Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Perfect Topping.

My mom made this fresh tomato salsa this past summer. We ate it with tortilla chips & put it on top of a pork tenderloin. It was SO good, with loads of flavor. The best part was that it was super healthy, too! The recipe is from Jimmy Buffet's sister's cookbook, Crazy Sista Cooking. My mom gave the cookbook to me as a little "happy gift" when I got engaged, and I love it! It has so many wonderful recipes. I cannot wait to cook out of it some more! I wanted to share it with you all, because it's so versatile. It can go on chicken, fish, or as a side dish. Enjoy! xx

P.S. Today is the end of baseball season! Woo hoo!! I've been busy packing up and cleaning. We are heading to Charleston tomorrow, for a wedding this weekend, so I am excited for some "down time" with my little honey! Have a good rest of the week and weekend! I won't post anymore until I return to Nashville next week!

Monday, September 26, 2011

dell'anima NYC.

For the very last Orioles vs Yankees series of the season, I had one glorious night to have dinner with my husband in my favorite city. That never happens, so I wanted to be sure the night was special and the restaurant/food was amazing! My little honey always lets me pick the restaurants, for which I am very grateful because I love doing that! It's my little hobby :)  This may seem dorky, but I keep a running list of restaurants that I want to try (or that I've found and loved) in almost every major city - and some not so major cities. So if you want any suggestions for your next trip, just ask! I've already given dozens and dozens of recommendations to my friends and family, with great feedback, so just let me know! I would be glad to point your fork in the right direction!

I decided that we would go to dell'anima, in the West Village. I had read about it on several blogs, so it was already on my NYC "list." We wanted something intimate, cozy, and nice - yet low key. This was the perfect choice! Dell'anima means "of the soul" in Italian. The service was wonderful, and our server gave us all the right food and wine suggestions. I would highly recommend this place to anyone, for a great date night or even dinner with your closest girlfriends. Along with Graffiti Food & Wine Bar, which I blogged about here, these two are my new favorite NYC places! Check it out...

The cozy West Village restaurant.


We shared two appetizers... this is the Roasted Beet salad with hazelnuts, pecorino romano, roasted fennel, and an orange vinaigrette. SO AMAZING! I found a similar recipe here.

The second app we shared was the sea salt ricotta spread on toasted baguette slices. 
This was such a simple recipe, but it was so flavorful! We really loved this one, too!

We each ordered the "Pollo Al Diavolo" after I read a rave review about it in this month's article of Bon Appetit. The food critic said it was his favorite restaurant meal. I cannot RAVE about this dish enough...WOW! Chris and I never order chicken at restaurants, but we made an exception here. We were so glad we did, because we both agreed this was the best chicken we've ever had out.
Here's the description the menu gave: Chicken with broccoli rabe, garlic, and chilies.
They under sold this chicken in the description, because it was crispy on the outside & perfectly juicy on the inside! I asked our waiter how they did that, and he said it was by searing it in a hot pan then sticking it in the oven to finish cooking. It was coated in paprika and fennel powder. 
We're going to try and re-create this soon.

Our side dish was another hit: Smoked Corn with Italian peppers, poblano pepper, and pickled onion.
YUMMMMMMM! It had the perfect amount of "kick" to it!

My dessert (which I had already gotten into by the time I took the picture, ha!)

My little honey's dessert: Apple cake with a caramel sauce

What are your favorite NYC places? I would love add some more to my growing list!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Graffiti NYC.

The last time I was in New York, I met my friend Tara at Graffiti Food & Wine Bar. It had been on my NYC "list" of places to go for a while now, and since I knew Tara and I both liked going to new places, we made reservations here. I had heard about the restaurant first on Martha Stewart, as it was one of her favorite places to eat in the city. I knew it had to be good if she made that kind of statement about it, out of ALL the restaurants in NYC! I thought it was one of the best dining experiences, and not just because of the food! The ambiance, kind & informative host/waitress, prices, and food were all part of the reason I give this restaurant a 10 out of 10!

Here's a little bit of background on the restaurant that I pulled from its website: The Next Iron Chef 2010 runner up chef/owner Jehangir Mehta, has pushed palates - with this sweet-and-savory spot Graffiti, in the East Village. This eclectic shoebox-size restaurant which he designed himself, serves up eclectic, international small plates that feature his trademark affinity for bold flavors and spices such as chilies, fennel, turmeric and star anise. The harmony of Asian ingredients with French/American cuisine, makes Graffiti a truly unique dining paradise.

And they aren't lying when they said it's a "shoebox-sized" restaurant! Tara and I were both surprised at how small it was, but that didn't matter to us...the restaurant just had a relaxed, special vibe that we automatically loved. Be sure and call for a reservation, because it fills up fast due to its small size and amazing (and amazingly priced) menu! 

This is the whole restaurant!!

As you can see here, the menu is divided up into four sections. NOTHING is over $15! I was shocked, yet very glad, to see that you could still get a gourmet meal from a "celebrity" chef without spending a ton. The difference in price, the waitress explained, was not quantity or quality of food - it just reflected the items on the menu with more expensive ingredients, thus resulting in a little higher price. My friend and I chose to share several things so we could taste more of the menu. So glad we did! Every single thing was mouth watering and so beautifully presented!

Watermelon Feta Salad with Mint Sorbet (our fave)

For the life of me, I cannot remember what this was! LOL. It was good though!!

Chickpea Crusted Skate, with Mint Yogurt Sauce

Graffiti Burger with garlic fingerling potatoes, with chipotle mayo

I loved how the check arrived in this envelop with graffiti all over it. 
A very charming way to end our delicious night!

Definitely go here on your next NYC visit! Here are some of my fave NYC places:
(will do another big NYC favorites post soon!)

-Spice Market (located in the Meatpacking District)
-Orso (one of my favorite restaurants of all time!) Did a post on it here.
-Coolhaus (gourmet ice cream sandwich food truck) Check out their website to find out their daily locations in the cities they are in.
-Beauty & Essex (see my post on it here)
-Locanda Verde
-The Pump Energy Food (healthy "fast food" for a quick lunch or dinner)
-Plaza Hotel - Love going here for drinks and weekend brunch
-Boom Boom Room at The Standard 
-Dell'anima (just recently found this place; Chris and I LOVED it! Post to come soon!)
-Antique Garage (in Soho; see post here
-La Bonne Soupe (My favorite lunch place in all of NYC!)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

FALLing for Shoes.

Whether I'm ready or not, fall is coming! I am not quite ready to put away my summer sandals, bright nail polish, and trusty flip flops. Luckily, we will start the off-season in Tennessee, so I can look forward to warmer temperatures for at least another month or so! However, between all the September issues of magazines, blog posts, and NY Fashion Week, I've been getting a little excited about the fall weather! I have already made a few fall/winter purchases, but I will wait until it truly starts getting cooler before I bring those babies out! I stumbled on this Glamour article titled "52 Cute Summer to Fall Shoes Under $150." I loved the article and the shoes featured in it! I want about half of the shoes they featured, ha! Check out the article, for sure, to get some ideas. Here were some of my favorites:

LOVE these! I have these that look a lot like them & wear them all the time!

Old Navy boots for only $35! They come in 2 colors! LOVE!

Nude Sam Edelman pumps. Classic.

Target pumps for $25! 
A friend got these for me in black. They also come in red.
They are very good looking & look like a much more expensive shoe! 
This is a great buy!

I absolutely love this one! Should I order it??
Steve Madden has a similar one, too.

Been loving these Jessica Simpson shoes since I saw her wearing them in a mag.
They come in several different colors.

These are fab! Rachel Roy sandals.
Or you can find them here for cheaper!

Comes in 3 different colors.

Topshop Wedges in a perfect-for-fall shade!

Speaking of fall, here are some recipes I plan on making once the temps drop...

Red Wine Chocolate Cake (two of my fave things in ONE dessert?!? yes please!)
Black Bean & Sweet Potato Chili
Chicken Pot Pie
Baked Oatmeal with Fruit (using fall flavors and fruits)
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
Fig Blue Cheese Appetizer Tarts (these are a MUST make for fall get-togethers or tailgating)***
Butternut Squash & Goat Cheese Lasagna (My uncle made this for me last year, and it was -by far- the best I've EVER had! Try this one for your husband and family!)***
Pumpkin French Toast Stuffed with Blackberry Caramel Mascarpone
A Good Ol' Chocolate Cake 
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Mini Pumpkin Whoppie Pies
Classic Chili w/a few twists (Chris and I loveeeee to make chili & cornbread!)

What fall recipes do YOU like cooking when the leaves start to fall?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

San Francisco.

I went to San Francisco a couple of weeks ago! I had been dying to get there, for many reasons. I wanted to see the beautiful city and sights, of course. But you guys know me... you know I love to eat. I was also excited to sample all the great things San Fran had to offer, food wise, too! Since Chris has to be at the field right around lunch - and since that field was in Oakland, 20-30 mins away from downtown San Fran where we were staying - he had to leave every day around 1pm. That left me to do a lot of exploring on my own. I don't mind that, but I definitely want to go back and eat explore the city with him soon! I had a list of places I wanted to go, including both touristy things, shopping, and restaurants to try. I did a lot of it, and below I have outlined the entire list that I have. Please feel free to write them down for yourself, or pass them along! I've already given my San Francisco "list" to about 6 people, so I hope they found it as useful, fun, and tasty as I did! Enjoy my post on one of my new favorite cities! If you have any San Fran recommendations, please leave them in the comments below!

This was my first stop on the trip. My friend Melina took me to to the Balboa Cafe for brunch. It was FABULOUS! Her family owns some wineries you definitely need to check out here.

Their bloody mary is probably the best one I've ever had, to date!

We both ordered the Eggs Florentine, which was wonderful!
I would recommend this spot to anyone! Their dinner is great, too, I hear!

Such a beautiful view from Ghirardelli Square!

Do you think I would come to Ghirardelli Square and NOT have a hot fudge sundae??? 
You all know me better than that now! ;)

I had heard so many great things about this place, I had to go! It didn't disappoint!

Their menu is on the wall when you walk in. The wait was 30-45 minutes, which wasn't that bad considering you can't make reservations. 
They offered me a glass of wine while I waited, too!

LOVED these warm marinated olives!!

We chose the Broccoli Raab pizza, which was a unique departure from what I usually order.
I liked it a lot! Next time I want to try the clam pie or the prosciutto pie! I heard rave reviews on both!

My little honey and I did make it to brunch at Zazie. This cute place came highly recommended to me by my sweet, foodie friend Tara. (Thanks Tara!) Really loved this place! I had the BIGGEST cappuccino I've ever had! Look at the size of that mug, bigger than my face!

I had the eggs benedict "la mer" which was incredibly tasty!

Chris had the "Greece" eggs. YUM!
If the weather is nice, be sure and sit on their back patio! It's so charming, like a secret garden!

You have to make it into Chinatown while in San Fran at least once!!
Upon the recommendation of my friend Tara - who RAVED about this place - I went to
R&G Lounge in Chinatown. She said there were two things I "Had" to get:
1. The Lychee Martini (above)  and  2. The Salt & Pepper Crab (below)
The martini was great, with the unique flavor the the lychee being the perfect amount of sweet!

Here is the main course. I wasn't expecting the WHOLE crab, shell and all. The waiter laughed at my reaction but assured me that this was one of the most popular things on their menu. I asked him the best way to go about eating it, then DUG IN! Wowza! It was amazing! SO full of flavor! Glad I went to R&G Lounge for such a unique meal!

Out of all the places I had on my list to go in San Fan, this was #1, The Press Club.
Their motto says it perfectly: The Press Club is a wine bar and lounge that offers California's finest wines and beers in a sophisticated and social atmosphere. Press Club's seasonal menu of small plates and thoughtful pairings offer the ultimate wine experience in one of San Francisco's most notable destinations. 

Each month, Press Club features 2 vintners in addition to their normal wine menu.
When I was there, the above menu was one of two being featured. I love sparking wines and champagne, so I wanted to try this flight. 

My favorite of the 3 was the brut rose!

I was asking about the "Hell or High Watermelon" beer that was on the menu, because I had read about it in a magazine. I was curious, so they let me try it! It was SO good, and I am not usually a beer drinker!
I was getting hungry, so we ordered something that went well with the beer....

A cheese plate, with fresh fruit and their house-made plum jam! I chose 2 cheeses:
The Humboldt Fog (which they had paired with the Watermelon beer) and the Flagship Cheddar.
AMAZING!! What a perfect pairing! They know their stuff at the Press Club, for sure!

A small section of the cheese menu.

Look at this cute little street I happened upon while shopping! 
It's completely closed off, and there is a restaurant in the middle with outdoor seating!

Here are my other San Francisco suggestions, in addition to the ones above:

- RN74 (A Michael Minas restaurant)

- The Slanted Door: This was another recommendation that came HIGHLY recommended by many, many people and blogs. It's located in the Ferry Building, which I will tell you more about later. Go here for lunch, drinks, or dinner! They have a creative cocktail menu and great food, so I hear/read.

- Hog Island Oyster Company (also located in the Ferry Building) 

- 21st Amendment Brewery: Enjoy craft beer here; this is where the "Hell or High Watermelon" beer is from! Also try the "Monks Blood beer"

- Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery (located in the Haight-Ashberry district) Great food & unique beers. Try the "Pride of Brant Hill Beer"

- City Beer: Good place to find interesting craft beers, but you can also sit and have some wine & cheese, too, if that's more your thing! 

- Le Trappe: One of Anthony Bourdain's picks!!

- Bourbon & Branch: A speakeasy type bar with cool cocktails.

- Amarena: Read about this place on a blog and really wanted to go here, but I just didn't have the time! It has a great happy hour, but instead of drink specials, there is a free pasta bar! Yummy food!

- Tartine Bakery: Visit the famous bakery for their treats and baked goods. Also heard their "Fromage blanc, banana, and membrillo" sandwich is amazing! 

- A16 (wine bar): My friend Melina recommended this place, as it is one of her fave places in the city!

- Red Door Cafe (per my friend Tara) : Go to this place, if only to see/meet the owner, who is said to be VERY fun and entertaining! This was Tara & her friends' favorite dining experience on their visit! Plus there are great views of the city!

- The Ferry Building Marketplace: I absolutely LOVED coming here! It's basically an upscale certified California Farmer's Market. The market is widely acclaimed for both the quality and diversity of its fresh farm products, and artisan and prepared foods. It is renowned throughout the country as one of the top farmers markets to visit. On any day, especially Saturdays, some of San Francisco’s best known chefs, and most famous farmers, can be seen at the market. Chris and I browsed and tasted our way through the entire market! Definitely stop by Blue Bottle Coffee Company for a cafe au lait... the best cup of coffee I've EVER had! No joke! 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What's Old is New.

Here is a shoe my aunt Carol gave me last year. She wore these in the 70s...

Lately I've been seeing similar styles pop up for fall. Check it out...


Nine West

Don't you love when things you own, or have lovingly been given by a family member, are in style again... only YOU have a vintage version of it? I do! Just thought that was a fun little tidbit I wanted to share with you guys. I'm in NYC now, after having spent Labor Day weekend in the Hamptons! SO FUN! Looking forward to sharing both trips with you guys! xx 

P.S. I often share pictures of my travels, meals I'm having, and products I'm loving on Twitter. It's usually things I don't post on my blog, so you get a little "Extra" if you follow me on Twitter. Follow me here. I'm @lindsaykharper. Thanks yall :)