Tuesday, April 06, 2010

We Ate New York: Part the Second

On Day Two, we exercised our street food muscle.  As many fine dining restaurants as I've been to, I have to admit, my heart belongs on the street.  Street food is cheap, portable and usually tucks big, satisfying  flavor into a small package because when you're so pressed for time that you can't duck into a deli or sit down for supper, you've still gotta feel like you ate something.

I had a goal of finding some stir-fried chicken or duck feet while we were in Flushing, Queens.  I've heard about how wonderful it is the pick the meat off the feet, every bite a little more ducky and fatty - it sounded amazing.  So when we stepped up to the stand and ordered four "Duck Feet" for $1.50 each from the aged Chinese lady, she surprised us completely.  The woman pocketed meaty oysters of duck meat with crispy skin into fluffy steamed bread, added shredded cucumbers and scallions and squirted a healthy dose of sweet hoisin/five-spice sauce on top. 

These, my friends, started the day off right.  These little "duck feet tacos" as we dubbed them, won the title Best Street Food of the Day.

We ducked (pun intended) into what was labeled a "mall" but what was actually a Chinese food paradise.  This is what we found (above).  And this...(oh, my..)

And this...

At home in Orlando, we love heading over to Saigon Market or Lollicup in the Colonialtown neighborhood and snorking down a taro smoothie with tapioca boba beads.  The lavendar smoothie tastes like a combination of flowers and chocolate and is just so addicting (I may get one for lunch, now).  This counter (above) was a smoothie bar, yes, but when we ordered a taro slush, what the guy behind the counter put together was NOTHING like what we have at home.  I have little to no idea what 98% of the things in those bowls are.  Beans, jellys, creamy things...not much about food freaks me out, but, I'm kind of embarassed to say, this kind of freaked me out. 

The slush we got was made with fresh taro (it's like a sweet potato), not the taro-flavored purple powder we have at home.  It tasted vaguely of the sweet concoction we enjoy from Lollicup, but very, very different.  Cliff drank most of it.  I stayed away after my first few lightly chunky sips.

Siopao is a steamed bun usually served at weekend dim sum feasts.  It's sometimes filled with egg, roast shredded chicken, or char siu (roast, glazed pork).  We found these, though, at the stand next door to the 'duck feet taco' place.  They were filled with a savory, steamy sauce and a pork meatball.  On this windy, 35-degree March day, these were so warming and comforting.  And they were $1 for four.  Beat that, fancy Manhattan eateries!

At Tai Pan, a Chinese bakery that's made a sweet and savory name for itself, we stocked up on yeasty buns filled with dried, shredded 'pork thread' and sweet pastries including famous egg custards and sweet taro pastries.

Tai Pan Bakery, 3725 Main Street, Flushing, Queens

Before we took the train out of Flushing and into the city to meet our friend Van, who flew in from North Carolina, and to eat some more (tomorrow's pictures!), I got a little over-zealous and ordered something cool-looking but not so tasty (at least to my ignorant American palate).  I generally LOVE food-on-a-stick, but these fish balls, gelatinized fish meatballs, dipped in fiery sauce and served piping, were just too much.  I gave them to my Cliff, who eats everything.

And that's why I love him.

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