Paris in Chinatown: only in San Francisco

Paris in Chinatown: only in San Francisco

It is supposed to be my art trip but it (of course) turned into eat trip. We found this little Paris influenced cafe in Chinatown in SF. This place took right back to Paris. Please enjoy with me.

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Musician, Author or Rocky?: No, she is Emily Crawford Dann

Musician, Author or Rocky?:  No, she is Emily Crawford Dann

Have you ever been disappointed in a second album of a particular musician who released a phenomenal 1st record?  I have many times.  How about writers?  His/her 1st book was so damn good and you can’t stand the second book?  Or the movie “Rocky,” which I don’t think I need to explain.

Emily Crawford Dann is not a musician or author who produces a disappointing 2nd creation or Rocky.  She is a law school graduate, bright, very sincere, calm, fun, knowledgeable, thoughtful and beautiful.  This is a story about her and her restaurant, The Corson Building.  http://www.thecorsonbuilding.com/

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One night in February 2012, somewhere around 9:30pm, he and I were driving through Georgetown on Corson Avenue in Seattle after checking out a couple of venues that we considered having a party with a small group of close friends and family.  We were looking for something quaint, classy, vintagie and yet fun.  We were not quite excited about both places and were tired, and so headed home.  We stopped at red light.  I looked out to the window and I saw this quaint, classy and vintagie place tucked away on Corson Ave, and I let him know.  As soon as he saw that place, he flipped a U-turn and got out of the car.   We hesitantly opened the gate and looked inside the building.  We could see someone in the back of the building so we approached the back door and poked our heads in.  It was a gorgeous, organized and stunning kitchen.  Pots and pans hanged from the ceiling. Utensils and kitchen tools were on one side and plates on the other.  And unmatched silverwares!  I fell in love with that kitchen with just a glance.  Then this soft-spoken, elegant looking women, with a gorgeous smile and apron said, “Do you want to take a look inside?  Come on in”. As soon as I heard her voice and encountered her graceful manner, I decided this place was it.  It must have been the same for him because I remember him saying, “We don’t need to look further.”

the back of The Corson Building

Last night, we went to a “Seafood Chowder” dinner at this place.  I repeat, she is not a musician, author who produces disappointing 2nd creation or Rocky.  We’ve been to her restaurant countless times and she and her creations never disappoint.

When we had a dinner party in October 2012, the only request I had for Emily was no carrots (because I do not like carrot so much).  I had so much trust in her and I didn’t request anything else because I wanted to have HER food, not our modified version.  Of course, she delivered beautifully.

Emily is Seattle’s treasure.  She loves ingredients and has a strong emotional connection to food and those who enjoy food.  In fact, every time I taste what she makes, my heart starts aching.  She uses a mix of many kinds of spices but it never loses its original flavor of ingredients.  Her food makes you want to use all of your feelings, emotions and senses.

If you ever have a chance to visit Seattle, this is the place that should be first on your list.

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Korean or Hawaiian: it’s BOTH

Korean or Hawaiian: it’s BOTH

What came to my mind was “divine.”  I mean, conjoining of Korean best invention, kimchi and rice whoever invented (I am forever thankful).

I barely take a lunch break.  I usually power through the day without breaking.  Today, one of my great friends at work, Kathy, made me go outside to take 1 hour break with her.  What a splendid day.  Sunny and air crisp but not too cold.  We do have 2 or 3 food trucks for lunch hour every day, we are lucky that way.   When we were outside, I saw a long line for this particular truck, “Marination.”  They also have such a jubilant menu, such as Kimchi quesadilla, Kalua Pork or SPAM sliders, Hawaiian Mac Salad, SPAM musubi and so forth.  Just a mixture of…well, many regions.

http://www.marinationmobile.com/

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(you can see beautiful city of Seattle in back ground)

I was hesitant to be in that line but Kathy said “no, we don’t have to be in line because I made our order using Marination app.”  This food truck is so popular and the “order-ahead” app was in such high demand.  Now Marination has a restaurant by Puget Sound, called Alki Beach in my neighborhood, West Seattle.

I had Kimchi fried rice for lunch, which I have to say it was an excellent choice.

Now I have my Thursday go-to place .  Thank you Kathy for pulling me out of my chair AND ordering my food so I eat on time.

Also, thank you, Marination, you guys rock.

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What is Hama Hama?: PNW Treasure

What is Hama Hama?: PNW Treasure

2-year residency in Atlanta, Georgia was quite tough for me.  It was challenging to find fresh and organic produce (maybe I was not looking hard enough?) and seafood!  Oh seafood…you have no idea how much I missed the fish market in Seattle when I was in ATL.  They are available there of course, but there is no denying that northern ocean water produces finer seafood, especially shellfish.

This small vendor at the farmers market that I mentioned a couple times before in my blog offers seasonal shellfish.  This past Saturday, they had 2 kinds of clams (one of them is called Happy Clam!) and a variety of oysters.  The name of the vendor is “Hama Hama Oysters and they grow Hama Hama oysters at their farm.  Isn’t that such a fun sound, Hama Hama?  I just want to repeat saying that.

http://hamahamaoysters.com/

I purchased one jar packed with 7 x medium size Hama Hama from granddaughter of the founder of this oyster farm in Lilliwaup, Washington near Olympic National Forrest.  It was shucked and packed that morning and I was there 9:30 in the morning, which tells me the oysters are incredibly fresh.  I didn’t want to add too many condiments because I wanted to taste the intense sea water and umami-packed sweet flavors spreading through my mouth (I was already salivating when purchasing them).

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Straight up Hama Hama Oysters without lot of seasonings

1)      Rinse gently

2)      Place them in cast iron pot

3)      Drizzle olive oil and add a bit of sea salt and splash or dry white wine

4)      Put the lid on and cook about 5 min (no need to touch, just let your pot do its job)

5)      Add little bit of fresh lemon

6)      Yay!

Accompaniment was lightly steamed leek with butter and salt.

Is your mouth watering yet?

Hama Hama.  This is your magic word of winter (or all year around).  Hama Hama, Hama Hama….

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Chopping Therapy: Prep for Gyoza

Chopping Therapy:  Prep for Gyoza

It really helps me when I have a bad day or I am upset about something.  Chopping vegetables is one of my meditation methods.

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When I was a young child, helping my mother and grandma in the kitchen was mandatory.  My mom started to let me use “old person’s kitchen knife” when I was 4.  I always wanted to sound like them.  They make this passionate, happy and fun sound of their knives hitting wooden cutting board with 100 miles per hour speed.

When I have a rough day at work, I tend to choose a dish requires a lot of chopping.  Gyoza (dumpling) is one of them.  I have a fond memory of helping my mom to prepare and wrap gyoza.  You chop Chinese chives, garlic, ginger, napa cabbage and onion.  You chop them all as finely as you possibly can.  How fun does it sound?  I feel like I am getting high, just thinking about it.  I guess I am a creature who is easy to be pleased.

This is my amusement and is also delicious.  You have umami from soy sauce, pork and veggies and sweetness from pork and other ingredients.

1.  Mix REALLY well ground pork (or mix of ground pork and ground beef), chopped Chinese chives, garlic, ginger, napa cabbage, onion, soy sauce, salt (lots), pepper, potato starch (needs to be potato starch, not corn starch), sesame oil.  Use your hand.  It gets messy, but no utensils or tools, just your hand.

2.  Wrap 1 with very thin gyoza wrappers (you can buy them at Asian grocery stores).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2_p_ny4eTE

3.  Place them in oiled and heated skillet.

3a.  Cook over high heat for 1 minute or so

3b.  Reduce heat to medium and add little bit of water (not too much) and put the lid over skillet.  Leave it for 2-3 min

3d.  Remove the lid and increase heat to medium high and add oil.

4.  Enjoy

Only thing I would like to mention is that it is SUPER important not to move around gyozas in the skillet.  Just leave them as they are until they are done.  Oh, that smell while cooking!  This Japanese soul food’s glorious aroma takes me right back to where I grew up.  My mom teaching me how to wrap dumplings and my small hands trying to mimic what she does.

Now, pull out your well-sharpened knife and start chopping.  You will know exactly what I am talking about as soon as you finish chopping first clove of garlic.

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$12,690 vs. $0

$12,690 vs. $0

Luxury.  What does that mean to me, I wondered when I saw this quote Sunday morning.

“Luxury to me is not about buying expensive things; It’s about living in a way where you appreciate things”

We have been lucky to have a warm winter in Seattle this year.  It was sunny and spring like yesterday.

When I took my slightly overweight Chihuahua, Ginger to do her business early in the morning, I noticed it was such a gratifying morning.  Air was clean and slightly wet from last night’s rain and ocean nearby.  I inhaled big this air as if I was filling my whole body with freshness of winter morning.  Then all of a sudden, I heard something humming.  I thought it was a bee at first but it sounded a little louder than a bee.

I realized that was a humming bird hovering and humming away right in front of me for good 5 seconds.  I was not moving and probably I was not breathing because I didn’t want this pretty bird to go away.  She (the bird looked like she) was holding one bright pink petal of winter camellia, which is one of my favorite flower.  It felt like she was trying to tell me to take a moment once in a while and just BE.

This is exactly what luxury is all about to me.  The beautiful humming bird brought such a quiet yet strong message yesterday.  By the way, above quote is by Oscar De La Renta, high-end couture fashion designer.  The most expensive dress of his you can buy online is $12,690.  However, like he said, you can find your own luxury, whatever that may be, when you choose, you don’t even have to pay a penny.

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Sunday Happiness = Winter Vegetables in Staub 24cm

Sunday Happiness = Winter Vegetables in Staub 24cm

I used to dislike Sundays.  Lots of people don’t like Mondays but Sundays were loneliest and longest of the week to me.  However, since 2010, that has changed drastically.

I am cooking cauliflower today for lunch.  A whole cauliflower plus some other winter vegetables (more like left over veggies in the fridge), lotus root, Japanese sweet potatoes, carrots, carrots, brussels sprouts.  Here is what I did.

1.  Place all vegetables in cast iron pot

2.  Add white wine vinegar, water (50ml-ish? maybe), olive oil, sea salt, thyme, ground cumin seed

3. Put the lid on and cook about 25 minutes over low-medium heat.

4.  Bon appetit!

Accompaniments are La Parisienne’s demi-baguette www.laparisienneseattle.com/gallery.html and Loki Fish Co.’s smoked salmon spread http://www.lokifish.com/

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I get to do this kind of stuff every weekend.  Not only that, I get to share these dishes, joy, love and passion for food and cooking with my best friend.  Lonely Sundays?  I am so over it.

Color of Saffron: STAUB 22cm

Color of Saffron: STAUB 22cm

I don’t like shopping really.  No, let me rephrase that.  I do not like shopping except for books, grocery and kitchen tools.

Yesterday, this little but heavy box arrived at my cube at work.  I tried so hard not to show my excitement.  But it was really hard, Oh My God.  It was my Staub pot!  When I decided I was going to get rid of all tools, pots and pans that I was not in love with last year, I especially started to invest in pots and pans.  I contemplated for a LONG time, like 8 months.  Which one was better for me to get, Staub or Le Creuset (I am a thinker, what can I say)?  Finally I decided to get Staub and my first pot was Grenadine Round Cocotte 28cm.  It was a significant decision and I enjoy cooking even more because of Staub.  It is cast iron pot and it is heavy but what I love about this pot is the lid.  The lid closes very tightly and steams inside really well with small amount of water.  Let’s say you are cooking winter vegetables, it usually takes a long time to cook them because they tend to be dense.  Because of the tight lid closure, it cooks with small amount of water, which means that it cooks with water that vegetables contain, therefore it has a stronger flavor.  Also these dimples in the lid.  Whoever thought about these is genius.  My hat’s off to that genius.  Here is why. Those dimples circulates water inside of pot and has a basting effect.

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I do have an emotional connection to this series.  This my 3rd Staub and this is just gorgeous. There are so many things I want to cook.  This a damn good problem to have.

Liberal Arts: Worth Every Penny

Liberal Arts:  Worth Every Penny

If you are a book nerd, this is a great place to fall in love with another book nerd.  http://acornbookshop.com/Acorn_LibartsMovie.html

Below is my favorite movie dialogue from “Liberal Arts”  I thought that creators of this movie examined inside my head.  This movie is full of stuff that I love about life such as coffee, books, travel, and music.

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Ana: I love books. I do, in like, the dorkiest way possible.

Jesse Fisher: Oh, me too. It’s a problem.

Ana: Like, I love trees cause they give us books.

Jesse Fisher: super cool of the trees to do that, Right?

Ana: I’m actually… this is weird. I’m actually trying to read less.

Jesse Fisher: Why?

Ana: I felt like I wasn’t watching enough television. No, l just started to feel like reading about life was taking time away from actually living life, so I’m trying to, like, accept invitations to things, say “hi” to the world a little more.

Jesse Fisher: That sounds scary. It’s going well?

Ana: It’s… okay. I keep thinking I’d be so much happier in bed with a book, and that makes me feel not super cool. I still read tons. I just feel like I’m more aware of a book’s limitations. Does that make sense?

Jesse Fisher: Yeah, totally.  

P.S.  This is me as well, especially #11.   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/beth-bartlett/youre-a-book-nerd-if_b_5374605.html

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Coffee Fixes Everything?: Starbucks Reserve® Sumatra Peaberry Lake Toba does

Coffee Fixes Everything?:  Starbucks Reserve® Sumatra Peaberry Lake Toba does

My morning was interesting.  Well, it was not interesting, it was actually bitter start.

Coffee.  Yes, coffee is needed for this kind or morning or any kind of morning.  Our office building has a few Clover® machines. The very first thing I do every morning is to go to 9th floor and make myself a delightful cup of coffee.  No sugar or milk is added in order to taste pure whole beans.  One of perks of working on a coffee team for a coffee company is the opportunity to taste millions of different coffees.  My favorite is Starbucks Reserve® Ethiopia Sun-Dried Yirgacheffe™ because this coffee gives you BAM!! blueberry smell when you open the bag and nice semi-sweet chocolate flavor.  What a romantic combination.

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Anyway,  Starbucks Reserve® Sumatra Peaberry Lake Toba,  I detected light acidity in the back of my tongue and very mild and smooth bitterness spread in my mouth slowly.  This coffee also has a bright fruity note and some sort of herbal note.  I was trying to think of a good description and finally figured it out.  It is green apple (!) for fruity flavor and cedar wood for herbal note.  This is such a charming combination of note and flavor.  Sumatra Peaberry Lake Toba has juicy entry and silky/smooth finish even though beans from Sumatra are very bold, almost chewy.  Because of the chewiness and density, I usually do not like Asian coffee, however, Sumatra Peaberry Lake Toba is the very first Asian coffee that I ever liked.  When enjoying this coffee, I was picturing myself sitting on swing in lightly humid but comfortable morning in early summer and enjoying sunrise.  I almost could see the moon fading and the sky turning from purple to deep pink to orange.

How can I carry on with the bitter morning start all day after this lovely cup of coffee.  You simply don’t.

I am a firm believer of this.  Coffee fixes everything.