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Laundry On Sundaes

Every beginning is only a sequel, after all, and the book of events is always open halfway through.

Tag Archives: love

Taking a break from studying for a very difficult quarter (more on that later) to catch up on blogging! This past Valentine’s Day, Yufei and I took an overnight trip to Healdsburg. From the moment I finished clinic it was a mad rush to get home, drive to the town, check in at the hotel, get ready, drive to dinner, find parking, and finally arrive at the restaurant (15 minutes after our reservation). We chose Barndiva for our Valentine’s night dinner and it was wonderful. We chose to sit in the patio, where we were the only 2 diners. There were so many heat lamps that the cold was not an issue at all (we had to ask them to move a lamp further away!) and it was lovely and quiet. The string lights were so pretty and it felt like we were eating in a secret garden.

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We started out with some drinks – their signature drink for the night, Fruit as Love – infused kumquat vodka, Damiana syrup, fresh citrus, Prosecco and pomegranate pips. And some bread, which was so soft and buttery and delicious.

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They had a special 3-course prix-fixe menu for the night. Yufei’s appetizer was fresh goat cheese, beets, warm croutons, and baby lettuces.

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I got the lobster risotto with crispy fingerling potato chips and caviar.

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I really loved the risotto. It was the perfect combination of flavors and textures. For the main course, Yufei got the beef tenderloin with dandelion greens, pickled onions, and Perigord truffles.

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And I had the halibut with artichoke frito misto, saffron aoili, and fennel marmalade.

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I tried both dishes and they were both excellent. And for dessert, They had a caramelized “banana split” for 2, with chocolate bouchon, cherry, almond, whipped cream, and mint chip and coffee ice creams.

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It was the perfect finish to a great meal. Usually I’m a little skeptical of dining out on a busy day like Valentine’s Day, but our experience at Barndiva was great. The ambiance, food, and service all couldn’t have been better.

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After dinner, we pretty much just passed out from tiredness and our amazing dinner (but not before watching some season 2 of House of Cards!). The next morning we headed out into the town of Healdsburg. We had a Groupon for wine tasting with food pairings at Thumbprint Cellars, so after wandering around for a bit we went in for our reservation. We each had a flight of whites and a flight of reds, with 2 different plates of cheeses, crackers, nuts, dried fruits, olives, spreads, etc.

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The pours were quite generous and the food was a perfect accompaniment for the wine. We left with pretty full stomaches and a bottle of the unoaked Chardonnay.

It was raining lightly outside all day so unfortunately we had to spend most of our time indoors. We stopped by Snowbunny for some frozen yogurt since we decided to skip lunch.

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Before we left town, we did one more tasting at Mueller Winery, since we got a 2 for 1 coupon from the Healdsburg visitors center earlier that day.

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After that, we left Healdsburg and began driving to our next stop for the weekend.

Part 2

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Yufei and I celebrated Valentine’s Day on the Monday after this year, and it was fantastic! I made us brunch with pancakes, eggs, toast, and chocolate covered strawberries in the morning:

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Yufei got me flowers. Aww…

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And at night we went out to Dixie for dinner. We had a voucher for a 5-course dinner with wine pairings for two, which was a great deal. The restaurant is located in the Presidio, surrounded by trees. It was dark when we got there, but I can imagine that it’s a pretty setting. The interiors of the restaurant was warmly lit. It was also really spacious, which I liked, and we got seated in a booth.

The kinds of food they serve I guess can be classified as new American with a southern twist. We started off with some canapés, which included hush puppies, deviled eggs, cured ham, and pickled okra.

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The first course was a sunchoke panna cotta with smoked oysters, crispy fried brussel sprouts leaves & dandelions. Since Yufei does not eat shellfish, they made his without oysters. We were a little disappointed that they did not substitute something for the oysters, but oh well.

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It was an interesting dish, unlike anything I’ve ever had before. I liked the crispy brussel sprout leaves, which kind of reminded my of kale chips. It was an interesting blend of textures and flavors. In the back of the photo you can also see their bread service of the night, a wild rive lavash flatbread served with black eyed peas. It was really good!

The next course was acorn grits with a soft poached egg, duck skin crackling and sea urchin butter. This time they replaced the sea urchin butter with regular butter for Yufei.

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I should have taken the photo a few second earlier before the butter shavings all melted. They looked really pretty. It was a pretty good dish, not too memorable though.

Here are the first of the two wine pairings, a sparkling wine and a sherry. The last wine we got was a Malbec (not shown).

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The next course was my favorite, the chicken fried quail with king trumpet mushrooms, spiced pecans, and bourbon butter. It was crispy and delicious and left me wanting more. But it was a 5-course meal after all so I guess the serving size was perfect.

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And the final savory course for the night, grass fed beef with a red wine, mushroom & coffee sauce.

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This was Yufei’s favorite course (not surprising since he’s a big fan of beef). I don’t really eat a lot of red meat but the portion was small and I enjoyed it. It was tender and pretty flavorful.

After the savory courses, we were presented with a small citrus granita palate cleaner before dessert. I kind of wanted a full serving of this, haha. So sweet and refreshing!

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The dessert course, a banana foster soufflé with malted milk chocolate ice cream.

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It was a nice light dessert to finish the meal. The little espresso cup the soufflé came in was too cute!

The meal overall was very good. The food was great and the service was very attentive. We tipped generously and even with the voucher, it was a pretty expensive meal. Everything was great, but I’m not sure if I would pay full price to come again.

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After we got back home, we exchanged our presents for each other. Yufei got me chocolate truffles and these super cute foldable figures of us from foldable.me! Aren’t they adorable and funny? (Foldable Yufei is even wearing the same purple shirt as in the previous picture!)

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Thanks to Yufei for spending this awesome day with me celebrating our 5th Valentine’s Day togehter :)

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For our 4 year anniversary last month, Yufei and I decided to go to Half Moon Bay for a nice little weekend getaway. I had just come back from New York and really welcomed the trip. We drove down from San Francisco on Friday morning. The drive was along the coast and the view was absolutely beautiful. We stopped by the Taco Bell in Pacifica for lunch – most scenic fast food restaurant ever! We also made a stop at another beach along the highway and took some photos.

We stayed at the gorgeous Mill Rose Inn, which was just so lovely. They had a beautiful garden full of blooming roses!

After checking in and dropping off our stuff, we went out for a walk in downtown Half Moon Bay. It’s such a cute little town! We were just in time for the annual pumpkin festival that was happening that weekend. We saw California’s biggest pumpkin:

The thing was humongous! Definitely can see it being turned into Cinderella’s carriage – ha! After walking around and getting ice cream, we drove to the beach.

We hung out at the beach for a while, then went back to the inn to rest a bit and watch a DVD. The inn provides tons of DVD’s that you can borrow and play on the TV’s in the rooms. Then it was dinnertime. I made a reservation at Cetrella, a restaurant within walking distant. It was a very nice place, great ambiance, with a live piano player and singer. Food and service were both excellent as well. It was very dark in the restaurant so I couldn’t really take photos (didn’t want to be that annoying person who keeps using flash).

After dinner, we walked back to the inn, which was equally magical at night. They had all these lights on their trees in the backyard – reminds me of Christmas!

The next morning, we had breakfast in the dining room (you can also choose to have it delivered to your room). They served champagne as well as a really yummy orange banana smoothie.

For food there was a pumpkin crumble, frittata, this nutty banana toast, and watermelon.

After breakfast we checked out, put our bags in the car, and went downtown to check out the art and pumpkin festival. There sure were a lot of people flooding into this tiny town! There were booths with artists and merchants selling their goods, food stands, etc. There was also a Halloween parade, where we saw this amazing Spongebob costume:

We had to get back in the early afternoon because I had work in the evening (boo). We had a wonderful time in Half Moon Bay; the weather was gorgeous, the Mill Rose Inn was lovely, dinner was decadent, we got to visit the festival, and most importantly, we got to spend it with each other and celebrate our 4 years together!

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There’s finally a tiny little break for me! I still have a paper due on Sunday that I need to start, but at least midterms are over for now and I don’t have anything else major before fall break. Phew. I’ve been so burnt out over the last couple of weeks, and I got sick last weekend too so that didn’t help either (still recovering from a cough). But at least I feel like I have enough time to write a blog post, that must mean something, right?

Earlier this month, I went to a little reunion with some friends that I attended a summer program with in 2007 (wow that’s a long time ago). One of them goes to Cornell and another goes to BU, and the other 2 are in town doing co-op programs. Since everyone was in NYC that weekend, we decided to meet up! It was great catching up with them since I haven’t seen most of them since the program ended, which was 4 years ago!

Then later that week, Yufei and I celebrated our three year together by going to dinner at Cafe Boulud. The meal and the service were excellent, I especially loved the olive bread (I think olive is starting to grow on me!) and my dessert, the milk chocolate coffee parfait.

And the company was even better, of course! Thanks to Yufei for such a great evening, and I hope we will celebrate many more years to come!

The weekend after that, I went to Columbia’s homecoming game against U Penn. We didn’t win, but at least we were winning when we left the stadium. And that’s not the most important part anyway, because that title goes to free stuff! By being a senior, I got a free t-shirt and free beer, and by pretending to be an alum, I got a free scarf (for being an “engineering alum”) and a free stuffed lion. And a ton of free food, snacks and drinks! The weather was beautiful that day, and it was so lovely to spend the afternoon with friends bathed in the upsurge of school spirit that only happens about twice a year. Here are my friends Cindy, Ying, Jin, and me!

Photo credit goes to Yufei, with amazing post-processing by Jin.

Then last weekend, I had the chance to meet up with my fellow blogger friend Erin, who is attending NYU. It was so cool to meet someone that you’ve been talking with online for so long! Erin was so nice and awesome and I’m looking forward to seeing her again to do some cool NYC stuff together!

That’s about it for now! There will be lots happening over the next week or so, so if I find time I will definitely write about it here!

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For the first time in more than 2 and a half years together, I was finally able to celebrate Yufei’s birthday with him! For the last 2 years, we were always half a globe from each other on the special day – first me in China and him in Canada, then me in Austria and him in New York. But this year we’re finally together in San Francisco! So of course we had to celebrate – with lots of delicious food!

After sleeping in until a luxuriously late hour, which is highly suggested for one’s birthday, we got ready and headed to Burma Superstar, one of an oddly large number of Burmese restaurants in the city. Neither of us had had Burmese food before, but I really wanted to try it out, so I took Yufei there for lunch. The place had great reviews online, and there was a line when we got there at past 1pm on a Monday morning – this place better be good! After about 20 minutes, we got seated in a corner of the restaurant.

We started with chicken samusas and a Burmese salad:

The sambusas were nice and hot and crispy and we both liked them. The salad had an interesting freshness to it, which I enjoyed more than Yufei. For our mains, Yufei got the nan gyi dok noodles, with flour noodles instead of rice noodles:

It had a nice coconut curry sauce and was really good! I stole a lot from Yufei’s plate. I got a Burnese chicken curry dish with tan poi rice:

The curry was delicious and the rice was very interesting – it had huge raisins in it! I’m always adamant about having dessert, so even though we were both quite full, we ordered a fried banana and ice cream dessert to share:

Which was a good call because it was so yummy! After lunch we decided to go to Golden Gate Park since we were nearby. We visited the California Academy of Sciences first (we are such nerds), where they had this really cool green roof:

The museum itself was pretty cool, but we ran out of time before they closed so we didn’t get to see everything. We walked around the park for a bit and then went to to Japanese tea garden.

It was quite a lovely place, but a little too crowded when we were there, which kind of takes away the serenity of the garden. But it was still a nice place to spend an afternoon. By then it was starting to get late and we hopped on a bus to go to dinner. I had made reservations at Frascati, a Mediterranean style bistro on Russian Hill. We were greeted warmly upon arrival, and they even wished Yufei a happy birthday (always a good sign when they actually pay attention to what you mention during the reservation). We were seated upstairs, which is smaller and more private than the first floor. We started with a couple of appetizers, the gnocchi and the duck confit salad:

Both were delicious! The salad had quite a lot of duck in it, which was great. And of course since we’re finally both legal, we each had a glass of chardonnay with our meal. Yufei ordered the duck breast for his main:

And I had the wild California salmon:

Both dishes were fantastic! And of course, we had to have dessert again at dinner, so Yufei got the affogato and I had the blueberry cobbler. Yufei’s dessert came with a birthday candle, which got blown out since it was a little drafty, but our server did his best trying to re-light it (and it was on the house!).

The meal was absolutely wonderful, the service was great, and we both had an excellent time. We were much too full and a little tired to go through with plans of hitting a bar, so we just walked home and watched a movie on the couch. It was a a day well spent – and I hope that I’ll be able to spend many more of Yufei’s birthdays like this!

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The California adventure continues! Yufei and I headed down to Monterey for the weekend (2 weeks ago), on the Greyhound, which we both agreed we’d never take again since it was awfully delayed (not the first time it’s happened). Anyway, I’m going to skip over the unpleasant business of getting there and say that we did eventually arrive at the bed and breakfast we were staying at late in the afternoon. It was the Martine Inn, which sits by the ocean in Pacific Grove, a beautiful Victorian abode. From the moment we stepped inside the house, we knew we were somewhere special. The place was impeccably decorated, gorgeously warm and welcoming in every way. Here’s the lovely living room:

And the beautiful garden:

They even had a little games room:

The whole place was just so quaint and charming – we had a clawfoot bathtub! – I just loved it! Props to my awesome boyfriend for picking such a perfect place!

After we got settled in, we were right on time for the daily afternoon hors d’heuvre and wine in the dining room (can I love this place any more?). Having satisfied our palates on the delectable treats, we set out for a trek along the beach on the seaside trail. It was a rather grey day, but not windy and therefore not as chilly as it was in San Francisco. Quite pleasant, actually. We passed by some harbour seals along the way:

Then we made our way down to Cannery Row and walked around the shops and attractions, and where I felt very compelled to read the Steinbeck novel for which the street was named after (in fact, I think I shall soon). As it was starting to get dark, we walked over to The Sardine Factory, where we had dinner reservations.

We had looked up the place on Yelp and made a reservation earlier that afternoon in a rush, and I was in no way expecting such a fancy place from a name like “The Sardine Factory”. But fancy it was indeed, and I felt under-dressed, but oh well. Though we were half an hour early for our reservation, we were seated right away in a nice little corner by the window. Warm bread (love that!) along with butter, seasoned olives, and a bean spread, was brought to us promptly:

The bread was so fluffy and warm and delicious that we had to force ourselves to stop eating them lest we stuff ourselves before the real meal even begins. We started out by sharing the Salinas Valley Salad, which was very good:

For our main courses, Yufei had a steak with a side of mashed potatoes:

And I knew I had to get some sort of seafood, and I opted for the seafood pasta:

We were both very impressed with the food so far, and even though we were pretty full by the time we finished (or in me case, attempted to finish) our mains, we wanted desert. After taking a look at the dessert menu, we decided to have the ice cream bonbons. We had no idea what that actually meant, but it was supposed to be “served dramatically with dry ice”. And indeed it was:

It was so dramatic that it elicited “oohs” and “ahs” and camera flashes from the table next to us! Turns out the bonbons were strawberry ice cream on a stick covered in chocolate, served with caramel sauce and crushed peanuts for dipping. Delicious! Overall we had a wonderful experience at the Sardine Factory and went home with happy stomachs.

The next morning we got up in time for breakfast served in the dining room overlooking the bay. French toast with berries and sausages, coffee, and apple juice – all served fresh (this place is seriously awesome!).

After breakfast we reluctantly left the lovely B&B (they gave us homemade banana bread upon departure!) and walked towards the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where we spent the better part of the day. We saw lots of colorful fish:

Sea turtles:

Strange sea horses and sea dragons:

Beautiful yet deadly jellies:

And lots of other fish, rays, coastal birds, penguins, sea otters, starfish, crabs, lobsters, and tons more. Here’s me sitting in a clam!

By the time we were finished with the aquarium, it was already afternoon, so we hopped on a free tourist bus and went to downtown Monterey to walk around a bit before catching another bus to Salinas. And having vowed to never take the Greyhound again, we went to the Amtrak station and bought train tickets back to SF. And thus ended our weekend in Monterey! Sigh… I want to go back already!

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We did stuff other than eat! I swear! Stuff like…

… Seeing the 42 feet tall statue of Athena inside the Parthenon in Centennial Park

… Admiring the Tennessee State Capitol

… Pondering the questions of the universe in front of these tomes by the Nashville Public Library

… Visiting the Frist Center for the Visual Arts

… Drinking a lot of free Dr. Pepper (wait… does that count as eating?)

… Making friends with Shrek

… Watching an awesome fireworks show

… And wishing that the lovely Belmont Mansion was our own!

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