Thursday, March 26, 2009

Obama's Ban on Beets

Beets are becoming the "new broccoli" of the Obama era. I found all the talk around the President's dislike of beets so amusing, I had to dish a little and add my two cents. Apparently President Obama steers clear of beets at all costs, so much so that he's banned them from the new White House vegetable garden, which Michelle Obama broke ground on last week. First off, I think it's awesome they've decided to make fresh, local, homegrown food a focus and secondly, if he doesn't like beets, who honestly cares!? They're planning to plant 55 varieties of vegetables, lettuces, broccoli, fennel, shell peas and kale among them. Ok, so beets get the boot this time, big deal. Personally, I find beets delicious and they're a great source of antioxidants and fiber, but we can't be expected to like everything. I myself, can't stand lima beans, good for you as they may be. I'm supporting Obama and his stance. At least he eats his vegetables period. I think we should be chattering more about the goodness of the vegetable garden as a whole and leave him and his beet ban alone.

Check out the recipe below for the beet and blood orange salad I whipped up a few weeks back in Paris.

One last quick tidbit, I just stumbled on this super cool website, "Behind the Chef", that serves up culinary secrets and thought it was worth mentioning. The site showcases chefs from some of your fave restaurants in the city along with their recipes and tips and tactics in the kitchen. Check out the recipe for risotto with winter truffles from Chef Joey Campanaro of the Little Owl and Market Table (two of my favorite places in NYC) or read an interview with Jose Andres who's known for his avant-garde Spanish food.

Beet and Blood Orange Salad with Chive-Shallot Vinaigrette
2 large cooked beets, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
2 blood oranges, peeled and segmented (cut skin off around orange and use a paring knife to cut out individual segments between the white pith)
1-2 tsp chives, finely chopped
1/2 tsp shallot, minced
juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and fresh black pepper to taste
*I didn't have Dijon mustard on hand in Paris, but I'd probably add about 1 tsp of it to the vinaigrette. I might also toss in a bit of fresh goat cheese or toasted hazelnuts, about 1 Tbsp or so.
Mix chives through salt and pepper in a small bowl until vinaigrette is well blended. Place beets and oranges in a serving bowl and drizzle vinaigrette over. Toss and serve. (check out the beet salad in the middle-left of the photo)

Friday, March 20, 2009

An edible vacation

After technical difficulties in London and Paris, a non-working computer adapter and then a European keyboard...typing a sentence takes an hour, I'm back refreshed and renewed and very, very well-fed. I couldn't have envisioned a better vacation than lots of great food shared with good friends. There were certainly multiple standouts on the trip. The highlight for me surely being the Bastille Market in Paris that my girlfriends and I ventured to last Sunday. It's undoubtedly the most extensive, expansive, jaw-dropping greenmarket I've ever encountered. Uber-fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, cheese, meats, breads and pastries for what seemed like miles. Having rented an awesome apartment in the Marais district, we decided to take advantage of the food and cook dinner at home that night - a full menu of gorgeous sauteed prawns and fresh ravioli with a pistou of sorts (garlic, parsley, olive oil and lemon), beet and blood orange salad, mache with the freshest French goat cheese and strawberries, and of course fresh baguette, some olives and fromage (my French vocab goes about as far as cheese). Certainly a feast, but the flavor and quality of the food was unbelievable.
What amazed me even more, and always amazes me whenever I travel to Europe, is the care, love and pride people put into the food over there. From the tiniest macaroon cookie to the most perfect produce. Oh yeah, we definitely indulged on cheese, bread, wine and of course chocolate, but as I've mentioned countless times before, the quality of food trumps the amount of food consumed. The French really are on to something. Here are a few other food and drink highlights from the trip if you're traveling in the near future.
- Itineraries -- mentioned a few months back in the New York Times, this restaurant is incredible. My 3 friends and I agreed that it was possibly one of the best lunches and dining experiences we've ever had. The menu is constantly changing with the season. Definitely worth stopping by. I'd recommend making a reservation in advance, tables book up fast.
404 -- I'd stumbled on this Moroccan restaurant somehow in doing research online and I'm very glad I did. Awesome decor and chill vibe. The tagines and lamb meatballs were fantastic. Head next door to their sister bar Andy Wahloo for a cocktail to finish your night off.
- Experimental Cocktail Club - Another discreet bar, or rather speakeasy, we stumbled on with a similar feel to the Milk & Honey family here in NYC. Killer cocktails albeit a super-small space.

- Ottolenghi -- Having read about this London chainlet of prepared food shops in Gourmet magazine, I was lucky enough to accidentally walk in while walking around Notting Hill. The dishes and pastries were ridiculously eye-catching, colorful and inventive with an Israeli-Middle Eastern twist.

- Sketch - Super cool tea house in London with a Clockwork Orange/Alice in Wonderland theme. Definitely check out the bathroom if you go, the egg-shaped bathroom pods are hilarious.

- Bumpkin - last on the list, this gastropub in London served up good, hearty, country fare balanced out by a few lighter dishes on the menu (London's not exactly known for light fare...hence my unpleasant experience of ordering shrimp 'cocktail' only to be served up a pile of teeny shrimpies doused in mayo at a high-end department fault for ordering, but sorry, that's just inedible).

Not to worry, we evened out all that eating with a ton of walking, shopping and a little sight-seeing over the course of a week. All in all, a fun, delicious vaca.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Bon voyage!

Hi all. I know it's been a while since I've posted. I've been a little crazed trying to get ready for a week-long visit to London and Paris with a few close friends. I leave tonight and will be posting on all the fabulous foodie finds I stumble upon over the next 7 days. Stay tuned for edible updates and musings on European eating!