Yes, more pumpkin!

 

Spiced Pumpkin Pie

Just when I thought pumpkin-flavored foods had been retired till November, BAM! I found something new! And delicious, I might add.

This classy cocktail from the Mandarin Oriental’s Lobby Lounge,  made me want to rekindle my annual pumpkin binge. The creamy, dessert-like drink was a velvety sweet concoction of Stoli Vanilla Vodka, Kahlua, Coole Swan Irish Cream, pumpkin purèe and spiced pumpkin syrup.

Sigh. It’s always a good time for pumpkin.

The stuff foodie dreams are made of

I’m a pretty lucky girl in that I can’t remember the last bad meal I had in New York. (Well, actaully, that’s not entirely true. The McDonald’s Happy Meal I had while inebriated on new  year’s eve in the Lower East Side wasn’t exactly one of the better dining moments I’ve had, but why even bother counting that?)

I not only don’t really have bad meals, I actually tend to have lots of really great meals. Some so incredibly awesome that I dwell on them, long after they’ve been digested.

East and West coast oysters

Last week, for example, the boy and I ate at the recently opened John Dory Oyster Bar at the Ace Hotel, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. In fact, I woke up thinking about it the next day, wondering dreamily as I lay in bed, Did that really happen? ‘Cause God it was good. Like a lovesick schoolgirl, I want to doodle I JD on my notebooks and sign my name Angie Dory Oyster Bar, just to see what it would look like.

It being an oyster bar and all, we of course had to get some of the not-so-attractive but oh-so-delicious mollusks. To give ourselves a taste of everything, we opted for the platter of East coast and West coast oysters, of which we got three kinds for each coast.  Two shells in the middle contained spicy horseradish and a zesty blend of juices and herbs, each perfect for gently dabbing on top of the silky smooth oysters before being slurped down. I’m not an oyster expert but these seemed pretty perfect to me in their briney, peppery juiciness. They tasted like everything that is good about summer days at the beach. Continue reading

When the going gets cold, the cold get soup

Hate the cold? Quit your bitching and get some soup.

Twice last week, I woke up to a city blanketed in fresh snow. On Monday, I walked to work, wrapped up to my ears in a thick scarf, while my fingers, though gloved and burrowed in my pocket, went numb.  At 8:30am, the thermometer struggled to creep up into the double digits.

Today, the snow was back, swirling in pretty white gusts outside my window, big fat snowflakes fluttering by dizzyingly.

Needless to say, winter is in full force in New York, and while some people absolutely hate it and are already counting down the days to spring, I for one, am enjoying it.  And why would I not, when there’s so much good soup to be had! Continue reading

Pastelito pit-stop

So. Many. CHOICES.

While New York is far from lacking in places to get baked sweets—what with cupcake shops, bakeries, patisseries and all other manner of baked-good providers available everywhere—if there’s one thing I miss about Miami, it’s the ready availability of Cuban bakeries.

I miss pastelitos, dammit.

Growing up in Miami, these pastries were always around, whether you were Cuban or not. During high school my sister even worked at a Cuban bakery called La Rosa, where the uniform was a terrible, oversized magenta smock that I loved to make fun of her for. But if she came home with a box of pastelitos? Well, then my tune changed to a little butt kissing.

During my latest stay in Miami, the last thing I did before leaving the city was making one last stop at La Rosa to pick up some of my favorites. Continue reading

Going Green

Since it opened a couple of years ago, I had always been interested in Green Gables Cafe in Coral Gables, the part of Miami where I grew up and where my parents still live. But it wasn’t until last year during the Fourth of July weekend that I spent in Miami, that I realized I really wanted to eat there. My friend Cristi, whose family owns and operates the small restaurant, made a batch of brownies and brought them to a friend’s pool party and BBQ.

They were dark and chcolatey, moist and wonderfully crumbly and scrumptious.

“Oh my God, Cristi!” I mumbled, my cheeks full of soft, chewy brownie. “These are incredible!”

“Thanks, they’re vegan, black bean brownies.”

If my mouth wasn’t chock full of brownie, I’m sure my jaw would have dropped.

So a couple of weeks ago when I was in Miami, I put eating at Green Gables on my to do list, right under seeing my mom and hanging out with my best friend.

Unfortunately, this is a terrible picture of a fantastic burger. I was too distracted by its tastiness to focus on photography

 Flaneur and I went there on our last afternoon in Miami, and the only thing I regret was not having gone sooner. Cristi was there, since she now works in the kitchen, helping her mom and sister turn out more awesome vegan and vegetarian friendly eats like those black bean brownies I had last summer.

With the brownies clearly still on my mind, I ordered the organic black bean veggie burger, which came on a soft, doughy multi-grain bun. Topped with organic tomatoes and lettuce, a melted layer of gooey mozzarella, and a smooth roasted garlic aioli sauce, this burger was hands down, the most delicious non-meat burger I’ve ever eaten.  It didn’t taste like wannabe meat, and it didn’t taste like a squeaky tofu creation. Instead it was slightly nutty in flavor, with a moist softness to it and a delicious earthiness. It wasn’t slider-sized but given the opportunity, I could have eaten three of them and pretended they were minis.

Pulled chicken sandwich. In a word: awesome.

Flaneur also went with a sandwich, opting for the pulled organic chicken. On the menu it’s normally pulled turkey but they were out of it that day so it was subbed with chicken. Stuffed in a soft baguette were juicy, tender chunks of chicken and soft, buttery hunks of avocado, all drizzled with a zesty cilantro aioli  and paired with fresh romaine lettuce. The whole thing was fresh and clean tasting, with flavorful ingredients and a healthy, guilt free deliciousness.

I don’t doubt that if for some unfortunate reason I still lived at home in Coral Gables, I’d have a good amount of my weekday lunches at Green Gables Cafe. Living at home with my parents would be terrible but I would seek comfort in the warm deliciousness of organic black bean veggie burgers. And that would be wonderful.

Green Gables Cafe on Urbanspoon

Wish you were here

It’s not always about trendy gourmet food and fancy restaurants. I’ve found that the best food memories can sometimes come from something as simple as an an afternoon snack on a lazy day. Something small, easy, cheap. Shared with good company and a nice setting, the smallest thing can turn into one of those memories that you look back on and think, “Man, I wish I was there right now, having that again.”

Pineapple and piña colada fruit bars and fish ceviche

Such was the case during my recent trip to Miami, when Flaneur and I spent one afternoon walking around Key Biscayne along a quiet, empty stretch of beach on Cape Florida. We stopped at the Lighthouse Cafe, one of only two places to eat in the state park, and picked up a couple of fruit bars to enjoy in the warm weather. But because there was a minimum for credit card purchases (and I am perpetually cash-less), I added a small serving of fish ceviche to our order.

Sitting on the cafe’s wooden deck while the breeze blew and the warm Florida sun beamed down on us, I couldn’t have wished to be anywhere else. Cold, sweet fruit bars with hunks of pineapple and coconut followed by the zesty, juicy fish ceviche made for the absolute best snack I can recall having in a long time.

Now as I sit looking out the window at the steely blue of a late, winter afternoon in New York, I can almost taste the warmth of that peppery fresh ceviche and the bright, colorful flavors of a piña colada fruit bar. Man, I wish I was there right now, having that again.

Sister, sister

DNA is about where the similarities end between my sister and me.  She’s loud and sassy. I’m quiet and sarcastic. She says I dress like Mr. Rogers. I say she dresses like a hoochie. She drives fast with the music up and the windows down. I prefer to walk.

We speak differently, live in different states, have different hobbies, listen to different music, date different types of guys, and don’t even look alike, if you ask me. (Further supporting my theory that I am, in fact, adopted.)

And now, because life’s dealt her a particularly bad hand, we don’t even eat the same. Because of a serious health problem she’s developed in recent years, my sister— brace yourself cause it’s ugly —is on a sugar-free, fat-free, wheat-free, gluten-free, vegan diet.

I kid you not, folks. My heart breaks a thousand times for her. No sugar, fat, wheat or dairy. That leaves what, air??

This presented major food problems for my visit to Miami. We’d be going to eat but where the heck could we both go?

“Don’t worry,” she said drearily. ” I can usually find white rice and grilled chicken on any menu.”

Uhm. No. Not happening. Not on my watch.

I turned to my vegan and vegetarian friends in Miami, and found just the place: Metro Organic Bistro.

With the beau and our mother also with us, we set out for the design district eatery that boasted lots of fresh, organic, healthy and vegetarian friendly options.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a tad bit skeptical. I can’t help it. It’s the sugar-crazed, fat-loving carnivore in me. But Metro Organic Bistro, I’m happy to say, completely floored me. If this is what being super healthy was like, sign. Me. UP.

Dinner went like this:

Entree 1: my mom’s

My mom ordered the braised chicken (free range and natural, thank you very much) with truffled polenta and organic green beans. The polenta wasn’t as creamy as I like it, but the truffle flavor made it buttery and smooth.

Entree 2: my sister’s (not vegan)

My sister ordered the tuna Nicoise, though not a vegan option (hey, she’s new to the game). Fat, juicy hunks of yellowfish tuna came on a bed of organic greens, potatoes, tomatoes, green beans, boiled eggs, onions, Nicoise olives and anchovies. She doesn’t like anchovies but I do, so guess where those little guys wound up?

Entree 3: Mine

I went for the Mahi-Mahi, a tender, juicy, lemony, grilled (and wild caught) steak topped with shaved fennel and watercress, topped with a zesty cilantro drizzle. Everything was organic, but more than that, everything was vibrant, colorful and crazy delicious.

Entree 4: the non-De Angelis at the table

Last but not least was Flaneur’s. He opted for one of the specials not listed on the menu: a plump and wonderfully juicy and smooth piece of salmon, so perfect it seemed to just melt on your tongue. Underneath it was a mound of red quinoa and broccoli florets, to lend it an earthy, veggie goodness.

Dessert 1

And because no meal, healthy or otherwise, is every complete without dessert, we got two to share amongst the four of us, though I’m pretty sure the boy and I did most of the damage. First was the chocolate bouchon a la mode, a warm chocolate lava-cake paired with a creamy scoop of vanilla ice cream and topped with some of the fattest blackberries I’ve ever seen. When the gooey, warm chocolate inside poured out, it was like dying and going to healthy food heaven.

Dessert 2

Our other dessert was another special not on the menu: a fig tart with mascarpone and more juicy blackberries. The tart was sweet and nutty, with a taste reminiscent of roasted chestnuts, and fat little chunks of figs throughout. Being the fig-fiend that I am, this was perfect.

In the end, there was no pork belly or lard, nothing deep fried or oozing with cheese, but everything was delicious, clean and healthy. And that’s something my sister and I, different as we are, both agreed on.