Sunday, January 27, 2008

utterly epic.

last night was one of those unbelievable life experiences, time stopping and racing by at once with friends and strangers and a spectacular feeling of freedom. its instance of sheer glory is only rivaled by only by a few very memorable events, including going insane during guy boratto's live set at metropolis in montreal for mutek 2007 and one life-changing party i attended at harvard co-op. times like this make me remember again why i love boston... i saw so many people i'm met from all sorts of layers in my life: stages as student, editor, outgoing and upright citizen.

emf. unbelievable.

at times when i get itchy to leave the city, somehow boston manages to reel my heart and sentiment right back in. eight years, an investment that's blooming uncontrollably.

i wonder, if at age 18 i saw how my life were to be at age 25, if i would have even believed myself. this is how things have become, how life has recaptured the magic that never seemed possible. it's a wonderful yet vulnerable thing. how much more can i look forward to in the coming years?

hopefully much more than i could ever comprehend. there is so much love, and i can only but embrace it fully.

notable five in 2007: food edition

Sunday, January 13, 2008

a curious last few days: a healthy dose of tummy gratification interspersed with meetups (coincidental and non-) with college friends and a necessary tending-to of the laundry/grocery/clean variety.

saturday afternoon i got to meet the ocean of new, shiny faces that can only belong to the plucky legions we call 'dig interns'. heh. after i came home and showered and creatively (i.e. with the seat of my pants) threw together a deconstructed guacamole out of my last boston organics delivery, my friend sam (of harvard, mit and the requisite array of collegiate asian-american activities) called me up out of the blue to, naturally, eat something delicious. i took advantage of the fact that he has a car (wow, technological breakthrough) so we headed to sichuan gourmet in honey-baked-ham framingham. we drowned our desires for spicy chinese food with the following: a starter cold dish of wood-ear mushrooms (think floppy flowery mushrooms with the soft chewy wet texture of seaweed) tossed gorgeously with scallions, cilantro and tiny slices of small red peppers; heaps of gangou dry-fried fish fillets topped with an amazingly complex chili-oiled mix of green onions, garlic, peppers and fermented black beans; chengdu spicy style lamb with various greens and the most tender (tenderized? fatty? miraculous?) meat i have experienced in recent memory; and soothing sides of shanghainese green vegetables and white rice to balance the stupendous hotttttness happening on the table. there was the requisite nose-blowing, but the flavors were so rich and nuanced along with the spice and not a merely straight-on dumb heat. i'm so glad i got to finally visit one of these places that i usually only read (and drool) about on chowhound. for the next suburban sichuan destination: red pepper!

today has been a smattering of getting some work out of the way, but this morning's straightforward errand-running in davis square had a wonderfully unexpected twist. not only was the weather absolutely stunning (a warmth and light that rarely peeks through at this point in january), i noticed little things usually overlooked (the robbins smoke shop and convenience store which i hope doesnt shut down due to the new cvs; a specifically advertised brand-new timbuk2 bag in the window of goodwill) and i ran into my friend john who i've known since college and is now finishing up his math ph.d. at mit. we always bump into each other out and about in cambridge or somerville, almost always in a cafe where he gets his studying done. even more encouraging, we're now practically somervillian neighbors. small surprising things like this brighten my day in a way that few things do. i may have lived in boston for an insane amount of time (i'm on my 8th year, folks), but small-town coincidences like this never get old.

ok, i'll stop with the unicorns and rainbows now.

(just kidding.)

i meant to go running but now the sky is dark and i'm a bit paranoid since i dont have reflective gear. i can has gym session monday morning? the kickboxing bootcamp i signed up for begins this week, so see you soon with my sick, sweaty PYTHONS and fierce, twichy jabs. :)

alright, without further ado, here are yummy things from 2007. (i never specified *which* weekend i'd update my notable picks, which supposedly should mitigate my embarrassment at being tardy...)

#1: everything at o ya

tristan and i died and went to heaven at our wonderfully luxurious meal here, overwhelmed by the sheer amount of detail that went into the food and how much complexity could be squeezed into such concentrated bites. it's an upscale modern japanese "tavern" with small plates, the precious prices and wonderful sake sommeliering juxtaposed with a modest location and beach boys on the muzak. we had only but a few plates from the lengthy, dense menu, but the ones i remember most vividly are the chanterelle and shiitake sashimi and an uni-topped mound of deliciousness. i hope that we can experience this restaurant at least once during 2008... it's an undeniable splurge but extremely, fittingly so.

#2: paired cheese with cocktails at no 9 park

i apologize for the total lack of detail regarding this occasion (i wasn't taking notes, surprisingly) but it still was extremely notable and begs for a return investigation. john gertsen, bar manager at the moneyed no 9 keeps it real on tuesday and saturday evenings, eager to share philosophies behind his newest concoctions and veritable history lessons on the classics. we were enjoying some of seasonal cocktails and the restaurant's resident cheese expert came out with an array of cheeses matched specially to "pair well with our cocktails." she explained each one, the names and origins which escape me now, but the cheeses were like nothing i had ever had before: one unbelievably saturated with nutty walnut undertones; another with a rind immersed in red wine; and the third insanely rich and creamy. it was remarkable to try them in tandem, a pairing of flavor profiles that never even occured to me before. no 9 park is also a rare, occasional splurge (even when not eating) but this experience truly blew my mind.

#3: red beet salad and endives with soft goat cheese at petit robert bistro

even for the couple times i've actually dined at this restaurant, i love the french atmosphere and truly authentic dishes (e.g. andouillette or tripes provençales). also, the basket of bread (allegedly imported from montreal) is incredible. this particular occasion was the last class of the language course i was taking at the french library, so we could practice our conversation in a real-world environment. although the restaurant's not particular cher i didnt want to spend too much on dinner, so i decided on just this salad (after my aperitif of lillet blanc, bien sur). i wish i had a real photograph of the dish, because the composition of the salad was surprisingly chic, with layers of ruby, white, and green melding beautifully--both visually and on the tongue. tangy chevre paired with beety earthiness and bitter endives, not to mention the melange of textures (plump, crisp, creamy) transfixing my smitten thoughts.

#4: curry mee soup at penang

because of the dig's proximity to chinatown, at least in the cooler months i almost always go there for lunch for a hearty bowl of noodle soup. i rotate between pho pasteur, pho hoa, suishaya, and penang most frequently, but i will never forget the day i tried the curry mee. (i even called my mom because it was such a revelation). Description reads: "Rice & egg noodle with eggplant, bitter melon & tofu stuffed with minced fish served in a clear chicken broth or spicy curry broth." but it's so much more... i wax a bit more eloquently in my year-end soup roundup in the dig.

#5: truffled polenta logs at the savant project

you can't eat too many of these, or else one might become physically more a log than desired, but it's a worthy challenge of restraint. i never really was a polenta enthusiast, but these things truly turned me around. mission hill's sharp newcomer savant project serves their signature finger-shaped wads of crisp, fried cheesy polenta infused with the unmistakable essence of truffle, to be dipped into a glassful of creamy decadence. you sigh, dip, and sigh some more. the classy fragrant snackers get their own little shoutout in the savant project's review in the dig.

honorable mentions: the tiny perfect burger at dante, the jamaican jerk chicken sandwich at red bones, brunchy things at renee's cafe, the one perfect rib at east coast grill, nuclear tacos at sxsw, clams + chorizo at casa portugal, kobe hamburger at squealing pig, the list goes on...

yummmmmmiez. please tell me other things i can't bear to miss out on!

i'm sure all this eating is making you thirsty, so upcoming: notable five in the libationary category!

notable five in 2007: home decor + design edition

Friday, January 04, 2008

yippee with an extra two sparkle stars: my website is finally transferred over (with thanks to nick for putting up with my technological fuss), so now i can actually edit the pages with more up-to-date information. wow, i am so getting used to this internet thing. ;) relevant content, here i come...

although i'm not one to change my profile photo on facebook every weekend (i think mine still stems from fall 2006), it's good to give a good fresh start to things after a good while, lest one ends up like the ageless marilyn vos savant.


anyway, let's get on with the 2007 notables. i absolutely hate moving and try to minimize stuffffffffff, but it's amazing how much small, well-designed objects can make a significant impact on living. (not to mention sleeping and eating and breathing and...)

#1: ingenuiTEA teapot from adagio teas (gift from mom)

call me paranoid, but it seriously took me a good ten minutes to poke around and actually put utter faith in its workings. how, indeed, would it know when to brew quietly with no chance for spillage, and when to eject its tea-leaf-infused waters into a waiting vessel? the last thing i wanted was a kitchen countertop glazed in boiling water, but of course my worries were all for naught. this thing is MAGIC. my former methods such as tea balls or blank tea bags for loose tea seemed so quaint compared to this system... you just brew, place the thing on a cup, watch the tea get 'peed' from the pot (seriously, i can't think of any other metaphor); the leaves are left inside to enjoy 2nd or 3rd brewings. the tea spurts into mugs, my media lab pint glass, whatever cups are lying around. only caveat: you can't use it on wide-mouthed mugs. but otherwise, it's a fantastic little tool.

#2: tangiers tile sheet set from urban outfitters

i rotate two sheet sets throughout my sleeping/laundering patterns, and one set sourced from when i was in college (i think i bought it secondhand too; you can go 'ew' now) was really looking worse for wear. ergo, time for a replacement to supplement my neutral ikea sheets. i've never indulged in such graphic sheet sets (i've been tempted, but i always dread the less expensive ones will be itchy or thin), but these were on sale at urban. so i made the plunge. and now i relish in my favorite color, bright green, as it cocoons me all night! luckily, they've surpassed my humble expectations and are putting up with use quite nicely.

#3: silicone zone strainer from target

i have the red one, and the soft silicone allows it to smoosh flat. which means, of course, the better to squish it in the jumbly pots and pans cabinet, flattened against the lids or wedged in a lonely corner. the bright color and rubbery texture make straining pasta and veggies that much more fun (sad but true); it wins alone on a tangible level, but the collapsible form is supernice.

#4: totoro plush susa-atari from tokai (gift from tristan)

this gets a warm-fuzzy prize of tenderness; tristan gave this to me on our first datey kind of night (although i suppose officially we were still friends) as we got gussied up for an unparalleled dinner at o ya, followed by a chill-out session at les zyg. a leather district fantasy, one might say. but this little fur ball on a suction cup makes my days a little brighter, as he hangs out on a window or any glossy surface in my bedroom. now he greets me in the mirror every morning in his curious and black-foofy way.

#5: kitchenaid citrus juicer from target

although i would kill for an antique cast-iron juicer (it'll come in time), this gadget's been super handy for extracting juice from fresh lemons, limes and oranges, and the shiny chrome surface not only is handsome and easy to clean, it matches perfectly with my classic stainless steel boston shaker. it's not the most efficient thing for, say, making a gallon of lemonade, but for cocktails and marinades and desserts it does the extraction deed with solid performance.

so, perhaps this edition was not so glamourous, but i have all the respect for intelligent industrial design. (and how!)

coming up this weekend: notable dishes eaten in boston (or otherwise) in 2007! i'll give you a hint: at least one is spicy :)

we're halfway there

Thursday, January 03, 2008

woooooooAOOAAAAAAAAHHHHHH LIVIN' ON A PRAYER! is up and at 'em while seems to be having the sniffles. patience and kind words and the occasional latte might be what the doctor ordered. is getting some "work" "done"

no cause for alarm (just yet); i'm switching my website,, to another server (yippee! it's been about time to cut my umbilical cord from ye olde alma mater). though the site's out of commission right now, wayward issues should be cleared up by the end of the day.

i'll just pretend that all the kids at look like this:

notable five in 2007: beauty and skincare edition

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

ok, so i pretty much use the same cosmetic regime again and again, but i do have to confess that 'routine' doesnt always mean 'mundane.' (just pretend those two words rhyme in your head.)

here we go...

notable five things in 2007 new to christine's beauty + skincare regime

#1: cleanser from earth science

so i've done everything from neutrogena to shu uemura cleansing oils and back. i tried earth science's formula on a lark when it was on sale on whole foods (at which i'm not necessarily a diehard fan), and it turned out to be the best cleanser for my skin in a long, long time. i tend to break out here and there, but peeling skin is not my idea of a walk in the park. this cleanser has definitely helped me clear up, yet keep a balance and lasts for a while without breaking the bank. you can purchase it from whole foods to cambridge naturals, and at least for me, it's a true-to-form investment. i don't think i can go back to anything out there, at least just yet. i'm sensitive yet oily, and this has been a lifesaver.

#2: facial moisturizer with spf 15 from earth science

so i've gotten on the moisturizer bandwagon, doing it religiously morning and night. however, this has been the best so far in the spf + moisture category, since it goes on light and doesn't leave a film afterwards. it doesn't get weird if i start sweating or put on makeup or anything (you know the ones that ball up or discolor or go completely SNAFU when you layer it, right?). it may be because it's the same manufacturer of my cleanser, but whatever the case, it does the duty well and good. i tried many a spf-moisturizer combination and gotten burned so many times. this, again, is my salvation.

#3: h.i.p. cosmetics from l'oreal

i've realized, both from traveling overseas and talking with people who've worked from the international corporation (hi, matt!) that l'oreal is a serious brand that pretty much got short-changed in the US. everywhere else in the world, it's a luxury department store brand to be reckoned with; but here in the US, it's a battle against everything else in CVS. the h.i.p. eye shadow pairings are nothing less but genius, and they stand the testament against the urban plight. namely, they are intense for a long period of time. plus, the products are just as good as shu uemura (at least on the surface; they have the same motherbrand) and a million times cheaper (i still love you, shu!) not to mention, beyoncé and scarlett johannsen have been pretty smokin' spokesmodels.

#4: vincent longo velvet riche rejuvenating lipstick in 'dakota red'

i don't do it often, but when i do, it's fierce. *red*. i got this for free at some gift-baggy sort of event, but i've held onto this tightly as it gives a girl some imminent danger. a blue-ish red goes better for me than a brick or orange-y kind of tint; i feel drawn to it when either holidays or diffcult times come upon me. war paint, it is determined.

#5: TIE: lumene arctic touch exfoliating cleansing cream from cvs and laura mercier's oil-free foundation from beauty and main

so the exfoliator has really been an uplifting aspect of 2007, but i fear that it has been discontinued in the beauty line for CVS. as a finnish company, it really has the natural-beauty-euro-cleansing luxury to it, but the arctic touch line is awesome because you really fantastize about lying in a hottub in scandanavia as you spread the cloudberry extract all over your face. it's not too rough, but still gives a good scrub; the blue color and delicious scent really make it worth your while. i would give a thumbs up to the rest of line, at least for its natural/scientific skincare bent.

laura mercier's foundation has been steadfast throughout the harsh boston winter, tempering my shine without going overboard on the skin-drying. i feel flush and happy, versus matte and ghastly, and as long as i apply with a sponge (as instructed) i think that i'll look lovely and natural as long as this vanilla-beige bottle follows through.


coming up tomorrow: notable five in home decor and design!

notable five in 2007: wardrobe edition

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

lots of quality time snoozing in bed could be seen as a good way to start off the year. (not to mention a tidy plate of toast, eggs, and ketchuppy home fries.)

to jump start 2008, let's revisit a few choice items in cmliu-land in 2007, shall we? the next few entries will be going down the notable five in various categories that are completely subjective and as fickle as the fingers that type it so. it'll span everything from eats and drinks to homeware design, from live concerts to books and articles. but today, in perfectly materialist form, will be...

notable five things in 2007 new to christine's wardrobe

those who know me can attest that my inventory is modest (i tend to work creative rotations of layerable pieces from h+m and tall boots), and my means ever more so (writers aren't especially equipped to coup any semblance of medium- or high-end design), but i'm happy that i've managed to collect a few items of pride. i'm always trying to follow the dictum to acquire few pieces of high quality instead of many pieces of low quality. for the sake of sartorial sanity, i think i've done a bang up job.

#1: charcoal 'maid in form' bag by tano, special ordered from lunaboston

it took me forever and a half to find a replacement for my former do-everything-everywhere shoulder bag, a black canvas zip-top number by ordning & reda that i got in vienna a few summers ago. with a tall list of requirements (big enough to hold the latest issue of new york magazine plus a sweater, not so big that it becomes a bother, a zipper top is a MUST HAVE, has to go from daytime to evening, needs to last through constant beating, etc) it seemed i would never find something that fit both my lifestyle and my budget. (have you seen the pricetags at barney's? it's painful.) but tano, with its sumptuous leathers and quality handiwork, seemed to fit the bill. oh, what agony in the process of choosing exactly which model from the collection, but it seems like this duo-pocketed one is faring just fine :)

#2: amp eyewear from eye-q

to supplement my (currently needs to get repaired) 'upside-down' frames, i managed to finagle a new set of eyeglasses from eye-q. both designs are in-house makes, so if you're dying to get some of your own, call up the boys at the boston eyewear shop. i spent a lot of my years in the past wearing contacts, but nothing beats the instant incognito powers of bold frames. not to say they dont get foggy or smudgy from time to time, but in terms of ease and remembrance, i wouldn't ever give up my specs.

#3: rachel comey dress from stel's

the crew at stel's get a gold star, not only for putting up with our barging into their store and fondling pretty much all the merchandise almost every weekend. but i knew karma would come around, and i managed to score the perfect dress for holiday parties (and year-round fanciness), plus tailoring perfection for a chic petite fit. the puckered texture is at once comforting and avant-garde, and the pockets come in handy for stashing top-secret items.

#4: knit wrap vest pullover by hoss intropia from stil

i can't explain it, but this thing is awesome. patterned lambswool knit makes one snug as a huggable slug, especially layered over a slim dress from american apparel or over a tee and jeans. it's a very particular piece (a bit of coordination and thought has to accompany its wearing) but i relish its unique construction.

#5: helena alto lace-ups by camper

so i must admit i was a staunch opposer of the whole ankle bootie trend; i thought they made women's legs look stumpy and were a bear to pull off properly. however, these beauties seduced me despite their suspicious bootie silhouette, but the open front and laces pulled a girly (and elongated) spin, upon which i forgave the whole business entirely. a complete splurge for sure, and i'm lucky if i find an occasion to wear them once a week (or month), but i'm all for comfort in heels (they've worn in nicely) and an unexpected bit of sass. (p.s. you can also see a cute view of them from the front at camper's autumn/winter preview)

coming up tomorrow: notable five in beauty and skincare!