Archive for the ‘eflorence’ Category

You’ve Got To Ring Them Bells!

May 27, 2014

by Florence Ondré

For years on Long Island, New York, have been praying for some really good Thai restaurants to open.  There have been a few but they were pedestrian or too far away to pop into.  And being lovers of Thai food, my dear Tom and I like to pop in several times a week.

In Seattle, Washington, there are Thai restaurants on practically every block and they range from good to fantastic!  So, we got spoiled spending time there and coming back to Long Island to only wishes for that kind of taste bud wealth, left us hungry for that quick and fresh ingredients cuisine.

Since Superstorm Sandy decimated so much of Long Island and people are a year and a half later still not rebuilding or home, we figured the Thai food Angels would most likely wait to grace us with our palate’s desires.  After all, first things first, satisfy the hunger to be safe home and leave the wishful dining yearnings for a later date.

Then one day while in my acupuncturist’s office; chatting with the front desk staff, I heard there actually were two new Thai restaurants open and close by.

I ran to the one and got a look see (and smell) and took a menu home.  No aromas of cooking or much Thai ambiance but, hey, it was a short drive andI thought, ‘give it time to get on its feet and then check again.’

The second recommendation was a small corner place in the west end of Long Beach on the Island’s South shore.

This area had taken the hardest hurricane hit and had been literally crushed under sand as the Atlantic ocean met the bay.  The sleepy, little bungalow part of the City By The Sea, as it is known, had been buried and broken badly.  Before the devastation, this barrier island community had seen three other Thai restaurant tries; one of which failed with part Chinese food, another which served authentic Thai deliciously prepared dishes sort of faded away.  I expect that arising from the over long wait for the food to make it from ordering to eating.  I finally stopped going there because I called it ‘the ass breaker meal!’  I like to linger with friends over a good meal but the wait was interminable here and winding up with my head face-plant down in my food dish from exhaustion at day’s end, didn’t ring-a-ding for moi.

The last was a small place in the center of town, next to the busiest pizza parlor, across from the commute to the Big apple, train station .  The food here started out good.  There were a few bumps, and still are with getting the order right, but they had a salmon salad and a crispy duck salad to die for!  Decent Pad Thai and Massaman Curry, Kee Mao, Kao Soi and pretty good Thai iced teas kept us coming back to this tiny modern place with a quirky waterwheel in the window.

They, unfortunately, were flooded under, like every other business on the main drag and, in the new  hard times; trying to scrape together a rebuild, had to cut some corners like everyone else.  Though the duck and salmon salad stayed good but got smaller and the staff got a little short on accommodation and Thai smiles, it was the moldy water from the flood ravaged pipes which was served and tainted their former sweet tea, that pushed us to stop settling for a dream that had faded.  I suspect their still being in business aprés, storm of the century, has a lot to do with location, location, location!  And, yet, I still hope for their full recovery in the future.

After the new reco, off we went to the west end, with all it’s bungalows now being remediated like Katrina homes, put up in the air on stilts; looking for all the world like blocks of random Jenga games for adults.  And lo and behold, the Angels shone a light on the corner of Beech Street and Wyoming!  Yea, verily and forsooth, Ra-Kang, 895 W. Beech St, 516-442-1313, turned out to be manna from Heaven in a recovery from Hell.

The place is wonderfully appointed with walls full of Kangs (bells) of all shapes and sizes. The architecture is walls of wood cut out to create depth and texture; many sized bamboo fans covering the ceiling;  a wall waterfall shimmering down quietly and a wait area decorated with two round avant garde wicker work, black and red puffy pillowed chairs which look straight out of a museum or grand Royal house, awe and make the diner feel fortunate among men.  I didn’t know whether to sit in them or photograph them, so I did both!

The owner pleasantly greeted, sat us and the wait staff surrounded us in those famous smiles.  We felt like we were in a Thai house on the outskirts of Chang Mai.

The menu is well rounded and fresh ingredients abound. We ordered an appetizer which looked like the Koong Sarong we love so much from Marnee Thai in San Francisco.  Here on their menu they’re named Shrimp Basil Rolls.   Several big shrimp with fresh basil inside a fried wrapper was served in a large Martini glass with fresh greens and a sweet and sour sauce.  First bite, I thought I’d gone to Heaven or been transported on my tastebuds from the City By The Sea to the City By The Bay!  Divine!

They have Ping Yang, three mix and match, skewered meat (or satay) of pork, beef, shrimp, duck, chicken and lamb.  We tried the duck, lamb and chicken.  Delicious with hearty Peanut  and Tamarind sauces to complement.  Excellent!

Their Mussamun Curry (Massaman-different places spell it differently) was served in a graceful, brass curved-handled serving bowl and was sweet and fruity with Tamarind, carrots and chicken.  (one could have beef or tofu as another choice).

We went back three times in a week and a half.  Tried the Mee Krob appetizer of crunchy, sweet crispy noodles with shrimp.  Every bit as good as my favorite in San Jose, California; looking like an upturned bucket, forming a small mountain on a plate. Chang Mai noodles, (also known as Kao Soi) was a fragrant, yellow curry with chicken, sprouts, shallots, egg noodles and crunchy noodles on top.  Total Yum factor!  They will make it as spicy or mild as you like.  They also do a lovely, fresh, basilly Kee Mao wide-noodle dish with fresh vegetables (with or without meat or tofu) in a brown sauce with a little kick (again, you can ask for your own taste bud level).  Their duck salad was fragrant, crispy and  equal to the best I’ve ever enjoyed.

Each successive time we dined, the Shrimp Basil rolls were our first course and each time they were still divine and just as beautiful as the first encounter, in taste and presentation. Big drool factor just thinking of them as I write this.

The only drawback for this restaurant, is it ‘s a bit more expensive in pricing than some other really good Thai restaurants.  Still, we return because the food is worth it, one of the best restaurants in town…and we’re hoping they grace us with their presence and culinary gifts for a very long time to come.  The thing I love about this restaurant (other than it’s proximity to my house) is that it is one of the most gorgeously appointed restaurants and the food is equally as magnificent in both looks and taste!  I’d say Ra Kang rings all the right bells and is a Thai trifecta!!

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Posted From 30 Thou

December 15, 2010

“Would you like chicken with bbq sauce and corn or bow tie pasta?” she asked with a happy smile in her voice and on her face.

Now where do you think this eatery is?

Yup.

If you’ve ever flown Delta, this might sound familiar to you.

“Does the pasta have any red peppers in it?” I query. “I’m allergic to them.”

“No. No peppers just red cherry tomatoes.”

“I can survive that.”

We launch into a discussion of what kind of cheese is in the corn which comes with the chicken.  She and her colleagues have not been able to figure out the answer to that mystery.  She likes the bbq sauce on the chicken and says that she tried to replicate the recipe at home and couldn’t quite get it.

I share that I’ve loved the chicken stuffed with cheese and spinach.

She agrees and seconds the chicken love fest on that one.

I add that I tried to duplicate that version in my own kitchen and got close but no cigar.  The cheese they use in the airline version  eluded me too.

We pop  up our tray tables and dishes are whisked in front of us with a flourish.  On each is a green salad with grape tomatoes; a creamy caesar italian on the side and I quip, “Does this salad have arugula in it?”

My dear Tom replies as he digs in to his, “Yes it does.”

What?  I was joking.  It’s airline food for goodness sakes!

“Don’t forget to open the dressing away from you.  I learned that lesson the hard way.”

One taste and sure enough, arugula!

A hot buttered roll.  So far so good.

Bowties bland and a few buffer the acid in my stomach from the stress of having barely seconds of  preboarding before the hordes descended on our keisters;  closing in like bumper to bumper traffic in midtown Manhattan.

Tom’s chicken is rubbery and there are peppers in the q sauce. Blechh, for me.

There are, however, rosemary roasted  red potatoes which are quite nice and on both our trays, there is a mighty fine looking dessert which turns out to be pumpkin cheesecake with a struessel topping and caramel drizzle.

Divine.

I’m making this for the holidays!

I am the cheesecake making queen and now I will add this to this year’s goodie banquet.  I’m going to pick up the faboo caramel sauce from Whole Foods for the liberal drizzling.

Our flight attendant comes over to see what we thought and asks, “What flavor was that dessert?”

“Pumpkin cheesecake.”

“Ahhh. My colleague thought it was but wasn’t sure.”

Mmmmmmm we drool a bit together.

Outside our window, the sun is setting over the Rockies, all frosted with snow and I feel a nap coming on.  Full tummy. Food, some parts ho hum and some really delicious.

There is free WiFi on board and I’m sharing the restaurant review with you before I caramel crash.

The pilot, who taxied like he was on I 5 with semis chasing him for dear life; revving and passing other planes like a speedster; maneuvering around chop chop like the White Rabbit, late late late for a very important date and then jumped us from 0 to thousands of mph like a warp speed jump, has just announced that we will be landing at JFK an hour and a half earlier than planned. Whoopee!

Some restaurants have great food; some ambiance; some super views…This one’s food was hit and miss and still better than most in the friendly skies (tho, not much has ever come close to Air France) today we’re at Windows On The World and the view is spectacular!

….And the salad has arugula in it!

The Return Of The Grub

March 29, 2010

Was not rushing back to Metropolitan or anywhere for that matter after the Great Sandwich Debacle.  Just wanted to tuck in and regain energy from the flight across country.  6 hours in curbed-movement and decreased oxygen takes the stuffings out of you.

Tom and I ask ourselves, “Is it just us or is it taking longer to recover from those ‘aero-punishments’ that get us to pleasurable spots in the world?”

And don’t get me started on the food!

We used miles to get upgraded to first class to save our bodies and of course they served a meal instead of lobbing a dry sandwich at you and yelling, “Go long!”

I just asked Tom if he remembered what exactly we were served on that flight and he answered, after a brief hesitation for thought, “Uh, no. I try to forget as soon as possible after landing. I think it must’ve been a choice of some sort of pasta or chicken.”

That sounds about right.

Thinking about this, I remember why I love JFK terminals….. they have Balducci’s!

Now, we’re talking quality back up!

My favorite sandwich of theirs is turkey, apple and Brie on ficelle.

It’s perfect crunch and yum factors are delicious and the sandwich is big enough to share or have some left over for the next day when we haven’t yet gone to the market to stock the fridge.

So, of course, I got one and brought along some of my own snack goodies for the movies.  Yes. Plural. Saw two and played the in-flight game of trivia with others in the cabin.  Love that game and the interaction onboard.

Sometimes we just have to take our comfort with us and with airlines’ mishagos, you just have to pretend you’re at a personal growth workshop and self-care.

Went back to Metropolitan Market, explained the return; ragged wrapper and all. Apologies were tendered, sandwich-swamp taken back and money refunded promptly, with attitude of only regret for my inconvenience and disappointment.

“Would you like to try another?” was all that was asked of me.

Since I’d had nothing but good tastes with their turkey, Havarti with lettuce, tomato, Dijon mustard and mayo before, I tried another and it was delicious.  So I guess shift happens.

When one picks up take-out for that meal you don’t want to wind up cooking at the end of the day at home and you are soooo looking forward to shedding your duds, hopping in the shower and kicking back in your comfies and comfort zone for the evening…and you find the food lurking in your take-away container either isn’t what you ordered, missing pieces or another plate from ‘international drek,’ that is another story.

Like some of you have shared, I too get all ‘fertootsed’ and the inconvenience facing me is having to throw stuff on, jam back and waste half of my night dealing with a redo.

Not bloody likely.

Once I’m in the jammies, I’m in.  After the call to the venue, I’m stuck with foraging and making do.  So, the inconvenience meter ticks to higher levels ’cause I now have no food or have to take more time out of my night or next day doing double energy output because they didn’t do…what?

Their job.

Here’s where I feel they not only owe a do-over but a comp for my extra time having to deal with their mistake.

Get creative out there.

That would keep me coming back as a loyal customer.

And there are some really good and honorable places that do that….make it right….show good faith….and want you to come back. These establishments want your business. To them you are not just a number or a cha ching on the register. You are valued and they want you to know it. That ‘s how I do business. My bad?  Your good.

Thanks you guys for your input and sharing your thoughts and how it works for you.

Who has messed up and made it right for you?

In Light & Love,

Florence

When Good Food Goes Bad

March 27, 2010

January 20, 2010

Sometimes the food experience is a one time thing and can’t be replicated,

Like today…when we remembered to eat actual food, we went to the refrigerator and pulled out the container of one of Tom’s fav mushroom soups which he’d gotten at Metropolitan Market on Queen Anne hill and my most recent fav sandwich from them of turkey and Havarti with tomato, lettuce, mustard and mayo on a hearty white artisan bread.

I washed and cut up two Pink Lady apples- each the size of a child’s hand- a sweet fruit with a delicate, crisp tartness.

Our paper plates and cups looked like a foraged indoor picnic and we slurped the soup, thick with a variety of mushrooms and herbs then took bites of our sandwiches and spit out the mouthfuls at the same time….yuch!

They tasted like someone’s rancid, awful perfume!

One more bite seemed ok and then Tom bit into a piece of hard-core tomato and I found something akin to plastic webbing in mine.

Upon closer examination -under the good light in the kitchen- the hard mesh-like piece was determined to be more tooth cracking, tough, greenish- yellow top of tomato.

My love affair with this sandwich was doused in more ways than one.

I decided to pack the pieces up and take them back to Metropolitan and let them know that whoever is making the sandwiches needs to be fragrance free and wearing gloves-and there needs to be closer scrutiny as to what goes in between the bread slices.

At $6 a pop, folks, I want the perfection I had the first time I ate this Dagwood.

At any price, I want chemical free and trash free food.

With yuck replacing the usual delicious factor, it was just a waste of money.

Something I don’t want to do.

What a disappointment.

I’d made a special trip to this market in cold and rain just to get this sandwich and would have bought a couple more if there’d been any left.  (We do like to have our favs on hand for days like today when we don’t want to go out.)

Burping at the end of this meal interuptus was toxic.

After some taste bud space, I switched over to baby carrots with my fav accompaniment I’d schlepped across country from Whole Foods in NY: fresh Genji Miso Ginger Dressing for dipping (they have it in the sushi bar section), and a little Cambozola soft spread cheese on Crunchmaster Artisan Cheese Rice crackers from Costco in Seattle.

Safe, known and healthier for my digestive system which is still sensitive from the 6 hour flight and 3 hour time change from NY to Seattle.

Still pounded Pedialyte and water and began to feel less light headed from the dehydration of travel.

Maybe later there will be Thai food.

In Light & Love

Florence

Passion Fruit

March 27, 2010

January 19.2010

Eating one beautiful apple or one luscious pear in the warm sunlight on a back porch after a morning of love-making.

Listening to your hearts beat, the wind soughing in the trees, and sharing the simplicity of a piece of Mother Earth gifts.

The feel of the sun on your skin.

Sucking in the juice of the fruit with the appreciation of every drop of life; its and yours.

Every cell of pure joy and gratitude for the miracle and beauty of living meets in these moments.

It cost little or nothing to have these precious experiences and to share a meal like this.

One ripe plum of loving stays with you and fills your stomach and soul forever.

In Light & Love

Florence

Food Glorious Food!

March 27, 2010

January 18.2010

I  got busy with the idea for this blog and brainstormed with Tom til after 4 pm.; writing, finding a comfortable position for my body at the computer, laughing, researching words and colloquialisms and phrases. So lunch was not even on the radar.

We actually replaced food with thought.

I remember a time with my sister, Dorothy, where, after a busy day zipping around doing chores and running errands, we decided to take in a late afternoon movie.

“Oliver” was playing in town.

We barely had time to park the car and zip into the theatre.  Hurry. Hurry. The movie had begun.

As we slinked down the aisle, hunkering down as much as humanly possible so as not to block the seated patrons view with our tardiness, up on the screen the orphans in the scene were scooping  gruel from their bowls and the lead boy, fair-haired Oliver, was holding his out in his tiny, begging hands, asking as politely as he could, “May i have some more please?”

Stopping mid aisle, we looked at each other, turned and ran back up the aisle; stomachs grumbling and rumbling.

We’d been so busy all day that we had forgotten to eat!

We hit the snack bar and walked back into the theatre, armed with popcorn, hot dogs, jujubes, something chocolate and carbonated beverages just as the chorus of urchins were singing, “Food, glorious food!”

The lesson of the importance of eating was not lost on us that day.

Have you ever forgotten to eat?

In Light & Love

Florence

Foodiction

March 27, 2010

Jan 17,2010

food: a planetary addiction: everything has to eat.

savor every bite

might as well delight.

for every day & nite

we have to eat!

So why not enjoy the daylights out of it?

I don’t mean stuff your face with pork rinds and slather lard on everything in sight til you drop from a coronary.

I mean do this necessary thing with joy or at least some enjoyment,

like making food for your kids fun, interesting and tasty.

Why treat your self with any less care?

Today I began with 36 ounces of water taken in before even brushing my teeth,  then a cup of oatmeal containing a fiber and probiotics stick and a banana cut up in it over conversation with my dear Tom, as we looked out at the foggy Sunday over Elliot Bay, the Space Needle and the city of Seattle.

People were walking up and down the hill all decked out in athletic gear with backpacks, dogs on leashes, head phones in place on caps and, in between musings and noticing the mailman was in shorts on a January day, I took a plethora of vitamins and herbs: for keeping my immune system from succumbing to flu season or winter S.A.D. (really, no lie. It does help the mood dips)

Add to that some calcium to keep me from being the osteo statistic on my block, c, e, alfalfa, zinc- cause I’m stemming off a head cold- Baxyl hyaloronic acid for my joints and spine challenge, B12, Neuro PS Gold and ginkgo for energy and you get a picture of my attempt to keep brain functioning out of the forgetfulness mode and joints happy enough to allow me to ‘move about the cabin.’

The combination of self caring and easing into the day, enjoying our surroundings on a gray misty day felt like being cosseted in a peaceful blanket.

We could take the day slowly and unplanned………..and forage.

In Light & Love

Florence

How It Began

March 26, 2010

Fresh Off The Palate by Florence Ondré 1/16/10

Food is so much more than just food.

No matter what is going on in our lives; no matter how well or ill we are; no matter our status, work or relationships; dreams or goals, wrecked or reached, we have to eat.

Several times a day, we have to tend to this thing which sustains our life force. And if we don’t, can’t or won’t, we will wind up consumed with the thought of nothing else. Our minds will shut off all auxiliary channels and narrow our focus to a pinpoint of seeking sustenance.

In disasters of cataclysmic proportions, everything we ever thought was important goes out the window with the hurricane, flood, earthquake or famine and all we can think of is food and water. How to feed ourselves, our children, our families; survival’s basics, push all else to the four winds.

What we do for a living, who said what to us, when we’ll get the latest whatever, evaporates in an instant the moment we are faced with catastrophic clearing; flattening us like pancakes. See this?  Even the words and phrases we use have many roots in food.

Nothing sates, softens, sharpens or soothes empty bellies, edges, senses or souls like a cool drink of clean, clear water and, since not many of us are on the level of existing on manna from the heavens or nectar from the gods yet, we do have to find and create foods from mother earth and out of human creativity several times a day… each day…every day of our lives. Seasoning one’s meals, seasons one’s life; one’s very essence of being.

They don’t call it Soul Food for nuthin.

Food.

We are addicted to it…we have to eat!

In this new year of 2010; this new decade, I want to do more of what gives me joy; what makes me smile, uplifts me and makes my heart sing. So I tuned in to see what popped as to what I like most.

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed solid work completed, as well as good projects half to three quarters done. There are so many areas of endeavor in which I like participating, yet never enough time to do everything I like.

But “what do I love? what are my passions? what endeavor would hold me to the goal of completion and still feed my heart and soul?’ became the central questions preluding a choice of where I’d like to place my focus, time and energy.

I’m great at what I do, whether it’s my work doing a role on stage, writing assignments, preparing a meal or giving from my heart; loving and putting out good energy into the world and universe for highest good for all. And, when I add the secret ingredient of love, everything tastes and runs better on that fuel.

Also, I’m a real ‘putoffski.’ Probably a trait held over from another life in Russia that still runs through my veins with the essence of borscht or blinis. And, OK I admit it, since I’m a procrastinator (there I’ve said it out loud and in print) everywhere in my life but work, I thought doing what I love might get me the hat trick of accomplishment, discipline and joy in each day, if I could narrow down what, without doubt or hesitation, makes my river of happiness run full flowing.

Work with a specific end-goal time works best for getting me across the finish line. Even when writing and producing theatre, I’d get the gig date first and then pull the show together. The same with client deadlines and writing assignments. The day before or day of, you’ll likely find me doing some of my best work.

I’d like to change that pattern if possible, have some more ease and joy in my life. If there has to be any pressure or deadlines, why not make them in areas I most love and make the effort richer; fuller in enjoyment on that path of endeavor?

So the question is: “What do I love?” (besides my dear Tom & my family & friends of course)

I love food.

I’ve been afraid to admit that to anyone out loud for fear they will think I’m a glutton or call me fatso. Yes, I’m a bit plumper than I might like but, after being rail thin for most of my life; a dancer, model and performer; then being physically challenged in a wheel chair for the better part of the last 10 years from a spinal injury, who wouldn’t be?

I love to write.

And when I do write, my style is densely descriptive and experiences are word painted and stuffed with food analogies and metaphors.

Hmmmm….Why not combine the two loves and see where it leads?

And I love sharing.

Sharing what I enjoy with others and hearing what other people find delicious and enjoyable in life is such fun.

So, I’ve made a commitment to myself; set a goal to write for the next 365 days about this subject of food and its far-reaching effects on life and in our lives; one whole year of coming to this contraption; typing whatever comes up regarding and revolving around food; sharing with you each day, as close to experiencing and tasting as humanly possible, what goodies I’ve enjoyed or discovered.

In other word’s, what’s Fresh Off The Palate!

In Light & Love,

Florence


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