Thursday, August 29

Autumn Colors


one. H&M skirt - two. Equipment blouse three. Sam Edelman boots 
four. B Brian Atwood bag five. Essie nail polish in "Sole Mate" -

As we get closer to Autumn, I've been gravitating a bit more towards darker colors. That deep reddish purple oxblood shade is one of my favorites. While I'm not quite ready for a change of season just yet, the Summer is never long enough, I can't help it. This outfit inspires daydreams of strolling through Central Park on a sunny day when the air is cool and yellow and orange leaves have just begun to fall from their trees, littering the ground. I long for days like those, but I fully intend to enjoy every last bit of the summer while it's still here. I know that the first cold day I'll be kicking myself, wishing for beach weather. That's how it always is.

Wednesday, August 28

Bananas Foster

After dinner last night I had the idea to make bananas foster for dessert. I wasn't sure how complicated it would be or if I'd have all of the ingredients on hand, so I looked up the recipe and was happy to find that it was actually very simple and quick to make. 
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon banana liqueur
1/4 cup dark rum
2 under ripe bananas, sliced in half lengthwise 

I did not have banana liqueur or allspice on hand so instead we used banana flavored rum (no idea why we have that one in the cabinet) and substituted the allspice with a mix of nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon. 

Instructions:
Melt the butter in a ten inch pan over low heat. Add the brown sugar, allspice (or in my case substitute), and nutmeg and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the banana liqueur and bring the sauce to a simmer. Once at a simmer, add the bananas, sliced in half lengthwise, and cook for one minute on each side, spooning sauce over them as they cook. Remove the bananas from the pan and place on a serving dish. Then bring the sauce to a simmer once again and carefully add the rum. If the the sauce is very hot the alcohol will flame on its own. If it does not catch fire, you are apparently supposed to light it yourself and let it cook until the flame dies out. Our rum did not flame, nor did we light it. Instead we just continued cooking it until it thickened and became a syrupy consistency. You then spoon the sauce over the already plated bananas and serve. Serving with ice cream, crepes, or waffles is recommended. We enjoyed ours with a little bit of peanut butter ice cream on the side. 

In all it took about ten to fifteen minutes to make as we had to wait a little longer for the rum to cook down. This recipe was so delicious and easy to make. And the fact that most of the ingredients are already in your kitchen is definitely a plus. It's a great recipe for a last minute dessert, but I have a feeling we'll be seeing it a little more often now.

Here is a link to the original recipe I found on Foodnetwork.

Monday, August 26

New Orleans, Days 3 & 4

Since everyone and their mother will most likely be talking about how uncomfortable and confusing Miley Cyrus' performance was last night at the VMAs, I think I'll steer clear of all that and leave it at this. Miley, go home, you're drunk.

Instead, let's try to erase those disturbing images of her and her foam finger from our minds with pretty pictures of New Orleans. I present you with days three and four.
Day three of our trip began with a visit to Croissant D'Or, a lovely little French bakery located on Ursulines Street. Our friend Jen highly recommended it and suggested that we try the almond croissants. They did not disappoint, nor did the brioche, chocolate croissants, espresso, or chocolate cappuccino. This little place could give Claude (of Patisserie Claude on W 4th) a run for his money. After thoroughly enjoying our pastries we walked to back towards our hotel to attend the jazz brunch at The Court of the Two Sisters. We sat in the grand dining room as that is where the musicians were. It was too hot to sit outside in their lovely courtyard. The brunch was set up as a buffet so we got to sample a wonderful amount of creole style food that we otherwise would have not gotten to try. JD very much enjoyed his first taste of turtle soup, I could not bring myself to try it, and a giant plate of desserts. My favorite dish was the creole corn salad, it was spicy, but not overly so. The cayenne peppers created a slow burn that didn't linger too long after or overpower the rest of the flavors. I told our server how much I enjoyed it and he brought out the recipe with our bill. Everyone in New Orleans was so sweet.

After brunch we walked over to Saint Louis Cemetery #1 to visit the famous tomb of Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans. We arrived some time after 1pm and the sun was hot. It didn't take long to find her tomb for it is decorated with X's, scrawled on the white cement by visitors in exchange for good luck and wishes. I felt that we should leave something. The experience of visiting a cemetery for sightseeing made me feel uncomfortable so we left her two nickels, my favorite American coin, one for each of us. We continued to wander around the cemetery, feeling somber and reading the names on the tombs. We looked for the tomb of Homer Plessy but couldn't find it. Though the photos JD took while there are beautiful, I do not feel it is appropriate to post them.

We were nearly soaked by the time made it back to Bourbon Street and stopped in one of the many bars to get a hurricane in one of the tall styrofoam cups. It came out as slush, full of sugar and difficult to drink. We carried them back to the hotel but I couldn't stand the taste and stashed mine in the fridge incase I had a change of heart later. I did not. We went up to the pool to enjoy the afternoon sun before our big dinner.

Before we left for New Orleans my mother, cousin, and uncle all insisted that we have dinner at Commander's Palace and I'm so happy that they did. We arrived for our seven o'clock reservation and were greeted at the door by a staff of six or seven. We were then lead through doors marked "yes" and "no", across the kitchen where a happy group sat in a booth, drinking wine and watching their dinner be prepared, through the courtyard garden and to our table in the enclosed dining room. For dinner JD ordered the pecan encrusted gulf fish with a creamy corn sauce and I the fig braised quail with bacon and jalepeno cornbread stuffing. My meal was part of a price fixed menu that included a salad and dessert of my choosing. My salad came at the same time as our appetizer, oysters and absinthe nestled inside a puff pastry dome. JD offered me an oyster in the beginning and the next time I looked up he was on the last one. We were supposed to share the dish but he had quickly forgotten and consumed the entire thing on his own. I reminded him of this and we laughed. He blamed my salad for the confusion but really, anything with a puff pastry is not safe when left in his hands. For dessert we both had the creole bread pudding souffle, which needs to be ordered twenty minutes in advance. Everything was so unbelievably delicious. We highly recommend paying a visit to Commander's Palace.

The next morning, day four, we went back to Croissant D'Or for a late breakfast. They were out of brioche by the time we arrived so I opted for turkey, lettuce, and tomato on a croissant instead and tried some of JD's raspberry and almond croissants too. After breakfast we walked down the street to explore the French Market. On our way back to the hotel the sky opened up. We ducked into shops here and there to stay dry, one of them being the Goorin Brothers Hat Shop. We have been to the one on Bleecker St. and since Julian had been so excited when we told him that there were now shops in New York, we wanted to have a look around. While there the power went out for a few minutes. The workers got nervous and locked the doors but said that the power shouldn't be out for long, the city was on top of the power outages, and they were right. The lights flickered back on minutes later and we continued making our way back to the hotel. Most of the walk was covered but the last stretch to the door was not and by then it was a full downpour. We ran through the doors and went to the room where we had checked our bags at the hotel to dry off and change. We then sat at the storied Carousel Bar until the time came to leave for the airport. The Carousel Bar was so lovely. It was one of the reasons why we wanted to stay at the Hotel Monteleone. It was nice to have a place away from Bourbon Street where people were drawn to, and always a plus to need only to go downstairs to access it. After walking all day, it was nice to be lazy. We met a quite few interesting people there over the course of our stay. My favorite cocktail was the Hemingway daiquiri, JD preferred the Monteleone cocktail.

We both really enjoyed our visit to New Orleans and would like to go back again some day.

Friday, August 23

Sailing at the Speed of Ducks

Tuesday evening, JD and I met up with my friend Mike to go sailing. The wind was forecast to be 9 mph, better than normal for Oyster Bay. We should have been suspicious, especially since Mike had never been sailing with us before. Every time we bring along someone new, the wind performs a disappearing act. Only when Nick comes with us, or when we're alone, does the wind blow. Before we left the dock it didn't seem too bad, a couple of other boats appeared to be making good progress, gliding across the bay so we decided to take our chances. Once we were out of the mooring field the air grew still. I scanned the water for little puffs of wind but nothing came, the water was flat as glass. The sails just hung there, completely useless. At one point, after a tack, I had to pull the jib over by hand. And so we drifted around the bay, sailing at the speed of ducks as JD put it until we eventually made our way back to the mooring field. Mike was not impressed.

Thursday, August 22

White Balance

one. Essie polish in Blanc - two. Alice by Temperley dress three. Joie heels 
four. Loeffler Randall bag five. Juliet & Company necklace -

This isn't an outfit per se, but I do love all of these pieces individually. Lately I have really been into white nail polish. For the longest time I dismissed the trend, thinking that it looked reminiscent of middle school girls dousing their nails in white out while bored in science class. Not a good look. But a few weeks back I watched a film called Save the Date, in which the main character, played by Lizzy Caplan, flawlessly wore a white manicure throughout the entire film. It looked perfect on her, subtle, transitional, and effortlessly cool. I get the feeling that Lizzy Caplan herself is effortlessly cool, she just has that look. Thus I was inspired to give it a try, and I love it. I also love every last detail of this Alice by Temperley dress. It's the perfect balance of modern and 1920's complete with a fringed skirt. Fringe is a fine line to walk, one false step and you end up with that cheap flapper costume look, which is equally as cringeworthy as having white out on your nails. 

On a side note, I really enjoyed Save the Date and highly recommend it. For reference, it has the same sort of feel as Adventureland, which coincidentally also features Martin Starr. 
You can check it out here.

Wednesday, August 21

New Orleans, Day 2 - A Day of Eating

Our first full day in New Orleans we woke up, got ready for the day and walked over to try the famous beignets at Cafe Du Monde. I was less than impressed by the gen. pop. cafeteria feel of the place. The outside seating area was filled with people, some attempting to make there way inside only to be blocked by strollers and confused patrons. We weren't sure how it worked so we snaked our way through the crowd, went inside and stood next to a table that needed to be cleared and waited. No one came. The staff was busy, flying from table to table like bees, little white dishes and coffee cups in hand. I  stared at the menu on the wall. Hickory Coffee. Cafe Au Lait. Beignets, three to a dish. It was limited, yet another surprise for me, at least. We caught one of the servers attention and he came over to clear the table. He took our order before he left. Two dishes of beignets, one black coffee, and one cafe au lait. He repeated our order back to us as if it were too much. "Two orders of beignets?" Yes, two. We hadn't eaten yet and were hungry. Three French doughnuts just wouldn't do for JD, he requires a more substantial meal than splitting with me, though we agreed that six was too much. Minutes later our server returned and set the white dishes in front of us, brimming with powdered sugar. We sat at our little round table in the window until the beignets were gone. 
After breakfast we wandered the streets of the French Quarter away from the tall styrofoam cups on Bourbon Street, making our way towards lunch at the very edge of it on Esplanade. A friend of JD's recommended a place called Port Of Call for the best burgers. The bar was dark and the dining area full when we pushed open the door. We found seats at the bar and took in the scene. Rope nets hung from the ceiling with caught pieces of driftwood strung through with lights. Despite the walk I wasn't hungry for lunch. JD ordered a cheeseburger that came with a side of a loaded baked potato. I can say confidently that everything in New Orleans comes with bacon, and sausage. It would be a difficult city to navigate as a vegetarian. It was here that we found the storied strawberry Abitas, a recipe we will have to replicate next spring. They were lovely. 
Afterward we did some more exploring before heading back to the hotel to soak up the remainder of the hot afternoon sun from the rooftop pool. After unwinding for a couple of hours we got ready again and went out for dinner. We hadn't done much research on where to eat in New Orleans before we left. Our friend Dee sent us with a perfect, detailed list of places she had tried and those she had wanted to when she visited back in October. Then there were the famous places that we had to swear we'd try before we left New York, Cafe Du Monde and Commander's Palace. We had already checked one off of our list and had reservations for the other the following evening. We resigned to checking Yelp for any hidden gems. That is how we found EAT. The reviews said that it was in an old home, and that if chicken fried anything was on the menu that night, it must be tried. By then the air had cooled enough to enjoy the walk and we stopped to take photos along the way. 

The restaurant had a very modern feel with green chairs and chrome furnishings. Drawings and sketches hung from the walls. It reminded me of being at the Greenporter rather than at someone's grandmother's home. I ordered the chicken fried chicken, JD had the cochon with mustard greens and homemade mac and cheese. Everything was delicious. The chicken was perfect, the best I've tasted. It was one of my favorite meals of the trip. 
When we finished dinner a friend and former co-worker of JD's mom, Julian and his wife Jen, picked us up and took us on a tour of the city. They are both such sweet people. And the tour was fantastic. We never would have seen much of the city had it not been for them. The French Quarter is great, but there is so much more to New Orleans than that one little section. Thank you again Julian and Jen for showing us around!

Friday, August 16

New Orleans, Day 1

ASOS Dress & Belt / Mulberry Handbag / Madewell Sandals (on sale!) / 
New Orleans is a place I had been meaning to visit for some time now. There is a little restaurant in Massapequa that serves cajun food called Big Daddy's. JD and I have been going there for years to sip hurricanes (or zombies!) and take in the mardi gras themed decor. Every time as if on cue one of us would say "we really need to go to New Orleans." Every time. Well, we finally made it there last week thanks to a Jet Blue credit left over from Ned and Lana's wedding last June. Getting there was a little more stressful than it should have been. For the first time in my life, I missed a flight. We arrived two minutes too late and could not print our boarding passes. The odds were stacked against us as we usually would have printed them at home, and tried to, only to have trouble with the printer. We arrived at the airport and waited eight hours for the next flight. There are not a lot of things to do in Terminal 5, but we made the best of it, and joked that we would have to write a guide book for others who may find themselves stuck there for a prolonged period. 

We arrived at our lovely hotel, the Hotel Monteleone, in the evening, dropped off our bags and went for a walk down Bourbon Street. I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I've heard a few crazy stories of mardi gras on Bourbon Street, but in August, with temperatures in the nineties, I would assume that it was much less busy than other times of the year when the air does not feel like soup. There were still a fair amount of people, but the streets were not filled. Instead it felt like every shop, bar, or strip club was on display. People stood outside and attempted to usher you inside. It was mostly an uncomfortable experience. We walked up a few blocks, then back, and stopped for dinner at a restaurant called Desire, part of the Royal Sonesta Hotel. Their vintage sign captured my eye and nineteen-twenties decor inside drew me in. I ordered the oysters Rockefeller po'boy and JD had fried catfish. The food was good, I thoroughly enjoyed my sandwich and pulled two small pearls out of it. I can't say I've ever done that before... Afterwards we walked back up Bourbon Street and found a place to sit and watch a band play for a little while before returning to the hotel.

Thursday, August 15

Cold

Who catches a cold in the middle of summer? This girl right here. I think all of the hours spent waiting in the airport, coupled with getting soaked in a New Orleans afternoon downpour the day of our flight home, didn't help my chances. By that point I was already feeling under the weather, and everyone else seemed to have been sick, coughing and sneezing the entire trip. I always find it strange to catch a cold in summer. I associate them with cold weather, but that doesn't stop the cold from coming anyway. Today I am finally feeling better and can breathe through my nose. It's a wonderful feeling. To celebrate JD and I took a walk along the Hudson River this afternoon. 
I still need to go through the New Orleans pictures. I haven't done much with them since my main concentration this week has been regaining the ability to breathe out of my nose.

Tuesday, August 13

North Fork Wine Tasting

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, the weekend before last, JD and I took our friend Kaitlin out to the North Fork of Long Island to do some wine tasting. We brought her to two of our favorite wineries, and one more that we had yet to try. 

One Woman
We started our day at One Woman in Southold. One Woman won me over on our first visit back in February with their hundred plus year old tool shed that doubles as a tasting room. They are a small family owned and operated winery/vineyard that produces predominately white wines. I'm a red wine girl, whites tend to be too sweet for my taste, but not here. I love their Chardonnay Reserve and Gruner Veltliner the most, but all of their wines are delicious. The last time we were there we ended up talking with Gabriella, the owner's daughter, who helped plant all of the grapes. She immediately recognized us and came over to ask how we've been since then. 

McCall
McCall seems to be a more popular winery to visit. Their tasting room resides in a barn with antique tools hanging on the walls and though hay lines the floors in the horse stalls the horses have been replaced with picnic tables. They also have picnic tables set up on the lawn overlooking the vineyard where we sat and had a picnic of cheese and crackers while we enjoyed our tasting. My favorite from the tasting was the Cabernet Franc. 

Shinn Estate
Shinn is one of the places we have to stop at when visiting the North Fork, even if we are just going out to Greenport for the day. Picking up a bottle of wine from Shinn and a raspberry cream pie from Briermere is sort of a thing for us. We didn't get to do a tasting this time as they had a wedding going on, but we did spend a few minutes soaking up the afternoon sun in their new courtyard before getting a bottle of Nine Barrels Reserve Merlot to bring home. I think that's our current favorite from Shinn, but all of their wines are good. 

So, there you have it. If you are looking to get out of the city for the day and go wine tasting, these three wineries are worth the trip. And if you get to Briermere before 5pm, get a pie. You won't regret it.