New Orleans, Louisiana

I’ve recently had the opportunity to try some good restaurants in New Orleans.  In general, food seems to be good there, probably because of the richness of the food and strong flavors.  I think E would have loved it here.  I also loved the architecture of some of the homes, but being that I was busy with work, I only had time to be out at night.

The most famous food in New Orleans must be the beignets at Cafe Du Monde.  The line out of the store is typically hours long, though I hear locals know how to go through back ways into the store.  I was at the Convention Center and was told that the Riverwalk Outlets right next store actually had a Cafe Du Monde chain store, which tastes supposedly the same, though I’m sure the experience is different.  However, in the interest of time and for the sake of convenience, that’s all I could get.

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I’m actually not that big of a pastry person.  I’m an ice person who’s been known to have ice cream three times a day with every meal.  No longer, but back in younger days.  So, the only beignets I’ve ever tried was in Disneyland in the “New Orleans” area – Princess and the Frog.  They were nothing like what I had at Cafe Du Monde.  I can’t even remember what the Disneyland ones tasted like, they were so forgettable.  These beignets were perfectly fried pieces of heaven doused with powdered sugar which I nearly choked on from eating too quickly.

One order of three was like $5, I believe, and I so wished that E and the kids were there to enjoy them with me.  Powdered sugar is not that sweet and the beignet itself had a little bit of saltiness to it, which made the whole flavor just the right amount of sweetness.  It was a bit crunchy on the outside, with a little bit of soft dough underneath and then the inside being completely hollow.  It was so good I called my sister mid bite to tell her about it and ask if she would make some for me if I bought the mix.

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Well, little sis immediately knew it would have to be deep fried (I never make pastries so I didn’t even think about that) and would be too cumbersome to make at home.  So, too bad, no more beignets, only when we go to New Orleans.

Their Cafe Au Lait was also very good.  It tasted creamy and not too bitter ( I drank it w/out any sugar) because of the chicory added in.  I learned that chicory is the root of the endive plant which gets roasted and grounded and then added to the coffee to soften the bitter edge of the dark roast.  I did taste a bit of chocolate flavor, which I read is what the chicory adds to the coffee.

My most favorite meal in New Orleans was in the Garden District on St. Charles Ave (along the St. Charles street car),  Superior Seafood and Oyster Bar.  I don’t have a single picture because I didn’t want to be the weird person among my coworkers taking pictures of all our food.  All of the appetizers we ordered were amazing and there were several things I tried for the first time.  I would definitely take E here if we’re ever in New Orleans.  Below is what we had:

  • raw oysters:  these were very good.  Not slimy or fishy tasting.  Just smooth and yummy, eaten straight up with a squeeze of lemon.
  • char grilled oysters:  these were grilled with butter, garlic, herbs and cheese.
  • fried green tomatoes:  a first for me and one of my favorite dishes of the night. Anything fried is good, I suppose but I don’t really even like tomatoes, but this dish was a hit.
  • escargot de bourgogne: also a first for me.  I was a little hesitant about eating snails, but these were soaks in a garlic butter and tasted delicious spread over french bread (that soaked up the oil nicely.)
  • fried alligator:  another first for me, never tried alligator meat before and honestly, it sort of tasted like fried chicken and fried squid.  It was good and dipped in a aoli type sauce.
  • crab cake:  always a favorite but I found the crab cakes I had in New Orleans especially good

My main dish was a seafood pasta, which wasn’t that great, actually but I was already pretty stuffed from all the appetizers.

Lastly, before I left New Orleans, I picked up a print of Bourbon St. to add to my travel wall.  IMG_4174.JPG

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Brasserie Séoul, Brooklyn NY

Food posts have been scarce on the blog, mainly because when I get my food, I just want to eat it, and not take pictures of it, and also because the lighting in restaurants is not that great and I’m just taking pictures with my iphone.  But I still think it’s good to document good food that I eat so I remember and can recommend to my friends when they happen to be in that area.

E, little c, and I were in Brooklyn, NY recently to check out the Brooklyn Flea and eat some good food.  We made it to the Winter Flea and Holiday Market which was located indoors, really wonderful when the weather is freezing outside.  I snagged a vintage New Yorker cover from 1973 for my travel wall (place where I hang paintings/posters, etc that I pick up in different cities) and also some snacks downstairs (none of which I took pictures of) including mac n cheese, a Shanghainese Burrito (interesting), hot chocolate, and strawberry lemonade.

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E will never substitute snacks for dinner (food is too important to him) so we looked for a proper sit down place and ended up at the Brasserie Seoul which is connected to a Holiday Inn.  It’s a French, Korean Fusion place and had the best vegetarian BimBimbap that I’ve ever eaten.  Even E liked it, and he pretty much is a carnivore, so much so that we ordered a second one to share.  E is also more Korean than some actual Koreans, and loves Korean food more than most cuisines, though you can say he loves food more than most of everything else in the world.  He really should be writing these food posts (ahem) but he’s more of a “delegater”.

We ordered the beef tartare, calamarie salad, ginger salmon, duck bimbimbap, and 2 orders of the mushroom bimbimbap.

The beef tartare was very good, but the main complaint is that they didn’t give enough toast.  E showed the waiter a picture on yelp that showed bigger portions but they said they’ve since decreased their portion size… not cool.

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Calamarie salad was ok with a spicy/sweet mayo taste, but nothing amazing.

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Now the mushroom bimbimbap, that was soooo gooooooood.  It had rice, mushrooms, quinoa, carrots , zucchini, daikon, kale  and water crest with the usual chile pepper paste you mix in.  The duck one was pretty good, too, BUT both of us wanted seconds of the mushroom bimbimbap, it was that good.  The flavor was just perfect.  It’s true that mushrooms add a lot of umami, and the texture of the quinoa was perfect with rice.  I originally thought it was weird to mix quinoa with rice and I personally have not really liked eating quinoa but just ate it because I knew it was good for me.  This on the other hand, I actually enjoyed eating, so much so that neither of us bothered to take a single picture.  It was inhaled after we each tasted our first bite.  I can’t remember much about the ginger salmon so it probably wasn’t anything special, just your typical salmon.

Now, the other memorable thing was the dessert….  oooo it was so delicious.  It was recommended by our waiter and is their take on a banana split.  Those stumps are grilled bananas topped with cream and dusted with powdered sugar and chocolate balls with rice crispies inside.  There’s a scoop of ice cream on the side on top of some kind flakey pastry. Oh, it was so, so, good.  I easily could have eaten this all by myself but I shared.  I love this type of dessert, not too sweet, not to heavy, complimentary flavors and textures, just hits the spot.

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This place is worth going to and I definitely will be stopping by next time I’m in Brooklyn.

Cell Phone Case

I started making cell phone cases because my sister bought these radiation pocket shields to protect your body from cell phone radiation.  These sheets are pretty expensive, I think around $20 for 3 sheets and it would be pretty expensive to buy enough to line all of her and her husband’s pants.  So, she asked me to sew pouches for them.

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Now, who knows if they really block anything.  Has anyone ever tested this?  And, “up to 99%” blockage can mean anything… perhaps it can be 1%.  But in any case, it’s not too expensive to try out and according to my sister, got a lot of positive reviews.

So, I came up with this cell phone pouch.  The first one I created had Velcro dots holding the flap down but those quickly fell off.  I’ve never had any luck with those stick-on Velcro dots.  They are essentially worthless and I will not use them for any future projects.  For this pouch, I created a bar to hold down the flap.  It wasn’t too hard to make but I realized that I am not good at making repetitive projects.  I must lose interest and rush things or something because at least one thing always went wrong in the pouch making process. (Thank goodness for my ripper!)   It just reinforces the fact that I will never make items to sell.

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So far I’ve made 6.  I think I’m done.  Well, I may make one for E but he doesn’t think much about cell phone radiation, probably not worth the effort of making one and when I asked my friends, none of them seemed concerned, either.  So the people that buy these radiation pocket patches are probably crazy hypochondriacs like me and my sister.

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The phone fits my pouch nice and snugly.  Original prototype was way too big and a few subsequent versions were so tight that squeezing my phone in there frequently eventually ripped the seams.

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Creating something that fits like a glove is harder than you think, even for something like a rectangular iphone.  Imagine making an article of clothing fit perfectly.  It makes me want to dedicate my sewing time to creating good, quality, well fitted clothes for myself.

I recently went to a Christmas party wearing my favorite outfit of all time, a perfectly fitted Hugo Boss black dress that comes down right below my knees that will never go out of style.  That dress at regular price is over $1000.  Of course, I paid much less on sale (~$300), but the thought came to me that I should learn how to make good, quality clothing because if what I make is ordinary or poorly constructed, I might as well just buy it ready made (not to say ready made clothing is poor quality).  But if I learn to and invest the time to make something well fitted, well made, and unique, it is totally worth it because something like that would cost more than $1000.

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Check out 10 Sewing Mistakes that will Make Your Clothing Look Homemade.  I’m going to ask my sewing teacher about some of these.  But boy, I really came a long way.  I first started sewing because I wanted little e to learn and since her sewing teacher was driving out to our house to do the lesson, I wanted to give her more hours.  The first thing I said to her was that I wanted to learn to make easy things like pillows and curtains and maybe learning to hem pants.  I had no interest in making clothing.  Look at me, now, I’m completely hooked!

Button Down Shirt

Finally I made something for little c.  He was wondering why I never made anything for him and I started feeling bad.  Honestly, I didn’t have any interest making boys/men’s clothing.  It just seems boring.  But, since he asked, I thought I’d make him a simple, short sleeve button down shirt.  So, shirts aren’t quite so simple, though it wasn’t very difficult either.  There are just a lot of steps and parts to put together as well as a lot of edge stitching for decorative lines.

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I’m quite proud of the results as (to me at least) it looks like a professionally finished piece on the inside and out, thanks to the yolk on the inside, and my serger.  The fabric my sister picked up from Tokyo and is perfect for button down shirts.

Little c wore it to his Christmas Play.  He’s such a goofball these days and loves to be in front of the camera.  It fits him perfectly so I’m having him wear it with long sleeve shirts underneath before he outgrows them in the summer.

I can’t seem to get one good picture of him smiling normally!

I was just telling my friend that I love sewing because it’s so satisfying to have a finished product that is useful.  But even beyond that, I love the process itself as it allows me to focus all of my attention, my mind and my hands, on a task… very stress relieving, as long as I’m not rushed to finish a project for any kind of deadline (like Christmas presents.)

E wants me to make a matching shirt for him and little c, and my dad wants me to make him a jacket.  It’s off to fabric shopping for me during Christmas break.

A Shirt for Me!

Little e and I have been busy in our sewing studio the past several weeks with Christmas presents.  Can’t share any of them as they are all wrapped up under the tree, but I did finally make something for myself.  I used one of my J Crew shirts to make the pattern and it fits pretty well, just like everything from J Crew fits me.  Over half my wardrobe is from there.

I was new to making button holes and thankfully I tested it out multiple times on fabric scraps before doing it on the actual garment because there were several kinks that had to be worked out before I could consistently make button holes.  Once again, I had only bought one yard of fabric (from Tokyo) and barely had enough to make this top.  I wanted to have pleats in the center but couldn’t spare ANY extra fabric for it.

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This type of sleeveless tunic top is super versatile for me.  I wear these all of the time tucked in with dress pants/skirts, tucked out with skinny pants and jeans, and always under a cardigan.  Being that they are sleeveless, there is no bump in the arm under the cardigan and as a temperature nazi, I can leave the cardigan on when I’m cold, and take it off when I’m hot.  I plan to make many more of these, using the Liberty fabrics I purchased from London.  I’m also planning to add some 3/4 sleeves to see how it looks.

E says that the shirt makes me look pregnant.  He’s always so flattering…  Well, he’s very obsessed with fit.  I may take in the sides a little.  The original J Crew shirt was made of silk so it was more flowy and showed my form a little more.  This one is a thin cotton, so it does come off looking a little boxy.  But under the cardigan or tucked in, it’s just fine.

I asked little c to take this picture of me.  He’s turning 4 soon!  Time flies.  He loves taking pictures with my iphone.  It’s a little blurry but not too bad for a 4 year old, right?

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