Whilst en route to Chinatown we happened upon a few Steve Madden outposts in SoHo. I was giddy as a schoolgirl because I LOVE Steve Madden shoes. Yes, he makes men’s shoes and no, I’m not gay. Can’t you tell by the way I live/write/roll that I have an eagle talon-sharp sense of fashion? Hell yeah I do. So I picked up a nice new pair of brown boots for $99 marked down from $149. Score! Soon after we broke into Chinatown and I spotted Teariffic Café on Mott Street.
I told the ladies that it looked like a good place to get their bubble tea fix, so we headed and inside and after verifying that they took to-go orders, placed our order. I wasn’t ordering one for myself, those things are quite filling, but I gladly sipped off of theirs. The Mrs. went with Almond, K ordered a bubble tea without flavoring, and after pointing out the fact that they had sesame on the menu, R went with that.
There were complaints that the bubble tea without flavoring didn’t taste like anything, but I wasn’t sure how to judge it since I’ve never had one straight-up like that. Soo… I was handed the sesame while R excused himself to the restroom, bad idea.
I took one sip and that immediately turned into about a third of his beverage. This was my first encounter with actual black sesame seeds ground up in the tea, and I loved it. It added a chewy texture that confused the mouth on whether to gulp or bite. I could see that this texture isn’t for everyone, but I loved it. The beverage was creamy with a strong tea flavor, and the boba was perfectly al dente with a nice bite, yielding to a perfectly soft center. One of the best bubble teas I’ve had (which in my very limited chain/shopping mall experience with the drink doesn’t really say much.)
We walked as we sipped, and after wrestling with my walking directions on my POS iphone, we finally got to the block where Xi’an was supposedly located. It wasn’t until after R asked someone that we found the stall around the corner from the address posted on their website. I flashed a quick storefront photo and clamored inside, as the rain was really starting to pick up. There was another couple eating at the one solitary metal counter, but by the time we placed our order they were walking out the door--we didn’t have to eat our noodles in the rain.
I suggested we get two dishes to share, so we ordered the Spicy Cumin Lamb Hand-ripped Noodles to accompany our Liang Pi. Those two dishes along with a Diet Coke for R came out to only $11. Ya gotta love Chinatown. Unfortunately I didn’t whip my camera out in time to catch the woman behind the counter slapping out the noodles, but it truly was an interesting method to behold. She stretched the dough balls out over the counter, slapped them up and down a few times like a jump rope and spun around and threw them into the pot.
I turned around to chat with my travel buddies and the next thing I knew our food was up. Take a look at these two plates of noodly goodness:
The Liang Pi was just as good as we’d had in Flushing a few years back.
It tasted more buttery and a little less bitter/acidic, but that didn’t hamper it’s utter addictiveness. A truly unique and tasty dish. But the lamb noodles stole the show. I guess it’s not unsurprising that I loved this dish, being a huge fan of all things cumin and lamb, but, damn it was good.
I liked the irregularity of the hand-pulled noodles, they added a very rustic feel. The spice level was perfectly balanced, enhancing the other flavors instead of masking them, and the abundance of smoky cumin really brought it up to another level. My only complaints were that it was just a touch too oily for my taste, and the lamb really could’ve been any mystery meat as any actual gamey lamb flavor was masked by the other powerful ingredients. This was my overall favorite dish of the day.
I was amused that one member of our party has an extreme aversion to spicy food, but she found that she simply couldn’t stop eating these two dishes, no matter how much her tongue and lips burned. A testament to just how good they really are. Not to mention cheap!
Unfortunately this is when the weather really turned to shit. I could barely understand my voice memos taken outside Xi’an due to the whipping wind and pelting rain. We scrambled for a cab, but when our efforts proved fruitless we made a beeline for the East Broadway metro station. It was 4pm and I wanted to get to Paulie Gee’s when he opened his doors at 6pm, so we had ample time to stop by Barcade for a beer or three.
As I’ve noted in the past, Barcade is definitely one of my favorite bars in New York City, simply because of the genius combination of a great beer list paired with old school arcade games. If only they had some of the classics from my heyday like the 3 screen X-Men, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or The Simpsons, it would be truly epic indeed. Nonetheless, first and foremost we were there for beers. Unfortunately, they only had one bartender working (we asked the other guy behind the counter for a beer list and he simply said gruffly “I’m not a bartender,”) and the place was relatively busy, which I account to the shitty weather conditions, so ordering a beer proved to be a lengthy endeavor.
Eventually I chose the Brooklyn Brewery Main Engine Start which was a 6% abv Belgian Pale Ale out of Brooklyn (duh), which proved to be too light and watery, with that band-aidy flavor that I can’t stand.
Once again, R one-upped me with his choice of the Smuttynose Barleywine 10% abv from New Hampshire. I’d never come across a barleywine I cared for, but this just so happened to be the first. It was quite delicious with a very strong chocolate aroma that R couldn’t stop raving about after I pointed it out to him. It had a little citrus, and a little pine. My mouth is watering right now just remembering it. One positive about my beer was that it went down in a matter of seconds and after spending another 10 minutes trying to get the bartenders attention, I ordered a glass of barleywine for myself and sauntered on over to the games.
It was at this point that the urge to make peace with the porcelain gods hit, so I grabbed my PSP from my bag, because it knew it was going to be a doozy. Well a little while later I emerged semi-victorious and realized that it was about time to head up to Greenpoint. I’d only taken a few sips from my lovely BW so I manned up and downed the thing. Thus, the beginning of the end.
As we got off the G train at Greenpoint Avenue I noticed it was only 5:45, but I knew the best way to kill a few minutes, why more beer of course! We walked into Brouerij Lane and it was just as laidback and awesome as my last visit. These were my type of people. Not only did they sell a huge variety of beers, they also had a fairly large line of taps and are very generous with the free samples (chatting them up about beer and travel helps!) If I had a place like this around here, I would most certainly be an alcoholic.
I noticed they had a ‘Dry Chipped’ Stone Oak Aged Arrogant Bastard so I inquired as to what the difference is between that and the one I tried earlier. He said that they apparently steep oak chips into the beer itself to add an even more profound oak flavor. I felt that this really made the beer great, rounding out some of the pineyness to a more manageable level while adding a veritable sledge hammer of oak woodiness. Now this, I could get down with. We couldn’t help but notice the extensive lineup of Pretty Things brews they had on tap. Apparently they just hosted some sort of beer event there (around this time the barleywine started to kick in, blurring some of the finer details of the evening) so R decided we should try their Fluffy White Rabbits a hoppy Belgian tripel at 8.5% abv out of Cambridge, MA.
It was “light, smooth, and delicious” according to my slightly slurred voice memo. Yep, that’s all I got. If I ever decided to drop everything and move to New York City I would probably want to live in Greenpoint. I mean with this place and Paulie Gee’s within walking distance, what more could I ask for?
As we quaffed our brews the ladies moseyed on down the street to see about getting us a table. Apparently there wasn’t a wait as I got a text almost immediately after to hurry on down as we were being seated. We ordered a glass of Gragnano for myself and R, and we convinced the Mrs. to try a Mexican Coke so we could compare it to K’s regular Coke.
There was most certainly a difference, albeit a negligible one, so I really don’t get what all the fuss is about. Coke is freakin’ Coke. I ordered the Greenpointer with prosciutto, having really enjoyed it last time. The Mrs. went with her standard Regina, R fell in love after he read the description for the Baconmarmalade Picante, and, keeping in line with her love of ricotta, K went with the In Ricotta Da Vita.
Unfortunately, the quality of my voice memos rapidly declined, and by 6:30 my ass was to’ up. Don’t believe me? Here’s my first (rambling, drunken) voice memo:
“Okay. The Greenpointer with prosciut was good, but the In Ricotta Da Vita and the Baconmarmalade just killed it. They killed it! They fuckin’ killed it. The Regina was good as well, but again, the best pizzas on the table were those two. They blew it out of the fucking water. They’re so good. Those two pizzas win. Everybody’s having a good time. I’m slightly drunk, so I’m sorry if this voice memo makes no fucking sense. Big, big titties!”
See what I have to work with? I sometimes tack on something random at the end of a memo to make myself laugh when I go to blog about it. This was no exception.
I do remember the urge to wrap myself up in a cocoon of that crust. Goddamn, it was pretty much perfect. Charred and slightly dusty perfection. I did note that the Gragnano went really well with the Baconmarmalade Picante. Apparently my drunken ass thought the caramelized onion flavor really paired well with the beverage. I have no idea how or why the order for the Baconmarmalade (getting sick of typing that) Sundae was made, but there it was on our table.
Now this I do remember eating, because there was a shitload of that stuff on top, and eating it straight like that really shows just how powerfully concentrated the flavors were. Salty, sweet, smokey, and spicy this stuff required a lot of ice cream to bring into balance. Spoonfuls with more marmalade than ice cream weren’t very pleasant. An interesting dish, but not really one that I would go out of my way to order again.
I guess we got the check and paid for it at some point. I’m pretty sure I also flagged down Paulie Gee to say hello and chat for a few moments although you could pay me a million dollars and I still couldn’t tell you what we talked about (sorry Paulie!). The clock was ticking and I wanted to hit another place for (another) dessert before we caught the bus. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be as we simply did not have enough time. A Levain uber-cookie procured from my backpack sufficed nicely.
We took the train back to Midtown and I actually had to jog most of the way through stinging sheets of rain to the bus stop since it was scheduled to leave in roughly 10 minutes. Relief/anger hit as I arrived to find out that the 730pm bus hadn’t even arrived yet and our 830pm bus was running 50 minutes late.
So our trip ended on a slightly moist note, but all in all it didn’t really damper the day as a whole. Had it been 5-10 degrees colder it most certainly would’ve been horrible, but it was warm and I was drunk so I didn’t really mind being a little (hah!) damp.
That's it. Massive amounts of New Orleans intel is forthwith. Or something. I'm actually already done my first NOLA post, but I can't saturate you with that much juicy blog action, now can I? I don't want you to develop an unhealthy addiction. Because, ya know, I've got an addictive personality. Why am I still typing?