Meet your new favorite weeknight dinner. It asks only a few things of you: that you have a cluster of esoteric ingredients on hand (chili paste, rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil), and also a few familiar ones (ginger, soy sauce, peanut butter). It asks you to boil water and to blend things up in your blender. But approximately 20 minutes after you start, you’ll have the plate of food that you see above and, on a hot summer’s eve, you’ll find that very satisfying.
I recently read an interview with my favorite food writer, Calvin Trillin, in which he said that when guests come to town, he walks them from Greenwich Village (where he lives) to Chinatown. Since I live in Greenwich Village, and since Saturday was beautiful and Craig was busy editing, I decided to follow Trillin’s lead and to walk to Chinatown myself. Granted, I had a leg up on the Trillin walk to Chinatown because once, as part of The New Yorker Festival, I attended Calvin Trillin’s “Come Hungry” tour (an event that sells out faster than you can blink) in which he leads hungry New Yorker readers on a walk from–you guessed it–Greenwich Village to Chinatown. So this was a walk I felt confident taking.
When going to lunch with a James Beard award winner, it’s best to let them choose the venue.
Such was the case when I had lunch with Rachel Wharton last week. I first met Rachel years ago when she profiled me for The Daily News and we ate lunch at S’Agapo in Queens. I thought Rachel was one of the quirkiest and most spirited food writers I’d ever met and also one of the hardest working. Now her hard work has paid off: she won the 2010 James Beard award for her “Back of the House” columns that appear in Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan, beating out luminaries like Colman Andrews and Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl in the food-related column category.
Which is all to say that Rachel really was the one to choose where we’d eat lunch when the lunch date we’d planned arrived last week. I pitched Chinatown and sure enough Rachel came back with a James Beard Award-worthy response: “Excellent Pork Chop House.”
Bow down before me, mortals, it’s time to face facts. David Chang is one of the most celebrated, important chefs in New York, right? Right. His cooking is hardcore and bad-ass isn’t it? It is. So what does it mean that a mere amateur like me, a tiny speck on the giant tapestry of New York gastronomy, not only created one of Chang’s signature dishes at home–his Ginger Scalllion Noodles–but that I did it so accurately? So triumphantly? So magnificently? It means, I surmise, that I am the King of Awesomeness! BOW DOWN BEFORE ME, YOU HEATHENS.