Sunday, June 30, 2013

Home-made Veggie Chili

Dan made vegetarian chili using soy chorizo and fake ground beef (also made of soy.)  Plus usual black beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, beer, onions, and jalapeno peppers.  Everything tasted as good as meat chili and actually tasted like meat.  I think I could get used to eating less meat when there are such great protein alternatives.

Home-made Veggie Breakfast Tacos - two ways

I made breakfast tacos (once for dinner, once for breakfast) using meat substitutes.  Both times they were pretty tasty though preferred the soy chorizo tacos vs. veggie sausage patties.  The latter were a little dry, though a nice substitute.  I parboiled potatoes, chopped them up then sauteed.  Then cooked the meat, scrambled the eggs with them, then added potatoes and cheese.  Then put everything atop corn tortillas for some delicious veggie breakfast tacos.
Skilled filled with egg, potato, soy chorizo, and cheese scramble

Full taco with avocado slices

Taco #2: egg, veggie sausage, potato and cheese

Home-made veggie spaghetti

Made spaghetti with kale, mushrooms, and soy chorizo.  I am really loving soy chorizo.  It tastes a LOT like real chorizo because of all the spices, and does not gross me out like normal ground meat.  Adds a nice kick to regular pasta and fills you up just like meat, plus tons of protein.  Amazing find from Trader Joe's.

Home-made veggie massaman curry

Made massaman curry but without meat, and it was pretty amazing.  Instead of meat used potatoes, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, and cauliflower.  All served over jasmine rice.  Curry is one of the few dishes where I really don't miss meat because there's so much flavor in the sauce.

Brunch at The Sixth Ward in NYC

Sejal, Debbie and I hit up the East Ward on the LES for brunch.  I think they possibly have the best brunch deal in the city - 2 hours unlimited bloody mary's or mimosas + any brunch entree.  Again eating veggie I ordered their home-made veggie burger with sweet potato fries.  Served with chipotle mayo.  Pretty damn tasty, probably because the patty seemed deep fried or at least very crisp/crunchy.  The service was ehhh but the place was pretty cool.  Inside was a typical bar and then there was a pool table in a separate room then huge outdoor backyard with a movie screen.  Seemed very biergarten-esque, but weird to be located where it was.

Dinner at La Lucha in NYC

Nicole and I went to La Lucha on Avenue A for some tacos since I was still eating vegetarian.  The whole restaurant was pretty small but had very good reviews, and had an interesting theme - Mexican wrestling, hence the name La Lucha.  All my veggie tacos were okay but had way too much onion, and in my opinion less tasty than the veggie mushroom and pepper tacos I made a few days prior.  Nicole also seemed to have an ehhh opinion of the meat tacos she got.  Pretty cheap or the city but not as good as Taqueria or really very memorable at all.  Cute theme/decor though.

Villano - grilled corn. with chipotle mayo and cotija cheese

(L to R) Mano Negra - mushrooms with fresh cheese, Grilled zucchini and corn tacos, Matematico - chile poblano with cheese

Pork and steak tacos

The bill in a wrestling ring and wrestling mask

Monday, June 24, 2013

Dinner at Razza Pizza Artigianale in Jersey City, NJ

So this is my third post on Razza, highlighting my third trip.  Each and everytime the food just gets better and better.  Dan and I both agreed that this was probably the BEST meal we've had in Jersey City.  Possibly one of our top meals ever.  Everything is so well done, the ingredients are so fresh, and just works perfectly.  Even the drinks and super secret dessert.  We almost didn't want to tell people because the food is so good, but Razza is probably the best restaurant in JC currently.  Everyone should go and it should be packed every night!  Fortunately for us it was not haha but soooo worth it. 
Pikeland Pils beer and Vanilla Coke (plantain rum, vanilla, bitters, and Coke.  GET THIS.  Dan fought me for it)

Ceci - chickpeas in extra virgin olive oil and parmigiano reggiano.  A repeat from last time because it was so damn good.  Who knew chickpeas could be this good??

Polpette al forno a.k.a. fire-roasted meatballs.  Beef meatballs in delicious red sauce

More oblong shape than round

Cinghiale - tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, wild boar sausage and NJ kale.  The pizza of our dreams thanks to ThirtyAcres' instagramming this a few weeks ago.  So happy it's on the menu!  So delicious and sooo much better than traditional pepperoni.  The kale also adds something special.  Bonus - we kept the leftover red sauce from the meatballs and used to dip the crusts.  Genius.

Crepe cake with chocolate and creme fraiche and raspberries.  Apparently there were only two slices of this left and the waitress sneakily told us about it because there were lots of other patrons.  This was probably one of the best desserts I've ever eaten IN MY LIFE. SO GOOD.  Like 10 layers of crepe with chocolate and creme fraiche dripping all over and inside.  It was INSANE.  I don't know if they're going to have this on the menu ever again, but I will pay to have the pastry chef make me some ha

Home-made Vegetarian Tacos

Another night of meat-free eating with tacos.  Decided instead of meat to use mushrooms and peppers as the protein base, and used chipotle seasoning on them.  Then I made a corn and tomato salsa with cilantro and lime juice, chopped some avocado, and used this awesome chipotle spiced refried beans.  Then of course heat up some corn tortillas.  Delicious and the best veggie tacos I've had, if i do say so myself haha.

All the components separately

Whole taco

Another shot

Home-made Tofu, Kale & Mushroom stir-fry with quinoa and brown rice

As the kick-off for the week of no-meat-week, decided to stir-fry with Hoisin and soy sauce some tofu cubes with kale and mushrooms.  It was actually pretty tasty considering there was no meat.  For me I think they key is having lots of different textures so I'm not bored of eating the same thing.  Kale particularly works well because it's so crunchy; it's like a mini-work-out haha.  Plus the usual quinoa and brown rice base.  Not a bad start.

Dinner at Totto Ramen in NYC

Reunion dinner at Totto Ramen!  Somehow even though we got there at 4:30 and it opened at 4pm, we still had to wait nearly an hour.  WTF.  Everyone (myself included) really loved my miso ramen, in large part due to the egg.  Both Debbie and Nancy got spicy ramen, which was good but not quite as good as the miso.  I don't think anyone thought the wait was worth it, but I enjoyed my ramen as much if not more than Ippudo.  Of course we waited even longer at Ippudo, so maybe I'm biased because of that.  Still nothing compares to Hawaii.  Siiiigh.

Miso ramen - scoop of Koji miso and ground pork with seasoned hardboiled egg, scallion, bean sprouts, onion, and char siu pork.  Really tasty but not that much noodle

Spicy ramen - Original Rayu spicy sesame oil plus scallion, char siu pork, bean sprouts, and nori.

Dessert at Holy Creamery in NYC

Dan and I were going to go to Doughnut Plant after Hanjan but OMG they ran out of doughnuts!  WTF!  I mean I know it was late and almost closing time but STILL.  Usually bakeries have leftovers at the end of the day that they either sell for cheap, give away, or donate.  So instead we went to Holy Creamery in Hell's Kitchen.  I got pistachio ice cream, which was pretty amazing and one of my top pistachio ice creams ever.  Dan got a design-your-own donut.  So wrong.

Pistachio ice cream

Donut with vanilla icing, peanut butter pieces, and chocolate

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Dinner at Hanjan in NYC

I really am loving Korean food.  My second favorite Asian cuisine after Filipino.  Hanjan is pretty new; opened in December I think.  It's owned by the same guy who owns Danji, which is Michelin rated as I noted in a previous review.  The inside was similar to Danji but it was a little more spacious.  Everything we had was well prepared and had nice flavors, but still didn't top the bo ssam we had at Danji.  The "freshly killed chicken" was amazing though ha.  Like a combo of Dinosaur BBQ chicken wings and Filipino marinated chicken.

Scallion pancake with local squid - tasty but like 90% scallions, 10% squid.  Don't be so stingy with your squid

Freshly killed chicken wings with soy-sake marinade, pickled radish and pickled jalapeno.  By fresh, I think it means they killed the chicken that morning.  Apparently that makes a difference

Spicy pork belly skewers on top (plus lettuce not pictured) and BBQ galbi skewers.  Both tasty but I think not so memorable.  I thought the pork skewers would be like Danji but not as good.  Also way spicier than I thought.

Radish kimchi and brisket fried rice with fried egg.  So delicious!  That brisket was super flavorful and added a lot to the rice.  We were pretty full by this point though

Dinner at Franchia in NYC; Dessert at Pinkberry

Risheen and I went to Franchia Vegan/Vegetarian Restaurant in New York because I told her I felt like something healthy.  Everything was pretty tasty but at the end of the meal I didn't quite feel full.  But def a nice change of pace.  Also the pancakes were amazing.  Even without meat.

Combination Pancakes (clockwise from top left) - Scallion, Spicy Kimchi and Sweet Corn Cilantro.  They were all pretty tasty since they were fried ha, but the sweet corn were my fav

Bibimbap stone bowl with Hainan Seitan Chicken

Avocado and tofu bibimbap stone bowl

I hadn't been to Pinkberry in years after my first bad experience.  I just don't like tangy yogurt so getting original flavor was a bad idea.  But this time I got chocolate which was great b/c just tasted like ice cream.  Plus all the fun toppings ha

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Dessert at Ghiardelli Factory in San Francisco, CA

When we went to the Ghiardelli Factory at Ghiardelli Square along Fisherman's Wharf, the lines were so crazy that we refused to wait for ice cream.  Fortunately there was a store/ice cream shop right by the hotel with no wait at all!  I don't think we realized how rich everything would be though, because Dan barely got through his Caramel Quake and while I made a valiant attempt at my ice cream, I couldn't finish.

Caramel Quake - no idea what was in this.  I call it liquid heart attack.  It was soooo sweet.  Dan prob got through like 1/15 of this haha

SINGLE scoop of cookies and cream on a chocolate dipped w/almonds cone.  Why did I get that cone?  I don't know but it was a mistake.  I made it through a lot of the ice cream though but then felt like I was high on something afterwards.  It was weird and not something I'd like to happen again ha

Breakfast at Caramba in San Francisco, CA

Apparently there is good Mexican food outside of the Mission District, and one of those places was a 4 minute walk from the hotel.  A breakfast burrito for under $5.  Tech $2.85 without the addition of potatoes and cheese, but we had to have potatoes and cheese.  We got chorizo, egg, potatoes, and cheese and it was amazing.  Better than the makeshift one I made at Dotties, and not so big that we were comatose after.   Should I make a lame Aye-Carumba joke?  I won't, but kind of just did anyway ha.

Dinner at Ajisen Ramen in San Francisco, CA

Dan was feeling kind of sick so we decided to get ramen.  Not at some fancy place but in the mall food court haha.  Still, it was pretty good.  And nothing has compared to the ramen we had in the Hawaiian food court, so we had expectations that it could be good.  Overall it was decent.  Not the best in the world but tasty and inexpensive.  Unfortunately we weren't too hungry though so couldn't get through most of it.

Lemon honey green tea

Spicy beef ramen

Corn BBQ pork ramen

Mixed up ramen so you can see the noodles.  The noodles were a little harder than they should be but the stuff inside was pretty good together

Burrito show-down: El Papalote v. El Farolito in San Francisco, CA

Dan and I finally went to the Mission District for our burrito taste-test.  Both restaurants were pretty crowded, and there were pros and cons to each.  First, El Papalote.  It was clearly very popular as there was a long line to order and even longer line to be seated.  We decided to take the burrito to go and ended up eating it outside on some steps.  A little pricer than El Farolito, but the filling was perfect.  The carne asada was as good as you can ask for, and everything else just tasted super fresh.  Next, El Farolito.  Cheaper but looked less clean in general.  Case in point - we sat down at the only empty table but was covered in the previous eaters' garbage and no one bussed the table the whole time we were there.  Ick.  Generally the place looked more authentic.  We were a little steak-ed out so we didn't do a true comparison but instead got a carnitas burrito.  Pretty taste but wanted more char to my meat.  It was good, but overall the winner for me would be El Papalote.

Carne Asada super burrito from El Papalote

Fuller body shot

Carnitas super burrito at El Farolito

Breakfast at La Boulange Bakery in San Francisco, CA

We wanted a "lighter" breakfast considering how full we were from Tadich Grill.  There was a cute French bakery chain we kept seeing and one super close to our hotel, so decided to go to La Boulange for some delicious croissants.  My fav pastry.  The food was actually pretty tasty for being a chain.  I prob equate it to Au Bon Pain but def better.  Also I really liked how they served fruit as the side.

Bacon, egg, cheese and tomato on a croissant.  Side of fruit salad and bowl of Americano ha

Chocolate hazelnut croissant

Delicious!  Good amount of filling and nice and buttery

Dinner at The Tadich Grill in San Francisco, CA

For some real seafood and to celebrate our anniversary, Dan and I went to The Tadich Grill, another Bourdain recommendation.  The restaraunt is very old school, with only old white men as waiters in white coats.  The place also doesn't take reservations, which I guess is egalitarian but can be unnerving.  Fortunately they had a large counter as well where you could eat, and in only 15 minutes or so we were seated.  The service was really great and all the food was dynamite.  Considerating there was no meat meat, we food coma-ed super hard afterwards.  Like could not move or do anything.  So glad we got to try real SF cioppino though.  The food was also reasonably priced, though Dan tipped veryy well because the service was so great.

Octopus Salad - giant portion of sliced up cooked octopus with ginger and other things that I can't remember.  Nice and light though a large portion.  Plus garlic bread, which was delicious

Chilean sea bass with a jumbo prawn in a lemon sauce, rice, and steamed veggies including brussel sprouts.  Very delicious and rich.  Fish was melt in your mouth

Seafood Cioppino with Garlic Bread - apparently the best cioppino in all of SF and I believe it.  Seafood stew with clams, prawns, scallops, bay shrimps, crabmeat, mussels, and white fish in a tomato based sauce.  So much seafood in there.

Another shot of the cioppino.  Also the garlic bread was amazing