Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Food Blogger's Guide to the Globe Meme

Cookie Crumb from I'm Mad and I Eat, you are awesome! Thank you for tagging me for the Traveler's Lunchbox meme, "Five Things to Eat Before You Die." I've been patiently waiting for a tag so that I could get postin'. Here goes!

1. Regional Foods from their Authentic Locations

Let me give you some context about my #1 choice, I'd like to eat any famous food in a place I haven't been before, but it has to be authentic and from the "best" source out there. Thus, for example, I'd want to eat real New York pizza from the oldest pizzeria in New York City (meaning, the classic thin crust with the perfect "tensile elasticity,"), a Maine lobster roll overflowing with meaty nuggets of fresh lobster from a beachside stand, an authentic Philly cheesesteak sandwich with neon orange 'whiz (Cheese Whiz) oozing over the oily scraps chopped beef, a Phillipine mango straight off the tree, or even freshly brewed black coffee in Columbia (or Seattle).

Although these pictures are (of basmati rice, naan, chicken tikka masala, and palak paneer) are from my neighborhood Pakistani restaurant, Indus Village Pakistani Cuisine, I love this place, and if it tastes anything like the authentic thing, I can't wait to go to Pakistan to get the real deal!

2. A Dish with Black and White Truffles (Together)

Hey, I only get to live once. I've only had tissue paper-thin shavings of white truffles before (at Lulu's Restaurant in the city), and they were so fine and the taste was so subtle, that I didn't even know that I ate them. They literally melted on my tongue like air. I would love to try both varieties of truffles side-by-side, to taste the difference and finally understand what makes a truffle so valuable and why. This time, I want to chew on the whole truffle, just like how I used to chew on wads of bubble gum during softball season.

Oh, and also, if you can incorporate saffron and beluga caviar into the dish and not have one flavor monopolize the dish, then I'd really want to try that. Send the bill to the beau please.

3. A Dinner Hand-Prepared By a Celebrity Chef

Hi Wolfgang. I eat your frozen California-style pizzas and canned soups all the time. But Wolfie, I'd love to eat something you (not a machine or a sous chef) have made especially for me.

. Nachos Similar to Those I Had at the Phoenix Suns Game Back in 1996

Those nachos (with the canned and processed cheese and black olive rings) were really good. I don't remember if it was because I was really hungry or what, but I will never forget those nachos.

5. As Many Meals I Can with My Family

It is hard to get the entire gang together--the siblings, Mom, Pops, and the beau. Eating with them makes everything taste so much better, because I love them so much. That is why I want to eat meals with them, as many times as I can before I die.

Okay, I'd like to tag:
1. Kirk of Mmm-Yoso!!!
2. Elmo Monster of Monster Munching (check out his great list here)
3. J Haw or Katimugambalon of The Jesuit Gourmet (check out their great lists here)
4. TFP of The Food Pornographer
5. Pink Nest of Pinknest
6. Bee Yinn Low from Rasa Malaysia
(check out her great list here)

Also, if you'd like to participate, let me know, and I'll tag you too!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Oh Yeah Ozumo!

Many Bay Area food bloggers were invited to the 2nd Annual Bay Area Bloggers Picnic ("BABP") this last Saturday, and it was a party to end all parties!

Unfortunately, due to a traumatic last minute change in plans, Passionate Eater was a "no show." To help me to ease the sorrows and the hunger pangs of missing the (food blogger) party-of-the-year (which I had planned for over two months in advance), my beau brought me out with a group of great friends to
Ozumo, a place I endearingly call "the Bay Area's Nobu" or at least "this Bay Area Blogger's Belief of What Nobu Tastes Like." (As a treat for me, my beau picked up our share of the bill which ended up being over $85 bucks for the both of us. What a sweetheart! I love you beau!)

The entire day on Saturday, I reassured myself that it was okay that I missed the BABP, but I was stunned with the pictures from the event that were uploaded early that evening. You can see the remarkable spread potluck dishes from BABP here.


Well, given that feast, please bear with me as I quickly recite and show pictures of our meal at Ozumo:

We dined on rainbow roll made with chilled slices of tuna, hamachi, salmon, and butterflied shrimp wrapped snugly over a tubular California roll; dragon roll made with blankets of grilled unagi and of avocado over sushi rice and tempura shrimp;

California roll stuffed with creamy slices of ripe avocado and a mixture made of delicate flakes of snow crab moistened with a mayonnaise binding-agent;

Dohyo, or an ahi tuna tartare made with cubes of supple ahi tuna on top of a luscious avocado cream, and curds of cheese-like tofu. The tartare was served with deep-fried gyoza chips and boat-shaped endive leaves (to use as scoops);

Futago, or thin slices beef tenderloin gently hugging tiny mounds of sauteed spinach and Japanese eggplant, and drizzled with a miso sesame sauce;

Kaiso, or a chilled salad, made with three varieties of Northern Japanese seaweed and dressed in a sanbai-su sauce;

A platter of sashimi, including tuna (marguro), wild salmon (sake), yellow tail (hamachi), and sweet prawn (amaebi);

Gyu-kakuni, or tender slow-braised shortribs and thin slices daikon in a miso-veal reduction; and finally, a good ole'...

Tempura roll, filled with with crunchy-fried tempura shrimp, cucumber, taiware, and tobiko.

(That post was an easy one, because all I did was post pictures and plagarize the sushi descriptions from the menu! I gotta do that more often!)

In closing, for lavish celebrations (courtesy of the corporate company or for a great friend), I would highly recommend Ozumo. The fish is fresh and high quality, and the servers are attentive and kind. But for the lower-income crowd's daily sushi fare, my advice: stick to the authentic sushi hole-in-the-wall in Daly City where none of the chefs (or servers) speak English.

My thoughts on BABP? I also highly recommend going! (Look at that food!)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Chinese Chicken Soup for the Soul

When I am longing for home, nothing conjures up soothing images from home like a warm, hearty bowl of chicken noodle soup.

When I hear "chicken noodle soup," I often think of a simple golden broth filled with floating coils of cork-screw egg noodles, bite-sized dices of softened celery and carrots, and diminutive morsels of supple chicken breast.

However, when I think of "Mom's chicken noodle soup," I think of heavy metal pots simmering with a fragrant and seasoned broth for several hours.

I think of large portions of tender chicken meat imbued with the essence of ginger root and sweetened with the licorice-like flavors of star anise. I think of the dark colors of soy sauce, penetrating the skin of the chicken meat.

I think of thick and slippery Chinese wheat noodles--cooked past the al dente stage--and wilted watercress suspended in a lustrous coffee-colored broth.

Ahh, chicken noodle soup. It satisfies my soul, but most importantly, it satisfies my stomach. I "think" I am going to have some now!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Eating In Take-Out

Sometimes, when eating straight take-out food is too much, I like to combine take-out with one homemade item. Today? Church's Fried Chicken and homemade KFC-style coleslaw. Yeah, I know, I kinda defeated the purpose of the homemade item by making it "KFC-style" and by using someone else's recipe. But I hope you'll enjoy this! Although it is not my own recipe, I've used it since college, so I can attest that it works and tastes refreshingly smooth, crunchy, and tangy!

Imitation Fast Food Coleslaw
Recipe adapted from Top Secret Recipes

1 large head green cabbage (alternatively, you can use 1/2 small head of red cabbage with 1 medium head of green cabbage for more "color")
1 large carrot
1/2 white onion
1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup nonfat milk
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp celery salt (you can also add 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of celery seed instead)

freshly ground pepper

Finely shred the cabbage and carrots and mince the onion. (Depending on my mood, I sometimes actually like the cabbage cut into more sizeable shreds. It takes longer for the mayonnaise mixture to penetrate into the cabbage when the shreds are more significant though. Your choice.) Combine the non-vegetable ingredients and whisk until smooth. Mix all ingredients until the cabbage and carrots are thoroughly coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hrs before serving.

Tip: This recipe calls for buttermilk. If you bought the buttermilk solely for the purpose of making this recipe and know that the rest of the carton will go unused and eventually to waste, try using it instead of plain milk when making Bisquick (or any other instant mix) pancakes. The acidic nature of the buttermilk makes the pancakes fluffier and more moist.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Seasons of Change

I've made lots of changes this weekend in the layout of the blog. These changes have been in the pipeline for quite some time (for example, I made the header image with the Golden Gate Bridge background in 2005), but I recently got a spurt of energy after switching to Blogger Beta. Do you like it, or no? Let me know what you think!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Blogging Buddies

My friend just launched a new blog! Check out her inaugural post and come back to visit it for a regular dose of articulate prose to brighten your week. Don't forget to stop by her original blog too, for her poetic reflections.

Also, this upcoming week, a guest will be blogging on Passionate Eater! There are many "passionate eaters" in this world, and I want to give every one of them a forum to share their views--on eating passionately of course!

Till then, please feast your eyes on a savory red onion tart made with chevre (goat cheese), thinly-sliced circles of Mexican squash, crescent-shaped wedges of purple eggplant, and heaping handfuls of grated parmesan cheese. The tart was on its way into the oven when I snapped this photo. My beau and I made this tart for weekly small group, along with a simple salad made with mixed greens, thinly-cleaved segments of gala apples (that had been "treated" in acidulated water), grape tomatoes, and sliced button mushrooms, all which was gracefully bathed in a tart balsamic vinaigrette. The main dish that evening was baked salmon with dill.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Testing Blogger Beta

I am trying out new Blogger Beta! I am so excited that you can assign labels to the posts! I also like that my Blogger account is now also my Google account. If I coud link my Yahoo!, Google, Flickr, and Blogger accounts all together, that would be ideal.

But I've found a few glitches with the Beta so far. Don't try to use the "Newer Posts" "Older Posts" links at the end of each post, as they have some narley bugs. (Too bad, I love that addition.) Plus, you can't code html into the template--they don't have an html coding option available yet, so you have to add in sidebar links one-by-one in a "user-unfriendly" program. Entering links one-at-a-time into preset text fields? I can cut and paste code faster! But I am confident the bugs were work themselves out.

Xanga, Typepad, WordPress, and users of other miscellaneous blogging programs, prepare to change to the superior blogging program!

Here are some pictures of a dinner made by Miss E. for small group last Friday! There are two types of baked penne pasta (one with olives, one without) and a luxurious salad with sliced beets, goat cheese, walnuts, and fennel.

Note: Whoops, I am going to revert back to the old blog template format for a bit! (I need my links for now.)

Sunday, August 13, 2006

I Do... Love Weddings!

As I've said before, weddings are an ideal forum for learning great entertaining ideas. My beau and I attended a stunning wedding and wedding reception at Hong Kong East Ocean Restaurant in Emeryville, California this weekend, and were able to eat like Kings and Queens. Although this post will be easy on the eyes (and my tongue, as I won't be writing much), I hope you enjoy the pictures and are inspired! Sorry, I accidentally did not snap photos of the soup or the dessert, and I apologize that most of the pictures are blurry--we were hungry and wanted to dig in immediately. Thus I had to act quick and snap action shots!

I'll be posting full-length, descriptive posts soon--I'm pretty busy this week. Also, with the pictures, I'm providing the menu names of the dishes. (I love the way Chinese restaurants translate the names of their dishes!)

Barbecue Assortment Platter (cool and refreshing):

Jumbo Prawn Salad with Honeydew Sauce (the prawns and honeydew were deep-fried in a tempura-like batter) :

Garden Vegetables (a fancy way to say "broccoli") with Sun-Dried Scallops Topping:

Royal Shark Fin Soup with Shredded Chicken (a must-have classic at every Chinese wedding) and Crackling Peking Duck Skin with Steamed Bread Pockets and Shrimp Chip Crisps:

Imperial Braised Lobster:

Crispy Roasted Chicken:

Steamed Fresh Catch (Angler):

Yang Chow Fried Rice:

Warm Puree of Red Beans with Lily and Chinese-Style Cake (airy and light sponge cake with fresh strawberries, kiwi, frosting, and fruit cocktail inside):

Congratulations to the happy couple!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Thank You Friends!

Thank you everyone for your kind and generous birthday wishes! Thank you for the emails, the phone calls, the birthday cake, the food magazine subscription, the homemade dinner, the cooking class, the gift certificate to Peet's, and the Tuesday lunch at Faz! I love you all, and I am touched by everything you did! You reminded me that friends and family are the most important in life, and how food unifies us all.

Although this won't be a full-length post (it is many just of pictures), I hope this gives you an idea of the fun I had. Here are some pictures of the courses in the Australian-themed four-course cooking class "gift" I was given.

Course #1: Shrimp Encrusted with Hungarian Paprika and Glazed with Pomegranate Molasses

Course #2: Chicken with a Ginger and Plum Reduction

Course #3: Eggplant, Red Onion, and Zucchini Squash Tart

Course #4: Passionfruit Mousse

Thank you again friends! Hope your August will be as wonderful as you have made mine!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Big Bloggers in Little China

My old blog friend, Eat, Drink, & Be Merry and Jeni from Oishii Eats visited San Francisco (and me) this past weekend, and I had a deliciously fantastic time with them.

This is my third meet-up of a fellow food blogger. Earlier on in June, I met with Rick James from the Random Burrito and he was everything I expected and more. He was sweet, laid-back, and most of all forgiving. What I mean by forgiving is that I showed up over half-an-hour late at a time and place (the Ferry Building) that I suggested! What made matters worse, is that all the stores were closed at my chosen meeting time and place, so essentially, we met at the equivalent of an abandoned warehouse. On top of that, Rick James generously bought me breakfast at the only open place--a place similar to Starbucks (his most hated place ever)--and when we were talking, crumbs were spewing from my mouth and debris was stuck all over my face and my pants. Like the gentleman he is, he never said a derogatory thing. Rick James is truly the sweetest thing out there.

As for this past week, Eat, Drink, & Be Merry and Jeni from Oishii Eats were going to be in San Francisco's Chinatown, so at my beau's suggestion, we decided to try the Zagat's rated dive of Yee's Restaurant. ("Zagat's" and "dive" in the same sentence? That is an awesome contradiction.)

According to its laminated menus and the yellowed newspaper clippings adorning its grease-smudged windows, Yee's Restaurant has a lunch special of three entrees for $15.00 and lunch-time "economy rice plates." Eat, Drink, & Be Merry jokingly remarked on how the name of "economy rice plates" made patrons feel cheap for ordering those rice plates. After his comment, I laughed nervously and decided to avoid the "economy rice plates," for fear of looking like a stingy miser.

As for ordering, I stepped back and allowed the Cantonese-speaking Eat, Drink, & Be Merry to work the "native speaker" magic. (Legend has it, that Cantonese speakers get better service, larger portions, and cheaper food at Chinese restaurants in San Francisco.) Our lunch proved that this "legend" is likely true.

No one bothered to snap pictures of the complimentary dishwater-flavored broth they served to us with the boiled and soggy carrot "floaties," but the food bloggers went camera-crazy on the rest of the meal.

Jeni from Oishii Eats is adorable! Her brother started helping himself to the meal and she quietly asked him, "Brother, please put that wonton back into the bowl so that I can take a picture." It was fun to watch the sibling dynamic and see him reluctantly and delicately place the wonton back in its original location. It seriously looked better after he had rearranged the wontons than it did originally.

Our favorite dish of the afternoon? The fluffy, cloud-like steamed breads (maantoes) which we filled with thin scallion wisps, sticky spoonfuls of hoisin sauce, and crisp, mahogany-colored duck skin and meat.

The rest of the dishes were made in the classic "San Francisco Chinatown" way: with tremendous amounts of oil, MSG, and cornstarch. Yea baby!

We ordered Chinese broccoli, and the broccoli proved to be so oily that my chopsticks barely had enough traction to grab onto the greasy stems that were even further slicked with a wild drizzling of oyster sauce.

Eat, Drink, & Be Merry helped me to order seafood chow mein (hi shen tsow mein) the right way. In the hi shen tsow mein, the cooked egg noodles had been pan-fried to yield a crisp paella-like crust, and the noodles were served with an overflowing abundance of seafood and a luscious, coagulated cornstarch sauce. My description of the consistency of the sauce may sound uber-nasty, but I'm tellin' you, achieving the perfect "coagulatedness" of the sauce in hi shen tsow mein is both an art and a science.

We also ordered the salted pork ribs that had just enough resistance to require me to pull and tug off the meat from the bones with my tightened teeth. The chewiness of the pork and the penetrating flavors of the salt and piquant jalapenos was everything that I knew this dish to be. Execution of this dish? Impeccably Chinese.

Finally, we sampled the walnut prawns, a dish that undoubtedly originated in the streets of Some-Chinatown, U.S.A. (Mayonnaise in Chinese food? Clearly from America.) The prawns were heavily drenched with abundance of mayonnaise, so much in fact, that the prawns had clumped together in a massive baseball of mayo. The prawns were accompanied with candied walnuts that were coated with a hard sugary shell.

As I polished off our family-style meal, I realized that the prices were reasonable and for being in the heart of Chinatown, Yee's Restaurant is a great place to get the full San Francisco-Chinatown effect: the heartburn and the window view of the colorful exported plastic merchandise lining the streets and alleyways.

It was great meeting and seeing you Jeni from Oishii Eats and Eat, Drink, & Be Merry! Stay tuned to their sites for more pictures of Chinatown and their visit to San Francisco. (Also, although I was unable to meet Best of L.A., she has a great series on her visit to San Francisco just a few weeks ago.)
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