Thursday, March 16, 2017

No Booze for 30 days

I got inspired to quit alcohol for 30 days after discussing the Whole 30 with a friend. While I ultimately decided that I didn't want to do the program, I thought it would be fun to give up something I've never given up before. Well, fun may not be the right word. I wasn't really drinking much anyway but still would enjoy a drink once a week for so prior to my 30 day experiment. The first two weeks were fine, it didn't bother me at all and I went to several social functions.

By the third week, I would have loved a drink but it still wasn't too bad. During this time, I accepted a new job and my husband took me out for dinner. Normally, I would have ordered a glass of champagne to celebrate but of course, I did not. My husband wanted me to get dessert instead, but I wasn't really feeling that either (I did not give up sugar during the experiment, but I wasn't eating much of it either). For someone who loves to celebrate with good drinks and good food, this was a little shocking, even to me.

As my time was winding down, I did make plans to jump back into the swing of things, and I was looking forward to it. Ben and I went to a fancy pants dinner at Arnaud's and I got a beautiful cocktail with gin, Aperol and grapefruit. What a way to enter back into the world of alcohol! But really, the whole drinking thing wasn't as exciting as I had imagined. It was not a big deal to quit drinking. Granted, I don't want to do it for the long haul! And while I did not notice anything much changed while I was alcohol-free (no change in energy, no weight loss), I did feel quite virtuous. And it really has changed how I think about when and what I want to drink. For example, I went out over the weekend and had one drink. We went to several places but that was enough for me. I may try this again, this time sugar-free. But it'll probably have to wait.

Product Review: Healthy-Ade Pomegranate Kombucha

Friday, August 5, 2016

Buffalo in Bloom

I got to go home this past week, which was beautiful in many ways. But the most obvious way was to stroll the streets in high summer and take in all of these stately homes and gorgeous gardens.


Friday, July 22, 2016

Artichoke-Avocado Tabouleh

I went through a phase several years ago in which I was obsessed with tabouleh. This surprised me as I don't really like parsley. but something happens when you mix it with tart lemons, fruity olive oil and sweet, peak of the season tomatoes. I also like it because it's one of those recipes that is a method and a canvas for a variety of ingredients. It's traditionally made with tomatoes and cucumbers but this week, I made it sans cucumbers and added artichokes and avocados. I believe that the typical proportion of bulgur wheat to parsley is rather low, so that it's more of a parsley salad. I know it's blasphemy, but I prefer the ratio of bulgur to parsley to be a little more even. But you make it how you like it! It's versatility is part of its charm. This version is beautiful to look at, bursting with freshness, and makes you feel pretty good too.

Serves one hungry woman at lunch time

1/4 cup bulgur wheat
1 whole lemon, zested and juiced
1 T. olive oil
cinnamon (optional)
sumac (optional)
1/2 bunch of parsley
a few springs of mint, approximately 20 leaves
15-20 of the juiciest, ripest cherry tomatoes you can find, halved
1/2 cup frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted and chopped
Sprinkling of pickled onions (alternatively, slice red or white onion very thinly)
1-2 cups romaine, chopped
1/3 of an avocado

I like my bulgur to have a bit of bite so I skip pre-cooking and pre-soaking. I just add it right into the dressing and let that soak into each grain, for maximum flavor. If you like things a little softer, feel free to cook it. So, soak the bulgur in the zest and juice of the lemon, the olive oil, S&P and, if you choose, a sprinkle of cinnamon and sumac. I'd let this sit at least 20 minutes but I usually prep this part at night for my lunch so it sits for some time.

Chop parsley and mint and stir into bulgur. Parsely can be done ahead of time but mint will get black from the contact with the knife so chop right before eating. Mix with the tomatoes, artichokes and onions. I always keep a jar of pickled onions in the refrigerator but you can use regular onions. I would just recommend soaking them in water for 20 minutes or so to take out some of the sting. Once this is all mixed up, I add it to a bed of lettuce (dressed with a little bit more olive oil) and top with avocado slices. Everyone at work will be jealous.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Fig Season!

There's nothing like a beautiful bowl of figs. These are, ahem, foraged from some nearby trees. True, I'm pilfering, but no one seems to eat them and I hate waste!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Ciao, Italia!

I arrived in Italy several hours before my mother. I'm still not sure how I found the apartment (left on Via San Franceso, left at Piazza di Santa Maria, right at Piazza di Sant'Egidio and one last turn I don't remember!) but a kindly waiter helped steer me there. Naturally, I had to explore the neighborhood a bit (Trastevere), but first order of business was lunch. I had read about this little spot that sounded incredible, but what was even more amazing was that it was located right next door to our apartment! Kismet for sure. I had a salad with smoked swordfish, almonds and strawberries, plus a piece of wildly spongy and flavorful focaccia. The salad was nice, but I wish I had ordered pasta or a panino.

After lunch, I did some requisite wandering. I don't remember exactly what I did or saw last time I was in Rome, but several of the piazzas looked very familiar. I even stumbled upon the crepe place that Nicole and I went to back in 2008! (Fonte della Salute) I saw someplace with cassata flavored ice cream. Mmm...

About mid-afternoon, I stopped for the perfect afternoon cocktail. Reminder to get a bottle of Campari for the home bar. I love it, but I haven't had any around for far too long.

Finally, Mamma arrived and we went to Popi Popi for dinner. A little touristy but I was pleasantly surprised. We ordered out first of many (over the course of the trip, not the night) mezzolitro of the house red, fried zucchini flowers stuffed with cheese and anchovies, and cacio e pepe. We ordered the roman-style artichoke too but were told that they were out of season. I guess we have to come back in the spring for our next trip. Pleasantly sated, but not overly full, we dove into a deep sleep to prepare for our one full day in Rome together.

Monday, July 4, 2016

New York City-Round Three

I've been back from vacation now for a week and I'm still not totally unpacked, I have loads of laundry to do and in general need to get my life back in order. So catching up on all the details of my beautiful trip are slow but this post will mark the end of the NYC portion, then I can move on to ITALY!

On Monday, Ben wanted to see the 9/11 site and I wanted to get on a boat. So we headed to the Financial District and ended up at Ambrose for lunch. I was worried that it wouldn';t be good becasue we were in a sort of touristy area, but the blood suagr was low and I needed to eat. I was actually pleasantly surpised. We shared a Connecticut lobster roll (with butter, not mayo, mmmm) and a lobster-avocado lettuce wrap. As we left, Ben peeked into a candy store next door and I would have just passed it by but we went in. It was full of candies from my youth and lots of funny gift-type things, with my favorite being the blow up rafts that look like a slice of pizza. I want to get a bunch so I can make a pizza in my non-existent pool! I'll have to remember this place when I'm stumped for gift ideas for Ben, he loves candy and is easily entertained by things meant for children. I say that lovingly!

We decided to get a free ride on a boat by jumping on the Staten Island Ferry. I've never taken it, never been to Staten Island and I can't say that this trip I did anything more than step off the boat, just to reboard a few minutes later. But it was great to see NY from the water and you can't beat free.

My next mission was oyster happy hour. I love my Louisiana oysters but they're a particular breed. I'm a big fan of New England oysters too so I wanted to take the opportunity while I could. Most happy hours did not start until 5. If I had done my research first, I would have found a few all-day happy hours on Sunday but alas, I did not. So we found one at Bait and Hook that started at 3. The oysters were ok and they had a crappy drink selection for happy hour. But just fine and they do have $5 Mussels on Mondays. That might be worth checking out. Next I went to meet my freind Katie at the Mermaid Inn, which had a killer happy hour (didn't start until 5 though) with amazing oysters and great drinks. Oh, and Katie brought Suki from DC to surprise me. Yay! I had the pink flamingo (gin, strawberry, lemon and basil) and it was one of my favorite drinks all weekend.

Ben had one request for our NYC weekend and it was to go to Momofuku. We went right as they opened and had nor problem getting a table for 4. If we had gotten there 20 minutes later, there would have been a wait. Luckily, I'm a senior citizen and I like to eat early. We ordered the soy sauce egg, kimchi sampler, ramen, brisket bun, shiitake bun, and asparagus with smoked trout. I really liked the pickled vegetables on the kimchi sample and the shiitake bun, although there was nothing I didn't like. All of the ingredients were not listed on the asparagus dish, it was set bed on a creamy base of garlic, ramps and ricotta, which was wonderful but very different from the flavors of all the other dishes. Too full for dessert, we stopped off at Hearth for an after-dinner drink. Very skippable but happy hour and dinner were both so satisfying, and the company was unrivaled, so no one really cared.