Wednesday, November 07, 2007


As we successfully manage to just completely skip fall the way Foxy Brown manages to just completely skip court appearances, we begin to head into hibernation season, and my thoughts inevitably begin to drift to the warm, comforting, motherly aspects of Chinese cuisine. Particularly, I dream of soup, which also happens to be my last name in Mandarin (tang, but pronounced tong). Like all aspects of Chinese cuisine, tang is widely varied - from the ultimate decadence of the south, shark fin tang, to watery peasant tang; sweet dessert tang with tapioca and taro, to weirdly bitter herbal medicinal tang. Tang is so pivotal that the Cantonese serve it both at the start and end of a meal. Most Cantonese restaurants in Chinatown serve both complimentary house tang and dessert tang. If you are not getting it (probably because you are not Chinese) you are missing out, and should ask your waiter for it.

Fish Ball Tang, one of my favorites.

Chicken Curry Noodle Tang

There are also those lovely little delectable tang dumplings, which are really not considered tang at all, and actually literally translates into "little dragon buns (more or less accurate). But because i love them so much, be so kind as to entertain me and pretend that they too are tang. Since so many people seem to have difficulty mastering the art of eating these little devils, i provide here my very own Food Genius trademarked pictorial tutorial:

First, pick up your chosen darling with extra care (if you pierce the skin it's all over), preferably ones with crab meat inside:

Next, tenderly bathe chosen dumpling in the vinegar and ginger provided, and delicately place it on your spoon. Puncture the skin ever so slightly so that you can carefully slurp up the broth inside, like so:

Finally, gobble down the remainder of the dumpling, and hope that you haven't just burned off all your taste buds, because that would be a damn shame for the rest of the meal:

It's not easy to find little dragon buns here like the kind they have in Shanghai or Taiwan, but I am always relatively pleased at Joe's Shanghai on Pell Street. It's also always a fun kitschy stop in Chinatown, especially since you sit family style with random strangers. When I went last year with some friends, we were seated with some clueless tourists and some equally clueless hipster boys.

Even though these dudes (there were four of them) were hipsters and clearly from some part of Williamsburg, I was shocked at the fact that they only ordered two bins of dumplings and nothing else. I wonder what they thought of us four girls when we had our own two bins, plus:



Fried Noodles

And My favorite Chinese vegetable - kong qing cai

Plus we had way more Tsingtao then all of them.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Visions of Vieques

Caribbean Crustacean

Plentiful Plantains

Carved Carne

Calle Conch

Succulent Starweapons

Patrolling Pigeon-hunter

Paradiso Perfecto

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Red Hook Ball Fields: Never Fade Away

You know something better taste damn good if it motivates a fat kid to get off his/her fat ass and hop onto a bicycle (one of those manually powered ones?!?) and pedal all of his/her overeating weight to Red Hook in Brooklyn. After all, I've never thought expending calories and consuming them to be all that compatible. Yet oddly enough, for the abundant offering of authentic Central American street fare amid "ball fields"in this hard to reach part of Brooklyn, it seemed not only logical, but completely natural.

Fresh with hunger induced by my ride through Park Slope (turns out that Park Slope is, in fact, aptly named. who knew?), I arrived at the fields with the conviction that I would try everything this magical oasis had to offer me. I started off with an horchata that was the sweet rice drink equivalent of a "forty" in its sheer size and power. Together with some trusty fat kid companions, we pummeled through some delectable fried ribs, elotes and a pork taquito to start.

After these light appetizers, we moved on to the heavy hitters.

Taco de Chorizo
Why does fried lard taste so good?


Pu-pu-sa. A Salvadoran delight of thick, hand-made corn tortilla stuffed with lovely standard ingredientes such as cheese, pork, and the like, served with pickled cabbage and hot sauce.

Darin's pupusa was cheese + jalapeno.

Max's papusa was pork + cheese.


Josh got an huarache - comparable to a giant taco with beans cooked into the tortilla. It was the size of Tejas.

For dessert, we had some fresh mango with salt, chili powder, and lime juice. Who knew fruit could be so sexy (besides M.I.A.)? We also had enough fresh watermelon juice to put out a small forest fire. And by "we" I mean Max.

And it wasn't just the food. Everything else about these ball fields were equally euphoric. It kind of captured so much of what is happy and wonderful about Brooklyn in the summer in that "oh come on, this type of corniness is actually really welcome and refreshing, and if you don't think so then you have no soul" sort of way.

The spectators.

The children with their water balloon and silly string fights.

Oh childhood. How I miss you.

The sky.

The lush greenness.

The company.

And this guy.

*bottom left. Have you ever seen anyone more comfortable in his own skin?

I'm not sure how I've carried on my not-so-secret love affair with high-caloric content food for this long without having come here before. Unfortunately, I didn't accomplish my mission - the ceviche, plantains, and tamales all managed to escape my hungry grasp. Hopefully, if the Parks Department and the health nazis don't have their way, I will have many more chances to revisit this wonderful phenomenon of a place to rectify the situation.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Live Free AND Die

This past Memorial Day Weekend, a few of my compadres and I decided to dust off Audrey's good old Scooby Doo Van for a getaway to luscious Grantham, New Hampshire, where my roommate Tyler's parents have a condo. I was particularly giddy because I had been given the glorious distinction of being named HEAD CHEF!! Our overwhelming and uncontrolled excitement perhaps rocked the 'ol missionary van a bit too hard, though, because before making it out of New York, she decided to break down. In the Bronx.

Ray and Mike are so handy!

Luckily for us, a would be disaster was averted and was instead turned into a pleasant 20 hour side-excursion to the Bronx, thanks to Darius and the hospitality of the Longarino clan.

Sal and Nico, holding down the fort.

We even got to try some pizza at one of New York's best, Louie and Ernie's .

This sausage slice was so mouthwateringly succulent and scrumptious - only DiFara's is better (aside: I will always love you Dominic and I don't care what the health nazis say!)

Next door we found this:

Being in a heavily Italian part of the Bronx, Teresa logically had this:

Spumoni! What's better for a post-pizza treat on a hot day than pistachio-chocolate-vanilla Italian ice? Ahhh.

Once in New Hampshire, we were confronted with the sad rural reality of restaurants closing before 9, and had to have dinner in McDonalds, aka McSuckhole. Aiming for the least worst of all possible outcomes, I ordered this "Southwestern" salad (I opted not to go for the "Asian Salad" after hearing the cashier's answer to my innocent inquiry on what was in it - "You know, Asian vegetables." Yeah...ok, sure. What are we talking about here, bok choy? Right, that's what I thought.)

Afterwards, I wanted to wring all the toxic chemicals out of my stomach. Gross.

Ray is checking out the nutrition facts. His moment of realization is colored with internal monologue, "I see. Oh yes, it is possible, after all, to both live free AND die in New Hampshire. Interesting."

To make up for it, the next two days, with the help from sous chefs Mike and Ryan and Tyler's parents dream kitchen, I performed some intense head chef duties:

(Mike made his deliciously famous Rice and Beans.)

Some serious Martha Stewart stuff going on here.

Tyler doesn't like fruits or vegetables, he preferred to top his waffle with Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Look at that sugar sparkle! Brilliant!

So, besides the McDonalds part that no doubt killed us all just a little bit, we did a lot of free living, including fun summer camp activities like swimming in the lake, canoeing, and bballing. We left feeling refreshed and very free. Just look at all us shining happy smiling little monkeys with our opposable thumbs!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Ahem - A Few of My Favorite Things

Dear Reader,

Being intuitive, I understand that one of the most pressing issues on your mind these days is something more or less along the lines of "I wonder what a laundry list of Izzy's favorite foods might look like.?." Being wise, I feel the need to inform. So, in no particular order, here it is:

grapefruit. oatmeal. soft-boiled eggs. brussel sprouts. artichoke. liver. mangosteen. cereal. ice cream. mantou. fresh soymilk. chorizo. sausage. difara's pizza. 1000 year old eggs. salty fish. french fries. cookies. cupcakes. oysters. guacamole. mango. grapes. digestives. balarina aged gouda. uni. panna cotta. prosciutto. anchovies. capers. roe. lox. milkshakes. chinatown coffee. fried rice. sticky rice. skate. truffles. spinach. corn. bitter squash. peking duck. fresh bread. mochi. pistachio ice cream. marzipan. crab cakes. string beans. steak tar tar. hot pot. cilantro. garlic. ugly fruit. fermented tofu. foie gras. white asparagus. truffles. goat cheese. earl grey gelato. lobster rolls. RNB. avocado. berries. homemade granola. baked brie. lotus flowers. szechuan peppercorns. razor clams. basil. chilean sea bass (so spit on me!). bloody argentine steak. cold noodles. corn. cornichons. dijon mustard. peking duck.

Go ahead, talkst amongst yourself. I'll give you a second.

I've always intended to gather all those foods into my kitchen, make them into unexpectedly delicious combinations, and have a fantastically deranged photo shoot with them. In keeping with the current theme of my life, however, I am backlogged, and this will have to suffice.

Speaking of backblogged, and because you care so, here is a taste of some upcoming posts to come!:
1. Camp Eastman, New Hampshire. imagine me - HEAD CHEF!!
2. Mother's Day dinner at my favorite Japanese-owned Italian restaurant in the city, Basta Pasta, with Raymond Park and mi mama.
3. A step-by-step picture tutorial on how to make cold noodles. just in time for the summer!
4. Chilean food and why it kind of sucks.
5. Argentine Steak and why it is almost better than sex.
6. Best of Prospect Heights - Chavellas, Farm, Gen, Sorrel
7. Birthday dinners - Lucy's at the Mermaid Inn, my baby cousin Iris's at Flor de Mayo (Upper West side Peruvian-Chinese place of deliciousness that I used to work at. Maybe I do like fusion after all?)
8. My favorite brunch spots.
9. Chinatown restaurants - Joe's Shanghai, Almond Flower, Congee on Bowery, this little guy on Elizabeth, and many more.
10. Ssam Bar, Kampuchea, and other places where I can fogive the hipness factor because the food is actually good.
11. Where to find the best pizza in the city, and in one instance, the WORLD. !!!
12. Some other lovable randomness.

; )

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Pacifistic Extremism

Let's play guess this country!! Its notable greats include Roger Federer, Martina Hingis, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Hermann Hesse, and Heidi. It has four national languages. It is really really good at precision. And neutrality. Oh, and chocolate. Really good at chocolate, can't forget that.

Yes! Unless you are a fully certified moron, you guessed right- S*W*I*T*Z*E*R*L*A*N*D*!! Home to landscapes that heighten your human and suprahuman senses, skiing that skips your heart a beat, and so much peace and prosperity that Dadaism is its defining form of artistic expression.

My parents go there each year for business (Didn't know the Chinese mafia conducts its business in Switzerland, eh? Where else did you think they go to deposit all those giant wads of cash carried by the trousers of Chinatown? Duh.) Every now and again they tote me along with them. I am like their big, chocolate-gobbling, truffle-sniffing, not-so-travel-sized talking doll. This year, however, my mother's friend Deborah came too, so the two of us decided to venture off and have some non-mafia related fun.

This is Deborah. She is maybe the coolest and also freaking weirdest Chinese lady I know. She wants to have dreads because she thinks they're "so cooluh."

As you can see, Deborah is very "sporty." One day she had us go paragliding in the morning and skiing in the afternoon. She even ventured to the tippy top of the Schilthorn mountain with me. Her method of descent was an ingenius, though tedious, combination of tumble and vertical slip'n'slide. I admired her technique and courage.

Deborah and I also did some extreme eating. In one local restaurant in Murren (the only one open past 9 pm), we stunned our waitress by gobbling down 3 hearty Swiss meals after she told us it could not be done by foreign folks such as us.

I remember the first time I went to Switzerland. I was shocked and awed by the way the milk tasted. Why did it taste so different, so strange, so...fresh? Do they just go outside and milk the Bessie in the backyard everytime they need milk, shrug their shoulders and say "fuck pasteurization"? I dont' get it.

That's kind of how this egg was. You can tell that it was just freshly plucked from the roost by the dark orange color of the yolk. Kind of makes you want to dive right in and go for a nice long yolky swim, doesn't it? So extreme.

I am a giant dork and love muesli, another great Swiss invention. Especially with fresh from Bessie milk, I could eat good muesli ALL day and night. Judge me all you want.

Ahh-white asparagus. One of my favorite things in the world and one reason I always look forward to going back to Switzerland. It's so soft and stringy, almost like what crispy fresh mozzarella might be like. It sort of enrages me that we never get it on this side of the Atlantic.

All in all, I heartily enjoyed my stint as a pacifistic extremist. Though I'm pretty sure that a longer-term commitment to such a lifestyle would be far less extreme, and more, well, serene. And pretty. Really really pretty.