Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wedding Wednesdays: All Good Things Must Come to an End

It's been more than a month since our wedding. I am very happy to put an end to that part of our journey and say goodbye to my obsessive behavior in all things wedding related. Sadly, with the end of that part of our lives comes the end of Wedding Wednesdays.

I will though, with no doubt, be sharing with you our journey in building our nest - I will be transitioning from being a "consultant designer" in my sister's new home to being a leading designer in our future home!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Cafe Boulud

My husband and I are on a restaurant week streak! This time around, we tried Cafe Boulud for lunch. Aside from the mostly senior citizen crowd, it was fantastic.

This is one of the few instances that I don't have photos to share from my meal. My husband didn't want me to take any pictures since the restaurant is a classy joint.

I had the Crispy Tiger Prawns to start, which was served with pineapple, cilantro, pickled jalapeño and Thai eggplant purée.
At first, I was worried at the amount of red onion I saw on my plate, but it was just the perfect amount! I didn't taste anything Thai with the eggplant, but I loved the combination of the saltiness of the eggplant and the sweetness of the pineapple.

Then came my Pan Seared Cod, served with mustard greens, caramelized onions, rustic potatoes and garlic-herb beurre blanc. There was no shortage of butter in this dish! The cod was hot off the pan and perfectly cooked (total opposite of what I had at Spice Market). I knew it was perfect when the meat bounced back a bit when I poked it with my fork. I loved the delicate texture of the fish combined with the crunchiness of the potatoes, which by the way, tasted like yummy home fries. The only problem I had with the dish was the over-saltiness of the mustard greens.

Meanwhile, my husband had the
Grilled Hanger Steak, served with wild mushroom polenta, green asparagus sauce béarnaise. He said it was perfectly cooked to his taste (medium), and the meat was very tender.

For dessert, I had the Chocolate Hazelnut Cake with praline ice cream. It was so rich in hazelnut that you can't mistaken the taste for anything else. My husband had the Vanilla Crème Brulée, served with poached raspberry, lady finger raspberry sorbet. I have never tasted such a light and delicate (but rich) creme brulee ever!

Run, don't walk to Cafe Boulud!

Friday, July 24, 2009

"Over"Spice"d" Market

I've had Spice Market on my radar for a long time, but never got around to it. So when restaurant week came around, my husband and I took the opportunity to cross it off my to-do list. We tried out the restaurant for lunch to make it wallet friendly. While the decor of the restaurant was stunning, I was disappointed that neither the food nor the service matched the decor. Of the 4 dishes we tried, I thought only 1 was a winner.

Since my husband and I started house hunting (I am potentially saying goodbye to NY and hello to CT), I've been paying a lot of attention to home decor. I could not get over the chairs at Spice Market! I especially loved how the distressed wood displayed within the restaurant was combined with modern chairs. I was snapping pictures of the place like a tourist!

Check out the distressed wood!

And then there was the food...We started off with the very well-stuffed Chicken Samosas and Shave Tuna. I was glad to find that they did not skimp on the Samosa filling at all. It was nicely spiced and was served with a cooling cilantro yogurt. I only wished they arrived piping hot. As for other appetizer, the tuna floated in a milky mixture of chili tapioca with Asian pear and lime, which I thought drowned out the flavor of the fish.

Shaved Tuna appetizer

Then came our main courses of Striped Bass with Wok Fried Napa Cabbage, Waterchestnut and Cucumber, and Cod with Malaysian Chili Sauce Thai Basil. The sauces in both dishes overpowered the delicate flavors of the fish - the vinegar in the former; and the pool of chili sauce in the latter. I thought the chili sauce was very tasty and packed a big punch, but there was simply too much sauce on my plate. On top of that, I thought the fish was just ok - it was only lukewarm and a bit overcooked.

Cod with Malaysian Chili Sauce Thai Basil

Fortunately, the desserts were much better than our main courses. My Thai Jewels and Fruits with Crushed Coconut Ice was, unlike the flavors we had in our main course, delicate.
It had slices of papaya, among other fruits, with chewy jelly pieces and half melted & fragrant coconut ice. It was a somewhat familiar dessert to me since it was similar to some Chinese desserts, but could be strange for others due to the fruit, chewy jelly and coconut juice combination. My husband had the passionfruit sorbet inventively served (and most definitely frozen) in a cute little Chinese takeout container. It had just the right amount of sweet and tartness.

Thai Jewels and Fruits with Crushed Coconut Ice

Most customers would assume that a restaurant would put some of their best dishes on their restaurant week menu to draw repeat customers, so I was surprised to find that only 1 dish was good. As for service, our appetizers did not arrive at the same time (I had to wait an extra 5 minutes at least for them to catch my tuna and "shave" it), and our server took my husband's main course order wrong. Based on my experience, I would not return to Spice Market again. If I do, perhaps I'll stick to their non-fish dishes that can better withstand the punch of their spices.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wedding Wednesdays: Not So Traditional Greek Eats

My husband and I love eating local food when we travel, both traditional and non-traditional. We had the most non-traditional Greek eats in Santorini, one of our honeymoon stops in Greece. We had some of the most inventive presentations and flavors while staying there. I don't eat much Greek food in the States, and have never had New-Greek food, so I was pleasantly surprised by our meals there.

Here are some of the more inventive ones we had in Santorini:

  • Octopus Carpaccio with Smoked White Eggplant Salad - Isn't the representation just stunning? Thinly sliced octopus tentacles rested on top of a dome-shaped bed of white eggplant, which is native to the island. The tough texture common in octopus was changed by thinly slicing it. The dish was tangy (a bit tangy for my husband), smoky and fresh, a perfect appetizer.

Selene's Octopus Carpaccio

  • Sea Urchin Salad - Sea Urchin on grilled artichoke with fava cream and scallops with lemon foam. The dish was not "hit you over the head wow", but it was very nice.

Selene's Sea Urchin Salad

  • Greek (or Santorini - forgot) Spiced Red Mullet with Sweet Olives and Bloody Mary Sorbet. I've never had sweet olives before. I must say, it was quite good! Overall though, the dish was just okay.

Restaurant 1800's Red Mullet

If you find yourself in Santorini, I'd recommend Selene in Fira. We liked 4 out of 5 dishes we had - not bad odds huh. Just don't order the Monkfish and Langoustine with Traditional Pasta - while it was tasty, the Langoustine was clearly not fresh. BUT I was willing to overlook that dish based on the incredible view and delicious dessert (cheese on puff pastry with sweet capers and sweet tomato).

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Egg Custard

I've been dreaming about egg custards since my trip last year to Macau. They are made from a mixture of eggs & sugar and baked in flaky pastry shells. Egg custards originated from Portugal, but that version is a lot more dense and sweeter than the ones I love from Macau. My cousins brought me to the most famous bakery in Macau that is known for their outstanding egg custards. Just look at their inventory of fresh baked goods!

The egg custards I had from Macau arrived to my table piping hot. The custard was so smooth, a perfect contrast to the slightly crunchy and flaky pastry cup that it delicately sat in.

There are also other flavors than the plain version; the bakery I went to had swallow's nest, which is a Chinese delicacy. Eating swallow's nest is supposed to be good for your skin. It was good, but I still prefer the plain version better.

It was so piping hot out of the oven that the custard was flowing like lava!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wedding Wednesdays: Traditional Greek Eats

Surprisingly, I didn't eat as much as I had expected on our honeymoon in Greece. With all the exploring and airport delays, we didn't have much time. We typically had big breakfasts, light afternoon snacks and traditionally late Greek dinners. The late dinners totally ruined my normal diet - I basically went to bed with a full stomach.

You really can't go wrong in Greece with food. We went to some random restaurants in Greece, and didn't have any inedible food. There may be some unmemorable dishes, but we had some generally good food. You name it, we had it in Greece:

  • Souvlaki - Almost always served with french fries. I had a perfectly done Chicken Souvlaki in Santorini; it wasn't overcooked and was quite tasty.

  • Gyro - I've never had a gyro with french fries inside before. It is always served with french fries inside if you ask for everything in Greece. The one I had in Mykonos (where everything is expensive) was tasty and surprisingly reasonably priced.

  • Greek Yogurt - I will never go back to the yogurt in the States! Greek yogurt is thicker, tangy and so rich in milk taste. I simply drizzled it with honey and loved every spoon of it for breakfast. I'll leave out descriptions on its fat content.

  • Stuffed Vine Leaves - I've always had it cold with mushy rice inside, but had a warm version in Athens served with a yogurt dill sauce which I loved loved loved! The rice wasn't mushy at all, and it was wonderfully fragrant with the use of dill.

  • Eggplant Dip - They really love their eggplant. This one I had in Athens was tasty but was very garlicky though.

  • Spinach Pie - Very fragrant with the use of herbs. I only wished the crust was thicker.

  • Taramosalata (carp roe dip) - It wasn't overly salty like the one I had from Snack in NYC. I really enjoyed this one I had in Santorini.

Surprisingly, a lot of seafood is frozen (vs. fresh) in Greece. Most restaurants would note the items that have been frozen on their menu; they're mostly octopus and prawns. This is probably because it's rather hot in Greece. If you're dining by the water though, you can have their fresh catches.

All in all, I didn't have one bad meal in Greece. My husband said though that there was no difference between Greek food in Greece vs. that in the States. I haven't had enough Greek food in the States to attest to that, but from what I've had so far in the States, I can agree.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Shrimp Dumplings

I had some delicious shrimp dumplings at 賓 in Chinatown NYC (sorry I don't have its name in English). Doesn't this make your mouth water?

It was pan fried for a crispy exterior. Your mouth simply waters when you hit the flavorful, warm shrimp and chives filling. It was so delicious that I tried to replicate it at home.

My version didn't look all that bad, did it? I made a batch of at least a dozen, and my husband finished them all within a week!

I followed one of Ming Tsai's recipes for these dumplings, but had to make some changes because I found the filling to be (surprisingly) flavorless. His recipe needed more chives and soy sauce. I'll share it with you when I can get to my cooking book in one of my husband's moving boxes.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Wagamama (Round II)

My husband (I was going to say fiance!) and I stopped by the Prudential Center before he moved out of Boston and we were quite surprised to find a new Wagamama there. I'd rather go to this location vs. their Faneuil one. This new location has so much more room, better lighting, and was closer to his apartment (and Anthropologie!).

I ordered my favorite Seafood Ramen again. I simply love the combination of seafood in there: shrimp, salmon, baramundi and squid. It is tasty and quite a value compared to other places that charge a similar price for soup noodles.

My husband ordered the Ebi Kare Lomen, which is a spicy soup noodle with lemongrass, coconut milk, shrimp and chicken. It was average; I felt the soup needed some more cooking time for the flavors to blend - it had that soup made from powder texture.

You may come out of the place smelling like food (they have an open kitchen), but I would go back any time to try out other items on their menu.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wedding Wednesdays: Look What I Had at My Shower!

My sister throw me a surprise bridal shower the week before our wedding (thanks sis!). She totally read my mind in terms of sweets - look at the goodies she got from Payard! There were financiers, madeleines, and other yummy French baked goods.

Those were the left overs. She also got a box of macarons from the Macaron Cafe. Sorry, I ate them all before I could take a photo of them. They were good!!! I was surprised I didn't hunt down macarons from the Macaron Cafe in my macaron search. I'll write a review some time in the future.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Egg Rolls

I'm not talking about the Egg Rolls that you order in most Chinese American Restaurants. I'm talking about those really made out of eggs. They're made into rolls, and thus the name egg roll. Egg rolls are sweet and crumble like cookies when you bite into them.

My favorite by far is the Duck Shing Ho brand from Hong Kong. They offer two kinds of flavors: original and coconut. The coconut is the one to try. The aroma is incredible and not overpowering.

Duck Shing Ho's egg rolls are rich, delicate, perfectly crunchy and airy at the same time. They export out of Hong Kong, but I have yet to see them in the States. Can you see the goodness I'm talking about?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wedding Wednesdays: DIY for the Flower Girls

I was inspired by Martha Stewart's DIY for a floral headpiece I saw in a magazine when I thought about starting this project. Although her project was much more simple (she just strung together fresh hyacinth), I do want to thank Martha for the inspiration!

I had a vision when I started the project, but had no idea on exactly what to do. I bought some supplies I thought I needed, and used some I had already. I used the basic sewing skills I already had and made the rules as I went along because some ideas worked while others didn't. After making several prototypes, I am now pretty happy with the results. Here are the steps:


silk flowers (six bunches should do; make sure the petals are at most 1.5in wide)

stretch magic bead & jewelry cord (5 meters, 1 mm.)
beads & pearls (various sizes)
crazy glue or glue gun
thread & needle


I brought home the silk flowers in bunches like below and plucked out the petals.

They were very one dimensional, so I sewed each petal to make it less flat. Working on the petal's back, I pinched the petal in the middle and sew one spot together.

Pull the thread tight and tie a knot in the back to make the shape stay. Below is what it should look like after. You may need to repeat the steps on the same petal; it depends on if you did it right on the first try. Using the same thread (without cutting it, so they're all sewed together), repeat the same steps with the next 3-4 petals.

After 3-4 petals, this is what you should end up with. Cut off the thread after the last knot (double knot to be safe) and you're done with one flower.

I made a whole bunch of these enough for a headpiece and 2 bracelets.

Then comes the easy part. All you have to do now is figure out a design you like with the beads and pearls, string them on, and sew the petal onto the cord. Tie a knot where it ends, and crazy glue them to secure them.