Wednesday, February 29, 2012

5 Food Inventions by Black Inventors

I'm going to squeeze in one more post for Black History Month before February ends. I know that I'm lucky that I had an extra day.

If you've noticed that I didn't do any Black History Month posts re: food, you're perceptive. I know that there are historical figures in food, but it took a little more effort to find them than I thought it would. I found these five inventors and their inventions and were surprised by many of them.

1. George Crum invented the potato chip as we know it in 1853 in Saratoga Springs, New York.

My favorite potato chips. What are yours?

2. George Washington Carver, scientist and inventor, creates 145 different products utilizing peanuts, including peanut butter.

My favorite peanut butter. Do you like crunchy or smooth peanut butter?

3. Joseph Lee invented and patented improvements to the dough kneading machine, the precursor to modern day bread making machines.

My mom has one of these. If you make bread at home, do you use a machine or do it the old fashioned way?

4. Alexander P. Ashbourne invents the biscuit cutter in 1875.

5. Alfred Cralle invented and patented the ice cream scooper in 1897 after noticing that ice cream shops dispensed ice cream in an inefficient way.

I wish it were warmer outside, so I could actually eat ice cream. :(

Which of these inventions is your favorite?

Many facts via Soul Food Advisor

Monday, February 27, 2012

Traveling & A Clothes Purge

Hey there!

So, I know that there haven't been many actual "travel" posts recently. I just want to say that the travel is coming. If things work out the way I want them to, then April, May & June are going to be something of a whirlwind. Yippee! In the meantime, indulge me while I write some "travel related" posts.

Maybe it's a Caribbean mother thing, but my mother never allowed guests to see her home looking a shambles. I have inherited that, so it is even shocking to me that I am revealing what my closet and bedroom looked like when I did some spring cleaning and clothing purge last year.

EEK!!! My bed eventually did recover.

I just want to say that I feel as if I've grown as a person by showing this picture. :)

While I was aggressively performing my twice per year clothing purge, I finally decided to let go of some items of clothing that I'd been holding on to. Many of them reminded me of travels that I've taken or were bought while I was away.

Although the pic doesn't really show it, this is a black corduroy blazer that I picked up in South Africa. I arrived in Cape Town in late August, which is the end of winter/beginning of spring there. It was cold. Yes, South Africa is on the African continent, but it can get VERY cold. I was wearing a coat for my first month there. I bought this at a cute boutique a few blocks away from my internship's office. I think the women who owned the store loved me because I would drop money when I went (more like the equivalent of $20 or $30 USD, but at the time that was a lot of rand). It was nice being a student with access to US dollars when the rand (South African currency) was trading at $10USD to $1R. For a variety of reasons, I did a lot of retail therapy when I was in South Africa (breaking up with someone half way around the world deserves a shopping trip or three).
Status: At the Salvation Army. Hopefully someone bought it.

Until recently, these Merrell walking shoes were the only real outdoorsy gear I owned. I now forget when I actually bought them. Husband J grew up being very outdoorsy, so he gets a little excited when I buy outdoorsy things and resemble an L.L. Bean catalog model. I used these quite a bit during our trip to Turkey. These will get a lot of use this year.
Status: At the bottom of the closet, rearing to go.

I bought this shirt in a souk in Morocco. I obviously had much shorter hair then because I often don't wear this shirt because the sequins catch my hair. I'm always having to pull my hair from out of the sequins. I think I bought this and a longer dress-like thing for my Mom. She still wears hers.
Status: Not sure. It's probably gone to the Salvation Army.

I usually buy clothing and shoes with the intention of wearing them. What was I thinking even buying these? I love a nice, sexy shoe but I can't believe how high shoes are these days (Yes, I am an old lady). I can't wear this. I wore them for a little while during my trip to Las Vegas. I figured that I could look scandalous there, and it would be okay. I've never worn these again. They are so uncomfortable. I feel awful because it was a wasteful purchase, but I hope they get new life on someone else's feet.
Status: Salvation Army or on someone else's feet

I got this green pullover the first and only time I've been to Martha's Vineyard. Menemsha is a smaller fishing village on the island that doesn't get as many visitors as Oak Bluffs, Edgartown or the other more touristy summer towns. Husband J and I drove out there and enjoyed how quiet it was compared to the rest of the island.
Status: Still in the closet. I like this shade of green

By the end of the afternoon, my closet looked normal again.

I've always had my own closet since living with Husband J. I am convinced it is the key to a happy marriage. ;)

Do you have any clothes, shoes or other garments in your closet that remind of you places you've been or shopping you've done there?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Food Porn Friday - Clinton Street Baking Company

I believe that someone once asked what I would want to eat as my last meal. You all know I don't go into fits of hyperbole when describing food on this blog (okay, fine, maybe I do), but I have to say that I might want this dish right here to be my last breakfast with maybe a side of eggs or something.

This is Pancake Month at New York's Clinton Street Baking Company, and I specifically waited for the day they'd be serving their banana pancakes.

Banana Pancakes with Bavarian cream, toasted coconut and warm maple butter on the side

I love banana pancakes in general, but the Bavarian cream really put it over the top. These are the some of the fluffiest, lightest, most perfectly textured pancakes I've ever tasted.

By the way, Clinton Street Baking Company produces Pancake Month each February, and every few days there is a different featured pancake of the day. As this post goes up, I may be returning for some coconut pancakes with kumquat syrup and bruleed bananas. Maybe.

If you ever decide to go to Clinton Street Baking Company for brunch on the weekend, don't do it. It's not because the food isn't wonderful. It is. However, this place is tiny, there are no reservations, and the waits are infamous (sound familiar?). Don't say that I didn't warn you. Actually, you can get their regular pancakes all day, so I suggest breakfast for dinner as your m.o. for actually getting a taste of these bad boys with a reasonable wait.

Do you like pancakes? What's your favorite kind? How long would you wait for them?

Clinton Street Baking Company
4 Clinton Street
New York, NY

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pok Pok Wing

We've got a lot of transplant restaurants moving to New York City lately, but one that I have been very interested in trying is Pok Pok Wing from Portland, Oregon.

If you can't guess from the name, Pok Pok's Wings small menu is focused on Vietnamese style fried chicken wings. Available sides are spicy, green papaya salad (papaya pok pok), plain sticky rice or coconut rice. Another main dish option is Khao Man Som Tam, which is the same green papaya salad with shredded pork, topped with fried shallots and cilantro.

Since it was my first time there, I tried the Wing Special, which includes three wings, the green papaya salad, and plain sticky rice.

The green papaya salad was a lovely combination of sweet, tart, and spicy. While the veggies were sufficiently crunch, the papaya was a little limp and felt overdressed with sauce. It was still tasty though. For those of you that can't handle spice, I recommend eating the salad with the plain sticky rice.

As for the wings, I thought they were fine. They're rather large; so if you're by yourself, three is more than enough. The wings are marinated in fish sauce, garlic, and sugar. After the wings are fried, they're tossed with more caramelized fish sauce and garlic.

I wanted to like these wings more than I did. It doesn't matter to me what they're marinated or tossed in, wings cannot be dry. These were. Also I would have wanted crispier skin on the chicken. The sauce was tasty, if not a little too salty. I thought I asked for spicy, but I didn't get much spice at all from what I tasted.

One of the more unique items on Pok Pok Wing's menu is a type of drink I'd never heard of before. They're called drinking vinegars.

Essentially, it's a vinegar-syrup that's added to soda water. You have to stir it pretty vigorously to make sure it's mixed in. At first taste, it's sweet. In my case, it was a nice tamarind flavor. At the end, the sour portion comes through on your tongue. I think I liked it. :) It's rather different, so I highly recommend you try it.

I enjoyed Pok Pok Wing. If I'm in the area, I would stop by for a snack, but I don't think it's serving some of the better Asian-inspired wings in the city.

Pok Pok Wing
137 Rivington Street
New York, NY

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tuesday Travel Pinspiration - At Night

I thought I'd show more than one pic today. I realized that I started pinning all of these pictures of popular sites at night. Perhaps there is something about lights and the moon?

The Eiffel Tower - Paris

The "Classics" geek in me can't keep away from ruins.

The Acropolis - Athens

To be honest, I'm not exactly sure where this is....anyone?

In honor of Carnaval....

Christ the Redeemer (from the back) - Rio de Janeiro

Laissez Les Bons Temps Roulez! Happy Mardi Gras!

Bourbon Street - New Orleans

Which one of these pics is your favorite? Have you seen any of these places at night? What did you think?

Feel free to follow me on Pinterest here.

Monday, February 20, 2012

ReWind - Balinese Temple Hopping

Another oldie from our time in Bali...

We saw a whole ton of sights while in Bali. Since I wasn't sure what Husband J's inclinations were going to be re: sightseeing, I just figured that we would do most of it in one jam packed day. We were escorted around for the day by a great guide, Marco Dewa (or Dewa Marco, Balinese names confuse me...although Marco is definitely not a Balinese name!). We loved hanging out with him. He is very friendly, super knowledgeable, a good driver and an overall cool guy.

It was fun for us to just have someone all to ourselves for the day. For a list of great private tour guides, check out the Bali Forum on Trip Advisor. It is a treasure trove of info on traveling to Bali (especially if you're Australian...just kidding! There are a ton of Australians on the forum as they are the largest group of travelers to Bali.).

One of our first stops was to Gunung Kawi. Before I get there I should warn you that often you'll see us "dressed up" a bit in our pictures. Many of the sites/temples we saw are used daily by the Balinese, and we needed to adhere to temple dress meaning we needed to have our KNEES covered. For those of you who end up going to Bali, sarongs are almost always provided at many sites. People will try to sell them to you. If you'd like to buy one, by all means do so, but you're not required to buy anything. Some sarongs we got from the temples were better than others.

I think Husband J makes a good model.

Gunung Kawi is split into two parts. It's believed that this portion pictured below is a set of tombs made by King Anak Wungsu for his four favorite concubines. I wonder what the others got? :) They are stone reliefs chiseled from a rock.

The temple at Gunung Kawi

Many of the temples and sights in Bali are in the middle of some gorgeous scenery.

One of my favorite sights of the day was the Taman Gili (Island Gardens) at Semarapura (the town formerly known as Klungkung).

Bale Kambung (Floating Pavilion)

This area represents the remains of the former Semarapura palace. Bale Kambung was used primarily for important ceremonies.
Another bale next to Bale Kambung, Kerta Gosa, is believed to be an area that was used as a criminal court. On the ceiling, there are intricate drawings depicting what many think are the cruel punishments that awaited criminals way back then.


The view from Bale Kambung was picturesque in itself.

Bale Kambung's ceiling depicts Balinese astrology.
Taman Gili also has a small but not to spectacular museum that you can walk through rather quickly. One thing the museum was helpful for was understanding the Balinese resistance to Dutch colonization. As Husband J said, between Manhattan and Bali, the Dutch had to give up some great islands.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Fantasy Travel Friday - Southern Hospitality at the Inn at Palmetto Bluffs

I'm a Northeast girl at heart, but even I am sometimes curious about experiencing the beauty and magic of the American South. I haven't spent much time traveling through the South, but there are parts that definitely call to me, especially the South Carolina Lowcountry, South Carolina's southern coast including the neighboring Sea Islands. The region is known for its distinct beauty, food and culture particularly that of the Gullah people.

I can't imagine a more luxurious way to experience easygoing Southern hospitality than spending some time at the Inn at Palmetto Bluffs.

For a New Yorker like me, I would need to unwind and slow down a little. I could see myself sipping some lemonade on the screened porch.

or maybe outside

With its individual cottages, I might need some coaxing to leave these comfortable rooms.

Eventually, I'd have to leave the room to take in the Lowcountry beauty.

I'd definitely find some time to walk along the May River next to the inn.

Husband J would characteristically find the golf course.

I think I might try stand up paddle boarding?!
Okay, maybe not.

Then, I'd eat well. Really well.

I could definitely fall in love with Lowcountry living.

Have you been to South Carolina Lowcountry or another part of the Southeastern United States? What is your favorite part of the Southeast?

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Tertulia - Tapas & A VERY LONG Wait

I usually don't like to go to tapas restaurants. At the end of the meal, I usually feel as if I haven't eaten much of anything. I don't want to feel like I've gorged on food, but if I'm dropping loot on a meal, I'd like to think I should feel satisfied at the end of it.

Also, if I can try a popular restaurant that doesn't take reservations during an unpopular day of the week or an off time, I will. Many popular places here in New York City DON'T take reservations. When I see that's the case, I usually let out a sigh and hope that the bar area is inviting, or there's at least somewhere to sit when I get there. Then I gird myself for the wait. Sometimes, I just forego the restaurant altogether and wait until the hype dies down and the waits become shorter.

I couldn't do that this time. We went to Tertulia, a well-reviewed and very much hyped tapas place, at the suggestion of new couple friends. When you're married, and you meet new couple friends you like, it's always a good thing (See: Marshall & Lily from "How I Met Your Mother"). I let them pick the place.

This is the bar area at Tertulia. Tiny!

Husband J and I got there first and heard that there was a 1 1/2 hour plus wait. The unfortunate part of this unsurprising discovery was that this place was TINY...I mean really, really small. People were standing near the bar, and there was barely anywhere for us to wait for our friends. We finally scooted in right next to a food station by the door.

Then we waited and waited some more. About an hour and fifteen minutes into the wait, I was starting to lose energy because of low blood sugar. The nice hostess told us that the people sitting at the table intended for us weren't leaving for awhile...a long while. Our group decided to stay and were pretty even-keeled about it.

Next thing you know after our continued wait (I think close to the 2 hour mark?), we got a free pitcher of sangria and one of the smaller dishes. It pays to be patient and NICE. The staff was complimentary to and thanked US for our patience. I think we realized that: 1) It was Saturday night and most good places were going to be packed anyway; and 2) it wasn't necessarily their fault that people were eating slowly that night. Sangria makes everything better. I honestly think we waited well over 2 hours. Thank you to the staff at Tertulia for knowing how to take care of their customers and diffuse a situation.

Eventually, we ate all of this:

Smoked Pig Cheek, Quail Egg with Pepper. Cojonudo actually means "Awesome" in Spanish

It was awesome! The smoked pigcheek was crispy and almost like toast.

Tosta Matrimonio
Black & White Anchovies, Slow Roasted Tomato, Sheep's Milk Cheese, Aged Balsamic

I think if you don't like anchovies, then this flat bread-like will convert you. The smooth cheese spread is what really sets this apart.

Tortilla Espanola
A classic Spanish omelet: egg, potato and onion

Tortilla Espanola is a typical tapa that you'll find in many Spanish restaurants. I will say that this was fine and maybe even a little bland. It wasn't my favorite dish we ate that night.

Ensalada Invierno (Winter Salad)
Squash, kale, mushrooms, Idiazabal cheese, pumpkin seeds, mushroom vinaigrette

This was a great way to fit in some veggies. Kale is in season, and it's a super food. :)

Coles de Bruselas (Brussels Sprouts)
Crispy Brussels sprouts, pork belly and mojo picon

I think every restaurant must have found a way to make Brussels sprouts irresistible, and Tertulia is no exception. It's all about the mojo picon, a sauce made of garlic, paprika and cumin, which gives a lovely kick after crunching through the sprouts.

Chicken "Nuggets"
Boneless chicken, blue cheese sauce, pomegranate seeds

I'm calling these pieces of boneless chicken, chicken "nuggets". I love that they weren't breaded. The tangy blue cheese sauce was set off by tart pomegranate seeds, a nice contrast. The chicken was juicy, which is often hard to achieve with boneless pieces. This was a special that night, but they should add it to the menu full time.


Chuleton de Buey a la Brasa
40 day aged prime rib, grilled on coals, served with romesco sauce and pipperada sauce ( both not shown)

Wow...just wow. Perfectly cooked, supple "melt in your mouth" prime rib. I loved this. I never get prime rib.

Fingerling Potatoes

I usually ignore potatoes. I think I ate so many of these. Never underestimate what salt, pepper, and some garlic can do.

Torta de Manzana
a warm apple cake, rum ice cream and cider caramel

I will always love warm cake, and I loved that this cake just a tad sticky from the caramel. For those of you, who like rum raisin ice cream, you'll like this.

Tarta de Chocolate
Dark chocolate and coffee ganache and almonds topped with sea salt

We were all fighting for this smooth, rich chocolate in pie form.

Tertulia was worth the wait. That being said, I will only go back at this point when I know I can make it an early dinner or a late night snack (knowing me, it's going to be the former). The wait was killer!

Do you like tapas and small plate restaurants? What's the longest you'd wait for a table at a restaurant?

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