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Archive for October, 2013|Monthly archive page

Empire Ice Cream and Tazo Rest Tea

In Food, Food Product for Home on October 30, 2013 at 11:17

Doof Home

At the Eat Local store, they had Empire Ice Cream.

Empire Ice Cream is exclusive to Eat Local stores only.

There were many flavors to choose from in the freezer.

I chose the more unique flavors to try: a carrot cake ice cream and blackberry pie.


Their ingredients were amazingly good: organic milk and cream, local organic blackberries and carrots.

Just seeing such clean labels wet my appetite!

Time for taste tests.


The ice cream looked stunning.  Chunks of blackberries were visibly, small bits of carrots, pie and cake pieces.

The blackberry pie ice cream had amazing “diacetyl” flavor.

This was a term we used a lot during my days of dairy judging at University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Diacetyl is a naturally occurring organic volatile compound that gives butter its “buttery” aroma.

It was a desirable characteristics that yielded high grades for dairy products.

The cream and milk they used in this ice cream was fantastic!

The blackberries were fresh and tart.  The flavors of the pie crust was fantastic, similar to graham crackers.

The texture of the ice cream were a little icy.

I wasn’t sure if it was inherent with the ice cream or due to our longer than expected transportation time home.

Aside from the small ice crystals though, I love the light texture.

The ice cream reminded me more of sorbet than ice cream.

Aftertaste was very clean and no clogging lingering sweetness, which was great.

The carrot cake ice cream had super light flavors.

Very subtle carrot flavor, but big burst of flavors from the cake chunks.

It was wonderfully layered with cinnamon like spice flavors, coupled with the buttery dough and walnuts.

I enjoyed Empire ice cream a lot.

Ingredients were fresh and fantastic; the ice cream were also very refreshing.

DH, however, did not like the ice cream at all due to its super chunkiness.


Saw this Tazo Rest tea at Target and the ingredients were very intriguing.

It was made with lemon balm, rose petals, honeybush, orange peel, lemon myrtle, lemon verbena, licorice root, lavender, valerian root, natural flavors, ginger, orange essence

oil and Chinese geranium oil.

I loved the golden color of the tea when it was brewed.

The aroma was wonderful and very calming.

Rose was prominent with pleasant citrus, lavender and vanilla.

The flavor was consistent with the nose, with orange flavor taking the lead.

The aftertaste was clean and left a mild lingering orange flavor that was wonderful.

The tea tasted naturally sweet and it may have potential with milk.

I probably would brew a cup of double tea bags’ strength before attempting milk addition.

The tea bags lost their flavors pretty quickly.

As it stood, I could only get an 8 oz. cup out of one tea bag.


Eat Local and Iyara Thai

In Eating Out, Food on October 28, 2013 at 10:52

Doof Out

Went to Eat Local for some food preparation help.

Eat Local has several locations in the Greater Seattle area that sells prepared frozen meals.

They have everything from appetizers, soups, entrees to side dishes and desserts.

They also carried frozen fish and meat for purchase.

The dishes came in different serving sizes with meat options and vegetarian options.

Their dishes are on the pricey side.

In turn, they do use fantastic ingredients such as 100% grass-fed beef, organic chicken, sustainably caught fish and local vegetables.

This was my first visit to the Capitol Hill locations. My prior visits were at the Queen Anne location.


This store was hip and fun!

Rows and rows of refrigerated cases with delicious wholesome frozen food!



The store person gave me a sample of the chicken nicoise and I was sold!

That day, I bought cottage pie and chicken nicoise.

DH gulped them all down by the time I came back from the retreat!

It is a fun place to check out!


Visited Iyara Thai in Redmond after a bit of hiatus.

Sad to find out that they have changed ownership.

They no longer serve some of the unique appetizers/street foods, which is very unfortunate.

I believe the small bites made the restaurant stood out from the rest of the many Thai restaurants around town.

One of the yummiest of these unique appetizers were these small ball shape bites that were made with ground pork, herbs and ground peanuts inside; wrapped with an opaque chewy mochi-like dough outside.

Each one of them was served on a spoon.  They were wonderful!

The menu now is the regular Thai restaurant fare, except with 2 dishes I have not seen before.

One was the Suki Haeng.

Turned out it was a stir-fry noodle dish with narrow mung bean noodle and lots of napa cabbage, shrimps and chickens.

The sauce was delicious.

The restaurant called the sauce chili bean curd sukiyaki sauce.

It tasted like Chinese fermented tofu with chili paste and perhaps sweetened soy sauce.

The flavor was strong and extremely appetizing and delicious.

There was another Suki dish as well but I was not able to see it on the online menu.


We had their Tom Yum with shrimp which was excellent: it was flavorful with lemongrass, red onions green onions, ginger and cilantro, and light.

We had a basil dish, Panang curry and Pad Thai as well, all were very tasty.

Particularly the Pad Thai was flavorful yet dry (not too saucy) and the noodles were done exactly right for their texture.


Iyara Thai Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Chocoholic’s Chocolate Cherry Muffin – Gluten Free and Vegan

In Food, Home Creation on October 23, 2013 at 14:06

Doof Home

Experiment with a chocoholic muffin recipe and I am excited with this creation!

WARNING: the muffins contain super strong dark chocolate flavor.

A tiny little muffin goes a long way to satisfy chocolate cravings!


I elected to use Trader Joe’s sipping chocolate powder mix for its intense chocolate flavor.

Aside from cocoa powder, the powder mix also contains cocoa butter and chocolate liquor.

The downside is that it also contains cane sugar.

To make the muffin truly vegan, be sure to use chocolate chunks without dairy.

Alternatively, chocolate bars without dairy can be purchased and chopped into chunks for this application.

I feel really good eating these treats since I am basically consuming almonds, with chocolate, cherries and little bit of sugar.



2 cup almond flour

4 tbsp. milled flax-seed

1 cup of dried cherries, chopped if whole

1 cup of chocolate chunks

3 tbsp. of Trader Joe’s sipping chocolate powder mix

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tbsp. agave

1 tsp. red wine vinegar*

12 tbsp. of water

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

*white vinegar, apple cider vinegar will be fine



Preheat oven at 325F.

Mixed all the dry ingredients together thoroughly in a medium bowl.

Mix the wet ingredients in a larger bowl.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Line the muffin tray with paper liners and scoop batter individually to the cup.^

Bake for 20 mins.

Take the muffin tray out of the oven and cool on wire rack for at least half an hour before consumption.

Makes about 12 small muffins.

^ the batter does not rise much from baking, feel free to top the batter to the brim of the paper liners.

Cafe Lago

In Eating Out, Food on October 21, 2013 at 13:31

Doof Out

Heard my friends talked about Café Lago being great for a very long time and still never been until last night!

Due to the romantic lighting in the restaurant, my food pictures did not do justice for the quality of the food.

Our friends ordered the appetizer Pomodori al Forno and they were amazing!


The garlicky toasts were very crisp and still maintained resemblance of bread.

I personally did not like toasts that were completely crunchy, hard, and cracker-like.

The roasted tomatoes were super delicious with intense tomato flavors, sweet and tart.

I felt like I ate a dozen tomatoes rather than just one roasted tomato!

The goat cheese complimented the toast and tomatoes really well.

It was just all around excellent.

I ordered the Parpadelle with pork shoulder.

I loved the texture of the pasta.


It was in the chewier camp which I preferred, and the pasta was cooked perfectly.

The tiny plate was extremely filling as the pasta was so dense.

The dish felt very home-made.

The rustic flavors of the pork shoulder was excellent with tomatoes and aromatics.

DH got the Giardiniere pizza without cheese, and with a generous amount of roasted red peppers, sliced onions, garlic, basil and tomato sauce.


The crust was thin and nice.

Personally I still prefer Veraci’s pizza crust flavor and texture, which was a little sweeter and chewier.

Our friends ordered desserts as well: panna cotta and chocolate truffle cake.

Both were fantastic.

Perfect texture on the panna cotta.

It was soft and creamy, definitely not gelatinous with excellent milky creamy flavor.

The chocolate truffle cake had deep dark chocolate flavor, smooth, creamy and decadent.

I will most definitely return to Café Lago again.

My friend mentioned that the chef sometimes made this pork sausage with pasta that was to die for.

It was not on the menu last night.

Another trip to go back and try!

There are very few Italian restaurants in the Greater Seattle that I really love.

I believe Café Lago will make it on the list!

Cafe Lago on Urbanspoon

Shepherd’s Pie

In Food, Home Creation on October 18, 2013 at 13:20

Doof Home

This is the dish that brings about the downfall of my vegetarianism.  I love this too much!

Since I started making this dish, it has been the No. 1 favorite for DH, beating out spaghetti and pizzas.

This recipe was from Gordon Ramsey’s TV show “F words”, with modifications.



0.5 lb. Ground beef*

0.5 lb. Ground lamb*

1 large carrot, shredded^

1 large onion, shredded^

1 stick of rosemary, remove leaves from stem and minced

1 tsp of dried thyme

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1.5 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1/2 to 3/4 can of tomato paste

2 to 3 tbsp white vinegar”

1.5 lb potatoes, washed and prick with fork

1/4 soy milk (milk, heavy cream can also be used)

3.5 tbsp butter, melted

2 eggs

Olive oil

Black pepper


*alternatively, a full pound of beef or lamb is equally as delicious

^grated carrots and onions would yield way better result, but it takes too much time.  I generally use food processor to shred.

“I found that the more lamb I use, the more vinegar I use.  taste for personal preference.


Preheat oven at 400F.

Heat oil in pan at high heat.

Add meat into pan.  Work quickly to break the lumps.

Cook until 75% done and add garlic, rosemary and thyme.  Stir some more until meat is cooked.

Add carrots and onions into the mix.

Once everything is mixed well, add tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar and black pepper.

Turn to low to medium heat and let the carrots and onions soften.

Once the carrots and onions are cooked, turn off heat and scoop the mix into a baking dish.

Bring water to boil.  Add potatoes into pot.

Boil until the potatoes are done (I test mine with a fork to make sure I can poke through each potato).

Take potatoes out and peel their skin while they are hot.

Mash potatoes with mashers or fork.  Add butter and soy milk.

Mix thoroughly.  Add eggs.

Mix more and add black pepper and salt to taste.

Scoop mashed potatoes and spread evenly on top of meat mix.

Bake for 18-20 mins.

Key is to work with the potatoes quickly and spread the mashed potatoes on the meat mix while the potatoes are warm.  Otherwise, it will be very difficult to spread the mashed potatoes.

To make this dish more decadent, parmesan cheese can be added to the mashed potatoes.  About 1/4 cup.

Lardo and Vegucated

In Eating Out, Food, Food Media, Movie, North America, Travel Food on October 16, 2013 at 16:40

Doof Out


On the way back from Portland, we stopped by Lardo for sandwiches.

I love this place.  Food is quick and good.

One of the great sandwiches around town.

I had their pork belly, pork shoulder and pork meat ball sandwiches before, which were all excellent albeit a little gut bomb.

I opted for a vegetarian sandwich which I never had at Lardo.

They had about 3-4 vegetarian sandwiches there which was a lot more than many other places had to offer.


It was a chanterelle mushrooms sandwich with sunny side up egg, arugula and normally with cheese, which I got without.

The sandwich was delicious and the egg was well prepared with the runny egg yolk.

There was not as much flavors bursting in my mouth as their meat sandwiches.

Nonetheless a decent vegetarian option.

I shared the dirty fries with my friend, which consisted of parmesan, fresh sage, marinated hot peppers and most important pork scraps.


It was such an indulgent.

The pork belly pieces were fried golden and crisp.

And it paired so well with the hot marinated peppers.

Lardo on Urbanspoon

Doof Media

Vegucated was a fun movie!

The vegan producer recruited 3 people for her 6-week “going vegan experiment”.

The producer started off with basic medical measurements at a doctor’s office for these folks: weight, blood pressure, cholesterol levels.

She then introduced the 3 subjects to an array of vegan foods in the grocery store and ways to cook vegan.

Throughout the movie, they visited vegan conference, went to farms to see how animals were treated, obtained knowledge on how animals were slaughter.

The movie also candidly recorded the struggle of some of the subjects in going vegan: it was difficult to eat with their family; options were limited when they travelled outside of US.

Towards the end of the movie, the 3 folks got the final medical measurements.

As expected, they all lost weight, reduced their blood pressure and cholesterol.

Sample of three was hardly statistically sound; however, I love the fact that the film was able to focus in-depth of the 3 people who were embarking on a life changing journey – it was their experiences, their interactions with their families and friends.

The producer had followed up after 6 weeks as well to investigate whether the eating habits had stuck with the subjects.

One person really embraced it with their family, others were vegetarian and flexible.

My own experience of trying to eat less animal products have not been easy.

I see it as a win already that I am eating about a total of small palm size amount of meats or eggs (mostly in the form of seafood) everyday, and keeping up with my liquid dairy consumption to only twice a week (in the form of milk or ice cream).

I have been consistently having this limited animal product food consumption for about a month.

Strangely enough, the thought of consuming meat is not as compelling anymore.

Maybe the new habit will stick this time!

Eating Out in Portland — Viking Soul Food and Pix Patisserie

In Eating Out, Food, North America, Travel Food on October 14, 2013 at 15:53

Doof Out

Was out on a yoga retreat in OR last week with no internet and cell phone access.  More on that later.

We stopped by Portland before heading south to the retreat.  Stopped by one of my favorite food trucks, Viking Soul Food and tried out a new dessert place, Pix Patisserie which was recommended by my friend.



Viking Soul Food serves Lefse –  a rustic thin potato flatbread that was prepared on a griddle, very similar to crepe.

They serve their Lefse sweet or salty.

Normally I would have Viking Soul Food’s staple – Lefse with smoked salmon, dill crème fraiche, shallot and watercress.

I had the meat ball with surkal (sweet and sour cabbage) and cheese sauce as well which was fantastic.

Sweet Lefse varieties include lingonberries and lemon curd.

However, on that particular day, they served a special Autumn chowder that just looked too good to pass – leek, chanterelle mushrooms, squash and potatoes.

I got a side of the excellent Lefse and surkal with the chowder.


I used the warm, slightly salty Lefse for dipping the chowder and they paired so well together.

The Surkal tasted just like a colesalw with my borscht flavor!

It was sweet and sour, flavored with cumin.

The Surkal brought some lightness to the meal with its acidity.

The innocent looking amount of food exploded in my stomach right after I finished them.

I guess the Lefse expanded in my stomach exponentially!

My eyes were however, bigger than my stomach.

My friend and I headed onwards to Pix Patisserie.

Once we entered the store, it was just like a dessert Disneyland!


All the desserts were beautifully made and displayed.


They had macaroons and also chocolates for sale.

What we did not know was that they also serve food – tapas no less!


It had the staple of marinated anchovies, olives, tortilla Espanola, garlic shrimps, ham, and many more!


Unfortunately I was just way to full from the Lefse.

I got their chocolate cherry mousse for dessert.

My friend got the churros and drinking chocolate.

The chocolate cherry mousse was creamy with lovely dark chocolate flavor.

The cherry mousse flavor was subtle but the drunken cherry in the middle of the dessert was strong!

It was an upscale maraschino cherry soaked heavily in alcohol!  I felt that I could breathe fire after eating it!


Next time I have to visit Pix Patisserie with an absolute empty stomach for their tapas and the many desserts!

Viking Soul Food on Urbanspoon

Pix Patisserie on Urbanspoon

Miro Tea Cafe

In Eating Out, Food on October 7, 2013 at 09:23

Doof Out

Had the opportunity to visit Miro Tea in Seattle.

Would love to spend half a day there!

Unfortunately I only had time for to-go.

I loved the comfortable earth tone in the store, with a soothing lay back atmosphere.


Their tea menu however, was intense!

Miro Tea offered more than 200 kinds of loose leaf teas in their tea menu.

The tea menu was a book-thick, with pictures of the teas, and descriptions and ingredients of each tea.


Miro Tea was definitely a destination for tea lovers!

I ordered the herbal elixir and Paradiso.

Both were very delicious.

The herbal elixir had nice herby flavor with lemongrass and citrus notes. Very strong and spicy ginger.

The spiciness lingered well into the aftertaste.

The Paradiso was extremely fragrant and fruity.

Flavors of strawberries and peach; the tea was naturally sweet and tart.

I was really impressed that the staff took the time to steep the tea properly in strainer with timer before handing over the to-go cup.

While I was waiting for my to-go teas, I observed that the “for here” teas were served In a double glass wall tea cups to keep the teas warm.

Folks who ordered full pot of teas had their teas served in glass tea pots with candle warmers.

I would also love to try their iced teas concoction.

The ingredient combinations seemed exciting and tasty.

Sadly, they stopped serving iced teas by end of September.


Other beverages included chai and tea lattés.

The shop also served sweet and savory crêpes, wraps, sandwiches, along with delicious-looking pastries and cakes.

I wish Miro Tea would open another store on the east side.

For the time being, I am aware that local Whole Foods carries Miro Tea.

I shall go check out what they have!

Miro Tea on Urbanspoon

Vegetarian Sausages and Some Really Old White Wines

In Food Product for Home on October 3, 2013 at 16:52

Doof Home

Costco run last week yielded these locally made-in-Seattle vegetarian sausages.

These fit right into the plan of eating less animal products.

They looked delicious enough to purchase and try.


Each Costco pack came with 3 flavors – spicy Mexican chipotle, smoked apple and sage, and Italian with eggplant.

The ingredients were very clean and the primary ingredient was vital wheat gluten.

Preparing them was a little cumbersome.

Each sausage had an inedible casing which needed to be cut and split off before grilling or frying.

Once the casing was removed though, the aroma alone was worth the effort.

All the sausages were very fragrant and smelled like real sausages.

Taste test was next.

All sausages were fairly dense, which was expected from imitation meat.

I was amazed to find some flavors had better texture than others.

The sausage with the best texture was the smoked apple sage.

It was probably due to the fact that the sausage contained Yukon gold potatoes and apples.

It yielded a softer moister texture for the sausage, and much more similar to regular meat sausage.

The apples were sweet with a nice hint of sage.

The spicy Mexican chipotle was SPICY!  It was quite garlicky.

The chipotle sausage had the second best texture.

The Italian with eggplant was the most dense of all three.

The sausage started to split vertically across as I was frying them.

The flavor, however, was excellent.  It tasted just like regular Italian sausage.

Overall, I liked these sausages quite a bit and most definitely would buy them again especially for parties, or making pizza.

I will be testing them out in the coming days to see if I can use these sausages in pasta sauce, whether they would hold their shapes with stirring and frying.


…and some REALLY old white wines.

When we moved into our house, the previous owner so generously left us these REALLY old white wines.

The oldest one was from 1979 and the newest of the bunch, 1993.

Curiosity won and I just had to open them and tried them.

I was expecting moldy flavor and vinegar all across.

To my surprise, each one of them behaved so differently after all these years of aging, it made this tasting of very old wine interesting.

First, I had to open the two 1979 bottles.  Both were Chardonnay: one from Argentina and one from Oregon.

Both tasted very metallic.

The corks cracked the minute wine opener was inserted.

To my surprise, the Argentinian wine was vinegary but also turned very meaty, but no moldy flavor.

The Oregon one did not fair well.  It had the expected moldy, corky flavor.  It also had flavors of curry and green apple, and tasted salty.  It was mind-boggling.

Moving onto the 80’s.  There was an 83′ and an 84′ Chardonnay from Washington.

Their colors were just wrong — the color of brewed black tea.

One had a bad cork after the foil was peeled off.  It looked crusty and moldy.

However, both had raisin, prune-like aroma.  The one with bad cork was skunky and the one with good cork was vinegary.

Finally, the 90’s.

Both were Chardonnay from Washington.

Both of the corks cracked upon opening.

Interestingly, they had an oatmeal aroma, nothing too foul.

They were very sour, astringent, and bubbly!

Both bottles tasted like very bad champagne with its paper mill, cardboard flavor, bitter and metallic.

Lastly, an unknown year table wine (second one from the right in the above picture), assuming red, but it could just as well be a very wrong colored white.

It was the first time I saw a cock partially shrunk and detached from the side of the bottle.

The cork disintegrated and as I turned the cock screw, the cork offered no resistance, and I pushed the cork downwards instead of drawing it up.

Eventually I managed to finesse the cork out and it was the foulest of the bunch.

It smelled like the Chinese black vinegar for crabs.

I could not bear to put that in my mouth.