Irish Food

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I just came back from a whirlwind trip in Ireland, that in so many ways, has altered the way I see things. I don’t know what compelled me to pick up for two weeks and hang out in an idyllic sea of green, except maybe a rumor that the people were nice and a craving for some undisturbed time away from the cities.

Sometimes it’s best to do things without thinking.

In Ireland, we rented a little minivan and managed to get around driving on the other side of the street. (But huge thank you to Blacklane for arranging transporation from the airport to our first hotel in Dublin)

We ate heaps of soup, platters of smoked salmon, quite a bit of steak, and lots of brown soda bread. Whoever convinced me that Irish food was going to suck has a lot of explaining to do. It wasn’t just meat and potatoes.

The food scene was beautiful. Usually after vacation, my gut feels like crap, but Ireland had the opposite effect. I feel energized and fresh. Farm-to-table there isn’t just a ironic hipster trend. It’s a way of life, it’s more common than not. The Irish are proud of their beef. Seasonal produce is a normal. It’s not all that quite far off from American food — except there’s a greater emphasis on au naturel. Because that’s the way things should be…right? And yes, the even the beer tasted better because that stuff isn’t pasteurized to death over there.

Restaurant Highlights:

unnamed-1Ard Bia in Galway: Mediterranean Irish place located smack in the middle of an ancient wall. They have rotating lunch specials and we loved this place so much, we came back for seconds the day after.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetKai Restaurant in Galway: Adorable rustic Irish dinner spot. I really enjoyed the quinoa garlic cakes with baby beets and the John Dory crudo marinated with Dingle gin and paired with a couple chops of avocado.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetBallymaloe House in Cork: Farmhouse in the countryside. I want to live here. Or get married here. Or both. Ballymaeloe is a B&B/farm school/restaurant in the middle of the Irish country. This was most definitely one of the top highlights of the trip and I’m already scheming of ways to come back here.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetMorans Oyster Cottage near Galway: Wild and locally shucked oysters. Large but full of flavor and brine.

Anatomy of a City

 

When you visit a city, it’s large and prescribed. The places to go, the sights to see. Most of those are defined. You spend the days at a shops and museums and relics and castles and the famous restaurants and the popular laneways. It’s idyllic and temporary but oh – everyone seems so nice.

When you live in a city, it becomes small and confined. You develop your routine, your coffeeshop, your friends, your local watering hole. It’s work, sleep, and play — on repeat. And you long to go out to other cities to visit and be mesmerized. Occasionally you fall in love with your city again. A glimpse of affection, like that first time you visited it. But then the weather gets dreary or you get bogged down by routine. And it’s just a city with too many people and not enough time.

When you create a community and actively nourish it, the town will start to breathe. That’s where its heart lies. Not the beautiful cobblestone streets. Not the mesmerizing nightlife. But in the people. The people who don’t see the city as just a destination or a place to be — but a living, breathing entity that’s very much alive.

Ireland

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Ireland is a magical place where all the tales are true.
The friendly men and cheery lads
The pints of beer and buckets of sass
The people have heart
The hills have songs
The fiddles have legs and the accordion is strong
The pubs, the stores, the cobblestone streets — they all seem to be an appropriate tint of green.

Ireland’s a dream I don’t want to leave
It’s making me realize that to live is to be fully present in whatever and wherever you are.
And when you’re in front of vast, almost fluorescent fields of green and wild flowers and cliffs and sea
It’s hard to do anything
But be

April 17: Dumpling Partayy

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with comedian Jenny Yang & writer Clarissa Wei

Everything will be made by hand — dough included. You’ll learn how to make three different stuffings and how to create, knead and work the dough for the dumplings. This class is hosted by Foodstory.

on the menu:
dumplings 3-ways: pork, fish, vegan
scallion pancakes
kong xin cai (aka water spinach)
sweet and sour soup
dessert: pear soup with white fungus

date: april 17. 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm
price: $85
location: 810 S Spring St, Los Angeles, California 90014

>>> buy here <<<
directions: click on “pick a date,” click on april 17 and click “chinese dumpling party.” purchase from there. if you have questions, please email me at clarissapwei@gmail.com

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about jenny: jenny yang is a l.a. comedian and a star of a bunch of buzz feed videos. you might have seen her on their videos “if asians said the stuff white people say” and “ask an asian

about clarissa: clarissa wei is a chinese food writer in los angeles. she has a column on kcet and contributes regularly to la weekly, la times, first we feast, etc.

Best Find In Years: Caribbean Food From Classically Trained Chef

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Currico goat with plantains: a goat curry with plantains.

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Trinidadian doubles: a sandwich made with two flat breads filled with curried chickpeas.

Every now and then I make a really good find and think “HOLY CRAP HOW HAS NO ONE WRITTEN A STORY ON THIS?!?. Like with him and him and this.

This is another one of those rare instances. I met Stuart when a fan-turned-friend reached out to me and asked if I wanted to try something awesome. I rarely turn down good food, of course. As we ate our food and talked to Stuart, I assumed people had already covered it. After all, he’s a classically trained chef making finger lickin’ good Caribbean food out a frickin farmers’ market stand. It’s called Who’s Hungry Food Solution. 

Went home. Googled.

Nope.

And so I wrote about it for the LA Times. Read it here.

Republique

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My lovely friends surprised me tonight with an early birthday dinner to Republique — a touching treat on two notes: 1) People rarely take the lead on where to eat with me. This was an amazing and spot-on surprise. 2) I’ve been dying to try Republique.

The restaurant is quintessentially L.A.: long communal tables, shared plates, a rotating seasonal menu, complete with a gorgeous hall with skylights. We dined on uni on scrambled eggs on toast, sipped fizzy fruity cocktails, and dug our forks into crab-dusted pasta with preserved lemons and chilis and my personal favorite — an octopus salad with cabbage, pistachio, chili, and lime. And slowly, as with events such as these, the conversation progressed from “happy birthday” to “dude. what’s in this cocktail?!”

“So…how does 24 feel?” was the first question I got when dinner commenced (as it is customary to ask such questions at birthday celebrations).

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Content

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Today as I was doing work, typing away all I know about Japanese restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley, I noticed, for probably the first time ever (and I’ve lived in this house since I was 13), the outside of my window.

My room is on the second floor and it overlooks our backyard. There’s a pool and a frenzy of indecisive fruit trees. The sky is perpetually blue. The birds are consistent (much more so than our fruit trees) and god damn California is beautiful. Of course I knew this, but this time I really noticed it. Noticed it as in “wow there’s a nest on that tree.” Noticed it as in “the peach tree is blossoming now and whoa we have oranges!”

And that’s it. There’s no more to the story. I made no revelations or resolutions with this appreciation of the outdoors. This was not a turning point, but rather a simple observation of what’s outside.

And I think…that in itself is worth expressing: contentment, that is.

There’s a lack of this in daily life. Or at least, in my daily life. And I’ve been noticing it more and more. I noticed the other day when I was driving in my car with my friend.

“So how’s life?” he asked.

“Good,” I replied. I almost started off on another statement. Something along the lines of “Oh but I’m so exhausted with work.” “Dating is a pain in the ass” but then I stopped myself.

Because I’m doing a job that I love, even though it’s tiring (I mean, what job isn’t). And I’m much happier single than I was when I was with someone who could not fully accept my core.

Why then do I feel the need to turn everything into a complaint? When it comes to the deep, personal posts on here — the majority of them are reflections about the difficulties in my life. My relationship with church, my dating history, my grievances with certain folks or certain mentalities.

It isn’t a good story unless it has a struggle. I’ve been told.

Sure. But life doesn’t have to be a struggle. I’ve noticed in terms of social media updates and blogging, it’s a much more compelling post when we talk about what’s wrong. Drama makes life interesting, after all. And sympathy is a great conversation starter. Or perhaps, that’s the old school Taiwanese mentality in me — the state of mind that responds to everything complimentary with at least one self-deprecating comment.

And so dear readers, I have nothing to announce or complain about except that I like having nothing to complain about. Life is better this way.

I Went To Boba School

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When it opened in 2000, Lollicup, which began life as a single tea shop in the San Gabriel Valley, was one of the only boba shops in the United States. Then came the boba craze, during which the company expanded like, well, bubble tea. Today the company distributes 70% of all the boba in the U.S. and has nine shops in the greater Los Angeles area.

Last year, Lollicup upgraded to a 300,000-square-foot facility in Chino. Staffed with 175 employees, the company has a full manufacturing operation for disposable dining ware and a commercial kitchen used for training sessions.

“We call it boba school,” said Alan Yu, Lollicup’s cofounder.

Read more on the LA Times.

My Love/Hate Relationship With You All

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Guys. I love you. I love you a little bit too much. I love seeing my Facebook rack up with Likes and the little hearts on my Instagram feed. I love the slew of retweets and mentions and followers and favorites. It’s become addictive and intense and sometimes I hear a very conscious part of my being whispering while I scroll up and down: “Validate me. Validate me.”

This is the embarrassing truth.

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