocado wrapped in thinly peeled cucumber. I liked it. It tasted almost pious.
The avocado in the top piece just slipped out during travel. It was lodged between the pieces below.

I felt like getting something super cheap, so I got the chicken katsu for like $6.45. It came with a soda & california roll and one of those iceberg side salads. Good stuff for seven bucks. I was full when I was done with it, that’s for sure.

I’ve got to figure out how to make ginger dressing. I could slather all of my food in it.
Shortly afterward, we headed out to Manhattan Chinatown to get our bus out. But I wanted a stop at Penzey’s first, so we popped off at Grand Central.

Yay, market. But wait… is that a sign?

OH GOD DAMNIT! What a waste of $4.50. Yeah, I should have called ahead ’cause it was a holiday weekend, but I checked the hours on Penzey’s site before leaving. No mention of holiday hours. Just a little asterisk that the Grand Central location had a limited stock. Le sigh.
I don’t know about you, but if I’m about to drop a load of money on spices, part of me enjoys the tactile experience of smelling them, picking the bags out, and carrying them home. There’s just something so aseptic about buying food online sometimes.

But any way, I’d have to pout later because we needed to get to our bus.

In a stroke of genious, I’d left the “E.” out of Broadway when I looked up the right subway stop to take, and wound up somewhere near Brooklyn. Not my finest moment. I ended up calling Maka & CVS and tried to get them to tell me how to get back. It seemed like a hassle, so I was a lazy New Yorker and called a cab. It ended up being about as much as taking the subway – like $7. Okay, a little more, but we were there in about five minutes.

AAbus, Double Happiness, the Chinese bus. Whatever you want to call it. They weren’t quite on their game Sunday night. The bus we were going to take was cancelled due to traffic out, and they didn’t mention it until after the bus was supposed to be there. There were SO many people there, too. So many. And you know how much I love crowds.

Since we had a couple of hours to kill, we walked around Chinatown for a bit. Would have been better to get stuck on a different night of the week. Sunday = earlier close times for some businesses.

Chinatowns always seem to operate on a cash-only basis. I know there are some places that take cards, but usually cash is easier even if they do take cards. I couldn’t find my ATM, and Albany John and I had about $10 between us.

Luckily we found Hong Kong Station, a cheap customize-it-yourself noodle shop. They were open until 10 PM and almost empty when we got there. It was a nice break from all of the hustle and bustle. I was also ecstatic to take off my increasingly hefty luggage.

I got a green tea smoothie ($3.75). It was creamier than I thought it would be. Next time I’d get a tea or something. Still, worth the price – it was big and rather refreshing with a good amount of green tea flavor.
Albany John got a “side” of noodles with pork and cabbage. I am now afraid of the size of a normal bowl of soup, because that was huge! The broth had a rich flavor. I’d get it again – nice amount of meat and pickle-y cabbage. Especially for the price. So much food! Hooray, Chinatown!
It seemed like a pretty hip little store, too. I can see the Hong Kong comparison. Cheap, a little flashy, open late-ish. A good place to stop off if you don’t want to go home, but just want a little something else that’s non-alcoholic.


We made our bus home. It was packed. One screaming kid, other well-behaved ones, and the guy behind me got drunk on the bus. I’m all for drinking in public, but dude could not hold his liquor. I’m pretty sure he was drinking cheap brandy out of a flask or something, because I got a good whiff of it every few seconds when he exhaled. I felt bad for the kid that had to sit next to him. Guy went from drunk and content to wasted and gone somewhere around exit 20.
I am all for drinking. Especially when you’re not driving and being responsible. And really, what better way to try and pass three hours on a crowded bus? I’m with the guy in that respect. But for the love of god, have some kind of a tolerance. He was grabbing at Albany John’s seat, and then dude hit the next level mumbling to himself about “Some ho! This ho’s not talkin to me!” and then wrapping his arms around the back of my seat. Oh no. Oh hell no, you did not just grab the back of my seat. He got angry squinty eyes and a few inoffensive words from me. I’d like to think that was the moment he realized that sober me was ready to go off on drunk him at any moment, but in all reality I think it was just that he realized where he was.

Albany John was asleep for most of the ride, so I only had my mango mochi to keep me company. I got it at a store by the bus stop before the first bus we were gonna catch was cancelled. I think it was called Lucky Bloop. Hee hee. I want all my bloops to be lucky. They were only $0.80 and rather sizeable. Not a bad bus snack back home.