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Fussy Fast Food

November 17, 2014

One of the best perks of a flexible schedule is the ability to prepare lunch in your home kitchen. Among my fondest memories of those early days in California is making my favorite Italian sausage sandwiches for lunch. I’d saute the onions and peppers, brown the sausage, and deglaze the pan with a bit of tomato sauce. It was heaven.

Man, I wish I had the metabolism I enjoyed in my twenties.

My tastes have changed, and I’ve been enjoying more than my fair share of kimchi fried rice lunches. Perhaps it’s foolish to imagine these lunches as more healthful, but except for a little fish in the kimchi, the meal is largely vegetarian. And I’m using brown rice to boot.

I’ve said before that I’m no monk. I don’t pretend to live some kind of perfect clean-food lifestyle. And there are days when I’m running around without time for a proper lunch. Like most people, sometimes I’m compelled to seek out quick and filling convenience foods. That said, my convenience foods aren’t the typical drive-thru fare. Not that they are any more healthy, but I’d argue they are substantially more delicious.

Oh. My. God. Look at those buns.

With respect to Sir Mix-a-Lot, those shelves of golden baked buns at the Hong Kong Bakery & Bistro are so glorious “even white boys got to shout.” For just a bit more than a buck a pop, and a buy three get one free every day offer, this is a cheap, delicious, and quick meal. The hardest part is avoiding the urge to make the illegal u-turn on Wolf Road to get into the restaurant’s parking lot.

Young Master Fussy loves the barbeque pork buns. Little Miss Fussy generally opts for the sweeter red bean bun, but I figure beans are a vegetable, so it’s all good. Speaking of vegetables, their taro bun is also a perpetual favorite of mine, in spite of its lavender hued interior.

Yesterday was the first time I had seen the chicken and mushroom baked bun. It had vibrant chunks of ginger inside too. Good stuff. Plus I have a newfound appreciation for the spicy beef curry bun. The sadness of the cows and questionable sourcing of the ground beef is drowned out by the aromatics of the spice blend and the sweetness of the surrounding dough.

One bun stops a grumbling stomach. Two can make a light meal. Three are enough for anyone. I could probably put away four, but that last one wouldn’t be nearly as much fun as the first few.

Liquid Lunch

Those drinks that people order from Starbucks all the time? People may call them coffee, but let’s be honest. They are mostly milkshakes. I say let’s stop this charade and just replace meals with a real honest to goodness milkshake.

In this part of the world, we have Stewart’s Shops everywhere. Remember these words,  “Extra thick Philly vanilla milk shake, no syrup.” That last part is important, because the good folks of Stewart’s want to put some weird sticky vanilla syrup into your shake. Don’t let them. That Philly Vanilla has plenty of good flavor, especially when you are going for the gusto and getting the extra scoop of ice cream.

The extra thick chocolate shake isn’t bad either, but that requires a bit more direction. In addition to no-syrup, you also have to request that it’s made with Stewart’s chocolate milk. I’ve never had that request rejected, but it is a special request.

Honestly, I don’t want to think about how much fat and calories I’m guzzling down in each soul-satisfying sip. But those cups don’t last long, and they are really packed full of ice cream. It’s a treat to be sure, and one that I only take advantage of on particularly trying days. Even still, I think it’s something far too few adults consider for a meal on the go.

Slices are Life

The kids are finally developing a decent pizza palate. Little Miss Fussy enjoys Nico’s in Schenectady because the shop barely uses any sauce. Young Master Fussy hates slices there for exactly the same reason. Fortunately they can both agree that I Love on Upper Union Street is a solid everyday kind of slice. I like how the pie is cooked on the oven floor, and the bottom crust is nice and crisp.

Maybe one day I’ll be able to get the kids to explain why Paesan’s doesn’t pass muster. But I did share with them the story about watching the pie-man popping the crust bubbles with a fork, and they were appropriately mortified.

Probably about as mortified as Mrs. Fussy will be to hear this story. That’s fine. She’s off to California in a couple of days, and I’ve got a full week of activities which include my first visit to Rolf’s since our return, the last CSA pickup of the season, cocktails with friends, and a road trip to Providence.

Regrettably, I’m not going to be able to make the Chefs’ Consortium Fundraiser on Thursday or Josh’s Rock & Roll Brunch 8 on Sunday. Hopefully some of you can go in my place and tell me about all the great things I missed.

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