Monday, November 30, 2009

Avec Passion

I finally had a chance to try Avec Restaurant tonight in Chicago's West Loop. Avec prides itself on food that is healthy, local, and sustainable; not to mention - super creative, delicious, and memorable. I know I'll be back!

Chorizo-stuffed Medjool dates with smoked bacon and piquillo pepper-tomato sauce - easily my favorite dish of the night

Pan-roasted Faroe Island salmon with house-cured salmon, roasted cauliflower and salmon roe

Roasted sunchoke crostini with shaved Brussels sprouts, radishes and truffle vinaigrette

Wood-oven braised pork shoulder with Prince Edward Island mussels, braised tripe, tomato and savory streusel - I could never imagine a dish with pork and mussels together

Monday, November 23, 2009

Say What Momofuku?

My early birthday present courtesy of Heather and James wholly inspired me to set out and recreate ramen from scratch - specifically ramen broth; which is typically concentrated pork broth. David Chang, founder of Momofuku and co-author of the book by the same name described such a deep passion for ramen early on in his culinary career. I kinda regret not taking the opportunity to try any of his restaurants on my recent trek to NJ/NY but that just means I'll have to take another trip!

The first part of the book outlines the gory arduous details of making proper ramen broth and I tried to find all the key ingredients to get all the core flavors - roasted pork neck bones and chicken backs, dashi, mirin. I didn't look hard enough to find kombu - which is essentially kelp but I think I got most of the flavors in there. I've always used pork bones to make soup but it was amazing to see how much deeper the broth flavor got from roasting the bones first - good stuff. After about 3 hours simmering on the stove I let it sit overnight.

The next day I further reduced the broth and added bonito flakes to enhance the meaty flavor and give some richness.

I prepped some chasu, shitake mushrooms, scallions, and bean sprouts. Next time I'll try to make my own ramen noodles.

I feel pretty good about my first try:)

and blog posts with Nat are just always more fun! Nat decided to dress herself and celebrate Halloween nearly a month late.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Matano Family | Lifestyle

Doris and Darren reached out to me a few weeks ago to do a mini-Lifestyle session in their home while Darren's relatives were in town. Baby Audrey also had her 1st Birthday that same weekend. Happy Birthday Audrey!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Natalie - 1, PS3 - 0

The other night I tried to load a DVD in my PS3 only to hear a disconcerting crunching noise. It turns out that Nat force fed several discs into the slot. I looked up a PS3 disassembly diagram and was able to get the discs out. I'm now the proud owner of a torx size 10 screw driver that I hope to never have to use again on this playstation.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Crumble in the Bronx | Personal

Our mini trips from NJ into NYC included a first time visit to the Bronx Borough for me as well as good eats at old time favorites.

We got some awesome cookies from Madonia Brothers Bakery in the Bronx. I can assure you that no stick of butter was spared in the making of these crumbly cookies.

A local meat market in the Bronx

This deli looked like a dungeon and the air was really humid. I had to step out in fear of inhaling a mold spore.

We were fortunate enough to get into the Bronx Zoo for free as most of the animals were either missing or hiding from the inclement weather. The highlight for all of us was the sea lion feeding.

Nat demonstrates how a sea lion eats fish

No trip to NYC is complete without a meal at Joe's Shanghai

Din Tai Fung is no match for Joe's crab xiao long bao.

Frozen Hot Chocolate at Serendipity

I finally got to see Patrick's dorm at Columbia University.

Ah, the good ol' days in the tiny dorm room where you kept your clean and dirty clothes in a pile. Now that I live in a house I keep my clean and dirty clothes in separate piles in the bedroom.

Only in Times Square will you find Elmo and Spider-Man competing for the attention of a hot woman.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Garden State Foibles | Personal

I'm not going to dump on the state of New Jersey anymore because I've come to realize that people will adapt to the idiosyncrasies of daily life wherever you live. The only problem here is that "adaptation" left me more exhausted on my return than when I left. All I can say is that it's sooo great to be back in California.

At least Nat got some sleep on our red eye flight into Newark. Sitting in coach on a United flight is no fun when you can't fall asleep and the person in front reclines all the way.

We were fortunate enough to be able to stay in Heather's friend's home in Fanwood, NJ.

The weather never got cold enough to don our hats outdoors.

You can still find nice sunsets in Jersey.

Nat was thoroughly entertained with the aquarium in the lobby floor of Legal Seafood.

Bridges and Traffic go hand in hand into Jersey.

First decent meal in Jersey was at the Mitsuwa Marketplace in Edgewater. I'm pretty sure I scarfed down my bowl of ramen in 3 minutes flat.

NY skyline from Edgewater, NJ

We located a Grimaldi's Pizzeria in Hoboken, NJ

Our pie was unfortunately not up to par with the Brooklyn location or our newly beloved Emilia's Pizzeria. I'm not sure why it was so soggy.

Only in Jersey will you find a milkshake bigger than your head. But in retrospect I think the milkshakes had a hard time competing with the size of most patrons at this establishment.

Harold's Deli in Edison, NJ made some awesome pastrami. They also claim to have the largest pickle bar in the world. It really wasn't that big.

Harold's cakes were cartoonish.

I tried to find some interesting things to do during the day with Nat as Amy was in work conference all week during the day. I ventured to Edison, NJ one afternoon only to find the most pathetic memorial to Thomas Edison. It took me half an hour to drive 5 miles to get here and it was closed.

Rain and more traffic were unkind on the Jersey roadways.

The interior at Bobby Flay's burger chain was really nice.

$16.95 for an original crunch burger, mango milkshake, and sweet potato fries at Bobby's Burger Palace. It was pretty good but are you kidding me? Bobby - I'm ready for a burger throwdown anytime

I've sat in my fair share of traffic jams but I'll remember the night of 11/5/2009 as being one of the worst commutes I've ever experienced anywhere. On top of all this hubbub you better make sure you're in the right lane to pay toll. Tourist driving in New Jersey = FAIL Good times. Good times.

I've got another update coming soon for our ventures into NYC. Stay tuned...