Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Quick post- egg drop soup yummm

 I've learned something interesting this week- attempting to completely write up a final thesis draft in a week and a half reallllllllly cuts down on my ability to blog.


It has also cut down on my will to cook, eat, and basically live.
But I will endeavor to persevere.

On top of it all, I have been sick the past 3 days. Awesome. So to cure myself (and retain my low-carb status), I undertook the mission of making myself some virtually carb-free but still uber-comforting homemade (mostly) egg drop soup. It took about 5 minutes.
Here's what I did:

Super Yummy Low-Carb Egg Drop Soup.

- 2 1/2 cups water
-2 tsp concentrated stock (I used chicken, you can go crazy and use veggie or beef...whatever)
***Before I move on, lets have a quick talk about bullion/stock. If you must use the little cubes, fine. I'm certainly not at home tossing chicken bones into a pot to make homemade stock. BUT if you can, I would recommend using concentrated products like Better than Bullion. They're still not perfect and not as good as the real stuff, but there is less sodium and they just taste better. Now back to our regularly scheduled program:

- about 1 1/2 tbsp chopped green onion
- 1 large crimini mushroom, sliced super thin (like they do the garlic on Goodfellas)
- a few drops of soy sauce (approx 1 tsp or more to taste)
-a few drops of sesame oil- just a few drops, otherwise the soup will have that oily feel to it
-somewhere between 1 and 3 eggs depending on your preference, beaten
**This is enough for 2 people- or 1 really hungry person

Boil the water in a pot, add the stock. Let it cook for a minute and then add the sesame oil and soy sauce. I don't like mine very salty so I only added a little soy. If you like more, put in more. It's your soup, do what you want.
Let it cook for another minute, then toss in the green onion and mushroom. Since the mushroom is so thin, it only takes a second to heat through. When the soup is back to a low boil, start pouring in the egg. The more you stir, the more the egg breaks up. If you like small bits, stir a lot. I like it with big bits, so I only stirred it a little. Once the egg has pretty much solidified, you're good to go.

I enjoyed it and I'm pretty sure it had healing properties (These claims have not been supported by the FDA).

Ok, hope you try this, I am off to try to make magic with swordfish and whatever we happen to have in the fridge- wish me luck!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cheesy Southwestern Pork Chops

I don't particularly like going low-carb. My favorite food product EVER is the potato. I don't care what you do with it- fry, mash, bake, scallop- whatever. I will eat that potato.
Sadly, this post is not about potatoes.
However, when it is time to cut out the carbs for a bit, this is one of my favorite go-to recipes. It's gooey and slightly spicy, as well as being quite satisfying. I find that low-carb food leaves me wanting something more a lot of the times (probably a potato), but this recipe feels like comfort food. I have had the recipe for years, but to give credit where credit is due, I'm pretty sure I got the original from the old Atkins website some time ago...

Cheesy Southwestern Pork Chops
2 pork chops (thicker chops work better here. If you use thin chops,you may want to reduce the cheese topping). I used bone-in chops.
A little bit of EVOO (about 1-2 tsp)
1/4 cup tomato salsa
a small can of diced green chilies (4 ozs.)
1 teaspoon cumin
1/3 cup grated Cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons cream cheese

You want to  start with a nice hot pan. For this, I usually recommend not using a non-stick pan. It is usually not good to get those pans hot without anything in them, it can mess up the lining- That is, unless you have one of these new types of non-stick pans that also sear. My new non-stick is some sort of ceramic lined deal that gets nice and hot AND provides a great sear without getting the meat stuck.

Give the pan a go-round with the EVOO- not too much or you will just end up boiling your meat in oil instead of searing it. Get the pan nice and hot over medium-medium high heat. Set the chops in and don't touch them! My biggest problem when I started cooking was that I could not let food just sit and cook... 
I had to touch it and move it and stir it. But that is bad and I smacked myself on the hand and said, "NO!"
 If you are using a non non-stick pan, this is especially true. Wiggle the meat a little with a pair of tongs- when it comes willingly, it is ready to be turned. Otherwise- let it cook for about 5 mins (depending on the thickness of your chops- it took me about 5 mins and these were pretty thick, about 1").

It should have a nice brown crust on the bottom when you flip it. Let it cook for about another 3-4 mins. It should feel firm to the touch when you poke it in the thickest part. There is still another 5 minutes of cooking left so if it is mostly done, that is fine.

While the second side is cooking, mix the salsa, chiles, and cumin. The ratio given here is variable- I actually tend to add more salsa, probably closer to 1/2 cup. The cumin may seem like a lot when you put it in, but it is the key to  the sauce.

When the chops are mostly done, top them with the salsa mix. Cover them and let them cook for about 5 mins, until the salsa is warm and the chops are cooked through. During this 5 mins, mix the cream cheese and cheddar. I usually put the cream cheese into a bowl and nuke it for about 20 sec to get it soft enough to mix. You should end up with an odd looking concoction like this:

Divide the mixture between your chops and spread it over the top. Don't worry if it is too hard, as it melts it will spread. Cover it for about 1 min or until the topping becomes all gooey. Plate it up, serve it with a salad with a nice tangy vinaigrette and you are good to go!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Anthony Bourdain- Hero? Wordsmith? Luckiest SOB on Earth??

Original Printing

On my recent trip to NYC,  I took along a copy of Tony Bourdain's book, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. I had seen Tony- Yes, Tony- we're buds. Parasocial relationship. Its a real thing. Look it up.
Newly released version

... I had seen Tony in several episodes of No Reservations on the Travel Channel. I was always impressed with the narration- he was descriptive in a way that bordered on poetic. So of course I was expecting similar wordplay in his non-fiction work.

I was not disappointed. I feel I must warn you, this is not a book for the faint of heart. The language is the least of your worries. The author describes a debauched, drug-filled, madcap lifestyle- that is apparently very commonplace among kitchen workers nationwide. Strike that, world-wide. Heroin, LSD, 'shrooms, and lots and lots of coke. Consider this passage:

"We were high all the time, sneaking off to the walk-in refrigerator at every opportunity to     'conceptualize.' Hardly a decision was made without drugs. Cannabis, methaqualone, cocaine, LSD, psilocybin mushrooms soaked in honey and used to sweeten tea, secobarbital, tuinal, amphetamine, codeine, heroin, which we'd send a Spanish-speaking busboy over to Alphabet City to get."

This man had some serious problems. As you read, it's sometimes hard to understand how he possibly a)survived and b)picked himself up off the floor after doing these massive amounts of drugs and drinking these copious amounts of liquor.

And he's not alone. My buddy Tony talks about dozens of fellow warriors, working long shifts in steaming kitchens, burned and bleeding.... and high and drunk. Constantly.   

The book is a stream of consciousness. When he wants to tell a story, he tells it. It's difficult to decipher any kind of time line. One chapter, he is working at the Supper Club and telling stories about the staff and owners. The next chapter, he has gone back to another time and place, before the Supper Club- with no discernable segue or logic. Although considering his state a majority of the time, that may be how he sees it.

Throughout the book, what does have is a multitude of ups and downs- opportunities and disappointments. The whole time, he's tellin' it like it is. Cooking is hard. The life is hard. If you didn't know it before, you will when you are done with this book. 

But when it comes to being a chef, Tony readily admits he just wasn't that great. He was good, but not as good as his contemporaries. So what makes this man so popular? He writes that, after the book came out, Eric Ripert was calling and he was invited to ski with And Soltner. I don't think he even understands why. He talks dirty about the business and almost everyone in it. And they love him for it.

I personally couldn't care less about the politics- I couldn't put the book down. I was amazed and shocked by pretty much everything he had to say- and he was just telling stories. Stories about the life he lived. 
So of course it follows that I needed more.

I bought Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook a few days ago and where before, I would have called Anthony a brilliant wordsmith, now I call him the luckiest SOB on Earth. Here's a guy who has probably ingested every drug known to man, pissed off a ton of people in the restaurant business, and written what was supposed to be a shocking expos é about the culinary world... and now probably has the best job on TV. With the exception of that other wench on the Travel Channel who goes everywhere fabulous and gets spa treatments and other such nonsense. Wench.

Let me tell you about Medium Raw thus far:

Chapter 1- a super secret meal with 12 of the top names in American cuisine consisting of (mostly illegal) delicacies that are apparently sublime. Why is he there? Who knows.

Chapter 8, simply titled "Lust"- Mr. Bourdain talks about how wrong it is to write about "orgiastic" food experiences that are meant to only invoke envy in others... then spends the entire chapter recounting experience after lust-inducing experience. By the end, I was jealous. And angry. And not just a little jealous- I was covetous, resentful, and whatever else really, really jealous people are.

I haven't finished the book yet. But I'm sure by the end I will love, loathe, respect, abhor, and admire this man. Oh, Tony- you are a cruel, cruel mistress. 



Friday, March 18, 2011

Wait... low-carb can be... Tasty?!?

We did it. As of Wednesday a.m., we have cut out the bad white stuff (flour, potatoes, sugar- all the goodies). I am determined that we will not spend our meals eating the usual grilled protein and salads. 
As luck would have it, a couple of weeks ago, we managed to get a bag full of really great fresh fish from our buddy Lenny at Northshore seafood . If you are in the greater Lafayette area, he is the man to go to- he gets the fish flash frozen on ships in Alaska and shipped pretty much overnight. Great selection and reasonable prices. 

So I'm staring into the freezer, in search of inspiration, and I spot the salmon fillets. My initial thought- toss a spice rub on it and grill it. But NO- I will not get bored with this diet before it even begins. I take the salmon upstairs and explore the pantry. I have some diced tomatoes with basil and garlic... hmmm. 

Now as a quick side note, if you are one of the few people that have not heard- canned tomatoes are no longer a stigmatized product. Granted, you want a good quality canned tomato with minimum added sodium. But overall, they are usually canned when ripe, and taste more...tomatoe-y than any you might be getting at the market (depending on where you live). 
When it comes to my flavor profiles, I typically prefer Italian cooking. Southern Italian cooking typically includes tomatoes, peppers, olives and olive oil, garlic, artichokes, oranges, ricotta cheese, eggplants, zucchini, certain types of fish, and capers. A quick tomato sauce made with diced or stewed canned tomatoes, garlic, wine, and fresh herbs is always a go-to recipe to go with many different kinds of meat or just tossed over pasta.

For this particular recipe, I chose to use a fair amount of Southern Italian ingredients, along with onions and white wine, to poach the salmon:  
The Salmon
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 small-medium onion (mine was approx 3" in diameter), sliced into thin rings
2 cloves garlic, diced finely
Approx 2 tbsp capers
1 can diced tomatoes (whatever variety you have on hand)
zest of about half of a lemon
1 Tablespoon of lemon juice
Thyme (fresh if you have it- otherwise dried would be fine)
White wine- approx 1/3-1/2 cup
1/4 cup hot water
2 salmon fillets (approx 4 oz each)
S&P to taste

Give the pan a good go 'round of olive oil- maybe 1-2 tbsp. It should be just enough to coat the pan. Slice the onions- a mandolin is ideal for this task. Toss them in the pan at medium- medium high heat and cook for about 5 mins to get them softened. Add the garlic and let them hang out for a couple of minutes at the same temp.Drain the capers and add them to the pan (you can add more or less depending on how much you like capers. I reallllly like capers.) Let them kind of fry a bit with the onions and garlic.
Add the tomatoes, thyme, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Let everything cook together for about 10 mins at medium heat. You want the flavors to blend, but not for the sauce to completely reduce- if it gets to dry, add a little bit of water.

After about 10 mins, add the wine- I took about 2 good circles of the pan with the bottle. I think it was somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 cup- and the water. Stir and then place the filets in the pan- skin side down if the skin is still on. Cover and cook for 5-10 minutes. This depends on the thickness and size of your filets. You will want the fish to be slightly firm to the touch and to flake away with a fork.  
When I used to cook salmon, I thought the white stuff on top looked gross and I also thought maybe I had done something wrong to make it look like that. I have since been educated by my local fishmonger that this white stuff has to do with the super healthy Omega 3 fats coming out of the fish as it cooks. So there ya go. Knowledge.
The finished product

Egg Slut salad with bacon
I recently saw an episode of Top Chef All Stars with Wylie Dufresne where he was called an "egg slut". I did not know this was a real term, but I am glad to know that my condition has an actual name. You can take a fried or poached egg and put it on top if just about anything and I will love it. I only recently started putting poached eggs on top of salads and I am already a huuuuge fan.

For this recipe, I tossed together some butter lettuce, tomatoes, and...bacon. Don't judge, it's low-carb...I used 2 1/2 slices chopped up. I'm pretty sure I made 3, but Matt claims no knowledge of the missing bacon half. 
The dressing was super simple- I set aside a pinch of the garlic I chopped before tossing it into the salmon recipe. I added 1 tbsp red wine vinegar and 1 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard. I then whisked in just under 1/3 cup of EVOO, tossed in some S&P and voila. It's a good, thick dressing that will stick to your ingredients nicely.
Now, let's talk about poaching eggs. I am still a newbie, but I have gathered a few tips that have helped me out in this area and I would like to share:

1. Make sure your water is lightly bubbling, not boiling. A full boil will tear your egg to shreds.Egg drop soup, anyone?
2. When the water is ready, add just a little white vinegar- I have also used white wine vinegar. This helps bind the egg together.
3. Right before you put  the egg in, use a spoon to make a small whirlpool in the middle of the water. This will make the egg white wrap nicely around the yolk when you put it in.
4. Put your egg into a small bowl and slide it in, rather than just dropping straight from the shell.
5. I have found somewhere between 2-3 minutes to be the perfect time- it depends on how well the egg holds together and your starting water temp.

There can be an odd problem where, instead of going in as a whole, the white goes in and the yolk follows (or vice versa). Here is the outcome: I call it "decomposed salad with bacon and egg". It's very "in" right now.
When all was said and done, I still had a decent amount of sauce left. I flashed back to recipes for baked eggs with tomatoes that I had always glossed over because they seemed like entirely too much trouble for a weekday morning meal... but now I pretty much had the prep done, so I figured what the hell.


Leftover tomato sauce
3 eggs
shredded cheese of your choice
Ramekins or some kind of individual baking dish

I didn't even think of it until just now as I am writing this up, but I did not spray or butter the ramekins. You may want to toss a quick shot of Pam in them before beginning- I did not have much of a problem, but it would probably make for easier clean up. 

Set the oven to 450 deg F. Put a small amount of the tomato mixture on the bottom of each ramekin.
Place an egg on top of the tomato- I somehow managed to buy Jumbo eggs, so they took up a fair amount of room. Add more of the tomato mixture around the sides of the egg (mostly covering the whites). Pop them on a baking sheet and into the oven for approx 5-7 mins. You want the whites to be mostly firm, but the yolks still runny. When they look almost done, take them out and put cheese on top. I used a combination of leftover gruyere and fontina from a mac and cheese recipe- just under a tablespoon per. Put them back in the oven under the broiler for just a minute- until the cheese is melty and bubbly. Pull them out and let them sit for a minute so you don't ed up burning your mount on the cheesy goodness.

It ends up being the tomato sauce with cheese- which is always good- in some parts, but then you get to the gooey center and the yolk makes it super creamy and rich. If you have the tomato sauce up and ready to go, the whole process takes about 10 minutes and is a really satisfying and yummy start to the day. I would definitely recommend giving it a try.

So here is hoping we can stick to this low-carb regimen- at least until April 9th. 
April 9th, in case you are unaware, is our pre-decided cheat day. April 9th is...Baconfest! I know- be jealous. And for anyone who is thinking of joining- or even thinks I am ridiculous for wanting to go to a festival of bacon..... they are SOLD OUT! They sold out the day the tickets went on sale. Chi-town knows that when the Baconfest comes to town, you'd best jump on it and get those tickets- because they won't last 24 hours. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mario and Giada made me do it....

So what had happened was....

You may recall that we spent a fair amount of time at Eataly last Thursday. We wandered in, picked out a few $9 chocolate bars... and then saw a sign that said with a $25 chocolate purchase, we got a free panettone. For anyone not familiar, panettone is the one fruit bread that is o.k. to eat. Its usually slightly sweet, very buttery, and slightly tangy.
Matt and I had actually decided that, post-NYC, we were going to "go healthy". We had been having a great time the past few months- by which I mean we were decidedly unhealthy.We decided we would cut back on the carbs (white bread, sugar, pasta, white flour, etc).

But then we got home, unpacked, and realized we had this free loaf of bread- a hefty loaf at that. We had received this free gift as a result of purchases- we felt we had earned it. So if we didn't eat at least some of it, it would have been a waste of a free gift. We are not wasteful people.
I may have also recalled seeing a recipe using panettone on a holiday episode of Everyday Italian with Giada DeLaurentis (food network, love her- also hate her because of how frequently she gets to go to Italy. And probably gets paid for it. Wench).
Again, I digress.
The recipe was for Panettone French Toast. You can link to it here The reviews were fantastic, so we decided we would have to try this french toast so that this lovely bread would  not go to waste ;)

I figured we would not want leftovers (more excuses to delay the inevitable), so I used a little less than half of the loaf (the rest is headed to the freezer). I sliced it horizontally into about 3/4" slices. You can go thicker, but you will probably need to adjust the cooking time and temp to make sure the custard gets cooked through.
I cut off the crust as much as possible and did not use the very top slice (pretty much all crust)- we basically just nibbled on that chunk while I was cooking.

These are the ingredients for the cinnamon syrup:
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Some of you may be thinking: "But I like maple syrup. Why would I need to make syrup?"
Because this is better. The spice of the cinnamon keeps the whole thing from getting overly sweet. If you like super-sweet, feel free to use maple. But this is better.

So you put the water and sugar in a pan and boil it until it reduces to 1 cup. I just stuck it in there when I started cooking and let it boil until I was just about done. Also, for our portion here, we used about 4 tablespoons of the syrup. I did not save it (as we are now off sugar), so it ended up going to waste. If you are not going to save it, you may want to halve the recipe.

Then I mixed together the custard. For this, I did halve the recipe and it was the perfect amount of batter. I used:
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 ozs whipping cream
  • 3 ozs skim milk (instead of whole)
  • 1/8 cup sugar
Sadly, we did not have any real butter on hand (pretty sure it was on account of the Thin Mint cupcakes with buttercream frosting I made for a party last week... but that is another post). So I melted a little Country Crock we had on hand.
Sooooo not the same thing. Instead of melting and getting a little bubbly and, well... liquidy... this stuff melted and then just sat there in small pools. My toast browned, but did not have the same crispiness I would have gotten from actual butter. In retrospect, a dry pan (nonstick that still sears) would have probably been best in this situation.

It took about 4 minutes per side for them to brown and be slightly firm to the touch. Two slices were somewhat thicker and for those, I started them in the pan at a lower heat to allow them to cook through. Then I switched it to a higher heat to get them brown on the outside. It took two batches and I kept the cooked pieces in the oven at 200 deg. F while I finished off the second batch on the stove.
**Note- be careful when handling the bread between batter and pan- it gets very delicate.
When the toast was just about done,  I took the syrup off the heat and mixed in the cream and cinnamon- it was the perfect consistency.

Here is the finished product:

The recipe also called for a dollop of mascarpone on top, which oddly, we did not have on hand. I thought it was fine without it, but I'm pretty sure it wouldn't hurt either...

Overall, a tasty breakfast-for-dinner recipe. The batter is more of a custard, and depending on how much you cook it, should turn the inside of the bread all soft, fluffy, and eggy while the outside gets brown and crisp.
Panettone is typically sold and served only around Christmas or New Year (probably why we got ours for free...), and Giada apparently made it as a Christmas morning treat. I think it is delicious any time of the year- although sadly it is nowhere near the healthy list :(

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

New York Study 2... the awesomeness continues

The purpose of this and the next post will be to review/inform you about a couple of foodgasmic places that I really think people should be aware of- should they ever venture to the eclectic, energetic, dynamic land of NYC.
I begin with Má Pêche
Má Pêche is one of David Chang's many NY restaurants. He is probably most famous for Momofuku, which I am told means "Little Peach" in some mixture of Vietnamese and French. Chang also owns Ssäm Bar, Ko, and Milk bar (which is attached to Má Pêche).  I have been wanting to try one of his restaurants for a while now, but I had a hard time choosing. We settled on this one after reading a ridiculous number of reviews (private and professional), and maybe particularly in spite of this one, which apparently set off a highly publicized twitter war

So we get there at 5:30 (pre-theater dinner) and the place is mostly deserted. We apparently had fantastic timing, because 30 minutes later, it was a madhouse. Upon perusing the menu, we decided to go with a handful of their small plates because they all looked great and we wanted to try... well, everything.

Our first plate was shrimp summer rolls. I am not sure what they did to this shrimp, but it was basically formed into a small rectangle, cooked, and served warm wrapped in with cool, crisp veggies and a crunchy wonton stick. The amazing thing was that this warm rectangle of shrimpy goodness ran all the way through the roll. I don't know if this is a problem you have, but often with rolls like this, one bite has shrimp, another is all veggie, another is all crunchy wonton... No,no- not so at Má Pêche.

 (PS- sorry the pics aren't great- no flash on my dinosaur of an iPhone 3GS...)

So then we move on to the beef tartare with soy, scallion, and refreshing mint. I can not even begin to explain how supremely edible this plate of food was. They served it with these crunchy puffed rice crackers that gave you a vehicle to get the rich, tangy, meaty goodness to your mouth, but without overpowering the meat. It was served with pickled bean sprouts that had just the right amount of acidity to cut the fattiness of the beef. I feel that I should assure you that the meat was a healthy bright red color, not the dark brown/greyish tint it appears to be in the photo...

 The braised bass collar was next and was also fantastic- the collar and the cheeks of pretty much any fish are my new favorites. They tend to be moist and fatty and full of so much more flavor than you might typically find in a random fillet. Sadly, this course was soooooo overpowered by the next two that there is really not much more to say about it.

NEXT CAME: (dun dun dunnnnnn) Truffles and foie gras. NOT on the same plate. BOTH STARS, I TELL YOU- STARS!!!!!
Ok, I will stop yelling now. I have composed myself. 
First up- the ricotta gnocchi with chicken jus and truffles. I have had gnocchi before. Or at least, I thought I had. These sweet little bundles of heavenly goodness were ethereal. One bite and Matt and I just stopped and looked at each other, in a silent understanding that there would be no talking for the next few minutes. 
Just silence. And slow, slooooooow chewing.

At the same time, we were served this masterpiece:

This was the seared foie gras with chestnut puree, huckleberries, and who knows what else... something that tasted like salty meat breadcrumbs. I made a perfect bite with a little bit of everything, said "mmmm" and then lapsed back into appreciative silence. 

It was a toss up as to which of these would be my last bite of the evening. In the end, it was the salty, meaty foie that had the last word. We skipped dessert, as we had one more post-Phantom stop to make and planned to have a sweet there. 

Overall, I was more pleased with Má Pêche than I thought I would be. I was hoping for an interesting experience and at least 70% good food. In the end, the food was all fantastic and we had a great time.

Monday, March 14, 2011

New York is awesome at p < .001 (Study 1)

So we just got back from a beyond fabulous extended weekend in NYC. The ostensible purpose of this trip was to attend the wedding of two of Matt's long-time I/O buddies. It turned into Matt & Erica's fantabulous New York-a-Palooza (with a wedding in the middle). And man, we did it up right: shows, restaurants, drinks, street vendors.... We did not waste a single New York minute.

New York. Wrote a blog about it. Wanna read it? Here it goes: (anyone get that reference? Anyone at all?)

Thursday: Plane lands approximately 11 am. By 12:30, we are checked into our Times Square hotel (see view at right) and on our way to Eataly. As I am posting this, I looked at the page to verify the URL and see that they have 50 products at 50% off- beginning last Friday.
Did I mention we were there Thursday? That hurts.
So let me tell you about Eataly. I am assuming that all ten of you reading this blog enjoy Italian food. I mean really, who doesn't enjoy Italian food? Heathens, that's who! Pure heathens who are the haters of all that is good and yummy.

I'm sorry- heathens get my blood all in a lather.  But I digress...

Eataly is a food sanctuary, a small land of culinary enjoyment bordering on sinful. There are counters of cured and fresh meats, seafood, and cheeses. The mozzarella is pulled fresh. Some is destined for even greater things- it is soaked, pulled thin, and then wrapped around a creamy mixture called panna (leftover mozzarella bits mixed with cream), then wrapped into yummy little bundles of goodness called burrata (aka my new favorite).

There were aisles and aisles of pasta, fresh sauces, and gorgeous fresh produce that I can only dream of from my location in central Indiana.

And then, there was the food.

We began  with what had to be the most magical focaccia in all of FocacciaLand. It was a simple slice topped with roma tomatoes, fresh  mozzarella di bufala, basil,and a splash of olive oil.
In the days that followed, it took all of our strength and reason to not get in a cab and revisit this place every day, just to get one more slice.

Why didn't we get one more slice?!?! Sigh...

Now, by a show of hands, how many of you are familiar with the savory, fatty, crispy, delicious goodness of a little something called "porchetta"? 
If your answer is "No, Erica- I'm sorry, I am not familiar with this delicious treat", then you should Google it.
Educate yourself.
If you don't have time to google, or are just too excited to read the rest of this post first, here are the cliff's notes:

Porchetta: /por'ket:a/, noun: Pork (skin on), wrapped around more pork, seasoned, roasted until juicy and crispy on the outside, sliced, and shoved into a chewy italian roll. Chew, moan, swallow, repeat.

Having finished our bread and main course, we searched for a suitable side dish.
It turns out Mario Batali is famous around these parts for his arancini- basically risotto combined with melty cheese, wrapped around a chunk of meaty ragu, rolled in crispy breadcrumbs, and deep fried.

There is not a single word in that sentence that should not make you happy down to your toes. If it did not make you drool, consider yourself one of the aforementioned heathens. You may want to do some serious soul-searching.

Meanwhile, back at the Batcave...err, Eataly, we managed to get the very last arancini left in the entire establishment. It took 30 minutes to prepare, but the creamy risotto with the crispy outside and the meaty/cheesy middle was totally worth the wait.

Last but not least: espresso, candied orange cannoli, limoncello baba, and some sort of fluffy, ethereal hazelnut panna cotta mixture. One word: Yum.

That is Eataly. I believe I have provided sufficient evidence above to declare that New York = awesome, p < .001.
I will provide further proof in future studies ("posts") in the form of our fantabulous adventures over the remaining portion of our trip.

Stay posted!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

First post! I've jumped on the bloggin' bandwagon...

So here I am. 
I'm not sure how this happened- mainly I wanted to share my fun food experiences with everyone and it has gotten beyond what Facebook and email can handle. Or at least what I can handle :) This way, I pop things up here and they are magically transported to the ten people who want to read them. 

It's kind of perfect timing- this Thursday the dear BF and I travel to NYC. It's kind of like the foodie mothership is calling me to my rightful home. So far, we will be eating dinner on Thursday at either Má pêche or the Stanton Social Club. I have heard Má pêche  is amazing, but the Stanton Social Club was mentioned on The Best Thing I Ever Ate for their French Onion Soup Dumplings (yum!!) and those foodaholics have not steered me wrong yet.... Either way, we have reservations at both and will make a decision which one gets axed by tomorrow.  

Also on the to-do list is Eataly NYC, which promises to be magical; brunch at Norma's in Le Parker Meridien; and possibly Balthazar (also mentioned on BTIEA). On the non-food portion of the trip (what?? Crazy talk...), we will be attending a wedding and hopefully seeing Phantom- not concurrently.

Although I'm pretty sure that would be awesome.  

I am positive there will be some food porn posted over the next week, so please approach future posts knowing that you may see some super sexy culinary shots that will cause you to spasm with- what..? desire? jealousy? an intense allergic reaction that transcends space and time?

Who knows.  Just go with it.