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Tomato-Onion-Grana-Padano Pizza

One thing I was hoping we’d be able to do following our vacation was to make one last jaunt to our local beach, and thankfully this past weekend gave us two picture-perfect days to choose from. While everyone else in New England descended upon their favorite orchard in which to go apple picking (or so it seemed based on my Facebook feed), we spent a few hours on Saturday enjoying the unseasonably warm day—warm enough to even make a quick dip into the Sound. Even with these little heat snaps though I am only too aware that we are in a new season, as daylight is slowly becoming less and less prevalent in the evening and the notion of turning on our oven isn’t completely abhorrent anymore. So what better way to mark that shift than by cranking it to full blast in order to make some pizza? Read More

Autumn Gintonic “La Tasqueta”/ El gintònic tardor La Tasqueta

Like I had predicted a few weeks ago, our trip included many a good gintonic, especially when we were on the beach in Caldetes. While the lion’s share of them were traditional—served in giant balloon stemware and garnished with a hefty lemon peel—the creative  minds at La Tasqueta de Caldes had to be the ones to make the slightest tweak  to the formula to not only make it a little more unique, but also make it the perfect transitional cocktail between summer and fall. Even better is that no pumpkin-spiced-anything had to be involved in its creation.

Truth be told, this is a much better combination than that expected mix.

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Montserrat

Well, it was a whirlwind of a week, but we’re back and rested and tanned. This trip was exactly what we needed: days spent sitting on the beach and swimming in the sea, long walks around neighborhoods both familiar and new, and meals filled with delectable food and drink. We covered a lot of ground and still didn’t manage to fit in everything I wanted to see…but then that leaves plenty to explore on our next visit.

La Riera in Caldes d’Estrac

Michael likes to tease me that I’m always content to go back there versus trying somewhere else new, and it’s true that if I could go there as often as I pleased I would, but this trip convinced him of the value of revisiting a place that is already somewhat familiar. This time we were not only able to revisit favorite restaurants, but also try out a bevy of new ones and squeeze in a half-day trip to Montserrat, in addition to indulging in significantly more beach time than the last time around.

Plaça de Sant Felip Neri

Another difference from the last trip is my eagerness to write about this one. I’m still not sure what prompted the writer’s block that plagued me two years ago—I still think the cold and grey weather was the culprit in addition to the shorter days—but despite feeling a familiar twinge of melancholy, I’m also incredibly eager to capture all of our experiences to paper. I won’t subject them all to you in this space, but you’ll have to forgive a number of Catalunya-specific posts likely over the course of the next few months as daylight becomes shorter and plumb this trip and its many meals for inspiration.

¡Jamón jamón!

Maria Elena, calling it like she sees it. Goddamnit I love this movie. (click image for source)

In poking around my blog’s archives, I found a post from 2009 documenting some tapas Michael and I made with our dear friend L to go along with a viewing of Vicky Cristina Barcelona later that evening. I cringe when I look at it now: awful photos and rather inane (and inaccurate!) commentary dominate it, and I barely wrote about the movie itself. I remember having a plan to go see it in the theater and then going to Barcelona Wine Bar when it came out, but weddings (including our own) and unexpected unemployment kind of put the brakes on that plan. Eventually I got the DVD, and then downloaded the soundtrack…and somewhere between seemingly endless drives around New Haven while listening to the soundtrack and a few more rewatches  when we moved to New York, I came to the realization that I couldn’t quite quit this movie despite identifying several irritating quirks as well as having a general unease in enjoying anything Woody Allen makes. Read More

Spanish-style gintonic

Don’t let the passing of Labor Day fool you: summer is most definitely still in session through most of September and we’re about to experience the warmest temperatures we’ve had all season this week, so I have no problem promoting a refreshing, summertime beverage despite it being past the acceptable date to wear white. Besides, in just over a week we’re going to Spain, and specifically going back to Barcelona and Caldetas/Caldes d’Estrac, and while I am naturally planning many ways to eat our faces off I’m also really looking forward to indulging in a few gintonics while we’re there too. Unlike here where at most places a G&T is simply some gin, tonic water from a beverage gun and maybe a wedge or wheel of lime, but in Spain it is most definitely a cocktail

Typically served in wine goblets instead of highballs, they also tend to be made with the little single-serving bottles of tonic water rather than stuff from the aforementioned beverage gun, and good, bottled tonic water is something special. As Danny Castellano noted in the episode “The Desert” of The Mindy Project, “tonic water’s tonic water, okay? It’s refreshing, it’s crisp. It’s the tiniest bit sweet.” A good gintonic lets that part of tonic water shine, and the addition of juniper berries and wheels of lemon and lime just make the tonic all the more flavorful.

If you need further proof that the Spanish gintonic surpasses all other versions of the drink, just see the delightful standoff that took place some time ago between Mario Batali and José Andrés on Twitter:

I think José Andrés won the gintonic-off.

This is a recipe for a very simple but highly flavorful version of the G&T, and it’s worth finding a container of juniper berries in addition to a little four-pack of good tonic water (Fever Tree is delicious) to while away the remaining weeks of summer, and to embrace those rare and overly-warm autumn days. As it always does, winter is coming–let’s all take a step back to enjoy the warmth.

Gintonic, Spanish-style

makes 1 cocktail, adapted slightly from Made in Spain by José Andrés

  • 2 oz gin
  • 1 200 mL bottle Fever Tree tonic water, either Indian or Mediterranean style (Michael prefers Indian-style, while I love the  Mediterranean)
  • 1-2 leaves lemon verbena (optional but awesome)
  • 3-4 juniper berries, slightly crushed
  • 1 lemon wheel
  • 1 lime wheel

In a large goblet or wine glass, combine gin with tonic water and ice and add garnishes as desired. Serve immediately.

For added effect, aerate the tonic water by pouring down the spiraled handle of a bar spoon or from a great height.

Momofuku’s ginger scallion noodles with pickled cucumbers, cabbage, and shiitake mushrooms with fresh scallions and a slow-poached egg

Remember how I mentioned that August had been a difficult month? Apparently the month wasn’t finished with us at that point, because last week came more less-than-pleasant news, albeit news that could prove to be good in the long run. What was honestly the most difficult about all of this was having to grapple with it alone as Michael was away all week for business, and what was going to be a week filled with some interesting new salads I wanted to try ended up being one in which I didn’t want to eat much of anything. Ricotta dumplings, a two-cheese omelette, and leftover pasta from the weekend made for a somewhat pathetic sabor de soledad, but comfort food was definitely the thing I needed just to make it to Friday. (I apologize for being a bit oblique, but it’s for the best.)

By sheer coincidence we had planned to go to Momofuku Noodle Bar as part of a delayed celebration for Michael’s birthday (a departure from our usual trip to Keen’s, but one he requested) and it ended up being just what the two of us needed. We were there right as it opened, got two stools right away, and proceeded to demolish our bowls of ginger scallion  noodles (me) and Momofuku ramen (him). I can’t honestly say what took us so long to finally come to this restaurant given how much we rely on the Momofuku cookbook for interesting meals at home, but nothing proved the adage “better late than never” like our lunch on Saturday. Read More

Tomato-Peach-Basil Salad with Burrata

Despite it being his birthday month, Michael hates the month of August. He’s also not that much of a fan of his birthday, come to think of it—the last few years we’ve gone down to Keen’s in Midtown so he could avail himself of a giant steak, but even that isn’t appealing to his senses this year. I have plans to take him to Momofuku this year, as we’ve never been but we are completely obsessed with Momofuku. I want to make sure it’s fully in the spirit of Treat Yo Self Day and we spend the day frequenting as many of his favorite places as possible.

It needs to be a good one, too, as this particular August had an..interesting beginning but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the bright spots here and there. We were able to celebrate a friend’s milestone birthday down at his new home in Maryland and had a mini-reunion of sorts with so many of our friends from the New Haven years which was a real treat. I also haven’t been south of Delaware for years, so it was a lot of fun to see places like Baltimore for the first time in so long—the last reason that brought me to that particular area was when I was scoping out colleges and Loyola was on my shortlist.

Hawksmoor at Home’s simple tomato-cucumber salad

The other bright spot, as silly as it sounds, has been the fact that heirloom tomatoes have been on sale at Fairway all month. Organic heirloom tomatoes, I should add. Every week I’ve ventured over to the organic section to pick up a few for weekend salads, and every purchase has yielded delicious results. Whether it’s the tomato-cucumber salad from Hawksmoor at Home or a lunchtime arrangement with peaches, basil, and burrata, I haven’ had to fret much over eating enough lycopene. Taking a cue from Ina Garten I also made a fresh pasta sauce by marinating some chopped heirloom tomatoes in olive oil, mint, and garlic and then stirred it into fedelini with some fresh mozzarella. The leftovers I had the following week were excellent, as each day it smelled like a margherita pizza was cooking in the work microwave.

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