Monday, May 24, 2010

Strawberry Season

It's been a while...
I've been incredibly busy with all my final projects and just haven't had the time to be posting lately but I definitely have a ton of adventures to share as soon as I get a moment to breathe.
But until then, I wanted to share with you whats been getting me through all the work and studying--strawberries and condensed milk! Delicious! (And yes, although I love CoolWhip, I definitely love condensed milk more!) Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sake Tasting

I'm on a roll with Japanese food these days, huh?
Well, here are some pictures from the sake tasting I went to last night at Sushilicious near my place in Irvine.
I learned so much from our sake sommelier, who is literally one of only 20,000 in Japan. And there are only about 100-200 outside of Japan. Crazy, isn't it? But I guess it's not different from wine.
I also learned that the more polished the rice is before the brewing process, the more pure the sake--and the more expensive!
Next time I drink sake, I'll be looking out for purity!

The blue bottle was my favorite! It was incredibly fruity with notes of lychee and melon and was very light. Great for drinking on its own. (About $75 per 720ml in stores and anywhere from $90-100 for 720mL in restaurants)
Then, we had the white bottle which was very dry, and great with sashimi because it brings out the flavors of the fish.
And then finally, we had the green bottle which went well with foods more complex in flavors and was very dry as well.
Tako salad (octopus)--great with the blue bottle, and sashimi (salmon, yellow tail, and tuna)
Crab and greens wrapped in rice and a soy paper with a tempura shrimp, topped with a spicy mayo--SO GOOD!

Monday, May 10, 2010


Yes, well, it's that time of year again.

Matt and I have made it tradition that we go to an omakase sushi place about ever six months, and this time it's about six months over due (probably because we indulged in New York).

I LOVE nigiri, and what better way to have it then having the sushi chef choose the freshest fish for you? We usually go to Sushi Wasabi, which is a small omakase style Japanese restaurant that Matt lives near, but we decided to be adventurous this time and try a new place--Ohshima. The sushi chef was incredibly friendly, funny, and you could tell that he really loves his job (that and he had some sake on the job...makes cutting fish more exciting I guess)

O, and I can't forgot to mention that we saw someone order torched wagyu so after an 8 piece omakase, guess what we ordered...
...Why yes, I would love some flavorful, melt-in-your-mouth, beef that is lightly torched for a caramelized flavor please.

If 8 pieces of fresh sushi isn't enough for you--you can get the 10 piece, if that's still not enough, you can get the 12 piece...

OR can get the WAGYU...if I were you, that's what I'd opt for.

Funny story: the lady who sat next to us, bless her heart, asked Matt (in the middle of our meal) "Excuse me, how do you get the chef to continuously give you one piece at a time like that?"

Answer: OMAKASE, you have to try it!


Starfruit is totally nostalgic for me. So when I saw it at the grocery store the other evening, I just had to buy it.

In flavor, it's comparable to a cross between an apple and a pear, in texture it's comparable to a crisp plum, and in shape...well, there's just nothing quite like it.

Lazy Saturday Morning

Just what we needed--a relaxing Saturday morning brunch at The Cannery Restaurant in Newport Beach.
Matt and I've picked up food from the boat dock before when we rented a boat and we thought that food was good then, but let me assure you, it's MUCH better when you dine in the restaurant.

Rich, creamy clam chowder with TONS of clams and incredibly crusty and warm bread; it was one of the thickest chowders I've ever had...maybe a little too rich for me.

Steamed mussels and clams in a delicious white wine sauce with cream. It was the perfect balance of flavorful wine, garlic, and shallots. The mussels and clams were perfectly cooked--there's really nothing better than fresh, perfectly cooked shell fish in a rich savory sauce with lots of lemon.

Lobster roll!!! I wish I hadn't gotten so full off of the chowder and the steamed shellfish because this lobster roll was amazing! It was a lobster claw meat salad stuffed into a crisp, buttery, brioche served with perfectly cooked fries and a marinated portabello.

Matt and I decided that we HAVE to go back there again so that we can fully enjoy lobster roll. Next time, we won't start with two creamy dishes and end with a buttery brioche...

Wraps at Home

Vietnam rice wrappers=endless possibilities.
Fried fish, rice noodles, lettuce, pickled turnip and carrots, and lots of fish sauce with chili sauce.
I'd have to say, we've gotten pretty good at making our own spring rolls.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Halal and Birdie Update

It's really daunting staring into a menu where you barely recognize anything.
(Don't get me wrong, I love Indian food and I've had Halal food many a time, but I've never really ordered off of a menu at an Indian restaurant or a Halal restaurant before because I've either gotten it from a cart, or ate it at a buffet)

I wandered in to a Pakistani and Indian Cuisine restaurant the other day when I went to go buy dinner for Matt and I--it was completely on a whim. This place is literally 5 mins away from my house in Irvine and I never even knew it was there.

I walked in to this part Halal market part restaurant, that was no bigger than small apartment living room, and the aroma of coriander, clove, and other spices filled my senses. So I went with my gut and picked up a menu--here comes the daunting part:

Mutter Pilau, Aloo-Ki-Tikeeh, Rajmah, Paneer Aaloo, Karahi Gosht--what is all this stuff?

The owner came up to me and asked if it was my first time; she could probably tell from the confusion on my face.

I asked her to recommend a few thing for a two person meal.

She said I had to try their two most popular items; the Tikka Boti Wrap Roll (which I had my eye on already, the picture just looked so good! And let's face it, anything in 'burrito' form, I'll eat), and she also suggested the Biryani, a rice dish.

I wasn't really buying into the rice dish. But one customer who was waiting for her pick up of Biryani endorsed it with enthusiasm. So I said, "Alright, I'll get that too."

And I would not regret it.

(Saffron basmati rice and masala sauce with chicken and lots of herbs and spices. It had lots of flavors that are signature to Middle Eastern/ Indian food. It was incredibly aromatic and delicious)
Tikka Boti Wrap Roll with Paratha and Goat Meat
(The meat is marinated in lots of herbs and spices and cooked in a tandoori oven and then wrapped with riata chutney and onions--it was good! I had goat meat for the very first time the other day per suggestion of, well, my curiosity. What better place to have it than a Halal restaurant and what better form to have it in than a Pakistani 'burrito'.
On the other hand, remember when I said that I absolutely love na'an? Well, I've found something better--paratha.)
Paratha is a flat bread that's flaky and crisp on the outside and doughy towards the center--if you've ever had Chinese green onion pancake, it's reminiscent to that in texture. The goat was surprisingly not as game-y as I thought it would be, but I think having it once is enough for me.

Birdie update: They grow up so fast! Look at all those new feathers.

Monday, May 3, 2010

We Made Pizza & The Baby Birds Are Growing Up!

What a find--fresh whole wheat pizza dough from Trader Joe's.

Matt and I have been meaning to buy some fresh pizza dough from our neighborhood Italian market and try our hands at dough rolling/ tossing/ flaring? (That's what Matt wanted to try his hands at, but sadly, I discouraged it because I wanted pizza in my belly, not on the floor)
But since we never get home in time to buy dough from the Italian market before it closes, I was ecstatic to have found some at Trader Joe's (and whole wheat dough at that!)

Our pizza turned out square, but it was fun playing with the dough. We're by no means pizza chefs, but we're working on it!
(topped with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, TONS of prosciutto, fresh basil, salt and pepper, and arugula--I love fresh rocket lettuce on my pizza.)

Pinot Grigio with my pizza? Why, certainly.
(Still not a huge fan of white wine. It was a little too sweet for me, but it went well with the pizza)

Baby birdies!
Look how big they've grown!
They have bright yellow beaks now and can open their eyes--adorable!
Matt and I peek into the cypress every time we walk in and out of his front door.

And It Continues

Sorry folks, but the noodle obsession is still very much alive.

This time, it's Trieu Chau--thick rice noodles in a clear but flavorful broth (much better than the one Matt and I tried to make several weeks ago). The thing that I like most about Trieu Chau, other than the broth, is that each bowl is filled with goodies--meatballs, fish balls, fish cake, pork liver, shrimp, chicken, duck, ground pork, fried garlic bits, pork kidney, and shrimp (or any combination of the above, depending on where you go).

I like mine with lots of that green chili brine you see there--tangy and spicy.
Matt likes his with lots of fried chili oil. So much chili oil that it turns his entire soup bowl red--I have to admit, it is good that way.

Will you look at that...

Fried crab and shrimps cakes
(We could have done without, they were just like giant fried siu mai--with lots of ground fatty pork. They were good, but not mind blowing like anything with crab AND shrimp should be)

Indian Buffet? Yes, Please.

I die for na'an...seriously, I do.

The first time I ever had Indian food was when I was a junior in high school, I believe. I was excited to have found this new cuisine, but also very sad that I had missed out on 17 years of eating Chicken Tikka Masala (don't judge me, as Indian food sell out as this may seem, I love this stuff). But it wasn't the curry that left me wanting more, it was the na'an--soft, chewy, and warm--it was unlike any other bread that I had ever had before.

I was hooked.

Garlic, plain, potato filled--I loved them all.

But once I moved to Orange County, it was hard to find Indian restaurants not only that, but it was difficult to find someone who would eat it with me--or so I thought.
Matt was the answer! He's an even bigger Indian food fanatic than I am--I love it, but he's IN love with it.

As filling as it is, we tend to crave Indian lunch buffets (which are much more affordable than dinner) at least two or three times a month.
Garlic na'an
(My love)
Tandoori Chicken
(Always moist! Don't be scared of the fire engine red--it's just deliciousness rubbed all over it)
My Indian lunch buffet must haves: Green Chutney (which, I'm embarrassed to say, I have yet to find the name for)--it tastes like it's made of cilantro, mint, caraway seeds or cardamom, and other spices; Chicken Tikka Masala, Rice (Only a scoop--have to save room for na'an), Samosa, and Cucumbers (just because I love them)
Mango Lassi
(Blend of Mango and Yogurt, it's very healthy and it's the perfect drink to soothe the heat from the curries)

Chinese Please

Ok, so every time I share this piece of information with my friends, I tend to get scoffed at, but I'm going to share it here anyways. goes:

I'm am not a big fan of Chinese food (as in Chinese take-out/ fast food), nor do I really like rice.

There...I said it!

BUT, what hold dear to my heart is really authentic and region specific Chinese food. And I've found that being away at college for four years--moving from San Francisco (a mecca of Chinese food, not to mention accessible at EVERY corner) to Orange County where the Chinese population is like 2%, if even, (don't quote me on that one,it's not a real statistic, more like an observation), it has actually made me miss and love Chinese food. Crazy...I guess distance does make the heart grow fonder.

Thousand Year Old Egg with Pork Liver and Kidney Porridge
( I would be a master on Fear Factor)

Fish Fillet Wonton Noodle Soup