We are in the midst of a thoroughly January state of affairs: We got home on New Year’s Eve from our trip to see B2’s parents in Honolulu, where I was lazier, more relaxed, and more rested than a parent with a toddler has any right to be (God bless grandmas), and in the midst of our post-Hawaii gloom, were all promptly felled by the Great California Flu of 2018. Well, more accurately, I was felled by the Great California Flu of 2018, B2 was mildly sick, and B3 was sick for exactly one night before bouncing back to his same exuberant self, charging around the house while casting me mystified looks and wondering why his mom was being such a baby.
The day we visited Macau was a rainy one. We splashed around from Senado Square to the Ruins of St. Paul, hunted down Margaret’s Cafe e Nata for caramelized, blistered Portuguese egg tarts only to discover to my utter dismay that it was closed on Wednesdays, and eventually ended up, soggy-toed, in the Venetian Macau, which I suspected meant we were doing Macau wrong but at least meant that (1) we were nice and dry and (2) I got my Portuguese egg tart fix after all at a Lord Stow’s Bakery.
As some of you might know, especially if you’re as avid of a reader of her blog as I am, the wonderful Lindsey Love behind Dolly and Oatmeal is expecting a baby boy any day now! Since the first time I stumbled across her space, Lindsey has amazed me, not only because of her delicious recipes and her impeccable aesthetic, but because she brings such a calm, lovely spirit to everything she does — the sense of peace and light that comes through in her blog is exactly the way she is in person, and it’s the kind of aura that makes you want to be around someone, because you come away feeling happier and better yourself. For that reason, it’s been especially wonderful following her blog through this exciting new phase of life — she brings that same peaceful spirit to an experience that can be a whirlwind of so many emotions, in a way that continually inspires.
Dear diary. Dear everyone. On Sunday, I had my very first cup of coffee in four months. !!! To be fair, I think it was about two tablespoons of coffee in a cup of milk and a boatload of sugar, so it tasted more like melted coffee ice cream than coffee, but I’m going to say it counts. It was the most exciting moment of my Sunday. Or July. I never ever imagined I’d stop drinking coffee while pregnant — instead, I was terrified of going without it, and I’m pretty sure I looked up that “one-cup-a-day” rule way before B3 was a figment of our imagination (and maybe even before B2 was a figment of mine). I was holding onto that rule with both hands and feet and entire being all the way up until one day around week 6, when I woke up and coffee suddenly and inexplicably smelled like the worst thing in the world. Such woe. But somehow this weekend, after four months of matcha (which was, granted, far from the worst), I opened up the coffee tin and thought mm instead of oh no get this noxious tub of poison away from me, and B2 had to listen to me chant “look at me, I’m drinking coffee!” as I sipped a tiny melted-ice-cream for the rest of the morning. It was an excellent Sunday.
The thing about alfredo that plagues me is the same thing that might be said about cacio e pepe, or macaroni & cheese, or carbonara — they’re dishes that I adore with all my soul, all cheesy, carb-y deliciousness, but that I eat woefully infrequently, because I somehow always talk myself into something with a little more greenery or a little more protein (and then I wish I went for the alfredo). Imagine my delight when a recipe came into my life that offered both the satisfaction and bliss of a rich alfredo and the substance of a more protein-packed alternative — instead of cream and cheese, it turns out that soaked cashews (protein!) and chickpea flour (more protein!) can combine with a little nutritional yeast, garlic, and salt and pepper to form, pretty simply, magic. A chickpea alfredo is practically no-cook and all-blender, comes together in a matter of minutes, but is silky-smooth, every bit as creamy as a traditional alfredo, yet simultaneously lighter and more filling. Add in a little watercress and chives for brightness, and even B2, who usually has eyes only for pizza, was so into this rendition of a restaurant classic. Who knew?
Oh man, it’s been not-enough-hours-in-the-day days around here lately. Most of the time it is safe to ignore me when I say that because I spend about half my waking hours huffing to B2 about the “million things I have to do” and then the other half of those hours on the couch doing zero of those things until it is too late to do them, but for once, it actually has been a little nonstop from one thing to the next. One of them is a very good one, though, and it’s that one of my good friends, source of indispensable life advice, and surrogate jie jie has been in town with her new (!) and awesome fiancé! They’ve been staying with us and I couldn’t be happier about it. I’m convinced that having house guests is one of my favorite ways to see friends. I get to feel like a real grown-up person when I put out “guest linens” and coffee accoutrements “in case you want to make some in the morning” (even if I have a couch instead of a guest bedroom and I forget to put out that cone that goes in the Hario so actually you cannot make some in the morning, oops), and it fits right in with my lazy-homebody agenda (see, e.g., dinner parties) because when things get hectic for them or me, there’s still always time before bed to sit and chat in pajamas and eat cookies even though you already brushed your teeth.
I’ve written a lot about how much I love the food in Hong Kong. I’ll probably write more even after this. I’m a food-oriented person to begin with (I know, shocker) and the places I’ve been and the memories I have are, a lot of times, defined by the things I ate and savored and enjoyed in any one place at any one time. But all that said, Hong Kong might still be the greatest food city I’ve ever been to.
The first real meal I had in Hong Kong was courtesy of my cousin, who is lucky enough to call HK home and to whom I owe about 85% of my HK food journey. He took me to a traditional Cantonese restaurant, the sort with the ubiquitous Lazy Susan crowded with small plates and bamboo baskets, and the first dish he ordered was, fittingly, a plate of the most perfect char siu, lacquered ruby red and glistening, sliced into pieces with the fat and lean distributed just so. I’m pretty sure from that first bite (or, that first plate, since I think I single-handedly ate all of it) I didn’t have a bad meal for the entire four months I was there. Chewy, crumbly pineapple cakes from Kee Wah, nibbled in their plastic jackets on an open-air walkway from Central to Sheung Wan; fish ball skewers in electric yellow curry on a narrow street in Causeway Bay; “quicksand” lau sa bao filled with molten egg custard at a dim sum joint that opened at 3 AM for the late night crowd. Creamy yuan yang and silky-soft scrambled eggs on toast at Australia Dairy Company. A mountain of ground pork with a single salted duck yolk perched exactly on top, the most umami-filled dish I’ve ever had, ordered for me in fluid Cantonese by a friend and shared under fluorescent lighting in a hole-in-the-wall on a balmy fall night. I used to take the bus to a random neighborhood and just wander, window-shopping food things, until I found something I wanted to eat, and from the KFC egg tarts to the best, penthouse restaurant hairy crab, it was all some of the best food I’ve ever had.
Hi friends! How was your weekend? We spent a fun one down in North Carolina at the wedding of one of Bowl #2’s college friends. This might just be me and the fact that I haven’t gone to that many yet, but I feel like I love weddings more and more with every one I go to, even when I’m a plus-one and I’ve never met the bride and groom. (But also there’s a 20% chance you’ll find me crying in my office to YouTube highlight reels of strangers’ weddings on any given afternoon. Just so you know what kind of constitution you’re dealing with.)
So I’m pretty sure I never really knew what horchata was for the longest time. It was just a drink that sounded vaguely delicious and that I suspected I was missing out on until I got distracted five seconds later. And then I came across these these dreamy cinnamon horchata popsicles last summer, I finally sat down and read Jonathan’s beguiling words about it — and it suddenly became one of those things that sounded so crazy delicious and ambrosial that I wondered what I was doing with my life that I hadn’t had it yet. If you’re vague on it like I was, it turns out horchata is a sweet, creamy drink made from (among other variations, depending on where it’s from) rice, almonds, and cinnamon, served chilled and over ice. The soaked rice and almonds produce a richly milky, opaque sip of heaven that’s still completely dairy-free, and with a touch of heat from the cinnamon, it’s kind of the only thing I want to drink all summer long.
We’re back! As of an hour ago, Bowl #2 and I are back in our Brooklyn nook, a little tanner, a lot rounder, kind of sleepy, and trying to remember what it’s like to be hungry.
Before I go nap off our red-eye, I just wanted to drop in a little hello and a note that I have a guest post up this morning on With Food + Love! Sherrie’s blog is a gorgeous and inspiring take on vegetarian, gluten-free eating, and I’m so excited and honored to be able to contribute something today (especially as a gluten-ful omnivore!)
When it comes to tofu, I’m generally not persuaded by it unless it’s the chewy dried version that crops up in stirfries and savory braised meat dishes (or, if my dad is involved, eaten plain out of the package). But when Bowl #2’s mother introduced me to this banchan last fall – incidentally, on our last trip to visit his family almost exactly a year ago – I was totally smitten, even despite my textural bias. The tofu is pressed with paper towels to remove moisture, then briefly panfried to add a touch of crisp, and finished by braising in an intensely flavored soy sauce and sesame oil mixture, punctuated by bright scallions, garlic, and a touch of red pepper. It’s vegan, and if you use tamari, gluten-free – more importantly, it’s just really good. Hop on over to Sherrie’s blog for the recipe!
And now it’s time for a nap! Hope you’re all having lovely Wednesdays!