Playful Plating with Luscious Greens

My brother’s latest complaint has been that the memory card for our DSLR has been overloaded with my photos.  I dramatically put on my teary-eyed face and plead, “But… it’s such a difficult task, selecting the best one… help, please?”  I’m getting there… slowly.  I promise!  The next posts will increasingly exemplify the beauty of spring and summer. Speaking of which, spring naturally inspires everything green.  A number of “foodies” and chefs scoff at the idea of creating dishes that highlight vegetables, which makes me question how they can call themselves lovers of food.  Now, while I do love my variety of salads, I also believe in being innovative with our green friends.  (Ladies, please do not put yourself through “salad only” or “no-carb” diets.)  A month ago, I took the liberty of running our kitchen operations and cooked up something on the whim–Gold (金) Gama [금가마], which pays homage to my ancestor King Gyeongsun (金傅) of Silla and to my Korean heritage.  The crab shumai–symbolizing the king–sits atop his vast territory while being carried by a gama (aka “litter”),  an invention that came generations later, which is represented by the asparagus box.  Wow, that was a hefty sentence, wasn’t it?


{Asparagus box (cut blanched asparagus), perilla leaves, crab shumai, dollop of Sriracha, marinaded prime top blade steak} Asparagus_box_zoom

{I call this dish ‘Gold Gama’, 금가마}

Asparagus_risotto_closeup{Mama Kim’s Asparagus Brown Rice Risotto} Asparagus_risotto

 And the elaborate details on asparagus’ functionality don’t stop there! Two weeks ago, my brother craved for some risotto, and Mama Kim cooked up magic with her asparagus risotto.  Nowadays, chefs opt for farro in their recipes as a way to promote healthy eating, but we decided to use genmai brown rice instead.  Surprisingly, the nuttiness from the genmai is similar to that of farro, and we may even prefer the Japanese grain for its more refined taste.  Most importantly, our friends reggiano and parmesan added the last touch to the final product.  Two words: amazing, addicting.  All of us spooned for more to our stomach’s content.  :)  We tried both family-style and individual plates of risotto, and if you’re looking to create a fun evening of dining, then consider family-style.

I hope you’re enjoying this fantastic Tuesday weather (sorry, Chicagoans, I know that the bizarre snow rained on your parade…)!  Tomorrow, I’ll update you on ways to incorporate this Spring and Summer colors to your outfit!


Daily Delights: Spring Medley

Spring came fairly early this year for those of us living in California.  The one perk of being 10 minutes away from three beaches rather than being in the city or “newer” areas–Pasadena, much of Irvine, Corona, etc.–is that you’ll rarely encounter unpleasant weather.  We have the most ideal weather–perfect breeze, cool temperatures, clear skies, and sunshine.  A change in seasons also calls for a new batch of vegetables and fruits coloring store shelves.  As much as I love my winter veggies, I am an enthusiast of spring produce as well.

My perennial affinity for herbs–my personal favorites’ being thyme, rosemary, and basil–still holds.  However, I also harbor a strong reverence for vegetables that beautifully capture the fine dining of my ancestors, as I am a direct descendant of King Gyung Soon of Silla.  And the heh-cho bibimbap not only embodies but elevates these ingredients with a modernistic approach.  You can use either the Korean squash or its Italian counterpart; for this particular dish though, I prefer the latter.  Speaking of heritage, Chef David Lefevre of Manhattan Beach Post and Fishing with Dynamite took me back to Korean seas with his black miso cod and tender grilled octopus.  You may or may not remember my previous visit to Fishing with Dynamite (@eatfwd), but yesterday’s lunch there was nearly perfect–even more so than my first time.  The cod was anything but overly salty or sweet, maintaining the right balance in both texture and flavor.  Together, the braised daikon cubes, adzuki beans/red beans, glazed eggplant, and cooked cod explode with culinary brilliance.

While I can boast that my ancestors ate some of Mother Nature’s finest , I must admit that they never had the privilege of experiencing California’s delightful berry season.  My morning routine is to make avocado toast or oatmeal, grab a serving of nuts, slice an apple–Fuji or Gala usually–and wash a bowl full of berries.  A lovely medley of tartiness and sweetness burst in my mouth, and I immediately taste spring and summer.


{Mix: Tossed seasoned seaweed salad (heh-cho), perilla strips, sautéed Italian squash, Korean seasoned daikon/radish (moo saeng chae), toasted sesame seeds, and rice}


{Fresh blueberries and raspberries}

{Credits to Darin Dines for the photo; Black Miso Cod @ Fishing with Dynamite}

{UPCOMING TALES: Fantastic Fashion Spring/Summer Essential, Farmer’s Market on Trojan Grounds (USC), Favorite Five Los Angeles Eats, Fish Taco Fridays at La Jolla, Lessons with Leftovers}

I hope you’re kicking off the weekend with some spring celebration.  Happy Friday!

pristine christine

Daily Delights: Feast for the Eyes

I’ve always been a morning slash breakfast hyphen brunch type of person.  From elementary to freshman year of college, I woke up at 6 am every day.  Beginning my sophomore year of college, my daily start began even earlier, and soon, 5 am became 4 am.  For a while, after graduating, I trained myself to not rise at the crack of dawn.  Now, I start my day at 5 am or 6 am.  Apparently, the creative types are most productive at odd hours–mine just happens to be before sunrise.  The Huffington Post article spoke my heart, as I tend to enter my “flow state” and block out my surroundings when my painting or writing absorbs me.

What I love the most about the AM (am, A.M., a.m…) is being able to enjoy a warm brew of coffee and hearty breakfast with my mom after morning prayer.  Over easy egg, sliced avocado, cracked pepper, and proscuitto–all on toasted whole wheat bread or English muffin.  We bond over our hobbies and life.  She reads the newspaper, while I dig through an avalanche of news from Wall Street and Washington Post.  I undergo my daily ritual of morose and nostalgia when staring at my dying friend, who goes by the name of Print Journalism.  Coffee does the bare minimum to temporarily assuage such grief.  Three months from now, my mornings will consist of a different routine.  Breakfast won’t be the same when I move into my new place.


{Proscuitto, over-easy egg, avocado, pepper cracked open face sandwich}


{Gifts from Paris, sent by a good friend}


I’m loving this spring/summer’s color swatch–pastels and brights–and hoping I can incorporate them somehow into my wall decor.  For those who normally stick to dark solids, be bold and play around with this season’s varying patterns and tones.  From floral to tribal to houndstooth,  and from seafoam to sand to coral, I don’t think I’ve seen a more exciting spring/summer since 2008 or 2009.

TGIF, everyone!

pristine christine

Friday Fave5 and a Belated Valentine Update


1. I left a piece of my heart with the croissants at Tartine.
2Brian Williams raps like a master (The Late Night Show)
3. Mil & Bird’s deep royal blue tote (
4. Pointed skimmer flats are the rage this spring and summer.  You can find a cute pair from Madewell!
5. Flare jeans steal the spotlight this spring.  Fashion repeats itself.
6. We’re winding back to the 90s with style.  Flare jeans, check. Crop tops, check.  Zara’s black knit crop top flatters all body types (pear, hourglass, apple), and they’d look absolutely adorable with jeans, skirts, and shorts. (

Valentines_Card_DadMom{Heartfelt card and message from Daddy-O to Mama Bear + gift not pictured}

Esther_Lee_Letter{A Valentine of my own sent by a dear sister back from my alma mater}

Happy belated Valentine’s Day!  Whether you’re single or in a relationship, I hope all of you enjoyed last Friday regardless.  In fact, there’s nothing sinful about indulging in rich fondue as a single lady unless you’re coddled by both decadent chocolate fondue and bewitching cheese fondue simultaneously.  Guilty enough, my family and I treated ourselves to chocolate fondue made with 100% Belgian chocolate and to a heavenly mixture of white wine and gruyere and swiss cheese fondue.  Tyler Florence and Nigella Lawson share recipes I personally love, but as an avid Nigella follower, I can’t help but to show a slight bias toward hers.

I wish I could elucidate on the details of my pitch perfect Valentine/President’s Day Weekend in San Francisco because every aspect of the trip was truly a blessing.  We left the quaint, winding city with a newfound fondness for two things–Gialina Pizzeria and Tartine Bakery.  Crazy to say, we–lovers of bread and Italian cuisine–willingly waited 30 minutes to grab a bite of both and left not a bit disappointed.  We concurred that Gialina ranks at the top with Gjelina in terms of serving fantastic pizza baked the right way and that Tartine’s buttery croissants will have anyone vying for more.

Happy Friday!  

pristine christine 

Daily Delights: Oyako Donburi, Mini Pecan Tarts


{Mama Kim’s special oyako donburi, a meal I always relish}


{My third… or maybe it was fourth cousin… visited Southern California with a batch of homemade mini pecan tarts.  Imagine a 70-somewhat-year-old woman baking!}

 As I prep for my move to San Fran and think about my 5-week trip to India, a number of forgotten realizations engross me–with one being that food is synonymous to memorable stories for me.  Each meal encapsulates a unique emotion and history.  While I have mastered the art of cooking and pan-frying fish among other culinary skills, I am nowhere near being the master chef that mom is.  She can whip up a plate of exquisite homemade basil pesto spaghetti with such grace and bake a pan of rosemary focaccia with absolute deftness.  Behind the kneading, precise cutting, boiling, seasoning hides an unimaginable rich lineage–we not only inherit our ancestral knowledge of food but the family heirloom of love as well.  And what makes every component of my meal at home special is–well, taste, most definitely–the care and dedication put into creating it.  Although I’ll be lingering in my parents’ nest for another two months, I already know that I will long to hear chatter at the family table in the midst of satiating our voracious appetites.  And I most certainly will miss pampering my taste buds with a bowl of Mama Kim’s steaming hot oyako donburi on a dreary day.  

Stay warm and healthy, everyone!

pristine christine

Super Bowl Devine Munch: Let Me Fix You a Sammie

SuperBowl_SandwichSuper Bowl Sunday is finally here.  Our family has prepped for this day–chicken wings, tortilla chips, french onion dip, lentil dip, nuts, and brie cheese.  Yes, I am that person who spreads brie onto her rosemary crisp.  Judge me all you want for not binging on the chips, but how can brie not be welcome at any event?  If asked to pick one favorite, I’d say the Belletoile brie from France would be the one.  Oddly enough, brie makes a great cheese to use for the ultimate comfort food: grilled cheese sandwich.  And, well, Super Bowl means bringing your A-Game to the table. Gourmet Grilled Cheese Sammie in less than 10 minutes.

Rustic Bread (Sourdough or Rosemary Bread will do)
Fresh Cranberry Sauce
Sliced Pears
Brie Cheese

The subtle saltiness from the cheese, sweet and tarty from the sauce, fresh and light taste of the crunchy pear, and chewy texture of the bread come together perfectly, as a nice balance of flavors burst in your mouth.  Ugh, too good!  Trust me on this one; I am the Sandwich Queen.

Let’s go Seahawks!

pristine christine

Fave Fours/Fives: Foodie’s Life & V-Day Gifting


Who says Valentine’s Day can’t be a time when single girlfriends gather and share gifts with each other?  For both the single ladies and those who eagerly hope to be surprised by their men on V-day, I impart these words: Happy Gifting and Happy Dining!  Gather food inspirations from Stacey Sun and Zoe Nathan and gifting ideas from below.  

1. The Photo Journey of a Food Connoisseur Stacey Sun (Instagram)
2. Following Baker and Restauranteur Zoe Nathan–genius behind Huckleberry, Sweet Rose Creamery, and Milo + Olive in Santa Monica (Instagram)
3. Your lady friends will appreciate this light, citrusy scent from fresh (30 mL for $48, 100 mL for $88)
4. Enjoy the night with some wine and sweets on Valentine’s Day (Champagne Petit Fours, $55)
5. Monogram that bag with personal initials to make it one of a kind ($258 with monogram)

I personally wouldn’t mind receiving a box of Champagne Petit Fours from a charming fella, but that’s just my single-soul speaking.  Have a beautiful Friday, and I’ll see you back here in a couple hours with more Super Bowl shareable snack tips.

pristine christine