Mejillones en salsa verde – Toro Salao

Project 365: Day 114

Happy birthday, Kryan! This morning we were all pretty hung over, lol! We had met a group of friendly lesbians at The George so we ended up drinking with them for most of the time. I had to take Hubbs home last night because he had a little too much fun. I guess Kryan got lucky and didn’t get back to the guesthouse until super late in the morning, slut! It was difficult getting to breakfast downstairs before 10:30 but you can’t pass up a free meal! I was still feeling horrible after breakfast so Hubbs and I walked to Starbucks in the shopping center on Henry Street.

The weather was actually really nice today, yay! We decided to take the green Dublin Bus Tour: Hop On Hop Off around the city since it was our last full day and we wanted a fast convenient mode of transport. It took us to most of the major tourist sites around the city, and guess whom we found stalking us again? Good ol’ Susie Boyle, lol! I think my favorite place we got off at was St. Patrick’s Cathedral. That church is really beautiful!

Omg, the worst place we visited was the Old Jameson Distillery. The tour was a frickin’ joke and an utter rip off! You’re required to take the tour in large groups and listen to a guide who is obviously reciting a script complete with sad, tired jokes. I swear our tour guide was retarded! At first you’re forced to watch a movie (read: a long, blatant Jameson whiskey commercial) then they cram you into these tiny rooms with cheesy miniaturized displays and listen to a bunch of Jameson whiskey propaganda. They even managed to make the whiskey tasting at the end of the tour seem like a chore. DO NOT ever go on this tour! If you want a fun alcohol tour, save yourself some time and go to the Guinness Storehouse instead.

Tonight, I think we’re gonna grab some food then head back to Pantibar and The George. It’s our last night and we need to celebrate Kry’s bday!

Mejillones en salsa verde Toro Salao
Mussels with green pico de gallo. $8
Toro Salao, Old San Juan, PUERTO RICO

Mejillones en salsa verde Toro Salao
The mussels were tender and tasted great with the pico de gallo salsa on top. Very flavorful!

Castillo de San Cristobal San Juan
Looking north towards the water and the Castillo de San Cristobal (San Cristobal Fort). I love the colorful basketball court in the foreground with the random truck parked in front of it.

Taquitos de camarones al ajillo – Toro Salao

Project 365: Day 113

Omg, the bathroom in our room is SO small. I’m not a big guy, but even I feel claustrophobic in it! I wonder how Kryan and David do it!? The complimentary breakfast at the Abbott Lodge Guesthouse is pretty decent. You get coffee, juice, toast, eggs, bacon, sausage, and cereal. The service is kinda slow but there were only 2 older ladies serving all the guests so I don’t want to complain too much.

Today we took a bus to the Guinness Storehouse which is an awesome museum with a great bar (Gravity Bar) at the top of the building. It’s self-guided so you can go at your own pace. I liked the displays and everything was super clean and interesting. We also took the Guinness “Perfect Pour” class and it was actually really cool. I learned a lot about the beer and our instructor was nice and friendly. He was from Michigan though – I would have preferred an local Irishman with a cool accent, hehe. Later in Gravity Bar, we saw none other than Susan Boyle! Omg, that was SO random. I was just about to go politely ask for a photo with her when a group of 15 school kids mobbed her. I was able to snap a blurry photo of her anyway.

Later, we had a late lunch/early dinner at the Bachelor Inn with a decent looking server with straight teeth (lol), then headed back to the guesthouse to relax. I think tonight we’ll hit up Front Lounge for drinks, then The George for a drag show!

Taquitos de camarones al ajillo Toro Salao
Crispy garlic shrimp taco rolls with a citrus aioli. $10
Toro Salao, Old San Juan, PUERTO RICO

Taquitos de camarones al ajillo Toro Salao
These were SO good! They were nice and warm, and perfect with the citrus aioli. Noms!

The Plaza of the Heritage of the Americas
The Plaza of the Heritage of the Americas with sculptures by Jose Buscaglia. Statues from left to right: Heritage of Faith, bronze, 9’ high, 1975; Heritage of Blood, bronze, 9’ high, 1976; Intellectual Heritage, bronze, 9’ high, 1975; Hispanic Heritage, bronze, 9’ high, 1995.

Toro sangria – Toro Salao

Project 365: Day 112

Wow, it’s been a long day! We’re finally in Dublin, but we spent most of the day waiting in London Heathrow Airport. That’s a damn large airport! Once we cleared customs, we probably spent 20 minutes walking to Terminal 1. They do things differently at that airport. Gates aren’t announced until about 30 minutes prior to boarding so you have to just wait there and keep checking the screens until your flight information is updated. I guess it makes sense to do it that way to accommodate for gate changes, but it just seems weird not knowing the gate number beforehand so you can at least be in the general vicinity. Once we finally got our gate number, we had to book it to get to what seemed like another terminal. We even had to go through another set of security!

Anyway, we’re just chilling in the room right now and drinking cocktails with vodka I had brought from the States. We’re gonna head out for dinner soon, then have drinks at Pantibar afterward since it’s somewhat nearby. Ryan and David arrived earlier today so they’ve had a little time to look around before we got in. It’s raining a little bit outside, but we’re not gonna let that put a damper on our spirits!

Toro sangria Toro Salao

Red wine with Bacardi rum, brandy, orange liquor, lemon-lime juice, orange juice and mixed fruits. Media jarra (small pitcher) $24
Toro Salao, Old San Juan, PUERTO RICO

This sangria was very tasty! It had a deep, rich flavor and was the perfect beverage for our last morning in San Juan!

Old San Juan Cemetery
Looking towards the Cementerio de San Juan (Old San Juan Cemetery) and the Castillo San Felipe del Morro (Morro Castle).

Cuarto Sombras panini – Cafe Cuatro Sombras

Project 365: Day 111

I’m at SFO International Terminal A with Hubbs and waiting to board our Virgin Atlantic flight to LHR. Yippee! The flight is 9+ hours long so I’m gonna have plenty of movie-watching time. I’m SO glad it’s a direct flight. We arrive in London tomorrow morning but have to wait at the airport for our afternoon connection to Dublin on British Midland International. SO excited!

Cafe Cuatro Sombras panini
Black forest ham, lettuce, tomato, recao and cilantrillo mayo with a garlic and cheese spread on an olive oil bread. Served with potato chips. $7.50
Cafe Cuatro Sombras, Old San Juan, PUERTO RICO

Leave it to a cafe to deliver some of the better food we had in Old San Juan. This panini was delicious. Otherwise, San Juan was a food bust for the most part.

Iced lattes Cafe Cuatro Sombras
16 ounce iced latte. $3.75

Corned beef – Local Mission Eatery

Project 365: Day 110

Argh, I totally don’t wan’t to be at work today! It’s kind of a waste to work on a Monday since I’m leaving for Europe tomorrow. My flight isn’t until 4pm, but I took the entire day off because I just want time to relax and make sure that I’ve packed everything I need. I tried searching for my electrical outlet adaptor earlier but I couldn’t find it. Oh well, I know that Hubbs is bringing one. Why aren’t outlets standardized across all countries, anyway? Geez!

Corned beef Local Mission Eatery
With poached eggs and beer braised cabbage. $12
Local Mission Eatery, San Francisco CA

Corned beef Local Mission Eatery
The corned beef was super tender and flavorful and I loved the sourness of the beer braised cabbage. The eggs were poached medium, as requested by David, lol! I don’t know why people even order poached eggs if they don’t like them runny! They’re missing out. 🙂

Rudolph Valentino house 1926, Roosevelt Way

Former Rudolph Valentino house, Roosevelt Way. I’ve walked by this beautiful house in the Upper Market Terrace neighborhood many times, but didn’t know that it had previously belonged to the silent film star, Rudolph Valentino, in 1926 according to the plaque in front. Apparently, that’s also the year he died. 😦

Crab noodle salad – Dragonfly

Project 365: Day 109

It’s finally hitting me that I’m leaving for Europe in a couple of days! I’m still doing all my laundry and planning all my outfits, hehe. What sucks is that it’s going to be raining the entire time that we’re there. It’ll be fun traveling Hubbs. This will only be his second time outside the US. After this trip, I’ll have been to 20 countries. I know that’s not a lot, but I’m still happy that I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to travel.

Crab noodle salad Dragonfly
Crab and seaweed salad tossed with glass noodles and chili garlic sauce. $10
Dragonfly, Old San Juan, PUERTO RICO

Another disappointment. There was almost no crab in there, and the seaweed made everything too slimey. I thought maybe the glass noodles would balance out the slime, but they didn’t. Yuck!

Crecimiento Monument San Juan

Crecimiento Monument along the Paseo de la Princesa. These spike-like sculptures erupting from the ground look dramatic against the old city walls.

Chicken velvet – Benu

Project 365: Day 108

Omg, the weather is still SO warm, sunny, and perfect. I went to the gym this morning, got my hair cut, picked up some Euros from the bank, caught up with DVR, and now just sitting on my balcony to blog (and pay bills, ew). It’s been a perfect day! I think I’ll go for a light run before dinner. It’s days like this when I feel so blessed and happy to be where I’m at in life. I do miss my honey, but he’ll be back from his conference on Monday.

Chicken velvet Benu

With abalone, abalone mushroom, and chrysanthemum. Pre fixe dinner $180
Benu, San Francisco

Another first! When this arrived, I asked “Where’s the chicken?” I’d never had chicken velvet before so I didn’t know where to look, hehe. I’ve subsequently read that chicken velvet is usually fried or poached in oil, then reheated through in a hot broth. I’m not sure if this velvet was ever fried, it didn’t taste like it, but it was definitely velvet-y and oh so delicious. The soup broth in this dish was also very delicious. And I loved the combination of abalone and abalone mushrooms. Fun!

Chicken velvet Benu

Homemade glutinous rice cakes – Benu

Project 365: Day 107

Yay, I’m back in San Francisco! And apparently, the weather has been frickin’ amazing. It’s the early evening and it’s still very warm outside. Ah, how I’ve missed you, my home! Whenever I get back from a trip, I always crave certain food. The first thing I did when I got back was order delivery from Mission Chinese Food. I needed something spicy and with punch-you-in-the-face flavor, and MCF always does it for me.

Honestly, I shouldn’t be eating again since I had a large and delicious brunch buffet at Wicked Spoon in The Cosmopolitan this morning. I was hungry again at the airport so I had a Whopper Jr. from Burger King. Argh, I can’t believe I did that!

Homemade glutinous rice cakes Benu

With pine nut, pumpkin, black truffle, garnished with flat leaf parsley. Pre fixe dinner $180
Benu, San Francisco

Wow, this dish was amazing! It was like a pumpkin gnocchi. The texture was different, but the flavors were warm, delicious, Italian. I loved that this wasn’t what I expected when I read the description. “Glutinous rice” doesn’t conjure up Italy in my mind, but I was pleasantly surprised. Everything work perfectly together and the flavors were absolutely spot on! Noms!

Homemade glutinous rice cakes Benu

Foie gras xiao long bao – Benu

Project 365: Day 106

It’s the last day of the conference, phew! We have classes until 1 pm and then we’re free. I’m flying home tomorrow so I’m going use this evening to decompress and eat, lol. I think I’ll head to The Palazzo and grab a late lunch at Sushi Samba. My roommate usually stays at that hotel and likes that place for sushi. For dinner, I’m gonna try Firefly off The Strip then hang out at a bar nearby. I’ve spent way too much on this trip when I should have been saving for my Europe trip next week. 😦

Foie gras xiao long bao Benu

Shanghai soup dumplings filled with foie gras. Pre fixe dinner $180
Benu, San Francisco

Meh, this was ok. I guess it was nicely cooked, but it was hard to locate the foie gras especially if you were dipping the dumpling in the vinegar sauce. I dont’ even know how the foie gras was incorporated. There was definitely a meat mixture inside, but I’m not sure if the foie was part of that or part of the soup. Anyway, one of my dumplings had a tear on the bottom so the soup had dripped to the bottom of the bowl. Lame.

Foie gras xiao long bao Benu

Eel, feuille de brick – Benu

Project 365: Day 105

I’m learning a lot at this conference – mostly about labor laws and conflict resolution. There’s a lot of information being thrown at us and I’m trying to take in as much as I can. I ran over to The Bellagio and had lunch at Todd English’s Olives. We were only given a short lunch today, so I barely made it back to the conference on time. We have a reception this evening where they will be providing basic drinks and oeur d’oeuvres. I think that since I’ve been pigging out way too much this trip, I’ll attend that and forgo having dinner afterward.

Eel, feuille de brick Benu

With creme fraiche and lime. Pre fixe dinner $180
Benu, San Francisco

Ok, let’s just call this an eel cigarette! This wrapped eel dish was really small, but tasty nonetheless. It was difficult to get a really nice eel flavor since there was only a sliver of it inside the feuille de brick. I appreciated the delicateness of it especially since its fried.

Eel, feuille de brick Benu

It looks like a smiley face!

Creme fraiche and lime Benu

Creme fraiche and lime.

Monkfish liver – Benu

Project 365: Day 104

The conference began today, and I’m both excited and dreading it. There’s people from all over the country and let me just say that the wardrobe is across the board. There are people in shorts and sandals, and there are others (like myself) in pressed slacks and dress shirts. It’s also during times like these that I wish I worked at a place where they can at least afford to provide coffee during breaks, hehe. The coffee in the lobby costs nearly $5 and doesn’t taste very good. I ran over to Caesars Palace to grab lunch at the bar at Mesa Grill. I’m not a huge fan of Bobby Flay, but I wanted to give his restaurant a go. It was pretty good and the bar service was friendly and expedient.

I kind of got carried away after the conference. I went for an early drink (Manhattan) and snacks (clam chowder and raw oysters) at P.J. Clarke’s, then went with a colleague for a full-on dinner at Grand Lux Cafe. Suffice it to say that I totally over-ate! Ugh, I have NO self-control when it comes to food.

Monkfish liver Benu

With caviar, pistachio, cauliflower, lemon jelly, and brioche. Pre fixe dinner $180
Benu, San Francisco

This was a very decadent course. It tasted great, but it was definitely on the heavy side. I’m still not sure what all the components were. The green crumbles were dried pistachio, but I’m not sure what the green blob was – it didn’t taste like lemon jelly. The orange disc was the monkfish liver. I got one! 🙂

Monkfish liver Benu

So many components, so little time (and tummy space, hehe)!

Brioche Benu

Brioche. So rich and buttery.

Oyster, pork belly, kimchi – Benu

Project 365: Day 103

Today I flew to Las Vegas to attend a work conference which starts tomorrow. I’ll admit that I’m not a big fan of Vegas as a vacation destination. I don’t like the majority of tourists and everything is ridiculously overpriced. Vegas is a place that I can’t truly relax, even poolside. There’s inevitably going to be a bunch of douche-y college kids (and adults for that matter) partying it up WAY too hard in a trashy way. Oh well, what can you do? To each he’s own. It makes for AMAZING people watching though. Besides the conference, I’m going to try and focus on the food to keep me busy. I don’t have any plans tonight but I’ll probably hit up Secret Pizza at The Cosmopolitan for a quick bite, then head to a local bar off The Strip to relax and take the edge off.

Oyster, pork belly, kimchi Benu

Pre fixe dinner $180
Benu, San Francisco

Every dish at Benu has so many ingredients that it’s often difficult to know what every component is or how it’s incorporated into the dish. This was the second course, and I’m gonna say that it was one of my favorites! This small bite was presented on a wooden pedestal and you’re urged to eat it quickly because the warm filling might melt through the thin cellophane-y container. As proof of my ignorance, I’m still not sure where the kimchi was in this, hehe.

Oyster, pork belly, kimchi Benu

Beautiful and delicious!

Lavash bread Benu

Lavash bread. Complimentary