Sunday, February 6, 2011

Gong Hey Fat Choy

Long time no blog has become smog; a sleeping log; a hibernating blob. Time to get get off the couch of inactivity and get back to my table of contents with gusto! Excuses? I have a few: Christmas; seasonal sickness; Stonecrop Wines; milestone birthday to consider.......however the Winter has kept me (and my fellow Montaukers) housebound for weeks on end and add to that a shin splint......the ideal conditions for writing a post or two, you would think.

So here goes with the first of 2011. I was fortunate enough to celebrate Chinese New Year with friends at Ping's Seafood Restaurant in Chinatown, the entire menu was selected by Kev and Viv and we were seated at two huge round tables with about 12 people at each. Plate after plate of delectable dishes kept on coming, it was noisy and busy and it was a wonderful feast! I had the privilege of sitting next to one of the menu makers which made the evening's dining even more special.

My family has a long tradition of celebrating Chinese New Year sometimes at restaurants in London but more often it would be spectacular banquets at my friend Cheng's house in Wivenhoe. Major birthdays were also celebrated at Chinese restaurants such as my 18th when I choked on a mouthful of Blue Nun, in those days it was the only wine you could find in a Chinese restaurant. Going to see a film (we never said movie) at the Odeon in Colchester followed by a meal at the Lotus House just down the hill was an exciting night out for two young gals from Wivenhoe, we always had the sweet and sour pork balls, shrimp toasts, beef chow mein and a shrimp chop suey. I learned how to use chopsticks at the Lotus House at age thirteen, the music was exotic and the wallpaper flocked, the waiters always outnumbered the diners and wore ill-fitting suits, I don't believe it's there now but I can still hear us (me and my childhood friend Jackie) laughing and crunching on prawn crackers. Then there was the run up the hill to get the last bus home.

When I lived in London we (me and NZ'er) used to go to Wong Kei (we naughtily called it the Wonkey) for the best wonton noodle soup and a heavy helping of abuse from the waiters, for a romantic dinner we would go to Cheng Du in Camden but one of my favorites was a tiny place on Lisle Street (one of the most deliciously curvy streets in London) it was the most uninviting looking restaurant; spartan with hostile lighting and awkwardly arranged tables, there was always much screeching of chairs as people would try and 'fit' in, but the food was excellent and I swear every time I went there to dine David Yip (The Chinese Detective) was also there (a very good series by the way) I cannot remember the name of this place with the harsh lights and the orange slices at the end of the meal, but I fear a gastropub may have taken its place.

Chinatown New York; I love it, I get my bok choy and choy sum at the very end of Elizabeth Street and when they have pea shoots (dou miao) I rather greedily load up on them. Then I head to Dynasty to get my udon noodles and whatever else grabs my fancy, sometimes I can linger/loiter for too long in the spice section.......the privet berries have me thinking.

Run rabbit run!