Saturday, March 31, 2012

Read This: Garden & Gun Magazine

I love magazines. "Garden & Gun" is my overall favorite. Despite the "What Kind Of Redneck Magazine Is This?" name, it has wonderful articles, great resources and some inspired design ideas and options. Where else can you find the best resources for all things Southern and sensible?

(All photos from Garden & Gun.)

My favorite cover, this issue is safely tucked away so that when I do the next house, I will have one of these porch swings on the covered porch. Count on it.

The website is amazingly well done. Simple, easy to navigate and completely addictive.

My favorite feature is the annual "Made In The South Winners".   Where else can you find the absolutely best handmade oyster knife and bow tie in the same article?  Really!

From the G&G website:

This year's winners prove that the best things made are made in Dixie. Earlier this year we asked Southern designers and craftsmen to enter our second annual Made in the South Awards in one of four categories: Sporting, Home, Fashion, and Food. We received hundreds of entries and enlisted a panel of expert judges to choose the final winners.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Good Eats: Friday Night Quick Dinner

Friday, the end of the week.  Sometimes it's just too much at the end of the day to want to cook a meal.  Luckily, I live close to a pretty decent grocery.  I wanted something easy.  Shrimp. Fast cooking. Delicious. Easy to prepare.  So here's what I cooked last night!

I sauteed a pound of peeled and de-veined jumbo Gulf shrimp in a little EVOO.  When they were almost done (PLEASE Do NOT overcook them or they turn into little erasers and should not be eatcn... ever) I removed them to a bowl and let them rest.  I added chopped garlic and an entire bag of pre-washed baby spinach to the pan along with about a quarter cup of sundried tomatoes packed in olive oil, some cracked red pepper (to taste) and sauteed until the spinach was wilted.  A quarter cup of a dry white wine (a decent chardonnay worked pretty well) added to the mix, add back the shrimp and serve immediately over whole wheat angel hair pasta with some Parmigiano-Reggiano. Delicious. Amazingly easy. Endless variations.  Try it.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Plate Full Of Delicious: Roasted Asparagus Salad with Poached Eggs and Romesco Sauce

This looks like what I think a Summer evening light dinner should be... I may have to do my own interpretation of this very soon!  This courtesy of FineCooking.Com:

Thin slices of Serrano ham and warm poached eggs turn this Spanish-inflected spring salad into dinner: the runny yolk becomes a rich dressing for the delicate frisée  greens, and the Romesco sauce adds a nutty, sweet, and slightly spicy element. Be sure to serve this salad with crusty bread, to mop up the delicious oil on the plate.

Serves 4 Yields about 1-1/4 cups of sauce:
Click here to find out more!
For the Romesco sauce:
1 medium ancho chile, stem and seeds removed
1⁄2 cup peeled, seeded, and diced tomatoes (fresh or canned)
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil; more for drizzling
One 1⁄2-inch thick slice white country-style bread, cut crosswise into 3 pieces
1 piquillo pepper, or 1 medium red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, and seeded
1⁄2 cup blanched almonds or hazelnuts, or a combination, lightly toasted
2 cloves garlic, pounded to a smooth paste with a pinch of salt
1 tsp. Pimentón dulce, or sweet paprika; more as needed
1⁄2 tsp. hot Pimentón, or cayenne; more as needed
1 Tbs. red-wine vinegar; more as needed
1-1⁄2 tsp. sherry vinegar
Kosher salt

For the salad:
1⁄2 cup plus 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
2-1⁄2 tsp. red-wine vinegar; more as needed
24 medium to large asparagus spears
4 small handfuls frisée (pale center leaves), about 4 oz. total, washed and dried
4 eggs
4 to 8 thin slices Serrano ham or prosciutto, for serving (optional)

Make Romesco sauce: Heat the broiler and position a rack in the top of the oven.
Put the ancho chile in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let soak until plump, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Put the tomatoes in a small baking dish, drizzle with a little oil, and place under the broiler until slightly charred, about 3 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Warm a small (6-inch) sauté pan over medium heat, and add 1⁄2 cup of olive oil. When the oil is hot (the bread should just sizzle on contact), add the bread and reduce the heat to medium low. Gently fry the bread on both sides until crisp and golden. (You don’t want it too dark.) Remove the bread from the pan and drain on a paper towel.

In the work bowl of a food processor, put the chile, tomatoes, fried bread, piquillo pepper, nuts, and garlic. Pulse at first, then grind to a chunky paste, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Add the sweet and hot paprika, both vinegars, and the remaining 1⁄4 cup of olive oil, and season with salt. Process again and taste; the sauce should be sweet (not too spicy) and nutty, with a nice balance of acidity. Let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes to allow the flavors to come together, then taste again and add more salt, vinegar, and/or a touch more spice if necessary.

Make the salad: Put 1/2 cup of the Romesco sauce, 1/2 cup of the olive oil, and 1-1/2 tsp. of the vinegar in a small bowl and stir to combine (save the remaining Romesco sauce for another use; it keeps well in the refrigerator). Taste and add salt or vinegar if necessary. Set aside at room temperature.

Heat the oven to 450°F.

Grasp an asparagus spear with both hands and snap it in two; it will naturally separate at the point where the stalk becomes tender. Trim the remaining spears to the same length. Discard the tough bottom ends. If necessary, lightly peel about 2⁄3 of the spear with a vegetable peeler. (If the asparagus is very fresh and tender, this step is often unnecessary.)

Put the asparagus on a baking sheet, drizzle with the remaining 2 Tbs. of olive oil, and toss to lightly coat. Spread out the asparagus to single layer and season with salt. Roast until just tender—it should still have a little bite—about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the spears. Set aside at room temperature.
Shortly before you are ready to serve, fill a straight-sided, heavy sauté pan with about 3 inches of water and bring to a simmer.

Meanwhile, scatter the frisée on a platter or individual plates, season lightly with salt, and arrange the asparagus spears on top.

Add the remaining 1 tsp. of vinegar to the simmering water. Crack the eggs, one at a time, into a teacup, and gently slide them into the water. Gently simmer the eggs until they are done to your liking, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the eggs from the water with a slotted spoon, and blot off any excess water with a clean, lint-free kitchen towel. (For a neater appearance, trim the eggs as well.) Prop the eggs on top of the asparagus and spoon the Romesco sauce on and around the salad. Drape the Serrano ham or proscuitto on the side, or arrange on a platter and pass at the table. Serve immediately.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Cool Stuff: Bespoke Post

I recently subscribed to a service provided by that sends me a "box of awesome" every month.  Yep. For the low price of $45/month you get all kinds of cool things.  Check 'em out and see what might be waiting for you!

Here is the description from the website:

This month, we're upgrading your weekend travel gear. Reserve the roller bag for the workweek. Constructed for heavy-duty hauling, this 20"x14" utility canvas bag is perfect for a quick getaway. We're upping the ante with some high-end extras: 

1) Canvas mason's bag: Originally built for quarry workers and miners, this bag has stood the test of time. Suede handles & buckles are riveted into its frame.

2) Aesop skin care travel kit: Imported from Australia, Aesop's shampoo, body wash, and lotions will keep you fresh before or after your journey.

3) American Airlines® Admiral Club® pass (limited quantities)*: Sip some champagne and relax in American's Admirals Club while others fight for an outlet and slice of Sbarro's.

The journey is what matters.

The fine print:
As a result of receiving this package, you are highly likely to become better looking and smarter. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Also included were two samples from Blowfish - a hangover cure effervescent tablets,

 a sample package of Rabbi Mints, 

a sample eBoost energy drink,

and a bag of Sahale Snacks, Soledad Almonds (delicious BTW).  

How cool is that?  A little mini vacation in a box.  I can't wait to see what comes next month!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Travel: Leaving New York

Sometimes I forget how close everything is in the North East.  It is usual and customary to walk 30 or 40 blocks in NY, right? But that trip to LGA or JFK in a cab? Forget that.  I needed to go to Philadelphia after New York.  The old Marc would check an airline schedule. Right.  Not anymore.

From the hotel in midtown (I stayed at the Millennium, but if you have a choice - don't) was an easy ride to Penn Station to catch the Amtrack Acela express train to Philadelphia. $125 for a business class seat, internet, nice work surface? Cheap.

And, at the other end?  the 30th Street Station in Philadelphia.  Beautiful in its own right.

I'll do this again for sure.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Traveling Life: Il Cortile NYC

Last week I flew into LGA to meet my boss for a meeting in the city.  I love going to NY with him. He knows the city instinctively, having lived there in the past. We always have dinner at a great restaurant.  This time, we went to Il Cortile in Little Italy - 125 Mulberry at Hester.  Honestly, this was our third trip there together. I'd go broke living nearby beause I'd want to eat there every day.

The drinks are as good as the food, and the food is off the chart good.

Old world NY Italian - the veal chop was the best I've ever had. The martinis are COLD, strong and saw a vermouth bottle once, but not recently. Go. Eat and report back.

Eats On The Road: Amuse Restaurant at Le Meridien, Philadelphia

I was recently in Philadelphia working at a conference. Everyone who has attended a conference knows that food is sometimes troublesome around a convention center.  I lucked out.  Within a 2 block walk was the lovely Le Méridien Philadelphia.

The restaurant, Amuse, was really nice with a great color scheme, attentive staff and a memorable menu.

A toasty hot, French baguette served with lavender scented French butter was almost a meal in itself. Now I understand the whole "French butter" thing.  Really.  It's different.

Loving the interior. Serene, but not stark. The staff never made you feel like they wanted to "turn" the table.  I went back three times. I'll go back again.

My seat was on the banquette nearest the window.  Best seat in the house.  Love this hotel.