Saturday, March 31, 2012

Brunch at Farmshop

Second meal at Farmshop in a week, always a good bet

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Bazaar Revisited: 21 Course Extravaganza

I've been curious to try the Bazaar again after my memorable meal at Albert Adria's Tickets in Barcelona last year, just to see how it matches up. A. was in town and invited me along to a firm dinner; of course I couldn't pass up a free meal at the Bazaar. With 8 people, we had "Jose's Favorites Tasting Menu, with 21 courses. Definitely my most extravagant meal at Bazaar, between this meal and my previous meals, I think I've tried pretty much the entire menu. While fun and tasty, it is still hard to put the Bazaar in the same league as Tickets. Part of it has to do with the ingredients; there's just something special about the local silky rich Spanish olive oil, plump and sweet tomatoes, and fresh seafood. I think the other part is just the care and attention that goes into each dish; I feel like the dishes at Tickets were much more concise, carefully thought out and assembled, making for a more memorable and powerful bite. As an example, the spherical olives at the Bazaar just didn't have that magical indulgent pop and ooze of the similar spherical olives at Tickets. There were also several dishes on the tasting menu that just lacked that "wow" factor. Reflecting back on it and looking at the menu, I'm not sure I can really pinpoint any standout dishes, although I think part of it is that I've been a few times and the novelty has worn off a bit. Still, there's nothing like the scene at SLS / the Bazaar, the place was packed and hopping on a Thursday night, and it's easier than a trip to Spain. Apologies for the quality of the pictures; I didn't bring my DSLR as I was a guest, but I took a couple of quick iPhone shots of about half of the dishes.
Olives: Modern and Traditional
Top to bottom: Mussel Can En Escabeche, King Crab Can: Raspberries, Raspberry Vinegar
Jamon Iberico
Market Fish Ceviche and Avocado Roll: Jicama Micro Cilantro, Coconut Dressing
Not Your Everyday Caprese: Cherry Tomatoes, Liquid Mozzarella. Sadly my mozzarella sphere went splat on the table before I could eat it
"The Ultimate Spanish Tapa!" Ensaladilla Rusa: Potatoes, Carrots, Mayo, Tuna Belly. Least favorite dish of the night
Papas Canarias: Salty Wrinkled Potatoes, Mojo Verde
Seared Squid: Artichokes, Chicken Escabeche
Bunuelos: Codfish fritters, honey aioli
Seared Mary's Farm Chicken: Honey dates, mustard caviar, spicy mustard greens
Sauteed Wild Mushrooms: Hazelnut praline
Braised Wagyu Beef Cheeks: California Citrus
Philly Cheesesteak: Air bread, cheddar, Wagyu beef
Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta: Apricots and Muscat gelatin
Creamy Chocolate Heart: coffee and cardamom. I'm not a fan of the cardamom, just throws the dish off for me.
Tableside caipairinha preparation
The frozen caipairinha. Sadly, I did not get the chance to try this one.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Breakfast Smoothie and Lemon Poppy Cake

Most mornings, I make a smoothie with greek yogurt, a banana, OJ, milk, flax seeds and a mix of frozen and fresh organic berries (usually strawberries, blueberries and raspberries). It's a quick and easy way to get a lot of protein, calcium, vitamin C and other good stuff in one glass. I've been meaning to try JK's version breakfast smoothie and finally got around to it this weekend. I pretty much used everything pictured above: 1 banana, 1 fuji apple cored, about a 1/2 inch piece of ginger peeled, 3 leaves of kale destemmed, a handful of frozen blueberries (instead of the strawberries which I just ate), a splash of carrot juice (forgot to buy real carrots), about 2 cups of almond milk and some flax seeds. It was quite good: refreshing and different; I'll be making it a few more times this week. It's perfect for this time of year as apples and kale are still in season; will have to figure out how to mix it up in a few weeks. Updated: I've made it a few more times this week and I like the addition of some greek yogurt to smooth it out a little bit and also a little wedge of lemon, peel and all. I also blend it through two cycles on the "smoothie" cycle on my Breville blender to puree it a little finer.
I also made a French Lemon Poppy Pound Cake from Joanne Chang's Flour Bakery cookbook for dessert today, as it was my dad's birthday. Since we were having quite a big meal with steak, roasted cauliflower with lemon and garlic, and grilled hearts of romaine, caesar salad style, I decided to keep dessert on the lighter side, as opposed to a traditional birthday cake. As with everything in her cookbook, it was excellent: fluffy super lemony, but nicely balanced with the texture and pop of the poppy seeds, and not too sweet. I think the key to keeping it light and fluffy is to beat the eggs and sugar together for a solid 5 minutes in a stand mixer, and then to carefully fold in the other ingredients but not overmix. The leftovers will be great toasted for breakfast with a healthy smoothie.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Sweet Tooth

I've somehow developed quite the sweet tooth the last few months with chocolate being a particular favorite. To try and manage it, I try to do most of the baking myself, just so I know exactly what is going into my desserts, and I try to give away as much as possible so that I don't eat it all myself. This afternoon, after watching some foodnetwork this week, I made Giada's Smore Brownie Bites. I pretty much followed her recipe, except I just used all regular flour (quinoa flour at $9.99 for a tiny bag at WF just didn't seem worth it to me), subbed in dark chocolate chunks for the unmelted chocolate chips, used a little less sugar and butter and added a little bit of salt and baking soda. I baked it for 12 minutes, rotating once, and it was pretty good, though not quite as moist or fudgy as I would have liked.
To balance all these extra desserts, I try to eat three as complete and healthy meals as possible for breakfast lunch and dinner. I'm trying to eat at least 80 grams of protein everyday (lots of eggs, fish, meat, greek yogurt, tofu), get plenty of vitamin C through fruits and juices, get a lot of calcium through milk, eat as many dark leafy greens and colorful vegetables as possible, and eat ample whole grains and carbs. I've had to cook a lot more the last few weeks with my mom in Taiwan, but we've done quite a good job in eating balanced and healthy with a lot of variety. The below is a simple but complete dish that I cooked for dinner last week: a shrimp and tofu thai curry with peppers, tomatoes and spinach served with rice. I pretty much followed my usual curry recipe (halving the one here) and tossed in some shrimp and spinach for the last few minutes of cooking. Along with yoga 3x a week (mostly at home) and taking the dogs for a brisk walk almost everyday, I've managed to feel pretty good through 29 weeks.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Marni x St. Patrick's Day

A couple of Marni for H&M purchases to accessorize a St. Patrick's day outfit: the sunglasses, white flower necklace and white chunky bracelets. Worn with a Uniqlo cotton blazer and Target x Libertine tshirt dress.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Irish Soda Bread
We had a few friends over Saturday night for a St. Patrick's Day meal. Last year was the first time I made corned beef, so I decided to step it up a notch and also make Irish soda bread, a Guinness, broccoli, cheddar dip, and double chocolate mint cookies. I basically doubled the recipe from last time. Even with S's borrowed 6.75 quart Le Creuset, I still needed a bigger pot, so I undercooked a bit of the carrots, potatoes and cabbage. I'll have to remember to either cook it longer next time or use a bigger pot. I also used point cut as opposed to flat cut corned beef brisket from Vons. It was still very good, but definitely fattier, so we had to trim off a lot of fat before serving. It was my first time ever making bread and I followed Ina Garten's easy recipe for Irish Soda bread, using bread flour since I was almost out of AP flour. I baked it for about 50 minutes, but I think it could have used another few minutes; it's really hard to tell when bread is done from the outside. It also tastes better warm, it was really good toasted in the toaster oven this morning for breakfast, topped with just a little bit of butter. The fragrant orange zest and currants really make this bread stand out. For the Guinness, broccoli, cheddar dip, I used my usual dip recipe, just subbing in shallots instead of onions adding half a pint of Guinness and reducing for a few minutes in the beginning, using only cheddar (about 3/4 lbs) and subbing in steamed then chopped (using a food processor) broccoli for the greens, and adding a little bit of mustard, thyme and parsley towards the end. The Guinness definitely adds a nice depth to the cheesy creamy dip. I made Giada's double chocolate and mint cookies again but used really good organic mint chocolate bar from Whole Foods, as opposed to Andes mints which I used the first time, which I think definitely made the cookie better. I served the cookie warm out of the oven with a cup of vanilla ice cream, a nice ending to a big St. Patrick's Day meal. A different way of celebrating from the pub crawl days of old, but a nice alternative as well.
What remains of the corned beef
Double chocolate mint cookies

Friday, March 16, 2012

DVF x babyGap: Is It Ever Too Early?

Image from
My favorite outfit from the recently launched Diane Von Furstenberg for BabyGap collection. Sadly it's sold out online already :(...

Paris Fashion Week FW 2012 Part II: The Fantasy Designers - LV, McQueen, Chanel and More

Louis Vuitton. All images from
As wearable and lovely are the clothes from the first set of Paris shows, these next set of shows are just so over-the-top, theatrical and thrilling. Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton and Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen never disappoint in putting on riveting shows that truly define a season and will be talked about long after fashion week is over. Louis Vuitton continued the funny hats parade and boxy shapes from his Marc Jacobs collection back in New York, with rich patterns and fabrics, complete with an $8 million locomotive and porters carrying Louis Vuitton luggage. Alexander McQueen's show was full of drama, big feathers and layers and volume. Chanel's show looked like it took place on Superman's home planet, with surprisingly a lot more casual looks than I usually expect from Chanel, with sweaters and the way Karl Lagerfeld layered with skinny pants. Lanvin, celebrating Alber Elbaz' 10 year anniversary was the most mainstream of these set of collections, with a lot of great wearable looks that Alber is known in a variety of themes, from bright colors, to dark coats and separates to prints. Miu Miu continued the weird makeup and bold patterns that started in Milan with Prada (I have to say for both collections, I found S/S 2012 to be much more wearable), Givenchy continued the dark goth / leather / Girl with the Dragon Tattoo feel of Gucci, Versace, and Calvin Klein, and Vivienne Westwood was her typically dramatic self. Overall, so many amazing and inspirational shows and a fitting conclusion to an interesting season. All images from
Louis Vuitton
Louis Vuitton
Alexander McQueen. Love the cape coat on the left
Alexander McQueen
Alexander McQueen. Just when you thought you couldn't add anymore volume...
Chanel. I found the pants to be surprisingly everyday wearable for Chanel. More crazy makeup.
Chanel. I quite like the look on the left with the patchwork sweater.
Miu Miu. A little too circus-y for my taste.
Lanvin: the color
Lanvin: great coats and separates
Lanvin: a little bit of shine and pattern
More color, patterns and embellishments
Givenchy. Definitely Matrix / Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. And brothel from a Western on the right
Vivienne Westwood
Vivienne Westwood

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Marni at H&M Has Arrived: Review of Marni at H&M

Marni at H&M purchases! White flower necklace, appliqued t-shirt, women's sunglasses, white chunky bracelets
Thanks to the wonderful JK, my purchases from the Marni at H&M launch arrived in the mail today. I got the embroidered t shirt, the women's navy sunglasses, the pair of white chunky bracelets and the white flower necklace. I'm really happy with everything; the t shirt is soft and the colors are bright and happy. The size S is loose fitting but comfortable for me right now, though a little bit on the short side. I really like the white bracelets, they have a nice heft and shine to them and the black trim gives it nice contrast. They are bigger than I imagined, so I don't think I would wear them together on one wrist. The white flower necklace is cute, but needs a little adjusting; I find that the flowers look better pushed closer together. I worry a bit about the flower petals breaking off and the necklace is quite heavy and makes a bit of noise when worn with the flowers clinking together. The black fabric is a little thin and gets twisted around easily, but I can live with it. The sunglasses don't quite fit me right as they are slight wraparounds and I have no bridge (Asian issue), so they rest on my cheeks a bit. They are a bit lightweight and I find the vision to be slightly warped with the wraparound style, but they are fun and I don't have anything similar and I love hoarding sunglasses. I love the packaging of everything with the transparent green sliding boxes. H&M collaborations always have the best packaging. All in all, super excited about my purchases. Marni is so whimsical, and these are great everyday pieces to just add a little pop of fun to normal outfits. I'll try to post pictures with the items on soon...

Update 3/14/12: I was in the area and stopped by the Beverly Center and Sunset H&Ms to check out the Marni collection for the first time in person. I have to say, I'm not disappointed that I didn't get any of the clothes. There were plenty of returns; I tried on the two sided long sleeve poplin dress which did not fit me well: too long and rather shapeless. The fabric was really stiff. All the fabric was a little bit off; the brocade was really scratchy, the silk was a little too thin, flimsy and wrinkly, patent leather too stiff, and the cotton poplin was too stiff and rather rough feeling. I also saw the necklace with the orange plastic petal leaves, but also passed on it, as I didn't think it was worth it for $49.99. The only piece I liked was the black patent jacket, but I really don't need it at $199 as I have too many jackets / coats for Los Angeles anyway. I also saw some tshirts, the silver rope sandals, a pair of sunglasses, plenty of the patent leather pieces, pink shorts, and patterned long sleeve tops and dresses. There was a ton of men's stuff at both stores.
The Marni at H&M white flower necklace, one of the most popular pieces from the collection. It's been going for 3x + on ebay sadly.
The bracelets are more of an off-white, rather than a bright white like the flower necklace


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