Thursday, March 8, 2012

Christmas 20 1 1 : Seattle Day 3

After our pig out yesterday, we decided to take it a lil easy today on the food front and do more sightseeing. However, they say breakfast is the most important of the day so we had to oblige. Savory was on our minds, and we decided to have a waffle at Sweet Iron. Upon viewing the menu, it seemed we were in for a treat not quite what we had in mind. Sweet Iron was known for their liege waffles. We assumed it was fluffy Belgian waffles. Oops! Since we were already there, why not! We proceed to order a nutella waffle dusted with powdered sugar for me

and a bacon with pure maple syrup for the hubby.

The waffles are made with proofed balls of dough inserted into one quarter of a traditional waffle maker for a few minutes to make it all toasty and flavorful. While delicious, it was much too sweet as a (liege) waffle for me, and much too dense. At least it was filling, and we got to sample our first liege waffle!

Already starting the day on a full belly, we drove to White Center, WA to visit family friends of the hubby's from Shreveport, LA. They own a grocery store and several other small business operations, and it was great to see how well they were doing! We observed the relationship they had with their customer, and it made the hubby and I feel like jumping into the swing of things. It reminded us of our relationship with our customers back home. Jamie, the youngest son, hollered at one of their frequent woman shoppers (age: mid-40's?) that he loved her new haircut and that it was sexy! Yow! Talk about an awesome relationship, no? It cracked us up!

The father showed us around the complex he owns, discussed a few business things, and reminisced about the old days back in Shreveport with the hubby while we waited for their eldest son, Billy, to take us to lunch.

Once Billy arrived, we hoped into his car and took off to Tukwila for (in Billy's terms) some fly Thai food at Mali Thai. We gave Billy the honor of ordering since he knew the menu well and what were some of the most have's. Unfortunately, that was a bad idea because he ordered us a 7 course meal. For lunch. For 3 people. So much for taking it easy on the food front, eh?
We had Angel Wings, Crab Delight, Tom Yum soup, Papaya Salad, Thai Teas, and Pad See Iew just to name a few!

By the time the 3rd item arrived at our table, we were already full. Aicarumba!! Somehow, we managed to sample all 7 items, but packed a togo fit for a king (and all his village too)! Once we got back to the grocery store, I handed the hubby the togo bag of food so that I could crawl out of the back seat of Billy's CLK550 AMG.

Y'all, I'm not sure what happened, but the next thing i know, I fell flat on my face between the curb of the sidewalk and the car. My purse caught my hand on the curb, which in turn saved my face because my chin ended up grazing the pavement, but my left knee hit the curb pretty hard. Shaken up, I excused myself to the bathroom to assess the damage. Yup, busted the crap out of my left knee (thank goodness I keep bandaids in my purse), and scuffed up my chin and palms of both hands. Didn't break enough skin to bleed on the exterior but little pin needle points of blood could be seen. Lovely, just lovely! I was more embarrassed than anything really. Tripping is bad enough, but to face plant and bust yourself up from head to toe. In front of your hubby's childhood friends. OMG! I could die. I was still shaken so no pictures to document the damage.

We hung around the store for a bit longer before parting ways and headed off to another grocery store that our friends said we had to check out, Uwajimaya.

The Japanese grocery store was HUGE with tons to offer including sushi grade filets, fresh fish, and they even pack and ship anything you want to wherever you want! They also have tons of already made food for you to take with you or to eat in their food court, which in itself had a large variety of vendors. It was here we saw an Executive Chef purchase ramen noodle (read about it here)!

We didn't purchase anything, but browsing and taking in the magnitude of the store was eye opening enough. We I, however, did purchase a cream puff from Beard Papa's in the food court. Just can't pass up the delicious cream no matter how full I am!! YUM!!

Limping around (and in some pain), we decided to relax for the rest of the afternoon back at the hotel prior to dinner. Upon our return to our room, we realized the room wasn't made up yet. Um, I know we are checking out in the morning, but shouldn't we still get house keeping? Confused, we called house keeping and they said we had the "Do Not Disturb" placard hanging, therefore, they didn't clean. Just between you and I, we didn't hang the placard out. They said they'd come up and clean so the hubby and I went downstairs to wait in the lobby. We inquired of places to eat and places to check out the fireworks tonight in celebration of concluding 2011 and ringing in 2012. 15 minutes later, we returned to our room only discover, it still wasn't made up! What the crap?! Back downstairs we went. This time, I checked us in on our flights and printed our boarding pass, and made dinner reservations at Mashiko for 9pm!

Extremely late dinner time for us, we decided to grab a quick snack to tie us over till dinner time. On the menu, Pike Place Chowder. Round two! While we weren't particularly hungry (hello, 7-course lunch!), we mentioned we wanted to have the chowder one last time prior to our departure from Seattle. If not now, then we'd never get the chance.

When we returned to our room this time, it was clean and we were provided fresh towels. Yay! Exhausted,
a nap was much needed. Unfortunately, it was a bad idea because when the hubby woke me up to head out for our dinner reservation, my knee was stiff solid. I couldn't bend it nor walk on it without limping and wincing in pain. Oh man... What a way to end our vacation! Not even 2 days at Whistler did this much damage on me!

Determined not to let it bother me, I wobbled out and took off to dinner. Finding parking was slightly difficult and we ended up parking about half a mile down from the restaurant. With our 9pm reservation now chiming at 9:05pm, we walked up to the restaurant just as they were calling our names. Phew! Just in time. I mean, we were here the whole time! =D
Mashiko is known for serving sustainable food and utensils.

We were sat right behind the bar, which means if you're watching Mashiko's live cam on their website, you could see us! We texted our friend, Van, to get online as I waved feverishly at the camera. She saw us. Sweet! Since it was New Year's Eve, we decided on the Chef's Choice Course Menu.
First up was the chuka (seaweed) salad - sweet and tangy

Followed by poached oysters on a bed of cucumbers

Assorted sashimi and two rolls

Bento box with assorted tempura, noodles, fish with bok choy, and meatballs

And for dessert, ginger ice cream with red beans

Despite the small portions, the hubby and I noticed how stuffed we were! Guess the pacing of the meal allowed us to fully enjoy each course!

At the conclusion of dinner, we drove back to our hotel and walked over to a restuarant the hotel concierge mentioned was a killer spot to catch the fireworks off of the Space Needle. We needn't go in, just stand in front. After walking a few blocks and locating the restaurant, we realized the hotel concierge was totally wrong. All we saw were tall buildings with no space needle in sight! Frustrated, we took started walking in the direction of the space needle in hopes of catching an opening that enabled us a small view of the fireworks. Time was a ticking though!

We found ourselves at the steps of the Seattle Courthouse which provided a killer open view of the space needle. Another bonus, very few people were at this location so it was quiet and romantic! As we situated ourselves on one of the stomps in front of the courthouse, the countdown to ringing 2012 began. 10...9...8...7...6...5...4...3...2...1... HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

The hubby and I welcomed 2012 with a quick kiss and an adoring exchange of I Love You. We enjoyed the firework show till the grand finale before heading back, and officially closing the book on our 2011 Annual Christmas Vacation. Surprisingly, the walk back was calm with very few drunkards hooting and hollering disturbing the peace. Guess we really lucked out in finding our odd, but quaint firework spot!

2011 was a rough year for us (in regards to work), but we are totally looking forward to 2012. It's promising new adventures and some major changes in our life!



*It wasn't until the end of February 2012 that the bruise on my knee finally started disappearing. Slowly, but surely. Sigh...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Christmas 20 1 1 : Seattle Day 2

Today was an eating bonanza day for us so please grab some towels to wipe up potential drool marks that may occur while reading this post. Just warning you!

*~*~*~*~*~*

In good ole vacation tradition, we got up bright and early to start our adventures. First order of business - breakfast! Our good friend, Van, told us about a lil pastry joint in Queen Anne that was to die for (Nielsen's Pastry), and inhaling sampling their "potato" was a must. She also mentioned these delectables sell out quite early, so our early start on the day was perfect!

A brief 5 minute drive later, we found the shop. We carefully approached it as there wasn't a line out of the shop as we had anticipated. There wasn't even another person in sight! We double checked the address and the name of the shop just to make sure we were at the right place. Yup and yup. Hm! Nonchalantly, we entered the pastry shop and perused their display case of danishes and pastries (wish I had taken a picture of all their deliciousness). Unfortunately, their cooler display case was out of commission so all pastries requiring refrigeration remained hidden in the back. Since we couldn't locate the "potato", we told the employee behind the register we wanted 2 of them with a cup of latte. He gave us a concerned look and slowly announced that it was much too early for potatoes. We questioned the time they would be ready, and he responded with "10am". Current time - 8am. Well, damn!

We told him we came to the shop due to raving reviews from our friends and that sampling the potato was a must! Upon hearing this, the gentleman told us to hang tight while he talked to someone in the back. He returned seconds later and said they would make them for us! Yay!!
Potato (A custard and whipped cream filled pastry puff covered with a layer of marzipan, and dipped in dutch cocoa powder)

I'm a HUGE fan of whipped cream and theirs did not disappoint! However, I did occasionally choke on the cocoa powder due to inhaling while consuming. Oops! While enjoying our potato, numerous customers came through and ordered eclairs. One gentleman even ordered a dozen to go! Intrigued, I told the hubby to go order us one also. Yes, we were already stuffed from our potatoes, but I wanted to sample this raving eclair that everyone was ordering!
Once again the cream was divine, but after a rich breakfast already, it proved to be a bit too much for us!

With breakfast and sweet tooth satisified, we took off to Trader Joe's to walk off some of those calories! Being a fan of Whole Foods and heard raving reviews of Trader Joe's, I made the hubby take us there just so that I can say I've been to one. Childish? Yes, but totally awesome! We perused the aisles and I was excited of all the bread and snack varieties they had! We could totally use one in Dallas*. After purchasing a few coffee tins for our friend, Van and a couple snack items for us, we made our way to the biggest REI store ever.

With nothing in mind to purchase since the activity part of our vacation already over, we decided to pit stop to add the location to our "been there, done that" bucket list. Plus, we have a thing for perusing outdoor gear and clothing places. We checked out the place and left there within an hour (to ensure we got free parking!).

Next stop - back to Pike's Market to throw down some seafood! Since we were still a lil full from breakfast, we did some sightseeing first.
The famous bubble gum wall - ew! We didn't contribute if you're wondering...

Obligatory picture with Rachel the Pig (Pike Market's unofficial mascot) while touching her nose with our Dallas
 hats gifted to us by our customer friends, Dale and Shirley.

Daily Dozen Doughnut Company. The line at this place was ridiculous! Made fresh right then and there, it's no wonder
there's always a line! However, the hubby and I think their batter might be made partly from funnel cake batter due to its
consistency. Regardless, this little joint was hopping and making some dough! HAHA! Get it? Okay, moving on...

These dried flowers were gorgeously made and for so cheap! $10 for a LARGE bouquet and only $15 for an XL bouquet?? Get out of here!!

It's the original Starbucks!

Jumbo sized everything at the market. Oh man... to have this in Dallas!

All the perusing got our appetites churning which means it's time to kick off the eating fest! First stop, Beecher's Handmade Cheese. Here, we observed them churning and making cheese while also sampling a variety of other cheeses. On the menu, World's Best/Oprah Winfrey's most favorite mac-n-cheese. I'm generally not a fan of mac-n-cheese, but I'm willing to try if it's the World's Best!
Extremely creamy. Delicious, but got overwhelming after a couple bites.

Next, we stopped at Emmet Watson's Oyster Bar for some shrimp n chips.
Battered and golden fried to deliciousness. Their tartare sauce was the bomb yo! Totally
thought about taking some home with us, but hubby said, "No." Sad face.

Then it was time for jumbo shrimp cocktails at City Fish Company.
These were by far the largest and most delicious shrimp cocktails I have ever had. I almost
wanted seconds, but with a big menu still ahead, I refrained.

Stuffed to the gills, we walked around the market some more to explore the boutiques distributed throughout the massive market and towards the waterfront. We thought about catching a boat tour of the harbor prior to our happy hour rendevous at 3pm, but decided against it. Why? It was awfully windy, and when we saw an earlier boat depart the port, all the decks were crammed with people like sardines in a can. No, thank you! We decided to poke our heads into some souvenir shops on the waterfront to see if we found anything for our friends and family back home, and stop by Starbucks for a quick drink. We even stopped by a little candy store where I purchased a few gummies. Gummies by the cold waterfront = hard gummies. No bueno!
Elliott the Otter outside of the candy shop

Self timer portrait near the Seattle Aquarium

3pm rolled around and we decided to hit up our first happy hour joint, Elliott's Oyster House, for $0.75 chef's choice oysters and half price appetizers. Yup, you read that right 75 CENTS an oyster starting at 3pm!! They go up $0.50 each hour until 6pm. Apparently, we were late to the party because there was already a line out the door. Well, crap! We decided against putting our names on a waiting list for a tabletop and hovered at the bar area for an open seat. A little less than an hour later, we snagged a pair of seats! Sweet! We made it for $0.75 oysters still! Let's grub!
2 dozen oysters (because that was the limit you could order. ha!) with champagne dipping sauce, fried
 calamari, and tequila lime mussels

The oysters were a little small, but was delicious none the less. As for the champagne sauce, it was a little different at first, but I really liked it! Satisified, we went on to our next happy hour joint, Ivar's Acres of Clams.

While this was pretty much our dinner time now, we decided to pick off the happy hour menu instead to get more variety for more bang for our buck. It was a great decision by the way! While we'd love to try their full menu, after munching/eating all day, we decided not to.
Oyster shooters - these were the best oysters yet!

Ahi Tuna Duo with taro chips

Dungeness crab cake sandwich - sadly, the sandwich was too overwhelming for the crab cakes

Fish and chips - delightful batter and the fries were delish!

Ivar's also boasted a famous clam chowder, but the hubby and I were so in love with Pike Place's Chowder, that we were afraid to disturb the blissful taste we have captured and locked away in our mind. Therefore, we decided against ordering their clam chowder. Overall, the food at Ivar's was amazing! We would love to come back and try their full on menu (and maybe their chowder too). We also heard their brunch is to die for, but it's only hosted on Sunday. Bummer!

At this point, we were well beyond unbuttoning the top button of our jeans and looking about 5 months pregnant. However, it was well worth it. All 10lbs of seafood on our waistline and all. Fortunately, the walk back to the hotel was somewhat lengthy and hilly. Time to jiggle the food down and get ready for our last day in Seattle tomorrow, which also happens to be New Year's Eve!


*On Dec 29, 2011 on NBC DFW, it was announced that Dallas is receiving 3(!) TJ, one of which is a block from my house!! WOOHOO!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Random Mondays

Today's Random Monday Emoticon:

Item in question:
The hubby and I recently attended the Dallas Bridal Show with our friends, future bride and groom, Vandrew. Mission - find Vandrew a photographer and eat as much cake as possible. The hubby and I glanced at eye candy various vendors brought to display while Andrew... Well, home boy was on a mission to find a photographer y'all!! He stopped at every booth and discussed pricing, likes and dislikes, etc. Talk about an involved groom, eh?

After snaking in and out of aisles for 2.5 hours, we called it a day and Vandrew made an appointment with one of the vendors to further discuss options. And if you think I was kidding about an involved groom, check out who came out with more loot from the show!
Anybody else see what's wrong with this picture?!
Van - nada, Andrew - two extremely loaded/expanded bags!!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Christmas 20 1 1 : Seattle Day 1

We woke up early and headed downstairs to Sweet Carrie's to pick up some additional treats for our ride to Seattle. We bought a pecan tart, minced pie, strawberry rhubarb tart, buttermilk tart, white chocolate chip macademia cookie, chocolate chip cookie, and a peanut butter cookie. Which half was consumed within 10 minutes into our drive to Seattle. Don't judge. And it's totally acceptable to eat dessert for breakfast while on vacation.

Thinking our drive would take us no more than 3 hours, we started debating on where would lunch once we got to Seattle. That was until we started approaching the border check and signs politely notified us that lunch was not feasible. Current wait time? 90 minutes. Wah wah wahhh.

Well folks, it took more than 90 minutes to go through border check, and we still had a 2 hour drive to Seattle. Current time, high noon. Good thing about coming back to the U.S., we can text and use our phones 3G for maps and locating addresses!! WOOHOO!! Who knew something so simple could make us so happy. Ha!

At 2pm, we were finally starting to see bits and pieces of Seattle as signage for Bellevue began to appear. I was getting pretty darn cranky at this point due to tiredness and fear of starvation. Y'all, I was getting HUNGRY. I ate half of my protein bar when we were in line at the border, but the hubby said it stank so me being the courteous wife, wrapped up my bar and put it away.

We decided to check into our hotel real quick and throw down some Pike Place Chowder. It was a little bit of a challenge to find since it was tucked away in Post Alley, but once we ordered and found a place to sit (at the bar), we couldn't wait to reward our taste buds and belly with world famous chowder.
I ordered a cup of New England Chowder and the hubby ordered Combo #1 (your choice of cup of chowder (New England) and half a sandwich (dungeness crab)

Oh. My. Goodness. Y'all, THIS. is clam chowder. It was soooooooooo good. It was a little thick/creamy for me, but I couldn't stop shoveling spoonfuls of chowder into my mouth. It was just too good*. We didn't care much for the sandwich or sourdough bread, but totally could have gone for seconds (and maybe thirds) of the chowder. With our taste buds and belly completely content, we casually walked through the market to walk off the heavy dosage of cream. We observed a few things and kept mental notes of what we wanted to come back to see more of.

Exhausted, we made the short 4 block walk back to our hotel (wasn't a fan of our hotel, but the location can't be beat) to get some relaxation in prior to dinner at The Crab Pot. Sounds familiar? It's because it was one of Adam's Man vs Food places to eat!

We decided to walk to dinner to help build up our appetites (we walked EVERYWHERE actually, and loved it!). Although I could have done without the killer 75 steps steep stairway to the ocean front. More room/justification for the food, right? Yea!

After a 30 minute wait at the restaurant, our names were called and we were seated with menus promptly placed in front of us. However, we knew exactly what we wanted - The SeaFeast.
Mallet - check
Bib - check
BRING ON THE SEAFOOD!

After a brief 10 minute wait, seafood was poured in between us onto the butcher paper, and surprisingly, we managed to compose ourselves for a quick photo op WITH the food...
...before devouring it all...
...20 minutes later.

I'll let you decide if the food was good or not. Bellies full meant it was to time to trek back up those steep 75 steps and a few blocks walk to our hotel on 5th. We can't wait to see what Pike's Market has to offer us (to eat) tomorrow! Can you tell Seattle is going to be ALL about the food?



*The hubby later told me when he was finished eating his chowder, he was extremely tempted to take a few spoonfuls out of my cup. Normally, I'm all for him finishing my meal, but I told him good thing he didn't this time because a fight might have occurred... Just saying.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Christmas 20 1 1 : Vancouver Day 2

Happy Leap Day! I know March is right around the corner (as in maƱana), and I'm still (slowly) recapping our Christmas 2011 vaca. Slow and steady wins the race right? Right!

*~*~*~*~*~*

All the walking the previous night had our tummy's growling for food. As with tradition on this trip, we jumped on Yelp to guide to us a delicious breakfast joint. Lo and behold, the two most recommended places in North Vancouver were right under our noses. To the market down under our hotel we went!

First up, Sweet Carrie's Dessert Shop. Everybody was raving about their pavlova so we promptly put in our request for one. Since we were there so darn early, we had the opportunity to observe them make one for us.
This thing was amazing. So fresh and delicate. Too sugary for my kind of breakfast, but something I would totally order again.

We took the pavlova to the bay side to enjoy while overseeing the water.

While the pavlova was drool worthy, we were craving something more filling and comforting for breakfast. We walked back into Lonsdale Quay's Market and ordered one of the most delicious ham sandwiches from All Day Cafe.  Check out this buffet of fresh fruit at the market though! Drool!

A little more satisfied, we went back upstairs to our room to have a couple more oranges and plug in our coordinates for today's outing. First up, Stanley Park!

Stanley Park was absolutely gorgeous with numerous entrances and running/hiking trails. You could spend all day here and never walk the same trail (starting to think this is a re-occurring theme in our trip since Whistler was like this)!! The scenery was also breathtaking despite the winter chill!

After driving around for a good hour (every time you park somewhere, you have to pay!), we drove to Chinatown to have lunch at Phnom Penh. You know this is the place to check out if Anthony Bourdain made a personal visit. We got there right as they were opening up at 11:30am. Thank goodness we did because not even 10 minutes later, this quaint lil place was packed to the gills with people and a line out the door was forming!! We ordered the Phnom Penh noodle soup, a rice flour pancake with eggs and green onions, and a half order of their famous chicken wings. Y'all even a half order of chicken wings was a ridiculous amount! We don't even want to know what a full order might look like... And because we're ravenous people, I totally forgot to take pictures of our meal. So just use your imagination mkay? Cool!

As usual standard of vacation time, we ate way too much so it was time to burn off those calories by visiting Robson Street. Robson Street is famous for shopping and home of the JapaDog. While I'm not a huge fan of shopping, we decided to partake to add the adventure to our "been there, done that" bucket list. I picked up a shirt at FCUK and the hubby picked up a track jacket for cheap.

Once we reached the end of the mile of shopping, we hopped into JapaDog to try out the interesting hot dogs! The place was tiny and overflowing with people.
Sorry for the blurry iPhone pic 

I ordered the Terimayo (right) and the hubby ordered the meatlovers (left). He also ordered butter and shoyu shaked fries and boy were they buttery!! I wasn't a fan of them, but the hubby wolfed them down. I'm guessing that means he enjoyed them.

Right next to JapaDog was Beard Papa's!! Beard Papa's has THE best cream puffs ever. Their strawberry one is to die for. I'm salivating just thinking about it. Unfortunately, today's flavor at this location was Mango and the everyday flavor, Vanilla. Undecided, I ordered one of each to take back with us to consume at the hotel.

After pigging out and putting in quite a few miles on our shoes, a quick nap was needed. After a brief nap, we headed out to Van Dusen Botanical Garden. Most of the trees and flowers were dead, but we still had a great time walking around the park. We spent 2 hours at the park if that tells you anything. Plus, this garden was GINORMOUS! Paved pathways led to unpaved walkways which led to open fields and various slopes. We got "lost" so many times! It was kind of fun actually. Enter re-occurring theme of endless pathways yada yada yada.
 
It rained on and off during our visit, and I was being totally goofy here. Hubby's idea - promise!

 I REALLY wanted to do the maze, but it was closed. Sad face.

The hubby decided we would visit the water park to cheer me up. Well, the water park didn't have any water in it and three lonely rocks left little to the imagination. Sad face again. The park was still decked out in Christmas gear and we are total 2 year olds at heart so we concluded the gardens with a silly picture.

The garden was super informative with various explanation plaques and I can totally see this place being a great picnic location. Even in the middle of dreary winter, the garden boasted a romantic aura. I can only imagine what it looks and feels like when everything has blossomed in the Spring!!

While we spent two hours at the garden, it sure didn't feel like it. We could have easily spent more time there. It's definitely a place you get a membership at so you can fully basque in the beauty and fully enjoy what all it has to offer.

For dinner, we Yelped it up prior to leaving our hotel after our nap and found a sushi joint everyone was raving about - Sushi Town. The place is connected to McDonald's, which was interesting.

Sushi Town serves complimentary barley tea upon seating. Yum! We ordered a sashimi platter, ebi and tamago sushi, and 2 rolls (spider and shrimp tempura).
 
 

Something NONE of the Yelp reviewers mentioned was the size of the sushi and rolls. Y'all, they were the size of my palm. No exaggeration. Check out the Canadian coin in the above photo as a point of reference.  Still don't believe me? Here's additional evidence.
That my friend, is my hubby's hand. Next to the ebi sushi. The tamago was even larger than
the ebi!! And my hubby definitely has man hands so go check out your significant other's
 hand to get a personal evaluation of this sushi!

And here's proof that the rolls were the size of my palm. I told you I wasn't exaggerating!!
I TOLD YOU SO!

Unaware of the size of the rolls (the hubby and I estimated a 1/4 cup of rice per piece), we were struggling to finish our dinner. Once the challenge was completed, we paid the ridiculously cheap bill (sushi was $1/piece and the ginormous rolls were $5.95 each!) and attempted to walk it off. Beyond stuffed, we went back to the hotel to pack up and reminisce about today's adventures. We were also starting to drool about our Seattle adventure which promised the freshest and largest seafood of our lives!

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