January in Food

We grew up with very different kinds of food — Phuong with a gazillion Vietnamese noodle soups (for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!), and Myke with southern American cuisine (and probably fast food). Today, our little family indulges ourselves in good food from different cultures. It has been a great privilege to live in very diverse cities where there is no shortage of different types of restaurants to try. However, what we love most is trying to make new dishes at home. Despite all the cravings for familiar and easy go-to meals, we constantly try to experiment — sometimes with recreating a restaurant menu item but most of the time with just trying a new recipe. Our food philosophy is simple: we eat everything; our meals are balanced with vegetables, grains, and proteins; and we don’t overeat. In 2017, we are attempting to document what we eat for several reasons. We are curious to see how much food we consume over time. We want to be conscious and mindful of the quality and budget of our meals. And we want to inspire others to cook by demonstrating how affordable it is to eat well. Here are some of the different dishes we made in January and a few fun facts:



Travel Guide

Montréal: eat, drink, and winter jacket shopping.

We tend to end up in Montréal on American holidays — Fourth of July 2009, Fourth of July 2011, and Thanksgiving 2014.  The first time we went to Montréal as poor college students, we decided to find some free housing on Couchsurfing.  It turned out to be an amazing experience as we stayed with four different hosts who so kindly open their homes to us and showed us around.  We became good friends with many people we met on this first trip and fell in love with Montréal.  This city is truly lovely all year round.  Well… it’s really cold there in the winter; but the good new is if you are ready to invest in a good winter jacket — there are some amazing options, designed and/or made locally in Montréal.



Joe Beef  If you are a meat lover, you will love this place!  So many interesting dishes to try, including the foie gras double down — two slabs of foie gras, breaded with crumbled potato chips, deep-fried, stuffed with bacon, cheddar, and aïoli, and drizzled with maple syrup.  The only advice: don’t try to eat this by yourself.  Otherwise, go crazy and you will not regret it!

Le Vin Papillon  Same owner as Joe Beef but with a more “normal” menu.  Everything is amazing — try them all!

Restaurant Le P’tit Plateau  Our friend Manat recommended this amazing tiny little BYOB spot and it did not disappoint!  Bring a couple bottles of wines and buckle down for some of the most well-prepared classic French dishes such as cassoulet and magret de canard.  We had an amazing time and our bellies were quite satisfied!

La Banquise  Poutine  If you have had poutine, you know it’s genius!  If you haven’t, poutine is a Canadian dish (Québecois to be exact) consisting of fries topped with cheese curds and a brown gravy sauce.  At La Banquise, your wildest dream about poutine will come true as they take the poutine toppings to the next level!

Shambala  One of the first friends whom we met in Montréal took us to this little Tibetan restaurant and it remains on our list of favorite places ever since.  This is your chance to try yak meat and salted butter tea!

Schwartz’s  This is a MUST GO in Montréal! The most amazing pastrami!  If there’s a line, don’t worry it moves fast; but try to avoid prime meal times so that you don’t have to wait in line at all!  The meat has the exact amount of fatty bits to keep it moist and is so tender that it melts in your mouth.  The large plate is perfect to share between two people!

Sumac  Wonderful Middle Eastern spot for a quick lunch.  Everything is beautiful and tasty!



Big in Japan Bar  Beautiful speakeasy with great cocktails!

Dieu du Ciel  Tasty beers. ‘Nuf said.



Westmount Greenhouse  Beautiful greenhouse that is open to the public free of charge!  It’s such a hidden gem and a true oasis of nature in the middle of the city.  Come with breakfast or lunch or a snack to take in this beautiful view



After four brutal winters in New York City, I always resorted to wearing 4-5 layers when it’s cold and never thought that one jacket would ever be enough.  Then my life was forever changed when I decided to invest in a real winter jacket with a good down layer!  Bye bye layers.  Hello wearing-summer-clothes-under-my-extremely-warm-jacket!  The challenge with finding the ideal outerwear is the perfect marriage between style and warmth.  Check out these awesome local Montréal brands!




Travel Guide

A guide to Seattle’s food, brews, and more.

Our secret ingredients to a good trip are: 1) Sleep and nap as much as possible; 2) Make sure to eat at least three meals a day (the more the better); 3) Take in life with long walks; 4) Find some local brews and day drink; 5) Try to avoid tourist traps.  We added all of the above to our latest trip to Seattle and it was amazing.  Here’s our guide to a fun long weekend in the Emerald City!



Musashi’s  This little gem in Wallingford has the most incredible sushi, sashimi, and a couple types of Japanese rice bowls at amazing prices.  Every day when I wake up in Brooklyn, I dream of devouring a bowl of chirashi at Musashi’s, full of the freshest varieties of sashimi at the incredible price of $14.  What a steal!  Disclaimer: they only accept cash or personal checks.

Hue Ky Mi Gia  If you feel like wandering to the International District for some authentic asian food, you must stop by this spot.  You would fall in love with this place only if you like noodles and chicken wings.  The menu includes a gazillion types of Chinese-Vietnamese noodles with various toppings served in two styles – in the broth or dry with the soup on the side.  Another must-have is the chicken wings with juicy flavorfull meat inside, crispy buttery garlicy batter outside and some delightfully crunch garlic bits on top.  I’m sure everything else on the menu is good but do not leave this place without the wings!

The Walrus and the Carpenter  We had heard of this Ballard seafood spot for a while before this past trip to Seattle.  Everyone raves about the food and it certainly did not disappoint!  The fresh local oysters will melt in your mouth; the fried oysters are sublime; and the grilled sardines will not taste like any canned sardine you’ve ever had.  Those were our favorites!  We also spent some time drinking wine next door at the adorable Barnacle while waiting for our table and highly recommend this wine bar.

The Corson Building  This beautiful restaurant is tucked away in Georgetown next to the highway.  The communal seatings and warm decor make it feel like a cozy dinner party at a friend’s house.  The dinner with wine pairing on Saturday nights and family-style dinner on Sunday are both a little out of our budget so we resorted to the a-la-carte dinner on Friday.  We had vegetables and seafood sourced from local farmers and fishermen.  Everything was incredibly fresh and tasty!

The Wandering Goose  This friendly little cafe in Capital hill makes great pastries and biscuits.  Who knew biscuit and gravy could taste so good in the northwest!

Dot’s Delicatessen  Just looking at the deli display at this Fremont spot makes me happy.  They have any kind of cured meat you could possibly think of, multiples types of sausages, and several options of pâté and liver mousse.  Definitely not an option for non-meat lovers!


DRINK  Good beer!  That’s all we have to say about these spots!  Check them all out!

Fremont Brewing Company

Brouwer’s Cafe

Hilliard’s Brewery



Outlander Brewery and Pub



Molly Moon’s  Listen to this Brothers From Another track when you eat their delicious ice cream.

Volunteer Park Cafe  Take a break from your stroll in Volunteer Park and get some pastries here!

Hot Cakes  We came here already stuffed with good food and beer all over Ballard.  We didn’t think we could possibly eat anything else.  But we gave in the second we saw the molten chocolate cakes at this place.  The cake was warm and exploded with gooey delicious chocolate inside.  As if this sweet goodness wasn’t enough, we proceeded to pair it with butter beer (butterscotch, apple cider, champagne).  This warm rich buttery drink was  the last thing we had that day before a very long food coma.  We do not regret any of it!

Theo Chocolate  This chocolate store is always fun to go to!  Great flavors from normal to weird.  All delicious!



Gold Dogs Vintage

Burnt Sugar  Fun store in Fremont!

Michael Reed Black Antiques  Great if you’re into antique jewelry!

Book Larder  In love with this place!  If you cook, don’t miss this unique bookstores that specializes in cookbooks from all over the world.



Neumos  Cozy concert venue.

Chihuly Garden and Glass  This place at first appeared to be a tourist trap.  But it turned out to be a gorgeous exhibition!