Thursday, April 28, 2011

Hey Batta, Batta

I've loved going to baseball games ever since I was a wee little one and my dad used to take us to Appleton Foxes games. In 1994, Alex Rodriguez even played for the Foxes briefly before getting called up to the majors. My parents still have the poster!

Fast forward seventeen years to Tuesday night. It was a beautiful spring evening with unseasonably warm temperatures in the mid-70s. Luke and I went to the Yankees game, and we got to see A-Rod, Jeter, Teixeira (my fav) and the rest of the Yankees crew in action against the Chicago White Sox. 

Luke's company got one of the suites, which was just to the left of home plate. 

I must say, as a baseball fan, it doesn't get much better than this (unless of course, we were at Miller Park). 

We enjoyed lots of tasty grub, including baked mac n' cheese, peppercorn crusted chicken tenders, spicy chicken wings, and Nathan's hotdogs with the works. 

Despite the fact that the Yankees lost in a nailbiter at the end, we had a great night at the ol' ball park. 

Hey, at least the Brewers won!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Friday Brunch: A Rare but Beautiful Thing

On Friday, Luke and I headed over to Brooklyn for brunch. Even though he didn't have to work on Good Friday, most of our friends did, so we assumed that Five Leaves wouldn't be quite as busy as it is on the weekends. We were wrong. The place was jumpin! Thankfully, the wait was only about 15 minutes.

We started things off easy with refreshing Arnold Palmers. 

At last, the food arrived, and once again, it did not disappoint! The Five Leaves Burger was a true masterpiece: grass-fed beef, fried pineapple ring, house pickled beets, harissa mayo, and an organic sunny up egg. The combination sounds..interesting (to say the least) but it was absolutely fantastic!

Tip: The restaurant is open everyday from 8am-1am. On weekends, I recommend arriving relatively early. The wait can easily be 45-60 minutes, especially on beautiful spring days.

Also, I didn't realize it when we were there, but Five Leaves started out as Heath Ledger's vision for an "Australian-meets-American-restaurant-bar that would serve local and organic fare". His family released money from his estate to complete the business venture. Check out a full history of the place here.   

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Spicy Stuffed Peppers -- Need I Say More?

Spring is here! I wanted to cook something this week that was out of the ordinary and had a fresh, vibrant taste. Stuffed peppers, anyone?

I got these beautiful green peppers from FreshDirect this week. They were the perfect carrying case for all the spicy goodness.

Getting started

I used Bethenny Frankel's recipe as a jumping off point and made a few modifications to put my own spin on it.
Ready for the oven
They turned out beautifully. Luke deemed them to be of "restaurant quality". Woot! The filling was full of flavor and packed a good punch. The feta paired well with the spiciness of the sauce and really balanced everything out.

Nice and toasty! 
With warmer weather on the way, whip these babies up for a little al fresco dining. Here's the recipe:


4 large green peppers
1 lb. ground turkey
2 c rice (cooked)
1 medium onion
2 c tomato/marinara sauce
1 1/2 tsp garlic salt
3 tsp tabasco (less if you don't want it spicy)
2 1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp fresh thyme
1/3 cup feta cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

1. Cook rice per directions (or use instant).

2. Crumble turkey meat over medium heat.

3. While turkey meat is cooking, chop the tops off peppers. Throw away the stem and do a rough chop of the remaining tops. Combine with chopped onion, garlic salt and tomato/marinara sauce. Saute over medium heat in a large skillet. Add remaining ingredients, except feta cheese.

4. Combine the mixture with cooked turkey, rice and feta cheese. Save a small amount of feta to sprinkle on top.

5. Remove the inside of the peppers. Portion the mixture into each of the peppers. (You may have extra filling. Trust me, this is ok. You'll want to just eat it with a spoon.)

6. Place stuffed peppers on a baking sheet. Top with feta cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes (until cheese starts to brown and pepper is soft).

VoilĂ !

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Five Guys = One Tasty Burger

It's no secret that my favorite fast-food burger & fries joint is Culvers, and while they have several locations around the country, they have yet to expand into my neck of the woods.

Until yesterday, Shake Shack was just about as close as I could get, especially since SS and Culvers both offer flavor-of-the-day custard. Last night, however, Luke and I finally ventured into Five Guys in the West Village, and I have to admit that it was mighty close to Culvers when it comes to the taste, quality and freshness of the burger itself. (I know, the fact that I've never been to Five Guys is beyond comprehension, but there you have it.)

The burgers are made fresh upon ordering, and you can eat shelled peanuts in the booth while you wait. Nice little touch.

For those of you who haven't frequented Five Guys, here's a tip. The regular burger comes with two patties, while the little burger comes with one. All toppings are free!

Bonus tip: try the grilled onions. Phenomenal.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Southern Cooking with Big City Flare

I'm a big fan of Grub Street, the daily food news website. It's my all-access pass to what's new and delicious around the city.

Grub Street assigned the oh-so-enviable task of finding NYC's best fried chicken to New Orleans--based chef John Besh. He went to the city's top six "nouveau-fried-fowl purveyors"and ranked them based on crispness, juiciness and flavor. It'll make you hungry just reading it.

For the full rundown, check out Grub Street's slideshow.

Spoiler alert: his top choice is a fabulous one, if I do say so myself.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

New Look. New Name.

Welcome to my blog. Some of you have been following me since 2007. Some of you are new to the site. Either way, I hope you enjoy The City Dweller. It's not groundbreaking. It's just a simple place for me to share the things I do in the city.

Take a peak around, and if you like what you see, stay tuned for more!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Eating Well at L'Artusi

To celebrate Luke's 'being home' after several weeks of traveling, I made a reservation at L'Artusi, an Italian restaurant in the West Village that I've been dying to try. Luke was there last summer and has been telling me about it ever since. I made the reservation over two weeks ago (a necessary step if you want to dine on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday at any time besides 5:30PM or 10PM) and the night finally arrived!

To get things started, I ordered the L'Artusi vodka gimlet. Maybe it was because spring was in the air or maybe I just really needed a drink, but this gimlet might have been the best cocktail I have ever tasted. Vodka, St. Germain, and lime juice served over large ice cubes and garnished with a lime twist.

The meal itself kicked off with the formage of the evening: gorgonzola with flaky, buttery wafers and tiny pieces of semi-sweet chocolate. The chocolate and gorgonzola created a surprising but perfection combination.

Next, we shared the roasted mushrooms. The mushrooms were topped with fried egg, pancetta, and ricotta salata. Again, I do not exaggerate when I say that this might be one of the best foods I've ever tasted in my entire life. Luke concurred. If you go to L'Artusi, you must try it. I wish photos could capture taste!

We both ordered pasta for the main course. I opted for bucatini with tomato, pancetta and pecorino. The dish offered so many different flavors. I was in heaven.

Luke ordered tagliatelle with bolognese bianco. Equally delicious!

We shared a side of roasted cauliflower. Fantastic.

To conclude the deliciousness, we ordered the olive oil cake with raisin marmelatta, vin santo, and creme fraiche mousse, paired with a cappuccino.

Tip: L'Artusi is ideal for large groups. They will likely seat your party in the beautiful wine room upstairs. The special area features French doors, and you will be surrounded by hundreds of wine bottles, waiting patiently to be uncorked. The upstairs section is quiet and intimate, while the downstairs dining area is much more lively between the bar and the open kitchen.

A final note. One of the things I love most about New York is that on any night of the week, you can find yourself having a dining experience that is out of this world. I expected the meal to be quite good, but L'Artusi far exceeded my expectations. Absolute perfection from start to finish. Bravo!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Greenwich Village Meets Jamaica at Miss Lily's

Last night, I ventured downtown to Miss Lily's, a Caribbean/Jamaican restaurant/bar/hotspot. I had a great time catching up with my gal pals, and we enjoyed some good Caribbean eats along the way.

To start, I ordered a Roots & Culture cocktail--a fabulous combination of sherry, ginger juice, lime, and a splash of soda. The ginger gave it a hot little kick!

We were all in the mood for variety, so we shared several apps and entrees. To start things off, we ordered the ackee dip with plantain chips and cod fish fritters. My vote would definitely go to the ackee dip on this one. The cod fish fritters weren't anything special, and for $9, I thought the portion was incredibly tiny.

For the main event, we shared the jerk chicken, the whole snapper steamed with okra, tomato and carrot, and the vegetable curry. Sides included plantains, rice & beans, and collard greens.
Clockwise from top: rice & beans, vegetable curry, whole snapper, jerk chicken, plantains
I'd happily return for the jerk chicken and plantains. Vegetable curry was pretty good, and the rice was average. The whole snapper was a bit of a disappointment--the taste was ok, but we were picking out bones throughout the entire meal. (Tip: I think this dish is best for one person, rather than for sharing.)

For dessert, we devoured the rum cake with toasted coconut creme and banana pudding. Two yums up!

Overall, the food was pretty good, and you can tell they put a lot into creating the perfect atmosphere--great music and dim lighting with pops of color. Unfortunately, the service really started to wane by the end of our meal. The restaurant transformed into a hotspot scene before our eyes, and suddenly we couldn't get anything for the life of us--dessert, another glass of wine or water refills.

When it comes to the New York dining scene, I feel that good service is the key to success. Generally, I don't return to restaurants with bad service, but I would give this place another shot if I was coming with one other person (not a large group). What can I say? I enjoyed the jerk chicken!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

So Many Books, So Little Space

If there's one thing Luke and I need, it's more apartment space. We've lived in our current apartment for almost two years, and despite two large Salvation Army donations, we (meaning I) still manage to acquire more stuff.

The time had come for a serious book reorganization. Not only did I have too many books, but they weren't organized in any sense of the word. Plus, our friend gave us a beautiful leaning bookshelf when he left NY, so there was a little more space for my extensive and ever-growing book collection.

First, I sorted everything by genre and age group. For future reference, it's probably not the best idea to do this on a couch, but whatever. It did the job.

Then, I put all of my children's books (picture, middle grade, and young adult) on the old book shelf along with my chic lit and favorite running books.

Next, all of Luke's books went on the new shelf, with the rest of my fiction, nonfiction and reference books (with room to spare!).

Moral of the story: organization is the key to city living, people. Believe it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Home Farming...with Triscuit

Yesterday, when I was walking near Madison Square Park, someone handed me a terra cotta flower pot with a Triscuit logo. Inside was a nice little 'green' surprise: my very own home apartment farming kit!

Today is Home Farming Day. Triscuit is encouraging people to get involved with the movement and get growing! Check out their website and Facebook page for more info.

Chive seeds!

If I can do it in my tiny little NYC apartment, you can, too! Let's get growing, people.

Monday, April 11, 2011

For the Girl/Guy Who Has Everything

I was over in Brooklyn this weekend moseying around, and my good pal AM suggested that we stop by In God We Trust, an NYC-based boutique with four locations, offering men's and women's clothing, jewelry, hats, fragrances, shoes and accessories. Best of all, they make their own clothing under the In God We Trust label.

If you're looking for something to do on Saturday, stop by the Greenpoint location for their spring preview!

If you can't make it, check out their online boutique. You'll find lots of unique (and cheeky) pieces, several of which can be personalized.

Friday, April 8, 2011

DIY Gourmet Grilled Cheese

I love pizza. I have a killer sweet tooth. But when it comes down to it, what food could I eat every day for the rest of my life? Grilled cheese.

I was inspired by the gourmet grilled cheese I had at Lucy's Whey a few weeks ago and decided to try it out for myself. 

Verdict? Quite delicious. Cheddar and fig is a beautiful combo. 

But really, doesn't it always taste better when someone else makes it? 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Sweet as Pie

It's no secret that I have a full-blown addiction to enjoy FreshDirect, a food delivery service that offers good prices, a flexible delivery schedule and out-of-this-world customer service.

My friend K stopped by on Wednesday, and while I usually bake some sweet treats for such an occasion, I opted for FreshDirect's frozen peach pie. Upon baking, the sweet smells of the peaches and the savory aroma of the buttery crust filled the apartment.

(image courtesy of FreshDirect)
I served the flaky goodness ala mode--we were two happy ladies!

Tip: FreshDirect often runs specials for first-time customers (e.g. $50 off your first order).

Monday, April 4, 2011

Ladies Who Brunch

City dwellers, I have four syllables for you: build.a.bis.cuit.

On Sunday, I joined two of my favorite gal pals, KAB and RG, for brunch at Peels, the new sister restaurant to Freemans.

We expected to wait for a table, but surprisingly, the wait wasn't too bad for a Sunday morning--about 45 minutes. The gorgeous day distracted us, as we stood outside sipping our frothy lattes from Think. Once inside, we were seated a communal table, featuring a beautiful wood counter top. The restaurant itself had a light, airy feel.

(images courtesy of Southern in the City)
Most importantly, the build-a-biscuit did not disappoint. You pay for all of your ingredients, so build carefully! I splurged for the fried chicken and organic scrambled eggs. Absolutely amazing. I'll be back to try some new combos this spring.

Peels Build-a-biscuit

Classic buttermilk biscuit...3
Local organic scrambled eggs...add 3
Bacon, country hame or sausage...add 2
Fried chicken...add 6
Cheddar, muenster or pepperjack...add 1
Creamed collard greens...add 2
Red eye gravy...add 0.50
Avocado...add 2

Bonus: we saw Jason Schwartzman waiting to be seated as we left. He is one of my absolute favorites. Who doesn't love a good sighting?