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Archive for November, 2009

Last week on Friday, I spent the evening with Anthony Bourdain. I was watching an episode of No Reservations, when an obnoxiously loud commercial came on saying that I can catch Anthony Bourdain in Rochester. I immediately looked it up and it was true! The show was going to be at the Auditorium Theater. The description simply said “an evening with Anthony Bourdain”. I was sold! Both Joel and my brother were a little skeptical. “What exactly is he going to do?” they both asked. My answer was “I have no idea. It just says an evening with Anthony Bourdain. But does it really matter?? It’s Anthony Bourdain!” :) Kristin and her friend Jon decided to join us. The evening was set – dinner at Kristin’s, followed by the show, and then drinks and dessert at Good Luck.

The show was great! He discussed his travels as well as his favorite foods and places that he visited. It was as if I was watching No Reservations, but he was standing only a few rows in front of me. :) Crazy!! I really love his humor. I was happy when he mentioned that when traveling, one should really try and eat local foods. Forget about Hard Rock Café or some other American chain! Find a small, local restaurant that has been there for years and eat there. That is how you should experience a new city, new country, or new region. Towards the end of the show, he turned the microphone to the audience for a question and answer session. The audience asked some interesting questions, some better than others. One person asked his thoughts on the fact that it was a Friday night and that the theater was filled with folks who worked in restaurants. He laughed, and when he asked how many people worked in a restaurant, about 1/2 of the audience raised their hands. The last question came from a woman (who apparently cut in front of Kristin, which was not very nice!). I can’t recall the exact question, but it was either what was the most memorable food or favorite food that he ever had. His answer was booze. Typical!! If you watch No Reservations, you would agree. I really wanted to say a few things but did not get the guts to go up to the microphone to do it. :( “What were you going to say?” you ask. What I wanted to say was this:

“Hi Tony! My name is Veronica. I am ecstatic that you are here. I really love your show! I want to say two things. First, my brother is a chef in NYC. A few years ago he worked at Babbo, and he mentioned that you and Bill Buford stopped by the restaurant and you were noticeably wasted. :) Secondly, I am originally from Romania. I was so excited when I found out that you were going to have a show on Romania. However, after watching it, I was not so excited anymore. That was the worst show you’ve ever done! What is up with Zamir?? I think that you need to go back and do another show there. I will be more than happy to be your tour guide.”

Perhaps the planets will align and he will somehow stumble upon my blog and read this post. :) Hmm… I can dream, can’t I??

I was very glad to go to Good Luck for drinks and dessert after the show. It was very fitting, after all. Good Luck was great!! The space is so cool – the brick walls, the antique lamps, and the table décor were great! Also, they have some very tasty drinks and desserts! YUM!! We ordered the chocolate cake and the goat cheese cheesecake. They were just delicious!! I really loved the goat cheese cheesecake. Who would have thought to make cheesecake out of goat cheese? It really worked! I can’t wait to go back to try the rest of the drinks and desserts. I also noticed that they have homemade gnocchi. Hmmm… :)

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Last night I participated in the Fast Friends Bakeoff. My cycling group, Fast Friends, decided to have a pie bakeoff, after a few of us bragged about our pie making abilities. My friend Cindy organized the whole thing. She opened her home to the party, created categories, ballots, and signs, purchased prizes, and even recruited celebrity judges to come judge it (thanks Scott and Kim!). The four categories were Appetizer, Main Dish, Desserts, and Unusual. I decided to enter the dessert category.

I don’t bake pies very often. The only pie recipes that I do have are Pumpkin Pie and Chocolate Pecan Pie. I decided against making them, since I thought for sure that others would make them. Nevertheless, I was up to the challenge! I baked two recipes that I found in my search, but I did not think that they were worthy of a pie bakeoff. After countless reminder emails from Cindy (sorry Cindy!), I searched the Gourmet site one more time and decided to make the Pear Butterscotch Pie. Since it was already Wednesday and the bakeoff was on Saturday, I did not have time to make a test pie. But I figured, it was a Gourmet recipe and most importantly one of Ruth Reichl’s favorite recipes, so it was bound to be delicious!! :)

The recipe required Anjou or Bartlett pears (I used 3 Anjou and 1 ½ Bosc pears), cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, a little flour, lemon juice, salt, and vanilla. I decided to add some pecans, because I really love the flavor of pears with pecans. I also had some orange zest leftover from a pie that I baked last week, so I decided to add some of it into the pie. For the crust, I made my trustworthy Pate Brisee recipe instead of the provided pastry dough recipe. My trustworthy recipe is actually Martha Stewart’s Perfect Pate Brisee recipe. :) Also, instead of the traditional top crust, I decided to cut leaves using a cookie cutter, score the leaf veins using a knife, and then place them on top of the pie as if they fell off of a tree. It looked so beautiful!! I was very pleased. :) It smelled really great too.

Pear Butterscotch Pie

All the pie entries looked and tasted delicious!! Some of my favorites were the Greek Pie (a spin-off on Spanakopita), the Tomato Pie, the Sawdust Pie, the Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Pie, and the Lemon Shaker Pie. After careful deliberation, the results were in. The winners were as follows:

Appetizer: Cindy’s Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Pie
Main Dish: Sara’s Shepherd’s Pie
Unusual: Donna’s Orange Pie
Dessert: My pie!!! :)

Also, the grand prize went to… my pie! I could not believe it!! I was really surprised.

My Pear Butterscotch Pie

I would like to thank everyone who voted for it. I had a lot of fun making it. Also, a special thanks is in order for Cindy for organizing the event! I look forward to next year’s bakeoff.

Bakeoff Grand Prize

The bakeoff grand prize: a professional grade pie pan with an engraved cover. :)

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On Friday night, Joel and I along with our friend Kristin went to the new wine and chocolate place called Chocolate and Vines. It is located on University Avenue near Craft Company No. 6. I saw the sign for it as I was walking back to my car after attending the Clothesline Festival in September. I was excited, since I love chocolate and wine. :)

The place is a cross between a wine bar and a coffee shop, and is located in an old Victorian house. The house is beautiful, but the atmosphere was so-so. The “dining” area is separated into two rooms with stark white tables and dark comfy dining chairs (a nice touch). The walls were stenciled with gold Fleur-de-Lis emblems and crystal chandeliers were hanging from the ceiling. I was kind of put off by the still-lingering fresh paint odor as well as the men/women’s bathroom signs. They stuck out like a sore thumb. :( Both Kristin and I thought that they could have done better as far as the signs go. Also, it was a little too bright in there. Perhaps they should add a dimmer switch so they can make it cozier. Lastly, the pool table in an adjoining room was a little odd. I suppose it could be fun to play pool and have some wine and chocolate. Although, I am not sure that the rest of the guests would appreciate the noise.

Now on to the menu. The menu contained a few pages dedicated to wine, a small section dedicated to beer and desserts, and a fairly large section dedicated to chocolates. The prices for the chocolates range from $1.50 to $2.25 (I think) per piece. Also, according to our waitress, the chocolates are crafted by a chocolatier from Miami and the desserts, including the cheesecakes, are flown in from Italy.

After a long wait (I don’t think that they were expecting a full house), we finally ordered. We decided to share a bottle of red wine, a Merlot to be exact, which was very tasty and fairly priced, considering that it is a restaurant. Joel and I both picked 3 dark chocolates and Kristin picked 2 dark and 1 “non-dark” chocolate with hazelnuts (I can’t recall its name). The chocolates were pretty good. I would not rave about them though. The chocolates that I had at David Bacco Chocolats in Madison, WI were memorable. If you are ever in Madison, it is a must!! :) Also, Kristin read in The City that they are supposed to “focus on pairing wines and micro-brews with cheese, truffles, mousses, and other desserts”. The menu did not suggest any pairings for the drinks and desserts or chocolates. Asking our waitress for pairing suggestions was not very helpful. She did say that the red wine that we picked pairs nicely with the dark chocolates that we selected. That was not a big surprise. Any red wine pairs nicely with chocolate. Perhaps next time we should pick a beer and see what they suggest as far as the chocolate goes. Also, 4 out of the 7 desserts that they offered were cheesecakes. I was very surprised that they did not offer a chocolate cake. We mentioned to our waitress that it would be nice if they offered more cakes and less cheesecake. She was happy to listen to our feedback, which was nice. I guess they are still working out the kinks, since they have only been opened for a week. Perhaps I should give them another chance.

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One of my favorite RBC rides is the Powder Puff ride. Aside from the humorous name, which comes from the fact that the ride starts in Powder Mills Park, the ride is great. It includes a fast descent down Garnsey Rd and Steele Rd, a bunch of steep hills, including Woolston, Bluhm, and Thayer (just to name a few), and some fast flats. I love this ride because I can get a great workout even though it is only 25 miles. I also love this ride because it is very scenic and I can ride it from my house. I have done the ride a dozen times. It is my default ride when I do not have a lot of time to dedicate to a ride. I even signed up to be the ride leader back in September and next year just so I can ride it. Some call it an obsession. I call it a great ride.

I set off from my house this morning as I usually do; however, instead of riding the Powder Puff ride, I decided to take a different route. I know… can you believe it!?! :) I took a left on Garnsey, went up Vineyard Hill and Steele, down Bluhm, and then a left onto Wilkinson, which connected me to the Valentown Yellow Mills ride. It was such a great ride! I rode past historic Pumpkin Hook, lots of cornfields, a couple of farms, a heard of cows, and a few tree lined sections. The roads were fairly flat and fast. The sun was shining and aside from the bare trees and dry cornfields, it felt like a summer day. And while riding on Blazey, a colorful woodpecker flew above me. That just made my day! As I was riding up Bluhm, I found myself riding into a rhythm. While listening to my hard breathing and the sound of my bike squeaking, I was thinking to myself “What an amazing day to go for a bike ride!”

I really need to fix that squeaking noise. :)

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Since Halloween was yesterday, a spooky dinner was in order. It was the perfect occasion for my Bloody soup with eyeballs. Whhooaaaa!! :)

Bloody soup with eyeballs

Bloody soup with eyeballs

Yokko brought a delicious Squash and apple salad. To make it more festive, she cut the squash and apple in pumpkins, bats, and witch hats shapes.

Quesadillas and Squash and apple salad

Quesadillas and Squash and apple salad

The menu also included Goat cheese and prosciutto quesadillas and Pumpkin chocolate chip bread for dessert.

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Yokko, Joel, and I feasted while trick-or-treaters visited us. It was fun to see all the children dressed up in their costumes. Some of them were very original, while others were not. But I guess if they had fun that is all that matters. Unfortunately, we did not get too many trick-or-treaters, so I am now stuck with a ton of candy. :(

While waiting for trick-or-treaters, we started talking about this particular house in a neighborhood close by that has a gazillion decorations for Christmas. We decided to take a road trip to see if they did anything for Halloween. Oh, did they… need I say more??

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Crazy Halloween decorations - too bad we did not have our regular camera :(

I hope that all of you had a fun Halloween!

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