Sunday, June 28, 2009

Long live your laundry!!!

Damn...once again, I've been bumped down on the death pool.

Billy Mays...apparently ate too many Bay City Sliders. Long live his laundry!

Oxy-clean it!

Friday, June 26, 2009

The King is dead…long live the King!

First David Carradine, then Ed McMahon, Farrah and now the King of Pop. Frankly, this is very upsetting to me, mostly because I had Cronkite in the office death pool…who would have thought Michael Jackson would be taking the eternal dirt nap before Walter Cronkite, or even Patrick Swayze? Nobody puts Billie Jean in a corner.

Hearing the news of Michael’s death immediately brought me back to a friend’s house, watching “Motown 25”, right after the release of “Thriller.” To watch Michael Jackson perform that evening was mesmerizing. What he could do with his feet and the rest of his body was crazy. Who among you have not tried to duplicate his “Moonwalk”? I know some of you even have one of those red leather jacket tucked into a closet. As I told the Junior Palette today, Michael Jackson changed the musical landscape of the ‘80s by ushering in the MTV era. Say what you will about “Video Killed the Radio Star” but the Buggles have nothing on Michael Jackson and “Thriller.”

Michael Jackson’s life unfortunately parallels that of his late father-in-law Elvis (a more legitimate marriage there never was between him and Lisa-Marie…). Elvis burst on the scene as a young performer, hit his stride young, had to make a comeback in 1968, then turned into a bloated shell of his former superstar self. Michael made it 8 years longer than Elvis, but he probably was just a few steps from having cardiac arrest on the crapper. His life had taken tremendously tragic turns, mostly brought on by his own psychosis. Whether it was the issues with skin pigmentation, plastic surgery, sham marriages, his obsession with monkeys and the Elephant Man, or with little boys, his personal life was in shambles. He was “friends” with McCauley Culkin, Liza Minnelli, Liz Taylor and Schmuley Boteach…would you be proud of those? It is unclear to me whether society will remember him more for his music, or for his personal failings.

If anyone saw the 1995 Playboy issue with Farrah Fawcett, we know why we’ll remember her.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

From the Radio Waves to your Plate

Thanks to Jordan Rich, friend and talk-show host extraordinaire on WBZ for having me on to chat about Asian cuisine. As promised, now that my sodium level has fallen back down to more reasonable limits, it’s time to discuss.

Just a little comment on my methodology-at each place, I usually try to order similar items, to compare apples to apples. While eating in a large group, I’ll order a bunch of things, but it always has to include “hot and sour soup” and some version of “Kung Pao Chicken”. It may be called “Szechuan Spicy Chicken” or “Spicy Chicken with Peanuts”, but its still “Kung Pao” to me. Eric likes his chicken spicy!

14 different places, 14 different meals and experiences. I ate at some of these places more than once, and tried some different things; I’ve been with people who like to eat jellyfish and duck-web (tastes like…duck-web!)

In ascending order…

Only one place was truly underwhelming-“Taste of China” in Framingham. TOC is more of a take-out joint than sit down, but there are tables available if you want to sit among the floating grease particles coming from the fryolators…The “Kung Pao” was a thin, watery sauce, and oddly, used salted peanuts. It was heavy with water chestnuts and celery (my least favorite vegetable). The hot and sour soup was thin, with some small pieces of tofu and maybe a few shreds of wood-ear mushroom. I like my soup thick with tofu and mushrooms, and this was a cup full of nothing. After I ate there, I was still in the mood for Chinese food…Thumbs down!

From TOC, things could only get better.

“Zheng Garden” was the first of several “whelming” experiences. ZG has taken the place of “Yummy Tummy” (don’t you just loves some of these names?) in the Nobscot region of Framingham. ZG is also mostly take-out, but with about a dozen tables to dine-in. I ate there one Friday night, and I was the only person in the whole place, though several people came in to pick up some orders. ZG is the type of place where you don’t need a menu. Their core items are combination plates, and they have color photos on the wall of all the choices. If you’ve ever been to a take-out style Chinese restaurant, they all have the same photos, so it shouldn’t be any surprise that the food doesn’t look exactly like the pictures. I will say that the execution is better here than TOC, so I give them some credit from trying to bring some Chinese street-cred to Nobscot, which is totally lacking in any street-cred.

And when it comes to Chinese food, you gotta have street-cred…

More tomorrow, as we climb from the nadir to the apex of Chinese cuisine.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Senior Palate Speaks Chinese!

I’ve been doing a lot of “wokking” about lately, and continue to eat my way through the Asian delights of the MetroWest and surrounding area.

So far, as I noted the other day, I’ve eaten at Royal East (Cambridge-big surprise), Lavender and Lotus Blossom (Sudbury), Lotus Flower, Imperial China, Sichuan Gourmet, Eo Noodle and Taste of China (Framingham), The Wok (Wellesley), Taam China and Chef Chang’s (Brookline), Shanghai-Tokyo in Natick.

But, in the spirit of equal opportunity, I gave the Senior Palate, the King of All Asian Buffets, an opportunity to share his thoughts on the Asian buffets that seemingly pop-up everywhere. As someone who travels throughout New England, and who has consumed his fair share of Asian delights over the years, he feels qualified to share his thoughts. Frankly, anyone with a stomach is probably qualified.

Here are a few snippets from a recent email from the Senior Palate. Bear in mind that he doesn’t know the name of many of these places, and doesn’t really care. He knows how to find them (isn’t that what’s really important?):

From SP (my comments in italics):

“I rate these on the basis of quality and variety and taste and THE COST --if I am spending my money I want to get my money’s worth (coming from the man who once ate 19 lobsters at one meal…yes, he likes to get his money’s worth).

The best overall buffet is in S. Portland Maine -- on the Maine Mall road -- the Great Wall buffet.. I rate this the best because of quality and taste and variety of food --THE ABSOLUTE BEST IN NEW ENGLAND (nothing says fine Asian Buffet dining more than “Maine”. It’s known for that.)

Staying up north we have one in Manchester, NH-- going up 93 to 293 take the first exit (S. Willow St) at the end of the ramp take a right -- about 1/4 mile on the left is a shopping plaza and in there is a pretty good buffet – can’t think of the name

IN NASHUA -- go up Rte 3 to exit 7w and follow the road about 1/2 mile on the left-a buffet that is pretty good (he can sniff these out, like a bloodhoud on the trail).

Not far from the house there’s the Marlborough Super Buffet: pretty good and worth the money--Rte 20 in the Staples plaza (I’ll have an eggroll and some paper clips please…that was easy!)

Hudson Super Buffet is also good -- take a right after Tucks Truck on Rte 85 and a little ways down on the left across from the cemetary (perfect for post-burial shiva).

Lotus Flower in Framingham –the price to value ratio doesn’t work.

Buffet on Rte 16 in Milford on the right near the industrial park is ok

Buffet in Webster is just so-so --- off of 395, Exit 2 heading south take a right at the end of the ramp and at the lights take a right and an immediate left into the parking lot right next to the Gulf gas station (and I thought there was nothing in Webster).

In Connecticut, off of Rte 84 in Manchester ( exit 63 or 64 ) is one that is pretty good (skip Rein’s, and hit the buffet, where they serve Kung Pao Pastrami)...

Also in CT, Exit 16 off of Rte 91--Main St, Meriden... end of ramp take a right and a little ways up on the left is one that is so-so (did you expect anything more? How can Meriden compete with South Portland Maine).

Anyways, tune in to WBZ 1030 at midnight, Friday/Saturday June 19/20 when we talk Asian cusine.

You’ve been great…enjoy Toshiko Akioshi..

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Ahhh Grasshopper…

How appropriate that while I have embarked on my 3 week “Wok About 2009” Asian food quest, in preparation for my next appearance on “The Jordan Rich Show” on June 19, 2009 at midnight (WBZ 1030AM), we pause to take a moment of silence and honor the memory of David Carradine, “Caine” of “Kung Fu” (don’t laugh, it was nominated for 7 Emmys its first season, including “Best Actor”) and “Frankenstein” in the classic “Death Race 2000.”

Ah, Grasshopper has snatched the final pebble from his master’s hand, but apparently from all reports, it was not a pebble he was snatching. Sounds like he was a big Michael Hutchence fan…look up the cause of death on the Internet…. Clearly, a guy that made a soup from the placenta of his first child wasn’t dealing with a full deck (I hear it tastes like chicken). It’s too bad, because as most of you know, I try to emulate Caine, with the quiet, Zen-like reserved inner-strength (keeping my opinions to myself…minding my own business). My rice paper has torn…. Like Billy Jack, Caine was among the heroes of a youth mis-spent in front of a TV tuned to Channels 56 or 38. Rest is peace, Grasshopper.

For those of you following my wok-about...once again I am pushing myself to the limits for all of you. At times, I feel like Kobayashi cramming egg rolls after chicken fingers after dumplings after beef tendons, all in the name of science…so far, I’ve eaten at Royal East (Cambridge-big surprise), Lavender and Lotus Blossom (Sudbury), Lotus Flower, Imperial China and Sichuan Gourmet (Framingham), The Wok (Wellesley), Taam China (Brookline). Next week, among others, I’ll be eating at Chung Shin Yuan in Watertown. Details are coming soon…tune in to the radio show for the full rundown, and to hear about my cholesterol levels…

You've been great. Enjoy Carl Douglas...

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Balcony is Open

Thanks to some of you “anonymous” posters here, and you not so anonymous posters on Facebook suggesting Chinese restaurants; I have begun to create my list, and while I gear up for “Wok About 2009” (thanks to Ed K. for the catchy name), I thought I’d share some thoughts about some recent movies.

As you know, the Hollywood and local movie press and I have a “love-hate” relationship. I love the movies and the whole experience, but hate when the movie critics anoint a movie to be the apex of a genre, when in actuality, it’s the nadir (“Children of Men” anyone?) Lately, I’ve decided while I’ll read certain reviews, I’ll see the movies and decide for myself whether the movie has any value. I’ve been to the movies quite a bit lately, and share with you these thoughts…

“Duplicity” starring Julia Roberts and Clive Owen. I’m not sure I can ever forgive Owen for “Children of Men” or even “Derailed”, but Julia Roberts is maturing nicely…in all the right ways. I like the sharp dialogue in this corporate espionage “thriller”, and she fills out the business suits nicely. Rounding out the cast was Tom Wilkinson and Paul Giamatti, who hasn’t been this funny since he played “Pig Vomit” in “Howard Stern’s Private Parts”.

“State of Play”-Russell Crowe as a “seen it all, wrote it all” investigative reporter for a Washington newspaper (the best role played by a newspaper since the “LA Tribune” in “Lou Grant”), following a story involving his former college roommate, now Senator Ben Affleck (how can they be roommates when they’re 20 years apart in age?). Actually, a pretty good thriller, which could have been made slightly better by some skin from Rachel McAdams, or even the older “Caligula Cougar” Helen Mirren. Also featured in a small, but compelling role, Jason Bateman, who is really turning into quite a force in Hollywood, even since his turn on Silver Spoons. If he’s on-screen, pay attention.

“Star Trek”-I am neither a Trekkie, nor a Trekker, but I enjoy a good space opera now and then. Having seen most of the “Star Trek” movies, this was definitely the best, or tied with the first one, which starred a young Stephen Collins and a very bald Persis Khambatta (I have a thing for baldness…). This movie was an enjoyable romp through some revisionist history, and certainly opens the door for future movies with new storyline, without being held hostage to pre-determined destiny. Eric gives it two “Live Long and Prospers”.

“Hannah Montana”-gotta love being one of only five men on opening day, which happened to be Good Friday, so only every tween and younger girl NEEDS to see the very first shows. Ugh…I went in there with a fully charged “Treo” battery, ready to play Yahtzee for 96 minutes. Well, surprise, surprise…it was actually quite good. Very high production values, catchy music, entertaining dance numbers (I did have different expectations for “Ho-Down Throw-Down, but this was rated PG)…but I say it’s “Hee Haw” approved. As far as kid-positive message movies go, I liked it and have no problem if Junior Miss Palette wants to buy the DVD. I’d rather that, than more “Phineas and Pherb” on Tivo!!!

You’ve been great…enjoy Buck Owens and Roy Clark.