A Long Weekend in New York

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i’ve been on east coast time for the past few days. i flew to new york city  towards last week for the occasion of the tanya morgan moonlighting release party at opus 22. upon my arrival on thursday, it took an hour to get to the hotel; by the time I got there around six in the evening i had about ten minutes to get ready before the big event. despite my extreme fatigue (by the time the party was over i’d been awake for 24 hours) and hunger (i never did get to eat a meal that day), i was thrilled that it was all a great success.

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monica came all the way from dc; von on the other hand calls brooklyn home sweet home.

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ilyas!

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von pea! (loves dilla!) together they plus donwill make up tanya morgan. duh.

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tim and dwine. both are california transplants to the east coast. both are super tall. both are well-rounded gentlemen.

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this is michelle the publicist and frank the graphic/web designer.

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tara was there too, which was fantastic because she’s fantastic.

after the party a whole bunch of us went to triple crown where i met ali shaheed muhammad. ordinarily i would have been super excited but i was so tired that all i could see was mirages of my hotel bed.

speaking of which, my hotel was an unpleasant experience to say the least. i never could catch up on sleep since every few minutes i’d hear a door loudly (and i mean LOUDLY) slam shut down the hallway or overhear the pseudo-party a few rooms down at four am. and our bathroom was about the size of a shoebox. the room itself wasn’t much bigger. and the staff was rude. i’ll stop before this turns into a hotel review.

our group spent friday exploring record shops and wandering the streets. the highlight of the day was a visit to the offices of scratch magazine. the lowlight of the day was my decision to order chicken soft tacos at a diner for lunch. mexican food in new york city – what was i thinking?

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at least i got to pose with dog the bounty hunter. hi melody.

saturday was a bit more eventful. despite the rain, we made a trip to the united nations after a disappointing faux vietnamese lunch. my main reason to visit was to purchase some iran flag keychains; the one i’d bought during my last trip had long fallen apart. it turned out the gift shop was out of keychains for nearly every country that begins with an “i.” i was heartbroken. stupid UN. thanks, kofi.

we got to pose with our favorite secretary generals, though. the UN had an exhibition of persian rugs featuring the likenesses of all the past secretary generals on display, courtesy of the iranian government. (the least they could do is carry their keychains in return.)

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me and u thant. how cool is his name?

from there we took the metro to brooklyn.
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grand central station. we saw two sets of newlyweds there.

brooklyn was fun but chilly. afterwards i went back to manhattan to meet dwine and his girlfriend for dinner. my tekka maki was the best meal i’d had since my arrival. afterwards tim and frank joined us at a coffeeshop for chess and hot mochas. then came the highlight of the day: our security-laden foray into the offices of hot 97. it was almost reminiscent of the time when i visited the state department.

for my last day in new york, i had gray’s papaya for lunch. i was surprisingly pleased with my humble hot dog and banana juice.

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mmm, new york.

i made a disappointing trip to canal street where i attempted to hunt down a pair of lacoste sneakers. even though i was unsuccessful, i did run into a dean and deluca on our way towards brooklyn. from there it was more record shopping and then a quick dinner and everyone parted their separate ways. i had to be up early the next morning to catch our flight back, 3:30 am to be exact.

it was a great trip and i was thrilled to finally meet so many people i’d heard all about and to catch up with ones i hadn’t seen in a while. that said, i’ve been more than a bit sleepy all week long.

Spicy Chinese Eggplant

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while its been pouring buckets outside, i’ve been inside cooking. (well i’ve been outside too, but that’s another story.) the theme this time was chinese.

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shandong stir-fry soup noodles

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spicy eggplant

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sizzling singapore chili shrimp

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chinatown roast duck

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daikon with bean thread noodles

here’s the recipe for the eggplant:

1/3 cup chicken broth
1 T hoisin sauce
2 t soy sauce
2 t lemon juice
1 t plum sauce
4 chinese eggplants (1 lb)
vegetable oil
2 t minced garlic
1 t minced ginger
1/2 jalapeno chili, sliced into thin rings
basil leaves
sliced green onions

1. prepare the sauce: stir the chicken broth, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, lemon juice, and plum sauce in a bowl until blended.
2. cut the stems from the eggplants, then cut them lengthwise into quarters, then cut crosswise into 3-inch pieces.
3. pour enough oil into a large saucepan to come to a depth of 2 inches. heat over medium-high heat and deep-fry the eggplant until tender. remove and drain on paper towels.
4. heat a wok over high heat until hot. add 1 tablespoon of oil and the garlic, ginger, and chili and stir-fry until fragrant, about 20 seconds. add the sauce and bring to a simmer.
5. add the eggplant and stir to coat. scoop onto a serving platter and garnish with basil leaves and green onions.

Sweet Potato Simmered with Kelp

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sunday evenings are always a bit naaraahat konandeh because they signal the end of yet another fantastic weekend. this time around the boy and i made up for not being able to spend valentine’s day together. (i know its a commercialized holiday and all, so i guess its not so bad that we still haven’t been able to spend one together.)

but i’m still trying to play blog catch-up, so i’ll make sure to write about my last two weekends in my next entry. for now i’ll make do with the japanese food i’ve been cooking as of late:

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burdock root and fried tofu soup

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chilled sesame-miso noodle salad

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octopus salad with radish sprouts

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toasted rice and salmon flakes in green tea broth

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sweet and sour lotus root

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sweet potato simmered with kelp

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soy-stewed beef

Here’s the recipe for the sweet potatoes:

Ingredients:

20 square inch pieces kombu (kelp)
1 sweet potato, cut into one-inch chunks with skin intact.
4 1/2 cups cold water
1/2 cup loosely packet katsuo-bushi
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablesoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons mirin

1.  Place the kombu in a pot with the water. Let soak for 15 minutes, then place over medium heat. Remove the pot from the heat as soon as small bubbles begin to break the surface. Add the katsuo-bushi, scattering the flakes across the surface of the water. After 5 minutes, strain the broth with a fine sieve. Reserve the kombu pieces and slice into thin strips.

2. Place the potato chunks and kombu in a pot with the reserved stock and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the potatoes and kombu are tender. Add the sugar, soy sauce, and mirin, distributing evenly. Simmer for five more minutes and then remove the pot from the stove.

3. Allow the vegetables to cool to room temperature in whatever cooking liquid remains in the pot, and serve.

Tehrangeles

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i’m back from yet another quick weekend trip to southern california. like the last, i spent a considerable time stuck in the notorious los angeles traffic. this time around, however, i played tourist. i didn’t take nearly enough photographs; in fact i only snapped a few on saturday afternoon.

on friday i took the scenic route down along highway 101, and although it meant spending a couple extra hours in the car, it was nice to look out of the window and see san luis obsipo and santa barbara as opposed to endless overcrammed herds of cows. by the time i reached the hotel, i had just enough energy to have dinner at california sushi roll in west la. i’d been (and still am) craving authentic japanese food, but i willingly obliged and went with japanese-california fusion instead. i was pleasantly suprised. my house special maki of salmon wrapped around seaweed, rice and fried fish cake was pretty good, and the beef gyoza’s offbeat hint of lemon was a good match.

the next morning i set out for lunch at the infamous roscoe’s house of chicken and waffles. my fried chicken was seasoned well and the syrup-laden waffles were yummy too, but i’m sure my arteries were begging me to stop.

afterwards i set out with a friend to the museum of contemporary art to check out their new exhibit, ecstasy: in and about altered states. to my dismay photography was not allowed, but i was really impressed. in particular i enjoyed olafur eliasson’s, erwin redl’s, and fred tomaselli’s pieces.

Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art

i spent the early evening in santa monica along the beach, and continued along to the third street promenade.

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

that evening i ate at korean char-b-que with a friend. i mistakenly ordered naengmyon. i’d accidentally ordered it a few weeks ago at another korean restaurant and found it to be anathema to my favorite flavors prominent in korean cooking. to my misfortune, the menu we ordered from on friday night didn’t have english translations, only pictures. i ordered what looked good yet recieved something quite different. the slushy ice water, flavorless beef and rubbery noodles and slices of pear made me wish i had ordered something else.

we redeemed ourselves by going to westwood to grab a mango hookah and mint tea at habibi cafe. i was in awe most of the time; almost everyone was iranian. i’d never been around so many iranians in public outside of iran at the same time. i don’t quite know how to say this politely without generalizing, but a lot of iranians i saw were, how should i put this, special. glitzy clothing and makeup, glitzy cell phones, glitzy attitude. everything seemed a bit overdone. i wondered if any of them had ever been to the iranian countryside, to ramsar or tabriz, to isfahan or shiraz. it seemed so far-removed. still, i had a great time people-watching. the music was great, as was the hookah, but the tea was a sorry mug of lipton with a couple of crushed mint leaves thrown in.

sunday was spent having lunch at farmer’s market. we met up with another friend for brazilian at pampas grill churrascaria. little did i know how delicious brazilian food is. the hearts of palm and cucumber salad, fried bananas, okra stew, and grilled garlic steak were all mouthwateringly perfect.

after a quick stop for shakes (i had banana flavor), it was time to say goodbye to los angeles and its sunny weather. tony toni tone was right; it never rains in southern california.

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akhareh taabestaan

this week’s cooking:


black-bean-stuffed plantain croquettes with tomato sauce


veracruz-style shrimp over tortillas in pumpkin seed sauce | coconut, caramel, and rum flans


creamy tomato soup with buttery croutons | mushroom dumplings in parmesan and sun-dried tomato sauce


warm soba in broth with spinach and tofu | garlic chive and beef potstickers


hawaiian-style butter-coconut mochi

i finished reading life of pi last night. i loved it. its brilliant, but i’m still not sure if i understand the end properly (or at least which version to believe).

i also saw promises last night, and i highly recommend it to anyone with the slightest interest in the israel-palestine conflict. the special features were just as interesting as the documentary itself, namely the updates on the children.

here’s the recipe for the mochi (this one is super easy and yummy):

1 lb mochiko
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 14-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk
5 eggs
1/2 stick melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. preheat oven to 350F.
2. whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl. mix together wet ingredients in another bowl. add coconut mixture to flour mixture, whisking until batter is combined.
3. pour batter into an ungreased 13-by-9-inch baking pan, and bake until top is golden and cake begins to pull away from sides of pan, about 1 hour and 25 minutes. cook cake completely, about 2 hours. cut mochi into squares before serving.