Posts filed under ‘travel’

Ladurée Macarons

My dear hubby had to get there before 9am and was the first in line, about 15mins after it open the line grew to 20 people. These were quite good and a few were amazing (black currant is my fav) great balance of flavors not too sweet. However, I still give the edge to La Maison du Chocolate for imported macarons (though I may need to go back to Ladurée soon for some jams also). There are fewer flavors at La Maison but the ganache is unbeatable, there’s no line, and you can pick up some chocolates too. So if you are in the city and find the lines too long at Ladurée, head down to La Maison du Chocolat (there are two locations in Manhattan).

September 10, 2011 at 10:58 pm 2 comments

Panya Bakery

Panya bakery

8 Stuyvesant Street
New York, NY 10003
(212) 777-1930

I just wanted to post these photos. I’m pretty sure I’ve tried everything in those cases.

-L

August 26, 2010 at 6:38 am Leave a comment

houston restaurant week 2010

It’s Houston Restaurant Week!!! One of the reasons I love that my birthday is in August. hehe. For those not familiar with Houston Restaurant Week (HRW), it started in 2009 as a week long event where Houston restaurants offered their usually snazzy and pricey meals for a fixed price of $35.00. Each meal has your choice of appetizer, main entree, and dessert! And, for each meal sold, $5 will be donated to the Houston Food Bank. As I mentioned earlier, it started as a week long event, but it was so popular that it actually went on for 3 weeks.

This year, HRW runs from August 1-21. There are over 100 restaurants participating, so if you’re from Houston and haven’t been yet, you’ve still got time! It’s also for a good cause, so you’re doing your part for our community. So, as of today, I’ve eaten at two restaurants. I’m hitting up one more tomorrow, and probably a couple more before it ends next week. Keep in mind that HRW is reservation only. If you go to the site, reservations are easily made with OpenTable.

Tonight, however, I write to you about Ray’s Grill in Fulshear, TX which is right outside of  the Katy/Richmond area. Most of you folks who live in the loop would never think to venture out that far, but I promise you, it is worth the trip. It is one of those hidden gems that you would never really know of unless someone told you. So, here I am, telling you.

The restaurant is quaint, but modern. There’s even a private room called The Maple Room at the back of the restaurant. The kitchen is open for all to see. The dimmed lights and live jazz band provided for a mellow ambiance. The staff was extremely friendly and we were seated promptly at one of the high tables viewing the kitchen. So my sister and I went on a Thursday night, which also happened to be Wine Tasting Night! I went in for food, and got to sample wine as well =) That makes for a happy Chelle!

**Note: I apologize for the low quality photos. I took them with my blackberry, and for you blackberry users, you know the photo quality is not up to par**

My sister was kind enough to give me her share as she is not the wine drinker. hehe. We were also first served their bread and cheese spread? I question it because we couldn’t decide if it was cheese or butter. That’s just how smooth it was and whatever herb/spice they put in it…yum. So, if someone from Ray’s is reading this, I’d really like you to know that the cheese(butter) spread is the bomb.com. But for HRW, their menu choices are listed here: http://www.raysgrill.com/wp-content/uploads/Menu-HRW2010.jpg

While my sister opted for the New England style seafood chowder, I decided on the jumbo lump crab cakes with a lemon butter sauce. They were delicious. I was nice and shared one with my sister, but I still remember the taste.  See, the problem I find at some restaurants is that the crabcakes have too much “cake” and not enough crab. The breading with Ray’s crabcakes were perfect. The crab meat was fresh and it was just so rich and full of flavor. And that lemon butter was heavenly. YUM. I did also have a few spoonfuls of the seafood chowder. So tasty! Even tastier when you dip your bread in it. hehehe.

Doesn’t that look lovely? That my friends is the NY Strip Steak over a bed of french fries, topped with their barbecue sauce. My steak was properly cooked at medium well, flavorful and juicy. I usually find bbq sauce to be too tangy for my tastebuds, but Ray’s bbq sauce was just right. It was a great balance of sweet & tangy. My only complaint is that I wish there was a little more bbq sauce ^_^ The fries were fantastic. Sure, they’re just fries you think, but I love how crispy yet soggy they were. My favorite kind. ❤

And so we moved on to dessert. I honestly did not think I’d be able to eat any more food, but I had to be a soldier and go forth with my sweet treat. I present to you beignets with coffee ice cream. On my first bite, I cut off a piece of the most sugared beignet, took a spoonful of the coffee ice cream and had my first bite of delicious. There’s really no other way to describe it than that. The beignet wasn’t too heavy and the coffee ice cream had great flavor and wasn’t too rich. If I remember correctly, I ate maybe half of it. One serving is definitely enough for two, maybe even three if you’re in a sharing mood, but I guarantee you will fight for that ice cream.

Ray’s Grill also has Sunday brunch from 10:30-2:00. It’s a $20 buffet and I’ve been told by several people that it is excellent and not your typical brunch fare. I’ll be taking the family out there one of these Sundays. I appreciate the fact they are reservation only. My family is fairly big now. When we go somewhere and reservations are not allowed, it’s a pretty long wait to seat 7 people. We don’t have the patience for that when we’re hungry.

Thank you Ray’s for a fabulous dinner. I’ve already told my friends about you and I’m sure we’ll be back, because I’m dying to try that fried macaroni & cheese with lobster and white truffle. ^_^

-chelle

August 11, 2010 at 5:18 am Leave a comment

austin eats part 1

I went to Austin this past weekend just to get away. It was relaxing and I had a great time. I’ll have to post about it next time, but I’ve taken part of a wellness/health program at my Drs. office and for the first two weeks, I can only eat fruits and veggies. For a girl that loves meat and rice and chocolate, it’s been tough. Luckily, Austin is quite health conscious and I found great food while there.

First stop on Saturday was brunch at Eastside Cafe with my cousin and her husband. I hadn’t seen them in years and they said this place had yummy food and the freshest veggies. The restaurant is cozy, dainty, and the service was excellent. They grow their own veggies in the garden out back, which you can stroll around in while you wait for your table, and they raise their own chickens. I believe all their veggies served come straight from the garden. As you sit down, they bring out these mini cornbread muffins and oh how delicious they smelled.

I had a mixed greens salad with goat cheese and tossed in a rice wine vinaigrette. It tasted so different from what I’ve had before. It tasted so fresh. No photo, but everyone’s seen a salad before.  But, what I loved most was their roasted acorn squash with a soy ginger sauce.

Doesn’t that look awesome? I just took a fork, scraped the side, dipped a bit and took a bite. It was so tasty and I was in love. My cousin’s husband ordered a veggie burger, but my cousin ordered this artichoke manicotti, which is “Carrot pasta filled with artichoke hearts, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, pistachios, ricotta, and mozzarella cheese.  Topped with sun-dried tomato cream sauce and parmesan cheese.” I was jealous she got to eat that.

For the sake of a photo op, and because what kind of review is this without dessert? They were kind enough to eat this delicious cherry cobbler topped with vanilla ice cream. Aren’t they the sweetest? By the way, cherry cobblers and cherry pies are in my top 5 favorite desserts. I was brave and strong willed and did not falter. Behold.

As much as I wanted to take a bite of that, I couldn’t. Instead, I watched my cousin and her husband devour it. =( When I’m untubby and can eat that again, I’m coming back for sure. Haha! This is definitely a place to return to and Austinites, if you haven’t made it out to this place…GO!! They take reservations, prices are decent, and food is delicious.

– chelle

May 21, 2010 at 2:40 am 1 comment

Japanese breakfast

This morning I went to Panya, a Japanese bakery in the East Village for breakfast. They used to be tiny bakery but had recently expanded with a new kitchen and seating area. They make a variety of breads and desserts along with Japanese convenience store foods like rice balls(they are great, about $1.29-$1.79) and bento lunch boxes. The Japanese breakfast set($8.50) includes rice, broiled salmon, salad, miso soup, natto(fermented soy beans) with a raw quail egg, a small package of nori(seaweed), and some small sides, here they are hijiki(seaweed) and radish with bonito(smoked dry skipjack tuna). The quail egg takes the edge off of natto which can be rather funky(mix it together vigorously), you also mixed it with mustard. The salmon was made perfectly and went well with the rice. Overall everything was a bit on the salty side but still good. I also got a piece of mont blanc cake($3.50) and a green tea custard bun($2.75), but my camera battery died before I could snap a shot. Their cakes are always good and they have a very nice selection of teas and coffee. I liked the barley tea ($1.75) and the yuzu(Japanese citrus) tea($1.75). The yuzu tea was interesting, just hot water and yuzu marmalade but it was good, and chunky at the end.

Panya Bakery, 8 Stuyvesant St (between 11th St & 12th St)  New York, NY 10003

I think the hours are like 8am-10pm (varies during the week), I can’t find it listed on the internet.

-Lina

December 12, 2009 at 9:19 pm 2 comments

san francisco food tour day 2

Day 2. Japantown! The weekend we went was the last weekend of the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, so of course we had to go! There were so many people and vendors and food and did I mention people already? It was pretty crowded. We took a taxi in, and thank goodness we did. My friend Phu joined us that day and told us it took forever to find parking. There were live bands and taiko drum demonstrations among other things. The smell coming from all the fresh food being cooked, from red bean filled pancakes to the bar b q being grilled, was heavenly.

But before I begin on the food.  I was told I wouldn’t actually see sakura trees in Japantown, which I thought was boo, but my sister and I found out about the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park had tons of sakura trees and other flowers. We of course checked it out and the blossoms were still in bloom!  The full size photos are on my flickr page. They also have a mini cafe serving tea while you enjoy the view.

After our visit to the tea garden, we headed to Japantown, and we started with the spam musubi. Spam is a sort of breakfast food staple among Filipino (and Hawaiian) households. We like it fried, with rice and a fried egg. Yum. Anyways, this one stand was selling spam musubi! It was sushi rice, topped with a slice of cooked spam, eel sauce, and wrapped with a thin strip of seaweed wrapper. It was sooooo yummy. My sister and I ended up buying a couple each to save for a midnight snack of sorts. Sorry I don’t have better pics, but it did not last long enough to take photos after opening.

Even the toy from kidrobot wanted a bite. heh.

Next were the pancakes filled with red bean paste. The line was forever long, but you couldn’t resist, because as you walked by, you could smell the sweetness of the pancake batter cooking. They were soft and light and filled with a sweet red bean paste.

The only line longer than the pancake line was the beef takoyaki line. Takoyaki is typically a fried dough ball containing octopus and other vegetables, but there are different variations. As you can see, this was of the ground beef variety. I’ve had takoyaki before in NYC, minus the octopus, and that was definitely better. However, for the price and considering they had to feed the masses, the beef takoyaki I had was worthy of the wait in line.

After that, we were pretty much full. We waited for Phu and co. to arrive and we just ventured out into all the shops and bought manga and cool pencils at Kinokuniya. It felt good to sit down. It was starting to get hot, but that cool bay breeze swept in once in a while making it a beautiful day to be outdoors. Once Phu showed up, it was time to eat again. They were hungry and who was I to say no to food? We decided on ramen at Sapporo-ya in the Kinokuniya center. We don’t have ramen in Houston, not that I know of anyways. And I’m not talking about the 10 for a $1 you find at the grocery store either.

My sis and I shared the bowl of soy sauce ramen with bbq. It was pretty good, in my opinion, but what do I know? The only other time I had ramen was in Hawaii and it was wayyyyy too salty. The noodles were a little smushy, but the broth and the bbq was yums. The boiled egg really added to the ramen. Maybe it was the texture or just the taste of it with the bbq and noodles, but I found every bite better when I had egg in it. Service was just okay and it’s a tiny spot, but overall, it was okay. There are probably better ramen spots in the area, and one that I’ll talk about again on day 3, but it was the closest one at the time.

This day was full of lines. Lines for pancakes, takoyaki, ramen, and then came the line for Sophie’s Crepes. It was out the restaurant and it was also worth the wait. The crepes are thin and crisp, yet soft and flaky. You can choose your own items or they have a variety of goodies to put in your crepe, from hot fudge and strawberries to ham and cheese. I stuck with the nutella, banana, and vanilla ice cream crepe. It was definitely tasty. It was a nice cool treat after a day in the sun.

sophies

It was food overdose by this time. We decided to walk it off by going to the Haight area and checking out the shops. There were tons of different boutiques and restaurants, and if you’re a shopper you might like this area. I just wanted to go to kidrobot. Bought a few toys. So cute! And after a long day of wandering the streets of San Francisco, we headed back to the hotel for some rest and relaxation before dinner. Oh yeah, we ate more. Hah.

Phu & I made a trade. Sprinkles cupcakes for Filipino banana chips. I think I’m the winner in this trade off. The cupcakes were rich and moist and Phu was kind enough to buy us all milk from the local convenient store.

And that was our 18th floor view at Hotel Nikko. Well, after getting some rest in, we headed to a sushi joint in Union Square. I am sorry to say that for the life of me, none of us remember the name. We went because a friend suggested it and she didn’t even know the name, only that it was good and we should go. The seafood was fresh, but as I stick to the cooked stuff, I ordered an ebi tempura roll and the spider roll. That was a well cooked soft shell crab.

sushi

And that my friends, was the end of day 2. It was exhausting, but it was definitely fun.  Thanks Phu, Hong & Megan for driving up from San Jose to hang out with us for the day!!

P.S. I miss it already.

reina-sm – Chelle

April 27, 2009 at 3:49 am 1 comment

san francisco food tour day 1

From April 17th-21st, I was in San Francisco for the very first time. My sister and I decided to take a sister trip and so we did. I call it a food tour, because honestly, we mostly ate. We saw the sights as well, but food played a large part of our trip. This will probably be a full 4 day series of all the yums we had. We arrived at 11am. Checked in by noon. Hopped on a cable car and started our “day”.

Our first stop for the day was Fisherman’s Wharf. We were complete tourists this time around, and we were okay with that. The weather was beautiful. Sunny, cool breeze, and not too hot. A friend of mine suggested we find Boudin Bakery (http://www.boudinbakery.com/) and get some clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. It was indeed a treat. I’ll probably say this over and over, but the seafood in SF tasted so fresh. The clam chowder was rich in flavor, and the ingredients were well cooked, and the bread was fabulous. It’s also fun to see the bakers making cute animal shaped sourdough breads.

boudin

And what meal would be complete without dessert? Lucky for us, Ghirardelli Square was close by. We made our way uphill to Ghirardelli Square (http://www.ghirardellisq.com/ghirardellisq/), which has been there since the late 1800’s.  My sister and I opted for hot fudge sundaes. She had the brownie hot fudge sundae with dark chocolate syrup, while I had the original hot fudge sundae with milk chocolate syrup. I promise it tasted as delicious as it looks. Three scoops of vanilla ice cream, with three pumps of hot fudge, topped with whipped cream and a brownie.

After our tasty treat and a tiring trip back to the hotel, we took a mini break. We stayed at Hotel Nikko (http://www.hotelnikkosf.com/) in Union Square, and let me tell everyone. What a wonderful place to stay. The staff was friendly and extremely helpful with directions and suggestions. The room was gigantic and the bathroom even more so. The beds were cozy and the pillows were fluffy. Nap time was an awesome time. I can’t even say I missed my bed because this was much nicer. Hah. The hotel sports a full service spa, indoor pool, a Japanese fusion restaurant called ANZU, which we didn’t get a chance to eat at, but it’s a pretty good spot according to yelp.

Luckily, Union Square has tons of restaurants. It’s a more touristy spot, with all sorts of shops and malls around the corner, but it was definitely a good place to stay. So after an hour of rest, we ventured out to the surrounding areas and tried to get some shopping in. Shops close early in SF. 8pm on a Friday? That’s just not normal to me. Anyways, we decided we needed to eat again. And, walking back to the hotel, we spotted a sushi joint called Hana Zen (http://www.hanazenrestaurant.com/) and decided to give it a try.

sfday1d

My sister is the sushi fanatic, and she got her usual salmon nigiri and hamachi roll, but that night they were serving otooro, which is fatty tuna belly. Apparently, it’s a delicacy to have and it’s seasonal so you can’t get it just anywhere or any time of year. Other places we went to didn’t have it available. Anyways, the waiter convinced her to try it, and she did. She was soooooo happy because it was so amazingly good that she paid for dinner that night. Hah. I, on the other hand, had the steak terriyaki. I’m somewhat of a steak terriyaki snob and only have 2, now 3, places where I love it. I like meat medium well to well done, and usually when it’s cooked that long, the meat is tough and hard to chew. Well, the meat here was grilled, tender and juicy and it was topped with an excellent terriyaki sauce that wasn’t too tangy or too sweet. Veggies on the side along with steamed rice. It was delicious.

sfday1c

That my friends, concludes day 1. It may not have seemed like much, but it was definitely plenty. We knew the next day was going to be an early day, so we basically called it a night and hopped into our comfy beds. Day 2 is going to be fun filled with pictures from the Cherry Blossom Festival.

reina-sm – Chelle

April 26, 2009 at 4:24 am 5 comments

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