Category: Dining Out
One more week to go, and I'm feeling a bit deflated. "Time" had been a big factor in my very first extended vacation. For months, I was so looking forward to it, I was counting days until July. Customers were shocked everytime I mentioned that I was closing for a month. Then since I got here, I kept reminding myself how many days were left. I wish I could handle this time issue better- I think it's taking half of the fun out of the whole experience.
We finally went to check out this joint on Main Street "Rock Da Pasta." Everytime we drove by, Taiyo would chant "Rock Da Pasta! Rock Da Pasta!" although I was never sure if he knew my favorite Clash song. As we walked into the little funky joint, I felt like I was time warped to good old East Village. It was exactly like what we used to have around East Village- like 20 years ago. There were bar stools made with old guitars. Fun and funky, totally unpretentious but with theme and belief. Ceiling was adorned with vinyl records. Under glass tabletops were torn paper napkins with short messages and passages by people who passed through there. Menu was original and rather ambitious, with dishes named after rock stars and iconic classic songs. The dishes were also grouped with such terms like "Opening Acts" or "Headliners." Taiyo of course would go for simple "Spaghetti with Grateful Red Sauce" and I decided on "Pesto Palooza," which was described as "this festival of lime chicken artichoke hearts, red pepper coulis & cilantro pesto takes center stage over penne, armed up with fresh avocado and balsamic vinegar reduction." Doesn't it sound crazy? Many dishes sounded kind of crazy and this one really made me wonder how it tastes like. It was surprisingly delicious. We both liked the food. Taiyo also loved the garlic bread and he snatched half of mine too. Our waiter was also sweet and I truly enjoyed my time-trippy meal. Sun in low western sky was filling the dining room with amber light, adding to my nostalgic feeling.
The month is already at mid-point and of course I'm not as much done as I wanted but we surely having lots of fun adventures! Over the weekend we made it up to one of the crag of Shawangunk Mountains. We didn't try the challenging vertical ascent on the rocks- the family we passed by told us, "I've seen 7-8 year-old climb up." But I didn't want to get stuck in the middle, so we hiked around to the top, which was fairly steep toward the end. Then we were rewarded with stunning views!
I was just reading about these wild edibles in local publication, and I decided to give it a try. Yes, these are wild edible weed, small succulent purslane and clover-like wood sorrel, and that can be commonly found around house. Yes, I found them around the house and they are even packed with nutrients. But when I began harvesting I quickly realized that they are so small it's time consuming to collect enough to amount to a 'dish.' So I just sprinkled them over my salad, and except visually, they didn't add too much to it. So my beautiful lunch today was salad with lettuce, pickled radish, cucumber, and these cute wild edibles, and soba noodle with pesto, topped with fish flakes (most everything taste better with fish flakes, in my opinion, and the dish suddenly turns Japanese) and red pickled ginger.
We have spent already 1/3 of our time here and feels like we are just settling down. The other day we visited the sculpture garden at Unison Arts Center just down the road from us. It was a nice quiet place in the woods and we explored newly installed works. He read most of the titles himself.
Today we crossed the bridge over to Poughkeepsie. Coming from this side where it's mostly farmland and mountains around us, busy large chain store lined highway in Poughkeepsie suddenly made me feel like we were in New Jersey all of a sudden. We were heading to his favorite trampoline place "Bounce!" I wanted to save it for a bad weather day, but he kept begging to go- we were there when we spent the New Year vacation up here. And that time it was packed and we had to wait for a while for his jump time. So this time I called ahead and the girl on the phone said, "oh, you don't need a reservation. Just come in." It was true. It was almost totally empty. There were only three of them in the Jr. area that was for 5 and under. So Taiyo had a quality jumping time to workout a serious sweat. He fell asleep in less than a minute when we got in the car and I changed the plan to hit Balloon Festival. Maybe tomorrow.
The deck quickly heats up in the sun, so I decided to set up my workstation under the big maple tree. It gives me a perfect shade and plenty of fresh air, but I realized that I have to get used to all kinds of tiny insects landing on my arms, notebooks, and laptop. Aside from the tiny creatures, I'm enjoying in the yard watching butterflies dance and birds dive into the yard for their prey. This morning after dropping off Taiyo at Phillies Bridge Farm for his summer camp day 1, I enjoyed running along quiet and shady Wallkill Valley Rail Trail which runs nearby. I ran through farm lands, with chipmunks, birds and rabbits.
Not very Hudson Valley lunch today except the scallions - Cold udon with avocado, topped with grated ginger and garlic, chopped scallions, ponzu and sesame oil to finish.
This year I decided to make a bold move and take a month (and a change) off from SOY. We came up to New Paltz to experience country life. I'm already super inspired to cook up new and familiar dishes with fresh local produce from this lovely region. Besides working on my cook book, my theme for the month is "Eating Hudson Valley Japanese Style," with Japanese flavors and/or our often simple techniques to enjoy seasons.
Yesterday morning I picked some fresh kale from the backyard and made a salad for breakfast. Quick blanching made the crunchy leaves softer and also took much of bitterness out. Then I topped with wakame seaweed, pine nuts, fish flakes and dressed lightly with ponzu.
After a quick hike in the Mohonk Mountain House up the road, I picked up beautiful local produce at Wallkill View Market- beets, arugula, peaches, tomatoes, zucchini, basil and even a gorgeous pot of cheery tomato in a basket, which now hangs in my country kitchen.
And here's the dinner. Not very Japanese but very simple and flavorful. Chicken stock base soup with rice noodles, tomato, napa, egg, and basil. Salt and pepper sufficed to finish. I baked the rolls too!
First day of spring was celebrated with snow. It's been still hats-and-gloves days but the sun is definitely getting stronger. With daylight savings time, a day is remarkably longer, too. I'm so looking forward to seeing some flowers around soon. We'll be greeted by cherry blossoms in Japan in two weeks- I'm taking Taiyo home for the first time over his spring break. It's my first visit in six years. Today he came home with a little drawing for me. "Mommy, mommy, I made something for you." It's a drawing of flowers and two stick figures-one tall, and one small- holding hands. And it says; "I love you and I mist you." It's just the cutest thing. Venus and the crescent moon with delicate curve were together high in the twilight last night when we went out for ice cream. Double scoop in a cone with colorful sprinkle on top was definitely the high moment of the weekend for Taiyo. It's amazing how much happiness that fat ice cream cone brings for a child.
It was "Mid-Winter Break" from school for Taiyo. We briefly escaped brutal northern weather and found ourselves in milder climate of South Carolina. We landed in Savannah, Georgia, then drove to Hilton Head Island, which was mostly occupied with golf courses and old people. It was chillier than I hoped it to be, but at 50 degrees it still felt like spring. If we saw the sun it would've been much nicer! But in this little trip we were welcomed by gloomy gray sky. Yet we walked on the beach, dipped in outdoor pool at the hotel, and had lots of bad pizza, Taiyo's primary diet. Taiyo ate most of them happily, although they were pretty bad in my opinion, even at the 'New York style pizza' restaurant. One pizza he really couldn't handle was kid's meal at Crazy Crab restaurant- well, it looked really bad and I didn't want to taste it. Kids meals are usually pretty bad in any restaurant- they look horrible and taste cheap, but somehow kids usually dig it and it's a bit cheaper than regular plates. My plate was also bad at this touristy joint. Taiyo had the best time at "Sandbox," a cute little children's museum housed in a little house. I loved walking around at Coastal Discovery museum under trees draped with Spanish moss. It was quite enchanted scenery and atmosphere down there. Next time I would love to visit Savannah, or Charleston, I was thinking on our flight back north. "When are we ever gonna go to a same vacation?" Taiyo asked me. "I don't know," I said, "There's so many places to see!"