Sunday, December 4, 2016

Life Updates and Recent Eats

Happy holiday season friends! This has been an inconsistent year for me with regards to this blog, but I really appreciate the few who stop by to check in on my new posts. I've been traveling a lot recently for interviews, but I really wanted to put this out there because I haven't posted a summary post like this in I don't remember how long. So here's some food to drool over:

Recent Cooking Projects

Tyler Florence's The Ultimate Paella recipe. I skipped the lobster tail since I wasn't making it for a special occasion and I can't afford to eat lobster on any regular 'ol day, but otherwise I followed the recipe exactly and it was extremely delicious. I've always liked the concept of paella but I had never ordered it at a restaurant so I didn't know if this tasted legit or not when I first tried it. A couple weeks after making this, I finally ordered a paella while dining at Barcelona Restaurant, and my dish was pretty similar to theirs so I think Tyler Florence is right on the money and his recipe is definitely worth making again and again. 

Pasta With Vodka Sauce, Prosciutto & Arugula from The Financial Diet. In contrast to the last recipe, this one was more of a flop for me. I can't tell if it's genuinely not tasty or if I just don't like prosciutto served like this. However, it's a worthwhile dish to attempt since it's quite simple and looks very impressive, and Khoi said that he loved it (was he lying? I'll never know...)

Mango Sticky Rice. I'm not linking the recipe for this because I hated the one that I used, but let's admit that the finished product is beautiful. This is one of my favorite desserts to order at Thai restaurants because it's just so fruity and creamy, and when prepared properly each bite feels like I'm on vacation. It's one of the dishes where I'm planning to try several variations to hopefully find the perfect one. Sadly, mangos are out of season now but perhaps a spring/summer project? 

Thomas Keller's Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb (I'm pretty sure our version looks better than the photo on the James Beard Website ehehehe). This was actually Khoi's project and I think that he did a stellar job with the execution. It also really made me realize how truly talented Thomas Keller is, and how much I would love to return to Ad Hoc again. 

Pork Belly Eggs Benedict with the pork belly prepared in the sous vide (sorry I don't have a better photo of the food so you get my stupid smile instead).  I've been traveling so much recently so Columbus hasn't been my home base. Before I left, I hosted bunch for a bunch of friends and ambitiously decided to prepare eggs benedict for a crowd of 10, and it turned out surprisingly well. Fantastically actually. The pork belly did not need to be cooked in the sous vide, but it's so incredibly delicious because it just melts in your mouth when made this way, and it was definitely a crowdpleaser.

Turkey pot pie with Thanksgiving leftovers. There was no recipe since I just threw the filling together from ingredients that I had on hand, and the dough is Pillsbury. But as someone who doesn't like leftover turkey, I think this is the tastiest thing. I made it for dinner last weekend, and my mom served it with stir-fried clams and chicken feet lol. 

Best Things I've Eaten Out Recently

Cerdo (pork chop) from Barcelona. They really outdid themselves with this dish, because as someone who has tried a wide variety of cuisines, I genuinely think that this is the best preparation of pork chop that I've ever eaten. It was just so...tender and delicious and beautiful, and I fell more in love with it with each bite. I don't think this is something I'd be able to recreate myself, and I would totally order this again. Now pretend you didn't read this, dine there tomorrow, and order this. If you don't have insanely high expectations, this dish may change your life. 

Lobster Mac and Cheese from Kona Grill. I've eaten at other restaurants where I paid $30+ for lobster mac and cheese, and was disappointed with how little lobster I got for my money. And then Kona Grill gives me a $16 lobster mac that was swimming with lobster chunks. This was after Khoi and I went there and didn't make it in time for their happy hour food discount, but I still left feeling full and happy. 

Shrimp and Grits from Wolf's Ridge Taproom. I'm a shrimp and grits fiend, and I don't really have much to say. Each time I get shrimp and grits at a new place, I say it's now my new favorite, and this time was no different. Also this dish is insanely pretty (the phone picture does not do it justice).

Tea and treats at Cambridge Tea House. I found this little gem of a restaurant and had to scope it out. While none of the food was unique, it was all very well executed and so stinkin' cute. A+

And finally...

Completely unrelated to everything else but I got a kitty!! Her name is Nala. I love her dearly. My friend is taking care of her currently (thanks Kashi!). And hopefully she'll make more guest appearances in Jan/Feb when I finally make it back to Cbus :D

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Summer Food Series Part 3: NYC

Continuation from the last post...

I get it's already October, so let's wrap up my summer series asap so that we can get on to some fall and winter stuff. I took a trip to NYC near the end of summer and here's some of my food, drinks, and festivities.

Brunch at Gastroteca in Queens. During our stay in NYC, we found an affordable boutique hotel only two metro stops away from the city, and it was only a quick walk away from this delicious place. I opted for the scampi and grits because how can you possibly say no to this beautiful dish.

Also, their sign cracks me up lol. 

Lunch at Juliana's Pizza. So this is the fourth time I've visited NYC, but only the first time I've had New York style pizza in the city. There's an infamous pizza place named Grimaldi's located right under the Brooklyn Bridge and their line went out the door and down the street. Juliana's is next to Grimaldi's but the line isn't quite so extensive, and also it's a little known secret that Juliana's is actually the original Grimaldi's, only rebranded.

I thought their pizza was naice and worth the wait...but personally I much prefer Chicago-style. 

Dessert consisting of egg cream and a cannoli, mmmmm. 

Dinner at Ippudo NYC. This is probably the most famous ramen restaurant in the entire city, and somehow we managed to get seated about an hour after we put our names down.

We split their kobe beef special, which looks amazing here but sadly was a tad overcooked and not as tender as I had hoped. 

Their ramen however did not disappoint. Possibly the best ramen I've ever had. Also possible the root of my constant ramen craving, which I haven't been able to satisfy even though I've been back in Columbus for months. 

And just sharing some of my favorite photos from the trip...

Monday, September 19, 2016

Summer Food Series Part 2: Napa and San Francisco

Continuation from the last post...

After we took our exam in LA, we took a road trip up to Norcal for an extended weekend trip. I ate at way too many places, to the point that I don't remember the names of some of those restaurants, but here are some highlights. 

Bone-in rib-eye and Trifecta Freeze iced coffee at Harris Ranch. During our drive up to Norcal, we stopped at this place which is the biggest beef producer and largest ranch in California. They have a steakhouse on the ranch, and we stopped by for a steak. Between me, Khoi, and his sister, we split a 24oz ribeye and could barely finish the thing but it was fantastic.


Wine tasting at V. Sattui Winery. The day after our drive up, we went up to Napa since I had never been before. Napa is such a pretty place, and good food and good drinks makes everything a gazillion times better than it already is.

I shared some of Khoi's wine flight, but I really liked drinking the grape juice (and the sweet wines that tasted like juice).

Dinner at Ad Hoc. We wanted to pick somewhere special to celebrate on our trip, and Ad Hoc had been on our bucket list for the longest time (we've even tried to DIY their fried chicken at one point). We made reservations almost a month ahead of time and dining here was probably the most excited I've been in awhile. Unfortunately I dug into the food too quickly without recording the menu, so I have no idea what the food we ate was actually called...

Dranks ^^

An insanely decadent salad with the most fantastic croutons I've had in my life.

Short rib with bone god this was insane.

Creamed corn, 'twas so darn rich.

They had an add-on family style fish dish. I don't know what kind of fish this is or how they prepared it, but it was fab.

Beer biscuits and chez o.O almost everyone who knows me IRL knows that I greatly dislike cheese, so this was an odd and slightly disappointing post-dinner course...

...but the peaches 'n cream dessert course was worth in. My god it was so worth it.

San Francisco

Brunch at Lord George. After our Napa explorations, it was time for some brunch n' drinks and some city culture. We chose to dine at Lord George, since it has good reviews online and was close to the SFMOMA. The food there was delicious standard brunch fare, but what was truly fantastic was sitting under this enormous ridiculous painting of who I presume to be Lord George.

Art at SFMOMA. This popular modern art museum had recently reopened after a long period of renovations, so we booked advanced tickets to check it out. Unfortunately Khoi was too full to appreciate the modern art, hence puzzled expression above. 

Snacks on the LinkedIn building balcony. One of our friends who works there sneaked us up, huehue.

I still have about three more posts in this series to wrap up my summer food and travels, so stay tuned!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Summer Food Series Part 1: Birmingham and LA

These past few months have been a whirlwind. I finished my third year of school back in May, took a month off to stay with my parents in Birmingham and prep for Step 2 CK, then flew to Los Angeles for Step 2 CS. After exams, Khoi and I took a road trip up to SF before heading back to school. School has been incredibly stressful, as I was working 70+ hours/week during some rotations, but I also had some chiller rotations during which I was able to fit in a NYC trip.

 I've been MIA for some months now, but now I have a conglomerate of photos collected over months to share through several posts. I'm going to be posting them over the next few weeks, since I'm almost done with applications for residency and my schedule is calming down.

Birmingham, AL

TBH there isn't too much fun things to do in Birmingham which makes for a better study environment, but I did get to eat some amazing home cooked food, example above. My mom is the true master chef as she doesn't even use recipes.

On one of my study breaks, Khoi and I ventured out to Saw's BBQ. I've been there before previously for their pulled pork and such, but their ribs are on a whole nother level. Also these are some enormous dudes -- I was hungry and I could only eat one rib before I started to feel full t.t

3+ weeks of studying and 2500+ practice questions later, Khoi and I finally took our tests. My parents treated us out to dinner afterwards at Ocean, which was a pretty snazzy place. We ordered the creme de la creme appetizer -- their seafood tower -- and it was everything I had hoped for and more.

Los Angeles, CA

After we landed in LA, Khoi's family took us out to dinner at Jazz Cat, which is one of my favorite restaurants in the area. It's essentially a combination of hot pot and shabu shabu, in that everyone gets their own little pot with their own delicious broth (unlike shabu shabu, the broth isn't just water). It's one of the most satisfying meals ever, and it's hard to describe the experience unless you live it.

Ice cream for dessert after dinner at Chelo Creamery. This is one of the most unique desserts that I've had, but the wait was insane (40 minutes for ice cream???) so I'm unsure whether or not it was worth it.

And here's how they make it:

A video posted by Helen S. (@helennmelon) on

In the same area but on a different day, we got our korean food fix at a restaurant called Junkabok. They specialize in dishes using sous vide pork, and everything was incredibly soft and tender. They also had hot pot, and since hot pot is one of my favorite foods, I was a happy camper. 

We also got our poke fix at Pokicraze...

Our ramen fix at Ramen Yukino Ya...

And our Thai food fix at Thai Nakorn...I'm getting so hungry reviewing all these photos as I post them.

After a few days of chowing and pretending to study (because let's be honest, CS doesn't require much studying), we took our test and came home to a lobster feast from Newport

Stay tuned for Part 2, coming soon!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

March/April Recent Eats

Hi everyone! Once again I've been MIA -- school has been crazy busy. The food at work has been catered for the past two months, so I've been saving money by not buying lunch... only not really since I've used it as an excuse to eat out more (such guilt). I'm now finally done with third year, and I'm currently studying for a board exam, but it's a couple of weeks away so I figured I'd post some recent eats during my study break.

Happy hour at Kona Grill. They have a really great deal with all sushi and appetizers for 1/2 off until 7PM, and it's located at a really nice mall so it's always a fun occasion for a Friday night date. And their passionfruit creme brulee, man oh man.

Fried ice cream at El Vaquero. Okay so posting about eating at this place akin to posting about Bob Evans or Denny's, but I absolutely have to rave about their amazing fried ice cream. This thing is freaking like $4 and it's enormous and filling. And you can get some cheap beer for $2, plus the free chips/salsa that they serve you. It's not the healthiest meal, but when you feel like eating dirty, this is how to do it.

Miso ramen at Fukuryu. The ramen here itself is pretty stellar, even though we had to get something else other than what we wanted. They had no Tonkatsu...and I was talking to some friends who ate here previously, and they were also out of Tonkatsu (so do they ever even make Tonkatsu??). Also, their green tea soft serve ice cream was pretty sad. They have a lot to work out, but they are new in town and I'm willing to give them another try when I have a craving. 

Pork belly cassoulet at The Crest. Khoi and I ate here for brunch after exams, and it was quite tasty. I would've taken a photo of his food too (he ordered the sweet potato hash) but our two dishes were plated the same so I figured one pic is enough. I've heard stellar things about their lunch special and their shrimp and grits, so I think it's definitely worth a revisit. 

Sushi night at home again after a trip to Tensuke Market. This time we even bought an uni boat huehuehue.

Spaghetti with fried eggs recipe by Mark Bittman. Okay so this is likely the saddest photo of DIY food that I've posted on this blog in its four-year history BUT it's surprisingly tasty yet fast. All the more to prove that Mark Bittman is a genius. 

And a couple of tiny life updates...

I voted for the first time as an American citizen!!!

We're finally done with MS3!!!

I'm probably not going to post again at least until I'm done with my tests at the end of this month. I'm going to be in LA for part of my boards, and then heading on a road trip to NAPA(!!!) so hopefully I'll have more tasty food pics to share then.

And last but not lease...the craziest cocktail of 2016