San Francisco part 5

Eat, Hike, Sing | SF 2016

Last time on SF 2016, I woke up with the sunrise after taking a little 2-hour post-clubbing nap to meet Christine for breakfast! Then we enjoyed a really leisurely, gorgeous stroll through the Palace of Fine Arts and Crissy Field. After enjoying the scenery for a bit, it was time for a little pick-me-up!


After basking in sunshine, sea air, and people+doggy-watching, I felt my 2.5 hours of sleep catch up to me and was slammed with a wall of exhaustion. It was time for my first San Francisco cup of coffee!

Christine and I had passed several very educational signs at Chrissy Field, one of which was describing the snowy plover, a very cute little bird. It is also the name of a trendy coffee beverage at Andytown Coffee Roasters (review), which turned out to be a really refreshing drink at exactly the kind of coffee shop I expected to visit in San Francisco.dsc01659dsc01662

At Andytown, Ben joined us to perk up himself and to join us for lunch at San Tung for some delicious Chinese food. Unfortunately, Christine and I were still pretty stuffed from breakfast and Ben was too sleepy to feel hungry. But the food was really delicious.

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Original dry-fried chicken wings
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Dried sauteed string beans
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Black bean noodles

From there, it was time for us to work off all that food with the Lands End Hike. We started at the Sutro Baths, or more accurately the ruins of the baths. dsc01673

It was a beautiful, beautiful hike. A bit strenuous for sure (and all the more difficult holding our leftovers from lunch) but it was really lovely to see the views and to breathe the fresh air. This whole day was really invigorating and I was so happy to spend it with Christine and Ben.dsc01672dsc01695

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I took a LOT of photos of the Golden Gate Bridge, of the baths, of the water… but I’ll spare you for now.

The timing fairies were in our favor and, by skipping the Lands End Labyrinth, we were able to finish the hike in time to get Ben over to Japantown to meet back up with his friends for dinner. In fact, we were a bit early, so we browsed around Daiso (which we don’t have on the East Coast) and a little shopping center before splitting up for dinner.

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Greeted at the end of our hike with an affirmation that we did, in fact, hike Lands End.

I was still feeling very out of it from the lack of sleep, the hike, the abundance of food, and maybe even from the caffeine since I don’t drink a lot of caffeine at all, so I was having a hard time deciding where to eat. We finally decided on Shabuzen, where we nommed on a delicious shabu-shabu meal together. It was bittersweet for me because, with Christine headed to San Jose to see her bestie, it meant that our magical day together was coming to a close. I felt especially bad/sad about it because I was so out of it at this point in the day and was being a bit of a drag, to be super honest. (Man, 1000 props to Christine for putting up with how indecisive I was about what to eat for dinner.) (And to Ben, who puts up with that on a too-regular basis.)dsc01711

We said our goodbyes, and I still had some time before Ben’s group wrapped up at Korean BBQ, so I walked around the closing shops that we had browsed together just a little while earlier. My first walk-through, I felt sensory overload by all the things and prices and wowowowow factor, but with the shops emptying out and the sky getting darker, I was finally able to re-center and re-focus on the present and feel just a little less dead. I also got to try out this fun liquid nitrogen dessert from Chocolate Chair that was like a giant Cap’n Crunch Crunchberry (sorta) that let you breathe out dragon’s breath when you ate it. Very drying but super fun to play around with once you get used to it!

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I posted Snapchat and Instagram stories of me trying to look like a dragon! There are folks on Youtube who did a much better job than me, though.

And then our group ended the evening with karaoke because of course we did! My favorite thing! Even though I was really struggling at this point — 2.5 hours of sleep and it being about 4AM Eastern time when we finished — I still had a lot of fun at karaoke. A highlight was hearing one of Ben’s friends do a Tupac song, because I don’t know him too well and no one has ever heard him rap before, let alone go through an entire Tupac Shakur song! It was a beautiful moment, I will treasure it forever, along with the time that me and another person simultaneously put “Careless Whisper” (aka the sexy sax song) on the karaoke queue. (It literally came up twice in a row because we both entered it around the same time. It was destiny.) (Also, we wound up forgetting our leftovers at karaoke. After I forgot to hand them back to Christine. After carrying them around for our entire hike. Womp womp, that was an epic fail.)

Our last full day in San Francisco finally came to a close, and honestly, I had a really amazing time. I only started fading around dinner, but the energy of the Bay really kept me going. We had so many amazing Lyft and Uber drivers throughout the day. The weather was absolutely perfect.

It was going to be hard to say goodbye to this wonderful weekend.

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I love this photo.

Did we miss any major sights while we were in San Francisco?
What are your favorite Japantown eats?
And what’s the last super-hyped food you tried? Was it worth it?
The dragon’s breath dessert was… just okay. Really drying, not particularly tasty, and the effect of the liquid nitrogen doesn’t last very long. But it’s fun to try once and to split it with a bunch of friends!

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Unlimited Possibilities (U.P.)

I wanted to treat Ben (and myself) to a little something special for our recent trip to New York, so I booked us seats at Dominique Ansel’s after-hours, 7-course, dessert-only, 8-seat tasting menu, Unlimited Possibilities (U.P.).

I first learned of U.P. from my friend Michelle, who wrote an amazing write-up for the “First Memories Last Forever” menu that was available last year. The thought and execution of a menu that was designed around memorable “firsts” really drew me in, and I loved seeing how they used dessert to evoke these experiences and tell a story.

(I’m going to tell you right now that I was not impressed with the desserts. They were a lot more fun to look at than they were to eat. We left starving and unsatisfied.)

This season’s menu theme is “American Dreams“. (The theme changes every 6 months.) Each course is meant to evoke a different era of American dreams, beginning with the gold rush and ending with viral video. There is an additional wine pairing option, although we didn’t opt for that because we don’t drink very much so it didn’t seem worth it. We were, however, given a champagne flute of sparkling apple cider (one of my favorites!) to kick off the evening as they lowered the table from the ceiling.

We were then served a savory amuse-bouche because it’s supposed to be an inverted tasting, so because all our courses were sweet, courses that would ordinarily be sweet were savory.

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Beetroot cracker with mushroom and pickled radish, yogurt sauce underneath

Our first course, Eureka!, was meant to evoke the gold rush. This was an interactive course, where we had to sift for gold nuggets. The “dirt” was coffee grounds were brewed during our meal and given to us at the end of our meal as a cold brew to enjoy. I didn’t realize that one of the nuggets was a sourdough bread pudding…? This was pretty fun to sieve through and the cold dessert was refreshing considering how hot it was outside. (A little messy, though, with the coffee grounds and lack of utensils to eat this with… Not exactly finger food!)

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Dim Sum, Dessert, & Soccer| NYC 2016

Last time on NYC 2016, we were a lot more successful with the alliterative post titles… and we really tried to experience some more typical tourist activities like Smorgasburg (which I left the island of Manhattan for, yes) and Broadway and even some shopping in Times Square, which both of us have learned to avoid. It was time for our last full day in my home city.

Note: I took almost no photos this day EXCEPT at our dessert-dinner, which will get its own dedicated post, so brace yourself for a lot of text and not a lot of pictures to go with it, sorry!


One thing I came away from our latest trip to New York with was the feeling that we managed to do so much this trip without exhausting ourselves. We had a lot of activities, but I didn’t plan every minute of every hour. We had a lot of leisure time built in. (Remember those cuh-razy naps in the middle of the day? Unheard of for me.)

We made plans to get dim sum with Ben’s friends that we were partying with in Koreatown the other night (which was bonus time with them, as we had only planned for dim sum!), so Sunday morning we headed down to Chinatown. Dim sum in Chinatown on the weekends is a great opportunity for catching up, because you will be waiting in line for a while. We wound up being seated fastest at Joy Luck Palace, which, to be honest, I wouldn’t visit again. The food was all pretty meh and we had to specially ask for egg custard tarts, aka dan ta 蛋挞! Those should be standard, not something we ask them to make for us and then wait half an hour to eat. (But shout out to the manager who did acquiesce our request for those little golden delights.) Also, in a show of who is truly more popular in the New York metropolitan area, Ben’s old college roommate’s family showed up for dim sum and I got to meet a lot of family members that I didn’t get to see when they graduated!

(There was also a lot of Pokemon Go, as the app had just been released a few days prior to our trip and there were a lot of Pokestops in the area!)

After dim sum, we chilled for a bit in Columbus Park while waiting for some other folks to meet us. My friend Yufeng showed me Columbus Park for the first time when I visited a little while ago and it is like a tiny piece of China in the middle of Chinatown. There are seniors doing tai chi and a lot of small kids running around with their grandmothers calling after them. Old men playing Chinese chess in their singlets, middle-aged ladies doing choreography for fitness. Often, there will be some music playing to accompany the dancing and/or tai chi. It’s a really serene park that I love spending down time relaxing in. We chilled while watching a local league basketball game go down (they were really good!) and I panicked once when a small child ran directly to me for help in tying off his water balloon. (It’s like he knew that tying off water balloons is one of the skills I was too afraid to learn?!)

With the whole crew assembled (and a few new Pokemon for our friends), we walked over to the Bowery Beer Garden (located beneath the Wyndham Garden Chinatown) to watch the much-anticipated UEFA Euro Final between Portugal and France. We got there pretty late as far as a good view of the TVs went, but we were still able to enjoy the game. Soccer is one of the few sports that I get really into watching, but I haven’t been following for a while. When asked which team I was rooting for, I didn’t know until the end when Portugal scored their sole, game-winning goal and I felt devastated. Evidently, I was rooting for France! It was a lot of fun to watch the game, despite how hot and mosquito-y the day had started to feel.

Ben and I then parted ways with our friends to start heading over to Greenwich Village for our dinner reservation. Well, dinner might not be entirely accurate. I wanted to treat Ben to something special, so I got us seats at Unlimited Possibilities (U.P.) by Dominique Ansel. I will have a more in-depth review coming up soon, but it is an 8-seat tasting menu of all desserts. The theme of ours was American Dreams, with each course based on a different era of American success and ideals. I would definitely recommend eating a light dinner beforehand, as the courses, while well-thought out, aren’t very big. And it is dessert! (We scarfed down some more Joe’s Pizza in Washington Square Park before heading inside because duh.) It was a really nice experience that I’m glad we could try once.

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A preview of our time at U.P.!

Holding little silver balloons and bellies full of sweets, we headed back up to our hotel to meet one of my oldest friends, who lived just a few blocks away. (I thought he had moved, but he’s still there after a few years!) We had a quick catch-up late-night meal at BXL East and it was just like old times. I’ve known him since I was 12 and no matter how much time passes between us talking, we fall really easily back into laughter and jokes, which I appreciate so so much.

Our last morning in New York, we woke up, enjoyed our coffee parting gifts from U.P., and munched on pastries at the nearby Paris Baguette, which may be becoming a departure tradition for me. Then, one last yellow cab trip to the Javitz Center to reminisce about a very boring conference for Ben and away on our bus we went.

And you can bet we got Bojangles upon returning to DC this time.


What is a treat-yo-self meal that you like to indulge in when you visit New York? It was my first time doing a ~fancy~ meal but I know there are a lot of other ways to blow cash on good food in the city!

What are your favorite dim sum dishes? Mine are the 凤爪 chicken feet (!!), the 蝦肠粉shrimp in rice noodle rolls, and 蛋挞 egg custard tarts, among many others.

Where else should we have visited in New York? We can go next time!

Sansa’s Lemon Cakes [recipe]

Season 6 of Game of Thrones is in full swing! I am a reluctant latecomer to this show, as I don’t watch any HBO shows and tend to not really jump on a popular show’s bandwagon once it gets really big. Especially dramas. I was definitely really resistant to watching GoT because I heard it was very graphically violent and sexually explicit, two things I usually avoid in my shows.

But with spoilers on my newsfeeds and timelines every Sunday evening and Monday, I knew an awful lot about Game of Thrones without having ever watched a single minute from the show. I could have made a very impressive “Things I Know Without Watching the Show” slideshow, as I did with Doctor Who a few years back. (In fact, I think I started one and then just decided to watch the show, because I had so much information on my hands…)

Sansa refusing to eat her favorite food with Tyrion Lannister

So of course, in a totally expected move, I decided to have a themed watch party for the season 6 premiere! It was my first time watching the show live (and not several episodes at a time on HBOGo) so we went to Don and Megan’s (of recently-married fame on this blog here) and had a themed feast! Don made each of us our own honey-glazed Cornish game hen with roasted onions, potatoes, and carrots. Ben and I brought bread & salt (which was supplemented with some olive oil and black pepper) and a salad to balance out our feast, as well as the ingredients for Sansa Stark’s favorite lemon cakes.

Lemon cakes served to Sansa by her aunt Lysa

Most fans may know that lemon cakes are Sansa’s favorite food, but why? It stems from young Sansa’s aspirations of being a lady, doing ladylike things, living that lavish lady life. Lemons are extremely hard to come by in frosty Winterfell, so it makes sense that a young girl who wants to live this life of luxury would yearn for this hard-to-get delicacy and how easily it fits into her image of what life as a lady would be like: laughing in a courtyard, drinking tea, eating lemon cakes, with other ladies who shared her interests. It’s an idyllic world that, unfortunately, is unlikely to become a reality for Sansa. But she can still enjoy delicious lemon cakes.

Margaery and Olenna Tyrell offering Sansa lemon cakes

This was my first time using a recipe by Rosanna Pansino, aka Nerdy Nummies, and I had a few issues with doing so:

  1. While she does have the ingredients + quantities listed in the video description, there were no steps written in the description and no link pointing to a written recipe anywhere to be found. So, I was stuck rewatching parts of her video over and over in order to get the steps. Thankfully, this was a fairly short and simple recipe.
  2. The video was a bit annoying to watch over and over again. I felt like the target audience for Ro’s video was children, with her overly playful and silly tone and jokes, and it was irritating listening to them over and over again trying to determine the directions for these cakes.
  3. These cakes are intended to be served upside down so that the lemon on the bottom of the tins when you bake are on the top when you serve them. This is all well and fine BUT because we are baking in muffin tins, they have rounded tops and will not sit flat unless you slice off the bottoms. Which I would prefer not to do to avoid crumbly edges.

With that being said, here a written-down recipe adaptation of Ro’s lemon cakes, which did turn out very delicious, especially served with the freshly whipped cream that Don whipped up.
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September Favorites

Doing a favorites post every Friday was a lot of pressure, so now that I’m trying to stick to a Tuesday/Friday update schedule, I thought I’d take some time to share a handful of favorites from the month of September!

Hershey’s Sundae Pie

This used to be one of the main reasons that Burger King was my favorite fast food joints. (It was this and onion rings, of course.) Since I don’t eat fast food very much anymore, I haven’t had this in a really long time. I did have one shining day where I bought it so I didn’t feel too bad about walking out with free Satisfries (remember that promotion?) when my friend said something that changed my life:

“They sell these pies in supermarkets, you know.”

I did not know that! But now I do, as I have proof right in my freezer.

You think it’s gorgeous now?
LOOK AT THAT GOODNESS <drool>

It is decadent, it is indulgent, it is wonderful. Come over and I’ll share with you. Or, more likely, no one will come over and I’ll eat the rest by myself.

Down[-Alternative] Duvets

I am the last member of my family to get a down/down-alternative duvet. It’s just one of those nice luxuries that I somehow got left out of in my family. Just like how everyone else had a tablet — specifically an iPad — and smartphone before I did. But those weren’t things I wanted.

A comfy, fluffy down-filled (or down-alternative-filled) duvet? Want. And want I did for a few years. Now that I am moved into my new place, I thought it was the perfect chance for me to get a new, warmer duvet.

It feels SOOO nice, even though it was summer when I started using it and a bit toasty. I got this one and it is lovely!

So comfy and cozy! And now I have something to put in duvet covers!

Fall TV Premieres

September is when the networks get their fall lineups up and running and this year I am really excited. Maybe it’s because I gave up TV for 40+ days this year but I just feel like there are SO many good shows this fall! Also I have to catch up on all my shows that I stopped watching during Lent last year. Here are some of the brand new shows I’m excited about:

Gotham: Mondays at 8PM on Fox
Selfie: Tuesdays at 8PM on ABC
Black-ish: Wednesdays at 9:30PM on ABC

Some shows I have to wait for mid-season premieres, but hey, whatever keeps my TV queue light is okay by me. Of course, I still have lots of other TV to watch so I’m going to be keeping busy with my weekend TV catch-up sessions.

Willow & Sassafrass (aka my friend’s kittens)

Cuties sharing food even though they each have their own dishes.

For all the grief they give me, I do love these kitties. They’ve gotten so big since I first met them, and they had already doubled in size between when they arrived in their new home and when I first got to see them! These sister kittens are so precious to me, despite my being slightly allergic to them. I really love just playing with their toys and then watching them curl up for little catnaps because they’re all worn out from playing.

Cuties sleeping next to each other even though there is so much room elsewhere.

Winnie the Pooh plush

Winnie the Pooh Plush - Mini Bean Bag - 7''
Available at your local Disney Store and online (click to be directed to the Disney Store online, where they are having a promotion on these mini plushies!)

I usually have a lot of stuffed animals on my bed, mostly because I attach a lot of sentimental value to them and like to have them there. Since moving to my new apartment, most of my bed buddies haven’t migrated over just yet as I tried to focus on essentials like having a bed in the first place.

My bed was pretty lonely, especially given that my new bedspread color scheme is greys. Don’t get me wrong, I do really like the greys but I hadn’t gotten around to getting a little pop-of-color throw yet. I was looking in my work bag and I found Pooh! I had been prepared to bring him to work to remind me of the simple pleasures while at work, but I deemed the office to be a hostile environment for a bear like him.

Now, he is the sole bed buddy (at least for now) in my room, and he is so soft and I love him to bits.


September was kind of rough, but October is here! I’ll be spending the next few weeks primarily planning, planning, planning, so I hope that all comes through!

How was your September? Any random recommendations from your month?