Sunday, December 12, 2010

Station Tavern: Bear's Day Out

We don't often take Bear out with us, but when we do, it's nice to have dog-friendly options. Station Tavern in the South Park area of San Diego is an excellent place to dine with dogs, with most of the restaurant outdoors in an expansive patio.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Iron Foodie 2010 Voting Begins!

The polls for Iron Foodie 2010 have opened! My fellow challengers have put together a fabulous collection of entries, so check them out. Please be sure to vote and, of course, I'd love it if you voted for my "Blasphemous" Guanciale Fennel Fried Rice!

Vote here and voting ends at midnight PST on Wednesday, December 15.

Best of luck to the challengers and many thanks to the voters!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Iron Foodie 2010: "Blasphemous" Guanciale Fennel Fried Rice

Voting begins 6am PST on Dec. 7 and ends midnight PST Dec. 15. Vote here! Best of luck to everyone!

When I received the box of mystery ingredients from Marx Foods, I was at a loss on how I'd like to use them. Yet, the answer came in a moment of inspiration, a place where my past and my present intersected.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Elizabethan Desserts: A Revisit... Finally.

D. and I are trying harder to get our Christmas shopping act together. We've done the last-minute bit a few times and we never really had a problem, but we just don't want to deal with the stress of scurrying from one crowded mall to another trying to make sure we have our bases covered. This year, we started with a run to the outlet mall in Carlsbad. Of course, that includes a stop at Elizabethan Desserts in Encinitas.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Jimmy's Famous American Tavern

The menu looked delightful and I couldn't turn down the opportunity to try Jimmy's Famous American Tavern, which had been on my radar, but I'm rarely in the neighborhood. Billed as a gastropub specializing in classic American dishes, it's located in the Point Loma area, not far from the airport. They have a gorgeous patio that overlooks the harbor, making it a nice destination for brunches and lunches. For dinner, enjoy the patio's fire pit, which makes the area nice and cozy.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pecan-Crusted Catfish with Persimmon Rice Pilaf

D. and I decided to explore the new Costco Business Center that opened in the Kearny Mesa area of San Diego. With an emphasis on food service, it's a playground of wholesale-priced cookware and food. I found a big tub of American-farmed catfish fillets at $2.18/lb, so that was our protein for the week.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Lime Olive Oil and Sherry Pound Cake Bundt

It's National Bundt Day! And it's the end of Mary's I Like Big Bundts, a 30-day run of daily bundt-baking that ends on National Bundt Day. Check out her amazing blog and all of those awesome bundts! She also posted a bundt baked in a Heritage bundt pan, which I saw, squealed like a little kid, and ran out to buy it. Never mind that I don't usually bake bundt cakes... it's a pretty cake pan, dammit!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Persimmon Bread: James Beard, David Lebovitz, and Me

Wow, talk about "which of these is not like the others".

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Iron Foodie 2010: Why I'm here

Iron Foodie 2010 | Here's Why that will be me: -- Fine Bulk Foods The Foodie BlogRoll

The Foodie BlogRoll has partnered with Marx Foods to present Iron Foodie 2010. I've been dying to try more recipe development and, with one recipe, this challenge is very friendly to my hectic and crazy schedule.

Friday, October 29, 2010

French Fridays With Dorie: Marie-Hélène's Apple Cake

Ok, it's still Friday in California with less than 30 minutes to go. Fashionably late... or not.

Had to miss out on last Friday's hachis parmentier, because I was here:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Seattle and Vancouver: Five Perfect Noodles...

...and a partridge in a pear treeeeee.

Ok, I know that's not how the song goes, but I did have five ah-may-zing noodle dishes during my trip to Seattle/Vancouver/Whistler. That trip seems like a lifetime ago. A lot has happened since and I've spent much of that time recapping my life in 250-word, 1900-character, or 25-line chunks.

Med school secondary apps. Yikes.

When I'm writing, yet again, about what a great doctor I hope to become, I'll start daydreaming and look back at the glorious food I ate on that trip. Five perfect noodle dishes. Let's recap, shall we?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Saturday in San Diego

We were watching an episode of How It's Made and the topic was hot dogs. Despite being slightly grossed out by how they were made, we knew what we were having for lunch. However, D. suggested that we head in a much higher-quality direction and pick up handmade bratwursts from Sausage King in the Mission Hills area.

Friday, October 15, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup

Back in the day, I was a member of Tuesdays with Dorie. I loved the group, but my waistline and my schedule couldn't keep up with the weekly posting commitment. Even posting every other week was too much. It was through TwD that I "met" (that is, I became acquainted with their blogs) lots of fabulous bloggers like Rebecca. Leaving the group was tough, but I was thrilled to hear that Dorie was releasing a new cookbook and that there would be another cook-through group, French Fridays with Dorie. This time, we can cook along when we can, meaning my schedule and my waistline approve.

But wait, you say, if this new group is called French Fridays with Dorie, why are you making Vietnamese noodle soup?

Because the French colonized Vietnam for many years and one of the results is an exchange of influence in cuisine.

Dorie explains that she created a mix of phở gà and la sa gà. At first glance, the recipe looked a lot like a phở gà recipe with one extra: coconut milk. Truth be told, that didn't particularly appeal to me, so I decided to go all the way towards la sa gà, which is Vietnam's version of curry laksa and I love curry laksa. Most of the recipes have a bonne idée (good idea) sidebar with Dorie's suggestions for tweaks. Her suggestion for this recipe was to toast curry powder in hot oil before starting the soup and adding minced lemongrass.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Caramelized Minced Beef/Chicken

What does one do with half a pound of ground beef, half a pound of ground chicken, a lot of extra herbs from an upcoming French Fridays with Dorie, and a stack of cookbooks from the library?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Restaurant Week: Amaya at the Grand Del Mar

UPDATE: San Diego Restaurant Week is extended for another week! Check here for participating restaurants, including Amaya.

San Diego Restaurant Week's going on from September 19-24, with participating restaurants throughout the county. Check out their website for locations and menus.

It was one of those meals where I wanted to curl in the fetal position and have happy dreams about the food, but unfortunately, I was in public.

I received an email about a San Diego Restaurant Week preview meal and it presented several options. Only one jumped out, as I've always wanted to visit the lovely Grand Del Mar resort, but it's a little out of the way for me. Jenna and Stacie from McFarlane Promotions set up a reservation at the Grand Del Mar's Amaya Restaurant, described on their website as their casual dining option. I wouldn't call it casual, because it's not a place I'd wear jeans to, but it's luxurious without being stuffy. The dining room is gorgeous and warm, with an ambiance suited to many occasions. D. and I were on a date, but nearby was a group of girlfriends out for a birthday or girls' night, and we saw a family finishing up their meal.

I wasn't sure what to expect at this dinner, but I know I wasn't expecting a meal that knocked our socks off and had us planning a return visit. Chef Camron Woods talked with us about the Restaurant Week menu and how its popularity led to Amaya's chef's tasting menu. For $40 ($65 with wine pairings), it's a three-course menu with two choices for each course. For our dinner, our appetizers would be part of Restaurant Week's menu, but we'd choose our entrees from the regular dinner menu. I'm just a schmuck who compulsively writes about her meals, so a visit from the chef was pretty awesome.

Amaya's Restaurant Week menu. Subject to change, of course.

Choice of First/Appetizers Course

Golden Tomato Gazpacho
Avocado Parfait

Terrine of Smoked Duck and Foie Gras
Aged Balsamic, Strawberries

Grilled Breast of Boneless Quail
Cheddar Grits, Tomato Marmalade

Choice of Second/Main Course

Seared Loch Duart Salmon
Sweet Corn and Smoked Onion Risotto, Basil Coulis

Slow-Cooked Beef Short Rib
Tagliatelle Pasta, Pancetta, Roasted Baby Root Vegetables

Grilled Colorado Lamb Loin
Truffle Pierogi, Grilled Chard, Zinfandel Jus

Choice of Third/Dessert Course

Spiced Sugar and Lemon-Filled Bombolonis
Raspberry-Buttermilk Ice Cream

Caramel Praline Crunch Bar
Bittersweet Chocolate Sorbet

Pavlova with Fresh Berries
Lemon-Poppy Seed Sherbet, Minted Vanilla Syrup

We started off with the golden tomato gazpacho.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Too cute.

No, we don't spoil him at all.

From Crate and Barrel's new pet accessory line.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

On Roasting Chicken...

Of all the cooking techniques that I've learned, I think one of the most important is roasting a whole chicken. It's really easy, really tasty, and one chicken can lead to multiple meals. Sure, a lot of grocery stores offer rotisserie chickens and they're great, but roasting my own means the chicken's never met a heat lamp or tray.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Seattle: Trabant Coffee

Life has been insane. I'm doing everything I can to stay organized and complete as much as possible, but it's one of those times when I'm constantly working and nothing seems to get done. I submitted my primary application a bit later than I wanted to and currently trying to turn in my secondaries as soon as I can. My health has had some issues lately and part of it is an inability to completely de-stress.

Seattle So Far...

Not a lot to say, but a ton of pictures from Seattle. It's a bit of a working vacation. D. has a conference and I'm working on secondary applications. Our friend APH has been very kind to take us around town when it's a hojillion degrees outside.

From the ferry to Bainbridge Island:

Friday, August 13, 2010

More blueberries

The last of the blueberries went to a blueberry buttermilk tart.

Had leftover filling due to my tart pan being a different size than the recipe calls for. I didn't want to waste it, so it went into two little dishes and became blueberry buttermilk puddings.

It's going to a friend's dinner party tonight, so I'll report more soon.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Blueberry Crumb Cake

I love crumb toppings. There's just something about sugar, flour, and butter baked together until it's crunchy. I'm especially fond of coffee cake, with the dense moist cake and dry crumbly topping. With my massive box of blueberries waiting in the fridge, Ina's blueberry crumb cake was definitely a recipe to try.

What does one do with 2 3/4 pounds of blueberries?

There are many options, but there's at least two courtesy of Ina Garten.

Blueberry buttermilk muffins with streusel (from Back to Basics)

Blueberry sour cream crumb cake (from episode "Weekend Lunch" and Barefoot Contessa at Home)

More to come soon.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Lots to celebrate here at AoaAF.

One year ago, I married my best friend and the best teammate one could ask for. He's still putting up with me, so something's going right.

Three years ago, I decided that I should write about what I eat. I'm floored that there are people out there who read the swill I post and for that, I thank you all.

One year ago, Bear passed his Canine Good Citizen test, proving that old dogs can learn new tricks and that a little faith can bring one back from the brink.

One year ago, I had no idea I'd dig up the cajones (finally!) to take the MCAT and (finally!) apply to medical school.

One year ago, I was on my way to the most beautiful place on Earth.

A lot happens in a year and it's been one hell of a ride.

Our celebratory dinner was steak frites with maître d'hôtel butter from the Bouchon cookbook. Fries from a newly acquired trick. Corn from the Hillcrest farmers' market.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

AleSmith Lunch at Farmhouse Cafe

Ah, beer. I like beer.

I also like beer/food pairings, which is much newer concept than wine/food pairings. Can't say I know a ton about pairings except that I am not a big fan of believing in hard and fast rules when it comes to pairings. Above all, it should taste good. Sometimes, being too technical about it takes the fun out of it. C'mon, how bad is great beer + great food?

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Croque Monsieur

I'm a big fan of Ina Garten's. When I started cooking, she was one of my favorite TV chefs to watch. As I became proficient, I began to understand the difference between good recipes and bad recipes. Hers were usually good and the show's episodes always had little tidbits about basic techniques. Fast forward nearly a decade later (eek!) and I'm still using her recipes.

It was the World Cup final and I wanted to make a simple and delicious lunch for the game. Along came Ina with her croque monsieurs and I almost had all of the ingredients on hand. So, with that, we settled in to watch whether Paul the Octopus was correct about the outcome.

Ham and cheese sandwich, drenched in bechamel and more cheese, and baked until bubbly and golden brown. Fresh sliced honey ham, Gruyère and sharp white cheddar, Dijon mustard, and a little fig jam are the key players. Bread is Honey White from Charlie's Best Bread. The fig jam was something I had on hand and I thought it balanced the Dijon mustard nicely.

I knew the sandwiches needed some kind of side and I had the ambitious idea of doing sweet potato fries. Right. Frying during the World Cup final... as if. I went for one of my favorite cheats: the local McDonald's. I love their fries and any time I want fries as a side dish, I run over for a couple of orders. It's really close, so the fries don't become soggy as long as I serve them right away.

This little trick was definitely not my idea and I picked it up from someone who appears on Food Network. Oh, c'mon, do you think I heard it from Ina? I don't think fast food is très elegant enough for her. I picked it up from, of all people, Jeffrey Steingarten of food writing and Iron Chef America-judging fame. He wrote in The Man Who Ate Everything that he needed fries for one of his food projects and stalked the local McDonald's for a fresh batch.

It's the best idea ever. Really, do homemade fries ever come out as good as when they come out of an industrial deep fryer?

Here's the recipe with my little adjustments... I should add that I feel more ham would have made this sandwich much better, so go for two slices per sandwich instead of one.

Croque Monsieur
(adapted from Ina Garten, Barefoot in Paris)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
2 cups grated Gruyère
3 cups grated sharp white cheddar
12 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
Dijon mustard
Fig jam (available in many grocery stores or specialty markets)
8 ounces baked Virginia ham, sliced but not paper thin  

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter–flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened. Off the heat add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup grated Gruyère, and 1/2 cup grated sharp white cheddar and set aside.

To toast the bread, place the slices on 2 baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes. Turn each slice and bake for another 2 minutes, until toasted.

Lightly brush half the toasted breads with mustard, add two slices of ham to each, and sprinkle with the remaining Gruyère (if you run out, grate more or use the cheddar). Spread fig jam on the other piece of toasted bread and place it on top, jam side down. Slather the tops with the cheese sauce, sprinkle with the remaining cheese, and bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bankers Hill Restaurant and Bar

It was one of those post-MCAT meals when I knew I should be working on my application, but was too burned out and worried to focus. As it turns out, the MCAT score was fine. Actually, quite good.

It made me mad.

Y'see, my undergraduate GPA is not my strong suit, so I needed a better-than-good score to offset it. Bah. However, I'm not retaking the test and I submitted the primary application. Woohoo!

One of these days, I'll touch on why I suddenly switched from chemistry to medicine, but let's just say that I've waited a very long time to do this. Maybe it's a gut feeling, old age, whatever... but I had this corny idea that I can't possibly look my hypothetical children in the eyes and tell them to chase their dreams when I didn't do the same.

At some point during the post-MCAT haze, D. and I headed to Bankers Hill Bar and Restaurant for a much-needed night out.

A new restaurant by Carl Schroeder of Del Mar's Market, Bankers Hill is more casual and the menu leans more towards classic and simpler dishes. On a side note, I've grown addicted to these menu-on-the-table shots... sometimes it's just easier than trying to photograph the restaurant's exterior.

Speaking of, the exterior looks great, but the interior rocks. Dark wood chairs and tables, tea towels as napkins, and this spectacular succulent mural above their patio.

Ah, iPhone pictures. I haven't purchased any photography apps yet, so if y'all have any to recommend, let me know. Thanks to the bright natural light pouring into a dark space, the pictures turned out vaguely dark and dramatic. I thought it looked artsy and cool, but then again, it's probably just a poorly lit photo.

Duck confit... one of my favorite foods. Served on a bed of mushrooms and peas and topped with a dollop of mostarda. The mostarda was made of currants, but that's an estimation on the part of my tastebuds. Salty from the duck, sweet from the currants, tangy from the mustard, woodsy from the mushrooms... I licked the plate.

Oh, I wanted to talk about the duck confit so much that I'd forgotten that we had an appetizer. D. had chips and I had beer.

Housemade potato chips with a delicious herbed buttermilk dip. The chips were overseasoned to the point where the potato was obscured, but they were nice and crunchy. Went well with this:

With the mood I was in at the time, I might have pulled out a funnel and a tube to drink it. Yes, it was needed. Propriety be damned.

Dessert was predetermined, as I read on Chowhound that the cherry pie was amazing. Amazing is a mild word for Rachel Going's pie. The iPhone's camera clearly does it no justice. I might be blaspheming when I say that I don't particularly care for pie crusts... it's all about the filling for me. Rachel's crust, with it's rustic flakiness, brought new appreciation into a proper pie crust.

That ice cream? Delicious and served on a little bed of butterscotch with crumble topping. Butterscotch. Forget the beer... reserve funnel and tube for vat of butterscotch.

I had to take another menu shot when the dessert menu came out. Something about them just made me really happy and I think it's because they used a typewriter font, which we used for our wedding invites and other signage.

Well, no matter what happens with med school, at least I know I'm going to eat well in the meantime. Check out other reports on Bankers Hill by Alice, Two Foodies, and Gourmands' Review.

2202 4th Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101

Friday, May 14, 2010

And we're back!

To quote one of my all-time favorite racers on The Amazing Race: "Oh, my gravy."

That's pretty much the MCAT in a nutshell. I was prepared, pumped (if blasting "Eye of the Tiger" doesn't get one going, I don't know what will), and promptly ran into some time-management issues with the first section. Never had time-management issues on any of the practice tests and found myself scrambling to finish that section. Finished in time, but sheesh. I recovered to calmly finish the following sections in a much more timely manner.

Thank you for the well wishes! Everyone's kind words certainly helped with the confidence level that morning.

Now I wait. The score's coming out around the end of May.

The application is out, I'm embarrassed by my GPA, and I'm convinced the admissions committees may just send me a video of themselves laughing really, really hard instead of a rejection letter. It ain't over until the rejection letters sing, so I'm forging ahead with my best foot forward. Until then, let's talk about food, shall we?

My first free weekend after the MCAT, D. and I ran errands and cooked. I haven't cooked or baked at all in the last four months, so it felt good to stretch out the ol' muscles. D.'s been the domestic heavy-lifter... cooking, cleaning, making sure I don't hyperventilate too often. Being the cheeky bastard that I am, I would crave something, find a recipe for it, and sweetly show it to D. He would patiently get the hint and make said recipe.

I've said it before and I'll say it again... he's a keeper, folks.

One of those recipes was for chicken marsala. D. knocked that one out of the park. In fact, we both liked the recipe so much that he decided to make it again.

Woodsy from the mushrooms, sweet from the wine, savory from the chicken... there are so many good things to this sauce. Served with a side of capellini dressed simply with butter and a little sprinkle of green-canned Parmesan. Hey, D. likes the stuff and he's cooking, so I can't object much. The green-canned Parm can be a little horrifying, but with a light sprinkle, it brings a nice saltiness to the pasta and keeps it from being a bland hunk of carbohydrate.

I decided to try one of Gina DePalma's recipes from Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen. Her Zucchini Olive Oil Cake with Lemon Crunch Glaze (page 94) is absolutely worth trying. Zucchini from our Be Wise Ranch CSA box, olive oil from Pasolivo, and Meyer lemons from a coworker.

The olive oil and zucchini give it a fantastic texture and the overall effect is a cake that's outrageously moist and not too sweet. For the cake, I used 3/4 cup of Pasolivo's extra virgin olive oil, plus 1/4 cup of their Meyer lemon oil. The glaze has both confectioners' and granulated sugar, with the latter providing the "crunch". The recipe calls for glazing the cake while it's still warm, so I would glaze, let the glaze run off, then scoop up the glaze and drizzle it back over the cake. I repeated that 5-6 times to form a nice crunchy shell.

Straining Meyer lemon juice for the glaze. Here's proof that some of the most useful kitchen tools need not come from specialty stores... I found this little strainer at Big Lots for a dollar. It's never rusted and has come in handy countless times.

Bear, celebrating my return to the kitchen by laying right in the middle of it the entire time I was prepping the cake.

Definitely check out Dolce Italiano, which has all sorts of interesting recipes. I'm going to be plugging away on medical school applications, but I'll take some time to try more recipes from this book. Meanwhile, here's the Chicken Marsala recipe.

D.'s pasta is pretty straightforward: boil pasta in heavily salted water until al dente, drain, then transfer to a skillet with several tablespoons of butter (about 1 tbsp. per cup of pasta) and toss until pasta is reheated and separated. Transfer to plates and sprinkle with green can Parmesan.

Chicken Marsala
(from Paul Grimes via

1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (14 fl oz)
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
10 oz mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves (2 lb total)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons dry Marsala wine
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 200°F. 

Bring broth to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan over high heat, then boil, uncovered, until reduced to about 3/4 cup, about 20 minutes. 

Cook shallot in 3 tablespoons butter in an 8- to 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until shallot begins to turn golden, about 1 minute. Add mushrooms, 1 teaspoon sage, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated and mushrooms begin to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat. 

Put flour in a wide shallow bowl. Gently pound chicken to 1/4 inch thick between 2 sheets of plastic wrap using the flat side of a meat pounder or a rolling pin. 

Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper, then dredge in flour, 1 piece at a time, shaking off excess. Transfer to sheets of wax paper, arranging chicken in 1 layer. 

Heat 1 tablespoon each of oil and butter in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then sauté half of chicken, turning over once, until golden and just cooked through, about 4 minutes total. Transfer cooked chicken to a large heatproof platter, arranging in 1 layer, then put platter in oven to keep warm. Wipe out skillet with paper towels and cook remaining chicken in same manner, then transfer to oven, arranging in 1 layer. 

Add 1/2 cup wine to skillet and boil over high heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, about 30 seconds. Add reduced broth, cream, and mushrooms, then simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is slightly thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. Add lemon juice and remaining 2 tablespoons wine and 1/2 teaspoon sage. 

Serve chicken with sauce and pasta.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Yup, still here.

Whoa... hi, there.

I'm still here. Still moving along the path of MCAT mastery.

I was chugging along when I was sidelined with two sudden and very painful infections. Burnout was already hitting me hard, so it was time to take a break. Besides, I knew I needed one when I was sitting in the waiting room at Urgent Care and all I could think about was the cell cycle. Or maybe how it might be viral, so I pictured little viruses, like Tholians, attacking my cells. Then, they prescribed an antibiotic that disrupted the bugs' DNA gyrase and all I could picture was unwinding double-stranded DNA.

As insane as all of it sounded, the true crazy came when I was driving home and traveling downhill on the freeway. I literally thought, Oh, I'll just ignore the coefficient of friction between the car's tires and the road and let mg sin Θ take over, and took my foot off the accelerator.

Yikes. The deep end, friends, is a hard place to return from.

I have had the opportunity to take a few study breaks and I'll report on them soon. For now, I leave you with a little bit of comfort food, a hot bowl of rice noodle soup with sauteed ground pork, scallions, and a fried egg. Courtesy of Sunday Bistro, one of my dad's favorite restaurants. Check out Wandering Chopsticks' post on it.

I've been taking a lot of standardized tests in the last few years, trying to figure out the rest of my life. My dad and D. have been the tireless leaders of my cheering squad. I've been really lucky to have a lot of people in my life offer advice, support, and encouragement as I masochistically throw myself into another round of evil standardized testing. Thanks to all of you, because I really couldn't do it otherwise.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wine Vault & Bistro: St. Paddy's Dinner

UPDATE: Wine Vault & Bistro very kindly added two more dates, so I snagged myself a spot at the March 31 dinner. YES!

Ah, yet another meeting of one of my favorite restaurants with one of my favorite boozemakers. Of course, I can't go because I'll be at MCAT class. Yes, woe is me. Wine Vault & Bistro is pairing up with Stone Brewery (signature gargoyle above) for their St. Patrick's Dinner. Apparently, owner Greg Koch has given Wine Vault some awesome limited brews and beermaker Jeremy Moynier is hosting the dinner. March 17, 6:30pm, $39.50/person.

Anyway, if anyone out there goes, please let me live vicariously. Don't forget the pictures. Oh, and 1/2 liter carafes of all of the beers will be available during the dinner for $6. 6 bucks?! Geez, I might have to skip MCAT class for this.

Asparagus Salad | Burrata Cheese | Shaved White Asparagus | Nasturtium | Watermelon Radish | 25-Year-Old Balsamic
Stone "Levitation" Ale (4 oz. pour)

Fish 'n' Chips: Beer Battered Yellowtail | Potato Cake | Porter + Malt Vinegar Aioli | Micro Greens
Stone "09.09.09" Vertical Epic (4 oz. pour)

Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin | Brussel Sprout Hash | Guanciale | Thyme Jus
2007 Stone "Old Guardian" Barley Wine (4 oz. pour)

Lamb Shepherd's Pie
Stone "Arrogant Bastard" Ale (4 oz. pour)

Glazed Corned Beef and Cabbage | Braised Baby Vegetables | Stone Ground Mustard Aioli
Stone "Ruination" IPA

Chocolate Espresso Creme Brulee | White Chocolate + Brown Butter Mousse
2008 Stone "Imperial Russian" Stout

Levitation Ale ROCKS. It's too bad they don't have the oaked Arrogant Bastard, which I tried at a recent tasting and really liked. Just remember that when you're relaxing with that carafe of Levitation, I will be working on my organic chemistry problems. Sigh.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Moo Moment: The Valentine Post

I was receiving PR emails about when I "consider my editorial content for Valentine's Day". I chuckle to myself, since I'm mildly flattered that anyone assumes that I have my shit together enough to actually plan content for anything. Nah, it's not that organized. I go about my life and write about whatever pops up.

D. and I usually don't celebrate Valentine's Day, largely because we don't like the overwhelming commercial aspect of it. We decided to forgo the pressure and expense years ago.

However, this year, we brought it back a little bit. Some of the effort, none of the pressure. Part of it is that it's our 9th Valentine's Day together and we're one month away from our 10 year anniversary. Time for a little mushiness, a little reflection. We've been together for nearly 10 years, married for a little over 6 months, and it's fair to say that we grew up together.

Back in college, D. was frustrated with the high cost of flowers at Valentine's Day. Being practical to the bone, he decided that Costco was the only way to go and rounded up a group of friends to pool their resources for several of the large Costco bunches that they could divvy up and give to their respective dates. A decade later, Costco still rocks when it comes to flowers.

I wanted to take him out for his favorite potstickers and to one of the main stops on our rotation of restaurants: Dumpling Inn. Serving Northern Chinese cuisine that isn't perfect, but very comforting. They make great potstickers with a fabulous crust.

We also really like their spicy eggplant with ground pork. Fantastic wok hei on this dish, making it perfect in taste and texture.

Apologies for the starkness of the photos... the bright white energy-saving bulbs didn't work too well with the iPhone's camera.

D. loves eclairs, so I made a quick run to St. Tropez Bakery in Hillcrest. Picked up some eclairs, meringue cookies, and a napoleon. As Darlene mentions in her latest post, those layers go soggy fast. The pastry cream was tasty and so were the eclairs. The meringues had great texture, but were a little bland.

As I slog through pile after pile of practice problems, D. does things like making sure that I eat, have clean clothes to wear, and do not generally self-destruct. I'm pursuing a very old dream, one that I gave up once upon a time. I just couldn't let the dream go and I'm grateful that D. sees that living with the dissatisfaction of having never tried is worse than the crazy schedule a medical career will likely entail. And with his quiet and unwavering support, I can only take a moment this Valentine's weekend to marvel at how very, very lucky I am.

On that note, hope everyone had a great weekend and a fun V-day if you celebrate it. Lastly, gung hai fat choi and a prosperous year of the Tiger to all!

Dumpling Inn
4619 Convoy Street, Suite F
San Diego, CA 92111

St. Tropez Bakery & Bistro (Hillcrest Location)
3805 5th Avenue
San Diego CA, 92103

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


A lot of the country is buried in snow and we're getting lots (and lots!) of rain here in San Diego. However, we just received one small harbinger of spring.

We're loving our CSA boxes from Be Wise Ranch and this week's box had two clamshells (the plastic tubs) of strawberries. They're tiny and pack an amazing amount of flavor, so it's a shame to do anything but snack on them. No sauces, shakes, or baking... just enjoying a sweet little reminder that strawberry season will be here soon enough.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Paso Wines at Urban Solace: Living Vicariously

This MCAT class is consuming my existence. 2 1/2 hours every night for five nights a week, not to mention the loads of homework (multiple choice homework still takes a long time) and practice tests. I received an email about Urban Solace having a Paso Robles wine pairing dinner, featuring five Paso winemakers. Of course, my favorite Adelaida Cellars is one of the winemakers. Oh, I thought, this would be a nice break from studying.

Except that it's on a Wednesday night and yours truly will be in class.

If they're not already booked up, I highly recommend making a reservation. If there are any aspiring bloggers out there who'd like to write it up, I'd be happy to post it on AoaAF. Anybody? Anybody? Bueller?

Menu from the website:

Passed Hors d' Oeuvres: Paired with House Bubbles!
- Baked Malpeque Oyster, Caramelized Fennel and Artisan Bacon
- Aged Cheddar Gougères

First Station: Paired with 2008 Vina Robles Verdelho, Huerhuero Vineyard, Paso Robles
Jidori Chicken Liver Paté, Grilled Asian Pear, Toasted Brioche, Spiced Honey

Second Station:  Paired with 2008 Still Water Vineyards Estate Viognier, Paso Robles
Braised Niman Ranch Pork Belly, Dried Apricot Chutney, Pomegranate Reduction

Third Station: Paired with 2007 Adelaida Cellars "Version Red", Glenrose Vineyard, Paso Robles (GSM blend)
Duck Three Way: Maple-Bourbon Cured Breast, Smoked Duck Prosciutto wrapped around Duck Confit and Housemade Ricotta

Fourth Station: Paired with 2005 Niner Wine Estates, "Fog Catcher", Bootjack Ranch, Paso Robles (Bordeaux Blend)
Spice Crusted Piedmontese NY Strip Loin, Shaved Caramelized Brussels Sprouts, Bordelaise

Passed Finale:  Paired with 2007 Adelaida Cellars Ice Wine, Muscat / Viognier, Central Coast
Blood Orange Glazed Apple Tartlette

(old photo of the tasting room with their previous logo)

I was at Adelaida this past weekend and their ice wine is currently on the tasting list. It's fabulous... sweet, but not syrupy as many dessert wines can be. The Version Reds are always great blends and I think it's a shame they're not showcasing their fabulous Syrah. It's being served with duck (three ways?!), which only increases my bitterness that I'll be stuck in a classroom at UCSD's med school campus. I know from past experience that Matt Gordon and his staff will serve a meal as good as it looks in writing, so the food will also be fabulous.

(Adelaida's walnut grove)

If anyone is interested in writing it up, leave a comment or email me at moowiesqrd [at] adventuresofanamateurfoodie [dot] com and we'll iron out the details. If leaving a comment, please leave your contact info.