Saturday, December 12, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Photo from Root:1 website, http://www.root1wine.com/#sauvignonBlanc.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Tapioca: most of us have consumed it at one point or another without thinking twice about its origin. I remember eating tapioca pudding as a child thinking that those little gel balls were the seeds of a tapioca plant. I spent a great deal of my life living in tapioca ignorance. That all changed when I started drinking boba (or bubble tea) drinks three years ago. Boba is a tea-based drink that is often served with large, tapioca balls at the bottom of the glass. At this point in my life, I consider myself a boba connoisseur, and rightly so, I think, as I have consumed a lot over the years and sell boba straws and tapioca pearls online.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
Sunday, December 6, 2009
I should begin with a disclaimer. I am Chinese, so that means I’ve eaten mostly Chinese food my entire life. My parents were immigrants, so we always ate Chinese food at home and whenever we went out. I’ve had a lot of exposure to real, authentic (and very fake) Chinese cuisine, so I’m a tad picky when it comes to Chinese food.
Anyway, our overall experience was enjoyable, though in my opinion, Sangkee is more westernized than other Chinese restaurants. Normally, before you even order at a Chinese restaurant, your table is served a pot of tea. I had to request tea, which came in the form of a tea bag and a thermos of hot water. I thought it was fine, but my parents would definitely not approve.
We ordered the steamed juicy pork buns, house pan-fried noodles, and pork with noodle soup. The noodles were okay. I’ve had better. I enjoyed the soup. It had a strong, salty flavor. The noodles were the same kind as the pan-fried ones. Sangkee is not known for their pan-fried noodles, so I would order something else instead. The sauce was rather bland and lacked any kind of character. I would bank on the steamed juicy pork buns, which were better than the ones I had last month in NYC Chinatown. The skin was steamed to perfection and had an “al dente” bite to it. The buns really were juicy, and they didn’t use too much vinegar as flavoring. I’ve had juicy pork buns where the juice was basically vinegar. If you’re looking for an appetizer, skip the spring rolls you can find at any food truck and go straight for the steamed juicy pork buns!
Tip: Sangkee is still promoting their grand opening. You can go to the Sangkee website for a 50% off coupon.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
If you thought adding Mickey Mouse ears to your flapjacks was the pinnacle of pancake artistry, think again. Check out this blog, for pancake snails, pigs, and for the NPH fans out there, Dr. Horrible.
Note: Click here to see the original post.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
So when the owner at our favorite shop said he had some Saint Maure de Touraine that was a little extra aged we jumped at the opportunity. "It's very strong," he warned. But years of eating the weirdest goat, sheep, and cow milk cheese they had to offer left us eager for a new adventure. He gave it to us wrapped up in a plastic container...
We pulled the cheese out as soon as we got home and delicately unwrapped. The smell hit us before we saw it. Now, like I said, I love strong stinky cheese, so to compare this scent to extra strong extra stinky cheese does not do it justice. True, it smelled like cheese. Cheese that had been left to rot in the hot sun on a humid day. Days later, after we had relegated it to the back of the fridge, you could smell the cheese as you approached the kitchen. It looked like a brain. Bluish green and wrinkly. Not the thick, obvious mold of blue cheese, this was more a general sickly tint. On that first day, however, we were undeterred. The cheese had been initially bound in a little box made of little wooden rods (think, lincoln log). The man at the cheese shop had place this entire package inside the plastic wrapping. When we finally released it fully from the wrapping, the crazy cheese came to life. It literally oozed out every crevice of wooden container. It had the consistency of syrup - smelly, off-white, cheesy syrup. We boldly tasted it and nearly gagged. It was difficult to get the stench close enough to your face to even taste but when you did, you were hit with the flavor of something that is not to be consumed.
After a few days stinking up our kitchen we sadly disposed of the cheese and admitted defeat. We had found the cheese too cheesy for us to bear.
**And interesting follow up to this is that when we went back, months later, to retrieve the name of the offending cheese, the owner knew exactly what we were talking about as soon as I told him I was writing about the crazy cheese.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
So no new episode last week, but tonight is officially part one of the season finale, and we'll be saying goodbye to one more chef before the final showdown next week. The chefs reunite at a Napa Valley train station after an extended break from the competition. The atmosphere isn't exactly 100% friendly, but what do you expect?! A very pregnant Padma hops off the train with guest judge Michael Chiarello and introduces the season's final quickfire, which is to use Napa's signature crop: the grape. But wait, these dishes will have to be prepared on the Napa wine train, and because it's a high stakes quickfire, the winner also gets a new Prius. I'd say that's worth a little motion sickness. The kitchen on the train is huge, but it's long and skinny, making for a lot of awkward passes back and forth. Kevin opts for dessert with a honey and fromage blanc mousse. Michael put together some sort of stuffed grape leaf with grapes all over, and his brother went for a delicate hen. Finally, Jen sauteed some chicken livers (possibly my least favorite food) and clams with grapes in a creamy sauce. Michael's incorporation of the grape in basically every aspect of his dish won Chiarello over, and he walks off with a new car as a result.
The dynamic duo of Padma and Michael is back and Padma announces the elimination challenge as catering a "crush" party (that would be crushing grapes) at a local winery. The chefs have to use all local ingredients "except for salt and pepper," and they have to prepare two dishes, one meat and one vegetarian, for a crowd of 150. It seems like the break from competition didn't do much for Jen's psyche; she seems as frazzled as ever while shopping for groceries at a local market that is certainly not Whole Foods. That said, most of the chefs seem confident, as they have pretty much free reign to do whatever they want within the guidelines, so hopefully, we'll see some impressive dishes tonight. With five hours to go, the cheftestants seem totally in the zone, obviously well aware of the importance of tonight's challenge. Michael's egg custard could be a make or break dish, and as he says, "It's all up to the egg at this point."
Well, Michael's egg turns out perfectly, according to him, and preparations reach the end just as the guests and judges arrive. Bryan prepared a goat cheese ravioli and fig-glazed short ribs, both of which lack a little bit of seasoning, according to our esteemed panel. The vegetable pisto with egg and turnip soup with foie gras from Michael certainly comprise the most ambitious menu of the night, and they judges seem to like, but not love, it. Simple as usual, Kevin prepared a beet and carrot salad and a grass-fed brisket and polenta, both of which totally wow the judges, all but securing Kevin his spot in the final three. Last up is Jen, who cooked up a chevre mousse and a braised duck leg with squash. The vegetarian dish is a little salty, but gets a decent reception, and her duck is certainly her standout for the night. It certainly won't be an easy decision tonight, so it will be really interesting to see who the judges put through to the finale.
As expected, Padma summons all four chefs to judges' table, for what should be a tough discussion. Besides his somewhat tough brisket, Kevin earns raves all around. Just as they did when they were sampling his food, the judges come down on Bryan for going a little bit short on seasoning, but they praise the layers of flavors in his dishes. Michael's dishes get a lot more criticism at the table than he did during the judges' tasting. Could he be in danger tonight? Jen admits to her mistake in not grilling the duck as planned, and Tom looks extremely disappointed. Is THAT the face that signifies a knife-packing? With such mixed feedback tonight, it's hard to say what will happen after the break, but I'd say it's between Michael and Jen for the elimination tonight, with slightly higher odds for Jen going home just based on recent disappointments.
Well here we go, who's going home one week short of the finale after such a tough season? The chefs return to the table and wait anxiously as Padma obviously draws out the decision as long as possible. Bryan is the first to seal his spot in the final with a win, and it's especially impressive considering that he was never in the bottom over the course of 26 challenges. In a non-shocker, Jen gets the boot. She excelled all season, but she didn't have the same level of consistently winning food as Kevin or the brothers. So we've got the brother vs. brother showdown that has been looming since episode one, and when you throw Kevin in there it should be a really strong finale. Next week everything wraps up, and there appears to be a formal dinner party with some extra cranky guests. Come back next week, and we'll "watch what happens."