My First Encounter with Dragon Fruit

Hurricane Irene turned out to be a bit of a disappointment in my area — not that I’m complaining. After a night of lots of water and wind, I woke up to find that my power didn’t even go off.

Driving to the market to survey the damage (of which, there was little) and pick up some fruit, I spotted something that looked like an alien egg. The sign above it clarified that it wasn’t an egg, but something called dragon fruit. Intrigued, I bought one, brought it home, and chopped it up. More »

Swan Oyster Depot

With classes done and work winding down, I took some vacation time and we went to San Francisco last week.

Settled at the bottom of Nob Hill is a fairly nondescript restaurant. Decorated in various fish paraphernalia reminiscent of an old-school barber shop, its more bar than restaurant. At the entrance is a window full of fresh fish, shrimp, prawns, and other sea life, enticing passersby to stand in the line and wait for an open seat. Over the counter is a faded black and white photograph depicting the restaurant some time in the past — one thing that struck me about the picture is that the stools are the exact same as back then, though a little battered with time.

Once two spots cleared, we took our seats and ordered a combination salad and a cup of clam chowder. Construction of the combination salad started with a bed of fresh lettuce on top of which rested a row of coin sized shrimp. Next came the Louie sauce, and the prawns on top of that. They were unfortunately out of crab that day, so instead we were given a little smoked salmon and tuna. It’s such a simple dish, yet the freshness of the seafood combined with the the rich and creamy Louie sauce and the slight crunch of the lettuce just blew me away. Amazing. Then there was the clam chowder, which was honestly the best I’ve ever had. The clam flavor was always present, but never overpowering and made it quite delicious.

If you ever find yourself in San Francisco, do yourself a favor and check this place out.

Our Final Dinner (of 2009)

2009 went out with a bang.

Above was our final dinner for 2009: split-pea soup, tenderloin steak, broccoli, and tomatoes. I’m no chef. Yet our dinner banter led us to critique the meal as if we were in a restaurant; and oh was it painful. The soup wasn’t smooth — mostly because I got impatient waiting for the peas to completely soften since they’d been on the stove for over an hour. The steak was dry — a rookie mistake to be sure, but in my defense I haven’t cooked steak in a long time. And the broccoli and tomatoes were just an afterthought — the broccoli itself was just steamed and pretty boring, and the tomatoes were raw, again, because of impatience and wanting to eat. Yet if you throw a little parmesan and garnish around, all of it doesn’t look half bad. In conclusion, while this was a totally edible meal, I don’t think I could cut it as a chef.

The wine was a Malbec. We’ve had an interesting relationship with Malbecs. The first time we tried one, it had these wonderful fruity notes of strawberry and raspberry. Ever since then it’s been a search for another Malbec that could do the same. 3 or 4 bottles later and nothing has come close — the one pictured was no different. Uninspiring is a good word for it. It wasn’t bad wine, per say, it just wasn’t anything like our first.

For dessert, a fruit tart. I didn’t arrange the fruit, I just cut and washed everything earlier so that we could put it together, together. This is dessert in its simplest form; a ready-made pie crust, cool-whip, fruit, and a lemon glaze from the New York Times. Unfortunately, cutting the tart proved difficult due to the fact that the crust was pretty cheap and crumbled on us. Regardless, the crumbled mixture of fruit, cool-whip, and graham cracker crust, while not pretty on our individual plates, was tasty.


Went to the mall this evening with Linda and stopped by Yogiberry to try some shaved ice. As you can see from the picture, the thing was massive, it’s as big as her head! At $7.50, it’s a little expensive, but a lot better than getting two small yogurts. Plus, look at how much fruit they piled on this thing; they even put some in a little bowl since it wouldn’t all fit. We were confused by the whole “shaved ice” bit though. They put some crushed ice and milk at the bottom. When I heard shaved ice, I imagined something more snow-like and not jagged pieces of ice. It was akin to the sno-cones that ice cream trucks sell — something I was never a fan of. Regardless, the yogurt and fruit compensated for the awkward milky ice at the bottom.

The pic itself was from my semi-new (read, refurbished) phone, a Motorola W385. Not the fanciest thing in the world, but I was able to link it to my computer via bluetooth, so I’m pretty happy.

Foster’s Market

Whenever I visit Linda in Durham, Foster’s Market is our go to place for brunch. Our usual plan is for one of us to get the omelet special, the other to get the chef’s special, and then split them so we each get a little of both dishes. Whenever I visit, which is about every 2-4 weeks, the specials are always different, so I’m not too sure how often they change, but it’s at least bi-weekly. While I prefer to split the omelet and chef’s special, sometimes it can be a bit much, so we replace one of the specials with a salmon bagel, which is really good too. This past weekend, we did just this and split the chef’s special and a salmon bagel. The special was a sweet potato hash with ham and fried eggs, a great country meal. I never get tired of their hash, as it’s always different every time I get it. They also do grits really wonderfully too.

I do feel a little sorry for the staff when they’re busy. Their service is a little different in that you order at a counter and leave them your name, and you go off and find a seat. Once your order is ready, the staff bring it out and call out your name so you can flag them down. The worst is when they’re busy and they have to search both inside and outside for the person — you can sometimes hear the desperation growing in their voice as they call out over all the people.

Four Square Restaurant

Linda and I went to Four Square Restaurant in Durham this past weekend. It’s a nice little restaurant in a house built in the early 1900s. I started with a tuna risotto — which seemed to be a spur of the moment dish since it wasn’t on the menu — and had a bison short rib as my entree. She started with a mushroom soup and had Ahi tuna as an entree. All four dishes were very tasty, especially the tuna, seen in the picture. Cooked to medium rare, it had a wonderful dry rub crust. The short rib I ordered was very good as well. I was surprised by the avocado, jicama, and fava bean salsa, thinking it would overpower the other parts, but the salsa had a mild and pleasant sweetness that went well with the meat and black beans. Overall, it was an excellent food experience.