Hodge Podge Kitchen

Sunday, October 30, 2005

New York City Trip - Day 1

First, I guess I need explain how we ended up in NY. Chris has been meeting with a group of his friends for dinner (or lunch) once a month around the city and they dubbed themselves the Lavish Dinner Group. As time went on people are moved away, started going back to school, etc., and I think it was Derrick (I don't know for sure, since I wasn't there) who suggested that they should do an Ultimate Lavish Dinner in New York City. When Chris frist told me about it, I don't think we were really considering making the trip accross the country for dinner. Somehow, we got used to the idea as time passed. And it's not as extreme of an idea when you make a vacation out of it, it gave us a reason to visit NY. Neither of us have been to the East Coast, and come on, it's New York City!
With Chris' work schedule, he could only take two days off, so we basically had to fit everything we wanted to do into 3 days. We took the red-eye from SFO to JFK and landed at 6:15am. By the time we actually got to the hotel it was already after 9am. I guess that's what we get for trying to travel during morning rush hour. The hotel was nice enough to let us check in early, so we took a little nap before exploring the city.

Luckily (or not so luckily) our room had a nice view of the 30 stories building next to us, so it was dark enough to sleep. (Actually, we never knew what time of day it is without looking at the clock since it looks the same all day long.) And what is our first meal in NY? I had a hot dog and Chris had a Chicken wrap thing off a cart on the street. We had reservation at WD-50 that night, and we didn't get around to eating lunch until 2pm, so we kept lunch pretty light. We were staying in mid-town, so we visited Time Square (well, more like sped through it), the public main library, Grand Central Station, and walked around 5th Avenue. We also explored the Lower East Side and Little Italy area a bit before dinner.
When we were first deciding where the group would go to dinner, most of us had a preference for WD-50. But, due to the amount of people we had (15-16) their dining room was not big enough to sit all of us. Their menu looked so interesting that I decided to make a reservation to check it out ourselves. I'm so glad we decided to go. We had the tasting menu and it's probably the best and most interesting meal I've had. I'm not going to go through all 11 dishes again here since I have the descriptions and comments on Flickr. Click on this picture to read descriptions of all the dishes:

The meal took about 3 hours, I guess the only complaint is that the timing of the dishes is a little off, some came too soon, and others took a little too long. But it's definitely a place we would go again next time we're in NYC.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Stuffed Bell Peppers

So I finished my exams for the week and had nothing to do, no reading or studying. It was a very unfamilar feeling. Given all this free time, I decided to make a fancy dinner - fancy in college terms. Out of one of Winnie's cook books, I had the recipe for stuffed bell pepper. You can ask her for the actual recipe. But a bell pepper filled with rice, ground beef and onion has to be good. Once made, I wasn't quite sure how to dig in. Just break it open and try to get some of everything in each bite I guess. I made some pasta as a side dish. Yay dinner! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Birthday Brunch at Bouchon

I was thinking for a long time on where to take Chris for his birthday. Since his birthday happened to be on a Sunday this year, I thought brunch will be good choice. Also, we have such nice weather this time of the year around here in the Bay Area, I decided that we're going to go up north to the Napa Valley. After doing a bit of research, Bouchon seems to be a good choice since they do have brunch specials on Sunday. I made a reservation for noon, but it seems that we could've just walk in. The staff was quite nice, but very, very slow. I think our brunch took more than an hour and a half for us, and I'm the only one who had more than one course. I also started with a baby beets salad and a glass of rose.

We both decided on the two brunch specials for the entree, Chris had the Eggs Florentine and I had the Duck Confit Hash. (I know, I seem to be enjoying this more than Chris and it's his birthday!)

Sorry for the blurry pictures, I blame it on the glass of wine on an empty stomach. The food were definitely good. Service could be improved, but we'll probably return to try other items. There's a bakery across from the restaurant and that was where we picked up some goodies to eat later on for dessert. The "oreo" cookie was very good, so are the macaroons.

Not sure it's good enough for the price though. But I'm married to a very good baker, so I'm more picky about that. =) Oh, we went out to dinner with a couple friends at Cortez in SF, that was also really good. But I have no pictures so I won't go into too much details.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Fall's Bounty

One of the perks about living the the Bay Area is definitely the weather. Along with the nice weather, one could easily grow a lot of fruits and vegetables in their backyard with very little care. Take my brother's (Alan) house for example, when he got the house last year, the backyard already have an apple tree and a plum tree. My parent then went overboard and planted all sorts of other fruit trees around. Some will probably take a bit longer to get a decent crop out of them (I'm waiting the pink lemons and blood oranges!). But in the meantime, we are enjoying the apples and figs that are in season right now (especially since my brother's family don't eat figs.)

So what other ways to use them besides eating them straight? I tried an easy apple walnut muffin recipe from The New Joy of Cooking and it was great for breakfast this week.

The figs are really ripe, so I don't really want to cook it. I ended up making a sandwich with puff pastry, cream cheese, and figs (with a bit of honey drizzle over the figs). That was just the right balance of textures with the crunchy puff pastry and creamy, soft filling. Not to mention the fact that it was a quick, easy dessert to make last minute with premade frozen puff pastry on hand. I still have quite a bit of apples left though, since I only used 3 apples in the muffin recipe. Maybe I'll try a apple tart next...

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Chicken Noodle Soup

Just last year when I moved in, I made chicken stock from scratch. When I do my first grocery run, I buy the bone-in chicken breast, de-bone and use the bones for stock. It probably doesn't have the same flavor as if I used thigh bones too but it's all good. I won't bother with a recipe since it's so simple and I'm sure everyone has an option as to what goes in it. I chopped up the veggies in big chunks so it would fit in the pot, threw everything in, and let it come to a boil then shimmer for a couple of hours. I put most of the stock in "mega ice trays" ( a good idea but really hard to get ice out of the trays so we never use them) and made chicken noodle soup a few days later. The chicken was taken off the bones used in the stock; I didn't want to ruin my knives by hitting the bone when taking it off. A nice bowl of soup was a good way to start off the school year and now I have stock if I need it. Posted by Picasa