WASHINGTON DC: OYAMEL, THE ART GALLERY


The girls and I flew to Washington via Porter, from Billy Bishop Airport in Toronto. As our flight was at 6:45 AM, we decided to be smart and efficient with time and meet the night before to catch the last ferry - then simply wait at the airport for 6-7 hours before the flight. 

 
The Thinker, The Kiss, Cupid on a Dolphin

Nydia, the Blind Girl of Pompeii

Little did we know, "the airport closes from 12 to 5, and you are not allowed to stay during that time," said the ferry attendant to us. 

If I was the swinging girl...
The Swing, Jean Honore Fragonard

So did we have to go back home and then come back to the ferry at 5 AM for the first ferry? Nope. Instead, we spent the 6-7 hours waiting at a Tim Horton's nearby - which had food and Wi-Fi, or the two basic necessities of our lives. 

Mom can you teach me?

A Painter's Studio, Louis-Leopold Boilly

It was a long night, neither of the four of us got any sleep. But were replenished after the less than 2 hour flight and hour long ride from the Washington Dulles Airport to the place we would be staying at in Washington.

Sire, your bubble blowing is magnificent

Soap Bubbles, Jean Simeon Chardin

On the first day, we hit my favorite sightseeing place - the art gallery. While one girl and I fell in love with the paintings (that seemed it would be impossible to look through even if we were given a day's time), the two other girls took a nice nap on one of the many benches placed in the viewing galleries.

David Triumphant

After several seeing other monumental-like buildings, we finished our long day filled with walking and picture-taking with a dinner at Oyamel.

Yay we're here!

So if you've read my blog before, I was obsessed with watching anything "Anthony Bourdain" for quite some time. And decided it would be a good idea to eat at where he recommended. And it was a very good idea indeed.

One of José Andrés' many restaurants, Oyamel delivers tapas style mexican food. We begin with an almost mandatory dish that everyone orders:

Guacamole: made right before your eyes, with green tomatillo, serrano chile, crumbled queso fresco, and a basket of fresh tortilla chips.

I don't like chips very much, no matter what kind they are, but the guacamole and queso fresco pairing just made the tortilla irresistible. After eating the spicy, tangy, and rich guacamole here, it will be difficult to enjoy it anywhere else. Hands down, this was the perfect start to the rest of the meal.

Cayo en aquachile: bay scallops with a sauce of cucumber, lime and serrano, served with freshno chiles, pickled red onions and mint. 

Though there seems to be chiles sprinkled all throughout, it is pleasant to eat. The mint, cucumber and lime makes this ceviche a great palette cleanser for your next dish:

Col de bruselas estilo San Quintin: crispy brussel sprouts with a chile de arbol sauce, pumpkin seeds, peanuts and lime.

The vegetable dish recommended to us by our server did not fail to please. The sauce again, is spicy, tangy, and sweet all at once. The brussel sprouts are grilled until caramelized with the sauce, and crunchy with the addition of the seeds and nuts. The typically unpleasant taste present in brussel sprouts was nary present even after eating the entire plate.

Quesadilla en chicharonnes: pasture-raised Rock Hollow Farms pork belly fried until crisp and served in a house made tortilla with Chihuahua cheese and a sauce of five chiles.

I would have enjoyed this more if the pork was less crispy because it was nearing the edge of dry, if it weren't for the spicy-sweet sauce, and unique mix of melted cheese. The soft tortilla was definitely a hit though - it was so different from the kinds supermarkets sell prepacked that I'm doubting whether or not I can still refer to the store bought kinds as tortilla. Oh yes and the sauce kept the tortilla nice and warm (the cheese nice and gooey). This was also a recommendation from our server.

Acelgas con nuez de Castilla: Sauté of swiss chard, cabbage, shallots, toasted hazelnuts, dried cranberries and raisins with a spiced apricot purée, topped with pickled swiss chard.

A salad of cooked vegetables made into what almost could pass for dessert because of the sweet sauce and dried fruits. The spiciness is what keeps this dish from floating over under the dessert menu. Having never thought to saute vegetables on the sweet instead of savoury side, I might just have to try this at home the next time I go to the farmer's market and pick up colorful swiss chard and cabbage. 

Gorditas de pato: House-made masa cakes topped with Hudson Valley duck confit and salsa chile árbol and served with a relish of local peaches, habanero and piloncillo 

Delicious. This was our last plate, and we ended up ending this meal on a very spicy note. Staying on this restaurant's sweet and spicy trend, the duck confit did not disappoint. The fruity sweetness was refreshing and a taste that we all appreciated amidst the heat of the chiles. The masa cakes were a bit tough to cut through but the generous portion of duck meat to masa cake, topped with a warm blackberry, really hit the spot.











P/S

I'm missing my school friends already. Spending time with family is great, but I do miss cooking for the girls every night, and how they always like whatever I cook up for dinner.



 The Seine at Giverny, The Japanese Footbridge, Monet

In exchange, I now have plenty of time to bake because I have all my entire baking materials ready in the kitchen *yay*

 
A Game of Horse and Rider, Jean Honore Fragonard

My first bake since co-op was a soft fluffy chiffon cake for a friend's birthday the other day, which will be in a post after Washington, with a recipe!

Come back soon for the rest of our Washington trip!

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RECIPE: COOKIES AND CREAM MOUSSE

Three of my girlfriends and I spent a three days two night trip in Washington, DC - where I discovered my love for art galleries and taking lots of pictures. To the point where my friends started to seem rather distressed at my frequent pauses to take pictures.

All of us came to the consensus that the highlight of our trip was the two dinners we had after a long day of walking and sightseeing. But more on those two dinners in another post!



It was my brother's ninth birthday a few weeks ago and he specifically requested an OREO CAKE. He also said he wanted the type of cakes that have pieces of oreos on top, with icing and all. In other words, he wanted the kind of cakes you see in supermarkets, those iced with a thick layer of sweet sugary frosting covering a dense crumbly layer cake.

I used a oreo cookie that is typically used to make icebox (no bake) cake. It is a less dense oreo cookie without the layer of icing. This way the cookie base is less sweet, since I used sweetened shredded coconut. 


But that's not the kind of cakes I make. And it's not the kind of cakes we like to eat in our family. I stuck with his Oreo request and made a cake that we would all enjoy:

An oreo-coconut cookie base
A light vanilla bean cream and oreo mousse

And here is a no fuss recipe for the cookie base:
Equal ratios of crushed icing-less oreo cookie and sweetened shredded coconut
Half ratio of melted butter, mixed with the dry crumbs, pressed onto the bottom of any springform pan or lined cake ring.

A mousse recipe will have to wait as it requires many steps and I'm not down for explaining all of that here right now. But you can easily adapt any vanilla mousse recipe and add crushed oreo cookies to make a cookies and cream mousse!













P/S

It's the labour day long weekend! And here I am home on a Saturday morning/afternoon, waiting for my mom to come home so we can do our weekly grocery shopping and replenish the fridge and pantry.

Our first meal in Washington DC was from McDonalds

What else do I have on my long weekend list of things to do? (I just happened to come up with one this moment) Well let me tell you now:

I want to live in a pink castle like this one

1. Upload the many many pictures I need to post up on my blog
2. Bake some more
3. Blog some more

Wishing a happy back to school to those going back this Tuesday!

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HOME SWEET HOME

The couple of days where I leave Waterloo and go home for the weekends are filled with food, lack of sleep, and zero homework/assignment accomplishment.


Pre-bbq food

I always come back to my excited mommy telling me what foods she recently stocked up in our fridge that awaits me. One week it was camembert and duck liver pate from a European supermarket.

The crusty, and soft baguette


No bbq here is complete unless there are satays

Marinated quickly in a mix of fish sauce, soy sauce, ginger powder and sugar, it is still a plain canvas after grilled  - perfect for dipping in a variety of sauces before you eat them.

Another week was my turn to stock the fridge with a hearty serving of brie from the farmer's market because of my mom's love for baked brie (with honey this time).

With a side of crispy lemon honey chicken

Home is always sweet when it comes with an after dinner dessert:

banana muffin / banana bread / banana cake

I make them with whipped yolks and whipped whites so they can be called cakes.













P/S

The waterfall like glaze of sugar

Krispy Kreme had a buy one dozen get the second dozen for 11 cents promotion one Friday. So we bought two dozen and I ate two on the spot. Two the next day, and two the day after that.

Happy Wednesday my dear readers - we're halfway there (to the weekend)!

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MINI CROQUEMBOUCHE

I would not try to claim that I excel at cooking, but I am rather confident in the kitchen. A particular area in which I can confidently say that I am horrible is my sense of direction.


When one of my girlfriends and I are together, we turn into Dumb and Dumber. In addition to a decreased sense of direction which is already rather absent, our common sense tends to evaporate when the two of us are alone. 

Filled with chestnut puree

After leaving our friends house one day to go grocery shopping, I attempted to cross the intersection, but she insisted that the direction Sobeys (the grocery store) was on the current side of the street and to the left. So I listened to her, believing that my sense of direction was incorrect as usual. 


But it didn't feel right, and I had us stop and cross the lights because it turns out that both of us were wrong! Not only did we have to cross the lights, we also had to walk towards the right side. Yet in the moment, we were both so sure that ourselves were going the right way...

In the kitchen, I doubt less and become so much surer of my choices. Which is a good thing since the duration of my days are split amongst spending time 1. doing assignments, studying, 2. going to the gym, or 3. cooking in the kitchen.

Well here is a dessert I am sure of. You can make it with just three components:


~ Ingredients ~

Creampuffs
Pastry cream or pudding
Chocolate


~ Method ~

Getting puffier

I
Fill your cream puffs / profiteroles with the pastry cream or pudding using a pastry tip until its full. Put them in the fridge so the filling sets and doesn't soak into the puff (making them soggy you don't want soggy puffs right?)

Alternatively, you can buy frozen pre-filled profiteroles (like the ones that come in a big tub from Costco)

I piped chocolate pudding into raspberries before chocolating them onto the croquembouche

II
Divide your cream puffs into a plate of pretty ones and not so pretty ones (like people, you know that there will always be ones that are less good looking, but you never want to be the first to say it. But now you can discriminate the ugly ones, point them out, and say it out loud.)

Lack of natural lighting in the kitchen

III
Arrange a layer of 6-8 puffs in a circle on a plate, then attach more puffs on top with melted chocolate, using one or two less puffs for each additional layer. Save the nicer looking ones for the top layers.

Is it secure?

IV
Decorate with fruit, whipping cream, nuts, sprinkles...

Eat them, using scissors to cut off each puff if needed.













P/S


We had grilled pork belly one day at a Korean restaurant. I made green tea mousse cake one day to eat with the girls.




Green tea mousse, red bean agar jelly



Dear readers, it's Summerlicious in Toronto from July 4 - 20!

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