Monday, November 28, 2016

Hello Readers!
Hope you've enjoyed content on my blog so far.

I am moving content to a new site:

There are new posts there, enjoy! I will be closing this site by January 2017.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Nashville Coffee Culture

Earlier this week A and I visited Nashville and were pleasantly surprised at its amazing coffee culture! I learned so much this week and we so enjoyed the coffee experience, we felt a need to share :). This will be our first joint post (A will be reviewing the methods and chose the videos)!

Cup of coffee from Crema

Being a coffee and caffeine novice, I was at first overwhelmed with all the options and overly energetic from all the caffeine. However, A is a coffee connoisseur and dove head first into the coffee scene. Under the excellent guidance of our wonderful hosts M and K, we were given a list of must-try coffee places. A is fanatical about his coffee and has at least 2 coffee breaks a day so we scheduled a tour of Nashville's finest, 2 a day for the 3 full days we were there (we went to 4 coffee houses total because we revisited 2 that we liked so much)! It didn't hurt that our visit was in the middle of the "polar vortex" and despite traveling from Pittsburgh to Nashville, temps were still at a chilling 3 degrees one night and generally 10-20 degrees during the day, so hiding in warm coffee shops was definitely a highlight when we were so cold.

First off, I would say what makes the Nashville coffee culture so special is the amount of shops that offer pour-over coffee and siphon coffee(intro here). This is something we have never seen offered in Pittsburgh, though all our higher end coffee shops seem to sell the equipment. The most popular pour-over coffee options offered in Nashville included V60, Chemex, and also the Siphon method.

I had no concept of what all this meant until I got to see it all happen! Things that make pour-over special is that each cup is made especially for you and is perfected down to a science. The barista often wets the paper filter first to wash out the paper taste. The water is always a very exact temperature ideal for the method of brewing, likely between 195-205 degrees F. The coffee is ground very exactly to the perfect size grind to optimize flavor (most coffee grinders in the shops were $200-400), and then weighed as is the water for perfect ratios. Once the coffee grind is in the filter, the initial pour over is just a small amount and allows the coffee to "bloom", let all the CO2 out, for 30-50 secs. Then the rest of water is meticulously poured with a long spouted kettle to allow the grinds to marinate the necessary time and voila! coffee! Whew, an exhausting process which per A is worth every penny per cup.

Brief intros:

  1. V60

The V60 is known for its cone-shaped dripper with spiral ridges along the inner wall which keeps the filter from sticking to the walls of the cone and encourages extraction. The paper filter is the thinnest of the pour over filters and it is known to be especially good for fruity, floral coffees.
Step by step of how to brew with a v60 here.

A's review: V60 yielded a very solid cup of coffee. It is very similar in taste to the Chemex (see below),however inferior. Still very good. The brewing method is also a bit too vanilla for my taste.

A is Enjoying V60 at Barista Parlor

2. Chemex

The Chemex involves an thick paper filter over a glass decanter. The wooden ring here is used when handling the hot glass. Because the filter sits flush against the glass walls, the "dwell" time is longer, and brewing becomes less dependent on the user. It is good for yielding a clean, sweet cup of coffee, good for bright, fruity coffees.
Step by step on Chemex brewing here.

A's review: The Chemex yielded a cleaner and richer cup of coffee than the V60. Plus, the inventor won a design award, so I appreciate its fanciness. It seems easy to do at home.

A enjoying a cup of Burundi coffee with Chemex at Roast, Inc.

3. Siphon 

Note: Siphon coffee is not a pour over method, but it's so cool!
 Using the vapor pressure of water and then a vacuum, it pulls water into the two different compartments naturally. Invented in Berlin in the 1830s, it is strangely reminiscent of a chemistry set. This coffee is said to be lighter and juicier.
Step by step of Siphon brewing here.

A's reviews: Best cup of coffee in my life. Lots of body to the coffee, yet all the subtle flavors came out. The brewing method is very elegant as is the entire set up to the siphon. An experience!

Beautiful siphon coffee at Roast, Inc.

In general, we enjoyed the coffee scene very much. Per A, the ideal home brewing method may be the Chemex for its superior flavor over the v60. That being said, he still loves his Aeropress which was sold in many of the stores but was not offered as a brewing method. The Siphon was wonderful and a treat, but at $100 or so for the apparatus and increased brewing time, not ideal for a daily routine.

Our favorite coffee shops by order:
1. Roast, Inc. /2108 8th Ave S.
Our favorite. Wonderful coffee beans (Burundi was our fave) and a separate brewing bar were the baristas took us to explain how they did things. Very enjoyable. 
2. Barista Parlor / 519 B Gallatin St.
A crowd favorite with a "stage" where the baristas are brewing in the center of the room. Very cool atmosphere and good coffee. Also delicious lattes.
3. Crema /15 Hermitage Ave.
In the summer, a lovely porch outside with a great view of downtown Nashville. Quaint inside, redone garage feel.
4. Dose / 3134 Murphy Rd.
Bright, and quiet small space. Good for studying and working. Not very memorable coffee in A's book.

There are probably 3-4 more hand pour coffee shops in Nashville we did not make it to. Inquire with a local barista for the full list. We shall have to visit again!

Salt n whiskey latte at Barista Parlor, delicious.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

48 hours in Philadelphia

This posting is long overdue. But in the hiatus, I survived pre-match jitters and matched to my top choice residency. I was so thrilled and have been celebrating and getting ready for this next phase of my life. 

I was blessed with a vacation month this April so I did some small fun trips. 
A and I planned a weekend trip to Philadelphia and I thought I would share my itinerary with you all. I scoured the library guidebooks (Lonely Planet was the best) and combined what was recommended by nytimes (I have a love affair with their "36 hours in..." series) to bring you.. 48 hours in Philadelphia!!!

Day #1:
We got Friday off, so we headed towards Philly at 10am (5 hours planned drive). We hit some traffic so only got to our (love this site!) hosts at 5pm ish but we managed to rush and squeeze in/see from the outside most of what we wanted to see this day. Our assignment was to hit up...

  1. Liberty Bell, Old City Hall
  2. Franklin Court - tribute to Ben Franklin (closes at 5), can see his innovations/fireproof building
  3. Elizabeth Alley and Betsy Ross House (closes at 6)
  4. US Mint (closes at 4:30, free admission)
  5. Dinner options:
    1. The Continental/Martini Bar, retro, lots of food variety., this was the restaurant we ended up choosing. It was a bit pricey but I loved the vibe and atmosphere and my tofu tempura and bruschetta were so delicious.
    A and I got an appetizer of Szechuan shoestring fries with spicy mayo sauce. A bit of a challenge to eat!
    My scrumptious tofu tempura with plenty of creamy avocado.
    The Continental is very conveniently located in Old City and the people watching is excellent. ;)
    1. Amada- Spanish Tapas-
    2. Zahav- mediterranean, nytimes, rave reviews, pricey according to our hosts!!!,
    3. Franklin Fountain-, old fashioned desserts! Did not make it here but wish we could have.
  6. Comedy show- 8pm-9:30. The N Crowd- 257 N 3rd street. $12 in advance. We really enjoyed the show, very intimiate just 50 people and 6 improv actors right in front of you. They get the audience involved in suggestions and taking cues from your daily lives. A really pleasant way to spend an evening on the cheap! And very walkable from everything in Old City.
We were very exhausted and tired by this time in the day but had a great time hanging out with another couple (J and S :))at the Dave and Buster's right on the water front.

DAY #2:
Our goal was to tackle Center City and all the markets this day. We woke up at a leisurely 9am and had a wonderful spread of pastries and omelettes by our hosts to get us energized for the day ahead. We were staying south of the Italian Market so we walked there first.

My favorite piece of art in the Magic Garden galleries.
  1. Italian Market- mostly produce/meats etc out on the street. Apparently some great bakeries etc around the area (we were recommended the cannoli's at Isgro's, which were indeed yummy but I still love Mike's Pastries in Boston). Fante's was also highly recommended by our hosts if you like fancy kitchen cookware or just more specialty stuff like gold sprinkles :).
  2. Magic Gardens- gorgeous and a very cool artsy area. If you like mosaics this is a place to stop by. We were inspired to make a mosaic from this visit and its a great photo op. To quote Nytimes:  "an art center and endearingly bizarre outdoor maze of mortar, bicycle tires, bottles, textiles, artwork and tchotchkes...Isaiah Zagar’s magnum opus is a multitextured, multilayered labyrinth that leaves visitors amused, if maybe puzzled. “I think it communicates something, but I don’t know what that is,” said Mr. Zagar, who frequently roams his creations and obligingly fields questions from visitors."
  3. Me in the Magic Gardens
  4. Pine St. "Historic Antique Row": Between S 13th and S10th street I believe. This street is so quaint with a scattering of antique shops and fun home design stores. A great 20-30 minute detour. We would highly recommend.
  5. Detour: We then walked towards Pennsylvania Hospital because I wanted to see the nation's oldest surgical amphitheater. You are supposed to be able to get a free walking tour guide pamphlet at the info desk but this part of the hosp is closed on weekends. My bad!
  6. Reading Terminal Market: (we've been walking north all this while) and we finally hit Market st.! This market is indoors and the entrance is through a sketchy tunnel. It was fun to roam around to find LUNCH and I got some culinary souvenirs here. I found an authentic philly soft pretzel after much searching (Lonely planet says it should be rectangular in shape and stuck to other pretzels). Very hectic though!
  7. The chaos of the Reading Terminal Market
  8. Mutter Museum: Note (up to this point, everything has been somewhat in a logical walking order in from South philly to Center City). We took a big detour to the west to go to this medical oddities museum. It was so worth it ($10 for students) and fun given I am medstudent.
  9. Mutter Museum. Gross and Cool! (pic from
  10. Dinner at Chinatown (also a big detour, but not bad if you are already in Center City): We went to Nanzhou handrawn noodle house, which had such rave reviews I was dying to go! The noodles were such a great texture and I loved the peanut sauce on mine. A got the House special meatball soup noodles. And tried bubble tea for the first time (very mediocre here, but for $1.75, I can't complain).

8. We finished up the night by trekking all the way to UPENN, had cocktails, then watched a great comedy with our friends J and S, 21 Jump St. I loved it. Sometimes I wish I was back in high school...

9. A wanted a midnight snack when we got back to our B&B, so how convenient that Geno's and Pat's (of cheesesteak FAME) were only 6 short blocks away?

Ironically, we ended up choosing Pat's (because it had the longer line when we got there). I did not partake in cheesesteak eating, but their fries were excellent. I was also here pre-veggie days and I can't even remember which one I liked most! Share one from each place, everyone recommends!

Day #3: 

West Philly and UPENN
Sunday, our last day in Philly! :(. 
We woke up, enjoyed our breakfast then drove to (btw Philly is a city of street parking just fyi)...

1. Boathouse Row: Very pretty. I wanted to see all the crew houses up close. Great for a morning walk and almost made me want to row again. However, we were behind all the houses, not sure how to get the lovely front view without being on the highway.
And old picture of boathouse row that I found, and love (www.
2. We finished up at UPENN. A wanted a tour of Wharton, but unfortunately you need a student ID to get into anywhere on the weekend. Still, it was a gorgeous area and I got to meet a very special man...
Thanks for a great weekend, philly!
and.. extra thanks to J and S who were excellent hosts all weekend :).

Thursday, December 22, 2011


I am on a blog writing hiatus until rank lists are formally submitted (mid-february), in case this was not already obvious.
The road to residency has been exciting and tiring and I have been coast to coast and on plane to subway navigating my way through figuring out what is the right program and place for me! 4th year is definitely not as relaxing as some say!

Excited to update soon...and figure out some new year's resolutions.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Melodious Monday Blues

I was hoping to post a bunch on my spring break trip to San Francisco and D.C., but that will all come later as I am now on my acting internship (OB/GYNE). I am having a great learning experience on the cancer surgery floor, though sometimes the sad stories can get me down. I've been listening to music nonstop outside the hospital so I thought I'd share some of my absolute favorites the past week.

Please enjoy. And remember to live life to the fullest.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Got that glitter on my eyes...

This past weekend a celebrity (I think even the most critical of you would still call her a celebrity! haha) rolled into town to play at Pitt's Spring weekend. Now, I don't usually like the artists that come for spring weekends- I remember a lot of rap artists coming to MIT (though I volunteered at a lot of these concerts, I can't say I ever appreciated the music), but this time I was  excited mainly because she has some hits that I love to dance to.
My top faves include- Tik Tok, Your Love is my Drug, We R who we R, Blow... you know those obnoxious dance tuns that play at clubs/radio. So you guessed it- Ke$ha came to town, in all her $$$ glory.

We had an unreal weekend of AMAZING weather (high of 80s on Sunday) and it was like we were destined to live out our Sunday like undergrads without a care in the world. The concert had a great showing- tons of hipsters/girls covered in glitter and I thought she gave a good performance and was just as she thought I'd be. There were some super funky costumes and back up dancing, but I loved it all. Pitt Med students somehow coalesced amongst the mobs and we hung out on Schenley Oval afterwards. :)

 Check out the awesome animal hats they were wearing... Ke$ha is to the side of the stage.
 We're dancing like we're dumb-dum-duh-duh-duh dumb 
Pretending/Wishing we are hipster undergrads moshing at Ke$ha's concert! hahaha.. medicine has turned me delirious...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

JLee does...Grapefruit honey yogurt scones

Every once in awhile I find a recipe while blog-browsing and think to myself, I NEED to make this. I'm easily won over by 
1. beautiful food photography 
2. interesting ingredients 
3. anything vegan 
4. witty/funny food blogging which makes me believe that if I make the food of a certain blogger I will somehow become witty/funny too...not so much. :p 

Anyways, is one of my favorite food bloggers and I say this recipe one day and thought, my goodness- grapefruit in a baked good- mon dieu! This is something I must armed with my credit card in hand... I swallowed my pride and bought a full priced grapefruit at Giant Eagle (don't even get me started on their outrageous produce prices) and some Greek yogurt that would allow me to make those baked beauties. 

That night I dove into the dough with my hands and got MESSY. I zested, juiced, and segmented that grapefruit (though not Ruby Red as desired by the recipe) til my arms hurt. The recipe calls for making what sounded like a divine "grapefruit sugar" by mixing the zest with sugar and pounding them together. The final result.. (you were hoping something out of this world huh?) was something interesting, with moderate grapefruit flavor, but not something I would make again (weh wehhh). Joy, I still love you and your blog.
Grapefruit honey scones, though I will admit, it was my first time making scones!
 Check out that lovely yellow grapefruit zest + sugar

However, I comforted myself by making a simultaneous batch of fool-proof Ghiradhelli turtle brownies, YUM.
I loved baked goods, can you tell? I only hope that I always will have others to unload calories onto share with. ;)