Month: June, 2007

Food, friends, family

Sunday, June 24th, 2007 | All Things, Eats, Events, Family, Friends

I was intrigued from the moment I first learned of the “Big Pig Gig” at Daisy May’s BBQ USA – let it be noted: many months before the “Fat, Glorious Fat” piece appeared in The New York Times. J and J’s return to the city the week of my birthday suggested a synchronicity that created a perfect excuse for a gathering of my nearest and dearest over copious amounts of food.

The days leading up to Sunday’s dinner was a flurry of planning – much of which, as it happens, went on behind the scenes (spearheaded by SYB) to my blissful ignorance. To SC’s disappointment, we opted not for the whole pig, in favor of the more manageable pork butt. Much has been written about this particular feast, which Daisy May’s began offering in 2005, and although personally I was not bothered by the prospect of a full pig-out, I feared the more sensitive among us would not well endure the sight of a 30 to 35-pound pig propped on the table.

Daisy May BBQ

Daisy May reviews

My attempts to spare my friends came to naught when the group at the adjacent table ended up ordering the half pig feast – which in some ways, was more disturbing than the whole. Think: two hooves, half a head, half a snout, one ear… that last which somehow made its way to our table into SC’s clutches.

Our pork butts arrived as twin piles of shredded meat, accompanied by a bowl of gravy. The rack of lamb made a somewhat more elegant presentation. (Both were wildly delicious.) Recovering vegetarian J, who has a two leg limit on the animals she consumes, had the “Tennessee whisky beer can style” chicken. To supplement all this meat: “Texas Toast” (which, from what I could tell, was just buttered toast — but bigger), Creamy Cole Slaw, Black Beans with Burnt Ends, Rustic Creamy Corn with New York State Cheddar, Mashed Potatoes with Red Eye Gravy, Cajun Dirty Rice and Beans, Sweet Potatoes with Brown Sugar and Bourbon Peaches. And to wash it all down, cold beer and mason jars of sweet — intensely sweet — iced tea.

Texas Toast

Pork Butt

The 14 of us – me in my Gay Pride lei, compliments of MLF — ate until we could eat no more. When we were done, there was food enough left for another feast. Which we had, back at the surprise gathering at S & J’s new home. (Very tricksy, my friends!)

The long- coveted and precious (definitions 1, 2 and 3) Lady M Mille Crêpes cake, with its 22-23 dazzling layers of crepes and cream. (The wooden piggy was a bonus.):

Lady M Mille Crepes

(I hear they make a fine cheesecake, too.)

…and as if this were not bounty enough: the generous gift of music — which thanks to B, I did not abandon in the cab on the way home.

Mille mercis!

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Fleeting Flickr fame

Sunday, June 24th, 2007 | All Things, Arts, Family, Friends

“Our friends and families may think we’re just a little strange, but Origami Convention ’07 is an incredible opportunity to join hundreds of other people who share our fascination with this gentle art, hundreds of other people who understand without explanation.”

OrigamiUSA Convention 2007 information page

SYB, card-carrying member of OrigamiUSA, was deeply and happily ensconced in his yearly ritual of folding and socializing at FIT. After my Sunday morning clinic, I decided to take him up on his invitation to check out the exhibition, where origamists (or “folders,” in origami community parlance) from around the world had their works on display for the general public.

At the end of an underground hallway, in an otherwise non-descript room, there were set up tables upon tables of colorful models: impossibly intricate animals, faces, figures, modulars, tessellations… the sheer skill and creativity was astounding. I ran through a pair of AA batteries just trying to digitally capture it all. In keeping with the friendly, inclusive nature of the gathering, the exhibition was open to all who wanted to showcase their work, with no regard for “rankings” or prizes awarded…. just a place for folders to share their designs and mutual love of paper.

The room gradually began to fill with convention attendees – some in colorful, elaborate paper hats, naturally – as the morning classes and seminars broke for lunch. A quirky group, based on my brief interactions with a few of the folders, but perhaps no more eccentric than any group tightly knit around a common, and very specific, interest.

A sampling of exhibit photos. Yami Yamauchi’s “Life is Beautiful” (via SYB), an arrangement of 427 individual models:

OrigamiUSA 2007

Satoshi Kamiya‘s mind-blowing dragon, which according to Wikipedia, is created from a single 20″ sheet of paper folded 275(!) times.

OrigamiUSA 2007

OrigamiUSA 2007

Joel Cooper’s faces:

OrigamiUSA 2007

HOJYO Takashi‘s figures:

OrigamiUSA 2007

Robert Lang’s awesome single-sheet origami flag, which was featured in the New York Times Magazine in April. Lang himself was at the exhibit that morning; apparently he’s something of an origami rock star, if there can be such a thing.

OrigamiUSA 2007

After a stop at Pinkberry-rival Yolato, I headed back home to work on the new flickr pro account, taking advantage of the few hours’ break in today’s schedule to upload my photos from that morning. The response almost immediate: by nighttime, my “Origami Convention 2007” flickr set had logged just over two dozen views; by the following day, a few dozen more. (Contrast this with the audience for some of my other flickr sets, whose views can be counted on one hand.) And then a link to the exhibition set hit the origami mailing lists and a few of the folder bulletin boards. Seemingly overnight, my numbers spiked: hundreds of views a day, new flickr contacts, a few comments, even some complimentary emails and “favorite” photo designations. Naturally, none of this is particularly unusual, but for someone unused to the attention, it was slightly disconcerting. Let’s face it: most of the time, I can’t even be certain my friends and family read this blog. So: flattering, yes, but disconcerting.

Improbably, after just over a year, and hundreds of hours spent crafting near-daily entries for vipnyc.org, I suddenly got noticed for a few random photos on my weeks-old flickr account. I don’t know whether to feel discouraged or validated. Well, that’s the Internet for you. (Isn’t it ironic? Don’tcha think?)

A couple of weeks and 3,000+ views later, the flickr set once again slipped under the radar. So I guess I’m back to toiling away in anonymity again.

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Harvest Buffet

Saturday, June 23rd, 2007 | All Things, Eats

I’m not a tremendous fan of the buffet-style eating, though I have been known to frequent my neighborhood all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant – according to the New York Press, “Best Place to Eat Seven Eel Rolls Because You Must.”

That title pretty much sums up my aversion to such places: for too many, the urge to maximize value — to “win,” as it were — compels diners to approach “all you can eat” as a challenge.

Often, AYCE conjures stomach-churning trips to Old Country Buffet – in fact, the chain’s website is www.buffet.com — though in recent years, upscale entrants like the East Buffets and Todai ne Minado have brought at least the quality of buffet selections to a higher level; at peak mealtimes, though, the Flushing crowds continue to barrel their way to the lobster tray with the aggression of soccer hooligans.

After a rather lackluster buffet experience at Mohegan Sun just last weekend, I wasn’t really in the mood for another gorgefest. But when we found ourselves in Long Island this afternoon – a mere six days after Fathers Day – a trip to Harvest Buffet in Great Neck seemed a foregone conclusion.

Harvest Buffet

The quantity and variety of food on display is pretty staggering: standard Chinese, Korean, and Japanese dishes, ranging from typical Americanized fare to jellyfish salad and peking duck – yum! (The banner outside also touts French cuisine; I’m not so sure.  French fries, maybe.)  The constant stream of diners makes for rapid turnover – especially among higher ticket items like the sushi/sashimi and giant Alaska Snow crab legs – ensuring that most of the food is pretty fresh.

The key to a pleasant buffet experience – during and, more importantly, afterwards – is not to eat as if you were competing with your fellow diners: stuffing your face, Joey Chestnut-style. [Prior to this year’s Mustard Belt face-off, this analogy would have read: Takeru Kobayashi-style.] There is a difference, after all, between ”all you can  eat” and ”all you should  eat.”

That difference, however, is usually obliterated by the dessert table, with its limitless supply of soft serve ice creams, cookies and pastries, mango puddings, sweet rice dumplings, tong shui and bubble teas.

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