Trip to the jeweler’s

I recently took my watch into a jeweler’s store to have my old watch strap changed out for me. The nice people at the jeweler’s agreed to do it for me free of charge.

While waiting, I walked around the store and started browsing all that glitters and was surprised to see that they have Joy Jewelers police jewelry on sale. When I think of jewelry, I tend to think of them as the regular gemstones and accessories for weddings, birthdays and anniversaries.

I have to admit I had no idea there are specially designed themed rings and jewelry for folks who work in the service like the police and fire department. The designs are very meaningful gifts and would make wonderful gifts.

Although I only spent a few minutes in the store, it was fun peering at all those precious gems and fancy jewelry. Will someone please surprise me this Christmas with a gem-studded tiara that I can wear while cooking and doing the dishes?

The spice of life

The spice of life

When we visit our regular Chinese dimsum restaurant, our server never fails to bring us a plate of freshly-cut Jalapeno chilies. We usually order noodles along with the dimsum. We dip our dimsum into Sriracha and eat our noodles with the chilies.

The spice of life

Lately the owner/head chef has been giving us lots of little “specials” – freshly-cut birds’ eye chilies from his own backyard, enough for us to take some home (see the little tub on the right). Apparently he grows a lot of his own veggies for use in his restaurant. He even promised to add a pot of his chilies to the little garden in his restaurant so we can come in and harvest them any time.

The spice of life

It’s no secret that I’m a spicy food lover. Real spicy, that is. Like many, I grew up eating spicy food and somewhere along the line, I must’ve inadvertently trained my brood to be the spicy food lovers too. They’ve come a long way since their younger days of having fire extinguishers on standby whenever they attempted spicy food.

You may have noticed small plates of fresh cut chilies peeking out in many of the food pictures I’ve posted. Chilies are pretty much a staple at all our meals. I don’t play favorites with my chili choices but I like ’em with a real kick. There’s a saying in our family: “If a chili ain’t spicy, it ain’t a chili, it’s a vegetable!”

The spice of life

Being an international person, I love my wasabi, gojuchang, tomyam and curries but I also love my chili-free days of pastas, pies, potatoes and tostadas.

Food sample love

Food sample love

The highlight of our highly anticipated weekends is grocery shopping, and the highlight of that is undeniably the food samples. They say never shop on an empty stomach. But that’s exactly what we always do. Never fear though, we have an abundance of food samples to tide us over till our weekend lunch out.

I don’t always have a chance to snap pictures because those tasty morsels seem to go into my mouth faster than I can get my cellphone out. Here’s some of what we’ve sampled including Ritz cookies with a choice of salmon and artichoke dip (we bought the artichoke dip), Starbucks coffee (the homemade version), cheese and ham crackers, caramel popcorn (not just one popcorn but a whole paper cupful!) and yes, life-size Lindt chocolate candy!

food sample love

And this meatball which we’ve sampled many times. I don’t know what makes it so good but it’s, never mind, *drools*! I’ve been tempted to buy a bag more than once but not before I figure out how we plan to eat 150 meatballs (that’s how many are in a bag!).

food sample love

My first ever taste of Nutella! I see it on grocery shelves and I know many people swear by it. Well, I personally have never tried it but now that I have, I’ll have to say it makes this waffle come alive. Would I buy it? Maybe but I can’t see myself eating more than this mouthful either.

food sample love

I typically turn down food samples especially when the promoter is standing there with a pair of thongs and a tray of exposed chopped-up bits of what looks like last week’s party leftovers, waiting to plop one tiny piece on the palm of your hand as you walk by. Yuck, no thanks!

But here I’m looking forward to them every weekend. They’re life-size samples you can actually chew and taste. The gloved promoter prepares small batches of 5 to 10 samples and places them on paper cups on a tray. That way, you know they’re freshly prepared and no one has sneezed or coughed on them, for instance (eww!). The golden rule is that once you reach out and grab a cup, you can’t put it back, you have to take it. Makes sense, right?

The weekend’s coming up and you know what that means *wink*.

I’m coming for ya, tasty morsels!!!

The music class that wasn’t

Once upon a summer, I took at music class in college. It wasn’t the kind of music class where you learn to play an instrument like a ukulele musicians friend. Surely that would take a lot longer than a summer to accomplish.

This class was about the history of music and we spent most of our class time watching music documentaries. It wasn’t as boring as you’d imagine. At least the air-conditioning in the classroom offered cool relief from the blistering heat outside.

Curry and flatbread

Curry and flatbread

Every so often, you meet someone and you get to talking and inadvertently the topic heads in the direction of food. Isn’t that what usually happens? So much revolves around food these days that it’s hard to avoid exchanging notes about what’s good where.

While I’m not one to jump at food recommendations, no matter how good they may sound, there are times when we’re at loose ends and feeling a little plucky. That was the weekend we found ourselves at an Indian restaurant recommended by said someone.

Chicken curry was an obvious choice for us. The portion was somewhat smaller than expected. Still this was a curry bursting with all the traditional herbs and spices that make Indian curry so special. And the long-grained rice with distinct grains was very good.

We loved it. Our only mistake was forgetting to tell them we wanted our curry to be killer spicy. To our seasoned palettes, this curry was heat level zero although we did spy another diner drowning himself in water from eating this same dish.

curry

We ordered the highly recommended flatbread. It was crispy and tasted like flatbread but it didn’t jump out at us. The yogurt looked intimidating to me somehow, maybe because it’s second nature for me to dunk any sort of flatbread into curry. So dipping it in yogurt was a bit scary at first. It wasn’t bad but I still prefer the curry combination.

flatbread

And that was it. We left the place still hungry, of course. This always happens when we’re trying out a new restaurant. We like to play it safe in case the food doesn’t measure up to our expectations. After this meal, we went grocery shopping where there was ample opportunity to fill our tummies with food samples (more about this coming to a post near you).

3-pasta week

3-pasta week

We didn’t plan this. It just happened. This 3-pasta week, I mean. No complaints though. Pasta is quick and easy. Not to mention, more hands make light work. In fact, we cooked 2 pastas at one go. How’s that?

Here’s the story. It was a Tuesday night, a school night. And we were rushing to get to a basketball game. We had to eat dinner before leaving plus I wanted to pack the girls a swankier lunch the next day instead of the same old boring sandwiches. So we ended up cooking 2 pastas – the pesto tilapia over linguine for dinner that night, and the tuna pasta to enjoy between classes at college the next day.

Let me just say, pesto tilapia over linguine is super yummy. Well, now that we’ve successfully recreated the pesto tilapia from scratch, we can pretty much scratch the boxed version we’ve bought once or twice.

pasta2

The tuna pasta is a longtime favorite of ours. It’s a recipe I created and well, it’s been a while since we ate this. Don’t let its looks fool you. Such innocent-looking fusilli and yet it’s deadly spicy!

pasta1

The following night, I cooked this mac and cheese while waiting for the girls to get home from class. Apparently they’ve loved the mac and cheese I used to cook for them when they were little. How could I not know this? They’ve been reminiscing about it so I promised to cook it for them, for old times’ sake? LOL

pasta3

Yes, that’s one heckuva huge pan of mac and cheese, heavily loaded with hidden goodies too! (Sidenote: I wonder how much RO restaurants would charge for a serving of this.) I’m not necessarily a fan of mac and cheese. Yet I couldn’t stop eating this. That kick*ss crunch and the light saltiness coming only from the 2 grated cheeses. Yums.

Okay, so I’m planning next week’s meal menu in my head and making my grocery list. I wonder what I’ll come up with.

Mediterranean food adventure

Mediterranean food adventure

Looks like the food adventures of the new year have begun. This Mediterranean food adventure was totally unplanned. We were parked and walking towards Baja, our favorite Mexican food joint, for lunch when we noticed this newly-opened Mediterranean restaurant straight ahead.

Okay, so you wanna give this place a try? we were asking each other. I don’t think I’ve had Mediterranean food before. Well, okay, I may or may not have had a couple of bites off a shish kebab sandwich once, if that even counts.

We walked up to the restaurant to get a closer look at their posters. Frankly, some of these well-intentioned food posters tell me absolutely nothing about what I’m going to get if I were to order those items. I can venture a guess but I really can’t be sure.

Someone pops out from behind the glass door and cheerfully hands us each a small flyer with a bunch of unfamiliar food names, then promptly disappears (which is kinda nice). Goodness knows how annoying it is to have restaurant staff shouting out welcomes, shoving flyers in your face and chasing after you as you walk away. It just tells you how desperate they are to get you to eat their – bad food?

Anyhow, standing out in the cold trying to decipher the flyer on an empty stomach was the last thing we needed. No matter how many times we read the flyer, none of us got much further than the words shish and pilaf. The rest of the food items might as well have been names of asteroids in another universe light years away.

At some point, the wind started blowing and we decided, okay, that’s it, we’re going in. The big man behind the counter flashed a huge friendly smile and asked if we were new to Mediterranean food. I’m pretty sure he already knew the answer to that. He embarked on explaining everything. Finally it was all making three-dimensional sense.

We only ordered one plate to share, just in case. That’s us, picky eaters who don’t like to waste food. The man was very understanding and handed us a single plate piled high with 2 sticks of chicken shish, rice pilaf, white beans, pita bread, salad, jajik and baklava. It’s all good. Just keep that humus far, far away please LOL!

medlunch1

I know. That’s a lot of carbs. But don’t expect me to say, I’ll eat my carbs now and tomorrow I’ll swim the Pacific from end to end to make up for it. I feel no carb guilt. Seriously where would we be without carbs? How did we even get to adulthood if our parents never fed us carbs eh? Something to think about.

So you’re dying to know, did I like the food? Looking at the deep red tomato-based chicken, I was expecting the flavor to be intense. But it turned out to be pretty mild. We ordered the spicy version too but to a seasoned spicy eater like me, I barely sensed any heat. Maybe it’s been toned down for the American palette. If you know what this Mediterranean chicken is supposed to taste like, please let me know. But yeah, the chicken tasted okay.

As for the jajik, a creamy white dip made with Greek yogurt, cucumber, garlic and olive oil, loved it! In fact, we couldn’t get enough of the two big bottles we bought at Costco last year. And of course, we loved the baklava, a Mediterranean dessert made with Phyllo pastry and honey. Absolutely delicious. So sad that we got such a small piece *sobs*.

medlunch2

Right after this meal, we marched straight across to Baja for “Lunch, Part Two, The Conclusion”! Tada, our Grilled Shrimp Salad aka yummiest thing ever, as always! No surprises! We gobbled up every last bean (pinto and black), every last tortilla chip, every last bit of diced tomato and avocado, every last shrimp… ’nuff said!

medlunch3

From the Mediterranean to Mexico, this was one fabulous food outing on a winter’s day. Guess we’re richer from having tried yet another cuisine we’ve never tried before.

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