Gasp! A healthy obsession

Man oh man has it been an unhealthy week or so for me! With Thanksgiving kicking off the holiday season, I’ve been eating like a pig and drinking like a fish. Come January, I might have to seriously consider having my jaw wired shut. But until then, the gluttonous, booozy merrymaking continues!

Yet even during the worst of my holiday binging, I try and add in healthy things here and there (you know, so that I might live to actually see the new year). Once in a while it even happens that I find something that I enjoy so much that I eat it with the same enthusiasm I put towards guzzling straight from the eggnog carton.

Is there anything more awesome than finding something good that’s not terrible for you?

Recently, I’ve been on a serious acai bowl kick from Juice Generation, which unlike the pumpkin pie, mulled wine, sugar cookies, candy canes, Thanksgiving croissants and the million and one other things I’ve been gorging on, is totally guilt free.  Juice Generation’s acai bowls are a creamy, cold, pudding-like blend of bananas, acai and other good and good-for-you stuff. I get the Amazing Green acai bowl which in addition to organic acai pulp, bananas, and almond milk, also throws spinach and kale into the mix. Then the whole thing is topped with banana slices, hemp seeds and hemp granola for a crunchy, nutty texture and flavor.

Ok, so it’s not most appetizing color. But I promise, it’s delicious. C’mon, I wouldn’t lie to you.

I know what you’re thinking. What kinda health freak, weirdo, hippy dippy shiz is that? But trust me, it’s DELICIOUS.  Sure, the green acai bowl kind of resembles the contents of a baby’s diaper after a big meal, but it’s soooooo good! And again, good for you! And because bananas are so awesome at bringing sweet goodness to everything they’re added to, you can’t even taste the green stuff! It’s basically like tricking your body into being healthy, and let me tell you, I’m all about that.

Introducing this green acai bowl into my life really might just have been my saving grace. Come January, when I’ve banished the cookies, pies, honey baked hams, and casseroles from my life, I’ll still have one thing to look forward to binging on.

Giving thanks for the Thanksgiving croissant

In all its glory: the Thanksgiving croissant

To say that I’m completely giddy, bouncing-around-in-anticipation, so-excited-I-could-squeal over Thanksgiving would be a tiny bit of an understatement. I’m beyond that. Way beyond it.

And I’m especially beyond it since FINALLY having the Thanksgiving croissant at Momofuku Milk Bar. I’ve been trying to get my grubby little fingers on one of those buttery, flaky, fat croissants of deliciousness since last year, and every single time I’ve ever gone, both last year and this, they’ve been sold out. Last week, on one of my days off, I went first thing in the morning and snagged a couple (because yes, I bought one to take home after the one I ate immediately on the spot).

So much Thanksgiving goodness in one croissant…

All joking aside, if you live in New York and haven’t had a Thanksgiving croissant from Milk Bar, well, you’re insane. You need to stop dilly-dallying and go get yourself one. Stuffed full of juicy chunks of turkey meat, stuffing, gravy and a tart bit of cranberry sauce, this croissant just needs pumpkin pie to be the perfect pastry embodiement of all that is wonderful about Thanksgiving.

They’re pretty much the best thing ever, and your life will be better for having one, so go on, go get one. It’s the most delicious thing to happen to November since the pilgrims and the indians got together for dinner.

Pumpkin mania continues

The annual pumpkin binge is upon us. It’s upon me. It’s. All. Up. On. ME.

During my usual autumn pumpkin binge, most of the things I eat are sweet. Pumpkin muffins, lattes, cakes, pie, ice cream. You name it, I eat it. But this year, one of the best pumpkin foods I’ve had wasn’t a sweet at all. It was a pizza! Yes, a pumpkin pizza! Talk about awesome worlds colliding!

Forcella’s Autunno Pizza, introducing pizza into the Great Pumpkin Binge

I was at Forcella, the super-freakin’-delicious Neapolitan pizzeria on the Bowery between NoHo and the East Village, having dinner with a friend, when she pointed it out on the menu. (I was probably staring at the word burrata and having cheese fantasies and hadn’t already noticed it.) I wasn’t sure what to make of pumpkin on a pizza, but the Autunno pizza, with it’s pumpkin puree base (instead of tomato sauce), smoked mozzarella and pancetta, inspired all sorts of confidence.

And good God! It was delicious! The pumpkin puree had just enough subtle sweetness to play the perfect complement to the flavorful, salty pancetta sprinkled throughout. To round everything out was the smoked mozzarella which was just the right amount of smokey instead of the usual creamy, milkiness to make for a really delicious pizza.

As the great pumpkin binge of 2012 continues, I’m glad to know I have Forcella’s delicious autunno pizza to turn to when I need a break from the sweet stuff.

Just not for me

All the butter in the world couldn’t make me like this dried catfish

I wanted to like it. I really did. Everywhere I went in Iceland, there it was: dried fish. Supermarkets, rest areas, gift shops, even at Sæmundur, the gastropub at Kex Hostel, where we stayed in Reykjavik. They all had it. So obviously, I had to try it.

And you know what? Open-minded as I am about food, I hated it.

I finally decided to order it at Sæmundur because I figured everything else I’d eaten there was great, so if dry fish was gonna be good anywhere, it’d be there. Yet when the dried catfish with butter came out, cutely served in a little glass jar… sigh… it was gross.  Not in presentation, but absolutely in consistency and flavor. Each strip of silver-skinned fish was tough as an old sneaker and the taste was only slightly better. Even after I smothered a piece in butter, which by the way, was perfectly rich, soft and salted, the dried fish was awful. I chewed and chewed and chewed some more, until my jaw hurt and then I just swallowed the ol’ tough ball with a hard gulp, before sliding the rest of the glass jar back across the bar.

Bitafiskur… icelandic for “BLEGH, GROSS”

There’s a very short list of things I don’t like to eat, and I’m sorry to say, but icelandic dried fish, you just got added to that list.

A whale of a confession

I’ve been debating whether to even mention this. Some of you will be horrified, most of you will be grossed out. Some of you might even think I’m an awful person. But I’m just gonna put it out there and be honest.

:: Deep breath ::

While in Iceland… I… ate whale. There, I said it. I ate whale.

minke whale kabob

One guide book I read before going said to not eat it, that the locals didn’t eat whale and it was something only sucker tourists did. But then another book I read said that whale, like puffin and rotten shark meat, was just another old local culinary tradition. Icelanders maybe didn’t eat it regularly but they wouldn’t judge me if I did it.

When my sister and I went Saegreifinn for their famed lobster soup, the only other thing on the menu were different shish kabobs, made of various fish, lobster and scallops. Right in there with them were minke whale kabobs.

Oh, what the hell, I thought, let’s just do this. And so I did. With my sister looking on in complete disgust, I ordered a lobster soup and a minke whale kabob.

Skewered next to a couple of chopped red peppers, the minke whale meat looked like really well-done beef or some other land creature. It was dark on the outside and a deep brown, almost reddish purple color, on the inside. The taste was ok, not fantastic but not gross either. Without the sweet, tangy remoulade type sauce it was served with, it really didn’t have a very distinct flavor at all. But my main problem with the minke whale was its toughness. Every bite seemed to require a hundred chews before being swallowed.

A couple of days later, we went out on a whale watching tour, and even though several species of whales, dolphins and other creatures live in the cold waters around Reykjavik, the only one we spotted several times was the minke whale. In my head I  apologized for eating one of his kind. After all, he wasn’t that tasty anyway.

Street meat: Iceland edition

Hot dogs are so tasty that these Icelandic ones are eating their own kind!

I know they’re made out of weird animal odds and ends, and really, as an adult who occasionally is concerned with what she puts in her body, I should mistrust and dislike hot dogs… buuuuuuut, I just can’t. I friggin’ love ’em. I really do. I love hot dogs.

In Iceland, like New York City and Chicago (both whose dogs I’ve eaten),  they’re pretty proud of their weiners. And rightfully so, because even though I only ate one icelandic hot dog  during my trip, it was a great one.

How do you say DELICIOUS in Icelandic? Cause that’s what this hot dog was

SS Pylsan is the Oscar Meyer of Iceland and based on their ubiquitous SS logo, they seem to have a monopoly on the hot dog scene.  Unlike regular ol’ American dogs, theirs have lamb meat added into the mystery meat mix, which is probably why they’re extra tasty. I like to eat my hot dogs however the locals do so I ordered mine with everything, which meant one long, skinny hot dog dressed up with a sweet remoulade, mustard-mayo mix and my favorite part,  crunchy fried onions.

Cheap (definitely the cheapest thing I ate in Iceland), easy and delicious, if you forget about the hodge podge of animal parts that go into making a hot dog, what’s not to love about them? They’re great… all over the world!

Happiness is hot soup on a cold day

With the exception of a good cuddle, a creamy hot chocolate or being burrito-wrapped in my down comforter, there are few things I find more comforting or instantly gratifying than hot soup when it’s cold outside. I feel warm and fuzzy inside just thinking about it.  (Also because New York is pretty chilly right now and I want all of the above.)

In Iceland, where it was frigid every single day we were there (not that I was expecting any different), I probably had soup at least twice a day. Those Icelanders, man, they really know what they’re doing in that department! Below, the highlights of my soup-centric week.

The famous lobster soup at Saegreifinn

At the top of my things-I-MUST-eat-in-Iceland list was the humarsupa, or lobster soup, at Saegreifinn.  The tiny restaurant/fish shack in Reykjavik’s old harbor was supposed to have some of the best lobster soup in town, so the first night we were there, my sister and I made it a point to have it. I can’t say I tried lots of other lobster soups, but I didn’t need to because this one won my vote. Sweet and velvety without being cream-heavy or goopy, it had just the right amount of  fat hunks of sweet lobster meat. My only regret: not going back for more every single day.  Continue reading