Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Beverage of Champions

Chocolate milk made with powdered Nesquik (the only way to drink chocolate milk, OBVIOUSLY). Please note that there is an "Adult" section on the Nesquik Web site that I'm kind of afraid to peruse...

Please don't make me post about my 7-11 dinners guys

So one of my students has been complaining to me about his public health class. One of the things he got up in arms about was the 'myth' that you can't eat well on a low budget, since fast food and crackers are inexpensive. Thinking about how expensive vegetables etc. are I was like, what are you talking about, vegetables are very expensive. Then he informed me that, just the evening prior he had bought a pound of kale for a dollar.

This exchange happened a couple of weeks ago and I've been thinking about it a lot since then, and I realized I could probably save a lot of money by cleaning up my at home eating habits. So today I am going to begin a new wave of inexpensive, yet wholesome home dining. I'm still working out a plan, so if you have any suggestions please share. Here's what I've come up with so far:
oatmeal + banana for breakfast every morning (under $1)
Frequent lunches: potatoes and onions (under $1)
beans and rice (under $1)
Simple pasta ($3)
Kale + Onion +Tempeh salad ($3-5)
Ramen (almost zero)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

good times great food

U-92...I mean uhhhh

So last night after a long and at least a-typical day for all of us, T, L, Z & I decided that a dinner party was in order. Having been convinced that I'd come down with the pig-flu for at least a couple of hours I insisted on salad being a major component of this dinner party, so that's what Z and I made. Whenever I make a salad now I have no choice but to make the awesome salad that has been discussed here several times. I convinced Z to let me use feta over Gorganzola, which was a rare victory. It was entirely gone after several people had gone back for a second helping, so I think that means it was well received. I think my final verdict is in on that and it really is best when it's about half arugula and half non-arugula.

To my great pleasure the other half of the meal was chicken burritos! Not only were they good, but I think I picked up some interesting tips for how to make them myself. Normally I rinse the gross off of the black beans, but they cooked them in a pot on the stove and, I have to say, it was really nice. They cut the chicken up smaller than I usually do, and that was great. Finally, and this is the big one, they used taco seasoning and it was great. I hope you're all ready for a tangentially related anecdote. As some of you probably know, K and I have made a lot of Mexican together. So a long time ago at the stoop we were making tempeh tacos and we realized we had forgotten the taco seasoning. We decided to make it up on our own with the various spices we had at our disposal, and it turned out magnificently. From that day on I have never used taco seasoning while cooking tacos because I am a poor person and I figured I could do just as good a job on my own. That might have changed last night. I'll be sure to let you guys know the next time I make tempeh tacos.

In any case, the meal and company were both delicious. I hope we can make these things more regular, because seriously, they're cheaper and better than going to a bar, movie, basically anything.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Budget Breakfast

I'm going to piggyback on mwr's "Recession Breakfast" as well as K's photographic evidence of why she hasn't posted in a long time...

Gigantic mug of coffee and a single S'More Pop Tart...I ran out of granola bars two days ago...

Hell, who needs a Kitchen? Street Food!

Ninth Avenue Food Festival in Hell's Kitchen, May 16-17:

Brain Food

Good morning, day-I-took-off-of-work-to-write-a-paper!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

this sums up why i haven't been posting lately. wine and a broken granola bar.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Find the hidden fork

Somebody's Gotta Do It...

Rut no more, SPFers! While it's true I'm as low on funds as the next person (I'd like to thank the dress department at Macy's and a weekend teeming with overpriced cocktails for this state of affairs), I've been doing my best not to fall into a pattern of old faithfuls.Yes, I could eat Curly's and Last Stop every day of my life, but sometimes a girl's got to change it up.

So that's exactly what I did on Friday evening when I headed to Caracas my lovely friend A and her gorgeous cocktail hat (a separate, fabulous entity). This was all A's doing, since she'd recently been introduced to the place and wanted to pay it forward. It's my understanding that the cuisine at Caracas is Venezualan, and the emphasis is on their arepas.

Arepas are impossible to describe, except to say that they are constructed from some type of bread made with corn. The bread is then stuffed with a number of delicious fillings, including meat, peppers, exotic cheeses, vegetables and even vaguely exotic plantains. There are even a few vegetarian options, and it seems relatively simply to make any of the offerings vegetarian or vegan by simply requesting that they hold the meat or cheese.

I'm generally tolerant of waiting for my food after I place my order because I understand that the cooking process takes time. However, I am rarely tolerant of waiting a long time for my order to be taken. Unfortunately, this was the case at Caracas. I tried to be understanding because it was quite busy and I didn't mind at all because I was busy chatting and catching up with A, but it was still annoying. What if we'd been in a hurry? The only other problem with this experience occurred when I discovered a smear of sauce UNDERNEATH the table by accidentally swiping my hand against it, so that was a pretty unpleasant situation.

Anyway, it's time to move on to the good stuff: the food. A and I split an order of tajadas, fried plantains with cheese. The cheese was crumbled and served in a small corresponding bowl, and the plaintains were fried to perfection. I loved the combination of the slight sweetness of the plantains with the cheese sprinkled on top. A happens to be vegan, which always works out well because that means more cheese for me! Yep, I ate it all.

A and I both ordered a La Jardinera arepa, which included eggplant, sundried tomatoes, carmelized onions and cheese (although A requested hers without cheese, naturally). It's almost impossible to explain what these bad boys tasted like. Physically it was almost reminiscent of a falafel, but it tasted more like some kind of barbecued sandwich or something, which was probably due to the filling. The texture of the bread is almost like cornbread, but the taste lacks the sweetness of cornbread. I'm completely unable to do it justice here, so suffice it to say that everyone should go try it. It's a mouthful of YUM.

And, since one of our poll excuses for being so lame is lack of funds, I find it necessary to point out that A's and my bill came to $17 for the two of us, and would have been even less if we hadn't gotten the appetizer. Each arepa was $6, and even though we ate inside I believe they also offer takeout and delivery options. So there we go. A new, cheap alternative for dinner plans if you find yourself near 7th Street.

An unrelated side note: After the aforementioned shopping spree and alcoholic endeavors of the weekend, my new budget permitted me to buy only the following groceries for the week: asparagus, grapes, orange juice, laundry detergent and a large pizza from Last Stop, the leftovers of which I intend to eat for dinner every night this week. Except tonight, because my friend L and I decided to make $0.50 ramen instead. I love New York.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Rutty Rut rut

I dunno guys, this pole seems a bit exaggerated. We're at a post a day average so far, right? That's about what we've had (aside from our initial outpouring last year, and a cheesy "fondue Feb.") Furthermore, we always seem to turn it up toward the end of the month for reasons I can't make sense of.

In any case, the title explains it all for me. My life, my cooking, even my eating out. Do you have any idea how many potatoes I eat? (Oh, and by the by, apparantly you can survive on those and milk, 50% of the nutrients are in the white interior to all of those who say it's all in the skin, and if you cook and then cool the suckers something like 17% of their mass makes it undigested to the small intestine, preventing cancer and cleaning things out better than any starvation cleanse could.) Maybe we need some sort of a summer plan. I'm thinking soviet 5-year plan on a (much) smaller scale. Maybe some new known unknowns would be nice too. I first came to NY without having tried all kinds of weird things. I've subsequently tried them, but surely not all of them.

In any case, my bagel bits are done, so I'm going to go eat them and read some awful french political philosophy.


Ever find yourself wondering: what exactly is in this "quesadilla" I'm eating? Don't worry, SPF is here to clear that up.beans, sometimes

chicken & onions, maybe

cilantro, sure


love, & polka dots

Thursday, April 16, 2009

peep this, veggie that

Dinner: veggies are always a lot more boring than I anticipate.
Dessert: peeps are gross.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


April 18-19!

cheap eats once again is offering 70% off their already reduced restaurant certificates when you enter code FEAST at checkout through 4/20/09. $25 certificates which normally sell for $10, are now $3. Thanks Lila

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

New York is Cupcake Country

This sort of steps on the toes of something I've been wanting to do for SPF for a long time, but my friend T sent it to me and I couldn't resist posting it. I still plan to do my own version of a cupcake ratings post, but mine probably won't have such drool-worthy pictures:

Monday, April 13, 2009

This is how you know you're a grown-up...

My Easter dinner consisted of a Pauline roll, spring rolls, Diet Dr. Pepper and a Cadbury Egg. Oh, and I got it delivered.

Friday, April 10, 2009


Ranch and I had a very brief love affair a while ago, but we've since grown apart. It's heavy and strong, and I think I am moving towards light and delicate (which I'd like to say is different from weak, but I'm not sure if it is). However, I know that there are some ranch-heads in our ranks, so I thought I'd post this link to a homemade ranch recipe I recently stumbled across. It looks remarkably simple and might be interesting if you can get past the obvious grossness of one of it's major ingredients.

Cookies for Breakfast!

It's pretty much just like it sounds. Someone brought these in from the Momofuku Bakery and Milk Bar, and they are my new favorite cookies in the EV, if not the entire city. The linked article is outdated, but there are lots of gratuitous mouth-watering photos.

Clockwise from top left: Compost cookie, Peanut Butter Cookie, Cornbread Cookie and Cornflake Marshmallow cookie. WTF, universe? This RULES.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Speaking of Pizza

I guess it's in the air what with eLs's post and the new quiz, but I am going to post about the fauxtalian treat that can be prepared in such significantly different ways that it provokes unpleasntries between Chi-towners and residents of our very own Big Apple.

So I have a friend in town who loves nature. After giving her a list of options we settled on prospect part for the day. it was a nice trip from the fancy birds whose names she knows to the underwhelming dog beach, but the foodie highlight of the day was a little place called Enzo's brick oven pizza. It was a hard choice between that and the 'pie hole' which sold variations on shepards pie, but I'm pretty sure we did the right thing. When we came in we realized that their lunch special was a ridiculous 25% off. They greeted us with warm flatbread with rosemary and garlic spices as well as an oil and vinigar sauce for dipping. Since I confused the place with Girimaldi's or whatever that place in Dumbo is that's supposed to be super famouse I insisted we get pizza's. We got 2 (which is way too much for 2 people, but probably enough for three very hungry people) pies: a 4 cheese and one that had roasted red peppers, some weird aweesome cheese whose name I wish I remembered (but only very little, like lightly grated over the top), artichoke hearts, and tomatoes. They were both topped with quite a bit of fresh basil and some of the better olive oil i've ever tasted. They were 14 inchers on a pretty good flatbread crust too. I ate until I was overfull, we still had more than half a pizza left, and the bill came out to 17 dollars. I say, if you find yourself in the area, give it a try.

granola bars.

long time, no post! since i haven't really eaten anything notable recently, i'd like to share my love affair with granola bars.

for a long time, my favorite granola bars were the quaker chewy granola bars:

i preferred the chocolate chip, s'mores, and oatmeal raisin varieties. recently, the church people have been handing out free chewies, so i have been able to see how far i've come with my taste in granola bars. while quaker chewies are a suitable snack, they don't even come close to the following bars:

i don't know if luna bars count as granola bars, but let's pretend they do. they are marketed as clif bars' female counterpart, with lots of active women dancing around the wrapper. they are nutritious and 70% organic, whatever that means. luna bars are an excellent breakfast or afternoon snack, my favorite flavor being iced oatmeal raisin. i'm going to eat one right now actually!

now for the final bar...

finally, a recent acquisition. fumbling through met food trying to find inexpensive sustenance, i came across nature's valley vanilla nut granola bars. having grown a little tired of their oat & honey variety (let's face it, it gets old), i was skeptical. but these granola bars are actually really great. they taste a little like the oat & honey kind, but with a nice vanilla icing layer that gets smushed in your purse and invades the entire bar. fear not, fellow ex-oat-&-honey fans; vanilla nut bars are great!

From Italy to 14th Street: PIZZA

Yep, me again. Sorry.

After I got back from my pasta-cation in Italy, I immediately swore off pizza. This seems like a silly thing to do, but I just didn't think I could stomach it for awhile. I lasted two whole days, at which point Eric dragged me to Last Stop. And by dragged I mean...I suggested it.

In any case, I'm back on the pizza bandwagon. Now, we all know how I feel about the perfection of Last Stop pizza (it's, you know...perfect), but I was intriuged by the rave reviews a little pizza place called Artichoke kept getting. It's right next to Curly's Vegetarian Lunch (another beacon of perfection), and there is always a line winding down the block. I also heard a rumor once that a public trash can was installed right outside expressly for the purpose of collecting the casualties (i.e. pizza-fied napkins and paper plates) of Artichoke pizza consumption.

My boss has been urging me to try this place for awhile now, so as K and I headed to meet S and C we stopped to pick up a slice. The line wasn't as long as usual, only out to the curb, and it gave us a chance to admire the weird fringey lamp in the window.

I went for the obvious, a slice of the artichoke pizza (a meal completed with a Diet Coke). I suppose I shouldn't complain about getting dinner for fewer than $6.00 ($5.50, to be exact), but $4.00 for a slice of pizza is a bit ridiculous, even in New York. It needs to at least be WORTH IT.

Okay, I'll definitely go ahead and give Artichoke points for creativity and for catching me off guard. I don't know WHAT is in the cheese at this place, but it is unlike any other pizza I have ever seen. It LOOKS normal, but it honestly tastes like someone took cream of artichoke SOUP and poured it on bread (or pizza dough, as it were). It's sloppy in a good sloppy-pizza way, but it's so STRANGE. K and I seemed to have the same reaction to the thing. Eventually, it started to grow on us...but we're still not sure we understand it. At all.

Maybe I'll give it another shot when I'm better prepared for what's coming, but I think I'll be sticking with Last Stop for awhile. Also, I burned my mouth on the cheese-slash-soup, so I may need a brief pizza hiatus. I guess the verdict here is GOOD BUT DIFFERENT. Thoughts?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Ciao Roma!

Alright, this fourth and final post ought to round things out nicely, and then I promise I'll quit hogging the blog again. So, without further ado:


On our first night in Rome, the concierge at our hotel directed us to a family-run trattoria called Cecio. My sister ordered this "Exotic Salad," which she was forced to share with me because it was pretty large and in charge. Oh, and yes, we totally got french fries (FRITES!)

I'm pretty proud that I chose this dish independently, because I later read in a guide book that it's a specialty in Rome (despite being invented elsewhere). This monster, ordered at Cecio, is Buccatini all'amatriciana. Buccatini is a type of pasta that looks like spaghetti but is actually a tube. The sauce is typically made with bacon (or pancetta, or pork of some kind), tomatoes and pecorino cheese, which is a new favorite of mine (and ridiculously expensive at Trader Joe's). Also, I learned that they serve it at Babbo's in NYC, which is even more incentive for me to go there.

Dessert at Cecio. It was only passable, but by this point I didn't notice because I was a few glasses of Vino Rosso in...and then I got the following dessert drink...

I especially appreciate that the glass itself was labelled, just to avoid confusion. Nice touch, Cecio. Anyway, as we all know, Irish coffee is just strong alcohol that tastes vaguely like coffee. So way to go, Ireland.

I picked up some street pizza from a cart outside the Vatican. It kind of TASTED like street pizza (think Cedar Point pizza, Ohioans...not great), but it was a pretty cool concept. Basically, it's a pizza...folded in half. So practical! And all Americans could come up with were stupid slices!? (Interrobang) Give me a break.

I ordered Buccatini again! It's just so delicious, I couldn't resist. It turned out to be a good idea, because this version (from a trattoria called Nuova Stella) was actually better than Cecio's dish. Sorry, Cecio!

On our last day in Rome we happened on Babington's Tea Room, which seemed vaguely familiar and which I'm pretty sure is famous. In any case, it's located near the bottom of the Spanish Steps across from the most intense shopping district in Rome, Via Condita. Everything was QUITE expensive, but it was worth it because THIS SCONE WAS BASICALLY THE BEST THING I'VE EVER EATEN. It seems like such a simple thing, something incapable of being any better or any worse than others of its kind, but this is not the case at all. Aside from my meal at A Putia Ro Vinu in Sicily, it was the best food I ate all week. Plus, it was served with whipped cream and jam! And my vanilla tea was SO GOOD! What a lovely way to spend my final afternoon in Rome!

I Left My Heart in A Putia Ro Vinu

I have never eaten as well as I did when I traveled to Brazil. The highlight of that trip was goat cheese lasagna, consumed on the veranda of a cliffside restaurant, Aprazivel, that jutted over the trees and boasted a stunning view of Rio de Janeiro. That meal ranked as one of the best of my life. This meal is another.

One evening in Sicily, our hired driver escorted us to Modica, home of the amazing chocolate shop I also raided during my stay. It's a small, beautiful town, and our driver parked on Corso Umberto I. He led us down a dark alley (which frankly freaked me out a bit) and turned the corner. Beautiful, narrow, dimly-lit cobblestone streets rose up before us. We followed our driver past dark buildings accented with beautiful architecture, countless staircases and shuttered doors and windows. Eventually, we arrived at our destination: A Putia Ro Vinu, a bright trattoria that seemingly appeared out of nowhere.

The entrance to the trattoria, "a putia ro vinu," on Via Carlo Pisacane in Modica. After climbing through those streets, it was like finding a treasure.

My sister somehow requested some sort of tasting menu without my knowledge, but it was the best thing she's ever done. The food would NOT stop coming. First up: bread with olive oil and hard-boiled eggs.

Next, we're served what appears to be a platter of appetizers that include roasted eggplant, deep-fried dough, arancini (deep-fried rice balls), sausage, quiche with peas and carrots, and some sort of stromboli-esque deal with lasagna inside.

This course included beef with hard-boiled egg somehow encircled by the meat. T said her grandmother used to make these, but I have no idea how one would go about doing such a thing.

Beef and sausage in pasta sauce.

A side of seasoned potatoes.

Spinach and ricotta pasta. This pasta was honestly the doughiest, most delicious pasta OF ALL TIME. It was so good, it was practically bread.

A combination platter: spinach and ricotta pasta, ravioli, and past with beans.

Sadly, I've forgotten the name and description of our dessert. It was cinnamon-flavored with a gelatin consistency, and it was, of course, delicious.

Reasons Why I'm Moving to Sicily

As we all know, my posts have been pretty sparse lately as a result of my week-long family trip to Italy. If my internet access hadn't been limited there, I would have been posting (and probably abusing Twitter) CONSTANTLY about my food experiences. I could bore you with details about each dish, but since I have a tendency to get verbose I'll try to keep things concise here.

I traveled to Sicily and Rome, and in a tiny town in Sicily called Modica I ate one of the best meals of my life. The Italian comfort food I consumed there deserves, and consequently will get, its own post. I'll post my Rome food photographs in their own entry as well. Everything in this post is listed chronologically, in the order I consumed it in Sicily. I took pictures of everything I ate, but I only included the highlights here for the sake of brevity. Enjoy!


Technically, this was my first meal over international waters. Airplane food may not be the best thing in the world, but complimentary wine in cute mini-bottles DEFINITELY is. Especially for nervous flyers!

My first meal in Sicily was, naturally, a pizza. We flew into a city called Catania in southern Sicily, then took a two-hour bus ride to a tiny town called Ragusa, then took a cab to a microscopic place called Marina di Ragusa. Thsi place is right on the Mediterranean, so I imagine it's a big hit in the summer. However, there was hardly anything open during our short stint there in March. One of the hotel staffers drove us to a nearby restaurant called Acquamarina, where I immediately ordered Vino Rosso (red wine, obviously) and this delicious, amazing pizza with spinach, ricotta cheese and sausage.

According to my guidebooks, lunch is the big deal meal in Sicily. It's customary for Sicilians to eat a pastry for breakfast rather than a sit-down meal, and they do so standing up in a coffee bar. I even saw one surprisingly fit girl (and apparently this is also common) eating a brioche STUFFED with gelato at 8 a.m. This is one of the many reasons why I'm moving to Sicily. I picked up this pastry at a breakfast place in Marina di Ragusa called Boccadifuoco Mizzica Pasticceria.

A note about coffee: unless one specifies "Caffe Americano" or "Caffe Latte," you will be served espresso. Also, do not order coffee with milk at any time other than breakfast, advised my Lonely Planet guidebook, or you will be instantly pegged a tourist.

Dinner on my second night in Sicily commenced at Baciamolemani, a restaurant across the street from our hotel in Marina di Ragusa. The staff was so accomodating, even writing up an English menu for us because we had difficulty communicating what we wanted. This was my green gnocchi with clams and tomatoes. Not pictured here are my sister's dish of cuttlefish cooked in their own ink and my mother's swordfish. MMM.

Dessert at Baciamolemani was, of course, cannoli. We also ordered a tiramisu, but this was the best cannoli I've ever consumed so it takes center stage.

Caffe' delle Rose, which appeared to be the most hoppin' (and, you know...only) breakfast joint in Marina di Ragusa also (of course) served gelato. This variety is nutella-flavored!

On our last day in Sicily we visited a city called Noto, which was apparently devastated by a 1693 earthquake and rebuilt in Baroque style. It was architecturally stunning, of course, but my main motivation for visiting was the fact that Noto allegedly contains the two best ice cream shops in the WORLD (so says Lonely Planet). Alas, Corrado Costanzo was closed for the season, but Caffe Sicilia was wide open. Here's a look at their bakery display.

My gelato pick from Caffe Sicilia, the Montezuma. Chocolate gelato with orange and cinnamon. It actually was the best ice cream or gelato or frozen treat I've ever had, and words cannot express the taste explosion any better than this photo.

Dessert on our last night in Sicily, at a little restaurant in Marina di Ragusa called Anno Zerro. Phenomenal pizza preceded this, but the dessert was definitely the highlight.

"The Dude" loves Puttanesca

The reasons why I love hanging out with my friend T are endless, but some of my favorites include the following:

1) She's a lovely, genuine, funny person.
2) She understands that pop tarts are a legitimate dessert.
3) She cooks things like this:

Penne Puttanesca with Tuna Meatballs: The sauce included anchovies, olive oil, garlic, capers, crushed and diced tomatoes, pecorino cheese, kalamata olives, oil-cured olives and fresh parsley. According to T, the deliciousness we consumed was a modified version of this: Puttanesca with Tuna Polpette and Penne.

Yep, she effortlessly cooks things like this...and then we eat it sitting on her fire escape, drinking limeade and chatting and taking in what is a surprisingly pretty view of Queens. I'm sure we're all aware of this by now, but food and friendship are unequivocally some of life's greatest things. Oh, and S'More pop tarts. Obviously.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Williamsburg Cheese

Apparently, the Spring of the Cheese Plate has arrived. For the second stop on our tour, k and I hit up d.o.c. wine bar, on the cozy corner of n. 7th and wythe. The wine menu here is impressive, it being a wine bar and all, and the food is pretty authentically italian. You are able to customize your cheese plate (which you will obviously be getting) with their fancy array of special cheeses, but out of a mutual aversion to decision-making, we went straight for the house cheese selection.
Tagliuere di Formaggi della Casa

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sandwiches are beautiful

It's no scanwich, but I thought my ham & brie sammy from medina deserved some cross-sectional love.

And by the way, new york, it's a downright gorgeous day, so go eat a sandwich in the park!