Tuesday, 29 September 2009

now where did I get to?

I got distracted from my slightly crazed recollections of what we ate in NY. Crazed because we don't get to eat out a lot, and both the husband and I come from rich cultural backgrounds that have imbued us with some very strong food memories and their concomitant cravings. So in New York we indulged first my congee habit, and that evening we went to satisfy Mark's Ukrainian needs at Veselka.

Now, I've had a bit of Ukrainian cooking before, courtesy of the husband's mother and grandmother and it was very good. This was spectacular. We had borscht to die for, various crispy, moreish pierogi, a giant cabbage roll and beetroot and horseradish salad. We were both more than satisfied and the husband pleasantly surprised at my enthusiasm. But then I have a lot of enthusiasm for starchy products involving mostly pork and root vegetables, so what is there not to like?

Monday, 28 September 2009

you know you're getting old when...

this turns up in a vintage online shop and you remember having one in the house as a child. Oh deary me!

Thursday, 24 September 2009

the husband goes to Prague and he gets me...?

PICKLED SAUSAGE! I can't bloody wait. He knows me too well. We also have a jar of pickled peppers. A match made in vinegar heaven!

Tuesday, 22 September 2009


with work and snot. I've somehow caught a cold. Since last Monday I have only been out of the house once and I guess I must have caught it then. That's what you get for hanging out in too many charity shops.

I have been pondering the saturation of the internet with blogs. It's ridiculous. What are we all trying to do? It's like mass diary-writing and the vast majority of it is TRIPE. There are just SO MANY of us, all writing pointless shite in the hope that one day we'll either:

1) Have enough readers in order to be able to monetise our blogs and make a living out of writing shit.
2) Get noticed by a big publisher and be commissioned to write a book about our sad little lives

Or both. I try not to be cynical. I try not to think like this. I'm just here writing down stuff that I like and the things I think about, right? And it's all bollocks, so if I don't get any readers I don't mind. Who wants to read endless posts about congee anyway? I'm not even being useful and writing any recipes down. Not I - I keep these things to myself for no good reason.

Anyhoo. I'm going to go and snivel into a wad of tissues for the rest of the day and try to think up new ways of trying to be interesting to other people.

Monday, 21 September 2009


The congee I made the other day was pretty good. I was really quite impressed with myself. The reason why I have started to make it was because of a wonderful congee experience we had in New York. Now, it's not rocket science making this stuff, it's not clever or difficult. I grew up on the stuff - with meatballs and crispy vermicelli, chicken, dried scallops, salt pork, thousand-year egg, pork liver, whatever... It's the ultimate comfort food. It smells like home. Eaten with hot pickled turnips and pickled tofu, it is the food of the gods. I'm not kidding - rice boiled to within an inch of its life is one of the best things in the world.

So for breakfast we headed out to Chinatown and Big Wong in particular, looking for congee. The restaurant is simple and cheap-looking, just like places in Hong Kong, with water served in plastic tumblers and a bottle of soy sauce on the side - you'd never know from looking at it that it would be worth going inside but with this place it's all about the food. We had one bowl with salt pork and thousand year egg and another with pork meatballs. It was creamy and well seasoned but didn't have the horrid taste of MSG or anything odd. It was like home, where I like my congee with white pepper and soy sauce. It was like balm to a stomach that had been overfed on weird shit the day before.

After that we went in search of bubble tea, a very popular drink in Hong Kong and other parts of Asia. In HK I like what they call 'yin yang' - a mix of tea and coffee, and unsweetened if possible. We didn't get that - I had a sweet milk tea that tasted a bit odd, but it was fun nevertheless to sit in a little candy-coloured shop and suck up the chewy tapioca balls through fat straws.

Friday, 18 September 2009

the things we ate...

Most of the things we did in New York pale in comparison to some of the joyful eats we had. Actually, most of the things we did in New York were acts of joyful eating. We didn't bother to do the touristy things - I've seen the Empire State Building from the street - who wants to pay $21 dollars to go 84% of the way up (it costs $15 more to go from the 86th to the 102nd floor!)? We went to the awe-inspiring Met, and I made pilgrimage to the American Museum of Natural History, but that's about all we did that was standard. Nay, we had better things to do.

I won't bore you with a long list of everything we ate, but the highlights were many. Before we left, I'd determined that I would eat bánh mì. I don't make promises like that to myself and then break them, so for our first lunch we went to Saigon Vietnamese Sandwich near Chinatown and satisfied that urge. And my lord was it satisfying. There's something about the combination of meat and pickles, hot sauce and coriander that really makes this really special. We ate it sitting in a park and washed it down with mangosteen juice. I know it's vulgar to put up pictures of half-eaten food but really I couldn't wait to eat at least some of it before I took a photo. Be grateful, I nearly couldn't stop eating to pick up the camera at all :-)

Next up was dinner that night - Jewish. We ended up in a seedy-looking diner that, from the outside looked like any other greasy burger joint in London: all neon signs and laminated menus in the window, glass counter with days-old food in plastic tubs and take-away boxes on the side. It looked empty. I wasn't sure. But Fine and Schapiro is one of the bastions of the New York Jewish deli scene having been in business since 1927 and is not to be sniffed at nor feared. Sure the interior is shabby and dated but that is part of the character and joy of this place. The night we went it was populated with two lone male diners. One of them looked like he went there all the time, so I ordered what he had - a pastrami sandwich. It was fabulous. An enormous, meaty, fatty, caraway-seed-peppered thing of beauty. Everything here is served with a big bowl of pickled gherkins and home-made coleslaw. It was cheap and tasty - what more can a girl ask for? Here are another couple of vulgar pictures under bad lighting for you:

Enough for today. I have to go and tend the congee I'm attempting to cook. More next time!

Monday, 14 September 2009

Well well...

I am exhausted, overwhelmed, sated. New York was magnificent - a cacophony of wonderful things that I will eventually get round to writing about. First I must make lists or I will be drowned by the volume of the joyful things we did. It's like a new infatuation...

Image above: Clinton St. Baking Company & Restaurant at breakfast.