Thursday, May 30, 2013

road trip: montreal

memorial day weekend weather report: cold, rainy, and windy. granted we were in montreal, where it tends to be colder, but things didn't fare much better in connecticut. where did spring go? how is it almost june, 45 degrees during the day, and constantly raining? lame, mother nature, lame. 

it turned out to be a fairly quiet weekend with some quality reading time and impromptu naps...oh, and great food of course. the dreariness of the weather didn't stop us from eating and drinking our way around the city. since we've visited montreal loads of times before, we decided to keep things low key and stick to cheap eats and good coffee. 

serious eats had put together a small list of independent coffee places in montreal which we took full advantage of on this trip. we hit up three of the five top picks and, inadvertently, one of the 'honorable mentions.' each of the places was simple in design with an affinity for quality coffee and in some cases good pastries. up until a couple months ago, i had never had a coffee with a pretty design, so i'm still sort of geeking out over it; don't mind me~

caffeine fixes and frothy art aside, new food venues were next on our list. first up was a dumpling place qing hua, featuring soup dumplings--steamed, boiled, or fried. these weren't quite the shanghai soup dumplings we're used to, but steaming hot soup dumplings and tea were actually perfect for the weather.

we ordered the pork, shrimp, and leek, pork with green onion, and lamb with green onion. only after we finished eating did i find out we could have gotten half and half per order. imagine all the fillings we could have tried! oh well, next time. 

for all the times we've been to montreal, we never had 'real' poutine--a quebecois dish of fries with gravy and cheese curds. we were due. the first place we tried was patati patatathe restaurant is very tiny with limited seating, but we lucked out with a corner spot near the window/counter. (the place also does take out, so that's always an option for your poutine fix.) we ordered a poutine plus salad to share and two sliders for sean. the poutine was absolutely delicious and surprisingly not as gut-busting and heavy as i expected. (it probably helped that we paired it with a salad.) the gravy was well-flavored and lightly coated--but did not overwhelm--the fries, and the springy cheese curds were a good balance to the meatiness of the gravy. the fries themselves were just crispy enough to hold up to the gravy and cheese without being super oily. during the rest of the weekend, we tried two other poutines (one from main deli steakhouse and one from schwartz's), but i felt they didn't compare to the one at patati patata.

we couldn't really go to montreal without getting some french breakfast pastries and smoked meat sandwiches. sean had his fill of pain au chocolat with his coffees, but my favorite was an almond croissant from olive+gourmando in vieux montreal. the croissant was light and flaky, coated with a not-overly-sweet glaze and sprinkling of slivered almonds.

as far as smoked meat sandwiches, we decided to try main deli steakhouse across the street from the famed schwartz's. no waiting in a ridiculous line in the rain for a cramped table. we both went with the special: smoked meat sandwich, fries, coleslaw, and a pickle (sean upgraded his fries to poutine). definitely good, but we couldn't help but compare it with schwartz's. they are rightfully raved about for a reason; and now with a separate deli/store next door, picking up sandwiches to go is extremely convenient. (hello, food souvenirs and road trip lunch.) so, while it was good to try a new place, i think our loyalties lie with schwartz's. (it appears that casey agrees.)

when we weren't eating and caffeinating, we spent our time wandering different parts of the city and then basically hibernating in the hotel. here are some random (non-food) snapshots from the weekend:
MONTREAL: gloomy weather? check. delicious food and coffee? double check. another great trip to montreal? triple check.

Monday, May 20, 2013

great googa mooga

rain or shine we were going to googa mooga. too bad it was 'rain'...but that didn't stop us from chowing down on tasty (albeit pricey) food, sampling some beers, and watching matt & kim perform. 

here's what our googa experience looked like:
 * vinegar hill house - fried soft shell crab sandwich
 * bromberg bros blue ribbon - fried chicken
 * back forty - harissa smoked lamb
 * umami burger - truffle burger
 * luke's lobster - lobster roll
 * baked - brookster
 * lake placid - nippletop milk stout
... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
matt & kim!!!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

a brunch for the moms

this year i hosted mother's day brunch. it was nice to have everyone over and enjoy a leisurely sunday meal. we spent the afternoon eating and talking (and even napping--jade and kavin--hehe).

this being my first time making brunch, i tried to keep things varied and balanced but simple. (i got a little frazzled in the beginning, but we don't need to go into that...) i went through my cookbooks, narrowing the choices to the sprouted kitchen and joy the baker--coincidentally both from blog writers. the combination of veggie-filled recipes and lovely baked goodness was just right for the occasion. 

i'm really happy i could put together another meal for my family, especially to celebrate the wonderful moms and mom-to-be in my life.

here's a look at the final menu:
* sticky lemon rolls (from shutterbean)
* mixed berries: strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries 
* the sprouted kitchen's house salad: butter lettuce, jicama, and pomegranate seeds with creamy dressing
* joy the baker's (oven-baked)coffee bacon
* the sprouted kitchen's baby spinach frittata with sweet potato hash crust
* joy the baker's oatmeal cookie pancakes
* drinks: sparkling pink lemonade, orange juice, and milk oolong tea (with dessert)
* dessert from kavin: (because clearly there wasn't enough food~) dimare's strawberry-chantilly cake

Thursday, May 9, 2013


thirty: a whole new decade!

i'm not going to offer any words of wisdom or little gems that i've discovered in my thirty years on earth--just a standard weekend recap full of birthday meals and good times :)

with my birthday falling on a friday this year i decided to take the day off and start the weekend early. the weather couldn't have been nicer all weekend--sunny, bright, and comfortably warm. spring was in full force. sunshine and blooms. <3 MAY <3

i started the day with a morning run ::pat on the back:: then got ready for an afternoon of hanging out with kim. picking her up from the train and what do i see? birthday balloons! you can't help but smile when you get balloons :) we spent the next two hours enjoying sushi lunch at kiku and chatting away. 
of course we needed something sweet after lunch, so we decided to check out a new frozen yogurt place in sono, yobama. it was tough deciding which flavors and toppings to try without totally pigging out (and paying an indecent amount of money), but we managed to keep things under control. the flavors were all pretty good and distinct without tasting artificial, and there was quite a selection of toppings (over fifty, maybe?). here's what i went with:
 * coffee with brownie bites and kit kat bits
 * oreo with oreo crumbles
 * birthday cookie (kinda had to, right?) with fresh strawberries
 * swirl of chocolate and peanut butter
 * extra toppings: mochi and a single mini peach gummy bear
after finishing our yogurt creations it was time to catch the train to the city. more chatting on the train then we said our goodbyes and parted ways at 125th. i met sean at bryant park, and we headed downtown to blue hill for a fancy birthday dinner. we were seated at a corner table and started off with some cocktails. i had the noble bee (i think) which consisted of gin, honey, hops, and blood orange. it was excellent (i had a second one later~). i don't remember exactly what was in sean's cocktail, but i think it had rum, cinzano, something else, and a walnut for adornment. 
for dinner we decided to splurge and get the extended farmer's feast:
 * amuse: beet burger on an almond bun
 * blue hill coppola
 * mini baguettes with butter, lardo, beet salt, fennel salt
 * chilled asparagus soup
 * stone barns butter lettuce, asparagus, fiddlehead ferns, and pickled cauliflower 
 * soft shell crab, stinging nettles, daikon, and asparagus 
 * this morning's egg, collard greens, bacon, and king oyster mushrooms
 * hudson valley chicken thigh, livers, and hearts, 502 squash sauerkraut, ramps, claytonia, and hazelnuts
 * braised lamb belly, ramps, green rhubarb, asparagus, and mustard greens
 * stone barns honey, elderflower, ginger, and buttermilk sorbet
 * rhubarb, goat cheese and pink peppercorn yogurt sorbet
 * petit fours: homemade strawberry marshmallows, passion fruit blondies


everything was wonderfully fresh and tasted like spring. so lovely and delicious. well done, dan barber; you're awesome.

saturday was family dim sum in brooklyn at east harbor seafood palace. a new place for me but jade and kavin had been a few times, so it came well-tested. our table was near the kitchen so we got first dibs on all the food :) yesss. super fresh.

after dim sum we spent some time in park slope. toby was pretty excited for the visit and then even more excited for the bonus walk to prospect park. all the flowers and trees were in bloom; just beautiful. i love spring!

sunday totally felt like a bonus day. why don't we have more three day weekends?? i went for another morning run then hopped on the train into the city for book club brunch (book #7: the age of miracles). met up with the girls at hundred acres in the village. cute brunch spot, but we missed out on sitting in the back garden area. definitely next time. between the four of us we had mimosas, cinnamon rolls, breakfast sausage, soft scrambled eggs with spring veggies and cornbread, wagyu beef chili with eggs, and goat cheese-sage bread pudding with poached eggs. and if that wasn't enough, a little sweet surprise from dominique ansel's bakery: dka and canneles. thanks, ladies! 

what a great way to welcome a new personal decade: amazing birthday meals and lots of quality time with some of my favorite people in the world. so much love. thank you to everyone for another beautiful birthday.