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Sailing, Kimbap, Shanghai Dumplings, Egg Tarts

15 Jul

I remembered to take pictures of sailing last Saturday at the Cal Sailing Club. It was my second sailing lesson and it went great! I hope that I’ll get a few more chances to go before I have to leave California. I already know that we probably won’t have a chance to go this weekend and then the next weekend, we were invited (last minute) to a wedding! I learned a lot this lesson because I got a chance to sail. Our instructor this time, Pierro, was a really detailed teacher. So far I know how to set the boat into the water from a raised dock, tie the boat to dock, rig the sails to be ready to sail, use the tiller (toward the boom = toward the wind, away from the boom = away from the wind), and tacking (changing directions when sailing into the wind). I just hope I can remember all the info the next time I go. I’m bad at sailing at the right angle to the wind (30 is best) but it wasn’t bad for my first time. I didn’t capsize or get seasick!

sail boats at dock

The boat I’m learning is the one with the purple sail in the picture above. It’s a 15-foot Laser Performance Bahia and can fit four people (instructor + 3 students).

the clubhouse

windsurfers and kayakers

Cal Sailing Club also has windsurfing lessons included in membership. You can also borrow wet suits, wet weather gear and PFDs (personal floatation devices).

After sailing, it’s lunchtime so it’s a nice reward to go find something yummy to eat. We ended up in south Berkeley this time where there are lots of cheap eats for college students. I really wanted kimbap for some reason so we stopped at Kimchi Garden for some. Brian was going to go for other stuff somewhere else but when we saw how big the order was, we ended up just having this and bubble tea. This whole order was less than $6!! The restaurant apparently has really bad reviews but my order came out really fast and tasted good so I’ll say it’s safe to order kim bap at least. It even came with kimchi and spicy fish cake.

super huge kim bap

Bubble tea was from Sweet Heart Cafe on the same block. I got the red bean milk coffee with tapioca, which was not bad. The coffee was strong and the red beans on the bottom were tasty. Brian’s vanilla milk green tea with tapioca was watery with a strong green tea flavor.

We then went to the area where Berkeley Labs is located, which has awesome views high up. The platform is right outside the Lawrence Hall of Science. You can see far from this view point. We can even see Berkeley Marina where we were sailing.

That night I didn’t feel like cooking so we ate out with Amanda’s family plus Kim who was visiting (Cornell friend). We ate at Shanghai Dumplings in Cupertino and had siu long bao a.k.a. soup dumplings (regular and crab), chow mien, rice cakes, and pork sticky rice in a hollowed out bamboo stem.

pork bamboo sticky rice in hollow bamboo

siu long bao, crab on the bottom

They were pretty tasty but the ones from Joe’s Shanghai in NYC were richer/fattier. The noodles at Joe’s Shanghai were also better but the food here was good. They even have a dumpling station where you can watch them make the dumplings.

On Sunday, Amanda’s Dad threw a World Cup Finals party. They had cooked up some salmon, chicken and kielbasa while everyone else brought a dish (there was so much food). Since I was unsatisfied with the dan tat from the cooking lesson, I made my own. I knew I had to make a lot and didn’t want to spend too much time on them so I cheated and used store bought refrigerated pie crusts (the rolled ones). For the filling I followed this recipe but added 3 Tbsp of sugar to the filling because it wasn’t sweet enough when paired with the salty pie crust. The crust in the recipe is supposedly very sweet. Make sure you strain the filling or you’ll end up with white spots from the egg white protein. I didn’t have a strainer so my first two batches had spots. This filling recipe makes around 48 egg tarts IF you use a regular sized empty can as a cookie cutter and re-roll pie crust scraps. I used up two packages of crusts (4 pieces total).

dan tat (egg tarts)

Bake at 375 F for about 15-17 minutes, depending on your oven. They should be done soon after they puff up. Stick a wooden skewer in them to test if the filling is set. You don’t want to overcook these because you’ll get tough eggs. I found that the ones that didn’t puff didn’t come out as nice (the egg had leaked below the crust due to overfilling or shaking the pan when putting it into the oven). Egg leakage meant soggy dark bottoms due to excess moisture and sugar. They were still edible but not very presentable.

in the oven

smooth, sweet custard

Even though the crust wasn’t authentic, they were a hit at the party! They were easy to make so I’m going to make more soon.

Dim Sum Cooking Class @ Kitchen on Fire

14 Jul

This weekend has been super packed that I haven’t had the energy to blog about it all. I have a backlog of pictures to share with you. Expect two more posts after this one this week.

On Friday night, I drove down to Mountain View to pick Brian up so we could drive all the way up to Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto to attend the Dim Sum cooking class at Kitchen on Fire. Brian gifted me a cooking class for the past valentine’s day but I haven’t had a chance to go till now (plus it was really hard to pick a class). I put my email on the waiting list for the dim sum class and space opened up so we were able to go. The class was taught by Chef Chat Mingkwan and was $65 for 3 hours in an awesome kitchen space. The place was small but every inch was well utilized so that it didn’t feel cramped. When you get there they have snacks set up; we had cheese, crackers, pistachios, dried fruit, fried rice balls filled with meat, water and Thai iced tea (yum)!

siu mai

There was about an hour long lesson where the Chef explained all the ingredients and the processes but there was very little hands on demonstration. Then we were let loose to rotate around the stations to explore and try out the recipes ourselves. There were assistants to help and the Chef walked around and helped each station but if you weren’t there when he was explaining stuff then you miss out. You have to keep an open ear and ask questions to learn as much as you can. Overall, it was a fun class. The only complaints are the lack of demonstration during the lecture and how the recipes weren’t authentic. The har gou filling was an overly salted paste instead of having shrimp inside. The egg tart (dan tat) had coconut and was more like a macaroon cupcake than an egg custard (someone even added craisins to a later batch! yuck). The siu mai wasn’t bad but wasn’t like the ones from the restaurants. The best things were the pot stickers, char siu bao, gai lan, and sesame seed red bean balls.

deep fried red bean paste sesame balls

har gou

char siu bao in the making

Chef Mingkwan checking the steamers

freshly steamed char siu bao

coconut dan tat (egg tarts)

ready to eat!

Tartine Bakery, CSA, and Bento 40

3 Jul

We’re going camping this weekend!! Look forward to an update with lots of camping goodness since it’s my first time camping. We’re going car camping though so it’s not truly camping but it’s a good start.

I went to Tartine Bakery to pick up two loaves of my favorite bread in the world, sourdough walnut bread. We’re bringing it camping to make sandwiches for hiking and for general nomming. It’s amazing by itself but goes great with manchego cheese. While there, I also picked up a sandwich for dinner and dessert. Tartine is overpriced but it’s so delicious. I’m sure I’ll get tired of overpaying soon but there’s still so many things I want to try! They ran out of almond croissants though. I was so sad. Those are amazing. Well, it’s another excuse to go back!

look at the size of this thing!! ~$7

spicy turkey pesto panini $13.50

seasonal fruit tart with pluots $5.50

Here’s a bento I made this week, nothing really special. Rice ball “cupcakes” with purple furikake “sprinkles”, grilled makerel and sweet egg leftovers, cabbage omelette and a strawberry.

bento 40

Our 6th CSA share! Only 3 more left before our subscription runs out.

CSA share 6

This week we got:
strawberries – bringing camping
red butter leaf lettuce
cabbage
romaine lettuce
golden beets
parsley root + parsley
cipollinni onions
cauliflower
cherry tomatoes – bringing camping

close up

glistening strawberries

A Great Saturday

28 Jun

On Saturday we got up early to go to a sailing lesson at Berkeley Marina with the Cal Sailing Club. It was great! The weather was perfect and the wind was calm. I was supposed to get a turn at the helm but the person before me went too far out into the choppy water (3′ waves) and I got really bad motion sickness. So we ended up sailing back to shore. Next time I’ll make sure to go first. Sailing requires a lot of teamwork and there’s so much to learn in terms of concepts, all the parts of the boat and how to use them (ropes galore!), and balance, which all complicated by terminology! There’s so much to learn! I’ll get pictures next time, because I didn’t want to worry about taking pictures on the first day.

After sailing, we went to the Cheeseboard Pizza Collective in Berkeley. It’s one of the best pizza places I’ve been to and that’s saying a lot since I’m from Brooklyn! They only make 1 pizza flavor a day and you can get a slice, half a pie or a whole pie. With every half or whole pie you get an extra half slice. They have interesting soft drinks for $2, wine, cookies and salad. That’s the whole menu. Luckily there was no line when I went (during lunch it’s not unusual to see at least 20 people in line). Either way they’re fast because they only make 1 flavor of pizza. They post on twitter what they have daily.

half a pie

the menu with the daily offerings

Next door is the Cheeseboard Collective, which sells tons of different cheeses, freshly baked pastries and bread, coffee and other hot drinks, as well as ready made pizza from next door to heat up at home. We picked up a corn and cherry scone and a brioche bun for breakfast the next day along with a big block of manchego for the camping trip this weekend!

cheese list at the cheeseboard collective

just some of the cheeses in the case

We walked around after lunch then went home to rest and get ready for Admob’s Memories Party. Admob got acquired by Google so this was their last company party. It was held at MacAuthor Park Restaurant in Palo Alto. The restaurant was dim so I apologize for the fuzzy pictures. There was free flowing wine and lots of delicious hor douvrs, cheese and veggie platters. The food for the sit down dinner was excellent. No complaints at all. I got the Filet Mignon and Brian got the veggie rice dish. Both had great flavor and the beef was cooked perfectly. We tried both dessert options and the mud pie was surprisingly good. It overshadowed the cheesecake, which was good by itself but not the best we’ve had.

Spinach salad with apple, cranberry, feta cheese and orange dressing

Filet Mignon with cheesy mashed potato and veggies

Grilled vegetables with pesto over rice

Cheesecake with orange glaze and berry sauce

Mud pie - chocolate and coffee ice cream pie with chocolate and caramel sauce and peanuts

The lovely outdoor cocktail area.

Afterwards we went to the after party at Nola’s. There was a cool balcony area upstairs that has an open ceiling. Only issue was that the space was way too small for all of us and the cocktail waiters did a crappy job getting the drink orders. We left after waiting over an hour for our second order of drinks.

Backlog of food photos + Bento 39

28 Jun

I haven’t been motivated to write up a post for you all even though I have been taking pictures and all. Now that the weekend is over, I have no excuse to clear out the pictures that have been queuing up on my desktop.

Let’s start off with a bento I made last week. I only have access to two bento boxes (this one and a lock n lock) so they are a little bland in color. I’ll have to try to make more color foods.

bento 39

This bento has cut up homemade peanut zong zi, pork gyoza, and homemade pickled carrots from a previous CSA share. Our newest CSA share didn’t have carrots but had lots of other yummy stuff.

CSA share 5, click for notes

Week 5’s box had (going clockwise from left):
purple cocktail onions – fancy
green butter lettuce
huge bunch of Italian basil – eeks! no food processor/blender to make pesto!
mei quin choi – yay! Chinese veggies! so fresh and good.
gem lettuce (i think..or romaine)
strawberries
romanesco broccoli – tasted like cauliflower!
red norland potatoes
green beans

We ate out a few times even though we had so much food at home. I was really tired of cooking and all the leftovers were getting old so we ignored them and ended up throwing out a bunch of stuff last night. =( I hate wasting food.I need to learn to not buy so much and not cook so much because we only have two people to eat it all (versus 4-5 in my family).

On Friday night we went to Hotaru in downtown San Mateo. The Wine Walk event was occurring where streets were closed off for wine tasting booths on the street and in the stores downtown. It was lively with people enjoying live music, hor douvrs, and local wine. We walked around that for a bit before having dinner.

udon combo 1

Brian got the udon combo with grilled mackerel and California roll. I tried chirashi for the first time. I loved it! The fish here is really fresh and had a lot of flavor. There was also shrimp, octopus, squid, and sweetened egg along with tuna, salmon, and two types of white fish I couldn’t identify.

chirashi regular

For Sunday lunch we went to Saigon City in San Mateo. It was one of the hottest weekends of the summer though it was nothing compared to how hot and humid New York gets. We wanted non-hot food so we ordered banh mi. I got the ham and he got pork. They were really good. The bread was soft yet still had a nice chew unlike most Vietnamese sandwiches that are really chewy. My ham sandwich had two types of ham and pate. The pork was tender, flavorful and grilled nicely (not burnt). Both sandwiches were great with hot sauce.

ham banh mi

pork banh mi

Check out my next post for what we did on Saturday, there will be lots of pictures!

Picnic at Vasona Lake

16 Jun

We crashed got invited to a picnic outing/biking event at Vasona Lake Park on Sunday. It was a party consisting of several families who’s parents knew each other from college. Everybody brought food, bikes and other fun things to do. It was a gorgeous hot day and there were lots of people enjoying the park. The park was big enough that it didn’t feel crowded at all. One of the families went super early to reserve a bunch of picnic tables that were right by the lake yet under shade. They set up a bunch of chairs right in front of the water and the breeze felt so good.

bikes mounted to car, ready to go!

our tables loaded with food

the lakeside deck

our view, we could walk into the water if we wanted to

You could even rent peddle boats and kayaks for $15/hr along with other stuff. People were paddling surf board type things while standing and there was a sail boat. There were lots of dogs in boats too!

chocolate chip cookie dough cupcake

I made chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes. The cookie dough was from scratch, the cake and frosting from a box/tub. They came out great! The key is to freeze the dough completely and then not over bake so the cookie doesn’t cook. I followed this recipe. After food some of us played ultimate frisbee but most of us were out of shape that we only scored 2 goals (tie game) before we quit. It was too hot to keep going anyway.

water guns = refreshing

Then water guns came out to cool everyone down. After more food, drinks and sunblock, we biked around the lake. We went about halfway then turned back because not everyone was experienced enough to go all the way. After relaxing on the deck and playing with bubbles, we started a water balloon toss. Once we had a winner, it was free for all. For some reason my balloons don’t pop when they hit people, they just bounce off them!

When balloons hit me though, they popped.. 2 on my shorts! Brian wasn’t playing and was taking pictures instead. After a group photo, one of the adults took a water balloon that he saved without anyone knowing and popped it while pretending to give Brian a hug. Since I was standing right by him, I got splashed too.. gee thanks!

the aftermath

Thanks Amanda for inviting us to the picnic!!!

And here are some pictures of what we ate on Saturday at Maru Ichi in Mountain View.

hiyashi chuka - cold noodle salad

kuru ramen, california roll, gyoza

Both were really good. Kuru Ramen is blacked or roasted garlic soup based ramen. The pork was super soft and melts in your mouth. The cali roll wasn’t great but the pot stickers weren’t bad. Beware, that yellow stuff on the side of the hiyashi chuka is horseradish/wasabi. I didn’t know what it was so I tasted it. It buuuurned. Not smart.

More food

8 Jun

We still have a lot of CSA veggies to eat up this week. We have both the lettuces, half the agretti, arugula, squash, half the parsley and half the cilantro. Going to be a salad filled week. We’re getting more parsley and lettuce this week too. I discovered I really dislike parsley, even more so than cilantro. I made a pesto and used up half the cilantro and parsley but I didn’t like it too much so I stuck it in the freezer for later use.

Turns out agretti is pretty tasty. It’s salty and sour with a nice crisp texture. Almost like a scallion with lemon but without the spicy bite of onion. I used half of it in agretti parathas using this recipe. Indian flat bread is nice and chewy. The recipe calls for rolling out 20 pieces but that makes them too small so I cut them a bit bigger. Very satisfying to snack on. Here’s a picture of the “rolling pin” I used since Brian’s kitchen is lacking.

a good snack

The strawberries we got were really ripe this time so we had to use them up fast. We made strawberry muffin batter and then realized we didn’t have muffin tins so we improvised with a foil pie pan and a $2 tart pan I got from the thrift store. Recipe here, I added 1/2 tsp of cinnamon and a splash of vanilla.

For Saturday dinner we ate out because it was too late to cook. We went to Old Town Sushi again because I wanted salmon. We over ordered by accident (combo was bigger than we thought) so I had leftovers for lunch the next day.

dragon roll: crab salad (again) with shrimp tempura plus eel, masago, and avocado on the outside

beef teriyaki + dragon roll combo

lion king roll: baked salmon roll with crab salad inside

The rolls were okay but had that crab salad crap again. Next time I will get raw sushi and not these elaborate high calorie rolls. I wonder if they have any fancy rolls without that crab salad. The salmon was cooked perfectly and tasted great. I wish the roll wasn’t drowning in sauce though. The beef teriyaki wasn’t great, the beef was cooked well with a pink middle but it wasn’t marinated or cooked in the teriyaki sauce so it had little flavor. The sauce itself was gluey like it was cornstarch based and had very little flavor. It came with a tiny portion of seaweed salad though, yum. Combo also came with miso soup and salad and we got free edamame again. It’s funny how they give out free edamame but other restaurants charge $3-4 for it.