Saturday, August 18, 2012


On our Friday night in Pittsburgh, we went out to a Chinese restaurant on the list of “recommends” that Kim had obtained from friends, and they were absolutely right---it was a lovely place, with whispery fountains and soft-walking, gracious serving ladies, as well as spectacular food.

Our lady took the soup orders, then returned with a basket of still-warm, crispy wide noodles for dipping into the little bowls of “duck sauce” at each place.    Mike much approved his Hot and Sour soup, and we debated the merits of having/not having rice in the bowl---we lean toward “having,” for we make a whole meal of Caro’s marvelous concoction several times each Winter, and that bed of plump little Calrose pearls just “sets it off.”

Mike’s was slender strips of tender beef and crisp vegetables in a very spicy sauce.   I chopsticked one strip from the proffered plate, and declined another.   It was HOTTT.

Kim ordered her favorite:  Coconut Shrimp, and instead of the usual very-crisp, shreds-in-the-batter shrimp tossed atumble like rocks amidst the parsley, it was an artfully-arranged dish of proud-tails-aloft shrimp on bright shards of celery, with a lovely scatter of sauce and a snowing of almost-powdered coconut atop.  Just lovely, though I did not taste one.

We decided those festive flowers must be thin curls of turnip or daikon, dyed for the effect.

My own “AMAZING CHICKEN” was scrumptious.   “Tell me about the Amazing Chicken,” I said to the lady-with-the-pencil.  The tiny red pepper beside the name on the menu had led me to inquire, because once, in a never-to-be forgotten venture into a new-to-us restaurant here, I’d had a memorable surprise.  

We’d taken Daddy out on one of his visits, and had chosen a much-admired place, with all the beautiful décor---pink tablecloths beneath glass tops, real linens and candlelight.  We hadn’t realized what a role the lighting would play in our evening, for upon ordering a dish well-known to us in other places---nicely zingy and flavorful---we were in for an unpleasant surprise (at least I was).

The several dishes were set down, garnished and fragrant, and in the dim light, we carefully served our plates.   I took the first bite of the “new” dish, chewed for a second, and began to cough.   And sputter and cough, reaching for the water, which I probably sputtered INTO as I gulped in down.

My mouth and throat were aflame, and everyone else stopped eating, as Chris whipped out his ever-present, trusty little pocket-light and illuminated the platter.   No wonder.   We counted eighteen---EIGHTEEN---of the little red wasp-tail chiles nestled amongst the strips of chicken---and I’d already swallowed one.  That was not a dish for dim lighting, let me tell you.

Thus the inquiry.

A smile, possibly of joy at the prospect, or perhaps toward my own good taste.   “It’s A-may-zing,” She said.

At my lifted brows and little incline of encouragement to further elaboration, she went on, “It’s a little bit sweet, and a little bit of hot, and with snow peas.”

And it was---succulent chunks of thigh, with a lovely sesame sauce and slivered vegetables.  I offered it all round, and Kim and Mike took a tiny portion; Chris was way too wrapped up in his Seafood Delight.

And it MUST have been delightful, for I’ve not seen so much glistening seafood on one plate since we used to order the Neptune Platter at Red Lobster in Memphis.

And this was gorgeous---shrimp and scallops and pale calamari circles, with big coral chunks of lobster, and several meaty mussels peeping from their shells.   Wow.   It looked amazing, its ownself.

And you know, until I had the pictures to remind me just now, I could not remember anything about what we ordered or what it was like, for the conversation was flowing fast, with each of us chiming in and interrupting and laughing, laughing, getting every word in, making every moment of this too-short-time count.

Food for the soul.


Patsy said...

Oh! that post sure made me hungry and my mouth water.

mississippi artist said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful time, and of course you remember time with loved ones more than the food served-no matter how delicious.I love coconut shrimp,ordered it this week at our Chinese restaurant, I could alternate between Chinese and Mexican every day and give up American food I think.

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Rachel:
How positively delicious all of this looks to have been. And how wonderful to have found somewhere serving really excellent Chinese food, something not always readily available. You do seem to be having fun times. We hope so!

Kim Shook said...

Everything was good (the shrimp with coconut sauce was the best I've ever had), but I agree with Rachel - the conversation was the best.

Justabeachkat said...

Yum...this made me hungry. And it hasn't been that long since we had our dinner. LOL

I've been a bad blog friend lately, but life has been good and busy. I did post something a night or two ago and I'm planning to jump back into blogging as much as I can.

Big hugs sweet friend,

Beverly said...

Rachel, I have so enjoyed reading about your visit with your friends. It sounds like just the type of visit that restores your soul.

I can't wait to hear about pink pedalpushers.

Southern Lady said...

Rachel, as always, thank you for your sweet comment and well wishes you left for me at Southern Lagniappe. I hope to be back up and running again some time next week.

Loved seeing your pictures of all that scrumptious Chinese food, and hearing about the good times you and your friends are sharing. I know you are cherishing every minute with them.

Jeanne, backyard neighbor said...

Oh how happy I am to say good morning to you Rachel. My friend is back home in CA and I am loving some free time to sit and visit. Especially you my dear blogging friend.

Thank you as always for your dear comments to my posts. I haven't posted much lately. Your description of the parsley forgotten in your fridge is so familiar to me. It made me laugh.

It made me hungry for your wonderful dishes of delicious Chinese food. Your descriptions are worthy of a food critic. Smile. What a wonderful evening with loved ones.

I too have experienced eating in total ignorance, the exact red HOTTT pepper you described. It was a darkened place and your reaction was identical to mine. However, we were with people I didn't know and I never let on that I was going to die. HA! I never knew if they caught on but my hubs did not. I have inquired about those horrible things ever since.

I haven't had my coffee yet so I will close now. I made a promise to myself to write to you first thing in the morning. Happy days to you Rachel.
Love, Jeanne