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Showing posts from March, 2014

Pastel de Papas

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If you Google "Pastel de Papas" then Google will tell you this is a traditional Chilean dish.  Maybe so, but I associate Pastel de Papas with Argentina.  Particularly with my first trip to Argentina and my travels to San Martin de los Andes.

To me, Pastel de Papas is pretty much the definition of comfort food.  It falls in line with lasagna and chili (and is a weird variation/combination of the two).  There is also a huge element of improvisation that comes along with PdP.  I have asked people for recipes (and looked online) to find that each person has their own version and they even change it up quite regularly.  The basics are key -- ground meat and mashed potato, but beyond that it's up to the chef!

Feeling in the mood for a culinary adventure (and challenge), I volunteered to cook for my Argentine friend (living in NY) and said I would make Pastel de Papas.  I had to make this as authentic as possible!

Long story short, after 2 hours in the kitchen, we had a wonderf…

Austin, a recap.

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I finally made it to the city that I love and had a wonderful time.

In addition to tacos, I also ate some delicious other meals/snacks in ATX.

At Max's Wine Dive I ate fried chicken and champagne (because "why the hell not?" they boast on their site.)  It had been years since I tasted the fatty crunchy yum of fried chicken (gluten-free, of course) and I was happy to be back in the game.  They also brought the chicken along with a chipotle honey that I could not stop slathering onto my bird. I had an epic burger at HopDoddy's on South Congress. They too catered to the glutards of the world with a "non-gluten" bun option.  The line wrapping around the building was initially intimidating but well worth the wait (and it moved rather fast).  I ordered that day's Daily Special -- a burger topped with pulled pork and cole slaw and maybe some other things....cheese....but I was busy trying not to have a heart attack to remember.  I also had truffle fries and a…

Austin IIII. Los Tacos.

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Austin is known for their tacos.  I know that Texas is where "Tex-Mex" food originated (duh), but what is about Austin and tacos, specifically?  The world wide web yields many results for "Best Tacos in Austin" or restaurant/taqueria proprietary sites, but the strong connection between Austin and Tacos is still a mystery. 
I overcame the unknown and embarked on a taco adventure in Austin, TX.
The first "tacos" I had were at Arturo's Bakery and Cafe on 17th Street (an easy walk from UT's campus).  I walked into this little restaurant/counter service joint and loved how immediately friendly the man behind the counter was.  The chalkboard menu features breakfast (served until 11am) with the ever popular Austin staple -- The Breakfast Taco.  They had sandwiches and salads and quesadillas.  Where were the tacos?  I asked for a quesadillas  suggestion.  If I was in the mood for something sweet, the Sesame Ginger Chicken 'dilla, for something spicy, th…

Austin III

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"Keep Austin Weird. Support Local Businesses."
This is Austin's motto and one that resonates with me.

The facts are as follows:
I am weird.
Austin is weird.
Weird things are entertaining.
Therefore, I am entertaining, as is Austin, TX.



I may not be that entertaining, but Austin certainly was.  Coming from New York City which seems to have everything and everyone, I was surprised that I was never really bored in Austin. Yes, everything was new so had an exciting appeal, but even during the weekdays when the main drags of Austin were relatively quiet (I guess people do have jobs...) there was something really peaceful about sitting in a cafe and reading the latest edition of Edible Austin.  I did not feel like I needed to go out and take advantage of the 16 bajillion things happening that minute (as sometimes I do feel in New York).  I just existed.  I embraced the calm. And that was delightful.  Delightfully weird.

Austin II

In Austin there is food.  Lots and lots of food.

I have yet to be hungry.

Food trucks.  Tacos.  Tex-Mex. Thai. Coffee.  Craft beer.  Burgers.  BBQ.  Seafood (questionable because Austin is landlocked?).

Basically, if you want to go on a culinary adventure, check out Austin.

PICTURES TO FOLLOW!

Austin I

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Austin, Texas.  Part 1.

Finally!  After months and months (years?) of talking about my love for a city I've never been, I have made it to Austin, Texas.  Not only is this my first time in Austin, it is my first time in Texas (outside of an airport).  Howdy y'all!

A few quick things I've observed:

It is warm.  I like that.The water smells funny.  There is a lot of construction happening in the "downtown" areaLots of banksThe city is lively and quiet and sprawling and condensed. Lots of contradictions, but they are very good contradictions.

Gato

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If someone were to ask me when my love for Bobby Flay started, I would have no idea.I think it was somewhere around the time that I started watching Food Network's Throwdown with BobbyFlay and thinking to myself whether I could ever create something so good that Bobby would think to challenge on National TV.
My obsession is fairly passive.
I do not spend hours following his actions on the internet or reading everything there is to read about him.I’ve never been to Bar Americain, although I do have the cookbook.  I was fairly upset when Mesa Grill closed.
My most obsessive moment was in 2010 when I tried to follow Bobby Flay and wife Stephanie March around Northwestern’s campus.  She was Homecoming Marshall and he was her arm candy.I had to Google her to find out her claim to fame, so Bobby was the real star in my eyes.
Regardless of my engagement with Bobby Flay and his happenings/whereabouts, I have a number of outlets for knowing what is new and exciting in the New York City re…

A Taco Investment

I would love to buy a taco for $2.75.  Can I see a menu?

This article caught my eye, as do most things related to tacos/Mexican cuisine.  But it's less about tacos and more about investments.  Read on:

Buying a $2.75 Taco? This App Invests Your 25¢ Change in the Markets "Getting in the habit of socking away money is good. The problem is that at current rates, the dollars just sit there, earning almost zero interest."
I really love the concept.  Start investing early.  That's my motto.  And spare change goes a long way.  I had a friend that used to put her coins (pennies, nickels, dimes, but not quarters) in the trash.  Yes, I know it costs more than $0.01 to manufacture a penny, but these things do add up! TD Bank has the "Penny Arcade" to help people count coins and encourage the little ones to start saving early.  
Stay tuned....Android (and iPhone) app will hopefully be out Q2 2014!

Comfortable

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Cómodo, the Spanish word for "comfortable" and the name of the restaurant I went to last Saturday is the perfect way to describe my experience.  It was comfortable, warm, and completely unpretentious.

I learned about this restaurant via Tasting Table's Friday email blast.  The subject was "Argentine Farmhouse chic..." so I was immediately hooked!  The email was highlighting a new restaurant in Fort Greene, Colonia Verde, the newest outpost from the couple behind Cómodo in SoHo.



Although the menus are fairly similar, obviously I must try both.  Seeing as SoHo is more convenient than Brooklyn, I ventured to the cozy little (well, medium-sized) Cómodo for dinner with friends.  Everything on the menu looked incredibly appetizing, but I opted for the following:
WARM BRUSSELS SPROUT CAESAR SALAD Sautéed Brussels sprouts with a mustardy-avocado Parmesan dressing
PÃO DE QUEIJO SLIDERS Lamb sliders served on homemade Brazilian cheese bread with a chipotle cream sauce
Yum. …

The Subway

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Riding the subway in NYC is a unique experience.  No other city has a public transportation system quite like New York's.

I find it fairly easy to navigate (once you get an understanding of all the different lines) and there is something so "New York" about it.  Everyone rides the subway!



Well, there are certainly people who do not.  These people (friends and family of mine, even!) think the subway is dirty, smelly, inconvenient, scary, or some other horrific adjective.  Yes, of course it is!  But not always.  I rarely feel unsafe on the subway.  Even when it smells, I can move cars as soon as I arrive at the next stop.  Maybe it's inconvenient, but so are taxis when they are stuck in traffic or take a stupid route to your destination.

Yesterday I observed two amazing moments on the subway.  One on my way to work.  One on my way home.

On my way to work:
Two kids, I'm guessing 5 and 8, discussing the prank they were going to play on their Dad for April Fool's …

Learning a Language

What I'm about to say is not a huge revelation and many before me have said the same.

Learning a language is hard.

I technically speak Spanish.  I took classes throughout high school (and my HS had an immersive, no English allowed, approach to teaching languages).  I spent a summer in Spain.  I've visited Argentina (and spent the majority of time with Spanish-speakers) 3 times.  I can get by with my limited knowledge of the subjunctive and the few vocabulary words that I know.

Post-Buenos Aires, I wanted to brush up on my Spanish so I felt confident speaking the language.  I downloaded Duolingo, changed my phone to Spanish, and began texting with my Argentine friends in Spanish only.  I also dedicated a notebook to new Spanish words and phrases that I am learning (or forgot and am relearning).  Sometimes I even listen to Spanish talk radio.  This is all great.

Here's the catch: learning a language is hard when you do not practice speaking.  I can sit and craft witty Spanis…

isms

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I have lots of isms.  Well, really they are my life theories that I try and phrase succinctly.  Yes, my tell-tale sayings or phrases that describe a situation.  That is an ism.

When George Bush was President and said some silly things they were coined Bushisms.

I want to coin MayDayisms.  I have lots of philosophies on life that I believe others deserve to hear.   I have been thinking about devoting an entirely new blog to my MayDayisms and musings.  I muse a lot.

Thanks to Google for these 2 very helpful factoids about isms:



Pretty interesting that the use of "ism" has increased in the past 60 or so years.  Can everyone have their own type of ism?


Experiment

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When my sister first visited and then lived in Buenos Aires in 2010 she spoke (and blogged) about yerba mate.  This tea-style drink was an Argentine staple, and actually fairly common throughout South America.  I had heard of "mate" from my visits to Argo Tea when I enjoyed the Roasted Mate or Mate Latte.  The flavor, I recalled, was slightly bitter, but very robust and "chewy" and Argo did a great job of making this drink accessible to the masses.

When I walked out of Ezeiza Airport in Buenos Aires in August 2010, my sister greeted me with an enormous hug and thrust a wooden cup/chalice with a metal spoon/straw in my face.  This was mate.


Well, actually the cup was the mate and the green stuff inside was the yerba.  The metal straw was a bombilla and I was not allowed to touch it.  The tea was delicious and when I handed the "empty" (water-less) mate back to my sister and said "Gracias, Julia" she quickly noted that saying "Gracias" …