Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Away for a Few Days

First, I want to apologize for not leaving comments on some of my favorite sites. I'm still visiting, but won't be leaving any "evidence" of my visits or my thoughts.

Someone accidentally shut a car door on my right hand this Monday, and I had to go to the emergency room to get it "fixed up" with glue and gauze tape. One of my fingers looked especially grotesque. (Don't read the rest of this paragraph if you are the "easy-to-become-queasy" type.) Essentially, it was comparable to BallparkTM hot dog, that had plumped too much from being over-boiled, and had split open.

The bad news is, is that I have to wear an aluminum finger splint, which makes typing very difficult. The good news is, is that I get to read your wonderful posts and comments while I am gone. I hope to be back soon, in both posts and comments.

Take care everyone, and in the words of
Eat, Drink, and Be Merry, thank you for reading.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Amusing Musings on Marnee Thai

The best place for Thai in the city of San Francisco and its environs is Marnee Thai. I mentioned it briefly in a previous post, but I want to fully explain everything, from the appetizing angel wings, to its celebrated pad thai. Why the sudden motivation for this post? Well, I just went to Marnee Thai this week, and was able to snap a generous amount of shots of my meal there. Thus, this post is so that I may pander to your viewing pleasure.

Although I hardly ever order appetizers at restaurants, I always begin with the wonderfully sticky angel wings at Marnee Thai. The crinkly, deep-fried Thai basil looks beautiful atop the gooey wings, and they taste even more delicious. The basil crackles and evaporates onto your tongue like a fresh communion wafer. The light sprinkling of nutty sesame seed-like granules pop in your mouth as you bite into the chicken, and the wings are coated in a concoction made from sweet, nectared honey.

However, eating the wings is impossible to do so with chopsticks or a fork. Unfortunately, if you use your hands to eat the wings, you will experience "Cheetos-finger syndrome," (when your fingers become stained and sullied with a ghastly mess that cannot be cleaned with a dry napkin). Furthermore, another pitfall of the wings, is that if you smell your besmirched fingers after devouring a set of the wings, they will reek of vulgar-smelling fish sauce. However, you won't notice the smell of your fingers, when the visually-appealing main dishes are delivered to your table.

Marnee Thai's pad thai is world-renowned for a reason. Unlike other Thai restaurants, Marnee Thai perfectly harmonizes the sourness of tamarind paste with a rich sugary flavor that tastes like it came straight from the sugarcane. Additionally, the silken rice noodles aren't just sloppily coated in sauce, but are cooked until they have absorbed and fully inhaled the flavor of the sauce into its body. The other ingredients only accentuate the majestic flavor of the sauce: cooling and invigorating bean sprouts; leafy feathers of cilantro; crunchy curls of pink shrimp; and munchable crushed peanuts.

Other than the pad thai, I'd say that the other dishes I've ordered are generally pretty good. For instance, in addition to tender slivers of duck meat, the duck red curry has refreshing bites of tomato, julienned bell peppers, rolly-polly green peas, and moist chunks of pineapple, all swimming in a pool of curry-infused coconut milk. The duck red curry is pretty good. It isn't the best I've ever had in San Francisco, but it tastes great with the pad thai (like how everything does).

The last dish that we ordered on this week's trip to Marnee Thai also merits a recommendation. It was the seafood combo, which really did "combine" many seafoods together, including: delicate squid tentacles, julienned ginger, circular rounds of scallops, mussels on the half shell, shrimp, and colorful bell peppers. But if you order the seafood combo, be careful of the twiggy sprigs that are decorated with spicy peppercorns--they are just like bay leaves, because they are not to be eaten.

I hope that this post got you in the mood. . . In the mood for Thai food! If you live in the San Francisco area and have never tried Marnee Thai, or will be visiting the San Francisco area sometime soon, just remember that Marnee Thai is high on my list of "SF" restaurant recommendations.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Food Humiliation

This past Wednesday, our office threw a reception for the leaders of each of the nationwide district divisions of our organization. (I'll call these leaders, the "district heads.") Suffice it to say, it was a humongous deal.

During the reception, I was deeply engaged in conversation with one of the "district heads," and began enthusiastically motioning with my hands to better make my point. However, as I swept my open palms upward towards the ceiling, I accidentally "karate-chopped" the stem of a filled wine glass on the table in front of me. The wine emptied into the sky, and looked like a liquid boomerang flying in mid-air.

(Imagine the following sequence in slow motion.)

All I could do watch the falling wine with my mouth open. We saw the ribbon of wine land from head-to-heels on the back of another "district head," who conveniently happened to be wearing a cream-colored, khaki suit.

Oh crap.

The room fell silent. All background noises screeched to a halt. Everyone was looking at me.

Seeing the wine fall on the "district head's" back was like watching a Pepé Le-Pew cartoon from the Looney Tunes. (Remember when the black cat would accidentally get a stripe of white paint brushed on the back of her fur coat, so she looked like a skunk?) Well, almost. It was infinitely worse, because the wine didn't just land on his back in a long, unruly "stripe," but there was also this huge "splat" of wine, right on his butt. The wine stain on his derrieré literally was the size of a bowling ball. However, how one glass of wine can make a bowling ball-sized stain is beyond me.

As everyone looked at me, I did the only think I could do. I tried to hold in my sniggers and giggles, and they busted right out of me. Unfortunately, I was the only laughing.

Well, that night was a disaster.

Thanks for listening to my "embarassment of the week." I had to get it off my chest.

Also, since I am posting, I'll just let everyone know that I am calling "time in" again. Thus, if you have a meme and would like to tag me, feel free. I just wanted to space out my posts so that I wouldn't have several meme posts in a row! In fact, I've already been tagged, so look forward to my response to another meme, soon!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Dine About Town 2006: Part One, Absinthe Brasserie & Bar

Dine About Town for San Francisco is here for 2006! For those of you who haven't heard of Dine About Town before, it is a perennial, city-wide promotional program, where upper-end restaurants offer prix-fixe, three-course meals for either lunch, dinner, or both. Lunch is $22.00, and dinner is $32.00. Plus tax and tip (but without drinks), it evens out to be around $29.00 for lunch and $41.00 for dinner--a fabulous deal if you select a restaurant that is otherwise exorbitant.

My colleagues from work and I made reservations for lunch this past Thursday at
Absinthe Brasserie and Bar. Before we were seated, one of my co-workers informed me, that the Los Angeles Times recently sent down a travel columnist to report back about her Dine About Town experience. The columnist actually had a "negative" Dine About Town experience, because of the "regular price" paying customers who complained about the wave of uncouth who swamped restaurants, and the supercilious restaurant staff who acted condescendingly towards Dine About Towners.

I wanted to test out these allegations, and make sure they were just isolated and deviant experiences. Unfortunately, they did have some truth--and I actually already knew that from my previous Dine About Town experiences.

I'd be a liar if I didn't tell you that I was a tad disappointed in Absinthe's Dine About Town menu. The three-course meal consisted of: 1) the "soup of the day" or the "salad of the day," 2) the "entrée of the day," and 3) a choice of three citrus sorbets. In my experience, sometimes when menu offerings are appended with the notorious "of the day" phrase, it means that the restaurant is serving the leftovers that it couldn't sell yesterday. However, I couldn't complain too much, because some restaurants don't even give Dine About Towners any options. At least we had that.

While we were placing our orders, my co-worker kindly asked if she could have the French onion soup as the "soup of the day," and our waitress's reaction was classic. She raised her arched brows (not quizzically, but with a look of profound haughtiness) and dryly replied, "Umm . . . No."

Okay Los Angeles Times, I agree.

Given our waitress's succinct answer, everyone at our table decided to start with the "salad of the day," (rather than the creamy mushroom "soup of the day"). The salad consisted of sliced fennel with blood orange which was drizzled with a light citrus vinaigrette. The flavor of crunchy, licorice-tinged fennel was heightened by the sweet and sour tang from the blood orange and the lovely bites of pitted and chopped dates.

Our choice for the entrée was limited to fettuccine pasta with rich cheese sauce, toasted bread crumbs, and chopped nuts, but I wouldn't have had any other entrée--the fettuccine was amazing. The pasta was perfectly cooked until al dente, and the crispy bread crumbs crackled like fireworks inside my mouth. The sauce was silken, and not too heavy.

Finally, our three-course meal concluded with a frosty sorbet, and the ladies at our table ordered every available flavor: blood orange, tangerine, and lemon. I ordered the tangerine sorbet, and it was artfully presented in a dainty martini glass. The sorbet was cool and refreshing, and it wasn't overpoweringly tart--even though it was ice-cold and had slightly sour kiss. However, I felt that the cinnamon dusted butter cookie that accompanied the sorbet was a little out of place. The taste of cinnamon reminds me of warmth and sweetness, so I was taken aback by it's presence next a chilly sorbet with a sour twang.

After the conclusion of our meal, my full belly and dazzled taste buds thanked me profusely for participating in the Dine About Town program. Okay, we did have a brief encounter with an "annoyed" waitress, but I'm not going to a restaurant to make friends with the waitstaff. Instead, I am pursuing an incredible meal at bank-breaking prices. I'm sure that other San Franciscans heartily agree with me. My co-workers and I are all trying at least two new restaurants through this 2006 session of Dine About Town, and many others will too. We count ourselves as being fortunate to be able to live in San Francisco and sample some of the cities best restaurants through the Dine About Town program. As long as they have the program, I know I'll be a repeat customer.

Post Note: After spending $31.00 for lunch, you may want to first give your lightened wallet a break before hitting the three-course meals again. Although our lunch selection was affordable when compared to Absinthe's $70.00 prix-fixe lunch offering of caviar and oysters, I had to let my wallet rejuvenate at a cheap pho restaurant, where I was able to pick up a two-course dinner for under $8.00. Nice!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Okay, Waaay Too Much Information

Wow, I was tagged again! This time, it is for a non-food related topic, and I was tagged by Paul of Kiplog and also by Tara of Love, Food, Wine, and Good Chick Flix. After I finish this post, I am going to go back in time to grade school, and put up my "invisible safety wall," so that I can't be tagged "it," until I call "time-in" again! :)

This meme is called "Too Much Information," and allows me to share ten interesting, and little-known facts about me. Okay, here goes:

1. Although people with regular working immune systems cannot get chicken pox twice, I have had chicken pox twice in my life: first, during second grade, and the second time was during a period when my immune system was seriously depressed. My treating doctor physically called me a "medical deviant."

2. I started turning gray when I was five years old.

3. Last month, I got a hair cut . . . And cut over 12 inches of hair off.

4. In high school, I was on the softball team that won state championships. Now, I haven't worked out in two years.

5. I did a reading for a milk commercial when their tag line was still "She/he likes milk and it shows, it does a body good!" Did I get chosen to do the commercial? Well, I didn't quit my day job, but I'd like to believe I got "pretty far" past the lengthy list of aspiring actors and actresses.

6. Growing up, my dream occupation was to become the first Asian Country Music star. Seriously.

7. My current beau is movie star who is friends with big-name celebrities--well, he was an extra in a movie with Will Smith, and has "spoken" once with Jason Lee (the one from "My Name is Earl").

8. Members of my immediate family used to be professional palm readers.

9. I unknowingly was the next-door neighbor to someone who was featured on America's Most Wanted--I was his neighbor after he committed the crime and while he was still on the loose.

10. I am allergic to cats and dogs. Okay, so that wasn't every interesting, but hey, I ran out of ideas!

Hope that meme was fun to read! I am going to tag . . . No one for now.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Eat This Letterman! My Top Ten Favorite Foods

I was recently tagged (actually, quite a while ago) by Kirk of Mmm-Yoso!!! for the "You Are What You Eat" meme, and I just took enough pictures this weekend to feel okay about posting My Top Ten Favorite Foods of all time.

Initially, this post seemed relatively easy, because I voluntarily talk and think about my favorite foods regularly and without provocation. However, as I was writing this meme, I realized it is very difficult to narrow down one's Top Ten favorite foods, especially when you love so many foods for so many different reasons. If you are even reading this food blog, I know you feel this way.

Luckily, after deep contemplation, I was finally able to narrow it down to ten. Ready, set, go for the countdown!

#10. Ice Cream and Frozen Yogurt

When I was "prepping" for this post, I asked a friend from Maryland what his ten favorite foods were. Each and every selection he made was some type of seafood. His amusing response helped me to gain a better understanding of how our current tastes and preferences are deeply entrenched into us from practices, family traditions, and memorable childhood experiences.

For me, ice cream is a "favorite food" that unequivocally reflects my upbringing in the deep south (west) as an Arizonan. In addition to tall glass of cold ice tea, my Dad taught me that a frosty ice cream bar is the "absolute best way" to ease the effects of a blistering day. The moment the creamy, chilled sensation of ice cream touches my lips, I am transported back to my childhood. It is an indescribable feeling of sweet euphoria.

#9. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are another childhood favorite of mine. I remember when my parents would splurge and bring the family to an expensive seafood buffet. I was the only person in the entire restaurant who didn't load up on shrimp and king crab legs. Instead, I high-tailed it to the (oft-loathsome looking) "spaghetti with tomato sauce" tray and would also shovel miniature cherry tomatoes onto my buffet plate. Although my parents probably didn't think they got their money's worth, I always did.

Now that my tastes have evolved into those of an adult, I still adore fresh tomatoes and all kinds of tomato sauce.

#8. Potatoes

This is why I could never go on Atkins / South Beach / the Zone. I love everything potato: potato salad, mashed potatoes, potatoes au gratin, scalloped potatoes, french fries, and baked potatoes. What else can one say about a powerful root vegetable that has been associated both famine in Ireland and morbid obesity in the United States? Amazing.

#7. Garlic

Smell my mouth after every meal, and you'll know why garlic is called "the stinking rose." Sorry Emeril-haters, but I agree with the guy when it comes to adding garlic to every meal. [Applause.]

#6. Curries

Although the pictures above are of Hawaiian curry in a plate lunch, I love all kinds of curries, including Thai and Pacific Islander curries made with creamy coconut milk, spicy Indian curries, simple Japanese curries, and also the Chinese curry my Mom used to make--with just carrots, yellow onions, potatoes, and chicken. In the words of Snoop Dogg, "dizzam, cuzzurry izzle delicizzle!"

#5. Rice

I am passionate about freshly steamed long-grain jasmine rice, short-grain calrose rice, and even the devilish-looking black rice! Plus, I love cooking and eating rice dishes like fried rice, coconut rice, Spanish rice, pilafs, risotto, and best of all, rice porridge with thousand-year-old-eggs.

#4. Eggs

Even though my "picture-taking-skills" still need massive improvement, I think that these pictures speak for themselves. Eggs are so versatile, and they add so much flavor and unique texture to dishes. Just think about airy and cloud-like meringues and a thick gelatinous custard. I'd say my favorite part of an egg though, is the yolk. You cook it in a different way, and you have an entirely different substance: runny yellow or creamy and fluffy fully-cooked yolk. (I'm gonna give you the laundry list again . . .) I can eat em' scrambled, sunny-side-up, over easy, boiled, poached, and even fermented until they become black and gray!

#3. Sandwiches and Hamburgers

Sandwiches and hamburgers are the perfect combination of all the necessary food groups: meat, grains, vegetables, and dairy. They are also the perfect meal for me, anytime, everytime.

#2. Meat-Filled Dumplings, Pies, Breads, and Fritters

Eating a meat-filled bun always is a wonderful surprise. I can't describe the feeling I get from biting into a hot meat-filled package other than, "it's waaaay better than getting the best prize in a Cracker Jack or cereal box." After all, it's not made of cheap cardboard or plastic, but it is an overflow of hearty and savory deliciousness. For me, it's even better than winning the lottery or being proposed to by George Clooney. . . I know. It is seriously that good. Just think of the incredible spectrum of meat-filled buns and pies, there's: empanadas, dim sum, wontons, shao loeng baos, gyozas, samosas, and so much more.

Annnddd finally, Passionate Eater's number one favorite food of all time is:

#1. Noodles and Pasta

Now that I got to my "Number One Food," I've run out of things to say. I am thinking though, of a hot bowl of any Asian noodle soup, and of the pad thai that I had yesterday night at the award-winning Marnee Thai.

Also, worth mentioning is my love for "fancy" teas. (I wanted to talk about my favorite "drink" too.) Unfortunately, these teas don't come cheap, and can put one back $50-$100 bucks for a gourmet set. But again, like the $35 buck spaghetti and cherry tomato buffet, it's worth every red cent!

In closing, I'd like you to reflect on the quote that inspired this meme in the first place:

"Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are." - Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Remember, though:

"I am whatever you say I am." - Eminem

And, I just wanted to tag. . . You! Hey, don't shut the web browser! Wait a minute, come back here!

Please feel free to share with me (and the world wide web) your Top Ten Favorite Foods!

Katimugambalon has already posted his delicious list!

And so has Elmomonster! See his list in the comments section of this post.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

My Food-Related New Year's Resolutions

New Year's Resolution #1: Eating instant noodles less than once a week.

Okay, I'll admit, some types of instant noodles are good, like "instant" pad kapraw (above), but I don't want to be like that guy my Mom always warns me about. You know, that single elderly man who lived off of instant ramen noodles, and was found "perfectly preserved" in his home, five years after he died! The urban legend goes, is that the man was "preserved" because the sodium and other preservatives in instant noodles did unnatural things to his body.

New Year's Resolution #2: To have meaningful "dinners" with my family and friends.

I recently read a disheartening article about how families are no longer spending time with each other at the dinner table. I have decided that this year (and for every year for the rest of my life), that for at least five days every week, I will sit down and eat dinner at home without watching television. (For those of you who know me personally, this is actually going to be "really" hard.)

Plus, it's not just going to be "eating with no T.V.," but I also will talk about at least two emotions that I am feeling on that day. Thus, if I am melancholy, I am going to explain what made me feel sad. No cheap "weather" discussions at the table.

New Year's Resolution #3: Eating out less, but eating "gourmet" more.

I remember when I was still a college student, I thought that the moment I graduated, I could finally pursue my idealistic dreams of making 5-course meals (with sausages I stuffed myself from hormone-free pork casings and organic kimchi I fermented in my own backyard) for dinner every night. "No homework, exams, or studying" meant more free time to do what I loved: to cook.

But now that I've entered the working world, instead of cooking for myself, I just eat take-out from one of my neighborhood restaurants. My justification is that, "I work my knuckles to the bone, day-in-and-day out, and I want to come home to a warm dinner!"

I've realized that to have "home-cooked" dinners on a work-night, that I'll need to start taking short-cuts and doing advanced prep for meals on the weekends. Thus, if I need to resort to the short-cut of using sauce-dispensing chopsticks, so be it.

Image from

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