Friday, November 30, 2012

high fives > fake hugs

you ever get that single-armed-side-lean-hug? the one in which Side Hugger ends up squeezing both of your own arms up against yourself and you're left wondering what the hell the point of that was? if you couldn't tell, i'm not so much a fan of that version of the hug. personally, i feel that if you're going to hug someone, you should probably just do it right. face to face, four arms (provided there are four arms, of course. shout out to our Veterans, you're off the hook with this one!) wrapped around torsos, and hey, let's throw in a smile as a requirement too (well, so long as this hug doesn't take place at a funeral, a break up, or some other tragic turn of events). let's rid this half assed version of a hug from existence, hmmm? this, along with the awkwardly-lean-upper-half-of-body-forward-using-both-arms-to-gently-"tap tap tap-"your-back are all a load of crap. they are fake hugs. it's much more gratifying to acknowledge that we're not that great in the Friendship Department and there's no need to share personal space if either party isn't really keen on being close or getting closer. if you and i are not friendly enough to hug it out genuine style, then howsabout we just high five?

*there are exceptions to this of course. an awkward side-lean-hug while both people are in the front seats of a car saying goodbye after having shared dinner or what have you isn't actually awkward because that person is likely your actual friend and they know you mean nothing but love. in that case space restraint is the only issue, not fakeness.

*just in case anybody is nosy, this post isn't really based on any one person specific interaction, it's just an observation. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Park Tavern

per my Yelp review.....

I truly wanted to love Park Tavern because it's by the same people as Marlowe and I had a great experience there. at Park Tavern the ambiance is pleasant, the service is great and I could imagine how fantastic the food could taste....if it weren't so damn salty!!!

Now, I love salt. In fact I can sit and eat a bowl of rice sprinkled with just salt and be a happy camper. But the intense amount of sodium I experienced at Park Tavern the other night was unbearable. We started with the duck liver mousse, which was very good, however we noticed it was quite salty. We moved on to the persimmon, buratta and coppa salad which was excellently balanced and quite refreshing. At this point the food seemed quite promising. Then came the lobster bisque and the steak tartare and both dishes were insanely over seasoned. By the time we were done eating I felt as though I'd been licking a salt block like a farm animal might. I'm not over exaggerating when I say that I could actually feel my blood pressure rising by the end of our meal! It was pretty unbearable. I was even fearful that dessert might be salty and we agreed that we wouldn't order any dessert described having "sea salt" or "fleur de sel." We ended up just skipping dessert due to our fear and left the restaurant with disappointment. Had the food not made me want to immediately drown myself with a gallon of water, I would have recommended it, absolutely. But I can't see myself returning if the food remains a salt bomb.

duck liver mousse with apple compote. served with grilled bread. not gamy and quite good if you disregard the saltiness.

persimmon with burrata and coppa. 
refreshing. light. a very well balanced dish.

lobster bisque with pastry puff
not quite what i expected. what i had in mind was the big puff pastry that is baked over the whole bowl, much like a pot pie. when i saw this my excitement depleted. then when i tasted it and it basically tasted like sea water with lobster, i was disappointed. at this point i could just imagine the swelling i was going to ensue the next day due to water retention. haha.

beef tartare with quail egg
tell me howwwww you make this overly salty? the beef should stand out on it's own. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

this weeks happenings...

-----Leslie came home for a week and i was fortunate enough to spend some time with her. she doesn't get to come home very often as she's busy performing surgeries in Manhattan (the prettiest surgeon, right?) so it is always a nice treat to catch up and hang out. though we don't keep in touch so much while she's away, it's never awkward when she comes back. it's like we never skipped a beat! she was happy to hang with me twice while she was here, so i must be doing something right as a friend! haha!!

brunch with the girls at Plow (Kris and Kim not pictured because i have enough pictures of them and just needed a pic of Leslie because it's rare. just kidding. well sorta. half truth!)

we went and had tea a la the Brits. scones, tea sandwiches and everything.

-----i spent actual Thanksgiving eating dim sum and dinner at the SAME Chinese restaurant. at least i was with family and that's all the holiday is truly about anyhow, so it worked out. but because my family doesn't really partake in traditional Thanksgiving feasting, i was fortunate enough to be a part of a nice little Thanksgiving potluck with the crew on the evening shift at work. we had Honey Baked ham, cornbread and andouille sausage stuffing, roasted rosemary and bacon potatoes, brussel sprouts with bacon, pancetta thyme mac n cheese, and salted caramel apple and pecan cheesecake. twas a better Thanksgiving feast than i could have imagined elsewhere. if there is anything that i am quite thankful for, it's having an awesome work environment with people that make the job fun, work as a team, and who have each other's backs. love ya, work family!

-----as previously stated, i spent Actual Thanksgiving eating all sorts of chinese food. but somewhere in between i got the chance to go on a nice walk/hike with Stefan (remember him? exboyfriend, current friend. it can happen, Kids!)

just hangin' from a tree. and yes, i'm wearing pants! they're hot pink pantaloons, okayyyyy? upon seeing this pic many people thought i was pantless. c'mon, guys! i'm a little more classy than that!

a random couple i saw with their dog. i thought it was a good photo op!

-----we celebrated Tan's birthday at the Warriors game. i say "at" rather than "watching" because i did not watch even one full minute of the game. we had a private suite that had all sorts of food and alcoholic libations to entertain me for the duration of the whole game. oh, and friends were there too of course. 
my awesome coworkers  friends. Lorraine, Lindsay, Edgar, the birthday boy, Natasha, Ruby and myself

the gals

we celebrated both Tan and Neil's bdays

totally loving this game. so much fun!

photobombed with Ciara

Tan and Alaina. he fits right into her pocket! 

in the van towards SF for a night of dancing

Yami and Derrek found us at Harlot

fun times, friends! happy birthday to Tan!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

salted caramel apple pecan cheesecake

i know i've already tried to proposition you into making that banana cream pie for Thanksgiving and i've already used up my bossy pants points, but you should really  make this pie for your next potluck. you can save it for the Christmas one mmkay? plus it's all apple-y, so it's more fall/winter worthy than bananas are. there is just so much going on in this pie that it can't not be good.

crunchy cinnamony graham cracker crust. 

oozing salted caramel.

nutty toasted pecans.

comforting luscious brown sugar apples.

creamy savory cheesecake.

not too sweet, and slightly tart.

just try not to fall in love with this pie. it's pretty impossible. 

simple. seems like a lot but really there aren't all that many ingredients

slicing away

this is when your house starts to smell like Cinnabon does at the mall

coated apples

cooked down

isn't that stunning?

it's only getting better

cheesecake layer before baking

try not to eat the whole thing

salted caramel apple pecan cheesecake


- 1 1/2 c graham cracker crumbs
- 3 tbs sugar
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/3 c unsalted butter, melted

caramel/pecan layer:
- 3/4 c salted caramel sauce
- 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

- 5 tbs unsalted butter
- 1/2 c light brown sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 5 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

- 8 oz. cream cheese at room temp
- 1/4 c sugar
- 1 egg at room temp
- 1 tbs lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract


make crust:
1. preheat oven to 375 degrees F
2. in a bowl, stir to combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and ground cinnamon
3. add melted butter and stir until mixture is evenly moist
4. press evenly into pie pan
5. bake until golden brown or about 10-15 minutes
6. remove from oven and set aside to cool

decrease oven temp to 350 degrees F.

after crust has cooled drizzle caramel sauce over the entire bottom of pie crust, then layer with pecans. place pie pan in fridge to cool while you make the apples.

make apples:
1. in a large saucepan, over medium heat, melt butter
2. add brown sugar, cinnamon and salt and cook until melted
3. add apple slices and stir to evenly coat all slices
4. cook until apples have softened and all liquid has evaporated (approx 20 mins), stirring occasionally
5. once ready, take apples off heat and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes
6. evenly layer apples into pie crust
7. place in fridge to cool while you make the cheesecake

make cheese cake:
1. beat cream cheese and sugar until fluffy
2. add egg and beat until completely mixed in. make sure to scrape sides of the bowl
3. add vanilla and lemon and beat until smooth
4. pour cheesecake into pie crust over apples and smooth with spatula
5. bake in oven for approx 30 mins or until the cheesecake loses it's jiggle
6. transfer pie to cooling rack and allow to cool to room temp
7. place pie in fridge for at least 4 hours

garnish the pie with more salted caramel and pecans

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

pancetta thyme mac n cheese

 you know, i know someone who doesn't like cheese. i think that's blashphemous, don't you? i can understand a lactose intolerance. or if they experience severe allergic reactions that require an Epi pen having touched cheese. but if there's no better reason for not eating cheese then i just can't  get behind that. cheese is a glorious thing. it comes in so many forms and flavors. methods for making cheese are varying and there are so many unique types of cheese. one of my favorite ways to eat cheese (aside from just shoving it in my mouth) is via mac n cheese. and who doesn't love that? oh...wait...i know one person who doesn't love that. that just means more for everybody else!

i made a pancetta thyme mac n cheese adapted from Tyler Florence's Ultimate Bacon Mac n Cheese. twas delicious! give it a go!

i used a Cabot sharp cheddar which sort of didn't melt the way i wanted it to. it didn't turn out as creamy as i'd liked but it was still really great!

onions, pancetta, thyme and garlic

flavor infusing some milk with thyme and garlic

thickening agent

i mean....i could just eat the whole pot like this....

pancetta thyme mac n cheese

- 1 lb elbow macaroni
- 4 cups whole milk
- 4 sprigs of thyme
- 4 garlic cloves, smashed
- 3 tbs unsalted butter
- 3 tbs all purpose flour
- 5 1/2 c shredded sharp white cheddar
- pancetta
-1 large onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- leaves from 1/4 bunch fresh thyme
- 1 1/2 c garlic croutons
- 2 tbs melted butter
- salt and pepper to taste

1. boil elbow macaroni in salted water until al dente. drain and set aside.
2. preheat oven to 400 degrees F
3. over medium high heat, cook pancetta until crisp. transfer to plate and set aside.
4. in the same pan, using some of the oil from the pancetta, cook the onions down until soft and transparent along with leaves from 1/4 bunch of thyme and 3 minced garlic cloves
5. once cooked down, add to the dish with pancetta and set aside
6. in a small saucepan heat milk with thyme sprigs and four smashed garlic cloves
7. in a large, deep skillet, melt butter over medium heat
8. whisk in flour and cook for one minute, stirring constantly
9. strain thyme sprigs and garlic out of the milk mixture and whisk milk into flour mixture
10. continue to whisk vigorously and cook until smooth
11. stir in cheese and cook to melt
12. add salt and pepper to taste
13. add the cooked macaroni and stir to coat.
14. add pancetta and onion mixture and stir until evenly distributed
15. pour into a glass baking dish
16. in a sandwich bag, crush croutons with a rolling pin. toss with melted butter.
17. sprinkle croutons evenly over mac n cheese
18. bake in oven until cheese is bubbling and croutons crisp up
19. serve immediately

Thursday, November 15, 2012

an ode to my mom / Quince for her birthday

do you know who the MVP in my world is? you'd be right if you're thinking that i'm going to say "my mom." if you've ever been in the presence of her you'd instantly see why. she's perky (but not in an irritating way) and gets along with pretty much every type of person. even my friends think she's funny, so there's that. she's easy to talk to and super down to earth. i attribute a lot of who i am today because of her. she's instilled that logical mindset in me and has always taught me that i am no better than others, just different. growing up, she was always quick to humble my brother and i. want an example? when i first got my driving permit she picked me up from school and let me drive home. i backed out of the spot in the school parking lot sort of recklessly and she immediately said "what was that? i've never seen you back out of a spot like that. are you trying to be cool because you can drive now and you're trying to show off? you know that doesn't actually make you cool, right?" "oh damn, she's right," is what i thought and quickly changed my driving manner. as kids, instead of just yelling at us and telling us what we did wrong, she would always tell us why what we did was wrong. this was in the form of hour long lectures which ultimately made me view things in a logical way so that i wouldn't repeat the wrong. and if i don't repeat the wrong, then i would never have to hear that same lecture over again. see! logic! anyhow, she's more than just someone who raised her children right. she's a pretty amazing person overall.

so now that i've rambled on, let's get to what this post was intended to be about. it was my mom's birthday earlier in the month and i wanted to treat her to a nice dinner. i brought her to Quince and it was awesome! they've got a 4 course/$95 per person or an 8 course tasting menu at $140 per person. we opted for the four course but got different dishes so that we could try eight varying dishes all together for less than the cost of two same tasting menus. that's called street smart, guys. anyhow, i am very happy to wine and dine my own mom. there's nothing i could do to ever pay her back for guiding me into becoming the person that i am. 

1st amuse bouche: squid ink crisp and truffle somethingorother.

2nd amuse bouche: green apple foam with beets and sunflower seeds

1st bread course: the most buttery brioche

3rd amuse bouche: i pretty much completely forgot what this was. some sort of cream with a sorel granita

2nd bread course: grain bread and a rosemary buttermilk bread
both very good!

1st course: Maine lobster with apple and celery
cooked perfectly. lightly sweet and oh so very balanced

1st course: sea scallop with romanesco broccoli, kaffir lime and prosecco 
the most perfect scallop. i'm not sure i've ever had a better scallop dish.

2nd course: cappelletti with squash, chestnut and sage
light and sweet with a browned butter sauce. mMmmm

2nd course: triangoli with burrata and burgundy truffle
very delicate, creamy and savory

3rd course: black sea bass with parsnip, porcini and red wine sauce
a decent dish but nothing great. but i'm not huge on fish soooo....

3rd course: suckling pig with quince and broccoli di ciccio
tender and very nice. the small square bite of roast pork was absolutely better than any roast pork i've had Chinese style. there was a perfect fat to meat ratio as well as the delicately crisp skin.

we added the cheese course because i thought my mom should have a legit cheese course some time in her life.

who knows what kinds these were. i completely forget, but they were all very good. accompanying the cheese were two types of bread, almonds, raisins, an apricot(?) mustard seed compote and rooftop honey.

the palate cleanser. a berry spritzer. underneath it was a floral panna cotta with cranberry and some type of gelatin 

4th course: coconut napoleon with pecan praline, honey crisp and black tea ice cream
wow, that black tea ice cream was amazing. it was vibrant with flavor and really balanced out the sweetness of the dish

4th course: dark chocolate pave with coffee cous cous, hazelnut dentelle and roasted banana ice cream
a nice dessert with maybe too many elements

a small birthday offering. passion fruit and vanilla cake


hazelnuts covered in six layers of chocolate

happy tummies!