Cupcake Jones - Portland, OR

I actually cooked a few meals over the past few days (including yummy, picture-worthy dishes!), but somehow I kept forgetting to take pictures. Anyway, here are some photos of the cupcakes I bought in Portland a while back.

In the box above: "downtown cupcake brown" and "velvet painting".

As you can see from the picture above, the "velvet painting" is a red velvet cupcake with a filling inside (vanilla pastry cream) and is topped with cream cheese icing and a candied rose petal. How cute is that little pink garnish? The cupcake was so moist and scrumptious. I wish the Cupcake Jones people would open a store in Seattle so I can have my cupcake fix every week!

Are you a fan of cupcakes like I am? What's your favorite flavor?


The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever!

I've tried dozens of other chocolate chip cookie recipes before, but nothing compares to the Jacques Torres recipe that was featured in the New York Times a few years ago. This recipe is easy and the cookies always come out perfectly. I've made these cookies on numerous occasions and my friends and family can't get enough of them. And even if they could, I have no problem eating 4 or 5 cookies on my own!

(Adapted from Jacques Torres; makes 1 1/2 dozen cookies)

2 cups minus 2 tbsp cake flour
1 2/3 cups bread flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 lb bittersweet chocolate chips
Sea salt

- Cream butter and sugars until very light; add eggs one at a time and vanilla until well mixed.
- Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined; add chocolate chips until combined.
- Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place "generous golf balls" of dough.
- Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.
- Bake until golden brown (18-20 minutes).

Unlike most cookie recipes, this one uses a blend of cake flour and bread flour.

The original recipe calls for feves or oval-shaped chocolate pieces. I used regular chocolate chips from Nestle Toll House.

This is the hardest part of the recipe. I know you're tempted to bake the cookies right away but the dough has to sit in the fridge overnight.

This is a crucial part and the part I often forget: sprinkling sea salt on top of the cookies.

Finally the cookies are ready! Don't you just love the smell of freshly baked cookies?


Por Que No? - Portlant, OR

Before leaving Portland to head home, we stopped at Por Que No? for an early supper. It's a casual "hole-in-the-wall" kind of restaurant with fresh, home-made Mexican food.

I had horchata to cool down in the summer heat. Horchata is a refreshing cold drink popular in Latin America and Spain and is often made with rice, almonds, cinnamon, vanilla and sugar.

Tacos here are really good! We had two types of beef, one pork and one chorizo. The chips here are really good too. Sorry I forgot to take pictures: I was too busy eating! I'll definitely stop by at this taqueria next time I'm in town.

PS: I'm still trying to find a good Mexican restaurant in the Seattle area. Do you guys have any suggestions?


Andina - Portland, OR

Andina in a Peruvian restaurant located in the Pearl district of Portland. I've been there once before and liked it so much that I decided to go back again on my recent trip. They have entrees, but since I like eating a little bit of everything, I ordered some tapas.

Traditional cebiche (bottom right) was very good.

The little specks in the bread are quinoa, which the Incas referred to as "chisaya mama" or "mother of all grains." Bread is served with three dipping sauces: peanut, passion fruit and jalapeno.

Yuca rellena served with cheese sauce.

Grilled diver scallop with soy sauce and brown sugar and crispy onion rings on top. Too bad you only get one scallop!

Beef empanadas with raisins and olives.

Cured tuna loin with guacamole-like salsa. This was my favorite dish.

Finally dessert! I wanted to get a bigger dessert, but unfortunately my stomach didn't have enough room. So I settled with one cookie: an alfajor filled with warm, gooey manjar blanco, which I thought was dulce de leche.

After doing some research online, I discovered that manjar blanco tastes very similar to dulce de leche but is slightly lighter in color. And the main difference lies in preparation. Dulce de leche is made with condensed milk whereas manjar blanco is made with whole milk.


Portland, OR

I had so much fun with my family in Portland. If you've never visited there before (especially if you live in the Seattle area), I highly recommend that you take a weekend trip like I did.

Here's a quick summary of the city:
- Great food
- Great music scene
- Individuality of the people
- Pedestrian friendliness (no need to drive; no need to worry about parking)
- Beautiful parks and gardens
- Saturday Market (also open on Sunday)

- Too many homeless people (panhandlers on every block!)
- Weather (around 90 degrees F when I visited!)

Thanks for visiting my blog! In the upcoming posts I'll talk about the restaurants I visited in Portland.


Olympic Sculpture Park - Belltown

Olympic Sculpture Park in the Belltown neighborhood of Seattle is one of my favorite places to visit on a sunny day. It's a fun (and FREE) place to experience modern art in an outdoor setting with a sweeping view of local landmarks (i.e., the Space Needle, Mount Rainier). A great place for a stroll with a date, eating al fresco with friends or enjoying some quiet time with your favorite book!

Eagle (the red sculpture on the top left) by Alexander Calder

Wake by Richard Serra, one of the most successful artists of this era. He is famous for using sheet metal.

Washer/dryer (made of plywood) in the weeds by Whiting Tennis. It's one of those art pieces where I think "I could do that myself!" Of course, the reality is I probably couldn't.

Father and Son by Louis Bourgeois.

Split by Roxy Pain.

My favorite piece at this park: Typewriter Eraser, Scale X by Claes Oldenburg.

You can also look at this sculpture from highway.

Sorry for the lack of food posts in the last few days. I'm off to Portland now. Have a nice weekend!


Pike Place Market

Sorry for slow updates. My in-laws are visiting and we have been busy doing touristy things! Here are some pictures from Pike Place Market.

Piroshky-Piroshky, probably made famous by Anthony Bourdain's visit, is one of the most popular vendors here. They make a really yummy cheese and green onion piroshky.

At Beecher's you can sit on these cute milk-jug stools and watch them make fresh artisan cheese.

HUGE Nutella jars at DeLaurenti Specialty Food & Wine, one of my favorite stores here. They have great cannoli.

Pike Place Market has a great selection of fresh fish.

And flowers. Each bouquet is usually $5 or $10. A lot of bang for your buck.

Finally, the original Starbucks founded in 1971. A pop quiz: do you guys know where the name Starbucks comes from?