Tag Archives: Food

Google Holiday Party: Under the Sea (Unda da Sea! Unda da Sea!)

13 Jan

This year the Christmas party was held at one of the event venues along the SF pier. We found our friends almost immediately which was great, since last year everyone kept wandering around and missing each other. We claimed a couple of big tables and just kept refilling it with food and booze. Because we’re pro.

A lot of stuff was the same as last year’s party, like the green screen photos:googleholiday002Cheesy but fun! They had props this year too.googleholiday001They also had the same casino games that they did last year. We played a little bit but it’s hard to keep interested without money involved. They seemed quite popular though.

And also like last year they had booze tasting (bourbon this year instead of scotch), cigars and a dance floor.

One thing they had this year that I don’t think they did last year was a game area with ping pong tables, shuffleboards, billiards, foosball, corn holes, and even a fishing simulator.
IMG_20151219_192743(In the background you can also see one of like, seven open bars that night)

And here are some freshly shucked oysters! You can bet we kept coming back.
IMG_20151219_194018You could also put on 3D glasses and walk through this colourful corridor. The line was non-existent which was nice because it was kind of meh.
IMG_20151219_200821No wait, apparently I found it amazing. IMG_20151219_200932Also the food was great! I mean, I mainly had oysters but I did sample stuff from the other buffets. Later they packed up the buffets (though they kept the taco stations open) and brought out a dessert bar with little cakes, mini root beer floats and teeny tiny cones of spiced popcorn. Heaven!

Last year there were more things to do at the venue itself (aircraft simulators, multiple ship tours, photo ops inside jets, etc). I think that’s why they had more performers and acrobats this year, to keep everyone entertained. But this year I had more fun since we got to hang out with our friends. =D

PS – I’m not sure this link will work, but check out James’ colleague’s photo album. You can see us in a couple of photos and he did a much better job getting photos of the food and entertainment. Probably because he wasn’t stuffing himself with oysters all night.IMG_20151219_193831

(No regrets)

 

Yes We Cancun!

9 Dec

A couple of months ago James and I went to Cancun to attend Luke and Madeleine’s wedding. We went for a week, which was perfect – enough time to catch up with friends but not long enough to get bored of the resort (which was so lovely – just look at it!).

01

image from Valentin Imperial Maya

This was really different from our usual holidays; normally I like to be a bit more active, and spend months researching the best things to do. But since it was a resort and the main reason we were going was for the wedding (and seeing our friends!) I was happy to just go with the flow this time.

The most exciting part for me was that it was all-inclusive. You know how I pig out whenever I visit James at work? Yeah, I went nuts. I had 10 cocktails the first day. We arrived in the afternoon so it wasn’t even a full day.
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James: (when taking the photo) Try looking a little less drunk.

A lot of stuff happened that first day though. For instance, Quincy got stuck in the women’s bathroom (the door jammed) and the guys had to sneak in and help her out.
IMG_20151030_231932Also James found a cat.
IMG_20151030_184209And he found another one a couple of days later. Finding vacation cats is like his lame superpower.
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No James! That’s not a cat!
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We were really excited by the coatis. We saw them wandering around the grounds but this is the best photo James got of them:
IMG_20151030_182051We found out later from Mike that if you rustle a bag of chips you can get this photo:
IMG_20151105_075427
I kind of cheated with this photo, because this is Pancho and he lived at the outdoor buffet restaurant.
IMG_20151101_131648He looks happy because he’s basically the coati equivalent of a billionaire; the waiters fed him a lot. I know this because whenever you said his name he would perk up, turn his head and then look disappointed.

It was such a weird experience being able to order without paying. We could get room service whenever we wanted and raided our room’s mini fridge.

At the breakfast buffets they would make omelettes to order, and there was a fajita station at the lunch buffet, which is basically what I had every day because they were amazing. James also made many visits to the breakfast crepe lady.
IMG_20151102_095918This is the baked Alaska from the fancy French restaurant we went to on (I think) our second night there.
IMG_20151031_194828Guy in the orange top is so jelly. You know he’s totally going to order one.

And here is the hibachi grill that we went to for Madeleine’s hens night.
IMG_20151101_214212

I have two cups of sake in front of me: one hot and one cold. Also some sushi.

IMG_20151101_213020I think my favourite restaurant experience was actually the last night. We went to the Mexican restaurant and the food was great! We also had the best waiter – he was so funny and took great care of James when he found out he was lactose intolerant. Here he is preparing my fajitas:
IMG_20151105_225359We had 10 people so our group was split in half. We sent tequila shots to the other table, because why not! Jenny had the idea to make three of them tequila and one water and when they drank them we could hear Quincy say “I don’t think mine was anything!”

Other than gorging ourselves we also went to the beach a lot. My favourite thing to do was feed the fish. They would leap out of the water to snatch bread from your fingers!
IMG_20151031_110049Even when James went back in the water later (breadless) the fish swarmed him.

James: Noo they recognise my brightly coloured shorts!
IMG_20151104_090353The breeze from the ocean made the beach one of the least humid places to hang out and the umbrella chairs were quite coveted.

The regular umbrella chairs weren’t good enough for James; he decided to take the lifeguard’s spot.
IMG_20151031_121032Plus of course there was booze service. I think we had some big tippers in our group because sometimes the waiter would just bring us impromptu tequila shots.

The pool was also popular because it wasn’t sandy, was faster to get to,  and had two swim up bars.
IMG_20151031_162903Mike had a fancy suite with a pool right next to it, so sometimes we’d swim at his pool then order a crapload of room service (quesadillas and burgers and nachos, oh my!) and booze.

Of course, you can only hang out at the pool and beach so much. So here’s James at one of the shooting activities with a (BB?) gun in one hand, margarita in the other.
IMG_20151102_111824We also went snorkeling one day, which was kind of meh because it had been raining and the visibility was poor, but it was cheap and I was going a bit stir crazy. We also tried some hookah that was in the cigar bar at the resort. Verdict: interesting, but not for us.

After the wedding we did a big group trip which was super fun. First we went to the Tulum ruins:
IMG_20151105_152206James at one of the temples (I want to say it’s the God of Winds temple?) with our ponchos in his pockets:
IMG_20151105_151356Afterwards we had lunch and drove ATVs through the jungle to get to a bunch of hidden cenotes (cave pools).
IMG_20151105_180604Then we ATV’d to a cave that we had to zipline into, which was really fun. The only slight bummer was that we started late in the afternoon so by the time we hit the cenotes it was dark outside and starting to get a bit cold. Luckily the life jackets kept us warm enough as we snorkeled around in the cave. It was pretty eerie and we had to be careful not to snag ourselves on the rock formations.

And here we are at dinner: homemade tamales!
IMG_20151105_194056The all-inclusive format really worked well for a group trip since we could just eat and drink and hang out. It was so great to see all of our Seattle friends and I’m looking forward to the next wedding (which a little birdie told me might be in Bali next year!).

A Visit to Google in Seattle

20 Aug

Apparently Google has three campuses in Washington State: Kirkland, Fremont and Bothell in order of size. This morning Luke invited me and James (well originally Chuck and James, but Chuck had something come up last minute) to have breakfast with him at Google in Fremont.

It’s a pretty small campus – just two buildings. From what Luke showed us there seemed to be a cafeteria and cafe in each building, plus the usual well-stocked microkitchens everywhere. The restaurants were decorated with things like painted tyres, propellers, and Fremont Troll artwork.

Also if you know me you know that I go kind of crazy when there’s free food. For breakfast Luke had what looked like cereal and cream (he said it was parfait) and James had some pancakes. I had pancakes, scrambled eggs, breakfast sausages, hash browns, green beans, carrots, juice and a croissant. =(

This is the restaurant in the other building, though it’s not open for breakfast. I think Luke described it as having pizza and tacos.
IMG_2676He also showed us the gym, which is about the size of a regular apartment gym but heaps better. They have two squat racks, kettlebells, heaps of weighted vests, and even heart rate monitors that you can borrow. The gym is right next to the water so they also have paddleboards and kayaks that you can take out.

But this was my favourite part of the tour:

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Claw machine, ohhh yeah.

You could play for free by getting a play token from reception. It was play until you win, and the claw was nice and grippy, not like those bullshit loose ones. I’m happy to report that James and I both got ours on the first try.

Inside the claw machine was various Google swag. Little soft toy keyrings, mini footballs, water bottles, t-shirts, and randomly some Google slippers. Those little white rectangles that say “Google” on them are actually t-shirts (I thought they were notepads) and when I realised that the “L” was actually the Space Needle I thought it would be an awesome souvenir! We were debating the ethics of asking for another token but a guy that worked there told us that reception would just give us a t-shirt if we asked.

Behold!
IMG_4509The t-shirt has the Space Needle, Rainier, Lake Union (?) and a forest. I wonder if all the Google campuses have locally themed t-shirts?

Mouse was a big fan of the toy (James: I knew the cats would like it):

IMG_4545Even though the office was small compared to Mountain View, it was really cute. And there’s definitely something to be said for not needing shuttles or bikes to get around campus. And the claw machine!

We have a little over two weeks until we move to the Bay Area and James starts work. We allowed extra time in case something went wrong – Australia Post losing James’ passport is still in recent memory. But everything went smoothly in Mexico and we had a great time, so watch out for a blog post about that soon!

James Takes a Day Off and We Go to Restaurant Roux

22 May

Restaurant Roux
4201 Fremont Ave N, Seattle

IMG_3596James has been working super long hours recently, so he took a day in lieu to partially make up for it. It was a good opportunity to try out Restaurant Roux in Fremont, since I’ve heard it’s good but the weekday lunch menu is the only one that strikes my fancy.

Restaurant Roux started as the Where Ya At Matt food truck, which was rated one of the best food trucks in the country. I’ve never gotten round to visiting, even tough the food truck parks near our place on Mondays.

My only other experience with Creole food was when we went to Brenda’s in San Francisco so I was pretty excited about Restaurant Roux. James got a lunch cocktail, because why not. He ordered the Battle of New Orleans ($10), which was bourbon, anisette, absinthe and various bitters.

IMG_3597He said it was good, but we both definitely raised an eyebrow when it arrived looking like dirty mop water. It really could have done with a garnish or something to make it look a little less gross. But when your cocktail comes out like a bag of brown I guess there’s only so much you can do.

Pretty-toad

James and I were both trying to decide between the same two things on the menu so we decided to split them. We ordered a fried oyster po’boy ($12)

IMG_3601and a Creole pork po’boy ($11)

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They arrived already conveniently cut in half.

The oyster po’boy was the clear favourite. There were fewer oysters than on the po’boy from Brenda’s, and I didn’t like the bread they used as much (it was kind of flimsy), but I think the actual oysters were nicer and the batter was nice and airy. Although I enjoyed the oysters more than I did at Brenda’s, it confirmed that fried oysters just aren’t my thing. But if they’re yours, I think Restaurant Roux does them well.

The Creole pork po’boy was super messy to eat and had a kind of bitter aftertaste that I didn’t like. I gave some of mine to James when I realised I wasn’t going to have room for dessert afterwards.

We also ordered some fries to split ($4):

IMG_3600No complaints about the fries! I also like the fries in mayo thing – is it a Southern thing?

For dessert we just had enough room for some beignets. Unlike Brenda’s they only had plain beignets ($4) so that’s what we ordered:

IMG_3602They came covered in a lifetime supply of icing sugar.

James said they reminded him of the Vic Market donuts, but I think beignets are less dense (and obviously they don’t have jam). I enjoyed them but preferred the flavoured beignets at Brenda’s. Nothing against the quality of the beignets at Restaurant Roux – the plain ones were my least favourite flavour at Brenda’s too.

We left feeling very full, and it was super nice having a leisurely weekday lunch. I think overall I wasn’t wowed enough to make a special trip out for it again, but if I’m feeling sandwichy on a Monday I’d definitely go to the food truck to try a muffaletta.

Restaurant Roux on Urbanspoon

Happy Hour Oysters at Whole Foods

25 Jan

Every so often Whole Foods has a happy hour where the oysters are 69c.

It goes from 5-7 but apparently they usually run out long before 7 and the queue starts forming around 4:30. So I told James to leave work early and got in line (I was about 5th from the front). James joined me shortly after and I’m pretty sure that at 5pm the line was all the way to the back of the store. The employees handed out little food samples, which was nice of them.

We ordered 4 dozen oysters ($33.12!) and a bottle of wine (no restaurant markup and no corkage!), got our number and headed to the cafe area. This was half our order:

They were enormous. We struggled to finish them and should have just ordered 3 dozen. A lot of the oysters had bits of shell in them, but for 69c it’s not a big deal and it was understandable given how fast they were shucking.

There were some women hanging out at the tables when the first lot of oyster-orderers started looking for seats. They weren’t eating and it turned out they thought they could just camp a table and order from there at 5pm. The women had to go to the back of the line, which was so long they still hadn’t made it to the front when we finished our oysters and wine. *smile of justice*

Here were the hardworking shuckers.

I overheard them saying that Whole Foods had set aside 200 dozen oysters for the happy hour. Eep!

Like I said earlier, the line was still going strong when we finished. The ordering process was quite fast but the bottleneck would have been waiting for the oysters and finding a table. For cheap oysters across the street from us it was definitely worth going and definitely worth getting there early.

I would have preferred to be able to take our oysters home but it was eat-in only; probably to prevent people from getting Whole Foods to cater their oyster party by ordering 20 dozen.

I was going to finish by writing “I’m soooo there for the next one” but then I looked it up and the next happy hour is the 30th of January. I don’t know if I can hack eating monster oysters every week!

Just A Boring Update

14 Nov

James picked up one of these when Amazon re-stocked on launch day:

image from Amazon

He even forked out for 1-day shipping so he could get it in time for the weekend. Until then he’ll be playing the new X-Com expansion. He plays in iron man mode where you can’t reload and always names his most promising female character after me – he gave me a medal to prevent me from panicking (“Kyoto’s Medal of Bravery”). He also gave himself a sniper medal (“Mouse’s Cross-Furs”), which totally makes me smirk cos it reminds me of his fake cat-themed golf game, Putt Putt Purr.

Also I’m conscious that I haven’t been doing a lot of blog updating! I’ve been writing a lot and also trying a lot of new recipes. Last night I made a salad with pomegranate seeds (de-seeding the pomegranate made me look like I’d been in a knife fight). This week I also marinated some pork shoulder to make lechon asado for a bastardised cuban sandwich.

(I took a bite before I remembered to take a photo) I had to juice so many frigging lemons, limes and oranges for the marinade that tomorrow I’m going to buy some more pork and re-use it. If there are no more blog updates I have died from salmonella.

Hmm, what else is new? I got my hair cut really short for the first time like … ever! Here is a quick photo I took in my bum clothes for Cat when she wanted to see my new hair – sorry about the crazy-eyes, I always feel awkward looking straight into the iPhone camera:

I think it will look super cute with winter scarves and now I don’t need to do plaited pigtails when I go snowboarding. 

Speaking of snowboarding, I’m optimistic that the Washington season will start before Thanksgiving. James has temporarily given up running so his knee will be in good shape, but that dedication is nothing compared to Mike, who traded in his car for a more snow-friendly model.

It feels like the year has gone by so fast. It’s been getting dark really early now – the sun sets at 4:30pm! We’re definitely getting into stew and soup weather. James has been working longer than usual hours in the ramp-up to Christmas. Oh, and he got promoted to team lead. =) He’s also been doing a lot of interview loops to try and get priority for international recruiting trips (goal: Australia!)

We’ve both been super busy and I’m sure it’s just going to get even more jam-packed when snowboard season starts. Who am I kidding – it’s going to start this weekend once the PS4 arrives. =)

 

More Adventures in San Francisco! (PS: You MUST Eat at Lazy Bear)

5 Oct

Sorry for abandoning the blog! James and I went to San Francisco and I got sick as soon as we got back. =( But I’m feeling a bit better now – well enough to do a fun run tomorrow? Still undecided! But anyway, James had to meet with some people at the Amazon SF office and since his hotel room was already paid for I decided to tag along.

Day 1

We dropped our stuff off at the hotel and had brunch at Brenda’s, which was a 15 minute walk. Unfortunately it was right through the Tenderloin, which is probably the sketchiest area I’ve ever walked through. There was literal human shit on the footpath and the streets smelled like wee. Also on every stretch of street were people dealing crack, shooting up and begging for money. There isn’t anywhere in Melbourne or Seattle that even remotely compares, so that was a bit of a shock.

And then we turned the corner and saw Brenda’s, where people were clustered outside waiting for a seat.

“Man,” I thought. “This better be good.” We entered, put our names on the list and went outside to wait.

It was maybe a 10-15 minute wait, which wasn’t too bad. We ordered a flight of beignets: plain, chocolate, apple/cinnamon and crayfish ($9.50). James’ favourite was the apple/cinnamon and mine was the crayfish. They were excellent: crispy, light as air and super filling.

The rest of the meal suffered a little in comparison. James had the po’boy (it was a special of the day – I think around $11?):

He said the first few bites were really good but then it was a bit much for him.

The po’boy was more interesting than my Hometown Fry: fried oyster, bacon and scallion scramble with hash and biscuit ($11)

I think I keep trying to like fried oysters but I don’t. =( Plus I was already really full – I had to triage and abandon the hash and biscuit. If I come back I think I’d get the crawfish beignets and some fried chicken. With some more beignets to take home. =D

Even though I didn’t super love my meal I think quality-wise it blows away any breakfast I’ve had in Seattle. If Brenda’s were in Seattle there would be hour-long lines for it. Those freaking beignets still haunt my dreams …

But anyway afterwards we still had a lot of time to kill before our hotel room was ready so we took the bus to Presidio and visited the yoda statue. He’s life-sized and comes with a miniature-sized James head.

We randomly walked around the waterfront area which was beautiful on such a clear day, especially with this view of the Golden Gate bridge.

There were lots of people jogging and if we’d planned it in advance we could have brought our running gear. James tried to do some l-sits:

And that was enough exercise for the day. =P

We got back to the hotel just in time to check in and decompress before Bo and Christine took us to Sausalito, which isn’t too far from San Francisco but is this affluent, touristy seaside area. It seriously could not have been more picturebook charming if it tried: there was even a guy at the waterfront making these zen rock sculptures:

He didn’t use any adhesives – it took him ages to stack a single rock (you can see him behind that last sculpture on the right).

Then we headed to the Mission, where we wandered around, visited Dolores Park (which was the best park ever, though the lack of pot-smell made me Seattle-wistful) and basically bummed around until our reservation at Lazy Bear.

OMG Lazy Bear.

Seriously, if you live in SF you need to enter the lottery for their dinner because it is incredible – one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Lazy Bear is an underground restaurant that only seats like 50 people a night (for a 3.5 hour dinner! Oh my!), and instead of allocating seats on a first come first served basis, they hold a lottery. I was sooo stoked that I got in on my first try!

The dinner is held at a constantly-changing location. This was ours:

Pretty much everyone would arrive at the door, poke their head in, look confused and ask their party “is this the place?”, then tentatively step in. Which is exactly what we did too. =P

The dining set up was two long banquet tables. We got there early, so chose prime positions at the end of the table:

And each table setting came with a menu:

Our menu:

Snacks (there were 3 or 4 large snacks but they weren’t listed on the menu – one was scrambled eggs made with bacon fat that was whipped into this light-as-air foam, another was a kind of tomato jelly with basil, another was a cronut – croissant/donut – I have a feeling there was another one but it’s not coming to mind)

Cauliflower smoked char roe, shin li pear, chrysanthemum

Matsutake abalone, pine nut agnolotti, matsutake broth

Octopus saffron, mussels, chorizo, mint

Hot Chicken pickles, little gems, potato salad

Veal Short Loin butter beans, kale, apple mostarda

Concord Grape creme fraiche, cucumber, dill, celery

Treats (a beard papa-like custard pastry, a little square of strawberry jelly and sous vide cookie dough)

I’m so sorry I don’t have photos but the lighting was no good. I was hoping they’d upload photos to the website but they haven’t – if I’d known I would have taken my crappy photos anyway. =( Because look at the other photos of their food! God, it’s like food art.

Everything was so interesting, and obviously so much thought had been put into every part of the meal. It was just light-years away from what you could make yourself at home. Honestly for $95 + tip it was a screaming good deal.

Each bite was like a party in my mouth that I never wanted to end – it was like “oh! This is what beans are supposed to taste like!” and there were flavour combos that I would never have thought of but were so amazing (grapes and pickles? Who would have thought!). Everyone brought their own booze and there was no corkage fee. Outstanding.

You could also go into the kitchen and ask questions.

Before every dish the head chef would come out and tell us about what inspired him, which made it into much more of an experience than a meal. Which I know sounds super wanky, but normally James doesn’t go in for this kind of thing and even he thought it was incredible.

It was also funny cos the chef was clearly getting progressively drunker as the night went on. =D But before we left he still came over and chatted with us, asking what our favourite and least favourite dishes were. It was hard not to gush. I gushed. =(

We had some amazing meals this trip but Lazy Bear was by far the highlight. If you live in San Francisco and love food there is NO EXCUSE for not trying this amazing restaurant. Do it. DO IT NOW.

I’m so jealous of you. =(