Craveable Bites

Some delish tastes that I suggest you enjoy this weekend

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Bloody Mary at The Ellington
This UWS tavern is a real gem! It’s bright and breezy with games on the tvs but enough space in between tables to allow for long, leisurely lunch talk. It’s ideal to sit inside on a hot day for the chill of the air conditioning while the sunshine blared in through the open doors and walls. The food is cheap and good (nothing groundbreaking, but their burger and freshly cut fries sure fit the bill) but the drinks are really awesome. Quite frankly the Bloody Mary is one of the better ones I have enjoyed in the city. It’s truly tomatoey – bright, sweet, and juicy. It is hit with a good amount of vodka for a peppery edge, and there is a salty, complex finish that has to be a good dollop of Worcestershire and horseradish. This isn’t overly fancy and it isn’t pricey – it’s just one swell drink.

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Chicken salad at Joseph Leonard
This place deserves every rave it gets. The staff is friendly, the surroundings manage to be cozy but not cramped, and the food is made with a lot of care. From the gigantic pot of salty cornichons at each table to the individual French press coffee posts, this places is lovely and tasty. To order a chicken salad in a renowned restaurant sounds so stupid but it’s even better than one that your mom would make you. Peppery watercress, sharp pickled shallots, this incredibly creamy and lush goat cheese and chicken that is so tender and juicy that it almost seems illegal. It’s not complicated, but the flavors work so well together that it seems much fancier and more indulgent than it is. Major win.

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Doritos Loaded at 7-11

Trust me, I hate myself for liking this. I hate myself for even trying this, but it WAS for a story…that of course, I pitched…because I wanted to try it. What do you WANT from me? I am trashy to the core! This is gooooooooood. It’s creamy, stretchy, melty, tangy. It’s salty, crunchy, crispy, Doritos-y. Don’t eat more than one at a time.

Or stop at 3, at least.

Great sober and REALLY great when less-than-sober.

Wedding Planning in NYC: Food Tasting at Essex House

The menu tasting.

The day that I had simultaneously been looking forward to and fearing since the day that we booked our venue, Essex House.

Looking forward to – well, the reason is obvious.

Fearing – look, when you are as obsessed with food as I am, your friends expect a lot. They have high standards and they are going to come to your wedding in forgiving stretchy dresses and loose pants sizes. And we booked at a hotel…I was nervous that we were going to get standard banquet food. You know the type…mushy chicken with flaccid skin and overcooked filet that had the flavor of beefy cardboard. I was real nervous, y’all.

I had no reason to be scared. The food was better than tasty. For an event of this scale, it was exceptional.

IMG_20140221_172255_959 From the moment that w sat in the swanky SouthGate restaurant, we were treated like VIPs (which, I guess we were, but still…okay by me!). Personalized menus, a discussion with the brand new banquet chef, personalized explanation of the dishes and the servingware used by the world’s greatest coordinator, Cecilia DeAngelis, and more food than we could possibly eat.

But we tried our best.
IMG_20140221_173119_038 Prosecco Bar

Okay, this was awesome.

My mom got the idea from Lincoln’s prosecco bar - Prosecco offered with mix and match fruit purees and liquors to create your own signature drink. We asked Cecilia if we could offer this for an hour at the reception and she made it happen.

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Major happiness ensued.  IMG_20140221_174001_903 Pretzel rolls

Because, wow – pretzel rolls make it HAPPEN. I also made a very diva request that the butter be served spreadable – nothing worse than ice cold butter that just won’t spread on bread. It would have totally taken away from the thick, toasty crust and the soft innards. They delivered on the spreadable butter. Thank you! IMG_20140221_175034_601 Crispy chicken confit with gnocchi, Cabot clothbound cheddar, spinach, and maple pepper lardon crisp

Why didn’t I eat more of this at the time? I’m crying just remembering how delicious this was. The chicken is juicy and crispy at the same time, served atop pillowy gnocchi that soaks up the rich chicken juices. The bits of crunchy lardons are smoky, sweet, and a little spicy. And that clothbound cheddar is one of my favorites, with a calcium crystal-studded texture and nutty, salty, umami flavor. It’s not cheap, either! It really says something that this is a plain ole option when you book at Essex House. You are really getting what you pay for – no nameless mild cheddar substitute here.

IMG_20140221_175042_094 Smoked salmon tartare and rosette with caramelized pear and spring leek tart with Dijon vinaigrette

The winner across the board – we all loved this. Unique enough to stand out but not just unique – also delicious and appetizing. The smoked salmon tartare is light and fresh, bound with a creamy, tarragon inflected dressing. The tart is sweet, providing the perfect creamy counterpart to the lush smoked salmon. It’s unexpected but also familiar – at a Jewish NYC wedding, we have all had smoked salmon once a week since birth! The Dijon vinaigrette is light and acidic, pairing well with the sweet pears. This was an excellent dish and I would eat it again tomorrow.

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Pan roasted Atlantic Salmon (front) and roasted Chatham cod with wilted leeks, sweet onin risotto with lardons, and New England lobster fricassee

The salmon in front is good – moist, seared to a lovely medium rare and served over some nutty black rice. It was just not exceptional. I could make it at home, and more to my tastes.

But the cod…

OMG…the cod. Whoa. This is an outstanding preparation. The cod is moist and very mild – none of that overtly fishy taste that less than fresh cod has. It’s slightly crispy on top and covered with what can only be described as creamy, sherry scented lobster bisque with hunks of sweet, buttery lobster. The risotto underneath manages to be creamy yet not gluey – hard work for risotto done on a mass scale. Though I loved it with the smoky, fatty lardons, the venue was accommodating enough to offer this kosher style for our many kosher guests.
I told everyone to get this.At the tasting, it was my number one favorite.
IMG_20140221_182948_828 Beef short ribs with potato dauphinois and bordelaise reduction

Of course, the night of the nuptials, I was in the mood for red meat, so I got this honkin behemoth of short ribs. Note to future brides – never go with the filet for your option. It’s just impossible to cook it to each person’s liking and if it has to be done ahead of time – which of course it does – it’s going to get dry and rubbery. The short ribs actually only get better after sitting around for awhile, and these are tender and robust, with scalloped potatoes and a deep, winey sauce.
IMG_20140221_185918_205 Lemon meringue pie

Buttery shortbread crust cradles a tangy, smooth lemon curd filling. Small, tanned peaks of impossibly airy meringue are capped with gold leaf for a sweet, decadent dessert that basically screams bridezilla in the loudest, best way possible. Some tart berry ice cream and an excellent (a little soft, but wonderfully chewy and bright) macaron would make this a perfect dessert along with the cake.

But then…
IMG_20140221_185942_737 Chipwich

This came into our lives. Smooth vanilla ice cream between two sturdy yet biteable chocolate chip cookies. I mean come. on. This is just what you want to eat in your fancy clothes after dancing so hard that you threw out your back. This dessert blew our minds, and our guests minds, too. Something this fun and whimsical perfectly fit our fun and pretty whimsical wedding. Classy right up until the end, when cravings took over.

Any foodie would be thrilled with the food options at Essex House. The team is a dream to work with, the options are limitless, and the food really tastes so delicious.

Toldja I would eat at my own wedding. 

Sponsored Post: A Match Made in Heaven with Rioja Wine and Friday Night Dinner

Every Friday night is family night in the Fritos and Foie Gras Household.
Why?
Well, because we are Jewish.
We aren’t great Jews (look, I like a cheeseburger as much as the next gal), but we are Jews. And one of our favorite things to do is light the candles and welcome in the sabbath with family and friends. Of course, this doesn’t mean that we have to stick to roast chicken and matzoh ball soup.
So, in collaboration with Honest Cooking and Rioja Wine for the Match Made in Heaven campaign, I invite you to host a(non kosher…told you that we weren’t great Jews) tapas dinner. Rioja is a great wine choice for family and friends because it isn’t too pricey, is always ready to drink as soon as it hits the shelves, and ranges in flavors from sweet and jammy reds to crisp, fragrant whites. Rioja is also super food friendly – a good bottle of rioja blends really well with savory, overt, in -your-face flavors. Luckily, those are all flavors that I love.  which makes it ideal to serve with these Spanish-influenced dishes.
I chose a Faustino VII Tempranillo 2011, which is light and fruity, with plenty of cherry notes and a little bit of woodsy background. It’s ideal with this tapas dinner!
My favorite tapas of all times. Sweet, savory, and juicy – this is easy to do as a make-it-yourself station at dinner. Just lay out a few tomato halves, some toasted bread, cut garlic cloves, and salt. BOOM! Interactive dinner, complete!
Be still my heart. Here is where the rioja really shines. It stands up to the intensely spicy, citrusy zing of the jalapeno and fragrant fresh herbs and vegetables. It softens the almost abrasive hit of flavors and rounds out the edges. This can be served in cups so people can just sip as they move around the buffet table.
Usually albondigas are made in a tomatoey sauce with garlic and aromatics, but why not add a little of the Jewish flavor into this sabbath meal? These sweet and sour meatballs have been at every family party since before I was born, and they are almost too easy to be good. Except that they are really are so, so good. They are a meaty, sweet component in a dish full of bright, spicy, vegetal flavors.
Because it’s summer and we have to get some fresh fruit in her somewhere! The kale can be substituted for baby greens or even finely shredded Brussels sporuts if you prefer, and the peaches can be changed for nectarines or plums. Basically, do what feels right. This is a food that almost mirrors the wine exactly – it’s sweet and robust, complementing all of the other flavors at the table.
Not quite patatas bravas, but the next best thing. Crispy, salty, creamy inside and golden brown outside. Thse are great plain, but if you serve them with a little garlic aioli or mayonnaise mixed with chipotles in adobo, you will be in heaven.  You will have halitosis, but you will be in heaven.
Creme Catalan’s lower maintenance cousin. Yes to condensed milk. Yes to creamy texture. Yes to rioja suddenly becoming a dessert wine…whoa, when did that happen?
This is a great meal to serve with friends and family. Throw some jazz on in the background, open up a bottle of rioja and raise a glass to sharing your culture with your loved ones.  Rioja Wine is even making it easier by offering to help you create a wine pairing dinner of your own – just click on the banner at the top of the post!
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. I was compensated for writing it. 

Wedding Review: Ron Ben-Israel’s Delightful and Delicious Wedding Cakes

Remember when I said that I would go through all of my wedding food on the blog?

Okay,  after a quick jaunt to the Mediterranean, now we are back on track.

The most important part of my wedding was obviously the food. And, as I tend to do I focused most of my energy on the savory aspects. I agonized over samosas versus knishes, raw clams versus oyster croquettes, and franks in blankets or mini grilled cheeses. One thing I didn’t think about a lot was the cake.

Until I did.
IMG_20140217_085318_096 We were gifted an upgrade on our wedding package to include a cake by Ron Ben-Israel. Oh, you know, Mr. Sweet Genius himself. Lauded as America’s greatest wedding cake baker. Pastry chef extraordinaire to the stars.

And to us. Wow. Thank you for the this awesome gift, C – you know who you are.
IMG_20140217_090256_080 From the moment we walked into his SoHo studio, we knew this wouldn’t be the standard “here’s a spoonful of icing, what kinda cake do ya want” tasting. We were seated at a table and told to thumb through a book to see what kind of designs we preferred. No, not a picture book.
IMG_20140217_090312_827 An encyclopedia.  IMG_20140217_092925_178 As we waited momentarily for the main man himself, my then-fiance commented on how all the flowers looked so fresh. When I told him that everything on every one of the cakes was edible, he was incredulous.  IMG_20140217_092930_529 From the whimsical to the traditional, Ron Ben-Israel does it all.

And what a man he is. So kind. So funny. SO humble and so genuinely happy to be doing what he does. When he came out and shook our hands, you would think that he was a new baker who just needed his first gig. He seemed so grateful that we were working with him, instead of the other way around. He listened to our ideas and then gently steered us in a direction that would work better. He heard key words and tuned them into a concept. He did not rush or intimidate us. He was sweet, sincere, and was so happy when we asked to take a photo with him that you would never have known that he was a major tv celebrity chef.

But then we tried his cakes. And it was like…oh…this dude is very totally famous because J.H.C. is his stuff amazing.  IMG_20140217_093023_820 Citrus cake  -  moist and light, with a lemony, fresh zing that complements the gentle vanilla flavor. Sweet and refreshing at the same time.

Almond cake – my absolute favorite. Sophsiticated and subtle with slivers of crunchy almonds in a nutty, moist, tender crumbed cake. This was especially delicious with the Nutella ganache.

The best ganaches in this round were the lemon (bright, creamy, zippy), the coconut (fragrant, full bodied, utterly tropical), and the blood orange (tart, sweet, sharp). The Nutella was chocolaty, the raspberry was fruity, and the other flavors were all craveworthy, but these were just the standouts.  IMG_20140217_093028_441 Vanilla cake – very light and mild built to showcase the jewel colored ganache.

Chocolate - deep and fudgy, like Mississippi Mud.

Excellent flavors included the cookies and cream (I swear, they must have scraped the filling out of Oreos to get that flavor so precise!) the pistachio (intensely nutty and creamy), and the cappuccino (buttery, faintly coffee-esque, and quite sweet).

The flavors were all insane. We ended up going with the citrus cake (one of my best friends is allergic to tree nuts, and I couldn’t imagine her not being able to enjoy the almond cake at the wedding) with cappuccino, blood orange, and coconut fillings. I could have sworn that I would want a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, but Ron Ben Israel showed me the light. He assured us that this flavor combination would be sophisticated and delicious, which is just how we wanted the food at our wedding to taste.

It was supreme.

And it looked…well, you can see how it looked.

SarahJosh_Reception_011 I know. It’s the prettiest thing that I have ever seen, too.

SarahJosh_Reception_390 And the most delicious cake that I have ever eaten.

This cake is expensive. But if you are deciding between high end cake makers, I can’t recommend Ron Ben-Israel enough. He is a doll and he does beautiful, delicious work. He will make your wedding dress bust at the seams.

I’m proud to say that I ate a ton at my own wedding.

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Thank you so much, Ron Ben-Israel, for making dreams that I didn’t’ even know I had come true. 

Soiree in the Park and Other Bites

So what have I been eating recently? Fine, I’ll tell you:

20140529_194519 I attended Soiree in the Park as press. This event is part of New Taste of the Upper West Side, and the proceeds go towards keeping Theodore Roosevelt Park clean and safe for the neighborhood – it’s hard to feel bad about spending money when it goes towards such a great cause! Though this year’s event was held on a very cold night, there were some great eats, including some of my favorite sweets: 20140529_195928 Oh Sarabeth’s. You don’t just do a good rehearsal dinner, you do a damned good cookie. The rugalech is buttery and flaky, the chocolate is fudgy and moist, and that apricot jam cookie. Um, yeah. That one is great. Very rich shortbread cookies, dipped in glossy chocolate, with a sticky sweet apricot jam filling. This is a rather pricey event,  but if you have the money to spend, you could do worse than chowing down on a barrel-full of these cookies! 20140607_124441 Huevos Rancheros at El Centro

How did I live in Hell’s Kitchen for 7 years and never come here? It’s a really fun Mexican restaurant with great margaritas that would be perfect for a birthday dinner with friends. On this occasion, I had an outdoor brunch with a friend and though the sidewalk seating is tight, it isn’t at all too cramped. I had the huevos rancheros and for the price and the portion – this is great! The eggs are sunny side up with rich yolks and a zingy, onion and tomato influenced enchilada sauce. Cubes of buttery avocado, melty cheese, and sour cream rounded it all off. Refried beans and crispy, freshly fried tostada shells…I mean, what more do you need? Oh, besides one of those limey margaritas, of course. Look, it isn’t Cookshop, but it’s delish in its own right.  20140626_083643 Smoked salmon tartine from Le Pain Quotidien

A chain so good that I hesitate to even call it a chain. Really, this place does fresh and seasonal better than most high end places that claim that they specialize in such food. The smoked salmon is pleasantly salty and firm – not mushy like lesser versions. It’s served with ripe avocado, fresh scallions, and some of the chewiest, sourest peasant bread around. An excellent light but filling breakfast.

Oia Castle Suites – A Shining Moment of Perfection

There are hotels. There are honeymoons. And then, there are moments where you have to pinch yourself to remember that all of this is real, that it is life, and that it is your life. And that, for one moment in time, it seems like all of your dreams and wishes have crossed paths.

That’s what it’s like staying at the Oia Castle Suites in Santorini.

20140503_191459 When you drive up to the pedestrian town of Oia, cars are not allowed to proceed past the post office. So, your car drops you there and a man (who looks like a mortal but is clearly a G-d with Herculean strength) straps all of your luggage to a small dolly… 20140503_191931(0) and then wheels it down the (seemingly endless) steps to the cliff side hotel, where you check in in our room. As he parts the throngs of people crowded to let you pass, you can’t help but feel like King Ali Ababwa. It’s weird and incredibly cool at the same time.

DSC_0457 We stayed in the Eros suite, and after the exceptional hotel staff (small but mighty, efficient, helpful, and enthusiastic…I can’t stay enough about the incredible people who work here) checked us in on our own shaded balcony, we left to explore the room.
DSC_0432 We stayed in one of Santorini’s famed cave hotels – our hotel, comprised of just a few rooms, is literally located on the side of a cliff. That’s right, we did this deluxe Flinstone’s style. The hotel is privately owned, and rumor has it that the owner stocks the room with furniture and art from his personal collection. The effect is charming and personalized – you really feel like you are staying in someone’s home. DSC_0431 Cave bed

Literally, the ONLY downside to the hotel. And it’s so minor that I hesitate to call it a downside. Because you are in…well…a cave (with wifi and cable – so surreal!), the sheets are always VERY slightly damp. The bed is nestled into a nook carved out of solid stone and instead of fitted sheets, there are flat sheets folded under the sides of the bed. That means that when you roll over in the night, you will take some sheet with you and will probably wake up on bare mattress. And you will be turning…that mattress is thin. Look, we didn’t’ sleep the best at this hotel. But we didnt’ care, either! We came back in the heat of the afternoon and napped. We lounged on our padded terrace benches. Long story short – the not-great bed is worth it. The hotel is so exceptional that it couldn’t be MORE worth it.
20140505_221032 Yes, that’s an image of Eros himself emerging from the seas on our closet. Yes, that’s a rococo style mirror on the wall.

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Yes, that’s another shower that turns into a steam cabin, this time with changing lights like in a limo that you take to prom. Yes, I love it ALL.

But not as much as I love this:

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Oh yes, that’s another private pool. This time, it’s huge, indoor, and carved into the cave. Also heated. Big enough for 4 people to splash and play “horse”. Deep enough to swim in, shallow enough to not sink in.

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It’s the most luxurious feeling in the world…slipping into a pool in the middle of the day and – wait for it – turning on the JETS right for a midnight dip before bed. It couldn’t be more beautiful or luxurious.

And speaking of beautiful, check this out:

20140503_194252 There are only a handful of hotels in Oia that have a direct sunset view, and Oia Castle Suites is, unquestionably, the best of that bunch. Oia’s sunset is world-famous, and every day, people line up 2 hours ahead of time at the tip of the island just to see the sun sink into the sea. They have to crowd and bundle up and stretch their aching legs for 20 minutes of glory.

Or, you know, they saunter out onto heir balcony whenever they damn well feel like it, pop a bottle of champers, and watch the circus and the sunset from their comfy seats.

I literally hate myself.

But oh damn I loved this feature of the hotel. This is worth the price of admission. You never have to beg for a sunset view at a restaurant, you never have to line up early, and you never have to even put shoes on.

Plus, the sunset really is extraordinary.

20140504_094931 Though the restaurant is clearly way too small to have a restaurant, there is a delicious breakfast served in your room every day. Just order it the night before and the next morning, feast on fresh muesli, farm fresh eggs scrambled with ham, and peeled cucumbers with sweet tomatoes and salty feta cheese. Dip flaky cheese and spinach pastries into dill-scented tzatziki, and for PETE’S SAKE, please eat that yogurt. This yogurt was the best of the entire trip. Insanely dense and creamy, with as slightly tart taste that counteracts the honey soaked, candied grapes that burst with sugar upon your tongue. This breakfast is one of which I could never tire.

Why am I not still here? The location is ideal – views of the sunset and steps away from the best restaurants and shops on the island. The little touches like a bedside espresso machine and speakers inside the pool make it an almost surreal retreat. You are in a cave that is thousands of years old with air conditioning and luxury Korres bath products…like, really? The prices aren’t cheap, but you get what you pay for at this hotel. The staff could not be more helpful or responsive to emails, the breakfast is scrumptious, and the combination of total isolation, ultimate luxury, and access to fabulous restaurants. I can’t recommend this hotel enough for the honeymoon of a lifetime.

It’s Camelot in Greece. It’s fleeting, but the beauty and the memories last forever.

Disclaimer: I was given a media rate at this hotel. My opinions are unbiased and my own. Don’t miss this stop…it was unbelievable. 

Rhone Odyssey – Snow in the Dining Room?!

I get to go to some pretty cool events. I mean, I’m a lucky girl.

But an event where it snows at dinner?

Yeah, this one took the cake.

20140611_170422 I was invited to a dinner – Rhone Oddysey – given in honor of wines from the Rhone Valley and it was a totally enveloping experience.
20140611_170445 We walked into a large, totally dark space with one lit table filled with Rhone Valley wines. White, red, and everything in between.

Then we were led into dinner… 20140611_172051 No, you aren’t seeing red. That’s the way that the dinner space looked…entirely red. We were told that we would be taking a multi-sensory journey through the wines of the Rhone Valley, and as soon as the red light faded away, images of the different countries from where the dish’s inspiration was taken was projected onto the billowing white sheet walls. Oh, and it rained, snowed, and was brilliantly sunny as we learned that Rhone wines really are wines for all seasons. It was part amusement park, part dinner, and totally fun and tasty. Meals were courtesy of Chef Russell Jackson of SubCulture Dining and wine pairings were from Boulud Sud’s Michael Madrigale.

20140611_172426  Scandinavia – Winter

Rye and bulgur crisp with fat, butter, and ash. Malted wheat dirt with pickled carrots and Brussels sprouts

Delicious, even though the cracker was too hard to bite. You kind of had to suck on it to soften the dense, bedrock hard cracker. However, the flavor is wonderful – earthy and nutty, tempered by the fatty, lush lard and the soft, unsalted butter. Add a bite of sour, crispy pickled veggies and this is a dish that I could eat over and over…with some softer bread the next time. 20140611_173128 Poached egg, parsnip, nettle why, farmstead cheese

My favorite dish of the night. Simple and carefully constructed. The egg is poached until the white is firm and the yolk is almost fully boiled through. It’s very rich in the creamy parsnip broth with the salty, sharp parmesan-like cheese curls. It’s fancy poached egg minus the toast, and it couldn’t be more delicious.

20140611_174631 Japan –  Spring

Kombu cured tuna with rice, egg, pickled vegetables, smoked kombu broth, and fermented tofu

The combination of ingredients is just extraordinary. The tuna is subtle in taste and soft in texture. It’s  barely seared, so it has some savory warmth on the outside and is still rare on the inside. The rice is vinegared and warm, covered in a creamy egg foam. The veggies are tart and pickled, and though the broth is an afterthought, the crispy nori cracker is surprisingly savory and round with umami taste.  20140611_180357 Mexico – Summer

Deconstructed mole with poultry roulade, smoked grains and seeds, and chevre tamale

The only true misstep of the night. The roulade is fine, if dry but the rest of it is less than stellar. The tamale is an ice-cold blob of coat cheese and the mole is way too chocolaty - all of the other flavors are totally obstructed. The grains are unmemorable and the pepper raja is kind of slimy. Too bad, because good mole isn’t good…it’s oustanding.  20140611_181304 Just a little summer shower…pretty much the coolest event I have ever attended.  20140611_182058

NYC – Fall

Apple pie, cheese cake, and scdnyc almond black and white cookie

Phenomenal. The black and white cookie was my favorite part – intensely almondy and sweet, with a moist, sticky texture and a nutty, vanilla scented taste.

This meal was served with a variety of red and white wines from the Rhone valley. I was impressed with the white wines – in particular, a Costieres de Nimes that was light and crisp without being sour, and a Muscat that was sweet and fragrant without being syrupy or sugary. The red wines ranged from fruity to peppery, vintage to young, and the price points were all very reasonable.

This dinner was incredible in every way and I will absolutely be buying some Rhone wines soon…and looking into getting snow in my dining room.

Disclaimer: This was a media event. I was not compensated nor required to write about it and my opinions are my own and unbiased.

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Programming…

For a technical error. Involving cobblestones, a Droid phone, and probably a large amount of Xanax.

Back on Monday with more delicious honeymoon eats.

Fly me to the (Honey)Moon

It’s not all about tzatziki and wine.

Sometimes it’s about flying there.

And, of course, eating while getting there.

So, without further ado, here is a pictorial breakdown of British Air business class’s  menu:

20140429_090227 Charcuterie plate with hardboiled eggs, meats, and cheeses

Tasty for an airplane but not for a restaurant. The meat is a little dry and the bread is a little cottony. However, the hardboiled eggs have velvety whites and rich yolks – fantastic.  20140429_090232 Muesli

This stuff is good. It’s like rice pudding with a creamy consistency and vanilla-y scent. It’s overtly sweet and has a very simple, comforting way about it – perfect when ou are settling in for a  6 hour flight.  20140429_092245 Smoked duck and beetroot salad

The duck is WAY too smoky - it tastes like someone dipped it in cigarette ash. Too bad, because the frisee is dressed with a little lemon juice and the beet salad is creamy and tangy – totally delicious. The duck is tender but that insanely smoky taste just ruined it for me. Luckily, the vegetables are delicious all on their own.  20140429_094011 Roses in the bathroom

Because, hi…honeymoon! 20140429_122051 Serve yourself afternoon tea from the pantry

Those little sandwiches are filled with sharp cheddar (as Nigella might say, it nearly scrapes the roof of your mouth) with a spreading of sweet onion chutney. Cheddar and chutney is a classic British treat and I wish that we ate it more here…it’s filling, multifaceted, and easy to make. The chips sound gross but are totally delicious. They don’t taste like chicken, they taste like chicken seasonings. Imagine baked potatoes with thyme, rosemary, black pepper, and garlic. That is what these chips taste like and they are great.  20140429_133533 Pre-arrival snack

Balik salmon – my fave in the world. It’s cured very gently and is fatty without seeming over the top or greasy. It’s so rich and soft that it ACTUALLY melts in your mouth. Creme fraiche is a little over the top, but that’s never a bad thing. The mozzarella is soft and drizzled with olive oil and the Serrano ham is excellent – pleasantly salty and wrapped around a sweet date. The shrimp in the back is anyone’s guess – I didn’t try it.

Plane food isn’t often amazing, but this stuff more than did the job before I fully committed myself to gaining 11 lbs in as many days.

Sponsored Post: My First Nutella – Spread The Smiles!

Some people remember the first time that they threw a baseball. Some remember their first kiss. I remember the first time that I ever tried Nutella.


I was at a private school after 12 years of public school. That meant that I had to get used to uniforms, 3 different electives a semester (And the choices were things like “critical decision making”), and a half hour commute.

Needless to say, I was in over my head.

The class that I was most nervous about was French class. Most kids who went to this school had been there since, it seemed, birth, and had been taking French since then. When the first day of French class, every kid could rattle off the entire alphabet and count to 100 in this new language, I felt like I had been thrown to the wolves. How would I ever catch up? What the hell was “the subjunctive?” I was, to put it in their terms “le screwed.”

But then, right after I failed a pop quiz (of course), our teacher decided to introduce us to a little bit of French culture. She passed out small slices of baguette and a jar of Nutella with a knife.

As we listened to French pop music, I waited for the jar to make the rounds and come back towards my desk. I dipped my clear plastic knife into the jar and swirled it around the thick, smooth, chocolatey spread, I lifted it to the baguette, carefully spreading a thin layer on the bread. There was no way that chocolate would taste good on bread, but whatever – it beat conjugating verbs for 30 minutes.

Then, I lifted the small tartine to my lips and took a bite. I instantly regretted spreading the Nutella so thinly. It was…unreal. Intensely chocolatey, but not bitter – sweet and creamy. The nutty note was a little salty and very earthy, but not too thick or gritty. It just tempered the chocolate and reminded me a little bit of peanut butter. The biggest revelation was how delicious it was on the chewy, floury baguette. It was the best snack I have ever had before or since.

Since then, I learned to keep up in French class, discovered how to personalize my uniform (cool colored shoelaces, anyone?) and I have eaten Nutella all over the world (including in France), but nothing has tasted as delicious as that Nutella on a baguette in 1997.
To share your own Nutella story, visit the Tumblr and find out where the Nutella truck is going on its 50th anniversary “spread the smile” campaign! If it comes to your town, expect games, prizes, and TONS of Nutella!
Blogger disclosure:
This post was brought to you by Ferrero U.S.A, Inc., the makers of Nutella® hazelnut spread.  I received promotional consideration to write this post to support the Nutella 50th Anniversary … all opinions expressed are my own.