Monday, August 31, 2009

Weekend Dinners



We cooked two dinners this weekend mainly because Saturday was a rainy day and we did not do anything special.

Orange glazed chicken - I got an inspiration from another Food TV host the other day, but I forgot to buy concentrated orange juice, so I needed to make with orange juice instead. Honey and soy sauce made a good glaze, while I brined the chicken in the salt water with Thyme for a few hours. It came out very tender and nice orange flavor.

Korean/Japanese style short rib - since it is tough meat, I marinated in my special sauce - soy sauce, minced garlic and ginger, honey, Chinese hot sauce and sesame oil for a few hours (actually before heading to a day trip). I broiled the meat to get a nice charcoal flavor and it came out really good. It was not as tender as rib eye stake we usually eat, but the meat had more flavor I think.

The drawback of these dinners were the smell in the room over night or even for a few days.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday Day Trip



Finally the weather got better today, so we decided to go for a short ride to Stone Barns (Farm) this afternoon.
Very nice drive and the view on the way was beautiful as well (see the video and enjoy the background music by Michael Jackson).
At the farm, we walked around the field and it reminded me of the country side where I grew up in Japan. Many vegetables and flowers are still in the fields, and many tourist (maybe from the city like us) were enjoying country-life like afternoon. I found Asian pear trees, which I have never seen in person. There were bees houses. They have one of the top rated restaurants which uses all the vegetables, fruits, egg, milk (and maybe meat/chicken) grown there.
On the way back, we stopped by at Tarrytown NY and had THREE scoops of ice cream - chocolate with chocolate chips, caramel, and white chocolate with black berry. It was home made and delicious. I have been craving for good ice cream ant it did satisfy my very sweet tooth.

video

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Kosher Diner

It was a typical Friday eating out day to start the "unofficial" last summer weekend for the year. Some of you might have known why we go for Kosher dinner sometimes.
Typical dishes - Pastrami (and corn beef) sandwich with a lot of mustard, stuffed cabbage (really close to "role cabbage" in Japan), and of course Kosher hot dog meaning only beef no pork. Usually they serve pickles - sour and original to start and they were really good. Sorry only pickles picture was saved in my cell phone...
It looks like another rainy weekend thanks to hurricane Danny. I don't think we will go to the beach anymore this year. I miss the BBQ joint we stop by after the beach, but they don't go anywhere, so I need to be patient till next summer.

Friday, August 28, 2009

More about Bagel


Since the bagel was so sensational, I needed to split the entries into two.
Essa (actually not Esse I thought) is located on the 3rd avenue between 50th and 51st streets, so on the way back to the Grand Central station for subway ride to the apt., I had a great shot of Chrysler Building. I posted another one the other day but that was from the bottom of the building and you did not see that much about its unique architecture. This time, you can see its beautiful silver exterior.
I had FOUR extra bagels for my pleasure next week. They are so big and I could not pile all four. I individually wrapped them and they are sleeping in my freezer. I am keeping eye on them, so don't even think about stealing them from my freezer.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Esse Bagel



It has been a while since last time I had bagel from Esse Bagel in mid-town. In my opinion, they have the best bagel in NYC, even though there are so many tourists and people there try to talk to Japanese tourists in Japanese. My office one time was located only a few blocks away, so I ate bagel there a few times a week.
Today we got two sandwiches for two - one multi grain with smoked salmon, cream cheese, onion and tomato, and one cinnamon raisin with tofu raisin walnut cream (vs. cream cheese, so it is a bit healthier). Their bagel's outside is crispy and inside is so chewy, which is good thing as bagel. Since they boil the dough before baking it, the store is always high in humidity.
Once you taste their bagel, you can't buy anything at grocery or at so called bagel store on the street.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Take a Walk in the Evening


It seemed very pleasant outside today, so I decided to take a walk after dinner.
I still felt humidity but it was pleasant indeed. Many people were out enjoying the end of the summer - a good mix of local and tourists.
I found that it is very difficult to take a good shot after dark, but this is what I got. In one picture, you can see the Empire State Building lighted with WHITE color. They change the color time to time, and July 4th was RED, BLUE and WHITE obviously. There was still ice cream vendor and I was so tempted, but I was able to control myself not to have unnecessary 500 calories after dinner.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

More About Brown Stone Houses



I have several favorite buildings in Brooklyn Heights. These are some of them.
This entrance has been renovated last several months. It was originally located for the basement, but they closed the original entrance, and created new one for the 1st floor. You can see that a typical brown stone house entrance is located not at the same level as the street - higher like this or several steps lower. I like higher one since it looks more elegant and you can show off the entrance door, which I really like at this house.
Fire scape always reminds me the movie, Pretty Woman. Richard G. climbed up the stairs to propose Julia R. I dreamed to live in the building which has this (my building has one too) one day. Newer buildings no longer have this unfortunately.
Even we don't have a big space for gardening, people use every inch of space for plants. Look at this building which beautifully decorates the windows with flowers. This side actually does not get the sunshine much, but they cleverly chose the plants which don't need that much sunshine.
Do you enjoy these houses like I always do on the way to the gym?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Another Cooking Day


It has not been a great summer weather wise. It was on and off rainy day today, so we decided to cook meals, vs. go out. Since I got the inspiration from the Italian the other night, I decided to try Chicken Cacciatore - a traditional Italian home cooking I believe.
Basically brown the whole chicken - we used TWO breasts and FIVE legs for this instead, cook the vegetables (onion, pepper and fennel), add white wine, diced tomato and chicken stock, bring the chicken back, and simmer it for one hour.
We ate with brown rice and it was SOOOOO good, especially considering I have never eaten and did not follow the recipe. I can't follow the recipe - measure the ingredient in general (that's why I am not a baker, but I usually get an inspiration - ingredient wise and method/temperature wise.
Don't they look yummy?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Rainy Weekend



This year has been a bit different from others - more rain and not too hot but humid. Today was not an exception. We thought that it could be the last weekend to hit the beach but the weather forecast was not promising per hurricane Bill approaching to New York, so we decided to hang out in the area.
Along Hudson river, there is a good seafood/American restaurant, where we wanted to have a Saturday lunch. When we got there, there was no car in a huge parking lot - bad feeling. Yes, it was NOT open for lunch but only for dinner. At least we got a video for you - you can see weird sky due to the hurricane.
We did not have a backup this time, but a Korean restaurant came to our mind, which we have never been but passed in front of the restaurant a few times. Korean pancake and spicy cold noodle for lunch. Not too bad but not the best Korean either.
A typical American weekend attraction especially in a rainy day - shopping mall was our final destination. Nothing really needed, but I picked up some summer clothes after getting 20% extra discount at Martin+Osa brand. I guess I can still wear shorts even in September, can I?
video

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Italian Dinner



We tend to go out for Friday dinners. Today it was an Italian night. You can find Italian restaurants anywhere in New York - every town has one or two and everyone has his/her favorites, but the one we went to today was one of our "go-to" Italian restaurants in the Bronx. You might not have an image that there is a good Italian restaurant in the Bronx, but actually there are many Italians living there and there is the famous Arthur avenue where you can find a lot of authentic Italian restaurants and grocery stores.
All the customers looked like Italian (or at least partially) along with the servers. We got our favorite, I don't remember the name but technically chicken cutlet with tri-color salad over it, which is very refreshing. The other one was veal scalipini (white wine sauce with pickled hot pepper and mushroom). They served bread with Olive in, which is good for the first bite but a bit too salty for my taste.
Do you feel like you had a short trip to Italy?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Great Article - Brooklyn Bridge

(Sorry no picture today since I have been busy on the work)

I am not sure I have mentioned about the bridge - Brooklyn Bridge here yet, but there is a great article about the trip from Manhattan to Brooklyn Heights in today's the New York Times.
When I have friends/family from outside of the city (international and domestic), I usually invite them to cross the bridge. My itinerary is different from the one in the Times and it starts from Brooklyn Heights.
After having a cup of coffee and pastry (outside) or toast (at apt.), we start our walk towards the bridge - don't eat too much breakfast because there is a goody waiting for you at the end of the bridge.
Enjoy the spectacular view from the bridge while walking over it - while many people start from Manhattan, and they can't enjoy the view as much as MY route.
After close to 30 minutes of walk from my apt., it is time to head to China town for Dim Sum.

I have to take some pictures of this route sometime so you know what I am talking about...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Shooting in Brooklyn Heights

This is a bit old picture but I totally forgot to post this topic.
Since the buildings in Brooklyn Heights are so beautiful - in and out, and the park gives the best view of Manhattan, Brooklyn Heights is often used as TV and movie location. This time I ran into the trailers who were shooting a popular TV show - Gossip Girl on WB at the Packer School, a famous private school in Brooklyn Heights. Unfortunately I was not able to see any actors this time, but I heard that there were shooting some scenes for this upcoming season at the inside of the school.
Beside of this shooting, I ran into a movie by Twilight star and a hit TV series Ugly Betty was there the other day as well.
You can run into the actor/actress living in this area and they are not snobby when you say "Hi".

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Street Fair

On the weekends during the summer in New York, there are many street fairs popping up everywhere. I ran into one of them this Sunday on the way to the dentist on the Madison avenue. It was a huge one and you can see many food vendors - corn, BBQ, Italian sausage, hot dog, burger and Italian ice, and other types - jewelry, paintings and T-shirt shops.
I did not have time to enjoy it this time, but when we have one close to my apartment on Atlantic avenue in Brooklyn, I am sure we will be there and are having some Italian sausage and enjoying the street entertainment.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Test Drive



She is finally here - I am talking about our new car Lexus IS. Isn't she sexy? We had been looking for our new car for a few months, and finally we got her last Friday.
As our test drive, we went to New Canaan in Connecticut where all the rich people live. There are only European brands or Japanese luxury brands on the street, but our Lexus even stood out from the crowd.
Chinese for lunch, which was surprisingly good even though it seemed more Thai/Vietnamese and there was no Asian except me eating at the restaurant.
To finish the weekend, we cooked for dinner with some wine/coctail...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Few More Pictures from the Trip


I found a few more good pictures from the trip.
On the last night, we went to a French bistro for dinner, recommended by a person at the hotel. We started our dinner with pomegranate martini, which was delicious even thought $10.5 seemed too expensive. Food was OK and good enough to conclude our great vacation.
It was the departure day, as usual we had breakfast on the porch by overseeing the ocean. You can see how much green is surrounding this place even though it is less than 5 minutes from the beach - technically you can see the ocean in this picture.
Overall a great trip and we are sure we come back again and again.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Another Weekend Started

It's already Friday, even though I am writing this on Saturday morning. It was a busy week and I feel very tired from the vacation and the work.
I stopped by at the European style market located in the Grand Central station in mid-town. They have several stores - produce, meats, fish, prepared foods and bread. I got some vegetables for the dinner. I used to use this market more often on the way back from the office in the city, especially the meat shop which has a great selection of steaks.
To rest my stomach from the vacation, our dinner was very lighter side - cold noodle with sesame sauce with vegetable salad (no meat or fish today).
Have a good weekend, everyone!!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Trip to Maine - Part 2/2



Sorry about having a few days since last posting. I was busy once I came back from the vacation and I was actually in Philly for a day yesterday.
Anyway, back to the vacation. Where did I leave last time... I guess I can start from the 2nd day, which was HOT, even though it was much cooler than that in NYC I heard. Of course we went to the beach after the breakfast at the porch. There were already a lot of people but since the beach was so wide we did not feel that it was that crowded. I usually don't go in the water since for some reason salted water gives me some sort of allergy reaction, but this time was a different story - we had a pool only 5 minutes away to wash it down. I really wanted to swim in the ocean but it was REALLY cold, below 60 degree, so going up to waist was the best I was able to do. Overall, I really enjoyed the time at the beach.
In the afternoon, we just hanged out at the pool, which was great - not too hot, not too cold to take a nap.
Since lobster is so famous in Maine, we needed to have some, even though we are not a big fan of it. Lobster rolls with rum punch - a good combination to finish the day.
video

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Trip to Maine - Part 1/2



We usually go to a short/small vacation during the summer time - between July 4th and Labor day, and this year we chose Maine's Yorks beach as our destination. It is about 5 hours drive by going through New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine states, yes FIVE states.
On the way to this small town in ME, we stopped by at a seafood joint in MA (about 3 hours from NY). Fresh seafood's deep fries, which were good but a bit too much for lunch.
A video was taken when we were passing the bridge from NH to ME, 30 minutes to the destination.
This town was beautifully situated and there were many tourists like us enjoying the beach, shopping and dining - of course seafood. It was a bit cold (yes, cold in August) when we arrived, but you can still see the beautiful beach with many people enjoying it.
Through the shops and restaurants, there was a pretty garden where you can see boats at the dock behind it. Many people were enjoying their dinner outside despite a cool night.
video

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Chicken Dinners

I don't follow recipes because I don't like to measure the ingredients and because I think I have a good "sense" of foods.
We got a few pounds of chicken breasts, so I roasted all after marinading them. First dinner was grilled chicken (picture attached), which was moist and tasty. Of course we could not finish all the chicken, so I had still more than one pound of grilled chicken left.
Saturday lunch was chicken salad with celery sandwich. We used raisin challah bread (egg bread), which was bit sweet and good with the salad I made.
Saturday dinner - we still had a few chicken breasts left, so I made the pasta with arugula and tomato in the lemon sauce with lemon zest. It was really good. Using zest was very new to me when I came to the states, but it gives more flavor than its juice.
I have a few TV chefs I like - Ina Garten who lives in Long Island New York. She is called as Bare Foot Contessa. She is smart, elegant and the food she cook is always easy to make but has class. (http://www.foodnetwork.com/barefoot-contessa/index.html)

p.s. We are on vacation to Maine from tomorrow, so I might not update this blog until we get back on Wednesday. I will give you the updates with pictures so stay tuned...

Weekend Starts Right NOW...



It is (was) Friday, and I was heading to north out of the city after seeing a dentist in the midtown. Subway system covers almost all the areas in the city, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx (but no subway in Staten Island), but if you go north out of the city, you need to take a train. The Grand Central Station is the starting point for all the destinations, except long distance ones.
It was Friday afternoon so many people after work (during summer many companies allow the employees to leave early or even off on Fridays) and people heading to their vacation destination were at the station.
I feel like I am going away when getting out from the city by a train even it is only 30 minutes ride and it makes me excited and relaxed at the same time. The view from the window changes dramatically only after 10 or 15 minutes...
Don't forget to check the video... I was passing the Bronx and the lady was collecting the tickets at the end.
video

Friday, August 7, 2009

Good Start

Typical morning routine - wake up around 7:30 without any alarm set, boil the water for coffee, and set the bread in the toaster...
Depending on the day or type of the bread I have, I have several combinations of topping - peanut butter and jelly, cream cheese and jelly, butter, butter and jelly, nutela (Hazel nut spread), butter and honey, and sometime I make grilled cheese sandwich.
This morning was the most typical combination, peanut butter and jelly more specifically raspberry jam. It is the most popular sandwich for kids in the U.S. but this combination was/is not seen in Japan maybe because we didn't/don't have peanut butter itself, except the one which is super sweet and not peanut butter but peanut spread. I learned this when I was in Japan from my English teacher, whose favorite was this combination more specifically grape jelly. Speaking of peanut butter, there are two types - smooth and chunky, and I like chunky over smooth for sure. This gives me an energy to get going for the day.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Midtown Manhattan


There are several sections in the city - SOHO, China Town, Upper East, Upper West and on and on. I call somewhere on 40s and 50s Midtown, even though they might have more specific names depending on where on 40s or 50s. On the way to the office I got these two pictures - Chrysler building standing in front of the Grand Central Station, and the 3rd avenue.
I had a party on the top floor in Chrysler building one time, which has been closed for public, and I was able to open the window there surprisingly by considering how tall that building is. It was one time the tallest building in NYC before the Empire State building was built.
3rd avenue consists of the mixture of commercial and residential buildings - famous ones include the lipstick building.
Midtown is totally different from Brooklyn Heights even though it is only 20 minutes by subway. Can you imagine to live in the area like this?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tasting the Summer



On the way back from the gym, I stopped by at the farmers market this morning. I wanted to buy some vegetables and fruits for the week, and I ended up with more than I needed - donut peaches, cucumbers, tomatoes, and corn. I have to believe that the taste of majority of fruits in Japan is far better than that in the U.S., but this donut peach (I think it is available in Japan as well) is not too bad, even though you have to pay the premium - $4 per pound vs. $2.5 per pound.
Majority of the produce are more expensive than what you can buy at a grocery store, but they are so fresh and you can see the different in appearance and of course in taste.
Do you smell these fruity sweet peaches?

Final Product - Brisket

Here is the final product of brisket. This time with brown rice, but it could be mashed potato, noodle like pasta, or other grains.
The meat was tender and the vegetables absorbed all the juice, so they were VERY good. Worth to wait for a day to see this final product?