Friday, April 30, 2010

Last day of mini-vacay and lessons learned

I've been spoiled over the past couple of weeks. This whole not working thing has put my brain on vacation mode and it was pretty rough getting up early this morning for my first day of work. I think this is the first time in a long time that I've been out the door by 7:15. YEESH! Ah well, at least the weekend is here ;)

After randomly waking up at exactly 6:54am EVERY day this week (really? how is that even possible?), I let myself go back to sleep yesterday morning instead of going out and being productive. I figured I deserved it!

I had a leisurely morning consisting of a fruity oat bowl, some trashy TV and catching up on blogs before mapping out my afternoon.

I knew I wanted to grab lunch at Boudin Bakery at Fisherman's Wharf (I've never been so I figured I should check it out) and squeeze in a quick run. Why not combine the two?! I mapped a 2.5 mile run that ended at Boudin and planned to walk home from there. Ta daaa!
I knew I was getting soup in a bread bowl, but I wasn't sure if I wanted to go traditional with the clam chowder (I'm really not a big fan of creamy soups), or if I should try the chili. Considering I had a pretty rough run (o yes, it's been a LONG time since I've run), I thought chili would only end in disaster so chowder it was!
Sourdough bread is one of my faves (next to rye for deli sandwiches - wheat usually doesn't cut it texture and flavor-wise) - I love the crispy outside and moist, squishy, slightly sour (duh) tasting inside. Honestly, I probably could have just eaten an empty bread bowl. Just saying...

Do you have a bread preference?

I took a leisurely walk back, trying to avoid the throngs of tourists at Fisherman's Wharf - I think I may only return if friends or family are in seriously rivals the monuments and memorials during the summer months. I also learned that the camera on my iPhone isn't so bad when it's bright out. Hooray!

Met Selin for some shopping downtown (I learned the Macy's in Union Square carries premium to me. Does yours?) and then we grabbed dinner at Balompie Cafe in the Mission. Now, I've mentioned my love/obsession with pupusas know I can't say no to a cheap pupusa, even if it means stashing one in my purse.

Selin had read about Balompie on Yelp and mentioned that it had more 'flavors' to choose from, but they would be like $1 more than the last place we went to (see details here). We sat down around 8ish and put our orders in. I got one Spinach & Cheese and one Ground Pork. There was also the option to get it with corn or rice flour. I was tempted to try the rice flour, but thought that might be weird.

We waited a really long time to get our pupusas and I couldn't figure out why it was taking so long, especially since the waitress said the fillings couldn't be changed since they were already pre-mixed. I guess ours came with extra love?

When they arrived, I had no idea which one was which. I guess that's half the fun in biting into a pupusa...
I topped it with the tangy, spicy cabbage slaw and some salsa and my belly was content. Sort of. My spinach & cheese pupusa was a whole lotta cheese with specks of spinach. Not my favorite. The ground pork one was lacking...maybe I should have gotten it with cheese...or the ground pork, jalapeno, cheese one. Yes. I think that would have been a better choice.

Overall, Balompie fulfilled my pupusa craving, but I can't say it's $1 better than the pupusas at La Santaneca.

Ok, I'm off to attempt an evening run before we head off to a birthday party. Hopefully I don't run into any massive hills ;p

Thursday, April 29, 2010

You say it's your birthday

It's my birthday too...just kidding.

It IS my blog's birthday, though :)
A year ago today, after a month or so of marinating on the whole idea, I decided to take the plunge and start a blog. A few friends had suggested I blog about my cooking adventures but I was always hesitant since I couldn't imagine anyone wanting to read what I wrote. I sat down and knew I wanted to write about the three things I loved the most - cooking/eating, running and traveling. I figured it would be a great way to remember things and if people read my blog, awesome. If they didn't, not a big deal.

Who knew I'd find so many people near and far with similar interests? Who knew that a year later, I'd be blogging from a completely different city with a very different life plan mapped out? I certainly didn't expect it.

There have been some huge changes (living arrangements, jobs, etc.)
And I've swapped out these views (the views I've had for the past 10 years...memories!)

For these (so much exploring to do!)

And who knows what the next year will bring...

I hope y'all keep reading to find out :)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Back to simple, fresh, yummy food!

AHHH. I've been seriously craving fresh food! After some crazy rain cut my morning run short, I decided to make a little breakfast parfait:
I used some Fage Total 0% Greek Yogurt, honey, crumbled Nature Valley Oats N Honey Granola Bar, sliced bananas and strawberries. Here's another view because I thought it was a pretty breakfast.
So I learned that bananas and thick greek yogurt are not my favorite pairing. A little too much mooshiness going on. Bleh. Maybe I'll try nanners with regular yogurt instead.

Since it rained on and off all day, I took time to veg and unpack a few items...and by a few, I mean half a box. HA. What? I'm embracing my time off! :) I wandered around downtown for a little bit before moseying over to the grocery store to pick up a few things for dinner.

I feel like it's been forever since I've cooked a real meal in a kitchen, so I planned on making dinner for me and Selin. I grabbed some really great looking champagne mangoes the other day and figured they should be used in tonight's dinner. I also wanted something light and fresh...result? Thai-Inspired Fish Cakes with Mango Pineapple Salsa:
Thai-Inspired Fish Cakes
1 tilapia fillets, chopped
1 1/2 tbsp lemongrass, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 scallions, chopped
2 tbsp egg beaters
1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
1/4 tsp chili garlic paste
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp cilantro, finely minced
juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 - 1/2 c panko

Combine first 11 ingredients in a bowl and slowly add panko until mixture becomes thick enough to mold. Form small patties and chill for at least 15 minutes.

Heat 1/2 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp olive oil in a skillet. Cook cakes for 3-4 minutes on each side. Top with mango salsa.

Mango Pineapple Salsa
1/2 avocado, chopped
1 champagne mango, chopped
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/4 c cilantro, chopped
1/4 tsp ginger, grated
1/3 c pineapple, diced
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 jalapeno, minced
1 tbsp shallot, minced

Combine ingredients in a glass bowl and chill for at least 30 minutes.

The fish cakes had a pretty subtle flavor (I'd was hoping to achieve more of a kick/zing), but they worked well with the slightly tart, sweet salsa. I intentionally didn't puree the fish (most fish cake recipes require you to put them all in the food processor) because I wanted to maintain a chunky fish texture, not that spongy texture you sometimes get.

I think these flavors would also work great with ground chicken or turkey! A revised version of this recipe might include more lemongrass, lime and/or fish sauce...maybe some ginger?

The cakes were supplemented by a salad a la Selin
Some mixed greens, cucumber, shallot vinaigrette and feta - o so simple and delish! *sigh* All is now right in the world...I've returned to the kitchen :)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I'm heeere!!

I made it to San Francisco safe and sound :)

V dropped me off at Dulles and I kept my cool until I dropped my bags off...all 100 lbs, plus at least a 30 lb carry-on! I started walking toward security and got a little verklempt - it was finally starting to hit me. I was flying out on a one way ticket. I had packed up our entire apartment and left the only city I have known in my entire adult life. WTF was I doing?!

After my spastic day of last minute packing/tossing and my emotional outburst, I hoofed it over to the Gordon Biersch in an adjacent concourse. I was still craving ruffage so I went with the Grilled Chicken Cashew Salad (Artichoke hearts, tomatoes, cashews and feta cheese with Märzen Balsamic Vinaigrette) and the Gordon Biersch Märzen (a smooth, auburn colored Bavarian lager with a mildly sweet malty finish). That was totally an accident. I just thought it was a regular Balsamic when I ordered haha.

Also an accident - the massive salad that appeared on my table
not to mention the huge beer - pretty sure I didn't ask for the large.

I ended up eating most of the salad and only taking a few sips of beer. I remembered about halfway through that lots of ruffage and bubbles are NOT good for plane rides. No they are not.

The salad was pretty good, even mixed up with the dressing (I'm usually an 'on the side' sort of girl). Also, there was definitely goat cheese in my salad, not feta...and I liked it. The beer was tasty and refreshing as well...if only it was the regular size and I wasn't flying. Oh well.

Next thing you know, I'm boarding a plane and napping. Jamie snagged me a window seat, so when I woke up awhile later, I was greeted with this:
I thought it was a fun picture to take.

I popped out of bed around 7am PST and tried to catch up on blogs before heading out on some errands. Turns out Trader Joe's doesn't open until 9am, so I killed some time at Cafe Capriccio. I've grabbed coffee and a bagel here before, but this was my first time sitting for a leisurely breakfast.

Breakfast consisted of a pretty large mug of coffee and a beautiful bowl of Granola (with milk, bananas and strawberries).
It was a filling and nice change from the PB&J toasts I've been having! I was SO happy to see all that fresh fruit :)

After breakfast, I moseyed on over to Trader Joe's to pick up some produce essentials for my veggie packed week. I saw this package of baked tofu and decided to give it a shot:
I was intrigued by this "savory" flavor. Hi, vague name. Did some more errands and maybe took a nap mid-afternoon before making dinner...a HUGE salad:
Sliced up some of the tofu and mixed it up with some romaine and arugula blend, black beans, corn, feta, grape tomatoes, avocado and dressed it with a few spoonfuls of this:
OMG. Sweet and a hint of spice and tang. It went perfectly with all the stuff on my salad. Check out how colorful and pretty it is!
Exactly what I needed. I needed ruffage so badly and this hit the spot. The "savory" baked tofu was a little too salty for my taste. I can actually feel the puffiness happening in my fingers as I type.

I know, I know, a lame first day, but I had to adjust! My first batch of boxes arrived today so tomorrow I'll be sorting/reorganizing since I'll be moving in a month to a permanent home. I'm hoping to make some room in my day to take one of the walks in my new book :) Anyone with suggestions for places to go, things to see, food to eat, send them my way!

Toodles, DC.

Greetings from San Francisco! My last couple of days in DC were pretty frantic so I wasn't able to post as planned. Yes, I did leave some things for the absolute last minute and when V came to pick me up at 4, I was still trying to cram stuff into my luggage. Yeeh! Since the whole weekend went by so quickly, here's a brief recap:


The very last piece of mail I received at my DC address (sad!) was a package from my sister that included these goodies:
A 2010 Zagat for San Francisco, a street map, and a fun Frommer's book of 24 walks in San Francisco. These will definitely come in handy!


Storage unit trips, g'bye lunch at the office, more storage unit trips, work at the store. Busy, busy bees! My dad and I were able to crank out a lot more than originally planned so there were only a few more items that V and old roomie had to help out with the next day. YAY! For dinner, I introduced my parents to Fresh Med in Cleveland Park.
Since I was working until 8, we rocked the delivery and did some classy dining on the floor, on couch cushions, with plastic utensils. AWESOME.

My parents split the Lamb Shish Kabab Platter (Grilled tender cubes of marinated lamb, served with hommos, house salad and rice. Served with pita.) and I went with the Chicken Platter (Grilled tender cubes of marinated boneless chicken, served with hommos, house salad and rice. Served with pita.). The hummus was a little thicker than usual, but still tasty.

A couple notes...

1) They take a really REALLY long time to deliver and the food usually ends up being room temperature to cold by the time you get it. I recommend eating there or picking it up.

2) Coworkers swear by the Steak and Cheese Sandwich (Fresh sliced philly steak served with cheese, tomato, lettuce, onion and mayo.). I've never had it, purely out of principle. It's a Mediterranean restaurant...STEAK & CHEESE? Mreh?! Someone else check it out and report back. I insist.


No rest! We started early and had some help from V and old roomie to knock out the second to last storage unit trip. We filled that puppy to the brim! Yup, apparently Jamie and I have enough stuff to fill a 5'x10' unit. WTF?!

Afterward, my parents and I took an adventure to the Comcast drop off spot in Northeast DC. That place is not easy to find. Not at all. Once we got there, we had at least an hour of waiting in line. Apparently Saturday around 1pm is when everyone in the District takes a trip to Comcast to pay their bills and ask random questions. OMG. I wanted to scream "YOU CAN ASK THESE QUESTIONS ON THE PHONE OR ONLINE!" Yes, I have a hard time being patient.

Clearly it was a late lunch sort of day and I decided to take my parents to Eastern Market. We did a quick walk through of the South Hall Market and sat down for a bite at Market Lunch. My parents each got the Fresh Cod Platter (two battered and fried pieces of cod, cole slaw and a side of fried green tomatoes) and I sampled the North Carolina Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwich
and an order of Fried Green Tomatoes.
The sandwich was massive, but delightfully tangy and spicy. I love a good vinegary BBQ! This was my first fried green tomato experience and I kinda liked them. They were a little thicker than I expected (about 1/2" thick?)...I was thinking they would be thin tomato slices a la the kind you'd find on a burger. Anyone a fried green tomato guru??

Overall, it was a fun lunch experiment. I was bummed that most of the menu items were deep fried (did I mention I needed a food detox after all this on the go eating?) and pretty expensive in my opinion (I think it came out to $40 for the 3 of us?). I also thought there was too much BBQ in relation to my bread. I'm just saying...

After a quick jaunt through the outdoor market and a trip to Jamie's mom's house, we came back for more packing and some resting. I needed a time out so I sat on a pillow and made this fun setup:
Not really sure why I thought we could watch TV on a 13" monitor. HA. I eventually started packing again with a couple breaks to watch episodes of Glee. Yes, I know I'm way late to the party, but I kept hearing about this Madonna episode from friends so I figured I'd check it out. I love the snark and subtlety!


While my parents were at church, I rushed to pull a last minute storage unit batch together. How do we have so much stuff?? We stopped at Cosi in Friendship Heights for breakfast on our way back from the storage unit. I haven't had Cosi breakfast in a long time and it turns out my mom has a thing for Cosi since she went to one with my sister (I guess there aren't any near my parents' house).

I tried one of their new Breakfast Wraps
The Spinach Florentine (eggs, spinach, Swiss & artichoke spread wrapped inside a warm wheat tortilla) was screaming my name and I'm pretty sure it's because it had spinach in its name.
It was ok...kinda lacking in the flavor. I poured almost half of the pepper shaker on my wrap because it needed something. I'm not even sure where that artichoke spread went. Eh. Probably won't get that again.

When my parents left, my apartment looked like this:
And the bedroom still had my bed AND clothes in it. Bad news. It was not easy to find motivation to sort and pack my clothes. Instead, I procrastinated (because I'm so good at it) and watched some Glee, listened to my Adios DC Playlist and did some random packing.

Too bad my playlist included songs like these that just oozed memories:

Each of these songs, and the rest on my 2 CD set, remind me of people, places and events. Do any songs trigger vivid memories for you?

Low productivity. Shame on me.

I did dinner at Great Wall Szechuan House with friends and old roomie. Perfect end to the weekend and my time in DC. We ate family style, as usual, and split some Baby Bok Choy (for my green veg requirement), Ma La Double Cooked Pork, Ma La Mapo Tofu and Chicken with Black Bean Sauce. Since we tend to be repeat offenders, you can see pics here. Just know the baby bok choy isn't on the menu, but worth getting. The chicken was tasty, but the texture was a little too slimy.

Stay tuned for my first day in SF!

Friday, April 23, 2010

A week of good weather, great friends and tons of boxes

Hey all, I'm closing up shop here in DC and preparing for my big move on Monday. Eeek!

I think all the frantic packing/organizing has distracted me from the fact that I'm leaving a ton of good friends behind in a city I've grown to enjoy. It didn't hit me until my parents and I were driving around the city and passed a bunch of places I used to live. All of a sudden I got a case of the warm and fuzzy memories and got a little sad about leaving.

I may have been raised in New Jersey, but DC is my home.
I "grew up" here during college and DC has been home for a really long time. I've seen restaurants and bars come and go and there are tons of places/areas in DC that just ooze memories...

Yeah, I think I'm sad to leave.

Did I mention I started an "Adios DC" playlist? O yeah, as if sifting through stuff in the apartment wasn't enough, I've made a soundtrack to pack to - songs that bring back memories over the past few years. HA.

Saturday night was my going away hurrah and we started things off right at the Big Hunt in Dupont.
Elementary school friend came all the way down from Baltimore and another friend even bussed down from New York. They started the evening with me at exactly 8pm and by 8:15, I had a Black Velvet (I'm sure I've mentioned how I always order this at the Hunt) and Chicken Tenders in front of me as the three of us caught up a bit. Couldn't have asked for a better start to the evening!

Awhile later, everyone else trickled in and the next thing you know we've got a big long table of fun friends! Now, I don't know about you, but apparently I have a few different circles of friends...and not all of them have met. Thankfully my friends are awesome and can get along wonderfully with others :)

So it only seemed appropriate that I start my last week in DC on a frantic note....cramming in as much as possible. I think I should stop doing that. I slipped out of a meeting on Monday so I could rush off to meet some old coworkers at our standby sushi spot, Kaz Sushi Bistro. I haven't been to Kaz in awhile, plus I wanted to enjoy one last workday lunch with them :)

Met up with Quinn and another friend of ours and we chatted over some delicious sushi:
I tried to toss it up a bit from my regular order and went with a Spicy Scallop Roll, White Tuna Toro with Scallions and an order of Salmon Nigiri. Just the right amount of food. The thing I love about Kaz's sushi, aside from the quality, is that the ratio of fish to rice is perfect. I hate when I go to sushi restaurants and they overload on rice or have ginormous rolls. Totally unnecessary.

Monday didn't stop there. After working both jobs, I managed to find some time to meet up with a friend for a long overdue catch up session at Sign of the Whale. My friends and I used to frequently visit the Whale in college and immediately following college for happy hours. If I remember correctly, nachos at the Whale = awesome.

Since we were pretty low key (and the bar was empty at 8:30 on a Monday), I grabbed a drink and a salad that was just ok. We weren't that excited about the menu, but the Cobb Salad seemed like an ok choice at the time. I was that annoying person that requested it without a lot of items and dressing on the side and then ended up eating around the other stuff. I hate when people do that. Sorry, not my favorite meal.

Tuesday brought Lost and Sloppy Joes (or as friends were calling them, Sloppy Karenas) at a friend's in Woodley Park. Ahh memories while walking through my old neighborhood! The weather was perfect for eating outside and the Sloppy Joes rivaled my mom's....definitely need the recipe!

Friend also busted out some homemade popsicles. Of course I sampled one of each - Lemonade with Strawberries and a plain Blood Orange.
I want a popsicle maker/kit/doohicky thing.
I ended up leaving my camera there so that's where the food photos stop for the week. I picked my camera up later on and found this gem:
Wednesday was a day full of packing and waiting for the parents to come down. I shipped my first batch of boxes to California (pretty sure the Cleveland Park post office hates me now) and celebrated with a night of wings and beer at Nanny O'Brien's with running store coworkers. Have I already mentioned the Wednesday 25 cent wing deal?? It's effing glorious and worth checking out. I used to be sold on the wings at the Hunt, but these are much meatier and they have a bunch of different flavors! Lots of delicious food and maybe a few shots were consumed. I'll definitely miss everyone and I think this is where the sadness about leaving kicked in. *BIG SIGH*

After Wednesday night's antics I managed to pop out of bed at 9am for a day of packing and trips to my storage unit. I think this is the most strength training I've ever done hahaha. My dad and I knocked out a ton of boxes and furniture so I was able to cancel my Saturday Uhaul. Yay saving $20.

Yeesh. This is one mammoth post. I should get crack-a-lackin on some packing! I'm hoping to squeeze one more post in before I leave on Monday! Hope everyone is having a good weekend!