Memosne: February 2012

Princess Jasmine

Aladdin was my favorite Disney movie as a child, it kind of still is now, but I've always found Jasmine to be a very beautiful, alluring Princess.

I saw Andrea's, a popular Youtube Guru known as Andreascoice, tutorial on this quick, cute, Princess Hairstyle and I had to try it. I'm actually completely inept at braiding or doing anything with my hair, but her tutorials seemed easy enough to follow and I managed to get it done.

I was so proud of myself, but my hair is so smooth it unraveled almost immediately. =( So upset. In the process of salvaging the hair do it just exploded into lots of puffy, fluff. Does any other Asian lady have this problem? >< 

With all the blue in my outfit I felt really "Jasmine-esque", although I was feeling far from it. Sometimes you just feel really "bleh" and don't want to put much thought into throwing anything on. I condone wearing tights as pants, but I love wearing nice tights with a tunic or a longer tee. This bright navy blue tunic has dolman sleeves and enough swish to be worn when you feel like being casually chic without putting any effort in. I really wish I could have pulled off the hairstyle though. =( 

Anyway, I'm going through midterm week at the moment and visiting boyfriend in Boston....I'll post a little less this next week, but I hope you guys still enjoy my posts. =) I will get on blog stuff and mailing stuff out soon. I hope you're all well! 


Alan Wong's ~ Honolulu

Alan Wong is well known as one of twelve co-founders of Hawaiian Regional Cuisine. Utilizing locally grown ingredients and highlighting the different cultures that settled on the island in one unified cuisine, Alan Wong's restaurant is in a caliber of its own in Waikiki. Again with many of the places that I've already shown you here on my blog, I've been visiting Alan Wong's for as along as I can remember. It has a soft spot in my heart (and stomach) and I have to say that I do sing praises about the originally, execution and flavor that all his dishes emit. However, on this most recent trip to Honolulu, both my parents and I were disappointed with the quality and flavor that our food had. When we asked a waiter where Alan Wong was he replied that the main staff of the kitchen had been busy with a restaurant expansion to Maui. So I think that explains the "mediocre meal". I still love you Alan Wong. ><

Alan Wong's restaurant would definitely be considered fine dining, despite the casual atmosphere. Everything about the restaurant is modern, chic, sleek, and, randomly enough, spring-like. There's suspension lighting strung all around the room, sparse enough to create a shadowed, dim atmosphere, but strategically placed in a way you can see the food that you're eating. The whole restaurant's color palette is made up of light wood and nice fresh spring greens. The floor space is a decently sized one that includes the main dining space and a smaller more secluded glass patio area, where there's a wonderful view of the surrounding city. The ambiance is cool and relaxed and it definitely matches the rest of Hawaii in terms of "rest and relaxation." Alan Wong's is definitely a place to celebrate special events and I must have heard "Happy Birthday" sung a minimum of ten times that evening.

In addition to giving us our celery green raffia menus, we were also given iPads to peruse the drink menu. I love it when a restaurant takes additional steps to make the menu more interactive. Not only was the cocktails, wines, and spirits of the house listed there, but there was a section where they highlighted the farmers that they purchased from and some background information on ingredients. Very fun to burn time on when you're waiting to order or waiting for your food. The restaurant waitstaff were attentive and efficient in serving our food. However, I think the waiter that was serving us that night was having a rough day and he looked really unhappy. My father and I made a few quips in attempt to talk to him, but for the majority of the meal he sort of brushed us off. He warmed up considerably near the end of the meal, but to be fair, the being in the service industry is quite difficult sometimes.

My parents and I ordered the tasting menu and my father brought his own wine.

Original Cupcakes - Vancouver

Oh man! Sweet tooth heaven here! First macarons and now onto cupcakes, I hope you guys have big sweet teeth like me as well. Well, to be honest, I have a whole mouth of sweet teeth. =) 

Original Cupcakes is probably the most well known and dominant cupcake bakery in the Vancouver area. I remember there was another cupcakery, Big City Cupcakes, that opened up in competition with Original Cupcakes, but all their stores have since closed down. Heather and Lori, the creators of Original Cupcakes, have their own "reality tv" show on the Oxygen network depicting the day to day operations of their business. I have never seen the show or actually heard of it prior to going into the Original Cupcakes bakery, but I assume it must be successful as it is still ongoing. 

I've been to their store on West Broadway more than a couple of times now and I have to say the cupcake quality and the service has always been pretty consistent. Original Cupcakes capitalizes on cute names, bright pinks, and retro themed images and decor to draw customers in. Service is always simple and snappy, they aren't too overly friendly, but instead efficient at giving you your desired cupcakes. All the service girls are uniformed in brown T-Shirts with the Original Cupcake logo and some cute slogans. 

Well, now onto the actual cupcakes. Original Cupcakes took me a series of visits to understand how I felt about them. The first time I went, I definitely fell pray to the hype. I loved these cupcakes on first bite and I thought they quite delicious. I know I have a higher "sweet" tolerance than most people, but when I brought them back to share with my parents they could only eat half of a single cupcake and complained that it was too sweet. I didn't mind. MORE FOR ME. I mean what beautiful and delicious cupcakes!

Red Velvet Cupcake
The second and third time that I went I think they hype and the excitement of a "cupcakery" kind of wore off already. Although I still enjoyed the cupcakes, I noticed that the "deliciousness" factor I had originally tasted worn of considerably. Finally the fourth time, my mom and dad had brought a box home for me, I finally realized what I loved about cupcakes wasn't necessarily the cupcake, but the frosting and the presentation. 

Between the third and the fourth time I had eaten at Original Cupcakes, there was a significant lag in my desire to go. Previously, I couldn't pinpoint the reason, but I think I've found the reason and it has to do with the cupcake itself. Previously, I've tried Mint Condition, Caramella, Lava Flow, Red Velvet, Diva and Cookies and Cream. The three cupcakes that I'll go into a detailed review about are: the Red Velvet, Lava Flow, and Cookies and Cream. 

One word of warning though, if you buy cupcakes from Original Cupcakes, do not refrigerate them. PLEASE. It will ruin the fluffiness of the frosting and then everything will coalesce into one hardened ball of dense cake and coagulated frosting. Room temperature is a much better option for serving these. 

Cookies and Cream
This little guy is the cookies and cream flavored one, if you couldn't already tell from the Oreo on top. =P Unfortunately, I can't find the description of this on the site, but from memory it's a chocolate cake with a cream cheese filling, topped with swirled chocolate and vanilla icing with half a Oreo cookie. The chocolate cupcake didn't really taste heavily of chocolate, it was more like a dense cake substance with all the sweetness lent to it from the frosting on top. There was supposed to be a cream cheese filling nestled within, but I found within one bite it was gone.  Even after visiting Original Cupcakes for the first time, this was one of my least favourite cupcakes. 

Lava Flow

The Lava Flow cupcake on the website is described as: "Chocolate cake with a cream cheese frosting and raspberry jam and finished with a raspberry dollop." I feel like the use of the word lava is usually indicative of like fudge-like liquid-y goodness. I know this is definitely difficult to achieve, especially within a cupcake, but I was at least expecting a moist dense cake. It was just....cake. The flavor idea is good and delicious, but in this case I'm not sure if Original Cupcakes executes it very well. The chocolate cupcake is the same base as the Cookies and Cream cupcake above and I found that it just didn't really taste like anything. Just cake matter. ><  I liked the idea of tart raspberry jam to counteract all the sweet, but I think that there generally wasn't enough of it. Again the raspberry filling injected within the cupcake was, like the cream cheese filling above, gone within one bite. 

However, my favorite part of any Original Cupcakes cupcake is the cream cheese frosting. In my opinion, the cream cheese base of the frosting, as opposed to the more traditional frosting, is tangier and less tooth rotting-ly sweet. Again I feel like the icing is responsible for all the flavor within the cupcake, but I really enjoy the flavor and airy quality that the icing inherently has. To provide a contrasting palate my mom had the exact opposite impression and she was just really turned off by the overall sweetness of the cupcake. She found that the cream cheese frosting was too sweet for her tastes. 
Red Velvet

Honestly, the Red Velvet cupcake would probably be the only cupcake I would go back for. However, I acknowledge that the only reason I like it so much is just purely the cream cheese frosting. The cake again doesn't really taste like much...just....cake matter. However, the Red Velvet cake is moderately less sweet than the Cookies and Cream and Lava flow. This was actually one of my first experiences with Red Velvet cake. I've always wanted to bake, try, consume a Red Velvet cake, but I've never really gotten the chance to for some reason. Either out of sheer laziness or falling back on old dessert favorites when the choice was between Red Velvet Cake and cream brule/cheesecake/chocolate souffle/etc. I know this is probably a very mediocre Red Velvet, but I like it. I'm still holding out for my real Red Velvet Experience though. 

In retrospect, I neither can recommend Original Cupcakes, nor can I deny the fact that if coerced I would probably buy a red velvet cupcake. At $3.25 for a single cupcake and at $16.00 for a dozen, I think that's too much to pay for a mediocre cupcake. As of now I'm not really enticed to go. In general, it was a sort of overly "Meh" experience for me, although I do admit I was seduced by the presentation and the cohesiveness of the "Original Cupcake" brand.

Thanks for reading!

Kid Friendly: Yes
Price: $$$ out of $$$$$ (In respect to cupcakes I think)
Repeatability: Individually no, but with friends somewhat passable.

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Lette Macarons ~ Los Angeles

I love, love, love macarons. Please don't confuse them with macaroons. Although they are both desserts, in my opinion, one of them is far superior in flavor than the other.
Macaron photo credit: Google Images
Also illustrated by these very scientific graphs:

Anyway for those people living in Los Angeles, not only do I envy you for your lovely weather, but I also am incredibly jealous of your proximity to the wonderful Lette Macarons.

I previously talked about Lette Macarons before in this post, but as I said before I've never been to the store myeslf so I can't comment on decor of service. However, some of you may be wondering how I get these precious gems delivered to me in such an expedient matter. It is entirely my dad and my sister's graciousness and kindheartedness that allows me to eat these macarons and a semi-regular basis. My sister was going to summer school down in LA for a period of time and my dad goes there quite often for business trips, so whenever they thought of my mother and I stranded up alone in the cold white north....they team up and buy a box of macarons.

I love macarons. If they're done properly, as Lette Macarons are, I think they're the most addictive amazing desserts in the world. These macarons are so, so, so...balanced. They're not so cloyingly sweet that you can only eat a couple, but have enough sweetness and actual flavor to become incredibly addictive instead. I have to bring up the incredible texture of these macarons. They are not brittle, stale, or powdery as some pre-packaged macarons or macarons that are just made of lies, but instead are light, crisp and chewy. The vivid colors of the macarons are the only foreshadowing to the immense flavor sealed within. I am in no means and dessert officianado, but I do love to indulge myself in them. 

Caramel Flavored Macaron

Perhaps one of my all times favorites from Lette Macarons is the caramel macaron. Again, as with all of the macaroons from Lette, the caramel macaron is not too sweet at all. Instead the chewy nature of the macaron itself melds together with the sticky sweetness of the caramel filling and makes eating it a thoroughly enjoyable experience. I mentioned in my last post the experience my sister had when buying these for the rest of the family, but I'll retell it just for the giggles. ;) A man cut in front of her inline and asked how many caramel macarons were left and the girl behind the counter told him "Over fifty I think?" Well, he bought all of them. My sister was absolutely devastated. I think that story in itself speaks for the sheer deliciousness of the caramel macarons.

Earl Grey Macaron

Earl Grey! I can't imagine a grey macaron, but somehow when I think "earl grey tea" I don't usually think of this beautiful turquoise blue. Being completely honest though, this is probably my least favorite macaron in terms of flavor. I've had earl grey infused chocolates, crackers, and other things delicious things and they've all had slightly different tastes. Weird, right? In this case the earl grey macaroon tastes a bit more like fruit-loops than anything else. I personally just prefer the other flavors to this earl-grey fruit loopy one, but it does deserve a chance to be tasted. =)

Coffee Macaron

The coffee macaron is my parent's favorite among the bunch and I have to say that they do have a very "sophisticated taste". Again this macaron isn't too sweet, but enough to completely coat your palette and  make you want more. I would say out of all the macarons I've eaten, this would be the one that I would consider the least "kid friendly." This macaron still retains the integrity of the original coffee flavor. A lot of coffee flavored items can have lots of sugar and milk added to them to make the bitter coffee flavor more palatable, but this macaron manages to wrestle the bitterness of coffee into a more mellow form. They're just sweet enough to counterbalance the bitter and highlight the coffee flavor. I personally also highly recommend this flavor. 

Vanilla Macaron

Vanilla anything gets a pretty bad rap I think. Plain Vanilla, mellow, boring....poor vanilla. =( I'm sort of on the fence with this one, I love vanilla things, but only if they're paired with something. Just straight vanilla can be a little bit boring for me. However, ff you're a vanilla fanatic I think you'll love these delicate, sweet little vanilla macarons by themselves. As for me, I love these babies paired with some fresh raspberries and chocolate ice cream. =) Delicious! I have to note that I can eat a whole box of macarons by themselves, but for the vanilla macarons I always have them with something else. I think you'll enjoy them though. 

I can't comment on the service or design, but I can assure you that you will love these perfectly baked multicolored gems. They are beautiful, simple, delicious and just plain addictive. If you're ever in Los Angeles and you're looking for a quick fix for a sweet craving please give Lette Macarons a try. You won't regret it!

Here are the prices found on their website: 
Individual macarons – $1.70
Minibox of 2 – $4
Giftbox of 6 – $10.50  |  12 – $19.50
Giftbox of 24 – $38  |  36 – $55

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