Ok so what happens when you take a naive pastry student and place her smack dab in the middle of Manhattan for 3 days? Crickets… Well I’ll tell you because that is exactly what I did, with due reason of course. I am pretty good at a little something called pastry, it’s a kind of weird talent or knack of mine that I cannot explain and prevented me from pursuing my parents' dream of my becoming a doctor. Note to all: If you have the grades and the book smarts (aka you're a nerd, like myself) try your best not to disappoint your Jewish mother’s dreams or she will throw a few tantrums and lecture about how you better marry a jewish doctor or lawyer, not a chef. Well I must say it was quite lovely delivering the news that I will be staging at Per Se, arguably one of the best restaurants in the country, definitely on the east coast! Though she had no idea what Per Se was or that a stage was a production based interview and not a Broadway performance, my mother was able to grasp that it was kind of a big deal and for a lapse of time forgot that her little angel would be roaming around the big bad city for a few days.
Equipped with a box of chocolate chip cookies from one of the freshman classes I TA’d for at Johnson & Wales, I began my trip via Megabus to NYC where I’d stay at my friend Nick’s apartment for the duration of my time in the big apple. The bus dropped me off at 28th and 7th, the middle of busy Manhattan, on a Saturday afternoon. I know I looked like a lost outsider as I bounded for my suitcase from below the bus before some stranger swiped it! I proceeded to turn in circles to find which street was next up, left, right, so confused. A lovely stranger assisted me with directions and asked for some change or monetary donation. The moment of truth! Will the naïve, clumsy chef give the needy some change and reveal to the entire city the exact location of her wallet? My friends would certainly be proud because I told the nice man that I had no cash on me but I would be happy to give him some cookies! Yes, you read correctly, the first thing I did in New York City was trade chocolate chip cookies made with couverture for directions, and guess what? I kept doing that as I proceeded to get lost on the Manhattan Subway System for two hours before finding my friend Nick’s apartment at 71 Broadway, not 71st and Broadway. Whoops! Well needless to say, Nick and his roommates were lucky to get half a box of cookies.
Back at the apartment, I attempted to explain my mission for the next three days to the boys residing there: Eat my way through the city at restaurants and cafes recommended by my chef instructors and wise friends. Crickets… similar to the crisp, crunchy, crack of a kosher dill pickle, Nick’s roommate Eamon bites into a raw potato with salt. What did I just walk into? In a city where the food is everything, at least in my view, these college kids have moved past ramen and straight to raw, starchy vegetables! I tried this culinary abomination and was surprised to find that it was in fact edible, but lacking all flavors any normal human should desire. In a food world brimming with modernist cuisine I could see brunoise raw potatoes in some strange salad, they do have a unique crunch, but these guys were in dire need of a food revolution.
Our first stop was Joe’s Ginger for dumplings. Eric, a fellow TA and good friend of mine, told me I had to try these “soupy” dumplings in Chinatown and he recommended Joe’s Ginger. It didn’t look all that special amongst the array of Chinese restaurants. But all around us were Chinese New Year festivities so generally everything besides the confetti covered streets was lackluster. The place was packed so that was my indication we hit the jackpot and were in for something good. Because we had many more restaurants to covet, we decided just to order these renowned soupy dumplings for the table. In a jiffy the steamer was brought to our table and beneath the lid were the little pockets of heaven. As we took our first bites, everyone’s face grimaced then smiled because after the squirt of hot, oily soup shoots in your mouth you get to the warm meatball in the center. I try to slurp the last bit of soup out of dumpling and then eat the tender shell that encapsulated it. Mmmm…so savory, umami, delicious! After one bite I knew I’d have to get the recipe someday. I am so glad I am going to Israel on the Birthright trip because I have now met who I presume to be the Dumpling Queen, Molly Yeh and I believe she is willing to share her tasty recipe for “Soupy” Dumplings.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed my guest post. Big shout out to Molly Yeh!
this post is part of the dumpling a day while i'm away guest blogger series. i'm in israel right now so i've gotten some awesome bloggers, photographers, and writers, to showcase delicious dumplings. if you're interested in being a dumpling guest blogger, send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. yay!