June 19, 2011


1. The Best of Street Food
Takoyaki Sampler, Curry Fries and Dessert Balls at Maru Global. Hi Jeff!
I took these pictures a few weeks back and after the meal, I realized the pictures were way way too small. You'd think I would learn by now but no. Last week, I went to the Met only to realize I didn't charge my battery so I went home, charged the battery, went out to dinner and realized I forgot the memory card. Sigh. Anyways back to these pictures, I found out that I could put them all into a collage! Maru Global is a specialty takoyaki joint in Philadelphia with made from scratch takoyakis on a takoyaki stove. SO LEGIT. The owner is from Japan and the food is as authentic as it can get when it comes to Japanese street food. They even have a takoyaki hat. 

Takoyaki literally translates into fried/grilled octopus. The octopus (or other seafood) is inside a ball of batter and is served with bonito flakes and Japanese mayo or some other cheesy/glutinous goodness. So so so so good. Googling takoyaki actually turned up a restaurant called Otafuku in the East Village. Guess I'll be going there next weekend!

2. Another Attempt at Dan Dan Mian 

Sauce ingredients: Peanut butter, soy sauce, garlic salt, chili sauce, sesame oil, salt, pepper, szechuan sauce, garlic sauce...might have missed something but that sounds about right. Used same ingredients (minus peanut butter) to cook the meat and added hot chili oil and peppercorns.
MMMMM. I want noodles now.
After looking up the directions to Dan Dan Mian, I realized I had missed about 10 ingredients in my first try. Then I realized, we didn't even have half of the ingredients. At least this attempt was closer but it still resembled noodles with peanut sauce. Hm oh well. At least it was still yummy.

My dinner...
Connie's dinner...
Forgot to include these pictures from my travels but we went to an adorable little town near Mequon, WI and ran into a cafe when got caught in the rain (which has happened 3 times already in the past week). Seriously, the weather in New York has been so spazztic. Its sunny in the morning and storming at night and then sunny again.

4. Metropolitan Museum of Art - Alexander McQueen Exhibit & Contemporary Art Section

Mcqueen and sitting on the Met steps. What else can you ask for on a Saturday?
As promised, here are some shots of all of the "cultural" activities we have been up to :) The first time we went to the Metropolitan, the line for the Alexander McQueen exhibit was completely overwhelming and we decided to skip the exhibit (poor choice).  Regretting it the moment we got back home, I decided I needed to get back ASAP. Sooo my roommates and I went back on Saturday (when the line was even longer) but we were on a mission. The museum didn't let us take any pictures, but I don't think pictures would have done justice to the exhibit. It was one of the most stunning things I had ever experienced. Now I understand what all of the hype around that guy is. There's also some pictures of the exhibit on the museum website which are lot better than anything I would have taken haha.

5. Cirque de Soleil - Zarkana
I'm surprise I managed to get some decent pictures given the low lighting but some of these are not too shabby.
There are very few things in life where the actual experience lives up to the hype and expectations. Cirque de Soleil definitely falls on that list. The show was absolutely amazing. Everything from the orchestral music, the singing, the acrobats, the set design was perfect. You could feel the suspense and tension in the audience whenever one of the performers flew across the stage or was vaulted into the air.

Whew that was on jam-packed post! Birthday dinner at Hurricane Club forthcoming!

June 16, 2011


Who knew that my second most exciting discovery upon arriving to NYC would be a random, half-hidden farmer's market on the outskirts of Hell's Kitchen? Kind of weird, yes but growing up in a family that was a little fresh produce obsessed, I was really really excited to finally be able to buy real fruit and vegetables!  Up until now, the only place that I could buy groceries from was this shady "Food Emporium" where the back of the store smelled like fish that had been sitting on ice for an unsanitary amount of time. Needless to say, this was a great discovery because they were selling eggplants for $1. So naturally I bought a big fat eggplant and started cooking dinner at 3:30pm.

Ingredients: 1 large eggplant , 2 cloves of garlic, 1 tomato 
Seasonings: Salt & Pepper,  Oil, garlic powder
For the curry: 1/4 cup TJ curry sauce, 2 tbs half & half
Cook eggplants for 5 minutes with 1/4 cup of water until softened. Add garlic, tomatoes and seasonings and simmer for another 5 minutes. Add curry sauce and cream. Cook for 5 more minutes. [give or take on the cooking time]. I honestly have no idea since I don't pay attention when I am cooking.  Anyways, this big hefty dish lasted me almost three days haha.

June 14, 2011

Hellooo New York!

Ok, after a week and a half in New York  - I don't feel 100% lost anymore, its probably closer to 98% but at least that is still an improvement! I wanted to write a bunch of witty stories and insights about my adventures from the last week but its 11:30pm and I have to wake up in 6 hours so I guess I'll have to leave the stories for the weekend. Speaking of which, my roommates and I got tickets for the Cirque de Soleil show on Sunday!!! Maybe I'll turn the next post into a culture-y showcase. Anyways, enjoy the foodie pictures ;)

Dinner at Eatery with J. and L. after J. moved in. The space was really cute and the menu had an interesting Asian vibe to it [complimentary Toasted Black Sesame Chips] (??) I got a quesadilla since I was on a mini cheese crave and the other two got a salad which came with HUGE chunks of Brie cheese on crostini.  Unfortunately the quesadilla was rather underwhelming although the salad sure looked good.  Overall, I have a feeling the restaurant is experiencing a slight identity crisis since the menu's number one item is mac and cheese (at a pseduo-asain restaurant). But then again, I guess that's New York for you.

Fortunately, we did make it to the annual Big Apple BBQ Festival in Madison Square Park despite the rain and wind and coldness. The place was packed but I guess not so packed because we managed to snag some sandwiches in 15 minutes :)

Roasted Pork Shoulder 'wiches with cole slaw. Look at those people shredding the meat! Have you seen people who looked so happy at their job? The stand was called Dinosaur BBQ which apparently is a really famous joint up by Columbia and my roommate (who is from there) was rather pleased by our selection.

Naturally it wouldn't have been a proper Southern BBQ with some proper Southern desserts. The blondie was lacking in flavor (hate to admit it but I think I can make a better one teehee) but the blueberry crumble was AMAZING. I've never been the biggest fan of fruit desserts but this one was pretty darn good.
A brief visit to Soho found us stepping into Mercer Kitchen for a late lunch (at 5pm). Apparently dinner doesn't start till 5:30pm. Huh. Anyways, the place is adorable and all of the waitresses are stunning!

Of course L. got a burger (as per her usual) but nothing wrong with a good burger. Checked out Mercer's website after the dinner and there appears to be a Mercer hotel connected to the kitchen. We did see a library in the back and cafe bar right by the front.

 Pizza with salami, fennel seeds, basil and mozerella and french fries in a clay pot.

Went to Philly last weekend to see my parents and  we went to Nan Zhou for dinner. I finally got to try the Zha Zian Mian (Noodles with Pork and Soy Sauce) but I am still in love with the Dan Dan Mian from Han Dynasty. Maybe if the zha zian came in a spicy version, it would be a more difficult decision :p
Ok, off to bed! I promise to have plenty of stories for the next post as well as pictures from Upper East Side, Metropolitan Museum and a dish with eggplants.

June 9, 2011


A rather belated post on some traveling from the past two weeks. Mostly belated because I thought I hadn't taken any decent pictures but then I looked through my phone and what do you know? Quite a few pictures to share! Besides the pictures though, I also thought it'd be kind of fun to share some stories, adventures and rants from the cities of Charleston, Chicago and Milwaukee.

Charleston, South Carolina
The land of Southern charm, Lily Pulitzer, and a lot of sweet tea. 
I still don't understand the appeal of Lily Pulitzer. The clothing kind of reminds me of those tropical patterns you always see on lawn chairs and the wall paper of a condo in Hawaii. Why would you want to match the chair you're sitting on? (The neon colored sun dresses are kind of fun though) There were a bunch of other clothing-related things I supposedly learned but they have all escaped me.  Oh well, at least I do remember the food :)

Poe's Tavern, located in a quiet neighborhood on Sullivan's Island, Poe's is an ode to the famed poet as well as the island which inspired his short story, "The Gold Bug".  All of the items on the menu are named after his various stories and poems and the bathroom walls are laminated with pages of his works. We went for a lunch on a Tuesday (maybe it was Wednesday or Thursday...) and the place was completely packed!

Snapshots: Kaminsky's Desert, the famed Poe's Tavern, Sweet Tea, looking like a "Southern Belle", burgers, banana splits & the water front.
From the swanky Harbor Club to the touristy market place full of vendors selling trinkets and souvenirs,I got the full experience of downtown Charleston. The most exciting part of the day though was probably when we stopped by Kaminsky's, a famous dessert cafe, and my friend ordered a coffee drink where the caffeine and sugar content was probably illegal. Redbull should find the recipe of this drink and start selling it by the liter. College students (me included) would have quite a field day.

Scenes from Kaminsky's. Iced coffee, Chocolate mousse and a rasberry drink with about 5 shots of espressso.

Jestine's Kitchen
Featured on the Food Network, 10 Best Restaurants of South Carolina, Post & Courier and every other local and national food website/newspaper in existence (oh and Oprah), this is apparently the place to go for Southern cooking. Probably should have tried something a little more adventurous then a grilled cheese.

Southern classics: Mac and cheese, green beans, fried chicken, grilled chicken and grilled cheese.

Anyways, after a week of nonstop Southern cooking, I realized my body was getting kind of angry with me so I decided to eat some vegetables...and then got yelled at for wanting broccoli. Oops, sorry! I'll know better next time to detox after I go home :o.

I absolutely LOVE Chicago. Yes it was freezing, rainy and windy for most of the time we were there but it was still quite an adventure. The first time I was in the city of Chicago, I was 15 and there for debate nationals. There was no one else  I knew except for my debate coach so I spent most of my time wandering and exploring. I even attempted to walk to the Navy Pier from our hotel which turned out to be  really really far. Much farther than the map led me to believe. I did this in my newly purchased $2.50 Old Navy flip flops. Yea those shoes lasted me a grand total of 24 hours. 

Little Italy
Not so much a section of the city as a random collection of streets on the periphery of  Chi-town. You know you have arrived when the street signs turn into red, white and green (and there are Italian flags waving everywhere).

It was quite a bit of a hike to get to Little Italy but the food was definitely worth it. A brief lunch turned into a 3 hour affair including a bottle of wine, various courses and a lot of chatting. By the time we were finished it was 4:00pm. By the time we got back to the hostel, it was 5:00pm. By the time we met up with our other friends, it was 5:30pm and time for dinner.No dad, I did not eat like this this everyday :p

[Fried Ravioli] Perfect little pieces of heaven.
[Roast Beef Sandwich, left] [Sword fish & Risotto, upper right] [Scallops & something under the scallops :p, lower right]

The last time I was in Chicago Chinatown, I was twelve (maybe 13 or 14....one of those nebulous tween years) and the Chinatown was tiny comprised of just a smatterings of restaurants with very ghetto looking tables. The place has had a complete makeover (sort of like those house rendtions on ABC) with a massive collection of authentic Asian cuisine and the typical hair salons.

[Mongolian Lamb, upper left] [Sour Cabbage and Fish Soup, upper right] [Baby Sprouts, lower left] [Chives Dumplings, lower right]
The cuisine literally reminded me of all of numerous times we ate out with the family while in China. I was telling my mom about our eating adventures and I could tell the next destination in her mind is now Chicago. Haha, I should totally work as a restaurant promoter...if those things exist. I guess, they're called food critics. Oh well. That can be my backup plan.

June 7, 2011

From one city to another

My promise to go back to Garces Trading Co was finally fulfilled on Friday night when I went for a farewell dinner with my parents. The place was obviously packed by 7pm but we were lucky enough to snag a portion of the community table right away. Here's the last Garces post on their desserts.

[Chef's Selection of Cheeses] No I don't remember the names of the cheeses but they were really yummy. There was a chilli cranberry condiment with one of them and I do vaguely recall a goat's milk blue cheese.

[Margherita Flatbread Pizza]
[Lamb Merguez Flatbread Pizza] Chickpea garlic puree, piquillo peppers, & marinated feta. DELICIOUS DELICIOUS LAMB. OMG.

[Lyonnaise Duck Salad] Duck Confit, poached egg & bacon lardons. Probably one of the best salads I have ever had since it wasn't really a salad :p
Speaking of which, it is beer week in Philadelphia and Garces is hosting a $75 dinner with Flying Fish Brewing Co. Man did I pick the wrong weekend to leave town. Oh well, there is always next year.

So I'm all moved into my apartment in NYC! Here are some snapshots of brunch from Sunday morning at Cafe Cielo. I don't start work for another week so I've spent the last two days literally walking the stretch of Manhattan from the Upper East Side all the way down to Chinatown and back. Unfortunately, the internet in our apartment is severely lacking but hopefully, I will have all the details tomorrow when I find better internet connection!

[Complimentary Mimosa]
[French Toast, Bacon and Eggs]

[Eggs Florentine]
[Scrambled Eggs, Potato, Sausage & Toast]
And a shot of my lovely new roommates :)

I can't wait to see what this summer has in store (especially food-wise)!

June 5, 2011

Baking Reunion

Every time that I am home, I almost always meet up with one of my really good high school friend and we do nothing but bake and bake and bake some more. Check out the past two baking bonazas here and here. This time, we figured it was time to branch out into something away from the usual cookies and truffles. Of course, I settled on cupcakes which really aren't much of a deviation.  Anyways, with all the hoo-ray around cupcakes for the past year and red velvet being a constant favorite, I figured I should give the Southern classic a spin. Here's a great article on the cupcakes from the New York Times. [Recipe courtesy of Brown Eyed Baker]

4 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2½ tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tbsp red food coloring
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
1½ tsp distilled white vinegar [of course I was too lazy to look for white vinegar so I just used Asian vinegar]

I love gathering all of the ingredients from the pantry before every baking expedition.
Creaming egg, sugar and butter
Adding Ghiardelli Cocoa.
Adding a lot of red food dye.
Mixing in the dry ingredients.
So much redness.
Baked at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
Cream Cheese Icing. I hate hate hate super sweet icing so we cut the powdered sugar content in half which made the icing kind of runny. They looked cute but not cute enough...
Chocolate was the perfect solution.
Before the drizzled chocolate, too impatient  and hungry
My overall opinion is that I am still not the biggest fan of cupcakes since it seems to be the icing that just makes it taste really good. Then again, maybe its just because I'm not very good at making them :p

Banana Bread
One baked good I can make without fail though is banana which even my mom likes even though she hated desserts when we first came to America. Now she eats all of my baked goods. lol. Thanks for the support mom :o

2 mashed bananas, 1/2 cup of oil & 1 egg
1.5 cups of white sugar, 1.75 cup of white flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg and 1 tsp of all spice.
Makes two smallish loaves.
Mmmm golden brown crust.
Used the left over cream cheese frosting and dusted with some powdered sugar.

SO, I am presently in New York and although I've only been here for 1 day, I am totally and completely in love. I did not anticipate however, that NYC would seem this overwhelming! Fortunately, I have a whole week to get acclimated before starting work. The internet in our apartment has been absolutely terrible so I haven't had to post all of the things I have been meaning to. I will probably just start making the posts really long since I can only blog when I run to a nearby cafe. Next post will feature a bon voyage dinner and the first brunch in the city!