Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category
Last week, I had the opportunity to have dinner at Mari Vanna, a traditional Russian restaurant on E. 20th Street in Manhattan. It was my first “dine-around” dinner with the New York Women’s Culinary Alliance, and the date also happened to be my birthday. So, it was a nice way to celebrate.
Ambiance is part of any great dining experience, even if it’s non-ambiance, as in the case of some mom-and-pop places where the food is the focal point. The word “ambiance” really doesn’t even fit Mari Vanna. They’ve created a sense of place. A world, in fact.
Upon entering Mari Vanna, you feel like you are entering a turn-of-the-19th-century shop/café, with its trinkets and small café tables. The furniture is mostly (I think) baroque and reminiscent of an Old World country home. There was one woman at our table who happened to be Russian (she’d been born in Moscow but moved here when she was 7) and she described the restaurant as “like going to grandma’s house.” Indeed, a china cabinet was jammed with plates, baking dishes, gravy boats, candy dishes, soup bowls, and an assortment of other culinary vessels and utensils. It was so much like many a grandma’s kitchen.
The layout of the place was interesting, too. The main dining room was separated from the kitchen by windows, which made it seem as if beyond those windows was a garden. You can easily peek in and watch the staff cooking your meal.
There was also kitsch. Along the buffet table, and throughout the place, there were examples of Russian folk art: dolls, toys, and colorfully painted bric-a-brack. It brought a sense of charm to a room that might otherwise seem a bit stuffy. I loved the bathrooms! With its old-school pump faucets and wall-mounted toilet tanks with the chain, you really felt as if you’d stepped into another world…except for the fact that there is graffiti all over—and I do mean ALL OVER—the walls and doors. This is part of the décor and I think they actually encourage guests to scribble their own personal messages. When you exit the bathrooms, there’s an old wall-mounted rotary phone, above which is an old Stalin-era military propaganda poster. I had no idea what it said, but it did give you a sense of the atmosphere in which Russians lived in that era.
I suppose I should talk about the food. The menu consists of traditional Russian dishes, from blini with caviar to cured herring and Siberian pelmini. However, for our group, the chef and one of the NYWCA women worked on a creating a special menu. We had:
Cocktails (choice of one)
Signature vodka shot or signature martini
Salo Plate (Assortment of salt-cured pork fatback)
Meat Plate (Assortment of cured meats and charcuterie)
Soleniya (housemade picked vegetables)
Blini with Red Caviar
Smetannik (signature dessert with strawberries and cream)
All are classic Russian dishes. The dilly bread, as well as the raisin bread and pickles, was a tasty starter. The Olivier (potatoes, Russian sausage, and sage mayo) is similar to American potato salad, in that it is made with mayo, but it has a different mixture of elements (sausage, peas, and, in this case, halved quail eggs). The salad has a Hollywood folktale attached to it. Legend has it that it was named for the actor Sir Lawrence Olivier. In truth, it was named for its creator, a Belgian chef named Lucien Olivier, who created it in the 1860s at his renowned Moscow restaurant, Hermitage. (For more info on it, click HERE.
The sunflower salad consisted of tomatoes, radishes, cucumbers, and—with a nod to more Western European ingredients—arugula, and topped with, of course, sunflower seeds. The vinegret was a kind of beet salad, and beets are a staple food of Eastern Europe. Speaking of beets, the borscht was exceptionally delicious and was my favorite dish of the evening. It was deeply flavored and warming (as opposed to the cold beet soup on the regular menu). By that point in the evening, though, I was already getting full and needed to leave room for everything else.
The pirogki, wheat dumplings stuffed with meat and potato-cabbage) were fun and so well balanced in cabbage and spice flavors. The blini were more like crepes than the little pancakes that are usually associated with blini, and were accompanied by red caviar and an assortment of condiments. They were light and delicate and buttery.
I’m not big on meat, but I did taste a bite of the beef stroganoff. The flavor was good, but the meat was a bit tough. The branzini, on the other hand, was delicate and cooked just right.
The desserts were all delicious, but I have to say that the Napoleon was not flaky. The smetanik was like a strawberry shortcake and cheesecake combined. The onegin was sort of like a Napoleon, but was more of a sponge cake with dried fruit and almonds.
The coordinator of the event, Wendy, was nice enough to have them put a candle in one of the cakes for my birthday. The entire staff came out with tambourines and sang a Russian song to me. I have no idea what they were saying, but it was enthusiastic and loud. As Wendy said, that’s something that will probably never happen to me again!
Of course, their specialty is their infused vodkas. There is a long list of choices and I’m sure you could spend a very long time trying out each one in a variety of ways. I had the cherry vodka with cherry soda. I thought it needed a bit more soda to sweeten it up a bit but I didn’t say anything because I was desperately fighting off a stomach bug and I didn’t think it wise to get crazy with the booze anyway. Although I did try a strawberry vodka shot after dessert. It was just so vibrantly red that I couldn’t resist. Delicious.
And that was my interesting journey through a long-ago Russia. I recommend it for the experience alone–it will definitely be a memorable one.
41 East 20th Street
New York, NY 10003
Between Park Ave and Broadway
By phone 212-777-1955
Last night, I went to the James Beard Women in Culinary Leadership dinner at Vermillion in Manhattan, where there was a panel discussion about women in the industry. The panel was made up of women who have made significant strides in the culinary world, including Lidia Bastianich; Rohini Dey, owner of Vermilion; Martha Stewart; Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation; Dorothy Cann Hamilton, founder and CEO of International Culinary Center; and Martha Teichner, CBS News correspondent as moderator.
While much of the discussion was focused on the obstacles women face, it also brought out how women have enhanced the the business, what qualities women bring to it, and what makes women capable. One interesting answer was were that women bring the mothering/nurturing quality that is natural to them into the kitchen because, as Martha Stewart said, it’s like having many babies. Employees need guidance and nurturing to grow as professionals. Rahini Dey pointed out that like mothers in the family sector, “mother” can be caring and compassionate when needed, and “mother” can be hard and strong and disciplinary when necessary.
Dorothy Hamilton was empathetic toward the men in her school, but having said that, she also said that she found women chefs/owners to have the most efficient, well-run kitchens she’s ever seen. Perhaps that’s also a residual effect of being taught to take care of house and home. One thing that everyone seemed to agree on is that whether you are a man or a woman, opening up a restaurant is a risky venture and no bank will invest in your business. Considering that in New York City, 59% of all restaurants fail within the first 3 years, I can’t say I blame them. Angel investors are the way to go with restaurants, and as Lidia Bastianich pointed out, the very worst thing you can do is start a restaurant under-financed. I think women, in particular, need to be careful because we have not traditionally had the financial support system that men have had.
Vermilion, on Lexington Avenue, is the second restaurant from Dey, the first being Vermilion in Chicago. Dey was a World Bank economist and a management consultant, before deciding to be a restaurateur. Ms. Dey said that for a woman to own a restaurant in India is frowned upon, which speaks to Ms. Dey’s resolve and ambition. The website decribes the cuisine as “a comtemporary global melding of Indian and Latin American cuisines.” It’s basically a fusion cuisine, elevated to gastronomic chic.
The dinner was a 5-course tasting menu and since a vegetarian menu was offered, I accepted it. I also chose to pay a little extra for the wine pairing. So here’s what I had.
Pani puri, olive and naan salad, jicama roll, and chili mint water
Wine: Vivanco Rioja Blanco
The pani puri was a flour shell with potatoes, a common street food in India. I thought the flavor was a nice combination of savory and sweet, if a little too spicy for my taste. The salad was nicely composed with mixed baby greens, pieces of pear, and dressed with Indian spices. The green olives were an unusual addition but they worked, as did the little naan croutons. The Jicama roll was a palate-cleansing counterpart to the spiciness. The crepe was light and thin and the jicama-and-fruit filling was refreshing. I didn’t care for the mint shooter; I found it too spicy for a drink and didn’t really enhance the dish in any way. Visually, it wasn’t very appealing, either.
Aloo vindaloo, tomatillo gazpacho
Plate brushed with pomegranate molasses and topped with eggplant fritter
Wine: Vivanco Rioja Blanco
The wine for the first 2 courses was a crisp white with fruity and floral notes. It was somewhat apple-y with hints of citrus.
A tapas version of a Venezuelan arepa, this corn pancake was topped with spicy potatoes—a little too spicy for me but the texture was good—and cooled down with a gazpacho shooter that was very different seasoned with Indian spices. The element on this dish that I enjoyed the most was the eggplant fritter garnish. It was light and while not crispy, not mushy either.
Vegetable caldeirada (Brazilian stew), fried papadum
Wine: Sula Chenin Blanc
Of the 4 savory courses, this one was my favorite. The soup was lightly spicy (curry?). In my bowl were bits of cauliflower, yellow squash, green and red peppers, onions, and baby greens. The non-vegetarian version also contained shellfish. I enjoyed it with the very crisp papadum. I discovered, however, that papadums are not sturdy enough to float in your soup like croutons. They kind of dissolve in your mouth, which defeats the purpose of croutons.
The wine was made with grapes from Mumbai, and its flavor profile is described as stewed apples, lychee, and a hint of minerality. Admittedly, it did have a distinctive undertone and finish that I couldn’t quite place.
Tandoori Portabella (Indian marinade), red swiss chard, sautéed spinach, plantain
Wine: Nieto Malbec
Again, the main element here was too spicy for me, and the spicy sauce that came with it did nothing to cut the heat. Having said that, the portabella mushroom had a nice flavor to it. The Swiss chard and spinach were mounded together and didn’t have very much distinctive flavor beyond that of the greens themselves, but maybe that was the point. Personally, I would have liked to have this dish with some rice. The plantain was a chip that was both visually appealing and a nice textural contrast.
The Malbec was a little oaky but fruity and a tiny bit spicy.
Trio of tastings: Mango flan, avocado beignet, and “vermilion hedonism” (dark chocolate flourless cake)
Wine: Blueberry Cardomom Fizz
I can pretty much use one word for all three items on the plate: Delicious. The Flan had a wonderful fruity flavor and wasn’t too sweet, as flans can sometimes be. The little mini cake was fudgy but fluffy at the same time. The Beignet was interesting take on the classic cream puff, filled with a chocolaty avocado filling that, again, wasn’t too sweet. I’d say it’s perfect for the winter holidays because it’s seasoned with cloves, which is not only reminiscent of the holidays but it’s a warming spice (hence its use in winter recipes).
The cardamom cocktail was slightly bitter, but not unpleasantly so. It wasn’t the kind of thing I would order, though.
The most interesting aspect of Vermilion’s menu is their “herb and spice” cocktails. I’m not sure it always works, and I think you have to have a sophisticated palate to appreciate them, but I think they get an A for originality and creativity.
Obviously, I’m a wuss when it comes to spiciness, but I do believe that not every single course in a meal should be spicy. Overall, it was a nice change of pace from normal Indian or Latin meals. Certainly, don’t expect the usual fare when going out to eat either cuisines. It’s a step into the realm of unusual.
There are certain places to which every chef and food-lover must make a pilgrimage. One of those places is the Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, New York.
Ithaca in itself is worth the trip upstate even without Moosewood being there. Part of the Finger Lakes region, it is a gorgeous area dotted with waterfalls and brimming with wineries and distilleries. You can do a wine/spirits trail, a cheese trail, waterfall trail, or go kayaking in summer or skiing in winter. Sticking to the topic of food, you can go to several ice cream shops for homemade ice cream, such as the Cayuga Lake Creamery on Route 89, along Cayuga Lake, where I had maple walnut ice cream and several other flavors, such as cinnamon, which tasted like freshly ground cassia. There’s also the Purity Ice Cream shop on Cascadilla St., which claims to have invented the first ice cream sundae. (Although several other places around the country have made the same claim.) At Purity, I had “boomberry” ice cream—black raspberry ice cream studded with pieces of cherries, blueberries and strawberries. It was simply to die for. And I can tell you that “one scoop” in Ithaca is radically different than “one scoop” in NYC—way more than I’m used to getting. The Ithaca’s Farmer’s Market is also a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours.
Now, onto Moosewood.
Moosewood has been a natural foods restaurant since 1973 and is collectively owned and the owners work in the restaurant. I’ve been looking at their cookbooks and even remember seeing Molly Katzen’s TV show now and then in the 1990s and I’ve wanted to go ever since.
It’s quite elegant looking on the outside, with white lights adorning the windows and ivy growing along the historic brick school building that the restaurant calls home in the Dewitt Mall on Cayuga Street. I was worried for a couple of minutes about whether my dinner companion and I were dressed appropriately (we had on shorts and hikers and sandals). But once inside, I saw how casual the atmosphere was. There were people there who were dressed for a special evening and others, some with children, who looked as if this is one of their local eateries. And I guess it is.
Truly, the décor is so unassuming as to be almost boring, but I don’t think anyone ever goes for the ambiance. The food is the star of the show here. However, I think sitting outside is probably quite lovely on a beautiful day (we chose to sit inside because it was a hot day and we desperately needed the air conditioning). There was an issue with the menus—we had to wait a bit because they had run out of menus, which seemed odd, unless their printer had broken down—but at no time did we feel rushed. We ordered and ate at our leisure. Two points for that.
I had a white sangria, made with organic white Cottonwood wine, fresh orange and lemon juices, and seltzer and it had pieces of apple and pear and grapes soaking in the bottom of the glass. It was light and fresh and just what I needed after a warm day of Farmer’s Market shopping and watching kayakers make their way down Cayuga Lake.
Both our dinners began with a green salad. The greens were very fresh and it was a nice blend that included baby greens. My companion chose the miso dressing and felt that there could have been a little more of it and that it would have been improved by the addition of sesame seeds. I thought my honey-Dijon was just right. However, more than one olive in our salads would have been nice (we both love olives).
We split a black bean dip with organic nachos. The dip was cumin-y and a bit smoky, but slightly sweet, smooth on the tongue and flecked with pieces of black bean. We discovered that it paired very well with the grape tomatoes that came on the plate.
I ordered the Caribbean Vegetable Stew with Jerk Tofu. This was a mélange of sweet potatoes, okra, kale, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, onions, ginger, and chilis served over brown rice. While it was slightly on the spicy side, it was otherwise very lightly seasoned. Some people would probably say that it was bland, but I thought it worked well because I was able to taste each individual vegetable on its own, and I think that’s what they were going for. The tofu was spicy but nicely balanced by the brown rice.
I think my partner made the best possible choice with the Polenta Lasagna. It was full of flavor, enhanced immensely by the ricotta and mozzarella. The polenta they used was the coarse kind, which gave it a chewy, toothsome texture, and the eggplant, zucchini, and yellow squash were nicely grilled. The dish had the allure of comfort food but it was elevated comfort food.
The portions were good—big enough to feel that you actually ate but small enough that if you finished it all, you wouldn’t feel like a fatted goose. Although neither one of us finished everything on our plate, we came pretty close. This, however, prevented us from being able to order dessert. I decided I’d save dessert for the next day.
I had planned on having lunch there the following day (Sunday) but I was extremely disappointed to find that it was closed. It was my mistake for assuming they were open without checking, but who knew the restaurant would opt out of serving the Sunday brunch crowd. (I knew I should have ordered that dessert while I had the chance.) So, unfortunately, my experience with Moosewood’s food is limited to, and I can only base my opinion on, those few items. So far.
Was it the most fabulous meal I’ve ever had? No. But their goal is to provide good, high-quality, healthy meals that taste good, make you feel satisfied, and are kind to the earth. I think they’ve succeeded.
I had Tibetan food for the first time last week and I have to tell you, I enjoyed it immensely.
The Himalayan Yak is a quiet establishment just off the main hustle and bustle of Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights in Queens, New York. If it weren’t for the fairly large sign above it, you might not even realize that the restaurant is there. But once you notice the dark, ornately carved doors, you know something good must be behind them.
Stepping through those doors almost gives you a feeling of stepping into a Tibetan temple and that you should probably speak in hushed tones. More dark wood greets you inside, along with Tibetan artwork on the walls. A flat screen TV showing programs on Tibet is the one thing that seems out of place (well, that and the pop music coming through the speakers). But the atmosphere is not at all uncomfortable. Once settled into our seats, my lunch companion and I fell naturally into conversation.
On the table were copper water goblets, which we promptly filled from the cork-topped bottle of water that was brought to our table. That bit of exoticism was contrasted by the very modern, “clean” plating of our food. It was very difficult deciding what to order, since everything looked mouth-wateringly delicious.
We ordered tsel momo, vegetable-filled, pan-fried dumplings; tzel nezom, a sautéed vegetable dish with tofu; shoku khatsa (aloo dum), a dish of pan-fried potatoes in a spicy chili sauce, served with bhaleb, a flatbread similar to naan, only thicker; and a tingmo, a Tibetan steamed bun.
When we received the tsel momo, they looked absolutely scrumptious. I cut into one and immediately said to my friend, “I think they gave us meat.” Indeed, they had. What we got instead was sha bakleb, which are patties filled with beef. Since this was my first time eating in a Tibetan restaurant, I didn’t pick up the fact that tsel momo dumplings look different than the patties. (like Chinese dumplings).
The sautéed vegetables was a combination of peppers, mushrooms, baby corn, bok choy, carrots, and some kind of green in a light but very flavorful brown sauce. That came with a beautifully cooked bowl of rice. The one problem I had with this dish is that it was supposed to have tofu in it and it did not. The potato dish was excellent, although I find it odd that it would be a main entrée because that’s all there was to the dish—potatoes. The fact that it came with bread is also odd. Maybe you’re supposed to use it to mop up the leftover sauce at the end, but it was an awful lot of bread just to do that. But the bread itself was fluffy and addictive. I used it to pick up the sauces that came to the table with our food. There were three sauces, each one a different heat level: a mild green sauce that was almost like a Latin salsa verde (much more green than the picture shows); a medium, orange one that had a creamy consistency; and a spicy, fiery red one. All of them were rich and savory.
Besides the errors in our orders, my complaint comes in the timing. It took them about 45 minutes to serve us. In a way, that’s good because it means that they don’t have the food already prepared and waiting to just be warmed up. I suspect that the food was made fresh. And they probably don’t cater to the typical “lunch crowd” —i.e., people who only have an hour to get there, eat, and get back. However, the restaurant was hardly crowded. Other than us, there were only 2 other tables with customers, so I can’t help but feel that 45 minutes was a bit much. We had to call our supervisor and tell her what was happening and ask for more time.
Because our food came so late, one we did get it and I realized the errors (the wrong appetizer and missing tofu), there was just no time to send them back and wait for new dishes. We probably would have been there another half hour waiting. So, instead, we ate what we got and enjoyed it regardless.
The server was very nice, however, and we did not punish her for the wait time by undertipping. (You should never do that, by the way, because it is not the server’s fault if your food is not coming out of the kitchen. Now, if your server is standing around chatting while your dishes are waiting to be picked up, that’s another story. But chances are, if he/she is that lazy, you’re getting bad service right from the start.) I get the feeling that dinner is when they really get hopping, and I’ve heard they have live music.
Despite the missteps, we plan on going back, but on a day when we know we can linger a little longer. Either that, or we’ll order ahead. As far as the food goes, I highly recommend it. Just prepared to be there a while, and check your order when you get it.
March 19-29, 2012, was Dine in Brooklyn Week, when people all over NYC have a chance to sample a 3-course meal in some of the best dining establishments in the borough for $25. While I wished I could have taken advantage of many of the great restaurants that are opening in Brooklyn—making it THE new culinary hotspot—alas, I was only able to try one (when you’re broke, $25 is a lot of money). That place was Soigne on 6th Ave. and 10th St. in Park Slope.
The word soigné in French means “well-groomed, sleek, sophisticated elegance,” which it delivered in both their ambiance and food. The décor was instantly pleasing. Its chic, upscale look was tempered with a sense of warmth and casualness. I saw people dining there in t-shirts (which I don’t necessarily approve of because unless you’re going to a burger joint or a Cracker Barrel, I think you should put on a nice shirt), and one table had a toddler in a high-chair. The lighting was intimate but bright enough that you could see what you were eating. They also have outside seating, which in warmer months will be very pleasant on 6th Ave., which is mostly residential and has less traffic than the busier 4th, 5th, and 7thAvenues.
I started my meal with a coconut margarita on the rocks with salt. They were not stingy with the tequila, and the drink packed a bit of a punch. Although, I can’t say that the coconut flavor was as upfront as I would have liked. We then ordered from a prix fixe menu.
The servers brought to our table two silver tumblers of bouchées, which are small pastries, usually puffed and filled with something. Translated, bouchée means “mouthful,” referring to their size (they were about the size of small cream puffs). These bouchées were made with cheese (probably gruyère), so I was surprised that they weren’t referred to as gougères, which are traditional French cheese puffs. They had a sharp, salty flavor that cheese lovers would appreciate, but may not appeal to everyone, as was the case at my table.
Next, we were treated to an amuse-bouche of cold potato soup. Again, I don’t know why they didn’t call it vichyssoise, unless they anticipated being asked a million times what it was and just decided to call it what it is, but whatever. The soup was served in little cups and had bits of bacon floating on top. One of the members of my party is a vegan and requested that they give her a soup without bacon and they happily accommodated her. (She would have picked them off the top except that they said that the bacon sometimes sinks into the soup.) The soup was silky and delicious with a slight hint of sweetness. Coupled with the bouchées, it was an outstanding start to the meal.
For the first course, I had Jerusalem Artichoke Soup, containing wild mushrooms and topped with chives and artichoke chips. It was light but so satisfying. The mushrooms added a nice meatiness and the chips gave it a delicate crunch. Two of my friends had the crab cakes, which I tasted. I’m not a big seafood fan and, admittedly, they were a bit on the fishy side for me, but aside from that, they were fresh and well seasoned—not too much, not too little—and they were complimented by a white balsamic-tomato jam. Alas, no one had the spring salad. I would have loved to try that as well, since it contained trumpet royale mushrooms, roasted fennel, frisée, and chevre and was dressed in a sherry vinaigrette. Sounded good.
For the second course, I had English Pea Risotto, with mascarpone, white truffle, and a parmigiano-reggiano tuile. It was truly delicious. I thought the rice could have been cooked just a drop more, but other than that, everything worked together perfectly. The mascarpone gave it a nice creaminess, while the tuile provided the crunch. One friend ordered the 8 oz. Boneless Rib Eye and she enjoyed it immensely. I tried some the truffled French fries that accompanied it and they were addictive. The seasoning was bold but not overpowering and I could definitely detect the truffle powered (I’m assuming it was truffle powder). It also came with Cabernet-black pepper butter and watercress.
Another friend ordered the duck confit, which came on a bed of lentils dup puy, white asparagus, and red wine-poached salsify. I didn’t get to taste any of it, but it looked beautifully cooked and judging from its disappearing act, I believe my friend enjoyed it.
Other choices on the pri fixe menu were Pan-Roasted Skate with Yukon gold gnocchi, favas, morels, sunchoke puree, and sunchoke emulsion; and Niman Ranch Pork Tenderloin with roasted apple, fingerling potatoes, glazed cippollinis, and grain mustard bordelaise.
For dessert, we had two choices: Valrhona Chocolate Flourless Torte and Vanilla Bean Cheesecake. The torte was great, as sumptuous as you’d expect a flourless cake to be and as chocolaty as you’d expect a Valrhona dessert to be. There was, however, some displeasure over the strawberry puree that came with it—some felt that it wasn’t sweet enough. I disagreed. The cake is sweet enough and I thought the puree was a nice counterbalance. It was topped with crème fraiche cream, which lightened everything up.
The cheesecake was smooth, cream,y and satisfying and the vanilla bean flavor came through. The black plum caramel was less sugary than regular caramel, and I liked that. The honey-poached plum on top, however, was probably the one thing that was unanimously disliked at the table. They were not ripe and, therefore, a bit tart, yet they were bland. And for something that was “honey-poached,” those otherwise pretty slices should have tasted sweeter. Believe me, I’m not a huge sugar person; I have a limit to how much sweetness I can stand in a dessert, so for me to say that it needed to be sweeter, it needed to be sweeter.
At the end, we were treated again to a plate of little cookies, chocolate with a cream filling that reminded me of dulce de leche. It was grainer than dulce de leche but delicious nonetheless.
The total, with drinks, was $40 per person. An incredible deal for a restaurant that is normally on the pricey side. We all walked out of there very satisfied. It was a visually and orally satisfying meal, and the servers were very pleasant and accommodating. We were won over.
I was hoping that the Italian Tribune would put the review of my cookbook up on their website, but as of right now, they haven’t. So, instead, here’s a snapshot of the review. (If you go to my other blog page–rroberti.com–you can see a larger view by clicking on the photo. Don’t know why I can’t do it here.)
I have only a few days left before school starts and I’m pretty excited about it. I’m also waiting to see how I roll back into a curriculum. It’s been so long since I’ve been in to school, it will be interesting to see how I do. Next week, I’ll report on my first day and orientation. I’m sure I’ll be drowning in information. But on to the food.
Last night, I had dinner at Caravan of Dreams, an organic vegan restaurant. There was a time when labeling a restaurant “organic vegan” would have relegated that establishment to the “crunchy granola” crowd. Today, however, organic food is on the rise and “vegan” does not mean a slab of tofu on a bed of alfalfa sprouts chased with a glass of wheatgrass juice. Although you can still get that if that’s your pleasure, vegetarian cuisine has gone way beyond that.
Friday, October 8, is National Fluffernutter Day. Yep, that fluffy marshmallow and peanut butter sandwich you remember from childhood. Marshmallow Fluff was actually invented in 1917 by Archibald Query in his basement; by 1930, it had become a household product. In 1930, New Englanders could tune into a weekly radio program called “Flufferettes,” which featured comedy skits, music, and dramas (click on the link to hear the theme song). Today, it continues to be a supermarket staple and is often used in the American snack favorite Marshmallow Fluff Treats, otherwise known as Rice Crispy Treats.
I got a really nice review over at Savvy Vegetarian. Even though she calls me Rinaldi at one point, the reviewer seemed to really have paid attention to the recipes and what I was trying to put out there. So, a big “thank you” to Savvy Vegetarian.
The place where I work has a bunch of bake sales going on to raise money for Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October), and I going to be put to work making pasta salad for my department’s bake sale. My brain is already at work trying to figure out how I want to approach this.
While we’re on the subject of breast cancer, please help underprivileged women get free breast cancer screenings by clicking the button at the Breast Cancer Site. It’s EASY and FREE, and will take literally 2 seconds.
So, that’s it for this week. Have a great week, and have yourself a nice fluffernutter sandwich.
Hi, gang. Phew, now that I’m working again, it’s becoming a struggle getting my weekly blogs done. I missed last week but I’m going to try and be diligent from now on. No promises, though.
Anyway, this week, I’d like to talk about a great little restaurant I had the pleasure of visiting in Old Colorado City (part of Colorado Springs), Colorado. I’d first heard about this place in a magazine called Alegria Living Colorado Style, which focuses on certain counties in central Colorado. The restaurant is called Pizzeria Rustica, offering—what else?—pizza. But this is no ordinary pizzeria and the owner is no ordinary pizzaioulo.