Tuesday, January 30, 2007

polar bear run/walk

So I signed up for this 5K fun run at work. Checking out the competition this morning, I was pretty sure I'd get the sweatshirt. (Sweatshirts were given to the top male and female finishers.) Over confidence never did anyone any good, or at least not me in this case. Crossing the finish line, I came in second at 31:21. For a 3.1 miler! I'd thought for sure I'd be in under 30. (There I go again!) Better luck tomorrow.

The refuel station wasn't half-bad with bananas, bagels, and hot apple cider (huh?). And no, there weren't any polar bears nor road guards dressed as polar bears; although, either would've made for quite an amusing run. But I did hear one lady say to her buddy, "she reminds me of that girl on Grey's Anatomy," as I ran by. I just might have to wear a polar bear suit myself next time.

**Correction: The fun run was called Frosty Bear and not Polar Bear as stated in yesterday's post. Below is the Frosty Polar Bear costume I will don for next year's run. 1-31-07**


Friday, January 26, 2007

kuay teow ruah

This is real Thai food. Thai people's food. "Thai people don't eat Pad Thai" says Chutima, my roommate. They eat Kuay Teow Ruah, right from a street vendor for no more than 40 baht. I get it at a Thai restaurant near my apartment, TK Thai, for a whopping $7.95, excluding tax and tip. I've tried it at two other restaurants, House of Siam and Thai Lemongrass, but TK makes the best. (Albeit rumor has it they use MSG, according to a disgruntled ex-cook.) The thin rice noodles, bean sprouts, Chinese broccoli, scallions, cilantro, meatballs (ingredients unknown), and pieces of beef soak up the thick broth. For added flavor, crushed red pepper, vinegar, and fish sauce are provided to season to your liking. You could compare it to the Vietnamese noodle, pho, but it has a richer, deeper flavor, and undoubtedly more expensive. That is why I only eat it on cold, rainy days; the hot soup, spiced with the perfect amount of kick and punch, hits the spot, right here and right there. kkyah~! Until next time the weatherman calls for precipitation. Besides, I think I've had my month's quota of monosodium glutamate.

Monday, January 22, 2007

food magazine addicts anonymous

Hello. My name is Yunyoung and I am addicted to food magazines. I subscribe to 3 publications (Saveur, Bon Appetit, & Gourmet) and the rest I buy off the rack, monthly or bi-monthly; 4 are printed abroad (U.K. and Australia) so I pay an arm and leg for them. I started dabbling in it 2 years ago and have been a chronic user for a year. This particular problem started around the time I was brainstorming ways to expand my culinary knowledge. I had just finished a 20-week culinary arts program with L'Academie de Cuisine; fueling my ambitions of becoming a master in the kitchen. But thinking back, it may have begun when I saw The Naked Chef for the first time on television. The cute British boy having fun in his kitchen, cooking! I couldn't get enough of him, or his cookbooks (6 and counting.) My addiction has now extended to food/travel memoirs. I was introduced to this style of writing with Ruth Reichl's Tender at the Bone and Comfort me with Apples. I was instantly hooked. So it began: Anthony Bourdain, M.F.K. Fisher, Michael Ruhlman, Peter Mayle, Frances Mayes and the likes. Every time I'd step inside a used bookstore, I would head straight to the cookbook section and scan the shelves for something that would satisfy my appetite. When I find a plastic-wrapped Saveur waiting for me in my mailbox or eye a new issue of Delicious or Olive at Barnes and Noble, I smile slyly; keeping my happiness a secret. Maybe it's the glossy covers and pretty pictures in the magazines, the mouthwatering recipes in the cookbooks, or romanticizing about writing a memoir myself someday that makes me go back looking for more. I'd like to choose "D": all of the above, spurring from the passion I have for food and anything related. This is one addiction I won't give up.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

penne italia

Penne Italia w/ prosciutto and broccoli
Serves 2

2 handfuls of penne (about 2 cups)
olive oil
4 strips of prosciutto, cut into 1-inch strips width-wise
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup of dry white wine
1 cup broccoli, cut into small florets
1 tbsp butter
salt and pepper
parmigiano reggiano

Put a pot of water on the burner and bring to a boil. Add a generous amount of salt, couple of big pinches, to the boiling water. Toss in the penne.

Slightly crisp the prosciutto in olive oil on medium heat in a pan; remove and set aside. On low heat, adding more oil to the pan, toss in the garlic; lightly brown. De-glaze the pan by adding the wine (make sure to crank up the heat a bit.) Reduce wine to half the amount. (When pasta is almost al dente, toss in the broccoli for a quick blanch.) With a slotted spoon, transfer the pasta and broccoli to the pan and toss to coat. Add the prosciutto. Take the pasta off the heat and add the butter. Adding some pasta water will help keep the pasta smooth and creamy. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with grated parmigiano reggiano on top.

Friday, January 19, 2007

farrah olivia

Restaurant Series # 1 Farrah Olivia
Attendees: Natalie, Doug, Michael, and me

What is restaurant series? Just another way for me to experience the wonderful array of culinary hot spots this city has to offer. About once a month, a group of my friends and I will pick a restaurant and try them out. Then I'll come back here and talk about it. So without further ado, our first adventure...

I got a flavor of Chef Morou's concoctions a few months back during a Balducci's food demonstration. The tarragon soda and watermelon with wasabi sure did make an impression. And just from browsing through Farrah Olivia's website I knew at least the food would be pretty to look at.

When I decided to start this series, it was right after the restaurant week list was published. Good thing: Farrah Olivia was on the list. Bad thing: Would I be able to get reservations? We got a table for Wednesday evening.

The first thing I thought when I walked in: it's smaller than I'd imagined. The bar is tucked in a dark corner on the left before you get the to the hostesses' podium. The dining area, 25 tables at most, is separated from the rest of the area by a floor to ceiling wine shelf. Once we were seated at our table, I took a look around the restaurant and it felt like sitting in a large fish bowl. Not that I've sat in a fish bowl before. White lines climbing up the brown walls like seaweed, green circles hanging from the ceiling like algae, and large windows for passersby to look inside.

First came the rainbow of butters in a candleholder: tomato, pumpkin, tarragon scent, and bokchoy (tasted really green.) Then the amuse bouche, comment dit-on en anglais, to please the mouth. Somen noodles lightly tossed in aromatics with a raspberry sauce. I wanted to ask for more, but my silky cream of parmesan was on its way. It was like eating spoonfuls of cheesy goodness with a swirl of cinnamon scent skimming the top. The salmon was cut and rolled like a fillet mignon while the yucca couscous, shrimp essence, and a green (parsley?) oil decorated the plate.The boys particularly liked the cured quail which they completely devoured, leaving only a pile of bones. Desserts were absolutely devine. Chocolate, Tart, Spice, and Fruit Essence; simply delicious. As pretty as the dishes were, they tasted even better. Compliments to the Chef!

The food was awesome. The company was great. And my favorite part of the dining experience was when the server came around with a long thin apparatus, brushed away the bread crumbs that had cluttered the table. As we talked about the next restaurant to visit on this series, I looked around to see that we were the last table. One thing's for sure, I will definitely come back to close down the house.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


The librarian and I walked walked across F street and up 9th arriving at Jose Andres' Zaytinya. A sleek, modern Greek/Mediterranean mezze restaurant. We walked into the restaurant and asked the hostess for a table for two. It was 9 in the evening and the restaurant was packed. We didn't realize why until we opened the menu; Zaytinya was participating in the DC Restaurant Week. Originally, we were going to snack on a few plates but who could pass up a 5-course meal at one of Washington's premier restaurants?

After the waiter took our drink orders we toiled over the menu trying to decide what to get. I let the veteran epicurean lead the way. A basket of pita started off the dinner and as soon as the first dishes were brought to our table, it was an endless train of food one after the other. First came the tabbouleh, fattoush, and taramosalata: a cured cod roe dip, quite fishy. Then came the tzatziki, wait, I didn't order tzatziki. I wanted to try the htipiti, roasted red bell peppers with feta and thyme, but I guess the waiter thought I said tzatziki. Note to self, it's OK to point at the menu. No worries, I got my feta-fix with the steamed mussels smothered in savory tomato broth with feta cheese. Finally, the little space left on the table was no more. Out came the keftedes with roasted garlic yogurt sauce; which oddly reminded me of the beef/pork patties my grandmother used to make during the holidays in Korea; lagos krassatos me fakies, braised rabbit with lentils; and kolokithokeftedes, perfectly round zucchini-cheese patties with a caper yogurt sauce. It was so much food and we still had dessert to go. I would usually go for the chocolate, but went for the Greek yogurt & apricot parfait instead. And perfect it was. Muscat soaked apricots, a thick layer of sweet, rich, creamy Greek yogurt topped with a flower-shaped apricot foam and sprinkled with pistachio salt. Complemented with a sage & herb tea, I wished I wasn't so full that I couldn't finish the dessert. Is it just me or does sage taste like lamb?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

circles and squares

Did you know that Thomas Jefferson wrote the letter to Pierre L'Enfant informing him his services of designing the city were no longer needed? It's true. I read the letter; part of the Washington: Symbol and City exhibition at the National Building Museum. "Dear Sir," wrote TJ, "You're Fired!" No wonder Donald Trump couldn't get that trademarked.

Brian, a fellow foodie and aspiring librarian, and I were at the museum yesterday to listen to a lecture given by Michael Bednar, Architecture Professor at the University of Virginia, on his new book, L'Enfant's Legacy: Open Public Spaces in Washington D.C. A lecture much like the ones I sat and/or slept through during my short stint as an architecture student at the aforementioned university. If this lecture was given in the Campbell Hall auditorium, I probably would have had a nice $12 nap.

Not the most riveting lecture, but I did learn an interesting thing or two. I particularly enjoyed the photos of the late 19th and early 20th centuries from his slideshow. Imagining what it would be like to be a resident of Washington D.C. during those times. It made me want to live somewhere I wouldn't need a car and my pair of legs were the only mode of transportation I needed. Brian suggested Paris. Not a bad idea, I thought. Maybe...maybe.

But before I get to Paris, I will walk the streets of D.C. I have neglected this city far too long and it has taken me 15 years to realize what I have been missing. For that, I would like to thank the white-haired, monotoned lecturer for reminding me of the magnificence the capital of our country has to offer. (But I oh so hate riding the metro.)

Sunday, January 7, 2007

sunday dinner

Everyone has a go-to recipe, whether it's the meanest bowl of ramyun noodles or eggs benedict with the silkiest hollandaise sauce. Even my little brother has one, spam and rice. One of my classics is a spring salad with cranberries and walnuts with an orange vinaigrette. I vary the salad ingredients depending on what I have on hand, but the vinaigrette is my signature dressing. I really never measure my ingredients, so if my recipe doesn't work for you, feel free to add, take out, whatever suits your fancy. It should taste good to you.

I also made baked clams (?) along with my salad. I had some leftover from the seafood tagliatelle I made a few days ago so this is what I came up with: Clam Crisp. Probably not your traditional way of doing a clam bake, but it didn't turn out too bad. I'm not too sure what it's supposed to taste like but my roommate seemed to enjoy it. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

My "Go-To" Salad with Orange Vinaigrette
Serves 4 to 6

1/2lb salad mix (spring mix, leafy greens)
1/2 cup of dried cranberries
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts


3 tsp dijon spicy mustard
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp orange marmalade
3 tbsp orange juice (squeezed fresh)
2 tsp orange zest
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
orange slices for garnish

Give the salad greens a good wash, tumble dry in a spinner (If you don't have one, drain in colander or pat dry.) Set aside.

Now here comes the fun part. You will need a medium size mixing bowl and a whisk. (I guess you can "cheat" and use a food processor, but where's the fun in that?) Combine the mustard, vinegar, marmalade, orange juice, and zest in the bowl. For the next step, I either do it one of two ways: Sit on the floor, indian style, and secure the bowl with my legs (A bit funny-looking but it works.); or, using a kitchen towel, make a donut and place the bowl in the center. Begin whisking the mixture in the bowl as you slowly drizzle in the olive oil. You can use more or less depending on the viscosity you desire. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the greens in the bowl with the vinaigrette. Tosh gently with tongs or by hand. Plate the salad and sprinkle the cranberries and walnuts on top. Garnish with two orange slices and serve.

Clam Crisp
Serves 4 to 6

1-2 lbs of clam (About 30)
2 cups dry white wine
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, finely diced

Crumb Topping

3/4 stick of unsalted butter
4 garlic cloves. minced
1 cup bread crumbs
1 tbsp tarragon, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

First, give the clam shells a good scrub and rinse. Add the garlic, shallots, and wine to a pot and bring to a boil. Add the clams and bring back to a boil. Drain and set aside the clams once all of them open. )

Melt the butter in a small saucepan on medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the bread crumbs and stir the mixture with a spoon. The bread crumbs will soak up all the butter. Toast for another 2-3 minutes and stir in the tarragon. Don't forget to salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Using kitchen gloves (or disposable plastic gloves), separate the shells and loosen the clam meat. Line up the half-shells (with the clam) on a sheet pan. Use 2-3 tsps of the crumb topping for each clam. In a 350 degree oven, bake the clam for 10 minutes. Plate and Serve.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

food matters

I just finished my first shift at Food Matters (FM) as one of the back of the house (BOH) staff. Not quite sure what my title is, but something to the effect of a prep cook; I'd like to think. My tasks included, but were not limited to:

-dicing sun-dried tomatoes
-making chicken stock (A whole lot of it. And needless to say, I burned myself with the stock while taking out the chicken. Those grooves on a tongs' handle is the perfect aqueduct for scalding liquid to run its way down to your hand. I knew I should have insured my hands!)
-roasting winter vegetables
-draining the fat from the duck confits (Who doesn't like duck that has been cooked in it's own fat?!)

Once the doors opened at 5 pm, I became the cheese and meat station girl. "Firing one cheese platter!", "one cheese!"; "Firing one meat platter!", "one meat!"; "Firing one nut", "one nut!" (It just means a bowl of spiced pecans. People and your dirty minds.) The sous chef, Russ, would call an order and I would yell it back. It reminded me of the good ol' days when I used to work at Starbucks. Now I actually have to pay to drink coffee there.

So what is FM anyway, you ask? It's not your typical restaurant. It's a more homier, smaller version of your Wegman's or Dean & Deluca. Hot & cold foods, menu o'-the-day, a wine bar, gourmet merchandise, and a private dining room. Click on the link above and you can learn more about FM.

As for me, I'm looking forward to this opportunity. So, come on by, take a look around, eat good food and drink some great wine. If you're lucky, you might get a glimpse of me in the kitchen; I'll be the tiny Asian girl swimming in the over-sized chef's coat yelling ,"ONE NUT!"

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

happy birthday mom

Mom's birthday was today. She looks the same as she did when I was in elementary school, minus a few grey hairs, so it's hard to believe she's lived over half a century (sorry Mom!). It always takes me awhile to "calculate" how old my parents are these days. 19XX subtracted from 2007... But what was worse was when I turned 27 a couple of weeks ago and mom said to me, "you're getting old." "What? me? I'm not old," I said as I cried inside. Age is just a number, right? 30 is the new 20? So that would make me...17?

Anyway, back to the birthday. I cooked dinner for my parents last night; actually, this was the first time I really cooked for them. Let's just hope they don't get used to it. Only kidding. We started with steamed mussels: quite excellent if I do say so myself. Followed by asparagus wrapped in prosciutto: a bit salty even though I used just half a strip for each stalk. The main course was a seafood tagliatelle served in a tomato sauce: I must have been inspired by my New Year's Eve meal. We drank Bear's Lair Chardonnay from Trader Joe's, which I also used for steaming the mussels. The night ended with my solo of singing the Birthday Song and scarfing down the mocha cake (chorus et al.) with green tea. There I go again with the tea. Happy Birthday Mommy!

Mom's Birthday Dinner Menu

Asparagus wrapped with prosciutto
1 asparagus bunch
12 strips of prosciutto, cut in half, lengthwise

Trim the woody bottoms off the asparagus. Wrap prosciutto around asparagus and line them up on a baking sheet. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Roast in 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the stalk.

Steamed mussels in white wine
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, finely chopped
1-1/2 cup dry white wine
1 lb mussels, washed
few springs of tarragon

Add the garlic and shallots to a pot. Pour the white wine and add the mussels (only the closed ones). Add the tarragon. Bring to a gentle boil until the mussels open up (discard any that did not open). Serve with bread.

Seafood tagliatelle in tomato sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 jar tomato sauce
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp red pepper flakes
1 lb clams, washed
1 lb shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/2 fillet red snapper, cut into bite-size cubes
reserved starch water
1/2 lb Tagliatelle

Sweat the garlic and shallot in olive oil in a large saute pan on low heat until opaque. Add the tomato sauce, bay leaf, and red pepper flakes. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally.

In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and cook the tagliatelle to al dente.

Add the clams to the tomato sauce. Cook for about 5 minutes covered. Once the first two clams start to open up, add the shrimp, and then then the fish. Once the shrimp and fish are cooked, add the pasta to the sauce. Ladle a couple of spoons of the pasta water to loosen the sauce. Stir to mix. Place and serve.

This menu should yield 4 servings aplenty.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

chicagoan holiday

A true international weekend!

Friday: Agnes (one of my best friends from college) and her mother picked me up at O'Hare Friday morning. We headed into Chinatown for some lunch. Among the three of us, we had fried dough (who doesn't like anything fried), braised beef & broccoli, steamed fish & veggies, and stir fried noodle dishes. Typically Chinese, a little bit greasy and a little bit bland, but appetizing nonetheless. We had dinner that evening at a Brazilian barbecue joint in Evanston. Meat on a stick; who could resist. Dinner was then followed by chocolate fondue at Ethel's. I added a cup of Chamomile tea hoping for some sort of nutritious balance. It probably didn't do much but the tea bag was really cute. We headed over to Nevin's for a pint before turning in for the night.

Saturday: I met up with another college buddy, Justin, at Potbelly's for lunch. I ordered their PB&J sandwich and a banana/strawberry smoothie. It was the best lunch I've ever had. We chatted away to a local coffee shop called the Unicorn Cafe. A quaint little place that served coffee in beer jugs and smelled of Clorox. By the way, I'm not too keen on eateries smelling like a swimming pool.

I was in charge of dinner that evening and made a Korean noodle dish called japchae (recipe to follow on a later episode). And yes, we couldn't forget dessert. I had the Oreo Overload from Coldstone Creamery in the Love It size. For cookies 'n' cream fans, pass on the chocolate chips and double up on the oreos. DEE-LISH!

New Year's Eve: We made reservations at Chicago's "best" Italian restaurant, Orso's. A friend suggested I make a visit when I told him I was going to Chicago for the holidays. (Thanks Paul!) Located in the heart of Old Town, Orso's charm and ambiance warms you right up as soon as you walk in the door. The hostess lead us to our table next to the grand piano. We pondered over the wine list and picked a bottle of Sparkling Prosecco as the pianist started to serenade the patrons. Dinner followed with the accompaniment of a bottle of Chianti Classico, Aziano Ruffino. A well balanced, cherry flavored wine with a velvety smooth finish. Perfectly complementing the spicy tomato sauce that coated the seafood linguine I devoured for dinner. Perfectly steamed mussels, clams, and lobster sitting on a perfect al dente bed of pasta. Dinner was perfect! And of course, we couldn't forget dessert. We oo-ed and ahh-ed as we sampled exquisite homemade tiramisu, a little ball of heaven called tartufo, and a dessert that should be offered on every menu, Italian or not, mangia beve. This definitely will be a meal remembered. (Did I mention everything was perfect?)

Wishing everyone a year full of great food. Happy New Year!