Tuesday, December 24, 2013

San Francisco Ferry Building

San Francisco Ferry Building
The San Francisco Ferry Building is one of my favorite places to visit when I am in the Bay Area. It's a good place for lunch, a quick snack, and just a stroll. The building was transformed into a retail space filled with bakeries, seafood stalls, plant shops, and food vendors. It's similar to Pike Place Market in Seattle and Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia. In short, if you love food, this is a must visit in San Francisco!

If you really want to experience the space in all of it's glory, I recommend visiting during the farmer's market hours. The farmer's market happens three days a week. The smaller markets are on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 AM - 2 PM. The Saturday farmer's market is the largest of the three days. The space occupies the front of the Ferry Building as well as the backside. There are lots of tables to enjoy your purchased food and coffee all while overlooking the San Francisco Bay Bridge. You can even watch the ships and sailboats pass by. The Saturday farmer's market happens much earlier in the day from 8 AM - 2 PM. Get there early to avoid long lines. You can park along the Embarcadeo or in one of the nearby lots. You can also take BART or the streetcar to Embarcadero.
Streetcar to Embarcadeo
Once you are at the Ferry Building, enjoy! Remember to sample all the fresh fruits and veggies. Don't double dip. Use a fresh toothpick each time.
Community Supported Agriculture!
Eat up!
Kale Chips
Falafel and Dips (tahini, hummus, baba ganoush, etc.)
The best pie ever from Frog Hollow Farm
Shishito Peppers
Squash Blossom Recipe
Hybrid Fruit
Rainbow Chard
Lobster Mushrooms
The best brittle ever from G. L. Alfieri
San Francisco Ferry Building
One Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA 94111

Monday, December 23, 2013

California 2013


We ate burritos, experienced the fog, walked along the Redwoods, and spent time with the newest member of the family Baby Ella.

Photography Credits: Roxwriting and Desmond Chow

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Whole Foods Cooking Class- Small Budget, Big Flavor

Whole Foods hosts a variety of cooking classes at The Bowery Culinary Center in the Lower East Side. The Bowery Culinary Center is located inside Whole Foods on the second floor behind all the beauty products. It is a private room complete with a kitchen and television screens to broadcast the cooking demonstrations.

Most of the cooking classes offered are for a fee. Once a month, they offer a free cooking course entitled Small Budget, Big Flavor. There are only 20 slots available for the course. Everyone can bring a guest. I felt like I won the lottery by getting a spot in this class, especially in New York City.

Small Budget, Big Flavor focuses on what is on sale during the week of the class. It encourages people to shop at Whole Foods and use Whole Foods products to create a tasty meal while keeping to a budget.

This particular cooking class was not hands on experience. It was more seminar like. Seating was bar style in the front. If you didn't get a seat in the front, there were individual tables set up classroom style. They have tv screens with cameras positioned so you can watch them cook. This is actually a better view since it is difficult to see what food is in the bowls, etc.
Whole Foods Cooking Instructors
Cooking Demo
We learned how to make spicy sweet potatoes, bread dressing, and Salmon Wellington. They jazzed up the meal with hot sauce, a wine sauce with butter and shallots, and chai tea with almond milk. It all turned out very good and tasty. Best of all, easy enough to make at home.
Thanksgiving Sides
I left inspired to cook and was very impressed. Over Thanksgiving, my sister and I made the Salmon Wellington. It was a success and simple enough.

Salmon Wellington Recipe

Ingredients:

2 salmon fillets
defrosted frozen puff pastry
1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach, squeezed dry
thyme
pepper
salt
1 shallot
1/4th lb. mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter

Directions:

In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter, add the mushrooms, shallot diced finely, pinch of salt, pinch of pepper, and a sprig of thyme. Cook until mushrooms are tender. Add in the spinach and heat over the flame until the liquid of the ingredients have cooked off.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On a floured surface, roll out the puff pastry into two rectangles (7 x 8 inches). Place the salmon fillet in the middle of the pastry, top with mushroom and spinach mixture, then fold the pasty around the salmon completely covering the it like a package and press to seal. Place on the baking sheet and chill in the fridge for about 15 minutes.
Top the salmon with spinach and mushrooms like so.
Fold the puff pastry over like you are wrapping a present.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush the top of the puff pastry with an egg wash. Bake for about 25 minutes until golden brown. Enjoy!   
Baked to golden brown perfection.
Salmon Wellington with Red Wine Sauce

Whole Foods Bowery Culinary Center
95 East Houston Street
New York, NY 10002

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Paris and Amsterdam- A European Vacation


Springtime in Paris and Amsterdam. What better season than Spring to enjoy the weather and see the tulips in the Netherlands. We ate macarons, rode bikes, walked along the Seine, and visited a windmill. 

Photography Credits: Roxwriting and Desmond Chow

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Dining In The Dark- Camaje New York

Dark Dining Blindfolded
I have seen dining in the dark many times on television and in the movies. I was finally able to experience it in New York thanks to Google. What an experience it was!

Camaje, a French bistro in the West Village, takes their Dark Dining very seriously. Till this day I have no idea what the restaurant looks like. At Dark Dining, we were lead into the restaurant, seated, walked to the bathroom, and walked out all blindfolded.

Dark Dining at Camaje was a multi-course meal with wine and entertainment.

This is what we ate and drank.

Crunch Course One:
- Toasted Stirato (Italian baguette) with Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Garlic
This opening course was meant to experience the scale of the room. Everyone took a bite of the baguette and we listened to the crunches echo.

One Fallen Bread

 Course Two:
- Chilled Avocado & Cucumber Soup with Herbs
- Creyssels 2010 Picpoul de Pinet, Languedoc, France
The soup was delicious, cool, and refreshing. 

To Sip or Spoon?
Course Three:
- Arctic Char with Garlic Scape-Arugula Pesto over a Raw Salad of Rainbow Swiss Chard, Tuscan Kale, Napa Cabbage and Toasted Pine Nuts
- William Cole 2009 Chardonnay, Casablanca Valley, Chile
While the fish was tasty, it was already cold from sitting out for awhile. Some thought it was salmon.

Arctic Char
Course Four:
- Spice-Rubbed (Cumin, Coriander, Cinnamon & Smoked Paprika) Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Israeli Cous Cous & Lentil Salad
- Les Violettes 2011 Côtes-du-Rhône, Rhône, France
The pork tenderloin was also cold, as well as dry. I didn't finish the dish since I didn't care for it much. A lot of people thought it was beef.

Cold Pork Tenderloin
Course Five:
- Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp (oats, spices, dark brown sugar, toasted coconut) with Our Homemade Mint Ice Cream
- Casa de Sta. Eufemia Tawny Porto
Dessert was quite yummy and I am glad the meal ended on a high note. I just wish there was more of it. The serving portions at Camaje are very small. It was enough to taste what you were eating but not enough to get full from or really appreciate when it was good. Many thought the rhubarb crisp was apple and the ice cream flavor was unidentifiable since it was very faint. Nonetheless, the texture and flavors of the dish paired well.

Mint Ice Cream and Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
Throughout the meal, we had a singer and a masseuse. We were asked to sing with the singer quite a few times and the massager went around touching everyone.

Singing Opera
Sense of Touch
The food was meant to heighten your senses. Since we did not have sight, we relied more on our sense of taste, touch, and hearing to experience the meal. It was difficult and uneasy as it just sounded like chaos around the room. Within 15 minutes of the meal, I had already spilled a glass of wine on my date. Apparently, I was waving my arms in the air to high. Camaje graciously excused my faux pas by cleaning up the mess immediately and explaining that it happens all the time. I would not recommend dining in the dark for first dates.

Be Careful With Your Wine
Dark Dining Photography
Dark Dining happens twice a month. Check the website for event dates. Reservations suggested. Meals are $120/pp and cocktail parties are $75/pp. Taking pictures and video is allowed, however they will be blindly taken and the results can be a hit or miss.

Camaje
85 MacDougal Street
New York, NY 10012


Friday, November 8, 2013

NYC Food- Cheap and Tasty

I'm always on the lookout for reasonably priced and delicious food in New York City. If you don't go to the right places, you could end up broke or even worse, with a tummy ache! A group of my friends at Zicklin School of Business at Baruch started this website Cheap and Tasty NYC as a class project. Check it out for some great places to eat in Manhattan and the outer boroughs.

http://cheapandtastynyc.com/

Cheap and Tasty NYC

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Day Trip to The Hague- The Netherlands


This way to Binnenhof!
The Hague (Den Haag) is an easy day trip from Amsterdam if you are looking to get out of the "city" and see another side of The Netherlands. The Hague is centered more around the government. It's where the royal family lives and where international embassies are located. The Hague is clean, the roads are wide, and life seems calmer and at a slower pace. New buildings are mixed with old. It's not uncommon to see Medieval architecture.

There are parks, museums, and attractions to see in The Hague. Spend as little as three hours there or make a whole day of it. You won't run out of things to do but you will have to choose wisely.

It takes less than an hour to get to The Hague by train from Amsterdam. The best way to get to Den Haag Centraal is from Schiphol Airport. It costs approximately 16.10 Euro for a roundtrip ticket. Once you get to The Hague you can travel by foot, bicycle, or tram. There is even a welcome committee to put you in the right direction once you exit the train station!

Along the way to the museums and attractions you want to see, you will encounter many of the famous sites in The Hague, shopping, restaurants, parks, and residential areas. Equip yourself with a proper map or GPS. I relied on my travel book map and the drawing did not list the small streets in between the main streets and avenues. I got lost for a good hour and no one was able to help us get where we needed to go. As a last resort, we walked the perimeter and followed the canals. They led us to our final destination Madurodam.

Here are a few things to see, eat, and visit during your day trip to The Hague:

Eat a Supersaucijs for Breakfast
These sausage meat pies have a flaky croissant like crust. They are pretty cheap and sold at the bakker bart. While you're there, buy some eieorkoek flat cakes. They are light and taste like angel food cake.
Supersaucijs at bakker bart
Binnenhof and Ridderzaal (pictured top right)
Binnenhof is a series of buildings and the meeting place of the Netherlands Parliament. The Ridderzaal is the courtyard in the Binnenhof. You can take a stroll and relax in it or take a guided tour of the building and learn the history. Binnenhof and Ridderzaal is also known as the Inner Court and Hall of Knights.

Eat a Haring Sandwich
Between mackreel and haring, one local told me to go for the haring. "It's the best, just the best." He said as a matter of fact. This Netherlands specialty is like a fisherman's sushi. Doesn't get any fresher than this. The haring sandwich is sold at many stands throughout the city and is seasonal. Packed with onions and sometimes pickles, it's simple and delicious. It's also cheap and won't set you back more than some chump change Euros (2.50).
Hollandse Nieuwe Haring stand
Haring
haring sandwich
Hear a Draaiorgel
This street organ is festive and plays music. Listen to the bells ring and songs play.

draaiorgel
Panorama Mesdag
The Mesdag collection is small and the panorama is in one room. Give yourself about two hours for this museum. You can buy a combined ticket for the exhibits. View art pieces depicting life in a fisherman village and experience a 360 degree wraparound painting that feels three dimensional.
Schveningen Village, Hendrik Willem Mesdag
Panorama Mesdag
Madurodam
The Netherlands in miniature state! This theme park captures the essence of The Netherlands and educates about the history of the country through interactive kiosks and small scale historical sites and monuments. Do the speed tour in an hour or spend a few hours at your leisure noticing all the details of the miniatures. There is a very good cafeteria on site and a gift shop that sells all sorts of Miffy memorabilia.
Madurodam
Madurodam
Photography Credits: Desmond Chow, Roxwriting

Bakker Bart
Turfmarkt 220
2511 DH, The Hague

Binnenhof and Ridderzaal
Binnenhof 8A, The Hague

Panorama Mesdag
Zeestraat 65
2518 AA, The Hague

Madurodam
George Maduroplein 1
2584 RZ, The Hague




Thursday, September 12, 2013

Bathroom Humor

Potty time?
At the Queens Museum of Art in Queens you can experience The Panorama built by Robert Moses. You will inevitably need a bathroom break and you will come across this wall which explains women to the left and men to the right. But where do the raccoons go?

The Queens Museum of Art is currently closed while it undergoes renovations. Stay tuned for a new and improved space!

Queens Museum of Art
Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Queens, NY 11368

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Tale of Two Pizzas: Neapolitan and Roman Style

My love for pizza grew exponentially in New York. I knew that when I got to Italy I had to try as much pizza as I could. Pizza was everywhere and was eaten either for a snack by the slice or as a full blown meal. One pie per person!  

Neapolitan Style

Neapolitan style pizza originated in Naples. There is a standard to making these pies. This type of pizza states that the dough is no more than 3 millimeters thick. It is usually rolled by hand and cooked for a minute and a half in a stone oven. The toppings are simple (usually tomatoes and cheese) and the finished product is a personal sized soft pizza with a charred crust. We tried ours with spicy sausage and anchovies and capers.

I tried Neapolitan style pizza at Gustapizza in the Palazzo Pitti neighborhood in Florence. I stumbled upon it after a day at the Boboli Gardens. Trust me when I say real Neapolitan style pizza is far better than the homemade makeshift version using store bought Boboli pizza crust.
A traditional Neapolitan style pizza
"Our duty is to do things like our forefathers once did..."
The funny Gustapizza guys and their love for NY!
The oven
Calabrese: tomato, spicy salami, basil, mozzarella
Roman Style

Roman style pizza sold in Rome is done two ways. The first, made for sit down pizzerias, is the more common type of pizza Americans may be used to. It is round with a thin crust. It is usually shared as it is bigger than a personal sized Neapolitan style pizza. Da Buffeto in Rome is a popular pizzeria. Get there early around six to avoid waiting in the very long line. The bresaola and arugula pizza and pizza with zucchini and squash blossoms is highly recommended.
Da Buffeto
The Line
Zucchini and Squash Blossoms
Bresaola and Arugula
The second way Roman style pizza is done is it is sold by the slice. The slice is weighed and that determines the price. It is then wrapped in paper and the happy recipient can take it to go and eat it in hand. My favorite pizza slice to go was a potato, rosemary, and olive oil variation. No cheese or tomato sauce!
Potato, rosemary, olive oil pizza
Mangia! Mangia!

Gustopizza
Viamaggio 46R
50125 Florence, Italy

Da Buffeto
Via del Governo Vecchio 114
00186 Rome, Italy