Sunday, 28 October 2012
One of my favorite Taiwanese comfort foods is sticky rice--the one my mom makes. This is mostly to document it so I don't forget later, but also to share with anyone else missing some Taiwanese comfort food. No exact measurements here, because things were added as Iwent. Everything can be to taste. And honestly, I am not exactly sure what "style" of sticky rice this is, but it's my mother's recipe and she's from Taiwan, so there, that makes it "Taiwanese Style", maybe even "Kaohsiung Style" given the ample of use of dried seafoods. In Taiwanese, it's simply you bung--literally translated, oil rice. Sticky rice sounds more fun, though, doesn't it?
- 2 cups of sweet rice + water for cooking
- Fresh shallots
- Dried shallots, dried garlic (You can get these in small packages at your local Asian supermarket in the dried goods aisle.)
- Soy sauce, sesame oil, salt, sugar, five spice powder (If you are feeling adventurous, you can grind up the 5 spice powder yourself: star anise, cloves, Sichuan pepper, fennel seeds and Chinese cinnamon--cause you know, we always have things like that laying around in our American kitchens.)
- Pork (I used tenderloin, but you can pretty much use any cut.)
- Dried black mushrooms
- Dried squid, small dried shrimp
1. Wash your sweet rice and pop in the rice cooker with water. The rice is crucial. If overcooked, it will completely ruin the dish--the rice will become just a gummy mess. It's better to under cook and add more water if needed.
2. Soak the black mushrooms at room temperature water and let sit for a few hours or until the cap and stem of the mushroom is soft. Cut them into small strips.
3. Remove the clear cartilage that sits vertically along the head of the squid. Rinse the head and legs. Soak for 5 minutes.
4. Rinse the dried shrimp.
5. Using kitchen shears, cut the head of the squid horizontally into thin 1 1/2" strips. Don't cut them too thick otherwise they won't curl up and release delicious ocean flavors while stir frying.
6. Chop up the fresh shallots.
7. Chop the pork up into 1" strips and marinate with soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil, sugar and five spice powder. Let marinate for at least 20 minutes--1 hour max.
8. Bring the oil in your wok up to high heat. A non stick frying pan (especially if you do not have a gas stove) will work too.
9. Stir fry the fresh shallots until fragrant. Bring them to the cusp of browning.
10. Add the squid and dried shrimp. Stir fry for a few minutes until you see the squid start to curl slightly.
11. Add the mushroom and stir fry together until nice and fragrant and all ingredients are cooked. Set aside and re oil your wok on high.
12. Stir fry the pork until half cooked.
13. Add the dried garlic and dried shallots. When the pork is cooked, add back in the seafood mixture and stir fry everything together with more soy sauce.
14. When the rice is perfect, add the whole mixture directly into the rice pot and mix, mix, mix!
15. Scoop into a bowl, top with chopped cilantro and dig into some homey Taiwanese goodness.
Wednesday, 27 April 2011
Everyone's always aghast whenever they find out I've never been to New York.. I finally went for a couple days over the Easter holiday. I was lucky enough to have my loving New Yorker boyfriend show me around his hometown--what he affectionately always refers to as "The Greatest City in the World!" And yes, it's always with an exclamation mark (full album of "The Greatest City in the World", here). Hey, no complaints from this laid back California girl! We hopped around the city for 5 night and 5 days. I had to do a little of it on my own while he worked, but we managed to squeeze in a lot--it's really a city that never sleeps! Any attempts at going to bed early so we could start the day early somehow slipped from our fingers. It was always at least 2 or 3 in the morning by the time we though it would be good to call it a night. Oops!
So when I flew in Thursday night at 11pm (even with my flight being 2 hours delayed), we still got to hit two very important New York things.. Pizza and cheesecake! Even though there's a Joe's in Santa Monica, George simply loves this place and we both grabbed a few slices before heading off for drinks at the W Hotel bar in Washington Square for a drink or two. Yes, Joe's in New York really is better than the one in Santa Monica! Our rental was literally around the corner from Joe's--so that was the 1st of at least a few more trips to Joe's (at least for George anyway as I wanted to reserve stomach space for other Manhattan goodies). Already tired from my awful 4 hour layover earlier in the evening, I wanted to head back to the rental and crash, but what about cheesecake? Somehow George managed to convince me that I was still hungry and that we'd be driving uptown for cheesecake at Carnegie Deli. We shared a slice--I ooed and mmed about it's silky richness and we called it a night.
7 Carmine Street
New York, NY 10014
854 7th Avenue
New York, NY 10019
The next day I head out by myself. I was though, of course, prepared (food wise) with a list of food places to try so I ran out for bagels. I grabbed a few bagels from Murray's Bagels, had a "breakfast" with George and headed out towards SoHo for some serious shopping. It probably the clausterphobe in me, but I had a near panic attack browsing in the H&M store on Broadway. It was a dark and cloudy Friday, but judging by the number of people out that day, I'd say it was sunny and cool (perfect walking weather). After an afternoon of shopping, I met back up again with George and we made a dash uptown to a Greek Orthodox church for Good Friday. The Greeks like to do church at night I suppose. After some quiet reflection at church and lots of standing, we grab some bagel sandwiches from Pick a Bagel down the street and I had my first "black and white cookie" experience. They're wonderful, cake like cookies covered in frosting. Sweet and wonderful! We had to scarf down the food before heading to a speakeasy called milk&honey at which we were already late to meet some of George's friends. He has friends that are members. I felt special. They make prohibition era cocktails based on descriptions on what "you're feeling like." I'm not a hip, secret bar hopping kind of gal, but I loved those drinks. I forgot about pulling out my camera to shoot the beautiful drinks, but something is telling me our hosts there would not have been happy about that.
500 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10011
1475 2nd Avenue
New York, NY 10075-2292
We woke up the next morning (OK, so it was probably closer to noon at this point) and I was feeling arepas. There is this awesome Venezuelan areapas place in Santa Ana that I wanted to compare it to. So we took a several blocks long stroll to Caracas Arepas on 7th Street and First Avenue and got our grub on. We passed some pseudo ethnic eats and couldn't help taking a few shots of those things. "Gringo Mex" and "Taiwanese food cart!"
As for the arepas at Caracas, I can't say I can compare--their arepas are completely different than the ones I experienced in Santa Ana. One thing is for sure though, the fried plantain and guac and cheese appetizer absolutely rocked. Their cheese was also noticeably yummier, but I might have to go with the actual corn cakes from the Santa Ana arepa place on that one. This place was also perfect since they have a very veggie friendly menu--perfect for George on Lent.
93 1/2 E 7th St.
NY, NY 10009
We spent the rest of the day hitting up some of the tourist sights (for me, of course). We took a round trip on Staten Island Ferry to get a view of the city.
Then we walked around the Financial District and visited the Ground Zero Memorial. We reflected.. 10 years later and there's still a gaping hole and those replacement towers are probably only 10% towards being complete? Ridiculous and just plain sad..
We headed back to our rental to get ready for (more) church in the evening. We snapped a shot with the Empire State Building in the background and I spotted Otto which was on my food list for gelato. Supposedly the gelato is awesome though admittedly I had no idea it was Batali's place until I walked in and saw a picture of his face on the wall. If I had known, I might have skipped it since we already have Batali on the West Coast. Anyway, the gelato was incredibley expensive and mediocre at best. I'll stick with Bulgarini Gelato in Alta Dena, thanks.
1 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10003
In the evening, we got ready for church again (Easter this time) and headed to Fairway Market to grab the ingredients for George's famous avgolemono soup. So, I had this whole big thing planned, where I was going to find out which Fairway Market Steve Jenkins worked at and have him sign my cheese book. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my book with me. We only had a few minutes, but I got to sample a little cheese and bought a small wheel of brie for our Easter evening "meal" later after church. It was pretty amusing watching George make soup after church at 1 in the morning and his friend falling asleep while waiting for it!
We went home and conked out immediately.
We started the next day (Sunday) at noon once again. And although George felt it sacrilegious, we went to a Jewish deli (Katz) for pastrami sandwiches. I venture to say that it was the best (albiet most expensive) sandwich (of any type) that I've ever had. It was thickly cut, succulent pieces of pastrami on rye. There was nothing wrong about it, only all right. I also wanted to throw in that it seemed like anywhere there was dirt to be found in Manhattan, there were tulips and daffodils blooming and cherry blossoms floating. Simply beautiful against the background of all the concrete. George didn't seem to think very much of the flowers--I guess this is a normal thing for Springtime in Manhattan.
205 East Houston Street
New York, NY 10002
Later that afternoon, we visited more of Geroge's friends who happened to live only a few blocks from our rental. We had Easter dinner/lunch (I'm not sure--it was 4 in the afternoon) with a bunch of Greeks. It was lamb, phyllo dough desserts, lemony soup and all things Greek. After an incredible meal--it was time for the afternoon nap. We woke up and I pushed for Times Square. It was actually quite beautiful in the evening from the rain in the middle of the night. And yes, there was yet another cheesecake trip at Carnagie's. Hey, at least I got strawberry this time. I went to bed uncomfortably full (yet again).
I was pretty much at "gorging capacity" by the time Monday rolled around. I had what I thought would've been a "simple" lobster bagel from Murray's, but it kind of just over stuffed me again. We walked around on Monday afternoon and visited ABC Carpet & Home. It's a 6 story furniture store George constantly talked about while I was doing all crazy home furniture buying.. Well, I'm still doing that so it was fun to see all the overpriced, beautiful furniture I could never afford there. As a consolation prize, George brought me to Shake Shack for a concrete (custard milk shake). Yuuummmmm that was GOOD! Again on a time crunch, we met a lawyer friend of George's for beers nearby later that day.
(various locations--check out their website!)
For our last night in New York, George recommended doing the old school New York steakhouse experience. Probably the best restaurant steak I've ever had, hands down. The sides, salads and apps were all pretty solid (nothing extra ordinary, but still delicious). It was definitely all about the steak. We both had the filet--mine was on the bone and his was not, but was au poivre. The Old Homestead is located in the Meat Packing district (appropriately) and we walked around to peek at the trendy bars in that area. We didn't step in, it was a beautiful night and we took a long stroll back to the rental.
56 9th Avenue
New York, NY 10011
Tuesday was another work day for George. I did more strolling and spent the day at MOMA.. Of course not before picking up a sandwich from Murray's Cheeseshop and carrot cake from Amy's bread (both 20 steps from our rental). I wanted to visit MOMA, but didn't want to waste stomach space on (from what I was told) expensive, mediocre food in the area so of course I pack a lunch!
254 Bleecker Street
New York, NY 10014
672 Ninth Avenue
New York, NY 10036
Sigh.. And in a blink of an eye, it was off to JFK to head back home!
Saturday, 01 January 2011
Tasca has been on my radar for awhile.. So after about calls on early evening NYE to 20+ different restaurants, we were finally able to get a reservation at a restaurant that came as a recommendation from a friend and did not have a stinkin' overpriced NYE set menu.
Stale Bread with Roasted Red Bell Pepper Tapenade
Arugula Salad with Shaved Parmesan and Endive
Homemade Fettuccine with Mushrooms and Shaved Black Truffles
Puff with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Creme Caramel
Bottle of Anjou Rouge, Chateau Perray Jouannet, Loire Valley, ’05
It was a beautiful and romantic night.. I'm not sure why I left this post unpublished..
Wednesday, 27 October 2010
I took an extra long weekend in Nashville, Tennessee for 5 nights and 6 days (more like 4 days though because of all the flying). I'm not sure if it's the age, but I just can't gorge as I used to. Or maybe it's just because I'm a city slicker and the fine art of having a "meat and three" all days of the week is not something that can simply be honed over the course of a long weekend. I seemed to do quite well on only 1.5 meals a day. If I had a breakfast in the morning, nothing could go down past early evening. If I planned to have lunch somewhere, then I definitely was not going to do breakfast and a midnight run for Princes' Hot Fried Chicken was definitely on the horizon. Case in point, I only got a small sampling of eats in Nashville given the amount of time I had there though it was not for lack of trying. Anyway, on to the good (and not so good) stuff.
I flew into BNA late on a Thursday evening. George picked me up from the airport, we headed back to the hotel for some advice and were given a few options for late night dining at the concierge. Off to South Street we were. South Street has a large selection of seafood (which I find strange on menus in a completely land locked state) and BBQ. It was late and I just wanted something in my stomach--something you can't really go wrong with. South Street looks like a typical bar and grill so I'm always weary to try anything that might seem a bit too adventurous or that I could probabl find better elsewhere at a place that specialized in it. I went safe and got a smoked turkey sandwich (which they smoke themselves on site) with hush puppies on the side. Definitely not a disappointment. The somewhat spicy mayo (or whatever it was) that came with the sandwich was a great dipper for those hush puppies. The hush puppies were pretty much mashed potatoes with bits of corn and other goodies, shaped into a ball and deep fried to a golden brown. Given it was my first meal in Nashville--I was super excited about how perfectly fried the hush puppies were. The smoked turkey had a good smokiness though it didn't blow my socks off--it still fared well with that spicy dipping sauce. All in all, I was content after a beer. "This is going to be a good couple of days.." I thought to myself.South Street Restaurant 907 20th Avenue SouthNashville, TN 37212(615) 320-5555
I spent the next day navigating my way through Nashville via their very convenient MTA. I checked out of the hotel and into our vacation rental near Vanderbilt University which would be our home for the remainder of our stay. George was working on Friday so I decided to pull in some touristy museum and parks visits. I perused the rather sad Tennessee State Museum (free admission) and I ended up at another rather sad Nashville's Farmer's Market near Bi Centennial park. While there were several stands selling bright and beautiful fruits and vegetables, there were barely any shoppers. I felt a little uncomfortable just walking through with vendors eagerly looking to me to purchase whatever it was I happened to pick up and look at. At the far end of the Farmer's Market was a food court--B & C (Bacon & Caviar) was there and it was on my "to eat" list. Don't ask me why they've named themselves Bacon & Caviar--it has nothing to do with their cafeteria style down home BBQ. Even though I was already eagerly anticipating the Jack Daniel's BBQ World Championships we'd be going to tomorrow, I still opted for the pulled pork sandwich and a couple sides. I had my first sweet tea (of many) here--you really don't need soda when you have sweet tea! I had initially set my sights on this place via a chowhounder that mentioned the "unusual, but delicious sides." More than the entrees, I love Southern sides (corn bread, sweet biscuits, mac n cheese, greens, and all that good stuff). However, there was nothing usual or exciting about the sides they had on offer there. Maybe I was there on an uncreative food day--I'm not sure. I opted for deep fried okra poppers, and mac n cheese (with shells) as sides to my pulled pork sandwich. The big standout was the spicy BBQ sauce. I'm not sure what it is, but they know how to do a mean sauce here in the South. It went perfectly with the wonderfully tender and flavorful pulled pork. That's two for two so far! I decided I needed to work up my appetite for later so I walked along Broadway which was still crowded even in the middle of the day and peeked into a few bars which were already open with bands tuning their gear inside. Watching them made me tingle with excitement about going back later in the evening.
B & C 900 Rosa L Parks Blvd Nashville, TN 37208 (615) 770-0032
Later that evening after George was done working, we headed for a quick bite at South Street again. However, I only had a beer--remember the 1.5 meals a day thing? I was still full from B & C. The rest of the night was a blur. We had a few gracious hosts that took us to Broadway to the honky tonks! Live music, bright lights, cheap beer, one or two or five too many shots of tequila and best of all, no cover or LA attitude! The have a completely different way of doing nightlife in Nashville and it was good. Very good. The only way I was able to force myself up that morning was the thought of BBQ at the festival we'd be heading to. I did a lot of squirming and whining that we had passed out in someones hotel suite (instead of our vacation rental) and that I needed my BBQ fix. A shower and a 2 hour drive through the country later.. We were in Lynchburg, Tennessee. And then the "bad food" portion of our tour began..
Before planning this trip, I had already made up my mind that we absolutely had to go to the "BBQ World Championships." I had dreams of fall off the bone beef ribs and tender, flavorful pulled pork sandwiches.. Sauces of divine intervention and sides that I would declare as the "best I've ever had."
Oh god how I had fucked us.
The festival itself was huge. It's probably one of the biggest (in size) food festivals that I've been to. It pretty much covered the entire downtown area of Lynchburg (population 5,000) and the festival itself I'm sure more than tripled the population for the two days the event was going on. We made our way to the main food tents--the ones that touted their several BBQ championship wins and got into the longest line (though they were all more or less equally long). Hey, that one should be the best, right? 45 minutes later we got our food. A beef plate and a pulled pork/beef ribs plate with coleslaw and potato salad. I had two bites of each and ended up throwing the entire plate in the trash. No exaggeration here. I had not eaten all day, waited in line for 45 minutes and I threw almost all the food away. I've never been so offended. How dare they?! I don't understand how a group from Texas which touted to win 5 or 6 championships could brazenly heap that nasty, grisly, fatty, yet somehow still dry ribs and pork onto my plate and try to charge me $20 for everything. We were duped. Everyone in line was duped. Not to the mention the sides came out of plastic store bought containers. OK, so they didn't have time to make the sides from scratch, but at least buy from a place that is half way edible. The coleslaw was easily comparable to the slaw at KFC and I don't even want to go into the potato salad. It pains me just to write this, but this mockery of BBQ from the Texas Rib Rangers needs to be shown in its true light. OK, let's step away from that mess. I would've left feeling jipped had it not been for the fun ribbons fries, beautiful country road on the way back and looking forward to my first country music concert at the Grand Ole Opry House back in Nashville..
After some Trace Adkins at the Grand Ole Opry House (along with a bunch of older country singers which could've been stand ins for my grandparents), we headed for some late night eats--Princes' Hot Chicken it was! I venture to say that this is the best fried chicken I've ever had. In our short little Nashville trip alone, George ordered fried chicken from 3 different places. Two out of two little piggies agree--Princes' Hot Chicken is the best! Not only is it the best, it's also uh.. In a really shady area of town which of course, adds to the delicious flavor. Course, it might just be that the building is rundown and that the women behind the counter looked like she hadn't showered in a week--who knows.
Slept in on Sunday and went for a popular "Meat and Three" (one entree with three sides for us city slickers) at Monell's. I'm pretty sure Georges exact words after finishing every last bit of food on his plate were "Oh god. I want to vomit." Thankfully, he didn't. I ordered a lackluster pot roast, but it came with three amazing sides (roasted potatoes, mac n cheese and corn pudding). My favorite was definitely the corn pudding. George ordered the fried chicken with the mac n cheese, coleslaw and green beans. We had another "best I've ever had" moment with the coleslaw. Maybe it was the god awful slaw we had to compare it to the day before, but damn that was a crispy, delicate slaw. Coleslaw can be "delicate," apparently. I'm not sure if it's an Asian thing, but my mother has always been a big proponent of taking a walk after big meals and we needed a walk after this meal, badly. We went off to nearby Radnor Lake and took a short hike. I managed to do it in my cowboy boots, so it really was just a "short hike." Home for a quick shower and we were off to yet another country music concert; this time at The Fontanel Mansion for an outdoor evening concert. The Farm, Gretchen Wilson, some other guy I don't remember the name of and Montgomery Gentry were the main players for anyone out there who is a country music fan. These are apparently big time country guys; course all I know is that I was rockin' through the whole thing while a storm was brewing overhead. We left soaking, but with big cheesy smiles on our faces. Food that night was an afterthought. Cheap beer, hot dogs and nachos. Not important, except that I know if I had bought that at an LA Dodgers game or a movie theater in LA that would've cost me $20, but I was in Nashville so it cost $14 instead. Yay! Few extra dollars in my pocket!Monell's2826 Bransford Ave Nashville, TN 37204(615) 298-2254
I had Monday to myself again while the MotoMan crew headed off to Alabama. I had heard about the Pancake Pantry in Nashville as "the" breakfast to go so I went in around noon on Monday not expecting a wait. Apparently the wait on weekends can go up to an hour. I still had to stand in line, but it took < 10 minutes. Yay! Breakfast! Fast! I stuffed myself with a stack of three pancakes, bacon, eggs and washed it down with a cup of coffee. And yes, I will immediately compare every pancake place I eat at to The Original Pancake House. I say The Original Pancake House wins by a teeny tiny smidgen, because their pancakes are a bit fluffier and I like their coffee better. Course my meal at the Pancake Pantry was also a few dollars less than what I pay for the same thing at The Original Pancake House. This post makes me sound like a cheap ass. Huh.
The Pancake Pantry 1796 21st Ave South Nashville, TN 37212-3704 (615) 383-9333
I did a few more touristy things during the day like heading to the Belle Meade Plantation (apparently the largest slave owning plantation in Nashville during its time). I lounged about the property and pulled out the ol sketch book. I did a little wine tasting as well and went home with a bottle of dry white wine. It wasn't bad; I mostly just wanted to support the preservation of the Belle Meade Plantation.
Back near downtown again, I toured Music Row and by toured I mean I spent an hour walking around that area after I got off the bus being lost thinking I'd manage to find the street that our rental was on. I found some guys jamming on their front porch (Isn't that fucking awesome? I've never seen people in my neighborhood just randomly jamming on their front porch.) and finally made my way back with a strained ankle from tripping over the sidewalk.
So our last night in Nashville, what do we do? Crew was back late therefore options were limited to trendier late night spots (most down home cooking type places close up early). We had heard about Cabana having decent food and being open late. This place was somewhat trendy--kind of like a not so glamorous version of The Cabana Club on Melrose. I wanted to insist on more Princes' Hot Chicken but at the same time wanted to try something new. I should have stuck to my gut on Princes'! Because of the great shrimp and grits I had in DC, I wanted to do shrimp and grits again. It's the South, they know how to do grits, right? Sure.. If it's covered in salt apparently. While the shrimp was surprisingly springy and sweet, everything else about my dish was a salty mess. I had a beer to wash down the lumps of salt stuck in my throat. We ordered a few so-so appetizers--a deep fried quail over sweet potato fries (which was something new for me and kind of reminded me of fried frog legs) and crab hush puppies that was more "hush puppy" than crab. I haven't had a hush puppy I didn't like in Nashville so far and thankfully these hush puppies did not end the streak. George of course had the fried chicken again which made me kick myself even harder not pushing it earlier. It was delicious, but still, Princes' was better. Back to Broadway we went. Wow. This place is quiet on Mondays. But I suppose we should have been happy there were even bars open. We took a few touristy pictures along the main street and called it a night.
Cabana 1910 Belcourt Ave Nashville, TN 37212-3718
We woke up the next (and last) morning.. Sigh.. One more meal left. I left poor George back at the rental to do work and me and the rest of "the crew" went to Loveless Cafe 20 minutes away. Loveless Cafe is the epitome of what I would think a Southern diner should be. Great food and amazing to die for biscuits. "Best biscuits I've ever had." "Best country fried steak I've ever had." Unfortunately, no biscuit mix to take back with me--according to their little history blurb on the place mat, it's a closely guarded secret. Not to be a fried ball of cheese (which I surprisingly did not have while I was there), but it was a "great end to a great weekend." The storm began to start back up on our way back to the rental.. We hopped in the plane back back to LA and I was finally full..
Nashville, TN 37221-4012
Sunday, 25 July 2010
Friday, 02 July 2010
This past Wednesday and Thursday I spent the majority of my time in Philadelphia for work (the actual work I was doing was in Atlantic City--I just opted to stay in a more fun city like Philly). Yea, I was there for work, but was still on a mission (hey, even for work, you gotta eat, right?). Find a big, soft pretzel and drippingly delicious philly cheesesteak. Considering the limited amount of time/space in my stomach, I think I fared pretty well. Below is the rundown of a few places I tried worth noting. Oh I wanted to mention that I got a Toyota Yaris as my rental and I have to say that it is an EXCELLENT car for driving around horrible local street traffic and zipping around other bigger, slower cars. What a difference from the G8..1532 Sansom StreetPhiladelphia, PA 19102(215) 569-3988
This is actually a big pretzel chain on the East Coast, but it was within walking distance and I didn’t feel like taking the car out just to find a pretzel and. There was a soft wind blowing through trees and the day was absolutely beautiful anyways. It wasn’t sweltering and it wasn’t 100% humidity like people at work warned me about. It was sunny, there was a breeze and it was probably a comfortable 72 degrees outside. A perfect day for a walk, wouldn’t you say? It didn’t hurt that Rittenhouse Square (where I was staying) was actually a big park as well. This was a walking area anyways. It is what I imagine a “walking city” should be like. Small stores, boutique shops, food stands, little supermarkets on ever block and all within walking distance of each other—and of course, horrible traffic. Anyways, I took a stroll a couple blocks and was at the pretzel place. A definite chain look, but there were big hot pretzels waiting for me to consume on the counter. I ordered 3 (for a dollar something.. What a steal, right?) and got a spicy hot mustard sauce for dipping. In hindsight, I should’ve also gotten a bottle of water. Giant salt crystals on three really addictive, soft, wonderful pretzels really calls for a gallon of water to rehydrate after consumption. Oh, did I also mention that I was incredibly gut wrentchingly difficult to walk around there without the desire to grab a hot sandwich of some sort at one of those sandwich stands which were popping up around almost every corner? I resisted, though. I had already settled on taking the Yaris to George’s Sandwich Shop in The Italian Market for a “local” philly cheesesteak.
Caffee Casta Diva227 South 20th StreetPhiladelphia, PA 19103(215) 496-9677
I’m rarely, if ever, craving Italian food, but maybe it was all the “natives” in New Jersey I had to listen to while I was there that spurred the craving. By the time 7:00pm rolled around I was about ready to call it a day and pass out in bed. I had to take the red eye into Philly then drive to Atlantic City right after, OK?! Anyways, I didn’t want to waste a meal, but again, didn’t want to drive either. I found a small Italian restaurant behind the hotel and put in a take out order. They were having a “recession deal”; a three course meal for $30. Not bad, I thought. I ordered the caprese salad, pork Milanese and canoli dessert. What an incredible find! This place reminded me of Canele in Glendale. It was refreshing! The food was solid and unpretentious. Not that it’s rocket science to prepare a caprese salad, but the mozzarella was fresh, the basil was fresh, everything was fresh! I was surprised by my pork Milanese—it was perfectly fried and the light cherry tomato and wild greens salad on top was a perfect accompaniment to the dish. I never had such a good meal come out of a take out box.
The Dutch Eating Place (in the Reading Terminal Market)
1200 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Refusing to spend $20 on mediocre hotel breakfast, I endeavored to find a good breakfast eatery during my stay in Philly. Staying in a somewhat “fancy” part of Philly (Rittenhouse Square), I doubted I could find anything super great without paying an arm and a leg so I pulled out the laptop, did a little research and ended up at The Dutch Eating Place in the Reading Terminal Market. I’ve never had Dutch food and I’m not sure exactly what is “Dutch” about blueberry pancakes, but I ordered it anyways. I also ordered a scrapple and glass of OJ. Does anyone know what a scrapple is? I sure as hell didn’t and even after a not so flattering description of what it was, I still ordered it. “Pork product mixed with cornmeal and then deep fried.” It was almost as appetizing as it sounds. I’m not sure why the “pork product” description didn’t tip me off. It’s not quite pork, but pork product. Ew. It arrived in front of me in the form of a sandwich on top of some scrambled eggs over wheat toast. A scrapple is basically, as the waitress said, “pork product” that has been pureed with cornmeal, shaped into a rectangle and then deep fried. Hey, just like chicken mcnuggets, before McDonalds went all white meat. In hindsight, I should've just ordered an apple dumpling and called it a day. The food was great for the price. While I still prefer pancakes from the Original Pancake House, the giant, sweet, juicy blueberries in my short stack of pancakes for $3.75 cannot be beat. A short stack of blueberry pancakes from the Original Pancake House is probably something like $9.00/plate. I'd recommend this place to anyone who likes walking through outdoor markets. I'm a big "farmer's market" girl so after that huge meal, I was glad to take a walk through this awesome open air (albeit a bit touristy) indoor market composed of cheese counters, fish counters, stand alone bakeries and organic market stands. It's a place I could see myself going to a lot to pick up wine, cheese and a good cured "pork product!" Interestingly, I ended up at another open air market later for lunch.
George’s Sandwich Shop (in the Italian Market)
900 South 9th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Yea, yea, everyone says Pat's or Geno's for a philly cheesesteak, but I like to opt for something a little more off the beaten track. Maybe I'll try Pat's if I end up in Philly again. My last stop (we'll ignore the BK I was reduced to at the LAS airport where I transferred) was for the final, and most important food thing--the philly cheesesteak. George's Sandwich Shop is located somewhere I wouldn't want to be at night. I had to squeeze in the trip to the market before catching my afternoon flight at PHL. I only had enough time to walk in, grab my sandwich, and leave. The market reminds me of the outdoor markets in Taiwan. You'll have a street lined with stores that bring all their goods out to the street and other small street vendors lined up and down the street as well. Everything is covered in a weird dust/oil sheen and it's dirty.. It's strangely comforting. I'd say it was a good contrast to the "fancy" Reading Terminal Market I was at just a few hours before. I was probably more intrigued by the contrasting open air markets I was at in the same day than the sandwich itself. Although I went into George's Sandwich Shop with absolutely no desire to eat a philly cheesesteak, I still could not resist popping it open in the car, inhaling deeply and taking a huge bite. I'm not sure if it was all the previous eating I had been doing all the day before (trying to throw in walks and drives so I could make myself hungry enough to eat again), but by the time my flight rolled around to return to California, I had no philly cheesesteak desire at all. I simply went so people wouldn't be asking me why the hell I didn't get a philly cheesesteak while I was in Philly. Thank god I have pestering friends. That was a damn fine cheesesteak. Course, I'm from California and I'm not cheesesteak connoisseur, but I could already tell by the made to order meat and the juices from all the previous cheesesteaks seared onto the cooking plate that it was going to be "drippingly delicious."
Friday, 11 June 2010
Edit: Figured I should at least talk put a blurb and let you guys know what MotoMan is all about.. Taken from their current home at CraveOnline:"MotoMan is our new web series that covers new cars, classic cars and all things car lifestyle. In a nutshell, MotoMan drives cars you can’t. If you are a fan of classic cars, state-of-the-art models, and concept vehicles, then this is your show as it covers all bases of the automotive world, including test drives, reviews, and news items."
Edit: I'll bump this post up to the top whenever a new episode is live.. Current episode list below!Episode 1: What is Luxury?
Episode 2: What do Zs and Sharks Have in Common?
Episode 3: Looking into the Crystal Ball of Hydrogen Vehicles
Episode 4: Camaro Past and Present
Episode 5: The House that Henry Built
Episode 6: David vs Goliath
Episode 7: Extremes
Episode 8: Ladies and Gentlemen, Introducing Pollie PorscheEpisode 10: The Muscle Car Future of Ralph Gilles Part TwoEpisode 11: The Essence of Concept Cars
Friday, 16 April 2010
Over the last two months or so, I've been to DC for work in short spurts (1-4 days at a time). In fact, I'm writing from my hotel in Arlington right now! Before each trip, even with < 24 hours notice, I've been able to peruse the DC area chow boards to educate myself on the inner workings of the foodie world here. On each trip, I've been able to buy myself some time to escape from Arlington (where I've been based) and head into DC for a quick bite to eat and quick sights to see. DC is just plain beautiful. I'm saying that even with having been able to only explore bits and pieces here and there with each trip. Well, I had to do some work, right?
On my first trip here (first trip to the east coast in my life, even), I happen to be here during their biggest snowstorm in, let's just say, a long time since I don't remember if it was years or decades. In any case, it was snow for a town that is not equipped for snow. What they call a "snowstorm" is probably called a "moderate dusting" in Lake Tahoe. The snow is as heavy as how unequipped a city is for it's presence. Needless to say, everything was closed for the better part of the week that I was here which was predominantly spent sitting around waiting for TSA to open up its doors to us so we could do our work--well, that, and the canceled/delayed flights. I believe a 3 day work trip ended up being a 5 day confinement an empty, snowy, downtown sans the escapist sightseeing that was squeezed in. During the the 1st two night of snowfall, in a hotel room with not even a microwave or a fridge and the only within walking distance source of "food" being Rite Aid, I had to scavenger through and ended back at the hotel with bottled water and "instant" food like instant noodles and pre-made tuna salad with crackers. It wasn't pretty--but tough times call for tough measures. To prevent testing the theory gravity out my 12th floor window, I ventured outside to see the desolate snowy ghost town that had become Crystal City.
Thankfully after the heavy snow had passed, roads started to clear up (although public transport was pretty much defunct) and I was able to convince a coworker to do some sightseeing with me. My first time in DC, of course I had to see the monuments and go to The Smithsonian. But because of the snow, The Smithsonian and pretty much our entire government in DC was "shut down" for several days. It was an interesting (and eerily beautiful) first time in DC all the same. I thought everything was simply breathtaking--all blanketed in pillowy soft snow! People were still out, probably enjoying the days off from work.. Cross country skiers and kid made igloos on the National Mall lawn abound! Idiotically, though, I decided it would be a good idea to wear cowboy boots to snow covered DC. Hey! My California cousin told me you could wear cow boy boots anywhere, even the snow! Sure, it makes sense.. If you've actually worn cowboy boots in heavy snow before which doesn't exactly happen in California.. Ever. I ended the day with what felt like a twisted ankle from almost falling and cracking my skull on every other step I took across icy parts of the street. It's OK, it was still worth it. Course, those boots are still in need of repair from the water damage.
So more importantly, part of my ankle pain was attributed to trying to find yummy eats which we were successful in. We tried out a restaurant I kept seeing all over the boards, Hank's Oyster Bar, and later that night a suggestion from my cousin, Ben's Chili Bowl--which I found out later is actually a DC institution and which I ironically ended up seeing as a cameo (Can a restaurant make a cameo? Let's say yes.) in a movie a few days before while locked up in the hotel. I watched some awful political intrigue movie--forgot what it was called, but Ben Stiller was in it, go figure. My favorite, still, out of the couple of notable eateries I've been since I've been to DC is Hank's Oyster Bar with their deliciously fresh and slurrpy oysters and perfects shrimp and grits. A close second is the J & G Steakhouse at the W Hotel which friends of Gorges' graciously took me out to while I was visiting in DC that trip. But with all this "food win", there must also be a "food fail." Major food fail occurred at Georgia Brown's in downtown. Not only did everything taste like ass, it also smelled like ass. I think their refrigerator broke down and the entire place (which is supposed to be up scale Southern cuisine) smelled like rotting fish. Thumbs down to any restaurant trying to recoup losses during closed down snow days by still trying to serve food while their restaurant smells like rot. The last two pictures are deceiving--avoid unless you want dry, tasteless fried chicken and fishy catfish--even for catfish!
In the end, we had to escape by flying out of a different airport. Thankfully for all of our "un snow smart" (yes, let's make that a word) asses, we had a fellow Michigander among us who drove us up and out of the 2nd roll of that snow storm to Richmond where we all eventually made it back in one piece to wonderful, sunny, Southern California. She is a serious trooper! Below is a little snippet of the roads she braved on the drive out.
Next time on "Escape from DC!" is a return! K, didn't make sense. Rambling. So. My next "spurt" in DC lasted the better part of one and a half days. Somehow I was still able to squeeze in a Smithsonian visit even with the no hours of sleep I got on the red eye in the non-reclining seat the night before. So I will pretty much feel completely unsatisfied with my trip (even if it just for work) if I'm not able to squeeze in some "fun time" for myself (tries hard not to get into a rant on work travel on my public blog ). I squeezed in time at the Museum of Natural History and the American Art Museum. I even got a sneak peak at the blossoms to come.. And also the blossoms I was to just to miss full bloom on, on this trip back.
Convinced that I can only find good fresh oysters on the east coast now, after a exhausting squeeze on the museums before closing time (the cheapness, even though I didn't pay for it, in myself, does this to me), I headed to The Old Ebbitt Grill in downtown--another DC institution. It was good, but still not as good as Hank's Oyster Bar though admittedly it has a little to do with ambiance. I almost immediately discounted the food at the place as soon as I stepped in and found suits all over the place. Nothing screams mediocrity more than happy hour in the business district. However, I stayed and ate at the bar. I had some amazing fish and chips there, but c'mon, fish and chips, how good can they get, really. Nice though, that I happened in during happy hour for 50% off the raw bar! Yum yum for saving money.
I conked out on my bed as soon as I got back to my hotel room that night.
While waiting at DCA for my flight the next morning, I noticed the beautiful ceiling in the terminal area of the airport. I was still on somewhat of an art kick from the day before at the American Art Museum which honestly, I liked better than *gasp* the Natural History Museum. Maybe there were just too many rugrats running around for me to enjoy the tranquility of a museum I normally go for.
Lastly and hopefully not least, because I'm really starting to like this place, is this trip. Another early day here, means another early day for me to start and continue where I left off last time. This time I was armed with my sketch book so I stopped by the Hirshhorn Museum and snapped a ton of pictures/inspiration and felt very thoroughly, well, inspired! Obviously, lots of the inspiration came from the sculpture garden. As far as "modern art" goes, I'm always partial to anything three dimensional. Just my luck though, I came in time to see brown petals flowing through the air as opposed to dainty pink cherry blossoms on all the cherry blossom trees like it was just several days earlier.
Food.. Well, today was a food flop. I had read about a fish market that "all the locals go to", but unfortunately, I'm not a local and I don't have a kitchen to go back to so I opted for the "cooked to order" stuff they had there. Oh god, lesson in mediocirty. I felt like I had landed in a tourist food trap--the worst kind of trap of all! There were a handful of tourists like me there, but most were obviously locals out for some fresh seafood--not to eat the food that was being cooked there. Go figure out of the steamed blue crab, whiting fish, greens, mac n cheese, sweet tea and strawberry shortcake I had there (George tells me I have a hallow leg), the best things were not the seafood. It might have been that it was just a warm day and I had a refreshing quencher in hand and was also enjoying a stroll through the National Mall, but that was some damn good sweet tea! Hey, I want to end on a good note! And yes, the single crab on my plate there is pathetic, but I was wary of what the "pre-steamed" crab was going to be like though it's a good thing I didn't get more since I had so much left overs I ate the rest for dinner that night.
Thursday, 24 December 2009
I'm hosting my first Christmas dinner ever here in Torrance.. (Almost) everything from scratch, of course! Tentative menu below.. Hope I can do it!
Green Salad with Papaya Dressing
Garlicky Roasted Chicken with Garlic Jus on Garlic Toast
Spicy Creamed Corn au Gratin
Mashed Potatoes with Chives
Green Beans with Shallots
Thursday, 01 October 2009
I've been so disillusioned by the plethora of non-exciting food places as of late that when I finally go to two places worth mentioning, I don't bring my camera. Oh well, I will always get a copy of the menu at least..
So last Friday, at the crafbar in Century City, between the four of us, we ordered the following:
Anson Mills Hushpuppies & Smoked Maple
Smoked Salmon Rillette & Lahvosh
Fresh Bacon, Wild Blueberry & Jalapeno Vinaigrette
Hamachi, Prosciutto & Aged Balsamic
Calamari & Pickled Tomato
Crispy Farm Egg, Salmon Roe & Cucumber
Braised Beef Short Rib Sandwich
Veal & Ricotta Meatballs
Black Garlic LInguini & Manila Clams
Buratta, Tomato & Basil Flatbread
Fiore Sardo, Truffle Honey & Almonds
Butter & Bread Pudding
After Providence and upscale bar food at craftbar (which was not at upscale bar food prices), I've decided that when I want to go "fancy", I want to go "New American." Go figure, we live in the US, so why shouldn't the New Americcan in AMERICA be the best?! We took a gander at their regular menu and it only seemed overpriced. I probably will not venture back for dinner there, but definitely bar food and drinks.
- Name: Tina
- Location: Torrance, California, United States
- Birthday: 3/7/1982
- Gender: Female
- Member Since: 10/20/2002