My China Town eating tour:
1. Pork dumplings at a dumpling place
2. Bread and noodles at Malaysian restaurant
3. Almond cookie ice cream
4. Chinese bakery for those custard pastries and sesame balls
Before Asia de Cuba, my aunt and uncle took me to the Top of the Rock. The view was great (obviously); better than the Empire State Building because everything is closer. I could see mi amor, Central Park. (Siiiigh) Afterwards, we found this Japanese pastry shop nearby and we stopped in. I wanted to try EVERYTHING, but obviously I couldn’t so I got a pastry that was basically sweetened red bean between two fluffy cakes. Unfortunately I can’t remember the name of the pastry or the pastry shop. I do know that I enjoyed that pastry and I want to go back. Maybe next time I’ll have the courage to use my very-rusty elementary Japanese. ^_^
As a belated 21st birthday celebration, my aunt and uncle took me out to the city to eat at Asia the Cuba, an Asian-Cuban restaurant. My aunt made a reservation, which was confirmed twice, but when we got there our name was nowhere to be found on the computer. They accommodated us, however; we were there super early, so there was hardly anyone there yet. I was afraid it would be one of those places where the portions are small but the price is large, but everything was family-style and DELICIOUS. Here’s what we ate:
Calamari Salad: Crispy calamari, chayote, hearts of palm, banana, cashew, chiccory and radicchio, sesame orange dressing
A pleasant salad. The calamari wasn’t as crispy as I would have liked and the banana was a little overwhelming, but nothing really turned off my tastebuds.
Beef Dumplings Two Ways: Crispy with plum sauce, and steamed with coconut rice and mango ponzu
These were great. I lurv dumplings. The fried ones were basically empanadas with picadillo (Cuban ground beef hash) inside.
Cuban BBQ Chicken: with Thai coconut sticky rice, avocado cilantro fruit salsa, tamarind sauce
Yummy, but the flavor reminded me too much of familiar (American) Mexican food to be novel.
Honey-Rum Glazed Pot Roast of Pork: Sauteed Shanghai bok choy, fried plantains, enoki mushrooms
This was my FAVORITE. The pork was sweet, juicy, and tender. I’m going to be dreaming about this dish.
Yummy and it was a huge portion. The three of us couldn’t even finish it.
Cuban Opera Cake: Devil’s Food Cake, Kahlua, Milk Chocolate and Coffee Mousse, Coffee Brittle Ice Cream
Absolutely beautiful, and delicious. It reminded me of tiramisu. The cake stood straight up and regal; you could practically hear it bellowing, “FIGARO! FIGARO! FI-GA-RO!”
Homemade Sorbet of the Day
Refreshing and pretty. It came with scoops of different flavored sorbets. The grapefruit one made me cringe; I’m not a fan of grapefruit.
I also had a Coconut Cloud Cocktail (Cruzan coconut rum, stoli vanil, coco lopez, topped with coconut.) Hey, I’m 21 now!
I liked the decor and they played salsa music that made me long for a dance floor, but it’s kind of small and quite dark (hence poor pictures.) Great birthday dinner, and I’d definitely go back again someday.
I love a fine Caribbean brother in a crisp, white guayabera. It’s pure poetry, really.
Tonight I saw The Pedrito Martinez Project, a Cuban music group, in Central Park as part of the Summer Stage series. The band is fronted by Pedrito Martinez (imagine that!) and many of its members hail directly from Habana. They were energetic and got the crowd on its feet dancing, even me.
Afterward they showed the 1963 USSR-produced film, I Am Cuba. The film, although very long and clearly a product of its time (it was all, Yay Fidel!), was quite beautiful. “Cuba” was the narrator, and voiced by a woman; she had some beautiful and heart-rending lines that I really wish I would have written down.
The cinematography was great as well. My favorite moment (for its sheer beauty and power) was after some student rebels got busted for making fliers about Fidel; one of them went to the balcony and yelled and threw fliers at the crowd below, until an officer shot him and he plummeted to the pavement. The following scene was incredible: You see the boy sprawled on the pavement from above, surrounded by the crowd of people and the fluttering shadows of the falling fliers. It was a damn long movie, but I’d say it was worth it.
I went alone. It was like taking myself out on a date: got a bite to eat, visited a museum (the Met), dancing, a movie (maybe I’ll try to get to first base!) I generally don’t have a problem being alone. (I prefer going to museums alone, so I can move through them at my own pace.) Sometimes, however, I stop myself from going to events if I have no one to go with; it’s kind of like having a security blanket. I decided I wasn’t going to let that get in the way anymore so I went out alone today. And it was nice. I need to take myself out on more dates. Maybe I should woo myself before anyone else does.