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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.

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.

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!!

still here

  • Posted on June 13, 2010 at 7:59 pm

I’m still here. Hanging in and hanging on. It’s the start of summer already, and I’m not quite sure where the time has gone.

Yesterday was the first day of the Montgomery Farmers Market. It seemed a bit smaller than last year, but no matter. English peas are still in season- I should’ve gotten more than I did (’cause they’re all gone already)! Hopefully next week they’ll still have some and then I’ll get a pound or two. I got some blueberries too. I got an Olive loaf for the Husband and some local honey, and barely resisted the raisin challah. I’m not sure what bakery they’re from this year, I think last year was Witherspoon. The multigrain rolls looked good too. Fresh mozzarella from Griggstown. Next week I think I’ll get some mushrooms too, and some eggs. I’ve been getting the weird craving for eggs again so it’s time for the annual mushrooms and egg. I got some cherries from Tree-licious; turns out the spray them with grape juice to keep the birds away!

Then it was off to the Amish for more breads and snacks (chocolate chip whoopie pies!), some melon, cider and lemonade. Chocolate malt balls and some mints. A few chocolate orange peels to snack on. What can I say, I have a weakness for them! Quick run to the supermarket and then back home to do as little as possible for the remainder of the day.

We had a delightful brunch at Elements today, did a bit of laundry, tried to catch up on a few things and still rest.

How is it the middle of June already?

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.


“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.


  • Posted on October 7, 2009 at 7:32 am

I’ve been meaning to write this post since Sunday. Damn work is taking it all out of me.

We went to elements for brunch on Sunday and they had challah french toast. Oh, yum! Of all the breads this is hands down my favorite. Unfortunately most breakfast/brunch menus have limited options for me since I don’t eat eggs. I’ll eat them if they’re in something but not an egg or an omlette. Most of the time if I want breakfast food it’s french toast. I think next time I’ll ask them to hold one of the ice cream scoops. It’s a little too dessert for breakfast for me and is just as good with just the Blis maple syrup. After running into Alex and Aki of Ideas in Food at the Newtown Amish Market on Saturday, I caught up on reading their blog as well as the elements blog. In the elements blog Joe talks about his current take on apple pie, with an apple pie gel so I asked him about it and he was kind enough to make us a tasting plating. Oh was it good! Right up my alley as the Husband said, with cinnamon merangue and toasted merangue and….drool. It was good. I wanted to lick the plate. I’d order that again in a heartbeat.

After brunch it was off to visit a new client with the Husband. First visits can be awkward especially for me but he was a very nice guy and there is potential for all sorts of different opportunities here. Only time will tell, though, and that’s what really counts, not what can happen but what does happen.

This has been another one of those busy weeks for me and it’s only Tuesday. I’m still having a hard time adjusting to the pace. It feels like a constant juggling act and I keep waiting for something to come crashing down on my head. Sigh.

The headache has been a mixed bag. Monday was a headache free day, the first complete one in I don’t know how long. Maybe three weeks at this point. Today has made up for that and we’re back to a level that makes me slowly lose my sanity. Or not so slowly. It’s maddening, really, and I want to crawl into bed, or stay in bed and just hide in the quiet and the dark for a while but can’t. We tried changing the medications to use the secondary abortive fioricet as the primary medication and that worked well for a day and a half. But I took 2 today and it hasn’t helped. Oh, and I have to be careful how much of my other pain meds I can take when I take this. Great.

Mom’s throwing a surprise party for my stepfather for his birthday. I need to deal with the cake. I need to get her to set a budget. ‘Cause I have ever-so-much free time on my hands to deal with this. And today we realize we need two cakes because my cousin’s birthday is the same day.

This weekend is another RHPS reunion which should be a lot of fun, but exhausts the hell out of me especially since we don’t meet up for dinner till 9. Still, I want to go and see some old friends again. I really do need to make time to have some semblance of a social life.

Last Day at NYRF, Back at Brunch

  • Posted on September 20, 2009 at 9:17 pm

Today we visited NY RenFaire for the closing day with the best weather of the season. Naomi picked up her new 3/4-length black cloak from the Scottish booth. She also was able to get three new skirts from Bullseye to wear in the off-season. We got to listen to Abram’s set at 11:30 and by noon we had decided it was time to go. The traffic waiting to get INTO Faire was backed up for miles – we had made the right choice! So off to Elements. We arrived at 1:50pm to find a wedding reception starting. Many thanks for the staff at Elements who agreed to allow us to sit at our favorite seats in the kitchen even though we were again in garb. The chocolate french toast hit the spot for the both of us, along with a glass of sake for me. Then it was back home to relax and prepare for the upcoming week.

End of Summer Brunch

  • Posted on September 13, 2009 at 5:55 pm

Weekends during the summer revolve around going or not going to the Renaissance Festival in Tuxedo, NY.  If the weather’s hospitable, we’re out of the house by 8 am and on the road to faire. It’s hard when it’s a Sunday morning and we have to decide between Faire and brunch. Today we managed to do the near impossible. Faire and brunch. We got to Faire as early as always, finished our errands and got out of there and back on the roads. A quick call determined they couldn’t accommodate us in the kitchen, but the cube, a private room off the kitchen was free. Around an hour later we show up and in we go.

You should understand that this isn’t the first restaurant to which we’ve gone after faire in garb, period clothing, including feathered hat and leather boots. We’ve previously been to both the Pluckemin Inn as well as David Drakes. Elements was a little different in that we needed to pass in full view of the main dining room. Since no one was at the front desk when we walked in, and several patrons were craning their necks trying to get a better look at us, we decided to just head back to the kitchen, figuring someone would seat us or we could just seat ourselves. After saying hello to the staff in the kitchen, we ensconced ourselves in the cube which had kindly already been set for our arrival with menus and water chilling.

An amuse bouche of vichyssoise was just excellent and we both wanted more. Unfortunately they were out of the local corn chowder which we both wanted to get. The Husband got potato pancakes with poached eggs and bacon. I got a delicious panzanelle, an Italian bread salad with heirloom tomatoes and Griggstown chicken. I wasn’t feeling breakfast-y at that point and this was rather tasty. Most brunch menus are hard for me- I don’t eat eggs or cheese so that eliminates a lot of options. I know the staff at elements would accommodate anything I asked, but I figured not on a day when they had 50 folks in house, including a bunch in the kitchen for a 9-course tasting.

We decided not to push it with dessert, so just got a check and headed home. On the way out  it seems we surprised a table of women when we came out of the cube and passed through the dining room on our way out. It is kind of cool to be able to go to some of the top restaurants in NJ after spending the morning at the Renaissance Faire,

Here piggy piggy…

  • Posted on August 22, 2009 at 5:07 pm

It’s kind of funny to me to be writing a complete post on pork. This is not just any pork, and I suspect this will not be just any post. I think in order for you to get a true appreciation of this, I need to go into a little background before I get to the food. And oh, lard-y, the food. (I think I also need to apologize in advance for the humor as well. Not to mention the lateness of this post.)

When the Husband and I got married four and a half years ago, the wedding was at our favorite restaurant at the time (which has since changed hands and chefs and we’ve barely been back, not even for an annual anniversary dinner, but no matter). The chef there was a lovely young man, and fabulous chef, named Michael Clampffer. We followed Michael after he left that restaurant to his next venture and then were thoroughly disappointed when he left there to became a private chef.

Fast forward to the Facebook age, where we were able to reconnect with Michael, though I had managed to catch glimpses of him in the media before that. Seems Michael was working for a gentleman who, among other things, owned Mosefund Farms where they were starting a new venture of raising Mangalitsa pigs. Mangalitsa pigs are also known as Hungarian wooly pigs, a heritage breed that fell out of favor in part due to its exceptionally high fat content. To some, the high fat makes it undesirable; to others, it make an tasty product with a texture that just can’t be beat. As it turned out, one of Michael’s first customers in NJ for the Mangalitsa was Scott Anderson, the Chef at elements in Princeton. And if you’ve read anything else on this blog, you’ve probably noticed that they are currently our favorite place.

Our next Sunday in we remark to Scott, “So we hear you’re getting a pig!” It turned out that Scott and staff we not getting one pig, but two- the first for charcuterie, the second for cooking, AND they were planning to do a special tasting dinner in its honor, one could say a “roast” of sorts. That was it, we had a reservation. On a Monday night in August, about 50 people gathered at elements for a 9 course tasting menu.

Oh my. We had both been a little leery of a 9 course pig dinner, since both of us have food quirks of sorts and there are all sorts of things we just don’t do. And we knew that this was an amazing opportunity for Scott and Joe and the elements staff (as well as Alex and Aki from Ideas in Food) to try out all sorts of pork preparations and we had no idea what would end up on our plates. Oh, and by the way, they were going to do this with community seating- large tables with other people. Considering we like to sit in the kitchen AWAY from other people, this was going to really be an adventuresome evening!

We get to elements separately, since I was coming from work, and the Husband from home. The first thing I notice when I walk in is that it’s hot. And I don’t mean kitchen-going-full-steam-all-burners-on-high hot. I mean A/C not working hot. SO not a good sign. We do not deal well with hot. We decided to try and make the most of it and go out into the car as needed and just do the best we can. (It turned out the A/C in the men’s room was working but the lights were not even working in the ladies room, so it was lit by candlelight which only made things warmer!) We staked out a table and then waited for the evening to begin. We chatted with some folks, some who sat at the other end of our table, some who we knew from The Plucky and were delighted when Michael came to sit with us for the evening!

There were passed hors d’oeuvres, some of which we got, some we did not. Fried green tomatoes with green goddess dressing- yummy, I wish those had come around again. Smoked lardo on crostini. I’m afraid that this, and “on kimchi chip” are the extent of my notes from the evening. From the pictures taken by Shola on the elements blog, I know that there were also radishes with lardo. Fried clams with a dipping sauce. Pulled pork on cracklings.

The first course was “mangalitsa and melon charcuterie.” A platter of assorted charcuterie, including pate, cured ham, sausage and what we were told was incredibly good head cheese, was just delicious. An assortment of mustards, pickles, bread slices as well as three different kinds of melon- canteloupe, honeydew and another canteloupe-like melon rounded out the course. Everything we tasted was terrific. We don’t have much of a basis for comparrison since those are not the types of meats we usually eat, but everyone seemed to enjoy it all and not a slice of melon went back to the kitchen from our table.

Next course was “Smoked uni, “hot & sour soup” gelee, tomato.” Smoked uni was a new one for both of us, and not something I have any need to eat again. It’s an interesting texture. The soup gelee was also an interesting texture. The tomatoes in the disk were incredibly good and I did love the taste of the soup and tomatoes but this was definitely our least favorite course.

“Green bean and beet salad, ham gribiche” was the third course. Yum. Served family style, the salad was brought out on a platter. Two different kinds of beans, yellow and green, were lightly dressed atop a pile of gribiche which I believe was just a fancy name for cracklings. On top of all that were diced beets and shaved truffle. Oh, yum! I’ve never been a big fan of beets but this was delicious and I even had a second helping. Sweet and tender, against the crunch of the beans and the gribiche which gave it some amazing flavor.

“Pork belly, stone fruit, tamale.” I wasn’t sure how we were going to like this course. Pork belly is really just crispy fat. In this case, really tender, meltingly creamy, fat, but fat none-the-less. I think it was Michael, though, who called it the fois gras of the pig. And he’s right. It’s a fairly similar texture, one that many people don’t like. But on the mangalitsa, the fat is something else entirely. The mangalitsa that elements was working with had a two-inch thick layer of fat. Think about that for a second. Two inches of just plain fat. And here they was sliced and seared it, served it with a stone fruit sauce to cut the sweetness, a small but oh-so-tasty corn tamale and a mole sauce that was just out of this world. I couldn’t finish my portion, it was just a touch too much for me, but it was absolutely remarkable when you consider what went into it.

“Italian sausage & peppers, garlic bread sauce” was the next course and with a garlic bread sauce, it made me wonder just what it would be. It was sausage stuffed into a pepper and served atop some tomato sauce with exactly that, a garlic bread flavored sauce. It made you want a piece of garlic bread to mop it up with but we made do with the ever abundant and delicious basket. They always have such tasty breads and that night was no exception.

“Preserved lemon cavatelli “carbonara”” was the pasta course. Served with sous vide egg yolk that was the most yellow and creamy. I almost want to buy one of those immersion circulator cooker thingys (and yes, that’s the technical term!) to make eggs like that! It was really a sensational dish, with all the flavors and textures coming together nicely.

“loin & leg, fixins” was how the next course was billed and it was here that we finally stuffed ourselves silly. Fixins was an understatment. Small cast iron pots were brought out, with each hiding a new delight. First some mushrooms. Then ratatouille. Some sweet corn. A platter of leg and loin meat. Some sauces, a salsa verde which was tangy and tasty. A cucumber shrimp slaw, which I don’t remember trying. But by that point I was so full it wouldn’t have mattered much.This was really where the taste of the meat itself shined through. It didn’t -need- any of the accompaniments. Just by itself it was probably the best pork loin I have ever had. But the fixins blew it over the top. The mushrooms were out of this world; the corn had to have been picked that day. Every element (no pun intended) worked on its own, and they all worked well together. I would have loved to have a doggy bag to have taken the leftovers home. It would’ve made a hell of a lunch!

The first dessert was “Bacon and Eggs” which is a traditional dessert at elements, usually served as part of the chef’s tasting menu. For tonight, though, Joe wasn’t content to just serve up a Mangalitsa version of their regular bacon and eggs, though I can imagine that would have been amazing. Instead we got bacon and eggs milkshake served in hollowed out eggshells with little mini straws with scoops on the end to ensure you could get every drop. I’m not big on bacon, but this was insanely good. Like seriously. Oh, and instead of a plate, they used a piece of the cardboard egg container.

The dessert itself was “honey glazed ham ice cream, pineapple, pork crackling “cracker jacks”” that seemed to be a riff on your typical baked ham dinner, cherry sauce included. Definitely not something I would order on a menu, but not something I would turn down if it was put in front of me. The ice cream really  tasted like sweet ham.  And the compressed pineapple and cherry sauce was just a terrific counterpoint. The crispy cracklins were a bit too porky for me, so I gave the last bit to the Husband as I settled into a near food coma.

It was an absolute pleasure to get to spend this evening with Michael and hear more about his pigs. They really are some of the tastiest meat I have ever had the pleasure to taste and the staff at elements and the folks at Ideas in Food came up with some great ways to showcase not only the flavors of the pig, but everything else they served with it. I usually don’t order pork when we go out to eat, but should I ever see Mangalitsa on the menu, I don’t think I could turn it down. It was truly an incredible evening.

At the end of the night I went over to Scott to thank him for the wonderful evening and suggested that they have Mangalitsa hash on the brunch menu the following Sunday. The Husband and I figured that it couldn’t hurt to ask, and Scott then seemed to think it was a good idea. That was some of the best freaking hash either of us has ever had. Holy wow.

I can’t wait till they’re back from vacation.

Some links:

to elements blog with pictures by Shola

Jay’s Strange Blog which I found while looking for pictures/posts to help fill in my memory.

Holy Hash!

  • Posted on August 16, 2009 at 2:38 pm

Brunch at Elements today was incredible. My lovely wife made sure to ask Chef Scott Anderson for an encore of the Mangalitsa – a Sunday brunch dish of ham, purple potatoes, foie gras, eggs and hollandaise sauce. Spectacular!