Dinner No. 1 was at the Front Runners New York annual pre-marathon pasta dinner. Like it does every year, the club went all out, bring in a bunch of different pastas and meat dishes. Because I had other dinner plans, I just "sampled" some of the italian sausage and chicken. And a stuffed shell too, haha. Fortunately, I got pulled away before I had a chance to turn to the dessert table, which was looking pretty tasty.
Dane has family in town to watch him run his first NYC Marathon. Dane's mom Diane generously offered to take out me and Ryan to dinner with Dane, his brother and his cousin. I had suggested the Peking Duck House in Chinatown. It's pretty much universally agreed that their Peking duck is the best in the City.
I've actually never eaten there, but I've had their Peking duck before. I've been told that although their duck is amazing, the rest of their food is a bit underwhelming. On a few occasions, my friend Jacky, who is the epitome of class, has bought a duck here for take-out, and taken it right over to another Chinatown restaurant to eat it with that other restuarant's food. Jacky can get away with it because he knows everyone in Chinatown. Anyways, after today's meal, I could understand wanting to do that.
The Peking duck was excellent. The skin was deliciously crisp and sweet. The meat was tender and juicy. For those of you who don't know about the preparation of Peking duck, it is a laborious process that fine restaurants raise to an art form. Air is pumped underneath the skin to separate it from the meat. After a dunk in boiling water, the bird is left to air dry. The skin is glazed with a sweet syrup to give it its delicious taste and texture. After drying for 24 hours, the duck is roasted until it turns a deep shiny brown. It is best carved at the table, cut into thin slices on the bias so that each slice gets a lot of the crispy skin, and served in a pancake with hoisin sauce, cucumbers and scallions. I feel like my mouth is watering as I type this, that was how good this Peking duck was.
This rest of the meal was so-so. Included with the Peking duck dinner was our choice of three entrees from a rather limited list of boring Chinese food. (General Tso's Chicken, Chicken with Broccoli, Beef with Broccoli, you get the picture). We tried to get the three most exciting dishes on the list. We ended up ordering string beans with minced pork (not nearly as good as my long beans with pork); a beef and scallop dish; and a chicken/pork/shrimp dish. The last two dishes were literally the exact same thing except for the different proteins. Kind of a disappointment.
One bonus about this dinner was that when the waiter was carving our duck, I asked to take the carcass home. He happily obliged and wrapped it up for me. Someone's gonna have duck soup next week! (The bummer is that it is one of those Chinatown ducks-with-their-heads-still-on, which gives me the heebie-jeebies. If someone would do me a favor and decapitate it for me, I would be very grateful.)
When I got home tonight, I was pleased to see a small package from my mom. My parents moved about a year ago to San Jose, California. Their new house has a number of fruit trees, including lemon, apricot, plum and persimmon. It looks like the persimmon tree is ready to harvest. :-)