Koreanese Bento #28: It’s about time

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Miso-glazed tofu, steamed broccoli in ponzu sauce, roasted baby potatoes, rosemary marcona almonds, red bell pepper and a lemon wedge over multigrain rice.

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Hapa Day Off

Hapa Halloween! A Ferris Bueller Tribute

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To many of the young folks in the Mission, we were unidentifiable. But there were at least a few Halloween partiers that got it!

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
— Ferris Bueller

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First time we went out, we had a special guest — Lloyd Dobler from “Say Anything” == as the hockey jersey for Cameron hadn’t arrived in the mail on time.

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But by Halloween Part II, we had the whole cast for our Hapa Ferris Bueller crew — including Cameron in aforementioned jersey!

Koreanese Bento #27: Ohayo!

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Had a wonderful day in Napa yesterday, culminating in a picnic at V Sattui Winery in St. Helena. This morning I was inspired to bento with some of the leftovers. It’s been ages, and I’d almost forgotten how fun packing a lunch could really be. 🙂

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Leftover rotisserie chicken, kale salad with a sesame vinaigrette, baby carrots, roasted rosemary almonds and a happy tangerine.

Good-bye, Pier 70: When the past will really be the past

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One day, very soon, all of this will be spruced up, removed, renovated or at least refurbished, which I suppose is better than rusting and rotting … But I’m savoring the last moments anyway before Pier 70 is really history.

Check out the vision for Pier 70 on the Port of San Francisco’s website and also at Pier 70 Waterfront Project.

McD’s Abroad

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A far more diverse menu than we have here in SF!

I was recently in Germany and Switzerland. And, while I usually make it a rule to never eat American fast food while abroad, this MacDonald’s in Wurzburg, Germany, was the only late-night place open that had Wi-Fi.

Please note the global offerings on the menu. For one thing, I was surprised the menu was written in English. Germans, unlike other Northern Europeans, do not have a particular penchant for using the English language. (Alas for the English-speaking traveler, they dubb all their American TV shows.) But then we get to the “Wan Tan’s” … Where the author of said menu took a notable stylistic departure.

Is “wan tan” how one says “won ton” in German? Is this preferable to “potsticker” or “dumpling,” which is the German word they chose for the caption? Does anyone really care? Most likely not. But thought I would ruminate nonetheless. Hey, this is my blog!

Literal translation: “Dumplings filled with chicken meat, coconut milk with Asian BBQ sauce.” So we’re dealing with a real cultural hybrid any way you’re looking at it. And, for one final tangential note, I love German enthusiasm for capitalization. All nouns — not just proper ones — deserve their day in the sun!

Teigtaschen gefüllt mit Hähnchenfleisch, Kokosmilch mit Asia BBQ Sauce.

Teigtaschen gefüllt mit Hähnchenfleisch, Kokosmilch mit Asia BBQ Sauce.

In the Garden: Memories of manta rays

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Free leftover tins from Bora Bora become planters. A nice memory, long after the cookies and the tan have been gone!

In September 2010, I was lucky enough to visit French Polynesia. I stayed on the islands of Tahiti and Bora Bora. The fanciful cuisine of the former — particularly the long-standing food truck tradition — was certainly a favorite memory. But it was only off the shores of Bora Bora that I got to scuba dive. And I do love nothing more than being underwater. Whilst immersed in the almost too perfect turquoise seas, I swam with pregnant manta rays and big fat lemon sharks. Gifts from the gods, to be sure.

I hadn’t completely forgotten about the dives, but almost two years later, they were far from my mind. And then, about a month ago, I got a message from an old dive buddy — a Frenchman who lives near Avignon.

“I was watching a documentary about mantas in French Polynesia and I saw you,” he wrote. “Did you see this documentary? I can try to capture few pictures for you if you want.”

And then it all came back.

A screen shot of me after the dive, from "Les reines du lagon."

It so happens that a French film crew was on my dive boat that September, and they were making a documentary about the manta rays in the motu. They filmed the briefing, the dive and then interviewed me afterward. Miracle of miracles, I made the final cut.

The film, “Les reines du lagon” (The queens of the lagoon”) is by Dominique Martial. Mon ami francais sent me a screen shot and some video clips. Apparently, I sound way more sophisticated in French! The parts I saw were magical. Hope I get to see the whole documentary one day.

I had saved some cookie tins from the resort in Bora Bora where we stayed while diving. They were the tastiest tropical butter cookies I’ve ever had! I poked drainage holes in the bottom of the tins, filled them with soil and then planted a trio of succulents in each.

Now, whenever i water them, I will be thinking of Bora Bora and my magical moment with mantas, en francais!

Koreanese Bento #26: Just enough time for a snack

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Potato-and-pea baked samosas with tamarind-date chutney, fresh strawberries and Asian-flavored financiers and madeleines by SweetMue.com.

Not much of a bento …. More like a glorified snack box. But I’m sharing it anyway because it’s not about perfection, right?

For a while I was making bento that were rather time consuming. There’s nothing wrong with that unless, of course, higher standards keep you from making a portable and healthy lunch when you have less time.

I tossed together this snack of leftover samosas, fruit and pastries in less than five minutes, and they’re in a re-used Chinese take out container to boot. So here’s one for the imperfectionist in all of us. Cheers! And happy snacking.

PS: The madeleines and financiers were made by my dear friend from SweetMue.com. She’s been blending Asian flavor favorites, such as taro, red bean, green tea and black sesame, into traditional French pastry recipes. Her green tea cream puffs (not pictured) are a personal fave. I am also a big-time fan of her black sesame puffed pastry balls! You can follow her baking adventures on her blog, sweetmue.wordpress.com.

In the Kitchen: Pseudo potato and pea samosas with tamarind chutney

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My dumpling kick and my try-to-waste-no-food kick continue to overlap. I had a bag of boiled new potatoes from Krabbefest 2012 (a Dungeness Crab-lovers delight) and a big bunch of cilantro and leftover tamarind concentrate after from my Taste of Southeast Asia dinner party. (Guests had to dress up as a tourist, local or otherwise. We had a lot of “backpackers” in fisherman trousers and beer brand T-shirts show up!)

Eureka, Indian food! I decided I’d attempt samosas, but this would require some serious improvisation.

Crab for all! Those are the potatoes way in the back. We also had garlic bread, corn on the cob, pecan salad and, of course, spicy boiled dungeness crab.

1. Spices
I didn’t have any garam masala handy, so I made it. Peeled and toasted the cardamom pods that had been languishing on my spice rack for god knows how long and toasted the seeds on the stove top with a half stick of cinnamon, some whole cloves and black pepper corns. Then I dumped these in my “spices-only” coffee grinder and gave them a good whir. I cheated for the final ingredients, adding store-bought ground coriander seed and ground cumin to the mix.

2. Dough
I could have made the flaky pastry dough required, but this seemed a lot of effort for experimental, reconstituted leftovers. I opted for store-bought spring roll wrappers instead. The only problem — they were square, and I needed round. Placed a bowl upside down over a stack of skins, traced it with a knife, removed the edges and cut the results into imperfect semi-circles. Tada!

3. Filling
I was using frozen boiled potatoes that I’d thawed in the microwave. As anyone might imagine, they were a big watery mess. I think, in the future, it would be best to dice the potatoes and freeze them on a tray before tossing them into an airtight bag. Alas, I had not been so prescient. So I had to squeeze out my messy pile of sad potato bits in paper towels. But, you know, it worked. The rest was inspired by recipe I found in Andrea Nguyen’s lovely Asian Dumplings cookbook. But more about Ms. Nguyen later …

4. Cooking
Real samosas, while ever-so-tasty, are a fried-food binge waiting to happen. I have an upcoming trip to Hawaii, which will require much more skin exposure than my usual SF wardrobe, and cannot afford to put on another pound. (Alas, bikini, you love me no longer…) Continue reading