Halstead Ave Taqueria

Laughter in our heads is what happened a few weeks ago.  So my husband asked for Mexican food. We yelped one in Harrison, NY while on the highway.  We only saw a few pictures and saw the many reviews.  They seemed positive and well it had many reviews.

We almost missed it. We got there and it was a parlor if you have traveled to developing countries and some developed who run things the old school way you know what a parlor is), with some 20 somethings working the counter.  They were not Mexican.  The kitchen workers were all Latin-yeah.

So we ordered and on two occasions they messed up.  Our food was very gentrified Mexican food-small portions and slightly deconstructed.  I had the special-cheese flautas.  They came in a small bowl.  It looked petite .  My husbands taco combo with guacamole and salsa looked a little shy. I got my daughter an asado taco which she ate like an animal-with her hand the shell then picked at the meat.

 

My husband kept eyeing a watermelon cooler.  He got a a ball jar full of juice.  They gave us the jar to go home with-lol.  Really guys!   I told my husband that I would have taken the jar money in food.  It was at least 50 cents and at most 1 dollar.  I told him that they might have gotten a good deal on the glass and had way too much so they just decided to give them away.

We concluded that this was an upscale super casual Mexican joint with decent food if you have not really dabbled in Mexican food made by Mexicans in a place where Mexicans eat. We cannot totally bust it as it was pleasant enough. Needless to say we kind of felt cheated and a little hungry.  So we had gelato later and I made homemade brownies.

The only sobering factor was that the portion was probably the proper one if you want to have your fast food and watch your weight/health.  It fits the demographic they were serving-just saying!!

Yeah it’s back to Latin heavy areas for us.  We will find one where we can take home a doggie bag and there are families chomping down making us feel like we are getting what we pay for.

Until next time–Greedy Northerners!

 

 

Advertisements

Little Dumpling, Queens NY

Queens

So my small venture in life for the next year might involve being over the bridge in Queens.  With that said, it looks like a harrowing thing but it may have some small benefits.  One is that I have access to all the Asian cuisine I want.

So on a recent trip to scope out the new venture, we realized that we would be ridiculously hungry if we went straight home, so we decided to eat locally.  Given that we chose a place called Little Dumpling.  It was small but neat and quick.  There was a woman in the kitchen and I hope she was in some kind of power position as she was the only one and I can imagine how that can be.

So what to order.  Well we ordered a large sweet and sour fish that had some beans in the sauces.  It was quite a site to see actually and almost scary.  We also ordered some vegetable rice and dumplings as appetizers.  The dumplings were hot and great.  I miss having dumplings whenever I want.  When I was overseas I would just grab dumplings at the store whenever I wanted them or just eat them for lunch in the school cafeteria.

Little Dumpling (cute little steamed bun logo)

corner of Springfield Blvd and Horrace Harding Expressway

 

There is another location on Northern Blvd.

 

The food and service was good.  We even got some bubble tea on the way out but were too full to try any of the deserts.  I love a good dish and one that totally satisfies.

 

Will I go back?  I will if in that specific area again.  I still have more to try.

Yay Queens!

 

Frank Pepe’s Yonkers NY

Fran Pepe’s

So recently we visited Frank Pepes which is a chain, a small one at that, which is supposedly one of the Neapolitan pizza makers.  Hmmm.  Well it was on TV and the original one was in Connecticut.  This one is in NY, Yonkers to be exact and we had to see what the big deal was.  We gave up swimming—a healthier option, to try it out, on a Friday no less.

So I must gripe about Yonkers first.  Why are parts of Yonkers like NJ?  This no UTURN business and having special roads to make U-turns thing is crazy.  I guess.  Also there is a side road when coming from 87 and in order to get on it, you have to use the side street to have access—you go up, come back down and you make that hard right.  Yeah, what planet am I on.

Let’s get back to the pizza discussion. I had to gripe a little first.  So right next to the shop is a Kia dealer and by the way, we have a plug in Kia—hybrid not full.  We got excited when we say the Kia dealer right next door.  However it was not going to be.  We read reviews and guides and it seemed that there would be this wild charge and there was also some barrier to getting that as the manager on duty could make the call and sometimes there was the thought that it was a waste of electricity.  So with all that hoopla, my husband decided not to even go up to the front door.

The parking right in front of the shop is metered.   DAMM.  We were lucky to find the spot in front of Kia a few spaces down that was not metered.

So we got in and we were seated in like 30 seconds.

When we got in, there were two seating areas and this large production area with white tiles and counter space.  To the back left side I could see them making dough or at least fiddling with food stock and it was in full view.  In the main part there was one or two guys working the large oven with these large 9 foot plus pizza sticks.  It would push the pizzas way back in the oven.  I mean it makes sense.  The pizzas are also made to order so it takes about 15 or so minutes for the pies to get done and well If you are hungry that is like an eternity.  They also only provide salad in addition to the pizza so if you need more than that, you have to pre-game but not too much as you want to eat all the pizza.

They bring the finished pies out on these sheet trays.  It’s crazy, Utopian in a way, but it is easy to clean, stack and it assures that all are uniform and a bunch of other things you can say about that. Man I was so hungry just waiting.  We had to keep my 4 year old busy.  Ever try that in a place where there is no sound barrier and everyone is in everyone’s business and it seems like a civilized pizza parlor.

So at this time people were pouring into the place.  A few people came at a time every few minutes.  Parking is a little hellish so you have to really wait till someone leaves.  So I ordered the mushroom, Gorgonzola and spinach pie and my husband ordered the Margherita.  I was like-wtf.  In all fairness, if that pie is not made well, then all the other stuff would be crap.  I believe you might need to always have a good base and add on from there but the original must always be great.

So we managed to polish off 95% and I took one more slice and remembered that I could not fit into my black pants so yeah, I took the last two slices homes.

Would I go back, probably?  It’s kind of far so it would not make sense.  However if I knew that I could always find a good pizza there, then I could go back.  We will have to try the Connecticut one as well to really see if there is a difference.

 

Okay, I am done pizzaing.

Road Triping

So we took a road trip to South Carolina.  That was exciting–long stretches of tall trees and at times we would pass through a billboard city and at other times, old industrial areas and the things you see in movies that signify ‘not’ a metropolitan city.  This was represented by tall grass, some abandoned buildings, no people walking around and just openness.

Hmm, family and a wedding, great excuses to get together.  It was November (2017)and for being so south, it was still cold.  What is this?  I would rather fly the 11 hours or less and be in a truly warm place.

What did I see while driving into the towns?  Defined areas, suburbs, some run down areas, some partly abandoned industrial areas.  I tried to get a read for the people and there were decent.  I guess in my mind I was waiting for someone to step out of line.  We had no such occasion.

There were definitely some trendy places and they had many of what we had in the Northeast.  It was comforting.

Family was fun.  We rented a 4 bedroom house on a quiet street, close to a golf course and a large park with fun apparatus.  I even got lost. I was like the anti-gps.  My phone was dying and I all the places looked the same.  It was a little scary.  I was by myself and I do have feelings about the south.

The downtown was kind of nice-small and quaint.  We ate at home except for the wedding so I cannot really say I had some Southern cuisine.  We also only really went out in the evening so no time to wander though the area and find stuff.  Oh we had ice cream. That is always a treat.

 

20171110_171249

Sukiyabashi Jiro, Tokyo Japan

Yeah so my husband I I were watching a documentary on Sushi making.  So the documentary featured Jiro, a 3 Michelin star restaurant. I guess I am not into paying a lot for my food but also I am not even sure I could eat that much.  So apparently a meal costs 30,000 yen.  Yup, so last nights conversion (April 2018) was 275 USD, back in 2012 it was 320 or something.  Yikes.

It is truly a labor of love.  I mean these guys are training and trying to get to the top of their craft.  I feel that some of us do not have something we are so passionate about.  We mostly just work in an area that just suits our abilities/area of study in college and current needs.  I do however hope to find that passion or some level of it.  Although, I am not sure I can give my whole life over to it.  It would have to be that good.

Jiro, you inspire me to search for that passion.  In terms of sushi, well I am just excited to eat it again.

Until then!!

 

 

Easter weekend in Atlantic City

Why spend your weekend doing this:

-blowing your money

-stuffing your face

-hanging out with shifty characters

-being cooped up in a room (by yourself)

 

When you can spend your time doing this:

-trying not to eat out at the restaurants all day (its all fried anyway)

-having an investment strategy when playing

-staying out of the casino if you can

-hitting the pool or the beach (this time it was pool)

-driving to Ocean City NJ

-driving to Cape May, NJ

-stopping off at public beaches along the way

-watching trash tv when you can

-taking a long ass showers

-people watching (you just cannot believe your eyes sometimes)

-walking on the beach when no one is there, on that virgin warm sand

-if you are religious, going church

-getting your kid into the Easter Promenade  (best dressed kids in Easter Attire)

 

Lastly–It was what it was!

 

Queens on my mind (II)

So within the last six months my husband and I watched this guy called Mark Wiens on YOUTUBE and he made a big fuss about the cumin lamb in Queens. (He has this face and motion he does when he is loving a dish) Now I remember eating lamb in Beijing at the “Muslim Chinese” restaurants, which prepare food from the Xinjiang region in China. I loved the food and the fact that this kind of thing could exist in a country like China. My last experience was in 2004.

I missed the cuisine and was like lets go experience what he (Mark) experienced. He had gone to queens.  So fast forward to recently when we decided to visit Queens for lunch. Of course Queens is always crowded but we were trekking on. It was also raining. That always dampens your wandering abilities. I like to let my nose lead the way and well that did not happen. We had 2 umbrellas between the three of us and we had a little walk.

We came upon the basement in Golden Mall (I mean that was some straight out of China isht, really (a bunch of stalls bunched together serving all kinds of stuff
.) The place we sought, was not longer and that was a shame, and we were not brave enough to go at it like we know what we were doing. So we ended up eating at Xian Food. I mean I am not sure I felt like it was that great and I also did not feel complete. We also hit up – KungFU Tea on the way to the car.  That was funny.  My husband had a red bean slush and I had a milkshake.  The red bean slush was just that–blended red beans and water.  Proteins galore and little balls of beans.

The most interesting thing was at the library. This was the best part of all.  So we entered the library and once we had a full view we were surprised to see a scene out of a bus depot. Yeah all kinds of people some with shopping bags, others with small suitcases and others just on their phones–but not reading and staying a while like a library.  We stayed for about 45 min in the kids section and guess what, the people were still there. (lucky we were to not be trapped there, as it kind of felt that way.)  I mean about 1 hour prior it was kind of raining so maybe this was just the people who did not realize that it had stopped raining.  The security guard and librarian were no joke either–keeping the kids quiet, making sure that parents were with their kids, and making sure only certain aged kids were in the children’s (small) section.

The second thing was that this was the best possible environment for my daughter to practice her Mandarin.  The only thing is, she knows only bits and peaces and cannot really converse in full sentences and as also when you do not know a language the people always seems to be speaking too fast.  I wish my daughter could attain that level.  It would be great.  I mean if she could also speak in regular sentences in Tagalog, I would be most happy.  (Advantage)

So Queens, you never disappoint. Until next time!!

Queens on my mind (I)

Back in January our mommy and daddy group (3 sets of us with kids same age-ish) decided to have lunch in Flushing NY. That was some craziness. Of course Saturday mornings are like ‘National Day Holiday’ in China but in Queens. (Google National Day Holiday China) You have to have a plan and get there early. We entered the the New World Mall NEW WORLD MALL FLUSHING NY that had a vast underground food court. We were early so though it was half full it was good enough for us. By the time we were leaving, there were hoards of people coming in. When we tried to leave the parking lot, we took about 20 minutes and with some NY city driving we bolted at first opportunity. Our friends from upper NY got stuck for an hour. Yes you heard it right.

At the food court we had dumplings, spicy eggplant and a pork sandwich. The dumplings were great–you can never go wrong.  The spicy eggplant was awesome, and reminded me of my China days and also some eggplant I had while in the Philippines. That was topped off with some bubble tea, as well as regular tea and pastries. It was like we were some 1 percent (er) (s) just doing what we do and buying whatever we wanted for the kids or rather what they wanted.

Then we decided to mill around the mall for a little bit. Our group was made up of one Filipino couple, a mixed couple (Filipino and Trinidadian) and a Caucasian couple, each with their spawn. So the most interesting thing was the older Asian women stopping to stare at the Caucasian girl. I guess they do not get too many kids looking like her. I felt like the little girl was a celebrity.

We vowed to do flushing again.

 

 

Fussy Foods

So I was just thinking of some meals to cook for a get together and while brain storming, I was just pondering meals that I enjoy and realized that they are really time consuming.  When having a party at home, you really have to schedule your time and manage the logistics prior. For example, my veggie lasagna is great but it takes almost a hour to prepare.  I like pineapple but to cut it takes a minute.  Marinades need to hatch at least 8 hours prior.  Also the most important thing is making sure everything can fit in your fridge.  That has happened a few times to me and storing all the prepared food means there is no space for you today–to continue normalcy.

 

List of non fussy foods that you can serve at a party, not necessarily fancy but they will be eaten.

Its the shopping for ingredients that takes a minute.

7 layer dip-a lot of little steps but its a real dump and go (except for the chopped tomatoes)

Hummus–garlic and garbanzo beans, sun-tomatoes and garbanzo beans (use your little chopper or blender)

Cheese and salumi platters–again a lot of little tasks (like opening up of packages, some slicing)

Rotisserie chicken from supermarket–pull off all chicken and just offer slider buns, and condiments

Homemade Sangria–red wine (how many of those do you have in your closet), some orange juice and pieces of fruit. (sugar as well, plus your little touches)

Apple pie (fall favorite and simple)

Grilled (George Foreman or flat top) pineapple (when in season)

Hope this can be useful!

This was about a winter event but summer is coming soon and well any of these can work.  Minimal to no cooking or processing.

 

 

Party On!

Italy Third Time Around

Lets start with the food.

So it just felt like we could not find food for real or maybe we just wanted to be cheap.

(Thinking back to the last time we visited Italy, we had a few 4 course meals and spent about 2 hours eating-I am waiting for those days to return.)

We did not want to have Indian, Chinese, etc since we had that at home. We wanted to follow the mantra “when in Rome” but we really needed a Italian grandma to cook for us to really taste some magic

We tried to have real Italian food and really enjoy it– that did not happen. We had pasta and pizza in a touristy restaurant only one night and well we were not happy.  Also with the late times we waited till the places opened and were the first people there.

The second time we had pizza, it was at a chain that had apparently been around for a while–Spontini- pretty good, if you ask me.  The pizza was thick and flavorful–my husband had the roasted vegetables (EGGPLANT, PEPPERS, MUSHROOMS), and I had the spicy sausage.  When the pizza came I felt it could feed an army.  We ordered a slice and a half which is pretty ridiculous.  Of course no worker in a restaurant is going to tell you that 1 slice is enough–its all about the Dollars/Euros .  So we had some extra and that was part of our dinner.  Lucky us!

We tried Filipino Food.  (my earlier blog YUM Taste of the Philippines)  That was interesting.  I must say its always great to see your country men in a far away land.  I always secretly want to know what their story is–how did they get there, what is their experience. It is mostly for the new waves of immigration-in my lifetime.

_______________________________________________

In terms of surroundings, as for me I like to just see the place in its natural element, not too much direction and not too much tourist.  We visited Carrefour, like a Walmart, always fun.  We took the old fashion tram and the metro as well as the above ground train.  We had to get the full experience.  We missed on the electric tram–so sleek and quiet.

We visited a public park where my toddler meshed with the crowd of Italian children running after a man blowing bubbles.  We also stopped off at a winter carnival.  We even walked through a sleepy upscale neighborhood.  The look was very Washingtonian with its grey concrete buildings and large doors, and not necessarily fancy entrance ways.  You just knew that behind those walls was something amazing and you will never know because well, unless your life changes 180 degrees you can only imagine.

We go off at random stops and one just happened to be next to the US Consulate.  We went through neighborhoods and it was like they were still stuck in the 80’s with graffiti on the walls.  We only see that in selected areas here in NY but it seems that it is more plentiful in Milan.

We saw a beautiful palace that turned out to be a cemetery, that looked more like a sculpture garden.  People were just Sunday walking to me, but actually they were probably visiting family I am sure.

We went to the hinterlands.  We took an alternative way to get to the city–we wanted to experience the other areas–the road less traveled. It was on the older above ground lines and it was some downright weird stuff. There were tracks to nowhere and under the track where we waited the land by the tracks had wild grass, men using the bathroom, dark corners and some kind of access point for random people to enter.  In the distance was a Circus Soleil looking tent but when we got closer we realized it was not but a small circus, maybe gypsy, we will never know.  Some places looked really livable and others just not and they were kind of mixed in. I guess that is the beauty.   I must admit that for a small minute I felt scared when I saw some younger people (all men) but then I was like, they are brown people like me-can’t let media and all that stuff get to us. There were some women and I kind of felt better-not sure why.  Then I saw the non brown people and I was still scared-it was the scruffy scrappy part of town and some small part of me got a pores raised feeling anyway. I was with my husband so I kind of brushed it off as we had passed some of his countrymen on the way to the station. In addition it was gloomy outside so it just was not inviting along with the feelings.

Even past our hotel, it looked kind of undesirable but then again, behind the facade it could be great. The streets were not inviting though.  Some parts looked like parts of the “third world,” just for the prettiness factor and the uneasy feeling.  I mean in retrospect, Milan does not feel like a London or an Oslo or a Tokyo.  Some parts do but those parts that I was in, did not.  On the map, just beyond our area it started to be just land.   I wished we had a local who could take us ‘behind the scenes’.

The surprise for me was the Central Station.  It, again was lacking in lots of food choices but on a real note, outside there were what looked like brown people congregating-lets says Migrants maybe. They were just milling around and idling you can say. By myself I might have chosen a different path as there were many people and it could be kind of intimidating to any one.  There were some military patrols hanging out on the opposite side of the station. Did I feel better, somewhat, but with guns out I always feel like there can be some craziness about to happen and I will be in the middle of it. Within a 2 block radius the streets were dark and there were only certain areas with lots of lights and movements.  We opted to stay close to the light.

One highlight for me was the Armani Silos.  Look it up.  I liked looking at the evolution of clothes from about the 70s till now.  He may have even had the 60s.  I cannot remember at this time.  The way from the train station to the Silos was very not what you would expect.  It felt like a reclaimed inner city but it was not too far away from a popular area (Navigli District) so who knows.

Check out some pics of the trip.