A great day w/friends (& RF) in Queens, NY!
I've been spreading the Roadfood word to many of my friends and some of them have really taken to it. My friend's Doug and Marisa took me out for a fun filled day in Forest Hills/Woodside (Queens), NY for my birthday recently and it was a pretty amazing day indeed! I took the E train from 42nd Street to Continental and 71st Avenue, then walked a few blocks to the neighborhood of Forest Hills Gardens. If you're ever in the area, it's a really beautiful neighborhood to walk through. It starts at a brick courtyard/square area and it's hard to believe one is in a major urban area. Lovely homes, yards, old style street signs. For me, it is reminiscent somewhat of the Brookline area near Boston. If you've ever spent time in the Allston/Brighton area, it is teeming with BU and BC students, but just go 3-4 blocks off of Commonwealth Ave. (near Pleasant St. or Babcock and it's like a whole different world. Very relaxing to stroll through there. So, D & M picked me up and upon arriving back at M's apartment, I realized just how much they are into peanut butter. They are both big fans of Peanut Butter & Co. here in NYC and we started out the festivities with some homemade Peanut Butter & Jelly Cupcakes that they made from the Peanut Butter & Co. cookbook. Let me tell you something about these cupcakes: they blew everything I've ever had out of the water!! These were super moist with lots of very rich peanut butter frosting. The jelly inside was strawberry, I think, and paired very nicely with the cake and the frosting. A real surprise and bonus (in my book), was the cupcake top. It had a different texture than the rest of the cupcake, similar to that of a muffin top.. Like Elaine Benes said in Seinfeld, "It's got it's own thing going on". And it really worked!! Top of the muffin, er, cupcake, to ya!! Here they are, all lit up.
Doug & Marisa
Getting ready to make my wish... with my Frank Pepe's t-shirt from the CT RF trip the day before!
My cupcake cut in half. Isn't that just beautiful?
Another shot of baked goodness. I have to say that as much as I loved Hill Country's PB&J cupcake, I didn't love the $6 price tag. And while Hill Country has that slick, coiffed pompadour of frosting on top, D & M's were far superior, or if you'll allow me to paraphrase once again from Mr. Jules Winnifield, "Doug and Marisa's cupcakes have got a better personality, personality goes a long way". Indeed!
D & M were at the Red Arrow Diner in Manchester, NH not long ago and they brought me back a "Dinah Finger and a Whoopie Pie". Two truly thoughtful people who know what I like. I indulged in them a bit this morning and they were great. I can only imagine what they must taste like at the source!
Part of my birthday present was this gift set consisting of two cookbooks (see below)
They also included two jars of homemade jam that Marisa's mom had made. Can't wait to try them out. They also packed 4 jars of PB & Co. peanut butter to go with my jam. I'll be set for quite some time! On a side note, I was eating some of the Mighty Maple PB yesterday and I'll be darned if it doesn't taste just like a Mary Jane candy!
We made plans to eat at a Thai restaurant in Woodside, Queens that I have been hearing about for years and really wanted to try. Sripraphai, 64-13 39th Avenue Woodside, NY 11377. Phone number 718-899-9599 open 11:30 am to 10:00 pm (closed Wednesdays). Thanks for indulging me, Doug! A shot of my Thai ice tea. Really great tea infused with some spices and made utterly delightful with the addition of sweetened milk. Very refreshing.
This is the companion picture menu, which I thought was extemely helpful. I like Thai, but don't eat it very often and I'm not very knowledgeable about the different dishes. This menu has item numbers that correspond to the same numbers in the regular menu. So if something sounds good in the regular menu, I can take a look at it and get a better idea of it's presentation. For example, most fish dishes are served whole and "head on". Good to know.
We started with the Thai Buffalo Wings ($6.50 #A-21 in the Appetizer section) which didn't have anything to do with traditional buffalo style, but had a wonderful (5 spice?) on them and were moist and meaty. I love the presentation. It reminded me of some recipes for Vietnamese beef dishes I'd read about in Steven Raichlen's "The Barbecue Bible". Mexico and some other Latin American countries have tacos, the U.S. has wraps, and it seems that certain Asian countries have lettuce cups/wraps, which I think is an inspired deal. What we did was take the lettuce leaves, put in some peanuts, a slice of ginger, some very tiny bits of the Thai bird chiles and the meat we removed from the wings, wrap it up and it was an amazing symphony of tastes and textures: spicy, savory, hot, cool, crisp, crunchy, moist. I could eat that every day. I'd like to try a non-meat version of that. I bet it'd be pretty good. The only downside for me were the chiles. I'll try anything hot, but as the years march on, I find that I don't have the intestinal fortitude for heat that I once had. Or to put it bluntly, the old grey mare ain't what he used to be! I actually thought I might be sick from that much heat. And I didn't eat a whole chile, I just snipped off 3 tiny bits from the one you see in the picture. Well, they say that the smaller the chile, the hotter it is, and they were right in this case.
Our beef satay. This was just okay. I found the beef to be somewhat tough and stringy and the peanut sauce was a bit oily...
...however, it worked really well together in the lettuce leaves.
Our sauteed Chinese Broccoli with crispy pork. This was one amazing dish! The broccoli was slightly bitter and reminiscent of the Italian broccoli rabe. The crispy pork was more like cracklins to me. Not really much meat, but mostly pork skin and some pork fat. This is a good thing. It had the right amount of fattiness, crispiness, porkiness and saltiness and it just made perfect sense with the broccoli. It had softened a tad being sauteed (I think) with the broccoli, so it wasn't overly crackly as some pork skin can be. Highly recommend this dish. $7.50. #C-10 on the a la carte section of the menu.
Our coconut rice. Sweet, sticky and perfectly paired with our main dish in the next photo.
Our curry rice noodles with coconut milk (with chicken). ($7.00 #N-7 in the Noodles section). I LOVE curry!! This was addictive and spicy, curry, rice noodles, coconut milk, chicken, tofu, bean sprouts, a hard boiled egg, cilantro and ground peanuts. So many flavors going on in this dish and over the coconut rice, I was in heaven!
Outside the restaurant. The only thing I forgot was to get a picture of the refrigerated case by the door with all sorts of prepared food with ingredients and varieties the likes of which i had never seen before. I'd love to get a bunch of them with some friends and just sample and critique one day and learn something new. Maybe even find a new taste that I love.
After our delightful Thai meal, we wound our way to Eddie's Sweet Shop. 105-29 Metropolitan Avenue (between 72nd Avenue and 72nd Road) Forest Hills, NY 11375 Phone number 718-520-8514. No website. Open Tue-Fri 1pm-11:30 pm Sat-Sun 12pm-11:30 pm. This place has been around for about 99 years and Doug told me about it the last time he was in town and said I just had to try it.
They make their own ice cream and have got tons of Hummel figurines in cases in the shop. Not sure what that is all about (maybe they were a toy/collector shop too at one point). The place could be a little bit cleaner, but not a big deal.
The whipped cream in the refrigerated case. I had to get a shot of this as it reminded me of the big bowl of "schlag" at Peter Luger's.
I think these stools where we sat have been here since the beginning. Not the most comfortable, but they look great.
Sorry, this is the best shot I could get of the register. This is actually a working register!
They use Horlicks Malted Milk Powder, which I was very pleased to discover.
A shot of the interior.
Marisa's Tutti Frutti sundae with marshmallow sauce. I don't know what to make of this ice cream. It didn't have a distinct flavor. Is Tutti Frutti supposed to taste like anything in particular?
Doug's Butter Pecan sundae with caramel sauce. I didn't try this, but I think it's tops on my list for my next visit.
I had planned to get the same size as D & M, (no, really, I did!). So I asked for a two scoop sundae of vanilla ice cream with hot fudge, marshmallow sauce and some Horlicks sprinkled on top. He brings out this Barry Bonds-sized monster, upon which I hung my head (almost in defeat) trying to figure out how to tackle this. The ice cream was verrry good, creamy, good vanilla flavor, the hot fudge was good, but it could have been hotter and I do prefer Ghirardelli's fudge over most others. The marshmallow sauce here is a must have! Reminded me of the marshmallow sauce I had at the Sugar Bowl in Scottsdale, AZ. Oh, the ooey-gooey goodness of it all! The malt powder clumped up as I had hoped, just like it does in the silver beakers of so many malteds I've imbibed in days gone by. Sadly, even with D & M's assistance, only half of this was consumed. But what a half it was!!! Dayna, Doug and Marisa, thank you all for making this such a wonderful birthday weekend for me!!!!!