Last weekend began my spring season of local wandering. Almost a year after starting this blog as part of a food blogging class with Steven Shaw (see the link to the International Culinary Center Foodblogging class on the right), I accompanied Steven and members of his 2010 class (as well as my former classmate, Ana from Hungry Sofia) on an outing. That day and today could not have been any different – one is not necessarily better than the other, the beauty is in the difference. I’m quite fortunate to be able to enjoy both.
Cold and rainy – not necessarily an ideal day of wandering New York City, but we were on a mission. The other Chinatown: Flushing, Queens. I’ve never been there before and it has been on my “to do” list for a couple years now. No better time than the present! It also helped that Steven knew the lay of the land and was willing to take on the responsibility of fearless tour guide.
I met up with the 10 other brave souls at the Flushing Main Street station of the 7 train. Our mission: to taste our way through as much of the neighborhood as we could in 3-4 hours. We did a pretty amazing job of it – as if there was ever any doubt! It was quite an adventure, yet we only barely scratched the surface. This place will require several more tasting trips to fit it all in.
We began with spicy lamb and chicken skewers grilled curbside on the corner of Main and 41st Avenue (at the intersection of Kissema). Ten of us huddled against a wall to stay out-of-the-way of the throngs of Sunday shoppers, eagerly awaiting the bouquet of smokey, juicy meat on sticks that Steven would soon present us with. Suggestion: if you do this, bring your own napkins (as we did), you will need them!
Next we moved on to a tiny dumpling shop on 41st Street just off Main (next to the place with the big rice bowl on the roof). The humongous steamed buns were fantastic – especially with a squirt of Siracha. The fried dumplings were so juicy we quickly ran out of those napkins mentioned earlier. We enjoyed all of this while hovering around a pay phone that served as our table!
From there, we walked off the onset of pork-induced coma, scouted out a few very interesting places to visit on future trips including a place called the Golden Mall that is anything but. However, the food in there looked and smelled amazing even though it is doubtful that the county health department has ever made a visit. (I’ll still take my chances).
Last major stop, and site of the majority of our carnage, was the Flushing Mall. Again, not exactly a mall, though it was strangely like a mall food court if your mall food court was in Hong Kong and the fast food counters sold chicken feet and pigs ears while making all the noodles by hand while you wait. We had some great dishes and some not-so-great dishes, and yes, we did indeed taste the cold chicken feet (not good) and pigs ears (pretty good).
We topped it all off with a mango ice sundae and some strange little cream-filled cakes that resembled Twinkies (a machine cranks them out on a cart in the middle of the mall). After a brief stop for bubble teas, we made our way back to the subway for the long ride home. Full, happy, and exhausted! For more on this trip, read Ana’s version on Hungry Sofia.
Sunny and warm – perfect day for wandering Park Slope. Where last week was a day of group activities and adventurous eating, today was a day of relaxed solitude and taking care of myself. First, a visit to the neighborhood organic cafe, S’Nice, for a vegan sesame “chicken” wrap and Thai salad with an iced green tea sweetened with agave nectar. It felt even more healthy since I was able to enjoy it sitting outside at a picnic table under budding trees in the bright sunshine.
I continued on to my favorite sunny day writing spot, the Brooklyn library, where I soaked up more sun on the front terrace. All along the route, the neighborhood was bustling with smiling people, happy to be enjoying the first day of spring… free of winter coats and rain boots for the time being. Another beautiful day in the neighborhood!