A (Food) Tour of Flushing, NY Pt 2

Dessert time

After we ate our fill, it was time for dessert and the Frenchman’s daughter was in the mood for some shave ice.

So, we walked over to a joint called Flower and Dessert and got something there.

I told the ladies that they should probably just order one single one because I knew it was gonna be HUGE but they ended up ordering two because everything looked so good.

Can’t really blame them AND I also got to have some so it was really win-win.

Still, even with the five of us, there was still a ton left from the two dishes we got.

While they were delicious, I gotta say, I was a tad disappointed that it was really just shaved ice cream and not the classic shave ice that I grew up eating while in Asia.

By this point, we were all pretty beat – after all, we’d been eating for close to three hours straight.

But the Frenchman’s wife wanted to stop by Soy Bean Chan for some sweet dessert tofu to take home.

Of course, I had to have some as well.

Shoulda taken a pic of Soy Bean Chan’s place, which is a small tofu stall and then also a florist shop. It’s essentially about 100 feet from that woman holding the tray below.

We went back to the mall where we parked the car and the ladies all went shopping while the Frenchman and I went to Gong Cha and had a lightly sweetened peach green tea.

Me: You want something?
Him: No thanks, I’m totally sugared out.
Me: Even if it’s lightly sweetened?
Him: Nope. Completely sugared out.

I get it.

I don’t usually consume anywhere close the amount of carbs I consumed that day.

After alla that, he and I went to the ridonk huge Skyfoods Asian supermarket at the mall – the ladies took over where we were at the tea shop – and I stocked up on a buncha things like fresh lychee and tofu.

Although I did skip getting any frog legs.

Afterward, we piled into the car and drove past Willets Point to head home.

Me: If you came here 10 years ago, you’d see what it was like in Queens/NYC 100 years ago, because it was the last place in the five boroughs that didn’t have paved roads or a sewer system.
Her: How come?
Me: This was all salt-of-the-earth Queens people that ran automobile shops and junkyards here. The soil was super contaminated so they didn’t bother to develop it for years.

They only started developing it in earnest in 2018.

In any case, the Frenchman was nice enough to drive us alla way back to our pad, which was totally in the opposite direction of where he needed to be.

Me: That was super cool of him – door-to-door service!
Her: Absolutely, they’re great. (pause) It’s barely 5PM but I just wanna go to bed.
Me: But…we still gotta eat dinner, though…

Location: Dive 75 with a pretty lady
Mood: more injured and annoyed
Music: We can make it if we try (Spotify)
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A (Food) Tour of Flushing, NY Pt 1

Eating our way through Flushing, Queens

The Frenchman and I were chatting the other day about maybe heading to Flushing for some food.

Him: Sunday? Interestingly, I will have a car from the previous day’s rental.
Me: What I’m reading is that you’re offering us a ride. We accept. Thank you.
Him: If you come to us first! But sure.
Me: I was mostly joking but…heck yeah.

So, early on Sunday morning, the Firecracker and I found ourselves on the Upper East Side, where the Frenchman and his family gave us a lift to my childhood stomping grounds.

It was mainly a food tour and, honestly, no Flushing Food Tour worth its salt doesn’t have White Bear as part of it.

So, that’s where we started.

We got the classic Number 6, which looks spicy but isn’t really at all.

Unlike other dumpling spots that pan-fry, these guys use super thin dough and boil them so they’re much more delicate.

After that, the Frenchman’s kid wanted something to drink, as did the Firecracker, so we went to TenRen Tea for that.

Me: When I was a kid, this place was mainly known as a traditional Chinese medicine shop but now it’s known more by the kids for their bubble tea.
Her: Oh, I want a Thai Iced Tea then.

After that, we went to the World Mall Food Court where everyone got something different.

The Firecracker wanted Taiwanese food, while I went with a teriyaki chix dish…

…while the Frenchman and his family got noodles and more dumplings.

Now, I’d been meaning to upgrade my scanner for a while and my brother told me that he gave my mom a high-end Epson FF-640 that she wasn’t using so my mom swung by to drop that off with me.

Wish I took a picture with her, but I forgot.

Her: I put it in this red roller for you. Make sure you don’t forget it!
Me: I promise I won’t!
Her: (later) Did you forget it?
Me: (laughing) I’m 51! I didn’t forget it!

Once a parent, always a parent, I suppose.

I’ll wrap this up in the next entry.

Also, I’m super hungry again.

Location: earlier today, a dive bar with a pineapple cider
Mood: still injured
Music: wish that I could be a kid in the summer (Spotify)
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Memorial Day 2024

New Traditions

For the third year in a row, went to see my college buddies out in Long Island for a Memorial Day BBQ at Gar and Wynn’s.

Like I’ve been saying lately, really do appreciate all of these new traditions that the boy and I have these days.

So, the Firecracker, her kid, my kid, and I, all headed out to see everyone.

The trip was uneventful but it was nice having both kids come for the first time.

We ran into my buddy Cappy and his family on the train when we got out and, within 30 minutes, alla the kids were living their best lives in the pool.

My kid and the Firecracker’s kid were having a blast as well.

But I was mainly focused on the food…

…which was seriously plentiful, as always.

Pretty much ate nonstop the whole time I was there.

Him: We also ordered a three-foot sub.
Me: Sweeeeeet! What’s everyone else gonna eat?

For my birthday, my buddy Thor got me a killer bottle of Clase Azul Reposado Tequila.

Now, I’m not normally a tequila drinker but, damn if it wasn’t the smoothest tequila I’d ever had in my life.

So, I ended up buy a few bottles as gifts because it’s such a pretty bottle and brought one of them with me.

Her: Are we shooting these?
Me: Absolutely not! It’s too good to shoot!

For her part, the Firecracker took some Patron and made Palomas for everyone.

It seemed as soon as we finished one course of food, a new course of stuff came out.

Of course, the kids stuck to the classics.

There was even a crawfish boil but, by then, I was pretty stuffed.

Him: Damn, Logan, where do you put it all?
Me: It’s all about believing in yourself.

Like the past couplea years, Cappy brought dessert – a killer apple pie…

…and a matcha cream pie that I’d never had before but enjoyed so much that I ate the entire slice myself.

Now, the weather the day before and the day after was just the pits but that day, the weather was just perfect.

But the kids were getting tired, so we finally left, along with Cappy and his family as well.

Some 12 hours after we first left the pad, we walked back into the pad.

Him: I’m so tired, do I have to take a shower?
Me: (gently) Yeah, kid. But you’ll sleep like a brick tonight.
Him: (tired) OK, if you say so…

He really did.

Like I said, I really appreciate these new traditions we have.

Here’s hoping the kid appreciates it too.

As an aside, we took the 10-Story Escalator – the largest in the MTA system in NYC right now – at Grand Central.

Man, even sped up 10X, this thing was crazy long.

Location: 5:55 PM tonight – a playground with my laughing kid
Mood: injured
Music: Swimming in our clothes when the beach was closed (Spotify)
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Date night in Chinatown

An early dinner at Nom Wah

The kids were away and, like I said, I’ve been hankering for Chinese, Japanese, and Greek food lately.

Me: We may end up going to Big Wong. I’ll figure it out once I get there.
Her: Soup dumplings are always a good idea
Me: (in Chinatown) There’s zero line at Nom Wah!

For those of you not from NYC, Nom Wah Tea Parlor is one of the very first Chinese dim sum restaurants in America, opened in 1920.

The children of the last generation of owners decided to update the marketing to include social media but not update much else and it’s worked; there are tons of videos about it like this one from Bon Appetit:

Or this one from Munchies:

Or this one from PBS:

Alla this attention means that there’s always a line going around the block.

I’ve been in this little town for 45 years and I’ve never gone in, actually.

But the other day we lucked out and there was zero line and we got superstar seating.

Her: This is what happens when you eat like an old man at 5:30PM.
Me: But…no line!

We were both starving so we ordered a ton of food…

…really, so much food.

We managed to eat almost everything – so good.

Afterward, we had some wine and beer that we slowly enjoyed while chatting when a waiter came up to us and said that there were lots of people waiting; sure enough, there was a long line that went to the neighboring street.

So, we left and, because the kids were away, we headed to a speakeasy that was hidden behind a coke machine called The Basement.

Since it was still early, we easily got a seat…

…and ordered some drinks, which were excellent but…

…she was mainly interested in the kettle corn they gave us.

Her: Ask for more.
Me: Me? Why don’t you ask for more?
Her: Oh, I will.

She’s wasn’t lying.

Her: Do you wanna play some beer pong?
Me: I’m beat, I just wanna sit.
Her: You’re no fun.
Me: Accurate.

Her: We’ll be home and in bed by 10PM.
Me: I know. It’s glorious.

It really was.

Location: earlier today, coughing up a pollen-infused lung on 77th
Mood: hopeful
Music: deep down in my heart, there’s a hole (Spotify)
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Travelogue: Los Angeles 2024, Day 4 – Donuts, burgers, nachos, and home

Everything we’d hoped it be

We didn’t really get a chance to enjoy our hotel at all so, for our last day, we decided to just spend a relaxing morning, lounging about.

Besides Lucky Boy, the other thing I always try to have when I’m in LA is a Fatburger – well, as luck would have it, there was one just down the street from our hotel room.

This may, or may not, have been planned.

Now, the Firecracker had been watching this really cool documentary about donuts – called The Donut King, about an immigrant who made a donut empire but decided to teach other immigrants how to do the same to better their lives – so I also went to the store named the Donut King right next door to FatBurger to get us some donuts and some heart attack sammies.

So, I left bright and early on the morning we were heading back to pick up some loot.

That’s me enjoying my 1/2-pound Fatburger with sweet potato fries. It was everything I’d hope it’d be.

We closed out the morning in the lobby with our Donut King donuts and a $10 cuppa coffee.

Me: That was $10?! Jesus Christ. Did you get a massage with it?
Her: Nope, just the coffee.
Me: (shakes head)

We had time to kill but we were pretty California-ed out so we hopped an Uber to the airport, where we just sat around and bickered over nachos until it was time to leave.

Six hours – and one incredibly smelly seatmate with next-level BO – later, we were home in the middle of the night.

Her: That was a fun trip, but I’m traveled out now. Looking forward to just staying home for a little bit.
Me: Same.

Location: the floor of my new gym, watching the kid try an armbar
Mood: way under-caffeinated
Music: In Santa Monica, you get your coffee from the coolest places on the promenade (Spotify)
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Travelogue: Los Angeles 2024, Day 3 – Admiring the hustle

Combined, we’re 100 years old!

The next day, we woke up pretty early and headed out to Santa Monica.

The Firecracker’s kid is obsessed with trains and wanted pictures/videos of the LA metro system so, for the first time in my life, I took the Los Angeles Subway.

We got onto the Wilshire/Western Station and tried to pay with a TAP card that we bought but it didn’t work so I jumped the turnstile.

Me: Never thought I’d be jumping turnstiles at 51.
Her: Just don’t get arrested!
Me: Well, we paid for the fare, the reader just couldn’t read it.

I don’t feel guilty about it because of that.

The station itself was a ghost town. The Firecracker was decidedly less enthused than her son woulda been.

Her: Well, I took pictures and video. We can just go back up and take an Uber.
Me: We’re in it. We might as well head out to Santa Monica on this.
Her: OK, well, if nothing else, we’re saving a ton, and you can get some writing done.
Me: This is very true.

So, we did.

It was pretty quick, but also much less trafficked than what we were used to back home in NYC.

Me: I think LA people are self-selecting, which is why no one uses the subway here.
Her: How so?
Me: I assume most people that decide to live in LA love the sun and outdoors, which is why they come here. Well, these types of people are probably not keen on traveling around underground and away from the sun.

It was actually a pretty quick trip to Santa Monica, where we checked into our hotel, Le Méridien Delfina Santa Monica.

The room was nice; we splurged for it since we spent two nights with my bro.

Me: The shampoo is peppermint, the conditioner is cilantro, and the body wash is sage.
Her: Great, you’ll smell like a salad.
Me: Luckily, that’s precisely what I was going for.

Once we got there, my good buddy Lorin – from whom I got the name of the character for 72nd to Canal – swung by to pick us up.

I’d last gone to Versailles Cuban like two decades ago with my buddies Francis and Cindy.

Wanted the Firecracker to try the food there, so off we went.

Unfortunately, there was a massive bike ride for earth day, so we had to spend quite a while trying to find parking et al, eventually cutting through a street fair…

…before we were finally able to eat.

The food was just as delicious as I remembered it.

Gotta remember to go to things again before decades go by.

Afterward, Lorin drove us to the Original Muscle Beach at Santa Monica because he’s a former acrobat and still keeps his skills sharp, despite pushing 50, like me.

Me: Can we watch you do some acrobatics?
Him: You two are gonna do some with me!

He wasn’t lying.

Me: Combined, we’re 100 years old! I think we look great, all things considered.
Firecracker: You’re the tower of old!
Me: Thanks.

Afterward, we went to walk the pier but not before watching the cops arrest a fella for selling BBQ outta a supermarket cart without a license.

Me: If nuthin else, you gotta admire the hustle.
Her: Very true.

After we watched that for a bit, we made our way to the pier…

…where we saw a fella banging out some Louis Armstrong and Prince…

…and made another furry friend…

…who seems to have seen better days.

But it was cloudy and overcast…

…so, we walked over to the Promenade where we saw someone driving on the street in a boat.

We walked to a bar where we grabbed a quick drink, or three…

…and checked out the Promenade, including watching some buskers (see, more hustle)…

…and meeting my mannequin doppelganger…

…before heading back to the beaches of Santa Monica to meet up with my buddy Paul, his wife, and their kids.

Him: You know, I think I have the single worst nickname out of your blog.
Me: It wasn’t my best work, no.
Firecracker: He tries.

I feel we look pretty close to how we looked almost exactly a decade ago.

After that, very full day, we were looking forward to heading home.

I was trying to fix something on the camera when the Firecracker accidentally hit the shutter button.

Location: A NYC playground surrounded by kids and pigeons. Not sure which I find more taxing.
Mood: caffeinated
Music: How I hate to spend the evening on my own (Spotify)
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Travelogue: Los Angeles 2024, Day 2 – Champagne Breakfast at Tiffany’s

A crispy potato delight

Woke up the next morning and immediately thought of my usual Lucky Boy brekkie, of course, so, off we went.

But not before meeting a new friend.

Right next to Lucky Boy is the very first Trader Joe’s so we had to stop for a picture.

We finally got to Lucky Boy and I got a breakfast BLT and a double cheeseburger.

Three people commented on my jacket, positively.

Her: I just want to say, that is a great jacket on you.
Me: Thank you! My brother doesn’t think so.
Her: (laughing) He’s wrong.

Our bellies full, we walked over to Old Pasadena to check things out.

But first we needed some coffee and pastries.

Once we were fully caffeinated, we continued our walk.

Her: Wait, is that a Tiffany’s?! Can we go in?
Me: …yes?
Her: I’m going to look at engagement rings…because.
Me: Noted.

Do not read into this.

There, we met a fella named Richard…

Him: …Queens. You?
Me: I’m from Queens as well!

…who was nice enough to offer us up some champagne in Tiffany crystal on a literal silver platter with white gloves.

Me: Well, technically, it *is* 2PM for us.
Her: This is true!

The Firecracker and I chatted with Richard for a bit more before we left his fine company.

The Firecracker stopped into another store and tried on some clothing.

Her: What do you think?
Me: You look great!
Her: I’m gonna wear this out.

And she did just that.

Afterward, we stopped in a quiet alleyway, and I got some writing done.

And met another new friend.

We decided to head over to the super wealthy part of Pasadena and check out the multi-million-dollar mansions there.

The coolest thing about them were so many of them had fruit trees everywhere – we saw figs, tons of oranges, limes, and more.

Plus, there were cool things like aloe just growing on the sidewalks.

Although, not everything we saw on the street was fruit.

Me: Someone did not have a good day.

The fruit was definitely nicer to see.

We went back to my brother’s and crashed for a bit, before waking up and having a crapton of Chinese food, mainly dumplings.

Me: There is no soup in these soup dumplings!
Her: They’re just dumplings now.
Me: Blargh.

We ended up playing a buncha board games, including Scattagories.

Our question was: Beginning with “M,” something that you get from a vending machine.

Me: Munchos.
Her: Munchies?
Me: Munchos! They’re a crispy potato delight.

The jet lag was real, so we crashed pretty early.

Location: earlier today, Newark, NJ
Mood: sore
Music: We pulled up for some west coast passion (Spotify)
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Travelogue: Los Angeles 2024, Day 1

Not associating with

My brother was in NYC recently and the Firecracker and I decided to head back with him to LA just because we both had a little time, and she had some frequent flier miles to use up.

The issue was that she had to be in CT for work that morning, so she picked me up from my pad at 2:17 to make a 5:03 flight.

Unfortunately, traffic was ridonk so we cut it pretty close.

Still, we got there just in time and even managed to meet up with my brother at the airport.

My brother had priority with security via TSA Precheck so we all ended up at the gate at the same time.

After we got settled in the plane…

Him: You want something to drink?
Me: Nah, we’re ok.
Him: I’m buying.
Me: Then, yes.

Our flight was completely boring and uneventful – in other words, perfect.

Six-some-odd-hours later, my brother’s wife came to pick us up.

Him: I told her to look for the guy in a bright red leather jacket.
Firecracker: Would you wear a bright red leather jacket?
Him: I never even thought that I’d associate with someone that owned a bright red leather jacket.

We crashed pretty hard that night, waking up at 5AM LA time, 8AM our time.

But I’ll tell you that part in the next entry.

Location: when I wrote this, Westwood, Los Angeles
Mood: Insanely hungry
Music: So what, we’re a littlе drunk, let’s go home togethеr (Spotify)
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Travelogue: Winston-Salem Pt. 4 – some Rain

We’ll see

We woke up on Easter and promptly went to a Starbucks to caffeine up.

The big reason why we went down to North Carolina was that a relative of the Firecracker’s had passed and the extended family was there to mourn and spread that relative’s ashes.

So, we did that on the last day.

I stayed in the car because I figured this was a private family event and this wasn’t really the time nor place to make formal introductions.

Afterward, we went to her aunt’s house where everyone celebrated the relative’s life as well as had Easter dinner.

Her extended family were also quite nice and I ate myself silly, taking a nap in her aunt’s sunny backyard.

Now, I’d been speaking to Rain this whole trip because he moved to a neighboring state down south.

Rain’s taken a huge 180 in his life and essentially changed from being the ultimate city boy to a farmer.

Legit, he’s a farmer now.

To wit, he wanted to give me some grass-fed beef from a cow he had slaughtered.

Him: This will be the freshest best beef you had in your life.
Me: Well, you already had me at free.

So, the Firecracker and I headed back to Walmart to get a cooler.

Gotta say that being in Walmart is a trip for a city boy like myself, who has yet to transition to becoming a farmer.

Literally, they had everything including guns and shotguns on display and various projectiles scattered about.

Me: I could live here. They have everything!
Her: Welcome to the south, babe.

We then went back and crashed, only to wake up a few hours later at the crack of ass to make the 12 hour trip back.

But we stopped off first at the parking lot of a Chick-fil-A where I met up with Rain, who arrived in this HUGE red pickup truck.

Me: You’re legit a farmer now.
Him: (taking sawdust outta his pockets) Yup.

He filled up the cooler with meat while the Firecracker and her kid went in to get some food. Presently, he and I went in as well and we shot this impromptu video below.

We chatted for just a few minutes before he had to get back on the road – I had to pick up my kid and we were still hours from where we needed to be.

After what seemed like forever, I got the kid…

Me: There you are! I missed you so much!
Him: Me too, papa! How was North Carolina?
Me: Good – but it woulda been better if you were there.

…and then made it home after being stuck in NYC traffic for a while.

She wants to do this trip every year and I’m not sure I can do that. But I see the appeal for her.

We’ll see.

Location: earlier today, stuck on 14th Street, waiting for mass transit
Mood: old
Music: Looking fine as hell in aisle four. Would you come over? (Spotify)
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Travelogue: Winston-Salem Pt. 3 – Stopping for BBQ

Hot damn, yeah!

We woke up relatively late to meet the Firecracker’s BIL and sister at a North Carolina BBQ joint called Lexington Barbecue.

Her: You’ll like it if you prefer dry rub to sauces.
Me: I like all types of BBQ.
Her: This is authentic southern BBQ!

I actually ended getting the fish.

BIL: Lemme get this straight, you come to a Carolina BBQ place and you get…fish?!
Me: I’m just gonna eat some of [the Firecracker’s] food – she never finishes.

Turns out she did.

BUT her niece didn’t want any of her food, so I ate that.

After we left, I took some pics outside when I heard a fella called out to me…

Him: Hey! Hey, man! You want some real pictures, come on into the smoker.
Me: Hot damn, yeah!

He was the pitmaster and also just a prince of a fella.

So were the two gents working back there as well.

The pitmaster pulled a piece of pork right outta the smoker and handed it to me.

Him: Whaddya think?
Me: (eating it) Jesus, that’s good.

We closed out the day having dinner with the Firecracker’s immediate family at the AirBnB that her sister was staying at.

The next day, we celebrated Easter and then headed back home but not before seeing an old friend.

I’ll tell you that part next, if you’re interested.

Location: A sunny playground, trying to not get hit by a baseball
Mood: irritated
Music: mountains, slowly they’ll arise before our eyes (Spotify)
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