I eat: Mastro’s Steakhouse [3]

When people ask me, “What’s your favorite steakhouse?”, I respond without hesitation, Mastro’s. I’ve been to Wolfgang Puck’s CUT and I’ve been to Peter Luger’s, but in my opinion, Mastro’s blows all of the competition out of the water. The two times I’ve been to Mastro’s, we’ve always ordered steak (specifically the 12oz filet mignon for myself and the 33oz. “chef’s cut” rib-eye for Henry). This time around, I took the parentals out for my mom’s birthday and we ordered two “chef’s cut” rib-eyes as well as a rack of lamb (22oz) and chilean seabass (12oz). Since Mastro’s is a steakhouse, I didn’t expect much from our non-steak entrees, so imagine my surprise when both turned out just as delicious as the beloved steaks! Mastro’s makes a killer rack of lamb; it was perfectly cooked and well seasoned. The chilean seabass was flaky and succulently sweet. While my dad loved the steak, he raved and raved about the seabass. In addition to our entrees, we also ordered lobster mashed potatoes and sauteed spinach. I fell in love with lobster mash during my first visit to Mastro’s and I’ve ordered it every time I’ve returned. Lobster + Potatoes + Butter … what could be better? 😉

Verdict: 5/5
Mastro’s Steakhouse
246 N Canon Dr.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

I make: Chicken Katsu

We wanted to make something quick and easy since we figured we would be tired from a long drive home from Mammoth. I remembered that we had some chicken in the ‘fridge and a box of panko in the pantry, so it was a no-brainer to make chicken katsu. Who doesn’t love a breaded piece of chicken? And btw, panko is far superior than regular bread crumbs since it’s much more crispier.

(yields about 8 servings + rice)
Ingredients:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (each halved to 8 thin pieces)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
1 cup canola oil, or as needed

Directions:
1. Place flour, eggs, and panko in 3 separate shallow dishes.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil (per piece of chicken) in frying pan on medium-high heat.
3. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper on both sides. Dip in flour, then egg, then coat thoroughly with panko bread crumbs.
4. Cook chicken about 4 minutes each side, or until golden brown.
5. Remove chicken and place on paper towel to soak up excess oil.

Serve over rice with katsu/tonkatsu sauce (available in most markets)

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Bon appetit!

Down With The Sickness

I’ve been severely congested for the past few days. My nose is so red and raw from the constant need to shoot out snot, I look like Rudolph. I’m sure this is contagious so I probably shouldn’t have gone to work.

Not only have I been congested, I’ve also had muffled hearing in BOTH ears! I guess I’ve been taking my hearing for granted because I never realized how much it SUCKS to not be able to hear clearly. My boss freaked me out by telling me about his friend who started having muffled hearing one day and never regained full auditory capability. Needless to say, I b-lined to the nearest urgent care center. One look in my ears was all the doctor needed to diagnose me with… ear infections!

Really? Ear infection? How the heck did I get ear infections? The Dr. said it was caused by my prolonged sinus congestion, but I think it was a combination of that + the higher elevation in Mammoth. So, following Dr.’s orders, I’m currently drugged up on Sudafed (12 hour), Ibuprofen, Amoxicillin and Guaifenesin (Mucinex generic). Isn’t taking meds such a drag?

Well, looks like “March Madness” has turned to “March Sickness”.

Note to self: Take it easy, woman. You’re not in college anymore.

Great Escape

A weekend in Mammoth is never enough. It’s always depressing when we have to pack up and go home. I wish I won the lottery so I could stay up here for the whole winter!

The conditions were spring-like this weekend: hard-packed surfaces in the early mornings that turned into slushiness in the afternoon. This was due to temperatures reaching 40-50 degrees during the day (which is super HOT!) and cooling down to 20s at night for the past week or so. Despite dying from the heat while waiting in the lift lines, I was more than pleased with the beautiful clear blue skies and low winds. You win some, you lose some, right?

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Us at the top with Henry’s friends that we met up

We stayed in the Bradley building of Summit Condominums (#246), which is about a 5 minute walk from Eagle Lodge. We found a pretty good deal and booked our 1 bedroom/1 bath condo through 101 Great Escapes. While this was definitely a better experience than the one I had two weeks ago, there were still a few issues with the condo. Being on the 2nd floor, we had to walk up three flights of stairs from the underground parking garage to get to our condo. When you’re exhausted from a full day of boarding and fueled by only a few hours of sleep (or about half an hour in Henry’s case), the last thing you want to do is climb stairs. It would have been nice if the website stated which floor the condo was located, though I’m not sure how much this would have swayed my decision at time of booking since this was the cheapest and best looking condo we found. Best looking was determined by the pictures provided and as I first walked through the condo, I realized that the pictures on the website made the condo look nicer than it really was. I didn’t mind this too much at first because everything seemed clean, but the kitchen was HORRIBLE! All the dishes/utensils/cookware were dirty, and by dirty I mean I found food particles and grease stains. I didn’t go on vacation to clean someone else’s mess!

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Despite the dirty kitchen, we still cooked our meals as usual. I used two recipes from the Cooking Light magazine that I recently bought. Both recipes happened to have bacon; bacon makes everything better, doesn’t it? I did change the recipes slightly, such as using 2% milk instead of non fat and adding more cheese, so I guess I wasn’t really “cooking light”. But hey, there’s nothing wrong with extra cheese. 🙂

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Spicy shrimp and grits

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Bacon, ranch and chicken mac and cheese

I eat: Bouchon

When one of the girls suggested dinner at Bouchon, I immediately jumped on board. I became an avid Thomas Keller fan after my trip to The French Laundry last October, despite the astronomical price tag. Thus, I was eager to try Keller’s more affordable restaurant, Bouchon.

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Bouchon, Las Vegas, is located on the 10th floor of the Venetian. Luckily, we were staying on the 12th floor so walking to the restaurant only took a few minutes. So location itself? FIVE STARS! 🙂

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We were seated promptly for our 6:15PM reservation. Being so early, the restaurant was practically empty. The menu was printed on a parchment-like paper and wrapped around the dinner napkin. Cute points! I had a hard time deciding what to order. It seemed like the menu listed everything I love: lamb, duck, salmon, mussels, gnocchi. I was only able to cut my list down to lamb or duck so I pressed the waiter for his thoughts. He told me he preferred the duck since he loves him some good seared duck breast. Well sir, it just so happens that I too, am a sucker for a good seared duck breast so duck I shall have! Three of us actually ordered the duck, two ordered the moules frites (mussels and fries) and one ordered the salmon. We also shared the french onion soup, potato puree and macaroni gratin.

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We started our meal with the usual bread service and I absolutely loved the butter (as I also did at The French Laundry). The french onion soup, though comforting since it was cold and windy that day, was nothing special; it tasted like any other french onion soup.

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The mussels were very plump and juicy. On the menu, the description read: Maine bouchot mussels steamed with white wine, mustard & saffron. Though I’ve never had this combination before, the sauce didn’t taste like what I had imagined after reading the menu. It actually reminded me of the chicken marsala I just made. The frites were a bit… disappointing. You may be right about most things, Anthony Bourdain, but Bouchon’s fries are not the best things I ever ate. Don’t worry though, I’ll still keep you in high regard.

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The macaroni gratin fell flat as well. Yes, it was cheesy enough, but the flavors just weren’t there. I don’t know, perhaps use a more sharper cheese? The potato puree (no picture available) on the other hand, was straight up smooth buttery goodness! I would be more than happy to consume 3000 calories worth of that in one sitting.

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The waiter was right about the duck being seared beautifully. But that was the only thing good about this dish. The flavors didn’t mesh well, mainly caused by the tart-sweetness of the rhubarb. With all of the other components being mild and savory, I didn’t expect that punch. The sauce eventually grew on me by the end of the meal, but not to the point where I could say that I loved it. Nice try, Chef de Cuisine, Bryan Podgorski. I realize that rhubarb is now in season and I get what you were trying to do, but ultimately the flavor combination was a fail. However, I will commend you for such a perfectly seared duck breast!

We ended the meal by sharing a creme brulee. I’m glad it was delicious, or else I would have had to hurt somebody.

Verdict: 3/5
Bouchon
The Venetian
3355 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109

I eat: Bosa 1

While in Vegas, our attempt to eat brunch at Hash House failed, and Bosa 1 was the next best thing. Bosa 1, a Vietnamese restaurant located about a 10 minute drive from the strip, was recommended by one of the girls. Apparently, she knew the owner’s sister and we actually got a little discount! 🙂

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I love Vietnamese food, especially pho. I basically have it about once a week at my favorite local Vietnamese restaurant. The waiters know my order without me having to say anything; they just ask me, “same?”, and I nod. On rare occasions I like to change it up and spice up my life a little bit, so I order a rice place or another noodle dish.

The restaurant was pretty small, probably seating about 20-30 people. The menu seemed limited compared to other Vietnamese restaurants that I’ve been to. Bosa 1 is known for 2 noodle soups: Bun Bo Hue and Bun Rieu. I’ve had Bun Bo Hue before, and although I love the noodles and spicy soup, I won’t eat the pig leg/feet/knuckles. Thus, I decided to order the Bun Rieu.

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The most important thing of any noodle soup dish is the soup itself. The tomato-based broth of the Bun Rieu had great flavor; I also enjoyed the fried tofu and crumbled shrimp paste. I liked this dish so much that I started ordering it at my local restaurant!

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I’ve never had these kind of spring rolls before. Inside each was a piece of grilled pork, lettuce/greens and fried pieces of eggroll skin (for crunch). Interesting.

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The eggrolls were kind of small, but I guess that was for the best since we were all stuffed from eating everything else! They tasted like I expected them to – I liked the outer crunch.

All in all , a great meal at a reasonable price! The total came out to about $15 each (6 girls).

Verdict: 3.5/5
Bosa 1
3400 S. Jones Blvd #2A
Las Vegas NV 89146

…Won’t You Pack Your Bags, We’ll Leave Tonight!

(…continued from my last post)

I first read about Treehouse Point in Budget Travel’s article: A Treehouse Adventure. It was absolutely perfect timing since I was in the midst of planning our Pacific Northwest adventure. I was so intrigued about living in an actual treehouse, I knew it had to be part of my itinerary. So, Treehouse Point was our next stop after Mt. Rainier.

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Treehouse Point is located in Issaquah, Washington, about 30 minutes east of Seattle. When I stayed at Treehouse Point, there were 2 treehouses (Temple of the Blue Moon and Trillium), the main house, and a tent. Everything was constructed by Pete Nelson aka “the treehouse guy”; he also wrote the book, “New Treehouses of the World”. We stayed in the Temple of the Blue Moon, the most popular choice by couples I would assume. To get to the treehouse, you have to cross this swaying bridge, which was kind of scary no matter what time of day it was. Inside the treehouse, there was a big comfortable bed, a small sitting area and an armoire that supplied music (from ipod) and clean linens. There was also a side door that led out to a porch area. For the most part, I had a good time living in the treehouse, but there were a couple of “issues”. One issue was that the windows did not have any screens to keep bugs out. I mean, I get it… treehouse = living with nature, but it just doesn’t make sense to me to build such a nice “luxury” treehouse, but not pay attention to such details as insect proofing. If I wanted to live freely with bugs, I would just go camping. Also, there was a small (shared) bathroom located outside of the treehouse, which ultimately wasn’t that big of a deal since it does make most sense for the bathrooms to be outside; I just didn’t realize beforehand how inconvenient this would be. Continental breakfast was included with our stay, but the selection was very minimal. However, the pastries that Pete’s wife made were very delicious!

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Since we were in the area, of course we had to check out another waterfall! Snoqualmie Falls was beautiful from the observation deck, but we decided to also hike down to the river to get a different view. I love waterfalls 🙂

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Growing up, I was fascinated with planes … So, of course I made a trip to the Museum of Flight during our time in Washington.

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Great exhibits, lots of material to cover, fun simulators – I loved the Museum of Flight! We drove into Seattle afterward and explored the Pioneer Square and International District area. While walking to Green Leaf Vietnamese Restaurant for dinner, I swear I witnessed a drug deal going down. Um, sketchy area.

The next day we explored downtown Seattle before taking a stroll around Green Lake Park. I was surprised by the amount of people outside during the day – I would love to be able to exercise around Green Lake Park everyday since the scenery is so soothing and calming and it is the perfect distance, about 3 miles around. There are so many activities you can do: running/walking, biking, skating, swimming and boating (you can rent pedal boats and canoes).

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Being so entranced by Green Lake Park, I was ecstatic that I was going to be living across the street! We stayed in the Greenlake Room of the Greenlake Guesthouse. This was definitely one of the best B&B’s I’ve ever stayed at. Everything you needed was either in your room or just a few steps outside your room. The bed was so comfortable, it was hard to get out of bed in the morning and we definitely used the jacuzzi tub in our bathroom every night. The large bookcase in the hallway held a wide array of DVDs and there was a mini fridge on the other side stocked with water and drinks (genius!). Breakfast was light, yet filling and pastries and fruit were available all day in case you needed a snack.

Seattle is breathtakingly beautiful and it was such a pleasure to walk around its most popular areas. Yes, Pike Place Market is very crowded and touristy, but there are so many great food shops. I bought some cheesecakes from Confectional and a few bottles of flavored olive oil from Sotto Voce. I had clam chowder with a crab roll at Pike Place Chowder and for dessert, I had gelato at Bottega Italiano. I also got a front row view of the fish tossing, which to me is synonymous with Pike Place Market. Too bad I couldn’t get a clear picture of the fish in the air!

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I also visited the Seattle Public Library because I heard so much about its architecture and interior decor. I walked to the library from Pike Place Market because on the map, it didn’t look too far away, but the map wasn’t detailed enough to tell me that I would be walking UPHILL for about 5 blocks! I guess the sweat was worth it because the library was amazing! Bonus: padded seats near bookshelves. I wish the libraries I went to when I was younger had these.

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I had two last minute changes to our intinerary: dinner at Art of the Table and a sunset kayak tour with Alki Kayak Tours. Being that these were last minute additions, it’s funny how these two events became the highlights of our trip! Definitely meant to be, right?

Art of the Table, home of the “weekend supper club”, is located in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle. The supper club is an intimate dining experience, with seating for about only 18 people. There were several tables for 2, a couple for 4 and one large table that seated 6. The kitchen was open for anyone to walk through to the backyard garden or to take pictures of Chef Dustin Ronspies working his magic (like I did). Before dinner, Chef Ronspies provided us with a brief introduction about himself, his background and his passion for using fresh and local ingredients. Most of his supper clubs are themed and when I dined, it was all about the Mediterrenean. As we began each course, he shared the inspiration behind the dish. It was fascinating to hear his stories of traveling the world, especially since they revolved around food. I thoroughly enjoyed the meal, from beginning to end. Everything was so fresh and delicious, but the one thing that stood out the most was the saffron ice cream. WOW! Talk about save the best for last.

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I usually don’t like booking “tours”, which was why I didn’t initially sign up for the sunset kayak tour with Alki Kayak Tours. I’ve always thought of tours as being too expensive for something you could do yourself for free, with a little bit of research. But I couldn’t get the image of the Seattle skyline during sunset out of my head so I bit my lip and reserved our spots only 2 days in advance. I’m sure glad I did because how can you say no to this?

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Doesn’t Seattle look so beautiful at night?

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I love how the lights reflect against the water 🙂

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Seattle Eats & Drinks (+my verdict):
Mr. Gyros, 4/5
Canlis, 3/5
Bottega Italiano, 3/5
Paseo, 5/5
Art of the Table, 5/5
The Confectional, 5/5
Pike Place Chowder, 3/5
Cafe Presse, 4/5
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This was such a wonderful trip. I can’t wait to go back.