Happy New Year!

Family, friends, food and great fun. The pictures say it all. Here’s a look at Christmas 2010:

Not exactly the typical Christmas dessert, but who can say no to strawberries?

Fraisier

The beggar:

Handsome

Looking at you looking at me:

Dad and Grandma

Grandma did not get run over by a reindeer:

Antlers

Cousins reenacting a goofy childhood photo:

Cousins!

Then I headed to New Jersey for some food, babies and new year’s eve festivities:

Terrorista?

These boys are so well-behaved at such a young age:

Innocence

Chinese speaking French on NYE:

Ratatouille?

The boy likes chocolate mousse [faite sans balance! olalalala…c’est illégale!]:

Wear it

Mats’ secret to being the ‘favorite’ parent:

Olly and Papa

Then I headed to NYC. Well, more like Brooklyn:

Marcy Ave

The trip to NY’s most populous burrough was all for this:

Fatty ‘Cue

I’d been meaning to check out Fatty Cue after all the press it’s been receiving this year. If people in ‘the industry’ [as we call ourselves] like it, it’s usually good, right? In this case, yes. Finger-lickin’, lip-smackin’, “BBQ.” More like Asianified-BBQ but de-rish nonetheless. We had the pork ribs [pictured above], lamb ribs, Pork loin and Porkslap beer (because they threw a party the night before and ran out of Beer Lao. Booo). I prefer either of the ribs–stronger flavors, great seasoning and texture. Seating is tight, portions are small and come on cheap-o Chinatown plates, but if you’re hankering to snack on some meat with Southeast flavors and you’re in the ‘hood, head on over. I also love their assertiveness with the spicy fish sauce and thai chili. Bangin’. Restaurants usually shy from [real] spice.

As I said, this was a meaty snack. Keep in mind it was 20 degrees F outside, aka perfect ramen weather!

Ramen Totto

I waited patiently in line for 20 min or so for a steaming hot bowl of spicy ramen. I tried the Totto Spicy Ramen as well as the Totto Chicken Paitan Ramen (the first two items on the menu). Both delicious. Compared to Ippudo, the noodles are a bit thinner but maintain their QQ. The broth was rich, deep and chicken-y, without MSG and without the after-mouth-feel of thick and nappy. Know what I mean, ramen lovers? Sometimes you get that Ippudo (that other red-and-black-themed ramen joint), on an off-day I suppose. Oh and having been in Europe for the past month and a half, I must say the spicy bamboo shoot side is quite spicy! (deserving of its 5 chilis on their chili-meter on the menu) Hmm…perhaps I should try it again after living in China for a month and a half.  I bet it would be ‘mildly spicy.’

For dinner I had quail at Café Boulud. Perfectly-cooked-pink. The waiter claimed it was not sous-vide but I still don’t believe him.

Quail with truffles, potato emulsion, spinach, pearl onions

My first NYC food truck experience. Waffles remind me of snowboarding and eating chocolate-drizzled waffles at the bottom of the slope at a Waffle Haus because waiting in a long line of skiers and snowboarders is not as fun as eating a hot, chocolatey waffle when you’re super cold and need to recharge. They also remind me of the gofre vendors in Madrid that sell waffles in the subway stations. The aroma of gofres after disembarking a crowded Madrid metro car > over-perfumation of Spaniards on metro.

Waffles and Dinges

The best [and so far, only] yakitori joint I’ve tried in NYC.  It’s not Toriki, but hey, we’re not in Tokyo. And it’s still freaking good! Try the soft bone, chicken skin and giblets!

Soba Totto

Chase that with a bowl of hot or cold soba.  The tempura was warm and crispy, although my slice of fried lotus root was sliced too thick, therefore it was difficult to chew.  Other than that, the soba noodles were the right amount of QQ, the broth smoky and full of bonito-goodness without being too salty. It’s different from Soba-Koh; the noodles are a bit thinner but they’re QQ nonetheless so pas du problem.  I’m definitely coming back for more!

Soba

More to come…

Happy 2011!

Happy Birthday, Eric and Grandma!

Last night we celebrated Eric’s 25th (solar) and Grandma Lorna’s 85th (lunar) birthdays. Mom made pig’s feet braised in soy with noodles for longevity. I spent an afternoon baking my favorite cake, a recipe from Aunt Jin that will go to the grave with me. What’s the secret to the perfect strawberry chiffon? “Looove” says Aunt Jin. I couldn’t agree more.

chiffon cakeStrawberry Chiffon Cake

with almond whipped cream and toasted sliced almonds

img_2849Eric, Grandma and Dan

img_2854Eric and Grandma

I love capturing natural, uninhibited moments of laughter like this one. Grandma blew all the candles out before Eric could. Hmm that’s not funny enough to prompt Eric’s overjoyous expression. Perhaps someone farted? Better yet, sharted?

Happy birthday to my handsome, intelligent, quirky big brother, Eric. You never cease to make me laugh.

Happy birthday to my talented, jubilant, curious grandma, Lorna.

Me: “Grandma, you’re 85! In 3 years you’ll be 88! [only the luckiest number ever to the Chinese, besides 99] Shall we celebrate in Hawaii? Or perhaps Beijing?”

Grandma: “Huh? I’m just thinking about tomorrow.”

The secret to longevity? Heck if I know. Consult a fortune cookie.