I Left My Heart In Seattle

For b‘s vacation before lactation (credit: g), I suggested Seattle. I could not think of a better place for a quick girls getaway. Thankfully, my suggestion was warmly welcomed! I was so so so exited to show them why I loved Seattle so much. And in true kc fashion, I detailed planned our trip, by the hour, in an excel spreadsheet. That’s how I do.

b had a few requests, which were happily obliged:

  • Sushi Kashiba (at sushi bar)
  • Chihuly Garden and Glass
  • Hike

We arrived in Seattle late Wed night and tried to make it to Toulouse Petit for a late night snack. Unfortunately, they had already made their last call for food so we walked down the street to Mecca Cafe. We legit demolished their corned beef hash and chicken fried steak. When it’s 1am, you’re super hungry, and you find yourself in Lower Queen Anne, head to Mecca!

After our first pig out of the trip, we headed to Gas Works Park, my favorite spot to see the Seattle skyline, especially at night.

20160728_021147

absolutely gorgeous

By the time we checked into our AirBnB in the Fremont neighborhood, it was almost 3am! We settled in right away and knocked out. The cozy, affordable studio was just perfect for the three of us. I would highly recommend and would definitely stay there again.

We started the next day with coffee at a local coffee shop before heading to the Fremont Troll. Yes, it’s touristy, but it’s just something you have to see!

download_20160728_112124

selfie inception game strong

After the troll, we stopped by Paseo for some sandwiches. Paseo has always been my top recommendation for anyone vising Seattle. The prawn and scallop sammies were so freakin’ delicious! In the days leading up to the trip, I craved them. I dreamt about them. There might have been some drooling involved. But when I actually got my hands on the sandwiches, I was disappointed. The prawn was overly salty. Almost to the point where I didn’t want to finish it. There was also less meat than I remembered. I thought Paseo was pretty generous before, but this time around, I got more lettuce and sauteed onions than anything else. Hopefully this was just an off day…

To work off our lunch, we rented kayaks and paddled out to Lake Union. I absolutely love water sports so this is one of my favorite activities in Seattle.

20160728_141939

download_20160728_150605

One of b‘s requests was to eat at the sushi bar of Sushi Kashiba. Reservations aren’t offered for the sushi bar so in order to secure a seat, I booked a reservation at 5:00pm, right when the restaurant opens. But being natural laggers and not accounting for the terrible parking sitch at Pike Place, we got there around 5:15pm and the sushi bar was already full. Luckily, we were told that the second seating for the sushi bar would start around 7pm so we had to option of either sitting at a regular table right away or waiting for the sushi bar. Of course we chose the latter.

20160728_191632

I’ve never had omakase before and I’m so glad my first time was at Sushi Kashiba. The fish was so fresh, the selection and progression was perfect for my tastes, the service was outstanding, and to top everything off, this delicious meal + sake was only $120! What a steal!

PhotoGrid_1472699940022

aahhhhmazing

The last piece was blue-fin collar, my favorite of the whole meal. Talk about saving the best for last!

We followed up an amazing dinner with an amazing sunset down at the waterfront.

20160728_210044

The next day, we started with a quick visit to Snoqualmie Falls. It’s been 7 years or so since I last visited and there must have been some renovations because I remember the lookout point very differently.

20160729_114709

We then proceeded to the highlight of our trip, an 8 mile hike, or in this case, more like strategic walking on jagged rocks.

20160729_140707

If it wasn’t for the rocks, I would classify the hike as moderate

20160729_143927

20160729_155510

The view was definitely worth it. All the pain, the exhaustion, the hunger, the thirst. EVERYTHING. Our only regret was not starting sooner so we could play in the water.

By the time we started heading back to the trailhead, it was already late. We hauled ass so we could make it home in time to get ready for a night out. Our poor feet.

download_20160730_124631

The promoter that g was talking to told us that we had to be at the club by 11pm, otherwise, there would be a really long wait. Well, we got there at 10:50pm (which btw we’ve probably never done, like ever) and it was COMPLETELY EMPTY. Not one single soul. So we just took a few shots and went to the lounge next door to drink some more.

Best. Decision. Ever.

It was so much more fun! One of the funnest nights I’ve had in a long while. Best part of the night? Witnessing a former male stripper twerk in a handstand. WOW.

download_20160730_124441

my loves

The next day, we ended the trip with a visit to Chihuly Glass and Garden, as b requested. And of course, we couldn’t leave without indulging in oysters!

20160730_170434_001

10 years ago, Seattle was just this mysterious place that was known to be rainy and depressing and the only significance it had was that he lived there. Seattle now has my heart for completely different reasons than it initially did, and I have all the wonderful memories from my numerous visits in the past 10 years to thank. From living in a treehouse to kayaking Lake Union to taking in the beauty of Mt. Rainier as I hit mile 10 of my first marathon, Seattle will always have a special place in my heart.

Advertisements

Fickle

Sometimes I love San Diego. Sometimes I hate it. Today was the former. Today I was in awe of it’s beauty.

image

Near the water, I feel at peace. I feel at home.

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!

Untitled

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.

Untitled

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.

Untitled Untitled

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

Untitled
Untitled
Untitled Untitled
Untitled
Untitled Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled

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!

Untitled
Untitled
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!

Untitled
Untitled

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.

Untitled Untitled
Untitled

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.

Untitled
Fun activities right outside our balcony

Untitled
Such a cute mountain town

We took the gondola up…

Untitled
Untitled

… 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.

Untitled
Untitled Untitled

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!

Untitled

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!!!!

Untitled
Taking the lift to the beginning of the course

Untitled
Luges

Untitled
Untitled
Oh, hellooooo

Untitled
Untitled
Luge course

Untitled

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.

Untitled
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!

Untitled Untitled
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.

Untitled
Exhibit A

Untitled
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.

Untitled

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.

Untitled Untitled
Untitled Untitled
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.

Untitled Untitled

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.

Untitled
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.

Untitled
Untitled Untitled
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.

Untitled

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…

Untitled

… followed random trails…

Untitled
Untitled
Untitled

… until we reached Camilien-Houde Lookout…

Untitled
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…

Untitled
So so so pretty at night when illuminated

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

Untitled

… until we found the Chalet and Kondiaronk Lookout…

Untitled
Untitled
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!

Untitled
Untitled
Untitled

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…

Untitled
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 😦

Untitled
Untitled

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!!! 😀

Untitled
Untitled
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.

——–
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

Save Me, San Francisco

Just like NYC, I never intended to visit SF every year, but things just worked out that way. Last Thursday, Henry and I packed some clothes and snacks and made the 6.5 hour drive up north. We spent the weekend in the city by the bay (+ side trip to Napa, OF COURSE) with a couple of good friends.

IMG_0310
GOOD FRIENDS + GOOD FOOD = GOOD TIMES 🙂

In SF, we stayed at our usual spot: Coventry Motor Inn. Upon checking in, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the room was completely renovated (new carpet, new memory foam beds, tv, etc)! And the best part was the price remained the same as before! I LOVE this place for being budget friendly, having FREE parking, and for its great location.

Our first night was spent eating dinner at Leopold’s and getting drinks at Horseshoe Tavern. Not only was the food at Leopold’s delicious, the co-owner Albert is totally awesome! I spoke to him briefly on the phone and since we were staying close by, he graciously offered to put my name on the list and provided an approximate time a table would be ready. Doing just that would have been good enough for me, but after dinner, Albert thanked us personally for dining at his restaurant and even remembered my name!

We tried to wake up early on Friday to avoid waiting a long time for brunch at Dottie’s True Blue Cafe. Unfortunately, I suck at waking up early when I don’t have work so we got in line at about 10:30AM and waited a little more than 1.5 hours for a table. BRUTAL. By the time we were seated, we were starving, thus …

IMAG0274 IMAG0272
IMAG0263 IMAG0261
yea buddyyyy 😀

Yes, the food was worth the wait.

After stuffing our face, we tried to fight off food coma by walking around Union Square. We then took the F train to Justin Herman Plaza for some urban zip lining!

IMAG0279
IMAG0281

The only downside is that you pay $29 for an experience that lasts less than a minute. It’s pricey, but it’s a cool thing to do if you’ve never zip lined before. It runs only in the summer and will shut down by the end of September. Hurry!!

After zip lining, we slowed things a bit by taking a leisurely hike at Land’s End.

IMG_0197 IMG_0201
IMG_0213 IMG_0220

The next day, we headed up to Napa for some wine tasting. I don’t like wine so that made me the designated driver and photographer.

IMG_0292
Domaine Chandon

IMG_0295 IMG_0304
IMG_0308 IMG_0307
Paradigm

IMG_0314 IMG_0318
IMG_0322
Alpha Omega

And that was that. Another great trip up north.

——–
SF Eats & Activities (+our verdict):
Leopold’s, 4.5/5
Dottie’s, 4/5
Zip Trek, 3/5
Philz Coffee, 5/5
Ferry Building, 4/5

Napa Wineries (+Henry’s verdict):
Domaine Chandon, 3/5
Paradigm, 4/5
Rubicon, 4/5
Alpha Omega, 1/5

Apparently I’m Delicious

My 2nd attempt to hike the Mt. Wilson trail was pretty much a FAIL. I only made it to the second stop: Orchard Camp. Along the way, I seriously wanted to just keel over and die. This trail is no joke, especially in 80 degree heat.

I’d like to blame my physical weakness on the fact that I didn’t eat much for breakfast – just a few pieces of fruit. But it was most likely because I haven’t exercised regularly in months! Yup, that’s how I do it. No exercise for a month and then BAM, 30 mile bike ride or 8 mile hike. My body loves me.

A few days later, I started to itch at work. A few hours later, I counted 18 bumps all over my body; Two more bites developed over the next couple of days. At first, some of my coworkers thought it was fleas, but the bites really didn’t resemble flea bites (I googled :)). The big welts seemed more like spider or mosquito bites. Regardless, whatever bug(s) bit me had a good freakin’ meal. You’re welcome.

I Exercise When I Want To

And during 4th of July weekend, I wanted to.

We rented some bikes and rode from the Santa Monica pier to Marina Del Rey. I wanted to go further, but we didn’t have enough time. The bike path at the beach is pretty cool to ride on, if you don’t mind people blatantly ignoring the “BIKE ONLY” rule. Either people think “BIKE ONLY” means anything with wheels (i.e. baby strollers) or they just don’t give a shit and think it’s a free-for-all walkway. I don’t know how many times I’ve had to suddenly break in order to avoid hitting people who decide to leisurely cross the bike path, oblivious to the fact that I’m less than 50 feet away.

Even though I was extremely sore from bike riding (note to self: adjusting the seat prior to riding is a MUST), I hiked a small part of the Mt. Wilson Trail the next day. This was my first time hiking this trail, so when I heard that people use this trail to train for Half Dome, I almost peed in my pants.

Because we started so late in the day (about 3PM), we had to turn back after the first stop. First Water Junction is located about 1.5 miles from the trailhead with an elevation gain of about 1000′. I found this to be a moderate hike given that it was pretty much a steady incline the whole way with some areas being steeper than others. What made this more challenging was the heat! I’m actually glad we didn’t start earlier since the sun would have been blazing down on us the entire time. Next time, I’m planning to hike to the summit of Mt. Wilson (7 miles, 5000′ elevation gain). I hope I live to blog about it.