Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Best of 2010, Meal Edition

This year hasn't been particularly kind to me in many respects. The loss of my mother remains a reality I must adjust to and I continue to be stymied by the rules of romance, but in spite of the terrific loss of this year and my own ineptitude, I managed to still have quite a good year when it came to good food and company. And that is not something to under appreciate. As always, I could have gone crazy and listed a lot more meals and experiences I valued over the last year, but I tried to narrow my favorites down a little. My final count is 11. And without further adieu, here they are, in rough chronological order.

My second visit to Modo Mio with L. was even better than the first in terms of food, service and company, and these scallops were particularly pleasing.
L.'s spring visit to Philly was a delight in and of itself, but our meal at Tinto and the wondrous properties of their chicken skewers definitely made a lasting impression.
There were many contenders for good times and great food from my many visits to J. and J.'s house over the year, but he-J.'s seafood paella and the spirits we were all in on that night made it to the list...though the gnocchi and sauce almost took over.
My spring visit to Seattle to see M. and A. and C. and T. was chock full of great times and delectable food, but the evening featuring fancy champagne, truffle cheese and coq au vin was one of my absolute favorites.
Most years dim sum gets a general nod in my round up, but this year it was the specific dim sum experience I had with T. and C. to which it is worth raising a ceramic cup of jasmine tea. The dumplings were larger, fresher and just altogether fantastic (I really only have three adjectives that I can use).
While my extended stay in Nashville in the spring wasn't under the best of circumstances, to say I didn't have any good meals during that time wouldn't be true. For example, eating rotisserie chicken from Calypso Cafe by the parthenon makes the cut. That chicken was delicious.
The soup and osso bucco I enjoyed at Miel with my father was another positive eating experience that took place in Nashville.
The surprising complementary properties of pairing strawberries with radishes became my go-to treat in the early days of summer.
Driving out of my way and searching for Bubby's Burrito's new location was absolutely worth the delay and effort. Bubby's burrito, I heart you.
While Supper didn't live up to my or Mr. Ass's expectations, the charcuterie plate at James easily exceeded my already rather high bar of what a charcuterie plate should be. Their selection of pickled veggies was a great touch.
My impromptu meet up with L. after a hair cut led to my introduction to a whole new level of burger , and a drink that I could happily sip upon for hours. Thank you Village Whiskey, for giving me the best burger of my life.
And that's a wrap. It has been eventful, this year of food. I can't wait to see what 2011 will bring! Feel free to look back at past years' 'best of' experiences: 2009, 2008.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cheese and Chorizo and Darts c/o McCrossens

On a Monday I met up with L. at McCrossens for drinks and a snack. I went with the Idiazabal cheese and chorizo, which came with tasty pickled things (though not quite as tasty as, say, James).

Then L. and T. played darts. Then I joined in because I get bored of watching other people play a game, even if I'm not good at the game, which I most certainly am not.
L.'s darts perfectly matched my earrings.
The obligatory pose from below.

Brunch c/o Buttermilk Channel

Once L. and Fat T. awoke we had coffee and futzed a bit before L. and I braved the insistent rain to meet up with C. for brunch at Buttermilk Channel. We went early so we wouldn't wait for a place to sit, and that certainly worked to our advantage, but the downside was that alcohol wasn't served til noon. This meant that the Bloody Mary I ordered was sans alcohol, but I didn't really mind. I never do with Bloody Marys, it's the horseradish kick that I'm after. The pickle as garnish was a nice change, and delightfully spicy.
L. ordered the scrambled eggs with spinach, mushrooms and goat cheese. Tasty.
C. and I both ordered the eggs benedict, though they came under a slightly different name. Regardless of their name, the eggs were wonderfully poached, the sauce was nice in both taste and texture, and the ham was good to boot.
It was good to see C. After our meal we stood around under an awning for a bit before going in our separate directions. I had considered meeting up with a few other folks during my visit, but the rain really put a damper on that. Figuratively. And literally.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Morning Coffee and Croissant c/o Provence en Boite

I returned to Brooklyn separately from L. and Fat T. and met up with R. for a few beers. He and I ended up meeting at a bar called Boat, which I went to a few times back when I was 22 or 23 and is now within a reasonable walking distance of L.'s new place. We sat at the bar and had some good conversation for a while. I was also considering making an appearance at L.M.'s holiday party, so I texted her around midnight to see if the party was still partying. She responded yes and enthusiastically suggested I stop by. So R. and I bid each other adieu and went on to L.M.'s, and that was nice. L.M. pointed out it had been three years since the last time we had seen each other. I think I lost a year somewhere, as I thought it had only been two. At one point soon after arriving a guy came up to me and asked me if I went to Bard College, which I had, so I said as much. I kept looking at his face because I didn't really recognize him but he seemed familiar. At first I thought I had it figured out that he was a photography department guy, but I had mistaken him for another tall gay man that went to Bard College. There is more to that story, but I'll leave it there. After a little time at the party I decided it would be best for me to return to L. and Fat T.'s, which I did. I was asleep by 3. And I was awake by 8:30, because that is how I roll when I stay with L. Since I knew it would be a bit before either of my hosts awoke, I went out to find myself a coffee and croissant. I found Provence en Boite and happily ordered both food items and sat down for a bit.

The croissant was to my liking and the cappucino was also satisfactory. The weather, however, was less ideal, as it was rainy and stupid and I didn't have an umbrella. You win some, you lose some.

Trimming the Tree in Huntington

After a rather hilarious, if slow-going, drive to Long Island -- complete with Richard Nixon impressions -- we arrived in Huntington in time to decorate Fat T.'s parents' tree. I insisted on having a photograph with these three wisemen because I did so last year and I like routine and tradition, regardless of what my horoscope may purport. While I had a great visit last year, my state of brain was extremely compromised. Not to say my brain is working on all cylinders these days, but I'm feeling much better than I was that night last year, so I wanted to compare and contrast the pictures. I look pretty much the same. Just goes to show you, photographs don't tell you everything. Which reminds me of the fact that I felt that my dress was making me look pregnant (which I am not) and my make up was making me look like a homeless blind woman (which I am...not?). I may have been a liiiiittle too harsh.

I am not crying here. I am covering my face because something funny or embarrassing was just said to me by either Fat T. or his father.
Then I insisted that L. and I have a photograph taken in front of the tree.
And these are the best of that bunch.

American Goofic.
I think we did a pretty good job with the tree. Fat T. was demanding as he was the previous year, but I realized he wasn't the boss of me and fought back. Kind of. Not really. None of that is really true.
Hoo. Hoo.
Then we asked Fat T.'s dad to take a few photographs of the three of us. Holiday!

The party that all this prep was for was hours away, so we weren't really allowed to go too crazy with sneaking snacks, but I did eat a few of these roll ups. Ham, cheese, mayo and pickle. Delicious.
This is what true love looks like.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Friendly Foolery

On the Saturday after Catan I drove up to New York to hang out with L. and Fat T. Since their apartment burned down in November, L. and T. have found a new place to live complete with an entirely new neighborhood: Cobble Hill. So we walked around a bit after my arrival, sipping on coffees and trying on dresses. Well, L. tried on dresses Fat T. and I sat on or stood by the 'husband chair.' That evening was Fat T.'s parents' annual Christmas party, which I attended last year. Just before we left Brooklyn for Huntington it was necessary to touch up our makeup faces and take photographs in the mirror.

I like their new place, and I'm so glad they've been able to start rebuilding their lives/possessions.

Chinese and Catan

At some point last month I made it over to C. and R.'s not for laundry or pizza, but for a round of Catan and Chinese food. I went with the sesame tofu.
C. and R.'s friend M. also played. This was her first ever experience with Catan. I think it went well. I won but only with the help of a last minute victory point.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Porcsalt Dinner c/o McCrossens

L. suggested that she and I take part in a special dinner McCrossens was hosting at some point last month, and after looking at the menu I agreed that it would be worth my while. Simultaneously I was making plans to meet up with A.S, Mr. Ass ad two of his friends for oysters. Unfortunately I completely confused my days and ended up scheduling the two things on the same day. Whoops. Once I realized this mistake, I asked Mr. Ass if they might not want to join in on the special 'one day only' McCrossens option. They agreed. So we all met up and took part. The dinner was conceived and executed by Matthew Ridgway of Bucks County's Porcsalt. In addition to the three course meal they also had a few special starters. I went with the salmon roe on toast with some sort of something that I completely forget. To be frank, I didn't love it. The toast was so brittle that it was hard to actually take a full bite without everything crumbling before a taste got to my mouth. That said, I do love salmon roe.
For the first course we had the option of either Winter Beer Soup with Bacon-Bread Dumplings or Parma Wrapped Rabbit Terrine with Castelvetrano Olives, Celery and orange. I went with the terrine. The lighting at McCrossens is not easy for photography, so pardon these extremely moody images. The terrine was to my liking on the whole; decadent and fatty but smooth. Oh yeah. Now you totally know what it was like. I tried a spoon full of the soup, which Mr. Ass seemed to greatly enjoy but I don't think it was for me...that or I should have taken a second spoon.
The options for the second course were Crispy Heritage Pork Belly with Pickled Prunes and Sherry Gastric or Marinated Beet Salad with Toasted Challah and a Honey Dressing. I went with the beet salad, which was nothing like I expected. The beets were almost pureed they were diced so small. It was more like a beet spread on the challah. And then there was the dollop of unexpectedness. It kind of tasted like uni, though it could have been some blend of salmon eggs and something else. Either way, it drowned out the honey dressing and was a bit at odds with the sweetness of the beets. I tried a bite of L.'s pork belly and it was fatty in a great way.
For the main course we had the choice of either Grilled Pheasant on Pike with Baked Apple, Mashers and a Foie Gras Sauce or Lamb Porterhouse with Sweetbreads and Quark Spatzle. I went with the lamb, which I liked very much. I could look up what quark spatzle is, but I'm not going to...all I know is that it was sooooo heavy on the butter and cream that it was both delicious and overly rich. I liked the sweetbreads' preparation, crispier than I have had them in the past.
There was also dessert, but I was too full to really enjoy it. A.S., Mr. Ass and his two friends set off soon after dessert. I lingered for a Mad Elf beer while L. took photographs of the restaurant for them, then I headed on home.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Well Hello There Pork Shoulder

I forget which weekend it was that I went to my local Whole Foods with the intention of purchasing a pork shoulder, but I was successful in my mission. I then returned home and let the thing slowly cook over the next eight hours. I added mushrooms, carrots and potatoes to the roasting pan, and those were nicely cooked as well. A few days later I stripped the bone and turned the remaining meat into my inauthentic version of pulled pork: 1 can diced tomatoes, 1 chopped onion (usually I use a yellow one but this time all I had was a red one, didn't matter really), cider vinegar and brown sugar. Simple but effective. The rooomate and his gf also seemed to enjoy it.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bed Cat

Whenever I properly make my bed or change my sheets, Zul gets quite interested. Sometimes insisting on getting made into the bed, a past time I enjoyed greatly as a child. What?