Wednesday, March 28, 2012

That's the Dictator - You Two Could Have It Out

Ebelskivers -- Shopsin's

Ginger keeps warning Vodka that she is going to get us kicked out of Shopsin's and Vodka is refusing to listen.  All Ginger wants is to eat our ebelskivers and nurse her hangover in peace, and all Vodka seems hellbent on doing is aggravating the Shopsin's proprietors.
You Say 'Ebelskivers,' We Say 'Munchkins'
Ginger is well-versed in the "art" of Shopsin's, most of which she learned from Kenny Shopsin's "renowned" memoir, Eat Me, and she is scared to death that we will be kicked out with empty stomachs onto Essex Street.

Vodka, figuring no one can out-nasty her if need be, has no such fear.
Hey Kenny Shopsin - You Really Wanna Take on New Jersey?!
In Vodka's defense, she is not purposely showing her irritating side -- she is merely acting like herself (which in some circles could presumably be called "irritating").  First, she mumbles a complaint under her breath when we and our Booze Before Books friend are forced to haul our own chairs off of our table and onto the floor, as if we are third graders arriving in our classroom.

"Shhh," Ginger hisses.  "You're going to get us kicked out."
Frankly, Vodka Is Controlling Herself - She Could've Complained About the Solo Cup-Like China As Well
Then, there is the matter of the Shopsin's menu, which Vodka has always refused to look at online because it makes her vision blurry.  Therefore, can it really be helped that when the waiter places our menus on the table, Vodka groans, "Ugh, this is going to give me an epileptic seizure"?

"Shhhhhhh, will you stop that?" Ginger reprimands.
Menu In Need of Ritalin
And finally, there is the matter of the Best Thing I Ever Ate dish which we are supposed to be eating: the ebelskivers, as chosen by Aaron Sanchez on the very first Best Thing I Ever Ate ORIGINAL special.  These ebelskivers, according to the chaos these people call a menu, come in a variety of incarnations (cinnamon, chocolate chip, and/or stuffed with banana, butterscotch, or chocolate), and we're not sure which we're supposed to choose.
And Heaven Forbid Anyone Who Works Here Help Us With This Decision
In what proves to be a fatal mistake, Vodka orders the mac and cheese pancakes for herself and leaves the task of ordering the ebelskivers to Ginger, who completely butchers the operation.  When her request for a combination of the "stuffed" ebelskivers falls of deaf ears, she is forced to choose a flavor.  First, Ginger asks what the waiter would recommend.  He stares at her blankly.  Then Vodka, who doesn't remember hearing of any flavored fillings mentioned on the Best Thing I Ever Ate episode, begins advocating for the plain, cinnamon variety, and Ginger is having none of it.

"I'll take the chocolate chip version," Ginger orders.

"What?!  No!" Vodka interjects.  As she pleads her case for the traditional variety, our waiter pipes in to ask her, "What, is it going to ruin your diet?"  Quiet, buddy, we've got Best Thing I Ever Ate arguments to contend with.
And Did You Not Just Hear Vodka Order These Saucers of Health Food?!
"Okay, fine, we'll take banana," Ginger tells him with exasperation, and he scurries away just as Vodka shoots Ginger a fatal glare.

"Banana?!  We HATE banana!"

"I love banana!"

"Remember those horrible banana-cream filled doughnuts at the Atlantic City Buddakan?"

"Well, I love banana except for that one time."  With that, Vodka pouts and continues her personal quest to get us kicked out of the establishment by photographing our beverages, a practice that Ginger is, once again, insisting is not allowed at Shopsin's.
Not Good to the Last Drop
Vodka ignores these pleas for decorum, and really, how are we supposed to document our Best Thing I Ever Ate eating adventures if culinary photographs are not allowed on the premises?!

"You need to take pictures more stealthily," Ginger hisses again.

"WHO is going to kick us out?" Vodka, still believing this rumor of excommunication is some kind of urban myth, asks her.
Cause If It's the Same People Who Think This Is "Graphic Design," Vodka's Not Afraid
"They're all one family," Ginger whispers.  "The waiter and that guy in the back."  Vodka turns around and sees no such Wizard of Oz-type character, so she continues her photographic pursuit when our mac and cheese pancakes arrive.
And This Is the "Small" Option
When she has finished, the three of us dive into the platter, finding three large patties of pancake-shaped mac and cheese stacked next to containers of maple syrup and hot sauce.  Distributing the two condiments heavily onto the plate, we find the pancakes comforting and hearty, especially when combined with the sweet and spicy tang of the syrup and sauce (even though the hot sauce itself seems overrun with pepper and is thus burning our mouths).
Hot Sauce and Maple Syrup Straight Out of Alice in Wonderland
If anything, the pancakes could use more mac and cheese itself, as the pasta seems concentrated in the center of the cakes.  Still, they are a beacon of hope for the rest of the meal.
A Very Faint Beacon, But A Beacon Nonetheless
Just as we finish the pancakes, our friend's dish arrives, which Vodka snatches from her almost before the waiter has placed it on the table in order to obtain photographic evidence.
Okay... the Umbrella... Somebody PLEASE Explain the Umbrella...
"Our waiter probably thinks you're some kind of crazy control freak," Ginger murmurs.  "Between the ebelskivers confrontation and the grabbing of the plates."

"I appreciate you saying that as if I am NOT a crazy control freak," Vodka states, allowing our friend to eat her own dish only after enough pictures have been snapped.  She had chosen the Strider, which is a breakfast sandwich featuring maple veggie sausage, eggs, and avocado on an English muffin.  Deciding she can't possibly eat the monstrosity in sandwich form, our friend begins to pick at it with a fork and finds it delicious (though Ginger is mostly taken with the veggie sausage, and Vodka finds the whole thing bland and in desperate need of salt).
"I Can't Eat This Like a Sandwich." "You Eat It Like a Fork."
Finally, our plate of ebelskivers arrives, complete with a heaping bowl of whipped cream in the middle.  As Vodka had predicted, they look suspiciously like the Buddakan donuts, though we can't yet tell if this comparison is true by taste.  As it happens, these ebelskivers are so unbearably hot that they end up scalding our mouths and throats rather than coating them with cinnamon and banana goodness.
REBELskivers Is More Like It
We eventually show some self-control to hold off on taking a second bite until they cool slightly, and we are only mildly less underwhelmed with the lukewarm version.  While the taste of the ebelskivers is not bad, it is their texture that leaves much to be desired.  We are used to bouyant, chewy doughnuts, and these are so doughy that we can barely hold them within two fingers (probably partly the banana's fault.  Thanks Ginger).  The accompanying whipped cream is barely sweet and adds next to nothing to the flavor of the dish, which is even more disappointing since we normally believe whipped cream should be its own food group.  All in all, the ebelskivers need more "bounce," and our friend correctly summarizes that they taste like banana pancakes in the wrong shape.
Vodka Rests Her Case: We HATE Banana
As we are getting ready to leave, Ginger spots the owner of Shopsin's finally stationed in his chair in the back.  "That's the dictator," she tells Vodka.  "You two could have it out."

And though Vodka might understand the mentality of such "crazy control freaks" as herself, it seems Mr. Shopsin has recently grown as soft as his ebelskivers, for we pay the bill and waltz away with not so much as a grimace about our disobedient behavior.

Shopsin's Ebelskivers: 3 stars

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