Thursday, August 14, 2014

Summer Michigan Trip: Sleeping Bear Dunes and MacKinac Island

Last summer post! My friends and I went on a road trip to Michigan as a last hurrah before school started up again. 'Twas an amazing trip. Here's what we did:

Dinner on the first night: family combo at Al-Ameer in Dearborn, MI. Dearborn has the second largest Arab population in the US (second to NYC) and the food was incredible. Authentic hummus is on a whole 'nother level compared to what you get from the grocery store. Also, I adore the bread.

We stayed with a friends' parents for a night. This was in the bathroom for us. I was blown away.

Hike the next day at Sleeping Bear Dunes. It doesn't look that steep but trust me... it was. We hiked about 3 miles through hilly sand and it was one of the toughest hikes I've ever been on.

View on the hike back

Third day - on the ferry to MacKinac Island.


This was the islands' motto (they had at least 10 fudge shops on their main street). Unfortunately I didn't take any pics of the fudge but trust me it was heavenly. I got so fat.

We biked 8.3 miles around the perimeter of the island. Incredibly beautiful.

Spotted this cool dude...

White fish tacos for lunch at The Pink Pony at The Chippewa Hotel. I scarfed them down.

Taking the ferry back :( This is the MacKinaw bridge, connecting Michigan with the Upper Peninsula, and it's supposedly the longest bridge in North America (5 miles). Kinda impressive but kinda not lol.

We spent the last day driving back. I was too tired to cook, so some of us sent out to dinner back in Columbus at Jobu Ramen. The restaurant had poor reviews on Yelp so I'm a bit sad and confused because mine was confused. Hopefully they'll tie up loose ends and get better views with time.

My friends got this giraffe dude for me (I collect cartoon-y giraffe things for no reason...don't ask). His name is Tippy, he always gets back on his feet if you throw him, and he accompanied me on the trip. Sho cute ^^ 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Ohio State Fair

School has started up again, so I'm just about wrapping up my posts from summer (I think I have one more left?). This post is a bit late since the fair is all packed up and no longer open, but it was a lot of fun and I needed to document the crazy gluttonous food.

Turkey leg! I get this at pretty much any opportunity where it's available.

Onion blossom. Our group bet on the pig races and he won, so we got this for him (look how pleased he looks).

The suckers were surprisingly fast...

Jalapeño poppers and deep fried cheese on a stick. It says corn dogs in the back, but he went for the more extreme option.

Deep fried oreos, deep fried twinkies, and a sad dude who didn't get any :(

Chocolate-dipped cheesecake on a stick for dessert... oh man. This was tasty.

And some things that we didn't get because they're too crazy:

This just doesn't look appetizing, my brain would feel fooled ("Why would you feed me this..? I want ice cream...")

I like sweet and savory but this takes it to the extreme.

Our group by the famous butter cow (made of solid butter, my god). We look happy on the outside, but were feeling deathly on the inside because of the food. I've never been to a state or county fair before and this was pretty rad.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Steak feast again

I won a bet recently with Khoi and the prize was for USDA prime ribeye steak (lucky me). We usually like trying new recipes, but the last time we made these dishes, it was so good that I insisted we do it again. (Also because I didn't get to take pretty pictures last time, so I wanted another chance.)

Recipe by Jamie Oliver

  • 2 rib-eye steaks, about 1" thick
  • Salt and pepper
  • Rosemary sprigs (2 sprigs per steak)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Dressing the board: 1 bunch of fresh mint, 1 fresh red chili, 3 cloves peeled garlic, 1/2 lemon, 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Heat skillet over high heat for about 10-15 minutes (cast iron is best but I used an anodized aluminum  skillet since I don't have a cast iron and it worked fine). While the skillet is heating, season the steak liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Pull rosemary leaves off the stems and push them into the meat, then set aside to let it rest while you prep the board.

Finely chop the chili, mint, and garlic on a wooden board.

Squeeze lemon juice and olive oil over the chopped herbs and mix well.

Drizzle and rub both sides of the steak with olive oil immediately before searing. When the pan is hot, put the steak into the skillet (don't mess with the steak while its cooking!!) and cook each side for 2-3 minutes until beautifully browned. Be sure to protect your hands with oven mitts and turn the exhaust on because it'll be smokey!

Dat sear tho

Transfer the meat to the wooden board and coat with dressing. Let the steak rest for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

We actually only made one steak (cutting the recipe above in half), and used our second steak for steak fondue. 

Wasabi cream sauce also for dipping

Cooking a steak cube in hot oil

The spread: "dress the board" steak, fondue with two sauces, salad, and store-bought coleslaw and potato salad. We feast like royalty puhaha.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Summer New York Trip: Maisson Kayser

Another really cute restaurant that we visited on our New York trip was Maisson Kayser, a really cute French bakery/restaurant on 3rd and 74th. I usually don't pick restaurants without having heard about it first or seeing the Yelp reviews, but this place looked so cute when we walked by (especially the dessert displays...) so I managed to talk the family into stopping by for brunch. 

Tartine with grilled herb chicken, artichoke tapenade, and cherry tomatoes. This was just okay, I think it would've been better if it was warmer. The flavors tasted okay but nothing special.

Croque Madame - bread toasted with Paris ham and Gruyere cheese with a sunny side up egg. This was my favorite since I have a soft spot for oozy egg (what can I say, I'm easy to please). My sister ordered this so I kept trying to barter pieces of mine for bites of hers.

Tartine with crab, avocado, cherry tomatoes, and red onions. This was mine and while it could also be better if warmed, the flavors in this dish were great. Then again, you can't go wrong with crab and avocado... yums.

Linguini with pesto and shrimp. I really liked this one as well, the shrimp were so big and cooked just right, to the point that they were quivering but just done. I didn't think I'd be so impressed by a simple pasta dish. 

Small raspberry/lemon-based dessert sampler for sharing. T'was difficult to share because imagine trying to cut these tiny dudes into 4 pieces...

1294 3rd Ave.
New York, NY 10021
(212) 744-3100

Monday, August 4, 2014

Summer New York Trip: Cafe China

One of my favorite restaurants on my recent NY trip was Cafe China, a one Michelin-starred Szechuan/Shanghai-style restaurant in Midtown NYC. We were a little bit skeptical because a) it's not located in Chinatown and b) the could this possibly be authentic. But it was (surprisingly) -- the food was amazing and the vibe was something I hadn't experienced before.

The only word I can use to describe this place is... hipster Asian. Hanging chandeliers. Vintage art of Asian women in cotton qipao, smoking cigarettes. Prints of old school cameras. Asian waiters who spoke perfect Chinese and perfect English, and wore thick-rimmed glasses. This was the sexiest Chinese restaurant, if you can imagine such a thing.

Starters, clockwise from back: jellyfish in scallion pesto, mouth-watering chicken, and mung bean jelly. All of the dishes that we ordered were items that I've experienced before at other authentic restaurants, and Cafe China does it just as well. The mouth-watering chicken was my favorite starter and was truly mouth-watering (har har).

Chungking braised fish in red soup. This was really spicy and had a generous amount of fish. Check out how red it is...

Really good mapo tofu. It's a common and simple dish, so I'm glad that they did it right (would've been embarrassing if they didn't).

Spicy cumin lamb. The spice level on this was the highest of all the items that we ordered, almost to the point of unbearable. This was the only item that we had trouble finishing, but not because it wasn't good.

Lightly sauteed loofah. Apparently the English translation of this melon is loofah?? It's one of my favorite vegetarian dishes and it was the only dish that wasn't spicy from that night, so it was practically inhaled.

Everything was delicious, and the wall art was so sassy. Give them a try -- it's a new experience entirely from any other Chinese restaurant that I've visited. 

13 E. 37th St.
New York, NY 10016
(212) 213-2810