Tuesday, January 24, 2012

North China on the Hudson

If you "like" my Facebook page then you may be familiar with the Meatball News Network. MNN was founded in Rome on January 3rd, not by me but by Joe and Fred. These friends of mine were traveling together, you see, and decided it might be fun to share the trip with others by shipping to me the photos and videos of their favorite Roman restaurants and meals.

It was a lot of fun, actually. But by January 12th, MNN had gone black, the result of its only two correspondents returning to their respective homes in New York.

When the idea was floated that we get together and swap stories of the trip, I suggested what to me seemed an appropriate venue: Maialino, the Roman-style restaurant in Manhattan's Gramercy Park Hotel.

My friends had an entirely different idea. Turns out they had had quite enough cacio e pepe and gnocchi and fried artichokes and Roman-style pizza, at least for a while.

And so on Sunday I found myself at a place called Palace Dumpling, not in the city but about 70 miles to the north, in Wappingers Falls, NY, along the Hudson River. The MNN team was not alone, either. Seated at the six or eight tables which had been joined together were 20 people who, like me, had traveled some distance for the occasion, it being to celebrate Chinese New Year: the Year of the Dragon.

Joe and his lovely wife Joel had got together with Chef Jenny at the Palace Dumpling to plan an elaborate banquet, the likes of which I had not seen before. In all, the chef prepared more than 22 different dishes for our group, virtually none of them found on the menu.

It was an amazing thing to witness, really. Chinese cuisine may not be the subject of this blog, but I'm betting you'd like to see what went on, and so here are just some of the highlights.

Cold meat platters of ham, chicken and sausage started things off nice and slow.

Lamb and scallion dumplings, one of four kinds we sampled. They don't call this place Palace Dumpling for nothing. Amazing.

Cold cellophane noodle "salad" with carrots, cucumbers, pressed tofu and a light sesame dressing.

Five-spice braised beef with hardboiled eggs.

Fresh noodles with meat sauce.

Braised fatty pork. I done died and gone to China!

Tender squid with garlic chives.

Stir-fried vegetables including eggplant, peppers and potatoes.

Stewed fish in red chili oil. Zounds!

Salt-fried shrimp, served in the shell.

Spicy pepper pork.

Caramelized sweet potatoes with peanuts. A real standout.

Whole fried fish in sweet and spicy sauce.

Puffy fried sweet dough, for dessert.

Joe even found a Chinese Riesling — with a dragon on the label no less.

And what Chinese banquet is complete without an Italian liquer?

Oranges for good luck and little windup dragons.

Chef Jenny.

And the (now defunct?) Meatball News Network team.

Never did hear much about the Rome trip, so I'm hoping another MNN "reunion" is in the works.


Charlene Ann Baumbich said...

I am so jealous! My stomach overfloweth just looking at the pictures. What a fun time. Glad you got to enjoy it.

The cellophane noodles sound rip-roaring good, as does everything else. But that mixture really caught my taste buds.

But the picture of the three guys at the end? Priceless!

Anonymous said...

Gung Hay Fat Choi, Happy New Year - it is indeed the year of the Dragon, those pictures of the moutwatering dishes is making me crazy and it is only 7:32 am here in the pacific northwest...I read your blog daily, i am so so jealous of that banquet of great foods, esp. the cellophane noodles dish, my very very favorite noodles in any dish...Yummmmmeee for the tummeee, you should have the best of luck after eating at that feast, again, thanks for showing and giving us the information on your chinese banquest 22 dishes oh, my..it will be in my mind at work and at home, I am going to get some dumplings and take them home today and make some foods to enhance the year of the dragon..ciao!!!!!!!!!!!!

Claudia said...

With apologies to my Italian heritage, the Chinese deliver the best pork dishes and if any of these presented themselves for breakfast, I would partake.

Renyi said...

I have been this rests more than 30 times after its open, this is the comment from Chinese. I from southern China, since dumpling as Northern food is never popular in my hometown, although I love Jenny's food because her smile and their original smell, taste and its home style.

The content of top list of Chinese food in US are complex, original, color, smell, taste are the key. This rest certainly is No.1, shame on those Chinese rests in China town and flushing!

Jeannie said...

Wow! I am so drooling over the photos here! Each and every dish looks so delicious I am hungry just looking at them!


Looks like there was plenty to eat. The food looks delectable. Wish we had been there!!!
I love Chinese food but these dishes were ones I never tried. Hope the New Year is a good one. Kathy