Tag Archives: Local Products

We Have A Labor Day Cookout Pack Winner!!!

Congratulations to Kim Smith whom the Randomizer selected as the winner for this prize!!!!

I have to say, my mouth was watering as I was reading about everyone’s best dishes (or foods) that they ate this summer.  For me, as I continue to aim to eat a mostly local diet, it was heartening to see how many comments featured seasonal produce.  Really ripe, juicy, dripping, magenta slices of watermelon are the perfect way to finish a summer barbecue to my mind.  I have some fragrant peaches on my counter now just waiting to be devoured, and the ones I had from Eastern Market in Washington, DC in July are still memorable.  Thank you to everyone for sharing their summer eating experiences!

Thank you so much to Schoolhouse Kitchen and the Saucey Sauce Co. for their generosity in providing these items.  Please check out their websites for more information about where you can find these products and how to order them to be sent to you.  They also have recipes posted on their sites to give you more great ideas for how to use these items (including the ones for all the delicious things that we ate a few weekends ago at the Saucey Sauce Co. party).

I’m bursting to tell you what the next giveaway will be, but I can’t reveal it just yet!  At the New Amsterdam Ice Cream Sunday a couple of weeks ago, I ran into the person who is helping me organize the items for it.  It will have a tailgate-theme in line with football season.  You’ll have to check back in October, as the weather gets cooler and the air gets that crisp snap in it.  It’s possibly my favorite season!

Buon appetito!

Product Giveaway – Labor Day Cook-out Product Pack

Just in time to get your last grilling weekend of the Summer of 2011 under way, I’m launching a Labor Day Cook-out Product Pack giveaway.  Yesterday, in my post about The Saucey Sauce Co., I mentioned that I was including their delicious and versatile fish sauces in this pack.  Wendy of Schoolhouse Kitchen, whose new marinades I’ve also been raving about, also contributed her Coconut Citrus Vinaigrette and Poppy Seed Revival Vinaigrette.

Then I’m going to throw in two other products that I tried at the markets this summer which will make you put away those squeeze bottles of condiments.  My Friend’s Mustard has been on the tables at several food festivals I’ve attended.  The Spicy Brown Ale version is rich and complex with a great pop in the mouth from the mustard seeds.  Sir Kensington’s Gourmet Scooping Ketchup is a huge step above what you normally slather on that burger or dip into your fries.  I picked up a jar of their Spiced Ketchup, which will perk up your celebration even more.

The Rules (There have to be some of these, you know.)

Eligibility: U.S. mainland residents only

To Enter: Write a comment on this post with the answer to the following question: What was the best dish you ate all summer?

You must also have a valid screen name (NOT “Anonymous”) with a corresponding email address to enter this giveaway. I’ll need to be able to click on it in order to contact the winner. If you list “Anonymous” or do not have a valid email address with your comment, you will be disqualified. I do not share these addresses with anyone, and they are only for the purpose of entering this giveaway.

Deadline: Is Monday, August 29th, 2011 at 12:00 p.m. EDT, based upon the date/time stamp on the comments. (I’m going to be very strict about this and make no exceptions.)

The Outcome: Only one winner will be chosen for this entire package of goodies. I’m going to put all the entries into an online Randomizer (like this one) to come up with the winner.

Buon appetito!

Product Spotlight – The Saucey Sauce Co.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a new Product Spotlight on my site.  This isn’t because I haven’t found anything to recommend, but, rather, that there’s been so much happening and so many great things to try that I haven’t managed to sit down and put together a post about it.  Recently, I’ve been on a bit of an Asian food kick, as you can see from the recipes I’ve posted.  Among the wonderful ingredients that I discovered earlier this year, the dipping sauces from The Saucey Sauce Co., have been really useful in helping me put together these dishes.

Reduction of Sweet Ginger Sauce – perfect as an accompaniment

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of hanging out with Ken and Toan Huynh, the company’s founders, at a barbecue at Toan’s place.  They had whipped up a fabulously delicious feast using their sauces in a variety of foods which showed these ingredients’ culinary flexibility and tastiness.  Originally created by their mother, they started getting requests for these sauces from friends when they would serve them at meals.  This led to them bottling the sauces and to starting to sell them at places like the Hester Street Fair.

Sweet Ginger Sauce basted chicken

I have to say again that these aren’t what you usually think of when you consider Asian fish sauce or Nuoc Cham (dipping sauce).  When you open the bottle, you get the scent of something that has been carefully balanced to consider a range of flavors: sweet, salty, spicy, and even umami.  They are ready to use as a marinade, a dressing, or straight as a dipping sauce.  The Spicy Garlic Sauce has a nice kick, while the Spicy Garlic Extreme takes that up a few notches and is what I used to make my dipping sauce for the Vietnamese Spring Rolls.  The Sweet Ginger Sauce is one of their most popular, and the Fresh Lemon Sauce is light and tangy.

Spicy Garlic Sauce marinaded roasted pork

These sauces brought out the best in the dishes that we had at the barbecue, which is to say that they didn’t have to be the stars of the plates, but helped highlight the amazing flavors of the meats and vegetables, as you can see from the juiciness of the pork above.  All the items, except Toan’s incredible Rice with Lemongrass (on the plate at the top) contained one of the sauces either as a dressing, marinade, or basting sauce.  These are definitely items that you’ll want to kept in your refrigerator for those times when your dinner plans need an extra zip.

Tomato & Zucchini Salad with Fresh Lemon Sauce

Noodle Salad with Fresh Lemon Sauce

There’s two new sauces that they’ve just added to their line, too, in response to flavors that their fans wanted.  We had a chance to sample both of them.  One, the Cool Cilantro Lime, was perfect drizzled over some of the fish (It would also be great to have on fish cooked in parchment paper.).  A splash of this could pep up any one of a number of dishes.  Then, there was the Fiery Wasabi, which Toan had mixed into warm, cooked potatoes.  This was potato salad on a whole new level: hot, starchy, eye-opening goodness.

Fiery Wasabi smashed potatoes

These sauces have definitely found a home in my kitchen.  I hope that you think they might find one in yours as well.  To give that little extra encouragement, Ken and Toan graciously offered one bottle of the Spicy Garlic Extreme and one bottle of the Sweet Ginger sauce as part of the giveaway that I’ll be launching tomorrow.

Buon appetito! 

New Amsterdam Market’s Second Annual Ice Cream Sunday

For days, heck weeks, I’ve been waiting for this particular food festival.  That’s not just because, as someone else put it to me today, “Ice cream is my favorite food group.”  (Thanks, Rebecca, at Brewla Bars for the quote!)  So, of course, I planned my whole day around getting to the New Amsterdam Market‘s Second Annual Ice Cream Sunday and fundraiser.  With my precious ten tasting tickets in hand, I scoped out the scene to work on my strategy.  I opted for one cool sample per stand of the ten vendors who were there, although it was a tough challenge to pick just a single flavor from many of them.

Early Bird Cookery choices

My first stop was Early Bird Cookery, who, last year, had one of the most interesting flavors that I’d ever tasted, their Hay ice cream.  I’ve also seen this ice cream available at Smorgasburg, if you’d like to stop by and see them there to try it out.  Today, however, I was intrigued by their Corn & Caramel flavor.  I tried a sample of it and found it to be, as they said, “Very corn forward.”  (Due in no small part to the 70 ears of corn that had to be shucked in order to create it, I was told.)  Although interesting and tasting kind of  like biting into a sweet ear of fresh corn, I decided it didn’t really wow my tastebuds.

Early Bird Cookery‘s Buttermilk, Blueberry & Lime cone

I decided instead to try the Buttermilk, Blueberry & Lime.  For me, this turned out to be a fantastic choice.  Chock full of ripe, juicy blueberry flavor with a zip from the lime and a zing from the buttermilk, this tasted like the most wonderful homemade blueberry pie I’ve never been able to master.  I could have gone back for more, but I knew I had to pace myself.

Selections from Victory Garden

On my next stop, I kept within the seasonal fruit flavors that I had started but with a twist.  Victory Garden makes ice cream from locally-sourced goat milk.  Before you think, “oh, that is going to be way too gamey tasting for me, just like the cheese” give it some consideration.  From their store on Carmine Street, they serve treats made with frozen yogurt and soft serve ice cream mixed with all sorts of toppings.

Blackcurrant Lavender cone from Victory Garden

For today, I went with the Blackcurrant Lavender flavor to sample.  Although all of these flavors individually (the milk, currants, and herbs) can be really strong standouts on their own, blended together, they melded into a mellow, luscious fruity, slightly perfumed creamy delight.  The ice cream was definitely fruit forward with the lavender following, but no one taste overwhelmed another.  In short, they worked together in sweet harmony.

Choices from Van Leeuwan Artisan Ice Cream

Another entry from last year’s festival were the folks at Van Leeuwan Artisan Ice Cream.  They have really deep, flavorful selections at their stores and their truck, but they and I never seem to be in the same place when I’m craving a cool treat.  They had several interesting-sounding varieties to try, but I stuck to my fruit theme.

Ice cream tragedy!  Van Leeuwan‘s Hudson Valley Sour Red Currant

The Hudson Valley Sour Red Currant ice cream was my first, and only, ice cream tragedy of the day!  When getting my camera out of my bag, I tilted forward just a little bit, and the whole scoop just flipped off and landed ‘splat’ on the asphalt.  What little was left in the cone and what I could lick off of my fingers tasted great, from what I could tell.  Sweet berry flavor with the boldness of the currants tempered a bit by the creaminess of the dairy.  I’ll just have to see if I can track this one down again.

Offerings from Otto Enoteca Pizzeria

Usually associated with wine, pizza, and pasta, it was really interesting to see Otto Enoteca Pizzeria at this gathering today.  I’ve never gotten far enough in a meal (too much wine, too much great pasta and cheese) to try their famous Olive Oil Gelato.  They didn’t have that to try to day, bringing two other seasonal flavors with them.

Verbena Blackcurrant Swirl from Otto Enoteca Pizzeria

After my previous catastrophe, I felt that I was entitled to have another cone with a currant theme to it.  This time, however, rather than being blended entirely together, the Verbena Blackcurrant Swirl had smooth, rich vanilla gelato with deep pockets of blackcurrants.  The verbena gave it a light, lemon perfume.  As this fruit can be quite a dominant personality, I think I preferred it when it was incorporated into the ice creams rather than having nuggets of it like it was here, as it kind of overwhelmed the dairy for me.

The choices from Steve’s Ice Cream

When I was at this market about a month or so back, I finally had a chance to check out Steve’s Ice Cream.  I really enjoyed the ice cream sandwich that I had then with a chunk of their silky smooth rich Salty Caramel flavor nestled between two chocolate chip cookies.  On a trip to Smorgasburg, I’d seen their Strawberry Ricotta in people’s hands, and it had turned my head.  Seeing it on the list for today, I knew it was calling to me.

Steve’s Ice Cream Strawberry Ricotta cone 

At first bite, I knew that I had found the best strawberry ice cream I’ve ever had.  I grew up on the pink stuff that you could buy at the grocery store.  This is like strawberries and fresh cream all mixed together in creamy, fruity loveliness.  Made with Pickled Strawberries from Anarchy in a Jar (one of my finds from a previous market trip), the last bit of the cone was filled with a dollop of the aromatic, juicy, spice-note infused berries to give this creation an extra special pop.  I want to curl up on the couch with a whole pint of this just to myself.

Blue Bottle Coffee brought ice cream to the market today

Normally in the market selling iced and hot coffees to patrons, today, Blue Bottle Coffee did double duty and also sold ice cream. By the time I got to their stand, they were completely out of the Black Chocolate Stout flavor, which was a bit disappointing.  I think they might have also been the first producer to be completely out of all flavors today, too.

 Blue Bottle Coffee‘s Chocolate Mint Chip

Fortunately, I managed to get one of the last scoops of their Chocolate Mint Chip variety.  At first bite, I got a huge hit of fresh mint flavor, herbal and cool.  Big chunks of Mast Brothers Dominican Republic chocolate chips were embedded within the creamy refreshing ice cream.  This was a grown-up version of my former ice cream parlor favorite, without the glowing green color.

Marlow & Sons selections

Another vendor using Mast Brothers delicious, deep, dark chocolate was Marlow & Sons.  Aside from trying lots of fruit flavors for this festival, I’d also decided that I wanted to consider some more out of the box creations.  When I saw the listing for Buffalo Milk, I had to ask, “Really?”

Buffalo Milk ice cream from Marlow & Sons

I was assured that, yes, this particular flavor was made with buffalo milk.  “Very creamy and rich, think of mozzarella,” I was told.  I think that they underestimated it.  This was buttery, definitely rich, a little bit milk-like, and with a back note of grassiness.  It did recall the components of the freshest buffalo mozzarella that I’d ever had.

KINGLeche Cremes flavors

These creations tasted to me a bit more like ice milks, than traditional ice creams.  Like the other vendors, they were put together using locally-sourced ingredients.  Again, I opted to go with the flavor that seemed a bit more unusual to me.

KINGLeche Cremes’ Honey Bourbon 

The Honey Bourbon combined Tremblay Apiaries spring varietal honey (found in the Greenmarkets) and bourbon from Kings County Distillery.  My first bite was full of bourbon taste and not much else.  I didn’t really get the honey in it, but I guess it was blended so well into the milk that it just let the liquor shine through.

La Newyorkina

I love La Newyorkina‘s paletas, but I haven’t ever tried her ice creams, when she’s had them.  Today was a chance to correct that serious deficiency.  Turned out that I was on line at the same time as some of the judges for the event.  I had a chance to say hello to Anne Saxelby of Saxelby Cheese who told that she had been “so excited” for this event.  She was with Gabrielle Langholtz, of Edible Brooklyn.

Piloncillo cone by La Newyorkina

This meeting was just a momentary distraction, however, from all of our important duties of the day, which was to taste Fany’s wonderful creations.  The gentleman on line behind me was someone whom I recognized from the New York Culinary Historians.  He’d pointed out to his kids that the title means “brown sugar.”  I knew from Fany’s tweets that this was the peach ice cream she’d been working on this week.  It was an easy choice to make and so delicious with chunks of ripe, sweet peaches studding a creamy, caramelly tasting confection, sort of like eating peach crumble with the brown sugar and butter and flour crust on top.

Oh, so many choices at The Bent Spoon

My favorite from last year had been the folks behind The Bent Spoon, so I had saved them for last.  They definitely brought their triple A game with them this year.  With one ticket left, I hesitantly approached their stand.  How to choose?  Fortunately, I was able to walk through their lineup before having to make my choice.  I could rhapsodize about all of their flavors, how the Beach Plum Nectarine tasted just like biting into a piece of ripe, juicy, dripping fruit or how the Chocolate-Cipollini alternated between creamy, smooth chocolate and biting chive-like tastes.  The Fresh Ricotta was milky and lemony while the Beet, Goats Cheese, Lemon, Basil had a sweetness from the vegetables while the lemon and herbs rounded it out.  The Bourbon-Vanilla had a great balance of sweet, salt, caramel, and cream.  Then, there was the Corn-Bacon (which I’d been following on Twitter) which had soft, sweet corn tones and meaty-smoky notes.  It was one of the most unique ice creams I tried all day.

My favorite, hands down – The Sweet Mary

But the one that really took the day for me was their Sweet Mary.  Tomatoes and celery from Z Food Farm combined with Penn Vodka and other flavorings to create what I can only describe as the best Bloody Mary that I’ve ever had but in ice cream form.  I could have eaten a few cones of this.  This is a genius of a creation and perfect for a warm, sunny Sunday.  I can’t wait to see what they come up with for next year!

Buon appetito!

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

When people ask me about my website, I explain that the name comes from a love of eating – the Gourmand part – and a love of trying new things – the Experimental part.  Both of these are combined in this post about making Vietnamese Spring Rolls.  I don’t remember the first time that I ate them, but they are one of my favorite things to order at Vietnamese restaurants.

How to wrap a Vietnamese Spring Roll

The burning hot rolls come straight from the fryer to the table where you pick one up and wrap it in a cool, crisp lettuce leaf sprinkled with citrusy cilantro and refreshing mint.  Before you take that first bite, dunk it into the spicy, sweet, peanut-y sauce that is served on the side.  Then, eat it.  You get meaty, crunchy, green, spicy, hot, and herby tastes all going on at once.  Your senses and your tongue are perked up and brought to life as your brain just utters the word, “YUM.”  They are completely addictive.

Vietnamese Spring Roll ready to eat

Inspired by the cooking course that I mentioned I’d taken earlier this summer, I took a few of the recipes that I saw on line and fiddled around with them to get what I think is a very approximate version of this dish.  Unfortunately, as you can see, I haven’t yet mastered the frying part to get the solid crispy crunch of the exterior shell that you get in the restaurant versions.  I guess I’ll just have to keep making batches of them until I get it right!

Vietnamese Summer Rolls

Prep Time: 30-ish minutes

Serving Size: 12 rolls


1/4 c. Bean Thread Noodles

5 large Shrimp (16-count* is fine), peeled and deveined

1/4 lb. Ground Pork

1 medium Carrot, minced

3 large Shitake Mushrooms, minced

1 Tbsp. minced fresh Basil leaves

1 Tbsp. Ultimate Fish Sauce Spicy Garlic**

Handful of Cilantro leaves (not stems)

Handful of fresh Mint leaves

Red leaf Lettuce

12 Rice Paper Wrappers (see photo)

Canola or Peanut Oil for frying

Dipping sauce

3 Tbsp. Ultimate Fish Sauce Spicy Garlic Extreme**

1 Tbsp. Rice Wine Vinegar

1/2 tsp. Simple Syrup

1 Tbsp. chopped Peanuts


Put dry bean thread noodles in a bowl and pour boiling water over them to soften.  While waiting for this to take place, put pork in a separate bowl.  Chop up shrimp finely.  I recommend using a knife to do this rather than a food processor, as that can make a paste of the shrimp meat, and this recipe needs for it to have some texture.  Put shrimp in the same bowl as the pork.

Chopped shrimp and ground pork

Check the bean thread noodles.  They should be soft and flexible, sort of like jellyfish tentacles.  Chop them roughly with a knife; they don’t have to be really small pieces.  Then, add the chopped mushrooms, carrots, basil, and bean thread noodles to the bowl with the meat.

Chopped vegetables, basil, and noodles

Pour in fish sauce.  The fish sauce I used in this recipe is a brand that I found at the Hester Street Fair.  The ingredient list to make this same sauce is at the bottom of this post.  Mix in the fish sauce with the meat and vegetables until everything is well combined.

Spring Roll Filling

Count out 12 of the rice paper wrappers.  Fill a shallow bowl or dish with warm water.

Rice Paper Wrappers

Soak one of the wrappers in the water for about 30 seconds.  Remove it and place it on the board or a towel making sure to get it as flat as possible.  Place a heaping tablespoon of the filling about 1/3 the way from one edge of the wrapper.

Lay out the wrapper and add filling

Then, make the first roll of the wrapper, taking the short edge and carefully lifting it up and over all of the filling ingredients.  Take care to roll these tightly and not to overstuff them, as they will need to cook all the way through during the frying part of the process.

The first roll

Before making the next roll forward, tuck in both sides of the wrapper, making sure to push all the filling ingredients together so that nothing is sticking out too far.  Then roll it forward.

Tuck in sides and filling ingredients

Continue to roll forward about one to two more times, keeping the ingredients and the sides tucked in tightly.  This will keep the roll from falling apart and the filling intact when frying it.

Finish by rolling up the whole wrapper

Continue with the rest of the wrappers and the ingredients.  Make the dipping sauce by whisking together the fish sauce, vinegar, simple syrup, and peanuts.  Prepare the lettuce leaves, cilantro, and mint and put on a serving platter or plate.  Put dipping sauce into shallow bowls and put it and the lettuce and herbs on the table ready to be served.

Spring roll dipping sauce

Heat canola or peanut oil in a wok or skillet.  Put 2-3 rolls in at a time, making sure not to let them touch each other.  Turn them to make sure that they cook on all sides.  This will take about 5 minutes or so.  Take cooked spring rolls out of the oil and briefly drain on paper towels before serving them hot and crispy.

Spring rolls served hot with condiments

Buon appetito!

*Kitchen Witch Tip:

I really like using the prepared fish sauce indicated in the recipe for its balance of flavors and its mild kick, but you can make something similar to it using the following ingredients:

Take 1 Tbsp. Asian fish sauce, 1 clove of garlic, and 1/2 tsp. light brown sugar and dissolve it to make the 1 Tbsp. called for in the filling.

For the dipping sauce, use 2 Tbsp. Asian fish sauce, 1 clove of garlic, 1/4 tsp. light brown sugar, and 1/2 Thai red chili de-seeded and very finely chopped.

Flushing, Queens Food Crawl

Yesterday, I got to take part in something that I’ve been dying to do for ages.  I went on a food/eating tour of Flushing, New York, a dynamic and diverse part of Queens.  What was nice was that I was part of a group of folks organized by the New York Social Network, so we had a good guide, and I got to check out what everyone else was eating as well.

After taking the #7 subway line all the way to its end, we exited onto the buzzing sidewalks of the neighborhood.  Our first stop was to check out the new mall and food court that opened up there.  From the moment you walk through the doors, you realize that this is going to be a complete cultural and sensory experience.

It is immediately clear that this is not your average American mall food court serving french fries, pizza, and sandwiches. There’s tables full of families slurping bowls of noodles and broth and eating plates of plump dumplings.   One of the more unique things to take in is the guys making hand-pulled noodles.  If you’ve never seen their magic, it is kind of cool to watch them take a ball of dough and with a few flips, twists, spins, and twirls make long gorgeous threads that will be someone’s meal.

We were just there, however, to stop off, check out the scene, and pick up a Bubble Tea.  A few folks in our group hadn’t had this before, so it was interesting to see their reaction to it.  Kung Fu Tea seems to be very popular, given the reviews I’ve read, and it certainly made some converts of people in our group.  Big black pearls of chewy tapioca hug the bottom of the glass of milky, sweet tea.  Sipping from a big fat straw helps bring them to the top and into your mouth.

We also paid a visit to J-Mart during our trip to the mall.  This is one place I need to come back to to get more of the ingredients I’ve been using lately in cooking Asian dishes.  It was amazing to see all the kinds of produce, fish, condiments, and prepared food products that they had there.

From the mall, we headed out onto the streets to start eating some of the local culinary offerings.  First stop was Corner 28 where we got Duck Wraps, a soft pillowy bun holding tender slices of duck, a dash of savory sauce, and crunchy sliced scallions.  I could have eaten several of these.

Then, we followed up with a hearty bowl from the same place filled with rice, chunks of chicken and roast pork, and tart greens.  The caramelized pork was soft and tender with just enough fat left on it to tame the bitterness of the greens.  The sweet, savory sauce over the rice perfumed the whole dish.  Each bite was just a a perfect harmony of flavors.  To the bottom right, there’s a piece of the scallion pancake that we shared.  It was crispy and fluffy and filled with oniony goodness.

Our next bites were of street meat.  I know, I know, I don’t normally condone sampling this, but Dave, our leader, was swearing that this was the best meat on a stick in the city, according to Yelp.  Sure enough, when I got home, I checked and found out that it was true.  Xinjiang BBQ Cart has rave reviews.  The Lamb I had was tender with a light smokey back note from the grill and a slight taste of some spice.

Our next destination was stop a visit to Vietnam and some Summer Rolls from Pho Hoang.  These ones were slightly different from my version in that they had noodles inside of them instead of the herbs and vegetables.  I think I preferred mine to these.  Oh, and a word of warning about that red sauce in the front of the photo; it is really hot, as Dave found out when he dumped a bunch of it on his roll and took a big bite.

We walked off some of our previous eats by heading to Nan Xiang Dumpling House, where we could sit down, drink some tea, and, of course eat dumplings. By the way, this is also a Michelin recommended restaurant as well.  I bet the tire guy has had a few of their dumplings on his trips to this part of town.

Before we dove into the main attraction, however, we started off with a cool, refreshing dish to keep our palates happy.  These peeled, seeded, sliced cucumbers were tossed with a little toasted sesame oil and crushed fresh garlic.  Chopped cilantro was sprinkled over it to finish up the salad.  This Cucumber-Garlic creation is definitely something I’ll keep in mind to make the next time I have an Asian-themed dinner party.

Have you ever tried Soup Dumplings?  I’m not sure if they are more of a New York thing, as I’d never had them until I moved here, and I grew up on a steady diet of Chinese food.  These are great to introduce people to as the chewy exterior dumpling is filled with meat and broth.  Think of it as inside-out wonton soup.  There is definitely a technique involved in getting them out of the steamer basket without puncturing them and in consuming them in such a manner as not to get soup splattered all over oneself.

We also tried their Vegetable Dumplings, which I could have had all to myself.  Filled with minced, well-seasoned greens, it was like salad met wrapper and they had a delicious child together.

Stuffed full of dumplings, we headed back towards the subway station and our return trips to our respective homes.  That was not before stopping off for dessert at Tai Pan Bakery.  Here they have a gorgeous display of colorful and diverse kinds of sweets.  I saw boxes with cakes being taken out of the shop while we were on line waiting for our turn to choose something.

What we were there for was their Custard Tarts.  They have a traditional Portuguese-style one, a regular egg custard, vanilla, almond, and, what I chose, coconut.  The tart was dense and rich without being overly sweet.  I think that it would be really fun sometime to get a tray with one of each flavor they carry and to try to figure out which one is a favorite.

I’m a big fan of getting to know a country and a culture through food so this was a great experience to have without needing to back a bag or to locate my passport.  It was wonderful to explore a neighborhood that is in my backyard, sort of, and to get to know what everyone has been raving about when they hang out in Flushing.  There is so much more to taste and to discover that I know that this will be one of many more trips to come.

Buon appetito!

Dave Cervini is the founder and owner of the New York Social Network.  I’ve been a member of it for several years and jumped on the chance to take this tour when I saw it on the calendar.  I paid my own way, as I do with all of his events, and the price for all of the food was included in the activity fee.  For information on upcoming activities as well as how you can join them, please check out his website at http://www.newyorksocialnetwork.com/.