On Moving Forward

“How were you able to tell me that you love me while you were seeing someone else?” I asked.

“I just pretended,” he replied, matter-of-factly.

At the time, that wasn’t enough for me. For someone who relies so heavily on logic and reason, someone who believes in the universal law of cause and effect, I needed a thorough explanation that connected all the dots and made sense. But what I eventually learned from this experience with H is that no one owes you an explanation, not even the person that you loved for the majority of a decade. You can bury yourself in the how’s and why’s or you can move on realizing that an explanation of any sort would just be a band aid, not a cure all for your pain.

Don’t get me wrong, I still believe that everything happens for a reason, but instead of letting that reason hold me back, I’m learning to let go and move forward.

I eat: La Vecchia Cucina

I’ve been feeling stressed out lately, now that I have both work and school, so I took two days off two weeks ago and had myself a staycation in LA. I made sure to fill my days off with gluttony. From ice cream to chicken wings to a DineLA dinner, I did a whole lot of eating!

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Coffee Moo (salted butter saramel with coffee) from Mother Moo

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Linguine for days at Maccheroni Republic

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TEBASAKI!!! ♡

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Kimchi spam musubi

And what better way to end an extended weekend than with a DineLA dinner!

I usually have a hard time choosing restaurants for DineLA. I’ve spent hours before browsing through menus and reading reviews on Yelp, Open Table, and Urbanspoon. Yes, I do my due diligence. But this time, it was a breeze. One look at an Instagram picture of uni pasta from La Vecchia Cucina and I was sold. What can I say? I’m a sucker for uni pasta. I did check the menu though, just to cover my bases 😉

We managed to snag the window seat. TOTES romantic! And fantastic lighting for pictures! Since I looked at the menu beforehand, I already knew what I wanted…

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Capriccio Imperiale

Well executed. The lemon vinaigrette was light and refreshing, which provided a great starting point for the meal. Although the seafood was cooked properly, I wish the ratio of the different seafood was more balanced.

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Spaghetti All Ricci di Mare

Not bad, but def not the best uni pasta I’ve had. There was only one piece of uni and not enough sauce. However, the spaghetti was cooked perfectly.

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Affogato

No complaints, but honestly, I’m not sure how anyone can mess this up…

La Vecchia Cucina was my only opportunity to experience DineLA this time around and overall, I was pleased with my meal. I can’t say there were any aspects that I particularly LOVED, but I would definitely come back to try the other pastas on the menu.

Verdict: 3.5/5
La Vecchia Cucina
2654 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA 90405

Tupperware Tuesday: Not Just Lunch

Tupperware Tuesday, a real look at the food I make each week. No fancy cameras, no lightbox contraption, no perfect angles. Just what’s for lunch.


OK, I know. Bringing breakfast, lunch, and dinner? I should just blow up an air mattress and sleep here! Seriously.

Last week, I attempted to do Whole 30, but failed miserably due to poor planning. When you’ve lived your whole life in non-compliance, it’s hard to turn that around in one day. But that’s my problem, I guess. I commit to things too easily and without much thought.

So instead of Whole 30, I browsed the internet for Paleo-friendly meals…

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Breakfast: Sweet Potato, Apple and Pancetta Bacon Hash (Whole 30 approved!)

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Lunch: Zoodles with Meatballs

I finally broke out my Paderno Spiral Vegetable Slicer. Yes, it’s been 10 months… This baby is seriously the best thing EVER! SO easy to use. SO easy to clean. And the best part is, I don’t even miss REAL pasta!

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Dinner: Pork Loin and Butternut Squash Stew

OK, I know the stew looks like shit, but let me assure you, it is delicious! And it tasted better the next day after reheating. This pretty much applies to all stews. It’s basically science (and good eats!). Alton Brown said so.

Another Try

I don’t consider myself a picky eater, but there are certain foods I will not eat.

Celery. Cilantro. Peas.
Yuck. Yuck. Yuck.

And for the longest time, avocados were the list. Why? I’m really not sure. I just… didn’t like them!

Call it a maturing palate, reevaluation of life, whatever, but in this past year, I seem to have forgotten my dislike of avocados. I ordered a salad with avocado. Not bad. I ate poke with avocado. Pretty good. Now I’m adding avocados to breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Love!

Unlike celery and cilantro, avocados don’t have a strong flavor; they won’t overpower a dish, ever. The creamy texture provides a richness that is a perfect substitute for butter and mayo. I guess you can say the same for peas, but I’m not ready for that yet. Baby steps…

2014-07-12 12.27.34 1My usual Saturday mornings… avocado toast, Stumptown cold coffee brew, and reading

Back in the Kitchen

Since I’m not driving to LA every weekend, I have time to cook. Like real food, guys!

I’m still cooking for the week, but it’s so much easier now cooking for one instead of two. And THANK GOD for the dishwasher! The one downside is my tiny kitchen, but hey, I’m used to having no counter space.

Here are some meals I’ve made in the past few weeks:

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2014-06-24_05-15-01Enchilada Chicken Stew

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And here’s me trying to get fancy…

2014-06-24_05-28-12Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Polenta, Nectarines, Collard Greens, Balsamic Reduction

This dish was inspired by a friend from college who is actually a chef, unlike myself. She posted a picture and I thought it would be easy to recreate… well, easier than anything else she has posted. I’m sure mine didn’t taste nearly as good as hers, but good job, good effort right???

Two

It was 1996.
Dolly the sheep was successfully cloned.
Mad Cow Disease hit Britain.
I started watching hockey.

I turned on the TV one day and hockey happened to be on. Normally I would have changed the channel, but for some reason I felt compelled to keep watching.

It was Kings vs. Avalanche. The game was fast-paced. The scoring went back and forth. The Kings won in OT! I was hooked!

And though the Kings didn’t make the playoffs that year, I became a fan. Two months later, I watched the Avs raise the Cup and wondered when I would see the Kings do so. Little did I know that it would take 16 years and a revolving door of goaltenders…

Hrudey
Dafoe
Storr
Fiset
Chabot
Legace
Potvin
Passmore
Huet
Cechmanek
Garon
Labarbera
Cloutier
Burke
Brust
Aubin
Ersberg

Quick

The highlight of those years, a memory that I often replayed in my head, was when Adam Deadmarsh eliminated the Red Wings in OT.

It was that memory that I recalled after Jarret Stoll scored the OT goal against the Canucks in 2012. Instead of losing Game 7 of the next round, the Kings went on to win the Stanley freakin’ Cup! In historic fashion no less!

Two seasons later, the Kings are champs again, making even more history this time around!

Two championships.
My team.
The Kings.

Is this real life?

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Yes. Yes it is.

Recover

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Blow by blow
Honest in every way I know
You appear
To face a decision I know you fear

And if I recover
Will you be my comfort?
Or it can be over
Or we can just leave it here
So pick any number
Choose any color
I’ve got the answer
Open the envelope

I’ll give you one more chance
To say we can change or part ways
And you take what you need
And you don’t need me

I’ll give you one more chance
To say we can change our old ways
And you take what you need
And you know you don’t need me

And you know you don’t need me

Bang Bang

So many firsts today!

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First time at a shooting range
First time shooting a rifle
First time using real bullets

I’ve shot a revolver before, but it was with wax bullets and we were doing trick shots. That was my first time ever shooting a gun and I had no idea what I was doing. It was purely beginners luck that I was able to hit any targets at all! Like a card thrown in the air…

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Actually aiming and hitting targets today was much more gratifying. The sound of the bullet hitting the metal target was like music to my ears!

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Initially, I was hesitant to shoot because I was afraid of the recoil, but it wasn’t bad at all. I had to sit down and shoot though because I just didn’t have the strength or steadiness to shoot standing up. I’m so weak!

Henry has been wanting to get a gun for quite some time and now I understand why. So much FUNSIES!

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I’m definitely looking forward to going back to shoot again. But geeez, such an expensive hobby…

On Changes

We can’t be afraid of change. You may feel very secure in the pond that you are in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know that there is such a thing as an ocean, a sea. Holding onto something that is good for you now, may be the very reason why you don’t have something better. – C. JoyBell C.

The past year has been a time of change for me. Physically, mentally, emotionally.

I kicked off the year by continuing my pursuit of becoming fit and living a more healthy lifestyle. I achieved this through…

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endless tucking at Pure Barre

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my new-found obsession with inversions (and love for yoga)

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Getting back into shape wasn’t the biggest change of the year. It was moving down to San Diego for work.

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Despite the positives of living in San Diego, I’ve had a hard time adjusting. It’s been four months and I still don’t feel connected to my new home. Every chance I get, I go back to LA to see my family, friends and Henry. There is nothing that keeps me in SD. Nothing. It could have been an easier transition if I had a friend here who had an established social circle that he/she could introduce me to. Or maybe if I lived in the same area as most of my coworkers.

Before I made the move, I thought I would love living alone. I envisioned Bruce Willis screaming out “Freedom” in Braveheart. Um, negatory. Living alone SUCKS, especially after living with someone for the past 7 years. Living alone doesn’t lessen responsibilities, it increases them tenfold.

Who is going to move a 100 lb box of furniture into the living room and build it? Me.
Who is lugging 10 bags of groceries from the car to the 3rd floor? Me.
Who is lugging trash from the 3rd floor to the garage? Me.
Who is doing all the household chores? Me.

And while this whole experience has been mostly a pain, I owed it to myself to live alone at least once in my life. I needed to understand what it was like to not rely on anyone, to do things myself and for myself. Because only then would I be able to truly appreciate cohabitation with Henry. It’s kind of like how you need to learn to love yourself before loving others 🙂

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Whistler 12/26/2013

Speaking of Henry, we got past the “seven year itch”. Barely. We were broken up for a bit. Our relationship had been on cruise control for the past few years and as a result we got too comfortable. We mistook living with each other as spending quality time together. It’s not. We also mistook talking to each other because we lived together as communication. It’s not. So as painful as it was, having that short time apart was a good thing for us because we learned these important lessons.

As if making a big move, transitioning to a new job, and going through relationship issues weren’t enough to deal with, I had a health scare about a month ago. I found 3 enlarged nodes in my neck. After an ultrasound and 11 vials of blood (9 in one day!), my Dr. said that it’s likely not cancer or anything serious. I’ll continue to monitor the nodes and decide in a month or so whether I should go forward and get a biopsy… just in case.

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2013 has been rough, especially the last half of the year. So on this last day of 2013, I am happy to say, good riddance!

Hello, 2014!

Comfortable, adj.

After nearly half a year (if not more) of not picking up my Kindle except to recharge the battery (because you know, you always gotta be prepared), I decided to do some reading this weekend. I fully intended to finish Game of Thrones but The Lover’s Dictionary showed up first on my list having been the last ebook I purchased. What can I say? I’m fickle.

I started the book late Friday night and continued today after Pure Barre. As I finished the book, I could not help thinking about my own relationship.

The first word that comes to mind to describe my relationship?

Comfortable.

I recently had a conversation with another couple about a fight they had. He wanted to work out with her. She didn’t want to work out at all. His rationale was that if he went alone, it would mean more time away from her, more time that’s not spent together.

That’s interesting, I thought. Henry and I see each other in the morning and then not until about 11PM at night. I have work. He has school. We both work out at night. Henry also works during the day most weekends and our weekend nights are spent either grocery shopping or cooking. I never thought of this as a problem until somebody else pointed it out as a potential problem in their own relationship.

Is this a result of being together almost 7 years? Did I care before and not so much now?

Are we comfortable, or too comfortable?

Tupperware Tuesday: Stir-Fried Lemongrass Chicken

Tupperware Tuesday, a real look at the food I make each week. No fancy cameras, no lightbox contraption, no perfect angles. Just what’s for lunch.


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Adapted from Cooking Light, January 2013.

I substituted chicken breast for chicken thighs since I’m really not a big fan of dark meat. I don’t mind it so much if it was fried, but then again, practically anything is good fried! This was the first recipe I made with lemongrass that didn’t involve broth. I was kind of clueless about what to do with the lemongrass, but that’s what YouTube is for! amiright???

Unless you want a big block of rice noodles in your tupperware, I would recommend vermicelli noodles. However, if you’re making this recipe for dinner then I would serve with thicker noodles.

Peanut Butter Jelly Time!

I have rekindled my love affair with PB&J burgers. If they’re on the menu (and the likelihood of this is pretty high now-a-days), I’ll order one. If I can create my own burger, you bet I’ll turn it into some variation of PB&J. I mean, I really can’t help myself. The sweet, savory combination just makes so much sense to me!

I think it all started in 2008. Henry and I were at Teddy’s Bigger Burger in Oahu and the guy at the register suggested we give a new burger a try. It wasn’t on the regular menu or even the specialty burger menu. He just… made it up. “Just trust me”, he said. And we did. The burger had peanut butter, grilled pineapple, bacon, fried onion rings and cheddar cheese. It was amazing. Life changing. I knew bacon made everything better, but peanut butter and pineapple? Who knew?!

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I loved that burger at Teddy’s so much, I recreated it at The Counter… this time with caramelized onions for extra sweetness!

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Recently, I had the Peanut Butter & Jealousy burger at Slater’s 50/50. It was different than the peanut butter and pineapple burgers for sure, not only because of the fruit (pineapple vs strawberry), but also because of the texture (slice of pineapple vs jam). I liked the traditional combination of peanut butter and strawberry jam, but felt the burger needed some crunch.

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What was lacking in the Peanut Butter & Jealous burger, I found in the Dee Snider burger at Grill ‘Em All…

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Crunchy peanut butter?!? Genius!

If you know of a burger joint that serves a great PB&J burger, please let me know! It doesn’t have to be local. Will travel for food. 😉

Tupperware Tuesday: Spicy Thai Basil Chicken

Tupperware Tuesday, a real look at the food I make each week. No fancy cameras, no lightbox contraption, no perfect angles. Just what’s for lunch.


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Adapted from Cooking Light, January 2013.

I found this recipe in the January 2013 issue and I’ve already made it a several times! A couple times as lettuce wraps (using Boston Bibb) and a couple times, as pictured above, mixed with quinoa. Both lettuce and quinoa provide a nice contrast in texture and a balance to the flavorful ground chicken and bell peppers. And while lettuce is great when I want to go low carb, I seriously love me some quinoa. I really don’t understand why Henry doesn’t like it. Quinoa is the best thing ever! I think I appreciate it more because it’s not as heavy as say, brown rice, and more importantly, doesn’t give me heartburn.

Tupperware Tuesday: Maple & Soy-Glazed Steak

Tupperware Tuesday, a real look at the food I make each week. No fancy cameras, no lightbox contraption, no perfect angles. Just what’s for lunch.


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Adapted from Cooking Light, March 2010.

I made the steak pretty much as directed except I used tri-tip, which was on sale at Fresh & Easy, and significantly increased the amount of Sriracha. I also made extra marinade to toss with whole wheat thin spaghetti. Since I had left over baby spinach, I sandwiched leaves between the steak and spaghetti, drizzling extra sauce over to finish. The heat from the microwave wilted the spinach just enough to take away the raw taste.

I loved the sauce. I definitely saved this recipe just for the sauce.

First

This is officially my first real post of 2013. I’ve been trying to finish my Foodcation 2012 posts for like the last 3 months. FAIL.

Since my vacation in September, I’ve started a new workout schedule, come to the realization that I no longer want to live in NYC, gone to Mammoth twice and attended a funeral.

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Part of my workout schedule consists of Pure Barre classes Tue, Thur, Fri-Sun. I started Pure Barre classes when I saw a friend post on FB about how great of a workout it was. At that time, I hadn’t worked out consistently in a very, very long time. I would run on sporadic occasions, but was never able to maintain a schedule. This really all changed with Pure Barre. One class and I was hooked. I’m about to finish my 5th month and be part of 100 club (100 classes completed)! I’ve made it this far and plan to continue because I absolutely love the workout and the class schedule just fits perfectly with my work schedule. And though I’ve taken classes for a while now, the exercises are still challenging. They haven’t gotten any easier. TRUST. If you take a class and don’t feel the burn, you’re probably not doing it right or you’re not working hard enough!

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In addition to Pure Barre, I’ve been taking Turbo Kick classes on Mon and Wed at 24Hr Fitness. I used to take these classes like 3 years ago, but stopped because of my work schedule. Now, 3 years later, the class schedule has changed and I’m back! I loved it then and I still love it now. The best part is that Turbo Kick doesn’t feel like a workout, but I always leave the class DRENCHED in sweat!

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J, A and I visited V in NYC this past December. It was a great trip filled with delicious food and late night talks. It was also an eye opening experience for me. I was in love with the city after my first few visits. I was in tourist mode. Everything was new and exciting. I loved the fast paced nature of NYC. I wanted to move there! But my love has waned after subsequent visits. This last visit made me realize that at this point in my life, living in NYC is not for me. First, I don’t think I could afford to live comfortably AND enjoy the finer things in life. I don’t want to share an apartment with anyone and I don’t want to live in tiny studio apartment. I do want to go out and try all the fantastic restaurants and maybe catch a Broadway show, hockey game or the Opera sometime. Living in NYC and not being able to enjoy it is pointless. Second, I’ve always thought that NYC public transportation was really great. And to a certain extent, it is. But from my last visit, I realized that it’s not as fast as I previously thought. On my last day I went to Laduree in the UES and round trip from Stuyvesant Town with a stop at Halal Cart took over an hour and half. Third, Henry hates NYC. So yea, for now, I’m fine with just visiting NYC and delicious food like…

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Uni at Soto

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Pork and Crab Soup Dumplings at Joe’s Shanghai

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SmokeShack and Frozen Custard at Shake Shack

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Miso Black Cod at Gotham Bar & Grill

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Halal Cart!! We had this twice during our trip and I even brought two orders home!

Right before my trip to NYC, Henry and I had our first Mammoth trip of the season. And seriously, what a difference a season makes…

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It was early December, but coverage was great since it dumped the weeks before. I’m happy I rekindled my love for Mammoth’s backside!

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Our 2nd trip to Mammoth was during MLK weekend.

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We were fortunate to stay with our new snowboarding pals, B and P. They’re great to ride with because they’re fast and they have endurance! And they have the cutest, most well-behaved dog ever!

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Henry doesn’t want any dog besides a Husky or Chow Chow so for now, I’ll just have to obsessively lurk on Instagram for Bulldog or Corgi pictures. 🙂

And onto the sad news. Last week, I attended Henry’s grandma’s funeral. She lived a full life, for sure, passing away at the age of 100. It’s really sad to think that she won’t be at our wedding, I mean, if we decide to have one that is. Henry’s cousin liked to joke that I was grandma’s favorite. And while that probably isn’t true, it was nice to feel the love from her when she would hold my hand while we watched TV. RIP ♥

Foodcation 2012: R&R

…continued from the 3rd leg of Foodcation 2012

The last destination of Foodcation 2012 was Mont Tremblant, a beautiful mountain resort about an hour north of Montreal. We came here for some R&R… well, our form of R&R anyway.

Mont Tremblant offers a variety of summer and winter activities for adults and kids. We really had trouble narrowing down the list, but we ended up picking two: Via Ferrata and Go Kart!

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I would describe via ferrata as… assisted rock climbing. A steel cable, in which you hook yourself onto, runs throughout the entire route. There are also iron bars, steps, ladders and bridges that aid in your ascent, or descent. No rock climbing experience is necessary, but I would suggest that one be in good physical condition.

There are three options available at Mont Tremblant:

1. The Excursion – 500 meters, approx 3 hours including 20 minute walk back to departure point
2. The Excursion (family) – same length and time as above, but allows for younger children
3. The Grande Virée – 1000 meters, approx 5 hours including 40 minute walk back to departure point

We went with the Grande Virée!

The tour started with a short walk from the activity center to our first obstacle (below). After a brief introduction of via ferrata and explanation of the basics, we climbed up and crossed the wooden plank bridge.

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On the other side of the bridge, we were given additional instructions and had an opportunity to get more comfortable with hooking and unhooking our carabiners.

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Then we were pretty much on our own … eeeekkkk!!

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My legs felt kind of wobbly after the climb, which made the hike back to the activity center a little difficult. I slipped and fell a couple of times!

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We did it!!!!!

Via ferrata at Mont Tremblant was a really cool activity. It was fun AND safe! Sure, I got nervous a few times, but I’m just a wuss 😉 The one time I did seriously panic was when I was trying to climb up a rock wall and my bungee lanyards got twisted up with an iron bar. This prevented me from hooking my carabiner onto the next iron bar and I was sort of stuck in limbo. I spent so much energy trying to sort everything out that I was too exhausted to climb up any further. Luckily, a man in the tour group was able to help me to the top of that wall.

Speaking of my tour group, there were 4 couples (including us) and we were definitely the youngest! All were French-Canadian and spoke French most of the time (even our tour guide) except when speaking to us. At the beginning of the tour, our guide apologized in advance for her English. You could definitely tell that English was her second language, but I didn’t have any problems understanding her.

A tip: Rock climbing gloves aren’t listed on the “What to Wear” list, but I definitely recommend them or whatever gloves that will protect your hands without compromising on grip.

The next day, we went go karting!

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I ain’t gonna lie. This activity was more for Henry. I mean, racing is fun and all, but I’m definitely NOT a speed demon. Quite frankly, I was terrified of fish tailing out of control or crashing or some combination of the two.

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We paid for 2 sessions and I think it was about 5/6 laps per session. But I was so slow, I had 1 less each time. 😦 I was very timid and hesitant during the first session so it was no surprise that I finished last. Well.. ok, so I still finished last in the 2nd session, but I improved my fastest lap by almost 30 seconds!

A tip: Layer up! Even when sunny, it could get cold since it’s outside.

Since go karting didn’t take up that much time, we had the rest of the day to explore Mont Tremblant.

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Fun activities right outside our balcony

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Such a cute mountain town

We took the gondola up…

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… and hiked to the panoramic lookout. Taking the panorama picture below was actually pretty painful because it was EXTREMELY WINDY AND COLD at the top of the lookout. I could barely breathe. After a quick picture, we continued hiking until we reached the next lookout point.

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We didn’t hike for too long since during the summer the gondola closes around 5PM so we made sure we got back in time for a ride down. It was still bright outside and I didn’t want to end the day so I convinced Henry to squeeze in one more activity: Skyline Luge!

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I first noticed the Skyline Luge the day we arrived; the luge course was right outside our balcony. I became more interested when we passed by on the way to the gondola. It looked like so much fun! Henry, on the other hand, wasn’t really interested because he thought it looked too childish. But after a bit of whining from yours truly, he caved and you know what… he’ll be the first to tell you that he’s so glad he did!!!!

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Taking the lift to the beginning of the course

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Luges

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Oh, hellooooo

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Luge course

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Skyline Luge’s tagline is spot on: Once is NEVER enough!

——–

The next day, we set out for a SEVEN hour drive back to Buffalo. We didn’t leave as early as we should have so we barely made our flight. I was so so so stressed out!!! Note to self: no more long ass drives!

Foodcation 2012 was wonderful. All the food we consumed was delicious, but I especially enjoyed our time outdoors at Mont Tremblant. Instead of Foodcation 2013, I’m considering a trip to Banff or going back to Mt. Rainier. Any tips or hiking trail recommendations for Banff are appreciated! 🙂

Foodcation 2012: Gluttony

…continued from the 2nd leg of Foodcation 2012

Our next destination was Montreal. Flights were really expensive between Toronto and Montreal ($700+ roundtrip for 2) so I had decided that driving would the best option. However, I didn’t realize, or rather, I didn’t think to check how much gas cost in Canada.

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Yikes

With the exchange rate at the time, this came out to about $5.26 or so for regular! This was when I thought $4.20 for regular at home was crazy!! As far as total cost was concerned, it was definitely still cheaper to drive, but I’m sure Henry would have rather flown than drive 5 hours to Montreal and 7 hours back to Buffalo at the end of our trip.

When you drive through Ontario, Canada, you will find these cool, modern rest stops with gas, food, restrooms and free WiFi! The best part… they were CLEAN!

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ONroute… get it? hehe 🙂

After about 5.5 hours on the road, we finally checked into our room at Hotel du Fort. This was probably the most dated hotel we’ve ever stayed in.

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Exhibit A

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Somebody please explain this to me…

Now, this doesn’t mean we had a bad experience. Our room was really big, the location of the hotel was great, the bed was comfortable, the towels and linens were clean… I mean, you really shouldn’t need much else right? Anyway, we got a great deal that included parking so I was happy with our experience. My only issue with Hotel du Fort was that the hallway seriously smelled like ASS. Only the hallway!

The main reason we came to Montreal was Au Pied de Cochon and this is where we had dinner our first night.

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We wanted to order so many things, but our waitress put her foot down and said no. It’s a good thing she did. Everything was rich and heavy, even the clams! It was really difficult to finish our meal.

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Clams (appetizer special of the night)
Foie Gras Poutine
PDC’s Melting Pot
Duck in a Can

Given the foie gras ban in California, I wanted to consume as much foie gras as possible at PDC. So obviously, I was a little disappointed when we finalized our order and I knew we would only have a couple of pieces (in the Poutine and Duck in a Can). Turns out, it was more than enough.

For first timers to PDC, I definitely recommend the Melting Pot since it gives you a little bit of everything: pork belly, pork loin, pork sausage and boudin noir served over creamy mashed potatoes. Man, I love me some blood sausage! The Foie Gras Poutine was just how I imagined: cheesy, creamy, melt in your mouth goodness.

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By the time we were served, Duck in a Can (the can is opened table-side), I was already stuffed. So stuffed, in fact, that I actually found it to be unappetizing after a couple of bites. Blasphemy, I know. First of all, I’m not a fan of fat that isn’t rendered down so the huge slab of fat on top of the duck breast? Yuck. Second, the duck breast itself wasn’t as tender as I thought it would be. And lastly, I prefer my foie gras pan seared. Apparently, I was the only one that felt this way because Henry really enjoyed this signature dish. To each his own.

Because we felt extremely guilty after eating this overly indulgent meal and also because I wanted some coffee, we rented bikes from BIXI and rode to a cafe that was open late.

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Umm yea… no English option 😦

It’s a good thing we rode bikes in DC because had I not been familiarized with the rental process, I would have no idea what was on the screen. And by the way, not only are the BIXI kiosks in French, the street parking signs are as well AND IN MILITARY TIME!

The next day was a mixture of eating and exercising. We rode our BIXI bikes to lunch spot #1, Resto La Banquise.

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La Petite vie (ground beef, onions & corn)
La T-Rex (ground beef, pepperoni, bacon & hot-dog sausages)

When in Canada, right? 😉 I ♥ poutine!

I used to think that Henry and I had big appetites, but watching everyone around us finish their poutine while we struggled to finish half of ours made me think otherwise.

After checking delicious poutine off our list, we rode our bikes to lunch spot #2: Schwartz’s.

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There was absolutely no way we could each eat a sandwich, so we decided to share. Sharing is caring.

At Schwartz’s, you have three options for your smoked meat: lean, medium or fatty. We left it up to our waiter and as you can see above, we got fatty. Personally, I would have ordered either lean or medium, but Henry likes the fattyness so I compromised. The meat was flavorful and tender and to my surprise, I actually enjoyed the fattier cut. Now, I have to say, Schwartz’s smoked meat > Katz’s pastrami. I would’ve thrown Langer’s into the mix, but I’ve never had a plain pastrami there so it wouldn’t be a fair comparison. Another thing in Schwartz’s favor is the price! A sandwich at Schwartz’s only sets you back $6.30 CAD while a sandwich at Katz’s is more than double at $15.95.

To fight off food coma, we rode our bikes to Mount Royal and hiked up to the summit. There are quite a few trails you can take up to the summit and I’m pretty sure we took the most difficult way up.

We started at the Sir George-Étienne Cartier Monument…

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… followed random trails…

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… until we reached Camilien-Houde Lookout…

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See Olympic Stadium in the distance?

We thought this was it and started our hike back down when a local informed us that we hadn’t actually reached the summit and that there was another lookout. So, on we went. Once at the summit, we were rather disappointed to find that it didn’t offer any views so we started our trek down to the famous Mount Royal Cross via Ch. Olmsted…

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So so so pretty at night when illuminated

… from the cross, we hiked through what seemed to be a forest…

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… until we found the Chalet and Kondiaronk Lookout…

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Much better view!!

I’m really glad we continued from the first lookout because at that point, I wasn’t impressed and pretty much felt that the hike wasn’t worth it. But taking in Montreal from Kondiaronk Lookout totally made up for it!

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Hiking down Mount Royal towards the Rue Peel entrance was so much easier with the stairs. If you’re OK with stairs, this is definitely the fastest way to and from the Kondiaronk Lookout. The leisurely way would be to follow Ch. Olmsted all the way around.

Check out Henry’s shirt after our hike…

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A new deadmau5 shirt! hahahhahahahahahhahahhahaa

Our last dinner in Montreal was at Joe Beef. Unfortunately, it was so damn dark in there, we left without any good food pictures 😦

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So, here’s my beef with Joe Beef. The menu is written in French on a chalkboard and only the chalkboard. This meant that before we could even sit down (in cramped quarters, nonetheless), we had to stand behind people eating at the bar, look up at the chalkboard and try to translate the menu so that we could have an idea of what to order.

It is dark.
The chalkboard is small.
The menu is extensive.
I DON’T KNOW FRENCH.
WHY SO DIFFICULT!?!?!

We were able to make out some foie gras items (ie. Foie Gras Double Down, Parfait de Foie Gras), but PDC foie gras’d us out so we kept looking. After 5 minutes or so of cranking our necks to look at the chalkboard, I gave up and we took our seats. I was really hoping our waiter could help us out with a recommendation, but unfortunately, our waiter wasn’t much help. Like, AT ALL. When we asked for his recommendation, he actually said he didn’t like giving recommendations. WTF?!?!?! Instead, he referred us to the specials for 2 that night: suckling pig and lamb shank. We got the lamb shank. It was… OK…

After a disappointing dinner, we walked down to the Starbucks on the corner for some coffee and to get a Montreal Starbucks Cup. Yes, I collect them!!! 😀

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Tip: half and half is Creme 10%

——–

The next morning, we prepared for the last leg of Foodcation 2012. I didn’t know if we would find any markets near our last destination so we picked up some groceries a block away from our hotel. As we were walking back to the car lugging several heavy bags, a bottle of olive oil somehow fell out of one of the bags, shattered right by my feet and showered my legs with oil.

Awesome.

… to be continued.

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Montreal Eats (+our verdict):
Au Pied de Cochon, 3.5/5
Resto La Banquise, 4/5
Schwartz’s, 4.5/5
Joe Beef, 3/5

Foodcation 2012: Lobsta, eh?

… continued from the 1st leg of Foodcation 2012

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Crossing the border into Canada was pretty much a breeze (in contrast to returning to the US). It could have gone even more smoothly if Henry was able to answer the border agent himself when she asked, “What is your business in Canada?”. Sure, Henry can easily remember lines from Predator, Commando, and every Rambo and Rocky movie, but simple vacation plans? No, that’s crazy.

The first thing we did in Canada was stop at Tim Horton’s for some coffee and donuts. I’ve always thought that Tim Horton’s was exclusive to Canada, but I was wrong; they do have locations in the US, just nowhere near me. And I ain’t gonna lie guys, Tim Horton’s coffee > Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (but this really isn’t saying much… :P).

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Decent coffee, Boston Cream donut

After our coffee and donut fix, we continued our drive into the Toronto area. It was a little frustrating that we could see Toronto on the other side of Lake Ontario but could only get there by driving all the way around! Instead of staying in downtown Toronto, we booked a room at Monte Carlo Inn & Suites in downtown Markham, about 30 minutes north of Toronto. Two reasons: 1) save money and 2) eat at Omei Restaurant, a Chinese restaurant that serves lobster 4 ways! Residents of Markham and neighboring Richmond Hill are predominately Asian. Being from SGV, I felt right at home. Henry and I even spent an hour or so in an Asian market stocking up on snacks and candy 😀

Well, I’m not ashamed to say that my favorite part of visiting Toronto was NOT the Hockey Hall of Fame… it was eating LOBSTER!!!!

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1. Steamed
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2. Sauteed
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3. Deep Fried
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4. Fried rice (with the innards/liver)

6 pounds, 4 ways. 2 people. YESSSSSSSSSSSSS. My favorites were the steamed claws and fried rice.

Our agenda for the next day was packed! We only had 1 full day to check out Toronto so that meant a lot of stuff to do and a lot of stuff to eat. Henry hates this, but sometimes, I just can’t help it!

For lunch, we picked up from two places… killing two birds with one stone, I guess?

Porchetta sandwich at Porchetta & Co.

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The fatty pork belly layer just melts in your mouth. We added truffle sauce (+ $0.75) which made the sandwich extra special.

Haddock, halibut and poutine at Fresco’s

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For each fish, one piece was fried with regular batter while the other piece had Miss Vickie’s (the chips) extra crisp batter (+ $1). I really liked the crunch from Miss Vickie’s batter so I would recommend spending $1 more for that. And of course we substituted poutine for regular fries (+ $2)…I ♥ poutine!

We pretty much ate our lunch in the car on the way to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Limited time, you know.

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During the Fall, the Hockey Hall of Fame closes at 5:00PM on weekdays. I was sad at first because we were only going to have about 3 hours or so to visit, but it turned out to be just the right amount of time.

Main floor:

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Luuuuuuuuuuccccccccc ♥
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We sat in this theater for a while and relived the Kings 2012 Playoff run… yes, I cried, again.

Esso Great Hall & NHL Trophies:

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NHLPA Be A Player Zone:

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Here, you can test your goalie or shooting skills (no slap shots). Henry was really good at blocking shots while I was better at shooting.

After a fun afternoon at the HHOF, we stopped for coffee at Second Cup before making our way to dinner at Hoof Raw Bar. Initially, I had planned to eat next door at The Black Hoof, but it is closed on Tuesday and Wednesday and unfortunately, our final plans had us in Toronto on a Tuesday. As a reference (for those from LA), Hoof Raw Bar is to The Black Hoof as Son of a Gun is to Animal.

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Raw Scallops
Smoked Mussels
Ceviche
Shrimp & Toast
Smoked Octo & Grits

Everything we ordered was delicious! From the light and refreshing scallops topped with apple to the incredibly tender octopus and deep fried grits, we LOVED every bite. My favorite was the Shrimp and Toast because the juicy shrimp and sous-vide egg reminded me of my favorite childhood dish, scrambled eggs with shrimp.

While we were finished with dinner, we weren’t quite done with Toronto yet.

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Even though both Henry and I had been to the CN Tower as kids, it was so long ago and I wanted to go back… together.

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Yes, we’re lying on the dirty glass floor 😀

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You have no idea how long it took me to grow a pair and walk out onto the glass. SO SCARY!!!

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Before we left the Toronto area for our next destination, I had to pay a visit to one last place: Pacific Mall.

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Pacific Mall holds a special place in my heart because I came here with my grandparents during one of my summer breaks. It was just as I remembered and walking down past all the different shops made me feel close to them again ♥.

… to be continued.

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Toronto Eats (+our verdict):
Omei Restaurant, 5/5
Porchetta & Co., 4.5/5
Fresco’s Fish & Chips, 3.5/5
Hoof Raw Bar, 4.5/5

Foodcation 2012: Crabby

Even before the start of the 2011-2012 NHL season, I had planned to visit the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Obviously, when the Kings won the Cup, this trip meant a hell of a lot more. And though the presentation cup wasn’t on display while I was there (since it was still traveling with the Kings organization), it was nice to see the case dedicated to the 2012 Champs and to relive the Kings 2012 playoff run in the Hartland Molson Theatre (aka Stanley Cup theater). More on this later…

Our trip began with a weekend in Washington DC. We were fortunate enough to have a friend house us and take us around. We arrived late Friday afternoon and after settling in a bit, Henry and I went to dinner at Blue Duck Tavern while our host and his brother went to a ballgame. They totally missed out on an AMAZING meal.

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UntitledOpen kitchen on the way to the fanciest bathrooms (inside Park Hyatt Hotel)

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Wood Oven Roasted Bone Marrow, Creamed Corn
Muscovy Duck Breast, 12 Hour Roasted Suckling Pig
Sweet Corn Ice Cream with Goat’s Milk Caramel

The bone marrow with truffle shavings and roasted garlic was TO DIE for. BEST. EVER!!! I also LOVED the creamed corn side. The jalapeno added a refreshing aspect to the dish without the heat (surprisingly). I thought the presentation of our sweet corn ice cream dessert was so so so cute. Our waitress was kind enough to give us the goat’s milk caramel on the house so our dessert became caramel corn ice cream! 😀

After devouring our meal, we decided to take a post-dinner walk to the Lincoln Memorial.

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Apparently, the reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial had been out of commission for a couple of years due to renovations and was just reopened 2 weeks before our trip! Woooooooo!

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There’s just something about seeing these famous monuments and memorials at night… so so beautiful!

While we were sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, our friend CN called us up. He was back from the ballgame and wanted to take us to the infamous Ben’s Chili Bowl. We’re not ones to turn down food and besides, we just walked off our dinner 😉

At first we took the car, but parking in DC is seriously impossible so we dropped off the car and took the Metro.

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Luckily, the line at Ben’s Chili Bowl at 1:30AM wasn’t too long since we beat the bar crowd. The four of us shared 6 Chili Half-Smokes and Chili Fries.

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There’s no denying that the chili dogs were deeeeeelish, but the price for one is a little ridiculous… $5.70 for one chili dog!!! whattttttt the whattttttttt??????????!!!!!!!! Still… I would recommend visiting this landmark if you’re in DC and you’ve never been.

The next day, our friends led us on a bike tour of DC.

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We used the Capital Bikeshare system, which for those familiar with BIXI is pretty much the same thing. For those not familiar, here is a brief guide for travelers:

* Membership fees: 24 hr = $7, 3-day = $15
* For 24 hr or 3-day memberships, a security deposit of $101 per bike will be held on the card you used for the rental. 2 bike maximum on 1 card.
* To complete rental, an unlocking code can be viewed or printed. Pick a bike and enter the code.
* The first 30 minutes is included with each bike that is rented. Extra time with the same bike is at an additional charge (see website for rate table). In other words, for the most affordable experience, consult the station map and plan accordingly. No matter where you want to go, I assure you, there will be a station on the way. If your destination is clearly more than a 30 minute bike ride away (and you really want to use Capital Bikeshare), just check in the bike at a station along the way and rent out a new bike.
* Downsides include 1) not having an empty bike dock available to return a bike and 2) not having bikes available for rent. The fix for both is to find another station – for returns, if you come across a full station, you can add 15 minutes free to your rental to avoid additional charges.

Despite the downsides above, I think these bike systems (Capital Bikeshare, BIXI) are a great alternative to walking, driving or public transportation. You get to exercise, sight see and have fun, all at the same time!

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We rode the bikes along the Potomac River to the Jefferson Memorial.

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Another view of the Washington Monument

We were supposed to stop at Maine Avenue Fish Market to snack on some crabs, but CN wanted to show us Washington Nationals Park first. The day started out bright and sunny, but as we rode towards the ballpark, I noticed dark clouds and thought to myself, geez, that can’t be good. And it wasn’t…

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… we were caught in a crazy storm!!!

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People running for their lives!!

Luckily, the high winds and rain started right after we checked in our bikes and ran across the street to take cover.

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The storm passed relatively quickly, but it held us back enough so that we weren’t able to get crabs. Our friends had another ballgame to go to and we had dinner reservations at Rasika, a swanky Indian Restaurant.

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I’ve always tried to steer away from fancy schmancy Asian restaurants. I’m spoiled because I live in an area where I have access to yummy Asian food ON THE CHEAP! So why would I want to pay a 100% mark-up for essentially the same thing just dressed up? Well, with almost 1000 reviews on Yelp confirming Rasika as the best Indian restaurant in DC, of course I had to try. And honestly, I didn’t know it was upscale until I arrived. Sure, the prices listed online seemed a bit high, but weren’t to the point of being ridiculous (FYI, $$$ on Yelp).

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We ordered the dishes that our waitress highly recommended and added an appetizer because we wanted some lamb. For starters, we had two barbequed items.

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Mango Shrimp – fresh mango / cashew nut / ginger / coriander / mint chutney

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Seekh Kebab – minced lamb / garam masala / mint chutney

The shrimp was good, but at $12 for 4 pieces, not good enough. Our waitress warned that the minced lamb was really spicy, but when I took a bite, it wasn’t too spicy at all. I actually liked the amount of heat and it had good flavor.

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Palak Chaat – crispy baby spinach / sweet yogurt / tamarind / date chutney

This baby right here is Rasika’s signature dish. As I browsed through reviews on Yelp, I noticed that almost every review mentioned the Palak Chaat. Even after reading these reviews, I didn’t know what to expect. I mean, how could fried spinach be that good? But man, it was. It really was. The Palak Chaat was unlike anything I’ve ever had. Crispy, light, a mixture of sweet and spice. So simple and delicious!

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Black Cod – fresh dill / honey / star anise / red wine vinegar

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Chicken Makhani – broiled chicken / tomato / fenugreek

The best dish of the night came next: black cod. OMG, I DIE. It was MELT IN YOUR MOUTH AMAZING. The only other experience I’ve had with fish that matched this was when I tasted Roy’s Misoyaki Butterfish (Black Cod) for the first time (subsequent experiences have been sub-par).

One of my favorite Indian dishes is butter chicken and Rasika’s Chicken Makhani was pretty damn good. The chicken was incredibly tender and the sauce had a nice balance of tomato, butter and cream. I only wish the dish had more heat.

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Date & Toffee Pudding

I love sticky toffee pudding, but many restaurants make it way too sweet. This is usually masked by serving it with ice cream. Rasika’s sticky toffee pudding was moist and not too sweet. Just… perfection.

As with the night before, we took a walk after dinner. This time we made our way to the opposite side of the National Mall, the Capitol.

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To get home, we were going to walk back to the Metro stop by the restaurant, but Henry was struggling with a sore calf. The night before we flew to DC, Henry thought it would be a good idea to run a couple of miles, ya know, so that he wouldn’t feel as bad for all the food we would be consuming on our trip. The problem was, Henry hadn’t run in a very long time. So yea, instead of walking back to the Metro, we biked back. Good thing for Capital Bikeshare! 😀

Our last full day in DC was museum day. I’ve been to the Museum of Flight in Seattle, USS Midway in SD and Intrepid Air & Space Museum in NYC. So, of course I had to visit the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum while I was in DC. For those on a budget, the Smithsonian Museums are great because they’re FREE! Sure, the Air & Space Museum was dated and didn’t have the “cool” aircraft that the other museums have, but I still enjoyed the few hours that I spent there.

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Since we had a few hours to kill before dinner, we went to get crabs with CN. The crabs usually take some time to prepare so instead of just waiting around, we stood in line for oysters thinking that we would snack on them while we waited for the crabs to cook. Well, we were STILL in line when the crabs were ready and ended up waiting an additional 20 minutes for the oysters. There was only one shucker and the people ahead of us probably ordered 10 dozen oysters combined!

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Appetizers 😉

After indulging in a seafood feast, we reluctantly cleaned up and headed to dinner. I had high expectations for our last dinner in DC. Not only because we’ve had delicious meals the nights before, but because this was the only dinner CN could make and we wanted to treat him out for being such a great host.

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Amuse Bouche, Eggplant w/ Lamb Shank
Pappardelle w/ Smoked Duck Breast, Raviolini w/ Braised Veal Shoulder

Unfortunately, dinner at Siroc turned out to be one of the worst in recent memory. Hopefully this was just an off night because I don’t see how Siroc is deserving of a 4 star rating on Yelp. Even though the restaurant was not busy, service was lacking and the food was mediocre at best. My dish, the raviolini, seemed to be the only one that turned out as the menu described. There was definitely something wrong with the eggplant w/ lamb shank and we all think it was the cheese; it tasted and smelled rotten! At first I thought, perhaps this is a type of cheese that I’m not familiar with, but when I looked at the menu again, I was surprised to see, “Pecorino Romano”. I’ve cooked with pecorino romano! The pappardelle was overloaded with mushrooms and had very little duck. I don’t understand how this pasta with mushrooms and duck bits cost $20 while the fabulous Muscovy Duck Breast at Blue Duck Tavern cost $28!

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We had a great weekend in DC with great company. I wish we could have stayed longer!

The following day was a travel day. We took the subway to Union Station and caught the MARC train to BWI Airport (Baltimore). All this to save money because flights from BWI to BUF (Buffalo) were much cheaper 🙂 The ride on the MARC took about 40 minutes.

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From BWI, we flew to BUF and then drove to our next destination, Toronto 😀

… to be continued.

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DC Eats (+our verdict):
Blue Duck Tavern, 4.5/5
Rasika, 4.5/5
Ben’s Chili Bowl, 3/5
Siroc, 1.5/5
Captain White’s Seafood City, 4/5

The Cut

I finally cut my hair! FINALLY!!!

It’s been about a year and a half since I last got a hair cut. My hair grew to be so long, almost long enough for me to sit on! I promised B that I would get a hair cut before her wedding and I’m so so so glad I did. It feels damn liberating.

I didn’t go all long hair, don’t care for nothing. No, no. I donated about 10 inches of my hair to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths Program in honor of my aunt who passed away from stomach cancer earlier this year.

The last time I visited my aunt happened to be a few days before she passed away. She was basically skin and bones at that point, almost unrecognizable. I sat beside her, holding her tiny hands, trying desperately to be strong and hold it together. I don’t think I was doing a good job because she started consoling me, at which point I started bawling. All illnesses and diseases are horrible, but even more so when it is a loved one who is suffering.

I eat: UMAMIcatessen

I’ve been craving burgers lately. Like, a lot. Apparently, eating In-N-Out on the weekends while watching playoff hockey has not been enough. I NEED MOREEEE BURGERS!!! So on one of my off Fridays, Henry and I headed to DLTA to try UMAMIcatessen, a food-court-esque eatery, which houses UMAMI Burger (yes, I’m totally stating the obvious :P). Having never eaten at UMAMI, we both wanted to see if the burgers were worth all the hype.

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As we looked over the menu, we knew we had to try their signature burger, the Umami Burger. Choosing our 2nd burger was tough. We were interested in both the Manly and Hatch Burgers. This was a battle of bacon vs. chiles, which we both LOVE, but ultimately, bacon won, as it usually always does. Always.

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Umami Burger, $11
shiitake mushrooms, caramelized onions, roasted tomato, parmesan crisp, umami ketchup

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Manly Burger, $11
beer-cheddar cheese, smoked salt onion strings, bacon lardons

We ordered the burgers medium rare, as suggested by our waiter, but when we split the burgers, the patties looked more like medium, almost medium-well. I couldn’t really complain because the burgers were actually incredibly tender and juicy.

To my surprise, I liked the Manly burger a lot more than the Umami. Simply put, the Manly is a high end, refined version of a Western Bacon Cheeseburger. I really enjoyed the combination of smoky + sweet and the contrast in texture provided by the fried onion. Unfortunately, I was not impressed with the Umami Burger. The flavors just didn’t mesh well and I did not care for the roasted tomato or the Umami ketchup. Am I only one??!! I’ve read many reviews raving about the ketchup.

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Smushed Potatoes, $4.50
dutch yellow creamers, double fried

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Crispy Pig Ears, $7
parsley, lemon, brainaise

In addition to the burgers, we also ordered two sides. If you love potatoes as much as I do, you must order the smushed potatoes. Starchy, salty goodness! And if you’ve never had pig ears and are feeling adventurous, I recommend the crispy pig ears; they’re a great alternative to fries.

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FG&J, $8
foie gras mousse, forest berry jam, peanut (yeast)

I gotta say, even though UMAMI is a burger joint, I was most excited about dessert. I love foie gras and I love doughnuts so the FG&J sounded amazing on paper. After a lengthy wait (longer than we waited for our burgers), I took one bite and was immediately turned off. My taste buds were so confused – the delicate flavor of the foie gras mixed with the tartness of the jam just didn’t make sense in my mouth. It was such a shame because the doughnut itself was quite good!

Verdict: 3.5/5
UMAMIcatessen
852 S. Broadway,
Los Angeles, CA 90014

As Expected

First this:

Then this:

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Is it 1993 or 2012? I’m not sure.

But the worst FAIL of all?

Yup, Anze Kopidor, Brad Doty and the rest of the LA Kings have done a great job putting the ball in the net and are one win away from the Stanley Cup Finals!

Hm…

Being a resident of LA, I’m used to hockey getting the short end of the stick by the local media because, let’s face it, LA is first and foremost a basketball/baseball town. It’s just embarrassing that these gaffes have become internet sensations, further perpetuating the perception that LA doesn’t know or care about hockey. I can attest that this is not true, at least not in regards to the fan base.

Tears

Break out the brooms, it’s a SWEEP!

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Bye, bye Blues! Jamie Storr has been avenged.

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It’s hard to describe the wave of emotion that came over me with 3 minutes remaining in the game. The atmosphere inside Staples Center was electric. I stood with my fellow Kings fans, waving our rally towels, cheering like it was 1993. When Brownie scored the empty net goal with 26 seconds to go, I broke down and tears started streaming down my face. It’s normal to cry in public right?

It’s Been A While

Who thought the Kings were going to eliminate the Canucks in 5 games? Not me!

Who thought Penner and Stolly would get GWGs? Not me!

It’s not that I’m not a die hard fan. I’m a cautious and guarded fan. Memories from the past 16 years have haunted me, made me numb and redefined the word, hope.

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Great atmosphere @ LA Live for Game 3

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When I arrived to watch Game 3 at Staples, I was excited yet nervous. The Kings were up 2-0 in the series! Why would that make me nervous? Oh right, because just the year before, I was at Staples Center watching the Kings blow a 4-0 lead to lose Game 3 in OT. Yup, it ain’t easy being an LA Kings fan.

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Light it up!!

The Canucks dominating the first two periods did nothing to calm my nerves, even though at that point, it was still a scoreless game. I called it early on that it would be a 1-0 game and I was right; Brownie scored in the 3rd and Quick came through with a shutout.

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After the game, fans gathered outside Staples and chanted “sweep”. To be honest, I didn’t know how to feel about being up 3-0 in a series. This was the first time that the Kings have ever been ahead 3-0, like EVER. I wasn’t emotionally prepared to deal with the situation. When Game 4 came around, I couldn’t bring myself to watch and I used work as an excuse to avoid it. Too much pressure for the Kings? Pshh, too much pressure for me!

So the Kings weren’t able to close the series out in Game 4 and I’m actually glad for this because the Kings needed to be brought down to reality. TOO MUCH confidence is not necessarily a good thing. And besides, eliminating the Canucks in Vancouver is SO. MUCH. SWEETER. #revenge

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IT FEELS DAMN GOOD

Now that we’re moving on to the 2nd round FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 2001, I think the most important takeaway for the Kings is that there will be games in which they will battle hard and statistically should win, but don’t (ie. Game 4). As in Game 5, I hope the Kings do not get discouraged and focus on the game at hand. One game at a time, boys.

4 down. 12 to go. GO KINGS GO!

Music For My Soul

Since everybody and their moms was at Coachella last weekend (and more of the same this weekend), I thought I’d dedicate a post to music.

I love music. And I appreciate all genres.

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I started my relationship with music at age 4 when I learned to play the piano. My mom has told me a bajillion times that when I was born, she looked at my tiny little fingers and declared that I had “piano fingers”. Um, right, whatever that means. For the better part of a decade, I truly enjoyed playing the piano and learning music theory (I passed the CA Certificate of Merit, Level 9). But practicing 3 hours a day for so many years took it’s toll and turned something I thought was fun into something I HATED with a passion since I had no time to do what I really wanted to… like, you know, hang out with friends and watch TV. So, like any other kid entering their rebellious stage, I quit.

But after a little while, I realized I couldn’t give up music completely, so I picked up the violin. I had an easier time than everyone else since I had a musical background and was already able to read sheet music. For a couple of years, I excelled in my school orchestra, even battling for 1st chair. Then, I gave this up too because I wanted to be a cheerleader instead. Yup. Priorities.

Quitting both the piano and violin are two of my biggest regrets in life. If I could go back in time and slap myself, I would. Today, my piano is a source of comfort. When I get stressed, sad, mad, or even just bored, I sit down and play my favorite piece: Carl Czerny’s “The Art of Finger Dexterity” Op. 740, Book 2, No. 13.

So, what kind of music do I listen to? Well, even though everybody seems to hate the 80’s, I LUUUVRRREEEE IT. 80’s ballads, 80’s rock, 80’s pop, whatever, any 80’s will put a smile on my face. I listen to classical when I want to relax, pop or R&B when I want to sing, and hip-hop when I want dance. During my high school raver days, I was a major house head. At the end of high school and throughout college, I went through a punk/pop/emo phase, as did many around me. NFG, TBS, NOFX, The Starting Line, The Used, My Chem, Rufio, MxPx were on repeat. And now more than ten years later, there’s definitely some residual musical preferences from that part of my life.

My favorite song of all time?
It’s pretty much a tie between The Cure – Pictures of You and Depeche Mode – Enjoy the Silence

My favorite concert?
I also have two picks!

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AFI, Long Beach, 2006
We were sooooooooooo close to Davey Havok

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The Cure, SD, 2008
Robert Smith does not get enough recognition for being a great guitarist!

I had tickets to Depeche Mode, but my concert date was cancelled. I am patiently waiting for their next US tour….

LA Kings Women’s Workshop

So I’ve always wanted to learn to play hockey. It’s on THE list.

Having watched hockey since I was in junior high, I can say that I understand the game fairly well, but actually playing the game, as I’ve recently learned, is completely different. Let’s just say, from now on, I’ll think twice about yelling obscenities at the TV (or at Staples) when players turn the puck over, fall, fan on a shot or shoot the puck high and wide.

I was on FB this past Valentine’s Day and saw this flyer from the LA Kings:

And I thought to myself… even though I won’t know anyone there and I’ve only ice skated twice in my entire life, why the hell not?

When I met the other girls at the gear fitting, I was relieved to find out that 95% did not have any hockey experience. The fitting was enlightening because I had no idea how much shit ice hockey players had to put on. I also had no idea how anything was supposed to fit, but Hillary and Ashley from the LA Kings Org and the guys at Hockey Tron were very helpful. I left with a hockey bag stuffed with a full set of gear: caged helmet, shoulder pads, elbow pads, shin guards, hockey pants and socks, gloves, skates, jersey with my last name and random #, stick, green tape/green laces/green blade cover/jill strap (additional $).

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It wouldn’t be me without the green! 😀

Having only ice skated twice in my life, I’m actually not too bad at going forward. I can generate some speed and more importantly, not wobble or fall. My problem is stopping. I don’t have to crash into the boards or anything in order to stop, I just slow down and ease my way into stopping. I do think that this workshop has gotten me to a point where I can almost do a full hockey stop. Almost.

The first two sessions of the workshop were held at the LA Kings Valley Ice Center. We worked on skating and puck handling basics. My favorite drills were Superman/Wonder Woman and Superman/Wonder Woman with a twist. SO FUN! BTW, falling on the ice wasn’t so bad because of all the gear we had on.

“Oh, that’s not bad.” Yea, thanks, guys. 😛

Our third practice was at STAPLES CENTER. This experience alone was well worth the cost of the workshop.

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As expected, Staples Center ice > LA Kings Valley Ice Center ice

The final session was the official “Game Day”. Family and friends were invited to watch 😀

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People outside the hockey world who think couple minute shifts are easy just have no idea. I was seriously gassed after every shift. GASSED. Legs could not move anymore!

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Do you see the huge smile on my face in this blurry picture?

I am SO glad I took part in this workshop. It was such a blast and I learned a lot in a short matter of time! To continue my progression and also in preparation for the LA Kings Women’s Intermediate Workshop in the summer, I’m considering taking an adult learn to play hockey class at the Toyota Sports Center (I work 5 minutes away). SO. EXCITED.

Special thanks to Daryl Evans and Hillary Hodding!

Utah, Day 7: Time Flies

The Bird had been good to us so that’s where we spent our last full day in Utah.

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We knew we weren’t going to take the tram so we parked at Creekside (parking lot 1) instead of parking near Snowbird Center (parking lot 2).

The conditions had become spring-like as the week progressed so we stuck to the top half of the mountain where the snow wasn’t completely slush. In fact, there were still great stashes of powder in upper Gad Valley and Mineral Basin. For the first part of the day, we were in search of fresh lines in upper Gad Valley, which proved to be difficult because of the rocks that were in the way.

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Little Cloud Lift

After a quick lunch at the Birdfeeder, we took Peruvian Express lift up and then took the Peruvian Tunnel to Mineral Basin. Yes, I said tunnel. SNOWBIRD HAS A TUNNEL.

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Awesome, right?!?!?! 😀

It took about 4 minutes to go through the tunnel. We spent the rest of the day in Mineral Basin.

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I tried to get a picture of Henry jumping over rocks, but I didn’t bring my DSLR and my phone camera is too slow. FAIL.

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Even though it was another great day at the Bird, I started getting bummed out because I knew we would be going home the next day. Time flies when you’re having fun.

——————————————

Our last dinner in Utah was at The Copper Onion.

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I was nervous because we didn’t have a reservation, but there happened to be two spots available at the counter when we arrived. I love watching chefs in action so I thought we lucked out. An interesting thing I noted was the number of gloves the chefs blew through during our time there. One of the chefs wore a glove over a glove and kept changing the top glove after prepping certain foods. Is this standard food safety protocol?

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Looking over the menu, I saw bone marrow, pork belly and mussels offered as appetizers; three of my favorite things! How could I say no?

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Pleasant Creek Ranch Wagyu Bone Marrow: Parsley, Caper, Fennel salad, Charred baguette, $13

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Braised Kurobuta Pork Belly: Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Parsnip, Preserved Cherries, $11

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Mussels: Creamy Black Pepper Sauce, Toast Points, $15

The bone marrow and pork belly were AMAZING, probably the best I’ve ever had. The mussels were perfectly cooked, but the pepper sauce was a little overwhelming.

We decided not to be complete fat asses this time around and only ordered one entree. 😀 It was tough because I was really interested in the poutine!

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Lamb Riblets: Warm Cauliflower and Potato Salad, $18

The riblets were fall off the bone tender and less gamy than I’ve experienced elsewhere. I really enjoyed the side salad.

For the first time in a long while, we actually had room for dessert. Usually our buttons are popping off and still, we would order dessert.

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Special of the Day: Strawberry, Grapefruit and Basil Sorbet, $3

The sorbet was definitely light and refreshing. I first tasted the strawberry and the slight bitterness of the grapefruit came through at the end.

After dinner we went on a night walk around the State Capitol Building, which is just a few blocks away from our condo.

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If you look closely, you’ll see people sitting on the front steps and on the surrounding wall. I guess it was prom night or something because we saw lots of kids in fancy dresses and tuxes. Damn, I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since I graduated high school. 😥

After a week in Utah, Henry said he still prefers Colorado. Given how horrible this season has been, I don’t think a fair comparison can be made. I really do hope this season is an anomaly and I’ll get a chance to come back and fully experience why Utah has “the greatest snow on earth”. So for now, I’ll just say that I ♥ Utah as much as I ♥ Colorado.

——–
SLC Eats (+our verdict):
The Copper Onion, 4/5

Utah, Day 5 & 6: The Other Side

Day 5

After 3 days of good to great conditions (at the end of March, GASP!), it was due time for a reality check.

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Bluebird skies, HOT (60°), SLUSH

Adult Half Day = $76
Adult Full Day = $96

$96?! Damn. The cost of half day at Canyons is as much as a full day at Snowbird! I learned, after the fact, that the local Costco sells discounted tickets to Canyons.

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To get to the base of the mountain from the parking lot, take a ride on the Cabriolet lift, which is basically a small, standing only gondola. The view up from the parking lot got me totally pumped up…

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This pic is from winter, I swear.

We started our day with the Orange Bubble Express. This lift is pretty famous because it’s the only one with heated seats and a sun/wind visor. Ballin! I guess it’s kind of cool, but seriously, do you really need these things? Don’t be a pansy.

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This must be why my ticket cost $96!

OK, so maybe if it was like 10° and windy, I totally would’ve raved about it 😉

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I heard great things about Canyons while I was planning this trip, but I knew I had to lower my expectations a bit given how horrible this season has been. Then we came to Utah and was totally blown away by Snowbird so I figured we would get more of the same at Canyons. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. AT ALL.

Mid-mountain was slushy where the sun hit and icy in the shade. Stop and go, stop and go, was no fun. We tried to make the best of it, but it seemed like all runs leading back to the mid-mountain lifts were catwalks and slushy catwalks are pretty much the worst things EVAR. We hoped the top of the mountain would be better, but before we headed up, we had to re-energize with a waffle break.

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The waffle was OK. I was confused because some of the sugar was still crystallized inside the waffle – that’s not how it’s supposed to be right? Eating chunks of sugar was strange.

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After our quick break, we took the Ninety-Nine 90 lift to the top of the mountain. I didn’t understand the name of the lift at first, but then I realized DUH, 9990 ft is the elevation. The top wasn’t much better than mid-mountain since it was all icy. We did one run and didn’t bother going back up. I’m not sure what I hate more, ice or slush.

Based on my one day experience, I’m pretty sure I won’t be coming back to Canyons in the future. For a ticket price that is almost as much as Vail/Breck (and more than Mammoth!), I just don’t see how Canyons is worth the money, even in good conditions. Anyone who disagrees, please let me know what I am missing!

Although Canyons was a bust, dinner at Himalayan Kitchen partly made up for it.

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Himalayan Assorted Meat Platter, $12.95
Lamb Kabab, Chicken Tikka, Shish Kabab and Chicken Tandoori with Lamb Samosa

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Fish Curry, $16.95
Traditional dish made with wild Mahi-Mahi, onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes and curry spices

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Lamb Vindaloo, $15.95
Boneless lamb cooked with potatoes, onion, tomatoes, vinegar and spices in a tangy sauce

We ordered “medium” spicy for the curry and vindaloo and man, they were SPICY, but good spicy, not uncomfortable spicy… though… I did contemplate ordering a mango lassi after we started eating. 😉 Everything was delicious and the lamb and fish were especially tender. My only complaint, as with Mazza, is that the prices are steep. I understand the curry was made with Mahi-Mahi, but $17 for a small bowl of fish curry is a lot.

——————————————

Day 6

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Park City’s famous Eagle Superpipe

When we checked the ticket prices for Park City, the website wasn’t updated so the prices were the same as Canyons. Not wanting waste another $96, we decided to ride a half day and then go back to Snowbird for our last full day in Utah.

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Partly cloudy – snow (mid afternoon), spring conditions

When we arrived at the ticket booth, we were quoted different prices:

Adult Half Day = $65
Adult Full Day = $80

First of all, thank you, Park City, for being reasonable and adjusting ticket prices based on conditions and late season. Having to pay only $65 was a nice surprise and guess what??? If I had paid $96 for Park City, it still would have been WAY more worth it than Canyons.

For the most part, the coverage was decent.

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There were some areas, especially near the bottom of the mountain, that had limited coverage.

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Silverlode lift

Since we didn’t have a lot of time, we rode mainly in the King Con and Silverlode zones. Park City is divided into 7 zones: Crescent, Jupiter, King Con, Silverlode/Bonanza, Motherlode/Thaynes, Payday/Town and McConkey’s. The runs in the King Con and Silverload zones were wide blues and reminded me a lot of Breck’s Peak 9 area. Despite the conditions being what they were, I actually had a good time and wished we could have spent a full day here instead of Canyons. I would definitely come back to Utah and ride Park City again 🙂

So yesterday was bad day at Canyons, but good dinner. Today was good day at Park City, but bad dinner.

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Bayou supposedly has a great beer selection, but we didn’t go there for the beer, we went for the food. Perhaps that was our mistake.

We started with two appetizers: popcorn shrimp ($5.99) and seafood balls ($6.99).

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The popcorn shrimp were OK. It was interesting that they were so lightly breaded and I don’t quite understand why the shrimp were placed directly over the sauce. According to the menu, the seafood balls are a mixture of salmon, crawfish and shrimp. The mix must have been 80% salmon because that’s all I could taste.

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Crawfish Etouffee, $12.99

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Gumbolaya (+ shrimp), $16.68

Our entrees weren’t much better. The etouffee had no flavor and the few crawfish in the dish were overcooked. The gumbolaya, on the other hand, was sooooooooo salty! The shrimp that we added to the gumbolaya were flavorless so it was pretty obvious that they were just thrown in right before the dish was plated. I could also tell they were frozen shrimp since they had a rubbery texture. Yuck.

——–
SLC Eats (+our verdict):
Himalayan Kitchen, 3.5/5
The Bayou, 2/5

(to be continued…)

Utah, Day 3 & 4: Bird Is The Word

Day 3

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Bird bird bird…

Today was one of the best powder days OF MY LIFE!! Though visibility was poor, the amount of powder definitely made up for it.

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POWDER, windy, zero/low visibility

The forecast called for snow, and snow it did. The Snowbird website reported 4 inches, but it felt like a lot more.

Half day Tram & Chair (12:30 – 4:00) = $68
Full day Tram & Chair = $78
Full day Chair Only = $72

After we purchased our tickets, we headed straight to the Tram, which is basically a huge, standing only, gondola. It fits about 100 people and takes 10 minutes to get to the top of the mountain (Hidden Peak). If you don’t care to have direct access to the top, save $6 and purchase a Chair Only ticket.

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At the top, we strapped in and could not see SHIT. Since it was white out conditions, we decided to ride the “easy” blue run down. Well, this blue run from the top (Chip’s Run) is relatively narrow and flat; it reminded me of Heavenly’s Skyline trail. I ride regular so I tend to freak out when my back faces the edge of the mountain. It didn’t help things AT ALL that I couldn’t even see where the edge was!

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Chip’s Run on a clear day (Day 3)

We rode a few runs on the Peruvian Gulch side, taking the Tram up every time. Another advantage of the Tram is not having to battle cold and wind during a snowstorm.

For lunch, we at Forklift, which is a serviced restaurant on the top level of the Snowbird Center. Henry ordered the Pastrami Burger ($13.75) and I had the Halibut Fish & Chips ($15.75). I thought fish & chips came standard with fries because… oh, I don’t know… the name?… but apparently at Forklift, the Halibut Fish & Chips comes with a choice of fries, cottage cheese OR side salad. UM OK. I ended up paying extra for a side salad ($5.50) because I got confused. The food was expensive but good. There are two other options if you are at the Snowbird Center and want to save a few bucks: Birdfeeder (outdoor grill) is right next to Forklift and Rendezvous (cafeteria) is located one floor down.

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Awesome name!! 😀

After lunch, we explored the Gad Valley side. At first it seemed like a bad idea since the top area was pretty icy with only a thin layer of powder. But we traveled a bit further down and found paradise. Every trail was covered with powder. I felt like I was gliding on clouds the entire time. And the tree runs in this area rivaled those at Vail! We didn’t want to leave the area so we kept riding down to the same lift (Gad 2).

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Ahh Heaven.

———————————–

Day 4

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The next day, we were blessed with partly cloudy skies. Since the storm prevented us from riding the backside (Mineral Basin) and the upper bowls of Gad Valley, we spent Day 4 in these areas.

Mineral Basin can be accessed from Hidden Peak via Chip’s Run/Lupine Loop and Path to Paradise. The name Path to Paradise should be renamed to Going Through Hell to Get to Paradise because it was another narrow trail where my back faced the edge mountain. OK, it wasn’t that bad, I’m just chicken shit. 😦

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Path to Paradise (Left to Mineral Basin) and Road to Provo (Right to Gad Valley)

If riding Path to Paradise to Mineral Basin, you can actually drop in mostly anywhere on the trail, but we tried and found that some areas near the top were icy so we stuck with groomed runs: Junior’s Powder Paradise, White Diamond and Silver Dipper.

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Two lifts service Mineral Basin (see left in picture above): Mineral Basin Express, which takes you back to Hidden Peak, and Baldy Express, which skiers can take to access the adjoining skier-only mountain, Alta.

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Henry gettin’ cray

We took a quick lunch break at Rendezvous, the cafeteria on the second floor of the Snowbird Center, and then took the Tram back up to Gad Valley.

Remember what I said about narrow trails? So I had NO problems with Road to Provo since my back was not facing the edge. GEEEEEEZ. What’s my problem?? 😦

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Anyway, as with other areas, you can drop in pretty much anywhere, but we followed Road to Provo to Mark Malu Fork. And…… Wow. Just WOW.

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Sorry, Mineral Basin, I’mma let you finish, but Gad Valley has the bestest runs of all time. Riding the upper bowls of Gad Valley was like riding down from the Summit of Peak 8 (Breck) without having to hike up and almost die from exhaustion. Win-win.

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Our last run of the day and not a person in sight. I love that feeling ♥

(to be continued…)

Utah, Day 2: Solitude

Day 2

Waking up early certainly didn’t happen. It was a half-day kind of day. Our excuse was that we only slept a couple of hours the night before 😉 We finally left the condo at 12:50 and arrived at Solitude at about 1:30.

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Half day ticket (12:30 – 4:00) = $56
Full day ticket = $68

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Partly cloudy, packed power, borderline slushy

Despite several days of high temps after a storm that dumped a couple of feet of new snow, the coverage was still decent. The first thing we tried to do was go to the summit, but unfortunately, the most direct route was closed off for avalanche control. Bummer! We decided to just stay on the right side of the mountain. Solitude is not a big mountain; I thought it was about the size of Big Bear and Snow Summit combined. The runs and lifts are short, which was fine given our limited time. Our favorite run was Eagle Ridge (off Powderhorn II Quad) to Challenger (can also be accessed by Eagle Express Quad).

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Powderhorn II Quad

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wwwwwwwwwwwweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!

On our last run, I smiled to myself, thinking about how we lucked out with the conditions. But as we headed towards the bottom of the mountain, we encountered sticky slush! TOTAL LEG BURN! It was such a drag to have to expend so much energy just to finish our run. Perhaps using all-purpose/all temperature wax could have helped us. I don’t know. I think we’ve only used winter wax.

(to be continued…)

Utah, Day 1: Food Network

No matter how great a season is, I consider taking an out of state snowboarding trip at the end of March as somewhat of a gamble. Spring conditions are not unbearable, but when you spend that much money, you expect to get something better than slush. I didn’t really have a choice this time around since this was the only time Henry could take off – this trip was a belated birthday gift for his dirty 30! 😀

Day 1

The flight to SLC is pretty easy, about an hour and half flight time. We took a taxi from the airport to the Hertz downtown because non-airport locations usually cost less. We probably could have taken the bus, but with all our luggage, spending an extra $25 for a taxi was well worth it. While my reservation was being processed in the store, I was offered the option of dropping off the car at the airport with no extra charge. SWEET!!!! As for our car, we were given a newer SUV with lots of cool features, none of which I have in my own car so now I totally know what I’m missing.

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Since we had a few hours to kill before check in, we stopped by Les Madeleines to try their famous pastry. The Kouing-aman was featured by the Neelys on The Best Thing I Ever Ate and also on their own show, Road Tested. The outside of the pastry is caramelized and the inside is fluffy and flaky; it’s like… caramelized croissant bread pudding! To me, it’s too sweet when eaten alone, but perfect between sips of coffee. My only complaint is the price – $6+ is a bit steep for these little babies.

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Limit 6 (without 72 hour pre-order), about $6 each

So you can’t visit Salt Lake City and not check out Temple Square, right? I’m not a member of LDS, but I can appreciate the beautiful buildings and grounds.

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Right across from Temple Square is the City Creek shopping center. Apparently it was grand opening weekend and we were entertained with a performance of 2 Legit 2 Quit (no joke) followed up with a mash-up of current popular songs.

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I still don’t know who this group is…

Walking around for a couple of hours got us hungry so we headed to a Mexican restaurant for lunch. I know, I know.. Mexican food in SLC?! But this place was highly rated on Yelp (currently 4.5 stars with 437 reviews), so we had to try it.

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Red Iguana is known for their various moles. I had a hard time choosing which to order so our server let me sample all 7.

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A: Amarillo
B: Coloradito
C: Poblano
D: Verde
E: Negro
F: Red Pipian
G: Lomo de Puerco en Mole de Almendras

The Mole Amarillo had the most kick, but I fell in love with the Mole Negro because of it’s smoky, nutty flavor. We always try to order a variety of dishes so instead of another mole, Henry ordered the Poblano Plate. Red Iguana serves legit Mexican food, but I think we both agree that the mole was the better dish.

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Mole Negro – The king of moles…dried chile mulato, negro pasilla, Mexican chocolate, raisins, peanuts, walnuts & bananas – tossed in chicken or turkey, $15.70

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Poblano Plate – One sour cream chicken enchilada, Taco a la Iguana, beef tostada and a side of guacamole, $12.45

I didn’t even realize it until we left, but we were on a mini Food Network food tour; Red Iguana was featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives!

After lunch, I was food coma status so good thing it was time to check in.

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I loved everything about our condo. The Energy Solutions Arena (Utah Jazz) and Temple Square are just a block away, good restaurants (like Red Iguana) are close by, and you can drive to the new Harmons grocery store in a matter of minutes. There is a jacuzzi tub in the bathroom, washer/dryer in the unit and secured parking. At $95/night, WHAT A STEAL! The only negative, as other reviewers have noted, is that the unit is right next to a gas station so noise could be a problem. But overall, it was a great base for our snowboarding trip since the mountains (Snowbird, Solutide, Brighton, Park City, Canyons) were an easy 40 minute drive away. If anyone is interested, I found the condo through VRBO.

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I loved the big sink and big stainless steel fridge (not pictured)

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Huge jacuzzi tub and TWO shower heads!

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We finished our first day in SLC with Middle Eastern cuisine at Mazza. The food was delicious, but overpriced. Chicken, potatoes and rice for $18? Ouch.

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3 sides Sampler Plate: Baba Ganooj, Lamb Sfiha, Fried Kibbeh (not pictured), $11

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Lamb Skewer with Basmati Rice, $11.50

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Mazza’s Chicken and Potatoes Mutabbak

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SLC Eats (+our verdict):
Les Madeleines, 3.5/5
Red Iguana, 4/5
Mazza, 3/5

(to be continued…)

Before I Kick

I’ve always thought about what I would include on my bucket list, but I’ve never taken the time to actually write it down. Reading through Dominick’s list inspired me to officially document my own. I, too, wish I did this earlier in life, but hey, it’s never too late to start.

1. Climb Mt. Rainier

source: visitrainier.com

2. Obtain PADI Open Water Diver scuba certification

3. Scuba dive around the world

a. Great Barrier Reef
b. Belize
c. Fiji

4. Learn to surf

5. See the Northern Lights

source: http://www.tntmagazine.com

6. Snowboard around the world

a. Mammoth & Northern California
b. Colorado
c. Utah
d. Washington
e. Oregon
f. BC, Canada
g. Wyoming
h. JAPAN
i. New Zealand
j. Argentina

7. Heli-boarding

8. CAT-boarding

source: http://www.valdezhelicamps.com

9. Perfect riding switch

10. Land a jump.. with rotation

11. Make a snowboarding video

12. Learn to ski

13. Learn to play ice hockey

14. Live in a treehouse

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15. Sky dive

a. Hawaii
b. Interlaken, Switzerland

16. Dog sled

17. Complete avalanche training, level 1 & 2

18. Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro

19. Hike Half Dome

20. Zip-line

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21. Explore each province of Canada

22. NYE Countdown in NYC

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23. Explore Europe

a. Hike Cinque Terre
b. Bike through Tuscany
c. Dine at Restaurant Guy Savoy, L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, The Fat Duck, Pierre Gagnaire and Noma
d. Indulge at Laduree and Pierre Herme
e. Visit Stonehenge
f. Take a gondola ride in Venice
g. Take a Seine River cruise
h. Tour Palace of Versailles and castles in Loire Valley
i. ROME

24. Take a Mediterranean cruise

25. Tour Ancient Egyptian sites and cruise down the Nile River

26. Journey to Machu Picchu

27. Bike across the Golden Gate Bridge

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28. Train and compete in a triathlon (sprint)

29. Ride an elephant in Thailand

30. Feed/pet a panda in China

31. Walk the Great Wall of China and toboggan down

32. Experience Tsukiji Market and eat at Sushi Dai

33. Run…

a. 5K
b. Half marathon
c. Marathon (preferably NYC)

34. Get an MBA

35. Catch a concert at the Hollywood Bowl

36. THIS

37. Kayak the Colorado River

38. Sydney Harbour bridge climb

39. Host and cook multi-course dinner party

40. Raft class IV rapids

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41. Get on the kiss cam with Henry at a Kings’ game

42. Fire a gun at a shooting range

43. Collect Starbucks mugs from every place I visit (5 cups so far)

44. Swim with sharks (shark cage)

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45. Swim with dolphins

46. Take my parents to watch the Vienna Philharmonic New Year’s Eve concert

47. Watch the sunrise at Haleakala

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48. Relax in an over-water bungalow in Bora Bora

49. Finish reading Anna Karenina

50. Start and finish a 365 photography project

That’s it for now, but I’ll definitely be adding to this list. I’m looking forward to crossing things off in the near future! 😀

I make: Mapo Tofu

When I found this recipe in Cooking Light Magazine, I welcomed the change since the only other Asian recipe we make involving ground pork is our Ground Pork with Green Beans. Is it weird that we don’t make a lot of Asian food?? Anyway, this recipe is traditionally made with soft tofu, but my preference is medium-firm because it holds up nicely while cooking and is soft enough when eaten. Also, though I love eating spicy foods, my stomach can’t handle that much heat anymore so the recipe, as is, might be too tame for some people (you can tell by the picture below since the sauce isn’t BRIGHT RED).

Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine (April 2010)

(yields ~6 servings)
Ingredients:

Meat
1 lb ground pork
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried sweet basil
1 tsp less-sodium soy sauce

1 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tbsp minced ginger
1 (14 oz) package medium firm tofu, drained

Sauce
2 tbsp Sriracha (increase as desired)
1 1/2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp black bean garlic sauce
2 tsp sugar
2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp less-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp chili oil (increase as desired)

White rice
Scallions for garnish

Directions:
1. Place tofu on paper towel; cover with paper towel. Top with heavy skillet and let stand 30 minutes. (One reason why medium firm tofu works better vs. soft tofu, plus I just prefer firmer tofu anyway). Cut tofu in 1 inch cubes.
2. Season meat: Combine all ingredients under “Meat” section. Let rest for 10 minutes.
3. Sauce: Combine Sriracha through sugar in one bowl. Combine chicken broth through chili oil in another bowl; whisk until smooth.
4. Heat canola oil in a large skillet (or wok) over medium heat.
5. Add garlic and ginger; stir-fry for about 2 minutes.
6. Add pork; stir-fry for 5 minutes or until almost cooked through.
7. Add Sriracha mixture; combine thoroughly and cook for 1 minute.
8. Add broth mixture; bring to a boil and cook until sauce thickens.
9. Stir in tofu.
10. Serve over white rice and garnish with green onions.

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No beauty shot this time – just straight out of the wok, but you get the point 🙂

Note: I changed the ratio of tofu to ground pork because Henry specifically requested less tofu.

Bon appetit!

Half

I ran my first half marathon!

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My goal was a 10 minute pace, which is not at all unreasonable. I’m comfortable running a 5K distance so two weeks before the half marathon, I increased my distance to 6 miles and then to 10 miles the week before. I had planned to run about 12 miles on Friday, rest and carb up on Saturday in preparation for the half marathon on Sunday. When I started my run on Friday, I noticed sharp pain and tightness in my right calf. I thought I could just run it off, but I wasn’t able to make it out of my driveway (I have a long driveway :P)! I spent the rest of Friday and the whole day Saturday drinking lots of water and stretching out my calf. By the time Sunday came around, I wasn’t 100%, but at least I was able to run. I tried to maintain my usual pace, but I had to slow down when I felt my calf tightening up.

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Henry can’t hang so I conned his brother into running with me 😀

Time: 2:16:03
Pace: 10:23

Considering I wasn’t sure if I would be able to run two days before the race, I’m satisfied with my time. There’s definitely room for improvement!

Surprise

I didn’t think he had it in him.

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I asked him to be more romantic. And he went above and beyond by surprising me with a home cooked meal.

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Butter Poached Lobster

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Pan Seared Rib-Eye with Sauteed Mushrooms and Asparagus

We finished our meal with red velvet cheesecake and coffee.

Perfect Valentine’s day. ♥

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Who remembers this Simpsons episode?? LOL

I eat: Mélisse

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Let’s go back. Way back… Ok, maybe not that far. Back to 2010 when Henry and I dined at Melisse for my 26th birthday. Even though I’m a little fuzzy on the details (I can barely remember what I did last week :P), I’ve considered Melisse one of my top ten restaurants ever since.

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Bread and Amuse Bouche

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Seard Foie Gras, Yellow and White Peach, Hibiscus-Rosemary

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Egg Caviar, Poached Egg, Lemon-Chive Crème Frâiche, American Ostetra Caviar

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Lobster Bolognese, Fresh Cappelini, Black Truffles, Basil

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Santa Barbara Spot Prawn, Cuttlefish, Sea Urchin, Nasturtium

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Sonoma Lamb and Sausage, “Ratatouille”, Red Pepper, Jus d’ Agneau

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Liberty Duck Breast and Confit Leg, Figs, Forrono Beets, Jus d’ Epice

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Millefeuille of Fruit Rouge, Vanilla Ice Cream

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Sticky Toffee Pudding, Mocha Malt Ice Cream, Red Berry-Hibiscus Consommé

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Petits Fours

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I would describe our meal as refined simplicity. Each dish showcased individual ingredients that combined beautifully. Melisse is worthy of it’s two Michelin stars.

Verdict: 4.5/5
Mélisse
1104 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401

I make: Roasted Chicken Breast

This recipe is one of my favorites and one that I make most often. It’s quick, easy and the chicken breasts always come out so flavorful and juicy. I’ve also used the marinade on chicken thighs and they’ve turned out just as delicious.

Adapted from The Fine Cooking, The Best of Chicken

(yields ~ 4/5 servings, 1 chicken breast each)
Ingredients:
1 pack of bone-in, skin-on split chicken breasts (the ones I buy come in 5)
6 tbsp dijon mustard (I like to substitute 1 or 2 tbsp of honey truffle mustard if I have it available)
6 tbsp olive oil (I use Stonehouse Roasted Garlic Olive Oil)
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
(Additional kosher salt/pepper before baking)

Directions:
1. Whisk together mustard, olive oil, balsamic vinegar until smooth. Marinade chicken breasts for at least 6 hours – for me, it’s usually about 8.
2. Preheat oven to 400°.
3. Bake chicken in the middle rack for 20 minutes. Baste chicken with its own juices.
4. Continue to bake for 10 minutes. Baste again.
5. Continue to bake for 10 minutes. Baste again.
6. Continue to bake for 10 minutes.

THAT’S IT!

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Bon appetit!

Smile

A rollerblading accident during the summer after 7th grade left me with two broken wrists, teeth knocked out of place and two permanent scars on my face (one below my nose and one on my chin). I spent that VERY HOT summer with a half cast on my left arm and a full cast on my right. 😥 Though my wrists eventually healed, I’ve had to deal with my snaggletooth and scars ever since. At first I was really self-conscious about my face and smile, but over time, I just got used to it.

I had the opportunity to get braces in high school, but I didn’t take it because I didn’t want to look like a dork. 🙄 Also, my parents would have had to pay for everything out of pocket since I didn’t have dental insurance. Increasing my parents’ financial burden was the last thing I wanted to do. I didn’t have insurance at the time of my accident so the bills for the ambulance, hospital room, x rays, out-patient follow ups added up to more than $6,000.

In college, getting braces was out of the question. Hello?! So not cute!

It wasn’t until I graduated and started working full time that I seriously considered getting braces. I had good insurance, had the financial means so … why not? I couldn’t come up with a good answer so in August of 2009, I made the jump.

Source: cartoonworks.com

Well folks, after 2.5 years, I’m finally braces free! I’ll have to wear retainers for the rest of my life and believe me, I will do so religiously – I’m not taking anything for granted.

I eat: Bar + Kitchen

One of the benefits of working in Aerospace is the 9/80 schedule, which many companies are on. For those of you who don’t know, 9/80 = working 9 hours M-Th and 8 hours on alternating Fridays.

Yesterday was my off Friday. Yesterday was also the last day of dineLA.

On our day off, Henry and I braced ourselves for traffic and terrible parking as we ventured into DTLA for a dineLA lunch at Bar + Kitchen. I decided on lunch as opposed to dinner because I was more intrigued by the items on the lunch menu.

Bar + Kitchen is located in the lobby of the O Hotel. I found it interesting that there is no distinct separation between the lobby and the restaurant. The first level of the O Hotel truly epitomizes the open floor plan concept. Tables with half booth seating run along the side of the wall with the exception of a communal table (or table for a large party) situated behind the hotel’s front window.

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In addition to the dineLA menu, we also ordered mussels off of the regular Winter menu.

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PEI mussels fennel, saffron, tarragon aioli, grilled bread $9

The mussels were tender and I loved the spicy kick of the broth. Grilled bread with mussels is a must!!

Appetizers

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Crispy pork belly, pickled sunchokes, plum puree

Perfect execution! The pork belly was indeed crispy on the outside, but tender with the right amount of fattiness on the inside. I liked the play on sweet and sour from the plum puree and pickled sunchokes.

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Butternut squash & ginger soup, créme fraiche, spiced pepitas

Very comforting. Incorporating ginger into butternut squash soup never crossed my mind, but it really works! The ginger breaks up the sweetness of the butternut squash and adds depth of flavor. The spiced pepitas were a nice touch, providing a contrast in texture.

Entrées

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Shrimp & grits, spanish chorizo ragout

This was the dish I was most excited about, but it disappointed me. The ragout was so so so salty, even when mixed with the grits! If not for a heavy hand with the salt, this dish would have been great. At least they didn’t skimp on the shrimp (5).

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Mustard glazed kurobuta pork loin, mashed sweet potatoes, roasted brussels sprouts

The pork loin was tender and the mustard glaze gave it amazing flavor. Note to self: must try to recreate this at home!

Desserts

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Warm chocolate & peanut butter cake, banana ice cream, peanut brittle

There wasn’t anything wrong with this dessert; it was just very ordinary.

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Butterscotch pot de créme, whipped cream, shortbread cookies

I preferred this over the chocolate/peanut butter cake because it light. My only complaint would be that the consistency of the custard was a little thicker than what I’m used to.

Given the short time frame of dineLA, my goal was to try two new restaurants.
Waterloo & City ✓
Bar + Kitchen ✓
Done! I’m very happy with my choices this time around. Best dineLA run so far!

Verdict: 3.5/5
Bar + Kitchen
O Hotel
819 S Flower St
Los Angeles, CA 90017

I eat: Napa Rose [1], [2]

I opened a Disney credit card in 2007. I can’t tell you why because I honestly don’t remember myself; I was never a Disney fanatic. Over the years, I accumulated more than 400 Disney Dollars. It wasn’t until I researched the redemption policy that I find out I could use my Disney Dollars at Disney restaurants. I chose Napa Rose.

Inside Napa Rose, there is a lounge, main dining area, Dessert Counter and Chef’s Counter. The Dessert Counter seats about 4 to 5 people and is off to the right of the kitchen overlooking the preparation of desserts. The Chef’s Counter is split by the service counter (see picture below); each side seating 4. Diners sitting on the left facing the kitchen have a view of appetizers being made while diners on the right get to see the main course action unfold. Because of the extended experience, there are only two seatings per night at the Chef’s Counter/Dessert Counter, 5:30PM and 8:30PM.

IMAG0459Executive Chef Andrew Sutton

To snag seats at the Chef’s Counter, I made a reservation a month in advance for a 5:30PM seating. Henry and I were excited to celebrate our 5 year anniversary with a “free” dinner (thank you Disney Dollars)!!

The night of our reservation, we arrived early only to find out that whoever took our reservation FUCKED UP because they had no record of it.

I. WAS. LIVID.
THANKS FOR RUINING OUR ANNIVERSARY ASSHOLE!!!!

The Chef’s Counter was completely booked that night so the only thing the manager could do was offer us seats in the main dining area. I contemplated just walking out and going home, but I remembered that I had expiring Disney Dollars to use so I reluctantly accepted.

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After being seated, we placed our order fairly quickly since we agreed beforehand that we would order the “Vintner’s Table” (Chef’s Four Course Tasting Menu). I didn’t have a chance to be my usual indecisive self!

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Amuse Bouche

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Halibut

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Pork Belly & Loin

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Steak

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Goat Cheese Doughnuts

My anger began to subside as we finished our first course and it all but disappeared by the time dessert was served. Instead of sulking the whole night, I actually enjoyed my meal. Every dish was well executed and delicious. I especially loved the pairing of goat cheese doughnuts and “pear soup” (I told you I love hot + cold).

At the beginning of the night, given the reservation drama, I was sure we would never, ever, ever come back to Napa Rose… EVER. At the end of the night, I was willing to come back and pay for our meal!

…And come back we did. Less than a month later! Yes, mostly for the food, but also because Napa Rose comped our first meal in attempt to make things right – we only paid for Henry’s wine pairing, tax, and tip (based on full dinner amount, of course). That meant I still had expiring Disney Dollars to use.

For our second visit, I was only able to reserve seats at the Dessert Counter.

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View from the Dessert Counter

See the empty seats on left? That’s the Chef’s Counter. Since all 4 of those seats were empty and it was well past 6PM, I asked Sous Chef Gloria what the deal was. After speaking with the manager, she explained that the party cancelled and offered us the seats. HELL YEA! Not only did our view get upgraded, Sous Chef Gloria also told us about another tasting menu, one in which you relinquish control of your meal over to the chefs; we had no idea what our next course would be. This option had more, smaller portion courses and costs the same as the “Vintner’s Table”. I highly recommend it if you are able to sit at the Chef’s Counter.

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View from the Chef’s Counter

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We LOVED every dish, but the highlight of our meal had to be the mushroom soup. AMAZING. The “Best Hot Chocolate” was a close second 🙂 I can’t wait to return for another meal.

Verdict [1] & [2]: 4.5/5
Napa Rose (@ Grand Californian)
1600 S Disneyland Dr
Anaheim, CA 92802

I eat: Redd

I’m always a little nervous when I return to a restaurant that I loved the first time. What if the quality has deteriorated? What if I was just really hungry? Did I just happen to order the best things on the menu? What if my second time is an off day? So many questions run through my mind.

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Crispy Duck Confit with Lentils and Foie Gras Meatballs
Glazed Pork Belly, Apple Purée, Burdock, Soy Caramel
Steamed Pork buns, Hoisin, Vegetable Slaw
Braised Shortrib, Bacon, Cipollini onions, Fingerling potatoes, Red Wine Jus
Caramelized Diver Scallops, Cauliflower Purée, Almonds, Balsamic Reduction

Henry and I first dined at Redd for lunch in October, 2009. We loved it and couldn’t stop raving to our friends and family about our wonderful experience. Fast forward about two years and we returned for dinner with a couple of friends, fully expecting Redd to knock their socks off. But… that didn’t exactly happen. Perhaps my expectations were too high or my tastes have matured/palate refined or even a combination of both – overall, I was disappointed with our meal.

We started off with oysters and appetizers to share.

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Glazed Pork Belly, Apple Purée, Burdock, Soy Caramel $14
Carnaroli Risotto, Maine Lobster, Meyer Lemon Confit, Truffle Oil $15

The pork belly was one of my favorite dishes the first time around and for that reason, I ordered it again. And thankfully, it was as good as I remembered! The risotto was delicious as well, making it difficult for me to have to share it with 3 other people.

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Sauteed Skate, Onion Fondue, Summer Beans, Hazelnut Brown Butter $28
Petrale Sole, Coconut Jasmine Rice, Clams, Chorizo, Saffron Curry Nage $28
Prime New York Steak and Shortribs, Salt Potatoes, Bacon and Mushroom Ragout $32
Liberty Farms Duck Breast, Shelling Bean Cassoulet, Bread Crumbs, Thyme Jus $29

The best entree of the table was the skate with brown butter… WHO DOESN’T LOVE BUTTER? TELL ME! TELL ME!

Everything else, however, just fell flat. The saffron curry nage left a bitter after-taste and the short ribs were tough and stringy. I was most disappointed with the duck; it was overcooked, the skin was not crispy and the amount of bread crumbs over the cassoulet was just ridiculous.

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Butterscotch Pudding, Vanilla Anglaise, Pinenut Rosemary Cookies $10
Chocolate, Peanut Butter Beignets, Bitter Caramel Ice Cream, Bananas $10

After being let down by the entrees, I wanted to pass up dessert. But since we were (unofficially) celebrating Henry’s birthday, we ordered two to share. I liked the butterscotch pudding more than the beignets because it was lighter and not as sweet.

Oh, btw, it didn’t help any that a lady sitting 10 feet away from us was throwing up UNDER THE TABLE. It was her bachelorette party.

Verdict: 3/5
Redd
6480 Washington St
Yountville, CA 94599

I eat: Waterloo & City

Besides Petrossian, my DineLA experiences have mostly ranged from disappointing (Cube Marketplace, Grace) to average (Gordon Ramsay), which would explain why none have compelled me to make a return visit. In spite of this, I always get excited when dineLA comes around.

The current dineLA ends Friday, Feb 3rd!

This past Friday, Henry and I made our way to the Westside for dineLA at Waterloo & City. When we arrived, the first thing that struck me was the size of the restaurant. I didn’t expect it to that big! There’s an outdoor patio area (where we were seated) and two indoor dining areas separated by a large bar.

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In addition to the dineLA menu ($34/person), we couldn’t pass up the Indian Butter Chicken Pizza, Murgh Makahni Sauce, Mozzarella ($14) off of the regular menu. To pace ourselves, we followed our waiter’s suggestion of having the pizza come out first, eating a couple of slices and boxing up the rest to take home.

Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera. These phone pictures do not do the food justice.

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The pizza was delicious! Although it would have been nice to have more chicken, the chicken that was on the pizza was incredibly tender. I liked the heat from the makhani sauce and raita (in the middle).

Next came the dineLA dishes…

Appetizers

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Chicken Liver & Foie Gras Parfait, Toasted Brioche, Sweet Potato Jam

No complaints whatsoever. The toasted brioche provided the perfect canvas for the mousse and the jam cut the saltiness.

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Tuna Tartare, Fried Piquillo Pepper, Avocado

AMAZING. The freshness of the tuna and cucumbers, the creaminess of the avocado, the spiciness of the sauce… everything just worked so well together. The fried piquillo pepper was icing on the cake.

Entrees

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Roast Pork Chop, Fuji Apples, Pork Belly, Squash Puree, Onion Rings

As you can see, this thing was HUGE! The pork chop was tender and flavorful and there’s just something about the combination of pork and apples that I absolutely love.

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Australian Bass, Ricotta & Truffle Gnocchi, Cara Cara Oranges, Celery Root

This was the only dish that was a little bit off. The bass and gnocchi were great by themselves and even paired together. The orange slices alone were refreshing. But bass + gnocchi + orange… hmmm, not so much – this combination just didn’t work for me. Also, the skin of the bass could have been crispier if not for the moisture from the oranges.

Desserts

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Waterloo Doughnuts, Bavarian Creme, Rum Glaze, Raspberry Sorbet

The doughnuts weren’t as good as the goat cheese doughnuts from Napa Rose, but still solid. I loved the hot and cold pairing of doughnuts and raspberry sorbet.

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Sticky Toffee Pudding, Salted Caramel, Vanilla Ice Cream

Whenever I see sticky toffee pudding on the menu, I order it. This one at Waterloo & City was, by far, the BEST I’ve ever had.

Thanks for breaking my DineLA rut, Waterloo & City. I will DEFINITELY come back and dine again.

Verdict: 4.5/5
Waterloo & City
12517 Washington Blvd
Culver City, CA 90066

Progress Report

Some stats going into the All-Star break.

Against teams currently above .500…
– The Kings are 20-11-9
– In 15 out of 40 games (37.5%), they’ve scored 2+ goals
– GFA = 2.275
– GAA = 2.1

Against teams currently below .500
– The Kings are 4-5-1
– In 2 out of 10 games (20%), they’ve scored 2+ goals
– GFA = 1.6
– GAA = 2.2

sportclubstats.com currently gives the Kings a 68.7% chance of making the playoffs. bleh.

Rush, Rush

Saturday = CRAZY.

I woke up at 7AM and rushed to Staples Center to run the 2012 LA Kings 5K. My one week of training prepared me enough to finish almost 2 minutes faster than last year’s time. I crossed the finish line in 26:34, which averages to an 8:34 pace. What my training did not prepare me for was having to run 3.1 miles IN THE RAIN. It wasn’t light sprinkles, IT WAS RAIN. Needless to say, I was soaked afterward.

There was no time to chill and hang out at the event because I had to take my last GMAT practice CAT and Henry had groomsman duties to attend to. I completed my test at 2PM, which left me with only half an hour to get ready for the wedding! I didn’t even have time to eat! 😦

Things finally settled down once I arrived at the wedding venue: Muckenthaler Mansion in Fullerton.

Congrats, Jen & Thai ♥

The ceremony went off without a hitch and the meatballs served during cocktail hour were DELISH! I was so hungry I ate 8 of them!!! 😀

Although I had fun celebrating with friends, weddings, in general, give me anxiety. Personally, I would rather skip the wedding and go straight to the honeymoon – I’m working on getting everybody else on board with that idea. So far, my mom, who’s opinion is obviously most important, said she’s fine with me not having a wedding. Hopefully she’s not lying to me…

Is It Winter Yet?

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Mammoth Mountain, 1/6/12-1/8/12
Conditions: Spring, icy patches, minimal coverage

This is what January is looking like, folks…

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No bueno

I’m pretty sure these conditions are the worst I’ve seen and experienced at Mammoth. We tried to make the best of it, but it was difficult given all of the browns spots, rocks and ICE. My board is seriously tore up! 😦

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This is usually one of favorite runs – I love to bomb it down to Canyon, especially at the end of the day. So I’m riding down and everything was OK until I turned the corner. I, along with everyone else, was surprised by large patches of ice. People were breaking. People were falling. People were breaking and then falling. @#$*&@%. Icy crowded runs = accidents waiting to happen. I’m glad I survived with bruised knees.

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Pictures And Words

My friends and I spent NYE stuffing ourselves full of red meat and shrimp (3 burner hot pot feast!), watching the Kings play one of their best games of season (4 goals? OH WHAT?!), and laughing our asses off playing telephone pictionary.

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Round 2: Movies

Somehow Predator became Pokemon.

Best. Game. Ever. amirite?

I eat: Traif

Our experience at Traif could not have started out any worse. We arrived 30 mins late because I thought our reservation was at 8:30PM – it was actually at 8:00PM. The hostess offered us the bar since our table had obviously been given away and we accepted. As we were settling in and figuring out what to order, the hostess came by and said she would be able to move us to a table (outside in the patio area) if we didn’t mind waiting about 10 minutes. Even though it actually turned out to be more like 20 minutes, we were so delighted and grateful! The hostess was more than awesome 🙂 .. too bad I can’t say the same for our waitress.

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Amuse bouche – Moroccan lentil soup

Delicious and oh so comforting on a cold, rainy night.

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Seared scallops, butternut squash, huckleberries, pistachios, sage

The scallops were perfectly cooked and I loved the sweet and nutty aspect of the sauce.

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Crispy pork belly, cauliflower, peperoncini, romesco, parsley-garlic

Hmm, honestly, I don’t really remember this one. Not necessarily a bad thing, I suppose. The dish was just not memorable either way.

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Butterfish carpaccio, grapefruit, avocado, mint, sesame, soy

The avocado enhanced the creaminess of the butterfish and the grapefruit brought a refreshing element to the dish. YUM!

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Gemelli pasta, blue crab, fresh black truffles, braised leeks

I’ve read many complaints about this dish, specifically regarding the lack of crab. While I agree that there could have been more crab (who doesn’t want more crab?), this dish was one of my favorites. The crab was not the star of the dish, but I couldn’t have cared less because I’m a sucker for truffles.

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Joe’s chopped chicken livers, balsamic-bacon toasts, rosemary & shallots

LOVED. LOVED. LOVED this! The balsamic drizzle added a bit of sweetness and paired well with the chicken liver pate.

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Salt & pepper spicy white shrimp, golden pineapple, sweet potatoes

When I read salt & pepper spicy shrimp, I didn’t expect to see this; I was thinking more along the lines of Asian salt and pepper shrimp. Although I liked the shrimp itself, the combination of pineapple and sweet potatoes didn’t work for me.

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Seared foie, fingerlings, ham chips, sunny egg, maple, hot sauce

This dish reminded me of the foie gras loco moco at Animal (one of my favorite dishes EVER). It wasn’t as good, but certainly isn’t far behind. How can a dish with foie, potatoes and egg not be good?

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Sautéed veal sweetbreads, roast mushrooms, green garlic, spinach

By this time, we were so damn full, our buttons were about to pop off. I liked the earthiness of the mushrooms and green garlic, but the dish would have been much better had the sweetbreads been accompanied with something that would have provided a contrast in texture instead of spinach. Henry isn’t a big fan of sweetbreads because of the texture so even though I was already extremely stuffed, I basically finished the dish myself. oof.

We definitely learned the hard way that 8 dishes is wayyyy too ambitious! No regrets though, we had a great meal.

Verdict: 4/5
Traif
229 S 4th St
Brooklyn, NY 11211