8. Bacchanal in Las Vegas

8. Bacchanal in Las Vegas

The pandemic has in as sense gotten a bit worse. The number of cases has skyrocketed, but the silver lining is the vaccines and the less sever Omicron. Although sometimes I feel that all of this can be false hope as the available information is always changing. So with this in mind, we braved a day trip to Las Vegas to eat at a buffet.

I remember I used to hate the drive to Las Vegas when I was little because it was such a boring landscape especially at night. Then as I became older I learned to appreciate the desert landscape. The huge mostly virgin expanses during the day and the beautiful abyss during the night with a blanket of stars above.

We stopped at this rest stop to take advantage of the free charging and of course to use the restrooms. I love this rest stop because there is nothing else around it in the desert except for the road.

And finally we made it to the buffet, Bacchanal, at Caesar’s palace. The price for the buffet is a little pricey, but well worth it if you eat a lot of the awesome food it has to offer. To get our money’s worth, we had a very light breakfast and fasted for the rest of the day to make sure we arrived HUNGRY.

7. Travel nostalgia and M. Butterfly

7. Travel nostalgia and M. Butterfly

It wasn’t my idea to eat at this Hong Kong style restaurant, but it got me reminiscing about past travels. I felt nostalgia for the Asian cities I’ve visited and in particular Hong Kong. I am grateful that I least I live somewhere where I can fantasize that I’m in a foreign country when I’m feeling a bit of wanderlust. As you can see, this restaurant doesn’t cater much to the English-speaking crowds. In fact all of the surrounding area is like that.

A few days ago, I was reading up on the operas that will be performed at the Santa Fe Opera. I was excited to see that they would be performing M. Butterfly. Madama Butterfly is an opera that is very dear to my heart for many reasons. As I read more about the planned productions, I noticed that they were very excited to be presenting the world premiere of M. Butterfly. World premiere? Did they mean this particular production of it? No, they mean the entire opera.

Then I realized my mistake. I assumed they were merely abbreviating Madama, but it turns out that it will be an opera that is based on the play and movie titled M. Butterfly. A story based on true life that draws heavily from Puccini’s opera. So it will be an opera inspired by a play inspired by an opera.

I rolled my eyes and though about skipping that opera. However, curiosity got the better of me and I looked up the soundtrack to the movie. It is so beautiful! It obviously draws heavily from Puccini, but its score sounds very classic Hollywood. So I decided to buy and I planned on streaming it at a later date.

That later date turned out to be today once I returned home from the restaurant hungry with nostalgia. I watched M. Butterfly and loved the story. There’s a big element of surprise, so I won’t go into any details other than to say it is a love story between a French diplomat in Beijing and a Beijing opera singer. This is based on a true story so I’m curious find more books about this affair.

6. Día de Reyes

6. Día de Reyes

I didn’t really set out to write a post every single day again, but it kinda turned into it. This time–because I missed a few days–I’m going to give myself the flexibility of writing something about each day even if it’s a few days after the fact. With that said, this post is about Día de Reyes, and of course the end product of my first attempt at making the rosca.

To my surprise, it came out quite good. Some people in my family even said that I’m now on the hook for baking one every year as part of a new family tradition. It took a bit of work and lots of preparation, but I couldn’t agree more. I had so much fun baking this and I was filled with joy to see everyone enjoying it.

5. Found Jesus and started my baking adventure

5. Found Jesus and started my baking adventure

I found Jesus! Okay, I’m actually referring to the white plastic figurines that are supposed to represent baby Jesus in the Rosca de reyes (King’s bread). I knew the East LA bakeries wouldn’t let me down. I found these at El Gallo Bakery. Now I have everything I need.

To make this bread, there will be a lot of mixing and kneading and a total of 3 rises. I was tempted to buy one of those Kitchenaid stand mixers on my way home, but I resisted the urge. That would have been way too much money to spend on something I’m not even sure I’ll end up doing on a regular basis. So instead I decided to just go about it the old-fashioned way. Mix and knead the dough with my bare hands.

It ends up being a bit of a workout. I have a renewed respect for bakers. Despite the work, I really enjoyed the process so far. There is something incredibly satisfying about creating something with your hands and watching it come together. So far everything is looking good and my dough is currently sitting in the refrigerator for it’s second and longest rise. I’m really praying, hoping, crossing my fingers that all of the ingredients pictures above magically turn into a beautiful and delicious bread.

4. Preparing for Día de los reyes

4. Preparing for Día de los reyes

The 12 days of Christmas are nearly gone–and you thought “happy holidays” and December 25th were the end of that. Nope, we’re a few days away from Día de los reyes (the epiphany) and this year I will attempt to make the rosca from scratch. I went to my local Mexican supermarket to buy the ingredients and I was in shock to see well over a thousand roscas ready to go. It’s good to know I will have lots of backup in case my baking project fails.

I managed to get all of the ingredients, but I could not find the little white figures that you’re supposed to stick in the bread. I will try a few bakeries in East LA tomorrow to see if I can find them.

3. Productive!

3. Productive!

I am kicking myself for carrying around my camera all day except when I went to go get some dessert! Oh well, I can only imagine how beautiful my egg waffle would look using my camera instead of my phone. I first tried this style of waffle in Hong Kong and so I wanted to relive that memory for a bit.

I’ll keep today short because I was super productive both at work and at home. I completed all the tasks and chores I set out to do and ran into my leisure time. So I will now squeeze just a bit of reading before heading to bed. 🙂

2. Time to get organized

2. Time to get organized

I don’t get tired of looking at these snow-covered mountains. Pictures to not capture the full beauty of it.

It’s my last day before going back to work. I have not been in the office since early December. I’m hoping they’ll let us work remotely full time again due to the rise in COVID-19 cases, but only a few days in the office is not too bad. I will need to put my organizational and productivity skills to the test in order to hit the ground running.

On that note, my goal for this year is to really organize all areas of my life so that I don’t waste any second and every second is lived with intention. I tend to shy away from “resolutions” because I feel that they’re doomed from the very beginning. Or maybe I and many others are interpret the idea of a resolution in the wrong way. You’re supposed to commit to something to an entire year, start strong from the very beginning, and you can’t mess it up. A sort of 365 project? With that in mind, my resolution is a goal. A finish line. A destination. I’m defining the end and figuring out tweaking the means as I go along.

To be a well-organized individual by the end of 2022. It sounds vague when I put it that way, but I intend on following the steps and tasks of the book called, One Year to an Organized Life. Each week you’re tasked with something new. In my reading for this week, I came across three quotes I really liked.

  • There is a place for everything, and everything should be in its place.
  • How you do anything is how you do everything. – Zen proverb
  • A dream is the starting point. It won’t take you to where you want to go. A plan of action takes you to fulfillment.

With all of this in mind, I planned out most of my week and even prepped everything I am going to need in the morning! I don’t think I’ve ever done that!

1. Happy New Year

1. Happy New Year

Well, let this be the first picture of the year while I decide about whether I do a daily thing. We’ve had quite the stormy weather these last couple of weeks and today was the first time I had a chance to see the mountains. They seem far in the picture, but they’re actually quite close. Boy did they look beautiful today! It stopped raining a couple of days ago, but the mountains have been hiding behind the clouds until today.

It’s the first day of 2022 and the rate of COVID-19 infections is far worse than it has ever been. We rang it 2020 with no idea of what was in store. We rang in 2021 thinking if could not be any worse than 2020. And now we’re at 2022 that is starting far worse pandemic-wise. This time, however, there is hope. There are tons of people vaccinated and at least here in California mask-wearing continues to be widespread.

I chose this picture after deciding against another one that was a little more personal to me. However, this picture turned out to be a good fit for today. I was having a pleasant walk while admiring the mountains. There was a tumbleweed obstructing my path, but it didn’t take away anything from my view of the mountains or the pleasantness of my walk. It is a good metaphor to how my day went: an small obstacle in my path that couldn’t take anything away from all the good things in my life.

New Cookbook

New Cookbook

I got a new cookbook for Christmas from my Sister. It is Pati Jinich’s Treasures of the Mexican Table. I’ve been obsessed with this chef ever since I stumbled upon her cooking show. I love her show because she takes the time to describe the history behind each dish that she prepares and will also go to the places that are known for that particular dish. It’s a nice dose of delicious food and culture.

Calabacitas de Tapachula – My version looks quite a bit less appetizing than the one pictured in the cookbook, but I assure you it was quite delicious. I’m not one to usually go for an all veggie dish, but this seemed healthy and loved every step of the process. From roasting the Chiles Poblanos for the sauce to removing the leaves from a corn to shave off the kernels. The added treat was the cubes of Queso Panela.

Sopa de lima – This was the first dish we tried from the cookbook and it was absolutely delicious! The soup was very flavorful and it came out looking pretty close to the picture. The only thing different I would do next time is not leave the lime slices for garnish in the soup for too long. The lime skins added bitterness to the soup as they stayed in the broth.

Tortillería La California

Tortillería La California

I’m not sure why my mom first started coming here, but I suspect it’s because it is the closest tortillería. Every year for as long as I can remember, we come here to get forty pounds of masa preparada to make the annual tamales for New Year’s Eve. Over the years the building has changed colors from white with murals, to blue, green, and now orange. A testament to its heritage from a land that is not afraid of using bright colors on its buildings. Other than the change in color, time seems to have stood still at this place. You still order from the same windows inside a foyer (for lack of a better word) and through the black metal screen security doors you can get a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes action, and in the background hiding in the dark there is always always a live tree decorated with a few strands of lights. I got lucky, because there is usually a long wait and cars stack parked behind each other, but today it was easy to get the masa.