Sunday, August 31, 2008

Back to the keypad....

Apologies, dear readers. California is just so much fun, I don't have time to blog. It also doesn't help that I'm trying to stay on New York time by going to bed at 10pm every night. What can I say? I'm an old lady.

Last time I was in California, somehow it came up that my mom had never been to high tea. She said it wistfully - I could see her imagining herself in a pretty dress, in an elegant hotel ballroom, sipping tea with her daughters. So I took it upon myself to make some reservations for tea while I was here in CA. She seemed pretty excited about it. I'm such a good daughter.

Dressed in our summer-y finest, we headed out to San Francisco to have tea at the Fairmont Hotel. It was very old time-y and classic San Francisco.

They started us out with some pear-basil sorbet in a peanut brittle cup. It was quite refreshing (high tea makes you say things like "quite").

We each picked a tea, Darjeeling for my mom and the Fairmont Blend for me (I reasoned I should get something I couldn't get anywhere else). They served it in individual pots with those fancy little strainers.

Then they brought out a three tiered tray of sandwiches, scones and pastries. Who doesn't love that?

I couldn't quite fit the sandwiches in the picture - here they are again.

They were very flavorful for tea sandwiches - no bland cucumbers here. There was coconut chicken curry, rare slices of beef with watercress, crab salad on a corn muffin (really really good), smoked salmon pinwheels and goat cheese with sundried tomato tapenade (I love goat cheese).

The scones were excellent as well. You really can't have tea without scones. The best part about scones? You get to eat devonshire cream with them.

Yum! They also had lemon curd that my mom loved. I'm all about the cream though. We ate our little pastries (my mom liked the eclairs best, I preferred the madelines), took the rest home and called it a day (actually, we called it a massive traffic jam, thanks to a fire on Yerba Buena Island). But even being stuck in the car for two hours could not ruin our lovely day.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I'm tired of being the last New Yorker left in New York City

Everyone I know has gone summering somewhere interesting already - be it Minnesota, the Pocanos, Los Angeles or Paris, I've had enough jealousy. I've flown the Big Apple to spend some quality time in Oakland, CA, eating, seeing theatre and watching Obama speak on television with my dad (Zack didn't get to come.....he has a job).

Prepare yourselves for some great posts on the Zuni Cafe, High Tea at the Fairmont, and the difference in ballpark cuisines from Brooklyn to Oakland. Until then, watch this video and think of the democratic process in light of our ongoing Democratic National Convention.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Lena and Alli go to Serendipity

When my Uncle Steven suggested that we go to Serendipity, I was shocked. As far as I understood, he had a long standing hatred of the place, stating that the line was too long and the food was no good. That being said, the last time he had set foot in the place was 1996. But, off we went.

One thing about Serendipity's? They have really big menus.

Alli really wanted the Frozen Hot Chocolate. It's the signature item on the menu.

It was good except for one thing - they didn't put whipped cream on the top! I thought maybe they didn't do that anymore (we were the first ones in the restaurant). But then other people had whipped cream on theirs and we were annoyed. But we'd already eaten it. Whoops. We liked it anyways.

Alli also had french toast. It was really good.

There's also a movie that takes place at Serendipity.....called Serendipity....but don't see it. It sucks.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Lena and Alli Eat S'mores

One of the things my sister wanted to do in New York was eat s'mores. Freshman year of college (oh so long ago), my friends and I used to go to Cosi and order s'mores. A lot. Cosi has since lost our favor, but luckily, there's a new place in town for a chocolate fix. Max Brenner (also known as the bald man chocolates) caught the attention of my dad one visit (he loves bald men who are represented in the media - solidarity, I guess) and I've liked it ever since. And so, off we went.

They brought out marshmallows and a tiny fire.... well as chocolate fondue, graham crackers, raspberry sauce, peanut butter, and my sister's favorite - toffee covered banana slices.

Here she is, roasting her marshmallow....

...rockin' the fondue with her chocolate covered marshmallow.

And scarfing the s'mores like a true happy camper.

She likes it! Mikey likes it!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Lena and Alli go to the Farmer's Market

My sister and I were walking around Manhattan, shopping to our hearts content, when we passed the Union Square Farmer's Market. Have you been there? I like it there a lot. Sometimes I'm sad that I have my CSA and don't just have the opportunity to browse and get my vegetables there (I still could, but then I'd have a ridiculous amount of food). But we decided to take a break from shopping and take a stroll through the market. We stopped at a cheese stand (they had samples) and Alli noticed they had fresh mozzarella. "Can we get some?" she asked. "Well, we're not going straight home, it might not hold up well in the next five hours..." I replied. "No," she blushed. "Can we get some just to eat now?"

A word about my sister - she loves fresh mozzarella. A lot. I've seen her eat an entire ball of bufalo mozzarella in five minutes. I've seen this more than once.

"Yeah, alright," I shrugged. I have a problem saying no to her. "But we have to get some tomatoes as well.

Here's Alli, pleased as punch at her afternoon snack.

Here she is with the tomato I insisted that she buy to go with it.

Yum, tomatoes....

Yum, cheese.....

Yum, double fisting!!!! Tomatoes and cheese! Life is complete.

We ate this much cheese while sitting in the park.

Whoops. I hope that she ate most of that and not me (and chances are, she probably did). Another lovely afternoon.

Friday, August 22, 2008

What else is there to eat in Brooklyn?

Lots of things, apparently. Alli and I were heading home from the baseball game (which was rained out), and we passed this window:

Alli insisted that we stop and pick up one of these.

No Alli! Don't hit me with the apple!

Oh phew, here it is.

We took it home and cut it up.

It was delicious. The apple was really firm and not too sweet and the caramel was just right. Zack only got a little bit. But hey, you snooze, you lose.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Lena and Alli: The Search for Knishes

Every time I visit Coney Island, my dad says "You know what you should do? You should walk down to Brighton Beach and get some knishes." Usually, I say "yeah, yeah maybe," but really, I think "eh. It seems kinda far." But this past Friday, my sister and I were down at Coney Island, waiting around for the Brooklyn Cyclones game to start. We rode the roller coaster....

But we still had some time left, so I figured, hey, why not. It seemed like a perfectly good way to spend a Friday afternoon. And so off we went, down the boardwalk. But where are the knishes?

I don't know....maybe let's check the sign.

Still no knishes. Hmmmm.

Let's look a little farther down the boardwalk.

Hey, here we are! Brighton...towers? Well, that must mean Brighton Beach.

There must be a store somewhere that's called "Best Knishes Ever" or something...

Taste of Russia! Close enough. Look at the pretty knishes.

We bought three: raspberry, poppyseed and cheese.

This one looks delicious.

Alli takes a bite.

Yum, poppyseed filling. Love it. And look at that flaky goodness.

I like it too. But I don't like people taking pictures of me.

Let's go back to the beach. Hey, another store!

Potato knishes? Let's try one.

These don't look like our other knishes.

Alli's laughing, but she doesn't like it. They do not hold up to Taste of Russia.

And so concludes Lena and Alli: The Search for Knishes. Stay tuned for trips to many restaurants that feature chocolate.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

More Lena and Alli time....

Soon you will hear about the many tales of Lena and Alli gallivanting around New York. But not tonight, since my little sister spent most of the night bogarting my computer and now I'm tired.

Check us out on Geekanerd, where we ate food and spotted Storm Troopers in Brooklyn. Awesome.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Sisters! Eggplant!

My sister is visiting me! If you've never met her, she looks like this:

We've been having a wild and crazy time here in New York. One of the first things we did? We made Eggplant Parmesan (yes, I know. We really represent the youth of America). I took my gigantic eggplant that I got from my CSA and chopped it up thin-ish.

Meanwhile, Alli grated two kinds of cheese - Romano and Parmesan.

I mixed the grated Romano with some bread crumbs (I used whole wheat panko - a Japanese brand - they're finer than regular bread crumbs or something) and some dried basil.

I noticed that the recipe (this recipe - I used it as a loose guideline) said to salt the eggplant slices and put them in a strainer and leave them for half an hour. I got hungry, so I only waited ten minutes.

I rinsed them off and tried to get the bread crumbs to stick to the eggplant slices. They didn't. What to do?

I heated up some olive oil in a pan and racked my brain. I decided to make an egg wash. That's when you mix up an egg and some water and use it to try to make things stick better. Things like panko/Romano cheese mixtures.

I dipped the eggplant in the egg wash, then dipped it in the panko/Romano mixture. It worked alright. I started to fry.

I let them get golden brown on each side and then flipped them over. It took about two minutes per side.

Then came the fun part. I lay the slices down in a casserole dish. On top of each slice, I put a little bit of homemade marinara. I used this recipe, minus the turkey. Then I put a slice of fresh mozzarella and sprinkled some Parmesan on top. Woo hoo! We're cooking now.

I laid a second slice of eggplant on top of each slice and repeated the sauce, cheese, cheese moves. Here's how it looks:

Then I baked it at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Oh it looks so good. I made some spaghetti on the side (quinoa, don't cha know. It's healthier) and mixed it in the leftover sauce.

It was an awesome dinner. Alli loved it and she claimed to not like eggplant. Here she is enjoying it. What an excellent start to our trip.