This food lover’s biggest challenge!

*** Before I get started… No, I do not look like a super model now; I am not lifting 250lbs overhead; I definitely do not have six-pack abs. What I am about to get into is not about magic. It is about struggles, efforts, emotional roller-coasters, realistic results and my feelings. Everything here is from my very personal, subjective point of view, and obviously, not everyone will have the same experience or opinions. 

First of all, thank God for grape tomatoes

Here’s a little background about me. I am a food lover with all these random cravings, which have to be satisfied immediately. Food is (almost) everything to me. 80% of my social media contents are food pictures. I think of the next meal while I am eating. Eating food (of my choice at the time of my choice) is one of the biggest joys in my life. When I plan trips (domestic or international), the first thing I do is to pick out restaurants and food items; then everything else is between meals. Yes, it is an obsession.

I was born and raised in a country where all three meals (and some snacks) consist of mainly rice and noodles – the “scariest” word in the world these days, CARBS! I have always been “fat”, according to Korean standards, and I have always been self-conscious about my body. I still am.

I have been doing CrossFit for about three years now and I absolutely love it; the intense workout totally takes your mind off all the trouble/anxiety for an hour and cleanses your body and mind; it keeps you fit; you belong to a very tight community. One of the things that keep me going back to the gym is food, though. I will run an extra mile and do five more back squats just for that cheesecake sitting in my fridge. Working out is great; however, everyone says that food control is a very important part of being fit. My CrossFit gym offers this nutrition challenge based on the RP diet by Renaissance Periodization a few times a year.

I kind of wanted to see what my body was capable of if I actually controlled what I ate – before I got too old. I had never read food labels or weighed my food before this challenge. I was hoping this strict meal/workout plan would give me more (visible) muscles and help me lose some body fat. And today, it officially ended. Whoa.

Here are the final results.

Duration September 13, 2019 – December 8, 2019 (12 weeks)
“Fight Gone Bad” score +37
Back Squats (lbs) +5
Deadlift (lbs) +5
1 Mile Run (seconds) -96 (It took me over 10 minutes before this challenge)
Rowing (seconds) 500m: -6                                        2000m: -22
Body Fat (lbs, DEXA scan) -13.8 (I am very happy that most of the total weight loss is from fat loss…!! Actually gained 1.3 lbs of muscles!)
Chest ((inches) -1 (Yes, boobs get smaller too……)
Waist (inches) -4.75 (Less muffin top for sure)
Hips (inches) -1.75
Thigh (inches) -1.5
Arm (inches) -1.25
Weight (lbs) -14 (Weight loss each week was relatively consistent )

Overall, I am VERY happy with the result. Cardio workouts feel great right now, since I have a lot less to carry with the weight loss. I am ecstatic that the overall pounds that I lost is from fat loss. I did not really pay attention to weight loss before; a gigantic 25lb cat food bag weighs the same as the small dumbbell; so WHAT I lost, not how much I lost, really means a lot to me. On another note, I am not feeling as strong as I was about a month ago (FL1). Will get into that below.

Here’s the breakdown of each phase.

  • Base (Week 1 – Week 6) – I was very surprised at the instant weight loss and how long I could actually stayed at this stage. Also, that made me think, ‘how badly was I eating?’ Portions were just a little less that what I was already eating, but the biggest change at this stage was the kinds of food that I was supposed to eat: lean protein, healthy carbs, healthy fat. That got rid of a lot of things I was eating, though: pork belly, white bread, pasta, potato (chips), and pork belly and pork belly… The worst part in this stage, other than having to weigh everything and getting used to that, was the deprivation of my freedom to eat what I want to eat when I want to eat. After a couple of weeks, I had a mental breakdown and got seriously depressed. My solution to the blues was to watch a taco video on Netflix for 2 straight hours. Call me weird.
  • Fat Loss 1 (Week 7 – Week 9) – This was by far the best week as to the energy level and working out. I could feel my metabolism going! I had so much energy not only during workouts but also at work all day that I didn’t even need coffee throughout the day. I could definitely feel the muscle/strength gain and got to enjoy the pre-workout carbs, which I had never had before this challenge. The food was plentiful as well; I still got to eat protein, a generous portion of carbs (especially on workout days #motivation), fat and veggies at this stage. The biggest change here was the increase in veggie intake. 2 cups of veggies each meal are A LOT when you are eating every 3-4 hours. I think this was my favorite phase.
  • Fat Loss 2 (Week 10 – Week 11) – And there goes most of my carbs and hunger kicks in. Again, I come from a country where everyone eats so much carbs and still weighs 90lbs. Carbs are a must in my diet. Until FL1, this challenge was still enjoyable, but now I was not satisfied at all when I ate. I did this challenge with my husband, and we did come up with a lot of creative ways to cook delicious, yet healthy meals earlier. But at this point, food was just fuel – enough fuel till now.
  • Fat Loss 3 (Week 12) – Then, FL3 comes. Hangry all the time. No carbs, no fat. I was literally counting minutes during this stage repeating ‘what kind of life is this’ in my head. I got hungry 10 minutes after each meal, which actually made every single meal so precious! I cherished every single bit of minced garlic on my plate. Lean protein and 2 cups of veggies, that was it. I am absolutely glad that this phase was only for a week. It may have been necessary for the final cut, but this definitely did not feel sustainable at all.

From what I hear, one of the biggest challenges for some people is the actual cooking part. It indeed is very hard to maintain this kind of diet if you eat out often. I had to go on a few business trips while on this diet (THANK YOU, COLLEAGUES, FOR UNDERSTANDING MY BEING A PARTY POOPER & ORDERING BLUH FOOD), and I found it very hard to get enough veggies and good carbs from an order at most restaurants. A lot of times, there aren’t enough veggies on a salad so you have to order an extra vegetable dish. Even then, they are covered in butter and oil. Don’t get me wrong. Butter and oil are amazing things in life, but when your template says no fat… Also, a lot of seasonal vegetables that restaurants offer are root vegetables, most of which count towards your carb intake. Sigh… Challenges in getting good carbs, too… Sweet potatoes are usually covered in butter and sauces; rice is almost always cooked in something that I was not supposed to have; not a lot of restaurants have fresh fruit on hand. I even dreamt about opening up a restaurant where you could order food by your desired food macro. “Could I get 20g of protein with chicken breast, 2 cups of blanched vegetables, 10g of fat with almonds and 15g of carbs with berries, please.”

Eating out wise, going out to Korean restaurants was a little easier than other options, personally. There are always plenty of vegetables without heavy sauce, meat/protein portions are not ginormous, and you can always get “good” carbs from plain, steamed rice. The raw fish, vegetable, rice bowl was quite satisfying indeed.

To me, cooking/portioning was not a big deal. We cook all the time. We even enjoyed tweaking a couple of things here and there to make the macro work. For example, instead of using sesame oil, I crushed sesame seeds for more flavors. Mirin was used quite often to add some sweetness without using sugar. We used a lot of vinegar, Dijon mustard, ground pepper, red pepper flakes, lemon/lime juice, hot sauce, etc. to please our taste buds without adding anything unhealthy. Japanese tan-men recipe was used very often for our vegetable intake; obviously, without delicious port belly.

There are some food items that we absolutely loved having around. Cherry tomatoes are a godsend; they are very convenient to carry around and easy to store; they were an incredible lifesaver throughout the whole process. San Pellegrino replaced all our drinks. Also, tofu – especially the soft silken tofu; silken tofu is already ready to eat so it is perfect on a busy day; I usually add a little soy sauce, red pepper flakes and a couple drops of sesame oil. Pico de gallo is a delicious replacement for salad dressing or a heavy sauce!

Wait, did I mention Thanksgiving?

This challenge definitely made us a little shy about going to parties and hanging out with friends. It is possible, but to me, eating delicious food with other people is just more than putting edible stuff in my mouse. How was Thanksgiving dinner? Turkey breast wasn’t too dry; can’t say much about other dishes I chose not to eat. We did stick to it pretty strictly the entire time.

There were some firsts for me: food scale, pan spray (please don’t tell me what it really is… scared to know….), egg whites (I used to fight with my sister over the yolk), Amazon Fresh (another lifesaver!), drinking 1 gallon of water every day. Grocery shopping was something else. Because we had to eat so many vegetables (5 cups per meal between two of us), we basically went grocery shopping every other day. It was awesome that Whole Foods was in a walking distance and Amazon Fresh became free with the prime deal! I did run a spending report on my credit cards and grocery bills up by 10% compared to last year. At the same time, “food” category was way down too from not going out to eat as much. I started to take casein protein every night with this program too; taking the white power in small bags on my flight made me kind of nervous, but TSA didn’t have any issues. 😉

Judgment and guilt. I have been always skeptical about people who are always “on a diet” aka not eating – without any substantial workouts. Or, all this craze about diet programs with fancy names these days. One of the things I learned from this experience is not all carbs are the same and neither is the fat. I could take 20g of carbs from a piece of cake (LOVE!) vs. take 25g of carbs from a half piece of plain, baked sweet potato; and I am confident to say that latter option is better for our body. For instance, during the first phase, I lost so much weight just by switching what I was eating, not necessarily by dramatically decreasing the amount of food I had been eating. Now that I have seen this change happen to my body, am I conscious about what I am putting in my body? Yes. Am I going to stop eating pork belly and cookie dough ice cream? Heck, no. Am I gonna be feeling guilty? Yes. Oh well.

So, what’s next? I am definitely keeping some good habits. Drinking lots of water. Eating smaller meals more frequently. Eating more vegetables. Comsuming a little less food than what body tells me to do. Brain, stop lying to me!! Also, we have been given maintenance templates and new base template to follow as well. We will see how that goes.

Today, I completed all the benchmark workouts and did the body scan. the DEXA scan guy looked at my numbers and said, “this is the best I’ve seen today! Keep doing whatever you are doing” and that made me very happy and sad at the same time. Because I know that I won’t be doing what I was doing last week, meaning some fat is coming back fast and my pants will be tight again. However, I would like to give myself a nice tap on my shoulder. I had never been on a diet, and this was an extreme challenge physically and emotionally. 

With that said, I also would like to take a moment to thank all the great coaches we have at the CrossFit box. I could not have made it this far without their guidance and cheers. The group of people in this challenge had a Facebook page as well, so we could share our difficulties and victories as well. Great to be around great people.

My big celebration meal tomorrow is gonna be this: ramen noodles with a whole egg (YOLK PLEASE) and a bag of potato chips. That’s right. Empty calories and bad carbs, oh how I missed you! So, here’s the conclusion. No pain, no gain. Or, should I say no loss. 😉 Nothing is free in this world and I have paid quite a bit this time. Now I am ready to get on the airplane and go get millions of tacos in Mexico! More “cheat meals” are ahead, and therefore, more food pictures are returning!! Stay tuned.

Special thanks to John for this amazinglicous hot sauce from Belize! We ended the bottle with the completion of this diet!

10 amazinglicious days in Sicilia (feat. 36 fantabulous hours in Roma)

I don’t even know where to start‘ was in my mind when I sat down to write about our trip to Sicily, or Sicilia, and 9 months have passed since then. I’ve finally decided to finish thing post, and now I get to relive it! So, here we go.

My all-time favorite movie is Cinema Paradiso directed by Giuseppe Tornatore. While I absolutely love the music by Ennio Morricone, what most appeals to me in the movie is the small town where Toto and Alfredo share their friendship. Most scenes were filmed in Palazzo Adriano, a remote town located between Palermo and Agrigento. Visiting Sicilia and going to that little town was one of my biggest dreams and dreams do come true!

PA square.png

As we were approaching Palazzo Adriano, my heart started to pound like crazy. Everything there was just as they were in the movie. No time seemed to have passed in this little town. We were guided into a little “museum” at THE square; as soon as the lady who led us there turned on the music from the movie, I LOST IT. I am guessing she’s seen quite a few people like me before, because she just had this smile on her face and said nothing. Just thinking about that day makes me tear up right now. 

PA bike.png

Alfredo’s bike was still there, pictures of famous scenes from the movie were hanging up on the wall. I honestly could have spent the whole day sitting at a corner at the square, sipping on espresso, talking to some old folks there and would have been completely happy. Then again, we had some food to eat!

Now, back to the point: FOOD. Aside from all things we loved about Sicilia, here’s what we ate, in the order it was devoured!

1. Palemo fish.pngTrattoria da Salvo (Corso Tukory 156, 90134, Palermo, Sicily, Italy) – Fish, fresh seafood, grilled and lightly seasoned. That’s it. And that’s all we needed.

2. Palermo gelato.png

Antica Gelateria Lucchese (Piazza S. Domenico, 11, 90133 Palermo PA, Italy) – One gelato a day is a must and we religiously followed that rule! The most incredible flavor was pistachio, which tasted completely different from what I am used to tasting in 14,000 year old store bought crap in the States….!

3. Palermo market.pngMercato della Vucciria (Via Coltellieri, 90133 Palermo PA, Italy) – Markets are the best. Fresh ingredients, lots to munch, so many stories.

Palermo Food Tour (Foodies of Palermo through AirBnb) – I strongly recommend taking this food tour on your day 1 in Palermo. Our guide Salvo was extremely knowledgeable and witty. Not only did he give us delicious food, he also took us everywhere and told us so much about the city and the people. Things we ate: pani ca meusa (spleen sandwich, yes, you heard me correctly), gelato in brioche (it’s a thing, and it’s a beautiful thing), panelle (Sicilian fritters made with chickpea flour), arancini (deep-fried stuffed rice balls), sfincione (Sicilian pizza), Sicilian wine and OLIVES!

6. Palermo fish shop.png(Oh, did I mention that Italian guys are super hot?! I repeat, Italian men are HOT! I wanted to buy all the fish he had in his fish shop. Prego.)

11. cefalu.pngLocanda del Marinaio (Via Porpora, 5, 90015 Cefalù PA, Italy) – Every single pasta dish on this trip was cooked just perfectly. Cefalu is such a perfect daytrip destination if you are looking for something to do near Palermo. The romantic train ride from Palermo to Cefalu will take you to this shoreside town full of charm.

12. palazzo adriano.pngRistorante Pizzeria Del Viale (Via Venti Settembre 2, 90030 Palazzo Adriano, Sicily Italy) – This is the only restaurant in Palazzo Adriano and this IS the best restaurant. The cook/owner did not speak a word of English. She kept asking us questions with some hand gestures and we just said, “si, si”. We ended up with too much food; or is there such a thing as too much food if that food is absolutely delish…!

13. agrigento.pngOutdoor Cafeteria at the Valle dei Templi (Valley of the Temples, Agrigento, Sicily, Italy) – This actually makes me kind of sad. Even cafeteria salads in Sicilia tasted amazing. It’s the ingredients. A fresh, well-grown tomato does not need any seasoning or sauce. I really enjoyed my meal at this cafeteria with the beautiful Greek ruins behind me. Why can’t we get this food quality/freshness at home?

14. turkish steps.pngLounge Beach Scala dei Turchi (Strada Provinciale 68, 182, 92010, Realmonte, Sicily, Italy) – Scala dei Turchi (aka Turkish Steps) is a gorgeous white rock cliff. A scene from the movie Malena (another great movie!) was also filmed here. While gazing at the natural beauty, a sip of aperol spritz is just perfect.

 

Antonio’s AirBnb Cottage (Canicatti, Sicily, Italy) – Antonio hosts guest from all over the world in his charming home located in this little town. With a very reasonable extra fee, he will cook for you and HE CAN COOK! This 10 course dinner consisted of a few local goat cheeses paired with pistachio cream and homemade jams, a pasta dish, an eggplant dish, a couple of seafood dishes, a couple of desserts including the cactus fruit and wine and booze! Homemade food at its finest! If you are headed west from Agrigento, his place is definitely worth a stop just for the food itself.

17. modica.pngBottega Sicula (Corso Umberto I, 128, 97015 Modica RG, Italy) – A quick sweet fix on our way to Siracusa from Ragusa. On this trip, we found a hidden sweet tooth side of my I-am-not-a-dessert-person hubby. Oh, did we crush this thing.

 

I Monasteri Golf Resort & Spa (Traversa Monasteri di Sotto, 3, 96100 Siracusa SR, Italy) – A hotel restaurant isn’t usually my first choice of a meal, but every single meal at this place was unbelievable! Also, the fox. The first night we walked out to the outdoor dining area, we saw an animal around tables. I was thinking, ‘no way that’s a fox,’ and asked the waiter. “What is that?” “It’s a fox.” What an oddly awesome experience! Magical things happen in Sicilia.

 

Caffe Sicilia (Corso Vittorio Emanuele 125 96017 Noto, Italy ) – Just before our trip to Sicilia, Netflix released their new episode of Chef’s Table introducing this pastry shop. I was watching the episode drooling, but also said to myself, “terrible timing.” I wanted to go there before it was filled with tourists from the TV craze. Well, it wasn’t that bad after all, and everything there was completely heavenly indeed. Canoli, cassata, and the almond granita……. Mmm……………………………. I could still feel the texture in my mouth…….

 

Caseificio Borderi (Via Emmanuele de Benedictis, 6, 96100 Siracusa SR, Italy) – If you are in Siracusa, you have to stand in line for an hour, starve yourself, let the sandwich maker tease you with a piece of meat or cheese right before you die of hunger and then stuff your face with a ginormous sandwich at this place. Andrea is such a character. He’s a talker. I really wished I could speak Italian while standing in line, because people giggled and laughed every time he said something – even the intimidating looking uomini did, too. The sandwich buns are almost invisible by the time they are loaded with layers of fresh ingredients. Deliciousness overload! A visit to Siracusa won’t be complete without eating a sandwich here.

21 taormina.pngOsteria Villa Zuccaro (Corso Umberto, I 38, 98039 Taormina ME, Italy) – We had not eaten any pizza until we got to Taormina. There’s so much more than pizza and pasta in Sicilia, but pizza is damn good! The crust was just exquisite.

La Capinera (Via Nazionale, 177, 98039 Taormina ME, Italy) – This Michelin star restaurant is a short taxi ride from the busy town center. It was a chilly night and we got to have the whole outdoor dining section by the water to ourselves for a while. Impeccable service, great food and excellent wine pairing. Chef Pietro D’Agostino came out to the table and explained about every single dish we had. We totally spoiled ourselves here. One of the best meals on this trip!

23 taormina.pngLido Il Delphino (Via Nazionale 140 | Fraz. Mazzarò, 98039, Taormina, Sicily, Italy) – There is no such thing as a bad meal in Sicilia. Italian people in general seem to take pride in their food (as they should). Without Yelping or anything, we walked into random restaurants we ran into and the food was always delicious. I read somewhere that Italian people don’t really care about the Michelin star status; ‘why should someone else tell us how good our already-great-food is’? I totally get it.

 

Aloha Mare (Via Lungo Mare 102, Bivio per Savoca, 98028 Santa Teresa di Riva, Sicily, Italy) – Leaving Savoca, where the famous wedding scene from the Godfather was filmed, we asked some local people where we could find good seafood. And this place hit the spot. Seafood in Sicilia is unquestionably the best. Again, it’s so fresh. They don’t overseason it, overcook it or smother it with heavy sauce. As a huge seafood lover, Sicilia was a utopia.

 

Quattrochchiacchiere (Via Monsignor Domenico Orlando, 13, 95126 Catania CT, Italy) – We did not get to do much in Catania, but we always manage to have a nice meal fit in our schedule. The staff at Airone Hotel gave a couple of recommendations for dinner for our last night in Sicilia. The salumi board had way too much meat and cheese for two of us, but every single bite was absolutely delightful. Then, our main course, mortadella and pistachio pizza, came out. I had never seen such a combination before, or I had never tasted anything that delicious before…! On this trip, I fell in love with mortadella. Mortadella is amazing; well-made one. Duh.

27 rome.pngAfter 10 amazinglicous days in Sicilia, we had 36 hours in Rome before our return. It wasn’t enough time to see everything Rome has to offer, so we decided to do a quick e-bike tour and watch a football (if you call it soccer, that’s fine too) game. Some luck we had, though. That one day happened to be the notorious Derby della Capitale (Roma Derby) day! After these beautiful looking slices of pizza, we went into the stadium for the our grand finale of our trip. Roma Derby itself is an experience you don’t want to miss!

This trip was definitely more than just eating good food, even though food was by far the best part of it. We might have been to a couple of dozens of restaurants but, the sad thing is, there are still so much more that we didn’t get to dine at. I would love to go back to Sicilia someday.

Should you want to know more about our trip, please feel free to reach out to me: Twitter or Instagram. Prego!

Milwaukee, Wisconsin 2017!

Oh my, oh my, where do I even begin? Maybe I should state that I have gained 5lbs for the last 3 days and now I’m bleeding cheese and brats?😂 

We go on this baseball/food trip every year. The destination this year was Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 

When we got to the airport (MKE), we found this amazing thing: exclusive Uber pick-up zone! DCA (or taxi drivers in the DMV area?) seem to kind of mind people using Uber. However, MKE has designated a spot near Baggage Claim 1 for Uber pick-ups. No more calling the driver trying to explain where the heck you are!

Our Airbnb place was located right off Brady Street, which has fun bars, coffee shops, restaurants, etc. Everything was open late even though it was a Thursday night. 

We got to our place quite late but decided to try this Japanese ramen place, Red Light Ramen, that night. No one wants to be around hangry family! 

The most interesting thing on the menu was this “Whipped Spam”. Yes, spam. It is served with thin sheets of seaweed, aka nori, pickles and spicy mayo. We had to try it because no one had ever seen anything like this before. You gotta. Verdict? Not bad. It was a little salty (to me), but it tasted much better than we anticipated. I know even the word, Spam, itself gives some people cringes. To be honest, I do not mind it at all; I actually like it! Pan-fried spam and a piece of kimchi over hot white rice? Mmmmm. Anyway, that was our first night!

The food tour. On our annual  baseball/food trips, we seem to do this pretty much everywhere we go. With our limited time and lack of knowledge, it makes sense. We get to go to several different restaurants and try many kinds of food in a short period time.

Our first stop was Zaffiro’s Pizza. It was the original location, which was established in 1954. You can totally tell that it has been there forever: the signs, decor, etc. Now they have multiple locations including the one at Miller Park!

The pizza, though…! It definitely wasn’t my go-to, greasy NY style pizza. When they said “thin crust pizza”, I thought of Ledo pizza. It was something completely different! They cook their SUPER thin dough first and flip it. Then, they put their toppings on the dough. The dough is thinner than saltine crackers! The crunchiness and delicious toppings make it my new favorite style pizza now!

Second stop was La Masa, an empanada bar. We tried Argentine beef, pork and cheese/spinach. All of them were good but personal favorite was pork. 

More importantly, their coleslaw was a hit! It was quite different from the traditional coleslaw we get at a supermarket. Jicama adds a very unique taste and texture!

Our next stop was Peter Sciortino Bakery. We actually happen to go there before the food tour that morning to get pastries. We ended up getting way more than what we were planning on getting for breakfast but that’s what happens when you go to a good bakery, right? In fact, this bakery makes breads pretty much for the whole town. Their kitchen was up and running around midnight!

On the food tour, we got to taste their cannolis. I hate it when the shell is all soggy from sitting there too long. These were just perfect. Who says we can’t have desserts between meals, by the way! 😉

Next, we went to Glorioso’s Supermarket. It is a family-owned Intalian store with all kinds of goodies, which makes it a very dangerous for foodies! We had a nice spread of olives, hams, cheese, bread, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. 

Next stop, which was our last food spot, was Red Lion Pub. This pot pie definitely filled us up! This place has a nice deck upstairs. The best feature was this “pool table” where you play pool with a soccer ball!⚽️ How fun!! Apprently, this place is a hot spot for local people to watch soccer matches. I would live at this restaurant if I lived in Milwaukee. 

Our LAST last stop was Wolski’s Tavern. You would never guess that a bar is located in this quite residential neighborhood. No frills, but just great atmosphere, good local beers on tap, some games to play and a pretty backyard where you can sit outside and enjoy your drinks. 

Walking out of the bar later, we noticed that these “I closed Wolski’s” stickers were EVERYWHERE. Apparently, everyone in this town has closed this bar once or twice. 😉

This food tour company seems to offer a lot of food tour options. I even saw their own tour buses. There are other parts of town you can walk around and taste delicious food as well. I would have been definitely interested in doing their German food tour but the only option we had for our schedule was this Brady Street food tour. Brady Street is such a fun, lively neighborhood so it can’t go wrong. Food was good, but also, it is great to walk around the town and hear fun stories and find out about hidden history from a local tour guide. We asked our awesome tour guide, Mary Jo, what happens if it rains. She said, “you gotta bring your own sunshine”☀️😎 Love that!

After the food tour, we walked to Lakefront Brewery. Didn’t get to do too much there but we did get a beer and sat by the water. 

Later that afternoon, we went to Jack’s American Pub for fish fry and fried cheese curds. Of course, we didn’t forget to get Bloody Mary’s. Yes, with beef jerky stick and cheese strings!
I still can’t get over how much fun Milwaukeeans have! Jack’s American Pub offers free rides to/from Brewers games to their customers. You can drink on the shuttle too! How cool is that? Why aren’t bars in DC/NOVA doing this already? Who’s in charge? Hello?⚾️🚌🍺

At the Brewers game, which happened to be against the Nats (GO, NATS!), even though we were so full from all the food we ate at Jack’s, we had to eat the brats. Don’t forget to try the secret sauce! By the way, it is a beautiful ball park. The fans are so much fun too. Our ride back to Brady Street was quite interesting. Party must go on.

Next morning, before we left Milwaukee, we wanted to check out Milwaukee Public Market. Markets never disappoint. Delicious breakfast sandwiches, so many cheeses, LOTS OF brats, fun t-shirts. Too bad we didn’t get to see the ourtdoor part of it, for we had to go up north to see family. One more day would have been perfect but, oh well, this way, we have a reason to go back.

Even with family in Northern Wisconsin, we ate VERY WELL. This picture has three kinds of brats: Bloody Mary, beer & cheddar and garlic & onion. Yummy!

​On our way back to the airport, we got to party HAM in the car thanks to our Lyft driver, Glowstick Tom, who provided us with glow sticks, a disco ball, a fog machine and hand-picked music videos! Never experienced anything like this before and I don’t think we will in the near future. 😂👍

I love where I live right now, but people in Wisconsin definitely seem friendlier and more fun, in a sense. We will pick another city for our baseball/food trip next year, but I would love to go back to Milwaukee and further experience what it has to offer. 

Now, I can enjoy this small piece of Wisconsin I brought from the market.

Hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend!

Visit to Korea 2017 

Oh boy, where do I even begin? 

We get to visit Korea (yes, South Korea) only once every 2-3 years. I’m from Busan, the second largest city in Korea. This time, we were there for my sister’s wedding so we stayed around Busan the whole time. Seoul is fun but I think I’ve come to like Busan more. I definitely enjoyed every single moment, every bite. 

Well, right after we got off the airplane, we went to Geoje Island for a family trip. We lucked out with this beautiful resort, Hiclass Geoje
Playing in the pool means HANGRY people!
There’s nothing like stuffing your face with BBQ meat and soju on a vacay!
On our way back from Geoje Island, we dropped by this restaurant for some FRESH seafood. In addition to sashimi, they also give you so many side dishes, aka banchan. The things in the above picture are: sea pineapple (sea squirt), conch, “live” octopus in sesame oil and sea cucumbers. They sound kinda horrifying but aren’t that bad😉 

So, now, I’m just gonna list all the things we ate in Korea😂 

Dwaejigukbap: pork and rice in pork-base broth. Busan is well-known for having awesome DJGB!
Guksu: Korean style noodle soup. It’s quite easy to make it at home but I have a go-to place in Busan. Never disappoints. 

Fruit cakes are a thing in Korea I’d say. Cakes are so pretty that I sometimes don’t even wanna eat them😂 Do they taste as good as they look? Heck yeah. 
앙꼬절편, some super famous rice cake! In Korea, things change very fast. There are a few VERY trendy items whenever I visit Korea. This time, at least in Busan, this thin rice cake filled with sweet red bean paste was a hit!
Mommy’s hangover soup! This dried pollock soup, aka bugeoguk (‘guk’ means soup), is the ultimate remedy for bad hangovers. My mom loves to add ground black pepper at the end. 

Kimchi pancake and makgeolli! The salty, crispy kimchi pancake goes perfectly well with the sweet rice (alcoholic) beverage. It’s pretty easy to get korean style pancakes in the States now. I definitely recommend you order one of these next time you are at a Korean restaurant. 

Handmade dumplings. You easily run into these big batches at any market places. 

Speaking of markets, I just LOVE walking around them and looking at all these delicious snacks, sauces, etc. 

Tempura style snacks: battered and deep-dried. Everything tastes great when fried!

Tteokbokki, rice cake and fish cake in spicy gochujang (red chili paste)! If you dip that deep-fried stuffed pepper in the red sauce and have a big bite, I guarantee you that there will be a party in your mouth. One of my favorite street food dishes!

Korean beef BBQ….! We went to this butcher’s/restaurant, where you pick your own meat. You take what you have picked upstairs and they give you this tableside grill along with a variety of side dishes. Locally grown Korean beef just melts in your mouth. 

Duck BBQ! No marinating, no seasoning. Just some fresh duck meat and lots of garlic!
Bar food aka anju. One great thing about drinking in Korea is that you keep eating while drinking. Your bar food selections are amazing too. This seafood noodle soup was perfect with our sake! Also, you can drink pretty much all day/night in Korea. A great place for party animals. 

Just another typical breakfast scene at my parents’. You get a bowl of rice and several side dishes. I think I ate so many veggies even without trying. I already miss her food😭

Sashimi bibimbap and gukbap (‘bap’ means rice). We went to this old, quaint village by called Huinyeoul Cultural Village by the ocean. Right before we walked around the hilly alleys, we went to this restaurant and had an amazing lunch. Not too heavy or light. Fresh fish and lots of vegetables. 

Then, more street food! Hotteok is like a mini pancake filled with brown sugar and nuts. My brother-in-law’s favorite snack it is. Dakgangjeong is Korean fried chicken covered in spicy sauce. They are usually in a bite size so it’s easy to eat them while exploring busy streets of Korea. 

S. O. J. U! This liquor is found everywhere in Korea. Super cheap. Each city has its own so it’s another fun to try different kinds.

Rice gelato! Yes, I said rice. Centum City is a huge mall located near Haeundae beach. There, I found this mysterious flavor and I fell in love right away. The combination of tiramisu and rice flavor was oddly satisfying!

Cakes, cakes and cakes! Too pretty. 

All-you-can-eat korean buffet! You pay $25 and just go to town. Amazinglicious!

Mom’s bulgogi lunch! 

My aunt’s scrumptious gimbap…! This is one of the things that I definitely miss a lot. I don’t know what she does to it but we all love her rolls. Very addicting!

Lastly, meals served on Korean Air! In-flight meals are usually awful but I actually do enjoy eating what Korean Air serves. On the way to Korea, the lunch was bibimbap with seaweed soup. On our way back, it was rice served with doenjang (korean miso, if you will) and veggies. 

Our trip to Korea this time was a bit too crazy between the wedding and some personal issues. I am not complexly confident that I ate everything I wanted to. However, it’s always so much fun to go out there and spoil myself with endless eating and drinking. What’s surprising is that I somehow lose weight despite all of that..! I guess it’s the lifestyle. 

I did have a great time in Korea, but it’s good to be back home with my kitties. So, Korea, till next time!

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💕

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! 

It’s the thought that counts; better when that thought is delicious!

My father-in-law is a HUGE fan of Linzer tarts. Since the whole fam is down here with us to celebrate the holiday season, I’ve decided to make his all time favorite snack!

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I gotta say, it’s a major pain to make these little delicious treats but it was definitely worth every bad word I let out of my mouth while making them! 😉 I kept saying to myself, “it’s the thought that counts, right?” However, my father-in-law, aka a Linzer tart connoisseur, gave a generous 9 out of 10! 🙂 🙂 🙂 Now it’s time to enjoy!

Recipe from Allrecipes.com

Patisserie Poupon

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Patisserie Poupon
202-342-3248
1645 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, DC 20007

I’m just gonna post pictures and torture you. You can go to this delightful French bakery and experience their great dessert selections 😉 Great coffee as well. Parking could be really tough but I gotta say it was totally worth it!

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