Soap Box

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Archive for January, 2010

Skiing and more local tourism

Posted by eemilla on January 17, 2010

Last week our skiing trip was so much fun, that I almost forgot why I’ve been speaking so disparagingly about Southeast skiing for the past three or so years; I say almost because Sugar Mountain’s Boulder Dash was rather icy so we refrained from Whoopdedoo altogether.  However, Tom Terrific was in fine shape (even though I did lose my edge and wholly embarrass myself on the my first run down).  Even though the parking lot was packed we really didn’t have any trouble with lift lines until around 1:30 or 2p; however, Sugar was doing their best to slow the entire process down by scanning every single lift ticket at every single lift boarding (I guess this would annoy me a bit less if they had a high speed quad).

See the shiny spots on the right? Those are icy patches.

My honey enjoyed half a Frank’s NY Deli club for his lunch; it’s a bit amazing how much stuff they cram onto one hoagie roll.  As much as it costs to go skiing around here, brown bagging for lunch is the way to go as the resorts serve cafeteria (as in middle school cafeteria) fare at higher than cafeteria prices.

Other attempts to spend money throughout the week were foiled; on the way back from skiing, I was craving ice cream, but Ultimate Ice Cream is closed on Mondays.  I decided to wait until Tuesday; we drove across town only to find they had not opened due to the snow event (I guess I might be the only person who craves ice cream when highs are around freezing).  As we were so far out, I headed to Piazza, only to find they were closed on Tuesday (contrary to their website).  The only remedy I could think of was another round of mulled cider and whiskey, so off to Earth Fare for the cider.  I had also planned on buying another jar of Lusty Monk mustard, but the Co-op and then Earth Fare were both out of the original sin flavor!  We took the hint and refrained from dining or drinking out for the rest of the week.

With the weekend, I rode the bus downtown to the Y, and I was feeling so virtuous for using public transit and exercising that I decided I had to try the LAB.  I was crossing my fingers for a sampler; not only do they have a sampler, but for $5.25 you get six pours (probably 2.5 or three ounces, but a friend said surely four ounces).  Currently they have a Belgian white, a pilsner, an IPA, an American ale, a märzan, and a chocolate stout.  I enjoyed the Belgian white and the chocolate stout the most (although I think I might prefer Green Man’s stout), and the märzan was fine.  I was surprised to enjoy the American ale; of course, neither the pilsner nor IPA struck my fancy.  I perused the menu, but I decided not to order anything.  I was interested in trying their artichoke pizza, but I couldn’t think about mascarpone cheese in a savory application.  The interior is just cool; the bar is a huge glossy, amoeba shaped thing in front of the tanks, and their patio will be great for Lexington Avenue people watching come warmer temperatures.

As I’ve said before I have an insatiable weekly craving for Lusty Monk’s Original Sin mustard so I walked to their downtown location in hopes of eating some pretzels and mustard, but they were closed so I walked down the stairs to Firestorm Cafe and Books.  The cafe is cozy and narrow, but they have window seating facing Commerce and Coxe Avenue.  The crowd was mostly hipster; at one point a guy at the table next to me even called someone in their circle of friends so bourgeois (at least he wasn’t talking on his iPhone)!  Even though I balked a bit the $9 price tag, I ordered their philly.  While the sandwich was good, it wasn’t quite deserving of its price, and unlike most sandwiches it comes sans sides.  Although I couldn’t be certain, the seitan looked and tasted like the seitan I buy at the Co-op, the hoagie could’ve easily come from Sam’s (that would be sadly ironic so I hope it doesn’t), and the aioli was probably garlicky nayonaise; on the other hand I did get a good portion of spinach and avocado.  Nothing about this sandwich was stellar, but it was tasty and fairly filling.  At the counter, they had day old baked goods, and I grabbed a super dark cookie for $1.  It was so rich, chocolaty, and minty; the way it tasted after a day, I know it would’ve been divine straight from the oven with the chocolate chips still gooey.  I’ll be back for their baked goods and maybe a wrap.

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Do some laundry!

Posted by eemilla on January 10, 2010

Petsoup and Brother Wolf Animal Rescue lost their washing machine recently so they are asking for help with laundry.  If you can help them out, just drop by their shop at 31 Glendale Avenue in Biltmore and request a bag.  They’ve promised to sub out their least stinky laundry; the bag I got was definitely of the wet dog smell but nothing worse.  If you feel like your linen closet is overflowing, they could also use any extra linens you might have.  If donating in any of the above ways doesn’t ring your bell then consider working an adoption day or spending time with the shelter dogs.

On a more selfish note, I’m so stoked to go skiing tomorrow, and although I haven’t enjoyed Southeast skiing since I skied the 2010 Olympics courses at  Whistler-Blackcomb, I just know I’m going to have a great time tomorrow.  Here’s a picture of my husband (I obtained consent before posting) as we paused while completing either the men’s or women’s Super G course (aka the Dave Murray Downhill; to see the course on the map click on advanced and the course is the trail that runs from the middle left of Whistler Mountain into Creekside).

I am thankful for snow and winter (and the man who taught me to ski).

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Fennel Onion Tart

Posted by eemilla on January 9, 2010

SmittenKitchen gave me the perfect tart recipe because I had everything aside from enough fennel seeds on hand; the onion tart with fennel and mustard was so easy to throw together the morning before Christmas lunch, and I think it’s going to be my 2010 party recipe.  I did heap on more fennel seeds (a tablespoon plus) and cheese (emmentaler in lieu of parmesan) than the recipe called for, although the increased cheese was inadvertent and disappointing the increased fennel seeds were not.  I also thinned out the mustard with a tablespoon of stock because I was using the hellishly hot Lusty Monk mustard.  The final product provided just a hint of the mustard’s bite, and the fennel provided a sweetish counterpoint.

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Rezaz Redux

Posted by eemilla on January 3, 2010

With the in-laws in town we wanted to take eat out and decided a place that takes reservations was required (so Bouchon was out), and I wasn’t feel like risking a non vegetarian meal (scratch the Admiral) so Rezaz came up and stuck.  Even though it was decided the night before I waited until around 11 am to visit make the online reservation, and I was disappointed that our seven o’clock option was out.  My honey called to confirm OpenTable.com had the best information, and we went with a 7:45 table.  Fortunately Rezaz was busy so our tardiness wasn’t an issue.  We were sat sometime shortly after eight in a nice cozy corner table with two banquette seats and two chairs; the banquette is in front of a drafty (even though heavily draped) window so all the plush pillows weren’t much consolation over the standard chairs.  After much perusing and general discussion, everyone settled on their courses.

My father-in-law went with the arugula salad and six hour lamb, my stepmother-in-law chose butternut squash bisque and unfortunately scallops, which the kitchen ran out of, then the shrimp dish, my husband decided on the lump crab cake and the grouper special with a nice dill risotto, and I felt a four course meal was in order after I had eaten a light breakfast and skipped lunch before a late dinner.  In addition to being hungry, I had a bit of a sore throat so I also went with the butternut squash bisque followed by sweet potato gnocchi and the token vegetarian entree, mushroom rotolo.  I didn’t sample the arugula salad as I usually have it, but I did love the butternut squash bisque; it had plenty of cumin, and the squash flavor wasn’t compromised or subdued by the cream (the serving was also a good portion).  I enjoyed the sauteed gnocchi as much as I usually do, and the rest of the table shared the opinion.  My husband stuck with his crab cake because I wanted the gnocchi and he couldn’t persuade his stepmom to order the crab cake; while the crab cake is the same delectable lump, it has been divided (into two good sized portions) with an Asian slaw in the middle.  I really appreciate Rezaz making changes to the menu without getting rid a favorite item completely (although I don’t think another vegetarian entree or two would hurt).  The rotolo was better this time around with tomato sauce packing a nice sweet and spicy punch.  We also received the complimentary bread, but I think four tops get the same portion as two tops; even with not quite enough to go around everyone had some of my favorite fruity bread.

The drink service fouled our server all night long (otherwise she was professional); I started with a hot toddy, but my promised honey never arrived.  I wasn’t too worried about the absent honey because the whisky, lemon, and hot tea worked enough magic on my throat.  The second slip was a bit more of an issue; my father-in-law ordered a vouvray or French chenin blanc, but we received the sauvignon blanc above it on the menu.  To be fair, our server may not have heard him request the “third chenin blanc” and his finger may have appeared to point to both the sauvignon and the chenin blancs; additionally, the mistake was corrected quickly.  The third error was also the one handled the most unprofessionally.  With my tiramisu dessert I thought a glass of Grand Mariner would be delightful, but my server either disagreed or didn’t want to tell me it was unavailable.  After a bite or two of my dessert, I took a sip of my drink only to discover it was amaretto!  When I complained to the server about it she said they were out of my requested liqueur so they replaced it with a comparable substitute.  Again I am not certain if she was being condescending or just indifferent, but while both liqueurs are made with cognac, orange and almond are not interchangeable tastes.  Even if they were similar, I should have been consulted; if I order Bailey’s or Jameson, I want Bailey’s not Carolans or Jameson not Bushmill.

Overall we did have a nice meal, and I am sure the next time we have family in town we’ll consider eating at Rezaz.

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