Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset You might have noticed the radio silence around here (and distinct lack of recipe posts.) There are a couple of reasons for that: 1) no one wants to cook in New York in the summer and 2) we're moving! To Oakland!

We're finally out of our place in Brooklyn (which was covered in boxes for weeks) and I'm finishing things up at work in New York this week, then heading west this weekend. Unfortunately I don't anticipate being able to post much until we find a new place in the next month or so, but I'll try to add some new content when I can. In the meantime, hope you're all having a wonderful summer–you know I'm excited for all of the incredible produce and tacos (duh) all year round in California.

5 Ways to Make Any Dinner Feel Special

_MG_4791When I was growing up, my family ate dinner together pretty much every night. As we got older, it became a little more difficult between sports, play rehearsals, and any of the other many social obligations of high school, but my parents always made sure that it happened at least a few times a week. One of my sisters or I would set the table, Mom or Dad would be cooking, we would turn on some music, and let the phone go to voicemail. For all of us, it was a way to reflect on the day, to decompress and enjoy the food in front of us. Since leaving home, I've come to realize that this isn't always the case -- and between my busy work schedule and the many take-out options in New York, sometimes dinner doesn't feel quite so special. So when I do have time to relax and have dinner (or take-out), here are a few things I've come up with to make any dinner feel like an occasion: _MG_47341. Light some candles. This is an amazingly easy way to dress up any table, and it's usually very inexpensive (Ikea is great for stocking up).

2. Use cloth napkins instead of paper. I always prefer the look of cloth napkins over paper, and they are much more eco-friendly!

3. Turn on some music. This is one of my favorite ways to set a mood -- for dinner parties, I particularly like the Motown and Adele Pandora stations.

4. Use your nice china. Of course, I only bought matching plates a few weeks ago (I finally decided that now that I am 25, I can have matching plates. I'm feeling very grown-up), but if you are lucky enough to have separate sets of dishes, use your fine china for an everyday meal. What are you waiting for?_MG_4798

5. Have a little sparkling wine. Somehow, many people think that champagne or prosecco are only for special occasions, but when you can find perfectly decent bottle of sparkling wine at Trader Joe's for $5, why save it? Of course, this may have something to do with the fact that I studied abroad in Bologna, land of the apertivo, or the fact that despite being 100% Norwegian in heritage, my dad and uncles are convinced that we are Italian. Either way, I can't think of anything much better than sipping a chilled glass of prosecco on a warm day (ice bucket is certainly not necessary -- though I scored this one at Housing Works for $8! And I think it adds a touch of elegance to any table).

What do you do to make everyday events feel special?

Tabletop Style: Gilded

The last few weeks have been crazy. Between moving last week, a hurricane, and a little thing called the election, it's been a little chaotic on the East Coast. I was, however, incredibly lucky and didn't lose power or have any damage. However, there are still many who are without power or who lost their homes -- and if you would like to help, there are a ton of options. One great one is the Red Cross, which makes it incredibly easy to donate, and they have a specific hurricane relief section (if you wish, you can donate here)

Anyways, hurricanes aside, let's talk about sparkles! Just kidding. (But only sort of) The chance to redecorate my new apartment has definitely brought out some nesting instincts that I didn't know I had, and they all seem to be concentrating on anything shiny and metallic (much to A's dismay). So while I get my kitchen set up, I ask you to bear with me and in the meantime, here are a few of my favorite gilded items for the holidays. Even a small gold accent immediately dresses up a room or a table, and I think that any of these would make wonderful gifts as well (I especially love those Zara Home tumblers -- and they are incredibly affordable!)




I don't really have an excuse for my absence here over the last week, but if I did it would be that the batteries for my camera are currently dead and I left my charger at a friend's apartment. So until I get that back (I'm hoping by tomorrow) here are a few pictures from recent happenings, including a few from my trip to Minnesota (chickens! Wesley!) and from New York (trip to Rockaway Beach -- and Rockaway Taco -- a 1920's party on Govorner's Island, and movies at Brooklyn Bridge Park) as well. I'll be back soon with some great late-summer recipes, I promise.


As I am figuring out what exactly I want to do with this blog, I think I would like to do some smaller posts. Not necessarily restaurants, or recipes, or even posts with too many words. I have been trying to take more pictures on my phone since I don't always have my camera with me, so here are a few pictures from recent weeks (using Instagram, of course):

Fette Sau

I'm pretty sure that trying to be a vegetarian is an obligatory part of any Wesleyan student's education. And many, I'm sure, succeed. I attempted to be a vegetarian the first semester of my freshman year and was actually pretty successful -- until Thanksgiving, that is. The turkey, ham, and my mom's excellent stuffing were just too much. Ah well. I don't think it was meant to be anyways -- I love barbecue and fried chicken FAR too much to try to give that up. Not that I'm knocking those who do choose to be vegetarian -- I actually quite enjoy tofu and I think that in many cases the environmental impact of eating meat can be too much.

However, this is not a post about the moral implications about eating meat. Rather, this is a post about excellent barbecue, at a marvelous place in Williamsburg called Fette Sau. Not vegetarian friendly -- you literally order meat by the pound. Options are limited, but that's alright with me. All of the meat is smoked for hours on location (a rare feat in NYC), and you can choose from a few options and rotating sides. Go with the brisket, pulled pork, and ribs. Just trust me. For sides, the German-style potato salad is a perfect foil for the smoky meat, and the baked beans are cooked with the burnt pork ends, making them wonderfully smoky and hearty. The meat is served with doughy rolls and the long tables are scattered with various barbecue sauces, including a spicy one and one laced with mustard. Fette Sau (which, appropriately, means Fat Pig in German), also has a great whiskey selection and multiple beers on tap to wash down your meal. Go on a night when you can sit outside, as the four long inside tables are always packed. You'll know you have arrived when you smell smoky, succulent pork wafting onto the street -- and how can anyone resist that?

(Clearly, not me, since I went twice in the span of a week.)

Pete Zaaz

Imagine this: pizza smothered in crème fraîche, thinly sliced potatoes, green onions and, of course, bacon.  Sounds like a dream, I know. But it's real! I promise. And you can find this, and several other types of non-traditional pizzas at Pete Zaaz in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. I am of course always excited about new and good food within walking distance of my apartment, and Pete Zaaz certainly does not disappoint. I have now been there a few times and the baked potato pizza is a clear winner so far, but pretty much everything I have tried has been great. Many of their pies have rather outlandish combinations (like the current "Pretzel Parm" with garlic béchamel, smoked gouda, and fried chicken) but they absolutely work. On our last visit, we also tried the Reuben Stromboli, a smart take on the Reuben sandwich with corned beef, spicy mustard, and sauerkraut stuffed inside a stromboli.

Though they don't have a wood-fired oven, each pizza is made to order and still ends up nicely charred in their convection oven. The other great part about Pete Zaaz is their garden in the back -- since the interior is rather narrow and has limited seating, the back provides a lovely and more open setting to enjoy your pizza. And it's BYOB -- so really, what more do you need? Word is that they are going to start having movie nights during the summer as well, which would really just put it over the top. And I'll let you in on a little secret: instead of grated parmesan or red pepper flakes to add to your pizza, Pete Zaaz has instead created its own spice blend, consisting of a few herbs, spices, and -- crushed Cheeze-its. Genius.


On a side note -- I am FLOORED by all of the wonderful comments on my previous post on my grandmother's rhubarb pie recipe. THANK YOU all for your incredibly kind words -- I love sharing recipes with all of you, and it has been so lovely to "meet" new people and discover new blogs.

Restaurants: Bar Corvo

Since moving to Crown Heights in November, I have gotten a few "huhs" as responses when asked where I live in Brooklyn. However, if you haven't visited Crown Heights lately, I would highly recommend a visit. More affordable than Park Slope and Prospect Heights, and fairly bursting with new businesses, Franklin Avenue seems to be hopping at all hours of the day. Even though I have only lived there for a few months, I have already enjoyed being able to walk to great restaurants and coffee shops in  the neighborhood (a feature sorely missing from my last apartment). The newest of these is Bar Corvo, which, if you are familiar with Brooklyn geography, is technically in Prospect Heights as it sits on Washington Avenue.

Situated in an old building that has housed many a restaurant, Bar Corvo has integrated older aspects of its design, including original wallpaper and glimpses of the many-layered painted brick walls, as part of its decor. The food is northern Italian, perfect for A. and I (who studied abroad in Bologna). We went late on a Friday night, and there was still a wait at 9 pm, which, in this area of Brooklyn is not the most common. I enjoyed a spritz  of prosecco and aperol (my favorite drink while in Italy, and hard to find here) while we waited in the narrow bar area. The long dining room is divided into two sections -- the first includes the bar and pasta bar, with 15 or so seats lined up alongside, and the back is comprised of a large communal table and smaller individual tables. It looks like there is also a garden, but since temperatures in NYC have dropped back down to the 50's, we didn't venture back there.

We had a pretty hard time deciding what to order (do we get a pasta and a main course? Or two appetizers and a pasta??), but in the end we opted for the semolina gnocchi with wild boar ragù, the pork chop with polenta and kale, and a side of the house-made foccaccia. Not the lightest of meals, but certainly delicious. The gnocchi were light and airy, nicely complimented by the complex and earthy ragù. The polenta was perfectly creamy, offsetting the horseradish-covered pork chop very well. My favorite, however, was the foccaccia. Never one to pass up a bread basket (I could never do the Atkins diet), this foccaccia was crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, simply seasoned with fresh rosemary and fleur de sel -- which A. is now obsessed with. Since we ate there last week, he has actually said the following to me several times: "Do you know what would be perfect with this? That fleur de sel!" -- whether he was talking about pesto (post to come shortly) or vegetables. It was excellent.

Being rather full, we decided to skip dessert, but I look forward to coming back (especially in summer) to sit on the back patio and enjoy a glass of prosecco. A little slice of Italy, only a few blocks from my apartment -- doesn't get much better than that.


Restaurants: Little Brother

I'm not quite sure how this happened, as I come from Minnesota -- land of lutefisk, not so much of barbecue. But somehow, over the last year or so, I have become kind of obsessed with southern food. This isn't really a new trend, especially in NYC where (lucky for me and Ari) there are tons of great options for barbecue and fried chicken. (I mentioned a few in a previous post). However, I'm always looking for options that don't necessitate getting on a train, and that's where Little Brother comes in.

It opened last winter in a tiny, industrial space on the strange wasteland of Atlantic Avenue and Clinton Avenue next to the excellent Hot Bird bar. The first time I went was in January, and it was freezing. Even with our mild winter, we ate with our coats on. However, the food certainly helped warm us up, and their simple menu is the perfect length to order a few things to share. I'm a fan of the barbecue chicken and barbecue pork sandwiches (always with extra spicy barbecue sauce), which comes with pickles and vegetable slaw on top. The prices are reasonable enough to warrant ordering a couple of sides, of which I highly recommend the french fries (though I may be biased. I could eat french fries every day. Seriously) These, however are a whole different ball game. After they are fried, they coat them in the same spice rub they use to marinate the meat, and the result is a sweet-spicy-tangy kick that complements the crispy fries perfectly. The collard greens are very good as well, although i thought they could have used a little more flavor. Overall, a great place to go when you want a cheap dinner and don't wnat to venture too far from your apartment (at least for me). An added bonus: in warm weather, you can order the food to eat at Hot Bird and enjoy it outdoors with a cold beer next to their fire pit.

Brooklyn Flea

To many who live in NYC, the Brooklyn Flea market is not necessarily the best, or the cheapest flea market in the city. For my money, that title belongs the 25th Street Flea Market, which has a very eclectic selection of vintage wares in all price ranges (my last find was a vintage mirrored vanity tray for $20!). However, the Brooklyn Flea does have some advantages over the other flea markets in the city 1) food and 2) its winter location.

First off, the food. For anyone who has visited Dough in Bed-Stuy, I need say no more. This amazing doughnut shop has a stand at the flea with all of their regular flavors (my favorite is lemon-poppy). During the summer, there are lots more vendors, including the excellent Mile End, McClure's Pickles, and People's Pops. I did, however, have an excellent brisket sandwich from Lonestar Eatery, accompanied by plenty of hot sauce, pickles, and creamy potato salad. There are still many other options for food, including tacos and porchetta, but the downside is that the tables are set up in a rather dark basement setting (hence why I didn't take any pictures).

Second, the location. Nothing beats eating outside, but being able to walk around the original Williamsburgh Savings Bank does help. As you can see, the building is filled with mosaic ceilings, iron and stonework, and beautiful wood carvings. If it weren't for the hipsters everywhere, you could almost imagine you were in the middle of completing a bank transaction 100 years ago.