Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Homestyle Buffet

What could be better than a little taste of this, a taste of that? Here's a round up of pictures of things we made at home/ate at home. Mmmm nothing says love like home cooking!

I attempted to make pizza at home. It all started with this legend that you could grill pizza. My first attempt last year was a disaster. The dough was so soft it wound up falling into the fire. Not good. I’m a little leery about making my dough after that, so I got really excited when Stop & Shop had a sale on ready-made pizza sough balls. Huzzah! 

I got two white flour and two whole wheat, and naturally had to give it a go and make pizza at home. Definitely follow the times on the bag, or you’ll wind up with “well done” pizza like we did. Sad face. I'll post my second attempt at grilled pizza shortly, and how that was less of a bust, but still a bust. Double sad face.

Next we have The Fisherman's roasted chicken and crack pasta. I easily make crack pasta for him once a week. Here's the 411 on crack pasta and it's many variations. Sometimes the simple stuff is the best. Yay for The Fisherman cooking <3

Next is my take on Polish breakfast after our last trip to Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Kielbasi, cooked with eggs and onions, served with a side of nice rye bread. Zachwycający! I totally had to Google that, as my Polish is limited to saying grandma, lol. I might have to make another Greenpoint trip soon...

And now, The Fisherman's first taste of NYC breakfast, bagel and schmear with smoked salmon. I made a big goof with low fat cream cheese, thinking the emphasis is on the salmon. Grievous error. Never again. Other than that I think he really liked it.

Joju: Banh Mi with a Twist

Joju is a fairly new Banh Mi shop here in Elmhurst, and a quick Google search will show you that there is quite a bit of buzz. Naturally The Fisherman and I had to check out since a) it’s right in his neck of the woods, b) it looks awesome and c) it’s banh mi!  So we went, and were joined by some of The Fisherman’s friends.

Disclosure: while the sandwiches were good, The Fisherman and I were trying not to be sandwich beasts and therefore we ordered one sandwich each. The sandwiches were delicious and we even got an appetizer of spring rolls. (Sorry about the lack of spring roll pics, seems I didn't get a shot of those. Next time I'll get fresh ones and photograph them)

Reviews are right in that if you go late and want something other than banh mis, they may run out. They sometimes even run out of meat stuffs for their banh mis, but I guess on a Friday evening that is possible. It is also true that they make the non banh mi stuff early in the day and it sits in the fridge, so keep that in mind. If I went next time, I’d rather go earlier in the day.

Onto the star of the show, the banh mis! One of us got the beef bulgogi (ooo, Vietnamese/Korean fusion!!), and one of us got the pork belly. I believe they were out of the lemongrass chicken, which I read good things about. That could be why.

Beef bulgogi, now found in banh mi form!
Both sandwiches were really good, and I definitely would like to try all of them, maybe have a banh mi-thon, yeah!

Take me to pork belly town!
 We also got drinks, when in Rome. I know I ordered one drink, they didn’t have it, so I ordered the rose and green bubble tea. 

Tea-lightful. But not what I originally wanted...
 Disclosure: I have this knack for ordering stuff that a place doesn’t have. I’m learning to accept my fate, but it really grinds my gears. First of all, when I worked in a really small restaurant on my college campus, if we ran out of something, we 86’d, or removed it from the menu. That way, if for example, we ran out of chicken ranch pizza, you knew before you ordered it and we told you we were out. Why can’t other small places cover those items, or even have a note in a Lucite frame on the counter? Oh yeah, and in restaurant speak, you never run out, you sell out. Boy did I have a blast with learning that little gem of wisdom?

Granted Joju’s fairly new, they haven’t quite gotten into their groove, they haven’t figured out what sells and what doesn’t. I get that. But I go to so many places, order something, and they don’t have it. WTF?? Not cool.

Anyway, minor digression…so I got the rose and green bubble tea by default, and The Fisherman got the three colored drink (also in the fridge, partly made and finished when you ordered). Now, three colored drink is coconut milk, pandan extract, yellow mung beans, and water chestnuts. The pandan is green, mung beans are yellow, and usually the water chestnuts are colored red, but in this case not. This drink was interesting, much like bubble tea 2.0.

Three colored drink, all mixed up and nowhere to go
Overall, I really liked  Joju as a stop for your banh mi needs. With so many Asian restaurants close by, you could easily do a trip all over Asia just walking along Broadway. Definitely a stop to make, preferably earlier in the day.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Manor Oktoberfest: A Bus Trip to Beerfest!

I’ve been trying to take The Fisherman to Manor Oktoberfest, in the Atlas Mall in Glendale, for ages. The trouble is, his commute home is long so he’s not big on traveling much on Fridays. Saturdays and Sundays were running here and there, grocery shopping, fishing, this and that.

Then, Living Social had this deal, and that’s what snagged him! Mwahahahaha! They offered $25 credit at their restaurant for $12. Being me, I bought three credits, figuring we could do some serious damage. 

Problem is, you could only use one at a time. Bad news, we couldn’t have an amazing dinner for less than $40, but, it also means we get to go back, two more times. This place is so good, it’s well worth it.

I first saw Manor Oktoberfest on a trip to the Atlas Mall. I wrote about my first experience here, and wanted to share it with the Fisherman. 

We make our way to the bus, take our fun little adventure from Elmhurst, through Middle Village, the rest of middle-of-nowhere Queens, to Glendale. 

We take a quick tour of the mall, I’m so glad to see Bobbi and the Strays is still there. They're a non-profit, no kill shelter, so if you're looking for a companion to give a forever home to, please go to her. I seriously considered adopting from her when my cat Lucky died, but it was too soon. When the time comes, she's where I'll go.

Anyway, the problem with the Atlas Mall is that so many stores came, and then left, many are left empty, Border’s is going out of business. It’s sad because this could be a really nice grouping of shops. We shall see.

On a positive note, let’s talk about food!! The Fisherman was very excited about the liter of beer for less than $10, so we got one liter of Hofbräu München (the lighter beer) and one of the Spaten Oktoberfest (the darker beer). 

We both preferred the Spaten, however I will give the Hofbräu credit as a good summer beer. I mean it’s a German beer, it was good. 

 Then the appetizer, the Smoked Black Forest Bacon. So good, like always. I mean, where else can you get bacon as a meal starter??

Next the entrée. I had the Bratwurst and Knockwurst, served with Manor Potato Salad and Sauerkraut before, it did not disappoint. 

The Fisherman chose the two Kassler Rippchen (Smoked Loin Pork Chop) served with Home Fried Potatoes and Sauerkraut as the wild card dish. This also did not disappoint. It was hammy and delicious. 

All in all, I really, really like this place. And I think, just maybe, it won The Fisherman over as well. Good food, not cheap but so worth it. Now, what to try next? Any tips? Recommendations?

New World Mall Food Court, Part One of Many

Hey, long time, no see. Sorry about the lack of postings, The Fisherman and I were going places, doing things, fishing, cooking, eating and of course, taking pictures. Things at the office have been a little hectic as well, but I have lots of stories, and pictures ready for your viewing pleasure. 

After visiting the New World Mall three times, we finally had the chance to check out the food court and actually eat something. 

I have every intention to go back, but if my next adventure takes too long, definitely check out these postings on the New World Mall food court: here's Serious EatsChowhound and The Village Voice. If you can get there, definitely make the trip.

First, a rare sight, the food court is empty. It literally just opened, but soon enough it will be quite full. 

For our first run we checked on Shikoku for the chicken teriyaki (any mall fav!), Tainjin’s buns, and the famous Snopo. 

The Fisherman, being a carnivore naturally needed meat, so our first stop was Shikoku. 

We got the usual double meat chicken teriyaki on rice, a good call on the meat, I think. It was good, mall teriyaki standard, something I can get close to where I live at iCook, or if I dare venture to the Queens Center Mall. Seriously, that place was manageable when it was half the size. Now, I get panic attacks just thinking of going there. That and wondering if someone’s going to fall on me

But I digress, onto Tainjin, and their buns, a long biscuity bread rope, a pumpkin bun, and a pork, ginger and scallion bun. How can you go wrong with a place whose icon is a dumpling??

All three were a buck each, making this an impressive snack.

I LOVED the bread rope one. It was bready, doughy, a great breakfast treat to me. 

Long rope of doughiness. Supposedly these are supposed to be sweeter rather than savory. For once, I prefer the latter.
 Bread rope mustache

For $1, I’d be quite full. The pumpkin one surprised me because I didn’t love it, and I usually really like all that is squashy. Too greasy. The pork, ginger and scallion bun was quite good, like wonton filling in a bread dough shell. 

Finally, Snopo. 


We couldn’t quite figure out what the appeal was, and then we got it. The ice is shaved super thin, and the initial flavor is in the ice, shaped like a round disk, with a whole in the middle to spin the disk. The consistency is part cotton candy, part ice cream, part snow. We wanted to see the essence of Snopo so we chose strawberry with strawberry syrup. It was like a fluffy strawberry Nestle Quick dessert. The food court was really hot so this totally hit the spot, we almost couldn’t eat it fast enough. 

I definitely want to go back, for the food we had, and the food we have yet to discover.