Last Monday Lee Anne came back from her "European Tour of Magic and Cool Stuff Like Eating Chocolates and Sneaking Into a Parisian Hostel's Closet." She went to Barcelona, Bologna, Paris, London, Switzerland, and probably other places...maybe the moon...okay, probably not the moon. But if anyone can go to the moon, she probably could. She's very smart. Or she would find a way to hitch a ride on a space shuttle by her cunningness and/or charm.
So anyway, she came back to her American homeland! To NYC...as a stopover to AZ! So she could meet up with me! And get a facial! But I hope I'm mildly more of a draw than a facial. Even if it's a really good facial. I perform no skin clearing. If anything, my fooding guidance will ensure that you get clogged pores. YOUR PORES, THEY WILL CLOG. And this is how.
We shall start with slices of fatty pork from Ramen Setagaya. It was actually Nick, not I, who suggested we go to Setagaya. Of course, I wouldn't pass up a new ramen shop. It's cheap. It's delicious. And, most importantly, it tends to feature pork. That's like, 20 points right there in my nonexistent rating system. I don't think I ate the extra side of pork we ordered though since I already had a few slices on my bowl of noods.
Unlike other ramen shops, Setagaya only does one kind of broth: shio (salt). Doesn't give you much trouble in making a decision. The ramen is topped with seaweed, bamboo shoots, half of a soft-boiled egg, shaved Japanese onions, and pork, pork, PORK. Thin slice of pork and fatty skin. My favorite.
I wasn't overjoyed by the noodles (nothing else compares to buckwheat soba in my world), but I liked them more than most. Firm, just slightly chewy perhaps, and very thin.
So...the broth. That's the key thing here, right? Kinda? Well. I didn't not like it, but my collagen-loving taste buds were slightly disappointed by the thin broth. You should probably know that I don't prefer thin soups; I'm into chowders and stews and things with chunks, the kind of thing that Campbell's tries to market towards men who want non-wimpy soup full of solid ingredients. The shio broth was light, not overly salty, and had all these nice flavors that I unfortunately cannot recount to you because my taste buds are as developed as a malformed fetus and are best at identify flavors like "butter", "salt", and "ew, no." However, I longed for Minca's broth, which is thick, not very subtle, and likely to give you sodium poisoning. That's just me. Judge me if you must.
We also shared a little dish of chilled edamame. I like eating edamame. Like sucking the smooth, spherical babies out of a mother pod in small satisfying pops. ...Wait, that sounds gross...ah well, you know it's true.
What do you eat to cleanse the palate of ramen? ICE CREAM! Duuurrh. This is the tradition that Nick and I have created. Of course, we would gladly follow any meal with ice cream. Because ice cream is one of the best foodstuffs on earth and if we could just share a huge-ass bowl of ice cream spanning several continents we could all unite in harmony and ice cream headaches. Except for the lactards. We can whip up some sorbet for them.
We went to Mary's Dairy where I got a small cup of White on White—French vanilla ice cream with white chocolate chunks, and Sandy—mild chocolate ice cream with pieces of pistachio halvah. You could share a small cup with someone else (I shared with Lee Anne) and be satisfied with the fat content that you've ingested. While I used to be horrified by the tiny portions seemingly fit for hummingbirds given in Paris, I'm starting to appreciate them more now that I've found that the smallest size in American ice cream shops is usually kinda...big. But I guess a contributing factor of my problem with tiny Parisian scoops is that they still cost a buttload for something the size of a golf ball. You don't get your bang for your buck. Or euro.
ANYWAY. Mary's Dairy won't blow your mind, but it's better than average and a place I'd go back to. Creamy, smooth, dense, not tacky. I liked the Sandy flavor more for it's creamsicle-esque chocolate ice cream and large, but not overpowering, chunks of halvah.
Nick got the Mocha Almond Fudge, or something else that was coffee flavored. Ice cream is the most acceptable form of coffee for me, but...nah, my tastes buds still don't wholly accept it. I think I'm better off not being dependent on coffee, even if that means I look half comatose every morning.
Many thanks to Nick for not so discreetly paying for our dinner (COUGH) and offering to carry Lee Anne's backpack after dinner. It's no ordinary backpack; it's the kind that you could fit a dead body in. And it probably felt about that heavy.
Did I mention that I like pork?
I craved pork. And fried starchy things. And...pork. Which is why I directed Lee Anne, her friend Melody, and I to El Castillo de Jagua for dinner last Tuesday.
I like the feel of the restaurant. The fluorescent lights. The clear vinyl table covering. The waitresses. It feels kinda old in the nice, not dilapidated, way. I find it comforting for whatever reason. Know what I mean? Maybe?...neh?...muh...
I don't usually order drinks. Unless it's a shake. The banana shake was a winner to me for being quite thick and full of ripe banana tastiness, aka the crushed, pulverized souls of innocent fruits that failed to escape the destructive power of man's blender. THE BLENDER, IT IS OPPRESSIVE. I think El Castillo de Jagua most well known for their papaya shake, but since I had tried that the last time I went for something different.
It didn't take me long to decide on a plate of pernil, large, meaty shreds of roast pork shoulder. It may not be the best pernil (not that I have much to compare it to), but it's tender, mostly juicy except for some wayward dry bits around the edges, and it all bathes in a pool of porky sodium enriched fat squeezins. I LOVE DEM SQUEEZINS! I wouldn't want to drink it straight, but if I could bottle it up I wouldn't mind using it as a seasoning.
Since I am a big fan of the crossover between the starchy and deep fried categories, I couldn't resist a plate of fried plantains. Except I really should've because there was no way I could eat much of the compressed patties. Strangely, everything else on our table was highly salted except for the plantains, which tasted like they had negative salt content. Any salt I sprinkled onto it bounced right off its impenetrable yellow shell, so I dipped it into my meat squeezins instead. Victory! Somewhat. There are also various sauces on the table that you could use, but we didn't think of doing that.
Lee Anne ordered a roast garlic chicken leg and plate of yellow rice. The chicken was insanely tender and juicy, a sponge of meat-ness and salt. The yellow rice was pretty awesome. Tasted...yellow. Which means it was a bit firm. I'm not sure what the definition of yellow rice is; I just know that I like it.
I left Melody's giant combination plate of stuff for the end because I don't remember what was on it. Or rather, I thought the intarwubs would have the description, but it has failed me. Or the restaurant changed their menu since it could be plastered online. Hohum. Looks like there's a nice salad, fried plantains, rice and beans, and a pile of what reminded me of fries if the fries were made of pork. (If you know the real name of this, please chime in, for I am dumbz.) The fat pork sticks were dry, but not inedibly so. Just..."Man, this is really dry"-so. The meat pulled apart easily and was laden with, ohhh you guessed it, SALTY TASTINESS, probably at a level that only my numb taste buds could handle. I actually really liked the pork chunks, but didn't eat much of them since I wanted to focus on my plate of pernil. Maybe I'll get it next time.
No one needed free bread to go with our mountains of food. But there it was. Pre-buttered and perhaps garlic-ed as well. I think we ate it all. We were unable to finish most of the other food so Melody doggie bagged the remains, giving her possibly another week of pork and sodium-enriched sustenance.
Despite the stuffed bellies, we couldn't avoid going to Sugar Sweet Sunshine when it was just down the street. The cupcakes...they called for us. In a secret cupcake language that I choose not to reveal. The cupcakes can be bastards when it comes to revealing their secrets. They're all like, "Hey, don't spill our secrets, or else we'll suffocate you in your sleep with a bucket of frosting, blah blah," but ye know, it's all empty threats. I think.
I loved the colorful candy topping on the lemon cupcake. The itty bitty splash of color somehow made the cupcake just SO MUCH MORE EXCITING and adorable. It's a cupcake accessory. Maybe I could use one of those. Like sprinkles for humans. Is that called "jewelry?" Eh, nevermind.
My pumpkin cupcake with thick cream cheesy frosting was moist, sweeeet (as opposed to plain ol' sweet) and full of fall flavors, or whatever it is that pumpkin is suppose to remind you of. It reminds me of...fall. Maybe it reminds you of something else. "Giant squash."
On the train ride home I drew a Poofy comic in Lee Anne's notebook because for whatever reason she came up with the idea of pancakes bursting out of Poofy's belly and my morbid humor thought, "OMG THAT IS HILARIOUS, I NEED TO DRAW THAT." So I did. I can only draw one thing well, and that is a malformed bunny named Poofy. Not that I draw him consistently or anything.
Lee Anne's drawing style is somewhat more refined and cute and not scary and much better than mine. Here's her depiction of me in a duck costume. Or a 5-year old me sans-nasal passages in a duck costume, which is a helluva lot more adorable than the current me. I know, that's how I will win people's love that I so desperately long for, by wearing a duck costume!
Lee Anne's flight back to Arizona was the next day, after which my heart sank into deeeeep depression of deeeep dark non-duck related things. But it's okay because I will see her again in early August and THE CYCLE OF CRAZY EATING-NESS WILL CONTINUE!!!
I wuz tagged
Mei tagged me to post 7 random things about myself. I suppose these things should be interesting or else this is kind of pointless. My site is where memes come to diiie. So. Enjoy.
- I played clarinet from 4th grade until 10th grade and was in marching band for 9th grade. Meaning that I went to band camp. Immediately after attending band camp, or more like during band camp, I realized that I hated marching band with every cell of my body and really wanted to quit. But I lasted throughout the season and the cold football games, and despite the hatred ended up being one of the better, most punctual students. Cos I'm DUMB. Turns out I could hardly stand regular band so much that despite formerly enjoying the clarinet, I dumped it in 11th grade (to the frustration of my band teacher, which I later felt bad about) to life a band nerd-free life. [breathes in...breathes out] It didn't destroy my life, so I guess it was the right choice.
- I have a theremin, but I don't know how to play it. I mean, I know the basics of making sounds wheeze out of it, just...er, how to play stuff that doesn't sound like random sci-fi sounds escapes me. And I must've gotten it a while ago because I don't even remember when I bought it. I like music gadget-y things; I'm just bad at teaching myself how to use them.
- One of my favorite music gadget-y things is my groovebox. I don't really use it anymore, but at some point I did. Before that thing called "college" set in.
- The first concert I went to was a free Beck show at NYC's MTV studio when I was in 9th grade (Midnite Vultures era, for those who follow). My mum had to drive me there and I don't think she was very happy about it. YAY MUM! She loves me.
- I think I've walked into a sliding glass door at least once. Not in the past 10 years though.
- The longest period of time I've kept an internet-based friendship without having ever met the friend in real life (which we plan on changing next year) is 9 years, over which time we've had mutual friends come and go. I talk to her pretty regularly online and would consider her one of my best friends. My mum would probably think that's insane.
- Overall, I don't think I'm that crazy. Why this is significant...I don't know. I need to remind myself that although I may suck in many ways, I am still above the line that delineates the amount of suckness that means you should be dead. ...Or maybe I am crazy.