Friday, April 29, 2011

Savannah Day 2 - Belford's, Architectural Tour and the Olde Pink House!

After a great first day we were looking forward to what our second day would bring.  On Saturday we made reservations (or attempted to) for Sunday brunch at Belford's right in City Market - a couple of blocks of shopping and restaurant in the historic district.

Belford's Patio Area
Arriving on the early side we were lucky enough to grab a table for brunch under the large awning on the patio.  While it was warm, there was plenty of shade and ceiling fans circulating the air, making for a lovely time.  We thought we were going to a champagne brunch but those tricky Georgia state laws prevent any liquor service before 12:30pm on Sundays, so it was just straight brunch for us!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Savannah Day 1 - Alligator Soul and Rocks on the Roof

I have been very bad about posting the past couple of days, but I have the legitimate excuses of being in Savannah for a long weekend followed by travel delays (thanks, United Airlines).  The wait is worth the reward, though, because I have tales to tell with tips on where to go when you head to Savannah, which you all (y'all?) should!

We stayed at the Marshall House, located right in the middle of the Historic District of Savannah. 

The Marshall House

Friday, April 22, 2011

"Panzanella" Salad - a great weekday go-to for any season

Panzanella Salad is something that Nick got me into when he and I started dating.  When we would make a salad to go with dinner at home, every time the meal ended and we were just sitting and talking we always picked around the lettuce and went straight for the croutons, carrots and cucumbers (who needs dessert?!)  After awhile, Nick enlightened me by introducing me to salads made without lettuce - who knew?  Turns out, he was well versed in the Panzanella salad universe because he made these quite a bit in college.  Overtime, this has become one of our go-to dishes when we want a light but satisfying meal.

Almost Ready!
Traditional Panzanella salad has stale bread soaked in water and squeezed dry, tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper - if the Italians were feeling crazy they would add onions and basil.  I've also seen recipes with raw bell peppers.  Not being a fan of a lot of these ingredients, we just basically took the idea of stale bread and a lettuce-free salad and ran with it!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ricotta-Spinach Tacos - A Taco of a Different Color

Marathon Meatless Monday was upon us, and since I unfortunately do not get the day off, Nick was willing to step in and find a new recipe, shop and cook all on his day off - I am a lucky girl!  Meatless Mondays can be tough just because it really does force you to look outside your comfort zone for meals.  Not really having a go-to meat or fish protein to serve as the base of your meal makes it difficult to narrow down where to even start!  Luckily, Nick keeps a giant binder of recipes that he's either printed out online or found in old magazines.  Inside, he found a recipe for Ricotta Spinach Tacos from an old Food Network Magazine, so we were good to go.

The Necessities...
  • 8 ounces of ricotta
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 white onion sliced into 1/2 inch thick rings
  • 2 4-ounce cans sliced green chile peppers, drained
  • 2 bunches of fresh spinach (about 1 pound) stemmed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 8-12 corn tortillas
  • Kosher Salt
  • Salsa Verde for serving
First step (as always in the In and Around Town household), the ingredients were prepped.

Sliced onion

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

City Table at the Lenox Hotel

In celebration of my engagement, my friends MR, AM and I headed over to City Table at the Lenox Hotel.  Both MR and AM were not sure where to go, but both somehow landed on City Table, and I was more than excited to try out a new place!  Having been to City Bar a few times I was curious to see what else the Lenox Hotel had to offer.

When we sat down we had to take quite a bit of time to review the cocktail list.  There were was such an amazing variety of options.  Sometimes I feel like a menu will be mostly gin or vodka, but not here: they had everything!  AM and I chose the to start with the Cool Hand Cuke, which had cucumber vodka, blackberries and pomagrante juice.

Cool Hand Cuke
This quickly has become my new favorite drink!  It was to die for - not too sweet, and the alcohol was not at all overpowering.  The cucumber vodka was refreshing, and then at the end you had some plump, vodka soaked blackberries to scoop out and enjoy.  If you go to City Table you MUST order this drink! 

MR ordered the Mango Mule, which had vodka, mango puree, ginger beer, and lime juice.

Mango Mule

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Lemon Rosemary Pork Medallions - a test with the other white meat!

Once again I was in need of a new recipe and I turned to Williams Sonoma Cooking at Home for inspiration.  I wanted to do something different so I went for a recipe using the other white meat - PORK!  While there were a couple of recipes that looked interesting, I decided to make the pork medallions with lemon and rosemary.

The Ingredients

Friday, April 15, 2011

Saus - Belgian Food in Boston!

Another place we have been looking forward to trying was Saus, a small restaurant with traditional Belgian street food that is right in line with the more "traditional" Irish Pubs.  The reviews of Saus have been great and I was ready to dig in, so a couple of friends met up with Nick and I to indulge a bit.

Our friends K and R had been there before and were super excited to see poutine on the menu.  Poutine is very Canadian, just like K and R (!), so when they say the poutine was the best they had this side of the Canadian border, that is high praise.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

A trip to 5 Napkin Burger - Finally!

This week I was finally able to indulge in 5 Napkin Burger!  After the failed lunch attempt and hearing all the great reviews, I was looking forward to having their burger and seeing how it stacks up to the competition.  They had been doing a lot of advertising in the area, including a contest where they looked for a Boston burger that would be included on their menu.  From what I could tell on Twitter alone, they got quiet a few creative entries.

The Original 5 Napkin Burger

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

An experiment with quinoa...

We're always looking for vegetarian inspiration: pasta and other "staples" can get a bit boring.  When I saw the recipe for quinoa veggie-balls on the Small Boston Kitchen (if you are not following it, you should be!) I bookmarked it for later, and later happened to be the most recent Meatless Monday!

I have not had or cooked with quinoa yet, so I was excited to see what all the hype was about.  I mean, nutritiously-speaking, it puts other grains to shame.  I was hoping I was going to really like this!

The Necessities...
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 6 large button mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 bag of fresh baby spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup onions, diced
  • 2 teaspoon pine nuts
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • Salt and pepper to taste

The Ingredients...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Zocalo Back Bay - A real Mexican meal

Another dinner out, another discount coupon, this time courtesy of Rue Boston.  I actually completely deleted the deal email when I received it, but it caught Nick's eye.  Recently, Zocalo opened in the Back Bay on Stanhope Street in the old 33 space, or at least a portion of the 33 space.  Always looking for good Mexican options in town, Nick and I decided to head on over and see how this meal stacks up.

I jumped right in and ordered a house margarita, which was good but not great, though I must stress that I am super picky about my margarita.  Next time I may try their Sangria.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Designer Beef Dinner at Home

Nick and I usually make Sundays a day where we cook a meal that takes loads more time and effort than normal.  Not really having an idea what to do this past Sunday, Nick started flipping through our new favorite cookbook, Williams-Sonoma Cooking at Home, to find some inspiration.  Thinking beef was a good path to go down, we settled on Herb-Crusted Beef Medallions, which is something new and different for our kitchen.  Normally we do not cook a whole lot of red meat, but we decided to try something new.

Dinner is Ready

Friday, April 8, 2011

Surprise Brunch at Mass Ave...

After two failed lunch attempts on Saturday (Towne only serves their burger for lunch on weekdays and the new 5 Napkin Burger isn't serving lunch yet), Nick and I found ourselves hungry and desperate for something to eat.  Having been to a number of Back Bay restaurants lately, we wanted something new, which is how we found ourselves walking into Mass Ave.  The space was transformed from the deep red room of Match to a living room/library feel in the new space, complete with a long fireplace.  They covered the red ceiling with dark slatted wood, creating an intimate feel. 

When we walked in the restaurant was basically empty, so needless to say we were seated straight away and were lucky enough to be able to sit in one of the comfortable booths lining the outside walls.  Within minutes of ordering our drinks we were served some coffee cake.
Coffee Cake

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ma Soba

Groupon strikes again! When it comes to Chinese or Japanese food in Boston, Ma Soba used to be a go-to, but over time I have found other, better places to satisfy those cravings. However, there was a Groupon for Ma Soba that Nick's sister bought and we were more than willing to accompany her.

Ma Soba is a larger restaurant on Cambridge Street, decorated in an Asian motif without overdoing it so that you feel like you are at Epcot Center. The menu has a large variety of traditional Asian noodle dishes and sushi rolls. Having had their sushi before and, sadly, not loving it, we decided to mix things up a bit this time. For an appetizer we shared a Dim Sum basket that had a selection of steamed dumplings. The shrimp dumplings were good, however, the dough was a bit sticky and was difficult to take out of the bowl. The consistency of the pork dumpling was not very good - not much taste and almost a bit dry.

Next, we shared some sushi rolls. The first was the Hawaiian roll, which was a tuna, avocado, and California Roll.

Hawaiian Role

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Baked Black Bean Buritto - healthy with a kick

Most of the time I find it hard enough to cook on Monday nights, but coming up with a new and creative meatless recipe can make a Monday meal even more difficult! Lucky for me, this was another edition of Nick Cooks!

Nick found a burrito recipe that actually looked quick and healthy and seemed to have some good heat - even better.

The Necessities...
  • 1 (7-ounce) can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed, drained, and divided
  • 1 cup frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed
  • 4 (8-inch) flour tortillas
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup bottled salsa
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
The Ingredients

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Commerce - Brunch in the Village

After a night out on the town, brunch on Sunday is always an important component to a complete weekend in New York.  Our friends made reservations at Commerce in the West Village, a historic space that has been thoughtfully restored.  It was a cozy little spot, and the servers were more than willing to assist with order recommendations.  We order a bread basket to share among the table, however, it proved a bit difficult to share among so many people.  Next time, I would go for the basket of donuts instead.

For meals, Nick got the Croque Madame.

Croque Madame

Monday, April 4, 2011

Hearth - Evening out in the East Village

When going to NYC for a weekend, one the big decisions is always where to head for dinner - with so many options it is hard to narrow it down.  Lucky for Nick and I, we have a couple of friends who are more than willing to figure out the "it" place to go!

This time, the decision was Hearth in the East Village.  The restaurant has walls that are exposed bricks, and warm red ceilings with wooden beams.  We were seated at the back of the restaurant at a big round table, which I always enjoy because it enables larger groups (like mine) to all be in the conversation without the struggle that sometimes comes with long, rectangular tables.  The menu here changes daily based on the fresh selections of the seasons.

When we sat down we were served an amuse bouche of a beet soup topped with a bit of creme fraiche. 

Amuse Bouche

Friday, April 1, 2011

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes - what could be better on St. Patrick's Day?

One of my co-workers mentioned Car Bomb Cupcakes to me - as in they were made with Guinness, Jameson Irish Whiskey and Bailey's Irish Cream - and I knew I had to make them on for St. Patrick's Day. Regardless if it affected anyone in the end, what could be more perfect!?!

Greenish Liners - just wish I had green sprinkles!

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