while its been pouring buckets outside, i’ve been inside cooking. (well i’ve been outside too, but that’s another story.) the theme this time was chinese.
shandong stir-fry soup noodles
sizzling singapore chili shrimp
chinatown roast duck
daikon with bean thread noodles
here’s the recipe for the eggplant:
1/3 cup chicken broth
1 T hoisin sauce
2 t soy sauce
2 t lemon juice
1 t plum sauce
4 chinese eggplants (1 lb)
2 t minced garlic
1 t minced ginger
1/2 jalapeno chili, sliced into thin rings
sliced green onions
1. prepare the sauce: stir the chicken broth, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, lemon juice, and plum sauce in a bowl until blended.
2. cut the stems from the eggplants, then cut them lengthwise into quarters, then cut crosswise into 3-inch pieces.
3. pour enough oil into a large saucepan to come to a depth of 2 inches. heat over medium-high heat and deep-fry the eggplant until tender. remove and drain on paper towels.
4. heat a wok over high heat until hot. add 1 tablespoon of oil and the garlic, ginger, and chili and stir-fry until fragrant, about 20 seconds. add the sauce and bring to a simmer.
5. add the eggplant and stir to coat. scoop onto a serving platter and garnish with basil leaves and green onions.
i’m back from yet another quick weekend trip to southern california. like the last, i spent a considerable time stuck in the notorious los angeles traffic. this time around, however, i played tourist. i didn’t take nearly enough photographs; in fact i only snapped a few on saturday afternoon.
on friday i took the scenic route down along highway 101, and although it meant spending a couple extra hours in the car, it was nice to look out of the window and see san luis obsipo and santa barbara as opposed to endless overcrammed herds of cows. by the time i reached the hotel, i had just enough energy to have dinner at california sushi roll in west la. i’d been (and still am) craving authentic japanese food, but i willingly obliged and went with japanese-california fusion instead. i was pleasantly suprised. my house special maki of salmon wrapped around seaweed, rice and fried fish cake was pretty good, and the beef gyoza’s offbeat hint of lemon was a good match.
the next morning i set out for lunch at the infamous roscoe’s house of chicken and waffles. my fried chicken was seasoned well and the syrup-laden waffles were yummy too, but i’m sure my arteries were begging me to stop.
afterwards i set out with a friend to the museum of contemporary art to check out their new exhibit, ecstasy: in and about altered states. to my dismay photography was not allowed, but i was really impressed. in particular i enjoyed olafur eliasson’s, erwin redl’s, and fred tomaselli’s pieces.
i spent the early evening in santa monica along the beach, and continued along to the third street promenade.
that evening i ate at korean char-b-que with a friend. i mistakenly ordered naengmyon. i’d accidentally ordered it a few weeks ago at another korean restaurant and found it to be anathema to my favorite flavors prominent in korean cooking. to my misfortune, the menu we ordered from on friday night didn’t have english translations, only pictures. i ordered what looked good yet recieved something quite different. the slushy ice water, flavorless beef and rubbery noodles and slices of pear made me wish i had ordered something else.
we redeemed ourselves by going to westwood to grab a mango hookah and mint tea at habibi cafe. i was in awe most of the time; almost everyone was iranian. i’d never been around so many iranians in public outside of iran at the same time. i don’t quite know how to say this politely without generalizing, but a lot of iranians i saw were, how should i put this, special. glitzy clothing and makeup, glitzy cell phones, glitzy attitude. everything seemed a bit overdone. i wondered if any of them had ever been to the iranian countryside, to ramsar or tabriz, to isfahan or shiraz. it seemed so far-removed. still, i had a great time people-watching. the music was great, as was the hookah, but the tea was a sorry mug of lipton with a couple of crushed mint leaves thrown in.
sunday was spent having lunch at farmer’s market. we met up with another friend for brazilian at pampas grill churrascaria. little did i know how delicious brazilian food is. the hearts of palm and cucumber salad, fried bananas, okra stew, and grilled garlic steak were all mouthwateringly perfect.
after a quick stop for shakes (i had banana flavor), it was time to say goodbye to los angeles and its sunny weather. tony toni tone was right; it never rains in southern california.
i miss hawaii. the trip was so short but ever since i got back everything reminds me of it. i already want to go back.
i suppose i should start from the beginning:
the view from my hotel room. can you see why i miss it so?
my hotel, or resort i should say (why anyone would want to stay within the confines of their hotel/resort instead of venturing beyond touristy waikiki is beyond me) was home to many animals which probably would not have found their way there naturally.
flamingoes, for example.
and african penguins.
and finally, koi.
on the first afternoon, i had to attend an international relations conference panel presentation, but afterwards i was able to go to the beach to catch the sunset and go for a little swim.
can you believe the water was warm enough to swim in the evening? try doing that in san francisco.
a partial view of the hotel from the beach.
for dinner, i decided on thai with my conference group. one unfortunate thing about the neighborhood was that all the restaurants were upscale chains (benihana, todai, etc.) that we have in california too. why would people come to hawaii and not want to try regional cuisine? we were hard-pressed to find any hawaiian restaurants, let alone find fresh local fruits. (no coconut! no mango! no starfruit! i had a slice of pineapple but it tasted like nothing!) i imagine the non-touristy areas were much different. regardless, the thai was delicious.
we shared the duck-filled spring rolls with mango salsa for dessert. too much cilantro, but otherwise perfect. i had a seafood and vegetable green curry over somen noodles.
the next morning, i woke up early so i could hike up diamond head crater before my panel presentation that afternoon. what was to be a fifteen-minute walk (according to the map) turned out to be two and a half hours.
by the time i reached the foot of diamond head, i was too exhausted to climb it. i got a cab and went back to the hotel, where i spent a couple hours at the beach until my panel presentation.
later on that evening i got my first taste of hawaiian homestyle. i highly approved of the garlic chicken strips.
the next morning marked the beginning of my one day in hawaii where i didn’t have to attend any panels. i went with my university’s panel group to hanauma bay, also known as paradise. also known as The Best Place In The World. also known as Where I Would Love To Be Right Now.
we ate breakfast while we waited for the bus. i love the abc stores in hawaii, for they provide me with the best breakfasts ever, a breakfast i am unable to attain in san francisco:
spam musubi (contrary to what i expected, it was good!), salmon rice ball and island mocha iced coffee. delicious.
we had a little mix up with the bus lines and on our way there we had to transfer to another line. we decided to walk towards the bay until we came across the bus stop.
hanauma bay is gorgeous. i went snorkeling and saw lots and lots of bright colorful fish in the coral reef. it was like swimming through a pbs nature special. it wasn’t until over five hours later when we were leaving we realized that the gift shop sold underwater cameras. hopefully next time i’ll get underwater photos. we all got sunburned pretty bad but it was very much worth it.
all the dark grey-ish areas in the water are coral reef. we saw fish of every color and pattern imaginable.
this must be the happiest flower in the world, for it lives in hanauma bay.
that evening our group went to sam choy’s for dinner. if any of you lovely readers who have an affinity for cooking follow pacific rim cuisine, you know that sam choy is the hawaii’s most famous chef. the food was wonderful.
i love poke.
i had the seared shrimp and scallops.
the next morning was my final few hours in hawaii.
this is what i woke up to every morning.
i really do miss hawaii.
happy new year
i’m back in california. even the incessant rain can’t dampen my contentment from being back in the bay area.
now for what we’ve all been waiting for – pictures from the trip. we shall go in order:
bye bye oakland.
bye bye bay area.
near mount vernon.
in alexandria, virginia, which struck me as being similar to corte madera, but more touristy.
my cousin aryana.
you can’t tell by the picture, but this stick of “butter” at the smithsonian in washington, dc, is about the size of a dining room table.
poetic calligraphy from the persian empire’s savafid dynasty at the smithsonian. i was suprised to see that the art and poetry from india’s mughal dynasty was also in farsi.
Quranic calligraphy from the savafid dynasty in tabriz.
from iran’s sassanian dynasty.
those sassanian eyerainians sure knew how to get down.
at the smithsonian.
i made chinese food for dinner one evening.
aryana enjoying her amish lunch in amish country.
there’s lots of barns in amish country, pennsylvania.
a view of dc from the masonic lodge in alexandria.
duckies in maryland.
my sister and i were entralled by ducks walking on the frozen lake.
aryana having a blast at the “lake” (psst – its really a faux lake built near an upscale mall).
chelo kabab at moby dick – the dc area’s favorite iranian restaurant chain.
so i’m back. blame my absence on a semester and a half’s worth of term papers, exams and stacks of books, not to mention a hundred page paper i penned on iranian foreign policy. last semester was like international relations boot camp. it paid off though.
i travelled to dc in april for the national model arab league conference, and i walked away with an outstanding delegate award at the west coast model arab league. i met some amazing people in dc and had a great time out on the town. i flew to maryland in june with the family, and spent a few days in new york city and dc as well. now i’m savoring the summertime before i begin grad school in the fall at sfsu, commuting back and forth from santa rosa to san francisco for work, and looking for a place to get back in the city by the fall.
i don’t like summarizing seven months into two neat paragraphs.