Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Chinese for Lunch, Italian for Dessert

I was in Chinatown at Lichee Garden for a Dim Sum lunch today. They have amazing pork Siu Mai and a meal there is ridiculously inexpensive. The same Dim Sum lunch that costs $60 at Yank Sing is only $20 at Lichee Garden...for two. We still go to Yank Sing from time to time to get their signature Shanghai pork dumplings, however. They are that good.

Here in San Francisco, the Chinatown and Italian neighborhood of North Beach have been encroaching on each other for years, resulting in Chinese markets residing next to Italian bakeries. And so after my lunch at Lichee garden, I paid a visit to Victoria Pastry in a quest for my favorite Coconut Macaroons. Unfortunately, today they had none, but I did walk away with some tasty information. As I was deciding what to purchase in lieu of the planned coconut macaroons, settling on some almond cookies, an older Italian gentleman walked in and declared what the almond cookies I was buying were called (I could not repeat what the heck he said, but it was very Italian sounding). He proceeded to tell me how they were made remembering his mother's recipe from his childhood days in Miami, Florida. I quickly asked him if he knew how to make the coconut macaroons. His mother's were an egg-white only recipe and I questioned to clarify that they were in fact made with only egg whites and no yolks. He thought they were. I asked if he ever had Victoria Pastry's macaroons and he didn't think he had. I told him they were amazing and a bit richer than the usual macaroon and that I thought they had some egg yolk in them. The woman behind the counter confirmed that indeed they were made with the whole egg. Finally a breakthrough. It only confirmed what I already suspected, but at least I know I'm barking up the right tree. Now I need to figure out how they get their cookies so chewy. I asked her for more information on the recipe, but she only smiled at me. I'm not sure if it was a "you can't have the recipe" smile or a "I don't speak that much English" smile. So I paid for my cookies and left with the little bit of information she afforded me. So far, I've done two trials using whole eggs which have tasted good in their own right, but have not yet come close to the delectable coconut macaroons at Victoria Pastry. One day I shall prevail.

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