Sunday, July 29, 2012

Five Days at the Mall

Playing: Kids in the Street-The All American Rejects
Reading: Mr. Darcy Wikipedia Page
I've gone to South Coast Plaza five times in the last week, two of them with my brother, who is on the verge of killing me for forcing him to go to the mall so often. We decided to try AnQi, which has been called the best restaurant in Orange County by Orange Coast. The atmosphere and service were incredible. For instance, if you asked for water, they gave you refreshing cucumber water. Also, when asked where the bathroom was, they offered to escort you there. One waitress took this man's young son to the bathroom and even walked him back to the table that way the man didn't need to get up and could continue eating.
For our appetizer, we shared the Takuwan Roll with our mum. It's a basic roll with avocado, cucumber, carrot, daikon, and beet served on a bed of curry. I personally found it very refreshing and tasty, but considering, it's only veggies, it was too expensive for my liking. It was nice having a curry dipping sauce, though.
Whenever a restaurant has something they're known for, I always try that, so I ordered An's Famous Garlic Noodles with Beef. The beef was exceptional, but I found the noodles to only be average. It was extremely garlicky, which I liked a lot, but the noodles had a weird pasty texture as if the sauce had started to curdle or something. It really needed something like scallions to brighten up the whole dish. I also suggest making the sauce smoother. For me, this Californian-Vietnamese fusion restaurant could use some improvements and felt like it was a place for those unfamiliar with Asian cuisine to get a taste of it.
On another day, I went only with my mum that way I had a chance to look around, I came across this interesting display at Louis Vuitton for their collaboration with the Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama. I love how Marc Jacobs is constantly having Louis Vuitton do collaborations with different artists like Takashi Murakami and Stephen Sprouse. Personally, I think the Murakami collaboration was the most fun and I'm trying to get my hands on a bag from the collection still. There was another Kusama window display with tentacles and my mum was wondering if they were inflatable, so I calmly walked in and jabbed one of them with a finger, while the security guard was giving me odd looks. Fun times, huh?
Then on another day with my mum, I went shopping at Zara for some new clothes. This is my first time shopping and buying something at Zara, so I have to admit, I found Zara so stressful! The clothes were in piles and there were Asian women and Persian men fighting over clothes, so I only lasted 45 minutes in the store. I however did find (ANOTHER) black sweater for myself, but this has an interesting cutout on the back for only $19! Since the sweater was inexpensive, I didn't feel too guilty buying this white collared tank with metal details to layer under the black sweater. It's dressy, edgy, and casual all at the same time!
Ooh, and I fell in love with Alexander Wang's Anouck boots at Nordstrom on the fourth day! Only four Nordstroms in the USA carry Alexander Wang. How lucky am I to have one of them so close to me? I'm tempted to use my employee discount and just grab them for myself! They only have two pairs left in my size and they're selling out quickly, so I don't think I'll be able to purchase them on sale. The decisions I face in my life are so petty sometimes. But listen to me, I missed out on my dream Marni moccasins, so I'm really debating if I should just grab these. I might end up regretting not getting them, but I also want to get sunglasses and buying both is way too much money.
Left to Right: Tina, Jessy, me, and Michael
Also, I started a collaborative fashion blog with Tina, Jessy, and Michael, which is called The Suburban Urbanites. We went to the mall again that way I could introduce the three of them to each other, so I hope you can follow that blog too. We hope to offer you advice on style, share outfits, and share opinions on runway shows with you. Hope to see you there!

PS Congratulations to Ryan Lochte, Kimberly Rhode, and Dana Vollmer for winning gold medals for the USA! Congrats to the rest of Team USA that has also won any type of medals. Keep on kicking ass at the Olympics for me, alright?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Spain: Day 4

Playing: Take My Hand-League
Reading: Harper's Bazaar July 2012
My dad made us wake up extra early to go stand in line for the Museu Picasso, since the day before, we had gone, only to find a line that went on forever and ever. We showed up 45 minutes before opening time and still ended up something like twelfth in line. This is a picture of the line five minutes before opening. I couldn't even see the end of the line. Pretty crazy, huh? This was one of the few art museums from my trip that I think is worth visiting, but definitely get in line early! I suggest having one person wait in line, while another goes and gets breakfast for everyone. That way you have something to munch on in line.
Once we got through the museum, my dad took us to the Parc de la Ciutadella. It's well known mostly for this fountain, which I think depicts the birth of Venus. It took us awhile to figure out what it was, but then my Percy Jackson skills kicked in and I remembered everything. You can see Neptune, Venus, Apollo, and hippocamps on this fountain plus tons of ducks swimming around. The whole park is incredibly beautiful and I highly recommend visiting it during your trip.
For lunch, we found ourselves at a buffet focused on healthy eating. We were actually walking to another museum, but I started to get fussy with my dad and complained to him, "We've been up for five hours already and it's one o'clock! I'm starving and it's freaking hot." So to shut me up, he pointed to two restaurants across the street and said, "Pick your poison." I chose TERRABLAVA because it was the cheaper and cleaner of the two. It actually turned out to be pretty tasty and I recommend eating there, if you're running low on money. For 10€, I got unlimited orange lemon juice, pasta salad, croquettes, potato salad, pasta, chicken wings, roasted veggies, and all sorts of other things. It didn't have a lot of meat, but I didn't mind. The roasted tomatoes were incredible and I wish I saved room in my stomach for more. They even had dessert there, which was all included.
While at TERRABLAVA, we gave up on heading towards the Roman and medieval museums, deciding that we had already seen enough, while we were in Rome. We had to convince my dad to take a cab to Parc Guell, which is on practically every postcard. The taxi ride there was hot and stuffy, but it was worth going to the park. It was another one of Gaudi's creations, so my family and I walked around the park and admired the mosaics. I spent a lot of time people watching and I found this group of cute British guys. You British girls have no idea how lucky you all are to have such good looking men. It seems you have a higher cute guy to girl ratio than I do, where I live. Actually, I think I've mentioned this before, but seriously Europe, why do you get more handsome men?
At Parc Guell, they had a band performing and I decided I want to go to a park with my friends and play music. Since I lack any type of musicality, I shall be the chick with the tambourine that just dances around and lends background harmonies. Sounds good to me. By the way, the girl in this band actually did sing. I'm not trying to make fun of her. Introducing, The Mananers, the only band I know that's "high everyday."
We took a cab back to the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, where we had explored the parks earlier that week. Since they were open this day, we decided to go and I got in for free because I'm still considered a minor. A lot of these places offer discounts for students, so bring your student ID with you! I personally didn't like this art museum because it consisted of mostly religious paintings. However, on the second floor, they did have some pretty impressionist paintings, but none of the artists there are well known except for Picasso. I do recommend walking around this area because there's a lot to look at. The Plaza Espanya became my go-to area for whenever we had free time mostly because it was close to our hotel and look at how pretty the MNAC building is!
We went back to Las Ramblas for dinner and this time round, La Boqueria was open, so we went to go check it out. I recommend going earlier on in the day because it was starting to close up, when we went. It was interesting to see all the meats they had there that we don't have in the USA or at least in the USA, they're considered specialty meats such as: goat, rabbits, and some other unidentifiable meats. I was tempted to buy some of the candy there, but I was all out of cash.
For dinner, we just chose a place along Las Ramblas that way I could people watch and look for cute guys. (Man, do I have a brain that's focused on one thing or what?) We ended up eating at Pita House, so I ordered a prosciutto pizza, but I think the rest of the world has a different definition of prosciutto than I do. The meat on this pizza is called ham in the USA, not prosciutto. The pizza was truthfully kind of soggy and bland. I don't recommend it at all. If you're going go try Pita House, go inside the restaurant to the less touristy part and order the Persian food. When I went to use the loo, it smelled so good in the restaurant part! On the bright side, the table next to me had these two really cute guys in colored jeans. I didn't know you could do this, but a man tapped one of them on the shoulder and asked for a cigarette before walking away and one of the guys just gave it to him! I mean really, in the USA, I've never seen a complete stranger bum a smoke off of someone unless they're hitting on the person. If they were flirting, he would've stayed, not walked away, right? Crazy stuff you see out there, right? (I am most certainly overreacting...)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Spain: Day 3 Part 2

Playing: There is a Light That Never Goes Out-The Smiths
Reading: James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
After the Casa Mila, we returned to the area by our hotel and explored the gardens and buildings around the MNAC. I highly suggest walking around in all the gardens surrounding it. You get a great view of the ocean and get to see tons of spectacular buildings. A soccer camp for elementary school age boys was just getting out, so there was a whole rush of boys in bright soccer jerseys running around with parents chasing after them. How cute!
We probably spent a good two to three hours just walking around and people watching, but then we got hungry, so we headed down to Arenas de Barcelona for dinner. It used to be a bull fighting rink, but they transformed it into a modern mall with stores like MANGO, Claire's, Desigual, etc. It was amazing how big it was inside and on the bottom most floor, they had all these places for food. We went to the very top, where the restaurants were for dinner.
This was the amazing view that you got from the top most floor and you got to see this, while eating dinner. Pretty much all of the restaurants would offer you a different, beautiful view. Surprisingly, the food here wasn't as over priced as it was in other parts of town.
We chose La Lola, since it was one of the few restaurants offering Spanish food. It was mostly a tapas restaurants, but you could get sandwiches there too. Up above, you can see the salt cod fritters, breaded baby goat chops from Segovia, Iberian ham shavings, cold tomato soup, and the bread with tomato sauce. The soup was absolutely delicious and my family was fighting over who would get the last bit of it. I won. The Iberian ham shavings was basically prosciutto, but when put on top of the bread with tomato sauce, it was so good.
We also tried the paella, which was only ok. It tasted too much of seafood and the rice was kind of burnt. However, the fried eggplants with honey was amazing. It was cut so thin, it was like a crisp. The honey sauce had a molasses under taste to it, which was surprising. It was so good that we ordered a second batch.
I developed quite the liking for the Spanish tapa called potatas bravas, but at La Lola, they were called the unforgettable bravas. I am a lover of fried potatoes, so topping it with spicy mayo just makes it that much better, so I took delight in chowing down on this.
After dinner, we headed back to the MNAC area to watch the water show that's held nightly from 9:00PM-10:00PM during the summer. We caught a showing towards 10:00PM that was synched with American music from the 1980's, so pretty much, all my favorites. There were a lot of people in their 20's there dancing, drinking, and just pretty much having fun. A lot of gay couples were there dancing and I guess, if you want to find other young people to befriend, this is the area. I became friends with two Americans, while I was there and we talked about which sites we were going to go to next. Then the clock ticked by and somehow it was 11:00PM already and we decided it was time to go back to the hotel, even though none of us were tired.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Whatever, Whatever, I Do As I Please

Playing: 1901-Phoneix
Reading: Antigone by Sophocles
Disclaimer everyone, I am not a title making genius. Let's just get on with the show about what I did over the weekend.  As you probably know, I love Tim Burton a lot. I love his movies, poems, and art, so I was dying to go see Dark Shadows. While it did leave me feeling disappointed, I have to disagree with the critics that said it wasn't funny at all. There were tons of awkward moments, where the main character Barnabas (Johnny Depp) from the 1760's had to adapt to the 1970's and all the modern appliances, that were chuckle worthy. Although this movie was dry from time to time, the beautiful set and well thought out costumes totally made up for it. The main complaint I have with this movie is that too many story lines were going on. If they cut out Bella Heathcote's unimportant story of how her parents left her in a mental house and Chloe Grace Moretz'z random transformation into a werewolf, the movie would've been a lot better.
I also tried the Turkey Melt at Berkeley Dog, which was unlike any other Turkey Melt I've had. It had slices of turkey covered in grilled onions, cheese, and bacon. I'm used to the typical turkey melt with American cheese, so this was definitely a step up and it was a decent price.
 My friend, Sophie, let me use her Chanel nail polish from Spring/Summer 2008 called Antelope. This has to be one of the prettiest nail polishes I have ever used. It's tan with a metallic shine and when you go out into the sun, it looks like the prettiest blush ever. My camera did not pick up how pretty this color is and frankly, it looks kind of bland in this photo, but trust me, this is such a gorgeous color. It almost looked like I had pearls on my nails and what made it so pretty is how close it is to my skin color, so it was also subtle. In class, I could not stop staring at my nails. Considering Chanel nail polish is like $30, I was not impressed by its staying power. By the fourth day, it started to chip really badly on all of my nails except my thumbs. By the end of the week, I had to take it off because it was almost all gone.
The Orange County Great Park has been in development for years and part of my summer plan is to check out all the farmers markets within driving distance that I can, so I just had to check out the one at the Great Park. They had tons of cute stalls with specialty items like the local raw honey shown above and organic, gluten-free baked items. They also had fresh vegetables and fruits plus gourmet food trucks, vintage records, dog clothing, and organic pet food. I did buy some amazing nectarines and sweet cherries, while I was there too.
Before going to Daniela's party, I made Chef Michael Symon's 3 Minute Chocolate "Cup" Cakes with my brother. It was such an easy recipe and took next to no time at all. However, I did find I had to microwave everything for twice as long as he suggested. I used one and a half bars of Lindt's 85% cocoa dark chocolate and one bar of Lindt's 70% cocoa dark chocolate. I found that our's came out way too rich, so I think next time I'll use two and a half bars of Lindt's 65% cocoa dark chocolate plus some vanilla extract. I topped mine with whipped cream and the left over chocolate bar crumbled into sprinkles. Eat it while it's hot! It always amazes me how much I can squish into one weekend...Until next time, hope you have a most fabulous day!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Spain: Day 3 Part 1

Playing: Til the Sun Came Up-Michael Holborn
Reading: Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
On our third day in Barcelona, my family and I skipped breakfast because everything in Europe is just too expensive for us. We ended up walking down the Passeig de Gracia in the morning, which is Barcelona's equivalent to Los Angeles' Rodeo Drive, I think. All of the buildings were built beautifully, which is typical of Europe. I love the statues gracing this particular building that housed the Cartier store, if I remember correctly.
The main reason we visited Passeig de Gracia was to take a look at Gaudi's Casa Battlo, which cost a lot to get in, but was worth it. In my opinion, it was one of the best places we visited on our trip. The inside felt like you were underwater the way the light filtered in through the stain glass windows and the sloping ceilings felt like an underwater cave. Like the Sangria Familia, it felt like Ariel's cave, where she keeps all her treasures in The Little Mermaid. Wow, I'm eloquent.
Once we were finished exploring Casa Battlo, we crossed the street to visit Burberry. I am a hardcore Burberry fan, so I can safely say I've been to Burberry stores in over seven different countries right now. This has to be one of my favorite Burberry stores ever, since it houses everything including Burberrys, Burberry Prorsum, Burberry Sport, Burberry London, and Burberry Brit. Plus, this was the first Burberry I went to that had ballroom gowns! Definitely worth a visit!
While walking around Barcelona trying to hunt down a specific restaurant for two hours, we eventually gave up and stumbled our way to Bar Funicular on Carrer de Girona. (Let's hope Google got the right street for me!) No one spoke English there, but the people that worked there were more than friendly and showed us all of the food they had and let us point and choose. For my first dish, I got a delightful pasta salad that was refreshing and filled with delicious vegetables such as: red bell pepper, tomatoes, and green bell peppers. At first, the huge glob of mayo freaked me out, but if you mixed it in with the whole salad, it wasn't too overwhelming and was actually very good.
With their prefixed meal, you could choose two dishes, so for my second dish, I got a steak, which was served with crispy French fries and fresh tomato. Although the steak was tough, it was not inedible and the flavor was still pretty good. Considering, I ate a lot of poor meals in Spain that tasted rather bland, I was shocked to find that this little cafe served me one of my best meals in Spain. This blog wrote a full write up of it, which I can't read, but it even has a picture of the people that work there. The lady he has pictured was so friendly and treated us like family, offering us chocolate afterwards.
Right next to Casa Mila, our next stop, was Lolita Bakery. I took a quick look in and was stunned by the array of cupcakes they had, so my brother, dad, and I all got ourselves a cupcake. My brother got the banana and pineapple, which he said tasted just like a banana muffin to him, while I got the Mora Vanille one, which was fluffy semisweet blackberry icing on a dense vanilla cupcake. My dad's Tiramisu was pretty good for a chocolate cupcake, which always seem to be disappointing. The interior of the store is adorable and if you're visiting the Casa Mila, you might as well grab a cupcake. Half the people in the ticket line were munching on cupcakes anyways.
When we got to the front of the line for the Casa Mila, we finally bought our tickets and got in. I suggest looking around for the elevator to get to the top of the building because walking up eight flights of stairs is not a fun way to start your tour. By the time my brother and I had finished racing each other up the stairs, my legs hurt like crazy. Out of all the Gaudi places we visited, this was definitely the least impressive of them. The roof offered a beautiful view of the city, but then the tour took you to the attic, where it explained how Gaudi built all of his structures. Then it took you through a time capsule of what an aprtment of his might've looked like at the time it was built. We spent some time, sitting in the court of the building staring upwards and I tried talking to some Italian tourists, but all they wanted to talk about was Disneyland once they found out I was from California, so I didn't get to figure out from where in Italy they were from. Thanks for reading and do leave a comment! I'll get to writing up the rest of day three as soon as possible!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Up to Nothing Much

Playing: Everybody Talks-Neon Trees
Reading: The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
It's summer, which means I'm slowly rotting my brain away until my mum sends me to SAT prep classes or until I start panicking from all the various summer assignments I have from school. Either way, it's a lose/lose situation for me. Until then, I shall be busy eating delicious meals such as the Penne alla Amatriciana at Renata's Caffe Italiano, which is penne with fresh tomatoes, smoked pancetta, green onions, roasted garlic, onions, and fresh basil. On Chopped, judges criticize contestants for "over saucing" a dish, but I personally like having extra sauce for the bread, so I liked how there was leftover sauce once I was done with the penne.
While walking around in the parking lot by Renata's, I saw on the car next to us that they had a Hello Kitty exhaust pipe! How adorable, right? I've seen photos of this online, but I've never seen it in person, so I just had to grab a photo for all of you to see.
I also saw this at a store awhile back and I wanted to share this with you. I looked at the sign and of course, I read it, so when I left, the girl yelled at me, "You're a unicorn murderer." So there you go, I am an alleged unicorn killer.
I also painted my nails a blush borderline cotton candy pink color from Essie called Flawless. Although I like how this pink is toned down, I was disappointed to see that it chipped really badly within the one week that I wore it. I find most Essie polishes to be highly pigmented and a tad runnier than what I normally like. I'm still shocked by myself that I would wear pink nail polish. Pink is NOT my thing.
What color are your nails right now?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Spain: Day 2 Part 2

Playing: Runaways-The Killers
Reading: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Welcome back to my day two in Barcelona! After we visited mare magnum, we walked back to Las Ramblas hoping to eat at a famous cafe, but it started raining horribly, so we pulled aside to eat at whatever we found. However, I get so little rain in southern California that whenever it does rain, I get this stupid grin on my face that shows everyone I'm thoroughly enjoying the rain. Walking around in a downpour in short shorts was a bad idea. Later that night, I got a bad headache and fever, while I was cheering on Spain in the Spain vs Italy EuroCup game. Sorry Italians, but it felt more appropriate to be cheering on Spain, while I was in Spain!
We ended up at Carta de Vinos-Torres, which is near the end of Las Ramblas, for lunch. We ordered our first taste of tapas with this combo aptly named Tapas 3. It came with fried potatoes with spicy mayo, octopus with spicy topping, grilled lamb, chicken wings, shrimp with garlic butter, and clams with garlic butter. This was one of the best things we ate, while in Spain. Everything was just so tasty.
Since we were afraid it wasn't going to be enough food, we also ordered the Fideuada (Fisherman's Style) and the Hand Made Assorted Pates. The Fideauda was described to us by the waiter as a noodle version of paella, but it tasted like seafood instant noodle to me. It was good, but probably not worth ordering. The pates were pretty average, but my mum found them too strong, so I'd stick to the tapas, if I were you.
After lunch, we headed off to the Cathedral de Barcelona, which was pretty creepy, I'm not going to lie. I personally find medieval religious art to be pretty disturbing and depressing, so I've never been a fan of medieval cathedrals. My dad enjoys visiting cathedrals, so we always end up visiting them and they're considered must-see spots, so it's only me that has this issue. My favorite part was going on the roof of the cathedral to see the city below me, but other than that, I was freaked out for most of my time there.
While walking around the  Barri Gotic, my family stopped off for gelato at La Campana. Since the USA doesn't have a lot of blackberry flavored food, I ordered the mora (Spanish for blackberry). It was very refreshing for the first few bites, but towards the end, I found it way too sweet. I have to admit this particular store was very quaint and for all of you that don't like gelato, it served other desserts.
Afterwards, we went to the Sangria Familia, which was designed by Gaudi. I absolutely loved the Sangira Familia even though it cost a small fortune to get in. It was so beautiful inside and felt surreal. This is how I think churches should feel: happy, welcoming, ethereal, etc. As I've hinted to before, I dislike churches that have the depressing, violent vibe that many medieval things have. The Sangria Familia was just amazing and unlike anything I've ever seen before and I highly recommend it.
At the end of our day, we went back to our hotel and rested until it was time to go out for dinner. It was still raining, so we went to Rias de Vigo, which was very close to our hotel. I ordered the Solomillo de atunn a la Provenzal. The tuna was meaty and well cooked, not too dry for me at all, but I found the tomato sauce to be too tangy and it left my tongue feeling tingly. Is that weird of me to say? Also, the waiters were very funny and they could speak Spanish, English, and French! After dinner, we went back to our hotel to watch the Spain vs Italy EuroCup soccer game. When Spain won, people set off fireworks, opened up windows to cheer, honked horns, and ran around the streets screaming, so I took it as a sign to cheer to. I opened up my window and cheered until my mum told me to be quiet. Well that's the end of my first full day in Spain...

Friday, July 13, 2012

Spain: Day 2 Part 1

Playing: Awakening-Yellow Card (Their new album is coming out soon!)
Reading: Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link
For my first full day in Barcelona, my family and I started our day off at Plaça De Catalunya. It was a large plaza surrounded by stores and restaurants with fountains and sculptures in the center. Mostly an area for looking around, it was fairly free of tourists in the morning, but when I went back at night, it was packed with people and musicians.
One of the stores surrounding the Plaça De Catalunya, was El Corte Inglés, which is one of Spain's biggest department store chains and the one in Barcelona happens to be one of the biggest in Spain. We went down to the bottom level, where the super market was, to look at all the food they had there. There was a bakery, specialty goods store, deli, and so much more down there. Their seafood selection was huge!
Afterwards, we walked down Las Ramblas, which was a super tourist-y area, but I didn't see any Americans there, mostly other Europeans. They were selling these cute bouquets made up of small, neon colored flowers that I really liked. They were so happy. Along this street, they also had news kiosks, flower stands, portrait artists, gelato stands, a pet store, and little baked goods stands plus tons of stores and restaurants to eat at.
We stepped onto a side street to get to the Plaça Reial. (You can spot my brother in this photo in his khaki shorts and grey v-neck.) The Plaça Reial was crowded that day with a bunch of vendors selling random stuff like a stamp collection, old postcards, and keys. It felt like a swap meet was going on, when I went.
Afterwards, we made our way to Mirador de Colon, where there's a huge Columbus statue. I don't believe in celebrating Columbus Day, since it's been proven that both the Vikings and the Chinese found America before him, so I just cropped him out of the photo. I still thought it was necessary to share with you that I visited this touristy place, though.
 We continued our walk to the marina, which was lovely. They had a model of an old galleon there that you could go on, but it was expensive, so I didn't go. We just kept on walking across the bridge, which was called the Pbla. de Mar, I believe, and looked at all the fish in the water that were literally doing flips.
We ended up at a shopping center called mare magnum. They had tons of seafood restaurants surrounding the area that specialized in tapas, which is like Spanish dim sum. I liked the way this building curved up and how everybody was reflected in its walls. As you walked up to it, it appeared, as if you were walking on the ceiling.
 A funny little store they have in the mall is 2theloo, which is a pun on "tood-a-loo" and was basically a store, where you pay to use the loo. Although the store is a rip off because I'm way too cheap to pay to use a toilet, I still found the name hilarious. Hopefully, I'll get the rest of Day 2 up soon and I hope you'll enjoy all my Spain write-ups!