Friends of Gil (FOG) II Dinner: Great Food, Great Time, Great Friends

A very content group enjoying FOG II dinner at Budai’s Gourmet Chinese

One of the delights of life is eating with friends,
second to that is talking about eating.
And, for an unsurpassed double whammy,
there is talking about eating while you are eating with friends.
~ Laurie Colwin

On Thursday, 29 May 2014 at 7PM, nineteen of the Duke City’s most passionate gastronomes enjoyed a sumptuous repast and a terrific evening of convivial conversation and humor in the second Friends of Gil (FOG) dinner of 2014. There were no strangers at the event, only friends who hadn’t met in person. Guests included some of the most prolific commentators on Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) blog. With comments such as “so, you’re Larry McGoldrick,” guests had an opportunity to put names to a faces. It was as if we’d all known one another for years.

There was widespread speculation as to whether or not infamous commentator Suzie Queue was among us. Most agreed that Suzie Queue is a nom de plume and theories as to her true identity–ranging from Edward Sung to Sr. Plata and even Bob of the Village People–were advanced. In John Baldwin and his lovely bride Zee, Gil found kindred spirits equally passionate in their dislike of cumin.

Even after six courses, the FOG were still having a great time

Attending his first FOG event, Jeremy Cox shared news of the “soft launch” of the Fubelly site for Albuquerque. Fubelly is a revolutionary video platform that uses a beautiful storytelling concept showcasing some of the Duke City’s very best restaurateurs to help diners engage with food and drink. Through Fubelly you’ll discover places you’ve never been and rediscover places you already love by learning more about them.

Chef Hsia Fang prepared a very special meal for the FOG and Elsa, our gracious hostess, presided over the event with her usual grace and flair. The pairing of a green onion pancake served with chicken corn soup started the fusillade of deliciousness, each course complementing the previous. Entrees, all served family-style, included Three Cup Chicken (Boned dark meat, thinly sliced ginger, basil, slowly cooked in clay pot), Chinese Eggplant in Garlic Sauce (rich purple skin, creamy textured Chinese eggplant served with Hsia’s special garlic sauce), Snow Vegetable Pork (julienne pork sauteed with lightly salted mustard greens, bamboo, and baked tofu), Taiwanese Style Rice Noodle (chopped freshly peeled shrimp, fried shallot onions, bean sprouts. Fresh cilantro on top) and Steamed Flounder. For dessert we enjoyed Asian apple-pear drizzled with a homemade lemon glaze.

A great time was had by all

The Friends of Gil II dinner was so thoroughly enjoyed that by evening’s end the most pressing question was “when’s the next one?”. Mary Ann Spencer, a long-time friend of this blog, volunteered to organize FOG III. Stay tuned to this blog for more details…and if you have ideas as to where the event should be held (preferably at a restaurant with a private dining room), please share them here.

Many thanks to the svelte and slender Bruce “El Bruto” Schor for organizing FOG II and planning a menu that wowed one and all.

39 thoughts on “Friends of Gil (FOG) II Dinner: Great Food, Great Time, Great Friends

  1. It sounds so scrumptshuous. I hop I spelled that right – LOL! I don’ like Chinese that much but I wish I was there.

  2. Bruce,


    Also, I wholeheartedly second the Mary & Titos suggestion, especially if it’s after hours and we get the back room!

  3. How about FOGeys – or in in most of our cases – Old FOGeys.

    BTW – for NM food, my vote would be Mary & Titos. Perhaps they would stay open an extra couple of hours one evening and we could have the whole back room to ourselves. I could look into it if you all like.


  4. Help me Hannah,
    Old Guys FOG?
    Our Gang FOG?
    Original Group FOG?
    Only Great FOG?
    Off Grid FOG?
    Our Gil’s FOG?
    Help me Hannah!
    And yes to NM Food for the next FOG.
    I hope a venue with a private room is selected.
    Much more conducive to socializing.

  5. El Brute,

    I propose the Dog House meetup (what you’re calling the FOG1) should be called the OGFOG.
    So, the next one will be FOG3, and I, for one, am very much looking forward to it. I tentatively suggest perhaps New Mexican food?

  6. Thanks to everyone who attended.
    Thanks for the on-the-job training, it was a great experience and let me know there is much more I need to know and do if I get to go again and I will get my suggestions to Mary Ann S. but since some of her ideas were ones she knew and will use to improve the last FOG and I could only think FOG3 is in very good hands and something I look forward to.
    IMHO, (lol) and per memory albeit up for discussion I believe that we are overlooking what I think was FOG1.
    The very first meal after discussion of a FOG1 was attended by Gil, Ryan Scott, Jim Millington and his Child Bride, Janet, me, and BOTVOLR. Six intrepid foodies on a very snowy day at the DOG HOUSE on Central with the highly recommended Green Chile Foot Longs with onions per BOTVOLR who claims to have accumulated over 500
    (five hundred) feet of tube steak. Thank you BOTVOLR for being the instigator of IMHO (LOL) FOG1.
    So the question remains, is the next dinner FOG3 or FOG4?
    I report, you decide.
    Looking forward to the next be it FOG3 or FOG4.

  7. As per usual at Budai I ate like a pig. It is easy when the food is so good. Thanks Elsa, Bruce, Gil & everybody else who came out and kept everybody entertained.It was certainly a lively ebullient crowd.
    John Baldwin, I am happy that you now understand my firstborn son after meeting me but don’t tell anybody or I will be unable to show my face in public ever again. I can assure you however that his famous dietary habits (He was known in school for his “white plate specials”) did not come from me.
    Gil, I am pretty sure that my youthful good looks did not come from my abandoning glasses. It is a result of the dedicated work of my hair stylist.
    Mary Ann Spencer, either Bruce or myself will be thrilled to offer you all kinds of free advice for your next adventure. Bruce’s is however actually worth something. Mine is appropriately priced at free.

  8. Please Pardon Off-Topic, but a follow up to some FOG table chat for Zee & Kim:

    For Zee (whom I learned we were town neighbors 15 miles apart “Back East”)
    Check out Clarks here Wonder if you can still put a treat in a can which the bear pulls up using the rope? Canobie (don’t know if they still have the fun house with the room of mirrors and the slide for the exit where ya got your skirt blown up! Seems like a bargain at 36 bucks vs 96 + 17 for parking at DisneyLand! Here’s the Lawrence mill disaster I was mentioning While Y’all didn’t go to Hampton much, you can still check it out here Yes, the beach is ‘wider’ from ‘dredging’ over the years.
    Lastly, here’s the Totem Pole ya missed at Norumbega Park and Pardon lest I misremember, but thought you said your Mom is still back there and they’d enjoyed Ballroom dancing. If so, she might enjoy this Alas, I got to enjoy “those” guys this Spring at Rio Rancho High and they’ll be soon playing back there Dang, just missed them down the road at Merrimack College.

    For Kim: Backing up my Chicago trivia
    Re House of Cards, don’t forget to check House of Cards – The Trilogy on Netflix per the original British version. Also, check out The Paradise on Netflix. Alas, Mr. Selfridge (from PBS) is not there.
    “Chow!” to All

  9. Well now…a most lusciously scrumptuous evening attentively overseen by a most amiable of owners, The Elsa.
    OMG, my apologies…Lost in the “onslaught” of dishes of Yum Yums and far ranging table conversation, shame on me for not requesting to meet Chef Hsia Fang! Kudos! lest he reads here.
    ~ Indeed, beyond going for ‘regular’ dining, this is indeed a venue for that large family or business gathering as ghostlike waitstaff suprize you with abundant servings of creations that go pleasingly beyond the dishes of my youth, e.g. the infamous Sweet n Sour Pork. Miss Elsa graciously noted the serving of their ‘true’ version of Sweet n Sour with the Flounder, serving well as a ‘quiter’ alternate.
    ~ Lest you be leery to go off script per some e.g. Bourdainian (whomever that other guy is) delight, everything for our bacchanal, foodwise that is, is to be enjoyed and not simply hidden by the great sauces accommpanying them.
    ~ Two chopsticks UP, IMHO
    ~ An added treat was meeting some Newcomers! Hopefully, they will also become active Commentators and add other dimensions to what we can expect to delight or be disappointed in, in an overfilled(?) array of eating/dining options to choose from in Metro and State.
    ~ As an aside lest some wonder, yes Kim is a Hoot as a dining partner and proves them to be a Yin-Yang couple IMHO.
    ~ Lastly, Kudos to Lady Graycee for honch’a’ing El Brute’s efforts to organize and pull off a delightful Gathering of The FOGs, or as some might say per the photos, The FOGGIES!

  10. The food, and company, were great. I generally don’t post but I’ll try to change that. I do, however, read Gil’s reviews religiously. I got a better understanding of a friend since I met Jim Millington, his father. Altogether, a great time. DOWN WITH THE DEMON SPICE!

  11. What a great time at the latest FOG dinner!! Hsia Fang and Elsa served a wonderful dinner! Liked some things better than others–what’s new about that–but overall the dinner was fantastic.
    Also got to meet a bunch of the other FOG dinners. Would have liked to meet more but the rotating table idea seemed to die a premature death. Anywho a great time was had by all present!
    The main point of this comment is to chastise those who didn’t show up. Gil and Bruce had to give the Budai a number of people who would be there. They prepared food accordingly, and quite reasonably, expected to be paid for it. When people said they were coming and did not show up, someone had to pay. In this case I guess that was Gil. THAT IS ABSURD! Why should he, or anyone else for that matter, have to pay for someone’s failure to show up? DON”T BOOK A SPACE UNLESS YOU ARE SURE YOU CAN BE THERE!! If you book a space and cannot come, take reasonability for your actions and pay for it!
    Anywho the last FOG dinner was great. Looking forward to the next one! JohnL

  12. What a delicious and fun evening. You could not have chosen a better place for dinner. This was my first time at Budai, and the fare far exceeded my expectations.

    How nice it was to dine and laugh with all of you regulars and to make some new friends. I very much look forward to the next Friends of Gil feast.

  13. It looks as though it will be just one on my end tonight. Two are down with a bug and one has not responded. See you tonight!

  14. FOG is now officially closed to additional foodies.
    Jen, let us know, please, about you 2 maybes as they would make it 24, the limit for our group.

  15. “Tee Hee”, “even tho” you’ve moved away Schuy, doesn’t mean you are not under suspicion —- Suzie Queue!!!
    Pardon, I am not a bit loquacious albeit I might write a few extra details…LOL
    ~ Sorry to read of the Metro’s loss of your gustatorial expertise, but glad to hear Y’all will bring us reports of Texas Chili variations for a Frito Pie.

  16. Compadre Gil, you know I’d love to be there but having relocated to the culinary wasteland of Grand Prairie, Texas, I’ll have to live vicariously through your drool-inducing reviews and you’ll have to wallow in envy at my proximity to the Dallas Cowboys.

    When you taught professional military education in the Air Force you always had a well organized program so I’m surprised you don’t have one for the FOG II dinner. May I suggest (some of these can be done between courses):

    (1) Start with Bob of the Village People delivering the invocation. Since the event is scheduled for 7PM, Bob should begin at 4:30 to make sure he’s done on time.

    (2) Have El Bruto provide a ten minute rebuttal which he’ll probably start with “Bob, you ignorant slut.”

    (3) You should then deliver a fiery missive on the evils of cumin just to see how many FOGs get up and leave.

    (4) Have all the FOGs introduce themselves. As an inclusive exercise, have each FOG play a word association game–take turns saying one word that comes to mind upon hearing the term “Chain restaurants are…”

    (5) Moderate an open discussion as to the true identity of Suzie Queue. Personally I think he/she/it is Edward Sung, but he/she/it could be Bob of the Village People. Their common use of the words “LOL” and “albeit” give him away.

    (6) Have the Child Bride demo her unbelievable ability to eat copious amounts of food.

    (7) Have Hannah and Edward perform the Sonny & Cher hit “I’ve got you babe.”

    (8) When Bob pulls out his press pass, everyone should pass their tickets onto him.

    1. Hi Schuler,

      Dont people think Im me? Thats helerius! Let me tell you about me.

      My real first name is Susan. Im an aunt, but I havnt got any kids of mine own. I love to eat. My favorite food is all you can eat italian or mexican but not to hot. I dont like Chinese or other oriental food, except some egg rolls and sweet and sour pork. I work at a place that makes boxes and packages.

      BOTVOLR is my favorate commentor and Sr. Plata is second. I had a heart attach 2 years ago, so I watch what I eat and park so i have to walk far to the door at work. I thoght it was just an upset stomack but it was a heart attach. They did a bye pass on me and I feel pretty good now.

      For a treet, I drink some beers and watch football. My friend Dawanda doent have any friends. She drinks to. She can drink alot more than me to. LOL! Sometimes she gets sick or crys and sometimes both. We are good freinds.

      I like good meatloaf to! LOL


  17. The following is a list of yeses for Thursday FOG dinner:
    Gil and Kim
    Jim and Janet
    Ed and Hannah
    Jeremy and wife
    John and guest
    John L and Kay
    Mary Ann S. and guest
    Jen (2 definite + 2 maybes)
    Bruce and Grayce
    if I’m missing anyone please let me know.

  18. FOG update:
    Just received an email from Elsa.
    She said she left off one dish, Razor clams in brown sauce.

  19. FOG, the following is the menu proposed by Elsa.
    I am going to request that the special request be rejected and replaced with something more exotic.
    BOTVOLR, you will have to do your own taste test on your next visit to Budai.
    The will of the people has prevailed and sanity has returned to the land of Gil’s Thrilling.
    Tomorrow I will confirm the names of those joining us and then send the revised number to Elsa.
    I’ll request the large round stand alone table in addition to the three 8seaters.
    Our number can easily get to 30. This bodes well for future FOG dinners

    Green Onion Pancake
    Chicken Corn Soup
    (These two will be served at the same time for a great start. This pairing is complementary towards each other, like a baguette with a bowl of chowder.)

    Sweet and Sour Pork
    (Served with fresh pineapple in fresh pineapple shell.)
    ( No wonder BOTVOLR likes the Dog House for special occasion meals)

    Three Cup Chicken
    (Boned dark meat, thinly sliced ginger, basil, slowly cooked in clay pot. Asian cuisine prefer boned dark meat for greater flavor)

    Chinese Eggplant in Garlic Sauce
    (Rich purple skin, creamy textured Chinese eggplant serve with Hsia’s special garlic sauce)

    Snow Vegetable Pork
    (Julianne pork sauteed with lightly salted mustard greens, bamboo, and baked tofu. Very light and subtle. A great dish to complement the above dishes)

    Taiwanese Style Rice Noodle
    (Chopped freshly peeled shrimp, fried shallot onions, bean sprouts. Fresh cilantro on top)

    Asian apple-pear drizzled with a homemade lemon glaze

  20. Yo JohnL,
    Ha Ha…Originally I was trying to be a bit tongue-in-cheek/facetious trying to ‘cover’ my lack of Bourdainian adventuresomeness…aka The Linus Syndrome Hoped my “Be that as it may…” would say its not necessary to accommodate me. But then again, I guess I also wondered…given the respect that the offerings at Budai gets…if their or anyone’s…’sweet n sour’ pork is heads above what we can get anywhere (pieces too big &/or tough; overly sweet/syrupy sauce; soggy/tasteless ‘breading’; lacking in tasty peppers/pineapple; as similar to comparing chicharrones, GCCBs, green/red chile, PB&Js, pizza etc.
    ~ I greatly appreciate El Brute (embarrassingly) asking for sweet n sour pork, but no offense taken if another dish might take its place!

  21. Sorry for the late response – I was inviting people and gathering RSVPs, a squirrelly thing to attempt when friends are in academia and facing the end of the year. Right now, it’s two yes-for-sures and two maybes.

  22. Dear FOG. Leave the menu to Elsa. They do a lot great stuff and you can get sweet and sour pork just about any place. Let her put up their stars. John L

  23. Dear FOG,
    I have passed the number to Elsa and she will set us up in the middle on three tables for 8. She has agreed to the $20 rate but this will not include drinks, taxes or gratuities.
    Since we are being served family style I suggested that we might shift tables between courses and that will give us an opportunity to dine with just about everyone at one time or another.
    Elsa asked us to “take our plates” as we shift around.
    I did ask for one special request, that of Bob-A-Loo’s, for sweet and sour pork.
    While Elsa felt somewhat betrayed by the choice she said OK.
    We are set for 7PM on the 29th and by Wednesday I expect to have a menu to look at and will pass it on the the FOGs for final approval or other requests and ideas.
    In an upcoming post I’ll list names of those I have as coming to this affair and we can reconfirm.
    Thanks for your collective patience.
    Any and all comments are appreciated.

  24. I will be contacting Elsa to give her preliminary numbers.
    I will post a confirmation with names and totals in my next comment.
    Looks like it will be a great turnout!

  25. Tish and I can’t come because we have a class. We’ll try to come to the next one when we have no class.

  26. Whoa!!! Great to see some Newbies will be munching in addition to some Oldies.

    El Brute: That’s a Yes for me too! (BTW: I’m taking your saying that it’ll be “…one of the best meals you’ll have this year…” to mean that Honerable Chef Hsia might be including at least one of my Favs of youth of the ’50s like bite-sized Sweet n Sour Pork or those tiny BBQed sweet-red-glazed, sparebibs or Chop Suey or Fried Rice? Be that as it may or not, looking forward to being challenged to a new Adventure you…well Lady Graycee I’m sure, along with Chef Hsai…have arranged for our eve of w’a’nton ((no pun intended)) pleasure which you imply!)

  27. Both of us are already unpacking our bibs and scrubbing out the gravy stains so we will be there.

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