Archived entries for travel

Seattle trip

Perfect coffee at Stumptown

We just got back from a whirlwind trip to Seattle a couple weeks ago and I’m finally getting around to posting some pics!

We hit our usual places (sushi, burgers, etc.) and my sis held her wedding reception at Palisades which was totally delish (this is such a great place for a reception!)
A couple of my favorite new finds:

  • Samurai Noodle: This place on the side of Uwajimaya totally blew my mind. I loves some noodle soup, but the pork broth seriously Knocked. Me. Out. It was that good — creamy, salty, tasty tonkotsu broth (not to be confused with tonkatsu, which is pork cutlet). No wonder the place is jammed at all hours of the day. Thanks to my sis for the awesome tip!
  • Trophy Cupcakes: Another recommendation from my sis. I am normally not super impressed with cupcake joints because usually their goods seem too sweet. (See this post for my typical opinion). Even though they were sweet, I really liked the cupcakes at Trophy. The price almost made me fall over, so at first I bought two cupcakes (at $2.99 a pop, they’d better be good!), but we gobbled them down so fast that we had to go back for more. The flavor not to miss? S’mores. This one took the cake, so to speak. And I don’t even like real s’mores.
  • Stumptown Coffee: This one was a tip from my friend Joseph, the best home barista I know. Here you can get the perfect latte. My brother called them “those feather coffees” because of the leaf pattern on top — which, as I’ve mentioned before, is the sign that the coffee and milk were worked perfectly. Sigh, I don’t find that too often here in NL, so Seattlelites, don’t take your great baristas for granted!

Delicioso tonkotsu ramen at Samurai Noodle

Ordering fish and chips at Jack’s at Pike Place Market

A pretty little chai cardamom cupcake at Trophy (good, but the s’mores cupcakes are still my fave.)

Samurai Noodle
606 5th Ave S
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 624-9321
Trophy Cupcakes
Wallingford Center
1815 N. 45th Street
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 632-7020
Stumptown Coffee
1115 12th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 323-1544

Apples and pears

Last weekend we had a great time (and great weather) picking apples and pears at a farm nearby. Elstar apples and Conference pears were in season — my favorite kinds! The fruit trees are pruned to be short, more like bushes, so it was easy for the kids, even the baby, to join in. We ended up with 11 kilos (!) of fruit, but I gotta say, it was really hard for the kids to stop adding to the bags. So, to use up some of this fruit, desserts are in order. I’ve re-posted one of my favorite recipes for Dutch appeltaart here. (Here’s the original post as well.)

Baby-sized Conference pears: perfect for snacking.

You must do a bit of taste-testing…

… and make sure to wear waterproof boots.

Short trees make you pick too many, of course.

A pear tree tipping under the weight of all that deliciousness.

Dutch Appeltaart
makes one 9-inch taart

For the crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour (300 grams)
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar (150 grams)
zest from one mandarin orange
1 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (about 175 grams), cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 egg
1 slice white bread, processed into breadcrumbs in a food processor

For the filling:
2 pounds apples (I like Granny Smith for its texture and tartness)
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla

  1. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Combine the flour, brown sugar, orange zest and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and cut it into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. (Alternatively, use a food processor.) Stir in the egg with a fork, then use your hands to knead the mixture until it resembles, well, a ball of dough. Flatten the dough into a 6-inch disk, wrap in cling wrap and place in refrigerator for at least an hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out 3/4 of the dough between two sheets of cling wrap to about a 13-inch circle (set aside the other 1/4 of the dough for the top of the tart). Set it into the springform pan. Don’t worry if it tears; the dough is really forgiving, so just pat it into the bottom and sides of the pan. Scatter the breadcrumbs along the bottom of the tart crust. Place it into the refrigerator while preparing the filling.
  3. Core and peel the apples. Divide each apple into 16 slices. (Place the apples in a bowl of ice water so they don’t turn brown.) Drain the apple slices and combine with the cornstarch, salt, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla.
  4. Roll out the remaining crust dough into strips to create a lattice-like top. (Don’t worry about making it perfect– it’ll sort of ‘melt’ in the oven anyway.)
  5. Place the apple mixture (but make sure not to include the accumulated liquid) into the tart crust and lay the lattice-dough-strips on top.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 50 minutes. Remove and cool on a cooling rack– once it’s cooled to room temperature, remove the springform sides. Serve with sweetened whipped cream.

: Original post of Appeltaart: apple pie, Dutch stylie

Long weekend in Italy

Villa Olmo, Lake Como

I was going through our photos recently and realized that I had never posted pics from a long weekend in Italy that the little chica and I took to visit her friend in Bergamo. Although it was a very short trip, it was good eating, as usual! We stayed in Bergamo with our friends the Myliuses, and took a couple of day trips: one to Lake Como and another to Verona, both of which are really charming places to visit (even though the day we were at Lake Como, there was a freakish rain/windstorm that seemed to catch everyone off guard!)

Donatella made us a delicious appletart from a family recipe, among other yummy things to eat.

Of course we picked up sweets at this bakery in Citta Alta, Bergamo.

At one of the bakeries in Bergamo, Donatella pointed out a specialty: a giant croissant filled with Nutella. Bon appetito!

Donatella took us to an amazing restaurant the night before we left — La Colombina, which specializes in la cucina bergamasca, total dishes from Bergamo. Here are casoncelli, the local filled ravioli served with butter, bacon and sage, and risotto with a red wine reduction. Very very rich but really delish. (and also affordable, with the most expensive dish being only 12 euro!)

In season peaches at the neighborhood market near the Mylius home.

The town center of Verona is really compact and walkable. Here is a statue of Berto Barbarani, a famous poet from Verona.

And of course no trip is complete without gelato! Here is the little chica’s favorite flavor: yogurt.

Midwest summer

Here are some more from our trip to Milwaukee and Chicago…

Sparkly. We attended my friend Sandra’s wedding in Chicago. Here’s her cake, beautifully appropriate for the Fourth of July (and we even got to watch the fireworks from the boat on Lake Michigan where she had the reception!)

Tasty. My brother’s girlfriend Marnie cooked dinner for us. She is an amazing cook! Here are the brussel sprouts with Asiago (from one of her fave recipes on the excellent food blog, 101 Cookbooks.)

Creamy. More from Marnie: creamy bacony stuffed mushrooms.

. My friend Jen and her little boy made ice pops for the kids and me. They were made out of a nice, not-to-sweet peach fruit juice. Perfect for a hot afternoon!

Crispy. The great thing about being home for Fourth of July weekend is getting to have lots and lots of barbeque! Here are some of the excellent marinated bbq pork by my friend Mark’s wife, Jessica and my friend Mayette. Man, that crispy fatty part is the best.

Wisconsinite/Filipino. If you grow up in Wisconsin, you grow up on bratwurst. But being Filipino, at our house it was never served grilled on a bun. Instead we grilled them and ate it with rice and tomatoes, or pancit. Believe me, an excellent combination.

Trashy. On the way back from Chicago I was jonesing for some Castle, the tiny steamed burgers that are ultimately, to be honest! pretty mediocre. (See my post on Kopps to read about great burgers in Wisconsin.) Of course, (as I realized all through college) you only have to have them at 1 o’clock in the morning after a night out (a la Harold and Kumar) to find out how truly outstanding they really are!

Beefy. My mom received a bunch of steaks from my aunt, who lives in Ohio. She and my uncle donate money to their local 4H beef breeding program. Basically, the group raises a steer for beef, the meat then being divided among those supporting the program. (I believe this is how it works– correct me if I’m wrong!) I find this program interesting for a few reasons: it seems to put children in touch with animals and how they are raised for meat — super topical these days, especially as a backlash against industrial farming. Secondly, supporters of the program essentially get a local product, great for those who are interested in ‘eating local’. When I had some of this, even before I knew, I was like, “These steaks are awesome– where did you get them?” It doesn’t hurt either that my dad is awesome at the grill.

I heart frozen custard

The flavor of the day when we were at Kopps: Peanut butter banana nut. The kids went loco over it.

When we took a much overdue trip to Milwaukee and Chicago a couple weeks ago, one of the things I was obsessed with was frozen custard. Oh, you haven’t had frozen custard? Let’s just say it is one thing you must eat if you like a) sweet things or b) food. Seriously, it is almost worth a trip across the ocean all by itself.

Basically, it is like a creamier, smoother version of ice cream. Oh yes, and also fattier and denser than gelato. First, a primer on what is important with ice cream texture. There are a couple of things that have a major impact on texture: butterfat and overrun. Butterfat content typically creates a “fattier” smooth texture of ice cream that ‘coats the tongue’. Yes, sounds gross, but is important to texture and taste. Overrun is the amount of air that mixed into the ice cream as it is churned.

Here is what is special about frozen custard:

  1. It has an egg custard base (hence, the name frozen custard).
  2. It has a high butterfat content (it must have at least 10 percent butterfat, like ice cream, although my favorite custard, Kopp’s, has 16 percent butterfat).
  3. It has low overrun of only 20 percent, while regular ice cream has between 50 to 100 percent overrun (that’s a lot of air!). This is due to the special, freaky-looking churner that spits out frozen custard in a giant vanilla or chocolate snake of frozen goodness. It churns more slowly, thereby preventing too much air being churned in.
  4. Frozen custard is served at a higher temperature, normally 18 degrees Fahrenheit rather than the 10 degrees Fahrenheit that standard ice cream is served at. This prevents it from numbing your tongue, and because it is so dense, it doesn’t seem to melt that quickly. Perfect!

Do not confuse real frozen custard with soft serve ice cream. Soft serve is just an imposter, usually with a high amount of overrun and totally artificial flavors. Avoid it!

The Milwaukee area is loaded with real frozen custard joints. My personal fave is Kopps, simply because I grew up on it. They always carry vanilla and chocolate, then two flavors of the day. (My favorite flavor of the day? Caramel cashew– it has loads of real cashews.) My mom practically swears by the chocolate malts at Gilles Frozen Custard (she is the biggest chocolate malt aficionado I know) — she said it has the most malt flavor of any of the custard stands. Leon’s is the classic stand where Bill Clinton visited. (Where has he not eaten?) If you are outside the Milwaukee area, Culvers will do if you need to get a fix, (they are a chain that started in Wisconsin) but I don’t find their custard nearly as good as other Milwaukee-only joints. (But I dig those burgers!)

Speaking of which, the burgers at Kopps are not so shabby either. And you gotta love that the fried onions, ketchup, mustard and relish are free condiments, while all the veggies like lettuce and tomato cost extra. Why try to dress up a butter burger with healthy stuff? Honesty is delicious.

Which one, which one?

My all-time fave: vanilla at Kopps

Wikipedia: Frozen custard
Kopps Frozen Custard
Gilles Frozen Custard
Wikipedia: Leon’s Frozen Custard

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