Thursday, June 28, 2007

iScream uScream

We all scream for iPhone? Wait, that doesn't sound right.

(Image taken from

I've been drooling over those iPhone commercials for the past 2 months. The day has finally come to purchase one! They go on sale tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. Guess who is going to be in line for one?

Not me.

Yes, it is sad, but as sleek and really just plain AWESOME as they look, I can't justify it for $500 or 600 each + $60/month x 2 year contract with AT&T + anything else (battery, etc.). My cell phone, pedestrian music, and mobile gaming consumption equals to AT MOST 10 minutes a month combined.

(Image taken from

I don't care for the leash. I can listen to music at home on my computer or on the stereo. When I am out and about, I can listen to MP3s through my factory installed car stereo. It doesn't look right if I am plugged in and listening to music while walking with someone, as commonly as I do see this! I don't sit down and wait anywhere to necessitate a mobile gaming device.

Now, I wouldn't toss it away if one fell from the sky... :)

- Cassaendra

Saturday, June 23, 2007

いろは Soup

While sitting at my porcelain uhh stool reading "Japan Encyclopedia" a short while ago, I ran across an interesting entry - a perfect 11th century Japanese pangram (using each letter only once). An oft seen but imperfect English pangram is "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog."

i ro ha ni ho he to
chi ri nu ru (w)o
wa ka yo ta re so
tsu ne na ra mu
u (w)i no o ku ya ma
ke fu ko e te
a sa ki yu me mi shi
(w)e hi mo se su n
The blossoms disperse and fall.
In our world, what lasts forever?
Rather, let us cross the distant mountains of illusion
and no longer dream vainly or give in to intoxication.
(Frederic, Louis. "Iroha." Japan Encyclopedia. Trans. Kaethe Roth. London, 2002.)

While growing up, I've often heard "i ro ha ni ho he to" uttered, but I didn't realize it actually had a meaning, a deep meaning at that! Nothing like "Junky qoph-flags vext crwd zimb," which means: An Abyssinian fly playing a Celtic violin was annoyed by trashy flags on which were the Hebrew letter qoph.
("Pangram." Wikipedia. 19 June 2007.

- Cassaendra

Cloud City

Kumori is our senior ferret. Six or seven years ago, he was found at Bug's workplace covered in soot. Animal Control was called to have him picked up, but Bug took him home, where he became our resident albino surfer dude. He is the most laid back ferret you'll ever meet and will acknowledging you with a "What's up, dude?" nod.

Being an old critter, Kumori now requires a twice daily dose of prednisolone to regulate his blood sugar levels, as well as a diet fortified with brewer's yeast. On Friday, between shuttling me to work and picking up Kumori's beef-flavored script (the pharmacy's hours are 9-5, open weekdays only), Bug made an incredible pot of beef stew.

Prep work started early in the morning after dropping me off at work, cutting all the vegetables for an hour and then cooking the meat for ~1-1/2 hours. The stew was finally finished early in the afternoon! There was about a 45-minute break in between while he picked up little Kumori's script.

The stew's consistency was juuust the way I like it, similar to my mother's exquisite ox tail stew. The stew was thick, not spackle thick, nor was it as runny as Vietnamese beef stew. It was filled with chunks of carrots, celery, tomatoes, bell pepper, and potatoes that were just-cooked through so they retained their crisp texture and unique flavor, but long enough to intermingle with its simmering environs. The meat was so tender, it gave little resistance to revealing its rich beefy essence.

"Screenshot or it doesn't exist!" you say. Alas, I can't provide one...this time!

- Cassaendra

Monday, June 18, 2007

If I clicked my heels...

...where would I like to be at this very moment [eating lunch]?

If it meant teleporting anywhere, that's a tough one! I'd have to say either To Chau on River Street or Pho 97 on Maunakea Street (Honolulu), eating a very large bowl of pho. In Cleveland, I'd have to say Vietnamese wins again - #1 Pho on Superior Avenue. Maybe it's because it's bubbling in the 90s and humid today.

The Vietnamese restaurants in Cleveland are not scant, but they are not plentiful either.

Superior Pho, formerly Pho Hoa, serves pretty decent food. Their pho is on the cinnamon side. The restaurant is small, seating ~30 patrons, and the menu isn't as deep as #1 Pho. As one would expect with a specialized menu, the food is quite delicious and consistent. Their service is hit or miss. Average cost is $25 for summer rolls, 2 servings of pho, and 2 glasses of bubble tea. This was where we had our first taste of bubble tea. Honeydew melon, mango, taro, or lychee! YUM!!

Our former hang-out, Minh Anh, became our former because of a decay in quality and service. We had been going there for several years, 3-4 times per week as their prices were low. An average dinner is $16 for summer rolls and two servings of pho. They are a one-trick pony. If we wanted really good pho, that was where we went, although the soup was inconsistent from good, to great, to dishwater. We had tried other dishes, but the only dishes that didn't seem like stuff you'd eat at any other Chinese restaurant or La Choy, were their pho (floral, my favorite style) and bun.

The straw that broke the camel's back was when I ordered my usual bowl of pho (rare flank only) and got a completely different bowl of pho (one with tripe, tendon, beef balls - I've tried it several times and don't care for it) along with the sawgrass, cilantro, round onions, and green onions. I had our server, who knew when she took it out to me that it was wrong, take it back. It was brought back to me with a message from the cook that he was sick and tired of making pho the way I requested (no veggies, meat on the side) and that I was going to eat it because he wasn't making a different bowl. The owner yelled at the server and said that I ordered the soup (which I did not) so an exchange would not be made just because the meat was in the soup.

Meanwhile, Bug had started eating his pho when he discovered several crickets in his bowl (ironic, eh?). At that point, he had had it between the kitchen, the owner, and the decline in service over the months, that he threw the money on the table to pay for our drinks, appetizer, and BOTH bowls that we didn't eat, and said he'd never come back again. It's been well over a year, and we've not been back.

Phnom Penh (Vietnamese-Cambodian) has really spicy and yummy food! It's kind of unfair to judge them with the other restaurants here because we went there expressly to try their Cambodian dishes. Their Asian basil fried rice with beef dish is so flavorful, refreshing, and spicy! The beef chha kreoung ma rass prowt on *medium* heat was very mellow in flavor and essence from the galanga, coconut, and peanuts but wonderfully spicy! Oh, have I said the food is spicy here? :) Our dinner cost $18, for an appetizer and two dishes.

#1 Pho is our favorite since they have a very large menu, with at least 15 appetizers to choose from, and despite it's name, isn't just "pho," which, by the way, is on the cinnamon side. There are other items like broken rice dishes, bun dishes, and various meat, seafood, and vegetarian stews, soups, and fried dishes. Their decor is warehouse contemporary, spacious with hardwood floors and high ceilings. The servers are really personable and, well, at this point, we aren't given menus since they know what we want when we walk through the door; although I occasionally like to throw a curve ball and order something else. An average dinner costs $19 when we order summer rolls and two servings of pho.

Our favorite appetizer is the summer roll with the barbecue cured pork. It's the best! Second to that would be the shrimp with sugar cane. The appetizer that is the most disappointing is the make-your-own roll. The rice paper comes moistened and ALL stuck together into one thick clump.

It's been a recurrent topic of conversation between Bug and I while waiting for our bowls of pho to arrive - why the sameness in variance (what?) of flavor from restaurant to restaurant. While realizing that even ordering spaghetti with tomato sauce the flavor varies from restaurant to restaurant, this strikes me as a little different. I've noticed that pho is either floral or spicy (cinnamon) in flavor. One or the other, not in between. Well, there was that one time we had soup that tasted like dishwater somewhere...

As we enjoy our summer rolls dipped in the spicy, piquant sauce, we inevitably chalk it up to regional variance. Just as we finish our last bite of our rolls, our steaming bowls of pho arrive at our table with the platter of bean sprouts, basil, lime, peppers, as well as hoisin and sriracha dipping sauces.

My bowl always looks the same. Ordered clear, with no vegetables in the soup and meat (raw flank) on the side so I don't have to dodge between the round onions, green onions, and cilantro, and I can control the rareness of the meat. Bug orders his with everything inside.

The first thing I do is drink a spoonful of broth before adding anything. I then pick through the basil and snip the little leaves, as many as Bug will allow me to steal. Next come the mound of bean sprouts, and then all but 3-4 of the green chile peppers, followed by squeezing the lime wedge over my soup - flavoring the soup and cleaning my fingers of the pepper oil so I don't burn my eyes when I rub them! Finally, I throw in a few slices of the raw beef and push them under the noodles.

After I've mixed the contents of the now-heaping bowl, I take another sip of the soup and dive in! Mmm!

I guess I'm a little *cough* compulsive about preparing and eating my pho. I wonder if I'm the only one...?


Sunday, June 17, 2007

"Don't sweat the little things."

I called my father this afternoon to wish him a happy Father's Day. The thought he left me with at the end of our call was, "Don't sweat the little things."

While growing up, my father cared for me as provider, tutor, airplane stilts, frisbee-in-the-tree retriever, and the big back pocket I held on to tightly while he navigated through the many human obstacles at the mall. Sundays were the days when we would sit on the front door step and I would clip his finger nails. He never yelled when it looked like I would cut too close, but would move back to adjust. He isn't stupid!

When I moved away from home, we became friends as well! We would meet for lunch weekly, and then when it became physically impossible due to oh, about 5,000 miles, he made sure that it didn't feel that way. He has always been around as support through good and not so great times.

My father not only watches over me, but he watches over his three children and granddaughter (soon to be 4 grandchildren!) in Japan; the children who lost their lives in a fishing boat accident in the Pacific; warmly welcomes young sailors from Japan who come to port, far from home; as well as fosters the remembrance of our ancestors within the community...and he makes a killer bowl of fried rice!

I don't know how he finds the energy!


R A W R !

Yoru and Mochi play with each other every day. Of course, Yoru, being the big brother, lets Mochi win all the time.

It was a lazy day for Bug and I - sleep, feed the ferrets, sleep, browse a few sites, felt a lot like a Sunday. Driving to Bath while the sun set was very calming, with the thick forest of towering trees pointing to the unblemished sky.

I need to fix my camera.

Restaurant scribble for today...
Sakura Thai-Japanese restaurant in Brecksville was subpar. Yeah, what would one expect? It's only a rare restaurant that can pull off mastering ONE culture, let alone two. Very bland "Thai" food and average Japanese food. Japanese menu selection was shallow. Service was poor. Price was fair.

This is my first try at a blog - I think I need more pictures!! Yes...yes...I think I do.

- Cassaendra

  © Blogger templates Brooklyn by 2008

Back to TOP