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Friday Favorites, Vol. 2

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(Clearly this won’t be a completely regular weekly feature. But still! There are great things in the world, and I have to share them with the internet.)

  • Manic Pixie Prostitute (“I wrote you a song on this…midget guitar!” Well done, GP, who sent me this link on my first day back at work in 2013.)
  • Downton Abbey merch on Fab! And just in time for season 3 to start, if you haven’t already caught it through a generous friend’s Dropbox.
  • Julep’s Maven program. I love me some nail polish (and am toying with the idea of a more “polished” 2013– as in more regular self-manicures, as my collection grows), and I love getting my monthly supply of invariably awesome shades.
  • New noise-canceling headphones, which are a godsend at work, as they make it clear that I’m wearing headphones (when I would wear earbuds, people would come to my cube and just start talking as I yanked them out of my ears) and allow me to successfully ignore 90% of the conversations that filter into my workspace (you have offices! Go talk in there!). I’m sure they’ll come in handy on our upcoming trip to Hong Kong and Thailand, too.
  • A shrimp succotash dinner, which was a wonderfully fresh way to ease out of the overindulgence of December. Yes, it will be better in the summer when produce is more abundant and actually in season, but we still wolfed it down.
  • A new calendar, sitting pretty on my office wall (discontinued online, but found in a Japantown stationery shop). Ahh, letterpress.

What’s making you happy during this first week of 2013?


#1: Eat at a Michelin-starred restaurant

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I was lucky enough during the holidays (barely a couple weeks after I’d originally created and posted it) to begin checking items off my 30 Before 30 list. The first one to be completed was, completely coincidentally, the first one, to eat at at a Michelin-starred restaurant. The criteria for this particular one was a bit arbitrary, even if the Michelin guides are pretty reputable: there are quite a few restaurants in the area that have one or more stars, and just because I had this one meal doesn’t mean I would turn down an invitation to Manresa or The French Laundry. (Of course not, I’m not hopelessly ridiculous.)

As a Christmas gift, my grandma opts to take us all out to a nice dinner rather than having to buy a sleigh-ful of gifts. This works out well for her, as it simplifies her Christmas errands, and it works out even better for us: shalom Christmas, shalom awesome meal! This year, we went to The Plumed Horse in Saratoga, which has one Michelin star. Because their holiday bookings were so, well…booked, we ended up at the chef’s table, which has a big window so that we could see into the kitchen as our (and others’) meal was being prepared. There was no Gordon Ramsay-style shouting, just a lot of precision and very shiny pots and pans. And the food! Oh, the food. We had a seven-course tasting menu (plus a couple add-ons), which consisted of…

Caviar and blinis

Lobster cannoli

Seared Yellowfin tuna with Ankimo Torchon (and a little more caviar)

Black pepper and Parmesan souffle with uni and Dungeness crab fondue

Seared foie gras

Kobe beef with shaved black truffles

(Slightly blurry, sorry) Pineapple panna cottaIce cream atop tapioca with foam

Bruleed bananas with sorbet

Raspberry sorbet and layered gelatin

We ended the meal, as you might imagine, completely stuffed and at least a little tipsy (not pictured are the cocktails, ice wine, and various reds and whites that complemented each course). It was fantastic to get through a first 30 Before 30 item, and all the sweeter to have enjoyed it with my family.

Sorry my arm looks like a football player's thigh here-- but I'm wearing the Mad Men dress!

You need to eat this.

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As a native Californian, I am basically required to love avocados…and I do. I saw this as a suggestion (let’s not call it a recipe, ok?) on The Kitchn, and was all over it. Best breakfast that’s achievable in roughly three minutes, hands down.

Toast with a quarter of an avocado mashed/spread on top, a little sprinkle of salt and crushed red pepper. Get on it!

“When you go out for pizza, where do you go?”

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…my mom asked this once, and I just looked blankly at her. “Go…out? For pizza?” I could not compute this. Pizza crust is so easy! And so much restaurant pizza is pretty terrible! Pizza has become a bit like most pasta dishes– given enough options, I’d rather not order and pay for something in a restaurant that I can make (more deliciously) for pennies at home. We usually use the Joy of Cooking recipe, which yields enough dough for four individual pizzas, so we have enough to entertain guests or to set aside in the fridge for an evening on which the “What’s for dinner?” question is just too hard to answer. And sometimes…well, sometimes, you’re just in the mood to have pizza. With a reasonable salad, a glass of wine, a fire in the fireplace, and a DVR-ed movie (in this case, Raising Arizona), it’s a fairly great Saturday night.

A classic, but with turkey pepperoni and a hidden layer of red pepper flakes

Oh, and for the record, we did have delivery pizza at a Super Bowl party a few weeks ago. It was Dominos, and it was just awful. I thought they were doing this whole image- and recipe-makeover thing! Bad job, Dominos.

The haps

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Yeah, don’t judge me. I am totally uncool enough to say “What’s the haps?”…to my cat. Who meows his response, usually. Anyway. Where have I been?

  • I’ve been taking part in The Put Together Project, which has gotten my fashion-year off to a brighter start, and called to my attention the fact that I wear a ton of red.
  • I’ve been cooking up a storm! In keeping with my “thirty new recipes in 2011” pledge, I’m off running…mostly toward Cooking Light recipes, many of which are proving just as tasty as their chubbier counterparts.
  • I joined a gym! Now that I have a real, grownup job, I joined a gym in the town where I work (“over the hill,” in local parlance) for a mere $20 a month. Seriously, at $20 per month, I’d be a fool to pass it up. A chubby fool.
  • I’ve been reading up a storm– my favorites so far have been Room and My Life as an Experiment: One Man’s Humble Quest to Improve Himself by Living as a Woman, Becoming George Washington, Telling No Lies, and Other Radical Tests (yes, longest title ever). I’m just starting Packing for Mars (new book club selection), and am excited despite my lukewarm feelings about the space program.

Um, is it sort of lame to admit that…that’s about it? I’m all ready to begin writing my “actually, Valentine’s Day isn’t that bad, y’all” post, so get excited about that. Oh, and we’re going to Disneyland this weekend! Yes, we are totally those people.

Resolution check-in, day 4 of 365

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It will likely not shock you that I haven’t met a blogger yet (though a grand total of two offers have been made! That probably reads as sarcasm, but I promise it’s not), and should probably come as no surprise that I have yet to have any degree of exercise (I walked to lunch today, so that must count for something). However! I bring exciting news…

Both on the recipe front and the eating-at-the-table-like-people front. Behold!

Jamie Oliver’s English Onion Soup with Sage and Cheddar, a leftover from when the in-laws were visiting over Christmas (so, fine, I won’t count it toward the “30 recipes” goal), along with ye olde Kindle (I finished rereading Anne of Green Gables a couple days ago!) and a New Belgium 2 Below ale (like Fat Tire, too hoppy for GP– but that means there’s more for me!).

Real Simple’s pork scaloppine (word to the pork-haters out there, this can totally be done just as deliciously with chicken or veal) with egg noodles and roasted zucchini. (I think the wine was a BV pinot grigio– nothing remarkable, but it is what I used in the sauce.)

Real Simple’s pork fajitas with black beans and rice. Look, sometimes salsa has to count as a vegetable. And yay for New Belgium beer!

I’m starting to think that 30 recipes is too easy a goal for an entire year, but then again it’s only been a week. Let’s see where I am at the end of the month…

Subdued, if not silent

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Clearly I’ve fallen off the #reverb10 wagon, but I’m stashing those prompts away so that I’ll have something to unstick me when I feel like I have nothing to say. The last week and a half have been active, but mostly pleasantly so: a big work project completed, Christmas shopping and cards completed, settling into the holidays with relatively minimal stress. I watched White Christmas earlier today (I know, someone as obsessed with Christmas as I am should have seen it years ago), and am currently recording Miracle on 34th Street, another classic that somehow slipped from my grasp (must have been all those years watching Christmas Vacation umpteen times). I can’t really believe that, within a week, we’ll have exchanged our gifts, gorged ourselves on sugar cookies (which, fine, still need to be decorated– but are at least made!), and braved nearly a week of forecast rain. For now, we’re cozy.

All is calm…

All is bright…

And it’s the perfect sort of night for some eggplant parm (with some modifications, naturally) and foccacia.