Good morning!  Yesterday was just *boom boom boom*, going everywhere with my aunt’s family before they leave tomorrow morning.  :/  Then it’s back to the grind for me, really—aka finishing up all the homework due after break.  Boooooooo.

I’ve been going to a hell lot of restaurants lately, even eating two meals out in one day.  o_o  Lunch yesterday was at the Eiffel Tower Café (again).  My dad suggested it—he wanted to bring his friend from China to a “European-style” restaurant.  And me?  I’m all for it, man.  They even put us in a little corner this time!  It was super cozy and awesome.  :]

After a few “issues” (“I couldn’t understand a word he said”) with the French waiter’s pronunciation and fast-paced run through the specials, my dad and his friend started off with a special arugula and endive salad with gruyère cheese and anchovies.  I had a taste—pretty tasty sans olives, which I despise, though everyone else in the world seems to love them.


This was the first time in a looong time that I had anchovies, and I forgot how salty they were!  Solution?  Stuff mouth with warm, crunchy-on-the-outside-doughy-on-the-inside baguette.  Never fails.


I told my dad’s friend that he had to try the baguette, and though he didn’t give me his opinion on it, he kept going back for more pieces throughout the meal… so I’m guessing he liked it.  ;)

I snapped a picture of the baguette, and then the nice British waitress commented on my camera.  I was completely thrown off guard—actually, I expected people to eye me weirdly for bringing a big camera into a teeny-tiny restaurant and snapping tons of photos of my food.  We had a little discussion about cameras, mostly lamenting the quality of most digital cameras, and she eventually asked me for the model.  Of course, I happily told her :]

(They recognize us probably because it’s our third time going, and we’re probably one of their few, if not their only, Asian customers.  lol.)

For the main course, I was originally going to have la crêpe du jour, chicken and vegetables, but I decided I had to get the chicken chausson with couscous after hearing the waiter’s description (i.e. finally understanding what a chausson was).  I’ve never had a savory puff pastry dish, so I knew I had to try it.  :D

Voilà.



Hmmm, not bad.  Salad = good—not too oily, and a little sour from vinegar.  Couscous = fluffy and fantabulous—I think this was cooked with chicken broth or something, because it was delish.  Puff pastry = omnomnom, flaky and buttery and amazing.  The chicken inside was yummy, but a wee bit too salty.  I drank about 5 wine glasses of water throughout the meal, building up quite a tankload without realizing it.  ^_^;   The orange sauce was a fruit-based (citrus?) sauce, I believe, to go with the chausson. The combo of sweet and savory was fantastic, and the sweetness of the sauce helped tone down the saltiness of the chicken.


My dad’s friend was a newspaper photographer at one point, so he gave me some helpful photography tips.  :]

Dessert could have been the only-at-Christmas bûche de noël, but I was stuffed, probably from the buttery puff pastry.  Ah, well—there’s always next year, right?  ;)

Dinner was at a local restaurant, Willow Creek Farm.



It was, no doubt, warm and toasty inside.  :]  The decor is apparently supposed to emulate an “American-style inn” from colonial times?  It has a really earthy, rustic feel to it.  It’s a good reminder that I’m technically in the countryside, haha.

We started off with some bread with two kinds of butter, regular and strawberry.  I’ve had strawberry butter before—it’s pretty damn tasty!  I LOVE flavored butters, almost as much as I love flavored (sweet, not savory) cream cheese.  :D  I didn’t have a slice, though, because I was still kind of full from lunch!  :|


No offense, but I don’t think this can beat baguette.

Everything on the menu looked tantalizing.  *_*  I wanted to get everything!


There was actually a big sign in the front advertising the filet mignon, but I didn’t take a picture of it.  :(  It was amusing in a weird way…

Drinks:

That water jug was so heavy! o_o

After much contemplation between gnocchi, butternut squash ravioli (MUST TRY NEXT TIME), and pulled duck salad (!!!), and other goodies, I chose the seared sea scallops.


I’ll be perfectly honest here—I didn’t choose this dish for the scallops originally.  I was intrigued by the various sides (besides spinach, lol), which included pancetta, parsnip purée, and sweet potato gaufrettes.


I consulted with my cousin about gaufrettes, and he described it as some sort of “little cake”?  Anyway, I wasn’t expecting sweet potato crisps.  But they were delicious anyway, and I ate all of ‘em.  :D


Oh, and I just looked up pancetta on Wikipedia, and am delighted to know that it’s cured pork belly.  That stuff is incredible, seriously.  Actually, everything about this dish was incredible, sans the spinach, which was just… spinach.  To tell you the truth, I never really liked scallops before.  I always found them tough, rubbery, and virtually flavorless, but now I realize that they must’ve just been prepared in an unappealing way!  The waitress told me that the chef recommended the meat to be medium-rare, so I went with that, and boy am I glad I did!  These babies were juicy, savory, tender, and transformed my outlook on scallops entirely.  I’ll still be wary of them because of the tendency to overcook them, but OMG… I was totally not expecting to adore them.

The parsnip purée was surprisingly delicious, too.  I don’t know what they put in it (I should’ve asked…), but it was freaking amazing—buttery (well, I wonder what one ingredient was) and just a tad sweet.  I’ve never even eaten a real parsnip before, but if this is what they taste like, then I need to go buy some.  Like, now.  And purée them to a pulp with my new blender.  :]

Good things aside, I can’t deny that this dinner threw some disordered thoughts into my head post-meal.  I finished everything on my plate, and my mom and aunt commented that I could eat a lot, that I finished my whole meal, etc.  That old voice started to talk to me:

Look, you finished the WHOLE THING, you fatty!  You’re going to get so fat from this.  Even your mom and your aunt noticed!  FATSO!  Why didn’t you leave a few bites on your plate?  We should have a three-bite rule—at LEAST three bites must be left on your plate when you finish eating!

I thought about that last bit twice, and then I told the voice to f-off.  It can’t pull me down anymore.  Just going over those ridiculous thoughts makes me realize how truly stupid they are.  I encourage all of those who are struggling with these same thoughts to try to replay them in your mind and really try to listen to what ED/DE is telling you.  For example, leave three bites on my plate for every meal I eat?  WTF?  What if I’m hungry?  What if the portion is small, like tonight’s?  Why the hell should I institute such arbitrary rules?  Why should I take away my own freedom?

So I ate three damn scallops.  So I ate some spinach and a thin layer of parsnip purée and three 1-centimeter cubes of pancetta.  So what? It’s not like I’m stuffing myself till my ribcage explodes or eating so fast that my stomach hurts (poor cousin).  I’m treating my body well.  I can eat out during the holidays—I can eat out, period, and not worry about calories and fat and weight.  As long as I trust my body, I can do anything.

Sorry for the little speech there—I’ll get off my soapbox now.  ^_^;  Alright, ladies, I’m off—I hope you guys have an amazing day!

Q1: Do you like olives?  If so, is there a food that most people seem to like, but you don’t?
Q2: What’s your favorite type of cuisine?
Q3: Have you ever disliked something the first time, but liked it the second time?

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KITCHEN APPLIANCES. Excuse the grammar.

No joke.  My (wealthy…) aunt told me that if I didn’t tell her what I wanted for Christmas, she was just going to buy me whatever—as in, the chance of me wanting what she gives is about the same as if a gunshot fired into the hood of a car would start the engine.  I got that straight from my bio textbook, by the way (they’re not crazy, they’re just talking about mutations).

So I looked on my “things to tell people to get if they want to” list.  Lo and behold, the first thing I saw was “blender“.  Why do I want a blender?  Well, my current blender is pretty old (10+ years), so I kind of wanted a more modern one.  I gawk at all the wonderful creations various lucky bloggers have concocted using their legendary Vita-Mixes—but of course, that’s something that I’m not willing to invest in.  ~$400 for a blender?  Eh.  That’s almost the same price as the camera I wanted!  i.e. No thanks!  The cheapo in me would cry if I imposed that purchase on myself or anyone else.  (Of course, it would be a whole ‘nother story if I got it for free.  Santa.  I’m looking at you.)

But anyway.  I asked for a “good” blender, whatever that means.  I just want to be able to successfully blend nut butter, hummus, pie crusts, etc., which my current blender fails at.  No clumps allowed!

I know that normal girls my age would ask for money, or gift cards, or CDs, as most of my friends do, but I think it’s already been established that I’m just a bit out of the norm.  I mean, I like going clothes shopping, but I don’t want my aunt to buy me clothes anymore.  Okay, it worked when I was like, 5, but last year she bought me this bright blue bathrobe with red hearts on it… and I shall say no more.  ._.

Anyway… here’s the EXCITING part of Friday’s grocery haul.  I snagged a packet of Justin’s honey almond butter.  I was going for the maple, but they didn’t have it in stock :(

Hopefully, this will live up to all the hype this brand has gotten!

Some whole wheat pastry flour and grain-sweetened chocolate chips for holiday baking :]

And finally, the bar stash :D

* spooky s’mores Zbar (x3)
* cashew acai protect thinkFruit
* apricot goji PranaBar (almond butter is ingredient #2!  yesss!)
* chocolate orange Jocalat
* lemon, vanilla & cashew Clif Nectar (my FAVORITE—so sad that it was discontinued!)

I took a risk with the thinkFruit. I tried a chunky peanut butter thinkThin bar before, and it was straight up nasty. Disgusting protein flavor, blech.  Hopefully, the thinkFruit bar will be palatable without the weird protein ingredients…

Lunch on Saturday was once again at the Eiffel Tower Café.  :]  I have pictures this time!

Isn’t it adorable?  Notice the little plate in the corner of the first pic—they have those hanging all around.  They also have all sorts of Christmas decorations and cute ornaments up.  It’s a really, really, really small place—very cozy.  :]

Today, I got the l’omelette du jour, which was, I presume, a 3-egg bundle of yellow joy with smoked salmon, shiitake mushrooms, and gruyère cheese.  It came with a perfectly dressed side salad of mixed greens, carrot ribbons, and onions.  The oil-vinegar dressing they used was awesome.  It made the veggies taste mysteriously delicious—maybe the olive oil?

But anyway.  Omelet talk: YUM.  Usually, the omelets at other restaurants are huge and stuffed to the brim with meat and veggies and oozing with cheese (the last one isn’t so bad, hehe), but I definitely prefer the French-style omelet.  It’s perfectly buttery, fluffy, and not stuffed to the brim.  I love how the eggs are the star of the dish and not just a canvas for the other mishmash of things the omelet is stuffed with.  Fluffy eggy goodness—what could be better?  :]  My palate deviates towards two textures: mushy and fluffy.  Mmmmm.

Ah, the fancy name of the dessert escapes me.  :/  In more barbaric terms, this was anise-spiced cream (?) sandwiched between two slices of walnut-studded cake, the top layer dusted with powdered sugar.  It was delicious—fluffy cake + crunchy walnuts and light, delicious cream :]  It was almost like a strangely-shaped sponge cake roll!  Unfortunately, I was the only one who liked it.  My dad can’t stand spices, and I don’t know what’s wrong with him.  ;)  Oh well—more for me!

Oh, and thank you guys for the photography compliments… but just looking at the pictures from the restaurant make me sad.  :(  They just fail.

AND OMG.  ELEVEN DAYS TILL CHRISTMAS!!!  Whoooo-hooo!  :D  Our Christmas “tradition” was always to open presents from family on Christmas Eve, and wait till Christmas morning to open the gifts from Santa.  ;)  I think it is/was a lot more fun this way!  Opening presents at night = candles, fire, and bright Christmas tree lights = so much more warming, cozy, etc. than opening them in the daytime!  What are your holiday traditions?

I’ll see you all after this dreaded.week of horror. x__x  Good-bye my loves!

I’ve found the little gem of my town. Though I’d love to give their people some marketing advice… like a better website and a menu without the fancy font…

Anyhoo, situated in a remote corner of old town Leesburg is a quaint, wonderful little restaurant called the Eiffel Tower Café.  It was rated 4 stars on Yelp!, so I decided to give it a go, even though it had only been reviewed by five people.  Risky move, but I’m so glad I tried it.  My impressions, in order:

1. What a lame name.

2. Uh, it’s THAT small?!  (It was a small, and I mean teeny-tiny, white building that looks like it was built in the 18th century, which it probably was).

3. … Where’s the entrance?  (I walked up to a door, which was not really a door, and then I saw the menu, and then I went in that direction… and found the door.)

The decor inside was really, really, really cute.  There were framed photos and paintings of France on the walls, along with the most adorable miniature pots and tiny porcelain plates with pictures on them.  :)  “European” was my dad’s comment, though I can’t affirm nor deny that since I’ve never been to Europe.  The two servers were definitely European, though—one spoke French (and was heard conversing in pretty French with an old lady), and one had a British accent!  She had just flown back from London the day before, apparently.  I looove me some British accents <3  It was so cozy and completely empty when we went inside, so it was, predictably, very, very quiet.

I’m sorry I forgot to take a picture of the delicious innards to show you guys.  :/  I was pretty self-conscious about taking pictures—I mean, since no one else was there, I didn’t want to look like a weirdo/tourist taking too many pictures!  :P I’ll be sure to next time, though, so the adorableness can be seen x)

To start, we were served some lovely, fresh, warm French baguette.  Oh my Lord, this was so. good.  Perfectly crunchy crumb, followed immediately by a doughy white interior.  Just plain breadiness.  I love, love, love breads like this.  And get this—when I asked to bag the leftover pieces, they gave me a whole new baguette wrapped in foil!  How nice is that?!

The menu was small, as can be seen by the website, but there were a lot of specials—at least four each for appetizers and entrées.  There was a tilapia dish with parmesan risotto that sounded really good, but I opted for the seafood crêpe (la crêpe du jour), which was filled with sea bass and shrimp:

Nomnomnom. I ate the whole thing.  I don’t know what exactly was in the sauce that was poured on top (cream, probably), but it invoked major drooling.  This was the best crêpe that I’ve ever had.  Granted, I’ve only had one other crêpe before, but this blows that first one out of the water by a long shot.  The sea bass and shrimp were perfectly seasoned and not overly salty (unlike *cough*); fishy in a good way, if that makes sense at all.  The filling would’ve tasted amazing by itself, but being wrapped in a golden, lightly sweet, charred-edge crêpe took the delicious factor to a whole ‘nother level. Oh… and the vegetables were still slightly crunchy, not limp and lifeless! :)

My dad also ordered a special, the pan-seared calimari:

Pan-seared calimari + thin tomato sauce, sauteed spinach, couscous.

And you’d be crazy if you thought I didn’t have at least a bite or five of this.  ;)  (don’t worry, we traded :P)  YUMYUMYUM.  Squid is one of the extremely chewy foods that I really enjoy, and the tomato sauce was light and did not resemble the dreaded marinara sauce in the least.  This was my first time trying couscous, too, and I give it a thumbs-up :)  They’re like cute little spheres of joy!

My dad liked this place, and that’s very rare—he’s tolerant of a lot of different types of food, but rarely does he actually like a restaurant/food, especially Western food!  And the price, at least for lunch, was just right.  Our dishes were $11-$12, and they even had a deal for a $16.95 (or .75?) three-course lunch!  I totally would’ve opted for that, since their appetizers sounded pretty damn tasty (cream of butternut squash soup?  shiitake mushrooms + chicken mousse + truffle oil?!?!), but I wasn’t very hungry and I didn’t want to waste money.  :|  I’ll definitely get that next time, though—that’s like, the equivalent of one entrée at the average restaurant!

This place gets five stars from me, no questions asked.  The service was great (though there were only two of us…) and the people were amiable, the atmosphere was relaxing, the food was excellent—unpretentious and simplistic—and the prices were just right.  I’ll be happy to be a regular patron of this place!  :)

After lunch, I got my hair (bangs especially!) trimmed and re-layered, and then we went to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s to get some goodies!  :)  Goodies like goat’s milk yogurt,

Baaaabaaa.  Wait, no.  Mehhhhmehhhhh.

cranberry chèvre (!!!)


satisfied cravings for seasonal produce with a honeycrisp apple + a jewel sweet potato (NON-yellow!  ha!)


indulged a teensy bit more with pecan pralines, which I cannot believe I never had before.  This is my new crack, yo.  What’s yours?

annnd my favorite almond, pumpkin, and sunflower seed butters.  I really want to make my own pumpkin butter, because although TJ’s is good, it’s a little too sweet for me.  I was just a little ecstatic to get my buttahs back—I desperately needed something to top my leftover kabocha!  ;)


After that, things slowly went downhill.  I had to go back to my mom’s house and “entertain” people at the huge, fantabulous party that she and my stepfather were throwing.  Not.  Cool.  First of all, I’m a terrible conversation starter.  Second of all, we were totally unprepared for hosting a bunch of teenagers.  Third, no one was willing to talk.  Can you see where the problem is?  Bad conversation starter?  No one willing to talk?  Haven’t seen in each other since the last Asian party years ago?  UTTER AWKWARDNESS! IN THE WORKS???

I rest my case.

To my relief, I found a DVD for American Gangster hidden away in a cabinet, and we ended up watching that the entire remainder of the time.  I’m terrible, I know, but I must say—it was pretty entertaining.  Actually, I loved it.  :D  We can watch movies in silence, oh yes we can, because watching in silence is not completely AWKWARD! (But don’t tell the Blockbuster people.  The DVD was rented looong ago… and I don’t know why we never returned it o__o)  There’s goes my career as a hostess.  Shattered dreams right there.

What do you do in awkward situations?  How do YOU entertain silent guests?

Giveaways galore:
Be sure to check out Chocolate-Covered Katie’s awesome giveaway! Love me some coconuts. :]  And for cookies, head on to Peanut Butter and Jenny~ And for gorgeous matcha tea, enter to win at Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

Okay readers, I bid you a SUPER AWKWARD! toodaloo :)