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!

 

 

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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.

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!!

 

 

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!!

Emirates Airlines, so I tried it

So it was my rallying call.  I was happy to mention it when I could.  It made me feel proud that I could take Emirates, the highly, at least in some circles, airline that was high quality, high everything.  I was not sure what I would find.  I mean, when we hear about it, it is about people flying in the lap of luxury and well I did not do a Youtube of economy Emirates so I would get what I got, when I got there.

The cabin had like a billion seats.  It was a 3, 4 ,3 configuration.  Same amount of seats of the 2, 5, 2 configuration that I actually liked when I did not have a kid but now that I have a kid and the kid pays, I prefer the, 3, 4, 3 configuration.  It means we get that window row and don’t have to do the awkward dance around some stranger when we have to stretch our legs or take a potty break.  Yeah it never becomes comfortable no matter how may times you fly.

So on our way into the airplane, I saw the elegant stairs to the upper level.  Its like working in a palace in the front office but being totally barred from entering the main house.  So as I told my husband, we would have to make a giant sacrifice to be able to take a plane ride and sit in first class.  I said that it will be without the kid.

So back to my intro to Emirates, and lets first start with the selection of movies.  There is so much that you cannot even choose.  We ate lots of food.  The bathrooms were not too scary and they had lower seats and wood paneling.  The seats were average, after all, there was like 700 seats to start with so this was not “lay out’ kind of digs.  They offered wine at lunch and I think you could get two without question.  One for now and one for later.  The food was also okay and though we were kind of full and my toddler tried to  go on a diet on this flight, I ate what I thought was a decent amount for me–I swiped all the bread and all the cracker and cheese packs, as well as the cereal bars and chocolate treats.

It really helped to take the food with us because it would be a while till we got to our hotel and to a solid food source.

The airline gave my kid a blanket and backpack, as well as a messenger bag and plastic envelop for activities that they put in it.  They even came by and did Polaroid shots of my kid and me. Perks like what I got on Tap Air Portugal–messenger bag with cards, a puzzle, socks and eye pads.  Yes the photos was a nice touch.

———-

Now for what I am calling “alternative thoughts/facts.”

Not on time-sitting there (we left late, though we reach in time in Italy)

Muffin drop-this was bizarre.  The hostess dropped the muffing open side up and proceeded to give the little girl (like the girl would not make a fuss and since the parent was a little bit away) the muffins, saying it did not fall face down, so its okay.  WHAATTTHE FFF.  I mean if the candy bar fell on the floor, I may shriek and wipe off the package, but the muffin hit the floor where people walk, from outside, from in the bathroom, from wherever.

Wine glass dirty gloves-so a woman went to give me a new wine glass using her gloves that she had been using to pick up dirty cups——I was crying on the inside.

Entertainment system like but not like China air or Korean air–at one time it was not even on, and no explanation.  There was literally code on my screen for like 1-2 hours, so I just went to sleep and then ready my magazine.

People are not caring-that is just the people flying on the plane.  They speak at high levels, play musical chairs, stand in the galley area and speak at not cool levels and also cough onto you.  Did they not know that we have a big flu problem here in the US this season!

Also, someone put bags in the toilet, yes the barf bags and that person left a bunch hanging around. I admit I am not the bathroom genie either like when I put too much toilet paper and well it fills up but does go down right away and part of me hopes to get as far away from it as possible so if it erupts I can be innocent. (never on a plane as it is a suck thing and uses like a teaspoon of water.)  I mean if there was someone around I would most likely complain. On a plane I know that the air hostesses check the stalls everyone once in a while so at some point the toilet would be useful.

Other than those things, it was a decent flight.  On a scale of one to ten, I would say a 6.5.  2 points for all the craziness that occurred under the radar.  If they want to be tops, they cannot be sloppy and uncaring and should do more than keep up appearances.

Yum–Taste of the Philippines, Milan, Italy

So we were in Milan Italy and noticed a population of Filipinos.  We were curious to see where they gathered and if there were any food places. Were were in luck.  There were a few and one had received an excellent rating so we decided to find our way there.  It would be an adventure.

Having traveled to the Philippines and an occasional eater of the food in the US, I was not even thinking when we came upon this restaurant, that it would be adapted to fit an Italian palate. Although I had heard that for Chinese food, in the early days as they sought to win over the American consumer, dishes were altered. I felt that first hand as well since vegetables are separated in China but in the US you have beef and broccoli, classic example. I am however not sure of the French and Italian restaurants in NY. The French seem to be French in every way and the same for Italian food. *checked some food blogs http://www.grubstreet.com/bestofnewyork/best-french-restaurants-nyc.html

The menu of Yum was interesting  with familiar dishes but with an apparent twist.  We had the Pork Jumbled Luzon, which had cucumbers, mango and grapefruit. It was a stewed meat with a refreshing salad. The rice of the dish was fun, and slightly reminiscent of risotto but with black sesame seeds topping the meat. We also had the baby back ribs over some root veggie or something else which had a slightly sweet taste and medium thick applesauce consistency, I think. I missed the explanation early on. It reminded me of a meal I had in a modern French restaurant. It was tasty though. The meat fell of the bone. Yum.

We were early to dinner, not fully grasping the true dinner time hours, but they took us anyway, as long as we were were out before the reservations started to come in. That was very nice of the owner.

The decor is modern with some older style touches. The table settings give a little feel of the Philippines, with the wood, and then the wooden chargers. There was some cool music in the background, which complemented the mood.

I must admit that I thought the food felt light, But this is just our eat our face syndrome in the US.  When I was in Beijing, I felt like I ate a lot, but I also had smaller bowls and plates, so actually less.

I wanted to bash the restaurant as it felt less Filipino and more Italian.  The owner let us know that he tried the opposite and it did not work, you have to adapt or fail.  I think if you are top in your industry or well known, you can do what you want, but until you gain that status you have to bend to the will of the people.

On my scale:  Food 7 Decor 7, Service 8.5

Ciao my food lovers!

Joloff restaurant – Senegalese Mealing

Restaurant Review

So we had a family gathering at a place my dad had been speaking of since last year.  It took a little lighting of the fire under everyone’s a… to get all together.  (I do not believe in choices.  Just give a few dates, pick a place and challenge everyone to be there.)

So the place was deep in Brooklyn.  I am rarely in Brooklyn but this was deep in there and GPS was the only guide we needed.  Upon parking we found a long skinny, African-ized place that had maybe one other customer that evening. 

How would I describe Joloff. It is not at all fancy, but it has this return to the roots look in side. It is not pretentious. It is a long room with a nook towards the back left and to the right is a raised portion used for poetry reading and performances. I guess it is cozy.

So it was 7 of us and we sat in the nook…..For appetizers we had some pastry puffs-some with fish and others with meat. There were some dips for each. Then we moved onto the main meal. We had fish (National Dish of Senegal-Baked fish with vegetables and Joloff rice), Lamb (Lamb Stew in peanut butter) and Chicken (Chicken Briased in onion and lemon sauce.)  The lamb was great. The chicken was familiar and that was lovely. The fish was good as well. I guess my favorite was the lamb. The sauce was good enough to be put on rice, without the meat. Dessert could have been left out. There was nothing special-just some fried donus (a.k.a Beignets, ) and ice cream. They did not offer the tradition dessert of couscous with yogurt, sour cream and raisins–what a small shame.) We did have some funky drinks–We had lemon ginger drinks and ginger tea. It was definitely interesting. But for my dad offering to take us there, I would probably have never visited. It is deep in the heart of Brooklyn. Now was it memorable enough for me to visit again, not sure. The people were nice however.

 

Until our next dark continent food adventure!

 Capri Pizza Pasta, Tarrytown NY

Restaurant review

So one night after meeting some friends for a free jazz concert, we (my family and I) found the only food game in town-Capri Pizza.  It was well lit, had a huge staff and some added character, considering it was in a strip mall with a small grocery and CVS.

The place had two sections, one for fast eating and the other for maybe the knife and fork set and lingering.  They had a very healthy business.  People were in and out and the delivery guys were working up a sweat.  I was taken aback how lit the place was.  It was like an examination room in an older hospital where mood lighting had not been invented. It was not off putting however.

The tables were exposed wood and there was a barn door separating the two sections.     (Can we say borrow that idea for future DIY home)).) I was hungry so I hoped that the pizza was good.  (you know when you are hungry and shovel the food, and you cannot even remember what you ate)  It came out quick and hot.  We knife and forked it as well, because we are civilized.  So I can safely say that I will return when in that area.  It is about one block away from the entrance to 287 and across from a hotel.  Great placement!!

Famous words–I shall return.  I give it a 7.  Next time we will explore the menu.

Capri Pizza Pasta

 

Royal Siam: NY, NY

This was a fun place.  (Compared to my previous post on Siam Thai) Here is why. So the address is (see below)……  when you get there you notice that there is a sushi place.  It was funny to us because first the sign was there but a little arrow thing looked like it was pointing upstairs.  We looked at the legend  for the building and could not see it.  Then I called the restaurant and the person said that both restaurants were in the same space, which was right in front of us.  We had also worried about it being a cash only establishment and noted the two banks on either side.  How did they get so lucky!  They took cards as well.

We walked in and there was spot lighting on the tables.  Immediately they came over and asked us what we wanted.  I ordered some mango sushi to start.  It was actually a nice refreshing start to what could have been a hot experience.  I got eggplant and beef.  My friend got scallops and shrimp. She gave the eye to the dish trying to count the shrimp and scallops to see if it was worth 18 dollars.  It was, I guess, as there was no complaining.  We also had some edamame beans.

The guests were spread out so that no one was immediately next to anyone.  That allowed for intense conversations.  I can say that with my high school gal pal, it was like therapy.  The food, the lights, the quiet atmosphere, it all made for good speaking theater.

Royal Siam: 240 8th Ave, New York, NY 10011