Thursday, June 27, 2013

Talde

Brooklyn, as I'm quickly finding out, has no dearth of unique restaurants. My friend, Alisa, who lives in Manhattan said she had never been to Park Slope, and that she would love to pop over on the subway to meet up for dinner. Being relatively new to the area, I haven't eaten out too much, but fortunately, a few places have piqued my interest on my regular walks down 7th Avenue. One spot in particular consistently looks cozy and hoppin' - always good signs when you are tempted to try a restaurant for the first time.

The venue I had in mind for our dinner date is called Talde, named for the Top Chef contestant who runs the kitchen, Chef Dale Talde. The food possesses a wonderful balance of Asian and American cuisines and playfulness. I asked a local friend for suggestions for dinner, and Talde was the first place she thought of, without me mentioning it first!  I knew Alisa and I would be in good hands.


Upon entering Talde, you will immediately notice that the restaurant is small, probably about 25 tables or so. I was told that going to dinner on a Wednesday night in the summer probably would not warrant a wait, but even if that had been the case, there was a beautiful bar at our disposal with ornate Asian-inspired mahogany wood carvings that would have made the delay more than bearable. 

Also, the hostess will offer seating at the Chef's Counter, which allows diners to have a bird's eye view of the food being made.  We weren't given this option because the counter was already packed, but I definitely want to try it at some point.

We were seated at a small table lining the window.  Because the venue is so small, everyone dines in very close proximity to one another, but it adds character to the environment, and I thought it was fun.  We had fellow diners asking us what we had ordered, and we did the same.  However, if it really bothers you to have other people's conversations as white noise, this may not be the best dinner venue for you.

I started with a glass of white wine, naturally.


The server suggested the Ermita de Nieve, Verdejo, which was great. It was both dry and aromatic, and very refreshing.

All dishes are served "family style," which means that the dishes come out as soon as they are prepared, rather than waiting for everything to be presented at once, and everybody shares, both of which are concepts that I love.

We began our little feast with an appetizer that came highly recommended: Pretzel Pork & Chive Dumplings.


 I am drooling just looking at them again.  They came wrapped as the title suggests in a pretzel casing with a spicy mustard dipping sauce on the side.  Divine. The mixture inside was perfectly seasoned.  The sage paired really nicely with the spiciness of the mustard.


Next, our order of Crispy Oyster & Bacon Pad Thai. Arrived at our table. Mind blowingly delicious. I commend whoever produced this epiphany. Salty, sweet, and packed with my favorite herbs, this was a winner that I would definitely order again.


Heaven, thy name is Korean Fried Chicken with spicy kimchi sauce, peaches, and mint. The clouds parted, and this bad bird was brought to our table. The kimchi sauce had just the right level of spice, and the tenderness of the peaches were a nice contrast with the crispiness of the chicken. Finger-licking good...


..as is personified by Alisa's expression of bliss.

Last, but certainly not least, by any stretch of the imagination: Halo Halo


Perhaps one of the most fun dishes I've ever had the pleasure of eating, Halo Halo, meaning "mix mix" in the Philippines, is a shaved ice dessert containing mango, litchi, assorted berries, coconut, banana, and Cap'n Crunch. Yes, you read right. With a surprise in every bite, we ate this until we were literally scraping our spoons on the bottom of the bowl.


We left extremely satisfied, perfectly (if not overly) full, and raving about our experience. I would certainly recommend making a stop if you're in the neighborhood, or even if you are not. My friend that I consulted before I had chosen a dinner location said that if she moved into Manhattan, Talde is one of the few restaurants in Brooklyn for which she would make the 30 minute subway ride for dinner.

Talde is located at 369 7th Avenue, Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY.  They do not take reservations, but if you have any questions, their phone number is: 347.916.0031.  If you have any further inquiries, their website can be found here

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Blast from the Past: Gene Tierney

I haven't posted a 'Blast from the Past' outfit for quite some time, so I thought I'd start them up again.  We'll ease into it with one of my favorite go-to actresses of yore, Gene Tierney.

Being in New York City in the summertime has definitely made me more in-tune with the sartorial needs of professional women in the city who need to stay cool and refined. After a little digging, some beautiful current pieces jumped out at me. Take a look!

The Inspiration: Gene Tierney




I.

II.

III.



I. Segmented Labyrinth Dress
II. Lillian Suede Low Wedges in 'Fresh Strawberry'
III. Provence 12 Crochet Hat

I would say some red lipstick and a low, messy bun, such as the Anthropologie model is wearing, would tie it all together.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Asada and Potato Tacos with Green Sriracha Sauce

In my family, one of the ways we express love is through making food for each other. Growing up, my mom was insistent that we had a homemade dinner every night, and that we all had to sit at the table and talk about what we had done that day.  I never really thought much about the effort that went into this ritual, but I see now that dinner time is an underrated opportunity for re-connection and  familial support. I always liked our daily tradition, but I didn't realize until I was older, because there were so many of us, how essential it was to keep us all on the same page. That being said, I really enjoy dinners, and making them for people is my way of showing appreciation and love.



To show my sister how much I appreciated her hosting me in DC, I wanted to make her and Victor a delicious "thank you" dinner.  The inspiration for the meal came from a Grilled Skirt Steak with Green Sriracha recipe in Food & Wine magazine.  "How amazing would that sauce be on steak and potato tacos?", we both thought, wheels in our minds rapidly turning. Anybody who knows me knows I love me some sriracha.

So, we got a little creative with the ingredients, and came up with a a few recipes ourselves. In an effort to avoid getting bogged down by both the rain and procrastination, we immediately ran out to the amazing Asian market around the corner from Katie's house, and then proceeded to pop over to the amazing Mexican market around the other corner to collect our ingredients.

The recipe for the sauce can be found here, and I'll post the steak marinade and potato recipes in the post below.

First, you'll want to pack the skirt steak with flavor by marinading it before you start anything else.


For this, you will need:

3/4 cup olive oil
juice from one lime
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a lipped pan.  Set steak in marinade, make sure meat is thoroughly covered, and allow to sit until ready to grill....


...which will look like this.  But this is the last step, so we won't do that till later, right?

Now for the sriracha! I know I provided the Food & Wine recipe above, but I wanted to give you a few visual aids.


Katie had many of the herbs we needed for the sauce growing in her home garden, which was great!



I'm sure many of you do not cook with poblano chiles regularly, so I want to make sure you know how to prepare them.

First, you will need to place the washed chiles in a stove top flame until they are completely blistered.


Kind of awful to look at, I know, but they taste darn delicious.

After the chiles have been blistered and placed in an airtight container, wait a good 20 minutes before attempting to peel the skins and de-vein them. The sealed container will allow them to "sweat", making the chiles more easy to peel.
 These little guys have a tendency to cause all sorts of problems.  Their specialty is getting their oils onto your fingers so that when you decide to get that pesky eyelash out of your eye by rubbing, their juices get in your eye too, causing lots of pain and cursing.  Moral of the story: wear gloves if possible while handling these sneaks.


Forceps...Scalpel...

This is what the chile should look like once it's been de-seeded and de-veined (the veins are the white fleshy parts on the inside).

Combine all ingredients in food processor and blend until the sriracha has the same consistency as pesto sauce.



Finally, for the potato filling, you will need:

4 potatoes cut into eighths
1 large sweet potato cut into similarly sized pieces
1/2 white onion chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 poblano chile, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/3 stick butter
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste


First, place butter, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and onions in large pot. Allow ingredients to steam and caramelize. Once potatoes start getting the slightest bit soft and crusty, add garlic, poblano, and cheese. Mix all ingredients together.  Be sure to test on of the potatoes before you finish cooking, just to male sure the consistency is both firm and tender; you want to be able to bite through the potato without having it fall apart on you. SO good.


We fried the taco shells (that's right) to make them a little more pliable, sprinkled them with sea salt, stuffed the shells with the potato mixture, and then placed them in a pan standing upright.  
To add a little extra crunch to the shells, we put them in the oven at 350 degrees for 5-8 minutes. During this time, we cooked the meat on a stove top grill.  Once it was finished, we sliced it into small, bite-sized pieces.

Once the stuffed shells were finished, we took them out of the oven, and dressed them up with our additional toppings.


I can't say enough about this meal.  I'm not kidding when I say it might have been one of the best things I've ever tasted.  That sriracha sauce is so versatile, and would taste wonderful with so many different types of food.

Oh!  Lastly, we also made some tacos wrapped in lettuce, rather than a taco shell, and they were phenomenal as well! The flavors were more robust with the lettuce, and it's a great way to substitute for a fried shell.


Hope you're all having a great week!





Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Brunch with the Founding Farmers

I love reuniting with old friends during travels to distant places. It somehow makes me feel very grown up and comfortable and happy all at once. Meeting up with my friend Osman in Washington, DC, was no different. Os and I went to college together, where we had a mutual group of friends, as well as a mutual love/hate relationship with the library.

I was on his home turf, so he suggested we try a place called Founding Farmers for Saturday brunch. I make it a rule of mine never to turn down a mish-mosh of breakfast and lunch, so I told him I thought that sounded like a wonderful idea and that I would meet him there at 1 o'clock sharp!

A little warning: the photos from our outing are not of the highest quality, but I have a good excuse! Because the metro ride into DC can take a good 45 minutes on the weekend, I opted to bring my next "good reads" post material versus a camera in my small purse. 
As the book I will be reviewing next has approximately 950 pages, I need all the time I can get with it! It's all for you!

Oddly enough, Os and I came off of the same metro, and I happened to spot him about three people ahead of me. We walked to the restaurant, enjoying the unusually glorious DC weather.

Finally, we reached our destination. The place was packed! We opted to sit at the bar and were attended to by friendly bar staff immediately, who promptly took our food and drink orders.


I decided to be adventurous and ordered my first Pimm's Cup.


Glorious. So good, in fact, that Osman ordered one too!


Our food came next. The dishes were very simple, but delicious nonetheless. Founding Farmers prides itself in its high-quality, local produce and meats and its generally healthy and wholesome fare. 

I ordered a veggie scramble with a mini house salad...


Look at those colors!

Osman went for ever-classic blueberry pancakes. 


I'd be lying if I said I didn't steal a few bites. Bomb.

We sat a while, chatting and catching up, but finally decided that someone could probably use our seats, so we headed off to Georgetown. 


I always tell people that I enjoy shopping for others more than I enjoy shopping for myself, so when Osman said he needed to stop in a few places to pick up some things, I didn't argue. Georgetown actually has tons of really great little shops for impromptu shopping sprees.


Grown up suits for a grown up job, naturally.


And a grown up watch wouldn't be such a bad idea either! The more the merrier, I say!

Meanwhile, while I began to feel a little self-conscious about how stylish Osman was becoming, so I decided to step outside the box a little and make a statement with cat-eye liner and coral lips...what do you think?



Any favorite red lipsticks I've just got to try? Or favorite brunch locations in New York? Fill me in e'rybody! 

Monday, June 17, 2013

A Week's Worth of Instagram #2


Self explanatory. BBB Festival was epic! People watching was even more epic.


The event was right on the Potomac River, which made for really magnificent lighting. Kate snapped this one just as the sun was setting. Is that an empty glass in my hand?


I had never seen a sculpture quite like this one. It's located in the National Harbor in Washington, DC, right across the river from Old Town Alexandria. Breathtaking - loved seeing the kids climbing on the stone face! 


One of my good guy friends from college lives and works in DC. We met up for brunch at a wonderful place called Founding Farmers. It was PACKED, so we sat at the bar at caught each other up with our lives and reminisced about old times. Olé!


Happy Father's Day, Pop! Easily one of the most (if not the most) giving, selfless, and inspirational people I've ever met. The bar has been set high.


A little sneak peek of what the next "Good Reads" post might be about. Given the fact that I'm only a third of the way through, you can expect to hear my review in about a week! So far, I'm completely engrossed. I thought I was a fan when I read it in high school...I interpret Anna's character in a completely different light as an adult. And that's all I'll say for now. 

Now it's your turn! Tell me what you chickens have been up to!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Gluten-Free Peanut Butter, Banana & Chocolate Chip Drop Cookies

My sister, Katie, has allergic reactions to both eggs and gluten. Well, these sensitivities make baking desserts quite tricky. All of my absolute favorite desserts have one or both of these components involved.  Crustless apple pie?  Just not the same ring to it...

Anyways, as Katie and I were hanging out this evening, our sweet teeth rang the doorbell and said hello.  That was the end.  We were committed.  The only problem left was finding a dessert that we both deemed edible.  It didn't take long before we stumbled across a variation of this recipe for chocolate-y, banana-y, peanut buttery cookies.
Yum.



Yes, I know, they do sound a little bit more healthy than usual, but they are really delicious, and make for a perfect power snack in the morning before work.

Interested?  You will need:

2 large, over-ripe bananas
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 tbs. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup oats
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (or you can use chocolate chips!)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.


First, mix bananas, almond butter, peanut butter, vanilla, sugar, and cinnamon together in large mixing bowl.


Next, slowly mix oats into banana mixture.


Once oats have been added, mix chopped chocolate into batter.



Place dollops of cookie dough onto un-greased baking sheet. Cookies do not spread, so you can basically make them as big as you would like them to be once you take them out of the oven.  Tablespoon size should work well! Place in oven, and cook for a good 12 minutes, or until golden.


See?


Let cool, then serve.

So good and guilt-free!  Take my recommendation and eat them with a cup of hot English breakfast tea.  Now that's a combination that will get me to wake up on the right side of the bed every morning...