Let me start by saying that the dish you see above is not an actual dish served at Billy Kwong, the Chinese-Australian restaurant in Sydney where I ate my first meal after the five hour flight from Perth. It’s a dish that the manager hastily assembled at the end of an incredible dinner (one shared with my old friend and neighbor, Ameer) to allow us to sample the various bugs used as garnishes and flavor-enhancers for a panoply of dishes we didn’t get to try. Do not, by any means, be scared off by that plate. Instead, let me seduce you with the food we did eat before we get back to the bugs at the end.
It’s not every day that you have your worst restaurant experience ever. Mine happened a few weeks ago, upon my return from Seattle and Cape Cod. Literally: it was my first meal back and the food gods rightly punished me for making a waste of it.
Park Slope has two sushi joints I frequent: one is Taro which, as I’ve said in the past, serves the best sushi in town. The other, ____, is far inferior; the salad a soupy mess, the sushi poorly executed and rarely ever fresh. Why, on my first day back, did I go to ____ over Taro for lunch? Because, I am embarrassed to admit, I was lazy. I was nearer to ____ at lunchtime than I was to Taro; so I went to _____. And, rightly, I was punished: but did the punishment fit the crime?
The other night, I made this mac and cheese out of Zingerman’s Guide to Good Eating:
It’s a fine mac and cheese, if not the best I’ve ever had. I used aged American Cheddar, as the book’s author recommends, but the application of onions, garlic and wine didn’t really have a big payoff. The first bite was blah, though it got better as we ate it (we being Craig, myself and a visiting Diana). Knowing I was serving such a heavy, gloppy dinner I wanted to serve a little salad on the side. So I bought a carton of arugula and a lemon: I’d dress the arugula with lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper–that’d be it.
Only, when I went to open the arugula a little something caught my eye. See if it catches your eye too…