Friday, August 31, 2007

London Calling

Perhaps the reason for my travel writing procrastination has something to do with my desire to prolong the vacation mode I have been in for some time. Although the weather was bleak and the weather men should surely be fired, our adventure in London was very special.

The first two days found me venturing off on my own, always under the watchful "Eye" that seemed to pop up everywhere, even at Buckingham Palace where this beautiful statue was photographed:

I am always fascinated by statues, something about this lion's confident resolve to protect the palace in addition to the British flag waving so beautifully in the background made me really take notice:


The palace was a beautiful place, but more impressive were the gardens and the impeccable landscaping that set a fantastic backdrop for these swans to enjoy a little rainy swim. Oh, and there's that 'eye' again:


Not being one for spending a fortune to be herded with masses of tourists, I took in the sights from a far most of the time. This shot of Westminster Abbey was taken from the small church just across the yard from this magnificent structure. I thought it looked appropriately mysterious from afar:


This girl was a newcomer to London, but not to the historic site of this guy here:


Highlights of this trip were our dinners at 2Veneti and Ozer, the former being photographed here. They offered a lovely aperitif that was followed by a scrumptious dinner. Ozer (not pictured) was a surprisingly reasonable and extremely delicious mediterannean restaurant right off Regent Street.


The perfect end to our adventure in London was our trip to see The Merchant of Venice at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre.
Liked London, but adored Paris. And I'll tell you why soon!

The little mixer that could

and did...After much ado last night, I rested my nouveau eggs on the counter overnight and was rewarded this morning with lovely soft peaks. Okay, so maybe I over mixed a bit. I was a bit overzealous that it was working!

Needless to say my macaroons turned out mighty tasty, if not super gorgeous to look at, and hey, it's just a first try from a novice baker so cut me some slack!

Here are the cute little guys as they rested in the kitchen. It's not the prettiest picture, but you get the point.


I now know why everyone started coloring them, they look like little hamburgers when you just use cocoa and chocolate ganache.

In any case they are mighty tasty and there are plenty to go around.

When shall we expect you?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Your advice, s'il vous plait!

I am thoroughly embarrassed and hope that some kind soul reading this post will shed some light on my recent catastrophe.

You see, I would have photos to share with you had I not thrown all of the evidence promptly in the garbage (except for the yolks which I made into a lovely dill mayonnaise).

Here's the rub. I wanted to duplicate those luscious macaroons from Laduree and went about using a recipe I found here and was met with some sad news. Yes folks, while I find it tough to admit defeat, my whites simply would not come to a soft nor anything resembling a stiff peak.

Yes, I added sugar after first breaking the whites. Yes I used a proper mixer. Yes I beat them for ample time (30 minutes and all I had to show was a lovely looking creamy mix of egg whites and sugar).

My only ideas are that either the whites were still too cold or they were too fresh. I bought them from the farmer only 2 days ago which might mean they are relatively new to this earth.

Can anyone please help this baker in training? I already tread lightly around measuring cups or anything requiring an oven timer. I don't want this to be my last expedition in adventurous baking...

Hope to hear from you!

Creature Comforts

Looks like we weren't the only ones happy to be home this week! Little Lola was perfectly content to take a snooze on the couch once she was sure that we were all finally back in one place.

Herb roasted turkey breast with pink and purple smashed potatoes and sauteed summer squash

I was eager to return to the farmers market and was grateful to be rewarded with this home cooked dinner. This is an old standby that is so pretty to look at and warming to the soul to enjoy. It might not be food porn but when served to guests they feel like family!

I like to buy boneless turkey breast from Dipaola's and sprinkling fresh rosemary, sage, thyme and tons of garlic both under and above the skin with a quick sprinkle of sea salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil to guarantee a crispy skin.

Pink and purple (is anyone sensing a theme here?) smashed potatoes are made with sauteed garlic, olive oil, and a generous bit of dill. This meal was rounded off by some quickly roasted zucchini and summer squash in simple olive oil, sea salt and pepper.

Thank goodness for small things!

My London and Paris posts are coming...I promise! Stay tuned :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Playing Catch Up

When last we left I teased you with memories of my day trip to Howth sans photos. So without further ado, I bring you this lovely little village by the sea. A serious must for any visitor to Dublin.
While I will not bore you with the details, I will share with you some of the magnificent sites including the boats gently bobbing in the waves:
...the picturesque lighthouse and my ideal home:...the fishing boats returning home after a good day:
...the many visitors that the fisherman had to look forward to on the way home:
...my little sea friends arrived at feeding time, too! Quite the impromptu zoo, I also realized that my friend likes to blow raspberries at the fisherman:(and YES he really was that close and NO this is not a zoomed in picture!)
...taking this trail:
I got a nice look at Howth from up above:
Someone gets to live in one of these pretty houses on the hillside:
While all I have are memories of wishing you were here:Won't you please forward my mail here:

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

What a long strange trip it's been! (And a video of the Eiffel Tower at night)

So maybe strange isn't the right word to describe it but it was awfully funny sitting at a cafe in Paris this morning for breakfast then being home to eat dinner in our little place in NYC.

While the stories are too long for this jet-lagged girl to bear, I will share with you this little jewel of a video shot last night as the Eiffel Tower put on its spectacular light show.

Every hour on the hour the lights glitter and shine as a million little diamonds light up the sky. My warning to you is that the video is for some reason sideways but you can still see it in all it's glory.

More tomorrow with new pictures from London and Paris and a new adventure into the Farmers Market and back to the kitchen. I can't wait to share all the details.

For now I leave you with this:
video

Sunday, August 26, 2007

country girl no more?

As I type we are sitting on a bench at the jardin du luxoumberg on a stunning fall day. I cannot wait until we arrive home so that I can share with you the details of our journey but I just can't bare the ideah of spending nearly thirty dollars to get online. Just wanted to let you know that I'm here and there is much to look forward to when I can again sign on and share tales of this magical city with you on wednesdau.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A perfect day for a spot of tea

(pictures to follow)

We touched down at Heathrow around half past 8 Wednesday morning. Instead of arriving at our hotel and resting a moment, we found our way to the tube at Oxford Circus and parted ways. Hubby to work, me to explore a new city…

Despite the bitter winds and chilling rain (isn't it supposed to be summer in these parts too or did we leave all the sun in NYC?) I was able to find my way to Buckingham Palace just in time for the cancelling of the changing of the guards. Apparently the Brits aren't fond of venturing out in the rain!

No worries, like a good tourist I set off towards Westminster and Big Ben, taking note of how grand the structures actually look in person! (*footnote: pictures to be posted as soon as we get out of this nutty hotel and to a place where internet is included in exorbitant nightly rates :) I promise)

After a 4 hour trek through the city from Hyde Park along the Thames and up through SOHO, Picadilly Circus and back again to Oxford Circus it was time to give into the rain and head to the comfort of our hotel room. Dinner at Les Portes des Indes was quite nice, although I'm still choking on the bill. Hopefully there will be more fun to report tomorrow. Stay tuned if you dare!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Dubliners no more

For my last day flying solo in Dublin I decided to try my luck at a little adventure and was greatly rewarded for my efforts.

Following the footsteps of the two gallants in Joyce's "Dubliners" I wandered along the north side of Stephens Green to Kildare, up around Trinity College and found my way to the Pearse DART stop. Little did I know this was the route of Joyce's characters until I sat on the train on my way to Howth to read their tale. Needless to say I had a nice laugh to myself as I made the 30 minute commute.

I digress…

I arrived in Howth and was blown away by this quaint fishing town. Walking along the main street there were countless pubs to my right and to the left the majestic Irish Sea. The waters were dotted with sailboats and buoys happily bopping in the breeze. I found my way to a proper pub and had a sambo and a pint of Smithwicks, enjoying the crisp air and the vibrant blue-green surroundings.

After lunch I took a small hike towards the Summit of Howth village (highly recommended for the spectacular view). Heading back towards the great bay I followed one of the piers out into the sea and had some great views of the crashing waves, the southern peninsula of Howth and the gorgeous lighthouse at the end of the pier.

The day was made even more special as I made my way back towards the train station. I noticed the gulls becoming even more noisy above as the fishing boats began arriving at port. Just then I noticed a little nose sticking out of the water…wait…two noses. Now there were about a half dozen noses and beady eyes popping out of the sea which upon closer look appeared to be seals looking to score some of the fishermans loot. What a spectacular day, I wish you had been there!

On my return trip I met up with my darling hubby and found our way to Mulligans (his colleagues local pub of choice) where we had one last Guiness and a few nice laughs before hitting Market for dinner (cute tapas place that was also a joint of choice for the locals), stocking up on some last minute candies and heading home.

So now we are Dubliners no longer, but the memory of this magnificent city will not be forgotten.

*pictures to follow when we arrive in Paris, I promise. This hotel wants 20 pounds to get online…what am I a money tree??!?!?!

Monday, August 20, 2007

ob-la-di!

Today was my first day sans hubby. He had to work... not that I'm complaining, it's how we arrived in this glorious city in the first place.

In honor of my first solo day in Dublin I decided to do all things me, which means seeking out the local farmers markets, making friends with locals, enjoying a nice sambo (their word for sandwich?) for lunch and then wandering through the stores I wish we had at home. (I think i will start a petition for Top Shop to come to NYC immediately!)
So this morning, despite the downpours and chilly winds, I found the Moore Street market and bought the first fresh fruit I have eaten in days. Yes they had stickers on them and were surely shipped from someplace not local...but it was fruit!
This pedestrian street is off limits to vehicles which is where this adorable (and friendly) horse came in the picture, to pull the fruit cart of course!

Crossing the O'connell bridge south of the Liffey I headed back towards Trinity College where I stole a shot of the famous Molly Malone statue across from Trinity College.

Then I took a brief walk through Trinity College. I missed the Book of Kells as the line was too long and I didn't feel like shelling out 10 Euro to walk through a library with every other vacationer when there was a whole city to explore. I might have felt differently if they had the Old Testament on hand, but they didn't! It was a nice campus but it has nothing on Fordham's promenade :)

Then it was off to Top Shop (again), Marks and Spencer (as directed by so many of my friends), and every other shoppe on Stephens Green and Grafton Street.

When the hubby was through for the day we took the advice of locals and foodie travellers alike and headed to L'Gueuleton where we were beyond thrilled with dinner of french onion soup followed by mussels in a creamy saffron butter sauce and crispy, still in tact mire poix:

followed by organic chicken (i think it was really cornish hen, but who's counting) atop a pearl onion tatin:
All and all it was a lovely meal. If I were a food critic I would share with you the nuances of the dishes, but since this is merely a journal I will leave it as an enjoyable meal and bid you adieu until tomorrow!

(don't you just feel like you're here too?!?)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

one is the loneliest number

Today I received a personal email from a fellow blogger asking if I missed cooking while traveling far from home.

Don't gasp but the resounding answer is yes!

I don't mean to get on a soap box here, but since I have taken to eating the products of someone else, someone who doesn't quite care whether I am nurished with healthy nutrients or just fillers, I find myself feeling quite gross! Although I must admit that they pull a mean pint in this town.

That said, and I hope I don't offend anyone here, but we are in Ireland, hardly the gastronomic capital. Further, we have not yet made our way to Paris where I'm sure I will be greeted with a cornucopia of local and delicious food.

For now I am stuck staring at this, my last blueberry carrot bundt cake. And yes, I do travel with homemade goodies. I like to be reminded of where I come from...because I like where that puts me.

More pictures tomorrow of this glorious town if you are still with me!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

From the east to the west, and everywhere in between

This mornings adventure was one of splendor. We woke at an un-g-dly hour to catch a train out from the eastern seaboard of Dublin towards the western parts of Galway and finally the cliffs of moher.

Ironically, the transportation was the most remarkable part of the journey. Travelling through the expansive and bucolic flatlands of central Ireland, we were greeted with a myriad of grazers dotting the countryside. Sheep, horses, cows and any combination there of were found in great quantity enjoying the lush green landscape. (forgive the photos taken out the window of our train at 50 kph in the rain)
Upon arriving to Galway we quickly found our bus to the cliffs of moher

En route we were greeted with the breathtaking hills common to the Burren, sprawling with their legendary stone walls to keep livestock safe while to the east the waves were breaking along the coast.
As if the trip itself were not worthy of several postcards home, we arrived and found ourselves here:

and here:

Where my words will fail to describe natures blessing of such a place.


Of course when we returned to Galway we were in desperate need of nourishment so we stumbled here:
to have some lovely Galway chowder and of course, a pint! After a brief stop in the loo,

We wandered around the city and were thrilled that these couch potatoes (meaning us and our Irish counterparts):

had ventured to a far land and met like minded city dwellers purchasing good from their local fish mongers:
Returning to Dublin found us in a fog of delight. If our trip ended now, we would be perfectly thrilled.

And another day is gone, with another day to look forward to tomorrow.
Thank goodness for a good nights rest.

Friday, August 17, 2007

On solid ground


We landed in Dublin early this morning and quickly became acquainted with this marvelous city.

Forgive any gibberish that may follow as I still have not slept!

This morning found us wandering around Grafton Street and over towards Dublin Castle.
Not being one for sitting in exhibits when there is a city to see, G and I stayed outdoors where we were quickly taken with these sand sculptures highlighing the 'seasons' of Dublin through the myriad of authors who hail from this fine city.
These fleeting sculptures represent the best of literary Dublin including Jonathan Swift as Gulliver, and a tribute to the greats of Dublin including James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde (my hero) and the list goes on...




Then we found our way to the famous Guiness brewery where we met a man about a horse (yes we really did befriend this man and yes, his horse wanted to come home with us, please honey?!?)....

before enjoying the 7 floors of hoppy heaven and the grand finale of a real deal pint poured from the holy source...

There are so many more photos to share but I must get to bed or we will miss our train to Galway tomorrow! Until then...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

Just wanted to share a photo from our adventures in cheese that were somehow left out of the other photos.

We are leaving now, I promise!

Waste not want not, or how we aren't very normal.

Before a trip, normal people pack...

Clothes that is!

Apparently we aren't so normal. After cleaning the house, getting my hair cut, packing two ginormous suitcases and every travel book on Dublin, London, and Paris known to man, we decided to clean out the fridge. That is where the fun began...

Since I have taken it upon myself to not waste food (thus the myriad of invented meals we have enjoyed as of late) I could not merely dump the precious ears of corn still in their silky coats, the purple pepper, purple (yes they too come in my favorite color) string beans, last of the plump blueberries and the few remaining strawberries.

No ma'am (or sir if you will), I could not just put these treasures into a garbage bag.

So instead of a leisurely afternoon preparing for our overnight journey, I was chopping and peeling and seeding and bagging and tagging and... yes, I was freezing more fruits and veggies.

Hey, when I say I'm doing something, I do it!

So now we are off, leaving on a jet plane. Please feel free to leave comments, suggestions, warnings or love letters below and I will do my best to post when our feet are on Irish soil.

All the best, and wish us luck, because away we go...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Moving to the country, going to eat a lot of tomatoes

(I know it's peaches, just making sure you were with me!)

There has been much talk as of late regarding our imminent move out to the burbs. Driving the excitement towards this adventure has been darling husbands' reassurance that while I will be leaving my precious city life, I will be rewarded with kitchen-aids (ice-cream AND pasta additions, please) and additions to my all clad collection to my hearts content.

OK, I bite. Let's move.

Only now, EVERYONE knows about our plan (dun, dun, dun)... Which is both excellent and problematic.

Let me rephrase, it's excellent for me that I can now create the "Camp P" I have dreamed of and have friends and family visit for long weekends, which will also allow me to make ridiculous amounts of stuff (jams, muffins, compound butters, you name it) for sending as gifts and will make entertaining just that much easier.

It becomes problematic to hubby as events like this mornings transpire....

Favorite dog run friend: Hey L, I finally decided to get rid of my bread maker that I have been hanging on to for years and thought you might appreciate it.

Me: (moment of awe inspired silence by this thoughtful and exciting proposition) Um, yes please!

FDRF: Great, then I'll drop it off when you are back from vacation.

Me: (thinking holy crap G is going to kill me) You are amazing! I'm perfectly thrilled. Thank you so much for thinking of me. Hey! Now we will never have to go to the grocery store, bread making was the last frontier.

Me & FDRF continue to discuss our pups, projects and lifes pandemonium... but I won't bore you with the details!

So that's the imminent danger of which I speak. Since there are very few readers I will admit that I'm using this forum to gently let my darling husband know of our almost acquisition. (Aren't you excited honey!)

I'm also hoping that this might rouse him from his silence and that he might comment on our exciting news. A girl can hope, right?

In other news...

Tomorrow will find us embarking on a long and lovely journey through Dublin, London, and Paris. I will attempt to post pictures and write notes as I go.

I am most excited to try local cuisines and hope that I do not return 20 pounds heavier after eating at all the recommended places like Bertillion and L’As du Fallafel, and enjoying as many crepes as one girl can handle.

Your opinions, advice, and travel knowledge are greatly appreciated so don't be stingy...please share!

Danger is lurking...

A few neat sites to tide you over until I discuss this imminent danger (sites courtesy of my adorable detective hubby):

http://www.seeqpod.com/
http://hypem.com/

I've always believed in music as the cure all. Try listening to a new artist and tell me if you too don't feel the rush of excitement at discovering new talent, or turn on your ipod and tell me that you don't feel the comfort of hearing an old friend...