Tuesday, June 30, 2009

fancy fast food

Just found this site, fancyfastfood.com, and I've got to say it's a pretty great way to kill some time. They turn fast food into haute-looking cuisine and at the moment, I'm considering this pretty genius. Enjoy.

gus and gabriel's gastropub

Photo courtesy of Eater.com
Michael Psilakis's newest phenomenon is opening tonight in the space that previously housed Kefi. Gus & Gabriel's Gastropub will feature classic, affordable bar food à la the man, the myth, the legend, Chef Psilakis himself. Sadly (but somewhat understandably) it will be cash only and reservations are not accepted. But since that's the only "downside" I see this place facing, they can go ahead and consider themselves extremely lucky. Yet luck has nothing to do with the food that Psilakis is known to deliver, genius is more like it, so we look forward to trying. Oh, and also? The menu's price point peaks at $13.95 so once again, hats off to one of my favorite chefs in town.

Gus & Gabriel's Gastropub
222 W.79th St., nr. Broadway
Menu found here.

Monday, June 29, 2009

monday meal planning

Alright so I'm a little underwhelmed with this week's menu planning and for that, I apologize. I'm going super light this week (to make up for last weekend and in anticipation of the 4th) and going to try and use up what I've already got on hand. Honestly, as I glance at my sad looking grocery list, I don't even think it's worth posting. It's that meek!

Avocado, grape tomatoes, seltzer, and tuna. Now what on Earth does that say about me?! Lunch this week will be my mayo-less tuna salad on baby greens and dinner will hopefully be bun-less turkey burgers with a salad and the summer salmon cakes with zucchini fennel slaw I mentioned last week.

You know what just came to mind? Black beans with brown rice. And just like that, I'm going to add it to my grocery list.

I seriously bump up the flavor of a can of black beans (rinsed) with a finely diced red bell pepper, red onion, garlic galore, some chipotle, and chili powder cooked for about 10 minutes. Cook up a small pot of brown rice, top it with a generous spoonful of the beans and then hit it with tons of fresh cilantro. Light, healthy, meatless, and full of flavor.

summer sun = grilled fish tacos

I am quite possibly the happiest version of me after the sun finally decided to grace us with its presence this weekend. The three of us gals aggressively hopped on the 10:07am Metro North Train on Saturday morning, straight to the Westport stop and booked it to the beach. Casually strewn on our oversized and perfectly sun-bleached tapestry, we could barely contain our glee as the sun baked our solar-deprived bodies. We were so content with our surroundings (and heck, company) until, of course, the topic of food came about. And as the all too familiar storm clouds rolled in late that afternoon, we had decided that grilled fish tacos would be the answer to our hungry stomachs and a decidedly festive way to celebrate the return of real Summer weather.

After a quick run to the market (and a serious one to the liquor store), I arrived back at home with a slew of colorful and vibrant ingredients and some fresh fish to boot. I quickly got started on finely slicing a red cabbage, two mangoes, and half a red onion for a make-shift Summer Slaw dressed with a much lighter vinaigrette than typically found on slaw. Finished off with a few sprigs of fresh cilantro, I impressed myself with this recipe quickly made up on the spot.
Next, I whipped up a chipotle sour cream sauce for the fish tacos: reduced fat sour cream, a tablespoon of mayo, two tablespoons of chipotle in adobo, a grated garlic clove, salt, and a dash of fresh cilantro. A cool and creamy condiment with a kick of smokey goodness.

When guests started to arrive, the salmon went onto the grill along with some ears of corn and few bunches of scallions that were simply dressed in olive oil, salt, and pepper. I put one of my guests to work on the spicy mayo to be lightly brushed onto my version of a Mexican street corn. Mayo, a generous amount of chili powder, lime zest and juice.

When everything came off the grill, it became a DIY fish taco bar, which quite honestly, is a really fun way to serve a meal and come on, makes plating a heck of a lot easier too. Fresh avocado, shredded iceberg lettuce, and cilantro galore finished off the spread. And for a while there, no one was talking. Just shoveling food into their faces and happily sipping on Coronas with lime.
But shortly thereafter, every single calorie consumed was quickly burned off during a two-hour long Michael Jackson tribute/dance party complete with a shrine (courtesy of my mom) which consisted of a white glove, a black and a white votive candle, and a pair of Ray Bans. Yeah. I don't even know. But what I do know? The albums "Off the Wall" and "Bad" are nothing short of epic and will get every single one of your guests off their behinds and on to the..."dance floor."

Friday, June 26, 2009

mooncake foods: dinner for 4

Last night, some gal pals and I hopped, skipped, and jumped on over to Mooncake Foods for a little BYOB, Asian-influenced dinner. And while dinner was served within 60 seconds after placing our orders (for real, y'all) no complaints were heard 'round our table. Grilled steak with a cilantro and ginger sauce for me (steak was literally fork tender), and two orders of lemongrass shrimp and roasted veggies with a Korean chili sauce for the three others. And just to reiterate how great the price point is at this restaurant, everyone's dish was $8.80 and the portions are more than generous. The corkage fee is $7.50 a bottle; a small price to pay when their by the glass is $7.50 a pop anyways. But cost aside, their food is solid. I mean, really solid, really satisfying, and really pretty interesting. The Asian flavors are there but not in a boring, predictable sense. All of the "plates" were served with brown rice and a salad with carrot ginger dressing, allowing you to get a little bit of everything on your fork to create that...yep...perfect bite.

I had never been inside the restaurant, only ordered to-go, but it was pretty charming in a no-frills kind of way. Think upscale diner with dim lights and an exposed kitchen. Seating is tight but it's part of the restaurant's schtick. And guess what? I dig the restaurant's schtick.

Mooncake, my friends, has officially become my go-to dinner with friends joint. Cheap, cheerful, and gosh darn good food.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

little things

A coworker just handed me a small bouquet of Italian Flat Leaf Parsley freshly picked from her garden this morning. Delicately wrapped in damp paper towel, I'm staring at it lovingly. Smiling. Sunshine finally streaming through my window.

Happy Thursday.

grilled pizza a la mario batali

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

summer salmon cakes with zucchini fennel slaw

Summer Salmon Cakes with Zucchini Fennel Slaw
Recipe courtesy of Gourmet, July 2009
*Amended by Kiira Leess

3 Tbsp. mayonnaise
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsp. red onion
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. hot sauce
1 can wild atlantic salmon, skinless and boneless
3 Tbsp. panko breadcrumbs
1/2 zucchini, coarsely grated (1 cup)
1/2 small fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Whisk together mayonnaise, 1 tsp lemon juice, red onion, dijon, hot sauce, and 1/4 tsp. each of salt and pepper in a medium bowl.

Stir together salmon, panko breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup zucchini, and half of mayonnaise mixture in another bowl.

Add fennel and remaining zucchini and lemon juice to mayonnaise mixture in medium bowl and toss to combine slaw.

Form salmon mixture into 2 patties. Heat oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot, then cook salmon cakes, carefully turning once, until golden and salmon is just cooked through, about 5 minutes total. Serve with slaw.

*An alternative way to prepare this recipe (without the mayo) would be to toss the slaw with a vinaigrette instead. I'm tempted to add some oranges to it as well...

chicken breasts with zucchini pappardelle

I am not going to lie. This is an honest place, and you should know the truth. Yesterday's grocery list kicked my "starving artist's" behind. I came in way over budget and I'm not entirely sure why. I'm going to go back over my receipt tonight, but I'm sure it had something to do with a snack or two and some frozen staples. But, oh well. What's done is done. Let's move on to tonight's recipe, courtesy of Gourmet which I have slightly amended.

1 medium zucchini, trimmed
2 garlic cloves
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I'm marinating mine all day in a little of my white balsamic vinaigrette)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. water
1 cup torn basil leaves (and some mint if you have it)
lemon wedges for serving

Shave zucchini lengthwise (1/8 inch thick) with slicer, knife, or peeler and place in large bowl. Thinly slice garlic and reserve separately.

Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Saute chicken until browned and just cooked through, 8 to 14 minutes total. Add chicken to zucchini.

Add garlic to skillet and cook, stirring, until pale golden, about 1 minute. Add water and scrape up any brown bits, then drizzle over chicken. Add basil and 1/4 tsp. salt to bowl and toss until zucchini wilts slightly. Season with salt and pepper.

Monday, June 22, 2009

lunch at pastis

In celebration of my beautiful friend Nadina's birth, a lunch at Pastis was clearly in order. An omelette with fine herbs for the Birthday girl and a tuna nicoise salad for her mother and myself. Lovely lunch with lovely company. Happy Birthday, Nadina!

monday meal planning

Regrettably, I left this month's issue of Gourmet at home which I excitedly dog eared page after page of super yummy yet simple recipes to try out this week. I do remember the gist of most of the ingredients, though, so that's what I'm going with for this week's grocery list and menu planning. And let me just say, I am rip rearing excited for the change-ups this week. And you are too, aren't you??


2 medium to large zucchinis
3 nectarines ($.99/lb.)
1 medium to large fennel bulb
2 avocados
1 bunch dill ($1)
1 bunch basil ($1)

1 lb. Boar's Head Virginia Ham

7 grain (or more) whole wheat bread

1 package chicken breast
1 salmon fillet ($8.99/lb.) OR 2 cans of canned salmon*

*I have not yet experiment with canned salmon but am intrigued. Think I might go with the canned this time around but will report back.

The plan for this week is to try out two new recipes that use the same veggie (zucchini) but two different proteins (chicken and salmon) which will be a refreshing change from repetitive leftover usage. Again, I don't have the recipes with me but they are: Chicken with Zucchini "Pappardelle" and a Salmon Cake with Zucchini and Fennel Slaw. Sounds good, right? Additionally, I froze my turkey burgers last week so I'm still working with three of those which will fill in for the nights I'm in one of those, "I ate this last night and I'm not feeling it tonight" kind of moods. C'mon, we all get picky and finicky sometimes, don't we? If you're not feeling Virginia Ham sandwiches with avocado for this week's BYOL, go ahead and utilize those two cans of tuna from a week or two ago and try my spin on tuna salad sans mayo.

Recipes to come!


I'm still laughing. Like the gut busting, can't breath, tears streaming down the face, laughing from Friday night's Midsummer Festival. Let's just say it had something to do with a dance around the May Pole called "Carousel" and getting extra close and extra awkward with strangers. One of the many highlights of this past weekend. Anyways, off we went after work on Friday down to the tip of Battery Park to celebrate the start of Summer, Svenska style. The weather was surprisingly perfect and the sun was streaming through the piercing clouds at the waterfront venue. Happy as clams based on the weather alone, we immediately got in line for the massive Swedish buffet (which was $15 by the way, not $20) and piled our plates mile high with an assortment of Scandinavian (and not so Scandinavian) goodies: Gravlax, Swedish Meatballs, Herring, cabbage, potatoes, beet salads, and more. We happily shoveled the food in our faces and sipped on ice cold Heinekens (where was the Carlsberg?!) to fend the welcomed heat of sunshine. I almost forgot what that felt like.
I will be seriously saddened if this was, in fact, the last Midsummer Festival because it was such a lovely little event filled with happy faces and friendly people adorned with crowns made from flowers and foliage. The kind of thing that just makes you feel better simply by being present. We left feeling genuinely content with stomachs full, abs slightly throbbing from laughter, an overwhelming desire to start up Rosetta Stone: Swedish, and huge smiles from ear to ear. Go Svenska. For real.

Friday, June 19, 2009

swedish midsummer festival

As a Swede, I felt obligated to post this and to encourage you (yes, even you Non-Swedes) to go. The annual Summer Solstice celebration will be filled with salmon, herring, meatballs, and devistatingly adorable Swedes running around. The festival takes place from 5-8pm in Robert F. Wagner Park (part of Battery City Park) and for $20 you can help yourself to the buffet spread. Sadly, this is rumored to be the last Swedish Midsummer as the Swedish Consulate may no longer have a post in New York. Not quite sure I understand that, but, regardless, I'll be there with a fellow Swede (and one wannabe) chowing down on some Scandinavian fare and watching little blonde munchkins with flowers in their hair, run around waving ribbons in the air.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

music in the kitchen

I don't know about you all but this girl can't cook passionately without music. Every night when I get home, I bring my iPod speakers into the kitchen and get down. But here's the thing: it can't just be any music. This is not the time nor place for America's Top 40. In fact, if anything, that is absolutely unappetizing to me. This goes for entertaining music as well. When I'm cooking, it's gotta be something worldly. Something Jazz. Something French. Maybe Buddah Bar. Maybe a CD picked up off the street by a guitar player in Barcelona. The point is, this kind of music sends me somewhere, a happy place, a zen zone where I'm free to create and let loose; unwind.

But lately, I've been at a standstill. My usual go-to's of Diana Krall, Rodrigo y Gabriela, and the Gipsy Kings are all kind of underwhelming me. I need some new stuff. While playing around with Pandora today, I came across some new stuff that I'm dying to get back home to download. "Le Breakfast Club de Paris" by Giacamo Bondi, "Underwater Love" by Smoke City, and almost anything by Yelle.

Now I need your help. Wanted: Any and all music recommendations for jamming out in the kitchen.

Monday, June 15, 2009

10,000 hits and counting!

And there we have it, folks. Today we went right over 10,000 hits (since March)!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you a million times over to all who have read and continue to do so. Makes me so incredibly happy and beyond flattered to know that I have readers. And loyal ones at that.

Absolutely deserving of some sort of Prosecco toast tonight, don't we think? Perhaps the perfect opportunity to try out my boy Gary Vaynerchuk's suggestion of Riondo Prosecco for $8.99 (seen

Woohoo! Happy Monday!


Well this site (thanks @nadinadb!) is pretty darn fantastic. Notakeout.com features recipes, grocery lists, and step-by-step instructions from the moment you walk in your door to ensure take-out-less meals that are quick and simple every night of the week. Hats off, peeps. Search through their menus and recipes. And with Alice Waters as the guest contributor this week, you know you're in for a divine spin on local, sustainable ingredients. Does this make my last post pale in comparison? Uh oh. Alice Waters, if you're listening, come help a sister out.

grocery list + game plan take two

Since all of you little food loving readers enjoyed last week's grocery post so much well...let's do this dance. Take two.


baby greens (box for $4.99)
avocado (2/$3)
grape tomatoes ($1.99)
peaches ($.79/lb.)
red onion (1 large)

boar's head honey maple turkey ($6.99/lb.)

turkey burgers (4-pack for $2.99)
shrimp ($7.99/lb.)

sliced cheddar (?)

sandwich sized english muffins (?)

Ok so I know that the list looks a little similar to last week's but that's only because last week's shrimp salad was so freaking yummy that I've decided to make it again. But if you consider that a cheat then here's what you're going to do: Get a small piece of salmon or whatever else kind of fish rocks your boat OR grab some chicken breast if it's on sale and grill some of that up for your salad. This month's issue of Real Simple actually features a very similar salad on their cover of grilled chicken kebabs, grilled peaches and red onions, all served over arugula. So there you go. Same kind of ingredients, slightly different spin. Don't want you getting bored on me that quickly.

Turkey burgers (or ground turkey in general) is actually one of my favorite ingredients. And before you wince, hear me out. It's super low in fat and calories (whether you're watching or not) and it's totally versatile. Swedish meatballs, chipotle turkey meatloaf, burgers, dumpling filling, whatever. Turn to ground turkey. And more often than not, it's often on sale at my grocery store which makes me even HAPPIER. So this week, turkey burgers are more than welcomed in my kitchen. I grill/cook them up, top them with some low fat cheddar cheese and then on to my plate it goes with a generous portion of avocado and finely diced red onion on top. Served alongside a large salad, this is honestly one of my favorite week night meals. Perfectly filling and super satisfying. You could absolutely go the same route with a veggie burger or beef burger if you really don't do the ground turkey thing. But, I'm asking you to at least try it out. It really is that good.

As far as BYOL (bring your own lunch) goes, I'm going with turkey sammies this week, but feel free to get whatever cold cuts you like. Turkey on a well-toasted english muffin with dijon, avocado (if I still have some left), and baby greens with a large handful of grape tomatoes on the side? Bing. Bam. Boom.

Happy shopping and cooking and let me know how it goes!

weekend eats

Escaping back home to Connecticut on the weekends has become our latest trend. And while this weekend had a purpose, there are no complaints to be found here. Although the weather was once again cold, dark, and rainy (borderline certifiable over here) I still managed to enjoy every minute of the comfy goodness that is home. And the fresh air never hurt anyone.

Saturday we enjoyed a lunch to-go from Ching's Table in New Canaan. Vietnamese Summer Rolls stuffed with shrimp, avocado, mango, and vermicelli were dipped into a thick, sweet and spicy dipping sauce studded with red pepper flakes followed by calamari salads: mounds of baby greens, freshly fried calamari, matchsticks of mango and jicama and a delicate citrusy dressing. Great Asian Fusion restaurant which never disappoints. Granted, we never order anything but above. But hey, we know what we like.

Sunday afternoon the sun FINALLY decided to grace us with its pleasure and while out running errands with my mom, we swung by Sierra Grill in Stamford, CT for FISH TACOS. Grilled salmon, made to order, is placed on a warm soft taco with plenty of lettuce and tomato and a sour cream sauce to spread on top. I doctored ours up with some chopped red onion and cilantro along with a squeeze of fresh lime. Since the sun was shining, we ate lunch in the parking lot, with the rooftop down in attempts of soaking it all up.
A super fresh, super light take on the fish taco. This is absolutely my winning variation, no guilt here!

Once home, my mom requested I test out the new kitchen by making her some Swedish Cucumbers to have on hand in the fridge. Hmm. Right, she just wanted me to "test out the new kitchen." How convenient! But really, no one has to ask me twice to get cooking. So away I went, carefully slicing the cucumber paper thin and watching the new induction stove bring my pickling liquid to a boil in a matter of seconds. I. Kid. You. Not.

Minutes later, Swedish Cucumbers done. Now it's your turn to make a batch for the week. Step one: add an english cucumber and fresh dill to your
weekly grocery list…Soon to come…

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

public fare

So Danny Meyer (of the Union Square Hospitality Group) has opened up a little eatery--concession stand style--in Central Park called Public Fare. The bloggers behind fat of the land (see pics there) were the first to report on the grub being served and the pictures alone have sold me. Devastatingly perfect little date night. The roasted tomato, zucchini, and riccota on toasted sullivan street stecca, sugar snap peas, asparagus, arugula with pecorino, lemon and mint, organic strawberries with sour cream and brown sugar, all served up alongside an impressive wine selection?

I'm practically twitching.

mooncake foods update

According to gobyo.com, Mooncake Foods is also BYOB! This most definitely just bumped them up a couple of notches in my book. Will be back sooner than anticipated! Also, a reader commented that on Thursday nights they have $16 lobster tail specials. Who's coming with?

tally up

Ok so I just did the final tally for the groceries yesterday and I came in at $17.50 on the nose! Mind you, I already had my steak at home so just add another $3.99 or so. But really? That is not too bad at all. My good friend Megan tagged along for the grocery shopping (two of almost everything) and then we went back to my place to make one huge batch of the shrimp and salad together, gobbled it all up, and then I sent her home with her doggy bag for lunch/dinner the next day. Such a fun way to do it!

And the salad by the way? Better than I even expected. What we thought were slightly under ripe peaches turned out to be perfect with the tender kicked up shrimp and creamy avocado. We licked our over sized salad bowls clean.

And today, waiting in my refrigerator is a container of shrimp, diced avocado, sliced peaches, and salad dressing, greatly anticipating their arrival on a bed of greens. Then tonight when I go home, it's steak in the hot pan, slicing of the red onion, and in a matter of 15 minutes, meal #3, 4, and 5 will be prepped and ready to go.

Now it's your turn. Have at it!

Monday, June 8, 2009

groceries and game plans for one

I've been getting feedback from a lot of you (which I love!) and the majority of what I've been hearing have been requests for tips on grocery shopping and weekly menu planning. Especially the food and prep associated with bringing your own lunch. And guess what? I love this challenge! And hey, what my people want, my people get.

So for our trial run, as it is Monday, let's put together a grocery list with a budget in mind (under $30 for the week) that will get you happily fed for a week straight, shall we?

My first step is to browse through the weekly circular for my local grocery store which conveniently has a pdf on their website to check out what's on sale. No, not all of my staples are always on sale, but it is fun to sometimes base a new meal off of something that's on special. For example, this week extra large shrimp ($6.99/lb.) and peaches ($0.99/lb.) are on sale. Two items that would typically be splurges are now a little more attainable. Additionally, sometimes it's best to segment your grocery shopping: produce market for produce, fish monger for seafood, grocery store for everything in between. A bit annoying perhaps, but it will end up saving you money and ensure the best quality.

After checking that out, it is absolutely IMPERATIVE that you make a list. Never, ever, ever go into a grocery store without a list. You will end up with a cart full of random stuff and a bill that will keep you from indulging in the next couple of midweek jaunts. Also, it's helpful to write your list according to shopping aisle/area. I start with produce, then move to meats and cheese, grocery items, then frozen section. Time saving 101.


baby greens
peaches (2)
red onion (2)
avocado (2)

1 lb. shrimp
1 lb. london broil (around $3.99/lb.)

small log goat cheese

canned tuna (2)

english muffins

(Cost? I'll get to you tomorrow.)


Cut steak in half and immediately freeze one half. Throw the other half in the fridge (it'll be fine for a day or two). Since the shrimp has the shortest shelf life, cook them all off first thing (or freeze half). Grill 'em with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, or throw them in a hot pan just until their cooked through. Toss them in a salad with some sliced peaches, avocado, and a vinaigrette for a tropical dinner that will be anything but boring. Bring the same for lunch the next day OR chop the shrimp up with a little red onion and a dash of mayo (or some vinaigrette if you're off the white stuff like me) and scoop it up on top of some baby greens.

Next day or two: sear the steak on both sides until desired doneness. Let the meat rest while you thickly slice some red onion and toss it with an ample amount of balsamic vinegar, a drizzle of olive oil, a crushed clove of garlic, a sprinkle of sugar (belive it or not, I used splenda last time...), salt, and pepper. In the same pan you seared the meat, throw the onions in over medium-high heat and allow them to caramelize a bit. They should still have a crunch in the middle but the balsamic vinegar will reduce and become fantastically sweet. Slice the steak, put it on top of baby greens with crumbled goat cheese and the balsamic-glazed onions and dress with vinaigrette. Divine. (Note: I always have a good quality rustic bread sliced in my freezer and pop it right into the toaster oven.)

With the leftover sliced steak, toast up an English Muffin, smear some dijon mustard on top, add a few balsamic-glazed onions and greens, and you've got a darn good steak sandwich for lunch the next day that will have you begging to rip into well before noon.

The tuna can stay forever (nearly), obviously, so if you don't get to it this week, you will the following. I love red onion, celery, chick peas, and lemon vinaigrette in mine. But do as you like! Endless options here.

Cooking for one does not have to be a chore. Just get creative with the leftovers and you'll be set for a week...easily!

Let's make this a Monday ritual, shall we?

pinche taqueria's fish tacos: the verdict

Ok, so this Friday was finally the day. The day that I would finally get to try the fish tacos from Pinche Taqueria. After sorting through at least ten take-out menus on Friday night, we settled on Pinche. Totally out of the blue for me, as I rarely crave Mexican, but I figured now was as good a time as any to try the famed little soft tacos. One fish and one shrimp each and a green salad to split. Shortly thereafter, our food was delivered and we dove into the white boxes. There, four little soldiers were lined up, each dressed with shredded cabbage and a slather of fresh guacamole. I hastily picked one up and bit into the soft corn tortilla and through the perfectly fried fish with the crunch of cabbage and smoothness of guacamole. I snapped a picture for you all but it serves it no justice so I figured it was better off without. Now, for whatever reason, I'm much more of a flour tortilla kind of girl. Something about the strong flavor of the corn tortillas really overpowers whatever else there is stuffed inside. Way too perfumey for my taste. That said, the fish taco was pretty darn good. And for only four or five bites, incredibly filling.

However, the shrimp taco was terribly sad. The tiny shrimp were insanely hard and incredibly fishy tasting. Think fish food. I only wish I was exaggerating. Neither one of us could touch them. Perhaps I will give them another chance though, because the other pictures I've seen of them online looked absolutely promising. Off night maybe?

Who knows. Either way, we enjoyed our Mexican treats that night because this dinner somehow carried us through rest of the weekend. I kid you not. Which is why this kind of food will remain the once every month or two indulgence. It's simply too heavy for my taste. Because beyond that, I'm not sure I'd have room to report back any other perfect bites. And if that were the case, well, then it'd all be over my friends.


Friday, June 5, 2009

nyc's best philly cheesesteak

It's raining, no, pouring, it's Friday, I'm a little bit cold, antsy to start my weekend, and I'm craving a Philly Cheese Steak. Yeah, back off. But here's the thing: I don't think I've had one since living in NYC. Actually, that's a lie. I did have one at one of those bars right outside the old Yankee Stadium last summer. But I can't remember the name or anything about the overall cheese steak experience so I'm going to go ahead and assume that it was...well...unmemorable. Ah! Just came to: Yankee Tavern. Anyways, all that said, where's the best place to get one here in the city? 99 Miles to Philly? Shorty's? Help me! Please!

mooncake foods

While talking shop (by shop I mean food) with my friend Megan, we were going back and fourth on places to try in our neighborhood. Mooncake Foods came up, to which she hadn't yet tried, and I thought I'd pass it along to you all as a great cheap eats option. Now, mind you, I ordered the Thai Steak Salad with Basil Lime Dressing ($8.80), and what was delivered was so insanely spicy, my face was a constant expression of pain for a half hour straight. No where in that little description did it list "spicy" or "this will kick your a$$" or "don't even think about it, Kiira" so I thought it was safe decision. Needless to say, the spice did all of the above but the flavors were so delicious and the steak was so amazingly tender and flavorful, that I plowed through the constant pain for the sake of good eats. The entire menu (minus a lobster sandwich and a prawns dish) is well under $10 and is predominantly Asian-inspired. Cash only (hmph, everything is in Soho) too. But for a quick bite to eat that won't diminish your paycheck, I totally recommend this place. Next time you're in one of those "I'm so hungry but have no idea what I'm in the mood for" kind of moods, check out Mooncake Foods. And get plenty of water.

28 Watts St. (nr. Thompson)

viet burgers

So the weather this weekend is supposed to be phenom (today is KILLING me) and what better time to fire up the grill and make some of these Viet Burgers? Think all of the flavors of a Banh Mi jammed into a little slider. I'd top mine with some thinly sliced cucumber, shredded carrot, and of course, some fresh cilantro (you can also buy jarred kimchi if you'd like). Sriracha on the table for passing and a few ice cold Saigon beers? 5:00 could not come any sooner.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

food, inc.

I have a strong feeling that after seeing the movie Food, Inc. (trailer), some drastic changes are going to be made in the way I look at food. I know the hypocrisies and unethical aspects of the food industry have been a hot topic for quite some time now (genetic engineering, pesticides, food borne illness, farm worker protection, etc.), but for me, seeing it and hearing it always seems to make much more of an impact. Dramatic music and clever editing don't hurt either. Needless to say, I think it's a film that we should all see, then reflect on, then do what we can to make some changes that we will ALL benefit from. Because our obliviousness to the issues (most likely due to convenience) is hurting us in more ways than we're aware of.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

school lunches worldwide

Totally interesting little photo gallery on different school lunches from around the world (thanks @kstinchfield). As expected, the trays from the USA are by far the least appetizing and unhealthy. I love how the Swedish lunch has the ever present boiled potatoes, rye crisps, and lingonberry juice and the French meal with mussels and a steamed artichoke is just plain unfair! Perhaps my future, hypothetical children will be growing up abroad. Just so I can live vicariously through their vastly improved school lunches. Speaking of which...remember "Brunch for Lunch" days? Ohh, East School.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

weekend eats

I apologize for the long hiatus! My weekend turned into a unexpectedly long one and I was somewhat technologically unavailable. That said, I'm back and happy to report some yummy nibbles from this past weekend.

So Summer is officially upon us (well, as far as I'm concerned) which means every weekend, this city clears OUT. I mean, I'm hard-pressed to find more than five friends from any of my clans hanging out in the concrete jungle. But, as soon as I get on my Summer beach schedule, I too will hopefully be more M.I.A. Until then, I shared a somewhat gluttonous weekend with my roommate, Ellen. But since this rarely happens for either one of us, we just went with it, with smiles on our faces.

Sunday was lazy but beautiful. So we soaked up some sun down at Battery City Park until our stomachs were growling louder than the barking dogs, croaking birds, and the couple playing paddle ball in front of us. We both had pin-pointed our craving: steamed clams, baguette to soak up the luxuriously briny broth, and ice cold vino. So we skipped back towards the West Village to hit up The Lobster Place in hopes of bagging some clams. Perhaps it was the time of day, but we were a bit under-mused by the selection. But, Steamers they had so we loaded up on a pound and a half. And because we couldn't help ourselves, since they were staring at us so lovingly from their basket of ice, two Bluepoint Oysters were shucked and drizzled generously with fresh lemon juice right in front of us which we immediately threw back. Our eyes crossed with pure delight. A shot of clean, ocean water spiked with a citrusy punch. A special treat for ourselves, being the only city dwellers for the weekend.

Then it was on to Murray's Cheese for sample upon sample of stinky selections. After tasting our way through a number of Tallegios, we settled on a Grès des Vosges, a cow's milk cheese (Alsatian Muenster) from the Alsace region of France. Pungent, salty, and smooth, it was a worthwhile splurge.
Once back at home, butter and olive oil were heated up in a tall pot and copious amounts of fresh garlic were grated in with a few dashes of red pepper flakes. A splash of white wine dramatically hit the oil and in went the clams. Lid went back on, and they steamed for five or six minutes, shaking the pot every once in a while. A quick salad of fresh boston lettuce, orange, and fennel (this is becoming a habit) were once again dressed with my white balsamic vinaigrette. As soon as the steamers opened up, the pot was hit with a huge handful of freshly chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon. Done. Dinner guests came and went and there was no shortage on food. We sopped up our bowls of uber flavorful broth with plenty of torn pieces of baguette. And trapped in the city or not, we were eating, drinking, and sopping up all of the best parts of Summer right in our very own apartment.


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