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Back at school. Finding a place to live was a little frustrating. Moving back to where I wanted to live required more persistence than previously thought. Overall now, I am quite content with my living situation, and it just makes a whole lot more sense. The quarter has started and I am knee-deep in research and 'riting and reading-- the three Rs. Maybe when work calms down a bit, I shall find the time and energy for a real post. But in the mean time, this is apricot cake from The Royal Market and Bakery on Geary.

The apricot frosting could be described as a mix between whipped custard, cream, and frosting. A little too sweet for my taste the custard-like buttercream frosting, but it complemented well the cake that erred on the dry side. Russian cake!
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I'm still alive-- just eating my way around Europe. am in Hamburg now, essen fischbrotchen und scholadentorte! Ö sehr gut! ja ja ja!!  Ü shall update when I arrive home in about 10 days! a bientÖt!
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Lately, my time in the city has been quite enjoyable albeit GRE and Fulbright worrying; I would much rather live here than in La Jolla, because while daily pressures are greater there, the food choices and quality are also lesser. I like to make choices where marginal benefits equal marginal costs, not the latter being greater. 
After ballet class, I met up with A. at Sunrise Deli for lunch. I used to get falafels here all the time. Craving protein, I opted for a lamb shwarma this time.

Protein, I got. However, the meat was dry and close to being flavourless, and the pita could have been toasted. For what it was, I would much rather eater 2 euro doner kebabs in East Berlin that exceed in taste, quality, and ingredients infinitely. Speaking of which, Berliners are the only people I have chanced upon that are cool enough to have doner parties. (sehr gut!)

Adri. came into the city one day and we met up for lunch at Taqueria Pancho Villa because D. wanted to revisit.
I got a super shrimp taco, although there was nothing super about it. Should have stayed with the vegetarian tacos that I order out of habit. 

A few hours later, after lolling in the park in the sunshine, I met up with Z at DeLessio for some pastries and GRE-studying, because sugar and brain usage go hand-in-hand.

Their key lime meringue was sub-par relative to the rest of the delicioso DeLessio selection. The meringue was not dense enough, and noticeably missing a bit of corn starch. They key lime custard tasted very eggy, which I quite liked. 

And there came forth the cake.

Chocolate carrot cake with orange buttercream and spiced orange caramel. Smaller in real-life, but tastes larger than life. I quite recommend this delightful dessert on your next visit!

Sunday morning, could not be more well spent than...

Chasing the lightrail in the heavy mist to meet up with your good friend at La Boulange de Cole. Y. tried the vegetable croissant and the apple tart, whereas I had a financier with coffee. Though the hazelnut base was delightfully different, I prefer Patisserie Philippe's more, as it is more moist and flavourful, and comes with a healthful dose of fresh berries inside. 

Because I was too lazy to boil another pot of water for my wonton (i.e. Asian ravioli), I thought I would put them in my simmering borscht.

Beware of dramatic colour change! They came out looking like goldfish of some exotically red breed. Fun!

Speaking of red nourriture...

I found a punnet of some really red and fresh strawberries at the market by my house, and bought some to make pavlova for dessert. 

After a day of adventures in the city with I-House friends, we stopped at Thai Restaurant in the Castro for some dinner.

We ordered seafood yellow curry, pad mee kao with beef, and seafood pineapple fried rice to share amongst the three of us (lost one to Oakland along the way). Very delicious meal, especially the rice noodles (pad mee kao). 

Earlier in the day, we stopped by Mitchell's because Y. wanted to try it, to we trekked all the way out to San Jose Avenue.

I got the ube, or purple yam, which looks dangerously radioactive. 

And is capable of melting with quickness!


I much prefer the avocado flavour to this, but then again, if I did not try different things in my day-today life, I might as well live in surburbia for the rest of my life, where choice is not option! Three cheers for monotony!

While walking down Valencia today, I found a fried sesame dumpling, which is Y.'s favourite dim sum of all, which is why I found it odd sitting on a parking meter right after we had talked about it!

A few weeks prior, some of my other friends and I found three slices of toast, also on a parking meter-- offering to the metermaids?

Brunch at Boogaloos.

I opted for something light-- lemon cornmeal pancakes.

Breakfast from the other day...
 
I had these limes and a large amount of leftover cream and so I thought I would make some lime curd-- bad idea with replacing ingredients, in this case, limes with lemons. The lime gave an astringent quality to an otherwise sound recipe. A happy finding happened when I paired it with homemade strawberry jam, as the two complemented each other very well, and on a slice of toasted sourdough pugliese, one would never ever want to skip breakfast again!

addresses to come shortly!
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This summer, I have found the perfect formula for balancing good company with good eats. I cannot tell you the equation, nor will plugging in A, B, C, D, or E work as GRE books advise; I think it varies from person to person. It should come with time. 
So Thursday morning, I woke up feeling broken from the previous day's ballet class; I needed "soul food" for a speedy recovery. A tuna melt to me, is sweet potato casserole to you, or macaroni and cheese, or minestrone soup...So anyway, I met up with an old friend, across from where she works during the summer, and down the street from where I dance, how perfect- Cafe 98. My tuna melt:

Greasy and sinfully delicious, a tad bit carcinogenic, but makes for a delightful lunch, especially in the company of a good friend. And yours only $4.07 including tax. 

I spent the rest of the day going to the optometrist, only to have gotten nothing done there. I stood and stood, and waited and waited, and customers came in and out and I was put on hold about every 3 minutes (no joke). Feeling the need to regain some sanity, I headed over to Cafe Madeleine to grab some coffee and plop down with my GRE book. I don't understand whatsoever why the cafe does not have reusable, ceramic coffee cups, only paper. In our day, you would think that restaurant establishments and the like would think about being more environment-friendly.

Viennese blend (quite good) coupled with analogies fun...

And then onto real fun. The next day, Yuka and I planned for an adventure day, seeing as she will not be in the city for much longer. We took the N to the Mission, and to our dismay, all the neat stores and the delicious  destination ice creamery opened at 11 a.m. at the earliest. We went through the alley of murals for a healthy dose of "San Francisco flavour"  before heading over to Taqueria Pancho Villa for a burrito. Because burritoes are not that photogenic, I will spare you the details. After lunch (at 11 a.m.!), we walked over to Tartine where we shared a delicious banana cream tart and an almond rocher. Right before the cashier rang us up, Yuka suggested a slice of chocolate cake as well. Because such an ambitious request should not receive a 'negative', we went ahead for the chocolate cake.  Oh goodness!

If you have never had Tartine's banana cream tart, I do not believe you need consider twice before getting it. The architectural plans are as follows: flaky crust lined with chocolate, pastry cream layered with banana chunks and a not-too-cloyingly-sweet caramel, a luscious whipped cream, and topped with shaved chocolate and a sprinkle of powdered sugar. Whoever said happiness cannot be bought, is trying to keep you away from this banana cream tart. Okay, that was a very perverse way of looking at the notion of buying happiness, and I still stand as a firm believer that it cannot be bought, so please still read my foodblog.

Sinfully rich.

Yuka said the chocolate cake was not as good as anticipated. I like eating all kinds of chocolate cake straight from the fridge, because then, the ganache is solid like a truffle, and the cake tastes denser than it really is. But Tartine serves their Devil's Food Layer Cake at room temperature, because they believe all the flavours present themselves best as such, so I will play along. Good pastries and good conversation about living in International House for this past year make for good times. 

After checking out some shops in the Mission, we headed over to Bi-Rite Creamery.

They have a relatively new flavour, orange cardammom, which is different and refreshing, but my favourite still is the honey lavender.

We gave Saturday a rest and met up for lunch Sunday afternoon. I suggested Arizmendi for some organic pizza. Tomato, arugula, and pesto pizza was the pie of the day:

Miam!

And because we are on the same page when it comes to dessert, I really wanted Yuka to try Schubert's, as it stands as my favorite bakery in San Francisco.  

We picked the Swedish Princess and the Italian Rum to share. For some reason, I felt like their Italian Rum declined in a little in taste and a lot in presentation, compared to this gem, that was devoured (by Lorraine) a year and a half ago:

But anyway, Yuka admitted that she did not think it was possible to find good cakes in the U.S., but upon a taste of Schubert's, she consequently changed her mind. 

Swedish Princess:

Contentment on a plate. So between bites, we talked about why American cakes in general are sub-par compared to their Asian and European counterparts. Because Schubert's still uses Germany recipes as well as  "old world techniques and modern day technology", they have the recipe for success, and our cake loyalty.
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Cafe 98 
98 7th Street

Tartine
Guerrero and 18th Street

Arizmendi
9th Avenue and Irving

Schubert's Bakery
521 Clement Street. 
 
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So one more thing. After the raved-about New York Times chocolate chip cookie recipe yielding mediocrity, or a modest success at best, the Neiman Marcus "urban myth, modern folk tale" recipe caught my attention.  
 
If given the choice between the two, I would opt for the Neiman Marcus one. Less sweet but also less chewy, I cannot put my finger on what exactly makes this a more superior cookie, albeit tradeoff. I sent the NYTimes batch off to my Belgian flatmates in La Jolla, to which they responded, "tes coooookies - AMAZING! Meme pas brûlés - je me demandes comment tu as fait..." and also, "HAAA j'ai recuuuuu WOUW!! ils sont tres bons tes cookies". But seriously, I cannot take credit; the USPS must have somehow worked their magic while delivering my cookies 500 miles south. And I was so worried that they would arrive stale! I used the latter recipe and gave some to my friends, which they seemed to like as well. But because this was not a controlled experiment, I cannot offer a second opinion on the different recipes. However, on the whole, neither was mind-blowing, like this chocolate chip oatmeal recipe that I once used, that blows every cookie recipe out of the water. I need to dig up that recipe again, and use it, and I shall post it here, with the recipe, so you too, can experience the zenith of cookie existence. 

In the meantime, I shall leave you with the NM recipe, should you want to bake up a batch of not-so-sweet cookies. My friends, they spent a good Friday night with Jose Cuervo, Coke, and my cookies; they said they liked it because it was again, "not-too-sweet". 

Recipe:

Yields about 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients:
½ cup (one stick) butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 ½ teaspoons instant espresso coffee powder

Preparation:
Preheat the oven to 300°F.

Place the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in the work bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds, until the mixture is fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla for 30 seconds longer, until well combined.

In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to the mixer, while beating on slow speed. Beat for about 15 seconds, stir in the chocolate chips and espresso powder, and mix for 15 seconds longer.

Prepare a cookie sheet with about 2 tablespoons of shortening (or use a non-stick spray). Using a 1-ounce scoop, or using a 2 tablespoon measure, drop the cookie dough onto the cookie sheet in dollops about 3 inches apart. Gently press down on the dough with the back of a spoon to spread out into 2-inch circles; there should be room on the sheet of six or eight cookies at a time. Transfer to the oven in batches and bake for about 20 minutes or until the cookies are nicely browned around the edges. Bake for a little longer for crispier cookies.

Once I get my hands on some butter (I know, too busy to grocery shop), I shall make the oatmeal cousins of the chocolate chip cookie, and share with you the recipe.
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I said I would not blog again for sometime, but this surpasses my benumbing GRE book, as least in entertainment value (for myself). I shall let such notions as the difference of squares, unfamiliar voacabulary (unctuous, obdurate, modicum), and watching out for incorrectly "fused sentences". 
Anyway, I met up with my grandpa for lunch after ballet, and I suggested Ha Nah Ninh in the Tenderloin, known for its cleanliness.

But goodness, what a mistake. I ordered the raw beef with tendons noodle soup, only because I tried to order their weekend special, that was neither on the menu nor posted, but supposedly they have it. Our waitor refused to speak, though I doubt he was mute, but because he refused to answer my question of, "Do you have the bun bo hue?" only to receive a slight shake of the head. Please elaborate. Anyway, I just got what the same as my grandpa out of ease; the broth was unflavourful, the beef overcooked, I think the saving grace was their addicting XO-laced hot sauce. Though it was a clean diner, I do not presume coming back in the near future, as there are better pho places in the Tenderloin, with better service and tastier offerings. Should have known given that the restaurant was empty at 12:15 pm on a Saturday. 

Lorraine stands as a long and trusted food buddy; we love going on food adventures and have done so in two different continents! However, discussing food for us can ressemble discussing politics, we have our favorites and thus cannot agree upon what is "better". For example, she swears by the chicken tacos from La Taqueria on Mission and 24th. After trying their burritos and tacos on different occasions, I still do not comprehend the hype. I convinced her to try one of my preferred taquerias in the city, Tacqueria Cancun on Mission and 19th. Because she is particular about burritos, we got the super chicken spectacular (or something to that effect).

One super burrito is definitely enough to share with a friend. I usually get their vegetarian one, which I believe to be better, but this one was decent too. However, after having this lobster burrito from Cafe Ventanas (school cafeteria!) with sundried red peppers and whole lot of another deliciousness in the mix, and also the most tender and filling fish taco from Ranchos in North Park, this chicken burrito does not live up to its San Diegan counterparts. However, the overarching theme of this restaurant visit was to convince L. that Taqueria Cancun is better, and while she agreed that they make better burritos, she is still sticking with La Taqueria for their chicken tacos ("with everything"). I do not know, I mean, I thought about it. Maybe we can pull through our differences, and make this friendship work. I hope so ;)

After lunch, we headed over to Mitchell's on San Jose for some delicious. You take a number and wait for about 15 minutes before you get called to the ice cream window-- slightly faster than the way the passport agency on Hawthorne Ave. used to operate. Anyway, good thing for good company, because we passed the time by discussing ice cream flavours, because it's a heavy subject you know...


I opted for the avocado ice cream, because it does not get rarer than that, avocado and ice cream, in one! I do not understand the hype about this place either; there are very many ice creameries in more central locations with more exotic flavor selections and better quality ingredients. Granted my ice cream was only a little icy, I am staying true and sticking to my Bi-Rite, unless they stop using organic Straus Creamery and other local ingredients in their frozen delights.

So one day, I was trekking through the Tenderloin again, and stumbled upon rather notorious Baguette Express. Having not eaten lunch yet, I opted for the #1 pork combination sandwich:

I ate half when the baguette was delightfully hot and saved the rest, which I later toasted again at home. A satisfying lunch (and a half) for under $3 puts Sheng Kee's ready-made, soggy banh mi  to shame.

Ming Tai Wun-tun Noodle, shrimp dumpling noodle soup:

There is also a lot of hype about this hole-in-the-while. While their noodles were of commendable texture, they put questionable pork products in the dumpling, which ostensibly makes the dumpling more mysterious, but because I had to pick out these rather large bits, I would pick the place on Irving over this joint, and of course, I would pick almost any place in Hong Kong over their SF cousins.

Sunday Brunch at Suppenkuche. At 11 a.m., lacking the crowd of people waiting and just sight of people in general, I thought they were closed. But luckily, they were not. And thus, I present to you my German ravioli scramble with lamb sausage and onion, with a side of refreshing cucumber salad studded with dill. Or if Sie sprechen Deutsch, then it's "Geröstete Maultaschen mit Zwiebeln, Ei und Gurkensalat".

It may look like a benign scramble, but this protein overload kept me full until past 9pm, at which point, I opted for fruit. Literally, no dinner needed! 

When I finally regained my appetite the next day, I stopped by Sunset Bakery, to try a slice of their custard tart.

Only until I started eating it, did I realize that it pretty much was a Chinese egg tart in sliced form. Perhaps as big of a mistake as the aforementioned pho experience-- don't do it! Notwithstanding the silky texture of the custard, their crust left a lot more to be desired. I could not discern what they used. Had they used butter, it would have been crispily golden-- negative; had they used crisco, it would have broken off in crispy shards-- also negative. The crust, burnt on the bottom yet not thoroughly baked on the inside, tasted strangely of a barbeque pork bun, which only leaves me to believe they used lard as the binding fat. Seriously, lard in baked goods in 2008? Our predecessors expected so much more. 

After ballet class, A. and I cavorted across the street. Falafel salad was waiting to be had by A.

Whereas I had a sample of their falafels, kept warm by a steamer, which did not live up to their superior Sunset cousins at Sunrise Deli. There, you get freshly fried, parcels of chickpea and spices and a seemingly more delicious falafel experience, for the same price. However, for $5, it makes for a quick and easy lunch when the food trucks make on appearance the Farmers' Market on Wednesdays at the UN Plaza.

Thus, I opted for a Waffle Mania experience. Ich liebe Liegl Waffeln!

Doughy and yeasty, with bits of caramel, it made for a delicious "lunch". I had some fruit and leftover roasted beets later on.

And the pièce de résistance:

It's reverse "Chinglish" and upon its discovery (i.e. being translated for me) I laughed, and laughed, and laughed some more. If you asked me to tell you the story in person, I would probably laugh before I finished the story. So apparently, a neighbor lost his cat. However, the first three words in bold, red Chinese (phonetically kuet dieu mao) does not translate to 'Missing Cat', or rather vice versa, which is what cat-owner Gary had thought. I immediately thought of how, perhaps, he fed the English words to an online translator, because the first two Chinese characters as I understand, though I cannot read them, mean "lacking" or "insufficient" and are used to describe some other scenario like an iron-deficiency, and not a feline-deficiency. Insufficient cat, surely. Because it greatly confused the madre for example, imagine how befuddled real Chinese literates would be!


  
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and then some. As an early disclaimer, this blog is not for weak stomachs-- I warned you (!) Anyway, I grew up eating a lot of seafood, and really enjoy it, whereas some of my friends cannot stand the sight of mussels and fish. I consider myself quite lucky to not live in a landlocked country where salt-water, and even freshwater, offerings are sparse. Growing up, the 'rents would make the drive to some oyster farm to pick up 100 oysters when we had company for dinner. More often than red meat, we'd often have crab or clams or mussels-- coastal living at its most sumptuous!

Hog Island!

Every now and then, I like to go with the madre to Hog Island and get oysters at the Ferry Building, always opting for a seat outside along the banks of the bay. Pictured here is a dabob oyster, from some deep, cold water bay up north. Nice and briny, they went so well with their mignonette sauce and a hint of lime!

Here they are, three dozen of them, in all their glory.
 
She thought such a lowly number would fail to sate us; I beg to differ. However, this guy behind us, an avid oyster-eater, boasted a record of 150 oysters in one sitting; this time around, he stopped at around 120. Caloriffic cholesterol, pulmonary hypertension!

Lately, restaurants of sorts have been closing, and new ones have quickly taken their place, albeit obvious in their protrusive unfamiliarity. Such applies to King Wonton and Noodle. The madre and I, intending to go to PPQ for some pho, decided on this cafeteria-esque joint instead, because firstly, we didn't have to endure a long wait, and secondly, they proudly display a picture of a chef wielding a giant bamboo stick (presumably as a rolling pin) and making the noodles sans machine (ostensibly authentic, just like in Hong Kong)!

We both got the dumplings with noodles instead of wonton, because of a shui gow's superiority in filling ingredients. The dumplings left more to be desired, as the wrapping was rather undercooked in some parts, as were some chunks of gray-coloured shrimp (is that kosher?), along with chunks of pork fat that I, without hesitation, picked out. The chives in the soup made a pleasant addition, and the noodles themselves in all honesty, the best I have ever had-- here or in Hong Kong. One would not truly know unless one has, in fact, experienced; thus the next time around, when the occasion arises, I shall order the noodles alone, and ideally have an enjoyable meal. 

"Why would you order seafood in a restaurant that doesn't specialize in seafood?" my friend asked. Because, when oysters are prepared à la Louisiane, one just does not forgo the opportunity. The oyster scramble with bacon, a biscuit, and the creamiest grits you'll ever have, at Brenda's:

Our first attempt at dining at this restaurant largely failed, because they were enjoying a two-week vacation-- totally understandable and modest compared to 1 to 1.5 month-long vacances d'été of my friends from la Belle France. Anyway, the subsequent Saturday, we tried again after ballet class, and were seated after about a 30-minute wait that was spent ambling in the neighborhood, avoiding the most troublesome bits. So back to my scramble, the oysters were fried in a cornmeal crust, which no restaurant in the Bay Area does anymore, or ever really; I really appreciated this extra detail and it goes to show how authentic Brenda's French Soul Food is. Their biscuits are delicious, but not for the faint at heart, as you must prepare your stomach in order to consume a whole, of course, with their strawberry compote (thankfully made with minimal sugar) to taste the full glory of this sensation. Together, this dashing duo gives PB&J a run for its money. The grits, as aforementioned came creamy and wholesome, none like I have ever tasted, you must try to realize this level of achievement in grits concoction. Corn porridge perfection!

Because ballet and eating exist as my two sole preoccupations (kidding), this mussel experience comes from yet another post-class food adventure:

Pompei mussels, in a cream sauce with white wine, shallots, lardons, and gorgonzola. Most tender mussels I have eaten to date (and I started young), as my friend exclaimed, "Wow, these mussels are so smooth!" Agreed!

With all these aforementioned positive experiences, there always exists a rotten one of the bunch. And hence, I introduce you Weird Fish, a restaurant you are probably better off not knowing. My "peacemaker" with a cup of clam chowder:

My lunch was nothing short of weird. I walk into this tastefully decorated hole-in-the-wall on Mission and give my order at the cash register, in a Crepevine/Frjtz/Squat&Gobble mindset where one would do the same. The waitor/maitre d'/cashier assumed 'to-go' and I corrected him, only to receive a "Uhhh, okay? ...Do you want to pay now?" What kind of question is that anyway, but  I go to pay the amount indicated on the register anyway and he disappears, as I left the money awkwardly sitting on the counter. He comes back, asking, "Do you want to sit at the counter? Do you want to sit at the counter?" Really, did you have the ask the same exact question twice in a row like a parrot? Because the counter was not really a counter, but a 9-inch ledge, ostensibly not even large enough to fit a plate, but before I could even respond, he disappeared again without saying anything, which always counts in my book as weird service, especially in the middle of conversation. He suddenly reappears again, and I ask if I could sit by the window (to people watch) to which he responds, "Uhhh, I guess not?" Given that it was a request within reason, I found it to be an unreal response, only in this case, he confronted me with the very real and ugly truth. So I sit between two tables of older people, who were situated too close for comfort, and who were engaged in conversation too heavy for the lunch table (read: re. divorce to the left and abortion to the right). As I read my outdated issue of Time on Putin and Russia, my mind was in this confused state; I would have enjoyed mindlessly looking at people by the window as I awaited my meal (!) Finally, my plate comes. The chowder was decent and maybe two steps above canned clam chowder. The sandwich, moreover, was Mediocre; the oysters curiously unfresh and the bun too soft for my tastes (think oversized hotdog bun that was sitting neglected in a plastic bag).  Dismal lunch with a 5% health surcharge. I mean, maybe I do not fully comprehend hipster culture, but seeing as San Francisco is becoming increasingly gentrified, in a "normal" context, this experience was just plain weird.

Back to positive seafood experiences! Vietnamese-style clams in soup.

A light lemongrass and fragrant basil broth, starring Manila clams. Delicious.

And forward came the crab, prepared with "salt and pepper":

Its presentation of onion, scallion, pepper, butter, and basil only to be received with open hands. A delightfully exquisite experience that engaged the senses of taste, smell, and to some extent sight. Yummy Yummy. A must-go if you are a crab fan, and by the way, that's the name of the restaurant-- Yummy Yummy, and it sure was!

The padre is temporarily back from Vancouver, and this is what he discovered there:

steamed crab with garlic and sesame oil. Very subtle, yet very fulfilling. Rather bizarre having your dinner look up at you like this...I'm just saying.

A's last night in the city and I suggested Ti Couz; I can never tire of it! Here is mon crepe avec coquilles:

scallops, not marshmallows, for you anglophones. It was a buckwheat crepe with scallops, some creamy seafood sauce, and chives. With the accompaniment of pear cider (cidre poivre), such made for a very satisfying meal. Yay for good company and good eats!

After that Weird discourse, I am blogged out; must go catch up on life before I write another entry!


 
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Most friends of mine will think I am crazy if I ever proposed taking the light rail and a connecting bus just to get to a bakery, when bakeries are densely plentiful in San Francisco. But not Z. So onward we marched to a part of town where old warehouses have been converted into hip office buildings, and cultural displacement has taken shape in the form of Patisserie Philippe. Roughly one year ago, two other friends and I made the trek out here, via the T Third and on foot, but the character of Patisserie had not yet fully developed. In fact, to this day we still reminisce and laugh at how our one friend had her "second most terrible day" because we had to walk, and walk, and she did not know when we could finally stop (!!) Anyway, I remember my pistachio macaron tasting rather dry, and brittle, like a meringue, but rougher, so a cross between a meringue and a green-coloured Fruit Loop. That was what it tasted like to me, and I felt it inauthentic. Since then, they have come up with the motto "a taste of Paris in San Francisco". Not that such enticed me to go again; I read it on their business card when I slipped one into my wallet. Anyway, here is their passionfruit macaron with poppyseeds no less.  
 
Not sure how poppyseeds go together with passionfruit, or if the patissier chose this combination for the alliteration...but anyway, the buttercream was amazingly light and tart and their macaron has since improved, with a chewier, more almond-tasting cookie. Compared to my rosewater macaron experience about a week ago, this one far surpasses the former, in size and in taste. Miam!

Now onto the not-so-Paris part. 
"And I would also like a financier, please."
"a what?"
"oh, a fie-NANCE-seer."
While they promised a taste of Paris, I guess the lingua franca did not transcend.

Nonetheless, almost if a bite-sized hazelnut financier, with black and blueberries. I cannot describe how wonderful it was in words, the freshness of the hazelnut meal, along with the tartness of the berries, just made for a very enjoyable five bites. So enjoyable, in fact, I may return at the end of this weekend to pick up a parcel of these and drop them off at my grandpa's when I visit him. He will not know what hit him. Only he will, because I shall enclose the message "a taste of Paris" and he shall be enlightened, if not by my slightly cryptic scribbles, than by the actual financiers themselves. Will update on this!

And lastly, but by no means of lesser importance, is Z's breakfast pudding, eaten on a sunny afternoon.

Looks delectable! Was it so in real life?

In sum, Patisserie Philippe may be one of the closer derivatives of a true Parisian patisserie in San Francisco. Mais on ne parle pas le français la-bas (!) I am flirting with the idea that their macarons are better than that of La Boulange, as well as their tea cakes in general, but for sure, the latter wins for ambience and location (i.e. Cole Valley and sometimes Lower Pac Heights). I guess Patisserie's boondock location works alongside self-discipline well-- out of sight, out of mind. Only, I have these [cursed] pictures to remind me. Woe is pastries!!

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Patisserie Philippe
Townsend St. x 7th Street
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Before immersing myself in foodie culture, the way in which I approached food was noticeably different. Throughout my highschool years, making turkey (lunchmeat) and tomato sandwiches on whole grain bread with a smear of mayonnaise or a bagel with brie, I considered myself independent and capable of producing nourishment of ostensibly higher quality and requiring greater skills than that of cafeteria food, and the corresponding food service workers, such as the ever-difficult tasks of cranking can openers and defrosting frozen burritos. 
To a certain extent, though, I do not hold food in the same esteem as I did in highschool. When cross-country races or ballet training mandated a diet of mainly carbohydrates and protein, my main goal became achieving this balance. However, taste and quality goes a long way in my book, as of recently. Call me a food snob, go ahead. For this random lunch, I opted to pair my cheeses with bread, the way winos pair their nectar with their cheddar. Brie obviously would go well with a hatch chili loaf bread, as both have more 'bite'. Sheep's milk gouda and parmigiano would get along with Morrocan Olive Pugliese better, as all have their subtleties, such as the flavour of the olives having seeped into the dough, and the Dutch accent of the gouda. The sharp and salty temperament of the parmigiano requires a European butter (Kerry's Gold being my preferred when Lurpak goes on vacation), to mellow it out. Apparently, it's what the foodies across the Atlantic do. On another note, I try to eat fruit that is locally sourced, and organic when possible. I'm not so sure I prefer having revenue from my Chiquita bananas and Chilean grapes go towards the funding of weapons for paramilitary groups. It's logical, to counter the guerillas, and also, to feed the gorillas. So in that case, they can have my share of Chiquita bananas. I'll just resort to seasonal fruit. Pluots, berries, and watermelon, anyone?


Gourmet food bar, makes for good grubbin' post-ballet class exertion:

I got some spiced potatoes because they looked flavourful, and they were, and some Thai-barbequed chicken because it looked succulent, and it was. I even snatched a wedge of banana-nut bread French toast because it looked rich and dense, and yup, that lived up to expectations too. Eating balanced meals does not always mean having a Luna bar and drinking a smoothie, even though one can probably acquire 1002% of daily Vitamin C requirements, as well as essential Zinc, Iron, Vitamin B12, and so on. One can eat well without that much extra effort, and the folks at DeLessio can help out. Moreover, I even helped the Devil in convincing A. to share a chocolate fruit tart with me, but her self-discipline is through the roof, except when it comes to ice cream, then it's entirely different, because it helps her lose weight. Naturally. I decided to go back for it later, but after this luscious meal, common sense told me dessert would only marginally benefit me slightly, as the meal satisfied me so much already. 
And there you have it, lunch-- same meal, two different takes. Bon appetit!
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-olone! or Bomboloni... I Preferiti di Boriana cannot decide, so they sometimes spell it 'bombolone' and at other times, opt for 'bomboloni'. But nevertheless, here is an Italian doughnut, filled with extremely tart raspberry jam:
  
At around 7 pm and after sitting in a fiberglass case all day long, they became slightly dry (nice way of saying 'stale'). One can only imagine what they were, at their full potential, at 7 am, 12 hours prior. However, at that early hour of the morning, I was still in bed, realizing my slumber potential,  so there are costs and benefits, i.e. the cost of a less-than-fresh bombolone comes with the benefit of unforgone (and much needed) sleep. 

_________
I Preferiti di Boriana
Ferry Building, Embarcadero

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When I discovered a relatively new tea place on California street, I had to make some free time to check it out. Alexa became my victim; I coerced, she graciously accepted. Tally-ho, Tal-y-Tara!

As we caught each other up on life and happenings, we shared a pot of silver earl grey. Pity it was rather flavourless, despite minutes and later, hour[s] of steeping. 

Alexa ordered the motorloaf with fruit and cheese as I opted for the English trifle.

Spiked with brandy! The motorloaf bread was very dense and nutty. The food did not impress me that much, as I've had way better (InterContinental comes to mind), but its rustic charm somehow reminded me of genuine tea fare. One can choose between outdoor seating (as we did), or indoor seating, surrounded by all the different tin cans of tea and equestrian gear. Because the environs of California Street are highly residential, you'll hear babies crying and dogs barking as you take your tea. I guess the foxhounds did come with me when I yelled "Tally-ho!"

 
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Leftover pizza. 

This kind of pizza just cannot be eaten cold. Yesterday's lunch, today's lunch. Mysterious foaming in the Roquefort region. Someone or thing has rabies, call the CDC!

A sorry slice of carrot cake.

Forgotten in the fridge until now. I wish cream cheese frosting weren't so sweet in general, because then I would actually eat it.

Life at home gets monotonous, with the television and staticky radio constantly (and often simultaneously) on, and the same long-term (i.e. having been here for the past two years, and will at least for the next two) house guests stepping on only the creaky floorboards, in addition to talking at 96 decibels, going out is a breath of fresh air, unless one counts econ. class. In which case, stale air. Anyway, sitting cross-legged and hovering above my GRE book (what movie scene comes to mind?), I decided I had enough and left the house 2h15 premature of my intended time. I took the light rail downtown, hoping to catch intelligent conversation somewhere along the way, replacing my forgone GRE studying opportunity. Instead, I stumbled upon some super-innovative architecture (picture to come another time), and Schoggi, Swiss-German for "chocolate". Anything that will bring me back vicariously to Geneva! Given, they do import their chocolates (and most likely chocolate powder) and macarons, my carbon footprint just got larger. But let's analyze the situation at hand structurally, employing lacking-U.S.-ratification Kyoto Protocol, the math stands as such: taking a Muni Zero-Emissions hybrid bus to and from econ. class M-F (+10 carbon credits, thereinafter cc), walking to buy groceries (+3 cc), occasionally taking a Muni bus from the 80s, to some corners of town (-4 cc), taking the light rail to everywhere else in the city (+22 cc). Therefore, I still have 31 carbon credits that I can use whichever way. Let's import Swiss chocolates, even with the CHF stronger. Or one can conversely argue, because the CHF has gained momentum, one cannot afford to make weekend trips to Geneva, or Zurich and Bern, and thus, has to settle at Schoggi. But really, one cannot complain:

Dark hot chocolate, with frothed milk and a dash of cocoa powder, and a rosewater Luxeburglei. The chocolate drink contained hints of cayenne pepper, which became evident only when I saw some specks floating and which definitely gave a certain spice and body to the chocolate. Lightyears away from Starbucks, greasy diners, and instant cocoa mix. This is the real European deal-- no GMO, no pretense, just genuinely good, the way all food should be. In between sips of chocolate, I took bites of my tiny, but wonderfully-texured Swiss-German version of a macaron. The rosewater was faint but discernible, unlike your grandmother's overpowering perfume. Anyway, fastforward to ballettklasse and everything was on, even my double pirouettes both en dedans and en dehors. I have not had such a good class in a while that it was almost surreal to realize. One thing came to mind: Schoggi was the deviation in my daily Monday routine. It must have been the Swiss-imported caffeine and energy boost, it must have.

A little past 8, I stumbled upon this beauty on the way home:

A sunset in the Sunset. How unreal. 

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* * *
Joyeux Anniversaire, Amérique!

For better or for worse le brouillard obscured our view. From what I could see, the fireworks were the best to date, albeit covered by the fog. Tant pis!

I asked my mom if she wanted to grab lunch in the SOMA, and upon her positive response, I made reservations for two at Local Kitchen and Wine Merchant. Only about two days prior, she backed out on me so I messaged a friend seeing if she wanted to go. Affirmative! She even said, "Glad to be your lunch back up!...I'm in!" Huzzah!

A little trek out to Rincon Hill, as this new gentrified patch of the SOMA is now called, and I was there. They failed to offer mussels on their menu, as they were only serving brunch (at close to 1pm on a Saturday!) and so I settled for their potato, applewood smoken bacon, and roquefort pizza. Quite heavy and I felt like the potatoes could have been sliced thinner, or salted to be made more flavourful. 

Our two woodfire pizzas.

The service was exemplary; they kept refilling our water. I think this is more of a place to go for dinner, as that's when they have an extensive wine list.

After a super-filling late lunch that ended around 2pm, I took the light rail home, to meet up with the madre who stepped in the door 10 minutes after me, and together, we walked to Wells Fargo to resolve some issues, i.e. my credit card account disappearing, and the name on my check card wrong for the past three years. Nothing works still, what a failure, Wells Fargo! Anyway, we stumbled upon this gem* while walking around the 'hood. "Special Portuguese Style Curry Fried Crab 14.95". The restaurant door open, we walked in as my mom called out to the other end of the restaurant, "Excuse, sir? Sir? Excuse me!" as some unidentifiable human slept lying across three chairs. All of a sudden, another guy to my left pops up, also from sleeping on three chairs to said, "HUHH?! CLOSED!!...CLOSED!!!" Oh really, why was your door wide open? It was a very zombie-esque moment, and initially shaken, I began laughing. out loud. I am horrible.
 
So we went back when they were open and ordered their curry crab. This is the amazing view from Macao Friends. Excellent urban planning you see-- a hardware, home-supply store right next to a restaurant. Also, the grass is greener on the other side. The bank is greener across the street. Oh how I wished I banked with HSBC; they even have locations in Abu Dhabi and Marrakech! So convenient, so versatile!

Curry bake with broccoli and mushrooms. They lied about the mushrooms; they said they would be straw mushrooms, which are far superior in tast than their button cousin.

Whereas this dish looks super heavy, the 'gratin' was mainly cornstarch with zero cheese/cream and minimal curry. underneath the top crust, there was maximum water and minimal taste. 

We wanted to order rice with our curry crab, also inferior Mainland Macanese cousin:

But the waitress tricked us into getting the porky bun, which is a roll sliced into four meager wedges and toasted crouton-dry, only they priced it at $2. Usually at restaurants, bread comes free. Only this was mawkishly dry toast, for $2! Oh, how the French would protest at the Bastille! But then again, they would have more taste than to walk into this 1/2-star restaurant.

Having spent a week eating guiltful-yet-pleasurable food items such as Indian take-out and 4th-of-July barbeque, Sunday is detox day!

Three cheers for whole milk yogurt, blueberries, strawberries, and a drizzle of honey!

 
* * *
* * *
Lately I've been spending too much time in the foggy parts of the city. There is light at the end of the tunnel, there is radiance in the city-- you just have to know where to find it. Cupcakes, coffee, and conversation, an afternoon well-spent!
 
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Germany lost the Eurocup title to Spain in a very tenacious game, even involving Ballack-ian head trauma. Et j'en suis triste! I then traipsed off to Crepevine to meet up with some old ballet buddies for brunch. 
Crepevine used to supply my powerhouse all too frequently in high school, when study sessions with friends in the Inner Sunset occurred more often in my schedule than sleep. A demure-looking bistro on the outside, the inside always looks much larger once one enters, kind of like Alice opening the tiny door to the magical garden. Only Crepevine falls short of fantasy.
Below is my New Orleans Benediction (consisting of crab cakes, poached eggs, spicy bechamel sauce on multi-grain bread), after much unnecessary confusion. The server brings me eggs benedicte, and says "[uncomprehensibleutterancedelsoluncomprehensibleutterance.]" "What was that?" "Eggs benedicte!" "Okay, that would be mine. Thanks...no wait, what is this?" "Del Sol." "But I ordered the New Orleans." "Yeah, this is the New Orleans." I look at my plate with a lot of spinach and diced, processed ham, wondering where the crab cakes were. Falsifier!!

I finally got the correct order, but what a hassle! The crab cakes were heavily spiced, almost felt like licking a salt wheel, only I'm not a hamster. They substituted multi-grain bread for english muffin halves, and they burned it. The house potatoes were undercooked, leaving a crunchy center. Either my expectations have gone up since high school, or their standards for bistro fare have diminished. However, shabby service still stands as a continuity. 

A little back-logged, but dessert and tea at Steps of Rome.

decent tiramisu, but not as good as the homemade crisper concoction in the previous entry. 

Another eatery from my teenage years. When downtown, one does not have that many options for a cheap, quick, non-food court meal. A. had a flight to catch so I decided for us CreepO Chocolat. Woops, I mean Crepe O Chocolat. The fact that 'O' substituted 'au' bugs me. Anyway, they have done away with their savoury crepes and replaced such offerings with omelettes. We decided on this omelette, with prosciutto, carmelized apple slices, and gruyere, only the prosciutto was cooked (sacrilegious!!) and the carmelized apples were neither cooked nor carmelized. The omelette came a little runny, as in runny egg whites, which to me is a culinary conundrum. How does one manage to cook an omelette with melted cheese and cooked prosciutto but leave the actual omelette not fully cooked? Anyway, the green salad with beets was decent.

One of those experiences you have to try once to see. And then only once. 

Their signature "crepe o chocolat".

A, and I also shared this. I always compare the quality of restaurant crepes to those in France or that of my own, which is being only a little vain, but standards are good to have. The actual crepe was a little too dry and rubbery for my discriminating palate-- kind of an echec when that's the restaurant's specialty. 

dinner at Axum (city in Ethiopea) Cafe.

The mushroom "stew" is my favourite, along with the Tibsie Lamb, which was a little dry this time. They subsituted Iceberg for Romaine-- lame! The six of us shared a platter for five, and still had plenty left over. We ate and ate and ate some more as we watched Critical Mass bike by; two of our high school teachers were in the mix. 

A very late Fathers' Day dinner, at The Old Clam House, as suggested by mi madre. Said to be the oldest restaurant in the city (circa 1861), it stands as one of the oldest restaurants in my dining experience as well. My parents and I used to come here quite often back in the day.


Curious as to what "clam strips" are, I asked our waiter, who pointed all over the menu, from appetizers to dinner and dessert. Still not having a clearer understanding from before, I ordered them anyway:

Pieces of chewy clam, battered and fried. Artery-clogging goodness.

A bucket of steamed clams with garlic and a hint of white wine will set you back $17 or so.

My dad always brings his out-of-town friends to dine here; a few weeks ago, he brought his friends from Hong Kong. Coming from a seafood-heavy food culture, they even approved of the clams here, so much in fact that they became clamorous. Did I just go there? Oh, yes I did!

Still full from crepes, I opted to share the "Clambake" with my mom.

The mussels were not so fresh, while the crab legs and scallops were good. While The Old Clamhouse is a trove of nostalgia, other seafood restaurants far surpass The Old Clamhouse in terms of quality and service (i.e. Hog Island Oyster Company). Located in the boondocks of San Francisco, one plus is that if you sit by the window, you get a good view of traffic on Bayshore Boulevard, consisting of  "souped-up" lo rider cars streaming on the boulevard incessantly. Mainstream calls it ghetto, I call it resourceful. A meal at the Clamhouse reminds me of visiting elderly folk in their dilapidated homes and who give you three-year old M&Ms stored in a tin can (not that I know that many); some things remain constant and at the same time, a little time-warped, as the world outside passes by and by.

 
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The first week of summer vacation went off with a promising[-ly productive] start. Mulloy, Benedicte, and Marion came up to visit Saturday night. Having eaten a lavish feast of lobster, clam, crab, and shrimp (pity, I forgot my camera!) with the extended family (always uncomfortable), I suggested a sushi bar + restaurant to the lovely trio as they pulled into the city late Saturday night.
Firecracker salmon roll from Pacific Catch, belonging to Mulloy. It was inventive and fresh-tasting, but not as flavourful as I had hoped. Still good.

Then 11 p.m. rolled along and none of us wanted to leave the cool ambience of the bar, so we pooled together our marketing talents to get Benedicte to order the following dessert, which she was on the fence about in the first place. Hi ho hi ho, onto dessert we go!

Dulce de Leche "Spring Roll" they called it; she approved.

Since 9:30 a.m. was a little ambitious for a Sunday morning, we ended up meeting at 11 for brunch, or closer to 11:20. 

I suggested Tartine, naturally and it was well-received by everyone, from the muesli to the espresso, the morning buns, bread pudding, croissant, tea and coffee. It's always a nice way to start off a Sunday morning-- sitting at a sidewalk table and watching passers-by, from the pedestrians who blast Spanish music from their boomboxes to the little girls who roar at their parents for attention.

AidsWalk San Francisco threw a hullabaloo for their favourite (read: key) volunteers. They picked a really fun place in the recently developed SoMa district, which used to be highly industrial and devoid of cool architecture. Tres Agaves, my friends:

The evening was filled with guacamole al tres agaves, costillas de puerco, torta al pastor y margaritas. Wow, that's a lot of Spanish for someone who has only a neglible amount of Iberian linguistics knowledge-- exhaustion! 

After a very exciting ballet class Saturday morning (read: dancing with professionals), Angela and I went to Japantown to check out the craft fair. We stopped at Mifune for lunch, albeit slow-service and crowdedness both givens.

I ordered the okame(fishcake) soba, which my stomach did not agree to. I can eat street food in the polluted streets of China and drink mango lassis on the roads of Delhi, why oh why, God Ebisu, did you not warn me that the catch of the day was to be avoided?

Manju, Japanese sweet.

The leaf tasted just like ume, or Japanese sour plum and Angela confirmed it. 

It's Sunday afternoon, the Alice's Summerthing concert was an afternoon well-spent with good company and a good picnic. However, alone time is much appreciated after a week of visitors (from France, China, Korea, Italy, and more France) and pullingeconteeth class, which by the way, is more elementary than the macroeconomics class I took in high school-- good thing I have still remembered the econ. logic and transition mechanisms, which are too advanced and thus inutile for this course anyway. Whatever, I have to do it for posterity; I should stop complaning and count my blessings that I'm in school(!) Anyway, lychee black tea with madeleines for you to enjoy in two-dimensional format, Proust-inspired.

Next week is another week.

By the way, econ. class has to be worth something and thus I leave you with this dialogue (would only happen in San Francisco):
[professor in explaining consumer goods]
"consumer goods...yanno..bling bling, BLING BLING...yanno rings and alla that fancy stuff...what the hip hop generation is into."
[girl meticulously taking notes]
"Say that again!"

 
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A few weeks back, our friend David celebrated his birthday, along with Laura, another Italian. So fitting that they made tiramisu as the birthday cake. I also found it rather endearing how they spelled the plural form of shown expletive incorrectly. haha

...in a crisper!! It was quite hilarious but resourceful, one has to admit. And honestly, it was the best tiramisu I have ever had, even better than what I have experienced in Milano.

Saturday brunch at the Cottage.

I always default to the crab melt because it is just that good. However, this time, my bread came a little burnt and it just wasn't put together with the same care as before. My rapport with this crab melt goes way back, and this time around, something just did not seem right. Benedicte ordered the Oriental chicken salad while others got the eggs benedicte and french toast; all seem to have approved of their plates.

Over Memorial Day weekend, nine friends and I roadtripped to theGrand Canyon, and though I have been on several occasions, I decided to go along for the ride, because I was seeking adventure, and adventure I sought! A weekend filled with  hiking, camping, stops in greasy diners, beautiful views, and great company and endless laughter.

Mr. Maesta's in Holbrooke, Arizona. "The best restaurant in town" but also, the only open restaurant in town.

My cheeseburger with swiss cheese was mediocre, and tasted fishy. If I wanted a tuna melt, I would have have ordered such. Of course, a week later, you read in the news of a tomato samonella outbreak affecting, amongst other states, Arizona, of course (!) When I realized the manager was hovering behind me, I stepped aside, let her pass, and excused myself, only she responded, "Oh, it's okay, I'll just have to step on you!" Toujours le scape-goat (moi!) but at least it made for a good joke later on. Our waitress, a drummer edging on 60 years old, provided quite a bit of entertainment as well. Alberto and Yuka both ordered Mexican entrees and licked their plates clean; it was incredibly laughter-inducing as ours could be described as lack-luster. Guess we should've ordered Mexican at Mr. Maesta's?

By nightfall, and after the Petrified Forest where my friend Marion returned a petrified rock she took from the actual town of Holbrooke, we made it to Sedona. A quaint little town with offerings such as this:

Fudge shop! Too bad it was closed, I would have really like to purchase 10 pounds of walnut fudge :D

We finally found a restaurant that was still open at 9 p.m.

Nopalitos fritos!! with some sort of sour plum sauce. Spanish markets in San Francisco (in the Mission) sell prickly pear cactus spears, which is the only reason I know the Spanish name, but since I had no idea how they were prepared and eaten until now, Sedona was the city in which I had my first nopalitos experience. They tasted like fried pickles. 

Arizona attempting to be gourmet: Honeysuckle creme brulee. Cowboy Club.

The custard was just okay, and all the vanilla bean sank to the bottom and service was at its all-time poor-- what does that say? Mediocrity!!

back to La Jolla, cafe latte at Harry's.

another mediocre experience-- the milk was not foamed correctly, and the coffee, flat. While I cannot say that I am an extreme coffee connoisseur, I come from a city where they have Blue Bottle, and even when if you were to get your coffee from any regular bakery or cafe, it's going to be decent. 

Silver dollar pancakes.

Tasted more like hashbrowns than pancakes. And we had to ask for real syrup twice, or three times, if you count the last time when I just sat there as everyone was eating, trying to catch the gaze of the waitress. The first time, my friend asked, as there were multiple pancake eaters at the table and the server said 'no' initally' but then changed his mind. It was a real hassle, but I refused to eat my pancakes with the individually packaged Smuckers high fructose corn syrup when they had the real stuff hidden in the back, away from my discriminating tastes. The ambience of the diner and the presence of friends made up for it, partially. 

Lately, my dining experiences have been a hodgepodge of culinary mishaps, from carcinogenic sandwiches to food tasting like some other food to modified, processed garbage. The world is scary out there.  I think the "crisper" tiramisu is the saving grace in this entry. I cannot wait to go back to San Francisco and explore the new gastronomic offerings that have sprung up in my absence. With finals in less than a week, I guess you will hear from me when I'm back in the city!
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The Cottage
7702 Fay Avenue, 92037
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Mr. Maesta's
Holbrooke, AZ
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Cowboy Club
Sedona, AZ
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Harry's Coffee Shop
7545 Girard Avenue, 92037
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When my friend Sarah asked if I had ever been to Roppongi, I enthusiastically answered, "Yes! It's a really cool part of Tokyo, with some American expats and some pretty neat bars!" Only, in Sarah's mind, she was thinking of Roppongi, a posh sushi and tapas bar & restaurant in downtown La Jolla. Ironically, some of my friends and I planned to go and were talking about the menu offerings and such, to which our friend Yuka responded with much exuberance, "Roppongi-- I went to high school [there]!" This time around, I had to explain to her about this restaurant. Deja-vu.

"Mongolian Shredded Duck Quesadilla with Mongolian Sauce and Spicy Asian guacamole" (pictured on the right).

which four of my friends and I shared. The duckfat kept the meat quite tender while the reduced balsamic vinegar balanced it well. I failed to see what made the guacamole Asian...but at least it was decent, not spectacular though. By the way, the alarming shriveled-up finger is just tempura shrimp, no need to be repulsed. :D

"Bombay Curried Lamb Samosas with cucumber raita and mango chutney"

Benedicte's affinity for lamb led her to order this Indian-inspired dish. The grainy texture of the minced lamb could use some improvement but overall, the different flavours came together well and she seemed to have enjoyed it very much.


Caterpillar, Spicy Scallop, and Roppongi...
 
...walk into a bar. I ordered the Roppongi roll and although the tuna could have been fresher, it was quite good albeit this shortcoming. 

Overall, the service was great, the food was inventive, and Roppongi made for an epicureously pleasant afternoon spent with friends in downtown La Jolla. Not to mention during their happy hour, all tapas and sushi rolls are half off.

________
Roppongi
875 Prospect St
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A thick veil of mist shrouded the campus this morning. A slightly delusional self suffering from zero sleep and Red Bull + earl grey tea made a connection to Cyclone Nargis. Of course, the slight sprinkle being of exceedingly minute proportions and lacking spiraling, entwining winds. By the way, the U.S. provided the generous sum of $250,000 -- kind of pales in comparison to the $3 million from Australia. But then again, international sanctions are still imposed on the junta government, and one cannot really blame anyone but Burma itself, seeing as the government is banning most forms of foreign aid (including all U.S. carriers) and even giving the U.N. aid workers a lot of red tape. Shunning the hand that feeds you, et la vie continue...  As a UN official (Holmes?) interpreted the Burmese government's refusal as paranoia, Fromkin so eloquently described Germany prior to WWI in a similar way-- "dazzlingly successful but profoundly troubled, powerful but fearful to the point of paranoia." As my past professor from Semester at Sea put it, "The hardest thing for a military government to do is to admit defeat and step down from a [threshold] of power." It would be interesting to see aircrafts drop MREs to the victims. But that would require flying low for efficient aiming, and then, how would the government react to such an intrusion on airspace? So I sit here, back from my two classes (the second being an onerous struggle to keep sane), laptop on lap, and jasmine tea steaming from my mug. 

Sunday Supper, spring theme.
 
the greens were nice though I forget what they were, maybe some rare breed of organic baby spinach, everything else, unworthy of mentioning. The guest lecturer spoke on urban renewal and sustainable archicture south of the border in Tijuana, Mexico-- pretty intriguing.

I got together a bunch of friends for dinner, and this is what we had. Or rather, what Sarah had.

croissant bread pudding with creme anglaise and a chai latte. This meal was made especially enjoyable because Sarah gave us a laughter-incuding crash course on how the Nepalese language works.

And this is what I had:

strawberry shortcake with berry coulis and a vanilla sauce.

Another shot:
 
with lovergirl tea, which was fruity, floral, and all-around pleasing mood-lifting. The shortbread came a little too hard for my tastes, but then again, almond flour instead of cornstarch/wheat flour was used, which obviously would give a larger, tougher crumb. The mellifluous sauce eased the roughness.

It feels rather surreal, talking about gourmet food, as people in Burma, especially the marginalized belonging to the democratifc party, are receiving little help if any, and in the form of high-energy biscuits and water, if at all. 

Now excuse me as I plant my face in my fluffy pillow. A 5-hour nap is on the agenda, and given my all-nighter, I'm not even kidding.

p.s. i mentioned tea three times in this entry, wow.
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Lucky enough to have spent my spring break in Hong Kong. After a grueling 14-hour, starvation-filled flight in a horribly assigned seat (since when did they stop asking for your seat preference?) on Cathay Pacific, I finally arrived in HKG on Saturday night. As if the consolation gods were smiling upon us, they upgraded us to a business suite at the hotel, how lovely!

Yakult-- my probiotic drink of choice since childhood. Plain and simple: supermarkets in Hong Kong are far superior than those in the US (for the most part) for carrying daily essentials such as Yakult, KinderBueno, and cheaper, but still quality chocolate, like Green&Blacks. Alors, Yakult me manque beaucoup!

A mont-blanc gateau from LPG.

A slightly too dry genoise sat on top of a wafer, and top of that sat chesnut cream, a moist meringue, chocolate pralines of some sort, all enrobed in swirls upon swirls of creme de marrons. Such delight, coupled with a cup of jasmine tea, made for a nice way to unwind after a long (five-hour Sunday stroll).

Chocolate chesnut mousse cake, also from LPG.

Albeit gilded with gold, it was not as epicureous as the aforementioned, but nonetheless made for a pleasant snack at 9pm after a 3-hour jetlag-induced nap.

Hong Kong street food.

Fish-stuffed eggplant and shrimp kabobs. Quite oily but makes for such an amazing snack, especially for hangovers, not that I was, but I sure felt like it after an exhaustingly dehydrated and famished plane ride, preceded by ~48 hours of no sleep, finals-related activity, and Sunday shenanigans with family in Hong Kong.

peppers stuffed with pounded fish paste (think pescatarian sausage):

Not as disgusting and revolting as it sounds. There remained a decent amount of pepper seeds such that there was still a 'kick', I approveth!

Roast goose noodles ('lai fun') at Yung Kee, Wellington St. The Belgian Prime Minister once dined here.

Made for quite a nice meal but I must say, if given roast duck and roast goose, I would prefer the former, due to its tenderness and flavour. As my fellow I-Housemate who's a native Hong Konger said, "You really do know where to eat in Hong Kong!" I guess...

Woe! I asked for 5 minutes when the madre woke me up at 8am, as I was still fighting the ills of jetlag and sleep deprivation. Peace was disturbed again at 10am-- a loss of 1:55 of precious time that I could have spent traversing the wondrous and gastronomically amazing landscape of Hong Kong! Woe again!! So, she left to get breakfast without me, leaving yours truly to pick up breakfast at a nearby bakery-- banana swiss roll (not pictured) and blueberry miroir (pictured).

Why Asian and European desserts own that of their American counterparts: they prioritize using natural ingredients and use sugar sparingly.

After an epic trek to Tai O (taking the blue line to Central Station, then tranferring to the Tung Chung (orange) Line, taking it until the end of the line, and finally catching the No. 11 Mui Wo bus to traverse Lantau Island to arrive at the fishing village of Tai O. Here is the malted caramel lady.

I had to pass the first time around as we were searching for lunch.

But gave it a try 3 minutes before leaving Tai O via bus, metro, metro.

super sticky, yet not cloyingly sweet.

Charcoal grilled dried seafood man:

People prefer it as snacks.

Out of order, but this was lunch. My unimaginative mom, amidst hunger pangs, decided "two bowls of wonton noodle soup" for the both of us...

...while I wanted to further investigate the menu. Singaporean fried noodle sounded like a good deviation, and so it was! It was the best 'mee goreng' I have ever had, intricately flavoured  and a nice complement to the subtle flavours of the noodle soup in the background.

Fishermen in Tai O sell their catches from their boats, like this one here:

And purchasers bring the goods to restaurants for cooking, so fresh!

Houses on stilts in Tai O. It's a whole other world out there.


We made it back by 5pm to have tea at the InterContinental Lobby Lounge.

It was quite a treat, as mentioned in an earlier post; I just did not have the chance to post this one picture.

Governor Chris Patten's favourite egg tart, from Tai Cheong Bakery in Hong Kong.

It was deliciously flaky and just the right amount of sweet. Egg tart (!!), yours for only HK$4.50 or 58 cents of the direly weak US dollar.

Once upon a Sunday stroll...

I walked into a Taoist festival. I always find it culturally amusing when the "old" is juxtaposed against modern notions, such as the Bank of China to the left.

Dim sum for brunch.

Every culture thinks tea is their own.

wonton noodle soup at Tsim Chai Kee, Wellington St, Mid-Levels, Hong Kong.

After dropping off luggage and having a delicious breakfast of fried radish and chesnut cake and porridge at Aunt Ruth's, we walked around the neighborhood until it was 2pm and she declared it was lunch time. She suggested dim sum and my mom refused; we finally settled for wonton noodle soup and as we were walking towards Wellington, I asked her if it was TCK that she was bringing us to. Lo and behold, it was, how did I know? Anyway, the wonton noodle soup was amazing, the broth was intricately simmered, the wontons were giant boulders of whole shrimp and the noodle was a perfect al dente. The same aforementioned HK foodie exclaimed, "This place is the best for wonton in HK!" I would pick a place that had shrimp caviar as an option but still, pretty exceptional, this bowl of comfort food.

Tea time, Portobello, Staunton, Mid-Levels, Hong Kong.

We do not have tea houses that double as bars in the U.S., at least not to my knowledge. We also do not have an abundance of blooming tea, unless you count high-end, modern furniture shops that sell scented candles, and blooming tea. My pot of marigold jasmine blooming tea, was thoroughly enjoyed over long conversation with my artist/ballet friend Oy.

The view from our suite, Fortress hill.

If you looked to the right or left, you would get a similar view-- such uniformity. These were the apartment buildings that enclaved our hotel.

A visa step into China costs you a whopping $130! U.S. dollars!!

At least the Chinese Consulate granted me a multiple entry visa...but will I need it? Anywho, xiao long bao in GuangZhou. One of my IR professors once described his affinity for them, in a story that involved everyone eating these pork dumplings at a local restaurant in BeiJing, only to have the locals and the staff stare at him sans cesse when he walked in and attempted to order the same thing everyone else was eating, because he was a foreigner, which consequently set him on his new cheaper-than-renting purchased bike in quest of another restaurant that offered similar fare. Hooray for long sentences!

After a 6-course meal that involved the above image of dumplings, and also other dishes such as tofu with corn, fish of some sort, lotus root soup, etc, my mom decided that she was hungry again when we came upon ShengXiaGiu Lu.

Eight skewered birdies, topped with hot sauce-- reminds of me of the 300 hummingbirds they served at a banquet in Candide. Only this is streetfood, in China.

I read about this amazing seafood restaurant where you pick out your fare and the way it's prepared before it arrives at your table.

Cheese-baked oysters, from a restaurant formerly known as DongJiang, by the HaiZhu Bridge in GuangZhou. You see, Asian cultures are pretty unlearned when it comes to cheese, so almost anything passes. This "cheese" puts your local, highly-processed, highly-plastic, individually-wrapped American cheese in high regard. I kid you not. This sauce in which the oysters swum pretty much consisted of milk, corn starch, and flavouring. Oh, how les Francais would start a rebellion!

"Tea-baked shrimp"

Things looked brighter when our shrimp arrived at our table. They were "tea-baked" but it appear as fried, and that mess of black stuff is tea leaves. Quite delicious and different from everyday Cantonese cuisine.

crab!

a delicacy to me because it's only seasonal in the Bay Area and even then, like last year in November when a pilot rammed into the Bay Bridge, spilling 50,000 gallons of heavy diesel oil into the Bay Area, devastating amongst many forms of life, the dungeness crab. 

dim sum for brunch on Sunday morning.

Amongst the goodies you can spot are custard-filled steamed buns and a shrimp dumpling.

sAt one point, I had the chance to meet up with Lily, who studied at my university fall quarter, 2007; he goes to school and lives in most amazing city on earth.

Festival Walk, a favourite place of a lot of Hong Kongers whom I've talked to. I can see why...

Crevettes of some sort, fried with pepper, garlic, and other spices.

Truly delicious, and I did not even get food poisoning (as they warn you about "dirty" street-side eateries.  

We also had super savoury and succulent clams and escargot.

Makes for messy eating, but when everyone's doing it, you feel less out of place. On another note, let us regard man with hands on hips, posing with utter panache in the background :).

Yet around round of dim sum, and literally so!


Why Hong Kong is 20 times a more pleasant place to live, than where you are right now (I kid...)

The dogs sport amazingly chic anoraks when it's overcast outside, with 90% chance of rain, now that is the 'Sartorialist' for you!

giant lobster.
 
Like, really giant, especially shown to scale with baby's head.

On a KCR ride.
  
And after all that eating, of course you are going to be sleepy...
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How I have battled jetlag for two weeks...and have wrestled to get syllabi from professors, only to be confronted with reading assignments to the nth power... And even though campus was plagued by a massive moth migration a week ago, resulting in moths the size of hummingbirds (with bizarre saffron-hued markings, no less) and in yours truly choosing to stay indoors, in lepidoptera asylum, I still felt uninspired to write. Until now. I am going to keep this entry short, quand même; but there is so much more to recount from spring break.

Le Gouter  Bernardaud, claims to be the exclusive purveyor of French macarons in Asia besides Tokyo, but is inauthentic to say the very least, and thus, the antithesis of French culture.

They claim to be the only ones to offer macarons besides Paris, the aforementioned Tokyo, and New York. Logically, they would've made their way to London, to the tea table of Her Majesty, and to other less foreign destinations before Hong Kong and Tokyo. In fact, patissiers have brought the macaron to San Francisco before LGB as a patisserie had even formed...makes no sense, their claim. Verdict: nothing special, rather disappointing le gout de Le Gouter, "lost amongst the masses" (hence the photo).

My first failed macaron experience, eight years later.  

I think this picture pretty much sums it up-- FAIL!!

Anyway, onto more worthy notions. For a person who usually talks at around 87 decibels (allusion to the recent NYT article on increasingly loud Cairenes), my madre was quite quiet at afternoon tea, perhaps a combination of a long journey to Tai O earlier in the day mixed in with some jetlag (5pm tea=2am back home).  

Anyway, it would have been rather funny to have captured her dozing off (Hi, Mom!)...funny yet cruel, and that my friends, is the paradox of my moral code of ethics. But tea at the InterContinental was quite a treat, with amazing finger sandwiches, viennoiseries, petits gateaux, Jasmine Dragon Pearl tea, and of course, a panoramic view of Hong Kong Island. Miam, miam!

However...

While I did not capture my mom fighting jetlag on film (i.e. dozing off with head propped up on one arm), I will not fail to point out the neighboring couple so enthralled by my digital photography, of les petits gateaux. Poor friend in the blue on the right-- cannot even get their attention...!

exotic fruit tart:

with mango, dragonfruit, red berries, lemongrass, and pineapple. quite iconographic of spring break.

Anyway, back to my newly reclaimed library books (yes, someone/people managed to recall four of my library books checked out for pleasure reading) and now I have in my hands one of the four. Huzzah!! Promising tales of giant lobster tails next entry!
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 One more week until finals. I sit here, like I have all day, writing my policy brief on malaria in Malawi. The weather is beautiful outside and people are sunbathing like it's summertime already. Whereas I am cooped up inside, sipping tea and typing away like it's the dead of winter and I have no option. Actually, in a sense, I do have no option. I guess the tradeoff is spending a spring break in Hong Kong! Albeit having a tight schedule, I do hope to check out the gastronomic delights the city has to offer!


A box of Joseph Schmidt truffles; introduced to me at age 7 and have been hooked since.

Stay tuned, kids. I'll be back in half a month!

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Happy Valentine's Day...
 
Even if 12 days late. This is a white chocolate truffle filled with velvety dark chocolate ganache. A little sweet for my tastes, especially the white chocolate shell, but no one can surpass Joseph Schmidt's ganache, which he has honed close to perfection.

Carnaval Brasileiro.

...was the theme of Sunday Supper. The steak was decent, but other than that, there was not much to rave about. The two Brasilians at my table said that this is typical street food, in places like Sao Paolo; I'll believe them.

Global Gourmet: Africa.

The fried parcel in the center reminded me of a samosa, with potatoes, curry, and all. The food was decent-- cooked by my fellow peers.

Mango mousse.

Not as good as Schubert's but decent. The tiramisu, that I did not get a chance to photograph, was better.

Cocoa rocher.

I usually get its almond cousin from Tartine, but this rocher, is le roi of all rochers and meringues. Usually, meringues contain enough sugar to keep you awake for hours, but this one had cocoa nibs all over, so not only did I get a sugar buzz, but a caffeine one as well. The bitter of the cocoa nibs counterbalanced the dulcet of the sugar so well

Happy 21st, Eric!

A flourless triple chocolate cake that was attacked by rather inebriated college kids, because that's what you do to celebrate the end of sobriety. :)

Bakesale.

Cupcakes remind of me grammar school, when classmates would bring them to celebrate birthdays. Techni-colour sprinkles atop fractionated-partially hydrogenated soybean-palm oil frosting atop cake in cyclindrical form. ,Behold, Elementary Excitement! My flatmate and I made chocolate fudge cupcakes with Swiss vanilla bean frosting and topped with Belgian hazelnut chocolate for a bakesale held at SLAM-- Spontaneous Laughter and Music. We went early to drop off the cupcakes only to be stared at by our conseilleur de résidence; what ever happened to propriety, or even a simple "thanks"? It even felt a little uncomfortable, like giving a vegan sweetbreads only to be shot back with glares of repugnance. When we went back with our friends to check out the event a few hours later, slipping through the back door hoping to catch some of our other friends performing, the same 'host' singled out two of us and was quite knavish...exploitative...mechant... I always find it a little surprising when seemingly professional people act otherwise. Whatever, hope the cake-eaters entertained their mouths at least. 

Finals coming up in two weeks' time...! 
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Back in early December, it was my flatmate and fellow travel buddy's 21st birthday.

I thought it was a good occasion for attempting the charlotte for the very first time.

Thus, I present to you a raspberry chocolate charlotte.

Crafted out of common sense and courage.

I find myself short of inspiration lately. My mind has been preoccupied by midterm exams and burning bridges. Formidable, but necessary. 

"Life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness."

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Wish I had the chance to post this up earlier.

Hillary for President.


Now you know whom I support and I sincerely believe that she stands as the most qualified and promising presidential candidate. Vote Hillary!

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Drunken noodles.

From Karinha in Pacific Beach. The roasted duck was not so "roasted" as the label promised to deliver. The chef browned the duck with soy sauce, more like. The vegetables ranged from raw to overcooked, which resulted in a very confusing meal, e.g. some shreds of raw lettuce mixed in with wilted foliage. I have had better.


Extraordinary Desserts.

My raspberry linzer danish. The tartness of the raspberry preserves rounded out the sweetness of 'American' desserts (and ED is no exception) well. There was also a range of texture, from flaky pastry  to slightly undercooked dough. Je l'aimé bien.

Recchiuti!

I adore his truffles and his take on ganache, caramel, and all of that jazz. Clockwise from 12 noon, you have lavender, lemon verbena, burnt caramel, and rose caramel. Oh-so-delicious with a cup of mild earl grey!

Glittery glamour.

This is what "Ballet at 75" looks like. Diamond Gala. Everything looked beautiful and I sincerely hope that all the guests had themselves a ball. But to exercise the First Amendment, I will say the following. How ironic is it, for the memo to have read that the guests were to be treated graciously (as is common sense) but for the operatives to not employ the same respect for their colleagues. As I saw others shake their disapproving heads in demur, I tried to not think much of it because after all, a diamond anniversary is a landmark worth celebrating, and worth being happy for. 

Anyway...

This would be the cappucino mousse-filled white chocolate pointe shoe and chocolate mousse cake served with fresh berries, raspberry compote, and chocolate shavings. It was not the most amazing dessert I have ever had, perhaps due to the fact that they had to make hundreds in advance, but that shouldn't be the case, as a good pastry chef would be capable of producing top-notch plates in large quantities. And I say this, having attended other galas and knowing a lead pastry chef at a Canadian gold club.

Back to dessert talk...

Apricot crumb cake from Extraordinary Desserts. Can you say swanky? That is, tea cake gilded and adorned with flowers. But appearance aside, this crumb cake surely lived up to its name. I adored how the crustiness contrasted with the tangy, pulpy texture of the apricot. The generous portion yielded three servings. Now that is sweet.
 
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It is not that often that you get to jump onto a ship and sail to Belize from the States, and when I got the chance, I let the winds prevail and drifted out to sea.

Fort Lauderdale, as our point of embarkation, had the following to offer:

Albeit having been here previously, I know nothing about the city, or where to go about finding Cuban cuisine. Thus, we settled for Big City Tavern, flooded with businesspeople during lunch hour. This here is a white tuna salad sandwich with pimentos on some greasy dill bread (delicious, by the way), served with coleslaw, pickles, and very novel waffle chips. It was very satisfying, especially after a draining red-eye flight!

At the local cafeteria where we had lunch.

I believe it's some sort of pickled vegetable concoction. I was about to try it but the sticky lid was acting stubborn and I finally gave up.

'Stew lobster" with rice and beans.

Apparently, rice and beans are as fundamental as pizza and hamburgers back in the States. It was good, but the lobster was rather tough. I like my lobster tender (if steamed with white wine and garlic) or succulent (if broiled with garlic and butter). Not too bad for 17 Belizean dollars, which equates to $8.50.

Old Belize.


Mayan Ruins and our tour guide, who grew up on the site and helped with the excavation.


Jaguar bite.

white rum, cranberry juice, a squirt of lime, and a little chili powder, the bartender said with a mischevous smile. 

Not a bad view to have from the Belizean bar.

Though our friends who paid to get onto the beach said it was the biggest disappointment of the trip-- the beach was artificial and the water surprisingly dirty.

Great Wall of Chocolate. 

Very poignant sunrise.
  

That is all for now-- back to my studies!
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So, 2008 has begun and very exciting, and perhaps even food-filled. events await me this month. While I cannot wait to ramasse material to blog about, I should share with you tidbits from my winter break so as to get '2007' out of the way. 

quiche made from local eggs, fresh herbs and chard.

This wedge actually belonged to a friend but I had a taste. Tartine's flaky crust never disappoints.

Passionfruit-lime bavarian.

Just the right amount of sweetness. The sharpness of the lime contrasted well with the sweetness of the bavarian cream. As I am the new owner of the Tartine cookbook, I read that the moisture from the whipped cream was intended to transfer over to the coconut shavings, making them taste as if they were freshly shaven. I beg to differ- they tasted rather dry and cardboard-like, ressembling a Communion wafer, shards and shards of it. There I said it, but I'm heathen so to some degree, it's okay?

Vietnamese Carpaccio.

Thinly-sliced beef marinated in a vinaigrette with peanuts, red onion, deep-fried and super-crunchy rice crepe, mint and lime. The flavours were really well-balanced and intensely delicious!

This here...

...would be an incredibly delicious lunch (well, part of it) from Bristol Farms, ceviche y ahi tuna poki. I had two passers-by interrupt my lunch and holiday card-writing to ask me where I got this. Bristol Farms, damn it, Bristol Farms! If you're wondering why I would continue to frequent Bristol Farms, even when they do not allow their workers to unionize, is simply because it's irrelevant to my daily epicurean needs. In essence, I kid, as I scornfully say this. However, those grand number of one, one (!) protestor outside should completely dissuade you from patronizing Bristol Farms. They, in fact, pay their workers wages above union wages and provide exceptional benefits relative to union ones, as well. With the higher wages and "better" benefits, what is stopping the employees from purchasing better health plans and taking longer vacations? We all know work is more idyllic there than at your local Safeway, anyday! Anyway, workplace issues aside, I still like Bristol Farms, albeit their often pricier items, they still have a selection that is hard to come by, even at your local Whole Foods.

'shrooms of some sort.

characteristically musty, but quite pleasant in a brothy soup.

Taking a day off from work for my birthday, I met my current roommate at the Ferry Building for lunch.

Our cupcakes and my coffee-- yum!

My old-fashioned cupcake.

I used to adore Miette's cupcakes but in the last year or so, they have been a disappointment. Still, gold star to them for using only organic ingredients...I think-- don't quote me on that one. Still, Kara's over Miette anyday! 

Champagne and tiramisu cake in celebration.

...because that is really all I wanted to do, whilst in good company.

My new pocketable camera surprisingly takes decent pictures in low lighting.

How being 21 tastes like-- bittersweet.

Morning in Berkeley at some patio diner.

Though the latte was a disappointment (Blue Bottle all the way!), my friends did not fail to notice the 'ghost' in my coffee and convinced me to take a picture. I should have somehow managed to sell this on eBay, along with Jesus Christ toast and what have you.

Cannele bordelais!

From one of my favorite bakeries in the city. You see, what makes this handful of baked custard even sweeter is that it was gratuit, or free, compliments of the house. My friend and I ordered the sweet potato au gratin tart and asked for it to be heated up. Being extremely bombarded with customers around the holidays, the worker forgot it in the oven, so we stood around...taking pictures of the viennoiseries et tout ca only to be yelled at. Yeah, we college kids are really on a mission to steal the bakery's layout and ideas, as if we didn't have other ambitions in life. Two gold stars for the two canneles and one lump of coal for the reprimand!

Nonetheless:

Here is a picture I managed to get. As you can see, the selection is not even that special, by Parisian standards. Not Gerard Mulot, not Laduree, not Fauchon, and certainly not Pierre Herme.

Buche de Noel.

gilded with gold but don't let that fool you; even I can make mousse better than that but it was decent...

at our favourite hotel in the city, about to embark on their signature elevators.

they spruce up their gingerbread castle display every year, this year with metallic spray paint, no less. And here, my friends are engaging their sense of smell to decide whether or not the edifice is real, as they do reuse it year after year.

Meringue with cocoa nibs.

This here would be an ever-so-light meringue from Stella.

Madeleine...

le saveur de madeleines-- Proust!!

Scotchmallow

"I has a face!!"

Berry-Pomegranate cheesecake.

Mouthfuls of decadence.

White chocolate mousse in a tulip cup and a lemon meringue tartlet.

quite satisfying with a cup of Earl Grey French Blue.

lemon curd-filled lemon zest cupcakes with meringue.

made these for a tea party!

different composition:


Cannoli from North Beach.


Icelandic exhibit at the MOMA.

"c'est quoi?" you ask? It's a kaleidascope tunnel constructed by the Icelandic Olafur. My good friend and I spent an afternoon furtively taking pictures of his amazing exhibit, even though security left and right announced it verboten to do so. 


In other news, today is the second day of school and I find myself already drained-- bombarded with interminable book lists, intimidating course syllabi, and the nervewracking wait to hear back from a life-changing opportunity. Through strangely effective ways of telepathy, I am asking Mecca Cat, to not "prey for cheezburger" during one of her five daily prayer sessions today, but instead, to ask Allah to shield me from la mononucleose so that I may withstand whatever malicious forces that may come my way this winter term, and emerge, unscathed.
 

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So of the five midterms I took well before Thanksgiving, the one that mattered most, I did not get back until two weeks later, today. What a good month of anxiety, both pre- and post-midterm. You see, my professor for U.S. Foreign Policy and Regional Security is known for being the hardest professor in the department, with rumours of kids studying 20 hours for it yet only only mustering a B. Others warned, "Don't take this course if your GPA matters." Albeit the looming notion of grad school and the initial apprehension, I decided the stay in the class because the readings and lectures really held my attention, and I got inspired to read the New York Times and Le Monde daily...and we have intriguing army generals and submarine commanders as guest lecturers to boot. Still, as the days to the midterm approached, I whelmed with anxiety-- pulmonary hypertension, cardiac arrest!! I specifically remember all the people in my study group, and the amazing depth of knowledge each one had, especially the German, the two Dutch, and one girl who had extensive outlines (extensive to the point where the professor remarked that they were a little too sophisticated) on most of the readings. All the more petrified, this all made me because I was nowhere near as knowledgeable nor prepared as them. The following day after another midterm which I did not at all study for (but still  managed to ace it), I went to grab lunch and read, and then moved to the library, dozed off, had tea, and reviewed...everything there was to review. The more I read, the less, as I came to acknowledge, I knew. Putainnn!!

Well, to somewhat of a reassuring thought, we had the choice of 6 essay questions out of 9, contrary to what was previously announced-- no choice, just answer all. 

Still, I walked out of the lecture hall ready to play some Weezer and cry. For goodness' sake, I couldn't even write a page on British nuclear weapons, except that they decreased their budget to 3%  per annum on defense strategy and started concentrating on their navy ever since Kennedy did not deliver to McMillan's requests in 1957-8, and that the French would own them any day in that area of interest. Mais...putain! I thought, "Worried I am, green eggs and ham!" 

I thought about getting a drop card, and bringing it to my professor's office hours so as to end up with a 'W' so as to avoid getting a B or lesser. 

I got it back. 97. Weeks of stress and countless sleepless nights for one exam. But the worry is not even close to being over. That was just 50% of the course, there is still the final, the remaining 50. Maiiiiis, oui. C'est la vie.

And the point of this post that is so seemingly non-food related? Well lately, people have been convincing me to become a food journalist or "Start your own bakery! Why are you still in school?!", the latter being the more popular remark. Exasperation to the Heavens and back! Granted, there are plenty of food journalists and photographers, and people who become successful in the world of patisserie in their own right...Pierre Herme, Gerard Mulot, Pascal Rigo... In my mind, there is no better waste of time than to assume an occupation in food journalism, to gaspiller le temps. I have never taken a photography course, nor one in journalism; starting now would be a major detour, and I don't even want this as a career to begin with. I would not be going to school, sacrificing a normal life for one that would get me closer to getting my master's and passing the FSE. To tell me that I should spend the rest of my life in food journalism, is to insult me, frankly. I have greater ambitions-- I'm sorry.

That said, photographing food is still a hobby of mine. After all, it would be sacrileg to write a post in my food blog without even a slight mention of food, no? Thus, I leave you with a lemon tart I had today. It was delightfully tart.


Life is never a cakewalk. There are times when lemon tarts come into view.
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Belgian flatmate upon returning from Texas: qu'est-ce qu'as-tu fais pendant ce week-end...?
me: rien...je jouais avec moi-meme...et mon appareil-photo. 

Besides an eventful Thanksgiving day, the rest of my weekend was filled with trips to the library, papers, trips to Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, and a dance class. I present to you pictures of my findings...more to come as I take them!
 
stroop,stroop,stroop!!
 
stroopwafel from Holland!! zo goed!

vintage.

vintage cheddar from Ireland, aged 8 months with Porter's wine. tastes bizarrely like chocolate.

 

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and how to better spend it besides dancing or eating? writing about the delectables that I eat. (oh yeah, campus is dead as hell, with no one around and nothing open; i do not think this has ever happened, with no one in a 500 meter radius of me. oh, the suburban life! hence the time to kill...)


it's fall, it's fall!

teacakes with green tea and red bean filling, native to Miyajima Island in Japan...and now in my stomach.

Thanksgiving feast chez-Alyssa!

You cannot really identify anything so I will do it for you: turkey, cranberry sauce with apple compote, rolls, green bean casserole, stuffing (incl. vegetarian), english cucumber salad, eggnog, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, stuffed acorn squash, pumpkin pie and pumpkin cheesecake. What a feast and how wonderfully hospitable of Alyssa's parents!!

European Culture Night at International House:

picnic on the sidewalk! People made dishes like Spanish potato omelette (connais pas le nom), risotto a la Milanese, squash soup (to the left), Dutch mashed potatoes, etc. The twins and I made about 100 crepes  for the occasion.

Civil war waffles with Straus whole milk yogurt, fruit compote, and two pats of butter.

Actually, this was from the summer...

Apple, blackberry, strawberry fruit tart!
 
from La Farine in Rockridge. This was when I escaped the San Diego fires and sought haven in San Francisco. Of course, I had to hop over the bay to pester my friends, of course. But being the lovely friends they are, they agreed to bring me to La Farine albeit the long walk from Berkeley to Rockridge.

the hazelnut truffle tart...

...that we picked on a whim, so as to have four items for four pastry enthusiasts.

Indian ice cream in the Mission.

San Franciscan natives, you know where this is, or you should!

The Belgian twins I live with, taught me how to make chocolate mousse without any fancy ingredients.

how self-destructive...or rather, self-constructive. I can make it anytime, all the time now!

Here is the mousse again, but from a different... time.

Pig likes the mousse too, as it evident.

tacos and beer in Rosarito.

The tacos were amazing: pescado frito, pollo asado, y carne asada!! 

Lemon meringue tart!

Pretty decent, a little too dulcet for my tastes; I prefer a tarter lemon tart but it was still delightful!

Cuppycake from Whole Foods!
 
I know, the paradox of cupcakes. They look so good but taste so bland. This one was better than average though, no sugary American frosting and cake-from-a-box-taste. Still not your "Kara's cupcake" though.

I update as I have more food adventures! Do leave any comments and/or suggestions that you have!

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it's been more than a month since coming back from Europe, and while time has passed, the memories of  friendships formed, food adventures, and meals shared over good conversation have not yet faded, or even begun to...as incredibly cheesey as that sounds.

now as this entry is about food and friends, and non-American's view on food versus what I perceive to be the American view, which is all relative by the way, I will not include pictures of people, as that can get creepy...

back to the point...so as may be apparent, I have developed an affinity for food photography, ever since doing Semester at Sea and encountering not-so-foreign food, but in distant lands, which made the experience that much more exciting, e.g. eating falafel as a snack with others in the streets of Alexandria as opposed to ordering a falafel wrap for lunch at a Falaferia down my street...along with this hobby of mine that has become more serious over time (i.e. traveling to 'destination' food spots), people have messaged, emailed, told me in person that 1.) "You take way too many pictures of food. You have a problem. What is wrong with you?" To which I respond, "If only you knew the diverse and wide network of foodbloggers in the world, or have ever explored the 'food pools' on flickr..." 2. "You are out of control!" um, I really don't take pictures of what I eat on a daily basis, I do choose healthier options such as salads and soups most of the time or less photogenic ones such as grits (with a dash of sea salt) nor do I solely eat sweets, which is widely believed amongst those who do not live with me and 3.) "Why are you not Obese?" ...well, if you have read Reason #2, you would probably understand why...

....that, and I exercise a lot more often than the average person.

Au contraire, Europeans and other non-Americans, for that matter, seem to have an entirely different perception of food from what I have seen. They turn meals into social gatherings and come together socially to eat (fondue, anyone [in Switzerland]?); food becomes more than a meal itself and an element of social interaction (and by that, I mean, preparing the meal as well, not just simply a medium with which to interact. 

with that said, i leave you with pictures from wonderful meals in Europe. 

This here would be prosciutto, basil, cherry tomato, garlic, mustard pizza made with pita bread.

One of the most gastronomically tantalizing pizzas I have ever tried, and I am not just saying that because my friend Mo made it. One pita was just enough; it left me quite content without feeling nauseous as [American] pizza usually does, with mountains upon mountains of cheese piled on (Domino's and Pizza Hut, anyone?) and of course, because it was so tasty, it left me wanting more...what a tease!!

This fruit and vanilla custard tart accompanied the pita pizza meal above.

We attempted to eat on the spectacular terrace overlooking a lot of Geneva, with an awesome view of Lac Léman et le jet d'eau. However, the scourge known to us as wasps came and infiltrated our pleasant rooftop dinner and thus we migrated back indoors. What was awesome though was that the fruit tart was large enough to share with friends and others; after all, "Food is our common ground, a universal experience." 

Mystery marscapone and Nutella tart.

I had some marscapone cheese, Nutella, pie crust, and whipping cream left over so I made a swirly tart and consequently made my friends eat it...such good sports!

Ratatouilleeeee!

Wow, another wonderful creation by Mo. Coming back after 7.5 hours of hard-core dancing to this gourmet delight was nothing short of delightful (and then some!)...I still remember everyone being silent and eating contentedly for a good 10 minutes before the "ohhh, it's good!" reactions started spilling out. And ohhh, it was gooood!

A chicken dinner.

Normally, I refuse to eat chicken. It all started with a repulsively vile chicken documentary on factory farming that I was shown in high school. But good company prevailed over my qualms of poulet and ahead I went with it. I think it was on the placements where they informed the patrons of the ethically-raised, healthy chickens which made me feel a bit more relieved. The frites provencales, though, were quite noteworthy-- miam miam! I must say though, the chicken could have been more tender and juicy instead of edging on mealy but at least the spices made up partly for it, and of course, the conversation too!

Through my drinking glass...

Had I known how touristy St. Michel was, I would not have opted to go there for a prix-fixe meal for lunch. But because it was a lunch date with my awesome friend Lorraine, it didn't matter where we ate! In fact, some of the most memorable meals I have eaten with friends have been sitting on a sidewalk on Haight Street in San Francisco or in greasy diners in the SOMA with questionable characters looming in and out of the background. Anyway, back to the point. As Lorraine and I waited for our food, we saw the infamous beggar hobbling by. You see, my friends, whether or not she is truly living in a state of paucity is questionable, as are many 'gypsies' in Paris and it's always amusing, for lack of a better word, to watch this same beggar hassle tourists for money. As I was waiting to take a photo of her through my glass, Lorraine, on the edge of her seat, kept urging, "Hurry! Hurry! She's coming, she's coming! you're going to miss her! She's coming!" at which I broke out into uncontrollable laughter-- we both did. Of course, the beggar took her sweet time such that our laughter subdued and I was able to manually focus my camera. But of course, man-in-big-white-shirt walks into the shot at the exact moment so as to obscure my view of the beggar. Alright, dear readers, this has turned into a terribly convoluted story, I think you just had to be there...

Dinner in Montmartre...

Parisians bring their mignon pups too!

Authentic Ethiopean food!

courtesy of my friend Emnet and her mum! Sadly, my wisdoom tooth was growing in at the time, crippling my ability to chew and thus fully enjoy the meal but it was awesome to be eating amazing food with people who appreciate epicurious adventures as do I.

salade avec la vinaigrette et le chevre croustillant.

at Bistro Opera or something by the Louvre. The Maitre d' was not very hospitable but it was a good dinner nonetheless. My friend and I amused ourselves by making fun of her haughtiness.

la figue! dans la 11eme.

I immediately recognized this as I stepped into my first bakery in Paris and had to get my grubby hands on it. Lorraine and I tried so hard to finish this dulcet, dulcet dessert after lunch, pastries, and coffee...but some things are meant to be savoured alone. Lecon appris!

afternoon coffee and patisserie.

fraisier et napoleon, avec deux cafes au lait, s'il vous plait!


Claudia and I shared this meal of crepes and hot chocolate and coffee in Annecy. The crepes were the most amazing crepes I ever had-- so lighty and fluffy and just amazingly prepared, and there was amazing people-watching to boot. It was just nice to sit down, relax, and take in the amazingness of Annecy. If you ever find yourself in France and near the Swiss border, Annecy is a must for a visit!

panini a la tartiflette.

Tartiflette originates in the Savoie region, where we were, so despite not being hungry, I convinced Claudia to share a tartiflette panini with me, and being the awesome friend she is, she agreed! I usually like a lot of crisp vegetables and condiments in my sandwiches but this was quite delightful-- the combined textures of potatoes, cheese, ham, etc.

pique-nique a Geneve!

wine, Greek salad, cheese, prosciutto, olives, Toffifee, wafers-- yumminess galore! Eaten in the company of good friends while listening to an Eastern European Souza orchestra in concert.

le steak bavette with green peppercorn sauce, a freshly-tossed and perfectly crisp salad, and the most amazing basque potatoes ever!!

probably the most amazing meal I ever had, and I did not ever need dessert! Sarah is to thank. If I had to change one thing, it would be that I would have gotten sangria with my meal, and not white wine...what the hell was I thinking...steak with white wine? But nonetheless, it was truly enjoyable, the meal itself, and mixed with the company of Sarah, the hilarious waiters, and the highly socialistic ambience of this Basque restaurant where one shares bread and water with your neighboring diners, who are, at most, 8 centimetres away. A meal like this, which I could almost taste in my mouth as I type this, makes me want to move to Paris so that it could be enjoyed more often, and not just the plat, but the sense of community as well.

That is all I have for now. Midterms got pushed back to 7th week and thus, I must doggedly attack my books. Stayed tuned!
 
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So here is a glimpse of what I consumed as I ate my way through Paris, Lisbon, Milan, Berlin and Budapest.

 Here is a fleur de sel caramel macaron from Laduree.

Every tiny bite was heaven realized and baked into this macaron. It was so sumptuous-- that harmonious blend of sweet and savoury-- that I still remember how good it tasted! Bring me back to Paris, now!

Here is a slice of chocolate cake layered with jam...

and topped with slightly moldy fruit. The cake itself was rather bland. Too bad, because it was a rather large slice of cake too, and I felt guilty for not eat all but the moldy fruit so I surrendered, I let it take up precious room in my stomach. 

This here is an innovative presentation of mille-feuille.

I let it be my lunch one day, with a latte of course, but it was sans doute a mighty fine lunch!

Next to the aforementioned macaron, this may be the next favourite patisserie I had in Paris.

This is not just any plain St. Honore gateau that you get from just any plain patisserie in Paris. This is a St. Honore de rose et framboise. Rose-frosted bavarian cream puffs with premium raspberries and rose-infused whipped cream. I think I remember there being some sort of raspberry gelee in there somewhere; I was just so enthralled (!) by this beauty of a cream puff mass that I have forgotten. 

Here is a fraisier from a random patisserie by the Notre Dame.

It was...okay. Nothing outstanding about it...

Here is gelato from Amorio. There is some sort of cherry coulis running through that mess of frozen cream.

Everyone raves about it in Paris, but to be honest, I can name four places in San Francisco with better gelato or ice cream, and this place is a chain, to boot!

And another fraisier...

from Le petit Lux by the Jardin du Luxembourg. Now this is worth mentioning, unlike the fraisier from above. It was a very fragrant genoise with ripe strawberries, chantilly, and a layer of fine marzipan. meow!

Here is the 'dalloyau' from Dalloyau right by the Bastille.

It's a hazelnutty-moussey cake that my friend Lorraine got and who so graciously let me take a bite of.

Mon echequeier.

Quite handsome, isn't it? Layers upon layers of chocolate, mousse, ganache, buttercream, and hazelnut cake. 

Mon petit macaron de bergamot.

Also from Dalloyau; very delicious and with real Earl Grey tea, no less!

Now....

The ever-so-famous ispahan from chez-Pierre Herme. This parcel contained lychee custard cream, raspberry gelee, raspberries, all sandwiched between two rose macarons and topped with a raspberry and a rose petal bejeweled with a sucrose drop. Fancy.

Ahhh...

To slowly relish a Parisian breakfast again....
This was breakfast one morning by UNESCO (I was on my way there) and l'Ecole Militaire. Quiche Lorraine, macaron pistache, cafe au lait, un carafe de l'eau, et mon journal...de quoi d'autre est-ce qu'on a besoin dans la vie?

Gelato in Lisbon.

'Cookies'. I don't even normally eat ice cream but Portuguese gelato was a novelty for me, and I ordered 'cookies' just so I could listen to the lady say, "CoooOOOoooOOOkies". 

Breakfast in Lisbon.

Pasteis de nata y kafe espresso? Don't speak any Portuguese so I cannot be held accountable there.

Cupcake grafitti.

Look how fun and vibrant grafitti can make a town!

Dessert and white wine in Milano.

It was some sort of marscapone, cinnamon, chocolate, bisquit-y dessert that was definitely not tiramisu, which I had initially mistaken it for. Very rich, but my friend, Vino Bianco there on the right helped out.

Guess what.

beet juice! in Berlin! it was delicious despite how vile it may sound to you. i am now full of anti-oxidants and you are not, so be jealous!

Oh god, did I just hear my heart murmur?

my kebab I had one afternoon in Berlin as a late lunch; it screams PULMONARY HYPERTENSION but nonetheless, you should get yourself one if you ever find yourself on Warshauerstrabe in Friedrichshain, Berlin. The pressed bread, along with the well-seasoned kebab meat, and fresh, crunchy veggies all came together, harmoniously like the instruments in an orchestra.

Milano!
  
didn't get a chance to go in; my stomach wouldn't have allowed me to either after a heavy lunch.

fruit tarts that finished my heavy lunch.

and now, I am heavier. So worth it though!

Turkish figs...

...were all over Europe. They undoubtedly defeated the Spanish figs!

Belgian waffle with pockets of caramel.

from Kaiser supermarket in Berlin!

a very delicious cheese and pepito baguette with tomato, mozzarella, and lettuce.

so very delcious, and yours from only 2 euros; you cannot even get yourself a sandwich of similar magnitude at A.G. Ferrari for 3 times that!

heidelbeer joghurt torte!


passionfrucht-koko-schokolade mousse!!

So very delightful!

Sacher torte from Budapest.


I love this picture I snapped of the bakery case lady at a huge supermarket in Budapest.

She was wrapping up my marzipan cake (which I shall eventually post a picture of), and I thought, wow, what a great memory to have, of a Hungarian bakery-case lady, in primary colors take note, wrapping up my dessert that I am going to eat before my dinner!!

That is all for now. I am not going to lie, I kind of ran out of things to say towards the end of this entry. But to be fair, Parisian pastries far surpass any other in the world so while most photos from Paris were noteworthy, others from other places were just...less!
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So, this conversation came up during a dinner with friends in Geneva. They just about fell out of their chairs and told me that I must put it on my foodblog, justifying that it's food-related. 

My mom and I have one-liner emails every now and then...and this happened while I was in Europe:

madre: oh by the way, i found a cat in your room and i ate it.
me: what?! you ate my white cat?! i liked it...WHY?!?!?!?!
madre: it was sweating-- i had to eat it. 

Now if you were unaware of what exactly was the subject of my madre's epicurious adventure and my not-so-teenager angst, you have not met Cat, la reine des truffes:
 
RIP, Cat. may you meet others of your kind in truffle heaven.

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I know, I'm a horrible person. My 'yoga for dancers' class is now in session and I am not there; my back has been bothering me considerably and I thought I'd take a little break from that class, just for today so as to not strain and risk anything for Week 3.

Another reason why I am a horrible person:I have been slacking about my food journaling, which I assume is quite evident. But to be fair, I have been traveling and been kept busy by my dance course in Geneva. Nonetheless, life is good and I have no complaints.

Here is the evidence from my epicurious escapades in Europe (from London to Geneva):

My first meal in London consisted of a mixed berry fruit tart and an iced latte from Le Pain Quotidien. I know, I know, how ignorant of me to patronize a French establishment in the land of the Union Jack; I should have gone out for fish and chips and black pudding instead (!). I must say though, that it was the best fruit tart I've ever had in my life. the filling was neither custard nor creme, but an exquisite and harmonious combination of the two.

I approveth.

Afternoon tea at Sketch.

This was definitely a destination food spot; if only you visited the 'loo', only then would you know what I mean! The texture of their scones was definitely different; I think I would prefer a crustier scone instead of one where the flour was sifted twice and then another time for [bad] measure. I mean,  the plate was elegantly presented (before my grubby paws laid havoc upon it) and it was delicious to say the very least, just not what my impression of what a genuine English scone should be.

Here is my black currant macaron with black currant gelee, violet buttercream, blueberries and candied violet.

Again, life is great when art becomes edible. 

Related to baklava?

A bird's nest...and I ate all its darling babies (the pistachios).

German grubbin'.

Brought to you by Henrike. It was explained to me as a stew or bolognaise (sans meat, bien sur)...or a cassoulet. Very delicious and hearty.

To build upon the German theme...

Black Forest cake! very fluffy and just the right amount of sweet. A Canadian bought this German cake at a Swiss supermarket, talk about globalization! (Hi Monique!)

Truffles from Jean-Pierre Zogg by the Left Back (of the Rhone).

When I got around to eating them in a park, their centers had gone all melty due to the afternoon Genovese heat. They were decent, just not outstanding. and definitely not Teuscher-good.

'Eclair' cookies from the local grocery/department store, CoOp City.

flaked peanut, hazelnut creme, almond flour in the meringue cookie...what a confusing combination!

Fruit tart aux framboises.

Not as good as the aforementioned fruit tart.

This here would be pizza...

smoked salmon, marinated pimentos, parsley, onion, mozarella, and gruyere-- yum, yum!

Daily lunch.

baguette, chevre, green olives, Spanish blue figs.

The worst savoury crepe I ever had...

I had in Geneva. The two ingredients of fromage and epinard (cheese and spinach) were definitely in a quarrel. The salty cheese on the outskirts did not mix with the pureed and frozen spinach which sat in a puddle in the middle. If I wanted to eat baby food, I would go to CoOp, not a nice sit-down restaurant in PlainPalais!

They have quite decent lemon tarts in Geneva:

I stumbled upon this grand patisserie/restaurant within my first hour of exploring the streets of Geneva and what a happy discovery it was!

Chocolate for the masses!

Very delicious champagne truffles you can pick up in tablet form at your local supermarket in Geneva and I whole-heartedly approve.

Loose Lindt truffles.

Amande de luxe et macchiato. Not as good as I remember Lindt chocolate to be, especially since these were supposedly 'fresh'.

Gilles Desplanches!

hazelnut praline, white and milk chocolate mousse, chocolate genoise cake, covered in chocolate gelee and topped off with chocolate tile pieces. Yours for only 4.90 CHF!

More to come as I eat and photograph!

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but are delicious regardless.

here's a starter: princess cake.

More to come. I have my Boulettes pictures on my friend's camera...as well as other stuff so once i get the disk...the pictures will be posted shortly after that.

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Before I get too behind on reporting what I have been eating...or baking, for that matter, I shall present you this entry, which should give you insight on my daily gastonomical adventures. 

Below is half a falafel sandwich from Sunrise Deli in the Sunset.

I love how the crispness of the falafels contrasts the texture of the hummus, and how the crispness of the vegetables evens it all out. 

Below is my Hanoi Beef Noodle Soup from Tu Lan, the hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese restaurant off 6th Street in the SOMA with highly probable health code violations and your fair share of crackheads. Holes in the brain in a hole in a wall, how fitting. Supposedly, Julia Child gave them a good review. I mean this place would merit frequent visits like that of mine to So and San Tung...but your appetite goes down a few notches...

No sign of upset stomach, but then again, this feedbag is used to the most vile eateries in Asia; we're talking dhabas and daipaidongs.

Below is my tilapia filet in a bed of beet risotto swimming in a creamy chive sauce.

Very filling and delicious. However, the entree is usually a bit of a disappointment I find in nicer restaurants as the amuse-bouches and appetizers are always better, i.e. the garlic butter escargots that preceded this  sizeable plate. Clearly fish and not fowl, and definitely delicious and not foul. 

Below is my cherry blossom roll composed of tuna, salmon, tobiko, and avocado. Very fresh like sushi should be, and far from what deli-prepared sushi is. Yes, I am pointing my finger at you, Ralph's!

Props for such an innovative roll, quite a step up from your ordinary 'caterpillar' or 'centipede' or whatever they're naming rolls nowadays. 

Here is my marinated mushroom and some sort of fancily-named mozzarella cheese panini, served with a side of greens tossed lightly in olive oil and vinegar.

The tastiness of the martinated mushrooms were inconsistent with each bite, ranging from bland to very well marinated.  Still, it was a decent sandwich that made for a good dinner with awesome company before a Beatnik poetry reading, at the Steps of Rome in North Beach.

macchiato!

good way to end a meal.

Changing palettes...here youhave a scoop of the wonderfully fragrant, flavourful, yet light and refreshing Honey Lavender ice cream from Bi-Rite Creamery on 18th Street.

Compostable cups and woodle paddle spoons-- definitely the cherry on my sundae. It's all about being sustainable and environmentally friendly these days, didn't you know?! It's the word, haven't you heard?

Below are portable gateaux from Kara's Cupcakes in the Marina. To the left, you have Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla and the right, chocolate velvet with real chocolate nibs. Courtesy of my favorite cupcake boy, Steven.

I really love how they use fresh local, organic and sustainable ingredients; you can taste it in the cake, as well as the frosting. As for the frosting, it truly isn't your average American kindergarten birthday cupcake kind of frosting. It's a lighter, fluffier buttercream, kilometers closer to your Swiss or Italian buttercream. Regardless of how sinfully delicious it was, I could not eat the entire frosting puff, because doing so would require the purchase and building of a whole new wardrobe. marginal costs > marginal benefits, sorry dear toiling bakers!

Here is the passionfruit cupcake filled with passionfruit curd, topped with passionfruit buttercream and topped off with a passion-fruit flavoured fondant piece.

talk about passion! sumptuous cupcake aside, can I comment on how hip and modern the interiors look?

Meyer lemon, passion fruit, and java.


another view.


Here is a little chocolate mousse cake with roasted almonds and artsy mosaic pieces from Schubert's.

I love them, and their prices!!

Below is my attempt at 'plating' food.

Pistachio and lavender pavlova with lavender infused whipped cream and pistachio ice cream (Haagen-Dazs), berries, and edible flowers.

My first official attempt at French macarons. Actually all macarons are 'French'. It's just that some idiot started calling cookies otherwise known as clumps-of-coconut. the macaroon; it's known as the congolais in other hemispheres of the world.

Lavender macarons with chocolate ganache. What a coincidence it was that I made these on the 4th of July. That's indepedence from French pâtisseries because now, I can rely on myself to produce these pocketable sandwich cookies and not fork up $1.50 every time I desire a macaron, which is rather often. However, the 2 euros required for some Pierre Herme macarons is another story. Paris, I cannot wait to see you, PH Macarons, I cannot wait to eat you!!

And I present to you, my Nigerian Princess. If you cannot picture a slice of princess cake in your head, you are missing an entire part of your childhood. It's like baking chocolate chip cookies but somehow forgetting to add the nibs of cocoa to the dough; completely missing the point! This cake of Swedish origins defined my childhood memories of attending birthday parties where the Almighty Princess was served, time and time again.

So here it is, the product of thinking up the perfect cake combination on a long and tedious N-Judah ride downtown to 7th and Market the other day. The [Nigerian] princess is composed of a dense, buttery chocolate cake, layered with classic princess cake fillings: raspberry jam, pastry cream, and whipped cream. I left the homemade marzipan au naturel to match the theme. and added red fruits and a red currant coulis to counter the dulcet cake itself, and threw in some sliced almonds for good measure!

 
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So I've kept myself busy...and as for the long abscence, let's pretend that it never happened, and thus we can carry on...

This entry will be about truffles, I have decided, as I recently was given a freelance project to taste chocolates and find the best one in the city for a very grandiose event happening in January. Rather random, rather frivolous and pretentious, rather too awesome to express in words!

I present to you my accomplice: Pig the Truffle Sniffer Extradinaire. After all, truffle hogs do not other job better than sniffing out truffles.

Here is Pig with some truffles: Rechhiuti's Ginger Heart and Sesame Nougat.


Voila the infamous champagne truffle from Teuscher, freshly flown in from Zurich, Switzerland.

why so infamous, you ask? notoriously for augmenting body fat percentage, popular amongst even the most discriminating chocolate connoisseurs.

Here we have emblematic truffles belonging to none other than Joseph Schmidt. Maybe 12 or 13 years ago when I bit into my first star-shaped JS truffle with velvety smooth ganache and air-brushed edible paint on top, I would have crowned Joe the King of Chocolates, but (!) they sold out to Hershey, and I do not like sellers-out! While the sinfully smooth ganache is still there, something is missing, both from the ingredients used and from what JS truffles originally stood for.

Mushroom and Espresso, you deserve so much better!

Marzipan from Teuscher.

From left to right, you see chili marzipan, orange marzipan, and raspbery marzipan. The chili was anti-climactic. It did not enhance the almond-ey goodness of the piece like how cayenne pepper usually accentuates the notes in chocolate. 

Here is Pig keeping an eye on a sleeping toffee cat from Moonstruck, based out of Oregon.


The best mojito I ever had... was in the form of a white chocolate Mojito truffle.

Spendidly smooth Mojito-flavoured ganache in a perfectly tempered shell (cone) and topped off with desiccated lime bits. Heaven in my hand!!

Here is cat again. Too precious to eat, too delicious to resist!

Why must I allow a truffle to play with my heart?
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Since this is a food blog, I thought it appropriate to confess my love for foreign green poultry: I eat parrots.

Just kidding, and before you take any legal action, please do not take that seriously. I have a life to live, college to finish, and the world to travel, I do not need a court case to interrupt all of that!

Below are pictures I have taken on my hunts for the wild parrots. Some of my friends think I'm insane for actually chasing the parrots all over the city, but other friends are crazy enough to come along for the adventure. I cannot tell you why they fascinate me so much...I guess it's that I used to have peach-faced lovebirds just like these, except 1/5 of the size. If that cat had not gotten them under its claws six years ago, I may still have parrots of my own...or not...I really don't know how long they are expected to live.

If I ate red flowers all day long, would my face turn this red over time? :p

They are a lot of fun. Green foliage and exotic birds with urban architecture in the background, talk about deterritorialization! (Of the birds that presumably, at one point, came from Latin America of course.)

You're swimming against the current, buddy!

a lot of fun; I guess that's easy for me to say when it's not perched on top of my head.

How many parrots can you spot? I spy eight!
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Wow, I haven't written in indeed a very long time...
I took my last final exam, flew home that night, and woke up at 6:30 a.m. the next morning to go to work. Ever since, I've been working (up to 52 hours a week!), dancing, volunteering, and of course, eating. 

...and here is the proof. I guess it's picture-heavy enough that I can keep the words minimal so as to let the pictures themselves do the explaining.

the meal that came before my meal: banchan composed of 9 small dishes. 

my actual meal itself: sizzling beef with vegetables.

brioche bread pudding from Tartine. It really is all the hype people make the bakery out to be. What are you doing still sitting at your computer? Make you way down to 18th and Guerrero to experience all that is Tartine yourself!

the 'Ovali' custard puff from Stella that we happened to stumple upon while hunting for wild parrots. Let's just say sitting in the shade on a hot day eating cool custard in the presence of good company is quite delightful to say the very least. 

Taro fritters from Yank Sing.

glass tea pot with Jasmine.

dried fried string beans laced with garlic. This was from 'So' if you ever make your way into the Sunset, specifically Irving St.

Roasted duck drunken noodles. Can someone please explain the inebriated state of the noodles? Is there cooking wine involved? quoi?!

rows upon rows of macarons at La Boulangerie.

plates upon plates of chocolate at Rechhiuti!

Swedish princess cake from Patisserie Delanghe. Supposedly Chef de la Maison Delanghe baked for the Queen of England. Still, it was a little too sweet and artificial-tasting, the raspberry filling. Give me Schubert's anyday.

a very light and spongey lemon chiffon cupcake with lemon zest frosting.

A raspberry financier, with some sort of hard pistachio buttercream in the middle. It was my first time trying Patisserie Philippe. I cannot say it's magnificent but definitely worth the trek out to the boondocks of South Beach and visit this cute little cafe at 655 Townsend.

The above cuppcakes I got at Delessio. It's probably my favorite salad bar/cafe in San Francisco. On the left, you have an orange-chocolate ganache atop a raspberry cupcake filled with raspberry jelly. To the right, you have a chocolate brownie topped with cappuchino ganache, topped with a cinnamon meringue cloud, topped with *takes a deep breath* a chocolate covered espresso bean.

a moist, crumbly hazelnut macaron from Miette.

These pictures are evidently out of order, and yet again, we are back at Patisserie Philippe. Here is Tiffy modeling another hazelnut macaron.

the display case at chez Philippe!

almond rochers from Tartine. very light yet chewy and definitely a defined almond taste. delicieux!!

ice cream truffles from Moonstruck. too awesome for words!

And lastly, here is Pig again chilling with the Kiwanos at a grocery store. Apparently, they taste sour and look like cucumbers on the inside-- I have yet to try!

stay tuned, more to come!!

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So I'm procrastinating but that's nothing too entirely new. 
After a Saturday filled with life-guarding, Grand Theft Auto (a real-life version), and fraternity drama, none of which involved me, my friend Bruce decided to come over and bake so as to absolve his sins from earlier on in the day (i.e. stealing Steve's car to go life guarding when Steve needed it for a frat function). After rambling off his baking repertoire, I suggested Meyer lemon and blueberry cupcakes frankly because of the novelty. What a Rite of Summer. Yet it was still overcast and 60F today. Anywho...

I bestow upon you pictures from our project:

upclose and personal.

topping the cupcakes with blueberries.

droopy lemon cream cheese frosting. Be back after finals!!
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10th week is about to begin and life is hectic as ever. regardless of a busy schedule, I've still been chomping...


warm fluffy chocolate cake with caramel sauce drizzled all over, roar!!

'golden butter' cupcakes with chocolate buttercream and sprinkles. 

blueberry tart from "Cafe le Bistro' ...rather stale tasting and not worth the calories but at least...it's kind of photogenic? 

I shall be back in three weeks with food porn worth writing about!

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a new post in over two weeks, about time! other priorities have been consuming my life recently, probably for the better so I'm not complaining. Anyway, here is some food porn for your enjoyment (sans calories!):

Here is 'tart' yoghurt from Yoghurt World. It's this self-serve place with very many flavours, very many toppings, and very many engrish signs. 
If I remember correctly, I got green tea, black cherry, mango, pistachio, and passion fruit flavours with fruit and nuts as toppings. Was it good, you ask? Only because my sugar intake had dropped...Would I have gone somewhere else? Yes, because the numerous stare-downs from the Asian crowd made me super uneasy...and yes, because McDonald's soft-serve is approximately 12 times better, and five times cheaper.


So one Saturday afternoon in May, some friends and I decided to get deli food at Whole Foods and head out to the flower fields in Carlsbad. Delicious food, world-famou flower fields, and the company of wonderful friends, need I say more? Well...
This is half a beef burrito from Whole Foods, a little dry, a lot healthy. Made for a wonderful lunch. I also loved how the black beans, rice, salsa, and beef were all so neatly layered.


Europeans save salad for last. I like to save salad for after the main course because it cleanses the palate... for dessert, of course! It was wholesome and delicious and the ingredients, fresh. Fiesta in my mouth!


Switching locations from Carlsbad to the port of San Diego!
This past Monday, the MV Eplorer docked here and some friends and I went down to see the ship. There was a wonderful Alumni Reception and they brought out the chocolate Taj Mahal that they had been constructing since September 2006 for our Ambassadors' Ball in November. I guess they wanted to make more use of it? The dark chocolate itself tasted waxy like a choolate bunny from the Easter before last would. But it makes for pleasant eye-candy, no? Here is the product of countless hours of hard, hard  meticulous work.


And here if the ship fare from the buffet dinner. Dainty finger sandwiches (egg and tuna salad, separate), barbequed skewers, fruit with yoghurt dip, fresh veggies, gyoza, and a cheesecake square. I ended up having multiple desserts and glasses of wine. Yay for martime law (that allows me to imbibe such beverages legally)!


It was an open bar...


Last night, after attending a very confusing talk on "Anti-Americanism in Europe"...in which the author/scholar ranted about Bush and the actions of the current regime, as opposed to what actually is causing all this Anti-American sentiment in the seven key states that he analyzes in his book. I went to Whole Foods to look for Dutch-process cocoa again but I was subsequently shown the sweetened hot cocoa mix, yet again! Oh, Dutch-process cocoa powder, I know you exist! and tomorrow when I find you in Pacific Beach, you will be mine, and also in the cookies that will then make for my friends and me! I couldn't walk out of the store empty-handed and so I grabbed a handful of Luna bars and stopped at the bakery case to check out the desserts. They had their lemon meringue tartlettes so I waited until someone came over to wrap one up. This rather cute guy asked if I wanted to try one first, and despite it feeling awkward...I accepted his offer. I told him it was really good and that the lemon curd had just enough 'bite'  and he put one in a clamshell like I had asked originally only he included a key lime tartlette as well. Sooooo sweet. But I can never go back because it'd be too awkward!
Look at the ribbon-y meringue!


I couldn't decide which photo to post and here you have both photos, one of its wholesomeness and another of its innards oozing of sweet and zesty lemon curd!
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Seeing as I spend so much of my free time down in Pacific Beach dancing, I don't spend enough time taking advantage of the awesome restaurants and eateries down there. I miss my adventures in brunch and tacqueria grubbing last year...when I had more free time. Soon enough, I shall make it back to Zanzibar, the Broken Yolk, 976 Feldspar, and various tacquerias so as to 1.) drown my sorrows in food and 2.) take pictures and write about it so as to make you hungry. Roar!

Today, after my 9:30 am class (killer on my sleeping hours!), I walked down Garnet to a tacqueria...should've taken pictures of it in hindsight. But I do have this souvenir:


Drippy-drippy-drip-drip-drip! As soon as I took the yellow parchment parcel out of the paper bag, I knew trouble was to ensue. I assume the watery salsa made the tartar sauce all too runny. It was a mess, but a rather delicious one at that. The fish was a little starchy, for some one reason, and I don't mean the fried batter part. The salsa verde and salsa...roja(?) took my focus away from that detracting quality. All in all, a good $1.61 well spent, even if it left my hands sticky.

"Pistachio"


...but not really. Henry's muffins never disappoint but this time, it did, despite on a different level. This dangerously green muffin looked like it would be surprisingly satisfying...so in I leapt, headlong into this wonderfully textured muffin. You see, the problem with it was that nothing of it emulated 'pistachio', except the color. The sparse sprinkling of nuts were actually chopped pecans. Hmph-- they think they can fool me! Pig doth noth approveth of such nonsense! But I still leave this muffin three stars, for the texture and freshness of Henry's muffins set my standard for quick bread in cuppycake form. 

...to be continued.

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 So at around 1 p.m., Rosie and I set out for Encinitas in search of gastronomical adventure. We had a place in mind, St. Tropez Bakery and Bistro, but it wasn't after a good 30-minute walk through the Encinitas Street Fair that we found the place. As we found out, establishments on the South Coast Highway on the same side of the street can be both even and odd-numbered. How well, odd!

I read good reviews and was expecting some decent culinary delights. 

Let's start off with my almond croissant...

Supposedly the best almond croissant in San Diego. The layers were flaky (almost a little too dry), and the almond filling not too greasy. Twas a light pastry the way it should be. Despite it being voted the best croissant in San Diego, it was no croissant aux amandes from la Boulangerie nor Tartine's croissant frangipane. The edges were overly crisp; if i wanted something this crunchy, I would have opted for a crouton or 10! As I dipped the morsels croquants into my watered-down coffee, I felt a little deceived. 

This here is my mixed-fruit tart. I have had better but the fruit was ripe...maybe sitting in the case for tooo long?


And perhaps the disappointment of the year. Here is a three-layer chocolate mousse cake. Upon the first bite, I tasted dirt, or mold...and an aftertaste of PineSol. Very strange...so I enlisted Rosie's tastebuds to make sure mine were not completely mal-functioning. She had a pretty nasty look on her face for a good while before deciding that it tastes like soap or cleaning liquid. "Like PineSol?" I asked. I speculated how the white chocolate part could have been white truffle mousse, thus yielding such a woodsy taste, but we shot that down upon another bite. The thin layer of cake on the bottom was soaked in a lemon syrup...but still gave off a repugnant taste long after the fine crumbs melted in my mouth. The white chocolate tile atop the chocolate ganache was tasting a little off too. I remember eating a similar piece of mousse cake from my school's cafeteria about a year ago (they like to come out with all these gourmet offerings around finals time), and even that was 10 times better.


It's a shame that the pastries and desserts were such a let-down. because the ambience offers a rather nice change of environment. Pretentious? yeah...especially since St. Tropez, as we found out, is a chain...but nonetheless pleasant. However, we chose outdoor seating, but albeit fresh air, what we also got was terribly loud and feedback-filled live music...after a few attempts at holding a conversation, we relinquished and started the trek back to the car.


And this here, is cute enough to eat too, no?


And this would be Rosie's chocolate croissant and her raspberry tart. No complains from her. She was even contemplating on getting something else, but that soon changed after the mousse cake incident.


And that is all I have for you at the moment. Maybe St. Tropez's bistro offerings are better than its bakery items...maybe...but there are plenty of other San Diegan eateries that I have yet to explore.
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Sunday brunch done right. This is my super delicious but understandably greasy crab melt from The Cottage in downtown La Jolla. I wish every Sunday began like this...rock crab and cheddar on one slab of real-tasting sourdough, with shaved parmesan on reverse side and just-ripe avocado and vegetable trimmings on the other slab, accompanied by egg and potato salad, accented with fennel and parsley. Of course, eaten in the company of good friends and in the charming atmosphere that The Cottage has to offer.


Here is a single origin truffle in the foreground. Of what origin you ask? Sao Tome. Mmm...cacao beans from the tropical jungles on the equator. In the foreground we have 48-52% Bittersweet Belgian (they aren't exactly sure of its cacao content) and in the background, a dark chocolate Lindt truffle and 72% oddly-textured dark chocolate from Croatia. Caffeine and sugar for late-night paper-writing...


Mini key lime tart. What was a little off about this parcel of happiness was the fact that the cream frosting kept its shape regardless; therefore, it was either really stale, or made of something I don't want to know about, i.e. trans-fatty acids...but Whole Foods wouldn't do that to me, would it?


a little cold, a little stale. rather a disappointment in my falafel salad. the roasted mushroom salad (to the left) containing portabello, shitake, and button mushrooms was quite tasty though. 


and a huge piece of tiramisu enough for 3 servings (and costing less than $3):


Tonight (22 April), I had dinner with a few friends in Hillcrest. After much searching, we decided on Bai Yook Thai Cuisine. Here is their coconut and lemongrass soup, with tomato, chicken, and champignon chinois (straw mushrooms cultivated in the paddies of Fujian).


And here is my "Spicy Noodle with beef". It came with a long strand of black hair too, yum! When the waiter asked if there was anything wrong...um, yeah there is something wrong! Of course, they took it back to the kitchen, pulled out the hair, mixed my noodles around a bit, and brought me my plate again. Why such the conclusion? Because my noodles were luke-warm...and rubbery. Had they made me another plate, or even bother to toss the noodles again in a pan, the noodles would not be luke-warm, my friends! Also, when they said 'spicy', there were not kidding. I thought I had a pretty high tolerance for spicyness-i eat my oysters on the shell with at least three squirts of Tabasco, use up my allotted wasabi in sushi restaurants, and eat corn salsa (from Trader Joe's) on a regular basis without wincing. But this load right here...yowser!! Mayhap I have better luck with Thai food in the near future! Update: this afternoon, I came back from a hectic Tuesday, hungry and tired...I warm up some of this contaminated dish, and start chomping. Lo and behold, there was an eyelash stuck to a noodle. Granted it could have been mine, but the texture of the hair suggested differently. Wasting food goes so strongly against my principles...but out went the rest of the takeout carton :/


Here are dark chocolate truffles. To the left is "Vanilla Bourbon", there is a mild hint of bourbon but the smooth dark chocolate shell rather masks the delicate vanilla nature of this truffle. To the right is "Creme Brulee" , a very ingenious invention of the chocolatier. In a ~58% chocolate cup, the Irish chocolatier supposedly filled it with a layer of dulcet caramel, then a generous layer of white chocolate ganache, enclosed it with a layer of dark chocolate and sprinkled golden cane sugar on top. I cannot say it actually tastes like creme brulee, but the truffle affords a symphony of texture, and a harmonious one at that!


stay tuned!

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There's a quaint little dessert haven sandwiched between Olive and Balboa Parks right by downtown San Diego, that carries a hefty name: Extraordinary Desserts. Cordon Bleu and Le Notre-trained Karen Krasne is the innovator behind these delectable works of art. While intriguing to stare at and easy to salivate over, I must get one [thing] off my chest -- these desserts are a little too sweet for my liking, a little to sweet to ever match up to its subtle, sophisticated and highly-refined European counterpart across the Atlantic. Nonetheless, I am ever so grateful for their existence, for they are extraordinary in many façons. 

Tonight after seeing "Cabaret" in which our lovely friend Jessica played Fraulein Kost, Kathryn, Hilary, and I made a dash down to 5th Avenue, before ED closed at midnight.  We made it in the door as [methinks] Karen herself advised to make our decisions as they would be closing in 15 minutes. What an avaricious thought it was to know that some extraordinary dessert, any...one extraordinary dessert would by in my [grubby] hands tonight.

We originally sat outside as the 12 or so tables inside were adopted by fellow dessert tribesmen. But the gaslamps were not working their magic and thus we migrated back inside, tto find an amplitude of light and warmth and also, two tables available for the taking, but bearing such scant scraps as this:


How tempting to get a taste, or nine, how improper it would be, to eat off someone stranger's plate! However, I shall provide you with a description, so as to leave YOU pining to eat off someone's plate, as well. 

I, or rather, Karen Krasne, present you a multi-layered dark chocolate and silky mousse cake, with vanilla-enhanced whipped cream, a ganache frosting, coated with toffee crumble, topped with more melt-in-my-mouth ganache and a sustainably-farmed, picked by a migrant worker organic blackberry, all surrounded by a dreamy moat of Belgian chocolate sauce, crême anglaise, and blackberry compote. Edible luxury at its zenith.

Alright, that was such bs. I really haven't an iota about this cake, having never tried it. But if I had, this is what I would imagine it to be, dreamy, silky, and luxurious!

Here is an awesome creamer filled with about half a cup of half-and-half. About?! I cannot deal with such imprecision! But 'tis alright, little dear creamer, I forgive thy charming self.


The top part of my chocolate-oozing coffee cake, that, dare I say it? ...that I ate without coffee. The sugar alone was enough to keep me up until this late (3 a.m.). Fuscia daisy, chocolate sculpture, and edible gold leaf--who said desserts cannot be made to look so handsome?


This was taken on a prior visit to this kingdom of desserts. Eaten by Lorraine, this croissant bread pudding was diverse as bread pudding can get. Firstly, let us note its superior French origins, in contrast with its typically stale sourdough sister. Secondly, one could experience an entire spectrum of texture, from the crunchy croissant pieces to the softer, custardy chunks, to the ones completely drenched in that marscapone creme. Thirdly, why suffer jetlag from flying to Paris when you have latté in one hand, and spoonfuls of pure croissant bliss in the other?


From the same visit, here is my white chocolate pavlova, with custard in the middle and topped with a variety of berries, dusted with powdered sugar, adorned with rose petals, and gilded with gold. To the left is Lorraine ('s hand) and evidence of her progress, and to the right, Emily's Linzer Torte being fabulous.


And lastly, I leave you with a capture of the display at which one can ogle while standing in line. Very many varieties of 'wonderful' in just a few thousand megapixels. Meow!!


Some of the aspects of this entry, I kid about. Please do not take it to heart, fellow berry pickers (for I, too, was once a blackberry-picker with dreams of  making preserves in the summertime). While Edgar Allen Poe had his spirits, and Balzac, his black coffee, I too have a stimulant to fabricate such writing -- extraordinary desserts. Although, mine could not compare...
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I swear, not every term from now on will  irksomely end in -ery; 'springbreakery' just seemed fitting as I spent a notable amount of time in bakeries and other eateries while in the city.


However, the following is not representative of what I eat daily, or even during my spring break or of all that San Francisco has to offer. The eye tends to be attracted to what's photogenic. Who wants to look at a photo of Chinese stirfry drowning in a greasy swamp that camouflages the solids themselves? Not I, said the glutton mutton.


Anywho, here are some photos and the corresponding descriptions. May your brain wander elsewhere than the menial task at hand and may your belly demand you to do some feasting of your own!


Here is pig at Teuscher ogling at the springtime bunny display. Regrettably, I did not get a picture of the champagne truffles, which at $2 a pop, is not very photogenic, but its beauty does not transcend onto paper, or in this case, onto screen. They are an orgasmic concoction that you must try if you ever find yourself on Sutter Street on San Francisco; I hope your innate truffle radar will scream, "Teuscher!" so as to lead you to these morsels of sin. Utter, ganache-y, champagne-y, 52% chocolate-y sin!



Quilcene oysters raised in Tomales Bay and served here at Hog Island Oyster Bar right on the San Francisco Bay [note the 'cool' lighting most probably from the surroundings of indigo water and azure skies]. They were superbly fresh, but lacked that fermented-algae-oceaney goop that most oysters have, perhaps due to the sustainable farming process in which they are raised. But they hit the spot, as it came with some fine-diced salsa-esque vinaigrette and of course, lemons and limes. It also gave me an excuse to eat less at a dinner out with the extended family at a greasy Chinese restaurant (with greasy carpet to match) two hours later. Oysters so fresh, they are still pretending to filter water in this photo, gurgle, gurgle, splash, splash!! 



The following three images are from Schubert's Bakery on Clement Street. They have a wide assortment of cakes that are not too sweet and are always fresh. Nothing like stale mango mousse cake that you find at an Asian bakery with preservatives that you can taste! Namely the one next to Walgreen's on 22nd Avenue and Irving -- no thanks! Their sliced cake always comes multi-layered, and their staff, friendly. The princess cake is like the non-fat froth on my latté -- light, sumptuous and satisfying!! It's always pleasant to stop here after a long morning of dance, get my Schubert fix, and then hop on the 44 O'Shaughnessy and witness a MUNI bus-driver yell at the hoard of ghetto kids on the back of the bus for being rude and disrespectful, and see the elderly seated at the front smirk and clap before getting off on 9th and Irving for some coffee at either The Canvas (which is closing!) or Arizmendi's (Make Loaves, Not War!). This is San Francisco for you!





Below are Shanghainese steamed dumplings, also known as xiaolongbao. I would have relished them more had I not had hot-and-sour soup spilled all over my lap, which merited a pants-change. Good thing I had an extra pair of sweaty-sweatpants, having come from a morning of dance classes!



Below are yummy pesco-pre-appetizers (amuses-bouches) with fresh dill in ceramic spoons at Farallon. Ferme la bouche avec un amuse-bouche! I don't know how this picture turned out with enough light when the other ones were dimmer than the interior of a church during Easter Vigil before the priest lights the [bonfire]. I told you the interior contrasts with daylight; it does however, set a romantic mood -- just what I needed during a pre-ballet dinner with Mummy-dear!



Hohoho! I have saved the best for last!! Below are pictures taken at La Boulange on Pine Street, next to the Shu Uemura boutique on the corner of Fillmore and Pine. Despite having more than five locations in San Francisco alone, and one in Mill Valley I think, they are not the obnoxious chains you see dotting the San Franciscan cityscape; think Starbucks, fastfood joints, and Walgreen's, no, this is not them. They are authentically French and authentically epicurious, selling a range of delectables from macarons, to tarts, quiches, bread, St. Honoré cake, cupcakes, croissants aux amandes and so much more. Sometimes you can get cashiers who will not understand the French you are putting to use, and at other times, get a baker who will demand, <<quatre dollars!>> The décor here is so français, and the aromas so inviting, it's like a weekend escape to Paris! Miam, miam!!






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