Monday, December 31, 2012

5 Favorite Meals of 2012

2012 is less than an hour from being over! I hope I can get this post up before it ends. I had the idea of posting some of my best meals from the year. I had fun sorting through all my food photos and selected a few of my favorites. It was hard to choose, apparently I eat out a lot!

In no particular order....

1) Osteria in Palo Alto. This is a classic Italian joint in downtown PA which is always busy. The service can be spotty. I've walked in before to inquire about wait time and met some stuffy, rude wait staff. But the food is good. Specifically the pasta is amazing. Funny story - we walked past one day and my boyfriend started reminiscing about the time we dined there together... except it was totally with his ex and not me! So it's kind of a joke now. But we finally went together this year on a random week night and had some delicious dishes.

Half eaten gnocchi - perfectly tender with tomato sauce and lots of cheese! 
Pesto linguine with shrimp - seriously some of the best pesto I've ever had. Shrimp was eh. 
 2) Steak n Shake in Dallas, TX. Any non-Californians reading this will probably shake your heads, but we don't have this here okay?! When a friend's wedding took us to Dallas, we had to stop at Steak n Shake for patty melts, cheese fries, and milkshakes. Decadent and greasy, calories well spent.
Patty Melts!
3) Sushi Sams Edomata in San Mateo. This is a well known local sushi restaurant - decor is more on the divey side but the sushi is some of the best I've had. Of course, I have never been to Japan and I'd imagine Jiro's sushi tops this by a mile, but for San Mateo this place is pretty darn good. You shouldn't come here to order Crunchy, Dragon, or those kinds of rolls. It's all about the quality of the fish, best displayed in nigiri. Highly recommend, especially the set of nigiri on the bottom right. Baby lobster. Totally delish.

Sorry for semi blurry pic!
4) Bella Istanbul in Barcelona, Spain. This was a favorite of mine from the time I studied abroad here. Cheap and delicious. I've been back twice since and each time this is an obligatory stop. I order what's called the "Durum Kebab" and it's differentiated from its sister "Donor Kebab" by the type of wrap. This is more burrito style. But it's not tortilla, it's this warm shell with the perfect balance of soft and crunchy, encased around mouthwatering chicken, pickled cabbage, tomatoes, and other goodness. And then you get two sauces - a hot sauce and a blend of something like ketchup, yogurt, and relish. Trust me, it's da bomb!

Started with a hummus appetizer
How the kebab comes out
Couple bites in, barely pausing to snap a photo
Drizzled with sauce. NOMS.
5) Ahi tuna burgers from Gotts Roadside in the Ferry Building in San Francisco. I've said before the Ferry Building is one of my favorite places in SF and when we visit, we almost always eat at Gotts. We really should branch out a little because there are so many good places inside. But their ahi tuna burger is really something special.

2 burgers with a side of chili cheese fries
Get a load of that tuna! Paired with a toasted brioche bun and a delightful sauce.
Well, I'm done with 20 minutes to spare! Time to get this posted and break out the bubbly! Or in our case, steaming mugs of tea. Poor bf has a cold, but he soldiered up and got Pizza Antica with me for dinner, then we stopped at a friend's party in Sunnyvale. We cut out of there at 10pm and came home, when I resolved to get this last post up. So, Happy New Year! Wishing everyone good food, love, and happiness in 2013. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Happiness Lately - 12/23/12

Happy holidays dear readers! Today was a good day and I want to share it with you. It was spontaneous, relaxing, and just what I needed. Well, most of it was relaxing. Driving around in the rainstorm was slightly hectic, but hey, all's well that ends well eh?

The bf, my good friend, and I had dim sum at Hong Kong Lounge in Outer Richmond. There was barely a wait which was good because we were hungry! So hungry that I basically forgot to snap pics until there was only one piece left of everything. Better late than never right?

Salty porridge with Chinese donut topping

Shrimp noodle

Custard buns

Curry dumplings

Shrimp and pork shumai
My favorite dish was the xiao long bao which was one of the first things to come out so it was devoured before the thought of capturing it on film entered my one track mind. So you'll have to trust me, it was good!

Definitely recommend this place if you're in the mood for dim sum. Usually there is a wait though, so be forewarned.

Then we dropped my friend off and meandered over to the Ferry Building. This is one of my favorite spots in the city. It's a beautiful space next to the water and the vendors there are interesting enough so it never really gets old. Plus there's a Sur La Table location there, which is the equivalent of crack cocaine to me. 

Macaroons at Miette
Interesting shaped heads of broccoli
Apples
Blue Bottle coffee
All the hustle and bustle 
Acme bread
Carb heaven!
Display of cheese at Cowgirl Creamery
No thanks!
I haven't seen kombucha vinegar before!
Fresh oysters
Overcast day 
This was amazing. The cheese broiled until it was a fondue consistency, and then....
He did THIS. It looked and smelled divine. Absolutely divine.
Afterwards we braved Trader Joes and Safeway cuz I'm cooking Christmas Day lunch. On the menu is broccoli soup, the Pioneer Woman's Peach Whiskey BBQ chicken, and mashed potatoes. Hope it all tastes good!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Long Productive Day

10:30am: Breaking Dawn Part II.  If you haven't figured this out yet, go to see the first morning showing of new releases to skip the line. We got primo seats. The ending was awesome, and that's coming from my boyfriend which is saying something.

1pm: Target

2pm: Bed Bath & Beyond

3pm: Drive down to Scotts Valley for a friend's birthday BBQ

6:30pm: Drive back up to San Francisco to meet up with a friend in town. Dinner, drinks, lots of walking.

12 midnight: Meet another friend celebrating after finishing the CFP exam.

2am: Stop at In N Out for obligatory drunken munchies

2:30am: Finally at home and in bed. Blogging about what an eventful day I had. Exhausto!


Monday, November 12, 2012

Sephora VIB Haul

The truth is, the longer I go without blogging, the more anxious I get about what I'm going to write about. I have plenty of adventures to share... still haven't posted about Spain and since then we've been to Dallas and Lake Tahoe. But that involves downloading pictures from my DSLR (yes I still haven't downloaded my Spain pictures - get off my back already!) and editing to make them extra pretty. Phew that sounds exhausting. Lets start with baby steps and use some recent iPhone pics. Today I ran to Sephora after work to use my VIB discount before it expires. The reason for the mad dash to the store was due to the fact that Sephora.com is currently sold out of everything. EVERYTHING.

The VIB discount is the work of an evil genius. If you throw enough money at Sephora, you're designated as a "Very Important Beauty Insider". Sephora has a sale for VIBs once a year where you get 20% off your entire purchase. This leads the average naive consumer (aka me) to eagerly pounce on items I don't really need nor should spend my hard earned money on because COME ON PEOPLE it's 20% off. IT IS YOUR MORAL OBLIGATION.

So without further delay, this is what I picked up today!

From the right: Too Faced lipstick in Cinnamon Kiss, Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb spritzer, Eyebrow comb, Anastasia brow pencil,  NARS blush in Madly, and Eyeko set of mascara and eyeliner.



Normally I stick to nude lipstick, if I wear lipstick, but this year for fall I'm feeling more berry colors. This one by Too Faced is purrrrrty. 

Since I like to travel and am usually on-the-go in everyday life, I appreciate travel friendly perfume that meets TSA guidelines and fits in my purse. Not to mention it's perfect if you want to try out a perfume without committing to buying the whole bottle. Flowerbomb came out a while ago, but I'm just getting around to trying it. I have high hopes.


The lovely ladies from Pixiwoo often use this Anastasia pencil to fill in their eyebrows. It's been on my list for a while and I had the perfect excuse to get it today!

Blogging about makeup is so much more fun than studying the time value of money!

NARS makes really nice blushers - Zara from Mouldy Fruit posted about Madly some time ago and I picked it up based on her recommendation. No joke, this is my favorite blush. It's gorgeous. Here's a shot of my almost used-up one, hence the need for a backup. The lighting isn't great so you can't pick out the shimmer. But it's not at all overly shimmery. Madly beats the cult favorite NARS Orgasm by a mile in my book.



Lastly, I've heard of the British brand Eyeko before, but mostly in reference to BB creams. I happened to see their eyeliner displayed today and stopped for a look-see. Holy moly this is a precise pen. And my test line did not smear at all. Interest piqued, I looked to see if they had any left to buy and lo and behold, they were out! This immediately brought out the OCD in me and I HAD TO HAVE IT!! Unfortunately they didn't have any in the back although the salesgirl was very accommodating and said the next time they got shipment in, I could still purchase it with the VIB discount. Dejected, I went to the check-out line and I swear this is destiny because I saw this Eyeko eyeliner and mascara set in one of the bins lining the check-out aisle (another evil creation). 

Victory is mine!

Seriously, get a look at this pen tip! Can't wait to try it.



There you have it folks. Back to studying. Wah.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Update

Well, mostly an update but also a grievous rant against allergies which are seriously plaguing me today. But first, to lay the groundwork...

In addition to getting a new job, taking an amazing vacation to Spain, add moving to the list. Moving in with my boyfriend, to be precise. Yep folks, now we are happily living in sin.

Once we decided to take the plunge, we frantically searched Craigslist and saw endless openings... by the way the rental market is just horrid. Well we found a place - hardwood floors, two bathrooms, a lovely kitchen (yay!), and in a really convenient location.

Now we are in the midst of building Ikea furniture, shopping for more pieces, and organizing in general. Can you believe we had to rebuild our TV unit 4 times? Lucky it did not fall apart on us! Comcast came yesterday to set up cable and internet - but they only brought a modem! The installer guy told us if we stopped by a Comcast store they would give us a wireless router for free. Not able to pass up free stuff, I dutifully drove to the store, waited in line for 1 hour, only to find out there was not a single router left in the entire store. FAIL to whoever is responsible for that store's inventory. So I bit the bullet and bought a router, no biggie. Had some issues setting it up but after a 30 minute phone call to Netgear technical support, we officially have internet. I have to admit, it was kind of fun living without technology for a week. Very rustic.

So to tie this development in with my current sniffly situation, the bf makes coffee every morning. Fragrant, delectable smelling Hawaiian Hazelnut coffee. Even though coffee notoriously exacerbates my allergies, I caved by the second day. And now I am paying for it. (The sangria last night didn't help either). What can I say, coffee and alcohol are my triggers. We were supposed to go to a Giants game today, instead I am watching Julie and Julia and paying some attention to my beleaguered blog.

Does anyone else have nightmare-ish moving stories?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Happiness lately 7-11-12

Couple announcements...

a) New job!

b) Along with that comes a little time off in between

c) Which means a little globetrotting is in order

d) And what better place to go than Barcelona!!! Back to the city that stole my heart (cheesy I know). A week in Barcelona and a week in Formentera.




Change is scary and wonderful at the same time.


Monday, June 4, 2012

Sunday Funday in SF

Clockwise from left: Dine About Town at Waterfront - clam chowder and halibut tacos. Union Street Festival - BBQ oysters and pupusa!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Happiness lately 5-10-12

Turkey meatballs, the California Benedict at Harbor Cafe in Santa Cruz, homemade pesto salmon wrapped in puff pastry, and seafood linguine at Renzo in Palo Alto

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Happiness lately 5-1-12



Watching the Giants play at AT&T Park on a beautiful sunny day
The first of many games this summer!



The Jim Rome sandwich from Ike's Place
I think the Menage a Trois is still the clear winner
If you go, try it
Just be prepared to wait!



Pancetta wrapped chicken at Spasso 
I peeled away most of the pancetta but it was admittedly mighty tasty
Really loving the restaurants lately in San Carlos

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Spicy peanut butter noodles



Peanut butter noodles was a dish my mom used to make for me as a child all the time. It was one of my favorite meals on a hot day with cool, creamy noodles and crisp vegetables. I love the flavor pairing of the semi sweet peanut butter with the tangy soy sauce and rice wine vinegar. Tastebud explosion.

I've been making peanut butter noodles forever, but this recipe on Pinterest inspired me to photograph and write out my version. 

Makes 2-3 servings

1/2 bag of cooked noodles - here I used soba noodles but angel hair or spaghetti works too
Peanut sauce - recipe below
Assorted chopped veggies, such as cabbage, shredded carrots, cucumbers, or broccoli 
Optional: Sriracha sauce, chopped peanuts

Sauce:

1/2 cup peanut butter
Soy sauce
Rice wine vinegar
Sesame oil

Measure out the peanut butter into a bowl. Add equal parts of soy sauce and rice wine vinegar, whisking until the peanut butter smooths into a sauce. Personally I like thicker sauce, but the beauty of this is it's totally customizable. If you want, you can add some warm water or chicken broth to soften the flavor. Add a few drops of sesame oil - a little goes a long way. 

You have options with the veggies too. Sometimes I just use raw vegetables but if you're not feeling that just give them a quick saute. 

Put the noodles and veggies in a serving bowl and add the peanut butter sauce. Toss until well combined. Top with sriracha and chopped peanuts, if using. 


Hope you give this a try!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ratatouille

Sorry for the uber pixelated photo, taken on my phone


Ratatouille is a French veggie stew. It's a perfect summer dish that can be served with a crusty loaf of bread, over pasta, rice, or stirred into a quiche or frittata. During my semester abroad in college, my Spanish se├▒ora made this for dinner sometimes - that was always a good dinner. Of course there were other times she was rushed, so I'd get soggy french fries and a fried egg. Those were the nights I'd finish dinner, put on a jacket, and walk to the neighborhood falafel shop for REAL meal. Man, I missed cooking for myself in those days....


Anyways on to the recipe!


Makes four robust or six regular servings


2 onions, thickly sliced
1 medium to large eggplant, cut into cubes
2 yellow, red, or orange bell peppers, sliced
2 squash, diced
3 tomatoes, diced
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp dried thyme
Salt to taste
Optional: pinch of saffron


Heat up a deep saute pan or Dutch oven with the olive oil. Add onions and cook for 20 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently. You want the onions to be really carmelized to form the base. Once the onions are nice and golden, add the eggplant. Cook 10 minutes, again stirring frequently to prevent sticking. 


Add the bell peppers. Lower heat to low and cook 10 minutes. Once the bell peppers are soft, add the squash, cook 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, thyme, salt and saffron (if using) to taste. 



Cook at least another 10 minutes, until the veggies turn into a stew like substance. Dish up with your choice of accompanying side dish and sit down to enjoy a fresh, hearty, and healthy meal. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Strawberry yogurt cake


I've read a few books written by expats in Paris lately.

Bringing Up Bebe
Lunch in Paris

They both mention yogurt cake that French little girls bake - kind of a custom, using the yogurt container as a measuring cup. It seems like a traditional thing for mother and daughter to do together. I thought it was a really sweet concept.

It also sounds like a delicious cake! So when I saw a recipe for strawberry yogurt cake on Pinterest, I decided to go for it. It turned out to be a keeper.

Makes 1 cake
Adapted from this recipe


1 lemon, zested & juiced
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

2 sticks butter at room temp
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
8-10 oz plain yogurt (I used greek yogurt)
1 box strawberries - sliced

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Put your butter out to warm up.


Sift dry ingredients together: lemon zest, flour, baking soda, and salt. 


Using a mixer, cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs and lemon juice. Mix some more. Add the dry ingredients in steps. Add the yogurt. Mix some more. 

Fold in the sliced strawberries and dump the mixture into a greased baking pan. Any size you want. 


Bake for 60-70 minutes, until an inserted fork comes out clean. Take out of oven and let cool for 20 minutes. 


Transfer cake to a wire rack and let cool for another 10 minutes. At this point the original recipe called a drizzle of powdered sugar mixed with lemon juice but I thought it was sweet enough without the frosting.

Slice and enjoy!