Can’t stop yerdling (hand-me-down love)

Since I’m no longer fixated on diaper rash and baby sleep,Ā  I’ve had to find a new obsession. Enter Yerdle.


I am completely addicted to Yerdle and probably need an intervention. Continue reading!

Freeee (for 10 days)

We all know I love free things! Now that my last class is over and I’m flying up 95 NĀ  on the Peter Pan, I feel freer than ever šŸ™‚

In class, we did in fact have a little celebration. My professor is retiring, as of today, so she brought in coffee and lots of bagel-y goodness. Here’s napkin #1 with a “mini” everything bagel spread with whipped butter and two Italian cookies, including a slice of rainbow cookie perfection, in the background:



If you look very very closely in the background, you can see the bottom of the cup that holds my contribution to the event: Golden Star Sparkling White Jasmine Tea. I’ve zoomed in a bit in the picture on the right. I first sampled this tea at Whole Foods and got super excited about it. I don’t like champagne or wine, and I always feel like I should be at the kids’ table when I ask for sparkling cider at events. Sparkling tea has a much classier ring to it (not to mention that I love jasmine tea anyway). This tea is mostly non-alcholic (something like 0.5%), but it definitely has a more grown-up taste to it because it still goes through a fermentation process. And my class worked through the bottle I brought to share quite rapidly!


Napkin #2 had another half of an everything bagel with “1/3 less fat” cream cheese, plus some more Italian cookie crumbs.


And finally, napkin #3 had just a couple more cookies!


A few more cookies may or may not have found their way into my mouth after that, too. Whenever I see a platter of pretty colorful cookies (or pretty colorful anything, for that matter), I absolutely have to one of each. And fast — before they disappear! It’s a problem.

Anyway, like I said, I’m blogging from the bus and expect to make it to Providence just in time to join my mom and stepdad for a PawSox game! Can’t think of a better way to kick off the summer šŸ™‚

Does the “prettiness” of foods, especially of desserts, affect your interest in eating them?

Restaurant Review: La Fonda del Sol

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


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!


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!


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


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 šŸ˜€ 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:


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


Empanadas filled with chicken and chorizo:


Piquillo peppers stuffed with Spanish rice and rabbit:


Tuna tacos with avocado and jalapeno pickled onion:


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

“Albondiguillas” meat balls skewers with tomato and pimenton:


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


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:


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 šŸ˜›

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


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:


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!):


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


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!


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


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:



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 šŸ˜€

Pretend wealth

Last night was the last night of April. Do you know what that means?? The last night of Brooklyn Restaurant Week Month! Gina, Kate, Kareen, and I obviously had to take advantage. I love restaurant weeks because they let me pretend I can afford to live in this city. We chose Quercy, a French restaurant in Carroll Gardens. The decor was right up my alley, and I fell in love as soon as we walked in.


The mismatched chairs were my favorite part.

Unfortunately, despite the empty room and open, airy space, we were seated in a cramped corner between the bar and the kitchen, almost completely cut off from the giant window in front. Weird. Did not make for good picture lighting, as you’ll see. I could have asked to move, but I didn’t have the energy.


img_9013Unlike our previous restaurant week selection that offered the entire menu, Quercy presented a special “limited” menu for our discount dining. Despite the smaller menu, however, the options available did not disappoint.

While we perused the menu, our server brought out sourdough bread (!!!) and butter. I had five teeny tiny pieces (including the end — the best part!) with butter. The five pieces together probably amounted to about one normal restaurant-sized hunk.



img_9020We had very little selection variety in our dinner choices last night, which suited me quite well because it meant that I had fewer pictures to take šŸ™‚

Gina and I both ordered the French feta salad which came with huge chunks of feta (obviously), lettuce, cucumber, and olives. I had my French vinaigrette on the side and used about half.


Kate and Kareen ordered the goat cheese in puff pastry which involved a luscious (because it really was) disk of goat cheese sandwiched between the pastry layers, all atop a bed of greens.


For the main course, Kareen and I ordered the couscous chicken merquez (I had been debating between that and the salmon), a Moroccan dish that involved a mountain (literally) of couscous with a few raisins in the mix, chicken pieces (maybe a full quarter), and lamb sausage:


But that was not it! On the side, came an enormous tureen of vegetable stew with carrots, zucchini, yellow squash, parsnips, chickpeas, and more!


I knew I had to make the cut immediately before I accidentally ate 12 meals in one sitting. Luckily, there were many dishes involved in the serving strategy, so I was able to shift about 2/3 of the couscous and half of the meat onto a separate plate to remove it from my line of eating. Here’s the portion I ate, all mixed together.


Although couscous chicken merguez will not be entering a beauty pageant any time soon, the flavors were delicious and spicy and unique. I was a fan (and still am, considering how I’ll be eating it for the next week!).

Kate and Gina both ordered the salmon with roasted bell pepper sauce. The presentation of this dish was much more visually appealing with all the colors.


I had a bite of Gina’s salmon. Tasty as it was, it wasn’t anything I hadn’t experienced before. I made the right choice!

I had tons of leftovers, obviously, but so did Kareen, who generously offered to send hers home with me, too. And Gina had a three-bite-piece of salmon left that she couldn’t possibly fit into her stomach, so we added that to my stash as well. Thanks, ladies! Kate joined the clean plate club last night. I’m very proud šŸ™‚

The server probably thought I was crazy (rightfully so), taking home everyone else’s leftovers, but I explained that I was a penniless grad student. The highlight of the night was when I peeked into my massive to-go bag on the way out and found half a loaf of sourdough bread in there, too! I thanked the server, and she told me that it would have gone to waste anyway and she appreciated that I wanted to use everything. That alone is enough to make me want to go back!

At that (stuffed) point, we remembered (or were reminded by the server) that we had yet to eat the dessert that came with our meal! Kate, Kareen, and I all went for the apple tart tatin, another beauty pageant reject:


It was ok, and I ate the whole thing of course, but I have to say that I have tasted better. In fact, I’ve baked better before! My French pastry skills, which are nil, should not exceed those of a French restaurant.

Gina, the rebel, went against the grain (although no one was surprised. in college, Gina’s nickname was the divine priestess of chocolate. mine was the divine priestess of fertility, ha. can you guess why?) and ordered herself the gateau au chocolat, which was a different story all together. I couldn’t stop taking pictures.


That chocolate sauce was like fudge, it was sooooo thick.


I don’t know how Gina managed to eat this whole thing (well, maybe I do), but manage she did! I did my fork Olympics on the plate at the end to make sure that every grain of perfection served its purpose.

Overall, the restaurant was a mixed bag, but more good than blah — Quercy came through where it counted. I would eat there again but only with my wealthy benefactor because I would want to choose something from the real menu!

Where is the first place you would go with your wealthy benefactor?

Sample satisfaction

On my way home last night, I stopped into a couple of grocery stores for about $11 worth of important items — milk and yogurt for making yogurt, part-skim ricotta (because it was on sale), and broccoli (because I needed greens!). I also collected a few samples along the way to incorporate into dinner:


The plate includes a big ol’ pile of plain steamed broccoli, the rest of Myrna’s McDonald’s breakfast sandwich that she gave me yesterday when she got too full, and two little quiche samples — one sweet ham and one spinach — from Union Market.


I don’t think I’ve had a McDonald’s breakfast sandwich since I was 7. My dad and I used to go on weekend mornings because I was a crazy picky eater (what happened??!) but I loved those biscuits more than anything. I would get mine with only an egg on it because I didn’t like sausage or melted cheese. I’m still not crazy about sausage, but, even though it’s not something I ever crave, this sandwich was definitely tasty! The biscuit was as good as I remembered.


Dessert developed as I was getting the yogurt ready to go into the oven for overnight incubation. I’d picked up my two favorite brands to use as starters — Stonyfield and Ronnybrook — in fun flavors so I could play with the leftovers.


I reserved the plain yogurt parts for yogurt making but kept the flavored fun parts (cream top, coconut pieces, chocolate-on-the-bottom) for me:


I swirled in a bit of part-skim ricotta to make coconut-chocolate cheesecake yogurt and then dipped in a little sample sliver of peanut butter brownie from Union Market:


I surrounded my brownie cheesecake bowl with fruit salad and a sample piece of cherry lattice pie, also from the market:



Samples are so exciting!

For dessert #2 later, I had my leftover almond sunset tea from morning with two jasmine biscotti bites for dipping:


What’s the best free sample, food or non-food, you ever got?