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Posts Tagged ‘food’

i love food

Monday, May 10th, 2010

I love food.  I don’t like to cook but I LOVE to eat.  I find pure joy in discovering something decadent, delectable, yummy!

Recently, hubby and I went to NYC for a serious food weekend.  My friend Gwen’s brother, Chris, is a sous chef at Momofuku Ssam Bar.  It’s a tough reservation to acquire but Gwen’s brother hooked us up; Saturday night at 7:30, primetime!  Now I heard about Momofuku from hubby, because he loves cookbooks and the restaurant group recently put out a cookbook.  But I also heard about chef David Chang when he was featured on NPR.  His interview had me drooling for ramen.

We arrived in the city late Friday night and met up with our friends Dave and Nikki at the Spotted Pig for dinner.  Now if you live in NYC, it seems eating at 11:45pm is probably not common place but it’s also not highly unusual either.  We sat down at the best seat in the house, a corner banquette beneath the chalkboard menu.  Everything read like a page of Saveur.  I was choosing between a pasta or pancetta dish.  I told the waitress about my dilemma.  She talked me through both dishes but I still could not decide so I told her to just surprise me.  And boy was I surprised.  She brought out the pancetta dish, and unlike hubby who remembers every spectacular meal he’s ever had, I can only say this was one of the most delectable dishes I can’t remember much about, except that it was an explosion of flavors.  We also had the BEST deviled eggs ever! (I know, it sounds kind of random but it was midnight and like fried chicken, I’m a connoisseur of deviled eggs.  I must try them if they’re on a menu.)

I was already starting to feel this would be one gluttonous gastronomical weekend.  Hooray!!

The next day, hubby and I decided we’d walk around a little bit but first check out Momofuku’s other restaurant, the noodle house he was talking about on NPR.  I love a big bowl of freshly made noodles.  They have a chewy texture and when steeped in steaming broth, it’s pure comfort.

Hubby’s idea was to get there at 11am, right when it opened.  And when we arrived, there was already a line.  This is a mark of a true cult following or a tourist trap, I was hoping for the former.

We sat down at the bar, ordered some pickled items and each got a bowl of ramen.  It was everything I expected and more.  My Momofuku ramen had a wonderful savory broth and was a perfect balance to the al dente noodles.  I made small perfect bites in my spoon of broth, noodle, and meat.  Hubby ordered the ginger scallion noodle.  It was a dry noodle dish that was a medley of textures; the springiness of the noodles, the crisp cucumbers, and the simplicity of the square of roasted seaweed.  Hubby and I walked out of there with our belly’s full and wishing every city we lived, there would be a noodle soup just like this one.

We walked and shopped (to burn off calories of course) then we cleaned up to head to Momofuku Ssam Bar.  Looking back, I think all of the eating we did prior was just to prepare our stomachs for the extravaganza that was now being presented at our table.  We had cured hamachi, a tripe salad, lo mein with ramps and trout roe, a stuffed quail, and fiji apple kimchi.  Then there were these the steamed buns, each a delicate, soft mantou filled with pork belly, hoisin, cucumbers, and scallions which you then topped with a special house-made spicy sauce.  It was a perfect blend of flavors, taste and textures.  It was about the best thing I’ve ever eaten.  At this point we hadn’t even gotten to the star of the evening, the bo ssam, which was an entire shoulder of pork, slow roasted, and came with a side of raw oysters, kimchi, rice and bibb lettuce.  The final touch, a drizzle of the special spicy sauce and my mouth was salivating for the next bite.

After dinner we went next door to the milk bar where there was an assortment of unique soft serves like cereal milk and red velvet cake.  We all had a sampling but to be honest, we were stuffed.

The next day I woke up still full but still wishing I could have another bite of that pork bun or another slurp of noodles.  Lucky for me, Gwen’s brother had suggested we check out his favorite noodle house, Ippudo, before our drive home.  I was ready.  Again we arrived as it opened and again there was already a line greeting us.  We went in and ordered myriad noodles.  I got the Akamaru Modern, which was rich and aromatic.  Hubby ordered the Shiromaru Hakata Classic, Gwen enjoyed the lighter Tori Ramen and her husband had a noodle dish that I didn’t capture so I don’t remember what it was. (I think he ate it too fast, I’m only half kidding!)

We left there feeling like well fed babies ready for a nap and as we exited we saw the line was three times as long as when we entered.  I wanted to tell them it was worth the wait, but I have a feeling most here in New York City know a good thing when they taste it.  And they are fortunate enough to be able to just keep coming back for more.

My Favorite Things

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

I’m a superlative kind of person.  I like using words like: the biggest, best, brightest!  It’s all well and good (for me) but my friends find it a bit overwhelming because I insist on knowing their superlatives.  For example, say we’re having a great meal, I want to know which was their favorite dish.  If we’re traveling or out, I want to know what portion of their day was their absolute favorite part.  I often get an eye roll or guttural response, which gets me to nudge just a little bit more.

In the spirit of superlatives, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite things.  (All things listed are Charlotte based unless otherwise noted.)

Best place to have a casual dinner: Dandelion Market

Best fried chicken: Price’s Chicken Coop

Best bartender ever: Paul at Capitol Grill

Best place to get a pint: Connolly’s on Fifth

Best Vietnamese spring rolls: Lang Van

Best Vietnamese sandwiches: Le’s Sandwich & Café

Favorite diner: Landmark Diner

Best Chinese food: 88 China Bistro

Best places for brunch: Pewter Rose (butterscotch scones), Boudreaux’s (beignets), Lulu (green eggs and ham), Custom Shop (pitcher of mimosa)

Best ice cream: Elizabeth Creamery

Favorite bagel shop: Owen’s Bagel and Deli

Best soup and dessert (I know, weird combo): Amelie’s Bakery

Favorite place for oysters: Capitol Grill (high end), Hickory Tavern (affordable)

Favorite casual places for lunch: PioPio, Kabob Grill

Favorite places to take out of town guests: Mac’s Speed Shop, Panthers game at Bank of America Stadium, US National Whitewater Center, Charlotte Motor Speedway Coca-Cola 600 Race, NoDa, Charlotte Cultural Campus (Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, and ‘coming soon’ Mint Museum Uptown), Ice skating at The Green (winter only)

Best outdoor festival: Speed Street

Best gift store: Paper Skyscraper

Biggest selection of designer jeans in petite sizes: Belk’s SouthPark

Favorite person at make-up counter: Joseph @ Bobbi Brown, Nordstrom

Favorite mascara: Too Faced Lash Injection (department store), Rimmel Glam’Eyes Mascara (drug store)

Favorite lip gloss: Lancôme ‘La Laque Fever’ Lip Shine (department store), Rimmel Vinyl Gloss (drug store)

Best acne spot treatment: c. booth DERMA 17 Salicylic Acid Problem Spot Treatment

Favorite treatment skin care line: Obagi (high end), Olay (affordable)

Favorite hair guy: Donald, Carmen Carmen

Favorite nail salon: Polished

Favorite sitcom: Modern Family

Favorite reality show: American Idol

Favorite drama: Grey’s Anatomy

Favorite books I read this year: Little Bee, by Chris Cleave // Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford

Favorite books I often recommend: American Wife, by Curtis Sittenfeld // The Blind Side, by Michael Lewis

Favorite books of all time: To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee // Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan

Favorite books non-fiction: Game Change, by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin // The Girls in the Balcony: Women, Men, and the New York Times, by Nan Robertson

Favorite dog park: Fraizer Park

Favorite online shoe store: www.Heels.com (local), www.Zappos.com (everywhere)

Favorite non-profit to donate money: www.DonorsChoose.org

Fundraiser that’s most fun: Mustaches for Kids

Favorite school: KIPP Charlotte

Please tell me about some of your favorite things in the comment section below!

No Cooking

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

When I recently told my friend, Brian, what my next post was going to be he wondered if this blog of mine was just going to be a running account of all the things I can’t do or am not good at.  I thought about it, and yes, yes indeed I think it is!  I enjoy self-deprecating humor and I have plenty to work with.

Here’s the truth, I love to eat.  I am passionate about food.  I have such affection for how foods are like people; instead of the difference in skin, eye, and hair color – they come in various flavors, textures, and styles of preparations.  But they also have such similarities.  Doesn’t every culture have a noodle dish of some sort, a dumpling, a sausage, a dish requiring the searing of meat over an open flame?

Here’s another truth, I can’t cook (ok, maybe it’s I don’t cook).  I have a short attention span so things are often left boiling over, burning, or just plain bad.  Throughout my 20’s, the valuable marrying-off years, my mother feared I’d be a spinster as my domestic abilities were, at best, substandard.  Fortunately for all of us, I married hubby.  He’s not only a great cook but he thoroughly enjoys the processes.

Now all my friends are quite familiar with the reality of my limitations. They never ask me to bring any cooked items to an event if hubby is out of town.  In fact, if hubby is out of town, I’m often invited over for a meal.  I think they have a fear that my love of Spam and pork rinds will ruin me.

Needless to say when my friend Julianne had a great idea for her birthday recently, there was genuine cause for concern.

That’s right.  I make six things: sausage roll, orzo salad, vegetable beef soup, spicy green beans, hot chicken tits (don’t judge, they used to be called special spicy chicken but hubby, the ad man, renamed the dish, rightly so!), and apple pie.  What I don’t think Julianne hit upon is that I usually only make one of the six dishes at a time, ever.  Her request was to make all six for one event.  Game on.

Valentine’s Day 2010

Monday, February 15th, 2010

I like Valentine’s Day.  I always have.  It’s mainly because I really like a day dedicated to romance and I love being the recipient of flowers.  Not roses!  I love gerbera daisies and tulips.

In high school, all the clubs would sell $1 carnations with notes attached and they’d deliver them in 1st period.  I loved hearing my named called.  Most were from my girlfriends.  We liked to send flowers to each other.  But sometimes it was from a boy I was dating and sometimes it was from an anonymous boy, which was all the more fun as it provided my girlfriends and me endless chatter during lunch.

In college, I loved seeing bouquets of flowers at the guard shack awaiting delivery.  Because I’ve always been a pretty outspoken, blunt person I made it clear to boys I was dating that I liked flowers on Valentine’s Day.  So I often had flowers awaiting me.

The best thing nowadays is to have flowers delivered to the office.  My husband thinks it’s silly (though he sends me gorgeous arrangements every year) and some women think it’s frivolous.  But I love the smell of fresh cut flowers sitting on my drab desk.  It takes the stale air of a newsroom and transforms it into fragrant, decedent office.

But this year, Valentine’s Day was a Sunday and hubby had a BIG plan!  A bit of pretext first.  One, we have a core group of 5 couple friends.  We all love Panther game tailgates, charitable endeavors, eating, and drinking.  Two, my hubby loves to cook.  Three, we do not like going out to eat on Valentine’s Day.  So for the third year in a row we had a dinner for ten at our house.  And right after we finished our delicious meal of grilled flank steak with a red wine reduction, cauliflower steaks drizzled with caper vinaigrette, and Israeli couscous – a barbershop quartet walked into our home, with roses in hand, and started to sing.  It sent five grown women into a tizzy of squeals.


It’s fair to say, I love fresh cut flowers, but live music trumps fresh flowers.  Happy Valentine’s Day!