Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Argentina's Goodies

While we were visiting Southern California, we were invited to have dinner at a relative's house. 
Grilled beef was one of the dishes being served.  We were told to dip the steak in this Chimichurri suace and it was really tasty.   My husband's nephew just came back from a business trip from Argentina.  He said beef were commonly served there and they dipped almost everything in this sauce.  The sauce mix contains basil, oregano and other several spices and it tasted like an Italian dipping sauce for bread.  He was nice enough to give me a packet of the sauce mix but it was all in Spanish.  I got the instructions on how to prepare it translated:

Pour packet in a small bowl.
Add water enough to make a paste consistency.
Pour some white vinegar or red wine vinegar.
Add olive oil and salt.  Mix well.

Serve with steaks, or bread even on salad.

The other goodies he gave us to take home were these delicious chocolates.  I had never have chocolates from Argentina before and these tasted so creamy and not as sweet as the regular chocolates in the U.S. 

I am not sure I can find these locally, but it was sure nice to have a chance to try food from other countries.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Southern California - Baccali Cafe Restaurant 百家利

When we were down in Southern California, we passed by this beautiful beach at Santa Monica on the way to dinner:

Unfortunately, we couldn't find a parking space and we decided not to waste time and continue driving to this Baccali Cafe and Rotisserie, recommended by a friend.  The restaurant was located on Valley Blvd. in Alhambra, a suburban Chinatown.  The street stretched down to San Gabriel, which is filled with hundreds of Chinese restaurants.
Baccali Cafe & Rotisserie
245 W. Valley Blvd.
Alhambra, CA
(626) 293-3300

There was so much to order from their menu.  We ordered the triple crown steaks as it seems the place is famous for their steaks. The triple crown - was beef, rotisserie chicken, and pork chop in mushroom sauce with pasta and veggies for $13.95.  I ordered the curry rice for $1.50 extra and it was just delicious.

Baccali triple crown

We tried to order different meals. The meals came with free refills of Hong Kong style milk tea, which is basically like English tea but with condensed milk.

Beef stew and vegetable with pasta

Baked Portuguese chicken rice

Baked pork chop with rice

Beef with pasta
We liked the beef the best.  The place is supposed to be famous for their rotisserie chicken, but we always have that at home,and it was really good too.  We did not like the pork steaks as they were a bit dry and the tomato sauce over the spaghetti was too sweet for our taste.   However, overall, we liked the restaurant for their variety, and the dishes were generally good.

Monday, June 28, 2010

San Diego - Little Italy

We went to the Little Italy district after our delicious lunch at Friend's Korean House.   I wanted to get the cookies from Filippi again.   The scene in the day time at Little Italy is very different than the night time when we visited last time. 

This is the Filippi's grocery restaurant where I bought my Italian cookies from:

These were the cookies I got from the deli area, $15 for a whole box.  I was told these were just shipped last night from a New York Bakery.  They were shipped almost everyday from New York to the bakery.  These cookies were $8.50 per pound and compared to the pastries sold at the nearby bakery for $13.99 per pound, these Italian pastries to me are wonderful at a cheaper price.

As we were walking back to our car, we passed by this little shop and I was drawn to the designs of the jewelries that were displayed.  The sales lady was really friendly and told me everything from the store was from Italy.  There was a big murano pendant that was made with platinum, originally priced at $179 and was on sale for $79.  It's unfortunate that I couldn't take any pictures as there was a sign that saidify no picture taking is allowed.  But they are truly remarkable designs and not really expensive for the quality of the design.  The store has a website where you can browse but it's sad that there's not much to browse on the site.  The website doesn't show any of the beautiful jewelry in the store.  I guess it's my point of interest to see the next time I visit there again and maybe get a couple of the quality pieces there for a better price compared to the ones found in the Bay Area.

Antica Rome Bazaar
1501 India St. Suite 106
Little Italy, San Diego 92101

We also passed by the Italian restaurant we visited for dinner last time.  it looked so different during the day time.
Buon Apetito

This yellow house really caught everyone's eyes and it looks like it is a private home.

As the sun almost set down in the late afternoon, we were ready to drive back to Los Angeles and join our relatives for dinner before heading back to our home sweet home.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

San Diego Friend's House Korean Restaurant

We were visiting San Diego again last weekend.  The nice thing about blogging is I am able to find all the information on my blog about where we have been before.  I was able to get the address and went to the same Friend's Korean House again for lunch.  It's named Friend's House Korean Restaurant according to the business card I received from the owner.   This time I was prepared to take more pictures.  Here's the outside of the restaurant:

Friend's House Korean Restaurant
4647 Convoy St. #102
San Diego, CA 94211
(858) 292-0499

I like how this little restaurant was decorated with Korean home's rustic ambiance:

We were seated at the same table and the waitress was very friendly.  We ordered the same seafood noodle and bipbimbap again.
Bibimbap $5.99

They also served these delicious little kimchee dishes on the side. Of course, we got a second refill on these side dishes.

This is the seafood noodle soup I was bragging about.
Seafood Noodle Soup $6.99

This is also one of our favorite Korean dishes to order, rice cooked in a stone pot.

Dol-Sot Bipbim Bap $7.99
The food was in considerably big portions for the three of us but was so good.  I think we liked the stone pot and noodle soup better since they were served hot in the bowls.  The only thing we would had wanted was to have some hot tea to go with the meal.  For some reason, a lot of Korean restaurants we go to do not serve tea.  I am wondering why as I know Koreans are also tea drinkers.  Many of them like to drink rice tea.  That's something that puzzles me and would like to find out somedays.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Vietnamese Fried Egg Rolls

My friend came over at 8:30 bright and early one morning to teach me how to make these Vietnamese egg rolls.  She guided me through with all the tips she could think of.  I am glad that she told me to prepare some of the ingredients the night before. Hence, we were able to finish frying the egg rolls by 11 o'clock and were able to enjoy the food before the kids got out of school.   I also made this quick pickled mustard soup to go with the egg rolls.  They were so delicious that the family almost finished all the egg rolls at dinner time. The way she taught me how to eat the egg rolls were better than just eating the egg roll alone.

Makes 75 Egg Rolls


3 pkg. O'tacy brand egg roll wraps (2pkg. for 1lb. ground pork)
2 lb. ground pork
6 Carrots, peeled and shredded
1 small hicama, peeled and shredded
1 sweet onion, peeled and shredded
1/4 cup vermicelli, cut to short pieces (no need to soak it)
1 cup shrimp,  peeled and julian
3 gloves of garlic, paste
Pepper to taste
Canola oil (or safflower oil)

  1. Squeeze and drain excess liquid of chopped ingredients.
  2. Add shrimp and garlic into food processor and make a shrimp paste.
  3. Mix all chopped ingredients together in a big bowl, add pepper, do not add salt.
4.  Peel and place a piece of egg roll wrap on a plate in a diamond shape, add 1 tablespoon of mixed ingredient,  and try lengthen the meat so it is not too thick to cook through. 
5.  Fold and pinch the filling tight with the wrapper into a long tube shape.

6. Fold in both ends and make sure they are straight like an envelope, so the egg roll will be even.
7. Roll and seal the end with water. Do not roll it too tight as it may burst while frying.

8. Turn heat to medium low, heat up enough oil to fry egg rolls.  Fry at medium low heat until golden brown, turn occassional to make sure they are cooked evenly.  Be patient not to rush through it.  When the egg rolls are done, allow them to cool off vertically in a coriander with a bowl under to collect the dripping oil.  This is the best way to ensure all sides are crunchy when they are cool off.

To serve these egg rolls, you can make some vermicelli to go with them:

Boil 4 cups of water and add vermicelli, then stir and separate the vermicelli. Bring to another boil and stir. Turn off heat and let it sit in the pot for 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Fluff with chopstick from time to time to make sure it cool offs and does not stick together.

When ready to serve, cut up an egg roll in 1/3, wrap it inside a lettuce with some vermicelli. Dip into the fish vinegar sauce. For fish vinegar sauce recipe, please refer to my previous post on Vietnamese Food.

Another way to serve it is to lay some bean sprouts over vermicelli and lettuce; and dip into the fish vinegar sauce to eat. 

Tips to remember:

No salt is needed to add in the ingredients.  Squeeze and drain the excess vegetables juice which would make the egg roll soggy.  Olive oil is not a good choice for frying.  Use lower temperature to frying.  Drain in coriander vertically to keep it crunchy. These can be refrigerated and reheated in a toaster oven.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Japanese Cold Noodles

As the weather turning warmer these days.  It was too warm to cook at home.  I decided to go to grocery store to get some ingredients to make some cold noodles.  I invited my friend to tag along to the store.  She learned this from her Japanese mother-in-law and was very nice to make this for lunch at her house.  It's really a refreshing and simple meal to prepare.  I am happy to know my family really like the Japanese style cold noodles, that certainly help make my time in the kitchen a lot more pleasant during those very warm days.

1 pkg. buckwheat Noodles
1 sheet roasted Seaweed, shredded
1/2 cucumber, shredded
1/2 stalk carrot, shredded
4 oz. ham or Japanese fish cake, sliced
Some soba noodle Soup base
Shichimi togarashi(Japanese red pepper mix, optional)

  1. Cook noodles in boiling water for about 6 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. Serve all other prepared ingredients on small dishes.
  3. To serve, fill soba soup base in a small sauce dish.
  4. Sprinkle some red pepper mix.
  5. Dip noodle in soba sauce and eat with other prepared food.

I did not have the Japanese fish cake at home and it's omitted in the picture here.  I found out the proper way to eat the noodle is not pouring the soup base over the noodle but dipping the noodle in the soba soup base sauce as you eat.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

To Die For Blueberries Muffin

It is blueberries season and I bought some from Costco last week.  I asked my daughter to make some muffins to consume some of  the blueberries.  She made these delicious blueberries muffins yesterday.  They are really moist and literally to die for when they're fresh out of the oven.  She used this recipe to make some muffins when we celebrated the Lunar New Year.  This recipe was adapted from and definitely will be saved for future use.  

To Die For Blueberry Muffins

Makes 12 regular-sized muffins


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh blueberries

Streusel topping:*

1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners.

2. In a big bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder. 

3. Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup.

4.  Mix this with the flour mixture and fold in blueberries.  Fill muffin cups right to the top, and sprinkle with streusel crumb topping mixture.

3.To Make streusel crumb topping: Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon.  Mix with fork, and sprinkle over muffins before baking. *

4.Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.


*She used regular-sized muffin tin and cut the streusel topping in half to cover one batch of muffins.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Beauty In the Designs is one of my favorite places to visit online.  I first discovered it from Rachel Ray's morning show.  I was very impressed with one of the seller's gorgeous clothing designs.  Best of all, she will custom and tailor a garment to your body for a fraction of the price you'd pay at a department store.  Here are a few gorgeous garments I like from Erin Alexandra Klym's shop:

Indecisive Top with Crane  $69

Cat's Cradle Dress $130

Metamorphic Tunic $69

Disequilibrium Tunic $68

Chiffon Ruffle Dress $130

French Terry Jacket $129

Head in the Clouds Dress $170
There're more beautiful designed clothes in this talented lady's shop.  Enjoy the visit there.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Hats have become a part of my wardrobe whenever I travel.  I purchased this hat a few years ago for its elegant style and later found out it was also great to use to shield myself from the sun during the summer because of its wide brim.  I aslo like the fact that the size fits me nicely on my head.

'Provence 12' Straw Hat by Helen Kaminski

I started to wear hats whenever I went out for walks in the morning and used SPF protection on my face.   I have a few hats at home now that I used for different seasons. When I choose hats I prefer to buy the bucket or fedora as they are more suitable for my size. The hats I traveled with have to be able to fold and fit in my handbag but still maintain its shape when I take it out. I recently bought this hat to travel down to Southern California for sightseeing.

Juicy Couture Woven Hat

I have a woven bucket hat similar to this, which I use for morning walks:

I really love the vintage inspired cloche.  I used to own a pink cloche like this but with a big flower handstitched on the side, but I found the style didn't look nice on me and I had to give it away.

August Hat 'Luxe' Linen Cloche
I don't really like to put on hats because it flattens my hair after wearing them.  I wear them to shield myself from the sun more than I use it for fashion.  But, it is still nice to be able to incorporate hats as part of my wardrobe when I travel.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Guest Toiletries Display

A while ago, I had learned to make some soaps at home and didn't know what to do with them.  They have been sitting in a basket for a long time.  I had an epiphany that I should display them in a glass container as I was strolling inside a home department store.

While I was looking for the glass container,  I also found this towel rack, which is supposed to be used for placing hand towels in the bathroom.  I decided to see if it worked to display some travel toiletries in the guest bathroom.  I was so excited to see when it turned out so well.  My kids said it feels like now we are living in a hotel.  I am really happy to see the ideas work.  It gives a great feeling to step into the guest bathroom now!