So you can imagine my near-giddy delight when my friends Margi and Jared offered to take me to the mecca of Asian grocery chains: H Mart.
It's a little slice of heaven.
H Mart is only located in a few cities in the US, so I was ecstatic when I found out that there's one located just outside of the city. The only kicker is that because it's the only one in a 50-mile radius, the place is PACKED. And for good reason: H Mart has one of the most extensive produce sections I've ever come across. Exotic fruits and veggies for days, man! There was a kimchi counter and a woman making the stuff right there in the store. I hate kimchi (I think it tastes like feet), but couldn't help but be impressed by it all.
The store carries durian fruit. I almost bought it, but I really like not throwing up at the smell of my food.
At least I think that's what they are.
We spent a good amount of time trolling around the aisles, looking at this and that when I came across a box of something I'd never seen before:
A bit weird, right? Turns out these tribble-looking beauties are a type of friut called rambutan. I have never encountered these before (I thought they might be lychee at first), but a woman behind us went all kinds of nostalgic at the sight of them and described how you pick, prepare, and eat them when you want a sweet snack. (Apparently, you cut off the spikey husk and eat the flesh inside.)
I picked up two to try later.
Unfortunately, the rambutan got lost in the shuffle of holiday leftovers, and I wasn't able to get to them in time.
After I spent a good 10minutes making a selection from a wall of soy sauce options, my ride and I picked up some frozen odds and ends and then made it back to the city. I was in Hello Panda heaven the entire trip home.
And now, for your recipe.......
A while ago I decided to use up the last of some farmer's market apples with a recipe I had come across on the Darjeeling Dreams site: Skillet Apple Cake.