In all honesty, I'm actually totally happy to be working more again. My last project really only kept me busy about 4 hours a day, so I had lots of flexibility to mold my day as I wished. Sometimes I was really productive, and sometimes I was decidedly not. While I guess I miss having the option to be lazy, I am a happier person when I'm kept busy. And I like this new project! It has me working from home full time, so no more weekly travel, and it's a role that's a really good fit for me.
I guess that brings me to a couple of points about the blog overall. I started this with the underlying theme that I (1) run and (2) travel far away for work. Neither of which are really true anymore. As for (1), I have a knee injury, and there's a pretty good chance I'm going to need surgery. BUMMER and a half. The half-marathon I thought I would be training for is this weekend, and I'm a little sad about it. I have a love/hate relationship with running, where I hate actually doing it (unless it's a perfect day outside), but I love love love the way it makes me feel. Sorry, elliptical, but you're pretty lame. I'm nervous to get back into running, and I may just... not. We'll see. Maybe I'll learn to love biking? Or I'll move to California and swim the days away! OK, enough daydreaming about my glamorous life on the west coast. As for (2), I'm working from "home," so I either literally am in my apartment, or I go to the office. (The office where no one knows me. I just go for the land line.) No more airplanes for me! Goodbye, LGA! So long, DFW! Auf wiedersehen, Hilton! ANYWAY, I think my point is that this blog needs a new theme. Any thoughts? It can just be "food I feel like sharing" or it can be more idiosyncratic than that. Just curious what my readers (readers?) think.
So, now you'd like some actual subject matter? Fair enough. I give you: Foodie Events of the Past Two Months! Since I used too many words up above, I'm going to make this part more like a picture book.
TOP CHEF: UPPER EAST SIDE, Season 2! The theme: Every cheftestant was assigned a Manhattan neighborhood to use as inspiration for a dish of their choosing.
Our esteemed judges begin the tastings.
Bonnie prepares her (award-winning) sandwich duos. Neighborhood: TriBeCa. Her inspiration: small plates, gourmet sandwiches, trendy flavor combinations and preparations. The food: mini sandwiches. #1 was Asian-inspired and contained pickled veggies, hard-boiled tea egg, homemade pesto sauce, and watercress. #2 was Roman-themed and contained a homemade tomato spread, prosciutto, some sort of cheese, and now I'm hard-pressed to remember the other ingredients. Help? Both on Ciabatta. Both amazing.
It's hard to see, but the plate toward the very front has Alex's Times Square-inspired frittata. Neighborhood: Times Square. Inspiration: bright, colorful. Veggie and cheese frittatas baked in muffin tins! The other plates toward the center are Katies. Neighborhood: Union Square. Inspiration: the Green Market. All ingredients came straight from the farmers' market! Fresh whole wheat pasta with roasted carrots and parsnips with farm fresh ricotta.
Here's a totally flattering picture of my dish. Neighborhood: Washington Heights. Inspiration: Dominican food. Rice and beans! I used plain old white rice, sofrito (my new favorite ingredient), black beans, tomato paste, peppers, onions, and not a whole lot else! This was the recipe I used. It got a little burned on the bottom, but was otherwise tasty!
Sadly, I did not get close-ups of everything. Here's what I missed:
Amanda -- Neighborhood: Upper West Side. Inspiration: Jewish food! Horseradish crusted salmon, string beans, and mini apple walnut wontons/turnovers. She wins for most components attempted at once.
Diane -- Neighborhood: Chelsea. Inspiration: Chelsea Piers. A MARK BITTMAN scallop gumbo! It was amazing. As expected. Diane and I are totally obsessed with Mr. Bittman, and I can attest to the fact that this was SO easy to make, as we cooked side by side.
Ariel -- Neighborhood: East Village. Inspiration: crunchy hippie foods, variety, Asian fusion. Turkey-stuffed tofu dumplings. So creative!
After the tastings...
Winners were announced! Bonnie won for staying most true to her neighborhood. The judges felt that you could walk into any Tribeca restaurant and find her dish on the menu. She won plastic pizza storage baggies! How funny is that?
Katie used one to take home leftovers. Not just for pizza!
Diane won for best overall. When Bittman's on your side, all is well. I wish I had gotten a pic of her gumbo, but perhaps we will make it again. Her prize was a cute little piggy spatula. I will get a pic of that guy later.
OK, going to breeze through the rest of this, but I will say this: MAX BRENNER. YOU MUST GO. I will admit that I have not been blown away by the food food, but get dessert. It's amazing. I took my little brother for the 2nd time, and we had fun.
He got hot chocolate with marshmallows in the adorable hug mug.
I got iced coffee, a la Alice in Wonderland.
And then... I couldn't resist...
OATMEAL! It had chocolate chips and cinnamon and butterscotch sauce in a beaker and candied pecans. It was out of this world. And so defeated the purpose of oats.
I have one last adventure to recount, but I'm saving it for next time. Just know that it involves what I think may be my favorite food ever. You know, that amazing condiment that I happen to think qualifies as its own food group...