Tag Archives: Booze

The Green Wonder

Sometimes I have mundane things for dinner, and I think, is this worth posting? But if this grabs you:

… then maybe you might be interested in my hum-drum dinner. I am currently obsessed with everything to do with this green fruit, and I find myself ordering anything on a menu that has avocado in it. They have the good kind of fat (I know, right? Good fat?! Yes, please!), they add gorgeous color to any dish (okay, not ANY dish), and they have such a brilliant, smooth, creamy texture that I could just bathe in them.

But I won’t.

That would be weird.

Anyway… tonight for dinner I created a burger-less version of my favorite burger: swiss cheese, bacon, and avocado. This is amazing on a ground beef patty, but I used sliced smoked turkey (on sale at my local grocery) and it was divine. Way better than the spoiled potato salad I had for lunch…

…I don’t want to talk about it.

Are you an avocado lover? Here are a few more ideas of what to do with this peerless pitted pod of perfection.

… Sliced up and wedged between scrambled eggs and mozzarella in a tortilla for breakfast

… In the standard guacamole with salty chips and margaritas (avocado, chopped red onion, lime juice, and cilantro – easy as pie!)

… Blended with powdered sugar and lemon juice as frosting for a yellow or white cake (seriously!)

… Sliced up on toast with a sprinkle of lemon juice and coarse kosher salt

… Cut into chunks, add chunks of honey dew, sprinkle with lime juice, and use as a salsa for white fish or sauteed scallops

… Sliced up on crusty french bread underneath a layer of watermelon (I know, this is a weird one, but it is SO GOOD… I’m a texture girl myself)

A few tips when using avocados:

In any type of recipe, once you remove the meat from the skin and the pit, it will turn brown unless you add lime or lemon juice (notice all the above suggestions that are not immediately melted on a sandwich have lime/lemon juice in them)

A ripe avocado can be cut in half, around the pit, and twisted apart. Stick a sharp knife in the pit, twist, and it should pull right out.

To remove the meat from the skin: scoop with a spoon starting at the narrow end of the half, or for a VERY ripe fruit, peel away the skin (this is my favorite way because it preserves that smooth rounded appearance)

If you’re only using half an avocado at a time, you can leave the pit in the leftover half and it’ll help it keep longer in the fridge.

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Cinco de Mayo for Just Un Dolar!

Is that Spanish? Who even knows. And that post is misleading because Cinco de Mayo is today, a Wednesday, and these deliciously cheap tacos are only available on Tuesdays. But don’t be sad: you can go eat $1 tacos next Tuesday and pretend like it’s Cinco de Mayo all over again. Don’t worry. I won’t tell anybody.

Fish tacos! Apologies for the wonky color... clearly my camera has a mind of its own.

Wharf Bar and Grill 3rd Avenue, between 38th Street and 39th Street, New York, NY. Located amidst other bars boasting specials and deals for Happy Hour, Wharf is lovely because it’s spacious, there’s an area upstairs that can accommodate big parties, and it’s an easy going vibe. There are always drink specials and the staff is incredibly friendly.

On the menu:
Shock Top beer
$1 Tacos (fish, chicken, and beef)

Verdict: Did I mention each taco costs $1? How could this possibly be anything but incredible? Each taco is served on a corn tortilla that measures about 5″ in diameter, and you have to order in groups of 3, but truth be told: I ate 6. And I drank 2 delicious summery Shock Top beers (it’s like a Blue Moon). And I was comfortably full. I’d imagine if you’re a large man, you could probably eat 12 tacos and not eat for the rest of the night, but that’s still only $12! The protein of your choice (ground beef, shredded chicken, or fried fish, of which persuasion I’m not sure) is tucked into its shell with shredded lettuce, chopped red onions, a generous helping of shredded cheese, and a spicy salsa verde.

So this month, in honor of… um… the Fifth Day of May (seriously, what IS Cinco de Mayo?), have a taco! Because it’s only a dollar! And it’s delicious! And you just don’t need any more reason than that.

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Beannachtai na Feile Padraig!

Ireland holds a special place in my heart, and it has very little to do with the green shamrocks and drunk dudes from New Jersey getting into fist fights in the streets of Manhattan. It has everything to do with this:

Dingle Peninsula, Co. Kerry

I spent six weeks exploring Ireland under the guise of “study” abroad in the summer of 2006. My time on the Emerald Isle supplied me with some of my fondest memories, and one day in particular stands out as one of the best of my life.

As the rain poured down on the small coastal town of Dingle in County Kerry on the Western coast of Ireland, a small group of us decided that despite the weather we’d venture the mile or so into town. We couldn’t spend one whole precious day sitting in the hostel. So we donned thin rain jackets, insufficient footwear, and our most ambitious spirits and powered through the sheets of rain that pummeled down from the skies. I have never laughed so hard and I have never been so drenched. By the time we reached Murphy’s Pub, each of us was soaked down to our skivvies and desperate for an Irish coffee, a bowl of chowder, and a thick slice of brown bread.

Many pints and bowls of chowder later, we were still damp but warm, sated, and happy. I know it was the company that made that day what it turned out to be, but the brown bread didn’t hurt.

Toasting in celebration of making it all the way into town! Murphy’s Pub, Dingle, Co. Kerry

This will never replicate the dense, dark bread served at most pubs and Irish restaurants in Ireland itself, but in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I’d fill my apartment with a familiar scent.

On the menu: Irish Brown Bread
Makes 1 round 9-inch loaf
(Adapted from Epicurious Brown Bread Recipe)

4 cups whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 cup milk

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 9- by 2-inch round cake pan.

Whisk together flour, wheat germ, salt, sugar, baking soda, and cream of tartar in a large bowl until combined well. Blend in butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips until integrated. Make a well in center and add buttermilk and regular milk, stirring until a dough forms. Gently knead on a floured surface, adding just enough more flour to keep dough from sticking, until smooth, about 3 minutes.

Transfer dough to cake pan and flatten to fill pan. With a sharp knife, cut an X (1/2 inch deep) across top of dough, 5 inches long. Bake until loaf is lightly browned and sounds hollow when bottom is tapped, around 35 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack and cool, right side up, about 1 hour.

You can serve this right away but it slices more easily after sitting at room temperature for a day.

Best served when your clothes are damp from a long walk through the rain in Dingle, heavily buttered and accompanied by sassy lasses and a frothy pint of Bulmers cider.

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Mangia!

I had a few requests for the recipe for the vodka sauce. The problem? I have no recipe for the vodka sauce. And including phrases like, “Simmer until you can’t taste vodka” or “saute until you think it’s done” just seemed wrong. I conferred with my co-chef (BTB Celeste) and this is what we came up with.

Luxirare-Inspired Penne alla Vodka*

Yields servings for 12

2 large cans of San Marzano tomatoes, crushed
12 oz. of half and half
1 small can of tomato paste (approx. 4 oz.)
Half of a large Spanish onion
enough olive oil to coat the pan and cover onions
2/3 of a head of garlic
red pepper flakes to taste
2/3 cup braseola, cut in lardons (cut about a half inch thick; can substitute prosciutto)
3/4 cup parmesan cheese (plus 1/4 cup to sprinkle before serving)
1/2 cup of vodka
1/4 cup basil, chopped (plus 1/8 cup chiffonade for garnish)
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil over medium heat in large pot. Add onions and saute until soft. Add Braseole and garlic, cook for 10 minutes (be careful not to let the garlic burn). Turn up heat and add tomatoes, salt, red pepper flakes, chopped basil, and tomato paste until the mixture simmers. Return to medium heat and add cheese, half and half, and vodka. Turn heat way down and let simmer until the alcohol has cooked off, about 35 minutes. Salt to taste.

*Dear friends, please keep in mind that this is my rough estimate of the recipe. If the sauce is way too tomato-ey for your taste, add more cream. If it’s way too thick, add a little more liquid. If you’re drunk after one sip, maybe let it cook down longer than I suggested. This is kind of what I love about cooking. Yours won’t be anything like mine. But it’ll be delicious anyway.

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Eating and Drinking… Mostly Drinking… in the Emerald City

When I first met my friends who grew up in Seattle, they talked about it like you might describe a long lost love. No city is as amazing, beautiful, intelligent, desired, as this city. Flawless, one might say. I didn’t believe it. In fact, I even promised them I’d hate it just to spite them. I ate my words. And then I ate everything in sight.

Seattle is a foodie’s dream. Locally grown, locally prepared, locally admired. They are proud of their food sources, their culinary stars, and their seafood (mention how much you like Atlantic salmon and you can expect to get the stink eye), and there are restaurants around every single corner. I was only in town for four days but I had one thing on my mind: eating. Below, some highlights.

Serious Pie Truth be told… this is what our leftovers looked like. I was so ravenous by the time we sat down in Tom Douglas’s dark little pizza shop, I inhaled those suckers. Serious Pie does a Happy Hour from 3-5 PM Monday through Friday where each of their famous little pies is only $5. Madeline and I ordered 4 between the two of us and we managed to save a few pieces to take home.

On the menu: Yukon gold, rosemary, olive oil
Guanciale, soft egg, dandelion greens
Roasted chanterelles, truffle cheese
Penn cove clams, house pancetta, lemon thyme

Verdict: DELICIOUS. This place was on my radar because the truffle cheese pizza was featured on an episode of Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” but truth be told, the guanciale, egg, and dandelion greens blew everything else out of the water. The crust was delicate and salty, the perfect vehicle for the smooth egg, spicy greens, and shaved parmesan cheese on top (I think it was parmesan… whatever it was, it was like little slivers of heaven). This place is a perfect lunch spot, and if you’re fortunate enough to make it to happy hour, you can sample it all.

Dahlia Bakery Another spot I neglected to photograph on site. So help me God, you walk into this tiny shop, also owned by Serious Pie’s Tom Douglas, and the smell of donuts takes up every inch of available brain space.

On the menu: Cinnamon sugar donuts with vanilla mascarpone and apple butter dip
Coconut cream pie bites

Verdict: HOLY HELL. I’m a donut snob. “Is this the best donut you’ve ever had?” Madeline asked. “It’s the best yeast donut I’ve ever had,” I answered. What a tool.

Honestly, though. Crackly on the outside, sweet, doughy perfection on the inside. One word of warning: you have to eat these immediately. Not only are they better hot, good luck making it home with these suckers in the car. The coconut cream pie bites were tasty, but the donuts take the cake. Pun intended.

Hello, friends. (Sorry for the terrible quality – my hands were probably slippery with donut grease and sugar and apple butter and vanilla… what was I saying?)


Beautiful little bites. That flaky coconut is perfect.

Red Hook Brewery As much as I love a good meal, I also love a good adult beverage. And no, Dad, I am not an alcoholic. Red Hook gives a $1 tour which is essentially listening to the history of the company while sampling their delicious brews. 5 tiny beers for a dollar? Yes, please.

On the menu: Mud Slinger Spring Ale
Slim Chance (Red Hook’s light beer)
Long Hammer IPA (my personal favorite)
Black Hook Porter
Red Hook ESB Original Ale

Verdict: SICK. Not only do I love this beer (all 5 incantations), the food at the brewery’s restaurant was delicious. Because every minute of every day was filled with eating, my party opted to snack on appetizers instead of gorging on full meals but the burgers that sailed by almost made me forget that I had just eaten a full brunch. We got a plate of the nachos and a bowl of the clams sauteed in butter and red and green peppers. Thank God I had a good food base in my stomach before hitting the tour. Maybe I was buzzin’ by the time the tour was over. Maybe.

Enjoying a Nitro, one of the beers Red Hook serves only at the brewery. This wasn’t carbonated, and the waiter explained something about not being able to put it in a keg… or something… because of the gases… I don’t know, I was drunk.

Bottom line: I gained six pounds between when I landed in Seattle on Thursday and when I departed on Sunday. In my book? Success.

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