Monthly Archives: January 2012

Terrific Lady Day, Part Deux

After a lovely girls night replete with piano bars, late night pizza, flirtinis and even later night bacon, how are two ladies expected to spend the morning? With brunch of course! My friend is lucky enough to live directly upstairs from a precious french bistro called Brasserie Julien and wouldn’t ya know it? They serve brunch! We began our meal with bread, duh. And also with two new friends: Mary and Mary 🙂

My new friend Mary... she's tasty.

And my new friend, Melanie.. she's busy

Now I’m no bloody mary connoisseur, as a matter of fact, I’ve only recently taken a liking to them. With that said, this one is probably the best I’ve ever had. It’s tasty and spicy and somehow gives the impression of nutrients, which I desperately needed this particular morning. Speaking of nutrients, here comes our food!

My omelet: chicken, asparagus, goat cheese

Mel's crepe: eggs, chicken, mozzarella

Served with homemade potato chips, salad and fruit all of which make me warm and mushy inside (perhaps the bloody mary helped). The restaurant was beautiful and the service was attentive without feeling rushed — the French have really got that on lock down.
Brasserie Julien also has live jazz music on the weekends and Sunday and Monday are Ladies nights! I heartily recommend it it for brunch and am looking forward to coming here for dinner. Stay tuned.
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Gazpacho playa!

Picture this: We’re in Spain; we’re dying to try some authentic Spanish food; and we’re broke. We have spent the last four days traveling in the craziest circumstances (you can see the whole trip here) and now all we want is to have a modest picnic lunch. We buy a cheap bottle of red wine (still delicious because we’re in Spain), some manchego cheese and some bread. This meal still doesn’t seem complete. Walking a few more steps we see a sign at a cafĂ©, “Gazpacho para llevar” (“to go,” cost: 3 euro). Sold!

We spend the next few hours underneath the Arc De Triomf (did you know there was one in Barcelona too? We didn’t.) We enjoyed wine and cheese along with what became our new obsession: gazpacho.

Back in the US I tried (and failed miserably) to recreate the flavors we had so enjoyed in Barcelona. Then one day, while visiting Boston, a Spanish friend of ours picked up a bunch of tomatoes at the farmer’s market and announced he would be making gazpacho tonight and would we like to join him? Heck yes, we would. The taste? The same. The process? Mine at last!

Thanks to a super special holiday gift of a food processor, I decided it was finally time to make it myself! Below is the method I used:

4 tomatoes, 1 red pepper, 1 green pepper, 1 red onion, 1 cucumber, 2 cloves of garlic, the juice of 1 lemon

Chop it all up, then blend it, adding a few tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Puree the mixture until it's smoot

 

Strain carefully and patiently

 

 

 

 

 

Yes it must be strained! Don’t pout, it’s worth it. You can even strain in twice if you like it to be super smooth. We like a little texture, so once is plenty for us! Afterward let it chill overnight for maximum flavor!

The next day we decided to turn this gazpacho into our very own walk down the Spanish lane:

I got some Spanish wine down at the local shop.

And we indulged ourselves happily.

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Terrific Lady Day!

It’s Restaurant Week again in NYC which means it’s time to TREAT YO SELF. And since, like Tom and Donna, I am a relaxation professional, I knew exactly which sense to satisfy: taste.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve developed a small obsession with sushi. This mixed with the fact that I still miss the taste of Pisco Sours made Sushi Samba the perfect location for me and my new lady friend’s Terrific Lady Day!

Sushi Samba is a celebration of three cultures: Peruvian, Brazilian and Japanese, so sayeth our overly caffeinated and wide-eyed server. But let me start at the beginning:

We met early for happy hour and girl talk and then sat down in a beautiful dining room with a presentation kitchen in the center.

Edamame and a couple of fancy cocktails. Mine's tequila, cause I'm from Texas.

Because we started our Fantastic Lady Day with happy hour Piscos and began our meal with these lovely beverages, I forgot to take photos of our appetizers. My bizzle. I’ll do my best to paint you a word picture:

Mine was queso fresco and rice croquettes, which were crunchy, warm, gooey and yumsies sauce. My lovely date is of the french persuasion, so she opted for the plum sake foie gras, which was served cold with some greens. Both were beautiful plates of food. We decided to go halfsies on the apps, and while the foie was pretty good, the croquettes really did it for me.

Main Courses:

This is the sushi assortment along with a latin-fusion tempura roll. Nummy!

This is the seared striped bass with squid ink risotto. Clearly my date was more adventurous than I.

Dessert Courses:

This is a ginger and brazil nut crumble with ice cream. Delish!

This was a tres leches cake... also quite delicious!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not too shabby an evening for two ladies on the town! Restaurant Week, you have my heart ❤

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Talking to Girls about Duran Duran

If you’ve ever heard a song and been so sure that the universe brought it to your ears at that exact moment in your life to teach you something about living, then Talking To Girls About Duran Duran is for you.
I received it last year as a birthday gift, which made my reading of it both personal and a shared experience, as the best always are. At times I had to force myself into another task just so I could savor the beautifully touching epic that is Rob Sheffield’s life.
His exquisite storytelling abilities and what must be an innate sensitivity make me feel like I know him. In what can only be called his love letter to the music who made him who he is, Sheffield takes the reader out of the fast paced 2012 and into the simpler 1980s, the decade in which he came of age.
Being a nineties kid myself, I had feared some of the references would be lost on me. But thanks to my family, I was instilled with a strong sense of nostalgia very early in life. I was watching Saved by the Bell when I should have been watching Animaniacs and Boy Meets World when it ought to have been Lizzie McGuire.
The countless memories drudged up by this book brought many smiles to my face, but it was the humanity Sheffield displayed that brought tears to my eyes. His writing truly captured the open heart of someone just setting out in life. He was 13 in 1980, so that decade truly defined the teenager he was and the man he became.
It’s really difficult to articulate how much this book meant to me or how it affected my very soul. I recommend it to anyone who ever heard a song and knew, just knew, it was written for them. I feel like this book was written for me. I hope you feel that way too.

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Healthy Tex Mex!

No, this isn’t a list of oxymorons, this is the response to my latest very specific craving. I was dying for something in the Mexican category that wasn’t overly fried or cheesed. I had chicken, I had beans, I had avocados.

My mission was clear.

     

Click for refried black beans recipe!

Spice rub includes: cayenne, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper

First I got the beans going, which takes some time, but I think it’s worth it. Then I rubbed my boneless, skinless chicken breast with lime juice and coated it in the spice rub pictured above.

Make sure that skillet's hot with butter and oil! You only need a minute or two on each side.

Then into the oven on a bed of limes at 350 for 30 minutes (can cover chicken with limes too!)

While the chicken’s in the oven, I threw together some guacamole and a quick pico of tomatoes, onion and red bell pepper. I figured everything was spicy enough to do without fresh jalapeños on top.

Presentation makes regular food feel fancy!

Hiding food under food... very very sneaky.

There you have it! Lime chili chicken on a bed of refried beans with guacamole and pico de gallo!

Finished off here a little bit of sharp cheese and some tortilla strips!

I recommend enjoying with a Modelo Especial, but that's up to you :-

Mission accomplished. POP POP.

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Dogfish Head Keeps it Real

Last night I watched Beer Wars, a unique and engaging documentary that follows jane-of-all-trades Anat Baron as she meets the craft brewers who are managing to survive (and thrive!) in the industry among the giants: Bud, Miller and Coors.
“Down to earth” doesn’t quite cut it when I’m describing Sam, owner of Dogfish Head Brewery in Delaware. I say, “Sam,” because that is how he was presented on screen, just “Sam.” He drives a classic pick up truck, wears jeans to work and even stops in the middle of an interview to pick up the phone. On the other end is yet another satisfied customer calling the 1-800 number on the back on the beer bottle. Their motto is “Off centered ale for off centered people,” and they stick to it. Turning down numerous offers from venture capitalists to take his company public, Sam refuses to put himself and the “great people who work with him,” in a position where they might have to compromise their “labor of love.”
It’s this dedication to quality and refusal to compromise for the almighty dollar that I found so incredibly refreshing. Call me naive, but I still believe having pride and integrity in what you do is infinitely more important and rewarding than making money.
Dogfish Head started in 1995 with an idea and a commitment to produce quality ales with unique ingredients. They’ve managed to grow into a major player in the beer industry and they’ve done it without losing their sense of self. I tweeted at them last night, and with nearly 72,000 followers, they still managed to tweet back to me by this morning. That’s keeping it real. Respect.

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Sweatleaf Coffee and Espresso Bar

“One of the most civilized things about Long Island City.” –Oliver Strand, NY Times

I found myself early to a meeting in Long Island City this week when I stumbled across Sweetleaf Coffee and Espresso Bar. I walked in and as soon as the man at the counter told me, “we’re cash only,” I knew I had found a gem. As occasionally irritating as it can be to be forced to use cash in 2012, I find it refreshingly bold that a small business remains cash only in the face of an increasingly cash-less society. Luckily for me and them, I had cash that day.

Having spent time working in a “hip” coffee shop, I can recognize which drinks I should order and which I should avoid for fear of being mocked. For instance, coffee shop snobs will secretly cringe when you order a mocha or anything with a flavor. So I kept it simple, had a “medium” cappuccino (which was 8 oz) and I waited until the barista stepped into the back to sneak in some sugar and cinnamon. I didn’t want to disturb the beautiful latte art he had created, so I took care to stir around it.

Sorry... I couldn't wait to take a picture before I had a sip 🙂

I also couldn’t resist one of Sweetleaf’s homemade cinnamon donut holes. It was beyond delicious. This, along with all of their pastries are baked in house daily. This unique cafe came replete with a dining room, a laptop room (and never the two shall meet) as well as a back room, all with comfy couches and ironic artwork. What more could you ask for?

 

 

 

 

 

 

A perfectly charming way to spend a morning in Long Island City.

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