When did we get so busy? Well, maybe you aren’t busy, but personally, I feel like I’ve never been busier.
My weekdays are filled with tons-o-schtuff. And then the weekends come, and there is usually something planned too. Fun stuff, usually (or overlap from the week, worst case scenario), but sometimes it’s just nice to not have anything at all planned, you know?
But crap. Now. Now. Now. Now. A million and one things to do and that need doing. Lately I haven’t even really been enjoying eating, even though I do like baking and my products. It kind of feels like I’ve just been going through the motions, you know? Even with food, which kind of makes me sad, but like I said. I’ve kind of clocked out a bit.
So an impromptu weekend was quite nice. Rejuvenating, even. And when I say impromptu, I mean it. This trip happened literally on the drive home from Mrs. London’s. I felt kind of bad planning a trip on my mum’s birthday, but it was all for my sister and I was going to be the tour guide so she wouldn’t get lost on the bus ride down (and no, she is not 8, but we’re kind of sheltered sometimes). At that point I realized – woahfamilyweekend! First mom, then dad. Crazy! And my mom was having a party later that night, so I figured at the very least she’d have some time to herself and friends. My sister and I had to travel down to see our dad and family in NYC. We took a late bus down (aabus.com rocks) and promptly got soaked. But we made excellent time on the subway and were at my family’s place by 9:30.
I got a huge platter of sushi from my Yeh-Yeh (Chinese grandfather) and Uncle. And I mean, a huge platter. I ate just about all of it with my Dad helping out with half a dozen or so pieces. He had just come back from dinner with his girlfriend. I have no clue why, but that just made me feel so related to him. Dinner, and then sushi. Haha.
If you ever grew up feeling awkward around all of your non-nuclear relatives, trust me, once you hit your mid 20s, you will probably develop a “fuck it, we’re family” mode. Eat with gusto and enjoy them while they’re there (both the family and the eats). I also felt the same way with my Mom’s birthday brunch. Sometimes you just need to clock out and realize how lucky you are to have crazy family members to have special meals with. I can guarantee you that they think you are just as crazy, if not crazier. Especially if you have more pictures of food on your camera than people. By a wide margin. So, in the spirit of enjoying family, friends and general joie de vivre, I hardly focused my photos and just took snaps. They are probably blurry as heck, but I had such a great time.
My sister was awesome and ate avocado sushi rolls, since I mentioned she was vegan and couldn’t eat 99% of what my family would have tried to feed her if I hadn’t told them. My conversation with Pops went like this:
Dad: “Ok, so we’ll have dinner when you get here. What do you want us to get for you? Sushi?”
Me: “OhGODYES. Sushi. *drool* Oh, but yea, the sissykins is vegan now. She doesn’t eat animals or animal products.”
Dad: “… what? Hmm. Okay. Well… She can still eat pizza, right? We’ll just get her a plain cheese –“
Me: “Dad, Dad, no. Vegan means she can’t eat dairy, eggs… if it came from an animal she isn’t gonna eat it.”
Dad: “OH… what the heck are we gonna feed that girl?”
Eventually we settled on avocado rolls as a safe idea. Rice + cucumber +avocado + wrapper (oh I will feel terrible if we later find out they rubbed these with tuna belly or something), and thankfully they were inside out rolls, which I think look less intimidating. The sister was a bit iffy about the whole thing, but when your older sister is the human garbage disposal, excess avocado rolls aren’t really a concern. But once she tried them, she ate some, which I’m guessing means she thought they were good.
Although, I need to point out, sushi is eaten in one bite – people, please back me up on this in comments. My sister insisted on being “dainty” and eating her rolls in two bites. And the pieces weren’t even that big! Come ON! (I’m kidding, kind of; y’all know how obnoxious I get around sushi). But no, she rocks for eating almost half of that. I wonder if she was still hungry after that. It didn’t seem like a lot of sushi to eat, but many of my vegan and vegetarian friends don’t eat as much as I do. They seem to fill up faster.
I kid you not – this is how much sushi I ate. My dad helped out with half a dozen or so pieces. Please compare with the first picture. Even I was impressed/shocked with how much sushi I ate. Seriously. Wow. I knew I liked sushi, but jeeze. My uncle and Yeh-Yeh said they ordered a platter for themselves and split it. And had a ton left over. At that I rubbed my Buddha belly and dipped another piece of delicious sushi in soy sauce.
Where did they get this sushi? I can’t remember the name, but it’s a little place right around the corner from them on the subway line. They’re incredibly affordable and very fresh. This was a nice assortment of salmon (sake), tuna, eel, squid (not my fave as sushi), yellow tail, octopus, shrimp, California rolls and a spicy tuna or salmon roll.
We settled off to bed shortly after eating, since it was getting late. The next day we got up, made ourselves ready, and headed out to eat at one of Flushing Chinatown’s vegetarian/vegan restaurants. My dad knew of one, so we hopped in the car. My family really prefers the Flushing Chinatown because parking is a bit easier to find, and is much cheaper. And, ye know, they live in Queens, so it’s one less bridge to cross and a heckuva lot less traffic.
So we drove around and we hit up Buddha Bodai. It had all of 5 spaces, and they were all full. But luckily we found parking nearby-ish by the Flushing Gardens.
Buddha Bodai is renown for having kosher, vegetarian food. It seems a lot of their foods are also vegan. My dad and the waitress were talking for a long time in Chinese about making the dishes vegan, and everything turned out A-OK.
Oh. My. Gosh. These were hands down the freshest and best rice rolls I have ever eaten in my life. They were silky smooth; the sauce was perfect the perfect mix of sweet and salty. It makes me that much sadder to look at them now that I’m back in Albany, NY and know I cannot get these here. We just have the ones that come cooked, refrigerated and in baggies up here. They’re nowhere near as good. The ones in the restaurants just don’t taste as good either. I don’t know if I can say enough how heavenly these rice rolls were. Simple, delicious, and they made me happy.
Then there were some fat noodles with veggies in them. The noodles were quite chewy and good.
Of course, I saw shrimp rice rolls on the menu (har cheung)and HAD to try them. And of course, they were the only flop out of everything we ordered. Oh well. The family thought they tasted like imitation crabmeat, and were just a little flat, flavor wise. But those rice wrappers were so fresh and tasty!
This was a faux chicken dish over veggies. I think it was like Chicken and Oyster sauce. The chicken flavor and texture was dead on! I just took a bite since my sister really loved chicken with oyster sauce when she was a non-vegan.
My sister totally took on a valley girl accent when we were talking about tofu. I have no idea why. It was funny. “ooooh, yaaahhh. I looove tofu. Like, frrrriiiieeeddd.” These were nice, too. I’d have preferred a sauce or something over them, but I used a black bean sauce on the side of our table as a condiment. They were incredibly soft and pillowy in the center.
This has got to be the star of the meal. A mixed appetizer platter of fake meats – roasted pork and char siu. The char siu was dead on – you could fool meat eaters with it, no joke. This was the first dish to come out, and really set the tone for the rest of the meal (the tone being – holy crap, this is good food). The roast pork was pretty good, but that char siu. My sister even got a tin of it to take home with her and eat later.
I really liked this! It tasted just like a deep fried flaky thing, stuffed with vegetables. The outside was light and flaky, and the inside was moist and just had a nice light flavor.
It was really nice to go to a different place than we normally would have. Normally we go to one of a few restaurants my Yeh-Yeh really likes, and it entails seafood, pork, and more seafood. I do love my seafood, but I felt like I ate a lot here but was much less full/clogged up with meat, if that makes any sense.
After that meal, we hung out with the family a bit, and then hopped on the subway to get to Manhattan Chinatown (har har, as opposed to Flushing Chinatown) to catch the bus heading back to good ole Albany. After walking for a bit, I decided I’d grab a bubble tea, since I am quickly becoming addicted to them. I grabbed a black sesame bubble tea at a trendy little shop and wow, did I stick out like a sore thumb – hair all mussed, towering over everyone, and with a backpack strapped on me. Like I’ve said, awkward. But the bubble tea was amazing and really refreshing. Black sesame is the way to go. This picture is what I took at home. I love bubble teas, but it still takes me forever and a day to finish caffeinated beverages.
PEKING DUCK! I got a half duck, since no trip to NYC is complete for me unless I have a small roasted animal in my luggage. Turns out wherever we got one from (we went to the closest shop by the bus station, which was still a few blocks away) was one of the best places to buy a Peking duck, according to my Yeh-Yeh. It was moist, with just the right amount of fat (sometimes they can be way too fatty) and a nice crisp skin.
And because I’m a glutton, roasted crispy skinned pork. I think Albany John and I chowed down on this entire thing once I came back.
And a tiny egg custard dan tat. I used to love dan tats when I was a kid. This was okay, but the pastry was too heavy and bread-like. Good dan tats should have a super flaky crust. Extra points are earned for dan tats in miniature.