Friday, January 31, 2014

Happy Chinese New Year!

 Half of our spread

 Dumplings of course. We even have a dumpling ladle, look.

 Er Halloween cookies? o.O

 BBQ pork belly, I want the recipe for this...

 Dan dan noodles, so spicy but so good

 Shrimp stir fry

 Mapo tofu

 Fish for good luck

 Scallion pancakes

 Khoi made a Peking duck, boy am I impressed...

 Serena is pleased

My green tea ice cream on green tea nian gao. It's symbolic because nian gao is sticky rice cake (mochi cake), but the Chinese words are also a homonym for "higher year." May you all have a higher, better, more prosperous year ahead :)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Columbus Restaurant Week 2014: The Refectory

The Refectory is likely the closest you'll get to a Michelin restaurant in Columbus. Yelp gives it four dolla signs ($$$$) so it's not generally affordable, but during Restaurant Week it isn't as bad so I had the opportunity to dine here, thanks to someone very sweet. Lucky me ^^

What a cool bar. I'd love to come out here to get drinks on a regular basis...but it's not exactly practical nor cost-effective.

Alpaca terrine with pistachio, black olives, cranberries, and pumpkin vinaigrette. Supposedly you can't find this dish anywhere else in Ohio or even in this country. I read somewhere that alpaca supposedly tastes like ostrich which tastes like a gamier version of buffalo? Dunno and couldn't tell, but it was surprisingly delicious. I felt a tad guilty for enjoying this because alpacas are so darn cute.

Lobster bisque veloute with blue crab meat. Really well made with hearty chunks of meat, although it was a touch saltier than what I would've preferred. Khoi is pointing at the lionheads on the side of the bowl, because they are awesome.

Roasted spiced duck magret with Minnesota wild rice, duck bacon, and cassis bordelaise. This was a really great dish, with the duck cooked perfectly -- just the right tenderness, and not too fatty. Yum.

Roasted rack of lamb. The menu didn't describe how it was prepped, but it was plated similarly to the duck. Also great -- in fact I might've liked this better, but they're really neck to neck.

Vanilla creme brulee with citrus sable cookie. Creme brulees all taste fairly similar to me, but this is definitely on par with some of the better ones that I've previously tried.

Chocolate bombe with Godiva white chocolate center, Szechuan chocolate truffle, and raspberry coulis. The truffles were pretty interesting so I'm going to try and make them sometime soon. Can't figure out if the e in bombe is silent...

I had such a great food weekend so I'll be feeling sad over the next few days to be eating plain ol' weekday food that I cook for myself... first world problem, I know. I'd love to return to try their lighter/cheaper bistro menu too, but Restaurant Week is definitely the best way to sample highlights off of the regular menu. The Refectory is one of the more expensive R-week options ($35 pp for three courses + alcohol/tax/tip) but it's a steal compared to how much it would cost to dine here any other time of year.

1092 Bethel Rd.
Columbus, OH 43220
(614) 451-9774

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Table

By this point, I've lived in Columbus for awhile now and have tried a significant number of restaurants. The funky thing about living in a smaller city is that I feel self conscious taking food pics because I'm the only one who does it, whereas I fit right in with all the other Asians taking pictures of food in bigger cities like DC. But my DSLR has been feeling a bit neglected recently, so I figured I'd give the little guy some attention.


The Table is my new favorite brunch spot, replacing my old standby: Katalina's. This is because brunch tends to fall into two categories -- dirty vs. clean. By dirty, I mean more hole in the wall and I leave feeling as if I ate way too much grease early in the day. Katalina's is amazing but it falls under this category so that I'm in a food coma for the remainder of the day. The Table is cleaner: the ambiance is industrial rustic with a touch of hipster, and the food leaves me satiated and energized so that I'm in a happy place for the rest of the day :)

 Grumpy Khoi because he's hungry...not because he didn't want me to take pics of him...

Fruit side: medley of pomegranate and a bunch of other yummy things that I couldn't identify, topped with basil. The basil complements the fruit pieces so well, who knew.

Dutch baby with creme fraiche, wine poached pears, and blackberry jam. A Dutch baby is a fancy pancake, cooked in a cast iron skillet. The pears paired really well with the creme fraiche and jam. The menu also had a bigger version called the Dutch mama, but Dutch baby is just a much cuter name.

Akoori (Indian scrambled eggs) with onions, garlic, tomatoes, green chilies, and cilantro on toast. This is one of their specialties and the first time I've tried eggs styled in this way. Way yummy, although it could use more toast to balance out the egg:toast ratio.

I got a croissant to go which I devoured in the library later that afternoon. I'm totally eying the dinner menu although that would be for a special occasion, since the dinner menu is significantly more pricey than brunch. This is a wonderful brunch spot, not only because the food is great but also because the decor is so pretty that I would hang out here all the time if I could.

21 E. Fifth St.
Columbus, OH 43201
(614) 291-4555

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The holidays are ending

I always get a little sad near the end of break. On the first day, it feels like there's so much time to do all the things I want to do. Sometime halfway through, I get this sinking feeling when I realize it'll be ending soon. I'm not having a ball back home in Alabama but...I'm not looking forward to studying yet, and I have to pep talk myself out of this mild depression so I can make the most of the remaining break. I have so much to look forward to back in Columbus, right?

The main project was to help cook for our holiday party, and I'm glad that I managed to get a good deal of cooking and baking in. I don't have specific New Years resolutions, but being healthy is always a priority so maybe I won't be tempted to make so many sweets in the 2014 since I got a lot of it out of system.

Apps and side dishes, mostly featuring things with names I don't know. I helped with the prep for many of these, but the only thing I was in charge of here was the salad.

Mains: mom's salmon and my secret ribs whose recipe I cannot disclose. They were crazy popular.

Dessert spread: macarons by me, fancy looking cake from Costco, cactus sugar cookies (but they look like a plate of hands) from my sister who is a little strange... and I made a tiramisu which is not pictured here.

My proudest recent accomplishment was improving my macaron technique. When I first started making them, I could only get about half of them to look somewhat decent, and in this batch only two of them failed! They're still a pain to make though...I'd refrain from buying them much myself but they're still nice to get as presents ;)

And lastly my tiramisu, garnished with sliced strawberries so that it looks more bougie than it already is.

In addition to everything I've made for the party, I also made scones/ brownies/ cupcakes in the past couple of weeks, and I'm planning on making a quiche or two before I leave so...ya. It might've been a tad overboard.

And finally, my favorite homemade food porn from 2013...

 This tart

 This lamb dish

 This chocolate pb cake

And this fruit cake because I think it could be art :) Happy new year!