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The Great Gardens restaurant off of Georgetown Rd in Indianapolis is by far and away the best Asian food I’ve ever had!  We went for a late lunch on a Friday and were greeted with a warm, friendly entrance that exuded a lovely, welcoming ambiance.

An old wood fountain and stools

An old wood fountain and stools

Fortunately for us, the dim sum place that was recommended to us originally by friends was “Closed for Renovations” (read: health code violations?) and I happened to have the address of this restaurant as a backup.  A quick reference to Google Maps on T’s cell phone, and we were on our way to the best, BEST dim sum experience I could have ever hoped for!

We walked in and were instantly greeted and seated in the large, open dining area.  The tables and chairs were simple, clean, and well dressed with teacups, chopsticks, and napkins.  We didn’t get in for lunch until about 1:30, but there were several tables of customers finishing their meals.  The old adage “go where the line is the longest” or “where the locals eat” holds true here–even though there wasn’t a line, we were certainly the minority.

Our lovely hostess opened our chopsticks, broke them apart, and arranged the plates with great care.  She instructed us to indicate what we wanted to order on the full-color paper menus, each featuring a picture of what you were about to enjoy.  Reading the reviews from another blogger, I knew we had to try the seaweed roll, deep fried taro, and shrimp dumplings.  As we were deciding, the hostess returned and said, “You must try this, it is very good,” and helped round out our order to seven dim sum total.  As we were looking for more things to order, she stopped us and said, “Seven will be enough.”  She knew we were noobs, and took good care of us.

Our first two dim sum arrived in record speed—the seaweed roll and stuffed green peppers.  They were perfectly hot and crisp and the smell of fresh oil very quickly took over our senses.  The seaweed roll was filled with what we suspected was fresh shrimp, and the stuffed green peppers had a combination of ground pork deliciousness and a breaded topping.

Seaweed roll (4) $3.20

Seaweed roll (4) $3.20

Stuffed Green Peppers (Jalapenos) (3)  $2.80

Stuffed Green Peppers (Jalapenos) (3) $2.80

Our first bites of dim sum were unrivaled by any other Asian cuisine I’ve ever had.  Ever.  It was that good.  The freshest ingredients, prepared with expertise and a diligence to quality, was apparent in these two (and the other 5) dishes.  We ate these quickly (perhaps too quickly, as I burned my mouth on the seaweed roll, happily), and right as we finished, our next three plates arrived.

Shrimp Dumplings (4) $2.80

Shrimp Dumplings (4) $2.80

Our hostess advised us to start with the deep fried taro, as the shrimp dumplings and the chive pork dumplings were still steaming in their baskets.  I have always wanted to try taro, and I’m glad I did it this way.  The outside was delicate and crispy, and the inside was like the consistency of a mashed potato.  There was what I could only describe as “Chinese gravy” inside of the soft taro, and I began to wonder why no one had thought of making deep fried mashed potatoes and gravy (coming to a carnival near you, summer 2009).  The shrimp dumplings, and the chive pork dumplings, were simple and delicious; a few ingredients artfully prepared.

Deep fried taro. It's like mashed potatoes stuffed with Chinese gravy, and fried.  In other words, heaven.

Deep fried taro. It's like mashed potatoes stuffed with Chinese gravy, and fried. In other words, heaven.

Chive Pork Dumpling (3) $2.80

Chive Pork Dumpling (3) $2.80

Another blogger insisted that anyone visiting Great Gardens should order the rice in lotus leaf.  I’m always up for trying something new, so we asked for one order.  As we were reveling in the dumplings, and wondering how anything could be better than what we were experiencing, the rice in lotus leaves came.  Two globs of sticky rice, lightly covered in sauce, and wrapped in steamed lotus leaves arrived.  As the hostess walked away, she quickly came back with a spoon, and said, “Don’t eat the leaves, just the rice,” and she opened the first one for us.  What a livesaver she was!

This will sound weird, but the meat-based sauce smelled a bit like canned cat food…. but in a good way.  It was really earthy, as the lotus leaves steamed an indescribable flavor into the rice, and the meat sauce added and extra earthy saltiness that I had never tasted before.  Order it, try it, and see what you think.

Rice wrapped in lotus leaves (2) $3.20

Rice wrapped in lotus leaves (2) $3.20

The pot stickers came last, and our hostess clipped them in half with a pair of scissors to make them easier to eat.  I know this is repetitive, but they were just as delicious as everything else.  We had the option of dipping everything in a sweet pineapple-y sauce, hoisin, or a hot chili pepper oil.  I stuck with the hoisin for the most part, but nothing needed extra sauce!

Pork pot stickers

Pork pot stickers

Each of the plates comes in a pre-determined size, and the size determines the price.  These 7 plates filled us to the brim, all for $20.  We left a hefty tip because she was so nice and helpful, and the service in the restaurant was exceptional, fast, fresh…. I would have paid more money for this, but I am glad the price was so affordable.
I don’t care where you live.  Go there, now.  I can’t wait to go back any time I drive anywhere near Indy.  Five stars!

An open door leading to great food and atmosphere.

An open door leading to great food and atmosphere.

My wonderful friend Lauren E. is making this for me so I don’t have to show my bare back during a wedding I’m in in a couple weeks.

CUTE!!!!!!!!!!!  Well, I mean, not yet, but it will be, just you wait and see.

Bolero!

Bolero baby!

One cute mo fo-ing sweater!

One cute mo fo-ing sweater!

Homemade marshmallow fondant, recipe courtesy of Peggy, over a pineapple cake.  Peggy’s Buttercream helped the fondant to stick to the sides marvelously!! Lots of work, but much less work than I thought it would be. More info to come soon.

Fondant went on easier than I could have ever hoped!

Fondant went on easier than I could have ever hoped!

Unsturdy hands makes you glad I'm not your surgeon.

Unsturdy hands makes you glad I'm not your surgeon.

My first fondant creation, besides the creation of the fondant itself. Amidst a snowy field of powdered sugar.

My first fondant creation, besides the creation of the fondant itself. Amidst a snowy field of powdered sugar.

Look what Xythian made!

Look what Xythian made!

So, I’m sitting here in the student union building, trying to organize a paper.  I had a nice sub sandwich, and a small container of HFCS-free chocolate milk.  I’m at a small, single person table, lining the wall, and I am at one table in a long line of tables.  There is a PA system playing easy listening music that spans the generations.  Easy to tune out until a familiar song comes along (like, right now, “I Say a Little Prayer“) Since I’ve been sitting here for several hours, people have come and gone, and the scenery has changed a few times.

The person who has chosen to sit in front of me is making me die inside.  Why, you ask?  She went to Starbucks and got some kind of iced beverage.  That beverage has been consumed, and all that remains is a Venti-sized pain in the ass in the form of a cup of ice.  Every 15-22 seconds, she picks up the cup, takes off the lid, shakes the cup of ice to loosen it, and pours an ice cube into her mouth.

And then she chews it.  CRUNCH. CRUNCH. CRUNCH.  It’s anywhere from 5-8 crunches. –sorry, I lost my train of thought, she shook the cup and didn’t take any ice–

I can’t stand the sound of people chewing.  Usually, if the room is crowded and its loud enough, it’s not a big deal.  And if I’m sitting at a table and everyone is crunching, including me, it doesn’t really bother me.  Wet chewing has never really bothered me, but hard crunchy REPETITIVE chewing just instantly sends me into an unadulterated rage.  If I can hear teeth clashing together, in addition to the crunching sounds, you’d better fucking start running-me hulk, me angry, me smash you.

Forbidden foods:

Sourdough pretzels

Too many croutons on a salad

Crunching fucking ice in public–are you not aware of the people around you, lady?  Srsly!

Mother fucking ice.

Mother fucking ice.

I wonder if I should mention to her that she either a) has an iron deficiency b) could have other nutritional problems c) could have pica d) is a fucking idiot who needs to be aware of others around her, including the angry person behind her who doesn’t like CRUNCHY NOISES.  But, I’m probably just being a dick–I mean, people are selling chew-friendly ice and making a ton of money!

I’d rather have the ice crunching than gum popping.  So, I will refrain from enacting violence upon her, because she might not know that she’s being noisy. As she is getting up to leave, I realize she’s had an iPod in her ears this entire time.  She couldn’t hear her crunchiness.  GAHHHHHHHHHH iPods!

Chewable Ice from Taco Time

Chewable Ice from Taco Time

I recently made a spring inspired cake (with Tyler’s help) to take to a special dinner.  It’s rather unassuming on the outside, but the inside is a different story!

Taste the rainbow!

Taste the rainbow!

The frosting is just a simple whipped cream with powdered sugar and vanilla to give it a bit of flavor.  Some coconut sprinkled on top to give it a bit more aesthetic appeal, as well as a bit more texture made the outside  unassuming!  As for the inside, going top to bottom:

  1. Raspberry puree from frozen organic raspberries, put through a fine strainer to remove seeds
  2. Blood orange zest, with a little blood orange juice
  3. Meyer lemon juice, and zest
  4. I thought I had limes at home, but was mistaken!  A sprinkling of green apple jello saved the day here.
  5. About 1/2 cup of frozen organic blueberries, same method as #1
  6. Same as #1 and 6, only blackberries were used!

Some of the colors weren’t as vibrant as we would have liked, so a very  minimal amount of food coloring was used just to make the colors more distinguishable.  Just a couple drops at most!

We didn’t taste any of the batter before baking, and just kind of hoped it would turn out, and did it ever!  Each layer was crisp and distinguishable, and didn’t compete with the other layers.  It was a nice, fruity and creamy cake!!!!!  I can’t wait to make it again with fresh fruit from the farmer’s market.   Oh, and I’ll need another pan.  I only  had one, so I had to cook each layer individually…. which took a long time.  But it was WELL worth it!