Saturday, September 19, 2009

Let's Plan a Trip

I can't believe I forgot to mention this, but after I posted about Trader Joe's and the Joe-Joe's, I learned that Trader Joe's is all over Virginia! Have I ever been happier? I'm not sure. I haven't gone here in Virginia yet, but I feel so relieved to know it's in my future.

So the big, huge, exciting news is that we are officially moving to D.C. Sam got a job out here, so we will be moving in the next couple weeks. We spent the day driving around, looking for apartments, and I am so excited to start getting to know the area.

And lastly, Sam sent me a link to this blog post written by a woman who dined at a place called Dans Le Noir?, a restaurant where you dine in complete, 100%, pitch-black darkness. Also, the waiters are all blind. Are you not fascinated? Read the blog post, then you will want to take a trip to New York (or London or Paris or Barcelona) with me so we can go. (As if you needed another reason to take a trip to New York, London, Paris, or Barcelona.)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Every day I dream of living in my own place again and I dream of the kitchen. I imagine granite counter tops extending for miles, an oversized kitchen sink, a huge and fancy fridge, and cupboards and drawers and shelves galore. The mind can dream, but there are some things I know I'll get in my next kitchen, and those are some gadgets sitting in a storage unit in Provo right now that I miss dearly.

Firstly, my Henckel knives. Oh how I miss them-- the way they slice through onions like a hot wire through butter. They're beauties.

My cheese grater. Silly, right? It's been several weeks since I grated cheese, and before that, I was using my mom's ancient cheese grater that belonged to my grandma. Seriously. I never thought I would miss my cheese grater.

My Le Creuset. I want to make soups and stews and sauces and casseroles and all sorts of autumnal fares. Plus, it's beautiful, and I like to just stare at it.

My butter bell. I really enjoy toast, as do Bria and Sam. And I like my butter to be cool and fresh, but spreadable. Oh I miss unsalted butter on toast with homemade jam. mmmmm.

Some day we will be reunited. Some day.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Joe-Joe Mojo

When I was in California, my sister Amy took me to Trader Joe's a couple times. I know it's such a cliche, but can I just say how much I love Trader Joe's? I mean, it's like my idea of utopia. On our first trip, I bought baby bok choy to make Nie Nie's fantastic tofu stir fry, and I found I liked the newborn version of the vegetable much more than its adult counterpart. Thank you, Trader Joe's! And on the same visit, Amy bought me a little container of the mini milk chocolate peanut butter cups. That same container is sitting approximately four inches from my computer right now, with just a few cups remaining, and I am eying those few cups seductively. When Amy said I would never be able to eat another Reese's peanut butter cup again, she wasn't kidding. The Trader Joe's cups are so smooth and creamy, and they lack one key distinguishing characteristic of their Reese's imitators: that waxy feeling. No, no, these Trader Joe's peanut butter cups melt in your mouth like they were made for your palate and yours alone. I cannot begin to describe the joy that is my mouth when I am eating one (or two or twenty) of these bad boys.

Now we come to next item of business. Joe-Joe's:(please note the apostrophe in joe-joe's on the package. I am having a moral dilemma about this apostrophe, and I just want everyone to know about it.)

OK. I may or may not be sitting here typing while eating joe-joe after joe-joe after joe-joe with a cup of WHOLE MILK to wash them down.

Like I say to Bria while changing her dirty diapers: This Is Serious.

Joe-Joe's are so good I could scream. In fact, I chatted my sister Whitney today: "I am so obsessed with joe-joe's. I am eating them right now and simultaneously crying and dying out of culinary pleasure and delight." (Yes, that means this is at least the second time today I have sat around eating multiple joe-joe's.)

Oh. What's a joe-joe? Well, look at that picture up above and see that it is very much like unto an Oreo. Only, like the picture, I got the ones with the chocolate filling. And the filling is so. much. better. than an Oreo's. It oozes out just a little when you bite into it (but not so much it drips). It is soft and creamy, and all natural, with no hydrogenated oils, which means I don't think it will take 72 hours to digest, or however long it takes Oreo cream to get through.

Also, I would like to state for the record that I didn't like Oreos until I lived with my old roommate Audrey, who loves them. Sometimes I would eat Oreos with my roommates just to fit in (ah, peer pressure), and then I started liking Oreos. So, Audrey, I blame you. Also, Audrey is from the Bay Area, and so I can blame her, along with our other roommate Joanna, who is also from the Bay Area, for introducing me to Trader Joe's. I hold both of you responsible, and I will also be indebted to you for the rest of my life.

So, if you live in California, or anywhere near a Trader Joe's, and you, for some wild reason, have not yet indulged in a Joe-Joe, please, I beg of you, go buy some. And also buy another box and ship it to me. I expect to polish this box off my midnight and will probably be in withdrawals by 2 am.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Review: Sweet Water

Last night Sam and I went on a double date / business dinner with Marc and Jenn. Marc is Sam's brother, and they work together, and I write for Jenn's decorating business. So they took us to one of their favorite places here in Virginia: Sweet Water. It's been too long since Sam and I have been out together to a real restaurant without Bria-- it was almost like we were real human adults again!

Sweet Water is a tavern with American food-- which can be really hit or miss with me (usually miss) because when I think about American food, I think of places like Chili's and Applebee's. Sorry to say, those places make me gag. But Sweet Water was really rather delicious. The service could have been better. Our waiter seemed content to only make conversation with Marc, whom we're sure the waiter pegged as the meal ticket. And I frequently found myself without water. Even though he kept our diet cokes full the entire meal, I had to ask for a water refill the first time and then had to just make do with my diet coke. This may not seem like such a big deal, but I am a big water drinker, and it's the small details like staying hydrated during a meal that make the difference.

I had the Short Smoked Salmon Filet. I am pretty picky about fish, so I never order it, but both Marc and Jenn recommended this, and I am so glad I got it. It was so delightful and flavorful. It was marinated perfectly and had a fantastic crust from the grill. The salmon was cooked perfectly: the chef recommends the salmon to be cooked medium, but I tend to need more time to mentally prepared myself for raw fish, so I requested it to be medium well. I am so glad I did that, because it was perfect. It was flaky, tender, soft, and juicy: exactly how I would want it to be. It was served over mashed red potatoes, which I am not typically wild about, but these were quite tasty: a very good texture and quite flavorful.

For dessert we got the warm flourless chocolate waffle. Oh. Heaven. It was seriously divine. It was a dense, chocolate cake-like waffle served with a scoop of the creamiest vanilla ice cream with a fudge sauce and a little carmel sauce too. The cake was flavorful and moist and it didn't melt the ice cream too much. It was an excellent chocolate too-- both the waffle and the chocolate sauce (which was pretty thick and fudgy). I'm a dark chocolate fan, and this had a great dark undertone so I didn't feel like I was on a milk chocolate and sugar overload. The ice cream was so creamy I could have cried. The flavors married so perfectly, as did the textures. It was absolutely the best way to end the meal.

Writing this is making me drool thinking about my leftover salmon in the fridge upstairs-- and I just ate lunch. When Sam and I move out here I'm pretty sure it's going to become one of our family favorites.

Thanks to Jenn for taking pictures on her iphone! Can you see me and sam trying to lean away in the background of the pictures?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dear Friends,

I couldn't wait until October to update you on my trip! I have been having such a lovely time so far, I wanted to give you a sneak peek of what will come once I am reunited with my camera cord and a little stability.
I arrived in Virginia this morning at 6:10 am. The red-eye flight with Bria was worse than I hoped, but so much better than I feared. She slept most of the time, but did tire of being held a couple hours in. All in all, I couldn't wish for a better baby. During our layover + delay in Long Beach, she was spinning in circles then falling over dizzy, making our fellow passengers fall in love with her. What a joy she is.
We had such a fantastically wonderful time in California, and I experienced some true culinary delights. We visited the Palo Alto farmer's market on Saturday, which made me swoon. The vast array of produce was enough to make my heart skip several beats. Expect pictures, because, seriously, I was in heaven. We also enjoyed some fantastic curries, satay, and pad thai from Rice last night, and my sister taught me some Thai culinary history. I can't wait to share.
Right now Bria is sleeping, and I am wondering how she will transition to this time zone. What a little trooper she is. And now I will go bask in the joy of being reunited with Sam.