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Archive for the ‘Stores’ Category

purple yam bread (purple, lower right corner)

Because I’m holed up most of the time in a kitchen creating foods under someone’s direction and eating meals made by someone else, I rarely have the time to eat meals that I have full control of. When I do, I spend a lot of time—almost too much, one may say—weighing whether I should eat something I’ve eaten before or seek new tastes, and whether this new or old edible means I should buy or cook. Yesterday after a trip to Sripraphai in Queens to scratch an itch for Thai (old, seeking memory), we walked to Phil-Am market (new to us), a store selling goods from the Phillippines, and found this bread above, called ube ensaymada. I immediately reached for it, because it’s familiar; my mother, a nurse, often brought these home, given to her by her Filipino colleagues. I remembered its sweet, cheesy fluffy-ness, when as a teenager I would eat the loaves without knowing or caring what was in them. It was, simply, good.

Different story now! I took care to note, that the label says it’s a brioche, which I didn’t know 14 years ago. It also has ube, purple yam, which is probably good for you if it’s not doused with artificial coloring (other ensaymadas had coloring, which we eschewed). The cheese is actually monterey jack; I don’t know why exactly monterey jack, except that it’s probably one of the milder cheeses that won’t upset the sweet to cheesy balance, and the topper you see that the brioche is slathered with is probably margarine, not the butter—both are listed, but the former probably performs better with a higher melting point, if any. The whole equation, as my other noted, tastes “like a Danish,” sans the shape of a jam or cheese-filled nest or bear claw.

Still, re-jiggered memories, however picked over and made not as fun, are delicious, as are new tastes, like purple yam, that you might file away for your next, precious, short days off.

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Cheese slicer

Cheese slicer

Coming to you from Broadway Panhandler in the fall. How adorable.

Also, this is ingenious! If I only had a nickel for every time I bemoaned getting Martha Stewart’s rectangular cake caddy, because the shape is so limiting…

Why didn't someone think of this before??

Why hadn't someone thought of this before??

Plus, oven mitts that had first lives as sweaters. Whether they were cozy or itchy as hell, we will never know…but how functional now!

Oven mitts made from recycled sweaters

Oven mitts made from recycled sweaters

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Oh, the promise of snacktime

Oh, the promise of snacktime

We were in NJ on Saturday en route to visiting family, so we stopped at the giant Wal-Mart-ish Korean food shopping complex in Ridgefield, NJ, called Hmart. A smaller outpost is right smack in the middle of 32nd Street, but this sprawling market is no joke. You want a trip back to your motherland down some food aisles? You’ll take it and you’ll like it.

Above are stacks of Choco Pies, which are treats comprised of two chocolate-covered cake discs smooshing some chewy marshmallow in the middle. I could once hoover up boxes of them, and deservingly, I was quite the tubby child as a result.

Or Oh No, depending on your diet

Or Oh No, depending on your diet

I’ve had Oh Yeses before, but I don’t remember them clearly. On the Haitai website, it’s positioned as a direct competitor to Choco Pies, which is made by Orion: “Unlike The Dry and Hard Choco Pie, The Soft Cake and Chocolate Cream Softly Melts in Your Mouth.” Sounds titillating.

There are lots of little stations set up with workers hawking items for tasting: fish of the week, snacks, and drinks. Below are some pomegranate drinking vinegars (the two bottles on the left), and a persimmon vinegar (on the right) I picked up for the rhubarb pickle recipe. Generally speaking, Koreans form a big market for interesting health remedies, so I think the drinking vinegars are pitched as some sort of detoxifying tonic or a weight-loss aid, but it is also pretty tasty, health claims aside (but not exactly healthy; the label lists high-fructose corn syrup as an ingredient, albeit close to the end). Mix some of the drinking vinegar with some seltzer, and you have an imitation kombucha sans the lactobacilli.

vinegars

The most exciting and heart-stopping part was when we came upon this machine below, which makes slightly-sweet puffed rice discs. The metal device spins out the rice puff, and when it does, it makes an explosive (!!!) pop, literally like a gunshot, and the rice disc hits the plexiglass and chills out until it gets packaged and finds a home in a happy tummy.  I regret not taking a video to amuse you readers—total blog fail! Next time.

This machine will scare any hiccups right out

This machine will scare any hiccups right out

Hmart is located on 321 Broad Ave, Ridgefield, NJ; 201-943-9600. In K-town, it’s at 25 w. 32nd Street; 212-695-3283. And of course(!) there’s one in Flushing: 29-02 Union St.; 718-445-5656.

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…we ended up with two bags of paratha, one box of Indian mangoes ($30/box this year, yeesh), and this drink made with basil seeds, which I don’t recommend, but maybe it’s an acquired taste/texture? The experience was what I imagined drinking tadpoles would be like. [Shudder.]

Don't drink it in the dark, you'll be in for a surprise

Don't drink it in the dark, you'll be in for a surprise

This 35-minute subway ride also took me back to a dorm in the South Side of Chicago, many moons ago. My lovely roommate, who was part of the South Asian Student Association in college, once brought home one of those giant rectangular aluminum tin trays filled with sugar syrup-soaked fried dough balls, or gulab jamuns, after an event. I grew fond of them quite quickly, and dutifully helped her finish off the tray over a couple of weeks. Or was it days?

These guys helped me study

These guys helped me study

I didn’t have my camera at the store, but we had a good laugh peeking into the freezer case at frozen paratha with the Pillsbury Dough Boy on the packaging (a Flickr photo here). Into what corners of the world hasn’t the dough boy oozed? And it looked white and paunchy as ever, not transformed into a South Asian alter ego, though that would do little to undo any colonial history. And who the heck buys Pillsbury paratha?? Can it be tastier than the ones made locally by a hard-working baker with native street cred?  Please report if you have tasted it.

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