What better way to kick off convention season than with TWO back to back comicons? I was all set to draw a comic for you tonight, and even another one for Monday, but a freelance client emailed at the last second with an emergency project and a super tight deadline, so I had to take care of that. Sorry! I’m in NYC for MoCCA all weekend, so there probably won’t be a new comic til Wednesday, but on the bright side, it will probably be about eating awesome food in New York.
After our delicious lunch at Big Star on Friday, Niles and I tooled around, went to a comics shop, a record store, and stopped at Half Italian on our way home. It’s a relatively new addition to the neighborhood, an Italian deli and grocer. They sell local produce, imported Italian goods, cured meats, cheeses, fresh pasta, and lots more. Plus, they’ll make you a tasty sandwich and an espresso! It’s good stuff, friendly staff, and definitely worth the visit.
I mentioned I’ll be at MoCCA festival this weekend, right? I’ll be at table G2, with lots of awesome books and original art. I’m also doing TCAF in Toronto the VERY NEXT WEEKEND because I am clearly some kind of glutton for punishment. Some friends were asking me earlier if I was stressed, and I kept saying no, because I didn’t think I was. But then a UPS shipment went (briefly) missing this morning and I just about flipped right out of my brain. And on my way home tonight, I tried to stop at Nhu Lan for some tasty banh mi sandwiches, only they were closed, and it almost brought me to tears. So, clearly I’m not handling this as well as I thought. This should be fun!
On Friday, Niles and I both ended up with a free afternoon, so we headed down to Big Star for a late lunch. I was sad when Big Star first opened, because it took over the Pontiac Grill. I loved the Pontiac – not because it was any good, but because it was never that crowded. Big Star is pretty much always crowded, but for good reason: their tacos are amazing. We got a good handful; tacos al pastor, tacos de panza, tacos de pescado, de pollo, de papas. Everything was delicious, but the tacos de panza and the tacos de pescado were the standouts for me. The fish was expertly cooked, tender and flaky and not overly fried. The pork belly in the tacos de panza was delicate and crispy on the outside, melty perfection on the inside.
Hey, are you in the NYC area? I’ll be exhibiting at MoCCA this weekend! You should come by and say hello!
Between releasing Shuteye, Niles’s surgery, Zinefest, C2E2, and everything else that’s been taking up my time, I hadn’t gotten a haircut since January. JANUARY. I’ve been sweeping my bangs aside and pinning them back and trying to ignore my ratty split ends, and finally I got off my butt and made an appointment for a haircut. It’s amazing how much better I feel now that that’s done! I think that I wasn’t taking quite as good care of myself when my hair felt sloppy; I wasn’t putting as much effort into what I wore or how I carried myself, I wasn’t keeping the house as tidy, and I didn’t even really notice it until I finally made the appointment. It’s kind of amazing how if you take care of yourself in one aspect, it makes you want to look after yourself in other ways too.
Anyway. My bangs are tidy and funky and I can see out from under them again, and I think I walked a few inches taller on the way home tonight.
CAVEAT: Ramps are not for the faint of heart, you guys, especially when you take three bunches of them and puree them and then eat a whole bunch. No one wants to french kiss me tonight, I’ll tell you that much.
I’ve been thinking about what could make it a little milder… I guess you could try sauteeing the ramps first, but roasting or blanching them would probably be better. Any of those ways would take the edge off a little. I mean, if you’re a little tiny baby kitten and don’t want to have a kickass dragon mouth that’s on fire with rampy awesomeness.
I was kind of surprised at how sweet it turned out – I ended up adding more cheese and salt than I was planning on, to balance it out.
So Niles came home from work as I was finishing up this comic, and he said, “Someone better not have used up all the ramps tonight!” I proudly proclaimed that I had used all of them for the pesto, and he said: “You used both bags?” GUYS THERE IS ANOTHER BAG OF RAMPS IN MY FRIDGE. What shall become of it?
“God,” I said, as I was coloring this comic, “I sure could go for some ramen right now.”
“Do we need to have a ramen-tervention for you?” Niles asked.
I cobbled this recipe together from a few different online sources, and I’ve tried it twice now and it worked beautifully both times. The trick is definitely in the timing – it’s a lot easier to work with if you have a gas range than an electric one, where you can change the heat level quickly. And of course, the timing should be adjusted for the size of your eggs and the size of the pot, but this is definitely a good place to start. The eggs come out beautifully, with firm whites and delicious, perfectly creamy yolks.
Marinating can be hard, because boiled eggs like to float, so it’s tough to get an even marinade. There are some tricks, though: some people suggest marinating the eggs in a ziploc bag, and one site recommended putting a paper towel on top of the bowl, so the towel soaks up the soy broth and holds it over the top of the eggs.
So! Step one in making my own tonkotsu ramen, check. I was skimming some recipes for the broth, and some of them take like 10 hours, so who knows if I’ll ever manage to make it. In the meantime, we found a halfway decent ramen broth mix at Joong Boo, and the eggs make a nice topping for that.
When I was in 8th grade, we had to sell chocolate bars for a fundraiser. You know the kind – “World’s Finest” chocolate or something, crappy chocolate in nondescript wrappers that you only ever see when a school needs money. We had a golden retriever, and she got into the stash of chocolate, and ate about 30 bars. I was terrified, because I’d always heard that chocolate was poison to dogs, but she never even got sick.
After Niles told me that some customer claimed to have gotten chocolate poisoning, I spent some time researching chocolate poisoning. Turns out it’s an alkaloid called theobromine that causes the toxicity, and theobromine is present in much larger amounts in dark chocolate, lower amounts in milk chocolate, and even lower amounts the more the chocolate is processed. My conclusion is that “World’s Finest” chocolate bars contain little to no actual chocolate in them, otherwise our poor dog would have at least gotten sick.
Still, a person would have to eat SO MUCH chocolate to get theobromine poisoning. If the customer’s story was true, I’m a little impressed.
Niles and I peeked into Yusho tonight for a few delicious cocktails and tasty nibbles. I did a comic about them when they first opened, and they’re not any less intriguing or amazing now. The presentation of the little duck breast skewer was half the fun, with the delicate little hon shimeji mushrooms coming out of the top like they were growing on a log. The Hama Hama oyster was as big as a shoe! It was grilled in the shell, then opened and dressed with the tiniest shreds of bacon and an aged ginger-infused soy sauce.
These were both amazing, amazing dishes, but the soft serve ice cream really bowled us both over. The ice cream itself was black sesame, it was a distinct flavor but much more subtle than I was expecting, and only mildly sweet. The toppings were strong black sesame and coffee, and the smokiness and bitter flavors interplayed well with the sweet. We nearly licked the bowl!
We sat at the bar this time, and while (as a shorter person) the unusually tall barstools were a little scary to climb up, the experience was great. You have a full view of the grill and most of the kitchen, and it was fascinating to watch the cooks prepare everything. It’s great fun!
NEWS: I’ll be at C2E2 this Friday, the (zomgz) 13th, signing at the Chicago Comics table! I’m right before Jhonen Vasquez, so I’m already preparing embarrassing, stammering speeches about how I quite like Squee, it’s really funny, you’re cool, insert awkward giggling and blushes. Anyway, I’ll have the new Shuteye book and Ouija Interviews, as well as some Sauceome prints, so you should come and say hello!
My friend Randi got a car! We now have the means to go on field trips! I’d been wanting to try to bike up to the H Mart in Niles, but it would be a pretty long bike ride, and before I managed to get around to it, the Joong Boo grocery up the street started carrying my beloved unagi. It’s already cooked and seasoned and prepared, so all you have to do is wrap it in foil and pop it in the oven for a few minutes. I was super excited to see hondashi, since it’s at the base of a lot of the Japanese recipes I want to try, and it seems like it’d be difficult to make. I got myself a giant bottle of cho gochujang, which I have a feeling I will want to put on everything, and some ginger sauce that I think I want to marinate everything in. Some frozen squid rings, which I’m thinking I’ll use to recreate the grilled calamari that my local bar used to sell, and I couldn’t resist the tiniest, cutest little clementines. All in all, I’m surprised I didn’t get more, but now that Randi’s got a car we can always go back.