Sunday, December 31, 2006

Wake Me Up Before You Fro-Yo

Cupcakes are so yesterday. I love my Sprinkles, Leda's, and SusieCakes, but 16 post-wedding pounds later, I'm ready to hop (well, with my winter quasi-hibernation padding, more like roll) onto the latest less fattening foodie bandwagon -- "sour" frozen yogurt.

This is no ordinary frozen yogurt. Banish from your head any images of pimply-faced teens serving you craptastic TCBY fodder or pints of oh-so-sad fake Ben & Jerry's when what you really crave is real ice cream.

Ice, Ice, BabyNo, this is the real deal I'm talking about. It's known as sour frozen yogurt, tart frozen yogurt, Korean frozen yogurt, or Italian frozen yogurt. According to the Los Angeles Times, this is "the taste that launched 1,000 parking tickets."

I had to try it myself to see if this magical yogurt lived up to the hype.

Result? Yum. But not exactly Mr. Pibb + Red Vines, if you know what I mean. I like it, but I probably wouldn't wait in a serpentine line for it, as I would (and have) for cupcakes. Yes, I am an idiot. Shut up.

If you are familiar with Yakult or Calpis, the tang of sour frozen yogurt will come as no surprise to you. The taste is a far cry from highly sweetened American fro-yo. The consistency is somewhat similar, albeit not as creamy (as it is not meant to be a facsimile of soft-serve ice cream), and the tartness is undeniable. Very little sugar resides in sour frozen yogurt, leaving the acidity to penetrate and linger on your exultant tastebuds. It's not an overpowering sourness. It's a delightful oomph. This is real yogurt.

Prince o' PuckerThe current reigning champ of sour frozen yogurt in Los Angeles is pinkberry, although some say that pinkberry is actually a rip-off of Red Mango, which has yet to make the same impact here as it has in Korea. And, for the record, Red Mango is allegedly a rip-off of Baby Yogurt in Italy. Who knew there were so many iterations?

The ChallengerLooking to challenge pinkberry's prince of pucker status in Los Angeles are ce fiore and Kiwiberri, which has been labeled by some as Fourth Generation Yogurt (i.e., a copy of a copy of a copy of the OG sour frozen yogurt). Foodies seem to be quite disdainful of poor Kiwiberri and have openly bashed it as being a pale imitation of the real thing.

I haven't tried Red Mango or the much maligned Kiwiberri yet, but I have had pinkberry and ce fiore, both of which are delectable. Each store offers a range of toppings for your little mountain of swirled goodness, ranging from fruity friends (strawberries, kiwi, pineapple, bananas, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries) to crunchy companions (almonds, granola, Oreos) to cereal sidekicks (Cap'n Crunch, Fruity Pebbles, Coco Puffs). You can also opt for yummy rice cakes, a.k.a. mochi, dduk, or tteok.

Hmm.  What to choose?It may sound blasphemous, but I think I prefer ce fiore over the vaunted pinkberry. Stop your gasping! To me, ce fiore has a slightly better mouth feel. It is a bit less icy than pinkberry and doesn't melt as quickly. Perhaps I need to do a blindfolded side-by-side taste test like those Coke vs. Pepsi challenges back in the day, but I have had both ce fiore and pinkberry in the last 24 hours (yes, I'm crazy), so I have a good memory of what both taste like.

Yabba-dabba-doo-liciouspinkberry only has two flavors (plain and green tea), whereas ce fiore has four (plain, sour, green tea, and blackberry). For those who are not huge fans of the characteristic sour note of this genre of yogurt, ce fiore's "plain" is a good option, as it is slightly less tangy. (ce fiore's "sour" is a slightly more sour approximation of pinkberry's "plain," which is a tad more sour than ce fiore's "plain.") Also, those craving more flavor will likely enjoy ce fiore's blackberry. I got ce fiore's "sour" yesterday with Fruity Pebbles. Yabba-dabba-doo-licious.

Today, I had pinkberry's "plain" with rice cakes, strawberries, and kiwi. Mmm. It was great, but it confirmed my suspicion that I am still a bigger fan of ce fiore. Plus, ce fiore has stamp cards, so my tenth yogurt is free. Yay for freebies.

My favorite part of joining the yogurt craze is that I can indulge without guilt. This stuff is fat-free and 25 calories an ounce. It's cool and refreshing. It makes you feel clean after eating it, if that makes any sense.

However, like boba milk tea, sour frozen yogurt is not for everybody. While some rave about it, others react in the opposite manner. Case in point: some on Chowhound have dubbed it "Stinkberry."

Different strokes for different folks.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Movie Mania

This is a variation of something I posted on my local Knot board yesterday in response to a knottie's query about what movie she should see this weekend.

Here are my capsule takes on a few recent flicks I've seen:

Babel: This was like Crash around the world but more nuanced and without artificial hit-you-over-the-head preachiness. The acting was impressive, although I found the Japanese storyline rather odd. Unlike Crash, this movie didn't suck. Deserves its accolades and nominations.

Blood Diamond
Great action. Surprisingly, Leonardo DiCaprio's accent was not annoying. No filler, until the nice overly tidy end -- should've ended about 10-15 minutes earlier, but I enjoyed this nonetheless. Worth your time.

Just terrible. Terrible! I saw it at a free screening, so I didn't feel like I'd wasted money, but I did feel like I lost precious time from my life. It had such a promising ensemble cast, but the film totally failed for some reason. Freddy Rodriguez was a beacon of goodness in a sea of mediocrity.

The Departed
Excellent, excellent, excellent entertainment. Easily the most exciting movie I've seen this year thus far. If you want an action-packed few hours, this is the movie for you. Everybody was so good -- DiCaprio, Damon, Nicholson, and Wahlberg! Love Marky Mark's character.

Fast Food Nation: Interesting adaptation of the non-fiction best seller, which I read back in 2001. Don't waste your time or money in the theatre, though. Just wait for the DVD.

Flags of Our Fathers
: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz. I'm not kidding. I literally fell asleep in the theatre. Sad, I know. It was boring, contrived, and stupid. Sorry, Clint.

The Good Shepherd
: Long. Very long. But well done. However, if you're not ready to sit and think and watch a slow methodical film, don't do it. Matt Damon was fantastic, but Angelina Jolie was sorely miscast.

Letters From Iwo Jima: Superb war film. It didn't feel like an American film at all. Subtle, well shot, good characters. It's pretty amazing. Go see it. This makes up for Flags of Our Fathers, Clint. Thanks.

Little Miss Sunshine: Cute and sunny, yet simultaneously dark. Reminds me how creepy the world of Jon-Benet Ramsey was. If you like indie, you'll love it. Fantastic cast.

Stranger Than Fiction
: Nice matinee choice. Good acting by Will Ferrell and Emma Thompson. Fun concept.

I'm hoping to see Dreamgirls, Little Children, Notes on a Scandal, The Queen, and Volver soon...maaaaybe The Pursuit of Happyness if I'm feeling schmaltzy and maaaaybe Apocalypto if I'm feeling like slogging through several hours of Mel Gibson's craziness.

As an aside, lest you think I live at the movie theatres, I watched a few of these with my little brother on screener's copies. Ah, the perks of having a relative in a Guild.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The End of an Era

"LAST ISSUE: Your subscription has expired. To avoid missing issues it's urgent you return the attached renewal card right away."

A moment of silence, please.

R.I.P., Martha Stewart Weddings subscription.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Music Makes the People Come Together

Music makes the bourgeoisie and the rebels....

Band or DJ? Band or DJ? Band or DJ?

[head spins a la Linda Blair in The Exorcist]

Live entertainment, live energy
Cons: Expensive, possible limited range of genres

Inexpensive, broad range of genres
Cons: Less lavish feel, possible cheese

Lucky for us, our budget allowed for a wonderful band, and I can't say enough good things about them. We booked The Chuck Wansley Band through deBois Productions. It was a pleasure working with deBois, and The Chuck Wansley Band was phenomenal.

The Chuck Wansley Band had extraordinary showmanship and an impressive songlist -- everything from the 1920s through the present day. They played Usher, Outkast, Beyonce, No Doubt, Black Eyed Peas, etc. at our wedding. If you play some of the clips off their website, you'll appreciate my gushing. Also, Chuck Wansley was so charismatic and pronounced all of our names correctly (no easy feat with various Asian and Greek names). Truly outstanding. We had three members of the 11-piece band play during our ceremony and cocktail hour, as well. Our guests still rave about the band to this day!

Play that funky music, white boy. This woman could belt it out like no other.
Bringing sax-y back.

If you can swing the expense, I highly recommend getting a band. There's just something exciting about live music!

Oh, and you can't do the following with a DJ....

Karaoke time!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Picture Perfect

Question: What's left after the vows are exchanged and cake is cut?
A big mess!

Your photographer is undoubtedly one of the most important vendors that you will book. Your photographer is the one person who is responsible for capturing your memories for...well, eternity. Dramatic, I know, but it's true. The best advice I can give on this front is this -- don't skimp on your photographer. You will regret it.

We really loved our photographer, Jenny Stafford from Red Loft Studios. She had an incredible eye for detail, a flair for the artistic, and a natural photojournalistic talent. To top it off, she was young, exuberant, and fun! It was so wonderful to work with someone so dynamic and professional. It is easy to see why we picked Red Loft Studios. (Forgive the crappy cropping on my part!)

Check out Say Cheese, the blog of Red Loft Studios and my bio for more examples of Jenny's excellent work!

Hmm. You're still reading, huh? Well, if you're interested in learning about another great photog we considered, read on....

First, let me say that I'm thoroughly satisfied with having picked Red Loft Studios. Beyond satisfied. Ecstatic. Wouldn't change my decision at all. That being said, our runner-up seemed lovely, and it was so hard to tell her that we were going with someone else! I did a lot of research regarding photogs and interviewed five. The other three photogs we interviewed paled in comparison to Red Loft Studios and the runner-up, Jules Bianchi. I guess it's no surprise that both Jenny and Jules have been featured multiple times in The Knot magazine.

Jules Bianchi is quirky, creative, and totally cool. I really liked her interesting vantage points and love for the out-of-the-ordinary. Take a look at her blog to get a visual of what I mean.

Oh, and I love this -- a pic of Jenny and Jules together! So much fun and talent in one photo!

Jenny and Jules!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Ho Ho Homer Simpson

I woke up this morning very hungry. Visions of sugar-plums did not dance in my head. I had arisen from this wonderful dream about being surrounded by pancetta. It was everywhere and raining from the sky on top of me. Mmm...pancetta.

Merry Christmas from your resident weirdo!

Ho, Ho, Homer!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Tangerine Dream

The color white sucks. Technically, white isn't even a color, if my vague recollection of high school physics serves me right. Billy Idol is awesome and all, but no day was a nice day for a white wedding in my book. Major snoozeville, dudes. I love color. The brighter, the better!

How did I come up with my color scheme? It wasn't hard. Here are some things I like:

I have this watch! Handy dandy case for your iPodSleepy time

Then I thought, "What can I pair with orange?" One option was this combo:

Oh, orange and aqua, I still think of you sometimes.

Sweet, right? I love love love orange and aqua together! But, after much contemplation about ease of decor and floral arrangements, I decided against the orange-aqua motif. Instead, I quashed my usual anti-girlie self and went with this loud hue to complement my tangerine dream. I convinced myself that, as long as it didn't conjure thoughts of bubble gum or cotton candy, pink was not only ok, it was fabulous!

No need for fancy schmancy wedding mags. Color inspiration can come from everyday objects:

Helloooooo Kitty!I love Tarina Tarantino!

Going dottyDoorknob!You snooze, you win!Kate Spade knows what she's doing.

Protect your pocket! Lamps from outer space?

Cuuuuuuute Bold bowl

More Tarina! Travel with your utensils

Thus began the orange and fuchsia madness.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Tying the Knot in a Museum

Some peeps get married in churches. Some peeps get married in hotels. Some peeps get married at country clubs. We tied the knot in a museum.

Why a museum? I'm a modernist. I like my design free of the overly ornate and frou-frou. And, yet, I wanted a place that still had built-in visual interest.

Or maybe I just read From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler too many times as a child.

In any event, it couldn't be just any museum. It had to be a place that didn't make me feel like I had to speak in hushed tones. It had to be a place that embodied the contemporary. It had to be a place that emanated vibrancy.

I (yes, I -- the hubs didn't care where the heck we got married) narrowed down the choices to the following venues:

Possible Venue 1: The Aquarium of the Pacific
The hubs and I love animals. Every trip we take is to a land filled with wildlife -- Kenya, Tanzania, the Galapagos Islands, and our honeymoon to Australia. In fact, I even toyed briefly with the idea with trekking down to get married at the world-famous San Diego Zoo!

Thinking slightly more locally, I turned to The Aquarium of the Pacific. What could be better than getting married amidst cool live sea creatures? And imagine dining under a gigantic replica of a blue whale!

In the end, we decided the catering packages didn't suit us, but the Aquarium coordinators were very friendly and responsive, so I'm sure that it would be a lovely place to get married. If you are interested in the Aquarium for your wedding, you can check out the info here.

Possible Venue 2: The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County was appealing to me for a number of reasons. It was centrally located, spacious, and steeped with awesome photo-ops alongside elephants and dinosaurs.

Sadly, the Natural History Museum never became a real option. I sent multiple e-mails and left even more voicemails to no avail. It was not until nearly a month later after my barrage of communications that I finally got a call back. By that time, I had already been in touch with and visited other possible venues, and the excessively delayed response time concerned me enough to rule out the Natural History Museum altogether.

If the events coordinator took a month to return a simple e-mail or phone call, what kind of experience would I have had with her while planning our wedding? Too risky! Nevertheless, it would've been cool if she had her act together. Click here for the 411 if you're the gambling type.

Possible Venue 3: Long Beach Museum of Art
While the hubs would far rather trek through a rainforest than stroll through the Louvre (a big reason why we've taken the adventure-filled vacations we have together, as opposed to any European extravaganzas that I must convince the hubs to take in the future), I am a big fan of the arts.

It would've been a total dream to have our wedding at the gorgeous Walt Disney Concert Hall, but it was $200 per person for just food -- drinks not included! (Instead, we did part of our engagement shoot there, so at least I have some sweet photos of us at one of my dream venues.) With our extensive guest list and our non-celebrity budget, my beloved Walt Disney Concert Hall was not a possibility.

Then I found the Long Beach Museum of Art. It was a far cry from the Walt Disney Concert Hall. In fact, it was nothing like the Walt Disney Concert Hall at all. However, it did satisfy my dream of a venue that paid tribute to my love of fine art, and it was budget-friendly.

Because of our growing guest list, the Long Beach Museum of Art eventually became an unviable option. We enjoyed our visit there. It has gorgeous oceanfront views and beautiful set-up potential. The facilities manager was also very helpful, informative, and prompt in responding to my inquiries.

I'm sure getting married there would be a wonderful experience. If you're interested, check this out. Also, take a look at the bios of misscarriefacey and oct142006bride, who both got married there in 2006 (albeit not to each other).

Possible Venue 4: The Autry National Center
During my quest to find the perfect museum venue, I came across The Autry National Center. At first, it didn't strike me as a place that fit us. After all, neither of us is a big western buff. Cowboys and guns and saloons and tumbleweeds do nothing for me. The Autry National Center almost didn't even make my list of sites to contact and visit! Thank God I was so intent on checking out all museum possibilities.

I loved The Autry! As I walked through the Plaza, Lobby, and Heritage Court, I could picture getting married there. Even the hubs had a positive reaction, which spoke volumes, as he was indifferent to every other place we visited. He especially liked Heritage Court, which spans two stories. I knew this would be an impressive room for the ceremony. Further, both the events supervisor and in-house caterer were phenomenal, which gave me instant peace of mind. An added bonus included a spacious free parking lot and a central, easily accessible location for our guests.

The Autry was modern but warm -- simultaneously contemporary and inviting.

Going once. Going twice. Sold.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Hi! My Name Is [What?]...My Name Is [Who?]

My name is...not Slim Shady. I thought I'd take a brief moment to introduce myself to any readers (all two of you).

I was born in New York City. It was cold there.
I moved to Southern California when I was four. As a result of having a Mexican babysitter when I was young, in addition to speaking English, Mandarin, and Taiwanese, I also speak fairly good conversational Spanish. Growing up, I was really really nerdy good at school, won piano competitions, and did a bunch of extracurricular activities. With the exception of not being outstanding at either math or science, I was pretty much a living, breathing Asian-American stereotype.
I did all my higher education on the East Coast. I went to college in Cambridge, MA. Then I ventured to Washington, DC and earned a law degree. I have since returned to California.
harvard grad
Having been denied television during my childhood, I have more than made up for that deprivation in my adulthood. Some call me The Walking TV Guide. My favorite band is Weezer. I have an abnormally obsessive penchant for Paul Frank paraphernalia. I like singing and dancing, despite the fact that I am not particularly good at either. I really like food. I think exercising is the devil. I sweat easily. Correlation between those last two points? Perhaps.

I am not completely enthralled with the practice of law, but I am good at what I do and thankful for my job. I like the place where and the people with whom I work. I like the color orange. I don't cook. I'm allergic to chocolate, but I still eat it sometimes. I hate cats. I love to travel. I have a weird sense of humor. Tact is not my forte. Oftentimes, I am honest to a fault.
And that's me in a nutshell.
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