TaldePosted: February 22, 2012
I read some new pages last night at Dixon Place as part of the Wicked Queer Authors series, curated by Marty Correia, who is a fabulous writer (and is doing this interesting Write America Project.) I think I got some video, and if it turns out, I’ll post it here in a few days. Marty gave me the best introduction I’ve ever had at a reading, for realz, I was so honored. It was personal, genuine, and talked about my work on this blog and particularly how, “I don’t know how this guy doesn’t weigh 400 pounds the way he eats,” because I’m always writing about food. I think the last few years I write more about food. As it becomes more interesting to me. As I become a better cook myself. (This, from the kid who ate peanut butter on hot dogs every day until high school. True story.) So, here’s more about what I ate, and Marty, this one’s for you.
Last Sunday night, the day before the holiday Monday, Kip and I went to Talde in Park Slope, which is Dale Talde’s new casual-Chinese place. If you watch Top Chef, which I do, you’ll know that he’s a badass chef, and also he’s smokin’ hot sexy. I knew it would be a madhouse, so we went early, 5:30, and already there was a 45-minute wait, which we expected, so we sat at the bar. I had a couple of “Brooklyn Slings” which is gin, cherry liquor, pineapple, and bitters. It was superb, even if we did have to wait a while to be served — or even acknowledged. Dear Bartenders Everywhere: We can see that you are slammed, but a little eye contact goes a long way. Kip had a couple of Hitachino Red Rice Ales. I don’t generally like beer, but I very much like Hitachino.
Since we were only two, we sat at the “chef’s counter” in the back, which faces the open kitchen — I like to watch people cook, and I like to see the orchestration that goes on to make a kitchen run smoothly. We started with the Perilla Leaf appetizer — with toasted shrimp, coconut, bacon-tamarind caramel, peanuts — which was a bit over-sold by the waiter, but we were there to spend money and eat well, so we leapt at it, no grudges. It was a fantastic little plate of single bites — every flavor at once, showing off what sort of places you expect to go with the coming meal. Some people on Yelp seem to think that this should be served as an amuse, not a $5 appetizer, well, it’s a casual Park Slope joint, so hey everybody relax.
Then we had the Saigon Crepes, which is crunchy and light, not like a soft crepe that you might be thinking of, and, holy crap it was good — maybe it was the best thing we ate all night, with smoked shrimp, Chinese bacon, mint, and I think I recall bean sprouts, cilantro, and basil. If you go, have this. It’s killer. Also have the Pretzel Pork and Chive Dumplings, which are like your traditional pork and chive dumpling punched up with crunchy pretzel salt and a darker, doughier wrapper.
Who wants salad or soup when you can have pretzel dumplings and fried crepes with bacon?
We shared the BBQ Smoked Pork Shoulder, which has a miso-mustard sauce on top, and a fresh pear…hash?…as garnish. This is my only complaint, a very minor, snobby, needy complaint: Give us some more pear, jesus, it’s a pear, I’ve got a huge slab of perfectly cooked, shoulder that’s been under the broiler getting more and more fabulous, I need more of that fruit to cut the fat. But damn, the shoulder was delicious. The market vegetable that night was a Chinese green, I didn’t catch the name when the waiter mentioned it, and we had it stir-fried with edamame — superb.
We also had the Black Pepper Toast, which was nice along with the pork and the greens. What is this new toast moment we’re having in restaurants? It’s a thing, right? I think it has something to do with the current comfort food trend, seems like everyone is serving a toast dish as a side, or maybe they’ve figured out a way to get us to pay $3 for a slice of hot bread cut into triangles.
I suppose at some point they’ll have a real pastry chef — they only opened about 5 weeks ago — but for now there is only the one dessert: Halo Halo with Original Cap’n Crunch and the usual additions — coconut, evaporated milk, jelly-tapioca-maybe things. Don’t freak out, just get it.
So, in a word: go.