Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Franks, Dim Sum, and Bran

Living in New York City allows for a variety of cuisine that I never could have imagined growing up in the suburbs. While my mother was an adventurous cook, my family wasn’t always helpful in fostering creativity. My sister didn’t like any protein that hadn’t clucked in a previous life, and my brother was always trying to get french fries—baked, fried, frozen, you name it—onto the table. My dad was slightly better, although he refused to try any kind of Mexican or South Western fare until about ten years ago, despite law school in Southern California and children that ate tacos regularly.

Flash forward 10 years and I can spend my weekend ricocheting between Russian fruit carts in Brighton Beach and sipping bubble tea in the winding alleys of Chinatown like it’s no big deal. I don't know if I'll ever get sick of the sheer amount of culture, activity, and cuisines New York City's accumulated in its small corner of the world. And you know what makes all of this even better? The appearance of a convertible on a sunny Saturday afternoon that wants to drive you someplace awesome.

Thus, with a sweet ride and the wind in my hair,  I found myself looking out at the Ocean Parkway storefronts and wondering what it took for a plumber to qualify as kosher. (When I googled the question later, I was largely thwarted by people using the term figuratively, i.e. “Do these tiles seem kosher, bro?”, but it seems that the issue presents itself around where you clean your dishes.) Eventually, we arrived at Coney Island, an iconic summertime destination. We appreciated the Cyclone and beach-bathers from a safe distance, and headed over to Nathan’s. Just like that, we left Little Russia behind and were back in America.
Sunday it was off to Chinatown for Dim Sum, which meant Manhattan and a subway line recently fumigated by the MTA, two obstacles that would typically keep me borough-based all weekend. Still, this brunch would mean I could claim visits to (Little) Russia and China(town) all in one weekend, and wouldn’t that be nice to write about.

After some wandering of the un-gridded streets of lower Manhattan, the  four of us found our way to Nom Wah Tea Parlor, a small restaurant tucked away on Doyers Street. I would highly recommend you visit if you’re in town, but be smart about it:

-Try to stick to four people or less if you’re going at a peak time of the week/day. Anything more and you’ll be waiting forever in a crowd of people holding raffle tickets with arbitrary numbers on them that may or may not be called.
-Order more dumplings than you think you need. They’re soup-filled moments of joy.
-Go ahead and share everything. The menu is huge and sampling  things you can’t even imagine the taste of will make you feel adventurous.
-Relax! According to my friends who have visited multiple times, you can order until you’re stuffed and the bill will still always manage to hover around ten dollars.

Hot dogs and dim sum were both hugely successful, but at this point the weekend and it was time to think about the work week. At this point, all my meals had felt really representative of the time they’d been consumed. Saturday: Nathan’s! Sunday: Tea Parlor. It was time to think work week. There was only one thing left to do for Monday.

Bran muffins. (Trust me, they’re healthy and delicious. Not to mention movers and shakers, if you catch my drift.) This recipe that Deb Perelman of the Smitten Kitchen posted recently is from one of my favorite bakeries in New York, Blue Sky Bakery in Park Slope. Quick tip: I recommend tightly packing the brown sugar as opposed to loosely, and using at least a cup of fruit, if not more.

And with the replacement of ketchup and mustard for bran, it's the end of fine New York City weekend

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