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Martha and the four “B’s” of summer

Anne,

I know summer has begun when I first turn on Dancing in the Streets by Martha and the Vandellas. I love her style and the song. She sings a catchy, summery tune that unites the whole U.S. Though it is through dancing and singing, I think the principle is perfect to apply to our concept. I know we are getting hype about which state has the best plates, but first we have to garner some camaraderie, goals and pride so we can have healthy competitions and conversations.

One of Martha’s lines is “This is an invitation across the nation, the chance for folks to meet.” I would change meet to eat for our purposes, Anne, but I’m not about to butcher this lovely song with a rendition Weird Al would be proud of. I’m simply inviting you and all the others out there to take a chance and bet on us and help us discover the best plates these U.S. states can dish out, and they all make a statement when it comes to summer food and fun.

As she belts “calling out around the world, are you ready for a brand new beat?
Summer’s here and the time is right for dancing in the street. They’re dancing in Chicago, down in New Orleans, in New York City,” it reminds me that the USA houses and supports quite the range of creativity, rivalry and unity.

It is the height of summer and we have yet to address the best summer pastimes—BBQ, baseball, buns and beer. With Martha in my ear telling us to unite, there is no better way to do so than with the four B’s.

She continues: “There’ll be laughing, singing, and music swinging, dancing in the street. Philadelphia, P.A., Baltimore and D.C. now. Can’t forget the Motor City.”

We’ve all got our own rendition of the best BBQ, we all have a team to root for, we all have buns in hand and on the sand and we all have some craft beer too.

She concludes: “Way down in L.A. ev’ry day, they’re dancing in the street. (Dancing in the street.) Let’s form a big, strong line, get in time, we’re dancing in the street. (Dancing in the street.) Across the ocean blue, me and you, we’re dancing in the street.”

We are meeting is Austin soon. I’m excited! It’ll be my first post away from my coast.

Ciao for now.

 

-Katherine

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Matters of the Heart & Home – Cooking up thoughts

Dear Katherine,

Oh how I’ve missed thee! And apologies for the silent spree! I’m a bit slow, ya know.

On the posts I’ve been slacking, but have been thoroughly hacking the thoughts part of my brain – and I’m severely NOT lacking in the snacking, whilst grappling with information that’s packing into my mind like the lyrics LL Cool (whip) J is rapping and tapping the pen to the table and everybody should be clapping at the words that i’m snapping. Ya feel me? **mic drop**

Anywho, all raps n’ rhymes aside… I’ve been thinking about food lately. I mean, like, really thinking about the different types of foods and how it affects us and society as a whole. Some people view it as mere sustenance, and others have an emotional relationship with it. I know we’re part of the latter, but even amongst “foodies” or those who truly love to eat good foods, we are separated. There are better names than “foodies” but “food lover” and “food snobs” just didn’t catch on, you know lol. All those indifferent foodies who don’t care to be labeled as “foodies” per se are just lying to themselves. Well, I did a bit of searching and this is what I found. Let me attempt to explain.

What is a foodie? Almost everyone knows a foodie; that person who loves food and has a stronger than average interest/desire in food/drinks. Someone who is a foodie seeks new food experiences as a hobby rather than simply eating out of convenience or hunger. According to etymologist Barry Popik, former New York magazine food critic Gael Greene appears to have first coined the term “foodie” and used it in print first in a story on June 2, 1980, and then used “foodie” several times in 1982 and 1983. This was interesting to me, mostly because the term seems to have blown up the past five years and in recent times, everyone is somewhat of a “foodie” in one way or another in something, but the term “foodie” is viewed sometimes negatively. Anyway, I dug deeper to find that those who enjoy finer high-end cuisine, specifically are called gastronomes, gourmet or an epicure. This is interesting because then they’re separated from the common (trendy) foodie. A gourmand is someone who enjoys eating, but it implies that they eat too much. I think most “foodies” or people who appreciate and enjoy eating food can suffer from gluttony and become a gourmand, but it’s just a matter of attempting to practice restraint and discipline. I would say I’m a mix between an epicure and a foodie/gourmet… I’ve also heard the word “culinarian” thrown around here and there, but hardly anyone uses the term. I don’t think it’s caught on. I suppose we could start calling ourselves culinarians? A culinarian is someone who is seriously interested in food/cooking. It’s not as trendy of a word as “foodie” and it isn’t as elaborate as “epicure” or “gourmand” but it gets the point across. A “culinarian” knows their stuff in and out of the kitchen (recipes, ingredients, taste, etc.) in that anti-trendy way so there’s that. If we want to label ourselves into society, we may as well be classy about it, eh? What do you think, my fellow Culinarian? Eh, yay or nay?

So now that we know some terms, back to my thoughts! We recognize that everyone has to eat to live, but now, it isn’t about survival anymore; it’s either about abundance and aesthetics or simplicity with aesthetics (in everything). Nowadays, even in the realm of food (especially in the food world) everything has to at least appear aesthetically pleasing – or else, what’s the point? Would we still want to eat something that looks ugly, but smells and tastes delicious? Yes, but it would taste better than it looks and smell-a-vision hasn’t been invented yet, so until then… aesthetics it is. We all know that there’s the high end of cuisine, then the average, every day food that’s still delicious, and then there’s the cheap stuff, the food stuff that’s still delicious and then there’s just straight up junk food that’s good and greasy, but makes you feel alive and dead all at the same time – it’s wonderful in the consumption portion of it and terrible in the aftermath. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m torn between my need for all of the greasy and deliciously seductive foods that are so high in both sodium, oils and fats (and calories) and my need for really good food – food that’s both healthy for my heart and hips and still tasty to my tastebuds. I’m constantly, consistently salivating (me=obliterated) over these food flicks on the Instantgram and have trouble deciding whether it’s that I’m obsessed with the plating, food content, ingredients, texture, colors or just the overall idea of how tantalizing all these dishes/meals/foods look online. Needless to say, I’m a mess of ooey gooey melted cheese on a plate. This is just the beginning of it.

I swear I have a point in all of this, but it’s not all black and white. My point is, I’m right there with you when it comes to cuisine and cooking… but despite differences in taste, a classic is still a classic because it remains a tried and true dish time and time again. It’s timeless. I want to delve into the recipe and cookbooks I’ve been reading, but I think I’ll save that for another post. For now, I’ll leave you with some dishes I’ve been whipping up lately. I’ve added quick recipe below and I’ll address more on the cookbooks I’ve been reading as of late – there are two – one of them has to do with packing as much nutrition into your meals, without sacrificing flavor – I like how straightforward and real it is, but I wish it had more details into different dishes to make (more on this, another day) and the other has some solid recipes in the no-nonsense method. I think I like that approach. Ingredients, directions, and descriptions. That’s how I like it. Because that way, it states what you need, how you need to do it, and what it’s supposed to look/taste/smell like; and that’s pretty much all I want to know. Short, sweet and simple. I guess what’s lacking is the personable part you mention in your cookbooks, but I figure I’ll be the judge of the dish and see if it speaks to me. I would like that story behind the dish though. It’s always nice to know where the origins of a culinary concoction came from… 🙂


Anyway, here’s a chicken I roasted at home.

  1. First, I cannot stress enough the importance of preheating an oven! It’s so important so the heat is evenly distributed etc. Anyway, PREHEAT the oven to 350 degrees F [or to 450 degrees F to preheat, then lower it back to 350 F – it cooks the chicken and burns the skin nicely].
  2. Place the chicken in a roasting pan, and season generously inside and out with salt and pepper. I seasoned it with garlic salt & pepper & some herbs mixed seasoning and threw it in the oven. I covered it in foil (so as to keep the juices inside) and the meat was so tender and flavorful. Sprinkle inside and out with onion powder too – throw on some fresh rosemary if you have some, it will be nice and fragrant if you like.
  3. Bake it uncovered about an hour and or so in the preheated oven, check to a minimum internal temperature of 180 degrees F and then add some chicken stock and cover it again in foil for 30min or so. Check and slice the chicken – I always test to make sure that it’s nicely cooked.
  4. When you bake it to perfection, there’s really not much else you need to eat with it other than some spinach or rice… you could even add some mashed potatoes or steamed veggies like carrots or broccoli. The possibilities are endless, but I literally just threw it over a bed of fresh spinach. Enjoy the photos. 

half chicken seasoned spinachhalf chicken seasonedchicken savory leg spinach

I was happy with this dish. It was a simple chicken (it provided protein) and I cooked it myself **beams proudly** so it was healthy, but it still had the tasty skin which I loved because it was still fatty/greasy, yet a bit crispy so I could eat it with the tender fleshy meat of the chicken and it paired perfectly. It wasn’t dry, it was juicy thanks to the chicken stock juice and foil covering! Remember to cover in foil as it keeps the juices in.

I cooked up a couple of other things, but I’ll share those with you another day.

Here’s a teaser mosaic of just some of the dishes (spinach ravioli with ricotta cheese and yellow carrots, breaded pork chops – with secret two-part outer crusted covered coating and steamed veggies; and baked mackerel, which isn’t particularly my favorite fish, but it was one Asian dish my parents have been eating for ages, and it’s super healthy, so I did it and it wasn’t half bad) I suppose you could eat rice with all three of these dishes too:


I’m still grappling with the question you posed about if there are any recipes, techniques, cookbooks or just piles of recipes crammed in a binder that I bake up inspiration from? I do have some recipes I put together in middle school (I was around 12-13-years old then). I took a home-economics class and we did a lot of cooking and baking. I loved it so much, but I have some hilarious stories I’ll have to share another day.

I hope we can try and share/swap recipes here! It would be fun to cook our favorite dishes and I’m excited to explore new tasty foods!

Until next time, my fellow culinarian,

Anne

 

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Causing friction between the states

Anne,

Are you ready?! I’m asking if you are ready to go bite for bite??

I’ve been “having a think,” and we need to turn this Plate by State concept up a notch. Heck, I think we have to turn it up multiple notches.

I know you’re a busy bridal bee being a fabulous assistant, activity coordinator and cat herder, so when you’re done and have slept, let’s brainstorm in the coming week.

I’ve got some more thoughts and follow through to add to all your great ideas we chatted about via Facetime a couple weeks ago. Video, t-shirts, business cards, content calendar—the ideas are rolling around in my head. I’ve started thinking about what we need to do for our viewers and how they want to be involved.

I think our viewers want some food drama—a little friction between the states. I think we can make that happen with our honest, punny and personable foodie POV, fusion recipes based on rival states/cities and wearable/useable products.

I’m going to hit you back with a spotlight on some defining moments of my early years that made me a “foodie”. (I need a better label. Foodie is such an expansive label.) I also want to hit the greasiest and best roadside joints in the dirty jerz. Do you have any rivals in that health-conscious, green juice state? (I do love my green smoothies though…)

You’ve been warned! Start brainstorming and gear up for the food feud that is heating up. It’s time to throw down like McGregor and Mayweahter.

Get ready for the KO, baby! #feudingfoodies

I also just purchased a GoPro…YouTube we’re coming for you!

Ciao for now.

-Katherine

cookbooks that rendered my imagination and inspiration
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To read is to cook. Anne, what recipe books have you read?

Anne,

Your last post about your meat dishes finally sparked me to write this post. Sometimes it is hard to write the content ideas I have because I feel as if our readers will think some posts are coming out of left field!

Imagine if I had asked what your favorite cookbooks were after you had posted about The Loop churros or classic Cali burritos? I think at this point I’m not that creative to come up with a topical/meaningful segue to counter your boasting those west coast churros with my own Koreatown churro journey and then bring up my favorite cookbooks. I think the transition would be a little wonky, but this is the time to test our letter-themed blog post workflow.

It is something for me to work on, so thanks for keeping my writing skills sharp! Now, back to the regularly scheduled programming: what cookbooks have you read that influenced your foodie habits today?

I can tell you that three books were instrumental in developing my culinary curiosity. I have learned some techniques, awesome flavor combos and most importantly what not to do when cooking.

The three books happen to be from slightly different regions of the world. Two are (of course) Italian and one Jewish.

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Northern Italian Cooking, The Italian Cooking Encyclopedia and Mama Leah’s Jewish Kitchen all have influenced my interest and passion for cooking and baking.

The encyclopedia reference book not only has great recipes, but also informative techniques and reasoning as to why things are the way they are. The encyclopedia feeds my inquisitive nature. I always find myself asking why does this *”roni” fit best with this sauce and why? These types of questions.

*Reference: Roni is short for macaroni. Anne, we never say the word macaroni. It is always what ronis are we having with the bolognese or what pasta do you want? Also, pronounce like how you would the end of the word macaroni, just drop the maca.

The Northern Italian book simply has the most insanely delicious recipes that leave you mouth watering. In some of the recipes you can definitely taste some of the southern France and Provencal influence.

The Jewish cookbook always made me laugh. It is comprised of homey concoctions employing simple techniques that are easy to follow. Included in it are various versions of the same recipe from different cultures/lands because the Jews are (or were) nomads. In two pages you can experience different versions of braised meats and noodle dishes like kugel from the Mediterranean, German and Middle Eastern cultures.

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There is also one more feature that no blog post, online community, cooking website or printed cookbook (that I have seen) include. This feature is what I truly love about this cookbook. Mama Leah adds a personal story to each recipe. The anecdote is no more than a paragraph—unlike modern blog posts that write for days and include the recipe in the last three sentences.

I hate when I come across that! I came to that site for the recipe not a hard to digest diatribe on whatever. I always scroll immediately to the bottom because I know that is where the goods are hiding. I do find this a hassle, and sincerely hope we don’t end up caving to this cheap tactic.

When I share recipes, I’m going to follow the wise format of Mama Leah—short, sweet, simple and personable.

There are two more books at the top of my reading queue. They include Joy of Cooking and The Edible Garden. I want to improve my cooking techniques and also learn about gardening because you know how badly I want to cultivate a magical fairy farm/garden whenever I can afford it. I assume when I exit my 401K early those earnings will go toward my garden…

Anne, I could keep going, but at this point the post is growing too long. I leave you with the question: are there any recipes, techniques, cookbooks or just piles of recipes crammed in a binder that you bake up inspiration from?

Next post I want to share with you some life moments that definitely were red flags as to how I became the foodie I am today.

I’ll hit you back on Sunday.

-Katherine

 

 

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Meat. It’s what’s for dinner.

Hey Katherine,

Tried making some tasty homecooked meats this week!

  • Tri-tip seasoned and seared in a pan
  • Pork ribs seasoned + bbq sauce + Pilsner beer as a base; slow-cooked in croc pot!

Below is the Tri-tip seasoned in simple garlic salt and garlic pepper; seared to perfection. It just sizzled in the pan and I covered it and then threw it atop some string green beans.

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Below are the pork ribs, slow cooked for six hours for best results! The meat literally falls off the bone and the beer tenderizes the meat and sauce and seasonings flavor the entire thing with goodness… I wanted to faint and die from how delicious this dish was. See the process/steps in the slideshow below.

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Check out some sizzlin’ videos below!

The tri-tip was simply seasoned with some himalayan salt and garlic & black pepper. Simplicity truly is the ultimate sophistication, and this dish proves it.

 

The pork ribs in the croc pot were originally set for three hours, but then to six hours for the best, savory and mouth-watering, meat-falling-off-the-bone deliciousness I’ve tasted!

 

I hope you can try these meat dishes. It’s so easy and so so delicious when you really want to eat meats and pack your proteins! I like to call myself an om-nom-nom-nivore rather than be either a carnivore or a herbivore lol. So OM (nom nom) NIVORE it is! 🙂

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A tasty churro, redefining savory snacks and DIY taco shells

Hi Anne,

I made it to the churro place in midtown Manhattan. It was quite delicious, but I wasn’t able to finish it because it was a lot of fried dough and sticky sweetness that clung to my stomach. I have to say I think that was my first time consuming a churro outside of “fair” grounds. Usually, I just think of a churro of another cultures version of fried dough. The beignet, zeppole, funnel cake–you name it–I’ve tried it while putzing down the boardwalk, but I do like the churro’s ridged edges. I think it allows for extra crispiness. I just taking a guess here, but maybe more surface area within the ridges allows for more crunch?

Well, before we get into math/chemistry class, I’d like to note that I had an affogato ice cream and dipping sauce accompany the churro. I couldn’t not get it! I had to because of you! The young lady who helped me order suggested I get the matcha flavored option because it would take a better picture for the blog, but my gut was telling me to stick to what I knew I should do.

Since you know I have some (BASIC) skills in the kitchen, I have been cultivating plans to experiment more based on my knowledge. I have been really curios to crate taco shells out of cheese, and I finally attempted it. My dad was a fan and I used the leftover burger meat, tomatoes and other toppings we had for the taco. It was like a cheeseburger taco leftover brunch. On top of that, I decided to experiment with sweet hummus.

I made a “foundation” sweet hummus and from that one I split the batch with different sweet additions. I choose to do cinnamon for one and dates for another. Both were quite delicious and I hope I can blend some up for you soon. 🙂

Until the weekend when i experiment more.

-Katherine

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True California classic style burritos, burgers and the beach

Dear Katherine,

It’s been a good week since I last posted and it’s because of local travel (wedding shenanigans LA to SD), busy-ness of small business (OC to LA) and just my crazy life (all over the place right now lol). I promise to be better about posting, I’ll get into the groove of things. I’m glad I have you as my accountability friend to write letters to and bounce back wonderful thoughts and ideas to too! 🙂

[Real quickly, that image up top is a large $5 burrito delivered straight to starving me at a wedding, thanks to Uber Eats! I know, I cannot believe that massive thing drenched in sauce and cheese is only five bucks and it was delivered straight to me because I was so hungry during my friend’s wedding. Because the day was filled with bridesmaid duties, it was pretty busy and I had no time to eat so I snuck a burrito in to eat. It was shredded beef and beans and cheese encased inside this whole tortilla smothered in pure heaven. It made me appreciate what UberEats is doing for humanity and hungry people all over]. LOL THANK YOU UBER EATS – UBER EATS – UBER EATS!]!

First off, I love that you enjoy wine as much as I do. And your wine tasting from your last post sounds a lot more sober than my own fine wine time at my friend’s bachelorette wine tasting session. Also, that homemade hummus sounds incredible. Do you recall back in London when you made some homemade hummus for us girls with those chickpeas of yours?! I remember devouring it all within one sitting because luckily Colleen or you saved some for me… I just know I was the last one to try it, but there was just enough and I was so grateful to have a taste. I’m so thankful to have tried that hummus of yours! Can we say, #BLESSED!?! Haha. Lastly, after seeing those images of that burrito with all the cheesy gooey goodness spilling out of it, I need to try that. Rockin’ Raw is now on my bucket list of places I need to go and food I must taste.

In other news. I have to tell you about this place called Chandler’s in Carlsbad. I highly recommend it. It’s right by the beach and we had two free food vouchers, so naturally, we took advantage of this and indulged ourselves. It’s either eat from the breakfast menu or get $10 off the regular menu meals so we had one of each. Directly below is the breakfast menu medley I picked and chose myself. The Cali breakfast burrito for brunch was off the regular menu; it was worth every bite of savory and delightful burrito-ness from the beaches of California. **They also have live music (real cool band)!**

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My medley of foods I plated for brunch is pictured here. I wanted a combination of both sweet and savory, so I grabbed the custard pastry with fruits along with a bagel and lox with capers. I also grabbed the gluten free coconut chia pudding with blueberries which was smooth and very neutral tasting, but deliciously nutty in its coconut flavor. 

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This is the California breakfast burrito for brunch. It’s got a tasty medley of things that bursts with flavor when you bite down on it. It’s got spinach, eggs, guacamole, tomatoes and of course, it wouldn’t be a California burrito without the classic french fries. 

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I loved these plates. I love white plates and this one just spoke to me. I have something similar to this design/style of plates at home too. CR stands for Cape Rey – That’s where Chandler’s is located. It’s local, coastal and 100% delightful.

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The Cali burrito came with a spicy salsa with roasted potatoes and a side of fruit. 

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Just look at this close up of the texture of this phenomenal creation that is the Cali burrito. 

After our beautiful breakfast/brunch with a view of the beach, we walked across to the beach and caught some waves and swam in the warm water. Everything screams summer in California. I got super tan. It was really perfect. I’ve deeply missed the sunshine and the surf and the burritos so much whilst living abroad in London. It just felt so good to be back home and it really made me appreciate the meal that much more. Ya feel me?

When we returned back to Los Angeles from our weekend in San Diego, we had to grab some old school burgers and fries from The Apple Pan!

So, I don’t know if you have one of these kinds of restaurants, but LA is known to have some really old timey food joints like The Apple Pan. Its been around since the late 40s (opened in 1947) and has been around ever since. It’s one of LA’s oldest operating restaurants under the same management since 1947. Their cash register is literally one of those old registers – and it’s a cash only joint because they don’t have card readers. It’s so old school that people have to stand and wait for seats at the counter. It’s in a U-shaped counter and the food is prepped in the center arena.

They have the best apple pies (and pecan pie) and the burgers are to die for. It’s like, the classic juicy burger… basically what an all-American burger should be – tasty and savory and dripping with everything mouth-wateringly delicious. A lot of celebrities dine here too.

 

Pictured below is both the Hickoryburger and the Steakburger (two of the most popular burgers served here at The Apple Pan). The Hickoryburger features a special hickory sauce, while the Steakburger comes with a trademark hamburger relish.

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Steakburger and fries with a classic Coca Cola in a can

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Close up of the juicy meat that is the steakburger

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This is the Hickoryburger

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The Hickoryburger glistening in all its glory, smothered in homemade sauce in the sun

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Hickoryburger catching some California rays

Not sure if that was overkill in images of my food, but I really want you to see the crispness of the lettuce and onions mixed with the ooey-gooey cheesiness of the American cheese along with the juicy goodness of the meat and classic burger buns. This place is the real deal. It’s such a toss up between this place for a classic burger, old school style, versus In In Out (which is also a classic burger, old school style)… but their burger sauces are both so drastically different in taste and flavoring, that there can be no comparison. They’re equally delicious and equally amazing in burger quality and caliber – and I’m awfully proud that they’re both Californian (CALI PRIDE).

Anywho, those are the two main places I wanted to tell you about. And I can’t wait to share more on some super meaty recipes I tried (both on a pan and in a croc pot) which I’ll share soon. Until then, I can’t wait to hear your adventures in the east coast beast/feast coast! Keep nom nom nommin’ on.

Talk to you soon,

Anne 🙂

 

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A rockin’ good wine time in south Jersey

Hey Anne!

I’m so terribly sorry to hear that you had bad pizza. I never thought that really would ever be a thing–to actually experience bad pizza. That may be a cardinal sin, especially when a pie is popping out of a brick oven at every  NYC corner establishment. Well, let me wash down that poor experience by telling you my adventure in southern Jersey’s wineries.

It was Barrel Tasting weekend in the southern part of the garden state and quite a few of the wineries took part and hosted events. I met a friend at Bellview Winery in Landisville, NJ, and our intention was to winery hop around the few that were in the same proximity. Even though we ended up staying at Bellview for the whole Saturday, we had a great time partaking in a $5 wine tasting and enjoying the vineyard and our BYOP (bring your own picnic).


We had the opportunity to try two wine tastings. We opted for their regular one on offer all the time because we wanted to take advantage of the beautiful outdoors. The barrel wine tasting was hosted inside and featured their wines not normally sold year round or created. Both of us picked eight wines to try from a very long list with red, white, rose, dessert and other options.

You know I had a number of full-bodied reds checked off on my the list, but I did branch out and try a few whites. To my total astonishment, I enjoyed this white wine called Jersey Devil White. I was floored I liked the white over the red. I actually found the reds a little disappointing and underwhelming. All in all, we bought a bottle of the albino devil and plopped down at a table and started to feast.

Girl, I made homemade hummus, mini chicken & sun dried tomato skewers and brought an array of freshly cut fruits and veggies.


Hummus with Kalamata Olives recipe

Step 1: Drain standard can of chickpeas. Save some of the chickpea juice/water.

Step 2: Put chickpeas in blender with pinch of salt, 1TBSP of EVOO, 1TBSP chickpea juice and 1 TBSP of Kalamata olive juice.

Step 3: Blend together until creamy. Taste and add more salt if desired. Check consistency and add more EVOO and olive juice.

Step 4: Cut up olives and place on top of hummus. Serve!

#allloveforolives, #platebystaterecipes #americabitebybite #platebystate


 

The bottle was done and the food we offered it to the event staff because we had so much! I was so full of chickpeas it reminded me of the week prior when I unexpectedly ate at this vegan place.

Vegan, raw and rockin’

Rockin’ Raw near NYU campus was a slit in the bricks that I came across. My friend (another friend) and I were on a hunt for sushi. We reached our destination, but had no intention of waiting the 30 minutes, so we decided to go back out hunting for food. We opted to try Rockin’ Raw because of its inquisitive description. The restaurant menu was comprised of food featuring an Argentinian Creole vegan fusion. I know it is a mouthful, but I was satisfied. They served some hearty meals. I was shocked at how full I was. Also, they did not skimp on the guacamole in my cheezy burrito, which I was so thankful because I feel so many places never give you enough avocado or guacamole that are in line with your expectations. My burrito casing was made out of sun dried tomato and the filling featured the hefty guacamole, seed meat, greens, sour cream, cheese and salsa. I really focused on the guacamole and the jicama fries, which were unexpectedly good. Of course, I thought they would be fried jicama fries, but they were raw and coated in a Cajun sauce. I love Five Guys Cajun fries and these, though the taste was different and way lighter, were still A+.

 

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My friend ordered the jambalaya, which left her in need of a nap! (We couldn’t though because were due at a bar close by to watch a coworker’s band, they go by LoveDeep.) The bowl had a mix of brown rice, mushrooms, peppers, onions, carrots, tomato, zucchini, sea veggies, fresh herbs all coated with creole spices. I had a bite of hers and it was no NOLA dish. There was a difference in texture and taste. I almost thought it should be considered more of a chili. I also found it very thick. I don’t know if the “holy trinity” (onion, celery, green bell pepper) was in there, but I couldn’t taste it. I also know that there weren’t beans in there, but it tasted like there were. Lastly, we shared an appetizer. Jalapeno poppers. They were good, they were raw and they were filled with “cheese” that tasted (and resembled) like a 50/50 mix of tahini and hummus. Again, I was expecting fried, but those raw jalapenos were bare naked, juicy and crunchy when we cut them. The filling was slowly sliding out as we pressed our knives into the flesh of the evergreen colored pepper. The dish was cool and not warm and the jalapeno had just enough bite to it that the crunch and kick of spiciness was a really nice texture and flavor when paired with the vegan cheese. As I bit down into the pepper, its watery juiciness tempered the spiciness. The poppers were the best, I would totally make them for company, but I would stuff them with hummus.

 


I did come away with one critique. I find it hard to order vegan food that is named after popular, everyday dishes. There is this expectation that the vegan version will look and taste the same as it’s omnivore counterpart, but that assumption is inaccurate. Up until the other day, I hadn’t noticed how vegan food was relabeled. In that one experience at Rockin’ Raw, I almost wish they would rename vegan food altogether so it takes on a whole new identity. I am so used to knowing what to expect from a burrito, a jambalaya or jalapeno poppers that I figured there would be substitutes. By not having those substitutes, it really shows the artistry and creativity of vegan chefs to adapt and curate such tastiness, and I wish from that standpoint they named their dishes differently than what the general population knows because many people have expectations and those expectations may not be met when there expecting the same flavors as what they’re used to. That expectation from outsiders (non vegan/veg) I think hurts the vegan dish and chef. I can see the other side that vegans would want their equivalent to be named in relation to the mainstream meal names. I see both sides. It’s a learning curve. I feel as if this is a niche where we can get really punny, Anne. If we came up with great puns for the vegan equivalents of dishes that may help ease expectations to adventurous eaters, inquisitive eaters or anyone.

Pun one: How about holapeno crunchers?

On a side note, I have never seen so many seeds in a toilet bowl the next morning. #toilethumor #bathroomjokes #dadjokes

I’ll check out the churros in NYC in KTown on Wednesday.

Xoxox and ciao for now.

-Katherine

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It’s been a while… WEST COAST BEST COAST – EAST COAST BEAST COAST – BOTH COASTS’, FEAST BOASTS!

Ahhhh Katherine!!!!!

Hey girl, haayyyy~! Your last post looked phenomenal. It made me drool until I was in a puddle of my own saliva. Not a pretty picture, but that’s how good your last post was.

Shrimp, octopus or scallops… dishes featuring these items are always a hit or miss. More often than not, places will do shrimp dishes justice, but when it is wrongly cooked, it’s the worst. Nobody wants to eat overly chewy or rubbery tasting shrimp textures. OH! And I’ve never been fond of artichokes, but sometimes it can be delicious – if it’s dipped in butter or drizzled in a sauce. All of the dates dishes sound delightful. Wait, this is my last question regarding your last post – so were you disappointed in the cheesecake with pears bathed in red wine?! Because it looked and sounded incredible to me. LMK, K. But I totes agree, one can never go wrong with chocolate. #ChocolateIsLife #ChocolateLife.


Anywho. Do you ever feel like time escapes you and just zips by super fast? Where does the time fly away to? I don’t know, but what I do know is that I’m so very sorry for this delayed letter/post.

Lately, I’ve been feeling like time has been slipping away way too quickly. Maybe time is slipping away whilst I’m sipping away on Rosé. It’s a very real thing, drinking away time. That’s kind of what I feel like happened this weekend.

Well, this past weekend has been quite eventful.

  1. I’ve tried the most horrible pizza place in LA
  2. I’ve made up for it with the best pizza place in LA
  3. I drank way too much wine at several different wineries in SD
  4. I ate even more pizza… like, I mean, a lot of pizza.
  5. I had lots of sweets and dessert foods.
  6. I’ve come to the realization that California has no shortage of good food and bad food.

As all these things were happening, simultaneously, a bazillion ideas were popping into my head like “Snap, Crackle, Pop” and then I imploded.

Just kidding.

There’s just not enough time to channel these ideas out in order. I know, I know, I have to make the time. But that’s much easier said than done, eh? Wouldn’t it be cool if we could actually create time and be able to use it again (like re-usable bags or recycled bottles – but with recycled time? That’s some Dr. Who or Dr. Strange shenanigans.


  1. I had the worst pizza I’ve ever tasted in LA. I didn’t think it was possible. But it is.

Okay, so I know you were expecting the best pizza joints and what not, but it just so happened that I decided to try this new place in Westwood area that apparently is pretty good. Well, I never thought a pizza could be bad, but I was proven wrong this weekend. Maybe I didn’t give it a chance, or maybe I just don’t like “healthy pizza” whatever that means. This place was rated the nation’s healthiest pizza… is that even possible? I should’ve asked for its sources. It tasted salty. And bleh textured. I don’t know who rated this place #1, but it all seems like false advertising to me. I might come here again, just to give it a second chance, but my first impression/taste of this pizza joint was a thumbs down.

2. On the other hand, the best pizza place is in Santa Monica and it’s called Joe’s Pizza! They only accept cash, and they’ve never let me down. It doesn’t matter if you’re drunk, sober, starving or semi-hungry… this place will never disappoint. Some say that this place is the best pizza joint on the west coast because it was opened by a true New Yorker. Joe Vitale of NYC’s original Joe’s Pizza opened up on Broadway St. in Santa Monica and it was phenomenal. You can even read all about it here, by this true east coast dude, Chuck K., a New York expatriate living on the West Coast, who happened to drop by on the outpost of Joe’s Pizza that opened in Los Angeles. He stated that it wasn’t the water, because the New York style pizza pie was cooked perfectly as it’s done in the big apple. Either way, I will say this, New York pizza is great and this place has never let me down, but I will still search and scour for what exactly makes a California pizza different from a NYC one. #WestCoastBestCoast! #EastCoastBeastCoast/#EastCoastFeastCoast!

3. I drank too much wine. Celebrating bachelorette parties at wineries is a thing. Temecula wineries are no joke. It’s also no joke when your friends are friends with these said wineries and then the glasses are always full, you are never left dry (unless it’s a dry wine) and your cup over~floweth with wine forever. I’m pretty certain we had 12-15 flights of wine… I was clinking my glass every time I had a pour, it was like a glass clinking symphony at the rate I was clinking and drinking.

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Ports here always come with a piece of chocolate. And, for that reason, I love port.

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My favorite was the peach bellini. It’s delicious chilled and it’s nice and sweet and brings about summery vibes. I don’t like white wine, but this was delightful.

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I didn’t like the sangria. I don’t think white wineries should attempt sangria. Stick to the reds that are cabs, merlots, petit syrahs, syrahs… don’t go to sangria unless you’re at a Spanish place and it has real fruit floating around in it.

4. I ate more pizza in Temecula.

Why is pepperoni pizza with olives so delicious? This appears to be super salty, but I promise you, it was not. It was delightful and I ate three slices of this. I also had two slices of this basil pesto chicken pizza with arugula on it and another slice of this other cheese pizza with artichokes, but that wasn’t good at all and not even worth mentioning. The other pizzas weren’t pictured, because I was super drunk on wine and it was a gourmet pizza and probably would’ve photographed well, but I didn’t realize how hungry/drunk I was so I just stuffed my face with it instead of snapping a pic of it first. SHAME. FOR SHAME. Well, this pizza that’s pictured below was better tasting anyway.

If you ever decide to throw a party with wine tasting and pizza, do it at Carter Estates Winery and Resort! They have great places to stay and hang and have fun. It’s really close to the other wineries (Wilson Creek winery and Callaway vinyard and winery) and it’s all really remote and super cool and you will get super drunk.

5. I ate so many sweets. Way too many sweets were consumed in the past three days I’m pretty sure I have diabetes now and gained 10 pounds. Not only did I dip several pieces of French baguettes in Nutella straight from the jar, I also dipped strawberries and smeared them with cream cheese and chocolate onto some bagels. It was intense. I ate way too many smarties, zours, and york peppermint patties. I drank lots of sweet dessert wines like moscato (wines count as sweets too) and consumed lots of chocolate.

Now that I think about it, I’ve been back and forth in THREE COUNTIES, ALL OVER SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, EATING MY WAY THROUGH EACH ONE. GOODNESS. Other than that, I finally tried The Loop! Handmade churros are so worth trying. I’ve had some not-so-tasty churros in my life, from fair fried food to random joints that claim their churros are good, when in reality, they’re really not. THIS PLACE WAS BY FAR, HANDS DOWN, THE BEST CHURRO PLACE I’VE EVER TASTED. HONESTLY, I NEED TO COME BACK HERE. I MIGHT EAT LIKE SIX LARGE LOOPS OF CHURROS! Hold off on the ice cream please, because the churros are seriously where it’s at.

FRIENDLY RIVALRY!?!?!? I think there’s a place in New York that could possibly rival this place… it’s called Sweet Churros – also handcrafted churros, but I’m not sure how good this place is, as I’ve never been, but you should check it out and tell me. I still stand by my churro place, but I will have to taste east coast churro when I visit sometime, and you will have to try our west coast churro. I want to say that west coast churros sound much more appetizing than an east coast churro. Just sayin’. 😉

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Just look at this. The detail of matcha glaze with sprinkles. You can choose from a variety of glazes like strawberry or chocolate, etc… and the soft serve was a nice pairing, but honestly, I could’ve done without it. The oreo cookies crumbled into it was a nice textured chocolate touch.

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The beauty of the shape of the churro to the crispy crunch of texture and soft chewy center just made it like biting into a piece of heaven. The cinnamon sugar so lightly sprinkled onto its looped perfection was like a party in my mouth. My sweet tooth was most definitely satisfied.

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It’s such an instagram-able place. It even has a little selfie photo taker and a whole grass wall with this “Life is sweet” motto on it. I got all artsy fartsy creative with holding it up in front of this wall, but afterward it was nothing but me eating and enjoying this thing to the fullest. I didn’t think about other photos after that. I just focused on eating this tasty treat!

6. My final closing thoughts… basically California is a cluster of just good and bad joints. I guess that’s sort of what you get when you venture out to try new things. And I suppose that’s probably why a lot of people stick to what they know and like, because they don’t want to be disappointed. That’s what kind of sucks, people won’t take the risk because they just love that one thing so much and don’t want to waste their time trying a new thing because what if it isn’t that great. It’s like, what if it fails miserably? Then again, what if doesn’t? What if it’s the new best thing; your new favorite thing ever? That’s what I’m looking out for… my new favorite thing. Currently, in the dessert realm it’s still the affogato (USA/Italy) and sticky toffee pudding (England). But, I’m willing to try new things and venture out to seek my new favorite dessert or dish. Like you said, bite by bite, we must be brave and scout out new delightful dishes (desserts and mains alike)! A good thing cannot be hidden for long; beautiful things never ask for attention, and neither do delicious dishes – they just are and they command it in their own right naturally. I can’t wait to discover more dishes.

SO, TO RECAP: 

  • I THINK CALIFORNIA HAS BETTER WINES/WINERIES
  • I THINK CALIFORNIA HAS BETTER CHURROS
  • I THINK CALIFORNIA DOES A DECENT PIZZA BUT I HAVE YET TO STILL FIND WHAT CALIFORNIA PIZZA IS AND IF IT IS COMPARABLE TO NEW YORK PIZZA. BUT I THINK I HAVE A PIZZA JOINT IN CALIFORNIA THAT RIVALS NEW YORK PIZZA JOINTS – ALTHOUGH IT WAS BROUGHT OVER FROM NEW YORK… HE SAYS IT’S NOT THE WATER THOUGH LOL.
  • I THINK I’M ALL SWEETENED OUT, SO MAYBE I’LL STICK TO SOME SAVORY STUFF THIS WEEK.
  • BRING IT EAST COAST! #WESTCOASTBESTCOAST

Buon appetito!

Until we write again,

Anne

 

Socarrat tapas and happy hour
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One dish, two dish, seafood, eat food

Anne!

So good to hear from you! I loved the title of your last post—it’s very red, white and blue. I think it captured the context of the holiday week and your words so well. Gosh, have you had to explain our foodie concept to anyone? I have and people get excited over it, but its funny as I’m giving the elevator pitch all I can think of is Pacman eating all these awesome dishes across a map of the U.S. That is all I want to do in the near future: be a gorging yellow dot making her way across America bite by bite.

Alas, I have not had the pleasure of extensively traveling in a while, so I’m keeping my features in this post next door. Since you mentioned your Italian excursion, I will keep this Mediterranean sphere of influence and tell you about my tapas adventure.

At the request and recommendation of my friend Anna, who you met via Facetime not so long ago, we headed to Socarrat. It is a Spanish-style, paella and tapas bar that features some tasty drink and nibbles.

We arrived for happy hour because certain drinks (like the refreshingly light guava sangria) and all tapas were half off if you sat at the hightop/bar. We made it there on the dot at the top of the first hour. We ordered four tapas dishes and a dessert. I was just too stuffed to give into my friend’s relentless coaxing to order a shareable paella. I’m ever so slightly kicking myself because I cant comment on that. I wish I could’ve because of the few paellas I’ve had at restaurants they were not very memorable…I would like to be delighted by a flavorful paella that makes me want to ask for more Spanish food instead of my Italian roots. But back to the food I did get to eat!

Tapas dish one: datiles

Dates wrapped in bacon with valdeon cheese stuffed inside and stabbed with a toothpick to hold all the flavors and juiciness inside. This was my favorite. I’m sure you know that. I have no more words.

Socarrat date

Dates wrapped with bacon and filled with cheese.

Tapas dish two: pulpo a la gallega

The octopus was tasty. Definitely tender and massaged well. The potatoes were cut into slice and acted as a nice bed between the octopus and paprika oil. Nothing was too oily or seafood-y. Id recommend this dish. It was better than the shrimp, which happened to be a little chewy.

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Octopus and potatoes in oil. What is better?!

Tapas dish three: alcachofas fritas

If I see dates, artichokes or avocado, I always reread the dish on the menu! This one didn’t disappoint. The fried artichokes were crispy and the lemon caper remoulade accented the fried crispiness with much needed tang and fat.

Socarrat artichokes

The fried artichokes!

Tapas dish four: gambas al ajillo

I was disappointed with this shrimp dish. The shrimpies were over cooked. It was such a simple dish in flavor and could’ve been really successful. Oh well, maybe they spent too much attention on the octopus. The saving grace was the bread because I still dipped it into the olive oil, garlic and guindilla pepper mixture the shrimpies were sautéed in. Yum! Bread and olive oil you can never go wrong!

Socarrat shrimp

The shrimp bathing in spicy oil. The oil–I’d go back for that!

Dessert: tarta de queso y peras

A very light cheesecake decorated with pears having bathed in red wine and caramelized walnuts. It wasn’t the sweetest of desserts, but it was well formulated. I should just always go for the chocolate option so then Ill never be disappointed! Right, Anne?

Socarrat cheesecake

A light cheesecake dressed with pears and walnuts.

Drink: guava sangria

Delicious. End of story. There needs to be more of this on other sangria menus.

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The cava guava sangria. Need I say more?

There are four locations in New York City, so wherever you may be in the city, you are probably closer to one than you think. However, no matter where you turn, you’ll find an inventive place to sit down and munch.

Ciao for now,

Katherine