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The theme of “get busy living” has echoed in my ears for some time now. As a cancer survivor and an active volunteer, I know the theme has become a bit of a mantra for the Stupid Cancer community. Get a whole punch of passionate, motivated and courageous people who have already stared cancer in the eye together and give them a challenge. Puhleeze. We know who is winning this one.

I like to think I embody “get busy living” all of the time, but let’s be honest, it’s not  easy. Living every single day to the fullest is not always possible, sometimes it’s just to your own person fullest. And at least I can say that IS what I do. Yesterday just happened to be  day when I did it really well. I like to think it’s because I had a special brand new angel with me.

The best gifts are the gifts that you enjoy giving more than the receiver even enjoys receiving. Giving “good” gifts has been something I truly enjoy for a variety of reasons, but mostly because it tends to be something that the person wouldn’t purchase for themselves. I bought my dad a flying lesson for Christmas last year (yes, it is September, and yes, we did just redeem it). The guys at Global Aviation in Farmingdale were great and I highly recommend the experience. My favorite “get busy living” moment was sitting behind him in a plane and having hims say, “this is awesome.” I wowed dad. It’s like a little victory party just for me. The views of Long Island, the ocean and the horizon were incredible and we are so lucky to have had that time in the air.

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When we got back to the house, my dad asked, “what’s on your agenda?” And for the first time in way too long I was able to answer, “nothing planned.” What an incredible blessing to have an entire afternoon with nothing required. Granted, I had a huge pile of paperwork, schoolwork and laundry all looking right at me, but I knew they would still be there regardless of what I did with the rest of my day.

With a dear friend in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, it was a great day to suggest the flea market. She happen to have nothing planned as well and was eager to get outside. We walked around a mix of new and used items, ethic foods and drinks and possibly one of my favorites, framed pieces of art. These types of frames are ones that you can imagine in your living room or in the hallway. Each telling their own story. One that isn’t even yours. A magical place, in a frame.

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Trying to gather my other Brooklyn girls I suggested dinner at Madiba, a South African restaurant on Dekaulb in Fort Greene. Stop reading this and go there now. I’m not kidding, go. Fine, if you insist I will tell you about the experience and then you can go when you have a chance.

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Madiba happen to be celebrating its 14 year anniversary last night. We walked into a magical moment in time, just like the frames I had seen earlier in the day. The scene was energetic and nostalgic. The people were joyous and proud. The table were full of people from all over the city and community and the world. Owners, Mark and Jenny Henegan have dedicated their restaurant to Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. They are “dedicated to the future of South Africa, a future that promises greater cultural harmony, economic development, and
collective enjoyment of ‘a World in One Country’.”

Celebrating in the lead were Mark and his brother, Denis. Not only were they celebrating the restaurant’s anniversary, but welcoming their parents coming to Brooklyn, to their place, for the first time in a long time. There were dignitaries, longtime customers and friends, staff, community, first-timers and family all under the same roof. And here we were, three first time patrons, enjoying libations, saffron, cumin, prawns, curries and beets. As if we had never had these things before. There are no words to describe quality new handmade goodness hitting your mouth for the first time. I was once told my roast was like “sex in my mouth.” That’s what I would have told the chefs at Madiba that night.

I had a chance to say hello to Mark on the way out, first congratulating him on 14 years of success and then for having us, we felt like we were a part of a family celebration marking the genuine love of the country, food and people of South Africa. And yet, he said, “thank you” to me.

In the theme of “get busy living” I leave this day as a memory and a reminder of the ability to make things happen regardless of what is in its path,  best said by Mandela himself, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

Recently Gothamist posted this article, declaring the top of the top BBQ places in the city. I have to admit that this category of food is not something I would normally be attracted to. Since leaving the Hudson Valley and reunited with the ‘burbs and “the” city the only BBQ I have craved is Max’s wing night.

So with my carnivorous friends came the idea of trying everything on the list. I promise, it’s only week one and I know I will be pushing for a top 10 of veg places next.

Week 1: Fette Sau
Address: 354 Metropolitan Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Location: Coming from midtown, this was an easy two train commute and then a brief walk to the restaurant.
First impression: Smelled delish, calm before the storm and beer is mason jars
Consumed: short ribs, spare ribs, brisket, rolls, potato salad, baked beans, corn bread, root beer and ale
Highlights: cornbread with brisket baked beans declared favorite bite, rub on the spare ribs, brisket sandwich with extra bbq sauce

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Our friends at Fette Sau are very smart and have a rustic / fun decor. And a cool bar, that counts, too. The beer taps have meat hacking charm. One of those is the Sixpoint called Vienna Ale that was brewed just for Fette Sau, that also makes them very smart.

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This was the tray I ordered for Maureen and I. Don’t judge. I did it for you.

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I think she was happy. It was hard to tell.

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This is a close up of the rub, some goodness was up in there.

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More cool decor and educational! We were able to see and learn what cuts of meat we were eating.

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This was my favorite bite of the entire meal. The baked beans were off the hook. Spicy, slow cooked and chunks of brisket thrown in for good measure. Pictured here on a piece of cornbread.

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Picnic tables inside and out gave for good community and noise.

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This is when we should have stopped, instead we ordered one more beef rib to push us over the edge. It was by the pound.

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This is the bone after we were done with it. In case you can’t tell, as big as my head.

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If you are a condiment girl like myself, you would like the bbq sauce, vinegar sauce and hot sauce. I love sauce.

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Good bye Fette Sau, see you next time!

xoxo

I don’t do Valentine’s Day, but when I do, I do it with cupcakes.

I did not eat dairy – read CHEESE – for the entire month of January. It started as a personal experiment. And ended up with confirmation that dairy and I are not of the best of friends. Insert heartbreak here.

As a long-term cancer survivor of fourteen years, hormone imbalance has been part of my medical path. Sometimes it doesn’t bother me on the outside and then others, like this past September  kicked my butt. I started to break out like a teenager. Actually, worse than any acne I ever had before. Working with a dermatologist confirmed my hormone related skin explosions. I tried to identify what was making my skin change in my diet. And after a few months of ignoring it, I said it out-loud  “I break out the most when I eat cheese.” Heartbreak. Almost immediately, I saw an improvement in my skin and system after removing diary out of my diet.

In our country, most foods, especially dairy products are laden with hormones. There has been very little research done to show the side effect of hormones in food on humans. This Huff Po article from last year was a good breakdown of what we do and don’t know. This also showed me I need to read more about hormones in general from reliable sources. And go see the endocrinologist who can actually calculate my hormone levels and give some educated feedback to what I already know.

As a foodie, we all have our “thing.” For some it’s homemade kumquat jam or homemade pasta or butternut squash ravioli or chocolate ganache. My greatest indulgence has been cheese. All different kinds. All different smells, tastes and colors. Cheese o’ glorious cheese. I’ve made my own ricotta, read cheesemonger tales and dedicated many a glass of wine to the pairing experience. I do not see myself with any extreme dietary changes at the moment, but I do think my hormone crusted foods, especially cheese, will be less and less.

As I re-introduce dairy products back in, to see what bothers my system and skin the most, let’s pray for the cheese.

Murray's Cheese Shopw

Attending the first ever Ramp Fest in Hudson, NY was a moment of clarity in being a “foodie.” It was an amazing compilation of food, friends, music, drinks and RAMPS. For those who need a lil background on ramps, please check out this, this and this.

The most amazing ramp focaccia served with ramp butter from the not yet opened Cafe Le Perche in Hudson, NY. Meeting the executive chef Lisa Brickman was an awesome experience and her enthusiasm for the new bakery and restaurant was infectious. I can not wait to go visit Lisa and her team in June at their boulangerie, bar and patisserie

Fatty ‘Cue in New York City brought one of my most favorite things to the table. Sidebar: one of my favorite cocktail scientists, Jason Littrell, first served me a pickleback while throwing drinks at The Randolph. Jason said, first drink this and then drink that. I did what I was told. And have never been the same. Seeing the two piles of shot glasses lined up, I had a hunch that the guys at Fatty ‘Cue were serving up a treat. Ramp infused pickle juice in the ‘this’ and Wild Turkey whiskey in the ‘that.’

The guys at Fatty ‘Cue / Fatty Crab also served a ramp curry goat dish that was pretty intense.

I think chicken sausage can only be made better by adding ramps.

The classic beggar’s purse tied with ramps, now you are speaking my language.

Dessert can go wrong when adding an onion based flavor, but hey, the guys at Da Ba did it right with ramp lime sorbet. The executive chef told me they serve a sorbet before the final cheese course. I heart cheese.


The steamed clam from great people at The Fat Radish in NYC was wrapped in ramps, peas and white wine. It was delish and wonderful and light. The presentation in the clam shell was perfect for a finger food.

Foodies! at the beautiful Basilica Hudson in Hudson, NY.

After leaving the  Ramp Fest, all high on ramps, I went to Adam’s Fairacre Farms. Once of my most favorite markets to shop. And there for all $11.99 a pound, we my ramps (here soaking off the dirt). Let the ramp-ing begin.


“Imagination is the real and eternal world of which this vegetable universe is but a faint shadow.” ~ William Blake

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