Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sushi Partay

A little while ago some of us got together for a sushi party! We got the goods from Mitsuwa, a Japanese market in San Jose. Gigi says this place is better than Nijiya, which is the only one I've been to. I'll take her word for it!

You name it, we had it: amaebi, unagi ("salmon skin roll"), hamachi, salmon, tuna, wakame (seaweed salad)... so much food but soo good. It was my first time rolling, too!


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Viva la France! et Cynthia!

Resident Francophile, Cynthia, turns 25 today! In honor of her quarterlife, she threw a French themed potluck, and despite some groans, a lot of people made food!

I had some lentils, so I made a Coq Au Vin and just threw them in with that. It ended up looking like brown mush (or barf, according to Kevin), but it was quite tasty. Cyn made some crepes for dessert a la Ikea mix, and we also had a fruit tart from La Farine (which, btw, ain't all that). Other dishes people made/brought included:

- Mini quiches a la Costco
- Potato Puffs a la Gregoire
- Cassoulet w/ white beans, ham hock, sausage, other random meat
- Ratatouille!
- Beef Bourguignon
- Mussels cooked in white wine
- Chocolate bread pudding

What talented friends! =)

Joyeux Anniversaire Cynthia!


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Before there were microwaves...

Our microwave is broken, so we've been steaming our food. I suppose that's probably better, anyway?

Leftovers from Great China (sorry for the glare)


Monday, February 18, 2008

Great China

2115 Kittredge (between Shattuck & Oxford)
(510) 843-7996

Northern Chinese (Szechuan) in Berkeley

I've known about this place for a long time, and I have even gotten take-out (random veggies... I was hungry and in the area) during my college days without knowing what this place had to offer. There's a ridiculous wait, despite the 3 floors this place occupies. You can make reservations, and I'm glad we did. Thanks to my super yelper father, my family went here to try the peking duck it is popular for.

Why is this peking duck so lauded? Basically because they trim off the fat under the skin for you, and remove all the bones. This is perfect for the lazy (me) and the non-Chinese (stereotypically HM and afraid of getting down and dirty, which can also describe me). So was it as good as everyone praises it to be? Well, honestly, the only reason why I liked it so much was because it was so easy. If it had come normally (in bone and with fat), it wouldn't have been much different than your regular peking duck.

My mom agreed. She thinks that Mayflower in Milpitas is comparable, and that Mr. Fong's in Foster city is probably the best of the three, although the meat is fatty (Mr. Fong's is actually a roast duck).

Aside from the duck, we got some other dishes I have never seen before (nor had my parents). There was a "double skin" dish with the pea or whatever noodles (like vermicelli) and egg (the 2 "skins") mixed up with a bunch of other stuff. There was also a crab dish chock full of meat, but I had to hand over my portion to my sister because I could barely swallow my first bite. I hate ginger, and that's all I could taste. My aunt also didn't care for this dish. =P

So all in all, they have good duck, but not necessarily the best, although many people swear by it. My mom also said it probably depends on the duck, too, so who knows! I would probably go again because I like not having to work for my food (I don't like eat things with small bones, or shrimp still in their shells, etc).


VDAY: A Nice Bottle of Wine... and In N Out

Late, I know! As a surprise "appetizer," Mike also made some gnudi like the Spotted Pig is known for. He got the sheep's milk ricotta from Cheeseboard, and we used a Batali recipe for a brown butter sage sauce to serve it with. Good thing I run haha.

You can't go wrong with Animal Fries


Wednesday, February 13, 2008


3560 18th St (& Guerrero)
(415) 565-0360

Italian in the Mission

The best meal you can ever wish for when you have a canker sore :).

haha isn't that appetizing. When we went to Farina I was dying in pain and starving because I couldn't chew. I was planning to just get soup but luckily they have gnocchi with parmesan and truffle shaving and I was blown away. It was awesome. I also tried some of Kathy's chickpea soup and it was pretty good also. For dessert I got the Pearmisu and it was ok. I would definitely go back just for the gnocchi.

Pictures after the jump!


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Apple Confit w/ Creme Fraiche Panna Cotta

Since Michael Laiskonis, pastry chef of Le Bernardin, started blogging, I've found myself starring every single entry in my feed. He just shares so much knowledge and his recipes are so innovative... I still have yet to eat there, but I'm sure once I do I will enjoy it even more after reading his blog!

For a potluck, I wanted to make something that could be easily shared family style but still had an edge... I didn't want to make anything too fancy, so I thought his apple confit recipe pared down would work well, as well as his panna cotta. I changed the recipes so it would fit my schedule (e.g. I could easily make the caramel powder without the smoke, but I was trying to make both things at 9pm on a weeknight).

Unfortunately, I never got a chance to take real pictures of it! This is the only one I have, which is just a peek at the end product. =( It tasted good though! The panna cotta could've been silkier though. Not sure if that was me (making one giant one instead of 40 small servings) or the recipe.

Altered recipes after the jump.

Apple Confit
8 apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced (original recipe calls for granny smith - I used pink lady and some other organic apple I don't remember)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 t cinnamon
1/2 t vanilla extract
1 stick of butter

- Combine brown sugar, white sugar, and cinnamon
- Melt butter and vanilla together
- Butter deep pan (hotel pan), apply coat of sugar mixture
- Arrange one layer of apple slices. Brush on butter-vanilla mixture. Coat with sugar mixture. Repeat until done with apples.
- Bake at 300, covered with foil, for 45 min.
- Remove foil, bake for 15 more min.
- Place parchment/wax paper on top and put something that will keep the apples flat on top (I didn't have another pan of the same size, so I used smaller pans with flat bottoms and ramekins. Ghetto, I know). Bake for 1 more hour.
- Let cool, refrigerate for at least 4 hours - overnight.

Creme Fraiche Panna Cotta
1.5 cup cream
2/3 cup sugar
zest of 2 cara cara oranges
10g gelatin (I used powdered bc it's hard to find sheets retail) "bloomed" in a few T of water/juice
1 cup cream fraiche

- Cream + sugar + zest over medium
- Add gelatin, temper into yogurt. Strain (removes all the zest and possible chunks of cream fraiche)
- Spray mold(s) and refrigerate for a few hours-overnight (or freeze for 2 hours)


La Note

2377 Shattuck Ave.
(510) 843-1535

French (or Provenรงal) in West Berkeley

I've been here many a time in the last few years, and it's definitely one of those places that gets majorly hyped. I first heard about it back in 2003 from my co-RA in the dorms who had spent a year studying abroad in Paris. OK, I thought, this place must be pretty good since she's probably been to Provence. I remember being completely let down by the supposedly divine raspberry oatmeal pancakes, as well as the eh eggs.

I had also gone for dinner once with a friend, and I remember being a believer in monkfish after my meal. Buttery and rich, that dinner was one of the best I had in college. But then again, that was pre-SF and before I really began fine-tuning my palate. I went here for another brunch last year, and got the deliciously sounding open-faced omelette with potatoes and caramelized onions, which was disappointingly bland.

After my let-down brunch experiences here, I went here again this past weekend, only because Mike had never been before. This time it was actually quite good. I would usually average the stars in the review, but I'm feeling generous. I believe that this restaurant can be redeemed, given these crucial factors:

- Know what to order. Since I had already gone through disappointing menu choices, I knew what to avoid and we picked dishes that were actually good this time. Mike had lemon gingerbread pancakes which he raved about (they were ok for me. I'm not a fan of gingerbread, and that flavor was very strong). It was cutely plated with blueberries and poached pears. I had a normal ham & cheese omelette accompanied with roasted tomatoes which were yummy. Mike had a side of homefries which were roasted with rosemary and garlic = mmm. I remember having the homefries before and feeling pretty indifferent about them, probably because they're easily burnt... which leads me to the next factor....

- Beat the rush. Sure, there are practical reasons behind this (you don't have to wait, less crowded, blah blah blah), but the main reason, especially in this case, is that the busier the restaurant is, the worse the quality of the food will be. We went at 9am whereas typical brunch time is 10am, and we didn't have to wait at all, and we also got good food. I have no idea if the food would've been comparable at 10am, especially given my previous experiences there.

All in all, La Note was redeemed this weekend, but hopefully they're consistent from here on out. We'll see!

*** UPDATE ***

Went here for a late lunch and was relieved to see that their brunch/breakfast menu is still good until 2:30pm! I got french toast (more specifically cinnamon brioche pain perdu) that was supposed to be coated in an orange blossom batter then sprinkled with lavender honey (sugar?)... but the flavors were really really subtle since cinnamon is a very overpowering spice. Mike's lamb sausage was really juicy, especially with the thick red sauce. Mmmmm



600 Guerrero St. (and 18th St.)
(415) 487-2600

[French] Bakery/Dessert place in the Mission

One of my favorite places in SF. What I love about this place is the atmosphere -- it's so comfortable. It's the type of place where you can spend an hour or two just reading by yourself. The quality of the desserts is very good, as is the food (try the sandwiches). The only thing this place lacks is originality/innovation in their menu (although that's not what they're going for, anyway).

*** UPDATE ***

I've never tried their loaves of bread before, but I finally did last week. Here's a sourdough with dates & hazelnuts... the crust was very caramelized which I'm personally not a fan of, but the bread was fluffy and the flavors subtle.


Friday, February 01, 2008

What Did Mommy Cook?

I woke up this morning with an email from my mother, with the subject line "What did Mommy cook," including a series of photos as follows.

Ooh the suspense is killing me!


Apparently she just watched the movie hehe. Here's an email reply from my Dad:

Mommy got a bit of inspiration after watching Ratatouille last week. I borrowed the DVD from the Fremont Lib. Plus we watched the Keller, the chef/owner of French Laundry cooking show on KQED last Saturday and he made this eggplant quiche with a topping that is like the thing that Remy made in the movie (slices of tomato, yellow squash and zuchinni, but no eggplant b/c the eggplant was mixed with goat cheese and stuff as the pie stuffing and it was baked). Does not sound very appetizing to me as goat cheese is gamey.

Mommy needs to slice her veggies more thinly. While it may look good, the taste is ahh ... I’ll just say that I am not a vegetarian.

Plus, Mommy wants to show off her bowl cover thingy that she just received from the mail order vendor.

Before and after baking