Saturday, July 30, 2011

Triple X Rootbeer Drive-in

Another food review! Triple X Rootbeer Drive-in is exactly that, a Drive-in. They have a sort of 50's Diner atmosphere that's actually pretty cool. With all the memorabilia everywhere, it seems as if you were transported to a different era. My friends and I arrived around 7 pm and there was a pretty large amount of people. In addition, we decided to sit in their outdoor seating area because it was just so nice out. Yes, we get sun here in Seattle. ha

At first, we were all confused as to what to do. We went inside where they had a stack of menus that you take and return. We took them outside to decide what we wanted and ended up sitting there for a good 5 minutes wondering what we were supposed to do. Apparently, we were supposed to go up to the counter and order so that's what we did. The man behind the counter is the owner and was very welcoming and a fun guy to be around. He was nice and courteous which I really liked. I decided to get the Strawberry Lemonade and the 58 Impala which was basically a bacon cheeseburger.

After you give your order, the people behind the counter will call your name to get your food and the food comes out fast. Within a couple of minutes the Strawberry Lemonade was ready.

Can you believe that this was a small?! I couldn't either. I love how it was served in a frosted glass as well! However, it seemed as if they were more about quantity than quality. This Strawberry Lemonade was lack luster. Didn't have a tanginess from lemons at all. Essentially, it tasted like watered down lemonade with a few strawberries thrown in.

Next, my burger came out within another 2 minutes. This was another disappointment. It was bland as can be. Even the bacon couldn't save it and that says a lot. In addition, even though there was their "special sauce" on it, I couldn't taste anything from it. The only thing good was the fries, crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside, just like they should be.

Overall, I had my hopes up for this place. There was great people, great surroundings and a great atmosphere but I left disappointed with the food. 

My Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Triple X Rootbeer Drive-in
98 Northeast Gilman Boulevard
Issaquah, WA 98027-2529
(425) 392-1266

Friday, July 22, 2011

Bottega Italiana Gelato


A couple of weeks ago, I had my 20th Birthday Get Together and in that, my friend Anthony gave me a "homemade coupon" for a meal with him at Shiro's Sushi Restaurant which is a high-end sushi restaurant in the Seattle/Belltown area. Being near the Puget Sound and close to Pike Place Market, there is no doubt they had the freshest fish out there. Disappointingly, I forgot to take pictures! Grrrrr... ha. Well, I'll describe the meal shall I?

I, along with Anthony and 2 other friends, ordered different Dinner Meal items. One got the sushi platter, another got a sashimi platter and my other friend got their famous broiled black cod. I on the other hand got the tempura dinner. Now, this dinner was a full out dinner. First came a cucumber and shrimp salad, then a miso soup, sashimi for the tempura and black cod dinners and finally, the main course of what we ordered. The food was light, yet flavorful. In every dish, the main star was the seafood and with it being so fresh, you definitely can't complain. However, make sure you're prepared to spend lots!! This place cost a pretty penny.

Now, let's talk about something I actually have pictures from. After Dinner, we decided to get some gelato. So, with the help of the iphone, we found one called Bottega Italiana located next to Pike Place Market. With fantastic ratings, we just had to try it. 

We got to Bottega Italiana around 8 pm and it was empty which we somewhat expected with it being a Wednesday and somewhat late. However, once we got our gelato, crowds of people began to funnel into the little shop. Looks like we got there at the right time. We immediately we're able to look at their selection with it being empty at first..

I know what you're thinking. "Where the heck is the Gelato?!". Don't worry, I thought the same exact thing. But hey, maybe it was because it was the end of the day? Well, that better be the reason anyway. ha.  Once the people began coming in, I noticed them taking out brand new tins of the good stuff.

They had a variety of flavors from Strawberry and Basil to Melon. They also had a Panacotta/Burnt Cream Gelato which I was intrigued by. Getting a taste of it, I was definitely in awe of how good it was! Subtle vanilla notes, yet not overpowering in artificial flavors and I thought it was more creamy. I would take that flavor over a vanilla any day. However, despite it's 'awesomeness' I opted to try their Salted Caramel and Choclate (Bottom Scoop) and their Pistachio (Top scoop)

The Pistachio was another favorite. It had different coffee notes in the flavor which I believe is due to the roasting of the Pistachios. In addition it had little bits of Pistachios running through. The Salted Carmel and Chocolate somewhat disappointed me. There was Chocolate Shavings/Chips in it but I found myself searching for that Salty Caramel. 

The total was about $4 which is a good price when considering how big the scoops were. They were not skimpy and I love that! One of my pet peeves are Ice Cream/Gelato shop owners using their scoop and getting exactly that much, no more no less. Do they not want us to comeback or something? Here at Bottega Italiana, the girl doing the scooping piled it on. I even saw her put a scoop in the cup and scoop a little bit more to add to it.

Phewww, that was one wordy post. But definitely check out both places. Definitely worth the money.

My Ratings
Shiro's: 4 out of 5 stars

Bottega Italiana: 5 out of 5 stars

2401 2nd Avenue
Seattle, WA 98121
(206) 443-9844

Pike Place Market
1425 First Avenue 
Seattle, WA  98101
(206) 343-0200

Sunday, July 17, 2011


Eclairs are one of those fancy treats that has such an appeal. Let's face it, it's really just a long cream puff. Whether you like the circular pastry or the longer version of it, it tastes the same. A crispy outside and a creamy outside, how can you not like one of these?

To be honest, Eclairs are fairly complicated to make. They involve quite a bit of steps as you can see from the recipe. Despite this, they're definitely a show stopper. People just get so impressed by these but who knows why. Is it because it's French? Is it because it's a pastry? Is it due to the many steps? Does it just have an awe factor? Whatever the answer is, as long as it impresses people, I'll be making them. ha.

All in all, the process to make these are just exciting. To see all the components come together is beyond cool. To have a goal to make something thats fancy and to actually fulfill it is just a confidence boost. So whether it's a cream puff or an eclair, go ahead and take a stab at it! :)

-I used the same recipe I used to make cream puffs before. It worked out fine.

-When making the pastry cream, only cook it until the cream is thickened after you add in the egg yolks. If you don't, it will have an almost curdled texture instead of creamy. Cook until it coats the back of a spoon and remove immediately.

-When making the pate a choux, after you add the flour stir frequently and cook until a skin begins to form on the bottom of the pan. That's when you know you can take it off and proceed to adding eggs.

-When baking the pate a choux, do on open the oven. It will cause the eclair shells to collapse because the outside of the shell won't have enough time to firm up and hold its shape.

Taste: A slightly eggy tasting shell filled with a vanilla flavored pastry cream and a chocolaty coating. Chocolate and Vanilla? Can't go wrong there

Texture: The eclair shell has a crispness to it which adds a great textural difference with the creamy vanilla pastry cream and smooth chocolate glaze.

For the pastry cream:
2 cups half-and-half
½ cup sugar
Pinch salt
5 large egg yolks
3 tbsp. cornstarch
4 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1½ tsp. vanilla extract

For the pâte à choux:
2 large eggs plus 1 large egg white
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces
2 tbsp. whole milk
6 tbsp. water
1½ tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup (2½ oz.) all-purpose flour

For the chocolate glaze:
3 tbsp. half-and-half
2 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup (4 oz.) confectioners’ sugar, sifted

To make the pastry cream, heat the half-and-half, 6 tablespoons of the sugar, and the salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat until simmering, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Meanwhile, combine the egg yolks and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar in a medium bowl and whisk until the sugar has begun to dissolve and the mixture is creamy, about 15 seconds. Whisk in the cornstarch until combined and the mixture is pale yellow and thick, about 30 seconds.

When the half-and-half mixture has reached a simmer, slowly add it to the egg yolk mixture to temper, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the saucepan, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula. Return the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly, until a few bubbles burst on the surface and the mixture is thickened and glossy, about 30 seconds. Off the heat, whisk in the butter and vanilla. Strain the pastry cream through a fine mesh sieve set over a medium bowl. Press plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate until cold and set, at least 3 hours and up to 2 days.

To make the pâte à choux, whisk the eggs and egg white in a liquid measuring cup. You should have ½ cup (discard the excess). Set aside. Combine the butter, milk, water, sugar and salt in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring once or twice. When it reaches a full boil and the butter is fully melted, remove from the heat and stir in the flour until incorporated and the mixture clears the sides of the pan. Return the saucepan to low heat and cook, stirring constantly, using a smearing motion, until the mixture is slightly shiny, looks like wet sand and tiny beads of fat appear on the bottom of the pan (the mixture should register 175-180˚ F on an instant-read thermometer.

Immediately transfer the mixture to a food processor and process with the feed tube open to cool slightly, 10 seconds. With the machine running, gradually add the reserved eggs in a steady stream. When they have been added, scrape down the sides of the bowl, then process 30 seconds more until a smooth, thick, sticky paste forms.

Place an oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 425˚ F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch plain tip with the pâte à choux. Pipe the paste into long strips, about 5 inches, on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 1 to 1¼ inches apart.

Bake for 15 minutes (do not open the oven door during baking). Reduce the oven temperature to 375˚ F and continue to bake until golden brown and fairly firm, 8-10 minutes longer. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Use a paring knife, cut a ¾-inch slit into the side of each strip to release steam; return the puffs to the oven, turn the oven off, and prop open the oven door with the handle of a wooden spoon. Dry the puffs in the turned-off oven until the centers are just moist (not wet) and the eclairs are crisp, about 45 minutes. Use a sharp paring knife to poke a hole through the bottom or side to check the interior. Transfer the puffs to a wire rack to cool completely. (At this point the puffs can be stored at room temperature for up to 24 hours or frozen for up to 1 month in an airtight plastic bag. Before serving, crisp in the oven at 300˚ F – 5-8 minutes for room temperature puffs, 8-10 minutes for frozen puffs.)

To fill the eclairs, use the tip of a paring knife to make a small cut perpendicular to the first, creating an X in the side of each puff. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a ¼-inch plain tip with the pastry cream. Pipe some of the pastry cream through the X into the side of each eclair until it starts to ooze back out. As well, you an cut the eclair shell straight down horizontally and fill it that way.

To make the glaze, place the half-and-half and chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave for 20 seconds at a time, until the mixture just begins to steam. Whisk together thoroughly, add the confectioners’ sugar, and whisk until completely smooth. Dip the tops of the filled eclairs in the chocolate glaze and transfer to a wire rack until the glaze has set completely. Serve within several hours.

-Aaron John

Saturday, July 9, 2011

S'mores Cookies

Ahhh, the S'more. Ooey, gooey, chocolately, melty, crunchy and creamy. How did something so simple become something that is just freakin' delicious?! ha. I don't know about you but when I think Summer Desserts, one of the things that pops into my mind is a S'more. Heck, we even had some S'mores at My 20th Birthday.

The idea of roasting marshmallows over an open flame to get that even golden brown color and a hint of smokiness and to put it into a "Graham Cracker Sandwich" with Hershey's Milk Chocolate, it simply brings out the kid in me. These kind of "S'mores making" events just scream "Summer Nights" to me. 

We all know that when you make S'mores, you need to buy a little extra supplies, just in case. Today was no different. Having leftover Graham Crackers, Marshmallows and Hershey's Chocolate, it was time to reinvent the S'more; it was finally time to take a stab out of S'mores cookies.

-Biggest tip is to use the original recipe from Make and Bake. I didn't and my dough came out extremely wet. I noticed that the conversions between the original and the one from Baked Perfection were not right at all which I believe had led to the wet dough. There was not enough flour and graham cracker crumbs and too much egg and baking soda. I say follow the original recipe.
-I ran into the problem with this dough being extremely wet. In doing so I had to use an additional 1/4 cup of flour but the dough was still wet. 

Taste: Exactly like a S'more. Nuttyness from the graham crackers, chocolaty goodness from the Hershey's Chocolate and a gooeyness from the Marshmallows on top.

Texture: The cookie became extremely flat. It did have a nice chew to it but it tended to fall apart even after resting on the cookie sheet for 10 min. 

S'mores Cookies
Recipe from Baked Perfection who adapted from Make and Bake

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 dash of cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups miniature chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
2 Hershey bars, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda, salt, and dash of cinnamon. In a second larger bowl beat together the butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Slowly beat in the flour mixture until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 8 minutes, and remove from the oven. Push 3 to 4 marshmallows and a few pieces of hershey bar into each cookies. Return to the oven and bake an additional 3-4 minutes until fully cooked. Cool cookies on a wire rack.

Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies.

-Aaron John

Saturday, July 2, 2011

My 20th Birthday

So Yesterday was my 20th Birthday! Yay! The teen years are behind me and it's time to start a new decade. To celebrate, you already know there will be food involved, so the first stop on this Birthday Bonanza was the delicious Cheesecake Factory. Fantastic food and always fantastic Cheesecake. 

I got the Red Velvet Cheesecake after my entree and man was it oh sooooo good! Layers of Red Velvet Cake and Cheesecake with white chocolate shavings on the side. They even wrote "Happy Birthday To You" on the plate in fancy writing!

Can you believe I finished most of that cheesecake after a Burger and fries? I always need to end my meal with something sweet.

After the Cheesecake factory it was time to go to Alki Beach in West Seattle to make a bon fire and roast some marshmallows for S'Mores

Chocolate, Marshmallow and Graham Crackers. Can it get any better?

Hanging out with friends the whole day definitely made my 20th Birthday that more special.

Not to mention watching the beautiful Sunset.

So, I just want to Thank my friends that came out to celebrate my 20th Birthday with me. It was a lot of fun and I will definitely remember this day! Thanks guys! :)


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