Chopped out

I’m not even going to try to be witty tonight because all I can hear running through my head is a repeating loop of chop this, chop this, chop this. I never want to see another knife or another veggie again. (I will probably change my mind tomorrow, though.)

Anyway, we had steak salads for lunch made with leftover steak from Saturday night’s grilling:

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Also in the salads: arugula from the garden (10 million times better than from the store — it’s super super hot and spicy), green onions from the garden, chives from the garden, romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, radishes, feta, and drizzles of balsamic and herby olive oil.

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Dessert was a teeny bit (like 2 tbsp) of leftover carrot cake oatmeal with extra pineapple, apple, cinnamon, and cardamom:

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Mom and I forged on throughout the afternoon to make enough food for 30 armies to send to my dad’s house: chicken cacciatore, beef-kielbasa-barley stew, and pumpkin grapenut pudding. Mom was in charge. I followed her commands. Chop this, chop this, chop this. At some point, I had a minor breakdown and abandoned the kitchen in favor of a nap on the porch bench. I am not made to be a sous-chef, nor am I made for large-scale food prep.

My dad came over around 7pm to collect the goods, and mom gave him detailed serving and reheating instructions. Dad, I expect a full report as you eat these things!

Sarah Whiting (aka Ting) and her friend Nora came over for dinner. I completely forgot to take people pictures, grrrrr. But I did take food pics. I made chips from the stale whole wheat roll-ups and guacamole from two avocados, black bean and corn salsa, fresh tomato, fat free sour cream, fresh lime juice, and cayenne.

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We ate it all very quickly (a significant portion is sitting in my belly now). We also enjoyed more Golden Star sparkling white jasmine tea spritzers (1/3 tea, 2/3 plain seltzer).

The main course was chicken-pineapple-onion-green pepper-kielbasa skewers. I’m pretty sure I spent hours skewering these things. John started them off in the stone grill outside, but they weren’t cooking fast enough, so we finished the job inside with a quick broil in the oven. Ting and Nora brought an awesome pesto-bean salad with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. The plate:

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The skewers may not have been able to finish outside, but the sweet potatoes did, however, do quite well in the stone grill with perfect char.

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Dessert was fresh watermelon:

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And pizelle cookies:

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Dinner with the girls was so fun — Ting and I needed the chance to catch up, and we had some very interesting conversations, not the least of which was my mom’s recounting of her competitive bodybuilding days. And like I said, I’m exhausted. And stuffed. I’m heading back to NY at some point tomorrow, though I don’t know my exact schedule. And I’m too tired to deal with the bus schedule right now!

I can’t think of a question. What question would you ask now, and how would you answer?

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Tres leches, tres veces

I’m speaking in Spanish again, so clearly I spent the day at a work event. And if I spent the day at a work event, you know that also means there was no shortage of food. The first order of business on the “mission retreat” agenda was lunch!

Here’s my plate:

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I had half of a grilled chicken and avocado wrap:

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Green salad:

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And some pasta salad:

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All delicious, obv. On the side, I had a cup (probably equal to about two cups) of tropical fruit salad (papaya, mango, pineapple, watermelon, strawberries, oranges, and grapes):

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I had seconds of the green salad and seconds and thirds of the fruit salad 😛

After lunch, we did a lot of ice breakers (fun ones, believe it or not!), reviewed the history of the agency, listened to a panel discussion by clients we’ve helped, broke into small discussion and reflection groups … and then it was time for cake!!! (Of course.)

Here’s my first slice of the beautiful tres leches (not as milky as the one I had last night, though!) along with two of Dorothy’s homemade oatmeal cookies:

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I supplemented with two jammy Pepperidge Farm cookies:

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And then proceeded to have two more slices of cake, one of which was mostly frosting:

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Since it was mostly frosting, it was ideal for dipping tortilla chips. I dipped quite a few, like so:

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We ended the retreat with a conga line and a daisy exchange. When I got home, I carefully arranged my daisies in the spread-eagle bunny bowl:

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Food aside, this “retreat” managed to get me even more excited about working where I do (as if I needed it). That’s usually the goal of most company retreats, but I think they rarely accomplish it so successfully!

On the way home, I stopped into Union Market for a sample handful of peanut butter-filled pretzels:

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After all of this indulgence, I was thrilled when Vani invited me to join her and Arthur (her dog) for a walk in the park. We ended up walking for nearly two hours! She also gave me a pack of stale Fig Newman’s that she didn’t want to throw away because she realized after opening them that they weren’t vegan and thought they would make a good “expansion challenge.” I liked her suggestion of grinding them up to make a pie crust. Keep your eyes peeled because this may be coming soon to a blog near you 🙂

For “dinner,” I just threw together a quick yet wildly delicious snack of chips and salsas left from the restaurant last night with the rest of my humbecuemole and a string cheese stick that my mom donated a while back. I got it melty in the oven and then topped it with some plain yogurt:

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I’m off to get some packing done now because I’m planning to head straight up to MA tomorrow after my class (the last of the semester, finally!). I’m looking forward to a few days of true summer relaxation because I always feel like I should be doing stuff when I’m here in NY. Do you need to leave town to relax?

Breaksert

Inspired by Hangry Heather, I decided to try my hand at a breakfast sundae this morning.

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For the “cone” I put together an overnight breakfast cookie mix of 1/4 cup extra thick rolled oats, 1 tbsp ground flax, 1 tbsp hulled hemp seeds, 1 tbsp goji berries, 1/4 mashed banana, and 1 tbsp Artisana cacao bliss. Rather than flattening the cookie on a plate, I pressed it into a ramekin to make a bowl shape and left it in the fridge overnight. This morning, I popped the cone, ramekin and all, into the freezer because I wanted to be able to extract the cone from the ramekin intact.

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For the “ice cream,” I mixed 1/2 cup yogurt with 1 tbsp lucuma powder, 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 tsp honey, 1/4 mashed banana, dash vanilla, and a few peanut pieces. That went into the freezer for the 20-stir-20-stir method.

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After extracting the cone from its ramekin, I filled it with the ice cream and decorated with berries, cinnamon, more peanuts, coconut, and a plummy gummy 🙂

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This was so so fun to eat and a lovely post-gym treat (with my yerba mate on the side, mmm)!

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This afternoon, I’m off to a work event. We’re having a “mission retreat” from 12-5, and even though I’m on vacation, it seems like an important thing to attend!

How do you feel about dessert for breakfast?

Restaurant Review: La Fonda del Sol

Dinner tonight was the most amazing deal ever, thanks to Kate!

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As part of Dine Out New York, Kate received a 50/50 coupon in honor of her birthday two weeks ago, so she invited Gina and me to help her out with it. With the coupon, we could choose from the list of participating restaurants and get $50 off our meal as long as we spent $50 between the three of us. We chose La Fonda del Sol, and I’m so glad we did since we basically just enjoyed a very affordable 11-dish tasting menu!

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We knew we wanted to order about $100 worth of food to take full advantage of the deal (i.e. spend as little as possible but still get the full $50 value of the coupon). Our server was so helpful and counseled us through the best strategy, and we decided to order mostly from the tapas menu (rather than from the main courses) so we could share and get little tastes of as much as possible.

While we were waiting for our little dishes, our server came back around to present us with a baguette option: black olive or traditional. I went for the black olive baguette, of course!

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I loved this baguette. The olives gave it a fruity flavor, and look at how prominent they were:

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Our food came out all at once, and after I spent about 20 minutes taking pictures (Kate and Gina are so patient with me!), I set to work on the task of thirding everything. I am a pro with utensil Olympics, but mostly I want to make sure that everyone gets to try equal amounts of everything, so this is my favorite job 😀 I got out my knife and split it all into thirds … some split more easily than others though!

The server noticed my excessive photography and asked what was up. When I explained about the food blog, he came back with extra menus for me to take home so that I could consult them when I wrote about the meal. Thank goodness, because I’m not sure I’d be able to remember all the critical details on my own!

Here’s how the feast went down …

Garlic shrimp “cazuelita” with olive oil, chile pods, and garlic chips:

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Salchichon de Vic with cured pork loin, chorizo, and fuet Catalan:

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Empanadas filled with chicken and chorizo:

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Piquillo peppers stuffed with Spanish rice and rabbit:

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Tuna tacos with avocado and jalapeno pickled onion:

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These baby tacos were delicious — kind of like sushi with a Spanish flair.

“Albondiguillas” meat balls skewers with tomato and pimenton:

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Sea scallops tiradito with chiles, citrus, tomato, and cilantro:

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When we were debating between these scallops and the day boat fluke tiradito (with pickled golden pineapple, avocado, and jalapeno), our server told us we needed to choose the scallops. He said they were so good that he dreamed about them at night. He was right!! I’m pretty sure that visions of scallops tiradito will be swimming through my dreams tonight.

Queso Iberico croquetas with membrillo:

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This was my favorite of all the dishes. Queso Iberico is made from a mix of cow, sheep, and goat milk, and it was so creamy and melty when we cut into the croquetas. Membrillo is a paste made of quince (a fruit that’s sort of apple-y), so the sweet sauce plus the farmy creamy cheese was an insurmountable combination.

The table kind of fell silent as we ate because every single bite was jaw-achingly delicious. We each kept saying over and over, How does everything taste so good? and, I can’t get over how many flavors there are! We were thrilled that we chose to do the meal this way because it felt like a fancy tasting menu at a fancy restaurant, which it pretty much was. Our server did tell us that we needed to come back to try the main courses, too — “It will give you tons of material for the blog” — because that’s what they’re known for. He hadn’t steered us wrong yet, so I believed him! Just have to wait until the money starts coming in …

But we weren’t done yet! Our ever reliable server gave us three dessert recommendations, and we took all of them 😛

Wicked chocolate cake with manjari chocolate, guajillo chile, cinnamon, and mint ice cream:

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I adore spicy chocolate, so I was excited about this cake. Of the three desserts, though, this was my least favorite because the rich rich chocolate overpowered the spice. Not really a problem, since I enjoy rich rich chocolate, but I wanted to taste the chile and cinnamon!

Tarta de manzana deliciosa (“delicious apple tart”) with almond cream and apricot ice cream:

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Is that tart not the most beautiful thing you have ever seen?? Those thin thin slices of apple were so painstakingly arranged! The apricot ice cream that came with it was some of the best ice cream I have ever tasted (and I’m usually not a fruity ice cream girl!):

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Bunyols/cinnamon fritters with salty caramel sauce, maracuya (passion fruit) peppercorn rose sauce, and orange chocolate sauce:

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These little cinnamon sugar donuts were so fun! The dipping sauces were genius (salted caramel, helLO) … so good that I finished them off straight from the spoon after the donuts were gone.

That would be enough to qualify as a sufficiently mind-blowing meal, right? Except that this case of miniature (think thumbnail-sized) pastries arrived with our bill … all for us!

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The case actually had three layers that pulled out like drawers. We all wanted to take it home!

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I requested a knife again so that I could do the Olympic honors and slice everything into thirds. The goodies (the specialty of the in-house pastry chef) did not come with labels, but my guess is that the little squares were almond cakes with buttercream icing, the yellow circles were sandwich cookies with maracuya cream, the triangles were lemon tarts, and the chocolates were filled with dark chocolate hazelnut cream. For drool purposes:

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So … I guess you could say that I loved this restaurant. I recommend it 100 million percent with no reservations. It is pretty pricey, but if I had the money, I would pay full price to eat here — it was that good. Thanks to Kate’s incredible birthday deal, the entire meal (including tax) came to just $59 for all three of us. We definitely walked out of that restaurant feeling quite pleased with ourselves (and perfectly satisfied with our perfect food amounts). As Kate said, “It’s been a good food week for us!”

So, if you’re in New York and you can afford it, you have to eat here, or at least sign up for Dine Out New York so you can get in on the 50/50 action, too!

What’s the best dining deal you have encountered?

P.S. I am entering Danielle’s Vacation Giveaway, and you should, too. She’s got some cute and tasty treats up for grabs that I can use to pretend I actually went somewhere fun and beachy this summer 😀

Too much

Ohhhh my goodness, the food at the party last night was completely expansion-worthy! (The party was fun, too.) Here’s the birthday girl, Olivia, modeling one of her creations:

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Olivia made everything herself, using her own recipes! And it was phenomenal.

This pizza was the star of the evening:

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It had ricotta, honeyed goat cheese, caramelized onions, and truffle oil. I lost count after a while, but I might have had 12 (or more) pieces.

Olivia also made baby pulled pork sandwiches:

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I had one sandwich … and then kept picking more pork off the tray every time I walked by and saw that a piece had fallen off of its bread.

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She also made ridiculous macaroni and cheese and an amazing baked french onion cream cheese dip. Here’s my first of many bowls:

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I also had a couple of these savory elephant ears:

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They were herby and also had some delicious crispy meat — maybe proscuitto? — inside.

Here’s another bowl. Was it the second? Was it the seventh? No one knows.

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On top of all of this, Olivia made cupcakes! Super chocolatey and moist with mascarpone-kahlua frosting.

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I had one full cupcake, but by the end of the night, things had devolved to the point where I was dipping pretzels into the icing on others. My camera had been relegated to the purse by then.

Some other things I encountered included a piece of Entenmann’s chocolate-covered donut:

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And 1.5 of Kate’s perfectly chewy secret-recipe chocolate chip cookies:

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And an, errrr, unpictured cup or so of skittles that went down wayyyyyy too easily.

The party itself was a blast, and I wish I had remembered to take some pictures of the apartment because it was gorgeous and had way more space than I’m used to seeing in NYC. I also got to catch up with some old NYU friends (hi Jenniy!) that I hadn’t seen in ages. Thanks, Olivia!

I slept till 10 this morning (apparently, the trick to being able to sleep in is to go to bed at 3 am) and then went right to the gym because I had so much energy from all that extra food last night! I did 30 minutes steps, legs on the machines, and 30 minutes elliptical. The whole thing took about an hour and 45 minutes and I burned just under 800 calories, but honestly, I’m looking forward to when the half marathon is over and behind me and I can put an end to this cardio-loading (and the inadvertent yet not unrelated carb-loading). It’s taking a toll! With that in mind, I also spent some time this morning perusing YogaDork (an amazingly witty, sarcastic, and informative yoga blog, even for someone like me who has a somtimeslike-hate relationship with yoga) because I need to find more body-friendly ways to exercise!

What is too much for you right now?