99% Food, 1% Skin

Eating in Curaçao, Dutch Antilles

I wish I could eat in each one of the countries we visited on the cruise!

In reality, I knew it would be difficult to get my hands on local foods for one reason or another.

In the Bahamas, we were dropped off at a secluded part of an island basically ran by the staff of the cruise ship – no local food.

In Aruba, everything near the strip off the port was touristy.

There were quite a few eateries but they were serving sandwiches, pizza and pasta.

Colombia and Costa Rica were challenging because we only have enough time to tour but not enough to eat locally.

A Glimpse of Street Food Life in Cartagena, Colombia  L: fruit vendor -- R Top: sweet cookies snacks -- R bottom: orange juice vendor

A Glimpse of Street Food Life in Cartagena, Colombia
L: fruit vendor — R Top: sweet cookies snacks — R bottom: orange juice vendor

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Chocolate Hunting in Seattle

I often wonder, how did Valentine’s Day became synonymous to chocolate giving?

Valentine’s Day is named after Saint Valentine, whom apparently had no connection whatsoever with romance.

As history evolved, people started celebrating Valentine’s Day romantically dating back to the 1300s, gifting roses, songs. cards and gifts.

So happened, in 1800s, the Cadbury family (yes! that British chocolate company Cadbury) made eating chocolate available to the market in beautifully decorated boxes; notably in creating the infamous heart-shaped boxes.

From then on, chocolate and Valentine’s Day have been linked ever since.

Seattle is the coffee capital of the U.S., with our homegrown coffee giant Starbucks, to the many coffee houses in our neighborhoods, that title is well-earned.

We may not be known as the chocolate capital, but we do have some darn good chocolate places to offer.

On top of my list is Fran’s.

A traditional chocolatier who has been around for over 30 years in Seattle, Fran’s remains small with just about four stores in town, and with many of the local grocery retailers carrying their products.

It was said that when President Obama came to visit in Seattle, he had simply fell in love with Fran’s, and could not get enough of them.

My favorite chocolate in Fran’s is the truffle chocolate-filled figs.

One whole fig, with its inside hollowed, fruit mixed with chocolate truffle and stuffed back in the dried fig skin, sealed at the bottom with a light dip of chocolate.

It is one of the funniest chocolate eating experience; very dense, and it certainly requires multiple attempt to finish.

Soft to cut once the knife went through the chewier fig skin outer layer; when you bit into it, it had all these crunchy bits from the seeds, giving both texture and fruit sweetness, along with the smooth chocolate.

Of course, Fran’s truffles are all superb with a crunchy outer layer, and smooth and creamy centre; highest praise to their pure dark chocolate and earl grey truffle.

Their sea salt caramel is ultra delicious as well even though I am not normally a caramel fan.

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Restaurant Marron

WP_20160110_18_06_22_ProWe celebrated our anniversary at Restaurant Marron on a Sunday night when they serve a truncated Sunday supper menu for $49.

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It was such a pleasure to be greeted with a nice warm cup of mulled cider, strongly scented with cloves and cinnamon, a tad of tartness and quite sweet — certainly beat the chill out.

Appetizers were a pair of warm broccoli salad and sunchoke soup. Continue reading →

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Naka

It was really sad to see that Le Zinc closed its door in Capitol Hill.

As just a patron to restaurants, I was very surprised: a place with great food, great service and atmosphere, and the experience of sister restaurant Maximillien, how could it close down?

My friend who lives in Capitol Hill managed to shed some light.

He mentioned that the restaurant scene in Capitol Hill is very competitive.

For us, 95% of the time we go to eat at Capitol Hill is on the weekends; and apparently many of these seemingly business-blooming restaruants can be empty on the weekdays.

Business is tough.

As the old goes out, new comes in; I was super excited to learn about the opening of Naka at Le Zinc’s old spot; particularly, it is the first Japanese restaurant in Seattle solely for Kaiseki – traditional multi-course Japanese dinner.

I love the simplicity of the menu: tasting menu for $75; Naka, 10-course, Kaiseki for $120 or Chef Kaiseki, 15-course, for $170.

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The rest of the dinner is in the hands of chef Shota Nakajima, who has apprenticed under a Michelin star chef in Japan.

I was impressed with my Naka Kaiseki: freshly seasonal, with balance of textures and flavors, and each dish showcased the different culinary techniques of the chef, adhering to the philosophy of Kaiseki.

Not fully traditional, Nakajima-san’s kaiseki has elements of western food as well. Continue reading →

Molecular Gastronomy Fun — One-Bite Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

It was time to play with my molecular gastronomy kit again.

I am definitely using it way less frequently than I thought, this experiment was only the second time I used the kit after the making of arugula spaghetti.

One of the deterrent was the fact that I made a huge mess in the kitchen every time I played with it — no exception this time.

I wanted to try spherification, or basically, encapsulation; and decided to go for an encapsulated tomato soup over grilled cheese sandwich — mini sandwiches that were meant to be taken in one bite.

I watched the accompanying video and followed the instruction.

The video showed a square vase being used to mix the 2g of sodium alginate with water.

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I made the mistake of using a much larger bowl, which I thought would make the spherification process easier with more space to work in.

However, the larger bowl made the depth of liquid shorter, and when I placed the hand-held blender in the water, water squirted everywhere!

Mess!

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King Tut

Egypt has one of the most ancient civilization on earth.

We were really glad we visited Egypt, and was able to see the inside and outside of the pyramid, the sphinx, and went to the Great Sand Sea before the current unrest in the Middle East.

One thing I did regret from that trip was food.

Granted, in this rare occasion that my trip was not about food, we were being placed in hotels that were very far away from town, and made it difficult to walk to anywhere for food.

I did recall having the best shawerma with the softest wrap and most delicious, tender, and well-flavored meat; and I also fell in love with ful, a fava bean stew.

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When my Egyptian friend told me about King Tut in Lynnwood serving authentic Egyptian food, I was delighted!

Dear friend gave me a list of must try food, one of them being stuffed pigeon.

I did recall seeing pigeons in restaurant display in Egypt, we had to try it.

The stuffed pigeon is not on King Tut’s menu, and I was told to call ahead for them.

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