March 4, 2015

Whiskey Tasting Night

After a long three week detox from alcohol, the husband and I hosted a whiskey tasting party.

Highlights of the night:
- 10 bottles of whiskey
- whiskey ginger jello shots
- clams with white wine and garlic
- "faux gras"
- lumpia
- macarons
- instant pho

We were up drinking until 4 am that night. Good times! 

February 17, 2015

Urchin Bistrot

584 Valencia Street, San FranciscoCA 94110

About a week ago, we had dinner with a group of friends at Urchin Bistrot before getting drinks at Southern Pacific Brewing in the Mission. The restaurant was a cute little bistro that was tucked between many other restaurants. 

Our party started off with a round of drinks from the specialty cocktails menu, and all of them were surprisingly mediocre. My drink was named "Down the Rabbit Hole" and was made with vodka, carrot, ginger beer, lemon, and rosemary. It tasted like watered down carrot juice. 

We ordered appetizers to share, and each had our own entrees. I was afraid that it would be too much food, but the portions were pretty small. 

steak tartare with fried oysters
ocean trout fume
duck liver mousse with quince compote
The steak tartare and the ocean trout fume were both pretty good, but the duck liver mousse was a weird watery consistency which made it difficult to eat. We also ordered a gougere to share, and it was cheesy and warm.

sea urchin spaghettini
I ordered the spaghettini as my main dish, and it was delicious. I just wish that there was triple the amount of sea urchin in it! 

The overall dining experience was okay. I was pretty disappointed in their drinks, and I thought that the food was only decent. Considering how hard it was to get a reservation, I don't think I will be coming back.

The husband and I are detoxing from alcohol for the next 3 weeks. Wish us luck! 

February 7, 2015

Siem Reap

The first stop of our Southeast Asia trip was Siem Reap, Cambodia. We wanted to go there primarily to see Angkor Wat but also to try some Cambodian food.

December was a great time to visit because of the cool, dry weather. Cool meaning 80s to 90s, and dry meaning not too much humidity. It was still super duper hot! I can only imagine what it would be like climbing all those temples during the monsoon season.

Some thoughts about Siem Reap:

(1) It is highly recommended to hire a tour guide and driver. Cambodia has a crazy history, and it's worth hiring a tour guide to learn all about the past. Without someone to take you around, all the temples are more or less the same since there are no signs anywhere. Also, in the hot and humid weather, you'll be thankful to come back to an air conditioned car after every stop.

(2) The historical sites are unsecured. Tourists are basically allowed to touch and climb all over ruins that are nearly 1000 years ago. The only restrictions are where it might be dangerous since structures might collapse. Because of the lack of preservation, all of the temples have been restored at least once.On the back side of the Angkor Wat complex, we saw children climbing the fences, playing in the courtyard, and picking fruit off the trees. We saw many people having picnics on the bank of the moat around the Angkor complex.

(3) US dollars are the currency of choice, and all prices are listed in US dollars. We didn't exchange any money into Cambodian riel the entire time we were there. Things are more expensive than you would expect for Southeast Asia. A ticket for the Angkor complex is $20/day. A typical meal for us with 3 dishes and 2 sodas was usually about $30. Their entire economy seems like it's funded by tourism.

(4) Cambodian food is like bland Thai food. Or maybe a mixture of Thai and Chinese food? I think we had one good meal in Cambodia. We were pretty disappointed at the food. On the plus side, you can go to Pub Street and get really cheap drinks! Our total for 2 draft beers and a whiskey coke was $1.75 USD.

Some photos from our trip:

Starting off the day bright and early at 7 am in front of Angkor Thom
View from the top of Baphoun Temple... I climbed a LOT of stairs to get here
Ta Prohm, also known as Tomb Raider temple
The trees at Ta Prohm were crazy
Banteay Srey temple, constructed of red sandstone and with really elaborate carvings
Banteay Samre temple, don't we look so tiny?
Prei Prasat temple, we climbed a million stairs all the way to the very top
We walked through a forest to get to the backside of Angkor Wat, it was so beautiful and serene
Beautiful Angkor Wat
We also drove through the countryside (where we got to see local houses) and visited the Cambodia Landmine Museum. We spent our nights at Pub Street, having drinks and trying the local cuisine.

Overall, Siem Reap is an interesting city that's packed with really unique architecture and a colorful history. I'm not a history buff but I really enjoyed learning about Cambodia. Highly recommended!