Friday, May 20, 2011

Revenge of the Nerds

First of all, I'm highly suspicious that this is incredibly nerdy. But, I made homemade jam. And homemade bread. And then I made homemade butter. It was, like, this incredibly organic process where I just knew everything that needed to come together. Also, Sam has been working nights, which has led to more than one existential crisis late at night, and I start working in the kitchen when I should be in bed.
The strawberries were purchased on an incredible sale-- too many at once, though-- so jam was the logical solution.

The bread was, well, gone, so I needed to make more. And then the butter. I saw this post on Design*Sponge recently, and it latched onto my brain and kept nudging its way into all my thoughts, both night and day: "homemade butter. homemade butter. homemade butterrrrrr." Very haunting.

I didn't even have very much cream to make the butter, but it was easy and beautiful and enough to fill me with the thrill and joy of kitchen success. I may never go back to store-bought.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Try This Tuesday

Quick! Before it's too hot to use your stove for dinner, make this soup. Even though we're more than half way through May, I promise it won't taste too heavy. Plus, it's beautiful (red lentils!):
It should be noted that I had no Aleppo pepper, so I just skipped it. And I only had plain old paprika, so I used that. And the whole thing was very reminiscent of this soup, but infinitely more simple, which, if you're going to make soup in late May, is kind of a requisite.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Of the United States of Pizza-Eaters

If I had to choose one single type of food to eat every day for the rest of my life, pizza would put up a good fight for my number one choice, so I'm lucky there are so many places to go in the area. I'm on a (not super-concentrated) mission to try all the pizza places in the DC area and last weekend we finally made it over to We, The Pizza-- another Spike Mendelsohn creation next to Good Stuff Eatery on the Hill.
Besides the fact that the name simply tickles me pink, that is some solid pizza. We shared the Fresh Buffalo Mozz and Roasted Tomato Pie, which, to me, was perfect. It was the kind of thing where you wish you weren't so full because you want to keep eating piece after piece after piece. A large pizza is the perfect size to share with friends, leaving just enough room to head next door for Good Stuff shakes when you're done. It's possible you'll order your shakes and begin waiting. You'll wait and wait and wait. Maybe you'll ask several times when they'll be ready and after 50 minutes you'll finally demand your shakes NOW. You will then be offered a refund, which you will accept and proclaim No Harm, No Foul because them shakes are so tasty. An additional possibility is you will learn that Saturday night on Capitol Hill (or anywhere) is a bit crazy, but the pizza (and shakes!) are worth it. Pizza is always so worth it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Return

If there were one lesson I am in dire need of learning right now, it would be that of Being Happy In The Present. The weather in DC is 100% perfect right now: bright skies, mid-70s, occasional breezes. It is SPRING in its most perfect form. But it's all I can do to fear the heat. I know it's only a matter of time before I'm sweating 24 hours a day and my hair quadruples in size and turns into something resembling the spawn of a tumbleweed and a rat's nest. Please, don't be jealous. But amid the fear and the frantic, frizzy ponytails, there is a promise of something more. And to remind me of the glory of summer foods, we have the return of Fretalian Night.
Fretalian Night was invented last year when Bria and I would visit the farmer's market every Wednesday in Old Town. We would pick up a baguette, tomatoes, basil, and strawberries and then swing by Trader Joe's for some brie on our way home. Dinner was whipped up in no time once we returned home. Brie and bread for the French half and bruschetta for the Italian half of Fretalian Night. The strawberries round it out for the perfect light summer meal.
So am I concerned about how I will survive another summer? Incredibly. But is it a price I am willing to pay for the abundance in fresh berries and basil and tomatoes? Of course.

Monday, May 9, 2011

NYC Take Four: In Which I Apparently Wish I Were Joanna Goddard

This is it! The last food from our trip worthy of mentioning.
Sunday afternoon we wandered around Chelsea and into Greenwich Village, where we saw this Van Leeuwen's ice cream truck, and I remembered it from a Cup of Jo post that briefly mentioned the husband-wife duo behind the ice cream (talk about romance!).
We decided to come back and find the truck after lunch-- little did we know the walk was way longer than we expected, so it was looking like no ice cream for us, until! . . . they sold little pints of the stuff where we got lunch. Destiny!
Oh yeah, but lunch. In fact, it was in another Cup of Jo post recently about a meat and cheese shop that seemed to fantastic to pass up. So we walked to Murray's Cheese and it was every bit as delightful as I hoped. I stared at these pastas and just drooled and dreamed. This is my heaven.

After I had my fill of eye-feasting, we ordered some custom sandwiches. A hot Reuben for Sam, and a cold Frenchie for me (that would be brie, jambon, dijon, and cornichons).
After sitting and talking and people-watching for quite a while, we realized we were already late to our Mets game in Brooklyn (vs. the Nats!), so we were off at a run to our last activity of the trip. Le sigh.

NYC Take Three: In Which I Curse My Pancreas

On Sunday morning we wanted to grab a quick bite before heading out for the day, so we stopped in Levain Bakery for breakfast as well as a snack to take with us on the bus.
I chose a cinnamon butter brioche and a chocolate chip brioche. (Apparently I have a thing for brioche.)

The saddest thing in the world for me was having my dumb pancreas that can only process about 30 grams of carbohydrates in the morning. So I just took a couple bites of my cinnamon butter brioche and then squirreled the rest away. It turned out all right because I was starving on the bus ride home, and was delighted to have such a tasty stash.
Sam's breakfast was a blueberry muffin, and his squirreled goody was one of their famous and gigantic cookies-- a chocolate peanut butter chip cookie, to be exact.
It took so much self control to not leap over the glass partition and grab a hunk of the cookie dough I saw them preparing for the oven. It's a good thing I have a sense of social norms. If any friends go to NYC, please bring us back a cookie!

NYC Take Two: In Which I Die and Go to Heaven

Finally! Back to NYC posts!

On Saturday (the 9th), we saw the matinee of How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying (starring Daniel Radcliffe!), which was phenomenal, and afterward, we went out for my Fancy Schmancy Birthday Dinner. I had been eager to try one of Bobby Flay's restaurants, so we decided on Mesa Grill. And, you guys? Sam and I have never made a better decision in our six years of togetherness.
(look at us! we're basking in the glow of a choice well made.)

The wait was short, and even though the space was small, it felt spacious and uncrowded. And like any good meal, it started with bread. A plain roll, a jalapeno blue corn muffin (that was actually half yellow/half blue), and some other herbed roll that I wish times a million I had asked what it was. Tarragon? Lime? Mystery spice of the heavens? It was out of this world. Sam and I nearly inhaled the basket.

When we were glancing over the menu, nothing was catching my eye at first. Then I had this realization that I was at Bobby Flay's restaurant-- so probably I could do no wrong. And I ordered the New Mexican Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with a bourbon-ancho chili sauce and a sweet corn tamale with crushed pecan brown butter. I'm not sure I've ever ordered pork in a restaurant before, so I didn't really know what to expect. It was outrageously tender with the perfect blend of spices. I just sat in silence with my eyes closed after each bite, soaking it all in.
Sam had the Spice Rubbed Bison Filet with corn and ancho chili sauces and crispy red onion. The only report I received was "probably one of the best steaks [he's] ever eaten." I don't really do bison, but it sure looked fancy.

Nothing has ever epitomized more fully the phrase "last, but not least" than our dessert. We chose the Deep Dish Banana Cream Pie with praline wafer and hazelnut brittle. It was a giant bowl full of banana pudding, then freshly whipped cream, fresh bananas, and then the wafer on top. All I can say is, if it hadn't been such a nice place, I would have literally licked the bowl clean.

I know I am loose with superlatives, but I mean this in all seriousness: this was in the top three meals of my life. And I don't take that lightly.