Monday, August 29, 2005

echo..echo...echo...

Our apartment is virtually empty and sounds very hollow and cavernous. We just finished the last of the loading up into the U-Haul and cleaning the apartment. All we have left is a handful of items and a mattress to sleep on. We're leaving tomorrow at 9am and, well, that's it. Spent the day just loading up and cleaning, not exactly fun.

We did, on the other hand, get to see some very good friends one last time before heading out. In order: Adam, Lauren & Kerry, thank you all so much for stopping by. We'll miss all of you greatly :) You all better visit too ;)

Talk to all of you soon, when you next hear from me, I will be sporting a thick Brooklyn accent.

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Sunday, August 28, 2005

Today's entry is going to be pretty short, as 1) I'm really tired from cleaning and packing all day (with breaks to eat premade food and play some Galaga) and 2) Thursday was just not that exciting. It was another night with no family/friends to meet, so we grabbed what may be our last takeout from Phnom Penh (an amazing thai/vietnamese/cambodian restaurant in Cleveland). A little interesting tidbit though...Phnom Penh is the only place in Cleveland to serve Cambodian food, which is really not that odd, considering the city's size. What *is* weird is that New York, as well, only has ONE restaurant that serves Cambodian food. I guess I always except that if there's one of something in Cleveland, there'll be a dozen or more in New York. Guess not. It might not be such a bad thing if not for the fact that the two dishes Genevieve and I get there are among their Cambodian specialities. The plus side is that the one restaurant in New York happens to be near our apartment. Yah!

Anyways, that's it for now. I can't promise I'll be able to write tomorrow, or the next day for that matter, as we'll be busy loading everything up into the U-Haul, cleaning up and heading out to our new place. I am overcome with a mixture of excitement, apprehension and exhaustion. I'll report back as soon as I can.

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Saturday, August 27, 2005

So...as I was saying, before I stuffed my face with some freggin amazing kielbasa (topped with kraut, of course)...Wednesday:

Lunch, I got to spend with my Dad and his wife, Sally. They'd come into town from Louisville to pick up my Hammond Organ and store it for me while we're in NYC (a fact I am immensely grateful for, as I really didn't want to sell it). We had some time to kill while waiting for Adam to get off of work (he was going to help up move the organ, but we ended up being able to do it ourselves, but that's neither here nor there), so we all stopped by a local sandwich shop called Take-a-Bite. Despite being almost around the corner from our house, this only marked our 3rd trip there. Their hours, which mainly cater to the lunch crowd, just clashed with our work and life schedules. But, I was glad for a chance to stop by one last time. Their sandwiches, though not outstanding, are consistently fresh and yummy and perfect for the summer day lunch in the park we decided to do. I grabbed, among other snacks, a Marco Polo, which is their wednesday special. Imagine two layers of ham, turkey and cheese, batter dipped and fried to a gooey, heart-attack-inducing pile of goodness. It was, far and away, the best thing I'd had there. I find myself already craving another. The weather was beautiful, it was great to see my dad and Sally before heading to NYC and the food was just awesome, it all made for a really nice lunch.

Dinner, we had with my mom and Joe down at this place called Fulton Bar & Grill. Fulton is another place that serves excellent food, is a quick drive away and yet..this also marked our third time. For this one, it was completely my fault. At some point, I'd gotten it into my head that Fulton was pricey (which it's not really), so I avoided us going as a regular place. The truth of it is that, though they're not like Johnny Mango cheap, they are very reasonably priced, especially with the quality of the food there and there's really no reason why we couldn't have gone there more. Anyways, like lunch, we opted to sit outside for our meal (though the temperature had dropped a bit, it was still very pleasant). Dinner was very slowly paced, allowing us to talk for quite awhile and enjoy a very relaxing meal. Genevieve and I started things out by sharing a pistachio and carrot posticker appetizer plate. It was good, but even though it's more conventional, I enjoy the potstickers at Peking Gourmet more. For my dinner entree, I picked up a pork tenderloin, grilled with a chilli rub and topped with bbq sauce. On the side, I had some coconut milk soaked collard greens (which were soo impossibly good, I was saddened by the sparse quantity on my plate) and a sweet potato tamale. I can't lavish the same praise on the tamale, as it was kind of bland and, personally, I don't count some mixture with the consistency of porridge wrapped in a banana leaf to be a tamale. It seemed more like a side of mashed sweet potatoes with a odd wrapper. The pork tenderloin was excellent though. Very spicy and full of flavor punch, I was able to forgive the fact that, though I ordered medium, it came very much on the side of well-done. We filled ourselves up so much on dinner, we all opted out of dessert, deciding instead to hang out a little bit longer before heading home.

Yes, Wednesday turned out to be a great day. I got to see both my parents, enjoy the nice weather and have some great food in the process.

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Mmmm...I just finished a meal of pan-seared tilapia with a spicy lime butter. It's the first dinner I've made for myself since Saturday and I'm feeling pretty good about it. Of course, because I am a pig, I'll be heading to the Slavic Village festival later for some kielbasa, but for now I'm feeling pretty satisfied.

Anyways, I took care of Sunday and Monday last night. Today, we're on to Tuesday. Since we had no plans with friends, we took the opportunity to try Cleveland's new restaurant, Lolita. Lolita is the child of Michael Symon's amazing restaurant, Lola, and stands in the same location (Lola is moving downtown). If you want to read my review of Lola, check it out here.

Lolita, as it name suggests, is decidely younger and hipper. The price point is lower (I wasn't able to find one entree above $19) and, at least on the night we went, there were much less suits and more kids with spikey hair. In fact, a table near us was comprised of a bunch of kids younger than us, one of whom was being treated to his/her 18th birthday. I think the person was a relative of either Symon or someone else within the restaunt, but still..

The menu is divided into 4 sections: little plates, meats & cheeses, appetizers and entrees. Unlike our previous experience with little plates, at the now defunct Mojo, these were definitely tasting plates. In other words, as we were warned by our waitress, don't expect to be able to get 3 or 4 of them as an entree, unless you have a very little stomach. We got three (they are $4.50 each or 3 for $12.00) and found it to be approx. appetizer size. In fact, I would definitely suggest them over the actual appetizers, as (probably due to the inclusion of the little plates), that list was awfully meager, with just 4-5 offerings..and they were also amazing. We ended up splitting a three order, with a bowl of octopus salad (sliced octopus with chickpeas and olive oil, good, but not outstanding the the olive oil was thrown in with a bit of a heavy hand), a creamy polenta with fried mushrooms (amazing!) and an artichoke filo pie (to die for). We ended up skipping the meats and cheeses, as well, since we were looking at some pretty hefty dinners ahead. For entrees, we both ended up getting the same thing with a variation on the sauce. They were both a baked penne pasta topped with a awesomely creamy goat cheese, except while mine was in a lamb sauce, Genevieve's was in a tomato sauce. Both were excellent, though heavy. Vegetarians, be aware: despite what I thought previously, they do not have any veggie options on their standard entrees, but you can get two dishes (the baked penne or the gnochi) without meat. On the upside, half of their small plates are veggie as well as some of their appetizers.

We finished the meal off by splitting a flourless chocolate cake with chili and orange in a caramel sauce. Now, normally, I avoid orange and chocolate like the plague. It's a combo I've never gotten into. But this cake was soo good that I was able to overlook that, as well as my bursting full stomach, and finish my half.

For the young or young-at-heart crowd, I can't help but recommend Lolita. The price point on the entrees can fit easily fit within most budgets and the atmosphere and crowd was about as unstuffy as you can get and still be able to feel you're going out to a nice dinner.

I was hoping to get Wednesday in here too, but this has been long already and I want my Keilbasa, so that will have to wait.

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Friday, August 26, 2005

Since I left work on Friday, last week, it seems like I've been eating like a madman. Hitting the houses of friends I might not see for a bit and restaurants I've either wanted to try or try one more time before we leave. It started on Saturday with the party.

Then, Sunday, we went over to Kerry's house for dinner. Drinks were a fab, a mix of mango and vodka (the name slips me) which was deceptively easy going down. On the side, we had a slaw with a lime dressing which was crisp and refreshing. The main course was black bean empanadas with cheese and bananas. The bananas worked really well with the savory beans, a idea I will definitely be stealing (along with the puff pastry crust, since I've had such bad luck with empanada crusts in the past). We finished things off with a nice orange sorbet. Much thanks to Kerry for a great dinner!

The next day brought another dinner party, this time at Adam's house. He started things out with a glass of sweet chardonnay and some cheese and crackers (this all sounds very quiet and refined, but it was, in fact, very casual). The main course was a vegetable moussaka (which you can read about here). That, of course, was excellent. For someone who claims not to be able to cook, I've seen nothing but good things come from Adam's kitchen. Dessert was strawberry shortcake (with homemade cake!). It was soo good and very summery. I wished I could have eaten more, but after 2 helpings of moussaka, I was stuffed to the brim. We all talked for a bit before Genevieve and I made the long (5 minutes or less) walk home.

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Sunday, August 21, 2005

Since they were requested, some recipes from last night's party:

Apple and Jalapeno Coleslaw
I actually stole this idea from a vendor at Taste of Tremont this year. I believe it was Starkweather. They had this slaw that unbelievable good and I did my best to recreate it (though mine did turn out a bit spicier than theirs).

1 small head of cabbage
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp of pepper
a few generous splashes of tabasco sauce
2 tbsp white vinegar
2 granny smith apples
1 can of pickled jalapenos
1/2 cup of golden raisins
3 tbsb sugar
1 cup of shredded carrots
1/3 cup of mayo (or nayonaise, as I used)

Wash and quarter the cabbage. Remove the stem and any loose leaves. Finely slice the cabbage.
In a large bowl, toss the cabbage with the salt. Wait at least half an hour and drain the liquid (the cabbage should now be soft and pliable).
Add the remaining ingredients, toss well and taste. Adjust the pepper and tabasco as needed.

Simple Bruschetta
I made a large batch of this, so it's kind of hard to tell you quantity, but I'll say how I prepared it.

Get that grill ready.

Roughly chop 5-6 gloves of garlic. Immerse them in about 1/2 cup of olive oil. Add a few shakes of black pepper as well. Let sit overnight, if possible. I had fine results with about 8 hours though. Brush the garlic infused oil liberally on both sides of a good white bread (I used the amazingly good pugliese from Christopher's Bakery, available in the West Side Market) and throw it on a hot grill. It probably won't take more than 20-30 seconds per side, so be careful and check your bread often. flip it and grill the other side.
Top with fresh basil (I was generous with it, about 1tbsp + per slice) and two slices of tomato. Slice in half. Sprinkle with kosher salt and serve.

You'll probably, unless you're making as much as I did, have some garlic olive oil left over. I wouldn't be crying too much over this, as it makes an excellent way to make quick garlic bread (just slather and toast in the broiler) or a beginning to a garlicky vinagrette.

Pizza toppings

  • Blue cheese, granny smith apples (cored, skinned and sliced thin), half an onion, sliced thin and caramelized.
  • Roasted tomatoes and poblanos with corn. (You can add all three items to a hot broiler. Make sure you have a new sheet of foil under your ingredients though, gotta catch all those good tomato juices. I used 3 tomatoes, 2 poblanos and 2 ears of corn. Roast all of them, remove the skin from the tomatoes and peppers, blend with those juices and some salt to taste and voila! Add a little sugar and cilantro and you'd have a killer salsa, as well.)
  • Roasted corn, sliced red onions, chives, olive oil and smoked provolone

I know giving recipes by just listing the ingredients is sheer torture for people like my sister ;) But, just add the toppings till it seems sensible. I mean, in my 1st pizza, I had like a half a pound of blue cheese, half an onion, and about 1.5 granny smith apples, but you could play around with it to your own tastes and I'm sure it would taste good.

That's it for now. I will try to post more later.

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Friday, August 19, 2005

Now it's time to say goodbye, to all our company..

Yup, today is my last day at work. Next week, we're seeing lots of family and friends before packing it in and heading to New York. I've worked here for over 4 years now, so it's kind of strange to be leaving today. I don't think it's quite sunk in, even if my cube is completely empty of all personal belongings and my e-mail down to a few tasks I am going to try and finish today.

I am glad to be leaving though. This job has been nothing but a dead end for me since I started it. I hope today is the last time I'll ever have to sit in a drab gray cube all day, staring at a computer screen and trying to fix problems with products I could truly care less about.

But, I can't be completely bitter. Despite the depressing work environment, there's alot of great and creative people who work here, who were a joy to meet and get to know. I only hope that these people get out as soon as they can! :)

I guess this is it. I know I haven't been updating this blog much, but I expect/hope this will change when we move to New York. On the one hand, I am sure I will have alot more to blog about. On the other, I'm not sure if I'll have the time to do it! But, I will certainly try.

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Monday, August 08, 2005

We have a new apartment in Brooklyn!

Genevieve's posted pictures here.

Check it out!

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