Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Cooking at Home

So while most of these blogs are about restaurants, cafes, etc., it probably goes without saying that I eat at home most of the time. When that happens, I have a few favorite cookbooks that are AHHHHMAYZING:

My current favorite is Super Natural Cooking: Five Ways to Incorporate Whole & Natural Ingredients Into Your Cooking by Heidi Swanson. My roommate, Annie, discovered it at Anthropologie a few days after my birthday and wished she had uncovered them before my birthday so she could have given them to me. I went out with birthday money the next day and bought it cause everything looks sooooo yummy. It's divided up into Building Your Pantry, Grains, Color, Superfoods, Natural Sweetners aka everything is super heathy and the cookbook is really well rounded. There is pasta, sushi, cookies, salads, soups, dips, granola, and more. I've only cooked out of it a few times, but the spine is already starting to show much love.

Another book Annie discovered that I bought as well is Fast, Fresh & Green: More Than 90 Declicious Recipes for Veggie Lovers by Susie Middleton. Veggies, veggies, and more veggies. I've started to eat a more vegetarian diet since veggies are what we're supposed to eat mainly anyways. I can't tell you the last time I cooked meat on my own at home. And when I do, it's just salad toppers. This book is divided up by the technique used to cook the dishes and gives suggestions as to what to eat them with.

Some other favorites:

The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters. Alice was a pioneer in organic, local cooking. The cookbook explains what is in seasonally so you can go to the farmers market to pick everything up depending on what time of year and your location. I actually picked this one up after reading that Natalie Coughlin, Olympic medalist, cooks out of it.

Clean Food by Terry Walters. This is a seasonal guide to eating close to the source, per the cover. It's great because the pages are colored based on the season so, like with The Art of Simple Food, you can just turn to the "Spring" section, or whatever, and head to the farmers market.

Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero is great for anyone who is vegan, vegetarian, allergic to soy or gluten, eating a low/reduced fat diet, in a hurry, or unable to find more obscure ingredients. All recipes are labeled so it's easy to find what you need if you have any restrictions. The recipe that caught my eye, and quite honesly the only one I've made thus far, is the Lemongrass Asparagus Risotto. It was so good. I made it with a friend who also loves to cook and he said you can leave the mint out if you don't like mint. I like mint, Adam, so there. It's staying.

That's all for now. I'm sure I'll uncover more and more cookbooks as time progresses. If you know of any great cookbooks, let me know! I'm always up for fun kitchen time.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Birthday Dinner in Laguna Beach...How could I forget??

I just turned 21, and for my birthday, I decided to go to a restaurant I've been scouting for some time now: Tabu Grill in Laguna Beach. It caught my eye on Zagat over a year ago with it's score of 29 for food...there is no restaurant in San Francisco, New York, Paris, or Rome with a score of 29. AKA: Tabu Grill is AMAZING. And Lord, was Zagat right. I went with two girlfriends, one a foodie, and the other, a self proclaimed foodie after this meal. Her words from dinner: "I just realized what good food really is." I can't even begin to describe everything. We had potato ravioli, I had an asian pear salad with almonds, I got short ribs, we all split bomb.com macaroni and cheese, guava creme brulee (sounds weird...was actually really good), and the thing that three girls would obviously order: flourless chocolate cake. I literally died and went to heaven on my 21st birthday. To top it all off, they've got a great wine bar and this wine-o-in-training got a wonderfulArgentinian white. Seriously...it's a little pricey (especially for college students...thanks for the birthday treat, Mom and Dad) but for a special occasion, absolutely worth every penny.

Tabu Grill
2892 South Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

New York...Updated

Just got back from a short little stint in New York packed with interviews, shows, and, of course, food. Two great new places for meals, both down in the East Village are Veselka and Atlas Cafe. Also hit up a great place for unexpected desserts: Momofuku.

Veselka was featured in Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist. It's open 24 hours a day, which means you can get your fix of amazing Ukrainian dumplings, salad, soup, burgers, or rice crispy treats the size of your face. Seriously, I kept skirting the recommendations of this place cause I though, "Meh...I'm not really a Ukrainian food person," but when a few friends of mine nudged me to go with them I was excited they had gotten me to go. I got honey and port braised short rib pirogues (Ukrainian dumplings) and sweet potato fries. So, so good. My friends got the potato pirogues (with a little bit of cheese to add flavor) and sauerkraut and mushroom pirogues. Much to my surprise as one who's not too keen on sauerkraut or mushrooms, the latter weren't too bad. While we were leaving, we all got a cocoa puff treat (a rice crispy treat with cocoa puffs, chocolate chips, and marshmallow chunks) to split. It was all so good and definitely a place I'll be hitting up when I'm down there late at night and get the munchies.

144 2nd Ave.
New York, NY 10003

My last afternoon there, I got lunch with a friend at NYU at Atlas Cafe (also down in the East Village). I'm usually not one to get overwhelmed by restaurants, but the size of this menu is incredible. The walls on both sides of this hole in the wall cafe are covered in omnivore, vegetarian, and vegan options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as coffee, smoothies, and shakes. I got an omelette with chicken, sun dried tomatoes, pepper jack, a bagel, and salad. It was an awesome way to leave the city. The one thing I was unimpressed by was my chai tea latte. It was really watery. Stick to the food. Also, while I didn't get any dessert, the friends I went to Veselka with said Atlas has great desserts too!

Atlas Cafe
73 2nd Ave.
New York, NY 10003

Lastly, I had some great, out of this world dessert at Momofuku Milk Bar (also in the East Village...I was under the impression I hadn't spent much time down there this trip...guess I was wrong. Haha). It's a little place attached to a much larger restaurant. The Milk Bar has a very avant guard take on dessert flavors. I got a cookie with chocolate chips, cornflakes, and marshmallows. I also tried the cereal milk soft serve, which is probably one of the most bizarre things I've ever tried (up there with guacamole flavored tortilla chips). It's a texture thing...I just wasn't about it. But lots of fun in concept, and the cookie was awesome. To try next time (if I'm feeling gutsy): the compost cookie--pretzels, potato chips, coffee, oats, butterscotch, and chocolate chips. I mean...it's on their menu and teh cookie is trademarked...it's gotta be good, right?

Momofuku Milk Bar
207 2nd. Ave.
New York, NY 10003