Rose, Rose…I Love You!

Hi everyone! So I realize I haven’t updated my blog in almost a year (oops…ūüźĶ), but let me explain myself. I’m in my sophomore year at college, and I’ve just declared a double major in Comparative Literature and East Asian Studies with a minor in Asian American Studies! Life has been a bit hectic for me, but I’m finally getting things in order as the semester is coming to an end and I’m wrapping things up with 8 papers due in less than 2 weeks, no biggie…

On a fun note though, I went to Chicago over spring break, and boy did I have so much good food! To make up for my lack of new foodie adventures (not much time to go out and explore while at college), I ate to my heart’s content in Chicago and had some of the coolest things ever. I had rainbow xiaolongbao (including truffle and cheese flavors), milky bone broth hand-pulled lamb intestine noodle soup in Chi(na)town, authentic taro boba, and…here’s the best part…rose-shaped gelato!

You’ve probably heard of Amorino, the artisanal Italian gelato brand that has boutiques all over the world. If you haven’t, you most definitely have seen a picture of their products on Instagram. Amorino creates beautiful rose petals out of more than twenty different flavors of gelato, and their cones are oh-so Insta-worthy! I was fortunate enough to drop by Amorino Chicago on my day trip, and I got one of their famous gelato cones for around $7. Price may seem a bit steep, but keep in mind that this is artisanal gelato, and you can get as many flavors as you want on one cone. Plus the skill and labor that goes into creating the rose petals makes the gelato worth the price you’re paying.

I chose 4 flavors on a medium sized cone since they didn’t recommend any more flavors than 4, given that the flavors, if mixed, do not taste good. The flavors I decided on were raspberry sorbet, passionfruit sorbet, pistachio gelato, and biscotti gelato (speculoos with Belgian biscuit, cinnamon, and nutmeg). I almost didn’t want to eat it because it was just so beautiful! But of course as a foodie, it is my job to capture the moment on camera, then to savor the moment off camera. If you live near an Amorino, do check it out! Even if you are vegan or gluten-free, they have options for you too. It’s truly an amazing experience to see the gelato rose bloom right before your eyes.

 

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Paella Demo

Oh my god, it’s been too long (like almost a month) since last I posted on my blog! I just haven’t had that many exciting food adventures happen to me recently I suppose. Work has been taking up most of my time and energy, so I haven’t been able to go out and try new restaurants much. However, this weekend I experienced a truly amazing gastronomical delight.¬†Granted, I’m only 19 and didn’t really enter the foodie scene until about two years ago, but this weekend’s food adventure was definitely a game-changer for me.

So what exactly did I do, you may ask? Well…I got to try authentic paella for the first time! A professional Spanish chef from a catering service came to make us dinner, and I was able to document the entire process right here:

Prep time took a while because the grill had to be set up and the ingredients laid out in a specific order, but when she was ready, the chef started off by cooking chicken on the huge skillet. Chicken takes the longest to cook through, which was why it was the first meat to be cooked. Once it was done, the chef pushed the poultry to the rim and started working on pieces of pork and beef in the middle. Layer after layer, she added the following in this order: a seafood combo of scallops and jumbo shrimp; basmati rice; a mix of saffron, garlic powder, and other spices; and frozen organic greens (she stressed an emphasis on organic foods, but frozen as opposed to fresh would be more convenient). Finally, the chef staggered mussels and clams throughout the paella and covered the entire grill so that it could simmer in the seafood juices for a few minutes before serving us.

The party we attended that provided the paella had catered for around 40 something people, so everyone had more than enough for seconds. It was a truly memorable meal for all of us, as it was a very communal experience. I really enjoyed dining with all the guests and learning more about each of them, all while eating some delicious seafood. I even had enough leftovers for the next day. If I’m hosting a party myself one day, I will definitely look into working with the paella catering service Hola Paella (based in the Bay Area), and everyone is invited!

 

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Paella Chef Demonstration

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Everything Seafood Paella

First Time Food Delivery

I don’t think I ever realized just how tiring nine-to-five work days could be until I experienced it myself for the first time this past week. I had started my internship at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum on Wednesday and have been working full days since then. Walking up and down the steps of the four galleries as well as memorizing¬†my canon in preparation for becoming a docent really tired me out. I didn’t feel like making dinner, nor did I feel like eating leftovers. I wanted something new, something I’ve never really gone out of my way to try: I decided to have my food delivered.

Timing could not have been any more perfect. I had received a voucher for a free meal in the mail from Munchery, a San Francisco-based food delivery service, which I used on the Wednesday night menu. The dish I ordered was the balsamic-glazed flat iron steak with roasted bell peppers, mushrooms, and potatoes. It was absolutely delicious! I’m not a good cook, and I’ve never tried preparing anything as complicated as a steak before (tbh it’s usually just sandwiches, soup, or ramen for me), so my Munchery dinner was definitely a nice treat. At $10.25 for a decently generous serving, it seemed like a good meal, and most of the other menu items are even under $10. Thus, even without a coupon, Munchery dishes would be a good investment once in a while.

I loved my first Munchery experience and if I feel the need to utilize their services more often depending on my schedule, I might even invest in a membership. I love that they bring back certain items on their menu every couple of days, so if I miss a particular dish one day (or love it so much that I want it again), I can have it like three days later. It’s also super convenient to be able to view the whole week’s menu at once and schedule deliveries in advance. The pre-cooked dishes from Munchery are definitely convenient, but I think I better try their cooking kits next time. I really need to learn how to make my own food!

 

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Balsamic-glazed Flat Iron Steak with Roasted Veggies

19th Birthday!

Throughout my childhood, I used to really hate being born a June baby. Most of the time, school would be out by the time my birthday came around. Many of my friends would also be on vacation by then, and therefore they couldn’t attend my¬†birthday parties. And worst of all, if my teachers gave out free homework passes as birthday gifts, I would never be able to use mine because there was no homework to be done! I mean, who assigns homework on the last week of school, right?

But as I grew older, I’ve started to tolerate, even enjoy my summer birthdays. Even though the parties stopped after middle school (to my mom’s relief: she really didn’t like dealing with thirty-something little kids running around), I got to spend more time with my family and closer friends, which ended up being even more enjoyable.

This year was no different. For my nineteenth birthday, I decided to have a cute afternoon tea party with my younger cousins Emily and Evelyn. They brought over a platter of fruit, and I set up a snack bar in my backyard that included a three-tier set of mini cupcakes, cheesecake bites, and homemade finger sandwiches (tuna mayo and cucumber cream cheese). For beverages, I made a pitcher of pink lemonade for the kids and summery sangria for the adults. I used pineapple juice, simple syrup, orange sparkling water, and strawberry mango moscato for the sangria. I also finally put my bunny cookie cutters to good use! The adorable melon kebabs were a great hit with my cousins, and they perfectly complemented my tropical drinks.

My cousins and I had a great time at our tea party, but we weren’t ready to end the festivities yet. We followed our snacks with a fancy dinner¬†at Mizu Sushi Bar & Grill in San Jose, where we ordered rolls upon rolls. Some of the items we ordered were a salmon roll served on fire, uni (sea urchin) nigiri, crispy Japanese burnt rice squares, and fried scallop balls. But the highlight of the meal was the Mizu Special Boat pictured below. Chef’s selection of assorted sushi and sashimi paired with house salad and miso soup, it truly was a a gastronome’s delight!

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Mizu Special Boat

I never really thought about it until after I got home, but I’m actually really lucky to attend a semester-based college instead of one on the quarter system. While my friends are currently stressing over finals, I’ve already been back in the Bay Area for half a month. That’s half a month more of good food than everyone else! I also got to celebrate my June 1 birthday in the good company of my family, something I wouldn’t have been able to do if I were still at college. I don’t know yet what exactly I’ll be doing for my twentieth next year (wow I’m old), but I already know that I want to spend it with my family again.

Memorial Day Smoothie Bowl

Burgers, barbecue, and beer: these are the three quintessential B’s for the perfect Memorial Day summer cookout. Not everyone has a grill though, or has the time/incentive to cook. What if you just want to sleep in on Memorial Day and wake up to a light and simple breakfast that doesn’t require much prep work?

Smoothie bowls are the perfect solution to such a dilemma. Vitamin-packed and delicious, they’re a sweet way to begin a lazy summer day. For my particular Memorial Day-themed smoothie bowl, I used the following ingredients:

  1. half a mango
  2. half a large box of strawberries (about 10)
  3. guava juice
  4. various berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries) and chia seeds for garnish

These are the steps to creating the perfect smoothie bowl:

  1. Dice the mango and halve the strawberries.
  2. Pulse the fruit chunks in a blender on medium and add a splash of guava juice.
  3. Pour the mixture into a bowl. It should be a thick but still liquid consistency.
  4. Garnish with toppings as you please. The more the better!
  5. Enjoy your delicious and healthy smoothie bowl!

 

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Pink Fruit Smoothie Bowl

 

Fitz’s Famous Freak Floats

In this day and age, anyone with an Instagram has probably seen at least an image or two of the crazy freak shakes that are currently taking over the world. Restaurants specializing in over-the-top milkshakes such as Black Tap NYC and Sydney’s The Vogue Cafe have recently been popping up globally. Adventurous consumers often wait hours in line for these amazing foot-tall creations, and this trend certainly isn’t about to die down anytime soon.

Milkshakes are definitely delicious, but what if you were craving something a bit more bubbly? Don’t worry, the American midwest has got you covered! Located in the heart of St. Louis, Missouri, is the Delmar Loop, an entertainment district named one of the ten greatest streets in the country. And right on the Loop is Fitz’s, an old soda factory renovated into a restaurant serving American fare and pub food. I first heard about Fitz’s from upperclassmen friends when I started school at Washington University in St. Louis last August. For several consecutive years, my college WashU has been top-ranked in the nation for best college food, but let’s face it: no matter how good the food at school is, everyone appreciates some off-campus dining here and there. That’s why Fitz’s, being within walking distance from WashU, has become the unofficial designated weekend hangout spot for my friends and me whenever we want a change in diet. As a family-friendly restaurant, Fitz’s serves gigantic portions of burgers and fries, and every time we eat there, my squad always splits the root beer pulled pork nachos appetizer. However, my personal favorite at Fitz’s has to be their monster floats.

Like the freak shakes of NYC and Sydney, Fitz’s floats are gigantic. The mug of soda itself does not seem like much, but when it’s topped with four heaping scoops of ice cream along with various garnishes such as whipped cream, chocolate sauce, cookie crumbles, candy, etc., it can become pretty scary. There are always fifteen different floats on the menu, but the flavors change every so often. Sometimes there are seasonal floats like the Pumpkin Dandy (pumpkin soda topped with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, caramel sauce, and a cookie wafer straw) which is available during Halloween. But you can always count on year-round favorites to satisfy your sweet tooth, such as the Three Amigos (draft root beer topped with vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry ice cream, whipped cream, and Hershey’s chocolate sauce); Eurostar¬†(draft root beer topped with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, Nutella, and caramel sauce); and S’mores (draft cream soda topped with chocolate ice cream, whipped cream, marshmallow fluff, chocolate syrup, and a graham cracker).

My friends often underestimate my ability to finish an entire float in one sitting. “It’s bigger than your face, Lynette!” they remark skeptically,¬†but I always end up surprising them with how much dessert I’m able to consume.¬†My goal is to try all 15 floats by the time I graduate from WashU. I had initially given myself all four years to accomplish this feat, but at the rate by which I’m consuming these calories, I’ll probably be done by next year. Tbh, I’m not sure whether or not that’s a good thing. But hey, the floats are delicious $5.99 towers of sweet heaven, and which college student can resist that? I would still love to try Black Tap NYC someday in the future, but for now, I’ll satisfy myself with Fitz’s monster floats. At least the wait at Fitz’s is shorter!

 

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S’mores

 

 

 

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Pumpkin Dandy

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Eurostar

 

 

 

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Three Amigos