Monday, December 30, 2013

Do you want to build a snowman ♩♪♫♬

I am not a big fan of the winter season. Yet, there are many wondrous occasions that fall under this season, the family oriented Thanksgiving, black Friday no-sleep shopping, joyous Christmas, the beginnings of a New Year, etc.

Yet the biggest joy of winter is the first glimpse of snow fall. What better way to start of the new year in a bit of snow. Here’s to a mini trip to Tahoe, NV for a bit of snowboarding fun.

A group of 10 of us set off the trip in two cars.
Welcome to Nevada
We finally arrived at our cabin! It was bigger than what I expected it to be.

Forest Pines Condominums
My home for the next two days
Our cabin consists of three rooms and two bathrooms.
The Living Room with a cozy fireplace
The Kitchen
We made a great first night home-cooked meal. Starting with some salad.

Let's start out with some salad
This is what I get for not liking Alfredo. My alternative was a wannabe Chipotle bowl consisting of chicken, sausage, sweet beans, and some mash-potato looking rice.

Our Hearty Meal
On the side we have a tray of garlic bread.

First Night's Dinner

Our second day was all about snowboarding. For a first timer, I think I had a pretty good start.
Mount Rose
Off to get my snowboard gear on
The Lift
It was a super fun experience for a beginner snowboarder like me. I hope to go at least once every year if given the chance.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Birthday Eat Out #3

Cheers to my little sister for turning one year older and wiser.

We took a stroll along the upscale roads of Santana Row and enjoyed a meal at Maggiano's Little Italy.

Italian restaurants has the custom of serving their traditional bread and a dip. Bread was fluffy with a light crunchy outer layer served with a balsamic vinaigrette olive oil dip. Although I am not a fan of the acidic dip, the bread was delicious.

We had multiple switch-offs of what our appetizer should be: from bruschetta to calamari to stuffed mushrooms. Our final decision of what started off the meal was the jumbo lump crab cakes. Crabmeat was coated in Japanese breadcrumbs and sauteed and served with a side of tomato aioli with arugula salad.

Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes
Our main course was two entrees of pastas. One is the Rigatoni 'D' with rigatoni pasta, herb-roasted chicken, mushrooms and caramelized onions, tossed in a Marsala cream sauce. The sauce was a little heavy on the cheese side which is not what I preferred but it was a yummy dish nevertheless.

Rigatoni 'D'
The other entree dish is the Taylor Street Baked Ziti with italian sausage, pomodoro sauce and ziti topped with a layer of melted Provolone and Parmesan cheese. I'm surprised the cheese on this dish was lighter for my palate, something of which I enjoy. This order of classic pasta also came with another perk of an additional take-home-pasta that could be brought back home to eat. Its like a buy one get one. What a great deal! 

Taylor Street Baked Ziti
After our full yet stuffing meal, we opt for some dessert, but not before a little surprise from the restaurant. Vera's Lemon Cookies that were crescent shaped glazed with lemon frosting lit in three long candles. Those little cookies were my addiction. It was so soft and light with a zing of sweet lemon flavor.

Vera's Lemon Cookies
What came next is my guilty pleasure, a Mini Dessert Sampler of the restaurant's classic dessert: Tiramisu, Chocolate Zuccotto Cake,  Apple Crostada, New York Style Cheesecake, and Creme Brulee. 

By far, one of the yummiest dessert sampler I tried. My favorite was the chocolate zuccotto cake, it was amazingly rich and creamy.

Mini Dessert Sampler (left to right):
Tiramisu, Chocolate Zuccotto Cake, Apple Crostada, New York Style Cheesecake, Creme Brulee
Mini Dessert Sampler (left to right): Creme Brulee, New York Style Cheesecake, Apple Crostada, Chocolate Zuccotto Cake, Tiramisu 

We ended off the night with lights that filled the midnight street.

Santana Row

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Halloween Scare

Halloween was last month but I never got to share my little adventure in Dixon. Many may not know but the Dixon corn maze is one of the largest on the 2007 World Guinness record book. It’s a great way to get lost and try to find your way out, sort of reminds me of one of the harry potter maze. The maze is only open during the Halloween season, which is more of a thriller if you go at night.

Dixon Corn Maze --- 2007 Guinness Book World Record

Starting Point of Corn Maze
Even directions seem like a maze
Upon arrival, you can purchase your entrance pass for $10 for the maze. There is also a grass maze for younger kids. Your only instructions are the one page map that you will hold on so dearly throughout the journey. The map is coordinated by alphabets and numbers like chess moves (E12 or JJ2). Throughout the path, there will be markers buried on the ground to indicate your location against the map. You will find yourself either strolling on the right path or backtracking around the same area figuring out which way to take.
Guess the Symbols
I had a funny experience where my group had to take a slight pause since we were absolutely lost. A group of young children was running through the maze and shouting to my group, “You guys should just follow us, this is the right way.” Our initial reaction was hesitation since the way they were going didn’t seem right for our intuition. Luckily, we opt for a different path because boy, were they going the wrong direction. 

It’s a great fun activity for friends and families.

If the maze is not appealing, maybe these scenic views will urge you to think twice.

Maze Safe-zone #2: Complete!

Mesmerizing Sun-set

Again, beautiful scenic view
Giant (fake) pumpkin

Holiday Drinks BOGO

Starbucks is currently offering a BOGO from 2-5pm on any holiday drinks (hot or cold). Go get some!

Friday, November 15, 2013

All About Lips

I am reviewing two products: Rosebud Salve lip balm and Color Whisper lipstick

Rosebud Salve
The gift that I received comes in a pack of three in a tin can. The one that I have given a chance to try was the minted rose. It reminds of EOS, where you just open it up and start smearing it on your lips, except  rosebud salve is more hydrating.

You can get these at urban outfitter. Its 2 for $12 for one lip balm. This was given to me by a friend so I'm not too sure how much the whole would cost.


The next product I have is the Color whisper by Maybelline. I got the made-it mauve which is a very pretty dark red-ish pink color. Its great to wear on a daily basis or even on a nice day out. Did I mention that it is very hydrating.

Friday, October 18, 2013

5th Taste Bud: Umami

Let's take a look at our basic tastes: salt, sweet, sour, bitter, and lastly umami. For those that are not familiar with umami, its considered and now a more widely accepted part of our basic taste. Umami is similar to savoriness. 

I got really excited when a restaurant named Umami Burger was located near by and just had to go try it. My order was the original Umami burger and a side of smushed potato. 

The burger I ordered has shiitake mushroom, caramelized onions, roasted tomato, parmesan crisp, and umami ketchup. It was delicious but I wouldn't recall the burger as umami. I did get a chance to try a portion of my friend's truffle burger and it was yummy. I prefer hers over mines.  

The smushed potato was ordered due to my curiosity. It was umami in my opinion, although I am a big fan of any potato dish. It had a layer of crisp and soft fluffy potato in the inside. The dipping cream sauce was the garlic aioli. My initial taste response to the combination was, "oh, this is weird...". After a few more tries, it became a pleasant taste and I enjoyed every bite of it, despite that a little more salt wouldn't have hurt.
Umami Burger, here I am
Even the napkin has a burger stamp
Smushed Potatoes with Garlic Aioli Sauce
"U" for Umami
A slider kinda portion
Look at that medium-rare meat

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

DIY: Vietnamese Spring Rolls

A fool proof DIY that you cannot mess up, except for the shape of it. Spring rolls are easy to make, they can be prepared the night before or even early in the morning. Whether you are a full-time student on a budget or a working person that consists of a busy schedule, this is your lunch rescue.

I regret to say that I did not prepare a step-by-step DIY procedure for those who are visual learners as I am. But, I can give you a run-down of what you need and how to go about preparing your own spring roll.

Ingredients you will need:
Rice paper or spring roll wrap
  • This may be a little tricky to get depending on where you are residing. If you have an Asian market near by, I bet they will have these wraps in stock. They come in variations in packaging and appearance, some are round and some are rectangular. I prefer the round shaped ones.
  • Here's a link of how rice paper looks like: Click here
  • They cost around $2.00 a pack, the price on the link above is outrageous.
What to put inside your spring roll
Necessity: lettuce, rice noodles, type of meat (shrimp, chicken, ground pork/beef, tofu...), dipping sauce (will mention later)
Optional: mint leaves, pickled veggies

  1. Cook your rice noodles to a boil. Drain it and leave it to cool.
  2. Find a plate that holds an inch of water. Fill the plate with an inch of water. Submerge your rice paper in water. What this does is it softens the rice paper. At this point, your rice paper should be translucent, if its not, you may have got the wrong kind of wrap. Take it out and place it on a flat surface. 
  3. With your rice paper on a flat surface, place your meat first in the center. This becomes the top of the spring roll and ultimately what you will see as an end product. Next, comes the greens, pile up those lettuces, and lastly the already cooked and cooled rice noodles.
  4. Wrap it like a burrito.

Dipping Sauce:
Fish Sauce
  • Again, a little tricky but try your local Asian market. They also come in variation but similar product should work fine
  • Should cost about $5.00
Here is an example of how it looks like: Click Here

Hot Chili Sauce
  • Best to use something that have garlic flakes. If not, sriracha sauce (the one with the rooster) will do.
Soy Sauce

  • Add a drizzle or enough for your liking
  1. Mix all three ingredients together, adjusting the amounts to your content. 
Outcome should look something like this:

My version: rice wrap (exactly the one on the link), seasoned chicken breast strips, lettuce, rice noodles

Sunday, September 22, 2013

My First Yelp Event

I am delighted to write about my very first Yelp event! It just so happens to be a charity event and it’s themed for the summer. The event is held at the Rock Wall Wine Company, centering the theme of drinking wine and snacking on munchies. It’s a Summer Sip-nic is what Yelp likes to call it.

Bite size vendors such as Grilled Cheez Guy, Rubio’s, Whole Foods Market, Luna Bars, Chocolatier Blue, Chunky Pig, etc will be offering some tasty samplings. Beverage vendors like honest tea, Vita Coco, Alaskan Brewing Co., Singha Beer, Red Feather Winery, Uproot Wines, Banshee Wines, etc will be offering their share of liquid to quench your thirst. Without stopping there, there will be Pop-up Parks, Oakland Ping Pong Party, Ice Carving, DJ, etc. Sounds very catchy just for the few I named. The catch is this is not a free event, your contribution is a mere $10.00 to have all of them. Sounds like a good deal!

The first of how I heard about this cool event was I got an email invitation from Yelp to attend (very nice that it’s open to the public users and not just the elites). After you RSVP to attend, they offer a +1 guest to join you in this little adventure. 

Upon arriving, you see lots of cars parked and lots of empty parking spots. The space is huge! What especially caught my eyes is the LONG line to get in. But I have to say that it did move rather quickly. After that need I say more, I was going through vendor to vendor to try out everything they had. The drawback is that the lines were very long and moved very slow because everybody wanted food. The short lines were the desserts and wine. Mostly people were hungry. 

It was definitely a great first Yelp event but would I attend again? Maybe, maybe not. I would just attend a few times for the experience and to check out new vendors.  

Sip-Nic Flyer from Yelp
Chocolate Mountain

Edible Sneakers

Nougat in a Jar

Long Lines
Inside the Winery
Yelp Iced Sculpture

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