Best night at Hommage

I've mentioned Hommage many times on my blog such as here, here, and here! Rightly so, since it is my favorite restaurant! So I couldn't help but post again about this amazing place, especially because I got to meet the chef, Nico Borzee, and I totally had a fan girl moment!


We went this past Saturday with Michael's parents as a special occasion, and I have to say out of the times we've gone, that night was perhaps the best. The fact that this place can still surprise me speaks volumes.

With the sun shining, a table with the view of the canal, and excellent wine, it made for a good atmosphere. To start we had the carrots, salad, and a buckwheat crepe. Check out the edible art!


The cool concept with the carrots was that the chef wanted to invoke the sense of new carrots sprouting from the ground like spring, so the dish was warm and cool and the texture felt like the best 'dirt' I'd ever eaten.

 
 The salad was a farm fresh salad with lemon spray and walnut sauce. Yum


The crepe was excellent with the egg yolk and ham. Good balance of savory with nice textures.

For our main dinner we decided do the two specials of the night. A red snapper and pork cut. For all these dishes there were way better names than what I'm coming up with, but you get the idea.


The fish was my favorite part. I love snapper and it was made perfectly, cooked over a piece of wood from a wine barrel with an orange glaze. So succulent and moist, it was delightful.


Equally good and Michael's favorite was the pork served right out of the pot! Savory without being oily or salty with a carmelized sauce, it was definitely a hit.


For dessert we had some chocolate, but the way it was delivered was cool, sweet, with a touch of salt that balanced it out. One of the best desserts I've had.

If you're ever in Seattle, this is my top recommendation. Consistently exceptional, it will certainly surprise you.

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!

Vegas photos, a dose of nostalgia, and a poem.

I should've blogged about my sister weekend in Vegas, but life got busy, and whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, right? So instead of bombarding you with pictures, I picked out my favorites (most from just the first night). If you're curious, we did XS Friday, Rehab pool party Saturday, Omnia that night, and Sunday was spent sinning with food.


Saw Zedd. Highlight of the trip!



My partner in crime.


After a few busy weeks, life is finally starting to slow down just in time for summer. Since I've been taking a break from writing after completing my first draft, I've had the time to finally watch Season Two of 'The Paradise' and if you can believe it, went through my entire e-mail box from college. I had 7,600 e-mails since I last checked it! I cleaned it up and started archiving old creative writing assignments and papers just because I think it'll come in handy for story ideas. Not to mention, just knowing I have that bulk of work really makes me elated at how I've evolved as a writer. It's just really amazing when you think about all the work it took to get that piece of parchment (degree). Lab reports, research papers, science papers, theoretical papers, critical essays, and creative assignments. I just love it. It's made me so nostalgic for school.

Funny how at the time I just wanted it to be over and done with and now I find myself wishing I could go back. Where has the time gone?

Stepping away from the cubicle the other day waiting in the Starbuck's line I jotted down a quick poem about it on my phone:

A strange longing
of hazelnut coffee cups and freshly mowed lawns.
Conversations at picnic tables
with minds that can read my own.
Pressed notebooks with ink stains.
Stacks of books with too many owners.

I feel brave, new, scared, but learning
with every page that I'm turning.

In the moment it feels like forever;
an impasse from reality,
but it is the reality I miss.
Along with the hazelnut coffee,
biking under arches of trees,
as the sunlight beams on me.

I know this place, I know them all,
even when I don't.
But a strange pull, and big dreams,
pull us all together.
That I wonder where we've all ended up.

Asia Vacation: Day 11 & 12 / A to Z Challenge

D is for dawn.

We (my two sisters, Michael, and I) literally arrived at dawn in Seoul, South Korea on day 11 of our Asia vacation. The red eye had been long enough that it made us uncomfortable, but short enough that we couldn't get any sleep.

And right as we waited for our train I was pushed from behind. I turned behind me and found an elderly man. Everyone laughed and Michael informed me that the elderly here weren't the friendliest bunch. I'll say! What a stark contrast to my grandparents! During this trip, I was pushed a lot by old people. Perhaps they were attracted to my purple coat or something.

We dropped off our bags at the hotel and went to a Starbuck's for much needed coffee then explored Gagnum and had breakfast at Butterfinger Pancakes. Their portions were so huge we had to split our entrees, but so good. After we walked around for a bit and did some shopping.



My first reaction to Seoul was how westernized it was, that if I hadn't known better, I probably wouldn't have been able to distinguish it from any other city. Of course we weren't going during tourist season so maybe that would have changed my perspective?

And oh man was it cold. Freezing really, compared to the eighty degree weather we had just left. Now it was 30 degree weather which was a big adjustment. Throw in exhaustion from the red-eye flight and we were beat. We had an early dinner then all went to sleep.





To make up for our early night, Day 12 started off packed! We went to Gyeongbok Palace. The palace was expansive and well kept. It was pretty, and I expect it would have been even better in the spring of fall. But we made do and took photos galore!








By the end of it we were famished, so we headed to Myeong-dong and had lunch at Bulgogi Brothers.





After that we shopped and took a rest at the hotel before venturing out for the night. Street food vendors were everywhere and so enticing they became our dinner.





For dessert, we went to Poem Café and had waffles and tea (apparently they love waffles in South Korea, but I'm not complaining because so do I).






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!

Asia Vacation 2015: Day 2

The 2009 Da Nang was quiet, small, and neighborhoody to 18 year-old me. The 2015 Da Nang, however, is bustling with growing towers, touristy resorts, and wait a minute... an amusement park? Oh my, how much the city has grown over the years!

The amusement park isn't technically in the city, but about a 25 minute drive up the mountains. Upon arrival it seemed small, but let me tell you, it was huge! So huge we didn't even see the whole thing that day.

After buying tickets in town, we drove up to this resort where a cable car was stationed that would take us up to Ba Na Hills. The cable car ride was long, and I'm glad it was because there was so many beautiful sights to see and take in despite the overcast!




When we got to the first landing we immediately went to the temples. With the cloudy fog it was like stepping into some sort of huge film set. Really neat views that kind of made it all surreal. Over and over, I kept thinking in my head, am I really in Vietnam?





After the temples, we headed to the large gardens and I was struck by how much it reminded me of my time in Paris. Paris was where I was used to seeing such gardens, not here! But I guess I shouldn't be surprised since there's already so much influence from the French colonization.





After the gardens we took a another short cable car up higher in the mountains to the amusement park. You could not miss the European influence here!







After walking around and checking out the place, we ducked in doors and rode rides and played our hearts out! If you're ever in the area, I recommend making this a stop. You could just walk for hours and hours here. Even farther up the mountain there were more sites to see, but we were uber tired and called it a day. We headed back to my grandpa's for dinner then to our hotel and called it a night.