Chinese New Year in Flushing 2014

 

 

Last weekend I drove down to Flushing to celebrate Chinese New Year with my family. It was our first year celebrating without Yeh-Yeh, our family’s patriarch. That didn’t really hit me until shortly before my drive down, but for me simply having these traditions with family keeps us together and that is what is important.

The drive down was a breeze (when I drive to Flushing from Albany I go: 90E > Taconic > 84E > 684S > 678SHutchinson River Pkwy> Whitestone Bridge. It’s about 15 minutes more than taking 87S down, but it saves on the tolls up until the Whitestone Bridge ($7.50) and breaks up the drive into smaller chunks so I don’t get bored. It also probably seems more complicated to hop off of the Taconic onto 84E, but it’s a much smoother drive with better drivers than taking the Taconic down all the way (you avoid where the road narrows, and all of the crappy drivers on it).
I got in shortly after 5, and figured I’d have to drive a while for parking, but found free street parking within 30 minutes! Woo hoo! I didn’t have to move the entire time I was there. I don’t know about you, but when I head down to NYC, I like to park and just leave my car until I’m ready to head back home.

P1030962

For dinner we went to Jin Cheng Restaurant, which I protested because last year we had a pretty craptacular experience at the kid’s table, and I thought we went there more for its close proximity to Yeh-Yeh’s condo than the quality of the food. I’ve since discovered they are better at lunch, or when they’re not busy, so they’re not a total lost cause, but I had prepped myself for a less-than-awesome Chinese New Year dinner because Chinese New Year Weekend in Flushing = every Chinese Restaurant is gonna be mobbed.

I was pleasantly surprised with how GOOD dinner was. Maybe it’s because we were a smaller group and not two big tables. (Maybe Yeh-Yeh was in the kitchen yelling at the chefs for me 😉 ) It was my dad, his best gal, my uncle, Albany John, and me.

We started off with Beef and gai lan. Great wok hei on the beef, and super tender.
P1030964

Honey-walnut-mayo prawns with broccoli on the left. Plump and fat shrimp, no complaints there. Fresh crispy skin chicken at the top, and the same beef on the right (after initial decimation)

P1030967

Lobster Cantonese-style with ginger and scallions. We got two big lobsters. So perfectly cooked. I would say this is one of my favorite ways to eat lobster. This way, or just steamed.
P1030969
Whole steamed flounder. Mmm. It looks big, but it’s easy to eat a lot of. So light and good.

Albany John and I went for a little walk after dinner to digest. Naturally we wound up at Tous Les Jours, a French-Asian bakery.

P1030972

Like most Asian bakeries, there’s a bunch of goodies laid out for you to pick yourself, plus refrigerated things behind the counter.

P1030975

I wanted to keep walking, so we had a late-night (for Flushing, i.e. 9 PM) picnic on a bench near the police station (I know romance).

I usually love the stuff Tous Les Jours makes, but man this was mixed bag. The vanilla milkshake was really unpleasant – lots of large chunks of ice, and cheap vanilla ice cream. Bleh. And $4.50 to boot.
P1030973

Here was the statue we noshed at, right in between the hubbub of traffic.
P1030979

Macarons: skip. Red velvet on the left and Oreo on the right. Red velvet had no notable red velvet flavor, and used a pasty vanilla buttercream as the filling. The black “Oreo” macaron also bore no flavor of its namesake, and was equally pasty. Disappointing. I should have avoided from the start because while these were not cracked, they had some cracked macarons on display, and if they took pride in their macarons, the cracked ones would never be up for sale.
P1030980
Albany John got a cream cheese pastry. These are epically delicious in an it’s-so-bad-for-you kind of way. I’m pretty sure I could hear one of his arteries start to clog. They don’t skimp on the cream cheese.

P1030981

I had a backup pastry which was tasty – a soft and fluffy bun filled with sweet potato filling and covered in almond flour/meal. Yum. Stick with the baked goods you can pick yourself and you’ll be good.
The next day we kicked off the day eating (of course).

Joe’s Shanghai to start for breakfast. We got there right when they opened at 11 AM and had no wait.

P1030982

Bready, soft scallion pancakes.
P1030985

Big steamer full of 8 Pork & Crab Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings). If you go to Joe’s Shanghai, you absolutely must get xiao long bao. The tongs are kind of unnecessary, and the teeth on them can pierce the skin of the dumpling, and there goes all of your soupy goodness. Their skins were good (but Ala Shanghai’s are thinner!), but the broth is where these dumplings shine. Each soup dumpling contains a glorious broth. Each dumpling is a treat, and if I think just a bit, I can relive those flavors for just a moment. The broth is thick and rich, with hearty flavors from both the pork and crab, but neither standing out over the other and instead combining to make this magical soup that you can’t get enough of.
P1030986

Shanghai style rice cakes, with some veggies and meat. Nice softness and wok hei.

P1030989

Two big bowls of soup. I think their soups are a bit on the bland side, at least after eating the xiao long bao. Beef chuck on the left, pork and veggies on the right. Noodles are okay, but they need a little salt or something. I think the soups at Taiwan Noodle are better though (deeper broth flavors and better noodles).

Then Albany John and my uncle split off to do their own thing, and Dad and his gal and I were off to have more adventures. I was SUPER excited because I was planning on going to Sunrise Kitchen & Hardware Supplies (4205 Main St, Flushing, NY). This place is awesome for all of your Asian kitchen gadget needs.

P1030990

Sadly for me, they took the week off for Chinese New Year. No cheap and awesome kitchen supplies. Next time. Sigh.
P1030994

Saw some lions on the street.
P1030999

Went to Rose House for an English-style tea break. Overall, I’d say it’s a nice place if you want to get away from the loudness and crowds in a pretty atmosphere and comfy seats, but that’s about it. All of the teas seemed to taste the same, and they were on the expensive side – $9.00+ per small pot.

Service was weird. A server initially told us there was a 2 hr sitting limit because it was the weekend (which was fine and totally reasonable), but then after being there for a total of 40 minutes the same server took away our tea warmers and started checking the pots. There were no crowds waiting for a table, either.

P1030997
Their butter cookies were decent, and despite finding a hair in the rose hips jam after I spooned some on a cookie it was freaking DELICIOUS.

P1040004
I broke off to explore on my own and found Pho Hoang on Kissena Blvd.

P1040002

There are tables, but order here at the counter for to-go orders. It also shares space with a Chinese butcher further near the front of the store. It’s not the cleanest looking space, but $4.00 for a banh mi was calling my name.
P1040007
Hello gorgeous. A nice baguette tucked into a parchment sleeve.

P1040008

SO GOOD! Look at that bread. It’s deliciously perfect little baguettes with a crisp exterior that gives way to a soft, squishy interior. Great for banh mi and stuffing with julienned veggies, pate, meat, and cliantro. Yum, yum, yum.
P1040009

$4.00 for all of this, versus $6.50 (to start) for a small banh mi at Pho Yum in Albany that doesn’t even use the right bread.

I wound up going to a friend’s that night.

The next morning we went to Jade Restaurant for dim sum with one of my aunts and some cousins.

P1040014

More lions!

The wait wasn’t too bad, but my aunt saw a friend of hers who was a manager, and we got whisked off to a side room that I’ve never seen before (that was opened up to handle the Chinese New Year crowds). That was awesome – less loudness and craziness, all of the carted dim sum goodies.
P1040016

P1040023
P1040026
P1040027
P1040028
P1040029

Food, food everywhere. So good.

We hung out for a bit, but soon it was time to hit the road.

But not before hitting up Pho Hoang one last time since Albany John was back.
P1040035

And there was a DRAGON group that came in!
P1040040

I got a regular banh mi ($4.00) & a duck banh mi ($6.00).
P1040042

They withstood the drive up pretty well – the bread stayed crisp and the interiors didn’t get soggy.
P1040047
Duck on the left, regular banh mi on the right.

P1040046
We both thought the regular/standard banh mi was better than the duck banh mi. Better flavor overall. The duck was good, but man, the veggies and meat are just SO good!

Hong Kong Bakery & Bistro

P1010561

I wen to the Hong Kong Bakery & Bistro for the second time in two weeks. I wrote about my first visit for All Over Albany, and you can check out all of the delicious dim sum goodies I got on my solo visit there.

My dad & My Other Mom were up for the weekend, and after an entire day of picnicking and gorging, we wound up at the Hong Kong Bakery for dinner. We got some of their tea, which is a pleasantly floral jasmine. Very high notes and refreshing crispness. I think they may charge for tea, but free refills on the pot, and what they charge is fairly nominal.

The servers have been great. They’re mostly college-aged girls who speak English and Mandarin or Cantonese fluently (some only speak Mandarin, not Cantonese, but some speak all 3). We had a different main server than last time, but the same girl who I had last time I was in recognized me as the solo diner from a few weeks earlier. I guess a solo lady dining alone and ordering $30 of food kind of stands out, heh heh.

P1010562

I was thinking of getting something light and squid-y. I was going to go for sauteed squid, but our server really recommended the salt & pepper squid with chili ($12.99). Good as far as salt & pepper squid goes, and there were fine slices of chili to add a little punch of heat.

P1010563

Beef chow fun again, hee hee hee. This wasn’t quite as amazing as the chow fun I got on my last visit from the AoA post – a little less wok hei on everything, but overall it was still a very satisfying dish and a controlled amount of oil.

Beef chow fun is one of the most common dishes my family orders at Chinese restaurants. The beef chow fun at the Hong Kong Bakery & Bistro is especially special to me because the day after my wedding, I went to the Hong Kong Bakery (when it was just a bakery on Central Ave) with Yeh-Yeh and the whole family, and he declared this beef chow fun better than most restaurants in NYC. And Hong Kong Bakery & Bistro has managed to keep this recipe consistent over the years. I love that. A little bite, a little memory.

Still better than a lot of beef chow fun from restaurants in NYC Chinatowns.

P1010564

My dad picked grouper fillets with fresh veggies ($14.99), and they were delicate, tender fillets. Chinese broccoli as the green veggie, still nice and firm with a little crunch.

P1010565

Food in progress. Salt & pepper shrimp on the left, chow fun top right, and grouper fillets bottom right.

P1010566

Baby bok choy as a veggie side. My dad wanted more greenery with dinner, and these were delicious. Lightly oiled, tender greens, and firm but pliable stalks. The garlic was intense – it was ever so lightly cooked, so I made sure Albany John had a few bulbs, too. I want to say that this was “Sauteed Seasonal Vegetable w. Garlic” for $9.99, but our server put the bill slightly closer to my dad, and he snagged the bill right up. Thanks, Dad!

My only regret is that we didn’t go for dim sum, because then I could have ordered ALL OF THE CHEUNG FAN!

Ah well, next time.

Yeh Yeh’s Funeral (The Way He’d Want It – Lots of Food)

Don’t Worry – this post is only contains pictures of the food we ate and written things we did for Yeh-Yeh’s funeral service.

IMG_20130413_125657

Albany John & I drove down for the service. My lovely sib-in-laws, Maka & CVS, were nice enough to let us stay with them. We drove down late on a Friday night, so that I could be at the airport to pick up my sister, who was flying in from Seattle.

Once I picked her up, we went to the YehYeh’s condo in Flushing. The parking god must have smiled on me for driving late at night and waking up early to pick up my sister from the airport, because I found (free!) street parking almost instantly. In Flushing. On a weekend. My poor sister was sick, and the flight didn’t help, so she napped in the condo while I went out to lunch at Jin Cheng with my dad and Aunties.

Jin Cheng is stupid close to the condo, and it has free parking, so it’s in my family’s roster of restaurants to go to. And guess what? They actually serve a good lunch. Unlike the rest of Flushing, Jin Cheng was pretty quiet, not even half full. The meal was miles better than when I’ve been for dinner or Chinese New Year. They really can’t handle a crowd.

Seafood Congee up top. Light & gingery. I didn’t mind a bowl.

IMG_20130413_130029

I requested we get a plate of black bean squid. Good wok hei on the squid. Bleh to the peppers.

IMG_20130413_130104

Beef and gai lan. Very tender beef, also with good wok hei.

IMG_20130413_130605

Oop, sorry, this was chicken with hard chives cut long. Tasty stuff. I bought more chives to cook with at home shortly after this.

We hung around and just talked for a while. It’s just a whole other transition, a new step in life, to process with Yeh Yeh passing.

IMG_20130413_185905

We went to San Soo Kap San for dinner with my uncle, aunt & her husband/my uncle, and one of my cousins.  That dish with the red strip in the right bottom corner on the big plate? Raw squid. It was soooo freaking good! They only gave 1 plate of it as ban chan, and probably for good reason (I could have eaten about 10 of these). The rest of the banchan spread was also pretty impressive – fresh tofu, konjac (I think…) kimchee, cucumbers, small fish, pickled parsnips (MY JAM!), turnips. So much tastiness.

IMG_20130413_190032

One bubbling bowl of scrambled egg ban chan. Very delicate – like a savory custard.

IMG_20130413_190241

They grill all of the meat for you. Kind of expensive – most dishes hover around $30! Yikes! You can see tongue above. Thin rounds. Tasty.

IMG_20130413_190640

Pork Belly! Yeah!

IMG_20130413_191624

Galbi! We got two orders. My other cousin’s girlfriend is Korean and she said you don’t normally get 2 orders of the same thing, traditionally. My cousin said his parents know and do it any way, lol. I can’t argue, that galbi was great. Meaty, juicy, had that nice galbi marinade.

IMG_20130413_193701

I think we got some other kind of sliced beef, too.

IMG_20130413_213445

I still felt like eating my feelings after dinner, so my dad and I went to Tous Les Jours for some dessert. I was up for anything, but my dad says after going to Korea for a few months last year, he prefers Korean bakeries over Chinese ones because they have better quality ingredients & products, and are more innovative in what they make.

I think they are kind of expensive, but they are also the only bakeries open after 6/7 PM in Flushing. All of the Chinese ones close by then. There’s also a Paris Bakery nearby in downtown Flushing (that you can see from Tous les Jours) and is also open late.

I went for a black sesame doughnut and a cream cheese filled danish.

IMG_20130413_213514

My dad got a blueberry cheesecake.

IMG_20130413_213700

All sliced up:
Black sesame doughnut – mochi dough was chewy and kind of odd at first, then an addictive texure. Not too sweet.
Blueberry cheesecake – Asian cheesecake. Fluffy and cake-like.
Cream cheese danish – rich, rich rich, and crispy pastry exterior. Indulgent, but really good.

And like that, I was down with the more expensive Korean bakeries. Good stuff, and different than what the Chinese bakeries sell in Flushing.

Saturday I went to Flushing not knowing when I was going to leave. I wound up spending the whole day there & taking the subway back to Forest Hills. I was really happy to have late night public transportation – I wouldn’t have been able to drive, I was so sleepy!

The next morning we got up and ready to go to the funeral home for the Chinese equivalent of a wake.

Mama & Papa John had come in and were staying near the funeral home. We went out there to grab an late dim sum at … some place in Manhattan Chinatown. My bad, I forget the name. I was trying not to spill anything on my clothes and get to the funeral home on time (Thanks for lunch, Mama & Papa John!).

IMG_20130414_150619

Someone brought treats to the funeral home. Dan tats. Okay, I will have one. Still warm. Yum. Yeh Yeh. Sigh.

And we went in. It was a traditional Buddhist Chinese funeral, even though we’re not really religious. We folded lots of coins out of paper – that was pretty nice – having something to do with your hands at all times. These were burned as offerings. Although my cousins & I were smartasses and couldn’t help but jokingly bemoan how stereotypical it was to have origami at an Asian funeral, or how we were doing arts & crafts.
Showing emotion/sadness was discouraged, and certain curious circumstances before the funeral helped prepare me for this, although, really, I’d been fairly emotionally detached up until then, so I don’t think crying would have been all too much of an issue any way.

Two Buddhist Monks came in and read a chant. We thought it would just be for a few minutes, but it ended up being about 45 minutes. It wound up being very soothing. Albany John was sweet and took a video of it all for my brother, who couldn’t make it. I think he will really appreciate the monks’ chant.

The service was also bilingual, for us ABCs who don’t understand Cantonese. I’m thankful for that, so I could still participate and understand what was going on without feeling ashamed about my lack of Cantonese.

After the funeral, the sons (my dad & uncle) took all of the remaining guests out for dinner at a nearby restaurant on Mott Street. Eh, food was okay, but Manhattan Chinatown is mostly for tourists now.

IMG_20130414_182439
IMG_20130414_183141

IMG_20130414_184024

This was “special” chicken, in that it tasted like they steamed it one day not quite all the way, and then served it the next day. :X

IMG_20130414_184311

Salt & pepper pork – okay, this was good.

IMG_20130414_184641

IMG_20130414_185140

Gummy lobster. Didn’t even finish it. My dad tried it and agreed. His table’s was good, though.

IMG_20130414_185202

I always forget how absurd banquet food seems to people who didn’t grow up with it.

IMG_20130414_190116

After this, we all went our respective ways. Albany John had to get back to Albany that night, so he took a train back.

The next day was the burial. We woke up early to get to the funeral home. Some more traditions/rituals that I didn’t quite understand. Drive to the graveyard, where YehYeh was buried next to Grandma.

Once Yeh-Yeh was buried, we went to one of his favorite restaurants in Flushing – Mellie’s. Another traditional post-service meal.

IMG_20130415_123309

Sticky Rice with lobster, sweet & sour pork, some soup.

IMG_20130415_123420

IMG_20130415_183946

Then I spent the day hanging out with my cousins & sister at my Aunt & Uncle’s place just outside of Flushing. That was great. I haven’t done that since I was a kid. Just spend a few hours hanging out, watching TV, chatting. My sister was all about mahjong. We got Caribbean food & pizza for dinner.

I went back to Forest Hills for one last night with CVS & Maka. Maka took me with her to work in the morning. It was kind of like the world of tomorrow. How did it take me so long to visit this place? There were also snacks everywhere, so I left well fed & caffeinated on my way to Flushing to hang out with my Dad & head back to Albany with my sister.

My Dad and I decided to go out and try a bunch of food from all of the places in Flushing. My sister tagged along for the com First up:

IMG_20130416_122524

My Sweet Home Dumpling on Roosevelt for 10 tasty dumplings. Freshly made to order (including the dough rolled out!). So good, and under $5.00

IMG_20130416_124935

Then we walked to the underground food mall on Main Street. You know, the one past Starbucks? Any way, we hit up NY Lan Zhou La Mian. The guy at the stall evidently was asking my dad if my sister & I were single, and my dad quickly responded in the affirmative, haha (my sister is single).

IMG_20130416_125055

There’s one long folding table and some low stools near the menu board.

IMG_20130416_125254

Dad went with oxtail noodle soup. He loves oxtails, and I can’t seem to get enough of them, either. The broth was very flavorful, and came with a few pieces of baby bok choy.

IMG_20130416_125357

Hand pulled noodles were great! Springy chew, flavorful, and went well with the oxtails and broth. The bowl was enormous, and there were hot sauce condiments aplenty on the table. Dad let me spike the broth near the end when he was done with the soup. Yeah!

IMG_20130416_133843

Then we walked off our gluttony a little more around the edge of downtown Flushing. My Dad saw Forest House, and “Hong Kong Milk Tea” on the sign and wanted to go in.

IMG_20130416_132540

My Dad said he hadn’t had Hong Kong style Milk Tea in the US, and the difference between this and other Milk Teas you get is that they steep the tea for longer. He said in Hong Kong when he was growing up, the really legit places would strain the tea through a silk stocking.

It took a few minutes for this to come out, but boy was it good! Now I want Hong Kong Milk Tea ALL OF THE TIME – it makes other milk teas look weak and too creamy by comparison. There was a nice bitterness to contrast all of that dairy, and the bottom of the cup had some tea leaves (in Flushing Chinatown it’s usually a teabag in coffee + cream, and it’s not steeped for very long).

Our mini food tour was a nice segue into leaving (fat and fairly happy). There are plenty of things to think about when one of your loved ones passes. I’m lucky to have been able to connect with my Yeh-Yeh. I was still a kid when my other grandparents passed, and I didn’t get to know them as well.

Happy Valentines Day

Happy Valentine’s Day. I couldn’t help but think of happy times of the past when I opened my cupboard and reached for the last little bit of Sweetheart Red Rooibos from the much missed The Good Leaf.
I tend to keep things, often for too long and letting them age past their prime just so I still have it. Thankfully, rooibos keeps forever, and this pot of Sweetheart Red was warm and comforting on a chilly day. I love that rooibos teas can be left in a pot forever, without worrying about steeping too long.

All I have left is a rusty can. Miss ya, Good Leaf. I haven’t found a comparably flavorful rooibos yet.

Downstate Saturday

Friday night Bro, Margarita, Albany John, and I drove down to Orange County, NY. We were planning on going into Queens the next day, but after seeing the weather reports; it looked like we might have gotten stuck in the city on our way out.

We changed our plans to stay in the Orange County area for Saturday. It ended up not snowing much at all, but with our luck if we had gone into NYC a blizzard surely would have hit it.

Albany John and I spent the night with Sistah. It was a good time. She made these really good chocolate nugget cookies and put a little Hershey’s chocolate syrup in the batter, too. I thought it just tasted extra buttery. Yummy, crunchy goodness.

The next morning we reconvened in Florida at the diner in town. I think it is called Marina’s Diner/Deli. Bro, Margarita, and I ordered coffee, my Dad got tea with milk, and Albany John ordered the manliest drink on the menu – a hot cocoa. They even delivered it with whipped cream, which was when I started calling him princess.

Albany John and Bro were hungry. Their meals came with free soup, and they ordered Matzo ball soup. They said the broth was good, but the ball was a little gummy. It looked really big to me.


Here’s what Bro ordered – Sweet Pippy was it ever good. The fried clams. It looked like those frozen ready-to-eat clam strips you can buy at the store, but boy did they taste great! The clams were all soft and nicely clammy – not rubbery/chewy and vaguely like seafood. These were delicious. I stole a few from his plate.

I would definitely vote this dish the star of all of our dishes.

Albany John got the shrimp basket. Both baskets came with fries and soup. They were both around $8. These were also excellently fried and juicy. The oil tasted very fresh and new. A nice crunchy breaded exterior gave way to a moist shrimp interior. I stole more than a few from Albany John’s plate as well.

My dad just got an egg on hard roll sandwich that you can see in the background. Margarita got a club sandwich. I got one of her triangle slices because she couldn’t finish it. It was also good. Crispy bacon – just enough to compliment the turkey. The turkey slices were also moist, and there was a nice balance of lettuce to make you think you were eating healthy food. The mayo didn’t bother me, but I still find it to be a rather superfluous condiment. Slather some butter or brie on there, and then I’ll get back to you.
I ordered 2 eggs over easy. They came with homefries and toast. The toast was wholewheat, but came slathered in margarine. Ew. I’m not a big margarine fan. I think toast should come unbuttered. I picked off and ate the crusts and dipped them in the egg yolk. The eggs came out perfectly. The homefries were okay, but more potato pieces than anything else. No crispiness at all.
Service was also nice. I like going downstate because invariably you almost always get a “Want some cawfee, hun?” type waitress and they are all very good at their jobs. We’ve got a couple of places like that up here, but not nearly enough.

After that, we headed over to our old hometown, Washingtonville, NY. It is also home to Brotherhood Winery. America’s Oldest Winery. Which is now owned by a Chilean grape master guy who bought it from the last owners in the 70s who didn’t take care of it.

We took a tour of the wine cellars. I mean, figure if Bro and Margarita are leaving, why not?


Bro, Margarita, and my Dad. We got a tour all to ourselves. Very neat. Our tour guide, Dennis, was very knowledgeable. For instance, I never knew that Brotherhood was one of the only wineries allowed to keep producing during the prohibition because of the amount of sacramental wine they made for the churches. Hunh.



It was very dark and I am a moron with my camera, so even after Albany John looked at it, I still had trouble taking pictures. Here is Dennis walking us down a hallway. OF DOOM!
Nah, just kidding (although Brotherhood puts on a great spooky cellars Halloween even). Just walking into another part of the cellars.

This was my favorite room because they were aging wine in casks. It smelled so sweet! Here are some labeled barrels, likely too fuzzy for you to make out. Just pretend they all say “Awesome Wine in Here”.


We only bought the tour ($6 per person) instead of the tasting flight with it ($5 per flight, or $10 for tour and tasting with free glass), but Dennis still gave us a few samples of wines to try. Not as much as a full flight would have been, mind you, but still, it was good to try some wines before buying them.

We were also offered some free tastes before the tour by another person, so as long as you are interested, they will let you try a little bit before buying. This definitely helps for someone like me who is generally indecisive. “Oh, they both taste so good. Let’s get both!”


After buying a case between us all (it’s 15% off!), we headed over to the Christmas House on Helms Hill Road. It’s right behind Round Hill Elementary School. My Dad remembered how to get there. Here he is either taking a picture or shooting a video.

It looks like it’s jam-packed full of crap. Maybe it is. But it’s all brightly lit and decorative when the sun sets, and during Christmas time they even let people inside their house, which is beautifully decorated as well. If you are in the area, definitely check it out before Christmas – they’re open in the early evening if you want to see the inside of the house.


Also in the same area is a drain pipe. It’s been there for as long as I can remember, and it pours off water from some water bottling company in the area. YehYeh used to like getting it when he was in the area when we were little.


I had an empty growler in my trunk, so we filled it up to have later on that evening with dinner. It’s clear and crisp. But still, it’s just water. It’s mostly nostalgia.
Albany John was skeptical. “It’s water from a drain pipe… How do you find about this?”

My Dad just shrugged and said “Everyone in town just knows about it.”
Well Albany, now you do too. So if you pass Round Hill and see a drain pipe spewing water, feel free to grab a drink.


My Dad ordered some takeout from Tin Lune in Florida, NY when we got back. For Chinese takeout they do a pretty good job. They do low-salt, low-oil, which I just think tastes better. Too much grease in takeout Chinese food, you know?

Dad also broke out the good tea for us! Tie Guan Yin. This tea is really expensive, but after they steep, the little curls of tea release into whole leaves. It’s got a great flavor and you can get many cups out of one initial serving of tea.

Overall, we didn’t get to do what we initially planned, but I think that just hanging out as a family for the weekend was a nice way to spend our time together. I had a really good time. Margarita is really a sister to me, it’s always a good time when we hang out. Bro can really come up with some hilarious stuff to say, too.

The Good Leaf

Creme brulee bubble tea + cupcake. The Good Leaf’s been open on Lark Street for a bit now, and it is rocking! It’s got a cozy Asian vibe going on – very relaxing, but you don’t feel the need to keep your conversation levels to whispers.

Wow – I was just reading the Good Leaf’s About Us section, and it turns out owner Michelle Marks is also a psychologist and opened The Good Leaf to help people relax via tea (in a nutshell, go read the blog – it’s written much better than my nutshell). They also have a nifty blog.

Head on over to the Good Leaf if you’re on Lark Street and check out their latest location. They also have a location At The Warehouse, but now you don’t have to wait for the weekends to get your tea fix!

The Good Leaf is such a boon to me because I’m not a big coffee drinker. With tea, there are so many little nuances in the flavor, and really, that crème brulee bubble tea was spot on in flavor. Not like flavored coffee, which to me tastes like coffee with a little teensy bit of flavor. Best of all, this time I asked if milk could be used in place of cream, and Michelle also offered me sugar free flavoring – awesome! This bubble tea was so light and much easier to drink than the bubble teas made with cream. I had it down in about an hour, but it was really hard not to drink it all in the first 10 minutes!

They also have the tapioca pearls, but I stuck with the coconut gel squares, and they went so well with the crème brulee. Get the crème brulee bubble tea.

The Good Leaf


This weekend, you need to go to At The Warehouse and get yourself a bubble tea from The Good Leaf.

$3.49 later I found myself with a delicious Almond Milk Bubble Tea. With coconutty choobee square gel things at the bottom. Oh, it was better than any other bubble tea I’ve ever had!

Okay, actually…

I’ve always hated bubble teas before this one. They’re always too chalky, and I’m really not sold on the tapioca pearl thing.

But I had a good feeling coming from The Good Leaf (everything I have there is always wonderful), and thank god I followed it. I absolutely loved the gummy chew of the green cubes. They were wonderful with the almond milk tea. And you can get any tea as a bubble tea – oh awesome. But Almond was great.

The only thing I’d ask them to change next time is if they could use milk, since I believe they used cream or half-and-half in this drink, and it was hard for me to finish, as I’m not really used to drinking cream in my beverages. But hey, that just meant I enjoyed it for longer. I always drink my tea without dairy (I just prefer to taste the tea), and I normally don’t drink coffee, but I prefer skim or 1% on the 5 times a year I do. Goodness knows why I get all dainty and such with my beverages, cause you know I’ll slather butter on just about anything.

I also found out that The Good Leaf’s store on Lark (where Lark Tattoo was) is ready to open at any moment. They really want to open in early June (aka, now). The only thing holding them up?

Code on a sink. A freakin’ sink! Albany, seriously. We’ve got so many places that are not up to code, can you please just look the other way on The Good Leaf’s sink? I’ll buy you and Jerry Jennings a bubble tea. Or whatever the hell else you want, just let The Good Leaf open already.

The Good Leaf’s store on Lark is supposed to be zen-like inside, and have a table or two outside for people-watchers.
If you can’t tell, I can’t wait for it to open up. It would be SO much easier to go on Lark than trudging over to At The Warehouse, since I only make it over there every month or two.