Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Oyster mushroom harvest

 I grew oyster mushrooms in my living room. Crazy, right? I must admit, it was a bit creepy when I first spotted the little fungus nubbins poking through the plastic bag containing the bail of straw in which mushroom spores are embedded. And awed and amazed when with each passing half day the mushrooms kept getting larger and larger. And just this past weekend, they were large enough to harvest! The instructions that came with my mushroom kit said to twist off gently so as not to disrupt the surrounding environment, but the whole mushroom family came off together and didn't want to be separated when we tried to remove them individually. Sadly, I'm on a liver cleanse until April 6 so this harvest was bequeathed to C's mother. I trust she will make something delicious with them and here's hoping for a few more harvests so I can sample them for myself!


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Traveling Cupcake: North Carolina, Day 2

The next morning after our night at Mamma Mia!, my Aunt and I drove first to A Southern Season which I would describe to you as a LARGE Dean & Deluca of the South. A huge wine section (I bought a bottle of French wine, "La Poule Blanche" to take back to Chicago), cheese section, chocolate section...really need I go on? Let me tell you if you're in the Raleigh/Durham area anytime soon...drive on over to A Southern Season and spend a good 2 hours there...you won't regret it. After tasting and shopping our way through A Southern Season we headed over to Fearrington Village in Pittsboro. Before exploring this quaint shopping spot, we decided to have lunch at The Old Granary Restaurant. And we were so glad we did. My Aunt had the Chicken Salad (which consisted of: celery, gala apple, red onion, grapes, spiced walnuts, potato straws, mixed greens and rosemary dressing). I had the Chicken Pot Pie which was served with the ingredients (slow-cooked chicken, winter vegetables, mustard and parsley cream) outside the buttery puff pastry.


Traveling Cupcake: North Carolina

I spent last weekend in North Carolina visiting my Aunt. What's the first thing we did after leaving the airport? Eat! My Aunt found this great place called, Mamma Mia! in Apex, North Carolina. When we walked in the lovely man that greeted us said buona sera in a real Italian accent, I knew we were in for a wonderful dinner. We started with a glass of wine each and then ordered a 16 inch Bianca pizza ("New York style thin crust with fresh garlic, ricotta and mozzarella cheese") and added eggplant and meat balls for our toppings. Soo good and soo much pizza that when I left last Tuesday afternoon there were still slices in my Aunt's refrigerator to eat! What I also loved was as we left the restaurant in this strip mall were the kids sitting outside telling us to have a good night and to come back soon for food made by their Dad and Grandma. Love it.


Thursday, March 11, 2010


OMG, I can't get enough of pickle! Cucumbers, red onion, pepper corns, jalapeno, habañero, white wine vinegar and cider vinegar. Let it sit for a few hours and you'll have a spicy, épicé, picante and delicious condiment. I like it on everything except my breakfast.


Yogurt Hoarding Squirrels

We're all squirrels to a certain extent... hoarding stuff, easily mesmerized by shiny objects. Fusilli hoards toothpaste for fear they may stop making Colgate Winterfresh flavour. I once found ten tubes in the bathroom cupboard... seriously.

Anyway, now we're so addicted to our apples, yogurt and granola routine that we've started hoarding our favourite yogurt! It all started when we discovered Liberté's Méditerranée style vanilla yogurt and then quickly realized it's not always in plentiful supply. Running out of yogurt can lead to morning trauma, which is the worst kind of trauma. So now when it's in stock, we just grab everything on the shelf and run erratically to the checkout.




Splake is spotted lake trout. Add sauteed rapini with cannellini beans and garlic for a delicious dinner.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

New, New York

I've said it before... last minute trips are the best. If I liked surprise birthday parties, I imagine they'd feel like it did when Fusilli mentioned Dawes were playing at the Bowery Ballroom. Surprise!

What more could you ask for than a great live band in an incredible venue... in New York? Imagine Massey hall crossed with the HorseShoe. It's Perfection!

This trip we decided we would only try new things, no old favorites, only new, new, new! First new thing: the hotel. We arrived Friday night, and checked onto the Hampton Inn Soho. This might be the best deal in town. Set on the edge of Soho, just above Tribecca, you can anywhere in a flash.

We changed and went straight to dinner. Next stop on the new tour, Public on Elizabeth in Nolita. No pictures, too hungry. Fried Oysters in shizo leaf, white anchovy on lentil cakes and berkshire pork something. I ate so fast, I can hardly remember.

Why do concerts always start late? Do they want to sell more drinks?

By the end Dawes had the entire place singing along. Bonus points if you can spot me in the audience near the end of the video.

After the concert we headed to the next new spot, Los Felis, for Tequila and snacks. The list of Tequilla options was so long I just let the waiter decide what to put in my margarita. We had guacamole and a grilled shrimp soft tacos. So much better than late night pizza.

Saturday morning was bright and cold as we headed to Bread, a new breakfast option around the corner. We both had baked eggs in tomato sauce based on a vauge recollection of Prosecco's recent post. For some reason mine was full if garlic, but Fusillli had none. I picked out all the slices of garlic (totaling about 4 cloves) and just enjoyed their essence. Garlic and onions are like scotch, best enjoyed after 4pm. Topped up with breakfast we headed to Soho for a walk.

My ears were in danger of disappearing beneath my mop, a sight not seen since they emerged in 1984. Not wanting to revisit the "awkwark years", I stopped in at my favourite spot... The NYC Shaving Co. The only not-new stop on our trip. I always love visiting here for their old school vibe and skilled barbers. Plus, what's more obnoxious than saying... I had to go to New York to get my hair cut? Ha!

Observe the perfection master barber Fracesco bestowed on my slowly disappearing head of hair. That perfect line was the result of much clipping, buzzing and staight shaving. Bravo Francesco!

It was time for lunch, so we headed to the much anticipated Breslin in the swank (new?) Ace hotel. This was turned out to be the highlight of the trip, and the reward for trying something new. I was expecting fancy pub food, but it was so much more.

First up, caesar salad. Perhaps the best I've ever had. I loved the full uncut lettuce leaves and the light and lemony dressing. It was topped with anchovy croutons and whole anchovies. Wickedly good.

Next we had a moist and delicious lamb burger with what I'm told are the best fries in NYC. They might be the best fries I've ever had! Thrice fried, and accompanied with a delicious cumin mayo dip.

The fries were so good, I had to take a close-up. They were thick and crispy, without the mushy centre. Bravo Breslin!

Saturday night we wanted to try Dinero's restaurant in TriBeCa, Locanda Verde. Unfortunately, the place was so packed so we had to come back for breakfast instead. No complaints, the brunch was incredible. I had Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with blueberries and meyer lemon curd.

Fusilli had the Uovo Modenese with cottechino hash, spinach and tomato hollandaise.

I loved the giant balls of yarn. I've never seen that before. New? Check!

Stopping for a glass of prosecco after walking for a few hours was nice, but the real treat was sitting outside on a patio in February. Cheers!

By the end of the day we needed one more meal before heading to the airport. Our first choice was closed, but they were kind enough to recommend Ideya, just down the street. They make excellent Mojitos.

What's better with a Mojito than a cuban sandwich?

Proof that we weren't the only summer jumpers enjoying the unseasonably warm weather. At least I wasn't in shorts and flip-flops.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Pu-pu Platter

It's not really a Pu-pu platter, but that sounds so much more interesting than mediterranean platter. This awesome platter has chicken salad, cucumber salad, hummus, olives and pita bread. To drink, a delicious grapefruit G&T.


Porked Eggs

I was going to title this post... A Poaching Perfection, because I recently learned the secret to poaching eggs, but my inner editor protested. I think my little editor was right, a vaguely rude title is always better than a bad pun.

So, the secret to poached eggs, as revealed by a current student of the Stratford Chef School. Stir the water to create a gentle vortex and then crack the egg into the centre. Simple, brilliant, and it works like a charm. The other basics still apply: Water at a gentle boil with a splash of vinegar and a pinch of salt. My additional discovery is that you can't create a vortex when there's already an egg in the water. So, poach for 30 seconds to let the egg set, pull it out with a slotted spoon and hold it in a dish until your next egg is set. Drop the other egg back in the water and poach to perfection. Don't forget to drain your eggs on a towel before putting it on your [insert meal here] or you'll drown it with watery poached eggs.

I took a second shot midway, after adding some Frank's, but it looked too much like the opening sequence from Dexter. For the unrated version, continue reading.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Memories of Cubano

In the history of sandwiches, one sandwich stands out... the Cubano. Before College street was all that... and then not again, you could always count on a Cubano before a game of pool at Bar Italia. A Cubano consists of a crusty bun filled with roast pork, crispy pancetta, avocado, radicchio and garlic mayo.

Here's our attempt, and if I may say so... a worthy contender to replace the original. I made mine with a mix of mayo and Frank's hot sauce, which added a nice smokey heat. The real star was Fusilli's roast pork shoulder that had been cooking for six hours. Fall-aparty goodness!


Lemon–Almond Tart

The perfect, quick dessert... especially when your only job is eat it! From the always reliable Bitten.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Mega Salad

I went out to my favorite local lunch spot today. First, because it was warm enough to venture outside for the first time in a while.

Side note: Heated car seats are perhaps the greatest cold weather comfort ever invented. The problem is, you can't drive everywhere. So I'm throwing out this idea... heated pants. Imagine that feeling when you put on your pants, fresh from the dryer. Not so hot that the rivets in your jeans burn you, just that toasty warm feeling that puts a silly grin on your face. Now imagine your waiting for the street car with toasty warm pants in the midddle of winter.

The second reason I went out for lunch is to prove to Prosecco that salads rule! Observe—The Mega Salad! Tell me you wouldn't want to eat that! Grilled chicken, red leaf lettuce, tomato, cucumber, shredded carrots, shredded beets, pumpkin seeds, sun flower seeds and wheat grass. All topped with a hemp seed vinaigrette.