Izzy Eats: The art of raising a gourmand, one bite at a time

Stirring tales of eating, cooking and foraging in my never-ending quest to provide, great-tasting (local and organic whenever possible) EATS for me and my boy(s).

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"Please Don't Pass That Gas" (pipeline through Jersey City): Izzy attends a protest

"Please don't pass that gas (pipeline)"
The Spectra financed natural gas pipeline which is slated to run underneath downtown Jersey City, is a source of great concern and outrage for the city's residents.  Today was our chance to speak out against its construction, which would surely do more harm than good, bringing toxins and danger to a densely populated area.  The public hearing was scheduled for this evening and since it wasn't too late I decided it would be a good introduction for Izzy, into the world of protests.  Although this wasn't the first protest he has attended it will undoubtedly be the first he will remember. 

Izzy and his pal Y., waved their signs dutifully and then sat patiently while many of our city's leading politicians spoke out against the pipeline's construction through our city.  Many of the speeches were engaging and well-done.  But of course the most memorable speaker, from the kids' viewpoint, was the woman who incorporated the phrase "Please don't pass that gas (pipeline)" throughout her speech.

The majority of the attendees were anti-pipeline protesters but there was a small but vocal bunch of pro-pipeline union workers sprinkled amongst the audience.   The kids managed to sit through over an hour of the hearing but they began to get sleepy so we had to leave before it ended.

When the final decision regarding the pipeline is made in 2012, let us hope that our voices were heard.  May our children learn the importance of speaking up for what they believe in.

Click here for the latest news on the event...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurricane Preparedness, Shopping for Irene and An Agonizing Decision

Most of our summer has been spent elsewhere, Europe or the shore.  As a consequence, our pantry and cupboards are shockingly bare.  Of late, I have been making daily shopping trips and haven't replenished any dry food goods and other staples.   With all of the panic and hoopla surrounding the impending arrival of Hurricane Irene, I decided to make an emergency trip to Shoprite, a place I have managed to avoid for the better part of the past year.

I went there with the intent of picking up water, batteries, cleaning supplies and some canned goods.  I assumed others there would be doing the same.  What I found however, were shelves empty of gallon water jugs and shoppers piling their carts with all manner of junk food.  An acquaintance, whose cart contained the spray cheese of my youth (oh so delectable on a Ritz cracker during those summer camp days of yore), and all sorts of other goods out of my realm, tried to persuade me to throw out my foodie/organic convictions and just stock up.  After all, this was about survival.  I explained that I didn't just want to buy food that I wouldn't eventually use.  Her rationale (and a good one at that), was that if we didn't end up using the food, we could just donate it.   Yet I looked around and saw the carts stuffed with all manner of processed foods and couldn't exactly follow suit.  In my own fashion, I did shop with abandon, as I purchased some things that would not ordinarily find their way into my cart.

With Izzy at my side, we carted home the following: 13 bottles of fizzy water, a lone bottle of Fiji water,  hearts of palm, water chestnuts, olives, chickpeas, cannellini beans, olive oil, canned pink salmon, coconut water, organic granola, blueberry pomegranate juice, organic rice milk, coconut milk and whatever else you seen in the picture.  I marveled at the spread and how it differed from what I saw in the carts of my neighbors.  I knew that come what may, would we still manage to eat healthfully.

Not only did we shop for groceries, we also managed to snag the last light stick at Sears, get a bag of ice from the bodega and stop at the bank.  Yet my efforts were for naught.  I have been tracking the storm and reading the dire predictions, wondering if we needed to evacuate or not.   This morning, A. insisted that Izzy and I leave Jersey City.  

After much agonizing, I have left my stocked pantry and made the decision to leave my kitties and house behind.    A. has remained home, guarding the house and the kitties.  We chose to go stay with my brother since Flemington is merely a tropical storm zone instead of a category 1 hurricane site.   Though the rain is falling steadily around us, inside my brother's kitchen feels like a pretty safe place to be.

May everyone left on 8th Street and elsewhere stay safe and dry.  My thoughts are with all of you.

p.s. Thank J. for sharing your bedroom with us!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Paris - Eating In

For me a trip to Paris usually means a scramble to eat as many fabulous meals as I can.  This time was slightly different, given my many and various food limitations, which is one reason I chose to stay in an apartment, allowing me the ability to prepare meals at home -which we did for all breakfasts, most lunches and some dinners.  Going to the French market is always fun for me and Izzy got a kick out of helping me select the ingredients for our meals..from gorgeously sweet grape tomatoes to sparkling red currants.

Arugula Salad with Tomatoes and Chickpeas/Green Beans Vinagrette

As you can see, I didn't really do any heavy duty cooking but more of an assemblage - salads, pate, bread and fruit - and one pasta dinner.

Red Currants Snack

Arugula, Cherry Tomatoes,Cucumbers and Tinned Fish

Steamed Artichoke, Rabbit Pate, Duck Rillettes, Beet Salad

Our new Italian friends wondered where we would eat better, in Italy or in France.  They were certain the food is better in Italy.  What do you suppose they will say now?

Monday, July 25, 2011

From Praiano to Paris - weather or not...

A rare moment on a carousel in the Marais (note the winter hat)

After our eleven day Italian idyll, we left the brilliant warm sunshine and spectacular scenery of Praiano for my heretofore favorite city, Paris.  I toyed with the idea of remaining in Praiano and canceling the trip to Paris but it was impossible.  Our apartment was already paid for and we couldn't change our flights. Besides, we had to go to Paris to get our train to London.  So to Paris we went and there we were met with an autumnal chill and days of rain. Izzy wondered aloud as to why it had been "summer in Italy and it was now winter in Paris". I wondered the same.

I didn't expect much from Paris, simply some days of meandering, a few good meals, a bit of  frolicking in Place des Vosges,  Jardins du Luxembourg and Les Tuileries and perhaps a visit to a small museum or two.  I also wanted to shop, for Izzy, myself and my friends.  Hardly got to do any of those things as the weather foiled most of our plans, except for eating and shopping, of which we did far too much.

Whenever we stepped outside, the sky would darken and the drops would begin falling.   I had no choice but to duck into the nearest shop.  We spent an inordinate amount of time in bookstores, clothing shops and whatever else crossed our paths.  Izzy began to amass a collection of Tintin books, which entertained him during my forays into clothing shops and shoe stores.
Tintin au restaurant
And so we spent our days in Paris, scurrying in and out of shops, escaping the rain, enjoying occasional bouts of sunshine and a few other activities...

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Room With A View (and then some) - Our apartment in Paris

Whenever I visit Paris, I try to stay either in, or near the Marais ( 4th arrondisement), where I lived many years ago.   It was, and still is, my very favorite place to be.  This time I selected a little apartment on the Rue des Tournelles, just a few doors down from where I lived way back then.  Among other essential features like free Wifi, the apartment offered a classic Parisian street side view.  And as Izzy later discovered, a bit more...

We were playing scrabble in the living room the other evening, when out of the blue,  Izzy looked up at me, with quite a grin on his face and asked, "Why is the lady across the street cleaning her apartment completely naked?"

Why indeed!  It wasn't even particularly hot out (in fact, au contraire) yet there she was, with her backside to us, washing her dishes.  Together we giggled over this and Izzy suggested I photograph her for the blog (not a good idea, I explained).  He continued to glance over at her and we watched as she turned toward us to sweep the floor. Eventually she realized she was being watched and disappeared into another room, only to return in her pajamas.  

Of course I was then left to explain why she might have been cleaning in the nude.  I could have chalked it up to a, "Only in Paris" occurrence.  However I had to confess that on sweltering days in New York City, long before he was born, when I lived on the 9th floor and the shades were drawn, I had been known to do some cleaning, similarly clad.  And so I told him that it was likely she was most comfortable that way and probably didn't realize that all eyes were upon her.

He hoped to catch another glimpse tonight but clearly, she was on to him and didn't make an appearance.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Leaving Praiano - was it meant to be?

Ancient tower - Praiano

Neither one of us wished to leave Praiano but sadly it was too late to change our plans.  We were resigned to leave as planned, far too early on Sunday morning - by taxi at 6 a.m. to catch a 9:20 flight from Naples.

Getting up at 5 wasn't as bad as I thought and Izzy awakened easily.   It was getting the hotel staff up to help assist with dragging our luggage up the stairs that proved challenging.  In fact, when I told them of our early departure, they seemed quite surprised that anyone would consider leaving so early. They made our early departure seem unheard of and were unsure as to how I would manage.  One suggestion was that they carry my baggage up the steps in the late evening, leaving it near a locked gate (no thanks).  I was baffled as to their response and as I was recounting this tale to some other hotel guests, a kind fellow from Australia offered to wake up and carry our bags for me.  He said he was going kayaking and needed a wake-up call anyway.  Ah the kindness of strangers.  With that settled, Izzy and I went off to our room.  On our way, N., one of the hotel family, stopped me to let me know that HE would be getting up to help with our bags.  I was skeptical but he insisted...so I canceled with the Australian and we went off to bed.

The morning of our departure, Izzy and I put all of our bags outside of our room, walked up to the reception area (locked) and peeked around for someone to help us.  Nobody was there but I figured N. would arrive shortly.  Meanwhile we walked up all of steps in search of the car service - not there either. We walked back down and still nobody had arrived to help.  I sent Izzy up and down a couple of more times in search of the car service  and still nothing.  At that point I began to fear we would miss our plane.  I also began to see the error in taking an early flight from Italy.  I had no signal on my phone so I couldn't contact the car service and there was no sign of N. to help with our luggage.  Little by little, Izzy and I inched our luggage up a few stairs at a time, until we got it to the reception area (not even halfway, mind you).  Our car was scheduled for 6 a.m. and it was 6:15.  All remained quiet as Izzy and I pricked our ears at the sound of each passing car.  Finally we heard a door slam.  We ran up the steps to meet Giovanni, our driver.  He apologized for his tardiness and came down to carry our luggage (phew).  We piled into the car and we were off.

Turns out my worries of lateness were unfounded.  The car service had booked us at 6 but it didn't take us very long to get to the airport, even with a stop along the way for Izzy.  It seems the early wake-up and winding roads = car-sickness for poor Izzy.  Our driver was most sympathetic and helpful with the clean-up, which more than compensated for his tardiness.  Not only that but he is an excellent driver, taking extra care along the narrow coastal roads.

In the end, we arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare and boarded our flight - destination Parigi-  on time.  As we settled into our seats, I finally began to relax and the fact that we were really leaving this magical locale began to sink in.  As the plane took flight I stared out at the shining blue sea and wished we had remained as we were earlier, stuck in Praiano, baggage and all.

Arrivederci Italia.

p.s. When we arrived in Paris, I received a very apologetic email from N., from our hotel in  Praiano who had set his alarm to help us with the baggage but never heard it sound - apologies accepted; we love you anyway!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

When Life Gives You Lemons - Loll: Of our days in Praiano, Italy - Lemon Groves and Locanda Costa Diva

Night falls on the lemon grove
We arrived in Praiano a week ago and here we have stayed, nestled amongst lemon groves in our most adorable hotel,  La Locanda Costa Diva.  It is in fact, a restored farmhouse and the rooms seem to be built around the lemon, olive and other fruit trees which grace this cliffside retreat; the entire property boasting spectacular views of the sea and other local scenery.

Praiano is a small, quiet village along the Amalfi Coast - an easy distance (along narrow, harrowing roads) from its more boisterous neighbors, Positano and Amalfi.  At first I wasn’t sure how Izzy and I would fare here, as there is little more to do than go to the beach and figure out our next meal.

For our first 4 days we befriended a traveling mother and her teenaged daughter from Calgary, also at the hotel.  It was nice to exchange tales of our daily adventures with them, breakfast time or dinner each day.  Once they left I wondered if we would find some other travelers to entertain us, as many of the other rooms here are occupied by honeymooner types. In fact one evening, we heard some loudish music emanating from a room below ours and Izzy went to peek out over the balcony only to discover a couple in their private jacuzzi (not as private as they thought!).

We settled into a routine and each day we have come to appreciate our surroundings all the more.  Each morning, we sleep until 8 (or Izzy later if I don’t awaken him accidentally).  We make our way to breakfast at around 9 where a copious spread awaits us in the dining room.  There is plenty to fuel us for the day - yogurt, blood orange juice, croissants, rolls with jam and butter, fresh fruit cocktail, assorted farm fruits - plums, cherries, etc, cereals, cappuccino, tea and specially for me, rice milk.
After gorging on these delights we usually spend some time in dining room while I use the WiFi hotspot - as there is no free internet in the rooms (something that distressed me at first but is probably for the best as I am forced to limit my time at the computer).

After breakfast we usually meander back to our room and either take a bus on an excursion or go to the beach.  Each day there is some small discovery to be made.  Often, Izzy wanders along the paths created in and amongst the lemon groves, and takes great pleasure in snitching lemons (which we use in our endless bottles of fizzy water) and other fruits.

Lizards flit along the paths, surprising us at every turn and the hotel dog, “Billy” is our constant companion whenever we approach the dining room.  I think he must appreciate our truffle scent  (I packed truffle salt in our luggage as gifts and all of our clothing carries the aroma).

"Billy" rolls over for a scratch

The more we learn of this charming locale, the more we have come to love it. We have gotten to know our surroundings and the super-friendly and accomodating staff and we will certainly be sorry to leave here on Sunday.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Travel Indecisions/Decisions: Where do we go from here?

 It has been four years since Izzy and I made our first journey to Europe.  Far too much time has passed since that trip and we have longed to take another one.  This year, in celebration of my one year cancerversary (Yes! June marked one year since I finished cancer treatment) I decided we would go on a long voyage.  Where we would go?  I wasn't exactly sure but I knew we would go to Europe.

At home I planned the first and last weeks of our trip.  We would start out in Germany where we would visit with Aunt B. and Uncle Rabbit in Altotting. This would be relaxing, or so I had hoped. At the end of our trip we would visit with our old Jersey City friends, Helen, I. et al. in London.  We would be gone for five weeks total.

With the first week and the last week of our trip  planned, we left Jersey City.  I spent that first week in a state of agitation as I tried to resolve the question of where we would actually go.  As I had packed far too much luggage, we were somewhat limited to places that would not involve too many train/plane transfers and other maneuvers that would involve carrying the luggage.  I had initially imagined a stay in just one place - renting a house or an apartment and exploring one town for a month. I mulled over places like Provence (been there), Apulia (saw great article in the NY Times about it) and Sicily (intriguing), Ischia (worried about getting around) a farmstay in the Sora (sounds wonderful) and Praiano - a small coastal town between Amalfi and Positano which seemed to have the most appeal.   I tried to book the farmstay as well as a week in Praiano.  At first this appeared to be the perfect plan but I began to worry about the luggage situation and felt that the traveling between place to place would be less relaxing than what I had intended.  In the end I  booked a ticket from Munich to Naples and we took a car service to Praiano where we would stay for 11 days.

Our flight to Naples was uneventful.  We found our luggage and our driver from Italy Limousine,  met us and whisked us off to Praiano.  He was an expert and I never once felt uncomfortable as we wound our way around the narrow main road of the Amalfi Coast.  The scenic drive was merely an introduction to the beauty of this area, where houses are built into the rocks of the cliffs. We arrived at our hotel, La Locanda Costa Diva, at about 8:30 p.m... We set our bags down and looked around.  I was relieved to find that I had selected a most beautiful and peaceful locale.  Perhaps I would finally be able to relax...

We have now be at La Locanda Costa Diva since July 7th.  This small coastal village is a quiet respite from life as we know it... to be continued...

Friday, July 8, 2011

Antics in Altotting: of biking, hiking and picking, or living the country life June 28-July 6 2011

For the 8 years since Aunt B moved to live with her Rabbit in Germany, I had a certain image of where it was she lived.  My mind’s eye envisioned a small, stand-alone house quite like the one she lives in, though hers is attached.  Here it is, on our final day.

Little House On the Stinglhammer
The house has three floors.  On the first floor is a living room and kitchen, bathroom and backdoor which leads out to a lovely backyard.  The second floor houses a sitting room/office and the master bedroom and top floor contains the guest quarters.

During our stay Izzy and I shared the upstairs quarters.  Attic bedroom with street view, small bathroom and a room in which to leave our luggage.  The light (sometimes sun) shone brightly into our room each morning, awakening me earlier than I would have liked.  Though somehow not interrupting Izzy as he slept on.

Each morning Aunt B. prepared our breakfast - for Izzy, a bowl of fruit and yogurt, for me a bowl of fruit and tea.  On nice days we could have our breakfast in the backyard - gazing out at the large sunflower patches, mint and other assorted flowers which decorated the grasses. Chickens occasionally clucked by, stopped for some crusts of bread

Each day was a lazy one, in which we wouldn’t usually get out of the house until 11.  Should we go to market? Go out to lunch or have an adventure? Before any of that, we stopped at the local bakery to select our daily pretzel snack.  Sesame, poppy, salted or pumpkin seed?  Izzy and I favored the sesame seed ones which came pretzel-shaped or round, which I daresay are true kin to the bagel.

After our snack we chose an adventure.  Our first outing was a visit to the local Wednesday market in Neutotting.  There we bought some fixings for lunch etc. - head cheese, bread and other tidbits. That afternoon Brooke and Isadore went for a walk in the woods in search of frogs. 

Next day was bike riding in the fields and woods. We met some cats along the way.

Izzy and his new cat friend

One day we visited Burghausen - to see the castle

A highlight of our trip was blueberry picking at a nearby field where rows and rows of plump, juicy berries were ripe for picking.  Izzy, Brooke, Peter and I managed to collect about 10 lbs. of berries on our first outing.  Half were given away and we managed to eat 5 lbs. in 2 days.   They were a steady part of our diet and we liked them so much that we went back a second time to collect more so that we had extra to take with us on our trip to Italy.

Blueberry fields forever
Last but not least,  was our hike in the Bavarian Alps, worthy of a post all its own.

 So much more to say but have to get to the next part of our trip. Thank you Aunt B. and Uncle Rabbit for a most unforgettable visit.  See you next year :)!


Thursday, July 7, 2011

July 4th BBQ Celebration: Altotting

Uncle Rabbit grilled pork filet.  Izzy assisted.  He especially enjoyed fanning the fire.

There were roasted potatoes and salad too.

I contributed my version of German bruschetta - stale bread, sliced, grilled, rubbed with garlic and topped with chopped salami, basil and olive oil.

For dessert - Toasted Marshmallows!

The evening ended with sparklers - in the light, and later on when it got dark.

Happy Belated July 4th!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Splendid Eats In and Near Altotting: Birni's and Ming's

It has been nearly a week since we arrived in Altotting, a small village in South East Germany, best known for religious pilgrimages.  I have heard tell that the pious travel from far and wide, coming here to be magically cured - evidence of crutches left behind adorn the chapel where people pray, not far from a fountain purported to have healing powers.  I couldn't resist a dip but unfortunately have to say I haven't been magic as "the rash" persists (will come to that some other time).  In the meanwhile,  I have encountered some fine things to eat (other than Miss B's cooking), namely two restaurants, Birni's and Ming's Lounge.

Birni's, which is not actually Altotting but is instead in Neutotting (about 5 minutes away by car) is certainly a destination restaurant - worthy of far longer than a five minute ride to be sure).  They offer locally inspired and updated German cuisine - think airy foams rather than heavy sauces - in a lovely, light-filled setting, where wood, candles and flowers abound.  This is delightful experience not to be missed if you are within an hour or so.  Friendly staff only add to the perfect evening. 

Salad with crispy mushrooms from Birni's
Ming's is a more casual option but equally noteworthy.  This hip, Thai restaurant offers a nicely rounded menu of expertly sauced Thai dishes.  I thoroughly enjoyed my crisp duck with coconut curry and the other dishes looked equally tantalizing. Here too, service was warm and friendly.

Crispy Duck in Coconut Curry

Rest assured, that the next time you visit Altotting, you will be able to find something really good to eat.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Jet lag lazy: First days in Altotting

My friend H. had counseled me to fly to Europe on a daytime flight, something that in all my days of traveling I had never done or even considered before.  We took a 9:00 a.m. flight and arrived at our final destination at 9 p.m.  There was no place to get dinner so we had to order room service which turned out to be pricey and mediocre.  During past travels, I always enjoyed arriving in Europe for breakfast, where I could have a fresh croissant or baguette to begin a lazy, tired day.  This was indeed different though I am still uncertain as to whether it was better.

The rationale for taking the daytime flight was that Izzy's jet lag would be less problematic.  I am not sure which I prefer as he now enjoys staying up until midnight and sleeping until 10:30.  I, meanwhile can't seem to sleep past 6 a.m. and then become exhausted throughout the day.

Since we are staying with Aunt Brooke and Uncle Rabbit I have had the luxury of just lolling about.  I have been mulling over the possibilities for our upcoming travels whilst at times, Brooke entertains Izzy.  They have visited a nearby creek in search of frogs and together we have gone bike riding.  We biked near farms, passing some chickens and barn cats along the way.  Then through a forest where Izzy and I were eaten up itchy by some tiny black insects.  On our way out of the forest we stopped at a "Pick your own flowers" farm where Izzy insisted on buying one daisy with some euro change he had in his pocket.

We have also been eating in style, thanks to Miss Brooke who has been cooking up a storm while I sit idly by.  She showcases local produce, fish and meats.  Dinner our second night...

Moroccan Vegetable Stew, Couscous and Turkey Breast

Dinner our third night...
Trout with Riesling and Shredded Carrots
Tomato and Green Bean Salad
Oh and I forgot to mention our first meal in Altotting... We went to dinner at a local Beer Garden within a forest...quite a Bavarian meal.  A very porky experience to say the least!  Tomorrow's agenda is too include a visit to long Bavarian castle...stay-tuned.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wake me up before my blog goes...(New adventures on the horizon)

This blog has remained dormant for too long.

Why? You ask.  I can't say for sure.

I have begun many a blog post, only to leave it dangling, unfinished.  Good Eggs have been eaten.  Praying Mantises have hatched.  Each moment has a story.  Thoughts come and then they go.  New ones arise and I leave them too. And I do regret not telling many a tale.  For several months, the urge to tell tales has fizzled. Perhaps I have need to be quiet.

I started this blog in part as a way of chronicling Izzy's childhood through the perspective of food;  which I have tried to maintain throughout.  My other goal was to share how I turned the idea of raising a child who is willing to eat most things, and revel in it,  into a reality.

My eight year old Izzy, yes indeed he is now EIGHT, is a very fine eater.  He regularly orders escargot at our favorite local French restaurant, enjoys making and drinking fresh carrot juice and considers Swiss Chard to be one of his favorite vegetables.  I still love the idea of sharing tales of Izzy and his eating adventures yet I also wish to share more.

The good news is that right now I couldn't ask for more inspiration as Izzy and I have embarked upon a month-long adventure in Europe. We arrived in London on Monday, June 27th for an overnight stay at an airport hotel (something I have never done before and hope not to do again) and then a flight to Munich.  We are now relaxing in the small Bavarian town of Altotting, where we are staying with my most gracious friend Brooke and her husband, Peter Rabbit.

In the meanwhile, as I seek more blog inspiration, I wonder if I need to begin a new blog, one which will encompass more than just Izzy and our adventures.  I hope to share more than just food tales as I make new discoveries of all kinds.

And so dear readers - if there are any of you left.. I turn to you for new blog name suggestions -the sooner the better, as I do plan to keep you abreast of our latest adventures and beyond.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Matzoh For Maira....A Passover Story

Passover is my favorite Jewish holiday and even last year, in the throes of illness, I somehow managed to host a pseudo-seder.  I can't even remember most of what I served but I somehow remember that David Lebovitz's chicken figured into the menu.  In any case, this year, now that I am feeling mostly well, I felt inclined to host not only one seder but two. I had my work cut out.

 I tried to be organized about it and began my cooking on Friday, with the stock for my gefilte fish.  On Saturday I prepared the gefilte fish, horseradish and soup.  By Sunday I knew, tedium would be settling in.  At least that day would be dessert.  Chocolate-Chunk Macaroons and Chocolate-Caramel Matzoh - for no Passover would be complete without it.

At some point over the weekend, my "goyisha"(thank grandma for that term) friend Tracy posted on Facebook, seeking a good Passover dessert to bring to a Seder.  I told her of my cooking agenda and invited her to join me for a Chocolate-Caramel Matzoh tutorial.  And so it was that she appeared at my house early Sunday morning.  During our kitchen chit-chat,as preparations were underway, it somehow emerged that Tracy would be Sedering with none other than Maira Kalman.

Some people girls have all the luck, don't they?!... Still and all, even though I couldn't Seder with Maira myself,  I was especially tickled by this news.   I so fondly recall my days teaching English at the Lycee and introducing her books to my students.   I read "Ooh La-La Max in Love" so many times I  practically knew it by heart...And if you love whimsical books or Paris or both, please read it too, along with the rest of her wonderful works.

But wait, back to my Chocolate-covered Matzoh. Knowing that Maira would be sampling it made the preparation that much more fun.  Tracy and I each prepared a batch of it and had a grand old time doing so.  Having a friend in the kitchen was a treat after several days of solo cooking.  And so I mentioned that I would be preparing Chocolate-Chunk Macaroons that evening...figuring that Tracy could be two treats to Maira's Seder and I would have a partner in more cooking!

By the time evening came, I had just about had enough of cooking.  When Tracy called to ask if I would be up for baking the macaroons, I was just about ready to take to my bed.  Instead I told her to stop by and see if she couldn't just perk me up enough to get it done.  When she got here, I had already gone up to bed but tried to muster a second wind.  And lo and behold, we whipped up two batches of macaroons in record time.

My cooking student was so pleased with the results of her first Chocolate Matzoh experience that she went on to prepare THREE more batches of the stuff to bring to Maira's Seder. Behold the spectacular results...

I couldn't have asked for a better student AND apparently her efforts were much appreciated and mine were rewarded.  The first night of Passover, Tracy  sent along this lovely photo of Maira and the matzoh.  What more could I ask for!!

Happy Passover to all...

p.s. I recommend Guittard chocolate morsels, the ones in the pink bag if you can find them!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Rue Viet: Haven't been there yet?!

I have never actually set foot inside Rue Viet but I can't resist welcoming this newcomer to the Jersey City restaurant scene, and that is based upon my take-out experience alone.   

My crush with Rue Viet began with the arrival of a courteous, prompt delivery person, who arrived 20 minutes from when I placed my order and actually seemed grateful for his tip.  I know one shouldn't judge a book by its cover but when I opened the biodegradable bags and found these lovely brown and white cardboard boxes, thoughtfully labeled inside, I was smitten.   Finally, a take-out restaurant in Jersey City with environmentally-friendly packaging, it almost didn't matter how the food tasted...Could it possibly live up to its packaging?

 Indeed it can and did.  The seafood spring rolls arrived crisp and flavorful.  Curried noodles with chicken were well-spiced and plentiful. Mushroom buns were tender. Tofu Banh Mi was packed with carrots, daikon and tofu, which would make an ample lunch (too much for me).   The only oddity was the "Pad Thai" noodles with coconut-braised pork.  This homey dish was chock full of tender pork chunks but the only thing "Pad Thai" about it was the noodles.  Call it something else and it would be fine with a drizzle of hot sauce. 

With more cold winter days ahead, Izzy and I look forward to more takeout from Rue Viet.  Maybe it will even inspire us to crawl out from hibernation and walk on over to the restaurant. I hear the brunch is good.