food & drink

im-perfect macarons

Wherin we try, fail, and try again.


Left with all but a couple that rose diagonally, Nathalie and I had to try perfecting the macarons yet another day.

food & drink, musings

korean shaved ice


A hot day, a Korean mama, some ice and red beans is a perfect recipe for …

shaved ice!

I always forget that February is still winter and go out wearing sandals because the sun is outside. Years of living in Southern California does that to people…

food & drink

tamale making party

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The best use of leftover turkey after Thanksgiv- I mean Gluttony Fest? 1,000 Tamales. My mom makes turkey soup, turkey salad, turkey sand-whiches, and turkey fried rice until we are all sick of turkey. But who would have thought?! Turkey tamales is such a wonderful idea — especially if you are either a family of five or a single working girl too tired to cook every single night.

Lastly, I just wanted to note that there’s a McDonalds on a street called McDonalds somewhere in Richmond, CA.

food & drink, musings

valentines day, this time last year


So what do single people do on Valentines Day? This time last year, my single ladies and I threw an invite-only moustache party, BOYM. Unsurprisingly, this acronym stood for “Bring Your Own Moustache”, not “Bring Your Own Man.”

Some days I feel as I used my time in England unwisely. Perhaps if I spent less time and effort of being the not-so-secret founder and president of the Single Ladies Club, which at the moment has quite the international reach despite its >10 members, and spent more time in other extracurricular activities, I wouldn’t be either attending an annual JiajangMyun Singles Awareness Day Party or spending a quiet night in studying. (Yes, studying.)

Just kidding about regretting my active involvement in the Single Ladies Club. The relationships fostered there will be with me forever and I can’t wait for our reunions.

Anyone else have good party ideas for Singles Awareness Day?

food & drink

backyard chickens

I’ve recently acquired an important Life Skill.

I now know how to kill, de-feather, clean and gut a chicken. I’m sure this is a transferable skill which can be used the next time I get lost in the woods without any supplies.

Plucking the feathers..

It’s more weird that you can see its head…

Organic free-range backyard chickens

Hide yo kids, Hide yo wife…

food & drink

bay area (food) trip

So I recently visited the Bay Area to help my youngest sister move into her dorm and to eat food err… meet with friends I haven’t seen in over 1 year! So all my friends, by virtue of  either having studied in the Bay Area for the past four years and thus converted into foody-ism or have been born and raised in the Bay Area and thus automatically born a foody, love LOVE food. So, “meeting up with friends” became the same thing as “trying different foods.” Two birds with one stone? Yup, and a nice bird-soup to go with that afterwards. To share, of course.

Oh, Berkeley. I’ve been reminiscing so much on the good things about Berkeley that I completely forgot about the smell. I know, I seem slightly obsessed with the olfactory (Cf. post on trip to Paris, “Eau de Paris”) but Berkeley has its very own distinctly liberal, humanitarian and 60’s scent. It’s a powerful mix of not yet collected compost, garbage, and recycled items, of the ever-present homeless people, and, as with all cities, stale urine.

It’s not all bad, though, I promise! I love Berkeley and wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else for my four years of university. Where else could I have encountered such a diverse and eclectic mix of people or have garnered an appreciation for great, fresh food? (Well, I could name a few actually…)

And now for the foodstuffs (which is what everyone cares about, really): 

A close friend insisted that we needed to try these awesome scones before we left to take the Bart to S.F. for lunch. I think I ate at least five times that day, hobbit-style. I forget the name of the place (typical) but these raspberry scones were quite nice despite the fact it made me miss proper English Cream Tea. with clotted cream. and jam. and a plain sultana scone. I found a recipe for making one’s own clotted cream (a.k.a. Devonshire Cream) online and hope to share my success with photos, if not the actual clotted cream, sometime soon.

raspberry scones at a café in alameda

For lunch, we went to Il Cane Rosso (The Red Dog) at the Embarcadero. We got their Warm Egg Salad Sandwich, and this photo does not do it much justice but believe me, it was good. Light and warm without any gross egginess to it. Nomnomnom. Since we found out that there was a Happy Hour at the Hog Island Co. on that day, we waited about three hours and came back to the Embarcadero to partake of half-priced oysters. I’ve been having a strange oyster-craving for the past three to four years, so I was really excited at the prospect of finally eating raw oysters. I had no idea that this excitement would turn to a complete meltdown!

looks strangely yellow and gooey here, but don’t let my detrimental photography-skills fool you! these were very yummy~

So, a bit of the backstory. One very important thing about me is that I need to feed myself regularly or I turn into an angry tired imp with an attitude. The hobbit-style eating habit that I mentioned a bit earlier? Well, it’s not just hobbits who eat so frequently; so do I. Breakfast at 8am, Lunch at 12pm, a snack at 3-4pm, and dinner by 6pm sharp or I will fantasize about resorting to cannibalism. My fascination with this oft frowned-upon social practice does not reassure my fellow diners. Or shall I say dinners? (Cf. a previous post on cannibalism).

That day, after lunch at Il Cane Rosso, we walked all around the main shopping area in SF waiting for Happy Hour to start at 5pm. By the time we got back to the Ferry Building, my stomach was in the process of eating itself, after it had devoured my other internal organs of course. When we arrived at the Hog Island Oyster Co., there was a line that was as long as the one at Ici’s! For non-Berkeley/Bay Area residents, this is an amazing Ice-Cream shop in Berkeley where the lines are as long as the ones for roller-coaster rides at Universal Studios.

I tried. I really did. I tried to keep my inner five-year old inside and silently wait until all the other diners finished their delicious-looking oysters ’til it was our turn. But I couldn’t help it. My complaints, “There are no more freaking oysters left in the ocean!” and “Oysters are extinct now! Extinct! ” punctuated by moans, “I’m so hungry that I can resort to cannibalism”, “completely understand what happened with the Donner Party,” until my friend couldn’t take longer and left me. It wasn’t as heartless as it actually sounds because she went to grab some demi-baguettes at Acme Bread (can I live there?) to shut me up. I apologize to my food-buddy and to the other people within shouting-distance from us. I’m sorry.

But you know what? It was worth the wait. Those little slimy mouthfuls of ocean: amazing. Why are they appetizers? I want them to be the Main Course. Of my life.

i could have had an ocean-fill of these.

mussels were good, but the sauce was a bit salty. next time, get 3 times more oysters!

The week was long and the eating continued despite my nervousness about regaining the near-twenty lbs. from my grad-student diet at Oxford. I had a short but imperative list of restaurants that I needed to stuff my face at *ahem* grace my presence with at Berkeley.

My most memorable Paris-moment, which of course involves food, was when we tip-toed over to a charcuterie near our hotel. There were so many choices and unfamiliar names that we had no idea what to choose, but followed the advice of the lady behind the counter and got some Parma Ham and different types of salami. That parma ham was so good it was almost enough for me to grab a random Parisian and propose marriage (to acquire a visa to live in France, as one does). But I remembered P.i.Q., a small Italian café in downtown Berkeley, so I refrained in hopes that I’ll be able experience another meat-induced ecstasy à la Teresa of Avilà but without the floating in air part.

fake prociutto 😦

Pictured above? The Caprese at P.i.Q. I was so hungry at the time (again, N.B. set meal times, please!) that I barely tasted it but I could tell that this piece of prociutto was nothing like the one I had in Paris. Well, I wasn’t going to cry but I was a bit disappointed.

The next day, I went to the fail-safe and always delightful Cheeseboard, where I have fantasized about working for the past three years. I love Cheeseboard not only for their always-delicious vegetarian pizzas, but also for their philosophy of giving the customer no choice. Not only does it decrease costs on their end, it saves me so much time and worry because I don’t have to decide what to order! Whenever I’m faced with a long and complicated menu, I feel like I need to read and study every single possible option before making a choice! I mean, I came to a restaurant so that I didn’t have to choose the ingredients, menu, or presentation. I came to just. relax. and. pay. you. to. feed. me. NOW.

No such issues at Cheeseboard, where there’s only one type of pizza offered per day. And today’s pizza? Mushrooms topped with some arugula with their signature sourdough crust.  

nom nom nom cheeseboard!!! i need to move back to the bay area…

Last but not least, my favorite hole-in-the-wall French sandwich shop, Grégoires. I brought my sister here for a late lunch during one of my last days at Berkeley. My baby sister is pictured below— so cute, so sick, and so tired after all the excitement and dampness of Bay Area weather. She was surprised that I ordered the crispy potato puffs because it was deep fried and obviously not “healthy”, but really— who cares when each bite of the crispy-on-the-outside and fluffy-on-the-inside spheres of goodness make your eyeballs flip out?!

couldn’t resist getting lorina’s sparkling lemonade!

crispy potatoes puffs.. they look so cute and innocent lying in the basket but they explode (with flavor) in your mouth!

Grilled chicken patty with Nueski’s bacon & roasted peach on pantofolina

food & drink

pink velvet roulade à la sprinkle bakes


The week that I made this cake was the hottest in San Diego. It reached 96F and it was AUGUST.

Isn’t summer supposed to be over by then?

Anyway, I knew that it was too hot to bake and that if I turned on the oven and moved around, I would likely faint from heat-exhaustian. But no, I had to bake this cake. Does anyone else get this strange obsession when they see or think of a certain type of food and you can’t think about or do anything else until you made it?

That’s what happened to me with this cake. To be honest, it happens every single time. A certain image of some delicious foodstuff comes up in my mind and all I can do is just follow the obsession through before I go insane.

It was so hot that the Swiss Meringue Buttercream filling melted… :/
Which reminds me of…

{Eddie Izzard}

“Cake or Death?”
“Oh, cake please!”
“Very Well!”

food & drink

mango mirror mousse cake

So, I have been in the Bay Area since last Saturday, helping my sister get settled into her new dorm. Before leaving for the Bay Area last week, I was busy— not packing, but making cakes. I really wanted to try making the molded mousse cakes, but didn’t have any cake molds or rings so I had not bothered before. But one blogger said that she used wax paper folded and taped into cylinders to make her triple chocolate mousse cake. I tried it as well, but have to say that next time I would definitely use a steel cake ring. The beauty of perfectly round and parallel layers is spoilt because of the flimsy wax paper cylinder.

Taste-wise, it was very nice. Mango Mirror had a bit more of a sour-y side of the fruit, while the mousse was more creamy, sweet and delicate. The sponge cake wasn’t too sweet and gave the entire cake substance and a foundation texture-wise. Yum 🙂

I didn’t get any other photos because when I woke up the next day, they. were. all. gone.


food & drink

easy breakfast muffins

For these mini whole-wheat muffins, I followed the whole-wheat blueberry muffins recipe found on King Arthur’s Blog. I made the blueberry version because we had a large carton of them from Costco, but made a chocolate-pumpkin and caraway seed version as well because I wondered what it would taste like.

For the Chocolate version, add 3 tablespoons of cacao powder and 1/3 cup of pumpkin seeds with 2 tablespoons of caraway seeds. The caraway seeds are very fragrant and add a wonderful dimension to the sweet chocolate.

city sights, food & drink

dutch babies, aka german pancakes

The German pancake, also known as the Dutch Baby and a host of other names, is one of the most strange looking foods I’ve encountered so far. It’s soft, airy, light and slightly sweet— in other words, perfect in texture and flavor (at least in my opinion). But with its upwards-sloped sides and uneven wave-like texture, the german pancake looks slightly bizarre at first sight. If it’s not love at first sight, it sure is love at first taste. This recipe I adapted from a generic one. It uses less eggs, more sugar, and keeps the condiments simple. It’s quick and quite easy to make. It’s also less of a hassle than standing at the stove making individual pancakes because the german pancake just takes a hand-free 20 minutes in the oven. Since it’s still summer in San Diego (as it always seems to be), I diced some soft, juicy yellow peaches and nearly over-ripe bananas to serve next to the german pancakes.

German Pancake Recipe


4 eggs

1 cup soy milk

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup flour

2 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons powdered sugar

1/2 cup sliced almonds (optional)

peaches and bananas, or other fruit, diced/sliced!


1. Preheat 400 F. Place one 15″x9″ baking dish or two 9″ cake pans in the oven with two tablespoons of butter. 2. Mix the eggs, milk, sugar, salt. I’ve done it by hand and with a blender, both work perfectly well. Add the flour, mix until fully incorporated. 3. Open the oven and carefully make sure that the butter is melted and covering the entire base of the pan(s). Pour in the batter and be careful of the hot butter! 4. Bake 20 minutes. 5. Remove from the oven, sprinkle powdered sugar and almonds on top. 6. Slice and serve with fresh fruit!