Dinner with Irenia Supper Club

One of my hobbies lately is tracking the development and progression of this trend called the “Filipino Food Movement.” It’s a hashtag I’ve been using to promote my own culture’s food–more often when I eat out but also on the rare occasion when I cook something at home. I’m hoping Filipino food gets more traction internationally, just like how Vietnamese, Korean, and Thai food are familiar to Western palates now.

In support of such awareness and growth of Filipino cuisine in my own neighborhood, I attended one of Irenia Supper Club‘s pop-up dinners in Costa Mesa, CA. Yesterday was my first time going to such an event, and it was a great introduction into the world of fine dining. Irenia Supper Club is the brainchild of Chef Ryan Garlitos, who named his restaurant after his grandmother Irenia. “…the Irenia Supper Club aims to create modern Filipino inspired dishes that are reflective of grandmother’s style and values and also demonstrate Chef’s commitment to making deliciously imaginative plates. Currently a monthly Pop-Up Supper Club, Irenia’s long-term goal is to operate as a brick and mortar restaurant in Orange County.”1

Yesterday’s event occurred at Famosa Tile in the OC Mix/South Coast Collection (SOCO) plaza.
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Kitchen, bar seating, and main seating for the guests.

Last night’s dinner was six courses prepared by two teams: Chef Garlitos and the folks from Irenia Supper Club, and Chefs Nate Overstreet and Ashly Amador of Wheat and Sons Butcher.  I should clarify that not all the courses were strictly Filipino-based, but the non-Filipino dishes presented flavors that remind me a lot of Spanish cuisine, but within an American framework.

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From left: Corinne Mosqueda of Irenia Supper Club, Chase Valencia of Lasa LA, Ashly Amador and Nate Overstreet of Wheat and Sons Butcher.
Here are the six courses from the dinner:

1. Salad Sariwa (Tagalog for “fresh”)

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Persian cucumber, radishes, pea shoots, pickled red onion, milkfish tonnato, bagoong caramel
I wanted more salad so I could eat more dressing >_> :D

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Nico De Leon of Lasa LA and Ryan Garlitos of Irenia Supper Club preparing the Salad Sariwa.
2. Dungeness Crab Conserva

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Smoked paprika, tarragon, baguette
3. Repolyo

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Grilled cabbage, tinola broth, chayote, crispy chicken skin, preserved meyer lemon
I would call this a very friendly, comforting introduction to chicken tinola soup. My own family tends to make theirs with a little more ginger/lemon edge with chicken drumsticks in a big pot. The version above is definitely a more elegant, muted take on what I remember from youth.

4. Mussels Caldo Verde

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Linguica, potato, cherry tomato
A hearty thick broth with potatoes, tomatoes, and chopped sausage. Almost reminded me of gumbo with the smoky sausage.

5. Afritada

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Braised ‘Cooks Pigs’ pork shoulder, roasted dwarf carrot, charred shishito, jasmine rice
I’ve made afritada for myself before–but only with chicken thigh. This pork shoulder was tender, but a little dry. I much prefer making this dish with chicken. Nevertheless, the roasted carrot and shishito was a treat for me, and I could spoon the sauce over rice for days.

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Kitchen flow.
6. Cassava Cake

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Burnt coconut cream, San Miguel ‘Negro’ glaze, morro grape
I’m not much of a coconut or cassava fan but this was delicious and not too sweet! Win win.

Overall the dinner was well-executed, and I could not have asked for a nicer first pop-up supper. I am looking forward to attending the Los Angeles series of dinners by Lasa LA.

If you’re in the Southern California area and want to learn more about fine dining and Filipino cuisine check out the following:

Irenia Supper Club (Orange County)
Lasa LA (Los Angeles)

A few helpful links on Instagram, where I get my foodie news from:

It feels good to learn new things every day! :)

Some thoughts on clothing

It’s been a while since I’ve written one of these types of posts, mostly because I’ve attempted to do need-based purchasing as opposed to window shopping. Anyway, I don’t live in a minimalist vacuum, so in the last half of the year there have been some purchases and mistakes, so I’d like to talk about those today.

First, the successes:


1. Arc’teryx Beta LT Hybrid Jacket (REI)
I got it for $250 at REI’s Labor Day sales for the Seattle trip. I am not too familiar with Arc’teryx’s sale prices, but I decided on this rain jacket vs. the orange Marmot Minimalist  because of the fit of the hood, deep front pockets, and the comfortable collar. I’m sure both would have performed adequately, but I have to give Arc’teryx a thumbs up for what it does. I was bone dry in that jacket. The adjustable hood and collar ensured a great seal around my face, and there’s a slight lip or stiffness to the hood which I noticed directed water away from my nose and eyes. That is not to say the affordable Marmot jacket would not have done the same, but I feel extra pleased by the workmanship and quality I get from this jacket. It gave me confidence during the Washington trip and now I have a solid rain jacket for the future; I won’t worry about future travel to the East Coast and/or other locales with inclement weather.

2. Forever 21 Jersey Dress (sold out. pic shown is Brandy Melville’s Alena dress.)
Struck by some inspiration somewhere on the Internet. This is an example of when buying a fast fashion interpretation works out in my favor. The F21 version is opaque, didn’t shrink, doesn’t stink. It is a very basic, flattering cut and there are plenty of versions out and about.

3. New Balance Fresh Foam Zante (2015)
I am so incredibly happy I found a shoe that works with my orthotics. The Fresh Foam Zantes pictured here are from NB’s running category, so it’s not really a #hypebeast or trendy shoe like the Nike Flyknit Racers or Roshe Runs. It’s an actual neutral running shoe. I was clunking around in Lunarglides anyways, so going with another running shoe-as-lifestyle isn’t a surprise. It’s much less cushioned and much lighter than what I’m used to, but the most important part is it is deep enough to house my orthotic inserts and I can lace up tightly for a very secure fit. I guess my review is skewed because I never wear the base insert, but I’d still recommend the shoe for its light weight. There is a men’s all leather version that is very very tempting…but I can wait on that and see what comes out after Christmas.

Then the underutilized:

Black Crane Pleats Dress (gray)
I didn’t wear this dress as often as I thought I would:
1. the fabric is a bit scratchy (wool/rayon mix) and for me, is a bit too warm
2. caring/cleaning for the dress is a bit complicated–I hand washed it and it shrank from a glorious full length, dragging skirt to just skimming the bottom of my feet. I kind of killed the fit I wanted from it by hand washing.
3. The daringness/oddness of wearing an extremely long, kind of sack-like dress was daunting. My coworkers just didn’t get it, and my family, bless their heart–didn’t say anything but I also get the vibe that if I want to avoid unnecessary commentary, I shouldn’t wear these dress to certain functions.
4. the 3/4 sleeve + dolman effect bothers me. I already know I don’t like either of those two elements, and yet I still bought the dress, entranced by the sale price and the excitement I felt at the store I bought it from.

I still like the dress, but there’s certain things I need to do to make it more me. I want to see if I can chop off or trim off those sleeves, but I’m a little afraid of editing it so permanently. The other half is just to wear the dress until it rips/dies–the fit is already irrevocably changed because it shrank–so I just need to wear it and stop babying it. Clothes are for the wearing, not storing, Kristina.

Muji linen dress
This is a case of I didn’t want to put the work in to maximize this dress (aka too lazy to iron.) I would take the dress out of the washer and hang it up to dry but didn’t fix the collar wonkiness and wore it to work pre-wrinkled. Not my style. I am getting ready to wear this dress later this week and yes, it has been pressed. Lesson of the day: don’t shirk the care for your clothes and reap the rewards of feeling #onfleek to work.

And the fail:

Forever 21 Chambray Shirt Dress (mine is gray)
The fit is fine, but it STILL stinks like preservative and rubber even until now. I Febrezed it, I soaked it in straight vinegar (maybe with a splash of water) for 3 hours. Still smelled after 5 washes and rinses. I should know better, but I gave into the urge after seeing a cool girl at a coffee shop (because where else) wear sleeveless shirt dresses with hoop earrings (which you could say is where my current IG pic inspo is from.) Holly if you ever read this, you’re a dope muse. What a disappointing use of $20, but I really should have known better, especially with fast fashion.

Upcoming guidelines for shopping F/W 2015:
1. no more sweaters/outerwear
Let’s face it, I live in a desert with little to no hope of really experiencing the proper temperatures for lovely cashmere sweaters and the like. I’ve already got a wool coat, tall and short boots, and now a rain jacket. I’ve also got several sweaters to choose from so remembering these and being realistic about the actual weather I live in should keep me from acquiring any more items. I barely have a week in January or so as it is to really properly wear what I own, during the season they are meant for. I own enough.

2. only shop for what I actually wear
What does Kristina reach for time and again?
– Cotton button-downs. My little collection of navy and white button downs are on heavy rotation for work. I also would like some short-sleeved ones like the Muji checkered one I got last year.
– Black pants and blue jeans (I own enough jeans for the moment, but I could always use fade-resistant black straight pants. The Gap ones I got earlier this year attract too much lint.)
– Black running shoes. I bring loafers or flats but I bail out into the running shoes when my feet start to hurt, or if I’m moving a lot between the two buildings at work. My health and strength come before fashion, every day.

Above is my no-brainer work uniform. Occasionally I’ll throw on a different topper–olive jacket, blue soft blazer, or a cardigan, but the base uniform doesn’t change. Some days I’ll wear skirts or have a few dresses to change it up, but rarely. If anything I would like more tops and perhaps one or two more work-appropriate dresses. I tried on this Gap floral print one that apparently just sold out (but here’s the cut with a different print.) Something easy going like that, with a nice understated print would be great. Could wear it to work and into the night.

I also would like some real sandals (not just Crocs) and some flats to replace the Gentle Souls Gabbys I have, which are 3+ years old and no longer have true arch support.

3. Support local artisans/boutiques
While it’s not always possible or financially prudent to buy 100% handmade, ethically sourced/produced goods–I can do a little bit by buying accessories, gifts, and goods by local makers. I love the LA Printer Fair for buying birthday and Christmas cards, and I’ve been to Unique LA’s December events for two years now. Last year was great–I bought some cards, candles, and jewelry as Christmas presents. I liken it to shopping Etsy but in person :) This year I am going to try and go to a Patchwork show in Long Beach or Santa Ana.

That’s the longest you’ve heard from me in months now! Whew. That’s my little shopping update in the last quarter of 2015. How are you all faring with the annual #omgFALL marketing? What are your shopping thoughts for this time of year?

En route

Personal picture. Grand Central Station, New York, November 2014.

I need respite.

These last few weeks have been full of #adulthood–the daily stresses of work, construction and disruption at the house, increasing responsibilities. I am doing my best to respond to all of them with poise and efficiency, but I need recharging time.

As for blogging regularly, that seems to have gone awry these past couple months. It’s a combination of avoiding shopping/thinking about material goods, to shifting of resources: I’ve been spending a lot more on food and drink. I’ve also been back at climbing and running with a vengeance and have achieved some modest gains in both hobbies. These are all things that have pulled me in other directions and made me better equipped to beast at my own life–with perhaps the exception of greasy food and coffee. Those are purely for fun.

With all that a-brewin’ (hah), I’m looking forward to the upcoming travel this week to  Seattle, Washington–follow my photo diary (of sorts) on Instagram. Stay in touch!


The last few weeks have been incredibly busy, hence the slowdown of posts here.

I think it’s probably easier to show you what I’ve been up to rather than to write about it, so here goes:

I’m still drinking a pile of coffee. Not much of a surprise there.

A macchiato at Hopper and Burr in Santa Ana.

Post-coffee wandering around downtown Santa Ana. Those cutoffs are getting some serious mileage.

Typical Kristina portrait. Poor friends get pressed into snapping my picture when out and about.

Still eating like a teenager, but with none of that youthful metabolism:

Loaded hot dogs, fresh tater tots and potato chips from Joe Schmoe’s.

Attempting to rectify said metabolism with bouts of exercise:

I sent my first V1 (equivalent 5.10 c-d) earlier this month!!! WOOOOOO

More bouts of exercise part 2: night bouldering in the San Bernardino National Forest with people from my climbing gym. Didn’t climb anything because we hit boulders with routes/problems beyond my grade (everything we hit waas V3+). Still had tons of fun shooting photos of the climbers and taking in the views during the hike out, which was probably the most strenuous I’ve ever been on. We got to the campsite at 5 pm and hiked/climbed until 2 am (hehe!)

Early part of the hike (6:30ish pm) so still pretty stoked about nature at this point. At midnight, we took a break to lay on the crash pads to look at the stars. It is something I’d like to see again soon.

Last week I attended the Workhorse Rye x Little Sparrow Cafe event featuring specialty cocktails made with bitters from WHR.

Took home the small bottle of India Pear bitters courtesy of WHR’s Rob Easter. This will be fun to bring to share at my friend’s house later this month.

I chose the “Arabikakozu”: India Pear Bitters, cold brew Four Barrel coffee, Takara Organic Nama Sake, Gran Classico. I would say sake and coffee is an interesting blend. Not something I would normally think would go together, but when done like this it reminded me of a very lime-forward, bitter-lemonade. As with much of my food explorations, these tastes are all very new to me still, so my observations will be disjointed at best.

Finally, my local craft bakery/coffee/beer/eatery Bakers and Baristas celebrated their grand opening last weekend. I went to have brunch at opening and ordered this gourmet twist on a classic Filipino breakfast: skirt steak tapsilog. Tapa is usually cured meat, typically a bit harder and drier, but the chefs decided to play with that interpretation and served up a juicy, tender, medium-rare steak.

skirt steak, garlic fried rice, pickled carrots, poached egg. I love that the chefs are incorporating heritage and experience into the rotating menu. Apparently congee (rice porridge) might be in the works for brunch.

With all this activity, I’ve almost reached my limit of functioning normally (usually, by this point I’d be sick.) Thankfully (or unfortunately) all I’ve had so far is a scratchy throat and a low-grade headache. I think I accepted every social invitation there was to accept, so now I’m craving some normalcy and quiet so I can regroup.

For those of you coming by and reading the blog at this juncture, it’s probably pretty weird to see all these food and coffee posts, isn’t it? (all three or four of you reading out there, haha.) I do have some odd thoughts here and there about fashion, specifically shoes; maybe I’ll write that later on its own.

Hope everyone is having an excellent end to their August! Let me know how you all are doing.

Bakers and Baristas

It’s always nice to hear that a new shop is in town: Bakers and Baristas, a bakery/cafe/restaurant just opened up near my area. Conveniently located minutes away from Cerritos Mall, in the city of Artesia, California, Bakers and Baristas has an ambitious plan to serve coffee, weekend brunch, desserts, pastries, craft beer, wine, and a small bar menu. This is their first week on soft opening, so yesterday I went with my family to try some of the baked goods and most importantly, the coffee.

At the entrance.

The concept of the restaurant is “fast-casual:” order at the register, pick up your pastries and drinks, or if ordering dinner, the staff brings the food to you. The restaurant space has many seating options and there is a plan to build a patio outside of the restaurant for outdoor dining.

Bakery display, register, and coffee area.
Coffees from SF roasters Four Barrel and De La Paz.

Bakers and Baristas is currently serving San Francisco roaster Four Barrel Coffee, which owns side project De La Paz. Four Barrel focuses on single-origin coffees while De La Paz is a way for the company to play with blends. I think it is a great way for us Southern California folks to get a little taste of SF locally–Blacktop Coffee in Los Angeles serves Sightglass Coffee, for example. Or Blue Bottle in DTLA; Philz in Santa Monica.

The bakery items are from Candlelight Bakery‘s menu:  yesterday we tried the vanilla doughnut and a Valrhona chocolate croissant. I really like the fluffy-airy texture of the donut and you can’t go wrong with chocolate and flaky pastry, truly. The doughnut flavors seem to rotate daily.

The bakery selection is impressive: cookies, pastries, doughnuts, tarts, cakes and cake slices, whole loaves (also used in the cafe’s sandwiches), as well as these ever-popular macarons at $2 a pop.

I’m most interested (for now) in Bakers and Baristas’ coffee potential. Their hours are conducive to after-work treats and weekend hangs: they project to be open 8 am to 12 am, Monday thru Sunday.

Coffee area.

Espresso, batch brew, and pour over options (Kalita and Siphon) are available. I ordered a macchiato, latte, and a Siphon-made cup of Four Barrel’s Ethiopia Aroresa to go along with our snacks.

A closer look at the siphon set-up. Burners on the bottom. Coffee grounds go into the top chamber.
Quintessential top down shot.

I’m still learning a lot about coffee, so I can’t really say I taste every subtlety and nuance from roaster to roaster, cup to cup. I am learning, however, that in general I prefer:

1. drinking espresso-based coffees made with beans from South American countries (Guatemala, Panama, El Salvador, etc.)
2. I like nutty, caramel, and sweetness in my brewed coffee as opposed to floral, bright, acidic/tea-like notes

That’s not to say I won’t try other things; I have to drink everything to know what I like. But it makes me giggle that as I drink more coffee and accompany my friends or family on these little adventures, that I notice some patterns in preferences. It makes me happy to learn them, because now I’ll know where to bring guests if I know they like xyz characteristic or a certain style of coffee.

Some of the retail coffee available near the register.

Back to the drinks. I don’t have all the correct terminology for this, but I liked that Four Barrel’s take on this coffee is approachable. I often find the acidity of African-hailing coffees aggressive and a bit more sour than I’d like. There is also the aspect of the milk interacting with those tasting notes that can sometimes make the overall drink “worse.” Very subjective here. We all agreed that the macchiato and the brewed coffee were better than the latte, where the mildness of this particular roast got lost in the milk. I’ll have to return a few more times as more Four Barrel roasts get featured to learn more about the roaster’s style. We’re not even talking yet about the baristas’ job in translating the raw product into a drink–I’m quickly learning that every step of the process (from “farm to cup”) has a great potential in affecting the quality of brew we gulp down.

Overall, I’m very pleased at the addition of this space to the SoCal food and drink map! They’ve barely begun (only two days open at this point) but I look forward to the roll out of the full food and drink menu later in August.

Bakers and Baristas
11700 South St
Artesia, CA 90701



A trim became a lop. I haven’t had a cut this short in the past four years I’ve been trying to grow this hair. A vague stirring turned into indecision and then finally this at the salon yesterday. I’m ecstatic about the shortened drying time and the swingy-ness of less mass. In time I will return to being a dark-haired mermaid, but for now, this.

*full disclosure: this was a happy medium between completely lopping it off into a chin-length bob but it is still short enough to where it differed from my waist-grazing length. The ends were super dead and broken on my previous hair, and at that length it was whipping around my shoulders and back while running and getting stuck on my arms.

I also wish I were strong enough to say I won’t panic and regret this in a few weeks, but in the spirit of growth and maturity: it is hair, it will grow again, and I am fortunate to have a dense mane on my head.

Do you have any style tips or inspiration for looks for this length? I hardly do anything to my mop, maybe it’s time to try something new.

Effort expended

Coast Modern in Seal Beach, CA.

Dori who writes over at Dorigamii brought up some points in her recent post about shopping that made me think back on my own evolving values. I found the exercise interesting. She talks about the price vs. quality conundrum while shopping (“…how hard it is for me to come to grasps with dropping a lot of money on nicer clothing”), avoiding using specific items because of cleaning costs or fear of damage,  and a desire to pinpoint weak areas of her wardrobe to be addressed in future purchases. These are all things I have done and still touch upon sometimes when I shop.

I think a good reason why this post interests me is how it calls to mind the changes I’ve undergone with regards to my own shopping habits. I’m not at all “enlightened” or have become some minimalist minion touting restrictions left and right. But I’ve cut down on a lot of extraneous browsing “just looking!” window-shopping trips. I’ve also used my somewhat detailed (read: obsessive) research of items more efficiently–the time spent trying everything on those browsing trips showed me where to shop first for a higher rate of fit/quality/price success; a steady stream of promotional emails means a sale is ALWAYS around the corner, and I’m practicing daily on that mental fortitude needed not to impulse buy. If I do slip up and pull the trigger on something, I try to figure out why. It’s almost always an emotional reason. Feelings of inadequacy is a frequent one.

I would even hazard to say that even as we “bloggers” (really, regular people over here) write our own wardrobe philosophies, it does not neatly apply to everyone. I started with goals to look professional and appropriate and “me.” But that last variable, me, is still rapidly changing! How can I effectively shop for a me I haven’t met? Luckily, most of what I bought when I first started my now full-time career is still a favorite and still fits. There were a few items that faded poorly and a few sizing mistakes that became apparent with weight loss (they were non-salvageable–I’m not going to spend half the cost to tailor a wool coat I can donate. Chalk it up as a lesson.) It’s hard to preach any one specific school of thought with regards to how to edit and replenish your wardrobe. So much can happen. Needs change, bodies change, circumstances change. There is no universal “wardrobe staple.”

The last thought fragment I want to discuss is the growing awareness of the effort it takes to shop. I noticed that I came home from browsing trips less happy, and more somber (because inadequacy: “I can’t afford it” or “It didn’t look good on me.”) I also knew for a while that the euphoric feeling after new purchases grew shorter and shorter. Why such little payoff from so much money and effort expended? Looked online because you saw a sale. Spotted a potentially cute shirt with enticing 30% off code. Made plans after work to check out the shirt. Drove 15 miles to the mall, parked the car, walked half a mile to where the specific store is. Found the item on the rack, tried it on in the dressing room, mulled it over for fifteen minutes. Lined up at the counter, paid for it, walked back to the car and drove home. By the time I got home and hung up the new shirt I’d already lost the excitement of new item!!! and it had visibly and mentally joined the pile in my closet.

In some ways I kind of want that shopping high back, like yeah! I bought the thing. The thing in the nice color and cut I always wanted. But if it means that the importance of material objects is diminishing, back to its proper place (IMO, to where 1. the item serves its purpose and is the best at doing so 2. ideally it also satisfies the aesthetic I want to project) then I’m OK with that too. It’s just funny that it used to be such a thing–yay new stuff because new stuff. Now it’s yay new stuff, now I can go to work feeling comfy AND on fleek in these new black sneaks (I am waiting to acquire said black sneaks. Another story, another time.)

I hope that wasn’t too convoluted to follow. Nothing I’m saying above is revolutionary; to me, however, it feels somewhat cathartic as well as a sort of way-marker for the person that I am in this point in time. It is also possible, as one of my dear friends likes to remind me, that I am overthinking things as usual (isn’t that what a blog is for? I can just blahg ad nauseam to my little heart’s desire.) What is the most you’ve ever done to shop for or buy something? Was it worth the effort? What (if any) sort of experience do new purchases give you?