Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Foodie Adventures

On the downside, it's been way too long since I've done a post. On the upside, it's because I've been out living my life!

Since I've left you all starved for an unnacceptable three weeks now, this will be an uber-long post that's a feast for the eyes (and I'll try to make some jokes, too).

I've had three wonderful adventures recently (well, three that I've photographed, anyway).

1. NEW YORK CITY: Manhattan, baby! The food lovers' capital. Jess and I flew in to visit our BFF Jesse for a whirlwind vacay spent soaking up Lower East Side hipness and tangling with more than a few Bloody Marys.

2. LE COLONIAL: Ah, French Vietnamese cuisine. Something I haven't enjoyed since leaving my beloved Hotlanta.

3. GREEN CITY MARKET OPENING WEEKEND: What I waited all (looooooooooooooong) Winter for. Although I learned a very hard lesson about seasonality - I'll explain later on.

But first, let's reminisce about the Big Apple!

We started with lunch at B Bar in the Bowery. The foccacia was to die for - and serving it with balsamic for dipping? I'm so stealing that idea. We had the most delicious deep-purple Sangria on the patio. It was the perfect way to shake off the almost-missed-our-flight jitters and really settle into living the New York City life. Jesse had to work for the afternoon, so Jess and I headed to SoHo to - you guessed it - shop.

I had promised myself that I wouldn't shop, because - let's face it - there's nothing in New York you can't get in Chicago (or on the internet). But the second I set foot on Broadway, you would've thought I had never seen a store before. I dragged a severely caffeine-deprived Jess from store to store and forced her to buy fabulous things until she positively broke down and demanded espresso.

So we headed to Bloomingdale's (in NEW YORK!) for a couple of (tres chic) lattes.

One of many photos I took of the multitude of gorgeous fruit stands lining the streets of the city. I vowed to make a coffee table book of fruit stand photography from around the world (suuuure...right after I write my cookbook, become a famous Food Network personality, and solve the oil crisis).

We had a great, light lunch one day down at the Seaport, which is sort of like Navy Pier, if Navy Pier didn't totally suck. We were drawn into a New Zealand-themed spot with promises of a free Steinlager with every lunch entree (hey, who says New York is expensive?). We didn't want to over do it since our big dinner plans were at 6:30. (Why I made dinner reservations that early is beyond me. I can only claim a momentary lack of all worldliness.) But they were at the very popular and always-booked Pastis in the West Village, and I didn't want to spoil what promised (and indeed turned out to be) an amazing meal.

To really get us in the mood for le grande diner francais, we stopped into a little French cafe not too far from Pastis and had a couple drinks. It was impossibly cute. It really whetted my appetite for the REAL Paris [sigh].

Pastis is the perfect recreation of a classic, turn-of-the-century French brasserie, and that's because they flew in every last tile, coatrack, and napkin from Paris. Jesse saw Anna Wintour and her daughter there once (even more impressive considering Anna Wintour, by all accounts, does not eat).

The pictures of our meals are admittedly a little tourist-with-the-flash-on, but believe me, the food was stunning. And that was before I even put it into my mouth. My beef tasted like it had been roasting for about 11 years. I think I finally know the meaning of the phrase "spoon-tender." Jess had the chicken (poulet), and Jesse had the fish (poussin), putting my grand total of French vocabulary words at about 10. I'm pretty much fluent.

For dessert, we had the most luscious chocolate cake imaginable, drenched in ganache that could make you damn near weep.

J'taime Pastis!

On Saturday, we went out to Hoboken for brunch, where Jess' family had planned a surprise birthday celebration for her. We had a lovely Irish brunch at a place called Trinity. Hoboken has just as many beautiful piles of fresh fruit as Manhattan, it turns out. Not to mention a little thing called Water Ice ("Wudder Ice" if you're from Philly), which I tried for the first time. I'm not ashamed to say it was delightful.

The (very sad) morning of the day we left, we went to brunch (the consummate New York thing to do, in my opinion) at a Lithuanian place called Veselka. It seemed to be Lithuanian in ownership more than in cuisine, as they had not atypical brunch selections. I had a vey rustic, very photogenic, meal of poached eggs over grits. (Thank you, Veselka, for your abundant natural lighting.) We wandered around the block until we had to pack and say our goodbyes - a perfect end to a perfect trip.


Ross and I decided to celebrate nothing in particular last Friday with a nice dinner out. We wandered without a plan into the Gold Coast, and when I spotted Le Colonial (having recently developed an obsession with all things French, especially food), I knew that's where we should spend the evening.

Ross had the filet and shrimp, which was magnifique, and I had the seafood bouillabaisse, a brothy, saffrony concoction that was like a chefed-up version of Ross' frutas del mar we experienced in Costa Rica.

The cuisine at Le Colonial is French Vietnamese, which doesn't sound weird to you if you know anything about the history of French colonialism (which I didin't until I Wikipediaed it). It didn't take much to win me over. French food is delicious; Vietnamese food is delicious; I figured a meeting of the two could only be exponentially more delectable than either cuisine alone. I was right.

The other tantalizing thing at Le Colonial isn't found on the menu: it's the people-watching. Ross and I had a patio seat, and we were privy to the spectacle to several 60-year-old Ferrari-driving men of a more privileged ilk herding their impossibly leggy 22-year-old girlfriends into boozy nightclubs. It was like free dinner theater.


At long last, Spring! (Sort of.) It's still hovering in the too-chilly-for-my-Southern-blood 50's here, but the Green City Market kicked off the summer calendar this weekend. My interest in eating seasonally (and locally, for that matter) is usually eclipsed by my desire to eat aspragus, strawberries, and oranges in the middle of a January blizzard. Bat the Market, which is supplied only by local farmers, does not cater to the absurd demands of the hungry American public, pampered by the rainbow of produce from every corner of the globe available year-round in their local Jewel-Osco.

It was a huge disappointment. Apparently, not a whole heck of a lot is in season right now. There were a handful of potatoes and asparagus (which I grabbed), and some meat (I got some bratwursts), but other than that, the spectrum of edibles was severely limited. It is, however, flower season (I guess), so these few photos of flora will have to stand in for what I was hoping would be a mouthwatering fresh produce pictorial. I did buy a basil plant, which, given my track record with living things, is most likely doomed to a slow, withering death due to parental negligence, but we'll see how it goes.

I have a different famer's market trip scheduled for tomorrow, so hopefullly it will more...ahem, fruitful. So until then, enjoy the Spring flowers.

Sorry about the lapse in posts (all 5 of you who read this), but check back soon for a Sex and the City Movie Party Extraordinaire!

Thanks for reading!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Add me - reader #6 - Connie's friend Amy

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