Archive | October, 2011

South City Kitchen

9 Oct

So let me start off by saying this won’t be a full-on review. Because quite honestly, it can’t be. What kind of integrity would I uphold as a serious, unpaid, lowly wordpress journalist if I allowed myself to post reviews of a restaurant where I was more than drunk at?

So here you go. I asked my twitter followers for a great restaurant in midtown Atlanta and this won by  long shot. So here’s some terrible cellphone, grainy pictures paired with some brief, equally unappealing captions. Why are you even still reading this? God you are patient and kind. But I will tell you this — it was delicious. You done did good, twitter. You done did good.

The menu. It was a little tough but the natural ink paired with the recycled, environment-friendly paper made it flavorful and delicious.

Vodka lemonade with Thyme sprigs. Now, vodka lemonade is already one of my most favorite drinks, but lemonade can be pretty sugary and it makes me feel a little guilty…guiltier than a vodka-soda, at least. But this was too good to pass up, and the thyme definitely SPICED it up. BAHAHAHA GET IT! THYME IS A SPICE! Or is it an herb? Is an herb a spice? Who cares let’s move on.

Cornbread. Biscuits. Butter. My love for butter goes back to my childhood days, when I would sneak down and literally get a stick of salted butter out of the fridge and bite the corner. Really. I did this. I was a classy child and that is what classy children do.

Fried Tennessee Catfish with zucchini slaw and red chili mayo. This was one of my favorite things of the night. The mayo was crucial and added such an extra kick that I forgot I was incoherently drunk. The catfish was breaded in cornmeal and the crunch was ohhhh so good.

Hot Ham and Cheese with pimento cheese and pickles. Not my favorite. Bread was a little soggy, something cringeworthy for a person who has such a love for super toasty grilled cheese sandwiches. But the flavor was definitely there. Needed that crispy edge, though.

Pork BBQ on a scallion-grits hoecake. Heh. Hoecake. One of John’s favorites of the night. I made the mistake of trying it without the hoecake so it was kinda so-so to me. According to the boys, the hoecake made it life changing. So yeah. Never refuse a hoe.

Maryland Crab Cake. I loved this. It was perfect. That is all.

The “Boo-Yah-Baze”. Of course a play off Bouillabaisse, which is basically a seafood soup with veggies and herbs. This particular one had shrimp, crawfish, catfish, fingerlings, okra, and sweet corn in a saffron tomato broth. To sum it up, it almost made me regret my decision of ordering fried chicken, as John ordered this dish. Anything that even comes CLOSE to making me doubt ordering fried chicken is amazing.

And here she is. My most favorite food in the world. Fried chicken. Look at that skin!! Here’s what I look for in piece of fried chicken: it is crucial to me that the skin be uber-crispy and salty-flavorful while still being a part of the chicken. None of that crazy crust or breading that takes on a completely different form. I don’t want the skin to be some sort of shell around the meat. I want them to be one. Is that too much to ask? I don’t think so. South City Kitchen did this perfectly.

So there you have it. In Atlanta? Definitely recommend this place. Let me know below if you’ve been and if you loved it as much as our drunken selves.

South City Kitchen

1144 Crescent Avenue NE, Atlanta, GA -(404) 873-7358

xx

Barefoot Contessa

8 Oct

I am definitely not ashamed to say that I lovvvvve incorporating boxed mixes into my kitchen life.

There is nothing better to me than waking up early (kinda) on a Sunday morning and taking 15 minutes of my life to throw together and mix up some muffins or a coffee cake to fill the house with a skeet worthy aroma.

I don’t even drink coffee. Not for health reasons, it just does nothing for me but upset my belly. But I DO do cake and muffins and I have I never, ever found a mix collection quite like Ina Garten’s.

They aren’t easy to come by…I get mine at Sur La Table and buy about 15 at a time just to fill my pantry up with. But I beg of you…please go on amazon.com and buy a collection immediately. They are to die for. Toss the box and lie. Really. Lie your ass off. Because no one will believe that your cakes, cupcakes, or cookies weren’t completely homemade. After a while, you’ll even believe the lie. And that’s the point where I am now.

I haven’t done a sweets post in a while so I just thought I’d tease you with this one, where I made a chocolate swirl coffee cake, care of the Barefoot Contessa, Ina, herself.

If you order some, pleasssse make sure you get the outrageous brownie mix, red velvet cupcake mix, pancake mix, blondies mix, chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting mix (one of my top choices), and sour cream coffee cake mix. Basically ummmm ALL OF THEM.

Get them HERE!

 

Yum Nua!

8 Oct

Title exclamation point highly necessary!

The other week, my sister came over to deliver our wonderful demon Pippa back to us in Los Angeles (she lives in Vegas) because Pippa was too young to go to the doggy boarding place with her equally smelly brother while we are traveling. To thank her for watching Pipps for an entire month, we made plans to take her to a big fancy dinner…plans that were quickly squashed once my sister made the suggestion that we just stay in and cook a big Thai meal for Johnny and his trainer Malcolm.

I jumped at this because, well, not only is my sister a great cook, but I really don’t ever make Thai food. In New York, Thai food delivery provides so much yumminess that it’s just not something I ever think about sitting down and doing.

So we did it. While the boys were out, we hit up the regular ol’ grocery store (LA traffic is a bitch and the 2/3 miles to Thai Town would have taken about an hour) and created a Thai feast just while walking up and down the aisles.

On the menu: chicken satay with peanut sauce, spicy beef salad (yum nua),a garlicy ground pork stir fry with green chili (SO good mixed into jasmine rice) and lastly, chicken and broccoli stir fry with snap peas and curry sauce.

While I want you guys to have the recipe to all of this, I think it’s best broken down. My sister explains it best, so I had her email her recipe. This is it in her own words:

Yum = Salad, Nua = Beef

This dish really epitomizes Thai cooking. Done properly, it embodies everything Thai food should be; balancing the principles of thai cuisine. The key to Thai food in general is combing salty, sweet, sour, and spicy. You should not be able to identify whether this dish is more or less of one particular flavor, hence creating the perfect balance.

You will need:

A well marbled NY steak, grilled to your liking, preferably on a charcoal grill. I prefer no more than medium rare; the lime will do some additional cooking. Allow to rest at room temp before slicing.

4 Shallots or 1 small red onion (I like a strong onion flavor), sliced into skinny wedges

1 bunch Cilantro, coarsely chopped, no stems

Tomatoes, cherry (1/2 c sliced in half) or 1-2 vine ripened (cut into wedges)

2 Limes

1 tbs Palm sugar (or brown sugar, but palm sugar is really worth the effort to locate; note that palm sugar is a bit sweeter, so adjust to your liking)

1-2 tbs Fish sauce

According to your spice tolerance, Thai chili powder (roasted sundried chilis ground into a fine powder, and very spicy!). I use about 1 tbs, be prepared to sweat!

Also according to your tolerance, Fresh Thai chili peppers, sliced thinly – also very spicy! I use 3-4; use red for color!

Grill the steak as directed above and slice into thin strips after allowing to rest for 15-20 min.  Add to a large mixing bowl. Because the palm sugar is so pasty, put it in a small bowl and add some of the lime juice and mush into a thick liquid form. The non-vegetable ingredients go first into the steak bowl, lime, fish sauce, palm sugar. Toss with your hands to incorporate all over the steak. Add the rest of the veggies, toss and TASTE. Tasting as you go is the most important part. You are eating it, so add more fish sauce if it needs more salt, more sugar if it is too lime-y, etc. Every Thai mom has their variation, so make it like YOU like it. Isn’t that what cooking is all about?

If you want to get fancy, mound into a shallow bowl or platter on a bed of frilly lettuce and garnish with lime wedges and more cilantro and a chili pepper flower.

LOVE YOU!

…So there you have it. Easy enough, right? Of course I had my camera on hand for this wonderfulness. Don’t mind the other dishes, I will share those recipes later :)

Steak, why you so delicious? If I had to kill you, I would not eat you. But I don’t. So I eat you.

As you can see, we like our shit still moo’ing. I think this salad is best made with rare steak, but of course you can do it however you’d like if you wanna be a brat like that geez sorry what goshhh chill out.

Anddddd as many of you all know, the addition of lime juice cooks up the meat all by itself. Apparently lime prefers it’s meat medium.

See? Still moo’ing but definitely a weak, faint, sad moo, probably said through tears. God I am terrible umm…look! Sugar!

I LOVE onion. Can’t get enough of it in a salad. Boyfriend has to deal with onion breath. That’s the trade for having such a perfect girlfriend, sorry.

Toss it around, put it on a pretty plate and voilà! You are done and you have a delicious meal to serve that people will definitely be asking about. You can tell them it’s your own secret recipe because you are 1/8th Thai, I don’t mind. See! I AMMM perfect.

Enjoy!! xx

Stuffed Bell Peppers

7 Oct

I made this ages ago and since then, the photos have completely gotten lost in my iPhoto. So thanks to a loyal twitter following of people begging for this recipe, I took the time to actually sort these babies out.

Definitely not my recipe, but DEFINITELY the best stuffed bell peppers I’ve ever tasted, and I truly had a great time making them. The house smelled sooooooo good during the entire process and I was happy to have John be so pleased with such an easy meal. One of my favorite things I’ve ever made…

YUMMMMM, right?? Pretty proud of myself for that one. Paired it with some super hot salsa I never ended up using, and just a romaine leaf salad with fresh corn, sweet cherry tomatoes and some store bought cilantro-chipotle dressing. Ay papi!

Paula Deen’s Stuffed Red Peppers recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/stuffed-red-peppers-recipe/index.html

The recipe is perfection, but I did cut the amount of rice in half, just to make myself feel a little better while enjoying this. Actually I probably cut more than half out, and I still clearly found it highly enjoyable. And DON’T cut out any of the cheese. If anything, add more. It makes it so ooey gooey delicious.

Enjoy!

 

 

My camera…

5 Oct

I have NO idea why, but soooo many of you have asked me about which camera I use to take these blog photos. I am terribly insecure about the photos, because I truly believe I have no artistic eye whatsoever, so I am kinda thrilled you are even asking.

It’s a Canon PowerShot G11, and it. is. the best.

I’ve had a lot of cameras, I usually get 1 or 2 a year. It’s gross. Sometimes I want a big one with an awesome lens, sometimes I miss the tiny ones that can slide in your pocket. Then I want the big one again and realize there are 20 better versions of it since mine came out.

I noticed that everyone I was around had this camera…people at casting agencies, professional photographers that chose it as their personal camera, friends that went on crazy adventurous travel excursions, and people that rarely leave the house during the day and who solely use it when going out .

I love it because it’s a real camera, not a tiny little digital slide-in-your-pocket thing, and yet it fits in most of my clutches (and isn’t even something I notice in my absurdly large purses) so I can easily whip it out at any restaurant and not look like a cuckoo weirdo with a large lens camera. I’m surprised John’s not embarrassed more….every time a dish comes out, I make the poor guy pause and have to stare at it for a few minutes while I try to get the perfect shot, while everyone watches. I think I’m embarrassed enough for the both of us, though.

Anyhow. That’s my camera. Sounds like I’m getting paid but I’m not, ok!? You asked! And also…it’s not cheap. But for me, in the long run, it is. Because I’m not getting a new one in a longggg time.

 

Best Bite

5 Oct

I think I’m gonna start doing something called “Best Bite I’ve Had This Week” which will mainly just be the best bite I’ve had this week. See what twitter has done to me? I feel the need to explain everything because no matter how clear you think something is, to many people, IT ISN’T. But please. Let’s not operate that way here, okay? You guys are awesome. Please stay awesome.

The only rules I’ve given myself for this is basic accessibility. No “specials” or “tasting menu” items. Just regular menu item dishes I would love for you guys to try if you come to New York or LA or wherever the hell it is that I have said bite. Capiche? I think it’s fun but I also think plucking hairs and squeezing blackheads is a great time so you’re gonna have to let me know if this sucks.

So for this first installment, I would like to showcase THIS small plate of deliciousness:

This is porcini mushroom risotto with egg yolk from Michael’s in NYC. The backstory on choosing this place is basically that my regular daily life right now, if I’m not actually shooting or taping or sleeping or eating or cleaning up dog poop or washing dog urine out of my sheets, is meetings. And since this “meetings” thing is new to me, and I find it SO exciting and intriguing when my agent, Sharon, takes me to an uber-midtown lunch meeting spot. This place in particular is FULL of regulars, and is just bustling with important people doing important things and discussing important deals. In return, I feel important! God I am easy. Anyhow, there is such great people-watching to do, that is, if you aren’t already in this “lunch meeting” type of world. And the FOOD is great.

So yes. The food. I hereby dub thee porcini mushroom risotto with egg yolk as my best bite of the week.  Creamy, perfectly cooked (overcooked risotto is my fancypants pet peeve) and the perfect size — it’s on the appetizers menu. And EGG YOLK? I think I’ve said before that MORE food needs to be blessed with egg yolk. I love it on the most random things. Pizza and salad especially. Ooh baby.

So there’s your…my…best bite of the week!

Michael’s 

24 W 55th St, New York - (212) 767-0555

http://michaelsnewyork.com

xx

Lake Como

2 Oct

I remember every single thing I ate in Italy. If I think hard enough, I can taste it so vividly that my watering taste buds end up tasting like tears of sadness in my mouth.

John and I, for work purposes ONLY, created a rule system going into this trip, knowing that we would want to eat everything on every menu and would come back to New York out of shape and embarrassed that we have no. willpower. at all.

The rules for each dinner were simple:

Order as many salads and meaty / cheesy appetizers as we wanted — we usually shared 3/4 each meal…seriously.

*Don’t get conned into the bread basket.

*If ordering pasta, order one dish to share before the main.

*Each person gets a meat or fish as their main.

And

*Dessert is a must.

So basically, pasta MUST be had but can only be shared, and fuck the bread basket. (I have similar rules when at the airport. If I must get a breakfast sandwich at McDonald’s, remove the crappy, cheese-less top piece of the muffin. I’m classy)

There WAS a meal that stuck out though, and it wasn’t even dinner.

This little gem is right on the lake, and is easiest reached by boat. Full of locals and family-owned, I can easily say it had some of the most delicious bites in all of my 25 years of consuming food (and boob milk). (not recently).

Called “Locanda La Tirlindana”, it was classic Italian in every way, cozy and friendly and just plain delicious, with the simplest menu I’ve ever seen.

Blah blah blah here’s what we ate…

…porcini mushroom salad with celery and parmesan, with a balsamic sesame seed dressing. So simple  and yummy. Taught me to add small slices of celery to any simple salad for a good, flavorful crunch.

…homemade ravioli, filled with ricotta and tossed around in butter and lemon. Can you see the bliss in the photo, or what?? It melted in my mouth then just erupted with flavor.  Now I’m getting sad, as I just ate a (topless) sausage mcmuffin.

….”fish from the lake gratinated with bacon”. An obvious choice, as the lake was about 6 feet from me, and the word bacon was mentioned.

…king prawns, squids and scallops gratinated in the oven. Don’t know what gratinated means? I didn’t either, but here’s a good answer. Now Au Gratin makes a little more sense :)

Gratinate: “The finishing of an already cooked dish by putting it into the oven to form a crispy golden crust on the surface. There are two methods of gratinating: full, which involves cooking and gratinating raw food at the same time, and a quicker method, during which the crust is simply added to pre-cooked food. In the first case, the whole cooking process is done in the oven, with the food covered with enough liquid to allow it to cook without burning; the second method, normally used for pasta, involves sprinkling grated cheese and breadcrumbs on the top, adding oil or butter, and placing in the oven.”

Everything was so good, that by the time the dessert question came up, I was only thinking about what other savory things I could order. So  while John ordered this citrus pannacotta…

…I went back and ordered this:

Pesto spaghetti with Mary’s pesto of pistachio, capers, basil, anchovies, orange and mint. Mary being the best friend of Patricia, the wife that does all the cooking. She makes it at the beginning of each day with Patricia. I mean really? Does everything have to be so freakin cute? Dammit Mary!

Sigh.

Of course I had to get a photo with this wonderful duo.

Home cooking in the most literal sense of the term. Here is Frederic and his wife Patricia. I miss it already :(

John also just pointed out that I broke the one-pasta rule by ordering that, but I disagree, as I thought that rule applied to dinner only, jerk. Also, my pasta replaced dessert, thus canceling the rule. I can make up all the rules to this I want!!

xx

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