Wednesday, February 23, 2011

weekend dinner party

Photo courtesy of

Have you seen Luke Nguyen's Vietnam on the Cooking Channel? I caught a marathon one Saturday a couple weeks ago and it completely paralyzed me. I couldn't peel myself away for a solid two and half hours (at least). The food in Southeast Asia really excites me. The combination of flavors challenge your palate in a way that, I would argue, no other cuisine can. It's complex and fresh and vibrant and leaves your lips tingling and your mind racing. The street food, in particular, is what I find the most interesting. That in the median of a busy road, a woman is methodically shredding papaya for salad with bags upon bags of fresh mint at her disposal and little more than 12 inches of workspace (if any at all). Or deeply marinated meats with lemongrass, sugar, fish sauce, and cilantro, are skewered and slapped onto a makeshift grill, all from an unassuming cart, while traffic furiously buzzes by. It's proof that good--no, great food is only as good as its ingredients. And the person crafting them together.

I desperately need to go to Vietnam.

In the meantime, here's a Southeast Asian menu to hopefully hold me over.

spicy green papaya salad
grilled chicken with garlic, lemongrass, and cilantro
2009 Jean Ginglinger Riesling

Check out a clip of Luke Nguyen's show here.

Spicy Green Papaya Salad
Recipe Courtesy of Zak Pelaccio for Food & Wine

1/2 cup fresh lime juice
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp. Asian fish sauce
2 tbsp. sugar
2 Thai chiles, minced
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp.minced peeled fresh ginger
2 pounds green papaya*--peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 1/4-by-1/4 inch sticks
1 firm, barely ripe mango--peeled, sliced off the pit and cut into 1 1/4-by-1/4 inch sticks
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup shredded mint leaves

1. In a blender, puree the lime juice with the garlic, fish sauce, sugar, chiles and ginger. In a large bowl, toss the papaya with the mango, cilantro and mint. Add the dressing and toss. Season with salt, toss again and serve.

*If you can't find green papaya, you can substitute with using all mango or jicama or celery.

Serve with sticky rice.

Monday, February 21, 2011

filipino brunch at maharliko

After catching a glimpse of SeriousEat's experience at Maharlika, the new Filipino pop-up restaurant in the East Village, I immediately sent out a desperate email to the management, begging for a chance to indulge in some Filipino fare. After reading and re-reading promises of poached eggs and grilled prawns and coconut milk and lime and shrimp paste and more, I wouldn't settle for anything less than a reservation. Because that eggs iMelda needed to be presented in front of me sometime in the immediate future.

And so this past Saturday, with three gals in tow, we dove head first into a Filipino brunch and toasted with calamansi mimosas and a killer playlist to boot.

calamansi mimosas (filipino lime)

eggs iMelda: pandesal (filipino bread) topped with laing (taro root leaves, coconut milk, shrimp paste, and chilies), grilled prawn, poached eggs, calamansi hollandaise, and kamote (sweet potato) fries

eggs benigno: pandesal topped with thinly sliced spam, poached eggs, calamansi hollandaise, and kamote fries.

ilog breakfast: sunny side up quail egg served over rice with garlicky pork sausage and a cucumber salad.

351 e 12th st. (b/w 1st and 2nd ave.)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

bar tables and a whole lotta DIY

[my favorite mod and super tall champagne glasses, a brilliant find snagged from the salvation army]

There are pros and cons to my recent DIY/design kick as of late. Pro: It keeps me busy. And the feeling of instant gratification is one that I crave. Often. Con: It keeps me busy. And I can't focus on anything else but finishing the (what feels like) hundreds of little projects I've started (and with some, failed). My posting regularity has suffered terribly. And for this, I apologize.

But one of my many DIY projects that is actually relevant to Eat and Greet is my bar table which is still a work-in-progress but well on its way to fabulousness. In the before photo (seen just below), you can see that table had caning underneath the glass top. Do I have a thing against caning? Absolutely not. But for whatever reason, the color of the caning against the Wild Truffle wall yielded an unappetizing combination. It got to the point where I couldn't stand looking at it anymore. Something had to be fixed. And after sifting through inspiration photos that I'd pulled from here and there, I started to make some changes. And the first thing to go was inevitably going to be that caning.

Enter: a piece of cream burlap, cut down to size and placed underneath the glass. Instant improvement. Snarls be gone.

Also? A bottle of Bombay Gin which my thoughtful roommate picked up in Duty Free on her way back from Switzerland. There's something about that iconic blue glass bottle that adds a finishing touch to any bar area. It's beautiful. And legitimizes the spot for me. Nevermind the fact that blue glass is a bit of a recurring theme in our apartment. It pops up, well, everywhere (see top left corner of the following photo).

A few shots (all pulled from Remodelista) of inspiration I love for your bar area...
Cheers! TGIF.

Oh, and allow me to indulge you (but really, me) with a sneak peak at another DIY project that was started and completed this past weekend. Never, ever underestimate the power of paint. Particularly matte charcoal paint. Yum.

Nothing in our apartment is safe anymore.

Monday, February 14, 2011

happy valentine's day

There's something about meatballs (especially two of them) that just says "love" to me. Enjoy the day, my lovely lovas. xo.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

weekend dinner party for two

Whether you're recognizing the upcoming holiday or not, cozy up to someone you love this weekend. Your spouse, your best friend, a significant other, a family member, the flavor of the week, the dude you had a staring contest with (and lost) on the E Train, or the "grande skim, no whip, non-fat green tea chai latte with sugar free air and an extra shot of decaf espresso in a venti cup" chick who you see at Starbucks every morning, invite someone over for dinner this weekend. Go on. Do it! Dare ya.

If it were up to me, I'd be cozying up to a sushi spread fit for six for two. My head and stomach know no limits when it comes to pristine and silky raw fish and seasoned rice. There's just no "OK, I've had enough" point. And, yes, sometimes that becomes problematic. Why do you ask? But there would also be bubbles and super dry Riesling and maybe some Sake, too. Because quite frankly that's what makes me happiest (albeit also sufficiently tipsy...Happy Valentine's Day!). But hypothetically dining out aside, taking the time to prepare a meal for someone never, ever goes unnoticed (and neither do flowers...). It's an incredibly romantic gesture in and of itself whether you decide to take on the endeavor yourself or invite your lucky plus one to join you in the kitchen.

Here's what I propose you (hand) feed your loved one:

red snapper ceviche with coconut milk and ginger
Pisco Sour

grilled spiced garlic skirt steak
fennel, avocado, and clementine salad with arugula and mint
Argentinian Malbec

Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut Methode Chapmenoise NV

Keep in mind that although show-stopping and beyond satisfying, this menu is intentionally light. And listen, you're welcome [wink].

And dessert? Depending on your company, do I need to go there? I don't think I need to go there. Don't make me go there.


Red Snapper Ceviche with Coconut Milk and Ginger
Recipe based loosely on this one by David Rosengarten

1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 tbsp. freshly grated ginger
1 tbsp. fish sauce (Thai or Vietnamese)
1/2 tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 a can of unsweetened coconut milk
3/4 lb. fresh red snapper (skinless) cut into small cubes
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
1-2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Place the jalapeno, ginger, fish sauce, sugar, lime juice and coconut milk in a blender (or food processor) and puree until smooth.

In a large bowl, toss the mixture with the red snapper. Cover and refrigerate for no more than four hours. Mix in the remaining ingredients and gently toss. Serve immediately.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

lambrusco for your valentine

While artfully crafting Valentine cards that would make Martha Stewart herself blush with envy (well, maybe), I figured the best and most appropriate thing to sip alongside was Lambrusco. Sure, we could've gone with sparkling Rosé, but there was a certain convivial element to popping a bottle of something (Donelli Lambrusco di Castelvetro Amabile DOC) my guests had never tried. And as soon the cork was gracefully albeit dramatically popped and the deep and gorgeously crimson juice was poured into flutes, I heard three little gasps. And a big smile spread across my face. Blushing raspberries leaped out of the glass with a black pepper note that kept the residual sugar in check. A slightly effervescent and seemingly festive glass of decadence.

The decidedly perfect way to toast an afternoon filled with red and rose colored paper, a superabundance of sparkles, and words of endearment and romance. Lambrusco. It's a very good thing.

Seek out a bottle of your own this Valentine's Day. I assure you, it will not disappoint.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

when there's "nothing" in the fridge

When faced with a fridge full of "nothing" I often default to this. An egg 'n cheese with home fries, all neatly rolled up together in a soft flour tortilla. It's a quick, filling, ridiculously economical but undeniably comforting little dinner. In fact, I could have a fridge full of fabulous and exotic ingredients and still cozy up to this without a peep of complaint. I'd argue you could even turn this into a pretty fabulously received brunch dish by serving up a salad with avocado and a zippy vinaigrette alongside. Blood orange mimosas to wash it all down. The perfect dish and sip for Saturday or Sunday morning, ahem, revival. And I think we all know what that means.

For my recipe for the best home fries out there (yeah, I said it), click here.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

practicing the refined art of no restraint

I ate well this weekend. Quite well. I ate and drank quite well.

hot & dirty martini

pomegranate-acai margarita

salmon sashimi salad with cucumber, shallot, mint, and lime-mustard dressing

rice vermicelli, sliced salmon, coconut milk, cilantro


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