Feeding the Dragon: Yunnan Potato Balls with Spicy Dipping Sauce

Editor’s Note: A Chinese teacher/translator and writer living in Washington, D.C., Jody Melto of Curlicue Chronicles joins us for a tasty trek through China…

At first glance, I didn’t want to like Feeding the Dragon, the recently published travelogue/cookbook on China. First of all, there are the names of the co-authors, sister and brother duo Mary Kate and Nate Tate. But that’s not their fault.

However, young Mary Kate Tate asking in the introduction, “How can we record each person’s story, taste every dish? Have we bitten off more than we can chew?” is quite their fault. It reeks of a Julie & Julia attempt. I bet The Two Tates have talked about just playing themselves when the cookbook is optioned. Now I’m just being snarky. I did that with Julie & Julia, come to think about it.

At least my snark has backstory. I spent the first part of my 20s living in a small Chinese town as a student on scholarship, working as a teacher, model and even as an actress in some really bad television shows and one martial arts film to earn enough money to travel over 250 hard-seat hours by train throughout China. No credit card. No cell phone. No parents footing the bill. Pretty hardcore travel. Who can blame me for being snarky when it comes to a couple young hipsters who claim to have roughed it through China on a quest to “taste every dish?”

Just when I’m feeling quite smug, Mary Kate & Nate Tate (I just love saying that) do something that impresses the hell out of me — they admit to eating dog. They weren’t ballsy enough to include a recipe calling for dog meat. But I give credit when it’s due. And that took balls. I’ve killed the mood at more than one dinner party after raving about doggie dumplings. (Dog people can be so freakin’ sensitive.)

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The Endless Road Trip — Philadelphia’s Top 10 Eats 4. Duck in a Pot

On the second night of our Philadelphia adventure, the intrepid ES crew was treated to a feast at JG Domestic, Iron Chef Jose Garces’ farm-to-table restaurant anchored in the bottom of Cira Center. Supposedly a small plate, made-to-share type of joint, we found that most of JG’s offerings were fairly large and satisfying… not that it didn’t stop us from trying almost everything on the menu!

But… BUT…

There is one item that stands above the rest. I’m not even saying it outshines everything at JG Domestic, I’m saying it outshines almost any meat-based appetizer I have ever eaten. And trust me, there have been a bounty of them in my years as an insatiable epicure.

Allow me to introduce you to the Hudson Valley Potted Duck with foie gras mousse and orange gelée, served with cornichons and crostini.

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Do or Dine: Dumpling Nachos

We thought we’d found the limits of nacho creativity when we told you about wonton wrapper nachos, but then the chefs at Brooklyn’s new Do or Dine had to go and make dumpling nachos. Yep, their “Nippon nachos” are basically nachos made with dumplings instead of tortilla chips. Not dumpling wrappers—entire dumplings. Deep-fried pork dumplings are topped with melted cheddar, sour cream, salsa and scallions.

Game on, ESers — what’s the craziest food you can turn into a nacho? Eggs Benedict nachos? Foie gras nachos? Steak tartare nachos? I honesty can’t think of anything I wouldn’t want to eat in nacho form (And big up to Lorie Marsh, who has already written in with her amazing chili cheese nachos. Thanks, Lorie!)

A little more about the awesomely named Do or Dine: two front-of-house workers at Manhattan’s fancy-pants restaurant The Modern branched out to Bed-Stuy with one of the most creative high-end/lowbrow menus we’ve seen yet. They also officially win our search for America’s most creative deviled egg with this:


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The Punishment for Being Late

Asparagus and Cannellini Beans 1 (500 x 332)

It’s become my rule. Invited to a BBQ? Bring something not for the grill.

I’ve learned my lesson. I’m a late girl. I come from a late family. We are late. Always late. So if I want to bring something for the grill, I always get there too late. The grill is taken.

That is why I bring a side. Sure, it’s more cooking then bringing marinated eggplant rounds, but people expect more from me anyway.

This past weekend my coworker threw a party for her daughter’s middle school graduation. It was a cook-out. So while I longed to be lazy and just bring my fresh bundle of asparagus bought that day from the Mount Pleasant Farmers’ Market to throw on the grill—I didn’t. I whipped it into a salad instead.

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