Archive for the ‘*Kayoko’ Category

Biggie Ate Sardines Too

April 9, 2008

Born sinner, the opposite of a winner
Remember when I used to eat sardines for dinner
Juicy, Notorious B.I.G.

Canned fish is really bizarre concept and I understand how people are weirded out by it. But seriously, I have an obsession with it. It tastes good, it’s good FOR you, and it’s so cheap.

Vinka, who works in our finance department always brings this awesome can of sardines that she opens during lunch to add to her salads and what-nots. I was always curious cause I never branched out into the world of canned sardines, and I would always ask her about it. The other week she brought one in for me! Yes, everyone at work supports my eating habits.

It’s packed in vegetable oil, and is from the Adriatic Sea, said the label.

So here’s what I did- I broiled asparagus, boiled potatoes, made a dressing of the fish oil left in the can with mustard and balsamic vinegar, sprinkled parsley, green onions, ground pepper and fleur de sel on top. Et voile! You got yourself a fast, vitamin-packed, cheap-o after work dinner, with enough left over for lunch the next day. Genius.

A boiled egg would have also been good, as would have some sliced red onions for color.

For an added crunch, I’m pretty into these fried onion pieces from Trader Joe’s.

Thank you Vinka for introducing me to the world of canned sardines!

In the words of Biggie, “It’s all good, baby bay-bee!”

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UM Redux: Shanghai Cafe (NYC)

April 8, 2008

This post is dedicated to Tmonkey and Wong Kar-Wai.

Went to see my acupuncturist the other day in Chinatown. Dr. Wu is a miracle maker, truly, and I send everyone to him for their ailments. Migraines, bad shoulders, allergies, bad knees, insomnia– whatever you’ve got, he’ll fix it, for real.

While pinning needles into my back, he told me I think too much and I eat too much. Perhaps he’s somewhat of a prophet? Dr. Wu multi-tasks: he’s not just a certified acupuncturist, but also my therapist and nutritionist.

So what do you do when the prophet tells you you eat too much? Well, go eat, of course. As a Dr. Wu visit ritual of sorts, I walked two streets over to one of my absolute favorite restaurant in NYC. Remember Tmonkey’s awesome video from last year? He wasn’t lying, this place is THE BEST for soup dumplings.


Check out this awesome lighting! As Tmonkey said, this place has a very 2046 vibe. When I come here, I like to pretend I am Zhang Ziyi on a hot date with Tony. I won’t let you break up with me, Tony!
As soon as you sit down, order the #1 on the menu- the tiny steamed buns with crab and pork. It takes some time for these to steam, so better to order them right away to avoid drooling all over the dumplings on the table next to you. Trust me on this.
What makes these superior to other soup dumplings in the city (Grand Sichuan, Joe’s Shanghai) is that the crab does not dry out, which leaves you with a hot hot bite of fluffy, moist goodness.
Make sure to get the Shanghai Lo Mein– saucy udon-like pan fried noodles. Another favorite. I get it with shrimp and mixed meats.
Not on the menu- sauteed pea shoots. Kinda expensive at $15, but if you’re there with a few people, it’s worth it.
Our spread. For all this- 2 trays of dumplings, noodles and the pea-shoots, it was $30 maybe? They have all sorts of other Shanghainese goodies on the menu, but I usually just gorge on the soup dumplings.

Ladies making the dumplings.

Dumplings steaming behind the counter.

Is that Tony?

Shanghai Cafe
100 Mott Street
B
twn. Canal & Hester Streets
New York, NY
T:212.966.3988

Blood Oranges Improve Quality of Life

April 7, 2008

There was a point last week when I realized that I had been out EVERY SINGLE NIGHT for 10 days straight- mostly past midnight. This means I ate out, didn’t get enough sleep, was hungover or overdosed on coffee, which resulted in bitchy, near-nervous-breakdown behavior everyday.

This sort of crazed single lifestyle (never quite “swinging” however) also means an empty refrigerator. No joke, my fridge contained only eggs and half & half for 3 weeks. It was totally depressing.

I’ve had an epiphany of sorts. I need to improve my quality of life. It’s shit right now.

So this weekend I stayed home. I watched 5 movies for work, screened my phone calls, baked bread again, and vacuumed (er, swiffered). I went out just once to pick up my dry cleaning (I had dropped it off a month ago), go to the farmer’s market and finally bought light bulbs (nothing more depressing than a half-lit apartment). It was a weekend of personal cleansing and serious down time.

Aside from a well-lit apartment and bread baking, quality of life also means squeezing your own oranges. I’ve had this awesome vintage juice squeezer that I bought in college, that has been collecting dust since moving to NY. Blood orange season started a few months ago, and I would just pass them by at the market. It was time.

They are a little pricey, I got 5 for $2, which is on the cheap side. But they are gorgeous!

From Cali. HOLLA!
Def bloody.

My juicer! It’s Umami Mart green, and I’ve had him for 8 years. I’m sorry I neglected him for so long.
3 oranges yields only this much juice, but is a good amount for me. Blood oranges are significantly sweeter, with a tart finish.

What does one do with the rind? It was so sad to just throw these out.
Blood oranges remind me of Italy. I remember buying them at the market when I lived there and squeezing them every morning. Happy memories. They even sell blood orange juice in the grocery stores there- Matt was obsessed with this stuff when we went in October. Yes, he even took this picture.

There’s something so gratifying about squeezing your own oranges rather than pouring it from a carton though. It’s a soul-pleaser. Blood orange season is going to end at any moment now, but I’m determined to always have oranges in my fridge now to remind me to stop, slow down, squeeze, and enjoy life a little more. OMG that is so cheesy.

umamichatter: Rose Water Restaurant (NYC)

April 3, 2008

Larry works in publishing, and has lived in Park Slope in Brooklyn for the last few years. Had I known him back when I lived in the Slop (as I call it), I may have not moved out.

Ok no, I still would have. You see, the Slop, at least 7th Ave, is now barfbag yuppie central- lots of stroller rage, desolate by 10pm (except for the bars overcrowded with people who play professional frisbee), lots of brunch spots. You know what I’m talking about. Fucking brunch! Don’t even get me started.

But I will say that the Slop probably has one of the better, more quality restaurant communities in the city. Blue Ribbon, Al Di La, Flatbush Farm, blah blah.

Last week, Larry went to Rose Water on Union Street. Here’s his evaluation. Sorry, no pictures. Yes, Larry’s real name is “Lawrence”- Larry lives below 5th Ave, which makes him Marginal Slop Fringe, and much cooler in my eyes. Love ya, Lar.

Lawrence: i ate at rose water in park slope for restaurant week

me: oh wow i haven’t heard of that
how was it
what kind of food?
11:40 PM Lawrence: new american
the appetizers and the entree were okay.
but i was really wowed by the dessert
11:41 PM me: oh tell me more
what did you order
11:42 PM Lawrence: i just started with a salad.
me: go on
11:43 PM Lawrence: just a sec. i should look up the menu for a refresher.
me: ha
ok
i like your style
11:45 PM Lawrence: ok. i started with the market baby greens and herbs.
11:46 PM boring, right? but i just came from the gym and was feeling like starting off light.
me: ha
it’s ok
i feel you
11:47 PM then whaddya get
Lawrence: then i got the “roast chicken under a brick”
me: wow lar, sounds kinda boring
how was it?
11:48 PM under a brick???
Lawrence: ha!
me: what does that even MEAN?
Lawrence: i think that it gets roasted with a brick on top of it.
11:49 PM me: oh, ok, that sounds kinda neat
what did it taste like though
Lawrence: it was pretty good.
11:50 PM me: was it marinated?
sauce?
Lawrence: it was spiced up. i was like a fancier version of the rotisserie chicken you get at the supermarket.
11:51 PM me: hm yeah
Lawrence: there were turnips and onions involved.
me: typical restaurant chicken
nicely cooked?
i feel like restaurants never get vegetables right
at least roasted ones
Lawrence: it was. the meat was pretty tender and flavorful.
me: good good
11:52 PM ok now dessert
Lawrence: for dessert, i had the caramelized brioche.
11:53 PM it was really tasty.
me: i hope that came with ice cream?
Lawrence: yes, caramel ice cream.
me: ooooh
nice
flaky?
11:54 PM Lawrence: it was nice and flaky on the inside and but was all sugary and gooey on the outside.
me: droool
another thing that places don’t do right
pastries
Lawrence: i normally don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but i really enjoyed it
me: nice you found a good one
11:55 PM Lawrence: i also tried my friends cornmeal apricot cookie sandwiches for dessert
11:56 PM me: dude that sounds AWESOME
how was that?
Lawrence: i think i enjoyed that just as much
11:57 PM fresh apricots squeezed between two homemade cookies
me: OMG
with ice cream?
Lawrence: served with almond milk for dipping.
me: JESUS LORD
11:58 PM that sounds so great
apricots are totally my favorite
Lawrence: you would really love it then
me: apricots, apricot jam, dried apricots
poached apricots, apricot yogurt
11:59 PM but apricots stuffed in a cookie with dipping sauce?
dude i am so there.
ok now
interior? service?
12:00 AM Lawrence: the decor was nice. they’re going for the cottagey look, i think.
12:01 AM me: ah
Lawrence: it’s not a very big space, but i felt very comfortable.
me: the fucking cottagey look!
applewood, gramercy tavern…
Lawrence: i know — so typical park slope
me: for the love of god!
ha
Lawrence: we had very good service as well.
me: total after tip?
12:02 AM Lawrence: well, since it was restaurant week the prix fixe was $23
plus $8 for my share of the wine
12:03 AM plus tip comes to $38
me: for a bite of the apricot cookie
so worth it

Thanks for a great report Larry! Make sure to check out Larry’s website, The Larry Page, where he obsessively orders and reorders his top 100 films and albums of all time. The lists are dizzyingly comprehensive- but the boy has good taste (Prince is a Gold Inductee in The Larry Page Hall of Fame!)

Rose Water Restaurant
787 Union Street

Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY
T: 718.783.3800

I Baked Bread, So Don’t Break Up!

March 31, 2008


When the routine bites hard
/ And ambitions are low
And the resentment rides high
/ But emotions won’t grow
And we’re changing our ways/ Taking different roads
Then love, love will tear us apart again
– Joy Division

Recently, a few of my closest friends have been going through devastating breakups- couples who have been together for 3 years, 5 years, 7 YEARS.

Why the sudden onslaught of break-ups? Let me tell you: it’s March.

March is a shameless adulteress who cheats on Winter with Spring. March makes promises of Spring, but refuses to abandon Winter entirely. This leaves people anxious, restless, sick of being housebound. While they wait around for warm weather, they begin pondering profound subjects such as their “lives”, “meaning”, and “existence”. The first thing to go is always the relationship.

Oh, I know all about the heartbreaks that March brings. Rewind to 2005. He threw an outrageous tantrum, paced back and forth in my living room for 2 hours, gave me back my keys, and slammed the front door. I watched the whole scene from the couch. Yes, it was a mess. Yes, we broke up- for real this time. Yes, it was in March.

Breaking up blows. Can I get an AMEN?

So to celebrate the final days of this miserable month, and to somehow spiritually reach out to all those in tragic break-up mode, I baked bread with Stacy and Amy this weekend. (Stacy just got married. Amy is a Serial Craig’s List Dater. I rush home on Friday nights to watch LOST by myself).

Can you imagine me, Kayoko– the clumsiest, most impatient anti-baker ever– baking bread? It’s unheard of, I know, but it was glorious!

Baking bread must be the most loving form of food creating- you must nurture it, let it grow, play with it, and keep a close eye on it, in order for it to reach its full potential. I LOVED this entire process- it is super easy, economical, and you feel like you are a part of a secret society (Amy: “People have been baking bread for thousands of years!”).

We baked three types of bread (links to recipes): the ever-magical “No-Knead Bread” from Bittman and the Sullivan Street Bakery, Focaccia from Delicious Days, and two loaves of Honey Wheat from All Recipes. You need to let the first two rise for at least 12 hours.

Here are the ingredients for all 3 recipes. This is it!Yeast before:
Yeast after- check out that head!:
Here is an easy to follow Bittman video for the No-Knead Bread that you should watch before starting. Bittman is the messiah.

Preparations for the No-Knead and focaccia:

19 hours later- It has RISEN! This is the No-Knead:

Throw No-Knead dough in a hot cast iron pot:
Almost there- about 40 minutes into it. We needed to constantly check on it:

It’s done! What a beauty- I would say that it took about 70 minutes for this to thoroughly finish. You need to keep tapping the top until you get a hollow sound at all angles. This was perfect- just shy of being burnt, golden crust, spongy inside- PERFECT:
Focaccia- also need to let this dough rise overnight. It didn’t rise as much as we wanted, but it was fine. We added roasted zucchini, peppers, and fresh rosemary on top. Genius! It was delicious:

Honey-wheat. This did not need to rise overnight. Next time, we will grease the measuring cup before pouring in the honey:

Kneading with love. Stacy said it felt like a baby. It did! Had this supple, bouncy flesh-like feel. This may have been the funnest part, the kneading, pulling and pounding. Tip: let dough rise in warmer-than-room temperature, Amy said. So close the doors and windows.

This recipe makes so much dough!
Buttering the top:
Almost done:
I had to leave before the honey-wheat came out, which was sad. But Stacy sent me these pictures. Look at these- they could be entered into pageants!
We all agreed that the No-Knead loaf was better than anything you could buy in the city (I’m sorry, but I shouldn’t have to trek into Soho for a baguette from Balthazar). As Amy said, it was elastic, spongy. It had depth. The crust was perfectly done- crunchy, hard, but not burnt. Ideal sandwich bread.

The focaccia was also awesome- not too greasy, just nicely coated with olive oil. I highly recommend adding the peppers- it adds some acidity, which balances out the oil.

About the honey-wheat, Stacy said: “Texture is rich and soft. Sweet in the best way!!” Sorry to miss it.

Baking bread was actually one of my 2008 resolutions. It was one of those daunting tasks that I had been fearing- it seems like such a pain in the ass! But I’ve learned that all you need is a little bit of time, and willingness to nurture it for an afternoon. It’s that simple. You too can be a part of this secret society.

A word to the wise: next time you want to break-up with your partners, bake bread together. I think it might help. No talking, just kneading. Or No-Kneading. This should inevitably lead to hot, passionate sex on the kitchen floor. YESSS!

Starting tomorrow, break-ups should officially be put on hold until March 2009.

LOVE happenings to look forward to in April:
– Wong Kar Wai’s My Blueberry Nights is released in the US
– After a 11 year “break-up”, Portishead’s new album Third officially comes out
– New episodes of LOST (Desmond and Penny!)
– Tulips! (my favorite, hint hint)
– My BIRTHDAY!!! Let’s all make out!

In 2 of the 5 above films, the doomed couples do not get back together in the end. The first three people to email me which films wins a prize! Email answers to umamimart@gmail.com

Film montage starting at top: © United Artists; © Focus Features; © Golden Harvest Co.; © New Line Cinema; © 20th Century Fox.

Fridgin’ Out: The Work Fridge

March 28, 2008

This post is dedicated to MelRoach. We miss you!

The Work Fridge tends to be a little scary, no matter where you work. You may have the most respectable colleagues, toiling away in spotless, clutter-free work spaces, but when you look inside the Work Fridge, all hell breaks loose. If you work in an office, you know what I’m talking about.

Let’s take a look- continue reading at your own discretion. I hope this isn’t breaking any code of conduct labor laws. Photos taken by me, and Yamahomo’s iPhone. Yes, we work together. Yes, he’s just as outrageous in the work place.

FYI, there are about 70 people who work at our glorious non-profit cultural institution (read: we all MUST pack a lunch, because we cannot afford to go out).


They are actually pretty strict about the Friday by 5pm rule. Our guys will throw your shit out mercilessly if you don’t claim it.

Funny cartoon:
Freezer:
Lots of different types of tea. They say that the leaves stay fresher in the freezer. Has that been scientifically proven?

Frozen meals:
Ice cream:
Nuking fries is just plain wrong.
“I’ll have the alfalfa sprouts, and a plate of mashed yeast.”
– Alvie Singer, Annie Hall
Cold compress- inappropriate:
Fridge door:
I’m finding that the fridge door is the most fascinating place in the fridge. People really love their weirdo condiments!

The fridge:
So scared to look inside:
This is healthy and wallet-friendly: just buy ingredients for a salad and toss right before you eat it. Here we have romaine, feta, olives, and a tomato. SMART!
Yamahomo and I held our breath when opening this:
Yamahomo brought in this huge oversized container of homemade mango lassi. WHO IS THIS MAN???
Ronnybrook Farm Milk. The farm sells their dairy products out at the farmer’s market every Wednesday, and so there are lots of their products in the Work Fridge. They make the best milk chocolate ever.

Everyone is always dieting!!!
A compact lunch neatly packed in a ziploc bag.

One of those “designer” lunch bags. A bit over the top. I think it’s really great to pack a lunch for work, but am not into these “lunch purses” that I see ladies holding on the train.
Ok, this is my lunch. Kinda cute right? Japanese people wrap their lunch boxes in handkerchiefs. It’s really weird.
Back of the fridge- NO MAN’S LAND.

Some other scary products you know have been in here for god knows how long.
The veggie box- not bad.

Butter box- individual things of grape jelly. Jam companies need to stop making this shit. WHO likes grape jelly???

By far the nastiest thing we found in the fridge- fucking mayo that expired back in July 2006. I swear this was here when I started in 2005. NASTY!!!
The Work Fridge also creates heated feuds over email throughout the organization. Here’s an example:

Mary: “Dear all, I found my leftovers in the trash today. Please be respectful of your colleagues, and do not randomly throw out things in the communal refrigerator.”
John: “Well, did it have your name on it?”
Mary: “Yes it did. They were leftovers from yesterday and I was going to eat it today.”
Henry: “Mary, let this be a lesson, and just eat your entire lunch next time.”
Mary: “Henry, that is disrespectful. I am reporting you to HR.”

*What’s in your fridge? Email photos to umamimart@gmail.com

umamichatter: Waverly Inn (NYC)

March 27, 2008

*umamichatter is a new column where I chat online with people about their food adventures. Chats may be edited down to make shorter, but will never be added upon or manipulated in a way that makes a more positive or negative review. Please expect stream-of-consciousness bitching, complaining and other random mumblings.


My dear friend Matt wrangled himself into Waverly Inn the other night. WI is a super exclusive celebrity hang out in the West Village, opened last year to a lot of buzz by Graydon Carter, editor of Vanity Fair. This place is no joke: a secret reservation line, Madonna and Kate Moss sightings in one night, camera-toting paparazzi outside, and $85 mac & cheese.

Here’s what Matt thought about the place. This was a work dinner, and the bill for three people was $700, after tip.


12:30 AM matt: yeah, not that coolme: to be expectedmatt: they were playing tom waits when i got in, and i was like, wow, gonna be cool

and then i turned around and there was this girl that looked exactly like kristen davis
12:32 AM and i was like, this is awesome bc charlotte is here
but then i looked again and it wasnt her
and then there were no more famous people
me: ha
charlotte!
12:33 AM matt: it was also pretty empty
the paparazzi outside said mcdreamy was supposed to be there
but i dont even know who he is
me: from grey’s anatomy
12:35 AM matt: yeah, i wouldnt know him if i saw him
it was also pretty emptyi will say, i had a much more enjoyable meal at smoke joint last night


12:39 AM
me: yup

12:41 AM matt: yeah
i would never do that myself it is the experience i guess
12:43 AM me: what did you eat
matt: tuna tartare which all the reviews said was what to get
not that good and braised short ribs
me: nice
how was that
matt: which was fine
but not special
me: right
12:44 AM matt: ive had better
not to be all particular, but the wine guy poured wine all over my menu
me: HAHAHAHA
matt: like fine if a waiter does
me: that’s AWESOME
matt: but this is the wine guy
12:45 AM mainly its bc you look like a retard to everyone else
bc they dont know you didnt do it
me: ha
12:46 AM what did everyone else get
matt: same
but a chicken pot pie
me: omg

how much was that
matt: i think the braised short ribs was the most expensive entree we got
which was 27
me: that’s not so bad
matt: ALSO, the mac and cheese is now 85
12:47 AM me: how did the bill end up being 700
if that’s the most expensive
did you get a bottle of veuve?
matt: no
two bottles of wine
me: ah how was the service?

aside from wine guy
12:47 AM
matt: ha
ok, little disorganized i felt
we had like three waiters
so we asked for the wine list
12:49 AM and then three people came around about every minute to ask if we made a decision
me: oh geez

hm
12:51 AM yikes

The bathroom is pretty uninspired for a place that charges $85 for mac & cheese.
Waverly Inn
16 Bank Street at Waverly Pl.
New York, NY
No Telephone!

Happy Hour: Caprese Martini

March 25, 2008

Deal of the Year

March 25, 2008

Dear Poor New Yorkers,
Please do yourself a favor and go to Blue Ribbon Sushi this week for dinner during Brooklyn Restaurant Week. For $23, you get a seaweed salad, this below, and green tea ice cream. No joke, this is the best deal you will get all year. I do this every year- sometimes twice during the week. How could you not?


They don’t take reservations, but I went tonight at 8:30, was seated in 20 minutes, and the place was pretty much cleared out by 9:30pm. Deal ends Sunday.

Buon appetito,
Kayoko

Blue Ribbon Sushi
580 5th Avenue (at Garfield)
Brooklyn, NY
T: 718.840.0404

Roasting for Jesus

March 24, 2008

Jesus is just alright with me
Jesus is just alright, oh yeah
– Doobie Brothers

Religiously speaking, I am godless. I am a gluttonous heathen, afterall. If hard pressed, I suppose I would say I’m a non-practicing Buddhist, but that’s only because my dad makes me pray to his little shrine whenever I go to his house. But I refuse to chant during yoga- it annoys the hell out of me (they never tell you what you’re saying, or what exactly it’s for. It’s just nonsense).

However, deep down, I have a soft spot for all things Roman Catholic. Majestic cathedrals, Pope Jean-Paul II (I saw him once!), the Spanish Inquisition, Dante’s Inferno and Jesus all fascinate me to no end. It’s so bizarre- and I feel bad cause Catholicism has traumatized many of my friends.

So of course I was excited about celebrating the Jesus resurrection on Sunday. Easter means ham, hard boiled eggs, and springtime. Gotta love it. But my plans derailed when Troy and Kumiko called to cancel Easter dinner because they were sick. I sorta panicked, but Fumiko said she would come over, so I cooked dinner for the two of us. Those in disgruntled relationships, ponder this: being single means possibly eating Easter dinner ALONE. It’s a crapshoot.

I didn’t have any big meat item, but I did my usual vegetable roasting. I love roasting vegetables- not only because they taste so good, but mostly because I am lazy, and it’s the easiest thing ever. Here are my ingredients:

Right next to the garlic is a little stick of chorizo. They sell it at Blue Apron in Park Slope for $1.50!!! What a steal! It’s great cause it will hold in the fridge forever, and it’s something different from the same old bacon.

I am relatively new to the cauliflower phenomenon- Aya introduced me to it a few months ago. I’m pretty hooked though. For this, I just chopped up the cauliflower, the zucchini, the chorizo, a few cloves of garlic and peeled the red onions. Preheat oven to 400.

Disclaimer: it took me FOREVER to peel these little fuckers, which is not fun for lazy people. I will use shallots next time.
Put everything in a baking pan, drizzle olive oil all over it, add some salt, grind some pepper. I also added a few bay leaves, cause I had some. I love all the colors here:
Stir occasionally, and take out after about 30 minutes. That’s it!!!
Shave a ton of romano over it, then mix it around.
I obviously needed something else with the meal, so I just made some pasta. I sauteed an onion with a fresh sausage, and boiled fresh pasta that I randomly had in the fridge.

Put some tomato sauce with all of that, et voila! Also, fresh parsley is so necessary.
Here is our meal- Jesus Resurrection 2008. Sadly, the corner wine store was closed, so we couldn’t consume the blood of Christ. Fumiko said we drink the blood all the time, so it was no big deal- we just settled for beer. Would that be Jesus pee? OMG I’m totally going to hell.

PS- the chorizo adds a nice crunch to the soft vegetables. Fumi liked it. Give it a whirl.