Planet Thailand 212

Lacking in sound design and decorated like an Asian circus clown's laundry day (not necessarily a bad thing), Planet Thailand 212 never disappoints. I'd been to the city-side sister of the Brooklyn institution a couple of times before, and always found the food pretty good. But last night, I reached new levels of indiscretion and stuffed myself in a most memorable way, feeling the need to blather about it. And lie down.

I launched with a couple of lychee bellinis, which don't actually launch you very effectively. Tasty and refreshing, but being lychee juice and sparkling wine, they don't really function properly as an alchoholic beverage. Nevertheless, I seemed to have started a run on the things. Then they mercifully ran out of lychee juice.

The service is notoriously sucky, and indeed, halfway through ordering, someone noticed a few copies of the dinner specials list in the middle of our table. The staff could take a lesson in suggestive selling from the "you want fries with 'dat?" people. I changed my order from the Shrimp Curry with String Beans to the "Spicy Lover."

During our significant wait, we dipped our chopsticks into assorted starters. From the homey Edamame (not unlike Southern boiled peanuts), to the satisfying and tender Thai Dried Beef, the Shrimp Dumplings (I know I put one into my mouth, but cannot at this moment recall what it tasted like), Vegetarian Spring Rolls with Plum Sauce (always crazy good), Fried Calamari with Sweet Chili Sauce (there's always gonna be something that's not as good as last time), and the Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce and Cucumber, which I've never had a bad version of. Or a version that tasted any different from everyone else's version, for that matter.

Someone ordered Mee Grob, which I'd never had. Crispy tamarind noodles with shrimp. Awfully tasty with a unique texture. Can't recommend the Fried Tofu with Peanut-Chili Sauce if you're sharing, though. The two-bite hunks taste like a dial tone unless bathed in the dipping sauce, and they're too big to do this without double-dipping. So avoid sharing these, at least with those you're not being otherwise intimate with. And I'd not been intimate with all ten or twelve of my dinner companions this night.

But give me time.

Which brings me to the subject of The Spicy Lover. It arrived well past everyone else's entrees, which prompted me and the one other tablemate who'd ordered it to make inappropriate jokes about lovuhs who take too long to come. (Mmmkay, so maybe the bellinis were working.) When finally our prodigal meals arrived, each sushi roll was massively fat and long (sorry), snaking through thick pearls of spicy sauce (somebody stop me). I've never understood people using the term 'rich' when describing why they don't like a dish, but holy mother of fish phallus, this thing was rich. Stuffed with scallops, yellowtail, and at least another sea critter or two (and me already stuffed with appetizers), I made it through only with determination and a remarkable display of full-out gluttony. And that mofo was delicious. Spicy Lover #2 Dude and I were both groaning by the halfway point, but each keen to finish off our respective Lovers.

Again, my apologies.

Planet Thailand 212
30 W. 24th St. between Fifth and Sixth Avenues

PS: I just had deja vu. Have I blogged about this place before? I seem to recall writing about the groovy closed circuit video screens which catch patrons on camera and put them into far away situations. Peeps have complained this is an invasion of privacy. I say screw 'em. I think it's cool.

Don't judge me. It was an emergency.

Big Brother vs. God

If I had any street cred at all, I'm 'bout to stamp it out like a smoldering Marlboro butt. I watch Big Brother. Notice I didn't say 'I'm a fan of Big Brother.' 'Cause I'm no more a fan of this particular reality show than a junkie's a fan of the needle. But every season, I vow not to become ensnared in this game which rewards those skilled at lying and manipulation. Yet most every season, I fail to resist. My only defense is that I watch no other reality TV (though The Surreal Life has occasionally blown my skirt up, and that one where streetwalkers pulled each other's hair fighting over Flavor Flav was kinda funny), and I began this addiction with high hopes that Big Brother would be a fascinating psycho/social experiment. Instead, it's turned out to be no better than the rest. Screechiness is rewarded, combatives get the screen time, and the most dishonest among the contestants, by virtue of their dishonesty, wins.

I know reality TV is anything but. And I've known a couple of people who've been on reality TV shows, so I understand producers instigate much of the discord. But on Big Brother, I do believe I'm getting a realistic view of the participants' personalities. And brother, these are some skeevy peeps. There is but one contestant on Big Brother 9 I've found to be truly human (the now gone pink mohawked ex-gay porn dude Crazy James Zinkand), but the rest? Ick. And the ickiest? The one who mercifully got voted out last night.

Natalie. This blow-jobs-for-Jesus chick (tell me that's not Gilligan with a bad boob job) is by far the most pathetic character ever dug up by CBS. The multiply-abandoned, bible-thumping, face-humping, ex-stripper, ex-Hooters girl succeeded through use of such Christian tactics as showing the gang her post-abortion lactation trick and analyzing game rules to determine that while striking another player is illegal, spitting on them is allowed. She serves coffee in a bikini for a living and says she shows her body because God created it. The sweater meat, however, is the work of Dow Corning. The benevolent "I just want to help people [bust their nut]" chica took time out from sucking it in, pushing 'em together, and darting her eyes around the room to found "Team Christ," an alliance with a meat-head racist (as his also-a-contestant girlfriend announced to the American viewing audience), a googly-eyed poster child for circumcision without command of the English language, and an aging Penthouse pet who talks all the time and never says a thing. (Also boasts the biggest, weirdest bush I've seen outside of Hustler's Anniversary Hirsute Issue. And no, I'm not linking to it.)

With barely enough combined IQ points to strike a match, Team Christ's primary activities involve reading the Bible (lips moving) and scratching their crotches on camera. And as near as I can tell, this group is responsible for Big Brother, after nine seasons of free flowing alcohol, to have to limit its availability. Some of the churched up fights over the last beer are Must See TV.

But just when I was about to really give up on my embarrassing habit (honest!), Natalie's plan to dry hump her way to the top got derailed. So now the show's 20% less annoying and 30% less sad. But probably 70% more boring.

I need to take up knitting. Or a 12-step program.

The Cheesy Grin

Had a bad day. A real bad day. This bad day lasted about two and a half weeks. And I don't mean that Catskillsily. I needed a reliable, non-wobbly cheesecake. Yes. A whole one. (See aforementioned bad day reference.) Pretty sure I was married when last I made a cheesecake, so it's been a coon's age. Maybe two.

I beat the shit outta the graham crackers (with angry, bad-day-related glee) and pressed the buttery crust into the springform pan. Whipped my ingredients without benefit of a mixer (again, a much needed expenditure of aggression). Did the baking thing. Did the leave it sitting in the warm oven with the door open thing. Went back an hour later, and the damn thing was smiling at me. Look at the photo above and tell me that ain't a smile. Not a pie-eating grin, exactly, and not quite a Mona Lisa, but still. A smile. Kind of a snaggletooth, Squidbillies smile.

Now, here's where it gets weird.

I think my cheesecake was trying to communicate with me. I stood there and stared at it for a long time. I honestly felt some sort of message coming off the thing. I know home-baked cheesecakes in the hands of inept non-domestics often crack. But this was a wise crack. My cheesecake possessed a compassionate benevolence, a seasoned intelligence, a soul.

I ate it anyway. 'Cause I mean, like, it's a cheesecake yo.

Gotta say, it made me feel better. I felt karmically nourished by it. Next day I got a phone call with some amazinghappyflatteringlucrative news. The phone continued to ring all afternoon, with other amazinghappyflatteringlucrative news related details, but when the dust settled, I thought of the cheesecake. Okay, I thought of eating it some more. But when I peeled back the foil and saw the jagged half-smile (other half had been consumed), I wondered if the cheesecake had been trying to tell me everything was gonna be alright. Had the message of the cheesecake been that the tide was about to turn for me? Was this home-baked confection conveying a sage solace? A crooked and creamy therethere?

Or is there maybe such a thing as lactose-induced psychosis?

Either way, it was sure tasty.

The light passing through the cheese danish braids at Whole Foods on Houston is not the translucence of butter laden baked goods, but rather shafts of golden god, prismed through this anointed pastry.

Just sayin'.

Midtown East. Yesterday. No reports yet of literal application, and the ensuing carnage.

New place on York and 84th. It's not the produce wonderland I'd hoped, but I found the pasta I like and they carry Bob's Red Mill products, so I'll be back. It's clean, well stocked, and boasts two cash registers manned by pleasant young women who giggle when asked about the store's name.

"I don't know. It's funny, yes?"

Yes. It's funny. Double-negativelarious.