Archive for August, 2009

Julie & Julia

August 19, 2009

IMG_9668I had been excited to see this movie ever since I first saw the preview, a little over a month ago.  So my boyfriend and I finally got ourselves together for a date to see Julie & Julia last night, and I. was. thrilled.  I LOVE Meryl and I’m hot n cold about Amy Adams, but regardless of my personal actress preference, I was mostly looking forward to these women’s stories and to getting to know the history of how Julia Child came to be…well, Julia Child.

Smartly, I made sure I ate dinner and was quite satisfied before entering the theatre, and it was a good thing I had that foresight, because this movie is filled with a zillion close-ups of delicious and freshly prepared food, and scene after scene of people taking a bite here or a taste there, and “mmm”ing and “ooo”ing as they gobble up the perfect morsels of food in front of them.  Just visiting the website made me ravenous (for a good time, check out the recipes section).  Frankly, I think they should have special screenings of this film, where they hire a wait staff, you get a tray and utensils when you walk in, and the waiters bring you some of the signature dishes as the characters in the movie are making/eating them.  Does that exist??  Oh my god.  Heaven.

My boyfriend admitted to enjoying it (caring much more for Meryl’s story line more than Amy’s), but he wasn’t over the moon about it…like I was.  As I sorta expected, I felt very connected to this movie, on several levels:

*it’s a story based on a real-life blogger. *takes place in an outer borough of New York. *portrays women expressing themselves through food. *food. *food. *amazing food.

In this movie, it’s All About The FOOD!  Which I dig.  I also realize that it’s pretty meta and a little cheesy for me to be blogging about a film about blogging about food.  But how could I not blog about it??  It ruled!  I’m just sad I didn’t come up with the idea before that Julie girl did.

I’m now actively on the hunt for a killer boeuf bourguignon recipe.

Summer, Where Ya Goin?

August 18, 2009

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Sitting atop my friend’s Williamsburg roof the other day, I became acutely aware that we’re in the middle of August, quickly heading towards September.

Staying true to my fear of missing out, I’ve been having slight anxiety about the summer slipping away and the feeling that I didn’t take advantage of everything that a New York summer has to offer a young, energetic, movie and food-loving girl like me.  I know it’s unrealistic to expect myself to attend every drink special event at Beer Table, or get a front row seat at the Coney Island Mermaid Parade, but still!  I read my issue of Time Out New York every week.  I’m well aware of all the events potentially at my fingertips!  I’m ashamed to admit that I haven’t made it to ONE outdoor movie screening this entire season (how could I have allowed myself to miss “Harold and Maude” in Bryant Park??).

I guess I don’t really have a good excuse.  Sure, I’ve been baking my butt off, and this summer has turned out to be one of my hardest-working New York summers yet (what happened to summer vacation?).  I think I’ve just been experiencing some serious wander lust lately.  In recent summers past, I’ve had an EscapeFromNewYork to look forward to.  Whether it was a trip to a faraway land (Israel) or a trip to some other faraway land (Burning Man), knowing that I had some trip to look forward to, somehow made it easier to chill out, pat myself on the back and say, “Good job.  What a rejuvenating summer.  Way to treat yourself, Self”.

Because of an uber busy schedule and due to financial restrictions, it seems there will be no big (or little) trip for me this summer.  Although, there has been some recent buzz about a group camping trip!  Fingers crossed that it pans out.  I do feel bad complaining though, because even though my summer has been seemingly non-stop obligations, it has been for things that I enjoy – consistent Fanny & Jane orders coming in and big Harvard Sailing Team comedy video projects to shoot and shopping for furniture and paint swatches to re-decorate my living room – it’s all good stuff!  I think my nights of staying up until 2am and waking up a mere 6 hours later, are finally starting to catch up with me.  To be expected.  All I’m sayin’ is that a massage would be really nice.  In Greece.  Fine, I’ll take Jersey.  Just so long as it’s before Autumn.

The Gift of Dinner

August 17, 2009

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This past weekend was the first Saturday night I had free from a Harvard Sailing Team show or baking obligation for as long as I can remember.  It was both exhilarating and somewhat overwhelming to have a COMPLETELY FREE weekend night.  Presented with the option to do whatever I wanted on a Saturday night, I was having trouble making a plan.  Fortunately, Marina stepped in, and before  I went out of my mind with the inability to make a weekend decision, a plan was made for me.  

Marina, my dear friend, and fellow-blogger invited me and David over to her apartment on Saturday night for a home-cooked meal in honor of David’s birthday.  After playing hostess to many a dinner party and other food-driven gatherings (her Taco Party was the Williamsburg food event of the season, as far as I’m concerned), she’s developed quite the reputation for cooking up fantastic feasts.  And David’s intimate birthday dinner was no exception.  The menu was thoughtfully planned according to some of David’s quirky food pickyness (he’s not a mayo guy, for one), and was one of the most generous birthday gift ideas I’ve ever been on the receiving end of…sometimes it pays to be the birthday boy’s girlfriend.  

It was difficult to resist devouring the food the second the plates hit the table, but somehow I was able to snap a few photos before I dug in.  Here are photos from almost every aspect of the delicious meal.

IMG_0384 Refreshing homemade mint lemonade!

*no photo* – Artichoke olive crostini.  Seriously yummy.  I could have easily eaten these all night, but I was encouraged to take it easy since there was a lot of food soon coming our way; I supposed that’s one of the only circumstances under which I will lay off the hors d’oeuvres.

IMG_0386Italian stuffed squash blossoms, and sweet corn salad with roasted beets.  I don’t feel like this photos quite does this dish justice.  These squash blossoms were stuffed with ricotta cheese, and the corn salad and beets had the perfectly cool and refreshing taste for such a hot summer night.

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IMG_0405And the star of the evening, pan-roasted brick chicken.  I’ve known that the Italian tradition of cooking a chicken under a brick makes it super tasty, but I never quite understood why.  Now I know that it’s because the weight of the brick on top of the chicken literally squeezes all the flavors and juices out of it (duh)…or at least that’s what I took from the whole experience.  (And thank you, Billy, for sticking your neck out to procure the necessary brick.  You’re a boy of bravery and brawn).

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IMG_0412Here’s the complete main course, plated up with the sides of homemade frites (they’re double-fried, that’s their secret!) and heirloom tomato salad.  YUMMY.

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IMG_0417 Even though our bellies were beyond full at this point, when a dessert like this comes out of the fridge, you find a way to make room.  I call it my Dessert Pocket – that little extra pocket of tummy room that you keep on reserve for emergency cases, like this dessert.  This dessert, a recipe borrowed from one of my new favorite Williamsburg restaurants, Marlow & Sons, is a dessert I find myself craving at least once a week.  When it comes to sweets, I’m a sucker for the combination of salty and sweet, and this dessert (like Trader Joe’s killer dark chocolate covered pretzels) has mastered that combo perfectly.  It’s the chocolate caramel tart with sea salt.  Holy shnikeys.  I am weak for that thing.

An evening of incredible home-cooked food made with love, the company of friends, and a few rounds of drunken Bananagrams, and I was set.  Marina, thank you for being such a generous host.  Next time, our place!  Do you like hot dogs and scrambled eggs?

Big Gay Ice Cream Truck

August 12, 2009

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Sometimes all ya need is a little soft serve.  From a lovely gay man.  In a truck.

When I first moved to New York, summer meant two things: no school (I was an NYU student), and daily trips to an ice cream truck (I excercised little self-restraint).  But now with the wide variety of new sweets trucks popping up, and the frozen yogurt craze that has hit New York with a vengeance, I’ve been seduced by all these other options, and thus have only made two trips to an ice cream truck all summer!  Two times.  That is a shameful number.  (If we count how many times I’ve visited the Cupcake Stop truck however…that’s a shameful number for another reason).

I’ve talked about the NYC recent truck craze on my blog here, and the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck was one truck that I’d been wanting to find.  I love the name.  Love the logo.  Love ice cream.  Well, a few days ago, while killing some time in Union Square after a tiring and rather uneventful day of work at the office, I turned the corner and there it was!  It was in the stars, because I had a camera and just enough money on me for a cone with a specialty topping.  So I asked the adorably sweet man in the truck my favorite question: What’s your favorite? He said he was partial to the coconut and the salted caramel, and since I’m not much of a coconut girl, the salted caramel was a no-brainer.  In fact, it looked and tasted so good, that a complete stranger (in earnest) asked me for a lick.  Um, sorry, pal.

Verdict?  The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck had the classic satisfying taste you would want from your standard ice cream truck, with the bells and whistles (like ice cream sandwiches playfully called “cartwheels” and toppings like Trix cereal) of something a little…gay.

Homemade Plum Pie

August 11, 2009

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Without even having a “Meeting of the Sweet-Toothed Minds” with each other, it seems that Jen and I have simultaneously been bitten by the pie bug.  Even though we haven’t even had the chance to discuss it outright yet, I’d be willing to bet that there will be some Fanny & Jane pie experimenting dates veddy veddy soon (Jen, I’m on rhubarb duty if you’ve got vanilla ice cream).

Jen’s yummy blog post about this farm fresh peach pie, had me salivating all over my keyboard (nice, right?).   And just then, like an answer from the heavens, I was given a slice of pie.  Well, that wasn’t exactly how it went down, but the sheer coincidence in the proximity of days in which Jen and I both ate pieces of pie is pretty unusual, especially considering that we blog A LOT about dessert and this was a first pie post for both of us!

The pie I photographed, and was lucky enough to be on the receiving end of, is a plum pie.  Plum pie.  Now, that’s a first for me.  It was homemade by a generous and wonderfully skilled baker and my new friend, Inbal.  I met Inbal this past weekend during the last days of our Harvard Sailing Team shoot in Long Island.  Inbal stepped in to help with props and to art direct (I’m no good with official titles) our third and final comedy video that was part of a series for a big project we’ve been developing and working on for the past few months.  It was so exciting and helpful to have her on set with us all day, working tirelessly with the rest of the production team to help make our video look dang good, while the rest of us played Bananagrams between takes.

But back to the pie.  I met Inbal and the plum pie on the same night – Chris, Rebecca, and I went to Inbal and Kyle’s (the producer) apartment before the trek out to LI so we could help load up the car with all the camera and lighting equipment.  It was there and then that Inbal presented us with The Pie.  “I made it for you guys”, she sweetly said.  I think she originally intended for us to bring the pie to Long Island for everyone (the rest of the team, who was meeting us there) to share.  I don’t know if it was her own desire to just cut into the pie and dig in, or the fact that I couldn’t take my eyes off the thing from the moment we got there, but needless to say, the pie did not make it to Long Island.  I was good and only took one slice, although I easily could have indulged in four.  The plums were perfectly tart and the crust was soft and custard-y and the presentation was so beautiful and feminine, the way the round slices of plums dressed up the top of the pie.  Holy cow, you guys, it was out of control.

Thanks for the absolutely delicious introduction to plum pie, Inbal!  I might be knocking on your door for the recipe soon!

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Pizza, Broadway, Burgers, and Funny People

August 10, 2009

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The big surprise birthday plans I had for my boyfriend turned out to be a great success!  For dinner, I decided to stick with what we know instead of taking a big risk, so I went with pizza.  After Time Out NY recently declared it #1 on their list of “Top 20 Best New Pizzas in NYC“, I took him to dinner at Keste Pizza and Vino.  As far as ambience goes, our date at Motorino still clocks in at numero uno for me (you can read about that delicious dinner here), but the pizza itself was right on the money: chewy crust, sweet tomato sauce, and melty pads of fresh mozarella.  

At dinner I clued him in that the after-dinner activity was tickets to the musical “Jersey Boys” (as much a gift for him as it was for me).  He was so surprised and excited, he couldn’t stop smiling for the rest of dinner.  I get a thrill out of giving good gifts, so his animated response was especially gratifying for me.  We’d both been wanting to see this show for quite a while.  One, because I’ve heard such great things from everyone who’s seen it, and I love all those songs from the 50’s.  And two, because our friend is playing the starring role of Frankie Valli!!  After pizza and tiramisu, we shimmied over to the theatre and soaked it all up and cheered on  our uber talented buddy…from kickass seats in the 8th row (thanks, Jarrod)!  

And then, on David’s actual birthday, he had free reigns to plan the day.  Opting for simplicity (as opposed to the big group trip to Six Flags his friend and I were trying to organize for him…maybe next year), he went with burger and a movie (last minute cupcake appearance courtesy of Shawna Rosen and Sugar Sweet Sunshine bakery).  The burgers were huge and yummy, but there was something wonderfully reminiscent of childhood birthday parties in going to an afternoon movie with a big group of friends.  I almost wish he had picked a kids movie instead of Judd Apatow’s “Funny People”.  I could always go for a hamster spy flick.

Birthday Boy(friend)

August 5, 2009

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He’s looking rather devious here.  This was from last year’s birthday’s breakfast in bed (I’m big on that).  I’m big on birthdays in general.  Some people like to really play down their birthday and others like to make a big stink.  Not surprisingly, I fall into the second category – I prefer a fan fair.  Not just when it comes to celebrating my own birthday, but I also like to make a big production out of the birthdays of the people I love.  I just can’t believe that everyone wouldn’t want their birthday to be a big grand hoopla!  But I suppose that’s my own issue.

Now, not to toot my own horn, but I gotta say it will be difficult for me to top what I did for my boyfriend’s birthday last year.  It was a day full of surprises.  You’re dying to know what we did?  Okay.  I’ll tell you!  🙂

First I made him b-fast in bed (standard.  a classic).  Then we went for a couples massage (our first time!).  Then we took an elevated gondola to Roosevelt Island to have a quiet and eerie picnic (back in the day, the island used to house the city’s main prison, a smallpox hospital, a disease research laboratory, an insane asylum, a fort and a lighthouse!).  After noshing on grapes and salami and baguette, we came back to the east village for a surprise party with a ton of his friends.

This year I don’t have an entire day planned, but I do have something exciting up my sleeve.  We are going out to celebrate tonight (his actual birthday is on Friday), but since tonight’s activity is a surprise, I can’t reveal any details here yet – sorry, David!  Looking forward to our special date tonight.

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**Jen has generously given me the night off from Fanny & Jane tonight, but if you have a hankering for your Wednesday-night sweets, she will be selling our red velvet cake bites and other delectible edibles at the PIT tonight!

Looooong Island

August 4, 2009

Every now and again, I go with my sketch comedy team, Harvard Sailing Team, to Chris’ house in Rockville Center, Long Island.  The purpose of these visits is to shoot short comedy videos, but our focus gets quickly sidetracked when we arrive, because his mom puts out quite the smorgasbord.  So much so that these trips to Long Island have been unofficially referred to as Food Fests.  Or maybe it’s just me that calls them that.  But nonetheless, I know everyone else is thinking it.  Right, guys?

This past Saturday, we had a marathon shoot in Long Island – filming from the morning until late into the night.  But there was plenty of food – thanks Mr. and Mrs. Smith! – to keep us going.  Despite our fatigue (due to previous late-night baking, or drinking, or whatever, for example), we were very excited to be filming these particular videos, because they are part of a project that we have been developing for months.  Vague, I know.  But all will be revealed eventually.

As usual, we had a blast.  Even though we were there to “work”, there is nothing quite as rejuvenating as a day trip to Chris’ house in the suburbs with your buddies.  There were mid-day naps to be had, and dogs to pet, and the best craft services one could ask for (I even learned how to make Mrs. Smith’s a-maz-ing mexican dip!  How can you go wrong with salsa, cheese, and onions?)

Big bummer alert: my camera’s screen recently broke (I must’ve caught what Jen had), so I wasn’t able to take any behind the scenes photos  in Long Island, but here are some photos (B.B.C. – before broken camera) from our recent show at Caroline’s on Broadway.

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Rebe walkin around the stage

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now we're talkin

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look at that director

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our host (Jeff Kreisler) and a menu

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mocking me in the green room. naturally.

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performing the Simon & Garfunkle sketch. one of my favorites.