Puerto Rico: Tresbe

DSC_3000 Outside of its warm weather and beautiful beaches, Puerto Rico is a great vacation spot because you really don't need any Spanish to get around. While my friend Johnny's Spanish was helpful at times to hash out more specific details, my "Do you speak English?" request was usually met with a nod or a point to someone who could.

I utilized my non-Spanish skills a lot at Tresbe, a cafe restaurant about 5 minutes away from our airbnb. Housed in a re-purposed yellow shipping container, Tresbe was a really great place to grab a bite or acai smoothie on their outdoor patio. On the first day, I stayed within my food repertoire and got fish tacos (which were probably the best fish tacos of my life). But towards the end of our stay I got more adventurous and tried ceviche: raw fish cured with citrus juices. I can't wait for my next encounter with ceviche.

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Calle Loiza, a great area to stay at. Walking distance to Ocean Park Beach, and close to bars, restaurants, and grocery stores.

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The most bombtastic fish tacos ever.DSC_2991

Look at that fish meat. Yum.

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Empanadas! DSC_3281

Ceviche: not scary at all, and served with sweet fried dough. DSC_2997

Flan that tasted like straight up condensed milk, my absolute favorite.

Bake Shops

DSC_8124Like most adults, my childhood experiences have directly contributed to my perspective on life. As a result of frequent moving when I was younger, I feel that every stage in my life is temporary and thus long for something permanent (a stable job, my own home, marriage, etc.) more so than my friends. But each time I move forward into a new stage,  selective moments of that previous life pile onto an accumulation of memories–making me a fierce nostalgic that often thinks about past. Given my current circumstances in life where I still haven't "settled", I see it more as brainstorming for an ideal future rather than unhealthily living in the past.

Bakeries are always one of those triggers for nostalgia. Anytime a family member had a birthday, my grandparents and I would wander through the Clement street area in search of a new bakery we hadn't gone to before. The joy of then walking into a bakery knowing that we were going to buy one of the beautiful cakes was overwhelming for a younger version of myself, and something that remains with me to this day.

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Food in the D

DSC_7655 DSC_7659 I started my internship at an education technology start up a little under two months ago, and have grown to love not only the start-up culture but also the city I work in. While the city itself is fighting urban blight and slowly picking away at its negative media image, a rich food culture has remained strong and continued to flourish.

I find myself at Hot Taco on a weekly basis, as it is a favorite amongst the team and someone always wants to go there. I am a sucker for their 3 for $6 tacos, especially because they are always made with fresh avocado. Food truly is a uniting factor, and over a Hot Taco meal, I am fortunate to get to know my co-workers better as well as the culture that defines Detroit. DSC_7662 DSC_7667

Hot Asian Buns

DSC_6416 Chinatowns are a weird place for me. On one end, there is a sense of belonging even though I do not  flaunt my Asian identity. For most of my life I grew up in a very Asian household, eating a blend of Chinese, Korean, and Japanese food. I often denied my roots though because of a desire to fit in with my American counterparts, so I find it quite strange when I find comfort and solace in a cultural identity I rejected for so long.

On the other end there is a fierce nostalgia, but one that feels largely out of place as it burns for a country that I visit only every couple of years. Maybe it is the connection I feel to my family rather than the place itself, but I consistently find myself feeling not only comfortable but extremely sentimental as well whenever I frequent a Chinatown.

On top of that, a whole set of different memories are triggered when I step into an Asian bakery, as I spin back into my childhood in San Francisco. Every morning before school, my mom would stop into a bakery near Alamo Elementary and get two green onion rolls for my lunch that day. While I had slightly resented not having a "normal" American lunch everyday (sandwich, juicebox, fun snacks like fruit snacks and granola bars), the memories of walking into that shop every morning with the most important woman in my life are something that I would never trade for anything. DSC_6406 DSC_6409 DSC_6401

Brunch at Sabrina's

DSC_6631 No visit to or from Matthew is complete without a breakfast date.

On my most recent trip to Philadelphia, Matthew brought me to Sabrina's Cafe. Part of the reason I love breakfast/brunch foods so much is because I love eggs--especially omelettes. Combined with tons of vegetables and cheese, omelettes are the perfect way to get me going for the day and I am glad I enjoyed one in the company of my favorite. DSC_6634 DSC_6643 DSC_6645

Date Night: First Friday

DSC_6602Before every visit to Philadelphia, Matthew makes a google doc of potential places we could eat, shop, or just relax at. I always feel his anticipation of my arrival through this gesture, and it increases the excitement of going to Philadelphia before I even step onto the plane. One of the most memorable dates he planned for us involved First Friday, where local art galleries in Philadelphia's old district welcome the public with wine and independent artists fill the streets. Before we roamed off into the many galleries, we revisited one of my favorite restaurants for a great dinner of seared tuna with mushroom risotto and Asian shrimp po boys.

While it was tempting to splurge thousands of dollars I don't have on magnificent paintings, I did end up choosing a handmade wire ring with Matthew's assistance (the one pictured on my middle finger). A month later, I still have that ring on and vividly remember the wonderful date night where it came from. DSC_6607 DSC_6610DSC_6620 DSC_6614

Meltkraft

DSC_6450 Vegetarians are falsely perceived as health nuts, who max out on their daily fruit and salad intake. For me, this is far from the truth: I take in carbs and fats as if my life depended on it. It was thus quite fitting that instead of something light for lunch like a salad or falafel wrap, Matthew and I chose a hearty combination of good ol' white bread and loaded amounts of dairy via Meltkraft's gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches.

DSC_6449 DSC_6485 DSC_6467 DSC_6486You can visit my previous posts about the other eats at Reading and also the plethora of desserts that plague decision making.

 

Honest Tom's

DSC_5969 After a whirlwind week of studying for finals and finishing term papers, I am done with my sophomore year at the University of Michigan! It is a little scary to think that I am now halfway through college, and slightly intimidating that I am supposed to have a real "job" in a short couple of years. Overall though, it's an exciting and accomplished feeling that I am happy to have reached.

Immediately after I finished my last exam, my mom and I powerhoused through my room and packed everything up, and twelve hours later I got on a plane to see Matthew! I got in to Philly around lunch time, so he took me to Honest Tom's where I had a really great (and really filling) sweet potato burrito. The joint was extremely small and intimate, and perfect for a relaxing first meal together.

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Breakfast For Lunch, Breakfast Forever

DSC_3880 My love for breakfast probably stems from my desire for a more settled lifestyle: a desire to not be running around all the time and to have meals at somewhat consistent intervals. It also stems from the hopeless romantic stuck inside a long distance relationship, as breakfast with my dear is something that I know I want to be part of my future life that is filled with love and (hopefully) whimsicality. This past spring break, Matthew and I made waffles for brunch and had a nice sit-down meal together before he left to go back to school. I double dosed on the chocolate, not only adding them in the waffle press but also generously piling them on after they came out.  DSC_3887 DSC_3893 DSC_3897

Dipped

Maybe it's my lack of baking supplies, (or more likely, my sheer laziness), but I have never really been a fan of complicated recipes with multiple ingredients. I like things that don't require trips to the grocery store, measuring cups, or kitchen timers. So given my constraints, Matthew and  I get really creative with the things I have on hand. Before we headed back to school, we had fun dipping oreos in chocolate and decorating them with frosting and sprinkles. And naturally, despite the simplicity of our methods, making these still took much more time than eating them.

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Zingerman's Delicatessen

As an aspiring entrepreneur getting her business education in the city of Ann Arbor, my courses often look at the local Zingerman's family of businesses as a case study. They have successfully built a brand that is known not just for their excellent delicatessen and roadhouse, but have  also flourished in gaining national recognition as a market for superior food products. Their open-minded culture also creates a very positive work environment, making Zingerman's a pleasant experience for employees as well. Having been to the delicatessen before, I wanted to try something a little different than a sandwich. Instead of my usual Leo's Friendly Lion, I ordered the Stewart's Farmer's Hash ("Zingerman's vegetarian hash; Oven-roasted sweet potatoes & redskin potatoes, piquillo peppers, sauteed spinach & crispy onions"). A warm and filling dinner, it made the walk back to my dorm slightly more bearable. DSC_1524 DSC_1527 DSC_1550 DSC_1542 DSC_1546 DSC_1552

Quartino

Upon doing a simple Yelp search for my hungry siblings, we were directed to Quartino's Ristorante. It was close, relatively inexpensive, AND they had pizza. We quickly discovered though, that the pizza was not the thick crust pie type of pizza that we were looking for. Indeed, Quartino's Ristorante well-known thin crust pizza was exactly the opposite of what we had initially desired, but definitely did not fall short of other expectations. The crust was soft, the cheese was not overwhelming, and the arugula on my vegetarian pizza was fresh. The open and warmly lit atmosphere of Quartino's also felt extremely welcoming despite being in the midst of a busy and fast-paced city.  We wanted Chicago style pizza, but we ended up with something better.

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Hershey Store

A few weeks ago, hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents were without power--with no exception to my own household. Instead of dealing with a cold unheated home though, we decided to temporarily escape the cold and take a short trip down to Chicago (especially since my dad was away for a business trip). Aside from spending time with my mom and my siblings, there wasn't anything in particular that I wanted to do. Admittedly, we spent a lot of time in the hotel watching Unique Sweets, but it was thoroughly enjoyable to sit in a warm heated room snuggled up with my little brother and sister. Our hotel was within walking distance to the stores on Michigan Avenue and many other Chicago attractions that my siblings had never been to, including the Hershey Store. Although the store itself is a pretty small space, the amount of chocolate upon walking in is somewhat overwhelming--especially for younger children. We gawked at the mega Hershey bars before we sat down with rich milkshakes and indulgent brownies that we quickly devoured.

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Easy Combination

_DSC0024While headed to Reading Terminal Market (as previously mentioned here and here), Matthew and I had high hopes for making something really spectacular for dinner. We hatched up plans to make a mango-tomato bruschetta, potato gnocchi, and also dessert to top it all off. As we wandered through the market though, we grew increasingly lazy and lost the desire to put so much work into a meal--especially if it required getting things like balsamic vinegar that he probably wouldn't use after I left. We also kept spoiling our appetite by indulging in a bunch of market sweets. A cookie here, a few chocolate truffles there....by the end of it, we definitely were in no state to have an actual dinner. We abandoned our elaborate plans for dinner and settled on getting a baguette, fresh mozzarella cheese, and some garnishes. It was a relatively simple meal, but sometimes it's the simple things in life are what we appreciate the most.

Hip City Veg

If being vegan were as simple as frequenting this delicious restaurant 2-3x a day, anyone would be able to do it. Hip City Veg's 100% plant-based menu is far more appetizing than your typical vegan offerings of boring salads or meager pastas. Mouth-watering options like Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches and Udon Noodle Salads make eating vegan approachable for even the most carnivorous omnivores, and not for the price of an arm and a leg too. _DSC0108 _DSC0115 _DSC0127 _DSC0129