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Posted on Jun 4, 2013 in Food | 9 comments

Iron Chef Gretchen

Hey, hey, hey! I hope everyone had a great weekend! I most certainly did, thanks to a myriad of reasons, really, but a big part of that was attending Taste of Georgetown on Saturday!

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I love “Taste of” events because they really appeal to that part of me that is never satisfied only being able to order one thing off a menu. I’m too indecisive! I’d always rather get a bunch of things to share (or at least steal food from my friends’ plates, hehe) because I am greedy like to sample lots of different things.

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In addition to getting to nom on great foods from some of Georgetown’s hottest restaurants, I also participated in a chef showdown challenge at the festival with the Yelp DC Community Manager, Kimberly, and her fiance, Rob!

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It was crazy fun, albeit it SUPER hot (just check out how red my face is in the pics above, hahaha), and I got Sean to come along and play photographer. Each team was paired with a local chef — ours was Chef Bryan from Paolo’s restaurant — and came up with a master chef meal that included our secret ingredient…

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Rhubarb!

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I’d never even eaten rhubarb in anything but a pie before, so it definitely proved challenging to incorporate into a savory meal. Under Chef Bryan’s tutelage, however, we came up with a surf-and-turf plate that my mama would’ve been proud of.

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Drumroll please….

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Ta-da! Not too bad for a butane burner meal, eh?

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We made a red snapper with a raw rhubarb and asparagus slaw on top, and a filet atop a corn and asparagus succotash with red wine rhubarb compote on top. The filet was AWESOME, and the fish turned out great, although I was a little iffy about the use of raw rhubarb in the slaw. It’s just got a very naturally sour/tart flavor, and is really fibrous, so I don’t know if I’m such a fan of it raw. Cooked, though, it’s delicious, and I have so many ideas for incorporating it into savory meals now!

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Unfortunately, I guess the judges agreed with my assessment because we came in second (though the judges said it was super close!) but I still think Team Yelp were all winners that day. It definitely makes me want to start showing off my knife skills (I really am quite proud of my quick-chop prowess!) on a more regular basis. I think between this and watching marathons of Food Network Star, I’ve been bitten by the bug…

If you had a cooking show, what kind of show would it be? Or, as they say on Food Network Star, what would you “Culinary POV” be? I like to think I’d be able to have some sort of Whasian-related hook, but the truth is I actually know how to cook very little Chinese food! Hahaha. Guess I’d actually stick with my healthified comfort food thing.

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Posted on Jul 9, 2012 in Dear Diary | 15 comments

I Heart DC II

This morning’s drizzly, grey (but blessedly SO much cooler) weather is quite in line with my feelings: today marks my friend Ai Rei‘s last day with me here in DC. I shall now pause for a moment of silence.

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While she’s been here, it’s been really fun for me to see the area that I live in with fresh eyes. I think that all people tend to suffer from “local” syndrome, no matter what city or town you live in. Despite the fact that there are so many awesome things about living in the DC area, I rarely take advantage of them because they’re either too touristy or too crowded or I’m simply too cool for that ish (bahaha). Rei’s visit has, as a side-effect of taking her around to see the sights and whatnot, rejuvenated my appreciation for our nation’s capital — which is really cool! Though I am, admittedly, pretty affected by standard Northern Virginian superiority to things that go on in the actual District, but I guess the truth is that I really do <3 DC. 🙂

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There’s a reason why things are touristy, after all. It’s because they’re worth seeing! I can tell you that the last time I really ventured into the city to take in the monuments was when my LAST out-of-town guest came to visit… and that was like three years ago (oops!). I want to say that I’ll be making an effort from now on to take better advantage of the cool things my city has to offer, but the truth is that I probably won’t really change things up that much. I will, however, be much looking forward to the next time I get to experience this stuff through the eyes of someone new.

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Ai Rei’s trip down here has also brought some hilarious and adorable excitement that I wasn’t actually expecting. Specifically, her raging excitement over things like how many varying flavors of chewing gum we have (Creamsicle! Key Lime Pie! Mint Chocolate Chip!), The Cheesecake Factory (for the cheesecake, not for the food), inexpensive books, Amazon.com (vs. Amazon.ca), and Target. It’s been a long time since I’ve lived in Canada, so I forget that even though our countries are obviously super similar, there are still a lot of things that aren’t quite replicated in either. Neither is better or worse, of course, it just makes me more appreciative of the things that I have access to here that Rei doesn’t. And it’s not just a Canada vs. US thing either; Colorado doesn’t have Trader Joe’s, we don’t have In-n-Out burgers, the list goes on.

What’s one traditionally “touristy” thing you tend to avoid where you live?

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Posted on Jul 6, 2012 in Dear Diary | 17 comments

A Capital Fourth

Hot damn, it’s hot out!

That was pretty much the single thought that continued repeating from my lips throughout the entire Fourth of July. My friend Ai Rei, who is visiting me from the blissfully frozen wasteland known as Toronto, wanted to be in the Capital for at least a portion of Independence Day. Absolutely, I told her, we’ll see how long you last in the heat. 😉

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So Sean, Rei, and I piled onto the Metro and traipsed into the city to take in some of our nation’s capital. Unfortunately, a ton of stuff was roped and fenced off, not only for the holiday security, but also for construction in general. So it wasn’t quite the easy breezy monument tour I had in mind, though we still got some good ones in. Ai Rei is off taking in the Smithsonian sights as I type this, so hopefully that means she hasn’t been totally turned off by the city!

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Ai Rei is a total photog, so naturally, many pictures were taken. Avast ye!

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Did I mention it was hot? It was flippin’ hot.

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As sweaty and disgusting as we were, I can’t imagine how bad it must have been for some of the people dancing and marching and whatnot in the parade!

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Mr. King, Jr. agrees.

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As does Honest Abe.

I convinced Ai Rei that the five hours it would take to metro home after the National Fireworks just wasn’t worth it, so after we were sufficiently destroyed by the heat, we crawled back to the Metro. My subsequent shower was the most amazing shower I’ve ever taken. Then after a quick, super patriotic, dinner of hot dogs, the three of us joined my family over at the Falls Church celebration!

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My brother‘s 80s cover band, Judo Chop, rocked our faces off before the fireworks began.

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And then before we knew it… KABOOM!

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The Falls Church fireworks show was actually really impressive. They had SO many! I was all “ooh” and “aww” and generally agog with delight. I hope you all had an equally wonderful holiday. Happy Friday!

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Posted on Mar 21, 2012 in Dear Diary | 26 comments

I Heart DC

I’m a Northern Virginia gal, not-born, but bred (I was actually born in Hong Kong, if you were curious). My father, a career-long employee of the State Dept., had our family moving from country to country every three to four years while I was growing up. Of course, as a snot-nosed adolescent, having to pack up and leave my friends behind so often did not sit well with me. As an almost-sorta-adult with 20/20 hindsight, however, I am now exceedingly grateful for the opportunities I was able to have thanks to living abroad. That said, I knew pretty early on that I would not want a life that included such frequent upheaval once I was out on my own.

We only lived in Falls Church for four years, when I was in grades 5 – 8. Hardly long enough to say that I’m “from” here. But those formative years were enough that when my brother settled back in this area after he graduated from college, I know that I would be following suit. While most of my former classmates and colleagues who grew up in one house, one city, or even one state tout their intentions to get out of here, I don’t feel that same desire. I’m laying down my roots here, at least for the meantime, and I like it.

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When I got my new job that would be starting in the city, rather than the safe suburban confines of the Beltway, I was admittedly a little apprehensive. For all my declarations of loving Falls Church and Northern Virginia, I rarely ventured inside DC city limits. Despite all of my world travels, for which I considered myself quite culturally adept and urban, I was actually a little bit scared of the city. Pretty silly, huh? As it turns out, I kinda love working in DC. My office is barely a stone’s throw from the National Mall, my commute isn’t as hellish as I thought (well, this morning was pretty terrible, but it’s not the norm), and it makes me feel… grown up.

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As I said earlier this week, since it’s been so unseasonably warm, the cherry blossoms are peaking incredibly early this year. They probably won’t make it to the Cherry Blossom Festival or race, in fact. So yesterday I took the opportunity to stroll around during lunch to try to soak in some of these springtime beauties before they all blew away! I didn’t make it down to the Tidal Basin, of course, but I did get the chance to see the trees they still have on the Mall, as well as some other familiar sights.

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This was taken after I offered to take a photo for a family who was on the mall, and they offered to take a photo of my in return. Apparently posing with the sakura brings out my super Asian side, haha!

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If this rain (blehhh) doesn’t blow them away, I think they will be getting a little fuller and more pink over the next couple of days. If you haven’t gone out to see them yet, you should! They’re really beautiful, and they just make it feel like Spring.

What’s your favorite thing about Spring? Mine is my birthday, OBVIOUSLY, followed closely by the flowering trees.

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Posted on Mar 19, 2012 in Dear Diary | 17 comments

Marathoner

No, not me, of course! My brother-in-law, Dan, completed his first marathon on Saturday at the DC Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon! My sister also finished her second half-marathon. While I may have given up on long-distance running for now, as you can see, there are clearly still a couple of running rockstars in the family!!

Sean and I made it into the city to spectate the end of the race and cheer Dan on at the finish line. It was HOT on Saturday! I felt so bad for the poor runners who trained in the winter cold only to have to fight against the sun on race day. A big congrats to everyone who ran the race(s)!

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After everyone had a chance to cool down and rinse off, a group of bloggers, runners, and readers gathered at Continental Pool Lounge in Rosslyn. Despite a little hiccup where I was late for the very meetup I organized, it was a lot of fun getting to catch up (however briefly) with people who I hadn’t seen in forever, as well as meeting new fellow occupants of the blogosphere!

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Beth and Megan; Caitlin and Theodora; Me and Theodora; Ashley and Gia!

I love it when my internet life and real life collides. Though, I should state, this is not an invitation for someone to start stalking me, hahaha.

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Sean, me, and Beth; Ashley and Emily

Sean got full points for not only putting up with so much family stuff earlier in the day, but for being willing to brave a blogger meetup in the first place, haha. Oh, our poor friends, family members, and significant others… 😉

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We unfortunately didn’t get a group shot while everyone was still there, but near the end one of the servers at Continental was kind enough to offer to take a picture of those of us who remained. Hopefully it won’t be too long before I see some of these cats again… especially, as I realized, a lot of us live here but never actually meet up unless there are bloggers coming in from out of town, tsk, tsk. I think that happy hour meetups will need to become a regular occurrence! 😉


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While we’re on the subject of those who live locally, I hope that you’re getting out to see the cherry blossoms this week! I heard on the radio this morning that tomorrow is actually going to be their peak day (they’ve bloomed crazy early this year!), so I would hightail it out to check them out before they’ve all blown away! The chances of them still being around for the Cherry Blossom Festival (and 5K/10 Miler) in two weeks is pretty slim, after all. Sad. In case the idea of all those pretty blossoms blowing away is seriously bumming you out, here is a picture of Daxter with a sock on his head:

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Happy Monday!

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