Monday, November 30, 2009


Let me preface this by saying that I think I experienced the most gluttonous long weekend of my entire life. I've never, ever been one to advocate crash diets but I might be glancing in that direction this week. Or at least drastically decreasing my solid food intake and O.D.-ing on diet coke, seltzer, and iced coffees.

Insane? Absolutely. Likely? Not reeeeally.

So yesterday, to keep on with the "throw all caution to the wind and continue to eat whatever you damn well please" we happened upon Craftbar. After perusing ABC Home followed by Fish's Eddy for new stemless wine glasses with my mom, she spotted Craftbar out of the corner of her eye. "How about that for lunch?"

How about that for lunch?! We were seated in a corner booth near the back and presented with their menu printed on brown craft paper for Sunday, November 29th (changes daily). I noted, with a bit of hesitation, that I'd never done any research on the restaurant and/or their menu. Something that I hadn't realized till then was a bit unnerving to me when in reality, it should be thrilling.

We decided to split the following: white anchovy bruschetta with slow poached egg and leeks, Spanish octopus with fingerling potatoes and lemon confit puree, and the veal and ricotta meatballs.

Not often (although more often than not as of late) am I blown away by food. And I mean really, truly, OMFG, I can't believe how unfreakingbelievably delicious everything is that I'm eating. But yesterday afternoon, I had one of those moments. The bruschetta could not have been more perfectly up my alley if it had tried. The briny, slightly sweet white anchovies mixed with the soft, silky slow poached eggs, hints of muted onion via the leeks, all served atop the epitome of perfectly toasted country bread. I could have been served two or three of these and called it a day. A week. A month! This was my perfect bite of 2009. Yes. I said it.

The Spanish octopus, too, was delectable. Not a hint of chewiness, the meat was gorgeously tender and quite substantial when paired up with a piece of fingerling potato, some delicately dressed baby arugula, and a swipe through the lemon puree. If the first dish was an A (are A+'s allowed?), I'd grade this an A-.

Lastly, the veal and ricotta meatballs arrived at our table and they were absolutely just that. Impeccably seasoned, and ridiculously juicy, I don't think I've ever encountered a meatball quite as good. Even the tomato sauce was mind boggling because of it's simplicity. There were very few ingredients going on (that I could detect) but each and every one was of such pristine quality, that little else was needed. If my stomach had allowed me to, I wouldn't have left a drop in the bowl.

But alas, my weekend food fest had finally started to catch up with me. I was officially stuffed. And thank God.

Tom Colicchio, it seems, knows absolutely what he's doing. Not that I ever really had a glimmer of a doubt, but everything was solidified upon dining at one of his many establishments. Craftbar, my friends, is kind of phenomenal. I can't wait until the next time I'm able to indulge.

That is, after this upcoming anti-solid food phase is over.

900 Broadway

swedish lunch for three

Tucked into a side street in South Norwalk, CT, and you'll find Scandia Food & Gifts. A tiny little shop filled with all things Scandinavian. From herring to lingonberries, gingersnaps to Santa Lucia crowns, you'll find it all here.

Recently, they started serving lunch and we couldn't be happier with the addition. The menu consists of a selection of open-faced sandwiches and a couple of other various Swedish treats and I love to accompany whatever it is I order with one of their black currant sparkling drinks. This time around, we had the Swedish meatballs sandwich with beet salad, a salami and cucumber sandwich, and a Swedish hot dog (so not your average dog; snappiest casing, uber flavorful spice combination).

The room is warm, cozy, and inviting and so is the food. A great little escape in the most unassuming of neighborhoods, I urge any and all of you in the area to make an afternoon of it.


Scandia Food & Gifts

30 High St., Norwalk, CT

the thanksgiving spread

So remember that whole rant I had before Thanksgiving about how this year I was doing away with the godforsaken turkey? About how it's perpetually and inevitably dry? About how I couldn't care less about tradition and screw it I was making roasted chicken?

Well, you see, things, err, changed.

The mother bought a turkey and I was forced to forfeit. So straight to Cook's Illustrated I turned (do you still hate bloggers, Chris Kimball? I'm about to put you on a pedestal) for what I hoped would be a foolproof turkey recipe. It would brine in salt water overnight then would be brushed with butter. Breast side down and into a 400 degree oven, it roasted for 40 minutes and then was flipped (let's just say thank god no one was watching me do this. but, kiira 1, turkey 0) and roasted for another hour until the breast meat registered 165 degrees F.

Then it just sat on the counter for a few hours, covered loosely with foil, while I put everything else together for the meal.

Now look. I'm sorry, but the turkey was freaking unbelievable. Never have I ever experienced (nor thought it was remotely possible) such tender, such juicy, such flavorful turkey. Get rid of every other recipe printed or torn from various magazines (as I just did) and replace them all with this one. You too will be in awe.

On to battle #2: Oysters. Now, I'm an absolute oyster lover. Every Sunday that I get the chance, I love to pop on over to the Lobster Place on Bleecker Street and have them shuck me an oyster of my choosing on the spot. Squeeze of lemon, throw 'em back. But that's not to say that I've ever purchased them and shucked them myself. But after all the hard work and the three little guys that were most unfortunately lost in battle + 1 knife (yikes, Kiira), they most certainly were worth it. Gorgeous and down right truly special tasting, a guest so generously noted "these are the best oysters I've ever had in my life."

That said, I don't see myself shucking my own oysters again any time in the near future.

And now, I'll politely shut up and allow you to take a look at this year's Thanksgiving spread.

The end.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

vacation eats

What do you do when you've got a beach front condo equipped with a kitchen (albeit one with one usable knife, a serrated bread knife, and a glass cutting board the size of a piece of paper) and a limited food budget for the week? Why you cook in of course. And let me just say, we had a week's worth of extremely yummy and totally easy eats. Which meant 99% of our time was devoted to being slaves to the sun and the other 1% was focused on the anticipation of our next great meal.

And/or cocktail.

chicken fajitas marinated in lime, cilantro, garlic served in flour tortillas with shredded iceberg, red onion, tomato, and avocado

grilled steak served atop mediterranean orzo salad: cucumber, tomato, red onion, feta, parsley

miki's famous asian green beans and mushrooms with sweet soy glaze

monstrous muenster-topped burgers with all the fixin's

the last supper: linguine with shrimp, white wine, lemon, and parsley and a garden salad

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Ok, I have to share this. I literally just received the following email from my mom just seconds after pressing "Publish Post."

Ingrid Leess to me show details 10:18 AM
K... i got turkey yesterday... on sale at Stop and Shop... i'll make it if you are nervous....

And there we have it folks. Turkey it is. I mean at this point, I'm just laughing. Out loud.

(no) turkey day

Alright so time is flying and it's already that time of the year again. The one day where everyone in America is focused on one thing and one thing only: dinner. Which quite frankly is my focus every other 364 days of the year but hey, whatever. In fact, it's kind of odd. The Thanksgiving meal is not one that particularly moves me. There's almost too much tradition involved that it doesn't leave room for anything new or creative. But I get it. It's a comfy meal because it's consistent. And we all love a little consistency in our lives wherever we can get it. And if it happens to be by ways of Pepperidge Farm Stuffing in a bag, well, then so be it.

But here's the thing. This year's Thanksgiving crowd has dwindled to a somewhat sad number. Three (now four). And actually, that's quite alright because I'm taking this year as an opportunity to say goodbye to the turkey.

How many of you did I lose on that bold statement? Hear me out though. Last year, I went through the trouble (willingly, of course) of brining the bird for a solid 36+ hours then roasting it breast side down first (which apparently also maximizes juiciness) then flipped it back over, basted it with its juices, etc. I did everything humanly possible to make sure that last year's turkey would not come out dry. And while it might have been slightly juicier than in years past, slightly is the operative word here. All that work for not nearly enough in return.

Fact of the matter is, turkey is almost always inevitably dry. And it's something that I think a lot of people forgive because they can drown it in gravy and pull the "but it's tradition card." But here's my argument: I want what I put out to be the absolute best that it can possibly be. Always. And if that means by throwing some chickens into the oven to roast just until they're perfectly crispy on the outside and tender, flavorful, and JUICY on the inside, then that's what I'm going to do. All the "traditional" sides will be there to make us all feel like we're playing along with the holiday minus some trytophan-induced drowsiness.

So after that long winded but required explanation, this year's spread will be as follows:

Oysters Danish Style with Cucumber and Pickled-Shallot Relish (Daniel Boulud recipe from New York Magazine)
One or two soft, slightly stinky cheeses served with grapes and sliced apple

Main Event:
Roasted Chicken with Orange, Lemon, Garlic, and Sage
Ing's Mashed Potatoes
Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries (last year's biggest hit. make these!)
Homemade Cranbery Sauce with Orange Zest
Baby Greens with Bosc Pear and Goat Cheese dressed with Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette

Obligatory Pumpkin Pie (and one of the only sweets I indulge in)

So who's stepping up this year and helping in the kitchen? My hope is for all of you to contribute to at least one dish that you can proudly present at the table to your family and friends. Whether it's one of the recipes shown above or one of your own, I'd love to hear what's going to be dished up on your plate this year.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2009

crush it! review mashup

Let me know if you notice a certain someone who appears a couple times in this video, delivering well thought out and entertaining commentary.


Thanks, Matt! (follow him @mattsito)

Friday, November 13, 2009

adios (but not for long)

So, I'm going to be ditching y'all for a little bit for the snapshot above. And can you blame me? This girl's taking a well deserved (if I do say so myself) full week vacation to sunny Florida where I will unfortunately and fortunately be without internet. My fellow vacationer, Megan, has also threatened to lock all of our Blackberries in a drawer. Suffice it to say, I will be sure to find said drawer and update you as much as I can via Twitter (follow me @kiirabritt) when Megan's not looking.

Needless to say, I will miss you. But know that come Monday, November 23rd, I'll be refreshed, bronzed, and rip roaring to go with exciting, innovative, and seriously entertaining posts. While we'll be cooking the majority of our meals in our kitchen-equipped beach front condo (don't hate me), there will be a night out at a local seafood shack on the water that I can't wait to try.

And of course a visit to the local Manatee Conservation Center. I'm a lover of the Manatee. Little known fact.

And on that note, have a fabulous week!

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Well, I kinda sorta made it to Inoteca last weekend by way of 'ino, its little sister/brother who lives on Bedford Street. 'ino is an itty bitty wine bar and cafe featuring an Italian wine list, antipasti, paninis, salads, and tramezzini. We stopped by late Sunday afternoon for a small bite and a glass (or three) of wine and were happy with the cozy experience. Yes, it's tight so go with people you like and be prepared to get semi-involved with the conversations happening next to you (i.e. a middle aged woman confiding in her friend to try and "decode" an invitation to Paris from a man: "are we sharing a room or booking separate? is he into me romantically? what does this all mean?" OHH the trials and tribulations of being a girl.)

That said, I wouldn't recommend 'ino as a first date kind of place; more like a third, fourth, or fifth (hats off) date place or a spot to catch up with a good friend. Good food (we split the fennel and arugula salad, the cacciatorini, red onion and tomato tramezzini, and the soppressata, fontina and rucola panini), good wine (half bottle of verdicchio, half bottle of sangiovese) and an intimate, cozy atmosphere all add up to a totally decent experience.

21 bedford st.

in season: kale

I'm a big fan of dark, leafy greens. I can't go a day, really, without a big bowl of baby greens or at least some served up along side whatever it is I'm eating. I'm not one of those people who needs their salad on a separate plate. No siree. Being able to swirl a little bit of the dressing in and amongst the rest of the other yummy tidbits on my plate is all part of creating my perfect bite. I realize, however, there are a lot of you who are on the other side of that argument.

Oh well. Can't win 'em all. Even though I'm fairly confident that if I had you over for dinner, I could totally change your mind.

Kale is a seriously hearty green that all too often gets the shaft by being solely used as decoration or a bed for something on a platter. But the thing is, this veggie packs serious nutrients. I apologize for getting all nerdy on you, but kale contains Vitamins A, C, K; fiber; cancer-preventing compounds sulforaphane, isothiocyanate and indoles; as well as a significant amount of Vitamin B6 and calcium.

If you're still reading (and I really hope you are), it also holds up incredibly well to a variety of cooking processes which means even when cooked, it retains a lot of its bite and integrity. And I'm all about texture.

So besides the whole it's good for you thing, it can also be seriously delicious. I'm a huge salad lover in all its incarnations, so here are two options I found to be particularly lovely sounding: one cold and one warm.

A Warm Sweet Potato and Kale Salad (loving the dijon, red wine vinegar, maple syrup play. butternut squash could certainly replace the sweet potato too.) and A Greek Kale Salad (I'm a slave to Mediterranean food).

We're right in the heart of kale season as it thrives during the fall and winter. And when something's in season it almost always means it's going to be affordable. So pick up a bunch, try out one of these salads, or whip up something of your own. Either way, you'll be doing your body and your belly a favor.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I'm thinking about starting a new list of posts filed under a "WTF" category. And for the first WTF post, I bring you this little gem I came across at my local produce market this weekend:

WTF is a Maxican Pepper? Not only is this casually politically incorrect but I just don't understand the need to package 12+ Maxican Peppers (read: jalapenos) instead of selling them individually. I picked it up and looked at the lady at the register with a "WTF?" kind of look followed by "who buys this many jalapenos?" to which she responded "I don't know. Restaurants?"

This is a produce bodega. Not a restaurant purveyor.

Either way, fix your labels. And your jalapenos-sold-only-by-the-package rule too, as it caused my Sunday Brunch homefries to suffer a bit.

Monday, November 9, 2009

maximizing the microwave

After arriving at my friend Megan's apartment on Saturday night, with the makings of a fabulous little dinner for three, I was startled to hear that the stove was not working. Wait, what? How am I supposed to make a pot of rice with a gas-less gas stove?!

I glanced at the back of my box of Carolina rice to see, much to my apprehension and casual abhorrence, Microwave Directions.

I glanced over at Megan with a, "Welp, screw it," kind of look and a shrug of the shoulders as I started to fill my microwave-safe tupperware with water, a pat of butter, salt, and the uncooked rice. Worse comes to worse, we'd just have to enjoy a carb-less meal. Meh. Oh well.

After five minutes on high and then 15 minutes on 50% power, I opened the microwave door, frightened at what the final product would look like. Visions of dried out, hard pieces of rice filled my head. I slowly lifted the lid and began to inspect the rice...

It was some of the most perfect, fluffy, slightly sticky, rice cooker-style white rice I've ever made. I was beaming at this new found discovery which I had doubted, relentlessly, for the entire 20 minute trip it took in the microwave. Rice, for whatever reason, has always been a sort of Achilles Heel for me. Embarrassing, really, but it's just one of those things I feel like I don't have enough control over. Add the rice, stir, put lid on, cross your fingers and hope to God it doesn't stick and burn to the bottom of the pan. But fear no longer. Never did I ever think I'd default to Microwave Directions but you guys? It delivers a near perfect product.

Give it a shot. I think you'll be just as pleasantly surprised as I was. If not more.

But not more than Michelle. Because after taking a bite of my Asian Pork Tenderloin, Michelle, my friends, had eyes welled up with tears. She was having an ethereal food moment.

Hate to toot my own horn in front of you all. But. Toot, toot.

DIY sunday brunch

After a relatively low-key night on Saturday, I was up and at 'em early on Sunday morning after a deliciously gorgeous nights sleep. So off to the produce market I ran to pick up some potatoes and an onion to make a slightly boozy brunch for myself and two friends. Soft boiled eggs with velvety runny yolks, slightly spicy and uber flavorful chipotle-onion home fries, and buttered toast. Obligatory screwdrivers were most definitely poured as well. Is there any better way to start the day? I think not. As the rest of the afternoon was spent roaming around the city, sitting and staring (in a completely ok way) at little kids carelessly running around with glee in a no longer in service Washington Square Fountain, a late afternoon stop at 'ino, and a wind down evening filled with two of my favorite gals, vino, and leftover pork tenderloin translated into gyro's (whole wheat pitas, homemade tzatziki, lettuce, red onion, tomato, bam). Sometimes, I really, really love Sunday's.

donna's surprise

On Friday night, we all gathered at my Mom's house for a huge surprise celebration: Donna's 50th Birthday. With most of the catering being taken care of by our all time favorite sushi place, Little Tokyo, the house was transformed into the ultimate party hall. Donna's face lovingly plastered over any and all surfaces, fantastic lanterns dressed the table, and amazingly good food and drinks were passed and poured all night, without stop.

Surprise parties, or parties in general, should really be thrown more often.

Happy Birthday, Donna. We love you so much.

Quickly seared Tuna drizzle with Spicy Mayo, Tobiko, and Scallions
Oysters topped with Scallions, Ponzu, and Sriracha

Yellowtail with Ponzu, Spicy Crab Salad with Cucumber
Paris's Crimson Champagne Cocktail: Cranberry syrup steeped with star anise and cinnamon, a dash of brandy, and topped with champagne

Hoisin Pork Tenderloin with Asian Slaw

Henry's Lobster: Chunks of Lobster in shell, flash cooked in wok with slivers of ginger and whole scallions

Me, Ing, and Donna the Birthday Girl


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