Archive for the ‘dinner parties’ Category

A Getaway San Francisco Weekend

April 19, 2010

Before I get on with this post, I just have to state the following fact: I AM BLOGGING THIS FROM A PLANE. That above photo is my view RIGHT NOW. What!? I know! I’m just as shocked as you are. Is this the future? Where’s my hover car? Am I on some supremely boring candid camera show? Yet another reason why Virgin Airlines is my jam: they allow me to feel the exhilaration that comes with blogging at 35,000 feet.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, I can get on with this post. Ladies and gentlemen, San Francisco!

So, the reason I’m on a plane in the first place is because I’m coming back from a weekend trip to San Francisco! That’s right. The home to Rice-a-roni, trolley cars, and the Tanner family.

Though the vacation was brief, I seemed to pack a lot into just a few days. Also, a trip like this reminds me how necessary it is to get out of New York, if even just for a little while. I feel like I say that every time I take a day or weekend trip out of NY, but you guys, it’s true! New York, I love you…as long as I can escape you every now and again. Don’t take it personally, New York. You’re still my favorite. You just better not be raining when I get back, or else we’re having words.

The fresh familiar air of California was the sweetest way for me to recharge my sun-craving batteries.

My trip to SF was grounded by one main event: my great friend, MacKenzie‘s, 100th birthday party. Well, “100” collectively: she turned 25 and her dad turned 75. So a group of us gals made the trek, 3 of us coming from Brooklyn and 1 from L.A., and we partied in her Bay area hometown. The party was a blast. It was hosted in the upstairs dining room of her family’s Hunan restaurant (I think every family should have a family-owned banquet hall, they come in handy!).

The soiree fit MacKenzie’s quirky, kitschy, foodie personality to a tee. There was plenty of pig to eat, a spirited “Oh Danny Boy” sing-a-long accompanied by her cousin on the accordion, your typical family life-sized cardboard cutouts, and custom-made pinatas of the evening’s honorees. MacKenzie going to town on her own paper-mached head with a baseball bat was incredibly bizarre. But then again, delicious butterscotch candy came out of her face, so who am I to complain!

Fortunately, our group of girl friends all had a similar agenda for the rest of the trip. Eat, shop, drink, sun, and more eat. Naturally our first stop was a little local food tour led by MacKenzie.

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get in my belly

get in my belly

And the grand finale, a bakery that I absolutely fell in love with. The sweetest little pink and yellow bakery with a variety of handmade sweets. Miette is a sweet-toothed girl’s heaven. If you don’t “aww” over the adorably decorated cupcakes, then I guarantee you’ll at least love the cheerful wallpaper.  The pastries at Miette were a little more formal than the comfort sweets that we make for Fanny & Jane, but certainly got my bakery wheels a-turnin’!

And I couldn’t leave without trying one of these little guys:

a happy camper

And on the last day of my trip, my mom flew up from Los Angeles to spend some time in San Fran with me! She splurged on a super swanky hotel for us to stay the night! The kind of hotel that has random artsy chairs in the dimly-lit lobby and an iPod dock with speakers in each room. So we (I) jumped on the beds, played some backgammon, caught up over coffee, and took nice long sunny walks. It was, simply put, THE BEST.

family time with cousin Tony!

It was certainly a trip packed to the brim. I’m hoping to get in another visit to California this summer. But instead of NorCal, I’d go down to my hometown L.A., to visit my family and friends. And favorite restaurants. Naturally. But until then, I’ll be dreaming of the amazing Cali Mexican food that NY just can’t hold a candle to.

(p.s. Would you believe me if I told you that it took me the ENTIRE plane ride to put this post together? I guess in-the-sky-wifi isn’t as speedy as it’s on-the-ground counterpart.)

Ladies Brunch

March 30, 2010

The yucky rain weather of these past few days has kept me mostly inside, and mostly delegated to my lovely, albeit overcast, pocket of Brooklyn.  Spring weather, wha happen?  I guess the sunny days and flowy dresses of last weekend were just a tiny taste of what’s to come.  Oh New York Spring, you’re such a tease.

For now, I’ll have to settle for sitting inside, listening to the rain, and dreaming of the amazing homemade brunch lovingly made by my dear friend Marina.  Always the most amazing hostess and cook, Marina invited a small group of ladies to her apartment for an incredible brunch last weekend.  It was quite the spread!  Homemade lemon and blueberry scones, citrus salad with ginger yogurt, and BREAKFAST PIZZA!  Great company and great peach bellinis.

Check out her blog for the recipes and more photos!

A Fine Night for a Picnic

March 10, 2010

*This evening was sponsored by The High Line and Trader Joe’s*

Yesterday’s high of 55 degrees and low of 42 degrees had all of New York City in a wonderful mood.  The air was crisper, people were smiley-er, coffee was sweeter, and the subways were still fairly smelly and unreliable…but not as bad as usual!  The random patches of dirt-covered snow hadn’t even fully melted from every sidewalk, but everyone was out on park benches with their ice cream cones and their lighter jackets.

My sweet boyfriend met me after work with a bag full of Trader Joe’s goodies, and we snacked and strolled along The High Line for an hour before I had to go to Harvard Sailing Team rehearsal.  One of the entrances is right near my office, and after last night, I promised myself I would take advantage of escaping to The High Line more frequently.  I hadn’t been back since I blogged about it in the summer, and it’s interesting to see how the place changes with the seasons.  It’s still just as magical, but the overgrown dried-out grass (see first photo) added an eerie feeling that reminded me of what the original abandoned railway tracks must have been like before they revamped ’em.  But there is just something so peaceful about being at eye level with many of the surrounding buildings.  When we perched on a chaise lounge, I looked up at the sky, and I swear I saw at least a star and a half.

Hamentaschen Overload

March 2, 2010

It seems that you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a Jewish holiday.  The year is filled with ’em!  Some are more popular than others.  i.e. gifts for 8 nights during Hanukkah is more favorable than an all-day fast to repent for your sins during Yom Kippur.  The holiday of Purim is definitely a high-ranking Jewish holiday for me — it involves costumes, getting drunk, special cookies, and “boo”ing the bad guy (see: Haman).  So my gang of Monday Night Supper Clubbers decided to host an intimate gathering last night in honor of Purim.  Jews and Goys came together at my apartment, and we all made traditional Purim cookies: hamentaschen!  Turned out that one particular goy gave us a run for our money and consistently made the best-looking hamentaschen all night long.  He really earned his Honorary Jew badge.  Mazel tov, Clayton!

Most hamentaschens are filled with: apricot, raspberry, cherry, chocolate, prune, or poppy-seed.  But after some failed attempts at obtaining poppy-seed filling (Prospect Heights super markets really let us down), we decided we gotta just work with what we got.  And so…the CHICKEN HAMENTASCHEN was born!!

I must admit that I had some serious initial skepticism about these savory hamentaschen.  It was truly an unprecedented ‘taschen flavor…and to be honest, they looked kinda gnarly.  But boy, did I come around!  They were amazing!  Sweet dough and savory chicken?  It’s groundbreaking.  We gotta put a patent on these little guys.  The Chickentaschen!

Over the course of the night, we realized that hamentaschen can come in many different shapes and sizes.  If you don’t pinch the corners of the cookie tight enough, they can come out kinda blobby looking.  It’s all about the pinch.

Nevertheless, the blobs were still deelish.

We noshed on our raspberry and chocolate hamentaschen, played some Taboo, and with our collective Jewish day school knowledge, we put our heads together and pieced together the story of Purim.  I actually forgot what a good story it is!  The reason hamentaschen are shaped like triangles, is to represent Haman’s (bad guy) three-cornered hat he would wear.  Pretty weird and cool, huh?

Festival of Lights

December 15, 2009

Happy hanukkah, everybody!  My roomies and I hosted a hanukkah party on Sunday that was a smash hit!  What’s great about Hanukkah, from a busy person’s perspective, is that it’s 8 nights long.  So there’s a lot of leeway in terms of potential party dates.  And the 3rd day is just as important as the other 7 days, so…come light the menorah. Let’s have a party. We’ll all dance the hora.

What started out as an innocent idea to have a few people over for latkes and wine, quickly turned into a large potluck party with multiple rounds of Drunken Dreidle (my brother came up with it: a drinking version of the classic spinning top game from every Jew’s childhood) and dozens of delicious jelly doughnuts!

A fun time was had by all — even the goys were into it.  The latkes fried and the oil flowed.  For a first time Hanukkah party-thrower, I’d say it was a success.

A Very Voorheesville Thanksgiving

December 1, 2009

The friends and good times…

And then there was food…

Well, that just about sums it up.  A 3-day vacation with some of my besties was just what the doctor ordered.  New York City is a funny place – I love it dearly, but every few months I just need to get the hell out.  And the crisp air of upstate New York, amazing comfort food, and some serious 3 on 3 basketball games were a the perfect little rejuvenators.  It was nice to have all the space in the world to run around, and also to have the option of staying in pajamas till 5pm.

With December practically here (holy cow, what!?), I’m hoping to take some more time off, and go visit my family in California during the holidays.  But procrastination really got the best of me this time, and airline tickets are already in the $600-$700 range!  Eeep.  Not an option.  I’m praying for a miracle, or some mercy from Virgin America.  Otherwise, I might have to get creative and plan a train-able/zip car-able/hitchhike-able East coast adventure for myself!  Any ideas?

And now I’m back in the city.  Back to the daily grind.  Everyone at work today was moving just a bit slower than usual.  It seems I’m not the only one who wasn’t quite ready to return from vaycay.  Or the lethargy could also be attributed to everyone’s happy little lingering buddha bellies filled with mashed potatoes and pie.

Wait a Second, I LOVE This Time of Year!

October 29, 2009

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Okay, look.  I know I said that I was bumming out about my birthday fast approaching.  But truth is, that was last week.  And today’s another day.  And today?  I love the fact that it’s Fall, and the end of October, and holycowMyBirthday’sINTWODAYS!!  PARTY!  CANDY!  CAKE!

I’m quickly overcoming my case of the “Birthday Blues” and I’m now entering Phase II: “Birthdays Rule!”  Tonight I’m looking forward to getting drinks with the girls at this new neighborhood spot in Park Slope, and the celebrations continue on Saturday night with a big ol’ spooky birthday house party!  Word on the street is that the DJ has put together some ill tunes, appropriate for dancing allll night long.

And check out the seasonal fun I was having at this pumpkin carving party last weekend!  I was seriously looking forward to this event for weeks, and it didn’t dissappoint.  I have a few scars from all the stabbing and gutting, but who said pumpkin carving was cinchy?  Thanks to Mason, Selina, and her dad, Gregory, for generously hosting this fabulous party! (Stay tuned for pics of my pumpkin!)

I Never Grow Tired of Funny Cats

October 20, 2009

Last night, Shawna and I were up until 1:30 watching youtube videos of everything from “funniest cat video” to “talking dogs” —  it was just one of those nights.  Don’t tell me you can’t relate.  And it reminded me of the above home video that I had been wanting to share with you all.

This was the spontaneous and hilarious after-dinner entertainment at Marina’s place one night.  I wish all dinner parties ended like this.  (I apologize for the somewhat shaky camera…this dancing kitty had me busting at the seams.  And I still laugh every time I watch it!)

Thank you, Marina, for the expert choreography.  And thank you, cat, for those effortlessly cool moves.

Big Girls Slumber Party

October 10, 2009

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After filling several Fanny & Jane orders during our precious “free” time of the last few weekends, it sure is a nice little respite to have these next few days all to myself this weekend!  For instance, since I didn’t have any baking commitments this morning, last night I was able to say YES to an impromptu sleepover at my friends’, Danni and Jarrod’s, loverly apartment on the Upper West Side.  (Well, as evidenced by the above photo, I didn’t exactly realize that I was sleeping over until the next morning when I just sorta woke up in that position).

The night before, my friend Natalie and I, went over to Danni’s place for a much needed ladies catch-up session, and dinner-making event.  We got carried away with the chatting and pre-dinner cheese & wine, that we didn’t actually sit down to eat our meal until 10:45.  Lesson learned: alcohol + late night dinner = immovable on the couch.

But look at our colorful spread!

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Aren’t the colors beautiful?  Our autumnal feast included: roasted six-spice butternut squash spears, garlicky kale, and beet-stained penne with a goat cheese crumble.  Maybe one of these days I’ll post recipes… 

Sorry for the crappy picture quality.  I didn’t have my broken camera with me, and my blackberry camera was my only resort!  Fortunately, in the morning I got wise to the fact that Danni had a digital camera I could borrow to photograph our delicious home-made brunch!

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our sauteed mushroom, onion, spinach, fresh tomato, basil, and shredded gouda frittata

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Danni & Jarrod in their kitchen

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Nat!

 

Close frittata!

Close frittata!

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chow time

 

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picture of a perfect saturday part I

picture of a perfect saturday part II

picture of a perfect saturday part II

cafe au lait and pumpkin cranberry muffin appetizer

cafe au lait and pumpkin cranberry muffin appetizer

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All of a sudden it’s 3:45 and I’ve only left their house once…and it was for a quick morning coffee run.  This has been quite the perfect Saturday.  And now, since I’m on the Upper West Side so infrequently, I’m going to stop by my favorite cookie bakery in the city to stock up on some serious chocolate chip goodies.  And then, I’ll be at the PIT tonight with Harvard Sailing Team for our weekly sketch comedy show.  We have a brand new show, so stop by if you’re around!

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?