To think, I've always been impressed that my favorite neighborhood Chinese restaurant can deliver Fried Pork Dumplings and Shrimp with Broccoli in under a half hour! These guys - Mumbai's dabbawallas - they're the real deal.
I think my wanderlust is even effecting me within the confines of New York City. Yesterday I just couldn't sit still.
Met a friend at Cafe Noir for a quick bite and found myself unable to simply dance with the Cafe that brung us. Oh, no. I needed to hit another Soho hot spot. In this case, the hot spot in question came with a cool breeze and an icy cold refresher - Kittichai's front patio complete with my friend in tow and a yummy, rummy Berry Mojito.
After the drink, I was sated - somewhat. I wandered deeper into Soho and lusted after copper pots and kitchen gadgets at Sur la Table and then wandered east, taking a detour into the new LES Whole Foods to lust after the market's porn-worthy produce and other sundry fare.
I kept wandering.
I kept wandering until I could wander no longer. No longer because the spot I had wandered to was closed - Punch & Judy's. There, I was to meet Lady M and her beau Sir M for a quick drink before heading elsewhere for dinner.
Well met, we quickly gave up the ghost on Clinton Street, after being shut out of Cocoa Bar and 1462 too. So, we wandered.
I was getting used to this.
We finally planted ourselves at Schiller's Liquor Bar where we gabbed over late afternoon cocktails. My choice? A classic Pimm's Cup. Mmmm...So civilized.
Then Lady M had a suggestion: "We could just stay here and eat dinner."
Did I succumb to the idea of just staying put?
Heck,no! We wandered back to Clinton Street and secured a prime table at Savor NY, which was offering a two-for-one special on bottles of vino. Well, there was a deal worth staying put for!!!
And stay put we did, enjoying a series of small plates including toothsome Cod "Falafel" stuffed in mini pitas and topped with tangy yogurt sauce. Dessert set us to swooning too. We ordered not one, but TWO of the kitchen's Honey Custard. Then again, we finished not one, but TWO of the restaurant's bottles of wine. Now that I think of it, we could have gotten two orders of the Cod "Falafel" too...Then again, I was awfully full.
I was too full to wander. Didn't think it was possible, but it was.
A taxi was hailed. I headed home, knowing full-well that tomorrow would be another day, and yet another opportunity to wander as far as my feet (or MetroCard) could carry.
I just finished Julia Child's memoir "My Life in France" and couldn't help but feel like I'd been denying my oven the love it deserves.
Backyard grilling comes and goes with the seasons, but oven love - that's forever.
So, I paid call on my local butcher and purchased a four pound poulet. I also paid call on my local greenmarket to pick up a loaf of freshly baked sourdough, as well as peppery arugula and baby scallions straight from the farm. I put all of those ingredients and more to good use. Riffing off of Zuni Cafe's Roast Chicken with Bread Salad recipe, my oven lovin' efforts are pictured above.
Time for a break from all that burger and pay some attention to some brats - bratwurst to be exact. Several of these plump babies, alongside half a dozen sweet Italian sausages, took centerstage last night at my pal Maggie's barbecue in her gorgeous brownstone Brooklyn backyard. Add a couple of rambunctious little girls, a dog waiting for scraps, a man ready to surreptitiously throw said scraps, and a bottle of wine - and you've got quite a party.
We did try to tone down the adult partying antics for the kids' sake, even attempting to school them in the art of grill management...
...not to mention teaching them how to pick out just the right shade of summery nail polish.
Big surprise: Looks like I'll be taking Maggie's girls for an overnight VittlesVamp adventure in the near future. Color me Auntie Mame!
Thursday night I decided to put the month where my mouth was - and fully appreciate National Hamburger Month with a couple of friends at Rosie O'Grady's Times Square. After a so-so Caesar, we were all primed for the beef - and quite the mound of bovine it was. This was one sizable burger, juicy and flavorful. I washed it down with a pint of Magner's Hard Cider on ice and could have easily called it a night - but the theater called.
I had tickets to the muscal version of "Legally Blonde" and wasn't expecting the latter half of the evening to live up to the glories of Rosie O'Grady's all-beef patties. I'd sat through enough souped-up Broadway versions of feature films to know not to expect too much. (Point in fact: "High Fidelity" the musical. Need I say more?) But, drumroll please: "Legally Blonde" was a pleasant surprise.
Don't admonish me! I mean it! It was cute with a capital "OOT!"
And, Laura Bell Bundy as the Delta Nu airhead gone Harvard Law valedictorian was a delight to watch - especially when her blonde wig fell off mid-bend and snap and she plunked her tresses back into place with aplomb and good humor.
Boston wasn't exactly a wash-out, but it was wet. The rain never seemed to end. And, well, that's because it didn't. It drizzled, it poured and it downpoured all weekend long.
That said, my Beantown posse still showed me a good time, including dining at a charming Alsatian bistro in Harvard Square called Sandrine's, braving the rain to check out the swans in the Boston Public Garden and hitting numerous boutiques up and down Charles Street in the Beacon Hill district.
The highlight of the the trip? Giving into the rain and deciding to just hang out in one of my pal's living rooms, hunkering down for a series of chick flicks on the TV and a makeshift dinner of frozen Bell & Evans Chicken Tenders, tender stalks of Asparagus and a bottle or two of white wine. Breyer's Light Ice Cream Sandwiches rounded out the menu perfectly. So did the laughter.
I think they call it "wanderlust." Can't seem to stay in one place for very long. Now, I'm off to Boston for the weekend. We'll see if there is any Red Velvet Cake there. Tend to doubt it, but I'll be happy with numerous other treats - a mighty cocktail included.
No sooner did I post my adventures in Nashville, when the family friend behind the heavenly Groom's Cake at Stacy's wedding agreed to send me the recipe.
Silly me. How could I have thought that her Red Velvet Cake's vanilla icing derived its rich taste and texture from everyday, ho-hum cream cheese? I'm such a Yankee fool!
Thankfully, now I know better. The magic ingredient is Crisco, of course! My understanding is that Crisco has long been considered a fifth food group in the South. Or is that Bourbon? Anywhichway, here's the recipe...
Red Velvet Cake:
1\2 cup shortening
1 1\2 cups sugar
2 oz. red food coloring
3 T. cocoa
2 1\4 cups plain flour
3/4 tsp.. salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vinegar
Cream sugar and shortening. Add eggs one at a time. Make paste of cocoa and food coloring. Add to sugar mixture. Add flour and salt mixture alternately with buttermilk. Add vanilla. Mix soda and vinegar and fold into mixture. Bake 25-30 minutes in a 350 degree oven. This will make (1) 11x15 or (2) nine inch rounds or (2) 8 inch squares
1 stick margarine
1\2 cup Crisco
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Beat until creamy. Add 2/3 cup warm milk slowly to mixture. Mix until you feel no sugar grains. (Beat a lot). For the record - two batches of this icing are preferable for covering the cake thoroughly.
And so I arose the next morning post-wedding with barbecue on my mind. Nothing could deter me from my mission. Luckily enough, I had a partner in crime (or 'cue as it were) - Gourmet Gal - whom you may recall from our Mac n' Cheese bake-off a while back. She was game for a day touring Music City with mandatory stops for 'cue.
Before the meat though, we felt obliged to see what Nashville had to offer above and beyond vittles. A visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame seemed like a good start. One hour quickly turned to two as we listened to the roots of today's Country sound, ogling memorabilia like Elvis' gold baby grand piano and Chet Atkins' guitars (pictured below).
The museum left us in a musical frame of mind, so we held off on eating and strolled down Broadway to check out the late afternoon scene - and sounds. We were happily greeted by a series of honky tonks with the twang of Country music humming within. We tried to resist, but when we hit upon Legend's Corner we could resist no longer, and took a quick pitstop for Coronas and the cowboy rhythms of Craig Campbell.
After a foot-stompin' set, we'd worked up a hunger. Thankfully, two of Nashville's popular barbecue spots were only steps away.
We decided to start our 'cue tasting tour at Rippy's with its comfy, unfussy bar feel and windows open to catch the occasional breeze. Hmm...What to get? With a knowing wink from our waiter, we ordered up a Half-Rack of Ribs and a Pulled Pork Sandwich.
Clearly, we were wrong about the wink - there was no "knowing" behind it. Personally, I like to think our waiter was a vegetarian, cause clearly he'd never eaten Rippy's meat. One bite into the flavorless, dry specimens that they called ribs, and I wanted no more. The Pulled Pork Sandwich was just as bland and withered. Rippy's sauce wasn't any help in reviving the dead either. It was a bizarre, overly sweet, oregano-riddled rendition. Yick! Gourmet Gal and I couldn't signal for a check fast enough. We hustled out of there and headed straight across the street to Jack's Bar-B-Que
Stepping through Jack's door the seductive smell of smoke tickled our nostrils. What a marvelous perfume! And, I'm delighted to report that the meat lived up to the glorious Dixie aroma. We ordered up a plate of three: St. Louis-Style Pork Ribs, Texas Beef Brisket and Tennessee Pork Shoulder. The sauce? Well, there wasn't just one kind of sauce. There were four to choose from. And, in a word: yum!
We were sated. It was time. New York City beckoned - not to mention the gym. As we headed to Nashville International Airport, we could only hope that the belt buckles on American Airlines could accomodate our new expanded waistlines - and, for the sake of said waistlines, that Jack's doesn't ever open a NYC outpost.