Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tres Things Thursday (the CIM edition)

1) I'm running this race this Sunday! Whoopee! In the rain. Boooo!

2) I'm totally expecting it to feel like this...basically just awful! (circa 2011 LA Marathon)

3) But in my heart I'm really hoping that it will feel more like this! I will be in good company as lots of runner friends will be there. That alone will make this weekend the most spectacular! It's game time!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Mokkoji Shabu Shabu Bar - Irvine, CA

I can't say that I had a very productive weekend because it was the first weekend in a while in which I was able to relax at home and basically do nothing. That was pretty much exactly what I did...nothing.

My brother-in-law E and Sister S hosted an early Thanksgiving at their place. As you can clearly see, it was fabulous! They sure can cook!

We also meet with our wedding officiant on Sunday. This is him here marrying another couple. They call him the 'marrying man', if that's not credibility than I don't know what is. We were supposed to meet at a Starbucks but it was so crowded that we had to move the meeting to a nearby Subway sandwich shop. And so we all sat down inside a Subway that day and hashed out what I hope will be a fun and sweet ceremony.


All the mawwage talk really built up an appetite. Well that and the fact that we had only eaten one meal that day. We didn't know what we wanted at first so I asked M if he wanted something healthy and he didn't seem to mind so I took him to Mokkoji, a shabu shabu joint I stumbled upon after shopping at Kohl's one day.

Shabu shabu is basically the Japanese version of hot-pot, which is just cooking your food in a clear broth. Yes, you literally have to cook your own food but that's half of the fun. After you sit down, they bring out a pot of hot seaweed broth, if you don't like seaweed, don't worry because you can hardly taste it. Along with the broth, you also get a bowl of ponzu dipping sauce (an aged soy sauce with a vinegar-y taste) and another bowl with just black sesame seeds in it that you can grind up with a wooden pestle that they provide. They then pour a smooth peanut sauce over the ground up sesame. So you get a light sauce and a more rich sauce. I love the ponzu sauce! I think it goes good with everything.

It was at this point that our waitress pulls out a small amber colored bottle with a dropper top from under the counter. She then asked if we liked it 'hot', well yeah but what the heck is that stuff? It's pure capsaicin she tells us, it's the stuff that makes things hot. We decided to pass on it but the waitress informs us that the restaurant record was 35 drops by some guy. Probably a crazy guy if you ask me.

So this is what you start with...

Then you order your protein. M ordered the 2 item combination of shrimp and chicken (2-ways, whole and ground up and formed into meatballs).

I ordered the salmon and boy was it was fresh and fatty. It was so good! I ate some of it cooked and some of it raw. It was good both ways.

So this is what you end up with after you throw in everything on the veggie plate that comes with your protein order. The plate includes baby bok-choy, udon noodles, Japanese squash (kabocha), sprouts, napa cabbage, enoki and oyster mushrooms, mustard greens, a couple pieces of sliced carrots cut in the shape of flowers and a cute block of firm tofu with the restaurant's name branded on it. So you basically just throw all the veggies in the pot so that the broth can get all nice and flavorful and then you slowly cook your protein as you eat so that it is piping hot and not get overcooked.

If you still have room after your meal, they make you an after meal  rice porridge with the leftover broth from your pot. When you are done eating your main meal, they come over and scoop out any remnants from your pot and then they put in some regular white rice, finely chopped carrots and onions, sesame oil, a red spicy red sauce (sorry I forgot to ask what it was) and a fermented sesame paste (black in color). They stir it until all the liquid is gone and the rice has a risotto-like consistency. The rice is really flavorful and I am normally really full by this point so I usually take it home for the next day. On this particular visit, one of the chefs recommended that I heat it up the next day and serve it with a couple of fried eggs on top. Genius!

I forgot to mention that you also get a nice face steam along with your meal. This is like the poor man's special blur feature.

Mokkoji Shabu Shabu Bar
14041 Jeffrey Road
Irvine, CA 92620

Friday, November 16, 2012

Another Blogger Date: Catal Restaurant & Uva Bar Event

Last week Heather asked me if I was free for dinner the following week to attend an event as her 'plus one', so I checked my social calendar and noticed that I had already penciled in 'laze around on the couch playing iPad games' but seeing that it was Heather I thought that just this once I could blow off my other engagement.

It took me an hour and half to get from work to this event that was only 16 miles away. Traffic be crazy! But when I finally found a parking spot and started walking towards Downtown Disney all that stress just disappeared. Here's a fun fact about me...I've lived in Southern California almost my entire life and have never been to Downtown Disney. It is safe to say that I will be coming back in the near future.

So once I got to Downtown Disney, I walked around for a while looking for the restaurant where the event was held but at last had to admit defeat and stop to ask for directions. A park attendant pointed me in the right direction and told me to just walk until I see a huge outdoor bar. So I did and lo and hold there was a giant outdoor bar right in front of the Catal Restaurant [part of the Patina Group]. By the is pronounced CAT-TAUL (rhymes with 'haul'), if you pronounce it any other way no one will know what the heck you're talking about. Don't be unsophisticated like me and pronounce it CATTLE! Yeah that was only a little bit embarrassing.

Park attendant: What's that, you're looking for CATTLE? Well, I think you need to go to a farm. Oh, you mean CAT-TAUL, well that's just right down that way until you hit the giant outdoor bar.

Me: *melted into a puddle of embarrassment on the pavement*

I met up with Heather shortly after I got there and we checked in to this deliciousness...

Cocktails, wine, candied nuts, dried fruit and the biggest servings of cheeses I've ever seen.

Then the appetizers started coming out! Mini tuna tar-tare tacos with avocado and micro-greens, goat cheese/caramelized onions on an endive leaf [not pictured], and air-puffed bread filled with melted goat cheese topped with a piece of prosciutto. They were all fabulous in their own way but my favorite was the endive leaf. It was light and rich all at the same time. I love food that offers a little bit of everything.

The grande finale was this humongous pan of paella x2. I'm a huge paella fan and was super happy when I saw two cooks carrying this out from the kitchen. It was that big that it required two guys to carry it. It was also big in flavor. I dare say that this was one of the best paellas I've ever had. I hope my fiance is reading this...'take me here for dinner, fiance'.

Plus, check out our view for the evening. It's really not a bad way to spend a Thursday. Almost as exciting as lazing on my couch paying iPad games. I kid but I do love my iPad games. I need help.

Thanks for the fun date Heather! Heather also introduced me to Angry Julie and Kelly who came to join our table so we didn't look totally out of sorts because we all know how fun it is to go to an event especially as someone's plus one and not know anyone there.

Catal Restaurant
1580 Disneyland Drive
Anaheim, CA 92802

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My Sister's Wedding!

Hello! It's been 14 days since I last blogged, which means that it's been 14 days since anything noteworthy has occurred in my life. But enough about my lackluster social life and on to more exciting news.

My sister who blogs over at A Case of the Runs got married this past weekend! It was super fun! They had a nice Jewish ceremony followed by one of the coolest dragon dance ever. When two worlds collide! :) I will let her tell you more about it when she returns from her honeymoon.

And since this is also a food blog, I wanted to show you this very large loaf of challah bread that was served at the wedding. I love challah and this one was blessed!

Finally, I just wanted to mention that I am failing miserably with my candy ban but I blame it mostly on the end of Daylight Savings. Every year around this time I suffer from SAD (Seasonal Awareness Disorder). I know people must think this is a mental thing but for me it is more of a physical thing in which I get extremely fatigued coupled with an insatiable appetite. Last week, I basically sat around and ate...A LOT! I am slowly coming out of it this week and my activity levels have started to ramp up again. Good thing too because I have a marathon to run in a little over 2 weeks. I've put in my time training for it so whatever happens I'll be okay with it.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

November First

I've been eating a lot of candy lately. Not just yesterday [Halloween] when eating a little bit of candy is appropriate. I mean for a couple of weeks now. It started out with a couple of gummy bears and has since turned into me wanting sugar almost every single day...a couple of times a day. The worst part of all of this is that I am craving the sugar at night...late night...when I am supposed to be sleeping but instead I'm in my kitchen holding a bag of half empty candy.

Last night I stopped off at Walgreens on my way home from work to pick up a bag of fun size candy to give out to the trick or treat-ers. I live in an apartment complex and surprisingly don't get a lot of people coming around asking for candy. When I say 'not many people come around', I basically mean zero. But I always buy a bag just in case someone does come around. The last thing I want to be is that apartment with no candy. Last night, a child and an adult did come around. That's like the most people we've ever had. That was it. Two people. Now there is a bag of candy sitting around in my apartment. It's already half empty.

Today is November 1st, twenty-one days from now will be Thanksgiving. The holidays are upon us. The last couple of year, I've done a pre-Thanksgiving diet clean-up and religiously worked-out to offset the inevitable dinner feasts, cookie exchanges, office parties and ultimately finding myself standing in front of a large dessert table. Last night, as I was sitting there downing my third fun size I suddenly remembered that tomorrow was November 1st. So starting today, no more candy for me for the next three weeks. I'm going to go now and sit in a corner and fret.