It is a bittersweet month for me. I will be closing on my “single girl pad” apartment that I have owned for 12 years. Another young teacher will be moving in and I hope she will enjoy it as much as I have. It was my cozy little haven and I leave behind many special memories and great neighbors. My furniture was called “Grandma’s Attic” by Carol Anne Furniture. It was floral chintz with patchwork design. I brought it with me to my house and I call that room little 700 after my building.
On Saturday night I went to a Russian restaurant called Mari Vanna. The antiques, chandeliers and mismatched floral plates made me feel as if I were in my grandma’s attic but believe me, no grannies were hanging out here. There were six feet tall beautiful Russian models and one short plump teacher….me. (That 21 Day fix , I guess I fell off the wagon) The menu has traditional Russian meals like Chicken Kiev, Beef Stroganoff and Borscht. I ordered the Stroganoff and loved it. It comes with buckwheat on the side which was different than when I make it with noodles at home. I LOVED THE DRINK MENU!! I had two Moscow Mules. There are many different infused vodkas and caviars if you are feeling adventurous.
If you are in the Flatiron District of Manhattan and want to try something different in food and decor check out Mari Vanna. Just don’t go on Tuesday nights. Apparently its Russian model night and Mick Jagger is chasing some tail. I’d stick out like a sore thumb.
I can hardly believe that I managed to stay loyal to the 21 Day Fix throughout the blizzard. I usually am stuffing my face during a snow storm, as if I am going to the electric chair at midnight. I cooked a great recipe that I wanted to share. I used something new in my kitchen called Tap’n Apple. www.tapnapple.com
I used this to try to recreate Panera’s autumn squash soup. Their version has over 20 grams of fat per serving. I love cream based soups but right now I cannot afford to have them. As I watched the snow fall I had to keep reminding myself that very shortly I will be in a bathing suit in Turks and Caicos. In fear of someone harpooning me, I have to stay on track. Here is the recipe below:
- 1 already cubed container of butternut squash
- 1 large container of Pacific low sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 large onion
- 2 tbsp. Tap n’Apple spread
- 1 tbsp. of unsalted butter
- 1 /2 tsp.each of ground ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice (you can use more or less of what spices you like)
- 1 tsp. of salt and pepper
First, finely chop an onion and saute it in butter. Add the butternut squash once the onion is glossy and saute together for about 5 minutes more. Next, add the apple spread to the squash and add the chicken broth and the spices you like. It should just about cover the squash. If there is too much liquid the soup will be too thin. Cook about 30 minutes until the squash breaks apart easily with a fork. When it starts to cool off a bit, take an immersion blender and puree soup until all of the squash is blended. (You could do small batches in a regular blender also) At the very end I added Land O’Lakes fat-free half and half. If you aren’t dieting you should definitely use a bit of cream or real half and half.
* Note: I love curry and if I had curry powder that would be good too.
This past weekend I went to Montreal, Canada to watch a hockey game with my family. Of course as I always do, I ate my way through the city. However, my 21- Day Fix arrived in the mail today. I had to enjoy everything before I start on this program. I had to try Poutine while I was in Canada as it seems to be a local favorite. The only thing I can compare it to is what we call “disco fries.” You know those fries with gravy and melted cheese we used to get from diners when we were headed home from a night in a club? The cheese curds had the same mild taste and texture as mozzarella cheese. Although it does sound ordinary, the restaurant we tried them in called 3 Brasseurs has poutine down to an art. There are three locations in Montreal. We ate at the one in Old Montreal and knocked down some locally brewed beer to go with it. Here is the link if you are ever in Montreal.www.les3brasseurs.ca
I also visited the most adorable and charming chocolate shop called Divine Chocolatier located at 2158 Crescent. Frommer’s travel guide stated that, “A visit to Divine Chocolatier is like stepping into a fine chocolate shop from the past.” I’m no Frommer but I do agree. The shop even had an old fashioned brass cash register and little old- fashioned ice cream chairs. The gentleman working ,whom I assume was the owner informed me that all of the chocolates are made on the premises and made in small batches. I probably tried them all- champagne truffles, almond bark, hazelnut and praline chocolates. They were all delicious. I am going to contact them to see if they would ship to the United States.www.divinechocolatier.com If not, I’ll have to wait until I return next year. Until then, I’ll try to get through my 21-day Fix and drink my shakes. Up next, Turks and Caicos where I will hide under my muumuu if I don’t stick to this plan. 🙂
A very dear friend of mine recently sent me a beautiful gift for Christmas, a box of chocolates from Mondel’s. This place slipped by me and although it has been family owned since the 194o’s, I hadn’t heard of it before. Located in Morningside Heights, it is a little out of the way but I intend to check it out soon.
My friend said the staff was very accommodating, friendly and helpful. The box of chocolate arrived the day after the order was placed. The two pound box was a golden box which is a beautiful present. The chocolate was fresh and the assortment had my favorites such as nut clusters, caramel and dark chocolates.
Gentlemen, Valentine’s Day is around the corner. If you want to impress a lady love present her with a delicious and well thought out gift, a box of Mondel’s chocolates. J’adore le chocolat!
I love preparing party platters for people. Today I went to my friend Renee’s house for brunch. I made the antipasto platter from cheeses I got from The Village Cheese Shop in Mattituck and meats from Fairway in Westbury. I married an Italian so pepperoni and salami are always a necessity on a holiday.
Preparing a platter takes time but worth the effort. I buy cheese leaves from Sur La Table and place them on big inexpensive platters I purchase from Home Goods. I think presentation is everything and looking at a well presented appetizer makes people want to eat more. Sure, you can go to Costco or Stop and Shop and purchase the same old Hormel pepperoni and Ritz cracker tray but if you want something special call me. I can help you organize a great party. Bon Appetit and Bon Annee.
Since Hurricane Sandy has devastated my small town of Long Beach, NY it has been hard for both local residents and business owners to make a comeback. The high price of rebuilding, elevating homes and increases in flood insurance have contributed to a change in my community. Only recently have I begun to see new businesses opening and one area in particular that was hit the hardest is making the biggest comeback, The West End. I have discovered some amazing new restaurants in the West End. Last week I had a delicious dinner at Grotto del Fuoco located at 960 W. Beech Street. The menu is inventive, fresh and the thin oven fresh pizza is the perfect ending to a day spent on the beaches of Long Beach. After going for dinner at Grotto, stop by next door at Pammy Cake Creations. If you missed the deconstructed apple pie after your pizza bring home a cupcake that is a serious work of art. She makes the most beautiful cupcakes that look like sand was sprinkled on top with iridescent seashells and starfish. If you live in the New York City area, this summer come visit us at the beach. From Penn Station to LB it is only a 50 minute ride on the Long Island Railroad. I’ll be the one with a bike basket filled with cupcakes.