oh em gee

HER:  well, well, well.  We’ve been quite the busy bees these days – don’t you worry, we have preparing and planning many of blog posts but have not had a second of spare time. We’re currently en route from a wonderful wedding – Jason’s best friend Matt & his beautiful wife Sarah – but we’ll get to that in a few posts.  It’s time to back track and I hate to do that but this is so worth it.

As you read from our last posts, J & I went to San Francisco two weekends ago for a little getaway.  I have to tell you – our meals were phenomenal.  SF – you win.

What were our eats?  Prepare yourself.  Make sure to read this on a full stomach because you will be hungry after reading this.  And jealous.  I’m jealous of my past self.

Meal One: Sunflower Restaurant in the Mission.  We didn’t hear of this place, we didn’t read a single review, but the smell that erupted from this place…it begged us to explore further.

Vietnamese coffee & fresh shrimp spring rolls

The main course

For him: the best pho we’ve ever had. ever.  For her: the lemongrass tofu special: came w/ hot & sour soup, vegetable roll, and the most delicious green beans I’ve ever had. ever.

All in all, the prices were great + the flavors were unique & delectable.  This is a must eat if you find yourself in the hipster district.  But don’t try on hipster jeans. Because they just may not fit and your dreams of being a true hipster will forever be crushed. (eh hem – sensitive subject to a certain someone).

Moving on, meal #2: SPQR, a  little Italian spot on Fillmore.  A friend recommended this & we did make reservations.  The mood lighting was dark & romantic…and the bottle of valpolicella was the perfect third wheel.

The appetizers stole the show:

carne cruda chopped wagyu beef, smoked egg, fingerling potato, fried oyster

I took a walk on the wild side and agreed to the next appetizer when J immediately started drooling the second he saw it on the menu.

fegato grasso duck liver terrine, almond milk, dried cherry, quince saba

Wow oh wow.  This blew us away – such a perfect & unique combination of flavors.

Main course didn’t photograph so well – as pasta isn’t the prettiest.

L: squid ink pasta w/calamari; R: pasta with sea urchin, pancetta and quail egg.

Both were great but I surprisingly loved the sea urchin one more.  Conclusion: highly recommend. Delicious! It was a typical SF restaurant in that it was pretty pricey but if you wanted a nice night out w/out going too crazy, I would recommend a glass of wine & an app or two – they were by far my favorite. We’re not really pasta people but I liked that they were small portions.

Meal Three: Delarosa on the adorable Chesnut street in the Marina.  The weather was beautiful, I had just bought a beautiful new pair of jeans, and we strolled into this little joint. We were walking on clouds…heaven on earth.

L: Swiss chard,chickpea puree,pecorino chips; R: beer steamed mussels

Ok, this swiss chard dish was INSANE.  I immediately bought pecorino cheese with hopes of recreating this at some point…don’t hold your breath.

Then, one of the prettiest salads was delivered.  It was so pretty I almost felt like I couldn’t eat it.  Almost.

Carpaccio of sliced gold and red beets, shaved ricotta salata, truffle

As if we weren’t on a big enough ‘food high’, we spent the weekend with this view:

All thanks to our dear friend Christa, who let us stay at her adorable apartment in the Marina district while she was out of town.  amazing. picture perfect. best. ever.

ok, ok – I’ll stop.  But do me a favor…the next time your in San Fran, try one of these places out and then attempt to not sound like a blabbering idiot that is just way too obsessed with food. I dare you.

A Birthday Surprise

HER: Here we are. Hanging out in the San Carlos Sky Kitchen awaiting our flight lesson over San Francisco. Yes, I am flying a plane.

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Don’t worry, I’ve done this once before. J surprised me for my last birthday. I was terrified. But it wasn’t scary at all. It was beautiful and amazing and such a unique way to view the city we live in.

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Just as I was starting to feel brave, our pilot asked us if we wanted to do a ‘zero G’ drop. ‘of course!’ Jason gleefully exclaimed. I was close to shoving him out of the airplane to experience this drop but I thought I would suck it up and live on the wild side. The pilot shut off the engine and we took a nose dive. It was one of the most surreal feelings I’ve ever had.

After that, I was feeling pretty proud of myself and laughed and took pictures as the pilot rocked us from side to side over Dodger stadium.

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And then, it hit me. This wasn’t going to end well. I quietly found the little white bag the pilot jokingly showed us before we took off. My motion sickness took over and I proceeded to puke my life away in that little bag. Happy birthday to me.

And now, we embark on round two. Cheers!

Hook’em Horns!

HIS: I love this time of the year. Weather is starting to cool, all of the holidays are inching closer and the ski season is right around the corner…but what I am most thrilled about is that football is back! (Side note: Carly is especially “thrilled”!)

In LA, USC dominates the football talk with UCLA running a distant second. I haven’t had many chances to go to a game since moving here, but when one of the big boys -Texas, came to play UCLA this past weekend – I just had to go. It was at the Rose Bowl and the burnt orange contingent showed up strong. It was so much fun to be back in that environment all over again. I just love college.

- wish we were still back in college

In any event, the game was awesome, and there was one thing worth noting. As we approached the stadium for early tailgating on Saturday, we were directed by traffic cops to pull our car onto a golf course. And I mean really driving on the fairway and greens. Since it was our first time there, we were a bit confused at first but then quickly realized that the stadium is surround by the course, and it becomes a parking lot on game days. How COOL is that? We literally parked right next to the 7th hole tee box. I guess this is just another one of those things that can only happen in LA. Needless to say, it was probably one of the most visually aesthetic pleasing tailgates that I’ve ever been to.

- Yes, they

As always some random FUNNIER thoughts:

– There’s nothing more amusing than watching a group of girls out at dinner ATTEMPTING to split the bill. For whatever reason, each feels the need to be exact right down to the penny and there’s absolutely no shame to even break out the calculator… “I only had the salad and water, and I flirted with the waiter so he gave me the extra low-cal dressing for free.  So with tip & taxes, I only owe $12 dollars and 46 cents”…

– I have a wonderful GF who just knows how to give a gift. Last year on Christmas, she gave me flying lessons in San Francisco, and for my birthday this year, she bought us a trip to go to SF. And this weekend, we are going up to SF for my flying lesson. I am so freaking excited!

– Women and fashion create such a fascinating combo. Just the other day, my facebook news feed was jammed with sorrow from women who missed out on the premier sale of Missoni at Target. I had no idea what it was at first, but upon investigation or rather I simply shouted “what’s Missoni?” in the office, I had an immediate education about the brand. To me, this whole craze is completely silly. If the Missoni originals are so expensive and exclusive normally, shouldn’t the Target version be considered a knock-off?

- knock offs now available at Target.

– A couple of congratulations to my buddy Matt S for almost tying the knot; Matt Z and Vinu on their engagements (no not to each other), and my boy Garrett having his first boy. Can’t wait to party with you all very soon.

- the old crew

Who do I think I am?

HER: So I’ve been a bit of a jet setter lately.  In the past month, I’ve woken up at 4am for a beautiful sunrise hike…

Masada, in Israel - a yoga pose sets the mood, doesn't it?

slept in a Bedouin tent with my group of 40+ as we were all gently awoken at 7am the next morning with a greeting of “uh, hey guys – if you want to get up, you have a camel ride scheduled in ten minutes.”  of course we do.

up & at em'

I’ve traveled to New York to spend time with family that I don’t get to see often enough.

My aunt & uncle's newest addition: Teddy

How cute is he? …looks can be deceiving.

I’ve gone back to the town that will always feel like home – the good ole’ ATL.  I spent time with my sisters, college friends, and basked in the sweet victory that I was in the South the one weekend of the year that it was 70 degrees and no humidity.  Hair = love.

My sisters (stephanie, allie) & one of my best friends Claire

Finished off with a week in Boston for an Internet/Tech conference (how nerdy am I?).  It was my first time in Boston so I was especially excited when two of my friends from my Israel trip picked me up and took me to all of the ‘must see eats’ in under two hours.  We delighted on

Stuffed clam & bacon-wrapped scallops

and I couldn’t leave without getting

mmm oysters

and of course

LOBSTER! (sorry a little blurry)

For now, my feet have been firmly planted on the ground.  That is…until this weekend. Stay tuned.

On the Road…again

HER: Hullo! It’s been a busy traveling month around these parts…I am heading out the door for (another) red eye flight! I am traveling to Boston next week for work and I was able to swing a quick stop in Atlanta beforehand! I am so so excited to see my sisters, celebrate an engagement of dear friends Kelly & Andrew, and spend a quick weekend in the city I grew up in. It’s been too long! Although I’ll be busy busy in a conference, I’m also looking forward to Boston – it’s my first time.

Anyway, I’ve got to keep this quick but I wanted to pop in with a delicious, scrumptious recipe. All of the credit goes to one of my favorite bloggers, Eat Live Run, if you haven’t heard of her already – check her out! She’s one of the first bloggers that I really got into. In any case, her Babaganoush Soup is to.die.for. Roasted eggplant, red pepper, tahini, mmmm. I made it this week – now you make it next week!

A few action items:

Roast eggplant and red pepper in oven: 400 degrees

Saute onions & garlic: easily one of my favorite smells

Mix with tahini, veggie stock, spices

Throw everything in the blender…and you’re set. Top with a little lemon juice and spiced pepper. Make your roommate shamelessly pose with soup.

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And capture her reaction. 100% natural.

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And as if I haven’t given you enough directions, here’s one I found next to a staircase at my office today:

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You can thank me later.

Sunday Night Dinner

HIS: We have a great group of friends and one of the things that we do fairly regularly is getting together on Sunday nights for dinner.  Usually, I like to man the kitchen for the main course while others chip in to prep the apps, salads, desserts and etc.  It’s a fun way to wrap up the weekend and gear up for the week ahead.

And as mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve made a dish called Tofu & Shrimp several times during these dinners. It is a very traditional and easy to make Chinese dish that is healthy and delicious. So if you are interested in trying, here’s the recipe that I stole from my mom.  The picture below shows the completed dish.

- Tofu & Shrimp - the finished product

Ingredients: 2 boxes of SOFT tofu; 1 shallot; 3 cloves of garlic; 1 bowl of frozen petit peas (or any other chopped vegetables); fresh basil or basil grinds; 1lb of shrimp (raw & no shell); corn starch; salt & pepper; red chili flakes or jalepeno; 4 table spoons of olive oil.

- the ingredients

Step 1 Prep: Mince or chop the shallot and garlic into a mixture then set aside.  Take the tofu out of the box, and with a large knife, slice the tofu into cubes (suggestion: slice it in half horizontally first, then cut vertically like a tick tack toe board).

Rinse and clean the shrimp, then mix it in a bowl with 2 to 3 teaspoon full of corn starch.  Mix evenly.

In a separate bowl, mix 2 table spoons of corn starch with water.  Whip until the mixture is even.  Set aside for later.

- slicing the tofu

Step 2 Pre-cooking the Shrimp: Warm your pan or wok with high heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Once the pan is heated, add the shrimp.  Sprinkle couple pinches of salt, pepper and red chili flakes for flavoring.  Once the shrimp turn pink/orange, it’s ready (it doesn’t need to be fully cooked at this moment, the pre-cooking should only take 1-2 minutes tops).  Empty the shrimp into a bowl or plate then set it aside for later.

- sauteing

Step 3: Using that same pan or wok, add the garlic and shallot mixture with 3 table spoons of olive oil.  Sauteed the spice mix under max heat for 20-30 seconds.  Add the peas or vegetables of your choice.  Saute for another 20 seconds.

- shallot & garlic mince mix and peas

Add the basil, jalapeno, tofu and the half-cooked shrimp at once.  Gentle mix and saute them together.  Sprinkle in salt, pepper for flavoring.  This step should be last about 30-45 seconds under max heat.

- now mix in the shrimp

- mix in the basil, jalapeno & tofu

Mix in 1/4 cup of water and bring the entire mixture to a boil.  Let it boil for 15-20 seconds then slowly add in the corn starch water mix from earlier.  Turn off the burner, taste for flavoring and mix slowly.  The sauce should thicken.

- mix in the corn starch & water mix to thicken the sauce

You’ve done it, the dish is complete.  Empty into a serving dish and It’s now READY TO SERVE!

- it's now ready to serve!!!

Questions or suggestion?  I would love hear your feedback!!!!

Almost Home

HER:  Hello, friends!  I have arrived in the US after spending 10 days in Israel.  Well, technically I touched down Wednesday evening but was pretty much a hot mess upon arrival and 24 hours after that…end of trip sickness + 12 hour flight + 10 hour time change will do that to you.  Now that I’m feeling more like a human, I wanted to check in and say hello.

I’m in New York until Saturday, visiting family and attempting to catch up on the extraordinary amount of emails that came through my inbox in the past 10 days.  That being said, I don’t have my home computer with me so have not uploaded any pictures. I will try to curtail this post as a ‘brief check-in’ and not a ‘re-cap’ post as I know no one wants to read my ramblings without some pics.

To sum it up in a few words and googled images, my days in Israel were filled with lots of…

Falafel

Shawarma

and one of my favorites: fresh veggies at EVERY.MEAL! (sans kale + broccoli but I dealt with it).

Alas my journey to the Holy Land was much more than food, if that can even be possible. It was one of those whirlwind trips that may take me a while to really sink my teeth into and be able to accurately portray the humbleness of Israel’s people, the beauty of its lands, and the amazing energy that surrounds it.

For now, I’m excited about American plugs, ice, and finally seeing a certain someone. I will be back with a more official ‘re-cap’ post and pictures but for now, I will leave you with one key take-away from my trip:

Last Friday night and Saturday day, we celebrated the Sabbath.  We celebrated a morning of sleeping in, a day of nowhere to be, a day of rest.  We washed our hands of the previous week, the good, the bad, the random memories, and started anew. It was refreshing, invigorating, and after 5+ days of intense hiking, crazy schedules, insanely hot weather (+ ugly hair), it was soooo necessary.  I’m sure your week has been filled with to-dos that were not met, unexpected annoyances, and hopefully some memorable moments in between.  But guess what?  It’s over.  You have a new week. So, as my friends in Israel would say – Shabbat Shalom.

And no, I did not go to Israel to become a Rabbi.  It’s good to be back.