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Archive for the ‘food’ Category

I adore Las Vegas. From the crazy desert heat, the annoying street peddlers (seriously, do I look like I want a flyer about naked ladies?) and the aggressive air-conditioning; to the amazing food, the unique people-watching, and the amazing food (again), I am 100% on-board with driving to Vegas for a random weekend!

We arrived Friday afternoon, checked into our room at the Flamingo, and headed off to a happy hour crawl!

[t-shirt, coated denim shorts: Forever 21; wedges: TOMS; jewelery: BaubleBar, Nixon, Gorjana, Stella & Dot, T+J Designs]

I spotted this tiger shirt at the mall, and immediately cracked up. It got me a lot of attention, but my favorite comment was from a little kid who grabbed his mom’s hand, and said “Look, a tiger!” I enjoy observant children, apparently. FYI these wedges are incredibly comfortable. We walked and walked and walked and WALKED, and not once did my feet hurt. I may buy them in every color.

We had drinks/appetizers at Michael Mina’s American Fish, where we split small plates of tuna tartare on crispy sushi rice cakes, the lobster roll, the crab cake, and the mac and cheese; and then at Nob Hill Tavern, where I discovered gin is not my friend. See my Yelp review for the saga, as well as a heartwarming tale of what good can come when you hire nice bartenders.

Here’s a montage, because I like those, too!

[purse: H&M]

The top photo on the right hand side is from our late-night happy hour/dessert-fest at Max Brenner. We had the corn croquettes, the tempura bananas with toffee and chocolate fondue, and I had an Americano with a peanut butter liqueur. My friend had some sort of cake-flavored martini, which was also crazy good.

Saturday was pool time, and then a spin through the Cosmopolitan hotel (which is also where we had our last meal before leaving. We also had a fancy dinner at Sage at the Aria on Saturday night. If you can get there before they realize that their tasting menu portions are far too generous, GO! I also befriended a man who ordered a $100 pour of whiskey. I semi-recall telling him to “ball so hard” I believe. Guess their cocktails are stronger than I thought!

[gelato x 9]

Sunday’s brunch was at the Wicked Spoon. The brunch buffet is only $29, and for an extra $8, it comes with all the champagne, bloody marys, or mimosas you can drink! As we were on our way out of town, I didn’t partake, but that’s a pretty sweet deal! Pro tip: get there before 11:00 if you want quick seating (and if you also want to taunt the 500 people standing in line to get in at that time), and make sure you try the gelato bar! My favorites were the salted peanut (top middle), the mango (bottom right) and I will say the Thai tea (bottom left) tasted exactly like a frozen Thai iced tea.

[fatman from above]

In a stroke of genius, I took today off from work. I spent the morning resting, re-earning the trust of the cats who thought I’d abandoned them, and trying to get the last remnants of smoke out of my hair. I also took advantage of having a Monday off by hitting up the mall for some fall fashion! I’ll show you my purchases in my next post.

Viva Las Vegas! And Viva Sleeping In,

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I love chocolate and caramel, but chocolate and salted caramel? I DIE. My church choir had a potluck after one of our recent concerts, and I decided that instead of bringing my usual napkins, I would attempt to bake! Those of you who know me in real life probably know how much of a disaster this could potentially be, but I found a pretty foolproof recipe at Sweetapolita and got really brave. The recipe was originally published by Saveur and all of the measurements were metric, so that’s why some of these amounts might seem a little bizarre, but trust the recipe!

It’s kind of a three-phase process, so I’ll break it down phase-by-phase.

Phase 1: Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon dutch-process cocoa powder (as you can tell, I used something generic)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and softened (I zapped it for 30 seconds in the microwave and let it sit while I got my act together)
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

[crust ingredients, with an unnecessary cameo by granulated sugar]

1) Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

2) Using a handheld mixer, cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until mixture is pale and fluffy. WARNING: lower the beaters in *prior to* turning them on. Otherwise, you’ll have to add an additional step to clean the powdered sugar off of the counters, floor, and your hair :). Mix in egg yolks and vanilla.

[sugar + butter + eggs + vanilla = cats meowing incessantly]

3) Mix in dry ingredients.

[dough]

4) Transfer dough to a 9″ fluted tart pan with a removable bottom (like this one from Crate & Barrel). Press dough evenly into bottom and sides of pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. During the last 10 minutes, I preheated the oven to 350 degrees. Prick the tart shell all over with a fork and bake until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a track and let cool.

[dough, holes]

Phase 2: Caramel

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 7 tablespoons heavy cream

[measuring cups – Anthropologie]

1) In a small heavy saucepan, whisk together sugar, corn syrup, salt, and water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook undisrupted until a candy thermometer inserted into the syrup reads 340 degrees F. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, the mixture should be a rich amber color. If you’re like me, you’ll want to buy a candy thermometer.

[candy/oil thermometer – Williams-Sonoma]

2) Remove pan from heat and whisk in butter + cream (mixture will bubble, so cuidado and don’t stick your face in it!) If your caramel is too dark/burnt, throw it out and start again. You’ll thank me later.

[caramel]

3) Pour the caramel into the cooled tart shell and let cool slightly. Refrigerate until firm (4-5 hours). FYI this makes a CRAPLOAD of caramel, so do not fret if it looks like it’s going to pull a Mount Vesuvius (in its active days) over the edge of the tart pan. It’ll settle in.

Phase 3: Ganache

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (to expedite the melting process)
  • Fleur de Sel for garnish – I used Balinese Sea Salt, but I’d recommend any giant grain sea salt to make it pretty!

[ingredients; laptop+rockin’ tunes optional]

1) Bring heavy cream to almost boil (translation: get it really hot) in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Put chocolate into medium bowl and pour in hot cream. Stir with a rubber spatula until smooth.

[ganache]

2) Pour ganache evenly over tart. I had to spread it out with a spatula. Refrigerate 4-5 hours (I did it overnight). Sprinkle tart with sea salt. Slice. Eat. Get diabetes.

[tart, partially camouflaged by my counters]

Enjoy! This tart is amazing with coffee, and best when it’s chilled.

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It’s been a busy weekend so far, and I’m thankful to have an extra day to get things done. I started yesterday with a haircut at Hairdrezzers on Fire from my stylist of almost 5 years, Quinn.Β  If you live in San Diego and need a good stylist, I totally recommend her! I snapped this pic pre-appointment, so this is not reflective of her work…

Denim Jacket – J.Crew

Plaid Button-Down/Really Skinny Pants – Gap

Heels – BCBG

Jewelry- Ann Taylor and T+J Designs

I didn’t manage to take a picture of my perfect hair after my cut, and then I ruined it at the gym, but trust me that it’s totally cute (and sadly will never look as good as it did yesterday at 10:00 am)!

I also managed to do my nails! As you can see, I’m still obsessed with the glitter accent nail trend. I’ll let it go….eventually :).

Nails – Essie Pop Art Pink and Carnival (accent nail)

We had a special visitor at our office yesterday.

[Pezzie, chicken]

He also came to our kickball game that night, but with an important accessory.

[sherpa]

I met up with one of my good friends from law school for lunch today at a Korean restaurant called Jiggle Jiggle. My friend’s sister is teaching in Korea right now, and they just took an amazing vacation to Thailand for Christmas and New Year’s – I’m so jealous! I definitely have a liddlebit of cabin fever right now. We thought the restaurant name was hilarious and thought it would be a good place to catch up. According to the owner (who was super nice), “jiggle jiggle” is the sound the meat makes when it hits the grill (as opposed to the sound one’s thighs might make after eating everything on their menu…) It’s a combination of traditional Korean restaurant fare as well as Korean tacos and burritos (and something called Korean fries, which were intriguing, but we didn’t try them.)

[kimchi fried rice; soup; sides]

Happy three-day weekend to those of you who get one!

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We had a girls’ night to start out 2012 at Old Venice. We had the Magic Mushrooms (the kind stuffed with crab, shrimp, and cheese – NOT the kind that people hallucinate on), a garlicky Cesar Salad (because we felt like we should have *some* vegetables), the Green Goddess Pizza (topped with feta, fresh tomatoes, olives, and pepperoncinis), Spicy Roma Shrimp (shrimp, sun dried tomatoes, garlic and onions, sauteed with pasta), and La Crema Pinot Noir. Delicious! Good food, good wine, good company, AND I got chauffeured home by my friend K. Pretty successful start to the new year!

Skull Blouse – Mimi&Red

Pants – Gap Really Skinny Pants in True Black

Glittery Purse – Old Navy (got it on clearance – check your stores!)

Heels – BCBG

Bangles – T+J Designs

I am so in love with this blouse! I have been dying for something skull printed ever since I started seeing the Alexander McQueen scarf everywhere a year or so ago, so when I saw this blouse on Mimi & Red’s Facebook page, and ran out and got it immediately. It fits perfectly, although (as you can see in the photos) it’s totally sheer, so I put a camisole underneath it, since I don’t subscribe to the “visible bra” trend. Here’s how I styled it for dinner.

Jacket – Ann Taylor (last season)

Lipstick – MAC Lipstick in Ruby Woo

I have no idea what I was trying to accomplish with this facial expression, but you’re stuck with it πŸ™‚

Happy New Year!

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I spent a relaxing, low-key Christmas in LA with some good friends. Here are some photos!

[mexican wedding cookies]

I made these before I left from this recipe of Martha Stewart’s. I love sweet things, crunchy things, things that go well with coffee, and most of all, almonds with cinnamon. These cookies are virtually foolproof, and that’s coming from a self-professed disaster in the kitchen. I made a double batch, omitting the decorative almonds on top, and made smaller, more bite-sized cookies out of the second batch, seen in the background. They were a huge hit!

[baxter!]

I also got to meet my adorably furry nephew, Baxter. He’s a terrier mix, approximately 1.5 years old, and a total love bug. My friends A + M adopted him from an animal rescue in LA, and he, like his namesake from “Anchorman,” loves cheese and only speaks Spanish πŸ™‚ He’s still working on learning some doggie things, like playing fetch and going in and out his dog door, but I’m already a proud auntie!

[bloody mary]

We celebrated Christmas Day with a spread of heavy appetizers and wine, where I discovered my love for Trader Joe’s Sweet & Spicy Pepper Jelly. I think it’s a seasonal item, but if you get a chance, go out and get some, and you can thank me later.

We went to an early happy hour the day after at Fishbar in Redondo Beach, whose claim to fame is a bloody Mary garnished with a pickled spear of asparagus, a slice of smoked bacon, and a prawn. Yes, you read that correctly. Our server informed us that their bartender had just won “Best Bloody Mary” at some competition, but I’ll tell you that A and I weren’t blown away by the actual drink. It was peppery, but not really spicy, and would have been helped immensely by some citrus. Also, who doesn’t salt the rim of a Bloody Mary? These people, apparently. All that aside, the garnishes were fantastic, and their actual happy hour menu was delicious, so give it a shot!

[classiest gifts under the tree]

So I don’t love wrapping gifts. My friends also really like their booze, so here are some of our contributions under the tree. Perfect Christmas!

I’ll leave you with this hilarious sign. As the daughter of parents who own a Chinese restaurant, I found it perfect (even though my parents’ place is closed on Christmas).

Feliz Navidad!

 

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white

One of the concerts I’m singing in this holiday season imposed an all-white dress code. (Cue freakout.)

Dress/iPhone Cover – J.Crew

Shoes – Michael Antonio (via Endless; on sale for $26.99!)

It turned out that I owned zero pairs of white shoes, and all of my shopping trips were unsuccessful, until I found this pair online! They’re a bit too big, but they were cheap, the shipping was free/fast, and they are sparkly! Perfection.

I had to crouch down to photograph the shoes – my feet aren’t normally exploding out of these πŸ™‚

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It’s been a crazy last few days! I managed to squeeze in a quick trip to Minnesota to see my family, a concert, and (obviously) some shopping. The flight from San Diego to MSP was uneventful, other than an unexpected seatmate at the airport while I waited for my flight:

[hello birdie!]

My flight even landed 20 minutes early, and for the first time in as long as I can remember, there was traffic on I-35, so I enjoyed another one of my holiday traditions while I waited for my dad and brother to pick me up:

[dark chocolate peppermint mocha]

Although I am a regular patron at Starbucks, my heart belongs to Caribou Coffee. I love that they have a daily trivia question that gets you 10 cents off of your drink if you get it right! Sadly the closest location is *not* in my hometown and nowhere near San Diego, but I guess it just makes it even more special, right? Speaking of special…

[the view from our deck]

The weather was incredibly warm over the holiday – it was mid-upper 50s both days I was there, which was a huge change from last year, when I flew in over a blanket of snow. I used to try to sneak out onto our deck in high school and surreptitiously tan myself before my grandma would catch me and yell at me about the importance of maintaining light skin so that no one would mistake me for a peasant. Gotta love my old-school grandma. Another piece of wisdom from gran: Two lions cannot rule one mountain. I’ll just let you think about that for a while :)As for the actual food holiday itself, it was full of family, and, in true Asian tradition, electronics.

[cousins e, baby w]

[fusion?]

[everyone likes angry birds]

[taro chips]

And no visit home is complete without an obligatory photo of our beloved house cat, Frisky:

[frisky ponders his kingdom]

The flight home was much less awesome than the flight to Minneapolis. Not only did they oversell the flight, but when I went to check in the night before and was instructed to “select my seat,” ALL of the options were marked “unavailable” unless I wanted to pay $25 for the privilege of having a place to sit (spoiler alert: I didn’t) so I showed up to the airport with no assigned seat. When I got to the gate, there was a high school dance team running around and being teenage girls.* To make things even worse, when I went to go ask about a seat, theΒ  gate agent said “we’re still trying to figure that out.” Just as I felt my inner Grinch rearing its ugly head, I heard those magic words: “Passenger Woo please report to the counter.” 35 minutes later, I was Team Exit Row and seated in front of a super-cute and shockingly well-behaved toddler who slept for most of the flight and was happy to look at pictures of my cats when we got to the gate. Yessssss.

[juice box wine!]

Even when I don’t have food in my refrigerator, I have wine πŸ™‚

Hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving! Back to work tomorrow.

*Please note I have nothing against high school dance teams; in fact, I was on mine until I got sidelined by a knee injury (whoo Faribault Emeralds!) but I was in a horrible mood by the time I got to the airport that day.

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