Christmas 2015: Going home, coming back, and 'The Nutcraker'

Christmas is over! Still a bit hard to believe with the last couple of days being a whirlwind! I'm still coming down from my my ballet high. This year Michael got us tickets to 'The Nutcracker' for one of my Christmas gifts.




'The Nutcracker' was so much fun. The hall was decked out in Christmas decor and all the kids were so excited. The ballet itself was very festive and beautiful. It was my first time seeing 'The Nutcracker' and I loved every minute of it.

Before the ballet, Michael and I went to Petit Toulouse. They're rated top ten in best happy hours in the nation (according to their disclaimer on their menu)! The HH menu is pretty awesome though! Every single bite was delicious and none of the food went to waste.




Oh gosh. This white chocolate bread pudding was amazing. I am currently ranking it two in best desserts in Seattle, with the first being the maple bread pudding at Walrus & Carpenter.


Christmas Eve and Christmas Day we spent with Michael's family. As usual it was a blast with thoughtful gifts, great food, and great company.




Every year, I do miss my family. It's been three years since I spent a Christmas with them. Luckily, this year I flew down the weekend prior to Christmas to see them, also hoping to catch the birthing of my first little niece, Jasalyn. Of course, she was past due and didn't want to see me! But as I write this blog post, my sister is currently in labor, so I'm thinking good thoughts for her and her baby. By tomorrow morning Jasalyn will be sleeping in this little basinet Michael and I gifted to her.



I do have to admit, kids have grown on me! For awhile I thought I could do with or without them, but I am leaning toward them in the future now (like way wayyyyy in the future :P).


Now I can't wait to meet my niece next year!

How was your Christmas? Comment below :)

A Date Night: Walrus and the Carpenter

I can't believe it's the middle of October. Really guys, where did the time go? I cannot believe the agent round of Pitch Wars is three weeks away. Excuse me a moment while I hyperventilate.

Last week, I agonized over my pitch, query, synopsis, and first 250 words of my manuscript. Honestly, I think I'm overthinking it, but that didn't stop me from having a panic attack on Friday and texting my mentor about my insecurities. Brianna, as always, was encouraging and offered to help, which really calmed me down.

That night, I hung out with my writer friend Lisa over happy hour and dinner which also helped. It's nice to talk to someone who 'gets' it, someone who's on the same (though different) journey. It also made me see just how lucky I am to get the opportunity to work with someone already in the industry (thank you Brenda Drake for creating this fabulous contest). I ended the night by hanging out with Michael and his co-workers a little calmer than I felt all week.

On Saturday morning I woke up to the first 100 pages of line-edits from Brianna. Just glimpsing at the track changes overwhelmed me. I'm a REALLY anxious person so I took the day to absorb it. The day turned out pretty awesome despite the rainstorm. Michael took me out to Walrus and the Carpenter (one of our favorite restaurants) for a date night and it was amazing. I love eating sea creatures ;)



Oysters with a beautifully paired wine = heaven. I still can't get believe that I get to spend the rest of my life with this handsome fella! My stomach does flips just thinking about all the future date nights we'll get to have.


After oysters we moved on to octopus! Sliced so thin with a zesty marinade, it was absolutely divine on the taste buds. After having it this way, I rather have my octopus sliced thinly all the time thank you very much.


This was my fave dish of the night. A savory crawfish instead of the spicy creole style crawfish is normally served in, I gobbled this up and licked my fingers with no shame. Crawfish, like quail and crab, remind me of my childhood, so dishes like these always make me happy.

 
I've said this many times, but I'll say it again. This maple bread pudding is the best dessert in Seattle.
 
After this meal, you bet I woke up the next morning and worked all day on my line-edits. Delicious food is the cure for anxiety ;) Ha! At least that's what I tell myself!
 
How was your weekend?


Mkt.

It's been awhile since I've done a food/restaurant post. I hope you've already eaten, because I'm about to make you very hungry.

This past weekend Michael and I were invited to do a double date with our good friends at a new Ethan Stowell restaurant in Tangletown that recently opened called Mkt.


Mkt. is very small and intimate, serving Americana food. With an open kitchen with delicious smells wafting through the air and open windows for the summer breeze to come right in, giving out a casual vibe. You'd think the food would be just 'casual' too, but it was quite the opposite: classy and tasteful in a very good way.

We started the night with sparkling rose. Summer just equates to sparkling wine in my mind and it was delicious and went along with great conversation. We started off with Macrina Bakery baguette with olive tapenade and herb butter. For out first plate, we had the crispy fried quail with potato salad, and apple cider reduction.


Quail is always so yummy and delicate. It reminds me a lot of my childhood when my mom used to make quail. She doesn't make it too much now, and I for one wouldn't know where to get it, nor cook it! I will definitely put it on my try-to-cook list though. This quail, however, was one to remember, and certainly the best dish of the night.

Next we had the castelfranco salad with Spanish anchovy, smoked pecorini, and brioche breadcrumbs.


This salad had a ceaser-ish side to it, but with a hint of bitterness that lightened up the taste.

At our server's recommendation, we had stone-ground corn grits, with grilled porcini, bacon, crème fraiche, and sea beans.


Very decadent and savory tasting, but with a bright and acidic wine, it really hit the spot.

Then we had a grilled wagyu beef crusted with peppercorn, rosemary, fingerling potatoes, fried onions, and red wine sauce.


The red wine sauce added a depth to the steak and the fried onions were a nice touch texture-wise, making the dish very pleasurable to eat!

And what's a good meal without dessert? Chocolate terrine with salted caramel gelato. Need I say more? This was chocolatey, creamy, with a crunch of texture at the bottom. A version of heaven in dessert form!


If in the mood for Americana in Seattle, I'd happily recommend this place!

24th Birthday Thank You's, Hommage, and the Purple Balloons

A very big thank you to everyone who sent me kind birthday wishes via mailed cards, e-mail, text, phone calls, social media, blog comments, and in person throughout this past week. It meant the world to me and made my day brighter! So bright, it stopped the endless rain streak that was plaguing the Seattle area. Hello sun!

If you know me well, you know I have this aversion to getting older. I obsess about time and I like the idea about being young forever. Peter Pan syndrome for sure. Of course, everyone likes to remind me that I am still young, even at 24. And if yesterday was any hint at what the rest of my 24th year would be like, then I guess it isn't so bad.

 
Of course, like a responsible grown up, I went to work and was surprised to find my cube decorated with purple balloons and cards waiting for me to open. Another co-worker was also kind enough to take me out for coffee. These small acts of kindness and well wishes made work a little bit fun for once ;)


After work I grabbed my balloons and cards in a cheery spirit and went down to the parking garage. I placed all my birthday souvenirs into the back seat, and drove towards Seattle. Lo and behold the sun was freaking shining! This is a very big deal because it's been nonstop grey and raining, and I distinctly remember the bad weather on my Birthday last year. So thinking the Birthday gods were in my favor, I had this brilliant idea to open my sun roof.

The balloons went crazy from the suction. Leaping from the backseat to the front, reaching for escape, they blocked my field of vision just as I was going downhill during traffic hour. I flipped out, reaching for them, hoping to reign them in so I could shut this stupid sun roof. I managed to get my hands on two of them but the third busted free from the car taking my birthday cards with it. Shaken, I drove the rest of the way to Seattle with one hand on the wheel, and the other restraining the balloons. Once I got to my first stop light, I grabbed a pen from my purse and popped the rest of the balloons.

After that, I was pretty bummed. I have a thing for cards and I wanted to add them to my keepsake box, and I really wanted to show my cat the balloons (he's never seen one and I thought it would be a good brain stimulus for him). All was not lost though. At least I would definitely remember this day as the Birthday where I almost crashed from purple balloons. When I recounted this story to Michael, he shook his head, a hint of a smile on his lips, and said, "Only this kind of stuff would happen to you. Now you know, balloons should go in the trunk."

Ha! Like I'd ever put myself in a balloon situation again!

For dinner, Michael spoiled me by taking me to my favorite Seattle restaurant, Hommage, formerly known as The Book Bindery. I've mentioned it numerous times on my blog, but without photos. This post, however, be prepared to drool from my delicious meal! No, but really. This place is amazing. French Nouveau cuisine made by Chef Nico Borzee, it never ceases to amaze me how inventive these classic dishes can be. Beautifully prepared, engaging all the senses, it's like a glimpse into foodie heaven.

We started with the Chataigne, a chestnut soup with a foie gras custard, and burnt onion oil, served in this cute jar. It was really neat because the components were layered, and you could feel the cool layer of the custard and the warm chestnut soup puree. The burnt onion oil was also a really unique touch.


Next was the Trompette de la Mort, black trumpet mushrooms, goat cheese panna cotta, with a mushroom jus. What a savory, creamy, and decadent bite it was. I could eat bowls and bowls of this stuff.


The Carrotte, carrots braised in hay, rabbit jus, and bethmale goat milk cheese was just as good. With such different components that harmonized in such a surprising way, ordinary carrots became extraordinary.

For our mains, we shared the Saumon, cold-smoked kind salmon, with a 35-minute poached egg on a vodka crème fraiche, and the stuffed quail on a thinly sliced gratin. Words cannot describe how delicious they were. They left me speechless.



Everything went well with the bottle of French Pinot Noir. It was such a memorable meal.


To finish we had the tres leches for dessert and cheered with some brut rose. 24 never felt so fabulous!


So thank you to everyone! Just all your birthday wishes leading up to the day and throughout made me feel so loved and the gifts were just absolutely thoughtful. I am truly blessed and count my lucky stars for the fortunate life I have. It's made me realize that birthday's aren't about getting older or wiser, it's about celebrating another year of life. Not everyone is so fortunate to reach a certain age or grow up healthy and happy, so I am truly thankful for another year and for everyone that's come into my life. My encounters with you all have made me who I am and have shaped the life I live today.


My thanks and well wishes to you all <3

Tavern Hall, FLO Sushi, and Sunday Dinner

As you all know. I LOVE food. So this weekend was like an eat-fest of deliciousness.

After cooking all week,  Michael and I decided to grab a meal out on Friday. We tried a new place called Tavern Hall in Bellevue. Tavern Hall is a pub-style bar with an Irish décor vibe to it. Known for their Moscow Mule on tap, Michael and I both had one.


For our dinner, Michael had the Tavern Burger and I had the Chicken Sando. If you ever go, get the Chicken Sando. It is by far the best chicken sandwich I've ever had. So crispy, served on a rustic bun, with a crisp coleslaw, and spicy aioli, you'll think you're in chicken sandwich heaven after a bite.


On Saturday, I got a surprise gift from one of my sisters. Tea! Oh I do love tea.


Then that night we did a prebirthday celebration with Michael's sister (our birthdays are three days apart) and her husband at FLO sushi. We exchanged gifts and it was such a strange coincidence that we both got each other Kate Spade gifts!



 


Sunday was very rainy (as I write this, it's still raining), so Michael and I kept it low key. I spent the morning reading SPEAK (book review to come!) while Michael organized the garage and basement. For dinner, we realized we wanted to do something special because we'd be missing each other the next two weekends due to travel. Alas we did a team effort and made steak with onions and a green bean casserole. We opened a Maurice's estate Syrah from 2009 (my fave!) and had some dark chocolate for dessert.


A very good weekend of deliciousness indeed!

The Barrel Thief, Hommage, and the undomestic goddess.

I know I say this ALL THE TIME, but I need to say it again: the weekends just aren't long enough. To which Michael will always reply, 'Well, it is only two days.' That may be true, but I wish it were longer, and the week days quicker. I am seriously going stir crazy with my upcoming trip just around the corner. Like, why can't it be here already?

Okay, enough of my complaining and back to my blog post. This weekend I got to check out some new places, but I must have had a brain lapse or pre-vacation fever because I took zero photos of it, so I've linked their websites.

On Friday I hung out with my friend Lisa who recommended 'The Barrel Thief' in Fremont. I'd never been, but immediately liked it upon entering. It had a really dark and cozy vibe that made me feel like I was in some sort of UK pub rather than Seattle. They also had a coravin which made their wine selection diverse. Not to mention they had fresh air-popped truffle popcorn. YUM.

On Saturday night, Michael's parents took us to Hommage. Hommage used to be called The Book Bindery and was my favorite Seattle restaurant. For my post on The Book Bindery, click here. I was a bit apprehensive, thinking that maybe Hommage wouldn't live up to The Book Bindery. But with the new che, I was in for a surprise: it was better! Looks like I have a new favorite restaurant. What made me like it so much was the atmosphere, service, and the creativity of the menu. Everything tasted so damn good. Every little bite took me by suprise. So instead of just delivering great food and great services, they took it even further by getting us excited about the meal. If you are ever in Seattle, check it out. You won't be disappointed.

Again, I'm really sad that I missed out on taking photos. However, photos I do have are from my cooking attempts these past two weeks. This is kind of a big deal and blog post worthy because if you knew me, you would know that I hate to do all sorts of domestic things: cooking, cleaning, etc. But because Michael has been working a lot, I've taken over the cooking, meal planning, and grocery shopping. Nonetheless, the photos are not the best quality, rather they are proof that I have made some tasty stuff thanks to some food bloggers!



Butternut squash soup, Annie's crackers, and lemon pepper green beans.


Alfredo pasta not made with alfredo, also pictured below. Toppings inspired by Simply Clean Cooking and sauce by Nutrition Stripped. 
I paired it with a herb salad with a lemon vinigeratte. Though I learned I'm not much of a sun-dried tomatoes person

 

Pinch of Yum's enchilada casserole. I paired it with greek yogurt as a sub for sour cream, avocado, and limes!  

Pinch of Yum's Alfredo pasta bake using Nutrition Stripped's Not Alfredo Sauce and NS's Carrot, Orange, Ginger soup!


Plum Bistro

Last week my friend Cristine and I met for dinner at Plum Bistro, a highly recommended vegan restaurant on Capitol Hill. It was both our first time trying it out. When we got there, we were suprised at how small the restaurant was, but nontheless almost every seat in the house was taken on a Thursday night.

We decided to try some appetizers and split them family style. The first thing we tried was the russet fries. I was too eager to eat and missed a picture on this one. All in all, they were good fries. What I really liked were the three different aioli sauces that came with it. One aioli had incorporated dill in it which was a nice touch. Next we tried their avocado roll and famous mac' n yease.

 
The avocado roll was on the big side. Definitely hard to put in my mouth and chew, but it was pretty good. Although they didn't have chopsticks to go with the roll, which Cristine and I found unusual. I forgot how weird it was to eat a sushi roll with a fork! Anywho, the mac n' yease was really the star of the night. I can see why it's famous; it's super freaking delicious! Even better than a normal mac' n cheese, and I should know because it's one of my favorite comfort foods. I will highly recommend this place just for this appetizer (which I think should really be an entree because it was so tiny!).


For dessert we had the cheesecake. One bite of it and I was shocked. How can this be vegan, it tastes like the real thing? Clearly, Plum Bistro exceeded my expectations, so if you're on the lookout for a vegan joint in Seattle, this is the place to go.