Friday, September 27, 2013

Volunteering at the Vendy's involves mostly eating my heart out and loving every minute

The gang and I volunteered at the Vendys this year, the annual event celebrating both new and old New York food trucks in savory and sweet categories.  The event typically costs about $100, but in exchange for 5 hours of volunteering, you can have your free lot of all the food you can eat !  And with a good group of friends, the time goes by quickly (especially as people keep bringing you bites to eat throughout the day), and you get a chance to meet with all the gracious vendors.

My impossible regret is that I did not get to eat everything, but I managed a good bit !  Here's a few scenes of the food!

Cinnamon Snail - Long time Vegan favorite with super generous portions of everything.

The gang loved the BBQ seitan, grilled oyster mushrooms and lemongrass tempeh tacos.

I focused on their donuts of course: the Norberwieberberweiberhydrafab donut is indeed a mouthful to say and to eat: a white chocolate yeast glazed donut topped with bourbon hazelnut ganache.  It was a bit too sweet for my liking (the ganache an interesting texture),

but the real winner was the cranberry glazed cake donut.  Soft, spicy gingerbread wrapped in a tart cranberry glaze - oh, fall is upon us indeed !

Popsicles were offered by the adorably lime green Popitbaby.

Watermelon mint was a little icy, but crisp and refreshing.

Del's was servin' up small cups of their lemon slush.  It was cold and refreshing, but light on the lemon flavor.

King Souvlaki offered plates of rough cut fries, souvlaki, tomatoes and red onions.

The French Quarter had tastes of their gumbo and jambalaya - pretty good flavor, and made me miss New Orleans.

In addition to their delectable lobster rolls, Luke's Lobster was also offering grilled cheese lobster sandwiches.  Possibly weird, or maybe a beautiful duo that is meant to be together ! The bread was so crispy and not too buttery (but don't worry, there's definitely butter) since the warm cheese and lobster filling are plenty rich enough together.  Balanced goodness.

Since leaving Williamsburg, I haven't made it back yet to check out Oddfellow's eccentric ice cream flavors, so thank goodness they were at the Vendy's with two flavors: corn and peanut butter and jelly.  The latter was completely delicious.

Creamy smooth peanut butter flavor with speckles of sweet grape jelly.  So good !

Itizy is a new ice cream cart with a social mission: for every five scoops of ice cream it sells, it donates one school meal to a child in need.

I can get behind a mission like that.  The mint chocolate chip was very creamy with plenty of fine chocolate bits.

Here's a lady I saw while sitting at the merchandise table.  She does taxidermy.  She wore a chicken on her head, its claw at her throat and a fine scowl on her face.  I'm so out of touch with what's hip anymore.

Jamie brought us these delicious turkey pesto sandwiches from Molly's Milk Truck.  

The turkey is made in-house, and tastes SO good.  No salt is added to the turkey as its roasted, yet it has loads of flavor.  It's weird to say that this simple turkey sandwich might be one of my favorite bites of the whole day, but sometimes simplicity is all you need!

Like this donut truck that specializes in apple cider donuts that are fried fresh to order.  Yeah.  Your dreams just came true at Carpe Donut !!

The donut was so hot, it was burning in my hand as much as my patience was burning inside of me to eat it.  Luckily, a lifetime of eating piping hot pho has conditioned my mouth to eat extraordinarily hot things, and I absolutely inhaled this miracle of a donut within seconds - so light, fluffy and greaseless!  AND. I think their regular truck serves apple cider ice cream sandwiches.  Like. I seriously cannot deal with that right now (and I must eat it when I get back in town).

The Sweet Chili truck marries Vietnamese and Thai cuisine.  

We sampled the heavenly beef, a coriander marinated sirloin with Sriracha and Thai basil, as well as the sweet chili chicken.  The beef was pretty tasty with a nice, mild bit of heat.

My other favorite bite of the day came from a mustachioed New Jersey (!) truck called Tony Boloney's which is normally found around Atlantic City.

Atlantic City.  You know.  Where the debonair gentlemen look like this !

It was surprising to find that their Tikka Masala pizza, topped with squeaky paneer, was so delicious - sweet, creamy, and rich.  The pizza crust was thin but sturdy with a nice crisp base.  So delightful!

Their cheesesteaks were quite good also, with tender strips of beef enrobed in melted cheese on top of fluffy loaves.

Khao Man Gai served up their namesake dish which looked bland, but was deceivingly so!  The poached chicken was tender and moist and punched up with a beautiful, gingery fish sauce.  Unexpectedly good!

She wasn't expecting it either !

Bon Chovie was frying up plenty of head-on anchovies in a spiced aioli.  Yum!

I got my second slice of the day from Neapolitan Express, a beautiful truck with huge panes of glass showcasing the glossy pizza ovens inside.  The truck runs on compressed natural gas and serves only organic pizzas - so I guess you can reduce your carbon footprint by checking this baby out.

A slice of the di Parma was pretty solid - the sauce was bright and rich and I just love big toasted bubbles in Neapolitan pizza!

My last bite came from Liddabit Sweets, handing out little cups of butterscotch pudding topped with bourbon-bacon caramel corn.  The sweet and smoky popcorn was perfect, but the sandy texture of the pudding was a little off.

Looking at all this food in retrospect, I realize I look like an absolute slob, and I was!  A pleasantly (and maybe borderline uncomfortably) stuffed slob that discovered new favorite donuts in the city.  Carpe Donut might as well be my new life motto !

Han's Nonsensical Rating: Volunteering at the Vendy's is a unique and fully rewarding experience - I wish I could always be rewarded with endless amounts of tasty food for only a few hours of work.  

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Sticky Wings and Tasty Popcorn at Distilled

Distilled is such a trendy restaurant, buzzing with cool-looking folks, eating cool-looking food, drinking cool-looking drinks.  Somehow the boy and I found ourselves here recently, and we took some pointers on what to order based on Donuts's post.

What Katie did not tell us about was that the complimentary popcorn that is worth coming for alone.  Cause it's complimentary.  And it's popcorn that is airy and light, dusted with brewer's yeast, cumin and garlic, it was slightly sweet, soft on the palate, and delectable.

The cold broccoli salad with duck bacon was good, but I just don't understand why it has to be cold.  It'd be pretty amazing slightly warm? Loved the little honey roasted nuts though.

Platters of the gorgeous wings landed on every table.  The ultra-sticky gochujang glaze was sweet and pungent, the batter absolutely thick and crusty, and the chicken moist inside.  The half order came to about 8 drumettes and wings to a plate, however, the batter just felt too thick after awhile.  I know.  My jaw needs to work out more !

The boy had initially picked the restaurant thinking I would enjoy the country fried duck and waffle.  Oh, how he knows the way to my heart oh so well.

The waffle is more like a sponge, completely drowned in honey butter, with a crisp patty of duck confit on top.  The dish is best enjoyed all together, with the chili maple syrup poured all over, with each bite melding sweet and savory.

The ribs are incredibly tender, but too rich and salty to be enjoyed with just the watermelon.  On a bed of rice, the ribs might have fared a better chance, but it was too much for us this night, and we couldn't finish more than one.

For dessert, our helpful, hipster waiter told us there were just two worth mentioning, the s'mores, some deconstructed marvel, and the bread pudding, a newish offering spiced with nutmeg and cinnamon, topped with vanilla bean ice cream, and served with bourbon cherries (way boozy) and a blackberry compote.

While every part of me would usually go for the s'mores, we went for the bread pudding.

And it was really quite delicious - slightly eggy, warming, and so tasty with a drizzle of the blackberry compote.

Altogether, the meal was fairly satisfying, and I'd know how to better order next time, but for now, all I really need is that popcorn.

Han's Nonsensical Rating: They say the best things in life are free, and it is true. That popcorn is addictive stuff.

211 West Broadway
New York, NY

Distilled on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Veggie Galaxy

i'm not a vegetarian, but many people i love in life are, so once in a while, i get to (have to?) explore all-veggie restaurants. a few months ago, i went with payal and rachana (and our little brothers) to veggie galaxy in central square.

opened by the same folks as the more famous veggie planet in harvard square, veggie galaxy can be best described as a vegetarian diner (with vegan baked goods). i didn't try any of the baked goods, but all in the all the food was pretty tasty! and the menu is adorable.

i got the breakfast sandwich, which was amazing.

it's scrambled eggs, vermont sharp cheddar, baby arugula, and roasted garlic mayo on toasted sourdough. i know it's hard to mess up an egg and cheese sandwich, but this one was done RIGHT. i loved the uber-browning of the bread - made the sandwich extra flavorful with just enough crunch. the egg+cheese+mayo made a wonderful gooey combination.

payal got the mac n cheese, which was underwhelming.

it was a little too soupy for my taste, and definitely over-rosemaried.

the boys got burgers, and i will admit, i had no interest in trying them!

the boys approved nonetheless.

rachana got the beer battered house smoked tofu.

i did not love the tofu (too smoky for my taste), but the red cabbage slaw was PERFECTION. i don't usually like any sort of slaw, but this one was sooo good - slightly sweet, with a good crunch, in not too much mayo, and tasted almost asian. i thought i tasted hints of sesame oil - ymmmm. next time, i will definitely be ordering an extra side of this slaw.

but the fries? they would be much better without the rosemary.
so yes - herein lies veggie galaxy's problem, and it's really just my problem. i don't love rosemary enough to have it be in everything that i eat. at veggie galaxy, it feels like every dish is over-rosemaried. so much on my potatoes, so much on all the fries, and so much in payal's mac n cheese. just... too much rosemary in everything.

that said, if you DO love rosemary, head on over to veggie galaxy - the food is delicious enough for it to be visited by more than just vegetarians!

450 massachusetts avenue
cambridge, ma 02139
Veggie Galaxy on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 9, 2013

Montreal ! Farewell Lunch at Chalet BBQ

This meal is a shoutout to Belmund, who said Chalet BBQ was some of the best chicken he's ever had, so I saved this meal for our last bite before heading back to New York.

Now, I don't know about the chicken, but I will say, the chicken soup is some of the best I've had in a weird diner / restaurant.  At first glance, it resembles a can of Campbell's,

But inside, the shells are small and smooth, the stock is rich and balanced, and it was fully comforting.  I could easily eat this over and over again.

The leg quarter chicken plate comes jampacked with golden rotisserie chicken, handcut fries and toasted set of sandwich buns.

The chicken was moist, the skin sticky, and the fries were crisp and salty.  It was quite satisfying, but not a contender for the best !

Thanks for trying, Belly!

PS. Do not order the BBQ chicken sandwich.  Comes with an eerie ramekin of tainted BBQ sauce, or maybe that was just our luck.

Han's Nonsensical Rating: Chalet BBQ - surprisingly delicious chicken soup !

Chalet BBQ
5456 Sherbrooke St W Montreal, QC H4A, Canada
Chalet Bar-B-Q Rotisserie on Urbanspoon