Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Oahu, Hawai'i

"Best shrimp on the island" - from a local standing behind us in line,
expect to spend at least 2 hours here | Romy's

Last time I went to Hawai'l, I left proclaiming that it was my favorite state in the USA. Ten years later, I have to admit that Hawai'i did not fail to charm me again with its tropical climate, plentiful beaches, and Asian inspired comfort food. Though I didn't swim with sea turtles, walk on volcanoes, coddle sea horses, or island hop this time around, I did get to do a lot more exploring around Oahu. 

In addition to attending my cousin's wedding at Ko Olina, the goal was to do as much around the island outside of Honolulu as possible. I didn't fly all the way from a crowded city to vacation in another city. Surprisingly, my brother and I completed the majority of my ambitious itinerary - meaning we hit up 100% of the food spots I listed and about half the hikes and adventures I planned. Not too bad considering that we were running on full island time. The rainforest hike was way muddier than I expected, Valley of the Temples was one of the most awe inspiring resting grounds I've ever witnessed, and the oceans were just as blue as I remember. Only regrets (kind of, not really): missing the partial eclipse after sunrise on Monday and no rainbows! Next time, though. I know I'll be back again. Aloha! 

Cockroach Cove by Halona Blowhole

First meal and my favorite ahi poke thus far | Ono Seafood

Loved the taro bun at the luau buffet | Paradise Cove

I'll take all the katsu and shrimp tempura musubis | Masa and Joyce

Four Seasons at Ko Olina

Breakfast buffet spread with drip Kona coffee | La Hiki

Manoa Falls

Porkchop lunch special with bomb macaroni salad | He'eia Pier General Store

Byodo In Temple

Fresh fried malasadas - doughnut's breadier cousins | Agnes Portugese Bake Shop

Wedding catered by Honolulu's famous Chef Chai 

Fancy ahi poke with crispy rice crackers | MW Restaurant

Waiting for bullet matcha on the North Shore | Sunrise Shack

Much inspired, will definitely go home and make my own papaya bowls | Sunrise Shack

Pre-paddle boarding breakfast on the beach - we will take all the spam
musubis and papayas please | ABC Stores

Final meal! Loved the butter fish in gravy and watercress | Helena's Hawaiian Food

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Camping and cooking: Yosemite National Park

I moved to the west coast to be closer to the mountains, the national parks, the hikes, and the adventures. Lucky for me, all my transcontinental aspirations are becoming realized thanks to good friends. This past weekend, we road tripped to Yosemite. It is as beautiful and as scenic as all the wallpapers and postcards boast it to be. The pines, the waterfalls, the granite formations were all breathtaking. Even more awe inspiring was the meteor shower. I saw 9 shooting stars and wisps of the milky way! I love falling asleep under the brightness of the moon and waking up surrounded by trees. But it also helps when your tummy is well fed and warm. My buddy Winston has all the gear for all the outdoor activities. For camping, he has a huge cooler, a portable double burner, and a shiny black skillet which all come in real handy for searing pork belly, whipping up fried rice, frying omelets, or toasting up corn bread. And obviously I did not forget to pack plenty of fruits and vegetables (and homemade fig jam). :)

For weekend trips, I definitely recommend putting the time in to prep your foods/meals before arriving at the camp site. Living in Ktown, it's easy for me to grab marinated meats for the crowd. It's delicious, tasty, and all you have to do is sear it over high heat. I also try to pack veggies that don't require much preparation (cucumbers, cherry tomatoes), and if they do require some peeling and chopping (onions, garlic, peppers, etc.), I do it all at home and pack them with me in containers ready to go in the skillet. Same with fruits! Even if it's an apple, it's easier to share if it's already sliced up, so definitely recommend preparing a fruit salad for the trip. Happy camping! 

Monday, July 31, 2017

LA Farmers Markets feat. Peaches x3

As I have already expressed my love for peaches, I will now officially declare my love for farmers markets. This is no newfound passion, but relocating has made me appreciate learning about local seasonal produce. Moving to LA, one of the first things I did was try to find the nearest one to me. I've visited quite a few in central LA at this point, however I haven't decided on my favorite yet. What I can tell you is my favorite is having peaches for sale. Nothing compares to the peaches in the south, but farmers market peaches are just always the best. I'll be listing all the markets I've been to then 3 peach recipes to try after the jump: peaches & greens grilled cheese, peach topped acai bowl, and toasted coconut peach granola. 

Echo Park - great Friday late afternoon vibes with a lovely live band. Lots of food trucks and street food, wish I didn't eat in the neighborhood right before coming through. Very impressed with the vegetable farmers and the variety of free samples. 

Hollywood - this is the largest farmers market I've ever been to. I must've spent 30 minutes simply walking around to check out all that there is to offer. Too crowded, had to pay for parking, definitely not my favorite. 

Larchmont Village - quite crowded with families, but there's free public parking! 

Los Feliz - this is the opposite of Hollywood. I love the small town vibe. Great restaurants, boutiques in the area, too. Definitely recommend checking this one out for all the staples if you don't want to spend too much time shopping. 

Silverlake - nice variety of vendors,, convenient but bustling location. Not a bad way to start a Saturday. 

Peaches & greens grilled cheese
2 slices bread of choice (sourdough or rye are my favorites)
2 oz soft / semi soft cheese (I prefer anything spreadable but also a little stinky - I always go by my nose) 
1/2 peace, thinly sliced
1/2 cup arugula 
1/2 tbsp olive oil

1. Place olive oil on skillet and heat on medium
2. Spread cheese on bread and place in skillet open faced
3. Once cheese begins to melt, press down on sandwich with a spatula and allow to melt together and toast until both sides golden brown 

Peach topped acai bowl (for 2)
8 oz frozen acai 
1/2 cup frozen berries
2 Yakult 
1 tbsp chia seeds 
1 peach, sliced
1/4 cup fresh berries 
1/4 cup coconut flakes (optional: toast for 5 minutes at 350F) 

1. Blend together acai, frozen berries, Yakult and chia seeds
2. Pour into small bowls and top with peaches, fresh berries, and coconut flakes 

Toasted coconut peach granola
2 cups steel cut oats 
1 cup nuts (I prefer walnuts or pecans)
1 tbsp honey 
4 slices dried peach, diced 
1/3 cup coconut flakes

1. Preheat oven 325F.
2. Mix together oats, nuts, and honey on a baking sheet 
3. Bake for 25 minutes, mixing once every 7-10 minutes
4. Mix in coconut flakes and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until golden brown, mixing every 5 minutes
5. Remove from oven and fold in diced dried peaches 
6. Serve on top of yogurt or as muesli

And of course when I can, I get the kitties a treat of quail eggs!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

California dining along the Pacific Coast Highway at Malibu

When people visit me in LA, I like to bring them out for a day in Malibu. The scenic ocean drive along the Pacific Coast with some old school LA hiphop blasting on the radio melts away traffic and parking woes. Pulling into a public parking between a pair of Bentley's - classic convertible vs. SUV is almost humbling. But actually, I really just came here for the hike.

Malibu Farms is my favorite pre / post hike stop along Highway 1. It's also the perfect place to bring visitors to show off the sunny beach and Californian food. Think: kale, juices, avocado, grass fed, vegetarian friendly, organic, local. Not gonna like, I've been here three times already. Using fresh ingredients really does make such a difference. The crab cake bites were grossly overpriced for the three bites they offer, but at least it was 99% crab and absolutely delectable. I enjoyed the breaded mustard chicken sandwich (I'm a sucker for sandwiches, especially anything that resembles a fried chicken sandwich) and there was a hefty chunk of salmon on the kale salad. Love the assortment of fruit smoothies and vegetable juice assortments; must needed to keep hydrated. And though cauliflower pizza will never really be a thing, it was delicious (probably because of the melted cheese) nonetheless.

Another great place to stop along the Pacific Coast Highway is Malibu Seafood. They have the most amazing thick cut fried cod sticks that are making my mouth water as I type this up. Though most people go for the fried fish, they also have an actual seafood market. The line was so crazy long last time, I unfortunately didn't get to pick up some salmon tartar to go. Definitely will next time.

Nobu: I brought my mom after my first day at work. They fit us in at 3pm on a Monday. We were seated outside on the couches, overlooking the ocean. What a laid back lunch scene! We also got the perfect view of all the ladies dressed in way too tight dresses and way too high heels for a Monday afternoon. We started with the roasted shoshito peppers, my favorite and always a gamble for mild vs. burning spiciness. Other highlights included the lemon meyer albacore with truffle oil, crispy shallots and the classic spicy tuna on crispy rice. I also had king crab tempura for the first time in my life - worth it. I definitely appreciated the bold flavor combinations and modern California approach to Japanese cuisine. Everything here is so Entourage, like most bougie things I do in LA.

Malibu Farm Pier Cafe
23000 Pacific Coast Hwy
Malibu, CA

Malibu Seafood Fresh Fish Market & Patio Cafe
25653 Pacific Coast Hwy
Malibu, CA

22706 Pacific Coast Hwy
Malibu, CA

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Sqirl, Los Angeles

There are quite a few highly coveted brunch spots in LA, and Sqirl is on top of that list. Is it the vegetarian friendliness? Its hipster Silver Lake location? Perhaps the hip young crowd lining out the door? Or the homey menu items and its elevated use of familiar ingredients? Whatever it is, it's also definitely the famed ricotta toast. 

That's right. This thick cut brioche toasted and smeared with ricotta and topped with homemade jam. It was a hefty portion, probably better shared. But it was so good I was totally content with that, my iced cappuccino, and my summer reading (is it really still spring?). I tried both the blackberry meyer lemon and strawberry rhubarb jam. They were both delectably fruity, so I would highly recommend both to my fellow jam lovers. 

Definitely plan on going back for brunch foods and brunch bowls. And will also get another slice of famed ricotta toast.   

Monday, May 29, 2017

Smorgasburg, Los Angeles

There is just an endless multitude of food choices in Los Angeles. Having Smorgasburg out here really showcases the culturally diverse palate of Angelenos. Coming from the south, it was pretty mindblowing to see the extent of Asian and Mexican fusion flavors and ingredients incorporated into essentially every vendor's menus. There were too many choices and too few of us to try it all, but I think we made a pretty hefty dent. 

Stalls I definitely want to try next time but just didn't have the stomach room this time: Lobsterdamus, Porchetta Republic, Mama Musubi, Paloma's Paletas, Amazebowls. 

Shrimp Daddy: What we came for. Hawai'ian garlic shrimp just sounds
so bomb to begin with that even waiting an hour made it all worth it.
Chinese Laundry: Sichuan spicy cold noodle and hong shao pork belly
tacos - you get me with pork belly or taco anything 
Hot Star Chicken: this spicy Taiwanese fried chicken cutlet
is the first thing I've ever eaten in a Singaporean food court.
So good that it was obviously the first thing I bit into at
Smorgasburg also.  
Popdup: Loved my orange thyme iced oolong tea

Churro Boss: It's great how whenever someone says "churros,"
you will start hearing it circulate and pop up in nearby conversations.
I could really use another basket of fresh fried churros. 
Wanderlust Creamery: A sunny day in LA is never complete without ice cream