Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Food Inc.- See it!

After seeing the movie Food Inc., I was inspired to stop consuming aspartame and to start my own herb garden on my small East Village fire escape. We’ll see if I actually deliver.

The movie and following panel with Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), Alice Waters, Gary Hirshberg of Stonyfield Farm, Greenmarket honcho Marcel Van Ooyen, and the film’s director, Robert Kenner were awesome. The footage was beautiful and vibrant, and the movie was shared a huge range of interviews – bringing to life Fast Food Nation while intertwining stories of an obese family, who had to choose between diabetes medicine and healthy food, farmers currently facing lawsuits against Monsanto (god of soybeans), and Stonyfield going mainstream. As a mainstream documentary, I couldn’t help wondering if it was effective and not overly preachy, or dumbed down Michael Moore style. If I didn’t notice the preachy overtones, it was because I’m clearly a member of the choir. After all, any movie ending with “this land is your land, this land is my land,” clearly had an agenda.

Key take-aways from both the movie and the panel:
  • When Alice Waters started buying local & organic produce, she didn’t do it for health or environmental reasons, but because it tasted better
  • Monsanto, a soybean company, genetically modified & patented a soybean that is now THE soybean allowing them to sue any farmer that saves seed. They own the soybean.
  • How factory farming affects illegal immigrant workers – a big beef plant is in bed with immigration.14 random employees are deported at night, so that the production isn’t effected.
  • Stonyfield & Walmart partnership: an example of why making organics mainstream is good

Stalking Alice Waters

As the Food Inc. panel ended, I pushed my way through the exiting crowd wondering, “where were all the annoying viewers who couldn’t wait to ask questions/network/touch the panelists???” Someone had to set the precedent.

I caught her as she was about to leave the stage, and was surprised to find my voice a little shaky. A line quickly formed around me. What does one say to Alice Waters???? I had a goal, and I was going to get it accomplished. Thanking her, I told her it was a life goal of mine to take a sabbatical and work at Chez Panisse (sabbatical from what, I haven’t figured out yet). “Sure,” she said, “Let me give you my card.” WAHOOOOOOOOO

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

annie's giveaway!

here comes another tasty-looking giveaway! check it out, and good luck! :)

Friday, May 1, 2009

spiralizer giveaway!

love gadgets? enter to win a spiralizer over at choosing raw. but don't win it, because then i won't.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

TOP CHEF: Operation Infiltration

After sitting at my desk for 2.5 hrs I decided I had well deserved a mid morning walk and went to survey the top chef scene.

1) Top Chef Season 5 is DEFINITELY currently being filmed at Craft. The street was quiet, trucks still parked out front, as I tried to be an inconspicuous as possible. This was difficult as curtains were pulled down and i couldn't see heads without peering into the window while on my tiptoes.
2) Observations:
There are four travel vans all named Charlie
Many people in Top Chef aprons were sitting inside Craft watching someone.
Tom was at the door getting make-up done! Yes even that bald head needs powder.
Something was brewing next door at the bar as well! Lots of people with microphones and
3) They were building a box out of wood outside that had stickered to it in big black letters:
FOOD PORN! See yesterday's post! This must be fate!
4) Operation Infiltration ideas. Please leave suggestions
a. Walk by, open the door to Craft, run in and run out
b. Get inside the food cooler!
c. Bribe the drivers and hide in either Charlie 1, Charlie 2, Charlie 3, Charlie 4
d. Get a microphone and headset, make a name tag, grab a clip board and pretend to be
part of the crew.


I have been plagued with a new form of celebrity captivation: Chefs, and not just all chefs: TOP CHEF. I am among a huge girl following completely smitten with Season 2, Sam Talbot and have dined at almost all of the restaurants in NYC that have sent chefs to the show. Needless to say I was ecstatic to learn that TOP CHEF SEASON 5 would be filmed in none other than Tom Colicchio's home turf: the Big Apple. Stalking begin!

Yet to elude crazed fans like me, Bravo continuously changed filming location- New York to Toronto to New Orleans. I happen to work around the corner from Tom's restaurant base and discovered this morning in front of CRAFT a large film crew. I thought HMMMMM. There were lots of trucks and FOOD COOLERS. And I thought HMMMMMMM. And so I asked a guy on staff what they were filming and he said "a commercial." and I said "really?"
And he said "actually I can't say" and I thought "TOP CHEF NYC! TOP CHEF NYC!" and then...i caught a glimpse of someone in a top chef chef apron!!!!

TOP CHEF!!!!! RIGHT HERE!!!!! How do I infiltrate?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

food porn

i've never been much of a newspaper reader - what can i say? i'm a trash tabloid kind of girl - but i just had a "milestone" birthday and i think i'm at the age where i need to be doing crossword puzzles daily. (but don't even think about asking me to switch to decaf. I'M STILL HUMAN!)

anyway, i nearly spat out my light-and-sweet gasoline when i came upon a true gem in this monday's paper. hugs and kisses to the boston globe for introducing me to my new favorite food porn site, TasteSpotting.

the pictures are all devastatingly beautiful, and i think even non-foodies will appreciate the aesthetic brilliance of this collection. CAUTION: MAY MAKE YOU EXTREMELY HUNGRY, EVEN THOUGH YOU JUST ATE.

consider yourselves warned.

(via the boston globe)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Seeking Sponsor

Our last call to a generous benefactor to sponsor our cheese habit- and a colorful write-up fell through but this will not stop us from continuing our quest to seek world cheese domination! Or at least very trained cheese palates.

Looking for a sponsor for the following event that has YUM written all over it it

It Takes a Tough Cheese

Wine and cheese, of course. But bourbon and cheese? A class and tasting will be held this evening from 7 to 8:30, with a Champagne reception at 6:30, at the Artisanal Premium Cheese Center classroom, 500 West 37th Street. Tickets are $85; advance registration is preferred; (877) 797-1200 or

In addition to a blog entry shout out we will cook you a meal, and name it after you (as most New York benefactors appreciate- see the Steve Schwarzman NY Public Library)

Friday, April 18, 2008


I love cheese. This is probably quite obvious given the title of our blog. Cheese tasting, at restaurants or stops into Whole Foods on Bowery, Murray Cheese, Essex Market, or my fridge may be may favorite past time. When I am in the mood for a creamy, smooth and flavorful goat, Humboldt Fog is solid. There is a line of vegetable ash in the middle, and gets creamier moving outward with a very light edible rind. I didn’t realize that this cheese has a place on every cheese plate until dining at Cork Wine Bar, a Washington DC new up and coming restaurant. With a group of six I was put in charge of the cheese plate. I was with my friend St. Louis Sam the Eater, who scanned the list and said, “I know its standard, but I can’t resist.” I realized that Sam had introduced me to this cheese while visiting me in New York last summer. I have consistently ordered it ever since. While I can always count on trying the most unique menu items with Sam, Humboldt Fog to him may be standard, but I prefer to think of it as a staple.

Westville East- a Must!

About 6 months ago I moved into my East Village apartment across from a small restaurant called Westville East. I immediately put it on the must try list, in fact I may have subconsciously picked this apartment because the restaurant looked so good. It was not the lines of people or affordable prices that jumped out at me, but the daily specials and more importantly 14 different daily market vegetables specials at $15 for 4. I don’t know whether I was saving it for a special occasion or crowd, but it took me 6 months to try this gem. Six months later I want to kick myself in the butt for not having made this affordable, fresh, hit the spot restaurant with a very friendly staff my neighborhood go-to.

This particular Tuesday night, in Sex and the City fashion, I met with my three best girl friends for a late dinner. In addition to a bottle of Californian Sauvignon Blanc, we shared excellent crab cakes over greens, that were shaped like ping pong balls, crab stuffed, cooked with flavorful scallions, peppers and spices. The tarter sauce with a kick was the perfect compliment. Grilled salmon over salad proved generous but typical. Baked macaroni and cheese was delicious- old school with a béchamel cream sauce and crispy pecorino on top rather than really cheesy style. I could not resist ordering a side of the homemade English muffin, which was light and delicious, unique as the dough is slightly sweet. The highlight of the meal included the veggie plate in which we sampled sautéed mushrooms with leaks, roasted artichokes with pecorino (my favorite!), roasted asparagus with pecorino (perfectly thin- I am a stickler for this as I hate fat asparagus), and pesto infused mashed potatoes. The only problem was that trying 5 of the 14 veggies was not enough.

At Westville East dessert should not be passed over. We shared a berry cobbler a la mode, made with blueberries and raspberries, served warm in a small dish baked with a white flour crisp top with a heaping scoop of melting homemade vanilla ice cream that was incredible. A peanut butter fanatic in the group also could not resist the daily special milkshake of peanut butter brownie which you are given the option of vanilla or chocolate base- we wisely went vanilla.

My feeling about this restaurant was right on target- a neighborhood go-to favorite. My only regret is that it took me 6 months to get here- there is no wrong group or situation for this gem.

The evolution of our tastes: progression or regression?

On a hot summer day of 1996, deep in the woods of New Hampshire, Julie and I bonded over piglet and pooh bear stuffed animals. Thus two skinny late blooming clutzes began a beautiful friendship.

The early years were marked by bad camp food, eating juju bees out of a camera bag and fruit by the foot hidden in socks. Indulgences included shrimp flavored ramen noodles stolen from another camper’s stash hidden behind the bed and incredible avocado, sprout cheese sandwiches on trip day. Our reunions throughout the early years were marked by ice cream sundaes and stove top popcorn.

Remarkably as we’ve grown older, our friendship and love for food has grown aligned. Staples of this new era include sundried tomatoes, anchovies, CHEESE, and wine (lots of it). On a recent spring Saturday after an afternoon indulgence of soft serve in peppermint schnapps to reward taxes and attempted studying Julie and I climbed into bed to watch NBC’s The Office online with a bottle of Prosecco. It wasn’t long before we brought out the Manchego and Parrano and two easy to please girls were made extremely happy.

Monday, April 7, 2008

feeling charitable?

sponsor us!

saxelby cheesemongers - one of our favorite institutions - is running a "Day a-Whey" day trip to Mecox Bay Dairy and Wolffer Vineyard. to us, it sounds like a perfect day. priceless, you might say. and yet, there is a price. but with your quick, easy payments of lots of money, we can go! and take pictures! and tell you all about it! doesn't that sound like a great deal? for you? (hint: yes!)

we're not seriously expecting you to pay for us to go on this thing (you know, unless you want to...) but i thought we'd fill you in on all the fun we're not having. here's saxelby's dreamy description of their planned excursion:
Saxelby Cheesemongers says: You don't have to travel far from New York City to taste some of the finest wines and cheeses in the world! Cheese lovers, oenophiles, and just about anyone interested in sustainability, local farming, and good food will delight in this fabulous, farm-y excursion! Our Day A-Whey will begin at Wolffer Vineyard with a guided wine tasting and picnic lunch. Next, we'll stop at Mecox Bay Dairy, a fourth generation family farm in Bridgehampton for a tour of their farm and creamery. And last but not least, if the weather permits (and we're crossing our fingers it does!) we'll visit at a local beach for a little stroll in the sun and sand. Oh, and did we mention that we'll do the driving?? All you have to do is show up hungry!

A Day A-Whey starts with wine (as all good days a-whey should...) at Wolffer Vineyard. Daytrippers will have time to meander through the vines and see the beginnings of the wine making process in full bloom. Around noontime, we'll convene on Wolffer's beautiful terrace for a guided tasting and picnic lunch featuring five wines, an array of raw milk cheeses from Mecox Bay Dairy, and other local fixins from NYC Greenmarkets. Roman Roth, a German-born winemaker who studied winemaking all over the world before settling on Long Island to pursue his craft, produces excellent wine utilizing traditional and sustainable methods that highlight the loamy soil and mild climate of the East End of Long Island.

Next, we'll head out to Mecox Bay Dairy, where Art Ludlow, farmer and cheese maker extraordinaire, will treat daytrippers to a tour of his farm. We'll see how fruits and veggies, turkeys, pigs, and cows all play a part on this tiny, yet diverse family farm. Art will then lead us on a tour of his creamery and explain the oh-so-mysterious process that transforms raw milk into delicious cheese!

Finally, we'll stop off at a local beach for a late-afternoon stroll and an opportunity to soak up some precious early summer sunshine; with the bus returning to the city by 7:30 pm

Couldn't we all use A Day A-Whey?!

For tickets ($110) and further information, please visit:
and, uh... we accept paypal. i'm just saying.

Friday, April 4, 2008


remember sam, from top chef (season 2)? of course you do. he was the ruggedly handsome (long hair) yet vulnerable (diabetic) one who really deserved to win but was robbed of his victory because the producers would rather have seen the drama unfold between that whiny pre-pubescent wolverine wannabe, marcel, and ilan, the reasonably talented one-trick paella-making pony, than watch sam and ilan pal around good-naturedly in the kitchen. you remember.

anyway, in the days before taking top chef by storm, sam worked in a humble little restaurant near union square: punch. we've been hearing good things about their dinner appetizers, so we finally made time to grace them with our (and our friend hannah's) appetites.

there were at least a dozen appealing items on the menu, so our limited budget and stomach capacity prohibited us from giving you a full view, but we were very pleased with the sampling we did get. first, there was the salmon tartare:the grilled naan bread that came with it was warm and moist and fluffy, with enough crispiness to hold up to the tartare - which itself was an unexpectedly flavorful combination of salmon and apple. it sounded weird to us too, but the flavors mix really nicely.

because we can never get enough raw (or quasi-cooked) seafood, we had to try the maine crab and avocado rolls with yellowfin tuna sashimi:
i didn't even realize that's what these were when they arrived - they just looked like tuna on sushi rice - but, upon closer inspection (and tasting) i realized that they were so much more. the avocado flavor is mild, and contributes primarily to the smooth, creamy texture of the roll, enhancing the crab taste (which, in my opinion, all too often is lost in dishes like this) and the texture of the tuna.

roasted pumpkin hush puppies?! in april?? you betcha. these seemed like a safe investment, as they were one of the cheapest items on the menu, but we were not disappointed:
the description didn't really do them justice, as they did not look or taste anything like hush puppies to me. they were, rather, creamy little pumpkin-y nuggets with a delicately crispy exterior that was hard to penetrate without spurting the filling out on the plate. becca and hannah were uncomfortable with the idea of pumpkin in springtime, but not me. along with peppermint, it's one of those fall/winter flavors that i enjoy all year round.

last, we took a chance and ordered the vegetable tasting with vegetable lasagna, described as "best of the market" (how could we say no?). its essence was vaguely omakase-esque, since the vegetables included are whatever is fresh and abundant, but we're pretty sure that that's generally a good thing. in any case, it definitely was this time:

Saturday, March 29, 2008

ode on a corporate cafe

as you may know, i have retired from the office life. several people have asked me, "hey julie, what will you miss most about work? also, you're looking fabulous today." and what i tell them is, "why, this old thing? aw, shucks, thank you! i just threw it on. and i'm really going to miss the corporate cafeteria.

free post-its are all well and good, but i don't think i'll ever get over the corporate cafeteria at my old office. it's that mythical beast: an affordable, reliably high-quality lunch spot in midtown with enough variety to keep you coming back day after day. not only in the neighborhood, but actually in the very same building as my sad little cubicle. that means no getting rained on or snowed on or frostbitten or sweaty just to get lunch! the salad bar was fresh and varied enough that it didn't take much willpower for me to stick to the healthy stuff, but for days when only a quesadilla or burrito would do, the friendly guy at the mexican station was always there for me with his generous guacamole ladle in hand. beyond those old stand-bys and the regular grill station, soup and sandwiches, there were always a dozen or so other options that changed every day. compared with my current daily rotation of omelet-noodles-cereal-bagel, it was a veritable cornucopia of food options five days a week.

i got the feeling that personal photography in the cafeteria is frowned upon (not least of all when the editors of certain high-profile weekly newsmagazines are treating their high-profile interviewees to a casual post-interview lunch), so i sadly have no photographic evidence of the dazzling array of options; i can, however, treat you to a beauty shot of the mouth-watering salad that kept me coming back nearly every day of my cubicle monkey career:
i've always liked salad bars for the freedom they give you to mix and match bites of this and bits of that as you desire. yes, those are monster chunks of feta and three kinds of beans and sprinklings of sunflower seeds. as a close-up, this doesn't capture the size of the beast, which was always very generous - i like a hearty salad, and at the caf's prices, i could have a true meal for $5 or less.

so if you're looking for a new job, i can suggest a truly delicious place of employment.


the next time you find yourself wandering the lower east side, hungry and/or thirsting for a creative cocktail, pop over to rayuela, the pricey but fantastic latin joint on allen between stanton and rivington. rayuela self-describes as responsible for the
first-of-its kind Estilo Libre Latino (Freestyle Latino) cuisine, which respects yet redefines contemporary Latin American and Spanish cuisines. While the basic structure of the traditional dishes will be maintained, the actual ingredients may be unconventional and may come from over a dozen Latin American countries including Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, Cuba, Colombia, as well as Spain.
i don't know what that means, but i understand YUM YUM YUM. one of our favorite uncles recently treated us to a latin feast while we were slummin' it down on the LES, and we invite you to come along for the ride (but don't touch anything. we're hungry too).

the cocktail list at rayuela is a little confusing, in a good way. their innovative approach includes ingredients as unexpected (and sometimes scary) as sage leaves and anjou pear (in the vodka drink) and lemon thyme (in the gin). we asked the bartender for his personal favorites (as we tend to do), and wound up with the vodka and sherry cocktails. the sherry cocktail (the bright red one in the foreground below) was a bit more potent and acidic than i expected, and it went down fine - one of those drinks that makes you say after every sip, "this is really interesting!" the vodka cocktail (the yellowish white glass behind the sherry cocktail) was smooth and spectacularly well balanced.

and now, i present to you: the unexpectedly incredible yucca flour buns that they bring you at the beginning of the meal: becca had been to rayuela once before, and warned me about these little melt-in-your-mouth taste rockets. she said, "they come with butter, but they don't need it." she was right, of course, but who am i to turn down high quality butter on anything? they were delicious on their own - fluffy but chewy, with a hint of cheesy flavor - but nothing short of orgasmic with a gentle schmear of fresh, creamy butter on top.

if venezuelans are the happiest people in the world, i think i know why: venezuelan arepas:
rayuela's version comes sweet and crispy with a plop of goat cheese and a drizzle of pesto, and tastes like a cheesy, corny dream.

no tour of amazing aperitivos would be complete without a mention of the tuna rellena: shrimp, crab, and avocado wrapped in sliced tuna served with cucumbers in a soy vinaigrette. we were so excited for this dish that we dived right in and were halfway done when i remembered to stop and snap a picture. but, i think you'll get the idea:drooling yet? i don't want to overwhelm you, so i'll just leave off with the paella de coco. according to the fine folks downtown, their paella contains "valencia rice infused with lemongrass, coconut milk and ginger, served with shrimp, calamari, scallops, octopus, manila clams and peas. served with langoustines and ginger oil." it's a bit more work than the other dishes - you get to dig the meat out of the shells for most of these mollusks and crustaceans - but it's more than worth it.