Summer Magic Autumn Kiss

Remember when we were kids and the main question going around on the first day of school was, “What did you do this summer?” The kid with the furthest family trip was the cool kid that day.  Although I’m not in school anymore, I still like to reflect on what I did for summer.  A few mini vacations, great times with close friends, making new friends, eating watermelon, concerts, food events, celebrating our one year wedding anniversary, and the announcement of a special package.  Here’re a few of my favorite moments from this past summer.

shaved ice from Class 302
beach going…
Dole Whip on a hot day…
hiking in Yosemite to find this view…
watermelon, mint, and feta bites…
the beautiful beaches in Oahu…
wearing bright colors…
summer salads…
barbecues…

love…
girly weekend getaways…
new adventures…

There’s so much to be thankful for.  I’m glad I got to spend the time with great people.  As with the excitement that grows before the first day of school, my excitement grows for the upcoming holidays. Pumpkin spice, decorating, shopping for presents, and if you have been following me on Instagram, an addition to our family! I can’t be any more excited! What did you do this summer?

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Octoplace

Guess what? My friends over at Octoplace.com chose me as their featured foodie! How exciting! We spent a day together, and I took them to my favorite places in the Arts District Los Angeles.  I talked about my blog, the group I organize, the LA Food Bloggers, and my tips for snagging crossaint-donuts in my hood. You can see where I took ’em and read all about it on their blog!

Thanks Octoplace for choosing me as your featured foodie! I can’t wait for the new Octoplace app to launch!

photos by Puno

Hinoki & the Bird

There are restaurants that you love, and then there are those that you want to tell all your friends about over and over again.  Hinoki & the Bird is one of those restaurants you want to keep talking about over and over again.  The ambiance, the decor, the drinks, the food, and even the bathrooms! I couldn’t stop raving about the decor in the bathrooms when I sat down to my table.  As soon as you walk in the scent of Japanese cedar lightly perfumes the air.  Their large, open patio makes this place a perfect setting for warm summer nights and enjoying dinner and drinks al fresco.

I organized a LA Food Bloggers dinner here with a few bloggers from Octoplace.com, In My Red Kitchen, and Volted Magazine.  The restaurant was kind enough to plan a prix-fixe meal for us.  At the end of the meal the restaurant manager asked which was our favorite plate, and I was literally speechless.  The creamy pumpkin toast, the insanely crispy fried chicken, and the California kale salad done 3 ways were all sticking out in my mind.  I couldn’t pick just one! It would be unfair to all the other star dishes.

pumpkin toast with miso jam and goat cheese {$11}
salt and pepper calamari with ajwain-tomato jam {$13}
crispy marinated chicken with aioli {$14} | Griffith Park swizzle with bourbon, mint, lime, bitters, and absinthe {$14}
California kale crispy and raw salad with curried almonds and pecorino cheese {$12}
This salad was so memorable that I still think of it to this day.  Kale done 3 ways, fried, raw, and braised made a delicious, complex salad with different textures that never got boring.  Ellen, from In My Red Kitchen actually recreated this salad after our dinner.  I’ve been thinking of recreating it also but would rather pile it with baked kale chips instead of fried.
grilled drunken duck breast with persimmons {$24}

I paired the drunken duck with a side of the roasted yam with mild chilies, peppers and crème fraiche {$9}.  The duck was tender and perfectly rendered of the fatty skin.  My husband had the Scottish salmon {$24} which I couldn’t get a great picture of but was one of the best cooked salmons we both have ever had (I finished his plate off).  He paired it with the grilled organic rice lightly glazed with a bit of soy {$5}.

We all finished the meal with homemade mochi ice cream.  Not even close to the ones you get in your freezer aisle!  It was obvious the mochi was freshly made. The different flavors of the ice cream and spices were so intense and all went well together. Miso mochi with butterscotch and togarashi was for the salty/sweet dessert lovers. The chocolate mochi with curry and caramel was more middle of the road, not too sweet but decadently chocolatey.  My fave, the dulce de leche mochi with cajeta and toffee was the sweetest of the three, a perfect way to end a meal {all $4 each}.

If you plan on visiting this restaurant I suggest that you make reservations at least 2 weeks ahead of time.  I plan on visiting again soon to try the lobster roll which recently made the list to the Best Lobster Dishes to Eat Right Now in LA by Eater.

Wanna see what the other bloggers wrote and ate at this meal?
An Inexperienced Chef from Hinoki and the Bird – Octoplace.com
Review: Hinoki & the Bird – In My Red Kitchen

Hinoki & the Bird
10 Century Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90067
Neighborhood: Century City
(310) 552-1200

Glamping

A month ago my friends and I went camping in the beautiful Yosemite National Park.  It was my first official camping trip minus the cabin so I was a bit nervous we would be eating beans out of a can for 3 days.  I designed a weekend menu that had 3 qualifications: easy, fresh, and delicious. Easy and simple enough to execute with minimal tools and appliances, fresh so that we weren’t intaking a crap load of sodium from canned goods and dehydrated goods all weekend, and of course who wouldn’t want to eat something delicious?

Since we are in the midst of summer, it is peak camping season.  I thought I’d share some of my tips on how you too can “glamp” and avoid cupped noodles all weekend (even though I have to admit, I crave a cup of ramen every once in a while).

Tips:
Plan. Before leaving write down the entire weekend’s menu so you can shop for what you will need.  I will share with you my menu and feel free to create the same menu or design your own. Write down what tools you’ll need for each meal prep so you don’t leave anything behind like a wine bottle opener. That would be tragic.  And although it’s heavy, a cast iron pan with a burner was my saving grace.  It’s was perfect for when the grill was completely occupied or cooking things such as eggs.

Prep. The day before leaving pre chop everything that will need chopping – your onions, peppers, etc. and separate them into large gallon Ziploc bags based on dish. Label the bags with the dish and day.  Marinate all your proteins and freeze them in the marinate.  This will eventually thaw and keep cold in the ice box for a few days if needed.  Freeze all your meats (bacon and hot dogs included).  I even froze my pesto sauce and butter!

Strategize. I designed a menu that used tougher vegetables like asparagus, corn and potatoes.  These hold up well without refrigeration. Pack the food so that Day 1 is on the top and Day 3 is in the bottom of the cooler with the bag of ice.  This ensures that Day 3 is always cold.  Pack your veggies and meats in two different coolers.  That way if your marinade happens to spill out, it won’t contaminate your veggies.  I also brought canned food just in case say, a bear got to all our food (which didn’t happen, thank goodness!)

Menu:
Day 1 
Lunch 
I packed bread and sandwich fillings so everyone can make their own sandwiches before we start to set up camp. There’s nothing like hungry campers trying to figure out how to set up a tent or put together the grill.


Dinner 
charcuterie plate (veggies, cured meats and salami, cheeses)

barbequed chicken wings

pesto potatoes
grilled corn
chocolate fondue with bananas, strawberries, marshmallows, and graham crackers
Day 2
Breakfast
bell pepper and onion scramble 
cheesy potatoes
sausage and bacon
jams, nut butter, toast, coffee and tea were available while we were cooking for the hungry early risers
Lunch
Since we were usually hiking or rafting during lunch, I set up a sandwich station after every breakfast so everyone could make their own sandwiches and snacks to pack during excursions. These stations included luncheon meats, sliced bread, sliced cheese, sliced tomatoes, bagged spinach, trail mix, fresh fruit like a banana, oranges, or apples, and chips.
Dinner
marinated flank steak
bacon wrapped sausages with grilled peppers and onions
cherry tomato and mushroom kabobs
skillet cobbler made with canned peaches and Bisquick!

Day 3
Breakfast
leftover hash – we packed some canned corned beef just incase something happened to our food. So the last morning we made a corned beef hash and a leftover hash from all the sausages, steak, grilled peppers and onions, tomatoes and mushrooms we had the previous night.
jams and toast, coffee or tea

Lunch
sandwich and snack station

Dinner
We were celebrating our friend, Monica’s birthday that weekend.  I wanted to make her a cake, but without an oven I didn’t see how it was possible.  So I made a pancake cake!
marinated Korean-style short ribs
grilled corn on the cob seasoned with butter, salt and pepper
seared asparagus
strawberry Bisquick pancake cake

Whether it’s your first camping trip or you are a seasoned camper, I hope these tips inspire you to Glamp it up and say no to Frito chip salads. Remember: easy, fresh, and delicious!

Seattle Photo Diary

I can’t describe what a beautiful city Seattle is.  This was my first time there so I was thinking it would be gloomy and gray.  Was I wrong!  Seattle is so full of vibrant colors from their market to the Chihuly exhibit, to the food.  I couldn’t stop taking in all the beauty and great food (and coffee!) they had to offer.  Not to mention, it was perfectly in the low 80’s when we went.  I think we brought the LA weather with us and I’m sure the Seattleites didn’t mind.

We took a coffee crawl tour when we first arrived that I highly recommend, Seattle by Foot. It is highly customized for you and your group.  Ask for Ed.  He was so knowledgeable and funny.  Tell him that I sent ya ;)! Not to mention, he got us coffee wasted! We were literally Sleepless in Seattle.

We had a lovely dinner at Terra Plata in Capitol Hill.  They source locally so you know that you are getting the freshest food possible.

My absolute favorite place was Pike Place Market, a foodie’s paradise!  There was so much to take in and to literally take in.  We spent the entire second day there.  You really can’t go wrong with which food you decide to try there.  Unlike many tourist attractions where the food and the local vibe falters, here the flowers were the brightest and the biggest I have ever seen, the clam chowder was the best, the produce were the freshest, and the coffee was delicious!

Photos from: Pike Place Market / The Space Needle / Terra Plata restaurant / EMP Museum / Chihuly Garden and Glass Exhibit