Monday, November 28, 2011

Thankful (Marea)

Spaghetti - Fresh-Cut Seminola Pasta, Crab, Santa Barbara Sea Urchin, Basil

Thanksgiving is a time of reflection and appreciation. With the current state of the world -- political unrest, economic instability, etc. -- I am thankful for a bunch of things. I'm thankful for having such a loving and supportive family. I'm thankful for my awesome friends. I'm thankful for my health, happiness, and overall well-being. And, despite all of my bitching and moaning, I'm thankful for the opportunity to attend medical school and to ultimately have the honor of becoming a physician. As the preclinical part of the curriculum winds down, I am experiencing a mixture of excitement and anxiety over the prospect of hitting the wards for clerkships -- excitement because I'll be doing a lot more "doctoring" rather than sitting through lectures, anxiety because I feel unprepared and am scared of screwing up big-time. To the best of my knowledge, killing a patient during clerkships isn't something that residency programs are looking for. Amid all of this upcoming change, one small fact hasn't been lost on me -- namely, the fact that I will no longer be able to take advantage of the fantastic lunch prix fixe deals offered at restaurants throughout the city.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Goodbye, Paris (Le Comptoir du Relais)

Croque Monsieur

Okay, so I'm finally writing about my last meal in Paris from this summer. After spending the better part of the morning and early afternoon at the Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, and Sacré Coeur, I wanted to squeeze in one last proper meal in Paris before boarding my train back to the UK. However, finding a restaurant to eat at on a summer Sunday afternoon is actually quite difficult. Many restaurants -- and other businesses, too, for that matter -- are closed on Sundays. Add to that the fact that many businesses close for several weeks at the end of July and August, and you end up with very few restaurants open for business to many summertime tourists. Passing many shuttered restaurants and cafés, I wandered around a bit aimlessly until I stumbled upon Le Comptoir du Relais, a bustling place that I remembered reading about during the time I was planning out my trip to Paris. Deciding not to chance finding another open restaurant, I opted to eat here in spite of the rather intimidating all-French menu.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Pain (Xi'an Famous Foods)

Liang Pi Cold Skin Noodles

Coach Boone: What is pain?

The above, of course, is from the movie Remember the Titans, which is one of my favorite movies. To the five people out there who actually read my blog, forgive me for my lack of content over the past couple of weeks. I've had a lot going on these past couple of weeks, and right now, I'm gouging my eyes out studying for a monstrous 132-question neurology exam on Monday. I found it amusing that some of the lecture topics -- most notably, sleep disorders and pain -- are particularly salient in the lives of medical students.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Taking Pictures of Food - Yay or Nay? (Café Constant)

Foie Gras

It's nearing the end of October, and I still haven't even finished writing about my visit to Paris from the end of July. I'm such a terrible blogger; no wonder why nobody reads my blog. But anyway, continuing on with the recap of my three-day foodfest in Paris, I visited Café Constant for dinner on a Saturday evening. I had actually wanted to eat at Chez l'Ami Jean, but they were full, so I resorted to my backup plan just a couple of blocks away. As the restaurant is very close to the Eiffel Tower, there were a ton of places catering to tourists in the neighborhood. While Café Constant -- with its English-speaking staff and English menus --  is quite obviously one of the restaurants in the area catering to tourists, the quality of its food makes it clear that it is anything but your typical tourist trap.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Taking the Plunge (Christophe)

Veal Brains with Polenta

When I was a kid, I was a notoriously picky eater. As I've already established, sushi wasn't something I had any interest in trying. Tripe, duck feet, tofu, and some other mainstays of Chinese cooking? Nope, I turned those down, too. But while these foods are, admittedly, a bit on the adventurous side, my pickiness wasn't restricted to just the likes of raw fish and intestines. Even the simplest and most basic of foods -- tomatoes, eggs, ice cream (I used to say that ice cream was "too cold" -- yeah, I have no idea what I was thinking, either) -- were rejected by my ten-year-old palate. Fast forward to the present, and thankfully, my tastes have changed. I have become much more open-minded about trying new foods and am no longer squeamish of unfamiliar foods. Kidneys, tripe, gizzards, and bone marrow are just a couple of the foods that, twelve years ago, I wouldn't have wanted anything to do with. But now, when I see something like veal brains show up on a menu, I am not only intrigued, but I'm ballsy enough to order it.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Baseball and Doughnuts (Doughnut Plant)

Oatmeal Doughnut

While the end of September means that the days are getting depressingly shorter and the weather is becoming ever cooler, there is one thing that is actually great about this time of year: the start of the MLB playoffs. While my Mariners haven't made the playoffs since 2001 and came no closer to making it this year thanks to an epic 17 game losing streak, playoff baseball still gets me excited in a way that no other sport can. And with the dramatic and absolutely improbable way that the regular season ended, I think that the playoffs will be just as exhilarating and fun to watch.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Dining Alone in Paris (La Régalade Saint-Honoré)

Margret de canard épais rôti sur la peau, petites pommes de terres rôties au jus de viande  

During my summer abroad, I experienced solo travel for the first time. It took me a little getting used to traveling alone, but I eventually learned to really embrace the freedom that it gave me. I could go wherever and do whatever I wanted, stay at sites for however long I desired, and move around from place to place much quicker than if I were traveling in a group, thereby allowing me to see and do more. But one rather large downside to traveling alone is that it also means dining alone. While dining alone in places like Edinburgh and Cardiff didn't bother me at all, the combination of the language barrier and the fact that Paris is full of lovey-dovey couples everywhere you look made solo dining in Paris much more awkward and uncomfortable. My dinner at Le Chateaubriand the previous night did nothing to alleviate my unease, as my table was a bit isolated from most of the other tables, making me feel all the more lonely and friendless, not to mention that a two hour-long dinner by yourself is the nadir of loneliness. *cue Akon's Lonely* For my second dinner in Paris, I visited La Régalade Saint-Honoré, and while the food itself was pretty incredible, the distinctly Parisian experience of conversing with your fellow diners made this meal one of my most enjoyable.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years Later (Motorino)

Soppressata Piccante

Today marks the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Just as Pearl Harbor and JFK's assassination became the defining moments of their respective eras, 9/11 and the war on terror have came to define my generation. In the ten years since, we have fought in two wars, experienced a global recession, and seen the Red Sox put an end to the Curse of the Bambino -- all things that we could not have foreseen happening on September 10, 2001 (Red Sox joke -- zing!). Like most Americans, I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news on that fateful day (second period Health class with Mr. Cangelosi). As I grew up in the north Jersey suburbs a mere fifteen miles from Ground Zero, the attacks were especially devastating, as pretty much everyone in town knew someone or had a friend who knew someone that perished in the World Trade Center. From the depths of tragedy and despair, however, hope and unity emerged. Following the tragedy, our country became more united than ever before. We were all New Yorkers; we were all Americans. And in this glorious city of ours, few foods are more iconic or more representative of it than pizza.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Rankings Are Kinda Worthless (Le Chateaubriand)

Tuna, Mushrooms, and Herbs

People love to rank things, so we tend to make ranked lists for just about anything we can. Specifically, lists that give the "10 best ___" or "25 must-try ___" are made for everything from medical schools (US News Report) and high school football teams (MaxPreps) to things as trivial as New York City bành mî sandwiches (Serious Eats). Placing things in order and being able to determine at a glance whether one thing is better than another are probably the most attractive aspects of creating ranking systems. However, ranking systems have limitations -- namely, it's pretty tough to come up with a means of classifying whether #1 is better than #2, whether #2 is better than #3, and so on. US News Report uses some complex formula that factors in objective data, like graduation and retention rates, but also includes entirely subjective criteria, such as peer assessment and prestige. Subjectivity, an inherent characteristic of these types of listings, takes on an even greater role when talking about something as open to personal preference as food, but that doesn't stop people from also trying to rank the world's best restaurants.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Me, Some Lobster Rolls, and Irene (Luke's Lobster)

Lobster Rolls

I've been back in classes for just one week so far, and yet summer feels like it happened so long ago. Just a couple of weeks ago, I was walking through the streets of Paris under bright skies, eating pastries and veal brains, and just basically having a great time. Fast forward to the present, and now I'm dissecting a human brain, preparing for a hurricane in New York City of all places, and already looking forward to a vacation. While Irene has forced the shutdown of the MTA, the postponement of the Saturday and Sunday Braves-Mets games, and the evacuation of tens of thousands of NYC residents from flood zones, there was a silver lining to all of the chaos and mayhem wrought by the hurricane before it even arrived: discounted lobster rolls at Luke's Lobster. $10 lobster rolls? In the words of the immortal Austin Powers: Yeah, babyyyy! 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Why the French Don't Suck: Patisseries, Bakeries, and Boulangeries

The two things I did a lot of in Paris: sightseeing and eating pastries

In the first episode of No Reservations, Anthony Bourdain set out to prove his thesis of "why the French don't suck." In support of Bourdain's thesis, one need look no further than the myriad patisseries, bakeries, and boulangeries dispersed all throughout the City of Light. While most people generally associate the French with fine dining and opulent, grandiose cuisine, my short stay in Paris has led me to believe that perhaps what sets the French apart from the rest of the world is not in their fine dining and skill in preparing "regular food" (read: food that you would eat for a meal) but rather in their ability to bake breads and pastries. During a whirlwind three-day trip to Paris last weekend where each day began by 7:00 am and lasted until well past 1:00 am, I still found the time to fit in stops at several of Paris' finest patisseries, bakeries, and boulangeries to sample some of the best breads, vienoinoiseries, and pastries that I have ever eaten. What follows is an overview of the places that I went to in my quest to sample some of the best Paris has to offer and to ingest enough butter in three days to necessitate an angioplasty.

Friday, August 5, 2011

First Impressions Are Everything (The Prince of Wales)

Welsh Rarebit

Whether it's a job interview or a first date, the first impression that you leave on a person tends to stick and, for better or worse, is very difficult to change later on. If I meet someone for the first time and they're picking their nose or smelling like they've been living in a dumpster, then my initial impression -- that that person has no regards for personal hygiene -- is likely to remain in the back of my mind, regardless of whether or not that individual really does exhibit such poor hygiene all of the time. For all I know, maybe they were just scratching the side of their nose, a la "the pick," and maybe they smelled because they had just come back from the gym. Too late, my mind will always think back to that one time where they smelled like ass and had their finger all wedged up their left nostril.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Roasted Animals Are Tasty (Oink)

Pulled Pork Sandwich

I was in Edinburgh more than two weeks ago, and I have since visited Cardiff and Paris, so this post is more than a bit overdue. Now I know what other bloggers mean when they say they've fallen behind on their posts. Anywho, as I was wandering the streets of Edinburgh in search of a quick lunch near the castle, I came across Oink. First off, what a great name. Seriously, Oink? Add to that the fact that the storefront is accented with a flamboyant shade of hot pink, and you've caught my attention from afar. But wait, it gets better. As I approached the storefront, I was greeted by the sight of a whole-roasted pig, head and all, staring back at me through the window. Sure, I loved Babe just as much as the next child, but any time a roasted animal is presented to me, any affectionate childhood memories I may have had are pushed to the backburner.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Awesome Swedish Baked Goods, No Assembly Required (Peter's Yard Coffee House and Bakery)

Cardamom Bun

My knowledge of Sweden is very limited. Off the top of my head, the only things that I think of that are related to Sweden are Ikea, Swedish meatballs, Swedish fish, and Peter Forsberg, and the first two are inextricably linked anyway. So as you can see, I'm not very familiar with Sweden, or any of the other Scandinavian countries for that matter. When I learned of Peter's Yard, a well-regarded Swedish bakery mini-chain that has a location in Edinburgh, the first two questions that popped into my head were 1) what constitutes Swedish baked goods? and 2) would there be any assembly required? I was intrigued enough to pursue this further.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

If Something's Worth Eating, It's Worth Eating Well (The Tailend Restaurant and Fish Bar)

Fried Haddock and Chips

Growing up, my dad loved to refer to adages and proverbs. Whether it was to teach a lesson, get a message across, or just to express his inner Confucius, most of these phrases have become seared in my memory. I cannot count the number of times he's told me that "there's no such thing as a free lunch." (Consequently, I always made an effort to point out to him the times when I really did get a free lunch). And one of his all-time favorites is "fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me." While I tended to just roll my eyes whenever I heard him spout off another one of these sayings, there was one adage in particular that has had a lasting impact. Another one of his favorites, "If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing well," is a phrase which has become a part of me and has helped to shape and define the person I am today. It has become ingrained in my personality that giving anything less than my best effort and striving for anything less than my best -- whether I am studying for an exam, practicing for my baseball team, or even something as trivial as scrubbing the toilet -- is unacceptable. To this day, I still scrub that toilet seat my damn hardest and make it the absolute cleanest that I can. If the Mariners are going to collapse this season and lose a bunch of games, then they better go all the way and run off a record-setting losing streak. Lose big or go home, that's how I feel. I mean, really, if they had gone 2-14 or 3-13 over the last 16 games, they would still suck, but they would have just been another bad team losing a bunch of games. So if you're going to lose, you might as well go all the way and do it right by losing 16 in a row

Friday, July 22, 2011

Distractions from the Mariners' Suckfest (Castle Terrace)

Pithivier of braised rabbit from Roxburghshire, served with peas and carrots

At the beginning of the 2011 season, the Mariners were the consensus pick to finish last in the AL West. Coming off of a disastrous 2010 season that began with playoff aspirations but instead ended with a 61-101 record, the franchise was in complete disarray, as evidenced by Sleepgate and the Josh Leuke fiasco. So when the Mariners spent a good chunk of the first half of the season playing competitive baseball and hanging within striking distance of first place in the division, Mariners fans were pleasantly surprised at the quick turnaround. And when the Mariners were only a 1/2 game out of first place in the middle of June, and when they were only 2 1/2 games out as recently as July 7th, there was hope. Playoff aspirations didn't seem quite so far-fetched anymore. Of course, the Mariners then proceeded to shatter all of our hopes and dreams of a playoff run by losing 12 (and counting) in a row over the past two weeks. All of the hope and positive outlook that the first half of the season had brought has dissipated, replaced with the oh-so-familiar angst, frustration, and despair that comes with rooting for a perennially flailing franchise. To quote Jim Mora: "Playoffs?!? Don't talk about playoffs! You  kidding me?!? Playofs?! I just hope we can win a game."

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Art of the Prix Fixe (L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon)

Razor clams fricassee with confit tomatoes, sweet onion, and macaroni

With NYC's Restaurant Week in full swing, I can't help but feel a twinge of regret at not being able to partake in the promotion (Restaurant Week is such a misnomer when it lasts for two weeks). But after thinking about it a little bit, Restaurant Week really isn't that great. Many restaurants in NYC that participate in Restaurant Week offer cheap dishes (chicken, hanger steak, ice cream) not normally found on their regular menus while cramming additional tables into their dining rooms. All of this detracts from the dining experience and means that the few restaurants that are actually worth going to -- The Modern and Maialino, for instance, reportedly have very good menus -- are going to be fully booked. Fortunately, many restaurants in NYC these days are offering year-round prix fixe menus, allowing diners the option of enjoying nice meals consisting of dishes that are actually off of the regular menu at top restaurants without breaking the bank. My lunches at Del Posto, Bouley, Aldea, and 15 East are some of the most memorable meals I've enjoyed, and all were reasonably priced. Always in search of a good prix fixe menu, I was looking up restaurants in London when I came across the lunch prix fixe offered at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon. Color me intrigued.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Trendy Eating Doesn't Have to be Offal: Head-to-Tail Eating (St. John)

Roast Bone Marrow & Parsley Salad

Trends come and go. Like the changing of the seasons, trends arrive on the scene, linger for a while, and then slowly fade away, giving way to a new trend. Just like a child with ADD who is preoccupied with a shiny new toy only until a different and even shinier toy catches their eye, Americans are always on the look-out for the next trend to take the country by storm. Hipster-dom, social media, and reality television are just some of the latest cultural trends to sweep our nation. Similarly, trends and fads can be seen in the domain of food. For a while, you couldn't go a month without hearing about a new cupcake shop opening up, and gourmet burgers made with "custom blends" of meat, a la Pat LaFrieda or any other specialty butcher, have also become quite popular. A culinary fad that has developed, albeit with less widespread fanfare but with perhaps just as much strength, is the consumption of offal and other organ meat, a.k.a. "head-to-tail" eating. These days, it seems like more and more restaurants are serving up sweetbreads, bone marrow, or kidneys to increasingly discriminating and sophisticated customers. Personally, I think people are trying out these new foods simply because it is fashionable and a sign of sophistication and social status if one can say that they have eaten veal sweetbreads or tripe, but that's just me being cynical, and the fact of the matter is that offal dishes are becoming increasingly more mainstream and evoking less disgust-tinged reactions (ewww you ate calf brains?!) from the general public. And among restaurants focusing on this area of cuisine, St. John is one of the preeminent restaurants in the world leading this culinary trend.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Macaron All-Star (Pierre Hermé)

In case you couldn't tell what these were, I've got a brochure above the box to help you out

Earlier this week, the MLB All-Star Game was played at Arizona's Chase Field. Generally speaking, I am not terribly interested in watching any major sport's all-star game, even though the outcome of the MLB All-Star Game is actually very important because Bud Selig thought that it would be a great idea to award home-field advantage in the World Series based on the outcome of an exhibition game (to make the game mean something!). Right, but despite its warts and flaws, the MLB All-Star Game is head and shoulders better than any of the other major sports'. The Pro Bowl? What makes football such a great sport is the players' intensity and energy, neither of which are on display at the Pro Bowl, where hits are weak and defenses seem to only be concerned with what night club they'll be going to later. The NBA All-Star Game? Non-existent defense and lackadaisical play make this game a snoozer. I don't want to see a score on every possession, damnit. The NHL, though, may be on to something with the way they structured this year's all-star game with two captains selecting teams in a mock draft. Interesting, but I still prefer baseball over hockey. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Masterful Fish and Chips (Masters Super Fish)

Fried Cod and Chips

As a newbie traveler, I am seeing for the first time just how much work and preparation goes into planning out a trip. Especially since I am traveling solo, preparation and planning are key to ensure that I maximize my time spent in a city while minimizing the amount of time spent waiting on lines or wandering about hopelessly lost. I found Traveladvisor particularly useful, as it guided me in my decision-making process of which sites to head to first (get to the Tower of London when it opens and see the Crown Jewels as soon as you enter to beat the lines) and what time to arrive at certain sites (get to Buckingham Palace more than an hour before the 11:30 start time of the Changing of the Guard if you want to get a good view at the palace gates). Similarly, Chowhound is my go-to resource for learning about which restaurants and dining establishments are worth trying out. Travelers commonly ask for restaurant suggestions and recommendations with the caveat that they want to go to "where the locals eat." In researching which London restaurants serve the best fish and chips, one name that kept coming up as a place frequented by cabbies and locals alike was Masters Super Fish. With a name like that, I knew that I just had to check it out, and in the end, I was really glad that I did. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My Introduction to European Patisseries (Paul)

Beignet Chocolat

While breakfast breads in the United States tend to consist of bagels, muffins, and English muffins, Europeans tend to go for croissants and other viennoiseries. Although I generally associate these types of baked goods with France, patisseries and bakeries are abundant even in the UK, and nearly every café, grocery store, and cafeteria offers a variety of croissants and other buttery baked goods. What's great is that even in the UK, great patisseries can be found which produce pastries far superior to almost anything I've had in the US. While the US has the market on bagels cornered, Europe is the standard bearer for viennoiseries, and after trying out Paul, a French patisserie and bakery chain with a ton of locations scattered throughout the world, I have to say that I am extremely jealous of Londoners for their ease of access to such great pastries. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

'C' is for 'Cookie,' That's Good Enough for Me (Levain Bakery)

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookie

Cookies hold a very special place in my heart, as I'm sure they do for many other people. For as long as I can remember, cookies have been one of my favorite foods, dating back to when Cookie Monster was my favorite Sesame Street character because he, too, loved cookies. Childhood memories of baking chocolate chip cookies with my mom, going to a nearby bakery for their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle-shaped cookies, and licking off the cream filling from my Oreos that were packed with my lunch are something that I will forever remember, so the humble cookie has quite a bit of nostalgic value to me. But of course, cookies these days are no longer quite so simple and humble, as evidenced by the proliferation of, er, non-traditional cookies. While I'm all for innovation and different flavor combinations, there's something to be said for traditional, old-school flavors done well. Enter: Levain Bakery. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

When in Rome...(Luke's Traditional Fish & Chips)

Fried Haddock and Chips

Living in a foreign country is a true learning experience in that you are immersed among a people and within a culture differing from your own. Such an instance provides a great opportunity to learn about how others talk, behave, and live. In the three short weeks since my arrival here in England, I have already found myself asking some questions with an English inflection (rising pitch towards the end of the question) and using their exclamations and phrases, i.e. cheers, bloody, bullocks (okay, I'm not British enough to be using bullocks just yet, but you get my point). To gain a full appreciation for the culture here in England, I must also, of course, delve into their cuisine. Quick, what's the first food that comes to mind if we're talking about England? Setting aside treacle tart, trifle, crumpets, and all of the other foods that you picked up from reading Harry Potter, I'll bet that one of the first things that you thought of is fish and chips. And so upon arrival in England, one of the first things I sought out was a good fry shop. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Merits of Authenticity (Ken's Asian Taste)

Sliced Beef with Chinese Broccoli

The question of what constitutes "authentic" Chinese cuisine is something that actually makes me pause for a second. This might seem strange since, after all, I am Chinese. But as my friend Nicholas noted in this post, our determinations of what is or is not "authentic" ethnic cuisine often comes from people of said ethnicity. Of course, this comes with the stipulation that the person whose opinion is being sought has a proper grasp of authentic cuisine, but then what becomes of individuals who were born in a country different from their ethnic background? I bring this up not because I'm bored and have too much time on my hands (which I probably do anyway during the summer), but because, as a person of Chinese descent who was born in the US and has only gone to Hong Kong once in my life, my idea of what is "authentic" Cantonese cuisine is pretty much based on what I ate as a child at home and at Chinese restaurants that my family would go to. What if the only Chinese food I ate growing up was egg foo young, chicken and broccoli and mushu pork? Then my concept of "authentic" Chinese food would likely include these dishes because 1) I wouldn't know any better, and 2) I had never been to Hong Kong and seen that these dishes aren’t served there. So isn't my judgment of what is and isn't "authentic" Chinese food just as dependent on others’ concepts of authenticity as, say, my white friend who asks me for a restaurant recommendation to an "authentic" Cantonese restaurant in Chinatown

Thursday, June 30, 2011

England - Where Cows Go Mad (Houston's)

Hickory Burger

Spending a semester studying abroad had always been one of the things I wish I had gotten the chance to do. I'm not quite sure what appeals so much to me about studying abroad; maybe it's because I've only traveled out of the country once in my life, and that was to Hong Kong way back when I was in high school (I don't count Canada as a different country; they are more like a wannabe-version of the US). I also like seeing new places and trying out new things, so I guess that's part of the appeal as well. However, my four years in college never afforded me the opportunity to go abroad for a semester. My first two years as an undergraduate were in Rutgers' School of Pharmacy, but because these "pre-professional" years are so intensive (they cram in General Biology, General Chemistry, Physics, Organic Chemistry, Calculus, etc. into four semesters), students aren't allowed to study abroad. And after I came to my senses and realized that I would die of boredom as a pharmacist, I transferred to Penn for my junior and senior years, but a graduation requirement was spending at least four full semesters on campus, so again, I couldn't leave campus.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Butter and Pastries (Balthazar Bakery)

Maple-Walnut Schnecken

It may be hard to believe, but I'm going to say it: I don't really like the taste of butter. I can't really explain why I don't really like the taste of butter, but that's just the way I am. Maybe it's the greasiness and sheer heaviness that is seemingly inevitably associated with butter, but then again, I like fried foods. Or perhaps I've been scarred by my childhood, when my dad supposedly made me peanut butter and butter sandwiches for lunch every day during kindergarten. Somewhere, Paula Deen is smiling at the thought of that. Don't get me wrong, I love cookies, brownies, cakes, etc. just as much as the next person, but butter is not the dominant taste in these foods, whereas spreading a pat of butter onto, say, a piece of toast or a stack of pancakes is done to inject a heaping flavor of butter into a food. No thanks. My dislike for anything with a strong butter flavor is likely the reason why I grew up with an aversion for croissants, though to be fair, I probably never had a decent croissant in my life. Up until now, that is. After trying out some of the pastries from Balthazar Bakery, I think I am ready to accept more butter into my life than ever before.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Muddled Thoughts and Food (The Counter)

2/3-lb Burger with Gruyere, Grilled Onions, Grilled Pineapple, Roasted Red Peppers, and Roasted Green Chiles

Having just completed my first year of medical school, I am honestly quite shocked at how much material was crammed into me over the course of the past ten months. It is such a grind, and course units chock full of facts and information are taught in such a rapid-fire manner, that material learned in one unit is quickly forgotten mere days after the exam as new information is pushed in on a completely different topic. Seriously, sitting here right now just five days since my exam on the gastrointestinal system, I can say that I probably forgot at least 50% of what I had learned about pancreatic cancer, hepatitis, etc. during the course of the last two weeks. And let's not even mention all of the stuff that was taught back in September and October; I remember very few of the facts pounded into me from the first couple months of medical school, especially since I find learning about protein configurations, cellular transport mechanisms, etc. as interesting as watching paint dry. With so much information crammed into the school year, it's almost inevitable that all of the topics kind of became muddled and the facts got lost, confused with one another, or just straight-up forgotten about.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

High-End Sushi (15 East)

Assorted Sushi

When I was a kid, there was a cartoon called Doug, and in one episode, Doug's grandmother takes him out to eat sushi for the first time. At first, Doug is pretty resistant to the idea of eating raw fish, falsely believing that raw fish equates to live fish. He eventually gets over his fear of sushi and ends up really liking it. Likewise, I did not try sushi until I was in high school because, up until then, I was grossed out by the prospect of eating something that was raw. Since then, though, sushi has become one of my favorite foods, and I think I've been trying my best to make up for the lost years by going for all-you-can-eat sushi as often as possible. Now, I know that many sushi snobs aficionados will say that sushi is not meant to be eaten in an AYCE format and that such sushi is terrible quality. While I will agree that there are some dud AYCE sushi joints serving up old fish with poor-quality rice, the good AYCE places are a godsend for poor college kids like me - $21.95 for as much sushi as I want at my favorite neighborhood joint, Yuka. Sure, it's not premium quality, but it's very good and definitely gets the job done when I get a craving. Contrast that to how much it would cost to fill me up eating a la carte or doing an omasake at a nice Japanese restaurant, and you can see how AYCE sushi just makes so much more sense for someone like me. To me, the difference in quality is more than made up for by the substantial difference in price.