Monday, April 6, 2009

I Eat 14th Street

Dear Boo,

I know I said the next time I wrote I'd include a recipe, because it's been a while. I know, I know. It's not for lack of cooking, it's just that everything I've made recently has been either a standard go-to that you already know, or something I need another couple of goes at to perfect before sharing it. There will be plenty of recipes coming up for passover and easter (we're so multi-faith!), but before all that I just had to share the craziness that was my dinner this evening.

On my way to tutor today, I was walking down 14th Street between Union Square and 1st Avenue. Usually I avoid this street because, well, it's kind of gross, but today I just decided to go through the thick of it. As I walked down this one stretch between 1st and 3rd, something hit me.

14th Street is YUMMY.

There's Chickpea, which I've always wanted to try, although really do I need another falafel place after Taim and Maoz? There's Bite, which I have a special fondness for as the original opened right outside The Culture Project when I worked there and Ami was such a cool guy and the curried tuna salad was so awesome and the bread was so crusty and the black bean soup was so spicy you'd lose your ability to form consonants for about an hour, and they'd even make me a special salad if I asked. Oh and sometimes, the Boyfriend before he was the Boyfriend would meet me there on a sunny day and I'd run down from my office for a quick lemonade. sigh. And there's Beauty Bar, which I know is so 1998 but where you can get a decent manicure and a solid drink for $10, and Crocodile Lounge--sibling to Alligator in Williamsburg, where a free pizza comes with any drink you order, And Friendhouse where we'd order the sushi lunch specials for delivery down at the theater, and Artichoke Pizza, which I've always wanted to try but where the line always deters me especially after I heard our friend K-Fenn's theory that they move slowly on purpose to keep a crowd outside, and there's Curly's Vegetarian Lunch that I want to try simply for the name and the cute yellow interior, and there's Thai me Up, where they make amazing Thai/french sandwiches to order, and, I realized with a gasp, as I tripped down the street, Vanessa's Dumpling's, the same dumpling house as down in chinatown, advertising a "$1.29 recession special."

By the time I finished tutoring around 8:30, I was Hungry. So hungry that I actually let my tutee feed me a forkful of her roommate's specialty--angelhair with parmesan and ketchup. OMG. I decided I'd grab something on my way home and maybe something for the Boyfriend in case he hadn't eaten yet. My plan was to go to Vanessa's, once I realized it was the same as the dumpling mecca down in chinatown, but on my way to Vanessa's I passed Thai Me Up, where through the window I could see big black woks at work stirfrying the filling for their delicious sandwiches. I'd been once before, a couple of years ago, and vowed to come back and oh I'm so sorry Thai Me Up, never returned! Horrors. I had to go in. I ordered a sandwich with chicken and their white ginger sauce (coconut milk, ginger, and lemongrass). Apparently I ordered well since the gentleman behind the counter (quite a tasty dish himself, if I do say so) urged the next two guys after me to follow suit. A live Roots album played as I watched them stirfry my chicken and veggies (corn, cabbage, peppers), add the curry sauce, and then slap it onto a toasted baguette (hollowed out to fit more filling) with mayo, lettuce and tomato. It took a while, since everything is made to order, and there seemed to be a teeny bit of confusion behind the counter (turns out Mr. Tasty Dish is also Mr. Restaurant Owner Assface who waves meal tickets in his employees faces like they're handicapped, though from my personal experience working in food service, I'm pretty sure all restaurant owner/managers are similarly problematic), but everything looked so delicious and fresh and smelled so good, I could hardly care.

(nice nails, Barbie.)

Okay, I should have stopped there. Did I not recognize from the giant bag I had, just how enormous this sandwich was? Was I so far gone that I couldn't tell that at least 30 minutes had passed since I first left my tutoring? Whatever it was, I did not head home. Instead, I went a few doors down and turned into Vanessa's Dumpling House.

Okay, so the logo is the same. And the name. And probably the dumplings are all made in the crazy windowed room in the Chinatown location where you can see people folding and pinching, folding and pinching. But the similarities sort of end there. First of all, the sesame pancake sandwich looks totally different--round and overstuffed like a hamburger bun, and they don't even have duck on the menu. Second, this Dumpling House has sushi--why? And third of all, you know how in the original dumpling house, everything costs like ONE DOLLAR? Well here's everything's like 5 times that much (The $1.29 special was for a single steamed bun). Did this stop me from ordering 8 piece pork and chive dumplings and 8 piece vegetable and then throwing in a sesame pancake sandwich with roast pork? Nope. I sat and waited, wafting the smell of my quickly cooling thai sandwich in my bag. And I waited. And waited. And began to realize just how crazy I was. My stomach hurt. I was past hunger. I have a to-do list about the length of 14th Street that I could have been taking care of. But instead I was sitting there, under the harsh lighting, waiting for my second dinner. Finally it was packaged up, and I was on my way. The people on the bus must have thought I was having a party.

Well, as of this writing I've made it through 4 pork dumplings (not exactly the same as downtown, but really tasty nonetheless), 2 vegetable (why waste your time when you have perfectly delicious pork right there), and half the thai sandwich (SO good: a touch spicy, creamy, cool and crunchy with the lettuce and cabbage, sweet from the sauce and the corn, and (presumably) crusty from the bread which sadly, did not travel as well. Moral of the story, don't wait too long to eat this delicacy. Why torture yourself delaying the gratification anyway?).

I'm full.
Please excuse the sesame pancake sandwich on the left. It was too fat to fit in the picture.


The Mouse

P.S. Am I obsessed with dumplings? Probably.


Max said...

what in whoozis' name are Goji berries....?
here it is 2:30a.m....the kugel is in the oven (when else would one cook for pesach?) pictures of the parents to keep watch over the kitchen a mess but hey what better time to catch up on A Mouse Bouche...
the Boo made me laugh, the Mouse managed to activte my taste buds' and wonder how the hell mouse can manage to eat all of that and remain so petite....that sandwhich will be the first thing to go for when next I have time to eat somewhere besides "New Andy's Deli"!!! least I can dream.....thanks kids

TBD said...

i painted my nails pink in your honor. well, i couldn't bring myself to do more dumplings...

erik said...

great several blocks, though maybe the ugliest on the island.

verification word: rebur. Verb: to bur again.