Monthly Archives: March 2011

Spring Soul

I figured I’d better go blog and listen to French music before I eat my weight in waffles…

We just received an old-fashioned tiny squared waffle maker (the best kind, or at least my personal favorite), from a friend.  Naturally we had to dive right in and give it a try, and the vanilla buttermilk waffles from the Clinton Street Baking Company cookbook did just the trick.  We ate them simply with butter and syrup but I am already dreaming of the next couple times we make them in the future, with strawberries, a little whipped cream and chocolate shavings…then chicken and waffles (which the Clinton Street book also provides a tasty looking recipe for)!  Sigh

For the past week and a half (and counting), I’ve been fighting with a pesky upper respiratory intruder of a bug.  It’s nasty.  I’m hacking and blowing left and right, downing emergen-c, tea, sleeping with a humidifier, keeping CVS in business, popping a colorful array of meds and keeping a box of kleenex attached to me at all times.  It’s not pretty but it’s kind of fun to make baskets into the trashcan with the balled up tissues and my scoring rate is actually quite good.  The postnasal drip and annoying chest cough have given way to laryngitis and transformed my voice into a sort of sultry, raspy cabaret voice, so I basically sound like Lauren Bacall which is kinda cool.  That’s about the only upside to this…whatever it is…Some way to greet spring, huh?

Things I am Loving right now, in spite of being sick:

  • John Legend’s cover of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” – it adds a wealth of raw soul to an already incredibly soulful song.

 

  • Reading The Taste of Country Cooking, by the late Edna Lewis.  It’s a seasonally structured book and begins with spring, so I figured it appropriate to be reading the spring chapter and her picturesque descriptions of nature and food are the perfect thing to read to lull me to sleep at night.  Her writing, which is about the down to earth food she grew up with in Freetown, Virginia and how it was the thread that bound the community together reminds me a lot of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House on the Prairie series that I grew up with.  Reading about skillet wild asparagus, wild strawberry preserves and crispy biscuits are just the thing to get me amped about spring.  And even though it’s considered more of a late summer dish, reading Ms. Lewis’s simple but elegant prose inspired me to make her blackberry cobbler the other night.  Blackberries were on sale and I’ve desperately missed fruit cobblers during these bitter cold months, so I set to work.  The only adjustment I made was substituting lard for butter (since I don’t have lard and didn’t feel like trudging to the grocery to bother the butcher at the meat counter).  This “cobbler” is more like an informal double crust pie and  I continue to be intimidated by dough, because I almost always overwork it (once I add the water, it’s all downhill from there).  However, I refused to let that deter me, for I was on a mission.  Luckily and much to my surprise, it turned out beautifully, bubbly, syrupy and golden brown.  I enjoy mine with a generous scoop of vanilla bean ice cream (the hot and cold contrast is essential).

  • Seeing Robins and other birds hopping about the yard, which has suddenly turned a vibrant green, having the windows open and seeing Bradford Pear trees, cherry blossoms and rosebud trees in bloom everywhere.  The distinctive change of smell in the air that just smells like spring – especially during an evening thunderstorm.  Spring in North Carolina is truly beautiful.

 

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I Left My Heart in Greece and France (or in Miami).

I was going to go workout but instead, I’m blogging about how I am currently craving hot cross buns and how one of my newest discoveries and vices is vanilla ice cream with warm nutella sauce and mixed berries.

Spring is springing up all over the place and I am loving the sight of the bradford pear trees and cherry blossoms, coupled with warmer weather and more sunlight.  I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of spring and summer produce and a day that is warm enough to justify making Magnolia Bakery’s Banana Pudding (my favorite).  Also dreaming of open windows,  strawberries in salads, corn on the cob, succotash and growing fresh basil, mint and other herbs on the front porch (and wishing I weren’t devoid of gardening skills).  One of my goals as the weather grows better, is to start composting.  It’s something we’ve been discussing for awhile now but I think it’s time to put it in action.

 

Since I’m finally caught up with last summer’s New England road trip, this past Christmas trip to Miami now begs some attention.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had a magical dinner at Mandolin Agean Bistro, an exotically authentic Greek gem hidden in the up and coming Design District, on the outskirts of downtown Miami.  The setting was straight out of a tour brochure for Santorini and if we hadn’t known any better, that’s exactly where we could’ve been.  It is owned by two Greek men and a little Turkish woman and the interior of the restaurant is in a petite house from the 1940s, that appears as if it were airlifted from Santorini.  The rustic walls are white with a rich cornflower blue trim, fresh flowers and mini lanterns adorn the tables in and outside in the picturesque, romantic courtyard.  Imported cans of olive oil and Greek sea salt also decorate each picnic table and beautiful old trees create somewhat of a canopy over the patio, adding to the whimsical ambiance.  I imagine that any meal would be sublime at Mandolin, but for the best experience, a lantern-lit dinner is surely the best.

It was hands down the best Greek food I’ve had – fresh and clean and intensely flavorful.  We started with the Kefte – grilled beef and lamb meatballs and the Greek Village salad – watermelon, capers, red onions, olives, cucumber and green pepper, drizzled with olive oil and topped with a generous triangle of the best Greek Feta, unlike anything I’ve tasted.  I ordered the chicken kebab with orzo pilaf and maroulosalata  (torn romaine lettuce with a touch of lemon juice and dill), and it was fantastic.  Jay ordered the lamb kebabs and my parents shared the pasticcio, both of which were equally delicious.

Dining at Mandolin was the closest to Greece I have traveled and only makes me that much more excited to visit Greece as soon as I possibly can.  But until then, I can eat at Mandolin.   I also befriended a waiter from Tunisia who complimented me on my eyebrows.  That was a first for me.  It was only after our conversation that I was keen to the political turmoil and upset that is occurring in Tunisia right now.

 

Another magical dinner in lieu of a birthday celebration took place at a similarly authentic, petite restaurant in Coconut Grove, called Le Bouchon.  Le Bouchon is a vibrant and busy little French bistro spot with French fare so good you’ll forget you’re in Florida.  Upon entering Le Bouchon, you are greeted with a complimentary glass of champagne, so even if the food is a disappointment, at least there was champagne!  (The food is not a disappointment).  And how can you possibly go wrong with free champagne?  How many other restaurants do that?!  There was a never ending flow of red wine and we munched on baguette wedges with butter and began with a charcuterie plate of pate, prosciutto, saucisson, brie and onion jam with little cornichons and some spinach salad.

My sister and I shared the chicken fricassee with morel mushroom risotto and a parmesan biscuit and good God I am still thinking about it.  It was rich and creamy and I don’t even want to think about how many calories it took to make that dish, but it was heavenly and so worth it.  For dessert, we had buche de noel, since it was Christmas time and I have never had it before and was curious to try it.  It was tasty but paled in comparison to the rest of our meal.  The finale also included cafe with cream and magic tricks and lot’s of laughter.  It was the whole family celebrating together over a delightful meal and it was one of the happiest, memorable meals I’ve had.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*More to come soon!*

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