Sunday, November 30, 2008

Grape Pickers' Potatoes

I had to try this recipe based on the sheer amount of bacon required. It's another Winter Food recipe.

It didn't turn out quite as I had expected, so I'll have to try it again. I blame user error for it being soggy and undercooked. The recipe recommended a cast iron dish which I think would have made the outside crispier. I also kept it covered the entire time, which I assume made it soggy. I'm still confused about the potatoes being undercooked, it was in for over an hour.

After cooking it a bit longer we had it with a side of spinach and apple salad. 


Shrimp and Chorizo with Chickpea Purée

Here's another recipe for Jill Norman's Winter Food. This isn't a 15-minute meal, but it isn't complicated either.

On the bottom there is a chickpea and spinach puree. Over that, chorizo, and then topped with pan seared shrimp.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Sloppy Shrimp Salad

“Bachelor” nights are when I like to cook. That's when Fusilli is out of town, and I'm left to fend for myself. She doesn't understand why I don't cook more when she's around, which is fair, but perfectly logical from my perspective. Her food tastes better than mine.

This shrimp salad was quite good, but I think sloppy is an accurate description. The avocado was very soft, and it didn't hold up to my tossing. The shrimp were wild, and I do mean wild. I added an entire red chili, hoping to add some heat, but I didn't get any. I tossed it with lots of lime juice, zest and olive oil.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giant Head's Pea Pea Puree

The food Network has some awesome recipes, like this one Fusilli tried last night – Salmon in Lemon Brodetto with Pea Puree.

We still had lot's of chicken stock from the Tortilla soup, so Fusilli used it to create a soupy variation. The Salmon was perfectly seared and pink in the middle. You can't see the pea pea puree at the bottom, but it was delicious with a nice parmesan bite. A perfect winter meal.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Cookie Friday update

I know it's been awhile, but Cookie Fridays are back! Last week was a double whammy with Skor bar cookie facing off with good old PB & J. Tim suggested a Mars bar cookie, but in the end it was Natalie's request for a Skor cookie that won out. In case you're wondering where the grape jelly's hiding, it's inside the peanut butter cookie so you get that true peanut butter and jelly flavour mashup when you take a bite. Mathew suggested a poll to vote on which one was the favourite. What do you think?


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Polenta and Black Bean Casserole

We ended up with a huge amount of soup, so Fusilli decided to use some of the stock to make polenta. The polenta went into the casserole and made an awesome meal. Check out the recipe.


Fresh Granola

We ran out of granola again, so I made a fresh batch. This has lots of goodness – walnuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, oats, bran, flax, almond butter, cinnamon, vanilla and honey. I bought a bag of dried blueberries, but I'm going to add them as needed. Apparently, some people don't like dried fruit in their granola.


Tortilla Soup

Fusilli made an old favorite this weekend - Tortilla Soup. I always think of it as the liquid equivalent of fajitas. First you make chicken soup... chicken + water + heat. Then you roast tomatoes, garlic, jalapeños, green & white onion. The roasted vegetables are puréed once they cool, and then added to the soup. When the chicken is done, you pull it out, let it cool and then pull it into bit size pieces.

This is the best part – prepare toppings for the soup. Cut tortilla shells into strips and toast them until crispy. Grate cheese. Chop cilantro. Slice avocado. Quarter a lime. Ready the plain yogurt, or sour cream. When you're ready to serve, ladle the soup into a bowl. Add chicken, and the rest of the toppings as desired. So good!


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Winter Breakfast

You can only delude yourself that winter is coming for so long. Pretty much until the first snow... when you find yourself super-sliding down the sidewalk. If anyone has a winter boot suggestion, I'm looking, and so for no luck. Please note: I'm too old to wear lace-ups, so slip-on suggestions only, thank-you.

Now that it's crap out, sun or no sun, I'm into the oatmeal. Just a point of clarification – if your "oatmeal" takes 2 minutes, or worse, you just have to add hot water... it's not oatmeal. It has to be punished in boiling water for 25 minutes to qualify as oatmeal. Would you eat instant pasta? I didn't think so.

Because oatmeal is pretty much inedible on its own, we've stocked up with a seasons worth of frozen blueberries from Herrle's. Barring any freezer malfunction, I'm good until spring. This morning I added a dollop of everyone's favorite – black cherry yogurt.


Unpronounceably Delicious

An old friend was in town to screen her documentary film Died Young Stayed Pretty - A Movie About Rock Posters. If you appreciate gig posters and graphic design, this documentary is for you.

To celebrate, we went to Teronni on Queen for dinner. I had my favorite – Orecchiette with Lamb Ragù. It was excellent... as usual. I'm including a photo of the dessert because it was a daily special. I can't remember the exact name, that even our gracious server was unable to pronounce. It was something like Gurajtadah, or Glabjihatzflap... regardless, it was a dense, flourless, hazelnut chocolate cake, accompanied by a dollop of whipped creme. F*ck it was good.

**Update** Prosecco has schooled me in Italian, the dessert was called Gianduja. I still can't pronounce it, but now at least I know what it is.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Close Shaves & Happy Endings

For me, visiting NYC is like time travel. I'm not sure if I'm in the past or the future, it depends on the moment. When I was in our rental apartment I felt like I was in an alternate universe, but that's another story.

After a long week of walking, navigating the subway, playing sidewalk chicken and eating, all I wanted to do was take a nap. I also needed a shave, so I decided to combine the two. Earlier in the week I had passed two barber shops in the span of a few blocks and I made a mental note to return.

After the Museum of Natural History I was beat, so I headed back to Nolita, to the New York Shaving Company on Elizabeth St. If you hate shaving, but love hot towels... this is heaven. The whole process takes about a half-hour, which is just long enough to get fully relaxed. It involves liberal amounts of lathering, hot toweling, face massaging, face slapping, spritzing and finally paying.

I can't think of a better way to end a trip.


Casa Mono

This was our last meal before leaving for the airport, so we had to make it count. Not wanting to take any chances, we headed for Casa Mono, an incredible Spanish Tapas spot. I love tapas, you get to order everything on the menu and you still have room for dessert. If you're up for a show, sit at the bar facing the kitchen.

What we had:

• Cana de Cabra with Golden Beets
• Sweetbreads with Fennel al Mono
• Pig's Feet with Rainbow Chard and Cranberries
• Sepia a la Plancha with Salsa Verde
• Burnt Vanilla Custard (with breaded, deep fried bay leaves)


Barney Greengrass: The Sturgeon King

An old friend introduced us to The Sturgeon King years ago. Since then, I can't visit the city without making the long trip to the upper west side for smoked fish. This meal will get you through the day if necessary, but I like to get there early so I can still have lunch.

This time I noticed other tables engaged in a ritual I've never seen before. While chatting, they were all hollowing out their bagel halves, making a channel. Next, the channel was filled with smoked fish, and the creme cheese was applied on top. Fascinating.


Ditch Plains

Ummm, what can I say here? This was a detour on the culinary road trip... an anomaly in a week of incredible food. This would have been the perfect meal for Prosecco before the marathon. It's a carb load extraordinaire.

And yes, that's not one, but two hot dogs covered in macaroni and cheese sitting on a bed of fries. Prosecco ordered the chili dog version and C. was sensible, sticking with fish. It's about as good as it looks... I'll leave that statement open to your interpretation.

One interesting thing, the restaurant only served wine by the bottle. You could order a half-bottle, but nothing by the glass.


Gramercy Tavern

I don't think there's a more comfortable dining room in the city. If you sit at the short end of the bar you have a great view of the wood fired oven, the incredible flower arrangements, and that tree at the end of the bar. Sitting at the bar also makes me feel more comfortable when I'm just ordering a snack. I'd love to visit with clients and an expense account.

What we had:
• Calamari & Carrot Salad – Toasted Pine Nuts and Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette
• Merguez Sausage – Chickpeas, Swiss Chard, Almonds and Harissa

More about Gramercy Tavern.


Gitane – Part Deux

We all went back to Cafe Gitane for breakfast before hitting the MoMa. I was totally having breakfast envy looking at Prosecco's baked eggs. I decided on the "fibre" option and fueled up with coffee, chocolate croissant, granola, yogurt and fruit. Did you know that pain au chocolat provides 100% of your daily fibre requirements?



You can't spend the entire time in NYC eating – trust me I've tried. You have to build up your appetite by walking, shopping and seeing all the amazing, weird and random things the city has to offer. When you're not eating, check out the incredible collection at the MoMA. I wish I'd started on the top floor, which I assume is the permanent collection, because they had incredible work I've never seen in person. Can you believe that Henri Rousseau was painted in 1910?

Walking around, you're guaranteed to see and stumble on things that will make you laugh. That fancy poodle lived in the fancy apartments next to the MoMA. That firehouse in Tribeca is where they filmed Ghost Busters!

By far, my favorite place to build up an appetite is the Museum of Natural History. They have the most amazing collection, and the dioramas will blow your mind. The Hall of Biodiversity alone is worth the price of admission. Look at incredible variety of species. You get hungry just looking at it, thinking of how many you've eaten, and which are your favorites. Mmmm, time for lobster rolls.


Pearl Oyster Bar

It's hard to visit NYC and not end up at the same places you always go. I guess it's no different than being at home, you like what you like. I really like Pearl Oyster Bar, even when I have to line up. They're totally cool about getting you a drink while you wait, or taking your name so you can go for a walk before dinner. This time, when we arrived, we were whisked to a table at the back without waiting. First time ever!

We also found out shortly after arriving that Tyra had been there the night before... at the table right next to ours! We all lamented a missed opportunity to smile at her with our eyes. Although, if you've seen my passport photo, I "attempted" the eye smile and I look psychotic and constipated. Probably best we missed her.

We started with Oysters, but we were really there for the lobster rolls. I was a bit worried that we had over sold it to Prosecco and C. – the phrase "life changing" isn't often associated with lobster rolls. I'll leave it to Prosecco to comment how it lived up to expectation.

I've also included a picture of the chocolate sundae Prosecco ordered. For some reason P. was unable to finish her roll, but had room for a sundae. I'm not complaining, we all helped finish the lobster roll and then got a taste of dessert. Bonus.



Prosecco and C. recommended Aurora after they had dinner there and really enjoyed it. We decided to stop in for an afternoon snack when it started raining, and I'm so glad we did. We shared two delicious appetizers – roasted beets and grilled octopus.



The prosciutto at Lupa is the best I've ever had. It just melts as you eat it, and it's sliced perfectly thin. The trouble is getting in to try it. The first night we stopped in, the bar and restaurant were completely full. The next night, election night, we had no problem getting a table for four. Thank-you Mr. President.

After we all shared the prosciutto, I had the one thing I can never resist when I see it on a menu – sweetbreads. I was so excited when it arrived, I completely forgot to take pictures of the other entrées. I also had two side dishes, roasted squash and rapini. So good!

More about Lupa.


Bottega del Vino

Walking all day requires extra food energy. You can't get by on three meals when you're hoofing it all over the city, playing an endless game of side-walk chicken. What is it with New Yorkers? It's like Rollerball out there.

Bottega del Vino has a little patio and a coffee bar up front, with a great view of 5th avenue. You can't tell from the picture but that's a flour-less molten chocolate cake filled with caramelized banana.



Walking up Bowery, hungry & tired. Luckily there's a great restaurant on every corner. This one even had a nice patio.

We shared two salads. Grilled shrimp, shaved fennel and orange. Beets, arugula and goat cheese.


Ninja Restaurant

I didn't eat here (everyone knows Ninjas can't cook) but I couldn't resist taking a picture. How weird? Very.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Cafe Gitane

Another spot discovered while wandering around Nolita. It was packed at 4pm, so we made note to try it for breakfast the next day. It was a beautiful sunny morning to sit outside, enjoying the front row at a street fashion show. After the previous night's burger, this was about all I could manage.


Elizabeth's Crispy Cheese Burger with Garlicky Garlic Fries

The best places are usually found when you're lost, wandering around, not really looking for anything. As we wandered by Elizabeth, on Elizabeth Street, I peeked at their menu. Instantly, I knew where we were going for dinner. I also wondered if this was an opportunity to de-throne the legendary burger that Fusilli and Manchego love to reminisce about.

While I'd love to say this was the best burger I've ever had... it wasn't. I'm still putting my vote behind the Animal Style. I will give the potato wedges full marks. I'm partial to traditional fries, but their garlicky garlic fries were awesome. 

It's hard to tell from the picture, but this burger is huge! I tried and failed to pick it up with my hands. Only C. was able to manage this beast. Props to his burger strategy which involved tackling the crispy cheese, sticking out all the way around, before devouring the centre. In fact, C. was the only one able to eat the whole thing... a theme repeated through out the week. It's always the skinny ones who can pack it away. Respect.



I can't remember the name of this place, or where it was. All I remember is the hunger.

Not much to say here... banana and chocolate is the schizz.


Bread Bar at Tabla

I love Indian food, and this is one of my favorite places for a $$ lunch or dinner. Unfortunately, the picture doesn't capture how fantastic this was. Everything was so fresh and the flavors... musical.

Here's what we had:
Goan Guacamole – With toasted cumin & lime juice
Bhoondi Raita – Organic yogurt, crispy petit chickpea dumplings and tasted cumin
Bombay Bhel Puri – Street salad with puffed rice, apples, tamarind & mint chutneys
Pumpkin Rasam – Toasted pumkin seeds, curry leaves and cilantro (Surprise! It's soup)

Bonus – The washrooms are huge and immaculate. I'm booking a stall for my next trip.



By the time you arrive in NYC you've probably been traveling for a few hours. You're probably hungry too. But is it time for lunch? Dinner? No, it's usually 11 am, 3pm, or midnight if you were foolish enough to fly Continental. Snack time!

For me it's always snack time, and ’ino is the best place for a snack. They make perfect little bruschette with fresh, seasonal ingredients. They have a full menu and they serve until 2am.

Don't for get to order a Belini!


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

pizza and eggplant, mussels and frites

We're too tired tonight to go into detail about what was for dinner, so here are the pics. I made mussels in white wine sauce and crispy fingerling potatoes, but then my sidekick's mother sent over two trays of homemade Italian delicacies: white pizza with tomato & zucchini *and* my favourite, stuffed eggplant! Guess what I'm having for lunch tomorrow, Broccoli?


Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I voted for Presidential Candidate Barack Obama today!  That's no surprise to anyone who has known me since 2004. After voting today, I took a walk in this beautiful sunny and warm weather to Sarah's Pastries & Candies in my neighborhood and treated myself to an Election Day lunch (A grilled ham & swiss sandwich, an Izze soda and with every sandwich they give you a complimentary piece of Sarah's chocolate!) and a cookie for my candidate!  I've seen a wide variety of candidate-decorated pastries these past weeks at some of my favorite haunts in the city.  

If you're lucky enough to be headed to the rally tonight in Grant Park, be safe and be careful! For my fellow Canadian bloggers in NYC, be safe and have fun tonight!  As for me, I'll be watching the election results with friends at a favorite pub!