Monday, September 30, 2013

Weekend Food Coma

We had friends in town this weekend for a wedding in Napa and spent most of the weekend stuffing ourselves / sightseeing favorite areas around the Bay.

Day 1:

  • Shanghai Dumpling King - Shanghai Juicy Dumplings (xiao long bao - pork and crab versions) and Sugar Egg Puffs (food pics here)
  • Hakka - 2 Egg Yolk Crabs + Pumpkin
  • Golden Gate Bakery for egg tarts (pics here)
  • Hiking on Lands End Trail (pics here)
  • Golden Island Cafe - Dessert Sampler and Mango Pancakes
  • Hot Pot Garden - Spicy Miso and Tonkotsu bases recommended by Ping :)

 Hakka - Egg Yolk Crab and Pumpkin
You probably can't tell from this photo, but the plate was 4x the size of a regular dinner plate.  The other restaurant patrons looked impressed that the 4 of us were so crab-enthusiastic.

Wandering around Chinatown (I think this was a Chinese movies store on the same block as AA Bakery on Stockton), we happened upon a store with green tea candy wrappers taped to their window.  Of course, I had to try Green Tea flavored Crunch bars!  I like it more than the Kit Kat version due to the extra crispy bits.

Golden Island Cafe - Dessert Sampler: mango sorbet, coconut sago, toasted almond ice cream, fresh fruit medley

Mango Pancakes - essentially a crepe filled with whipped cream, mangoes, and sesame.  The sesame + mango combo made for a delicious combination!

Hot Pot Garden - Spicy Miso and Tonkotsu Soup Bases - so GOOD!

Tray of proteins 

Day 2:

  • Hiking in the foothill trails
  • Snowflake for Taiwanese style shaved ice
  • Napa wedding

Snowflake - Pink Lady: strawberry shaved ice with popping boba, litchi jelly, fresh strawberries and strawberry sauce

Snowflake - Milk Tea: MT shaved ice with mochi, red beans, mixed jellies, crispy chocolate bits and condensed milk

Napa - Admittedly, this isn't a very detailed photo but the wedding was absolutely beautiful and the bride was stunning in her Vera Wang mermaid dress.

I blurred out our names, but aren't these place cards adorable?  Great logistically too to let the servers know our meal choice.

Pretty floral centerpieces and homemade spicy caramel & bacon popcorn courtesy of the bride and groom

1st Course - perfectly seared scallop over polenta

2nd Course - Sea Bass w/ Mushroom Ragout

Ice cream bar (love!!) featuring handmade cones with chocolate tips

I was so full, I couldn't even try the wedding cake!

 Day 3:

  • Orenchi for ramen
  • House of Silvanas - frozen Filipino treats reminiscent of macarons (pics here)
  • Daiso in Daly City - huge Japanese $1.50 store
  • Palace of Fine Arts - such a beautiful place for pictures!
  • Mango Medley - dinner & dessert (dessert pics here)

Orenchi Ramen options

Smoked Salmon Spring Roll

Ahh, such rich broth!

Mango Medley - Clam & Bacon Pasta in Sake Cream Sauce

Mango Medley - Green Curry Brisket

We had a blast with our old friends and visiting our favorite places.  Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fall DIY: Leopard Jacket

It took me 4 months to actually follow through on this project after making the graphic version here.  Inspired by Jean's Emerson Fry coat and Elle's Ann Taylor topper, I thought this would be a fun fall jacket.

Fabric: Joann's, 2 yards, home decor, 54", 100% cotton

PatternButterick 5500 (actually a shirt dress pattern that I'm using as a coat), narrowed pattern inwards at the shoulders down to the waist, added a slight a-line flare, and shortened sleeves to 3/4 length

Difficulty: Intermediate

Time: ~4 hours

Leopard Jacket DIY
(also wearing Kensie cowl neck dress and Target pumps)

Past leopard DIYs:

I have a little more leopard fabric left and am thinking of a pleated skirt :)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Great Gals, Great Food

Great company and great food.  What more can you ask for?  These ladies are the kindest, sweetest people in the world and I feel so fortunate to call them friends :)

Jean, Ping, Me, E, Elle, and Cee
BIG thanks to Ping for organizing everything, introducing us to the most delicious foods, and making all the reservations!  You're the BEST!

E giving us the eye

 E with her new "jie jie" friends

Cee, Me, Aubs, and Sydney

 Adding a jump here because I want to share too many pics - see more below.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

SF Weekend: Gala Event, Moon Festival, & Eats

This past weekend was jam-packed.  We headed to SF, played in the hotel pool with the kids, attended the Gala, went for a midnight snack at a Hong Kong-style desserts place (I know!  We were actually awake and out at midnight!), wandered around the Moon Festival in Chinatown, and ended the weekend with celebrating our daughter's 2nd birthday.

Fun photo booth picture at the Gala

Paisley Gown DIY (full length)
The photo on the right was taken by our 4-year old.  Not bad, right?
The kids stayed with grandma at the hotel for the rest of the night.

City view from our hotel

Midnight snack at Kowloon Tong Dessert Cafe:
Salt & Hot Pepper Chicken Wings
Loved how they infused garlic-y flavor all the way through

Mango Go Go
Mango chunks in coconut milk with pomelo and sago.  If you're a fan of Mango Sai Mai Lo, this is a good option!

Mixed Fruit Sago
Mango, honeydew, watermelon, and strawberry in sago / coconut milk

Moon Festival in Chinatown
I was actually a little disappointed with this event.  I imagined lots of street food and maybe some kind of festive performance, but there was none of that.  The street vendors sold merchandise like toys, clothes, and dried foods (not ready to eat).

R&G Lounge's Salt & Pepper Crab
Ahem, for research purposes, I had to go check out this crab place at Ping's suggestion.  The place has fantastic Yelp reviews, but might have had a bad day when we went.  The crab had too much batter and was mushy (overcooked?).

I love our little forays into the city!  :)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

"Baby" E Turns 2!!

E turns 2 today and I can't believe how much time has passed already!  We got her a bunch of balloons today - 2 giant 36" ones and then some normal 12" versions.  She became bored of them quite quickly, but I did snap a couple favorites before she moved on to her birthday presents :)

Photo idea from Pinterest

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

South Bay Eats: Ramen & Japanese Fusion

Broth is everything when it comes to a good soup-based noodle dish.  For ramen, my standard of excellence is Hakata Ramen Shin-Sen-Gumi in LA reviewed here.  Orenchi Ramen in Santa Clara comes the closest so far in the Bay Area (probably 8.5-9 out of Hakata's 10).  If you scrutinize the broth, you can see little bits of pork fat for extra rich flavor.  Per ramen enthusiasts, this is the mark of a top-notch eatery.
Tonkotsu Ramen - fantastically flavored broth, noodles with a good bite, and loved the slight char on the chashu (roasted pork)

Perfect soft-boiled egg

Karaage (fried chicken) - very tender, moist and fresh (definitely not frozen and fried)

Next up is Gochi Japanese Fusion Tapas (apologies in advance for the poor photo quality.  I considered forgoing this part of the post, but the food was so good that I really wanted to share this place).  There were 2 standout things in the Yelp reviews: Hamachi Carpaccio and Clay Pot (we ordered the Sake Oyako Meshi - grilled salmon w/ salmon roe version):
Hamachi Carpaccio - fresh fish and nice flavors, but have had similar at other eateries

Salmon Clay Pot Rice - SO good!  I've found many clay pot rices fall on the bland side and rely too much on some kind of added sauce component.  Not the case here.  Well seasoned and incredibly flavorful.  We ordered a small (typical size for 2 people), but will be going for a medium next time because we couldn't get enough of it.

The best parts were these crunchy bits of rice

You have the option of adding dashi-soup to your rice for $2.50.  I would definitely recommend this - it was like 2 meals in 1.

Teapot of dashi-soup

If you have any Bay Area favorites, please do share!  We love exploring good eats :)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

J. Crew Inspired Tweed-Front Merino DIY Tutorial

Continued from this post, I had fit issues with the J. Crew Tweed-Front Merino Sweater and decided to make my own version.  See details below on how to create your own.

Original J. Crew version here
and my DIY version

 Difficulty: Intermediate

Time: ~2-3 hrs (I wound up making 2, so it took me 5 hours total)

  • ~1/2 yard of tweed, 
  • ~1 yard of knit fabric (stretchier is better!)
  • Bias tape in a matching color to bind your collar
  • Existing raglan sleeve top that fits you well 
Due to the number of photos, please see the rest of the tutorial after the jump.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Paisley Gown Black Tie DIY (Part 2)

After making this Black Tie DIY a few weeks ago and deciding it wasn't "right", I went back to the drawing board for a different fabric and bodice design.

Material: 4 yards polyester (feels almost like a taffeta - thin and papery) from Fabrics R Us

Pattern: Bodice from Butterick 5182, self-drafted skirt (120 x 45" rectangle)

Difficulty: Intermediate bodice, easy skirt

Time: ~8 hours over 3 days (had fit issues with bodice) and still need to insert the zipper

Paisley Gown DIY

My favorite part - the drapey effect of the top

Little pleats for the skirt

High back for full coverage

Butterick 5182
Though I loved the sleek look of this, I knew that every midsection bulge would show in this type of silhouette.  I also made the "keyhole" in the bodice much smaller in mine.

I'm planning on curling my hair and pulling it into a low side bun a la Carrie Underwood:

2 more weeks until the event!


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