Friday, June 25, 2010

The hills are alive with the sound of Japantown

I know that title makes no sense, but it's just one of those looney weeks. Let me start with yesterday...

Apparently my desk likes to eat keys. That's what I realized when I got to my door. Ooops. Luckily someone within walking distance has a spare set and I just so happened to have friend's spare keys in my purse. Go figure. Crisis averted!

Since I wasn't getting a run in, I figured I'd walk home instead of taking the bus...even though I know there are several mountains between my house and friend's house. I took a little detour thinking I was being slick and avoiding my 3 inclines (you like how I've just claimed them?). Nono. I ended up with this in front of me
and this to the left of me
UHHH. I probably would have turned around if I was running, but since I wasn't, I opted for the stairs. They just seemed a little know, for a mid-hill rest. haha.

I originally planned on a hot date with the DMV today so I could 'officially' become a California resident, but I missed the whole 'you need to bring your social security card with you' thing. For real? O well. Looks like I have a project for next Friday.

Instead of wasting away indoors, I opted to take a leisurely walk to Japantown. I had heard about Japantown from a couple bloggers, friends and tour books and had to see it for myself.

Equipped with an apple for snacking, I strolled down Union Street and popped into a couple of the shops I've run and ridden by so many times before. I also made an extended pitstop at the Lululemon :[ What? I needed a new warm running top! Lucky for me they had one on sale :)
I walked out with the Half Moon Jacket in all black (thought I'd post the lighter color so you could see the deets) and it's SUPER comfy and I hope it will be a good alternate to my favorite PRR pullover so I'm not all stankalicious on runs. A little nervous about the whole hood thing, but I'm sure it'll be fine. I'm sure I'll love having it after a run. Brrr.

I also tried on a couple of capris for fun. I looooved the way the Run:Zoom Crop fit
Unfortunately they didn't have my size in all black, so I took it as a sign we weren't meant to be. I even checked online...double sign. I was a little concerned about the puffiness/extra material in the thigh area, but when I put them on, they fit PERFECTLY. Genius. Waistband didn't pinch and the rear...not too shabby ;p I tried the purple ones on and thought they were really cute, but I knew I wouldn't wear them as much as a black pair. You should check them out!

I hung a left onto Fillmore from Union and woah. Howdy hills. Sorry to be such a baby about these hills. It's not like I didn't know they existed, but I'm from the land of the fairly flat. I'm never prepared for a random mountain when I turn a corner! One of these days I will learn. I will learn what's flat and what's not and how to get around the mountains...I promise :)

My walk down Fillmore didn't involve much shopping/browsing since there were a lot of cafes, furniture and fancy shops (no, I don't really rock the fancy designer-y shops). I did stop to take a photo of a fun restaurant
I stopped for a long time until I could get it right too haha. I don't know what I like so much about this...I think it's the colors and the rough, yet clean look? Mreh? That shadow is a building so I wonder if I could get a better shot earlier in the day. Yes, mega nerd alert!!

Eventually I found myself in Japantown *aaaaaahhhh!*
It was a little cloudy out so I wasn't exactly in a photo snapping mood, plus I was on a mission to find the Nijiya Market. I loved the Japanese market in Bethesda so I knew I had to find a replacement out here. What better place to look than Japantown. Duh!

I wandered into the Nihonmachi Shopping Center from Post Street and was a little overwhelmed by all the shops, cafes and o yeah, the giant Sanrio store. No joke. I mean, it IS Japantown...

I couldn't find the Nijiya Market and was starting to get really frustrated. I walked all around and even followed the mall map! I was about to give up when I saw this little nugget:
Ichiban Kan...Different Things. Dude, the sign just said Different Things. You know I had to walk in.

Apparently it's like a dollar store of Japanese goodies? I immediately headed to the wall of snackies, sauces and condiments just in case this whole mission to the market failed. I quickly browsed the other aisles and found some fun kitchen gadgets, ceramics and toiletries. SO random! I only walked out with a couple items :)

I wandered back into the mall to see if I missed a giant market sign and eventually came to this lovely corridor
It was between the mall and the Hotel Kabuki and I loved the colors and the lighting! I just had to take a picture. Have you noticed a little more zing in my photos lately? Well, aside from the iPhone photos. We've got Jamie to thank for that since he equipped me with a new camera upon his return :) Photos are now brought to you by this little guy:
Hooray! I'd love more than anything to transition into the world of SLR cameras, but I don't think I'm quite ready for the financial or physical responsibility. One day. In the meantime, this puppy has a ton of great functions for me to play with. Hopefully I'll get some good shots this weekend - cross your fingers for sun!

I eventually found the Nijiya Market and it was totally worth getting lost and frustrated. OMG. I walked in and had no idea what to do with myself! They had a pretty large refrigerated section of pre-made foods (side dishes, seaweed salad, bento boxes, rice bowls, sushi, dumplings, you name it!), a massive drink section (alcoholic and non), and decent sized meat and produce sections. Holy potatoes. I need to go back. Again, I was good and only bought what I knew I needed in the short term. *sigh* Don't you worry, I'm dragging Jamie there over Labor Day weekend. I'm sure we'll get into some trouble.

Want to see what I came home with?
Plus my Soba Bento dinner and some seaweed salad for tomorrow
All for the low price of $21 (that's from both markets)! Not bad! The shirataki noodles alone were much cheaper at the Japanese market than at Real Foods and I was so happy to see the brand of sesame oil I'm used to using (yeah, I'm picky about that). The green lunch bag (that definitely says 'lunchtime will make everyone happy') was $1.50 and is a great size for sammiches and snacks or a medium sized tupperware. Plus it's cute :)

My bento wasn't terrible. The inarizushi and futomaki were good (I think it's pretty hard to mess those up unless the rice is bad), but the soba was a little mooshy for my taste. Also, the checkout lady asked if I wanted chopsticks and I said yes. No chopsticks in the bag. Soba noodles are so not the same with a fork. Nope :(

So yeah, that was my day of wandering! I'm off to guzzle some water and sleep so I'm ready for my quickie 7 miler with the running group tomorrow morning. Will report back soon! Nitey :)

Chilly Willy Funk

Wednesday was just one of those days. It was chilly out (though, technically perfect running weather) and all I wanted to do was go home and cocoon in my blanket. I don't know what it is, but lately I've just been a bit down and tired. I wouldn't be surprised if it's due to living in one room with just a bed. There's just something so 'sick-day' about it. You know...that sick day mentality where all you want to do is sleep and veg? So bad.
Lucky for me the dry cleaner I planned on scoping out closed at 7 and I got home at 6:30 and desperately needed to drop clothes off. I mapped out an ambitious 5 miler from the dry cleaner but knew I'd probably cut it to 4. By the time I was a mile in, I had negotiated with myself to cut it to 3 with a walk home. At the 2 mile point I gave into the gentle tug tug at the Achilles and the general lack of energy and decided it would be a 30 min run with a bus ride home. Eh, at least I got something in.

Once I got home, I wanted nothing to do with cooking. In fact, I probably would have been content with the carrots I was snacking on. Maybe. After a lot of cabinet/fridge opening and closing and a whole lot of sighing, I decided to be adventurous with my microwave and made some Pizza Oats. Say whaat?
Inspired by the strange, but o so delicious and addictive spicy breakfast oats I've been into lately (thanks to Green Dog Wine), my dinner used oats as a base and my favorite pizza flavors were sprinkled on top. Not exactly the most attractive dinner, but whatevs. Sometimes you just need a quickie dinner!

I nuked some oats then sprinkled some shredded cheese (it may have been gruyere or manchego?) and layered some arugula on top. In a separate bowl, I threw in some finely diced eggplant (so it would cook faster), some marinara sauce, Italian seasoning, chili flakes and....KETCHUP. Just a squirt. Shh. Microwaved it for awhile until the eggplant started to get mooshy then I poured it on top of the arugula bed. Sprinkled some cheese on, then back in the microwave for another 1.5 minutes.

Don't believe there's oats under there?
Told ya it wasn't pretty. I snacked on this surprisingly decent dinner while watching a repeat of America's Next Top Model. Just a couple of observations:
  1. When Tyra stands next to Cycle 13 contestants (that are all under 5'6") she looks like a giant.
  2. I can't believe anyone would live with ants in their home and not try to get rid of them.
  3. Malagasy = people from Madagascar.
Who knew I'd learn something from reality TV? HA.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Sunday was an absolutely gorgeous day - PERFECT for wandering around a street festival!

I woke up pretty early and started out the day with a spicy oat bowl (oats, cheese, MSF maple sausage patties, arugula, sriracha, salsa, egg).
Nothing says g'morning quite like a smile in a bowl!

I also made my first french press coffee
Does that look strangely light to you?? It sure tasted light.

I hung out and cleaned the apartment a bit before heading out to meet a friend by Fisherman's Wharf at noon. We had plans to check out the San Francisco Wine Market - a "farmer's market for wine" that takes place every Sunday. Tastings are free when you buy a $20 wine tote (just have to remember to bring it each time!). I stumbled upon this while searching for free things to do in San Francisco and we thought it would be fun to check out. Unfortunately, I missed that it opens at 1pm, not noon ha!

Friend and I wandered and stopped into the Winery Collective to see what sort of tastings they offered as we killed some time. The tastings were not free, but we learned about the wines of Lake County and I took note of some tasty, bold reds I would like to own one day. We also learned that the wine market was actually closed because of Father's Day and the North Beach Festival. Good to know!

We started wandering toward North Beach for the festival not really knowing what to expect. We saw everything fenced off at Washington Square Park and decided to commit to that location for some food, beer and spots on the grass. Can I just say that poor food decisions are always made after a wine tasting??
Yep, we ate all that - mozzarella sticks, 'deep fried chicken breast' (still can't figure out why they weren't just chicken fingers), 24 oz refreshing adult beverage, and a potato & spinach knish. All while soaking up the sun and scenery!


After awhile we gave up on the grass and music and explored the streets of North Beach. We turned the corner onto Green Street and poof more food and people. Obviously we should have studied the map! At that point, we were starting to grow tired of the crowds and decided to head back to my place to hang out on the rooftop. Hey, gotta make use of it, right?

On the walk back, my eye caught a display of baked goods and something inside of each of us screamed 'Go inside! Buy some treats!'

We found ourselves inside Mara's Italian Pastries, drooling over cannolis and tiramisu. Yea, I might have a soft spot for Italian pastries. It might be my Jersey roots coming out. Prices and names are not listed for any of the items, so it was a 'let's hope we have enough cash' sort of thing. We got 2 cannolis, tiramisu and 2 chocolate rugelach (last minute addition b/c I LOVE chocolate rugelach) and hoofed it to my apartment. Check out the spread:
You bet I sent a picture to Jamie ;p

The tiramisu was excellent. The creamy part wasn't too dense or too sweet. The espresso ladyfingers - perfectly soaked and had a delicately sweet and only slightly bitter coffee taste. AAHHH! The cannolis were good, but I'd like to try the chocolate dipped one next time (I think that's the one I saw the most reviews for). Rugelach...I want more. Enough said.

We enjoyed those treats with some wine from the Winery Collective
and enjoyed the weather and views. An excellent end to the weekend :)

After all the weekend indulgences, all I wanted was a salad. So I made a mini one. Ok, who am I kidding. I made another massive salad! I promise, no more boring, big salads for dinner!

Tuesday night I made a super quick noodle stirfry for dinner. I was pressed for time, so as soon as I walked in the door, I started cooking. 24 minutes later, I had a hot bowl o dinner ready! What was this ridiculously fast dinner? Spicy Peanutty Noodles with Eggplant
Spicy Peanutty Noodles with Eggplant
1 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp mirin
2 tsp chili garlic paste
1 1/2 tbsp chicken broth or water
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
1 c baby bok choy, sliced
1/2 c baby spinach
1/2 block high protein tofu, cubed
1 package tofu shirataki noodles, boiled
4 large shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 c eggplant, diced
1/2 small onion, thinly sliced

Combine first 6 ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Saute onion and eggplant with a tablespoon of peanut sauce until eggplant begins to soften. Add mushrooms and bok choy and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add tofu and peanut sauce. Stir and lower heat to medium. Let cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in spinach and shirataki noodles, cover and cook until spinach wilts. Serve immediately.

Not bad for a totally random experiment! In hindsight, I'd probably peel the eggplant since a couple pieces were still a little tough after cooking. If I had more time I'd cook them for a little longer with the peel. I had no idea I bought tofu shirataki noodles, but I really liked them. They were only a little different than regular shirataki noodles...maybe a little tofu overkill in this dish, but I'd buy them again.

I had the leftovers the next day for lunch - still yummy!! Hooray for my first noodley stir fry!

To counteract the super savory sauce, I snacked on some cherries for dessert.
Good thing I ate them because one more day and I think they'd be too ripe!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Oops I did it again

Man, the days are just zooming past me! It's hard to believe that June is almost over! So much for avoiding massive photo dump posts :\

I was pretty bummed after Jamie left last Wednesday so I tried to load up my Thursday with a nice long run and a light dinner.

I mapped a 5 mile route from my apartment (very first one!) that took me down Union Street for some fast window shopping, up that silly Fort Mason hill, along the Embarcadero, and through the Financial District where I snapped a quickie photo
I got up close and personal with the Transamerica Pyramid before heading up some monster hills through Chinatown. Yep, I failed to read the elevation chart on (and by failed, I mean I obviously don't understand how to use it) and was greeted by a series of serious hills about 3/4 of the way through my run. WTF?

Thankfully I didn't have to dodge people in Chinatown (note to self, Chinatown is surprisingly empty around 7pm)! If only you could see my face as I stopped at this intersection...
That was only the second incline. I didn't even have the energy to take a picture of the 3 inclines to my apartment. Oy. I think the saddest part is that Jamie and I walked up those last 3 inclines...I KNEW those were there. D'oh! One day I'll share those gems with you...

After all that, I was too exhausted to even think about dinner (let alone get creative with the few grocery items I had) so I popped into the Top O' the Hill Market at the corner of Leavenworth and Union (it is in fact, located at the top of the hill). After wandering around the small market like a lost child, I walked out with some ingredients for a ghetto taco brown rice bowl. Oh my goodness. SO ghetto. You think I'm kidding? I wish I took a picture...chicken strips, brown rice, salsa, taco cheese and avocado. It was not pretty. I did grab a can of refried beans, but soon realized I didn't have a can opener. FAIL!

The market wasn't too bad...definitely pricey and there's a limited selection of food. I'd probably go there in a pinch, but one weird thing I noticed - it's always closed when I pass by? Bizarre.

My Safeway delivery was scheduled to arrive Friday afternoon and I was really excited to finally fill up my cabinets! Since I don't really trust others to pick out produce for me, I only got canned/heavy foods and pantry staples delivered. The rest I picked up on my walk home :)

First stop of the day was Cheese Plus. I'm trying not to spend a ton of money so I refrained from splurging on all their goodies. I walked out with sherry vinegar (what? I've been searching everywhere for it!), a bag of arugula and some Sabra Supremely Spicy Hummus (I've missed you!). I also found out that they do knife sharpening once a week, unfortunately it's not free :(

I found myself wandering into Real Foods next. I think this place is a little too expensive for regular groceries, but they do have a great variety of produce and food. I grabbed a couple fruits, yogurt and took note of the other interesting options they had to offer. I was surprised at how well I controlled my urges to buy!

I was really just holding out for Polk Street Produce. Ok, I have to admit that the first 3 times I walked into the store, I managed to miss ALL the fresh produce they have sitting outside. Obviously I'm a space cadet. Jamie mentioned he saw some good produce (in particular, some champagne mangoes) so I figured I'd stop in.

I grabbed some cherries, a few berries, some salad greens and toppings and headed home in time to greet the Safeway man with my goods. Woo! To celebrate, I made myself a massive salad:
I mixed some salad greens with my arugula, threw in some pickled beets (yay!), corn (double yay!), green pepper, avocado, hearts of palm and some deli chicken. Topped it off with some Brianna's Home Style Poppyseed Dressing:
SO yummy and SO not healthy. I'm usually not a creamy dressing person, but ever since I had this on a salad at Cafe Capriccio I've been hooked! It was actually a great addition to the salad :) Fabulous end to the week!

Saturday morning took me on a bus adventure to the other side of the city. Why? For a 10 mile run with the running group, of course! Our run started off at the Beach Chalet parking lot on the Great Highway at 9:30am. My morning started a little after 8 for my hour-long, 2-bus commute. Woah. It actually wasn't too bad. Now that I know how to get there, I might be able to nap next time ;) The bus stops right before the ocean!
Hey, ocean!
Oh Great Highway....we meet again. Not going to lie, I may have gotten a little choked up remembering marathon #1. *insert laughing at my nerdy sentiment here*

We headed south along the bike path and back to put in 4.5 miles before heading north on the Great Highway for an additional 5.5 through Golden Gate Park. Running along the path immediately reminded me of Saturday runs in DC/VA. It was fairly flat and quiet with a little greenery for good measure.

Running through the park - not as fun. I think it's because we stuck to a dirt path and you know how I am with unpaved paths...yeh. I also found out that we were running a very long and gradual incline to our turnaround point (the De Young). Jeebus. I don't know what happened (perhaps my gel kicked in or maybe it was the slight downhill), but a little while before the turnaround point, I got this freak burst of energy and next thing you know I'm zooming through the next 3 miles! It felt awesome! Ended up finishing in 1:42...not bad for first long run back.

I was STARVING by the time I got home and wasn't really looking forward to cooking breakfast on my own so I opted to splurge on brunch. I paid a visit to Rex Cafe since it didn't look like it would mind my post-run look. I sat at the bar, guzzled a couple glasses of water and chowed on this monster:
I got the California Omelet (avocado, jack cheese, fresh salsa, & sour cream, served with home fries & toast) because you know I love avocado. Oh, did I mention the massive side of ham I ordered? Had no idea they'd give me a giant plate with 3 slices. Dang.

I ended up only eating about 1/3 of my omelet because it was just too rich. I had no idea they'd shove a ton of avocado inside the omelet on top of the cheese...WAY too rich. I guess it's a good thing I got that side o ham. I ended up eating that with potatoes.

Walked home with the intent to be productive after my shower, but ended up vegging the rest of the day. I forgot how tired I get after the first couple long runs of training season. Useless! To counteract my ridiculous post-run meal, I made another massive salad for dinner. Yep. Had to be done.

What's your favorite post-long run meal? Favorite post-long run activity?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Aaaand we're back to running!

After a good 2 week break (though, I'm not too sure I'd call it a break with all the stuff I got done) from running, I made my triumphant return on Tuesday night.

I wanted to introduce Jamie to my Tuesday night ritual and all the fun people I've met so far. I don't think either of us was really prepared for a 5 mile run. Nope. Not at all.

It was a gorgeous day for a run with just a touch of wind. My stupid bus never showed up and I started panicking about making it in time. I got creative with alternate bus routes and ended up getting dropped off a few blocks further than originally planned. I booked it to meet Jamie and then we jogged a bit to get to the Marina Green in time.

Plan was to head over the Fort Mason hill and see how I was feeling once we hit the turn around for 4 miles. I started out feeling a little pukey and tired (I think I was just really worked up from being late and running to the run) and I definitely felt that 2 week break. Yeeh. Not fun.

Jamie and I ended up doing 5 miles and I barely had enough energy to shuffle back up the Fort Mason hill at the end. Then I looked at my watch. We were running well under 10 minute pace. OH. That's why. D'oh! We ended up finishing in 48 minutes and even though my legs weren't tired, my lungs were. Tsk tsk tsk!

What kept me going the whole time? Knowing that group dinner was at Barney's Gourmet Hamburgers (yeah, I need a week of meat detox ASAP)! I browsed the menu earlier that day and the turkey burger craving hit.
To start, Jamie and I split a half order of Sweet Potato Fries. They definitely lived up to their reputation :) I kept things simple and ordered a Barney's Turkey Burger (flame-broiled ground turkey. Served with fresh red onion, tomato, lettuce & pickle). I also opted for some American cheese on my burger. What? I actually prefer American cheese over Cheddar on my burgers. There's just something about a Kraft Single that screams backyard bbq.

My burger was ENORMOUS. It was almost the size of a CD! Don't worry, it wasn't super thick...just alarmingly flat big. Anyway, I thought it was cooked well...flame broiled - check. Cheesy goodness - check. Lots o ketchup and mustard - check check!

Jamie opted for a fancier burger. He got the Guacamole Burger (burger with guacamole and sour cream) and it looked super messy.

That's it for this quickie non-photo post! More to latest project: making meals on the cheap. Stay tuned. It should be interesting.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A tropical retreat in the middle of the city.

What better way to start the week than dinner with family at a delicious restaurant?

Say what? Family?! Yep. You heard me right. I have second cousins that live in the Bay Area and we planned to meet up for dinner downtown Monday night. It was really great seeing them and catching up over delicious Indonesian food at Borobudur Restaurant downtown.

Since I've really only had a couple Indonesian dishes before, Jamie and I put our tastebuds in their hands and couldn't have been happier with the result! Are you ready for the barrage of drool-worthy dishes??

To start, we split a dessert-y drink called Es Candol (rice flour cake with ice & palm sugar syrup)
Ok, that description makes it sound like you're eating cake and ice. I'd describe it more like little jelly bits floating around in a sweet, creamy, icy drink. It's not too sweet and the palm sugar syrup gives the whole drink an interesting depth of flavor. The jelly bits aren't quite like the bits in grass jelly drinks, nor are they like the pearls in bubble tea. I think they're somewhere in between...or a tad bit firmer. Either way - fun and yummy!

After we sipped on first dessert, the food started coming...and didn't stop. First up was a plate of Bakwan Jagung (fried corn fritter). Right up my alley ;)
These were a little closer to the fritters I've made than the ones we had last week and I was a big fan of the slightly spicy dipping sauce.

Next up was Roti Prata (pan fried layered bread served with curry dipping sauce)
I've only had stuffed roti before, so when this came to the table, I expected it to be filled with a delicious savory meat. Wrong-o. The light, crispy, slightly chewy bread was fantastic on it's own. The sauce...omg, I could have drank it straight out of the bowl :[

I kept things civilized and took a fork and spoon to the next dish - Gado-Gado (steamed vegetables, tofu, potato, egg & shrimp cracker with peanut dressing)
I must have been eating some ghetto Indonesian food in the past, because I've never had gado-gado that looked or tasted like this. This was more stew-y looking and warmer than I've had and although I enjoyed it, I think my tastebuds just weren't expecting the warmth.

I don't think the 'buds were expecting the flavor explosion that came next either. A plate of Mie Tek Tek (spicy Java noodles stir fried with egg, vegetables and chicken or maybe I forget).
This noodle dish had a nice spicy flavor that wasn't too in your face. It also wasn't too greasy. Very nicely done :)

Then came my favorite Indonesian dish - Rendang (Sumatra beef stew cooked with spices in coconut milk sauce)
This version was actually a little milder than ones I've had in the past. I used to get this all the time at Cafe Asia in DC and I remember it being spicier. The familiar flavor was definitely was just lacking in the spice. Not a bad thing, just different. I still heart me some stewed beef.

A little veggie break was necessary so we got some Tumis Kangkung Bawang Putih (sauteed water spinach with garlic)
Dark green vegetable with garlic...SOLD! After looking up the dishes, I noticed they serve a version of this with shrimp paste chili. Betcha that is amazing. I think I'll have to go back and try it.

To close out dinner, we had some Ayam Goreng Kalasan (fried honey chicken)
Oh. My. Goodness. First of all, I had no idea it was fried because it didn't look or taste fried. Second of all, the meat was so tender and slightly crisp and sweet on the outside...phenomenal! I probably could have eaten just this with a side of coconut rice. *sigh*

We couldn't leave without dessert! Thank goodness for super light and refreshing tropical asian treats ;)

Jamie and I split Es Campur (mixed tropical fruits with shave ice, condensed milk, chocolate & raspberry syrup)

This reminded me of halo halo, minus the beans, plus chocolate. There's just something about the mixture of shaved ice, condensed milk and tropical fruits that makes me happy. It reminds me of summertime and my mom busting out a super old school blue and white plastic ice shaver thinger. There was no auto shaved had to dump the ice in and turn it by hand! Ah summer. Ah jackfruit. Ah happy happy dessert!

After all that food, we got a couple pictures and mine definitely reflects how I was feeling afterward haha. So full I was wobbly! haha.
Do you have a particular food or dessert that reminds you of summertime or triggers happy thoughts?