Friday, October 30, 2009

boo to halloween

me, clearly, on the right
Now, I'm not a Halloween person. Never really have been. Something about a traumatic experience at age four which involved me being dressed up as a bunch of grapes (see above). Way too many green balloons for the toddler me to handle. A near fit ensued. Instead, I insisted that I was to be a "fancy lady." And my persistent four year old self prevailed. Vintage fur coat (must search attic for this)? Check. Drowning in pearls? Check. Pink frosted ray bans? Check.

It made no sense, really. But I guess there's only so much you can do in an argument with a tiny tot when it comes to dress up. Fancy Lady vs. Bunch of Grapes? I don't know. You be the judge.

That said, now I kind of try to avoid the holiday at all costs. Yes, there's still a part of me that likes to get crafty and make a costume from scratch, but beyond that, it's just another one of those hyped up occasions that never really delivers.

So here's my proposal. Since all of the bars in this city are going to have lines around the block with actual, real live monsters around every corner, I say let's "celebrate" Halloween IN this year. Whip up a fabulous meal and serve with all the lights out. Votive candles only. Scary good cocktails. And maybe freak you and your friends out by putting on a horrifically scary movie and then stay up all night because you can't bear to shut your eyes in fear of what could happen...

Since it is Halloween and my apartment is pumpkin-less, I'm thinking about swapping pumpkins for squash. Fair trade, no? Butternut squash pappardelle with sage and parmesan. Roast chunks of butternut squash in the oven with olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper until they're 3/4 of the way cooked. Then in a large sautee pan, add olive oil and butter, lots of sliced shallots and a few cloves of grated garlic until they're softened. Add in the butternut squash and lots of fresh chopped sage, toss it together and cover with a lid for a few minutes to allow the squash to finish cooking through. In the meantime, cook off a little under a pound of fresh pappardelle (my all time favorite pasta). Dump the pappardelle in with the squash mixture and grate in a ton of fresh parmesan. Finish it off with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and get ready to be down right sinful.

Serve this alongside a big salad of baby greens dressed with a maple-dijon balsamic vinaigrette, crumbled goat cheese, and dried cranberries, and pair it all up with a devilishly good wine (I'd go red, personally). And seriously?! Who wants to run around from jam-packed bar to jam-packed bar when you could be enjoying all of this? In fact, my decision has been made. How about yours?

Costumes optional.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

the campbell apartment

After living in New York City for almost two years, I still do not consider myself, in any way, an expert of this city. Sure I could keep up in a conversation of Gotham's hippest and under the radar restaurants, but have I been to the majority of them? Well, sadly, no. Or, not yet at least.

But Grand Central Terminal used to be somewhat of a second home to me. The days on end spent commuting (albeit 5 months and then I could take it no longer) to and from that station, were, in many ways dismal, but to this day, I can't deny the building's charm and down right beauty. A fact that's often neglected amongst all the hustle, bustle, and sweat (at least on my end) that consumes the station. But after going on a tour of the building during NYC's Open House Weekend, I was reminded of its rich history and facts I was previously unaware of (i.e. Did you know the clock found in the center of the terminal is worth between $10-20 million?!).

Anyways, what I've been trying to get to in the most long-winded of ways, was that I was not aware of the Campbell Apartment, a bar and cocktail lounge tucked into a corner of Grand Central that was formerly the office of 1920's tycoon John W. Campbell. The place is somewhat of a NYC landmark yet one that I was completely unaware of during my commuting days. Long sigh. It's dark, cozy, and downright sexy with ridiculously high ceilings, antique books for days, dark wood, and stained glass windows. Grab a dirty martini (because you have to here), sink yourself into one of the club chairs, and pretend you're reenacting a Mad Men episode. Quintessentially Old New York and a must-do at one point or another during your NYC residence.

Since I'll be in the neighborhood tonight, I might have to do just that.

Campbell Apartment
15 Vanderbilt Ave.
Proper attire required (Which c'mon, is kinda hot)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

crush it! vook launch

Last night at the Bell House in Brooklyn, Gary's vook launched. After a serious past two weeks of non-stop travel across the country for his Crush It! Book Tour, Gary was back at it and in the best of spirits. The guy is never off. I need to be on what he's on (read: passion induced high). Here's what went down:
And no big deal, but he was also a world record breaker last night. Most number of cheers in 60 seconds. Go Gary!

date night in nyc

There's a great piece in the New York Times this week about how the dating scene in New York City has undergone a transformation: out with the stuffy, pretentious restaurants and in with the casual, hole-in-the-walls. Amen! While chemistry, above all else, is what's going to ultimately make or break the date, I whole-heartedly agree that choosing a restaurant with minimal intimidation factor is a brilliant idea. First dates are awkward enough; no need to heighten that by making a rezzy for two at Le Cirque. A burger joint, a noodle shop, that incredible Mexican taqueria hidden at the back of the bodega, the Korean BBQ place that has you grilling your own meats at the table. All slightly thrilling, all totally casual (which encourages fun, casual, and of course witty conversation), and all admittedly easy on the wallet.

And there's nothing more intimate than finding intimacy in the most unexpected of places.

Have at it serial daters.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

gary vaynerchuk vook launch party

Gary and my Aunt Kari at Sonoma, CA Book Signing

Nope, that's not a typo. Tonight at The Bell House in Brooklyn, Gary Vaynerchuk and friends will launch his new vook (lets you watch 18 brand new, exclusive videos of Gary sharing insights that will help you succeed in the digital world) Crush It! Why Now is the Time to Cash in on Your Passion from 9:00pm-1:00am. If anything, you can come to watch me be publicly humiliated by the possibility of my video book review clip being shown. Or, of course to throw Gary just one more high five on his epic, life changing work.

Plus sip on champagne and the opportunity to meet and mingle with a lot of other cool peeps.

What better way to spend a dreary Tuesday? I guarantee. Ya got nothin' on this.

Tickets are FREE and you can get them here.
And if you haven't picked up the book yet (my goodness, shame on you), you're just a click away.

149 7th St.
Brooklyn, NY, 11215

Monday, October 26, 2009


You guys? I'm pumped. You know why? I just discovered an absolute new go-to. And Terroir is the name of the game.

Owned by the same peeps of Hearth and Insieme, Terroir is their wine bar located in the East Village and boasts a seriously impressive wine list (known for their Riesling options) and a menu of small plates. The space is small but intimate and features blond wood paneling and soft lighting. One high, long communal table with stools is supplemented by seats at the bar. And a seat at the bar, is a guaranteed fantastic experience.

First of all, I've got a shout out to give. Tanner, the guy behind the bar, is totally charming and informative. He was more than willing to offer suggestions and catches on to your palette likes and dislikes immediately. An absolute plus as it allows you to try a variety of different wines (they have full glass pours and half glass pours, giving you more opportunities to expand that palette of yours).

I don't know why, but I've been kind of camera shy as of late. So the pictures below are mediocre at best but I had to show you some of the crazy delicious bites we nibbled on. First came a beet and orange salad topped with lemon oil and crushed hazelnuts. It tasted exactly like it sounded and while nothing out of this world, it was a welcomed bite of freshness next to the uber indulgent lamb sausage wrapped in sage leaves and then fried. Salty, incredibly juicy, and a concentrated sage flavor for days. These are a treat not to be missed.

Next came a smoked chickpea and calamari salad with celery, garlic, lemon, parsley and chili. The flavors coming alive in this dish were beyond intriguing and spot on. Smokey and salty meets bright and crunchy. I'm a sucker for calamari in all its incarnations, and this was no exception. I'm going to have to experiment with a recreation of this dish ASAP.

Their duck panini is somewhat famed so I had to squeeze one of those in. Duck ham with hen of the woods mushrooms and taleggio cheese? Please. Seriously, please. The combination of flavors in this guy yielded the...say it with me...perfect bite. Further enhanced by a healthy sip of a hearty red and Kiira was in her happy place.

And then of course, there's the wine. And get ready to be faced with a binder full of options. But before you enter panic mode, relax. The guys working here want nothing more than to help you find your perfect glass. And with so many options, I dare you to not find at least one glass to your liking. One of my favorite tastes of the night was the wine seen below. I couldn't tell you much more than the fact that it was slightly fruity, slightly savory, hints of smoke, and a gorgeous mouth feel. My kinda vino.

Terroir is the kind of place you instantly cozy up to. From the beyond personable wait staff, to the overall vibe this place is rocking, you can't help but want to linger. Try one more wine. Take one more bite. Stay just a little bit longer. And really? Can you think of a better dining experience?

Go Yankees! (Had to.)


413 E. 12th St.

monday meal planning

Recipe inspiration or ideas often come to me in the oddest of moments. And this week's Monday Meal Planning was no exception. While there's no telling how my brain will work and when, inspiration struck while I was in a cab yesterday. A commercial for Fairway flashed across the screen which featured brisket. My brain started churning at 5:30pm for the first time all day. Why so late? Happy Birthday, Miss Meghan!

Brisket is one of my Mom's staple dishes. Along with her chicken with prunes and steak with seared red onions, carrots, and balsamic, brisket is the third most classic "Ing" dish. She always follows the Nach Waxman recipe from the Silver Palette Cookbook. A book covered, lovingly in cooking stains and one which every recipe pulls on some sort of heart string associated with the happiest of happy childhood memories.

Brisket is a hearty fall and winter dish that always pleases a crowd and could not be simpler to put together. Although truth be told, it's always better the next day. So if you're entertaining, plan ahead.

But the reason this dish is featured as a Monday Meal Planning recipe is because of its versatility thereafter. Serve it up with some buttered egg noodles with fresh parsley and chives for company and then with the leftovers? Get ready to get rowdy.

For a crazy good sandwich the next day, slather a roll with your favorite barbecue sauce (I'm a Sweet Baby Ray's gal, myself) and then top it with sliced brisket and some coleslaw and you wanna talk about a Southern treat? Another option would be to make a horseradish spread with some reduced fat sour cream and as much horseradish as you can stand. Spread it on some hearty whole grain bread along with the sliced brisket and baby arugula and you just created something so sophisticated and gourmet you'll be patting yourself on the back for days to come. And rightfully so.

If you've got a slow cooker (which I'm still in the market for) I bet the results would be even more delectably tender so look into that. But this classic made in a heavy Le Creuset and stewing away for hours in the oven, is a pretty cozy experience and perfect for those upcoming chilly Sunday's.

Enjoy and, you know, stay cozy.

Friday, October 23, 2009

dumpling festival

Should you find yourself with a hankering for dumplings in every way, shape, and form this Saturday, mosey on down to the Sara D. Roosevelt Park on E. Houston for the Dumpling Festival. From gnocchi to shumai, pierogies to gyoza and more sample your way through the food fest from noon to 5pm. And on what looks to be a rainy Saturday afternoon, this could be the perfect midday pick-me-up.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

dbgb kitchen and bar

Now, I'm going to be perfectly honest with you and I apologize to anyone this might offend. But, there aren't any pictures to accompany this post (besides the one above courtesy of Gourmet, may you rest in peace). And it's a shame too, because the food I was so lucky to experience last night at DBGB, was pretty beautiful and nothing short of divine.

Toss in a Jacques Pépin sighting and this place officially has made its way up to the top of my restaurant list.

After reviewing the menu and looking over other peoples reviews (yes, this is what I do prior to dining almost anywhere. weird? eh, whatever), I arrived still not having a clue as to what I was going to order. But no need to worry. Upon entering the bustling bar/front room I was amazed at how bumping the place was for a Wednesday night. But, a reminder of their recent two star review in the New York Times shut me up in no time. Cozy on up to the bar and order one of their many artisan beers on tap. Have the bartender surprise you. You will be pleasantly surprised. And keep a hawk's eye on any and all tables about to open up. Keep in mind that this could get confrontational and aggressive if need be. Deep breaths. Remain calm.

To start? Oysters: Welfleet and Kumamoto. Would it be terrible to say (given the restaurant's sausage notoriety) that this was one of the absolute highlights of the meal? Served atop a bed of crushed ice with lemon wedges and a bright and peppery mignonette they were sheer delight in its purest, cleanest form.

Next was a bottle of an Alsacian Riesling: 2005 Domaine Mittnacht Freres Riesling Rosacker Grand Cru. Now, never having had a real Riesling experience, this wine kind of blew my mind. And choosing a wine to suit oysters immediately followed by sausage is no easy task. But it was the absolute perfect accompaniment. Slightly sweet, incredible acidity and length, with hints of golden apple on the finish, it's a smile inducer.

The chipolata sausage (pork sausage with whipped potatoes topped with shaved truffle) and polonaise (smoked pork and veal kielbasa with red cabbage, beets, apple) were the epitome of comfort food. The first tasted like a perfect Sunday night meal on steroids with the addition of the luxurious shaved truffle. The kielbasa was spectacularly smokey and paired with the sweet red cabbage slightly spiked with what tasted like allspice, was hitting all the right notes at the same time. A real treat.

Skate with cauliflower (and romensco) risotto, saffron brown butter, topped with pine nuts and golden raisins was the main. A bold flavored fish with the somewhat reserved but distinct flavor of the cauliflower and a hint of sweetness from the raisins, this dish too was pretty hard to beat.

And with the Riesling? OMG, the Riesling.
Yes, this is currently a NYC hot spot and has foodies and wannabes alike flocking to it but you know what? It's for darn good reason. Daniel Boulud is nothing short of a genius and his relaxed but absolutely industrialized chic new place and straightforward but inventive menu all add up to a pretty perfect little spot.
If you've got what it takes to fight for a table.
299 Bowery St. (at E. Houston)

smoked salmon tartar

Take a few slices of smoked salmon, chop them up, add in chopped chives, a dab of dijon, squeeze of lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil, and some fresh cracked pepper. Serve a scoop on top of deliciously ripe avocado and lightly dressed baby greens. Bold (but merited) assumption of the day? This will become an instant favorite. And whipped up in a matter seconds.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

in season: brussels sprouts

Right now. Right this very second. Forget all the scary and unmerited preconceived notions you may have regarding the devastatingly adorable little brussels sprout. Because you know what? You're all growed up (or somewhere in between) and it's time for you to give them another shot with your now mature (or somewhere in between) palette. Brussels sprouts are fabulous. They take exceedingly well to a variety of different cooking preparations; roasting and braising being two of my favorites, which bring out a smokey, nutty quality to them that turn this vegetable into something nearing surreal.

Last Thanksgiving, I tried this recipe from Food + Wine for Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries and the next morning I awoke to emails in my inbox, requesting the run down of the dish. It was the star of the spread (so much for brining the turkey for 24 hours). The recipe says to reconstitute the dried cranberries in Riesling and while it sounded like a lovely idea, I prefer the cranberries to retain some of their chew and integrity so the second go around, I neglected to soak them. But by all means, go for the Riesling hot tub method if you like your dried fruit plump. No judging here.

Thanksgiving aside, brussels sprouts are great alongside any fall dish. Slice up a few shallots, saute them in a butter and olive oil combination (if you're a bacon fiend, add some chopped bacon to the shallots. it will turn any hater into a lover.), then toss in halved brussels sprouts. Allow them to brown up a little and then pour in a splash of chicken broth (or white wine), put the lid on and let them braise for a good 5-6 minutes or so. Along side some simple roasted chicken and a hearty fall salad with dried cranberries, crumbled goat cheese, and maple balsamic vinaigrette and you'll forget all about those awful yet baseless childhood memories about these little guys and will consider them a new favorite.


Yep. I promise.

panko breadcrumbs

One of the comments I recently received (comment, comment, comment, please! I thrive off the stuff) was regarding a chicken parmesan recipe. And while chicken parm is not something I've ever made, nor typically crave, it got me to thinking. My brain started whirling about ways to produce the best possible result. And just like that, panko breadcrumbs immediately popped into my head. "Panko!" I excitedly exclaimed in my head. "I have to tell them about Panko!" Clearly, you don't want to be inside my head.

Or do you?

Panko is a Japanese breadcrumb that is sold at almost every grocery store these days. They're an extremely light and crispy product (whose appearance is somewhat reminiscent of crushed rice krispies) and yield unbelievably fantastic breading results when compared to the run-of-the-mill kind of breadcrumbs. I keep a tupperwear of them in the freezer (tip: keeps them from spoiling) for my one and only breaded treat: warm goat cheese salad, where I slip a piece of a goat cheese bouchon in egg white, then roll it around in panko, and into a hot pan until the cheese begins to ooze. Simple, indulgent pleasure.

But back to chicken parm. I would buy some fresh, thin chicken cutlets and set up a breading station: one dish with flour (salt and pepper too), an egg wash (2 eggs, splash of milk, salt, pepper), and one with panko and some fresh parmesan (chopped parsley would be a fab addition). Coat the chicken cutlet in a little of the flour mixture, then into the egg wash, and then into the panko mixture, making sure to fully coat the breast. Repeat this process with as many chicken cutlets as you're making.

Heat a large pan over medium-high heat and add in a little olive oil. Gently saute the breaded cutlets until they're a deep golden brown color on both sides. Place them on a plate and into a low oven (200F or so) to keep warm.

Either use your favorite jarred stuff (I hear Mario Batali's new line of sauce is bellissima albeit pricey) or whip up some fresh tomato sauce (sauce pot on medium heat, add in olive oil, a few red pepper flakes, a can of crushed san marzano tomatoes, and as much or as little grated garlic as your heart desires. let it come to a gentle boil, toss in a dash of sugar, some salt, and tons of torn basil. reduce to low. taste for seasoning. done.)

Remove chicken from oven. Preheat the oven to 450F. Take a baking dish and ladle some of the sauce into the bottom and place chicken cutlets on top. Add a bit of sauce to the top of each as well and top, generously, with some slices of fresh mozzarella. Throw them into the oven until the cheese completely melts (keep an eye, it'll happen in less than 10 minutes). Serve with some al dente spaghetti or just with a side salad and have at it.

But of course, if you don't want to take my word for it (as I admittedly have never made this, but think I pulled the above off pretty well) I fully trust my boy, Tyler Florence. So take a look at his recipe and swap out the regular breadcrumbs for Panko. I think you'll be absolutely tickled with the results.
See what happens when you comment?!
Have the loveliest of lovely Wednesday's.

Monday, October 19, 2009

monday meal planning

As promised, here's the recipe and shopping list for the Beef Bourguignon we made on Kiss the Cook.

Beef Bourguignon
(loosely adapted from Ina Garten's recipe)

2 lbs. chuck beef cut into 1-inch cubes
2-3 leeks, tops and bottoms trimmed, sliced into thin half moons (1 large yellow onion could certainly be substituted for the leeks and shallots)
4 large shallots, roughly chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, grated
2 packages of button mushrooms, sliced
1 bottle of burgandy (we used a bottle of bordeaux)
1 can beef broth
2 tbsp. tomato paste
6 sprigs of thyme (or 3 sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped)
2 tbsp. butter
1 bag of whole wheat, yolk free egg noodles (get ready to be AMAZED)*
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1-2 tbsp. butter

Preheat the oven to 250F. In a large dutch oven over medium high heat, season the beef with plenty of salt and pepper and brown on all sides (for about 3-5 minutes) in a little olive oil. Once the beef is browned, remove from the pan and set aside. In the same pot, add in a little extra olive oil (if needed) and saute the leeks and shallots until they are lightly browned (about 4 minutes). Add in the grated garlic, some salt and pepper, and cook for about 30 seconds. Return the meat to the pan (along with any juices accumulated) and add the bottle of wine plus enough beef broth to cover the meat. Add in the tomato paste and thyme sprigs and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot with a lid and place in the oven for an hour and a half.
When the stew has about 10 minutes left, saute the mushrooms in a little butter and olive oil until brown. Season with a little salt. Set aside.
Combine 2 tbsp. of butter and the flour with a fork until it forms a paste and stir into the stew. Add in the sauteed mushrooms. Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then lower the heat and simmer for a few minutes. Check for seasoning. Serve with a sprinkling of fresh parsley.
*We served this over whole wheat egg noodles simply dressed with some butter, parsley, salt and pepper but it certainly stands on its own with a side salad and crusty bread and a mandatory glass of red wine and excellent company.
And for your viewing pleasure, our past episodes:

ktc 4: beef bourguignon

Thursday, October 15, 2009

what's for dinner

Now, I love, love, love fresh baby greens dressed with my good old balsamic vinaigrette and a hunk of baguette any night of the week but at a certain point, I even reach my limit. And when you're trying to be good during the week the worst thing to do is to bore yourself. So let's spice things up. Literally.

While perusing through Cooking Light's website, I came across this bad boy: Chipotle Chicken Taco Salad.

"Ugh." I thought. It sounded, dare I say it, tacky. Too Taco Bell for my palette. And before you write me off as a food snob (because gosh those last couple lines were rough for me to even re-read), I read through the recipe. Cilantro, Lime, Avocado, Red Onion, Tomato. It slowly began to reel me in. Not only did I have most of those ingredients waiting patiently for me at home, but it was going to give me the opportunity to munch on something fun. Fun? Yeah, fun. Exciting, spicy, bright, and fresh.

Then I scrolled down even more. And you guys? This salad has less than 250 calories. And avid calorie counter I am not (on most days) but that is a fantastic added bonus. It was settled. I was going to make this salad. And more importantly, I was going to rename it. To chipotle chicken salad. No tacos here.

The dressing tastes flat out sinful from the help of reduced fat sour cream, lime juice, and tons of fresh cilantro. And lightly covering the baby greens, chicken, and veggies, I happily smiled, guilt free bite, after bite, after bite. Sadly, no pictures (besides the lovely one above, courtesy of Cooking Light). Because I was admittedly shoveling this salad in my face too quickly.

So there. I think I've redeemed myself. Food snob? Heck no. I've unveiled the slightly sad fact that I sometimes shovel food so quickly and selfishly, that there's no time to whip out the camera. Even when it's a taco sa-, wait, chipotle chicken salad.

Eat up.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

wine library tv highlight reel


You're welcome.

how gary vaynerchuk changed my life

There are few words that could truly encapsulate my experience last night. But if I had to throw a few out there, because I know I can: absolutely amazing, life changing, self reflective, inspiring, and the most positive of positive energy I've ever felt. Gary Vaynerchuk cannot help but get you amped up and inspired. Being in his presence and hearing his words is like the sweetest most gentle severe kick in the behind. He just cares so much with so much passion about everything, everyone and you feel it. You can't help but feel his intensity. You've got a passion? One that makes you so happy you can't imagine doing anything else in this world? Then you've got an opportunity to turn this into your career. Make your own rules. And most importantly? Work your g.d. face off. You know, to the point it's no longer a part of your body.

I think the reason last night resonated with me so strongly is because I'm in a weird place. That place where I know what it is I absolutely, positively want to be doing but don't entirely know how to get there. And while it feels like I can sort of touch it, reach for it, envision it, I'm still not there. Trapped in a way. And that's totally frustrating. But at the same time, I have to keep in mind how incredibly lucky I am. At 24 years old, I can say, with confidence, I've found an arena, a community that brings out the best in me. That fills me with a sense of wholeness and happiness that I've been unable to find anywhere else. And you know what? Thank goodness for that. Because it's going to make all the serious, hard core hustling that I'm about to unleash, seem completely worthwhile. Because I'm chasing after what it is I love with all that I am.

And this is how Gary Vaynerchuk is changing my life. I already have my nose deep into Crush It! and can feel this emotional, empowering shift happening. And it's freaking awesome.

Preaching and emotions aside, last night was also filled with fabulous people and seriously fabulous wine. Prosecco toast, after toast, after toast, and a 2006 French wine called Bandol (smoky, smooth, giant pour, thank you, Jon) I left feeling stronger and more confident than I have in months. Years, maybe.

You guys? I'm going to crush it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

crush it! book signing

Today's the day that Gary Vaynerchuk's book, Crush It! Why Now is the Time to Cash in on Your Passion is released! The first stop on his book tour? Tonight at Borders Columbus Circle location from 7:00pm-11:00pm Gary will be signing books and hopefully throwing some high fives. Can't wait to meet the man, the myth, the legend and you should probably come show support too. Besides, don't you want to know how to cash in on your passion? I sure as heck do. Prosecco toast to follow the signing upstairs at Clo. Mmm, mmm, mmm.

Go Gary!

Monday, October 12, 2009

happy birthday, bon voyage

tzatziki, sliced turkey meatballs (served with warmed pita)

goat cheese crostini with orange, mint, red onion salad

mushroom and chevre pizza

darling little store bought cupcakes

Friday, October 9, 2009

a catered affair

This weekend, I am pleased to announce, will be my first catering gig. And even though it's for two of my best friends, I'm still anxiously anticipating the grand event. As in, I awoke in the middle of the night last night with my mind racing; taking inventory of all my platters, serving dishes, pitches for cocktails, what kind of flowers to use, different ways of plating a dish, etc. Not so much a panic attack as it was just pure excitement. A going-away-meets-birthday-extravaganza for two fabulous gals and about 20+ other guests. I promised a conservative budget and a delectable menu of finger-type foods.

the rundown

goat cheese crostini topped with an orange and mint salad
deconstructed mini gyro: grilled pita, tzatziki, and turkey meatballs
mushroom and shallot pizza topped with arugula

vodka lemonade fizz with rosemary

The Birthday Girl (Berit) and Farewell Girl (Courtney) have also requested to get a cooking class of sorts while I'm prepping all the food. And you all know what this means? I will now have two extra sets of hands that take excellent direction. I think.

Pictures galore will be posted Monday. Enjoy the weekend!

the perfect (hard or soft boiled) egg

Well, if you were ever wondering what the exact science behind the perfect hard or soft boiled egg, look no further. SeriousEats has done the work for you. They've also gone so far as to provide us with the exact times to produce the most perfect eggs possible. And since soft boiled eggs are my breakfast of choice during the week, this article nearly brought a tear to my eye. The picture above, my friends, is borderline genius. Solid whites and silky yolks.

Happy Friday.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

a night with mario batali

Luck would have it that as soon as Mario Batali entered the reception hall at the Morgan Library last night, I whipped out my camera to a flashing battery sign. NO. WAY. IN. HADES.

Welp, yes way. And thus I had to resort to snapping these two pics on my Blackberry. Picture quality is not one of the phone's strong suits. BBM may or may not make up for this.

Regardless, last night I was lucky enough to attend an interview with Mario Batali conducted by Leonard Lopate (thank you Mrs. Dora and Nadina!). The event was part of the Taste of New York series and was hosted at the Morgan Library and Muesum.

Batali looked and sounded great. The man's vocabulary is borderline obscene; the words he seems to so effortlessly pull out and insert into his ever so eloquent answers make you stop and think about what it is he just said and then realize that yes, in fact, that usage makes perfect sense, how dare I even think otherwise. Above all, he stressed the importance of simplicity, of focus, and of the quality of ingredients. Did he talk about things that I've never heard him preach before? Perhaps not. But having him sit there, a mere three feet away from me (separated by an over-eager 8 year old Birthday girl), made it beyond impactful. Batali, it turns out, really knows his stuff and you can't help but feel inferior yet empowered all at the same time in his presence.

Were you aware that he has 8 restaurants in New York City alone? I wasn't. Did you know he grew up in Seattle (And recounted the beauty of charring the crap out of a whole salmon, caught minutes prior, on the grill, cutting it through the middle and enjoying it room temperature with family. Perfection.)? Again, had no idear. And the fact that he had to say goodbye to his first restaurant Po, because his partner was addicted to heroin sent gasps followed by laughter throughout the room. But above all, Batali has proved to himself along with the rest of the world that a devotion and insistence on keeping things simple and true and pure to what you know and love, success will follow.

Monday, October 5, 2009

monday meal planning

While Summer decided to grace us with its presence yesterday, I've still got Fall on the mind. And I'm thinking a really lean, yet loaded with flavor Turkey Chili should be on the agenda for the week. Thoughts?

Brown a package of 99% fat free ground turkey in a large pot with a little olive oil for 3 minutes or so and add in all the veggies you want. I'm thinking shredded carrot, onion, red bell pepper, and garlic. (You could even slosh in a little Mexican brew ha-ha here if you felt so inclined.) Add all the chili spices your mouth can handle along with salt and allow the veggies sweat out for a few minutes until soft. Then add in some tomato paste and chipotle in adobo (about 2 tbsp. of each) and allow to cook for a minute, followed by a can of diced tomatoes and drained black beans. Stir and let it set and thicken up a bit. I'd let it go on medium-low for at least 12-15 minutes or so. When you're ready to serve be sure to top it with plenty of fresh cilantro and a few slices of cool, creamy avocado. A squeeze of lime if you have it would be even more enjoyable. Freeze half and enjoy the other half for lunch and/or dinner.


red pepper

can of diced tomatoes
can of black beans (or whichever you fancy)
small can of chipotle in adobo (freeze the leftovers in a ziploc bag)

99% fat free ground turkey


Would you believe me if I told you that I have readers reach out and ask me to post about specific things? Would you believe that said readers approach me while out at an undisclosed bar in midtown Manhattan sipping on tall boy Natty Lights and "watching" football games on a Sunday?

I just outsed myself. Eek. Don't judge. I'm already judging myself.

Anyways, apparently there's a demand for more restaurant tips. And what my adorable readers want, my adorable readers get.

While roaming lower Manhattan (and heck, Brooklyn too) on Saturday, looking for a place to sit down for a quick drink and/or bite to eat, we came to the intersection of Rivington and Ludlow. Straight ahead was 'inoteca. To the right was Spitzer's. Upon seeing 'inoteca, I immediately voted, and somehow won without opposition, for 'inoteca. The restaurant has been on my "to dine" list for well over a year. Yikes. I know. But as soon as we were seated at one of their rustic wooden tables, facing a wall of wine bottles, my companions deemed it a no go. Wine could not be consumed at this hour of the afternoon, apparently. And so we left, and walked across the street to Spitzer's instead. Their long list of artisan brews was far more enticing to my friends. Oh well. Ten minutes later, you didn't hear a complaint out of me. I was busy enjoying this:
But here's the thing: 'inoteca is my restaurant recommendation for the week. And no, I haven't eaten there yet but I have had the pleasure of sitting in there for a good 45 seconds. The somewhat small space is open yet intimate. With dark, driftwood-like tables and chairs, a Parisian-looking mirrored wine bar area and large windows that open up onto the street. The menu is simple, rustic Italian small bites; predominately paninis with antipasti offerings, bruschetta, and cheeses as well. A seemingly fantastic first date spot (casual food, casual conversation) or a place to catch up with friends with a glass of great wine and a soppressata, goat cheese and tapenade panini to boot. And at night time, when the candles are lit, the lighting is low, and the vibe starts to get going, I can imagine it will feel like a pretty darn close to perfect evening.

I'd gladly be third wheel.

98 rivington st., nr. ludlow st.

a moment of silence

Gourmet Magazine is officially closing with November being its last issue. I am beyond saddened; heartbroken. An icon, a representation of the best of the best the food and editorial world has to offer, will no longer be. The stacks upon stacks of issues I have piled under my bed, in my closet, on my bedside table, some stained from cooking processes, most with pages missing and added to my inspiration book, will be cherished always.

bedford cheese shop

A quick ride over on the L Train and we found ourselves in Williamsburg this past Saturday. With no agenda or prior research done, we roamed aimlessly throughout the area, stopping wherever we pleased. Note to self, though: next time, go with a plan. However, we did happen upon the Bedford Cheese Shop. An adorable and delightfully pungent little shop with a vast selection of cheeses, cured meats, and imported goodies. I picked up nearly everything in the store and inspected it carefully. All impeccable. All intriguing. All a little out of my price range. Then we came across a tiny sign reading "Australian Feta." "Australian Feta?" my travel buddie asked. I had no answer. No insight. Never knew it existed. And when one of the women working there saw the curious looks on our faces, she offered us a try.

There are hardly any words, really. Never will I ever be able to look at that dry, crumbly stuff again because Australian Feta? Trumps all other variations of Feta that this world has got to offer. Devastatingly creamy and not the least bit harshly tangy, the cheese sits in a bowl of silky olive oil and a few sprigs of thyme. You feel transported when it starts to melt on your tongue. Where? I don't know. But smeared onto some crispy baguette, a bottle of red and good company, you're done. Absolutely done for.

Bedford Cheese Shop

141 N 4th St., Brooklyn

Thursday, October 1, 2009

wine tasting event at cork'd

If you have even the slightest interest in wine (read: you like to drink it), you should probably, no, definitely go on over to and sign yourself up. Gary Vaynerchuk took over the website in 2007 and along with CEO Lindsay Ronga, just re-released the new and much improved version. After building my profile yesterday and quickly adding in a few reviews of wine I had recently enjoyed, I started corresponding with someone who worked at Cork'd and within an hour, Gary had given me a shout-out for one of my reviews. This triggered a minor euphoric episode which was further enriched by an invitation to a private wine tasting event at the Cork'd offices last night. Could I attend?

Gimme the deets.

So at 8:30pm sharp we were over at their urban chic Tribeca offices, starting our flight of tastings. The 2007 Summers Reserve Chardonnay, 2007 Terlato Family Pinot Grigio, 2006 Goldschmidt Vyborny Vineyard Cabernet, and the 2007 Chelsea Goldschmidt Merlot.
What's special about being involved in such an intimate tasting environment (besides sitting next to the CEO and comparing tasting notes), is the ability to speak up. To really open up and converse about what it is you're smelling, tasting, experiencing. And you know what? It feels pretty amazing. To not be intimidated. To not second guess yourself. To say whatever it is that comes to mind. Because when it comes down to it? With wine, you really can't be wrong. It's such an incredibly complex and inspirationally rousing libation that encourages conversation and an open mind and palate.

You're thinking I'm over-thinking. You're thinking I'm romancing this a bit too much. And now you're thinking, maybe, just maybe, I'm on to something.

You're also thinking, free wine tastings? I'm in. So go on and join Cork'd. Start tasting. Start thinking, or not thinking, and start writing down these thoughts and non-thoughts and you'll be amazed at what comes out of you. If anything, you'll get a night getting to know new people and enjoy some pretty great wine. And if you're lucky, a shout out from Mr. Gary V.

Thanks Lindsay and Jon for a fabulous little evening.


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