return from poor health

I’ve been under the weather this week.

my week
You might think that would have given me plenty of time to update my blog, but all I had the energy to do was lounge on the couch and work my way through the third season of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (thanks for the DVDs, brother!), the fourth season of Skins, and my DVR queue. I’m kind of television-ed out right now.

Don’t feel too sorry for me, though, as my week-long confinement on the couch is pretty much all my fault. I knew that I was feeling a little rundown last week (as indicated by my prophesying right tonsil), and I still went out for Cuban food and sangrias with my girlfriends on Thursday night, went out for Ethiopian on Friday night with Marc, met my girlfriends again (plus a special guest appearance from an out-of-town girlfriend) for dinner and drinks on Saturday night, and went to a Superbowl party on Sunday, where I compounded matters by snuggling with a cat.

Clifford watches the Superbowl Could you say no to this face?

In any event, I am feeling much improved! Hooray! I even left the apartment last night. We took a nice, brisk walk over to the Cobble Hill Cinemas for their cheap Thursday night tickets, and we saw The King’s Speech, which I highly recommend.

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9 Chatham Square is back!

Excellent news! 9 Chatham Square, our favorite dim sum place, is back in business!

image credit: Dennis L. on Yelp

Last summer, we tried to pay a visit to 9 Chatham Square and found it closed. A helpful woman translated the sign for us, and she reported that they had lost their lease. Over the next several months, we noticed activity inside the closed storefront. Work permits appeared in the windows, but they weren’t terribly helpful, since 9 Chatham Square was not only the name of the original restaurant but its address. We kept an eye on the situation, and, two weekends ago, we discovered that they had reopened!

We had just finished having lunch, so we weren’t in the market for dim sum, but we did pop in and verify that it was, in fact, the same restaurant. It is! It has the same menu and the same dirt-cheap prices. We eagerly came back this past weekend to check it out. I kept trying to determine what had been changed during their hiatus, but I couldn’t come up with anything. Everything looked the same, if only a little shinier.

I’m happy to have it back!

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dumplings!

We discovered a new (to us) dumpling place this weekend!  Vanessa’s Dumpling House on the Lower East Side has dirtcheap and delicious food.  We spent $10 total last night and had dinner for both us and lunch today!

We sampled vegetarian dumpling soup, vegetarian steamed buns, pork and chive fried dumplings, and a roast pork sesame pancake sandwich.

dumpling soup, image credit: Gina N. on Yelp

My Yelp review, which is linked to above:

I was shocked by how much food we got for so little money.  I ordered veggie soup dumplings and a steamed veggie bun, and I had to bring most of the soup home.  It was so good, though!  We left already planning our return trip.

It’s a little snug in there, and we didn’t have anywhere to sit, but one of the ladies cleared a spot on the counter for us, which was nice.  We decided to stay there even when a table opened up because we were enjoying watching the dumplings be made.

My only real problem with the meal was that I accidentally ate some paper on my steamed bun (ew!), but I kind of figure that’s my fault.

But don’t just take my word for it … Read More:
The Best $1 Foods [New York Magazine]
☆ Dumplings and Sesame Pancake Sandwiches [Serious Eats]

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Do This: Dim Sum in Flushing

On Sunday, we finally got around to doing one of the things we’ve been talking about since I moved to New York: have dim sum in Flushing.

I’ll give you the bad news first.  It’s not easy to get to Flushing.  Flushing is way up there.  We took a tri-borough route, heading into Manhattan to transfer to the 7 at Times Square.  (If we had wanted to go directly from Brooklyn, we would have had to rely on the G, which is a dicey proposition.)  Our trip there was fairly quick, as the track work made our 7 train run express. The train made all its normal local stops on the way back, however, and it was a long ride home.

that’s Flushing up there with the A

Your travel will take you at least an hour each way, so make sure you have enough time to allocate to a dim sum adventure in Flushing.  If you have the time, it’s definitely worth it.

We went to Jade Asian Restaurant.  Like so many of the big dim sum places down in Chinatown, it’s a huge space.  Unlike those places, though, it’s not dripping with opulent glitz.  It’s almost minimalist decor and huge picture window make dim sum a brighter, sunnier affair.

image from Cassy S. on Yelp

Food comes quickly at Jade; we had barely taken off our coats and we had a pile of baskets on our table, with more servers pushing their wares.  There’s also a huge variety of dim sum, and it was all very good.  The food seemed to all be very good quality (nothing is worse than gritty shrimp), and it was all flavorful. It was also all very pretty; this was no slapdash operation with poorly constructed dumplings.  I can’t remember everything we had, but my favorites were the steamed barbecue pork buns.  It’s not a terribly original favorite, I know, but I always really like those things, and these ones were very good.  Also, on recommendation of a commenter on another of my posts about dim sum, I tried the turnip cake, and I really liked it.

barbecue pork bun image from Lily Z. on Yelp

Read More:

☆  A Taste of Jade [Gothamist]
☆  Dim Sum at Jade Asian Restaurant [Serious Eats]
☆  Jade Asian Restaurant and Caterer [Yelp]
☆  Jade Asian Restaurant: Flushing, New York [food enthusiast] –> This guy is a random I found using Google, but he has a picture and description of the durian pastries, which I kept seeing and wondered about.

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vegetarian dim sum!

I had never really eaten dim sum before I moved to New York. We had gone to a dim sum restaurant when we were in Hong Kong in 2007, but I was still a vegetarian then. Dim sum contains a lot of pork and seafood; there was very little that I would eat at that time. Now that I eat meat and live a short subway ride away from Chinatown, we have dim sum on a semi-frequent basis.

The most iconic of the Chinatown dim sum places are the palatial ones with neverending escalators and ostentatious chandeliers. At those, you sit at a large round table with other patrons and snag the dim sum as it passes by on the carts. Some, like Jing Fong, also have buffet tables.

Our favorite dim sum place was 9 Chatham Square. It was little more than a hole in the wall, and it was always crowded, but the dim sum was delicious and cheap. We were crushed this summer when we discovered that it was closed. The woman who translated the “lost our lease” sign for us recommended we try Chatham Square Restaurant next door. The atmosphere was a bit glitzier, but it was still a small establishment. The food was almost as good, but it was slightly more expensive. We mourned the loss of our favorite place.

On Saturday, we decided to try something completely new: vegetarian dim sum. We went to Buddha Bodai and were seated immediately. The dim sum there was made-to-order, and we realized that we didn’t know what most of our favorites were called. We finally just selected a few things that sounded good. We had two types of dumplings: “shrimp” and bamboo. Both were tasty, although the rice paper seemed awfully thick and they could have benefited from a dipping sauce. We also had the mixed mushroom congee, which was thick and warming. My favorite was item was the baked “meat” buns, which I thought were indistinguishable from actual meat buns. In fact, the only way I could tell a difference was that there weren’t any bits of gross fat inside. Win! Marc lamented the missing pork in our dim sum, but it was fun to have a (healthier) change.

After we left, we discovered something wonderful: work permits had appeared in the window of 9 Chatham Square! They referenced both the restaurant and “renovations” – could our favorite dim sum restaurant be opening again? Fingers are crossed!


photo credits: Jing Fong interior by Ginn C. on Yelp, “shrimp” dumplings at Buddha Bodai by Judy. K on Yelp
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rewind, part 5

After this rewind post, I’ll be caught up! Yay!

Marc’s parents visited us last weekend. Although the forecast kept threatening rain, it was a beautiful weekend in New York and a great time for them to visit. They arrived in town Thursday evening, and we all had dinner at Black Iris, a neighborhood favorite of ours. We figured you can’t go wrong with BYO Middle Eastern.

We started Friday off with a trip to Murray’s Bagels, which both Marc and I have been craving for a while. We finished off Friday with a show. We saw The Pitman Painters, which we all really enjoyed. We hunted unsuccessfully for post-theatre dinner for a while before finally eating off the late-night menu at The Redhead.

Saturday was gorgeous, so we wanted to spend it outdoors. We got our usual weekend banh mi and then headed up to Central Park. We wandered around for a while and spent some time watching the Central Park Dance Skaters, which were immensely entertaining. We then moved on to stroll down the High Line. The High Line is my favorite spot in the city for watching the sunset. We tried to visit a German bar in the neighborhood, but after the incompetence and rudeness of the staff while we were waiting for a table, we left and headed back to Brooklyn to visit our favorite German bar. We eventually made our way over to Grimaldi’s.


giant sandwich at the Flea

I made some sad French toast for everyone on Sunday morning,1 and then we adventured around Brooklyn. We took his parents to the Brooklyn Flea, and we discovered a new (or at least new to us) farmers market on Atlantic. (I got some wonderfully addictive curried cashews there!) We brunched (again) at Cubana Cafe, and got Marc’s parents to help us with our grocery shopping. Marc’s dad made dinner for us that night, and we spent a relaxing evening at home.

On Monday, we rented a car and drove upstate to look for fall. We only had to cross the George Washington Bridge into New Jersey before we found breathtaking beauty! Our trip was definitely a success. We saw lots of beautiful foliage and we acquired two lovely pumpkins. We also made a stop at Stew Leonard’s, a grocery store which Marc apparently had learned about in college. We discovered the usefulness of Google maps on my phone when trying to drive back into the city to get me back in time for my fiction class.


New Jersey fall

Marc’s parents left on Tuesday. I’m so glad that the weather held while they were visiting; since then, it’s been overcast and generally dreary. It was nice to be able to do outdoors things with them! It was, of course, also nice to see them!


1 Do not attempt to make French toast with the egg whites that come in a container. They are way too liquidy, and your French toast will be ugly. It might taste fine, but no one likes ugly French toast. Please learn from my mistake.

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rewind, part 1

I’m back from Chicago, and it’s time to rewind and review all the stuff that’s been happening lately. I had three major events: law school friends visiting, my brother visiting, and a close friend’s wedding. Part 1 of the rewind covers my law school friends’ trip to New York.

In law school, I had a close group of girlfriends. There were eight of us, and we have adopted another friend into our group post-law school. Three of us now live in New York, four still live in Chicago, one lives in Virginia, and one lives in Colorado. Two of the Chicago girls came, and the girls from Virginia and Colorado came with their boyfriends.

Marc and I hosted our friend Liz and her boyfriend Matt, and they arrived Friday morning on the red eye. After they were settled in here in Brooklyn, Ali met us at my apartment and we headed out together for dim sum.


We went to Jing Fong, one of the big dim sum places in Chinatown. It was kind of bizarre to be there early on a weekday and see the massive space so empty, but it definitely had its benefits. We got first pick of all the food that came out, and dishes are half-off during the week. Our only disappointment was that we didn’t get any red bean buns, but we remedied that by visiting a Chinese bakery on our way to the train, where we got the most decadent (and delicious) red bean buns I have ever had.

I walked Liz and Matt around the city later that afternoon, after they had a chance to rest from their early flight. We grabbed drinks at both The Stoned Crow (which I love) and 1849 (which I do NOT).

It was Matt’s birthday, and he had wanted to see the Upright Citizen’s Brigade, but, sadly, tickets were sold out. We decided instead to see The Harvard Sailing Team at The Peoples Improv Theater. I wasn’t that impressed, but I might be ruined by Second City’s improv, which I think is really good. Anyway, it’s well-reviewed, so don’t not go see them because I felt kind of meh about the show.

We met up with some of the others and finished off our night with pizza. We met up with everyone for more pizza (and pasta and salad) the next night. We had found it nearly impossible to find a location in New York where we could have the number of people we were expecting without shelling out a lot of cash, so Ali and Kyle graciously hosted us in their apartment. We ordered in the aforementioned Italian food, and we all brought bottles of wine. Eventually, we moved the party to Brooklyn and hung out at Der Schwarze Kölner, where I discovered the soft pretzels with Nutella dip, a dangerously delicious combination.

The occupants (and guests) of our apartment had brunch in Brooklyn on Sunday morning. (Brunch is the best meal of the week, after all.) We tried Cubana Cafe, which we had eaten dinner at before but never brunch. The brunch was a hit, and we discovered that they serve lattes and cappuccinos made with coconut milk.

Liz and Matt left us later that afternoon, and my brother arrived … which I’ll tell you about in the next part of the rewind!

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quick weekend post

We had an action-packed weekend! Here’s the summary:

On Friday, we had dinner at one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants, Black Iris, a BYO Middle Eastern place. We love going there because we almost never have to wait for a seat, and the food is so good – and reasonably healthful. We then met some friends at Der Schwarze Kölner, a low-key German beer “garden” with these awesomely huge windows.

On Saturday, I managed to snag the last loaf of my favorite cinnamon-raisin swirl bread from Meredith’s Bread at the Greenmarket. I would have been so despondent if they had been out when I got there! I promptly turned some of the bread into wonderfully indulgent French toast. Yum!

We spent our afternoon at Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden – more on that later! We had dinner with friends at Stir It Up, another BYO restaurant in Brooklyn, this one of the Caribbean variety. It was our first time at that place, and it was so delicious. (I got a kick out of the menu describing my shrimp as arriving “on a bevy of vegetables.”) We finished up the night at Woodwork, a bar in Prospect Heights.

On Sunday, the weather was overcast and threatening, but we nevertheless headed out to Williamsburg – grabbing some banh mi on the way – to meet some friends for a show at the Williamsburg Waterfront. The rain managed to hold off for a while, but eventually it made the event unenjoyable. We had been huddle under the Vitamin Water tent for a while when we realized we should just move on. We went to a bar, and we played some pool. (Sidenote: I am abysmal at pool.) We wrapped up our weekend at home with plates of pasta and The Hurt Locker, which is an excellent movie if you haven’t seen it.

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the remainder of the weekend

The remainder of my weekend (the part that was not having drinks on the roof of the Met) was a bit less classy. (How can you beat sipping martinis on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, though?)

I had Mexican food both Friday and Saturday nights, had some drinks with friends and engaged in a few rounds of Big Buck Hunter (my hunting skills are not improving), cheered on Spain to victory in the World Cup (and then saw many a riotously happy Spaniard around town, whooping in the West Village or running through Union Square), ate some yummy free ice cream, and concluded the weekend by sitting in Union Square, eating take-out Korean (yum, kimchi!) and getting bug bites on my feet.


free chocolate cherry ice cream!

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summertime and the living’s easy

The temperature has sky-rocketed again, and there’s no rain in sight to break the humidity. Despite the melting heat, we had a fun busy yet lazy weekend.

We had a low-key dinner on Friday night at a Tibetan restaurant in the East Village called Tsampa. We chose it because we wanted healthy food and it was the healthiest place we could find still serving dinner at 10:00 pm. Our food was delicious (and just the light and fresh entrees that we wanted), but there was an incredibly raucous (read: very, very drunk) party in the restaurant, and the acoustics were such that their hollers and shrieks echoed and bounced all around the room. I had a headache by the time we left. It’s a restaurant that I would try again – but maybe at an earlier hour.

On Saturday, we met friends at Lunasa to watch the USA-Ghana game. Sadly, that didn’t turn out how we hoped. We bopped around the East Village fairly aimlessly for a while. At Doc Holliday’s, this fun divey bar with boots on the ceiling, Amy and I tried our hand at Big Buck Hunter. I don’t think we’re cut out to be huntresses: I’m not sure we managed to shoot a single giraffe or rhino (it was the safari edition!) between us.

On Sunday, we tagged along to a great barbecue with some friends. The host has a balcony that overlooks Fifth Avenue, so we had an incredible view of the Pride Parade. He also has a legitimate grill, so we had all manners of grilled items, including grilled corn and black bean burgers. (I also had my first black and white cookie!) I managed to remember my camera, and it was a beautiful (although steamy!) day, so enjoy the pictures!


It’s amazing how much more attention you get from the parade when you have a flag!


The parade comes down the street!


Note the colorful parade dog!


The quality of this photo is terrible, but that’s Scary Spice!


I made a new friend! His name was Chili, and he loves belly rubs.

There are a few more pics on Flickr, if you’re so inclined.

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