Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Miscellaneous Mondays and Tuesdays

The randomness that is Monday and Tuesday starts here:

CHOCOLATE WINE? Yes, please! It smelled really strong but was really delicious and chocolate-y when sipped--it's definitely comparable to Bailey's--but less pricey. If you ever stumble across this item (imported from Holland--but I found it in my local Japanese market) I recommend trying it!
Although, there's really no good replacement for dessert, this one comes pretty close.

Mattern Sausage and Deli--one of my favorite places to grab a bite (Spicy Polish. Yum!--With mustard and sauerkraut; what more could a girl ask for?) It's a pretty messy roll, I almost ALWAYS go through a large stack of napkins. But that's half the fun anyways!
The funny thing about Mattern is, is that it is literally located ten feet (if even) from a Weinerschnitzel. Why would anyone ever choose a fast food chain over and authentic mom & pop deli? I just don't get it...
Crystal Cove (It was hot and sunny in Irvine, but to our disappointment, we could not say the same for the beach towns)

Beautiful vintage-esque wine savers.

GIANT gummy bear! (it says blue raspberry flavor, but the gummy bear sure wasn't blue...)
I'll stick with my regular sized gummies, thanks.

Laguna Beach: Candy Barron (It was SO crowded for some reason, and remember, this is a totally random Monday in April. I really wanted candy after Matt and I walked through the Dr. Seuss Gallery...but it wasn't worth the wait for one piece of peppermint taffy.)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Food Styling

Lately I've been mesmerized by food styling.
Paul Lowe is perhaps one of my favorite food stylists:
(you must check out Sweet Paul, he has some of the most tastey looking recipes!)

How delicious and picturesque does all of this look, huh? Pure genius.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Bun Ba Hue

What can I say about Bun Ba Hue other than that you have not lived until you've tried it.
Matt and I LOVE noodle we're kind of obsessed, and we'll go far and wide in search of the perfect bowl. (...that and it's the best cure for the morning after a three hour wine festival).
Granted that Pho has its deliciously savory 5 spice broth that is absolutely one of the best hang-over cures. But ladies and gents, I have to say...Bun Ba Hue has surpassed Pho in the noodle soup race.
The Bun Ba Hue broth is a force to be reckoned with--it's savory, it's sour, it's spicy--everything a Southeast Asian dish should be, and absolutely everything I love about Southeast Asian food is epitomized in that bowl of noodle soup.
The broth is poured over thick rice vermicelli, fish balls and fish cakes with large black peppercorns embedded in them (it's like minesweeper, every time you bite into that unsuspecting peppercorn, it's like an explosion of spice and flavor in your mouth), a cube of coagulated porks blood (LOVE!), beef brisket, and pig's knuckle. It's served with a side of julienned cabbage, raw bean sprouts, lots of different herbs (which I recognize the taste and looks of, but have no idea what the names are) and a wedge of lemon.--slide all that into the bowl and you've got a perfect combination of cool and crisp, with meat, spice, tang, and salt. Irresistible.
Bun Ba Hue (We found this restaurant by accident. We were looking for a highly recommended pho place and in the process of searching we found this restaurant which had a sign--a real sign, not a banner--that said BUN BA HUE. If you've put the money into making a real sign for your Bun Ba Hue...then we have to try it! --It did not disappoint)

I fished out my pig's knuckle--it was huge...

Herbs for the Bun Ba Hue
I don't like egg rolls (never have) but these were pretty good, and Matt insists on getting egg rolls at almost every Vietnamese noodle soup place that we come across. (I've come to the conclusion that all egg rolls...)

Yakitori, Dana Point Wine Festival, and A Nest Full Of Baby Birdies

What an eventful weekend!!
The homemade Yakitori grill that Matt and his Friends built. Probably the best construction/outcome of all their crazy ideas.
O, and Matt's special sake sauce (Super yummy. I would share with you the components of this sauce but it's a recipe that he's taking with him to the grave! I've tried to trick him into telling me, but sadly, he did not fall for it, AT ALL.)
Lots of skewering! (chicken thighs, beef, beef tongue--my personal favorite yakitori item, and chicken gizzard)

Dana Point Wine Festival! Thank goodness the sun came out, it made for a really nice day near the beach with LOTS of wine, beer, and tequila.

Our tasting glasses.

Yum! These were so good! It was (strip?) steak on crackers with this really delicious white sauce on top. Super tender and great complement to all the wine.

Melting pot was there! It totally satisfied my three day long chocolate craving.

Three different kinds of sausages with lots of dijon--couldn't help myself.

A delicious quesadilla--super cheesy!

Bun Ba Hue the morning after lots of wine

And look! Baby birdies in the cypress tree outside of Matts house! They're so fluffy, cute, and in the mornings...VERY loud!!--my camera does not do them justice.

What a deliciously successful weekend!

Chicken Maison

I love kebobs! I think what really gets me about kebobs, is not only because I LOVE all things skewer-ed, but kebobs always have the best caramelized grill flavor that makes my mouth water.
They are perhaps one of my favorite foods--moist chicken kebobs served with a side of creamy Lebanese garlic sauce, plus an incredibly friendly had me at "hello".
Chicken Maison in Santa Ana is exactly that!
I had the Chicken kebob combo with potato salad and coleslaw (Greek style--it's made with this incredible vinaigrette instead of mayo)
Matt had the chicken kebob combo with Chicken Maison Rice and hummus (I kind of scoffed at Matt when he ordered rice as one of is two sides, but it turns out that this wasn't just any rice. It was deliciously interesting--in a good way! It was spiced with what tasted like nutmeg and was cooked with little grapes. Surprisingly good)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Cupcakes and Cookies Galore

I just stumbled upon the most wonderful sweets recipe website: Ming Makes Cupcakes.
To. Die. For!
If you're as big of a cupcake and cookie fanatic as I am, you have to check this site out!
Vanilla Cupcake with Strawberry Filling and Milk Chocolate
Overnight Butter Shortbread (How cute are these?)
Are you wondering what these beauties are? Get this, they're cornbread cupcakes with a goat cheese frosting and bacon...for sprinkles...DROOL. I'm in love--savory cupcakes--who can beat that?

These are just SOME of the recipes that caught my eye.
I just might have to try my hand at making these real soon!
Cupcakes, cookies, and tea anyone?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Chew Chow

And the noodle soup obsession continues!

Thick rice noodles! Our favorite!

We peeled a pound of shrimp! I definitely need to learn a faster way to peel.
Fried garlic and shallots...makes ALL the difference

Fish balls, beef tendon balls, scallions, cilantro, bean sprouts, and ground pork
The broth...four hours of simmering paid off ( looks kind of gross, but it was really good. I'm still trying to figure out what's missing. It wasn't as complex in flavor as the ones in restaurants)
My MUCH smaller bowl of noodle soup
(Matt's GIANT bowl of noodles with TONS of Thai fried chili paste, you'll never catch him eating a bowl of noodle soup in another color)

WE MADE CHEW CHOW from scratch!
Not to toot our own horn or anything...(you can feel that I'm going to do it anyways, huh?) but this turned out pretty darn good for our first time around! We are definitely going to make this again and try to perfect the broth recipe. It's a keeper.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Hand-Pulled Noodles

I, for one, am and always will be a fan of Northern Chinese Cuisine.

Pork Pancake
Beef Noodle Soup (with hand-pulled noodles)
Shanxi Noodles (with hand-pulled noodles)

On weekends, Matt and I like to go out and explore new restaurants (plus, they're our work-out off days which means "Eat WHATEVER you want!"). Seeing as how we hadn't been to L.A. in a while, we figured..."Hey, why not?"
So after sitting in two hours of traffic and rubber necking (what L.A. freeways are best known for) we finally reached our destination.

If you want noodles that bite back, you need to go to Kam Hong Garden in Monterey Park. Just by the smell of beefy anise broth that danced on our noses as we walked in to this small restaurant, we knew that we were in for a great meal.
At Kam Hong Garden, a Northern Chinese Cuisine restaurant, they make delicious hand-pulled noodles, knife-cut noodles, and hand-cut noodles--it was the perfect place for Matt and I to cure our hankering for bold flavor and, what else...NOODLES.

Their chewy, imperfectly shaped noodles are coated in delicious gravies and/or swimming in boldly flavored broths juxtaposed by cool cucumbers or earthy leaves of cilantro and green onion to make for an amazingly fulfilling meal.

To my surprise...

Yes, the noodles were delicious, but it was the pork pancake that stole the show for me. Made with fatty pork paper-thinly sliced with cilantro, green onions, and a healthy serving of refreshing julienned cucumber, smeared with what tasted like hoisin sauce, all rolled in a Chinese tortilla (?)--similar to that of a mushu wrapper--like a burrito and cut into six servings--nothing like I had had before. It was a little messy to eat because the cucumbers tended to slip out (sad), but who knew that just a few simple ingredients could create such a flavorful finger food?

And, I have to say, the food all came out within five minutes of ordering--TAKE THAT AMERICAN FAST FOOD!!

Verdict: Chewy, flavorful, meaty mix of a delicious glimpse into Northern Chinese cuisine + the best cure for a weeks worth of a noodle soup craving.

Ice Cream

"Currently following Coolhaus on Twitter."

That probably sounds completely lame (even to me), since I've pretty much given up on following ghost trucks across Los Angeles. I mean, I HAVE been searching for that mobile they call a Kogi Truck for the past year and have still come up empty handed...well that and I've discovered Hashigo in Costa Mesa that serve kal-bi tacos that are said to be significantly better. (
Don't get me wrong, I LOVE street food served from a truck or a cart--but if I have to chase you through a city that's 450+ square's a losing battle (for me that is).

That said, I've just come across this website for an all natural-ice cream sandwich ice cream truck (wow, that was an awkward sentence...) and the pictures have definitely sparked my interest. But is it enough to get me back on the road to hunt for novelty on wheels?

We'll see if I have any luck with this one. Maybe it'll change my mind about traveling food trucks.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Caramel Connoisseur

I grew up eating TONS of caramel candies--rolos, milk duds, milky ways, Werther's Originals (by far one of my favorite hard candies)--Every Halloween, I would happily flip my jack-o-lantern bucket upside down from high up in the air on to my bed as I rifled through all of my Halloween sweets in search of all the caramel treats. So while others were busy counting how much candy they had gotten that night, all I cared about was how much caramel was in that bucket.

I don't think I've ever lost that sweet tooth for caramel (I still have a sweet tooth for a lot of things, come to think) In fact, in middle school I would make caramels all the time once I discovered how amazing corn syrup was for chewy candy making. And now I've stumbled across this brand new grown up caramel recipe--fleur de sel caramels:

Going to have to try to make these VERY soon!
Who can resist a chewy, mouth watering caramel? Not I!

(I might have to make several batches...I have a feeling these are going to disappear fast!)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Venezuelan Food

Ethereal. Not in the floaty, marshmallow-y, fluff kind of way, but in a hearty, flavorful, stick-to-your-ribs-till-you-cry-because-it's-so god-damn-good kind of way. I cannot begin to describe how wide my eyes opened after taking my first bite of the Asado Arepa--I think a rendition of Usher's O.M.G. started playing in my head. It was meaty--coated in a deep dark sauce that was as deep in flavor as mole. AMAZING. Matt had the Pabellon, which was to say the least, a delicious blend beans, carne, and freshly shaved cheeese...and you wrap all of that in a grilled corn bread and you've got yourselves a winner! (Definitely better than a burger...or a slider!!) We also had the Cachapa Con Carne Mechada--That was the highlight for me! It was delicious shredded beef with a whole chunk of delicious white cheese all wrapped in the most delicious sweet corn pancake you will ever come across! It literally put a smile on my face.

They serve their dishes with two different sauces, one was creamer and less spicy, and one was pretty spicy but came out of the squeeze bottle looking more like a blended salsa. I couldn't decide which one I like I mixed them together, making them one whole new sauce! YUmmm (mixing was per suggestion out o so friendly waiter).
Cachapa Con Carne Mechada

The Asado

The Pabellon

And since it's name is Mil Jugos, we had to get a juice to wash it all down with--strawberry was my drink of choice--and as you can probably guess, it was incredibly refreshing after all that meat!!

Side note: Their service is amazing! They were incredibly friendly and that's what made the entire experience that much more enjoyable. Our waiter took the time to explain to us what's in each of the dishes we were thinking about ordering. He and one of the cooks also made sure we were doing O.K. every so was probably because we looked like first-timers!

Verdict: cozy, robust, friendly meal! Muy bueno!

Thursday, April 15, 2010


I came across this quote today:
Life is too short to waste obsessing over fat grams or carb grams or never, ever exceeding 1,200 calories a day--Bethany Frankel

I love this quote! I think that people should never feel guilty about having ice cream, or a slice of cake! There's no reason why you should feel bad, as long as you're not eating unhealthy foods in excessive amounts. So indulge--everyone deserves a Nations burger, or carne asada fries, or chocolate lava cake once in a while!

Taiwanese Porridge

What can I say about Taiwanese porridge, other than it's absolutely delicious? (And that I'm lucky enough to live just 2 mins away from it!)

I think I like it so much because it's like comfort food; the the mac and cheese of the Far East.

Taiwanese porridge is different from the porridge you would get at a Chinese restaurant in that instead of giving you porridge with all the goodies in it already, you get plain porridge with large chunks of yam in it (probably my favorite thing about it) and then you get to choose two very flavorful cold side dishes, from at least 20 different choices, to eat with your plain porridge. They have everything from spicy honeycomb tripe, to cold marinate beef, to cold jellyfish, to bitter melon--you name it, they've got it.
Matt and I had ours with pickled cucumber, bean curd, soy beans and pickled turnips, and salted duck. (And of course we asked for a side of chili sauce)
Did I mention that you get endless refills of porridge? How amazing is that?
(Let me tell you though, it's VERY filling. Matt and I rarely ask for seconds!)

ALL this food was only $15! So it works out to a little more than $7 per person. Worth it? You bet your bottom dollar!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Two events are coming up that I'm really excited to attend:

1) Dana Point Wine Festival:
April 24, 2010

And...brace yourselves for this one...

2) ANTHONY BOURDAIN IS SPEAKING AT UCLA on June 16 to talk about No Reservations and his new book Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook
I bought my ticket! Have you?

New York Withdrawls

So, I woke up this morning seriously missing all the New York adventures Matt and I had last month. New York offered some of the best food I've had...well...ever!...(ok, well maybe not EVER, but in a very long time). I must admit, it was a great way to start off the big 2-2. More food splurging and binging? Why, yes! I would love some!...But where to next?...
Recap photos from the days I've been missing O so much: