Monthly Archives: January 2010

Best of 2009

2009 was a great year for many things. Food was no exception. Dirk and I are blessed to share a love and affinity for all that is um, food.

Since our lives revolve around breakfast, lunch, dinner and all in between, it seems fitting to come up the Best of List. This was a joint effort for sure. There are a good dozen plus catagories included. One of each won our hearts; the other a close contender. Here is the list:

1) Best Sandwich – First Place:

Katz’s Deli – NYC, Pastrami on Rye.
This was a beauty to behold. Hand carved, spare no fat, an equal amount of well seasoned and finely shaved meat melted in the mouth. The hearty rye, with its firm crust and fine crumb, needed nothing else. A small smear of mustard and crisp pickle on the side left us speechless.

Heaven on a plate

If any of you are vegan... Well, my condolences.

Runner Up:

Renaud’s Patisserie – Santa Barbara, Croque Monsieur.
In case anyone doesn’t know what this sandwich is made of, it’s a glorified ham and cheese. Layered between two slices of handmade bread, slathered with bechamel and gruyere cheese, it’s then  tucked under a broiler till crispy and brown. The raw talent of this local french bakery is really astounding. Good thing we aren’t within walking distance of this place, because it would be downright dangerous.

2) Best Street Food – First Place:

The Recession Special

I love dogs. All kinds.

Gray’s Papaya – NYC, The Recession Special.
Two hot dogs and a papaya juice for $4.99. Nothing else be said. Dirk likes his with mustard and sauerkraut, I prefer mine with red chili onions. Sublime either way.

Runner Up:

Loteria – Los Angeles Farmer’s Market, Chorizo Fundido.
Imagine a booth in the infamous market that’s been around for 70 plus years. You sit down, order a Hibiscus iced tea and wait for a blistering hot plate served from the broiler with nothing more than a pool of mexican cheese and chorizo sausage. Sop it up with handmade tortillas and weep a little when it’s all gone.

3) Best Cocktail – First Place:

Morton’s Steak House, Charlotte, NC, Sazerac.
I can’t even begin to tell you how lovely this was. I could have had many more of these, but I’m sure it would have been dangerous. Like, on a now you’re conscious and now you’re not level dangerous. Here is the recipe because you may very well need to make one (or two) yourself.

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz rye whiskey
  • 3/4 oz simple syrup
  • Peychaud bitters to taste
  • absinthe
  • lemon twist for garnish

Directions:

  1. Chill an old -fashioned glass by filling it with ice and letting it sit while preparing the rest of the drink.
  2. In a separate mixing glass, muddle the simple syrup and Peychaud bitters together.
  3. Add the rye whiskey and ice to the bitters mixture and stir.
  4. Discard the ice in the chilled glass and rinse it with absinthe by pouring a small amount into the glass, swirling it around and discarding the liquid.
  5. Fill the rinsed glass with crushed ice.
  6. Strain the whiskey mixture from the mixing glass.

Sterrelaan Gals

These Gals LOVE a good Dark and Stormy. True Story.

Runner Up:

Dark and Stormy, Goleta Beach House, CA.
This drink proved to be a hit day in and day out when our dear family and friends of Sterrelaan came to visit last summer. Again, here is the recipe because it has great merit in lifting the body and mind.

Ingredients:

  • In a collins glass filled with ice, add:
  • 2 oz Gosling’s Black Seal rum
  • 5 oz ginger beer
  • Garnish with lime and serve immediately.

Since I know that you now have a cocktail or two to mix, I will conclude this first installment of the Best of 2009. Each and everyone of you should now get yourselves into the kitchen or bar to prepare some love for you and yours.

All this talk of great food and drink suddenly has me hankering for something to nibble and imbibe on and well. I may not have a Gray’s Papaya in the neighborhood, but I do believe I have some great cheese handy.

And a bottle of Gosling’s Rum.

Cheers!

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Does This Burger Make Me Look Fat?

Another day of Twenty Ten down. Today went a bit better. And some not so.

Yin and Yang.

Auto stick german made pride

This is my joy. And um, not so joy.

Let’s deal with the worst first. My mechanic finally surfaced to let me know my 74 Volkswagen Beetle is actually a 73 engine, so the ever so easy install of an alternator is a no go. Must revert back to a generator/regulator repair. No problem, except the wiring has been messed with, and blah, blah, blah.

All I heard at this point was $$$$. And again, I’m without a car for going on two plus weeks. Not real thrilled about that. Once this beautiful little car is up and running, I may consider selling it. *sobbing silently now*.

Better moments – a good run in the morning. Got the chimney cleaned and sorted out for a burn year. Cost more than I would have liked, but it’s now all up to code and thanks to Mr. Chimney Sweep (also a Montecito Fire Fighter), I am certain I will not burn down the house or a neighbor’s. Should be good for karma.

Yesterday’s binge still reared its ugly head today. Ugh. Sluggish and fat I felt. Note to self:

Next craving for a burger will have to be met elsewhere.

The warm Pacific Ocean awaits

This is what I love. Sun. Surf. Sand.

Today I ate better. Oatmeal for breakfast, a small salmon sandwich for lunch with the usual vegetable plate and fruit. Dinner was oven baked chicken, spinach and rice. Light on the rice. Light on everything actually.

In case you don’t know, we are headed to Zihuatanejo Mexico in 11 days for a week of much needed R & R. Bathing suit season will rear its ugly head in January, so it’s every man (and woman) for themselves. I am as ready as I can be. It’s not perfect, but it is what it is.

Good health and fitness is always a work in progress, so I don’t beat myself up for my discretions too much. As long as I eat fairly well, move daily and sleep decent I am happy. Dog knows I’m not 18 any more, nor can I try to be.

The ever increasing gray sprouting on my head will attest to that.

But everyday I rise and shine, go for a run or a good walk with Shadow and complete the daily tasks and challenges facing me, make me a happy girl indeed.

And if I can have a glass or two of wine at the end of the day, so much the better.

Yin and yang people, yin and yang.

Life Gets in the Way.

Hello friends…

My best intentions of posting the ‘best’ of 2009 have alluded me for many reasons:

  1. My shower head was in need of repair. Fixed. Done.
  2. My Mom’s toilet was in need of repair. Bought the part. Installed the part. Part didn’t work. Must return to hardware store for correct part.
  3. Mixed up schedules and appointments made for a bit of chaos.
  4. My beloved car is in the shop. Again. Was supposed to be fixed on Monday. Still haven’t heard from my mechanic.
  5. Spent a good hour plotting the demise and torture of said mechanic.
  6. I am lazy.
  7. All of the above.

Okay, that said, the Best of 2009 I swear, is coming. If I’m not arrested and on trial for number 5, I will get to it over the next couple of days.

But I had to leave you all with something (this is me, actually pretending people are reading this silly blog, and returning to see if I am capable of writing some more endless dribble).

So let’s get right to it. The food.

Farmer's Market at it's finest

None of this food group made it into my belly today. Boo.

I was bad today. Because of the crazy schedule mentioned above, I was not able to prepare a simple, real breakfast, which usually includes oatmeal:

  • Scottish Oats
  • Banana
  • Flax Seeds
  • Brown sugar
  • Almond Butter

Instead, after a 3 + mile run, I showered and dressed, then proceeded to slam down a Mojo Bar and head out the door for more errands. By the time I picked up Dirk at noon, we decided to grab a bite out for lunch (another really bad idea when you are so hungry you could bite a baby’s butt through a park bench).

Insert The Habit here. Not bad. But when you go back for seconds (as in a second burger and onion rings) It. Is. Bad.

Finally home after another unsuccessful venture (see list number 2), I took a quick nap. Back up and on the road to pick up Dirk. Home again, and dinner was probably best passed on, but I do live with a strong, young Dutch boy, so I prepared (reheated) some leftover quiche and salad.

A couple glasses of wine later, and this is what you get people.

I’m not proud. But some days you just do what you can. And I’m pretty sure I have fulfilled my need of burger and bun for a while.

Tomorrow is another day. A good run will be in order. Then some oatmeal.

And then I deal with my mechanic. I vow to be gentle.

01 02 20 10

I love those numbers.

After another lovely long holiday weekend day, I was surprised to find another one awaits. Here I thought all day it was the wind down to the weekend (Sunday), only to find it was actually Saturday. Score!

Today was pretty sweet. We visited our favorite Mexican restaurant, Rose’s. Conveniently located a short drive away in the ‘hood’ of Santa Barbara. Chorizo burritos, chilaquiles and smoking good salsa ensued. Perfect.

We then enjoyed one of our favorite past times, an afternoon movie. We watched Up in the Air. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I’m not sure what all the hype is about, Oscar worthy, Golden Globe sweeper, etc. I will give it kudos for being an original screenplay, and it stars George Clooney. So that said, I recommend.

A bit of window shopping up State Street, and then to the Harbor for some fresh fish to go with vegetables and sides already at the house. We picked up a light, fresh and locally caught halibut. Beautiful. I simply sauteed it with capers and wine, served with basmati rice and broccolini. Just right to offset the heavy laden cheese and sausage breakfast.

Balance people, balance.

fish and chips

See that big bone sticking out the side? Bad. Oh wait. Never mind.

Nearly halfway through the meal, I encountered a thin bone that slid down my mouth and lodged itself into my wind pipe. Yeah, not good. Not terribly bad however, as it wasn’t a thick bone and I could breathe fine. It scratched. It tried to make it’s way south as I felt it needed and wanted to do so. But it wouldn’t budge.

Damn it! Dirk looked over at me and said. “Should we go to the ER?”

Hell no! I’ve had my share of hospitals, doctors and sterile white rooms for a good long time, thank you very much.

“I’m fine,” I croaked.

Dirk kept eating. I kept trying to dislodge the damn bone. I downed several glasses of water. Nothing.

boneless? Hmmf

This looks harmless. Cuidado people.

“Maybe some rice would help,” Dirk offered. “Or bread.” Good idea.

Nothing doing. I tried to sit at the table and settle it down with positive thinking. (That, and rubbing the back of my throat with my hand. Hey, it works for animals, perhaps it would work for me).

Nope. Okay, this called for drastic measures because at this point, it was causing me a bit of alarm. And discomfort. So I did what any normal person would do.

I went to the bathroom and removed said bone from my throat. Let’s not go into details. It wasn’t pretty, or comfortable. But I got the job done. Much, much better. Anyone who has ever had choking and breathing issues due to food will relate when I tell you this is a moment of rebirth. Silly, I know. But honestly; perspective it gives.

Because I am just not the most balanced person in the world, I proudly came and showed off the offending sliver to my husband.

Dirk’s exact words:

“Oh my God. I can’t believe you actually got that out of your throat! I am in true awe of you.”

Just hearing those words emitted from my gorgeous husband nearly made it all worth it.

Back to more important issues at hand and life. Like finishing that glorious bottle of wine accompanying our halibut. The rest of dinner on my plate?

No thanks.

Farewell 2009.

Happy New Year Blog Friends and Family!

During this long holiday weekend, I will be recapping my favorite bits of 2009. They are many and I fear I will fail to mention some, so my apologies in advance. Most will be related to food of course, but travel plays a role as well, which just happens to be my second favorite thing in the world to do. Eating and traveling are great companions!

New York and the big guy

Smiling is fun. Let's all try it!

Although I didn’t take any transatlantic vacations this year, I was lucky enough to have four groups of friends and family visit from across the pond, and a couple trips we met somewhere in between. You know those experiences are at the top of my list!

Just the memories of 2009 give me a reason to smile, and to be grateful for all the love and joy I experienced.

Not all was fine in 2009 (sorry, I couldn’t help that), but life rolls like that. Living well is a goal I wish to achieve, and I’m not referring to drinking find wine and eating organic foods (although that does sound pretty good to me).

As I grow older I wish to grow wiser, with modesty and respect for life. This truly is a gift here folks, we don’t have infinite time here. We can spend it lamenting about what is and isn’t. We can habitually moan and groan about the injustice of life and how rotten things are going…

Or, we can sing when the sun shines, and dance when it rains.

May 2010 be a year of growth, knowledge and celebration for us all. Happy New Year!