Search This Blog

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Parm + Gouda

This may not look like an exciting recipe for kale and it's not.  I pretty much just sauteed it up with olive oil, garlic, and paprika then topped it with toasted pine nuts and grated cheese.  What made it great was the cheese so I suppose this post is really about the cheese, not the recipe for a kale side dish.

I have found that Trader Joe's carries a great, inexpensive cheese selection.  One of my favorite finds was the Cambozola.  It's a combination of camembert and gorganzola - in essence, an extra creamy blue cheese. Well, I recently discovered a new hybrid cheese on their shelf.  It is the bastard child of parmesan and gouda and it's fabulous.  It's salty from the parm but a little creamy from the gouda.  The parmesan half makes it perfect for pasta, but the gouda makes it far more versatile.  Big recommendation from me.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Soft Serve Fruit Co.

I have shrugged off The Soft Serve Fruit Co. as another Pinkberry-esque fro-yo place for about a year.  It kind of is, but there is something that sets it apart: its all fruit.  Seriously, the only three ingredients are fruit, water, and a little organic cane syrup.  The result is true fruit flavor.

I stopped by on a very hot Sunday made even hotter by the fact that I was lugging an overnight bag.  A cool treat was all I could think about and The Soft Serve Fruit Co. appeared as an oasis.  I chose the blueberry and topped it with pomegranate seeds.  I would be so sad if I were regular fruit and knew this was what I was competing against.  It's just as healthy but tastes so much better than a fruit cup.

Downside: it aint cheap.  My small cup with one topping was just that, small, and it cost $5.18.  True, it hit the spot and it's not like I needed a larger portion, but it still seemed rather pricey.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Book Review: Most Talkative

I have loved Andy Cohen since I first saw him hosting a reunion show on Bravo.  So many people, men included, soak up salacious pop culture gossip but are afraid to admit it because it's considered lowbrow.  Andy full-on owns his love for all things celebrity, particularly 80s icons.  But what I liked most about him was that he showed you can love the fun stuff and still have a brain.  I knew before reading this book that Cohen wasn't just some flippant tv show host.  He landed that role after years of working his way up the production ladders of CBS and Bravo.

What I wanted to know were the details of the business side of his career...and I'll admit it, a little Real Housewives gossip, too.  Cohen is clearly a smart, wry man who has earned every bit of success.  If I thought he was approachable before, I now think it's alright to give him a big ol bear hug if I ever run into him on the street.  He comes across as very down to earth and like the best gay friend I have always wanted.  Andy, call me. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

3 on Thursday

Lots of new discoveries this week...

On Monday, I decided to pop into La Maison du Chocolat because I am always on the search for a good macaron and heard theirs was top notch.  Since it was my first time in the luxe chocolate shop, I decided to try a few things.  First, I picked out three chocolates (all dark chocolate with creamy dark chocolate centers mixed with different flavors - cinnamon, raspberry, and passion fruit).  Then it was onto the macaron I had been hearing about.  The flavors were all pretty classic so I went with the pistachio, my favorite of those more traditional flavors.  It was basically a perfect macaron.  Instead of a jelly-like center, the middle was creamy pistachio chocolate.  Though La Maison du Chocolat is not a macaron shop, this could easily be their specialty.  What made me like them even more was their offer to taste a chocolate.  Now, these tiny chocolates are $2.50 apiece and I had already purchased three so I was ecstatic to receive a fourth for free.  I hope they make this offer every time I stop by, though something tells me it's a first timer thing. 
Like always, it took me a while to jump on the "Girls" bandwagon, but once I did, I was obsessed.  I watched five episodes in a row and then attempted to savor the flavor of the remaining episodes.  I'm sure you can guess that didn't work out and I, of course, devoured the rest of Season 1 in one sitting.  Though I'm not sure Marnie totally fits with the other girls, I think the rest of the show is a pretty close chronicle of my first few years living in New York.  Maybe I'm not exactly like these girls, but I know enough people who are.  It is definitely a more realistic version of Sex And The City.  It's all sorts of witty without being cheesy and I am full on in love with the characters.
Everything on Steph's registry had already been purchased when I went to buy a gift for her bridal shower so I had to get a little creative.  I knew she already had martini glasses so I rounded out her bar with drinking accessories like a pitcher, a stirrer, and coasters.  To personalize the gift a little bit, I took the bar theme a step further.  Whenever Steph and I go out for our own lil date nights we always order lychee martinis.  They may be a little passé now, but 1) it's tradition and 2) they taste dang good.  Anyway, along with the bar accessories, I gave her all the fixins for our favorite lychee 'tinis.  Inside the package I placed a can of lychee and a bottle of vodka.  Now, if you saw this vodka, you'd probably be a little put off, as I'm sure Steph was, so I made sure to explain to her why I picked the brand I did.  The employee at the liquor store across from my apartment seemed very knowledgeable and when I told him what I would be using the vodka for and that my dear friend preferred Grey Goose, he implored me to buy Star Vodka instead.  He told me it was new, American brand that beat out Grey Goose and Belvedere in a blind taste test among women.  It was a dollar less than Grey Goose so I asked if he was getting extra commission for selling it through and he convinced me he just thought it was really good vodka.  The moment of truth came Saturday night when Steph and I prepared our lychee 'tinis and discovered that it was a delicious, smooth vodka.  It may not be well known, but I'm a big fan.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


It had been far too long since I had hung out with my work mentor, Ira.  I still hold a grudge for him leaving me all alone at our agency to take a hot-to-trot job on the client side, but it was time to push that aside when I needed his discerning eye for decor.  I had to run some errands on the West Side so I suggested we meet in his West Village neighborhood for brunch, which made him very happy since he does not share my love for the East Side.  He suggested Corsino, and I jumped at the chance to try 'inoteca's sister restaurant.

My scrambled eggs with asparagus, prosciutto, and fontina were perfect, especially when piled on top of crunchy toasted flatbread.  Asparagus really should be incorporated into more dishes instead of just roasted and served on the side.  Ira scarfed his baked eggs so I'm assuming they were good, but he's a germaphobe who doesn't share food so I wouldn't know firsthand.  Everything always seems so pricey in the West Village so I was happy to see my bill with tax and tip came to about $11.50.   

The atmosphere is laid back, particularly in the Summer when all the fancy West Village folks have jetted to the Hamptons.  It was the perfect setting for me to pick Ira's brain about apartment decorating.  And brunch just seems like the right meal to discuss decorating, don't you think?  

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bi Lokma

When Mallory and I were both feeling a bit under the weather on Friday, we decided to switch our happy hour to tea and Turkish food at a random but central spot on 45th, Bi Lokma.  Mallory had been before and recommended the apple tea, a warm, sweet concoction that was as perfect as perfect can be on a rainy day when I'd had a 5 hour headache.

After sharing hummus with this amazing focaccia style flatbread, Mallory ordered a salad and the hot yogurt soup (sounds weird but tasted amazing with all sorts of flavors we couldn't place).  I went with the burek, which was basically that flaming greek saganaki cheese stuffed inside cigar shaped phyllo dough.  I also ordered the grape leaves stuffed with rice and - oo surprise! - currents.  For a dish that's usually salty and acid filled, the sweet currents were a nice switcharoo.

Though I'm usually a member of the clean plate club, Mallory warned me to stop when I felt myself getting full so I could save room for dessert.  Much like the yogurt soup, the butternut squash sounds like an odd choice but tasted wonderful.  It's been candied and sits in a very light syrup, topped with fresh cream and chopped walnuts.  It was almost like chilled, not-chewy dried fruit.  It was refreshing and light but still sweet enough to feel like a true dessert.

When we arrived, the restaurant was calm enough to serve as a place to sip tea and read a book.  By the time dinner hour was in full swing, the atmosphere was still relaxed but filled with people who have found this somewhat hidden gem.  Two things to keep in mind: 1) BYOB and 2) cash only.  Cash only can be slightly annoying, but the BYOB part cancels it out.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Wren

Anne and I were meeting up with some friends for a drink (or four) at Whiskey Town around 11/11:30, but we were both ready to head out early and wanted to get a drink under our belts at a calmer establishment first.  I had been hearing great things about The Wren and knew I liked what that crew had done with Wilfie & Nell so I figured it would be a nice place to start the also didn't hurt that it was also a stone's throw away from the final destination.

I loved the crowd.  It was a good mix of prep and tattoos - everybody wins.  The drink menu looked nice and fancy but none of the cocktails were really speaking to me.  The bartender not only picked up on the fact that I wanted something that I wanted something off the menu, but he immediately figured out the type of drink I wanted - I barely had to say a word.  They have a handle on mixology without being too stuffy.  Upstairs feels a little more casual, but if you've come with an intimate group or better yet a date, the downstairs area is the place to be with its separate bar and candlelight.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Amy Ruth's and Harlem Tavern

Saturday was another one of me and Podz' "neighborhood days" where we pick a 'hood and just walk around, checking out all of its unique spots.  Today's spotlight is Harlem, a neighborhood I've scarcely visited in all my five years in New York but one I am now obsessed with.  Harlem is undergoing a second renaissance.  I was nowhere near being alive for Harlem Renaissance #1 so it's pretty cool to get to see round two.  This time, instead of Jazz and literature, the focus of the neighborhood's rebirth seems to be food related.

We started the day at Amy Ruth's, a famed soul food restaurant that I've been dying to try.  I had to find out if what I was hearing was true: the food is as good as any I'd find at home.  My prayers have been answered.  The fried chicken was just as good as any I could find in Savannah and the waiter had no problem bringing me honey.  (Based on the looks I get when I request it, I've learned they don't use honey as a fried chicken condiment up here.  Sad.  They don't know what they're missing.)  Though my chicken and waffles didn't come with a side, I had to order some collards and ooooh boy were they perfect, especially when I added a little hot sauce.  Podz walked into the restaurant saying she didn't like collard greens and left saying she must have just been eating the wrong ones.  Her side of choice was mac and cheese and I would offer it up as a throwdown competitor against Mildred's.  Mildred would win, of course, but Amy Ruth's is the most similar version I've found.  The best part of the meal: after five years of searching, I found a restaurant that serves sweet tea.  And I must say, it is just the right amount of sweet.  That alone is worth the subway ride to 116th St.  The food tasted like home and - what's this?! - the prices are as low as they are at home.  It's a little piece of the South in Manhattan.  My oh my what a wonderful find.

Time for a break to walk off our massive meals.  After lusting past the gorgeous apartments springing up all over the place, we stopped at the hub of stores like Marshall's and H&M to stock up on cheap, cute goods.  I walked away with a picture frame and a full outfit to wear that night for $34.  Bargains like that deserve a celebratory beer so we stopped at Harlem Tavern for drinks.

The new indoor/outdoor spot was packed with a mix of Columbia co-eds and families with young kids.  People from every race and age group gathered for the relaxing atmosphere.  Everybody loves a good beer garden.  Huge screens inside make it the ideal spot for game watching and the lily pads of red umbrella'd tables outside make it a perfect place to sip a $7 beer on a warm day.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

3 on Thursday

The summer is chugging along and I've had no complaints thus far...

Second Time Around, a designer consignment store just opened a few blocks from my apartment.  Until they set up shop in my neighborhood, I was safe.  The other two boutiques near me were too pricy for me to even walk in the door, thereby saving me from myself.  Having STA around will not be good for my wallet, but if I continue to walk out with cheap designer duds (like the $50 Theory shirt I picked up on Friday), it will be great for my wardrobe.  If I'm getting a really good deal it's ok to buy lots of clothes, right?
Saturday was Bastille Day, but since I had pre-scheduled plans I knew I wouldn't be able to make it to the annual street fair on 60th Street.  As my own personal celebration, I stopped by my favorite macaron shop, Macaron Cafe, which just opened a location 10 blocks from my apartment last week.  10 blocks is far enough that I won't be tempted daily but close enough to easily satisfy the intense cravings.  I built a pack of six for $14 and chose cassis, passion fruit, apricot, pistachio, salted caramel, and white chocolate.  Not a bad one in the bunch, though the apricot was particularly good. 
I just learned about a great blog this week: Underground New York Public Library.  I can be seen with my nose stuck in a book while riding the subway, standing on the platform, and sometimes even getting in a few more pages on the walk between the subway and the office.  In fact, thanks to the precious reading time I can grasp on my subway travels, I no longer go anywhere in NYC without a book.  Clearly, I'm not the only one.  I love how intensely everyone reads their books and how nonplussed everyone around them looks. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Osteria Morini

What a lucky girl I was to get quality Italian two nights in a row!  The vibe and setting of Osteria Morini could not have been more different from the previous night's meal at A Voce.  Instead of the white tablecloths and sleek modern lines of the Time Warner Center, we were seated at rustic wooden tables with paper placemats.  Though the china looked like it came out of Grandma's cabinet, this was no red sauce place.

We ordered family style, not bothering with any of the meats or fish since we knew the apps and pastas were the winners here.  We ordered prosciutto, coppa, and parmesan to start because cured meats are the best way to start any shared Italian meal.  It came alongside the pea/fava bean/mint/speck crostini that was calling my name from the moment I picked up the menu.  It was super fresh and in no way mushy like you expect peas to be.  The seafood salad with capers was a light way to start the meal...followed by the heavier cheese-stuffed fried squash blossoms.  The outside was not as crispy as I would have liked but the flavor was there.  The next appetizer was a special that evening and it was the "wow" dish of the night.  Rich, cheesy polenta was the bed for sausage stuffed rabbit that was topped with a fried egg.  It's a good thing we were splitting this between three people because the whole dish would have put me over the edge; though like a lemming, I would have willingly jumped that cliff.

The next stage of food was the pasta round.  We ordered three to share with the guidance of our Ethan Embry look-alike waiter who steered us away from one dish and in the direction of a much better one.  Though I was most excited to try the lumache verde (spinach pasta with lamb ragu and ricotta salata), I found it overly salty.  Ok, so not a true winner there, but the garganelli (pasta quills, radicchio, truffle butter, prosciutto, peas, and cream) and the creste (shrimp and sepia ragu with fava beans) were both great pasta dishes.  You know how you can go to any Italian restaurant and order pasta with cream sauce and peas?  Well this is the dish you're craving but never actually get.  Though creamy, it wasn't uncomfortably doused like at a neighborhood restaurant and the peas were sweet and firm.  The creste was lightly sauced to let the minced shrimp come to the forefront while the fava beans brought this seafood dish a little closer to shore.  We also ordered a side of cauliflower and escarole gratin.  This is a splurge of a side dish if I ever saw one and boy was it worth it.  The cauliflower fell into the background a bit and served as more of a reason to have cheese sauce in a bowl, while the escarole gave you something to really bite into.

We were too full for a real dessert so we just ordered one scoop of the caramel biscotti gelato.  Just a small taste was all I needed to finish the meal.  And what a meal it was.  I have heard about the genius stylings of chef Michael White and have been wanting to try his restaurants for a while.  The food was wonderful without too much hooplah.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Voce Columbus

The ball was in my court for picking a work dinner last week with the only condition being that we not stray too far from the office.  I went with A Voce in the Time Warner Center (Columbus Circle) for some much praised fine Italian.  It's a lot of pressure to pick a restaurant when your superior is involved - I was dealing with power players but I turned into the boss.  I held my breath, hoping the group would like my choice.

First off, golf claps to A Voce for putting fresh focaccia bread on the table with homemade light-as-air ricotta.  Worlds better than bread and oil.  We all decided to do an appetizer and a pasta for our meal and my appetizer was a creamy dreamy chilled corn soup.  The sweet corn broth was thick and perfectly smooth.  You want it thicker, do you?  No problem, there's a generous dollop of tangy marscapone floating in the bowl that you can swirl in as you like.  A few small basil leaves kept the flavor from being too rich and flat.  I highly recommend ordering a pasta dish as all pasta is made fresh.  I went with the corzetti, flat, 2" discs of pasta topped with crispy, salty crumbs of speck, leeks, and crab.  I would have liked just a bit more crab, but it was still a wonderful pasta dish.  We also ordered two cold vegetable sides for the table, tomatoes with herbs and breadcrumbs and cucumbers with vinegar, ricotta salata, and pepper.  These sides are not integral to the meal, but they were a welcome, simple accompaniment.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the meal so I was able to breath again...only breathing had become slightly more difficult in my tight dress considering I was so stuffed.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Toucan and The Lion

If I hear a random new place has a great burger, I immediately put it on my list.  Unfortunately, The Toucan and the Lion sat on said list for much longer than I would have liked before I got to try it.  It took me a whole six months since the restaurant's opening, but I finally made it there and only wish I had forced myself to get go sooner.  

The big wooden doors are discreet and overshadowed by the boisterous restaurant on the corner, but the food is much better than that of its loud neighbors.  Gastropubs serving elevated bar fare are the cat's pajamas right about now, but The Toucan and the Lion gives it a twist with Asian flavors.  Anne, Jen, and I decided to get three items and split.  Thankfully, the waiter advised that the "appetizers" are more like large tapas dishes so we would be wise to share.  

The first dish to arrive was the espresso glazed pork ribs with pumpkin seed brittle.  It was lip-smackingly sweet with a slight smokiness and had plenty of meat that pulled right off the bone.  A great start but not as exciting as what was coming next: my first scotch eggs.  Soft boiled eggs were wrapped with duck sausage, deep fried, and served with a kafir lime aioli.  I've been reading about scotch eggs lately and they just sound like a fun food.  Think about it: eggs with a slightly creamy center (arguably the best part of the egg) get a nice jacket of sausage (from a duck, no less) and then the whole thing is dunked in a fryer.  And then you get to dip it in a sauce.  So many textures!  So many naughty ingredients!  See, you're having fun just reading about it.  I enjoyed it just as much as I hoped, which made it the perfect opening act for the final dish: the burger. 

This was the most unique burger I've ever had.  Yea, I went there.  And it's not just that they threw a bunch of cool sounding, rando ingredients together - it actually worked.  First you have a nice juicy patty where they seemed to have slipped in something with a little kick.  Sriracha, maybe?  Not sure what it was but happy it was there because slapped on both sides of the bun was sweet cashew butter.  Cashews are a creamier nut, so you can imagine how smooth it gets when turned into butter.  Spicy and sweet can't have all the fun so here comes salty, crispy, thick cut bacon.  Topping it all off was the bun, which was actually the same dough from pork buns just in burger bun form and toasted.  It was light, sweet, and squishy.  This interesting lil sucker was served with one of my favorite sides, fried pickles (in spear form, not discs) that had been pickled in something with a little spice and were served with aioli.  If you haven't pulled out your phone to call for a reservation by this point, you must be a vegetarian.

This restaurant has been on Matt's list as long as it's been on mine and I know he was hurt I didn't go with him first.  All part of my master plan to go twice in a very short span of time.  Mwahaha!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Las Ramblas

Tapas tends to add up, which is why I was shocked that our bill at Las Ramblas was startlingly cheap.  Five of us went to this tiny West Village spot to celebrate Beth's birthday and even though we paid for Beth's portion of the tab (which included six dishes and a pitcher of sangria) it only came to $15/person (plus tip).

The first dish to come out was the tortilla espanola, what they call an omelette with aioli.  It was like a giant slice of layered potato cake - a gratin held together with egg instead of cheese.  Based on the description, this is something I have always overlooked on Spanish tapas menus so I'm glad one of the girls made the executive decision to order it for the table.  It was my favorite for the evening and I will definitely gravitate towards it on future tapas outings.  My second favorite dish was the shrimp in a white wine and garlic sauce.  The shrimp were fine, but I would have just ordered the sauce for bread sopping.  The patatas bravas were wonderful as always.  I'm not sure why people forget to order this at Spanish restaurants.  Perhaps it is because it is often listed under sides instead of with the other dishes, but the pimenton aioli that is always drizzled on top makes these potatoes anything but ordinary.  Calamari is a crowd pleaser, and these were not overly breaded, though they didn't stand out.  The chicken empanada was good but not as special as the other dishes.  Finally, we ordered a spinach dish that was basically the cheesiest creamed spinach I've ever had...which means it was some of the best.

It's rare to get out so cheap at a tapas place.  Rarer still to manage such a feat in the West Village.  Las Ramblas may not be as good as someplace like Boqueria, but the deal factor makes it zoom several spots up on the tapas list.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

3 on Thursday

I am so thankful my company usually gives us two days off for all holidays when most people are lucky to get one.  After going crazy in Vegas, it was nice to have a two-day week (where, let's face it, I was barely functioning thanks to my wild bachelorette adventures) followed by a relaxing five-day weekend.  Sure, I went out several times, but the weekend was long enough that I was able to do so and still have enough time to fully relax so I could be nice and rested for the start of my first full work week in a while.

I usually go home over the 4th of July so this year was my first Macy's/New York fireworks experience (I saw Brooklyn ones last year).  Since the fireworks are launched over the Hudson, I went to Hoboken so I could watch with Steph, Gav, and the Jersey crew.  From their building's park area we had a perfect view of the spectacle.  There are actually four identical displays that are timed to go off in unison down the river.  It was beautiful and I was just as awestruck at 27 as I was at 7.
The best thing about my new apartment has to be the roof.  It is equipped with landscaping, a view of the Manhattan skyline (including the Empire State Building), lounge chairs for sunbathing, umbrella'd tables for dining al fresco, a shower so you can cool off after a taxing lay out session, and a summer kitchen with a refrigerator.  I spent all Friday afternoon laying out with a good book and finally building the tan I've been working toward all Summer.  It's a great place to relax on my own, but I can't wit to entertain up there!  I picutre myself spending every weekend on that roof.  There are worse things, I imagine.  

I'm loving my next door bagel place, Daniel's Bagels.  Like any good old school New York place, the line is sorta Soup Nazi style, but I'm at the point where I know what I like and can order like a pro (though I was terrified at first).  An egg and cheese on a toasted, scooped sourdough bagel with an ice coffee was a great way to start my Sunday and end my long, relaxing weekend.  

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cafe de la Esquina

I've never been to La Esquina, but I am now one step closer having been to Cafe de la Esquina.  It may not be in Manhattan, but a quick subway ride to Williamsburg affords you a restaurant in a cool old school dining car (a hipster's take on the 50s) and a big outdoor area with lights strung through the tree branches.  It's true: a tree does grow in Brooklyn.

The weather was perfect for margaritas outside so Matt, Jen, and I sipped away while Avery washed her hair with a lime wedge.  She ended up with a great "There's Something About Mary" look that attracted all the waiters' attention.  After our drinks, we decided to order a few tacos to share.  We tried the grilled fish with chipotle mayo and salsa (you'd be a fool if you didn't use the plate's garnish of pickled red onion on this one), the steak with onions, and the carnitas.  All were good but I may have liked the fish the best, followed by the carnitas.

The tacos were only about $4 and came two per order.  Even better, our happy hour margaritas were only $5 apiece which makes this meal a steal and a half.  Basically, you're getting the same amazing La Esquina food but with a gorgeous outdoor area where you can stretch your legs.  And we all know margaritas taste better when you can lounge while you drink.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Book Review: Defending Jacob

Whether innocent or guilty, 14-year-old Jacob is a powerfully disturbed boy, something his parents grapple with understanding as they undergo his trial for murder of a classmate.  As details of the murder emerge, Jacob's parents (and the reader) wrestle with the distressing possible reality that their child may have done something heinous.

Jacob's father Andy is the Assistant DA in their wealthy Boston suburb, giving him insiders knowledge of how the system works.  However, his know-how may not be enough to help Jacob when there may be more powerful, genetic factors at play.  

In Defending Jacob, author William Landay examines just how far a parent's love can stretch.  He does so with sufficient plot twists to keep you on edge, reminiscent of a Jodi Picoult novel but without the cheesy romance aspect she always seems to add.

4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Sausage and Sprouts

I've only made one sliced brussels sprout dish (probably because I'm lazy and didn't want to take the time to slice them), but I wanted to try the slaw style sprouts again so I concocted something new.  Thankfully, I found a bag of pre-sliced brussels sprouts at Trader Joe's so I had no excuse not to cook them.  Surprise surprise, Trader Joe comes to the rescue again.

I sauteed the sprouts with olive oil, garlic, shallots, and sliced jalapeno chicken sausage.  Without roasting them for 45 minutes, the sprouts didn't have time to get soft and caramelized.  Instead, they were crunchy with a stronger cabbage flavor.  Though that flavor can be overpowering, the spice of the sausage and sweetness of the shallots tamed it.

It may have been a simple dish, but I don't usually cook with sliced brussels sprouts and chicken sausage.  The new ingredients invigorated my routine and it couldn't have been easier.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Tomato Salad

I think of tomatoes as a salad topping, not the salad itself.  In fact, it's the salad topping I usually leave off.  However, when I saw a picture of tomatoes robed in creamy buttermilk dressing, I thought it was worth trying out tomatoes as the salad star.

I found some gorgeous heirloom cherry tomatoes that I thought would be perfect not only because of the taste but because of the varied colors.  I halved the tomatoes and tossed them with salt and pepper so they'd be ready for the dressing.  In a separate bowl, I whisked 2/3 cup of buttermilk, 1/4 cup greek yogurt, chopped basil, minced shallots, and minced garlic.

Because the tomatoes were halved, the dressing filled all their crevices (instead of sliding right off).  We  already know tomatoes and basil are a match made in heaven, but buttermilk is no enemy to the tomato.  I thought buttermilk dressing would be too heavy for a summer dish, but the dressing is thin so it doesn't overpower the salad.  The greek yogurt makes it slightly tangy and the garlic gives a little kick to let the sweet tomatoes know there's more than one ingredient in this salad.

Trust me, you don't need lettuce to call it a salad.  This is a true Summer dish that needs to make it's way to your table.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

3 on Thursday

Steph's bachelorette party was a full weekend of ridiculousness.  And with that, let's begin the Vegas edition of 3 on Thursday.
Pool parties are "the thing" in Vegas.  No tote bags, flip flops, or beach reads here - this is all about dressing to impress and dancing up a storm.  Everyone carries clutches and wears super cute coverups with wedges.  We were lucky enough to have some pretty sweet hookups wherever we went and got to enjoy these parties from the comfort of fancy cabanas.  At the Encore Beach Club party, our table was situated right next to the dj booth where Will.I.Am was spinning.  The whole scene was almost more clubby than a club and could only happen in Vegas.  

When I realized there was an In-n-Out in Vegas, I made sure to pick up a combo on my way to the airport.  Since I can't get In-n-Out on the East Coast, I went all out and got a double double animal style with animal style fries.  Yummm

I didn't do much gambling while in Vegas (sorry, I was too busy partying) but I just had to snap a pic of the slots.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

China Poblano

Chinese and Mexican?  Not exactly two cuisines that pop to the forefront of your mind as complementary.  But if famed chef Jose Andres is behind it, it can't be bad.  Before round two of the bachelorette festivities, a couple of us went to the China Poblano restaurant in our hotel.  The decor was  relaxed with wood paneling and bicycle spokes hanging from the ceiling.  I was a little worried how these two types of food would come together, but it turned out to be a seamless integration of flavors.

This smooth combination was best exhibited in the cocktail that Courtney and I shared, the cold tea.  Green tea was mixed with tequila and beer.  It was quite refreshing and tasted more like a punch that wasn't overly sweet.  Next up we got the palmitos (heart of palm salad with avocado, radishes, and a tamarind dressing).  The fact that these hearts of palm were fresh, not canned, made a huge difference.  The matchstick cut (instead of slicing) also seemed to affect the flavor.  Unfortunately, I didn't take any other pictures, but we also ordered two types of dumplings (scallop and shrimp/pork belly) that were more traditional takes on dim sum.  The fusion continued with huitlacoche noodles which I preferred more in concept than execution.  There was a little too much vinegar for me to fully enjoy the dish.  Redemption came in the form of guacamole with a nice dusting of queso fresco.  Traditional but well done.  Finally, we ordered the beef lettuce wraps that were made with a nice ginger soy sauce and crispy rice noodles.

I wish I had better documented all of our food experiences in Vegas because it is truly an eating extravaganza.  East and West Coast chefs converge in Sin City so we can enjoy high quality food all up and down the strip.  China Poblano came in right at the middle price-wise but didn't seem to skimp on fusion or flavor.  The food is served in smaller, tapas style portions, making it perfect for sharing which is, in turn, perfect for a big group of girls on a bachelorette party.  

Monday, July 2, 2012

Book Review: The Innocents

I've never read The Age of Innocence, so I can't really make any comparisons of Francesca Segal's updated version, The Innocents, to the original.  However, I can tell you that I enjoyed the modern take on the classic.  This version moves the setting from New York to Northwest London and instead of focusing on the hoity toity Manhattan elite, this one examines the area's tightly woven Jewish community.

Adam has been dating Rachel for 13 years and they are finally ready to tie the knot.  Though he is sure he is moving along the path he always wanted, he begins to wonder if that's only because it is all he has ever known.  His doubts take root upon the arrival of Rachel's scandal-ridden cousin from America, Ellie.  Ellie is damaged and Adam feels compelled to take care of her.  He is torn between abandoning the comfort of his predetermined life and the more exciting potential with Ellie.

Though secular, the Jewish culture is woven into every aspect of the central characters' lives.  They may not be religious, but all their friends are Jewish, Yiddush is slipped into everyday conversation, and most social events are tied to some sort of Jewish tradition.  (Seems pretty spot on from my limited experience.)  When in print, it makes them seem very Jewish and almost unrelatable, but once you realize there is little actual religion involved, it's just a new type of bubble that so many of us are fixed in.

Keep in mind it's not just one character who sheds their innocence by the end of this novel.  It's slightly sad to see it disappear, but that's what growing up is all about.    

3.5 out of 5 stars.


Related Posts with Thumbnails