… with my aunt’s family.  :(  At least it was a memorable one—for them, at least!

We went to Kobe Japanese Steak and Seafood House for dinner yesterday, one of those places where they cook the food right in front of you with fancy tapping and flipping.  Oh, and huge fires.  I was almost afraid to whip my camera out in fear that it would get burned or something!  But when I saw my cousin begin to record the procedure with his digital, I couldn’t resist…


I split a hibachi scallop dish with my sister.  It came with soup, salad, stir-fried vegetables, and steamed/fried rice.  We agreed on steamed, but it was still fun to watch the cook flip the fried rice around.  :]

I was expecting miso soup, but this turned out to be ramen noodle soup (as in, the stuff that comes in the instant noodle bowls) flecked with mushroom slices.  This was the first time in a looong time that I’ve had instant noodle soup, so it was a pleasant-ish surprise.  ;)

The salad had a peanut dressing that wasn’t very Japanese, but was pretty darn tasty.  Otherwise, it was quite uneventful—my share consisted entirely of iceberg lettuce swimming in watery peanut sauce at the b0ttom of the bowl.  Oh, the sacrifices an older sibling must make…


I ordered a hot tea, which turned out to be genmaicha, my favorite type of green tea.  The toasted brown rice adds such wonderful depth of flavor to the plain green tea.


Cooking the veggies + scallops—look at the onion volcano!


My veggie portion was pretty lame after I split it with my sister… and perhaps munched on a few pieces before the camera.  ^_^;


This isn’t the most appetizing picture, but it’s the only one I took of the scallops.  :/  I actually ended up getting a piece of shrimp as well :D  Lucky lucky~ x)  These were, again, amazing scallops—really juicy and tender, and of course, extremely aromatic.  *drool*  Maybe I really don’t hate scallops after all!  <3


I loved that the steamed rice was actually a wee bit sticky instead of the hardened, loose stuff they serve at Chinese-American places.  It smelled really good, too—I adore the smell of fresh rice.  :)  (Yes, I’m a weirdo who sniffs rice.)  Also on my plate are random fried noodles that I honestly have no idea where they come from/who ordered them…  Lucky again?  They were pretty greasy and not too different from your average fried noodles.

Perhaps the weirdest part of dinner was watching the cook carve off pieces of shortening from a giant ball of the stuff.  I’m sad that I didn’t take a picture of it—at first I seriously had no idea what it was.  My cousin had suggested they were mashed potatoes.  o__o

For some reason, I honestly was not very hungry tonight.  I just could not finish my rice and mustered only about half of the noodles before I felt bloated.  Now, seeing as that I only had half an entrée in the first place, I did not eat very much.  My family began to voice their concerns, and I tried to tell them that I was honestly full, but the more I talked, the more it sounded like I was lying.  Begin freak-out on the inside.  What do I do?  How do I tell them that I’m truly full?  How do I make them believe me? etc.

Pft.  And to think that my disordered voice thought that they thought I was a fatty for finishing my food the other night—what a load of BS.  My sole question today is: What would you do in this situation?

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?

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 :)