The Local’s Guide to San Francisco (+vlog!)

Shot on Canon T7i and edited with Adobe Premiere. Please subscribe to me if you enjoyed the video :)

 
 

I’m lucky to have called San Francisco my home for the last 3 years. It’s a city filled with stunning hikes, parks, streets, and most importantly (lol), some of the most amazing food I’ve ever had. In this post, I’ll share with you some of my favorite spots around the city—including the most photogenic locations and the tastiest restaurants.

 
 
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
 
 

Let’s start off our tour of San Francisco in North Beach! People will tell you that it’s famous for its Italian food and strippers (weird combination, I know…) but I really love it for its cute residential neighborhoods and steep hills with great views of the city.

 
 
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
 
 

But first, coffee. At Réveille Coffee Co.

Now that you’re in North Beach, stop for breakfast and coffee at Réveille Coffee Co. to fuel up your day in the city. It’s conveniently located just outside of Chinatown and serves some really delicious breakfast toasts—like this prosciutto and avocado toast with poached egg. They also serve some scrumptious salads and more adventurous brunch items like Shakshuka.

Réveille Coffee Co.

200 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133
North Beach

reveillecoffee.com

 
 
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
 
 

City Lights Bookstore

After breakfast, head across the street to the City Lights, a unique bookstore founded in 1953 and now a historical landmark of San Francisco. It houses three stories of books, and offers titles from major publishers as well as smaller, independent publishers.

I really enjoyed going downstairs to the nonfiction section and flipping through all the jazz biography books and the cookbooks. 

City Lights Bookstore

261 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133
North Beach/Chinatown

citylights.com

 
 
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
 
 

telegraph hill

While in North Beach, hike up the Telegraph Hill area to Coit Tower. It might be a tiring walk, but you’ll be rewarded by loads of great views along the way. 

I’m not a really big fan of Coit Tower itself, since the area can get pretty crowded with tourists during the day. But I do use the tower as a starting point for exploring some pretty gorgeous areas of North Beach. 

You can stop by the intersection of Union and Montgomery—which is actually a pretty quiet and residential area—and get some great views of the Bay Bridge and the Transamerica Pyramid.

 
 
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
 
 

Filbert Steps

While in the Coit Tower area, walk down the Filbert Steps, which is a set of stairs enclosed in a gorgeous garden. You’ll get some great views of the Bay Bridge, all the while feeling like you’ve escaped the city in this relatively secluded hike.

Filbert Steps

Filbert St & Sansome St
San Francisco, CA 94111
North Beach/Telegraph Hill

 
 
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
 
 

The Ferry Building

Walk towards the Embarcadero from the Filbert Steps and stop at the Ferry Building Marketplace for lunch or a quick snack. You won’t be disappointed by the food there—more like overwhelmed by the amount of options you’ll have. 

 
 
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
 
 

Here you’ll find a bunch of SF-local vendors selling snacks and desserts like Dandelion Chocolate and Blue Bottle Coffee. You’ll also find a popup selling the most beautiful plates in the world by Heath Ceramics—which I love but absolutely cannot afford.

You can find anything from gluten-free desserts to empanadas to dim sum in this building… so good luck trying to decide what to eat. 

Ferry Building Marketplace

1 Ferry Bldg
San Francisco, CA 94111

Embarcadero, SoMa

ferrybuildingmarketplace.com

 
 
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
 
 

Palace of fine arts

In the afternoon, I headed over to the Palace of Fine Arts with a few friends from work. I actually found this area super hard to photograph without a wide angle lens. I guess that’ll be my next big purchase on amazon.

It can get pretty crowded here with tourists during the day, but it’s nice to walk around its lake and check out the few swans that inhabit the area.

 
 

Palace of Fine Arts

3601 Lyon St
San Francisco, CA 94123
Marina/Cow Hollow

palaceoffinearts.com

 
 
San+Francisco+Photogenic+Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
 
 

Catch the Sunrise at Baker Beach

Baker Beach is a great beach to catch a sunrise or sunset, and (in my opinion) one of the best viewing areas for the Golden Gate Bridge. I spontaneously decided to go there around 6AM in the morning on my own. Now that I look back, it did seem pretty dangerous, so I wouldn’t exactly recommend it. At least bring a (few) friend(s) with you! However, it was nice to get photos without all the people who are there during the day.

Danger aside, I have to admit it was pretty relaxing and therapeutic to be at a beach alone so early in the morning.

 
 
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
 
 

I completely got over my fear after I saw a couple walking their dog there. Maybe I’ll take my dog for a stroll here next time as well!

Baker Beach

1770 Gibson Rd
San Francisco, CA 94129

Presidio

 
 
San+Francisco+Photogenic+Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
 
 

The 16th Avenue Tiled Steps

Another great place to visit in the morning where there are little to no tourists is the Moraga Steps, located on 16th Avenue and Moraga St. It’s a set of stairs that’s been decorated with hand-made animal, bird, and fish mosaic tiles. It’s definitely a lot more touristy and crowded than the Filbert Steps, so try to get there at 7AM. Am I crazy for telling you to wake up this early? 

The 16th Avenue Tiled Steps
Moraga St. between 15th & 16th Ave
San Francisco, CA 94122

Inner Sunset

16thavenuetiledsteps.com

 
 
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
 
 

GrandView Park

If the mosaic stairs become too crowded during the day, you can hike up to the top for a breathtaking view of the Inner and Outer Sunset. There’s actually another set of stairs that take you up to Grandview park for a more comprehensive view of the city.

Grandview Park

1705 14th Ave
San Francisco, CA 94122

Inner Sunset

 
 
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
 
 

Have a cute japanese lunch at Bon, nene

After walking up all of those stairs, head to the Mission District for lunch at a super cute Japanese café called Bon, nene. The decor in this café looks like it came straight out of a Miyazaki movie, and the food… well I guess the food also looks like it came out of a Miyazaki movie. If you’re there early enough for brunch, try out their traditional Japanese breakfast!

Bon, nene

2850 21st St
San Francisco, CA 94110

Mission

bonnene.com

 
 
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
San Francisco Photogenic Spots
 
 

Bernal Heights park

San Francisco is full of hills and great views, and another park for both is Bernal Heights Park. You might know it for its famous swing, but I love coming here to relax on the grass to listen to music or have a nice picnic. If you’re a dog lover, this is a fantastic place to bring your dog to mingle with other furry friends.

Bernal Heights Park

10 Bernal Heights Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94110

Bernal Heights

 
 
The Local's Guide to San Francisco
 
 

Grab a Pastry from Tartine Bakery

If you’re in the Mission District, be sure to grab a pastry from San Francisco’s (arguably) most-renowned bakery: Tartine. You’ll find hordes of people lining up to get their hands on one of their pastries, so try to go pretty early in the morning. You need try the almond croissant. Or the frangipane tart (pictured above). They do frangipane damn well here.

It seems like there’s a trend on this post where I’m constantly telling you to go to places at unbelievably early hours. For that I apologize… but trust me, great food and great hikes are worth waking up for 🙃

Tartine Bakery & Cafe

600 Guerrero St
San Francisco, CA 94110
Mission

tartinebakery.com

 
 
The Local's Guide to San Francisco
The Local's Guide to San Francisco
The Local's Guide to San Francisco
 
 

Clarion Alley

While you’re in the Mission, stop by Clarion Alley to check out some beautifully-drawn murals. It’s located between Valencia St and Mission St, at the halfway point between 18th and 17th St.

Clarion Alley

Between Valencia St/Mission St and 17th/18th st
Mission

clarionalleymuralproject.org

 
 
The Local's Guide to San Francisco
The Local's Guide to San Francisco
The Local's Guide to San Francisco
 
 

Have an asian-inspired brunch at Samovar Tea Lounge

San Francisco is the land of the brunches, but if you’re looking for something a bit more out of the box—and trying to expand your horizons beyond Eggs Benedict and waffles—try out Samovar Tea Lounge. They serve an array of Asian-inspired brunch items, like this Smoked-duck jook with poached egg, and a huge selection of teas. I found most of their items to be slightly healthier than those of most brunch places. Moreover, they’re located in the beautiful Yerba Buena Gardens, which you can ogle at through their huge glass windows.

 
 
The Local's Guide to San Francisco
The Local's Guide to San Francisco
 
 

The Smoked-duck jook was so yummy! Their butternut squash potstickers are also super tasty.

Samovar Tea - Yerba Buena Gardens
730 Howard St
Yerba Buena Gardens
San Francisco, CA 94103

SoMa

samovartea.com

 
 
The Local's Guide to San Francisco
 
 

But wait, there’s more! (for brunch)

I’m not gonna let you off the hook with just one brunch place in this post. If you’re looking for somewhere hassle-free without a 1-2 hour wait (which is pretty common for brunch places in SF) but also a place that serves some amazing food, try a small neighborhood-restaurant called Cassava in the Outer Richmond. They serve a traditional Japanese-style breakfast as well as more common American-style breakfast plates. Their plating game is also off the charts. But the best part is: I’ve been there multiple times and never did I have to wait for a table.

Cassava

3519 Balboa St
San Francisco, CA 94121
Outer Richmond

cassavasf.com

 
 
The Local's Guide to San Francisco
The Local's Guide to San Francisco
The Local's Guide to San Francisco
The Local's Guide to San Francisco
 
 

Lands end trail

For a beautiful morning hike that’s not super intense, walk the Lands End trail for beautiful views of the ocean. End your hike at Mile Rock Beach, where you’ll see the Lands End Labyrinth and a breathtaking view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Lands End Trail

680 Point Lobos Ave
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
San Francisco, CA 94121

b/t El Camino Del Mar & Merrie Way
Sea Cliff

parksconservancy.org/parks/lands-end

 
 
The Local's Guide to San Francisco
The Local's Guide to San Francisco
 
 

All photos were taken on the Canon T7i and edited in Adobe Lightroom CC.

Hope you enjoyed this photo-heavy post and are inspired to pay San Francisco a visit! San Francisco has so much to offer in terms of hikes, views, shopping, and food that this post barely scratches its surface. But I hope that this at least gives you a good starting point :)

What are your favorite places in San Francisco? Let me know in the comments!

♥ Cindy

 
TravelCindy ZhangComment
Poached Eggs and Asparagus (Healthy vegetarian breakfast)
 
 

As always, atch the video for a in-depth tutorial on how to make this dish. If you enjoyed watching, please give me a thumbs up/subscribe to me on YouTube!

 
 
Poached Eggs and Asparagus (Healthy vegetarian breakfast)
 
 

I’ve been on the constant lookout for veggie breakfast options lately. Unfortunately, most meat options for breakfast are not the healthiest. While having breakfast at work one day, I came across some grilled asparagus with hollandaise sauce. After flipping through Pinterest, I realized that having asparagus at breakfast is actually a pretty common thing. So I got inspired to create this super-duper—is this even cooking—easy recipe of sautéed asparagus with poached egg.

 
 
Poached Eggs and Asparagus (Healthy vegetarian breakfast)
 
 

To make the dish a bit healthier and easier, I swapped out the hollandaise sauce for a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

 
 
Poached Eggs and Asparagus (Healthy vegetarian breakfast)
Poached Eggs and Asparagus (Healthy vegetarian breakfast)
 
 

I love eating tomatoes for breakfast. I was convinced that they were a breakfast staple after having them in a traditional English breakfast. They also go really well with eggs (Chinese stir-fried tomatoes with eggs, anyone?) and provide a nice acidic element to break up the greasiness that a lot of breakfast items tend to have.

 
 
Poached Eggs and Asparagus (Healthy vegetarian breakfast)
 
 

Make sure to sauté your asparagus for a few more minutes longer than the tomatoes since they’re quite fibrous and will take longer to soften. No one wants to bite into a piece of asparagus that takes forever to chew first thing in the morning.

 
 
Poached Eggs and Asparagus (Healthy vegetarian breakfast)
 
 

I’m not really one to count calories (I used to be, but those were dark times). But I ended up doing a breakdown of the calories in this dish to convince you—and maybe myself as well—that this is actually a pretty healthy dish.

 
 
Poached Eggs and Asparagus (Healthy vegetarian breakfast)

Nutritional Value

Disclaimer: I’m by no means a nutritionist, and this is just based off googling the calories for approximately the amount that I used. (Just want to give out this warning since a reader in the past was quite finicky about this -_-)

5 sprigs of asparagus = 15 calories

1 egg = 70 calories

1 cup cherry tomatoes = 30 calories

1 tbsp of olive oil to sauté the veggies is about 120 calories, but realistically you’re only having half of that—or less (I had a bunch of oil left over in my pan) = 60 calories

1/2 tbsp parmesan cheese = 10 calories

1 slice of baguette = less than 100 calories

less than 1/4 tbsp butter = 25 calories

less than 1/4 tbsp jam = 25 calories

which comes out to be about 335 calories total… which is actually pretty good considering those 5 sprigs of asparagus will fill you up pretty well :)

 

Poached Eggs and Asparagus

Healthy vegetarian breakfast under ~350 calories/serving

Ingredients (serves 2 people)

  • 10 sprigs of asparagus, with ends discarded
  • 10-12 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • white vinegar (for poaching the egg, if desired)
  • baguette or any other toast
  • butter and jam (or anything else you like to spread on top of bread)

Takes , Makes enough for 2 people (romantic brunch here we go!).


Instructions

  1. Slice up the bread and toast in a 350°F oven for about 10 minutes. You can use your toaster as well, but I find the oven is better for toasting a large number of baguette slices.

  2. While the bread is in the oven, heat olive oil in a skillet and sauté the asparagus and tomatoes. Start with the asparagus since they take much longer than the tomatoes. Asparagus: around 10 minutes, tomatoes: around 1-2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

  3. For the poached egg: Crack the egg into a small bowl to avoid egg shells when you add it into the water. Make a "tornado" in the water with a spoon before adding the egg. This will allow the egg to spiral onto itself and prevent it from falling apart in the water.

  4. Should you add vinegar? It’s totally optional. A little bit of white vinegar can help the egg stay firm, but I’ve made plenty of poached eggs without it.

  5. Poach the egg for 3-4 minutes, and let it drain on a paper towel before serving it.

  6. Spread butter and jam onto the baguette slices and assemble the tomatoes and asparagus onto a plate. Then top the asparagus (very carefully) with the poached egg. Sprinkle on some parmesan cheese at the very end and complete the dish with freshly cracked pepper.

 
 
 

Super duper easy, right? I also want to point out that the photos and video was taken on my new Canon Rebel T7i, which I’ve been in love with. It definitely takes a lot more thinking to take one photo than on the iPhone, but I’m pretty impressed with the results.

♥ Cindy

 
FoodCindy ZhangComment
Editing Photos on your iPhone — Part 2: Removing distracting objects in travel photos
 
Editing photos on your iPhone — Part 2: Removing distracting objects in travel photos
 
 

Backstory for this “Editing Photos on your iPhone” series:

People often ask me what camera I use to take the photos for this blog. And most of the time, they’re surprised to find out that many of the photos were taken and edited on my iPhone. The iPhone camera is no joke, especially with features like Portrait mode. It’s also super convenient for taking photos while traveling or cooking (the idea of having an expensive DSLR by your stove kinda turns me off). You can also find some amazing apps on the app store that will work just as well as Photoshop and prevent you from airdropping photos back and forth between your phone and your computer.

Did you learn some basic color correcting tools in Part 1 yet?

Part 2 TL;DR:

“I took a crappy photo in a nice place. But it has so many distractions in the background that I wish I could get rid of! What should I do?”

The unedited photo:

 
Editing photos on your iPhone — Part 2: Removing distracting objects in travel photos
 
 

Goodness gracious! There are so many things wrong with this photo. It’s so hard not to just delete it. But what I do like about this photo is that it’s pretty candid. I really like the movement of the walking, and it really conveys the feeling of being on a trip.

Let’s identify what’s wrong with the photo:

  1. It’s too dark, and most of the photo is in the shadows

  2. There’s trash everywhere on the floor! (For reference, this was shot in the Monti neighborhood of Rome in the morning—so after a wild night out drinking for a lot of Romans)

  3. There’s a trash can taking up a lot of space on the left side of the photo

  4. The photo is lopsided (the walls of the buildings are tilted)

The apps that I’m going to use to fix these issues are:

 
Editing photos on your iPhone — Part 2: Removing distracting objects in travel photos

Step 1: Make the trash disappear

The trash in this photo really doesn’t contribute to the “traveling” vibe of this photo at all and is only a distraction. Let’s remove it by following these steps in TouchRetouch:

  1. Go to the object removal tab

  2. Tap on the brush tool

  3. Brush away the trash by adjusting the brush size and zooming in for precision

  4. Compare before and after by tapping the second icon from the right in the top toolbar

 
 
Editing photos on your iPhone — Part 2: Removing distracting objects in travel photos

Step 2: Straighten and crop the photo

To fix the tilt of the photo, lets open it up in the Lightroom app:

  1. Select the crop & rotate tool

  2. Crop parts of the image that are uninteresting—like the trash can on the left. This will also make the composition of the photo better and place the subject of interest on the lower left third of the photo (which is more interesting than in the center)

  3. Rotate the image until the lines of the buildings line up with the grid lines of the image.

 
 
Editing photos on your iPhone — Part 2: Removing distracting objects in travel photos

Step 3: Color correction

Let’s also do some color adjustment in the Lightroom app as well.

In the Light tab:

  1. Bump the exposure to brighten the image

  2. Bump the contrast to make the image pop a bit more

  3. Increasing the exposure may have caused the buildings in the distance to become too washed out. Because of this, I reduced the highlights so we can see more of the building’s details.

  4. Reduce the shadows that was overwhelming most of the image before

In the Color tab:

  1. Make the image warmer to give it a more summery vibe (the warm tones of the building really go well with my dress!)

  2. Increase the saturation to make the image more colorful

 
 
Editing photos on your iPhone — Part 2: Removing distracting objects in travel photos

Step 4: Creative last tweaks:

In VSCO:

  1. Choose a filter that compliments your photo. In my case, I chose the “Fuji Provia 400x” filter, which gives my photo a film-like vibe. You can also adjust the warmth of this filter.

  2. Final adjustments:

    • Increase the exposure

    • Make the shadows weaker

    • Sharpen the image

    • Bump the contrast a bit more

 

original photo vs Final photo with edits:

Editing photos on your iPhone — Part 2: Removing distracting objects in travel photos
Editing photos on your iPhone — Part 2: Removing distracting objects in travel photos
 
 

And voilà! A disastrous photo turned into one that you can actually post on Instagram! The edited photo gives off so much more of a summer vibe, and is free of distractions like the trash on the floor. The composition has improved as well: having the subject offset from the center of the image puts more emphasis on where she’s going rather than on her. (Why am I speaking of myself in the third person…?)

For more iPhone photo help, please check out part 1 of this series!

♥ Cindy

 
LifestyleCindy ZhangComment
Editing Photos on your iPhone — Part 1: Basic color correction
 
Editing photos on your iPhone — Part 1: Basic color correction
 
 

Backstory for this “Editing Photos on your iPhone” series:

People often ask me what camera I use to take the photos for this blog. And most of the time, they’re surprised to find out that many of the photos were taken and edited on my iPhone. The iPhone camera is no joke, especially with features like Portrait mode. It’s also super convenient for taking photos while traveling or cooking (the idea of having an expensive DSLR by your stove kinda turns me off). You can also find some amazing apps on the app store that will work just as well as Photoshop and prevent you from airdropping photos back and forth between your phone and your computer.

Part 1 TL;DR:

“I went to a beautiful place on a gloomy day. All my photos look depressing af.”

 

The unedited photo:

How to edit your photos to look amazing on an iPhone
 

Ah yes, we chose to go to one of the most beautiful destinations in Australia on a gloomy day and as a result, snapped some depressing-looking photos. But let’s not delete it yet. We can do a lot of post-processing of this photo (all on our phones!) to make it look gorgeous.

First, let’s identify what’s wrong with the photo:

  1. It’s dark and depressing. Lots of shadows

  2. Waters are greenish. That’s kinda weird… and kinda gross.

  3. Left side of photo is really bright from the sun while the right side is super dark

 
How to edit your photos to look amazing on an iPhone
 
IMG_7788.PNGHow to edit your photos to look amazing on an iPhone

First of all, let’s do our most basic editing to ensure the photo’s lighting is corrected before we start doing more of the creative stuff. I like to start off with the Adobe Lightroom CC app to do these initial edits. I can save this edited photo as a “baseline” to start with. Then, I can go into more creative apps like VSCO to do some extras at the end.

  • Exposure (+0.78)—making the image brighter overall

  • Contrast (+4)—making the image more vibrant, and colors pop out more

 
Editing photos on your iPhone — Part 1: Color Correction
How to edit photos on your phone — Part 1: Color Correction
 

A lot of the “depressing-ness” of this photo also comes from the fact that there is a huge amount of shadow on the rocks, making you barely able to see their details. We can solve that by doing the following:

  • Shadows (+15)—Increasing this field will make the shadows less prominent, while decreasing it will make them heavier

We can also amp up the colors to make the photo look more exciting and less depressing. YAY COLOR.

  • Vibrance (+26)

  • Saturation (+25)

 
Editing photos on your iPhone — Part 1: Color Correction
Editing photos on your iPhone — Part 1: Color Correction
 

K, cool. So now our photos is bright and colorful and less depressing. But did it get a little too bright in the process? Maybe. It looks like the sky got a little overexposed on the left side of the image.

We can solve this by using the handy-dandy selective edits tool that Lightroom offers as one of its paid features (around a dollar per month). This step is totally unnecessary. But if you’re a little OCD like me, here are the steps you should take to get rid of that brighter area:

  • In Selective Edits, use the circle tool to select the area you want to edit. You can also adjust the location and size of your circle. Everything in this circle will be adjusted to your liking without affecting the rest of the photo

  • Bring down the exposure in the “light” panel.

Note that this trick isn’t just for exposure edits. You can take advantage of this selective editing tool to give more color to parts of images that need it (this especially works well for food photos).

 

Edits after using the Lightroom app:

Editing photos on your iPhone — Part 1: Basic color correction
 

Pretty nice eh? The photo’s still not perfect, but it’s definitely a lot better than the original! People will start questioning you at this point: what camera did you use to take this?

One negative thing that stands out about this photo is how green the waters look. Not the most appealing, right? Let’s fix that by opening this photo up in our second app: VSCO.

 
Editing photos on your iPhone — Part 1: Color Correction
Editing photos on your iPhone — Part 1: Color Correction
Editing photos on your iPhone — Part 1: Color Correction
 

To make the greens in the water less prominent, and to make the oceans look more blue, go to the “HSL” tab at the very right side of the edits carousel. Note that this feature is also for members only. But I find a lot of VSCO’s member-only features super helpful, especially if you don’t want to import this photo into photoshop on your computer. Plus, you get to edit videos on VSCO too. And a bunch of film filters.

More about the HSL tool from VSCO: “It gives you control to adjust the Hue, Saturation and Lightness of a specific color in the image.  It gives you fine-tuned control over 6 hue regions— red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. By selecting one color at a time, you can isolate adjustments for that particular color without affecting other color present in the image.”

In my case, I wanted less green and more blue.

So, in the greens tab:

  • Saturation (-3.3)—makes the color green less saturated overall

In the blues tab:

  • Saturation (+2.1)—makes the blues more saturated

  • Hue (+2.1)—makes the blues have more of a magenta hue rather than a green hue

 
Editing photos on your iPhone — Part 1: Basic Color Correction
Editing photos on your iPhone — Part 1: Basic Color Correction
Editing photos on your iPhone — Part 1: Color Correction
 

After you’ve done most of your basic edits to the photo, you can get into the fun part: choosing a filter! I absolutely love the wide range of filters that VSCO provides, and the emotions that they convey. But sometimes, a filter may be a little too vibrant, and you may need to dial it down, just allowing it affect your photo by a teeny-tiny bit. Remember, you don’t want to let your photo speak for the filter, you want your filter to speak for the photo.

  • Decided on the filter, L6.

  • Dialed it down to only +2.2, because it was a little too blue and orange in its full capacity.

  • Dialed down the hue and saturation for blues in HSL, because the filter was making the photo look too blue.

 
Editing photos on your iPhone — Part 1: Basic Color Correction
Editing photos on your iPhone — Part 1: Color Correction
 

Last but not least, let’s sharpen our photo a little and bring up the saturation just a tiny bit. Don’t go overboard with the sharpening though—it will end up making your photo look hand-drawn rather than like a real photo.

 

Final photo with Lightroom app + VSCO edits

What do you think? Here’s the original photo and the edited one side by side:

 
Editing photos on your iPhone — Part 1: Color Correction
Editing photos on your iPhone — Part 1: Color Correction
 
 

Thought this was helpful? Go on to part 2 to learn more about how you can make unwanted stuff magically disappear in your photos!

♥ Cindy

 
Lifestyle, 2Cindy ZhangComment
Parmesan & Butter Risotto with Shiitake Mushrooms
Parmesan & Butter Risotto with Shiitake Mushrooms
 
 

A warm and creamy risotto is the perfect comfort food to warm you up on a cold winter’s day. It only takes a few ingredients to make, and can be made vegetarian by substituting the chicken broth with vegetable broth.

People are often scared to make risotto because of how easy it is to screw up without watching it like a hawk. And they’re not wrong—you do have to keep on stirring it for a good 20 minutes or so for the consistency of the rice to be right. I usually like to take this opportunity to cook an easy side dish like roasted vegetables in the oven while I give the risotto my undivided attention.

 
 
Risotto with Shiitake Mushrooms
 
 

Risotto, like pasta, is super versatile and makes a great backdrop to all sorts of toppings like seafood and veggies. I decided to top mine with dried shiitake mushrooms (an Asian favorite!), rehydrated in chicken stock and then toasted in the oven with olive oil. Mushrooms and risotto are a classic pairing, and for those that are feeling really fancy, you can also finish off your risotto with truffle oil or truffle shavings.

 
 
 
 

I made my risotto with my mom’s homemade Chicken broth, which is super simple to make. She doesn’t add any herbs or spices to the broth, since a traditional Chinese chicken broth is pretty light in flavor and is focused mostly on the Chicken flavor. To make this simple broth, add a whole cleaned chicken, dried shiitake mushrooms, and water to a slow cooker, and cook overnight (or until the chicken becomes tender). My mom didn’t initially add salt into the slow cooker, since she knew that the broth would be reused for multiple dishes. This way, the broth could be adjusted according to the dish.

Of course, this risotto is totally possible with store-bought chicken broth, or vegetable broth if you’re vegetarian.

 
 
Risotto with Shiitake Mushrooms
 
 
 

Parmesan and Butter Risotto with Shiitake Mushrooms

Ingredients (serves 3-4 people)

  • 1 cup arborio or short grain rice
  • 3-4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • ½ cup sliced button mushrooms
  • ½ cup dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 sprigs of thyme, chopped finely
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • splash of white wine
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chopped chives for garnish

Takes , Makes enough for 3-4 people.


Instructions

  1. Heat up the chicken or vegetable broth and toss in the dried shiitake mushrooms to rehydrate them. After the broth is heated, take out the mushrooms to set aside. Leave the broth on the stove to keep it warm.

  2. Add butter to a nonstick pot or large saucepan and sauté the shallots, garlic, thyme, and sliced button mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and add a drizzle of olive oil. Add the uncooked rice to the pan, covering it with the vegetables, butter, and seasonings. Add the white wine and cook until it's semi-evaporated.

  3. Start ladling in the warm chicken broth in half-cup increments. Make sure you don't add too much broth, or your risotto will end up like a porridge or a soup. Stir the rice with the broth constantly, until some of the liquid has cooked into the rice or evaporated, then continue the process with more broth.

  4. When you're finally finished stirring most of the chicken broth into the rice—or until your rice is fully cooked through (to the texture of your liking)—melt another tbsp of butter into the rice to get that rich, silky texture. Melt half of your portion of parmesan cheese into the rice as well, if you like your risotto to be creamy and cheesy. If the parmesan cheese hasn't provided enough saltiness to your risotto, feel free to mix in more salt and pepper.

  5. Take your pan off the heat and put a lid over your risotto. Chop up the shiitake mushrooms you previously set aside, toss them in a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper, and pop them into a 450° F oven for about 3-5 minutes until they're nice and toasted.

  6. Spoon the risotto onto a plate and top it with the toasted mushrooms. Drizzle with more olive oil if desired, and garnish with parmesan cheese and chopped chives.

 
 
 

This is the perfect restaurant-style dish to make for Valentine’s Day! (Okay… maybe try it out a few times first and make sure you’ve nailed it before you try to impress your special one) Good luck in the kitchen, and please tag me @cinders_zhang on Instagram if you end up making it :)

♥ Cindy

 
Food, 2Cindy ZhangComment
24 Hours in London
London in 24 Hours - Notting Hill
 
 

London was the first city I ever visited in Europe, and it’s considered a great starting point to the rest of Europe not only because of language, but also its convenient underground subway system. If you’re short on time and only have a day in London, don’t fret: this city’s totally possible to tackle in a day. Here’s an itinerary to explore London in less than 24 hours, planned out with each location not too far from the next:

 
 
London in 24 Hours - Tower Bridge Tour
 
 

10:00 AM - Tower Bridge tour

Visit Tower Bridge early in the morning, when it’s the least crowded. If time permits, try to head up and walk along the top level where there’s a glass floor from which you can see all the traffic on the bottom level. You can even catch the bridge open up for ships as they pass through.

 
 
London in 24 Hours - Leadenhall Market
 
 

12:00 PM - Grab a quick bite at Leadenhall Market

Situated just a mile north of Tower Bridge is Leadenhall Market, a Victorian-style retail center full of shops, cafés, pubs, and casual restaurants. You can usually catch Londoners day-drinking here during their lunch breaks, watching the game together (I was there during world cup season). If you’re a Harry Potter fan, this market might seem vaguely familiar to you, since it was actually the filming site to Diagon Alley.

 
 
London in 24 Hours - Notting Hill
 
 

1:30 PM - Portobello Road Market in Notting Hill

For a taste of London’s local scene away from the bustling city, escape to the famous Portobello Road Market in the charming neighborhood of Notting Hill. You can find a huge array of discounted treasures there—antiques, books, vintage dresses, old jazz records, and street foods, just to name a few. Once you’re finished with the market, get some Julia Roberts + Hugh Grant vibes in the market’s enclosing neighborhood of Notting Hill, a quiet and residential area filled with colorful victorian-style houses. London is known for its fast-paced lifestyle, but Notting Hill is where it all slows down.

 
 
London in 24 Hours - Afternoon Tea
London in 24 Hours - Afternoon Tea
London in 24 Hours - Afternoon Tea
 
 

3:00 PM - Afternoon Tea

While in England, treat yourself to the luxurious experience of having Afternoon Tea (which is oh so much more than tea). We chose to have our tea at The Orangery, a restaurant inside the Kensington Palace that overlooks its gardens. We ordered the “Pavilion Afternoon Tea,” which came with two types of teas and a gorgeous 3-tiered selection of goodies to go along with the tea: finger sandwiches, small curry wraps, scones, and desserts comprised of teacakes, macarons, and tarts.

 
 
London in 24 Hours - Carnaby Street
 
 

5:00 PM - Shop at Carnaby Street

Head to London’s West End and shop at Carnaby Street. It encloses an eclectic mix of global brands and independent stores, along with loads of restaurants, cafés, and bars. The West End is a huge hub for shopping, but I found Carnaby Street to be the most quirky with its super artistic storefronts and trendy streetwear brands.

 
 
London in 24 Hours - London Eye
London in 24 Hours - Parliament from the London Eye
London in 24 Hours - London Eye
 
 

6:30 PM - Catch a sunset on the London Eye

In the evening, catch a ride on the London eye to get a panoramic view of the Thames and Parliament from above. If you’re lucky and it’s not raining, you can even try to catch the sunset. The pod that you ride in is spacious and completely surrounded by glass, so you can get a comprehensive view of multiple parts of the city.

 
 
24 Hours in London - Westminster Bridge
 
 

7:30 PM - Walk along Westminster Bridge

After heading up the London Eye, walk along Westminster bridge and watch the House of Parliament light up along with Big Ben. You’ll also get great views of the London Eye on this bridge. But it’s a place where a huge number of tourists flock to, try to plan your visit later in the evening or early in the morning when it’s less crowded.

 
 
London in 24 Hours - Fish & Chips, Bubble & Squeak
 
 

8:30 PM - Try out some British staples for dinner

For dinner, we tried out some traditional British dishes such as Fish & Chips (served with mushy peas here… which I wasn’t exactly pumped about) and Bubble & Squeak, which is a potato and vegetable pancake served with eggs. If this doesn’t look too appetizing to you, you should know that the national dish of England is actually Chicken Tikka Masala. This means London is filled with incredible Indian restaurants. I previously had an amazing meal at “Punjab”, London’s oldest North-Indian restaurant, and also heard great things about the more modern “Dishoom.” These highly-rated Indian restaurants are both located in the Convent Garden area in the West End.

 
 
London in 24 Hours - Full English Breakfast
 
 

7:30 AM - Traditional full English breakfast

Don’t leave London without having one of its most iconic meals: the Full English Breakfast. It consists of common breakfast items like eggs, toast, grilled tomatoes, bacon, and sausage (or “bangers,” as the Brits would say), as well as more traditional English items like baked beans and black pudding. With all of its different components, the Full English can be quite a heavy meal, so consider just getting one plate to share. We had our Full English at the Regency Café, considered one of the best and cheapest spots for a Full English in London. It’s located in the quiet, residential side streets of Westminster, and accepts cash only. Try to head to the café early in the morning to avoid waiting in a long line.

 
 
London in 24 Hours - Platform 9¾
 
 

9:00 AM - London -> Hogwarts

The best way to leave London is via the Hogwarts Express from Platform 9¾.

… Just kidding. But if you are leaving London via train from King’s Cross or St Pancras International, be sure to stop by Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross, which is really a brick wall with a trolley embedded in it. There are scarves readily available from every Hogwarts house, as well as employees there to help you wave your scarf and take your photo while you pretend to magically leap into the platform. Once you’re done with the photo, you can also purchase fan merchandise like wands and scarves at the Harry Potter Shop located right next door.


 
 

Hope you enjoyed this short itinerary and found it useful! I haven’t been back to London in a while, but after watching lots of the Great British Bakeoff and listening to a lot of Tom Misch and Jordan Rakei, I’m really itching to cure my Anglophilia by going back.

♥ Cindy

 
Travel, 2Cindy Zhang