Monday, February 29, 2016

February Recent Eats

Happy Leap Year! I'm usually never on time with these summary posts, but since leap days are a once in a blue moon sort of thing, I figured that I could try to get this post cranked out before we peeked into March. Here's some tasty food from the month of February:

Chinese New Year celebration with friends at Fortune. Columbus somehow has a variety of really delicious Szechuan restaurants, while remaining pretty sparse with some of the more stereotypically popular Chinese cuisines like Cantonese and Shanghai. The best way to order food at Fortune is to order from the specials -- there's a page of authentic Chinese special dishes in the menu AND they have a whiteboard of daily specials by the door (which is where the real top notch stuff is at). 

More Szechuan food at Little Dragon. This restaurant, Fortune (above), and Helen Asian Kitchen tie for my favorite Chinese food in CBUS. I'm biased to like Helen the best because of the name, and Little Dragon is a little out of the way but it's so tasty that it's always worth the drive. 

Valentine's Day with babe at Akai Hana. We actually went the day before Valentine's Day for dinner, after I had worked a long Saturday shift in the ER and needed a treat. 

On actual Valentine's day itself, we went on a Costco trip, during which we acquired filet mignon for steak fondue. Khoi also made these green tea white chocolate covered strawberries, and I was quite touched that he tried his hand at making dessert for me ^^

The most delicious green tea shaved ice with red bean and condensed milk, piled high with green tea vanilla swirl frozen yogurt, all courtesy of Belle's Bread. The option for this is not on their regular menu, but rather on a placard at checkout, so most people don't know that you can order this here and everyone was staring in jealously after we got our food puahaha. 

Sashimi bibimbap at Japanese Oriental. This restaurant looks a little sketch from the outside if you're just driving by, because it literally looks like you're going to eat at someone's house, but the inside of the restaurant is quite nice and their food is awesome. They were super duper generous with the amount of sashimi in this dish, and it was only around $10 as part of the lunch special. So worth it.  

Ramen at Meshikou. They no longer have tonkatsu broth (SAD!!!) but their chicken broth wasn't half bad. And they have this amazing grilled bacon-wrapped enoki mushroom appetizer that somehow reminds me of squid, which must be ordered anytime you visit this restaurant. 

Hai Poke at Red Velvet Cafe -- a new poke popup shop took over the kitchen of a local cafe, where I was trying to get some work done during my lunch break and wanted delicious noms in the meantime. The presentation is beautiful, and although it's not quite comparable to some of the other poke places that I've tried in Los Angeles, it's pretty boss for Cbus. 

Hot Chicken at KFC. This was only so-so, and it really made me appreciate that we have Hot Chicken Takeover in CBus. KFC gets an A for effort. 

Homemade blackberry mascarpone cream pie for my weekly Bachelor viewing parties. A group of us get together to watch The Bachelor and eat snacks every Tuesday evening, and we have a bracket which I'm currently winning (but may be losing my lead soon, so sad). I had some extra mascarpone and cream in the fridge, and threw this together. I don't have a recipe persay, but you can make some tiramisu cream and use it to fill a store-bought pie crust, then top with berries and powdered sugar. Super easy peasy. 

We had some free time this past weekend to take professional photos with my fancy camera, since interview season is not too far away, and we ended up taking some less serious photos at the end. Happy February, and goodbye winter!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Winter Weekend Trip Chicago: Summary

I finished my family medicine rotation few weeks back, and man oh man did it have the most awesome schedule ever (9 to 5 schedule with occasional half days thrown in). And at the end of my rotation, my attending went on a trip for a conference, so I had 4 whole days off to myself during which I managed to fit in a weekend trip to Chicago. Here are some highlights:

The most unique view of downtown Chicago. My friend brought us to The Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, and we hung out at their rooftop bar overlooking Millennium Park. It just so happened to be the prettiest warm winter day, lucky us. 

We also visited Maggie Daley Park, which was recently constructed. Apparently it gets super crowded on warm days, but it was chilly for us and nowhere nearly as crowded as it would've been, so we were able to play around without being embarrassed to be the oldest people on the swing sets. 

At night, one of the restaurants we tried was Fat Rice and it was quite amazing. It's has a Michelin Bib Gourmand and it's also the most popular Asian restaurant on Foursquare, and they served the most delicious shrimp I've ever had in my life. They are chili-stuffed prawns, swimming in a broth of fermented black bean and butter. Next time, I definitely want to come back and would just order this as my main because I could never get tired of this dish. 

Just down the street from Fat Rice is a relatively new tiki bar called Lost Lake, opened by the same people as Three Dots and a Dash but now in a more hipster part of town. All of the drinks were delicious, but the banana daiquiri was phenomenal (and even came with a banana dolphin!)

For lunch on a separate day, we headed to Lawrence Fish Market for some takeout. This place is super popular but extremely cheap, mainly because it is takeout only and cash only. People can call in orders, and it usually takes about 30 minutes to an hour before pickup.  Among 4 people, we spent $100 on 8 rolls, 6 sashimi, 4 tofu thingys, and 8 uni, and it was all fantastic. 

On my last night, we went to the Hearts and Hounds Valentine's Ball, organized by Greyhounds Only, which is a nonprofit greyhound rescue and adoption agency through which my friend adopted her adorable greyhound named Simba. We basically ate yummy food and played with some dashing greyhounds all night before I headed back to Cbus. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Khoi's Birthday Part 2: Tiramisu Ice Cream Cake

Khoi and his roommate John have birthdays that are only two days apart, and as the designated cake person for parties, I decided to make something extra special. I saw a bunch of recipes online for tiramisu ice cream cake (here and here) and kinda used tips from here and there to make my own super-easy creation.

Recipe for 9.5" springform pan

  • 2 packages of 24-pack ladyfingers (may need a third package since sizes of fingers may vary from package to package)
  • 1/2 cup espresso or strong coffee
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 oz kahlua
  • 2 pints of coffee ice cream
  • 2 pints of vanilla bean ice cream
  • 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, chilled
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • Chocolate curls, as much as you'd like (directions here)

Allow coffee ice cream to soften in fridge for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, line bottom and sides of springform pan with ladyfinger cookies. 

Brew fresh espresso or coffee, and add sugar and kahlua. Stir well until the sugar dissolves. Brush mixture onto cookie layer, and place in fridge to chill for 10 minutes.

Stir softened coffee ice cream ice cream. Spread layer of ice cream into springform pan so that the pan is half full. Cover with more ladyfinger cookies and brush with more espresso mixture. Transfer to freezer and allow cake to harden for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, soften the vanilla ice cream in the fridge for 30 minutes. 

Stir softened vanilla ice cream. Spread layer of ice cream to fill the pan to the top. Transfer to freezer and allow cake to harden for 30 more minutes. 

Meanwhile, make mascarpone cream. Transfer heavy cream into a bowl and beat until thickened, then add mascarpone cheese and beat until stiff peaks form. Add sugar to taste and beat a tiny bit longer. Spread on top of cake and add chocolate curls. 

Birthday boys toast

Blowing out the candles of my cake ^^

My slice! So tasty, probably one of the best cakes I've ever made. Seriously give this a try, it's super easy and impressive.