Glorious Food: North (Armonk, NY)

Sunlight coming in through the window, I lie back in my warm bed and close my eyes. My WindowFeb14left hand is stroking my red dog’s fur, if she could purr she would. So would I. Half of an apple cinnamon muffin with a sugary crumb topping melted away with my strong cup of coffee. A wonderful start to the morning after an even better evening.

I do believe that my calling in life is to go out to restaurants and review them or watching television shows and rating them.  Last night we treated ourselves going out for dinner at a restaurant called North in Armonk, N.Y.

It is something we have not done in months. With no income our dinners have consisted of scrambled eggs, toast, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, home-made chicken soup and pizza. We never complain. Last night was an exception to perk us up.

It worked. We were delightfully grateful that every mouthful “danced on our tongues,” our greatest compliment. From appetizer(s) Flatbread “pizza” with mushrooms and cheese, and bacon, apple, fennel salad, every bite was amazing.

I do not eat fish, usually. It is rare for me to find a fish dish that is acceptable I am definitely picky. I ordered monkfish, in a lemon-butter sauce with tiny grape-size potatoes. I swooned. My husband had swordfish which was almost as good but I definitely won. Though I tasted his swordfish and I even liked it. (That’s never happened before.)

After we finished the meal I felt sad that we weren’t starting it. Sad. Our lovely friend and waitress, Maria, was there, a sweet smile on her face, animated, knowledgeable and sincere. Her helper, Rebecca, was as charming and helpful.

For those who know me I could not leave without dessert, my husband and I are genetically programmed to NEED dessert. Even though we were bursting out of our outfits we, of course, had to look at the menu and decided to share a huge chocolate chip cookie (served in a frying pan) with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Let me say this, I applaud this restaurant because when I ordered a Diet Coke (feeling a bit guilty) they told me that they do not serve anything with artificial ingredients but they asked me if I would like to try a natural soda sweetened with agave. Bravo! This speaks to me, it is the CVS (phasing out cigarettes) of restaurants.

The evening was divine, our date was heavenly and a real treat. After paying and saying goodbye we lovingly clutched the apple crumb muffins they give to each patron after we paid the bill.

If that’s not heaven, what is?

*PS For those who are unfamiliar with my blog this could be the start of another “Gazpacho Chronicles” from last summer.

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The Joy of a Good Meal (Food Pop)

Roy's Melting Hot Chocolate Souffle

Roy’s Melting Hot Chocolate Souffle (Photo credit: Mike Saechang)

A third of a steak. Half a plate of small monk fishies, fine, monk fish. Large glass of cranberry juice, no ice but a spritz of seltzer, half of a dinner roll with butter, half of a piece of chocolate molten cake with vanilla-almond chip ice cream. Fine, I know I did it to myself but I fully blame my husband who basically forced me into sharing dessert with him. What could I do? I’m the one who used to say “there is always room for dessert.” I couldn’t let him down and that almond ice cream is not just amazing, its sinful. It’s the one dessert our whole family loves. I asked my husband to take a picture of the dessert before we ate it and send it to the kids and tell them we can come here when they come home from school but apparently we were so excited to eat that we forgot to take the picture until it was half eaten.The cake was warm inside, the ice cream matched the cake to perfection, there was not a crumb left. Yeah, that good.

Ouch, I paid for it when I got home. My stomach was all stretched out and grumbling like an old spitting, cranky man. I don’t eat much these days and for goodness sakes why I ate so much to me is a mystery except that I didn’t have to cook and we were out at a restaurant and I was in the house all day and it tasted SO good and so fresh. I take full responsibility, I am not used to heavy food anymore. I’ve been living on toast, yogurt, eggs, light food. Did I remember that as we were being seated? Hell no. Would I do it again? I’m sorry but yes I would. These tastes were dancing on my tongue. My husband and I agreed this was the best meal we have eaten in a very long time.

Tomorrow, I will go back to plain yogurt with a little honey for lunch and scrambled eggs with toast for dinner. It’s not that I mind eating that at all. Especially when the kids are away at college and I don’t have to be a short order cook. I will happily eat clean food (as we call it) and remember lovingly, the food we ate tonight. What’s a little stomach ache when the flavors did pirouettes in my mouth? The side dishes that accompanied the entrees were exquisite as well. The steak came with some sort of root vegetable minced blend, it tasted like Thanksgiving. The monk fish was nestled on, I have no idea what, but it was soft, creamy and tasted like a risotto with blanched asparagus surrounding it. It was DIVINE and we were both SO happy.

So, while I may suffer a little tonight, it’s okay. Not only do I deserve it, I welcome it. Because a meal like this demands to be eaten and enjoyed. Do I regret eating it and paying the consequences? Be serious. It was worth every single bite and more.

And In The End…

Happy New Year 2013

Happy New Year 2013 (Photo credit: Mark Kens)

Last post of 2112:

After my rather solemn afternoon,(see the post before this one: https://hibernationnow.wordpress.com/2012/12/31/bloody-foolish-me/) I pulled myself together and we had a wonderful early dinner as a family, the food was exquisite and our children 18 and 20, entertained us, as usual. The no fighting/no texting rule was in effect. There was much laughter and seriously good food. For my foodies (and I am one of them, here is most of the menu)  Appetizer: There was a choice of raw tuna with tofu, lobster bisque or gnocchi with mushrooms. I chose the gnocchi, our son chose the bisque and my husband ordered the raw (really hard for me not to say EEW) tuna and tofu. I’m trying to be serious here, it’s tough! Our daughter had a salad for an appetizer. You will see why later.

For our entrees: choice of filet mignon (yes, please for the three of us) with mashed potatoes and mushrooms that tasted like frizzled onions, were divine. I eat red meat about once every six months and I dare say, I enjoyed it. Our daughter (the vegetarian) had the gnocchi as a main dish, no mushrooms, in a tomato sauce. In my opinion, they should have stayed with the white (cream?) sauce that we had and my daughter agreed. The other options were…..I have no idea as soon as we saw the filet mignon we didn’t concentrate, sorry. Wait, my husband said there was also chicken and a seafood risotto and maybe something else. He also said once he saw the steak he couldn’t concentrate. On the table there were slices of dark raisin/walnut bread and some hard wheat bread.(Okay, so I ordered more bread for the table so I could have two slices of the raisin walnut bread with butter.) It was an occasion( and I have been eating like a bunny.)

For dessert there were three options: Linzer torte (we’re HERE!!!) or chocolate mousse cake with coffee crunch ice cream ( or vanilla) and pumpkin cheesecake that we all laughed about. My husband and I could not decide so we ordered one linzer torte and one chocolate mousse and split both in half. Sometimes, you just need both. They also offered sorbet ( seriously?) but our family doesn’t even count that as an option but they did offer it so I thought I should tell you.

It’s New Year’s Eve and I’m grateful. Grateful for my loving family, grateful I got through the day and that I talked to both my sister and my mother, grateful I can put my nightshirt on soon. I will feel happier when my daughter texts me when she arrives at her destination, moms worry like that, yup, we do.

To all my readers, I am GRATEFUL for you. Thank you for keeping me going, for your comments, for your dedication. I’m about to reach 1,000 posts really soon!!

This would not be complete if I did not acknowledge some very special friends that I feel extremely close to (even though I have never met them in person) These women I feel honored to call my friends and my support system. I actually feel closer to these women than some that live around the block. I mean that with all my heart and as they know, I wear my heart on my sleeve.  Great love and hugs to: Judy/Judith, Maureen, Rosemary, Ash, Michelle, and Tammy. I LOVE all of you. If your name is not mentioned I swear I came to a complete blank. You know who you are, please forgive me and just write your names in here _________________ and ___________________. I apologize.

Wishing you all a HAPPY AND HEALTHY 2013.

WITH LOVE,

From me, Hibernationnow.wordpress.com

Laurie xoxoxo

“Is That All There Is?” Carry On Tuesday

A black Labrador Retriever.

The Bartender (continued from previous post)

When she awoke the next day, disheveled, smelly and still in her work clothes she couldn’t even remember the past night’s events. Or should she say morning’s events since she did not know what time she had stumbled onto her bed, clothed and reeking of alcohol and various old food smells. She sniffed under her arm and could pick up: cilantro, hummus, bean dip, and something smoky and meaty, like short ribs. She started to remember someone had asked her late into the night if she could make them her famous short ribs and she had, using leftover sauces and serving it with a creamy polenta that was on the night’s special menu. It was the last night of her restaurant, the very last night, tomorrow it would be gone, forever.

Was it really the morning, was she really officially closed? Unemployed? ‘Shit,’ she thought, “Yeah,” she grumbled out loud to her black Lab, Lucy, “Fuck.” she said out loud. The television must have been on all night, there was a commercial on to help people stop smoking by chewing some stupid gum. She reached for her pack of cigarettes and lit one not even bothering to listen to the nicotine sponsor ads on television. “Shut-up” she croaked after she inhaled deeply. She threw her clog at the television but didn’t even have the energy to get near, her clog just landed on a pile of dirty laundry on the floor.

She had one arm around Lucy, her dog, a  black labrador receiver wearing a red bandana, and as she rubbed her own eyes from the smoke, her hangover and from the lack of sleep. She turned to her faithful animal and said, “Lucy, I’ve worked in a kitchen since I was sixteen, I’m now thirty-six with no job and no restaurant. Is that all there is? There’s gotta be something more because this shit is not gonna fly.”  Lucy just looked back at her as old, kind dogs do and licked her face. Dogs are great at unconditional love, of course there was no answer for Lucy to give but she knew that, she knew she would have to make a decision soon….just not now, not yet, she wasn’t ready for any new commitments.

She needed time and space away from everyone she knew in the restaurant business and her family. She tried hard to push people away, because in the past, she had learned, that letting people get too close, was like a personal invitation to heartache and she had had enough of that for a lifetime. She stood up,  head in hand, to the shower, muttering and groaning the whole way. She had no idea what she was going to do with her life; she just knew she had to take a step. One step at a time and give herself time to heal.

The Flying Pig Restaurant, Mount Kisco, NY

I’m sad tonight. The realization that my most favorite restaurant is probably closing at the end of the month is becoming a reality. Always a dreamer, I wouldn’t let myself feel that the one place that I have NEVER been served a bad meal was going out of business. This can’t be happening, this just wasn’t any old restaurant, it was “The Pig” as we affectionately called it, where we had family dinners; it was like home only it tasted so much better.

For the many hundreds of you who have read and enjoyed my previous article“The Best Thing I Ever Ate” (Food Network-Holiday Edition please read this. As you know, I love me some GOOD FOOD and yes, we all know I have a soft spot for the sweet stuff. Believe me, I won’t disappoint you here. I promise.

I don’t think Chef Lesley Sutter likes the thought of saying good-bye any more than I do so our great hope is that she will open another restaurant in the near future in the same area soon. I will let you know as soon as I know or check out The Flying Pig’s Facebook Page.

I have never been to a restaurant like this one before, one where no matter what I ordered “I never had a bad meal.” I’ve been talking to other customers lately, sharing our grief and a woman I sat next to said the same exact thing to me. That “it was a restaurant you could count on for having a great meal every time you came.” The salads and sandwiches for lunch are sublime, in particular I loved the Mediterranean Flatbread Sandwich (minus the olives but that’s just me) an incredible blend of hummus, lemon, feta cheese, cucumbers and arugula layered on soft flatbread. The portions were enormous; I always had a big piece left to take home for my daughter. It was a tough choice to choose between that and the local goat cheese sandwich with avocado, celery, walnut pesto, on home-made bread, or a pulled pork sandwich or a veggie burger. You want variety?  There’s ALWAYS variety here! Sometimes I was in a salad mood and would pick from one of their many specialty salads, (chopped salad which included lentils (yum) and blue cheese-if you wanted it, caesar, cobb, salmon etc. always non-fussy but perfectly put together and if you don’t like a certain ingredient, you can ask them to hold it, no one will hate you for it, they are more than willing to oblige. I LIKE that.

Dinner, oh dinner. Once a week like religion, our eyes were trained to read the list of specials they had on the menu every night. Look no further, you couldn’t go wrong if you tried. Some specials included: fish and chips ( I don’t eat fish anywhere but here, it’s light, delicate and served with a wonderful remoulade/tartar sauce),  a vegetarian pasta dish with cauliflower and capers, and other veggies, fresh from the farm, crunchy and not overcooked. There’s a fabulous steak dish, a chicken dish, fish (all types) and heaven help us, sometimes there are braised short ribs. Individual pizzas are also on the menu for lunch and dinner. Say no more, they melt in your mouth. One suggestion: leave room for dessert.

The pastry chef, Shelly Smedberg  first delighted my family with her home-made pop tarts which endeared me to the restaurant forever. I’m not talking your junky variety out of the box pop-tarts, ladies and gentlemen, but home-made equivalents made with fresh fruit and delectable icing on top. I hope to see these babies somewhere, sometime soon because I already miss them. Her home-made pop-tarts are to die for, they are as good as it gets; I ALWAYS want them. Since they are not on the menu all the time (and I don’t know why they aren’t) you can satisfy your sweet tooth with all the varieties of sweet, (love the texture) bread puddings or Classic English sticky toffee pudding, or S’mores to name a few. All, like heaven in a frothy cloud of sweetness.

There is a quality about The Flying Pig I can’t quite describe, it’s the sense of community, the friendliness of the people that go there, the kindness of the people who work there. This restaurant is a group effort, not to mention, it’s  farm-to- table organic, sustainable food restaurant. I have eaten at many high-end, good quality restaurants and I have enjoyed them; they all seem to be missing one simple ingredient that The Flying Pig on Lexington has; I thing that ingredient must be a hefty heaping of pure love.

If I Had My Own Restaurant

Rubber duck

Image via Wikipedia

Cozy, Fun, GREAT FOOD

My restaurant would be called EATS, in big, bold black letters. It would represent the type of restaurant I want to own: Simple, tasty and delicious meals in both small size portions and large portions, even half size portions, all through the day and evening. Diners would be able to mix and match and not have to order a huge portion and then leave leftovers that could feed a family of four for a week. I don’t like being served huge mountains of food; you would get exactly what you want: a filling meal but not a mountain of food. I get turned off when I get served a pasta dish that is so large it is overwhelming, it looks unappetizing and it is wasteful. All untouched leftover food would be connected with local food banks, that would be my personal commitment.

I would have breakfast, lunch and dinner items available all the time. It would be like a diner in terms of menu items and variety but not in terms of style. I want EATS to be cozy and playful; nobody would rush you and I can guarantee you, the food would be fresh and the coffee would be strong. There would always be an ornamental item on every table, sometimes a few twigs in a small silver vase, another time yellow rubber ducklings or miniature pink bud roses, or replicas of small, smiling cows. It would be casual, fun, delicious:  combination sandwiches (I’m drooling) and of course, a huge selection, of home made desserts. Desserts are important to me so there would be home-made chocolate cake with fudge icing, vanilla coconut cake (I’m a vanilla girl) apple/cherry/blueberry crisp, baklava (oh, honey!!!) and rice pudding with raisins. Carrot cake and cheese cake with various toppings would be available too. Stop in, it’s almost open….well, in my dreams, that is. Giada, Paula, Bobby, Chef Ramsey (you are too intimidating for me to call you by your first name) The Donald, Warren Buffet (what a blessing you are to the universe, Sir), Oprah, Rosie….anyone interested in INVESTING?? Please contact me. I guarantee you a great meal. On the house.

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A Food I Was Surprised to Like

Come To Mama

braised short rib

Braised Short Ribs. I have been remiss for so many years for ignoring these delicacies on any menu. I imagined them to be like spare-ribs, tough, chewy and on the bone. What was served to my salivating mouth was a small portion of the softest, succulent beef that I have ever eaten. I didn’t even need a knife to cut these beautiful, tender pieces of beef. A mere touch of a fork made them fall apart in singular strands.They sat next to a small pile of mashed potatoes surrounded by sweet, slightly crunchy, cooked string beans. I would go back to this restaurant in a minute; I would order the same exact thing I just described and I would be a very happy, customer. Again.

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“Don’t Toby Me”

Chocolate Cake

Image by alachia via Flickr

In our house, we have our own kind of language. Our children, we always said, needed to take English As A Second Language when they were younger. Now? It’s a lost cause. My husband and I use a combination of words and phrases we learned from both Viennese and German parents, some real and mostly made up. My husband and I have been married for twenty-two years, we are also guilty of making up many expressions that some might consider “creative.”

I kid you not, my brother-in-law (on my husband’s side) actually published a little dictionary, for amusement, for one Thanksgiving dinner  many years ago. It was the hit of the night. People (mostly my sister) wrote to him begging him to do another edition or to add a phrase or correct one that was there. That dictionary with photos of all of us when our children were tiny is still talked about today. It was so special that there never can be a second edition, that’s how much we love it.

A bit of many different languages are included. Our poor kids used to ask us if a certain word was real or not. There’s really no way of telling but when in doubt, it’s probably not real. However, there is one expression that is famous throughout the family and has extended to close friends, acquaintances and most probably strangers. It started way back in the eighties when my then best friend and I went to dinner at an Italian restaurant in Boston. After finishing our meals, we looked forward, as always, to the main reason we went out to dinner: dessert. I remember that they had a special dessert that was called Cappuchino pie, a mixture of chocolate and coffee, that my old friend loved.  I ordered something else, I believe it was a chocolate layer cake with whipped cream, or as we used to say “real” whipped cream.

Wanting to take a break after dinner since I was getting full, I went to the bathroom AFTER our dessert came but BEFORE I took a bite. When I came back, not two minutes later, there was a BITE of MY chocolate cake missing. That’s right, you heard me. She had tasted my dessert BEFORE I tasted it and that, to me, was inexcusable. I was looking forward to that first bite, yet she ate it while I was in the bathroom. She didn’t ask permission (would so not be granted) she just ate it. Thus, her name being Toby, the expression was born. It lives on to this day and it will always be alive…..

It’s only been about thirty-one years, yet we continue to use and enjoy this expression.  My niece, many years ago, was with a friend of hers and her friend attempted to try something that my niece ordered but hadn’t tasted yet. My niece proclaimed in a loud voice “Don’t Toby Me!” She then explained what that meant to her friend and the phrase continues to be used and enjoyed in various settings by people probably unbeknownst to us.

The friendship didn’t last but NOT for that reason.  Sometimes, many years after an old friendship is over you can still appreciate a tiny detail, a golden nugget of a phrase, way past the expiration date of the friendship. Watch your dining companion closely. If he/she attempts to steal something off your plate BEFORE you have tried it, stop them.  Keep an eye on their fork  and be prepared. If they do it once, they will never do it again and yes, they will learn. The miracle continues. You’re welcome.

p.s. Jerry Seinfeld could have done a whole show on this. Just sayin…..

When Paying Top Dollar Pays Off

Vanilla Slice - Just Fine Food

Image by avlxyz via Flickr

Not Into Shoes, Clothes, Jewelery, Make-Up……

Oh, everyone knows what I am going to say…..GREAT FOOD. It’s only for a celebration, no one (that I know) can enjoy this every day but a couple of times a year? Absolutely!!! I don’t care about shoes, clothes (much to my 16-year-old daughter’s dismay) jewelry or “things.” My only luxury is buying a book but recently I have just been taking things out of the library. My top dollar is probably very different from rich people but it doesn’t matter. Whatever you can afford, a great meal is worth it, but for me, only if you share it with someone you love.

p.s. Dessert options MUST be heavenly.

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Move Over ESL, Cranky Is My New Language

A housecat named Princess who highly disliked ...

Image via Wikipedia

It was one of THOSE days. You know the kind, when nothing goes right, annoying things happen and no matter what you try, it doesn’t help.  Made a decision, did you? Guess what, it was the wrong one. It was the day of Cranky. I spoke Cranky, I lived and ate and breathed Cranky. If I had a cat, her name would be Cranky.  I felt irritable with life’s problematic surprises and unexpected twists and I felt very out of control.

My children doused the only piece of furniture that I love, my green couch, with water guns. No, my children are not 4 and 6 years old, they are 16 and 18.  Need I say more? The couch, that I picked out, and the multi-colored  square rug beneath it have always made me happy. Why? Because it was the first thing that I bought with great strength of style and character; I was so sure about it and didn’t waver; to me, it was my own tiny corner of the Museum of Modern Art, at home.

Later that day we drove to a restaurant to celebrate my husband’s birthday. He got lost again and again. Nor did he have the directions with him, he didn’t NEED that, we had been there twice before, silly me!! When I suggested the GPS, he scoffed. He also made an illegal red turn with the (driving) teenagers in the back seat of the car. I was fuming. Dude, what the HELL were you thinking? You’re supposed to be the role model here. At that moment, fuming and cranky became first cousins.

Once seated in the restaurant our daughter, a vegetarian, asked for the chef’s special vegetable plate and we all knew she wouldn’t touch it. She played with her food and moved vegetables around that included: cooked kale and spinach, and fennel and she ate about two bites for 21 dollars. Before she ordered we suggested she order A SALAD  or pasta but she refused. She knew better and at practically 17 anything we suggest is useless. I even said she might want to tell the waitress the vegetables that she DID like but apparently my idea was stupid. Of course it was.

My husband and son shared a steak the size of a lobster pot, it was so large and bloody, it was hard to even take a glance at it.  I decided to have three appetizers: a buttery bibb lettuce salad with a light yogurt dressing  which was lovely, an appetizer of braised ribs ravioli, sweet and soft, the texture of the braised meat contrasting the delicate ravioli casing.  The red velvet cake I chose for dessert was extremely disappointing and tasteless. For those of you who know me, a dessert I don’t like is equal to a symphony of crankiness.

The heel of my left foot throbbed horribly with pain when I walked, the jabbing pain even woke me up in the middle of the night. Not being able to walk comfortably is crankiness personified. I have iced it, wrapped it, rubbed it and have tried at least ten different shoe and old, peeling orthotic combinations, nothing helps.  I’ve had this before and once it starts it takes a long, long time to go away. It’s a stubborn, stupid, painful, cranky, old ailment for cranky, old, me. It’s not enough that I don’t have energy? Now, I can’t even walk comfortably.

I’m tired as hell and just want to lie on the bed, since every bone and joint in my body is not just aching with pain but screaming with it. There are no medications to heal it, or relieve it, it’s something I have to live with every single day and night of my life. I am trying to stay awake and of course I fall asleep, the lights on, the computer on my stomach. I wake up two hours later, annoyed with myself.

The day and night have not gone well and I was glad it was almost over. I couldn’t sleep after my unexpected two hour nap so my night and day hours were confused. I glanced over at my dog who was sleeping happily at the foot of my bed and I watched her breathe and smile in her sleep.  I look at her with love and feel love. My dog is the anti-cranky.