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Duck Tacos with Cheddar and Mojo Verde

New York is a city of lists: reservation lists, guest lists, top (number) under (age) lists, best of lists; you name it, there’s probably at least two lists out there related to it in some way. They call out the the extraordinary, laudable, special things in life, they reward the loyal, they create instant exclusivity.

We’re usually not too hung up on lists (save for getting reservations on a weekend night at Dinosaur Barbecue, because that is a process) but there is one that we’re particularly pleased to be on, because apparently it is not the easiest to get one’s address on:  the Fairway coupon mailing list. Read More

Boston Mackerel, ready to go into the pouch

Usually, once the weather turns balmy my appetite tends to wane a bit and there are days where I don’t crave for much more than a cup of Rita’s Italian Water Ice (mango, wild black cherry or passionfruit, please) and my mind turns to grazing on random, small foodstuffs. The exception to this is whenever I am able to spend time in a body of water, be that a pool–or on very lucky days, the ocean–as when I emerge after a few hours of frolicking, I tend to become positively ravenous.

Memorial Day weekend did not present any swimming opportunities (that came a week later when we visited my parents to celebrate my mom’s birthday), but we ended up doing the walking equivalent on our Met excursion on Sunday, turning me into what Charles Schultz famously called Lucy van Pelt: a fussbudget. Read More

Grilled Shrimp over Citrus Salad

Whenever Elizabeth brings a salad to my attention, I get excited.  As I have written about in the past, when she and I started out cooking together, I had a heck of a time getting plant matter onto the plate.  Since then, we have found a tenuous path of wholesome, delicious veggies between big ‘ol mounds of green beans and broccoli (two she hates, sadly).  While leafing through the Barcelona cookbook one weekend morning, she came across this offering and, without much of a fight, convinced me to make a play at it for a weeknight meal. Read More

Braised Beluga Lentils with Mixed Vegetables and Greek Yogurt

While I’m one to relish the many ways to walk around New York and observe others who are traversing on foot, there are few days when that’s more undesirable than on a rainy day…and you’ve forgotten your umbrella.  I waited yesterday for the M60 with an air of patience I normally do not posses, mostly because I knew that acquiescing to any bus line other than my preferred one would have condemned me to a long walk uphill in the rain.   It was really only an encounter with a man who was content to carry on a prolonged conversation with himself that led me to raise my arm for a cab, especially as it was clear that a M60 was by no means coming anytime soon. Read More

Hibiscus Margaritas

My company follows the holiday schedule of the NYSE, which meant that I had Good Friday off for the first time since college.  Normally, a day off like this would mean that we’d be spending it in transit to visit our parents, but because Easter falls on a Sunday and therefore requires our presence at one of their houses that day for both church services and the traditional meal, our plans ranged from Saturday until Monday… Read More

It’s funny–neither of us are really serious Movie or Film people likely because we’re obsessed with too many television shows like Mad Men and 30 Rock. That said, I do enjoy a good-in-that-it’s-mockably-bad romantic comedy or watching a favorite Judd Apatow flick to make me smile, and I would be lying if I said that neither Michael nor I aren’t excited to see Iron Man 2, those count as escapist fun instead of serious artistic fare.  In the past year or so, however, the desire to immerse myself in foreign films has been strong:  ever since I brought La Dolce Vita with us to Italy (we watched it in our cozy suite over two nights and I swear it made our Italian slightly better), I’ve been slowly building a mini-library of Italian and Spanish cinematic treats. The latest addition to our collection was our long-overdue introduction to Pedro Almodóvar via his masterpiece Volver:

I’m not going to insult your intelligence by saying that it’s good; instead, I’m going to insist that you place it immediately on your Netflix queue and experience it for yourself.  It’s a truly delightful film–funny yes, but with so much heart that it seems almost impossible not to enjoy yourself while watching it.  Penelope Cruz is positively mesmerizing in it, which makes you realize that with the exception of Vicky Cristina Barcelona, she’s been criminally underused in American film.

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Focaccia with Oven-Roasted Campari Tomatoes

When our dear friend L told us she wanted to spend a weekend in the city to visit her sister as well as check in on us, the first thought we had was, of course, what food to prepare in anticipation of her arrival.  She mentioned something about potentially going out on Saturday night, and therefore wanted to eat many small plates.  Michael’s only request was for eggs and sausage to be somehow worked into the meal, so it should be hardly surprising that tapas became the theme of what would be a singular afternoon in our little Manhattan apartment. Read More

Norwegian Mackerel with Lemon & Shallots

It was an early holiday miracle:  Amtrak delivered us home in one piece, ultimately only arriving a few minutes later than scheduled.  For the Sunday after Thanksgiving, it was something to be very thankful for indeed, because we were able to enjoy a quiet Sunday afternoon strolling in Morningside Heights, purchasing a few things for dinner and lunches that week at Westside and deciding on what lighter meal to have after a string of rich dinners and lunches over the prior four days.

Fish was naturally an obvious choice; I was personally in the mood for some whole sardines, but we were going to limit ourselves to the selection available at the fish market at 108th and Amsterdam.  They were no sardines in stock that day, unfortunately, but our helpful fishmonger suggested some wild-caught Norwegian mackerel as an apt substitute as it was an oily fish with a taste similar to that of a sardine.  Our interests piqued by both the suggestion as well as the appearance of the fish, we ordered one up to be dressed and scaled (though the latter wasn’t necessary, as there were no scales on the fish’s skin to begin with).

Chickpea and Orzo Salad

We stuffed the fish with some lemon and baked it with some white wine, shallots and thyme, and the final results were nothing short of very satisfying.  I’m usually not a fan of eating fish skin unless it’s nearly burnt to a crisp, but here it simply melted in my mouth and was barely distinguishable from the delicious meat.  We ended up placing the plate between us and picking the meat off the bones as well as indulging in an arugula salad and this chickpea-orzo salad that comes from Giada’s Family Dinners, albeit with a white balsamic dressing instead of the red wine vinaigrette.  While this was not quite the austere fish, brown rice and greens dinner that would have been the ideal cleansing meal, this was a nice transition to simpler fare–and I was able to get a big container of this pasta salad to bring with me to lunch.

I’m also pretty sure that Michael is going to run down to the fish market sometime this week to pick up another one of these beauties to have for dinner this week.

Goat Cheese with Salsa Verde

Goat Cheese with Salsa Verde

Generally, I’m a pretty cheerful person.  Despite my propensity to wear black, I try not to let things get me down too much, and to paraphrase Jane Austen, I dearly love to laugh.  There are a few things, though, that will bring out the raging bitch in me, one being incompetent customer service.  Another is being indefinitely delayed on a train.  When both happen on my birthday this year, well, I became a little irritated.

We had gone down to visit our in-laws on Saturday for said birthday on Amtrak, and for the most part it was an uneventful ride, just a little slow once we left Philly for the ‘burbs.  The day itself was nice, too–we had a great lunch at Victory, I received a tidy assortment of presents, and we both got to spend some quality time with our baby nephew (who, by the by, is definitely a member of the family as he couldn’t stop babbling during our normal dinnertime discussion of politics.  I’m guessing he’s not to pleased with the direction the government is going, or maybe he was commenting on his pumpkin outfit).  The plan for Sunday was to catch a 1:01 train and be back in the city by 3:30, stop by the lab so Michael could do some work, and then make some dinner and relax a little that evening.  Instead, we ended up standing on the concrete slab that is the “station” we were stranded at for nearly two hours, frantically calling Amtrak’s 800 number to figure out what was going on and getting no answers.  We ended up having to split up–Michael went to the lab, and I went to Westside to get ingredients for groceries.

I didn’t walk into the apartment (with groceries for dinner) until 5 o’clock.

Jamon Serrano with Manchego Cheese

Jamón Serrano with Manchego Cheese

Fortunately, the dinner did much to soothe my nerves–there’s something about digging into chorizo and goat cheese with lots of crusty bread that can be so comforting after a difficult day.  A bad day is also an excellent excuse to indulge in some jamón serrano and manchego cheese as well.  It was our first meal using the Barcelona cookbook which gave the meal a bit of symmetry considering that we went to the restaurant itself to celebrate Michael’s birthday a few months prior.  Despite having spent the day either pacing or sitting on a train, these recipes were surprisingly simple to make:  the salsa verde was refreshing and creamy (though the next time substituting poblanos for the green pepper might be fun to try out), and the chorizo and figs were earthy and very much seasonally appropriate.

Chorizo with Mission Figs

Chorizo with Mission Figs

The ultimate comfort was, however, the day off that I enjoyed the next day.  This, however, came in at a close second (along with the latest episode of Mad Men).

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