Monday, January 18, 2010

Fond Memories

I was going through some picture CDs that I had put away sometime ago. Two years actually. I went to San Francisco 2 years ago. It was a wonderful trip. I don't think I blogged about my entire trip. We did so much, ate so much. Unfortunately part of our trip, the weather was like this picture (below). It didn't bother me at all that the weather was not so great. It was afterall October, almost November. We even skipped our bay cruise due to the cold weather. Below are some pictures of our excursion to Cliff House.

When I was planning our trip, I made a list of places I wanted/had to see while we were in San Francisco. I can't recall now why I 'had' to come here. We had to take a few buses to get here. We missed our bus and got lost in the woods trying to get here and returning to our hotel. It was quite an adventure and I love every moment of it. That is Cliff House in the distance. It was a bit of a walk. I wasn't sure if the bus would stop up there so I made us get off the bus and walk. I can be a bit impossible and ridiculous at times.

Cliff House is a restaurant perched on a cliff overlooking what used to be the Sutra Baths. The building houses 2 restaurants, the formal Sutro's (below) restaurant and the casual dining Bistro Restaurant.

It was lunch time so we ate at the Bistro Restaurant. I enjoyed the decor. On the walls were black and white photos of movie stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Somehow sitting there and looking out the window to the amazing view of the water, I felt transported to another era. It was so romantic and so magical.

And what did we eat? Hamburgers, of course. He wanted a big burger and fries. They served garlicky fries and they were delicious. It was the first time I had ever had fries like that. Our burgers were pretty great too. They were simple, nothing fancy but sure hit the spot. Very American.
After lunch, we walked around outside of the restaurant and took pictures of the water and of what used to be Sutro Baths. In 1896, Sutro Baths opened up as the World's Largest Indoor Pool establishment. It housed 1 fresh water pool and 6 salt water pools. The building burnt down in 1966.

This is what is left of the what used to be Sutra Baths. We didn't get a closer look. Maybe if it had been warmer and if the sun had been out.
Afterwards we continued with our adventure. We waited...and waited for a bus to take us back to downtown where our hotel was. I'll never forget our trip to San Francisco. It was wonderful. Maybe one day I will get to return.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Mitch's Seafood

Mitch's Seafood or Mitch's Hudson Bay Seafood
1403 Scott Street
San Diego, CA

I have been to Point Loma Seafood a couple of times, but never actually ate there. Their entire menu seemed to be either deep fried, filled with mayo, or raw. I had heard about Hudson's through friends. I never noticed it before. It's practically next to Point Loma Seafoods.

I did get lost at first but after driving by it twice, I found a parking spot on the street. My dining companion and I enjoyed a short walk to Hudson's. Before entering the restaurant, I decided to take some outside pictures. Everything was so bright and blue.

It looks like their building was going through a face lift. I think that's why I was unsure about the location. I wasn't seeing a restaurant sign (it was actually on the ground in the parking lot).

Inside the restaurant.

You order at the counter. The menu is above the counter and the daily catch is posted to the left on the wall. Today they were halibut, swordfish, and yellowtail.

We ordered the grilled halibut sandwich and the fried calamari platter.

We were told the sandwiches were huge and they were. We shared the grilled halibut sandwich. It was served on a nice torta roll with lettuce, tomato, cilantro, and mayo. It was served with a lemon slice and cole slaw. I enjoyed my sandwich. Both the sandwich and slaw were not overly mayonnaise(d). The slaw was a little bland though. I didn't eat much of the slaw. I'm not a fan of mayo. I liked my grilled salmon sandwich at El Pescador more. I think it was the red onions in the sandwich that made it extra tasty for me.

The calamari was served with fries, cole slaw and cocktail sauce and tartar sauce. I didn't try the tartar sauce, but I liked the cocktail sauce. It tasted like the same that is served at the Fish Market. The calamari was nicely fried. I enjoyed them. :)

I liked Hudson's. No lines, no crowds, available seating, clean and friendly. And the food was good.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Oxtail Stew

When I was a teenager, I remember my dad often cooking with oxtail. Back then they weren't considered a delicacy. They were very affordable. At least that's what I thought, until I went to purchase some in an attempt to make kare -kare. Back to my dad's oxtail dish, I remember him cooking it in a peanut sauce. It was a flavorful, thick sauce. I have been craving it for years. I wish I had asked my dad for the recipe. I never even knew what it was called. I was surprised to find that it is a Filipino dish. I love how my parents cooked a wide range of cuisines. And I had no idea, I thought everything they cooked was Lao food.

After researching it online, I found that it was kare-kare. I didn't try it immediately. It somewhat intimidated me and I was afraid that it was not going to be like my dad's oxtail stew. For my first attempt, I purchased a mix. I followed the cooking instructions on the envelope.

It was pretty easy to make. Next time I will opt for an actual recipe (maybe my own).

The finish dish did not taste like my dad's. I can't figure out what he put in his. I will have to play around with an actual recipe and try to make it taste as I remembered it to be. That will be difficult since it's been so many years since I have had my dad's dish.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

This Lazy Gal's Pho

I think my mom would be disappointed to see that I have resorted to making my pho broth with things like this instead of slaving over the stove with roasting my aromatics and simmering beef bones. I decided to take a short cut this time since I was only making pho for two. I have been eyeing these pho seasoning cubes since moving to San Diego. I finally decided to try them. It wasn't bad at all.

Before I went to bed the night before, I prepped everything I was going to need for my pho: green onion, cilantro, Thai basil, lime wedges, meatballs, tendons, and sliced beef.

I used fresh rice noodles and garnished with bean sprouts and fried garlic.
I like a very clear broth and I don't add anything to my pho like hoisin sauce. If I add anything, it would be white pepper, sugar, lime juice, and fish sauce. And I always eat my pho with pickled peppers. Sometimes I will eat it with fresh chili peppers dipped in shrimp paste.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Pizza Hut

I don't normally order/eat pizza. I love Asian food. Plus tomato sauce does not agree with me. When I crave a pizza, it's usually for a thick deep dish from Lou Malnati's, a stuffed pizza from Giordano's or a thin crust pizza from Lucca Grill. But San Diego does not offer anything nearly as good as any of those places. It's been one big pizza let down after another here.

Pizza Hut is having their $10 anything pizza special. We had to take advantage of it. I wanted to stroll down memory lane. When I was a young child, my parents would take us for pizza as a treat. I remember those days when my parents would load all of us kids into the car and drive to the Pizza Hut. I only remembered having the supreme pan pizza. While our pizzas were being made, my parents would give me and my brother quarters to play video games. I think the games that were popular then were Space Invaders, Galaga, Frogger, Centipede, and Donkey Kong.

Once the pizzas were served, we would go get seated and start eating. I was never brave enough to sprinkle the grated parmesan cheese or pepper flakes on my pizza back then. I have no idea why not. I had eaten grasshoppers and snails at an early age, but grated cheese and pepper flakes scared me, hehe.

I think Pizza Hut changed their pan dough recipe since I was a kid. Didn't taste the same. It did taste 'good' though. It was almost like being a little girl again standing next to my brother as he played Space Invaders, the aroma of our pan pizzas cooking, as our parents watched Pizza Hut. I sure miss those days.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Nam Khao

Nem Khao...Nam Khao?

Growing up, my mom always called this dish 'nam'. That is what I knew it to be called all my life until I moved to San Diego. I had never had this dish outside of my parent's home. I never saw another Lao family make the dish at any of the gatherings we attended. As an adult, I had never seen it on a restaurant menu. Apparently I was not going to the right restaurants. When I stumbled across mmm-yoso I found Kirk's post about nem khao with a picture. I thought to myself, 'Aha I finally found it'.

I never asked my mom where she learned to make this amazing dish. I had never seen my grandmother cook it. I only knew that whenever my parents made large batches of som moo, we were always treated with nam the following days.

I wanted to learn the origins of this dish and of course I could only find it on wikipedia, the best source of information on the web (sarcasm). This is what wikipedia had to say about nam. I giggled a bit after reading it. Is this a 'true' Lao dish? Whereever it may have originated, I'm very lucky that my mom made this dish for us.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Celebrating the New Year

I always see the beginning of the new year as a time to reflect on the previous year and to make changes or plans for the new year. My 2009 was filled with many blessings that I am very thankful for. This year will be more of the same or maybe even better!

This is the first year that I did not leave the house for New Year's Eve. I was disappointed that there would be no fireworks on the bay this year. I celebrated by making some hors d'oeuvres and buying a bottle of champagne. I didn't drink any champagne and I fell asleep way before the countdown. But I was awaken by fireworks at midnight. One of my neighbors had a huge fireworks display. It was very impressive and loud.

I found inspiration for the hors d'oeuvres and cake on various websites:
Mushroom-Brie Phyllo Puffs
Chocolate Ganache Cake
Beef Crostini
Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings

My plate: (clockwise) caramelized mushroom/onion/brie phyllo puffs, chocolate ganache cake, beef crostini with horseradish, and Vietnamese fish sauce chicken wings.
I caramelized a small pack of sliced button mushrooms and sliced onions for 20 minutes. After letting it cool, I added some of the mixture with pieces of cut up brie onto phyllo dough and wrapped it. I baked the wraps for about 25 minutes.

For the beef crostini, I seasoned a beef tenderloin and seared it in a pan on all sides then put it in the oven to finish cooking. I made a horseradish sauce with sour cream, worechestshire sauce, grated horseradish, lemon juice, salt and pepper. I toasted the baguette slices with olive oil. I rubbed the baguette slices with garlic and seasoned them with salt and pepper before topping them with slices of beef and the horseradish sauce.
Vietnamese fish sauce chicken wings: The wings were marinated in fish sauce and sugar, dusted with corn starch and deep fried. The sauce is made by simmering fish sauce, sugar, and chili paste. The fried wings are coated with the sauce.

2010 (Food) Wish and to Do List:

1. Eat more healthy, be more healthy. I did well last year by cutting out soda and not eating as much bread and white rice. Also I have been eating much more fresh vegetables and fruits. I want to do better in 2010. I would like to see myself eat more fish (not fried). I also read somewhere to practice portion control by eating from smaller plates. And I will definitely increase my workouts.

2. Cook/eat more meals at home. I think out of laziness and being terribly disorganized at times prevents me from cooking more. I just need better planning and organization.

3. Try more different cuisines: Korean, Japanese, Indian, and French are a few I want to explore more.

4. Learn new recipes. I often am browsing the Internet for new recipes or I will read or see something that inspires me to try a new recipe, but I will stop myself from trying them in fear that I will fail.

5. Share my love of food with more people by hosting more gatherings in my home.

6. Buy myself much needed kitchen appliances, serve ware, dinnerware, etc. I'm going to need them if I plan on cooking for more people.

7. Volunteer more this year. I want to get involved more with feeding/helping those in need in the San Diego area.

8. Enjoy the beach more. As my time here passes, I find myself spending less and less time at the beach or anywhere near the water. There will be a time in the future when I will not be living near the beach so I need to fully appreciate it right now. I hope to have more cook outs, picnics, and long walks on the beach.

9. Get a patio set and new grill. I would like to get a grill that can accommodate gas and charcoal, do they even make such a thing?

10. Road trips. The last time I took a road trip was to Laguna Beach.