Da Shootz Brah

Maupin, Oregon // Rafting the Deschutes River // High Desert River Outfitters: The Ultimate – all day experience //

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Nope, never had a bad day in Maupin. I did however, have the worst ice cream known to man–

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(Stay away from this place, Sage Photos & Ice Cream [?!?!])

For more information on booking rafting trips check out: www.highdesertriver.com

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Portland Macarons

We’ll start with my favorite places…

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[ Ken’s Artisan Bakery ]

Blood Orange
Lemon
Hazelnut <--- #1, although they are all amazing
Pistacio
Grapefruit
Salted Caramel

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Suuuuuuuuper romantic story about the itty bitty pic above.

Surprise box, full of macarons at work, downtown Portland.

My very first in America actually. So good that I started shoving them in my mouth, crumbs all over my face and a Hansel and Gretel trail where I had been walking by. Mmmmm yum. Snuck away to a busy street. Someone leans in to kiss me (our first) and I frantically shake my head “Noooooooooooo!!” (Only because of the lovely hazelnut macaron still in my mouth).
Yeah. No matter. It was a delicious kiss, but besides that anecdote, Ken’s is by far my top choice for macarons in this city!

[ Pix Patisserie ]

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This place is great and always fulfills our late night macaron cravings! They are open until midnight-1 am and have a slew of other pastries to choose from as well! Pix was voted best macarons in Portland one year, when they had a foie gras flavored one. Disturbing, but just one of many interesting flavors to choose from.

[ Whole Foods Bakery ]

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Double Chocolate — tasted like a piece of fudge and had the same consistency.

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Birthday Cake <--- fave
Pistacio
Strawberry Champagne <---- tied for fave
Raspberry
(PLATE NOT INCLUDED)

I enjoy all of these flavors, even the double chocolate despite it not being quite right in texture. The best way to eat these (besides sharing, of course) is to get a bite of the birthday cake and a bite of the strawberry macaron in one mouthful. STRAWBERRY BIRTHDAY CAKE!!!

[ New Seasons ]

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Pistacio
Lemon
Chocolate
Coffee

These guys aren’t bad! They are a bit on the small side, wimpy macarons that just leave me wanting more. Not the craziest variety to choose from, just basics here that you can’t go wrong with.

[ Jade Bistro ]

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Blueberry
Lavender
Coconut <--- probably the best of the bunch
Pistacio

The colors were so bright and jarring. Fun to pick out in the case, but the flavors matched the vibrancy of the color, except in an artificial way. I think this would fit the palette of many kids rather than anyone desiring a true French pastry; the colors alone screamed fake and made it unappetizing. Plus you can tell from the picture that the macarons are all different sizes, so I don’t think they’ve got the recipe down yet.

[ Fancy That ]

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Pistacio
Chocolate Malt
Carrot Cake
Salted Caramel
Raspberry
Hazelnut

Again, all shapes and sizes of these macarons. Some of the most disappointing I’ve ever tried– If this had been a blind tasting I would have been unable to recognize what flavors I was eating (besides raspberry). The outside was basic for each one, and the filling aka sugared buttered added nothing special to distinguish one from another. The coloring was also pretty misleading. So if you like eating fancy butter… you know where to go!

[ NW Portland Cafe ]

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Gold macaron? Yes please!

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Lemon

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Raspberry… Tasted like a pop tart! Delicious 🙂
These were more surprise work macarons (I prefer food to flowers anytime), and the description of where they came from was vague. I will forever dream of the pop tart macaron I had that day!

[ Elephants Delicatessen ]

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I only tried one. First and last one. Should’ve known better than to trust a place that would leave their macarons out in the open refrigerator all day. They were too tiny for the price, bland, and also the wrong texture *probably due to the refrigeration* I may need to buy some and let them defrost for a bit before consuming, just to be sure…

There are a few major bakeries known for wonderful macarons that I have not been to yet
but as always, I will add them to my ever-growing food list.

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Trip Trap

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October 2014 my mom and I embarked on our first European adventure together! We decided to visit four countries: England, Italy, France, and Switzerland over the course of three weeks. I planned and planned, made lists twice over and still felt like it could’ve used some tweaking once I was actually on my trip.

What I did wrong

1. I bought two external phone chargers – one from Target before I left, and a longer lasting one for the same price ($20) from an airport. Handy as it was I definitely didn’t need two of them, and it was annoying to keep track of recharging so many separate things (iphone, iphone chargers (x2), camera battery).

2. I purchased a dual socket adapter with all the international plug-in attachments… However, the design was ill conceived and would only allow one regular sized plug to be charged at a time. VERYYYYYYY inconvenient (see above) which was also purchased from Target (thankfully was able to return once I got back to the States).

3. I packed a pair of slippers (just in case I wanted them for the hotel showers… yeah), a pair of gladiator sandals (cute but hardly worn as it was full fledged fall in October), and a pair of brand new (not broken in one step) Keds for everyday walking. The first two were unused, the latter not actually very comfortable. Big no-no.

4. When in Rome… actually just Italy in general. I decided to enjoy a full diet of gelato on the daily, ignoring the very real fact that I am allergic to dairy and ended up getting sick: for about 10 days. Not my brightest moment.

5. Miiiiiiiiiiiiiight’ve needed a selfie stick. Would’ve gotten more pictures with my mom if we had longer arms 🙂

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What I did RIGHT

1. Used a pair of fleece lined leggings as a layering piece when it was cold outside, as well as for pajama bottoms, keeping me warm and packed light!

2. Filled my carry on with clothes that not only mixed and matched with everything else, but that I could throw out after 2-3 wears, thus lightening my load as I traveled and making room for all the things I wanted to bring back.

3. Had all tickets printed in advance, organized in a little notebook with all the information for our flights and hotels which was easy to find at a quick glance–

4. Packed everything in a standard size structured duffle bag with wheels and a pull out handle. I could use the long strap around my shoulder, or roll it along like I did 99% of the time! Made life so much easier going through airports and such! This thing has been everywhere with me and I can’t imagine using anything else.

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Viking Soul Food

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Viking Soul Food Cart >> Belmont St

Lingonberry juice… FTW, YUM!

Left>> Sweet Lefse Wrap
Rhubarb preserves, Portland creamy chevre & walnuts

Right>> Savory Lefse Wrap
Norwegian meatballs, goat cheese, gravy, sweet & sour purple cabbage

Both of these were great. The wrap itself was a nice texture, super thin with a nice chewiness to it that actually held up to the fillings— The sweet lefse was soooooo creamy and not super sweet which I enjoyed, but also had some crunch from the walnuts. The meatball wrap had salty and punchy parts with the pickled cabbage in there. I love getting all kinds of textures and flavors in one, so again both of these were really enjoyable! The two of us split these, and ate them back and forth; plate surfing at will. Best of both worlds really (and a bit of Valhalla)!

Closing in the near future but supposedly moving to a brick and mortar location— Yay we finally made it!!
Thanks to my Danish friend for introducing me 😉

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Lebanese: Nicholas Restaurant

If you haven’t already been, please make a point to stop at this place the next time your near SE Portland. The restaurant is unassuming but serves great food in a fun way. They will bring out a fresh pita as big as a pizza with herbs and oil to start!

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Starters:
Fresh Pita & herb olive oil
Hummus
Salad & Tabouli

Entrees:
Beef Schawarma over rice
Lamb Kebabs

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London: Art

After walking back from the British Museum (looking for dinner down a side street) I did a double take when I saw these oversized medicines*! It was Damien Hirst’s “Schizophrenogenesis” exhibition. “Sculptures of medicine bottles, pharmaceutical boxes, ampoules, syringes, a scalpel, and drug packaging that all play with concepts of scale – the tallest measuring nearly one and a half metres.” The proportions of these things makes you feel like a kid all over again, or maybe that’s just me. Haha. Those who know me will probably remember my amusement with miniatures and gigantics… so eye catching, they basically stop me in my tracks.

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For a closer look at the individual pieces, check out the gallery website:
http://www.paulstolper.com/exhibitions/works/75-schizophrenogenesis

London being what it is, makes it possible to turn the corner onto something unexpected everyday. Installations, graffiti art, and architecture had me looking in all directions, mostly taking pictures like a crazy Japanese tourist [that I admittedly am].

These pieces also caught my eye because I’ve been planning to do my own mixed media artwork with real pills for a few years now. Collecting and hoarding all the colorful little gems so that I can cover a huge canvas with them… probably too reminiscent of gum-ball art or m&m world, but wayyyyyyyy better. Maybe Andy Warhol should’ve “painted” Marilyn in pills and actually said something. Either way I have other drugs {not pictured} which I am still formulating pictorial uses for… hehe. As of this moment, they will sit pretty on my desk until I get my next idea.

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Name that drug!

*Like I said, I am overly amused (obsessed) with miniature and giant reproductions of things…
#AznMafiaDuh

Miniature
Polly Pocket
Origami
Tattoos
Puppies
Desserts

Giant
Jansport backpack
Legoland
Pocky
Sculpture/Paintings
Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge

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The Day I Said I Do

How did my food journey begin…?

I grew up in Hawaii, my family from there all being Japanese. I only realized I was different after I had moved to North Carolina, probably the second day of my 8th grade year in junior high.

I was sitting at a cafeteria table with the “popular” gals. I only know because they acted like they were better than other people since they were donning Abercrombie & Fitch. I digress. Everyone pulls out their packed lunches, I spy the typical white bread sandwich, chips, fruit cups, etc.
Mine however… a tupperwear full of Oyakodonburi and rice.

Say what?

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Yes.

Heads turn.

“What is that?

Fastest way to explain:

“Leftovers from dinner. Rice with chicken and egg and… other stuff.”

“Oh…”

Keep in mind they thought “Hawaiians” were blonde and tan with lots of piercings. Okay… country hicks. I was not the expected image, and currently eating what appeared to be alien food.

I grew up trying a lot of typical Japanese/Chinese/Portuguese/Hawaiian/Filipino foods.
Living in the melting pot…

Nishime, ozoni [5 am mochi pounding], soba for new years. Kinako mochi.
Dry saimin for snack. Pounding the package on the sidewalk and dropping the sauce *cough*
MSG packet into the crumbles.
Friends having chopped tako or kamaboko (fish cake) in ziplocs for snack.
Cone sushi. Maki sushi (tuna/egg/carrot/red or green hana-ebi/shiitake/kampyo)
Orange halves with Li Hing Mui stuck in the center bleeding its red salted brine throughout the veins.
Fresh pineapple. Soda crackers. Arare. Kimi Balls. White rabbits occasionally.
Iso peanuts. Tomoe Ame rice candy. Washerette shave ice.
Sweet bread and peanut butter for breakfast. Kulolo.
Mrs. Aunty Kuwada’s spam musubi rolls (G-pa and I would get into these before even leaving her house… HAHA our impatience to Grandma’s dismay)
Mrs. Kuwada’s wine cake (OMG). Her andagi, mochi, chocolate iced cake, yellow pound cake…
That woman was AMAZING—
Lee-Bear’s white chocolate covered PB Ritz with rainbow sugar sprinkled on it
<---------- {If you remember this <3} Char Siu or curry chicken manapuas from Minit Stop. Red hot dogs. Redondo's. Crispy duck cakes from Ting Ying’s. Korean nori strips. Chichi dango mochi.
Tasaka’s Guri Guri. Homemaid’s malasadas. Taro chips. Mochi poi balls.
Cream filled malasadas. Maui Bake Shops raspberry twists.
Sam Sato’s dry saimin with soup on the side. Lima bean manju.
Hard boiled egg and shoyu. Yan Yan. Pocky. Koala’s. Sembei.
Nazo’s Ox tail soup… my grandma’s favorite. Kim chee. Nappa Zukke.
Lahainaluna (or whatever club, let’s be honest)
doing the fund raising selling kalua pig/lau lau.
S&S saimin. Loco Mocos and the best fruit punch EVER at McDonald’s.
The crack store (crack seed store, that is). Icees. Tasty Crust saimin.
Pork shumai and all the good food my uncle would bring over from Oahu.
Flying Saucer (sandwich at the Maui County Fair). Chow Fun.
Old school Liberty Restaurant chow fun. Fujiya Coconut Tea crackers.
Mom snacking on cuttlefish or ika (squid), shredded mango and prune mui.
The Barrio Fiesta: (PC: Maui Filipino Heritage Festival) Pancit. Lumpia.
Being disturbed at a pot luck because someone decided to put adzuki beans in the rice,
and it really freaked me out as a kid because I thought it was bugs.

I missed all of these things when I was living on the mainland. Although the exposure to Southern food while living in NC was also great. Sweet teas all around, pulled pork sandwhiches, brisket, Chick Fil-A, waffle fries, fried chicken, cornbread, biscuites, banana cream pie, berry cobblers, apple ciders, pumpkin desserts, ribs, BBQ sauces, hot sauces…

As I got older I realized a few things. Food presented a certain way appeared to be art. It was more than just sustenance, it was something that brought people together… and I started taking pictures of the spreads at our family get-to-gethers. Also, if I had a great meal: I wanted to remember it. Definitely weird, I used to blog many YEARS ago, here and there about the things I’d do on the weekends or when I’d hang out with my friends and use a few of the photos for that. The rest are floating around which I will probably dig up soon for old times sake.

The most recent experience that clicked, (besides me taking pictures of alllllll of my food) was when my mom and I had just returned from Europe and we had 4 days to do Portland-y things. Our unplanned plan of attack…

Day 1.

Breakfast
Bob’s Red Mill

Lunch
Downtown Food Carts
Nong’s Khao Man Ghai
Korean Twist
Grilled Cheese Grill

Snack
Lauretta Jean’s Pies (x3)
SE Division Teahouse – Chai
Salt & Straw Ice Cream

Dinner
Screen Door

WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOPS

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Eating our Nong’s Khao Man Gai chicken and rice.

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Mmmmm Korean. Pickled sides and some odd salad. Still good though!

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Pies and chai… Yummmmmy!

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Crazy Halloween flavors!! Didn’t try any though, boo.
The Scoops: Pear & Blue Cheese / Double Fold Vanilla / Almond Brittle w/ Salted Ganache

I had heard, been told, and saw on yelp that I needed to try Screen Door. Southern cuisine. All done just right. After a full day of eating it was almost unfair to go there (that’s why we got the dessert TO GO), but I’m so glad we did!

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In line early… smart move—

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Hush puppies and shrimp cheesy grits for starters ^ The best thing I ate at Screen Door—

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Mom’s favorite food: fried chicken– A very good rendition here.

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My gargantuan pulled pork sandwhich and sweet potato fries. This was a real big mess to devour.

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I think these were yams… although we hadn’t expected it to be sweet.

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Brisket (?) on a bed of lima beans and gravy with coleslaw on top. Also really tasty and epically large.

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Could’ve done without this altogether. Not bad tasting but not a great cake by my standards. Could’ve been moister, sweeter, creamier… didn’t leave me with any lasting impressions other than the notion of SKIPPING dessert. Overall great experience and the start of my collecting places to put on a list so I wouldn’t have to wonder where I was going to eat out next. With so many options it was hard to remember what’s where or even recommended in the area.

So why not compile a list and share it– I write about all my other endeavors… How can I not post my [usually terrible] iPhone photos of food that were not-so-discreetly taken! Riiiight?

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Kitchen Nightmares: Macaron Adventures

I have never claimed to be a great baker… only a great chef. Haha…

The thing that gets me down with baking is that there are specific, measured amounts, orders of operation, tried and true methods from which you cannot deviate. This has always killed the major fun for me, as really the best part of baking is eating the final product. I just don’t have the patience to follow some unknown author’s orders.

It’s not something I completely shy away from. Baking occurs at key points during a year for me, a few holidays, the random craving, maybe some birthdays. The desserts I can bake without need for looking at recipes: Butter Mochi and Shortbread Cookies (and… box cupcakes). There was one Thanksgiving I had started to make the butter mochi, realizing a bit too late that I was out of vanilla. Whelp… too far now to go out and get some, I’ll substitute a little bit of Almond Extract. Whatever: (this is the artist in me). Thanksgiving comes and goes, great food, stuffed to excess. Come home, open the microwave to heat up some leftovers from earlier and see a bowl of melted butter still sitting in there.

BUTTER.

But this means…

THERE WAS NO BUTTER IN THE BUTTER MOCHI!

No wonder it tasted so healthy…

Usually I enjoy cooking, the spontaneity, oftentimes scouting out my kitchen becomes my own personal episode of Chopped. Just as bizarre, but absolutely amazing what you can come up with when you are really forced to get creative. Really the best dishes have been results of curiosity— [I relate this to my senior year in college. I was exploring mixed media and decided to try every combination of mediums together. I quickly found what can give what effect, not that I wanted them all but it was useful research.] Same goes with food…

Back to baking… recently been getting into some French desserts. Craving things I had abroad, wondering why it had to be something I couldn’t have. OR could have but was difficult to get. OR expensive. Thinking about baking in terms of the impossible. Why? I tell myself I can do anything, so why not bake a macaron. Goodness. Didn’t realize I had made those barriers for myself, so I’m glad to say no more of that. I contacted an old friend (TY Deanna!) for recipes and general help. I scoured the internet. Stalked Martha Stewart. Watched countless youtube videos. Got a notebook and went John Nash writing out variations on this-and-that. Re-read the recipes till I had them inevitably memorized. Googled more recipes to where I could spot the differences and forsee the results. Yeah, when I commit…

I
GO
HARD
(core)

Step 1: Actually acquire the necessary supplies and ingredients.
This turned out to be just coconut extract on the first outing, 2nd outing—–>


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What happened next.. there are no pics to show the process. It was probably the most frenetic, haphazardly done macaron making. This was because I heard it would take many many tries to get this right, so why worry about everything being perfect on attempt #1? It was good fun. Had to redo a few things multiple times. Crack a few more eggs, separate the whites. Try to separate the whites. Rewhip some eggs. Repour out the sugar. Spill coconut on the floor.

Moment of truth, two trays out of the oven…

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Decided to change the recipe a bit. But what resulted:

the-perfect-first-coconut-macaron

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I only ended up making a few actual macarons, as they were too good not to eat as is, or with buttercream just drizzled on top. Yes, for shame, but tasted all the same to me. Close up:

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BATCH 2

Time to get mechaniacle. Mechanical + Maniacal = Crazy Baking Robot
Followed the recipe to a T. Blended. Sifted. Made a little circle template for the macaron piping. Took my time. Somehow ended up burning half a batch. Oh well! Also some of the tops cracked, meaning I either underwhipped the mixture or didn’t tap out enough of the air bubbles. I’m guessing its the former. Soft peaks. Stiff peaks. I’ve only done that once, and that was the previous nights adventure.

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Buttercream: lots of butter. Lots of sugar. Ended up throwing this one out completely and changed the recipe. *See below* Added some unsweetened coconut and leftover almond grounds for texture. This first buttercream tasted good, but the second attempt was way less sweet aaaaaand healthier (lesser of two evils really…)
This is just what happened after I refrigerated it!

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BATCH 3

Alright. Bust out the mini food processor. Again. Make my almond flour. Again. Sift. Combine. Process. Time to use that hand mixer a bit longer. Make those peaks softer. Stiffer. The perfect white of the egg whites now burning holes into my pupils. Done? Flip the bowl upside down test! Doesn’t fall. Must be stiff enough now. (!!Not SURE THOUGH!!) Re-pipette everything out. Good thing I’ve always had a steady hand. Throw some coconut on there for decoration. Shove in the oven.

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Finished batch cooling… Cooked for 5 less minutes than the previous two– This is a total of 10 minutes baking time!
They look great!

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From left to right: Batch 3, 2, 1…

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I also created a Peanut Butter filling which tastes delicious!

PB RECIPE
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter (I used Jif Natural Low Sodium)
1/3 cup confectioners sugar
2 tbsp of butter, room temp

COCONUT BUTTERCREAM <<< I made this up 1/2 cup unsalted butter 1 cup confectioners sugar 1 tsp coconut extract 1/4 cup coconut flakes 1/4 cup ground almond (leftover pieces that had been sifted out) 2-3 cap-fulls of almond milk Here are the perfectly imperfect, finished macarons! Toasted Coconut Peanut Butter Macarons in front and Coconut Macarons in all their glory. Taste testing is hard work, and now that I'm sick of macarons I can move on to perfecting the fruit tart or strawberry pie... Not!

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