This week signified my 9th week without cakes, cookies, rice, bread...all those kinds of things. I didn't go insane, but the overall restriction and my food phobia drove me to come up with a more reasonable diet as noted in my last entry:
- I can go out with friends to eat almost whatever I want two times a week maximum (I'd need a really good reason to go over that; for example, the coming of the Apocalypse)
- When eating out, only try something known to contribute to ill health/heart disease/diabetes/sugar coma if I REALLY want it
- For the other five days, I should eat a mainly raw diet, probably consisting of fruit and honey, with exceptions made for chocolate because...oh, like I need to explain
Today I met up with Diana to go fooding after doing my research on dumpling places in Chinatown on eGullet and chowhound (both very addictive websites, by the way). I was excited since I actually had an enjoyable Monday and I haven't had dumplings in ages. I cut out anything wrapped in wheat during my "NO WHEAT" phase (but I did cheat with foods that contained flour when I had fish pudding and okonomiyaki).
I heard Dumpling House was good so we walked up to the somewhat creepy and deserted street that is Eldridge to come across a not too crowded place. We must've walked in a millisecond before the dumpling obsessed LES-ers were called by the dumpling whistle because it was suddenly packed. Diana was able to order her dumplings before everyone else came in and I was left wondering how I was supposed to order anything.
I know Chinese places aren't known for service. In fact, it would be abnormal to find one that had good service, as sad as that is for me to say. You just don't expect much (I don't at least). I'm embarassed by my sensitivity because...I'm hyper sensitive. There's no point in explaining my sensitivity but waiting there and noticing that other people that came in after me already had their orders destroyed my appetite. Honestly, standing there made any desire for fried dumplings disappear. If you know me well, that's amazing.
So Dumpling House might have good dumplings, but I don't know and I have no desire to go there again. It's not like they lost any business from me. If you go, just shout your order to them over and over again or something.
However, not all was lost as I was also on a mission for cupcakes, specifically at Sugar Sweet Sunshine. I went there before with Diana but I didn't try the cupcakes since I was still on the no-wheat thing. On the way I wanted to stop by Fried Dumpling for a different cheap dumpling fix and thankfully, they weren't crowded.
$1.50 later I had five yummy num fried pork dumplings and a hulking slice of scallion pancake that I couldn't even finish (I just finished it now while typing this). The dinner can't make any health claims but I don't think you can do any better for $1.50. It's my new favorite "cheap eat".
Sugar Sweet Sunshine is also my new favorite bakery. In general I like all bakeries but there's a good amount of seating in the homey-retro interior. Ah, ambiance is a lovely thing when done right. I don't need ambiance at a Chinese restaurant as all I really want is the food, but can you imagine going to a small dumpling place with a pleasing atmosphere where you could sit back and relax? Perhaps a Starbucks-esque dumpling house? I guess the dumplings would cost too much then but I think the only reason I'd ever feel compelled to start a food business is to make a nice place that serves Chinese food. I know there are nice places out there but if you've been to Chinatown, you know what I'm talking about.
To speak more about Chinese food places (I will get to the bakery!), Dumpling House reminded me of random places in Taiwan. I loved Taiwan (well, Taipei); within five minutes I could walk to one of the most upscale malls on the island or go to a cheap market behind my apartment while see adults walk around in flimsy plastic slippers to buy something from the local convenience mart (Family Mart = my savior) and pass businessmen going to their offices. There was lots of great food, yet I wasn't obsessed with food at the time so I can't say much about it. I think I actually eat more Chinese food here than I did in Taiwan since there I tended to eat at western-esque style buffets and...god knows what else. No really, I can't remember. I think I ate a lot of Japanese food or something. Oh, and lots of McDonalds (I lived around the corner from one).
Anyway, I was just reminiscing. A few awesome things I remember: at the corner of the street I lived on was a food vendor that made delicious sandwiches and savory crepe-like items from a van/kitchen. The crepe was amazing and it must have a real name but I have no idea what it it. The vendor would chop a bit of dough, squish it out on the flat ...cooking surface thing (a shame I can't remember considering this is what I study), squirt on some sauce, meat bits, other things, and fold it all up in what resembled a flat burrito. I've never seen anything like it anywhere else. I don't think it was even Chinese, but I'm guessing there were other vendors scattered throughout the city that made the same thing. I also have no idea what the sandwiches they made were called, nor have I seen anything like them since, but they were also delicious meat (and possibly mayo) filled gems. Another vendor that was near my apartment (but not always there) was the scallion pancake dude. The thin, multi-layered pancakes were so greasy that they transformed the paper wrapping into a tranluscent window of oil but that was part of the charm. I've never seen any scallion pancake similar to that in Chinatown, where I've only found bready scallion pancakes.
Wow, what a digression. So, back to Sugar Sweet Sunshine! I love it. I've never been into cupcakes, not even when I was little (I prefered to scrape off the icing) yet in my old age (nearing two decades of life; god help us all) I've grown a monster of a sweet tooth. It has a life of its own, the nasty little honey-devouring bugger. I haven't figured out if I process sugar more easily than other people, if I'm on the road towards diabetes or if my taste buds just aren't sensitive enough. The weird thing is that my sense of smell is rather good (in my opinion) yet my taste isn't, and taste is directly connected to smell. [shrugs]
After perusing the two counters (one only contains cupcakes while the other has non-cupcake baked goods and pudding) I started with a sunshine cupcake consisting of yellow cake and vanilla buttercream. The icing had hardened a bit but it wasn't overwhelming sweet (to me that is, which means to a normal person it may be) and the cake was moist to the point that it felt like it was melting in my mouth. Mm, that is good cupcake cake. Diana had a slice of chunky apple pie, whose cinnamon smell was overpowering in a good way. (This is an example of how I smell things better than I taste them...maybe.)
The cupcake left me wanting more. MOORE! OH GOD MORE! I'm on a mission to try every cupcake they have (and as there are eight kinds that means it'll take me at least another seven months; I've decided that I should only go there once a month although for a second I toyed with the idea of making it a weekly indulgence) but I decided to get something of the non-cupcake variety. A lone, fat slice of chocolate cake with white icing stared at me with its nonexistent eyes...I COULD FEEL IT. It beckoned me, whispering "Don't be stupid, Robyn -- I'm chocolate flavored! Put me out of my misery or I'll just get mixed with someone else's stomach fluids. Robyn, I want YOUR stomach fluids."
Thank god Diana helped me eat it or I probably would've puked trying to finish the damn thing, but if I had to I think I could've done it (leaving Diana the task to roll me back to my dorm in a sugar coma). The cake was moist although less melty than the cupcake. Diana isn't a fan of icing so I polished that off. Getting the ridiculously huge slice of cake ($4.25) was probably a good thing as from that I learned that one cupcake is enough. In the future I either have to not eat dinner before going to Sugar Sweet Sunshine or only get one cupcake and nothing else. The second conclusion is probably more prudent but you know I'd skip dinner food and go straight for the dessert.
So for $1.50 I got a simple, satisfying dumpling meal and I ate less than $5 of sugary wheat-filled desserts. Plan for tomorrow? Fruit + honey recovery. The indulgence was worth it though. :)