Tuesday, September 29, 2009

wake up and smell le café

Morning sweet peas... Happy National Coffee Day! I am actually sipping cup of home-brewed café as we speak, in honor of the holiday, you know ;). I usually have green tea in the morning and would love (in theory) to be a tea girl all the way, but as much as tea houses are lovely, coffee and coffee shops also hold a special place in my heart. I drink mine standardly full-bodied with a splash of milk. Do you drink café? Have a preference? Mmmm, I adore the aroma.
This past Sunday my sophomore year roommates and I planned to go down to the Apple Festival. Unfortunately,  J, had too much work and couldn't make it, but that didn't stop K and I from heading south and deeming our trip a date day. It rained. the. entire. time. How romantic ;) We each got a cup of energizing coffee to start of our day in the less than ideal weather.
On the bright side, Applefest wasn't at all crowded because of it. We were able to maneuver our easily through the applelicious stands and go in and out of the cute shops in downtown Ithaca.
We also bought a cup of hot spiced cider as mid-morning comfort. I am so happy to be enjoying the fall season finally! I really missed it last year.
Early afternoon we were feeling quite hungry, and slightly wet, so we ducked into this cute neighborhood restaurant. I was particularly fond of the local art they had displayed.
I had an avocado sandwich on whole-wheat with a side salad and she had a pesto chicken sandwich on Ithaca-baked bread with roasted mashed potatoes. We were both pleased with our choices and even more happy about the $15 bill. Gotta love a cheap date :).
Next, we ventured back out into the commons area for a little wine tasting. We tried a smooth Cab and heavy Merlot at the vineyard stand above (located in Alexandria Bay where I was a few weekends ago) and apple-infused wines at the one below. The Apple-Cranberry wine was great, K bought a bottle.
We also split a generous portion of hot apple crisp with ice cream. It was so beyond delicious and, because of my light lunch, I enjoyed it so thoroughly. We then went to the movies to get dry again :).
We passed by a beautiful waterfall on our way to the theatre along with a gorgeous lake, and trees with changing leaves. Ah, if only there really were 500 days of Summer (or Autumn).
I really enjoyed it and it was showing at the most perfect time too, by the time we got back into town, Moosewood was open for dinner. I was so, so, so unbelievably excited.
We each started our meal with a beer flight of local beers which actually ended up being a too much for us lightweight female individuals but we dealt with it ;). My favorite was the Pale Ale.
For my meal I ordered a delightfully fresh house salad and the Sicilian Stew.
Oh my gosh my dears, I know I say this often, but this was incredible! Chopped fall vegetables, fresh mozzarella, herb-infused polenta in a flavorful tomato and parsley base. I completely cleaned my plate.
My predictable date, K, ordered the spinach lasagna, and although she raved about it as well, did not even get close to finishing it. The poor thing is getting over the flu and has had a weird appetite.
Good thing they offered these adorable and ecologically-friendly take-home containers!
But in the end, with K being the way she is, and I being the way I am, we decided to order dessert anyway. We split the vegan chocolate cake and enjoyed it a la mode Moosetrack ice cream. Yum. What a sweet day with one of my best friends. I can't wait to venture down to Ithaca with her again.

Monday, September 28, 2009

little bro

Two days ago, my little brother Jorgie turned 17. He celebrated, as most teenage boys would, at a party with friends. Last weekend, however, my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins came over for a family lunch and pre-birthday family fiesta. We love that kid.
This photo was taken during my high-school senior week... now, he's a high-school senior and applying to colleges all around the counry while I'm nearing college graduation and the real world. How time flies! It amazes me how much he's really grown up in the past few years.
Anyway, back to last Sunday. Between the chicken wings and nachos, my parents definitely placed appetizers with him in mind. I also made sure that there were crudités as well though and enjoyed quite a few handfuls with homemade salsa.
In another hour and a half, lunch was served. We began with Italian bread and my Aunts' salad.

Then helped ourselves to platters of Sausage and Peppers, Baked Ziti, grilled vegetables, Penne Vodka, and Filet Mignon. I had a large plate of salad, vegetables, and Penne Vodka (my sister and I's pasta dish of choice) for a delicious lunch. Soon after, I thought of the boy, diligently studying in the Bronx...
and made him a large plate too. Later that night I brought it down to him along with the remaining full platter of Baked Ziti. Him and his roommate could not have been happier!
Next, of course, came the dessert. We had a selection of brownies, cookies, and donuts.
And cake! My dad bought this particular one from Häagen-Dazs and thus, 'twas scrumptious. My whole family is all about high quality ice cream cake ;).
Happy belated (I called him the day of but it's belated for today's blogging purposes) Birthday Jorge! I hope this next year is the best one yet.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

...ce soir?

..Ce Soir? I remember when the only French I knew was that of the Moulin Rouge song. Um, yeah. Anyway! Last night I said goodbye to two of my visiting friends from France (to clarify: they are American but study at universities different than mine). It was the oddest thing, I couldn't even take it too seriously because it felt like it was the way it should be, all of us together again and always, but I suppose that is a good thing... I can get rather emotional ;).
We went to the Strong Hearts café for dinner, which is where I took this rather blurry photo so you could get a glance at the menu :) It was a slow night there so we made our orders at sat at the large round table in the center, seemingly perfect for our group of five.
To start I had a cup of the soup of the day, a Pumpkin Curry that was scrumptiously creamy yet a tad under-spiced. I think it may have been the fact that some people can't handle heat, however, so I didn't judge too harshly ;) I loved it.
Then I had a pressed Roasted Vegetable Sandwich on pumpernickel bread which I was equally as enthusiastic about. I also just have a thing for roasted vegetables, fyi :). My friends enjoyed the a few BLTs, a grilled "cheese" with avocado, and a Martin Luther King (mocha "milk"shake).
Following some light conversation and eating, Liz made her way back up to the front to choose dessert, and she was up there for a while. There is quite the sweet vegan selection :)
She settled on a Mahalo bar, (mahalo = goodbye in Hawaiian); I didn't try it, but I heard good things. I think it is equally as important to add that she would have gotten a Chocolate-Pumpkin cupcake instead, but they were all out :(.
Afterwards we went home, got pretty, and dressed up for our formal-ish house party. There was both drinking and dancing involved although I predominately chose one over the other :). It was so much fun, like really great, and even more friends from Strasbourg joined us...  now would be the point where I get in the "I miss them already" sad phase. I can't wait until they return in November!
To avert my attention I would like to point out Liz's feathered headband that her roommate made. I think it's beautiful and I've decided that I must now visit Baltimore in order to buy one for myself :). Furthermore, I don't really have that much time to be sulking this morning: K and I are going to Ithaca for Applefest and to the Moosewood restaurant for dinner. It was supposed to be three of us, but J (my other former roommate) has too much work to do so we decided to have a date day :) ha, it will be fantastic. Too-da-loo!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

the sweet and sour tastes of home

Hi darlings, I apologize for not posting yesterday... my European traveling companion, Liz, is visiting from Baltimore and I was playing host. We went to yoga, made a Mexican feast with more Strasbourgeois and are looking forward to the weekend ahead. One that will include a trip to Ithaca for Applefest and a Moosewood Restaurant experience.  But before I get ahead of myself, it is time for the third  Plate from Around the World featuring a globetrotting friend of mine, Helen, (or Helena since she lived in lived in Chile with me.)
NingBo, my birthplace  is famous for its red bayberry. It is the kind of special berry that only exists in the province of ZheJiang, where Ningbo is located. I call them "the Pearl of fruit", because it’s the real treasure of my hometown.
Every summer from June to early July, you can see people going to the Bayberry farm every weekend for the fresh fruit. It can only be hand-picked at the morning before sunrise, and it will turn sour once it fall off the tree and touches the ground, you lose the sweet and fresh sense of the Pearl.
They are SO good that I couldn't help myself to bring 4 cases of them home to share with my dear family. My dad said its totally worth the money of the plane ticket just to have such heavenly taste, and more importantly, the taste of home.
I love berries and these sound amazing! Have you ever been to China? Tasted "the Pearl of the fruit"? If you'd like to participate in this Plates from Around the World series please email a description favorite place, and your favorite foodie memory from there, along with a few photos of the place/food itself or those that were taken nearby to aroundthworld340@gmail.com. Thanks in advance, I'll be back soon with weekend updates!