Thursday, December 31, 2009

Cork Market

Whole Foods was a mad house today.

It seemed like everyone in the area had neglected to plan ahead for their New Year's Eve dinners. People were either moving at a snale's pace or racing in every direction.

Absolute chaos.

As soon as I checked out and wheeled my groceries up to my ZipCar I was ready to scoot home, but then I remembered that we have dinner plans with friends tomorrow. I wasn't sure if the liquor stores would be open on New Year's day.

Shoot. I just left the store. What now?

A lightbulb went off!

What about the new Cork Market & Tasting Room on 14th Street?


Now, I absolutely adore their sibling restaurant across the street, but the question was -- would they have reasonably priced wines?

Yes; in fact, absolutely.

If you're on a budget or have a big dinner party to plan for, I would highly recommend checking out their selection. Because the owners have chosen to focus on wines from small and mid-size producers, they've been able to stock their shelves with an array of wines in the $8-15 range.

Unfortunately, I didn't have a lot of time to check out their cheese and charcuterie sections, but at a quick glance everything looked divine.

Now, I have to scoot. Time to ring in the new year!

(Images via Washingtonian's Best Bites Blog)

A few days in New Orleans

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas with their families and are gearing up for a fun New Year's.

Whether you're planning a big dinner for your favorite people, traveling to a new place, going out on the town until the wee hours or simply snuggling up with the one you love -- I hope it's everything you want it to be.

We just returned from a few relaxing days in New Orleans.

The weather was great - sunny and 55. The city was PACKED with tourists, both young and old. We slept in every morning and stayed out late each night.

It's safe to say that we ate and drank the city out of house and home. This isn't to say that we were experiencing our own personal Mardi Gras, it's just that when you're in NOLA, there's always a reason to have an afternoon cocktail, an Abita Amber or glass of wine. You nestle into a dark booth in a place as unique as the Napoleon House and suddenly, it's dinner time!

Speaking of dinner, this being my second trip to "the big easy," I chose to steer us toward some of the classic, well-known culinary spots. If you're planning a trip to New Orleans any time soon - like my friend Stephanie is - I highly recommend making a reservation at Restaurant August.

One of my co-workers mentioned how much she loved their tasting menu and knowing her good taste, I booked a table for us as soon as we got into town. It turned out to be fantastic. The food was exquisite, the wine my favorite part (!!) and the decor just as I would want it if I had a my own restaurant -- simple white table clothes, brick walls and antique chandeliers. Nothing too fancy, but classic. (see pic above)

I could go on and on about a number of other places, but I'll end with mentioning one of my all-time favorite bars, d.b.a. Next door to the famous Snug Harbor and across the street from The Spotted Cat - two great places to hear terrific jazz and blues - d.b.a. has an awesome beer selection, booths tucked away in corners that are tough to find, live music and, oh yes, an all-wood decor. You know I'm such a sucker for all-wood bars!

Thanks for following me on my first year of blogging! You've all been so supportive.

Happy New Year's!

The next Sex and the City movie

It's been two years since the last Sex and the City movie and five since I adored marathon-like viewing sessions of the series in college. The film might have been about as good as bubble gum (awesome at first, but the taste wears away quickly) but I still counted the hours until opening day.

I suppose I'll probably do the same for the second one this time around. Call me an addict.

Despite my borderline obsession with the show, I was not altogether pleased with the poster they're advertising of Sarah Jessica Parker from the new movie.

If you haven't seen it, I don't want to spoil it for you, except that I will share my disappointment. I'm all for her character continuing to be the unique trend-setter that she always was, but at some point I was hoping she might hold on to the classy, elegant clothes she wore when she dated Alexsander Petrovsky. There was something about her 'coming-of-age' during that season that I adored. Seeing the previews and peeking at the paparazzi shots of the clothes she wears in this movie, I'm doubtful that my hopes will be met.

Regardless, have you seen the trailer? What do you think?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas to all of my family and friends! I hope you're enjoying a lovely day with the ones you love.

Tomato & Sausage Risotto

Tuesday was the first time I've made a real meal in a long time. When I have cooked in the past few weeks, it's been something super quick -- a light pasta or a salad.

I missed my evenings spent bent over the stove smelling something new I was trying. It's my favorite creative outlet, besides this blog. Without it, I definitely feel a bit off.

Thanks to Smitten Kitchen, I made, hands down, the best risotto recipe I've yet to come across!

Serves 4

1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes in juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1 small onion, finely chopped
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 bunch flat-leaf spinach (10 to 14 ounces), washed well, tough stems removed, chopped (about 7 cups)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving (optional)
2 tablespoons butter

  1. In a small saucepan, combine tomatoes (with their juice) and 3 cups water. Bring just to a simmer; keep warm over low heat.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add sausage and onion; season with salt and pepper. Cook, breaking up sausage with a spoon, until sausage is opaque and onion has softened, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add rice; cook, stirring until well coated, 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine; cook, stirring until absorbed, about 1 minute.
  4. Add about 2 cups hot tomato mixture to rice; simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until absorbed, 4 to 5 minutes. Continue adding tomato mixture, 1 cup at a time, waiting for one cup to be absorbed before adding the next, stirring occasionally, until rice is creamy and just tender, about 25 minutes total (you may not have to use all the liquid).
  5. Remove pan from heat. Stir in spinach, Parmesan, and butter; season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately (risotto will thicken as it cools), and sprinkle with additional Parmesan, if desired.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Just a little over a year ago, my favorite blogger, Joanna Goddard of Cup of Jo, posted about a chair she purchased from Nightwood, a home decor business specializing in its own reconstructed furniture and textiles. I adored the pictures of her chair so much that I immediately emailed Nadia Yaron, one of Nightwood's founders, to find out about pricing.

Nadia rescues old and abandoned chairs and recovers them in a minimal, rustic approach. She uses vintage or organic and sustainable fabrics including hemp, linen, muslin and burlap. It's exactly what I've been looking for in a comfy, corner chair for our living room.

With Christmas right around the corner at that time, a chair wasn't in the cards for me then, so I waited patiently and saved for a little holiday gift to myself for 2009.

The wait made the final product (see above!) all the more worthwhile when the chair arrived a few weeks ago. I love it.

Bring along your things

I can see my husband trekking off to a meeting with this sturdy, leather bag, packed with his Mac, music and other goodies.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Nicholas Hance McElroy

Based in Alaska.

These photos made me very quiet, very reflective.

For the kiddies

A squishy snake for your little one to drag along through the house. A tooth fairy pillow for when those shiners start to fall out. And a jumper that looks so comfortable I wish they made them in adult sizes. All made by oeuf - which means egg in French - start stocking up if you've got kids. They've got the most adorable clothes and toys I've seen for young children.

Roasted cauliflower

I never gave cauliflower much of a chance until I shared an apartment with my dear friend, Erjona, a few years ago.

She's pretty much the queen of veggies. If she had her druthers, I'm convinced that she'd wake up and eat roasted eggplant, kalamata olives and a slice of really good feta cheese for breakfast. For lunch, she might enjoy a bowl of pumpkin soup and for dinner, a lovely salad with apple, carrots and cranberries.

So when she decided to roast cauliflower for the first time a few years back, I remained skeptical, but open to the concept. She is, as I mentioned, the veggie queen.

Nonetheless, I couldn't get away from my feeling that cauliflower is the ugly stepsister to broccoli, which I adore. Same shape and texture. Different color and radically different in taste (i.e. broccoli is vibrant and cauliflower is bland).

But as you might have anticipated, I was pleasantly surprised with Erjona's culinary work. With a few simple flavor-inducing additions, cauliflower can be quite a treat. I've got to learn to be less judgmental!

I leave you with this pan-roasted cauliflower recipe from fresh365. Erjona's required a bit of vinegar, but this recipe is, as I remember, pretty close to her original.


(Via fresh365)

Opposite day

With two feet of snow on the ground, pink peonies seem a bit at odds with the season. But I will forever love pink and I will always adore peonies and besides, they add a little cheer to yesterday's record snowfall.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Off to Never, Neverland

Since I've been so entrenched in work, I've not had a lot of time to daydream about traveling as I normally would like.

Argentina and Vietnam, however, are top of mind these days. But in the meantime, I'm hooked on Tom's idea of one day buying a small, rustic cabin somewhere outside of DC.

Who knows if it will ever happen, but with the snow falling outside right now, Christmas just a few days away, it sounds perfect.

In fact, this cabin, as shown on The Selby, is totally right up my alley.

When the weather outside is frightful

I have sadly neglected this blog for a good two weeks.

I have nothing to blame except for work and pure exhaustion.

It's been a month of weekends at work and long hours during the week.

And I have to admit -- I've not had a hint of interest in turning back to the computer once I get home.

So, in other words, this work-obsessed schedule meant that I had not seen my dearest friends for nearly a month. God, that's terrible, isn't it?! They too, are very busy people, and have so much going on in their lives -- work, relationships, you name it. They, too, were longing for a night of quality time together.

With those four weeks behind us, it was with great anticipation that the three of us trudged through the evening snow storm to meet one another for a long overdue evening at a local wine bar.

Many hours later the clock had struck 1am, several inches had fallen and it was time to part ways.

We giggled like schooI girls as we trounced through the snow-covered streets of Columbia Heights. We kissed goodbye and said, "I love you!!"

It might have been one of the best evenings I've had all year. There was something about Christmas being right around the corner, recognizing how special it was to be together and being so grateful for one another that left me feeling as lucky as any girl out there.

Thanks ladies.

And Merry Christmas to all!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I heart Kate Hudson

My Mom's always saying, "I love Kate Hudson! She seems like she's so much fun!"

Of course, who knows, right? She's a celebrity with an image to worry about, but I admit, that there's something totally contagious about her spunk and that killer smile of hers'. And while I've seen many a photo shoot of hers' where she strikes a sexy pose, these pictures from her recent Bazaar photo shoot capture the fun of dressing up. I love it.

Cup of Jo decorates

It's well known by friends and family that I have long adored Joanna Goddard's blog, Cup of Jo. I know I'm one of many, many loyal followers of her and it's easy to see why. She brings a little cheer to my day and a steady sort of optimism and beauty to everything.

When it's yucky outside, I've had a tough day or maybe I'm not feeling quite right with someone, her posts really cheer me up.

So it came as no surprise to me tonight that I loved her post about decorating her fireplace. I love the simple garland and the brass deer, but more than that, I share that desire to make things "pretty" at home. And the act of doing so, really brings great pleasure to my life, as it does for her.

Cheers to Joanna! She's the best.

(Via Cup of Jo)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Time to eat

We're waiting to go to brunch with friends so things like heart-shaped eggs are about all I can think about right now :)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Climb into Maine's waters

What do you think of when I say: surfing in Maine?

I'll go first:






An escape.

Now, your turn....

(Via Foster Huntington and Spencer Philips at A Restless Transplant)

Tagliattele with Young Garlic, Asparagus and Mushrooms

From the endlessly scrumptious, Sunday Suppers, comes this very simple, completely delicious pasta dish. I already have a bunch of asparagus that I was hoping to do something new with tonight so I'm going to make a mad dash to the grocery store to pick up the other missing ingredients after work tonight.


(Via Karen Mordechai and Sunday Suppers)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Staring at desserts

It's the end of the week...actually no, I have to work all day and night tomorrow, so while I'd like to think today was whisking me into a lovely weekend, it's not.

So I'll resort to staring at desserts.

It makes no sense, but that's my train of thought at the moment.

(Via eggbeater)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Time for soup

Last week Roni and I spent a leisurely two hour lunch huddled over warm bowls of pho and vermicelli. I don't know if pho is ever one of those things I could easily master after a try or two, but I have hope for my culinary skills with this Asian Coconut Noodle Soup recipe.

I'm adding this one to this upcoming weekend's list of dishes to try.

(Via Dana Treat)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Christmas wrapping

I just ordered a few sets of these holiday tags from bklynstitch, a Brooklyn-based graphic designer. Aren't they adorable? I think I'm going to copy her this Christmas, and wrap presents in brown paper, keeping it simple but very pretty.Link

Wrapped up for the fall

Today was a bit of an outlier being that it was in the high 60s, but generally we've been enjoying a rainy, crisp late fall. This is my favorite fashion season. Blazers, comfy sweaters and colorful scarves. It feels like a very imaginative period for dressing.

This cable cardigan from Calypso is just perfect for this time of year.

Anthropologie in London

I admit that there may be something a tad strange about yearning to visit a clothing store while abroad, but I've been there, done that.

While studying abroad in Dublin in 2002, my high school buddy, Bart, was also away for a semester in London. I couldn't resist a $5 flight (no joke!) from the great Emerald Isle to the country that invented cricket, the Rolling Stones and Topshop.

If you've been buying Vogue for as long as I have, and if you have a tendency to splurge on the UK and Parisian issues, then there's no way that by 2002 you could not have heard of Topshop. It's ten times better than H&M in quality and variety of clothing, but similar in price point.

After growing up a suburbs kid surrounded by preppy American chain stores like the Gap and Abercrombie & Fitch, Topshop was a dream come true. I felt like I now had access to clothing that resembled some of the pieces I saw in magazines, but could never afford.

One afternoon while Bart was off at class, I trotted off to Topshop and found myself among seemingly endless racks of dresses, pants, shirts and blazers, the likes of which I had never before seen in person. Restraint was more than difficult, if not nearly impossible!

In the end, I walked away with - and I slightly shudder to think - a white, faux fur zip-up jacket, black ankle boots and a jean skirt that was shorter in length on one side than the other (cringe...).

What was I thinking?!

I know, actually. I must have thought I was "so fashionable" at that time; even "edgy." In reality I probably looked a bit trampy! But the thing is, I wore that outfit non-stop while in London and after I returned to Dublin.

When I stumble upon that jacket now as I'm wading through old clothes, I smile, and remember that that outfit, in many ways, was my "coming-of-age" with fashion. I was breaking out of the tired, preppy mold I had dawned most of high school and experimenting. I may have made many questionable choices, but that was part of the experience.

With the opening of Anthropologie's first European store in London, I wouldn't put it past me to make the trek there the next time I have the chance to visit England.

Let's hope that this time I use a bit more modesty in my clothing choices ;)

(Via pia jane bijerk)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Apple Granola Crisp

We have Veterans' Day off tomorrow so I'm planning for some quality time with Roni. A trip to Pho 14 for vermicelli with grilled shrimp is definitely in order. And maybe a lazy walk to Georgetown for some shopping and then an afternoon beer.

Sounds like a great way to spend a middle-of-the-week day off, doesn't it?

At some point along the way, I'd really like to make this Breakfast Apple Granola Crisp recipe from Smitten Kitchen. I think it's fair to say that I could eat this for breakfast or dessert, but I must admit, I normally wouldn't think of a crisp for my first meal of the day. It seems almost decadent, but I'm sure I can get used to it! :)

Breakfast Apple Granola Crisp

3 pounds of whatever apples, or mix of apples, you like to bake with, peeled, cored and cut into medium chunks
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 stick (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces) unsalted butter
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup flour
2 cups oats
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened, as you wish; I used unsweetened)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix apple chunks with lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and pinch of salt in a 9×13-inch baking dish until apples are evenly coated. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter with the honey. Stir in the flour, oats, almonds, coconut and another pinch of salt until clumps form. Sprinkle evenly over the apple mixture and bake in the oven for about 45 to 55 minutes, or until the apples are softened and bubbly. Should the granola brown before you wish it to, cover the baking dish carefully with foil for all but the last few minutes of baking time, when removing the foil will help the granola recrisp. Cool to room temperature and then stash in the fridge to eat with your morning yogurt.

(Images via Smitten Kitchen)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Off to see Cate Blanchett

I'm counting the hours at this point.

On Sunday afternoon, my husband and I are attending Cate Blanchett's performance in A Streetcar Named Desire at The Kennedy Center.

Peter Marks of The Washington Post said in his enthusiastic review , "This is the kind of evening you want to urge people to see, to remind them of theater's illuminating range, its ability to force you out of your resistant natural skepticism, to assess, reflect and feel."

I have not read the play so I'm in for a totally exciting and new theater experience. Can't wait.

The Elk in the Woods

I've had this long-held obsession with owning my own pub one day. I'd call it The Black Swan and serve Guinness, Troeg's, Dogfish Head, Dead Guy Ale and at least a dozen other craft brews on tap. But the real key would be the reclaimed wood floors and walls.

I suppose several trips to Ireland and a semester in Dublin sealed my fascination with all-wood pubs. There's just nothing like grabbing a seat at a corner booth at a century's-old bar, ordering a pint of Guinness and spending the rest of a gray afternoon indoors with a few friends.

While I'm not in the business of starting this pub any time soon, I think I've found my decorating inspiration -- The Elk in the Woods, a gastropub in Islington, London. They mix an array of materials among their decor, from an elk head to vintage wallpaper and a leather banquette. I love it all.

(Via Remodelista)