Street Food

November 13, 2009

It’s raining in New York, but I’m sitting in a little cottage in the Napa Valley,  looking out at trees, sky sunshine, thinking about this street food conference I’m attending at the CIA.  Roy Choi, the Kogi Truck guy, spoke last night, and he was so moving in a shyly quiet way. While he mixed pork (butts and bellies) in a firey red chile mixture with his rubber-gloved hands, he spoke of putting his whole soul into the food.  “I don’t like to speak while I’m doing this,” he said.  “You probably think it doesn’t matter, but I’m convinced that it does.”

Later, walking around the huge hall with, literally, hundreds of different dishes made by hundreds of different street food chefs, I couldn’t help wondering if that was the reason that the Kogi food stood out.  It was simple, but it was superb.

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The Last Party

November 3, 2009

Sitting at La Guardia, way too early, waiting for a flight to St. Louis.  Txikito threw a party for Gourmet last night, and it felt so… final.  The last time we’ll all be gathered in one room. We all drank way too much, devoured all those delicious little tidbits – crisp mushroom croquettes, pa amb tomaquet, the tomatoes tasting very much like the last fruit of Fall, and wonderfully black chiperones.  This morning I discovered that my fingers were still black from the squid ink.

When the party ended, nobody wanted to go home.  So we drifted, one huge amorphous group, across the street and into Grand Sichuan where we just kept eating and drinking.  The chiles with black beans teased and tingled, and I realized that I’ll never eat them without thinking about all those lunches in the conference room at the magazine, the table covered with little white boxes.  It was always too much food, and we always ate it all.

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Techno Idiot

November 2, 2009

People are begging me to add an RSS feed to this – and I will – as soon as Nick comes home from school and does it for me.  I’m a complete fool when it comes to this sort of thing.  Sorry. 

Meanwhile, I’ve been reading Dana Goodyear’s piece on Jonathan in this week’s New Yorker.  She’s got the food bit right, but it sidetracked her.  It sounds like nothing but endless meals.  She’s missed his quirky brillliance and his extraordinary sweetness.

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Duck U.

October 29, 2009

My latest fantasy?  A Peking Duck cart, set up smack in the middle of Times Square.  I can’t stop thinking about it; there’s a place out in Flushing that sells wonderful squares of crisp duck skin tucked into little buns with scallions and a squiggle of Hoisin sauce for a dollar.  It’s a luxurious snack, and if you set one up in midtown Manhattan there would surely be lines around the block. 

Laurie, Margy, Nancy and I bought the buns, and then went back and bought more. As we devoured the rich little tidbits we began designing the cart, the signage, even the uniforms.  We named it Duck U, and for an entire evening convinced one another that we really were going into the duck business. By the next day the fantasy had faded. Still, for about an hour every day the idea comes floating back, and I find myself dreaming of ducks.  Or at the very least, dreaming of eating those extremely delicious little duck buns.

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October 23, 2009

There's an upside to not having a job: Once again I get to wander the city, following my feet and my appetite.  The weather has been a gift – bright, shiny Indian summer – and for days I've been roaming around with my favorite people. Talking, walking, eating, arting.  One day we walked down to Madison Square Park and ate Shake Shack burgers on the lawn before spending the afternoon devouring art in the Chelsea galleries.  Another we rode the 7 train out to Flushing for soup dumplings.  We found the oldest church in America out there – a quiet Quaker building ithat looks so out of place in that bustling neighborhood. Five minutes away, we descended into the Golden Mall, a vibrant, throbbing, pungent underground warren of tiny restaurants that reminded me of the way Singapore hawker centers were before they were sanitized into pristine cleanliness.  The food down there was superb – great floppy buns filled with chives, bean threads and eggs, and lamb burgers that tingled on the tongue.  Sichuan dumplings, alive with chiles. In one corner a man from Lan Zhou was hand-pulling noodles in one spot while a woman from Xian made knife-cut noodles a few feet away.  It was all dizzyingly delicious, and it cheered me up enormously.   

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