Friday, June 28, 2013

Mission Peak hike

last weekend Maria and i did the infamous Mission Peak hike in Fremont. there are supposed to be beautiful views at the top of the three mile trek up the mountain but due to the cloudiness i saw absolutely nothing. we climbed up to see a wall of white surrounding us. but no worries, the whole point in doing the hike was more for the sake of hanging out than for views. and let's be honest, how amazing could views of Fremont be anyhow? i imagine a lot of dry earth and low buildings. 

people say this hike is grueling and that your legs feel like jello the following day. but have you seen the massive sturdiness that is my legs? i'm in pretty decent shape as far as being active goes so for me this hike was cake. i felt nothing the following day, which actually made me feel really good. but for anyone who doesn't have muscular stumps for legs and wants to hike to challenge themselves, this is a good way to do it. with no breaks in elevation, this hike is all incline and gets steeper as you ascend. bring a friend who is fun to talk to and it makes it that much easier.....ooorrrr really awkward if you are both trying to talk but are out of breath for the full three miles. at least at the end you can rejoice over the shared triumph that is conquering Mission Peak. and while you're at it you can take the same obligatory photo that has been all over Instagram and other social medias (see first pic) (see last pic. haha.). have fun!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

yays for gays!!

....and everybody who is in support of love with no boundaries! yesterday we got to be a part of an exciting and enormous leap in history. marriage equality is finally in true existence in California and i am ecstatic! at the gym, while watching coverage of the day's events on the news, i found myself smiling at the posters, hugs and community that was broadcast over tv. and when anybody with a pro-Prop 8 opinion came on, my smile quickly turned upside down. i was visibly bipolar in attitude while jogging on the treadmill. at some point i almost clapped and yelled "YEAH!" but held in my excitement (though in retrospect i really shouldn't have held back. guys do it with sports all the live long day so i should have hollered for gay rights). 

you know, marriage equality was inevitable. too many people were willing to fight the fight until change was upon us for it not to eventually happen. it's actually quite embarrassing how long it took California to catch up to twelve other states and the District of Columbia. in situations like this i'm reminded that living and growing up around the SF Bay Area gives you blinders. when Prop 8 initially passed it was shocking (SHOCKING!!!) to say the least. i'd thought California would hands down be on board with equality but it was evident that the rest of CA (except LA) was far more conservative than my upbringing taught me. but yesterday proved that if you keep fighting for what's right, eventually the truth prevails and humanity wins! 

my boyfriend, who is in Beijing, said that the LGBT community in China was celebrating the win as well. yes, it's just one state in a whole 'nother country but it's part of the journey to a glorious future and a big deal for the LGBT community here in the US as well as their supporters over seas and along with their supporters in general. doesn't it just make you feel all warm and toasty inside? yays!

this is a photo from last year that i took of my friend who has been in a relationship for many years and has regarded his partner as his husband regardless of whether it was accepted. and now (if they choose to) he can legally put that ring to good use!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

roasted cauliflower mushroom quinoa salad

a simple hearty salad full of texture and flavor. a great side dish, but also filling enough to be a meal on it's own. i could eat this for days and days. if you don't like blue cheese, you can substitute feta, goat cheese, or just forego the cheese all together. mMmm good!

roasted cauliflower mushroom quinoa salad
(adapted from this recipe.) 

- 1/2 head cauliflower cut into pieces
- 8 oz. crimini mushrooms, cut in half
- 1 tbs oil
- 1/2 tsp thyme, chopped
- 1 c quinoa
- 2 c chicken broth
- 1/2 c pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
- 1/4 c crumbled blue cheese
- 1/4 c balsamic vinegar 
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1/2 tsp thyme, chopped


1. preheat oven to 400 degrees F
2. on a baking sheet toss cauliflower and mushrooms in oil, thyme, salt and pepper
3. roast for 30 mins, flipping half way, so that the vegetables caramelize
4. while the vegetables are cooking, pour chicken broth and quinoa into a pot. bring to a boil.
5. reduce heat to a simmer and cover to cook for 15-20 minutes or until all water has been absorbed.
6. remove quinoa from heat and put to side
7. once vegetables are cooked toss with quinoa, pecans, balsamic vinegar. sprinkle with blue cheese and thyme.

Saison for Flag Day

yesterday we celebrated my favorite day of every year, Pretentious Eats Flag Day! annually we go to a different two or three Michelin starred restaurant for their tasting menu and it. is. awesome! so far we've been to French Laundry, Manresa, Cyrus, and Restaurant at Meadowood. this year we dined at Saison for our fifth annual celebratory dinner, which also means i get to cross them off the list of Six Chefs You Should Know (leaving me with two more, Coi and Atelier Crenn). they offer a 17 course tasting menu for $248 and it is worth every penny. 

Saison is actually far from pretentious. they don't have a dress code so you can walk in in jeans and a t-shirt if you please. the music that they play isn't the elevator type music you might expect either. i'm pretty sure i heard 867-5309 playing at some point during dinner. slung on each person's chair is a lap blanket in case they get cold. the whole place is cement and brick so i imagine it can get preeetttty cold on those super chill nights. but i like to call the food pretentious because the moment a tweezer is involved in meticulously placing items onto a plate, there's an air of snobbery that comes with a meal that costs well above $200. aside from the food though, there is nothing about the place that i would consider pretentious. 

before we get into the food, i want to say that the service was spectacular! let me preface the goings on through the night with the knowledge that my car was parked right outside of their restaurant and upon realizing that it was only a one hour meter, i decided to move it (as dinner is 3 hours long). when i tried to move my car it wouldn't start and there wasn't any reason it shouldn't have started. i wasn't going to miss this dinner i'd been waiting a year for, so i headed inside and would deal with it after dinner while also risking getting a ticket. but Flag Day was much more important than my car at that point. the moment i walked through the door i was lead to the bar to wait for my friends and was poured a complimentary glass of champagne. the bartender and matre'd asked how my night was and i told them about my car. the matre'd offered to take my keys and have a look. he couldn't figure it out, but that gesture in itself was more than anything i'd expected. after dinner i sat in my car waiting for AAA to come and at some point one of the staff members saw us and asked if he could offer us some coffee while we waited. then another staff member saw i was waiting and said that if he'd known i was still out here he would have offered me some company. these things are far above any service that i expected. it seems like at Saison the people there are concerned that you to have a good experience throughout your stay with them, but in the most friendly and genuine way. not once did i feel like the people there were playing the role of someone serving. it felt like everybody truly liked their job and enjoyed giving us a great experience. 

now, onto the food! after consuming 17 courses, you'd think that i'd want nothing more than to explode after stretching my tummy out for three hours, but the courses were surprisingly light and well spaced out. many of the dishes were sort of refreshing in a sense and very balanced. nothing was overly rich or overpowering. after the meal i felt full but not in a i-should-probably-just-keel-over-and-die type full. everybody that has the means to go and appreciates truly divine food should make their way to Saison at least once!

soda, rhubarb, grapefruit, elderflowers
tart, light, and refreshing. simply wonderful. 

custard, grilled cepes, black truffle consomme
lots of mushroom flavor and full of umami

reserve caviar, ember roasted yam, grilled chicken gelee, crab
who knew that salty caviar would pair well with yam? i didn't! but Chef Josh Skene sure did. this was an incredibly inventive dish and my favorite of the night. 

cherry blossom, sea bream, bull kelp
i really enjoyed this. it had just enough texture with the fried bull kelp laying atop. 

shiso, kiwi   /  beet, rhubarb (i think..i can't remember)
we asked if there were any non-alcoholic beverages and they said that the bartender would basically concoct three different mocktails for us. these, plus another one with rhubarb, ginger and coconut were brought to the table. all were refreshing and unique in flavor. fun stuff!

live scallop, meiwa kumquat, sea urchin, avocado
good god was this good! live scallop has a totally different texture than seared scallop (clearly) and the uni added a nice richness, though again, this dish was very light. 

battle creek trout roe, ramp vichysoisse
the caviar was quite mild. this dish was super textural. i dig. 

battle creek trout
smoked, which pleasantly altered the texture a bit. 

abalone, roasted over the embers, wild seaweeds, lardo
i don't even like abalone but this was fantastic! there was a bit of a smokiness to it.

stew, rice and abalone liver, coastal greens, artichoke

bitter vegetables, nastrutium honey
the stringy fried thing you see is mermaid seaweed. i loved it! this dish was served with creme fraiche and some salt. you eat it with your hands and dip it however you please. each piece had a very distinct, fresh flavor to it. 

this was cute. sorta just wanted to hang on to it because it was so darn cute.

parker rolls
these rolls had the perfect consistency. slightly chewy and just perfect in every way. 

sable fish, swarnadwipa spices, yogurt, tangelo
this tasted very thai. the fish was cooked perfectly and the (what i imagine was..) plantains gave it some good texture. 

brassicas, aged seaweed bouillon
this was probably my least favorite dish, but still a very interesting dish. 

toffee, bread, milk, beer
duck liver hidden underneath! foie gras with toffee and beer? who in their right mind could come up with such a thing and make it work? this was sort of amazing for me. i thought that conceptually this was awesome. plus, i've been missing foie so it was nice to have a bit again. 

wood pigeon, cherry tree
i really enjoyed the cherry leaf with liver inside. it was super savory and just what was needed at that moment during the dinner. 

tart, harbison, strawberry, juniper
this was the cheese course. a different approach to the cheese course, which i appreciated. cheese, strawberries and crust.. i'm for it!

raspberry, meyer lemon, prickly ash, basil buds
those tiny little pieces of basil were surprisingly super potent. this was citrusy, creamy, slightly bitter, all in good ways. they described it as a raspberry marshmallow but nothing about this really screamed "marshmallow."

sesame, white sesame souffle, black sesame gelato
the executive chef came out to place the ice cream onto our souffles. that was nice of him! this was excellent. i'm not a fan of souffles in general but this was exceptional. it wasn't very sweet and was actually slightly savory because of all the sesame. just heavenly. 

grilled buckwheat tea
a good way to end the dinner but cleansing with some tea. a note from the Asians, i assume. haha. 

sponge cake with dulce de leche center and matcha powder
bourbon and browned butter macarons
earl grey truffle
can i just talk about the truffles for a moment? the guy who brought them over said to eat it in one bite because it pops and gets really messy otherwise. at first i wasn't going to listen to him and just bite half way through then decided that he probably knows what he's talking about so i took his advice. the moment you crack the chocolate, you encounter a liquid center that bursts into your mouth with earl grey tea. this was phenomenal! the chocolate layer is much thinner than you'd image which was actually really pleasant. 

custardy inside, caramelly crust. just what it should be!

after having said that the earl grey truffle was spectacular and i wished it were my last bite, someone came out with a second round of truffles for us. see what i mean about above and beyond service? 

we were sent home with a brioche for the morning after as well as printed menus. awesome! 

i cannot say enough great things about Saison. every moment of my time spent there was time/money very well spent. my experience encompassed all things i expected and then some. this was the perfect selection for our 5th Annual Flag Day!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

rants from an x-ray tech part II

to: patient
from: regina

--how come it takes you seven hours to take your jeans off and put a gown on? i mean, are you wearing button flys? on that note, whyyyyyy do people ever wear button fly pants? they're so inefficient. anyhow, if you would just learn to take your pants on/off faster, you would be saving so much time in your every day life, y'know. you'd have more time for random things. things such as not be in a radiology changing room for seven hours.

--so while positioning you, i move you forward with my hands just a little bit (like an inch), say "hold really still" and let go. you tend to sway back all out of place and then i have to do it again. we play this game for about three rounds before you get that "hold still" means to indeed hold still. during this time the words "why must you defy me" play in my mind over and over until finally we've come to the agreement that you are going to actually hold still this time.

--this interaction has occurred too many times in my short (so far) career as an x-ray tech.

me: hi! i'm Regina, i'll be taking your x-rays.
patient: hi! i'm, [insert name] i'll be your patient today. hahaha!!!

i can't imagine how many more times i'm going to hear this. or how many times you've already said this to your nurse, dentist, doctor, physical therapist, etc. aren't you tired of saying it? we're i'm tired of hearing it. sure, it was sort of cute the first time someone said it but how often do you think it's going to be the first time hearing it for the person you're saying it to? slim to none i'll bet.

--i'm sorry if when i read your name, George Blah Blah Blah, i pronounced it j-or-j blah blah blah like the normal way most people say that name. it's not really my fault that you spell your name the typical way but like it to be pronounced j-or-jay. when in a condescending tone as if i'm stupid because i can't read or something, you say "you said that wrong, it's actually j-or-jay blah blah blah," i pretty much want nothing more than to say to you "you know we're never going to meet again in life, right? there will never ever be a time when i'm going to see you and be like 'oh, hey j-or-jay, remember when i used to call you j-or-j? boy, was i stupid for thinking your name was ordinary.'"

also, to the person who has more than three consecutive consonants in your last name, your name is barely readable so don't be mad at me when i say it wrong mmmkay? who in your history decided to throw a bunch of random letters together?

to hear me be a complaining brat just a little bit more, click here:
rants from an x-ray tech part I

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

beef bourguignon

since when did the SF Bay Area become so damn windy? i feel like over the past three-ish years it's slowly become a land of gusty winds and chapped faces. along with the wind is the chill factor. as sunny days turn into wind chilled nights, the cold is inescapable. and when i'm cold, i want warm comfort foods. beef bourguignon is so homey and comforting it hits the spot on those dreary evenings. also, it's really easy and freezes fairly well. so make a big pot of it and save some for another cold night! it's traditionally served with crusty bread but i served it with rice because i'm asian like that. 

beef bourguignon
adapted from this recipe

- 1 1/2 lbs beef chuck cut into bitesized pieces
- 3 tbs flour
- 2 tbs oil
- 1 onion, sliced
- 4 strips bacon, chopped 
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 c red wine
- 3/4 c beef stock
- 4 carrots, peeled and quartered
- 4 sprigs of thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- salt & pepper
- 1 tbs flour


1. in a shallow bowl or dish combine flour, salt and pepper.
2. lightly coat the beef pieces with flour mixture and set aside
3. in a pot over medium high heat, cook bacon and onion until bacon is crisp and onion is transparent. set aside.
4. in the same pot, brown beef on all sides in two batches
5. add meat back into pot with bacon, onion and garlic. stir together.
6. add wine, beef stock, carrots, thyme, bay leaf, salt & pepper to taste. stir together. 
7. cover and simmer for about 1 1/2 hrs or until meat is tender and liquid has reduced by at least half
8. with a slotted spoon, take out all of the solid ingredients and place in a large bowl to the side. also, remove bay leaf and thyme stems.
9. in a small bowl mix 1 tbs flour with water until smooth and milky
10. add flour water to remaining liquids in pot. stir and simmer until it reaches the desired consistency. 
11. pour sauce over meat in bowl.
12. serve with crusty bread (traditionally)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

someone has it worse

sometimes i feel bad because my greatest obstacle for the day is when i think i'm pouring ketchup onto my plate but it has separated in the bottle and tomato water has landed there instead (so gross). i then have to wipe it up before it touches any of my food and this is a major annoyance for me. some days (honestly, most days) minor irritations such as this are the only things that have gone wrong. then i hear about someone else's day (honestly, anybody else's day) and they typically have something vastly more strenuous that they've got going on in their lives. be it a mother in-law that they don't get along with, a hard workday that will carry on to tomorrow, miscarriage, or kids who aren't appreciative. someone hates their job but is stuck because they have mouths to feed. or maybe their daily commute to work is so long that they don't have time for their friends. how about people who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and don't know any other way than the one they were born into.

about a month ago a cute little five year old boy came in for a CT scan of his chest to see if his cancer  had spread to his lungs. in a stroller his grandma swiftly pushed him down the hallway towards the examination room making a windy path. full of life and energy, the kid laughed and seemed like he was having the time of his life. once he got into the scanner he was terrified and uncooperative (but you can't blame the little guy, it's a big scary machine). i looked at his prior imaging to see what kind of cancer he had or what he'd already been through. he'd had far more exams done than any five year old should have to endure. it turns out that he had sarcoma (a malignant cancer) in his knee. once we got his scan done, i showed him some images of his chest. kids think it's really cool to see the insides of their bodies (hell, adults think so too! at least this one [points at self] thinks it's pretty damn cool). i pointed some things out to him, "this is your heart! looks it's so big! you must have a lot of love! and these are your lungs..that's how you breathe." then in his cute, high pitched little voice, he said "yeah i saw a picture of my leg before. but they said i have to make my leg smaller." this is how his parents explained to him that they had to amputate his leg up to above the area of the sarcoma. this brought an instant sadness to myself and my coworkers who were fortunate enough to meet this brave little guy. it's really unfair that someone who's just barely starting their life has to go through such a drastic change that will alter his life from that moment on. it's really unfair that his parents have to watch their son take a different road than the one they envisioned for him. one where he'll be seen and treated differently by his peers. not to mention one where they'll have to keep an eye out for a recurrence. it truly broke my heart and i couldn't can't get the thought of him out of my head.

it's humbling to hear other people's concerns, especially if you take the time to recognize what their struggles are compared to what your struggles are. this is not to say that whatever you struggle with has been demoted to nothing, but someone out there has it worse. it might be different, it might be the same. but someone somewhere out there is living with a situation that is comparable or even more detrimental. i think it's important to be aware of other's lives and to know that everybody has something that they're dealing with. on days where ketchup water is my biggest concern, i feel guilty for not having a harder life but this also makes me grateful for the life that i've been given. whatever you're dealing with, someone has it harder. keep that in mind and your life may not seem so terrible. it's all relative to what you make it relative to.