Friday, December 31, 2010

To a New Year!

Since my birthday post, I am sure that you gather that I like lists and goals and dorky stuff like that. I am sure then that you're probably not surprised that I make up goals for each New Year. Unlike the fun ones for my birthday, my goals for the next year include more serious things. Actually you are reading one of my goals for 2010 right now, which was to start a new blog. Check!

Anyway, I thought I would share with you some of the things I am thinking about for next year as they pertain to this blog, food, travel and life in general:

I am who I am as a blogger - I have definitely had my moments where I wonder why I am writing all of this on the interwebs, or why can't I be more like so and so blogger, BUT I'm coming to terms with me just being the blogger that I am. My pictures are far from perfect, and my posts may be too long, but this is who I am. If I changed the way that I blogged then it wouldn't be this blog, now would it?

Entertaining more at home - I started a conversation on Twitter about entertaining at home. It seems that people just don't do it as much anymore. I don't know if it's much worse because of living in New York City and not having a huge house, but my friends here just don't entertain very often at home (or maybe I'm just not getting invited? Hmm....). Perhaps I don't have get togethers because I tend to have to do all of the food prep, etc. Husband J helps with logistics, but there's no real help in the kitchen (Sorry, Husband J. It's the truth!). Either way, we are in a space in our lives where we can entertain, and we should. I hope to step up the game in this department this year and have our home be a place that will be full of laughter and growing friendships.

Move outside of my comfort zone blog-wise - I try to be pretty nice on this here blog, but I am hoping next year to talk about some more spicy topics. There will still be stories of travels past and present and lots of food, but I hope to try to address things that go deeper about how we experience food and travel.

Staying close to home - You all know that I am always thinking of new places to go, and they tend to be far away. I will admit to you that there are many places close to home that I have not been able to visit. I've only really been to the Hamptons/East End of Long Island once, and it was more of a drive by than anything. I can't tell you the last time I was in Philadelphia, and it's two hours away. I have a friend that just moved to Baltimore, and I really should go for a visit. This year, I want to take advantage of the places and experiences that I can have right on my doorstep.

Aprovecha! - I thought I would throw in a little Spanish here, but that's because I love this word. Aprovechar means "to take advantage of" or "to make the most of." I love that this is encapsulated in just one word in Spanish. English can be so cumbersome sometimes. :) Like most people, there are parts of my life that are great and parts that I would like to change. Next year, I hope to dwell more on the good aspects of some of the not-so-great parts of my life. Capice? While I may not be where I want to be in some areas, I hope to take the situation, refocus on its good aspects and use that new perspective to move forward personally and professionally or to just have more fun! Less than ideal situations may be opportunities in disguise.

Well, my dear readers, this is it for 2010. Not only do I wish you delicious food shared with loved ones and fun new experiences but also lots of opportunities to try something once! :)

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Best of 2010 - Food

When I thought about doing a Top Ten/Best Of series for this year, I thought that it would be totally easy. Yet when it came to food shots, I didn't realize how hard it would be. How I can distill a half year's worth of food blogging into ten pictures. Should I go with pretty food pics or my favorite experiences? Decisions, decisions, decisions....I just decided to throw in a little bit of everything: some of my favorite dishes this year, some new food experiences that I had and stuff that was just plain pretty (if I do say so myself). Again, all of this is in no particular order. Good food is just good food. Isn't that right? :)

Burger from Good Stuff Eatery in Washington, DC

The Sweet & Salty Cupcake from Baked, Brooklyn, New York
I have said it before, and I'll say it again: I think about these cupcakes all the time.

Breakfast fruit platter, The Samaya, Seminyak, Bali
Yes, I know that this is a plate of fruit, BUT it's a PRETTY plate of fruit!

The "Special" at Babi Guling Ibu Oka, Ubud, Bali

Peach Tatin, Colicchio & Sons, Manhattan

The Rijstaffel at Chandi, Seminyak, Bali

Marinated Sea Scallops, Pickled Swiss Chard Stems and Aji Dulce Peppers
Gramercy Tavern, Manhattan

The lamb burger at The Breslin, Manhattan
This made me believe in meat again (sorta).

The Indonesian breakfast at the Samaya, Seminyak, Bali

A lobster roll from the Red Hook Lobster Pound pop-up restaurant at Fulton Ferry Landing, Brooklyn, New York
I hope Red Hook Lobster Pound does this again next year. This time, I think I'll need more than one trip over there.

Do you have a favorite meal from 2010? Where did you eat it, or what did you cook?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Best of 2010 - Travel

Hi, everyone!!

I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday. For those of you on the U.S. East Coast (or traveling towards or from there), I wish you safe travels. Getting home yesterday was not as harrowing as I thought it would be, but I am still amazed at how businesses choose NOT to shovel their sidewalks. I was climbing over some major snow just to get our building's front door. Yikes! Rant over...

I'm still pretty shocked that 2011 is really staring us in the face. One of the fun things (to me anyway) about this week are the year end reviews of the past year, so I thought I would do the same for this blog. I was lucky to be able to go to a few new places this year: Las Vegas, Bali and Arizona. I thought I would show you some of my Top Ten favorite pictures from these no particular order.

The fountain show at the Bellagio

I was glad to finally see this in person after way too many viewings of "Ocean's 11." There was no DeBussy playing in the background though.

The mock Statue of Liberty outside of the New York, New York casino, Las Vegas

I'm still not sure how I feel about Las Vegas as a whole. Going there as a married 30-something that doesn't really stay out late anymore is probably a lot different than going when I was in my single, hard core partying 20's. The most fun part of being there for me was meeting many of my blogger friends from Weddingbee, but I enjoyed the over-the-top architecture and scale of the casinos.

Bale Kambung (Floating Pavilion) of Taman Gili in Semarapura, Bali

Lake Batur, Bali

Goa Lawah (aka the Bat Cave), Padang Bai, Bali

While this is not the greatest picture, looking at this and remembering the low hum of all of those bats clustered together and the smell (OH, the SMELL) has to be one of the more memorable moments of our trip to Bali.

Seminyak Beach, Bali

Religious celebrations are a part of everyday life in Bali. From the small offerings at the doorsteps of homes and businesses to the temple celebrations lasting well into the night, religious observances are everywhere and inescapable. I enjoyed learning more about Balinese Hinduism and often being able to experience it first hand.

Sedona, Arizona

My first trip to the Southwest was so worth it. Seeing these majestic red rock formations was definitely one of the highlights. I'd love to explore this part of the country again.

Sunrise over the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon

More of the Grand Canyon (Can you tell that I loved it?)

There were lots of pictures to choose from, and I am sure that I am missing something in this list. I am glad to have been fortunate enough to have these experiences this year. Here's hoping for an even more adventurous 2011!

What were some of your favorite moments travel or otherwise of 2010? If you like any of these pictures, I'd love to know your favorite.

Next up: My Top Ten Food Shots of 2o10.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Hey, all!

I just want to wish you all a wonderful Christmas holiday and a belated Hannukah too (or Chrismahanukwanzakah for those that celebrate that). I've actually already opened some of my presents early (the ones from Husband J), and I am very excited about them already (a Flip & a Kindle!).

I'll be back next week with reflections on this year and thoughts about next year! Can you believe it will be 2011? I can't!!

Have a wonderful Christmas!

Also since Kwanzaa starts Sunday, Happy Kwanzaa! :)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy Birthday to my Favorite Travel Partner!

That would be Husband J! In addition to being so supportive and wonderful (particularly when it comes to blogging), Husband J is really my most favorite person to share a meal or a travel adventure. Here are some of my favorite moments with Husband J from this year:

A rice paddy field in Bali

Pura Sarswati, Ubud, Bali

The Grand Canyon

Happy Birthday, Husband J!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Musings of a Wannabe Ski Bunny

I've never been skiing...EVER! It is one of my biggest travel/sporting disappointments that I have never been able to try skiing. I think skiing also goes into my file of "People I knew growing up just didn't do this voluntarily" folder. Growing up where I did, GOOD ski mountains were at least several hours away and apparently skiing is not cheap to do, hence not that many opportunities to get to the slopes.

Husband J has been skiing for years. I've been begging him to take me skiiing, but every time I bring it up, he gets this deep scowl on his face and whips out the reasons why I shouldn't want to ski:

1. It's a pain to get there and back. (Rebuttal: That is why God created rental cars.)

2. It's hard on your body, especially your knees (Rebuttal: So is running, and you're not discouraging me from that.)

3. It's hard to learn as an adult. (Rebuttal: I have no inclinations of being on the U.S. National Ski team. I just want to make it down the Bunny Slope without falling on my butt.).

For some reason, Husband J thinks I want to begin skiing every weekend, but all I really want to do is just TRY it..just once (Hello, blog title!!).

If I am really honest with myself, what I want more than the skiing lesson is the ski lodge experience. While I consider winter to be hibernation time, I would totally love to be in a romantic ski lodge/resort looking at the snow, getting snuggly next to a warm fire or better yet a hot tub. Don't these places below make you want to do just that?

A ski lodge in Utah

The lodge's interior

A luxury ski chalet in Breckenridge, Colorado

I'm loving this Breckenridge ski chalet's outdoor hot tub.

Lodge Bodensee, St. Anton, Arlberg, Austria

Perhaps a resort is a better idea instead of a house/chalet?
Le Chabichou, Courchevel, France (Princess Di stayed here!)

Anyway, this is all me daring to dream. I figure maybe it's just better to accept the cold weather instead of complaining about it. :)

So, my dear readers, do any of you have a favorite place to ski? Where was your most memorable ski vacation? Most importantly, how do I convince Husband J that a ski trip will be worth our while? :)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Be Careful of Brunch at Paradou

Be careful of brunch. Rather I should warn you that you should be very careful of "All You Can Drink" champagne brunches (or really "All You Can Drink" anything). In honor of BFF's upcoming wedding, a few of her friends and I treated her to a casual ladies brunch at Paradou, in Manhattan's Meatpacking District. The Meatpacking District always amazes me because I remember when there were transvestite hookers roaming the streets, and when they did in fact pack meat there (there was blood in the streets...literally). Now it's a pretty chic part of town. Go figure!

Paradou has a special brunch option of $29 for certain entrees with all you can drink champagne (most likely sparkling wine..there's a difference you know) drinks including mimosas, bellinis, kir royales, champagne with mango puree, yadda yadda yadda. May I just say that this might be a bad move if you actually want to do something with your day afterwards.

BFF was pretty happy with the surprise.

I will say that Paradou has lovely holiday decor, and it helps to be in a pretty place when you're on your third kir royale. Sigh..

I got the lamb burger. I guess I was secretly wanting to compare it to The Breslin's.
Quite good by the way! Maybe it's just a lamb thing?

Close up

Of course, the real star of the show and the reason why I fell asleep on my couch at 6pm and sent my husband a couple of questionable texts (well, we are married...I can do that) were too many of these:

The funny thing is that at my age, I almost never go out and drink much of anything, so I think this one time I won't feel too bad. :)

Happy Weekend, and watch yourself at those holiday parties!! :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I'm Still Alive!/A Holla to my BFF

Hey there!

I am totally under the weather this week, but I think I might be getting better. Life all of a sudden has caught up to me, and I am feeling slightly overwhelmed by the holidays, an unclean home and projects that I am working on.

While I was sick this weekend, I got the chance to go to my BFF's wedding. For years, BFF was my travel partner, and we had some definitely had our share of highjinks. Here is a sampling of some of the wackier things that have happened in my travels with her:

1. Being mistaken for a prostitute in the middle of the day wearing a turtleneck, jacket and jeans while in Merida, Spain (this requires some explanation...someday).

2. The curmudgeon French winery owner who opened up his closed shop and unhappily sold us his wine despite our crappy French in Colmar, France.

3. Being eaten alive by bedbugs in a cheap hotel by the train station in Reims, France. I think after this experience we realized we were too old to completely skimp on accomodations.

4. Following some random guy down the street who promised us a place to sleep in Sevilla, Spain Luckily, we ended up in a small but passably okay hostal, but BFF wasn't buying it at first. I always say safety in numbers. We would have been able to take him. :)

5. BFF ended up almost choking on glass in her couscous in Marrakech, Morocco. Yeah, we got that meal for free.

6. Climbing like a Spiderman in water-filled caves in Belize.

I wish her a beautiful life together with her new husband, and I may even make her do a guest post some time soon. Her honeymoon is going to be fabulous!

I love you, BFF!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Another American Comfort Food Joint - Peels Restaurant

An American comfort food restaurant really isn't anything new lately. It seems to me that I've been reading about more causal restaurants each day. There are just so many. I've read lots of food writing that has stated that more Americans are looking for simpler well made meals in more casual restaurants rather than the high end fussy places that dominated the American restaurant scene at one point.

Regardless of the prevalence of this trend, I was very happy to get an invitation from my college friend, Roo Mi (remember her birthday?), to join her and a group of fellow food nerd friends at the newly opened Peels Restaurant. Peels is actually an offshoot of another restaurant, Freeman's, which I have to admit that I don't know much about. Peels opened in a part of the northern portion of the Lower East Side of Manhattan that's gotten its share of big restaurant openings already this year (check DBGB from Daniel Boulud). Needless to say there were lots of "I'm very cool, and you should know this" types there. Yeah, whateva...

We were there for the food. Bring it! By the way, there are going to be lots of food shots. There were nine of us! Let me also mention our very cool waiter (I'm so sorry to forget his name), who after hearing our audible reactions during his descriptions of the specials, must have had a good chuckle. He fielded every question about the preparation of the dishes and his suggestions were really spot on. I think we must have made his evening fun. I'm glad when I can do that for the waitstaff, but he definitely was a knowledgeable and affable waiter.


Some crispy wafer-like things came out first as nibbles. I wish I could tell you what this is. There were some marinated veggies in the white bowl with a tart vinegar taste.

Since I was going out to meet another group of friends afterwards, I laid off the alcohol, but looking at some of the cocktails made me want to come back just for a few drinks.

Peel's Punch, I'm coming back for you!

The roll call of appetizers:

Shrimp & Grits
I just had a smidgen of this and many of the appetizers (I was saving room for dessert), but savory and creamy with the right amount of salt is how I'd describe the grits. Although you might not want to trust what I say as someone who doesn't usually like grits, but this totally made me rethink my usually anti-grits stance.

Potato Dumplings
Think along the lines of Italian gnocchi. The dumplings were placed in a soothing broth with vegetables that really could have been made into an excellent soup by itself.

Corn Dog
No typo there. You did in fact read corn dog. I usually am freaked out by the idea of a corn dog (a sausage of some dubious origin surrounded by thick batter and fried on a stick. Say what?!), but this did taste very fresh. The golden spicy mustard gave it the perfect kick. Again, maybe I will change my tune about corn dogs, but only if I can eat these every time.

I was saving room for the mains and desserts, and I'm glad I did. For such a large group, many of us had the same dishes. Maybe food nerds are unoriginal, or perhaps we'd been taken in by what we'd read about Peels beforehand?

Fried Chicken
Make sure that if you do get Peels' fried chicken to dip its super crispy skin into the accompanying side of honey and spices. Maaahhhhvlous, dahling! I'm struggling to find ways to talk about the chicken other than it was spot on crunchy meat skin. The chicken's flesh itself was well-seasoned and not dry.

Lamb Shank
Fall off the bone good with a hint of Mexican mole. I even ate the crispy onions. Peels must have been good because it had me eating things that I do not normally (and I eat a whole lotta stuff). On the same plate were lovely beans and bits of spinach. It made me feel less self-conscious about eating a hunk of meat.

Others tried:

Ribeye Steak
Uhhh..that's a steak! More than one person ate this.

Fall Vegetable Gratinee
Hen of the woods mushrooms, cauliflower, squash, goat cheese & herbs

Finally, the most important course: Dessert!!!

I think this was bread pudding? (Oops! What a bad blogger I am for not catching this!)

Butterscotch Pot de Creme
I liked that Peels's desserts weren't too sweet. Anything that had cream was smooth and buttery. Unlike most things with butterscotch that try to hit you over the head with the butterscotch taste, this pot de creme was subtle and beckoned you to keep taking a spoonful here and there. Yet I couldn't 'cause I was too busy eating MY dessert....

My dessert: the Tres Leches Cake
Have I told you that I love baked goods? People can keep their candy and perhaps also their ice cream (okay, I like ice cream too), but give me baked goods like this cake. I love that it was drowning is a non-cloying dulce de leche-esque flavored milk bath with freshly whipped cream. Mmm...

Not pictured: The very good sundae.

I need to go back to Peels for the biscuits and gravy that I didn't get a chance to taste (only served at lunch and brunch).

In all a fun meal with some warm, friendly company. I've been enjoying my outings with Roo Mi's friends so much that I think I need to get my own merry band of food nerds for myself. :)

Happy Weekend, everyone!

Peels Restaurant
325 Bowery (@ 2nd Street)
New York, NY


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