Tag: living the list

Chop, Chop

Those are some beautiful pepper strips

Those are some beautiful pepper strips

Chop, chop went the vegetables.

Chop, chop went my hair.

(But not at the same time or at the same place.)

I hoard my gift certificates. I never spend them, saving them for something “special.” I do the same with new clothes (waiting for the perfect occasion to debut them) or fancy soaps (I don’t want to waste them). About a year ago, I decided that this was stupid: I buy these items because I like them and therefore I should wear or use them often. Same with gift cards. The givers wants me to use them. No more waiting.

Therefore, I’m pretty proud of myself for using a gift certificate to Culinaria Cooking School within two months of receiving it as a going-away gift. That I got to work on the culinary skill I most want to master was an added bonus.

IMG_0811Taking a knife skills class has been on my to do list ever since a friend, who is very comfortable in the kitchen, told me that she found it helpful. Finally, I actually had the time to do it. The class was on Friday from 10.00 am–1.00 pm. It was me and group of retired people, along with two people my age (but I didn’t get their stories, so am having fun speculating about how they were available at that time of day…).

Proper knife grip

Proper knife grip

I learned how to properly hold a knife. See how the index finger wraps over the top of the blade?That’s where a chef develops a callous. I don’t have one of those yet. I especially felt this towards the end of the class. Julienning a carrot is hard, because carrots are so hard. Boy did my hand hurt by this time.

 

What does one do with all those chopped vegetables and chicken? Stirfry of course! And it was delicious.

Lunch

Lunch

Added bonus? Driving a different way home led me past Nielsen’s Frozen Custard. I ordered half chocolate, half pumpkin. No toppings. Creamy and delicious.

IMG_0818 - Version 2

Unexpected dessert

Oh, and my hair? That happened a week ago at Parlour Salon. At the beginning of the summer, I told Rebecca, who has been cutting my hair for years, that once I was no longer working, and after the last family wedding of the season, I was ready to try a new hairstyle. I sat there and this is what happened. I love it!

Shenandoah Valley—I Went For The Foliage But Am Writing About The Food First

Three completely blank days on the calendar = road trip!

Pulling out my list of local places that I’ve never been but should have after living in DC for 12 years, and considering the time of year lead to one easy conclusion: Shenandoah Valley. Of course, I spent a good portion of the trip checking out good food. I’ll write a separate entry about the beautiful fall foliage, hiking and Skyline Drive.

Facebook crowdsourcing started the trip off right with doughnuts at The Apple House in Linden, VA. Given that I left DC much later than planed and it was lunchtime, I designated the doughnuts an appetizer to a bbq sandwich. Bad decision. The sandwich tasted only of sauce and although I hate to waste food, the doughnuts had taken the edge off my hunger so I chucked it and headed down the road eight miles to Spelunker’s, in Front Royal, VA, which I had been advised serves delicious burgers and custard. Score!

I enjoyed that doughnut

I enjoyed that doughnut

Although there is a drive-thru, and inside the menu board and counter are set up like a fast food joint, this a chain burger place. My food took a few minutes to cook, and was delivered to my table by a server who then asked if I needed anything from napkins to silverware to a very long list of condiments. Aside from being a bit too salty, the burger was delicious. Really nicely grilled onions made the difference. It was big, almost to the point where I worried I didn’t have room for dessert. Luckily, it was only almost.

 

Photobombed (by a man who has no idea what that means)

Photobombed (by a man who has no idea what that means)

Here’s the first of many times I knew I wasn’t in the big city: people pre-pay for their custard and when ready for it, walk up to the counter and say, “I paid for a cone already.” They then get a cone—no proof of purchase required. It hadn’t occurred to me do this, so I waited in line again. The custard was very creamy, but ice slivers in it prevent me from raving. If I returned for a burger, you wouldn’t have to twist my arm very hard to get me to order dessert too, but I won’t send you there just for the custard.

Front Royal’s dinner options were limited—all the recommended places only serve lunch, are closed on Mondays, or both. While strolling through the town, a couple asked me for directions to a nice-sounding restaurant. Even though they live two towns over and I live 70+ miles away, I’m good with a map and decent with an iPhone and figured out which way they should walk. Before they set off, I looked at Yelp and saw that the place was closed (remember, this was a Monday). We started walking together in another direction and even though I wasn’t that hungry (it was 2.30 by the time I ate at Spelunker’s), I liked the idea of sharing a meal with someone, so I joined them for an entirely forgettable meal. It was a good change of pace to have conversation over dinner, and they ended up treating me, which was unexpected and kind.

Appetizer before breakfast

Appetizer before breakfast

Fortunately, I left Front Royal the next morning on a good food note at the Woodward House Bed and Breakfast. This place was everything I expect a country B&B to be — a bit kitschy and decorated with flowery wallpaper and lots of knickknacks. I think this is the first bed that I’ve needed a step stool to climb into.

I had some work to do and was up way before breakfast started. Luckily, there were homemade cookies in my room to tide me over. (And yes, that is a golf lamp on the side table.)

Then I learned they really do mean it when they call their breakfasts “skip a lunch.”  And, BTW, I did (skip lunch).

 

More about more good food, gelato and ice cream later.

 

 

Seeking Out Good Food Is Good — Part 1: NYC

I spent two days of the first week of my new life seeking out really good food. I enjoy good food. This does not make me unique. I have not had much of an opportunity before to plan a whole day around acquiring good food, and boy did I enjoy it.

Day One: Tuesday, September 9, 2014

I started at Chelsea Market, which was not the planned destination but could not be skipped when I found myself across the street from it. There were many, many tempting foods, but since I had eaten breakfast not that long before arriving, I went practical. I tried to indulge at Doughnuttery, but six was the smallest quantity I could buy and that seemed extravagant, and might not leave me enough room for the other good food planned for the day. Nearby, I found Sohha Savory Yogurt, where I loved the Za’atar Bliss:  tangy yogurt with za’atar (a middle-eastern spice mix), olive oil, mint, olives and tomatoes.

Sohha menu

Za’atar Bliss—sub tomatoes for the cucumbers and we have a winner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To work up an appetite before my next stop, I walked the length of The Highline. Finally, my plans to do so weren’t thwarted by rain, snow, sleet or hail.

I then walked over to Eataly, which I’ve been hearing about since it opened. Decided on full-fledged carnivore lunch from Rosticceria. I refrained from the gelato in order to walk over to the West Village for Big Gay Ice Cream.  I learned about Big Gay Ice Cream from the authority that is Buzzfeed (I knew this list was legit when I saw it included Amy’s Ice Cream, my favorite ice cream in the US) and knew it was a must-stop for this trip. I gave into all of the hype (Food Network, Dessert Professionals) and ordered the most popular combo, the Salty Pimp (vanilla soft serve, chocolate shell, sea salt, dulce de leche). Salty-sweet ice cream.  Need I say more?

Next time I'll think to take a photo before I devour my ice cream

Next time I’ll think to take a photo before I devour my ice cream.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day One: Epilogue

I admit that on Wednesday morning I realized that accelerating from my office’s salad bar to yesterday’s meals, and from my few-times-a-week workouts to walking 6+ miles, pushed the limits of my stomach. After a great class at The Pilates Boutique, I needed a soothing lunch before the matinée of Kinky Boots.

Sometimes the universe sends you what you need. Yelp wasn’t helping me identify where to find chicken soup, so I decided to just walk out the door and see what I passed on my way to the theater. And I found a gem: Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns Ramen. Just like grandma’s chicken soup, if it came from Japan. Just the medicine the doctor ordered!

Great find in Hell’s Kitchen

Best unplanned meal of my trip

Best unplanned meal of my trip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. Turns out Lunch at The Highline is the modern version of the 1932 famous photo, Lunch atop a Skyscraper (New York Construction Workers Lunching on a Crossbeam). Next time I’ll try to do the image justice.

credit: probably Charles C. Ebbets, but disputed

credit: probably Charles C. Ebbets, but disputed

credit: Roberta A. Ritvo

credit: Roberta A. Ritvo

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