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Sunday Supper

  • Posted on July 24, 2011 at 9:48 pm

Dinner tonight was as simple as it can get. I picked up some peeled and cooked shrimp from the Amish market on Saturday. Took the tails off, stuck them in the mini chopper in two batches with some mayo and garlic salt. Added some horseradish afterwards. A little toasted pita and a sliced red pepper for me, some multigrain wheat thins for the Husband, a few olives for us both. Will have to keep this one in mind for the rest of the summer!

Dinner tomorrow will be home made tacos. I picked up some ground beef this weekend as well, and some different tortillas. That will cover Monday, considering I’ll also have to roast a chicken for our lunches. Tuesday I’ll bring home some take out Turkish from near my office and then we’ll figure out the rest of the week. Friday night elements is doing a special dinner with Kevin Sbraga who won Top Chef a year ago, so we’ll be going to that. The menu will certainly be interesting!

But how is it only Sunday and I’m already tired? Sigh. That does not bode well for this week.

Summer Supper

  • Posted on July 17, 2011 at 10:13 pm

So maybe it’s not your typical mid-summer supper, but it worked for us for tonight. Tacos with all natural ground beef I picked up from the Amish along with some shredded cheese, and some whole wheat tortillas from the supermarket. Next time maybe I’ll chop up some of the farmers market tomatoes instead of using the jarred salsa. Or maybe I’ll just remember to buy some better jarred salsa. This one was supposed to be on someone’s best of list, I think, which is why I bought it instead of what I usually buy. But I found it way too watery and it just made everything messy. Maybe if I drained the whole jar it might be useable but that’s just a hassle. Meh. But otherwise dinner was really yummy, and I think we’d do it again. Not too bad to make even in the heat of the summer.

Once that was done I roasted a quick chicken in the convection oven. I forgot the carrots today, I was in too much of a rush, but it will make chicken salad for lunch for the Husband for one day and lunch for me for one or two days during the week. Even though my work schedule is going to be messed up this week and odds are I didn’t need to make the chicken. Oh well. Maybe just take one day for me and make more chicken salad for him. We’ll see.

I just ordered a cold french press to make ice coffee concentrate. I don’t usually like hot coffee, except, weirdly, for a soy cappuccino at elements from time to time, and I think that’s mostly because they don’t do iced coffee beverages. Otherwise, year-round, my preference is for iced coffee or espresso drinks. But you can’t just throw hot coffee over ice for the most part, it just gets watery that way. You generally make a stronger coffee concentrate which you put over ice and with some soy milk and maybe a bit of flavoring. It’s part of the reason I don’t make it at home. But if I can put elements’ coffee blend into a concentrate over ice and have that most days of the week, in my nice reusable cup, yeah, I can take the effort once a week to do that. Besides, if I don’t have to go get a coffee, it’ll help keep me away from the pastries in the morning, even if I did choose carefully it was still no good even twice a week!

Summer in NJ

  • Posted on July 16, 2011 at 3:42 pm

It’s full on summer in New Jersey, there’s no doubt about that! NOAA said it was only supposed to get into the low 80′s today, but it was at least 92 when I was out.

Today’s haul from the farmers market. First of the cherry tomatoes, sugar plums, peaches, blueberries, and eggs. At the Amish I got some cheese and cherries and a peach shake. Not to mention some steaks and all natural ground beef. Oh, and some shrimp! At Griggstown I got some plums, a chicken, a biscotti and one cookie for each of us. Lol.

After all that did a run to the supermarket for some staples, and then the dry cleaners so I can be presentable when I go out in the world. Tomorrow is laundry and maybe the other supermarket. We’ll see what it feels like after brunch.

I know I’m not supposed to have too many of the tomatoes; they’re one of those vegetables that many fibro folks don’t do well with and unfortunately that does hold true for me sometimes. But for the first ones of the season, I really will just suck it up and try not to eat the whole container in the weekend. I’ve been making a concerted effort to up my fruit intake especially over the summer when I’m able to get so much stuff fresh and local. I’ve been trying for three servings a day. I know that doesn’t seem like a lot and is definitely less than is recommended but considering I could go days without any, that’s a big step. And it’s keeping me away from the vending machines if I have something at my desk that I can nosh on at that moment.

I’m not quite sure how it’s gotten to be the middle of July.

Weekend Roundup

  • Posted on June 26, 2011 at 8:38 pm

First, thanks to elements for squeezing us in for a last minute, leisurely, lovely dinner in the cube Saturday night. It was TRULY appreciated and very much needed. Mattias, thank you for the swizzling! Thank you, Justin, for helping me to understand why my greatly appreciated french toast for brunch was tasting like bacon. You have no idea how thoroughly disconcerting it was. The Husband’s cardinal rule is no greens in the eggs, mine is nothing that tastes like bacon. As much as he loves it, I can’t stand it.

Next, the farmers market continues to disappoint. Maybe it’s still too early in the season (I didn’t think so), or maybe it’s that one of the vendors I’ve come to depend on doesn’t seem to be there yet this season, even though all the materials and emails say they should be. I’ll continue to go, of course, but it was a disappointment to walk away this week with just two boxes of blueberries. We’re not big veggie eaters much of the time, especially if I’m not cooking a lot which I haven’t been.  I’ve still managed to pick up some good fruits between the Amish and Griggstown, but it’s just not what I’d been hoping for. I do also have the farmers market near the office on Tuesday, which is always good for strawberries at the very least and hopefully some more shelling peas this week.

We’re starting to plan a real vacation for August. A long weekend at someplace with both a spa and fine dining. It’s hard to find some place to meet all our parameters. Maybe we’re just too picky? No, I think I just need to refine my search a bit to find what we want- and are willing to pay. We looked at the Inn at Little Washington, but to stay on site was just a bit more than we were willing to splurge for.

After that, we’ll be planning a trip to Vermont. The 3 year plan involves a move, and VT is one of the first places to consider. Aside from the ski areas. Need to find places away from all that. Otherwise maybe New Hampshire. Need land, water and solitude. Pretty much the rest is negotiable.

Happy 2011!

  • Posted on January 1, 2011 at 2:12 pm

May 2011 be a better year for us all, as individuals, as a country and as a planet.

We rang in the new year at Ninety Acres and the Mansion at Natirar. Fabulous and quite a spectacle. Fire pits and heat lamps made the outside terrace overlooking the valley quite a magnificent place to end out the evening with a glass of champagne. This was after a most delightful dinner at Ninety Acres. The duck three ways was outstanding, but the highlight- as low brow as it may be to say it- had to be the french fries. As always, they were extraordinary, and after seeing a couple of platefuls go over to the bar, we had to ask if the kitchen would be able to accommodate us. As usual, they were kind enough to do so.

New Years resolutions? I generally try not to make them. Be a better person and friend. Blog more. Worry less. Try to cook more, but stress less when I can’t. Take a little bit better care of myself.

May the best of the past be the worst of the future. May you get to spend time with your loved ones and love the ones you have to spend time with.

Finally Fall

  • Posted on October 23, 2010 at 2:59 pm

It’s finally Fall here, without a doubt. Today was the last day of the farmer’s market. I got the last tomatoes- probably the last I’ll have until they open again, as even the ones from the Amish last week didn’t do it for me- and some pears.  They were down to just three tables, one of which the Market itself shares with the bread folks, and I didn’t even stop to look at what they had.

I went over to Griggstown Farm and picked up a chicken pot pie to stash in the freezer, plus a soy-ginger duck breast and a boned out chicken. I wish they sold just plain BSCB- boneless, skinless chicken breasts but I guess it’s not feasible for them so the chicken seems to be the closest I’ll come.

I picked up some all natural ground beef from the Amish yesterday. I was going to make a cauliflower soup with it at some point, but I’m liking the roasted cauliflower right now so I’m not quite sure what will happen with it. Maybe tacos on Monday.

Elements: dinner and star struck

  • Posted on July 10, 2010 at 8:56 pm

At the last minute we decided to try and get a reservation at Elements tonight, and they were able to accommodate us in the cube. I keep forgetting to bring a wrap when we sit in there. After dinner (which was fabulous) Joe comes in and asks us if we’re Star Trek fans, which we are, and asks us if we want to meet Avery Brooks who is eating in the dining room and always comes back to the kitchen before he leaves. Um, wow, yes. Avery Brooks. Captain Benjamin Sisko. A few minutes later it was just as they said, first his wife came back, then he did, to thank the kitchen, and then Joe brought him over to introduce him to us. He was genuinely nice, asked our names, where we lived. We chatted briefly about the food, “the man is BAD” he said referring to Scotty in the kitchen, and we had to agree. I’ve got to admit to being a bit awe-struck over this. OMG, we just met Avery Brooks!!!! So seriously cool.

Dinner was fabulous as usual. The fois gras was phenomenal, served with cherries and chocolate and granola. The skate was unexpectedly served with sesame seeds so I didn’t enjoy very much of it, but what I did have was excellent. Joe sent out three desserts for us to try- the tres leches, strawberries including a strawberry “pop tart” and some fresh blueberries , and banana panna cotta with chocolate peanut butter ganache atop a rice krispies disk.

We got to meet Avery Brooks. What a cool way to end the evening. Thanks, Joe!!

dinner at elements

  • Posted on April 24, 2010 at 11:42 pm

Work has been insane, more than 70 hours a week for me, ever since we got back from Florida.  The guys at elements have been blogging and Facebook-ing and posting pictures. First it was the local chicken liver pate. Then it was the first of the season morels. There was also the sour cherry dessert, but that may have been after I made the reservation. Somewhere in there Mattias had made a rhubarb cooler and posted in their bar blog. The picture of the morels did it for me, though, or more accurately I knew it would do it for the Husband and I’d been jonesing for a good dinner out.

“Husband?”

“Yes, wife?”

“elements has first of the season morels….”

“when can we go?”

“I’ll call and ask.”

A day or so later I finally remembered to call and the young lady who answered was able to accommodate us at 5 pm on Friday in the Cube, which is their private room adjacent to the kitchen. The chef’s table in the kitchen was already booked so this was really just perfect for us. Score! It also meant I’d need to stop working at a reasonable hour to get dressed and ready to go because I really did want to try and relax and enjoy myself. To say it had been a hell of a week is an understatement.

We arrived a few minutes early and got to hang around with the staff out back behind the kitchen before service started. It was nice to be missed as much as we missed them. It seemed the NY Times review photographer was coming that night at 7 pm to take the pictures for the review they had just gotten. You’d think if it was just for pictures, they’d come at an easier time than Friday or Saturday night!  After being seated, we looked at the menu and realized we were in trouble- there were just too many amazing choices! This was definitely one of those menus where there were more things up the Husband’s alley and I had a harder time. We ended up sharing a number of different dishes and everything was just incredible from start to finish.

We’re bad foodie bloggers. We completely forgot to write down or photograph entire courses, so most of the descriptions will be straight from their menu.

Amuse was a trio of interesting tidbits. Beef tongue wrapped around sushi rice with pickled carrots (yum); house cured something sausage-like fresh not dried with a grain mustard (which I liked), and a third bit with piquillo peppers and tasted fishy.  This last one even the Husband liked!

chicken liver pate with pheasant egg, mushroom, leek with crispy toast points

What a way to start out the meal. I knew I had to have this first because if the Husband did I may have only found some mushrooms left! Seriously good.

short rib pierogi  caraway, potato, leek, sour cream

These were outrageous. The short rib pierogi had the most amazing texture and I would definitely order these again.

spaghetti carbonara  our bacon, peas, duck egg

I only had a bite of this but it was very good. How bad can it be with their own bacon and these fresh tiny peas?

sablefish  romesco, marcona almond, charred scallion spaetzle, shrimp

romesco sauce shmeared across the plate. scallion spaetzle with Laughing Bird shrimp and spinach. oh yum. and the fish was good too.

Columbia river sturgeon  local asparagus, osetra caviar, quail egg, garlic

We got two small portions of this, mostly so I could give the caviar to the Husband. This was outrageous. The fish was perfectly cooked. The asparagus was pureed into a soup or broth that we both sopped up with bread and a spoon. I don’t usually eat eggs but knew there was no way I was giving that one up to the Husband. Perfectly soft cooked,

local skate  split pea & ham, spring onion, morels, carrot

We haven’t had skate in a long time and this was a perfect version of it. My only issue with it was that to me it tasted strongly like caraway, which I don’t really like. But otherwise it was fabulous. Came apart easily with a fork. Just so so good.

tilefish  local morels, ramps, horseradish, spinach, quinoa, white asparagus

Yum, yum and yum. By this point I was getting full, and wanted to save room for dessert, so the Husband got most of it. This was just insanely good.

When we first looked at the menu I knew I was going to be in trouble with dessert. I have a weakness for anything cherry, and there happened to be two cherry desserts on the menu. So with a little encouragement from everyone we ordered both, plus the vanilla panna cotta for the Husband.

black forest cake. black cherry, chocolate, lambic granite, sponge

I’ve got to say, I’m often impressed and intrigued with the desserts and presentations that Joe and the team come up with here. I know enough never to get my heart set on an exact anything and have never been disappointed. Tonight was no exception. Black forest cake was almost like a devil dog without the chocolate coating, chocolate cake rolled with creamy frosting of some sort. Served with two griotes (I snagged the Husband’s), some tasty and really interesting chocolate sponge, and a bit of chocolate topped with the lambic granite, which the Husband loved. Next time, I would probably ask them to hold the granite but that’s just me.

vanilla panna cotta. shortbread, spring pea ice cream, peanut, bacon

Who would’ve thought pea ice cream? It was the most incredible shade of green and really tasted like spring peas! Not something I’d ever order at an ice cream shop but it really did work here. I wasn’t crazy about this dessert, as bacon so doesn’t do it for me, but the Husband was, and thought it was delicious.

sour cherry bar. nilla waffer ice cream, cookie crust, “cherries”

Yum. Nilla wafer ice cream. Sour cherry bar was outrageously good and the “cherries,” even the Husband’s eyes lit up when he ate one. I’m not quite sure what it was made out of but it sure tastes like sour cherry!

As always, our thanks to the staff for a fabulous meal, that was as much food for the Spirit and Soul as it was for the body. From Mattias hiding the bottle of sake from Joe and Scotty (sorry, guys!) so that it would be there for the Husband,  to reassuring us that we could do whatever we wanted to make our own tasting menu, they went over and above for us, particularly for a busy Friday night.  We kept saying to each other, “why has it been so long since we’ve been here?” From start to finish this was an extraordinary meal, and just what we needed.

back to work

  • Posted on April 5, 2010 at 1:32 pm

We’re home and I’m back at work. Oh joy, oh Monday. I’ve already found out I need to be in NYC tomorrow for a 9 am meeting, which means I need to leave the house before 730. Ugh is an understatement.

I’ll post about Savannah to Raleigh to home over the next couple of days.  At least the food was good.

We’ve got a reservation at Ninety Acres on Friday (woo-hoo!). No matter how good some of the food we had on the trip was, it just can’t compare to what they deliver. I can’t wait to see what they’ll have for Spring.

I’m not sure if being able to blog from the office is a good thing or not….

Bring Me Food

  • Posted on February 6, 2010 at 4:13 pm

“Bring Me Food” is Ninety Acre’s version of a tasting menu, with a twist. Instead of a menu, patrons are presented with a list of ingredients from which the chef will make their dinner. They are simply asked to indicate which ones they would prefer not to eat. Additionally you are seated in the kitchen area instead on the main dining room. Wine pairings are available as well.

We were there last Tuesday, the first night they began doing this, and we were the only ones which meant we essentially had the kitchen space to ourselves. It was a bit hard to resist all the good food that was passing us by as we waited. We realized that they seem to have a separate bar menu, as we saw burgers or sliders and fries and various other tasty tidbits we had never seen on the regular menu. I meant to check it out before we left but completely forgot; hopefully I’ll remember the next time we go in.

We arrived a bit early for our reservation, which wasn’t a problem except the kitchen wasn’t -quite- ready with the cheesy cracker point with Parmesan and assiago cheese that they intend to serve just after folks get seated. After taking a look at the ingredients, the Husband opted for no mushrooms or tomatoes, and I said no to the fresh from the chicken eggs. I also now know to let them know that I don’t want a cheese course, either. But we’ll get there.

The first course for the Husband was an egg with bacon and parsnip mousse with, I believe, a vinegar essence, all served in the egg shell. The kitchen was kind enough to bring out two orders, just in case I wanted to try it. I did, and it was delicious, but bacon and eggs are not my thing. Instead they had sent out a beet and blood orange salad on an endive leaf which was tangy and tasty and delicious.

Next course was Barnagate scallops with Hawaiian gold pineapple, cilantro, and piquillo peppers, served cold in a broth that seemed to be essentially pineapple juice with ribbons of cilantro.  Generally the Husband doesn’t like scallops that are not seared but these were fantastic! Definitely not a combination I would have thought of, but it worked remarkably well. Although David is a huge proponent of farm-to-table, and locally sourced and sustainable, he said the pineapple was one of his few exceptions, and it was in peak season. He was right, this was an outstandingly fresh and clean tasking course.

Pan roasted tile fish came next, served with a Serrano ham and saffron broth with mezzaluna greens.  The skin was perfectly crisp and the parsnip puree it was served with was a creamy counterpoint. I didn’t have any issues with the texture of the fish, but the Husband’s was possibly a bit underdone for him. (For reference, he prefers his salmon cooked through as well, and we’ve learned to specify that.)

Griggstown pheasant with spinach gnocchi and black trumpet mushrooms. Swoon. Yum. I don’t know if either of us has had pheasant before but this was delicious. Skin on sliced breast, and then it seemed like some of the dark meat was cubed with the mushrooms. I gave the Husband gnocchi, he gave me mushrooms. It works.

Cheese course was Valley Shepherd nettlesome cheese served with quince. The quince was tasty. I had a nibble of the cheese and it wasn’t really too my liking but then again most cheeses are not.The Husband seemed to like it though.

Dessert was a cranberry orange napoleon with orange zabaglione, tuille, apple compote and candied cranberries. Wow. Just wow.  I want one now. One of my favorite desserts has always been a zabaglione and some fruit and a cookie. I used to get it at the Stage House in place of a cheese course and it was always something I looked forward to. The orange zabaglione was incredible.

Finally, there we were presented with two mini (but not too mini, mind you) ice cream sandwiches with vanilla ice cream and orange chocolate chip cookies.

David had messed up his back pretty badly the previous Friday, but managed to drag himself in for opening night. I almost felt badly that we were the only ones there; it hardly seemed worth it for him.  But he himself said they were still working some things out and was glad to be able to try it out on some friends first. We certainly couldn’t tell that they had issues to work out. Once we were back on schedule (we did show up 20 minutes early) things were quite smooth and nicely paced.

He’s quite justified in having the faith that he does in his staff, many of whom came with him from his previous kitchen. We had been there the Friday night he was injured, and had we not been told that he was not in the kitchen, there was no way to tell in comparison with our previous visits.  The quality of the food being turned out was just as high and, at least from our limited vantage, the kitchen seemed to run smoothly.

They start doing brunch in a couple of weeks, and we can’t wait for that as well. But we’ll definitely be back to the kitchen as soon as we can for more Bring Me Food.