Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tis' the Season

As I type, I am wrapped in my coziest blanket, drinking coffee, listening to some holiday tunes, and sitting in front of our CHRISTMAS TREE! Hooray! It's up! And that makes me happy...

Well, much has happened since our last chat. I have now viewed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 1 twice...once as a wizard, once as a muggle. I must say, I LOVED it. Both times. I was a little worried, seeing as how they totally missed the mark with Half Blood Prince. Among my favorite moments from the movie: 1) Alan Rickman's perfectly-understated-but-oh-so-telling reaction when he first enters Malfoy Manor and sees Charity Burbage suspended above the table. I love Alan Rickman. I love Snape. 2) The telling of the Tale of the 3 Brothers. I loved the execution of it. I don't want to spoil anything, if you haven't seen it and are looking forward to it, so I'll limit myself to that statement. 3) Anything Dobby. He's one of the most endearing characters I've encountered. 4) The current state of Lucius Malfoy: emotionally, physically, mentally. It's wonderfully portrayed...5) How brilliantly crazy Helena Bonham Carter's 'Bellatrix' is.
I thought they did a good job of bringing Pt. 1 to a close. It was a legitimate and good conclusion. Now, having all of that said, Pt. 2 is going to be pure insanity. I'm bringing boxes of tissues and a stress-reliever ball....
And now, photographic evidence that we are super cool.

Schmorgs and Joey as 'Luna' and 'Harry'...

Thad: EXPECTO PATRONUM! Morgan and Wes: Just looking out for Snatchers

Youuuuuuuuuuuuuuu.....


Last Sunday after the show, I spent a very Parisian evening with my two dear friends, Joey and Andrew, making Boeuf Bourguignon, listening to Edith Piaf, and watching La Vie en Rose. Joey and Andrew had never seen it. That film is so brilliant. Everything. The performances. The direction. The cinematography. There are a few moments that truly leave me speechless. If you haven't seen the film or maybe haven't seen it in a while, PLEASE re-visit it. PLEASE.
I just have to say that NOTHING is better than sitting around a table with friends...


Thanksgiving has come and gone. We had a lovely celebration here. Dave and I celebrated early at The Waverly Inn on Tuesday with my 'sister' and fellow belle, Meghan, Garrick (her boyfriend), James (her brother), and Liz (his girlfriend). It was such a wonderful evening. Lots of food, wine, lots of laughing and reminiscing. We are truly like family, and it was so nice to spend time around the table giving thanks for each other and all the memories and experiences we have shared over the years.



We spent Thanksgiving day with some of Dave's friends from work. The food was spectacular(!) and the atmosphere was so laid back. Just what we needed. One of the chefs from Gramercy came with his girlfriend. They are Turkish and had never celebrated Thanksgiving before. It was fun to introduce them to the concept and answer their questions about the holiday. He, of course, had lots of questions about the food. Why certain dishes were mandatory/sacred? But they loved it and said they'd like to have Thanksgiving every 3 months. I could be up for it...

Finally, I leave you with photos of my tree...I love this time of year. I do have to toot my own horn here: I am almost done with the Christmas shopping. Ahhhh, such a good feeling. The only thing I'm missing right now is a house-full of family. I am making this declaration now: THIS IS THE LAST CHRISTMAS I WILL SPEND AWAY FROM MY MOM, SISTER, NEPHEW, COUSINS, AUNT, ETC. Luckily, we are fortunate in the 'amazing friend' department. We truly have become family for one another. I love seeing our own traditions unfold...






Tuesday, November 16, 2010

YESSSSSSSSS!

It is currently, 4:53 p.m. and I am on the couch in Dave's sweatpants, wrapped in my favorite blanket, grazing and watching Law and Order SVU. It's been a good day...

In my defense, I did rise and shine at 9 a.m. only to sit on the couch, drink my morning cup(s) of coffee, watch Brothers & Sisters (i love that show soooo much; reminds me of/makes me miss my mommy, sister, aunt, cousins, etc.), and send a few emails. AND I went to the groce (pronounced 'growsh'). If you are in NYC and looked out your window today, then you understand why I limited myself to 'indoor activities' only.

On another note, I thought I would share some things that are wonderful and deserve to be celebrated:

1) A 2 hour skype date with my dear friend, Miss Meghan Dailey. I cannot tell you how good this was for my soul and my heart.

2) Hitting up the official Opening Night Party of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular with Mr. Thad Wilson for the 2nd year in a row. Martha (Stewart, that is) redecorated the lobby and lounge this year, and I have to say, Martha, it's not your finest work. SHE TOOK DOWN THE CHANDELIER!!!!!?!????? If you've ever seen said chandelier, then you know this is a punishable offense. But, the party was lovely and the company was even better. Love my Thad. Love sharing in all this 'adult-life', 'from dream-to-reality' goodness.

Align Center
You are missed, my crystal-laden friend...


3) HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PT. 1 MIDNIGHT SHOWING ON THURSDAY!!!!!! I will, of course, be attending in full-costume with my NY-based Potter clan. A special shout-out to my old Potter croonies in B'ham and Jupiter, FL. You know who you are...
This is my favorite of all the HP ads in the subway right now...


This was Pre "Order of the Pheonix"


EXPELLIARMUS!


AND PRE "HALF BLOOD PRINCE"
Harry


Ron


Luna


Tom Riddle

Let me just add that this year we have out-done ourselves in the costume dept. Last time we procrastinated (as I'm sure you can see) and ended up with only mere suggestions of the characters. For this premiere, money has been spent. Serious thought has gone into it all. You. Have. No. Idea.

4) Having hour-long phone conversations with Thaddeus Biddle and Wade Van Seals this morning, even though we live in the same city and see each other, AT THE MINIMUM, once a week.

5) This youtube video:


6) A sense of humor

7) The Horseradish and Chive Butter I made last night. YUM.

and I'm going to stop there because I enjoy the number '7' and it's time for a cocktail and 'face time' with Dave.

Toasting life, love, and happiness with a bourbon, pear and cinnamon cider.

Cheers!

Monday, November 15, 2010

How we celebrate a birthday...

Dear Friends,

Let me begin by apologizing for being M.I.A. recently. To say that I've been a bit overwhelmed and busy would be the understatement of the year. Having that said, I'm relishing the first of two days off with my Trader Joe's Wintry Blend Coffee (Sumatran and Guatemalan beans with red and green peppercorns, whole cloves, and cinnamon---soooo goooood) and a few Dried Cherry and Granola cookies (don't judge me). While the last 3 weeks have been a bit intense, there have been a few recent events that kept my spirits up and gave me even more reason to be thankful and happy. The most important of these was Dave's day-of-birth.

For those of you who know me, you will recall that I have a very specific way of celebrating one's birth. It commences with breakfast in bed and ends a week later. For me, it's all I've known. Blame my parents. They did this to me. I kid, I kid...but seriously, this is the only way to celebrate a b'day, as far as I'm concerned. This year, we were forced to actually start the week on Monday prior to the big day, due to our work/performance schedules. And it should come as no shock to you that the celebration somehow mostly involved food. It started with our favorite cocktail at GT and ended with us being seated for a 3 1/2 hour meal. Yes, you heard correctly. 3 1/2 hours. I'll spare you all the details and just hit the hilights for your enjoyment and my own nostalgia:
1) Foie Gras Custard with a veal jus reduction and bartlett pears. oh. my. stars. you have no idea.
2) Chickory, Apply, and Celery Leaf salad. So simple but RIDICULOUSLY GOOD.
3)Merguez Sausage with caramelized carrots and parsnips, and black lentils. The lentils and caramelized root veggies were oh-so-complimentary to the slight 'gamey-ness' of the lamb in the sausage. UGH!! HEAVEN. I have had this dish before but the set was different---had more of a South African influence. This one kicked it's butt, and I didn't think that was possible
4) Red Kuri Squash Soup with Brussels Sprouts and Fried Oysters. 'nuff said.
5) Goat's Milk Cheesecake with a Concord Grape Sorbet!!!!! This was so unbelievably good.
6) Warm Chocolate Bread Pudding with Cocoa Nib Ice Cream!!! Amazing.
7) As some of you know, Dave is really into craft beer/brewing and vintage beers. Instead of going with a dessert wine, port, or sherry at the end of our meal we had 2 vintage beers. They had aged for so long that they had lost that somewhat effervescent beer quality and taken on this rich color and caramel flavor. It was uncanny, and I didn't miss my glass of Sauternes one bit...

Ok, so that was Day 1. Next up, was a more low-key evening at home. Movies/delivery...We needed a day off from eating...

Day 3: Favorite neighborhood burrito joint for some delicious grub and Margaritas!!

Day 4 (The Big One): I had 2 shows that day. Dave came to see me in the 2nd matinee. From there we headed down to Union Square where we sipped Martinis and snacked on Rosemary/Parmesan Fries at Olives, in the W hotel. From there we headed up to Madison Square Park and cozied-up to the bar at Eleven Madison Park. There we entered cocktail heaven (seriously, the drinks/garnishes looked like works of art and had a specific way you were supposed to drink it/hold the glass, so you experienced the extent of the aromatics, etc). After downing 2 bowls of their homemade potato chips and briney, citrus and garlic marinated olives, we headed up-town for our reservation at The Modern. Our table wasn't ready yet so I hydrated at the bar with a little club soda and truffle-scented popcorn. mmmm. The restaurant itself is gorgeous. Sleek and modern but still warm. The dining room looks out over the sculpture garden at MoMA. The meal was fantastic, and the staff, managers, sommelier were so attentive.
And now for the highlights of the second 3 1/2 hour meal of the week:
1) Upside-down Tuna Tartare with Japanese cucumber and fennel, topped with a bruleed soy sauce. The presentation was beautiful and the bruleed condiment added crunch/texture
2) my cocktail: The Hinny Kick- spiced pear vodka, lime, jalapeno, and ginger beer
3) Dave's Mushroom Soup--it was the earthiest, mushroomie goodness I've ever tasted. The flavor was soooo concentrated.
4) Slow-Poached Farm Egg with Maine Lobster, Salsify, and Sea Urchin Froth. You have no idea how rich this was...
5)Dave's Braised Pork Belly with a Ginger Jus
6) Beef Tenderloin with Oxtail Bread Pudding and Hen of the Woods Mushrooms! AH!
I could go on, but I'm just making myself hungry...

Day 5: This was Dave's actual B'day. I woke up to make him the traditional breakfast in bed (it has to happen on the actual day) and was quickly asked not to. And I quote, "Hey. Can you please not make me eat anything this morning? I'm still full." I didn't push it because I, myself, was still uncomfortable from the prior evening's food intake. He opened his gifts and cards, we snacked on some gyoza (??? random) and then we both launched into our busiest 3 days of the work week.

We are picking up where we left off tonight. I'm making a boeuf bourguignon and am decanting some fancy-pants bottle of wine Dave brought home from the restaurant. It's the perfect day for it--gross, rainy, cold. I've got nothing better to do than to cook all day!!

Tomorrow's our 'Wild Card'...Wanting to host some of Dave's friends. We'll see what trouble we get into...All in all, though, I think it's been a pretty good celebration of life. Great food, great conversation, great friends...an excellent way to kick off another year!

On another note, my sister got my 3 yr. old nephew a Great Dane puppy...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Food. Glorious Food.

Well, I've been eating my feelings lately and thought I would share some recent culinary endeavors that have made my day, week, month.

For starters, let me introduce you to my new best friend, The Salted Caramel Brownie.

Sorry about the paper towel. Didn't anticipate posting the pic--initially just sent it to my mom and sister in hopes they would be so jealous/tempted they would both hope a flight and join me in eating the entire batch...it almost worked, might I add. A hearty 'thank you' goes out to my BFF Lauren Roden for introducing me to the wonders of 'P Dub', as we fondly refer to her in all her wisdom.

Next up, my other close friend and partner-in-crime, The Fancy Grilled Cheese. This little sandwich has become my shoulder to lean on after long days at the theatre when I'm too tired to actually cook OR don't feel like waiting around for delivery. shameful, I know...
BEHOLD: Grilled Sourdough with Brie, Arugula, Pears, and Fig Preserves.



Guess what? I stuffed pasta the other night and it was super easy and super delicous. I opted for large shells over the manicotti (just because) and stuffed them with a mixture of ricotta, mozzarella, sauteed mushrooms, onion, pancetta, and radicchio, and some fresh basil. Baked those bad boys in a homemade tomato sauce and topped them with more cheese and more sauce...comfort food to the max.

mmmm, the filling...


because why WOULDN'T you dot each one with butter???


holy. moly.

Since it's getting cold (it's in the 40's now), all I want to eat is heavy heavy heavy foods...I even managed to make a salad heavy. One of my dearest and best friends, Cristin, forwarded me this recipe for a Spicy Roasted Butternut Squash and Lentil Salad. Only I nixed the lentils, added a drizzle of honey to the squash (tossed in olive oil with cumin, cayenne, hot smoked paprika) threw in mushrooms and bacon for crunch and a TON of goat cheese. Does it make it better that I tossed it all with arugula in a homemade red-wine vinaigrette???? I think so....
Seriously, this salad rocked my world. Click here for the original recipe. I embellished, because I don't like to play by the rules...Cristin, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

And tonight it's smoked chicken, apple, chardonnay sausages with caramelized onions; roasted brussel sprouts; and homemade roasted garlic mashed potatoes. For cocktail hour: The Cider Smash--bourbon, fresh lemon juice, sparkling cider. Bottoms-up!


Please note my new cocktail napkins that I'm obsessing over.
Also, I'm gonna make a pie. A Pumpkin Pie. It will be my first attempt. An endeavor such as this deserves it's own post. Until then...


Signing off! Your friend, Morgan: Kitchen Warrior and Consumer of All Things Edible