BEETS N'JAMZ

It's always dinner time at my house.
Starting another journey…this one filled with mostly sounds of my grandmother’s thick Sichuanese accent and jovial laughter—and sometimes the inaudible scowl she throws me when I spend too much time in the kitchen shadowing her ever move. 
She has been the Chef de Cuisine of every food memory from my childhood. 
Follow the story and the project! So excited to share with you. Read more on Eating Pǒ-Pó’s. 

Starting another journey…this one filled with mostly sounds of my grandmother’s thick Sichuanese accent and jovial laughter—and sometimes the inaudible scowl she throws me when I spend too much time in the kitchen shadowing her ever move. 

She has been the Chef de Cuisine of every food memory from my childhood. 

Follow the story and the project! So excited to share with you. Read more on Eating Pǒ-Pó’s


For the last few weeks, I went on what you could call a blogger’s “diet” to reset my creative virility. Productivity was low due to a much-needed break from the obsessive music and food pairings that would happen in my head every time I had something delicious to eat. I also can’t deny that a boy who popped in my life recently “consumed” a lot of my free time/meals. Oh, and then there was that move to the other side of Brooklyn. And of course, the new job I just started.
The other day while wrapping up the last bit of work at my freelance gig before bidding the freewheelin’ life adieu, I had an urge to treat myself. It’s not that I don’t do that already—after all I spent most of May traveling after wrapping a rather difficult project. But as hardworking New Yorkers, we often don’t take the time to think deeply about what we’re patting ourselves on the backs for. It can’t always be about seeing that direct deposit go through or that book we’ve worked on go to the presses or that app we programmed go live. We can all be a little more thoughtful and kind, and if we have tried to be then we should take pride in those efforts—a little positive reinforcement for continuing to improve our human relationships and the care we give ourselves. I wanted to treat myself simply because I have tried to be good to others and myself—and you should too. 
As soon as I shut down my computer, I dashed out and ended up at Victory Garden in the West Village for a salted caramel goat’s milk soft serve topped with their homemade halvah. It was amazing and I definitely deserved it. 
Dessert Pairing: The Tempests - “Someday”. A little Northern Soul goes a long way.
Victory Garden
31 Carmine Street, New York, NY




(212) 206-7273  

For the last few weeks, I went on what you could call a blogger’s “diet” to reset my creative virility. Productivity was low due to a much-needed break from the obsessive music and food pairings that would happen in my head every time I had something delicious to eat. I also can’t deny that a boy who popped in my life recently “consumed” a lot of my free time/meals. Oh, and then there was that move to the other side of Brooklyn. And of course, the new job I just started.

The other day while wrapping up the last bit of work at my freelance gig before bidding the freewheelin’ life adieu, I had an urge to treat myself. It’s not that I don’t do that already—after all I spent most of May traveling after wrapping a rather difficult project. But as hardworking New Yorkers, we often don’t take the time to think deeply about what we’re patting ourselves on the backs for. It can’t always be about seeing that direct deposit go through or that book we’ve worked on go to the presses or that app we programmed go live. We can all be a little more thoughtful and kind, and if we have tried to be then we should take pride in those efforts—a little positive reinforcement for continuing to improve our human relationships and the care we give ourselves. I wanted to treat myself simply because I have tried to be good to others and myself—and you should too. 

As soon as I shut down my computer, I dashed out and ended up at Victory Garden in the West Village for a salted caramel goat’s milk soft serve topped with their homemade halvah. It was amazing and I definitely deserved it. 

Dessert Pairing: The Tempests - “Someday”. A little Northern Soul goes a long way.

Victory Garden

31 Carmine Street, New York, NY

(212) 206-7273  

This is what I’ve been working on: A cookbook, dedicated to my grandmother, which will chronicle both her recipes and her life. Her story might lack the angsty, unrequited love-intensity of an Eileen Chang novel or a Zhang YiMou movie, but it’s certainly worth retelling aka opium, war planes, polygamy. And her old-world cooking—making superb dou ban jiang (Sichuan fermented bean paste) from scratch to curing her own sausages—foods rarely prepared in the modern household that really distinguish Sichuan flavors from other regional profiles. Anyway, it’s SLOWLY but surely coming. 
While I mostly stick to my grandmother’s tried and true recipes and techniques, I can’t help but riff on some them to recreate my own favorite Taiwanese/Chinese dishes. Her scallion pancake and meat braise liquid becomes the foundation for one of my favorite snacks of all time. Niu rou juan bing is slow-cooked beef shank wrapped with a sweet soy sauce, green onion, and cilantro in a scallion pancake. I tested the recipe this past Sunday and was lucky enough to have 15 of my most trusted palates taste it and give their feedback. Good reviews all around, and I was especially pleased with the soft, tenderness of the meat, achieved through over 4 hours of very slow cooking. Stay tuned for a recipe!
Dinner Pairing: My Bloody Valentine - Soft as Snow (But Warm Inside) for obvious reasons. This band always reminds me of a piece of perfectly-cooked beef—nuanced flavors and a textural balance of toughness with melt-in-your-mouth tenderness. 

This is what I’ve been working on: A cookbook, dedicated to my grandmother, which will chronicle both her recipes and her life. Her story might lack the angsty, unrequited love-intensity of an Eileen Chang novel or a Zhang YiMou movie, but it’s certainly worth retelling aka opium, war planes, polygamy. And her old-world cooking—making superb dou ban jiang (Sichuan fermented bean paste) from scratch to curing her own sausages—foods rarely prepared in the modern household that really distinguish Sichuan flavors from other regional profiles. Anyway, it’s SLOWLY but surely coming. 

While I mostly stick to my grandmother’s tried and true recipes and techniques, I can’t help but riff on some them to recreate my own favorite Taiwanese/Chinese dishes. Her scallion pancake and meat braise liquid becomes the foundation for one of my favorite snacks of all time. Niu rou juan bing is slow-cooked beef shank wrapped with a sweet soy sauce, green onion, and cilantro in a scallion pancake. I tested the recipe this past Sunday and was lucky enough to have 15 of my most trusted palates taste it and give their feedback. Good reviews all around, and I was especially pleased with the soft, tenderness of the meat, achieved through over 4 hours of very slow cooking. Stay tuned for a recipe!

Dinner Pairing: My Bloody Valentine - Soft as Snow (But Warm Inside) for obvious reasons. This band always reminds me of a piece of perfectly-cooked beef—nuanced flavors and a textural balance of toughness with melt-in-your-mouth tenderness. 

I experience deja vu so often that I might be borderline schizophrenic. One thing I know for certain: three weeks ago, I had never had an Eton Mess. But when this perfection on a plate finally showed up in front of me—glistening layers of custardy whipped cream, macerated strawberries, and crumbly meringue—it felt uncannily familiar. Eton Mess is a classic English dessert, so old school that my English friend had never heard of it. Yet somehow, while we were sitting in this restaurant’s outdoor patio in Camberwell, South London and the dessert showed up…deja vu.
Get April Bloomfield’s Eton Mess recipe here. 
Dessert Pairing: It seemed so obvious for me to pair this meal with Broadcast’s “Chord Simple” from Belle & Sebastian’s Late Night Tales compilation. When I hear this song, I can only think of the Broadcast show I saw 7 years ago, and Trish Keenan’s hauntingly beautiful voice. Even though I only recently learned of this particular song (how could I have completely missed this?!),  it’s like I’ve been listening to it all my life. 

I experience deja vu so often that I might be borderline schizophrenic. One thing I know for certain: three weeks ago, I had never had an Eton Mess. But when this perfection on a plate finally showed up in front of me—glistening layers of custardy whipped cream, macerated strawberries, and crumbly meringue—it felt uncannily familiar. Eton Mess is a classic English dessert, so old school that my English friend had never heard of it. Yet somehow, while we were sitting in this restaurant’s outdoor patio in Camberwell, South London and the dessert showed up…deja vu.

Get April Bloomfield’s Eton Mess recipe here

Dessert Pairing: It seemed so obvious for me to pair this meal with Broadcast’s “Chord Simple” from Belle & Sebastian’s Late Night Tales compilation. When I hear this song, I can only think of the Broadcast show I saw 7 years ago, and Trish Keenan’s hauntingly beautiful voice. Even though I only recently learned of this particular song (how could I have completely missed this?!),  it’s like I’ve been listening to it all my life. 

Guest post: Jinnie 
Sure, most people are familiar with their Chinese food and Korean food, but an outing to a specialized Chinese-Korean restaurant is the only place where you’ll find these delicious, brown noodles called jja jang myun. The dish is usually prepared quickly and it’s generally inexpensive! The dark color (made from a black soybean paste) can be off-putting and it’s kind of messy to eat on, say, a first date, but it’s well worth the risk, I think! Especially if you’re out to impress a friend by ordering an item that’s not generally found on a typical Asian menu. 
This jja jang myun is from a spot out in Flushing, Queens (I don’t remember the name of the restaurant) but Hyo Dong Gak in Manhattan’s Koreatown is also solid. There are actually a few restaurants in K-Town between 5th and 6th Avenues that serve jja jang myun, and as long as they are specifically Chinese-Korean restaurants, you should be able to order this dish.


Dinner Pairing: I’m going slightly old-school (hmm actually back 10 years!!) to Weezer’s “Keep Fishin’.” I happened to sing this at a friend’s birthday karaoke party recently and forgot how amazing this one song from the album Maladroit is. The music video featuring the Muppets is incredible too, but that’s obvious!

Guest post: Jinnie 

Sure, most people are familiar with their Chinese food and Korean food, but an outing to a specialized Chinese-Korean restaurant is the only place where you’ll find these delicious, brown noodles called jja jang myun. The dish is usually prepared quickly and it’s generally inexpensive! The dark color (made from a black soybean paste) can be off-putting and it’s kind of messy to eat on, say, a first date, but it’s well worth the risk, I think! Especially if you’re out to impress a friend by ordering an item that’s not generally found on a typical Asian menu. 

This jja jang myun is from a spot out in Flushing, Queens (I don’t remember the name of the restaurant) but Hyo Dong Gak in Manhattan’s Koreatown is also solid. There are actually a few restaurants in K-Town between 5th and 6th Avenues that serve jja jang myun, and as long as they are specifically Chinese-Korean restaurants, you should be able to order this dish.
Dinner Pairing: I’m going slightly old-school (hmm actually back 10 years!!) to Weezer’s “Keep Fishin’.” I happened to sing this at a friend’s birthday karaoke party recently and forgot how amazing this one song from the album Maladroit is. The music video featuring the Muppets is incredible too, but that’s obvious!

Prior to my vacation in London, I made a bucket list of English specialties I knew I had to try while I was there. Included on this list were foods like Eton’s Mess, Eccles cake, Scotch eggs, Bakewell tart, etc. What missed the list was Kedgeree, which I had forgotten about but is so symbolic of British fusion. This Anglo-Indian breakfast dish traditionally combines Indian spices (curry powder) with rice, smoked haddock, hard boiled egg, parsley for a meal that is hefty, flavorful, and cross-culturally intriguing. Naturally, this is not food I’ve had in the States—we’ve got enough of our own fusion foods to keep us busy. 
My friend Amy thought it would be fun to welcome me to London with Kedgeree. She used this Waitrose recipe, which calls for mackerel instead of haddock. With some Maldon sea salt and then Crunchie chocolate biscuits to follow, the meal trumped everything else on my bucket list. 
Dinner Pairing: Major Lazer - “Get Free”. Most recent release from my favorite Mad Decent producers, the song itself fusing brilliant music production and Amber of the Dirty Projectors. 

Prior to my vacation in London, I made a bucket list of English specialties I knew I had to try while I was there. Included on this list were foods like Eton’s Mess, Eccles cake, Scotch eggs, Bakewell tart, etc. What missed the list was Kedgeree, which I had forgotten about but is so symbolic of British fusion. This Anglo-Indian breakfast dish traditionally combines Indian spices (curry powder) with rice, smoked haddock, hard boiled egg, parsley for a meal that is hefty, flavorful, and cross-culturally intriguing. Naturally, this is not food I’ve had in the States—we’ve got enough of our own fusion foods to keep us busy. 

My friend Amy thought it would be fun to welcome me to London with Kedgeree. She used this Waitrose recipe, which calls for mackerel instead of haddock. With some Maldon sea salt and then Crunchie chocolate biscuits to follow, the meal trumped everything else on my bucket list. 

Dinner Pairing: Major Lazer - “Get Free”. Most recent release from my favorite Mad Decent producers, the song itself fusing brilliant music production and Amber of the Dirty Projectors. 

Anyone who still complains about the lack of good food in London is eating at all the wrong places. While the city is rife with greasy, foul-tasting pub food, it compensates with superb ethnic cooking and of course, Chef Fergus Henderson. His restaurant St John achieved its fame for its dedication to nose-to-tail eating—the use of an entire animal including offal and other seemingly unappetizing bits. Of course, he’s doing something right because prior to my London visit, I was instructed to go there and have the Eccles cake (pronounced “eckles”), a traditional British dessert from Eccles, by several friends. 
The cake is divine! Pastry dough filled with a sugary current mixture, paired with Lancashire cheese. A very adult dessert, but one that I’d look forward to having after every meal. And now that I’m back home in NYC, I should probably try and bake this at home using Henderson’s own recipe! 
Dessert Pairing: Naturally when in London, do as Londoners do—jam out to “Return of the Mack” by Mark Morrison, which strangely enough, has had a second coming in the last year. I like this remixed version of the song, which much like St John’s Eccles cake, is a riff of an English classic. 

Anyone who still complains about the lack of good food in London is eating at all the wrong places. While the city is rife with greasy, foul-tasting pub food, it compensates with superb ethnic cooking and of course, Chef Fergus Henderson. His restaurant St John achieved its fame for its dedication to nose-to-tail eating—the use of an entire animal including offal and other seemingly unappetizing bits. Of course, he’s doing something right because prior to my London visit, I was instructed to go there and have the Eccles cake (pronounced “eckles”), a traditional British dessert from Eccles, by several friends. 

The cake is divine! Pastry dough filled with a sugary current mixture, paired with Lancashire cheese. A very adult dessert, but one that I’d look forward to having after every meal. And now that I’m back home in NYC, I should probably try and bake this at home using Henderson’s own recipe

Dessert Pairing: Naturally when in London, do as Londoners do—jam out to “Return of the Mack” by Mark Morrison, which strangely enough, has had a second coming in the last year. I like this remixed version of the song, which much like St John’s Eccles cake, is a riff of an English classic. 

When flavors meld harmoniously under conditions that make sense, when time aligns perfectly with place—sometimes, these fortuitous moments are fleeting. We are inclined to grasp tightly but only when we let go and accept transience, can we evolve. To quote one of my favorite sappy poets Edna St. Vincent Millay in her poem Afternoon Under a Hill,”I will touch a hundred flowers/ And not pick one.”
Anyway.

Today, I was lucky enough to experience Restaurant Day, Helsinki’s answer to bringing communities together through cooking, feeding, eating, and sharing. Over 300 local home cooks hosted their own unlicensed pop-up restaurant around the city—making and selling whatever they wanted out of their homes or in public venues. As patrons, we participated without asking any questions or doubting the good intentions of these restaurant hosts. It was a unique and very beautiful experience. Even if only for a day.
This delicate tray of Finnish goodies made from local, seasonal ingredients was created by art students at the University of Helsinki. Their pop up restaurant was called Torikoju, and the kids were trying to raise money to go to a design conference in Japan. All of the tableware from tray to bowl were handmade. The nettle in my meatball sandwich was handpicked. The lemonade was made with steeped black current leaves. I ate this sitting on a dock facing the Baltic Sea, a stone’s throw (ok maybe more) away from Estonia, in the company of new friends. 
Lunch Pairing: Mat Riviere - “The Give In”

When flavors meld harmoniously under conditions that make sense, when time aligns perfectly with place—sometimes, these fortuitous moments are fleeting. We are inclined to grasp tightly but only when we let go and accept transience, can we evolve. To quote one of my favorite sappy poets Edna St. Vincent Millay in her poem Afternoon Under a Hill,”I will touch a hundred flowers/ And not pick one.”

Anyway.

Today, I was lucky enough to experience Restaurant Day, Helsinki’s answer to bringing communities together through cooking, feeding, eating, and sharing. Over 300 local home cooks hosted their own unlicensed pop-up restaurant around the city—making and selling whatever they wanted out of their homes or in public venues. As patrons, we participated without asking any questions or doubting the good intentions of these restaurant hosts. It was a unique and very beautiful experience. Even if only for a day.

This delicate tray of Finnish goodies made from local, seasonal ingredients was created by art students at the University of Helsinki. Their pop up restaurant was called Torikoju, and the kids were trying to raise money to go to a design conference in Japan. All of the tableware from tray to bowl were handmade. The nettle in my meatball sandwich was handpicked. The lemonade was made with steeped black current leaves. I ate this sitting on a dock facing the Baltic Sea, a stone’s throw (ok maybe more) away from Estonia, in the company of new friends.

Lunch Pairing: Mat Riviere - “The Give In”

To me, an umami bowl of ramen consists of the following: 
1. Broth that tastes like it’s been simmering for hours if not days.
2. Noodles that are chewy yet soft but in the way that it’s been cooked and sitting in its own wetness for some time.
3. All the other accoutrements of the soup—the sliced pork, hard boiled egg, seaweed, etc. It’s never about quantity as much as it’s about quality. 
Of course, it goes without saying that a bowl of ramen also gets better when alcohol is involved, and eating and drinking in a place that possesses the proper ramen-shop ambience—small, steamy from the nonstop cooking, and loud. 
Anyway, I had a great time at Totto Ramen in Hell’s Kitchen last week despite a terribly long wait (note to self: the restaurant does not accomodate parties four or more).  I kind of had to ditch my ramen “checklist” that night after three rounds of sake but I can confidently say that I left the restaurant a little red in the cheeks, feeling full and sweaty. 
Dinner Pairing: How to Dress Well - Lover’s Start. Brooklyn artist making shoegazey R&B. Kind of euphoric—accurately depicts that moment when you’ve had your last bite of ramen and then washing it all down with liquor. 

To me, an umami bowl of ramen consists of the following: 

1. Broth that tastes like it’s been simmering for hours if not days.

2. Noodles that are chewy yet soft but in the way that it’s been cooked and sitting in its own wetness for some time.

3. All the other accoutrements of the soup—the sliced pork, hard boiled egg, seaweed, etc. It’s never about quantity as much as it’s about quality. 

Of course, it goes without saying that a bowl of ramen also gets better when alcohol is involved, and eating and drinking in a place that possesses the proper ramen-shop ambience—small, steamy from the nonstop cooking, and loud. 

Anyway, I had a great time at Totto Ramen in Hell’s Kitchen last week despite a terribly long wait (note to self: the restaurant does not accomodate parties four or more).  I kind of had to ditch my ramen “checklist” that night after three rounds of sake but I can confidently say that I left the restaurant a little red in the cheeks, feeling full and sweaty. 

Dinner Pairing: How to Dress Well - Lover’s Start. Brooklyn artist making shoegazey R&B. Kind of euphoric—accurately depicts that moment when you’ve had your last bite of ramen and then washing it all down with liquor. 

My grandma’s homemade hot sauce is the glue that holds all of her food together. I have searched high and low for a hot bean paste (doubanjiang) that rivals the one she spends days making. It’s a painstaking process and why most people would rather just go out purchase jarred hot sauce before trying to dry and ferment their own chilies and broad beans.  Fuschia Dunlop calls doubanjiang the “essential flavorings of the Sichuanese kitchen.” Aspiring Sichuan cooks like myself can agree—it transforms a dish from just being good to mouthwateringly tasty. I use her hot sauce in everything—mapo tofu, cold noodles liang mian, beef noodle soup, stir fried anything, bang bang chicken, and more. This particular jar was sent to me via Fedex (Thanks Mom!) when I alerted the fam that I was running low. Stay tuned to see what I’ll be making with it!

Condiment Pairing: Smooth yet spicy, Chicago producer Juke Ellington’s “Love In Space” turns up the heat, just like grandma’s doubanjiang.