5.28.2009

Special Occasion Dinner... Animal!



Day 4: (actual birthday)
Did someone say hominy? Or more accurately crispy hominy with lime. Animal had me after reading just the second starter on the menu. I mean how many places are there where one can find hominy these days? Now that I think about it, the last time I had hominy other than in a rare serving of pasole to cure a hangover, was at my childhood daycare center. I know it may sound strange that at a daycare I ate hominy but for some reason the cooks at the childrens center often created dishes I would not have found at home or else where. They made grits with cheese, chicken chalupas, and my favorite the a simple steamed hominy. Many a night I have dreamt of that fluffy sweet corn like taste.





The menu was mouthwatering. R and I ordered:
the crispy hominy with lime
lettuces with sumac vinaigrette, beets, avocado and feta pita
pork belly with kimchi, peanuts, chili soy and scallions
branzino with artichokes, leeks, potato and green garlic as our entree
... and the housemade pound cake with strawberries and cream for desert (you gotta have at least a version of cake on your birthday right!)

The hominy was devilishly simple and perfect. Lightly battered and seasoned with salt and pepper, squeeze a little lime on top and next thing you know all the hominy is gone and you are left wanting more. The pork belly was like butter. The vibrant kimchi and peanut sauce accentuated each crispy buttery bite. Even the lettuces were more than your average salad. The light sumac dressing allowed the lettuces and the beets to speak for themselves. A sprinkling of feta and a crumble of pita chips only made each bit brilliant. That was just the start and the entree proved to be just as fantastic. The branzino was crunchy, flaky and light.



The space is small, modern, and acoustically sound. Dim lighting, dark wood tables and bare light bulbs on the wall, the restaurant was as aesthetically pleasing as the food. We sipped the Hollis pinot noir, reflected on the splendor that was our meal, gazed lovingly into each others eyes and anticipated desert. We opted for the housemade poundcake with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. While the bacon chocolate crunch bar was tempting I thought it might be a bit too much after such a full meal. The poundcake was light and moist and the strawberries ripe. The perfect end to a perfect meal that culminated the perfect birthday weekend!







Corn dogs, churros, pineapple ice cream...Disneyland!






Day 3: (1 more day until my actual birthday!)
Part three of this birthday extravaganza was enjoyed at Disneyland. The rides were fun, especially when you are with the one you love. The weather was perfect. But honestly the best part was the amusement park food! Seriously have you ever had a corn dog at Disneyland, it is probably the best corn dog on earth. It has got a real bite to it and no mere thin layer of corn dog batter, no this precious creation must have been battered and fried at least three times. Yum! Later we enjoyed a pineapple whip from the Tiki Room, not to be overlooked. And we ended our magical visit with a sweet and crunchy churro. Food, fun and love seem to be my running birthday theme, espcially the food part.


Sausage, Beer and Cake... birthday party at my favorite Downtown spot.


Day 2: (bday party with the friends)
Saturday night. R invited my friends for dinner to celebrate who else but moi. We gathered at Wurstkuche for the best sausages, fries and beer in town. If you haven't been here yet stop reading this post and go now! It is located in the Arts District of Downtown. Its corner location is marked by a simple sign and a red and yellow stripped door. You order in their small front room from a paper menu listing the sausages into three categories, classic, gourmet and exotic. They have two sizes of perfectly crispy and seasoned Belgian fries that come with your choice of dipping sauce. Now R and I are no strangers to this place and have tried more sausages that we care to disclose, but tonight we made sure to enjoy the Filipino in my honor! That and the buffalo,duck & pork and the Jalapeno Chicken. I washed down my savory, spicy meal with the light and crisp Belgian Floris Apple Ale and enjoyed the night. Three sausages, 2 orders of fries, 2 beers and R surprises me with 22 cupcakes! 22! (well i have a long name) Red velvet cupcakes with a perfectly fluffy cream cheese frosting from Buttercake Bakery! And it wasn't even my birthday yet...



"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well" -Virgina Woolfe. Love well, sleep well and most importantly dine well pretty much sums up my four day birthday extravaganza this month. R planned a birthday full of fun, friends, and lots of food.

Day 1: (pre-pre bday bash)
We all adorned our finest and tackiest Hawaiian shirts (mine was courtesy of Good Will) and prepared for a night of overflowing tropical cocktail fun. To kick start our festivites we enjoyed a hawaiian pizza. It was doughy, sweet, and created a good base for our drinks. Off to Tiki Ti's!

Tiki Ti's is small, vibrant and bursting with energy. And it happens to be around the corner from where we live. Owned and operated by three generations of men it upholds its authenticity. Hawaiian license plates ardorn the walls and neon tropical paraphenlia line the bar. The drink menu seems to go on for days. According to the website the Ray's Mistake is the most popular drink. It wasn't as fruity as a lot of the other drinks but just as strong. I skipped the most popular and opted for a Blue Hawaiian. Having seen my grandma drink one in my childhood when visiting Hawaii I have for years wondered what this magical blue creation was. The Blue Hawaiian pictured below is a giant glass of fruity, refreshing, rum filled happiness, at least that is what I remember of it. I also tried the Chi Chi's and those were by far my favorite drink of the night. Go get yourself a Chi Chi or two they are appropriately milky, creamy, coconuty goodness!

5.07.2009

Have love will cook...


So newly in love and all consumed by it, I am trying to redirect all of this loving energy into cooking for the one I love. While food has been my first and lasting love since childhood, me and cooking have had an on and off again relationship. We have good time and we have bad times. We can never agree on how things should be, but in the end when all is said and done we remember how much we love each other. I have never loved cooking for myself, but now that I have someone to cook for I can begin my love affair again.

R left today for the weekend so I thought what better way to say I love you (*remember how much you love me*) than ricotta blueberry pancakes. Best part of the recipe was that we made them together. I never considered making pancakes from scratch, I have always been a buy the mix and throw a little something in it kinda girl.

We gathered our ingredients and began the difficult process of dividing the recipe that makes 16 pancakes in half. I mean there has got to be an easier way to divide recipes than fractions! Obviously the math section was left for R and I began the mixing. We separated, combined, folded and fluffed. We whipped our egg whites into semi-stiff peaks and R exclaimed 'I didn't know thats what happens to egg whites'. I smiled. The end result was perfectly delicious. We savored our breakfast and our morning together. Now I will spend the weekend thinking of what to make him next!



Recipe from BLD restaurant:



3 eggs, yolks and whites separated

3/4 cup ricotta cheese

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/4 cups milk

1 3/4 cups flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 pints blueberries

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and ricotta cheese so that there are no large lumps of cheese, but make sure the mixture does not become too smooth (this will make the pancakes wet and grainy). Whisk in the sugar, salt and vanilla, then the milk.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Fold this into the egg batter just until no lumps remain.

3. Separately, whip the egg whites to medium-stiff, shiny peaks, about 4 minutes. Gently fold these into the batter just until uniformly combined.

4. Ladle a generous one-fourth cup of batter onto a medium-hot, lightly greased griddle for each pancake. Place 10 to 12 blueberries on each pancake and cook, about 2 minutes per side, until the cakes are golden-brown and cooked through. Serve immediately with maple syrup on the side.

Each serving: 276 calories; 10 grams protein; 41 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 8 grams fat; 4 grams saturated fat; 98 mg. cholesterol; 369 mg. sodium.

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