Friday, January 27, 2012

Get Your Meat On! Picnic Garden

I’ve heard about this next place from The Fisherman. Finally, on one really chilly night, we went with the Fisherman’s Mama to Picnic Garden in Flushing Queens. He’d been going on, and on, and on about Picnic Garden, and finally I was like, “OKAY! Then take me there, I want to see if Shangra-La, I mean Picnic Garden, is all it’s cracked up to be. 

Picnic Garden is a Korean barbecue buffet (BUFFET!!!), where you choose your meat and grill it yourself on a cute little grill at your table. There are also sides like the customary kimchi, (which I found a bit sweet), noodles, some veggies. 

The reality is this is all a distraction, it’s a joke, really. The whole objective of a place like Picnic Garden is the meat! If you don’t intend to eat your weight in animal tastiness, then save your money (it’s about $26-$30 a person). 
In terms of meat, it runs the gamut. There’s spicy chicken and pork, beef bulgogi, lamb, varieties of offal (luckily I was spared, I wasn’t in an offal mood at that moment), sausages, and seafood. Actually this unappealing looking white sausage turned out to be an amazing pork sausage which really surprised me. They also had Italian sausage, which made me very happy indeed. The seafood, squid and shellfish, was also quite tasty. 

Now, with all this meat, one would guess, is that all you eat? Well, not really. The waitstaff is constantly  watching your table and making sure you have plenty of lettuce, all the better to wrap and eat your meaty little treasures, my dear. Then, on the buffet table are whole peeled cloves of garlic, sliced jalapeño peppers, and other condiments. 

Now, for those playing at home, you take the lettuce, sauce, garlic and peppers (or not, but what’s the fun in that??), and meat, or any combination thereof on the lettuce, wrap it, and you have a two bite-sized pack of YUM! Incredible. And, with the variety, you can go on a MEATSTRAVAGANZA!!! So many kinds of meat, only so much stomach real estate.

Now, some drawbacks that are minor, but still relevant. First, you have to cook the food, so you have to wait a bit before you eat. It doesn’t take long because the meat pieces are small to cook quickly. But when you’re hungry, and the place smells smoky and delicious, you want it NOW! 

Also, you have to really watch the food cooking and basically pull stuff off, put stuff on, and eat the cooked stuff, to keep the pace of cooking and eating. It’s no fun to finish and then have to wait for stuff to cook.

Speaking of smoke, I read in many of the Yelp reviews, which sadly, were by ladies, that the smoke permeates your hair, clothes, etc. Apparently that’s a bad thing, which I don’t understand. First of all, smoky meat smell is awesome. Second, everyone knows the key to a man’s heart is his stomach and smelling like meat is a great way to attract a guy, or keep him if you snagged one already.

I don’t see why smelling smoky for a bit is an issue. But then again my cat Bacon was trying to climb up my leg and demand meat (guess why her name’s Bacon). I was loving it, sniffing my shirt and going, “Mmmmmm.”

Anyway, I think this place was awesome! Can you go and eat that much meat all the time? Not advised. But it’s a fun time nonetheless, smoky scented, meatastic fun. 

Next, I’ll write about a great trip to a new local supermarket, SkyFoods in Elmhurst! Until then, mangia!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Anniversary Noms: Book Chang Dong Soon Tofu

Ah, it's great to be back! So many things to eat, so little time. One brief thing, my two sense about the recent Paula Deen "scandal," if you can call it that. 

I wasn't surprised by the news in the least, diabetes is a huge problem in America, and it's because of what we eat, how we eat, and how little we burn off what we eat. I don't think she should be a scapegoat, or blamed for her condition, it's unfair and overly simplistic. 

Does she push ridiculously bad for your food? Yes. Does she use more butter than the French? Yes. Does she tell us to eat this all the time? No. Does she hold us all at gunpoint demanding we scarf down one her various Gooey Butter Cakes? No. 

Look, it's time we all be grownups, and take responsibility for our actions. Eat the stuff Paula Deen makes on a regular basis, and what do you expect? Don't exercise,inhale your take out meal while on the run from the subway or in the car, and do you think that's really good for you to do all the time? 

Granted, she is now promoting the meds she uses for her diabetes, which I find a bit distasteful, but if I were her, I'd probably do the same thing. That's the name of the game, all the big celebrity chefs do it, not that it's right. 

So, in sum, I feel I have to say that I don't eat all the fun stuff I'd like all the time, and neither should you. It's not good for you, and it's not worth your health. Have the good stuff once in awhile, but try to be reasonable the rest of the time. I'm attempting yet another way to be more mindful of what I eat, hoping to "be good" during the work week, and enjoying myself during the weekends. We shall see how that goes. 

Okay enough preaching and ranting and onto something more pleasant, love and tofu!

During my hiatus, one thing I forgot to mention in my last post was The Fisherman and I had our one year anniversary. To celebrate, we went back to the place we went on our first date (not the lame ass local cafe in our neighborhood where we first went).

Anyway, onto the food: Book Chang Dong Soon Tofu, located in Flushing, has really awesome tofu and pork bone soups. Trust me, it's good.

Here's one page of the menu, the important part, the one with the Soon Du Bu, or tofu stew. This place makes their own tofu, which is pretty impressive in my book. It's like making cheese, but with soy. Anyway, The Fisherman got the So Go Li Soon Du Bu, or oxtail (the man loves his oxtails), whereas I got the Kimchi Soon Du Bu, because I am all about the kimchi. 

Before our stews come, our banchan, or Korean sides, arrive. All sorts of goodies await, such as (from left) sprouts (mung bean maybe?), some incredible tofu, cabbage kimchi, cucumber kimchi, some braised pork, and sweet potatoes, I think. Sometimes it's fun to eat and ask questions later, especially if it's tasty. This is awesome because you change change things up as you eat, good stuff, this here banchan!

Now, the stew. It usually comes with a raw egg, which you crack into it, and either leave alone to cook in the stew (which I believe is just a tad hotter than the surface of the sun, so you have to be careful), or I stir up up egg drop soup style. A good rule of thumb at this place, according to The Fisherman, is not to get the really spicy, because it's more like super salty. So we both got spicy, because that's how we roll. You have the egg, the wonderfully eggy feeling tofu, the amazing broth, and if it wasn't just a tad hotter than the surface of the sun I would have been able to eat it faster than a geriatric turtle. 
The Fisherman, however, has an ovenproof mouth, and was able to eat his in a timely manner.

And, because the people next to us got it, we had to as well, the bulgogi short ribs. Delicious! 

Bulgogi is a type of marinated and grilled meat. I don't care what they put in it, it's delicious. I believe it's soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, pepper, and garlic, but it could be unicorn tears and I'd still eat. I felt like a beast eating it but it was so tasty!

And what better thing to be propping up this magnificent meat than onions? Bathed in the beefy bulgogi love juice, those were an amazing bonus side. And look at that, a vegetable too!

I'm pretty sure this is The Fisherman's  Soon Du Bu, but really they both look very similar. On our first date I tried the oxtail, and I see why so many cultures love the tail of the cow (other's tend to be squeamish so they call it oxtail instead of cow tail, I don't get it). Oxtail is full of yumminess, and makes great soup. This time, my heart was calling for kimchi, and I could not resist the call for kimchi.

Speaking of my heart, I want to take a moment to be sappy and write a little something to 
The Fisherman: I'm sorry our other anniversary plans didn't work out the way they should have. To me, the important thing is letting you know, again, how much you mean to me, and how happy I've been in the year since we've been together. The new things you've taught me, about life, about myself, I couldn't have done without you. I hope I do the same for you.  I hope I make your heart sing like you do for me, and I'm so glad we found each other. I love you, and I hope we have another great year of adventures together. 

><>*<>< (Fishie Kisses), The Pisces


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Back from the depths

Hey readers, if there are any out there. My apologies about being very delinquent in posting. I kept meaning to write to say I was going on a temporary hiatus, but things just got busier and busier, until you look up and see October became November, then December, ...and holy crap it almost mid January!!

See, I work in Nonprofitland, specifically a place that helps make sure seniors who are unable to cook for themselves have something to eat every day of the year. Like any other industry, you have slow times, and busy times. For me, I start getting busy after Labor Day and it only gets worse, and worse, and worse, until about mid January.

During my hiatus, I helped my team of Marathon runners make it to Staten Island for the ING New York City Marathon, worked to sell lots of our holiday cards, sent lots of donation made in honor or in memory of someone special, got many gifts matched by corporations or employee giving programs, and ran lots and lots of credit cards.

It's not a bad thing, because a busy charity, especially since I work in raising money, means we have money to do what we need to do. It means people who normally might not have food on weekends, holidays and bad weather or emergencies do have food. Pretty good food too.

It's not good in the sense that, when you want to write in your blog, for example, you really just don't have the time.

And of course throw in the holidays, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, all the fun that comes with it. And, for extra fun, throw in moving to a new apartment to the mix, and you're lucky if you remember to pay bills, clean, hell, cooking even took a back seat for a few weeks.

But, the holidays are pretty much over, I can actually see my desk at work (it could have been replaced by Legos and I wouldn't have noticed). I'm moved, my apartment's pretty settled, and of course, I have lots of pictures of the tasty adventures of The Fisherman and I.

So, if you're still out there, sit tight, and I'll be back very soon with new places, cuisines and fun times!

Until then, while we're all trying to keep our New Year's resolutions, don't forget that healthy and delicious are not mutually exclusive. Mangia!