You can now find my foodventures at www.hungrybeluga.com! This site will now be redirected there.
It’s obvious that I love food, but my three brief days in Paris (way back in May) made me realize how extraordinary food truly is. It unites people - families gather around a meal and the French can socialize over dinner for hours on end. It triggers forgotten memories - the taste of a simple madeleine brings Proust back to his childhood (and enough memories to fill up seven volumes). And above all, it evokes endless emotion - I may have once joyfully cried over a BTB grilled chicken quesadilla at 2 AM…
Anyways, the moral of the story before I start sounding like Proust himself: food is awesome.
La Bourse ou La Vie (roughly translates to a thought-provoking “Your money or your life”)
After missing the Eurostar since my train from Edinburgh broke down, I was excited to sit down for my first meal in Paris. One of my mom’s many guidebooks recommended this tiny, whimsical bistro for its steak frites.
Steak au poivre (with pepper sauce) et frites. Fries in France are infinitely better because they are fried in beef fat!
The most expensive plate of scallops and mashed potatoes I’ve ever had. Excluding the mashed potatoes, one scallop was 5 euros. Before I could declare it a rip-off, it was an exceedingly delicious plate of fresh, pan-seared St. Jacques scallops and rich mashed potatoes.
Salted ham with lentils - a rustic French comfort dish. I’m usually not a big fan of lentils, but they were addicting with the extremely savory and tender pork.
Steak tartare. I like to call it a raw hamburger patty, but the beef is much higher-quality. It was served with capers, onions, and raw egg. I really don’t see why people like to eat this. It’s bland compared to a grilled steak and too heavy. Nevertheless, my dad’s a brave man.
Battle of the Tea Houses: Angelina vs. Laduree
We were lucky to make it to both prominent Parisian tea houses/cafes. I was curious to see what made them so successful after almost a century of existence.
Cafe Angelina at Versailles.
Angelina is famous for its decadent “African” hot chocolate, which literally tastes like a melted dark chocolate bar. It was almost impossible to finish the entire cup because it was THAT heavy.
Angelina’s infamous Mont-Blanc - heaven in my mouth. The chestnut puree mixed with the whpped cream and meringue base slowly melted away in mouth, leaving nothing but happiness. My entire family fell in love with this dessert, even my notoriously picky grandmother.
Strawberry creme brulee.
Passionfruit eclair off their Asian-inspired menu.
Dark chocolate tart. French desserts aren’t as cloyingly sweet as American ones, but they are extremely dense and rich. We had to skip lunch that day.
The flagship Laduree on the Champs-Elysee with typical Asian tourist (not associated with my family) in front.
We weren’t actually allowed to take pictures inside, but I managed to snap a quick one of this macaron tower. Since the cafe was full, we decided to get “take out.” It was like I was Charlie at Willy Wonka’s Factory. There were rows and rows of multi-colored macarons, pastries, and breads. Even the girls who work at Laduree are cute and speak in soft, lilting accents.
The macarons. Nothing bad to say except that they were a slightly too sweet. My favorite flavor was coffee.
Intermission - some non-food related pictures
The best and most secluded part of Versailles: Marie Antoinette’s Hameau. When I’m a billionaire, I’m going to recreate my own 18th century French-inspired farm with cows (for steak) and pigs (for bacon.)
Notre Dame - breeding ground for tourists.
Where the Grail is buried. Obviously.
Move aside, Mona. We all thought this was the most intriguing painting in the Louvre. Wikipedia offers an interesting explanation.
View of the Eiffel Tower from the Seine river cruise.
View of Paris on a sleepy Sunday from the Eiffel Tower.
Napoleon’s tomb in Les Invalides. Such a big sarcophagus for a pile of ashes.
Sacre Coeur in Montmartre, which was literally a pit of sweaty bodies. I caught Will and the People busking on the streets. My mom developed a slight crush.
One of the coolest things I discovered: PointWC - a luxury “public” restroom (only the French could come up with this). You pay one euro to use the bathroom, but you get your own stall cleaned by rather attractive male attendants and you get to wipe your junk with lightly perfumed, colored toilet paper. Very nice.
Last but not least, my utterly-crap picture of the Arc d’Triomphe. It was a lot bigger than I expected!
Au Chien Qui Fume
Founded in 1740, this place calls itself a traditional French bistro. The problem, though, is after all these years of publicity, it’s become more of a tourist attraction. They even give you a postcard with the check.
Lots of yummy seafood on display.
These were salmon quenelles, which are like meatballs of some creamed protein. It was light like dried tofu, served in this delicate creamy langoustine broth.
Duck terrine. So beautiful. The jelly looks like quartz.
Escargot. I’ve never seen anyone serve it like this before, like a thick soup.
Stalker shot of a seafood platter.
My mouth is watering from looking at and remembering this duck confit. It was so savory. You can tell they really don’t skimp on salt and butter in France.
Who is this goof? Don’t know him, but his lamb popsicles look yummy.
A brasserie in Montmartre
This was at a random brasserie we stopped at in Montmartre. Brasserie means “brewery” in French. They usually serve a variety of alcohol and a set menu everyday. I love how the French eat outside. Awesome for people-watching and soaking in the city (and beautifying your food pictures!).
Beef carpaccio. The perfect way to whet your appetite. It’s light and refreshing. The thin slices of beef leave you craving more.
Hey, it’s French onion soup in France!
salad appetizer of foie gras and proscuitto.
More buttery and garlicky escargot.
Grilled swordfish with mashed sweet potatoes.
The guy next to us ordered creme brulee and it actually came out on fire. The Danish couple the other table over was entranced too. Funny thing is that this dessert brought all of us together and we chatted about the deteriorating state of the US for a while…
Thus concludes my whirlwind trip in Paris. Honestly, I think the City of Lights is a bit overrated. It’s beautiful and history permeates everything, but food (and everything else) is overly expensive, everything seems to be a tourist trap, and everyone hates you if you’re American.
A month ago, I had the opportunity to try out Mani Osteria, the latest Italian spot in A2 (which is the 16th geekiest city in the US!). I always want to call it Mani Oresteia… Still can’t get Great Books out of my life.
We were seated at a long table in a more secluded section of the restaurant. I really dug the minimal decor and open, lively atmosphere. Usually I don’t care too much, but it puts me in a good mood when I see other diners enjoying their food.
Instead of serving bread, they had complimentary sesame flatbread with a white bean hummus and some fancy olive oil. It was tasty, but seriously - we had a table of six and they literally gave us four pieces. What.
This was the charred octopus antipasti. It was as good as it looks! I loved the burnt smokiness, lightened by touches of lemon and vinaigrette. I just wish there were more than a total of six bites… priced at $12.
HAHAHAHA… Everhard’s pizza with burrata (mozzarella & cream), garlic spinach, and balsamic onions. I like how they recycle crushed tomato cans to use as pizza stands. Brownie points for creativity/sustainability.
Thomas got the only pasta dish out of all of us. They come in half and full portions. Yes, this was the full portion of pappardelle in bolognese sauce. If I remember correctly, he enjoyed it very much.
Jimmy and I split the The A^2, which was topped with anchovies, asparagus, and egg. In the picture, he is spreading the runny egg yolk. One of the best pizzas I’ve had in Michigan; it’s up there with Supino’s. The most important part of a good pizza -the crust- was so fluffy. It was like I was eating clouds. The toppings were also very fresh. The anchovies were super salty, just the way I like it.
This was the episode that triggered pizza-making with five eggs.
TG’s saliva-inducing proscuitto and fig salad. It had actual figs in it, not the dried kind!
Another one off The Quest. Overall, I really liked the food and atmosphere of the place. I like how we were encouraged to share dishes family-style. Our waiter was also very friendly and helpful with the menu. He gave excellent recommendations. However, the place is a misnomer. Osterias in Italy are known as cheap places with good food. THIS WAS NOT CHEAP (for the college budgeted), especially given the portion sizes. I mean it’s a good thing if you’re on a diet and portion-controlling, but otherwise, save this place for a special occasion.
A quick post about my venture to the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market this morning. Light drizzle and a half broken bike did not deter me!
My booty. The stuff in the brown bags are peaches and blueberries. Favorite items: a watermelon that comfortably fits in the palm of my hand…
and a pound of Michigan bacon. (This was technically from Sparrow, but whatever.)
My localvorous lunch: BLOT (Michigan Bacon, romaine Lettuce, red Onions, and heirloom Tomatoes) with a whole wheat baguette from Cafe Japon. Made a salad with sweet peppers, cucumbers, red onions, and a splash of rice vinegar. You can really tell the difference in quality between local and generic produce, especially with the tomatoes and peppers.
I just wish the market had a disclaimer after I spent all my cash in 15 minutes: “Buying local isn’t cheap.”
Fun (probably unsurprising) fact: there are more pictures of food on my phone than on my camera. And I just got my phone a month ago… I need to relief my SD card of all these jpgs, so here goes.
My cellphone pictures are a better indicator of what I eat on a daily basis. Contrary to my mom’s belief, I do not eat out everyday!
I went through a bagel phase in June. I think this was an everything bagel with fried egg, hummus, swiss, red bell pepper, and every other accoutrement I could find in my fridge.
My Korean phase will never end. It actually took me a while to figure out where I had this bibimbop, but the red tray heavily suggests University Cafe?
I made this a while ago when it was still cool enough to cook in my closet-sized kitchen: Cornmeal and cayenne crusted tilapia with some salsa/pico de gallo I threw together.
I call this my bibimbop salad since all the ingredients are separated, but it’s more of a Nicoise with the tuna and egg.
If you are looking to avoid the grease of No Thai and the bustle of downtown, try out Tuptim on Washtenaw. It’s quiet, homey, and serves really fragrant jasmine rice.
Improvised s’more from leftover Easter candy: Reese’s cup and a Peep with third degree burns.
Sunday morning frittata! One of the easiest things to make ever. You crack some eggs and throw in whatever leftovers you have.
Late one Monday evening/early one Tuesday morning, we decided to emulate our favorite Youtubers: Epic Meal Time.
It’s hard to see what this is. Bacon-wrapped turkey meatballs slathered in tomato sauce and topped generously with cheese, peppers, and mushrooms. This was amazing for an impromptu dish.
Pork chops in pancake batter. It’s a good thing drunk tastebuds can’t really discern anything.
We ate it all.
I started a little herb garden with basil and parsley. (I am praying that it survived the thunderstorm last night.)
The first basil harvest went into and topped my vegetable lasagna.
Another batch of basil went into my raspberry-basil mojitos. Meijer ran out of mint, so I improvised a bit on my toes. Muddle small handful of raspberries and basil leaves with ~2 tsp. sugar and lime juice. Add 1.5 oz rum, ice, and a splash of club soda. Proceed to be a responsible adult.
Quickly assembled pesto pasta salad with rosemary ham, mozzarella cubes, artichoke, cherry tomatoes and a random hard-boiled egg I found in my fridge.
So many leftovers after the July 4th grill-out…
The heat really didn’t faze me that day. Making risotto involves constant stirring for half and hour… I was craving something tangy and not too rich, so I made a tomato sauce-based risotto.
And because it wasn’t hot enough that day. I stuffed my risotto into a bell pepper and roasted it with lotsssss of cheese. GLORIOUS.
More “Korean-American” food at Kosmo in Kerrytown. They offer a very non-traditional bibimbop and twigim.
Another BFFL lunch in Kerrytown: Monahan’s Seafood Market. Although a little messy to eat, my Vietnamese salmon baguette with slaw and sriracha was delicious.
Pizza making with Jimmy. I used Pioneer Woman’s dough recipe, which I think is a little too dense. I want fluffy! The closest pizza had kale, tomatoes, mushrooms, mozzarella, and five eggs…
Other pizza had caramelized onion, speck, ricotta, and a sprinkle of balsamic vinaigrette and basil (from the balcony garden, of course.)
Afternoon Delight is my weakness. I can’t resist going there for weekend brunch. Their frozen yogurt reminds me of TCBY’s, which sadly closed all of its stores in my hometown a while ago… And I’m a sucker for all the fresh fruit, corned beef hash, seafood omelettes, and the best cornbread in town.
Mango kulfi (“Indian ice cream”) at Madras Masala. It’s really similar to frozen custard, not as airy as ice cream.
One redeeming quality of Art Fair, except this ran me $6.
And because I’m a bully/know that someone out there loves Sean Roney, here you go!
Too much work = no time for cooking = excessive eating out and a backup of pictures from weeks ago.
I took my Conversation Circle to Top of the Park. My ulterior motive: Frita Batidos tent. I’m bad.
Pulled pork with tropical slaw on a brioche bun. It was tasty, but am still debating whether it was worth the $7.
My first time at Jerusalem Garden! I wish all the obnoxious construction on 5th would just stop, so more people wouldn’t overlook this place. It’s there behind all the cement trucks and caution tape!
I liked their terrace because 1) it could seat more than 3 tables 2) service wasn’t slow and 3) every chance you can bask in hospitable Michigan weather is great. (And nice face, Kathleen.)
Kafta kabob plate with baba ghanoush. My favorite was the side of mjaddara (brown rice with lentils and caramelized onions). I’ve never had it before, so I was pleasantly surprised by the sweetness of the onions. I think this might be my new way to make brown rice taste somewhat decent.
My combo plate also came with a side of refreshing fattoush salad. The food + the outside seating were definitely well worth $10.50.
Mira and Kathleen got sandwiches, which were also a good deal for the portion. They were around $5-$6. Overall, we had a really good time there. We’ll be back soon!
I’ve been a zealous lab fangirl since its opening day. I have mentioned it a couple times on here…
I take everyone here for frozen yogurt, which I swear is the best in town. It’s creamy, not overbearingly sweet, is flavored naturally, and doesn’t melt in 3 seconds. Coconut is my new favorite flavor! Oh, and they have some pretty good coffee and tea.
After many failed attempts, I finally got to go to Mark’s Carts. It’s a pretty recent & exciting addition to the Ann Arbor food scene, having opened in late April/May. They have an assortment of carts with each specializing in a different type of cuisine: vegan, Spanish, local, Asian fusion, etc.
The courtyard off Washington, while small, is adorable.
The menu at Darcy’s, which prides itself for being “electic and local.” I would say it’s a deserving tagline.
The carnitas and grilled whitefish tacos. If food as good as this can come from a 8 sq. foot cart, why do we even need restaurants?
Vishan got this meat-heavy paella from Debajo del Sol. It actually tasted really similar to this Chinese rice dish that my mom makes with lots of soysauce, napa, and Chinese sausage…
There is also live jazz music on Friday evenings!
Hands down, the Lunch Room has the coolest cart.
I only had room left for dessert, so I split the fruit & coconut milk smoothie, chocolate cashew truffles, and a Mexican hot chocolate cookie. The cookie was definitely the most interesting. It had a lasting spicy kick to it - unlike any other sweet I’ve had.
Made a quick stop at the Bacon Fair hosted by Zingerman’s and sampled every free piece of bacon. This is why I can’t go vegetarian.
Family dinner at Marnee Thai. I’ve been starting to use Yelp’s Check In since I got this dandy smartphone. While it’s probably a nuisance for my online friends (much apologies, by the way), some places offer deals when you check in. Marnee Thai actually didn’t know they had an offer up for free drinks… Nonetheless, we made sure to take full advantage of it: Thai iced coffee, mango juice, Thai iced tea, and lime soda. Jimmy’s panda is pleased; the server was not.
I tried to branch out from my usual curry or noodle dish with Lotus Eggplant - tempura eggplant with pork and bell peppers. Don’t know how “authentic” Thai it was, but the spicy pork and the sauce reminded me of Ma Po Tofu, which is a good thing.
Since I work so close to Kerrytown, I use it as an excuse to eat out for lunch. I wish I could get comped meals all the time… Finally got to go to Monahan’s Seafood Market!
I got the lunch special: Vietnamese salmon sandwich with slaw and a Cafe Japon baguette. The flavor was elevated with a squeeze of sriracha. It got very messy to eat.
Monahan’s salmon burger - the antithesis of the U-M dining hall “salmon patty.” My only complaint would be that the drinking water was fishy! It tasted like they defrosted the ice that the fish were kept on.
Sushi Town - my favorite place to get quick, cheap, and fresh sushi! The old Japanese couple here are the nicest and cutest!
Jimmy Neutron is so pensive when he dines.
Boyroney came back for thirds. This is for the reader who keeps searching Sean Roney :) Google Analytics knows all…
Spicy maki combo.
Tuna, salmon, california.
And finally, I am up-to-date to this morning when I ventured back to Selma Cafe. I wrote about my first visit back in rainy April.
It took a considerable amount of effort (which involved banging on windows) to get a group to go there. No one seems to want to wake up before 10 to grab the best plate of breakfast around.
The team from Grange Restaurant was in charge of the menu this week. This was one of the specials: johnnycakes with raspberry butter, bacon, and salad. Fairly simple, but the flavors were bold and satisfying.
Underneath the fried egg lay the treasure. Treasure as in shredded duck confit with a duck fat gravy served over pan-fried potatoes. Tastiest poutine ever?
Interesting loose-leaf tea brewing thingamabob/contraption.
Cool thing about Selma is that even after you finish eating, you can chill and chat for however long you wish afterwards.
There was this entrepreneur (not Jimmy Neutron) in the living room, showcasing these ceramic speakers that he invented. To be honest, he was the worst part of my collective Selma experience. Ungrateful, arrogant prick.
The thug himself is afraid of cats.
What to do on a lazy summer evening when you are in the mood for some epic eating?
Order ribs from Ron’s Roadside BBQ (formerly known as Romanoff’s)! That’s a mandate actually because it’s life-changing. Your cholesterol levels will never be the same.
I had never heard of it until an Ann Arbor native told me about it. Sanks, Rohin! It seems like the place has been around for a long time, but it’s kind of off the beaten path.
The goods: five full slabs of ribs (+ half gallon mac ‘n cheese + rolls).
These are the most tender ribs I’ve ever had. They are literally fall-off-the-bone. It was a struggle serving them without having them fall apart, so we used a gargantuan spatula/fly swatter to scoop them up. The sauce-to-meat ratio is perfect. However, the ribs don’t really have that smoky flavor you get when you properly smoke them slowly for a long time.
All the oily goodness. When it solidifies, it’s a bright orange…
Despite nine famished males and me, we still had leftovers. Impressive.
$10 food coma.
Last week was Ann Arbor Restaurant Week, which I tried my hardest to fully exploit.
What I hit up:
- Mahek lunch buffet. 2 for $12 - too good of a deal to refuse. I think I regurgitated some zucchini masala later that day…
- Vinology for lunch and dinner… on the same day. (I really like Vinology. I think it’s often overlooked because it sells the wine bar aspect more than its array of interesting dishes)
If it wasn’t for the generous slathering of hoisin sauce, the ground Peking duck burger would have been pretty bland. I also liked the addition of cabbage slaw, which reminded me of Chinese pickled cabbage. Sweet potato fries tasted as good as they looked - wish I had more!
Mira’s caprese burger - mozzarella and pesto.
Emily’s cute, petite gyro burgers (more like sliders) that were served on mini pitas.
The most interesting part of the meal: liquid nitrogen milkshakes!
Mira and Em both got the peach mango, which was more like a lassi. My chocolate peanut butter & jelly was like drinking liquified peanut butter. I think that was more filling than my burger.
Four hours later, I was back to conquer the dinner menu.
Thai spring roll. I like the accompaniment of the cucumber ribbon.
My new comfort “potage”: potato & leek.
Chicken wellington cooked sous-vide (according to Wiki, “a method of cooking food sealed in airtight plastic bags in a water bath for a long time.”) Honestly, it wasn’t very good. There might have been a hole in the bag? Also, the pastry reminded me of an over-fried egg roll. Wish there could have been more of that mushroom risotto!
An Asian(American?) take on surf & turf - shrimp tempura, braised beef rib, sushi rice, and a boatload of sauce.
Salmon cassoulet with white bean ragout, duck confit, smoked sausage, and lemon fennel remoulade
A shortcake deconstruction. The warm lavender biscuit was really dry. The white stuff was really interesting - it was like a meringue that melted in your mouth, but peach flavored!
Michigan cherry and rose ice cream + chocolate cake + white chocolate mousse = ice cream cake!
This was the dish that I was most excited for. Probably even the reason that I said yes to the dinner invitation to Vinology. Let me introduce you to the Aegean trifle. The ice cream is made from candied kalamata, which tasted really similar to toffee but had a bitter aftertaste. The sponge cake was made from sheep’s milk feta cheese. Other accessories were caramel and minted watermelon salsa (which could have been omitted). I think there was way too much stuff going on, but it was really interesting. If you can’t play with your food, you should at least eat playful food!
- Lunching outside at Sabor Latino (while attempting to work on The Quest)
Our overflowing table of plates and pinto beans.
Our combo plates came with a taco, enchilada, and quesadilla. SO GOOD. The chorizo quesadilla was my fave. The queso blanco was toasted and the chorizo was sooo greasy good.
- Classy dinner at The Quarter Bistro (another one off the Quest)
Yes, that is a giant garlic.
I was lame and got a salad. It had shrimp and crab though!
Everyone else’s beef brisket with hush puppies, beans, and coleslaw.
A decadent way to end the week: key lime pie.
The ultimate outcome: penniless and still hungry.