Fox Run Vineyards: A Chardonnay Not Aged In Oak Barrel’s

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I live in a decent neighborhood, not the best, but I’ve never felt unsafe. I border a little bit of a dodgier neighborhood, but it’s being gentrified quickly. Needless to say I have a number of liquor stores close by, and a wine store that is a block away. The liquor stores are the ones with the bullet proof glass and your liquor is rotated to you on something like a Lazy Susan so you can’t take the liquor before you pay. It scared me a little when I first went in, not going to lie.

In winter, I hate to walk far, so I have ended up at said neighborhood wine store many a times. It’s slightly over priced, or maybe just simply out of my budget I don’t know. Needless to say I always look for the under $15 bottles and then just choose a label I like. But, in my hunt for Finger Lake wines I found a chardonnay from Fox Run that was $13 and thought it would be perfect for my evening.

I asked for the chilled bottle, which he promptly got from a little fridge to the side. I walked home and uncorked it. I am not always a fan of Chardonnay as it can be too creamy, almost milky in my opinion, and I hate drinking milk. This was light, creamy, but not overpowering. It was bright, with a light acidity. It tasted like summer. Once looking at Fox Run Vineyards website, I found that it is aged in stainless steel as opposed to oak, and as a learning wine-o I think this may be what I now look for in a Chardonnay.

Fox Run Farms Chardonnay

Vineyard: Fox Run

Wine: Chardonnay 2014, Doyle Family

Tasting Notes: Bright, light acidity, not too creamy. It tastes like fresh summer fruits, specifically nectarines.

Production Notes: Aged in stainless steel (This is definitely what gave it such good flavor, or lack of woodiness).

Pairing: Pairs well with shrimp, light white fish, and a good summer fruit tart!

Salty Snacks: A Book For Salt Lovers

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As a salty food lover, a co-worker and friend got me a Salty Snacks for my birthday a year ago. I’ve opened it many times, and attempted one or two recipes before, but I finally really committed to making a recipe, and reviewing it here. Instead of doing pretzels, which I will eventually get to, I decided on Poppy Seed Crackers.

Poppy Seed CrackersThis recipe was super simple, and I had all the ingredients at home as I had recently made a lemon poppy seed loaf, so poppy seeds were abundant. I baked the crackers in batches, as I couldn’t fit all the crackers on to one baking sheet. They taste similar to water crackers, or you know the assorted cracker box that comes with the poppy seed water crackers? Something like that, but mine were denser, which I personally really enjoyed.

Naturally I got out some meat, cheese, a little fruit, and made myself a cheese plate for some 5 O’clock Wine, because why not? I have to say I have never had warm crackers, and a warm cracker against cool cheese was a very great taste experience.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

Here is the recipe:

– 2 cups all-purpose flour

– 1/4 cup poppy seeds

– 2 teaspoons baking powder

– 1 teaspoon kosher salt

– 1/2 cup water

– 1/2 cup olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375 F and line two baking sheets (or one depending on the size of your oven) with parchment paper.

Stir together the flour, poppy seeds, baking powder and salt.  Make a well in the center and add the water and olive oil and stir until you have a nice dough.  Do not over work the dough, or may become too tough.

Divide the dough into 4 even portions.  Use a pasta machine, or a rolling pin (I substitued with an empty wine bottle) to roll 1 portion out into a rectangle about 1/16 inch thick.  With a pizza cutter, or a normal knife, cut the dough lengthwise into 2 – 3 inch strips.  Then cut across into 2 inch squares or rectangles.  Arrange the dough pieces on the baking sheet so that they are not touching.  Bake th crackers for about 12 -15 minutes, until they are lightly browned.

Continue this process until all of your dough is used!

Tacombi for Tacos

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A friend of mine just moved to the East Village, and I had not caught up with him since college. As I was off work that day I offered to meet him in his hood. He suggested a taco place that had never been on my radar, but does happen to be across the street from my favorite dive bar, Tom and Jerry’s. The taco place is called Tacombi at Fonda Nolita. It is on Elizabeth just below Houston.

Disclaimer: I didn’t take any pictures while there so I used some from Interior Junkie.

Interior Daylight

I arrived early, at about 5pm. The place wasn’t crowded yet and I was told I could sit anywhere. I would soon learn that what just happened was a blessing and a fluke. When we finally left, the place was packed and there was a long wait. When I came back for a second round of tacos a few weeks later, I could not be seated without my whole party and there was still a 20-minute wait once the whole party was there.

taco4

Needless to say, it is an awesome and fun taco joint. They have a happy hour that lasts until 7pm which is two for one beverages, pitchers excluded. The tacos are made in an old VW bus. The atmosphere, when crowded, feels like a bit of a Mexican fiesta. They have strung lights across the ceilings, and it is bustling.

The first time I came with Brandon we had a lot to catch up on and started with just drinks. We order some chips and guacamole next as neither of us were too hungry yet. The waiter kept asking us if we’d like to order more, I chose to ignore him as I wanted to just sit and catch up with my friend.

TacoWhen we were finally ready I asked Brandon for some recommendations. He suggested the crispy fish taco.   I order a crispy fish taco, the special taco of the night, and a chicken taco. Brandon got the crispy fish taco, and a chicken quesadilla. He strategized with me to separate the tortillas and disperse the filling as to get a better taco experience. He was right.  I also have to say that the quesadilla is really great, definitely one of the best in New York.

Esquites CornWhen I returned a second time with Brian and Emma, Brian told me that what this place was really well-known for was the Corn Esquites. It is roasted corn, with lime, and chipotle mayo. It is a new take on Mexican corn on the cob, and it is epically delicious. Make sure to give it a stir as to disperse the mayo throughout the corn.

As for cocktails the Paloma’s are delicious. Fresh, tart, with a nice salt rim.

Drinks

While browsing their website I found out that they actually source all of their ingredients from local farmers who are hormone and antibiotic free. Anything that is not locally sourced is bought from Fair Trade farmers in Mexico.

I think this is my new go-to Taco joint, and not going to lie, I’m pretty excited about it.

Wine Mouth – Montepulciano D’Abruzzo by Villa Cerrina

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I am by no means, in anybody’s mind, a wine connoisseur. In fact I know very little about wine, besides the fact that I like to drink it – red, white or rose, I love it. But, there are a couple of bottles that I do particularly enjoy. As a 24-year-old, I don’t have the money or interest in buying expensive bottles of wine, so all of the bottles I discuss will be under $20, and normally under $15. My goal is to find the best cheap wine!

My friend Chelsea showed me this bottle of Montepulciano D’Abruzzo by Villa Cerrina at Trader Joe’s for $5. It is the best $5 bottle of red wine I’ve found so far. It is medium bodied, tart wine with “good tannins” – so says the Internet. If I were to describe it I would say it has a bit of berry background to it, and is medium bodied. Pairs well with pastas, chili, and a night in chatting with friends.

Montepulciano D'Abruzzo

Trader Joe’s is definitely one of my favorite wine shops to get cheap wine. I used to do Two-Buck Chuck in college, I now know that it is the worst wine. Straight up, it’s disgusting. But when you are a broke college student looking to get a little tipsy, two-buck chuck does the job just fine. We actually used to buy it by the case; that is pretty gross to think about now.

I am going to be browsing the aisles of a few wine shops to try to find some good cheap wines. I am also interested in looking at different areas – parts of New York, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, etc. I’m setting out to learn a bit about wine, through my own blog. My friend wants to go to the finger lakes for wine tasting for her birthday, so I am going to be on the hunt for some good wineries up there.

Vineyard: Villa Cerrina

Wine: Montepulciano D’Abruzzo

Tasting Notes: Root vegetables, light tannins, smooth finish.

Pairing: Pairs well with lamb, chili (vegetarian or meat), wintry nights at home with friends, and chocolate. It is a good table wine.

Fun Fact: Montepulciano grapes are grown in the Abruzzo region of Italy, which runs from the Apennines to the Adriatic Coast.

Chicken For Two: The Nomad Hotel

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There are no pictures of this meal, the same way there are some situations that no words can describe. I’m talking about the Chicken for Two at The Nomad Hotel in NYC. There are few ways to describe the deliciousness of this meal.

As I combed through the menu at lunch the day of the meal, I noticed one thing – the price of it all. The cocktails started at $16 a piece. So, naturally my friend, Brian, and I decided to go get a few drinks before. Brian is my new food pal. I didn’t know he was so into food, but when I found out he was, I pounced on the opportunity to find someone who was willing to spend money on the taste experiences.

We walked the few blocks to the restaurant, I had my backpack, and he had his gym bag. I had done my best to dress nicely, but as my work does not require me to, I had a hard time putting together an outfit. As we walked in the front door I knew I would feel under dressed. Lucky for us, they had a free coat check, where our bags could be left as well. And I happen to notice that I would not have been the only person with a backpack.

They sat us at a table towards the front; I had a view of most of the restaurant, while Brian had a view of only one set of tables. The advantage of my seat is that I could see all of the food coming out, and then being consumed by faces of pure delight.

We started with the drink menu, pages of drinks sorted by alcohol types with names such as Satan’s Circus and Start Me Up. Brian went with the All Betz Are Off following the trend of gin from our drinks before. I went with the V.O.C. – a little bit of a spicier touch.

We knew we would be ordering the chicken, but we decided to taste an appetizer as well. If you’re there you might as well go big, that’s always been my feeling on food. We ordered the Tuna Tartar served two ways.

As we were munching on our Tuna Tartar the waiter came out to show us our whole chicken, uncarved and perfectly crispy on the outside. He let us know that they would be carving it up in order to serve it. Not 10 minutes later were these beautiful warm plates set in front of us. A chicken breast, skin laid on top, with a warm lentil and salad underneath and a side of crisped brussel sprouts. My mouth began to water before the plate had even touched the table.

Nomad White Chicken

Where to begin?

As I started in with a bite of the chicken breast the waiter came back with the dark meet served in a small cast iron dish. The dark meet was tossed in butter and shallots, topped with a hollandaise sauce and a pass of brussel sprouts on top. I knew my eyes were bigger than my stomach, how could I taste it all and appreciate it all without devouring it first?

I took a bite of the lentils. I took bite of the chicken and lentils. I took a bite of the dark meat. Now I could determine how I wanted to go about finishing this meal. I preferred the chicken breast on my plate, so I would finish my plate first. A bite of the chicken with the skin, a bite of the chicken without the skin, I wanted to taste the layers of foie gras in the skin, in the meat, and the actual foie gras.

Brian and I both cleared our plates before starting on the dark meat, but by then we were both too full to finish it. We ate what we came for – the foie gras chicken breast. Daniel Humm, you are a god in my world.

Concise Review:

Overall a really great atmosphere, high ceilings with an atrium. Dark red décor, which was sexy and warm, perfect for winter. The service was impeccable; the music was not too loud. I would highly recommend anybody to eat here; you don’t even have to be an adventurous eater to try it!

Babka: You Can’t Go Wrong With Chocolate And Bread

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Babka. Where do I even begin with this deliciousness? I was first introduced to Babka at Bread Bakery by Union Square in NYC. I was working at some offices above the bakery and I stopped in to grab a cup of coffee, when I was offered a sample of Babka. I could tell right away that is was going to be delicious; you can’t go wrong with chocolate and bread. But, I was unprepared for the orgasm that my mouth experienced.

Warm BabkaThis Babka was warm and tasted like it was fresh out of the oven; the chocolate was slightly tart, the bread was airy and light, the sugar stuck to my fingers. It melted in my mouth, and all I wanted was for it to last longer. I debated going back for a second sample, but thought it too rude of me, so instead I came back later in the day for a 2nd, and then a 3rd sample.

So, I did what any baker does, I decided to look up recipes and attempt to make said Babka. I have to say that I am by no means an experienced bread bakery. In fact I have really only made beer bread, and biscuits. So, active yeast is not really something I have mastered just yet. That is not to say that my Babka was not tasty as all hell, it just wasn’t the perfection that Bread Bakery had going.

Babka with knifeI decided to go with this recipe from Double Thyme blog. I liked its simplicity, it was easy to follow, and by the looks of it, it would give me a solid Babka. I’m an impatient person when it comes to yeast. Who has two, three, four hours to just sit and let it rise? I mean technically I do, but in reality I end up on other projects in 4 hours.

So my confession is I only let the dough rise for about 6 hours. I wanted to bake it that day, and that’s the time I had to let it rise. I realize now, had it sat over night, or longer, it may have become a little lighter and airy, as I had desired.

But, it came out as delicious because you really can’t go wrong with chocolate and bread. Although the bread was a bit thick, the chocolate was warm and the dough was doughy. The hint of lemon zest gave it a really nice citrus touch, not over whelming, but your taste buds tingled with lemon and chocolate at the end. I will have to attempt to make this again, with more patience the next time around.

Babka Up-Close

It All Started With A Chocolate Bar – PB M&M Cookies

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Finally getting back into the swing of baking, a hobby of mine that seems to have been put on hold more often than I like it to be. It’s not that I don’t have the time to do it; it’s more that I have nobody to eat my goodies. I know my friends will read this, and go “I would eat it.” But guys, if I was baking every weekend, trust me you’d hate me.

Big Batch PB M&M CookiesI decided to start with something easy and simple, cookies. Who doesn’t love a solid cookie recipe? A go-to recipe if you will. This recipe started from a simple desire from a friend, Chelsea, who craved a box of chocolates. Some how that turned into reading BuzzFeed articles about peanut butter treats, which quickly lead to the idea of making peanut butter cookies. From there I couldn’t resist but add a little flair – some chocolate, some M&Ms, some peanut M&Ms? To be honest the thought of throwing some Recess Pieces in there never crossed our mind, but they might have been the best option. Any who, we decided on Peanut Butter M&M cookies.

PB M&M CookiesI did some research on what other people had happening, and settled on this recipe by Cinnamon-Spice & Everything Nice. I have to say, I’m a soft cookie fan with the exception of Tate’s cookies. I find peanut butter cookies to sometimes be too dry or crumbly, which is also not what I want.
I don’t want to eat peanut butter; I want a cookie that tastes like peanut butter. I also think that the cheaper the brand, the better peanut butter cookies it makes. We went with Skippy’s Super Chunk Peanut Butter, and I have no regrets.

I picked up one of those movie theater-looking boxes of M&Ms and for some reason I just figured it would be full to the brim and sadly it was not. There was some skimpy bag inside, maybe 1.5 times larger than a normal bag of M&Ms, which meant I did not have enough M&Ms for my cookies. So instead, I threw in some of my favorite Ghirardelli’s 70% dark chocolate chips and called it a day.

They turned out to be just the cookie I wanted. Soft, flavorful, not too heavy, and honestly the dark chocolate with the M&Ms gave it a nice sweet to tart ratio. I’m going to have to start with some basic recipes for cookie and start adding weird things into it … chips, pretzels, who knows what’s next.

Up Close PB M&M Cookie

Corn Flake Krispies

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Corn Flake KrispiesSo, I had big plans for me and a large box of corn flakes, and all of them fell through.  I have slowly been sprinkling corn flakes on my yogurt and berries, I try to snack on it. But, this epically large box of corn flakes just doesn’t seem to go down.

So, I did what anyone would do. I tried to find the recipe that would use the most amount of corn flakes. Corn Flake Krispies – like Rice Krispies treats, but with corn flakes instead. It was a lot of fun to make.

I used this recipe from Food.com

– 3 tbsp Butter

– 1 10oz bag of Marshmallows

– 6 Cups corn flakes

Corn Flake KrispiesI had a bag of marshmallows lying around for some odd reason. So i melted the butter, melted the marshmallows, threw in the corn flakes and walla! Corn Flake Krispies.  A great, easy, sweet snack for the afternoon.

Blueberry Crumb Cake (F.E.S.B.)

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Today was the first day I had off in a very long time.  So, what do I do?  BAKE. The only problem is that now that I am not in the office, what do I do with a 9×13 inch pan of Blueberry Crumb Cake?  We all know I’m not going to it!

Per usual, I browsed Food Gawker to find my recipe.  I normally flip through my favorites looking for something that appeals to me.  I try to keep it new and interesting, but sometimes that good old-fashioned chocolate chip cookies is just what I want.

Fresh Out The OvenI found this amazing looking Blueberry Crumb Cake by Better With Sugar, and it just looked so soft and moist I couldn’t resist.  I was also interested in tasting the difference between Crumb Cake and Coffee Cake.  After tasting this, I think the difference is in the top.  Coffee Cake has a thicker top layer, where as the Crumb Cake is mainly the cake part, with a crumb topping.

 

Top View of Blueberry Crumb CakeI whipped this up in maybe 20 – 30 minutes stuck it in the oven, and with in 25 minutes of baking, I knew I was going to have to taste this when it came out the oven.  It filled my whole apartment with a smell so irresistible, and it just settled there for the rest of the afternoon.

I cut into the cake once it had cooled, and pulled out just a 1/2 inch slice.  It was perfection, not too sweet, a nice burst of blueberry, and soft just like I had imagined.  I had another 1/2 inch slice today, but there is still a whole cake to be eaten! Come eat with me!

Blueberry Crumb Cake

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies – F.E.S.B.

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I think I have two favorite cookies and they are equal on my level, because I crave them separately.  The first cookie is chocolate chip – there is nothing like a good chocolate chip cookie.  Now I’m going to be honest, I crave both crispy and chewy on different days, sometimes I just want the biggest crumbliest one I can find.  My second favorite cookie is oatmeal raisin.  And I know this sounds ridiculous but I think Whole Foods has one of the best oatmeal raisin cookies, its perfectly sweet and buttery.

I’ve done my fair share of experimenting with chocolate chip cookies – soft, chewy, thin, crunchy, there is literally a science to how to make your favorite chocolate chip cookie and it has to do with butter, flour, baking soda, and baking powder ratios.  But I’ll save that for another post.

So I’ve started the hunt for my favorite Oatmeal Raisin Cookie recipe.  I found one from Beantown Baker and to be honest the title and pictures is what drew me in – “Thick and Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.”  That is the perfect description of how I like my cookies.

The makings of oatmeal raisin cookies

I got off work early Monday (yes I had to work on President’s day) and I got to work – the dough has to chill for an hour so I started before dinner, and they were done just in time for dessert.  Nothing like a warm cookie.

I used her exact recipe, and well I didn’t read the directions that well and I didn’t flatten them like she had said, so mine ended up cutely lumpy! I brought them to work the next day, I went out and was back in the office and by 1pm they were all eaten – all 23 cookies (as I had one at home the night before).  Not going to lie I wouldn’t have minded one for myself!

The Oatmeal Raisin Cookies