Sunday, November 21, 2010

Eggs sunny-side up & good handwriting

"I can teach anybody how to properly grill a steak but cooking an egg properly -- now THAT takes a lot of practice," -- Ben Horgan, chef, restaurant manager & friend
A good egg is indeed hard to come by. It seems like such a simple thing to make and yet my friend Ben is right -- cooking one well is an art form few have mastered. This explains my adoration of the brunch I had at an American bistro in the West Village called The New French.

I ordered 2 sunny-side eggs, potatoes, salad and duck leg. Out came eggs of a gorgeous, vibrant color and remarkable flavor. They were so good in fact that while I remarked on how much I enjoyed the meal to my friends it wasn't until I was on the bus ride home to D.C. that I began to realize just how perfect those eggs were. I'm craving them as I type. Is it nostalgia for a brunch gone by and our delightfully long chat with old and new friends? Or is it both -- good people and delicious eggs -- that I miss?

Either way, I adored The New French, which isn't really a French restaurant at all -- more American bistro or cafe. New York Magazine deemed the ambience and food "a blend of homey welcome and adventurous spirit." Agreed.
PS: The bistro's logo was done in quirky handwriting, which I obviously love (see The District Sleeps' logo). Maria Kalman, the illustrator and writer, lent her handwriting as the font for the menu, logo and paper place mats, giving the place its own unique, but simple look and feel.

J. Crew spring collection

If you really hate the cold and already find yourself counting the days until the leaves turn green again and you're throwing on strappy sandals, then please, spare yourself the torture of looking through J. Crew's Spring Collection. It's absolutely charming -- nearly all of it, actually. But again, don't do it if you're going to get in a huff that you can't wear it for 4-5 months.

(Why all of the caution? Well, I, in fact, dislike winter immensely so...I wouldn't want to impart the same frustration that I feel, on others :) Neurotic? Maybe.)

For the past few seasons I've loved the "looks" J. Crew has designed but I don't find them nearly as alluring when I head to the store and try them on. There's all of these "combinations" of things in one outfit. My sister is a pro at pulling a million different things together and looking great in it. I fail miserably at this. I realize time and again I don't know how to layer without looking like a bag lady. I need it paired back and simple.

Ok now that I'm done venting I can explain that this is precisely why I'm very happy with this new collection. You can see pieces that will work perfectly on their own, shoes that look right with dozens of outfits and some very fine stand-alones -- like these gorgeous cream-colored trousers above.

Well done. Bravo J. Crew.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wedding flowers

My sister's boyfriend's cousin (sorry, that's a mouth full!) recently got married at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden's Palm House. My sis said the bride was gorgeous (as is clearly evident in these photos) and the food and reception were so much fun.

What I didn't know until this week, was that my favorite florist, Sarah Ryhanen, designed the flower arrangements for her wedding. How cool! The yellows, grays and creams suit the scenery and time of year so perfectly for their big day.

(via Saipua)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Butternut squash soup

I've been making this recipe every other week since fall swept into town. It's my new favorite soup for 2010.

Butternut Squash Soup


1-2 lbs. butternut squash, peeled
1 yellow onion
1 apple (McIntosh or Gala are good options)
2 cups chicken stock
handful of chopped scallions
couple of pinches of shredded coconut
handful of chopped pecans or cashews (toasted in the oven)
1 tbsp heavy cream
*optional: 3-4 fresh sage leaves OR 1/4 tsp. curry powder (depends on the flavor you're in the mood for; both are delicious)


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut squash, onions and apples into 1 inch pieces. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 35-45 minutes.

2. Heat chicken stock on medium-high heat.

3. When veggies are done roasting, add them to the chicken stock, and pour in the heavy cream. Blend with a hand-blender. (If using sage leaves, saute them with olive oil for 1 minute in a saute pan and then add to the veggies and blend.)

4. If using curry powder instead of sage leaves, add it now to the soup.

5. Check seasoning -- more salt? more curry? more fresh sage?

6. Serve warm in bowls with coconut, scallions and nuts as garnish.

Korean BBQ

While we were on our honeymoon in Kyoto, Japan two summers ago, we met several locals who highly recommended a Korean BBQ restaurant easily missed among the back alleys of Kyoto's bustling dining district.

Upon arrival, we were seated on the floor next to a wood charcoal grill that was already crackling and burning, awaiting the beef and seafood we would soon order. To our left and right sat groups of 20-somethings, devouring their grilled food and gobs (and gobs, and gobs) of local beer.

The food was great but the atmosphere was truly the best part. Given the crowd, the loud music and the endlessly flowing beer, this BBQ restaurant could have been my go-to place in college (instead of the shitty corner bar I went to for bad BBQ wings and caesar salads), except that I went to school in a small Ohio town, not an urban center like Kyoto.

These memories from our trip came back to me after reading The New York Times' piece on "36 Hours in Seoul." Tadak, a Korean barbeque restaurant, was high on the author's list of "must see places." This article came out at just the right time -- I've been giving a lot of thought to where I'd like to travel next if I could go anywhere, and Korea has made the (long) list. Ethiopia, Vietnam, Madagascar, Montana, Kuala Lumpur.....they all made it on there as well. But I have to say, maybe this article was a sign??

Glittery skirts

Inspired by First Lady Michelle Obama's ensemble at her dinner with the Indian Prime Minister and his wife, I'm now swooning for a long sparkly skirt.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Simple meals

I know that some of you are loyal GOOP readers (Gwyneth Paltrow's semi-weekly newsletter), so you would have seen her issue today about Jessica Seinfeld's new cookbook and cooking videos. I was a bit skeptical -- another celebrity attempting to take over the home-cooking world? Please. We're already drowning in enough of that craze. That being said, I'm always on the hunt for new recipes so I took a look at what she has to offer.

I really like the super simple Sweet Cherry Tomato & Ricotta Pasta and the 10-minute Halibut Over Spinach. In fact, both recipes made me realize how much I "overdo it" when we have a large group over. I have that common desire of many home cooks to put together something rather elaborate for guests, when in fact, something easy and quick like Seinfeld's two dishes would make nearly any group happy. So, I think it's time to try a new approach to entertaining -- something much more paired down but equally as pleasing.

D.C. as a poptart?

Oh yes, sign me up for this poster! You can't get more deliciously creative (yes, the pun was intended) than this about my city.

(via DCist)

A different kind of workout

I'll always be devoted to swimming as my workout of choice, but over the years I've tried my hand at different forms of exercise, including spinning and biking, to mix things up. I'm now intrigued by studio's (located at 14th St & Rhode Island Ave NW) new fitness class called "barre."

Barre is based on the Lotte Berk method, which concentrates on targeting specific areas for strength and flexibility training. The "core" is the focus of everything in this workout.

Local blog, Borderstan, caught up with's owner, Linda Bachrak, who offered more detail on how the barre classes work.
Class starts with a 10-minute warm-up focusing on the upper body. The center warm-up involves some light weight training, as well as push-ups, planks and pilates. The warm-up is followed by exercises at the barre targeting the quads. Each exercise isolates the muscle, working it to the point of exhaustion. Glutes and hamstrings are also worked at the barre, and then the class moves to the center for an intense ab workout.
This sounds like a great combination of yoga, pilates and dance. I want to give it a try. If you already have, let me know what you thought of it!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Michelle in India

Rachel Roy designed what might be my favorite ensemble this year for Mrs. Obama. At a state dinner with the President and First Lady of India, Obama wore a silver, floor-length skirt, bronze top and gold belt at the waist. She looked absolutely stunning!

But truth be told, she usually does -- just look at these photos from some of her outings in and around India. Her love of prints and interesting accessories makes me want to branch out a little more.