Tuesday, July 31, 2012

For the Hedwig fans

Such a beautiful city...

Every time I mention to someone that I went to school in San Francisco or that I'm heading back, chances are, the first phrase I hear is, "Oh, it's such a beautiful city."

Oddly, I never really understood what it was about San Francisco that most tourists find so beautiful. Was it the Golden Gate Bridge? The Painted Ladies? Lombard Street? The cable cars? To me, San Francisco always reminded me of a distinctive smell in the air (yes, even with the homeless making camp by the BART stations) and the feeling of "hiking" up the countless "hills" in the warm sunshine with the chilly summer air against my skin. I never understand what they meant by beautiful, but a few Fridays ago, when we made a quick, unplanned stop at Crissy Field before heading to Fort Mason for the OffTheGrid food trucks, I realized what everyone was talking about.

The city is beautiful. And it's not just about the bridge, or the sunset, or the weather, or the people. It was the city. Everything about it -- the good, the bad, the ugly, the unexpected. Simply being here has made me less grumpy, want to eat healthier and treat myself and everyone around me better. For now, I'm just glad I'm here and need to keep reminding myself of what's really important to me. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Tried & Tested: Sam's Chowder House, Half Moon Bay

Just say lobster and I'm there! I've always wanted to try lobster rolls and always had it on my must-eat list for any trips to New England or Maine, but the Bay Area never ceases to surprise. Who knew that within a 30 minutes drive away, Sam's Chowder House was waiting for us with warm, buttered lobster rolls? For this lobster roll, we have Kerry and Toni to thank!

There was a 45-minute wait when we arrived but we found a spot on the patio around a fire pit with deck chairs and tables, and found out that we could just order a the bar ourselves instead of having a server wait on us. So goodbye 45-minute wait, hello seafood goodness in my tummy!

The roll had a toasted edge and was warm, soft and buttered -- perfect to hold chunks of lobster goodness. There was so much lobster we had to eat over the plate to make sure we didn't drop any lobster pieces! Just lobster and some finely chopped celery, no mayo or onion to mask the lobster. Thumbs up for sure! The coleslaw served on the side was also delicious! We also had clam chowder which was really good and had lots of clams. We also ordered mussels instead of oysters (coz oysters were $3 a piece) to share but they were too tiny -- would skip the mussels the next time round.
You know it's good when the lady who took over our table said she's from New England and she thinks Sam's lobster rolls are the best!

Another tip from Kerry & Toni: Gorilla Barbeque is just down the road from Sam's and it was featured on Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Drives.

Sam's Chowder House
4210 North Cabrillo Highway, Half Moon Bay

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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Tried & Tested: Smitten Ice-Cream at Proxy, Hayes Valley

Another lovely Sunday find! Zhuang needed a new bag so we were in Hayes Valley and we were checking out Ritual Coffee at Proxy, only to realize the Smitten was located right behind Ritual! I couldn't resist! Their best-selling flavor is Farmer's Market Mint with TCHO Chocolate Chips and after you've had your first mouthful, you'll know why! It's soooo good. It's like eating creamy mint leaves with dark chocolate chips or slurping a really fresh mint milkshake.

The best part is, they make your ice-cream only when you order it! No tubs to scoop from at Smitten! Check out the video below on how they make the ice-cream right in front of you. Soooo good.
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Smitten sources most of their ingredients locally and beside their classic Vanilla and Dark Chocolate, they have a seasonal menu based on what's fresh, yay! So right now they're serving:
  • Farmer's Market Mint with TCHO Chocolate Chip
  • Peach Ginger with Blossom Bluff Peaches
I can't wait to come back to try their Strawberry with White Balsamic! Just talking about it makes me want more... Next up: Humphry Slocombe!

Check out Smitten's Facebook page for flavors: https://www.facebook.com/SmittenIceCream

Smitten Ice Cream
Proxy at Hayes, Octavia Street (between Linden and Fell)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

EPIC: In 10 days, The Dark Knight Rises

10 more days to The Dark Knight Rises! Technically, it's 9 more days since it opens July 20 but the earliest IMAX tickets we could get was for Saturday, so 10 days it is!

The new trailer above "Journey" is a nice recap of the first two movies of the trilogy and then brings us in on all the action waiting for us in The Dark Knight Rises. Love that Joseph Gordon-Levitt has lots of air time in the new trailer. JGL plays young cop John Blake, who apparently is supposed to represent the younger, more optimistic versions of Bruce Wayne and Jim Gordon. Maybe it's just me, but JGL gives me the sense that he could pass for a much younger version of Gary Oldman, in an odd, odd way... even though he looks nothing like a young Oldman. Heh.

The best part about being back in San Francisco is getting to watch the movie in real IMAX! 70mm! Wooooot. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, check out the /Film article for the difference between a Real 70mm IMAX or lieMAX (Digital IMAX), as well as a list of which screens are which, both in the U.S. and internationally.

We saw The Dark Knight in Sydney's LG IMAX, which was the world's biggest IMAX screen at 96.5ft high x 117.2ft wide and it was breahtaking. Left the building in complete awe, even though it was only about 30 minutes of film that were shot in IMAX. The challenge with having experienced the world's largest IMAX screen is that everything else after that, feels and looks really small. We're catching The Dark Knight Rises at AMC Loewes Metreon and their IMAX screen is apparently 80ft high x 100ft wide which sounds pretty darn big to me, so let's see how it goes next Saturday. Then again, it's Christopher Nolan, so I'm sure it'll be good regardless! Did I also mention that The Dark Knight Rises has 50 minutes of the film shot in IMAX? Amazeballs.

As if fans weren't excited enough, IMAX released a new poster of Bane and fans attending the first midnight screening will receive the limited edition print. Feels like a creepy, charcoal drawing death-mask like look at Bane -- spot the bat in the poster. Heath Ledger completely transformed into Joker and looks like Tom Hardy's doing the same with Bane (without the hair and with the mask, you can't see any Hardy in there) but Ledger will always have a place in my heart as the insanely manic Joker.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Love! Olive green house with red windows & whale weather wane

Taken at 28th and Sanchez

Days like these..

Blooms agains a clear blue sky a pink Victorian. Breathe.

Cooking in the Noe: Vietnamese inspired noodles with beef, mint & cilantro

Thumbs up for easy Asian cooking! We were out at Lumiere Theater yesterday for "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" and had originally intended to grab a bite at the hole in the wall Vietnamese place next to Lumiere but the food took close to 40 mins so we grabbed it to go. What has that got to do with our dinner tonight? Well, we took home a sad looking box of vermicelli noodles with sadder looking beef pieces.

So for dinner tonight, I decided to reconstruct the noodles and beef to something way yummier: my version of Vietnamese inspired noodles with fresh mint leaves and cilantro! It's so easy! Start with stir-frying minced garlic and the white ends of green onion in oil and sesame oil. Then toss in the mint leaves and cilantro (if you want your noodles to taste more salad-like, hold the cilantro till the end), then the noodles, toss in a sauce mixture of fish sauce, sugar and more sesame oil. I also added fresh cut chili for some spice and cucumber strips for crunch. But the cucumber can also be substituted with lettuce or carrot strips (remember to cook the carrots for longer!). I also cut the beef pieces into strips and then gave everything a toss in the pan, pop into a bowl, garnish with more spring onion and voila: Audrey's Vietnamese inspired noodles with beef, fresh mint and cilantro!

Friday, July 06, 2012

Trailer Talk: Total Recall

They're remaking Total Recall. Sigh. It's not that bad if you think about it, considering that the original Total Recall was made in 1990, that's at least a 22 year gap between the original and the remake; unlike the ridiculous remake of The Amazing Spiderman  with Andrew Garfield. I mean, hello, I'll be the first to say Tobey McGuire made a terrible Peter Parker but it's only been 10 years. For the record: I'm not a Spidey fan, never found anything "amazing" about a guy bitten by a radioactive spider.

I would have been 9 or 10 when the original Total Recall came out and I do recall (had to do it!) really liking it. I wasn't an Arnold fan but loved sci-fi and complicated story lines (I was 9, so give me a break) and I think it was quite different from the movies that were out at that tiime.

Colin Farrell replaces Arnold in the remake and when I saw the first trailer, the only reason why I would watch the remake is because John Cho's in it. Love John Cho, totes adorbs in his own squishy eyes kinda way. The second trailer (above) which came out a week back revealed more big names but the problem is, everytime a movie tries to pack in as many big name celebrities as possible, it's usually a sign that it'll be crappy and they're relying on the celeb's star power to put asses into cinema seats. There's a strong male cast sans Farrell -- Bryan Cranston, BIll Nighy (who was wonderful in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) but I can't say the same for the female cast. Who in the world thinks that Kate Beckinsale would make a good action hero? Len Wiseman, that's who. Beckinsale is also conveniently married to Wiseman, who's the director responsible for the Underworld series. Surprise! And Jessica Biel? Come on!

Ethan Hawke is also listed in the cast list on IMDB, but strangely, without a character name attached. Watch at your own risk of blahdom, opens Aug 3.

Posted via email from I am Audrey.

Kitchen Adventures: Spicy roast chicken with corn on the cob and sweet potato pie

Love it when the heat from the oven warms the entire house -- keeps our tummies and toes cosy all at the same time, what more could you ask for!
On the dinner table tonight:
The spicy chicken legs turned out awesome! I had to tweak the recipe from The Pioneer Woman because well, she was making 24 chicken legs -- me, just 2! I gave the chicken legs a good rub of coarse ground black pepper, Himalayan pink salt (because that's what I had) and cayenne pepper a few hours before dinner and then popped it in the fridge. When it came to cooking, instead of hot salt, I melted the butter and lemon juice with minced garlic, cayenne pepper and some Himalyan pink salt. The cayenne was way hotter than I thought it would be, so the chicken definitely had zing! I also had to cook the chicken for close to 45 minutes instead of 30 minutes, but the skin came out golden brown and the chicken was uber moist! Zhuang loved it so much, he cleaned it to the bone. And what's better than asking for seconds? "We should make an entire roast chicken next time." Yay!

For the corn, I was debating whether I should roast or boil the corn and since I already had the oven running, I went with roasting. Which, if you ask me, is a fancy way of saying "throw the corn with the entire husk in the oven" and tadaa, add butter and salt to serve. Rustic.

To finish off -- since I already had the oven all warmed up -- sweet potato pie. We fell in love with this pie when we were skiing in Tahoe and never looked back. It's so easy. Sweet potato, cinnamon, nutmeg, eggs, butter and pre-made graham cracker pie crust. I wanted to add fresh ginger but couldn't find a grater. Some recipes get you to add yogurt or evaporated milk, but I didn't with this one. Maybe next time and maybe I'll even try making the pie crust from scratch! Note to self: Need to half this AllRecipes.com sweet potato recipe because there was too much filling for one 9-inch pie crust. The pie turned out okay, not as pretty as I wanted it to be and there was way too much filling and not enough spices. On the bright side, it tastes much better than it looks.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Headless chickens & fire twirlers: Happy 4th of July!

Ahh 'twas was a mellow 4th of July, with beer can chicken and roast beef courtesy of Kerry's kitchen and value pack fireworks in Pacifica.

And no San Francisco night is complete without some randomness: As we were lighting our fireworks, there was a fire twirler performing at the end of the street! A residential street mind you! The photo's awful -- Apple, please do something about the iPhone camera for night shots -- but if you look hard enough, you can always make out the silhouette of the fire twirler and the two balls of fire.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Soup for the soul: Zuppa Toscana

One of our early favorites was a soup from Olive Garden, which was also the first time we discovered kale!

So we decided to recreate it in our home kitchen -- easy peasy recipe and perfect to warm up for a cold night. It's been 52F out yesterday night and tonight, that's San Francisco summer for you.
Chorizo, russet potatoes, white onions, kale, chicken broth and heavy cream. Top off with a few shaves of Parmigiano Reggiano -- and sip up!

Monday, July 02, 2012

In the neighborhood: St Paul's Catholic Church

A snap on my walk home: St Paul's Catholic Church in Noe Valley, where Sister Act was filmed.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Hello old friend. It's been five years too long.

Taken at Peet's Coffee & Tea