Tuesday, August 31, 2010

weekend dinner party: labor day

Heavens to Betsy (what?). It's Labor Day. Again. Already! I keep letting out long, exaggerated sighs in hopes of proving a point (to no one, as I sit here, alone). I'm not happy Summer is over. In fact, I'm angry. Arms crossed. Lips pursed. Crinkled forehead. A look of overall stern disappointment clearly written across my face. My indisputable favorite time of the year is coming to an end and I'm not the least bit ready to let go. Have I mentioned I'm not good with change? Oh. You've noticed? Ok, then. I'm okay with that. I don't mind my flaws out in the open on display for all to see. [Hard swallow.]

As I wipe away the solitary tear rolling down my tan, freckled cheek, I want to bid adieu to the glorious and fleeting Summer with a menu that was as carefree, blissful, and spirited as the season itself.

crab crostini with cucumber and jalapeno
pomegranate-lemongrass vodka cordial
or Grower Champagne

sweet soy-grilled short ribs
coconut sticky rice with cilantro
mango-red cabbage slaw
Sparkling Rosé or Syrah

nectarine-blackberry cobbler

Jon Troutman from Cork'd dishes on the wine pairings:

"Because crostini are often served as finger food at large parties and celebration, my mind automatically goes to bubbles. The pairing works well. One, because you'd be hard pressed to find a time when Champagne doesn't fit a situation. Two, because shellfish and buttery vessels, like crostini both scream for Champagne. Check out "Grower Champagne," produced by small family farmers. They deliver big time value when compared to better known brand names. (Read more here.)

Syrah is a killer pairing for richer beef dishes like short ribs. Go for New World styled Syrah--something from either the U.S., Australia, or South Africa. These wines tend to have brighter fruits, which pair nicely with the sweeter-styled marinade. Need some specific pairings? Hereare a couple of Syrahs to look for."

And if you need any convincing as to why sparkling rosé and ribs are quite possibly one of the best pairings, well, ever, click here and read up.

This crab crositini was one of the most memorable parts of my meal at Locanda Verde and I mentioned it again in April when I tried to recreate it in Vieques. Long story short: seek out good quality jumbo lump crab meat. The less expensive canned stuff just doesn't really cut it (though can be used in a pinch). The execution is simple: toss the crab meat with a tiny bit of mayo and lime zest. Slice a baguette on the bias into rounds and grill them. As soon as you've taken them off the grill, rub with garlic and a cut tomato. Then top with a spoonful of the crab and a razor thin slice of cucumber and jalapeno. The combination is other-worldly. No doubt that you'll agree.

Pomegranate-Lemongrass Vodka Cordial

In a small pot, combine a stalk or two of fresh lemongrass (chopped into 3-inch pieces or so) and 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil then remove from heat and allow to cool. Discard lemongrass and pour the "tea" into a large pitcher. Add pomegranate juice (I suggest a regular-sized bottle) and stir. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add 1 jigger of vodka and then pour in the pomegranate-lemongrass tea. Shake, strain, and serve immediately.

The sweet soy-grilled short recipe is courtesy of Stephen Raichlen of Barbecue University. Trust me when I say: Trust him.
Mango-Red Cabbage Slaw
Serves 4-6

1 small head of red cabbage, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
2 mangoes, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
2 tbsp. mayonnaise
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, combine the red cabbage, mango, and red onion. For the dressing, in a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, rice wine vinegar, and sugar. Slowly whisk in the canola oil. Pour dressing over the cabbage, mango, and red onion and toss. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Coconut Sticky Rice
Serves 4 to 6

4 cups unsweetened coconut milk (about 2 cups, supplement any shortcomings with water)
2 cups of white rice
1 3-inch nub of peeled fresh ginger
1 tbsp. salted butter
1 tsp. salt
fresh cilantro, roughly chopped, for garnish

In a medium-sized pot, combine the coconut milk, ginger, and butter, and bring to a boil. Add in the rice, stir, put the lid on and turn down the heat to low. Set the timer for 18 minutes and allow to cook, untouched. After 18 minutes, stir any excess liquid sitting at the top into the rice (it should be very creamy) and taste for seasoning. Place in a large serving bowl and top with fresh cilantro.

Nectarine-Blackberry Crumble
Serves 6

1 stick of salted butter, melted
1 cup plus 3 tbsp. granulated sugar, divided
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 nectarines, peeled, pitted, and sliced
1 small container of blackberries
1 tsp. grated orange zest

Heat oven to 375F.

Pour melted butter into a 2-quart baking dish.

In a mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of the sugar, the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir to blend. Stir in the milk and vanilla until blended. Pour the batter over the melted butter.

Toss the nectarines and blackberries with remaining 3 tbsp. of sugar and then pour on top of the batter.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. The top will be browned and the cake will begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Serve with a little heavy cream, whipped cream, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

iittala champagne flutes

As evidenced, I got camera happy. But look, I'm a proud new Mommy. The Iittala Senta Champagne Flutes pictured below are now mine and have found a happy new home on my bar table. These don't get hidden away in the cabinet. Oh, no. These beauties are on display. Their sleek, sophisticated, and decidedly Scandinavian shape, out in the open, for all to see, like artwork.

And the start of a collection. A mix of champagne flutes, old and new, to delicately cheers when the time is right for bubbles. Congratulatory or otherwise. The time is always right for bubbles.

For a set of Iittala Senta Champagne Flutes, click here to purchase from AllModern.com

Full Disclosure: Iittala Champagne Flutes generously provided by AllModern.com (of CSNStores). All opinions are 100% my own.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

weekend picnic pour deux

It's coming down in sheets outside. Of this, I am aware. But after today, we're looking at over a week straight of unadulterated sunshine and comfortable temperatures. And you know what that means? Grab the Pendelton blanket and some disposable dining ware. It's time for a picnic. For two.

saucisson et beurre baguette sandwiches
fingerling potato salad with mustard-shallot-tarragon vinaigrette
la tur (cow-sheep-goat's milk cheese) with sliced peaches
2009 La Vieille Ferme Cotes du Ventoux Red

the best "homemade" brownies you've ever had
Vin Doux Naturel Rasteau

If you haven't had the chance to pick up a saucisson et beurre baguette on the streets of Paris and then leisurely walk around the Marais while munching, I'm sincerely sorry. Add that to your bucket list. I don't know who had the genius (albeit initially peculiar) idea of smearing sweet butter on a french baguette and then topping it with thinly sliced saucisson sec (sopressata salami) and halved gherkins but I would like to hug them. Maybe even slip them a kiss. Or a friendly tap on the derriere. Because this sandwich blows my mind every time I get the chance to wrap my hands around the toothsome treat. The combination est absolument parfait.

Whip up this mayo-free potato salad the day before the best picnic of your life as it will only get better over night. Then pack it up in some to-go containers, throw an ice-pack into the basket, the cheese and sliced fruit on top of that, the baguette sandwiches wrapped ever so chic-ly in parchment paper and tied off with twine, and slip your wine into some paper bags (what open container laws?). I'm now fidgeting in my seat with anticipation for this weekend. Tapping my foot like an impatient child. Picnics, evidently, excite me.

Jon Troutman from Cork'd explains the wines you should be brown-bagging alongside:

"A weekend picnic calls for good wines, but nothing too fancy. Just no frills, easy drinking wines...you wouldn't serve Carlos Rossi with higher end cuisine, so why would you serve Grand Cru wines with sandwiches and potato salad? Of course, even inexpensive wines should jive with the menu. That's why these are the perfect choices:

Sandwiches: an intensely flavored, salty meat like sopressata and potato salad calls for a savory, meaty wine. That's why wines from the Southern Rhone, largely made from the Grenache grape, are the perfect pairing. These wines have a signature gamey, meaty quality that will jive just right with these sandwiches. La Vieille Ferme red wine falls in this category and with a price tag under $10, it's easy to see why it's so popular and highly scoring. Click here for more.

Brownies: Port and Maderia are the most popular choices with chocolate...but it's also played out worse than women in skirts and Uggs. Try a Vin Doux Naturel Rasteau, made in a similar style to the aforementioned, but with a much more attractive price tag. Learn more about the wines here."


fingerling potato salad with mustard-shallot vinaigrette (add a few teaspoons of chopped fresh tarragon)
saucisson et beurre baguette sandwiches: On good quality baguette, spread one side with sweet, unsalted butter then layer on thin slices of saucisson sec and halved gherkins. Bon Appetit.
best "homemade" brownies you've ever had: I cannot take any credit for this tip, it all goes to my mom. Prepare a box of Betty Crocker's Supreme Brownie Mix (the one with the Hershey's on the box) with melted salted butter instead of oil. This will yield the most unbelievable brownies you've ever had in your entire life. Oh, I went there. And I'm going there with total confidence. A dusting of powdered sugar and a few raspberries never hurt, either.

Enjoy this one, mes petites. It's one for the books. C'est vrai.

Image above courtesy of StarChefs.com

Sunday, August 22, 2010


No words, really, other than this was inevitably the best meal of the entire Summer--and I've had quite a few memorable moments these past couple of months. Startlingly simple but quintessentially Summer in New England.

Steamed lobster and corn on the cob, new potato salad with chives, dill, and shallots, and a bibb lettuce salad with avocado and red onion. Drawn butter (not optional) on the side. And that bottle of Jean A. B. Sauvignon Blanc? Cue the nervous-by-way-of-sheer-joy laughter. Because I didn't know how else to react.

It might have come later than anticipated this year, but I successfully got my lobster dinner in before Summer's end. Next up? The perfect lobster roll.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

sardinian blood orange mojito

It's Thursday. Thirsty yet? Sip on this.

A Sardinian Blood Orange Mojito. (And do yourself a favor and click on that link and scroll through some serious envy-inducing photography courtesy of Design*Sponge)

2 bunches of mint
1 cup fresh squeezed blood orange juice
2 shots of rum
2 tbsp. sugar
juice of 1 lime
1 cup of ice
shaker and muddler

Add mint, lime juice, and sugar to shaker.
Muddle the ingredients until the mint is well crushed.
Add rum, blood orange juice, and ice.
Shake well and serve garnished with remaining mint and a slice of lime.

Heaven. Absolute Sardinian Heaven.

Photo courtesy of Dia Rao via Design*Sponge

weekend dinner party

Are you familiar with Donna Hay? She's an Australia-based food stylist, author, and magazine editor with a number of cookbooks under her belt all of which boast some of the most beautiful food photography I've ever come across. Every issue of Donna Hay Magazine is filled with page after page of frame-worthy images and downright inspirational recipes. You know, the Pan-Asian (Thai, Vietnamese) influence found in the Australian food scene really excites me. It's punchy and vibrant without over-doing it. And chilis and limes always seem to find their way to the party. To be honest, if it weren't for the excruciatingly long plane ride (uneasy flier, here), I could see myself spending a good chunk of time down under. I just dig the whole vibe.

Not sure how I've gone this long without slipping a Donna Hay recipe in here or there, but let's make up for lost time. She's the culinary genius behind this week's weekend dinner party menu (and Jon Troutman of Cork'd with the wine pairings).

zucchini, feta, and chili bruschetta
Gruner Veltliner

lemon and dill smoked salmon pasta
Cru Beaujolais

rockmelon sherbet

"Austrian wine is coming on stronger than Fall Fashion in New York City. In particular, their native specialty Gruner Veltliner has sent shockwaves through the wine nerd community over the last few years. This is an amazingly food friendly grape that's perfect for some summer-styled bruschetta. The chili and spicy nature of the bruschetta is a perfect partner for Gruner Veltliner, because the grape leaves you with a distinctly peppery, spicy finish. Match made in heaven!

Salmon is the most flexible of fishes, easily paired with either red or white wine. With Fall quickly approaching and your white wine collection depleting quicker than Lindsay Lohan's stash, I suggest going with a red. A Cru Beaujolais from France's Burgundy region is the perfect match, with its fruit forward flavor profile and lightweight mouthfeel. Look for 2009 vintage wines, which just hit shelves--it was one of the region's best years ever!"

Doesn't that just sound lovely? Not a lot of steps or ingredients or multiple fussy courses. Just a straight-forward but undeniably charming and vivacious spread. Friday (as per usual) couldn't come soon enough.


Top photo courtesy of Chris Court
Bottom photo courtesy of William Meppem

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

2009 yalumba "y" series viognier

Picked up a bottle of this 2009 Yalumba "Y" Series Viognier last night at Chelsea Wine Vault and for $9.99, this is an absolute no-brainer. Wet stone and a fennel-thing on the nose. Bright green apple, ripping acidity, and faint honeysuckle on the palate. Crisp, refreshing, and with a certain level of intrigue. I smiled with every sip.

I urge you to seek this out.

a housewarming gift

A co-worker of mine gave me the loveliest housewarming gift last week: a basket of cherry tomatoes from his garden. How sweet is that? I must admit, I smile every time I glance their way. And then inevitably pop one or two or three in my mouth. They're every bit as gorgeously delicious as they look.

Monday, August 16, 2010

a personal favorite i've yet to share

I just had to do a massive archive search because I thought, there's no way in Hades I haven't shared this recipe with you yet. It's one that I make...often. I'm talking at least once a month. Heck, I've entertained with it. And yet, I've kept it to myself all this time? But...how?

I'll tell you how. I'll even tell you why. And it's not going to reflect positively on me. But here goes. I don't like the name of the recipe. I don't even really love the concept. It's borderline kitschy. And not in a cool, retro way. And at first glance, could not be less gourmet. Think casseroles. Think Betty Crocker. I'm afraid those don't really fit in here on Eat + Greet.

But here's the thing: It's damn good. How good? Re-read the first paragraph of this post.

I've tried coming up with different names but there's no beating around the bush here. What I'm about to share with you is a recipe for...Mexican Lasagna [cringes].

I've yet to serve this up to someone who hasn't raved (no joke) and it's the perfect thing to make on a Monday and have in the fridge to re-heat for lunch and/or dinner for the next couple of days. Because miraculously, I never seem to get sick of doubling up on this dish. It's just that...good. Better yet, it's made with ground turkey and lots of grated up veggies which make it kinda guilt-free even though it tastes anything but. Give it a try. And hey, dudes: this is a good one for you fellas. Do it.

Mexican Lasagna

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 pkg. ground turkey (93% fat free)
1 zucchini, grated
1 large or 2 small carrots, peeled and grated
1 yellow onion, finely diced
3 cloves of garlic, grated
2 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. chipotle in adobo
7-8 flour tortillas (8 inches)
1 pkg. reduced fat shredded cheddar

optional toppings: chopped avocado, tomatoes, and scallions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat a large high-sided skillet over medium high heat with olive oil. Add the ground turkey and brown, 5 minutes. Add the grated vegetables and garlic. Season the mixture with chili powder, chipotle in adobo, and some salt, and cook 5-6 minutes more to soften vegetables. Grease a baking pan (8x13) with a little oil. Layer in 3 overlapping flour tortillas and top with 1/3 of the meat-veggie mixture, and 1/3 of the grated cheese. Repeat the layers twice and bake for about 7-8 minutes to melt the cheese. Top with scallions, avocado, and tomatoes, cut into squares, and serve.

soccarat paella bar

Paella is one of those dishes you can't just wing. I mean, I don't doubt that some of you are capable of doing it, but, there's nothing worse than a mediocre paella. It's kind of like mediocre sushi. You just don't want to go there. So there's really no surprise as to why I haven't sought out paella since I was in the south of Spain.

Four years ago.

Insane, right? But I just couldn't risk marring the perfection of my fond memories of having paella in Marbella. The creamy, almost risotto-like rice, punched up with tons of lemon zest and a hint of saffron perfume with razor clams and mussels and squid and pieces of white fish and I just couldn't have added or taken away a single element of the dish to improve the experience. It's a truly humbling dish.

So when I had the opportunity to visit Soccarat Paella bar with two lovely ladies, I was, at first, a bit nervous. How would this paella compare?

But first, let's oogle over some wine, shall we?

And more specifically, let's talk about Albarino. Back in June, I was lucky enough to attend the Albarino Food and Wine Pairing Event hosted by W.R. Tish, who praised Albarino for its acidity. And its acidity is what makes it a dream pairing for food. I know I've been singing the praises of Riesling ad nauseum (and hey, it's for good reason) but Albarino plays the same sort of game on your palate. A citrusy zing to add that perfect amount of vibrancy to your meal. And the one pictured above did that gorgeously.

Oh and the paella? Let's just say that whole "fear" flew right out the door as soon as this handsome paella was ushered to our table. Flavor for days. Every element cooked just right. And when chased with a sip of Marqués de Vizhoja Albarino? Game over, my friends. Game. Over.

259 W 19th St.

Friday, August 13, 2010

blind riesling tasting

Some congratulatory bubbles to start the night off right.

Get ready for the shocker of the century. But, prior to last night, I had never been to a blind tasting before. Let alone host one. So when the opportunity presented itself to throw down on some Rieslings from around the world with a few of my favorite wine-o's, not only was I all in, but I was immediately offering up my place as the venue. Because if you're not christening your new digs with bubbles and Riesling, then you're doing it wrong.

And after snacking on a few pieces of grilled pizza I'd whipped up (you didn't think I was going to host a get together and not serve some incarnation of grilled pizza, did you?), we secretly slipped our bottles into brown paper bags, assigned a number to each, and got to tasting. And tweeting. Simultaneously.

Does it get any nerdier? If so, I don't want to know about it.

Everyone volunteered a region to represent--a notion I strongly recommend so as to experience a wider range of the varietal and to save yourself from doubling-up on anything. While most gravitated towards Germany, Austria, and Alsace, the rookie in the room (yours truly) gave a Hell Yeah to the Finger Lakes. A bold choice, perhaps, and one that was quickly sniffed out by the savants. Did I really think I could fool them? Ok. So I kind of thought I could fool them.

Turns out I couldn't fool 'em.

Kristen "KMurph" Murphy of Wine Library showed Professor Troutman up by giving us a rundown of the Riesling varietal after we'd tasted our way through all six wines. I suggest you hire her for any and all future tastings. Girlfriend knows her juice.

Long story not-so-short, get some friends together (they don't have to be wine connoisseurs, they just have to like to drink--or spit--wine), pick a varietal out of a hat, and run with it. I'll tell you this much: you're guaranteed a good--no, great--time.

Just practice safe double-baggage. Professor's orders.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

weekend dinner party

Mmmmmm. Mojito.

Perhaps it's because now that my handsome grill pan is finally where it belongs (permanently fixed atop my stove), I can't help but want to use it as often as I can. So while thinking about what to put together for this week's weekend dinner party, I couldn't help but default to how I could incorporate the usage of my new favorite kitchen "tool." That said, we're going to turn the grill pan into a panini press. Because we're throwing down with some Cubans.

Cuban sandwiches that is. But by all means, invite your Cuban friends over too. Hopefully they won't pick apart the lack of authenticity too much. Because if you couldn't tell by now, I'm not of Cuban descent. Gonna shut up now. Moving right along.

cuban sandwiches
avocado salad
plantain chips
mojitos or cuba libres

pineapple with rum and mint over coconut ice cream

There are so many different ways you can go with the Cuban sandwiches: Ham, Pork, Swiss, Pickles, Yellow Mustard (or Dijon), Mayo (or no mayo), Mojo (garlic) sauce (or no mojo sauce). So as per usual, I'm just going to advise you go for the combo that best suits your palate. If you're not up for roasting your own pork loin, I suggest searing a pork tenderloin (marinate it in orange and lime juice, garlic, and olive oil for as long as you'd like) and finishing it off in the oven for a few minutes. It'll be done, start to finish (minus marinating time) in about 15 minutes. No big deal at all. Let it rest, then thinly slice it and it's ready for sandwich assembly (along with thinly sliced deli ham, thinly sliced swiss, pickles, and your choice of dressings). Find some soft, long hoagie-type rolls and get to building. Then lightly grease the grill pan lay them on top and place a heavy cast iron skillet, weighed down with a can or two on top and let them crisp up and lovingly melt the cheese (about 3 or 4 minutes per side). Here's a really basic recipe as a guideline.

Plantain chips? You can buy these. I suggest you buy them. You won't see me hovering over a huge pot of frying oil any time soon. I'm schvitzing enough as it is just standing still in this humidity.

Avocado salad. Slice some perfectly ripe avocados, lay them over some torn iceberg lettuce, along with thinly sliced red onion, and thick slices of tomato. Squeeze some lime juice on top, a little drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. That's not a recipe. That's common sense.

And dessert? Pick up a container of cubed pineapple (it's Summer, let's make things easy), dump them into a bowl, splash a little (or a lot) of some good, dark Cuban Rum on top and add some chopped fresh mint. Let this sit for as long as you'd like. Then spoon the drunken fruit on top of some coconut ice cream (or sorbet) and laugh. Just laugh. This is a crazy, stupid, hilariously good spread.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

to entertain? or to unwind?

Serious "Before" pictures (we've since made some strides)
So as most of you know by now, I moved a little over a week ago and I still haven't come down from the high of being in the new place. Nesting, admittedly, is something I love to do. Toss in the fact that I've got a Mom who's a designer and a new roommate with an impeccable eye for interior design and you've got the makings for something pretty fantastic. Yummy.

However, our current predicament is as follows: Do we turn the living room into a living room-meets-dining room so as to facilitate my entertaining jaunts or do we stay true to the typical living room standards? While at first glance, it would seem I'm initially drawn to the first option, I'm not entirely sold on it either. The size of our kitchen has allowed us to put in a high bar table with two bar stools which means there is definitely a place to cozy up to your meal. But, there's also something to be said about having the option of setting a table for more than two. Floor plans abound are in our immediate future, of that I am sure. Because one way or another, I'm confident we'll reach a happy median.

That said, how do the rest of you utilize your one communal room? I'm talking to you, apartment dwellers. And which do you weigh more heavily? A room to unwind or a room to entertain?

Monday, August 9, 2010

sunday night dinner

After a weekend of sun, sand, and salt water cut a tad shorter than anticipated, what better way to say "that's a wrap!" to your precious free time than with homemade steak sandwiches? Toss in some serious wine and a table for two on the balcony overlooking the concrete jungle skyline, the heat finally breaking to make way for a soft breeze, gently cooling your skin which is still radiating heat from slight over-exposure.

To be honest, it makes for a much more bearable Monday.

Even if on this particular Monday, I happen to be taking a day to myself. But that's neither here nor there.

Ever experimented with Summer Squash? I had not. But the big yellow melon-like vegetable had caught the eye of my cooking companion and he decided to go for it. And while it might take a bit longer to cook and prepare than most vegetables (which involves cranking up your oven to 425 for about an hour) the payoff is well worth it. The toothsome texture and subtle sweetness of the "spaghetti" strands come alive with the addition of some (I use the word "some" lightly) butter and a quick chiffonade of fresh basil and cracked black pepper. I imagine anyone could warm up to this side dish. Instantaneously. (The fact that it happens to be totally good for you too should be mentioned. But let's not dwell on that. It is delicious.)

As far as the steak sandwiches are concerned, this is a total cater to your taste buds situation. We decided to go with a flank steak which I "marinated" for about a half hour or so in a little bit of balsamic and olive oil before I generously seasoned it with sea salt and cracked black pepper and into a screaming hot pan it went for about 3 or 4 minutes per side. Then I took it off the heat, put it onto a plate, covered it with aluminum foil and let it rest for a good 15 minutes to finish cooking through to a perfect medium-rare. In the meantime, I made an arugula aioli with some finely chopped baby arugula and a small clove of garlic stirred into a 1/4 cup of mayonnaise. A white onion was sliced and went into a pan with a combination of butter and olive oil and sauteed for a few minutes before it was hit with a splash of balsamic, a teaspoon of dijon mustard, a sprinkle of brown sugar, and salt and pepper. Four to five minutes later, they too, were removed from the heat and placed in a bowl for the sandwich-making assembly line. Baby arugula, sliced campari tomatoes, and some fresh goat cheese rounded out the toppings. Then it was build your own steak sandwich time on fresh pieces of baguette, put a generous helping of the spaghetti squash with basil alongside, pick up your glass of 2007 Cliff Lede Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon (absolutely heavenly, by the way), take a seat outside, and exhale. It's going to be a good week.

Now, can we talk about that Entourage episode last night?! Leave your reactions in the comments section, please. That may or may not have been the point of this whole post. Discuss.

2007 Cliff Lede Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

what you need: cast iron grill pan

Admittedly, I have had the above Lodge Cast Iron Single Burner Grill/Griddle sitting at my desk for well over a year. Here's the deal: It's a hefty piece of kitchen equipment. And to be honest, the thought of lugging it home has just been a bit too daunting a task over the past...year. Oh well. It's coming home with me tonight.

But the rest of you should most definitely pick up one of these for yourselves. Especially those of you living in a city with a small kitchen and no outdoor space for a grill (can you imagine?!). While I can't promise you that smokey char that comes from, well, charcoal, I can promise you gorgeous grill marks and the next best thing to the real deal (hey, there's always liquid smoke). The single burner design is even more genius although they also offer a two burner version for those of you feeding a larger crowd.

For under $40, and available here through Amazon, I'm thinking this is the ultimate mid-week pick-me-up. And a totally useful one at that. What will you be grilling?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

colicchio and sons

Saturday night was pretty darn perfect.

Which makes sense seeing as the entire day was spent riding an emotional roller coaster of terror which was kick-started by my "moving company" showing up Saturday morning, doubling their quote, spewing lies, unwilling to negotiate, and then left me. They. Left. Me. And as quickly as I learned that tears weren't going to get me anywhere, I was just as quickly graced with a series of anything-but-small-miracles that somehow fell seemingly into place; not only getting me from Point A to Point B but making the whole nightmare not just bearable--but dare I say enjoyable (even if I'm so sore as I write this, walking is a chore, and I just tried to cross my legs and let out a loud moan).

So Saturday night, too, turned out to be just as spontaneously perfect. As a reward to one of my handful of heros that day, I figured what better way than to blow the money that had originally been allocated for the world's worst human beings/movers than on a night of great food and drink. And after christening the new apartment with a glass of 2008 Domaine Weinbach Riesling Schlossberg Grand Cru (in my Riedel Riesling Grand Cru glasses. BAM!) we found ourselves at (a nearly empty) Colicchio & Sons and cozied up to the bar.

I've been a long time fan of Tom Colicchio, as I'm sure many of you have been too, and my experience at Craftbar had been pretty enchanting (the white anchovy bruschetta with slow poached egg and leeks orgasmically flipped my world upside down), yet Colicchio & Sons has somehow managed to sneak right by me, in a way. Of course I'd heard all about it from the many glowing reviews but I mysteriously never got around to formally adding it to my To Do List. And what an inexcusable mistake that was. Because the food last night was nothing short of special. Thoughtful. Seasoned to perfection. Not a single element overlooked.

After guzzling down our beers, we got to ordering: bacon-wrapped rabbit terrine with ver jus cherries and frisee (unREAL), a ricotta, zucchini, and squash blossom pizza with rabbit sausage, and stuffed shells with duck, ricotta, wild mushrooms, and sofrito. Every bite euphoric. Not a detail to nit-pick. And then a bottle of sparkling rosé was popped and poured and all the stresses from the day were asked to pack their knives and go. I had entered a state of pure elation.

It should also be noted that the Tap Room prices are extremely reasonable considering the quality of the food put out. And there's an understated sexiness to the space. A rustic mountain lodge meets the big city hybrid. Dark, yes. But deliciously cozy.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Colicchio & Sons
85 10th Ave. (at 15th St.)

FOOD: 39
LOOK: 19
VIBE: 10


Image above courtesy of Serious Eats

FYI, I'm blogging from the wine bar "nook" in my new kitchen, and I'm freaking out with happiness. Just had to share.


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