With a few personal days in between jobs this week-end it seems to only make sense that at least one of these days would center around food. I picked Michelle up somewhere around noon, time was not an issue. We spoke about going to one of the Asian markets in Chinatown in the neighborhood around East 30th and Payne. It also seemed like a no brainer to stop off at the West Side Market. I have not been there in quite some time and I now regret such a long sabbatical. While I’m a professional chef Michelle is a true foodie and it’s great to have that bridge, that common communication to relay on.
The Hong Kong Market is the most hard core of all the Asian markets in town. You are very lucky if anyone approaches you, and count it a true blessing if someone speaks English to you. I consider this part of the intrigue. They have great fresh produce, golden chives, boc choy of every variety, durian, pears, citrus, eggs…a lot of very interesting stuff. The seafood area was a real eye opener too. Live lobster, crabs, clams, really nice looking razor clams, tilapia and the always heart wrenching frogs are available for purchase at very reasonable prices. We bought some sandalwood soap, wonton soup base, Thai logan fruit, a dragon fruit, pickled Thai gooseberries, and a dolphin snow globe thingy for Kari! We figured a lot of things out on our own on this trip, but we are still not sure what a code “5199” is? I’m guessing it’s “we need help at the registers,” or “there are silly white people here.” Being able to laugh at yourself is true humility.
And, on to the next one. The West Side Market looked crazy, and I even questioned myself, “Why bother on a Saturday?” In retrospect why the hell did I even question myself? I’ve visited the WSM an uncountable number of times. When I was child we did a considerable amount of shopping for the family there. When I worked east of the WSM I went there often in search of inspiration and/or something specific. While working on East 4th we went to the market every Wednesday for 8 months. Why did I take something so great for granted? It’s been about a year since I went to the WSM, and I’m so happy we went yesterday. Almost every stall was full, open and well stocked. There were a lot of people there. Not an insanely mass you ask yourself, “How many kids am I going to knock down to get out of here?” It was very encouraging to see so many younger people shopping there. Surely you can imagine grandma with here push cart shopping at the same meat stand for the past 30 years. Hopefully the young people there yesterday are forging the same type of relationships.
I love the apple wood smoked stand, and bought some wicked awesome pastrami, smoked sauerkraut, and pork chops there. I also grabbed huge loaf of asiago bread from a stand just down the way. Lil’ sis got some dill pickle popcorn, interesting! Sabastian Meats is one of my all time favorite stands and we got some brisket, ground beef and a veal tongue. Kate’s Fish looked well stocked. The Ohio City Pasta and herbs at Chef Cubed looked ready to rock. Our final buy was a small slab of double smoked paprika rubbed bacon from the Hungarian stand. A nod to our great grandmother.
While gazing at the variety of cuts at the Sebastian stand I was asked a perfectly honest question, “Have you ever eaten tongue? What is it like?” Well that was an idea to run with. And sure enough 4 hours later we munched on braised veal tongue. Michelle was the brave one to peel it. That makes my stomach turn and I’ve done it a few times. To my great surprise everyone found it as pleasant as possible. The undertone of the situation was, “If I didn’t know what it was I’d eat more, but…..tongue is kinda gross,” and I don’t deny that sentiment.
One small veal tongue about one pound
Five whole cloves
Two bay leaf
One tablespoon whole black peppercorns
One tablespoon coriander
One small onion chopped in half
Water to cover
I rinsed the tongue under cold water for a few minutes cause there seemed to be some blood and guts that come with it at no extra charge. Put everything in a pot, bring to a boil, and simmer on low for an hour. Now the gross out part is peeling the skin off the meat. After that eat it with some mustard, pickles and bread.