Sushi. I can’t get enough of it. When I was little, my mom and dad would take me along with them when they went out for sushi. They would get sashimi, rolls, and nigiri, while little Nicole would nom on chicken teriyaki bento boxes and feed the fish kept in a fountain in the middle of the restaurant. One day, when I was seven I think, I asked to taste a piece of yellowtail nigiri. Game over. From that point on, I began my life-long love affair with sushi.
When I was growing up, sushi was a special treat we would eat once a month or when celebrating a special event (because hey, it is once expensive treat for a kid). Sometime during college I started to indulge in sushi a little too frequently, a habit that has unfortunately stuck with me. But since my budget doesn’t really allow for eating out as often as I once did, I thought that making sushi at home would be a fun, cheap, and delicious date night activity.
Yummy fillings. We used crab meat, carrots, cucumbers, and avocado. This is where things can be expensive (I think a can of real crab meat will run you between $10-15!
Cook your sushi rice according to directions on the package.
After your rice is done, season with rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. We used 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 teaspoons of salt, and 1/4 cup of rice vinegar for 3 cups of rice (but measurements vary depending on preference). Heat up the combination to dissolve the sugar and salt and pour over cooked rice.
Lay the nori (seaweed) on your bamboo mat, shiny side down.
Use your small bowl to wet your fingers and grab enough rice to spread out over about 3/4 of the seaweed.
Add your fillings! Use enough fillings to cover about 1/3 of the rice you’ve added to your mat.
Roll your sushi! Hold the fillings in place with your index fingers and gently roll the mat away from you. I like to give the mat some light pressue to make sure that I’ve rolled it up nice and tight. Keep rolling (rearranging the mat each time so that you never roll over the top of mat) until everything is all rolled up.
During my time in Kyoto I had some of the most delicious food imaginable. Yummy soups and fried tempura, refreshing shaved ice topped with red beans, the best ramen I have ever had, and my first experience with conveyor belt sushi. View Post
Tokyo has always been at the top of my ‘must visit’ list. Maybe it comes from my complete obsession with Sailor Moon or my undying love for sushi; regardless I had to get there.
In June of 2011, Matt’s step brother got married in Korea. Since we were going to be on the other side of the world anyway, we figured that a trip to another country was necessary. Although I had been dying to go to Japan, the earthquake had recently hit and we weren’t sure how safe it would be. So instead, we looked into China.
If you’re planning on going to China, plan ahead. Because, yeah, we did not and were not able to get visas in time. Oops. After some reconsideration, Japan was beginning to look like a reality.
The original plan was to stay in Tokyo for about 3 or 4 days but that got pushed down to 2 – we were in Kyoto first and decided to extend our time there by a few days. We basically spent all of our time in Tokyo eating, drinking and being stared at by the locals.
The highlight of the trip was going to the Tsukiji Fish Market. Unfortunately we were not able to see the actual auction (it had been closed to the public due to the earthquake) but the most amazing, fresh sashimi I had ever had certainly made up for that. We waited in line for more than 1 hour, ordered about 10 minutes before we were allowed to go inside and then were ushered into a small restaurant (fit about 10-12 people around a bar) where we crammed freshly caught deliciousness into our mouths as quickly as we could so the next people could get in. Truly a wonderfully unique experience.
If you haven’t seen the Portlandia sketch Put A Bird On It, please do so. Immediately. Your day is about to seriously improve. Every time I visit Portland, I fall even more in love with the city. The people are wonderful, the food is delicious (and everyrestaurant has vegetarian or vegan potions), bikes rule the roads and the weather is not 100 degrees, unlike at home. What’s not to love? Oh, the fact that it gets pretty rainy there? Well, every time I have gone to Portland it has been BEAUTIFUL, so I live in a fantasy world where Portland is constantly a sunny 75 degrees.
Warning, this post gets a bit picture heavy from this point on.
Since I gained about 5 pounds eating/drinking my way through Portland, Matt and I decided to go on a little hike out at Eagle Creek. We were a bit short on time so we kept the hike to about 8 miles instead of doing the whole trail. And of course I took them pictures.
What an interesting city, yeah? Somehow I both love and hate Las Vegas, and I have a feeling that I’m not the only one. When combined, the bright lights, loud music, semi delicious food, going out clothes, and excessive alcohol (don’t pretend like you don’t drink in Vegas) create the perfect frenemy. Sure Vegas is a blast in the moment, but it isn’t until you’re eating brunch at a greasy buffet the next day that you realize just how badly you’d like to go back home.
Or go back out that night.
Not even the pool is a safe zone. At first I love sitting down by the pool with friends, a can of beer, and my book that I’ve brought down with every intention to read (I swear) but soon realize does a much better job of making sure my towel doesn’t blow away. And then I notice the overly tan bros pounding beers two at a time, and girls in tiny bikinis in a caged, raised platform in the middle of the pool dancing in a way that lets everyone know that 1) she knows she is hot, & 2) she really doesn’t give a f**k. This all leaves me second guessing my relationship with the Las Vegas hotel pool. Classic frenemy.
But despite the cruel ways of Las Vegas, I keep crawling going back. Before last weekend, I promised myself that this trip would be different. Okay, mostly because I was going to a bachelorette party and wedding, but nonetheless, it was going to be different. And it was! For example… 1) I traded in going out to a club for a nice, classy, wine bar for my friend’s bachelorette party. I’m a changed women. This wine bar, however, was closely followed by driving around the strip for 2 hrs in an SUV limo with a couple of bottles of champagne, which closely resembles my Vegas Halloween of 2009. But since there was about 3 years in between those events, I’m going to ignore that I had done it before. That is how it works, right?
2) I gambled. For real money. At the backjack table with two guys that were having a hard time. I, on the other hand, walked away with a little extra spending cash. This is very different than my normal non-gambling days
3) One word: Buffet. I hate them. But for some reason, it just seemed like the right thing to do Saturday morning afternoon.
4) Missed a fountain show at the Bellagio. The picture above is from my last trip. I can’t even talk about it.
And the good ol’ Vegas that I love: 1) Pizza for breakfast AND dinner….two days in a row. 2) Pool time. Thank you, Vegas 3) Immediately regretting the heels I just needed to wear every night. 4) Drinking champagne in a limo around the Strip for a couple of hours. You’re right, this item totally belonged on this list
5) Waking up with legs so sore from dancing that getting out of a chair is the hardest task of the day / the realization that I am out of shape
6) Spending time with some of my favorite people. Because if nothing else, Vegas is a place that unites people. And I kind of love it.
Our beautiful view of the Strip during our dinner at Sushi Roku, inside Caesar’s Palace
Until next time, sweet frenemy.
Dear Laguna Beach: Yesterday I made you my office. But similar to working in my home office, I was less productive than I would have liked. It is impossible to not nap when it is 85 degrees and I have the beautiful sound of crashing waves smoothing me asleep. Dear Big Brother (yes, you, you trashy television show): Today almost belonged to you. I received a sweet, sweet email Wednesday informing me that I had finally scored tickets to the Live Eviction show on Thursday. FINALLY. But I had promised Matt that I’d take a trip out to Laguna, and the beach was truly calling my name. So back to the waiting list I go. Please select me again soon … like finale night! Since that is exactly what happened to me last year with So You Think You Can Dance, I would love a repeat of luck. Dear Sunshine: You and I are golden. If you could keep your temp under 100, that would be awesome. Dear Beer: While I would never do this at home, you taste so much … tastier from a paper cup and straw while I’m hiding you from the beach patrol. Dear Laguna Beach: Remember what a fantastic show you were? And then the Hills and the City. Those were the good old days. Dear Birds of the Beach: Step off. I brought a sammie for me, and nobody else. Maybe you forget that I’m an only child and sharing food is not one of my strengths. Dear Orange Umbrella: You so pretty. But you also refused to stay put, and hit me and the neighbors THREE times. Perhaps you shall stay home next beach trip. Dear Self: Thanks to the sun, you now smell like sunshine. And it is lovely. Dear Summer: Thank you. Please come again soon. And now, my scenes from my Thursday office.
We also made a quick trip to Hapi Sushi on Beach Street (we had to stop there or else we would have hit rush hour traffic, you understand). The overall atmosphere and food was pretty good, but the service was only mediocre (although I doubt that would stop me from going again).
Beach day, plus sushi … what more could a girl ask for? Oh, Laguna, please don’t be a stranger.
ps, you can also see a little sponsor spot about me on Alice’s blog, the Mow Way. Thanks, Alice!
Here are six things that are making me smile this Monday:
Smile #1: We recently had a friend stay with us a few nights while she was in the process of moving. As a way of saying thanks, she left us this cute salt and pepper shaker set.
Smile #2: When I arrived at my mother’s house Thursday, I found these little gifts waiting on the nightstand (minus the glasses and keys). The Pike Place cook book is perfect since we just got back from Seattle.
Smile #3: Every time I head up to the Bay Area, I make it a point to visit my favorite sushi restaurant, Shogun. In all honesty, the only sushi that I’ve had that tops their quality was in Tokyo, at the Tsukiji Fish Market.
Smile #4: Seeing this dog makes me smile like no other. Roz is 15 and the most lovable dog there is.
Smile #5: This is my great grandmother. She’s 98 and wonderful, and puts the biggest smile on my face. Did I mention that she’s 98?!
Smile #6: This Monday, I’m smiling because I was able to witness my friend from high school marry the man of her dreams in the most beautiful ceremony I have ever seen. Congratulations!