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Friday, November 27, 2009

Cherry On Top

Despite not getting a cherry on top of this "cherry on top"...
There was no better way to conclude our Thanksgiving holiday than with Ashley's homemade ice cream.
Blueberry got pumpkin, and I chose butter pecan.

So long, Connecticut!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Cruising To Connecticut With Karolina or Marley & Us...
(Eh, I'll go with the first title)

I'm not a big animal fan *dodging dozens of projectiles*... Well, I don't not like animals. I've never been cruel to one, I am simply not one to stop everything I am doing or break out into baby talk if I see an adorable dog on the street, for example. I also appreciate my friends' pets tremendously, like this gorgeous Irish Setter, Marley, below.

With all of my loved ones far and away, I am fortunate enough to spend my Thanksgiving with my blueberry, Karolina, and her family in Connecticut. We drove up yesterday evening on a dim, foggy road with a mood-setting night-drive soundtrack to match. Today, we took Marley for a walk along the beach, collected some rocks (I chose the 3 white ones for her and she picked the egg-like rock and peach colored one for me) and had some coffee tawk with her younger brother about horror movies (a follow up convo after all watching House of the Devil last night).

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thankstaking Dinner

I know, I know... We killed it. Since my beloved Queridis won't be around for Thanksgiving, we decided to celebrate our own version of the holiday, aptly named Thankstaking, by treating ourselves to the carrot soup and fig duck with hash pictured above.

The carrot soup was prepared by sautéing that beautiful combination of thyme, shallots, butter, ginger, curry powder and a bay leaf with butter. We added potato, chicken broth, apple cider, carrot, water, salt and pepper and finished it off with toasted almonds. I also threw in some almonds when pureeing it as well though.

Queridis took control with the duck, which we crowned with a fig balsamic glaze. It was served on top of the most sumptuous bed of potato, pear and pearl onion hash... Nice and browned darkly, the way a hash should always be, in my book.

I highly recommend making these flavorful recipes, both simple and relatively quick.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Shortly before OJ Simpson made the Ford Bronco famous, my Sea World-visor-and-fanny-pack clad family drove its burgundy one south of my father's hometown in Zacatecas to Mexico City for a vacation with family friends. On this cloudy afternoon, circa 1994, the other half of our entourage led the way in a wood paneled station wagon; inside, Felipe Senior drove Felipe Junior, Felipe Jr.'s mother Lucero, and of course the female namesake... you guessed it, Little Lucero.

I have fond memories of walking down the Avenue of the Dead at Teotihuacan, climbing up and through aqueducts, standing amidst vast plazas and marveling at the serpent-sculptured facades of an ancient civilization's crumbling constructions. Annoyed by my father who, trying to reference an Aztec flute, pretended to play said wind instrument, I, in turn, annoyed him back by re-enacting the popular Wrigley's Doublemint gum commercial ad nauseum, so that when it started to rain upon reaching the top of the Pyramid of the Sun, he didn't mind getting soaked because it couldn't have gotten much worse than my tailgating screeches.

My nervous documentarian of a mother, who was never without a recording device at hand (or head) during my entire childhood, would yell warnings at us every so often, so as to not fall off a pyramid... even when we were feet away from the edges. I've never been fond of having my picture taken, so every photo we have from that trip has me with a sour expression on my face.

I remember picking up a faux rock collection as a souvenir. I'm pretty sure the "gold" piece was just a large pebble sprayed gold. I forgot what I did with it... I think I detached all of the rocks from the display to decorate a mock biosphere science project years later. I do remember bringing it in for show and tell the following school year, but no one was impressed by my precious stones. At some point on the return, Little Lucero broke the lock off the gate of our Bronco, enraged because she didn't get a souvenir of her own, one she had her eyes set on longingly as we had walked down an alley of vendors exiting the site.

I'm hoping to revisit Teotihuacan soon. Maybe the next time I will take a photo or two with a smile on my face.

Thanks to Gordis for helping me remember some details.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Leftovers and Condiments Rally Together For A Good Cause

The usual suspects are back for a tuna salad snack. This time around, in my everything-in-my-kitchen-tuna, you'll find: leftover garlic, basil and parmesan pistou from last night's soup, half of a leftover lemon, carrot, red onion, capers, mayo, seeded mustard and wasabi, as well as the last of a block of parmesan cheese. I feel somewhat guilty since I just read these tuna related warning posts not too long ago.

Note to self: Stop cutting red onion when you're in glasses mode. It looks like I just got out of a bad chick flick by the time I'm done with that thing.

There Was A Night With So Much Fun, And Friday Was Its Name, Oh!


After a week of subway treks and the onset of head cold symptoms, this newfound form of therapy hit the spot. I find that the focus required when you scour for letter-number combination, hour after hour, is beyond relaxing, not to mention an informal lesson in patience. The company was genuine and open- Brooklyn's finest shouting lucky mantras when certain combos are called and hurling playful insults at their neighbors, all in the name of healthy competition. I've never felt more welcome to a new group!

I suppose being two spots away from winning a hefty cash prize can be anxiety inducing, but as soon as the next round comes, it feels as though nothing else matters except for concentrating on your new card.

You don't have a minute to spare on worries when you're busy keeping tabs on all this:

The reward factor is also a plus. In my case, I won a door raffle in which a "jackpot card" was bestowed upon me. Later, I lost the jackpot round itself, but it's uplifting to win, even in a small way.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Here Comes The Rain Again

Rain was always an event in Los Angeles. Scarves, gloves and Ugg boots were quickly bust out at the first sighting of a droplet. When I permanently settled in the Columbia University area of Manhattan back in March, one of the rainier months around here, not only did I discover that I had to keep it moving despite umbrellas flipping inside out and midday realizations that I wore the wrong jacket (a mystery I am still grappling with), I also discovered the comfort of retreating to this special haven full of warm drinks and desserts. And now, listening to cars swoosh through the fallen rain outside of a new Brooklyn apartment, with plenty of streets nearby offering café after café, I find myself wanting nothing other than a Hungarian coffee (with almond, whipped cream and cinnamon) and walnut macaroon from the Hungarian Pastry Shop.

I reviewed this coffee shop as part of a "Best Coffee in NY" article I wrote some time ago, which I am reposting below in case you find yourself craving a good cup in NYC, rain or shine.

Coffee Stops & Pastry Shops

Ah, the timeless marriage of the cornetto and cappuccino. Or perhaps you prefer soaking a soft madeleine in your tea. Whether you’re in need of a caffeine fix or just searching for a spot to satisfy your sweet tooth, here are six NY destinations that won’t disappoint on your quest for the perfect coffee-pastry pairing.

·Gimme Coffee, 228 Mott St./Prince
They offer an array of treats from Ceci Cela, a local patisserie that has been practicing the art of French pastry making for 15 years. They describe the secret behind their crowd pleasing espresso as “never being satisfied, always challenging ourselves to improve, to grow, to learn.”

·Hungarian Pastry Shop, 1030 Amsterdam/111st St.
Situated across the Cathedral of St. John the Divine are heavenly trays of cherry linzer, walnut macaroons and dozens of other treats. This shop offers various types of teas and coffees, from Hungarian to Russian to plain old American. Its intimate, somewhat dark setting is lively with chatty students and delighted regulars.

·Abraço, 7th St./1st Ave.
As the coffee flows into the NY staple Greek cups, its customers spill onto 7th street at this neatly tucked, East village espresso bar. Each cup of drip coffee is ground and brewed to order. If that doesn’t sell you, their bold pastries will. They also serve excellent food for a hole-in-the-wall bar, like their fontina grilled cheese with roasted poblano peppers and seasonal soups/salads. Small plates available noonish, prix-fixe for $15 or $6 each.

·Joe, The Art of Coffee, 141 Waverly Pl./Gay St.
This cozy, corner café presents a variety of cookies, rolls and desserts behind a glass case. However, the true star is their highly acclaimed espresso. More than just great coffee, Joe’s also caters and offers a coffee-related curriculum with courses like Advanced Milk Steaming.

·Café Sabarsky, 1048 Fifth Avenue/86th St.
After perusing the Neue Gallery’s German and Austrian art collection, you can sip on a Kaiser Melange at the museum’s first floor café. Their fresh ground coffees and carefully selected teas are complemented by some of the city’s finest Viennese sweets, from their magnificent marzipan cakes to sumptuous strudels.

·Falai, 68 Clinton St./Rivington
This Italian themed restaurant opens the doors to its stylish, yet cozy, blue and white interior during the daytime as well. They exclusively service Illy brand espresso, and some of their highlights are the semolina pudding tartlets and panna cotta with strawberry puree.

Photos: Hungarian Pastry Shop by Paolo Mastrangelo and Abraco pastries and coffee by Abraco, all others by yours truly.

The XX at the Bowery Ballroom

I was a little late in giving this British quartet turned trio my seal of approval. We've been listening to their album "XX" around the house, and I was curious to see how the group's minimal sound, as well as their dreamy vocals, were carried out live. The result was very well and quite skillfully. Their singing is mesmerizing: the girl's whispy, soft voice is beautifully complemented by the bass player's deeper, raspier (while still quite airy) one. When I first heard them, after a few minutes of their mood-setting intro, I was wowed. After a while I couldn't tell each song apart because I'm not too familiar with their repertoire. My stand out list includes one of their singles, Basic Space (video'd below to the left), and the one that sounds like a nouveau-Chris Isaak's Wicked Game called Infinity (video'd below to the right, solely for music sample sake). The show's lighting was coherent with the Basic Space video and made for a striking visual. Also notable was the guy on the MPC's masterly performance; how he manipulated such a variety of drum sounds so swiftly is beyond me. Then again, this is coming from a girl who can't hop on one foot and clap at the same time- zero physical coordination!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Orange Ya Happy For Carrots?

I am really trying to get rid of these carrots before they go rotten. To the left we have roasted carrots which I marinated in honey, balsamic, salt and pepper. I made little slits so the marinade would creep in them. And to the right we have a different- more tangy flavored- shredded carrot, thanks again to Querido's mom's hand me down recipes. This carrot salad is a preferred regular in this household, consisting of pine nuts, parsley and raisins with a tarragon vinegar-lemon dressing. The original recipe didn't call for cumin, but I added some as well as red onion.

I painted this little scene while the carrots were roasting. Maybe I should have added a little carrot patch in there somewhere. Oh me, oh my, the Williamsburg rustic factor might be getting to my head...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Cooking With A Silver Spoon

We just got the cookbook The Silver Spoon this weekend and decided to play around with it for tonight's dinner. Warning: The tomato-egg dish doesn't really go with the tuna and radishes, but we were starving and still had to go grocery shopping for 2 or 3 items, so the recipe choices were time sensitive, as well as what-we-had-in-our-fridge - sensitive. In any case, I like tasting different flavors in one sitting just fine. Just see me at the Whole Foods self-serve section... Samosa, quinoa salad, pizza, you name it. There's always roasted something in there also... Without further ado, my dinner:

Those eggs were the most fun to make. You roast the tomatoes for about 20 minutes with olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano; then you take them out, crack an egg and put them back in for like 8 minutes. At the very end, you'll see down there, I added some basil and some more salt and pepper. The recipe calls for parsley, but I was already parsleying up the tuna...

One tuna is flipped over so that you can see what it was starting to look like. In there: tad bit of parsley, white wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic that we cooked with the oil before we added the tuna steaks. To the right we have radishes that were boiled in a light sugar, butter and salt syrup. They were supposed to be glazed, but I added too much water. At the end I drizzled a bit of honey. They were an excellent alternative to potatoes.

Final touches, and ta-da!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Not Christmas Inspired Evening

My everything-in-my-kitchen tuna has never tasted better. This one consisted of capers, sweet onion, parsley, cherry tomatoes, seeded mustard, lemon, mayonnaise, wasabi, sea salt and pepper. I ate it with seeded Lavasch crackers. Observe:

The tuna color-coordinated with the pattern I was painting:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Looking Up

I've always made it a point to announce, to whoever I am with, my klutzy tendency to look down when I walk... Mostly as a warning. You see, I am constantly tripping on the occasional ridge and cranny, so what was once exercising caution has become a bad habit. I've tried and tried, especially walking around some of the cobblestone streets and uneven sidewalks here in New York, to mind my eye-level surroundings- not just to familiarize myself with my new environment, but to break out of this compulsion.

The beautiful New York autumn coupled with lots and lots of work are the only things I needed to complete this paradigm shift as a pedestrian, and also to remain happy. When you're constantly surrounded with golden and orange leaves, it's hard not to look upwards. And being on the go, nonstop, makes it pretty hard to look down. Just yesterday I rented a large cargo van for work, and I found myself in awe of the way the sun lit up the streets in what seemed to be carefully selected spots. I would have taken camera-phone photos, but I think that dodging cabs, vans, wrong turns and several dozen passersby was enough for me to deal with. The day before was a tad darker and chillier, but punctuated by the fall colored foliage- reminiscent of those cheeseball black and white color-corrected photos of kids handing each other flowers or holding hands in oversized 1920's clothes.

Looking for steady work hasn't been the easiest task over the last couple of months, and I'm certain plenty of other people can empathize with this distress. Many are out of a job, while others simply hate theirs. I am fortunate enough to have supportive loved ones, a newfound stimulating work environment and now, majestic views at every turn- I have more reasons than ever to look up!

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I'm an LA transplant now living in Brooklyn. I develop film projects by day, write at night, and have a dangerous predilection for vintage Robinson Golluber scarves- this blog serves as a tiny window to everything else I do when I'm not satisfying those first three passions. I'm trying to blog more and tweet less @annabelleqv. What about you?


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