Search This Blog

Thursday, August 29, 2013

3 on Thursday

After today, no work til Tuesday!  I only have one set activity for the long weekend: FOOTBALL.  I can't wait to hang out with my fellow NYC Dawgs as we cheer on UGA at our brand new bar.  FYI, the background pic for today's "3 on Thursday" is the ceiling treatment at the Gramercy Park Hotel rooftop.  Hundreds of dim light bulbs hang about a foot from the ceiling, tightly packed.  The resulting effect is pretty glam.
  1. Thanks to exact opposite travel schedules, it took a whole three months before I was able to check out Steph and Gav's new apartment.  Chez Boo Bear is amazing.  A first home purchase is a major deal and I am so happy for them. Of course, we had to celebrate with some bubbly - Veuve, natch.
  2. I adore this sign at Murray's Cheese shop.  This is how love should be.
  3. Last Friday was spent in Central Park with friends as we watched a childhood favorite, Hook.  I'm almost positive our picnic spread was better than everybody else's, especially since we brought wine in a box.  

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Fig Butter Grilled Cheese

I bought fig butter for a recipe recently and had half a jar leftover.  I didn't want to waste it so I worked to find a recipe that incorporated it.  This may come as a surprise, but fig butter is not one of my go to ingredients.  It is by no means a typical condiment so I actually had to put some thought into coming up with a recipe that incorporated it.  Not only did I find a solution, I found a great one: grilled cheese.

I realized that figs and jam are common ingredients on a cheese plate and fig butter is basically fig jam so we're halfway to a cheese plate already - all that's missing is the cheese.  Minor detail.  Brie goes well with sweet flavors since it's sweet and mild itself.  Goat cheese's tang also works nicely with the sweet stuff since the two ingredients usually temper each other.  I was sitting in the cheese aisle debating which to go with...goat or brie?...goat and brie?  Using two cheeses seemed excessive so I really wanted to stick to one.  Actually, excessive is not the right word because when it comes to cheese, more is always better.  Two cheeses, however, would just take more time to cut, more room in the fridge, and more dollars from my wallet.  I wanted to just pick one good one.

The answer came to me in the form of a goat's milk brie.  Still tangy from the goat's milk but with all the smooth and mellow features of brie.  Both sides of the sandwich were smeared with fig butter and then the goat's milk brie went in the middle.  I used sourdough because I like it so don't push me for any additional rationale.  I knew it would taste good and I was right.  That's all you need to know.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Mushroom Rosemary Polenta with Gouda

My first experience cooking polenta started out a little scary but it only took me a few minutes to pull it together and make a simple and satisfying Italian dish.  The sweat started bubbling on my brow within 30 seconds of the cooking process.  No no, girls don't sweat; they glow.  The glow took over my forehead the second the polenta hit the pan.  You see, I had bought one of those polenta logs that are popping up in grocery stores in an attempt to make our lives easier.  The polenta inside is pre-cooked so you just need to slice and heat...except I missed the slice part in the instructions.  I thought I could just dump it in a pan and it would become that creamy mass of yummy goop you get in restaurants instead of the fried polenta cakes these logs produce.  Those cakes are good, just not what I wanted for this recipe.

Turns out the fix was easy.  I slowly poured in milk (1% - don't worry this isn't getting crazy fatty) while mashing the polenta until it reached a consistency I was familiar with: the texture of grits.  That's something a good Southern girl knows how to work with.  If I tell myself polenta is just grits with a European accent, they don't seem so scary.  

I added some salt and pepper as well as some grated aged gouda I had leftover from a picnic in the park.  I imagine ricotta and goat cheese would also work well.  While the polenta was coming together I had a second pan going.  This one had sliced cremini mushrooms, rosemary, and olive oil.  Some garlic would be good too...if I had some.  Oh well.  I topped the polenta with the mushrooms and there you have it - a sophisticated Italian side dish.  This is grits gone wild.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Dig Inn

Sometimes you want a healthy, well rounded meal but don't want the hassle of cooking.  Having each of the main categories (meat, starch, and vegetable) represented on the plate is what signifies supper to me, but sometimes I just don't have the energy to put the whole meal together.  Take out is a great option, but it doesn't usually result in that type of well rounded meal you would make yourself.  When you want clean eating that is a true replacement for a home cooked meal, Dig Inn is a great resource.

If you're looking for healthy, this is the place.  They try to go local as often as possible and nothing is processed.  They change the menu up seasonally, but you can usually expect the following:

  1. Start with a base of either fresh, raw spinach or un-fried veggie rice
  2. Add a protein: I went with the shredded lemon chicken (yum), but they also have beef, meatballs, salmon salad, turkey, and tofu
  3. Add three sides: these get updated based on time of year.  I went with a whole grain summer pasta salad, broccoli with quinoa, and my top pick, waldorf slaw (cabbage with blue cheese and apple).
It's definitely clean eating, but you don't really feel like you're sacrificing flavor.  Not that there's anything wrong with turning to greasy Chinese or heavy burgers when you don't feel like cooking; but when you're in the mood to eat something that wouldn't make your mother cringe, this is a great option.

Sorry, no pics...oops.

Friday, August 23, 2013

10th and Willow

After checking out Steph and Gav's new, very grown up condo we decided to stay in the neighborhood for brunch and walked to nearby 10th and Willow.  The moment they brought out the mini muffins I was happy.  They basically made funfetti butter by mixing in sprinkles and chocolate chips.  This is a fiver year old's dream.  How great would that be as it melts on top of pancakes or waffles?  Why are mothers all over the world not doing this for their kids?  I'm sure the answer is because it's not healthy.  Phooey.  Give your kids a little fun butter for breakfast and just make them eat broccoli with supper later.  While we're at it, give adults fun butter for breakfast.  I promise to eat all my vegetables at suppertime.

For my entree I ordered a huge breakfast burrito and added avocado.  It was just as I expected.  Standard, but ain't nothin wrong with that.  I would have gotten very upset if they had messed up a breakfast burrito.

Key takeaway: funfetti butter is the condiment of the future.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

3 on Thursday

I loved my lazy weekend and excited to embark on another one tomorrow night.  I was plenty social, but most of that was kept to daytime (à la boozy brunch) so I had my nights all to myself and my books.  I hope you like the new collage format for "3 on Thursday" - check out today's #3 for the deets!

  1. One of my favorite moments in DC was seeing Liz experience the city as a tourist.  Even after three years she loves going sightseeing.
  2. I can't handle this billboard.  I can't imagine how they got a .org URL for Squirt.  Stumbling across gems like this is reason enough for me to stroll around the less familiar [to me] and more liberal West Village. 
  3. I am loving Moldiv, the new photo editor app I recently discovered.  It's like Over (which I now wish I hadn't paid for) and Pic Stitch combined...except better.  The collage above is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what can be done on this app.  I can't wait to play around!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Here's another one to add to your drunk brunch list, folks: Agave.  $25 gets you an entree plus bottomless mimosas, wine, or frozen margaritas.  Bazinga!

I ordered the Southwestern eggs benedict and thought it was a great twist on the traditional.  The English muffins were topped with firm tomato, avocado slices, poached egg, and a chipotle hollandaise sauce.  It's not spicy (I actually added some hot sauce to mine), but it was a nice switch up to the regular eggs benny.  Avocado is a nice switch up to any dish.  Basically, if you ever want to make people fall in love with a normal boring dish, just add avocado to it.  Everyone cleaned their plate - and not just because their taste buds were masked by the ever-flowing booze; the food was just tasty.  The flavors aren't hardcore Southwestern so even pickier palates will find plenty on the menu to enjoy.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Book Review: The Interestings

Youthful friendships are a tricky thing.  Sometimes the bonds are formed before the personalities fully develop.  But when the friendships are made during the peak of adolescence, they are often nearly impossible to break - these are the only friends who can understand what it's like in those moments when you are just discovering what the world has to offer.  Julie Jacobson was a gawky teen when she entered Spirit-in-the-Woods summer camp, but by the time the summer was over she is the confident, funny Jules thanks to being allowed into the inner circle of campers, The Interestings.

From an outsider's perspective Jules should have grown out of her friendships with Ash and Ethan who are both richer than rich vs. her ramen noodle budget.  And their lives have all taken a different turn from that of Jonah who has come out as a homosexual, joined and then returned from a cult, and now leads a quiet life developing robotics.  But something about that summer sealed these friends together and countless hurdles have done nothing to tear them apart.

I often wonder if I would still click with some of my friends if I had met them now instead of in childhood.  In some cases, the answer is probably no.  But Meg Wolitzer's novel reaffirms that it doesn't really matter why people are friends, only that they tightly guard the friendship once they have it.  If we only kept around the friends we made when we were older, I'm sure we would be far less interesting.

3 out of 5 stars.


Monday, August 19, 2013

Mayhem and Stout

The name sounds so rock and roll but it's fitting because this sandwich shop serves braised meat with an attitude.  Mayhem and Stout started as a stall at NYC flea markets and just opened their first brick and mortar location on Friday - a convenient one block walk from my apartment.  Since it's so close I had no excuse not to be there on opening night.  I had never sampled their food at the markets, but by the looks of the line, plenty of New Yorkers had.

Without too much time to mull over the options, I ordered two of their popular combinations instead of designing my own sandwich.  The short rib and brisket sandwich with blueberry sriracha and pickled onions was not as crazy as it sounds.  The pickling made the mound of onions less bitter and the meat just melted when it hit my mouth.  I can only imagine how long the meat had to simmer to render chewing unnecessary.  I also tried the braised pork shoulder with black cherry mustard and roasted kale.  The kale and black cherry gave it a bit of a sour/bitter thing - in a good way.  I'm not really explaining that well.  The short rib and brisket was my preferred sandwich, however, just because the meat had so much flavor.  It may seem insignificant, but I must mention the pickles.  Clearly homemade and with just the right amount of garlic and spices.  Nice and crispy.

So many sandwich combos to try - and don't think I'm not going to try them ALL.  Yayyyy for new amazing food in Murray Hill!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Rare Rooftop

Whether you're on the East Side or West Side, Rare has a rooftop for you.  The music may have been a little loud for 5 PM on a Thursday afternoon, but I suppose people are ready to party when the end of the work week is near and the weather is beautiful.  The view at both locations is spectacular, but if you want to see it, you'll need to plan for it a little bit.  It's nice that they don't overpack the roof with people, but with a limited supply of rooftop bars the line forms quickly and can easy reach an hour wait time.  Here's my suggestion: go for dinner.  The fries are great and the burgers are huge - certainly a meal you'll be satisfied with.  Once you're finished, you can usually skip the line to go up to the roof.  You needed to eat anyway and now you get the bonus of following supper with a view of the Manhattan skyline that's better than dessert.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

3 on Thursday

I was supposed to go out of town this weekend but my mini trip was cancelled.  Does this change of plans upset me?  Not in the slightest.  After a trip to DC last weekend and visitors the weekend before, I am looking forward to a more relaxing three nights in my apartment.
I am NOT an animal print person.  It's just not my thing.  It feels gaudy to me and just doesn't fit into my typical style.  Every once in a while, however, it's nice to try something new, especially when there is no risk involved.  Since I didn't have to pay, a work event seemed the perfect opportunity to step out of my comfort zone.  Also, I love anything C Wonder blesses with their preppy touch so if I was ever going to introduce animal print into my closet, it would be through them.  Pattern choice aside, I desperately needed to replace my work bag since my old one was literally falling apart and this trendy guy at $78 is huge and cheaper than most bags I found whilst searching the web.  Plus, C Wonder monograms everything (as do I) so I got to give my new bag a personal touch.  I'm not saying I'm going to start walking around like a native of the jungle, but I'm pretty happy with my new tote.  
Even though Murray's Cheese is my favorite place ever, I had not yet tried their Cheese Bar - a restaurant next to their newly expanded West Village shop devoted to foods made with cheese.  While plotting our next move one weekend, we slipped inside for a quick glass of wine.  I should have known a visit to a cheese palace like this wouldn't end with a glass of wine and it took all of two minutes before an order had been placed for a meat and cheese board.  We went with the 5-piece Cheesemonger's Choice.  You can request all meats, all cheeses, or a mixture.  We decided on four cheeses and one meat (prosciutto).  The best part was that the waiter actually talked to us about what we wanted to see on our plate.  Usually a cheese plate is a more generic, pre-selected package with simpler cheeses like a basic brie.  I recalled a specific cheese I had seen in one of my Murray's emails (yes, I receive the emails) and he said there would be no problem putting that on there.  We then requested the spread have a mix of textures ranging from double cream to semi firm and include a stinky blue.  Our waiter was a great listener and produced just that.  Instead of having the accoutrements like jams haphazzardly sprinkled around the plate, each cheese was specifically paired with something.  A double cream from my home state of Georgia went with pickled raisins while a sheeps milk gouda was meant to be eaten with caramel.
It's always great to participate in a happy hour with my alumni group, the NYC Dawgs, but even better when it's tied to a good cause.  Last week we met up at the beautiful Beekman Beer Garden and all attendees brought along items for Operation Backpack, which provides school supplies to New York's homeless children.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


When someone says Stonestreet, I'm sure you immediately think of happy hour swamped by banking guys in suits letting off some steam. On a typical weeknight you would be right, but I think it's worth giving Stonestreet a chance on the weekend, too. Sure, FiDi is significantly quieter when the market is closed and all those banking types flee to their uptown digs, but bottomless brunch is enough to bring me back down to the bottom of the island. The portions will fill you up and this particular spot of the financial district is one of the few places in NYC that still has cobblestones, which makes for a pretty atmosphere when it's warm enough to drink your mimosas outside.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


After a big night out on Saturday, Liz and I were looking for a quiet brunch on Sunday.  Eggs Florentine were about as crazy as I planned to get.  Perry's looked like a great Sunday spot to get some brunch food and maybe people watch at the tables outside.  But as we started walking up the stairs to see the hostess we began to notice the inside didn't seem as calm as the outside.  The music was pounding.  The girls were cheering.  We had walked into DRAG BRUNCH.  

For $25 you get a full drag show and an all-you-can-eat buffet.  It was such a random mix of food (california rolls, scrambled eggs with bacon, greek salad, and soup), but I was too concerned with the performing transexuals to really notice.  I recommend a few mimosas to ease you into the wackiness that is drag queens lip synching to Lady Gaga but those are $7 each so count for that in your budget.  I would also budget a handful of ones as the ladies performing like to get a little something extra in exchange for their act.  Drag brunch was a wholly unexpected way to spend a Sunday afternoon but it left me in great spirits for my bus ride back to NYC.
The one on the left is Miss Gigi Paris Couture and she has a great set of knockers.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Julia's Empanada's

After a long bus ride, I was starving by the time I got to DC.  I needed food and I needed it immediately.  Thankfully, Liz lives in the bustling Adam's Morgan area so even though it was 12:30 AM, there was plenty of drunk food to be eaten.  Even completely sober Julia's Empandas were delicious.  I couldn't decide which to try so I ordered two: the Jamaican (Liz's recommendation) and the chorizo (which became my favorite with its curry seasoning).  You really only need one to fill you up since they are larger than typical empanadas so two put me over the edge but I didn't care.  They weren't too doughy and they were each filled with enough meat that the dough threatened to tear under the pressure.  One could definitely serve as a full meal for $3.59.  I only regret not trying one of the fruit filled ones.  I guess I'll just have to schedule another trip to DC.  Bummer.

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Whitefish Challenge

You're wrong if you think the whitefish challenge of this post's title means a competition to eat the most whitefish in the least amount of time.  I don't know if that would excite you or gross you out but either way that's not what it refers to.  The whitefish challenge is something my brother, sister-in-law, and I dreamed up back in October when they were here for their last visit.  They had recently discovered the bagel topper and though I was thoroughly disgusted by its name alone, they convinced me to try it and I found it was not so bad.  Though they are both Ess-a-Bagel devotees, they thought the whitefish from the random bagel place below my apartment was better.  That got us thinking: if a no-name guy was better than one of New York's most famous places, there could be some major whitefish salad competitors out there.  We decided to try them all and crown one of them king.

10 months we've been talking about this and it finally happened.  In that lag time between visits, I spent my time researching.  I looked at all the blogs and reviews I could find to determine who could score themselves entrée into our little taste-off.  The final three were Daniel's Bagels (the place by my apartment that we already knew was great), Zucker's Bagels (famous for their smoked fish in Tribeca and happened to have just opened their second location near my apartment a couple months ago), and finally Russ and Daughters (known to be the premier source of NYC's "appetizing" for years...not that I knew appetizing was anything other than an adjective until recently).  We left at 11:30 to grab all the ingredients, picking up bagels from Ess-a so they would all be on an even playing field.  It's a good thing we were committed to this project because that's the only way we could have spent the two hours it took collecting everything and then finding a park bench to commence the judging process.  We spent a lot of time discussing each one because as my brother put it: "If you're gonna spend two hours getting this stuff ready, you better analyze the fuck out of it."  Here's how it played out:

  1. Daniel's: by far the creamiest.  They must add some sort of cream cheese or sour cream to it.  Also the saltiest, which, to me, makes it seem a bit fishier.  
  2. Zucker's: middle of the road creamy.  Had a very smoky flavor vs. Daniel's' salt-cured.
  3. Russ and Daughters: Not creamy but pureed very fine for a smooth texture.  Includes smoked salmon for a different flavor.  Most bland in flavor but points for being in the LES and maintaining the neighborhoods Jewish roots.
If we're talking about just fish, we all agreed we would rank as above.  Allison in particular was a major Daniel's fan.  But then we started playing around and discovered some great pairing that changed the game.  Mark mixed the Daniel's and Zucker's whitefish and thought that was the holy grail.  It had the creamy texture we wanted with the smoked flavor we liked.  I loved putting whitefish row on top of the Russ and Daughters version.  Since they are now located near each other, this would not be a difficult thing to do.  The caviar and bagel sandwiches are what Russ and Daughters is famous for so it made sense that the caviar would take the seemingly boring whitefish salad to a whole new level.  It bumped it up to #2, maybe #1 in my book.

So there you have it.  The Konter sibs have done all the research so you don't have to.  Now you know exactly where to go when you're serving brunch to a bunch of hungry New Yorkers.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

3 on Thursday

I'm excited to be sandwiched between two great weekends.  I am fresh off a visit from Mark and Allison and leaving tomorrow for DC to visit Sliz.  Obviously I'm most excited to have some quality time with my college bestie but this trip is also exciting because I'll get to see what it's like to travel with my new iPad.  Bus trips and plane rides are pretty much what the device was made for so I look forward to seeing what it can do.
While walking in the West Village I saw a cute little book shop so adorably named bookbook.  It's like The Shop Around The Corner from "You've Got Mail," only the internet hasn't put it out of business.  I usually don't allow myself to go into book stores because I'm a Barnes and Noble member so it doesn't make sense to buy elsewhere, but the smell of a book store is too intoxicating that it's impossible to walk out empty handed - better to just not go in at all.  But this time I just couldn't resist.  It's a small shop, but they have all the best sellers as well as some lesser known NYC themed titles and the prices - on brand new books, mind you - were unbeatable.  I bought three books for myself plus two more for my nieces (that doesn't count - they're gifts).  I didn't want Barnes and Noble to think I was cheating on them so I went home and ordered three more from them to even the score.  The first step to getting better is admitting you have a problem.
I tried some new vendors at Smorgasburg while my Mom was here and found some goodies.  I had never really heard much anything about Bolivian cuisine but apparently they make these things called salteñas which are like empanadas but with sweeter dough and filled with stew instead of just meat.  It was absolutely delicious.  This stew pie from Bolivian Llama Party may have been the favorite of the day.  We also tried great fish and chips from Handsome Hank's Fish Hut.  My mom kept asking which one was Handsome Hank - they didn't mind; they loved mugging for a photo.  Fun service aside, the portion was massive, they battered and fried each filet to order, and they get bonus points for using some sort of mustard in their tartar sauce - not traditional but best tartar sauce I think I've ever had.
For months, I have stopped to admire the window of a small florist right by my apartment.  I envision their centerpieces at my fictional wedding and even told my Mom that if I ever did get engaged I would start taking pictures of my favorites and having the florist in Savannah replicate.  Last week, I told her I wanted to take it a step further and start a tumblr showcasing their floral art because these masterpieces should not be limited to my own fake-wedding dreams.  These flowers are too beautiful to be enjoyed only by those who live near 37th and 3rd.  So please check out Blooms on Third to get your floral fill.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Fig, Mustard, and Pear Champagne Glazed Chicken

Fig butter, dijon/grain mustard, and pear champagne vinaigrette are mixed together in a 1:1:2 ratio and poured over chicken.  If we're getting technical, 2/3 of the mixture goes over the chicken, then it bakes at 350 for 30 minutes until it's time to flip over, cover with remaining sauce, and bake for another hour and a half.  That's if you're using a whole chicken with all the skin and bones.  Obviously, it'll taste better that way - skin makes it all juicy and delicious.  It also makes it less healthy.  Sure, I could peel away the skin, but then the sauce goes with it and that's no fun.  Instead, I used the boring chicken and comforted myself with the fact that it takes less time to cook.  Like a half hour less.  

Those three ingredients for the sauce seem very specific, but I'm sure you can find substitutes for the vinaigrette and maybe even the fruit butter. I got the recipe from the Trader Joe's website so I knew I would be able to find everything there. If you don't have a Trader Joe's - get creative. The point is to have some sort of fruit, a mustard to cut the sugar, and a vinaigrette to add acidity and make it saucy. Or if you don't have a Trader Joe's just wait a day or two when I'm sure I'll post a recipe that uses all ingredients from a regular grocery store. 

This chicken is nice and sweet so I imagine it would be good paired with something extra savory like garlic mashed potatoes. The sauce is just thick enough to hold onto the chicken but thin enough that you can spoon on as much or as little as you want. It takes about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes to cook but only about 1.5 minutes are "active" when you're mixing the sauce together. That's a compromise I can live with. 


I waited patiently for Hendrick's to open in a space that had remained vacant for the full year since I moved into my apartment.  It was right downstairs from my place and as it started coming together, it looked promising.  The painted brick, white marble bar, and glazed wood floors signified a spot that could attract a less rowdy Murray Hill crowd that seeks out quality neighborhood spots.  I cupped my hands around my eyes and peered in the window daily while it was under construction, awaiting the moment I could try out my new local spot.  And then it opened...and I didn't go.  In fact, it took me a full month to get there - almost embarrassing considering it's five steps from my front door.

Now that I've been, I won't take it for granted.  The food is just over budget for a weekly spot, but I could easily see myself stopping in ever three or four weeks.  Since we were looking for a lighter meal, Albert and I split the seafood tower and lamb meatballs.  Though you obviously get less, I was very happy to see a $32 seafood tower on a menu.  I've never seen one for less than $65 and this one could easily serve two.  I am way more prone to order it this way.  My favorite appetizer of the evening was the deviled eggs - served on a bed of extra deviled egg yolk and a streak of pesto.  Allison was very happy with her lobster and avocado salad, served in a large enough portion to justify the $19 price tag (ugh if only lobster wasn't so expensive), and Mark ate all of his porcini ravioli.

The bar needs a little work and I think they would do well to institute a bottomless mimosa brunch deal, but I figured there would still be a kink or two after only being open about four weeks.  Hendrick's fills a desired niche for a not wild but not stuffy place to go for a solid meal in the upper 30s.  It's nice not to be relegated to bar food or Asian.  This is exactly the kind of place I'm looking for when I want a well rounded meal, maybe for a date night or low key catch up sesh with a girlfriend.


Monday, August 5, 2013

Pig and Khao

My brother set the bar extraordinarily high before his annual NYC visit.  He told me I needed to find us a restaurant 1) with food he can't get in Savannah (that's not Chinese or Korean), 2) is not in an outer borough, 3) is reasonably priced, 4) would knock his socks off.  They said it couldn't be done, but that's just the kind of challenge I live for so I made it happen.

I was able to satisfy every requirement on my brother's list with Pig and Khao.  Located in the Lower East Side, Pig and Khao serves Thai and Filipino influenced cuisine that is incredibly inventive for a price that is more than simple.  By simple, I mean low.  The dishes labeled as small plates may seem expensive at around $13-$15, but they are not typical tapas size as we expected.  We ordered four of them along with an order or two of coconut rice (a mere $3) for five people and it was plenty of food.  We also ordered two drinks a person and our total bill came to $150.  Food and alcohol for 5 people for that price is a pretty good deal, but not as ridiculous of a deal as the $15 bottomless PBR, done self-serve style in the back patio area.

So I made good on the price condition but the real concern was getting my brother and sister in law unique food.  I did even better in this category.  We ate pork head served with a slippery, saucy egg.  It was fatty, sweet, and salty.  Definitely can't get pork head in Savannah - it's not like it's on tons of menus in New York either.  It was gone moments after it was placed on the table.  We debated getting another order immediately but decided to wait until after we tried the other dishes that were on their way from the kitchen.  It's a good thing we did because the following dishes were also spectacular.  The pork jowl was served with cilantro, mint, watermelon, and chicharron.  When all elements were eaten together the sweet and cool watermelon did something with the spicy pork jowl that got me all sorts of confused and excited.  I know it sounds like a lot of pork, but you haven't even heard about the pork belly yet.  It was served with a poached egg in a salty broth that didn't mushify the crispy skin.  Finally, we ordered the curry fried chicken special that was served with a pickled watermelon rind salad.  The sauce was sweet and unlike the curry flavor I was expecting and the skin was crispy enough to satisfy our whole table of Southerners.

Don't go to Pig and Khao because you heard a former Top Chef contestant is running the kitchen.  Don't even go because you read the 2-star review in the New York Times.  Go because I'm telling you the food is exciting and non-traditional, the price is right, and though they have great $11 cocktails on the menu, they're not above kegs and beers in cans.

String lights, solo cups, and a keg on the patio...just like college...

Friday, August 2, 2013

Sausage Lasagna with Smoked Mozzarella

I wouldn't have known Monday was National Lasagna Day if Albert had not pointed it out to me.  Thankfully, lasagna is an easy dish to throw together so I didn't need much advanced notice to celebrate.  But boring, standard lasagna doesn't really say "celebration" so I wanted to update the recipe - something that's easy to do if you take a shortcut with jarred sauce and make a few fresh tweaks with the other ingredients:

First, instead of ground beef, I removed fresh sausage links from the casing, crumbled them, and browned them in a pan.  I used a one to one ratio of hot and sweet Italian sausage but that came out pretty spicy so you may want to use more sweet than hot if your palate prefers the mild.  Once it was cooked, I added some of that jarred sauce to the pan to heat through and then used some of the meat mixture as the first layer in my lasagna pan.  Next comes a layer of noodles, followed by fresh ricotta that I mixed with shredded mozzarella (whatever cheap bag you find in the refrigerator aisle) and torn basil (fresh herbs add so much great flavor).  I repeated each layer a few times until the ingredients were used up and then topped with the whole thing with slices of smoked mozzarella.  It went into the oven at 350 til it was nice and bubbly (about 30 minutes).

Italian sausage makes for an entirely different tasting lasagna.  I could taste all the fennel seeds and hot pepper that went into their preparation.  The smoked mozzarella makes a huge difference.  The flavor seeps through the whole dish and really makes it stand out from other lasagnas out there.  One bite and everyone will know it's homemade - in the good way, not in the nobody-wants-to-eat-the-weird-cupcakes-at-the-bake-sale way.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

3 on Thursday

What makes me happier than reminiscing about the great time I had when my Mom was here two weeks ago?  Nada.  Here are a few more highlights from our weekend:
Two weeks ago we had a crazy heat wave but, being New Yorkers, didn't have the luxury of getting into an air conditioned car when traveling around the city.  At some point, for your own sanity, you need to stop complaining and start laughing about it.  This sign outside a Greenwich Village bar got me to do just that.

My Mom and I were lucky enough to score free tickets to Book of Mormon while she was here and - yup - it was just as funny and awesome as everyone says.  If you live here in NYC, I recommend standing in line for the lottery every weekend til your name is picked. 

While walking around the West Village with my Mom and Albert, we stumbled upon Sockerbit, a Swedish candy store that - believe it or not - does not carry Swedish Fish (something about the dye on the real imported ones not being FDA approved - yikes).  It's exactly what you would think of a Swedish store - sparse, all white, and modern.  The candies are mostly of the gummy and marshmallow variety but far more whimsical than what we see here in the US, as you can see with the marshmallow mushrooms pictured above.   


Related Posts with Thumbnails