October 28, 2011

Welcome to my laboratory

For Halloween I decided to create a creepy laboratory and then stock it full of all kinds of eerie-looking jars filled with dreadful and sinister things for the evil science experiments I'm planning with my newly acquired knowledge of biochemistry.

October 5, 2011

Biochemistry at Work: Green Soup with Yams and Sage

So biochemistry. Yeah. That's my final post-baccalaureate class before applying to grad school. It requires me to write two essays a week. About biochemistry. My brain hurts. I've never written such science-focused papers before, but it's great practice for nutrition writing, which will be a breeze compared to this. It is pretty interesting material though. I'm currently learning about enzymes. I now understand how refrigeration keeps food fresh longer. (Enzymes, which are proteins that catalyze reactions, are temporarily unfolded (denatured) because they are only active in a narrow temperature range. I love knowing how that.) (I'm perfectly okay with being a nerd.)

September 25, 2011

Say hello to my very first guest poster: Catherine Murphy!

For all you Dairy Eaters out there, this post is for you. It's the first post on my blog written by a guest poster, my super-fabulous sister-in-law Catherine Murphy. Last weekend Graybeard and I went out to Hampton Bays, NY to celebrate my favorite in-laws' 40th wedding anniversary. We had a nice dinner at Villa Paul, and Catherine loved her meal, so I asked her if she was interested in writing a review of it, and she was. So without further ado, I am tickled to let Catherine take it from here. (P.S. The pictures are also courtesy of Catherine.)

September 19, 2011

Kale Chips

I still had lots of kale after making the Hearty Kale Salad, so the next day I made Kale Chips. I've been hearing a lot about kale chips lately, and according to EatingWell magazine, if you don't like kale, these will change that. They did for Graybeard. They were delicately crunchy and tasted a like a cross between potato chips and popcorn. They were very good, and I will definitely be making them again. They only took 4 minutes in my oven at 400 degrees, so watch them closely.

September 16, 2011

Hearty Kale Salad

I liked this Hearty Kale Salad (another one from the October issue of EatingWell magainze), with its mushrooms and bacon, and would make it again for myself, but Graybeard wasn't crazy about it. He said that the kale had no taste, which I guess it kind of doesn't raw. But it's frilliness is fun, and with the red-wine-vinegar-based dressing, I thought it was nice. You might have to like kale to like this salad though.

September 14, 2011

Farmer's Market Fried Rice

Now that I once again pick out my own vegetables every week instead of having whatever's fresh plucked from the ground for me by the farmers at Stoneledge Farm, I can buy produce to fit recipes, rather than finding recipes to fit produce. Both ways are fun, but I prefer the creativity of having to cater to the vegetable, and I was just starting to get a feel for what was seasonal in my part of the country. Now I guess I will never know what is in season in September.

September 13, 2011

The CSA: A Flood... Er, Fond... Farewell

My CSA is over for the season. I will remember those days of abundance always... the days when I was rolling in tomatoes, when my bags were heavy with yellow and green squash and enough greens to start a salad bar. Well, the FDA recommended that farmers whose fields were flooded by Hurricane Irene call it quits for the season because there's no telling what kinds of nastiness the flood waters deposited onto their fields (gasoline, chemicals, waste, etc. from other flooded areas). If someone got sick from eating their vegetables after a farmer ignored the FDA's recommendation, they would be liable, and could lose their farm, in addition to potentially making people sick. So now Stoneledge Farm cleans up and gets ready for next year. It's unfortunate, but it's the responsible thing to do.

September 1, 2011

Time for a Luau

My best friend Rachel and her new husband Greg recently got back from their honeymoon in Hawaii, where they climbed a volcano, went parasailing, laid on the beach, ate lots of amazing food, and generally gallivanted around, making the rest of us jealous. Rachel said the fish there was amazing and so fresh that she ate it every night. Now I want to go to Hawaii too and eat lots of fresh fish. Graybeard, is it too soon for a second honeymoon? No? Next week good for you? Great. I'm looking up flights now.

The honeymooners also brought me back a gift from that far-off land: Hawaiian sea salt.

August 30, 2011

Pasta with Garlic, Leeks, & Tomatoes

Last year I discovered leeks and they're now one of my newest favorite vegetables. They have a mild oniony flavor and a pretty light green and white color. I like them braised with chicken or in pasta, which is what I did with them last night.

August 29, 2011

August 23, 2011

Walnut brownies for the ages

This past week Graybeard and I have been in Houston visiting family and friends. There's been lots of gab and lots of grub. It's been a great time, and the week has flown by. For dessert after our big Sunday Polish dinner, Mom made what were quite possibly the best brownies I've ever had. The recipe is near a hundred years old, maybe older. Mom got it from a friend who got it from her great grandmother. Once you try this, you will understand, as I did, why this recipe has stuck around and been passed down for a century.

August 14, 2011


Beyoglu is awesome, except for that time there was a roach on the table by the bread plate. Luckily, I didn't see it. My roommate at the time spotted it, and our waiter flicked it off the table and stepped on it. But ignorance is bliss/you've got to see it to believe it, and though those don't really apply that well here, I still go back all the time because the food is too good not to. The octopus marinated in olive oil, lemon, and vinegar with red onions and tomatoes... before trying it for the first time I would've thought that I would not be willing to try octopus. (Well, I would've thought that had I not been under the mistaken impression that calamari is octopus, which I've been eating for years. I thought I was taking a big step by trying it non-fried. But turns out -- who would've guessed -- it's an entirely different sea creature. And a mighty delicious one.) If you go to Beyoglu, get the octopus (ahtapot salatasi). It's incredible. I've sought it out at other local Turkish places that will deliver (Beyoglu won't), and nothing has come remotely close.

August 10, 2011

God's Blog

This has nothing to do with food (except for the mention of a lemon at one point), but it's too good not to share. Check out God's Blog, courtesy of  Paul Simms of The New Yorker.

August 5, 2011

I'm back! (And I have fresh CSA veggies to show you!)

Oh my goodness. Am I ever happy to be done with my summer classes. I'll tell you what: three science courses with labs in two months on two different ends of the city during a super hot summer = way too much work, commuting, and sweat. But I'm done! In only two months! Now I am happy, and I still have a little bit left of the summer to enjoy.

It turns out that organic chemistry is not quite as interesting as you may have always imagined, and anatomy and physiology is (are?) wildly interesting. I mean really nutsto fascinating. Our bodies are incredible. You know about all your organs and such, but the tiny stuff, how we work at the cellular level...wow. We should all have to take A&P at some point. I mean, it's only the subject of our own bodies. Might be something many of us would find useful to know about.

You suspected that I may have abandoned the blog for good, didn't you? Well, I didn't. I am very happy to say that now that my summer of tests is over I'm back to blogging (and to work), and there are several things I have been eager to post about, #1 being the beautiful vegetables from my Community Supported Agriculture share. In the first weeks it was a lot of lettuce. Then it was a lot of squash. I hear it now will be a lot of tomatoes, which is quite wonderful. Take a look at my pretties:

June 20, 2011


In the past three weeks, I have taken 2 tests and 4 quizzes, done 14 labs, and read 8 chapters of anatomy and physiology and 6 chapters of organic chemistry. Whose idea was it for me to take two classes with labs during the first half of the summer? And then another one and the GRE in the second half? While it's a bit intense at the moment, I'm going to feel much better about all this August 4, when I'll have knocked out my last three classes with labs and taken the GRE.

So, needless to say, I haven't been able to cook much. I've accepted that I don't have a spare moment to think about anything other than organic compounds and the skeletal system and such, which means that there's no time for cooking or blogging. I really miss both, and will start them up again in August. Please check back in with me then. In the meantime, wish me luck!

June 2, 2011

Madness, Thy Name Is Roast Chicken


It's hot. I have started my first summer class, which, in addition to three hours of lab and two hours of lecture a day, involves a significant amount of walking, a mysteriously heavy backpack, and lots and lots of sweat. Lots. And lots. Of sweat. Also, the need for better deodorant.

Today I don't have to sweat profusely while lugging an organic chemistry book to and fro. So, of course, I'm going to roast a chicken. What better way to enjoy a day out of the sun than to heat up the kitchen? And what else do I have to do today anyway? Somehow on my second-to-last day of work before taking a 6-week break to knock out two of my grad school prerequisites I find my afternoon work-free. I mean, I could study for my chemistry final on Monday or my first organic chemistry test next Thursday, but I just cannot waste that darn chicken. It's not cooking itself, though it will be rotting itself if I don't intervene soon.

We won't even be eating it for dinner tonight because we're going to see... wait for it, you're going to be jealous... Brian Greene speak at the World Science Festival. I know. Don't be a hater just because it's sold out and you don't have tickets. Graybeard might have to work, so maybe you can come with me to hear about The Dark Side of the Universe:

May 25, 2011

No Portobello Mushroom Fajita Left Behind

In case you haven't heard, the rapture has been postponed until October 21st. So. Just in case you missed out on wrecking havoc on your last day on which to repent, you'll have another shot come October. Check out this list of things to do on the day before the rapture. This is the one that I want to do: "Go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and touch the Van Gogh works’ thick, bumpy gobs of paint."

Once I almost touched a Monet, but Graybeard, who was my boyfriend at the time, told me that he would break up with me if I did. It was only a crappy Monet, all brown and kinda ugly, hanging on the wall at One If By Land, Two If By Sea, which we went to one night during Restaurant Week. Graybeard seemed to think that I was intoxicated, as the only reservations we could get were for 10pm and so to kill time we had two drinks on empty stomachs beforehand. But as I tell him to this day, I still want to touch a Monet. And now we're married, so I don't have to behave myself anymore. It's not like he can leave me and tell people that it's because I touched a Monet. So. Next October, before I go to church, I might be stopping by the Met, where there are not only Van Goghs, but also Monets. Meet me there. You know you want to touch one too.

May 20, 2011

Gimme a Slice

Quite a few years ago my younger brother (but not the youngest), Don, was dating this girl, who we'll call Shelly. Shelly was a lovely girl, and our family liked her a lot. One day Don decided to bring Shelly to New York. I was excited; I love Don, and I love it when he visits. In my first year and a half in NYC he must’ve visited me six times, and we always had a great time. The Upper East Side studio I lived in then was a decent size for a studio, and I always welcomed visitors to stay with me on the air mattress that constantly had to be replaced because Cosmos was excessively fond of sinking his claws into it.

May 10, 2011

Indian-Spiced Chicken and Asparagus

See, I told you I would post recipes again! This is another one from EatingWell. It's spring, and that means asparagus, and lots of it. I've been reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, and she talks about asparagus in a way that makes me green with asparagus envy. I first grew to love asparagus as a kid when my grandma made it--straight out of a can and soggy, covered with cheese sauce. Delicious. Or so I thought at the time. When I first tried fresh asparagus I couldn't believe it was the same vegetable. Now that my taste buds are a bit more developed, I wonder how somebody could do such a thing to such wonderful vegetable (as in the people who canned it, not Grandma). It deserves to be crisp and green, like spring itself. It was time to make Indian-Spiced Chicken and Asparagus.

May 9, 2011

Natalie and the Boots (very specific Giveaway for women who wear size 7.5 boots!)

Natalie was my best friend at St. Paul's elementary school. She was the nicest, prettiest girl in my class, and I wanted to be just like her. Even though Russ, the boy I had a crush on (who had one leg shorter than the other), had a huge crush on her, I couldn't hold it against her. She was such a great girl.

In fourth grade, my dad's company transferred him from Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Detroit, so off we went. Natalie and I wrote to each other for a while, but eventually fell out of touch. But I never forgot her.

May 6, 2011

Introducing Cosmos

I think many of you have met my miraculous kitten Cosmos, but for those who you who haven't, I would like to introduce you. This is Cosmos:

He does cute things like glare at me when I take pictures of him:

May 5, 2011

I Lied

I can post more pictures of flowers, and I will. They're just too pretty not to share with you. But it's for the tulips, and our souls, so it's okay.

May 4, 2011

Keukenhof: Tulip Heaven (Heaven, I tell you!)

I planned to write about my recent trip to Berlin and Amsterdam in semi-great detail and in the order in which it occurred, but it turned out that it's hard to blog while sightseeing, and then as I soon as I returned home I dove right into studying for my chemistry test, which was last Sunday (and that I think I did very well on, thanks for asking). Now I have a minute to blog, and I don't want to think about museums on a cold day in Berlin, I want to look at pictures of flowers.

Something you should know about me: I love flowers. Love. I'm not sure whether you've ever watched the fourth hour of The Today Show. If you have, you've probably seen Hoda Kotb's reaction when they play a song from her iPod. At the opening chords of any song that she likes it's like they've flipped a switch on her back, and she's instantly happy. A huge smile appears on her face and she's immediately dancing in her chair and snapping her fingers. It's a lovely thing to behold (even though sometimes her song preferences are more endearingly adorable than actually good).

Flowers make me happy like that. I dance when I see them. (Though my dancing is of the internal variety.) In The Netherlands I went to one of the most wonderful places I've ever been: the flower show at Kuekenof. It's only open for two months a year in the spring, and I'm so fortunate that we were there during that time. I want to live there. From now on, for two months a year, you can find me in Holland. I won't have an exact address, as I imagine that nobody would let me actually live in the park, so I'll have to hide in the flowerbeds at closing time, which I am perfectly willing to do (though Graybeard might take some convincing, as I'm fairly certain that his insides don't dance at the thought of waking up in a bed of tulips).

April 28, 2011

Cookies Cream - Best Restaurant in Berlin

My friend Robin, who somehow always knows the absolute coolest places to go, recommended Cookies Cream for dinner in Berlin. She doesn't even live in Berlin, never has, and yet she sent us to the coolest place we went to on our trip with the best food. I don't know how she does that.

Cookies Cream is located in an alley. In her article in The New York Times, Gisela Williams describes it well: "Finding Cookies Cream is tricky. This upscale restaurant is tucked at the end of a garbage-filled alleyway behind the Westin Grand Hotel, upstairs from a club called Cookies." If you want to see this for yourself, go to their website and follow the dots. That's exactly the path we took. Good thing we were forewarned or we would have turned around. And good thing we didn't turn around, because the food was fantastic.

April 26, 2011

Berlin Day 3 - Sachsenhausen concentration camp

On day 3 in Berlin we toured the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Be warned, this post contains some grisly details, so skip it if you're not up for that today.

The camp is outside of Oranienburg, which is a small town a short train ride from Berlin. We arrived at the same train station that prisoners arrived at from Berlin.

The camp is a 15-minute walk through town.

April 19, 2011

As it turns out...

it's hard to blog during vacation, even just to post pictures. Right now we're in Amsterdam. What a crazy city. We got lucky and the weather has turned beautiful. Perfect walking-around weather, though the bright sun makes it hard to take great pictures because of the shadow. I'm learning so much about photography, and I will post pictures when I get home this weekend. Until then, I hope you're enjoying your week!

April 16, 2011

Berlin - Day 2

Okay, no stories this time. I did not get a nap in yesterday or get to read more of The Hunger Games, so I'll just post pictures for now and label them, and tell stories later.

Day 2 we did a walking tour. We started off by checking out Museumsinsel (Museum Island), which is an island full of museums, where the city was originally established. This is the Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery):


Our tour guide said that though this, and many other buildings, look super old, it's really been rebuilt after the war. Our guide said that you call tell which parts of buildings are the originals by the bullet holes; all of the original building foundations have bullet holes. At first they were left because the city could not afford to fix them, and then they were left so that the city would never forget what happened to cause them. They take the history here very seriously. It's actually against the law to deny that the holocaust happened, to do the Nazi salute in public, or to wear or display the swastika.

April 14, 2011

Guten tag! May I offer you some currywurst?

I apologize, San Francisco. It was me, not you. Apparently I bring the rain. When Graybeard and I got to Berlin yesterday morning, it was gray and rainy. When we got up this morning, it was gray and rainy. When we looked at the weather report for the rest of our trip, we saw that it will be gray and rainy. But! After we leave here at 7am on Monday morning, it will no longer be gray and rainy! Good for you, Berlin. You deserve some nice weather, you're a neat place to visit.

Here are a few pictures of our travels so far.

We took an overnight flight and arrived at 10am (4am body time). We were sleepy. So we checked into our hotel near Alexanderplatz early, and we slept. That felt good. Then we got up and wandered. It was only a 10-minute walk to Hackescher Markt where, according to Rick Steves' Berlin guidebook, "The brick trestle supporting the train track is a classic example of the city's Brandenburg New-Gothic brickwork" and "Most of the brick archways are filled with hip shops." There was tons of outdoor seating, which there is all over the city, and it must be a lively place to be in nice weather.

Then we wandered some more, and came upon the following church. But we didn't know anything about it, and we kept going.

April 7, 2011

Quick note to my email subscribers

Dear blog email subscribers,

You've probably noticed that the format of the email notifications of my blog posts has changed. The emails now contain a truncated post, but you can click on the post title in the email, which is a link that will take you to the full blog posting.

Thanks so much for reading and subscribing! I really, really appreciate your support!


Spring Break is almost here! You know what that means: time for sauerkraut

When I lived with my best friend Rachel, who is a New York City teacher, the first day of school each year she would come home, pull out her calendar, and start marking down her days off, listing them out loud right in front of my dreadfully jealous ears: Labor Day, two days off for Rosh Hashanah, Columbus Day, Veteran's Day!, Thanksgiving, a week for Christmas, New Year's, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Winter Break (it's like spring break, only it's in addition to it), Washington's Birthday!, Spring Break, Good Friday, and Memorial Day. And on top of that the entire summer off.

I get seven paid holidays a year and 10 days of vacation.

In the beginning of the school years I always contemplated becoming a teacher.

That idea quickly dissipated as the school year got going. (Though it did rematerialize on Rosh Hashanah and Veteran's Day.) Rachel was the only 20-something I knew who couldn't wait to go to bed early on a week night because she was so exhausted. She was up hours before me, on her feet all day, and dealing with rebellious teenagers with lots of 'tude. Sounds unfun.

April 6, 2011

The Inspired Palo Alto

Does it mean that I’m not hip if I like Palo Alto better than San Francisco? Even in the rain I loved Palo Alto. I think it was the trees that really won me over, and the thought of Graybeard making me freshly squeezed orange juice every morning using just-picked oranges from our backyard trees, then cooking me an extravagant breakfast, after massaging my feet and mowing the lawn shirtless, of course. (What’s that, Graybeard? I can’t quite hear you. Oh, well, I’m sure it’s nothing important.)

Oh Palo Alto: Ye of the exhilarated trees:

April 2, 2011

Radioactive rain be damned (or: I just signed up for a CSA)

And I am so excited.

CSA stands for community supported agriculture, and it's when you pay a local farm (or group of farms) for a weekly delivery of their produce throughout the growing season. My vegetables will be grown at Stoneledge Farm in Leeds, NY. This will be Stoneledge Farm's 16th year doing CSA. My vegetables will be both organic and local, which makes my heart happy. Here are samples from Stoneledge Farm's website of what the deliveries will contain each week:

Spring vegetable share (sample)
Garlic Scapes - 6
Bok Choi - 1 head
Perpetual Spinach - 1 bunch
Chives - 1 bunch
Red Sails, Red Leaf Lettuce - 1 head
Escarole - 1 head
Greek Oregano - 1 bunch
Sugar Snap Peas - 1 pound

March 31, 2011

Radioactive Milk (or: It's A Good Time to Be a Carnivorous Vegan)

Trace amounts of radiation from Japan have been found in milk in California and Washington. Not to worry though. The radioactive iodine would have to be 5000 times higher than current levels for authorities to intervene. A little radioactive iodine in milk never hurt anyone. (That we know of. Yet.) You might just want to cut back on it for a while though.

There is also radiation in the rain water on the East Coast. Don't worry about that either, because it's only a little bit, and that's all we're going to get, right? I mean, everything's totally under control in Japan now, so the wind will stop carrying radiation over our way in a couple of days.

March 29, 2011

March Madness and Bok Choy

A few years ago Graybeard told me that people who are not into basketball (a.k.a., girls) have just as much of a chance of winning the March Madness brackets as people who are into basketball (i.e., guys) because each team plays only one game, so there are lots of upsets. He said that girls pick teams by color or mascot, or school we've attended or some such thing. Apparently he's not the only one who thinks that: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/16/girls-guide-to-march-madness_n_836795.html.

This sage advice from Graybeard emboldened me to do my first bracket a few years ago, selecting by just that criteria, not even glancing at the seeds. I picked Texas, my alma matter, to win it all. And I came in last place.

Last year I wised up. I picked a little bit more by seed, in addition to color, and had Texas going almost all the way to the end, but not quite. I picked a number one seed to win it all, but I had tried to pick so many upsets along the way that I was tied for last place the entire time. Until the very last game, that is, when I won. Apparently nobody else in my bracket had picked Duke to take it. Suckers. $318 dollars in my pocket, thank you very much, and bragging rights that I have used with irrelevant abandon.

March 25, 2011

San Francisco Eats: Burma Superstar!

Burma Superstar. "Yikes," I thought when I first heard that name. How good can a place be with such a ridiculous name?

After eating there, I now know the answer to that question: pretty darn freaking good. The name fits the place and the food perfectly, I now understand, and I even feel that it deserves an added exclamation point.

On the one afternoon that Graybeard had a couple of hours for sightseeing, we went down to Fisherman's Wharf and did a wine tasting in Ghiradelli Square, where the bartender told us about Burma Superstar. So when a guy standing next to us chimed in with his glowing review, we were sold. We canceled our reservations for Zuni, yet another place with New American food, and decided to go to Burma Superstar! instead.

Join the Rally for the Right to Know - Tomorrow, Saturday, March 26th

I received this email yesterday from the Center for Food Safety:

"The United States may soon be the only country in the world that does not require labeling of genetically engineered food. In Spring 2000, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that labeling of GE foods would remain voluntary, even though there was no indication that any company would voluntarily label genetically engineered foods--and in the 11 years since, none have. Meanwhile, companies who have eliminated GE ingredients and added 'NON-GMO' labels have faced burdensome regulations, while the FDA lets other companies continue to use GE ingredients in secret. It is time to stand up and demand mandatory labeling of GE foods!

March 24, 2011

San Francisco Eats: Quince

The next night was Quince, where Graybeard smothered my creative inclinations. He wouldn't let me take pictures. It was a super fancy place, and I would've been embarrassed to pull out my camera anyway, so I didn't object. The decor: brown. Seriously, San Fran, what is up with all that brown? However, it was very elegant, with super high ceilings, and a hushed, classy atmosphere. I'm afraid we were a bit underdressed, with our layers of sweat jackets over our sweaters, under our inadequate coats (San Fran: weather! Work on it.) Yet even as they watched us peel off all the layers to prove that we were not total bums, they treated us like we owned the place.

The food, however: too fancy. They tried too hard to make it really complicated and different and yet tiny, and I wasn't impressed. It was fine. I would've preferred ribs and potato salad. However, the service was incredible, and the atmosphere, though brown, was very elegant. The complimentary amuse bouche and the free dessert bites were the best parts. If I could have had those in meal-sized portions, this would be a glowing review. Of course, they were all composed almost completely of milk products, so of course they were amazing, and I couldn't have ordered them anyway.

Next up, our last, and best meal in San Francisco: Burma Superstar!

March 22, 2011

San Francisco Eats: Radius

Our second night in San Francisco we were really excited to go to Radius in SOMA, which sources all of its food from within a 100-mile radius of the restaurant. Awesome.

Radius, though not sharing the same owners at Cotogna, did share the simple and brown decor. What's with the brown, San Fran?

We ordered the oysters (yum), and even made our friend Doug try one. It's fun making people eat oysters. We always think that they are going to have a slightly transformative experience, like we did when first trying them. I swear, oysters just make me feel better somehow. (Maybe I'm just really proud of myself for daring to put such a disgusting looking creature in my mouth?) Anyway, no one ever does transform into a glowing ball of light in front of us. Why? Thoughts on oysters? Love them? Hate them? Do they make anyone else feel just a little bit inexplicably happier?

San Francisco Eats: Contagna

Contagna came highly recommended to us by one of Graybeard's coworkers, so we had great expectations. The decor was brown. As it turned out, every single restaurant we went to for dinner in San Fran was in shades of brown. Granted, two had the same owners, so presumably the same designers. At Contogna it worked though. There are huge windows, simple decor, and great lighting, all of which somehow made people the decorations, which was kind of a cool effect. We could only get reservations on a Thursday night for 10:30pm (expectations mounting... ).

Our hotel was on Nobb Hill and, not knowing how to get around in SF without a car, we decided that Contagna was close enough to walk to, and would give us a peek at Chinatown. The trek was uphill both ways in the rain (literally). Holy geez, those hills are steep.

As for the food, we were not impressed. Service wasn't that great. The food was actually kind of not good. However, Graybeard was mesmerized by the wood-burning oven. So there was that.

This was my unmemorable dish:

March 19, 2011

San Francisco Treats

Despite its weather, San Francisco does have some pretty great things going for it. I came upon the following on my trip last month:

1. Vegan doughnuts.

I found these in the Ferry Building Marketplace, which is like Chelsea Market in NYC. Pepples Organic Donuts make these beauties. I had the one on the bottom left in the above picture. It tasted just like a cinnamon roll, only the texture was denser--more bready. So pretty.

March 16, 2011

Crisis in Japan

I was moments away from purchasing plane tickets to visit my big brother and sister-in-law JC in Japan when news of the earthquake and tsunami arrived. Big Brother and JC live in Okinawa, where Big Bro is an officer in the Air Force. We were so looking forward to seeing them and getting to experience such a foreign place with our family, who we miss very much after their move across the world. Our plan was to start in Tokyo and wander around a bit, probably to Kyoto, possibly to Nara, and then arrive in Okinawa just as BB and JC got back from their own tour of the mainland. Of course that has all changed.

Normally when such disasters happen I watch the news and my heart breaks for the people in the disaster zone, but there’s a certain remove. The people are so far away, in a place I’ve never been, and after I shut off the TV the news doesn’t stay at the forefront of my mind. This time, however, my family is there. And while they’re hundreds of miles southwest of the epicenter of the earthquake and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (thank God), the deteriorating conditions there are frightening, and I’d rather that they be much farther way than they are. I cannot stop watching the news coverage and thinking about them.

So I’m learning a lot these days about how nuclear power plants function, as I'm sure you are too, and about the Japanese people and their remarkable dignity in the face of such devastation and looming catastrophe. There is a word for this, I learned today: gaman. “Gaman is a Japanese word for endurance with grace and dignity in the face of what seems unbearable.” There is no rioting, no fights, no apparent panic or chaos. I am learning so much about the Japanese during this crisis, and I am in such awe, and have such a respect for them, for their gaman in response to what they must now endure, the extent of which is still unknown, but looking grimmer by the day. People have lost their families and their homes, their workplaces. Many of them have nowhere to go, and do not know what to do. And then there are the people as far away as Tokyo, who have to face the decision of whether to leave their homes, bring their children to a safer place, or stay, iodine pills on hand, and hope that the government is watching out for them, telling them everything they need to know to make an informed decision, not waiting until it's too late for them to escape.

If it were me, I’d take my gaman, iodine pills, personal radiation detector, and a suitcase full of the things I couldn’t bear to lose and go on a long vacation and hope for the best but plan for the worst. But where can they go? Japan is not a huge island, and they can’t just hop in a car and drive to the next country over, leaving their jobs and all their possessions, not knowing whether they’ll ever be able to return.

They’re saying on CNN that people have not been donating as much to Japan during this crisis as to other recent disaster zones elsewhere. Apparently in the first four days after hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and after the earthquake in Haiti, much more money had been raised for disaster relief, probably because Japan is an industrialized country, and we think that they can afford to take care of their people. But the government has its hands full right now, and the Red Cross and other non-profits can get in there and make a real difference. Let's all give if we can, and pray if we can’t.

March 11, 2011

Hell has frozen over (so let's eat asparagus rollups)

You mean you didn't notice? You assumed that the cold weather last Saturday was just another winter's day? Well it wasn't. It was slightly colder, due to hell freezing over and all: Graybeard cooked me dinner.

Never had this been done. I didn't think it could be done. In five years it had never happened. Now, Graybeard is good at everything (except drawing, as I like to remind him in order to keep his head small enough to be supported by his neck). However, very early in our relationship he laid the groundwork for shucking all kitchen duties by asking me whether canned corn needs to be refrigerated. As in, an unopened can of corn. I was incredulous at his lack of knowledge of all things kitchen, and he has perpetuated the ruse with great tenacity, asking me questions such as "How do I heat up this soup?", "How do I defrost an English muffin?", and "Why is it cold inside of a refrigerator? And what's a refrigerator anyway?" (Though it is possible that I'm remembering that last one wrong.)

To Graybeard's credit, he has heated up frozen burritos all by himself, and occasionally he pours his own cereal.

Once, about a year ago, his facade did start to crack when we discovered Diaya. One day he decided that he wanted a grilled (vegan)cheese sandwich badly enough to make one himself when I was busy. The sandwich looked so good that I asked him to make me one too. And it was fantastic. He (vegan)buttered both sides and somehow grilled it to golden perfection. At the time I thought it was a fluke, beginner's luck, as a grilled cheese sandwich is relatively easy to make. Though it was then that I began to suspect that I was being duped...

And now I know I was. This Valentine's Day we were too busy packing for our San Francisco trip to celebrate, so we postponed it until last Saturday. Instead of taking me out to dinner, Graybeard decided to cook for me. Big mistake. The remains of the facade have crumbled. He is a fantastic cook and now I know it.

So in this installment of The Carnivorous Vegan I will be sharing Graybeard's recipes. He started with an appetizer:

Prosciutto and melon, which we ate almost every night during our honeymoon in Italy. Ingenious. Simple, yet fancy and tasty, calling to mind memories of death-defying rides up winding mountain roads in Positano, worth it to sit high in the hills overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea eating prosciutto y melon. All he needed to make this was prosciutto, cantaloupe, and a knife.

And then a second appetizer:

Asparagus rollups. There were more, but we ate them. Graybeard even adapted a recipe to make it dairy-free, which I've included below. He can't remember exactly how much he used of everything, so adjust the recipe to your own taste.

Then a salad:

You can't see them, but in the salad are cranberries and pecans.

Simple, yet delicious, marinated chicken, steamed broccoli, and a baked potato.

Best Valentine's Day ever. I felt so doted upon. It was wonderful to be cooked for by my sweetie pie. Graybeard went a little overboard with the amount of food, but that just meant leftovers to be enjoyed the next day.

Oh, Graybeard. Just keep in mind that you're not good at drawing, okay? And can Sundays be your night to cook from now on?

Asparagus Rollups

1 dozen asparagus spears
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 Tbsp fresh parsely
2 Tbsp fresh basil
pinch of crushed red pepper
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
12 thin slices of prosciutto

Bend the asparagus toward the end until it snaps and discard the bottom part. Steam the asparagus until tender, about 5 minutes.

In a food processor, blend garlic, parsley, basil, and crushed red pepper, adding olive oil a little at a time until the mixture becomes paste-like. Some small chunks are okay.

Lay out the slices of prosciutto, and spread about 1 tsp paste on each one. Roll one slice around each asparagus spear. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

For you dairy eaters, this recipe also called for 2 Tbsp of Parmesan cheese to be blended into the mixture, and 12 slices of provolone cheese, which you lay on top of the prosciutto and spread the paste on before rolling around the asparagus.

Lemon Chicken Marinade

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 Tbsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, chopped

Put everything into a food processor until well blended. The mixture will be opaque and kind of thick. Marinade the chicken in the mixture for 4-8 hours. Simple, yet very flavorful.

March 8, 2011

How Sweet It Is

...to know what to do with my brick of brown sugar. Aunt J. and my sister-in-law S.C. have not only provided me with ideas about how to prevent brick building, but also about what to do about my current brick:
  • Put it in the microwave until it becomes moist and soft (while watching it carefully). Easy!
  • Use Terra Cotta brown sugar disks (http://www.brownsugardiscs.com/shopfront.htm). Intriguing! I might just have to try one.
To prevent the need for either of those, they recommend the following:
  • Put a slice of bread in with the brown sugar.
  • Keep your BS in an airtight zip top bag. (And your brown sugar too.)
  • Put the bags in the freezer.
  • Toss a couple of large marshmallows in with the BS.
In the past I've tried adding one marshmallow in what was presumably an airtight resealable bag and it didn't work. However, NYC apartments are hot and dry in the winter, so maybe a marshmallow or zip top bag will do the trick in a more humid climate, like Texas, ya'll.

Thanks for the great ideas, Aunt J. and S.C.! (P.S. What would you ladies like me to call you on here anyway)?

March 1, 2011

Super Easy Apple Cake

When I was a tween (though it wasn't called that at the time), I realized that everyone collected something: baseball cards, sea shells, coins, tee-shirts from the Hardrock Cafe, stickers, posters, baseball caps, toe nail clippings. Or, if you're Graybeard, bellybutton lint. I decided that I needed to collect something too. But I only had my baby-sitting money, and I was saving that up. (For what, I didn't know at the time.) I didn't want to spend money on junk just for the sake of collecting something, so I decided to collect movie tickets; I was a kid, and what else do kids do but go to the movies? By the end of high school my senior class mug was filled with movie tickets. Now what? Sure, I had quite a collection, but I never looked at them and didn't care about them. (I had briefly collected Chris O'Donnell posters after seeing Scent of a Woman, but I didn't buy enough Bop magazines for my pictures of him to count as a collection.) I clearly didn't get the rationale for collecting things.

Now, however, I get it. I collect recipes, and they provide me with wonderful meal after wonderful meal. As a bonus, each recipe fondly calls to mind the person and story that brought it to me each time that I make it. This recipe for Apple Cake came to me through "Rachel" (my best friend's bar name, when she didn't want guys to know her real name), which came to her from her mom, Sue. What a boon. Thanks, Sue!

I've made this many times for my in-laws (again, such a negative-sounding word, for such lovely people. Can anyone think of a more positive substitute?), and it is their most-requested treat. Until last week, I made it exactly according to Sue's recipe. Lat weekend, however, I discovered in the last hour that I had only ¼ cup of sugar, not the 1 cup called for. So I substituted brown sugar for the rest, and it turned out wonderfully. From now on, brown sugar it is, even though the darn stuff always gets hard as a rock in my cupboard, and I end up smashing it to bits with whatever happens to be the heaviest item in my kitchen, most likely seriously alarming my neighbors. Worth it. Though if anyone knows of a way to keep brown sugar moist for an extended period of time, please share.

Super Easy Apple Cake

½ cup (1 stick) butter (or Earth Balance if you're milk-free)
1 cup brown sugar (white sugar is also fine)
1 egg
1½ cups whole wheat flour (white is fine)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp salt
2½ cups chopped Granny Smith apples (about 1½ medium-sized apples) (Most should be finely chopped, but I like to leave about ½ cup in slightly larger chunks.)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a bowl, cream butter and sugar.

3. Beat in the egg.

4. Thoroughly stir together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

5. Add the dry mixture to the butter and sugar mixture a little at a time until well blended.

6. Mix in apples. I find that this easiest to do with my hands. It seems like a whole lot of apples, but, trust me, it works. They make the cake super moist.

7. Put batter into a 9x9x2-inch baking dish.

8. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

For you weird-o milk eaters out there, Sue says to serve this with whipped cream or ice cream, though I don’t think it needs it.

February 24, 2011

Have kids with food allergies? Check out KiDECALS

I just saw these KiDECALS on The Today Show. They're fun decals that you can personalize and stick on your kids' lunch boxes and containers when you send them off to school or to a play date. They can go through the dishwasher, and are also removable. What a fantastic idea for parents of kids with food allergies!

February 23, 2011

San Francisco, why you gotta be so cold?

Why did no one ever tell me that California is a cold, gray, dreary place where it rains non-stop every day? I am back from a week in California—my very first visit ever—and someone should’ve told me to bring my rain gear, not to mention my heaviest winter coat and boots. Yes, I checked the weather before heading out to Cali and saw that the high was in the 50s and low in the 40s the entire time, but I packed a few short-sleeved shirts anyway. Because I was going to California. High in the low 50s can’t mean the same thing there, I thought. It must be a warm 50 degrees. Well, just in case you were wondering, 50 degrees does in fact mean the same thing in CA as it does in NY. I know. What the crap? I was in CA and I was cold the entire time.

The average monthly high for San Francisco, it turns out, is in the 60s. Which explains why no one wore a proper coat (raincoats and fleeces are not appropriate for 50-degree weather) and why it’s just as cold inside as outside, and everyone keeps their jackets on inside—they have to get used to the cold, or they would have heat on all year long, and that would get expensive. So they must just get used to being kind of cold all year long. Sounds real amazing, San Francisco. And to think that people talk about your weather like it’s a good thing.

Also, spandex. Really? Is spandex appropriate for 50-degree weather? Is spandex appropriate for any weather? Then why does everyone in SF wear it? Maybe because they have to walk up those massive hills, and as their reward they feel that it’s their right to show off their shapely glutes and thighs. I will give them that. Everyone looks fit in SF.

Those fit people in CA are also very concerned about the environment and health. I saw a banner on a light pole that said “Sustainability: A San Francisco State of Mind.” How cool is that?

Even cooler: on the menu at One Market, there sits a little v next to all dishes that are vegetarian. Even better, there is a little vg next to all dishes that are vegan! And a note saying that other items can be prepared vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free! Seriously. This is my dream for the future. Restaurants where all food allergies, intolerances, and preferences are willingly accommodated. This wasn’t some hippie joint in the Mission either, it was a Michelin-rated restaurant in the Financial District! You do not need me to tell you how cool that is.

We had a lunch of ahi tuna burgers with mizuna and shaved fennel salad with saffron aioli (so good), roasted Brussels sprouts with applewood-smoked bacon, and tater tots. Yum.

So, while CA may be a cold, dark place, the inadequately coated spandexed people seem pretty cool, and I will be back.

February 10, 2011

Double Dipping

Here's a picture of the Sun-Dried Tomato dip that I made for Super Bowl Sunday. So good.

February 9, 2011

It's My (brother's) 30th Birthday!

I didn’t make it to my final Restaurant Week destination. Graybeard and I had too much to do, what with my baby brother coming into town for the weekend to celebrate the demise of his youth. As much as I wanted it to, my apartment wasn't cleaning itself. Plus, 30 is a big birthday, so we had to put up streamers and a banner, like Mom always did for us growing up.

And he had to have a cake.

Don't tell Baby Bro, who is a carnivorous non-vegan, but that cake is milk-free, made from a mix, courtesy of Dr Oetker. The icing too. I didn't have time to bake a cake from scratch, so I found organic cake and icing mixes that miraculously had no milk in the ingredients, and then when I made it I, of course, substituted rice milk for milk and Earth Balance for butter. The cake didn't blow my mind, but it is great to have cake and icing mix options--organic no less!--for when time is short. We had so much food on Super Bowl Sunday that the cake was really just a token anyway, though Baby Bro did have a huge piece.

Everyone should have cake on his birthday, and homemade (even from a box) is the best kind. Besides, I owe Baby Bro that, as when we lived together when he was in college (and I was just out of it), he attempted to make me a birthday cake. It didn't make it out of the pan in one piece (or two, or three, or four...), but he attempted to frost it anyway, yellow crumbs mixed with the chocolate frosting, and left a note next to it before he went to class that said, "Well, I tried. Happy Birthday anyway." How cute is that?

February 4, 2011

Super Bowl Sunday

Despite the Jets losing the AFC Championship game, we will still watch the Super Bowl this Sunday because we're Americans. There are still going to be commercials, you know, and this is the only day of the year since I've had a DVR on which that is a good thing. So this year we've invited a few people over and, before and then after my 3-hour chemistry class, I will put together the following spread:
  • Guacamole with tortilla chips
  • Pigs in blankets
  • Sun-dried tomato dip with crackers and veggies
  • Mom's chili
  • Potato chips
  • Beer
The sun-dried tomato dip and veggies are relatively healthy, and the rest is not, but it's Super Bowl Sunday, and that's a great excuse to stuff our faces with junk and a few carrots. Graybeard has filled the fridge with beer, we have more chips than any household should, and the Kosher (aka, dairy-free because of the meat) pigs in blankets, and I'll make the sun-dried tomato dip tomorrow and chop the veggies, then Sunday morning I'll get the chili going in a slow cooker before learning about energy and matter, and then I'll make the guacamole fresh when people start arriving. The Sun-Dried Tomato dip is a super quick and easy dip that you're going to want to try, adapted to be dairy-free from Texas Ties: Recipes and Remembrances from the Junior League of North Harris County, Inc., published in 1997, which was given to me as a gift by my wonderful friends Mary and Lauren when they came to visit me too long ago in Austin. Just about everything I make from that cookbook is amazing, and you would do yourself a favor to get your hands on it.

Sun-Dried Tomato Dip

2 cups drained garbanzo beans (aka, chickpeas) (about one 15 oz can
1 cup drained sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I use vegan mayo)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried basil (or a bit more fresh, if you have it)
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

Dump all the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. Scoop the dip into a bowl and chill, covered, for a couple of hours. Garnish with chopped sun-dried tomatoes and serve with crackers (I like cracked pepper water table crackers, but any kind will do), carrots, and celery.

See, easy! Only one note of caution: You need a good food processor for this. A wimpy one will not do.

February 3, 2011

Warning: Do Not, I Repeat, Do Not Add Peas

To the Curried Chicken Thighs with (fake) Buttery Croutons, of course. You can add them to other things, if you'd like. The Curried Chicken Thighs were so good the first time that I had to make them again. When I made them previously, I did not have peas, as the EatingWell recipe called for, so I threw in carrots instead. The carrots didn't really do anything for the dish, so this time I added an entire bag of frozen peas, as per the original recipe. Big mistake. Don't get me wrong, I like peas very much, they just don't work in this dish. The peas overwhelmed the rich flavor of the curry. If I had made the recipe with peas for the first time I would not have made it again. As it stands, I lucked out, and know now to eat my veggies on the side of that dish, not in it.

This time I also took a picture:

So many peas. Don't use them.

February 2, 2011

Bocca: The Verdict

“Bonjour,” said the friendly waiter as he handed cousin Stephanie and me menus at Bocca, an Italian restaurant. His heavy accent was not quite French, not quite Italian.

Considering that most of the Restaurant Week options looked like the cheese couldn’t be easily left out, I ordered the only non-cheesy-sounding choices. Maybe Bocca didn’t get the poster, or the bonjour-ing waiter didn’t get the message, but I don’t think my dairy allergy was taken seriously, as there was cheese sprinkled over the Tuscan bean and escarole soup that I ordered, and the soup tasted a bit creamy. It wasn’t that tasty anyway, so I only had a little. (Unfortunately for my immune system, I am a chicken about sending things back and making a stink. The movie Waiting about waiters doing nauseating things to annoying customers’ food, however unrealistic, put ideas in my head that I can’t shake. Don't watch it.)

The salmon was great. Yes, I order a lot of salmon—it’s usually cooked perfectly at nice restaurants, it’s great for you with all those omega-3s, and most importantly, it never comes with cheese on top. The delicious spaghetti squash on which it was served, however, tasted like it was cooked with a stick of butter. It was amazing, and I probably should’ve checked on that butter thing, but I didn’t.

As you perhaps can tell by now, when it comes to eating out, I am not militant about the ol’ milk allergy. I’m just not there yet. Please don't tell my allergist. This milk-free thing is still relatively new (okay, it’s been a couple of years now since I’ve had to face it, but you try giving up all traces of milk for even two days and you will see how hard it is), and eating out is tricky. Cooking at home is a breeze though, and luckily I love to do that. No dairy ever enters our apartment, unless we have people over, in which case we are willing to humor out guests with their silly cheeses.

Alongside the salmon was what looked and tasted like ambrosia fruit salad. Weird. (I had a tiny bite to try it. Who knows... it might have been a large glob of pinkish mayonnaise, in which case I could've enjoyed it. Much to the disgust of Graybeard, I love me some mayonnaise, even when it's vegan.) It must have been the “apple cider foam.” Is it just me, or does “foam” not sound appetizing? This ambrosia “foam” looked like soupy yogurt.

Further confusing us as to the origin of his strange accent, our waiter approvingly informed me that my sweater (red with a black argyle pattern down the front with a few black sequins) was “ooo, very Italian, yes, very,” adamantly nodding his head. Despite not being sure whether Italian sweaters are fashionable, I assumed that’s what he meant, and I liked him. Not that I can claim credit for my “very Italian” sweater, as it was a gift from my in-laws (such a negative sounding word, for such wonderful people), who, it would seem, are more fashionable than me. (Nobody ever tells me that the sweaters I pick out look Italian.)

Despite our waiter’s friendliness, when I asked to substitute a dairy-free sorbet for dessert, he informed me that there was none, without even double-checking. I would find that hard to believe, but he liked my sweater, so he would bring me dairy-free sorbet had there been any, right?

Ultimately, we decided the waiter was from the French-Italian boarder. Perhaps he was from the French side, which would explain him greeting us in French in an Italian restaurant, but he always thought the grass was greener on the other side of the border, which would explain him working in an Italian restaurant and admiring Italian sweaters. Or maybe he's Italian, but always thought that the French language sounded so much more romantic than Italian, so he speaks it whenever he can. Wherever he is from, he was unpretentious, and therefore Bocca felt unpretentious, and I like that about a place. What I could eat of the food was good, and I would go back and try my luck with the regular menu.

Note: As you may have noticed by now, I did not pull out my camera at dinner. I hope that you’ll forgive me. Please know that my next and final RW meal this winter will be with Graybeard, who has no choice but to accept me embarrassing him in public, least he want to appear unsupportive. He is a prince among men, so he wouldn’t do that to me, or to you, dear reader.

January 31, 2011

Just in Case

I just noticed that if I didn't post again until February (tomorrow), the archives of my first full month of blogging would have 13 posts. Forever. (Unless I decided to delete one, but why would I do that?) I'm slightly superstitious, and feel like that might put me off to a bad start. Why worry about it? Hence, this post.

Next Up: Bocca

Tonight: Second Restaurant Week dinner of the year, this time with cousin Stephanie at Bocca, an Italian joint in the Flatiron District. Now this is a RW menu:

Three options for appetizers, four for entrees, and three for desserts. That’s my kind of restaurant. I don’t know whether I’m up for embarrassing Steph by pulling out my camera and making her wait to dig in while I snap pictures of her food, so when reporting on tonight’s meal, the pictures may have to be in your mind. I don’t see my cousin often enough to risk her refusing to ever dine publicly with me again.

January 29, 2011

Nougatine at Jean Georges Restaurant: The Verdict

The menu for Restaurant Week 2011 at Nougatine at Jean Georges, according to their website:

I was going to order the tuna tartare, the salmon (I love sugar snap peas, and salmon is pretty good too), and that sour cherry soup… what in the world is that?! I planned to find out, even if I couldn’t have eaten it if it contained dairy. I would have had just one slurp. (I swear!)

But I couldn’t. Because this was the actual menu:

Granted, the website did say that menu items were subject to change. But really? You change EVERYTHING, except one dessert, and then don't even provide a second dessert option? Lame. Neither white bean soup nor shrimp measure up to tuna tartare, in my semi-humble opinion.

Good thing I informed the waitress that I can’t eat diary when ordering, because instead of the regular amuse-bouche she brought me the following:

While everyone else had a creamy shot and cheesy biscuit, what you see in my spoon was, basically, guacamole with chili oil and radishes on top. Delish. I love guacamole. Perhaps I’m easy to please when avocados are in the picture. The chili oil and crunch of the radishes were very nice.

In the glass was some sort of brothy concoction with black truffles “that we are serving in the main dining room,” as I was informed by the waitress, with barely suppressed snobbiness. Now that was interesting (not the suppressed snobbiness—I was getting used to that already—the black truffle concoction). I had never had truffles before (though I’ve tried a “truffle” oil that tasted like nothing, and a pasta dish “with truffles” that tasted kind of gross at a place that was too cheap to believably be serving truffles). The black truffle amuse-bouche tasted like something new. It was, as they say about truffles, "earthy," in an interesting, alluring way. I can’t quite compare it to anything else. I liked it though, and look forward to trying it again.

For my appetizer I had the white bean soup. The soup was standard, good, except when I got a bit of bacon and/or chili oil in a spoonful, which made it very good.

Already having my mind set on the salmon, I ordered this:

Though the waitress seemed ever so slightly put off when I informed her of my dairy allergy, she did seem to take it semi-seriously. Thanks be to posters! So she informed me that the salmon comes with some sort of dairy on top (no point in listening to the depressing details of what I can’t have—it’s easier that way), and I asked her to just leave that off. Even so, the salmon was excellent. Wonderfully, amazingly, perfectly cooked—somehow cooked all the way through but still juicy.

It was paired with carrots poached in (what tasted like) apple cider vinegar, with dollops of (what tasted like) olive tapenade and some kind of foie gras paste. The FG paste was delicious with the carrots, the olive tapenade a little bitter, and the carrots by themselves too tart from the vinegar. It was an odd pairing, the carrots and the salmon. Maybe the dollops of dairy tied it together. As for the green oily, herby stuff, I could not tell you what that was. Maybe cilantro pureed in oil? Maybe not. Whatever it was, it was nothing special.

For dessert I requested a non-dairy sorbet. I don’t know if you’re technically allowed to order off menu during RW, but sorbet must be cheaper than chocolate cake, right? (Which is what I asked the waitress when she balked a little at my request.) I’m pretty sure the sorbet (which tasted exactly like strawberry jelly) had milk in it. It was just too creamy. As my lactose intolerant Graybeard has taught me, when you give up milk for long enough, you start learning to detect its presence in foods—it’s hard to equal the rich creaminess of milk.

Overall, I would say that Nougatine broke even. The good and less-good balanced out, so I wouldn’t write it off forever, though it is not going on the top of my list for special occasions, at least not when I'm fortunate enough to have so many other incredible restaurants in the city, some of which even try to impress us philistines during Restaurant Week.