Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Blu Blogging : Special Oyster Night

Tonight Blu Seafood and Bar had a special oyster night with all kinds of wonderful oyster dishes. They offered seven different kinds of raw oysters, which could be ordered individually. I got nine Lockwood Folly oysters from North Carolina. I also got one each of Malpeques, from the Chesapeake Bay region, Chef's Creek and Kumamoto, both of which were from Washington State. I thought the Chef's Creek oyster, pictured above, was the best tasting. It also had a beautiful shell, with undulating edges.

This Kumamoto oyster was gorgeous, too. It was also delicious.

Tonight they had both Oysters Casino and Rockefeller. I ordered the Casino, which had bread crumbs, bacon, butter and shallots. They were very good.

I also got an order of fried oysters with horseradish cream sauce. I've shown this to you before, but their oysters are just magnifiscent and I have a new camera.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Vit Goal Tofu

I recently went to Vit Goal Tofu with a bunch of co-workers, which was a real treat. It's a Korean restaurant and from what I understood from my friends, Hugh and Anastasia, (I can use their names, because they're already famous.) who lived there for a year, it's fairly authentic. We started off with some non-caffeinated barley tea, which comes with the meal.
We also ordered some ginseng wine, baekseju, and My Little Pony Whisperer offered her full glass as a model. I had just a taste of it, but I thought it was quite good.

MLPW had japchae with beef and it looked very good, particularly the green noodles.

Assorted side dishes also came with our meal, including three types of kim chee (cabbage, daikon radish and cucumber), salad and potatoes. I particularly liked the cucumber kim chee. All were pretty mild.
I had the seafood tofu soup, which was delicious. The soft tofu was lovely and it had two whole shrimp (the heads and eyes were no extra charge), clams and oysters. The clams were the best, but I seem to be getting fonder of clams all the time. This photo was after MLPW had stolen a spoonful while I was trying to take the picture. No, I didn't stab her with my fork, but I did consider it. You can actually see a video of what the soup was like as soon it was served. It remained hot, temperature-wise, throughout most of the meal, but it wasn't overly spicy, despite my requesting "medium". Overall, it was very nice.

Hugh is very tall, so he was able to provide the satellite view of our table during the meal. I am definitely looking forward to going back soon, because there are a lot of interesting sounding things on the menu that I want to try.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Town Hall Grill Blogging : Early Bird Dinner

A bunch of us from ScienceOnline09 met at the Town Hall Grill for the Early Bird Dinner. We had a limited menu, which forced me to branch out and order something other than their wonderful fried oysters, which was a good thing. We all started out with a fantastic salad. It had a light coating of vinaigrette dressing. Some of the other conference attendees didn't think there was enough dressing, but I thought it was just right. The salad had surprisingly good tomatoes for winter, cucumbers, pitted kalamata olives, greens and fresh mozarella. Excellent. In fact, this was my favorite portion of the meal.

Our possible entrees included a NY Strip, a poblano chile, mussels and snapper and roasted chicken. As you can see, I picked the mussels and snapper. I love mussels, so they are hard to pass up, but the snapper was very good. The tomato sauce and vegetables were also good. I intended to take half of this home to eat at work the next day, but I decided to eat all of it instead.

For dessert, we all had the chocolate ganache cake. This thin slice of chocolate decadence really packed a punch, because it was like eating a chocolate truffle. I took about 3/4 of it home and shared it with the Most Faithful Readers.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Science Online 09

I recently attended the ScienceOnline09 conference, formerly known as the NC Science Blogging Conference. Once again, Anton Zuiker and Bora Zivkovic did a phenomenal job organizing the event, which was hosted by Sigma Xi, in RTP. On Thursday night, the festivities started with an Early Bird dinner at the Town Hall Grill, which I will cover in a separate post. Friday's activities included a coffee cupping at Counter Culture Coffee and lab tours, which I did not attend, since I had to work. Friday night, the Women in Science and Engineering had a networking event that included a talk by Rebecca Skloot on her research concerning the origin of HeLa cells, unknowingly donated by Henrietta Lacks in the 50s.

Saturday and Sunday consisted of a day and a half of sessions, which were primarily discussions in a slight "unconference" fashion. I was thrilled that this year there were two sessions on how science relates to art and scientific illustration. Glendon Mellow, pictured above, did a great job leading two of those sessions. There have been so many technological advances in the ten years since I actively painted scientific illustrations, so learning about some of the techniques and possibilities was certainly inspiring.

I attended multiple sessions on writing and writing for hire and was particularly fascinated by Henry Gee's description of life as a senior editor at Nature. I will never have the academic qualifications for such a position, but just knowing more about how such an esteemed journal functions was certainly educational.

That only barely scratches the surface of the variety of things about which I learned. There were four concurrent sessions, so it was often hard to choose which one I wanted to attend. Other sessions I picked included sessions on Open Access, using Wikipedia for annotating genes and and nature blogging. The conference offered a beautiful selection of opportunities to learn.

Photos from ScienceOnline09 on Flickr.
Blog posts from ScienceOnline09.
Tweets from ScienceOnline09.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Blu Blogging : New Dessert Menu

What dessert is this? Where was this photo taken? Ok, ok. I didn't actually plan this juxtaposition with my previous post, but I do find it amusing. This is Blu Seafood and Bar's newest dessert offering. It's delicious. It's a banana spring roll with ice cream and toasted pecans, chocolate and caramel sauces. This may be my favorite dessert that they've had so far. They've also added the apple strudel that I tried as a special once before.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Mystery Meal

OK, let's have a little fun. What dessert is this? In which restaurant was this photo taken?

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Mount Fuji Blogging : Loving Thursday Nights

I've really been enjoying the 1/2 price sushi at Mount Fuji on Thursday nights. The nicest thing is that it's really half off, rather than buy-one-get-one free, so you can mix rolls and nigiri. The quality has been awesome, too. The scallops have been exquisite, in particular. They've also added a huge new roll menu, which includes a San Fran roll that is equivalent to the Sunset roll at Sushi Love, but the lemon slices are underneath the salmon. Tonight I also tried octopus and giant clam, which were the two wrapped in bands of seaweed. They were good, but I didn't like them as much as the other things.

All of the sushi on the plate cost $28.29, before tax. That's a steal, if you ask me.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

End of the Rainbow

Early this evening, I got a call from Google Earth Evangelist, who said that there was a rainbow outside. She did warn me that it was raining some, but I immediately rushed out and there it was. My photos, as usual, don't do it justice, since it wasn't food, and I suspect it had faded some since she called me. It was still cool, though. I found it amusing that it looked as if at end of the rainbow there was not a pot of gold, but Duke's coal pile.

In fact, the rainbow was huge. It was particularly nifty looking at all this, because the chapel carillon was playing and it was extremely windy.

Meanwhile, the sky was pretty spectacular behind me, too.

Around this time, or perhaps shortly before, a whole bunch of people saw this rainbow or other rainbows and they tweeted about it. John Rees collected all the tweets that linked to a bunch of amazing rainbow photos so you can see them, too.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Mocha Cake

When I was a kid, my Most Faithful Reader's mocha cake was The Best Cake, in my opinion. I would constantly beg her to make it and occasionally she would. I never understood why she wouldn't make it more often. I made it twice right after I started cooking. I didn't feel like making it again until several years later. I finally understood. It's a pain.

It's really good, though.

  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 5 eggs, separated, whites beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • 5 tablespoons strong coffee
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
Cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg yolks, buttermilk, coffee and vanilla. To make the coffee, dissolve as many spoonfuls of instant coffee into a cup of hot water water as you possibly can. or until you get bored. Mix together flour, cocoa and baking soda and then mix into the wet ingredients. Your electric mixer is your friend. Fold in beaten egg whites. Note that you should be using a big bowl, so you don't have to move everything to a larger bowl. Plan ahead.

Pour into two round cake pans and bake at 350F for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from pans. Let cool.

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 teaspoons cocoa
  • 3 tablespoons of that obscenely strong coffee substance
  • 1 box of powdered sugar
This icing recipe just barely (and I mean barely) covers the cake, including icing between the layers. You might want make more. You can always double the recipe and eat what you don't use for dinner.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Busy Making Jewelry

I made a lot of jewelry during the holiday break, which was a refreshing activity. It was fun making this choker.

I didn't notice until I photographed this that the black tubular beads are extremely dark red. Fortunately, you can't tell unless you hold them up to bright light (or photograph them, apparently).

This is the longest necklace I've ever made and I'm really happy with how it turned out. It looks good either doubled up or as a single strand. I was aiming for flamboyant, but still classy, and I think it worked out just fine.

Once the gifts were finished, I made myself some bracelets. I tried out my new experiment of weaving two strands together. The one the left is made of labradorite, so it has aurora borealis-like flashes if the light hits it just right. When I first made that bracelet, I had just finished it completely when I discovered that the clasp was defective and I had to completely re-do it. I'm amazed that's never happened to me before, but you can bet I'll be checking them carefully beforehand from now on.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Taverna Nikos Blogging : New Year's Eve

The Most Faithful Readers and I celebrated the new year early last night, at Taverna Nikos. They had some spectacular specials and I'd been drooling just at the thought of them for weeks.
My 2nd MFR and I started out by sharing a bowl of lobster bisque. It was absolutely full of small pieces of lobster. It was extremely good.

For his entree, my 2nd MFR had a half lobster, which had been cooked in tomatoes, herbs, red wine and brandy and was served with linguine. The few pieces I tried were delicious. My MFR, of course, had her traditional serving of calamari.

I had the slow roasted black pepper and honey encrusted duck breast in a sun dried fig and Mavrodaphne port wine sauce with chestnut risotto, cauliflower, zucchini, carrots and broccoli. I love duck and it's even better combined with slices of fig. The duck and its accoutrements were simply perfect.

Finally, we tried the Galaktoboureko, which was a subtlely-flavored lemon custard, topped with layers phyllo pastry on the top and bottom. I liked it, but I still like the bougatsa, the banana-filled pastry, the best.

We left many hours too early to see the belly dancing and participate in the champagne toast, but I'm sure it was a fun and memorable party. Happy New Year!