L’espirit de la Mer and Subsequently, Some Olive Oil Cake

Crickets were making quite the ruckus on the blog frontier, but I’m back! May truly was one of those crazy months; it could very well be described as fantastically frenzied. I entered, somewhat clumsily, into my mid-early-twenties, threw a successful pickling party (more on both those things later), and traveled to NYC to visit my dearest friend Diane. It was a lot of nonstop everything, but hey, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Kinfolk’s L’espirit de la Mer dinner in Brooklyn happened to land right in the middle of my NYC trip, and when I saw that it was to be hosted by Karen from Sunday Suppers  my decision to attend was pretty much made. I’ve been an ardent fan of her vision for inspiring community through shared food for a long time, so I thoroughly enjoyed her beautiful space, carefully thought out menu, and our short but lovely conversation together!

Kinfolk - Sunday Suppers
We had a mediterranean-inspired dinner that was a refreshingly simple tribute to the sea. The beet and herbed yogurt purée stole my heart, the striped bass was gloriously fresh, and the olive oil cakes with rose cream demanded to make a reappearance in my own kitchen.

Kinfolk - Sunday Suppers   Sunday Suppers - Kinfolk dinner

Kinfolk Dinners - Sunday Suppers

Talk about gorgeous! I loved watching the warm light slowly trickle out throughout the night as the bellies got fuller and the words more lingering.

Sunday Suppers - Kinfolk dinner
The best part of everything was sharing it with my one and only frangipane, Diane. She’s such a beaut! How I miss her so already!

So remember how the olive oil cakes were demanding? Here they are, happily gracing my marble slab. Seriously so delicious – the salty pistachios complement the sweetness of the rose and cake super well.

Olive Oil Cake with Rose Frosting and Salted Pistachios    Olive Oil Cake with Rose Frosting and Salted Pistachios

Olive Oil Cake with Rose Icing and Salted Pistachios

Karen made these with freshly whipped cream scented with rose, but I only had powdered sugar on hand and thus this icing was born. Happy serendipity, cause I like the way they look! Kinda like they’re dressed for a party. 

For the cake –

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup mild-flavored olive oil

Preheat oven to 325F. Oil mini-bundt pan (make sure to get all the little cracks!). Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl and the rest in another. Gradually whisk the wet into the dry. Scoop batter until it barely comes up to the where the grooves of the bundt ends.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until tester comes out clean. Let completely cool.

For the icing –

1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tsbp warm water
1 tsp rose extract
crushed salted pistachios

Mix powdered sugar with water one tablespoon at a time. Add the extract at the end. Ice each cake and sprinkle with pistachios.

Current Reads

Happy Monday! If you remember this Paris post, a nice looking magazine first made its appearance into my photographs, where I unabashedly displayed my penchant for arranging aesthetically pleasing things. I also mentioned exploring Artwords Bookshop in the previous London post, as well as the poor state of my wallet afterwards. These beautiful magazines are the wonderful culprit, but I have no regrets as I’ve been so inspired by the writing and photographs within the pages of the Travel Almanac, The Gourmand, and Hole and Corner. Here are documentations from the circumstance in which I read each journal and my favorite quote from each:

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This was taken as I was sadly packing to leave beloved Cambridge. I did a similar post like this about my airplane necessities from when I went to Japan (here) but this is the live version!

Ned Beauman, on his developing love for all things gastronomical – “Recently I went to a restaurant and had ‘ama-ebi, smoked lime yogurt, radish, and bee pollen.’ That’s the point when you look at the menu, and think that, yes, we are witnessing the decadent phase of our civilization. But then it’s unfair to single out food, because everything I do in my life is representative of that. It’s not like anything else I do is more ‘real.’ My whole lifestyle is decadent!”

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And this one taken a couple days afterwards, when I was so jet-lagged but so determined to fight it.

Ella Carstairs, on her straw museum- “There is so much to see here. The rice straw from the Far East. Wild oats, which are her favorite ‘because the colour is so soft–and it’s long.’ A doll’s house entirely made of straw. A Tutankamun. Everyone’s seen a corn dolly but have they seen a bodice made of crocheted straw thread? ‘Everybody thinks all you do with straw is make corn dollies. It’s the most peculiar thing!'”

And my favorite quote from Travel Almanac:

Carsten Höller – “I think [traveling] makes you a foreigner to yourself, it gives you a certain distance. It’s almost like taking you out of your comfortable way of sitting in yourself. This might give you the opportunity to see yourself differently–possibly.”

After reading these three, I just wonder and marvel at how many magazines out there that I’ve never heard of or seen! (And I’m a little thankful, cause then my wallet would be extra sad and skinny.) But I’d love to hear any recommendations!

City Squares | London pt 2

City-Squares-London-2

How my heart already yearns for London! Though I’m officially back and settled in the SF Bay Area, my mind still occasionally wanders to the incredible adventures had and to be had in London. Went on several day trips to different neighborhoods including Islington, Covent Garden, the Strand, and Shoreditch, and each day felt so serendipitous in all the random discoveries and cool sights we chanced upon. When we got off the tube, I only had a list of possible destinations AKA must-eats and everything else just fell into place. (Important sidenote: When I plan my day, I’m very much inclined to do so by planning everything else around what I want to eat. Embarrassing? Maybe. Yes. Oh well!) Here are some of my favorites:

– One of Yotam Ottolenghi’s restaurants in Islington, where I got to see the glorious eggplant, yogurt, pomegranate seed recipe come to life and taste numerous other delectable things! Their flourless confections were perfect for dessert, too.
– Albion in Shoreditch, a cafe, bakery, and shop that has a delightful and bright interior, crazy good scones, and yummy, yummy kedgeree.
– Another gem in Shoreditch, one which I could have spent hours in, is called Artwords Bookshop. I have never seen such a well-curated and well-stocked bookshop before! Especially in those design and art books/magazines. My poor wallet!
– London has a slew of fantastic museums and galleries, mostly all for free, and the photo I included here is from Tate Modern Art Museum. But fun story from the National Portrait Gallery: on Friday nights, they have later hours and planned activities, which I only learned because we were escaping from some surprise rain. We stumbled upon many folks sketching in the hall with all the busts, and some sketches were truly impressive! It’s completely free to join in on the fun, so we grabbed some paper, sketchboards, and chalk for ourselves and had a good time drawing men busts showcasing a diverse range of facial hair.
– If you’re craving Indian food, and want it in a hip environment, pick Dishoom! So many flavors, all so tasty. We went to Dishoom in Covent Garden, but I passed by the other one in Shoreditch and it might have been the cooler-looking space. Conclusion? Shoreditch is just the best.

P.S. I’m quite sad that this will probably be the last of the CIty Squares series from my travels in Europe…time to go back!!

City Squares | Paris

City-Squares-Paris

It’s a little crazy, how quickly and deeply I fell in love with Paris. For all the hype/literature/cinema/everything that is always said about Paris, I thought my high expectations would surely not be met, but I’m so glad they were and more! It helped that a certain gentleman, fresh baguette in hand, was waiting to meet me at a small park in Montmarte after two months of being apart. Exploring Paris with Garrett and our friend Michael, and other wonderful friends was surreal and it made the entire weekend that much more special. I’m already scheming as to how I can get back to this incredible city ASAP, and I have Marais at the top of my list for neighborhoods to explore. Some favorites (although actually everything was my favorite):

– Rue de Montorgueil. A lovely street lined with fromageries, boulangeries, patisseries, and so much more that I didn’t get to quite explore as we were pressed for time. This article was very helpful though!
– Picnic-ing at the Versailles gardens, complete with the stinkiest of cheese, a bottle of rosé, and huge baguettes. We might have also had an obnoxious dance party to some Phoenix to aid in digestion…
– Strolling along the Seine, which was even more beautiful than I imagined. There was also an interactive portion, with a giant chalkboard, fun games and maps painted on the cement, and pop-up restaurants/cafes that made the Seine a bustling, fun place to be on Saturday evening.
– Le Marais! I only got a tiny glimpse of this neighborhood, but the falafels, cool bar/bookshop, and other little shops I sorely wish we could’ve popped into, made me determined to go back next time when in Paris.
– Musee de Orsay. They had an awesome temporary Fauvist exhibit, but the Impressionist Gallery took my breath away 10+ times. Renoir! Manet! Monet! Degas! SO much beauty!!! Even though we got to enter the Louvre for free (after 6pm on Friday nights for 26 and under), the Orsay was my hands down favorite.

Paris, you’ve stolen my heart! ‘Til next we meet!

City Squares | York

City-Squares-York

I’m so behind on these City Squares! But I’ll do my best to catch up (London/Cambridge part two, and Paris!) This day trip to York happened a good three weekends ago, and even though it was just for a day, it was a splendid little town to visit. So much history to the place! My favorites:

1. Walking along the city walls. This town is like one giant fort!
2. The National Railway Museum, which is apparently the biggest in the world and free. There was typography inspiration galore here.
3. The gorgeous York Minster, where a gothic architecture fanatic will feel like they are at their own version of Disneyland.
4. Hokey Pokey ice cream!! It’s an amazing flavor combining honey comb, toffee, and vanilla. I think this needs to make its way over to America, please!

City Squares | Venice & Udine

City-Squares-Italia

No words for Italy! Okay, actually many words. Beautiful, magical, breath-taking, etc. A bit comical, how often my mouth formed “oooh’s” at how lovely everything was. Venice is so picturesque, and it truly was like getting lost in a Narnia/Renaissance time warp, where there are no honking cars, but just windy alleys, canals, and boats. I’m already itching to go back, but this time with my family and Garrett in tow! Some of my favorite memories:

1. Our first meal in Italy. Malerie and I went to different vendors at the Rialto Market, picking out grapes, tomatoes, and watermelon slices, then a cheese shop, bakery, and butcher, to have a delicious picnic feast on a dock overlooking the Grand Canal. Best burrata and tomatoes I’ve ever had!
2. San Polo and Dorsoduro neighborhoods in Venice. At some moments, it was completely empty and quiet, which added even more to the magic and charm of Venizia. Had a most amazing lunch in a restaurant in Dorsoduro, where I had the most incredible vongole!
3. Riding the vaporettos, or the water taxis. The perfect (and cheaper) way to ride along the Grand Canal!
4. Udine. An instagram of mine was picked as an Editor’s Choice for Everlane’s #whereitravel series. (Here!) What a huge honor! Here’s the story I sent over to one of the editors on Udine, and my photo:

“The photo was to commemorate the incredible time I had in Udine, a tiny town in Northern Italy just a two-hour train ride from Venice, where we were visiting for the weekend. I had never even heard of Udine until my traveling companion suggested we visit his friend, Daniele, who was home for the summer. They had met during French school in Lyon, so most of our conversations consisted of a fun amalgamation of French, Italian, and English. Daniele, in true form of Italian hospitality, took us to a town-wide party celebrating everyone born in a year ending with the number three. We came famished, but left happily full of the overflowing prosecco, honey grappa, grilled polenta, and delicious pollo. We even got our dancing shoes on, shimmy-ing and shaking with locals young and old, thanks to the live band playing everything from Italian folk songs to David Guetta. The Italians know how to celebrate! Come 2AM, we were exhausted and ready to head back home, but some shooting stars decided to make an appearance, making an amazing night even better. Needless to say, Udine was enchanting.”

Arrivederci, Italy!

City Squares | Amsterdam

City-Squares-Amsterdam

 

I am still so sad that we only got to spend a day-ish in Amsterdam. Such a beautiful, fun city with so much to see and do. I was surprised, given Amsterdam’s more well-known vices, that there was actually plenty to experience outside of that. Although we only got to go to one museum, I hear they are all amazing! I’m itching to go back already and visit Anne Frank’s house, rent some bikes, go to the Rijksmuseum, and take a boat tour along the canals.

My favorites:
1. the Van Gogh Museum! What an incredible collection of his works! (also, near this museum is a small stand where they sell waffles. Those were so, so delicious!)
2. the Sunday market, where we picked up some apricots, strawberries, and roasted cornish hens and had a feast beside a random canal.
3. Gouda cheese samples from any cheese store! It was great fun, also, to be taught the proper pronunciation of ‘gouda’
4. Dutch pancakes. I don’t quite recall the name of hte place we had our pancakes, but heard really good things about this place. Poffertjes are baby puffy pancakes and they are a must-try!

City Squares | in Belgium

City-Squares-Belgium

 

I came to Belgium hungry and ready to eat all its delicious carbs (waffles, beer, frites), but not really knowing too much of its culture otherwise. I didn’t know until two weeks ago that there was a royal family, didn’t know what Flemish sounds like, and was unaware that mussels and fries is the pairing to try when in Belgium! We went to Bruge/Brugge first, which is a lovely and quaint little town filled with funny rooftops that look like steps and small canals with. We used these handy map guides (http://www.use-it.travel/home) and lucked out with picking great places to eat! Then we headed to Brussels for a day, where we walked and walked to see most of the city in under 9 hours. Brussels definitely had more quirks than Brugge! Famous baby boy peeing statue, for example? So odd.

Favorites from Belgium:
1. That there are so many languages everywhere! One of our waiters where we enjoyed the mussels and fries can speak 5 languages! Dutch, French, Italian, English, and Flemish.
2. Liege. Waffles. Amazing, yeasty, chewy glorious things! With sugar pressed inside to create delightful crisp edges of just the right amount of sweet. Ugh, I love them so much!!
3. Balls & Glory, a tiny yet fun and attractive meatball restaurant in Brugge. They were giant meatballs of pork and veal filled with herbed cream and served on top of either tabouleh or mashed potatoes. There was one guy running the whole place, and he told us that all the meat comes from his friend’s grandparent’s farm!
4. The view all along the walk to St. James church in Brussels. So much gorgeous architecture!

P.S. I cheated a little on this City Squares and didn’t use solely iPhone photos, because I kept forgetting to take good ones!

 

City Squares| Cambridge Part 1

City-Square-Cambridge

Finally am getting around to having a proper Cambridge photo update! I was quite surprised when I first got here, as it was a much larger town that I expected. There are lots of people here! Tourists stand agape at Kings College, locals zip around on their bikes, and summer students rush to and fro from class to class. And though the hustle n bustle is fun, I love this town in the quieter moments: buying some goodies at Marks & Spencers, lingering at each stall in the Market Square, seeing ducklings on my morning runs, and walking through the small alleys barricaded with brick walls. Here are some favorites so far:

1. Cambridge Wine Merchants. Bought lovely bottles of mead and port here. If you’re a student, you get an automatic 5% discount, but you can take a gamble and potentially get 10% off (or 0%) if you answer a trivia question correctly. I’m happy to announce that we got the 10%!
2. Runs to Grantchester. You have to watch out for big hunks of cow poo, but other than that, there are great trails!
3. Punting from Kings College. Who knew punting would be a total-body workout? We went as a group of mostly first-timers, so we ended up with willow leaves in our hair and some scathing looks from other punters, but all in all a jolly good time!
4. Providence, a small shop near the Cambridge Union Society which has a lovely collection of leather fly swatters, persian rugs, and assorted door knobs.

I will definitely be back with more, as I am so fortunate as to spend a whole month more here, wahoo!