Friday, April 28, 2006

too hip

CI and C came down to the South Bay on Sunday, and we met up with them for dinner. We decided to check out Xanh in downtown Mountain View. Xanh is a new Vietnamese fusion restaurant that I've heard good things about. I had my nails done and the nail lady said the food there was good. She's Vietnamese, so I figured she'd probably know. Someone else also told me they really enjoyed the food. I didn't know what to think because the exterior is a little too chic for downtown Mountain View.

It was pretty busy for a Sunday night. We had about a ten minute wait. We went ahead and ordered a couple of appetizers when we were seated.


C ordered a Traditional Roll (shrimp, pork, rice noodles, green apple, lettuce, cilantro, mint, cucumber, and shallots). It came with a peanut sauce. I thought this roll was pretty good. It had a nice mix of flavors. I also liked the peanut sauce.

Mr. Cupcake ordered the Spicy Ahi Tuna Roll (ahi, mango, lettuce, cilantro, mint, and shallot). It came with a "spicy vinaigrette". The roll was deficient in the amount of available ahi. I could taste a little bit, but it was definitely heavy on the lettuce and noodles. I also wouldn't call it spicy.

We decided we would share after we ordered. C and I both ended up ordering the Bun Thit Nuong (rice noodles, cucumber, green apples, cilantro, mint, carrots, and shallots) except she ordered it with pork and I ordered it with shrimp.

When it came out and our waitress mixed up our dishes in front of us. It also came with a bowl of nuoc cham vinaigrette that was suppose to be poured on top. I was disappointed because it only came with four shrimp. I have to say the shrimp was the highlight of the dish because the rest of it didn't really work for me. The noodles were way too soft which gave the dish an overall bad texture. C said she was expecting more lettuce and also seemed underwhelmed.

CI ordered the Peppercorn Beef (beef tenderloin with potatoes and asparagus). Mr. Cupcake thought the beef was too dry. To compensate he had to dip it in the sauce a few extra times. I didn't try the beef but I really liked the potatoes.

Mr. Cupcake ordered the shaking beef (filet, garlic, spinach, and onions). The server brought it out and proclaimed that it was their best offering. CI inquired if that meant the rest of the food was subpar. The server quickly said no. Mr. Cupcake thought this dish was good. He said the beef was tender and the marinated greens complimented it well. I tried it but wasn't amazed. But then again, I don't really care for beef.

We looked over the dessert menu, but decided to opt out and go somewhere else. They were already out of a couple of dishes. Besides, I really hate having a lackluster dessert. It's my favorite part of the meal and if it turns out to be bad, then it puts a damper on the entire experience.

Our total bill before tip was about $90. I don't really like to go out for fusion food that much because it's so hard to do well. Maybe I'm not hip enough. It just seemed expensive for what it was. Next time I will probably just go to a more traditional Vietnamese restaurant instead. I just have to find a good one first.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

mark your calendars!

I have been stalking the Muginoho website for the last three months. They are opening up a Beard Papa's in San Francisco and I can't wait. According to the website, the grand opening is scheduled for May 10 in the Yerba Buena Lane Store at 99 Yerba Buena Lane.

I've never had one of these dreamy cream puffs, but I've seen pictures on various blogs and that was enough. I told R to get one when he was in Hawaii. He was skeptical, but then fate kicked in and he walked past one. Impulse got the best of him and he caved. He said it was perfect and took a picture.

My Google calendar is marked. It's things like this that make me want to move into the city. If anyone makes it there before I do, let me know how it is. ;)

euphoria

The Cherry Blossom Festival was a bust, but we didn't let it ruin our day. R's good friends CI and C are in the process of moving to the Bay area. They spent the day apartment shopping, so the plan was to meet up with them at Burma Superstar for dinner. This restaurant has been on A's wish list for some time now. Burma Superstar is a small restaurant in the Richmond district and the word on the street is that it's always packed. Before we went, Mr. Cupcake called and put us on the waiting list (they don't take reservations). We had about an hour to get there.

When we arrived, there was quite a line outside the door. Since we called ahead, we only had to wait about another 20 minutes which wasn't bad. CI and C didn't rent a car, so they took the bus. They still weren't there when the hostess called us. She was hesitant to give us our table since our entire party wasn't there. She apparently gets in trouble when she does this. We told her that if they didn't show up soon, we'd order for them. We went ahead and ordered some appetizers and stalled for a bit. I was relieved when they showed up 10 minutes later.

I'd never had Burmese food before, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I started the night off with some fresh coconut juice and was excited for what was to come.

Here we have the Rainbow salad. It contained 22 ingredients that included noodles, green papaya, tofu, onions, dried shrimp, and a tamarind dressing. It was quite tasty. The salad had very fresh flavors and I would easily order it again.

Our other appetizer was the Burmese Samusas. It normally comes with five samusas, but our waitress asked if we wanted six. The samusas were stuffed with spices, potatoes, and minced chicken. I wasn't taken with these so much. They were good, just not amazing. The outside was light and crispy, and the inside had lots of potatoes and spices. I've had similar elsewhere, so I'd rather try something else next time.

When we ordered, we weren't expecting to share, but as all the dishes arrived, we changed our minds. I'm not sure who ordered what and what some of the dishes were, but I'll do my best to remember.

I really wanted something with coconut for dinner because I love coconut. I debated over two coconut noodle dishes, but I couldn't decide which one I wanted, so I asked our waitress. She suggested a completely different coconut noodle dish and said it was her favorite. I went with it. I have to say the noodles didn't blow me away. It was surprisingly bland. Fortunately, we were sharing dishes, so I wasn't the only one stuck with the bland noodles.

This was a spicy shrimp dish. I'm not sure which one it was. We ordered two shrimp dishes that were similar, but the other one was better. This one was just shrimp in a spicy sauce.

We ordered three types of rice to go with our meal. I'm not sure which one this was, but it was good. However, it wasn't as good as the coconut rice. The coconut rice so moist and coconutty. I could have easily eaten just the coconut rice and been happy. I didn't take a picture though. There was so much food coming at us that it was too hard to keep up.

I think S ordered the sesame beef. I'm glad he did because it was so good. I don't even like beef, but I loved this dish. It had just the right amount of sweet and tanginess to it.

This was the other shrimp dish. I remember liking this one a lot more. I think it was in a curry sauce. I know, not very descriptive. I'm a bad food blogger. I was overwhelmed because there was so much food. It was hard to take in. Yes, I have many excuses. There were two other dishes that I didn't get a picture of. They were both very similar. One was beef and the other was pork but both had potatoes. In hindsight, we should have ordered a more diverse selection because we had some very similar dishes. Hindsight is always 20/20.

I was stuffed after dinner. I decided to pass on dessert. I know, travesty! I just didn't think I could do it after all that food. Fortunately, Mr. Cupcake could. He went with the Coconut Custard Fritters.

OMG. I would go back just for these fritters. The outside was so crispy and perfect. The inside contained a soft, translucent coconut filling. The fritters were warm and the ice cream and strawberries pulled the whole dish together. Amazing. I'm forever grateful that Mr. Cupcake didn't pass on dessert that night.

Our total bill including tip was $180 for 6 people. Everyone in our group was extremely satisfied. We could have hung out at our table for awhile, but it was after 9 and the crowd outside was still large. We felt bad, so we took off so someone else could experience the euphoria of Burma Superstar. It lived up to the hype, but definitely call ahead if you go. I look forward to many more visits in the future.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

argh

I just had an interview, and I'm all bothered by it. I need to stop thinking about it - but I can't! Okay, enough self pity. Blogger to the rescue! Oh wondrous blog, how you make all my sorrows go away.

Last weekend A, S, Mr. Cupcake, and I went to Japantown for the Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco. I was anticipating seeing lots of cherry blossoms in bloom. Instead, there were only a couple of trees here and there. It was a little disappointing. Fortunately, that wasn't the only reason for going. There was also a food bazaar chocked full of interesting little treats to be had.

We walked through the bazaar and because some of the lines were really long, we thought the best strategy would be to split up. A and S went for the BBQ and we went for the strange little balls that had an impossibly long line. We figured with the long line meant there had to be good food.

We waited in line for about 20 minutes for these little balls, and the consensus was that it wasn't worth the wait. It's hard to describe them. They were doughy and had a ton of ginger. A and Mr. Cupcake thought the ginger was too overpowering. There was suppose to be ground beef, but I didn't taste any. We bought 24 balls and had at least 8 leftover. We should have sold the leftovers to the people waiting in the long line.

A and S waited in line for the BBQ pork. The line for the BBQ was long as well, but the operation was more efficient. We had two plates of pork and it wasn't anything to write home about. A thought she could make a better sauce which I could definitely believe. The pork was also very boney. Another disappointment, but we were hungry so we ate it all.

Mr. Cupcake went to get a drink and noticed that there wasn't a line for garlic fries. Now, garlic fries probably aren't Japanese, but they are good. I think it's a local delicacy. I love french fries, but I have to be careful because I get heartburn if I eat too much greasy food. Getting old sucks.

We kept seeing people carrying around green tea ice cream ice cones. I picked one up for Mr. Cupcake. He was waiting in line for something else. I took a bite of the ice cream but wasn't enthralled. I don't really like green tea ice cream. I always want it to taste like mint chocolate chip but it never does.

While I was waiting for ice cream, Mr. Cupcake was waiting for these red bean pancakes. When I was waiting for the doughy balls, some girls were eating them in line and kept raving about how great they were. I decided I had to have one. The pancakes had a very familiar taste to them. A had seen a bunch of Bisquick and we put two and two together. If I had known they were made with Bisquick before hand, I probably would have passed. I could have made these at home - not that I would.

The food bazaar turned out to be a bust. I was happy to be outside though. It seems like sunny days are few and far between lately. I doubt I will be back next year, but I always like to try things at least once. Next time I'll just go to a good Japanese restaurant instead.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

my friend toro

My brain is fried. Life suddenly became very busy. I'm going to ignore it all though and blog instead. I feel like my poor blog has been neglected lately. I have a backlog of things I need to report, but it'll have to be over the course of the next couple of days.

Last week, AB came to San Francisco with her friend C. She and I use to be in the same group when I worked in Kentucky. I met up with them and we ran around San Francisco. I'm sure they won't want to visit me again after I had them climb the hills around Lombard Street. ;)

I talked to AB before she arrived and she said she was up for sushi. My immediate thought was Hama-Ko. I was excited. It's a mom and pop shop in San Francisco with very few seats, and they apparently serve up hard core sushi. No frou frou rolls or anything like that. We were set. Then the day that we were suppose to meet, it occurred to me, I should ask them if they really like sushi. I'm really glad I asked because it turned out they don't like anything weird. I did some research, and settled on Takara Japanese Restaurant in Japantown. It was named one of the top 100 restaurants in San Francisco by some magazine. I wasn't sure if that was a good or bad thing.

After our adventures on trolley cars and Lombard Street we met up with Mr. Cupcake for dinner. Takara is located in the Miyako Mall on the second floor. It was Thursday night, and we were seated immediately. I was excited when I saw mochi on the appetizer menu. We ordered it and also some tempura as a safety dish.

The mochi was very different than any other mochi I've had before. It probably means it was authentic. The mochi (white pile) was stringy but very soft and almost delicate. I didn't really like it at first, but I had to say it grew on me. The sauce was soupy and savory, but I don't remember what it was. No one else really cared for the mochi. I'm not sure if I'd order it again. Ask me in a week.

The tempura was pretty standard. There were three pieces of shrimp, a carrot, zucchini, onion, and green beans. The overall serving size seemed small.

For the main event, we ordered a variety of sushi. Here we have spider roll, omelet, salmon, toro, shrimp, halibut, a ton of California rolls, and a spicy tuna roll. Toro is my absolute favorite sushi. My favorite way to have it served is when it comes with a thick slice of toro, a piece of seaweed, and a bowl filled with sesame oil with sea salt. I only know of one place that serves it that way, and it's amazing. Most places I've been to serve it on rice. This place was no different. I think the piece I ate had a bone in it. Whatever it was, it was too hard to eat. I was a bit put off but I will always love my friend toro. The spider roll (deep fried soft shell crab) was also weird. There were a bunch of herbs that overpowered the soft shell crab. AB enjoyed the omelet (cooked egg on rice). I don't think I've ever seen anyone order omelet before until that night. No one else was up for the challenge, so we left both pieces for her.

Once all the sushi was gone, we ordered more. I forgot to take a picture though. We ordered scallop, more toro, tuna, and another spicy tuna roll. This time the toro didn't seem super fresh. At this point, I felt like my friend toro was testing my love. No worries, though, I'm fiercely loyal. I was happy with the scallop though. The translucent color and texture grosses Mr. Cupcake out. I find that it's so soft and lovely. And besides, it's the marshmallow of the sea! How can anyone not like it?!

Our total bill was just under $100 before tip. It wasn't anywhere near the best sushi ever. However, it was fun to gossip with AB, so it was still an enjoyable evening. I doubt I will go back to Takara anytime soon because there are so many sushi places to try in San Francisco. AB, come back and I promise I won't make you climb the hills of San Francisco again.

Hooray for free cone day! I went to Ben and Jerry's today. Twice. I went once with Mr. Cupcake, R., and K., and then a second time with a recruiter. Oh sweet gluttony.

More reviews are to come. I had an eventful weekend and some really amazing food. Stay tuned.

Friday, April 21, 2006

pure hawtness

Mr. Cupcake and I recently discovered the Steven's Creek Trail. We took a stroll this evening after dinner. The trail is four miles long. We didn't walk the whole way, but we did go a decent distance. Afterwards, Mr. Cupcake said he'd reward me with ice cream.

Ah, ice cream. I don't always love ice cream. Sometimes it's too rich and upsets my stomach. For instance, I don't particularly care for places like Cold Stone Creamy. The ice cream is so rich and thick. I know a lot of people love it, but it just doesn't do it for me. I do love gelato though. Maybe I like it for its lower fat content. Maybe I like how dense it is. Whatever the reason, I love it. I haven't had amazing gelato since I've been in the Bay area though. Actually, I haven't had amazing gelato since visiting Italy.

Anyway, I decided to take Mr. Cupcake up on his offer. Before we went, I did some research on chowhound because we don't really have a regular place. The chowhounds kept talking about a place called Tango Gelato. Many of them say it's the best gelato in the Bay area. The only problem is that they were referring to the one in San Francisco. I visited the website anyway figuring maybe I could visit the next time I'm up north. To my surprise, there was a place in Los Altos that offers Tango Gelato. I was elated. I grabbed Mr. Cupcake, and we were off to Italian Deli and Gelateria in Los Altos.

When we arrived in downtown Los Altos, it was a little after 9pm. The entire main street was dead! It's Friday night. wtf?! Of course the gelateria was closed. I made a mental note to add it to my wish list though. Mr. Cupcake and I were ice creamless. After a bit of indecision, we chose Real Ice Cream in Santa Clara. We've been once before. I wanted to go because I was craving coconut. Coconut is rapidly becoming one of my favorite flavors. Though, it'll never surpass chocolate.

Real Ice Cream can be a little tricky to find because it is tucked behind a seafood restaurant in a strip mall. When we arrived, the hours said they closed at 9pm. It was 9:40, but there were people inside. We walked in, and the man behind the counter said he's serve us ice cream to go. I was happy because it would have been depressing to drive that whole way and not have any ice cream. Real Ice Cream has more unusual flavors compared to the typical ice cream shop. They carry flavors like rose water, saffron, and mango. They also offer more traditional flavors like chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla.

I went with the coconut pineapple and it was pure hawtness. There were bits of coconut and pineapple in the ice cream and the flavors really married well together. Real Ice Cream doesn't use eggs and they make it all in house. The other thing I like is that the ice cream is not overly sweet like a lot of other places. Again, pure hawtness.

Mr. Cupcake opted for a scoop of pistachio and a scoop of cashew raisin. We took a picture with his camera phone, but it wasn't having it. All we could get were blurry picture, so no picture of his food for you tonight. Mr. Cupcake enjoyed his ice cream though. The cashews were kind of weird because they were chewy, but still good. We'll be back again for sure.

Mr. Cupcake recently updated my gallery software, and now it's not playing nice with blogger. I tried writing about my sushi adventures from last night, but I couldn't get the images to work. Hopefully I'll get that sorted out and you can learn about my love for toro.

Last thing: Tuesday April 25th is Ben and Jerry's free cone day. Be there or be square.

Monday, April 17, 2006

momma mia!

Mr. Cupcake and I went shopping for new mattresses on Saturday. It turned out to be a lot of work laying on mattresses and dealing with the sleazy salesmen. We were famished after the first store, so we headed out to University Ave in Palo Alto to find some grub. I wanted Italian food. I always want Italian food. I love Italian food. We perused the street, and eventually settled for La Strada. It was the only Italian restaurant filled with people.

I was a little disappointed when I started looking over the menu. There didn't seem to be very many pasta dishes other than ravioli and seafood. I don't usually care for ravioli because most places stuff the ravioli full of cheese. It really turns me off. Mr. Cupcake narrowed his decision down to two dishes. It was either the Casonsei alla Bergamasca (ravioli filled with homemade sausage and topped with brown butter) or the Chitarrine con Sugo d' Agnello (shoestring pasta with braised lamb in a Montepulciano wine). I told him I'd get the ravioli and then he wouldn't have to decide. I agreed to the ravioli because there wasn't any mention of cheese.

While we waited for our food, the waitress brought out bread and a small container filled with some sort of seasoned tomato paste. The bread was warm, spongy and had a crispy crust. I couldn't get enough. The waitress had to fill our basket 3 or 4 times. I wasn't sure what to think of the tomato paste at first. It eventually grew on me though and I ate the whole thing. I should have taken a picture, but I guess the famine had taken its toll and I forgot.

I was impressed by the overall presentation of my meal. The ravioli reminded me more of dumplings, but they were very good. The ravioli was filled with little sausage meatballs. I also loved the fact that they make their own pasta and sausage. The dish was topped with roasted garlic cloves (yum!), sage, and guanciale. I thought the guanciale was bacon, but after doing some research, I now know it's the jowels of the pig. Tasty nonetheless.

Mr. Cupcake loved his dish. The meat sauce was like a hearty ragout. He also loves fresh pasta. We traded plates about halfway through and agreed that both meals were excellent.

Our total bill before tip was $30 for two dishes and an iced tea. We'll definitely come back to La Strada. I wasn't expecting to have such a pleasurable meal for lunch that day. I haven't had good Italian food since I've been out here, so this was a nice surprise.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

hooray for xlb

My new camera arrived on Friday, and I couldn't be more excited! To celebrate this joyous occasion, Mr. Cupcake and I went for XLB. XLB is short for xiao long bao aka Shanghai dumpling. It's basically a dumpling filled with broth and meat/vegetable. I've only had XLB once before at Koi Palace. A is a huge fan of XLB and raved about Hu Chiang Dumpling House. It definitely piqued my curiosity.

We arrived at HC Dumpling House around 8pm on Friday night, and the place was packed. Mr. Cupcake put us on the waiting list. We waited about 20 minutes, which wasn't bad because apparently the wait can be over an hour on the weekends. I was happy once we were seated because I was starving.

The menu was a little overwhelming because the English descriptions were lacking. I could identify one type of XLB, but wasn't sure about the rest. Our waitress was pushy at first and wanted us to order. We went ahead and ordered the house special XLB and some green onion pancakes. She put the order in and we debated a little bit longer. When the waitress came back Mr. Cupcake and I decided we'd split the braised pork. The waitress then advised us we probably wouldn't like it because the skin was still attached. She suggested the kung pao shrimp instead and Mr. Cupcake and I agreed. We also order a plate of long beans. Mr. Cupcake loves long beans.

The green onion pancakes came out first. It was accompanied with a hoison like sauce. Mr. Cupcake and I didn't really like the pancakes. It tasted like there was a lot of flour on the pancake, and had the texture of a tortilla. Pass on these if you go.

Then came the main event: The XLB had arrived! The bamboo basket contained 8 little dumplings and we devoured all of them. The dumplings were filled with a ball of minced pork and broth. It was tricky to eat because the broth was so hot, but very good nonetheless. We enjoyed the dumplings a lot and wished we had ordered more.

I was not impressed with the Kung Pao Shrimp. The shrimp had a shrimpy flavor that was very unsettling. I couldn't eat very much of this. Mr. Cupcake tried dousing the shrimp in the sauce to mask the flavor. He concluded that not all the shrimp had the shrimpy flavor.

Looking back at the picture I don't think these were long beans. I think they were French green beans in a sweet and sour sauce. Either way Mr. Cupcake thought the beans were over cooked. I thought they were okay. I doubt I'd order it again though.

Our total bill not including tip was $35. The highlight of the meal was definitely the XLB. I did more research when we came home and found out that all the other dumplings on the menu were indeed XLB. I will go again, but just stick with the dumplings. I saw a lot of people with some kind of fluffy, doughy thing. They topped the doughy thing with a filling and then folded it over and ate it like a sandwich. I'll order that too if I can figure out what it was.

I have a few more reviews to do a little later on. Mr. Cupcake and I were out and about shopping for a new mattress this weekend. It's tiring work, so of course we rewarded ourselves with food.

Friday, April 14, 2006

can you guess?

A couple of weeks ago, I was watching Martha and was inspired to paint eggs, so I invited A over. It's probably been like 6 or 7 years since I colored eggs, and even longer for A. I think she said something like 5th grade, so it was a good time to give it another go.

I had Mr. Cupcake help me pick up some supplies for the decorating festivities. I was just going to buy the tablets, but he insisted that I buy the stuff that comes in vials. Well, they don't sell the stuff in the vials here, so we gave up. The day of the big event, I ran all over looking for paint in vials again and couldn't find any. Finally, I found a paint palette at Target. It was the last one, so I grabbed it. I also picked up a cute Hello Kitty kit.

I had been dreaming of coconut cupcakes that week, so I decided it'd be a good time to make them. For some reason I thought Baking Illustrated had a recipe, but it turned out there was only a coconut cake recipe. I was a little disappointed, but remembered my secret girl crush, the Barefoot Contessa, had a lovely coconut cupcake recipe that I'd been wanting to try for some time now. Ina (as always) had a very straight forward recipe except I misinterpreted 1.5 pounds of confectioners sugar for 1.5 cups for the frosting. I was sad because I didn't have enough sugar. A tried the frosting and said it tasted like butter. No problem. A and I ran over to the evil Safeway nearby, bought a pound of confectioners sugar and the frosting was saved! We frosted and topped them with coconut and the cupcakes were lovely.

Ina didn't let me down. The cupcakes were tasty and I was happy again! They should be tasty considering the recipe calls for 6 sticks of butter. Mr. Cupcake took the leftovers to work and someone left a post it that said "Great cupcake! It was delicious! :)" Ah, validation is good. I<3 ina.

After we taste tested the cupcakes, we went on to decorating our eggs. We decorated until A's fingers were an unrecognizable color.






Mr. Cupcake and S had gone to play poker, so when they came back they tried to guess who the eggs belonged to. Mr. Cupcake had good reasoning why the eggs belonged to me; he knows me so well. They were able to do it, but can you? Leave a comment and I'll give the answer in my next post.

I'm also happy to report that the dye finally came off A's fingers. :)

A new memory stick just arrived via DHL 20 minutes ago, my camera should be here in the next few days, and my DSL appears to be back to normal again. Yay! Once I have my new camera, I'll be back in business and my blog will be focused again. Oh and FYI, Amex refunded the entire cost of my broken camera. Love them.

Monday, April 10, 2006

let mr. cupcake eat pie

This was a weekend filled with highs and lows. Mr. Cupcake and I went to a BBQ on Saturday. I told the host that I would bring a dessert. I have been a fan of a Chockylit's blog for the past few months. She always makes these amazing cupcakes, so I decided this was a good chance to try out her Samoas Cupcakes. It was a complete disaster. I wasn't anticipating so many obstacles like burnt caramel and curdled custard. In the end, I ran out of time and threw in the towel.

What does a girl do when she owes a crowd dessert? We went to Draeger's and picked up a chocolate cake with white butter cream frosting. It's a lot like Andronico's except everyone who shops there drives really fancy cars. It was our first visit, and Mr. Cupcake noted that my car wasn't expensive enough.

The cake went over pretty well. It reminded me of an okay wedding cake without filling. I wasn't necessarily thrilled with it, but there wasn't much I could do.

I was feeling deflated after my cupcake disaster. I still have plain cupcakes and toasted coconut sitting on the table. I should probably throw them out. But never fear! I made pie dough on Friday from Baking Illustrated. Now, I made an apple pie once before and it didn't turn out so well. The crust was tough since it was all done by hand. I'm sure I over worked it. This time I made it with my food processor and it was pretty easy.

The cookbook said to only let the dough sit in the fridge for a maximum of two days, I decided to go ahead and make my apple pie last night. It was pretty straight forward (that's why I like Baking Illustrated) and was drama free. Well, there was a point where I thought it was going to look ugly before I put it in the oven, but it was fine. I'll call it rustic.

I was sad because we couldn't eat it last night. The book said I had to wait at least 4 hours before serving, and it came out of the oven around 9. Therefore, we decided to eat it for breakfast this morning. The crust was flaky and the inside was gooey and good. I deem this apple pie a success! Mr. Cupcake was groggy so he just said it was good. Usually Mr. Cupcake will say "it's okay" and I interpret it as it's good because he doesn't get overly excited for anything except maybe a fast car. So, when he actually calls it good then it means it's great!

I have a lot of love for Baking Illustrated. I like how they explain but also illustrate all their techniques. I'm tempted to make more things out of it but it's bad for our waistlines. I may have to wait for a special occasion before baking anything else.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

breakfast y'all

Mr. Cupcake and I were lounging around this morning, when he decided he wanted to go to Hobee's for breakfast. We've been there several times since being out here. It's a local chain and has pretty good breakfast food. However, I was in the process of creating my wish list (see side panel) when he wanted to go, so I made him wait until I was finished.

There are quite a few Hobee's in the Bay area, but we usually go to the one at Rengstorff and Central Expressway in Mountain View. When we arrived it was pretty busy. Mr. Cupcake wanted to park in the Walgreen's parking lot, but I freaked and told him no because I didn't want to get towed (there were tow signs everywhere!). We eventually parked and then had to wait about 15 minutes for table. It wasn't terrible for 11:30 in the morning.

While you wait, Hobee's offers complimentary coffee and hot tea outside. I always want to like their tea, but it has a very strong cinnamon flavor that burns my throat going down. I'd had it once before while we were waiting, but the burning sensation was so strong that I threw it out. I figured that maybe I was getting the stuff that settled to the bottom, and that's why it tasted so concentrated. I decided to brave the tea again. I took a few sips, and had to throw it out. I guess that's the way it's suppose to be. I don't know how people can drink it that way. It'd taste a lot better if there was actually more water to dilute it.

Once we were seated, we looked over the menu. The front page always has an insert with their specials. I really enjoy breakfast but tend to have a difficult time trying to decide what I should order. I like pancakes, but I usually find I'm hungry again after an hour. This time I decided to go with the Pruneyard Ommie with their blueberry coffeecake.

We took the food pictures with Mr. Cupcake's phone. I don't have a new camera yet. Soon though! Anyway, the pruneyard ommie had turkey bacon, spinach, mushrooms, red onions, swiss cheese and is topped with a sun dried tomato pesto. I asked for egg whites only and the pesto on the side. I liked the omelet a lot. I don't usually order eggs, but I guess I was just feeling it today. The egg whites were thin and the omelet was filled with tons of veggies. I was glad I ordered the pesto on the side. Pestos can have a pretty strong flavor, and this was no exception. With little dabs here and there it was nice. Mr. Cupcake tried my omelet, and told me I could keep it. He doesn't really like sundried tomatoes though.

Hobee's claims they're famous for their coffee cake. It's okay I guess. It's really light and fluffy with a crumble on top. They also put a big slab of butter on top of the crumble. I don't particularly care for big blobs of butter on top of pastries. If the pastry is good, it doesn't need excess butter. Most pastries are made with tons of butter anyway. I just don't get all that excited for coffee cake.

Mr. Cupcake decided to go with one of the specials. He had a chile relleno dipped in egg batter and then browned. It came with scrambled eggs, hash browns, and a piece of blueberry coffeecake.

Mr. Cupcake thought the chile relleno and eggs were just okay. He said the chile relleno was soggy and could have been better. He enjoyed the coffee cake though. I didn't try the chile relleno or the eggs, but the hash browns were good. My favorite kind are the really thin type, but these were crispy on the outside and soft inside, so I approved.

Our meal was about $24 before tip for two entrees, a coffee, and a large orange juice. I'm sure we'll be back. It's not the most amazing breakfast ever, but it's good enough for those mornings where we're craving a big breakfast.

Mr. Cupcake and I were stuffed afterwards, so we were walked off some of our breakfast by going to the farmer's market. I'm waiting for the berries, cherries, and peonies!! I love peonies, but it's still too early. I was tempted to buy some ranunculus, but they looked picked over. We did buy some blood oranges though.

I have been trying to eat in until I get my new camera. I don't want to go without pictures, and the camera phone pictures are subpar. Hopefully this week I'll actually have a new camera, and then I can start marking things off my wish list.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Rejoice!

This isn't a food related post, but I feel compelled to share. Last week I was pissed off because my camera broke. I had finally started using my camera on a regular basis for this food blog, and then it stopped working. My piece of shit Canon camera was a mere 15 months old before it suffered a most tragic E18 death. Of course at 15 months, I was past the one year warranty, so I thought I was SOL. Tonight, however, I rejoice! I have to send some sweet love to my favorite credit card ever! That's right American Express, I'm talking to you!

Mr. Cupcake happened to remember that American Express will double the length of a typical warranty (with some restrictions of course) if the item was bought with their card. He spoke with them tonight, and they're going to refund the full cost of my broke ass camera to our credit card within two weeks. They said to keep the broken camera until then. Holla!

I'm trying to bask in my good fortune because I'm fighting other battles right now. Our DSL is busted because our phone line doesn't have a dial tone. SBC is being a bitch and won't fix it until the middle of next week. We found if we call our land line with a cell phone and leave them talking to each other, the DSL will work. Call it desperation if you will, but unfortunately it's not fool proof. It's playing nice right now, which is why I'm able to blog. Yes, I haven't been online all day, and my first instinct is to blog. I'm an addict!

Anyway, I just wanted to share my good fortune for the short time that my DSL is up. Since I probably won't have regular Internet for a week, I've decided I'm going to bake. I spent much of the day reading Baking Illustrated absorbing all these newfound techniques. By next week I should have interesting things to report. Oh and if you send me an email or IM, and I don't respond in a timely manner, blame SBC. It's okay, at least I still have love for American Express!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

dim sum after all

Mr. Cupcake thinks my blog is going astray and I'm talking too much about my boring life instead of food. Soooooooooo, to prove him wrong, I'm going to do a food review! I wasn't going to review Dynasty Chinese Seafood Restaurant, but since my camera is still in a broken state, I changed my mind. Besides, I took pictures of our lunch, so I might as well use them.

When SK came to visit, we decided to go for dim sum. I had read good things about Dynasty, so we went to the San Jose location. The Cupertino location gets blasted in a lot of reviews. Now, I'm not a dim sum connoisseur, but I love it. I really don't know much about the names either, so I try to feel my way around. The first time I had dim sum was in Cincinnati, OH. Of course, it's not known for its dim sum, but we went anyway. I thought it was good, but not blow my mind good. I went a few more times after that. Then after moving out here, R. came to visit and we went to Koi Palace in Daly City, and holy shit, the food is amazing!!! I never knew dim sum could be so good until that experience. I really had high hopes for Dynasty.

When we walk in, we were presented with this very grand staircase. The restaurant is on the second floor, and is huge! It wasn't packed when we arrived, but it was still pretty busy for the lunch rush. We were seated towards the back of the restaurant. We ordered Jasmine tea, and waited for the carts.


We started off with shrimp cherng fun. It's shrimp wrapped in a rice noodle and they pour a sauce over it when it's served. I picked the dish out because I remember having it at Koi Palace and liking it a lot. It's also R.'s favorite dish but he prefers beef. The noodle was thick and fluffy while the shrimp was soft. I liked it, but thought the noodle was a little too fluffy. However, it didn't take long for us to finish it off, so it definitely wasn't bad. :)

We waited a long time for more carts to show up. The dessert cart came frequently, and the tripe soup also made its rounds, but we passed. We sat there for a long time with the shrimp cherng fun as our only dish. It was somewhat annoying because we were hungry. Eventually, other carts starting making their way and we picked up some shumai. It arrived and we snatched it up. I thought it was pretty good, but nothing to write home about. SK only took a few bites and left it at that. I don't think she particularly cared for it. Oh, and it does come with four shumai, but I forgot to take a picture since I was so hungry.

SK and I were getting tired of waiting. The dessert cart was very persistent, so SK picked up some egg tarts. I didn't take a picture, but they weren't anything special. They definitely did not compare to the Golden Gate Bakery. I don't like egg tarts, but I can appreciate Golden Gate's version. The egg tarts at Dynasty looked oily on top and not very appetizing. I don't think SK minded these though, but unfortunately, we didn't have a chance to hit up Golden Gate. I'm pretty sure she would have thought these paled in comparison.

SK really wanted some fluffy buns, so she asked one of the waiters if they were going to bring any out. They said in 10 minutes. We waited and waited as the dessert cart went by again. A waitress eventually made a special delivery for us. SK had a proper name for the buns when she asked, but I don't know what it was, so I'm just going to call these steamed sweet pork bun. These were the best item we had. The dough was sweet and fluffy, and the inside contained a sweet pork filling. They were very good and I wish we had more, but it was a struggle to get these three.

The restaurant started clearing out and the wait staff was even less attentive if you could imagine. We did have one last opportunity to get more food, so we picked out this tofu dish. The tofu was very soft and was topped with shrimp. SK really liked this dish, but the tofu was too soft for me. It just fell apart in my mouth which I wasn't crazy about. The shrimp was balled together. It was okay, but not my favorite.

Towards the end, a few large parties came in and carts huddled around them. We realized we had no chance of getting their attention, so we called it quits. We were tired of waiting around. Dynasty is next door to a Vietnamese mall, so we figured we could pick up something there afterwards if we were still hungry.

Our total bill not including tip was slightly over $16. I was very put off by the service, so I'm not sure if I'll be back. There didn't seem to be a ton of variety either, but that could be because it was in the middle of the week. They might go all out on the weekends, which I might be willing to try. However, there are other dim sum places I'd like to visit. I've heard a lot of raves about a place in Millbrae across from the Bart station. I'd also like to go back to Koi Palace one day.

We ended up not getting anymore food after dim sum. I found I was pretty content. I guess that's what they call stopping when you're full. I usually tend to gorge myself, so I'm not familiar with this method. Although, in the mall, we did see one of the shops pressing sugar cane for drinks. I was tempted, but managed to pass.

My list of restaurants that I want to visit keeps growing. I recently received a great list of Korean and sushi places from J. I also have heard great things about a new Vietnamese restaurant in Mountain View. However, I can't go anywhere without a new camera. The good news is I think I've decided on a camera. After much consideration, I think I'm going with the Sony DSC-W50. Now, I just have to order it and then I will have more to share!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

churro!

Mr. Cupcake had a fun filled morning of autocross, but stopped by Costco on his way home. He brought me home a churro! I love Costco churros. They have good texture; crispy and cinnamon sugary on the outside and soft and doughy on the inside. Plus they're super cheap. It only costs a dollar for a foot long churro.

In Kentucky, we use to belong to Sam's Club (yes, I know Wal-Mart is the devil) because it was the only warehouse club in Lexington. Anyway, we use to always see people eating at Sam's Club, and never understood why. One day, Mr. Cupcake decided he wanted a $2 slice of pizza from Costco. It was huge! Granted, it wasn't anywhere near the best slice of pizza we've ever had, but it was cheap and definitely edible. Then another day he wanted a Polish sausage. A rather large polish sausage and a drink was only $1.50! How can Costco sell food for so cheap?! Finally, one day it happened; I succumbed to the churro. I always saw kids eating these huge churros, and I decided to get one. I haven't looked back since. I know some foodies might balk at the idea of eating at Costco, but everyone should try the magical $1 foot long churro at least once. Because of these experiences, I now know why all those people were eating at Sam's Club. One could easily feed a family of 4 for under $10. I bet the food is even cheaper than Costco. However, even though Costco is busiest place on Earth, I like to support them. Their business model involves treating their employees very well, so I try to support those types of businesses when I can.

Anyway, I spent the day in SF yesterday doing training for a volunteer group I'm involved in. I came home pretty late last night and when I picked up the mail, I found I had a package from SK. To my surprise, she sent me a box of Aveda's Comforting Tea. It's their special blend. When she came to visit, we went to Berkeley and stopped in an Aveda store. They handed us a sample of this marvelous tea. It's made with peppermint and licorice root. I'm not a big tea drinker, so I'm not usually smitten by tea. However, the after taste is what makes this tea so special. It lingers in the back of the mouth with this amazing sweet, minty flavor. I love it. If you live near an Aveda, go in for the tea sample; it's so worth it. Thanks to SK, I have 19 lovely more tea bags to enjoy.

Mr. Cupcake and I went to Fry's this evening to look at new digital cameras. I'm feeling lost without one because I can't take food pictures and report about them. Hence no picture of today's churro. That's why I haven't had very many updates lately. I'll be happy when I have a camera again. I'm leaning towards an Olympus (stupid Canon), but we'll see. I have to do more research first.

I have been doing a lot of food related activities lately. I'll report about them in the coming days. A. brought her camera over the other day and took pictures, so I should have some lovely photography to accompany my posts. Until then.