Morning, sunshines. Today I've got yet another Plates from Around the World guest to welcome: Miss Mackenzie. This lovely lady is one of those wonderfully unique and warm souls that forever inspires me with her eloquent words and artistic eye. Like myself, she has found a new home away from home, and has done it so with such grace. I hope you enjoy her guest post as much as I do!
Saturday, March 31, 2012
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Last night, I met my cousin for dinner at Kaia Wine Bar, an absolute gem of a oenophile locale. I couldn't believe I'd never been there! Being that I love wine bars and it's so close to both of our apartments... but such are the challenges of living in New York, I suppose.Anyway ;) I'm infinitely glad she'd suggested it. In an attempt to convey how wonderful of a place this was, let me share a little background information courtesy of the venue's founder, Suzaan: "Kaia means 'hut' in South Africa. Spoken in our eleven languages - warmly it refers to our home... I hope you find a place at my table and enjoy yourself as if you were in the kaia where I grew up."
The same Suzaan who wrote the words above and opened the South African wine bar was also our server last night. We began with drinks first. Wine, of course. It was a beautifully warm evening so my cousin wanted white. When she couldn't figure out which one, Suzaan poured her three Sauvignon Blanc samples to help her choose. As for me, I was craving red (as usual) so I ultimately decided upon the Mooiplaas Pinotage. It was probably one of the best red blends ever. Seriously though. I enjoyed three generous pours.
As for food, my cousin and I agreed this was the place to familiarize ourselves with South African cuisine and were eager to try a variety. Thanks to her pre-dinner Yelp review research, we were quick to order the first two plates. We began with botterskorsie en salie (butternut squash, ricotta cheese, and sage "toasties") and buffel frikadelle (bison meatballs with gravy and celery root purée).
Both dishes were beyond delicious, so savory and flavorful. Alongside them, we also enjoyed traditional South African bread--first dipped in extra virgin olive oil, and then in a blend of seeds. Afterwards though, we found ourselves still hungry.
So we asked Suzaan what she thought we should order next. Trouble was, after raving about most of the choices on the menu, she declared that we were basically asking her to choose her favorite child :). We eventually went with the vark ribbetjies met wortelslaai (bbq baby back ribs with carrot salad). So, so good! The many multicultural influences in South Africa have obviously created a delectably unique kitchen. Dinner at Kaia Wine Bar could not have been more perfect.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
According to the ever-dependable Wikipedia, the word "pot-luck" first appeared in 16th century England meaning "food provided for an unexpected or uninvited guest, the luck of the pot." These days, in my own life, it has been reinterpreted as an economical occasion for my foodie friends and I to come together and share creatively prepared dishes and an exchange of laughter-filled stories.Our latest potluck was at Leslie's (the same location of our first potluck, albeit at her former apartment on Wall Street). Plans were made over a flurry of emails--figuring out the date and time, deciding upon who was going to bring what, and sharing hysterical snippets about our day-today lives in between.
I brought a vegetable dish inspired by Pinterest. The recipe caught my attention because of its simplicity and seasonal ingredients, even if it was framed as an Easter Side Dish on Cooking Light; I blanched fresh asparagus, sliced cherry tomatoes and sautéed them in garlic, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar, then placed together and topped with sea salt, fresh ground pepper, and crumbled goat cheese.
Later that night, I filled my glass with wine and helped myself to the array of our delicacies. Anna prepared the classic Veganomican Pineapple Cashew Quinoa Stir-fry, Rebecca whipped up a perfectly light potato salad, Sarah contributed Monkey Bread and fresh feta cheese, Shayne made an awesome beet hummus, and our wonderful host Leslie served quite the delicious red cabbage side.For dessert, Megan brought fresh whipped cream to top her festive Chocolate Guiness Cake, Sofia somehow created better-than-Momofoku compost cookies, and Shayne offered her second contribution, a truly delightful date bread. I obviously had more than a few bites of everything, the decadent cake especially.
By the party's end, I was so completely satisfied with the variety (I am a mezze fan, after all) and even a little bit wine drunk (notice the teeth?) after arguably one too many glasses. I wouldn't have had it any other way. We'd entertained ourselves with conversations of books and bat mitzvahs, new jobs and bad dates, plans for summer fun and reflection on childhood oddities. Although we're arguably each at distinct points in our twenty-something journeys, I'd say we're pretty darn lucky to be able to have formed such a friendship at the table.
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Remember how I said making a special breakfast ensures a good morning? Well, going out for breakfast, especially on a Monday, makes for a great one.Yesterday, my roommate Catherine and I began our days at the whimsical Alice's Tea Cup. Why? Neither of us had been yet. Plus, she has a few days off as she transitions from her old job to a new one, and I often work from home anyway.
Inspired by afternoon tea at various restaurants and hotels around the world, this adorable tea room offers a nearly overwhelming assortment of teas. It took me a while to choose but eventually I decided upon the classic Alice Tea.'Twas a wonderful choice. This house blend of Indian black Vanilla tea with Japanese green tea and rose petals was "smooth and subtle." And, according to Alice's Tea Cup, was brewed to perfection in 180 degree double-filtered water.
For my entrée, I opted for Alice's Florentine (sautéed spinach and poached eggs atop buttermilk scones and served with a side of mixed greens). It was an incredibly clean-feeling breakfast--a quality my body enjoyed greatly after a very social weekend--and. I loved the scones (good not great).
I also love the story of Alice and Wonderland. In sixth grade, I played the role of the White Queen in our school play, and now, I want to watch the movie again. Hoping to fit it into this busy week! Either way :) a little magical insight for you...
"Alice: This is impossible. The Mad Hatter: Only if you believe it is."
Monday, March 26, 2012
Where was I? Ah yes. Last weekend. Best friend. Oklahoma City and beyond. (For those of you who are not quite caught up, please read part one first).
On Sunday morning, we packed up the car once more to drive back to Oklahoma. First though, we stopped in Muenster (apparently the German capital of Texas) to see Katie. She recently moved to the area to be with her boyfriend.Since he "felt like cooking" (he's a chef and even worked at Stone Barns for a while--which is how the two of them met), he prepared a delightful lunch: sautéed spinach, broccoli, pork, and pasta in garlic oil with lemon zest and fresh parmesan. It was ridiculously better than my own one pot/pan meals. Then, they showed K and I around their very rural, charming, and beautiful home.
The tour included a visit to Katie's boyfriend's family's ranch. They have an incredible amount of land and the most amazing, eclectic cabin. Take a look:
It was so, so nice to see it all (especially Katie, of course). If we'd had more time, I would've loved to have gone hiking or perhaps even wine tasting.
At least we had good reason to leave when we did. K and I had to get to Tulsa so that we could go out to dinner with her parents at the lovely Sonoma Bistro & Wine Bar. I literally adore her mom and dad, and the meal itself was delicious.
Then, we were off again! We had a date with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. What a fun show. I just love that we see live music every time I visit.
The following morning, after an extremely restful sleep, we went to breakfast at Queenies. We were appalled we hadn't yet eaten out for the best meal of the day; brunch fan as I am. Oh, yum. I cannot even tell you how much I enjoyed the Q-Hop (two buttermilk pancakes, one scrambled egg, bacon). Plus, K traded me some of her fruit for my bacon. All that plus coffee, I was one happy gal.
Mother Nature, however, wasn't feeling as sunshiny. It started to rain soon after breakfast, making for a mildly unpleasant drive back to Oklahoma City. At least we got to spend time with three very cute kids (K's family friends) in between :).
Once back to K's house, we took restful time to recharge until dinner. Being that it was my last night, we set out for a "just the two of us" dinner date at Cafe Nova.On the menu for me: a slice of fresh bread with extra virgin balsamic olive oil, a glass of Shiraz, a Super NOVA salad, and Maple Glazed Salmon topped with sweet potato chips, over quinoa, and with roasted green beans and artichoke. Delicious.
Afterwards, we returned to K's house for more wine and a movie, Like Crazy. I had been wanting to see the romantic drama for a while now, even just because the trailer alone was beautiful, and was pleased to find that the rest of the film was just as much so. It wasn't necessarily an uplifting movie about love (as I'd been warned) but it was so well done, and the story was so, so real. Not to mention that I was in an emo mood to begin with. Watching it with my best friend made it special, too. I went to bed with a full and happy heart.
Early the next morning though, I left Oklahoma City feeling both sad and lucky. Sad because I don't know when the next time K and I will be in the same city again. Lucky because I do know, no matter what, I'll always have her as a friend. In an attempt to end this post on a high note... I recently read that every close, cheery friend you have increases your own happiness odds by 9 percent (according to a study published in the British Medical Journal.) All the more reason to feel more lucky than sad, right? Definitely. Even if I do miss her lots.
Saturday, March 24, 2012
Hi darlings, hope you're enjoying your weekend so far! I hear there are good times (and some sun) to be had. Please welcome Aubrey as today's Plate from Around the World guest. She's an awesome blogger, culinary student, and all around great gal whom I was lucky enough to meet last year in San Francisco and dine with a few weeks later here in New York. Take it away, my dear...