We got to spend some time visiting a Amy in Philadelphia and had a great time EATING!  I never realized Philly had such amazing food.

Right now, we’re in South Carolina for school and we get to eat some yummy southern cooking.

The best food we’ve had so far is from our day trip to Charleston. The first place we went to was Sweatman’s BBQ. I wrote on my fb that it was the best BBQ ribs I’ve ever had and yes, brother, I will explain.
(Most of this information is from Anthony Bourdain’s ‘No Reservations’ show that we watched before we ate here. I felt a little silly snooping around their grills in the sheds out back.)

At Sweatman’s, it’s different than what I’ve had before because:
1. Use a mustard sauce (southern thing; I actually prefer ketchup-based sauce, BUT this didn’t need much sauce, it was THAT good.)
2. Roast the whole hog and then separate it to ribs, white meat, dark meat, and then cracklings (skin-so good!)
3. Banana pudding (who knew i’d like it that much?)

The BBQ guy on Bourdain’s show said this is 100 mile BBQ because people will drive that far to eat it. The first 5 pics are from Sweatman’s and the last 4 are from Hominy Grill.

The second place we went to was Hominy Grill. A lot of famous ppl that have been there-Anthony Bourdain, Alton Brown, Rachel Ray, Anthony Hopkins (saw his pic in the bathroom), etc.

There was great service and all the food was from local farms.  I felt like the food was solid, but a little pricey for me for southern food.

Dessert let down: I was actually waiting for dessert to try their chocolate pudding (which Alton Brown said he said it was “the best thing he ever had”), but they ran out.   Oh well, I guess we’ll have to come back, hehehe 🙂

I know it’s a little early for our 3 year wedding anniversary, but when you have a chance of a lifetime you take it!  Now I might be a little dramatic, but it’s all in good fun 😉

Background:  So if you’re a foodie, you’ve heard of Grant Achatz and Alinea.  It’s one of the two 3-star michelin rated restaurants in Chicago.  So Chef Achatz opened a new restaurant in April called Next.   It changes its menu every 3 months and the opening menu is “Paris 1906.” This restaurant doesn’t just have reservations, it has tickets.  So in order to buy a ticket in the first month it was open, you had to have signed up BEFORE it opened and been on their waiting list.  They only release a few tables per day and sometimes, there are more than 1000 people logged on to their website!

Long story short, D signed up early and was able to get tickets! AH!
Here are pics, course by course and with my commentary 🙂  Enjoy!

Once in a lifetime.  Cross it off the list!

So…I’ve never owned a dutch oven.  I never grew up with one. Chinese ppl don’t really cook with them.  I never knew they existed.  And then after I heard about how amazing they were, I found out they are SUPER expensive! So I never thought I would want one… but after playing with a friend’s, we might just have to invest in one!

We were inspired by a friend, T, who made an amazing pot roast for us in her Le Creuset (http://www.lecreuset.com/en-us/). Here is a pic of ours (not hers). Thanks Tyler Florence for your kick butt recipe!

And of course to go with that amazing pot roast and its yummy juices, you have to make a no-knead bread (also in the dutch oven). Xiao mei did a great job on this!

Our next endeavor was to make chicken pot pie-America's Test Kitchen-style. I LOVE America's Test Kitchen(http://www.americastestkitchen.com/). They know how to cook-don't let that man's silly bow-tie fool you.

This is their Chicken Pot Pie with Savory Crumble. So amazing, we made it TWICE in TWO DAYS!

Don't forget the Dutch BABY! Why are these so expensive when you go to OHOP?Here is a close up. And here is a secret: the first morning i tried to make this, I misread the directions and put THREE times the amount of flour. D had to help me on this one.....

Here is a close up. And here is a secret: the first morning i tried to make this, I misread the directions and put THREE times the amount of flour. D had to help me on this one.....

Thanks Q for letting us play with your Dutch Oven!  Thanks xiao mei for playing with us!  You are def. a better baker than I…

Now the q….to buy or not to buy?!!

Today is 元宵节 (Lantern Festival) – the first full moon after CNY. Chinese people traditionally will eat 汤圆 aka Tang Yuan on this day. They are basically little rice flour dough balls stuffed with various sweet fillings and boiled either in plain water or a gingery sweet broth.

We’ve always bought frozen ones from the Asian supermarket, but with the encouragement of our international student friends, we decided to make our own this year. It seems rather daunting at first, but it was actually fairly easy…

We made the filling first – Debbie’s favorite: black sesame.

After toasting the sesame seeds, they are ground up in the food processor (would have been nice if we had a coffee grinder). Then sugar and butter were mixed in. Lard is the traditional grease of choice but we opted for butter instead...

To make the dough, rice flour is mixed with water...

Then it’s off to wrapping… which was actually the hardest part of the whole thing.

Master Rina showing us how it's done

Stuffing the Tang Yuan

More wrapping

FAIL

Success!

Finished product with broth

Just like the store bought ones!

We also experimented with other kinds of filling like chocolate and peanut butter - here's the chocolate

I think some people were more successful than others...

Lastly, our monster Tang Yuan (a few failed ones mashed together)...

Happy 元宵节!

Valentine’s Day 2011.

You know, I used to care so much about V-day…like esp. when we were dating.  BUT now that we’ve been married, it doesn’t seem as important…

SO, instead of going OUT to eat, we stayed in and had KOREAN BBQ!  He really knows the way to my heart 🙂  What beats staying in the comfort of you own home, paying less than half the price of a restaurant, and having the after smell that permeates your rooms to remind you that you wanna eat more bbq, haha.

Here is a picture of the spread:  spicy pork, zucchini, kim chi, and mushrooms. (Can you find me?)
Of course, candles are supposed to be the romatical part of the night.

peek-a-boo 🙂

Here are some close ups.  Oh man. I’m drooling…I think I want to eat some more now.

close up 1

close up 2

We ate so much and still have more for another day-yes!  Sometimes staying home for special occasions is better than going out 🙂
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

This grill is one of the BEST investments D has ever made. We have had many a BBQ on this baby!

I know Hot Pot is not the most traditional Chinese New Year food, but when it’s -10 degrees outside, there’s nothing like Hot Pot to warm you up!

A few shots of the spread…

Some of our international student friends from China/Taiwan…

Some of our friends brought the spicy soup base from China… it’s filled with szechuan peppercorn (for that numbing spice) and chinese herbs

This has nothing to do with food, but our entertainment of the night: CNY Spring Gala (a variety show that every 1.5 billion people in China watch on CNY’s eve) projected on our wall.

And… karaoke! hahahahaha

Rina belting out a song…