49 day Vegetarian

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The past couples of weeks, and months, my family has had a hard go at things.  Thank you to all our friends and family that have offered a tremendous amount of support.

As a result of the recent events, I am now vegetarian for at least 49 days.  I thought it would be difficult, because every other time I tried to go vegetarian I gave in to the glory that is meat.  This time, however, wasn’t so bad.  Perhaps it was the purpose behind it.  Nonetheless, the first week went by, I lived on tofu and veggies.  I realized how boring this was and did some research for some delicious, creative vegetarian food and found this by the Picky Cook.  I modified it a little bit, because I was scared of it being too spicy, and had to work with what I had left in my mostly packed up kitchen.

Hello! From Vietnam

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Just a quick up date in Vietnam.

While in Saigon we stayed at Villa Anh Tho on Vuon Chuoi street. There’s so much hustle and bustle there, that it was great to wake up and grab a banh mi thit sandwich and eat it with a morning cup or cafe sua da.

It’s been busy for us jetsetting and driving all over Vietnam. Here’s a quick look at what our itinerary has been like.

Landed in Saigon Fri, January 6.
Jan 6-8: Saigon
Jan 9: Hai Phong (where my family resides) & Nam Dinh (where my family is from and where the family shrine is)
Jan 10: Ha Long Bay
Jan 11: Ha Noi
Jan 12: Ha Noi and will make our way to Nha Trang
Jan 12-15: Nha Trang
Jan 16: Saigon
Jan 17-18: Dong Nai, Long Thanh (where my brothers currently reside

6 days into the trip and there’s still so much to do, see and eat.

Superlust: it’s a gratifying problem

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With holidays approaching, MY FAVORITE TIME OF THE YEAR, there are several things I have been lusting for, and all these deals aren’t making it any easier.

I took advantage of Sephora’s Friends & Family deal, Kate Spade 75% off sale, and Victoria’s Secret free shipping.

I had been LUSTING over Zara’s sequinned skirt for-EVER!

Zara's Sequinned Miniskirt

and found this on VS

Victoria's Secret Sequinned Skirt

$50 less, SCORE! but, when I saw this as well.. I wanted MORE!!

Victoria's Secret Scalloped Sequinned Skirt

I lusted over these things for several weeks, before taking the plunge when VS Free Ship [offer code: SHIP50VS] and $30 off $150 [offer code: 30off150] caught my eye.  Throw in ebates, and I breathed a sigh of content/relief as I got what I wanted and saved a little in the process.

Superlust. the thing that makes me happy, and the thing that makes me feel guilty. C’mon, I could put that money to good use in a savings account for emergencies, a new car when mine craps out, soon, or for that future house that I know I’ve been LUSTING after.  My superlust sure is gratifying! but let’s face it, I better harness it in, or I’ll never have the security in my future.

If BF reads this. Don’t worry, I’m still within budget 😀

The Purple Pig

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Someone recommended this place prior to arriving in Chicago.  While in Chicago my friend texted me while she was on her way to class “go eat at Purple Pig for lunch and then have some Garrett’s popcorn”.  Two recommendations for the place? I’m in!

The place has a communal style setting.  Large tables where you can find several separate groups sitting together.  Groups sharing several small plates.  My favorite, I like to try a little bit of everything! 4 people,  7 plates, and only $80 bucks later we were good to go.  Not stuffed, but that good 80% full that you should really be at. :9

Personally, one of my all time favorite restaurants.  Definitely my favorite in Chicago and highly recommend it.

The Purple Pig

Salt-Roasted Beets with Whipped Goat Cheese and Pistachio Vinaigrette; Corn Tomato Pesto Salad

The beets were tender, and the corn tomato salad was like ‘summer in your mouth’ as are fantastic waitress put it.

Pig's Ear with Crispy Kale, Pickled Cherry Peppers & Fried Egg

So crispy, perfect blend of pig’s ear, kale, and peppers.  We broke the yolk over the crispy counterparts, and I enjoyed every morsel of it.

Roasted Bone Marrow with Herbs

Bone marrow spread on some crusty bread, fresh herbs, and the distinct taste of capers.  I loved it! Had to try hard to contain myself and not look like a starving person in front of all the civilized people.

Milk-Braised Pork Shoulder with Mashed Potatoes

So tender, so creamy.

Octopus with Green Beans, Fingerling Potaoes & Salsa Verde

I love octopus, I love green beans, I love Fingerling Potatoes and salsa verde.  This plate was so refreshing and the octopus wasn’t too chewy.  Just, well… perfect.

Turkey Leg with Endives and Lentils

If we weren’t full already (and we weren’t really full) this topped us off.  The perfectly tender and juicy turkey leg paired with the crisp lentils and endives were a fantastic combination.

The service from our waitress was phenomenal.  She actually recommended all those dishes to us, and was quick with service but not over bearing.  The ambiance is casual but you can tell thought was put into putting the restaurant together.  Everyone is friendly, but I think friendliness comes as a requirement to live in Chicago.

I hope I didn’t over-hype this place.  Regardless, it’s definitely worth a stop-by while you’re in Chicago.

Happy Eating!

Right back in it

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Sept 18, 2011: 2hr 56mins

On Sept 9, 2010, I got ACL surgery to replace my torn up mess in the left knee.  A little after one year, I completed my first half marathon.  A whole lot slower than I anticipated, but thankful that I finished at all.

Power Song: Be A Man -From Mulan
Finishing Song: Hakuna Matata -From Lion King

Both very appropriate songs to finish off my half marathon. (Yes, I like to listen to disney songs while I run, they’re soo upbeat and cheery)

Chicago Eats: Part 2

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no clever title. 🙂

We didn’t have much on the agenda for the second day.  Wake up, take care of personal agendas, check into hotel.  The weather started off nice, but Chicago weather, for me, is sooo unpredictable! One minute the sun is shining, then the wind is blowing you hair around your neck, then the rain is soaking through your sweater.

in The Loop

Anyways, we walked around downtown Chicago, or The Loop, then when we got everyone together again, it was about that time again… EAT TIME!!

she was just.. there

We were hungry! and had this one spot on our list, that my lil also recommended. So we made our way to THE PURPLE PIG.  and on the way ran into Marilyn Monroe, is she from there or something? Anyways, The Purple Pig, oh man, words could not describe, my favorite place by far.  A European tapas place, ‘cheese, swine, & wine’. But we sampled so much there, that I will review the place in a separate post.  SOON, I promise.

The Purple Pig

From there we looked around for some GARRET’S POPCORN, delicious, no picture.  Tip: don’t buy a large bag, a small or medium will be fine to share, unless you REALLLY LOVE it that much.  Then we made our way to Navy Pier in the blustering wind.  I thought I knew blustering wind, but this windy spell was as insane as any other wind I’ve experienced.  Guess they don’t call it the Windy City for nothing.  When we go to the Navy Pier, we walked around, and then I remembered.. CHURRO FACTORY!!  There was supposed to be a location there somewhere… and then we spotted it!! but it was closed =( but then there was a sign for another location… which was open.. SCORE!!!

Navy Pier

We ordered the churritos.  They were good, but maybe b/c of the cold rain, I didn’t think they were fantastic.  I like them soft in the inside and crisp and sugary on the out.  These didn’t seem that warm.  or maybe it cooled down too much while I was busy taking pictures. Yikes! but definitely worth it if you’re in the area :9

After the wet cold rain, decided to head back to the hotel.  While sitting on the bus I heard “WOW BAO” and then I said, “now or never”, without realizing what was going on or even what WOW BAO was.  We jumped off the bus and ended up at WOW BAO, I guess you can describe it as a fast food asian bao restaurant.  We got some dumpling noodle soup, 2 bao combo with thai spicy noodles, and homemade pomgranate gingerale.

Wow Bao spread

I was deathly full when I ate that, had to unbutton the button of my pants.  Don’t judge.

Finally, made it back to the hotel and napped.  When we woke it was time for dinner!  CAFE IBERICO, here we come!  A Spanish tapas place, my favorite kind of place! We shared a bunch of things, so this will also warrant their own review.

Cafe Iberico & Sangria

After stuffing ourselves silly, we walked to the SIGNATURE LOUNGE at the John Hancock Building.  We enjoyed the view, and A DRINK (they’re a tad bit pricey), we relaxed, then headed back.  Of course, not without stopping by a local bar, STREETER’s.  They had beer pong and LIFE SIZE JENGA! but we didn’t play, just had a shot and went our merry way.

Signature Lounge view

On the subway we always saw this “talk to operator”sign, and joked about chatting to the operator… yah it’s probably only funny to the folks that were there, but that’s okay.

Talk to Operator

Chicago Eats: Hands on

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Our last minute trip found us on a 6:55am PST flight to Chicago.  With McD’s in our tummies we relaxed, chatted, watched tv, and listened to music during the 4 hr flight on Virgin America.

4 hours of flying later o.O needless to say, we were ready to eat as soon as we touched down.  We freshened up, bought our CTA 3 day unlimited passes and made our journey to SMOQUE BBQ.

Rib Combo - Half Slab Baby Back Ribs, Half Slab St. Louis Ribs, choice of 2 sides; photo courtesy of D

I liked that their menu isn’t extensive, makes me feel like their is a delicious focus going on in there, and there is.  We wanted to try everything, but opted for the combo, with french fries, cole slaw, and mac & cheese.  French fries were crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, loved them! Don’t know if I can say that I’ve ever had french fries like this before.  Not that I’ve never had crisp french fries, but I can’t really describe how these french fries tasted, but they were delicious.  Mac & Cheese had a nice cruncy top and then it just melted it your mouth.  Cole Slaw was light and fresh, definitely preferred this as opposed to the generic stuff you find.  I dove into the ribs before I could decide which was which.  Both were delicious, one was a little meatier (I think it was the baby back ribs).  and whatever BBQ sauce they gave us was GOOOOOD.  I’m not a huge BBQ sauce fan, but I could’ve eaten this all day.

We made our way into Downtown Chicago, and did a little touristy photo session at the Bean at Millenium Park.  We were having so much fun at the bean, that we often forgot that our luggage was sitting somewhere behind us.  Thank goodness everyone in Chicago is sooooo NICE!

Playing with the Bean @ Millenium Park. Those 4 folks lined up are us trying a jumping picture

After fun with the bean, we finally settled down at our friend’s place that’s studying in Chicago. [BIG THANKS to our hostesses!!!]

From there we made our way to Wrigley Field.  How could you go to Chicago and not go to Wrigley Field?!  I love the feel of the stadium, embodies all that is baseball.  I don’t know what the stadium looked like in 1914, but I could imagine that it hasn’t changed much.

food searching

me hopping down the steps

Wrigley Field

Wrigly Field Scoreboard outside. They won this game 6-3

We ate, we cheered, we laughed, met other Giants fans, made friends with Cubs fans, and then we were hungry again.  Surprised? We did a quick search for another spot on the list: Giordano’s. Bout half a mile walking distance? PERFECT!  We got in there ordered, stuffed ourselves silly (after only one slice) and then tried to stay awake from food coma as we made our way back home.

Giordano's

Giordano's large Special, hold the bell peppers...

Free Breaded Mushrooms with any order of a large deep dish! September Deal

The pizza was good and satisfying, but not the best in my book.  It’s very cheese heavy, lots of mozzarella.  I love my mozzarella, but too much makes my stomache feel so heavy, and a little painful.  The crust, however, was delcious.  Not your ordinary pizza crust.  It was very flaky, reminded me of a good pastry crust.  I also loved the fresh garlic that was baked on top.  The breaded mushrooms, which we almost missed the deal on, was pretty good.  I love mushrooms, so how could I go wrong?  The breaded mushrooms must’ve been baked, b/c they weren’t oily.  I would’ve kept snacking away on them if I wasn’t so stuffed with cheese.

Coincidentally enough, all of the things we ate, required us to eat with our hands.  Okay, so I cheated a bit and used a knife and fork to get started on the deep dish.  I honestly don’t know what I’d be doing in Chicago if I weren’t going to all these places to eat.