Friday, November 9, 2012

November DC Food Blogger Happy Hour

Bartender, Anthony Rivera, mixing it up all tasty for us
Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of hosting the monthly happy hour for DC's food bloggers at Last Exit in Mount Pleasant. It was time for us to finally check out the bar where long-time cocktail blogger and regular happy hour-goer, Anthony Rivera of Done Like Dundee Gone Like Ghandi, mixes his infamous libations and I am so glad we did. I'd been meaning to check out the place since we first met a couple of years ago, and I admit it's ridiculous given how close it actually is from home, but I never get to the Mount Pleasant neighborhood -- in fact, this was my first time. His cocktails certainly didn't disappoint, especially surrounded by the timeless decor of the bar. The bar offered two 1/2 price happy hour specials, the Beatrice and my personal favorite, the Chelsea, a tasty treat with celery-infused tequila, rosemary, Cocchi Americano and fresh lemon.

The Chelsea

And a big thanks to Last Exit for serving tastes of their small bites with us, including the seasonal flatbread, pigs in a blanket, cheese & charcuterie plate, olives and their amazing hot popcorn in both the smoky paprika and cinnamon flavors. Many of us also ordered the soup du jour which was a phenomenal version of Italian wedding soup. If only they could serve it in a big bowl instead of those small cups because we just couldn't get enough. And if they'd be so kind to share the recipe, I know many of us would love the opportunity to make it at home. (hint hint)

Seasonal flatbread

Of course, the happy hour couldn't be anywhere near as fun without all the great bloggers that attended, including:

Bindesh Shreshtha, Desigrub
Jackie Woodbury, Jackie's Joie de Vivre
Erin Burkert, Eat Bake Drink Cook
Linah Elgrove, Linah's List
Kelly Greene, Girl Meets Food
Ebony Haywood, Eb's Culinary Journal
Colby Thornton, The Picky Pantry
Ethel Badawi, Eat In Instead
Jason, DC Fud

Monday, November 5, 2012

Spicing up a Simple Breakfast

I'm back home after a lovely weekend to speak at the Three Days of Light Festival near Asheville, North Carolina. While the vegan fare was surprisingly delicious, it's nice to have some comfort food at home and this morning it's scrambled eggs.

I love the eggs from Smucker Farms, a shop around the corner from me that sells locally produced goods. They're extremely rich with yolks of such a vibrant yellow, that you know they're super fresh and eat a healthy diet.

Instead of ketchup, I actually use Sriracha or a typical Chinese chili oil, but forgot I ran out before I left town. I still wanted to spice the eggs up a bit and just remembered I was sent a variety of sauces, oils and marinades from Chef Lala, including a chipotle-flavored oil, which I thought might be perfect to use to cook the eggs in. The oil was really fragrant, and added a nice subtle flavor to the eggs. And one advantage to cooking the eggs in a chili oil is it avoids adding extra calories like I would if topping with the Chinese chili oil. And, as I usually do, I sprinkled some of Tuscan Herb Chef Salt which was part of the gift bag from Eat, Write, Retreat.

I've tried making my own chili oil after spending some time in Monaco where it's is a typical condiment for pizza. Forget ranch dressing! I wish I had the foresight to grab some good bottles for the trip home, or at least find a good method for infusing all the spices and herbs. Alas, this chipotle oil may be the next best thing. Perhaps even for lunch. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

From Convention to Conference, some end of summer madness has ensued

What a lovely morning, with no alarm and no appointments on my calendar today. Perhaps not a typical Monday for most, but one of the joys of having gone freelance earlier this year. Don't be too envious, though. August was relatively still and silent -- and then explosively active with a trip to Charlotte for the Democratic National Committee Convention and a return home to Hay House Publishing's I Can Do It Conference.

I'd never really expected to attend a political conference before, let alone work at one, especially for the Democratic Party since I'm not a member, but as a woman, as a small business owner, as a person of color, as an LGBT supporter and a person of compassion, I feel a strong sense of support for President Obama and am finding some general alignment with many of the platform's principles and messages in contrast to the other.

It is not a perfect party, by any means, as shown in this clip from early Wednesday evening when rules were suspended (although willingly), in order to sneak in an amendment to the platform language to add "God" and recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. It was extremely early in a long evening and over half of the delegates were still arriving. Had they been informed of the incoming motion, I bet many of them would  have shown up not just on time, but early. Even of those present, it is pretty clear from the video that it wasn't a 2/3rds majority that voted in favor of the amendment. All three times the voice vote was taken, it may not have even been a majority.

Despite this shameful stain, I appreciated the messages of inclusion and support at the various meetings. I photographed the AAPI Caucus meetings and a few other events, capturing some unique moments like Senator Daniel Inouye demonstrating to former Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta the differences between "Hang Loose" and "Texas Bullhorns." Totally gansta!

It was so inspiring to see so many Asian American & Pacific Islanders at their various stages of leadership, especially the KAYA and the Filipinos for Obama folks who always make my jaw drop whenever I see them.

Probably most meaningful for me was getting to see an old friend from college, Michael Golojuch, as a delegate from Obama's home state of Hawaii. I had so much fun hanging out with him, his parents and his friend, Ralph during the week, especially one afternoon, while Michael, his dad Mike and Ralph were out doing delegate business, Michael's mom, Carolyn and I had fun playing around town causing all sorts of havoc, like this moment when Rahm Emanuel poked at Carolyn's chest declaring how much he loved her button that said, "I love my gay son."

I have so many photos to process from the DNC week alone and I have yet to even touch on the Hay House conference. Stay tuned for updates and more pics. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Lesson Reminded: Never make a hotel reservation on a road trip earlier than the day of

Westin Princeton at Forrestal Village
Princeton, NJ

Last-minute gala invitation + hotel reservation 4 hours away + major rainstorm = a very hectic drive.

Around 9pm last night, donning a bright blue cocktail dress, I raced out of DC's Capital Hilton with luggage in car to make an ambitious 4-hour drive to Princeton where I had made a hotel reservation to take advantage of a Starwood special to get bonus SPG points while on my way to Upstate New York. I love taking my time on road trips and I love making my travel points along the way. [Insert Up in the Air comment here.]

I was originally planning on leaving DC in the afternoon, or at worst, early evening, so even a 10pm arrival would be decent (I guess I wasn't planning on touring around the New Jersey Turnpike area too much). However, a few days ago, I ran into a friend who invited me to the International Leadership Forum & CAABO Gala where he'd be presenting an award. Of course, I couldn't say no. I figured I could just leave early, but you know how these social schmoozing events go. So I avoided the wine and doubled the coffee.

My GPS projected a 1am arrival. Ugh! But I knew I could do it. It happened before when I was in South Dakota and made the mistake of reserving the Sheraton in Sioux Falls, which happened to be across the state (I learned next time to look at a map before making reservations!) from Mount Rushmore, which I didn't leave until around 7pm. I'll finish up my post about that crazy day another time.

Distant lightning flashed in the DC sky while driving up north on 16th. I hoped it'd remain as distant as the storm traveled east. Weather reports said it'd miss DC, but of course I didn't look to see what it'd do to Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey. And then I found out: strong winds, blinding rain and crazy, agressive drivers. Passing Baltimore, then Philadelphia and even Trenton, I started to regret not being able to just pull over to some random hotel by the freeway. The things you do for points.

I made it to the hotel just as the storm had passed around 12:30. I can't imagine how quickly I could have made it if weather conditions were actually favorable. Let's up they're gone as I make my way up north right now.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

One Crazy Summer -- so far

Part of me feels guilty for not writing so much on this blog, trying to capture the amazing moments I've been blessed to experience, but then the other part of me is having too much fun to slow down and more experiences keep coming. We're barely in mid-July and I already feel like I've had a full summer. Alas, I know there's more to come.

Since leaving my job back in April, it's been just a whirlwind of work. I once read a saying that the definition of an entrepreneur is someone who avoids working 40 hours a week for someone else by working 80 hours a week for himself, and I've certainly learned that to be true. Thankfully, all (or most, at least) of those hours consist of work I love doing.

Aside from the coaching and consulting work, photography, of all things has taken off like wildflowers. I've always loved taking pictures, but it wasn't until January, in fact, New Year's Day, that I broke down and purchased a good camera. While I have already been blessed with an amazing nation-wide clientele, and I haven't even started marketing my work yet. And even though the reality of the field is setting in (the costs and the hours of work outside of the actual event), I still love it and am grateful for the opportunities that have arisen.

Top 10 Summer 2012 Experiences . . . SO FAR (in no particular order):

- Getting to watch Pete Souza in action up close may have been an experience unto itself, but when I got to meet with President Obama, discussing our love for Pete's work, while Pete was actually taking our picture.

- Witnessing Carol & Jim exchange vows on a beach in Tulum (one of my favorite places in the world), when a rainbow magically appeared in the background.

- Experiencing the toils of life as a jet-setter, with a 24-hour travel day through 4 countries & 4 languages.

- Surviving the streets of Paris behind the wheel, including various circles like around the legendary Arc du Triomphe.

- Visiting Monet's Gardens in Giverny, France

- Hugging Amma

- Walking the labyrinth at National Cathedral

- Unexpected visit to Amsterdam

- Being wined and dined on La Barge Luciole while sailing through the canals of Burgundy, France

- Co-hosting a reception for Senator Daniel Akaka, retiring after 22 years of service, to thank him for his tireless work for the Filipino community including obtaining benefits for World War II veterans, including my grandfather. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Feeding my Dreams

Note from my Facebook page:

Most of you have known me for straddling a few professional careers, all with the general theme of helping other people be more successful in their lives and/or their professions. Back in 2006, I established a burgeoning business as a life coach and holistic healer, focused specifically on helping to empower people to overcome their obstacles and find true success within themselves. It thrived, and as my (now ex-) husband witnessed the transformation of my clients, he naturally desired the same for himself and decided to leave the military and go to school full-time. Due to a recent health diagnosis, I made the practical decision to return to steady employment in order to maintain health benefits (no semblance of Obamacare at the time) and took a job with the largest privately-funded non-profit.

I felt blessed every day to be a part of an organization whose primary purpose is to help people lead healthy and productive lives, and yet I struggled every day in a job that had little to do with my natural gifts and talents while opportunities for me to exercise them dwindled further and further.

On the side, I maintained my business to a small degree and expanded my repertoire to (mostly food) writing and recently, photography. Every once in a while, I would get asked to participate in some interesting projects, most notably giving a couple of workshops at Emergence Creativespace's 11.11.11 Gathering in Sedona. I was my Self, unfiltered, and I had never felt more authentic and thus more successful. 

Since returning home to DC, I've been figuring out how to reconcile this newly bared mystical side of myself with my practical side and decided to hang up my security blanket and in January, I tendered my resignation with the day job. Tomorrow begins my final week -- can you say HOLY COW!??!!?

So what will I be doing? Living (and working) a life of Taste, Travel and Transcendence. In addition to focusing on my business, I'll be head of community and philanthropic partnerships at Operation:Eatery, a consulting firm that specializes in the culinary industry. I'm also working on a number of interesting projects that all in all, help people "Feed their Dreams." And while I intend to stay here, my work is not exclusive to DC, so I hope that we may have an opportunity to connect in person in the near future.

If you'd like to learn more, you can visit my website at or OE's at

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Last Lamb Supper Club

Even as a devout carnivore, lamb isn't one of my favorite meats. I didn't exactly grow up with very much of it and the times it did come across my path, all I could remember was the gamey texture and sweaty taste. It wasn't until my first hoity toity tasting menu dinner by Chef Ron Siegel at (now-closed) Charles Nob Hill back in the late 90s that I understood lamb's joys and pleasures. Some day, I'll have to write about that experience, a whole sensory stimulation of the sight, scent and taste of each course with its immaculate wine pairing, artfully described by my date's creative poetry, all while sitting at the coveted corner table.

While last night's lamb experience was a far cry from that dinner, it was nowhere less spectacular. I'm sure I've said this before and I'll say it again, there's nothing like a well-cared-for home-cooked meal. Even some of the world's top chefs would probably say the same, nothing like it. So I couldn't have been happier that I was finally able to attend one of Mango & Tomato's Lamb Supper Club dinners sponsored by the Tri-Lamb Group.

This final of three installments was a hearty dinner of lamb shanks braised with white beans and tomatoes over a boiled potato, a perfect meal for our "winter" in DC. The meat was fall-off-the-bone tender, incredibly flavorful and beautifully seasoned, with all the vegetables adding a perfect texture to accompany the star. This picture I took does nothing to do it justice and I hope you will take the opportunity to read her recipe once she posts it next week.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Greetings

2012 is now here and while recently, 11/11/11 marked new beginnings for some, New Year's Day marks it for others. Wishing you many blessings, prosperity and happiness.

And if you're undertaking some resolutions for this new cycle, may you have the strength, tools, perseverance and support to stick to them, as benefits most.

A Blessing for the New Year 
On the day when
The weight deadens
On your shoulders
And you stumble,
May the clay dance
To balance you.
And when your eyes
Freeze behind
The gray window
And the ghost of loss
Gets into you,
May a flock of colors,
Indigo, red, green
And azure blue,
Come to awaken in you
A meadow of delight.
When the canvas frays
In the curragh of thought
And a stain of ocean
Blackens beneath you,
May there come across waters
A path of yellow moonlight
To bring you safely home.
May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
May the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
Wind work these worlds
Of love around you,
An invisible cloak
To mind your life.
-- John O'Donohue