Category Archives: Foodie

Back in the kitchen, back to my senses

More than two months without a post. Wow. The summer was a blur of work, travel, kids without a schedule and fun times with friends.  I skirted my way with a few memorable menus, but generally lacked any discipline for meal planning.

My waistline noticed. Five pounds heavier. Egads! What the heck happened?  Well, let’s see.  Could have been the fruit shakes and guacamole in Costa Rica. Fresh plaintains, still green and starchy, smashed into cakes and fried, make a savory filling snack that likely contributed to my “expansion” early in the summer.

Then friends visited from Austin. Oh good, a reason to finally prep a decent meal or two!  Grilled chicken and peaches with arugula salad for a picnic by the lake.  Steamed crabs on the back patio, followed the next day by crab cakes topped with sherry aioli.

I entered the true danger zone, calorie-wise, during the month of August. A business trip Down Under was the beginning of the end. Fish and chips, with a pint of ale, at Watson’s Bay in Sydney.

Breakfast the next day: Ricotta pancakes with berry compote, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I simply lost my senses with this concoction, gazing at the ski surfers while sitting in an outdoor cafe at Manly Beach.

Then it was back for two weeks before heading to Santa Fe for a long-planned vacation with a dear friend from Cleveland. Enter sopapillas – doughy pillows topped with sugar (or savory, stuffed with chicken or beef) – at Tomasita’s, amazing blue corn enchiladas at The Shed.  We hit two of the city’s hottest restaurants — La Boca for tapas and Restaurant Martin for new American cuisine — and relished every bite.

Sopapillas at Tomasita's Cafe

No wonder, then, that I’m now browsing through stacks of recipes for healthy eating.  Time to get back into a meal plan that’s easy to manage. This fall I’m thinking in themes to keep me on track. I figured a handful of catchy phrases would bring some rhythm and inventiveness to the tedious task of meal planning.  Already we’re in our second week of themes.  Here it goes (with comments from the peanut gallery):

Meatless Monday – “Yeah, Baby” (husband) “WHAAT?  You’re kidding me.” (sons)

Tasty Tuesday – “Mom, that’s stupid.  Isn’t every meal supposed to be tasty?”

Whole Grain Wednesday – “Hmmm, Not sure about that one.” (husband)

Thermal Thursday (using the Pressure Cooker or Slow Cooker) – “Clever.” (husband)

Fun Friday (because we either order out or indulge in a late “date night” meal without the kids) – “Great Idea!” (me)

Details to come as weeknight meal plans swing back into gear!

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Foodie File: Spotlight on Seattle treats

Here’s one for the foodie file: A travel piece in Sunday’s New York Times featuring some of our best treats.

Theo Chocolate, Panama Hotel, Columbia City Bakery, Full Tilt Ice Cream, Cafe Besalu, and Bakery Nouveau are featured.  I’ve only frequented two of these spots so I can see we have a bit of homework to do this summer.

Check it out:

The U.S. Issue | Choice Tables

In the Seattle Area, an Assortment of Treats

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What’s with the Coke-in-a-crockpot search?

It’s amazing how many people want to pour Coca-cola into their slow cookers. At least that’s my takeaway from the statistics on You Ate That???

Keyword searches for “cola,” “slow cooker” and “corned beef” — or any combination thereof — appear to be one of the most common paths for random visitors to find this blog. Pulled pork is another commonly searched term. My last endeavor with a pork shoulder in the slow cooker wasn’t so successful. I figure I did something wrong along the way so I’m still seeking salvation on the web.

Good Stuff NW, a food blogger in Oregon, discovered a series of tweets from The Little Red Bike, a cafe in Portland, for an amazing pulled pork. Here is the tweeted recipe:

  • Secrets to our pulled pork revealed! Start with nice, healthy pork butt. Make rub w/ pepper, paprika, mustard, coffee, ginger, sugar, salt.
  • Rub, cover, let sit in fridge overnight. Remove next day, allow to rest @ room temp. 2 hours, place in crockpot. http://twitpic.com/1f7cca
  • Top roast w/ garlic and sliced onions. http://twitpic.com/1f7ctu
  • Here’s the secret! Pour in one bottle of ginger beer. Cover, set crockpot on low 12 hours and cook. http://twitpic.com/1f7d9h
  • After 12 hours, remove remaining fat, shred, return to pot along w/bottle of BBQ sauce and cook 4 more hours. Place on buns w/slaw & enjoy

My taste buds occasionally dictate our travel plans so I keep a mental list of food destinations. The Little Red Bike is now officially on the list. The blog could be satisfying substitution until we make the trip to Portland; it’s on our “one day we will go to xxx for the weekend” list.

If anyone tries this recipe, let me know how it turns out!

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Super foodie blog at the NYT

Wow … check this out: The New York Times combines its eating, drinking and cooking blogs into one: The Diner’s Journal. The blog features posts from Mark Bittman’s Bitten, The Pour and Diner’s Journal into “one free-range superblog.” Noted:

“Contributors include Eric Asimov, Mark Bittman, Glenn Collins, Florence Fabricant, Nick Fox, Julia Moskin, Sam Sifton, Kim Severson, Samantha Storey, Emily Weinstein, Pete Wells and others, Diner’s Journal embraces news and opinion about cooking, wine, restaurants and other matters culinary.”

Yet another distraction for foodies.  Ok, back to work now …

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Yelping works in DC

To Yelp means to cry out in pain. Ironically, that works well in Washington D.C. Our culinary adventure in the nation’s capitol wasn’t quite as exciting as NYC. The density of Manhattan is far more conducive to grazing. Feeding a family in D.C. meant finding nourishment before we collapsed in most cases. You do a lot of walking to see all the highlights in the nation’s capitol. I relied on Yelp to navigate our way.

YouAteThat photo

Sated at Burma

In the spirit of efficiency, here’s a quick look at our finds:

  • Innovative menu, great value – Teaism (3 locations)
  • Cultural adventure on a budget – Burma in Chinatown
  • Authentic atmosphere (and best french fries) – The Tune Inn on Capitol Hill
  • Lovely ‘hood with multiple options at a Metro stop – Ardeo in Cleveland Park
  • Best environment for a hot dog lunch – Hirshhorn Museum gardens
  • Disappointing service – Le Pain Quotidien at Eastern Market

Yelp came through our first day with a great place for breakfast: the Galley Cafe, one of those family-run places tucked into an office building. That evening, I ventured back to my old neighborhood just a few steps from the Cleveland Park Metro stop to Ardeo restaurant. It was fun to be back in familiar surroundings and spend time with a long-time friend over a dinner of spinach salad and roast chicken. Classic bistro stuff and girl talk.

The next day, after our tour of the Capitol, I Yelped again and found Capitol Hill’s best known dive bar The Tune Inn. Animals hanging from the walls and the sticky tables were only part of the atmosphere. Our chatty waitress made us feel right at home. I dug into a BLT while the guys had burgers.  And the fries were the best.  Later we met family for dinner at the Beacon Bar and Grill. I can’t remember what I ate — obviously not memorable. The outdoor tables and lively crowd suggested this place would be far better for happy hour.

Friday lunch at Cafe Soleil at Lafayette Park — a spendy crabcake sandwich. By dinnertime, we decided to hit Chinatown — a frenzied street scene on a Friday night.   Momij – good sushi, friendly waiter – hit the spot.

Afternoon snack at Teaism in Penn Square

On Saturday, while waiting for entry to the Spy Museum, I yelped for tea. We meandered a couple of blocks to Penn Square and one of my favorite finds in D.C.: Teaism. The selection of teas and snacks (and lovely bento boxes) was impressive.  The free refills on iced Moroccan Mint iced tea was a deal.  After the spy museum, we made our way again to Chinatown in search of Zagat-rated Burma restaurant. Though we had to wait a while for a table due to lack of staff, the meal was simple and delicious: golden eggplant; spring ginger salad; fried noodles with pork; and sour mustard plant (an odd-sounding dish, but worth a try — mustard green leaves pickled, diced and sauteed with shrimp).

Our trip ended with a trip to Eastern Market where I recalled a lively farmers’ market and delicious street food from my time in D.C.  The market building was closed, still under renovations due to last year’s fire, so we ended up at Le Pain Quotidien.  Horrible service, okay food. Ah well, time to go home!

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Savoring NYC, family-style

Once Upon a Tart

Once Upon a Tart

With more than 17,000 restaurants New York City is a foodie mecca. It made perfect sense to me to organize our itinerary not only for sightseeing but for eating. To navigate our way I relied on a friend’s recommendations, magazine reviews and Yelp on my iPhone to hedge our bets.

Here are the highlights of five days in Manhattan:

Friday:  First stop – Times Square and Virgil’s BBQ.  The Brisket Melt, smoked beef with grilled onions and melted cheese on rye with fries — deadly. By 9 p.m. we were finally hungry again. We headed out to dinner in Chinatown, aiming for Doyer’s, a renowned Vietnamese restaurant, but found it shuttered.  A few steps further we landed at Old Sichuan, not spectacular but certainly tasty. Egg drop soup with corn, steamed pork dumplings, pork with peking sauce and crispy shrimp with the tiniest baby bok choy I’ve ever seen.  We dubbed it “infant” bok choy.

Barney Greengrass

Lox and more at Barney Greengrass

Barney Greengrass

Blintzes for the Boys

Saturday: Armed with a chef’s picks for his favorite stops on the Upper West Side, we headed for Barney Greengrass. A classic  bagel with lox for my husband; I opted for the smoked sable and eggs.  Our friendly waiter suggested latkes and blintzes for the boys. Smiles all around. An excellent experience worth the price. Lunch found us in Little Italy enjoying lunch at Grotto Azzurra, a freebie as part of our our double-decker bus tour. My rigatoni alla vodka was satisfying and the boys’ chicken parmesan looked even better. This place reportedly was a fave of Sinatra and others in the Rat Pack.

Sunday: A turn of plans instigated a day of meandering. Hoards of people waiting in the rain for the ferry to Ellis Island convinced us to buy tickets for another day.  Instead, we wandered northward. The guys had grabbed a hot dog while I hustled through Century 21 for a new handbag. By the time we hit Greenwich Village, they were hungry again.

Once Upon a Tart

Tempting display at Once Upon a Tart

As we wandered up MacDougal, I had a vague recollection of sharing a falafel sandwich with a client years ago. I sensed we were in the right spot for a filling snack. The boys dug into their falafel sandwiches (a deal at $2.50 each compared to the $5 hot dog at the World Trade Center site). I held out in hopes of finding the perfect Village cafe. It worked. On Sullivan, I lucked into Once Upon a Tart for an amazing carrot ginger soup and mushroom spinach tart.

Breakfast on the Run

Monday:  Breakfast with the worker-bees at Bagel and Bean. Next, a highlight of our NYC trip was seeing the Tim Burton exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. For a light lunch, I enjoyed a delightful antipasto spread at MoMa’s Cafe 2 .

Cafe2 at MoMA

Chickpea citrus salad with shrimp, roasted red pepper, brussels sprouts with chestnuts at MoMA's Cafe2

Our museum day ended with a stroll through Central Park, lovely and quiet. I was told THE BEST burgers and shakes could be found nearby at the Shake Shack. We agreed. (Check out the Shack Cam on Madison Square Park location. We hit the Upper West Side location about 6:15 with no wait at all.)

Tuesday – A very wet, cold day at Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty ended with four delicious soups from a great spot in Rockefeller Center — Hale and Hearty — the precursor to the Soup Man on Seinfeld.

At this point in the trip I had “fries with that” three times in five days. Not a good trend.

A few asides:

M&M store NYC

M&M custom blends in Times Square

Maybe it’s no surprise, but we managed to hit two candy stores on our first day — M&M’s and Hershey — both in Times Square.  But our fave was on the Lower East Side at Economy Candy. Son #2 scored a giant gummi rat and the Easter Bunny was able to sneak some Lindt bunnies and Peeps when the boys weren’t looking. The treats survived the trip to DC for a fun surprise six days later. Also, we were able to trim our food budget by eating in the room for a few meals.  Near the hotel were several options: Dinner take-out from Great American Health Bar and Pizza Villagio Cafe. For breakfast Morton Williams supermarket provided the fixings.

Up next: A few highlights from the D.C. leg of our trip.

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The best porn ever

Porn. Free. Check it out. It’s yummy. Really.

April Fool’s 🙂

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