Monday, March 28, 2011

Beets :: Quick Clean Up for Spring

I'm willing warm temperatures to come on strong...any day now.  If nothing else, sunshine and a bit of spring cleaning is a decent place to start.  If you're looking for a nice 'jumpstart' towards beach season, give a thought to a nice bowl of roasted beets, or a simple beet salad, or some more creative uses for the colorful root veg.  Beets are like your personal springtime cleanup crew.  Jammed with antioxidants and nutrients to detox the liver along with a good dose of fiber, they'll flush out toxins and kick up digestion super fast.  Just beware, they'll stain virtually anything they come in contact with, nothing a good washing can't take care of.  Check out these brilliant photos and easy beet recipes from my latest column in Rue Magazine's fourth issue.  Click here for Bright Beet & Feta Dip with Grilled Toasts; Golden & Ruby Beet Salad with Oranges, Hazelnuts & Fiore Sardo Cheese; Dark Chocolate Beet Cupcakes with Goat Cheese-Hazelnut Frosting (oh yeah, they're crazy good!).

...and a few more gorgeous pics from the talented Rima Campbell.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Where You Should Be Eating Now :: Hudson Clearwater

A little undercover, the type of vibe that makes you want to stay all night, warm and rustic design, killer music...and a whole lot of incredible food.  Located in the West Village, Hudson Clearwater is the restaurant scene's newest, best kept secret.  I've waited far too long to post something about this place, but figured we could all use a bit of food-driven excitement on such a dreary day.

HCW is keen on keeping a low-profile, making your experience that much more personal.  No distinct storefront awning and a clandestine garden entrance help make the space the cool, hidden gem that it is.  Step inside and you'll immediately be welcomed by an open kitchen where you'll watch first-hand the energy, excitement and authenticity that goes into executive chef Wes Long's menu.  He's the type of guy who'll take time to greet you and chat about anything and everything for a few minutes (or longer), as will any of HCW's four owners, Mark and John Barboni, Christopher Brandon and Matthew Hechter.

Long's genuine appreciation of food and his attention to good health, flavor and sustainably-sourced ingredients is clear.  Not too shocking, it's one of the reasons I keep on coming back.  HCW's vision of fusing health and seasonality into knockout restaurant fare runs deep and it shows.  Given my frequent visits, I've been lucky enough to experience just about all of the menu (and a few chef tasting meals as well).  A few dishes to daydream about this afternoon...arugula with spiced pecans, St. Andre & apple ribbons; the aged white cheddar shortcake, roasted root vegetables and horseradish creme fraiche; crispy duck breast with grilled onion and swiss chard ragout; the cured pork belly (yes, I'm suggesting you order pork belly) with grilled beets, creamy polenta and cherry-dickel caramel.  Be sure to get a side of Brussels sprouts and the potato-cauliflower gratin with radish salad, they're pretty amazing.  I won't call out a specific dessert because that'd be discriminatory and they're all stellar, but twist my arm and I'd shoot for the lemon bar with fig compote or the chocolate-cherry ganache with fresh light and balanced, you'll comfortably leave the table without feeling like someone needs to roll you out the door.  And an fyi, or word of warning, definitely glance over the cocktail list.  

Good guys doing up genuine food.  You can't really go wrong with that.  Looking forward to Long's spring menu, due out very soon.
And ps., you'll definitely want to keep this little secret to yourself (and a few very lucky friends).  

images via: UrbanDaddy & Nourish

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Few Foodie Ways to Help Japan

I'm coming off a gorgeous sun-filled weekend that was fairly calm and relaxing...and gave me some time to think about the tragedy in Japan (or maybe it was a wee bit too much CNN and Meet the Press).  Either way, after a little internet scouting, I found some interesting food-related ways to help support relief efforts. Check 'em all out on my post today over at Rue - including a fundraising event at EN Brasserie this week.  And stay tuned for the much-anticipated premiere of Rue's Issue 4 tomorrow!

heart-shaped ceramic bowl from Kolde Studio on Etsy - 50% of proceeds go to relief efforts

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Go Green

Bright, bold emerald green is the hot hue of the season and it's coming on strong at your table.
I'm gushing over these tabletop items featured in this month's Elle Decor.  And just in time for a lucky St. Patty's Day!

clockwise from top: 
Du Barry linen by Osborne & Little (perfect for graphic napkins or placemats)
blown-glass dinnerware from Tsuga Studios
Aladdin flatware by Vietri
Vega water glasses by Baccarat (a girl can dream can't she?)

Glacier Stripe ceramic dinnerware from Sylvie Saint-Andre Perrin

scans via: Elle Decor April 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Inspired by...

...Pasta and porchetta princess, Sara Jenkins' green bean salad at her new East Village restaurant Porsena (if you haven't been yet, it's cozy and wonderful - like you're eating at home with your Italian grandmother).  Jenkins may have gained acclaim for her heftier dishes and love of all things pork, but the green bean salad is a total star on the menu.  Fresh, simple, gorgeously green and crunchy--a perfect healthy pick for the first weeks of spring.  I recreated her dish at home based on memory and taste.  Darn close to the original...

green beans with fennel & toasted almonds 
serves 2
blanch a small bunch of haricot verts (French beans) in boiling water for about 2 minutes, plunge into an ice bath.
remove beans and place in a mixing bowl.
toss in thinly shaved fennel (a mandolin makes it super easy), toasted chopped almonds, finely sliced red onion (Jenkins actually pickles hers first, which I adore, but I didn't have the time).
add juice from 1/2 lemon, 2-3 teaspoons of good red wine vinegar, a nice dose of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, mix well and you're done.

(my version above, Sara's pretty version below)

images via: nourish, the L magazine

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Help for Japan

Sometimes things and people strike you in a way that you're urged immediately to act.  The tragedy in Japan that unfolded over the weekend had me glued to CNN much of yesterday afternoon.  And this poster I just stumbled upon minutes ago--thanks to the wonderful world of social media and a network of international bloggers--reminds us that we can help.  Please donate to the charity of your choice and help relief efforts.

image via signalnoise via Greg Melander via French By Design via Bright Bazaar

Friday, March 11, 2011

Spring Kitchen!

You can almost smell spring coming on strong!  I'm not looking forward to losing an hour of sleep with daylight savings this weekend, but I'll surely take the sunshine and brilliant hues that are well on their way this month.  I'm loving the bright pops of color in these kitchens -- clean whites, baby blues, peeks of hot pink, grassy green and pastel seafoam!  Just a little springy inspiration to start your weekend off with.  Cheers!

images via :: 1-6 redonline, 7 blue stove bakery

A Term To Get Used To: Agro-Ecology

There's many a reason I'm a fan of New York Times writer Mark Bittman, but the latest results from his op-ed article earlier this week on something I hope more of us starting thinking about: "agro-ecology."  Huh?  The term sits right in the same bucket as "sustainable" and "organic" and it's hinged on the notion that smaller, sustainable farming practices can actually feed the world.  Shocking as it sounds...and much needed rift from our industrial food industry.
Just this week, the United Nation's representative, Olivier de Schutter, presented a report entitled "Agro-ecology and the Right to Food." He urged that "Agriculture should be fundamentally redirected towards modes of production that are more environmentally sustainable and socially just." He went on to say that agro-ecology supports "small farmers who must be able to farm in ways that are less expensive and more productive.  But it benefits all of us, because it decelerates global warming and ecological destruction."
Reconstructing our food system in such a manner is indeed doable and groundbreaking farmers across the country and the globe are making a serious case.  Joel Salatin of the Polyface Farms in Swoope, Virigina is one of the most notable examples of this.  The documentary film Food Inc. featured his innovative grass-based farming methods to provide animals and the land the best possible treatment (I love the roving "egg-mobile" pictured above).  Check out more on the farm here.  I'm hoping to take my first trip down there in April when I'm next home visiting my stay tuned for a full report!
Agro-ecology's an interesting notion ponder - and to start taking part in by supporting your local farmers market or joining a CSA (community supported agriculture).  Small steps will add up over time and start making a more significant dent in moving away from big agriculture, industrial farming and food that's not as nutritious or ethically-produced as it should be.
Thanks Mark for shedding a little more light on this.  Hope you all get to hit the farmers market on this sunny weekend!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Dreaming of...

After a very hectic week, I'm back and blogging.  Yesterday's unsightly rain had me dreaming of spring and a whole lot of sunshine.  And of course a bit of bright nibblings to go along with it.  These rosemary-lemon shortbread are the perfect transition from winter heartiness (the rosemary) to spring liveliness (the lemon).  Not to mention they're somewhat addictive if you're not careful.  Get the recipe over at my post today on Rue Magazine's blog...and start baking!