Monday, September 6, 2010

Australia & New Zealand Trip

Big trip #2 for us this year was to Australia and New Zealand! We went for a little short of 2 weeks to Sydney and Auckland. The highlights for me are depicted below for food and things we did, but mostly it was great to see some friends I hadn't seen in a while!

Sydney highlights in no particular order:
Manly Beach- Fish & Chips, Harr's Cafe meat pie with mashed potatoes and peas, bacon roll from the farmer's market, and pub grub from the Shakespeare pub...
I also tried Vegemite at Elissa's place but that was a lowlight haha but glad I tried it!

Now for highlights of activities:
Featherdale Wildlife Park where we were among the kangaroos, koalas, emus, and all sorts of other animals... Bondi Beach with Elissa and Luke (our wonderful hosts)... Blue Mountains to be out in nature... and we found Nesbitt Street in Sydney!

Now on to Auckland and the food and activity highlights (which are significantly shorter due to less days): We actually loved the kebabs they had so had that twice... went over to the seaport town of Devonport where we hiked up to the top of a volcanic cone to Fort/Mt Victoria to overlook the bay (it was quite rainy whilewe were there)... we went on a ferry to the volcanic island of Rangitoto... and we had dinner our last night at the top of the Sky Tower- great trip!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Replicating the German Apple Pancake from The Original Pancake House

It's the weekend which means I have time to experiment with food! This week, I'm determined to truly hold to my previous goal of cleaning out our fridge and/or freezer before going to go buy more things at the store. Currently in our fridge we have... eggs! My dilemma is trying to be healthy (especially after the coconut water cleanse) and it seems the most eggs are used with desserts or for main dishes, I would need to go get more ingredients from the store.

All that said, I was inspired to make pancakes, but not just any pancake... German Apple Pancakes like at the Original Pancake House in San Diego! I found a recipe online that tried to replicate the apple pancake from OPH, so I said, we have apples, we have eggs, we have buttermilk that I had frozen, let's give it a try! I was a bit hesitant since it was buttermilk when the recipe called for half cream and half whole milk and I also didn't know how the defrosted butermilk would turn out, but I figured it is worth a shot. The apples smelled fantastic as they were sauteing in the pan... I could have just eaten that but I was patient :)

I then let it cool for about an hour like the recipe said (I'm not sure what exactly that does for the pancake, but I took my husband's advice to "just follow the recipe" since it was the first time. When I was was ready, I prepared the batter, which actually seemed to be very little compared to the pan. I was hoping that it would puff up, but I wasn't sure so I added some baking powder (outside the recipe I know) hoping it would help and into the oven it went... and out it came wonderfully! It looked beautiful when flipped onto the plate but I will admit that I was a little sad that the batter was still on the thin side and it wasn't the thick pancake I was hoping to see.

When we tasted it though, it was delicious! I think next time I will decrease the amount of sugar and butter for the apples, since it was a bit overly sweet for me (not for Jeremy of course). I would also double the batter for the amount of pancakes, but other than that, I loved it and would definitely make it again! Gosh I love food :)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sen Dai Sushi and Yogurtland, Milpitas

Tonight Jeremy and I had an impromptu Friday night date night... okay maybe it was more like I was craving sushi and my husband loves me. Either way, we decided to try a new place that was rated well on Yelp- Sen Dai Sushi in Milpitas. It is a tiny place so we waited about 25 minutes and were seated at the sushi bar. We had looked at the menu while we were waiting so we knew what we were getting but of course I oogled all the food that was created and passed out... I always have food envy... it's so bad sometimes!

We ended up getting the nigiri special- 9 pieces of the chef's choosing. I asked for no ebi and no tobiko which appeared on the picture. I ended up getting salmon, smoked salmon, hamachi, maguro, tai, hirame, shiro maguro, ika, and disappointingly kanikama aka imitaion crab. I'm guessing that they add a 9th item that is cheap like tobiko or kanikama or egg or something but it was nonetheless a bit disappointing. For the nigiris the fish was fresh and there were some large pieces, but they weren't the most flavorful. I also thought it was interesting for a place to serve smoked salmon as a nigiri. I usually end up loving salmon, but this time the hamachi was my favorite of the nigiris.

For rolls, Jeremy humored me and got the Las Vegas roll (inside is tuna, hamachi, salmon, and avocado) as well as Spider roll (soft shell crab with avocado and a few other items) per my request. He also added the Milpitas roll which I think had spicy crab, smoked salmon, and avocado all topped with some tempura crisps. His favorite was the Las Vegas roll, and I think the spider roll would have been better if the soft shell crab weren't fried for so long. Jeremy thought it was fine but I thought it was a bit on the burnt side. The other issue we had was that each roll was way too big- about 3 bites worth. Jeremy said "I have a big mouth but those were too big even for me" haha. We both think they should make them thinner and longer as opposed to 4 ginormous hunks that fall apart with the first bite.

Overall, nothing too bad to say about it- the sushi was good but nothing special. I wouldn't necessarily make it my top sushi destination despite the good ratings on yelp by everyone else. I still prefer Yuki Sushi (which I need to visit again), Sushi Maru, and Satsuma Sushi over this one!

For dessert we headed over to Yogurtland which has a prime location right on Calaveras. It is fairly new and I think it is very cute inside, although we noticed that there is very little visibility from an employee perspective of what is going on in the rest of the store the way that it is structured. Regardless, the yogurt (nonfat mind you) was delicious with many different options to choose from- we got double cookies and cream, vanilla wafer cookies and cream, matcha green teta, and plain tart. Jeremy and I both picked 2 flavors- if you know both of us guess who picked which ones! I also topped my side with a few mochi balls and voila dessert for 30 cents an ounce, totaling a mere $3.44! I love the places where you can put your own choices in and just weigh the whole thing- LOVE LOVE it :) Now that place I could go back to... good thing it's not right by our place or I might become obese!

Coconut Water Cleanse

I know it sounds crazy but I survived a coconut water cleanse! I followed the same process that a coworker of mine did- a 3 day cleanse by primarily only drinking coconut water. The first day is only coconut water (about 3L a day), the second and third day is coconut water with almonds. I had 20 almonds the second day and 25 the third day in addition to coconut water.

For anybody that knows me, they know I love my food and I love eating but I was amazed at how fine I felt. I started it this week because I had wanted to do it for a while but I was finally motivated by how gross I felt after consuming way too much on our Tahoe camping trip. The time I tried to start the cleanse before I was sitting at home while my husband baked bread as a means to fix himself food and I couldn't fight the desire to eat fresh baked bread that smelled fantastic... so this time I started it during a busy time at work which helped tremendously. I didn't even really think about it too much and I didn't have to leave to go get lunch or think about what to take for lunch haha. I had a lot more energy than I thought I would and surprisingly I didn't feel deprived this time. The power of will and mind! I even made dinner for Jeremy one night and didn't have the urge to eat the food I made- amazing!

Anyhow, I felt good through it- I didn't wake up with discomfort in my stomach, didn't have the sick, full feeling from eating too mcuh, and just truly felt fine. On the flip side, I didn't feel great or like I was cleansed throughly in my body or any other dramatic changes, so was it really a big difference maker? Mmm... probably not but at least I tried it! Of course I'm putting toxins back into my body after it, but who knows? Maybe it'll be an annual thing!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

SF Jazz Festival and Foodie Tour #1

For the Fourth of July, we decided to head up to the city for some Fillmore Jazz Festival and foodie eats. There were 5 or us that went and after some time of walking up and down the streets of the festival as well as listening to some of the acts, we figured it was time to head over to Delfina Pizzeria for real dinner. My husband and I snacked on a funnel cake in the mid-afternoon, but we were plenty ready for thin crust pizza!

We started with a cured meat platter which had salami, and many other cuts of fatty and salty cured meat that were good, but not things I would eat on a regular basis. I'm actually not sure that I'd order that appetizer platter again. We also got a side of grilled fennel which was actually quite tasty, and was a nice intro as we waited for our pizza. It was a bit on the greasy side, but very flavorful.

Now for pizza we ordered the margherita, salsiccia, and the special of the day with a cured meat and a cream type sauce. I thought I was going to like the simple margherita the best, but it turns out I liked the other two even better. The salsiccia came with sausage, tomato, onion, bell peppers, and cheese. The sausage had plenty of flavor but without overpowering the other ingredients so it wasn't too much meat. The third pizza, which I can't remember the name of, was quite different and unique. It was a cream based pizza with cured meat, onions, and big chunks of cracked black pepper that gave it quite a kick that startled me at first but grew on me. This was the most unexpected pizza but I was very pleased by our choice. If I were ordering a whole pizza for myself, I wouldn't get the cream pizza, and the margherita would probably be my choice. Overall the dough was good and the toppings were good- the only thing was the burnt dough bubbles on the edges that were numerous and very burnt... We picked them off but I could do without that.

After finishing our pizza, we headed over to the Mission for some Bi-Rite Creamery Ice Cream and Tartine Bakery goodies for the next morning. At Bi-Rite, Jeremy and I shared a triple cup of 3 flavors: salted caramel, coffee toffee, and Ricanelas. Our order of favorites is Ricanelas, which is a cinnamon ice cream with Snickerdoodle pieces, salted caramel, and coffee toffee. The cinnamon was surprisingly good- thanks Quartons for the recommendations- and won hands down. The salted caramel actually didn't taste that different from regular caramel to me... I didn't really taste a saltiness to it that brought out more flavor, but maybe my pallet isn't refined enough... and usually I love coffee ice cream, but this one was a bit too coffee bean-y from me and the tiny toffee pieces didn't really bring anything special out. They were all good, but Ricanelas, which wasn't our automatic choice, was hands down the winner. By the way, Jeremy also got a chocolate and salted caramel soft serve at the window which was actually quite delicious also!

Now on to Tartine bakery where I got the morning bun, croissant, and country loaf. The morning bun was not as good as I expected- tasted pretty much like one of those twisty, flaky pie type snacks... although we only tried the outstide of it, so maybe the inner core is fantastic who know- I'll update tomorrow. The croissant was deliciuos- buttery, flaky, soft and pure goodness... the country loaf was a bit hard to tear off, but there was good flavor and chewiness. We were still pretty full so I'll update on this tomorrow too when I have some for breakfast :)

I also baked my own multi grain bread the night before so we have a lot of bread in our house! It might be freezing time!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Hand Pulled Noodles Lesson

Last night I was invited by my friend Jimmy to attend a personal cooking lesson to learn how to make Chinese hand pulled noodles. He had arranged for Chef Tomm to come teach us a lesson on how to make noodles and then make 2 dishes with the noodles we made- noodles with flavored chicken stock and stir fried noodles (spicy garlic sauce). For details, you can see the link below which is exactly what we did:

It was a lot of fun (and work) since we were pulling noodles for about 2 hours if not more. That's also why there are no pictures- we were too busy and hands dirty! I brought my kitchen aid since the dough can be made by beating it in the kitchen aid mixer for 12 minutes. It was a bit crazy how hard the mixer was working to beat this dough, but it was also amazing to see the result of a very elastic dough. I found that it was all about getting the dough to the right consistency to come out with dry noodles ready to cook and to try to get the strands even. I must say that I think my noodle pulling skills diminished throughout the night somehow or maybe the first batch of dough came out the best... who knows.

The dough was simple to make but it is also very important to measure precisely and feel for the right consistency. The dough can easily be adjusted, you just have to know what you're looking for, so hopefully I'll be motivated to play around with this some more :) The other key is that you have to cook the noodles right after you stretch them, so you have to have a pot of boiling water to cook them in. As soon as they float they're good to go! I actually enjoyed the different sized noodles- skinny somen sized noodles, and fat, doughy, udon sized noodles... variety! I definitely enjoyed my first at home, personal cooking lesson so thanks Jimmy and Chef Tomm!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Yuki Sushi after Tuesday Golf

I am playing in a ladies' league on tuesdays thanks to a few co-workers who invited me, and after one round we all planned to go to Yuki Sushi in Santa Clara. I had heard so many great things about it, that I was excited to try it! By the way, the league is super fun and the ladies are fabulous!

They started us all off with little complementary soba noodle appetizers which was a very nice touch. I then got the nigiri sushi dinner combo which included 7 nigiri and a tekka maki. I must say that their fish was fresh, delicious, and everything else there looked fantastic also. My special favorites were the hamachi, salmon, and maguro. One of the girls let me have a california roll and that was good too although I guess you can't go too wrong there :) Also to note, their edamame pods were huge, served warm with a bit of salt, and not over cooked to mush- great to keep us waiting for the rest of the food. Everything that came out of the kitchen looked fantastic and I can not wait to go back and try more!