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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

It's Been A While! & Blogger Mixer At Eclipse Chocolat: San Diego, CA

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It's been a while since I last updated. Sorry! I just started my new job up in Carlsbad last Monday and though I'm still in "training" mode... I've been putting in on average 10+ hours each day. I've been drained each day when I get home at night but its so invigorating and exciting to be working at a company currently in sort of a hiring craze despite the current state of the economy and with coworkers that constantly strive to better themselves intellectually. YAY!


It was quite a treat to meet up at Eclipse Chocolat with fellow bloggers...an event that Will, the proprietor organized for us. Thanks Will! Hopefully this gets the ball rolling as I do admire and follow the blogs of these fellow foodies and have been looking for an opportunity to meet them. We got to sample desserts on Will and discuss matters ranging how to to better your blog down to what's on your ultimate black list of restaurants. It was a tad early in the day for dessert so I wasn't able to finish my tasting. I did really like the Carrot Gâteau though. It was slightly buttery, with little specks of carrots and there was a nice crispiness from being toasted. Roger already beat me to the review of the event so you can read the lovely review on his site and live vicariously through the pictures.


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Eclipse Chocolat
2121 El Cajon Boulevard
San Diego, California 92104
(619)578-2984
M-Th: 9am-10pm
F: 9am-11pm
Sa: 10am-11pm
Su: 10am-6pm

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Recipe: Roasted Bone Marrow w/ Parsley Salad

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Ever watch Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations- New York episode? There's a segment where Bourdain, Eric Ripert and Scott Bryan head over to Prune to chill out and indulge in some of their favorite comfort foods. A plate of roasted veal marrow bones arrive and immediately the boys descend upon it. Bourdain proclaims this as his death row meal. The scene looks rather gross and enticing at the same time. Gross in that here were these men going to work sucking and making slurping noises to get the last bits of marrow out. Enticing because I could picture the delight of gobbling up the rich morsels. I've had bone marrow before since my mom used to make a soup for wonton noodles out of beef bones by stewing it with peeled onions and various spices then let us gleefully suck out the marrow when she was done with them. So I could picture the texture in my mind but not the flavor as I've not had bone marrow this way before. I had to try it!

First a stop at Siesel's Old Fashioned Meat & Deli to pick up some marrow bones. Now they unfortunately don't carry veal bones w/o the meat which was what I was looking for. They'd be willing to order some but there's a minimum order of 75 lbs of bones if you really want it. I'd love to try the veal bones one day so if you and some of your friends want to go in on an order let me know. So I picked up some beef bones and asked them to cut it to size for me(3''-4'').

Check out part of the meat selection. LH picked out some Berkshire (Kurobuta) pork chops to grill for us one time. DE-LISH! Perfectly moist and tender... didn't even need a knife to cut it.
Getting back, I found the recipe Fergus Henderson uses at St. John's on this site.

Roasted Bone Marrow w/ Parsley Salad Recipe
from UKTV Food

Ingredients


  • 12 x 7-8cm pieces of middle veal marrowbone
  • 1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, picked from the stems and chopped
  • 2 shallots, very thinly sliced
  • 1 modest handful of capers, (extra-fine if possible)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • freshly ground salt and black pepper
  • toast, to serve
  • coarse sea salt


Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC/Gas 5. Place the bone marrow in an oven-proof frying pan. Roast the marrow for 20 minutes until the marrow is loose and giving, but not melting away.
  2. Mix together the parsley, shallots and capers. Make the dressing by mixing together the lemon juice and olive oil.
  3. Just before serving toss the parsley mixture with the dressing and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  4. Scrape the marrow from the bone onto the toast and season with coarse sea salt. Serve with a pinch of parsley salad on top.

note: I found the marrow too oily for my taste the first time I attempted the recipe so the second time I raised the temperature 25 degrees F and roasted the bones for 30-40 minutes instead of 20 minutes. I'd recommend eye-balling and jiggling it till you get the consistency you want. I also didn't cook 12 pieces so I adjusted the salad portion to the amount of bones I was roasting.

The parsley salad did a nice job of cutting the richness of the marrow. EK enjoyed it so much that he ate the leftover salad.
Look at the masterpiece! I really liked the combination of the toast, marrow and salad. I don't think I could eat the marrow by itself as it was incredibly rich so the toast and salad did a nice job of not making the marrow too overwhelming. I much rather prefer eating marrow this way over the stewed method now!!!

Siesel's Old Fashioned Meat & Deli

4131 Ashton St.
San Diego, CA 92109
619- 275-1234
M- Sa: 9am-7p
Su: 10am-6pm

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Cupcake Challenge in Los Angeles, CA

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NCT just forwarded me an email about an event happening in LA during the middle of May. Its the Cupcake Challenge!

Details:
what: sample cupcakes from various LA bakeries and keep the glass flowing with wine
when: Sunday, May 18th 1-4pm
where: Playa Vista Center Point Club, 6200 Playa Vista Dr., LA
why: crown the best cupcake in LA and a percentage of proceeds go to the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation
how: $60/ticket gets you in to sample all the cupcakes and wine

You can check out more info on details and tickets here.

I feel a little iffy about the price. Yes I've spent more on food but I wouldn't be drinking any wine and it is still just cupcakes... and they are mini! If anyone finds what percentage is going to the foundation please let me know. I'd feel more comfortable going if I knew a major portion were going to such a wonderful cause instead of getting pocketed.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

San Jose Japantown Paper for California Pioneer's Essay Contest

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So a few weeks ago I was tagged by Andrea from Stones and Starlings and completed the 6 little facts/trivial tidbits about myself which you can read here. Foodhoe from Foodhoe's Foraging asked to see the prize winning essay that I mentioned in one of my facts/tidbits which you can now download here. Sorry it took a while to get this up. I wrote this on the family computer way back when and lost the e-copy when something happened to that computer. EHK helped me convert the hard copy I had retrieved when I visited the family to PDF so I can share it with all of you. Many thanks to him!

A little background before reading this paper. I wrote it when I was 16... several years ago so please forgive the writing style of a young aspiring writer. Most of my sources are local so if you would like to check up on them please check out the California Room at San Jose's Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library(aka Main Library). I hope you enjoy reading the paper and that it sparks up an interest to visit the community or a small chat with me. :)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Ma's Restaurant: San Jose, CA

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My parents are so cute. They LOVE Chinese food and eat it for practically any occasion. Whether it be a casual day or celebration- it's never really a debate over which type of cuisine we will eat but rather what type of Chinese restaurant we will be hitting up.

In usual fashion, my parents chose to celebrate their wedding anniversary by have lunch at Chinese restaurant. The place they had intended on going to was closed that day so they looked around in the same shopping plaza and Ma's Restaurant caught their eye. This places serves up Islamic Mandarin style Chinese food which they had never tried before so they decided to give it a shot. Turns out they really liked it and the whole family went out to lunch there the next time we were all home.

I was actually surprised that my parents had chosen this place to celebrate their anniversary. I should have taken a picture but the decor doesn't exactly scream romantic as do most Chinese restaurants. It was clean but very plainly decorated and terribly loud with the lunch crowd pouring in. We were seated, glanced over the menu and agreed that getting a set family dinner/meal would work best for us. We ordered a family meal meant for 3-4 people($48.00) and it turned out to be more than enough food. The meal also comes with steamed white rice in case you're wondering.

1st course: lamb(or beef) with pickled cabbage warm pot
We chose lamb for this dish. The soup arrived promptly and the waiter portioned it out into soup bowls for us. He was a little sloppy- there was soup dripping down the side and noodles hanging over the sides of the bowls. Oh well, I won't be too picky... a multi course lunch for 6 people at $48.00 isn't bad at all. The lamb was very thinly sliced and tender. The cabbage didn't taste too pickled at all. It had been stewing in the broth which tasted lightly acidic probably from the pickled cabbage. I could have used a bit more tofu wrapper and a little less rice vermicelli.
2nd course: beans with salted vegetables and tofu wrappers
There's that tofu wrapper again. Despite the name this dish didn't taste very salty at all. It was a nice medley of flavors but didn't really stand out to me. Not a star but was a nice back up to the other dishes with some rice.
3rd course: lamb or green beans
The lamb in this dish was quite tender like in the first dish. I thought this dish could have used a little crushed black pepper and a little less green onions. Nice job on cooking the green onions though... I didn't find it slimy tasting like I usually find cooked green onions to be.
3rd course: fish with chili sauce
I didn't really taste any chili but I found this dish very enjoyable. The breading on the fish remained quite crispy despite the sauce. I found myself picking at the dish very often. Didn't care very much for the mushrooms but the zucchini and carrots went very well with the crispy, slightly sauced fish nuggets.
4th course: house special dough slice chow mein
Turns out they make their own noodles here. The noodles looked rustically cut and had a nice bite as well as flavor to it. I didn't find the dish too oily ... overall a very balanced dish not needing any additional seasoning.
5th course: scallion pancake
I had really high hopes for this dish. I saw several tables ordering this and I enjoy it very much myself. The 5th item in the meal was actually suppose to be scallion pie but I was very interested in seeing how this would pan out. I unfortunately found this too dense and lacking in the scallion flavor. What I was looking for was something less bread like... more crispy and a little more oilier. More oilier? Yes... I felt that the sesame seeds were robbed of their natural oiliness and thus the outside of the bread tasted terribly dry. My family agreed with my disappointment of the pancakes...we didn't even get through 1/4 of the serving.
dessert: soft serve ice cream
Ma's offers a complimentary soft serve for dessert. I thought it was a cute idea.
However, as you can see ... they weren't kidding about the "soft" serve. It was terribly drippy right after I took this photo and couldn't really enjoy the vanilla soft serve for fear most of it would end up on me instead of in me.

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Ma's Restaurant
1715 Lundy Ave. #168
San Jose, CA 95131
(408)437-2499 or (408)437-1683
M-Th, Su: 11am-2:45pm and 4:45pm-9:30pm
F-Sa: 11am-2:45pm and 4:45pm-10pm

Monday, April 7, 2008

9 Courses of Fish at Asian Garden: San Jose, CA

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Most people who frequently eat Vietnamese cuisine have had or are familiar with 7 Courses of Beef. Well have you heard of 9 Courses of Fish? My parents are fond of reading the Vietnamese and Chinese newspapers in San Jose to find new Asian food finds in the area. They read about this places that served up this unfamiliar set of dishes. Well we do eat a lot of Vietnamese food so the flavors aren't unfamiliar but having such a grouping was new. My parents tried out the place and immediately called me up to give their flattering review of their meal. The next time my siblings and I were able to make it home we visited this joint for lunch and have since made it a tradition to eat here at least once when we all gather together.

1st course: fish salad with sweet and sour fish sauce
This course was my favorite. It tasted light and fresh. I'm not familiar with how the fish is prepared but it tastes similar to being prepared ceviche style yet sweeter. It was tossed with a medley of fresh veggies, toasted peanuts and fried scallions... yum!



2nd course: fish salad rolls with peanut butter sauce
You can tell these were made to order or in small batches. The rice paper wrapping was incredibly soft and not too chewy. I really dislike mass-made spring rolls... the wrapper always gets too chewy. The fish was quite tender and there wasn't too much noodles or veggies so the fish could shine.

 

The slightly spicy peanut sauce that accompanied the fish spring rolls was a nice sauce. Good flavor and just the right consistency to get some good coverage on the rolls.

 

3rd- 6th courses: fried fish rolls, crispy fried fish, grilled fish sausage, grilled fish with Hawaiian tea leaves
Ok... I liked some of the items on this plate but in general I don't like the idea of this compilation like that of its beef counterpart. I really think its unfair to dump some fried/grilled/sausage-d pieces of meats and make them all different courses. After all, you're doing the same thing with all these courses: wrap with veggies, noodles and rice wrapper then dip in fish sauce and consume. My most favorite of this grouping was probably the crispy fried fish and least favorite was grilled fish sausage.




The fish sauce here is pretty good- a nice balance of sweet, sour, savory and spicy all in one sauce. My father being born and raised in Vietnam sure knows his fish sauce and seemed to not be able to get enough of it. He was using it constantly... even pouring it on the noodles straight up and just eating it like that.



7th course: grilled sizzling fish
This was perhaps my 2nd favorite course. It tasted like it was glazed with a light coat of sweet chili sauce and then grilled. I'm not too certain but it was still quite tasty. I liked to nab a piece with a small serving of noodles and a spoonful of the fish sauce from above.





8th course: fish with vinegar fondue
I didn't think this was the star of the dishes like in 7 courses of beef. It was ok but forgetful... I was still thinking about the grilled sizzling fish at this point. Cooking up some fish with ginger and pairing it with some noodles and fish sauce wasn't bad.




9th course: fish porridge
7 courses of beef
also ends this way and just like the numerous porridges I've tasted for that medley of dishes, I find this to be a little on the oily side. It tasted good and the rice wasn't clumpy at all... just too oily.


I haven't seen any other places that serve up something similar. If you've spotted another place please let me know.

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Asian Garden
905 S. Bascom Ave.
San Jose, CA 95128
(408)279-8764
Su- Th: 10am-10pm
F-Sa: 10am-11pm

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

San Francisco Chinatown: Golden Gate Bakery, Yong Kee Bakery, Hing Lung Restaurant

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When I was at home my parents had to make a trip up to the PWS warehouse to change out some machine parts for the laundromat. PWS is in South San Francisco so Chinatown is just a hop, skip and a jump away. Naturally, my mom insisted that we make the visit to pick up some goodies to accompany the pricey array of teas they purchased at what I believe to be the Ten Ren distribution center.

When I was still living in San Jose, we would often make the hour drive up to SF Chinatown to hang out for the day and buy foodstuff that was much more superiorly made than at any shop you could find in the South Bay(San Jose, Milpitas, any city at the southern tip of the bay). At one point we were going up every weekend and it sorta bugged me. After all, there is so much more to SF than Chinatown but to my parents this was what SF was so we did visit other parts but rarely.

On this particular trip we first stopped at Golden Gate Bakery. What trip to SF Chinatown is complete without a stop at this legendary bakery? My first memory of this shop was waiting in a line that stretched out the door and seeing an elderly lady rush home with 5 dozen dan tats (egg tarts).


These dan tats aren't exactly Chinatown priced either. At $1.10/a piece, I believe its on the pricier side. However, once you bite into one of these bad boys you'll see that it's totally worth the wait and the price. Flaky goodness combined with eggy, fluffy, silky custard. Allegedly there's an egg in each tart. My one beef with this place is that they've gotten a little cocky with their operation. Just randomly a sign will be placed on the door that says they're on vacation for x weeks. There's gotta be more than a dozen other bakeries within walking distance and they can still take off on a moment's notice with the customer base unwaivering- that's staying power.



I spotted a new item at GG Bakery , loh mai chi aka snowballs. One was filled with peanuts and shaved coconut, the next red bean and lastly lotus seed. I rarely get these sweets because I tend to find it too sweet for my taste however since I had never seen it at this bakery before I decided to give it a run. The gluttonous rice wrapper reminds me of fresh Japanese style mochi - so soft, melts in your mouth and the the fillings weren't overly sweet. I found the lightly sweet sticky treats to be quite satisfying paired with the slightly bitter and nutty wild ginseng tea my parents had purchased at Ten Ren.
 
Down the street I spotted that Ming Kee Game Birds store aka stinky bird store was closed. I took a picture of the sign since even if it was open, no picture taking is allowed inside the store. My parents raise chickens and pigeons and when we used to have a lot they would stop by this store and exchange some of our birds for silky hens(white fluffy feathered birds with black skin/flesh) to cook up in Chinese herbs.



My parents stopped by Yong Kee bakery (there's my dad) to purchase some steamed buns and savory rice cakes. There are some barely visible letters on the window so look for the address instead. Yong Kee is a much more unassuming bakery than GG bakery with no lines out the door not that GG is fancy.


It's just that you don't find the boastful air here. My parents are very fond of their steamed buns so they bought a box of plain, red bean and lotus seed buns. I sampled the plain bun that night and I found it to be quite tasty- light, fluffy with a hint of sweetness.



I didn't get a chance to taste the rice cakes but I trust that my parents believe it to be quite tasty.

 

It was nearing dinner time so we stopped by Hing Lung for dinner. I love the congee, rice noodles and you tiao (Chinese doughnuts) at this place. They make everything in house so its cool to watch the thin rice noodles and light hot crispy Chinese doughnuts being made at the front of the house.



We came too late on this particular day as they stop making rice noodles at 3pm. So I ordered my usual hot steaming bowl of chicken congee with creamed corn and sliced Chinese doughnut on the side. It was a particularly windy, cold day so this comforting bowl was perfect before braving the journey back to the car.


They make both savory and sweet versions of the doughnut which you can purchase at I believe $1.30/1 savory or 3 sweet doughnut(s) at a small window in the front to snack on while wandering around Chinatown.


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Ming Kee Game Birds
1136 Grant Ave.

San Francisco, CA 94133
(415)391-8287

Yong Kee Bakery
732 Jackson St.
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415)986-3759 
Tu-Su 7am-6pm

Hing Lung Restaurant
674 Broadway
San Francisco, CA 94133
 (415)398-8838



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