[Ambling preamble: This entry originally took place on October 20th. Read part 1 first if you haven't already. But surely you did. Didn't you.
Thanks for dealing with my super-slow updating schedule. I either write really slowly or my life is busier than I thought it was. Probably a combination of both. Trust me, I want to shove as much food porn in your face as possible.
Lastly, HAPPY THANKSGIVING! I already burned my thumb while taking my pie crust out of the oven. Sweet!]
"This place would be kind of creepy to walk around at night."
Kathy, Shann and I moved westward to Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pies for dessert after just having stuffed ourselves with various combinations of corn, meat, and cheese. On our way we passed a couple of questionable looking fences that looked as though they had been through a shooting match, some with barbed wire for added protection, desolate streets littered with dead leaves that were charmingly quiet in the afternoon, maybe less charming without the reflection of the sun's light, a mishmash of buildings from "brand spanking new" to "how the hell is that one still standing?", and a question that may not be answered anytime soon.
And then it became somewhat...surreal. Perhaps the pies gave off waves of magic.
We followed the signs to the pies. In this case, leftward.
Another sign of pies (or lime curd-filled pies) graced path. So close, so close...
That really is a fabulously painted door, isn't it? And all this just for some pie? What's the big deal? Why the hell did we walk all the way out here to do the edge of Brooklyn?
Because this Steve character (or one of his pie elves) takes mini key lime pies, rams them onto popsicle sticks, dunks them in semisweet chocolate, and freezes them, resulting in a beautiful creation called a swingle. The word "swingle," used to describe the action of simultaneously swinging and dangling (if I had to guess), may not have anything to do with pies, but it's easier to say than "chocolate-dipped frozen pie-on-a-stick," although I do rather like the sound of that as well.
Cracking through the crisp chocolate shell revealed a heart of smooth lime-flavored goo custard, not too tart nor sweet, and a base of sweet, tender graham cracker crust. Was it the best key lime pie I had ever eaten in my life? Probably not. Was there anything wrong with it? Hell no. It's a key lime pie; don't these things taste good 99% of the time?
Why does adding a stick to something instantly make it more appealing? What magical properties does the flat wooden stick hold? ...Hell if I know. But it works, doesn't it? No longer is it just a pie, but a...pie wand! With no magical properties! But it's delicious! And after you eat it, you discover the prize within—A WOODEN STICK!!!
Wow, I am losing it.
So yes, pie on a stick. Steve has it. And you should go walk to his little corner of Brooklyn to get some. And stare at the lovely vegetation, preferably under clear blue skies so you'll feel more like you're in California than Brooklyn.
Our next stop was Baked. Guess what they specialize in! [Hint: It's BAKING!]
Even before I got to oogle at the baked goods, I thought the place was awesome as soon as I laid my hand on the thick branch-like door handle. Impressive interior decorating. Warm oranges and browns. Wood. And stuff.
And then I oogled the baked goods. Cakes, cupcakes, tarts, cookies, brownies, marshmallows, etc. Basically everything you like...if you're me.
I started with a plain marshmallow. It didn't transport me to a world of fluffy soft world of marshmallow hills and valleys, but it was good. Soft as a bunny. A slightly gelatinous bunny. Sweetened with sugar. I mean, it was better than a non-homemade marshmallow and it was a helluva lot better than the marshmallows I once made my cooking class, which ended up having a slightly meaty off-flavor. Meat and marshmallows do not mix, by the way.
My sweet and salty brownie was lacking in the salty department. Plenty sweet? A hearty diabetes-inducing yes! But where was the kick of sodium? I did not taste thee to a satisfying degree. Neither did Kathy nor Shann. And it's not like the bakery doesn't know what they're doing—Shann's peanut butter brownie was packed with smooth PB flavor—but my brownie could've been a normal one without the word "salty" in the title. On the upside, the brownie was of the super fudgey variety, smoosh and thick and moist.
We sat next to a table of sadness. What is the definition of sadness? SOMEONE NOT FINISHING THEIR CUPCAKE, AND THUS TAKING CUPCAKE SATISFACTION FROM SOMEONE ELSE WHO WOULD'VE FINISHED THEIR CUPCAKE. WHY WOULD ANYONE DO THAT? WHYYYY?
On the way back to the subway station, Kathy couldn't stop talking about her burning desire for Coke. Like, "I REALLY WANT A COKE NOW, HOLY SHIT IF I DON'T GET A COKE I'M GONNA CHOKE A BITCH." She didn't say that, but she was probably thinking something along those lines.
So she got a coke from one of the vendors in the ball fields. I tell ya, those little fizzy bubbles must've transported her to some highly saturated dreamland of happy prancing fairies and puppies and things that fly through the air propelled by streams of rainbows coming out of their butts. She was so content. Aw.
And then we went back to Kathy's apartment where we passed out for a while. Until our next excursion.
Our next excursion
Sometimes, you just want pork chop. But you don't realize this until you come across a place called Excellent Pork Chop House. EPCH is tucked away on the angular Doyers Street, one of my favorite streets in NYC for its eerie, quiet, somewhat sketchy quality (and for being full of restaurants). It kind of feels like a movie set. Or a place where someone could beat you up in the shadows and no one would ever know. (Okay, it's not that creepy.)
Although many items on the menu screamed, "EAT ME," or at least tugged at the bottom of my shirt in a plea for love, I went straight for the special of the house: pork chop. And it was beautiful. The beauty was probably enhanced by the $5 price tag, but...really, it was good. Tender, moist, sweet strips of pork seasoned with I don't know what (something familiar, maybe something very Taiwanese that I can't describe but triggers hidden memories) atop pickled cabbage and more pork bits. I would've been pretty happy without the pickled cabbage, but that's what gave it that extra gold star. Crunchy, tart bits of cabbage and sweet porkness in every bite? HELLO, HOW CAN YOU REFUSE? It's a perfect pairing of flavors. Yes. ...Yes.
Kathy loved the pork chop too, but like me didn't know what made it so tasty. Her explanation:
My pork chop came out sizzling hot, a nice char in all the right spots and super juicy with all these familiar flavours I can't pick out by name. But they taste RIGHT. Like I've had it before. You know? How when you grow up eating mainly Asian food, you know what seems to taste RIGHT and what DOESN'T? Well this falls straight into the YEP, this is RIGHT category.
Now I wonder what this tastes like in Taiwan. Better, probably. Oh god, why must Taiwan be so far away?
Shann ordered the chicken curry over rice. I tried this on another trip and it was just okay, not nearly as happiness inducing as the pork chop. The sauce was too bland. Chicken was nicely moist though.
Kathy ordered wide rice noodles (her favorite noodle in the world!) in soup with pork chop on the side. So it was like my dish, but with soup and noodles instead of rice. ALMOST THE SAME.
I thought I was too full to eat dessert. I mean, I think we all thought that. Somewhat. Kinda. So we just, you know, ambled up town to the Union Square area.
And, you know, ambled into Sundaes and Cones. And, you know, shared a freakin' two scoop-filled bucket of pumpkin and taro ice cream. (They don't let you do two flavors in one school despite one scoop being the size of a hamster, thus we had to get two scoops. Jesus told us to.)
Yeah, that hit the spot, short of explosion. I'm sure the pumpkin was good, with all those pumpkin spices and whatnot (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg), but I was much more taken by the taro. Good taro can be hard to find—I've come across many insultingly weak taro ice creams that tasted like vanilla with a faint hint of taro flavor and purple food coloring—but this tasted like sweet starchy taro puree in every bite. Well, taro puree mellowed out with milk. I think it was better than Chinatown Ice Cream Factory's taro.
Perhaps a taste test is in order.