Mangos!

The last few days of our trip were spent in a house that had a mango tree growing inside of it. We literally woke up to the sound of ripening mangos falling onto the roof above our heads throughout the night! Here is where we had dinner:

And this was my favorite pastime:

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A serious pie adventure

Last Saturday Alex flew Mike, Wei, and I up to Tahoe. It had been two years since I’d been up in the plane with him so I was looking forward to the flight. Words can’t describe how awesome it is to get in the plane, head over the bay, windmills, delta, foothills, and Donner Lake to arrive in Truckee all in less than 1.5 hrs. It goes by so fast because there is so much gorgeous terrain to take in along the way. The only downside is that we missed stopping at Ikeda’s for pie and burgers on our way up.

alex flying

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My mom picked us up at the airport and brought us back to their house in Tahoe Donner. We wasted the afternoon away hanging out and chatting on the porch enjoying a ridiculous amount of food and beverage provided by my parents who were excellent hosts. (Note to self: I should bring my friends home more often!) That night the four of us went to Moody’s, my favorite restaurant in Tahoe, for dinner. Highlights were the ahi 4 ways and crab toast appetizers as well as the tomato soup with the baked crouton topping. Divine.

The next day, after blueberry pancakes and a BBQ at a friend’s house nearby, we started scheming about the possibility of landing at the Auburn airport to retrieve some of the aforementioned pies. Alex got to work looking for the Auburn airport frequencies, runway length, and refueling abilities and I called Ikeda’s to see what time they closed (it WAS the 4th of July). Sadly, they closed at 4pm and we weren’t going to be there until at least 5pm.  Alex then had the idea to ask if we could order the pies, pay with a credit card, and have them hide the pies out back. Lucky for us, they were totally into this idea. Keep in mind, it was probably some high school kid on the other end of the phone who also thought this was pretty crazy. So, we ordered 4 pies: apricot, razzleberry, peach, and strawberry rhubarb, and hoped to retrieve them later that afternoon on the right hand side of the front door, under the tables, in a black plastic garbage bag. What could go wrong?

I then called a local taxi company and asked how much it would be to pick us up at the airport, shuttle us over to Ikeda’s to pick up the pies, and then back to the airport. They quoted $25 – not bad. It was my mom who had the genius idea of having the cab company pick up the pies and then DELIVER them to us at the airport so we could literally touch down and then get going again. How could we have missed that!? It pretty much worked as planned (see the photo of the hand-off below) and the taxi was only $15 to boot. What a day!

handoff

Wei and I were seated in the backseat of the plane, just inches away from the pies, on the way home. As soon as we got out of the plane, we were compelled to do the “pie dance” because we could no longer contain our excitement about stuffing our faces with pie! In only a few hours, we would be at Jeremy and Kristin’s 4th of July Pie & Fireworks Party sampling a ridiculous amount of pie. This weekend was definitely a highlight of my summer. It’s so fun to be back in the Bay Area for a few months enjoying gorgeous weather and playing with friends and family.

piedance

Thank you to Mike and Wei for taking and sharing all of their photos!

24 Hours in Portland

Last Saturday morning Lakshmi and I drove down to Portland in time for lunch at the Bombay Chaat House. We were so excited that each lunch was $5 that we bought two before realizing how much food we were about to receive. It turns out, $5 will get you pretty far at most Portland food carts.

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After hardly making a dent in our plates, yet feeling disgusted at how full we were, we waddled over to our hotel to drop off our bags and begin our adventure. Over the next six hours we walked all over the city stopping to gaze and graze along the way. After wandering the aisles in Powell’s bookstore, we stopped into the Icebreaker store so I could buy Alex a shirt. We then hit up one of the most beautiful stationary stores I’ve ever seen, Oblation Papers. We passed the ridiculously long line at Voodoo Doughnuts and decided to pass because we were still too full to think of eating. Those who were eating them outside had huge smiles on their faces so they must be doing something right. From there we wandered over to the Saturday Market which reminded me of traveling last year. Dozens of stalls were set up along the river selling everything from food (a common theme in Portland) to clothing to jewelry to local art. As it was a sunny day, there were children running and screaming through the fountains. The market is open year-round and seemed to attract both locals and tourists alike.

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We stopped into a beautiful grocery store, Zapan’s Market, to check out the produce selection and pick up a snack before heading back to figure out our dinner options. I had found a Mediterranean restaurant, Karam, on numerous blogs that had peaked my interest when I began researching for our trip. We were exhausted from walking all day so we walked in not really knowing what to expect. After ordering the Veggie Mazawat (basically an entree which offered all of the vegetarian appetizers) for $16 (we had learned to share after our lunch experience!), we were in heaven. The grape leaves were the best I’ve ever had – freshly rolled, soft, warm, and left a hint of citrus as an aftertaste. YUM. We made a note to ourselves to start looking for a Lebanese restaurant in Seattle. Any tips?

Before.

After.

We would have loved to eat at the food carts for dinner but we learned that most food carts are only open during the week and those that ARE open on the weekends close at 7pm.

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The next morning we got up and went for a run along the Willamette and then visited two bakeries on our way out of town, Ken’s Artisan Bakery and Di Prima Dolci. All I can say is that the Oregon pastry from Ken’s was like crack. It had blackberries and marionberries and warm, buttery goodness that put me in my happy place for the rest of the day (which helped because Alex called to say goodbye for a month at 3pm).

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(If only there was a way to get some Enya-like music to play when you look at this photo…)

If I haven’t already convinced you, Portland is a charming little town with lots to see, do, and, of course, eat. Lakshmi and I had a wonderful weekend together gorging ourselves and laughing. What more could you ask for in a friend?

The odd girl laughing on the bus

http://splendidtable.publicradio.org/

I can’t believe I’d never heard of this awesome show until last month. It plays every Sunday and I download the podcast to enjoy on the bus to and from school. I actually caught myself laughing out loud on the bus ride this morning. Lynne Rossetto Kasper is very entertaining and has some wonderful tidbits of information about food and cooking to share with her listeners. It’s already having an impact on me as I picked up (and enjoyed) an Italian wine she recommended last week and am going to try her meatloaf recipe soon. If you’re looking for an entertaining podcast about food, cooking, traveling, and entertaining, give Splendid Table a shot. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Christmas came early!

Today I came home to a mysterious package at my front door. Upon opening it, I laughed so hard I almost cried. My two friends Ann and Amber set me a little stuffed animal “superbug MRSA” which was entirely appropriate since they drove me home from my last MRSA outing at Hall Health. THEN, my phone rang at 8pm and my friend Sarah said she had something for me and was coming over. I had a suspicion that it was some kind of gift since I fed her cats this weekend while she was out of town. Her husband had made us a fresh loaf of bread with toasted pumpkin seeds and she delivered it just out of the oven. The smell is amazing and I can’t wait to eat it tomorrow. It’s so nice to have friends 🙂

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Dahlia Bakery

Classes started yesterday and it’s been cold and cloudy all week. The good news is that I received an invitation for lunch at a bakery which is on my “to-try” list. Nothing like a girlie outing and some homemade, not too creamy, tomato soup with toasted butter croutons to pull me out of my funk!

I met my friend, Lakshmi, for lunch at Tom Douglas’ Dahlia Lounge today. I was torn between ordering the grilled cheese (not sure I can deviate from my beloved Hog Island just yet) and the panzanella, a bread salad.  Lucky for me, I chose the tomato soup and was perfectly content. (This serves as a good reminder for me to start thinking about making large batches of soups to keep in the freezer for winter.) After lunch, I bought a coconut macaroon from the Dahlia Bakery next door and while I wouldn’t make a return trip based on that alone, I was captivated by the artisan bread selection and the looks of their famous triple coconut cream pie. As my last Governator would say, “I’ll be back”.

Lakshmi was taken by these adorable fall-themed cupcakes with little pieces of candied popcorn on top. She also deserves the artistic credit for the photo.

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