The 5 Most Overrated Things About Fall

I don’t hate fall.

I mean, I don’t love it – I am not a fan of colder weather, shorter days, or saying sayonara to great tomatoes -but hey, it’s better than winter. But some people are insane about fall. Like, they are fall-tastic.

They are a little crazy. Fall is fun – it’s fine! – but it isn’t the be all, end all of food seasons. Basically, here are the things to skip around fall.

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Apple picking

Am I the only person who honestly doesn’t enjoy this? The one and only time I went, it was freezing, drizzling, and the tractor that we rode on to get to the orchards broke down. Do you know what happens when a tractor carrying city slickers and toddlers breaks down? Mass chaos ensues. People pull out asthma inhalers and calculating how long it will take for an Uber to get to New Jersey. It was almost Titanic to push ourselves onto that next tractor. And apples just doesn’t do it for me in general -sure, they were okay, but to really get them where they had to be, I had to make it into a pie.

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Pumpkin anything-but-pie

Just STOP IT. Pumpkin is delicious in pie and maybe in a couple of savory stews, but it doesn’t have to be in muffins, cookies, cakes, gum, soda, etc…in fact, it only tastes good in pies. I really think that people like pumpkin spice lattes because they are just happy to welcome full fat beverages into their lives after a summer of fat free iced coffees. Pumpkin belongs in pie. Leave it alone, already.

All root vegetables, all the time

I love mashed celery root and roasted turnips as much as the next gal, but what wouldn’t I GIVE for a juicy tomato or some sweet, tender spring onions? I rely heavily on fresh herbs all summer long and in the winter they just don’t taste the same. It’s a lot of heavy, umami flavors that are certainly delicious and craveworthy, but I definitely miss the bright, vibrant flavors and crunchy textures of summer salad.

Heavy, meaty braises

Similar to the root vegetable situation, I just miss the proteins of summer. Light, lemon scented fish. Tender spring lamb. Entire meals made of nothing except vegetables and some light, pungent sheeps milk cheese. Farewell Cobb salad dinners and hello lasagna, steak, and mashed potatoes with bacon. I mean, I guess that isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever heard.

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Candy Corn

This stuff is actually delightful. I have no idea why it’s on here.

Okay, I guess that fall isn’t the worst thing after all. I don’t know why I thought fall was overrated.

Bring it on, seasons!

Fig and Chutney Chicken

Sometimes the only impetus you need for a new recipe is fear.

The fear that your mom is coming over and will throw out all of the perfectly good jars and bottles in your fridge.

By perfectly good, I mean that the expiration date may have been a month or two earlier but it tastes totally fine. And smells almost perfect.

Look, if it doesn’t kill me, it makes me stronger, right? I mean penicillin came from mold.

So, hurry…make this chicken with that half jar of chutney sitting in your fridge before your mom comes over. And if it just went bad don’t worry…the heat from the oven kills all those bacteria, right?

Fig and Chutney Chicken

chutney chicken Ingredients

4 chicken pieces (I used boneless, skinless thighs, but breasts or drumsticks would also work)

1/3 – 3/4 jar of chutney

a few heavy glugs of hot sauce

1 onion, sliced into rings

4 or 5 figs, halved

sprinkling of poultry spices

olive oil if necessary (if there is no fat from skin)
IMG_1498 1. Combine the chutney, hot sauce, spices, and oil (if used) in a bowl. In another baking dish, layer the figs and onions and preheat the oven to 350F.
IMG_1508 2. Toss the chicken in the mixture then put it in a single layer over the figs and onions.  IMG_1524 3. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the middle of the thickest thick runs clear when pierced with a fork. For the last 7 minutes of cooking, set the oven to broil on high to create a really brown, caramelized crust on the chicken.  IMG_1533 4. Serve with roasted potatoes or orzo.  IMG_1536 For something born out of utter desperation this is phenomenal. The chicken is moist and tender underneath a sticky, crunchy layer of chutney. It’s sweet and spicy, and the fruits in the chutney pick up on the soft, juicy figs and melted onions. It’s even better the next day on sliced sourdough bread but I doubt it will last that long. This doesn’t taste Indian, it really just tastes multifaceted. Be sure to skim the gravy for fat, then you can use it for the starch you serve alongside.

Chutney chicken: laughing in the face of expiration dates since 2014.

California Dreamin: Down and Dirty and Drive-Thru

The down and dirty part of my California trip.

Yes, most of them involve a drive through menu. Don’t judge.

20140926_235225 20140926_235307 Waffle fries and Western bacon cheeseburger from Carl’s Jr.

Look, this isn’t In-n-Out, but it’s the first place that I ever ditched school, the last place I visited on the way to the airport before I moved back East, and it’s the best drive through bbq sauce on the planet. Tangy, not too sweet, viscous, and a little spicy. The burger is about Burger King quality but with superior toppings including some of the best onion rings ever – thick but crispy batter and sweet, melting onions. YES. And the waffle fries are the best ever. No question. Shut up.

20140927_155608 Spicy cucumber margarita at Mercado

My new favorite drink. Exceptional and not overpriced at $11. Freshly muddled jalapenos and blanco tequila in a chilled, chipotle-salt rimmed glass. It’s like a very light, refreshing bloody Mary. Savory, bright, and with a pleasant kick of tequila. Mercado has a wonderful happy hour and a beautiful space  - I would absolutely come back here to try the food, all of which looked awesome.
20140928_191123 California produce

Because out there, it’s still summer. The peaches are sweet, the goat cheese is grassy, and I hate that it’s getting cold at home.

I’m sure next up will be 1,000 pumpkin recipes and lamb braises.

And California really will seem like just a dream.

New AA Business Class Dining Experience, Post Merger

I recently got to fly cross country on American Airlines. Usually, this wouldn’t be exciting new in and of itself, except that AA recently merged with US Airways. And the meal service subsequently changed, too. Which has quite a few AA  frequent fliers up in arms. Gone are the multiple course meals, gone are meals altogether on many medium haul flights. Many people think that this brings down the quality of American Airlines premium classes.

What did I think?

In a word…LOVED. I don’t know why, but this merger produced me with the finest meal that I have had on a domestic airline in years.

First off, let’s talk about the prosecco offered – it’s excellent. Bright but not acidic, tight bubbles, vaguely fruity aftertaste…it’s the ideal aperitif. To say nothing of the Tito’s Vodka on offer – a superior vodka that I serve at home all the time. Big, big fan of the liquor on hand.

20140926_202237 Warm mixed nuts

Satisfactory as always – served in a different shaped dish, but the same old same old.
20140926_205412 Main meal (yes, all on one dish)

From the top left, going counterclockwise:

Asian shrimp and cucumber salad – surprisingly tasty! Thinly sliced cucumbers and onions in a tart and sweet rice wine vinegar dressing. It’s paired with some mild, snappy shrimp that is tastier than many shrimp I have had on international airlines.

Salad – the only downer of the meal. Fresh but utterly tasteless…where do you get corn that tastes like cardboard, anyway?

Filet of beef with mushroom sauce, sweet potatoes, and green beans – great! I mean the meat was really good! Not overly flavorful, but filet isn’t the most flavorful but of beef in any environment. What is impressive is that it was cooked medium rare and was quite tender. The sauce is overly salty but it’s not served on the steak, so it’s easy to avoid. The accompanying veggies are fine if not memorable.

Cheese roll  - um, it’s a warm cheese roll…is there anything wrong with that?

20140926_212305 Ice cream sundae

Same as always, delish as always.

I thoroughly enjoyed the new AA dining experience. I loved that it was all served at once so I could chow down – I was starving and couldn’t have waited a moment longer than necessary for that bread. I had a great flight attendant and I loved the wine service as well. I’m no high end flier but so far, the merger hasn’t affected me for the worse.

Pass the prosecco and call me happy.

Work Trip Posting Mishap!

On a work trip and I thought the posting worked…how wrong I was!

See you tomorrow morning for a look at the new, post merger AA meal service!

L’Shana Tova 2014

L’Shana Tovah, y’all!

It’s a pretty big week for those of us who are Members of the Tribe, so I’m taking the day to spend with my family. I made some awesome food last night, but if I were making it tonight, I might make some…

Honey Mustard Roast Chicken

or some Brisket

with some Mashed Potato Souffle

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and maybe some Creamed Spinach, too.

See you tomorrow for more eats and treats.

That Time I Got to Go to The University Club

I went to a wedding the other night, and the bride knew that I was going to remark on the food.

I mean…how could I not? I’m not getting back in here anytime soon!

This shindig was held at The University Club…ultra fancy, ultra swanky – the kind of place that Jay Gatsby would risk hell and high water to frequent. It’s an immense building on 5th Avenue and the look is all dark wood, heavy tapestries, and gilded fixtures…you know the type.

I was SO glad that I put on deodorant…this isn’t the type of spot where stank will go undetected.

When we got upstairs to the ornate dining room, we were starving and I have to say that I didn’t know what to expect. Could a place this fancy and old school have food that would be appealing to the couples’ food savvy friends?

In a word – yup!

20140920_202337 Mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes

This is as delicious as something that I would make at home, after carefully sniffing tomatoes at the farmers market and schlepping downtown to get tender mozzarella. This tastes like it was made by hand by someone who really cares about ingredients – who chose tart cherry tomatoes and sweet heirloom ones to compliment each other. Who dressed the room temperature mozzarella in a spicy olive oil and plenty of pepper. This is simple and delightful. The last of summer’s tomatoes to usher in the first of the new couple’s tomorrows.

Wow…when I am good, I am GOOD.
20140920_212800 Rack of lamb au jus with wilted spinach and roasted potatoes

This lamb isn’t just wedding good…it’s RESTAURANT good! I don’t think it was the 2 martinis (because who DOESN’T love an open bar, amirite?), I think that it was just an excellently made plate. The lamb is medium rare -pink almost to the edges but not bloody or raw. It’s deep and robust, with peppery, rosemary scented jus that just cries out for those roasted potatoes. The lamb was really spectacular – I’m telling you that I couldn’t stop eating it.
20140920_222001 Dessert buffet

The piece de resistance was the entirely gluten free dessert buffet. Creamy creme brulee, vibrant macarons, airy chocolate mousse, and more. As much as you wanted, all in tiny, bite size servings.

Actually, this whole meal was gluten free and prepared and presented so well that if I hadn’t known ahead of time, I wouldn’t have even guessed it. The pacing and service is excellent, the setting is stunning and the food is modern and delicious.

Unfortunately, you have to be a member to have your wedding there, but if you are or if you get invited there…I highly recommend dieting the week before. Because this is one wedding meal thta you will want to eat.

In and Around NYC This Weekend

After a week in the Berkshires here at Fritos and Foie, let’s wrap it up with a few awesome things to eat and do around NYC this weekend:

New York Bagel

House Trip NYC (IN ASSOCIATION WITH HOUSE TRIP)

This vacation rental site, popular in Europe, has created an NYC-centric food guide. I am featured with some of my fave restaurants and shopping tips, but more importantly, there are some other awesome foodies and bloggers featured – they have pointers that I have already taken to heart! The site is super user-friendly – there is an interactive map, a recipe section, and information separated into restaurants and local markets. Definitely check it out when you are deciding where to dine this weekend.

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North Festival by Honest Cooking

This festival is like a mini NYCWFF with classes, dinners, and other tasting events, all focused around Scandinavia. Though most of the events are over, you can still check out some cool events today and tonight. There’s a Danish dinner with wine pairings tonight and a special menu at Oceana with dishes like Norwegian fjord trout and grilled whole sterling halibut. If you are a seafood fiend like I am, one of these events might be up your alley!

Real Life Central Perk

I’m not a major Friends fiend, but even so, this is pretty cool. It is apparently a mini museum of the famous coffee joint where every girl who had a Rachel haircut yearned to lounge and drink lattes. There is a continuous loop of Friends episodes playing on the TV, original props like the big orange couch and gold espresso machine, and even free coffee on offer. This is mostly a gift shop with a small side of beverages, but I know that my sister will be parked there all weekend, so maybe that’s your thing,too.

And if you leave NYC…

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Do not get a Whopper on your road trip. They just aren’t as good as you remember.

My Favorite Food Blogs

Didja ever look over to the left of your computer screen?

You know, that little bar with a list of the blogs that I like? Well, I don’t just look at other blogs here and there. I don’t just check out the stuff other people write when I am waiting in the airport for a delayed flight. I live off this stuff. I read blogs incessantly. I get ideas from blogs, I get inspired by blogs, I learn about food, and I virtually meet some pretty awesome people.

New blogs pop up all the time, but these ones…these are my favorites.

Why?

Well, I’m glad you asked:

The Amateur Gourmet

I cannot say enough about this blog. When Adam Roberts came on the blogging scene in 2004, food blogs weren’t really a thing. Not like they are now, anyway. Most food sites were run by professional chefs or restrauters. If you didn’t know how to hold a knife like a chef, buy mushrooms at a farmers’ market like a forager, and cook a souffle like Julia Child, you just bought a couple of cookbooks and practiced your craft continuously until you felt like you could kind of…maybe…put together an okay meal.

Adam changed all that.

He flat out said that he was an amateur. That not everything he made turned out well, or even edible. That he was learning as he went, from scandalous cupcake to life-changing broccoli. And, a few books and about a gazillion fans (including many professional chefs)later…well, he has become the patron saint of all of us who just know what we like to eat. He updates continuously and shares his personal and professional life with us. He walks us through complicated recipes and talks about techniques that he has developed himself. He shares his personal joys and triumphs with us. He once wrote a post that was so profound that it moved me – who faints when I even hear about anyone famous – to approach him on a crowded subway train and tell him how much it affected me. Of course, he and his now-fiance Craig couldn’t have been sweeter or more invested in my thoughts on the post. Whether he is writing about “The Sound of Music” plates that he bought second-hand or once-in-a-lifetime meals that he shares in comic strip form, reading his blog is part therapy, part comedy, all delicious.

An Immovable Feast
An Immovable Feast

Even though Justin has stopped writing his blog, I will never take his blog of my blogroll. This guy eats the way that you want to eat. You know that he does. He cooks juicy burgers and spicy chili. He wraps cold cuts and cheese in phyllo dough and bakes it. He is a fast food connoisseur, with enough condiment packets to make up a museum. He takes drool worthy pictures and was the BEST at answering comments and questions that you posted. He is a cool guy, a major foodie, and his blog is still some of the best reading out there. If I were you, I would start at the beginning and just work my way through. Don’t  be surprised if you start craving hangar steak about 3 pages in.

Ristorante Morini
Feisty Foodie

Yvo is one of my dear friends, so I really can’t say that my view is unbiased. But she is – absolutely! – the grand dame of NYC-centric food bloggers. She started in 2003 – that’s when Britney was single, Twitter wasn’t even a twinkle in Ashton’s eye, and twerking was just a made up word. She was visiting restaurants right and left and writing about them in a no holds barred way. Yvo doesn’t sugar coat – if she doesn’t like the food or the waitstaff, she will say so. And then – the best part – she will say why. She explains why she doesn’t like the steak or exactly how the server was rude. She puts out controversial opinions and holds her own in her comments. She loves a good debate and will stand up fiercely for her own opinions while taking into account other people’s opinions – I have yet to change her mind, but I have had fun trying! I started reading her because she was simply so prolific, but she is an example of how someone you meet online through a mutual passion can really become a real life friend. Though most of her posts are about restaurants, some are home cooking, and a very few are about her personal life. She writes about some of her most personal moments in a raw, poignant voice, and though those pieces are often hard to read, they are also my favorite. To read her blog is to know Yvo – her funny, witty, sarcastic, and food-loving self – and I can’t recommend more that you take the time!

King Crab Salad / Monkfish Liver / Smoked Salmon and Mango with Caviar
Kevin Eats

Food porn. Bada boom. The best, most beautiful pictures of food that I want to eat in LA and beyond. His writing is good, but his choice of restaurants and phototgraphy of the food is excellent. If you are going anywhere he has been, you simply MUST check out the blog and follow his advice. He has never steered me wrong, and is great about responding to comments. His taste in sushi is especially reliable and refined.


Midtown Lunch

I used to live and work right here, and this was everything to me. It was all of the weird little places that I didn’t know existed, the food trucks that looked too crowded, and the restaurants that I loved. It has expanded to different cities now, but to me, it will always be Midtown Lunch. It’s unpretentious, straightforward, and sometimes on the rowdy side of bawdy. It won’t win any literary or photography awards, but it’s just what you need when you are in midtown and can’t handle the thought of one of those dried out turkey paninis from Panera. It’s still useful and I refer to it all the time when people ask me where they can eat dinner before a Broadway show.


Serious Eats

The Bible. I remember reading it when it was Ed Levine’s NY Eats, and it has only gotten better. The best, funniest writers. The coolest taste tests. The best food hacks. The quick answers to questions you may have and the behind the scenes looks and what makes the site work. If you want to learn how to make a complicated lasagna or a super easy grilled cheese, this is your spot. Vegan? Great! Pizza aficionado? They have got ya covered there, too. If you like to eat…you go here. It’s Chowhound with more stories and pictures and fewer threads. It’s da best.

What are some of your favorite blogs? Besides this one, duh.

September – The 4th Month of Summer

Is it actually September? Who cares?! Eat like summer lasts forever!

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The watermelon and feta salad from The Smith

Yes, I know that I go here all the time, but it’s just so delicious. Love the buzzy vibe, the buzzier drinks, and the seasonal and reliable menu. Watermelon season is rapidly coming to a close, so enjoy this salad while you can! Sweet watermelon with freshly cracked pepper and coarse salt is one of life’s great pleasures – sweet and savory defined. Paired with delicate microgreens, juicy tomatoes, and some crumbly, piquant feta, it really hits the spot for a light lunch. Don’t overlook the drizzle of syrupy balsamic vinegar, perfect for swiping with some of the excellent tabletop French bread.

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Guacamole at Rosa Mexicano

Though the dinner fare here was generally overpriced and unimpressive, the guacamole was legitimate! It’s made tableside to your specifications – extra spicy, no cilantro, squeeze of lemon instead of lime…your wish is their command. It’s as fresh as it comes, and once you have had a margarita, the presentation really qualifies as dinner theater. I would come here for some guac and drinks and go elsewhere for a main course.

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Claw Daddy’s

I haven’t eaten here yet, but I had to miss a press event this week and I. Was. BUMMED! Just click over and look at the menu – it’s all shellfish all the time! Louisiana home cookin’ at its finest – crawfish, 2 kinds of crab, lobster, gumbo…come to mama! I can’t wait to try this restaurant soon – have any of y’all been there? (PS, I haven’t been compensated for this post in any way…I just think it looks super awesome and after my trip to New Orleans last year, I am always looking for good N’awlins food!)

Let’s jump into what I am now calling the last month of summer!