Meet the roommates (recipe: tortilla de patatas)

Since the new year, my housemates and I make it a point to eat together on a regular basis.  We shoot for dinner once a week, though it is a beast of a task coordinating the schedules of six young adults.  Seven days never seemed so cluttered, and sometimes it just can’t work out.  But bless time for being such that another week is always on the horizon.  Our persistence pays off and it is always, always worth the effort.  I’m not sure how it works with the six really random people coming together, but chemistry can be a funny thing.  It might make sense in a lab but less so when it roams the social world (chem majors, and I know you’re out there, feel free to correct me :)).  All I can say is that these guys have made me a believer in spontaneous order, and sometimes stuff doesn’t need an explanation.

Pictures and recipe after the jump!

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Farewell for now, Chinatown

I celebrated my last night in New York’s Chinatown (for the next year, at least) in style. I will definitely miss this place, where many of my prior food-induced comas and other generally positive, food-related moments have taken place. Although this place has increasingly become a restaurant den that disappointingly caters more toward the tastes of tourists and Canal Street shoppers than to the nolstagic palates of Chinese immigrants, I still enjoy the occasional experience of eating here, if only for remembrances past. Several of my family members and I gathered at Golden Unicorn for this last supper of sorts:

We started off with an appetizer of pickled chicken feet:

Yes, that is a nail. This next dish was a favorite of my childhood…or that period of my life when I didn’t give a lick about my health. I know it as Hup toh hah, which translates into something + shrimp. It’s basically lightly battered, deep-fried shrimp dressed in a thick, sweet mayonnaise dressing and roasted walnut halves. I’m not sure that there’s anything redeeming about this dish. Except for maybe the flower.

The obligatory vegetable dish:

Stir-fried steak with peppers and onions:

Deep-fried crab with deep-fried bacon and deep-fried bits of shallots or something equally delicious:

As a family, we evidently don’t win any prizes for healthful eating, which partially explains why when I’m on my own, I tend to be a bit picky and generally try hard to eat well. Anyway, my night fittingly ended with a stop at the Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, on Bayard, one of my favorite streets in the city. This sight is probably familiar to many of you:

I went with a double scoop of black sesame and almond cookie in a sugar cone. Unfortunately, the flash distorted the color of the black sesame ice cream, ruining the contrast between the two. But in the thick, steamy air of the summer night, all was forgiven as I took one bite of this hot mess, taking care not to let a single drop fall wasted onto the sidewalk. I know I’m going to be around Chinese food for the next year, but I think I’ll still miss this place. No matter how commercialized or watered down it gets, Manhattan’s Chinatown is dear to me. I’m excited to come back here next year and see how my taste buds have evolved.