Sunday, December 27, 2009
9254 Scranton Rd
San Diego, CA 92121
Every year Boyfriend will buy some treats for my family for Christmas and I do the same for his. After my last visit to Opera Patisserie, I found a lot of mini treats in their catalog that would make great gifts and filed it away as potential gift giving ideas.
This year for Christmas, Boyfriend bought my parents a box of mini madeleines, some assorted Christmas mini treats and some cream puffs from Opera Patisserie.
The Christmas assorted minis and cream puffs were so pretty and festive.
There were seven flavors of cream puffs (pictured in the top right): Hazelnut, Pistachio, Chocolate,Grand Marnier, Coffee, Raspberry, Vanilla. I loved the ones decorated with sugar flowers. These are some of the cutest treats I've ever seen.
The Christmas minis consists of the following desserts: Pistachio Yule Log, Pumpkin Cheesecake, Dark Chocolate Yule Log, Apple Cinnamon Pie, Raspberry Yule Log, Pecan Pie. These bite sized desserts were cute and the perfect size to allow you to sample quite a few different desserts. I think my favorite was the pistachio yule log.
The mini madeleines come in a pack of 36.
The flavors are pistachio, banana, chocolate, raspberry, coffee and vanilla. Despite how cute the cakes were, I was quite disappointed with them. Rather than tasting like a cookie, these were really wet and moist. They were like little cakes. I'm used to the insides of madeleines being like a cake,but the outside should be like a cookie in my experience.
The treats were devoured by my family within a few days. If you are interested in ordering from Opera Patisserie, you can find their desserts on the website. You simply need to place an order the day before.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
One of my biggest regrets since starting this food blog is that I didn't start it earlier. Since starting this blog, I haven't done any traveling. I haven't even left the state, whereas last year I went to Taiwan and Hawaii and other fun places. So when Boyfriend told me he was going to the Philippines for vacation, while I was sad to part with him for so many weeks, I was excited that my blog could be filled with his adventures from the Philippines.
And when I realized that Baby Bro's girlfriend ("BBG"), who often joins us on our food adventures in SD, was going on her trip to Taiwan, I asked her to take pictures and share her food experiences with us. Despite being busy eating and documenting almost everything in sight, she has already managed to send me a post from Taiwan that she wrote up while on the plane. While there arent too many pictures to share with you yet, I hope you enjoy her Taiwan journal series. I've taken a sneak peek of her pictures so far and there's lot of great stuff to come!
And so begins, the
faithful journal of my food and other interesting adventures of my trip to (and
Every winter break, I faithfully make a trip to Taiwan to celebrate
two events (of note), visit most of my relatives (only two currently reside in
the CA/US — spouses non-inclusive), and also stay with my parents and brother.
Those two events that I celebrate would be my grandpa's [??] birthday (Dec 24) and New Year's (Jan 1). Christmas is not really
on this list because I'm not sure we really do anything for Christmas here, and
we usually just have a big party for my grandpa's birthday. This year, my
mom has told me that she reserved a table on the 25th at the restaurant on the
top of Taipei 101 to celebrate his birthday, so you can be sure I'll have an accounting of my experiences
there! My mom tells me that it will cost at $30+ for an entrée there, so I'll
be having high expectations!
Anyways, going on,
here are some notes about my entries. In pictures of menus and places (like in
bakeries), there will often be a price associated with each dish/thing (of
course). These prices will be in NT, or New Taiwan Dollars. Google uses the
abbreviation TWD, or Taiwan Dollar. I will be using the abbreviation NT in my
entries. For reference, the going rate of conversion (if you do not wish to use
Google or other calculators) of 1 USD is 32.3781771 NT – basically around 30 NT
for easy calculation. Also, I will probably often write in Chinese characters
when referring to my relatives (as you saw above) or talking about foods here.
These characters will be consistently placed in brackets like so . It will
probably be helpful in understanding what foods I am talking about because I
will admit my English translations will most likely not be the best. And please
do not take all my given facts as… facts. I cannot guarantee my accuracy. :X
And that should
cover all my introductory bases to my following posts. Now to continue…
Day 0: Flying
December 21, 2009
My family is a
faithful EVA Air
customer. Consequently, for my trip to Taiwan, I flew EVA Air. My trip was
from SFO (San Francisco International Airport) to TPE (Taoyuan International
Airport), a flight that is about 13 hours. My flight left SFO at 12:05 am on
Dec 21, and I arrived in TPE at 5:59 am local time, Dec 22 (I lost a day ).
As you can see, I got to Taiwan ready to start a productive day.
since this entry is supposed to be about my airline flight, I had the
opportunity to fly Elite class, or the equivalent Deluxe class from the old EVA
Air planes. I believe EVA Air got new airplanes a couple years ago, and in my
opinion, the new ones are a lot better. The old ones are still in service,
but I would definitely recommend flying the new planes. Perks of the new
Even the economy class get their own personal TVs. The
old planes only had crowded seats (not that the new plane's economy seats
aren't crowded… you get my drift). Each personal TV comes with movies,
games, cool options to see out the front of the plane, SMS and email for a
fee, etc. Basically convenience galore.
- Feels a bit like there's
bigger seats in general. But don't take my word for it. :X
- Elite and Premium Laurel
get AC outlets to use. Great for charging your laptop or whatever fun
device you're using on the plane if you're not sleeping or watching TV.
Not sure about economy, but I think there aren't outlets. Once again,
don't take my word. :X I haven't ridden in economy in the new planes
- Premium Laurel seats can
lie aaaaaaaaaaaaaaalll the way down. Well, the seats recline 180 degrees
although the whole seat is slightly slanted so if you sleep, you tend to
slide down toward the foot. And they get their own reading lamp. And a
giant space in the back of the seat to store stuff. And noise-cancellation
earphones. And other cool stuff including three-course meals. Not that
clear at remembering how it compared with the Business class in the old
planes. But definitely cooler. and newer. Oh, and if you fly
Business/Premium Laurel, you can pre-order your meals online here for a better selection.
- No more climbing up and
down stairs when visiting people in Deluxe and Economy from Business and
First like in the old planes. Everything is on one floor now.
I think that's all
that comes to mind of importance/interest about the EVA Air planes.
Unfortunately, it didn't occur to me to take pictures of the plane and stuff
until later as you will see (the pictures on than the congee in this post are provided by Kirbie's Boyfriend, who had a stopover in Taipei along the way to the Philippines and also flew Eva), but I'll probably take some when I go on my flight
back, so you guys can see. It should also be on a new plane (I hope). Now
onto the food!
About an hour into
the flight (I think, pretty hazy about times since I mainly slept the whole
time I wasn't eating), they served a.. midnight dinner course, I suppose it
could be called, considering it was about 2 am California time. I had the
choice of chicken or beef, and I chose chicken because my reasoning was that
the airline couldn't really ruin chicken cooking it, could they? As you can
probably tell from my phrasing, I am not a big fan of airplane food, except
maybe if I sit in Business/Premium Laurel when they serve you real food on real
plates. But in general, my experience is that the entrée just tastes like
over-microwaved food. On the other hand, my boyfriend (Kirbie's Baby Brother)
raves about airplane food all the time and think it's the best thing in the
world. He always tells me to pack up the airplane food and give it to him since
I don't want it usually. I think he's crazy. >_>
Anyhow, back to my
chicken midnight dinner. Like I said before, I forgot to take a picture of the
tray, but you can just look at the picture of my breakfast tray further down in
the post and imagine what it looked like. My main entrée consisted of chicken
cooked in some soy sauce-like paste with bellpeppers along with rice and
veggies. My review: chicken was well cooked and very juicy, the sauce for it
was way too salty, the rice is over-microwaved (or whatever they do to heat it
up), and the veggies are quite over-cooked and bland. For the entrée, about the
only good thing I can say about it is that the quality of the chicken was good,
which allowed me to actually consume all chicken by picking it out and wiping
the terrible sauce on my rice. What can I say..
I took a glance at
my.. seatmate's (? I sat in the aisle seat next to a window seat. I'm referring
to the girl who sat in the window seat next to me, if that makes any sense)
tray since she ordered the beef tray. I saw that the entrée consisted of mash potatoes,
beef, and veggies. Not sure how good that was, but I do not believe that she
finished it either. By the way, the side dishes were the same as mine. Only
the entrées varied.
As for the side
dishes arranged across the top, from left to right, I received a packet of Oreo
cookies; a fruit bowl of honeydew, cantaloupe, and watermelon; and some kind of
weird salad consisting of a leaf (?) of lettuce with chopped up blocks of something
mushy (I think vegetables) and a rolled up slice of ham. Oreos were delicious
as usual, the fruit was fresh and sweet, and the salad… I ate the ham (it was
good), but I ate a bite of the chopped of bits of stuff, couldn't detect a
flavor, and stopped eating it. >_> Let's just say I'm a somewhat picky
eater (though I do eat most stuff even if it's terrible. ) and I am quite
happy leaving things on my plate. For drinks, I received a dinky little
glass of apple juice that was not enough to quench my thirst induced by the
salty sauce on the chicken (regardless of what I wiped off), although I do
believe that the flight attendant offered another round of drinks when she came
around collecting the finished trays. Then, there was the bread as usual with
butter. However, in my opinion, the butter they gave on this flight tasted
nasty. Taking a close look at the top, it said it consisted of something like
40% vegetable oil and 20% sweet cream butter? Basically, it was not very good
butter IMHO. Blech.
So after this
meal, I went to sleep since I watched all the movies offered on the flight and
the games weren't very interesting in my opinion. Off the top of the head, I
think the movies they offered included G.I. Joe, Up, Funny People, The Goods,
that hamster movie I don't know the name of, the movie with Johnny Depp and
lots of shooting… you get the idea. There were some Christmas movies too
like Elf. And a wide selection of Asian movies. But like I said, didn't really
want to watch anything they offered so I went to sleep until maybe 11 am-ish
Pacific Time. I woke up a lot because it was quite uncomfortable trying to
sleep lying in a seat. It helped that the back of the seat tilted and there was
a foot rest, but still a pretty uncomfortable experience overall. It felt like
I dozed in half-hour segments, waking up to turn into a new position. EVA Air
offers a blanket and a small pillow for every passenger, so I was warm at
When I woke at
11-ish, about an hour later or two hours before landing, they offered a
breakfast. I received a choice of congee or an omelette, and I chose the
congee. Having recalled the omelette from previous tasting, the congee is a
much better choice. Let's just say eggs and over-microwaving are not a good
mix. >_> KBB (my boyfriend, Kirbie's Baby Brother) is most enthusiastic
about this meal. He claims that this is the best tasting congee ever, and when
he has the opportunity, he keeps attempting to replicate this airline feat of
perfection (according to him). As one can probably predict, he has failed in
every attempt to far. I can say this honestly since I have had to eat every
try. But anyways, I think… that this time the congee was pretty good. This
time, I remembered to take a picture!
As one can see,
the congee looked to be tasty. It was. The shrimp was delectable, and you
can't go wrong with mushrooms! (I am a mushroom lover — any kind, any way. )
The sides were, left to right: fruit (grapefruit, pineapple, orange), sliced
cucumber with jellyfish, and cabbage (I think) with bacon. Honestly, I'm not
that good with Asian veggies, so I'm really just guessing here. >_> So if
you see a generic name like "cabbage" or "some type of Asian
vegetable," I'm probably not really that sure what it really is. :X But
going on, fruit was delish (as I think Kirbie says it), cucumber didn't really
have a flavor but was still quite crispy and good, and the cabbage/bacon mix
was not the best but quite edible. On the side, we can see the bread with
butter. For drinks, I got both the little glass of apple juice and a cup of
coffee. You can kind of see the cream and sugar under the cup in the picture. Nothing bad there, except for the butter like I said before.
And that ends my
food/experience journal entry for the plane flight to Taiwan. If anyone was
interested, for the rest of the flight I believe I was reading an ebook on my
Next entry will be
covering my noteworthy experiences in the TPE airport and consequent
expeditions with my parents on the same day. Happy reading!
Saturday, December 26, 2009
I’ve never eaten a gingerbread man up until a few days ago. Whenever I tell people that, they never seem to believe me. For Christmas, Little Sis got some beautifully decorated gingerbread cookies from one of her coworkers. They were so pretty and I was so excited to finally try one. I had an idea of one should taste like. I imagined a crunchy cookie, with some spices. Unfortunately, the cookie I tasted didn’t taste anything like what I was expecting.
So I decided to make my own gingerbread men, in hopes of finding a recipe closer to the cookie I had imagined. I used a recipe I found on Family Circle Magazine that looked fairly simple to whip together.
The dough smelled of molasses as I was preparing it. I had a lot of fun cutting out the gingerbread shapes. I’ve seen people do snowflakes, stars, christmas trees, etc. But I really wanted to do gingerbread men. Then I found some cookie cutters for gingerbread babies and gingerbread woman, and decided to use those as well. I could do a whole family!
When I tasted my first fresh baked cookie, it was exactly how I imagined gingerbread would taste. Crunchy, spicy, with a bit more kick than other spice cookies like molasses cookies or ginger snaps.
After gobbling a couple, I needed to figure out how to decorate my gingerbread family! I scoured the internet for images of gingerbread men. I wanted something simple. But also cute. I wanted my gingerbread family to have faces. After much research, I even had Boyfriend draw up some preliminary sketches. Then I finally settled in on some designs.
I’m really happy with how my gingerbread family turned out. I was so excited to eat them after I decorated them. And then something happened. I don’t know exactly what. But when I went to choose one to eat, I couldn’t do it! They stared up at me with their smiling faces, and I couldn’t bear to choose one and bite into it.
After much debating, I finally took one, and turned it face down and started to eat it. But guilt washed over me with every bite and I wasn’t able to enjoy the gingerbread cookie at all! I’m not sure why I had this reaction. I have no problem eating other cute things like gummy bears, panda cookies, etc.
Next time I make these, I’ll have to make sure not to decorate them all so that I have some I can munch on.
Gingerbread family cookies (from Family Circle Magazine)
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup original molasses
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg,
then molasses. Stir flour mixture into butter mixture. Divide dough
into 2 halves. Wrap; chill 2 hours.
3. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. On a well-floured surface, roll half
of dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut shapes with assorted-sized
gingerbread cookie cutters; transfer to ungreased baking sheets.
Reroll scraps together and then cut shapes again. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
4. Bake at 350 F degrees for 13 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks to cool.