Retirement gift – delicious trip to Montreal! 

I still remember our trip to Montreal and Quebec City very vividly…! That was such a treat so my husband and I decided to plan a delicious trip there for our parents this time. We all deserve to spoil ourselves after retirement! 


The retirement gift package included: tourist guide and map (available here), a gift certificate to Schwartz’s Deli, a gift certificate to St-Viateur Bagel, and a hotel voucher to Omni Mont-Royal

Special thanks to the restaurants and the hotel for their great hospitality! Merci beaucoup!

Hope the folks enjoy Montreal as much as we did! To all those who worked hard all their lives and have retired, cheers! 

Asparagus meets pseudo-bulgogi!

Got some leftover ground beef? Make this asparagus wrapped in bulgogi marinade ground beef! Bulgogi is usually made with think slices of beef ribeye or briskets but who says you can’t use the marinade for ground beef?! 😬

You can bake it in the oven (375F / 15-20 minutes) or simply cook it on a pan with some oil. 

For 0.5lbs of ground beef: 2 tbsp of soy sauce, 1 tbsp of sugar or molasses, 0.5 tbsp of sesame oil, 0.5 tbsp of mirin (optional), minced garlic, chopped onions, chopped jalapeños and some black pepper. 

That’s it! Super simple yet delicious! 

Hope you had a great Easter weekend! 

Convivial D.C. 

Going out for ethnic food in Northern Virginia is always awesome: super delicious and quite affordable. However, we all have one of those days we wanna treat ourselves in a fancier setting. That was last night. 

We went out to Convivial in DC to celebrate my birthday and my father-in-law’s retirement. You may not wanna walk in there in your shorts and flipflops but it is pretty laid back there. All the servers were wearing jeans! 

First, and our favorite dish: Arctic Char Lox. Rye crisp, horseradish & caraway coleslaw, “everything” aioli. What a brilliant twist to a great food concept! It actually tastes better than it looks (and yes, that’s possible!). 

Zucchini Roulade. Tomato, goat cheese, sumac, pine nuts. Good thing I took a quick snap of this beautiful dish because there is no pretty way to cut this roulade😂 The pleasant, subtle goat cheese flavor in this cold dish was just perfect. 

Bouillabaisse. Blue catfish, clam, mussel, prawn, crab, squid, daurade, octopus. I know it can be quite intimidating if you are not used to certain seafood items in that broth. However, I think everyone should try this. The broth had this super creamy texture and the fresh seafood was perfectly cooked. Say no to overcooked, chewy squid! 

Grilled Daurade. Sautéed squid, celeriac mousseline. Daurade (European sea bream) may not sound quite familiar to you. I think a lot of Asian countries use this fish too. I know that it’s considered a very expensive kind in Korea😉 Absolutely delicious! 

And, of course, desserts! No meal is complete without desserts!

They serve French-American food in smaller portions like tapas. It’s perfect for me because I love to try many different dishes! And more importantly, EVERY SINGLE THING WAS JUST FANTABULOUS! It almost reminded me of Rose’s Luxury in a way- small delicious dishes to share with everyone. 

Their service is top-notch too. A new set of silverware is provided in a timely manner for every course. Serving spoons/forks are set aside as well in case you need them to share food. 

Even though it’s in a busy part of DC, you are not on top of each other like other well-known, hot restaurants in the city. I wouldn’t say that it’s serene but you can have a normal conversation with people in your party without other people running into you every 5 minutes. 
This weekend, we definitely well treated ourselves. Now, I’m ready for some baseball! 

Nasime Japanese Restaurant – Old Town, Alexandria, VA

I won’t beat around the bush. One of the best Japanese restaurants I’ve ever been to in the States. Just go to Nasime and get fed, if you love good food, if you’d rather pay a little more for better quality food than go to an all-you-can-eat restaurant and eat lots of meh food, if you are somewhat into Japanese food, and if raw fish doesn’t scare you!

Make a reservation. The chef, Yuh Shimomura, prepares food from scratch and he will satisfy your palate with a five course menu, which changes on a daily basis. You don’t choose what to eat; you eat what’s given to you: omakase

Today’s first course: fried Chilean seabass with clam sauce. The fish was cooked perfectly – nice and juicy. The clam sauce, which, by the way, I had never tasted anywhere before, added just the right amount of saltiness to this beautiful dish. 
Today’s second course: otsukuri (sashimi). No frills; just fresh fish nicely cut and served. Boston mackerel was my favorite. Even if you are just used to eating raw fish on a thing of rice and this “just the fish” sashimi dish intimidates you, please give it a try. With just a little bit of soy sauce and wasabi, you can totally appreciate different flavors of different fish! Yum❤️ 

Today’s third course: pork tenderloin with soy ginger sauce and root vegetables. Pork, soy ginger and root vegetables – it sounds like a typical dish any Asian restaurant would have. That’s why it stood out more, IMO. Feel the difference!

Today’s fourth course: fresh bamboo shoot okowa. Okowa is a sticky rice dish mixed and cooked with other ingredients. Uni (sea urchin) and fish roe over rice may sound too exotic, I know. What the heck is sea urchin anyway, right? 😉 This combination of creaminess, stickiness, briny ocean taste with that fish eggs popping in your mouth…. Mmmmm…. The green garnish on top is called shiso, which has a very refreshing, distinct aroma. 

The last course: sesame and kinako ice cream! Kinako is roasted soybean flour, which you may have seen sprinkled on top of mochi. Hubby and I both agree that it’s the best ice cream that we’ve ever had! Pure foodgasm..!! Ground black sesame seeds gave this ice cream the out-of-this-world taste and texture. Gosh, I wish I could’ve bought 10 gallons of it on the way out!

All in all, it was worth every penny. I can’t wait to go back and see what the chef has to offer next time! 

Happy Valentine’s Day💕

Getting my winter baking fix!

Once in a blue moon, I feel like baking. It might have been the snow on the ground, the cold crisp air or just me wanting some sweets but feeling too lazy to go get them. 

I googled simple brownie recipes and bam! Here they are all ready for my Sunday evening. And this actually is my favorite brownie recipe so far. Now time to devour while watching the golden globe awards!

Cheers to delicious winter! 

Recipe here!

Holiday cookie exchange 2016!

‘Tis the season! I am just coming back home from delivering cookies to our neighbors!

Baking isn’t my forte or my cup of tea at all, but baking for other people once a year is doable (well, with A LOT OF help from the hubby).

For the neighborhood cookie exchange, we baked two kinds of cookies. Got ideas and recipes from the Food  Network magazine.


These tiramisu sandwich cookies were the bomb! Well, they could have been a little more moist but they tasted delish. I mean, how bad can they be when they have cocoa, espresso, vanilla, mascarpone cheese, cream cheese, Kahlua, butter, butter, more butter, sugar, sugar and SUGAR! 😉


Then, hubby’s choice: peanut butter crinkles! These are firm on the outside and gooey inside…. Heaven in my mouth!

I gotta say, though. Every time I bake something, I keep thinking, “this much sugar?” 😂 These peanut butter cookies had brown sugar, granulated sugar and powdered sugar (lots of it😱). Oh well, not now then when, right?

It’s been so hectic. Now I’m ready to sit back and enjoy some Christmas music. Happy holidays!!

Food scene in October in Southern Maryland!

When that Indian summer weather hits NOVA, it’s time to head down to Southern Maryland! Now that I’ve lived in the area for about 5 years, I do have favorite events to attend. Here are two fun food-related events in Southern Maryland that you can take your loved ones to.

<U.S. Oyster Festival / National Oyster Shucking Championships>

kakaotalk_20161030_174624566

  • When: 3rd weekend of October (Saturday: 10am-6pm / Sunday: 11am-6pm)
  • Where: St. Mary’s County Fair (42455 Fairgrounds Rd, Leonardtown, MD 20650)
  • Admission: $7/person (kids under 12 are free), food is pay as you eat
  • Website: http://usoysterfest.com/

I was introduced to this awesome oyster festival thanks to a couple of friends last year. This year, they celebrated their 50th anniversary! Everything you can think of (when it comes to oysters) is there: raw oysters, fried oysters, grilled oysters, steamed oysters, oyster po’boys, oyster tacos, oyster stew… You name it. A dozen of raw oysters were $18, FYI.

kakaotalk_20161030_174627641kakaotalk_20161030_174628972kakaotalk_20161030_174631029kakaotalk_20161030_174634195

There is a barn where the oyster cook-off takes place. Sit there and watch the chefs show off their skills. You may get lucky enough to sample their final products if the timing’s right. I got to taste the oyster Benedict and this amazinglicious soup at the end!

kakaotalk_20161030_175741609kakaotalk_20161030_175743675

When you see the King Oyster greeting people, you know it’s time for the oyster shucking championship rounds!

KakaoTalk_20161030_174635628.jpg

Go get those freshly-made mini donuts with extra strawberry icing on the side and watch the experts compete! By the way, it truly IS a national championship. The winner of this national round complete in the international oyster shucking championship!

kakaotalk_20161030_174636959kakaotalk_20161030_174642183

You don’t do oysters or you are scared of eating raw food? Don’t worry. They have other food options including  the stuffed ham sandwich or fried Oreos!

The bottomless soda guy is amazing too! You get a mug and you can fill it all day long.

kakaotalk_20161030_174632863

Mark it on your calendar for 2017 and drive down to Southern Maryland with the whole family!

kakaotalk_20161030_174626310

 

<Harvest Taste of Solomons>

  • When: 11am-4pm on a Saturday in October (This year, it was on October 22, 2016.)
  • Where: Solomons Island
  • Admission: no admission; $4 ticket gets you a food or drink sample at a participating restaurant
  • Website: they need one!

My father-in-law came down from Upstate New York to visit us and we needed a last-minute entertainment option. I googled local food festivals for the weekend and ta-da! This small yet fun food festival popped up. We drove back down to Southern Maryland.

As you can see in the map, most restaurants are gathered in the southern part of the island. You can park the car in the parking lot there and hit the restaurants one by one. We didn’t buy any tickets in advance but paid as we went.

KakaoTalk_20161030_174644131.jpgCrabby tater tots topped with crab dip at the Lighthouse Restaurant & Dock Bar

kakaotalk_20161030_174645355“Half & half” soup: Maryland crab soup + cream of crab in a bowl at the Lighthouse Restaurant & Dock Bar

KakaoTalk_20161030_174649348.jpgSmoked spare ribs at Grill Sergeant

kakaotalk_20161030_174650688Oyster Rockefeller at the Charles Street Brasserie

KakaoTalk_20161030_174651913.jpgBacon wrapped dates at the Charles Street Brasserie

kakaotalk_20161030_174653241Seafood platter at Captain Smith’s

Some of the drinks looked delish too! Wished I was more of a drinker. Oh well, I get to drive drunk people back home.

So, if you are itching for some delicious day trip in October, head down south and go to town! Happy Fall! Happy Halloween!

Summer Vacay 2016 – NY/VT/RI

I was away for a week and just got back home..! This vacation was, of course, amazinglicious as usual! LOTS OF FOOD every single day. 

It started with awesome BBQ at the annual family picnic in upstate NY. People bring not only sausages and burgers but also homemade desserts too. It’s one of the events that I most look forward to every year!
Then, there are meals prepared by Jo, who is better than any other chef!l that I know!😁👍 Her homemade food is out of this world. Pretty much everything is made from scratch! Don’t know how she does it every time. Her buckwheat crepes were a bit hit this year! 
During the visit to NY, we took a day trip to Burlington, VT. YES, when in Vermont, do what everyone else does: Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Too bad that we didn’t have time for the factory tour. Oh well, next time.  
After we left NY, we went to Rhode Island. Real vacation started there! Seafood, seafood and more seafood!❤️
Among all the great food options, these 3 particular spots were my personal favorites. 

1. Matunuck Oyster Bar, South Kingstown, RI – Great location, awesome service and delicious lobster rolls!

2. Wharf Pub & Restaurant, Newport, RI – Super friendly staff, GREAT food and fun drinks! This was by far the best restaurant (food and atmosphere wise) in Newport. Sit at the bar and make some friends!

3. Del’s Lemonade – THE. FROZEN. LEMONADE. OMG. We went to Block Island for another day trip. After biking for a couple of hours, the frozen lemonade just hit the spot. Refreshing, yet not too sweet, the lemonade even had bits of lemon in it! Gonna miss this one a lot I think. 

Yes, the trip was so much fun and delish! However, I can’t deny that I’m so glad to be back home snuggling with my kitties! 

Summer is almost over but it isn’t yet! Time for some more fun back in NOVA/DC! Happy summer☀️☀️☀️

P. S. When in Newport, don’t forget to check out the Bit Players at the Firehouse Theater! Great improv comedy shows on Fridays and Saturdays! Many of the people in the audience seemed to be locals. Apparently, Newport locals hate the construction of Broadway, which is a street a little off the main drag. It’s where things are happening these days! 

Rose’s Luxury – the hype, expectations & satisfaction!

The phrase “the best restaurant in DC” usually triggers my sarcasm. Rose’s Luxury had been on my radar for a while but I wasn’t in a hurry. If it’s that good, it will stick around for years, right? 😉

Then, a friend of mine recently has decided to move to San Diego. The farewell meal of her choice was……..! Yes, Rose’s Luxury! So it happened tonight!

Rose’s Luxury: 717 8th Street SE, Washington, DC, 20003 | (202)580-8889

 The restaurant opens at 5pm. By the time she got there (at 4ish), the line was already this long. But don’t let that intimidate you! More than half of the people are there in line to reserve a spot for a later time. We got seated as soon as the door opened even though there were 50+ other people ahead of us!

  The whole staff and servers greeted us with big smiles. The moment we walked in, we felt at home. 

 Like many other restaurants in DC, the space is rather tight. However, every table has this little secret place for your drink menu (or whatever) you might wanna hold on to all night! It’s a nice touch. 

So, the food. 

  Potato brioche and butter with crispy onion bits and chives. I normally don’t fill up with dinner rolls. Man, this bread was from another world! It was nice and warm. We just killed this soft, delicious loaf in 2 seconds. I almost wanted to ask for another one to eat and another to go but I decided to behave myself….. THIS TIME. 

  Their signature dish: pork sausage, habanero, peanuts and lychee salad. We didn’t know what to expect when we ordered this dish. My friend is a pescaterian so she ordered the vegetarian version with veggie sausages. The saltiness from the sausages, the sweetness from lychee, the tangy flavor from the dressing, the spiciness from red onions, the aroma from the herbs plus peanuts and thin, toasted garlic! All those flavors were nicely put tougher without clashing with each other. Surprisingly, I actually LOVED the vegetarian version as well. It was milder. If you are not a big fan of strong herby tastes (of sausages), the vegetarian version will give you the ultimate satisfaction!

  Charred carrots with harrisa, housemade yogurt and pearl onions. The combination of the yogurt and the spicy red sauce went really well with charred veggies. Gosh, I love pearl onions! Btw, every time I say onions, I can’t stop hearing Mr. Raftery in my head haha. #NCAA #MarchMadness 😁🏀

  
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm…. Spaghetti with spring pistou, jalapeño and blue crab. Even if you are terrified with anything green, you should try this dish. Their pasta is supposed to be really well made. The noodles were cooked perfectly. The sauce was seasoned just right. There was a good amount of crab meat. We kept saying that we could eat this all day every day. We were only half joking. 

  AND when we thought we were done, this special dish (on the house!) came out for no reason. What a nice surprise! White rice with risotto-like texture topped with seasoned beans! Not sure how they made this rice so creamy without using any cream or milk! Or did they..?! 😛 I loved the perfect harmony of saltiness and sweetness!
  No meal ends without desserts! Warm chocolate mousse, toasted brioche and rose ice cream. Yes, pure foodgasm it was. 
  Then, a more classic choice. Rhubarb tart, strawberries and black pepper whipped cream. When we thought that we were done eating, we had a little taste of this tart. Like we hadn’t been eating, we started to stuff our faces again. I think, at one point, the two couples next to us kind of looked at us with judging eyes. Lol
I’ve read reviews about this place. Some aren’t nice. The wait is too long. The portions are small. It’s expensive. They don’t take reservations. And all of these are somewhat true. Some super duper famous restaurants have let me down for sure. However, to me, it was well worth it. The hype met my expectations today. 

The menu is simple. They give you familiar food choices; yet, they mix and match flavors that we are used to and give you a little surprise on your palate. 

  

I wouldn’t come here every day but it’s definitely a destination. I even asked them about private dining options! 

Farewell to my good friend, C!! Hope she finds all the good restaurants in San Diego by the time I visit her! Can’t wait!

Happy weekend!

Christmas 2015 in New York!

This Christmas weekend has been so amazinglicious! It’s always great to have an awesome cook or two in your family. Between going out to some cool restaurants in upstate New York and Jo’s unbelievable cooking talent, I’m still in food coma. I’m really amazed how someone can cook everything so perfectly all from scratch! Jealous!

Here’s a little footage of my scrumptious weekend!  

    
     

    
    
    
    
   
   
This was my first year to go up to NY on a train too. The train station in Alexandria is conveniently located. Train ride took about 7-8 hours, which would’ve been the same if we had driven. However, by riding the train, we didn’t need to worry about the weather, traffic, etc. 

It was really good to see everyone and spend some quality time together. However, it’s also great to snuggle with my kitties while having some ramen noodles back home.   

 

Merry belated Christmas and a happy new year! ❤️