Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Ritz-Carlton at Half Moon Bay

My family and I ventured to Half Moon Bay to have some lunch today, where we decided to visit the Ritz-Carlton.

It's been many years since we've been to this seaside town, the last occurring when I was only a little boy and we wanted to buy fresh fish.  Nevertheless, the Ritz-Carlton provided some very nice views of the Pacific Ocean while we waited for our table at their restaurant Navio.

The menu that day didn't feature anything special.  In fact, their lunch menu was the exact same as that of their second restaurant/lounge area.  Had we realized that beforehand, we probably could have saved some of our time from waiting at Navio. But in any case, the item that piqued my interest the most was the saffron risotto with braised pork and broccolini.  It was probably only the novelty of saffron being the most expensive spice that I found interesting, but I thought it would be worth trying.  I wouldn't be cooking with saffron any time soon, anyway.

The dish was tasty but I didn't find it to be overwhelmingly delicious.  The pork was quite dry (except for the fatty parts) and, to be honest, I wasn't quite able to discern the taste and fragrance of the saffron.  Maybe my expectations were too high.  Overall, I did enjoy the atmosphere and especially the ocean views from our table, and maybe the dinner menu could be something to explore in the future.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


As I started on my usual route home after symphony rehearsal, the streets were beginning to go crazy. Grabbing my camera but leaving my photo-taking skills behind, I tried my best chronicling the pandemonium that ensued due to the outcome of the presidential election. The excitement in the air was utterly contagious, and I don't think I'll be able to march down Telegraph Ave. against traffic again any time soon.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Coconut Rice Pudding with Mango

After spotting a Coconut Rice Pudding recipe on Tastespotting, I finally got around to taking the time recreate it. The nights here in Berkeley are getting cold, and I figured homemade pudding would really hit the spot.

It's a simple recipe, only requiring a few ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup of rice (arborio, as specified in the original recipe)
  • 1 14-oz can of unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1 ripe mango (diced)
  • 1 lime
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 vanilla bean
What did I need to do? First, I submerged the rice in hot water for about an hour, drained the water, then mixed in the coconut milk, salt, sugar, and vanilla extract. For the next 1 1/2 hours, I stirred the mixture over low heat while adding in the milk in the last half hour. Once it was all into a pudding consistency, I removed the pudding from heat, squeezed some lime juice, sprinkled some salt, and threw the diced mangoes on top.

Since Trader Joe's stopped selling cheap vanilla beans almost two years ago, I went ahead and bought the extract. I didn't really need it though, as the coconut was already overpowering almost everything else. The lime did add a nice zest to the milky dessert though.

It wasn't a difficult recipe, but it required consistent pot watching. And ultimately, despite my affinity for pudding, I determined the result wasn't quite worth the effort.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Grammar Police

Back in the day, I followed the crowd and chatted online using all the typing shortcuts that were deemed socially appropriate. "Da" instead of "the," "azn" instead of "asian." Finally I realized how stupid I looked, so I committed myself to typing as grammatically correct as possible while using the correct spelling.

In any case, I came across a blog on the New York Times that focused on a variety of grammatical errors. I thought it was an interesting read, so here it is: after deadline.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Blogging Redux

At the end of summer, I closed off this blog thinking that I wouldn't be bloggin' anymore. After all, here I am back in school, blowing through my last year as an undergraduate. Would I even have the time to create anything meaningful?

The answer is no (and some of you may be thinking creating something meaningful is my real problem...). But ever since saying goodbye to Seattle, I've had the occasional itch to ponder aloud about the enormous events that have been happening in our lives (read: economy), ramble about the latest thing on my mind, or post random crap that I find on Digg or Reddit.

Most of all, my beloved camera has been sitting in my drawer, not seeing any action since running out of battery at Art of the Table. My friend who's an avid photographer warned me that many of these expensive cameras end up collecting dust because their owners just lose interest. The last thing I want to do is fall into that category. So! Armed with the trusty cast-iron pan that I used all summer, I may try to take on several culinary endeavors and archive them with my camera. And who knows, if I could do a decent job, I may be able to consistently appear on Tastespotting. Maybe. I don't want to be too pretentious before I even start.

All this talk about blogging again caused me to look through the first blog I created - one which I'm not particularly too proud of. There was maybe one or two significant entries of any value in there. It's interesting to notice the differences (and, unfortunately, similarities) to my writing style as an angsty freshman. Some may argue I'm still that angsty freshman, and I'm not going to even try arguing otherwise.

With that, I guess "Summer in Seattle" isn't going to cut it as a title anymore. It's going to take me forever to try to come up with another one. I might just steal my old title.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Farewell, Seattle.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Art of the Table

With my last full weekend here, I was pleased to have spent it well enjoying fine food with friends. Art of the Table features a reservation-only "weekend supper club," where up to twenty-two people participate in a four-course meal. Each week Chef Dustin Ronspies conjures up a new menu with a common inspiration, and this past weekend beer served as the connecting thread.
First thing you notice coming in is the intimate setting of the room. Ronspies didn't know what to do with the place when he signed the lease, but his cooking and dining experiences in Europe inspired him to create this communal-style dinner. I wonder if rosemary-infused water was a common thing there.
At the ring of the mini gong, the room hushes to listen to the chef. Tonight, he says, we will be presented with an amuse bouche to wet our appetites: a crostini covered with gruyère cheese, onions, chives, and ground mustard seed.
Next, a salmon gravlax cured with IPA beer and a cool cucumber and salt-cured lemon salad on top.
Moving right along, our second course consisted of grilled Japanese eggplant over creamy Jasmine rice in curried ginger beer sauce. For additional garnish, Ronspies threw on some roasted peanuts, basil from the backyard, and Chinese chili flakes.

And then my battery died. But for your enjoyment, here's the rest of the menu:

Cherry Wood-Smoked Ale-Brined Baby Back Ribs
with Wilted Cabbage Slaw and Peach Lambic Barbecue Sauce

Belgian Waffle made with Porter
with Kasteel Rouge Cherry Compote and Chocolate Ice Cream

I really wish I had my camera for the rest of the night, but I suppose it wasn't meant to be. In between courses, I had the chance of asking him how he went about making the creamy Jasmine rice. "Pretty simple," he says. He heavily borrowed the recipe from Eric Ripert's "A Return to Cooking," but he told me his process anyway: boiled the rice, and before it was fully cooked, transferred them over to a mixture of cream and water. After occasionally replenishing it with some water, seasoned with coriander, cilantro, salt and pepper. I mentioned to him that I would try this on my own, but then I realized I came off more pretentious than I intended.

Overall, I find myself incredibly lucky to have discovered this place so close to the end of my summer. This is one place that I will definitely return to the next time I'm in Seattle.

Thursday, August 7, 2008