Mar 14, 2007

true love

"I'd tap that."

I shall leave some of this post's comments to it's rightful author - Jenn, as she was the one who originally discovered the beautiful specimen known as the Granola Parfait (B. Granolium). Spotted in several locations, including the Golden Bear Cafe, Pat Brown's, and The Terrace on the UC Berkeley campus, this little beauty is a treat indeed. The morning is usually the best time to catch a fresh one, but don't worry! - the populations lining the fridges of their habitats are replenished several times a day.

Both of the Jennifers have been known to hunt down a granola parfait in the throes of midterm studying. The cold, creamy yogurt (vanilla, or maybe plain) pairs perfectly with the chewy raisins, crunchy granola with almonds, and plump juicy blueberries, staining the yogurt with swirls of light purple. A perfectly refreshing accompaniment to a day like today, in which my Irish colors show through, mainly the red type, in the form of a sunburn. I was focused so much on the parfaitness of the parfait, I neglected the fact that my cells were, at that moment, turning cancerous. It was so worth it.


Colonies of blueberries. Colonies!

From Jenn: If there's one thing I'll miss squandering my dining common points on, this would be it: the granola parfait. Like Jenny said, this is the perfect food to eat during midterms--not only does it provide the energy to read through the never-ending readers, its easy to sneak into the stacks and shove behind your computer when the monitors come strolling by. Contrary to what others think, the best way to eat this parfait is by smushing it all together until it resembles a Foothill inhabitant--pale, pasty, and altogether unappetizing. But the moment you slurp it up, the taste of the sweet, soggy grains, fluffy yogurt, and tangy berries is amazing. Our only reservations are when the yogurt to granola ratio is too low. TWO to ONE, people! That's the golden ratio. Please stick to it. Anything else is like a cup of yogurt with a little granola (and the feeling that I was wasted) or a cup of dry granola and a dab of yogurt (and the feeling of being wasted...okay not really. I don't know what it's like to be wasted, but I just really like parallel sentences. So sue me.)

Anyhow, I really need to thank this creation because it has led to my current obsession:
Take a bowl. Fill it 1/3rd with granola. Fill it 1/3rd with Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Fill it 1/3rd with Lucky Charms. Add a dollop of yogurt (any flavor!!!). Add some milk--enough to make the cereal float a bit. Throw in an entire diced banana. MIX...and ENJOY!!! Like I've said and will say again: It's the breakfast, lunch, and dinner of champions.

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Mar 13, 2007

Better than Sunday Masse

With famous places like Cheeseboard Pizza, Barney's Gourmet Hamburgers, and Gregoire filling the Gourmet Ghetto, little places often get overlooked. However, after one (or two) accidental, yet delightful experiences there, it's often these little gems that impel us to leave our nook up at our dorms and to make the trek to the realm of the delicious again and again. Masse's Pastries is the perfect example.

After a gut-busting lunch at Gregoire's, Jenny and I had to wait for Lindsay to come. Though we were stuffed (think 5th month of pregnancy-stuffed), the mere memory of a macaron we had at Bittersweet Cafe forced us to mentally secure another 1 mm of space in our stommachs for some sweets. So off to Masse's Pastries we went...

The moment we walked through the door, our eyes were set on this chocolate macaron. The picture is blurry because my hands were shaking from the excitement...and I have yet to learn how to take close-ups. We quickly handed over our (parents) hard-earned money for the cookie.
Ohh macaron, macaron in my hand. You are the best desert in the land! (Poetry skill will improve. Give it time, give it time)
The most diplomatic way to share the lovin was by splitting it with a coffee mixer stick. Along the way, the macaron's beauty was marred. But no fear, we knew that underneath the demolished shell, was a layer of chewy chocolate heaven.
The moment I bit into the macaron, the essence of chocolate crept over my tongue, into my throat, and happily spent the last minutes of its life resting, in my stommach. Okay, it wasn't that intense, but it was good. However, I was reminded of the pistacio macaron I had at the Ferry Plaza Building in San Francisco. One of my favorite blogs is "The Girl Who Ate Everything." She should really be called "The Girl Who Ate Everything Macaron-looking" because the girl is Lucky (with a capitalized "L"). Living in New York, she's exposed to delicious eats all the time. These delicious eats include macarons. Pistacio macarons. I had always thought that chocolate macarons were the best. However, the moment I bit into a pistacio macaron, I realized that macarons shouldn't be solely sweet, but fragrant and delicate as well. Unfortunately, the chocolate macarons fell into the trap of its breathren. Basically, twas delicious, but I was content with just half.
Birthdays are the best thing ever. The reason? There's cake. For my sister's birthday, she got a mango mousse cake. It resembled the light and creamy cakes of my childhood that I got from Sheng's Bakery and Sogo's. The cake wasn't too heavy and the real star was the fruit (as you can tell from the not-so-subtle inverted mango plopped on top) One word: yumminess...
Masse's Pastries
1469 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94709
510 649 1004

XRDS. ...just kidding.

Sometimes in my darkest of studying hours I look at the Foothill DC menu and sink further into despair, because noooo way am I having a hamburger again or venturing near the yogurt/pickles/peanut butter lair. And also I have a test the next day. Cereal time perhaps? But sometimes in these sad times I hear a knock at my door and Jenn will come flouncing in and propose a trip to Crossroads, the other DC on Southside. These trips mean a lot for my stomach. Meaning, chiefly, death. Seriously, these meals are of epic proportions. I could say that it's an unconscious defense mechanism of mine, to stuff myself with good food while it's available in such abundance, to tide me over the bad times as our ancestors might have done. But the truth is I don't pay enough attention in Anthro to make that kind of statement and I am just a glutton. Usually I stuff myself with a hummus sandwich and sweet potato fries, and then ideally bread pudding, and then, like the beast I am, I waddle into Peet's Coffee and Tea next door and get a steamed milk with a hazelnut shot. Oh how my belly aches but let me tell you life is GOOD.

Crossroads is pretty amusing because we get to watch everything about Southside we're missing in Footy pass us by, literally, as we eat. It's always so interesting to me to see the stark differences between the lives led on the two sides of campus. If I lived on Southside, I might feel funny about going to dinner at Crossroads looking as frump as I usually do, whereas to be honest, anything goes in the realm of the Foothill creatures. You can be rained on and tired and frizzy and still be accosted by umbrella-boys and probably umbrella-girls.

Ahem. Anyways, back to dinner.

Okay, to be fair, this was taken at Foothill DC. Seriously, the best thing about the DC is the salad bar. There's pretty much everything you need. EXCEPT, even though Jenn would disagree (she loves her salads, and especially her Sesame Goddess dressing), I don't like the salad dressing options. I guess I'm much too used to Kraft Italian dressing at home to appreciate anything that's not 99% garlic and vinegar. But anyways. The salad bar is fresh and yummy and nice to have available. I think most of it is even organic. Berkeley is good about making sure to label which foods aren't, and they also have a nice selection of vegetarian and vegan options at our DC. Unfortunately, I am not usually brave enough to venture into that territory too often, unless it is into the land of TOFUTTI "ICE CREAM" SANDWICHES, which are delicious AND amazing, no matter what Lindsay says.

Sweet potato fries at Crossroads!

Typical dinner for Jenn. Notice the complete lack of meat. Pssh.

Some ravioli that looked intriguing, but failed to deliver. Also some potstickers of The Crazy. The Crazy loves her potstickers.


Mar 4, 2007

No Wonder Gisele is So Happy

Jealously reigns supreme when I think about how Ms. Bunchen not only gets free goods from Victoria's secret and used to date "Bling bang" Dicaprio, but also got to grow up eating Brazilian Bbq. At the tip of University Avenue, is a little trailer that contains the most flavorful meat in Berkeley--the owner Pedro. Oh! And the tri-tip is pretty famous too. I'm sure you've must of heard about Pedro's hospitality and vivaciousness. Rest assured, those rumors are true. Case in point: the second time I went there, I was given a free mango smoothie. Now, I'm pretty devoted to Gregoire, but keep this up Pedro, and you've just secured yourself a free stalker.

The mango smoothie was refreshing and not too sweet. You could definitely tell it was made seconds before. However, I wish it was a tad thicker. But then again, it was free so who's complaining? Here's a tip: To get your own free smoothie, cut out the coupon the Berkeley's Guide to a Good Life booklets they gave out in the beginning of the year. You know--those books that are festering in your common room right now.
This tri-tip sandwich was amazing. Each nugget of beef was tender and extremely flavorful. In addition to the fresh tomato and lettuce, the sandwich consisted of a hearty, yet light bread that was smathered with a cilantro-garlic sauce. On the trailer, there is a sign that says "Best Tri-Tip in the Bay." They aren't lying.
During a previous occasion, Jenny and Linsday were lucky enough to pay Pedro another visit. This is exactly the same sandwich that I had before except this time, the little tri-tip nuggets are being hugged by a thick, soft piece of sliced bread. Once again, the Brazilian Cafe does not disappoint.

One of the greatest things about the Brazil Fresh Squeeze Cafe is that in addition to the great food, it's really an experience. There isn't a "nice" dining area. Instead, customers enter a tent to the side of the trailer that is brightly decorated with pictures of Brazil and lots of fake grass. One interesting little tidbit is that the cafe was mentioned in National Geographic several years ago and as a result, there are always some issues of the magazine laying around.

Brazil Fresh Squeeze Cafe
2161 University Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94704

Mar 3, 2007

Carrot Cupcaking!

In which another weekend with my sister, niece, and I produce more food!
Special occasion style! My mom's birthday was on Saturday. She tries her darndest not to acknowledge it, but come on, she's my mom and it was her bersday. So the girls came over to search for something sweet to make, to watch movies, and generally be lazy, and eventually to suprise my mom when she came home.
We looked on, we looked through SimplyRecipes, and finally we found what we were looking for on the Food Network's web site: Ina Garten's Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting. Barefoot Contessa is my favorite Food Network show; despite how much of a Crazy she can be, she makes some amazing food, and I've never been let down by a recipe of hers. So it was decided, and we headed off to the grocery store to pick up ingredients.

Lots of carrots.

and flowers, for mom!

mixture of shredded carrots, raisins, walnuts... yummyness.


Here is the recipe!

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

2 cups sugar

1 1/3 cups vegetable oil

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 extra-large eggs

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

3 cups grated carrots (less than 1 pound)

1 cup raisins

1 cup chopped walnuts

Cream Cheese Frosting:

3/4 pound cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 pound confectioners' sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Beat the sugar, oil, and vanilla together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the eggs, 1 at a time. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add 1/2 of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Add the grated carrots, raisins, and walnuts to the remaining flour, mix well, and add to the batter. Mix until just combined.

Line muffin pans with paper liners. Scoop the batter into 22 muffin cups until each is 3/4 full. Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and cook for a further 35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a rack.

For the frosting, cream the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the sugar and beat until smooth.

When the cupcakes are cool, frost them generously and serve.


Mar 1, 2007

Like a Trip to Outer Space...

Fed up with homework and studying, the two hungry bears and the lazy tapir (along with another fellow creature) decided to venture to the land of hobos and fast cars--Shattuck--where Venus Restaurant awaited them. Known for its innovated Californian cuisine and delicious brunches (once you have a taste of their french toast, you can never look at any other french toast the same--I don't care if you think your momma's the best), Venus Restaurant had several delicious-sounding items on their dinner menu. We couldn't wait...
Unfortunately, we had no choice but to. There was a 15 minute wait so we shimmied over to Longs Drugs across the street where we did the usual (looked at gossip maggies and shook our heads over the latest antics of Lindsay Lohan). When we came back, we sat on the banister near the doorway we're we tried to take pictures. But the restaurant and customers weren't having any of our lovin'. We lost count of the nasty looks that came our way...
We may have looked happy but the growling in our bellies would soon consume any patience we had left.
CARBS and OIL and...CARBS! oh my! We happily consumed two plates of olive bread and crusty french bread.
As lovely as everything sounded, I was extremely disappointed to find that the online dinner menu didn't resemble the actual menu at all. Before, my saliva had started to sprint the moment I read "thick & juicy pork chop with german butterball mashed potatoes, apple-pear-quince chutney, and warm cabbage saute" online. At that moment, the crazies at PETA had been winning:I was an unwilling vegetarian--put off nearly all meat thanks to the creations offered by the Foothill DC. However, upon looking at the laminated menu I saw with dismay that there was nary a porkchop to be found (unless I looked down at my growing belly...)
However, the disappointment quickly faded upon noticing the words "Butternut squash gnocchi with roasted chestnuts, chanterelle mushrooms, spinach, and parmesan." Jenny and I both pounced on this. Jenny-a gnocchi virgin-seemed to enjoy the dish. I was instantly seduced by the little potato dumplings that instantly melted upon contact with my tongue. Alas, if only there was more. The size was more of an appetizer than an actual entree.
Lindsay and a special guest sprang for the "Roasted Rosie Chicken with mashed german butterballs, mushroom gravy, homemade biscuit, & swiss chard." The first thought that came into my head upon biting in the delicious flesh of this unfortunate bird was "MMHh tender!" Juicy and rich--it was everything that you could wish for in a chicken. started to taste like chinese-cooked chicken that you could buy for take-out at our local deli in Fremont.
The real winner was the biscuit. Buttery and light--I still dream about it sometimes.
At one point I ventured into the bathroom, where I was greeted with this. There are no words.
To top off the dinner, we ordered two servings of bread pudding with all sorts of citrisy-flavors that I have forgotten the names of. Surprisingly, I enjoyed the bread pudding at Crossroads dining commons more. Methinks bread pudding is just one of those things that taste better when they are simpler and not too gourmet.
All in all, despite its mini-disappointments, Venus was a nice escape for dinner. But I think I'll stick to the brunches from now on.

Venus Restaurant
2327 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA
(510) 540-5950