Eats

Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend

I like baseball. Games are fun, there’s great team spirit, and as we have all learned from Season 2, Episode 1 of Sex and the City:

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Deep down, I’m still an East Coast girl, and so I like the Red Sox. And living in Washington, it’s obviously that the Red Sox are barely a concern to the Mariners fans (and vice versa). The Seahawks-Patriots hate is an entry for another day, but safe to say, I can wear something that has the “B” or something that says Red Sox on it, and not feel the hatred of a thousand suns when I go to the grocery store.

By a stroke of luck, I managed to get myself invited to a Mariners game, with some friends, of whom we will call Sandwich, Louboutini, and Sandlot, Sandlot’s dad, and Sandlot’s dad’s boss.

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Eat it up, bitches.

Because they were from work, the tickets were for the Diamond Club. These aren’t the box seats, high above the third base line; these are seats directly behind home plate, with a special tunnel access to an open bar, a giant buffet with breakfast, lunch, and all the typical ballpark snacks you can imagine. It was a gorgeous day, they were playing the White Sox, and I had great seats!

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There’s nothing like a sunny summer day at the ballpark.  Safeco Field is by far one of the loveliest I’ve ever been to; it’s clean, well designed, and easy to navigate.  The baseball diamond elicits a feeling of familiarity for every red-blooded American, and the Mariners even won!

I don’t remember how much I ate and drank, but I’m sure my nutritionist-RN friend would not have approved. There were hotdogs and sausages (and we tried out the Silicon Valley Season 4 Hotdog-Not-A-Hotdog app), Ezell’s Famous Chicken (SO overrated), burgers, roast beef, nachos, a giant tuna carving station, salads, pastas, an omelette bar, fruit and pastries, regular sandwiches, and all sorts of candy.

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And Cracker Jacks. Because no ballgame is complete without peanuts and Cracker Jacks.  And beer that you can drink at two in the afternoon without judgment.

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Crabbing, Canoeing, and Coconuts, oh my!

If you’re from New England, it’s a good bet that you have gone crabbing at some point (or at least know people who have participated in this fond past-time). You tie a bit of raw chicken/fish to a string, throw it out into some brackish water, and wait for the string to pull taut. You then slowly pull the string towards you, lest you frighten the crabs, and when you can finally get it high enough (they are piggy scavengers – they don’t notice if they are being lifted in the water as long as they are being fed), you take a net and scoop it out of the water as fast as you possibly can.

My uncle lives on a canal where he can dock his boat, and the dock also makes an ideal place to crab. Gem and I had nothing to do on our last day, and we called to see if we could hang out and try our luck with the nets. We did not fare so well, but we did catch a few!

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The first victim.

After a few hours of no bites (literally), my uncle suggested taking the canoe out. We soon discovered that a canoe’s turning radius is only slightly less than a semi-truck, and if we are wrong and you can actually turn a canoe on a dime, well then, we are just bad at turning. My uncle had suggested rowing up to a few neighbors with the mango, lemon, and avocado trees and asking for some, but we had a hard-enough time going straight and not crashing into the retaining walls that managing to get to a dock might have been more of a challenge than our sunburned bodies were ready for.

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We did manage to pick up a few coconuts that had landed in the water (after several unsuccessful attempts), and I was super excited to open it and see what was inside. Seriously, the coconut trees are awesome, but if they fall off onto your head, they can kill you. So, when we managed to grab one from the water, it was a treat! It was, unfortunately, waterlogged and inedible, and made a nasty brown mess on the driveway. (We did get one that my dad managed to peel – yes, peel – the next day.)

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While we lost a good six crabs to our solidly poor netting skills and the fact that they are just crafty creatures – they pretty much give you the finger when you get them to the surface, go to net them, and then they let go of the bait and spread their legs like they just did a mic drop – we ended up with five of them. When we got back, my mom had arranged for a cookout with the family, and also steamed our catch for the day. We were munching on salad, rice pilaf, and crab, and talking, telling stories, and laughing while the sun set. It was a perfect last full day in Florida with the fam.

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Backdoor Dragon

I am always in awe of those food challenge people.  You know, Adam Richman, the Man v. Food guy,  or even the stuff that comes up in the news, like the Super Bowl of Pho.  There are also the spicy challenges, which seem like a form of masochism.

Not to be outdone, my people decided to create their own challenge:  The Samyang 2x Spicy Noodle Challenge.  Okay this is not officially a challenge, but still.  I saw a video on YouTube about it, and when I found them in the store, I knew I had to try it.

She’s a wuss, right?  She can’t handle the Korean fire, right?  Well, we shall soon see…

I found them in a store near a bar I happen to enjoy, and of course I needed to buy them.  Before you ask, we’d not even gone in the bar yet!

Dinnertime rolled around the next day, and while I wasn’t super hungry, I figured it was now or never for the fire noodles.  I warn you, all the photos from hereon out are unedited for lighting or making me look better.  There was simply no time.  My mouth was dying.

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I mean, the packaging is so unassuming!  Cute, even! Yes, it says 2x spicy, but there’s a pirate chicken throwing bombs and lightning bolts!  How bad can it really be?  Leave it to the Koreans to make something terrifying look adorable.

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I was pretty skeptical.  I accidentally had a bit more water than the directions called for, and instead of leaving it plain, I added some shredded lettuce, egg, furikake seasoning, and a bit of old grilled chicken.  It was dinner, after all!  (Also, as a PSA, spicy, soggy lettuce does NOT taste good…)

I did put on a lipgloss protectant with soothing aloe and other things to make chapped lips feel better prior to eating.  You’ll see how well it helped…

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First bite!  Here we go!  Okay, it’s not so bad…a little sweet even!  I notice a lot of people don’t actually chew ramen, so I made it a point to chew it like I would chew any normal food…wait…omg, my lips are tingly!  Delicious tingles..wait no, definitely not delicious.  My tongue feels like it’s swelling.  The fire is going straight to my sinuses.

Have some milk!  Okay, we’re okay now.  No biggie, it’s….wait the milk is gone and I’m still burning.  It is like licking a hot cast iron pan…

Another bite and my lips are scalding hot.  Not just the part that is touching the noodles, but it’s spreading! I am surprised I’m not blistering!  Maybe I am, I feel like anything that’s touched the sauce is 2x the size (maybe that’s what they mean by 2x?) I quickly slurp up more noodle, and it splatters onto my chin a bit!  Damn!  now my chin is a bit tingly!  Oh man, gotta keep going!  We can’t waste it!!!

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My nose is red, and running profusely.  My lips are red.  The red “aura” around them is the burn.  Notice that the “protectant” didn’t work at all.  (It did serve an unintended purpose, however.  It kept them from chapping from the heat!)  My eyes were watering, and I felt like every exhale was going to light something nearby on fire.  This must be what those Game of Thrones dragons must feel like.  What a bad way to live!…and this was three bites in.

With a rating of 8400 Scoville units, it’s about the heat of a jalapeño (you know, the hot ones, not the lame regular ones).  I routinely eat jalapeños, and enjoy them, so it shouldn’t be that bad, right?  I mean, those aren’t all that spicy, right?  WRONG.  It’s HOT.  Like really hot.  Imagine not one but a bunch of them, mashed up, seeds and all.  And then you eat it with a spoon.  It’s so hot, if you get it on your skin, you will break out in a rash.

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I thought I could handle it.  I thought I would be fine.  Nope.  A full glass of milk later, it burns.  Ice cream, ice, anything you can think of, and it still burns.  The “extras” were no help, either.  They just absorbed the hot oil, and it was like eating spicy everything.  Even this morning (it’s 8:51 and I ate it at 18:30 last night), there’s still a faint tingle on my lips.

But what I’m more concerned about is when it’s time to come out the other end.  While I was breathing fire before, I might be shitting fire now.   Let’s hope I drank enough milk to negate it…only time will tell.

Hoppy Hour

In an unscheduled break from my Florida activities, I bring you my previous weekend.

Tidbit 45967: I love beer.

Tidbit 86325: I hate hoppy beers.   This does not bode well for my living arrangements, as the PacNW loves their hops.

Tidbit 28487:  I am Yelp Elite, which simply means I eat a lot, and write a lot, because I have a lot of spare time and not too many people to hang out with.  And Yelp will  occasionally throw us a bone and host events around our area, so we can meet people.

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Bellingham has a pretty great Elite Squad – not too big, lots of fun people. Our last event was at Atwood Ales in Blaine, WA.  They promised free beer and snacky snacks, and a tour of the facilities.  It’s a private brewery, not open to the public, so we were in for a treat.

Or so I thought.

We were to be put to work – hard, manual labor of harvesting hops.  (Ok, it wasn’t hard, and it was actually really, really fun.  Beer makes everything better.)

In case you don’t know what hops are, they are the flowers of a plant, that are dried and used to flavor beer, and they look sort of like little green pine cones.  The “petals” are soft and thin, and there’s an oil in them that relaxes you – they said you can even make it into a tincture with vodka, and a few drops (cups?) will help you sleep!

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They make lovely vines, and they grow quite quickly – they told us that they’d start to grow in March, and be up to 16′ by June.  For those of you that like pretty vines crawling up the sides of your deck, barn, or whatnot, but also have issues with instant gratification, hops just might be your answer.

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And harvesting we went.  It was pretty fun, and we ended up with over 130 lbs of them.  To put it into perspective, each hop weighs barely a few grams.  We had more or less unlimited beer, went on a tour of the facilities (where they grow fruits, veggies, hops, and pretty much anything you can think of to flavor a beer – or to make wine!), and were able to buy bottles at the end.  The facilities include a storage shed and a two-car garage with a loft.  Pretty impressive!

My hands smelled delicious afterwards, and we were all quite relaxed.  I can’t say I’m going into homebrewing, but I’m pretty sure I can support the industry by drinking.  And now I have a newfound appreciation that goes into the tasty beverage.

However, I do not recommend eating them.  They’re unbelievably bitter, and it gets a weird dry mouth feel the longer you chew them…which you have to do, for longer than you think you should.  I will say though, gnawing on hops can numb your mouth, which is especially good if you have a canker sore.

I might even look into growing some in a pot.  (We’ll ignore my absolute lack of a green thumb, and my uncanny knack for killing every plant I’ve ever had.)  I mean, there’s no homebrewing in my future, but that vodka tincture for sleep sure sounds delicious.

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The Top 5 Things I Learned at an Indian Wedding

Friendship blessed me with the opportunity to attend a Punjabi Sikh wedding last weekend.  Not only was it my first time in NorCal (San Jose!), but it was also the first Indian wedding I’ve ever attended – which meant days of parties.  I returned home Sunday night, exhausted, full of curry, and armed with new knowledge for next time.

In no particular order, here are the top five things I learned this past weekend:

1. Be prepared to eat.  No, not “eat a meal at the reception.”  We had dinner at the Mehndi ceremony on Thursday and the Sangeet on Friday.  And Saturday, we had breakfast and lunch at the hall (sandwiching the religious ceremony), and then dinner at the reception.  If you don’t like Indian food, this could be a bit challenging, but give it a chance if you’ve never had it.  You just might surprise yourself.

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Image courtesy of purvajcaterers.co.in

I’m fairly certain I ate about 12 pounds of paneer, chicken, lamb, samosas, rice, saag, kebob…I actually decided to change my outfit one night so I could eat more.  Side note – Indian desserts are a bit….different.  Spongy and very sweet.  My advice would be to fill up on the food.

2. Some of the parties may be dry.  In the U.S., “wedding” is usually synonymous with “booze,” but consumption of alcohol is prohibited in Sikhism.  This doesn’t mean that every event will be dry, but we were told, “You do you.”  Which, to many of us, said”be prepared with your own drinks.”
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Punjabi people are known for partying and having a good time, and the first two nights were not dry.  (My new drink invention is chai with spiced rum and a bit of sweetener.)  Out of respect, Saturday’s religious festivities and the reception were, however, so we made do with our own flasks.  Just don’t be too obvious, and take swigs privately.

3. It’s totally appropriate to wear a saree.  Bold and bright colors (no solid black or white), beading, embroidery, you name it.  My saree was an impulse buy between the Saturday morning ceremony and reception from a secondhand boutique that donates proceeds to help abused women.
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There are lots of videos on YouTube to teach you how to wear one, and they’re definitely not bad.  Invest in safety pins, and give it your best shot.  And if you’re still having trouble draping it, an Indian auntie will most certainly help you.

I was in the ladies’ room, trying to fix it, and she came up to me, asked if I needed help, and before I knew it, I was standing there with her hands tucking the fabric into my petticoat (aka skirt worn below your belly button).  It was a bit odd at first, but about 4 seconds in, I was immensely thankful for her help, and before I knew it, she had a line of people needing her expert advice.

4. Bring your dancing shoes.  Not dancing is not an option.  You’re at a wedding where the dance floor will basically turn into an Indian club, with pounding, energetic Indian music and flashing lights.  Plus, you’re there to celebrate.  Get off your butt and dance.
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At the Sangeet, there were choreographed traditional dances, a group dance, and then what seemed like every person trying to show off even more energetic moves.  It was bhangra style, it was American style, and it was totally fun.  It was even better with all the swirling colors.

5. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.  Pace yourself.  Indian weddings last for days and have several events.  It’s worth it to take the time to appreciate all the work that went into the coordination, the gorgeous settings and colors, and to celebrate the happy couple.  There are traditions in which you can participate, such as the groom riding in on a white horse, with his friends and family dancing around it (which in our case was a fancy Mercedes), or hoisting the bride up and carrying her while the groom tries to get a garland of flowers around her neck.  Participate in the group dances, try all the food, and make new friends.  Indians are warm and welcoming, and they certainly know how to have a good time.

At heart, weddings all share one common thing:  They are a celebration of joining two families and many friends together, and this was no exception.   I can’t wait for the next one!

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OK! Oktoberfest!

I’m baaaaaaaack!  Did you miss me? 🙂

I promise I will a) not leave you for that long again, and b) will finish both my Hong Kong and Epic Road Trip series, but for now, here’s something else.

I’ve been discovering new places as of late, as my new job offers more more flexibility and freedom than I ever though possible.  And the latest place I discovered was Fort Worth, Texas.  Okay, okay…it’s not really “discovering” it, but it was my first time there.  And no, it wasn’t to visit the Stockyards.   I might get there eventually, but this time, it was for an Oktoberfest.

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Not having the privilege of attending an actual German Oktoberfest, I suppose I can settle for a Texan one.  Aside from the cowboy boots and hats, there were plenty of lederhosen and beer wenches to go around.  It’s as authentic as you can get given the location!  It was sponsored by Spaten, who brews one of my favorite Oktoberfest beers, and with a free 19oz stein, it was going to be a good day.  I even learned some trivia.

img_20160924_164029950I’m not a lush, I promise, and I got to play a gigantic game of Jenga (which I won, thank you very much).  I mean, it might’ve been better if I could have reached the top rung, but then again, beggars can’t be choosers.  There was also a bunch of cornhole, but the Fort Worth hipsters (which seem to be a cross between kids from Williamsburg and a straight up ranchero cowboy – at least they both wear plaid?) had monopolized it.

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I am no match for the beer barrel rolling or the beer wench contest (though some might say I have the wench part down pat), so instead, I opted for food.  And food there was!  This little piggy ate schnitzel (OH EM GEE what have I been missing all my life?), sausages, sauerkraut, and warm potato salad.  There are no photos, because I ate it too fast.  I didn’t get to try some of the other things, like the roasted nuts or the pretzels, but it was time for dessert anyway.

It was cake, and it was delicious.  If I lived in Germany, I’d be a drunken fool that ate schnitzel and ate cake all the time.  And maybe that potato salad.  But definitely the cake.

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Birthday Weekend, Part 1

My third 29th birthday was last Thursday, and what better way to celebrate than a weekend getaway to…Dallas.  No, I didn’t go to Cabo, no I didn’t go on a cruise, or even New York City.  Instead, I packed a bag and set off for the winter warmth of Texas.

Of course, birthday weekend wouldn’t be off to a good start without some birthday present (to myself), in the form of new running pants.  Now all I need are some running sneakers to match 🙂

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These are super fun – the squiggles are actually silver.

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I was told these look like the 80s threw up on my black pants.

Upon my arrival in Dallas, I was greeted with a sushi dinner (being Friday and Lent and all).  It was at a place I’d been to once before, and they were nice enough to let me use my Groupon on a Friday night.  I think I have a new favorite sushi spot in Dallas, though only if there’s a deal.

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IMG_20160304_195029643The first picture is missing a few rolls that came later, and yes, you do see two of the same rolls in each photo.  They’re hands down my favorites – the black caviar one is called the White Russian…what can I say?  I love Anna, I love this sushi roll – I just love my white Russians.

Somehow, despite the weekend being insanely busy, I managed to hit a vintage market (which was actually more of a disappointment – I was hoping for much more.  Maybe next year, though) coupled with a home and garden show.  I got in trouble for taking photos, but there were some cute little cacti and lovely cards.  I also bought some hot pepper-infused jelly.  I recommend the blueberry and the jalapeño mint.

 

 

 

Post market, it was such a beautiful day, I wanted to take advantage of the weather and the marginally safer streets, and went for a run outside.  When it’s 77 degrees out and winter everywhere else, you’d be a fool to not do something outside.  A short 5k around some of Dallas’s main arteries meant that I should probably reward myself.  I had wanted to go to a brewery for ages, and finally made it:  Deep Ellum Brewing Company.  $15 gets you three pints, a souvenir glass, and some prime people watching.  And folks, my PSA soapbox comment:  Just because you think you are hot stuff and wearing leggings in public does not give you permission to go commando.  Especially if the leggings are already stretched tight.  That material stretches further when you bend over, and when that material stretches and becomes transparent….ooof.  That was NOT a Grand Canyon I wanted to visit.

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Dinnertime meant a trip to meet some friends at Chino Chinatown, which was in a fancypants area with lots of restaurants I want to try.  It’s a Latin-Asian fusion, and I have just four words for you:  Duck.  Fat.  Fried.  Rice.  Everything was delicious, but really, that fried rice was divine.  To die for.  I could go back and eat just that.  The drinks were inventive but not terribly strong, so the beers beforehand were helpful.  I’m not an alkie, I swear.  I just enjoy feeling bubbly 🙂  Good conversation, good food, nice area.  I couldn’t really ask for more for my birthday.

Like all good things, weekends come to an end, and unfortunately, so do birthday weekends.  I flew back to reality this past Monday, and have been stuck in an office for the last few days.  Friday brings about Birthday Weekend, Part 2 in DC, when I head down to see some racing friends.  I think I’m pretty lucky – who else gets to have two birthday weekends?