Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Rain Loves On Manila

Just found this blog from Nylon magazine. It speaks for itself. If you want to help, just follow this blog and pass it along :)

"Rain Love on Manila is a not-for-profit design cause for the benefit of the victims of tropical storms that started with Ketsana/Ondoy in the Philippines. Manila's drenched in garbage-strewn water that washed away our loved ones and our hard-earned possessions. It's time to weather the storm with a showering of compassion."

Much love & respect

Monday, November 30, 2009

Coconut Ginger Red Snapper with Bok Choy

As an avid lover of Iron Chef, I was instantly inspired in the Wholefoods seafood section when we made eye contact. There it was, laying in it's bed of ice, begging to be cleaned, cooked, loved, respected and consumed.

My secret ingredient:
A whole red snapper

It took me back to memories of my childhood, when my mom would make traditional Filipino dishes with a whole fish, and friends would come over to the house and politely cover their noses and wonder "What the hell is that smell?" (sidenote: this is not a negative comment towards my mother's cooking in anyway, just to the people that grew up with a strict diet of pizza and burgers)

I figured it was finally time to be a grown up in the kitchen and attempt to create my very 1st whole fish dish. "Coconut Ginger Red Snapper with Bok Choy"

The ingredients:
The must have staples: Olive Oil, Salt & Black Pepper
Miscellenous: Tomatoes & Long Green Pepper
Fresh Ginger & 1 can Coconut Milk
Classic combo: Red onion & Garlic

The sides: Bok Choy and White Rice

First, you must heat your Coconut Milk in the skillet for about 8-10min. Mince your Onions, Garlic, and Ginger. Add to the Coconut Milk. Let cook for another 1-2min.

(Tip: save a tspn of your already chopped minced garlic, you'll need it for your bok choy later)

Second, start your rice, so it's ready when you're ready! If you don't have the convenience of a rice cooker, it's just a ratio of 1:1 (1 part rice to 1 part liquid). Here is also when you want to prep your veggies, just rough chop the tomatoes, green peppers, and bok choy.

Third, stuff the tomatoes into the opening of the fish (which should've been cleaned out by the gentlemen/women behind the counter. Also, if you ask nice, they will scale the fish as well). Season it with S&P on both sides, then throw it in the Coconut Milk mixture. Depening on the size of the fish, let cook for 20-30min.

As you wait, heat some Olive Oil in a pan, and throw in your Bok Choy. It's going to look like a lot of greens, but I promise it will cook down (like spinach or kale). As it begins to cook down, add the minced Garlic.

Final thoughts: To create a dish you never thought you could accomplish, may be one of the best meals you will consume in your life.

Bon appetit!


Monday, November 2, 2009

What kind of restaurant makes you cook your own food?

Shabu-Shabu at Shabu Zen.

What is the sound of thinly sliced beef swishing in boiling hot water? And if no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

What is Shabu-Shabu you ask? Well according to Wikepeidia:

Shabu-shabu (しゃぶしゃぶ also spelled syabu-syabu) is a Japanese variant of hot pot. The dish is related to sukiyaki in style, where both use thinly sliced meat and vegetables, and usually served with dipping sauces.

Meshed in between the cluster f*** of restaurants in Chinatown, this hidden gem is located right in the middle of Tyler St. Upon entering, the lights are bright, the vibe is fast paced, and the smell is like no other. If you choose to go during prime time dinner hours, be prepared to wait an hour or even longer. Definitely DO NOT go if you have any hunger whatsoever. It will be the biggest mistake of your life. If you can't control this shabu craving of yours; I suggest you go during the middle of the week, early or late. Either way, there is little or no wait, and you can choose from 3 locations to be seated: A cozy booth, a seat at the communal U-shaped table in the middle of the restaurant or at the highly coveted bar (personally, my favorite place to dine at any establishment).

For a beverage: They start you off with hot green tea; but to enhance our dining experience, we chose Sapporo (premium Japanese beer) and a Red Bean Smoothie (yet another aquired taste of mine, but there are more delicious flavors to choose from). They also have a great selection of Japanese Sake, Beer and Wine.

While waiting for your food, there is a bowl of sauce that sits in front of you, with 4 little bowls housing different ingredients (garlic, chili flakes, scallions, black bean sauce). You mix your ingredients into the sauce, creating this magical mystery sauce that is salty, spicy, and delicious.

For an appetizer: On the repeat list are Seaweed salad, Kimchee, and Edamame; however, the must haves are the Salmon and Tuna Sashimi. A bargain at $4 for 4 pieces. They are fresh, melt in your mouth, to die for pieces.

For an entree: You can choose a main course or if you can't choose - go a la carte. Prices range of course depending on the quality of the protein. You can get plain beef for $10.95 or Kobe beef for $38. Unless I'm in the mood for seafood, I usually choose either the Rib eye or Short rib beef.

All courses are served with an assorted vegetable plate, a choice of Udon noodle, Vermicelli, or steamed Jasmine rice (My choice: Udon noodle), and last but not least a choice of broth (My choice: Spicy Kim-Chee broth). It's optional, but to me, it's absolutely necessary.

Once your hot pot is boiling and to temperature, you're ready to eat. Now this is where the fun begins. You throw in your vegetables, being very careful not to forget about them, because things can and will get over-cooked. Then you take your beef...

...and in less than one minute, it's ready eat. My personal preference is medium rare.

"A variety of exotic garnishes and sauces are provided with each meal for dipping the seafood, meats and vegetables, after cooking them in one of our delightful homemade broths."


16 Tyler St., Boston, MA

80 Brighton Ave., Allston, MA

Final thoughts: It most definitely satisfies the soul, on a cold brisk fall evening, but it can be enjoyed all year round. Shabu Zen is a sensational do-it-yourself treat.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Mall vs. The Market

Saturday 10.03.09

The Mall: The Natick Collection

Leave it to the unpredictable eastcoast weather to ruin the one weekend I have off each month. It's raining. But of course, one must find a way to keep entertained... and so I was off... to the one covered place most call sanctuary: the mall.

The enviornment: enveloped by mass production, over-priced merchandise, the cheesy walk way rug straight from the 70's, the food court, the mother's with their "I have a baby, I own the road, so get out of my way " baby strollers (you know who you are...), and the teeny bopper mallrats... OMG FML

The purchase: With the choice of buying something that everyone will have or buying an amazing piece that may just leave you bankrupt (i.e. Alexander Mcqueen black leather skull open toe ankle booties. Drool.) I chose neither. Leaving the mall with nothing to show, except a new iPhone :)

Final thought: Don't get me wrong, the Natick Collection has variety and a good selection (i.e. Nordstrom Shoe Salon... sigh). To be completely honest, if I were to never step foot into another mall again, I wouldn't miss it.

Sunday 10.04.09

The Market: SOWA South End Open Market

Today the weather is on my side; it's a sunny yet crisp afternoon. My favorite season for fashion: the fall. The perfect time to play with layers and accessorize... and that's exactly what I did. Pairing a long black tunic with my American Apparel leather leggings, I throw on my BCBG black & blue plaid oversized jacket, belted of course for the added volume. I throw on my deep red Mizmooz leather boots w/ military style button detail and last but not least, I accessorize with my yellow with splashes of turquoise necklace by Kazuri beads from Kenya.

"Kazuri, meaning small and beautiful in Swahili, is fair trade. It has handmade ceramic jewelry and pottery crafted in Nairobi, Kenya. It is a place of hope for single mothers."
(or just google: Kazuri Beads Kenya)

The enviornment: Surrounded by vintage, antiques, original pieces and one-of-a-kind artwork, organic foods, fresh baked brownies... (deep sigh of relief...)

The purchase: Artwork, vintage egyptian style necklace, and a gold w/ jade stones antique ring

"Boston's original weekly outdoor artisan market."
Final thought: If you love the challenge of the hunt, finding that hidden gem, add SOWA to your list of things to do and places to go!


Monday, September 28, 2009

Vintage + Truffle Ketchup = So.ME

Tuesday 9.22.09

Happy 1st day of fall :)

Portland, ME may not be 1st on everyone’s list as a culinary destination, but with the suggestions made by friend and foodie extremist AH, we knew we were in for a treat… and it was more than we could’ve imagined.

1st stop: Duck fat. Now the name may throw you off, but I was intrigued. We decided to keep it a light lunch knowing what the future held for us, so together we split the Corned Beef Tongue Reuben. So juicy and so tender. Along side that, a large side of Belgian fries served in a paper cone. Sounds boring, but here’s the kicker… the fries were deep fried in duck fat… but it gets better… pair it along side the Thai Chili Mayo and Truffle infused Ketchup… If I could, I would inject this sauce intravenously. Delectable. To wash it all down, we threw back Maine’s very own Belgian style Allagash White. Clean and crisp, garnished with a side of lemon. To end this perfectly light and delicious meal, we tried the Spicy Chocolate Beignets. Really, it doesn’t get much better than that.

“true intoxication, creamy ambrosia, irresistible layers…”


Afterwards, we toured the Old Port and hit up all the boutiques that caught my eye. To my surprise I spotted 2nd Time Around, so of course I had to go in, and of course within one minute of being in the store, I spot something I think I need. Maybe 2 things… 1st was a vintage scarf that was a must have for my collection, such a great addition to make any outfit feel classic and effortless. The 2nd was a pair of earrings that looked eco-friendly, like they were widdled from scrap metal.


Finally we check into the Eastland Park Hotel, kick off our shoes, pure R&R. It wasn’t long before we were off to continue our “food hop”.

2nd stop: Street & Company. Hearing about the freshness of their oysters, we knew we had to explore. (Side note: wearing gray knee-high belted Dolce Vita boots on cobblestone road is not recommended. Who am I kidding? It is highly recommended). Upon entering it was still early in the evening, so we were excited to see that the bar had open availability. On the menu tonight, oysters from North Haven, Wawenauk, and Winterpoint; all local, nothin’ but Maine. Naturally we start with ½ dozen to see what agrees with our palette. Upon 1st taste, we knew the Wawenauk had won us over. With its mild salinity and clean finish, it clearly was the favorite among all the diners as well.

For a little more substance, we order a taste (just a couple bites to tease your taste buds) of House Cured Bacon with Caramelized Shallots, and an appetizer of Calamari with Spicy Peperonata. Mmm mmm good.

“local seafare, rustic atmosphere, less is more, taste is real. simple.”

Our 3rd and final stop: Fore Street Restaurant. Unknowingly to us, the sister restaurant of our previous destination. Again, fortune smiled upon us, and made two bar seats magically appear. I started with a classic, Campari & soda w/ and orange garnish. Definitely an acquired taste; a hit of bitterness but delicious and refreshing. Working our way up to the top of the Open Table list, finally, it's time. They lead us to a cozy candlelit table right by the window, overlooking the Hilton parking lot (true romance). To start and accompany the meal, we order a bottle of Riesling from Germany. It complimented the “must try” appetizer, Foie Gras with fresh fig compote. Melt in your mouth ridiculous. For an entrée, we chose seafood as our route, considering all the rich flavors we had been consuming throughout the day. I order the Halibut, while he orders the Flounder; upon tasting each other’s dish (due to entree envy), we thought it best to switch completely.

To wake us from this food coma, we each order a cappuccino; to accompany the caffeine, we order the assortment of hand-dipped chocolates. The selection included milk chocolate with almonds, dark chocolate with hazelnut, dark chocolate with ginger (according to him one of the best combinations with chocolate, ever... a bold statement), and last but not least, the extremely rich and buttery chocolate lemon verbena. It was a difficult task to consume, but we made it somehow.

“organically grown, local ingredients, simple preparation without the needless complexity…” http://www.forestreet.biz/

With absolutely no room for anything, even air… we stumble back to the hotel.

Wednesday 9.23.09

Its 9:30 and our alarms sound. We check out and head down to the hotel restaurant Café 157; with little enthusiasm due to the over consumption all day yesterday, we order. Ready or not, we were geared up for some authentic Maine blueberry pancakes. Unfortunately for us, the 1st bite led to complete and utter disappointment. Could they really have served us frozen blueberry pancakes? I think so.

Full and under whelmed, we were ready for our next adventure. We head back south, destination: Kennebunkport. With no desire whatsoever, just pure intrigue, we check out the Bush estate. A quick drive by and snap shot later, we are back in the hustle and bustle of Dock Square, KBP. To be more accurate, it was more like, slow and steady. Honestly, we may have been the youngest couple there.

Being in Maine, a lobster roll was definitely on my mind. Instead, we decide to sit on the patio of The Landing restaurant, share haddock chowder, whole fried clams, and wash it all down with, what else? Allagash White. Unfortunately, this left no room for my beloved crustacean.

So many charming and quaint little boutiques around every corner, I couldn’t resist. In Arbitrage consignment shop I trust. The first amazing find of the day: a vintage Cynthia Rowley cognac leather bag with multi-colored python and metal stud detail. Modern meets boho-chic.

On the top of my treasure hunt list: the perfect broche. (Side note: I have a vintage black leather clutch from the 30’s that I purchased at an antique show, after only a few nights out in Boston, the broche had lost its beautiful mother of pearl broche. I knew I couldn’t wear it again, until I found the right statement piece to properly replace it). There it was. I had finally found it. A beautiful mother of pearl in the shape of a mandolin guitar broche, hand crafted from Spain. It was love at first sight.

Finally, there is one final shop that is a “need to expose”. Warning: you may enter, and want to purchase 75% of the merchandise. Not kidding. Unfortunately the website only has 20% of their inventory, but at least you can get a glimpse of this hidden gem.

“one of a kind, extraordinary crafts”

Final thoughts: No matter where you are, there’s always that unique treasure waiting to be found, that no one else will have, and you can call it your own. That may just be one of the best feelings in the world. Also, when entering a new city, whether it’s 5 or 500 miles away, do your research. Ask a friend, ask a stranger. The world is full of hidden culinary treasures waiting to be found and consumed.