Wednesday, August 30, 2006

What I Ate

Short post today and no pictures. I'm going back to the theme "What I Ate." I'll tell you if you tell me. Here's what I ate yesterday.

Skipped breakfast, I know mom, I shouldn't do that. For lunch I had reheated baked ziti which I made on Sunday night. Not bad, but I didn't use enough tomato sauce so the ricotta was a bit overwhelming. But, compared to some of my other quick options for lunch where I work, this wasn't bad. Eating the same thing for lunch today, ho hum.

I've been drinking tea like it is nobody's business because my office is so freaking cold. It's just boring Tetley tea, had about 4 cups yesterday. I think I might bring in my new favorite tea, Mariage Freres, which I had for the first time in Paris. The bagged darjeeling tea is so smooth even if you let it steep for too long.

Went to the vending machine at about 2:30 and bought a pack of M&Ms.

Pretty boring day, but then I went to Five Points restaurant on Great Jones Street with husband and in-laws and had a thoroughly enjoyable meal. The menu reminded me of restaurants in San Francisco. Everything was fresh from the market and ranged from soup to pizza, to scallops, and steak. The kind of place I would be a regular if I was rich - you could eat this food every day and not get bored or feel bad about yourself after.

I started with a market green salad with toasted goat cheese. As you now know, I didn't eat a single vegetable or fruit prior to this salad so it was much needed. The dressing was an aged balsamic vinaigrette. The goat cheese smooth and tangy. Nothing surprising here, just good clean flavors. Moved on to the flank steak with creamed corn and mustard greens. I didn't eat much of the mustard greens, but not because they weren't good, I'm just not good at eating my vegetables...unless they are creamed. I ate all of the corn. I haven't had that in years and it was slightly better then the canned version that I last ate. The steak was surprisingly tender for a flank steak and perfectly cooked (medium rare).

Finally, the dessert...we shared a blueberry tart with brown sugar (delicious) and a chocolate pot de creme. This one looked like it fell out of a Martha Stewart spread. The bowl was that muted light green in every food picture, the chocolate light brown, topped with a dollop of fresh perfectly white whipped cream. Two little star cookies sat precariously atop the cream. Almost too pretty to eat.

I did say almost though, we finished that one completely. I haven't summoned the nerve to bring a camera to restaurants and photograph what I eat, but I will work on it. Until then, I hope I was descriptive enough.

So that's what I ate. Not a short post as I had promised. I told you early on that I like to talk about food, what can I do....Now it is your turn.

What did you eat yesterday?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Fizzle for Shizzle

I actually came down with a cold on Friday which is a horrible thing to happen in the summer. But I am a trooper and I struggled through to test two different gin fizz drinks. This blog is hard, hard, work and there is no give up in me. Besides, gin fizzes are the perfect summer drinks and there is only a week or two before I switch back to bourbon, so I felt that there was no time to waste.

A little nugget about gin. Gin is made from a mash of cereal grain (usually corn, rye, barley, or wheat) and is flavored with botanicals. Juniper is the most prominent flavor but others include coriander, lemon, fennel, cassia, anise, and almond. A Dutch chemist apparently created gin in the mid-sixteenth century. He called it ginievre which means juniper in French. He declared it an attempt to enhance the therapeutic properties of juniper in a medicinal beverage. (from Dale DeGroff's The Craft of the Cocktail)

So here's to the therapeutic properties of juniper as we enjoy these final days of summer...

Gin Sling
This drink looks simple to make, and it is, but the flavor is anything but. There were subtle hints of pineapple and peach that made me forget I was in a 100 sq foot apartment...and I am sure I heard waves lapping on the pavement 7 stories below. This is a real summer drink.
1 1/2 ounces gin
1 ounce sweet vermouth
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
1 tsp sugar
soda water
lemon peel for garnish
Shake all ingredients except the soda water with ice and strain into ice filled glass. Top with soda and garnish with a spiral of lemon.

Gin Daisy
There is only one word to describe this drink...refreshing. Enough said.
2 ounces gin
Juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tsp grenadine

Soda water
Pour ingredients into an ice filled shaker. Shake, then strain into ice filled highball. Top with soda water.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Boogie Down Bronx

I was thinking this morning that I spend an awful lot of time in the Bronx (went to favorite restaurant Roberto's again last night), and as those of you who know me know, I am constantly singing it's praises, so I am going blog a bit today about my favorite food finds in Little Italy aka Arthur Avenue in the Bronx:

1. Casa della Mozzarella
The best mozzi around (mozzarella for the non Italian bunch). Made fresh in the store. I prefer the medium salted ball. The husband likes the bocconcini but I think they are a little too salty and you miss the melt in your mouth center that the ball has. It all depends whether you like your mozzi a little chewier or a little softer. The best bet is to buy both because really it is like arguing over whether you'd rather have silver or gold.

2. Madonia Bakery
A few different products here. First, love the pizza dough. It is great to keep in the freezer and pull out when you want a quick dinner. The medium round loaf of bread is perfect for making panini's with mozzi and prosciutto. Ask them to slice it for you. Finally, the olive bread if it is hot out of the oven is a must have, but you need to eat it while it is still hot. Arthur Ave is not a place to go if you aren't hungry. Expect to eat your weight on any given trip.

3. Full Moon Pizza
The cornmeal tinged crust cracks when you bend it and the cheese is always perfectly browned. The sauce is the best I've had in NYC.

4. Biancardi's Meats
When I go to Arthur Ave, I take the train from Grand Central and bring a backpack. I buy as much meat as I can fit in the bag. Usually it includes 1/2 lb prosciutto, 2 shell steaks, 2 large pork chops, a chicken cut into 8 pieces, hard sausage, 4 of the thinnest veal cutlets you can get, 4 links of spicy sausage, and 3 lbs of short ribs. This will last me a month in the freezer. I usually pay about $100-$150 for all of it which is without about half of what I would pay in the city.

5. Arthur Avenue Market
The olive stand on the right side of the market toward the back has the best large green olives. They are slightly sweet with just a hint of salt. Truly addictive. Sometimes I stop for the broccoli rabe pizza at the stand in the back of the market. They also make a great penne a la vodka. On the left side of the market, stop at the case that has bowls of marinated veggies and various spreads. Ask for the hot pepper spread. It is so spicy, but a thin layer on the panini adds just a touch of spiciness that brings the whole thing together. I've also used it to spice up sauces, add to a boring chicken breast dish, or sometime when no one is looking, just eat it by the spoonful.

6. DeLillo's Pastry
Best cappuccino around.

7. Borgatti's Pasta
Stop here for fresh pasta. Allow at least 1/2 hour because the Italian grandmother behind the counter doesn't move for anyone. The place is all ambiance and character. You can order the pasta as thick or thin as you want it, they cut it to order. Best eaten that night. Also great are the pasta tubes and the ravioli.

You can find all of the merchant's addresses at this webssite.

Anyone in for a walking tour of Little Italy soon?

Here's a link for Roberto's.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

What I Ate - Farmers Market Wednesday

I love Wednesdays because I get to shop at the Farmers Market where I work. It isn't a big one, but the produce is fresh picked from New York farms. I can usually supplement with items at the Grand Central Market and come up with a pretty good meal. Here's what I came home with today:

I tried a recipe for tomato sauce from Cooks Magazine last week with pancetta and rosemary so I still had some on hand. I figured I would recreate the recipe with a bit of a twist. Here is what I came up with.

Seared Scallops with Fresh Rosemary and Garlic Tomato Sauce

7 large sea scallops
3 large tomatoes, skinned, seeded, and coarsely chopped
5 oz pancetta, diced
1 tsp minced fresh rosemary
3 large garlic cloves minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp sugar, or to taste
2 tbsp olive oil

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Saute pancetta in a large heavy pan until browned and crisped, about 10 minutes. Remove pancetta from pan with slotted spoon and place on paper towel to drain. Pour out remaining oil.

Return pan to medium heat. Add remaining tbsp of oil. Saute garlic, rosemary, and red pepper for about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and cook until tomatoes slump and turn into sauce, about 10 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and sugar to taste.

While sauce is cooking, sear scallops that have been seasoned with salt and pepper. Remove from pan. Place sauce in a shallow dish and top with scallops. Sprinkle pancetta over the top.

Heirloom Tomato and avocado Salad

Cut tomatoes and avocado. Add olive oil, the best vinegar you have, and salt and pepper to taste. That's it. The freshness of the fruits (yes both are fruits) will take care of the rest.

Here's what it looked like:

With moody lighting...

avocado and Tomato...

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Drink of the Week

As I mentioned in my first post, I have been the lucky recipient of vintage cocktails as the husband has taken the making of them up as a hobby. Did that sentence make sense? If not, then partake in a cocktail yourself, read it again, and I am sure that it will be crystal clear.

In any case, part of studying cocktails includes understanding their history. While it is not my first interest, my mind and liver have absorbed some of this information through the books lying around and the unbelievably fascinating conversations that I enjoy with the husband and the cat (she is a great listener). I plan on sharing these nuggets as I post the "Drink of the Week."

For today, an itty bitty nugget....A response to a reader's question in an 1806 publication The Balance and Columbian Repository says, a "cocktail is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters."

Here is a recipe for the Jack Rose (pictured above), supposedly named for a pink rose called the Jacquemot rose. It is sweet, but not overly so. Tart, but not overly so. And alcoholy, but not overly so. In short, it is perfectly balanced.

Jack Rose

1 1/2 ounces applejack (available in liquour stores)
juice of one lime
1/2 ounce grenadine

Thursday, August 17, 2006

What I Ate

I had a pretty delicious food day today. It started boring enough, cereal scarfed down in about 2 minutes. Actually, exactly 2 minutes. I have my morning routine down to a science and get up and out of the apartment in exactly 29 minutes.

But then lunch came and the fun began. I am organizing an event at work and we are hiring a local restaurant called the Latin Kitchen to provide the food. Long story short, they sent over pork, yellow rice and empanadas for us to taste. I tasted it. Then tasted it again, and one more time to be sure. The yellow rice was outstanding, pork was bad for you good, but the stand out was the chicken empenada. It was tangy, salty, juicy, and tender - there was a strong hint of lime and spice that was utterly surprising as I normally find chicken as a stuffing pretty boring. Note to self: start eating more Latin food.

As if that weren't enough, I went to my favorite Italian restaurant, Roberto's in the Bronx. I started with sausage, cannolini beans and broccoli rabe. I'm not sure how they do it, but the broccoli rabe is soft and not at all bitter. The next course was a shared homemade ravioli filled with figs and goat cheese, topped with sage butter. Um, can we say perfect? I think I might add this to my last meal list for before I am executed. I might even forgot how much I abhor capital punishment if they gave this to me before the big jolt. My entree was veal sauteed with fava beans and porcini mushrooms. I have a rule that if fava beans are on the menu, you have to order them. Have you ever tried to peel fava beans? Not easy. Better to have someone else do it.

So here is my question for the night:

What is on your last meal list?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Fire up the Grill

So here it goes. This is my very first post on my very first blog. However, it certainly isn't the first time that I have talked about food. Sometimes it seems like that is all I do and I apologize to those who know me (maybe this will alleviate some of their pain).

I've been thinking alot about how I would organize this blog and my plan right now is to post in several categories:

What I Ate
Should be the most frequent post since I eat every day - sometimes three or four times a day.

What You Ate
I love hearing about what other people eat, even the minutiae of snacks and breakfast. Please say I am not the only one who is fascinated by this. Apologies in advance to my friends and family who I will hit up first, but I hope that this section will grow with time.

Sunday Supper
This is by far my favorite meal and the one I spend the most time preparing. Sometimes I'll plan all weekend in hopes of coming up with the perfect meal.

Drink of the Week
I am a lucky girl because the husband likes to make vintage cocktails. I am the tester. Never having met a cocktail I didn't like (except grappa), I look forward to sharing recipes and food pairings.

Food for Cheap
There is nothing I like more then finding a bargain. It's not easy to come by in NYC, but they are out there. I'll share my finds for restaurants and shops. These will be the real "cheap" places and not "if you only get an appetizer" cheap places.

BNO (big night out)
There is nothing better then getting all dressed up and having a big night out. The aperitif, great wine, amuse bouche, strange meats, rich sauces, desserts you have to order in advance, you know the drill. Sadly, this will be a rare post. But I also think you can have a BNO at the mid range places, so I will post about these in the same category.