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Monday, July 29, 2013

Orange Sorbet

Happy Monday folks! Surprise! I'm back with an outfit post after my hiatus. I don't know about you, but I felt like I was gone FOREVER. But I had a good reason to get dressed up when I attended Dinner Lab last week. A fancy meal is always a good excuse to put on a new dress and throw on some make-up.
This weekend was pretty relaxing. I had a few really nice dinners with friends and even cooked an awesome chickpea and pork shoulder Sunday stew. On Saturday Steve and I used our new YMCA membership and hit up the outdoor pool. I'm a wuss and thought the water was pretty cold, but I got used to it for a bit and enjoyed myself. On Sunday Steve brewed a new batch of beer while I made my stew. The house smelled really good!
So how pretty is the back of this dress? As soon as I saw the little buttons I knew it had to be mine. I got this dress while visiting my parents in New York at one of my favorite places, Century 21. If you ever have an opportunity to go there, DO IT. It's quite an amazing shopping experience and they have something for everyone.
Oh, and that super sweet hair clip? That was a birthday gift from the amazing Jen from Librarian Tells All. She is amazingly talented and I believe she can make anything she puts her mind to.
Dress: Century 21
Shoes: Anthropologie
Necklace: Old
Hair Clip: Gift from Jen 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Nashville Food Friday: Dinner Lab

Dinner Lab Pop Up in Nashville Tennessee
This week Steve and I had the opportunity to attend a dinner hosted by Dinner Lab, and get ready Nashville, because this unique culinary concept is going to spice up your eating experiences! Before I go on and on about how delicious the food was, I'm going to tell you a bit about the company. Dinner Lab started in New Orleans and now also operates in Austin and Nashville. What they do: Take talented local chefs that don't have the opportunity to cook the food they love in the restaurant at which they work, and give them a venue to cook their dream meal. Each dinner is done pop-up style. The locations vary and are usually very unconventional (think empty warehouse). The chef cooks a five-course meal paired with drinks, while guests sit at long tables, make new friends and eat to their heart's content. Ready to sign up? Check out the video below for more information:

Steve and I chose to attend the Puerto Rican dinner cooked by talented chef Francisco "Paco" Robert. 24 hours before the event we got an email with a link to the address of the dinner. We pulled up to a warehouse space off of 4th Ave South and walked through a maze of open studs to find this beautiful setup: 
Dinner Lab Pop Up in Nashville Tennessee
Dinner Lab Pop Up in Nashville Tennessee

Dinner Lab really knows how to fancy up an empty space! We arrived at 7 and were welcomed with cocktails. They had a nicely stocked bar, with a talented bartender ready to mix things up to your liking. I went with one of the house drinks which was a sweet tropical punch with a starfruit as garnish. Fancy pants!
Dinner Lab Pop Up in Nashville Tennessee
Our first course was Bunuelos de Bacalo, which are cod fritters. The fritter was served with pickled squash and a lime-crema. This reminded me of Jamaican fish cakes, which I love. It had just the right amount of fishy flavor that was cut nicely with the lime-crema. The drink pairing was a passion fruit mojito which was added some complimentary sweetness to the saltiness of the cod.
Dinner Lab Pop Up in Nashville Tennessee
Our second dish was a bean stew with pig tails. If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know I like all the parts of the pig that most people turn away from, so seeing this on the menu made me happy. I loved the flavor of the pig tails. They were cooked until they were fall-off-the-bone tender and with the beans made a really thick hearty stew. It was paired with a Yazoo Hefeweizen (a beer that is normally too "banana-y" for me) but I thought this pairing was genius. The light fruitiness of the beer really cut the thick fattiness of the stew.
Dinner Lab Pop Up in Nashville Tennessee
Next up was ceviche on roasted eggplant with corn salsa and almonds. I have to be honest- this was the only dish that I thought fell short. The eggplant was overcooked and was pretty soggy and if you add tender and soft ceviche to it, you get an overly mushy plate. I feel like the fish would have been better showcased on a eggplant chip or crusty bread. The upside was the corn and almonds were a really nice addition and added a tad bit of much needed crunch. The ceviche was paired with a white Spanish wine that I enjoyed, considering I'm mostly a red wine gal.
Dinner Lab Pop Up in Nashville Tennessee
Alright people, hold on to your panties, here is the Pièce de résistance of this meal: Lengua a la Fricasse. This dish is braised beef tongue with a pumpkin mash, an onion raisin slaw and some fried pig fat cracklings. I could hardly contain my excitement over this dish! The tongue was perfect, cooked so long and low that the meat just melted in your mouth. And to Chef Paco's credit, the tongue retained amazing flavor and didn't have the curse of being bland. The pumpkin mash and the onion raisin slaw added a really nice sweet note to the fatty tongue. And who can say no to FRIED FAT?! Everything about this dish was beautiful and I will probably try to recreate this in my kitchen sometime soon when I'm feeling brave. The Lengua was paired with a Spanish red wine.
Dinner Lab Pop Up in Nashville Tennessee
Let's talk dessert, because this meal ended on a high note. It's hard to find a well-rounded chef that can also make a really stand out sweet dish (hello every season of Top Chef- I'm looking at you) and Paco had this DOWN. Dessert was Tembleque a Coconut Flan served with dulce de leche, spiked peaches and ajonjoli (candied sesame seeds). I have a soft spot for flan and this was made slightly different, using starch instead of egg as a binder. The consistency was smooth and cool and was cut with the rum of the peach. I will admit that I made sure to pick up all the caramel from the plate with my finger. I HAVE NO FOOD SHAME. The drink that was paired with this was like a Puerto Rican version of egg nog, but fancier and way better than any egg nog I've ever had. It was thick and sweet (condensed milk FTW) and I even went back to beg the bartender for seconds. 
Dinner Lab Pop Up in Nashville Tennessee
Overall, I was totally impressed with this dinner and everything Dinner Lab is trying to do. I would be remiss if I didn't mention the polite and attentive waitstaff and the fact that everyone made a pointed effort to make guests comfortable, happy, and encourage mingling. I believe registration for membership is open and I think they are planning on doing 2 dinners a week going forward. And since the menu changes every time, there is something for everyone. 

I would also like to thank Brian and Drew for making all of this possible. Way to go guys, you have a hit!

*Disclaimer: Steve and I were invited to attend this event at no cost. The opinions seen here are solely my own.*

Monday, July 22, 2013

Let's go to BOSTON!

Sorry I've been a bit MIA lately. Besides having some huge life changes (new job!) I also went home for a week to visit family in New York and then took a bus up to Boston to hang out with some of my favorite people from college. I don't think I've been back to Boston since 2008 and part of me really missed the city, almost to the point of craving it. When I found out that A) Steve had never been to Boston and B) Belle and Sebastian were playing there July 9th (with Yo La Tengo opening, no less!), it was a no-brainer. Here are some of our favorite phone photos from the trip!
The Miracle of Science bar was one of my favorite places to grab a drink after work. The menu is written like the periodic table and I love how tiny and triangular this place is!
We visited the deCordova museum and sculpture park. This is one of the most magical places I've ever been and I used to go about once a year back when I lived in Boston. Some pieces have changed, but some of my favorites stayed the same!
 Shot of a bell looking toward Boston from the Brandeis campus!
Not every college has a beautiful castle that serves as a dormitory. The outside looks great, but inside is a poorly designed mess with tiny walkways and rooms that make no sense. It honestly looked a tad bit abandoned... I hope they keep it in good shape!
 Matt is secretly a monkey!
 Just good old George Washington wearing a Bruin's jersey. Too bad they lost!
 Boston Harbor!
Steve had his first cannoli from Mike's Pastry in the North End. Mike's is hands down the best Italian bakery I have ever been to. Poor Steve, every cannoli he eats from now on will pale in comparison.
 The Public Garden is beautiful with all their elegant willow trees!
Boston is a really pretty city, but Boston City Hall might be the ugliest building of all time. Here is me frowning because it makes me so upset. Brutalist architecture at its finest.
 The Boston Massacre happened right here. 
 44 pound lobster!
Belle and Sebastian!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Food Friday Boston Edition: Mi Tierra

Mi Tierra restaurant in Waltham Massachusetts
Earlier this month I went back to Boston with some of my college buddies and revisited our old haunts. My favorite local restaurant while in college was Mi Tierra, hands down. They made the best Guatemalan food I've ever tasted and had a very nice staff. After a ten year absence, I eagerly made my way back. The food was still just as good as I remembered!
Mi Tierra restaurant in Waltham Massachusetts
Located in suburban Waltham, MA, Mi Tierra inhabits a rather unassuming storefront. The inside isn't fancy, although they do have a deer head mounted on the wall and you can always catch a soccer game or a telenovela on one of the TVs. But let's be honest, no one goes here for the decor. The food is the real treat.
Sangria at Mi Tierra restaurant in Waltham Massachusetts
For drinks we ordered a pitcher of sangria. It was more than enough to give 6 people two nicely sized glasses. The fruit in the sangria was fresh and firm and the perfect conduit for the sweet wine.
Tamalitos at Mi Tierra restaurant in Waltham Massachusetts
If you are ever lucky enough to eat here, you MUST order the tamalitos as an appetizer. It's sweet corn dough shaped into a tamale and cooked to perfection. It's then served with fresh sweet cream and cheese. This appetizer is sweet and to me it could just as easily be a dessert. But I'm not one to fight customs so I will gladly have this at the start of the meal! I have never had anything else like this any place else and I crave these things more than I care to admit. They tasted just as good as I remembered. Sweet (pun intended!) nostalgia.
Papusas at Mi Tierra restaurant in Waltham Massachusetts
For my entree I ordered the papusa plate. Papusas are like Guatemalan quesadillas, for lack of a better comparison. I chose the cheese papusa because I can't get enough of the melty gooey stuff they put inside. Papusas are traditionally served with a mild tomato sauce and a vinegar slaw. Not to be out shined by the papusas, the fried sweet plantain is always a welcome addition to the plate. Mi Tierra are experts at getting their plantains just right. Oh, and their beans are pretty stellar as well. Trust me, this is A LOT of food for one person.
Mi Tierra restaurant in Waltham Massachusetts
I honestly love this place with all my heart. I have so many good memories (food and otherwise) from this local joint. The best part was that when I walked back in after my ten year absence, the hostess remembered me. REMEMBERED ME. I guess I really did go there a lot of times! If you are ever in the greater Boston area, Mi Tierra is a must

Mi Tierra on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 12, 2013

Nashville Food Friday: DeSano Pizza

DeSano Pizza bakery in Nashville Tennessee
I know I bitch and moan a lot about how there is no good pizza in Nashville, but after visiting Bella Nashville and now DeSano Pizza, I will eat my hat. Granted, they aren't New York style large flat greasy pies like I'm used to, but they sure do hit the spot. Located in an unassuming building off Demonbreun circle near the Off Broadway shoes, DeSano serves up old world style pizza without the fuss.
DeSano Pizza bakery in Nashville Tennessee
DeSano Pizza bakery in Nashville Tennessee
DeSano has an interesting ordering system. When you enter you pick out your pizza at the counter and pay for it there. Then you walk to the back where there are big communal tables a la elementary school cafeteria and wait for the nice pizza guys to bring your food. The best part is the kitchen is totally open and you can watch the dough masters at work. And wafting through the dining room is the beautiful smell of baking crust, which emanates from the three old world wood-burning ovens at the back.
DeSano Pizza bakery in Nashville Tennessee
Added bonuses- they serve San Pellegrino, AND they're totally BYOB, so plan to bring a nice bottle of wine or your favorite six pack. 
DeSano Pizza bakery in Nashville Tennessee
We ordred the Verdura which has broccoli rabe, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, garlic and mozzarella cheese flown in from Italy. I'm sorry (not sorry) that I didn't get a picture of the whole pie, but I was hungry and it smelled so good! My stomach comes first, you know? This pie was absolute heaven. The imported cheese has the most amazing flavor and consistency, and the flavor of the wood-charred crust is just perfect. You can tell that they really care about the ingredients that go into their pies. They understand the simple rule that better the ingredients equals better food.
DeSano Pizza bakery in Nashville Tennessee
Here is me hoarding that missing slice. So good! If you are looking for really good pizza with a no-frills dining experience and the ability to bring your own bottle of wine, go to DeSano. I also think this place would be great for larger parties since everyone can pay for themselves from the get go and the tables are huge!

DeSano Pizza Bakery on Urbanspoon
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