Wednesday, August 22, 2012

dark dinners

Yesterday Kristin and I went to Astoria to meet Ann, and she took us to all these Greek stores. I didn't need groceries, I'm leaving for a week this Saturday and don't want food guilt, you know food gone bad, waste of money, etc... But somehow I ended up with bags full of olives, home made tzatziki and feta dip, pita, and savory pastries, which were all right up my alley (also ate about 50% of this food already, so I think I'm ok). The tzatziki especially was so good, all creamy and tangy. Then she took us this Mediterranean fish restaurant called Elias (I think...) and it has no menu, just the catch of the day. I felt so full, but the good kind of full where you've just eaten a lot of fresh food that sits well with you. Not the kind of post-hamburger fullness I know so well.

Greek salad

Kristin says a real Greek salad doesn't have any lettuce in it, and this didn't (or not much at least), so I guess this was the real deal. It's one of my favorite things to eat.


White snapper

Grilled octopus

This was my favorite. I love octopus, but I usually have it only in Korean food, in stews or little pieces, not big tentacles like this. It was so moist. I didn't know I could call octopus moist. Maybe juicy is a better word. Nothing was overly seasoned, just a little bit so that you can get the real seafood-y taste. 

I've been wanting to go to Mission Chinese Food for a while now and I finally did last weekend. It's not-quite-Chinese "Kung Pao Pastrami." Anyway, I'm just gonna copy and paste what I read in the NYT: "Mr. Bowien [the guy with the long ponytail] does to Chinese food what Led Zeppelin did to the blues. His cooking both pays respectful homage to its inspiration and takes wild, flagrant liberties with it. " Google it, I guess.

The wait was ridiculously long, like 3 hours long. And I would have been really mad if it weren't for the free keg (I didn't have any beer but I liked having the option) and the chicken wings that kept coming out of the kitchen and getting passed around. They were amazing. Super moist on the inside and perfectly crispy skin, and for the first time, I actually enjoyed the burn of spicy food. I mean, it could be because I didn't have any water to drink so I had to force myself to endure the pain, but then that sort of turned into a weirdly pleasant slow burn down my throat. I read online that the wings are poached in oil, salted, frozen, then deep-fried because the freezing helps stretch the skin a little so the wings are mega crispy. WILD

It's pretty dark in there. And really red, obviously. I guess it's supposed to be hip. Or Chinese. Or both? The inside looks like a cool bad Chinese take out restaurant and the only thing that makes it you think it's cool are the ~west coast chill vibes~ people that work there. That sounds kind of mean, it's not. I'm from the West Coast too, I'm just not cool. The actual dining area is fun. These are lotus roots, and they were just alright. 

 These are "Beijing vinegar peanuts" with salt, vinegar, smoked garlic and anise. They were really great, somewhere between soft and crunchy and also really vinegar-soury, which I love.

Mapo Tofu with pork shoulder and red pepper

This was also really spicy. Everything was spicy, it's a miracle I didn't burn all my taste buds off. But they were kind of numb the next day because the food was a little salty. Well, I think it's supposed a little salty, but we didn't really have a balance of non-salty things and just ate so much sodium at one time it got overwhelming in the end. I think this was the saltiest. I could tell that it was really good..the tofu was firm but still silky and the pork was so saucy and flavorful, but at that point, it was kinda too much. I would try it again, but maybe just have some rice on the side instead of a million other NaCl-loaded (check it out, I know some science stuff) dishes. It was all cheap for how much food we ate.

Mongolian long beans 

 Pork jowls and radishes with fermented black beans, sesame leaves, and mint

This was so good! Still salty, but I think that's why it was so smart and important to have the sesame leaves. It really created a nice balance and fresh (maybe that's not the right word?) flavor to go with the fatty meat and salty beans. We also got stir fried buckwheat noodles, which I will definitely get again.

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