December 15, 2011

Snapshots of Travels

Left: Crab tostada over salad
Upper Right: Seafood mix, empanada over beans
Bottom Right: Sausage Sandwich from "The International Accordion Festival"
An impromptu stop at Crumbs after a NYC trip (for the first time!)
I've never been the biggest of cupcakes (give me an insomnia chocolate chip cookie any day) but these cupcakes just about live up to all of the hype

Shown: Coffee Toffee
We also got an insanely caloric cookie mania something or other to go but that got devoured later...
Some absurdly delicious bubble tea
Milk tea with Boba
Green tea smoothie with grass jelly (my favorite) 

One more exam and the semester will be officially over.

December 7, 2011

Recharge and Reboot

Thanksgiving inspired brunch specials at TapHouse.
French toast with a smattering of seasonal fruits and some fort of sweet gooey butter
Eggs Benedict over scrumptous stuffing
Ok I confess. I have indeed been one epic SLACKER this entire semester about blogging my eating adventures. Not that I haven't been eating or cooking but I've literally just been SLACKING about taking pictures and posting, but NO MORE (all these caps are clearly indicating how serious I am). Even though this is probably the worst time for me to finally update my blog with the dreaded corp val final in just a week and recruiting smushed in between - this blog has been looking too sad to be ignored much longer. You also know that I've been out of it for way too long because I did not realize blogger updated its interface and it makes posting so much better now (wow, good work Google).

September 28, 2011

The Rainbow after the Rain

Heirloom tomatoes + Basil + Mozzarella 

Sporadically rainy weather this week. I managed to dig these pictures out of my camera last week. I think I took these that night the big hurricane ravaged the East Coast not that we noticed since we were too busy munching away. Smitten Kitchen always has these beautiful shots of uber colorful vegetables so here's my rendition of that. 

I've always been obsessed with those  little pickled vegetables you get at Vietnamese restaurants. Awhile back, one of my foodie friends told me that you can make them yourself and it doesn't take 1039849384 days to marinate. A year later, I finally got around to making them myself :)

September 2, 2011

Au Revoir Canada, Hello Penn

One more day until I head back to Penn. I still refuse to believe that it is September already as I have been insulated in the bubble that is suburbia Pennsylvania for the past 2 weeks. Outside of reading, sleeping and eating - I haven't been doing too much else. Its also hard to do much else when you are waking up at 3:00pm everyday. ha. My justfication to my dad was that I was building up my sleep bank.

Water Chiller, Bread&Butter, Escargot.
Our final dinner in Montreal. It was about time that we had an authentic French meal. So authentic in fact that everything on the menu was in French with no English translation. We managed to fumble our way through the menu an settled on some delicious albeit safe options.

Chicken stuffed with bacon and brie cheese with fresh vegetables.There is of course a more official and French sounding name for this but I have no idea what it is.

Coq au vin (actually translates into rooster in wine...huh, how did that not dawn on me?
I was so so in the mood to order some froi gras but my dining companion was in mood to eat liver. Alas I missed out on my chance to redeem froi gras - the first time I had froi gras dish, I was 12 and thought I had ordered something akin to fried duck - imagine my dismay when the dish turned up to me mushy goo with a side of caramelized apples. Fortunately, my palette has developed somewhat since then.

[A rather large serving of] creme brulee which of course we finished.

August 28, 2011

My kind of flowers

This place takes flowers to a whole new level. Every ingredient, baked delight, afternoon snack and cafe drink had flowers as one of the ingredients. And to boot, there were the most gorgeous bouquets scattered around the tiny 3-table shop.  We happened to serendipitously stumble upon the corner cafe after breezing through St. Laurent but came back on our last day to savor a light brunch and some more floral beverages.

Check out the ambiance! I sure did. The cafe used to be a local corner store which is where the old looking wooden shelves and flooring comes from. Fortunately, everything was still immaculately preserved and even the round tables' tablecloth had matching flowers with an old-time feel. 
[Gorgeous magenta colored flowers; Scrambled Eggs, Tomoato & Polenta; Side Citrus Salad.] Everything was served on either vintage-y china or in these adorable mason jars. Everything sure looks a lot cuter in mason jars. 
Orange Blossom French Cake (I don't know what it was called, caramelized on the outside, almost custardy on the inside), & Cinnamon Pasty with Fresh Fruit. 
Iced Dark Tea, Orange/Rose Infused Soda Water, & Rose Infused Lemonade.  The soda water and lemonade smelled like a bouquet of fresh roses.  Who needs roses when you can have rose lemonade? :)
Rose blossom Sugar Cookies, a gorgeous arrangement of flowers & a jug of crisp water against the setting sun.
More flowers, a vintage couch in the background.

LOVED LOVED LOVED this place. I think we marveled in everything for a good twenty minutes, and then again the next day. Capo will never feel the same after this but such is life.

August 25, 2011

Bonjour Canada

Yea yea its still Canada but its as close as I'm getting to Europe this year. Although a taste of Montreal makes me want to hop on the next red eye to Paris.  Its actually true what they say - turning any word French automatically makes it sound infinitely more romantic. We just about died every time we passed by a chocolatier or saw the words creme glacee.

A (late) breakfast in Mont Royal followed by walking, exploring and shopping, Mont Royal vaguely reminds me of East Village in NYC.  Its filled half with up-and-coming restaurants, boutiques, ethnic cuisine and half with gorgeous residential apartments and hostels. We ventured to the famous 24 hour-a-day/7-days-a-week La Banquise for the famous Canadian poutine later in the afternoon.
Finally tried the much-heralded poutine! And from supposedly the most famous place in Montreal no less. Final verdict? Ambiguous. We ordered the classic which is french fries with gravy and cheese curds and got some bacon thrown in. The fries were not your typical golden diner fries which in this case still worked. The whole mess reminded me of the kind of cheese fries you order from Allegro's at 3 in the morning....I guess that's why this place is open 24 hours. 
Escargot, Salad and Belgian Fries in Mont Royal; My travel companion is absolutely in love with escargot from her travels in France (major jealousy over here) although I've never been very fond of the butter-soaked aspect of the dish. That was until I realized they aren't always soaked in butter. Huh. Well, I still think they aren't that exciting given the other options that exist on a menu. 
Vieux Montreal
Ham quiche with beet salad at an adorable chocolatier/cafe by Notre-Dame Basilica (pictures forthcoming!).  This light and airy quiche inspired me to make quiche on my first full day home...which my father promptly gobbled up. haha.  
A life-changing panini. Sure it looks unassuming but man what a flavor combination: smoke salmon, cream cheese, roasted eggplant, capers, peso and arugula.  I am tying this one at home kids. \
Lunch at Jardin Nelson in Old Montreal. We were fortunate enough to experience gorgeous weather all week and this day was no different.  Every restaurant we passed was filled with bustling diners sitting on patios, by windows and in the open sun. Jardin Nelson took this to the extreme and had two dining terraces as well as an open roof available for locals and tourists alike. The crepe was rather disappointing but  the live jazz music was quite enjoyable. 

A flaky and delicious chocolate croissant and brie cheese fondue with baguette and grapes. I never really got the whole fruit and cheese combo but I always like anything I eat enough times :)
Downtown Montreal
(Left) Portobello burger with sprouts, tomato and some sort of amazing creamy cheese...might have been cream cheese haha. (Right) Burger with brie and bacon. A late (a little too late) spontaneous dinner at 10pm after a 3 hour nap left our stomachs grumbling. This happened to be one of the few places where the kitchen was still open at 10pm (don't ask me why everything closes so early).  The burgers seemed like a safe bet off of the pretty Americanized menu but they were DELICIOUS. I think adding brie to anything just makes it taste good. Funnily enough, they didn't ask us how we wanted our burger cooked but even the medium-well quality left the burger nice and juicy. 

Forthcoming posts: the official most adorable cafe in Montreal (which we went to 2 days in a row even though it was on the other side of town), a good old fashioned French dinner in the Latin Quarter, and a great big bunch of gratuitous scenic shots.

August 22, 2011

The Last Hurrah in the Big Apple

Gelato from Eataly. Ok Capo, I think you've met your match. Pistachio + Hazelnet in a waffle cone? ZOMG I'm in heaven. 

Is it already almost the end of August? The experience of a milestone birthday, the end of a whirlwind internship, a spontaneous trip to Montreal and now I am back in my bed at home furiously sending out emails in preparation for the upcoming semester. I don't think I even remembered to do anything particular for the one-year anniversary of this blog or take any pictures of my Bday dinner. Sigh. Is this what happens when you officially grow up? Life starts moving like a fast forwarded movie? 

At least I'm still making time to smell the pork ramen along the way :) Leave it to me to wait until my last day in NYC to finallyy check off some foodie adventures that have been on "the list" since day 1. Guess that's why they always say better late than never. 

Momofuku Noodle Bar.  Momofuku Ramen with pork belly, pork shoulder and poached egg. Pork buns with hoisin and cucumber. I think I like the noodles at Momo better but the broth at Ippudo was definitely more flavorful. Pork buns are comparable although Momo's was clearly a lot fattier. Good food is still good food  :p
Momofuku Milk Bar. Cereal Milk Ice Cream & Grasshopper Pie (not shown).  For someone who doesn't really like the taste of milk (and yet ice cream is still my favorite food group...huh), cereal milk flavored ice cream was not really my thing but you gotta praise David Chang for his creativity.

After raving about Tamarind to my co-workers the first time around, guess who was lucky enough to go back for another spectacular (somewhat gluttinous) three-course lunch? This time it was with a new friend from work. Life is at its best when moments are the most serendipitous - especially when its the start of a new friendship :)

Spicy Lamb. Curry Chicken. Sadly, I do not remember the name of these dishes (not that I even knew how to pronounce it the fist time around).
Kashmiri Murgh (Chicken) and Bhagarey Paneer (Cottage Cheese)
Amritsari Machli (Marinated Fish) and Pudina Gosht (Boneless Lamb)
Side of Nan and Root Vegetables
Rice Pudding that wound up seeming more like Vanilla Mousse but still delicious :)

Norma's at Le Parker Meridien
My LAST brunch in the city. The brunch was decent but the servings were ENORMOUS including the coffee where they served you an entire kettle (per person).  Guess who was uber caffeinated for the rest of the day?? Check out their very expansive menu.

Normalita's Huevos Rancheros.
Crunchy French Toast with Warm Caramel Sauce. So this might just put RX's crunchy french toast to shame. IF only there had been some fruit with this dish! One can only take so much of super sweetness and dense delicious carbyness.
Dinner with T. at Pipas y Mas. The lighting at the restaurant was way wayy too dark for me to get any good ambiance shots but the restaurant's website does a pretty darn good job highlighting their extravagant lighting decor of 20 something chandeliers. We didn't really explore the full tapas menu but what we did get was yummmmy. And we took NYMag's recommendation on the piggy back dates which were indeed very tasty.

Catalan Flat Bread - Slized Chorizo, artichoke, tomato and piquillo pepper

Catalan Flat Bread - wild mushrooms, serrano ham, manchego cheese, caramelized onion, almonds and truffle oil.
Piggy Back Dates - almond stuffed, bacon wrapped dates with endive leaves.

Cooking class and dinner at the Institute of Culinary Education. We had the choice of helping with one of three courses - guess who opted to help with the peanut butter/chocolate goodness dessert?? 

Making caramel (apparently you are supposed to add salt at the end of the heating process to make the flavor pop which in hindsight is kind of intuitive considering PinkBerry now sells salted caramel fro-yo but it makes me want to go make caramel!), whipping up peanut butter mousse and stirring up chocolate cake batter.
Risotto with medley of vegetables.
Steak with fingerling potatoes and asparagus.
Chocolate cake with peanut mousse and caramel sauce.

Not to shabby for a wrap-up of the city that never sleeps. Lets see if I can crank out the posts I have from Montreal before I head out to Penn. Farewell NYC! Until next time ;)

July 24, 2011

Stories from Manhantan (and Brooklyn)

OK so story #1: I was determined to visit the famed Brooklyn Flea Market after reading about it on NY Mag (which has just about replaced Yelp at this point for restaurant recommendations), and in particular - the foodie bonanza known as Smorgasburg.

Last weekend, we hopped on the ACE train and headed out to Brooklyn. First we got lost, then we walked 15 blocks only to find out we ended up at the wrong flea market and that the one were looking for was only open on Sundays. Sigh. Oh but of course it turned out to be an amazing (foodie) experience and I wound up staying for 5 hours. Today, I went to go see the "official" flea market in Williamsburg and who knew? It was basically the exact same thing. ha-ha.

HomeMade Fizzy Juice: Grapefruit & Jalapenos.  Sounds weird but you're talking to someone who eats jalapenos as a condiment. It was delicious :)
Other eats that I still need to try.
Pork Sandwiches on Ciabatta bread. and a piggie toy. adorbs. 

Corn Tortillas, Fresh Salsa and Spicy Toppings. All fresh and beautifully prepared. Sigh. 
[Pork Tacos]  Reminded me of the AMAZING tacos from Cancun. I've never been a fan of tortilla until I realized on day it was just flour tortilla. Corn tortilla gets a gold star from me. 
YUM YUM YUM!!! Can you tell I was excited?

Story #2: I was majorly craving fried chicken one night so I went over to Kyochon on 31st and 5th Ave.  I asked for the spicy wings and holy cow it was inedible spicy, I didn't even know such a thing existed. Kind of disappointing. Scratch that - really disappointing.  At least the pickled veggies were yummy except they were spicy too! Which would of course normally be ok but not when you've already lost feeling in your tongue. And the kicker of the story is that BonChon was only 1 block away and would probably have been infinitely better. Sigh.

That chicken even looks spicy in the picture.

Story #3: On a much happier note, I have had the most amazing, life-changing and memorable macarons of my life. WOW.  Bouchon Bakery has instantly become a new love. Located in the Time Warner's Building which is conveniently "only" 10 blocks from my apartment, we stopped by after a filling brunch at Silhouette.   Everything about the macarons was perfect. The texture was very cake-like and the fillings were creamy and not overwhelmingly sweet. I could easily eat a whole box of them. Fortunately or unfortunately, $4/macaron kept me from ordering a whole box.

Blueberry Cheesecake, Salted Caramel.
Story #4 Lunch at Ciano's on the hottest day of the year. Thank goodness for AC and prix fixe lunches :) We were literally drenched from the 1.5 blocks it took to walk to the restaurant.  For once, I was grateful for the freezing AC that's always being blasted at work.

I personally can never turn down eggplant when I see it on the menu. I don't know what it is for other people but its eggplant for me; plus Italian cuisine just happens to be one of the ones that consistently serves up delicious eggplant.

Crespelle; Savory Crepes filled with Ricotta Spinach, Zucchini and Swiss Chard
Tre Formaggi Raviolo; Stracchino, Burrata and Parmigiano with Rosemary-Brown Butter
Shaved Vegetable Salad with Mixed Greens, Carrot, Fennel, Peppers and Ricotta Salata
Roasted Eggplant “Amatriciania”; Tomato, Guanciale and Pepperoncini
Strawberry Sorbet & Biscotti. Of course, there is no other dessert choice but sorbet when the weather outside is spiking to 105 degrees.
Story #5: Brunch at Esperanto in the Village. With my weekends in NYC sadly winding down, it meant it was time to get adventurous. Instead of the usual brunch in Hells Kitchen - we ventured to the East side (so East that numbers turned into letters...which I of course didn't even realize existed) . And a prix fixe brunch that includes coffee and a cocktail for $10.95? Who can say no to that? 

Confession time: we were actually trying to get brunch at the Sunburnt Cow (unlimited mimosas for $20...) but the wait was over 2 hours and it was 2:00pm already. So we settled on Esperanto but I am very tempted to actually experience the experience  the midday version of an open bar. 

Huevos Rancheros. Esperanda with its colorful table designs and plastic decor reminds me of a fancier food shack off a beaten road somewhere in a tropical island. The side potatoes had flavorful kick to them - reminded me of paprika.
Tropical French Toast.  Nothing fancy, no brioche, no creme fraiche, no fruite compote. This french toast tasted like the french toast I had when my dad made it for me for the first time.
Huevos Languas: poached egg, greens and potato shrimp cake. The food here was also really similar to RX at Penn in the sense that the food is on the simpler side but well-prepared and in a light-hearted ambiance.