Category: Friends

Buddha’s delight

Thursday, February 21st, 2008 | All Things, Eats, Friends

Since that first visit in January, we’ve been averaging a trip to Amazing 66 on Mott Street every couple of weeks.  At the restaurant this Thursday afternoon, we had the serendipity to stumble upon the high-powered board meeting of new Asian American literary journal Kartika Review, i.e., our friends RL and SL. If there is any better way to conduct business than over a whole Peking duck, I do not know it.

We joined them and their fellow editor DW at a large round table, where their meal was already in progress.

Peking duck

Although the trio did generously offer to share with us some of their delicious-looking duck, I stayed strictly vegetarian with my #62 lunch special: Vermicelli with Buddha’s Delight.

As the name suggests, this dish is enjoyed traditionally by Buddhist monks, most of whom maintain vegetarian diets. (Buddhism’s Five Precepts prohibit killing, stealing, committing sexual misconduct, engaging in false speech and taking intoxicants, to avoid accumulating negative karma.)

Buddha’s delight

This slow-braised dish usually consists of a fairly long list of ingredients, cooked in a soy sauce-based liquid with other seasonings until tender. The specific items used vary greatly both in and outside Asia, and often carry some auspicious significance: black moss (fat choy) is a homonym for prosperity (as in “Gung Hay Fat Choy); ginkgo biloba nuts (bak ko) mimic silver ingots and therefore also bring good fortune; fried tofu and beancurd sticks (foo jook) represent blessings to the house; bamboo piths (jook tseng), wood ear fungus (ha mok yi) and mung-bean threads (fun see) symbolize long life.

No animals were harmed in the making of this delight.

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Back to the ‘roots

Friday, February 15th, 2008 | All Things, Drinks, Friends

At Grassroots Tavern tonight for SYB’s birthday celebration. CF and I headed to the East Village straight from the office and were among the first to arrive. Eventually, though, the revelers would total over 40 – all there to toast the man of the hour.

Grassroots Tavern is, not to mince words, a dive — “the only honest dive on one of Manhattan’s most gimmicky streets,” according to Time Out. Located in the basement of the landmarked Daniel LeRoy House, the bar has been around in its current incarnation since the mid-1970s, though its history as a drinking den dates to the 1940s. Cheap booze, low lighting, tin-pressed ceilings, battered wooden tables, dartboards (BYOD, though), an actual phonebooth by the front door and scary bathrooms…. the unpretentious vibe is a main reason that in 2007, Grassroots Tavern was named one of the 100 best bars in America by Esquire. There’s even a resident dog and cat prowling the grounds usually, though I didn’t see them tonight.

Worlds collided over mugs of beer, which was a fine thing… for the most part. And here, pitchers start at $9 – Bud, but still! – a price point rapidly going the way of the Noo Yawk accent. We sprung for the somewhat more upmarket Brooklyn Lager: it was a special occasion after all.

Grassroots Tavern

$1 baskets of popcorn were not going to tide us through this night. We weren’t nearly inebriated/college-aged enough for Mamoun’s next door, and the neighborhood’s tiny ramen joints probably wouldn’t accommodate our group of seven for dinner. We opted in the end to keep things simple by merely crossing St. Mark’s to Je’Bon — a newish noodle shop with a Thai, Japanese, Indonesian, Malaysian, and Cantonese menu. Usually I find such culinary schizophrenia suspicious, but the hour was late, and we were starving, so I was willing to make an exception here. And maybe it was the hunger, but my Pad Thai with Mixed Vegetable was surprisingly decent, and at just under $9, a bargain. I’ll remember this place for the next time I “trek through the tacky.”

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Second snow

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008 | All Things, Friends

The swirl of snow that descended upon us a couple of days ago blew in fast, but left hardly a trace in the streets. On the way home from the office this evening, I took a photo of our first significant snowfall of the year— the first in the city since December 16.

A few hours later, all of this would be washed away by the wintry mix that followed.

First snow

Later that night, we gathered over take-out Tebaya at SC’s home. Oh, how we love those Japanese chicken wings! But alas: just potemochi for me… and crackers spread generously with triple crème brie and Cambozola™ (the delightful blend of French Camembert and Italian Gorgonzola), which our hostess was considerate enough to pick up out of deference to Lenten diet.

40 days until Easter…

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