Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Challenge: Goodbye, Meat!

I've always said I could be vegetarian if I wanted to. I normally don't cook with any meat (out of pure laziness and frugality), and I enjoy a lot of vegetarian food. While I wouldn't choose to be vegetarian forever, I thought I would try it out for a month.

January 2010 seemed like a good trial: no more holidays so I could control what I eat, the start of a new year always carries with it some increased motivation, and I just watched Food Inc a few weeks ago and have been slightly paranoid about meat. While the documentary didn't stop me from eating at ghetto Chinese restaurants during Christmas weekend, I did manage to resist ordering a burger at In n Out (only ate animal fries... a first!).

I think I'll be able to last, and my little sister even offered a big bag of lentils as my prize, since they will surely be a main source of protein now. Any other wagers?? Let's just hope I last more than a week =P I originally wanted steak or a burger as my last meal, but since San Tung is slated for NYE dinner, I will just have to see that nice juicy beef on Feb 1.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cynthia + Elvin

Photo courtesy of Kevin Wang

Cynthia is one of my best friends, so it was definitely a busy fall/winter organizing wedding events and putting together a candy table, let alone normal bridesmaid duties! It was a special day though, and it was a relief that everything came together so well in the end.

I made a few things - the usual truffles, fleur de sel caramels, truffle lollipops, marshmallow lollipops, custom pocky sticks, cookies... you would think a candy table wouldn't cost much compared to a dessert table, but if I had actually bought those things, especially when those caramels will go for $1/piece... man. I would be broke.

The sheet hanging in the back is covering a gigantic TV.

Photos below courtesy of Mike =)

After the jump are a few more photos... they're from Luna Photo, the official photogs for the day. Very bad quality because I don't have the actual files, but I just wanted to share because they captured some great shots that I wasn't able to get from anyone else's camera! They're a super friendly team, and they definitely captured some beautiful photos of Cyn (and Elvin I guess).


Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Real Real Korean Tacos and Some Snake


The last time I was in LA it was only for 24 hrs and Kogi was closed. The last time before that, I was in the OC for a wedding and couldn't leave. The last time before that, Kogi did not exist. Well, it's about bloody time! With my luck, the truck wasn't even operating because of Thanksgiving, but at least the douchey Alibi Room was open.

Tacos and quesadillas: the only pictures I took because Curtis started pretending he didn't know me

And yes, it does live up to the hype. The tacos were really good and nicely topped with some kind of sesame slaw. The quesadillas also won me over - the black jack quesadilla wasn't much of a stretch, but the kimchi one definitely proved that cheese and kimchi can, in fact, go together well. I would've tried more (sliders, burrito), but I was trying to save my stomach for...

Wurstkuche, downtown LA's answer to the sausage beer garden. With "exotic" options like rattlesnake/rabbit (really tough) and alligator/pork, the real draw is the warehouse-like atmosphere with rows and rows of communal tables lined with brown paper. Fun place despite the Lykke Li remixes and drunken 21-yr-olds.

I've never been a lover of LA, but there's plenty more to come after Christmas...!



My mom's birthday is only a week before mine, so our family always celebrates them together at a nice restaurant the weekend after Thanksgiving. Being in LA, Providence was the logical choice: aside from the chef's recent appearance on Top Chef Masters, this new American seafood restaurant was just awarded 2 well-deserved Michelin stars. Plus, my sister had been twice and saw Hiro once... who doesn't love celebrity sightings??

We were lucky enough to snag the chef's table - a private booth looking into the kitchen. It was really great being able to peek in, even if it was just the plating side... and the lighting from the kitchen was great for photos =) It reminded me of Le Bernardin - very clean and focused, which definitely showed in their food. We got the full tasting menu of 9 courses, and I must say that it was definitely one of the best meals I've had in a long time! I was really impressed from the start - knowledgeable and warm service, and delicious bacon brioche and nori focaccia. Mmm even the bread was memorable!

Amuse: "gin+tonic" -- frozen gin gelee with the squeeze of a lime, "mojito" spherification, carrot soup in a mini stein (random)
First course: kampachi, rice crackers, creme fraiche, coriander flowers (delicious)

Sea urchin with egg yolk, brioche croutons ("deliciousness in an egg shell"); hokkaido scallop w/ chanterelles and bacon in a butter sauce

Striped bass w/ burdock and wine butter sauce; salmon w/ shaved truffles, wilted spinach, buckwheat (every component was delicious, and my mom and I agreed that this was the best cooked salmon we've ever had!)

Veal (I believe it was cooked sous vide at 140 for 2 hrs) w/ sweet onion puree, hazelnuts, other stuff (delicious); palate cleanser - cucumber sorbet w/ juniper berry yogurt (the yogurt had a really surprising tart pop, a perfect pairing to the cool sorbet)

Of all things, I forgot to photograph the dessert, a mexican chocolate "bread pudding," with an avocado banana puree, corn tortilla ice cream, and tortilla streusel. While the bread pudding didn't actually use bread (devil's sweet cake, according to our waiter), it was definitely a concept I've been meaning to try -- custardy cake, who wouldn't? The puree had a bit too much banana, but the ice cream and streusel were really impressive and added so much cohesion... delicious cohesion!

I obviously really enjoyed my meal here, as evident by the number of times I used the word "delicious." My only real complaint is that almost all the sauces were butter-based, and it would've been nice to see a bit more variety. However, that is the most nitpicky of complaints I can think of which just goes to show how great everything was. =)



November is always insanely busy, even before Thanksgiving. This year... bachelorette in Napa, 24 hrs in LA, Mike's birthday + his family visit, lots of potlucks, Mom's birthday, my birthday!

Dinner at Redd: not as amazing as I thought it would be, but it was a solid meal

San Tung and Zuni - SF classics

Dishdash lamb marinated in yogurt... amazing and much tastier than 53rd+6th halal cart; Citizen Cake pudding pop... chocolate overpowers all other flavors
Other things...
Savory bread pudding
Zankou chicken
Soup galore: butternut, split pea w/ ham, lentils + chard