A Couple of Tarts

We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink, for dining alone is leading the life of a lion or wolf. ~ Epicurus

Monday, May 29, 2006

Calamari Canalside

The start to my own summer may not have been as classy as Dora's, but I've decided that if I can't be living it up in Paris cafes, the next best thing is munching on calamari and french fries, drinking a cold beer and watching the boats go by with my sweetheart, RFC, on a sunny Sunday afternoon. This weekend was all about Long Island and I was introduced to the canals of Freeport. We spent a leisurely few hours by the water and it was a fabulous way to kick off the summer (cuz, man, I think summer has definitely arrived in NYC!). The calamari and fries were suitably greasy and we even scored a frisbee from the Coors Light ladies who were making the rounds. Fortunately, neither one of us actually had to drink the "beer."

Sunday, we even fit in a walk through a Japanese garden tucked away in the western part of the North Shore. And to round out the weekend, I also got a taste of Long Island diner culture, which I have heard so much about. We grabbed a bite at the Carle Place Diner. It has the chrome siding outside and you can get breakfast for dinner! I opted for lunch for dinner. A chicken salad sandwich later, I was probably a little too full, but otherwise very content. Although I stick by the assertion that I would never live there, RFC is doing a good job showing me a fun time when I am in Long Island. But ssshhh, don't let that get around!


Saturday, May 27, 2006

J'adore Paris

Bonjour Tous!

I cannot find the words to express how much I love Paris. My husband and I spent 2 glorious days there. I will try to recount the beauty, the richness and (of course) the food that we experienced. We arrived in a jet-lagged daze to the hustle and bustle of a typical Parisian workday. The first thing on our agenda was le petit dejeuner. What is better than coffee and bread? Back home, we are used to a simple start to our day--a delicious bowl of Kashi. Being able to indulge in a tartine and a croissant is a most wonderful treat. The taste is amazing, is it the butter?

It has almost been 10 years since my last trip here, and I was curious to see if I would recognize the sights and sounds from my first time. Also, I would have a first-time perspective from my husband. He has a fondness for the European sensibility, but how would he fare in Paris? I was hoping he would love the city and joie de vivre that has enchanted me since I was a young girl.

I guess it is inevitable to have a few unpleasant experiences, but I find it unkind and unfair to make sweeping observations about certain cultures. “These people are so rude,” “The food is awful in that country,” “They are so loud and obnoxious.” I like to follow my parent’s example. They are seasoned veterans and enjoy the fact that they are guests when they travel. For those of you that know my mother, she can be quite…. particular (but only in the most loving manner). You have to leave certain habits and expectations at home. Travel with an open-mind, respect and allow your appetite to guide you.

Our first evening, we would be dining at Au Bon Acceuil in the 7th arrondisement. It came highly recommended, but also came with the warning of being frequented by mostly Americans. This would be a problem if the restaurant was a tourist trap, but the food and ambience were exquisite. Yes, there were many English-speakers, but they were well experienced Americans dining next to well heeled Parisians. We were able to savor the elegant cuisine and décor and there were no fanny packs or chanting of “USA.”

The balance of texture and flavor was even apparent in the potato puree that accompanied our main course. It arrived perfectly proportioned in a small cup. The color was the palest yellow unspoiled by herbs or seasoning. The body was light yet possessing enough body to carry immense flavor. It must be the butter. By the time we had finished dessert, I could feel the affect of our wine--A beautiful 1990 Chateau Fonbel Saint Emilion. As we stepped out onto the sidewalk, we were overwhelmed by the sight of the Eiffel Tower. It was decorated with thousands out lights and made a stunning ending to our evening.

Au Bon Accueil
14 rue de Monttessuy
tel: 01 47 05 46 11
metro: Pont de L'Alma

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Travel by Association

Sigh...I am eagerly awaiting Dora's return from France. That is, if her husband can get her back on the plane to the States. It seems my own overseas adventures will be curtailed this year due to lack of funds, so I will be enjoying travel abroad vicariously through my friends.

Dora--can't wait to hear about how you ate your way through Paris!

Friday, May 19, 2006

An Indian Treat

Mother's Day has come and gone and sadly my only contact with my own mom was a phone call to LA. Fortunately, I will be traveling to California next month for my baby brother's college graduation and will get to spend a week in the Bay Area! Then I will get some much anticipated time with the fam. And some time to visit with friends, drop by a few of my old haunts, eat Mission tacos, and pay a visit to the expensive but fabulous Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market. But more on that in another post...

I did get some Mom-time via S.'s mom's visit from California. S. is Indian and her mom is an amazing cook of foods of all kinds. I have had the pleasure of eating numerous meals at her house when we were in college and later when we lived in SF. They have run the gamut from Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings to Indian dishes with a lot cheesecake and waffles in between. If you come over for dinner and are lucky, you'll leave with a few of her famed tin foil packets filled with good things to munch on at home.

S. had made a special request for her mother to make Indian food during her visit and so she came armed with an arsenal of spices. We were the lucky recipients of an Indian dinner of seasoned green beans, turkey kofka (meatballs) and rice with toasted cumin seeds. For dessert, there was chai and Indian sweets, penda and gulab jamun, straight from San Jose. I jotted down the recipes for the green beans and kofka and plan to attempt them myself. The green beans were flavored with all the usual Indian suspects, but was given an added crunch by the addition of urhad daal (white lentils) which had been toasted in oil with mustard seeds. The kofka was out of this world and it seems for me to recreate it, I will be taking a trip out to Jackson Heights to purchase something called asfoetida. From the little bit of research I have done, it is a root from which resin is extracted, dried and used in Indian cooking. It has some colorful names, including Devil's Dung, and can be used to cure flatulence!

Now, I love Indian sweets, which I think is not always the case for people who have not grown up eating them, partly because they are usually incredibly sweet. S.'s mom brought S. and her brother's favorites. S. loves penda to the point that she won't share with anyone. Penda (sometimes called peda) is made with khoya (which I think is akin to condensed milk) and sugar and then flavored with pistachios and cardamom seeds. They are shaped into small patties. S.'s brother's dessert of choice is gulab jamun, which are like donut holes soaked in a sugar syrup. I think I may just have to get my own assortment of treats when I go out to Queens.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Introducing Dora & Karen - A Couple of Tarts...

I am the last person to start a blog. I have a healthy dose of computer phobia and in my 33 years I have been unable to keep a journal. The idea of a diary was always appealing--beautiful little book with lovely paper that contained my profound thoughts and momentos. It wasn't until I moved to a small, Southern town that I rekindled my desire to write down my thoughts. After living in the Bay Area and NYC, I now find myself adjusting to a very different life. The one thing that hasn't changed is my love and passion for baking and cooking. I have tried to quit the restaurant industry and find a "real" job, but a civilian life is not for me. I am happy to share this blog with my friend Karen who has shared so many food experiences and adventures with me. I hope you will enjoy my perspective on food and travel and the people, sounds, and sights that I will discover.

Like Dora, I also trace my culinary roots back to the Bay Area. In fact, it seems Dora and I lived parallel restaurant lives for a bit while working in San Francisco. Looking back, I think it was inevitable that we would eventually meet and work together here in NYC. Our California-centric dicussions during my first few months on the East Coast definitely eased my transition into New York living, while at the same time annoying a few of our native NY coworkers (oh, well). I also quit the restaurant industry, but I don't think it will be getting me back like Dora Instead I rediscovered my passion for food and cooking now that I don't have to make creme brulee every day of my life. My other passion is to travel and the two go perfectly together. Our hope is that this blog gives Dora and I a chance to share and discuss our discoveries with each other and with our friends.

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