Friday, January 29, 2010

Mackin' on Macaroons

Photo by La tartine gourmande.

I want these. Anyone know where to find some quality macaroons in New York City?

Laughter in the Dark

I love this kid.


P.S. Wish You Were Here

With negative wind chills, blizzards and real-feel temperatures in the single digits, something in me longs for warmer climes.

Let's revisit Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. Spring Break, circa March 2008.

Casa Valeria.

Our lodgings. The proprietors here were so friendly and gracious. We often had continental breakfast in the mornings - simple toast with marmalade, ham, eggs and sausage - followed by meat stews and rice and beans for supper. Oh, and I can't forget the Mama Juana "on the house" - that potent brew, served in a simple shot glass, was a mixture of rum, red wine and honey soaked over time in a bottle with herbs and tree bark. It is known as an aphrodisiac and has similar effects as Viagra. Yeah.


The lights are pretty.

Bob's bike.

Bob is another guest who was staying at the Casa Valeria. He was middle-aged, very tall with an athletic build, and, like us, American. Bob was here with his female companion. My dad later spotted him windsurfing at a nearby beach in Cabarate. Because we kept running into him at different locations throughout the DR, we jokingly referred to him as our Waldo, from "Where's Waldo?".


Maria is a sweet Dominican lady who was our waitress at Casa Valeria's restaurant. She had a child around my brother's age (6, then). Though her English was limited, we still chatted with her about family and the Island lifestyle. Her lively chatter and robust laughter echoes in my ear even now.

Sis sips coconut water.

This is my favorite shot of the bunch. Look how refreshing this young coconut looks! See here the smiling pucker of approval from my sister, she of the polka-dot-handbag-carrying variety. And my mom, who's normally a cold-head, is actually (wonder of wonders) shedding her jacket! Crazy.

I miss this. Take me back already!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Great Escape

Chai Tea Latte ($3.25).


Cafescape. 59-02 Woodside Av. Woodside, NY 11377.

No Ifs, Ands or Buts

Unless it's pork butt.

Pictured: Pork butt (1, 2). Cabbage and Shiitake mushrooms (3).

Gahm Mi Oak: Scene-setter or Cent-Stealer?


This article originally appeared on The Gotham Palate.

After nearly shattering our vocals during three hours of intense karaoke, my friend C and I were on the hunt for victuals. Still unable to consume the more fiery offerings of Pocha 32 (notably, the kimchi and gochujang-soaked budae chigae), I chose Gahm Mi Oak for a change. From outside, sparkling white Christmas lights cast a soft glow over the people eagerly eating and chatting away within.

Gahm Mi Oak's taste palate is actually more akin to a hybridized take on Korean cuisine than straight-up Korean BBQ. In fact, Gahm Mi Oak doesn't even sell Gopdol (stone-bowl) Bibimbap, only the cold version, which C and I had. At $14.95, it was one of the less expensive items on the menu, thought it was rather light and not fully satisfying.


The decor is more classy and upscale than traditional Korean restaurants. Faux-stone walls cast a historical landmark feel to the restaurant, like an antique relic culled from an archaeological dig. Landscapes from different cities were laid out side-by-side on the walls, reminding me of the artwork from a hip Italian cafe or chic coffeehouse.


Our waiter was efficient, if a tad smug toward non-Korean customers, which made up about 50% of the clientele. He delivered a large fresh batch of kimchi to our table, then proceeded to chop it up with scissors. I found already on the table a hunk of onions, scallions and fist-sized green Jalapeno peppers encased in lettuce leaves...presumably for eating with meat, if we so desired. Next to these stood a rectangular dish of ssamjang, or an orange-red sauce made of fermented bean curd and red pepper paste. I really enjoyed the crunch and full bite of the kimchi, but I anxiously waited for the rest of the banchan that never came.

Bibimbap Close-up.

Mixed with Gochujang.

The bibimbap itself was pretty standard and scant on beef. We each received a bowl of milky beef broth soup and, at the end, a stick of Lotte chewing gum, which I found funny because it was labeled "Charming."

This isn't really the type of cuisine I dig. I could find better Korean food for cheaper at one of the dozen-odd Korean joints in Ktown. To be fair, I didn't try the meat dishes, but that would blow my wallet (most ran upwards of $23+). I hear the sulongtang is the best dish here.

Gahm Mi Oak was good for a try, but the haughty service put a sour puss on my face. And c'mon - don't be so stingy with the appetizers! I was expecting a full entourage of six or seven small trays of pickled, fermented and spicy appetizers. Didn't happen.

Final consensus: Good kimchi. Portions were on the small side. All things considered, I probably wouldn't go out of my way to make another trip here. Gahm Mi Oak was just OK.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Gahm Mi Oak
43 W 32nd St
New York, NY 10001

Monday, January 18, 2010

Fishing for Memories, Pt II

San Francisco, June 2007.

Riding a Cable Car. Mission.

St. Peter's Cathedral. North Beach.

Amoeba Music. Haight St.

Banana & Nutella Crepe. Crepe Express. Haight St.

Hodgepodge of Listings. UC-Berkeley. Berkeley.

Fishing for Memories, Pt I

Forgive the graininess. These pictures were taken from an old cell phone, circa 2007-08. Some good times...

Sun-dappled Lake. Rindge, NH.

Toah Nipi is one of my favorite retreat centers. I trekked there at least three or four times in college via the big yellow cheese bus (AKA school bus). It was really an oasis away from the grind of city-/student-life. I would throw on my red life vest and go canoeing with a few buddies, or just sit by the quiet beachy area and watch the ripples on the shore.

Everything in slow motion. No cars screeching, horns honking, people yapping on their phones. Not even a Green Peace-er in sight! Hallelujah!

Aya Battles the Giant Flowers.

My friend Aya traveled with me to San Francisco the summer of 2007. Soon after, she visited me in New York, and I took her around all my old haunts. Here, we stroll down Flushing Botanical Gardens and admire the leafy plumage. She tries not to get zapped by the crimson buggers. Yes, we're a little theatrical.

Roses are Red.

Rose Conservatory. San Francisco, CA.

Moss-covered Stones.

Japanese Zen Garden. San Francisco, CA.

The Remains of the Day.

Alcatraz. San Francisco, CA.


Photo montage taken Jan. 9. Housing Works Bookstore & Broadway-Lafayette. New York, NY.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Omelet Fortunes


I was in the mood for eggs, so I made a cheese omelet with cheddar and sprinkled some kimchi-nori seasoning over it, along with black pepper. Then I proceeded to smother the toast in Wild Berry jam.

My omelet.

After the meal, I cracked open a fortune cookie from the Chinese take-out the night before.

It read: "You have an unusually magnetic personality."

When I showed it to my dad, he zipped through it and responded in a slow, drawn-out tone:

"The keyword here would be...unusual."

Thanks, Dad. I can feel the love.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Hungry for Hiroko's

Sis and I enjoyed a relaxed meal at Hiroko's Place, which I reviewed earlier for The Gotham Palate. I love this restaurant for its Japanized take on American classics.

Omu Curry.

For me, nothing screams "comfort food" like omelets or curry. And when they're together...well, you better watch it because your senses will be knocked out! This dish tastes so homey and good you'll almost forget how you're already full two-thirds of the way in.

Omu Curry.

Omu Curry ($13) comes with tender slices of beef drizzled on top and chopped up ham in the omelet. It's a lot more filling than I anticipated. The sauce, though, is the best part of all. Bursting with flavor, but not in an overpowering my-mouth-is-so-hot kind of way. Subtle.

Beef Curry.

Sis dug into the Beef Curry ($11) with aplomb. Look at that hulking mountain of rice! Hiroko's carrots are very soft and sweet.

Beef Curry.

I could eat this every day. Well, maybe for a week.