Well, The Wharf in New York‘s Rockaway Beach is certainly not one of those places.
Check it out, yes — I definitely heard that. With its outdoor dining deck with sweeping views of the water and Manhattan’s skyline in the distance, The Wharf’s vista for a sunset cocktail can’t be beat. But eat? We had read and heard enough about the food to know there were probably better restaurants in Rockaway Beach.
Even so, on a recent evening, as our cocktails on that famous deck were disappearing, the vaunted view was nudging us to stay.
How bad could the food truly be? We decided to find out …
Anyone who has eaten with me understands that I generally view vegetables the same way one would dentist appointments or exercise — they’re a necessary evil.
This has long held true, and is something that has exasperated my mother since I was a child. Back then, once it was clear that threats and bribery had absolutely no power in persuading me to eat any greens, my mother wisely appealed to a different side of me: The one that (perhaps not so) secretly enjoys the idea of a good conquest.
Think of broccoli as a little tree, she said.
And so, at the dinner table, I began to imagine myself as a giant, ripping out whole trees from the ground and snarfing down clumps of leaves, then branches, before finally devouring their trunks. Destruction, obliteration — all adrenaline-pumping stuff that finally got me to clean those plates of greens.
Perhaps this could have been seen as an early sign that I might grow up to be a serial killer but, no matter. I was eating vegetables. And that was good.
I was thinking of this story when my Let’s Lunch crew decided on doing “a dish that made me eat vegetables” for this month’s virtual lunch date toasting Joe Yonan’s new cookbook “Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook,” which hit bookstores this week. Congrats, Joe!
Fiery foods are never far from my mind — but the summer months are when this yearning really consumes me.
Perhaps it’s because spicy food and sweltering weather are so intertwined in Singapore, where I grew up. Regardless, whenever the weather turns hot in New York, that’s when my hankering for mouth-numbing flavors truly rears its head.
This week, this led me to try my hand at a dish that I’ve adored for years in Korean restaurants but had never considered trying: Soondubu Jjigae …
A little bit of excitement occurred recently — I just had my first piece of fiction published in an anthology!
It’s a short story titled “Ganja Ghosts” — about, well, smoking the you know what in Singapore. And it’s appeared in a lovely book called “The Marijuana Chronicles,” edited by the brilliant artist and bestselling mystery writer Jonathan Santlofer.
While I was there recently, mangoes came pelting down so frequently each day that I certainly took them for granted. There are only so many mango slices and salsas one can eat, after all.
Now that I’m back in New York City however, I’m come to rather miss that tree. So when I happened to see a display of beautiful mangoes in Brooklyn shortly after my Let’s Lunch group decided to share a “Too Hot To Cook” dish for our June virtual lunch gathering, I started thinking …
Ask anyone in Key West about lunch and you’ll likely get the question: “Have you been to the crêpe place?”
Admittedly, this island is not a place I’d think of for crêpes — seafood, yes. (Perhaps even a boozy lunchspot with a view.) Crêpes? Silly as it sounded, it didn’t seem local enough for one of the few meals out I was allowing myself during my month of writing.
After a few weeks of getting this question though, I decided to investigate. So off we went one morning on a jaunt to a little corner in Bahama Village …
A Singaporean auntie laughed when I once mentioned my late grandmother’s “gambling rice,” a one-dish meal she concocted that was easy to make — and for busy gamblers to eat — in the little gambling den she ran.
“Gambling rice?” my auntie said. “We called it ‘landuo fan!”
Lazy rice — a name that’s stuck with me ever since.
So recently in Brooklyn, cooking has become all about looking in the fridge and throwing dishes together. Some of these winged-it meals, however, have turned out so much tastier than expected that I’ve started recording the haphazard madness that led to their being.
One of the favorites so far? Chinese roast pork with broccoli in an easy home-made char siu gravy. It’s so easy that dinner took a little over 10 minutes to make. Want the recipe? Just click on through …
I haven’t had much time to cook recently, with my book deadline looming.
But one does have to eat. So recently, when I found myself having to take a quick break from writing to prep a dish for a potluck party at The Studios of Key West, I turned to an old reliable: Spicy Korean tofu.
This dish is so easy (and delicious) that I find myself making it sometimes as often as once a week. Each tofu bite is packed with the intense swirl of garlic, chili flakes, nutty sesame oil and more — it’s terrific on its own but even better over hot white rice.
Every time I’ve made it, people ask for the recipe — so when my Let’s Lunch crew decided to make a dish that honors Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month for our May virtual lunch date, I decided it was time to share it …