Call me biased but I'm partial to any place where the entire waitstaff speaks to each other in lyrical French and greets you with Bonjour! Such was the case upon entry into the impeccably styled Tartinery in Nolita. So I smiled real big and let out a le sigh and promptly ordered a Kir. Ah, c'est si bon la vie.
Might I suggest you treat yourself this weekend? Perfect bites and sips will ensue. And you'll feel, even just for a moment, that you've transported yourself to Boulevard Saint-Germain. And as soon as you've finished your long, leisurely, and fashionably late lunch, you'll stroll home along the Seine, arms linked with ton amour, grinning in sheer awe and unadulterated happiness to be surrounded by a city with more style, history, and culture than you ever thought possible.
And then you make a left on Spring Street and start heading home.
Trader Joe's never ceases to amaze me with its inventory and quality of products. I look forward to my weekly (and sometimes bi-weekly) visits with way more excitement than I should probably be willing to admit. But during my past over-zealous visit, I spotted these in the frozen section: Dorot frozen herbs. At $1.99, I inevitably and curiously tossed a basil one into my cart. Inquisitive experimentation, you see, is one of the best parts of my Trader Joe's routine. That and their cheese section. And pizza dough. And frozen mini baguettes.
So the Dorot verdict? Have one of these in every herb variety (basil, cilantro, and parsley) in your freezer at all times. Not only are they phenomenally (and surprisingly) fresh tasting but they take convenience to a whole new level. While I wouldn't use them to substitute the real deal in certain applications (i.e. pesto or gremolata, ceviche, etc.), they're perfect to pop into sauces and any other recipe which calls for fresh herbs to be stirred in at the end.
And the gnocchi with tomato basil cream sauce I haphazardly and inexplicably put together late last night after I had cooked dinner? Divine.
And perfectly basil-y.
Seek these out at your soonest convenience. You'll sleep soundly knowing they're tucked away in your freezer. Or at least they seem to have that kind of calming effect on me. Nothing scarier than a last minute dinner guest and no fresh herbs in sight. Make that no fresh herbs and no wine. Nothing. Scarier. Exists.
For a look at Dorot's full product line, click here.
When it comes to seafood, I like it one way and one way only: unadulterated. You can have your fancy sauces and ornate garnishes. I'll take mine dead simple with minimal add-on's. I want to be able to taste the salinity and purity of the ocean with each and every bite. Steamed Maine lobster with drawn butter. A whole fish, stuffed with orange slices and a few sprigs of fresh thyme, thrown onto the grill with nothing but a healthy sprinkle of crunchy sea salt. A freshly shucked Bluepoint with little more than a squeeze of lemon. A glistening piece of salmon sashimi, sliced nearly paper thin, chopsticks hovering in anticipation of its blissful entry. It's served in a respectful manner; showcasing its glorious and unrivaled freshness.
Which is why when it comes to the ambiance of my seafood dining experience, well, I'll take that dead simple too. And bring on the kitsch, please.
Enter: Whale's Rib, Deerfield Beach, Florida.
A basket of rock shrimp, simply steamed (hold the Old Bay, please) with a few lemon wedges for squeezing and a side of drawn butter for dipping. Toss in two frosty mugs of beer alongside and you couldn't wipe the smile off my face if you tried. And the poor service? Well, I can turn the other sun-kissed cheek on that. We're cozied up at a seafood shack dive bar and I'm distracted by my rock shrimp, ice cold beer, and charming company. Simple food. Simply delicious.