Come along and experience my adventures in eating, sightseeing, walking, talking, seeing, sleeping and anything else I find interesting or odd. My blogs are posted on 2 different sights, "i heart london" and "I heart paris".
[First Stop - London]
November 14 to 19 - To follow my "i heart london" blog, click here and bookmark
I depart Newark Liberty on Monday, November 14 on Lufthansa with a connection in Frankfurt. I will be in London until Saturday, November 19. On this trip I used frequent flyer miles so my trans-Atlantic flight is in First Class. Living the good life! On Lufthansa, First Class seats fold flat into a bed so I hope to get a bit of sleep in addition to some good food and service. I really enjoyed my First Class trip to Australia on United earlier this year!
What's my plan in London? I will be in London for 4 days and since
this is a business trip, I will spend almost all of my time shopping
and looking for inspiration. I also plan to venture out of the city to
Cambridge and hit a few tasty restaurants. This is my 8th trip to
London. On this trip I will be staying at the Kensington Close Hotel.
My first visit to the Kensington Close was in 1981. This is my 4th
visit to the Kensington Close and I am sure it will be equally as
comfortable. Click here for my Kensington Close experience from my trip in November 2004.
[Next Stop - Paris]
November 19 to 27 - To follow my "i heart paris" blog, click here and bookmark
flying to Paris in the morning on Saturday, November 19th. This is my
eight trip to Paris so I think I know my way around pretty well. I'm
excited because on this trip I decided to rent a small studio apartment
on the rue Rivoli in the Marais. I love the location! This is my first
time renting a Paris apartment. I rented a small studio with
kitchenette, washer/dryer and seating area for less than a single room
in an average hotel. I love the idea of being a "Parisian" for a week.
Since it's the holiday season, I love wandering the streets looking at the decorations, display windows and holiday treats. If I have the energy, I may also take a day trip to Chartres. But, anyone who knows me will understand that my first priority is eating, second is shopping and if the weather is cold or rainy I might even dare to enter the Louvre! I will depart Paris fro Newark on Sunday, November 27th.
While I am blogging remember a few things...
Hopefully this will all work out and I will have time to publish my daily journal so please JOIN ME on my "Voyage grand vers Paris et Londres"!
Sorry I haven't had any updates! Who has time? I got stuff to do....
I'm planning my Paris and London vacation over Thanksgiving week. I've rented this apartment, but still don't have airline tickets.
I am thinking about buying this townhouse. Check out the hidden Miele dishwasher and Viking stove in the photo gallery!
My friends and I ate at L'Ecole at the French Culinary Institute on Saturday and I want to post our report. The food was great and the price was right! The photos came out horrible.
On Tuesday morning I am leaving for a few days in Dallas. Dallas is the only big American city that I've never visited. Is my life complete yet?
After Dallas I am off to Los Angeles and until next Wednesday...
and... My Mother is coming in September so I have to start cleaning NOW!
Who has time for cooking? I ate dinner at Wendy's tonight!
Is it wine blogging Wednesday again? It seems like just yesterday that I reported on my Noblio Sauvignon Blanc for "Off-Dry Wednesday hosted by Basic Juice (he also has good taste in making restaurant recommendations in case you're going to Salt Lake City). Another Wine Blogging Wednesday means only one thing, another month of Summer has passed.
This months theme is "Drink Local. Real Local" and it's hosted by the founded of this game, Lenn of LENNDEVOURS. My first thoughts are, oh my god, you're not going to make me drink wine from New Jersey are you (obviously I live in New Jersey)? I had a vision of drinking a pink glass of sweet Boones Farm Cherry Hill. Isn't Cherry Hill in New Jersey? Wasn't Boones Farm the place where the aliens from War of the Worlds first landed in New Jersey?
The first think I did is go to my local wine outlet, Shoppers Vineyard, in Clifton and with a bit of embarrassment I asked, "Do you have any wines from New Jersey?" I informed the sales associate that I needed one just for a joke. Certainly there can't be any good wine from New Jersey, can there?
I was pointed towards a bottle of Alba Vineyard, 1999 Heritage, New Jersey Table Wine. Table Wine? Doesn't New Jersey even have a wine appellation or an AVA? Maybe not. It's just New Jersey grown and raised. I am hoping that this "joke" is a $6 bottle but it turns out that it's $14.99. Oh well, for the good of the program, I buy it.
Alba vineyard is located somewhere in western New Jersey near the Pennsylvania border and Delaware River. The winery is in a historic stone barn built in 1805. They have a full facility including a tasting room and gift shop!
[now the wine]
First of all the label is very nicely designed and distinctive. This could make Alba a good gift from Jersey, if you happen to vacation here (why?). The color of the wine is about as deep violet as you can get. When I hold it to the light I can barely see light through it. I am not good with the nose of the wine but I do smell oak and cedar. Maybe licorice.
The first sip is actually pleasant. The taste is unique. Now I know it's not Boones Farm. The depth of flavor unfortunately doesn't match the depth of taste but the wine still has a nice aroma and light body which reminds me of a Beaujolais but more spicy and more oakey with and earthy taste
According the Alba's web sight, the 1999 Heritage is made of 85% Marechal Foch (huh?), 10% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine was cellared in new American Oak for 12 months. The say the wine has a pronounced flavor of black cherry, spice and hints of mocha and licorice. I would have to agree since I could taste each of those flavors. Just to note, 1999 was one of the worst drought years in growing history for Alba. That's reassuring!
[in my opinion...]
This wine was a good discovery and I can see it going great with strong cheese, a lamb burger or even a herbed pork chop. I bet it would be great with any kind of BBQ too. I would definitely buy this wine again and even consider it for a unique gift from New Jersey to my friends in California. I am looking forward to trying it the second day after its been open for a while. It's a keeper!
Not to ruin a good moment but Alba also make a blueberry, raspberry and apple wine in addition to Chardonnay (from east coast grapes), award winning Riesling, Pinot Noir and "Vidal Blanc" which is similar to a chenin blanc. Some of their wines are made from grapes grown throughout the east coast.
Anyone who knows me, knows I am not a big fan of fish (especially when there is skin on it). So when I post a fish recipe, it's gotta be good and have broad appeal. I'd say this one has "broad appeal". Yesterday I went to Corrado's in Clifton and picked up a big cod filet. It was about a pound and a quarter and enough to feed me for 2 nights (or 2 people for 1 night). I thought I would make one dish on Tuesday night and a different one on Wednesday night. First of all I have never made cod at home so this was to be an adventure. My choice was Cod with Lime Sauce, which is what I made the first night. On the second night I kicked it up a bit and added some finely chopped chili peppers.
So where does the champagne come in? Well the recipe calls for dry white wine but on Sunday night I stopped into a wine store in The Village and they were having a big sale on Freixenet Spanish Cava. Cava, sparkling wine, champagne or spumante, its all good. Hell if you want to use a white wine that's good too, but doesn't a champagne sound more elegant?
This was "New Jersey" night for me because I also ate this meal with some fresh Jersey tomatoes (best in the eat!) and fresh grown Jersey green beans and a glass of Alba red wine which is made in New Jersey. OK, red wine with fish, I know that breaks the rule.
Here is my recipe;
Chili-Lime Champagne Cod
In a non metal reactive bowl (use ceramic) mix together the lime zest, champagne or wine, lime juice and garlic. Mix together and add the fish and marinate for 30 minutes.
After marinating, remove the fish from the bowl and shake off all the garlic and other bits.
Strain the marinade into a bowl through a fine strainer to remove the garlic, chili bits and lime zest. If you don't have a strainer, pick out as much of the bigger stuff as you can.
Put the juice in a pan and reduce on the stove top until you have about 3 tablespoons. If you want a hotter taste, add some very finely chopped green chili bits to the lime juice as you reduce. Be careful they are really spicy. I would use no more than 1/4 of the chili.
In the meantime...
Warm a non-stick skillet (I always use cast iron) and add a coating splash of olive oil. Once the oil is hot add the fish filets and cook over medium heat for about 4 minutes. After 4 minutes turn and cook another 3-4 minutes until cooked through and opaque. If the fish finishes before the rest of the food, put it on a plate and stick it into a warm oven. Be really careful not to overcook.
One the fish is near cooked, add about 3 tbsp butter to the reduced lime juice and stir in until it get a bit thick.
Plate the fish on individual plates and spoon some of the lime sauce over the filets.
Serve with buttered green beans seasoned with sea salt (use unsalted butter).
The perfect beverage to serve with this meal is the same champagne you use in the marinade or sparkling mineral water with a wedge of lime.
I also ate some sliced tomatoes that I simply drizzled with fine Italian extra virgin olive oil sea salt and parsley. I don't know if I loved the parsley but you can also use basil, pepper or even a drizzle of balsamic vinegar along with the sea salt. I like to use chunky crystal or flaked sea salt because you get those little "bites" of salt. I don't think its as good with standard table salt.
Has anyone noticed that I eat a lot of green beans?
I've been so busy but I really wanted to get this recipe posted before the blueberry season ends. I love this dessert for a few reasons. It's easy to make and is a real crowd pleaser (not that I ever have crowds at my place). The nice part about this recipe is the natural blueberry flavor. The blueberry base has no sugar, just lemon juice and a small pinch of cinnamon. The only sugar in the recipe is the 2/3 cup in the dough.
This cobbler tastes good warm from the oven when it is juicy and runny with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream. For a different experience enjoy it cold the next day when the juice gets thick and syrupy.
Summer Blueberry Cobbler
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Put the blueberries, lemon juice and cinnamon in a deep bowl or casserole and mix together.
Add the soft butter and sugar to a medium bowl and mix for a few minutes until blended. Add flour, salt and baking powder a small amount at a time and mix until crumbly.
Add milk and continue to mix until the batter becomes a thick lump of dough. Scoop the batter by heaping spoonfuls on top of the blueberries. It should cover the entire top.
Bake in the oven on a baking sheet (to avoid burning if the juice spills over) for 1 hour.
Let stand until warm. Serve with ice cream, creme fraiche or whipped cream.
558 Broome St (@ Varick Street) | NYC | 212-226-4399
Subway 1 (Canal Street)
A few weeks ago I tried to go to Ivo & Lulu but they were a little slow to open so I had to postpone my visit. Some friend and I had our hearts set on going to L'Ecole at the French Culinary Institute but we couldn't get a reservation so I suggested Ivo & Lulu (our reservations at L'Ecole is in 2 weeks).
We dashed to Ivo & Lulu after seeing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on Times Square and snagged one of 3 remaining tables. It was actually a table for 2, but we squeezed in. If we had wanted to wait for a larger space, it would have been at least 45 minutes. We were starving so we took the available small table. Shortly after we sat the balance of the tables filled up and people waited outside.
[what do you call this neighborhood?]
Ivo & Lulu, this is a strange little place in strange little neighborhood right near the Holland Tunnel. It's is a very casual little restaurant which served French Caribbean food at very reasonable prices to people who seem to be "in the know". Why else would anyone come into this neighborhood except to enter the tunnel on the way to Jersey? From what I remember the walls are painted in a yellowish ochre color, table have bright plaid table cloths and the walls are trimmed with a framed print here and there. I found the restaurant to be a little dimly lit, so bring your glasses if you have trouble reading menus! Ivo & Lulu also have the smallest shoebox kitchen I ever saw. I complain about my 10'x12' space and can't seem to make a meal for myself with out tripping over my own feet. How do these guys do it with half the space?
The menu at Ivo & Lulu is very inspirational. At first glance it seems to have a lot of French style classics. Once you read further, you'll see that they are kicked up with Caribbean spices and fruits. Besides for the flavorings, the best part about the menu is the prices. Starters run around $7 and main courses ate in the $15 range. You can't beat that!
[ready to eat?]
For out starters we ordered a baked apple stuffed with Camembert cheese, a warm pheasant pate with truffle oil & rum in an brie crust and a gratin dauphinois. I think the best one of the three was the pheasant pate. The dish was spiced pheasant meat baked in a small casserole topped cheese and a crust. We ate it on french bread although you could have ate it alone. The potato dauphinois was good but didn't earn any star rating from me. I thought it was a bit soupy, but we enjoyed it anyway! The baked apple with Camembert was interesting. The apple was soft and sweet with gooey Camembert in the center. It was dusted with powdered sugar but seemed more like a dessert than a starter.
The main courses were tonight's star. I ordered duck breast and I don't remember the exact price but all the main courses were around $15. That's a great price for duck breast! Ivo & Lulu's also used free range poultry so it make the price even better. My duck breast was served in a Caribbean spiced citrus sauce that was really delicious. It had a rich flavor of allspice and nutmeg. The duck breast was cooked perfectly with just the right amount of fat and skin. It was very rich and tender. The duck breast was served with a side of lyonnaise type potato which was good but a bit salty.
My friends ordered the broiled chicken breast and the duck leg confit. The confit was prepared in the typical French style but served with a spicy mango jerk sauce that was sweet and spicy. It was served with some mixed mesclun greens. The chicken was sliced thin, more tender and juicy than most. It had a light, creamy papaya sauce drizzled on the plate, but not overwhelming, the chicken wasn't swimming in it. The chicken had been marinated in something smoky and salty. Gave it the taste of bacon. Very flavorful. In addition, there were a few other interesting main courses such as rabbit sausages and wild boar sausage soaked in blueberry sauce.
[byob and dessert]
One of my favorite parts of Ivo & Lulu is that it is the BYOB. There is no corkage fee and no wine glasses. This is rustic, you drink your wine out of a regular water glass. No big deal. We really enjoyed our bottle of Pagor California Tempranillo. This wine has hints of chocolate and cherries. You don't often find a California Tempranillo. The grapes come from 30 year old vines in Madera County in the Sierra Foothills.
Dessert at Ivo & Lulu was nothing special. We got a chocolate gateau and an apple tart. The apple tart was sort of like an apple crumble layered with cinnamon and crumbs. It was moist and had a sweet apple flavor. The chocolate "gateau" was a dry piece of cake dusted with powdered sugar. The word "gateau" was a little fancy for chocolate cake that tasted like it was made from Madame Betty Crocker.
[hunting for dessert]
After eating the unsatisfying desserts, we decided we would go somewhere else for dessert and set out to look for a place with profiteroles, which I always crave. We thought we would try L'Express on Park Avenue South. It was a nice night and we decided to walk. We never did reached L'Express but when we walked past Otto in The Village my friend talked us into go in to try their "olive oil gelato".
click to enlarge
Olive oil gelato, that's odd. Adding oil to a fatty product like gelato seems a bit decadent, doesn't it? Well, it was actually quite thick and rich, maybe the thickest gelato I ever had. The gelato was drizzled with a bit of olive oil and had a light floral flavor. The cream and oil coated your mouth and left a smooth aftertaste. I think it was about 8 bucks for a small dish. That has to be the richest and most expensive scoop of gelato I ever ate. We didn't eat in the restaurant, we just perched at a table in the bar area.
I was still craving profiteroles but we ended our search because after the gelato we were pretty full. Maybe next week...
[in my opinion...]
Ivo & Lulu is a good find, the prices are right, it's informal and the food is excellent. Don't expect much for atmosphere or neighborhood, it's all about the food and the BYOB! Service is polite and friendly but not accommodating, they really won't mush over you. I recommend that you arrive early or else you can expect a 45 minute wait. Ivo & Lulu does not take reservations. I give them 4 hearts based on food only, excluding the desserts, atmosphere and service.
There are a number of reviews for Ivo & Lulu online, if you do a web search you will get a few. Be sure to search as "Ivo & Lulu" not "Ivo and Lulu".
Greenwich Village | 253 W 11th St (@W 4th St) | NYC, NY | 212-229-2611
Subway 1 (Christopher Street)
Menu check out menupages.com. It will give you a good idea, but it doesn't list everything.
It's summer Fridays at work and I left early today to wander around in the city. I also had my mind set on having a meatloaf dinner at Elephant and Castle. After wandering without cause for a few hours I walked past Tartine on West 4th street and there was barely anyone there. I thought I would take advantage of an early seating since it's usually impossible to get a spot without waiting later in the evening.
I know it's a bit early for dinner but I am hungry anyway so I inquired about a table. Maybe I was a bit too early and was informed that they were serving coffee only and don't start dinner service until 5:30. I decided to walk around and come back. I was almost sidetracked by the Corner Bistro but I still can't imagine why people get so excited about their hamburgers. I don't really like hamburgers for dinner. Sooner or later I will try The Corner Bistro's famous hamburger, but maybe for lunch.
I arrived back at Tartine at 5:30 sharp and got one of the last tables on the sidewalk. It's hot but not humid outside and although I would prefer to sit inside where it's cooler, I don't want to be mushed into a cramped corner. When Tartine get busy the seating is very cramped.
This is my second visit to Tartine, I hope it's as good as my first. Check out my first visit here.
I am surprised to see that the specials menu isn't too much different from when I was here a few weeks ago. Today I am ordering my starter from the standard menu and my main course from the specials. Call me crazy but it in the upper 80's outside and I am ordering onion soup gratinee. Why not? Maybe it will heat up my body temperature so I cool down. The soup is served classically in a stoneware bowl and is topped with melted cheese (of unknown origin). The cheese is nicely browned but not too crusty. The onion broth is tasty and has a good amount of onion and french bread but lacks that sweet caramelized and brown sugar depth of flavor, although it did taste sweet. Unfortunately, it didn't help to cool me down.
I can't remember the exact name but for my main course I ordered a pork cutlet dish. I generally don't order pork in a restaurants because it is often overcooked and dry. Tonight was no exception. I'm not sure if it was pan friend or broiled, but the dish was beautifully presented. That was about it as good as it gets. The pork was pounded flat and cooked with what seemed to be finely chopped scallion and garlic. On the side was a potato galette and an arugula salad. The potato galette was salty and greasy and the arugula salad was "very arugula". I say "thumbs down".
[in my opinion...]
This wasn't as god as my last visit here but it wasn't horrible. I am skipping dessert because last time I was here with friends I thought they were all bland.
Total Bill $23.30 (excluding tips).
I wouldn't let this one dish stop me from returning, but next time I will be more cautious. Truthfully, I really wish I would have went to Elephant and Castle for the meatloaf.
[a sweet finish]
After I left Tartine I walked around the corner and treated myself to some choclate at Lilac. If you haven't been to Lilac you should try it. Their chocolate is really homemade and has a very rich flavor without being over-sweet. I think it's one of my favorite chocolates (after See's Chocolates, of course).
Lilac Chocolates | 40 8th Avenue | NYC | (212) 924-2280
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This morning after I woke up I had my usual 2 cups of tea to help me rise. When I was ready for my third I remembered that I had 1 corn muffin left over from Saturday's breakfast that I saved for Sunday. When I went to the kitchen I could not find the muffin. I search all over the counter top but it was no where to be found. Out of curiosity I opened the top of the trash pail and there it was, an empty plastic storage bag filled with nothing but remnant crumbs. Did I eat that before I went to bed? I don't remember, but occasionally I do eat a ***snack*** before going to bed. Maybe that's when I ate the muffin. Yes.
From that point I never gave it a second thought.
It's now past midnight and I went upstairs to go to sleep I washed up and headed for the bed....
On the nightstand was an empty package of Almond Joy cookies. I these found in the refrigerator the day before. I bought them before I went to Salt Lake City. I put them in the refrigerator because it was hot and I thought they would taste good cold, but never ate them. On Saturday when organizing the refrig, I found them and remember thinking, "what a nice treat those will be later".
Later was right. Sometime in the middle of the night I woke up like a little zombie, went downstairs, devoured a corn muffin and took the Mounds cookies upstairs and ate them in my sleep.
At least I threw the corn muffin bag in the trash.
I am very disturbed by this.