Search This Blog

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Sloppy José

Why is it that when childhood leaves the building it takes the sloppy joe with it?  As a 27 year old, I miss that gloopy gloppy 'wich.  There is something very satisfying about sinking your teeth - nay, your whole face - into something so messy.  If you're eating a sloppy joe and you don't get any sauce on your cheeks, you're doing something wrong.  I longed for that kid-like feeling of not caring if you get messy so I decided it was time to bring back the sloppy joe.

I wanted to go beyond the canned sauce so I took some tips from the web and developed a recipe with a Southwestern vibe.   Et voila: Sloppy Joe becomes Sloppy Jose.  Brown the meat with garlic, cumin, chile powder, onions, and jalapenos.  Once it's cooked, add beer, worcestershire, hot sauce, and tomato paste.  Those ingredients will give you the sauce to satisfy all your messy cravings.  Once it's saucy sloppy (in other words, simmer for about 25 minutes), pile it onto a soft bun and top with cheese (cheddar or pepperjack), a few extra jalapeno slices, and avocado.  I served it with roasted potatoes, but I'm thinking a side of Fritos would have been baller.

You could actually taste the beer, which I liked - it's not just for tenderizing.  The spice of the jalapenos and the coolness of the avocado don't make for a different sandwich, they make for a better sandwich.  I may have made an elementary school-style mess but it was with slightly more sophisticated flavors.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

3 on Thursday

It's back to a short week for me!  Today is actually my last day at work before I head to Vegas for Steph's rager of a bachelorette.  Pray for our livers.

I am newly obsessed with Letters of Note, a website that features the correspondence of famous people.  Sometimes sentimental, sometimes humorous, these letters provide a glimpse into the lives of those we idolize.  In many cases the actual letter has been scanned in so you can see the piece of history itself.  In going through past posts, I found a line I loved in a letter from Ronald Reagan to his son on his wedding day: "There is no greater happiness for a man than approaching a door at the end of a day knowing someone on the other side of that door is waiting for the sound of his footsteps."

Like many a New Yorker, I had my head down, staring at my phone while walking home on Tuesday.  I was scrolling through the latest tweets when I saw one that said Nora Ephron, at age 71, had been diagnosed with leukemia.  About two tweets later, she had already passed away.  Now, I'm not one of those who gets depressed when someone I don't even know personally passes away, but let's just all take a little moment to celebrate the woman who brought us When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, and You've Got Mail.  I could watch You've Got Mail every weekend and be happy as a daisy, the friendliest flower.
 20 of us gals will be invading Sin City for this weekend's bachie.  I imagine it will look something like this video.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Mercer Kitchen

Our latest family dinner was Amy's pick and I was a little worried for my wallet when she picked Mercer Kitchen.  Nevertheless, I was excited to have an excuse to visit such a swanky place and even more excited that our usual crew expanded for the evening to accommodate our cousins who were passing through the city on vacay. 

The decor is simple and segmented.  One area is filled with traditional two- and four-tops while another (where we appropriately sat) featured long farm-style group tables.  I thought the blue lights behind the bar were a little dated, but I absolutely loved the pristine open kitchen.  I kept sneaking peaks at the copper pots and white subway tiles that lined the walls and hung from the ceiling.  I loved watching the chefs grab a handful of herbs from the garden that divided the kitchen from the dining area.  It doesn't get fresher than that. 

This Jean-Georges restaurant is not known for being cheap, but if you navigate the menu properly you don't have to spend a ton.  I went the two app route and found it to be the perfect portion and price.  I started with the sea bass carpaccio with lime, coriander, and mint (from that herb garden).  It was wonderfully tart from the lime and bright with the mint - great for the warm June evening.  The fish also seemed a little meatier than what you normally find in a carpaccio dish.  It was served with fresh rosemary breadsticks that were perfect for picking up all the extra lime-y oil.  I also tasted two of the other apps that were floating on my end of the table.  Sarah's prosciutto and mozzarella was given new life with the addition of strawberries, rhubarb, and serrano chilis.  It is a combo I would not have come up with myself but it worked.  Sarah's boyfriend Jeremy ordered a raw kale salad that was like a kale version of a caesar - I quite enjoyed it. 

For my main course I had the shrimp salad appetizer.  It seemed to be the least special of the dishes I was choosing between, but the waiter suggested it would follow the carpaccio nicely.  He was right.  The salad featured large shrimp, plenty of avocado, and some sort of fancy mushroom that made it filling enough to serve as an entree.  The acidity of the champagne vinaigrette was a nice sequel to the carpaccio of course number one.

I guess what I'm trying to say is I'm glad I had the little push of a family dinner to get me to this restaurant.  The food was good, they make a great dirty martini, and I had the added benefit of strolling Soho before dinner. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Silk Rd Tavern

New restaurants could learn a lot from Silk Rd Tavern.  When you're new to the neighborhood, stellar service is a great way to cement your stake in the foodie community, especially when you have the food to back it up.  Steph and I arrived at the new Flatiron restaurant ready to sample the menu that looked so yummy online.  After a Spicy Thai Margarita (tequila, tamarind, chilis - YUM in that sweet/spicy way) we were ready to design our plan of attack.

The number one thing I wanted to try was the everything duck eggroll (with fois gras and apricot mustard).  Though I was most excited about this dish, it fell a little flat for me.  The wonton was a little too thick/fried and the duck was a little dry.  It wasn't bad, but it wouldn't be a dish that would keep me coming back to the restaurant.  Immediately after, our meal took a bright turn.  Our waiter must have liked our enthusiasm while ordering - when deciding between two sides, we asked us to "surprise us."  He certainly did by bringing out both, one of which was on the house.  The first was a giant root vegetable chip that almost had the consistency of a rice chip.  It was light and airy - I think it would be a great replacement for the bread basket that most restaurants put on the table, but seems more like the type of dish that comes complimentary.

Here's where the meal gets interesting:  the mac and cheese made with rice cakes and Vermont cheddar is Asian fusion in its truest form.  An all american dish gets a serious Asian twist by replacing pasta with mochi.  This mochi mac had a gummy, creamy consistency that was something totally new to my taste buds.  Next we tried the eggplant fries.  The sturdy eggplant held its own within its tempura casing and light sweet sauce.  This was my second favorite dish of the evening and by this point we were telling our waiter how much we were enjoying our meal and drinks.  The praises soared after trying our final dish, the short ribs with kimchi, brussels sprout leaves, and a large sunny side up egg.  Everything about this dish was perfect.  The sweet Asian bbq sauce must have been marinating with the short ribs for a long time because it just fell apart.  The kimchi gave it a kick but it's not overly spicy thanks to the creamy egg and sweet short ribs.  It's the most expensive dish on the menu but it's worth it.  I recommend going with a friend and sharing this dish along with some of the smaller ones for a filling meal.

By this point, we'd become good fans of the restaurant, making friends with our waiter, and contemplating a return.  That return visit was solidified when our waiter came out and told us the chef wanted us to sample a few of the desserts on the house.  No way!  Way.  He brought out strawberry shortcake in an elderflower soup with shortbread and whipped cream that were legit.  He also brought a creme brulee (my all-time favorite dessert) with a serious brulee topping and caramelized peaches.  True it's fusion, but I don't usually expect great desserts from Asian restaurants.  This dispelled that [self imposed] myth in a beautiful way.

With drinks like the spicy thai margarita and dishes like the short ribs and eggplant fries, I would have liked this restaurant regardless.  But it was the jovial and attentive service that took it to the next level for me.  If they keep this up, I predict a packed house nightly.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Arf: Barking Dog

In my five years of living in the Upper East I never went to Barking Dog so when I moved to Murray Hill and there was another location just a few blocks away I figured it was time to finally give it a go.  This decision was helped along by the fact that there are very few brunch spots in the neighborhood and Linds and I wanted breakfast food.  Stat.   

From what I had heard about Barking Dog, the food is nothing crazy, but it is consistently good and reasonably priced.  That about sums it up.  For $10.95 I got a huge breakfast burrito (thankfully included lots of toppings - not all egg) that came with hash browns.  Nobody in the North makes hash browns like I'm used to, but these are better than the average diner potatoes.  Lindsay cleaned her plate of eggs benedict so I'm guessing those were good too.  I also liked the bottomless coffee for $2.95.  The waitress was always popping around the corner to refill my mug and kick my morning into high gear.

Bottom line: solid breakfast options at good prices.  I also highly recommend the Murray Hill location which has a great outdoor seating area.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Fava Fave

Until a couple months ago the only thing I knew about fava beans was the line from "Silence of the Lambs."  I couldn't have told you what they tasted or even looked like.  Then I was at The Smile and they were incorporated into a crostini and I was a newfound fan.  I am picky when it comes to beans and don't like when they're all mushy.  These are closer in size to limas but firmer (so in my mind, better) and a much prettier bright green.

I'm not usually a Fresh Direct gal but decided to try it since there are no good grocery stores by my new apartment.  When I saw favas were on special I was intrigued but hesitant.  I had no idea how to cook them.  Thankfully, Fresh Direct populates recipes when you click on a particular ingredient, solving my "what the heck do I do with these" problem.  A few point and clicks later, I had a delivery scheduled.

I expected the fava beans to arrive ready to cook but apparently there's a nice little prep process involved.  The favas come in huge pods that need to be shelled and then each bean needs to be skinned.  It was a little more than I bargained for.  It wasn't difficult, but it certainly wasn't "heat and eat."  I was happy my phone rang while I was shelling so I could put my Mom on speaker and chat away, making the prep work go much faster.

The recipe I found could not have been easier - or tastier!  You won't believe how good three ingredients will taste.  Put olive oil and about 1/4 cup water in a pan and add the fava beans with salt.  Shake/flip em around every once in a while to get all sides, but let them simmer away til tender, about 15-20 minutes, depending on how big they are.  Meanwhile, cook up whatever short pasta you like.  I stopped by Eataly and picked up some of their fresh pasta.  I went with the agnoloti quadratti, which is filled with prosciutto,  parmesan, and other yumminess.  It was still the small size I wanted but had the meat filling that took this from veggie side dish to main course.  While those two items are cooking, tear up some basil and toss it with olive oil, salt, and pepper (enough to dress the whole dish).  When everything is done cooking, toss it together and you have one of the best pasta dishes I've eaten in a long time.

And I know you think I may be exaggerating but it really was one of the best pastas I've made.  Maybe it was the fresh pasta.  Or perhaps it was the seasonal ingredients.  Who knows, I could have just been really hungry and anything would have tasted great.  Whatever it was, I loved this dish and am still shocked it used only three ingredients.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

3 on Thursday

This was my first full week at work in a while and I was dreading it.  Thankfully, it hasn't been too terrible and I have been trying to make it go by quickly by getting to the gym and adding some post-work events to the schedule.

After hearing all about this show for months, I finally decided to Netflix it.  The show - from PBS of all places - reveals day-to-day life at British estate Downtown, with a focus on the staff.  It is so interesting - and I don't mean that in an "it's fine enough" way.  I mean I was so interested in learning about the staff's hierarchy and the process by which they keep the estate running that my eyes were glued to the screen.  Now if I could just get myself to stop calling it Downtown Abbey we'd be good.

My friends are so much cooler than me.  The three ladies pictured above are the type who kick butt and take names.  Unsatisfied with their lives, they decided to actually do something about it (novel idea) and just launched Quarterlette about two weeks ago.  Quarterlette is a website designed to help girls navigate the quarter-life crisis.  Think crises are only for midlife and men?  Wrong.  I, myself, have been trying to figure out what the heck I want out of life.  Is this the career I want?  Am I happy with the status of my love life?  Do I want to live in this city?  These are the questions that plague many a 20-something, and now we have a place to help us sort through them.  I am so proud of Emily and Rachel for identifying an underserved niche and conquering it at full speed.  I encourage you to peruse the beautifully designed website - there's a little something for everyone.  Also, try to find their video "A Quarterlette Story" on the homepage where you may spot a certain someone (me!).  If you can't find it on the site, check it out on YouTube here.

Blow dry salons are actually not new to the city.  In fact, I wrote about Blow a while ago.  Then how is it that drybar made such waves?  I'll tell you how: great prices and great branding.  All blowouts are $40, no exception.  The atmosphere is fun and girly like a cocktail party where movies like "Mean Girls" and "The Holiday" play on flat screens around the salon.  It's infectious.  For me, it means the opportunity to flaunt the big Southern hair I love but can't do myself.  On a run last weekend, I noticed they are planning to open another location this Summer, right by my apartment.  I don't plan on going weekly, but it'll be nice having it around for special events, especially as Matt and Karina's wedding rolls around (the wedding hotel is right around the corner making this uber convenient for us bridesmaids).

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


I was happy to realize I had a few friends living in the Murray Hill area - yay! it's not all gel-haired 22 year olds!  Wendy happens to be one of those friends and after weeks of non-jiving schedules we found a window of opportunity and went to dinner last week.  Due to the large number of Indian restaurants in the bottom section of the area, it's often referred to as Curry Hill.  We decided to try Dhaba, one such restaurant that neither of us had been to but that came highly recommended on Yelp.

I knew I wanted to order a chaat, which is pretty much a chaotic mess on a plate.  Typically I don't like sloppy food with everything mixed together.  I usually like my food not touching so I can mix it as I wish - I guess that's the control freak in me.  However, after an Indian friend ordered it for me at a restaurant and told me I had to eat it, I learned I could enjoy a pre-jumbled mess.  We went with the aloo tikki chaat, which is potato patties topped with yogurt and chutneys.  It started the meal on a super high note.

For the rest of the meal we ordered a ton of food knowing we would be bringing home the leftovers.  We just couldn't help ourselves.  I thought Southerners had the market cornered on butter, but two of the dishes we ordered (chicken butter masala and methi mataar malai) were filled with it, which of course made them extra delicious to me.  We also ordered lamb vindaloo and naan so that we could sop it all up.  The food wasn't as spicy as usual, but the flavors were all there.

I don't know that we'll ever be able to make our way through all the Indian restaurants in the neighborhood but our first attempt was a success.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Circa 1875

Since it's rare that I get to go to Savannah, I try to see all my friends from home whenever I'm there.  That meant dinner and drinks with Danyse was a top priority.  We decided to go to Circa 1875 for some French fare before heading to the bars.  Circa is divided into the bar side and the dining side - both serve food in a bistro setting, but the dining side has white tablecloths and the bar side has a more jovial atmosphere.  Different strokes for different folks.  For us, the bar side seemed more suitable.

We asked for a cocktail list, but they actually don't have one - sorry, Big City folks.  The waiter did, however, tell us he could make anything we wanted and suggested a special cocktail they recently concocted.  It had watermelon juice, gin, and champagne.  Amazing.  The champagne cut the gin nicely and the watermelon juice wasn't overly sweet.  I followed that with a dirty martini because I knew they had blue cheese olives - hand stuffed just an hour earlier - and I didn't want to pass that up. 

Instead of ordering entrees, we ordered a round of salads and three apps for the table.  My salad had poached pear, pecans, and camembert.  Of all the cheeses I've seen on salad, camembert has never made an appearance, but I quite enjoyed it.  We ordered a mixed plate that came with pate, prosciutto, salami, sausage, and three cheeses.  We also ordered the mussels - a local favorite - and the scallops.  Yum yum and yum.  You wouldn't think that starter salads and appetizers would be a ton of food, but we couldn't even finish it all.  The portions are sizable so you really can get away with ordering an appetizer for your dinner.

On top of great food, the service was wonderful.  Some of our food came out a minute early and both the chef and manager came out to offer their [unnecessary] apologies.  With that sort of service backing up the wonderful menu, it's no surprise Circa 1875 has become a local favorite.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Book Review: Don't Get Too Comfortable

The fact that this book was written by a gay, Jewish guy with tons of crazy life experiences should have meant it would be a THK favorite.  Unfortunately, while each essay should have written itself (cabana boy at a hot South Beach hotel, gay republicans, and Hooters Air), they all seemed to fall flat. 

Rakoff never provides any background explaining how he finds himself in these crazy situations, which is not inherently bad.  It can be striking and sometimes even funnier for the reader to be plopped in the middle of an off-the-wall scenario, but then you need to keep up the momentum.  In this case the author gives you all the ingredients for a hilarious story but then never delivers the punchline.

1 out of 5 stars

Friday, June 15, 2012

Olympia Cafe

I didn't really want a birthday celebration this year.  This was not a case of "boo hoo don't look at me I'm getting old."  It's more like "turning 27 seems like no big deal when your closest friends are getting married and you just bought an apartment."  Basically, my birthday seemed pretty inconsequential with all the other amazing things going on right now.

There was no party and no candles this year, but I didn't see any harm in an intimate supper with my Mom, Mark, and Allison (my Daddy was out of town at a National board meeting).  I picked one of my Savannah favorites for supper, Olympia Cafe.  It's nothing fancy and happens to be right in the middle of River Street, also known as Savannah's clusterf*** of tourists.  It may be in an unlikely area, but I've always enjoyed the food and have spent many (most) a birthday there.

Fun fact: when I was a wee tike of about eight, the owner took me to the back and showed me my first keg at my Grandpa's birthday dinner.  It was love at first sight.

We started with an antipasti plate that included a potato dip, roe dip, olives, artichokes, octopus, and feta.  We also ordered calamari (some of the best in Savannah thanks to perfect breading), hummus, and dolmades.  They used to have meat in their dolmades and I was wary when the waitress told us they had switched to vegetarian, but they were so nicely spiced and topped with yummy tzaziki that I was just as happy with the meat-free version.  For my entree I ordered the duo plate (choice of two specialties) with pastisio and spanikopita.  The pastisio was made with red sauce and just a little bechemel instead of tons of white sauce.  I actually preferred this lighter version.  The spanikopita was great as usual and the potatoes and rice had a nice lemony touch.

It was the perfect birthday supper spent with those I love most at a restaurant that was just as good as I remembered.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

3 on Thursday

Welcome to the Savannah edition of 3 on Thursday.  I was home for my annual week-long Summer visit that I planned around Bridge's wedding.  It was so nice to spend time with the fam and relax in the Lowcountry.  I can't think of a better way to ring in 27.

My hopes to sit around the pool with a daiquiri getting tan were dashed when it rained for six days straight.  I tried to lay out, but it was in vain.  But even in dreary weather, I have been in awe of my view from the day we moved into the house.
Bridget and Julien know how to throw a wedding, plain and simple.  The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is so beautiful, it made me wish I was Catholic so I could get married there.  To give you an idea of how much fun it was: the ceremony began at 2:00 PM, the cocktail hour started at 4:00 PM, and I didn't go to bed until 3:30 AM.  New South Players, aka NSP of fraternity band party legend, was the wedding band so it was quite the dance fest.  Bridge also knows the way to go down as a great party is with a mac and cheese bar.  Well done, Dr. and Mrs. Norton.

I spent a lot of my vacation trying to consume all my favorite foods from home.  This is a spectacular pulled pork sandwich from the Smoke Station.  I'm sorry, but the BBQ in NYC just can't compare.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Catch Me If You Can

Since Jen will soon be moving to Atlanta (I almost cried just writing that), we're trying to squeeze in as many New York moments as possible.  The first thing we wanted to do was hit up a true scene - girls only.  Catch is the latest and greatest restaurant to heat up Meatpacking which means it had to be our destination.  From what we heard, this place is more about the scene than the food so we stuck to apps, which were supposed to be more reliable than the entrees and allowed us to try more of the menu. 

We were intrigued by the hellfire roll, which features pear and balsamic.  The reduction and pear together made for a sweet roll that was good but not very sushi-like.  Next came the salmon belly carpaccio with yuzu and watercress - a simple dish that hit all the right notes.  The scallop dumplings were a waitress suggestion and may have been my favorite of the evening.  The wonton wrappers were thin enough to let you enjoy the texture of the chopped scallops.  It's not pictured, but our next app was the crispy shrimp.  These had less spicy mayo than your typical rock shrimp, but the flavor was all there, miraculously, without that extraneous goop.  The shrimp were also larger than normal so that gets an extra bonus point.  We ordered a side of lobster mac and cheese's lobster mac - we couldn't resist.  It was just as creamy as we had hoped.  For the one non-seafood dish of the night, we ordered the mushroom spaghetti with tomatoes and a parmesan cream sauce.  I honestly didn't expect much from that one, but found it very comforting.

Although I said plenty of times that I didn't want this to be any sort of birthday celebration, Steph and Jen managed to order a dessert platter while I was in the ladies' room.  What sneaky girls!  It was a plate full of all sorts of cookies, including a gooey chocolate chip straight from the oven.  I have such amazing friends who know the way to my heart is an extra plate of food!

I'm sure I went in with low expectations, but I was pleasantly surprised by the food.  It turns out Catch is more than just a pretty face place to see pretty faces.  Their seafood small plates are worthy of a pre-lounge dinner.  I'm not going to lie; it was expensive (another reason to stick with the apps), but that comes with the Meatpacking territory.  I also highly recommend the Death by Bartender drink for a spicy whiskey punch in the face.  If you want something a little more refreshing and a little less alcoholic, go with the Iris for a fun summer cocktail.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Book Review: Tar Baby

Toni Morrison is one of the most lauded writers of our time and I can understand why after experiencing her unique structure in this novel, Tar Baby.  The [3rd person] narration's focus flows from character to character without pause, mirroring the Caribbean waters that play their own role in the novel.

Writing prowess aside, I was disappointed in the ending of the novel.  [**Spoiler Alert!**]  I was angry that after the grand revelation of Margaret's abuse of her son, nobody made any effort to make amends with the boy who was clearly damaged.  Perhaps it is a realistic version of how things may have turned out - it is hard to begin fixing such a rupture in the familial unit after so many years.  However, if we are going with realistic, the romance between Son and Jadine made no sense to me.  It takes love at first sight to a new level.  Someone with Jade's worldly view would not run away with a man like Son.  Yes, in the end she comes to her senses and it seems everything goes back to normal (Jade running around Europe getting wooed, the Streets avoiding their problems in the Caribbean, Ondine and Sydney loyally serving them), but I don't think the romance would have started in the first place.

I know people write their college theses on Toni Morrison, but I just wasn't totally feeling this.  Am I totally missing something?  I appreciated the writing style and the examination of both white guilt, class, and freedom, but I think I liked the flesh more than the bones of the story.

2 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Beach Bakery

We arrived in Westhampton early on Saturday and made a beeline for Beach Bakery.  Matt and Jen make a stop here whenever they're in the Hamptons and I didn't want to miss out on their tradition.  My lace cookies, and although they're my favorite cookie (when made properly), Matt and Jen's coconut chocolate thing was better.  The coconut got almost gooey and the chocolate made it taste like a homemade Mounds.  Even better than the cookies were the breads/pastries.  Matt and Jen raved about the muffins, but I had my eye on the bread.

I picked out a sunflower seed bread that cost only $4.50 for a big loaf.  It was nice and crusty on the outside and super soft on the inside.  Basically, it was exactly how you want bread to be.  I've never seen sunflower seed bread before but it was nothing less than genius.  Sunflower seeds have such a distinct flavor and are soft enough to be able to be sprinkled inside and outside the whole loaf without causing a disruptive crunch.  It was a great support vehicle for the cheese we had on our appetizer platter and for the oil leftover from our caprese salad.  But honestly, it was good on it's own - no butter needed.

Beach Bakery is low key and run by a bunch of [who looked to be] 12-year-olds, but they churn out legit bread.  When you're in the Hamptons, everything beyond the beach and the pool is gravy.  Baked goods aren't necessary, but they definitely don't take away from the great vacation experience.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

3 on Thursday

This week's 3 on Thursday is going to look a little different because I'm posting from my phone on the plane. (Format will be different and I'm not even sure if the pictures will show up in the right order.) That's just the kind of considerate girl I am. I'm posting while dealing with the hassle of traveling just so you don't have to go a day without my fabulous guidance. Now that I'm done tootingy own horn, I'll fill you in on this week's faves.

1) I've been doing some home decorating recon at CB2 and love how they organize their store. In addition to room layouts, they sneak in fun little moments like these wine game instructions. Next time you have a dinner/cocktail party, have each guest bring two identical bottles of wine. One is stashed away in a bin while the other is placed in a numbered brown paper bag. Then it's onto the fun part: the tasting! The guests try each wine and vote on their favorite (thanks to the brown paper bag, votes are based on taste and not swayed by labels). Whoever brought the winning bottle gets to take home the duplicate stash. It seems to me like this would be a great activity and unlike most party games wouldn't take a lot of convincing to accrue participants.

2) I've touched on this a little on previous posts, but after five years in New York, I finally made it to the Hamptons. Matt and Jen's cousin has a place there that would blow your mind. Tennis court, pool, the works. We spent all day lounging and then grilled out with a caprese salad, sausage, steak, and asparagus. I never saw the huge appeal of the Hamptond. When everyone migrates there in the Summer, I find the city to be a wonderful, more relaxed version of its typical playground. Now I get it. I need to figure out how to make the Hamptons a regular Summer escape.

3) I love my new Chanel lipstick but when I got the urge to test out another new color, I figured it was time to do so on a budget. I headed to Duane Reade in search of a pow pow red and found success even without the help of a department store makeup artist. I'm loving the instant wow factor of Revlon's Ravish Me Red and the fact that I achieved the exact look I was going for in under $9.


I was heading to the Hamptons early Saturday morning (rough life) so I spent Friday night at home, eating takeout while watching my latest Netflix (a cheesy chick flick - don't ask).  I decided to order from Bareburger, a fancypants burger place that has recently sprung up in a few locations around the city, one of which is right near my new apartment.  The signage featured lots of hippy terms like "free-range" and "organic," not things I usually care about when I want my greasy burger fix.  I decided to put my prejudice aside for a night in the hopes that I would enjoy their product, and it turns out I did.

The choices may astound you.  In addition to beef/turkey/veggie options, you can get your burger made with bison, ostrich, elk, lamb, or wild boar.  They even have a gluten-free bun option.  I ordered the Mediterranean (cucumber mint yogurt, lettuce, cucumber, tomato, and apple smoked onions) with a lamb patty.  The toppings were great and the patty arrived just under the medium-rare I requested ("almost" is pretty good when it comes to burger delivery).  I also ordered a side of fries that I would recommend to anyone.  They come with three sauces - curry ketchup, chipotle mayo, and special sauce - all of which were good.

These burgers fall somewhere between a bistro burger (i.e.: JG Melon) and a greasy melty burger (i.e.: Shake Shack).  The other two burger camps are great, but so are options, so I'm very happy to have found a middle ground in the neighborhood.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Francois Payard Macarons

A new Francois Payard Bakery just opened near my office on Friday and as an opening day special, they offered a free macaron with any purchase.  Macarons are one of my favorite treats, especially when they come in fun flavors, so I jumped at the opportunity to get a freebie from a famous bakery.

I'm a big fan of Payard truffles, expensive though they may be, so I figured the macarons would be fabulous.  I immediately liked two things: the flavor selection and the price.  At $2.25, they are a little less expensive than other places and the flavors went beyond the typical chocolate/raspberry/pistachio/lemon foursome.  I wanted to try several (and one was a freebie so, really, what was the harm in getting an assortment) so I went with a trio of cassis, passionfruit, and salted caramel.

In addition to the meringue being a little soggy, I found the texture and amount of filling to be inconsistent.  The salted caramel had a thick layer of rich filling but the other flavors were not nearly as strong and were a little creamier.  In case I need to spell it out, I was a little disappointed.  They weren't bad, but I've had better macarons, at Macaron Cafe, for instance.  In general, the food and desserts at Francois Payard Bakery are good, but if I want to really satisfy a macaron craving, I may have to go elsewhere.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Big Gay Book Club

Every time I've tried to join a book club, no one ends up reading the book and even when they do they never want to talk about it.  I'm all for drinking wine and gossiping, but if there was zero interest in reading the book, why not just call it dinner?  Thankfully, this group actually cared about reading - the group leader even printed out a list of questions for discussion!  You'll see my book review later, but for now, I'd like to tell you about our book club menu.

We rock this book club potluck style and we had quite a spread.  There was five bean salad, quinoa salad, layered hummus dip, goat cheese salad with cornbread croutons, cheese and crackers, and my contribution: ice cream sandwiches.  Because I had to run a few errands between work and book club, I was unable to cook a dish myself.  I knew if I was going to bring something store-bought when everyone else was going homemade, it had to be special, so I stopped by the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop for some special frozen treats.

Big Gay Ice Cream started out as a food truck that gained such popularity with their Salty Pimp cones (vanilla ice cream, dulce de leche, sea salt, and chocolate dip) that they opened a brick and mortar store last summer.  It's as much fun to just say the names of their ice cream combos as it is to eat them.  Sundaes and cones don't travel well for a group, but ice cream sandwiches were easy enough to transport and could be easily split in half to feed our whole group.

The ice cream sandwiches are made in conjunction with Melt Bakery, but it should have been no surprise that everyone's favorite was the Big Gay Ice Cream exclusive, the Rue McClanahan.  Bourbon ice cream (with a distinct liquor flavor) was sandwiched between two praline pecan cookies.  Those were the first to get devoured by the group.  As a true Southern gal, it was obvious I would love the one with pecans and bourbon, but the vote was unanimous.  We also tried the snickerdoodle (with cinnamon ice cream) and the red velvet (with cream cheese ice cream).  Though not as fabulous as the Rue McClanahan, they sure did get polished off quickly.

Big Gay Ice Cream: It's here.  It's queer.  Get used to it.


Related Posts with Thumbnails