Monday, August 8, 2011

"You're the Lady Who Likes the Bok Choy!"

"Yes, I am!" I answered with a smile.

My birthday turned out to be a bit of a "birthday week". There are many generous surprise- and party- minded folks in my life and so I really had a delightful time being surprised and showered with goodies over and over again. I am very lucky! By the time my actual birthday rolled around, a Monday, my only two remaining requests were for a moratorium on sibling rivalry and a break from cooking dinner. The initial plan was for the four of us to go out.

We have been in the process of having a roof constructed over and around our backyard patio and fireplace since it is about a gazillion degrees, Farenheit, back there in July and August, and the roof was in the final stages of being waterproofed late in the day on my birthday. By the time we were finished helping the workers tidy up the work space, we were too dusty, sweaty and hungry to rally to get dressed for dinner. So we all agreed to plan B -- take out from my favorite Chinese restaurant, Xiang China Bistro. We toyed with the idea of eating al fresco in our new outdoor space, but, alas, even at 7:30 p.m. it was oven-like out there. So we ate in the comfort of our air-conditioned kitchen.

We each have our favorites at Xiang, so we normally order way too much food, but most of it gets eaten over the course of 3-4 days. I am the only one who orders two entrees, since I am the biggest leftover-lover in the family. I eat every speck of my choices, so I've no guilt in doubling up. I order "Garlic Baby Bok Choy" every time, and I choose from tofu or other veggie dishes for my second. I LOVE the Garlic Baby Bok Choy! In a light, garlicky broth, pristine bok choy specimens are quickly braised to the perfect crisp/soft consistency. The slight bitterness I covet remains, and the rich broth is not overly salted the way many restaurants tend to do. I have never been disappointed in Xiang's bok choy.

On my birthday, when my pups began doing their thing, slobbering all over the front windows, snarling  and barking to announce the visitor, I slipped outside to sign the receipt and add a tip.

"Oh, you are the lady who likes the bok choy!" the delivery man said with a little bow and a smile.

"Yes!, I love it!" I answered, realizing that I must have been the subject of some discussion back at the Bistro. A few months prior, a different delivery man from Xiang had asked which one of us likes the bok choy, and I got into a little discussion with him about other veggies they all love to make and eat in their own families, which are not on the menu at Xiang, only because it was determined the clientele wouldn't have much interest. Sugar Snap Pea Shoots (not the pea pods, themselves, but the actual shoots, or young stems) were that delivery guy's fave.

As I set up the offerings, buffet style, so we could each serve ourselves, I told my husband what the latest delivery man had said, with reverence.

"I bet you are the only person in Alpharetta who orders bok choy!" he posited.

Maybe so -- if that is the case, I wondered why the bok choy remains on the menu. The restaurant workers obviously like it, and I'll keep ordering it. Hopefully that will remain incentive enough for the bok choy to stay!

Since it was my birthday, I indulged in my favorite cocktail, a Grey Goose Martini, on the rocks this time, all the better to linger longer over, and with giant caper berries instead of olives -- I found them at the Natural Foods Warehouse! I love the traditional shaken martini with the olives, but this one was fun for a change. The caper berries, the original martini garnish, imparted a mild, pickled, slightly sweet flavor. This martini felt very old-fashioned and special. It was lovely before and during the Bok Choy, Szechuan Tofu and steamed brown rice feast!