In case you were wondering what your Feast Meets West host has been doing over break other than hibernating, here's a page from my food diary counting down to 2018. Clearly, I've been reading too much of the Grub Street Diet.
Happy belated new years everyone! See you back on air in a couple days.
Monday, Dec 25th - Merry Christmas!
A bit of an odd week to write this diary entry since 1) holidays - so not my regular eating schedule 2) stomach bug (day 3 of suffering, or as my friend Suzanne puts it “my butt falling off”) - worst timing as the holidays are a rare and glorious time in the year for guilt-free feasting. On the plus side, this is the first time I lost weight over Christmas.
Depressed due to lack of appetite. When you take away a man’s ability to fulfill their life’s passion (mine, being eating), they become a shell of their former selves. Ryan, sensing my despondency, suggested we venture into the bone-chilling cold for a bite. We made it down a few blocks to the perpetually dependable Sapporo Ichiban. We are hosting Christmas dinner so did not order too much. Shared a plate of gyoza, clam soup, a California and a sweet potato tempura roll. Still feeling nauseous, so focused energy on consuming the easy to drink clam broth for sustenance.
Proceeded to dive into dinner prep once we got home. Ryan’s vision was an all vegetarian meal with a lentil-based “meatless meatloaf” as the centerpiece, flanked by garlic mashed potatoes, and vegetables. Ryan was on the mains, using the InstantPot my mom got me for my birthday to pressure cook the lentils and potatoes. I was on veggie duty. For the roasted brussel sprouts, I used this recipe, minus the hazelnuts. For the crudite plate, I blanched some asparagus, cut up some cucumbers, plated some cherry tomatoes, poured ranch sauce into a ramekin, and called it a day. Our friend Vicky brought a lemon ricotta cheesecake from Whole Foods which took care of dessert.
Sadly, I did not eat, because stupid stomach. But Ryan and our friends enjoyed the food while we watched the Christmas classic, Home Alone 2.
Tuesday, Dec 26th
Did not wake up with stomach ache so felt a lot more cheery today. Had a sliver of yesterday’s cheesecake for breakfast and did not immediately explode. Very promising.
Checked out the “Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World” exhibit at the Guggenheim with Vicky. We had some hot chocolate after to reward ourselves after such challenging art. Again, stomach feels settled and excited to put more solid things into it.
Met up with Suzanne at Yaso Tangbao in Downtown Brooklyn before catching “Call Me By Your Name” at the Alamo Drafthouse. Note, soup dumplings are a genius idea for any day, but especially an arctic day. Got the regular pork, and crab & pork soup dumplings, the non soup-dumpling pork dumplings in broth, and pan fried baos. Soup dumplings were tasty morsels, the broth in them was light, and they were budget friendly.
At the movies, Suz and I shared some soft pretzels dipped in mustard. Good carbs. Good movie.
Wednesday, Dec 27th
We ended up at Frankel’s Delicatessen for lunch. Normally would get a bagel (kind of a weekly habit at this point), but was feeling kooky so ordered the BLT instead.
On Day 2 of my winter break culture mission and decided to go to the Queens Museum with Ryan to check out the “Never Built New York” exhibit. This was my favorite cultural activity of the week. Most impressed by the to-scale Panorama of NYC model.
Waited until I got home to eat since I had a dentist appointment in the afternoon and didn’t want to attack my dentist with food breath. Normally would be whining with hunger but stomach bug has really done a number on me.
Ryan’s obsession and experimentation with the InstantPot continues. He made some risotto. Hm, not so good. The creamy starches that are released during stirring were not present. He says he will try again and make it work. Anyway, I ended up making a bowl of Shin ramen. After I stirred in all the little flavor packets, I dropped an egg in for a nice runny yolk.
Thursday, Dec 28th
Had to catch up on work, so no art today. To get me through the day, I had some avocado a la Alison Roman (of Dining In) with her “Everything” seed mixture, lemon juice, spread on toasted english muffins. Pleased to say that Alison has personally approved my choice of vehicle for avocado consumption.
In preparation for forthcoming 2018 Feast Meets West episodes (sneak peek, folks!), I went to Chinatown to meet up with Sophie Maarleveld of Nom Wah Tu. We had a chat over a pot of green tea about pairing beverages with Chinese food. Then, walked over to the nearby Hwa Yuan where I met the Chef’s son, James Tang, for a tour of the restaurant, a brief history of the restaurant, and a taste of some of their popular dishes including our recording topic of choice - the sesame noodles. Really looking fwd to our upcoming episodes!
Back home, I continued eating the leftover scallion pancakes, stir-fried beef, and spicy wontons for dinner, while watching “Coming to America” for the first time. Filling in my US culture gap.
Friday, Dec 29th
Went to Jongro KBBQ with some friends for a proper lunch feast. We inhaled platters of beef, pork, stews, and a seafood pancake. Welcome back appetite! Regulars of K-town BBQ joints (aka Vicky) say the meat here is the best.
After lunch I met up with Seung Hee Lee of Everyday Korean for a chat at Radiance Tea House in midtown. This tea house is a blessing in an otherwise annoyingly touristy and lacking part of town. We shared a pot of the “spring beauty”, a black tea infused with rosebuds, dates, and faintly sweet with brown sugar - supposedly good for things like vitality, blood and skin.
Met up with Ryan for a date at the The Met, now on day 3 of my winter break culture mission. Everyone apparently had the same brilliant idea. We waited in line and battled crowds of puffy jackets to check out the Michelangelo and David Hockney special exhibits. The ordeal required a drink where I experienced the most enjoyable part of the museum visit - a limoncello martini at the balcony bar.
On the way home, dropped by Keste Williamsburg, where we shared a pizza. Pizza was delicious, but this location was sparse and seems more optimized for the delivery operation, unlike the inviting West Village original. Pizza was not enough (sharing was Ryan’s idea), so got some Nestle cookie dough - warm cookies for lazy people. Didn’t put them in a cookie jar fast enough and Ryan ate all the cookies.
Saturday, Dec 30th
Started the day at the East River Park where I sent my dead fish ("Alpha" the betta fish) to sea. The memorial brunch took place at Reynard with Alpha’s inner circle.
Headed around the block to Westlight for end of year drinks. Still think this is one of the best views in the city. Let’s pour one out for my fish, and for the generally shitty year known as 2017.
Had too many cocktails, followed by more wine at home. Need nap. Fell asleep at 9pm like an adult.
Sunday, Dec 31st - New Years Eve!
Hooray, we made it through the year intact! Despite the deteriorating global climate, there is much to be thankful for.
Cleaned the house and rewarded myself with a bowl of spicy beef noodles with soup from Xi'an Famous Foods.