[Food] Christmas Eve Dinner 2013

I know that posts have been inconsistent due to finals and other business, but I promise, new content and perhaps a major website overhaul are in the works! Until then, my family and I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! Here are some photos of this year's annual Christmas Eve dinner. Pumpkin Soup

A pumpkin chestnut soup to start.

Tomato Arugula Salad

Tomato and arugula salad.

Filet Mignon

Filet mignon, kale and raw gruyere stuffed portobello mushroom, snow peas, and sweet potato hash.

Again, we wish you all a fantastic end to 2013. Merry Christmas!

[Food] Thanksgiving Dinner 2013

I hope that all of you had a fantastic Thanksgiving and partook in the gluttony that so commonly happens around this time of year. Here's just a short post sharing how my (big) family celebrated. Hope you enjoy, and happy holidays to you and yours! IMG_8684











How does your family celebrate Thanksgiving? Feel free to share!

[Food] The Crack Pie Collaboration

I recently did some work with my good friend Michelle over at à la Micho, creating the afauxgato (I oughta copyright that). This time around, we were joined by two of our other friends, Tong and Kai, and recreated the Crack Pie from Momofuku Milk Bar. Here are some photos from our adventures in baking! Ingredients


Oatmeal Cookie

Hands Cracking


Crust Press

Egg Drop



Filling Pour



Here's a nice behind the scenes shot. Check out the video over at à la Micho!

Behind the Scenes

[Photo] Adventures in Seattle

I feel like I'm always neglecting my blog and I feel absolutely terrible. Nonetheless, here is a long overdue post on my trip to Seattle this past summer. The moment I landed, I fell in love with this city. There's something so special about it that I can't quite put my finger on. Maybe it's because the weather was perfect while I was there (save for a gloomy day in the middle of my stay), but everything just felt right. The food was delicious, the coffee was amazing, and the people were so beautiful! I may just have left a little piece of my heart out there. Here are some photos from my trip, hope you enjoy!! IMG_4216


















IMG_4468 This is Willi, a baristo that I met at Victorla. This guy is super friendly and is obviously passionate about what he does. He also made me a mean gibraltar.









IMG_4618 I caught this guy celebrating the lack of a line at Paseo, a rare occasion.

IMG_4620 The holy grail of sandwiches, Paseo's Caribbean Roast.

IMG_4621 This thing is amazing and lived up to all the hype (everyone and their mother told me I had to try it) and then some. It's also quite a disaster to handle and quickly turns into a fork and knifer. You can't tell too well in the photo, but my vision was clouded by grease.

IMG_4623 The aftermath.



IMG_4448 I got a chance to see Shane and Shane play while I was there!

IMG_4829 Another gem, Uneeda Burger.

IMG_4826 I had forgotten that burgers could be exceptionally delicious. Then I met Uneeda Burger and was reminded that burgers can indeed be great.


IMG_4822 After striking up conversation with Willi at Victorla, he gave me a list of coffee spots to check out. Milstead & Co. was among them.

IMG_4819 Yep, another fantastic spot that totally fits the hipster coffee-camera lover in me.


Milstead Dipdych A fine cup of Aeropressed Bows and Arrows Guatamela Finca El Tambor to end the post.

Goodbye, Seattle! Until next time.

[Photo] Bolivia and Argentina Medical Missions 2013

Wow, I've been away for so long! Forgive me for my extended absence here. This summer, I took a two week trip to Bolivia and Argentina on a medical mission trip with an organization called 4 Christ Mission. A group of about 50 young adults/college students from all over the US and Latin America travelled with doctors and dentists to provide medical care and ultimately, just love the people of Bolivia and Argentina with the love of Christ. I went as a part of the media team and captured all the sights and sounds with my trusty 5D Mark II (still a very capable and rugged camera!). In Bolivia, we stayed mostly in Santa Cruz and the outskirts of the city, while in Argentina, we stayed around Iguazu Falls and Buenos Aires. I can go on and on about the trip with my words, but I'll let my photos speak for themselves (and perhaps, interject with captions for context and other pertinent information). Here is just a very small sampling of the photos I took while I was on the trip. Because of the amount of photos in this post, I've opted to go with a gallery layout. Enjoy!

[gallery ids="2081,2082,2083,2084,2085,2086,2087,2088,2089,2090,2091,2092,2093,2094,2095,2096,2097,2098,2101,2102,2099,2103,2105,2104,2106,2100,2150,2107,2138,2139,2110,2109,2080,2111,2151,2112,2113,2114,2140,2115,2120,2116,2117,2118,2119,2121,2122,2123,2152,2124,2125,2143,2141,2128,2153,2130,2129,2127,2131,2133,2132,2134,2135,2136,2137"]

[Food] TrueBurger

TrueBurger I had been hearing great things about TrueBurger. Some said it was basically Shake Shack on the West Coast. Though I've never tried Shake Shack, I hear great things about them as well. Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity to go to TrueBurger with some of my friends.

TrueBurger Storefront

We rolled into TrueBurger on a Saturday for lunch and it was packed! The crowd was a good sign. Surely, this had to be a great burger!

TrueBurger Menu

The prices on the menu scared me a bit. But I had just finished finals and was feeling pretty good. I decided to treat myself. I ordered a Cheesy Trueburger with griddled onions, an orange creamsicle shake, and got chili cheese fries to share with a friend.

TrueBurger Kitchen

The place had a very modern, hip feel to it with beautiful wooden counters and a long communal table. The clientele was a mix of everyone from the elderly to young hipsters talking about their newest bands and local, organic foods. TrueBurger definitely had the feel of a community hub that brings Oakland together.


Now, the moment of truth. Is this a burger that lives up to its price tag and all of the hype? We'll see. The burger was on the small side comparable to size. But how did it taste? Well, the challah bun was fantastic. It had a slight crunch from being toasted and was a tad bit chewy. The garlic aioli was delicious as well; garlicky is always good. But the burger itself, where was it? It got lost in the mix of everything. It was kind of like being at a concert with a really bad sound engineer. I couldn't taste the meat, which was disappointing to say the least. I thought I was eating a garlic aioli sandwich with grilled onions on really good bread.

The chili cheese fries were just so-so. The fries themselves were spot on, crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. However, I had my gripes with the chili. It had an odd sweetness to it...and it had beans. But I'm a stickler when it comes to chili. My opinions on chili are probably stronger than the average person. Most people seem to really enjoy them.

TrueBurger Shake

This orange creamsicle milkshake was the high point of the meal for me. Think about a liquified orange creamsicle. This took me back to my childhood and I loved every moment of it from the impossible-to-drink beginning to the melted down mess at the end. It was beautiful.

TrueBurger Pickles

Their pickles were surprisingly very, very good as well. They were fresh, crisp, and bright. Oh, and did I mention, free? Or at least these sliced pickles at the condiment bar are. I went back a few times to grab more. Don't forget to munch on these with your burger!

Overall, TrueBurger was good, not amazing. Would I ever go out of my way to eat here? Probably not. I'd honestly go to the ever consistent and delicious In-n-Out over TrueBurger any day. I could get a whole meal for the price of a Trueburger and thoroughly enjoy every bit of it - every time. If you are in the area, definitely check it out, maybe you'll have a better experience than me. Just don't forget to get a milkshake.

TrueBurger 146 Grand Ave Oakland, CA 94612 (510) 208-5678 www.trueburgeroakland.com

[Photo] Laundry Love April 2013

Laundry Love Berkeley Hug I've posted about Laundry Love Berkeley a couple times before, the first ever being in October 2011 and more recently, about their Cafe Night. I decided to take my camera with me again for their monthly event last night. Here are some photos I got. Prepare for lots of dog photos.

Laundry Love Berkeley

This is Michael. He's really awesome and he gives fantastic hugs, as seen above.

Laundry Love Berkeley

Laundry Love Berkeley Dogs

Laundry Love Berkeley Dogs

Laundry Love Berkeley Dogs

Laundry Love Berkeley

Laundry Love Berkeley Washing Machine

Laundry Love Berkeley

Laundry Love Berkeley Dogs

Laundry Love Berkeley Bike

Laundry Love Berkeley Dogs

Laundry Love Berkeley Dogs

Laundry Love Berkeley Jewelery

Laundry Love Berkeley Jewelery

Laundry Love Berkeley

Laundry Love Berkeley Dogs

Laundry Love Berkeley Dogs

Laundry Love Berkeley

This is Lizbeth and she loves her coffee, just like I do!

Laundry Love Berkeley

These are some amazing guys, Nathan, Kenny, and George. Kenny's story is pretty crazy, perhaps you'll hear about it here or on the Laundry Love blog some time!

Laundry Love Berkeley

[Food] Gregoire (or at least their Poutine)

Gregoire Poutine In my opinion, poutine should be a food group of its own. If you don't know what poutine is, it's a simple dish of fries, cheese curds, and brown gravy originating in Quebec. Though simple, it's ridiculously awesome. Poutine in its basic form is also often used as a blank canvas for a plethora of different toppings. In the September 2012 issue of Esquire, Chris Jones is quoted saying, "If bacon ate, bacon would eat poutine." Genius. Now that you know how much I love this Canadian export, you probably have an idea of why I went to Gregoire solely for their poutine.

Gregoire Berkeley

When one thinks of this quaint North Berkeley landmark, one thinks of potato puffs. Oh yes, those lightly crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside treats...a must have for sure. But for the month of February (oh dear, this post is late), they had poutine.

Gregoire Poutine

Upon seeing the poutine, the pretentious foodie in me cringed a tad bit. The fries were yellow. If you know a thing about poutine, you know that the fries are typically orangish-brown. Once I suppressed the monster that resides in me, I dug in. Pretty good. The fries were perfectly crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside (seems to be a winning combination for potato based foods). The gravy was salty and peppery, very reminiscent of KFC gravy. That's no insult either. Darn good. However, the cheese curds were a bit disappointing. They were crumbly rather than being solid with a "squeaky" tooth-feel. They also pretty bland. Overall, not bad. There's a sore lack of poutine stateside, so any poutine I can get my hands on is appreciated.

On a side note, the Empire Cola was fantastic. You get the great classic cola taste without all the sweetness.

Gregoire Potato Puffs

An obligatory photo of their legendary potato puffs. Seriously, you have to try these before you die.

Gregoire 2109 Cedar St Berkeley, CA 94709 (510) 883-1893 www.gregoirerestaurant.com

[People] Bob the Banjo Player

Bob Banjo 1 Today, I'm going to take a short break from the regular flow of posts and introduce a new category of posts - people! These posts will probably be rare, but I think it's a fun way to change things up.

This is Bob. I met Bob on Sproul Plaza one day while setting up for an event. It was hard to not notice him and his soulful banjo playing. Now, if you know me, you know that I'm not the type to strike up conversation with a random person on the street (or on Sproul plaza in this case), but I had a little nudging to go talk to him. If anything, I could pick up some tips on improving my banjo playing (yes I play some banjo). So, I walked up to him, listened for a while, then as he ended a song, I initiated conversation, albeit very awkwardly (do you sense the awkwardness with all these awkward commas? - awkward). Hoping to learn something new, I asked him what the secret to getting good at the banjo was.

Bob Banjo 2

Being the clever busker he was, he said he would tell me if I dropped a dollar in his cup adorned with reindeer in ugly Christmas sweaters. Being the frugal college student I am, I stopped and thought about the value of a dollar while he stared at me. Finally, I gave in - mind you, I work while going to school, I know a little bit about the value of money. As soon as the dollar dropped to the bottom of his cup, he said one word, "Practice." Initially, I was taken aback. Of course I knew that! He just stole my precious dollar! Seriously, anyone that's ever done anything knows that you need to practice to get half-way decent at what you do, be it sports, dance, or underwater basket weaving.

He must have seen the disappointment in my face because he said, "Okay, I'll say a little more," and talked about how to practice. Practice methodically and intentionally. Devote time to hone your craft. Know what to practice and when. Don't practice a ton in one sitting and take an extended break, be consistent. To be completely honest, I kind of knew this too. However, I appreciated his willingness to share his knowledge. And at the end of the day, it was a nice, much needed reminder.

Sometimes, we all forget that hard work and practice is what it takes. There are no short cuts in life (that don't cause you to feel like a terrible sinner and run you the risk of getting thrown in prison). I'll add on a little bit of my limited wisdom here. Practice doesn't make perfect, practice makes more of how you practice. Say you practice something wrong, you're just going to get worse. When you practice, do it right. Anywho, thank you, Bob, for your words of wisdom.

[Photo] A Weekend in the Mountains

Flower of the Fields This past weekend, I was up in the mountains playing the drums at the World Christian Conference. During my free time, I decided to do some photo exploration. All photos were shot on my new Sigma 35mm f/1.4. Boy, this lens is really something. The images it produces are simply beautiful. But this isn't a lens review, enjoy!

Tree Upskirt

Black and White Trees

Tree Bark


Wires in the Forest

Tree Stump

Horse Shoes


Looking into the Forest

Shed Dipdych

Do Not Enter

[Food] Sliver

Sliver Pizza There was once a little place in North Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto called The Cheese Board Collective. There, the cooperatively owned shop sold various cheeses, bread, and what they are probably best known for, pizza. However this wasn't your average Joe pizzeria. They specialized in one kind of pizza every day and cranked them out all day (or during their lunch and dinner services). And the pizzas were vegetarian. WHAT!? I know, "How can a vegetarian pizza place make any money?" Well, first of all, it's Berkeley (yay for stereotypes) and second, they were delicious.

Editor's Note: The past tense was only used for story telling effect, The Cheese Board Collective is still alive and kickin'.

Sliver Pizza

Now, a trio of former Cheese Board employees (owners? I'm not sure what the proper term would be here) left and set up shop in Downtown Berkeley. This new place is called Sliver. The first thing that anyone that's eaten at Cheese Board will pick up on are the obvious similarities between the two restaurants. Just like Cheese Board, Sliver makes the same style pizzas with the same practices - one vegetarian pizza a day (albeit, done damn well), at the same prices ($2.50 a slice, $10 for half a pie, and $20 for a whole), in the same weaved baskets or plain brown boxes, with similar salads, live music, and various other similarities. However, that's not a bad thing at all.

[Edit] And don't worry, Sliver also gives out half slices as lagniappes just like Cheese Board!

Think about it as getting two varieties of awesome pizzas to choose from and two locations. Actually, let's just stop comparing the two because that's what everyone will inevitably do on their first visit. Let's focus on Sliver and what makes them so great.

Sliver Pizza

First, the food. Please note, I'm an absolute sucker for pizzas with potatoes. When I saw that the day's pizza had roasted marble potatoes, pasilla chiles, yellow onions, mozzarella, Bulgarian feta, cilantro, Mexican key limes, garlic olive oil, I knew I had to take my virgin voyage to check it out. The pizza may seem loaded, but it was so well balanced. You get starchy potatoes, some slightly crunchy on the edge, sharp feta, and bright cilantro and limes that really make up the bulk of the flavor profile. Everything else plays a solid supporting role to create a symphony of amazing flavors.

Sliver Pizza Sauce

On top of all of that, you have this. They say it's a mild serrano hot sauce. I beg to differ. This still must be loaded with some addictive, possibly illegal substance. Upon trying it, I wanted to squeeze all over anything I ate. Heck, I would put this on white rice and enjoy it. On the front end, you get a super bright, slightly acidic hit with a smooth, subtle heat on the back end. This cut through the big flavors of the pizza while not being overpowering. I would honestly buy this still by the bottle...or gallon.

Sliver Pizza

A few things that Sliver has on Cheese Board (I know I said I would stop comparing the two, but I'm sorry) come in the form of their facility. Sliver has a spacious interior with plenty of seats and tables and a full (though a bit small) bar. I know a lot of people like to eat on the street median at Cheese Board, probably because they're all rebels, but sometimes, you just want to sit at a table and not have to fight for one.

Sliver Pizza

On top of all that, the Geechi Taylor Combo, a fantastic little jazz trio, was playing that night. Good food, good company, and good music. How can you go wrong with that, right?

Sliver is not just a pizzeria either, though they make an amazing pie. They stand for something bigger. They stand for the fight against human trafficking, one of the biggest injustices in our world today. Sliver donates a portion of their profits to organizations and works to spread awareness. Not to put a downer on this post, but according to the U.S. Department of State, there were 12.3 million slaves worldwide in 2010. If you would like to get involved in the fight, there are many organizations out there like the International Justice Mission (IJM) and Not for Sale just to name a couple.

I highly, highly suggest that you all go check out Sliver. I'm serious. Like really.

Sliver 2132 Center St Berkeley, CA 94704 (510) 356-4044 www.sliverpizzeria.com

[Food] Juice Detox

Juice Detox So, as most of you probably don't know, I recently concluded my week long juice detox. "Why the heck would you do that?" you may ask. To be healthy, of course! After 7 days of fresh vegetable and fruit juice, I feel great! This will just be a quick recap of my week away from one of my loves, food.

As with most things of this sort, starting was the hardest part. To be honest, the first three days were grueling. I was hungry and constantly thought about food; it was strange to not be chewing anything. The run I took on the first night was probably the hardest one I took in a while, I felt a complete lack of energy.

The above photo in the header shows what went into a typical meal. I mixed it up between meals and days. Other vegetables I juiced included broccoli, spinach, and bell peppers, among others. Your juices should be made up primarily of vegetables with just a little bit of fruit, usually apple. The apple does a fantastic job of sweetening up the juice and makes the whole detox bearable.

Juice Detox

About once a day, I would take a shot of garlic and ginger juice, cut with just a little bit of apple, and I chased it with my regular juice. That stuff is strong, but healthy. There's plenty of information out there on the specific benefits of different vegetables and fruits, so feel free to do some research.

As I progressed, my body became acclimated to the diet. I was no longer hungry between meals and because my body didn't have to spend energy breaking down food, lack of energy no longer became an issue. I had lost about a pound per day (but that's not the point of the detox, I'll come back to this later) and my blood pressure dropped, though it was normal to begin with. Other people I know that were on a juice diet (much more long term than mine) enjoyed various other health benefits.

Juice Detox Kale Macro

Before going into juicing, you should know that a short term detox like this will naturally cause weight loss. You're probably going to gain most of that weight back when you get back on food. Just don't do this with weight loss being your motivating factor. Also, you're not getting the full nutrients out of the vegetables. You're getting all the sugar water out of them, but missing out on the all important fibers. Don't think you're getting the full benefits of the vegetables this way. Nevertheless, a short detox like this is great every once in a while. Look into it for yourself and consider taking a week out of your year and doing it, but do consult your doctor if you have other serious health issues first.

[Food] Tacos El Gordo

Adobado Tacos Happy New Year, everyone! To start 2013 year off, here's a quick post on Tacos El Gordo. When in San Diego, you eat Mexican food. Seriously. When you're that close to the border, you could get some ridiculously good Mexican food without having to cross over. In fact, Tacos El Gordo came to the states from our southern neighbor.

Tacos El Gordo

The tacos at Tacos El Gordo are reminiscent of the tacos you get when eating on the streets of Mexico. There's a certain charm you don't get with the taco trucks in LA that you do get here (definitely not downplaying those tacos, they're delicious as well).

Adobado Tacos

These are the famous tacos de adobada, basically al pastor. They start with 2 corn tortillas, slice pork off the spit, cover it with onions and cilantro, then top it off with salsa and their creamy green sauce. In all my years of loving Mexican food, I've never really been able to figure out just what's in this thing. My guess would be a crema base with the possibilities of cilantro, tomatillo, lime, and/or avocado. Did I just name the major green elements of Mexican food? Probably.

The big corn flavor from the tortillas, meaty pork, and the sauces give the taco a huge flavor and the onions and cilantro cut through. Everything just works so well in this taco, but that crema sauce is what really makes it. It has a distinctive tang to it. Just writing about it makes me want to make a trip down. I do wish there was a sliver of pineapple on top. That would perfect this taco.

The lack of pineapple is not the only downside. The tacos are $2. Mind you, these are of the small street taco variety. Maybe I'm spoiled with tacos that range from $0.50 to $1, but $2 is a bit steep for what you get. Still, these things are great.

Oh, and for you first timers, the ordering system may be a bit confusing. You walk in past the cash registers, stand in the line for the respective meat you desire, get your food, then go back and pay for it. Usually there's a line for adobada and another line for everything else (asada, cabeza, lengua, etc.).

Next time you're by the border, stop by Tacos El Gordo. There are multiple locations, but this is their most popular one.

Tacos El Gordo 689 H St. Chula Vista, CA 91910 (619) 691-8848

[Food] Christmas Eve Dinner

Merry Christmas to you all! Here at our home, we don't mess around with food. This year, we had filet mignon, twice baked potatoes with bacon, creamed spinach, homemade onion rings, and a slice of my mother's sponge cake with a berry sauce and homemade whipped cream. Again, I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas! Christmas Eve Dinner

Christmas Eve Dinner

Christmas Eve Dinner

Christmas Eve Dinner Dessert