Thursday, June 09, 2005

And the answer is...

It's been a long day and it's not over yet! I got up this morning at 4 AM again, traveling back to the East coast, and arrived in Pittsburg 1.5 hrs ago. I've been hanging out at the airport, waiting for Nic who is stuck in traffic en route from Morgantown. Poor guy said she's moved about 2 mi in 30 min! Now, that rivals Bay Area traffic, and definitely not the best way to spend 30 min two days before his wedding!

My throat feels a little bit better today, thanks to the 25,000% RDA of Vitamin C I've been chewing non-stop since Wednesday. I swear by the Vitamin C boost trick for conquering colds quickly...

I'm so glad to see so many guesses on yesterday's challenge to identify the fish from one picture! The fish was... HALIBUT! We have a winner!!!!!! Gal in USA got it right!! Amazing - how did you know???? I'm impressed!

This was the dish recommended by the Uchipu when we went out to dinner on Monday night, during my surprise visit to her place. And when I say surprise, I mean 'surprise' - so much so that it was unanticipated even for me! Once the Uchipu rescued me from Laguardia, we dropped our bags off at her apartment and strolled down to Baru.

Baru is a relatively new addition to her Astoria neighborhood. With fancy lounge-style seating and patio dining areas, this place is way hip for Astoria. And the food there was just as good as any of the hipster places in Manhattan and San Francisco.

To start, we ordered half a dozen Kumamotos, two each of two other non-memorable oysters, and two more of the Long Island Clams to make a dozen-piece mollusk plate from the raw bar. The Kumamotos were juicy and sweet with a delicate scent of the ocean. We both really enjoyed the Long Island clams - apparently a local favorite which was no where to be seen when I was in Long Island! They were chewy without being rubbery, flavorful without overpowering, with a hint of sweetness to go with the briny juices.

We continued the mollusk theme and enjoyed the octopus salad. I was a little bit taken back to see pineapples in the salad, but the combination of octopus and pineapple was unexpectedly perfect. The textures played out an interesting contrast and the sweetness of the pineapple was a welcome contrast to the bitterness of the greens. I immensely enjoyed this salad, since I hadn't seen a salad that wasn't swimming in oil in a long, long time.

Then, came our main dishes, and these were just as satisfying as the appetizers. The Uchipu's halibut was cooked to the right temperature with the flesh flaking while retaining moisture inside. Dressed with a squeezed lemon and dabbed with a little bit of the accompanying mayonnaise sauce, this dish was light and flavorful at the same time.

I had a gigantic serving of bouillabaise. Before I went to Paris, this is exactly what I thought of when I thought of bouillabaise too - a tomato-based soupy stew with lots of seafood. The one I had in Paris didn't have a hint of tomato in it and was a spice-filled stew that made me think more of a curry than a tomato soup. Authenticity aside, the bouillabaise at Baru was excellent. It nourished my spirits and warmed me up from the inside. The tomato soup had embraced all of the juicy goodness of the seafood, while the seafood all took on a nice refreshing coating of tomato-infused umami. This bouillabaisse had close to thirty mussels and clams jam packed into the clay pot, along with some shrimp and fish. My favorite? Long Island Clams! They were, again, full of flavor with just the right texture. It's really the texture that got me - mmmmmm. I can feel my teeth sinking into it as I reminisce about it! Incidentally, this bouillabaise came with a humongous serving of linguini in a light tomato sauce. I'm not kidding about this side dish being huge - this plate of pasta alone could've been someone's dinner!!! It was really tasty with al dente pasta, but boy, it was so much food, I couldn't finish the linguini!

After we stuffed our faces, my sister and I had a nice stroll back to her place, where she continued to do her thing astonishingly until 4 AM, allowing me to sleep in her bed until it was time for me to get up to go to the airport. We had a very lovely evening, and the surprise stay in New York turned to be a blessing.

But I have to say... three days of waking up at 4 AM in one week makes for a very tired Alice...

I did make it to Morgantown and am now sitting in the Hotel Morgan's Business Center. It's been a long day, so I'm heading to the shower and then to bed... I will try to post one more time this weekend, although I'm not sure when. And of course, when I get back to the Bay Area, there will be a nice big post about the home-made wedding cake, made by the Mother of the Bride herself!!! Stay tuned!


galinusa said...

Yay!! That was a favourite fish for me when I was a student in the US. Sadly it's not too readily available in Singapore, where my homeland is and where I am now. I am glad the fish was good!!

The Papa Bear said...

I did not get it right. Sniff.

But this prompted me to look up what halibuts look like. And holy cow, they can be BIG!!!

After all these years of eating their flesh, I never knew what they looked like. Now, I can put a face to the name, so to speak. And I thank them for their sacrifices.

I've learned a long time ago to appreciate food that has been "assimilated" into another culture and judge them on their merits alone and not so much on their authenticity. Having tasted both several American-style bouillabaisse and French, I like both styles. Good food is good food.

Beautiful pictures, The Baby Bear. My mouth is watering now as I'm writing and waiting for the microwave oven to warm up my left-overs.

Uchipu said...

I think...the fish is Haddock. I'll go check it later tonight.


Sam said...

oh, yes I was going to say halibut but someone else already picked it so I chose another one ;)