Quarantine Valentine's + Lunar New Year's Feast
Updated: Jul 4, 2021
Hope you've been enjoying Valentine's Day + Lunar New Year + President's Day weekend! In recent years, we've usually celebrated with a couple's massage or some other spa adventure (e.g., Casa Laguna last year, Drift Waterfront Spa prior, and Pelican Hill before that) for Valentine's Day, and a family gathering for Lunar New Year. Since we couldn't do something similar this year, we put a little more effort into celebrating at home, with a sushi + sashimi board, lobster macaroni and cheese, and something new for us - baking a layered chocolate cake with chocolate coffee buttercream, which included the messy joys of squishing buttercream into a piping bag and hilarious attempts to portion out some even circles of buttercream before spreading them across Tim's homemade chocolate cake.
A fellow Japanese food enthusiast recommended that we pick up sushi from Tokyo Central rather than sourcing and slicing the fish ourselves. We'd been to the Costa Mesa location before when it used to be a Marukai, and we were happy to see that the "ready to eat" sections of food were a greater variety than we'd previously seen. We couldn't fit all of the sushi and sashimi on the boards, but at around $60, the sushi and sashimi were good bang for buck and decent quality. Would recommend checking out their selection for a nice lunch or picnic; just calibrate your expectations with respect to the quality of sushi as compared to restaurants around town.
For our lobster mac 'n' cheese, we picked up some Conchiglie (shell) pasta, panko crumbs, and a couple different types of cheese from Wholefoods, and conveniently shortcut the whole lobster situation by getting some cooked lobster from Santa Monica Seafood.
This dish filled the kitchen with a scrumptious scent as it was baking, and we were so happy to get a nice crust on top of the cheesy pasta. The mac 'n' cheese was super creamy, decadent, and turned into perfectly delicious leftovers that complemented our next few meals (we made sure to eat all of the lobster since that wouldn't keep as well as the pasta).
For dessert, Tim's chocolate cake with chocolate coffee buttercream was supremely satisfying. After we portioned some slices out to share, inspiration struck (Great British Bake Off influences haha), and we decided to add some raspberries around the edges. The acidity from the raspberries really brightened up the chocolate sponge layers and chocolate-coffee buttercream, and added some "complexity" to the cake, as our friend Jess would say.
While our designing abilities could use improvement, the taste far surpassed expectations and was definitely good enough for us to overlook the "rustic" look of the cake. So proud of Tim's foray into cake baking - what a soft and moist chocolate sponge for us to savor over the next few days!
Speaking of our friend Jess, she spoiled us for Valentine's Day and introduced us to the delicious and beautiful creations of talented baker Jaimie of Sweet Butter Coco:
I can't get over how cute the cow is! And those chocolate hearts have such a pleasant snap to them, and just the right amount of chocolate-ly sweetness (not sugary at all). Jess also baked a luscious four-layer chocolate pudding cake reminiscent of the chocolate cake from "Matilda" and rounded out this dessert bonanza with some beloved Girl Scout Cookies:
Last but not least, these gorgeous heart earrings from Lola Ade definitely made it feel more like Valentine's Day than just another day at home:
As a result, we had a super sweet holiday weekend! Wishing everyone much health, success and happiness in the Year of the Ox!
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