James’ 35th Birthday Dinner at Kusakabe

22 Jan

For his last birthday James took the day off so we could hang out at the Exploratorium and eat sushi at Kusakabe.

As a work perk James gets free entry to the Exploratorium for him (+ guest), so we figured we’d go and see the exhibits that we missed during the Christmas party.

Fog machine!
IMG_20171220_112019 Behold the magnificent symmetrical faces of James! MVIMG_20171220_113002It was quiet for an hour and then a couple of school excursion groups arrived so we decided to head home for a pre-sushi nap.

It’s a loose tradition that we get sushi for James’ birthday so I booked the first seating at Kusakabe. While we waited for the chefs, James opened his present from the cats:
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He took a couple of seconds to figure out I hadn’t just given him $2 for his birthday.

I went with the wine pairing and James had the sake pairing (we tasted each other’s and I think mine was better – though his came in more exciting glasses). We both went with the regular omakase (instead of the grand), and ordered from the a la carte menu afterwards.

It was a long meal – I want to say three hours?

Zuke chutoro (soy sauce cured medium fatty tuna) – this was one of our favourites:
IMG_20171220_171848Hirame (konbu cured halibut topped with its own liver – is that even a thing you can guarantee?):
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Then Katsuo (smoked bonito with ponzu and daikon):
MVIMG_20171220_172553There was another fish but I don’t remember what it was, and then two pieces of sashimi (photographed here on a jaunty angle by James:
IMG_20171220_173602Then the chef’s assorted petit plats, which we could eat in any order:
IMG_20171220_174809I can’t remember what they were, but we agreed the oyster was the best, that the chip-looking thing was surprisingly tasty (I don’t know why but we thought it would be bland), and everything was amazing.

For this course we were pleased at the size comparison between my wine glass and James’ sake glass:
MVIMG_20171220_175932The next course was some kind of delicious soup – I think maybe oyster?
MVIMG_20171220_180126Our next two courses were blow-torched!
00092IMG_00092_BURST20171220181705_COVER Hokkyoku Iwana (arctic char salmon):

IMG_20171220_181449Followed by Kamasu (lightly seared Japanese barracuda):
IMG_20171220_182110Hotate (hokkaido scallop with sea urchin!):
IMG_20171220_182913I don’t remember what this was, but apparently I demolished it.
IMG_20171220_183729I think this was the point that the omakase ended and a la carte began. James got the wagyu (A5 grade Miyazaki Wagyu strip loin). The photo does it no favours but he liked it so much he made me order it as well and it was fantastic:
MVIMG_20171220_190534I ordered the Gyoku (fresh lobster omelette with organic egg) but we don’t have a picture of it – which is OK because it was the one thing that I wasn’t really that impressed by.

was impressed by the sea urchin!
IMG_20171220_191820The Toro Sushi (low temperature aged fatty tuna belly):
MVIMG_20171220_192505Kasugodai (bamboo leaf cured young red snapper) – I think the yellow stuff on top was dehydrated egg:
IMG_20171220_192510Nodo Guro (Japanese throat fish)
IMG_20171220_193858Meso Anago (sake braised young sea eel with yuzu kosho).
IMG_20171220_193841Zuwei Gani (Japanese snow crab with slow cooked quail egg):
MVIMG_20171220_191833I thiiiiink this was the Aori-Ika (low temperature aged big fin reef squid) that James ordered. I didn’t take notes and have been piecing this all together through photos, the menu, the itemized bill, and other people’s photos:
IMG_20171220_194705Shiro Ebi (baby white sweet shrimp with slow cooked quail egg):
MVIMG_20171220_194732Shirako (Hokkaido cod) – sooo silky, even though it kind of looks like a brain:
IMG_20171220_195237Amadai (Kyoto sweet snapper cured with ryushi konbu):
IMG_20171220_200131And finally, the tiny, adorable desserts! Creme brulee for me:
IMG_20171220_201050 And a yuzu and shiso-leaf sorbet for James (they actually comped this for his birthday, which was very sweet): IMG_20171220_201042It was all delicious! Even seeing the crazy high bill could not diminish our sushi glow. It helped that the sommelier kept us topped up on the final glass of our wine/sake pairings as we kept ordering our a la carte dishes. =D

So yeah, totally worth it as an occasional splurge. Maybe James has the right idea about omakase birthdays …

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A Point Reyes Christmas!

12 Jan

James and I spent Christmas in Point Reyes this Christmas. It’s about 1.5 hours from San Francisco, so it’s perfect for a long weekend getaway.

Christmas Eve

We’d picked up our rental car the day before, so got an early start on our trip. Here we are heading out of the city:
IMG_20171224_081946We arrived at the Point Reyes Lighthouse a little bit before it opened. There were very few people around, and on the walk to the lighthouse we saw some elk. This one crossed the road right in front of us!IMG_20171224_095757I guess he has a fancy necklace because they monitor the elk population or something?

We had some nice views of the seashore and (what I’m going to assume were) Cypress trees.
IMG_20171224_100144Before descending to the lighthouse, a warning to us all:
IMG_20171224_100802There were just a couple of other groups, and everyone was very considerately staggering themselves, so we had the lighthouse to ourselves.
IMG_20171224_101407We saw the Fresnel lens and the inside of the lighthouse. James read the lighthouse keeper’s diary and said it was basically the diary of a man slowly going mad. Apparently it was mainly complaints about how little work the other lighthouse keeper did, and also every few months he would see a boat.

The way back up – 308 steps!
IMG_20171224_102810We went to Point Reyes Station to do some grocery shopping (it was slammed!) and then headed to get our oyster lunch(es).

Our first stop was Hog Island Oysters where we ordered raw oysters, oysters with barbecue sauce, and half a Dungeness crab.
IMG_20171224_123909They sold oysters that you could take home and shuck yourself, which sounds amazing. Maybe next time!

Afterwards we went to The Marshall Store. They were more expensive than Hog Island, so if you’re getting plain oysters you should probably go elsewhere, but the smoked and barbecued oysters were incredible – and the barbecued oysters came with a giant, satisfying hunk of bread!

Hog Island Oysters had the pretty fairy lights, but it was really nice sitting on the water with our delicious oysters. IMG_20171224_140411Afterwards we headed to our rental cabin in Point Reyes, ready for an early start the next day.

Christmas Day

We got to the Palomarin trailhead around 8am to hike Alamere Falls. It’s one of the most popular hikes in the area but the parking lot was empty on Christmas Day.

It’s an 8 mile (12.8km) round trip – we actually did 10 miles (16km) because we missed the turn-off. We think there used to be an official sign but now there’s just this mysterious rock arrow pointing into some bushes.
IMG_20171225_102019On our hike back we watched from around the corner to see what people would do, and everyone took the shortcut. I guess James and I are just very untrusting people. =(

After a long and circuitous walk on an empty beach, we finally arrived!
IMG_20171225_113928The falls emptied out to the ocean, which was really cool.
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Here is James having lunch at the base while I wandered around.
IMG_20171225_114252When the tide came in it cut off the beach route that we had taken to get to the falls. The shortcut involved a bit of a scramble up a cliff. IMG_20171225_120228At the top there were several little falls before the main waterfall.
IMG_20171225_120731 We think this was the top waterfall but you can never be sure. IMG_20171225_121216
There were a lot of people on our walk back and when we got back to the carpark it was full, which was a bit surprising given that it was Christmas. But I guess I don’t know how full it would have been on a regular day to compare.

We got home, showered and napped. Then we had dinner, drank a bottle of champagne and played Exit: The Abandoned Cabin, an escape room game. It was so cosy and satisfying spending the evening solving puzzles together. What a perfect day. =)

Boxing Day

This was our cabin at sunrise.
IMG_20171226_074223 (1)After we checked out we went kayaking on Tomales Bay. It was a beautiful morning and the water was like glass.
MVIMG_20171226_110400 We spent a lot of the time following this bird around. He hated us; every time we paddled within 50 meters of him he glared at us and flew away. MVIMG_20171226_104019We saw some elk on a beach. They also weren’t happy to see us, and fell a couple of times trying to jump a ledge to get away from us. Sorry elk!
Elk at Tomales Bay failing to climb a ledge, as seen from our kayakWe stopped for lunch on Heart’s Desire beach and then continued on our kayak journey. The water had gotten quite choppy and we were fighting against the current. I say “we”, but unfortunately for James, my paddling was largely decorative.

You can tell by his happiness levels. Here we are, kayaking out:
IMG_20171226_102750 (1)And kayaking back:
IMG_20171226_124600Logistically it had been a poor decision to kayak on the day we didn’t have a hot shower immediately available, but it was the only way I could have fit everything in since the kayak place wasn’t open Christmas Day and the lighthouse wasn’t open Monday to Thursday.

But anyway, we dried off as best we could and headed back to San Francisco. It was a really wonderful way to spend the Christmas break. =)

We spent the rest of the day relaxing at home (OMG my ankles were so sore after the hike) and playing with the cats. Then in the evening Jaimie and Jeff came over and we played Watson & Holmes (where we were all completely out-deduced by James).

A Visit to YouTube

3 Jan

A couple of months ago (yes I am very behind – happy new year by the way!) Jaimie and I visited James at YouTube.2018-01-03 (3)We had lunch at one of the cafes – there are only a few to choose from so we ate at the one that James said always has better food. He had a bowl of soup; Jaimie and I both had two lunches (one was an Indian curry and the other was roast pork with zucchini salad) and then lunch-dessert.

They had this outside! Meeting table? Lunch table? At any rate I feel the design was flawed because Jaimie and I knocked into each other a couple of times.
2018-01-03 (2) (1)James kept hyping down the YouTube office, and while it’s true that there aren’t as many cool things as in New York or Mountain View, there were still some interesting things to see. Warning: it’s all very red.

Slide!
MVIMG_20171127_135034Non-Google employees not allowed. =(

Video immersion room! We still have no idea what this was because it was down when we were visiting. Nevertheless, we stood in line like idiots.
MVIMG_20171127_131623All the meeting rooms were named after internet memes (at least I think that’s what James said). There were lots of TVs playing different YouTube videos, and generally the internet was a big decorating theme.
IMG_20171127_131713There was some special room with a green screen and fancy recording equipment, where James said they invited YouTube creators to come and film. We couldn’t go inside but I’m not sure whether it’s because people were using it or because we weren’t allowed to see it.

Claw machine!MVIMG_20171127_133940It was calibrated harder than the Seattle office one so we didn’t win anything (Jaimie wanted one of the water bottles).

They also had baristas and a juice bar. At the coffee bar they had pastries on display and a little sticker that said “You are so thoughtful because you take just enough and come back for more”. It shamed me and I didn’t take any. I did get a jasmine ice tea though, and also a jalapeno and kale juice at the juice bar.

The others got coffee and while we waited we took photos at the YouTube news desk.
IMG_20171127_132842 (1)Afterwards James showed us the disc golf course/walking trail outside. It’s a smaller, less sprawling office than Mountain View, and a much shorter commute. He said it’s much nicer to not have tourists wandering around (present company notwithstanding).

Thanks for the YouTube tour Jamesy!
2018-01-03 (1) (1)

Google Holiday Party 2018: Wonderland

14 Dec

When James told me the Christmas party was Wonderland themed I was like “Oh nice. Winter Wonderland!”

Nah. Alice in Wonderland.IMG_20171209_195208

It was held at the Exploratorium, which is an interactive science museum, and we could look at all the exhibits (mostly) without lines.

Here is James (you’ll just have to trust me on that) in a weird helmet thing that he kept changing the colours for with a little dial on the side.
IMG_20171209_194448He used this spinning wheel to change the direction his chair turned in.
IMG_20171209_211923My favourite exhibit was the Drawing Board. The other time I went to the Exploratorium this was really hard to get a ticket for, but at the party we just walked straight on (and started a movement! I think people didn’t realise it was a thing before we did it).

We picked four colours, swung the machine how we wanted and let the momentum draw pretty patterns for us.
00082IMG_00082_BURST20171209200304_COVERWe also went to the Tactile Dome which was free for the evening (it normally costs $8-15).

There was quite a long line for it – maybe 30 minutes? But it was pretty cool – you had to take off your shoes and feel your way through this pitch black route with slides, a mini rope course, bits where you had to crouch and climb, etc.

sq_tactiledome_15_0

image from Exploratorium website

I only saw one casino table this year, but that makes sense when there is so much to do at the Exploratorium. Otherwise it was pretty similar to previous Christmas parties – open bar (no signature cocktails this year though), sushi bar, taco bar and photo booths.
IMG_20171214_111423One thing that was new was the boba tea room (a huge hit!). They had several milk teas available – Hong Kong milk tea, taro, and jasmine are the ones I remember – and it was a really nice non-alcoholic option.

I also loved the little teapot sugar cookies they had as part of the dessert buffet:
IMG_20171209_224322Adorable. (I had two!)

We did a lot of standing around and chatting with James’ coworkers so we didn’t get to see as much as we would have liked. James gets free entry to the Exploratorium as a Google perk so maybe we’ll head back another day and play with all the exhibits!

The Most Important Item In Your Home

30 Nov

I was going through some old Livejournal posts and came across this. I had totally forgotten this memory but I love it – it’s so James.

I was reading a magazine and it had this line:

“Aside from your TV remote, your cutlery is probably the most important item in your home.”

And I thought … bwah? Neither cutlery nor the TV remote even make it into my top 100 most important things. But I figured that maybe I was undervaluing cutlery (and TV remotes) so I asked James for a second opinion.

Me: Hey, what do you think is the most important item in our apartment?
James: (suspiciously) …… You?
Me: No seriously.
James: (hesitantly) ….. You?
Me: James!!
James: (more hesitantly) …. The washing machine? You always say that you love the washing machine.
Me: It’s not a trick question! I honestly want to know!
James: Oh. My computer then.

Things I Bought That I Love

21 Nov

James had lower jaw surgery as part of his ongoing orthodontic work, and was finally able to start talking last week. The first week of recovery was pretty rough, with constant soups/smoothies and painkillers through a syringe and tube.

I was unexpectedly able to stay with him at the hospital (it was a huge room and the nurses brought me sheets and turned the giant armchair into a bed). Since it wasn’t planned I didn’t have any of my stuff, and James was sweetly concerned on that first night:
MVIMG_20171026_002559But he’s been healing well and has graduated to no-chew foods like scrambled eggs and mashed potatoes. We think in a couple of weeks he’ll be able to start eating soft foods like fish and pasta.

(Also, the Vitamix has been paying dividends. I am quite pleased with it).

Anyway, since I basically have no news, here is a list of things I bought recently that I love.

Aviator Nation Hoodie

Aaages ago, James was walking past the YouTube swag closet as they were cleaning it out and got given a bunch of stuff. The coolest swag was a pair of Aviator Nation trackie pants that were way too small for him (they were skintight!) but fit me.

Basically these pants, but a lot looser and with a little YouTube logo on it:

W-WSPMO-RED-2_2000x

image from Aviator Nation

The colour and oversize fit reminds me of the cool girls from high school wearing their Scotch boyfriends’ trackie pants. Perhaps that is why I feel so trendy wearing them to lounge around at home.

I was horrified when I saw the price on their website ($145!) but I loved them so much and they were so soft and comfortable. And I really wanted their signature hoodie:

W-HDAVN-VWHT-1_2000x

image from Aviator Nation

Then they went on sale and I snapped one up. It was stupidly expensive, but no regrets. I love my rainbow hoodie and wear it all the time. =)

Hobonichi Diary

I miss having a physical diary – using my phone calendar just doesn’t cut it. So I picked up the Hobonichi, which has a cult following online.

124505

image from JetPens

I love how severe it looks, almost like a little bible. It’s surprisingly compact given that it has a page a day. I’ve already bought a bunch of fancy pens and stickers for it.

What can I say, I’m a sucker for stationery.

Zuri Dress

This dress is one of the few items in my closet that I get regular compliments on (the others are my skeleton workout top, my Qwstion backpack, and my slouchy Ksubi jeans).

I found out about it from this article in the New York Times. It’s modest enough to wear travelling to conservative countries, dressy enough to wear to a nice dinner (or wedding – I’ve worn it to two!), easy to pack, and super easy to wear.

front_0343298a-335c-4a1b-bbea-f7663537999f_1024x1024

image from Zuri

It feels like cheating because it looks quite fancy but it’s actually one of the most comfortable items I own. And if you think about it, dresses are way easier because you only need to decide on one piece of clothing instead of two.

So yeah, that’s some of the stuff that I bought. I have my eye on a few board games and the new bluetooth Bose QC35s – hopefully there are some good discounts post-Thanksgiving.

James Lays Down the Cold, Hard Truth

18 Oct

A couple of weeks ago I was lying in bed with Mouse on my lap. I lifted up his front half to admire his cuteness, and while I was doing so he reached out really slowly with one of his back feet until it rested on my bottom lip.

I was so shocked that I just stayed there, with Mouse and I staring at each other while I was holding his front paws and he had his back paw on my mouth.

Anyway, a little while after that I was talking to Mouse (with James in the room).

Me: Do you remember that time you put your poo-digging foot on my mouth?
James: (very gently) Kaye … they’re all poo-digging feet.