(My) Introduction to Poke

This summer, I've started making poke, the Hawaiian salad of seafood. It's just the perfect dish when it's hot outside, and you don't want to turn on the stove. You just cut up the fish, and mix it with some onion, scallions, soy sauce, sesame oil... maybe some honey and citrus too, if you like.

And with just some salad, dinner is ready! (Oh, and it's paleo-friendly, grain-free, low-carb too, if you're into that sort of thing).

Here's an octopus kimchi poke I made. Octopus poke is super easy to make in Spain, because they sell bags of frozen sliced, cooked octopus. So you can keep a bag in the freezer, and just defrost, mix with the ingredients, and done!

But it wasn't until I came back to California this summer that I went to my. first. poke bar!!

I know! I felt like such a country bumpkin when I stood in front of the menu board bewildered by the myriad of options, not knowing what to choose. Even more of a country bumpkin when I told my cousin to go in front of me to order, telling her that I was a beginner at poke, and she looked at me in shock. Haha!

 

SF Eats: Dumpling Time

I came to Dumpling Time with mixed feelings.

On the one hand, I was super excited to try a dumpling place whose pictures I've seen posted on my friends' Facebook feeds for months now; on the other, I was apprehensive about the quality of Chinese food which is hipsterized, fusionized, and expensified - usually there's an inverse relation of the first with the last three variables.

On the one hand, I was excited that a dumpling place opened up in Potrero Hill; on the other, I was wistful that my old neighborhood was growing up and I wasn't around to be a part of these new developments.

So on the day of my departure back to Spain, I rushed to the restaurant to meet my sister, two large suitcases in tow in order to leave for the airport directly afterwards. The tables on the terrace aren't placed cheek to jowl, and we were lucky to score a corner table with even more space. The servers were friendly, and even engaged in some chit chat at the end about where I was going.

So how was the food?

San Diego Eats: Koon Thai

Thai is one of the cuisines that's kind of hard to find in Spain. Sure, there are "Thai" restaurants that are fast food joints where you choose the ingredients and sauce and the cooks stir fry everything together. Everything comes out tasting about the same despite your choice in sauce - sweet and very salty -, and are about as Thai as teriyaki chicken is Chinese.

A rare bird is a Thai restaurant that serves your typical green curry, massaman curry, etc. And pretty much nonexistent is any restaurant that goes beyond this selection.

So I was super excited to try Koon Thai on Convoy St., where I was introduced to a menu full of things I'd never encountered before, and where they warn you in advance that when you order mild, it is the equivalent of spicy at other joints!

Rolled Ice Cream: Tale of Two Cities

Thai rolled ice cream has taken the world by storm. No sooner than I read about the rolled ice cream stores popping up around California, than I see not one but THREE! rolled ice cream stores open up in Valencia, Spain.

Valencia! The city where kale is still newfangled.

Given the rapid pace of expansion, I wonder if rolled ice cream will be a trend that has the staying power of frozen yogurt and cupcakes, or will it be as fleeting as cronuts?

Coming in to San Diego, I had an extra-long layover at SFO, so I hopped into town and had dinner with the sister (burrito at Taqueria Cancun of course!), finished off with our first encounter with rolled ice cream at Steep Creamery & Tea in SOMA...

San Diego Eats: Shan Xi Magic Kitchen

San Diego has had a Sichuan restaurant boom, and now perhaps the city is eager for the "next" region of Chinese cuisine to fall in love with. Perhaps it is Shaanxi's turn? (By the way, this province 陕西, whose capitol is Xi'an, is often transliterated as Shaanxi, to differentiate it with 山西 province, which is also spelled Shanxi in pinyin). Last year we had a nice meal at Xi'an Kitchen, where we tried out several new (to us) dishes. That restaurant has since closed.

Shan Xi Magic Kitchen has opened up in the space of Great Wow, a dumpling place we also visited last year, when it was newly opened. There seems to be a lot of turnover in the San Diego restaurant scene! Anyway, the new restaurant seems to have put some thought into the interior arrangement and decoration, because now it has less of an open cafeteria feeling, with partitions giving individual tables more privacy...

VLC-FRA-SFO: Last trip on 747 upper deck!

Due to a snafu with United's online rebooking tool, I got to fly a final time on United's 747 upper deck, before they retire the 747 fleet.

I wanted to extend my trip back to California a couple days, and used united.com to make the change. The website is great for seeing all of the rebooking options, change fee, and fare difference. You can change origin, destination, and dates, and price out the implications of changing each variable. It's quite powerful.

I carefully selected only the return flight to change, leaving my outbound flight unchanged. I went all the way to the last step, clicked confirm change, and got an error message. I considered trying again, but saw that my credit card already had a pending charge, so called the reservations line.

To my shock, the reservations agent told me that I cancelled my outbound flight...