Nom Wah Tea Parlor – Great dining in New York City’s Chinatown

The Chinatown section of New York City is a densely populated neighborhood packed with authentic Chinese and Southeast Asian dining experiences. Not sure you would have a bad experience anywhere that you go, but I am so glad Nom Wah Tea Parlor was recommended to us. We never would have found it otherwise and it was the find of a lifetime.

Life itself cannot give you joy, unless you really will it. Life just gives you time and space … it’s up to you to fill it.

Chinese Proverb

Nom Wah Tea Parlor, opened in 1920 and is the oldest continuously operating Chinese restaurant in New York City. They are located at 13 Doyers Street on an adorable little side street. You almost want to call it an alley but it is prettier than that with all the beautiful lanterns hanging overhead.

Nom Wah Tea Parlor has other locations: Nom Wah Nolita is fast-casual restaurant in the the Nolita neighborhood (North of Little Italy), Nom Wah at the Market Line and Nom Wah Philadelphia which is a more modern version of the original in appearance but the food is the same quality that you expect

I have never tried Dim Sum before but it was on my bucket list and oldest daughter did not disappoint by bring us here. She knew Nom Wah Tea Parlor was the place to go and that I would love it. She made sure that we made time to go there on our most recent trip to New York City. We had beautiful weather so we walked from the lower east side and it was very enjoyable. Lots to see!

They open at 11 am and we got there a little before. There was a short line already waiting for them to open. I believe there is usually a line so be prepared for that. But it moves quickly and is so worth it. This is not a fancy restaurant, they have been open and operating since 1920 and the line is out the door so you know it is going to be great. This is not a tourist trap and you can tell immediately. Nom Wah Tea Parlor is very reasonably priced. We had five people and it was only about $100 before tip. For New York City that is a steal. But please note and prepare:

THEY ARE CASH ONLY!

My daughter and her boyfriend were given the task of ordering because they were more familiar than us and I am glad we left it to them. Some of the items we ordered I never would have tried and I would have missed out. We just said “surprise us.

The final decision was: House special roast pork buns, Chicken soup dumplings, Turnip cake with XO sauce, Pan fried noodles in superior soy sauce, pan fried pork dumplings, Chinese greens in oyster sauce (It was bok choy) and hot tea (not sure which one we got, I believe it was Oolong).

First off the Chinese greens in oyster sauce.. this was so good. I could have eaten just this and been happy. I never would have ordered it in a million years. How did I go my whole life not knowing about this? I need to figure out how to make it at home. In addition, the turnip cake with XO sauce is another item I knew nothing about and I will be getting that again. It was all so amazing and I just learned you can order some of their food and have it shipped nationwide at Good Belly. I will be trying that out also. They have gluten-free dumplings available for delivery!

I always appreciate restaurants that are allergy friendly and I like to support them on the restaurant review section of my blog, so check them out here at Sunday Chefs.

Some tips I’ve learned along the way – dealing with Breast Cancer.

I am a Breast Cancer survivor, warrior, patient, person that has been through a lot. I don’t like any of those terms. What I do know is I could not have done it without the help of friends, family, medical professionals and people who I did not know then but now consider family. Paying it forward and giving out tips and tricks on how to deal with cancer seems like the right thing to do. It is the least I can do for this wonderful life that I will do anything to keep enjoying.

July 2017, at my daughter’s high school graduation party, I felt a lump. A very distinct, like someone had stuck a marble in my bra kind of lump! How come I had never felt that before? How could I have missed it? There was no question, this was bad. My feeling was not “Oh no, I have a lump”, it was “Oh no,I have cancer!” I knew immediately what it was and that it was bad. 

The mammogram showed nothing, but they could feel it so they knew it was there. So we moved on to an ultrasound. The doctor looked at the screen and turned to me and said “I am sorry, I don’t need a biopsy to tell me this is cancer.” There it is ..you are never the same again.  

Keep putting one foot in front of the other. That’s all you need to do right now.

-Unknown

So, on my kids first day of school, I had a double mastectomy/reconstruction, followed by 12 weeks of Taxol and 14 Herceptin infusions, ending in October 2018. I had Stage 1 Triple Positive Breast Cancer and it had not reached the lymph nodes. No family history and I had never missed a mammogram. They told me if I had not found it when I did, I would have been Stage 4 in about six weeks. The rate of growth measured that it had only been there about two weeks when I found it!

When you are diagnosed with any kind of Cancer you freeze...  What do you do? Where do you begin? Here are a few tips I learned when going through Breast Cancer. I hope they help, because Cancer Sucks.

There are so many more stories to tell: The 4 ports because that was a disaster; baldness, pretending to feel okay; starting a new job that introduced me to LIVESTRONG; wonderful friends who convinced me to join them in starting a Pan Mass Challenge Kids ride to raise funds for Dana Farber Cancer Institute; finding out who your true friends are;  Shannon, who I barely knew and who showed up at my door with presents and a shoulder to cry on; and many more.

I am a very lucky person, I have wonderful family and friends who rallied around me and got me through it. Someone once told me “It’s the club you never wanted to join, but you are in it now and you are not alone and we can do this, if we support each other!”  Now it is my turn to do the same for the people in my life. 

I am a different person, a better person. I know I should say survivor but I still deal with it every day, the PTSD, neuropathy, lymphedema, Tamoxifen and its side effects. Honestly, to say I HAD cancer seems weird. I don’t think I will ever feel that it is truly gone. But my motto the whole time was and still is “Fake it till you make it” and that is what I do for my children, so they don’t have to worry about all this.

Don’t quit. Suffer some now and live the rest of your life a champion

-Muhammad Ali

When you are diagnosed with any kind of Cancer you freeze...  What do you do? Where do you begin? Here are a few tips I learned when going through Breast Cancer. I hope they help, because Cancer Sucks.

Now we are coming up on the 5th anniversary of my diagnosis and once again a friend asked me for some tips on how to deal with it all because her friend has just been diagnosed. It really just never ends.

I had made a list of little tips that I would give someone if they asked but now I am just going to put it up here for everyone to see to make it easier. I have created a page on my blog Sunday Chefs that contains some other tips called Cancer Support. I would love to hear any tips that anyone else has.

I will say that the journal was the most practically helpful. Whether it is this one that I made … You Can Do This My Friend, a breast cancer journal and planner to keep your thoughts, questions and life in order or any old notebook that you want to use, it was a lifesaver. You are so tired and overwhelmed, it was so good to be able to look back over and write down questions to ask at appointments and to have everything in one place. I highly recommend that everyone get one, for any health issue they may be dealing with.

Note: 50% of proceeds from You Can Do This My Friend, a breast cancer journal and planner to keep your thoughts, questions and life in order are being donated to Mass General Cancer Center.

Van Leeuwen Ice Cream – My new favorite

I have a daughter who moved to New York City last year and we love nothing more than to visit and wander the city exploring any food establishments that catch our eye. It is a great way to find new and exciting places you may have missed. The little mom and pop shop or a fancy new bistro, it’s the excitement of the unknown that is so great. We have had some amazing meals and thank god we are walking so much to burn it all off! We have not been disappointed yet.

It does help that my daughter is a foodie and knows some great spots!

Ice Cream is cheaper than therapy

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Recently on a very hot, summer weekend, we ventured out to see what we could find. It was late and we were wrapping it up for the evening and walked past Van Leeuwen Ice Cream and Vegan Ice Cream at 172 Ludlow Street on the Lower East Side. Vegan Ice Cream? Who knew? Let’s give it a shot! We had eaten so much that day but as my husband says, “The dessert tank is a different tank, the meal tank may be full but the dessert tank is still empty.” There is always room for dessert!

A LIFE WITHOUT ANYTHING GOOD IS BAD

Van Leeuwen Ice Cream Shoppe

What a cute little spot! The problem now is what to order. They all look amazing. Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Ice Cream? I wish I had tried that. Earl Gray Tea? Vegan Churros and Fudge? Vegan Bourbon Vanilla Apple Crisp? Oat Milk Brown Sugar Crunch? Marion Berry Cheesecake? With the decision finally made, we ordered. The choices were a hot fudge sundae made with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream for the youngest, a cup of Sicilian Pistachio for hubby and for me? I got the Vegan Peanut Butter Brownie Honeycomb.

The ice cream was so rich we could barely finish it all. I do believe, the decision was unanimous and it was the best Ice Cream we have ever had. I took a risk with the Vegan Peanut Butter Brownie Honeycomb, but it was amazing. Van Leeuwen Ice Cream and Vegan Ice Cream makes their vegan ice cream with Coconut Milk or Oat Milk apparently and I would have never known. If you are concerned that vegan ice cream may be a little weird, it is not. If I had not ordered it myself, I would have thought it was regular milk based ice cream.

Van Leeuwen Ice Cream and Vegan Ice Cream has locations all over the city. Nineteen in fact, with locations also in California, Texas, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. New locations coming soon in Connecticut and Colorado. I do believe Massachusetts should be next on the list. If you are an ice cream fan, Van Leeuwen Ice Cream and Vegan Ice Cream is a must see!

Cafe Assisi cover pic

Café Assisi, Wrentham MA – Restaurant Review

Now that life is getting back to normal (Crossing my fingers here, that we keep on a positive trend) it is time to start to returning to our favorite restaurants. As a recent cancer patient, I think we have held out a little longer than most. But we are active take-out customers. One of our favorite haunts, that was our regular Friday night destination before Covid hit, is this cute little, local, Italian restaurant in Wrentham, MA called Café Assisi. It is so important to support our local businesses, they have struggled so much and for the ones that made and survived we need to make sure they thrive. These are our friends and neighbors, the ones that make donations for school fundraisers and pour their heart and soul into their business and make this our community. For a couple that loves nothing more than going into the North End of Boston for dinner, this hidden gem in Wrentham, MA is a godsend and most likely responsible for some extra pounds I have been trying to get rid of.

When you support a small business, you support a dream.

-Unknown

Café Assisi is a little Italian bistro hidden in a corner of Wrentham, Ma, right around the corner from the Wrentham Outlet Malls. It could be very easy to drive by unless you knew it was there. The owners have committed themselves to doing it right and it is working! I have never had a bad meal there. Café Assisi does a vibrant take out business and the pizza is fantastic.

A few years ago, we had them cater our daughters’ Confirmation and everyone raved about the food. We called last minute and had multiple food allergies to deal with. They pulled it all together, it was reasonably priced and a lot more food than we anticipated. People are still talking about how good it was. I am very loyal to restaurants that are open to helping with food allergies and they have always been very respectful and upfront about what they could and could not do and I completely respect that.

It’s important to support people who put their heart, soul, and last dollar into something they believe in.

-Unknown

On the spur of the moment we decided to try and get a table and completely forgot that they recommended reservations. Luck was on our side and we got a parking spot right in front and they were crowded but said they could seat us outside. Over COVID, they built a beautiful outdoor seating area with heaters, lights and plants. It is very beautiful and romantic.

We got the shrimp and pasta in a red sauce special, which my husband adored and could barely finish because there was so much food. There was lots of shrimp and it was fresh and cooked perfectly. I got the Cod in spicy, tomato sauce over sauteed spinach which was fantastic.

I am not one to get dessert, but the craving for anything lemon lately has been overwhelming. Walking in to get a table I spied the dessert case and that limoncello cake was calling to me and it did not disappoint. It was out of this world!

I cannot recommend Café Assisi any more highly. So much so that I am afraid to post this as it may get busier and I will never get a table…..but they deserve all the business they can get.

Simple Mango Salsa

Spring is here …. despite the 40 degree weather. And it is time to break out all the spring and summer recipes. This Simple Mango Salsa is the first one that I thought of. It is so wonderful and versatile. I first made this salsa years ago and it has been on regular rotation ever since. It is simple to make and elevates anything you put it on …. grilled chicken or fish, tacos, salad, chips or in any bowl now a days.

Chop all the ingredients and combine in a bowl. Good luck cutting the mango. I think mangos are my least favorite thing to deal with. I make a huge mess trying to cut them, but it is worth it. Well worth it.

My advice is to let the salsa sit in the fridge for a few hours, but if you don’t the time, feel free to eat immediately.

Life without Mexican food is like no life at all.

-Unknown

Simple Mango Salsa

This mango salsa is great as an appetizer, condiment, side dish. Great on fish or chicken. Perfect to bring to a party as chips and dip also. So easy and fun to eat.
Course Appetizer, condiment, dinner, Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine Mexican

Ingredients
  

  • 1 Fresh Mango Peel, sliced and diced
  • 1 cup Black Beans Rinsed
  • 1/2 Red onion Diced
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp Fresh cilantro Chopped fine
  • Salt To taste
  • 1 Jalapeno De-seeded and diced fine. This is optional and you can add as little or as much as you want to.

Instructions
 

  • Peel and dice the mango into small pieces.
  • Chopped the red onion fine and add to mangoes.
  • Rinse the black beans and add.
  • Chopped the Cilantro fine.
  • Combine all the ingredients along with cumin and orange juice.
  • Refrigerate for at least an hour.

Notes

This mango salsa is the perfect addition to any meal. It goes great as an appetizer or snack combined with tortilla chips as a chip and dip recipe. You can also serve on top of grilled chicken or fish or a side dish. 
This fruity salsa is healthy and kid friendly. Mango salsa is also allergy friendly. 
Allergens: Contains black beans which are a legume. DAIRY FREE, TREE NUT FREE, PEANUT FREE, EGG FREE, GLUTEN FREE, SOY FREE
Keyword appetizers, black beans, chips and dip, condiment, fish tacos, fruit salsa, grilling, healthy salsa, mango salsa, mangoes, salsa, side dish

Keeping it bubbly! – Trick to keeping Champagne and Prosecco bubbly

Smile…. There’s bubbly

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The easiest trick to save that leftover bubbly. Whether it be Champagne, Prosecco, Cava or even sparkling cider.


We like to celebrate things in our house. So it is not unusual for us to have a bottle of Champagne or Prosecco in the fridge. You never know when you will need to make a quick toast or have a Mimosa or an Aperol Spritz. But, we are not big drinkers so we tend to have some leftover and there is nothing worse than flat champagne. Well of course there are worse things, but you get the picture.

I used to work at a French company back in the day and after work on Friday’s we would buy bottles of champagne (good champagne) and celebrate the end of a good week.  That was a great job! There were a lot of tipsy train rides home but we were young and not driving, so who cared. My boss, who was French and grew up in champagne country taught us a trick to preserve the bubbles so you could finish the bottle the next day.

It’s very simple…… Put a spoon in the bottle and put it in the fridge…..That’s it!!!  It is so simple and it works. Thanks Thierry! This holiday season, I was telling someone and they did not believe me so we tested it…. and I was right. Everyone was extremely impressed.  My daughter even tried it with Sparkling Cider and it worked. It is a great tip, that you will probably never have to use…..because who has leftover Champagne or Prosecco or Cava!

I make Prosecco disappear, what’s your superpower?

-Unknown

Breast Cancer and The Black Apron

If you know, you know…if you don’t, follow along.

This is not my usual food blog post, so if it does not apply to you, feel free to skip this. But unfortunately, if Breast Cancer does not affect you personally, more than likely it will affect someone you know at some point and this is a good tip to pass along.

As many of you may know, 4 years ago I was diagnosed with Triple Positive Breast Cancer and had a double mastectomy with reconstruction followed by 14 months of chemo/infusions. There are certain things that you learn along the way, that you feel compelled to share with people and “The Black Apron” was a biggie for me.

When you get a mastectomy there are drains that need to be dealt with. These drains have weight to them and with them hanging, there is pulling and they get in the way and it is very unpleasant/painful. The doctor will give you a special sports bra looking contraption with hooks to hang the drains from and it will do the job. Lots of people suggested sweatshirts with pockets, specifically zip up hoodies, because you can’t lift your arms over your head. These zip up hoodies have almost inner pockets that are a result of how they are put together and these kind of worked.

One day I was looking for something and found an old black waitress apron from my bartender/waitress days and it had two pockets. I thought maybe if I wore that and put the drains in the pockets of the apron it might be more comfortable. It was life-changing. It was very inconspicuous and slimming and laid perfectly for the drains to reach. If I wore a long shirt over it you couldn’t even tell I had drains at all. In addition, I didn’t look huge from them swinging in front. But the most important thing, is the pain and unpleasantness was diminished so much. Not gone of course, but so much better.

The day I walked into the plastic surgeons office for a check up, he was instantly confused. Why did I look like my drains were gone? He loved the idea of the apron and said that he would recommend it to all of his patients. I am not the first person to come up with this, I have heard other people talk of it since, but it is my go-to gift when I hear someone has to have a mastectomy. I found this one Amazon from Boharers and it is very inexpensive.

If there is one thing I have learned is, it is that we are all in this together and we need to share our knowledge.

If your path demands you to walk through Hell, walk as if you own the place.

-Unknown

Baking Tip – How to cut the perfect brownie.

I know this sounds silly, but ever since someone told me about this trick, I use it every time. As a parent of a child with food allergies, I always bring the snacks….so I make a lot of brownies. I tend to cook brownies a bit underdone on purpose, which is our family’s preference. The trick is to use a plastic spoon when cutting them. The edges come out perfect and clean and the brownies do not stick to the knife. It is miraculous. Give it a try next time you are making brownies or blondies, you will be amazed.

 

It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life – J.R.R. Tolkein

 

Trattoria Il Lucano – Rome Restaurant and Food Allergy Review

As we were walking back from the Pantheon one night on our recent life-changing trip to Rome, the kids were starving and I didn’t have any idea where we could eat. Before our trip I studied and searched for restaurants that would accommodate our family and their food allergies (Peanuts, tree nuts, carrots, cucumbers, soy, gluten, legumes, eggplant and zucchini). Italy is known for being very food allergy friendly but information on specific restaurants is hard to find, so I tried to find blog information and there was a few, but it was outdated and limited. So I looked for restaurants that were recommended by friends or had good reviews and reached out to them. Then I made a master list of the places that I wanted to visit and nearby restaurants that were food allergy friendly. (We made the food allergy cards and they were great but only used them once). It was good old fashioned leg work that got the job done. I will share my hard work with you all to save you some time.

I did a lot of prep work, but on this day I had run out of ideas. It was raining and we took a risk and stopped in at Trattoria Il Lucano and asked if they could accommodate us. We lucked out and it was a fabulous meal.

Our waiter was named Mimo and he was so much fun. He suggested that my husband try the steak which they cook at the table. We got the caprese salad, cacio e pepe, pizza and lots of house wine! Always get the house wine. We sat outside under the awning and had a fabulous meal despite the uncertainty at the beginning. My husband is still dreaming of the steak!

The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook. – Julia Child

Miscellanea Pub – Food Allergies in Rome

I did a lot of research on restaurants before going to Rome, especially ones that catered to food allergies. I have to say it was difficult. The general consensus was that Rome was very allergy friendly and we did find this to be true. But information on specific restaurants was tough to find. I knew the places that we wanted to visit (i.e. Colosseum, Vatican, Pantheon, etc.) So I wanted to discover restaurant choices near our destinations, so I wouldn’t be wandering with a “Hangry” family trying to find a place to eat. We were not looking for fancy…. inexpensive, great food, great atmosphere and food allergy friendly.

One restaurant that kept popping up near The Pantheon was the Miscellanea Pub. They call themselves the “International Students Pub”, so we knew it would be inexpensive and casual. After a beautiful visit to the Pantheon at night, I told my family I had a restaurant for them.  It is a bit hidden, but the CityMaps2Go App was so helpful, because we didn’t have service most of the time.

Franco was our waiter and he was fabulous. He was very friendly and told us the food allergies were not a problem, they would make it work (I made the food allergy cards, but honestly never had to use them..the one place we tried, seemed confused by them. But I am still glad that I had them, just in case).

We got the Caprese salad, Bruschetta, Pette di pollo al limone (lemon chicken) Penna all’ arrabbietta (penne with spicy tomato sauce), Spaghetti alla carbonara (pasta carbonara) and Margherita pizza and a lot of wine (house wine). Always get the house wine in Italy! The food was amazing.

Please note: Miscellanea Pub is cash only!

I forgot this and we had no cash. Franco was so wonderful and felt so bad he walked my husband to the nearest ATM and then brought us free desserts and “sexy wine”. The “sexy wine” is something you have to discover for yourself. When he brought it and I gleefully cried “Is this the sexy wine?” he was thrilled I knew what it was. (I do my research.. haha). It was wonderful!

As we were leaving, Mickey (the owner) was sitting outside and thanked us for coming. We are from Boston and he is great friends with the former mayor of Boston and former Vatican ambassador, Ray Flynn. We had a wonderful conversation about Rome and Boston. Miscellanea Pub is a must see on your next trip to Rome!

 

 

Good food is very often, even most often, simple food – Anthony Bourdain