August 9, 2010 § 1 Comment
Over the weekend, I called the Roommates individually to see how each girl was doing. Cheng was the only girl I couldn’t call because I had the wrong number. When I got the correct number from Diana, who is currently still living with Cheng, I tried calling Cheng but I got her voicemail so I left a message. Apparently she was taking a nap because she ate one too many onion rings and lost the battle against food coma. This is the email I received from Cheng when she woke up:
The transcription is hilariously inaccurate because it failed to include that I wasn’t suicidal and dying. And, as far as suicide notes go, this one is really pathetic– not pathetic in a sad way, just pathetic in a “huh, that’s it?” way.
What I actually said, which really isn’t much of an improvement except that I clearly state that I am NOT dying:
Hey Cheng, it’s me, Jenny. I just wanted to call and say, “Hi” and see how you’re doing…And, erm, okay, so for the past like three months, or maybe… more, actually, I didn’t have the right phone number, and I had to get this [number] from Diana. So please call me back so I can make sure that this is actually the right number to call you in case, you know, I’m dying and I’ve already called 911 and I just want to say, “Good-bye”. I’m not dying by the way. Just, you know, if in that certain situation. Okay, bye.
August 8, 2010 § Leave a comment
August 8, 2010 § Leave a comment
Part III: The Food
At the beginning of July, I went to visit Shabad in Philadelphia just before she moved to Knoxville, Tennessee for graduate school. While I was there, we spent the entire weekend eating and she took me to some very lovely places for Italian food, authentic bagels shipped in daily from New York City, and people-walking-their-dogs watching, and I took her to the Philadelphia Chinatown because I wanted to try a bun from all four of the Chinese bakeries that have at least 4 stars on Yelp (and, “for good measure” I told myself and Shabad, I tried two of the 3.5 stars-rated Chinese bakeries on Yelp; the truth was that I absolutely love pineapple buns and scallion buns, and I just wanted more, more, more).
I loved all the places I visited with Shabad so much that I wanted to return and show Wayne these places as a way to celebrate our anniversary. He eagerly agreed because he spent a part of his childhood visiting parts of Philadelphia but he hadn’t visited in recent years. He was excited because he would get to try a legitimate Philadelphia cheesesteak and visit his dad’s favorite restaurant for Taiwanese food. I was excited because I would get a second chance to eat amazing Italian food with gracefully efficient and accurate service at a ridiculously inexpensive price: La Viola. I truly love this restaurant. And a part of me loves Philadelphia now purely because of this one restaurant.
Wayne and I decided to spend the weekend in Philadelphia so that we had more time to explore Rittenhouse Square. All the places I wanted to show Wayne were close walking distance within Rittenhouse Square, and Chinatown is a quick walk away. Rittenhouse Square is also very charming with its historic buildings, ornate Victorian architecture, and red brick townhouses, and I loved walking around just to stare at the buildings. The area has the best shopping in the city so that I could take advantage of Pennsylvania’s no tax on shoes and clothing. Considering that I used to live in LA where the sales tax is 9.75%, no tax felt so liberating that I wanted to go on a shopping spree. In a way, it is as if the entire state of Pennsylvania gave me a 10% discount on Anthropologie!
Capogiro Gelato Artisans in Rittenhouse Square
Since our anniversary weekend was also Shabad’s last weekend in Philadelphia, I wanted to meet up with her so I could spend some more time with her and have her meet Wayne. I have slowly been introducing Wayne to “the Roommates”, my closest friends during USC, even though I only lived with three of the five girls– the reason why I have to slowly introduce Wayne to all five girls is because we’re all scattered among Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York City, and, now, Knoxville. We met up with Shabad for gelato at Capogiro Gelato Artisans (Yelp review), a family owned and run gelateria with several cafe locations around Philadelphia. The gelato and sorbettos are made fresh daily in small batches to ensure quality, and the flavors vary by location and day. The gelato is smooth and creamy, and the flavor is deeply rich and intense. Besides the high quality of the gelato, what I found to be impressive was the multitude of flavors that ranged from popular common flavors to extremely creative flavors– some flavors I was a little dubious to try, for example Sea Salt. Popular common flavors– besides Stracciatella (equivalent to chocolate chip and vanilla), Vanilla, and Pistachio– I loved were Bacio (chocolate and hazelnut), Dulce de Leche, and Champagne Mango. Some creative flavors that were offered were Mojito, Mascarpone, Tahini, and Rosemary Honey Goat’s milk. The funny thing is that Capogiro is also a very good place to buy bagels because the bagels are delivered daily from H&H Bagels (Yelp review) in New York City but the spreads are homemade.
La Viola in Rittenhouse Square
For our anniversary dinner, I made reservations at La Viola, the restaurant that I loved so much that I planned an entire weekend trip around it, just so I could eat their Panne Alla Caruso (penne with bright green peas and chunks of pancetta in a velvet-y vodka sauce). What blows my mind is just how ridiculously reasonable (okay, fine, it’s the nice way of saying: Oh my God, it is so SO cheap) for the quality of the food and service. And the restaurant is BYOB so that offers a lot of freedom in terms of wine and it saves some money. Everything on the menu sounds incredibly enticing that I desperately wish I had the foresight to figure out how to stretch out my stomach so I could try everything, but Shabad assures me that she has tried pretty everything (over a period of two years, of course) on the menu and all the dishes are delicious.
The service was very efficient and fast. When Wayne and I were seated, immediately a server gave us crusty bread that was still very warm, almost hot, and a dipping sauce that is a mixture of extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and fresh herbs– unfortunately the only herb that I remember is rosemary. A minute later, another server came by to take our drink orders. We ordered the grilled calamari, mussels in white sauce, and the Panne Alla Caruso I had been dreaming about and lusting over since I first had it with Shabad two weeks prior. The servers were all very quick and we did not wait long for the appetizers to come out:
Both appetizers were very good. The squid was flavorful and not rubbery; it had a firm but soft texture. The mussels were good, but mussels are generally easy to prepare and hard to mess up. Wayne and I typically order mussels whenever we see them offered on a menu because we love seafood, particularly mussels, clams, and oysters– all bivalves should fear us. Unfortunately, the beards weren’t removed so eating the mussels was a little annoying because I had to remove the beards myself. There is no picture of the Panne Alla Caruso because the second the server placed the entree on the table for Wayne and I to split, I started eating immediately. I absolutely could not wait. It was similar to when I received the box of macarons, except the thought to take a picture did not occur to me until after I finished eating. And I’m pretty sure Wayne didn’t want to attempt to interrupt me to take a picture for fear that he might somehow get hurt when trying to come between me and my plate of Panne Alla Caruso.
Soon after we finished the Panne Alla Caruso, another server came by to ask if we wanted dessert. There is no set dessert menu; instead, the server will recite the desserts offered since the assortment of dessert changes daily. When I went to La Viola with Shabad, tiramisu was not offered and I was really disappointed because I had been craving tiramisu for several days. For our anniversary dinner, the dessert menu was different:
Server: Would you like to hear our dessert menu?
Me: Hm, sure.
Server: [takes a deep breathe to prepare for his recitation] Today, we have a homemade tirami–
Me: [jumps a little and says giddily] That! I want that! The tiramisu.
Server: [in some shock that he was interrupted while reciting and a little confused as to what to do next] …Er, would you like to hear the rest of the desserts?
Me: [still giddy] No. I definitely want the tiramisu.
The tiramisu was heavenly with its decadent custard and lady fingers richly flavored with espresso. It was exactly what I needed to satisfy my craving.
Some things to note that might be bothersome if I weren’t me. I am more than willing to sacrifice just about everything involved in the dining experience for good food and efficient service, so I don’t mind that the restaurant is cramped and a little loud. The tables are small and there’s a very good chance that on a busy night, I might be elbowing the stranger sitting at the next table when I’m trying to eat. Also because the place is small and there are a lot of patrons, it does get noisy. But I love this restaurant so much that it could be pouring rain and the only available seat is outside. I will happily eat outside while holding an umbrella in one hand and holding a fork to the Panne Alla Caruso in the other hand.
Capogiro Gelato Artisans in Rittenhouse Square
117 S 20th St
Philadelphia, PA 19103
La Viola in Rittenhouse Square
253 South 16th St # A
Philadelphia, PA 19102-3350
August 7, 2010 § Leave a comment
Part I: The Backstory
On June 22, 2009, Wayne looked across a crowded room at a girl in a red sweater, who despite being really horrendous at public speaking, eagerly and bubbly volunteers to be the first to introduce herself to the forum with her name, alma mater, and random fact, and he knew he had to meet her.
Or at least, that’s the story he tells me.
On July 18, 2009, I looked across a tiny table full of seafood tapas at a guy in a white polo, who so earnestly cared for me and always smiled as widely when he sees me as I do him, and I knew he was it.
That’s the story with the ending I haven’t told anyone.
Part II: The Thought
Last month, Wayne and I celebrated our anniversary. He was very sweet. He remembered that the traditional anniversary gift is paper* and surprised me with a paper flower (The little figurine is a tiny dog attached to the cup, which Wayne gave me because I like dogs.):
He also indulged my on-going, obsessive love for macarons. The box was hand-delivered on a sleepy Saturday when the rest of the world decided to be indulgent and sleep in. Luckily for the macaron delivery man, I have this inability to sleep in on a weekend — but my body wholeheartedly will indulge in sleeping until noon on a weekday; this makes getting up for work extremely hard on overcast mornings in winter. Unfortunately for the macaron delivery man, I had spent the early morning reading Wikipedia entries on American and Japanese horror films and was slightly afraid of answering the door (also now slightly afraid of hostels). It wasn’t until his third attempt at knocking on our door that I realized that I was being foolish and ghosts can’t knock anyway.
I was so excited that I never bothered to take a picture of the box filled with macarons. The above is a stock photo from Michel’s Patisserie. I was half way through my second macaron, a delicate, deliciously light but still, oddly, rich red velvet macaron that had the coveted little “foot” (the uneven, rough part that circles and juts out the bottom of one-half of a macaron), when I realized that I probably should have paused to take a picture of Wayne’s gift before devouring it. Here’s the picture I got around to taking with the bits and parts that were left over:
Note that there isn’t even a crumb left. They were all too delicious to neglect.
*I don’t really care that the traditional gifts list is for married couples. How important and sacred can marriage be if not everyone can marry, but those who can marry can ruin the sanctity of marriage by sleeping with 121 women?
August 2, 2010 § Leave a comment
I created a Twitter account.
I am the kind of person who shouldn’t have a Twitter account.
But, more on that later. First, genesis:
It started in LA, as almost every one of my entries seems obligated to reference at some point in the entry, when Wayne and I spent the daylight hours of our vacation chasing down food trucks. Why? Because there are no interesting food trucks in Tyson’s Corner; there are just three Louis Vuittons within walking distance of each other instead — Dear World, FYI, themed food trucks are much more important to life than designer bags. And because life isn’t fun unless you have to chase down your food. Don’t worry all you naysayers, Cheng has your back:
However, Wayne and I realized that since all the food trucks we were trying to hunt down never stayed nor returned to the same coordinates, we had no way of tracking them down unless we went to their Twitter page. So we went to each individual page. It would have been easier to just created a Twitter account and follow all the food trucks we were hunting down to have all their locations on one page. But we never got around to doing that because of a mixture of reasons: half — neither of us wanted to give in and create a Twitter account; quarter– “Wouldn’t if be fun if we just drove around and found one? It’d be FATE!”; quarter — “Erm, you know it’s our last day here so maybe next time?”; and sprinkled with a heavy dose of laziness.
So, honestly, this is my preparation for my next trip to LA where I can resume hunting for my food.
Now, I am one of those people who should not have a Twitter account because I’m apathetic about following people or being followed. I would be perfectly happy if no one ever read anything I tweeted. And on that note, if people were to read my page, I am one of the those people whose tweets most people will read and think one of two things:
1. God, why doesn’t she just have a blog?
2. You know, I bet that boyfriend of hers she keeps mentioning is imaginary, because, honestly, who the hell would find demonic (okay, demented) growling like a manic wire-haired Jack Russell terrier (only NOT cute) when extremely happy, sexy?
For the record, he doesn’t find it sexy. He just laughs nervously and reminds himself that dating me is completely worth it because of my key lime pie. I know that could be left to some perverse interpretation, but, really, I make a really dreamy-creamy, tartly sweet key lime pie that is a very pale shade of yellow and speckled with bits of bright green zest from the lime rinds.
Believe me, it’s worth my crazy laughter.