Saturday Is Chinese Day in WP, The Raw and The Cooked, Wine 101, and Deep-Fried Chicken Feet

Sino-Saturday in White Plains

This may be an inflammatory statement, but I’m going to make it. Westchester is light on even decent Chinese restaurants. This puzzles me because we have such diversity in great South Asian restaurants. Our Indian dining options include two street-food specialists (one vegetarian); a wine bar/boutique (Orissa); a cultish Pakistani grocery with tables and takeout (Westchester Grocery); an Indian Bistro (Chutney Masala); and literally scores of others. Yet our handy Zagat guide lists only a few Chinese contenders (including the famous chain-of-death, P.F. Chang’s, whose décor celebrates mortuary sculptures. (Can you imagine a gravestone-themed American restaurant in China?). The rest of Westchester’s Sino fare is served by ubiquitous corner joints, doling out massive, frozen egg rolls and wan chicken with broccoli. Folks, it won’t do.

Here’s what we propose when you need your Chinese fix. First, buy one of Fuchsia Dunlop’s wonderful cookbooks, like her Sichuan-centric  Land of Plenty: A Treasury of Authentic Sichuan Cooking or her Hunan-centric Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook. My personal favorite is Land of Plenty, as I’m addicted to Chelsea’s Grand Sichuan and Flushing’s Spicy & Tasty. Page through the book, and pick out a few dishes that you want try. Write down the ingredients, though bringing the book along is also fine idea. Both of Dunlop’s books have handy identifying photos for unfamiliar imported ingredients. You’ll find everything you need where we’re going.

Second, hit Kam Sen Asian Market on Saturday morning, perhaps stopping first at the take-out counter for a breakfast of crispy, greasy crescent dumplings and fat scallion pancakes. These make excellent snacks as you wheel through the aisles, marveling at 25,000 square feet of Chinese and Asian imports, fresh produce, fish, and meat. Assemble your ingredients (you can even pick up a wok, chopsticks, and deep rectangular Chinese knives), and don’t forget to hit the freezer case for big-box-sized bags of pork and chive dumplings, just like at your corner restaurant. We’re fans of the prepared pork buns and skinny, salty-sweet Chinese sausages in the refrigerators, which are delicious tucked into summer rolls, fried rice, or even scrambled eggs. But even if you don’t cook, or you forgot your Dunlop, you can hit the take-out counter for Peking duck, scallion chickens, char siu barbecue pork; in fact, there’s an entire hot-food buffet.

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Next, it’s lunchtime—time for Aberdeen’s dim sum, where you’ll meet up with a lot of the families with whom you’d just been shopping at Kam Sen. Grandmothers, babies, everyone shows up in day-off garb, but even if there’s a line,  no worries—these brisk waiters move you in and out, fast and with a smile. As soon as you drop into the seat, the trolly ladies will swarm, offering cute bamboo steamers of gooey, deep-fried chicken feet that taste of five-spice powder and yumminess. Soft and porky shu mai, juicy soup dumplings, pencil-thin shrimp rolls, deep-fried sweet pork dumplings (gooey, sweet skin and crisp crust), steamed pork dumplings, sautéed pea shoots, roasted duck. It’s a total, speed pig-out, washed down with tea.


Saturday Dim Sum at Aberdeen: fast, family-friendly, and the best local Chinese you’re gonna get. Pictured: shrimp buns, chicken feet, pork shu mai, and shrimp rolls.

 


Crispy pork dumpling. Crisp shell, gooey sweet pastry, and pork—what’s not to love?


Pork shu mai: pillowy, steamed Sino gnudi

Go home and take a long nap. You will be sated, but exhausted.

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Wake up and crack that cookbook (or heat up your takeout). Then finish Sino Saturday eating your home-cooked feast while watching the work of Westchester resident and foodie Ang Lee. I’m thinking The Wedding Banquet or Eat Drink Man Woman should do nicely. 


Don’t miss The Raw and The Cooked event. Also, get your PhD (professional, high-falutin’ drinker) on with these local classes.

The Raw and The Cooked with Chefs Peter Kelly and Doug Nguyen

April 6, 7 pm at Wasabi in Nyack, New York, and April 27 at Restaurant X and Bully Boy Bar in Congers, New York

$125 per person, exclusive of tax and tip

No, folks—this is not that Fine Young Cannibals CD from the ‘80s with that exceptionally attractive Roland Gift on the cover. From the announcement: “The Raw and The Cooked: 2 Very Special Evenings; 2 Meals to remember. Dinner served in 10 courses, accompanied by appropriate wine & spirit pairings. Doug Nguyen of Wasabi and Peter Kelly of Xaviar’s invite you to join them as they create 2 very special dinners. Each chef will present 5 courses in alternating sequence to offer guests a view onto their critically acclaimed styles and techniques. Dinners are price-fixed at $125 per person and include all food and beverages. Each evening will be kept to 60 exclusive guests Wednesday April 6, 2011, at 7 pm, Wasabi Restaurant, Nyack, NY. A Multi-Course Tasting Menu presenting All Foods Raw, Wednesday, April 27, 2011 at 7 pm, Restaurant X Congers, NY. A Multi-Course Menu Presenting All Foods Cooked.”  Check out websites for complete menu.

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Wine Classes by Westchester Wine School at Sam’s of Gedney Way
April 11:  Wizards of Oz – Australian Wine
According to the site, “It’s not all Yellowtail, King of Shiraz, Australia produces outstanding Chardonnays, Rieslings, Cabernet Sauvignons, and Pinot Noirs”         
April 20: The Truth about Wine and Cheese  
While this subject can be complex, here is one clear, and clearly explained, take on the pairing of wine and cheese. Come enjoy the pairings, and learn about good cheeses and good wine.

$85 per class (10-percent discount if you book both classes; $75 per class)  

Wine Basics 101 at Suburban Wines & Spirits  
April 13, 7 – 9 pm
$30 per person (paid in advance and prior to noon on 04/11)
From the site: “This seminar is a basic lesson in how to: remember wine names, understand and order from a wine list, pair wines with popular foods, and build your own wine cellar—taught by Jay Roelof, our Director of Education, with a special focus on reasonably priced, varietal wines. Three or four flights of wines will be poured from the 10 top selling wines in our 2/26 Chile vs. Argentina event—and sliced cheese, bread, and sausage are served.”

HotFlash

Batali and Bastianich to Open in Tarry Lodge Enoteca Pizzeria in Westport, Connecticut!

We just spoke with Joe Bastianich and he and his partner, Mario Batali, plan to debut Westport’s Tarry Lodge Enoteca and Pizzeria in June. This “smaller, slightly scaled back” offshoot of Port Chester’s Tarry Lodge is following the appearance of Shake Shack and Pinkberry in that idyllic coastal town. Except—of course—that Westchester had Tarry Lodge first, so Connecticut can just suck it.


Ooey, Gooey, Rich, and Chewy: Aberdeen’s Chicken Feet Dim Sum

Let’s just get the obvious out of the way. This is an actual chicken foot with a lot of bones and skin and not much meat. It probably pawed around in a cage and definitely spent its earthly time on the end of a living drumstick. Still reading? Okay, this dish is all about the luxurious, five-spice powdered skin that has been braised and deep-fried until it is as slippery and succulent as a good aspic. You slip the skin off the bones with your lips, repeat. And repeat—until the trolly lady brings more.

 

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