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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Christmas Fun -- Cupcakes to Kimchi!

Every year we think about all of the happenings in and around NYC, and we think about doing some of them, but inertia sets in, or the scheduling doesn't work out, or we just forget what we wanted to do. So this year, our family made a list of things to do over the Christmas break. We wrote up our list on Thanksgiving Day, while the season was still ahead, and while we had a lot of energy and time to think about them. Some of them were things we do every year -- we have a Christmas Eve fondue party, and get our santa fondue forks, and we put up our tree and reminisce over the ornaments we collected.   This year we made cookies and banana bread and shipped some off to family and gave them away to friends.  We went to see the  Big Apple Circus, walked along Fifth Avenue to ooh and ahh at the decorated windows, and zipped over to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the Cubism show and the annual Christmas tree with the angels and the wrap around nativity, and worked on a jigsaw puzzle.  But one of the most fun things we did was take a trip to Flushing, Queens, to check out Korean Barbecue.

We were inspired by NYTimes article: In Queens, Kimchi is Just the Start.  In Manhattan, there is a neighborhood called Korea Town, and we have some favorite restaurants and other shops that we frequent regularly. (Kate loves the makeup stores!)  But The NYTimes article mentioned a whole new world of exotic fish and seafood, traditional barbecues, and a mix of restaurants that are off the beaten track for most New Yorkers.  So we decided to make a day trip and head out to Flushing to see what the fuss was about.  This may not sound like a big deal to those of our readers who have cars and who think nothing of driving an hour or two to visit relatives or enjoy some local recreation, but for Manhattanites, taking the Number 7 train to the last stop and then walking for another 15-20 minutes in an out-of-the-way neighborhood is the height of adventure. Add to it that winter set in pretty quickly this year, and we were really feeling intrepid.  We took the train to the last stop (it's about an hours ride from Manhattan, and got out in Flushing, which is well-known and frequently visited if you want to try some traditional Chinese fare.  Then we set out walking, with our cell phone maps in hand.  We walked through residential neighborhoods, with Christmas decorations still in the windows, and some Christian churches that catered to the Asian community.  Our destination stop: Mapo Korean BBQ -- according to the article, this was the place for grilled short ribs.  Trust me, we were not disappointed!

Mapo Korean is a small restaurant with about 6 tables. We were the only non-asians having lunch there.  We ordered two Korean Barbecue meals -- more than enough food for four of us, and we added a side order of dumplings because we love them so.  The waitress brought out the hot charcoal in a pan and paced it inside the hole in the table and covered it with the grill.  The meat went on top, and then all the sides and condiments came out.  Delicious kimchi, corn pudding, lettuce wraps, macaroni salad, pickled cucumbers, bean paste, cabbage, and more.  Half the fun was trying to remember which items we tasted and liked and then trying to find it again!

Sadly, we couldn't eat another bite, so we started the trek back to the train station.  On the way, we stopped a grocery store, where we spent another hour trying to decipher ingredients. We ended up buying some frozen dumplings and some condiments to take home. We didn't want this day to end!

Nothing says Christmas like Kimchi!


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Non-traditional Thanksgiving Dinner: Let them eat Steak!

It will come as no surprise that we are a little "non-traditional" in our little family here in NY, far from our extended family and relatives.  Over the years we've sort of taken pride in feeling a little like pioneers, out in the wilderness, making friends with the natives, and adopting our traditions and lifestyle to reflect our adopted surroundings.  Our Thanksgiving dinner this year captured our eclectic nature.
Although we live just a few blocks from the Thanksgiving Day Parade route, and we have ventured out in years past to try and catch a view of a few floats, our normal strategy is to try and stay as far away from the madding (or maddening!) crowds.  This year we started off the day by catching a subway at Columbus Circle and heading up to our favorite AMC movie theater (with reclining leather seats) and we went to see the latest installment of The Hunger Games (Mockingjay, part 1). Yes, we did catch the irony here, but it didn't stop us!)
We arrived home in the early afternoon, which gave us enough time to finalize cooking our dinner. Since we were not eating turkey, we didn't need to be home all day.  The kids had asked, please can we have steak this year?  Of course, with all the sides!
So here is our non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner, 2014.

Filet Mignon with a scoop of melting blue cheese
Mashed Potatoes (no gravy in sight)
Roasted vegies - squash, brussel sprouts and baby carrots
Cornbread stuffing (or dressing, since it wasn't actually stuffed into anything) with bacon, celery and onions

We did stick with tradition and have several desserts.  I enjoyed spending the day before Thanksgiving baking a pumpkin pie, a lemon meringue pie, and a fallen chocolate souffle cake.  I'm a firm believer that there should be something for everyone at Thanksgiving, and with whipped cream for pie and vanilla ice cream to balance out the chocolate, we pretty much had all the bases covered.

Big question is: what will we do next year?


Traditional pumpkin pie
Lemon Meringue Pie

Fallen Souffle Cake (aka -- chocolate!!!)

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Lemon-Lovers Birthday Cake and Birthday Week Celebrations

In our home, we celebrate birthdays for a whole week. It started when Glen and I were first married, and living far away from family.  Sometimes gifts and cards would arrive before our birthdays and sometimes after, but it always felt like more fun to have an extended celebration, rather than just one instant when we unwrapped gifts. (And what about if you didn't actually like the gift you received? That's a different story!)  So we started a "Birthday Week" tradition.

In the beginning, Birthday week usually incorporated some type of theme, and part of the fun was guessing what the theme was.  Pre-k (Pre-kids) we usually did something every day that involved being out of our apartment -- theater, dance, window-shopping, walking along the river, or something along those lines. When we had children, the themes were often around super-heroes or princesses, and involved getting little items each day, like a Barbie Pez Dispenser, or a funky eraser for a pencil.  As our children have gotten older, it's been harder to do theme weeks, but the gifting has continued.

We just celebrated Dash's Birthday Week, which included tickets to see Aladdin on Broadway, a birthday party at Escape the Room NYC, and making (and serving) his favorite lemon cake -- a four-layer cake, with lemon curd filling, lemon buttercream icing and more lemon curd as the decoration.

There's a back-story to this lemon cake...When Kate was in middle-school (and in her "I'm going to become a pastry chef phase") she decided to make this cake for her soccer team's season-ending party.  There was no convincing her that brownies or cookies, or even a cupcake version of this cake would be easier to take to school and probably more in line with what 12 year olds would generally like to eat. But Kate had her heart set on making this recipe, which takes about two full days from start to finish (it's straight out of the Martha Stewart Baking cookbook - enough said!) and so we spent the weekend baking and assembling the cake, and I also had to run out and find a cake carrier, so she could transport it to school on the bus.  During the soccer party, one of the teachers took a slice out of the cake, and Kate brought the rest of it home.  She was so sad that no one appreciated all of her hard work (the brownies and cookies other kids brought were all eaten.) But Dash was thrilled -- he loves lemon cake!  He was very excited that Kate brought home the leftover cake, and had visions of eating it for days. He came home from school one day, all excited to eat leftover cake, but it was gone -- after keeping it a couple of days in the fridge, Glen tossed it out. Dash has been talking about it for years, and when we asked what cake he wanted for his birthday, this won hands down.



Sunday, May 11, 2014

You can go home again...Savor SLC

I was lucky enough to attend a conference in SLC a few weeks ago, and went on a food & architecture walking tour put on by Savor Salt Lake City. It was really fun to walk around downtown Salt Lake and remember shopping with my high school girlfriends, but also seeing all of the changes. And the best part about it was learning some tidbits about local stores and business owners that I never new before.

We liked out with a beautiful day to walk, and were able to sample some local (and popular) eateries along the way.

Here's a sample of some the things we "savored" on our tour.

Firs top, the Lion House for fresh-out-of-the-oven soft rolls, with honey butter on the side.  Just the smell of these brought back memories of kneading dough with my mom, and later, teaching my kids how to make our own bread. 

I was skeptical that Maxwell's East Coast Eatery could deliver a real "NY Style Pizza" but by the time I even got my camera out, more than half of our pie was gone. The most popular dish is the Fat Kid pie, with pepperoni, spinach and ricotta. Definitely beats any one of the Original Ray's pizza's I've tried in Manhattan!

The Market Street Grill is well known for introducing fresh seafood (it's loan in daily) to the meat n' potatoes crowd.  I'm not a fan of clam chowder (I can never get over the texture of chewy fish like clams, lobster and shrimp) but one bite of this creamy concoction made me a believer!

A visit to Caputo's Market is a must for any visitor (according to our tour guide.) I wasn't all that interested in visiting a deli, but this is not like anything I've seen before. We sampled some cheeses from the Cheese Cave, and toured the "largest selection of chocolates anywhere in the world."  I was so hooked that I ordered some of the Truffled Asiago Cheese once I returned to NYC, and I even sent my mom a mother's day gift basket.

Even with walking in between all of our food stops, I was sure I couldn't eat another thing, and then we stopped at Bruges Waffles & Frites for strawberrycrème fraîche covered waffle.  This seasonal hole in the wall storefront has grown to multiple locations, and I can see why. I think on my next trip to SLC I'm going to sample the "Torpedo Waffle", which is stuffed with Belgian Chocolate. Oh, and if you want savory instead of sweet, there are Belgian Frites well as waffle sandwiches, omelets and hot dogs on the menu. soon can I get back home again?

- Marcia

Friday, April 4, 2014

Rustic cooking with friends at Rustico Cooking in Manhattan

How do you combine business and pleasure in the same evening? Sullivan & Worcester law firm solved this issue by hosting a women's event at Rustico Cooking in NYC. During the course of the evening, we were able to meet some fabulous women, network with each other, and cook together. We made our own dinner, and then dined together afterward.  And guess what? Cooking is a lot of fun when someone else has done most of the prep work, cleans up around you as you go, serves you the food and then cleans up afterward. Oh, yeah, who wouldn't like cooking this way?

Our delicious menu:

Homeamde Cavatelli with roasted mushrooms and asparagus
Mediterranean Sea Bass with pine nuts, olives and raisins
Roasted vegetables in tarragon-scented oil
Braised chickpeas with spinach and chili
Limoncello and Berry Mousse

I'm hoping to get invited back for a second round.



Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Umami Burger

Umami Burger (pronounced ooo-mommy burger) is not your typical burger joint.  Remember the Burger King song? Special orders don't upset us...that is not the case here.  In fact, Umami Burger prides itself on creating just the right flavors -- partly sweet, partly salty -- so that your taste buds deliver just the right "umami" taste in your mouth. On their menu, they say trust us - no substitutions allowed.

So, is it worth it? Oh, yeah.

There are several different variations of burgers to try, each one with a distinct combination of spices, crunchiness and toppings, and delicious in their own way.  The truffle burger is a must-try -- with house-made truffle cheese and a truffle glaze.  Other favorites of ours are the turkey burger, with crushed avocado and green goddess dressing, and the aptly named Umami Burger, with mushrooms, caramelized onions, roasted tomato, parmesan crisp and umami ketchup.

And the umami sensations don't end with the burger, they go right into salads, sides, and desserts.

The craze started in California, and there are now locations in NY, Nevada and Florida.  The Greenwich Village/NYC location is a favorite of college students, and anyone looking for a good-time burger.

OOO mommy!


Monday, March 31, 2014

Cheers to Growing Up.

     Hello, everybody.
     I recognize that it has been a looooong time since I wrote about my experiences and eateries on 1000 Places. I haven't quit writing, not a chance, but I have typed myself into one of two extremes: college essay-writing and texting. I would argue that I barely have time to myself anymore, my mom would agree but add, "you finished all your homework, right?" and my dad would agree but add, "STOP TEXTING YOUR BOYFRIEND." So I've typed, talked, and texted myself into a corner with all my schoolwork, college and scholarship applications, job work, home work, and the incorporation of friends, family, church, and relationships into that whole entourage. I'm also trying to figure out time travel because 1) it looks great on a college app/scholarship essay/resume, and 2) it would give me more time to get everything else done. Don't get me wrong, I love my life, I just wished that I could live on a little less sleep than I do now.
     So the bottom line is not an apology or excuse, just a statement of fact: I've been crazy busy this year.
     Now without further ado or slight procrastination, I shall try to put a storytelling spin on the various events of my life up to this point.
     It is my senior year of high school. I am on the last legs of public school, forever. (On a side note, in November my friends and I threw a cooked carrot slice from the school lunch and it landed precisely between the light fixture and the ceiling. It is still there with no sign of bugs or decay. I have no comment on cafeteria food at this point. I have seen it all.) I have even begun a countdown to various days such as the weekend, Spring Break, Prom, and Graduation to keep myself from going insane with senioritis.
     The biggest thing right now is the big fat fork in the road of my existence is…College: the make or break decision of the next four years of the rest of my life. I applied to the Brigham Young University in Utah, Idaho, and Hawaii, Penn State at Abington, and Hollins University in southern Virginia--an all girls school. It was a very long and grueling process, but I am honored to be a part of the wonderful Hollins women when I attend this fall. I first heard about Hollins through my mother. It started with just a business opportunity. She met one of the alumni for the school through my little brother's boy scout program. I was touring some schools, and we added Hollins to the list because it would look good for my mom's work to have me tour the school. I was happy to help, because hey, a road trip with my mom and it earned brownie points for her. But I wasn't planning on applying there. And then…well…I just fell in love with the campus. I loved what the school had to say about individualism, and how they opened their arms and walked towards me, saying, "We want you for our campus" rather than opening their arms and saying, "Are we the right campus for you?" So I am thrilled to attend their campus in the fall, armed with scholarships and a series of Gone With the Wind jokes. Though I should probably lose the latter before I accidentally offend someone on Accepted Students Day.
     I never got to finish my Costa Rica experience, and here's why: I kinda sorta dislocated my knee while hiking in the jungle. It's been eight months but my closest friends are still shaking their heads at my story and sighing, "you klutz." I dislocated my knee while hiking, and had to be carried out by my camp counselor and a French man, then rode a horse back to a car, which took me to a clinic in the nearest city. No, it was not romantic, I was in pain, but the French man had very nice hair. I had surgery soon after I returned to the states, and I really missed the home-cooking of my host family. I must say, the plantanos, eggs with cheese, and rice and beans were some of my absolute favorites. There were also these weird looking fruits whose name I keep forgetting, but they looked like the product of a strawberry and a sea urchin. They were very good but also the weirdest fruit I will ever live to see.
      Right now, I guess, I am in a kind of limbo. I'm so close to graduating, close to going to college, but the only thing I can do is just keep on doing. I am actually really looking forward to dorm-life, care packages and having a closet instead of a drawer. Note how all-night parties were not on that list. Unless it's a "party" with that huge research paper due tomorrow. Okay, let's be realistic: of course it's going to be a Hannibal marathon.
     I have also made my dad promise to send me his homemade bread periodically. My mom has already pre-titled herself as "care package mom." My brother is scared because he things his every move will be under scrutiny by my parents when I leave.
     I will miss a variety of things that every college student will miss at some point: family, home, and their family's home cooking. I am definitely commandeering some recipes for the way.
     Try as I might, I really cannot predict where in the world my life will take me. Hopefully all over the world, to law school, to the entertainment industry, and hopefully my loved ones will tag along. But I don't know. I just don't. Keeping this blog for the past four years has been a great learning experience. I had a great outlet for my writing skills and it's been great sharing my stories with my mom, with food, and with everyone else. This is not goodbye, goodness no, but this is an acceptance of my changing life. This is an acceptance of my growing up.

So cheers.