Where in world...?

An old friend phoned the other day. He never phones. But this time he just had to know: "What are you doing living in Florence?"
He thought I was in Florence, Italy. I told him it was Florence, Massachusetts.
Here are some answers -- my occasional wanderings through Florence, MA and the surrounding Pioneer Valley.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Dim Sum and Phoenix Talons: Florentina New York Nosh Week

Wednesday was a major day of noshing through New York City. The day began with dim sum in Manhattan's Chinatown. For those readers who have rarely had this pleasure, you want to pick a restaurant that is super busy. I know this runs counter to what some diners would prefer, but in this case, more people = more dim sum dishes = fresher stuff. We were at Kam Fong on Elizabeth Street this morning, and ended up at a table of nine people. All of them are related to me in some fashion, and all of them love dim sum. It is the way for relatives to see each other and have a good time. Dim sum with a large table is a way to show togetherness. Some people forget this fundamental function of dim sum and ruin it for everyone else, but we are not interested in those freaks today. Today we had a spread that would send a vegetarian running for a cave.

On my left were my mother's cousin, my aunt from California, mother's other cousin, and my parents. On my right were Joey's Dad, my two cousins from California, and my brother. My cousins Oliver and Mona were eager to meet Joey's Dad, and they were curious as to his culinary adventurousness. Oliver had laughed about testing him with chicken feet, otherwise known as "phoenix talons" or something romantic like that. My cousins knew that Joey's Dad was a capable candidate because of my story about his consumption of a durian milkshake. Durian is not a fruit to be messed with, as my cousin Mona once described it as tasting like garbage.

We had many different plates of dumplings, and two versions of chicken feet. For those who want to know what the two different versions were, let me know and I'll talk more about it on another blog. Dim Sum is a minor food orgy spread over multiple stomachs, if you arrange things properly. In a matter of seconds, the large round table in front of you can be filled with little plates, courtesy of one's very eager Dad.
Before Dad.
After Dad.
As you can see, there are all sorts of things in little steamers, and the pots of tea are always ready to refill the little teacups. Usually we will also find glasses of water, but we went all traditional this morning because it was a little bit on the early side (9:30am) for the wait staff to pay much attention to us. Lots of older folks will go for a little tea and dim sum in the morning, almost like a stop off at the diner or cafe. It's a good place to get a shot of protein and caffeine. In this morning's dim sum, we had only one item that had any significant vegetable matter: the bamboo shoots wrapped in bean curd sheets. Even that little dish had a touch of pork in it. This protein and caffeine filled morning gave us cousins the boost to keep going to the next stops, as you'll see next.

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