Photo Diary: Heat Wave Cravings

July 26, 2011 § 2 Comments

The heat wave was almost unbearable last weekend with its triple digit heat. It also ruined Wayne and my weekend plans to try something new and go hiking. Instead, we spent the entire weekend trying new-to-us places to eat. So instead of trying something new and being super active, we tried something new and were super gluttonous. Same thing, right?

To be honest, my goal last weekend was to drink sangria and lay out in the sun sprawled out like a starfish. It was too humid for me to lay outside, but at least I got my sangria.

We also tried out a pizza place, Pupatella, that was touted on yelp for creating authentic Neapolitan pizzas. Their simple margherita pizza was so delicious and way better in quality than what I was expecting for dinner that night since my only prerequisite for dinner was a place that I could eat the meal with my hands– apparently the heat wave causes me to be a sangria-drinking toddler. However, I retained enough of my sanity to want to go back and try their other pizzas. I think it’s our new favorite pizza place, especially when we arrive between the rush of traffic of hungry pizza-eaters.

After hearing our friends talk about Toki Underground, we really wanted to try it since we’ve been on a ramen kick and the place is the only place we know of in the DC area that sells Taiwan beer, a true novelty for my beer-lovin’ Taiwanese boyfriend. It was hard to find– and we ended up walking past it a couple times–, because the only sign signaling that it was Toki Underground was a blue symbol on the door. And it was on the second floor of the building, not underground.

The ramen broth and noodles were good. Though the pork was really tough and chewy and bothersome to eat. And I took out the red ginger slices. I didn’t compare it to Daikokuya; it was pointless to compare since they have different flavors and interpretations of the pork bone ramen, especially since this place is Taiwanese. I thought it was hilarious that the soup spoon was a ladle. I prefer the tonkotsu ramen at Satsuma but I think we’ll definitely return to Toki Underground because they sell Taiwan beer and the ramen was pretty good.

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Surprise!

July 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

After walking home from work in triple digit heat (Fahrenheit), I was surprised with a lovely box wrapped with a satin bow…

So…What crazy hot heat wave, East Coast? BECAUSE IT’S CHRISTMAS RIGHT NOW IN THIS APARTMENT! I’ll rip up pieces of white paper, toss them in the air, and make pretend-snow! And maybe rip up some other colored paper to make rainbow pretend-snow (…cuz if you’re going to make pretend-snow, why settle on just white?).

Wayne gave them to me as an anniversary present, but Michel’s Patisserie was back-ordered so Wayne was only able to pick them up today.

Thank you, Michel, for reminding me that all other macaron makers in the DC area don’t have a clue with what they’re doing.

For my review on macarons from Michel’s Patisserie: click here
For additional photos of macarons from Michel’s Patisserie: click here

Summer Addiction: Pitango Gelato

July 10, 2011 § 2 Comments

ad·dict·ed/əˈdiktid/Adjective

1. Physically and mentally dependent on a particular substance, and unable to stop taking it without incurring adverse effects.
2. Enthusiastically devoted to a particular thing or activity.

After dinner with my family, Wayne and I took a long detour on the way home to stop by a Pitango so I could get my Pitango gelato-specific fix. And oh it was glorious. We had to wait in a long line because the Pitango we went to was located in the middle of a town festival, but it was completely worth it (and it also helped that the staff were super speedy). Even though chocolate hazelnut is my all-time faayyyyyvorite, I thought that I should try more favors so I picked pistachio and strawberry. Every flavor I sampled tasted so vibrant and creamy that I felt guilty picking the same flavor twice. Channeling my inner Phoebe from Friends, I didn’t want all the other flavors to feel left out and unloved.

(I love everything about Pitango so much; I am even in love with the font!)

Midnight Snack

July 9, 2011 § 2 Comments

Usually I fall asleep at around 10:26 PM. Sometimes earlier, sometimes just a bit later, but usually I’m so predictable that Wayne could set his watches by when I nod off. My yawns become louder and more frequent until suddenly they stop. For some reason though, I have the tiniest bout of insomnia tonight and have actually managed to stay up past midnight! Not going to lie, I’m kind of impressed with myself. In fact, I thought I would celebrate with a midnight snack.

I have been seriously craving fudgey, moist brownies for the past week. I thought tonight would be the perfect time bake a box of brownie mix and pair it with a scoop of slowly melting vanilla bean ice cream because staying up past midnight always makes me a little Proustian for specifically that combination, right down to the fact that it has to be a box of brownie mix. Back in high school and during breaks from college, Naomi and I would frequently have sleepovers, and we would watch movies while we impatiently waited for the brownies to bake. Then we would eagerly cut crumbly squares of steaming hot brownies because we couldn’t wait for the brownies to cool and settle. I loved the pool of the black-speckled, cream-colored melted vanilla ice cream that would surround my thick, dense square of brownie and then seeing the brownie crumbs get carried away as my plate gently tipped to different sides as I held it in my hand.

The only thing I love more than breakfast

June 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

I love brunch.

It makes me feel so efficient because I feel as if I’m eating two meals at once! And I love the extra food options since brunch contains the best parts of breakfast that are asked to stay a little extra longer and entertain and the surprise!-we-knew-you-couldn’t-wait-til-it-was-actually-time-for-lunch offerings as well.

Maybe the lunch offerings don’t really matter since I always, always, always pick the French toast made from smushed and battered buttery croissants or the crispy, thin crepes hiding warm, oozy Nutella and caramelized banana slices, but at least Wayne can mix up his brunch selections and not get bored.

And that little detail of Wayne not getting bored of brunch is key so that I can keep eating and eating my French toast that was topped with strawberry butter that I thought was ice cream– too bad I was horribly wrong about it not being ice cream– because I can never get bored of eating my favorite things, repeatedly.

It’s my super power. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do anything helpful in terms of trying to save the world.

Easy as Pie: Strawberry, Mango, and Peach Pie

May 26, 2011 § 1 Comment

I get the feeling that whoever popularized the phrase, “easy as pie” either was only talking about the second half of the pie making process wherein peeled fruit, sugar, and a bit of butter can easily be haphazardly tossed into a pie shell, covered with a pie crust that magically appeared from the piecrust-making fairies, and thrown into the oven at 350F or 375F for around an hour, or that person was using the phrase as a marketing ploy for pre-made pie crusts, in which case, he was a genius and a liar. Or maybe he was just talking about key lime pies where all anyone needs to do to create the crust is pulverize ginger snaps and mix with melted butter. Either way, hand-making the pie crust is not “easy as pie”, even with a stand mixer and a food processor. The rolling out the dough process makes me nervous. The usage of lard and butter frightens me—where do I even get lard these days? I’ve read in so many food blogs that a good rule of thumb is that only when you feel like dying do you know you’re making a good pie crust; that tidbit of knowledge causes me to quiver in a corner of my kitchen with my rolled up pre-made pie dough as weapon.

While I like making my cakes, cupcakes, and cheesecakes from scratch, I have absolutely no qualms with having a little help from the supermarket when it comes to fruit pies. The fruits are pre-cut and frozen; the pie crust has the perfect  zig-zag edge and frozen; and the pie dough is ready to be rolled out and cut into strips then covered with an egg wash. I’m cheating, I know. And it kind of makes me feel like a rebel. Ooh. I like that.

In my defense, this way actually brings truth to “easy as pie”. And it doesn’t make me cry and want to die just to get a decent pie.

Since we’re visiting Wayne’s parents this Memorial Day weekend, I wanted to bake them something. I know his parents love my peach pie, but I decided to go throw in some  additional summery fruits, strawberries and mango– I’m convinced ripe mango is nature’s creamy jell-o–, along with the peaches since this weekend marks the beginning of summer. I used this peach recipe as a guideline for measurements, but I didn’t follow it very strictly and threw in substitutions based on my mood. Here’s the recipe I ended up with by the time I put the pie in the oven:

Ingredients:
1 lb of fruit (thawed, please)
1/3 cup of all-purpose flour (I threw in a little more to help prevent the pie from being runny from the extra water in the frozen fruit)
1 cup of brown sugar
1/2 tbsp of cinnamon (Okay, I’m just lying here about the measurement. I shook the bottle until I liked the pattern that came out. I’ll say around 8 shakes? Maybe 10?)
1/4 cup (I guesstimated here, might have been less) of butter that has been set out on the counter for 20 minutes
1 deep-dish pie crust (probably in pie tin)
1 pre-made rolled pie dough
1 egg

Method:
1. Set oven at 350F.
2. Cut the butter in to small pieces. Pour in the sugar and flour. Sprinkle the cinnamon. Mix with two forks until crumbly.
3. Line the bottom of the pie with half of the fruit. Cover the fruit with half of the butter-flour-sugar-cinnamon mixture. Then line the rest of the fruit on to the pie and cover with the butter-flour-sugar-cinnamon mixture.
4. Roll out the pie dough and cut into strips about an inch to an inch and a half (I was bad at eye-balling it; the strips came out diagonal after a while).
5. Weave the stripes on top of the pie in a criss-cross fashion to create a lattice top.
6. Break the egg into a small bowl and mix it with a pastry brush to prepare the egg wash. Brush the egg wash onto the lattice top.
7. Bake the pie for an hour, or until crust is golden.
8. After the hour is done, turn off the oven and leave the pie in the oven for an hour, or overnight. This will help the juices in the pie thicken and prevent runny-ness.

Peking Duck at China Wok

May 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

I love China Wok.

For the record, this restaurant shouldn’t exist. I love this restaurant so much, and I am in complete shock that this restaurant exists in my little corporate town. My little corporate town is a blackhole for good food. Sure, there’s a Maggianos and a Morton’s, but before Wayne and I found this place, the only Chinese option was Panda Express, or PF Chang’s if we felt like paying more for the same Americanized Chinese food offered at Panda Express. I call my no-name of a town “corporate” because surrounding my little suburban cluster of apartment and condo complexes are mountains of tall buildings with big names. The supermarket was built only three years ago, and it’s half the size of a regular one. My little corporate town does not even exist on map by the name that the town it calls itself. But then again, we call our little corporate town after our mall, so maybe that should say something. We have three Louis Vuittons within walking distance of each other but we don’t have a name to put on our mailing addresses. I feel like we’re borrowing the names of our surrounding towns to identify our location.

We don’t really have a name, but we have amazing Peking duck.

I love the Peking duck at China Wok. Sometimes the chef comes out to cut the duck at our table. Other times, when he’s on vacation or it is his night off, the duck is cut into slices in the back and then brought out. The skin is very crispy. The duck meat is succulent and juicy. And the pancakes are made by hand, in house, which is a huge deal considering that Wayne and I paid more for duck that was served with warm tortillas at Mark’s Duck House– unfortunately, that place is only 15 minutes away; if only we knew better. What blows my mind is that the Peking duck is only $28 at China Wok, which is $10 less than Peking Gourment Inn, the supposed best place for duck in Northern Virginia where Wayne and I waited two hours for a table, even with reservation, and I felt underwhelmed with the duck. Mark’s Duck House, the place that served tortillas instead of the traditional pancakes, charges $32, AND the duck meat was dry.

I know the duck is good when I walk out of the restaurant feeling completely full but still craving duck and trying to plot how to convince Wayne to come back with me the next day.


China Wok
8395 Leesburg Pike
Vienna, VA 22182
(703) 893-4488

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