Oh sweet mystery of life. . .

It's a rare and beautiful thing.

Hello, dear blog readers.

I want to take a break from regularly scheduled programming. I had originally planned to post the exciting conclusion of my adventure with Dan, but something's happened. Something. . . fantastic.

I was wandering through my local foodmart this evening and decided to browse the wine section for a little funtime refreshment. I don't drink beer, but I wanted something light and refreshing, so I perused the selection of ciders.

Okay, this isn't my wine aisle, but you get the idea.

Nothing was really jumping out at me, when all of a sudden. . . The clouds parted and there stood - Babycham!

I had never seen or heard of it before, but I am a sucker for attractive packaging. Ask anyone. It's how I choose my clothes, kitchen appliances, sports gear, and friends. So when I saw Babycham's dark green bottle with metallic baby blue label featuring gold and silver accent, my hand was drawn to it. I had to take a closer look.

"Babycham: Sparkling Perry Pear Cider." Hmm. I do like the sounds of that. It's a silly name with a rather silly yet intriguing description. And what's this? There's an adorable fawn frolicking his way over the lettering! How winsome! Upon further inspection, I saw this phrase:


"The happiest drink in the world."

Really. In the world. While the deer looks a bit hesitant, it certainly seems to be effervescing happiness. I mean, look. There's little star glammers in its wake. I think any rational person would be tempted by this.

Oh, did I mention that it was $3.99? Yeah. Not even on sale, that's regular price, baby. So to recap: Pretty colors, shiny label, frolicking woodland creature, catchy catchphrase, and dirt cheap. This product was effing made for me.

So I brought it to the register and made it mine. I even have pretty dark green glasses to drink it out of - how perfect is that??

From my set of three.

I sampled the brew. So I've had pear ciders before. Ace makes my favorite one. Spire is also a fine pear cider. Wyder's is even pretty good (even though it's Canadian). This one? Well. . . it's not awesome. It's got a faintly sweet pear flavor, but a distinctly unpleasant mildly sulphuric essence. What's up with that? Surely this can't be a bad beverage. It was made for me, after all. I just need to give it the right flavors to accompany. Something to enhance it's very. . . babychamquois.

So I decided to conduct a little experiment. My first thought was cheese. It's the classic pairing: wine and cheese. Classy. I thought perhaps a nice emmental or a gruyere. Perhaps even a camembert to bring out the subtler notes of the cider.

However all I had on hand was this.

I'm so damn classy.

So I went with it.

A bite (a string?) of cheese followed with a sip of Babycham and. . . no. Absolute fail. If anything, the cheese actually enhanced the sulfur-y scent in my nose. Yeeg. Cheese is clearly not Babycham's friend.

Moving on to the next:

Ok, a bit classier.

I learned from Pretty Woman that strawberries enhance the flavor of a nice champagne, so it's not a huge stretch that a sparkling cider would also benefit from this pairing.

Erm, apparently it is. The taste of the berry totally overpowered the subtle pear flavor, and the sweetness made the cider seem far less sweet in comparison. Another fail. Try something else.

Classiness gone. Sigh.

Okay, before you judge me, it wasn't my first choice. It wasn't even my third. But my fridge is uncharacteristically bare right now and I didn't have a whole lot else on hand. Plus, my dreams of savoring a nice glass of Babycham after crushing my enemies were quickly fading. I had to try something drastic.

And. . . huh. It works. For some crazy reason, the pickle brings out the pear flavor of the cider, enhances the sweetness, and totally kills that nasty sulfuric element. It's a pairing made in heaven. Specifically for me. The girl you will henceforth find in the corner of the party, sipping Babycham and munching pickles.

You might also recognize me because of my fly Babycham gear.

I am going to collect it all.

So I will soon post my Danstravaganza: Part Deux (spoiler: it involves hamburgers!). In the meantime, go get yourself a jar of pickles and a bottle of Babycham. Life is too short not to.


April 18 - Dan! Puerto Rico, Spain, and Mexico

900 calories each. And it's fine.

This was an awesome weekend. Why? Well. . . my friend Dan came to visit me! It's kind of red-letter when I get visitors, since all of my friends are either too poor or too career-minded to come hang out with me on the left coast. And I'm far too busy and important to visit them. So I was pretty jazzed when Dan said she would spend a long weekend in my rainy city.

My first order of business was to take her for a snack or two on Capitol Hill. After stopping at Top Pot for some delicious hand-forged donuts we decided to counter the caloric onslaught with a nice cup of CrazyCherry.

Not as green as you'd think.

It's maybe the best frozen yogurt ever. Not the TCBY variety, it's much lighter with a refreshing tang. I'm a big fan of the green tea flavor, but the plain goes nicely with some berries. . . and Pocky!


The next day I took great relish in playing hooky from work. I love hooky. And do not love work. And it's the perfect situation to take advantage of by heading to Glo's.

Even Batman loves hanging (from the ceiling) at Glo's.

Under normal circumstances, I would never even consider trying to get breakfast at Glo's. It's a tiny 10 table cafe in my neighborhood, and it's absolutely adorable. They always have fresh flowers on the tables and you have a great view of Olive Way, and it's no secret that they have the greatest eggs Benedict in the entire world. This paired with the slowest service ever means about an hour and half between walking in the door and breakfast nirvana.

But if you have nowhere to be on a weekday morning, it's so worth it.

Well, eggs blackstone actually, but pretty much the same.

The next order of business was to start drinking. Don't judge! What better way is there to pass a non-working weekday? That's what I thought. So we headed to Ballard. You would too. It was the perfect place to drink in a coffee shop and take artsy sepia pictures of the decor.

Mr Spot's Chai House - so artsy.

We stopped at Ocho for some tasty tapas eatin, but Ocho was closed. So we said, go back the other way we'll stop and drink at. . . La Isla. Which is actually a pretty sweet place for Puerto Rican fooding, but since Spanish was the thought, we kept it to beer and daiquiris. Shaken, not blended. With sugared rims. And sticky hands.

Like if Bond were Puerto Rican.

As soon as it turned four o'clock, we made tracks across the street to Ocho. That means "eight" in Spanish. As we waited for drink and snack action, we got to meet the bar dog. That means "perro" in English.

"Yes, I'm cute. I know."

I think every business should have a dog. It would make the world a happier place. A puppy in every pawnshop and a hound in every hardware store. Delightful!

Erm, anyway. I'm a little sad that I wasn't hungry at this point (so much breakfast eaten!) but Ian ordered a lovely little tapa called Hongos de Jerez, which featured sherried mushrooms on crostini with some. . . green. . . stuff. . .

Fungus. But sassy.

After our Ballard adventure we made our way Hillward once more to have some drinks at The Elite, which I guess is a gay sports bar. Which is a lot like a straight sports bar, but there's a difference. I'm not sure what it is, but there must be one. If anyone could tell me what it is, that would be cool.

Another cool thing is that The Elite is pretty much right next to Taco Gringos. And I love tacos. Who doesn't!

Taco Gringos has several obviously awesome traits. One, they're located nearer to my house than the taco trucks that generally offer these tasty little soft tortilla tacos. Two, they're open super late and are drinking establishment adjacent. Three, they have a constantly rotating menu of intriguing taco fillings.

What'll it be tonight?

Obviously we had to go with the rabbit tacos. I don't usually associate rabbit with Mexican cuisine, but they were surprisingly delicious. The meat was tender with a really nice flavor, as I recall. Just don't tell my rabbit.

Crappy picture, tasty taco.

And as everyone knows, tacos are the perfect late-night fuel for a night rife with inside jokes and pop culture references.

And to think, my super Danstravaganza was only half over!


April 6 - The Arboretum, Pub Lunch

Hey, Jon, thanks for showing me how my manual focus works!

This rainy city I live in has been enjoying some unseasonably gorgeous weather of late. I pretty much love it. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the soul-crushing gray rainy winter as much as the next Seattlite, but when the sun comes out, it really becomes a beautiful place to live.

I took advantage of a sunny summer Sunday afternoon with a friend by going to the arboretum. It's this lovely inner-city forest set on 230 acres in the middle of Seattle. Well, kind of the middle. Sort of on the right, I guess. It's managed by the University of Washington, probably their botany department. It's for education. Because knowledge is power!

Tagged for your convenience. Also for ur lols.

Being an urban-dweller, it's nice to have something like this within bussing distance. Seattle has no shortage of public parks, but this one is serious. I could get lost here for days among the creeks and shrubberies. But I guess that's not saying a whole lot, considering I almost starved to death trying to navigate my way through an Ikea.

At least the arboretum is very pretty. Prettier than that stupid Ikea.

Like beautiful, pink lop bunny ears.

It also provides a pondful haven for one of my favorite critters: ducks! The good kind of ducks, not the evil kind.

Man, I love ducks.

In one of the ponds, I saw this rock that kind of looks like a little island. I mean, technically I guess it is, but visually I think it's kind of neat. This is probably what I would film if I were making a low-budget Bond movie and we were working on the shot where the helicopter was closing in on the villian's private island.

Dr. Geoduck's Island of Razor-Toothed Squirrels. The horror!

I'm not sure where this shot would work into my Bond film, but I thought it looked kinda spooky. What made these trees fall away from each other like that? Mystery.

I bet it was the Sasquatch. That bastard.

Erm, anyway. After wandering for days through the woods, we'd worked up quite an appetite. We decided to remedy this at Latona Pub in Greenlake. It wad my first time there, but considering they decided to decorate their pub with a suit of armor, I was pretty excited.

Lancelot? How did you get up there?

Living in the land of the micro brew, I sometimes feel a little left out since I'm not really a beer drinker. As much as I try, I can't enjoy it. And I have tried. I'm a sucker for peer pressure.

Luckily, I generally have the option of ordering a hard cider in place of beer. My favorite kind is Ace Perry Pear Cider, but I think you can only get those at Linda's bars. Still, I'm always up for something new, and my interest was piqued by the presence of a black currant cider on the list.

I would maybe drink it in a box.

As exciting as the idea of black currant cider is, it ended up being something of a disappointment. It was refreshing enough, but I didn't get a black currant experience. Someday I will, but not this day.

Latona's menu was more enticing than your average pub fare. The lunch menu offered a selection of tasty sounding sandwiches on Columbia City Bakery rolls, which are lovely with a floury chewy crust and tender flavorful innards.

I ordered the turkey n fixings sandwich, which was filled with roast turkey, stuffing, sprouts, and some kind of cranberry something. It was delicious. I like the idea of taking an entire meal and condensing it into a single-serving form. As long as we don't take that idea too far.

What did you say, jive turkey?

My lunch date, Jon, went with the grilled chicken sandwich. It seemed comparable to mine, except his came with a spike through the middle to keep the innards in check. I guess chicken is the more unruly poultry. Or they thought Jon couldn't handle a freestyle sandwich.

Action shot!

This teaser of a not-quite-summer day has me pretty excited for the real thing. I can't wait to take my cat for a walk in the park, have a Paseo picnic in the sun, and maybe a little kickball.

In closing, here is my favorite picture that I took in the arboretum. It's a fuzzy flower. How cool is that!

It makes me want to say something poetic.


April 5 - Lola, The Cops, Ghostland

Didn't those spoons used to come with little ice creams?

I am relatively new to the world of the business professional. My experience with the 9 to 5 has been varied and, at times, uncomfortable. Especially when it comes to the business lunch. Food to me is something fairly intimate, and I like to enjoy it. It's hard for me to enjoy food when I'm around people who control my income, but I'm working on it.

Last week the Chief Administrative Officer (yikes!) took my department out to Lola for a celebratory lunch for doing a good job in the first quarter. Yay! We started out with a sampler of spreads served with griddled pita. I never want pita any other way. We got 4 spreads: feta (rich but not exciting), sweet red pepper (fresh tasting but again, not exciting), tzatziki (pretty good, nice and dilly), and kalamata~fig (definately the standout - delicious!).

Olives and figs: meant to be together.

Of course, since I knew where we were going for lunch, I did a bit of research online into their menu. I was excited to see that on their list of lunchtime kebabs was. . . lamb's tongue. What! Of course I was intrigued. How big is a lamb's tongue? What's it like? Will I feel guilty eating it, knowing that there is a lamb out there that can no longer get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?

Well, I never got to find out. The lamb's tongue was sadly absent from the kebab selection, and I was forced to default to my second choice: Vlahotiri cheese and poached fig, drizzled in fig balsamic and accompanied by a Greek salad and more of that beautiful griddled pita and tzatziki.

Oh, glorious cheese!

I was incredibly pleased with my selection. When it came out, the cheese was just slightly melty on the outside, and it paired beautifully with the sweet, chewy figs. Mmmm. . . cheese. I dug in with (professionally) careless abandon.

Unfortunately, not everyone had a win with their lunch orders. Jackie, one of my co-workers, did a soup and salad combo - featuring an experimental "tomato" soup. Why the quotations? Well. . . it didn't resemble any tomato soup I'd ever seen before. It looked like pureed beets, and tasted like cinnamon-spiced carrots. It wasn't altogether unpleasant, but definitely somewhat offputting. Back to the drawing board, Tom Douglas.

It was a nice color, at least.

So how cool is our CAO? Well, after a delicious lunch he took us all across the street to Dahlia Bakery. It's the bakery that supplies all of Tom Douglas's restaurants with their desserts. It's a great little standalone takeout spot, though. They have fantastic breakfast items and their tomato soup (the regular type) is consistently great. They also have what is universally accepted to be the world's best coconut cream pie, conveniently available in a single-bite size.

Tiny sized to reduce fat-guilt.

While I was tempted to go with the fail-safe pie bite, I was enticed away by the mini carrot-cupcake. Carrot cake has always confused me. Why would you make a dessert out of a vegetable? That doesn't make sense. So I've been trying to reach an understanding of the carrot cake. This seemed like a safe mini introduction.

And I was pleasantly satisfied with the little cake. I was saddened at first at the overly cream cheesy and underly sweet frosting, but when paired with the tender, spicy cake it worked perfectly. Well played, Tom Douglas.

The calculator is pictured for scale reference.
The cupcake didn't come with a free calculator. Unfortunately.

I was going to include in this post my first foray into macaron-making, but it was an epic fail. I will instead close with a couple pictures from some concerts I got to go to this weekend.

The Cops played at Chop Suey on Friday night. I think I might like Chop Suey because it looks like my parent's Chinese restaurant back in 1991. Maybe I find it comforting, I don't know. My friend Ian had been raving about how fantastic The Cops are live ever since they played The Tractor a little while back, so I was pretty jazzed to see them.

Rock n roll!

I wasn't disappointed. Despite multiple equipment failures, they put on a pretty rocktastic show. Especially this guy, who I suspect I may be in love with now:

If you're out there, I love you. . .

Saturday night I was lucky enough to charm my way into a ticket to the sold-out Ghostland Observatory show at The Showbox. They're also known for their mind-numbingly awesome live shows, so I was pretty ecstatic when my friend Jon called me two hours before the show to tell me he had an extra ticket.


The show was legitimately really good, but I have a gripe: there were so many fog and laser machines on stage I wasn't sure if I was being dazzled by the band or the stage techs. I mean, come on guys, you're young and hip, do you really need all that flashy stuff to put on a good show? Just a thought.

I took like 50 pictures and this was the only decent one.

I'm going to try those macarons again soon. You'll see a post of it here presently. Promise.


April 4 - O Poutine!

The St Hubert chicken > Col Sanders.

I've been enthralled with Canadian culture for a while. It's a combination of hockey, music, and teenage soap operas. Mainly the last one. I wait with bated breath for the next episode of Degrassi: The Next Generation. I'm addicted to it. In a very unhealthy way.

Made more unhealthy by the fact that it's sparked a curiosity in me about poutine. Poutine is the national dish of Canada. It's what the Quebecois fur trappers used to eat on the tundra when the winters got tough and they needed to keep up their strength for the annual reindeer chase. With the upcoming premier of the Degrassi Spring Break Movie, I could see no reason to put off trying this mightily caloric dish.

De-starching process.

It starts with a foundation of fries, preferably freshly made. I'd never made fries before, but had I realized how simple and delicious homemade fries are I would likely be a much fatter girl. I used one large russet potato per person. I used my v-slicer to cut the into 1/4 inch strips and the soaked them in cold water overnight.

I had ordered the sauce mix on Ebay some months back. It's from Canada's first fast food chain restaurant, St Hubert. It is of course named after the patron saint of poutine, who is a national hero in Canada. St Hubert day is a nationally recognized holiday that everyone gets off work to drink Labatt Blue and eat poutine in his honor.

The excitement! It's building!

The packet gets emptied into a couple cups of cold water and boiled until it thickens. Ridiculously easy. It has a mild but hearty flavor. I think I may try to do homemade poutine gravy someday, but I have something like 5 more packets of this stuff to go through first.

Damn you, Ebay!

The potato strips got drained and dried and then dropped in 325 degree oil for about 10 minutes, or long enough for them to get pretty flexible. Then I let the rest on paper towels for about 15 minutes, but you can leave them for up to two hours before finishing them. When I was ready to assemble my poutine, I put the fries back into the oil now at 350 for a couple minutes to crisp the outsides. Man they were tasty.

Ignore the grease. Who wants to be healthy anyway?

The next ingredient needed for poutine glory is fresh white cheddar cheese curds. Luckily, I live in Seattle, and have access to Beecher's cheese shop. They make cheese on site and a variety of cheese-related items. Their mac and cheese is something magical to behold. Anyway, I picked up my curds there, and applied them to my poutine project.

Now if I only had some way. . .

As soon as the fries were done, they went into a bowl with a handful of curds on top. I poured the piping hot sauce over everything and voila! Poutine for six!

The poutine! It's. . . magnificent!

I was mostly pleased with the result. It was tasty enough, and the fries were G.D. delicious. I'll definitely make those again. Probably with sweet potatoes. The curds were tasty, but didn't get melty in the dish. I may have to put them more in between the fries before oozing on the gravy. I'm not sure how close this is to authentic French-Canadian poutine, but it was pretty good. In a very wrong incredibly unhealthy way.

By the way, the Degrassi Spring Break Movie was something of a disappointment. It was more like three episodes of the show rather than an actual movie, especially in the A-plot B-plot aspect. The A-plot did involve my favorite character getting into wacky adventures, which is awesome, but the B-plot sucked big time. Come on, Degrassi, was that really necessary?

Degrassi: They're really reaching.


March 31 - La Cocina y Un Bento


I am very much a creature of impulse. Oftentimes it lands me in some pretty wacky situations, but I am a slave to my whims. It's not always a bad thing, sometimes it ends in me getting exactly what I want.

And sometimes what I want is a big, gooey mess of tex-mex goodness. There's a common complaint heard in Seattle regarding Mexican food - that the authentic stuff is available and of good quality, but the border style stuff is lacking. I wouldn't go as far as to complain about this, since I've found La Cocina & Cantina to be perfectly acceptable Mexicanesque food.

Tacos and enchiladas and taquitos, oh my!

Having escaped the land of the buffet, I tend to steer clear of them these days. This being the case, the buffet at Cocina doesn't appeal too much to me, but my date couldn't resist her siren's song. The offerings seemed to be pretty decent, especially with the inclusion of a dish seductively named "chicken baked in juices."

Juice-chicken, ceviche, and a crispy thing.

I feel a certain guilt when I eat at texymexy restaurants because I pretty much always get the same thing: a chimichanga. Why? Well, partially because it's fun to say. But also, it's pretty much the ideal sloppy tasty mexy food: shredded marinated beef wrapped up in a crispy tortilla, accompanied by the typical rice/bean/lettuce party.

Say it with me: chimichanga!

My favorite version of the chimichanga comes smothered in a saucy sauce with tons of very un-Mexican cheese, but the Cocina gets points anyway for putting theirs out with a healthy portion of their very tasty guacamole.

Man I love guacamole.

You know I'm a sucker for the innards.

My one buffet avoidance related regret is that it comes with a complimentary dessert. Note to restaurant owners: free dessert is always always a good idea. It's long been established that pho needs to come with cream puffs (because they're so Vietnamese?) and has recently been discovered that Thai food is most favorably remembered when followed by red bean pudding.

The boy passed up the flan in favor of fried ice cream. Because he is a fool.

Well, it's no flan.

Going out to eat was awesome since I didn't have to pay for it, but preparation for the work week reminded me that I have to keep to my budget when planning my lunches. Enter: the vegetable bento.

I'm no bento expert, but I have embraced the idea. First off, bentos are adorable. Really really adorable. On top of that, I can make them delicious, healthy, and cheap - so I'm pretty well on board.

Stir-fry is a pretty simple concept, too, so bonus. The only tricky part is that it requires some serious heat, so preparation is key. I gave my broccoli a quick blanch and prepped the rest of my vegables for stir-frylation.

Check out that steam, baby.

I decided to work with onion, red and yellow bell peppers, some mini bok-choy I picked up at Viet Wah, a can of baby corn, and the aforementioned broccoli. After my biz was all set up, I set out my wok (yeah, I have a wok-what of it?) and put it on the very highest setting. When it was dangerously hot, I added a couple tablespoons of sesame oil and some minced garlic and my onion. Right as the garlic was coloring I added all of my other vegetables, and the secret ingredient.

Rabbit food!

Yes. Stir fry sauce from the Nine Dragons, otherwise known as the midwestern king of Chinese cuisine. My parents own it, so the family secret recipes are mine for the stealing. But not for the sharing. Sorry. If I told you I'd have to kill you.

The murky depths of secret mystery.

The magic of the sauce lies in its ability to season the dish and create a nice thick tasty goo to marry the vegetables together and bring the lovely flavors to the rice. It's actually not very complicated. You could probably come up with something similar to make your vegetables into stir frys, it just wouldn't be as good.

Ha ha.

So this dish is really about 2 minutes in the wok from start to finish. I just toss things about until the green wilt and everything seems cooked. It sounds vague, I know, but the only concern I ever have is overcooking the vegetables. Which hasn't happened yet, so it's pretty avoidable.

That's what it looks like when it's done.

And that's it! Packed into my little bento with some string cheese, a tangerine, and some furikake to season any leftover rice, it's a nice lunch I can easily consume while enjoying my latest guilty internet pleasure.

It's-a bento!