Aug 26, 2008

Fancy Chinese Style Potluck

It's been a while since my last potluck event,
Let me was like...almost a year ago?
Time flies...

So what brought everybody together this time?
Perhaps too much toxic liquid for the past few weeks?
Maybe we were just in the mood for something chill in a Sunday afternoon?
Or it was just an excuse to have lots, I mean loads of delicious homemade food?
The reason's no longer important,
I can only recall that I overstuffed myself with yummy Chinese goodies!

Since it was a potluck event,
That means I can't just show up and devour everything on the table like I usually do,
Some efforts need to be done first,
So I decided to cook something I made before: beef with scallion and butter sauce,
You can find similar recipe from my previous post.

Here's the before picture-


I almost burned my tiny little brain while trying to figure out what to cook,
This wasn't an ordinary potluck,
All the personnel involved are awesome cooks,
I was under tremendous amount of pressure throughout the whole cooking process,
First, I had to worry about whether my dish tastes OK or not to those regular cooks,

A simple scrambled eggs won't satisfy their palate at all.
Second, I don't want my friends to commit a sin by lying to me that the food is delicious.
Can you imagine me with stiff smile on my face when they had the very first bite?

So what happened after they reluctantly swallowed my food?
I don't know, I was avoiding eye contact every time somebody took a bite of my food.
But enough of my anxious talk,
Here are some of the dishes they cooked~

Braised pork knuckle with crystal sugar 冰糖煨蹄膀-

My friend fried the whole knuckle prior braising it,
The meat was very tender, but I personally think the fatty skin was the best,
The inner side of the skin fat just melted slowly in my mouth,
It was full of wonderful aroma from all the Chinese essence: garlic, ginger, star anise, and so on,
I can have bowls of rice with this dish!

Fish fillet with garlic sauce 魚香魚片-

The chef for this dish put lots of freshly grounded fagara (花椒) in this dish,
The whole house was filled with the aroma from fagara,
Not only my tongue can tastes the spiciness, my nose can sense the power of fagara too!

Fish head casserole 砂鍋魚頭-

The tofu sucked up all the flavor from the soup,
All the juice just splash out when I took a bite of it!

Rice with sweet corn and garlic 蒜香玉米飯-

There's even a spin on regular plain white rice,
This is the evidence that we really put lots of effort in this potluck event.

Group picture for several dishes including baked cod 烤鱈魚 and steamed pomfret 清蒸鯧魚-

People (especially us the spoiled generation) usually don't cook these kinda dishes for potluck right?
Every plates here looks like meals that are nicely prepared from a authentic Chinese restaurant,
It's a blessing that maybe I'll have many opportunities to eat professional homemade food in the future,
Hey, wait a second!
Does that also means I'll be under the spot light for more tests and challenges from now on??

Aug 22, 2008

First Day After LASIK

For all my fellow bloggers and secret readers,
I know I'm been slacking off updating my blog,
Life's been hectic here (well, I guess that's probably the same case for people over age 18),
Let's see, relationships, families, friends, food,
Yes food, I'm been trying to figure out what to cook so I can write about it here,
But due to the lack of use of my brain, it's not working properly these days,
Besides that,
My laziness was creeping on me,
For example,
I got a watermelon, some grapes and coconut milk the other day,
Thought that I can at least make some jellies and put it on the blog,
Many days after....I saw fuzzy things on my grapes....
Ahhhh wasting food is a sin!

So what's another excuse for my absent for so many days?
Well, someone slashed my cornea wide open last night and attacked me with laser beams!!!
Seriously, I'm not joking here,
I just had my LASIK done yesterday!
And what am I doing now?
Updating my blog the day right after LASIK,
Cz I miss you guys!!!!

I have to take good care of my eyes for at least couple weeks,
That means avoiding smoke and other dangers around the kitchen,
So before I can really write about more recipes,
Let me show you that status of my eyes then.
This is that I had to put on the day of my LASIK operation,
The nurse kept correcting me earlier cz I was saying "surgery" instead of "operation."
According to her,
She said there's no blood, no wound, so you can only call it an "operation."
Me: okok just chill.....she was making such a big deal out of it....

Kinda fun,
Felt like I was wearing goggles for snowboard,
Except that it's sizzling hot summer time now,
With eyes that are super teary and extremely sensitive to sunlight,
I was more like a vampire.

So I had to test my LASIK result this morning,
See if my eyes really improve after all that slashing and laser beams,
As I went outside to the balcony,
Then I saw Mr. Spiderman hanging between the trees,
Without glasses, contact lenses, or telescope-

And Mrs. Crow strolling next to the sidewalk on the other side of the street-

Here's the full picture to show you the full view from the balcony,
Can you point out where were Mr. Spiderman and the Mrs. Crow?-

Give me a few more days,
I'll bring out more delicious updates that you can munch on!

Aug 12, 2008

Pâtisserie Chantilly

I'm on a mission of finding my second favorite dessert place.
(First one is almost unbeatable: Extraordinary Dessert),
Note that we're talking about places within 2 hours driving distance,
So instead of buying an airplane ticket and fly half way around the globe for a small bite of cake,
I can just hop on my car and race to my sweet goodies.
There's also another alternate solution for my sugar craving habit while caring about the earth by consuming less gas at the same time,
DIY - do it yourself, wait, should be DIM - do it myself,
But that's another scenario,
We'll have a deeper discussion about this issue later on.

So who's our lucky candidate for my "second favorite spot"?
Patisserie Chantilly, located just about 45 minutes away from where I live,
First and the only requirement? Check!

Here's their dessert display area-

Small but very clean cake munching area-

According to their website,
"Chan · til · ly: (shaàNte yée) - Sweetened whipped cream. The name for this cream is said to have originated from the ancient white castle in France, Château de Chantilly."
After we figured out how to pronounce the name of the place, now it's time to dig in!

Chaux au Chocolat-

Usually I don't eat cream puffs,
(besides those prepackaged ones that you can find in Chinese supermarket,
I know the real thing tastes better, but it's a childhood thing,
I've been eating the pre-made one since I was little,
My taste buds miss those snacks sometime)
But that chocolate cream and cocoa dust were calling my name when I passed the counter,
Seriously I'm not joking here,
So I unconsciously told the lady that I'll take that chaux au chocolat....
It was pretty good though, no regrets there,
The chocolate cream was very creamy and not heavy at all,
Even after I finished the whole puff, I feel like I can still have another one...or two....or maybe even more....

Front: Tarte aux Fruits. Back: Mousse au Mango (Seasonal)-

Tarte aux fruits was ok, nothing special.
The mousse au mango in the other hand is actually better than what I expected,
Initially, I was thinking...
"This orange thing will just taste like every other mango mousse, which the sugary taste usually overpowers fruity aroma from the mango."
It was actually pretty dang good!
The tropical fruity aroma was successfully delivered,
And the tapioca on the top was just amazing,
I thought that its chewy texture will "interrupt" the overall structure of the mousse,
Instead, it actually mixed pretty well together with the mousse.

Grapefruit Gelee (Seasonal)-

There's no bitter taste from the grapefruit at all,
Nicely done, the presentation was cute too!
(Thinking about making grapefruit granita next time~~)
So did Pâtisserie Chantilly successfully won the second place in My heart? My stomach?
Mmmmm not quite there yet,
But if you like Asian style patisserie, come and give this place a try,
I gonna keep on my journey in the search for that second love.

Overall Rating: 7

Pâtisserie Chantilly
2383 Lomita Blvd #10
Lomita, CA 90717
(310) 257-9454

Aug 5, 2008

Hamamori - South Coast Plaza Restaurant Week

I had been indulging myself with a lot of food for the past few days,
Wait, isn't that the case for me all the time?
Ok, but we are talking about a different scenario here.

South Coast Plaza had a Restaurant Week event starting from July 25th to August 3rd,
That means you can enjoy a nice four course dinner meal at several participating restaurants for $40,
It's such a good deal since usually the price of eating at those places costs way more than $40.

The participating restaurants were the following:
Antonello Ristorante
Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale's
Hamamori Restaurant - Lounge
Marche Modeme
Pinot Provence

Quattro Caffe
Scott's Seafood Grill & Bar
SAVANNAH Supper Club & Lounge
Royal Khyber Fine Indian Cuisine

Me and my friends decided to give Hamamori and Palmer a try,
Here're some of my intakes for Hamamori-

The restaurant can be divided by three areas,
Outside dining table area, inside dining table area, and sushi bar area-

Everything looks nice and fancy, you can even see the bridge that connects the two shopping centers through the window-

That probably one of the reasons why I was surprised to see Hamamori actually used disposable chopsticks instead of some other kind of fancy "real" chopsticks.
(By the way, my friend made that "fancy" chopsticks holder)-

Some refreshments are always welcome before our meal-

You guys have to spare with me here,
I didn't get a chance to either take a note or take a picture for all the dish descriptions,
Plus I don't know how much I can remember after these "refreshments."
But I'll definitely try my best to describe what exactly went into my stomach.

Here's our first course,
Kobe beef carpaccio with kumquats and salad-

Not a big fan of kumquats,
But the beef itself was pretty good, the natural beefy aroma was flowing on my pallet even though it was just a tiny thin slice.
Second course, it's a trio of....m....appetizers?....something like that. Fried asparagus coated with rice crackers-

My friend's comment: way too much rice crackers that you can hardly taste the asparagus.
Spring roll with crab meat-

Meat ball with bits of foie gras stuffing, placed on fried gobo (burdock)-

I know I was supposed to eat the meat and foie gras together,
But I ended up picking out some of the froi gras and enjoy them in one big bite... gras....

Third course is sushi plate,
From left to right: tuna, scallop (with sea salt and pepper), salmon with grated daikon and yuzu sauce, albacore with fried garlic slice, and tamago-

Salmon was my favorite among them all,
However, the flavor from grated daikon was a little bit too overpowering that it kind of took away the natural taste from salmon,
But hey, I love grated daikon with yuzu sauce!

My friends all picked tuna as their first choice,
Mmm...I really can't remember what it tastes like now,
But I know that I was only ok with tuna nigiri,
However, albacore with fried garlic slice was pretty good,
At first I thought that the aroma of fried garlic might be too much for sushi,
But it actually helped bringing out the sweetness flavor from the fish.

And here's our last course, the main dish, which you can choose between lamb or black cod-

The lamb and the black cod were ok, nothing too special about those.

I like the way they used lotus root for garnish, Gonna copy that and bring it to my dish sometimes.
Next time I'll try to post any food-related specials on my blog as soon as possible,
So maybe you guys can go give it a try too,
I was pretty busy these days......
(Spent approximately 40% of the time munching piles of helps to reduce my stress..)

Overall Rating: 7

South Coast Plaza
3333 Bristol Street
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

3333 Bristol Street. Suite 320
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 850 - 0880