How to start your weekend (with carbs).

Oh, Saturday you're here at last. I've been thinking about you all week, you minx.

Big lazy plans for you include dinner with friends, that yoga class I desperately need, a little neighborhood exploring and some R&R with a splash of vino on the side.

But before anything, there will be pancakes. Any good Saturday should be fueled by fluffy disks of flour, sugar and butter. These, from Smitten Kitchen, are a must-have.

Happy Weekend!


It's Raining [ra]Men

Photo Courtesy of Jamie Federico

"This is healing food." I say the same thing every time I eat a hot bowl of ramen.

What can I say? Japan gets it. They know how to eat well, how to prepare simple delicious meals in a way that still feels smart and not at all contrived. 

I cuddle up to a bowl of this goodness, and things just feel better. My stomach is warm, I feel nourished. The beauty about ramen is that it is very much up for interpretation. 

Photo Courtesy of Jamie Federico

Keeping the flavor profile intact with the usual suspects--shallots, garlic, ginger and scallions--I usually make a kitchen-sink variety, meaning that whatever veggies I have on hand get thrown into the mix. 

Photo Courtesy of Jamie Federico

More often than not, things get topped off with a poached egg. 

Dipping plastic in hot water initially sounds like a bad idea, but trust me on this. Crack an egg in plastic wrap, create a little pouch with it, and place in your hot water. 

No more messy poaching in egg white-cloud water. Shout out to the brilliant Chef Carey Yorio for this.

Photo Courtesy of Jamie Federico

While hardboiled is more traditional, the oozy yolk from a poached egg lends an amazing silky texture to the noodles. Think Asian Carbonara.

Photo Courtesy of Jamie Federico

And please, always have Sriracha on hand. I practically wear it in a holster while cooking. And even sometimes when I'm not. 

Your Best Ramen in 5 Steps:

1. Boil and season water, cook noodles. Drain, set aside.

2. In a large pot, saute your aromatics: garlic, shallots, ginger, white parts of scallions or leeks. 
Bump up the heat until you're scared of burning something. Deglaze with a bit of lime juice and soy sauce. Scrape the little crispy bits off the bottom of the pan. 

3. Add the rest of your kitchen-sink vegetables, sauté until cooked through and flavors are well developed. 

4. Add in desired amount of desired stock. I use low-sodium vegetable stock, about 1.5 quarts. If you prefer a soupier dish, add more. 

5. Add your cooked noodles back in, turn off the heat. Dish it, top with desired toppings (chives, Sriracha, eggs, whatever you fancy) and enjoy!

*Note: If you want to get fancy, you can line bowls with seaweed before plating. Good times.

*Another note: This dish is proven to taste better in the rain, on your couch, in your most cuddly clothes, with a good movie on. 


Tuesday Getaways: Fig and Fauna

It's Tuesday. That means that it's not Monday and you're almost at Wednesday, which is almost mid-week. For slow-moving weeks like this one, I declare it the new hump day. 

And on this rainy, humid, particularly blah Tuesday, I invite you to briefly steal away for a few moments and (make pretend to) go to Fig and Fauna.

I was inspired by these beautiful photos courtesy of Cannelle et Vanille, a blog that deserves a dedicated post all to themselves. I hope you will be, too.

A husband and wife duo who decided to get the heck out of suburbia and embrace country life (in South Florida, mind you!), the resulting Fig and Fauna farm looks like a humble slice of utopia. 

I'm so excited to see what their upcoming cookbook has in store. I say this because these photos make me want to slap on a pair of overalls and start helping out with farm chores. And I say that never. 

So enjoy this little respite, check out their site along with Cannelle et Vanille!

Thank goodness for tiny trips.


Good Eats: So a man walks into a Vbar...

The man sitting at the end of the bar was air drumming and drinking alone. Wearing sunglasses and running his fingers through the glam rock hair down his back, he was drinking margaritas and riding high.
It was his birthday and he decided to start the celebrations early.

"Maaan, the first time I came here, I liked it. But the people--the people keep me coming back," he said.

The "here" in question is Vbar. The location is New York's East Village, specifically at St. Mark's and 1st Avenue...where the aforementioned dubious hair and amazing food collide. This gentleman may have been enjoying multiple cocktails while flying solo, but one thing was certain: I trusted his endorsement.

When we first moved to the neighborhood, we were on the lookout for what would become our regular watering hole. Given its close proximity to our apartment and cozy ambiance, Vbar easily nudged out the competition. The drinks are good. The pours are generous...loving even. Almost as if the adorable bartender in suspenders knows the kind of day you've trudged through to get there.

I had certain expectations from the Italian bar that also serves as a cafe-style restaurant.

Wine, for one. I expected good wine. Their list is exceptionally diverse.

A delicious cappuccino wasn't surprising either. Any self-respecting Italian proprietor would pride himself in a sturdy, frothy foam that stays around for the long haul.

The people--as this 80s-lovin' man will tell any bystander--the people, surprised me.

To start with, I didn't expect them to be so...nice. Nice is usually reserved for less cool neighborhoods where strollers and clean parks and shirts with crocodile logos abound.

But they do 'nice' really well here. Smiling happens. They remember your name and your favorite place to sit. They tell you about what's been happening and you tell them about the big project you're working on late which is why you're eating alone at the bar. They're nice. The candlelit bar is nice. The whole thing is just nice. In my book, good service moves mountains, and it seems like the team here really gets that.

Now onto the reason you're really here. The food. In the best way possible, the food is downright shocking.

You kind of expect pub grub when you're going out for a Guinness, but with a decidedly Italian slant to their menu, Vbar elevates the entire experience. At one point you wonder, 'Am I drinking at a restaurant or eating at a bar?' A bit of both, actually.  During a recent brunch that was kicked off with spicy, briny bloody Marys, I was delighted to learn that they've mastered granola. You know how I feel about granola.

Their is a not-too-sweet mix of walnuts, oats, almonds and raisins. Served over tangy, thick yogurt and fresh fruit, I was practically fighting with my husband over who got the last bite.

At our server's suggestion, I went ahead and got a little crazy with my entree order. Apparently mozzarella in carrozza is the dish you must experience before leaving. I have to say, they were totally right.

While yes, I'm more of a green-juice girl, but come on--toasted brioche layered with ham, fresh mozzarella and fried eggs? It's everything you are imagining it to be. Salty ham, sweet bread, a little gooey from the cheese and a little crispy from the edges of the eggs. Go there and get this.

And yes, the sausage, slightly obscene-looking while sitting naked on their plate, were perfectly browned and flavorful. I can't say we did them any justice, as we were ready to be rolled out the door at this point, but we took note to save room for next time.

And by next time, I mean this weekend. I have big plans for their lemon ricotta pancakes. As should you.

To view the Vbar menus, click here.

To view their address and location information, click here.