January 28, 2011

brunch for one

I had a dentist appointment yesterday morning and while walking back towards the subway to go home, I passed by the new Le Pain Quotidien that opened on Walnut Street. I've been looking forward to their opening ever since I ate at one in DC. I can be a snob when it comes to restaurant chains, but what I love about these restaurants is that they don't feel like they're part of a chain. They all pretty much look the same but are so well designed. Think rustic chic with exposed ceilings, lots of reclaimed wood (at least it looks like it), marble counters, and metal fixtures. They also have these large beautiful wood tables where you can sit and eat with strangers or would be perfect for large groups. I wish I could fit one in my house! And a big plus - the food is really good! Since I didn't have much planned for the rest of the day (besides going home and shoveling a foot of snow) and I had a new British Vogue in my purse, I decided to treat myself to brunch.



I had some green tea and quiche lorraine and it was delicious. I like how their mugs are more like mini bowls - allows you to wrap your hands around them completely - perfect for a cold, winter day. I had a lovely time by myself. Wish I could do this everyday!!

January 27, 2011

spring jackets

I don't know about you, but I'm so tired of this weather. We've already had a couple of snowstorms and are in the midst of one now with more snow to come! Yuck. I'm excited for warmer weather and I'm looking forward to trading my winter coat in for something lighter. And there are some really nice ones out for this spring - here are my favorites:

1. jacket by Akris


2. Donna Karan trench


3. Valentino trench/cape


4. Aryn K. jacket


5. jacket from ModCloth


January 26, 2011

never as good as mom's...

My mom is an amazing cook. I never realized it growing up because I was busy being jealous of all the kids that were eating Hamburger Helper and Kraft Mac & Cheese. Now that I'm older, I know better...and I've still never had Hamburger Helper, but I no longer want to! I'm sure I've said this before, but it's so difficult getting a recipe from my mom. She doesn't always know the English names of herbs or veggies and there are rarely exact measurements of things - it's always a little bit of this and little of that. Which results in things not turning out to be nearly as good as when she makes them. And that's exactly what happened when I tried to make her shrimp soup/stew recipe. It's actually a pretty simple recipe with just a few ingredients and although it was still tasty, it didn't taste as good or look as good. Sigh...

lemon grass on the far left, chopped scallions on the top, chopped culantre on the bottom (can be found at an Asian supermarket)


That just doesn't look that good does it? Believe me, it tasted a million times better than it looks but I like my food to look pretty too! When my mom makes it, the broth is more orange-y and the herbs are a brighter green.


You eat it with rice (of course) and this AMAZING spicy chilli sauce that you pour over top. Of everything. Eric will even eat it over plain white rice. We had leftover sauce so I cooked some chicken legs and thighs the next night and ate it with rice. Yum. Also good over fish.

Shrimp Soup/Stew Recipe


Tamarind Soup Base Mix (can be found at any Asian supermarket)
1/2 a lemon grass stem
Culantre (5 or 6 pieces)
Shrimp (my mom always gets the shrimp with the heads attached - she eats the heads, I don't)
Fish Sauce
3 scallions


Bring a pot of water to boil with the lemon grass stem in the water. When it comes to a boil, add the shrimp. Add the herbs when the shrimp look done. Add a tbsp or two (or more to taste) of the tamarind soup base mix and about a tbsp of fish sauce (or more to taste). And you're done!

Spicy Chilli Sauce Recipe


Lime (2)
Fish sauce
Whole Thai chilli peppers


Squeeze limes into a bowl. Add about 2 garlic cloves, minced. Depending on how spicy you like it, add 1 or 2 chilli peppers, chopped up. Add about 2 or 3 pieces of the culantre chopped. Add maybe half a scallion, chopped. Add fish sauce - its really hard for me to say how much because I kept adding until it no longer tasted too sour - sorry for the vagueness. Mix all together and enjoy!

January 25, 2011

cinnamon snails

Cinnamon snails are probably one of the easiest desserts you can make - and sooooooooo good. People always think they're way more complicated than they actually are. I did learn to make them in my 7th grade home ec class, so how difficult can they be? If a bunch of absent minded, awkward middle schoolers can make them, so can you!





They're bascially mini cinnamon rolls and I can eat about 10 of them at a time. And I have.


white bread
cream cheese (softened)


Cut the crust off the bread. Spread cream cheese on the bread and roll it up and cut into 2 "snails". Melt the butter and make a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. Dip each snail into butter than roll in the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Set snails on baking pan and bake at 350 degrees until they feel slightly crispy (maybe 20-30 min).

So simple right? Enjoy!!

January 24, 2011

a quick french meal...

...or so I thought. I came across this post when I was "researching" for my post on Paris and knew that it was the perfect time of year to make vin chaud. What better way to deal with below freezing temperatures (it got down to only 16 degrees this past weekend!!) than with some warm spiced wine? It also gave me a good reason to break out my new vintage glasses that I got at 1600 Below:


Aren't they so pretty? I think they're from the 40's. I'm just disappointed that there were only 4 of them. To complement the vin chaud, I wanted to make something French and something easy. And I thought I had it when I decided to make croque madames. I mean, how hard complicated can they be? Aren't they just grilled ham and cheese sandwiches with an egg on top? Of course it's not that simple - it's French! But it was worth the effort - very rich and very delicious:


I love French food. Yum.

This is the recipe I used for vin chaud:


1 bottle of red wine (a fruity type, preferably)
1/3 cup of cognac1/3 cup of brown sugar (or more…experiment)
Zest of one entire orange
4 whole cloves
3 or 4 cinnamon sticks

Put the wine and cognac into a pan and heat. Once it is good and warm, and if you are feeling particularly brave, hold a match to it and let the cognac flame off. Or leave it be and enjoy the extra warmth. Lower the heat and add the sugar, orange zest, cloves, and cinnamon. Let it heat through for another ten minutes. Strain and taste. If it is a bit overpowering, water it down a bit. Serve it in glass mugs if you have them.

This is the recipe I used for the croque madames - which I found here:


5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
6 ounces thinly sliced Gruyere
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg, or to taste
8 slices firm white sandwich bread, crusts discarded
¼ pound thinly sliced ham


Make the Sauce:

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a small heavy sauce pan over moderately low heat. Stir in flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes to make a roux. Whisk in milk and bringto a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop enough cheese to measure ½ cup. Whisk chopped cheese and mustard into sauce, then whisk until cheese is melted. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with nutmeg. Cover with wax paper placed directly on surface to keep warm.

Make The Sandwich:

Lay 4 slices bread on work surface. Divide ham and remaining cheese slices among them. Spread 1 tablespoon Mornay sauce evenly on each of remaining bread slices and invert over ham and cheese. Spread half of remaining butter evenly on top of sandwiches and transfer, buttered sides down, to an oven proof 12 inch skillet. Spread remaining butter on top of sandwiches. Cook over low heat, turning ounces, until both sides are golden, 6 to 8 minutes total.

Preheat broiler. Leaving sandwiches in skillet, spread tops of sandwiches evenly with remaining Mornay sauce. Broil 5 to 6 inches from heat until sauce is bubbling and golden in patches, about 2 minutes. Transfer sandwiches to plates.

January 20, 2011

roast chicken


I've yet to come across an Ina Garten recipe that I didn't like...and today's recipe is definitely one of my favorites. It's really simple (no hard to find or expensive ingredients here) and there really isn't that much prep work. The only thing is that it takes about 1.5 hrs to cook (depending on the size of the chicken) - but it's worth the wait. I followed her recipe pretty closely - just added some mushrooms - would also be great with potatoes or butternut squash. Ate it with some bread and a green salad - delicious dinner!


1 5-6 lbs roasting chicken
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch fresh thyme, plus 20 sprigs
1 lemon, halved
1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 large yellow onion thickly sliced
4 carrots cut into 2" chunks
1 bulb fennel, tops removed, cut into wedges
Olive oil


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Removed the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, both halves of lemon, and all the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the onions, carrots, and fennel in a roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, 20 sprigs of thyme, and olive oil. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top.

Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes. Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve it with the vegetables.

January 19, 2011



Sorry for the lack of posts and this really isn't a proper one...but when I saw this image on The Cherry Blossom Girl I just had to share. I love everything about it. Enjoy!

January 13, 2011

house love pt.6

Okay, so this post might a bit biased since this house belongs to Eric - but even if he wasn't my boyfriend, I'd still love it. About 4 1/2 years ago, Eric bought a 900 SF, 2-story rowhome in South Philly. The house was built in the early 1900's but not very many of the original details were left - the stairs, some doors (not all) and some trim around the doors and windows. He preserved as many of the original details as possible, but it required some updating - the before:


Look at that terrible arch! Eeek. This is what he did:

I removed dropped ceilings from some of the rooms and put up drywall. I installed bamboo floors throughout the living areas and bedrooms. I did a mini kitchen renovation that involved painting the cabinets, installing a new countertop, backsplash and cork floor. I installed some salvaged doors to match the remaining original doors. I painted every single surface of the interior of the home. The exterior of the house was in relatively good shape and just needed some minor sprucing up and painting.

And the after...


Can you believe the difference? Pretty amazing right? The change in flooring from that disgusting carpet to the beautiful, light bamboo probably has the most impact to the space - and also Eric's favorite element of his home:

They were my first DIY home improvement project, so I'm sort of proud of that. I love the color, it really warms up the house.


I love the image above - it shows off some of my favorite pieces that he owns: the gargoyle, Eames rocker, Saarinen end table, arco lamp and Badger (do you see him, he's lounging on the chair). It's a great mix of materials, styles and color - really shows off his design sensibility. This is how he describes his personal style:

I love modern design, but I also love old houses, so I'm really into mixing the two. I wanted the house to have a sort of mid-century modern, bachelor pad feel to it, while also retaining all of the original woodwork and detailing that still remained. The furnishings are a mix of classic modern pieces (eames rocker, saarinen table and arco lamp), vintage finds (refinished dining chairs and console) and new pieces with clean lines. I used color and some funky accessories to inject some fun into the space. Sary helped quite a bit too.

Thanks for the shout out Eric :)







Eric's work on his kitchen is probably the most impressive thing that he's done to his house. Not only is it an incredible transformation, but besides the countertop, he did it all himself. I can't say enough about his craft - he's a perfectionist. You wouldn't be able to tell that he's never had experience doing home improvement projects before.



Eric lives in the best part of South Philly (in my biased opinion - I also live in the area) and I was curious to see what he would say his favorite local spots were:

I'm fortunate that Fond, one of my favorite restaurants in the city, is only a couple of blocks away. It's an amazing little BYO on Passyunk that Sary has already given lots of love on this blog. Cantina de los Caballitos and Devils Den are two other local spots that I frequent often.

They would be my picks too:)

Awesome job, Eric! You did an incredible job - you should be very proud of yourself!!

January 12, 2011


Last week I expressed my love of Jose Garces and his newest restaurant JG Domestic. Today, I'm continuing the lovefest and talking about his first restaurant in Philly - Amada. Amada pretty much started the tapas trend here in Philly and set a pretty high standard - and still continues to do so. It's a wonderful restaurant to go to for a delicious (Spanish) meal or to stop in to grab a drink and some snacks. And it doesn't hurt that the space is beautiful - it's hard to see all the great details in the space through photos - you'll need to stop in to see for yourself...

image via

I stopped in the other day with a friend to have a couple of drinks and a couple of dishes. But a couple dishes turned into 5, and by the time we left I was pretty full. And very happy.

We started with some cocktails - I had a "Dark Habits" - lime, strawberries and gin. Tasty, but I preferred Coll's choice - "Tie Me Up Tie Me Down". It had lemon, vodka and rosemary. I was nervous that the rosemary would be overpowering but it was perfect.


Complimentary dish of tortilla-like chips and dip/spread that tasted somewhat fishy and very yummy:


Alcachofas y setas - Spanish flatbread with artichoke, wild mushrooms, black truffles and manchego:


Gambas al ajillo - garlic shrimp. So good we had to order extra bread to soak up the garlic oil:


Madre e hijo - chicken breast with fried egg, mojama and truffles. I'm a sucker for anything with an egg on top:


We had the leche frita - fried vanilla cream, chocolate hazelnut sauce, hazelnut ice cream - for dessert. But we ate it so quickly that I didn't even get a chance to photograph - I seem to have this problem with Jose Garces's desserts! It was delicious!!

January 11, 2011

and the winner is...

Thanks to everyone that participated in the giveaway - and thanks to CSN Stores for making it possible! I decided that the easiest way to pick a winner was to put everyone's name in box, shake it up, and the first name chosen would be the lucky one:





Drumroll please........


Yay Stephanie! Congrats! BTW - Stephanie has a great blog called Love&Lace that I've been following for a while now - be sure to check it out. Enjoy the beautiful tray!!

January 10, 2011

i dream of paris...

image via {this is glamorous}

One of my New Year's resolutions is to take a trip to Paris. About 10 years ago was my first (and only) trip to the City of Light and I've been in love ever since. I love the buildings, the food, the culture, the shopping, the food. Did I mention the food? I think I could easily live like a Parisian - I love escargot, foie gras, marcarons, wine (at any hour of the day), fashion, walking...isn't that the typical Parisian lifestyle? Karen and I have been talking about taking a girls trip there for as long as I can remember and we're hoping that this will be the year! To get us excited for our upcoming travel plans, we each decided to do posts on our dream Paris vacations....so here goes...

WhatToPack copy

1. Vintage inspired luggage - what better way to get your holiday started than by packing your valuables in beautiful luggage!

2. Chic and most importantly COMFORTABLE flats - The best way to get to know a city is by walking. But that doesn't mean you need to wear sneakers - these shoes are perfect for wandering aimlessly through the streets of Paris and you'll look cute doing it.

3. This bag is fabulous because you can use it day OR night. It's large enough to fit a camera, map, bottle of water and anything else you need to carry while you're doing tourist-y things during the day but pretty enough to bring with you for a night out on the town!

4. An outfit isn't complete without a great pair of sunglasses.

5. This dress looks so airy and comfortable - perfect for touring the city in. But can also be dressed up with some heels and jewelry for an evening out - multifunctional:)

6. I get cold very easily and am always freezing on planes! Wouldn't it be luxurious to have your own (gorgeous) throw to snuggle up in rather than using the plain, thin ones airlines provide?

7. I LOVE this dress. Very understated but so stylish. And you can't go wrong with stripes.

8. I think these shoes speak for themselves. So sparkly!

WhatToDo copy

There are a million things I want to do in Paris but I need to prioritize if I only have a week. Here are my top 5:

1. The Louvre: This is a given. Even if you aren't interested in viewing any of the exhibits, it's an experience just to see the glass pyramid. I remember feeling such awe walking up to it. Find more info about the musuem here.

2. What's better than sitting outside at a cafe, sipping a glass of wine and people watching? Not much. I plan to do this at least once a day while I'm in Paris.

3. Macarons: The first macaron I've ever had was from Laduree in London - which might also be the best macarons in the world. I've wanted to go to the Laduree shops in Paris ever since - to see where it all started. Macarons are all over the place in Paris - wouldn't it be fun to go on a little tasting tour?

4. Musee d'Orsay: Another beautiful museum in Paris - I definitely want to plan a visit since I didn't get a chance to go during my last trip. Find more info here.

5. Flea Markets: Paris is full of flea markets and Les Puces de Saint-Ouen is the most famous one of them all. It's located just outside of Paris in Porte de Clignancourt and is the largest antiques market in the world.

I'm not sure when this trip will actually happen, but I hope I can show you photos of me doing all these things, going to all these places before the year is over!

You can find Karen's version of her dream Paris vacation here.

January 7, 2011

jg domestic

images via

I heart Jose Garces. He has really well designed restaurants, makes amazing food and also seems like a really nice guy. I've now been to every restaurant he's opened in Philly and I've only been dissapointed once - and it wasn't even with the food. It was the house margarita at Distrito - it's not your typical margarita - wasn't tart at all. Maybe if it wasn't called a margarita and I was expecting something completely different, I wouldn't have been so dissapointed...Anyways, I went to his newest restaurant,JG Domestic, with some friends last week and knew I would have a good meal but didn't realize just how good it would be! It was the perfect combination of interesting and cool decor, fantastic food and awesome company. The photos that I took of the space with my iphone just don't do it justice, so I found better images online:

image via

image via

image via

If you're not familiar, it's located on the 1st level of the Cira Center - basically in the lobby. They did a great job creating an intimate space within such a large and open area. It has a very natural, organic feel - very fitting with the type of food they offer. They specialize in the "season’s best from American growers, making available to you ingredients at their peak: premium pastured meats, farm fresh vegetables, and organic dairy". Their menu consists of smaller plates - sort of like tapas but a bit larger. The idea is to order a bunch of different plates and everything is served family style.

Our meal started with complimentary bread. How adorable is the little pan that it came in? And it was delicious.


Next came the wood oven flatbread topped with chanterelles, black truffles, chedder and egg yolk. Yes, it was as good as it sounds:


Then we got the blue crab gratin. C'mon, can you really go wrong with crab?


Our meat dishes came next - the wild boar rack on the left and the Adobe rubbed ribeye on the right. I've been eating a lot of wild boar lately and I like it! This dish had a mustard glaze and came with maple grits (yum!). And the ribeye - so fatty and delicious. Some people think its gross to eat fat, but it's the best part!!


And more meat: rabbit and duck. I was a bit nervous about the rabbit - I've never had it before and I'm not a huge fan of game-y meats. But I was assured that it tasted just like chicken, so I gave it a try. And it tastes just like chicken! Well, at least the loin did. There were parts that were definitely more game-y than others, but in general it was tasty. The duck was probably my favorite dish of the night. There were 3 parts of the duck prepared - the breast, duck confit made with the leg and seared foie gras. I wish I had this entire dish to myself!


We decided to be a little healthy and ordered a veggie dish...and it was probably the richest dish of the night. Hey, at least we tried. We got the crosnes which came with potato dumplings and artichokes. I had never heard of crosnes before and to be honest they look pretty gross - like worms. But they're not worms - they're a tuber and pretty good. Especially with potato dumplings and artichokes. And butter. A lot of butter.


By this point, I was pretty stuffed and definitley would've been happy without dessert. Until I saw a nearby table with beignets. We ate them so fast I didn't even get a chance to take a photo! SOOOO GOOOOOOOOD.