The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

downtown fooding tour + no sweets

Right now, I feel like a freshly pumped tire. That's fine if you're a tire. However, I am not. [pokes self] Yup, I'm still just skin, bone, minimal muscle mass, saturated fats, failure and disappointment. (The last two aren't physical! Heehee!)

I feel more full right now than I did yesterday, which is kind of amazing. Why? Welllll, sit back, grab some unhealthy easy-to-munch-on foodstuffs, and I'll tell you the story of "Walking Around A Few Miles And Eating Along The Way With My Friend Jason Because Why Else Would We Walk For Miles? Hint: Not For Exercise."

Jason, my freshman bio lab parter with a penchant for fooding and other cool things, met me at my dorm at noon. I could see the mad sparkle in his eyes and hear the excitement in his voice at the prospect of roaming around for hours in the thankfully warm-ish weather while searching for foodstuffs. Jason's a great friend because I can drag him to shops of sugary delights and he won't think I'm insane! Kinda. ...Well. We're all insane. Jason and I have a few loose screws.

coconut macaron
coconut macaron
pistachio macaron
pistachio macaron

First sugary stop was my neighborhood joint (where all the hip, cool kids hang out!, no) Financier. I wasn't very hungry so I didn't know what to get, but since Jason got a large pistachio macaron with pistachio filling ($1.50), I decided to also get a large, coconut macaron with lemon filling. Better than their mini-me counterparts in taste and value, I'd say they were...preeettty good. What does that mean? I wouldn't dream about them, but I'd eat them again. The problem with the miniature ones in my opinion is that they're too dry. Larger ones have more "innards" that can stay moist. Ye hear? Moist innards. It's all the rage. The coconut one wasn't very coconut-y and while the lemon filling was good, I would've prefered a less strong flavor. Pistachio was the clear winner. If you've never had a macaraon before, try it out. If you have had one before...try it anyway.

After walking through the high-rise (and "people in business suits") dominated, but picturesque Financial District, we walked through the less picturesque (but more food-filled) Chinatown until we reached Il Laboratorio del Gelato. As a testament to my love for this place, it was my second visit within a three-day period. I rarely visit the same place in such a narrow time frame, but when the situation calls for ice cream, is there any other choice? NOOOO. Everything else is just cat pee! Or. Not. Bad comparison. I wouldn't even know what cat pee tastes like.

pomegranate and cinnamon
pomegranate sorbet and cinnamon ice cream
hello, tilt
black sesame and strawberry ice cream

...Anyway, as usual everything was "the best" I've ever had (which might not be saying much), strong flavors melding with creamy sweetness in lactose harmony (lactarmony!). I didn't have to think twice about getting black sesame, which reminded me a helluva lot of black sesame Pocky (I really wasn't kidding when I said black sesame Pocky was one of the best things I've ever tasted) but with actual sesame bits in it, and strawberry was a "on a whim" choice. It was good, not exactly like eating freshly picked summer strawberries, but it is January after all. Jason's cinnamon ice cream may have been the only cinnamon ice cream I've ever tasted, but I doubt anything will compare (there goes Il Lab, destroying all subsequent fooding experiences). A problem with his pomegranate sorbet/cinnamon ice cream combination was that the tartness and strength of the pomegranate flavor totally smothered the cinnamon. The cinnamon gave muffled, milky screams, while the pomegranate shoved a garden hoe in its face. Repeatedly. (Don't ask me where it got the garden hoe; it's sneaky.) Pomegranates are violent. So...don't combine those flavors.

looking down on dumplings
Fried pork dumplings

Since Fried Dumpling was just a few steps away (kinda), I decided to show Jason one of my favorite cheap eats that I'd visit more often if it were closer and I were less lazy. If you're not a glutton, you may be satisfied plunking (...does anyone really "plunk"?) down $1 for five golden, fried pork dumplings of questionable quality, but undeniable tastiness due to being fried and costing as much as...[fill in the blank with something that costs $1 but is suckier than 5 dumplings].

sesame pancake
sesame pancake

While Jason ate his dumpling, I munched on a sesame pancake, easily the best $0.50 slab of leavened wheat I've ever had. I've had sesame pancakes before, but never one that was fresh or as good as Fried Dumpling's. The "sesame" part of the name comes from the sesame sprinkled on top. The actual bread is pretty plain besides throwing chopped up chives bits at you every now and then. The beauty of the bread is in its soft texture and layered...layers. (I'm not patting myself on the back for that description.) File this under "Favorite Foods in NYC". It may also go under, "Food I'll Be Forced To Live On If I Become Really Poor And Am Not Driven To Suicide."

Jason wanted to check out Rice to Riches but we were still pretty stuffed know, everything we had already eaten. So we roamed. Ladeeda. Stepped into Ceci Cela to stare at some pastries before I remembered that Eileen's Cheesecake was nearby.

Eileen's Cheesecake
Eileen's Cheesecake

Alas, it was too nearby. We had practically stepped out of one bakery and entered another. (They're around the corner from each other, kinda. It just felt like an onslaught of tasty foods was FREAKIN' EVERYWHERE.) Jason cried, "Oh no, that was too close!" (we were hoping to walk longer than 30 seconds) but we were already inside the place. We shared a mini banana cheesecake ($2.50) which fortunately didn't do much stomach damage. You can get an idea of how large it is from the banana slices on top. I don't think the cheesecake was actually banana flavored, but...uh, it has banana slices on it! So. Yup. It was good, but far from "ZOMG, I'M GONNA SELL MY SOUL FOR THIS CHEESECAKE" good. I had only gone to Eileen's once and got a miniature mousse cake, of all things (because obviously, they specialize in cheesecake), but that was really good. I don't dislike cheesecake, but I'm definitely not a cheesecake lover and I really only eat it out of curiosity if I hear it's "good" than out of any craving. On the other hand, I'll eat most cupcakes and bread if they look...edible.

extra tasty
extra tasty?

Around another corner was Sur La Table, purveyor of baking supplies, multicolored sugar, categoried cookie cutters, dishware, cookbooks, a gazillion spatulas, and "extra tasty evoo". I've never seen Rachel Ray's olive oil before, so I thought it was worth photographing. IT'S EXTRA TASTY! SHE CANNOT LIE ABOUT THE EVOO! EVOOOOOOOOO!!!

rice pudding sizes

Jason wanted to try out Rice to Riches, so we made that our last eating destination. Rice to Riches was actually the first really "cooked" food I had while on my raw food diet more than a year ago. It made me break out of my shell (self portrait alert...SFW)! KABOOM! ...Okay, not really. I don't know what made rice pudding sound so appealing at the time, considering that it's not something I ever ate or desired on a regular basis up until that point. But a whole shop devoted to rice pudding? That's just insane! And you know me; I like insane food. And people. Some of them. The ones who don't foam at the mouth or stab random people.

rice pudding
rice pudding counter

Rice to Riches is like an ice cream shop, but with a gazillion flavors of pudding instead of ice cream. Why isn't there a plain, non-rice pudding shop like this? Seriously! I'd love to have one; it would be called Poobs' Pudding Shop. Of course, pudding with rice is great and I think this is the best rice pudding you'll ever find. I didn't know how good it was the first time since I didn't have much to compare it to, but since then after eating average rice pudding, I'm sure this is one of the best.

ship it anywhere
ship it anywhere

I suppose other people feel the same way or else it wouldn't make sense to have this sleek, technologically advanced (it's self cleaning!) pudding kiosk. Man, people are freakin' desperate. This was only my second visit to Rice to Riches since actually living in NYC and the other time I had gone was mainly because one of my friends wanted to go. I never get a craving for rice pudding, but I guess it's nice to know that if I ever find myself in such a vulnerable state, I can make a pact with the devil and get some puddin' after handing over my soul. And $5.

mascarpone with cherries
mascarpone with cherries

Jason and I shared a "solo" bowl of mascarpone and cherry pudding. Of course, it was great. Can't say much else about it. Creamy? Flavorful? It's pudalicious? You'll have to eat it yourself to find out. I highly recommend bringing someone to share with because unless you reallllly like rice pudding, the solo may be too much for one person. Of course, Jason and I had consumed 1000+ calories prior to eating the pudding, so we weren't especially hungry.

We roamed around some more to Japantown (ie, Sunrise Mart, JAS Mart, and Cafe Zaiya) before our final food-buying destination of Beard Papa's so Jason could buy cream puffs for his family. Aw. He also stocked up at Cafe Zaiya. My brother would never do such a thing...well, he stocks up on stuffed animal penguins but that's a whole other session with my psychologist. (Kidding about the psychologist! Not about the penguins. He's single, ladeez!)

Yesterday was fun, but obviously marked a turning point in massive eating (although you can keep in mind that we shared a lot of things and I walked about 5 miles in the process) that I should slow down, or stop. Today I thought, "I'll be good and try not to stuff my intestines like sausages," and I kind of succeeded, except I feel very full despite hopefully eating less than I did yesterday. (Yesterday I also ate some chocolate and a small dinner of rice noodles, snow peas, and an egg.) Or did I?

Today I didn't eat any "real" food until 5:30 PM after getting out of work and even at that point, I wasn't very hungry. Admittedly, I was thinking about food all throughout work but I couldn't think of what to buy because I wasn't hungry enough for anything in particular. Figuring visual cues would spark some desire, I walked home to pick up food (a slice of pizza bianca, which I surprisingly haven't finished yet, a bag of 50 pork and chive bun-like dumplings from Sun Dou Dumpling Shop which I haven't been to in ages, and a 2 1/2 pound head of Chinese cabbage for steaming dumplings) and then, like a reflex, automatically steamed some dumplings when I walked into my dorm room. I AM A ROBOT, AND I STEAM DUMPLINGS. (I'm not a very useful robot. Actually, I came from the "reject" factory and was bought at 90% off with the added bonus of a free juicer and recipe booklet. Or maybe that was for something else.)

So. I ate too many dumplings. 12. I could eat more than 12 dumplings 10 years ago! When did 12 dumplings become too many? Or maybe my stomach shrank.

But but BUT, the weirdest thing is that I didn't have much desire to eat sweet things. I walked past Chinatowns cheap-ass bakeries and didn't want a single thing. I don't know about you, but that scares me. It's not that I craved salty food (I actually found the pizza bianca too salty, for the first time ever), but it makes more sense to not eat sweet baked goods as a mean of sustenance if you don't crave them.

Not in the mood for sugar. (scratches head) My god, it's a nightmare.


mzn / January 11, 2006 12:19 AM

That Ray-Ray brand EVOO is freaking me out. Are we going to see her idiotic smile on every product in the supermarket before long? On pre-chopped veggies and pints of sherbet that she can turn into a "homemade" dessert by pouring Frangelico over them? Does anyone else fear for the future of civilization?

mumu / January 11, 2006 12:43 AM

I ate about 12 dumplings last night too -- made shrimp and pork dumplings. I was stuffed. But they were good dumplings. Sure made my lousy day better.

Kathy / January 11, 2006 2:30 AM

It's weird. Having similar eating habits to you, I've always wonder how long I could stay eating excessively large portions of food before I explode of got some horrible disease. I sometimes try to justify it by telling myself its for the sake of blogging and experiencing...erm, but hopefully whatever hit you will also hit me. :)

Wei / January 11, 2006 12:45 PM

I think as long as you have a variety of different foods rather than a single food, you should be fine. Although, large portions can easily be controlled as well. BTW, 12 dumplings isn't that much. ;)

roboppy / January 11, 2006 1:02 PM

mzn: Fear, I do. [shudders]

mumu: Yay, I'm not the only one! Sorry about your lousy day. :( Little dumps make it all better.

Kathy: WE ARE BOTH DOOMED. I feel more doomed than you though. I'm sure living in Hawaii is ...healthier! Cos. It's. Got nicer air? Sun? Good stuff? :)

Wei: I guess I did eat somewhat of a variety. HEY, I had meat! In the dumplings! :D I don't know how I became full on 12 dumplings; that's just as weird as me not wanting any sweets.

Liz / January 11, 2006 1:03 PM

You found Rice to Riches! I wanted to go there over New Year's, but for some reason I can never get their site working. And Il Laboratorio is on my list now- must compare with Otto. Those pics are great! Be careful you don't burn yourself out on all that good food ;-)

Jessica "Su Good Eats" / January 14, 2006 9:47 PM

You wouldn't happen to know when il Lab has black sesame, would you? Whenever I go, they only have the boring flavors. No apple. No walnut. I really want to try the black sesame!

D / February 3, 2006 10:32 PM

i really enjoyed reading this blog! Im just like you, always on the lookout for good food...rock on

Gerald / March 3, 2006 12:00 PM

I actually think Financier's macarons are too humongous, I like Payard and Maison du Chocolat's better.

I still have not been to Eileen's or Il Laboratorio! Someday soon!

roboppy / March 4, 2006 11:13 AM

Gerald: Too humongous? NEVER. NOOO. La Maison makes ginormous macarons too; those are awesome! ;D Be sure to check out the other desserty places. I just went to a bakery last night that was awesome...ANOTHER PLACE TO GO, BWAHAHA.

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