there used to be a lot of independent asian supermarkets in chinatown, but now there's only four, and two of them are the same chain (c-mart). ming's supermarket on washington street has the cheapest prices compared to c-mart, but it's the one that's farthest away, located more in the south end than chinatown proper. but it's the one my parents go to whenever they come to chinatown, so it's the one i go to as well.
the napa cabbage price was around 89¢/lbs., which i thought was too expensive and figured i'd wait another week or two for the price to change. while looking for other fresh ingredients, i saw more napa cabbages, but these were only 49¢/lbs. turns out these were the regular kind, and the more expensive variety was long napa. i've seen napa sold even cheaper (20-30¢/lbs.) but these were okay so i bought 2 large ones. later i called my mother asking to see if she wanted anything, and when i told her the napa cabbage, she asked me to pick one up for my father to make chinese sauerkraut (ended up getting 13.12 lbs. of cabbage). i also picked up some daikon radishes (3.87 lbs. @ 49¢/lbs.), garlic chives (0.69 lbs. @ $2.49/lbs.), an asian pear (0.54 lbs. @ $1.28/lbs.), and a bunch of ginger (1.53 lbs. @ $1.29/lbs.).
i also got a can of cafe du monde chicory coffee. i've been curious about chicory coffee ever since my friend sophia told me about it a few years ago. for some reason i often see it being sold in asian supermarkets, even though asians are more tea drinkers. recently i learned that the asian connection stems from vietnamese immigrants in new orleans who fell in love with this local coffee as it reminded them of the coffee they drank back in vietnam. there is also a famous brand of vietnamese coffee - trung nguyen - but it was nearly double the price (i heard they add chocolate to this brand of coffee). i ended up getting a can of chicory coffee for just $5.99 as a flavor experiment.
a few korean kimchi ingredients i couldn't find, like shrimp paste. this meant i'd have to visit a korean grocery store when i returned home. i was also looking for red pepper powder. they had two brands - a korean and a chinese. the chinese was cheaper, but it also included other things like sesame seeds, while i just wanted pure pepper powder. i decided not to get it, figuring i still might have enough at home, or could find cheaper options at the korean store.
finally i checked out the round plastic wash basins. this is a staple in every chinese home, and these basins were in fact made in taiwan, a rarity since most things these days are made in china. they carried larger sizes not usually found in western department stores - 20in, 22in, and 24in diameter - ranging from $4.59 to $6.99. they are perfectly sized for growing lotuses as it turns out, even though i've found no mention of this online anywhere. pond plant specialty shops do sell plastic containers for growing lotuses but they only have a 20in diameter and sell for $16+. the only good thing about these commercial lotus containers is they're made from a thick industrial plastic (will never crack) and they come in black.
i went down the street to the c-mart (formerly 88 supermarket), to see if they carried red pepper powder or shrimp paste. unfortunately i was carrying all this grocery from ming's market, and i didn't want to walk around inside and have they confuse me with a shoplifter. so i asked one of the cashiers if i could leave my bags by the counter, she said no i had to carry them, but i left them anyway, chinese-style, make up my own rules. i looked quickly and couldn't find either things. i did however notice that their prices for napa cabbage and daikon radishes were 69¢/lbs., more expensive.
i rode home via the charles river bike path, crossing the mass ave bridge. today was a picture perfect autumn day, a crystal clear blue sky. i checked the solar production before i left, a perfect bell curve was in the works. temperature was in the upper 50's, a little chilly, but i quickly warmed up after a few minutes of biking, especially if i was in the sun. however, the wind! it was so windy today, a few times while i was biking the wind actually pushed me off course. it was so windy (especially overnight) that the streets were cluttered with dead leaves while trees reduced to bare branches. crossing the mass ave bridge with zero wind breaks was torture, especially since i was riding into the wind. it took forever to cross the bridge, and i swore under my breath the whole way. it got much better once i entered cambridge with all the tall buildings and trees.
i weighed my kimchi ingredients when i got home, just to figure out how much i had (not realizing that the receipt already had all the weights). of the 3 cabbages, i saved the largest one (4.6 lbs.) for my parents. i also took half the garlic chives, leaving the rest for my parents as well, as well as some of the ginger. i even sent my korean neighbor EJ a text letting her know about the napa cabbage sale at ming's market.
i was sweat-soaked when i got back, and changed into a clean dry t-shirt before heading out again. by then i was still warm enough from all the biking that i went out in just a pullover.
i went to reliable market in union square to pick up my missing korean ingredients. they had several different brands of shrimp paste. i wanted to try a new brand, but decided to go with the one i usually use ($6.99). i also checked out their hot pepper powder selection. yes, they had more variety that what i found in chinatown, but the price was 2-6x more expensive: the cheapest package was $10 for 1 lbs., i could've gotten the same in chinatown for twice that amount. i decided to hold off on the hot pepper powder for the time being.
coming back, i stopped at market basket to collect some italian sub ingredients, since my mother was so in love with the italian sub i made last weekend.
back at home, i put the large napa cabbage in my backpack along with a few other things and rode to the cafe to drop them off. my 2nd aunt and sister were there as well. my aunt told me she was at haymarket this morning with my uncle (updating their MA state id card), wanted to buy everything. i noticed my father had brought some of my leftover red korean garlics and soaked them some water to turn them into sweet vinegar pickled garlics.
i finally made it home by 5pm. eager to try the cafe du monde coffee, i boiled some water and used the aeropress to make a cup. i added some half & half along with 2 teaspoon of sugar. even with the diary added, it still kept a dark color. the coffee was very thick and creamy, and had a very pleasant flavor reminiscent of hazelnut but not exactly. i couldn't really taste the chicory (not that i'd know what it tastes like, having never had it before); i heard it was sweet, but hard to tell with the added sugar. i should try the coffee black to get a better sense of its natural flavor. as with most coffees, there's usual a bitter aftertaste, but with this chicory coffee, the bitterness was quick to disappear.
as i saw earlier, today's solar production graph was a perfect bell curve, a nice start to november. i noticed that it actually peaked a bit higher than the previous perfect bell curve day, about 100W more of production. i attribute this to the cooler weather, which is more conducive for solar production: today was 57°F versus october 24th which was 65°F. i'm curious to see how we'll perform during the winter, now that we have a new inverter that won't clip our production at 6kW.
tony from lexington - whom i've been corresponding with since early october regarding solar panels - finally decided on going with united for his installation, based on my recommendation. he put in a good word for me to united and said i deserved some kind of reward for convincing him to go with them. who knows if that'll pan out anything. like us, he's also trying to get his installation done this year in order to quality for the 30% federal tax break, which will decrease to just 26% beginning next year.
after a shower, i heated up the meat sauce i made yesterday along with two cups of cellentani pasta. i learned that celentani pasta was actually invented by barilla in the 70's. because it's trademarked, other companies have to call their pasta something else (like cavatappi "corkscrew" pasta). i really like them, they have an interesting mouth feel and fun to eat. as for the blood orange sangria seltzer, i regretted it the moment i bought it ($3 for a case of 6). seltzer is like the biggest beverage scam is it's essentially carbonated water with a bit of flavoring, you should never have to pay a lot for something so little. i could neither taste the orange or any sangria flavor. the can looks cool however.
after i finished dinner i was in a hazy serene food coma. never mind how eating another big bowl of pasta will contribute to my overall weight gain. for the time being, it just felt really nice lounging on the couch, watching the celtics game against the knicks. new york was visiting boston tonight, the game was close throughout. former celtics now knicks marcus morris was a force of nature, single-handedly keeping the game close. how we ever let him go i don't know, but his salary under a new contract would be too expensive and prevent the team from acquiring new talent, like kemba walker. celtics ended up winning in thrilling fashion, 104-102, off of a jayson tatum jumpshot with just seconds to go. the C's go up 4-1 while the knicks sink to 1-5. though the season just started, the celtics tie the heat and the raptors for second place (4-1) in the eastern conference, with the 76ers ahead as the only undefeated team (4-0) so far in the NBA.