I had a wonderful time this past weekend celebrating the Chinese New Year in Chinatown, NYC for my first Culture Weekend Staycation to China! My family and I braved the elements (think 20 degree temperatures and heavy winds) to witness the 14th Annual Lunar New Year Festival and Parade and it was well worth it. The elaborate dragon costumes, participants dressed in traditional Chinese clothing with full makeup, flame jugglers, Chinese cultural icons to include singers, dancers, actors and politicians and the all too anticipated snake were on display for us.
Then something odd happened; take that back, two odd things happened:
Don’t quite know who the guy with the dog in a stroller is, but I overheard a number of people commenting that he’s at every NYC festival. If you have any information about this guy, let us know! He was quite a character. Also a source of confusion was the throng of South American dancers. Sure, their costumes looked great, but I wasn’t sure why they were in this parade? Anyhow, the performances were entertaining to the point where I forgot my fingers had gone numb in the cold, blistery air.
Following the parade, we headed for a late lunch at Vanessa’s Dumpling House , and all I can say is you must, must, must try the Sesame Pancake Sandwich with Chicken Teriyaki (did I emphasize that enough?). I was floored by the fresh, light and perfect flavors of this simple and inexpensive ($2.99!) dish. This is what Vanessa’s Dumplings should be known for. In fact, I petition that they change the name of the restaurant to Vanessa’s Perfect Pancake Sandwiches (just kidding…no I’m not)! We also had the pork/cabbage dumplings and the pork/chive dumplings which were good, with pork/cabbage fried dumplings being the superior of the two. My husband had the chicken teriyaki with rice, although I think he would have preferred it sesame sandwich style. Overall, for the price and taste, this restaurant gets two thumbs up. For a family of 3, we paid less than $20 for drinks, appetizers and main courses. The restaurant was clean, but in need of a few updates. At any rate, the freshness of the sesame pancake sandwich with its diced cucumbers, carrots and cilantro totally juxtaposes the slight dingy look of the restaurant. You must visit this restaurant if you’re looking for inexpensive, yummy Chinese food in NYC!
Our time in the city was fun, but now it was time to head home and start our at home activities for the Culture Weekend Staycation to China !
For the at home portion of our Culture Weekend Staycation to China, we did some early spring cleaning to take away the evil spirits. I followed FlyLady’s Weekly Home Blessing Hour routine. It left my house looking tidy, me feeling like I accomplished something for the day and evil spirits a running! Next, my son and I did a quick craft of making red paper lanterns. It was a fun activity and gave us a time for bonding!
For lunch, I threw together a quick Chinese stirfry that my mother taught me. And for dinner, I tried out Andrea Myer’s Kung Pao Chicken which I improvised by adding spaghetti noodles. It was a little spicy for my son, but all in all, it is definitely a quick and easy dish to make that has great flavor.
Lastly, after dinner I watched the Oscar Nominated, BAFTA Award winning Chinese film, Raise the Red Lantern and boy did this film earn its award. Raise the Red Lantern chronicles the progressive upending of a young university student, Songlian, after losing her father and having to succumb to marriage to a much older and richer man with a harem. After becoming the fourth wife, Songlian witnesses the intense competition among the wives for attention from their shared husband and the attendant privileges it affords. This movie is less about cat-fights, but more about the underlying issues concerning gender and society.
I hope that you enjoyed this Culture Weekend Staycation to China! Click here if you missed the itinerary for the Chinese Staycation in NYC.