Wednesday, January 30, 2008

AWESOMENESS in the form of a phone

I received a special package today! Unfortunately, I don't have a LAN line at home, nor does it work at my office =P That's ok. Novelty phone it is!


Friday, January 25, 2008

$20,000 cup of coffee x 2

Note: I wrote this the day the cafe opened (23Jan08), but I had to wait for the pictures to post. These were taken from Alice's camera phone! Such good quality for a phone. And here's a chat from today:

[13:34] alice: i went to blue bottle again
[13:34] alice: and had the kyoto iced coffee
[13:34] alice: I'M AN ADDICT
[13:34] katwork: are you serious??
[13:34] katwork: with who?
[13:34] alice: my friend
[13:34] alice: lalalalalalal
[13:34] alice: i love coffee
Spoken like a true crack fiend.

So today was the opening of the new Blue Bottle Cafe at the Mint Plaza. I normally wouldn't care that much, but there was a NYTimes article about their new machine, the "siphon," and it dramatically described their brewed coffee as the greatest thing next to sliced bread. I am not a coffee connoisseur whatsoever, so I was fully expecting to not even be able to tell the difference.

Alice and I trekked over to the shady Mint Plaza, and after a good 5 minutes of being confused, we finally found our way to the happenin new space that is no longer a kiosk. There were 3 roasts from the siphon bar that we could choose from, and each was served with a different treat. At roughly $10 each, I went for the $11 Nicaraguan brew, and Alice the Ethiopian. I really just chose mine based on the snack that was served with it (Miette toffee). Not until later did we realize that each pot can serve 3 cups. Whoops! But $20+ worth of coffee? We might as well try more than one. Also to our surprise, we HAD to drink it there - you can't take it to go. There wasn't an explanation as to why, but I can make up my own: drinking it 30 seconds after brewed in a glass cup enhances your experience, as opposed to drinking it all out of a paper cup. Am I right???

Since the siphon can only make 5 "pots" at a time, we had a little while to wait and take pictures. There was also a taller and more ostentatious display of a machine that made slow-drip [iced?] coffee that took about an 8-hr process according to one guy. I won't really go into detail about the machine itself since the article is pretty thorough. But yeah, those Japanese. "They must have nothing better to do," says Alice.

Iced coffee machine

So my pot was exactly as the article described - juicy and sweet. "Juicy" is probably the best description I can think of for this coffee experience. I'm also the type of person who adds a ton of cream and sugar to my coffee (I like to drink coffee as if it's melted coffee ice cream from Haagen Daz), but I was able to sip this brew black without making a face as if something died in my mouth. It also tasted pretty much the same after I added cream and sugar... and I don't know if it's because there might have been residual undissolved sugar at the bottom of the cup, but towards the end it lost its "juiciness" and felt more on the creamy side.

Alice's Ethiopian brew, on the other hand, was distinctly different in taste - very fruity with hints of blueberry, according to the menu. Unlike the Nicaraguan roast, this one lost its flavor once we added cream and sugar. Alice preferred this one, and ended up drinking more even after she started feeling dizzy. Anything with caffeine (e.g. coffee, soda, red bull, etc) usually has no effect whatsoever on me, but after 2 cups, I started feeling light-headed, and even as I'm writing this 4 hours and one bathroom visit later, my head still hurts. That must be some potent stuff!

Despite having to drink the coffee there, we were able to take the rest back with us. Now I'm not really sure what to do with it, since it gave me a headache... but it's $11 coffee! Sacrifices will have to made this time. My health (sanity??) is more important! You win this round, Blue Bottle!


Monday, January 21, 2008

Boo the Rain!, or Oatmeal Cookies

I made some oatmeal cookies using my favorite TJ's trail mix: almonds, pistachios, and tart cherries. I usually eat just the nuts and throw away most of the cherries, but this time I thought they'd be useful. I just "fattened" them using some sugar and white wine. Recipe was Sherry Yard's, although what it says on the website is actually different than what's in her cookbook (in her cookbook, she calls for 3/4 t cinnamon, and 1.5 t nutmeg).


93 and a Chinese cake

*** UPDATE ***
Note from my mother:

A) I have dry cleaned the clothes you selected and ready for you to pick up at your nexrt visit.
B) Nice pictures and description in your website about the cake.
C) There are some corrections needed about the description of the cake in your website:
“… so my mom squeezed in just happiness & longevity (left out wealth/career or something like that)” -> The first word is “luck”, not “happiness”, not” left out wealth/career”. You’d better correct it.
D) Some reference info for you:
The 4 letters are (to see the Chinese characters, click the following from the manual bar: view -> encode -> try Unicode or various Chinese font options (such as Chinese traditional, Chinese simplified, etc.)
Fu2 (): Luck
Lu4 (祿): career
Shou4 (): longevity
Xi3 (): double happiness (such as wedding)
The 3 letters your grandma requested are: Fu2, Lu4, Shou4.
The 2 letters I wrote are: Fu2, Shou4
About the taro: Cantonese pronounciation is “vu3-tao2” that is close to the pronouciation of “wealthy beginning”.
I made a birthday cake for my grandmother's 93rd birthday. Here is what was requested:

- not too sweet, light
- taro (something about longevity I think?)
- fruit
- walnut exterior

That pretty much equates to a Chinese bakery cake. I ended up making a chiffon cake based on Annie's recipe (thanks!) in 3 layers, with two fillings - a taro cream, and then a vanilla custard with strawberries & kiwi. So this was my first time working with taro, and to make the filling I peeled it, cut it up into smallish pieces, boiled it, then pureed it up in my food processor. It was super gooey and thick, so I added some coconut milk and sugar, where it then became a less sticky paste. It was still pretty dense, so I whipped some cream up and folded it in to lighten the texture.

The cake turned out fairly well... although my grandma's initial reactions were that (1) it was too small, and (2) there were no Chinese characters written on it. After a quick run to the grocery store, the latter was soon fixed. Since my small cake was also covered in fruit, there wasn't much space to write the usual 3 characters, so my mom squeezed in just happiness & longevity (left out wealth/career or something like that). The only pictures I have of the inside of the cake to see the slices are blurry, so I'm not going to post them, sorry. I really need a new camera!

Not bad for my first time. A little taro root goes a long way, and I'll try experimenting with the leftovers. Chinese birthday cakes are a bit restrictive, but maybe next time I'll be able to think of something more creative. I'll also make it square/rectangular (easier to cut) and bigger with thicker layers (the cake rises as it bakes, but sinks significantly as it cools).

L: chocolate chip cookies for the kiddies, R: my mom's deft hands at work


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

TOP 5 of 2007

I know I'm very late with this post, but eh.

Top 5 Hit Dishes of my own
- Truffle Crab Mac n Cheese
- Mascarpone Cheesecake
- Fruit Tarts
- Lavender Shortbread
- Molten [Peppermint] Chocolate Cakes

Top 5 dishes worth drooling over
- pancetta-wrapped quail w/ porcini bread pudding @ A Cote
- baked chanterelles w/ leeks & truffle oil @ A Cote
- my aunt's sticky rice
- cheese rolls from Taste of Texas
- grilled cod @ Oyaji

Top meal that did not sit well with my stomach and sent me on a 24-hr trip with a porcelain bowl
- Google MVizzy!!! Darn you, oysters!

Top 3 experiments that didn't quite work
- plum mochi cake
- beer floats (they ended up being 90% ice cream)
- "caviar" + phyllo

Top 5 Korean restaurants that will hook you up if you are [with] a Korean that orders in Korean
- My Tofu House
- Teo
- The "Korean Restaurant" on Taraval
- Brothers
- ALL KOREAN RESTAURANTS! Darn you, Chinese people!

Non-food-related TOP 5's after the jump (so handy!)
Top 5 Songs (in no order)

- Radiohead: "All I Need"
- Bat for Lashes: "The Wizard"
- Grizzly Bear: "He Hit Me"
- Feist: "I Feel It All"
- Panda Bear: "Bros"

Top 5 Albums (in no order)
- Radiohead: In Rainbows
- MIA: Kala

- Feist: The Reminder
- Iron & Wine: The Shepherd's Dog
- Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Is Is (EP)

Top 5 songs that will make me start dancing and distract me in the kitchen
- Kanye: "Good Life"
- !!!: "Myth Takes"
- Of Montreal: "Gronlandic Edit"

- MIA: "Bamboo Banga"
- Daft Punk: all of Alive 2007 (not a song, I know)

Top 3 awesome shows
- Grizzly Bear @ Great American
- MIA @ the Rickshaw
- Will Shortz @ Zellerbach (kind of counts)

Top awkward and uncomfortable showing of animated porn
- Notes to a Toon Underground

Top 3 Non-food-and-music blogs I stumbled upon and instantly added to my feed
- Poplicks
- The Sartorialist
- Kanye's (he finds some cool stuff!)

Top video game (despite being the only video game I played all year)

Top venue to avoid after grocery shopping
- Mezzanine

Top 5 milestones of 2007
- Finishing the Nike Women's Half Marathon (undocumented: post-marathon meal was at Shanghai House = hand-cut noodles!)
- Catering my sister's wedding (and of course, her getting married)
- My little sister starting college!
- The birth of Isabella Su-Ah Chang!
- Starting a new job

What a year! I'm excited for the year to come though... yay 2008!


Monday, January 07, 2008

Banana [Nut] Muffins

I make banana muffins quite often - whenever I have bananas that are going to go bad soon, but I felt like posting today because I think I finally figured out the perfect recipe (at least what I think is the perfect recipe).

The key is to use overripe bananas because they get sweeter the riper they are (i.e. brown spots = good)... that way you don't have to add as much sugar.

When I first started this blog, I didn't intend to put up my recipes because I thought it would make posts too cluttered and the blog too long... but I finally took the 10 minutes to figure out how to make expandable posts, so here you go. FYI, I've written my recipes approximately the same way that I write them for myself... which means that if you've never baked in your life you may need more detail (reference other recipes I guess?). I love me some muffins + milk!

Recipe after the jump.

Recipe for ~10 large muffins
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter @ room temp
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 t vanilla
1 egg
3-4 overripe bananas, mashed

1 cup oats (optional)
1 cup roughly chopped nuts (optional)

1 cup AP flour (or 2 cups if not using oats)
1/4 t salt
1 t baking soda
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg

- Cream butter + sugar, then oil
- Add rest of wet
- Sift dry, add to wet until just combined
- Add oats & nuts, if using them, until just combined
- Bake at 350 for about 25 min. (or until they pass the toothpick test) middle rack, rotated halfway

Note: This can definitely be made as a bread or mini muffins instead. You'll just have to adjust the baking times (lower and longer, or lower and shorter, respectively).


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The House

1230 Grant Avenue (and Columbus)
(415) 986-8612

Asian Fusion in North Beach

It's a bit random to find an Asian Fusion restaurant in central North Beach, but this tiny place seems pretty popular, and for a reason. Decent food, decent prices, good location... I definitely was not close to blown away, but I didn't really have any complaints with this meal.

Their porkchop was cooked very nicely - extremely moist (my mom thought it tasted too "fatty" - well, what do you expect?), but the pomegranate glaze was a bit too intense and sweet. The scallops app was good - you can't go wrong with dousing anything in butter. My dad said their noodles were hand-pulled, but I find that highly unlikely because they looked and tasted like normal noodles... plus, he got that piece of information from yelp, which is very unreliable.

The only thing unreasonable about this dinner was the cost. It was a bit overpriced for what it was, especially a $5 tiny pot of Chinese tea? Uhh....


Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Ending 07 with LOTS OF FOOD

I spent the end of the year (and the beginning of the new one) with my family and relatives, which usually means... LOTS of EATING. That's really all we do - I mean, I have a family full of yelpers! No wonder why I have a food blog (I don't do yelp though).

Last weekend we went to Yank Sing with my sister's in-laws, and hung out in the Ferry Building. I finally got those snowflake cookie cutters I had been ogling for the last few weeks at 50% off! I also tried my first Miette macarons and they were pretty good. I haven't made any since those random post-wedding batches, but mine were definitely way more delicate and less stable. Their stuff is just so cute - flavor and taste is maybe above average, but they are really just selling their presentation. There are also these adorable cake stands by Whitney Smith that are sold there as well. Too bad they're like $65 each!

I also had dinner with my dad's side at the House. It was surprisingly super busy - probably because of the holidays. It was pretty decent - a bit expensive for what it was, but it was a satisfying meal - recap to come. We followed up at Golden Gate bakery with the best egg custard tarts in the city. Nothing like scarfing down on the street with crumbs all over your face and clothes... with your parents looking just as stupid.

NYE was spent at Sushi House with the in-laws again. I like saving the best bites for the last of my meal, but I had eaten so much that I couldn't even enjoy the last piece of hamachi... so I saved it to pop in my mouth right before we left. This lone slice was repeatedly mistaken for me wasting food, so I had to ward off many chopsticks trying to swipe my fish. I ended up making a barricade of chopsticks so my family would stop trying to take my yellowtail!

And last, but not least, my first day of 2008 has been spent trying on all my mom's vintage clothes (not vintage to her, although I've seen one or two of her dresses in some style/fashion blogs) and her feeding us veggie "hamburger" patties. My little sister was not a fan. "It tastes like human flesh!!"

Happy 2008! I have a feeling that this will be a good year. =)