Recently, I got my hands on a Japanese home cooking cookbook by Harumi Kurihara (The Martha Stewart of Japan).
A few nights ago I made “Tsukune with Teriyaki Sauce”, which is basically like little ground meat patties with onion, celery, and basil. I got to make teriyaki sauce from scratch. I also made potato and onion miso soup, also from scratch, and some simple steamed rice on the side. I followed the recipe as closely as I could but mine came out on the salty side …I was having a little too much fun during the seasoning step. Other than that everything was super tasty. Here’s how it looked….
A few nights ago we went to a Thai restaurant called Sanamluang Cafe in North Hollywood. I love this place. I used to go there quite a bit but it’s been a good 4 years since my last visit. (Before moving back to the Valley we had been living/dog sitting two Rhodesian Ridgebacks in Laurel Canyon and then moved over to Beverly Hills Adjacent…that always sounds so douchey to me. Technically we were living off La Cienega and Robertson but it’s easier to say the former. )
This trip was extra fun because it was Seth’s first time and I got to be his guide to the wonderousness of Pork Floss and Jellyfish. YUP! Pork floss and jellyfish. I’ll get to that in a moment.
It’s located on Sherman Way close to Coldwater Canyon in a shopping center that makes you feel as though you were in the middle of Thai town. To the left of the restaurant, in a small courtyard like area, there’s an insanely pretty shrine.
There are also some neat sun faded signs outside of a market next door.
Quick heads up, the lighting in my pictures is a bit interesting due to the plethora of neon lights decorating Sananluang. Actually, all of the decor is very interesting and downright funny sometimes. In addition to neon and stainless steel everywhere it has lots of random artwork on the walls….and they seems to have a thing for horses.
We sat on the patio. A good thing to be aware of is that this place is Cash Only and they don’t have a liquor license. While that’s a bit of a “womp-womp” it has surprisingly amazing hours 9am-3am and the prices are great. If you’re in the mood for a drink (either before or after) there’s a great Tiki bar (Tonga Hut) nearby that I would always stop at anytime I would go to Sanamluang. Now that place has AMAZING decor, velvet paintings and everything. Fun!
I’m a big texture person and that is a big factor as to my favorite dishes I always order. The first is Hawaiin Fried Rice with “pork floss”.
What the hell is pork floss? …is exactly what I asked myself the first time I saw it. I was so intrigued by it that instead of asking the waiter what it was I just blindly ordered it. It’s awesome. It looks almost like dry fiborous insulation you’d find in a wall. Here’s Wikipedia’s description…
Bah-sang, also called meat wool, meat floss, pork floss, flossy pork, pork sung, or yuk sung, is a dried meat product with a light and fluffy texture similar to coarse cotton, originating from China. Rousong is used as a topping for many foods, such as congee, tofu, and savory soy milk. It is also used as filling for various buns and pastries, and as a snack food on its own. Rousong is a very popular food item in Chinese cuisine and Taiwanese cuisine.
Next up…JELLY FISH! 😀
They only have two dishes in their expansive menu that offers jelly fish as an ingredient. One is in a seafood salad and the other, which we got, is Yen-Ta-Fo, a seafood soup. While the soup is pretty good it’s just not my favorite. It IS, however, definitely worth ordering at least once and if you love it more than I do, many more times. I mainly ordered it for the jelly fish and because Seth had never had it before. The soup is bright Pepto Bismol pink. Pretty jarring but delightful and it fits in with all the neon lighting.
The jellyfish was not at all like how one may imagine. For one thing, there’s nothing jelly-like about it. It’s opaque in color and looks like a ribbony slippery sea sponge. When you bite into it it has a bouncy crunchy-ness. That’s the best I can do description wise. It’s such an interesting texture. I have no idea if jellyfish have a flavor of their own because it either doesn’t really and just absorbs flavors or you simply can’t taste it over the soup’s broth. Supposedly, it’s pretty good for you.
The last thing we ordered and shared was something new for me. Since I dictated most of the meal I asked Seth to pick our 3rd dish. He chose Kai Tao Jeaw, steamed Hainan chicked topped with spicy ginger and black bean sauce.
This was new for me too and didn’t look at all like how I expected.
The chicken was insanely tender. I wasn’t sure how i’d feel about steamed chicken skin but that as well was so tender my fork easily cut through. I was expecting a dark sauce or at least beans that are black but Pfff…it was tasty, I didn’ care.
The only things I wasn’t crazy about were some random “salt pockets” as Seth called it. I LOVE salty but there were some bites that were a bit intense even for me. It also said spicy ginger on the menu but there was nothing spicy about it. Maybe they didn’t think our baby mouths could handle it. We love our spicy.
Other than that it was really good. Tangy and citrusy (very tangy,…I drooled a bit) and the ginger was refreshing.
The service was good. This was the slowest I had ever seen it. Normally, it’s pretty packed and as a result the service slows down understandably (I saw some people bitching about it on Yelp). Meh.
Overall, I love this place.
On the way out I had to take a picture of the street lamps they have in the parking lot. They crack me up.
From Ibiza we headed over to Ireland! Ireland is especially dear to me. While i’m a bit of a mutt (and proud of it) my family connects most closely with our Irish heritage and upbringing. Our family on my Dad’s side (via my Oma/Grandmother) originates from County Cork. For this trip we stayed in Dublin solely but we do plan on returning for County Cork and Galway. :3
We struck up many random conversations in Ireland. I’m introverted by nature but everyone we encountered was beyond charming and lovingly quirky and I couldn’t help engaging any chance we got. In these conversations Seth seemed to have fun informing people that my family comes from County Cork and the reaction was almost always the same, “Aaah, where the rebels and freedom fighters are from.” Seth: “Makes sense!”
We used Airbnb for Dublin and stayed at the apartment of a college student who was returning home to the states to visit her family. Here’s the exterior on James Joyce Street…
The rest of the pictures pick up after we got settled in …..
On to Ibiza!! Ibiza is an island off the coast of Spain (about 49 miles). This stunning island became a vacation away from our vacation. Between all the scrambling and packing of spending a day or two here and there and running (literally sometimes) to catch flights, this was a nice, mellow, and relaxing change of pace. We used Airbnb again and couldn’t have been happier.
The owner of the place we stayed via Airbnb, Pablo, also owned his own rental car company and offered to give us rides anytime he was around. Which we only took advantage of a couple times to the airport and back, one trip to a supermarket, and when Pablo drove us into town so we could check out the clubs. We didn’t want to put him out at all and when he asked what time we’d like him to pick us up we just said, “whatever’s good for you” (thinking maybe midnight). “Ok! How about 4am?” @_@ Pablo knows how to party.
We were conveniently located next to a cute airy restaurant (called “Stop” I think). So, we had fun walking over for some occasional tapas and such, like my first breakfast in Ibiza (pictured above).
It was a bit of a hike but Seth and I would walk to the beach each day we were there. Turns out this beach was A-OK with boobies so just a warning, you may find some boobage. I’ll be honest, I considered what’d it’d be like going topless for a second and decided it wasn’t for me….nor did I want that kind of sunburn to deal with.
(Above: Same view, picture on the right is taken through Seth’s polarized sunglasses)
I’ve surprised myself with how few “FOOD” posts I’ve made. That will be changing soon. I’ll also be working on getting better pictures. I’m currently relying on my cell phone which is still relatively new. We’re still getting to know each other….especially through auto-correct.
I made Nikujaga in my Crock Pot recently. I love the idea (and taste!) of Nikujaga. It’s a super comfort food that literally means “meat” and “potato” and is such a comfort food that you typically don’t find it in most restraunts in Japan AND it’s something that is closely linked with “Mom”. ❤ Aww
My future mother-in-law is half Japanese (Her mother was from Sendai) and on occasion would cook Homey Japanese meals, like Nikujaga, for her three boys. Seth didn’t necessarily take these meals for granted but assumed everyone ate like this until he was older. As a result we’ve been having these cute moments where I’ll randomly pick a Japanese meal to make and when I tell Seth I get an, “Oh? That sounds good.” and after seeing the ingredients and tasting the meal he has these moments similar to the movie Ratatouille, in which, his mind is blown, “Heeeey!! I used to eat this when I was a kid!!”. ME: “Really? What did you guys call it?” SETH: “Uhh, I don’t know. Nothing really. Meaty stew? Ricey wrapper stuff?”
The last two meals we’ve had this happen with were Inarizushi and Golden Curry.
Aaaanyways! I’ve been very antsy to use my Crock Pot and found a Nikujaga recipe for it. The one I found on Pinterest I think uses ALOT of sugar (i’m cutting it back next time). It also says to dice the onion but I love having everything in choppy hearty chunks. I wanted something quick and easy at the time, hence the Crock Pot, and this tasted great. It had big cubes of stewing beef that are so tender they shred and fall apart and blend in with the tender potatoes and flavor soaked carrots. It is on the sweet side but with the soy sauce and sake to balance with it creates an umami savoriness. Savory is definitely the word for it. Super easy and quick to prepare!
You can find the recipe HERE
Another thing I love about this meal is how creative you can get with it. It’s so basic and simple but there are so many personal twists you can give it.
Next time I want to make a stove top version with thinly sliced beef, dashi stock, and shirataki noodles to go along with the potato, carrots, and maybe some green beans or snow peas. Similar to the recipe found here www.justonecookbook.com
I apologize for the semi-long break in between my last post. Father’s Day weekend was quite busy and included a trip to an Irish Festival in Long Beach which i’ll be posting about soon!
Aaaanyways, back to the trip!!
The next stop on our cruise was Florence. Well, it was supposed to be. We were very excited to see Florence but due to some unforeseen circumstances etc we found ourselves with very limited time, just enough time to walk around and have lunch and a snack in Rome. Sure, it was sad we missed Florence but i’m not complaining in the least. I’m all too grateful for everything we did get to experience and enjoy. Besides, that just gives us an extra excuse for a future trip to Florence.
The next part of our on-going journey brought us to a cruise on Royal Caribbean. This was my first cruise and as I have nothing to base it on it was quite awesome to me. I’m so unfamiliar with the ways of cruises that while packing I had figured we’d be doing so much walking I didn’t bring any heels with me. I thought some silvery strappy sandals would do if we decided to get dressed up. You can imagine the face I made when I found out that formal dress, that means heels for ladies, were mandatory. :O …. >:O Shit.
It worked out. How many chicks can say they have a pair of shoes they picked up in the French Riviera? I’m such a tomboy it’s extra astonishing and hilarious for me.
I’m not going to focus on the cruise ship but the locations we got to dock at. Very quickly tho’ before I move on I’d like to note that it took me about a day to get my “sea legs”. I don’t get seasick but the movement of such a huge ship on water was the oddest feeling. It made me dizzy and disoriented, so much so that it made me think of the movie Vertigo. I was pretty wobbly and had to lean on Seth. I looked like a drunk cat with tape stuck on it’s side. Anyways, I just wanted to leave you guys with that funny image. (well, and a few pics of the cruise ship)
As we approached Cannes the weather was still very overcast. However, when it was time for us to make for dry land and explore, the sun was out and there was hardly a cloud in the sky.
Cannes engulfed in the Film Festival atmosphere was surreal. The first thing you notice are the GIANT yachts. Some so big they had helipads…you know, for their private helicopters for when they need to make caviar runs. There was an eclectic mix of people ranging from natives to tourists to press doing their jobs to fans to stars of the films themselves. We had a funny Alec Baldwin experience. There was no violence involved.