Sunday, August 30, 2009

H Street's best deli

It was a random call.

"Let's go to H Street," I said as my husband veered the car east.

Hungry, but bored with our usual lunchtime spots, we headed over to the H Street Corridor to see what might strike our fancy.

For some Washingtonians, H Street has been the new "It Place" for some time now. Although the riots destroyed the area and left it dirty, crime-filled and lacking any meaningful investment, a few adventurous souls have taken up shop (literally) in this neck of NE DC.

We've waited this long to venture over there because of a simple issue - there's no Metro in the area. Who wants to go to a bar in the city and face either driving home or never, ever finding a cab? Not us.

So there we were on a beautiful weekend day, up for a good surprise.

We found it.

"Babe, doesn't that look like a New York-sort of place?" I asked my husband after spotting a roll-up garage door along the main strip and some hip-looking young people munching on something inside.

If a profile in Dwell - the modern architecture and design magazine - speaks to the beauty of this place, then you can imagine that we were in good hands.

Taylor's Gourmet is a Philadelphia-style deli and gourmet Italian market. Founded by two young guys who've known each other since their middle school days, Taylor's makes a mean hoagie and chicken cutlet sandwich. Top it off with a bag of crisps and an assortment of Boylan's soda choices (my favorite is root beer) and you have one hell of a lunch.

I suspect we'll be going back as often as our Zipcar allowance lets us :)

(Images from Dwell's article and slideshow)

Swiss Chard & Caramelized Onion Sandwiches

These were so easy and so delicious!

I did a loose interpretation of Ashley Rodriguez's recipe for Swiss Chard & Caramelized Onion Tacos from Not Without Salt. I added a bit more bacon and sandwich bread instead of tortillas, although they would be totally perfect as she described.

This could be a fun option for a Friday night with friends. We opted for a trial run after a long workout on Saturday morning and it hit the spot.

Swiss Chard and Caramelized Onion Tacos

from Mexican Everyday, by Rick Bayless

Serves 4

12 oz. bunch of Swiss chard, thick lower stems removed (10 oz. cleaned spinach can be used instead)

1 1/2 tbl. oil, lard or bacon drippings

1 large onion, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tsp. red pepper flakes (add more or less depending on how spicy you like it)

1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth (water works too)


Sandwich bread

1 cup (4 ounces) Queso Fresco or other fresh cheese such as feta or goat cheese

Slice the chard into 1/2-inch ribbons. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion then cook until golden brown, about 4-5 minutes. To the onions add the red pepper flakes and garlic. Stir for about 20 seconds until you are hit with the aroma of the garlic then immediately add the broth or water, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the greens. Adjust the heat to medium-low then cover the skillet. Cook until the greens are almost tender. For Swiss chard this will be about 5 minutes. Spinach only takes about 2 minutes.

Uncover the pan, adjust the heat to medium-high then cook until the juices have reduced significantly and merely glaze the greens. Taste and add salt if you think it needs it.

Serve on fresh sandwich bread (whatever's your favorite) and crumbled fresh cheese.

(Via Not Without Salt)

Friday, August 28, 2009

People who make intense (or, insane) year-long commitments

I just finished reading Julie & Julia in anticipation of seeing the movie tonight. Can you fathom making 500+ recipes from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking? Hell no. Don't get me wrong, I totally admire Julie Powell's determination and commitment to this crazy idea. But the further I get through her book the less appetizing the idea of her journey becomes for me.

That all being said, a person's overzealous commitment to anything for one year is fascinating to me.

When my friend Heather decided to train for an Ironman, I was baffled (that sounds like absolute hell on Earth), but I admired her immensely.

Similarly, when I started reading Colin Beavan's No Impact Man blog, I wondered, "What leads seemingly, normal people to take on such intense, even masochist journeys?"

Have you heard about No Impact Man?

Beavan and his wife, Michelle, embarked on a year-long experiment to make no impact on the environment.

"no trash, no carbon emissions, no toxins in the water, no elevators, no subway, no products in packaging, no plastics, no air conditioning, no TV, no toilets…"

The movie comes out early next month and I have no doubt I'll be there on opening day. Just watch the trailer and you, too, might find the whole thing admirable, captivating...and completely nuts.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

To be more like Kate Moss

Have you seen her latest photo spread for her fall line at TopShop? It's vintage Kate Moss (no pun intended). If you ask me, the woman keeps getting better and better with age.

I had to take a peek at her new goods, with a particular eye for her jackets. I actually spotted a picture of her today in a magazine wearing Hunter rainboots, baggy jeans and the coolest, ripped-up jacket. She was clearly stomping around in the mud at some sort of outdoor music festival, looking as cool and chic as ever.

The woman is a style goddess.

So what girl in her right mind wouldn't spend a little down time perusing her new fall/winter looks? :)

I can't get enough of this black "Wetlook Jersey Jacket," nor TopShop's "Sequin Biker Jacket".

If I could have these two, I'd be set for fall.

Mix of urban and Pacific Northwest

That's what I think of when I see this outfit. I feel like I'd wear this on a late fall day in Portland or Seattle.

Sure, I could pull it off in DC, but not until January, when it's finally gotten below 45 degrees.

(Via Le Fashion)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Counting the days to "The September Issue"

I began saving my issues of Vogue starting in the 90s. In 2000 I, for no apparent reason, other than to answer an urge to clean up my bedroom, purged myself of my growing collection.

I regret that decision to this day.

The day after I threw them out I pledged never to make the same mistake again. To date, I have saved every issue of Vogue since that day in 2000. This has certainly made moving a far more expensive endeavor than it ever needs to be, but it's worth it, even if only to me :)

As you have probably already deduced - My adoration for this magazine is bordering on utter and complete obsession. So it goes without saying that I am counting the days when I get to catch "The September Issue" in theatres in DC.

For a great synopsis of the film, its highs and lows, check out Cathy Horyn's post.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lobster rolls for dinner

Last night I felt a strong compulsion to cook up a storm. With a slow August recess in front of me, I have more time on my hands to look for new recipes and shorter hours at work, allowing me the opportunity to be a bit more spontaneous with my meal planning than usual.

I set out to make raspberry muffins, homemade mac 'n cheese and lobster rolls - a slightly odd combination but, alas, my food cravings work in mysterious ways.

The only catch was that my husband arranged for a contractor to come over at 7pm and give us quotes on carpeting or covering the upstairs with wood. Nice guy, but man did he love to talk. And talk he did about carpet and his second job at, of all places the 930 Club. What kind of a guy knows everything there is to know about carpeting your home and rock music? Maybe I'm too judgmental? Maybe I've become too "DC" in my thinking about work? But now is not the time for self-critique. We're talking about a serious meal here.

By 9:30pm I was ready to throw him out of the house.

The muffins had gone cold.

The lobster mix was beginning to smell funny and the mac 'n cheese was beginning to feel as hard as a rock to the touch.

15 minutes later, carpet man had left and we sat down to a meal that would have been delicious if consumed immediately. I hate it when that happens.

Regardless of how our evening meal turned out, I highly recommend the lobster roll recipe. It's so easy. As you know, lobster is pricey so that's the only catch. But given the two steps involved in putting these rolls together, it's a sure bet for "wowing" special guests.

Lobster Roll Recipe

2 pounds cooked lobster meat*, chopped roughly into 1/2 and 3/4-inch pieces
1 small celery rib, finely chopped
1/4 cup mayonnaise (Charles insists on Hellman’s; I didn’t argue)
Squeeze or two of lemon juice
Pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 top-loading hot dog buns or 64 miniature burger buns (described above) or small dinner rolls
Unsalted butter
Snipped fresh chives for garnish (though we mixed ours right into the salad, for convenience)

In a large bowl, combine the lobster meat, celery, mayonnaise, lemon and salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Do ahead: Cover the mixture and store it in the refrigerator until ready to serve. It will last for up to two days.

How they prepare the buns at the restaurant: In a small sauté pan over low to medium heat, melt two teaspoons of butter. Place the hot dog buns on their sides in the butter. Flip the buns a couple of times so that both sides soak up an equal amount of butter and brown evenly. Remove the buns from the pan and place them on a large plate. Fill the toasted buns with lobster salad.

How we prepared our miniature rolls: On large roasting pans, we split each of our rolls and lightly toasted them, open side up, before quickly slathering both sides with butter and filling each with a generous tablespoon of lobster salad.

Sprinkle your rolls with chives and serve with a salad, slaw or shoestring fries.

(Via Smitten Kitchen)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The balkanization of Maine's lobster territories

I'm heading to Bar Harbor, ME in two weeks for a few days of vacation, so as soon as I laid my eyes on a story about Maine's lobstermen, I was hooked.

In this Sunday's New York Times, Abby Goodnough covers the demand for a restricted zone where only full time residents of Matinicus Island, located in Knox County, Maine, can fish for lobsters. Given the drop in fishing stocks, prices and competition from abroad, tensions have been high in Maine among the lobster community. Matinicus residents (population 51 in 2000) derive their whole and entire living off of fishing for lobsters. With the influx of other mainlanders, they've witnessed the dramatic depletion of their fair share of lobster.

While I want to be sensitive to the struggle of the Matinicus residents who are fighting for their survival, I must admit that this concept of a restricted fishing zone may have far-reaching consequences that the state, I hope, is considering.

A restricted zone could lead to the balkanization of the state, requiring a dramatic increase in patrols to enforce the zones, which doesn't come cheap.

One day an innocent newcomer to Matinicus will relocate to this area to fish lobsters from its surrounding waters. What will the locals have to say about that? Could he fish? Has he lived there long enough? What is long enough?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Shell's hell

(Via Lost)

The most stylish men of the past 50 years

GQ has done a really sharp spread of who they consider to be the 50 most stylish men of the past 50 years. The best part about the photos they've chosen, is that a majority of them are not the "best shots" of these men. They're more moments that captured the essence of what really makes someone stylish, which has much more to do with confidence and attitude than it does clothes.

I picked three of my personal favorites to share.

A New York speakeasy

New York's been on my mind quite a bit lately.

Shortly after my husband and I started dating it became our romantic getaway of choice. We'd head up there on a whim on a late Friday night and stay out until 4am soaking up as much of the city as we could.

Now that it's been a few months since I've been up that way and with fall around the corner, I'm dreaming of a lazy Saturday stroll around Central Park and a night out on the town.



Wine bar.


Sounds like a perfect way to spend a weekend.

I spotted this fantastic LIFE Magazine shot of an elite New York speakeasy in 1933 on A Continuous Lean. As one who tends to be nostalgic more than is presumably healthy, I wished long and hard to be a fly on the wall among these men, overhearing their tales of hardship over a few glasses of this or that.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

This made me think twice

Katie Holmes attire in this recent photo caught my eye. What is she wearing? The style was unique enough that I assumed it was a lesser-known designer.

Turns out its her own fashion line, Holmes & Yang.

I'm totally cynical of actresses and actors (including Justin Timberlake and Gwen Stefani) promoting their supposed fashion design skills.

I'll also admit that if Holmes' line looks as good as this outfit, I'm willing to take a look, but I'll remain unconvinced that she had much to do with any of the actual details of conceiving these designs until proven otherwise.

(Wow, I sound bitter!)


What's wrong with the First Lady wearing shorts?

Of all the things to gripe about with respect to our First Lady....

How is it that the American people have the time, the energy and the actual belief that it's appalling that Michelle Obama wore shorts on a trip last weekend to the Grand Canyon?

Similarly, how is that we've decided to debate whether or not it's appropriate for her to wear them? She was dressed for 100 degree heat for crying out loud.

The irony of this, as The Chicago Tribune astutely points out, is that a majority of the responses to online polls about this issue found most people coming to Obama's defense.

So, if no one cares about her wearing shorts, than why are we having this conversation?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Next bar stop in Tribeca

Occupying a former carriage house in Tribeca, Smith & Mills, as this bar and restaurant is called, is decorated in the vintage style of saloons. The bathroom, in fact, is built in an old elevator shaft. Their cash only policy makes me even more intrigued as this is usually the sign of a divey sort of place.

Check out what a local had to say about Smith & Mills brunch. If you're a BLT lover like me, the pictures will make you salivate.

This is definitely my next stop when I'm in NYC.

(Via Scout)

For the public transport lover

Washington, DC-based artist, Andrew Banneker, created this gorgeous National Train Day poster. I love it.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Getting the lighting right

We're in the throws of revamping our bedroom so I'm pretty much always on the look out for a fun addition to the room that doesn't break the bank.

Of course, I often stumble across things that I love that are not in the budget and have nothing to do with our bedroom, but that's half the fun of sleuthing online :)

My husband and I have a special disdain for the chandelier that came with the house (shown in top picture). Up close and personal it's super "fuddy duddy." Maybe if our house was full of antiques it would fit, but we're far from it. I'd love to replace it with this bubble chandelier made by the Brooklyn-based designer Jean Pelle. Isn't it that perfect mix of modern and do-it-yourself with the cables wrapped in cotton twine?

Friday, August 14, 2009

What's wrong with wrinkles?

On one of our last days in Japan, I treated myself to a facial.

At the end of the treatment, the aesthetician sat back and said, "Erin, your skin is SO dry. This is definitely increasing the wrinkles on your face."





I'm 27 years old. Are we really talking about wrinkles right now? You've got to be kidding me.

"You really need to start moisturizing more or you'll just see more of them in the future."

Ok, lady, I got your point the first time you said it.

Sheesh. Enough for thinking that a facial was actually going to make me feel better about myself.

I trudged off to our hotel room and proceeded to spend the rest of the day sulking.

Had I reached that point where the ease and effortlessness of one's youth had finally washed away and somebody just happened to wake me up to its reality?

Do I actually look a lot older than I did five years ago and I just didn't realize it?

Am I aging rapidly?

So, as you can tell, my inner demons took over and there was no turning back.

I returned to DC with the aesthetician's voice in my head, except that I magnified it ten fold to something like this:


As much as I tried to reason with myself, nothing cured me of this terrible, nagging voice.

So I made an appointment with a dermatologist; my first.

I told him that I have really dry skin because of all of the swimming I do for exercise. And......I confessed my facial story.

And that's when Botox came up.

Fucking Botox.

"You know, Erin, a lot of women nowadays are using Botox as a preventative measure. If done right, it can look really nice," the doctor said.

Did I just step into a pile of shit again? This is NOT what I came to the dermatologist to hear.

As a result of my appointment, I have now spent the greater part of this week analyzing just why I've focused so much of my attention on what I rationally realize is a very silly topic.

For someone who has openly judged regular people for getting Botox and other age-defying injections and surgeries, why was I the one in the dermatologist's office obsessing over the reality that I am, in fact, getting older?

Am I just as concerned about looking 'older' as the next person? (Most likely)

If so, how can I be more like my mother, who accepts aging with grace and a sense of humor, and, might I add, looks absolutely fabulous as well?

Ah! But that sort of wisdom comes with time...and as a result of time, you.....

Well, you get the point :)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

What's for dinner? Asian Crunch Salad

My husband and I eat a lot of salads but "a lot" refers to the quantity of green leaves we consumer, rather than the variation in the type of salad we enjoy at home.

Balsamic vinaigrette with mustard and/or honey, red wine vinegar with lemon juice and white wine vinegar with mustard and yogurt. That's about the extent of our dressing choices. Toppings vary just as little. You'll find red onions, dried cranberries, goat or feta cheese and apples.

This week I decided to venture out of my comfort zone and try my hand at an 'Asian Crunch Salad' that I spotted on fresh365.

Oh my was it good. Fresh, crunchy, healthy, packed full of lovely greens such as snow peas - it's a total keeper. In fact, I've inducted it into our Salad Hall of Fame, which really just means we'll now be eating it at least once a week :)

Before sharing the recipe, I should note that I forgot to pick up chow mein noodles while grocery shopping but the toasted almonds ended up being wonderful in the salad. That being said, chow mein noodles have been a favorite of mine since I was a kid. I think both would be awesome together if you really want to pack a mean crunch.

Asian Crunch Salad
serves 4

1/2 lb snow peas
4 c cabbage, cut into long, thin strips
4 c romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
1 c mandarian orange segments
1/8 c soy sauce
1/8 c fresh lemon juice (apx 1 lemon)
1/2 T white vinegar
1/2 T Asian sesame oil
1/8 c vegetable oil
1 T sugar (or agave nectar)
1 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
4 scallions, chopped
1/2 c chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 c sliced almonds, toasted (or chow mein noodles)
2 T sesame seeds, toasted

Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil. Add snow peas and cook until just tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a colander and rinse with cold water to stop cooking. Drain well. Place in a large bowl and add cabbage, lettuce, oranges, scallions and cilantro.

In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, lemon juice, vinegar, sesame oil, vegetable oil, sugar, salt, and pepper. Add to salad and toss well. To serve, sprinkle with sesame seeds and almonds or chow mein noodles.

(Images via fresh365)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Oat'nana Pucks

Our appliances kicked the can while we were on our honeymoon in Japan. After weeks of looking for replacements, we finally settled on a new range, microwave and and dishwasher. And thank goodness. I never knew how much I'd miss the oven when it was gone!

So in celebration of being able to bake again, I made these delicious Oat'nana Pucks (slang for Oat & Banana Cookies) from Sprouted Kitchen last night. Our friends, Lesley and Ethan, came over for dinner and added their own touch to the dessert with chocolate and raspberry sorbets. Perfection in a bowl!

OAT ‘NANA PUCKS // 3 dozen mini pucks (Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen)

3 Well Ripened Bananas
2 tbsp. Good Vanilla Extract
¼ Cup Coconut Oil (olive oil works fine)
2 Cups Rolled Oats
1/3 Cup Wheat Bran
2/3 Cup Finely Chopped Almonds
1/2 Cup Unsweetened, Shredded Coconut
1 tbsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Baking Powder
¾ Cup Semisweet Chocolate Chips or Carob Chips

Oven to 350’
1. Mush the ripe bananas with a fork. Mix the wet ingredients together: bananas, vanilla, and oil. In another bowl, mix remaining dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and gently mix. Fold in the chocolate or carob chips. The dough will be loose. Here, my favorite line in her recipe, ‘don’t worry about it’. Ha.
2. On a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat, make mini balls, then give them a gentle smush to flatten them. I like them in balls, Hugh prefers them in pucks, shape as you wish. They don’t really change shape while baking, so spacing 1’’ between is fine.
3. Bake for about 14 minutes until puck or nugget is firm. Do not undercook or they will crumble.
4. Hoard.

(Images via Sprouted Kitchen)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Greens in a box

My Dad has the ultimate green thumb for a city guy. He and my Mom live in a condo building, but despite not having a plot of their own to grow veggies and flowers, he manages to decorate the entire front steps of the condo with every hanging and potted plant you can imagine -- and it looks great.

When faced with a lot of concrete when you love to garden, what does one do?

City folks get creative.

Gather up some wooden storage boxes and a bit of wire, and voila! You have your own chic-looking hanging plants. Brilliant, don't you think?

(Via Mint Design Blog)

Date night

Isn't this lovely? I'm really into gray right now, as strange as that may sound. It can be such a depressing color, but with a nice blush on your cheeks and a colorful purse by your side, it can be a classy, understated look.

(Via Lark)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

I'm having this for dinner this week

Summer Tomato Lentils

1 Cup Lentils
1 Lemon, zest and juice
1/3 Cup Goat Cheese
2 Large Shallots, peeled and sliced thin
3 Cups Baby Tomatoes
1 tbsp. Olive Oil
1/3 Cup Chives, Finely Chopped
1/3 Cup Basil, Chopped
1 tbsp. Dijon Mustard
1 tsp. Garlic Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper to taste


Set oven to 325′.

Note [from Sprouted Kitchen blogger]: I cook my lentils in unsalted water, as salt is said to toughen the beans- they will taste most fresh if the seasoning is added at the end.

1. Cut tomatoes in half. On the baking pan, toss with 1/2 tbsp. of the olive oil and garlic salt. Turn the tomatoes so they are cut side up, and roast in the oven for 30 minutes.
2. Rinse and drain the lentils, pick out any scrappy pieces. In a medium pot bring 1½ cups water to a boil, add the lentils, turn down the heat to medium and simmer for about 20 minutes. Test the beans for doneness; the liquid should be absorbed, add more if they are not soft to your taste. Put them in a large bowl and crumble in the goat cheese so it melts in the warmth. Add the lemon zest and juice, and gently fold to coat.
3. While lentils are cooling, make the crispy shallots. In a small saucepan, heat up the remaining 1/2 tbsp. olive oil on medium. Add the sliced shallots and cook about 15 minutes, until they are golden brown on both sides.
4. Gently fold the dijon mustard and fresh black pepper into the goat cheesey lentils. Add the basil and mint, roasted tomatoes and crispy shallots. Add salt to your preference.

(Via Sprouted Kitchen)

Things that make me smile

(Via John Robshaw Textiles, Sunday Suppers, Mustard and Sage)