29 February 2012

revuesday - Artichoke

Last night, my friend and I decided to grab a quick drink after our equally long days at work... granted my long work day consisted of playing outside with kindergarteners, setting up an archival display for Women's History Month and shelving books, so it was pretty much awesome but I'm always up for an after work cocktail.  Anyways, after a couple of drinks we decided that, so what if it's only Tuesday, we're going to hang out and enjoy a night on the town.  When it was finally settled upon that we'd go check out Michael Daves at the Rockwood Music Hall for a little bluegrass and rock & roll.  But it was getting late and if we were to keep on truckin' through the night, we'd need some sustenance to keep us awake and ready for anything.  Well you know what's just down the block from Beauty Bar and on the walk down to Rockwood?  Artichoke.

You can get a lot of really great pizza in New York City.  And every pizza joint on every block claims to be the best at what they do whether it's thin crust, deep dish, meat lover's, white, gourmet or traditional.  But there is something uniquely delicious about the slices at Artichoke.  The namesake pie is a crispy crust topped with a creamy mix of spinach and artichokes.  You know that spicy spinach artichoke dip I made awhile back?  It's like that but better.  And even better than that is the crab slice.  Though I'm a Jersey girl through and through, there's a pretty big chunk of my heart (and my stomach) that belongs to Baltimore.  Because of this, any dish topped with crab meat is one that I immediately love.  And a creamy cheesy pizza slice with some red pepper flakes tossed on is hard to beat.  It's basically the New York pizza equivalent of the indulgent crab pretzel from Bill Bateman's.  Mmmm maybe I need to make a trip down to Bmore soon, the food nostalgia has been driving me nuts lately.  But the crab slice at Artichoke is a serious competitor to the crab pretzel and since it's around the corner from work, it's so easy to stroll over and enter pie nirvana.

So anyways, we grabbed a couple of slices to munch on between bars and let me tell you, it was the smartest idea I've had in a long time.  Though we got a lot of goofy looks from other passersby because of our loud proclamations of pizza glory and tasty praises, we were so wrapped up in our slices that it didn't even matter.  If you haven't tried Artichoke yet, I highly recommend it, but prepare to get hooked.  I could probably eat an entire pie on my own and those are some big pies.  Self control and will power are not easy traits to maintain around these crispy, cheesy slices.  But tempt yourself, you won't regret it.  But whatever you do, make sure you don't leave your pizza unattended.  New York City is being plagued by a pizza thieving squirrel!  Hold on to your slices, folks.  This guys is sneaky.

hands off my slice, little dude!

23 February 2012

vocab trendsetter

I've always considered myself a bit of a trendsetter.  Whether it's music, fashion, actions or tastes I like to imagine that I'm usually a little ahead of the curve... of course it doesn't hurt that I work alongside super trendy teens and tweens all day.  But even if I'm not the hippest most up-to-date gal in town I can be certain that I have a vocabulary and way of speaking that is all my own.  I use a lot of nonsense words, I try not to curse, people laugh at plenty of the jibberish that comes out of my mouth and I'm totally ok with that.  One of my favorite nonsense words to use is amazeballs.  I'm sure I've used it here on the blog before because it's a word I use to describe something I really enjoy or think is super duper like 'this chocolate peanut butter milkshake is amazeballs!'

Well, whadayaknow?  Someone else is using my word.  And now they're getting a cereal based on their use of that word... and taking all the credit!  According to about eight billion different news sources (must be a slow day,) 90s British rocker Tim Burgess of The Charlatans tweeted something about creating a cereal called 'Totes Amazeballs'.  I try to refrain from using the word 'totes' in my everyday speech (it makes me sound too much like the kids I teach,) but my dialogue is peppered with use of 'amazeballs' daily if not hourly.  I guess I'm not the only person who uses the best word in the world, even though quite a few people had never heard of it before I started yammering on.  Maybe I need to come up with a new fantastic word to describe super rad things that I encounter in my life... but this time I'll be sure to copyright it, or trademark it, or somehow be sure to make it known that it's my word.  Maybe I should just suck it up and get on Twitter so that my linguistic choices get famous, too.  But in the meantime I'll continue being my awesomely hip self and rely on my mom and Aunt Donna (who also happened upon one of the news articles; is there really nothing else going on in the world?) to remind me that I am a totally unique and awesome gal.  And I just hope that if any of my lovely readers happen upon a box of Kellogg's Totes Amazeballs cereal when they start mass producing it, that they'll make sure to pick me up a box!

22 February 2012

missed connections

So apparently this week is just chock full of yummy holidays that I was unaware of.  That makes me really excited because every single day should be a holiday (especially if it's a food holiday) and I plan on marking all these red letter days on my calendar so I can properly celebrate them next year.  But my happiness and party planning are marred by the knowledge that I missed Paczki Day!  What is a paczki and why am I so disappointed to have missed the celebration of it you ask.  Well, I had never heard of them before but apparently they are sweet and chewy bits of dough that are deep fried before being filled with delicious jams or creamy custards.  Hmmm sounds a bit like a doughnut to me and since doughnuts are among my favorite foods ever, it's only natural that I would be devastated to miss the celebration of another pastry in their family tree!  What makes this oversight even worse is that these tasty treats are a traditional Polish delight.  See, I live in Greenpoint, a neighborhood with a huge Polish population so how is it possible that I missed these???  Fellow Greenpointers, did you know about this sacred holiday and just hold out on me because you knew I'd go to the trouble to buy up every single sweet morsel available at Northside?  How dare you!  Well believe you me, I will not miss this holiday ever again... the calendar has been marked.  And don't worry, I don't plan on missing out on today's celebration at all - I'm going to go enjoy a margarita as soon as I finish up swimming with my awesome new swim cap!  So if any of you would like to join me for a sweet and salty beverage in honor of National Margarita Day, feel free.  Unless you knew about Paczki Day and didn't tell me; then I might have to reconsider our friendship.

21 February 2012

fat revuesday - Sugar Freak

Every once in awhile you need to head out of your neck of the woods and explore someplace new for a good restaurant.  Not that I'm so privileged or such an experienced foodie that I've eaten at every restaurant in my neighborhood; gosh, it seems likes there are five new ones opening up every week, I'll probably never try them all.  But despite all the new flavors and environments that my area provides, sometimes you just want to explore.  And since I happen to have a friend who lives in the far off exotic land of Astoria, I've been able to do a bit of exploring in the bizarre borough known as Queens.

And how appropriate that my first restaurant experience in Astoria would be to a restaurant that dishes out New Orleans specialties like po'boys, blackened catfish and red beans and rice?  'Tis the season being that it is Fat Tuesday and all.  The sweet little restaurant is called Sugar Freak, what I originally thought may have been a reference to the Sugar Bowl that takes place in New Orleans every year.  Turns out the cozy restaurant with homey decor and vintage furniture was originally slated to be solely a bakery and not a full restaurant but ideas changed, menus evolved, and the name just stuck.  It's kind of the eatery version of Cougar Town.  Hmmm maybe they're exactly the same... the amount of wine they drink on Cougar Town is kind of equivalent to the amount of booze drunk on Bourbon Street, right?

Speaking of booze, the fully stocked bar serves up a collection of cocktails inspired by the famously intoxicated city - Hurricanes, Swamp Juice, Sugar Honey Iced Tea, and the official whiskey cocktail of New Orleans, the Sazerac.  Since I'm a classic whiskey cocktail kind of gal this Cajun take on a Manhattan was right up my alley.  Made up with a deliciously deadly combination of cognac, rye whiskey, absinthe and bitters, I could definitely see this becoming one of my new favorite beverages.

But it's important not to drink on an empty stomach.  Fortunately, the menu has no shortage of tasty Louisiana homestyle options.  It took me nearly twenty minutes to decide between the Crawfish Etouffee and the Jambalaya... first world problems, I know.  I ended up making a buzzer kind of decision at the last minute and went with the Jambalaya, shrimp added of course.  It was absolutely the right choice though I wouldn't say no to going back and trying every other item on the menu.  A giant portion of perfectly cooked, sauced and seasoned rice with so much much flavor and just the right amount of spicy kick was served up steaming and overloaded with chicken, Andouille sausage and shrimp.  I tried so hard to finish it all because it was so delicious but I just couldn't do it.  Especially not when there was a side of amazingly seasoned collared greens jam packed with smokey ham hock to finish up, too.  Oh yeah, and nibbles of my dinner partner's ginormous Po'Boy which held at least ten huge and juicy fried oysters crammed into French Bread delivered straight from New Orleans' own Gambino's.

I'm kind of upset with myself that  I didn't leave room for dessert but I couldn't help but eat nearly the entire heaping serving of Jambalaya.  Hopefully next time I'll prepare myself a little better and save some room for something sweet since sugary snacks are at the core of Sugar Freak.  Mmmm next time.  If you ever happen to find yourself up in Astoria, you should certainly check this place out.  And if you're looking for a last minute Fat Tuesday celebration, I'm sure you'll find no shortage of revelry up there tonight... despite it's cozy atmosphere, I have a feeling these crazy Creoles know how to party.  This gem of a spot is proof that if you're willing to explore a little bit outside of your normal realm, you might stumble upon something really good.  Happy Mardi Gras, dear readers!  And always remember to laissez le bon temps rouler!

20 February 2012

in honor of our presidents

Holidays, themes and costumes - these are a few of my favorite things.  I also love days off because it means I have an extra weekend day to explore and hang out with my friends and cook big delicious meals.  And what better way to celebrate our founding fathers on this Presidents Day than with a meal of simple, all-American comfort food?  Well, after sleeping in for the first time this weekend, catching up on Gossip Girl  (we couldn't catch up on Downton Abbey because it's British and that wouldn't have been very patriotic of us,) and putting on our very best holiday outfits, I started turning the wheels in my brain to come up with a perfect recipes for the evening.  After tossing around ideas of apple desserts, casseroles, fried chicken and ice cream, I decided on a hearty menu of meatloaf with macaroni and cheese.  Seriously, does it get much more Presidential or American than that?

I used our secret family recipe for meatloaf because the recipe that my mom passed down to me truly does make the best meatloaf.  But since I'm so generous and I like to share all my tasty recipes with you, dear readers, I'll let you in on the family secret - it's on the back of the Lipton Onion Soup mix box.  Yup, it's that easy.  I always thought that my mom must have had some amazingly wonderful and complicated, carefully guarded recipe but nope, turns out Lipton has the best recipe and they share it with everyone.  The macaroni and cheese recipe isn't much more complicated than the meatloaf recipe, but you won't find it on the side of a box.  I will share the recipe with you now, my mom gave it to me and I'm pretty sure her mom gave it to her so it kind of is a family recipe.  But it's not a secret so...

burchnall baked macaroni and cheese
1 lb macaroni (I prefer shells or elbows, but you can use whatever you like best)
1/2 c butter
1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp pepper
3 1/2 c milk
16 oz Velveeta cheese, sliced
8 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook macaroni until al dente.  When cooked, drain and put in a large, oven-safe casserole dish.
2. In a sauce pan, melt butter and add in milk, pepper, Velveeta and about 6 oz of the cheddar cheese allowing the sauce to get melty and gooey delicious.  Slowly mix in the flour making sure to whisk really really well and get all the lumps out.  Pour the cheese sauce over the macaroni making sure it all gets covered and mixed in.  Top with extra cheese and breadcrumbs. 
3. Bake at 350 for about 20-25 minutes.  Unbaked mac & cheese can be frozen or refrigerated to cook up another time, just let it completely thaw and get to room temp before putting it in the oven.  Enjoy with stewed tomatoes or ham or meatloaf or something else homey and yummy.

I hope everyone had a very happy day off or, if you didn't have off, that it was at least a quiet day and that you were able to go home to a warm, home cooked, all-American meal like the one I fixed up for my pals.  And since we celebrate two of our most extraordinary Presidents, let us look back on them and smile and remember all the wonderful things they did for our great nation and us... like slay vampires and save children (but not the British children.)  Happy Presidents Day!

17 February 2012

a sticky situation

Last night, while I was whipping up my suppfast egg and cheese sandwich, I noticed something a bit unsettling - my non-stick pan no longer appeared to be non-stick.  This stickiness has actually been going on for quite awhile now but I've tried to ignore it for budgetary reasons.  But in this case, rather than being bliss my ignorance is caked on ick made of cheese residue, bacon fat, chicken skin and miso caramelization.  It's getting downright gross and it makes me sad to see the best crispy parts of some of my meals stuck to the bottom of a pan only to be soaked off overnight!  Can you believe that?  Overnight soaking?!  What is this, 1956?

Now, my non-stick teflon pan isn't the only skillet I rely on in my house.  No way, jose.  I was fortunate enough to inherit a beautifully seasoned and aged cast iron skillet passed down from my grandmother to my mother and then to me.  I use it pretty frequently but sometimes you just want the quick, easiness of teflon because you don't have to wait for it to warm up enough and you don't feel so bad about just tossing it in the sink with the rest of the dishes and letting it sit there until your lazy ass feels like busting out the Dawn.  I also love my cast iron skillet so much that at times, I'm afraid to use it and ruin it.  I'm such a chicken in that sense.  But I've heard horrible stories about them sitting in sinks and rusting or taking on weird flavors or getting too banged up and becoming unsalvageable.  It would be like losing my baby if anything happened to that.  And yes, I am referring to my KitchenAid when I say my baby.  So I think fear of ruining an heirloom cast iron skillet is a reasonable cause for being a chicken.

However, I digress.  What I need is a new non-stick, non-cast iron skillet.  I've been reading around in magazines and blogs about ceramic coated pans and how amazingly non-stick they are.  They were all over the cooking magazines during the holidays as the thing to get the foodie in your life.  The foodie blogs all rave about them.  And apparently the earth is cheering, too because they are way more green than teflon coated pans.  But that's not enough for me.  Do any of you have one of these magical non-stick pans?  Do you know someone who does?  Are you more in love with this pan that you are your significant other?  Even more telling, are you more in love with this pan than you are you KitchenAid? I need answers and advice and suggestions so pleasepleaseplease drop me a line if you've got a clue because this gal is clueless.  I plan on spending my long weekend researching and shopping around so your advice and tips are awaited and encouraged.  And don't worry, dear readers, y'all will be among the first to know about the newest addition to my kitchen family!

16 February 2012


While wandering around the blog-iverse the other day, I came across a posting at A Cup of Jo providing instructions from Smitten Kitchen's Deb for the best egg sandwich ever.  Since I'm a pretty major fan of a good egg and cheese sandwich, I read through and am sorry to say that I am a bit disappointed.  True, the cheese oozes out of the perfectly scrambled egg omelette sandwiched between a perfectly toasted English muffin, but there's no pizazz, no pep, nothing that shouts "I am an egg sandwich worthy of being deemed the best thing you've eaten all day!"  But if that's not the best damn egg sandwich ever made, what is?

I'll tell you.  Start with a few slices of thick, applewood smoked bacon.  Cook it up just right until its crispy but not crunchy and set it aside.  While your bacon is sizzling, shred up some extra sharp cheddar and slice up a perfectly ripe avocado into thin strips.  Pop a sliced whole wheat everything bagel into the toaster oven and let it get warm and just a bit toasty.  While the bagel is getting it's toasty on, get the frying pan, with a little bit of bacon fat still in there, nice and hot.  Crack two large eggs right on in and season with fresh ground salt and pepper.  Fry those eggs up carefully because a good egg sandwich has fried eggs, not scrambled.  Once you've flipped the eggs, toss that grated cheese on top and plop a lid on the pan so it gets nice and melty.  Pile the cheesy eggs, avocado and bacon on top of a half bagel, top with a little hot sauce or ketchup or spicy ketchup and top it off with the other bagel half.  Slice that monster in half and devour!  And that's how you make the best egg sandwich ever in the history of the world.

After reading the article and thinking about how outrageously delicious my egg sandwich always turns out, I had a bit of a craving for one myself.  But until tonight, I haven't had the opportunity to whip one up despite the fact that it takes less than 15 minutes to do so.  So when I got home I pulled a whole wheat bagel out of the freezer (it's important to keep a stash for moments just like this) I didn't have any everything bagels left, let it thaw out for a few minutes and got to cookin.  Breakfast for dinner is always so satisfying.  My sister and I always got really excited when my mom would whip up some eggs or waffles at 6PM, but could never come up with an appropriate name.  Breakfast at lunchtime is brunch but what is breakfast in the evening?  Brunner, breaker, suppfast?  Whatever you decide to call it, it's delicious and warm and hearty and satisfying... especially when you make the world's best egg sandwich. My egg sandwich.

14 February 2012

be mine

You know how I love holidays?  Well, I do.  And one of the reasons I truly love every red letter day is because I grew up in a very festive house.  Every holiday was a chance to decorate the windows, cook something special and get crafty.  I woke up this morning to a text from my mom that reminded me of how special she and my daddy-o made us gals feel every February 14th.  She wrote 'Pink cream of wheat anyone? xoxo'  You see, every Valentine's Day morning, my mom would whip up a big pot of Cream o' Wheat and color it pink.  She would even try and make it extra lumpy for me because that's how I like it.  Later on in the day, my kid sister and I would get gifts from our original Valentine, our daddy.  I remember one year, he gave me a cassette tape of Paula Abdul's Forever Your Girl album.  It was one of the best Valentine's presents I've ever gotten... seriously, one of the best.

I've tried to have magical and wonderful Valentine's Days in the past.  I've done the fancy restaurants, the at home gourmet meal, heart shaped strawberry pancakes (these were accused of looking like livers,) even the romantic getaway.  But none of those attempts ever captured that wonderful, warm feeling of being truly loved the way the simple act of a pink breakfast and bad pop music from the only people who love you absolutely and unconditionally.  So in an attempt to share that special feeling and spread the love and festiveness that I grew up with (and is still buried somewhere in my cynical heart,) I decided to make that traditional V-Day breakfast for my lovely roomie this morning.  Then I realized that I had used the last of my pink and red food colorings on various red velvet cakes for a few birthdays.  Instead, she got purple Cream o' Wheat in a pretty red bowl with a cherry jam heart plopped in the middle.  The kiddies got heart shaped lollipops and in exchange I got a quiet library, cupcakes and quite a few absolutely adorable hugs.

This past year has taught me a lot about love and the many ways you can give it and receive it; all the different forms it can take on.  There are a lot of people worth loving in my life right now and I would like to take this opportunity to ask each and every one of them (girlfriends, guyfriends, best friends, new friends, old friends, far friends, near friends, moms, dads, cousins, aunts, uncles, extended family, folks I've just met, coworkers past and present, blog readers, even people I just smile at on the street - and that's a lot of people) a quick question - Will you be my Valentine?  We can ride tandem bikes together and have picnics.  And now that I'm in the process of getting my bike legs back (more on that and my new bike later... ooo I'm so in love with her,) this Valentine's card will surely ring true!  xoxo everyone, I love you all and wish you a happy and lovely Valentine's Day!

07 February 2012

super duper

Football and food - two of my favorite things!  Though I didn't watch much football this year (without a gaggle of guys in the house, you sometimes forget that it's Sunday,) and though my team blew it (oh the Jets,) I do enjoy a good, spirited Sunday afternoon of junk food, beer and yelling at the tv.  For the first time in a long time, I was not subjected to playing hostess for the big day... that does not however excuse me from making something warm and delicious and football appropriate. 

And what's more appropriate for a Super Bowl party than a bowl of something super like my warm buffalo bleu cheese dip.  It's the easiest thing in the world to make - no need to miss any crucial plays or awesome commercials and certainly not a moment of the always awesomely over-the-top half-time special (insert sarcasm here.)  My dip is perfect for a good, hearty coating on spicy wings (courtesy of the boys and Frank's,) because it's thick and creamy and warm unlike your basic bleu cheese salad dressing.  It's also amazing with Frito's or sliced veggies for those who avoid meaty things, and we all know that can be kind of tricky on football days.  This is also the kind of recipe that your friends will rave about all night because they don't realize how simple it is to whip up and how few ingredients the recipe requires.  I will now share with you the true winner of the Super Bowl -

baby j's buffalo bleu cheese dip
16 oz cream cheese
8 - 12 oz crumbled bleu cheese (I like mine to be almost equal to the cream cheese)
1/8 c Frank's hot sauce (or any hot sauce, but Frank's is the best)
1/4 c cream or 1/2 & 1/2
dash of garlic powder
red pepper flakes
1. Mix cream cheese, bleu cheese, cream and hot sauce together in an oven-safe dish.  Add in garlic powder, s&p to taste.  Top with a splash of red pepper flakes.  Bake at 350 until the top starts to brown and sizzle, about 20 minutes.  Serve hot or room temp or cold, it's pretty delish no matter how you dish it out.

If you're feeling creative, you could add some crispy bacon, fresh chopped chives, even buffalo chicken if you don't feel like having messy fingers from handling wings all night!  I really love it with a bit of bacon, it kind of makes it taste like a spicy cob salad when you scoop it out with veggies.  And can it get any easier than that??

I don't believe that anyone at the party was a hardcore fan of either team but being that we're all New Yorkers by address, we were hoping to crush New England (which we did; awesomely!)  And we were all fans of my buffalo bleu cheese dip, that's for sure!  It was the game winning touchdown to our table of treats - spicy hot wings, seven layer dip, nachos, chili, chips, more chips, pretzels, veggies, even more chips, loads of beer, celebratory shots of whiskey, and cookies.  You could say we were all a bit bowled over by all the tasty snackage... buh dum bum.  It was a rollicking good time with a great group of people and wonderful food.  Now what major sporting event can we celebrate next?  I believe the bobsledding championships are coming up, anyone down for a party?

feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme

05 February 2012

in a lynch-ian kinda mood

There must be something in the air that makes all of these Lynch-like things keep popping up in my life.  One of my top five favorite shows of all time is for sure Twin Peaks.  Now, Twin Peaks was a lot of things, but it was never cheesy.  So imagine my surprise when perusing the cheese selections at the Brooklyn Kitchen, I came across Big Ed's farm style gouda.  I hadn't realized that Ed ventured out of the gas station business and into the production of cheese but apparently he's been busy making some delicious, creamy cheese.  Well done, Big Ed!  I've been slicing off bits of this buttery chunk o' cheese to eat with crackers and sliced pears.  I shredded a bit to top off an omelet with crispy bacon, avocado and red onion.  But I'm looking to use the last little bit in something totally worthy of being served up at the Double R Diner.  Any thoughts?  Dearest readers, I'm calling you in for this one.  Toss some ideas my way of the best dish you can come up with using Big Ed's gouda cheese - breakfast, lunch, dinner, late night snack, it's diner food so any cuisine or mealtime is acceptable.  Also, I'd like to have a Twin Peaks dress up party, but that's for another time... for now, let's focus on the food.

01 February 2012

oh yeah

is his coffee so strong that it will make my hair stand on end?
I recently started drinking coffee again.  While most people give up the muddy caffeinated goodness for the new year in an effort to be healthier and less dependent on things, I did the complete opposite.  You see, after working in a coffee shop for what seemed like forever, I became immune to the buzz and sick of the flavor.  But now I'm back and once again, I'm hooked.  Yes, I still have my daily glass of Ovaltine and I drink a few cups of blackberry sage tea for wisdom throughout my day at the school, but coffee has reentered my life as the perfect afternoon snack.  If you know me, you know that I like my coffee strong and dark (black like my eternally tormented soul) with enough cinnamon to create a sort of sludge in the last couple of sips.  So I'm always in search of a tasty cup that will relieve me of headaches and exhaustion and the everyday stresses of life in a library (nearly none at all, actually.)

Well whadaya know - just in time, my man David Lynch has released yet another commercial for his Signature Cup organic coffee.  I'm dying to try this and the commercial seems like such a tease since I have yet to see the coffe for sale anywhere but online!  I might just break down and order a few pounds but I'd much rather find some in a store around town.  Anyone know where a gal might procure some A+ beans?  I could really go for a damn fine cup of coffee.

revuesday - Shanghai Joe's

To conclude the fifteen day celebration of Chinese New Year, let's talk about another amazing restaurant and another amazing group of folks that I have the please of celebrating with.  Every year, I join my Aunt Carolyn and Holman and their gaggle of friends and friends' kids for a Chinese New Year celebration in the heart of Chinatown.  I think this year may have been our biggest crowd yet, fourteen of us in all.  Though this means that we have to wait for what seems like forever for a table at a restaurant that doesn't take reservations, the good food and the even better company make it all worth it.  

So this past Saturday night we all met up at Carolyn and Holman's place down on the LES for some snacks and pre-supper cocktails and catch-up conversations.  Lucky New Year's gifts of Powerball tickets were handed out with the promise that any winnings would be split 14 ways.  (I ended up winning $4 with the Quick Pick which means we all get a whopping $.28 to put towards those around-the-world vacations, yachts and beach houses.  Hooray!)  Soon after our stomachs started grumbling and it was time to parade down Pell Street to Joe's Shanghai.

This tiny restaurant isn't exactly hidden, but you do have to know your way around the winding streets of lower Manhattan and not be afraid of getting lost in order to get there.  All of the food at this is spot on delicious but what you're really gonna want to go for is the soup dumpling.  These are tender ittle bits of meat swimming in hot, brothy goodness and wrapped up in a little jacket of noodley love.  Mmmmm they are to die for!  So much good food and absolutely worth the wait.  I'm not going to review every entree I've ever had there but I will give you a list of everything I've ever ordered there and trust me when I say this list is totally safe to order from because everything on it is out of this world!

Scallion Pancakes - get these!!! best scallion pancakes ever!
Soup Dumplings - shrimp and pork
General Tso's Chicken - generally a favorite among all
Beef with Broccoli - never too saucy and always tender
the Seasonal Vegetables never fail, especially when it's pea leaves
Singapore Noodles - they sound like they should be spicy, but they're more curry-licios
Lo Mein & Fried Rice - duh! beef, chicken, pork, shrimp... pick your yummy poison
Salt & Pepper Shrimp - just a tad crispy and so full of flavor
Fried Sweet & Sour Whole Yellowfish - the idea of getting a whole fish can be intimidating, but it's worth it because there is sooo much flavor and the meat just falls of the bone
Crispy Pepper Skin Duckling - one word. yum!
Black Mushroom with Cabbage Heart - the earthiness of this dish is so good
Vegetable with Bean Curd - vegetarian delight
And if you're lucky, after your meal you'll get special Chinese doughnut things alongside a creamy dipping sauce and orange slices.  Beats a boring old fortune cookie any day of the week!

Whether it's the New Year or not, Joe's Shanghai is definitely a trip worth taking because this Chinese food is oh so much better than the kind you have to order through bullet-proof glass on the corner, next to the bodega.  And if the wait is horrifically long, there's a secret little margarita speakeasy joint just around the corner.  But you'll have to find that on your own.  I can't share all my secret spots with you. But we can always grab a drink and some soup dumplings together... new friends are a great way to start the new year don't you think?

ε‰ζ…Άζœ‰ι€˜ - May your happiness be without limit!
Happy Year of the Dragon!