When I first did the the Clean Cleanse a few years ago, I was really amazed at how delicious "clean" food can taste. When you take away all the extra cream, butter and flour from a recipe, the flavors of your basic ingredients really have a chance the shine.
Call me easily impressed, but that is how I felt after the first time I made this soup. It really surprised me how even the bare basics can taste so good and it literally took me no time at all. This mushroom soup doesn't hide behind any added cream or roux that you usually find in a good mushroom soup recipe. Instead there are a few basic ingredients - mushrooms, aromatics (onions & garlic), olive oil, dried thyme, and vegetable broth.
Whoever coined the saying "Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner", have probably never experienced a lobster dinner in Cinque Terre.
For our last meal in Italy, J and I had a lobster dinner and it made us feel like winners. With every bite, we were giving each other the look, like totally #winning! ^_^ Best meal ever! This meal pretty much summed up everything dining in Cinque Terre and Italy was supposed to be. Delicious seafood paired with fresh pasta in a effortless fresh tomato sauce. Can I scream, NOM NOM NOM, any louder?
When I told my coworker Irina that I was heading to Venice, she told me that I must go to Billy's in Manarola of the five Cinque Terre towns for dinner. She is one of the pickiest eaters I know and is the opposite of what I would call a "foodie". Irina doesn't eat seafood (who doesn't like seafood!?!) but said her husband ordered what must have been the freshest he had their whole trip.
This is the 12th and final post in my Best Bites of Italy series, a round-up of the best eats duri...
Move over Marie Callender, there's a new chicken pot pie in town. The Chicken Pot Pie at the new NoMad Bar is the be-all and end-all of chicken pot pies. You already know I'm obsessed with Chef Daniel Humm ever since he cooked me the best meal of my life.
So leave it to him to win my heart again by taking my childhood favorite, a comfort food to many, and turning it into the most decadent chicken pot pie that you will ever eat. This $36 pie is Humm's newest take on the humble chicken.
Why the hell is a chicken pot pie $36 you ask? It's outfitted with truffles and foie gras, a combo that we know works since it's what makes The NoMad's roast chicken so deliciously amazing. Remember, the roast chicken that's stuffed with a foie gras, truffle and brioche stuffing under its' skin to keep the breast moist as it roasts in the oven. The taste of foie and truffle is subtle but ever-so-present in every bite of the chicken.
This Chicken Pot Pie though... the integration of foie and truffle is much more showy. Call it their bar trick, if you will. The pie comes to you by a server carrying a tray of your "pub" food while another sets it on the table for you. It comes with two sides: a spoonful of truffle butter and seared foie gras on a skewer.
Besides its fresh seafood, picturesque cityscape and gorgeous ocean views, Cinque Terre is also well known for its lemons (helllllo lemoncello!) and the region is the birthplace of pesto. While J and I just barely missed the lemon festival that's here every May, there was still tons of lemoncello and pesto to go around.
I've already briefly mentioned my obsessive usage of TripAdvisor throughout this trip. So you know that when we arrived at our cute B&B in the village of Monterosso al Mare, L'Antica Terrazza - which I totally recommend by the way - I was on my phone, checking to see what good eats were around. I was more than happy to find out that the #1 restaurant listed in Monterosso was right under our place. Ummm, I think this is what people call fate.
This is the 11th post in my Best Bites of Italy series, a round-up of the best eats during my 2 we...
Then, there are some veggies that I tend to neglect. The one that was staring me in the face was the beets. Although beets sometimes has a reputation for being your grandpa's favorite food since it's usually so mushy when it's finally prepared, it's definitely made quite a combat in fine dining. Two preparations that come to mind is the amazing way that Atera charred the beet so it was black on the outside and juicy and almost bloody on the inside. Reminiscent of an awesome piece of seared steak. Blue Hill at Stone Barns also took the meat approach when making their beets - they turned it into mini beet sliders.
But let's be honest here. I'm a beet-cooking noob, so I took the simplest approach in my preparation - I just boiled the suckers in water and a bit of vinegar because that's what the internet told me to do. It's supposed to prevent the beets from bleeding into the water - but it didn't work for me. The beets bled anyways but no one was hurt, so we were fine.
After boiling for about 45 minutes, the beets were fork tender, and I peeled off the skin with a spoon and it was ready for me to put into this lovely salad. I had no clue that 3 beets would be so much, I must have had this simple beet & goat cheese salad 5-6 times over the course of a week and a half before I was able to finish it all. That was fine by me since this goat cheese, beets and candied pecans went so well together. And since I made these beets by myself they had more of a bite to them unlike the more mushy beets I usually buy or order at a restaurant. Gotta love the CSA for pushing me to try making new things!
On nights that I wanted a quick meal, I quickly dressed this with balsamic vinegar. However, on a night when I was being fancccy and cooking for a friend, I reduced the balsamic vinegar in a pan to drizzle it over my salad.
Beet, Goat Cheese & Candied Pecan Salad½ medium beet, cooked & cut into forkable pieces1 oz goat cheese1 handful of candied pecans
2 medium turnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
3 cups of lettuce
balsamic vinegar to lightly dress salad
good quality olive oil
fresh ground black pepper1. Reduce balsamic vinegar (optional). Depending on how fancy you're feeling (or how many pots you want to wash), reduce ½ cup of balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over low heat. Once the liquid evaporates to about half of what it was, turn off heat. The longer the vinegar sits, the thicker it becomes for you to use to dress your salad.
2. Add everything in bowl. Layer your salad with lettuce, beets, goat cheese and dress with either reduced balsamic vinegar or just balsamic vinegar. Drizzle some olive oil over that. Top with candied pecans and a crack of ground pepper if you choose.
Happy Thursday! Now that the weekend is just 2 days away, are you thinking about what you're going to do this weekend yet? I know I am. I already mentioned this on my 5 Things You Must Do in NYC This Summer post, but Summer Streets is my absolute favorite thing to do on Saturday mornings in August. It's the best way to start the weekend.
Miles and miles of Park Ave along with other parts of lower Manhattan down to the Brooklyn Bridge will be closed off to cars and there are fun corporate sponsored pit stops along the way. I am usually terrified of getting run over by cars but love biking so it is the perfect event for me. I love that New York City puts on this event every summer. It gets everyone out and active early in the morning: from families to organized runners with their pacers.
Just got back from the David Yurman Sample Sale at Chelsea Market and wanted to give you guys the 411 of what's there.
Usually the lines are crazy by the time the doors open (I am talking about a one hour wait), so I have not been able to shop right when the sale begins. This time, the sale started at 10am so I was able to line up right before work to check it out - most cable bracelets sell out within the first 30 minutes, so I was most excited for this!
I got in line inside Chelsea Market at 8:50 and there were 3-4 people waiting. 10 minutes in, we were told that we had to wait on the outside of the building at 410 W16th Street- so take note if you are interesting in coming - entrance is on the outside of Chelsea Market.
So how was the loot? This time around, I had my eye on the cable bracelets since I knew that they were the first to go in this sale. I was the first to get to them, and the selection was a bit disappointing - only 5 4mm bracelets available. Everything is 50% off, so that makes it ~$300 (original price is $595). I can't find the exact one on the website, this "Cable Classics Bracelet with Gold" is the most similar at $395.
Just got back from the David Yurman Sample Sale at Chelsea Market and wanted to give you guys the...
last food recommendation from my foodie AirBnB hostess, Daniella, was BOMB.com, it only seemed appropriate that we hit up another spot on her list of good eats. The one that stuck out to me the most was La Beppa Fioraia. "Modern casual atmosphere, always full of locals and their pizza is very, very good. Garden seating as well," she promised. I was instantly sold. Considering we haven't had pizza since Rome, I definitely wanted to get my fix.
Thanks to social media (Foursquare check-ins FTW), I found out that Christine was in Italy at the same time we were. I barely missed her when we were in Venice, so I was super excited to find out that we were going to have a day overlapping in Florence! I haven't seen Christine since she was in New York over a year ago, so I was more than excited to catch up and hear about her travels.
Also, don't get me wrong, but after spending over a week of couple romantic time with J, we were starting to speak our own strange language. We couldn't help it - Italy was just too romantic for us to not develop some type of weird lovey-dovey language mixed in with Clash of Clans slang. Gag (but kinda cute too right? lol) It was becoming a problem. We needed outside intervention to bring us back to reality.
We met up with Christine and her travel companion, also Christine (two Christines!!) to figure out our game plan for the day. The only request that the Christines had was to go to the Boboli Gardens across the river to explore. Yes, the same ones that Kimye got married in just a few days prior. It just so happened that La Beppa Fioraia was also across the river and on the way to the gardens. Woohoo! Love it when things just work out.
review here), I became very wary of food recommendation and online reviews. Long story short - I chose to go to Acqua al 2 because two different coworkers raved about their experience there so it got me excited. I should have known better than to blindly trust them because I had read some reviews online which had red flags, plus Acqua al 2 has locations in Washington DC and in San Diego? Yea, really should have known better.
So the next few nights, I became paranoid when picking a place for dinner. To the point that I started annoying myself because I was getting hangry and couldn't just pick a place. Am I the only one who gets like this? I'm already terrible at making restaurant decisions (food FOMO I'm telling you), but this just really escalated my indecision. J's so sweet and usually lets me choose what I want. I suspect it's because he doesn't want to be responsible for the wrath of Shelly eating bad food.
My college roommate studied abroad in Florence and fell in love with the city for it was the heart of where the European Renaissance began. The best arts, beautiful statues and museums are centered in Florence, Italy. For a long time, I have only dreamed about being in the city that she holds so dearly. So how did I fall in love with Florence? It was here, at Uscio e Bottega.
this lovely AirBnB apartment just steps away from the beautiful Duomo, definitely one of the best sites of the city. Our hostess Daniella was the sweetest person ever. She had the best bottle of Chianti wine, delicious breakfast coffee cake and her curated list of restaurant recommendations waiting for us upon arrival. A woman after my own heart.
This is the 8th post in my Best Bites of Italy series, a round-up of the best eats during my 2 w...
Long before moving to New York, I've heard about Chef David Chang's first restaurant, Momofuku Noodle Bar. Chang and I both seem to have an obsession with noodles and Noodle Bar is his tribute for this awesome food category. Noodle Bar features his take on the ever-so-popular ramen, but also other Asian-fusion-y noodles. Unfortunately, all I've ever heard from other foodies about Momofuku's Ramen was that it's no bueno.
Since living here, I've tried almost every other Momofuku eats other than the ramen: first the large format meal Bo Ssäm at Momofuku Ssam Bar (nom nom nom), then the large format Fried Chicken Meal at Momofuku Noodle Bar (meh), and finally a great meal at Momofuku Má Pêche.
A friend who got me obsessed with David Chang's Mind of a Chef series on Netflix came to visit New York a few months ago, so I figured there was no better time to finally see for myself if what they all say about the ramen is true. Turns out, Elijah Wood thought the same thing and wanted to check out Noodle Bar on the same night! (Hello stalker status! hehe)
This Best Bites of Italy post comes to you as an organic find. A place that I stumbled upon by chance and smell. Sometimes I feel guilty for always looking up reviews online prior to visiting a place to eat. It takes the spontaneity out of traveling but I can't help but to consult TripAdvisor to see what others have said about the place. Who wants to waste stomach space and calories on a crappy meal right?
Then there are those few times that I wander and trust my own instincts. These little bites of pizza heaven at Cip Ciap remind me that I should ditch the app from time to time and just for it.
Plus, I really need to tell you right away about this awesome dessert that we had while it's still in season. Usually I don't like to skip over dinner and talk right about dessert (except for my dessert extravaganza at Marea), but this was clearly the standout dish of the night. It was sooooo good that we ordered a second one!
The simplicity in this dessert was a bit genius, it was essentially a sangria affogato. The juicy peach, freshly shipped from Frog Hollow Orchards in California, was the true star of the dish. There's nothing like a perfectly ripe peach that's in season to really help a dessert shine. Cindy was ready to stuff a peach displayed on the counter in the back in her shirt pocket (lol!!)! The creamy fior di latte gelato and sangria was the best compliment for this twist on a classic affogato. Who knew ice cream could taste so good with sangria!?
Now that we had dessert, I can talk about our dinner at Chef Andrew Carmellini's newest venture, Bar Primi. I've been a fan of Chef Carmellini ever since I had brunch at Locanda Verde a few years ago, however I have yet to try his other two NYC hot spots, The Dutch & Lafayette. So when Terry suggested Bar Primi as a restaurant she wanted to try for our get-together, I happily obliged.
|ricotta bruschetta: fichi, sardinian honey - $7|
No reservations are accepted here, but we were able to easily get a table for four at 7pm on a Tuesday Night without any issues. We did notice that the restaurant started to get more packed later in the night, so probably earlier is always better than later.
In Chef Carmellini's own words: "Bar Primi is my corner pasta shop devoted to ‘primi piatti,’ fresh pasta traditionally prepared with non-GMO semolina and specialty ‘00’ flours, organic eggs and family recipes. Everyday we make more than a dozen different types of pasta, like lumache and rigatoni with our imported extruder, ravioli and mezzalune cut and filled by hand or hand-rolled garganelli and orecchiette."
Having just come back from Italy, this was music to my ears. It brought me back to the homemade pasta class that I took in Florence where we prepared fresh pasta with superfine semolina. Yummmm...
That only means one thing for me: a mystery box of vegetables full of veggies I would never usually buy myself.
While my phobia for fruits doesn't really extend to vegetables, I do a pretty good job of avoiding trying to cook vegetables that is a tad unfamiliar to me. So that's where the CSA comes to the rescue to test my limits, and this week, my limit is this beautiful rainbow chard.
With vegetables this fresh, I usually like to take the approach of less is more so in this iteration of me trying rainbow swiss chard is by sautéing it with some olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes and topping it with a dab of butter and topped with fleur de sel since I'm feeling extra fancy today.
After discarding the toughest part of the stem on the bottom, I cut the rest of the stems into small pieces and the leaves into thin ribbons. This simple preparation of rainbow chard got me completely addicted. Unlike other chard I've had before, this rainbow chard from the CSA was so sweet with a bit of bite to it - I'm officially addicted and can't wait to see if my next mystery box comes with this vibrant leafy vegetable!
P.S. It's great as breakfast too, served here with scrambled egg whites with a yolk cracked in and chicken sausage from Trader Joe's.
Sautéed Rainbow Swiss ChardServes 2
1 large bunch of fresh Swiss chard
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon water
dash of red pepper flakes
salt (fleur de sel!) to taste
1 teaspoon of butter (optional)
squeeze of lemon (if you have it)
1. Prepare swiss chard. Wash your chard in cold water then remove the toughest part of your stem - depending on your chard, perhaps 1 inch of the bottom. Remove the rest of the stem from the leaf and cut stems into small quarter-inch pieces. Cut leaves into thin ribbons.
2. Sauté chard. In a large pan, put pan on medium heat. Once hot, add olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook until garlic is fragrant, but not burnt, about a minute. Add chard, salt, and water, then cover pan. In about 2-3 minutes, give the pan a good shake to move the leaves around so it cooks more evenly. If the chard looks dry, add another tablespoon of water. Cook for another 3 minutes to see if all the leaves cooked down. Be careful of overcooking your chard or else the color of your veggies will be less vibrant. Once it's cooked to the desired amount, finish the pan with your optional butter. Melt it down and turn off the heat.
3. Add lemon, optional. If you have it, give a squeeze of lemon over the rainbow chard. This gives a bit of brightness to the dish. Plate & serve!
After 4 days of delicious bites in Rome, J and I took a four hour train ride to spend a night in Venice. We departed from Rome early Sunday morning since Sundays in Italy are usually more quiet since everything is closed for this sacred day. What we failed to realize is that Venice would also be more quiet - as it turns out, all of the tapas places we wanted to try on Sunday afternoon was closed. So much for tapas hopping on a Sunday!
Luckily, there were still a ton of choices for dinner options. Unlike the bustling big city of Rome, Venice had such a small town feel unlike any other place I've ever been to. Of course, since it is such a popular tourist destination, there were handfuls of restaurants around the Grand Rialto which screamed tourist trap! To avoid those spots, I found a restaurant that was a bit more "in the cuts" of Venice, where we had to wander through numerous alleyways, bridges and dead end streets.
As we strolled through the quint streets of city of romance, we saw tons of lost people trying to navigate the confusing streets of Venice as well. Luckily I bought a SIM card from WIND (a must!!) so we had Google Maps to direct us, but even then it was difficult.
This is the 6th post in my Best Bites of Italy series, a round-up of the best eats during my 2 wee...
On an Italian getaway with the BF, a girl expects to be romanced with truffles, love and affection. In Italy, truffles come first - glad we have our priorities straight here ;). To my surprise, being showered with truffles, in the land of truffles, proved to be much more difficult than I originally anticipated during my travels in Italy.
Two out of the three times when I ordered "tartufo" pasta dishes in Italy, I ended up disappointed. Le Mani in Pasta spoiled me and set me up to believe that all truffle in Italy will come this easily and in this abundance. In retrospect, I should have reaaaaallly cherished this beautiful treat and enjoy each and every single bite of my freshly shaven truffles as this would be the first and last time that I would get this in my 10 days here.
J and I chose Le Mani in Pasta on our final night in Rome as a recommendation from our BnB host in Trastevere. We asked our host about his favorite restaurants in the area and he pointed us to Le Mani in Pasta. "An authentic local pasta experience," he said. Reservations are a must, and luckily he was able to help us make the last available reservation of the night at 9:30pm.
This is the 5th post in my Best Bites of Italy series, a round-up of the best eats during my 2 wee...
With only 1 month left (how is it August already??), here's a quick list of New York City summertime activities that almost makes me (almost) forget why I miss California...
1. Shakespeare in the Park
I I've talked about this in a recent blog post - but really - Shakespeare in the Park is such a unique New York summertime experience. You really have to go see it for yourself and experience the beauty of it. Since 1962, this annual tradition currently features two different production of William Shakespeare's plays every summer. It often features celebrity actors who performs each play in the beautiful Delacorte Theatre, right in the middle of Central Park.
There are a few ways to get your hands on the free tickets including waiting in line and using the virtual ticketing system - see my blog post about getting free tickets to this awesome event.
The first activity on my list is, of course, food related. Smorgasbord is hands down the BEST food market in New York City. Every weekend, around 75-100 food vendors gather to put together a smörgåsbord of food in Brooklyn for your enjoyment. It's been so popular that they've added a new time and location for 2014.
On Saturdays, you can find Smorgasbord in Williamsburg at East River State Park (90 Kent Ave at N. 7 St.) and on Sundays, you can find the new location of Smorg in DUMBO at Tobacco Warehouse (30 Water St.) from 11am-6pm, rain or shine.
Some stalls are a hit or miss, but my personal favorites include fried anchovies from Bon Chovie (heads on, Jersey Style), doughnuts from Dough (fluffy Mojito doughnuts) and bomb milk shakes & grilled cheeses from Milk. Check out the Smorg's list for a full list of vendors.
Just be sure to come with a few friends so you can try a variety of things by the picnic tables and grass area around the market.
3. Summer Streets
Is there anything more awesome than Park Avenue being closed down to cars on Saturday mornings throughout August? I don't think so. With the streets closed, New Yorkers and vistors alike can roam and bike through 7 miles of open road in Manhattan from 7am-1pm without having to worry about getting run over in busy traffic. In 2014, the dates for Summer Streets is August 2, 9 & 16.
|Biked up to a completely empty Central Park!|
Summer Streets has quickly become a tradition for me & J - we do it every weekend. Since it's so close to our apartment, we grab free bikes right when it opens at 7AM since that's when the streets are emptiest. We bike up to central park, make a loop and get back down to midtown east. The later it gets, the more crowded the streets, but that's fun in its own way too. There's also a ton of rest stops with activities and booths from all the sponsors. This is DEFINITELY a summer must!
4. Picnics in Central Park
Central Park is a true safe haven for those sick of the congested concrete jungle. Miles and miles of...trees and nature? There's nothing like gathering the best eats of Manhattan (alllll the good noms from Zabars: cheese, smoked salmon and cured meats), a few bottles of wine and a picnic blanket to lounge around and people watch with friends on the weekend. My favorite spots to picnic is Sheep's Meadow and the Great Lawn.
5. Outdoor Movies
Outdoor Movies is one of the biggest NYC events over the summer. There are free outdoor movies everywhere: Bryant Park, Central Park, RiverFlicks by the Hudson, the list goes on and on! My favorite location is by the Hudson because you see the sun setting which is just beautiful. I recommend
securing a spot at around 6:30PM, gather your friends and a picnic and hang out until the screenings begin (usually at around 8PM when the sun starts to set). The Skint has a great complete list for 2014 - be sure to catch a showing before the summer is over!