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Afters Ice Cream (Irvine, Diamond Plaza on Jamboree & Alton) – Review & Thoughts on the Flavors

Like with all restaurant and eating extrablishment posts, I’ll be updating this periodically as things change and as I try new flavors to give my thoughts on them. 

The Store

The first thing I noticed is that their ice cream is very…. vividly coloed. Florid almost. They don’t even attempt to hide the fact that colorant is poured in with a liberal hand. 

There are two display cases but only one is in operation. The staff behind the counter wait on each group one by one because of the way the queue works.  even if you go in knowing what you want, you still have to wait in a line behind the unbearable people who DON’T know what they want and are asking for samples of aaaallll the interesting things. *waves sheeishly* It takes a very, very long time basically. 

The three people behind the counter could only handle so much. My peeve is that the other half of the store ()along with the other ice cream case was not being used except as standing space for people who had already gotten their treats. 

I like to consider myself a patient person, but the inefficiency here was ridiculous. they should have had one case open for taking orders and the other open for sampling and backup service. It’s also all sound reflective surfaces in there so it gets unbearably loud very quickly. That probably contributed a bunch to my crankinesss.

Also of note: either the owner of the place is young or the management in general is very young, or the owners have kids that have some role in the store. There were several small flocks of 2-3 people my age going in between the front and back of the store. (Behind and in front of service counter)

The Edibles

The Milky Bun – basically just a glazed doughnut without a hole. I got a milky bun with two flavors, AKA “split” which was an extra 50 cents (so 0.50 on top of $6.00). Skip it and go for the two scoop option ($6.00) in a cone (0.50) which ends up costing the same. Maybe I’m not a fan of it because I’m just not a doughnut person in general. I’ll eat them and I enjoy them, but I won’t go out for my way to obtain one, and I certain atelier don’t crave them. To their credit it is served warm and the toasty temperature of the nread serves as a nice foil to the cool ice cream. 

Cookie Monster: This is a pretty solid choice if you’ve got a serious sweet tooth. A little on the too sweet, and thus cloying side but the ice cream is loaded with sizable, satisfying chunks of cookie pieces that are fun to munch on. 

Mint Monster: good but nothing special . maybe the too bright green color was putting me off along with the fact that it was too saccharine

Vietnamese Coffee -holy shit did they nail this flavor right on the head. it even has that slightest lick of bitterness in the finish like the espresso used as the coffee base and there’s the rich taste of condensed milk in there. if you like coffee, if you like Vietnamese coffee, you gotta try this. 

Jasmine Tea – Another pretty good flavor. tastes like the base flavoring agent was actually brewed from tea. There’s a whisper of grassy tea dust and a whopping amount of Jasmine, but it’s not so strong that it’s bitter or whomps your taste buds into submission and clogs up your nose like some places over dose on the Jasmine component of the flavoring. 

Thai Tea – Good. But the Thai tea flavor is pretty standard. Creamistry does it good too, and I like their texture better. 

In general, the center cream here has a very slick but thick mouthfeel like they’re relying on emulsifiers quite heavy for the creamy texture). It’s not rock hard hard but not whipped and soft either thank good ness.  Sadly, it does not have that slightly chewy texture I like.  

Verdict

This place is pretty expensive for what it is with no novelty factor to at least make up for the cost and long wait. 

There’s another place in the same plaza across from the Kicking Crab that has an amazing Earl Grey Ice Cream. I think I’ll be continuing to go there for my after dinner sugar fix instead. Less of a wait and less gimmicky. I might pop in once in a while for that Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream if I don’t see much of a wait, though.

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2017 in On the Fence

 

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Artistique Face Brush by Surratt Beauty – Review, Thoughts, Pictures Galore, and Comparison to the Chikuhodo Z-1 Powder Brush

Preface
If you are interested in the Surratt Beauty Artistic Face Brush,  you are likely no stranger to high end brushes or Fude (Japanese made brushes). If you are new, I think this review will still be easy to digest for you and (hopefully) informative. I think when most people see the price tag ($230 in USD) on Sephora, or where ever there are browsing, they go “WDF, WHY?!” then move on. Brush hounds will look at the price, raise an eyebrow, look for the  brush head material (it’s squirrel) then instantly start tail wagging + salivating, and look for the magic words: made-in-Japan, artisans, hand-crafted, etc. Or maybe that’s just me. >_> As always, feel free to skip the preface to get to the review.

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I’m actually quite surprised that I can’t find that many reviews on this brush. Lately, There seems to be a culture of “@#$%^!!! $$$Obscenely-Priced-Item! See MAH REVIEW!!!!!” (Wow I’m such a hypocrite. Anyways…) It’s even more surprising considering that this brush is quite easy to stumble upon, and buy in the Western market compared to some of the other sticker-shocking brushes out there. The Surratt Brushes also aren’t brand new, though they are newer players in the world of high end brushes. It seems like most of Troy Surratt’s line is a copy pasta of Addiction Beauty’s aesthetic which is perfectly understandable because he says that his brand is inspired by Japanese cosmetics and seems to serve as the bridge between markets across continents. From Surratt Beauty’s website (I normally don’t complain about typography but I haaaate that font):

after visiting japan for the first time, troy fell in love with the unparalleled skill of japanese methods, and began a decade-long journey that led to the creation of surratt beauty, now comprised of 200 bespoke products. while developing surratt beauty, troy traveled back to japan countless times, seeking out the top tier of artisans, materials, and formulas, and then elevated each product to the next level of innovation.

I wouldn’t be surprised if his color cosmetic products have the same OEM as Addition Beauty or Three Cosmetics because things like the blushes and eyeshadows just look so darn similar. The Addiction line of brushes are OEM’d by Chikuhodo, so perhaps his makeup manufacturing contacts are the same as Addiction’s. In case you are confused, Addiction [Beauty] by Ayako is not on that list because the brand falls under the Kose Corporation umbrella. Fun fact. Troy Surratt worked under Kevyn Aucoin. And my favorite foundation from Kevyn Aucoin Beauty, the Sensual Skin Enhancer, is made in Japan. Perhaps, he retained some of his mentor’s contacts. This article suggests otherwise though,

Anyways, I didn’t get this brush at full price thanks to the winter Sephora 20% off sale and some gift cards but I will be reviewing it as if I did. If you think I am being too generous to it, please feel free to tell me off. I am not without bias though I try my best to be.

 

Presentation
Yup, presentation gets it’s own section. The brush may be Japanese made, but the packaging is everything you’d expect from a luxury beauty brand: cardboard. French cardboard to be specific. Hey, an actual box is miles better than the plastic slip that most Japanese brands deliver their brushes in, but I can’t help but wonder how much the fancy box added to the end cost. Then again, Surratt is targeting the Western markets and people here expect a certain level of niceness in presentation when shelling out any more than $50. Let’s be honest. I do too. The brush still comes with the plastic slip that keeps all the hairs in place and prevents the head from rubbing against the lining of the box and getting frizzy when it is brand new. I’ve had mine for near half a year before I even got around to taking pictures so that plastic slip is long gone. These pictures are heavily edited because I took these non-essential pics in the shittiest lighting possible. Sorry.

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Paper Sleeve, Box, Back of Sleeve

Anyhow, the box has a cover that slides off to reveal a velvet lined, slightly plush, removable insert equipped with an elastic band to hold the brush in place, should you choose to store and travel with it. I personally do not use the box because it’s too bulky and takes up too much space on my already chaotic vanity. It’s stored away in an obscure corner of somewhere, probably getting chewed up by moths. The only boxes I use and keep on display are the recycled-paper-shell-with-fabric-lining Koyomo ones and the wooden ones from some special Koyudo’s.

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Brush Specs
The Artistique Face Brush is a medium size powder brush made of grey squirrel hair. On my cheeks, it works as a blush brush. The brush head completely round from the ferrule, starts tapering from around halfway up the brush head, and ends in dome crown.  I’ve previously described the Chikuhodo Z-1 powder brush as an egg on a stick. Well the Surratt Face brush is even more like an egg on a stick as it is more tapered tip and has a pointed dome, like what you would find on the apex end of an egg. (See comparison section) Do keep in mind that I store and wash my brushes with a brush guard so it will be have a smaller width measurement than many other people’s. The Artisque Face Brush can puff up to about 30% more volume if you allow it to air-dry naked.

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Posted by on April 20, 2017 in Brush Reviews

 

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Spotted at Costco: Jumbo Bottle of SK-II First Treatment Essence

Found in the Costco between Barranca and Alton in the South of Irvine, California. This same sized bottle is $290 at Sephora so you save 35% on this.

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I’m seriously considering finding people to split it with then going back to get it.

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2017 in On the Fence

 

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Fall of the Tarte Airbuki: Why the Queen has been Overthrown

I raved about the Tarte Airbuki a while ago. I called it my favorite foundation brush. And it was for the longest time! As often is the case, only time will tell how well a brush is made and how durable it is.

The problem is… it just hasn’t held up well.

Here is what the brush head originally looked like:

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Quite a far cry isn’t it?

I noticed that this unevenness/deterioration started happening in August or September of 2016. Granted I wash my foundation brushes very, very often, but that is some weak shit glue in the handle if it wasn’t able to hold down the bristles well enough to survive even three years  terror.  Luckily just two months earlier, I had discovered the Tarte Airbrush Foundation Brush and I loooove the hell out of that one even more. Why? it’s bigger and faster to cover my whole face, but doesn’t sacrifice much coverage intensity.  That has been my (almost daily) foundation brush since.

RIP Little Dude: November 2014 – May 2017

It’s time to retire you, my dear Airbuki. You served me so very well. I just wish your lifespan could have been longer.

I can’t bear to throw Airbuki away so I’m going to tuck it away in a brush case to admire once in a while, and remind me of all the wonderful rushed mornings we had getting my face ready.

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2017 in On the Fence

 

“A Beautiful Song” I’ve Been Binging – From Nier Automata

The whole OST of Nier: Automata is pretty good overall, but this is “the Opera Singer Boss” that started the hype train because they played a game preview of this boss fight at E3. I’m so ready to play the PC version  when it finally drops tomorrow because I’ve been green with envy watching my S.O. play it on console. I’ve tried, with disastrous results… my thumbs aren’t dexterous enough.

The name of the song actually is “A Beautiful Song.” Composed by Keiichi Okabe and sung by Emi Evans,  with J’Nique Nicole on the second verse, and Nami Nakagawa on the operatic and choral portions.  I’ve been playing this on InfiniteLooper while doing work stuffs.

This track accompanies the fight with the third boss from Nier Automata, a goliath sentient machine named Simone Beauvoir who is obsessed with becoming more beautiful for, surprise!,  the attention & affection of a guy. Well, more like a male machine (no that’s not a euphemism for something else).

It makes me itch to pick up a cello and play the melody over the instrumental track (below). Maybe I’ll get to it one day. Funny enough, there’s a picture out there somewhere of Emi Evans, the primary vocalist from the original NieR, playing a cello. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2017 in Current Events, Music

 

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Pão de Queijo / Brazilian Cheese Puffs / Crack Balls – Recipe and Methods

Preface
This recipe is good as a dinner roll or carb loading snack for those who have gluten sensitivity as it doesn’t use flour: it uses Tapioca starch. It also seems to sit fine with people who are lactose intolerant.  All of the people with a non-severe lactose intolrance or sensitivity I know have walked away fine after consuming more than just two or three of these puffs despite the inclusion of cheese and milk in the recipe. It doesn’t make too huge of a difference compared to 2%, but I use whole milk which has more fat and a fraction lower amount of lactose. Unfortunately, tapioca starch has a high glycemic index, so those who are diabetic should not consume too many.  Better yet, don’t let them have any at all. These cheese puffs  are like pringles, you can’t have just one…

Feel free to skip this intro section if you just want the “what” (ingredients) and “how to” (methods). I will be updating this periodically as I repeat and fall upon tweaks that bring me closer to my goal.

I normally wouldn’t post this because the product I create is not perfect every run yet (the inside is not as hollow as i would like sometimes). However, a couple friends (who have not had the real thing) had been requesting that I bring it for the holiday parties, as well as give a recipe so I obliged. I think that the product that I create now is already pretty sweet, enough to share, so prepare to dig in.

I first had Brazilian Cheese Puffs at Agora Churrascaria, a Brazilian steak house, and became so enamored with them, I had a chat with the general manager about the literal, little balls of joy. I went home still obsessed so i hopped online that night and began looking for recipes. I found a couple that call for more or less the same, ingredients-wise, but the proportions I’ve had the most success with came from following TheKitchn, with a few modifications.

I followed the recipe and methods to the T the first couple of times I tried it. However I ended up with a semi different version of my own because it always came out wrong/weird if I followed it exactly (see “Notes” section). I will also be explaining steps as I go along. The primary directions will be in the main bullets. Explanations and clarifications will be in lesser bullets.

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Posted by on February 23, 2017 in Exotics

 

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Definitive Overview of The Entire Chikuhodo Takumi Series

I lied. I do not own the eyebrow brush (T-9, Badger Hair, 3,000 yen) and lip brush (T-10, Kolinsky Hair, 2,300 yen) and thus will not be reviewing them, but who cares about those? 😛 Other than those,  I will be reviewing all of the goat-hair brushes in the Takumi Series by Tesshyu Takemori of Chikuhodo fame. The T-1 Powder brush (12,000 yen) (Large), T-2  Powder Brush (8,000 yen) (Small), T-3 Foundation Brush (6,000 yen), T-4 Blush Brush (5,000 yen), T-5 Highlight Brush (5,000 yen)T-6 Eye Brush (3,500 yen) (Large), T-7 Eye Brush (2,500 yen) (Medium), T-8 Eye Brush (2,200 yen) (Small).

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Takumi Series in incandescent lighting

I’ll be doing this overview a little differently. In the first section I will be giving just pure straight facts about the brushes with only minimal “feelings” and input on anything that is subjective. In the second part, the brushes will be out of order  because they will be ranked from my most to least favoured. That is where you’ll get my opinions on them. So if it all sounds uninformative and bland as a wet tissue at first, keep pushing on.

All of the pictures are in slideshow format! so be sure to “scroll” through them to get the full picture (heh) of what each brush is like. Incase you are wondering what my lovely sparkly black background is /s… it’s aquarium filter foam.

Once there was an Ask Reddit Thread topic-ed, “If you could add a 0 to any number in your life, what would it be?” there was one answer that struck me as pure and utter genius: “the number of hours before I need to sleep.” In a perfect world I would be able to use all that extra awake time to take care of things that need to be done (like all the drafts for this blog). In said world, I would also have individual review + comparison posts for each brush completed and hotlinked (the comprehensive, singular focus ones that I normally do) but alas all I have are skeletons of each post. If there is one you want to see in particular, let me know! Having a request or two is usually enough to push me to move them from the back burner to the forefront.Otherwise, the next one up will be a comparison between the Surrat Artisque Face Brush and Chikuhodo Z-1 Powder Brush. If there are any of you who think that this should not occur, speak now or forever hold you peace.

For brush veterans who know what you are getting into, feel free to skip the following section to get straight to the mini reviews.

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Posted by on February 11, 2017 in Brush Reviews, On the Fence

 

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