Photography by Karina Ramirez
Fresh Fruit Shrub Soda
I’m tired of alcohol. Summer has been too long. It’s time to ease into autumn. But without summer mojitos, refreshment seems limited to cheap sodas, fructose-engorged smoothies and fruit juices that effulge in their variegated colors like racks of paint samples. I need something that still has a touch of acidity. Maybe even vinegar. Yes, that’s exactly what I want, a Fresh Fruit Shrub Soda ($4) from PublicUs. It has two parts, the soda water and the flavor, or in this case the “Shrub”: fresh fruit (with rotating options like blackberry, strawberry and basil, raspberry and vanilla) macerated in cane sugar, strained and balanced with apple-cider vinegar. Left to sit a few days the vinegar and sugar blend, stripping away overwhelming sweetness, killing the vinegar’s kick, dissolving the sugar granules. As the aged shrub is poured over the freshly carbonated water, its dark syrup dances and twists through the ice, bobbing up and down with soda bubbles. All that’s left is a simple garnish, a strawberry or floating vanilla pod, and the drink is complete, ready to offer reprieve from summer’s still lingering heat.
Wind Beneath My Wings
Even though this place is about noodles, sometimes I’ll accidentally call it Rock’N’Tacos then go there for wings. Probably because I remember that their tacos are delicious enough to stand alone, but their wings are incomparable. The best in downtown. And who expected that from a pasta place? Except pasta and wings both stand on the same two legs: textural variety and, most importantly, sauce. The “Asian” sauce on the seven wings and thighs in Wind Beneath My Wings ($7.75) is a finger-soaking, teriyaki-style glaze, so relentlessly savory it coats the mouth in ideal preparation for a sip of beer. Clinging to that dark sauce are thinly sliced green onions and sesame seeds that stand out like stars. They are that first level of texture as you bite in, popping before the teeth sink into the skin, first taut, then snapping apart, crackling against tender meat all the way to the bone. The sauce covers my face, bones fall onto the plate like relics sunk to the bottom of the sea and spent napkins pile across the table. Facing such a glorious mess I must be a barbarian gourmand. They’re only chicken wings, but to me they’re poetry.